Google’s Native Client security contest found (minor) flaws

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Google is working on an experimental project called Native Client (NaCl) that aims to provide support for securely executing native code in Web browsers. Google released its NaCl prototype under the open source BSD license last year and launched a contest to encourage security researchers to look for vulnerabilities. The contest results, which were announced on Tuesday, uncovered several security issues that Google is working to resolve.

NaCl provides a sandboxed runtime environment for portable x86 binaries. Google also makes available a custom build toolchain based on GCC that can be used to compile existing C code into NaCl executables. These executables can then be embedded in Web content to make their functionality accessible through JavaScript. The value of NaCl is that it lets Web developers use native code on the client side for performance-sensitive operations, such as video encoding, that are too heavy for JavaScript. Google contends that NaCl’s advanced code validation features and sandboxing make it significantly more secure than similar technologies, such as ActiveX.

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EXDXF-Pro 3.05 – Convert CAD DXF files to Adobe Illustrator or vice versa.

EXDXF-Pro3 provides you with the capability to import CAD standard DXF files to Adobe Illustrator, and to export AI files to CAD, allowing you to make your data compatible in both applications. Illustrator CS4 includes basic DXF/DWG import and export functions, but the translator of Adobe Illustrator may not recognize or convert lines, curves and objects as you desire in every case.
EXDXF-Pro3 can export and import to bridge Adobe Illustrator with the CAD environment to output DXF files with beautiful and accurate curved lines based on its own smoothing technology. It is the perfect tool for operators who work with both CAD and Adobe Illustrator!

Safari 4.0.2 released

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Fire up Software Update, Apple just released Safari 4.0.2!

As usual, the release notes are extremely informative (laugh), stating:

This update is recommended for all Safari users and improves the stability of the Nitro JavaScript engine and includes the latest compatibility and security fixes.

Looking a the actual security announcement, this is is one update you’re going to want to install. One of the security fixes addresses potential cross-site scripting attacks, via WebKit’s handling of parent and top objects. The other fix addresses memory allocation for numeric character references, which if exploited, could allow arbitrary code execution or application termination after visiting a malicious site.

These issues affect Mac OS X and Windows XP and Vista, so everyone, download your Safari updates!

As usual, you will have to restart your computer after installation.

TUAWSafari 4.0.2 released originally appeared on The Unofficial Apple Weblog (TUAW) on Wed, 08 Jul 2009 17:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Black and blue and loads of fun: BlazBlue reviewed

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For an entire generation of gamers, two-dimensional fighting games occupied a large portion of our formative years. Many of us were part of that teenage generation that horrified adults, pumping our allowances into arcade cabinets as we mastered the moves for games like Street Fighter, Marvel vs. Capcom, and Darkstalkers. Of course, arcade cabinets gave way to home consoles, and 2D games seemed to fall by the wayside in lieu of titles with 3D capabilities, which never seemed capable of matching the speed and frenetic pace of their predecessors.

The Xbox 360 has had a noticeable lack of such titles available, but this has been a good year overall for fans of the genre, as titles like Street Fighter IV, Super Street Fighter II Turbo Remix, King of Fighters XII, and BlazBlue: Calamity Trigger have hit the market. However, BlazBlue, which landed in stores last week, might be the leader of the current pack.

As opposed to most fighting games coming out for the current generation of consoles, BlazBlue doesn’t feature any 3D graphics. Instead, everything seems hand-drawn/animated, and every part of the game is simply stunning. Characters, environments, and cutscenes all look fantastic, and anyone who likes game art would be well-served to pick up a copy of the title. Of course, this isn’t surprising since BlazBlue was created by Arc System Works, the studio behind the equally stylish Guilty Gear series.

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Apple continues to ascend Fortune 500 ranks

For the fourth year in a row, Apple has continued to climb Fortune’s list of the 500 largest companies across the globe. The company first entered the bottom of the ranks at 492nd in 2006, before climbing to 337th last year with $24 billion in revenues. Apple this year ascended to 253rd with over $32 billion in revenue….



Sprouts Adventure 1.0 – The Sprouts need your help and guidance game.

Oh Great One! Only a few Sprouts remain and they are in need of your help! Use your powers to guide them in returning to their once peaceful and prosperous existence. Fulfill wishes, help them invent wonderful toys to play with and assist them in rebuilding their amazing land! The happier you can keep your Sprouts, the more productive their community will be! Become the deity you always dreamed you could be in Sprouts Adventure!

VLC 1.0 officially released after more than 10 years of work

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The open source VLC Media Player finally reached version 1.0 on Tuesday. The new version, codenamed Goldeneye, represents over a decade of development. The program offers support for playing practically every kind of video content in existence and has an exhaustive feature set that includes many advanced capabilities.

The software first emerged as an academic project called VideoLAN in 1996, which was created by a group of students at Ecole Centrale Paris. They aimed to build client and server components for deploying streaming video over a network. The source code was relicensed under the GNU General Public License (GPL) in 2001, opening the door for third-party participation in the development effort. VLC has attracted a tremendous community of contributors who continue to advance the program and add new features.

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Apple Releases Safari 4.0.2

Apple today released Safari 4.0.2, now available on Apple’s Safari download page or through Software Update. According to the support document associated with the release, the update addresses two security vulnerabilities that could be exploited by …

Jailbreak and Unlock Your iPhone 3GS Using Official Dev Team Tools

tab-jailbreak-icon3

If you’ve been enjoying your new iPhone 3GS, but have been missing the freedom of jailbreak since your hardware upgrade (and you were skittish about the early purplera1n release), then you’re in luck, because yesterday the Dev Team officially released updated version of redsn0w and ultrasn0w that are compatible with Apple’s newest handset. That also means you can unlock the device (though earlier versions of ultrasn0w were technically compatible as well) without worry. Except for the usual worries, which are, as always, many and include potentially voiding your warranty.

As some of you may recall, the Dev Team was originally planning on holding off on a 3GS jailbreak release until after the official 3.1 firmware update from Apple dropped. In doing so, they were hoping to prevent Cupertino from plugging the exploit they use to access and jailbreak the 3GS with the next release. Dev Team member George Hotz (Geohot) took issue with that cautious stance, pointing out that playing cat-and-mouse with Apple was basically unavoidable anyway, so why not just tackle exploits as they become available, instead of trying to put one over on the software giant? In their post, the Dev Team doesn’t actually debate the merits of either position, they just plainly state that there was no reason to hold back the release with purplera1n already being widely available.

If you can get past the dangers inherent in any jailbreaking activity, and you really want to try out great Cydia and Icy apps like Backgrounder, Boss Prefs, and all the rest, head on over to the Dev Team Blog now for more info on where you can find the official releases. Call me boring, but I’m sticking with my vanilla 3.0 install until Apple irons out all the quirks of the latest device, just in case a trip to the Genius Bar becomes a necessary last resort.



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Road Tested: Dexim Dual Dock Charger

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Living in a multiple iPhone and iPod household is both fun and annoying.

It’s fun to talk about cool apps and play multi-user games, but it’s annoying trying to find a place to plug in our iPhones and iPods. Right now we have two iPhone 3GS’s, an original iPhone being used as a game device, and an iPod nano that all need charging.

Things have been a lot easier in our household since we got a Dexim Dual Dock Charger. This unit, available for $44.95 from RichardSolo.com or directly from Dexim, is an attractive and functional dock in which you can simultaneously charge two iPhones, two iPods, or any combination imaginable. Since the devices need to be held securely in the dock, Dexim includes a set of plastic insert cradles that fit the bottom of your particular device (no, I’m not using them in the photo above). There are cradles for the iPhone 3G, iPhone 2G, iPod touch, iPod Classic, iPod nano, and 5G/U2 iPod.

When a device is placed in the dock for charging, a cool blue LED light goes on. That could be irritating if you want to use the Dual Dock Charger in a bedroom, so a switch to turn off the light is thoughtfully provided. We placed ours on a small table located on the way to our garage, so we can just pick up our phones on the way out of the house.

The Dexim Dual Dock Charger allows us to keep our iPhones constantly charged up, and it looks great while doing its job. We’ve had three-plus months of charging bliss without having to search for our cables, AC adapters, or iPhones. The original Apple chargers and cables are now used for topping off the devices when we’re away from home, or for syncing with our Macs (the Dual Dock doesn’t provide syncing capability).

If you live in a multi-iPhone family, the Dexim Dual Dock Charger is a must-have gadget.

TUAWRoad Tested: Dexim Dual Dock Charger originally appeared on The Unofficial Apple Weblog (TUAW) on Wed, 08 Jul 2009 16:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Microsoft to fight Chrome OS with browser?

Microsoft is planning a “big” announcement on Monday that may have forced Google’s hand in launching Chrome OS, tech pundit and Rackspace blogger Robert Scoble claimed today. While a non-disclosure agreement prevents him from providing further details, he implies that the news will have something to do with web apps, which will be the way software can run in Google’s upcoming platform….



Safari 4.0.2 stabilizes “Nitro” JavaScript engine

Apple has posted the v4.0.2 update to Safari, its Mac and Windows web browser. The patch implements a relative handful of changes, primarily upgrading the Nitro engine to include new security and compatibility fixes. Nitro is responsible for JavaScript rendering, and is thus linked with many speed improvements over Safari 3….



Apps: iPod Converter, Baseline, Better Finder Rename

iPod Converter 2.7 ($30) is a tool for converting video files to the mp4 format for use on an iPod. The software can covert most common video files including AVI, WMV, MOV, MPG, ASF, and DivX. Within iPod converter users can crop video area, the bit rate, frame rate and video resolution. The latest update includes a new style interface and has fixed several smaller bugs. [Download – 10.5MB]…



Pixologic announces ZBrush 3.2, GoZ, new plug-in

Pixologic has announced a v3.2 update for ZBrush, along with the new GoZBrush and Decimation Master plug-in. ZBrush is a sculpting and painting program that sketches out a 2D or 3D picture, producing renders with lighting and atmospheric effects. Version 3.2 delivers a series of optimizations and feature adjustments, and includes some early integration of ZBrush 4 technology to improve working wit…



Everything old is new again; frog design does an iPhone app

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Early in Apple history, long before Jonathan Ive came along and performed his design miracles, there was frog design. Under the helm of Hartmut Esslinger, frog design was responsible for some of the more memorable early Apple designs, including the iconic Apple IIc and the Imagewriter II printer. More importantly, Esslinger defined the Snow White design language that was used by Apple between 1984 and 1990 to define how Apple products of that era would look.

History is repeating itself now, with frog design recently releasing a new iPhone app, Postcard Express [App Store]. The $3.99 app definitely doesn’t break new ground in terms of functionality — it creates and sends digital postcards from your iPhone photos.

As with Postman, SodaSnap Postcards, and other apps of this type, Postcard Express lets you either take a new picture or use an existing gallery photo to send an electronic postcard to your friends via email. Unfortunately, frog design’s savvy doesn’t appear to extend to iPhone apps, as Postcard Express is not only more expensive than any of the other apps, but version 1.0 has some serious shortcomings.

Continue reading Everything old is new again; frog design does an iPhone app

TUAWEverything old is new again; frog design does an iPhone app originally appeared on The Unofficial Apple Weblog (TUAW) on Wed, 08 Jul 2009 15:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Word Flipper iPhone App Melds Mind, Hand, Eye Coordination


word_flipper.pngWord Flipper is an addictive, fast-paced word search game for iPhone and iPod Touch that just hit the iTunes App Store with update 1.1 and is bound to generate new buzz with some excellent feature updates.

One user describes it as “Sort of Boggle meets Dance Dance Revolution with a carnival twist!” but it really must be played to be appreciated.

Jamie Grove, Word Flipper’s developer, said, “I wanted to make a game that combined my love of word games with the fast-moving action available on the iPhone/iPod Touch,” which he’s done by incorporating innovative use of the iPhone OS accelerometer.

The new version also incorporates social media functionality, with achievement awards, global leaderboards, and integration with Facebook and Twitter.

Word Flipper (iTunes link) is available now on the App Store and sells for 99¢.

This article is copyright Cultomedia Corp.


Fluent News: Great For Reading, Less So for Sharing

Fluent News

I’ve been playing with Fluent News on the iPhone for the last day, and consider it a fine first effort as a news reading app. However, when it comes to sharing the news stories you’re most interested in, it falls short.

Reading

On my iPhone’s first Home page, I have readers for the New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Wall Street Journal and AP Mobile. I may very well be able to replace them all with Fluent News. It culls news from a myriad of sources’ mobile sites and aggregates them into its page views. By default, you see Top News, but are only two taps away from other categories (e.g., U.S. News, Business, Sports, etc.).

FluentNews Article List

I’m impressed with the speed of the app, as it does most of its work in the background. I’m also impressed that it shows only one headline for a given major story, and then adds a button for “related” stories that lets you see other sources’ stories. This keeps the primary lists short, yet still allows you to see full coverage. And all from one app. It’s a very good idea, and for reading purposes is well implemented.

There’s an ad at the bottom of the first page of links, but instead of being stationary, it scrolls with the page, so the majority of the time you don’t see any ad when reviewing headlines. When you click on an article to read it, you see exactly what that particular source’s mobile news looks like. This means articles do not display consistently, but only because, say, the NYT mobile format does not look like CNN’s; it’s not a bug in the program. By grabbing these sources’ already-formatted data, it keeps things fast.

Finally, the data when pulled down is local to the phone, so you can read it even when not on a network (though of course you won’t pull in later data until connected). All in all, the reading experience on this thing is very good, and I like the idea of replacing several icons with just one on my Home page.

Sharing

So you’ve read a great story and want to share it with your friends/family/whatever. Fluent News allows this, but it falls down here. The app has ties to email, Twitter, and Facebook.

For Twitter, go into settings and enter your account information. Then, when reading an article, click the Share button (you get all three choices) and click Twitter. What happens is that a tweet is composed for you, and all you can do is say OK or cancel. You don’t get to write the tweet, or modify it any way. Did you want to quote the article in your tweet, or shorten the URL? Too bad.

Clicking the email button transfers you to the email app. Here, at least, the pre-written text can be modified, but it leads to another issue with Fluent News’ sharing: Its article reader is “dead.” It’s a read-only environment. Click a link? It goes nowhere. Click and hold a picture to save it? Nope. Copy and paste? Nope. So even with an email there’s no way to quote from the article, or do anything else.

The above reader limitations wouldn’t be bad if the reader had a button to open the article directly in Safari, but for now it has no way to do so.

And the above isn’t even the worst part. I haven’t yet discussed the URL it sends. You might reasonably expect it to be a URL for the article you’re reading, but no. Instead, it’s a link to a Fluent News page that contains a link to the article you’re reading, and in some cases an ad for downloading the iPhone app (as if you only share articles with iPhone users).

FluentNews Link Page

Frankly, lots of people I share with are not going to get this. If they get an email saying this is a great article to read, and then click the link only to see a Fluent News page of links, they’re going to reply to me that I must have sent them the wrong URL because it isn’t the article I mentioned. I don’t see why Fluent News has to turn sharing a link into a page hit/ad for their site.

So how do I get around this?

  1. Email the link to myself.
  2. Click the link in the email.
  3. Click the link on the resulting Fluent News web page.
  4. Now I have the article in Safari, and can interact, email or Twitter as I normally would.

That’s quite a bit of extra work, but at least I know everyone will get a link that takes them directly to the article I’m raving about.

Well, the mobile version of the article I’m raving about, which looks pretty weak in a desktop browser.

FluentNews_Mobile Page Desktop

In some cases, the mobile page allows you to select the “normal” view, in which case that would be step 3.5 above. But in the example shown here, I don’t have the option.

Summary

If you don’t share lots of links, or are fine with pre-written text and a detour through a Fluent News web page to get to the article, or have no desire to interact with an article you’re reading, then none of this matters to you. For me, I’m using the reader, but will take the workaround above any time I decide to share a link, and hope Fluent News will save me a lot of trouble by adding a button to open the current article in Safari. And do it soon.

Fluent News is available in the App Store for free.



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Great beginner’s guide to AppleScript

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Many years ago I started playing with AppleScript. For some reason, it failed to hold my attention, though I know you can do many cool tricks with it. Perhaps I’d still be at it if I had found an overview like the one posted at AppStorm.

This well-written guide starts with the basics and builds from there. I’ve seen entirely too many AppleScript guides that either go from the Tell statement right to masters-level stuff or that end entirely after creating the obligatory “Hello, world!” script.

Joshua, writing for AppStorm, covers variables, accessing dictionaries and walks readers through the creation of a handy Mail script. It’s not comprehensive, of course, but just right as an introduciton. Check it out and get scripting.

TUAWGreat beginner’s guide to AppleScript originally appeared on The Unofficial Apple Weblog (TUAW) on Wed, 08 Jul 2009 14:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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