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by Tom Nelson

Across my desk this morning came word of a vast new security vulnerability dubbed Shellshock (CVE-2014-6271) that can easily allow ne’er-do-wells the opportunity to have Terminal execute code when launched.

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Screen shot © Coyote Moon, Inc.

On the surface, and as shouted to high heaven by the security group that issued the report, this vulnerability is huge, perhaps bigger than Heartbleed, which made the security rounds last April. In essence, Shellshock would allow any device running one of the many forms of Unix, including OS X and Linux, to have code executed whenever a user invokes the Bash shell, or in the case of OS X, launches Terminal.

Read more on About: Macs.

by Tom Nelson

The back-to-school shopping period, which runs from July 4th through Labor Day, is watched very closely by the computer and technology industry, with all tech companies hoping to make inroads among students returning to school.

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Image courtesy of Apple

This year, according to the NPD Group, Macs and Chromebooks led the computer market segment, with each picking up significant shares at the expense of Microsoft, which saw overall declines in the PC market.

Devices running the Chrome OS saw the biggest uptick, with a 37 percent growth year-over-year, moving from 3.3 percent of the market last year to 4.5 percent this year. Devices running OS X saw a 14 percent uptick year-over-year, with 24.3 percent of the market in 2013 and 26.8 percent in 2014.

Devices running Windows saw an overall decline once again, dropping from 72.3 percent in 2013 to 68.4 percent in 2014.

Read more on About: Macs.

by Tom Nelson

There has always been a trade-off in allowing web sites and third-party advertisers to store cookies in Safari, or for that matter, any browser. Most of us are already aware of the security and tracking implications that come with accepting cookies, but there’s a third issue to be aware of: the overall performance of your web browser, including how it interacts with some of your favorite web sites.

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Screen shot © Coyote Moon, Inc.

Cookie Corruption Leads to a Poor Safari Experience

If you let your web browser store cookies over a long period of time, a number of bad things can happen. A large collection of cookies can take up more hard drive space than you might think. Cookies eventually get out of date, so they’re not only taking up drive space but also wasting it, because they’re no longer serving any purpose. Last but not least, cookies can become corrupt from Safari lockups, power outages, unplanned Mac shutdowns, and other events. Eventually, you’re likely to find that Safari and some web sites no longer work well together, or work together at all.

Read more on About: Macs.

by Tom Nelson

Jack March report points to the much-anticipated 12-inch MacBook Air being available in Space Grey, Silver, and Gold, but not making an appearance until mid-2015.

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Image courtesy of Apple

More interesting to me was his comment that the current MacBook Air ports would be replaced with USB Type-C connectors. The new USB connector, which was just recently approved by the USB 3.0 Promoter Group, is much smaller than current USB 2 or USB 3 ports. It also supports reversible cable connections, letting you plug devices together without worrying about connection orientation.

One of the many speculations about the 12-inch MacBook Air is that it will have a thinner body than either of the current Air models. If this is true – and I have to think that with Apple’s drive to slim things down, the new Air will indeed be skinny – then the current USB 3, MagSafe, and Thunderbolt ports may all be too big to fit.

Read more on About: Macs.

by Tom Nelson

We’re slowly seeing 2014 versions of Mac products enter the refurb store. Last week it was a 2014 MacBook Air, and this week it’s a 2014 iMac. While we celebrated the MacBook Air, the 2014 21.5-inch iMac is nothing to write home about.

Not too long ago, this model of the iMac would only have been available through the Apple Educational channel, as a low-cost option for schools to purchase in large quantities. My recommendation is to pass it by and look for a 2012 or 2013 iMac instead.

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Screen shot © Coyote Moon, Inc.

Deals of the Week

Our deals of the week remain the same as last week, with a 2014 11.6-inch MacBook Air, which is being offered for $130 off the current retail price, and a 2012 15-inch MacBook Pro with a 500 GB hard drive.

Read more on About: Macs.

by Tom Nelson

Arq is an online backup app from Haystack Software. Unlike many online backup systems, Arq doesn’t provide cloud-based storage. Instead, it works as a front end to existing storage systems.

Arq

Image courtesy of Haystack Software

Arq works seamlessly with Google Drive, AWS (Amazon Web Services), SFTP (Secure File Transfer Protocol) servers, Greenqloud, DreamObjects, or any S3-compatible storage system. One of the really nice aspects of Arq is that by allowing you to decide which cloud storage system you want to use, you can choose the system with the feature sets that will best meet your needs. A good example of this is combining Arq with Amazon Glacier, an S3-based service that has exceptionally low storage costs, as low as $0.01 per GB/month.

Read more on About: Macs.

by Tom Nelson

Weekly Mac news roundup for the week of September 19, 2014.

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Image courtesy of Apple

Apple stakes out claims to security and privacy with its newest devices and operating systems. We also look at the probability of new Macs making a fall appearance, plus a Tim Cook interview.

Read more on About: Macs.

by Tom Nelson

It was quite a busy Thursday for Apple, with the launch of a new web site, the release of a new version of Safari, and its CEO penning an open letter to the Apple community. What united all of these activities? Security and privacy.

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Image courtesy of Apple

New Security and Privacy Web Site

Apple has always had a web page with details about its security and privacy policies. Customers usually stumble upon this information when looking through licensing agreements or reading the fine print on a new Apple app or service.

Apple took its privacy and security policies and placed them on their own web site, front and center, for all to read. This change is as much about marketing as it is about protecting your privacy. But that’s not to say the outcome isn’t good for Apple users.

Read more on About: Macs.

by Tom Nelson

AppleInsider is reporting that Apple is planning a media event for mid to late October, with the 21st being a likely date. Citing an internal source from Apple, AppleInsider claims that there are project schedules for various groups within Apple that all have a mid-October deadline.

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Screen shot © Coyote Moon, Inc.

This makes perfect sense if the goal of the projects includes a product introduction at a late October media event. AppleInsider says its source is reliable, and I have no reason to doubt the unknown source or AppleInsider, as this information falls right in line with what is traditionally a time for Apple to make product announcements.

As for the products that will be seen on stage, it goes without saying that OS X Yosemite will be there, and likely a couple of new iPad models. Apple will likely be showing off iOS 8 on the iPads and OS X Yosemite, which has quite a few iOS 8 integration capabilities, including Handoff, that fundamentally change how a Mac, iPad, and iPhone work together. In the past, you simply synced basic app data, such as mail, contacts, and calendars. With Handoff, you can stop your work on one device, and pick up right where you left off on another; no files to sync, no apps to upload a document to the cloud and then download it; you’re right where you left off, ready to continue working.

Read more on About: Macs.

by Tom Nelson

Apple’s Mac lineup is showing its age in a few spots; even the Mac Pro, which we tend to think of as new, will see its one-year anniversary in December, only a few months away.

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Image courtesy of Apple

It’s probably easier to list the Mac models that are current, and that I would have no qualms about buying today.

MacBook Pro With Retina DisplayThat’s it. There’s only one family of Mac products that are genuinely current, that I would have no hesitation whatsoever about walking into an Apple Store and walking out with a MacBook Pro tucked under my arm.

For all the rest of the Macs – iMac, Mac mini, Mac Pro, MacBook Air – I would stop, at least for a moment, to consider whether their status is current, soon to be updated, or perhaps soon to be eliminated.

Read more on About: Macs.

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