Utilities and drivers

Apple issues MacBook Pro black-screen fix for Snow Leopard

One ongoing problem that has been affecting users of the 15-inch mid-2010 MacBook Pro is a black-screen bug that appears regularly when the computer is performing tasks like waking from sleep and manipulating graphics. While this problem became more prominent once OS X Lion arrived, a number of people have reported encountering this in Snow Leopard as well.

The issue was acknowledged by Apple and users were assured a fix was in the works. Shortly thereafter Apple released a MacBook Pro video update that included new video drivers and an update to the OpenCL framework in OS X. This update … Read more

Apple issues SMC update for MacBook Pro systems

Apple has released an update for its latest MacBook Pro systems that resolves an issue where systems running under wall power may unexpectedly shut down under heavy workload if the battery is at low levels. Apple does not specify exactly what revisions of the MacBook Pro this update is for, but it will only install on those for which it applies.

The update is a small 730KB download either from Software Update or from the Update's Web page, and requires OS X 10.6.8 or OS X 10.7.2 or later. The update will require you to … Read more

Growl now costs $2--and that's just fine

Growl, a widely used open-source notification tool that lets Mac OS X applications tell users about events such as incoming instant messages, is no longer free.

And not everybody is happy about that.

Starting with version 1.3, Growl became a $1.99 purchase. Growl developer Chris Forsythe described the changes this way yesterday:

Growl as a paid application allows for good changes. We now have people working on Growl full time. Money earned through purchases in the App Store go directly to benefiting Growl...Without changing to this paid Growl model, Growl would have died off and would no … Read more

Apple releases Java update for Lion and Snow Leopard

Apple has released an update to its Java runtime for OS X, which is available for OS X Lion and Snow Leopard operating systems. The updates address some "reliability, security, and compatibility" issues involving the current Java implementations in these operating systems, if people have chosen to install them.

The largest fixes in this update address problems where code in Java applets could be run outside of the Java sandbox and thereby compromise the security of the system. Sandboxing is a method of isolating running code that has received a bit of attention recently.

Starting with OS X … Read more

Parallels update offers new ways to install Lion and Windows

If you plan on running multiple operating systems on your Mac, one route you can take besides a direct installation like Windows in Boot Camp is to use a virtual machine, which installs the OS within OS X so it and its applications will run alongside your OS X applications.

There are several virtualization options for OS X, including VMware Fusion and Parallels Desktop, both of which offer robust solutions for running multiple operating systems that integrate the guest operating system well with the Mac OS. Recently, Parallels released an update to its latest version of Parallels Desktop that, in … Read more

Apple updates Aperture, printer drivers

In the last couple of days Apple has released updates for EFI firmware to address Thunderbolt compatibility issues, as well as iPhoto to fix a crash with third-party video codecs. Today Apple continues its latest round of updates with updates for both Aperture and its support for the latest printers from HP and Epson.

As with iPhoto, the Aperture update is just a point release (Version 3.2.1) that resolves a few issues with the program, including the following:

Resolves an issue that could cause Aperture to quit unexpectedly at launch on Macs with Core Duo processors Addresses problems … Read more

Astrid for iOS released today

There are ton of to-do-list and task management options in the iTunes App Store, but a longtime favorite for Android users was just released today for iOS, and it might be just what you're looking for to help you get things done.

Astrid for iPhone is a to-do-list and task management app that keeps the interface simple, but offers social elements that let you share tasks with friends and family in unique ways. You can add friends to shared tasks, for example, so planning a social event is an ideal use for Astrid. The app is organized with four … Read more

How to improve Windows 7 Explorer

It stands to reason: the less software you have on your system, the lower the risk of software conflicts.

Windows 7 is complete enough to not need any added helper programs. The Windows Firewall, Security Essentials, Windows Update, and other components of Windows 7 are sufficient to keep your machine running smoothly and virus-free.

(Technically, Security Essentials is freeware supplied separately by Microsoft, but I consider it part of the operating system.)

In the past, I have recommended free file-management programs for Windows Vista and XP to replace or enhance Windows Explorer. Windows 7 Explorer is not a big departure … Read more

WinZip goes social, postal for its sweet 16

When will Facebook get an app that connects it to one of the oldest archiving utilities around is one of the questions that "The Social Network" movie left disappointingly unanswered, but the new WinZip makes up for it. WinZip 16 (download), released today, not only lets you pack up your files into a tidy compressed box, it also provides a one-click method for sharing them either by e-mail or onto your Facebook "wall."

The features, called ZipSend and ZipShare, aim to bring WinZip into the 21st century and get it to compete with similar small-scale file-distributing … Read more

Apple readies iCloud for the masses

Apple is planning to launch its cloud-based storage and syncing service, iCloud, to the public today, but so far, only some folks are able to log in.

Users who have an Apple ID and go to iCloud.com to sign in to the service will be unable to use the service for now, unless they have a developer account. The full rollout is expected to occur sometime later today.

Once users are in iCloud, they can view, add, or change Contacts, input events into Calendar, and store documents in the cloud with the help of the platform's iWork application.… Read more