Fix poor Retina MacBook Pro graphics performance

Some Mac users are finding that some of the latest MacBook systems from Apple are sometimes showing drastic drops in graphics performance, which are particularly notable when playing graphically intensive applications like video games.

While at first launching the game will show the expected smooth performance, it may suddenly drop to a very low frame rate and be essentially unplayable. Usually when systems drop to low frame rates it suggests they are being overworked for some reason and are struggling to make the computations necessary for smooth gameplay, and as a result will usually be relatively hot as the graphics … Read more

Apple targets Wi-Fi trouble with EFI firmware updates for 2012 Macs

Apple has released three EFI firmware updates for some of its Mac systems that were released in 2012, which tackle a number of issues pertaining to sleep, Thunderbolt performance, and -- more relevantly to many users -- reliability of Wi-Fi connectivity.

The first update is a Wi-Fi update for all late 2012 Mac systems that improves compatibility with 5GHz-band Wi-Fi signals.

The update includes a new version of the AirPortBrcm4311.kext kernel extension. This update is specific for those running OS X 10.8.2 build 12C2034 (you can look this up by clicking the version number of OS X … Read more

Apple's iCloud lock for Macs is not very secure

One feature in Apple's iCloud service for OS X is its lock option, which allows you to remotely set a PIN for your Mac through iCloud's Find My iPhone service, and require that it be entered to boot the system.

This lock is similar to a firmware password for securing Mac systems. Not only does it prevent booting to alternative boot modes such as Safe Mode or Single User Mode, but it prevents loading in special hardware modes like Target Disk and Internet Recovery so the hard disk cannot be wiped or otherwise accessed.

Unlike the firmware password, … Read more

Apple fixes Mac Mini video flicker with firmware update

Apple has released a firmware update that addresses a problem in which displays would flicker to black when used with the 2012 Mac Mini.

The problem, which we reported on in late November, was assumed to be related to one outlined by Intel involving its integrated HD 4000 graphics and a rumor arising from statements made by Intel representatives (which were later changed) that this was a driver-based issue that had been fixed and it would only be a matter of time for manufacturers like Apple to test and release updated drivers.

Rather than drivers, however, yesterday Apple issued an … Read more

Apple zaps Thunderbolt glitches with firmware update

Apple has released a new update for 2012 MacBook Pro systems that fixes problems with the handling of bus-powered Thunderbolt devices.

Thunderbolt is the next-generation I/O technology that Apple is implementing in its Mac systems, which allows very high-bandwidth communication between devices, and also allows for expansion of the PCIe (PCI Express) bus as well as carrying the DisplayPort signal for external monitors.

As Thunderbolt is relatively new, some bugs are bound to crop up in various implementations, and with the MacBook Pro systems produced in mid-2012 it's been found that some bus-powered Thunderbolt devices may not work … Read more

Compelling PS Plus game collection and firmware headed to Vita

Next week, Sony's PlayStation Vita gets a much-needed shot in the arm as the company has revealed a selection of games for PlayStation Plus subscribers and new firmware that adds some mildly exciting new features to the handheld gaming gizmo.

After months of teasing, the upcoming PlayStation Plus ($49 a year) game collection for the Vita arrives on November 19. The first set of PS Plus Vita games includes Uncharted: Golden Abyss; Jet Set Radio HD; WipEout 2048; Gravity Rush; Tales From Space: Mutant Blobs Attack; and the PSP version of Final Fantasy Tactics: The War of the Lions. Many of those titles are top-tier gaming experiences and currently cost more than $30. … Read more

EFI firmware protection locks down newer Macs

With Apple's firmware password feature on Mac systems you can lock down the options to select an alternative startup disk, boot to Safe or Single User modes, reset the PRAM, and otherwise start the system in ways that can bypass the security features of OS X.

However, as a security measure the firmware password has been met with some criticism because it could easily be bypassed by someone who has physical access to the system. In earlier Intel-based Macs the firmware password was stored in the PRAM of the system, and was simply read by the system's EFI … Read more

Canon 5D Mark III update to unlock high-end HDMI video

Canon plans to release a notable firmware update to its high-end EOS 5D Mark III in April that will let videographers use the SLR to record uncompressed HDMI video.

As the successor to the 5D Mark II that jump-started the video SLR revolution four years ago, the 22-megapixel 5D3 has big shoes to fill. The new update surely will help professionals who need better quality, even if ordinary folks need not care much. Here's what Canon had to say about the news:

When shooting video, HDMI Output makes possible the recording of high-definition uncompressed video data (YCbCr 4:2:… Read more

Use the Calculator to reveal a Mac's firmware password

A firmware password on Mac systems locks the hardware to prevent booting to alternative modes that could bypass OS X security, but in order to access some of these modes you first have to disable the firmware password. While this can be done using Apple's Firmware Password Utility on the recovery drive or OS X installation disc, there may be times when you do not have access to this drive either because it is missing or corrupted, and therefore cannot use the password utility.

Unfortunately in these cases for newer Mac systems shipped in 2011 or later, you have … Read more

How to set a firmware password without rebooting in OS X

Even with robust security software installed on a Mac system and Apple's efforts to prevent unwanted tampering, someone with brief physical access to your Mac can bypass security measures by booting to alternative volumes or loading in Single User mode. If this concerns you, you might consider locking the system's firmware.

Locking the firmware prevents the system from accepting boot arguments and loading in modes that might allow access to sensitive data. These include Single User mode, in which the system drops you to a command line with root privileges, and Safe mode, in which nonessential and third-party … Read more