iOS 7.1 released with visual tweaks and CarPlay

iOS 7.1

Apple iOS 7.1

Apple has released the first update to iOS 7 since last September to the general public after a long beta test period. This update includes fixes for the TouchID fingerprint system, a fix for the home screen crashing issue, as well as the new feature for automobiles: CarPlay. Apple calls CarPlay “a better way to use iPhone while driving.” The system is only available on select new cars for 2014.

iPhone 4 users will enjoy improved responsiveness and performance with this iOS update.

Access the Software update area of your iDevice to update to this new version.

Visit the Apple iOS 7 site for more

Apple trademarks its Stores to deter copycats

Sam Shead from ZDNet writes that the USPTO has granted Apple a trademark to its stores in order to cut down on copycats.

Mr. Shead states,

The approval was granted more than two years after the company first filed the application to trademark its stores in May 2010.

Apple has requested that no store be allowed to replicate various features, including “a clear glass storefront surrounded by a panelled facade” or an “oblong table with stools… set below video screens flush mounted on the back wall”.


Apple’s motivation for the trademark comes in part from a fake Apple store in China that made widespread news coverage in 2011 for selling Apple products under the familiar white Apple logo, in a building designed to look just like Apple’s many retail stores.

Of course, since the trademark is only filed with the United States Government, this filing cannot be exercised against persons in foreign countries misusing the trademark.


Stable version of JACE – Apple II emulator – Released

Java Apple II emulator author Brendan Robert was quite understandably pleased to announce that his JACE emulator has reached a new milestone.

Said Mr. Robert:

This is the first major release, bringing this emulator within a hair of my original vision for what I wanted it to be: it is a complete recreation of the computer I had growing up. (yaaaaaay!) There are a few bugs left to fix, but the only people in this world that claim software is ever complete are sales people. In spite of its flaws it’s ready to get some heavy use: I took the BETA label off the sourceforge page.

# Several timing and deadlock fixes, this not only spells more stable but also a lot more efficient in some cases.

# AE RamFactor card implemented and working. You will need to install the AE Ram Expander for Appleworks to see the extra storage.
*There is an additional option to max out the speed of the emulator when the ramfactor is in use. This means that any applications using Ram for cache or extra storage will speed up dramatically.

# Mockingboard works perfectly with Ultima 5.
*AE Phasor support has been implemented, but it isn’t working right just yet. For now, just use Mockingboard mode.
*Note: Only use ONE mockingboard. Using more than one will cause the timing issues and sound horrible.
*You can use a mockingboard at the same time as a Passport MIDI card. It has a strange syncopated sound to it. it does reveal, however, that the mockingboard playback is pitch-perfect. :-)

# Visual UI completely overhauled: Now fullscreen is possible (press F9)
*Pressing F8 while in fullscreen will toggle aspect-constrained or stretched displays.

# Indicator icons now appear for:
*Disk II activity
*Mass storage activity
*Mouse activation
*SSC activity
*RamFactor activity

Visit the JACE Web site

JACE is free open-source software, licensed under the LGPL. It emulates an Apple IIe with 128K of RAM and an 80 columns card. It supports a disk drive, joysticks, Super Serial Card, AE RamFactor, mass storage, and many other features.

The emulator is compatible with all major computer operating systems.


WikiLeaks Recovers from Massive DDoS Attack

The infamous “top-secret” document-leaking web site WikiLeaks recovered just Monday from what appeared to be a massive, week-long DDoS attack from thousands of distinct IP addresses.

The group took assistance from security and performance firm Cloudfare in order to handle the extra capacity needed to withstand the attack– over 10 gigabits per second.

A posting on the site states:

“The bandwidth used is so huge it is impossible to filter without specialized hardware, however… the DDoS is not simple bulk UDP or ICMP packet flooding, so most hardware filters won’t work either. The range of IPs used is huge. Whoever is running it controls thousands of machines or is able to simulate them.”

The attack targeted most all of the WikiLeaks infrastructure, including its auxiliary sites and donations system.

WikiLeaks administrators believe that the attack involved the Domain Name System, remarking:

We believe that the attack method is a so called “DNS amplification
attack.” Broadly speaking, this attack makes use of open DNS servers where attackers send a small request to the fast DNS servers then amplify the request, the request has now increased somewhat in size and is sent to the server of wikileaks-press.org. If an attacker then exploits hundreds of thousands of open DNS resolvers and sends millions of requests to each of them, the attack becomes quite powerful. We only have a small uplink to our server, the size of all these requests was 100,000 times the size of our uplink.

A group calling itself “Anti Leaks” has claimed credit for the DDoS attack.

Google Chrome Browser Now Available for iPhone and iPad

Google, Inc announced today that it has developed an iPhone and iPad compatible version of its popular Chrome web browser. The browser, which is available now in the App Store, offers many of the same features from the desktop version of Chrome, including synchronization across devices of bookmarks and tabs, as well as private “incognito” browsing.

Google Chrome currently has over 310 million active users. The announcement was made on the second day of the Google I/O conference in San Francisco.

Apple ][ Scans Makes Guide to your Apple III Available

Apple ][ Scans has completed scanning the entire Obsorne / McGraw Hill Guide to Your Apple /// available on their website. According to Apple ][ Scans Curator, Mike Maginnis, the original scan had “the first two chapters of this book and made it available online.  It had some great notes from Dave Ottalini inserted in the PDF, but for whatever reason, it wasn’t the whole thing.  This new scan is the complete book and is higher quality than the first one, but doesn’t contain Dave’s excellent notes, so don’t delete that other PDF.”

The guide covers many aspects of using the Apple /// computer and is a good place to start if you are trying to use an Apple /// emulation package.  The entire book has been completely re-scanned and is now available in PDF format from the site at:


DIY antenna for TV tuner cards and new generation TVs

A couple of months ago I posted an article about a “home made” antenna I made from plans on the internet. A couple of days ago I completed an antenna with a different design I also found on the internet. Last night I held a demo of it for some friends (including a couple of retired TV/RADAR/HAM professionals. They were fairly impressed with the results and sensitivity. Considering the darned thing was made of wood and mostly wire coat hangers it would be hard not to be impressed.

Here is some information on the design I was using… http://www.digitalhome.ca/ota/superantenna/ There have been some improvements since then… http://www.jedsoft.org/fun/antennas/dtv/gh.html However I chose to build the older version because there was less work involved.

The performance outdoors was fairly impressive. The design was for UHF only. While aiming it toward the center of town where most of the transmitters are located, it was able to pick up all four of the UHF stations in town. After a friend of mine suggested pointing it toward one of the VHF transmitters we all got the idea to see if we could get the two VHF stations as well. Sure enough with some careful aiming we were able to get both of the VHF stations. For one station we had to lift the antenna a couple of metres off the ground but  that was to be expected when the transmitter is slightly farther away. Had I not left the remote for the TV at home we could have tried for a couple of North Dakota stations.

The demonstration took place on the other side of the city from where I live. This afternoon I tried it in the back yard. The UHF stations were clear but there was trouble with the VHF stations even when aiming at the transmitters. Even trying the American stations there was no signal. Given the back yard is surrounded on three sides by stucco buildings, and there are no transmitters on the fourth side, I suppose the difference in performance is reasonable. Indoor performance wasn’t anything to write home about. In the basement only three UHF stations were visible.

I have a picture of what it looks like. I chose the location because things are highly visible. Ignore the power cables coming out of the power bar.

SBGH antenna

Single Bay Gray-Hoverman antenna

Here is a short list of what people will need to get digital broadcast TV.

  1. A broadcast source (a TV station).
  2. An antenna (like the design I wrote about – rabbit ears don’t cut it any more).
  3. A TV
  4. A digital receiver (new generation TVs have this built in as do new TV tuner cards).

Here is some technical info for people to keep in mind.

  • For the most part broadcast TV is line of sight.
  • Buildings with a lot of metal (like a mesh for stucco) tend to decrease signal strength.
  • Outdoor antennas are better than indoor.
  • The higher up an antenna is located the more stations it can “see”.
  • Directional antennas (like this one) should be pointed toward the broadcast tower for the best results.
  • Digital TVs are fine with weak signals up to the point where not enough information makes its way to the TV.
  • Night time reception is better than day time reception.
  • TV stations over the horizon may occasionally be seen by the antenna but this phenomenon is not consistent.
  • The further away the TV station is the weaker the signal.
  • The quality of the antenna construction is very important.

My next antenna project will be to build one of the newer versions of the antenna. I’ll need some serious help to do a good job. Fortunately I know a few people. ;-)

SATA tip:

Regular readers will know I’m into DIY and fixing things. Lately my Linux PC has been having some hardware problems (which is why people haven’t been seeing a lot of regular posts from me lately). It’s been going on for some time in fact. I’ve checked out a lot of potential hardware issues and ended up replacing most of the computer at one point or another. One thing I haven’t checked out is the SATA cables. Last Friday I borrowed a couple from the place where I volunteer. I removed one cable and replaced it with the one I borrowed. The speed increased as soon as I turned on the machine. However in order to remove the cable from the motherboard I had to remove the other three. Apparently I didn’t put the first two back in the same plugs where they were originally. The computer couldn’t find the boot drive. After a quick switch of the first two cables things worked again.

The lesson here is when replacing SATA cables, make sure they go back into the same place.

AAPL : Apple Shares Nearing Previous Close after Dropping in Morning

Apple Inc. (AAPL) Shares were trading at a low of $516.22 USD per share in the morning session on Wall Street.  The obvious antincipation of Apple’s new offerings without any real news, weighing on the stock heavily.  However, after the morning’s losses, the stock has climbed back to the $530-531 USD per share price range with just 30 minutes left in the regular trading session.  Most analysts are still posting Apple as a Strong Buy and little change from the expectations of the $550-$570 USD per share range.   Yesterday’s close was $533.16 per share.

E-book reader and translator

I’ve discovered something surprising. There are many E-book readers for the Mac and only one for Linux. This is a shocker. Ideally, with a few changes, those Mac readers should function under Linux. I mention this because I like how some of the ones for the Mac work.

The reader for Linux is so-so. Since there is only one (and I talked about E-book readers at length a few months ago) I’ll just say it is available in the Debian/Ubuntu/Mint repositories and as a separate download. Considering the alternatives are simply PDF readers it is a big improvement. So essentially we in the Linux world are stuck with only a few formats we can access. Wouldn’t cha know it most of the odd-ball ones are not accessible on either the Mac or Linux platforms. This isn’t to mention my MP3 player which will only do .txt format documents.

Given the problems with the various formats I was looking around for a converter. I actually found one which works pretty well. It’s called Calibre. I don’t know if it is available for the Mac, but if someone is running a virtual machine with Linux or is able to install it with a package like MacPorts then that’s a non-issue. This program will convert to and from any of what looks like close to two dozen different formats. This means effectively if someone purchased a physical E-book reader which has it’s proprietary format in the list they now have access to a wider range of content. Naturally most of the content I have seen has been scanned and run through an OCR and not proof-read. This means some of the words are garbled in the original form. Since it’s a case of garbage in and garbage out I don’t expect miracles. None the less it should be interesting to see how some of these E-books look on my MP3 player.