DMA Central

THE OFFICIAL COMMUNITY FOR DIGITAL MEDIA ACADEMY

iPad mini: Price, Release Date, Features and New Apple iMac

Apple introduced the world to its new iPad mini, the miniature-sized version of the best-selling iPad tablet computer. Apple unveiled the 7.9-inch tablet at a San Jose press event, telling the crowd that the new device is featherweight—tipping the scales at only 0.68 pounds.


According to Apple’s marketing chief, Phil Schiller, the iPad mini weighs about as much as a pad of paper.

The iPad mini will compete with other small tablets like Amazon’s Kindle Fire HD, Barnes & Nobles’ Nook and Google’s Nexus 7.

Less is More
The iPad mini’s sleek aluminum-and-glass design (which is 23 percent thinner than the previous iPad) makes it only as thick as a pencil. In addition to being 53 percent lighter than the iPad 3, the iPad mini features 10-hour battery life power.

The iPad mini has an A5 chip “under the hood,” and features a FaceTime HD camera and a 5-MegaPixel iSight camera. Wi-Fi models go on sale on November 2, with the cellular versions appearing two weeks afterward.

iPad mini Pricing
$329 – 16GB wi-fi
$429 – 32GB wi-fi
$529 – 64GB wi-fi
$459 – 16GB wi-fi, cellular
$559 – 32GB wi-fi, cellular
$659 – 64GB wi-fi, cellular


An iPad mini in comparison to the original, larger iPad.

Industry analysts have figured that Apple would try to find a way to court the smaller tablet market, which supports smaller, less functional tablets offered at a lower price. Apple already securely owns the larger tablet marketplace, with its powerhouse iPad dominating the niche with sales topping 84 million units.

Those iPad sales have taken place within less than three years, too – the first iPad introduced until April 2010. With the iPad mini’s heritage, it’s extremely well positioned to take on the Kindle’s of the world this holiday shopping season.

More than the Mini
But Apple was only getting warmed up with the iPad mini. The company also announced the rollouts of several other Apple products, including a beautiful new update to the iMac.


Also announced…A new iMac, which is drastically thinner and faster than previous iMac’s.

  • A new 4G iPad that boasts a 9.7-inch Retina™ display, a newly designed A6 chip and a FaceTime HD camera. This iPad will be equipped with iOS 6. On sale Nov. 2, the 4G iPad will also be available in a Wi-Fi and Cellular version. The Wi-Fi version is available in 16 GB ($499), 32 GB ($599) and 64 GB ($699) formats. The Cellular version is available in 16 GB ($629), 32 GB ($729) and 64 GB ($829) formats.
  • A sleek new 13-inch MacBook Pro that’s 20 percent thinner and a full pound lighter than previous MacBook Pros. Tricked out with a 2.5 GHz Intel processor, this new model features a Hi-Res Retina™ display with 4 million pixels. The new 13-inch MacBook starts at $1,700.
  • A new iMac, which will also start shipping in November. The new razor-thin model will start at $1,299.

 

Online ordering for several of the announced products will begin Friday, October 26th at the Apple Store.

Apple CEO Tim Cook also announced that Apple had recently reached an amazing milestone related to why you should become an app developer, with Apple stating that it had delivered more than 35 billion app downloads.

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posted by Phill Powell in News Blog and have No Comments

World’s Best Tech Camp Starts Summer at Stanford

Summer is here and if you’re like most families, summer camp will most likely be part of your summer plans. But summer camps today are way different from those your parents attended. Now instead of making leather bracelets, kids and teens are making technology.


Digital Media Academy’s classroom at Stanford—air conditioned and decked out with brand new iMacs and Mario pixel art.

“I Will Create the Next _______”
Learning app development for the Apple iPhone and Video Game Design camp is a different kind of “screen time” and can be a great way to inspire young imaginations. At DMA, campers aged 6 to 17 choose their area of interest during week-long or two-week courses. They all create technology while meeting other young people like themselves and forging lifelong friendships.

This year Digital media Academy has added exciting brand-new tech camps to all twelve university locations across the United States and Canada:

DMA’s Adventures in Science & Engineering program brings kids age 8 through 12 face to face with science and some of its coolest applications. Campers construct buildings with CAD technology, learning about concepts such as structural stress. Junior inventors also get to build water rockets and solar race cars while grasping key principles about aerodynamics and how machines work. Kids even use Scratch to make their own 2D video games. This is hands-on science coupled with the summer camp experience of a lifetime.

Meanwhile, PS3 & Xbox 360 Game Development with Unity is perfect for the youngster (age 13 to 17) who wants to design and build a next-generation game for the Xbox 360 or PS3. Campers use the industry-standard Unity game engine to help them put together a playable first- or third-person game. Topics covered include game-development work flow, asset preparation, integrating animation, controlling characters, collision detection and weapon interactions. This summer camp experience is ideal for the dedicated gamer.

Another new program debuting at DMA’s Stanford location is the Academy for 3D Modeling, Animation and Visual Effects, for ages 12 through 17. Campers in this program get to go behind the scenes of Hollywood’s coolest blockbusters and find out how special-effects artists are able to work their special visual magic. And by using cutting-edge software like Maya and After Effects, students are exposed to animation basics, motion tracking, color correction, green screen technology and 3D rendering. Learn how the pros do it…by doing it yourself.


At Digital Media Academy’s tech camp (located at Palo Alto’s scenic Stanford University) a teen learns to create a Web site.

Est. 2002
This summer DMA celebrates more than ten years of delivering the finest technology summer camp experience around. It is the only tech camp founded at Stanford University by Stanford technology educators—and it’s grown. The company now operates programs at locations across the country, hosted by some of the nation’s most prestigious college and university campuses. It’s no wonder Digital Media Academy was ranked the world’s best technology summer camp by Worth.com in 2011.

With world-class industry-based instruction and the best in today’s latest software, a DMA summer can deliver lasting benefits and inspire kids and teens to get moving on their career dreams. Make summer vacation count…with Digital Media Academy.

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posted by Phill Powell in Technology Summer Camps and have No Comments

A Guide to the New 2012 MacBook Pros

Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) confirmed rumors we reported last year about updates to Apple’s product line. Yesterday at the WWDC, Apple announced several updates to the Apple line, including Apple’s award-winning line of MacBooks.


Photographers swarm around a display case at WWDC to get shots of the new MacBook Pro.

The new MacBooks – the first time Apple has updated the MacBook line since 2009 - feature some significant improvements. In fact, Apple introduced several new models, all of which began shipping Monday. Let’s take a closer look:

Smaller, Lighter
The leaner, meaner new MacBook Pro is only .71-inch thick. The 15.4-inch model weighs less than 4.5 pounds.

Retina Display
One version of the new MacBook Pro is equipped with Apple’s Retina display technology. The resolution is 2880 x 1880-pixel resolution, meaning it’s as sharp as a high-definition television. (The MacBook screen boasts a stunning 5.1 million pixels.) To put that into perspective, the new resolution on these models has a pixel count that’s four times higher than it was on previous MacBook Pro models.

More Processing Power
Under the hood, the new MacBook Pros will feature powerful processors. The 15.4-inch model carries the new 2.3GHz and 2.6GHz quad-core Intel Core i7 processors with 6MB of shared cache, not to mention Turbo Boost speeds approaching 3.6GHz. (It can also be configured with more processing power.) The engine on the 13-inch model has also been tweaked: now it’s available with either a 2.5GHz Intel Core i5 or 2.9GHz Intel Core i7, that can be revved up to 3.6 GHz with Turbo Boost. Some models will carry Ivy Bridge processors.

Where are the 17′s?
One noticeable omission is the 17-inch version of the MacBook Pro. Although the 13-inch and 15.4-inch models are being updated, there’s curiously been nothing said about the 17-inch model. Even more revealing, Apple’s website barely mentions it. Meanwhile, the 15.4-inch MacBook Pro retails for $2,199.


The dazzling new Retina-enhanced MacBook Pro boasts a whopping 5.1-million-pixel resolution.

Updated Inputs
As Apple moves toward the Cloud, fans of physical media will notice the loss of an optical drive on the Retina MacBook Pros. However, the updated models all feature twin USB 3.0 ports. In addition, the Retina models will also be equipped with two Thunderbolt ports.

Updates to Air
Models from the MacBook Air line have also been updated. Apple has outfitted them with faster Ivy Bridge processors and better graphics chips.

Being a Technology Innovator
Apple is able to stay steps ahead of its competitors because of the ongoing creativity and technological genius of its workforce. Are you interested in building the next generation of super computers? Developing an interest in science and engineering or computer programming can be a great way to start exploring a career in computer science…and become part of the next wave of technological innovators.

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posted by Phill Powell in Apple,News Blog and have No Comments

What Did Apple Announce at WWDC? A Guide to iOS 6

This week in scenic San Francisco, Apple is wowing both companies and developers that make software and apps for Apple’s various platforms at the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC).


Apple’s new CEO Tim Cook gave WWCD’s keynote address on Monday. This was the first time WWDC was not addressed by Steve Jobs.

It’s a conference that often telegraphs Apple’s game plan for the rest of the year. In the past, the conference has been the forum where two iPhones and various Macs have been introduced. On Monday morning, Apple CEO Tim Cook took the stage, giving the conference’s keynote address.

Numbers Game
Cook started his Monday morning keynote by dazzling the crowd with some spectacular numbers:

  • Apple largely owns the digital marketplace. Apple has paid out an estimated $5 billion to app developers since the App Store was started just four years ago.
  • There are now more than 66,000 apps, resulting in more than 30 billion downloaded apps.
  • Some 400 million consumers have their credit card information on file with Apple.

One of today’s major announcements involved Apple’s latest iOS (the iOS is what developers use to make apps for the iPad or iPhone). In a nutshell, the iOS powers Apple iDevices…and it’s about to change dramatically:

Driving Developments
For years, Google Maps has been the default mapping app for Apples iDevices, but that’s about to change. Apple’s iOS 6 will introduce its own tweaked-up version of Maps, and it promises to offer some capabilities that Google Maps can’t match. This includes turn-by-turn navigation, voiced by Siri, Apple’s personal assistant program.


Apple’s new Maps app will help you find your way.

Not only will Siri guide drivers to their destinations, she’ll also provide estimated trip times, and when the speed limit changes. If traffic slows (because of an accident or other event), she’ll  suggest an alternate route. Siri will also help you find gas. Finally, the new Maps app will feature a photographic 3D view of numerous cities called “Flyover,” in addition to offering a traffic view so you can visually plan the best route for your drive.

Siri-ous Improvements
Siri will be updated with iOS 6, too – and she’ll be featured on the new iPad. For most users, the biggest improvement will be the ability to launch apps with a single voice command, which many users have been vocal about desiring. Siri will also be given a new “Eyes Free” mode that will work in conjunction with your car by simply pressing a button on your steering wheel. (To make this a reality, Apple is already partnering with numerous auto manufacturers, including Toyota, Honda, GM, Audi, Jaguar, Land Rover and Mercedes-Benz.)

And not only will Siri become more convenient to access; the program will become smarter and know more about a wider range of subjects. For example, if you’re looking for sports scores and schedules (and even stats), Siri can now be your go-to expert. The same applies to other entertainment, such as movies (with Siri able to serve up reviews, showtimes and trailers).

And when it comes to grabbing a bite to eat after a game or before a movie, Siri will have you covered there, too. The personal assistant will soon be able to give you a sneak peek at restaurant menus and even help you make dinner reservations.


Attendees are flocking this week to San Francisco’s Moscone Center (West) from around the world. The conference will last through Friday. 

Social Affairs
It’s a social-media world, a fact not lost on Apple. So iOS 6 will fully integrate Facebook, just as iOS 5 brought system integration for Twitter users. With iOS 6, once you log into your Facebook account from the Settings app, you can remain logged in…even if you open different apps, and (here’s the best part) you won’t be required to log in multiple times.

With this new integration, Facebook events will appear in the Calendar app. And let’s say you use both Facebook and Twitter. With iOS 6, both social media sites will be included within the notification dropdown. So if you need to post a new status, you can do it once in this location and the change will be made to both the Facebook and Twitter accounts. iOS 6 enables all of these improvements, not to mention the ability to post photos and preferred apps directly to Facebook.

“Pass Go” with Passbook
iOS 6 will feature a new app called “Passbook.” It works like Google Wallet. Passbook stores a wide variety of items (such as movie tickets, gift cards and airline tickets) in one convenient app. Passbook works in conjunction with the notification center, helpfully reminding you if you arrive at a location where you might be able to use one of the items stored in the app.

Silence-is-Golden 
Another improvement? A “Do Not Disturb” feature for iPhones that keeps things on the down-low. Don’t worry; you’ll still receive notifications when they come but you just won’t have to hear about each and every one of them.


The Do Not Disturb feature lets you customize interruptions, such as when to activate and who to accept calls from.

Making the “VIP” List
The new iOS also gives you a way to prioritize the Mail app with special instructions based on the names of your inner-posse members. By accessing the “VIPs” feature, you’ll be able to receive special notification when you receive messages from those you’re tight with. The feature will also let you batch all incoming messages from the crew with a single tap. Mail will now let users add pix and flix to message, as well as view marked messages.

Setting the Pace
The announcements made at Apple’s WWDC often have a global impact, and influence the world of personal computing for the next year. Coming up in Part Two: We look at new changes coming to the MacBook line.

Are you ready to learn app development for the iPhone and iPad? We are! iOS makes the world’s coolest gadgets even cooler!

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posted by Phill Powell in Apple,News Blog and have No Comments

E3 2012: Console Updates, New Features for Wii U, Xbox

Welcome to Day 3 of E3 2012, the biggest tradeshow dedicated to the art and business of video games. In yesterday’s Day 2 report we showcased ten of the most anticipated video games of 2012 being shown this week at the L.A. Convention Center. Today let’s look at the console side of things—particularly newly announced features for two game platforms: Nintendo’s Wii U and Microsoft’s Xbox.


For Nintendo, this year’s E3 show was all about the Wii U.

Wii U: Still Connecting the Dots
For Nintendo, this E3 has been all about the Wii U, the game giant’s next-generation handheld game console. The device is built around a touchscreen controller (as with the Nintendo DS) and it supports the same motion-sensitive gaming that Nintendo’s Wii remote used to transform family dens everywhere into arm-waving, foot-pounding game salons. In addition, Wii U will enable streaming media from content providers like Netflix, YouTube, Hulu and Amazon Video. And in a nod to the social-media revolution, Nintendo has pledged that Wii U will deliver features that enhance the experience of connected gaming.

There have been changes to the Wii U controller GamePad that was shown at last year’s E3, although most of the alterations involve tweaks to make the unit more ergonomic and functional (a pro gamer controller—which looks more like an Xbox controller that was also announced). The big selling point for Wii U is the console’s second screen, which can be used to activate different game controls, trigger alternate camera views and switch perspectives. For example, during certain games, players will be able to hold the controller pad up to their television screen and scan for enemies. Similarly, a new karaoke game will utilize the second screen as a teleprompter for displaying song lyrics.


The Wii U will ship with “NintendoLand,” a mini-game sampler with a theme-park feel. 

Despite not delivering more information about the Wii U (such as its price point and its exact release date, although Nintendo assured attendees that the device will be released in time for holiday shopping), Nintendo was able to point to an initial batch of Wii U games—nearly two dozen of them—that will be ready to instantly support the new machine. Nintendo also unveiled a mini-game sampler called “NintendoLand,” which will ship with the Wii U.

Xbox: Ruling the Roost
E3 attendees hoping to get an early look at Microsoft’s much-rumored Xbox 720 (which sources say will arrive sometime during 2013) were disappointed by this year’s show, but Microsoft had plenty of news to keep gamers satisfied. Besides, Microsoft’s Xbox 360 is still currently winning the “console wars.” And that’s for a couple of reasons—one is the games, the other is Xbox Live being a superior online service. To that extent, a large majority of Microsoft’s announcements were focused around updates to the Xbox Live services:


Microsoft brought famed 49ers quarterback Joe Montana out of retirement. He was on hand to promote “Madden 13″ —while R&B star Usher opened the Microsoft press event showing off “Dance Central 3.”

  • Microsoft announced that the Xbox’s streaming media capabilities will be enhanced by the addition of new broadcast networks, such as ESPN and all of the major pro sports leagues in the U.S. Likewise, new media apps from entertainment providers (like Paramount Movies, Nickelodeon and Univision) will find a home on the console.
  • Featuring a reported 30 million tracks, Microsoft’s retooled music service will simply be called “Music” (as opposed to “Zune,” its former title). In addition to Windows 8, Music will be brought to the Xbox.
  • Possibly in response to the intense popularity of rival Nintendo’s “Wii Fit” exercise program, Microsoft announced a partnership with Nike to bring the sports company’s Nike+ training platform to Xbox Kinect. With it, users will be put through their exercise paces by a virtual trainer and will be able to receive helpful fitness reminders directly on their smartphones.
  • Microsoft also unveiled its plans for Xbox SmartGlass, a new application that will let users bridge their different electronic devices (e.g., Xbox, smartphone, tablets and TVs) and enjoy the same content across all of them. For example, via SmartGlass a user could start out watching a movie on their tablet computer, then pick up where they left off by resuming watching on their phone or Xbox.


Microsoft wowed the crowds with the eagerly awaited “Halo 4.”

See Ya Next Time!
E3 2012 will be wrapping up soon, but the news coming out of the show will be rocking gamers for months (and years) to come. Whether you’re a gamer or someone interested in learning how to design video games, check back here for more video games news.

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posted by Phill Powell in Featured and have No Comments

The Apple Garage

It resembles most homes in suburban Los Altos. But the modest ranch style house at 2066 Crist Drive is a historic place—and hallowed ground for any Apple Computer follower.


Edison had his lab; modern inventors Jobs and Wozniak started Apple in the garage of this Los Altos house.

This was the boyhood home of techno-genius Steve Jobs. It’s also where he and partner Steve Wozniak kick-started the global revolution in personal computing by inventing the first Apple computer in the garage of the California home in 1975.

The Home Business
The “Apple Garage,” as it’s commonly known, was actually the second place where the start-up made computers. The first fifty Apple 1 computers were constructed in a spare bedroom at the house (which had an original street address of 1161 Crist Drive, when Los Altos annexed the land from the county during the mid-80s, the address was changed).

Jobs and Wozniak set up shop in the garage after the first batch of Apple computers were purchased by Paul Jay Terrell’s Byte Shop (for $500 apiece). And just as the Apple Computer company was much simpler during those start-up days, so was the product Jobs and “Woz” were creating; the first Apple 1 was just a circuit board.

The computer had no case, no keyboard and no monitor—which were purchased separately. These were the days when people were just learning computer programming and what computers could do.


Jobs and Wozniak in the early days of Apple. Back then there were only three employees in the struggling company.

Origins
The original Apple company was not strictly a two-man enterprise. Both Jobs and Wozniak were working day jobs at the time—Wozniak at Hewlett-Packard and Jobs at Atari. Another Atari engineer, Ron Wayne, was the third employee.

Because Apple’s early days were rocky and required multiple loans to keep the struggling company afloat, Wayne eventually doubted the venture and resigned his 10% share for $800. (Had he kept his stock, it would have been worth over 36 billion dollars today.) Wayne told interviewers, “I have never had the slightest pangs of regret, because I made the best decision with the information available to me at the time.”

The rest of the story has become modern folklore, Apple moved to bigger quarters and started to build on it’s success in the 1980′s. Eventually Steve Jobs was driven out of the company he and Wozniak had created in 1985. Jobs eventually returned to Apple and lead it to its current glory as the most-admired manufacturing company in the world.


The first Apple 1 prototype, complete with homemade cabinet. Built in a humble garage…this unit now resides in the Smithsonian.

But once upon a time, it was only two guys working in a humble garage, trying to build a dream. “It was just the two of us, Woz and me,” Jobs recalled during a mid-90s return visit to 2066 Crist Drive. “We were the manufacturing department, the shipping department…everything.” It’s a story that’s sure to wow film audiences, just as it continues to inspire young peope who want to learn to create iPhone apps – or any technology for that matter.

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posted by Phill Powell in Apple,News Blog and have No Comments

Official Trailer: “The Dark Knight Rises”

Barreling upward through floor after floor of Gotham’s blue/gray skyscrapers…the camera rises steadily, acting out the verb in the movie’s title. Then come the words, whispered with urgency. “If you make yourself more than just a man…if you devote yourself to an ideal…then you become something else entirely. A story…a legend.”


Christian Bale suits up for a third – and last – time as Batman, Gotham’s protector.

The rapid-fire action comes hard and heavy—with a caped crusader using superior fighting skills and hot-shot technology to wage a one-man war on crime. There are jaw-breaking brawls. Things are exploding. And we’re getting a better look at “The Dark Knight Rises,” the final installment in director Christopher Nolan’s wildly popular “Dark Knight” series, which releases everywhere on July 20th.

The Bankable Batman
As with “Batman Begins” and “The Dark Knight,” the caped crusader will be played with total intensity by Christian Bale and his performance will be supported by Hollywood heavyweights like Michael Caine, Anne Hathaway, Morgan Freeman, Gary Oldman and Joseph Gordon-Levitt.

The last Batman movie created a full-blown international sensation. “The Dark Knight” (helped by its IMAX presentation) dominated the 2008 box office, earned more than $1 billion worldwide, and served up Academy Awards for Best Supporting Actor and Best Sound Editing. That film remains the eleventh highest-grossing movie of all time and features a performance for the ages—delivered by the late Heath Ledger (who won an Oscar posthumously for his performance). His turn as The Joker electrified theater audiences and redefined super-hero villains.


Brains and brawn, Bane (Tom Hardy) brings the pain mentally and physically. 

Bane vs. Batman
This time out, Batman faces the brutal arch criminal Bane, portrayed by actor Tom Hardy. To bulk up for the role, Hardy gained 30 pounds. “Bane, to me, is something we haven’t dealt with in the films,” commented director Nolan. “We wanted to do something very different in this film. He’s a primarily physical villain.”

The actor was even more specific about what Bane is capable of: “The style is heavy-handed, heavy-footed, it’s nasty,” said Hardy in a recent interview. “Anything from small-joint manipulation to crushing skulls, crushing rib cages, stamping on shins and knees and necks and collarbones and snapping heads off and tearing his fists through chests, ripping out spinal columns. He is a terrorist in mentality as well as brutal action.”

In one clip, Bane has beaten Bruce Wayne nearly to death, then taunts the caped crusader, “When Gotham is ashes…you have my permission to die.”


Anne Hathaway roars into “The Dark Knight Rises” as Selina Kyle, better known as Catwoman.

Trailer Frenzy
The Dark Knight Rises” had some big shoes to fill, but Warner Bros. responded by unlocking its war chest and giving Nolan a $250 million budget for the final installment. In May 2011, Warner Bros. launched the film’s official website and recently released the third trailer for the film.

Like “The Dark Knight” (not to mention Nolan’s “Inception”), the new official trailer for The Dark Knight Rises contains plenty of elaborate set pieces and mind-blowing effects:

Expectations are running high for the third Christopher Nolan Batman film. Will it surpass the whopping billion-dollar box office of “The Dark Knight”? Stay tuned to this Bat Channel…

The End of the Beginning?
One of the most intriguing aspects of Warner Bros.’ marketing of “The Dark Knight Rises” is the slogan on the film’s poster: “The Legend Ends.” Is this the end of Batman? Unlikely, a money-maker like Batman will be rebooted by another director in the years ahead.

Superheroes and movie franchises are constantly being reinvented for new generations of film audiences. Effectively taking beloved characters and relaunching them with today’s latest Hollywood visual effects requires lots of creative energy, as well as a solid education learning how to create special effects. Why not spend your summer at film camp and learn how you take million-dollar ideas and transform them into box-office blockbusters? Maybe in future years we might be lining up for your big Hollywood premiere.

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posted by Phill Powell in Digital Filmmaking,News Blog and have No Comments

Step by Step: How to Remove a Mac Virus

The differences between Mac and PC computers are generally well-understood by this point in the Platform Wars. One of the prime selling points for Macintosh has traditionally been its relative immunity from computer viruses. Unfortunately, however, that changed recently when a Trojan virus called Flashback attacked more than 500,000 Macs.

Unhappy Mac’s (and Mac users) are fighting the Flashback virus.

And although it was pretty much a first-time occurrence, it was an event that’s now giving Mac users plenty of cause for concern. As a public service to those Mac users, we’re offering the following tips on how to find out if your Mac is hosting the Flashback virus, and what to do about it if your computer is infected.

Know Your Enemy: How to Find Out if Your Mac Has a Virus
Flashback (which spreads malware) is a very insidious virus, partly because it can get under your computer’s skin even without first gaining an administrative password. It gets “in” by targeting a weakness in Java. That’s not news to Oracle, Java’s creators, which has been proactive in dealing with the matter.

In February, Oracle came up with a fix for the Java problem. And that would have taken care of Flashback altogether, except for the fact that Apple has its own version of Java and Oracle’s patch would not solve the problem for Apple’s version. And although Apple got its own patch out recently, there was a time delay that gave Flashback the chance to do its worst. Consequently, the die had already been cast for a half million Mac users, whose machines became infected with malware initiated by Flashback.

Section 1: Running Diagnostic Tests
First things first: You need to determine if your CPU is carrying the virus. The quickest and best way to do this is to use Kaspersky Lab’s Flashbackcheck. But there is one caveat to following this method: you must first know the universally unique identifier (UUID) for your particular Mac.


Don’t worry…Fortunately, finding your UUID is a painless process…

How to Find Your UUID

  1. Go to Finder and choose the menu item called “About This Mac.”
  2. Next, locate the “More info” option and select that.
  3. In the next window you see, locate “Hardware UUID.”
  4. Copy the Hardware UUID, which is a lengthy series of 32 numerals and letters.

In the event you’re running a MacBook Air, the procedure for locating the UUID is roughly the same:

  1. Go to Finder and choose the menu item called “About This Mac.”
  2. Next, press the button labeled “System Report.”
  3. Within the Hardware Overview, you’ll find the UUID.
  4. Copy the Hardware UUID to your clipboard.

 
At this point, if you’ve got the UUID, you’re pretty much set. All you need to do is go to Flashbackcheck.com, follow the prompts and enter the UUID when requested. That’s it. Flashbackcheck will then tell you whether or not your computer is carrying the virus.

There are also other ways to find out if your Mac has the virus, if you don’t like the idea of giving a sensitive piece of data (such as the UUID) to an external website.

Option 1: Download FlashbackChecker onto your Mac and then simply run the program.

Option 2: If you don’t like Option 1, you can also find out if your machine is infected by using your Mac’s Terminal app. This isn’t terribly complicated but does require some additional maneuvers.

  1. Go to your Applications folder.
  2. Open the Terminal application.
  3. Paste the following line of code within Terminal:    defaults read ~/.MacOSX/environment DYLD_INSERT_LIBRARIES
  4. Hopefully, you’ll get the following response: The domain/default pair of (/Users/<yourusername>/.MacOSX/environment, DYLD_INSERT_LIBRARIES) does not exist
  5. The key words you’re looking for are “does not exist.” If you get that message, you can relax because it means your Mac is not carrying the Flashback virus. If you don’t get that message, don’t worry…but your machine is probably infected. Assuming you’re not infected, let’s run a double check to make sure your CPU is clean.
  6. Type and run this line of code: defaults read /Applications/Safari.app/Contents/Info LSEnvironment
  7. With any luck you’ll again receive a message saying that it “does not exist.”
  8. As a further check, type in: defaults read /Applications/Firefox.app/Contents/Info LSEnvironment
  9. Once more, you should see a “does not exist” response. If so, go on about your business, because your Mac is clean. On the other hand, if you don’t get that message, move on to our next section.

 

Get ready to squash some bugs with our step-by-step virus removal instructions.

Section 2: Removing the Virus
If you’re still reading, we’ll assume that our diagnostic testing has revealed that your machine is indeed infected with Flashback. Here again you have a couple of options you can follow in order to eradicate the menace.

As before, the easiest way is to let the pros handle it. There is a special app created by Kaspersky Lab that can manage the entire operation. All you have to do to follow this method is to download the app (which is called the Flashfake Removal Tool) and then run it on your system. When you’ve done so, your machine should be clean as a whistle…although it wouldn’t hurt to re-run the diagnostic procedure we’ve already performed so you can confirm that Flashback’s gone.

For the more adventurous DIY types among you, we’ve got a procedure you can use, although it comes with a warning: If you’re not a skilled computer user who is comfortable working with CPU’s operating system, it may be better to use the Flashfake Removal Tool. (Otherwise you could casually derail your system by entering something incorrectly in your Mac’s command line.)

Still with us? Good, let’s go:

  1. Within the Terminal app, type and run this command: defaults read /Applications/Safari.app/Contents/Info LSEnvironment
  2. Notice the value given with the response “DYLD_INSERT_LIBRARIES.” Is there only one entry here? (You’ll need to use this info later.)
  3. In the event you then receive an error message stating: “The domain/default pair of (/Applications/Safari.app/Contents/Info, LSEnvironment) does not exist,” move directly to Step 8.
  4. Provided you didn’t receive the error message mentioned in Step 3, type and run this command within Terminal: grep -a -o’_ldpath_[- ~ ]*’ %path_obtained_in_step2%
  5. Notice the value given after “_ldpath_”. (You’ll need to use this info later.)
  6. Provided you only saw one entry back in Step 2, you’re ready to type these commands, still within the Terminal app: sudo defaults delete /Applications/Safari.app/Contents/Info LSEnvironment sudo chmod 644 /Applications/Safari.app/Contents/Info/plist
  7. Remember back in Steps 2 and 5 when we asked you to notice the values (files)? Now you should delete those files.
  8. In Terminal, type this command and run it: defaults read ~/.MacOSX/environment DYLD_INSERT_LIBRARIES
  9. Now at this point, you may see the following: “The domain/default pair of (/Users/joe/.MacOSX/environment, DYLD_INSERT_LIBRARIES) does not exist”. If this is the case, congrats! You’re done! On the other hand, if you don’t get the message, keep pressing on with the rest of our steps, and take note of whatever file information is specified. (You’ll need this info later.)
  10. Within Terminal, type and run this command: grep -a -o’_ldpath_[- ~ ]*’ %path_obtained_in_step9%
  11. Notice the value given after “_ldpath_”. (You’ll need to use this info soon.)
  12. Still within Terminal, type and run these commands: defaults delete ~/.MacOSX/environment DYLD_INSERT_LIBRARIES launchctl unsetenv DYLD_INSERT_LIBRARIES
  13. Take those files you got in Steps 9 and 11 and delete them.
  14. In Terminal, type and run this command: ls -lA ~/Library/LaunchAgents/
  15. Notice the file name displayed and remember it for later use. If you have one file, move on to the remaining final steps. (However, if you don’t see a file name displayed, go ahead and contact Customer Support so a trained tech can help you finish up the procedure.)
  16. In Terminal, type this command: defaults read ~/Library/LaunchAgents/%filename_obtained_in_step15% ProgramArguments
  17. Notice the path, which you’ll need during the final step. Does the file name begin with this: “.”? If so, you’re probably no longer infected. Otherwise, proceed to Step 18.
  18. Delete the files you got during Steps 15 and 17.

 
And that should just about do it. To repeat, it’s our recommendation that instead of stepping through a fairly tricky computer procedure, you check out the offerings from Kaspersky Lab. Both Flashbackcheck.com and the Flashfake Removal Tool are designed expressly to keep you from having to monkey around with your computer’s core functionality. But either way, now you should be able to resume your normal Mac activities, secure in the knowledge that all manner of malicious malware isn’t working away, deep within your computer.

Finally, it’s important to note that if you own a Mac, you’re probably going to need to take some proactive measure to defend the machine against Flashback. Why? Because the usual antivirus utilities won’t sniff this particular virus out, so it’s up to you to remain on guard.

Keeping Your Computer Heathly
The world of computing is constantly evolving. Learning more about computers and the code that makes them run can not only be a lifesaver when you’re trying to keep your computer healthy but it can also be a life changing career. Learning C+++ or Java programming for example, these programming languages power smartphones, ATMs and a whole host of other electronic devices. Get the skills to fight the hackers – and squash nasty bugs like the Flashback virus too, while you’re at it.

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posted by Phill Powell in Apple,News Blog and have No Comments

Advanced Robotics: Flying Machines and Puzzle-Solvers

Every passing day, robots are learning more and more. Each day, our computerized counterparts are becoming smarter. Just think about it: in the time you spent reading this blog, robots just mastered another key to their evolution.


Japan’s Ministry of Defense unveils the worlds first flying robotic orb.

Those Magnificent Flying Machines
You’ve probably seen walking robots. Well, now joining their ranks are flying robots. Recently the Japanese Ministry of Defense (JMD) introduced a orb that could fly through the air. The orb has a eerie similarity to the flying robots in The Matrix – or the hovering interrogation droid from Star Wars.

The robot hovers, floating through the air like a bird, spinning and turning on a dime — just like the robots that chased Neo. For now, a remote operator controls the orb. And thanks to on-board gyroscopes, the robotic sphere that weighs less than a pound stays afloat with ease. According to JMD, the robot was made for rescue and reconnaissance: “It can take off and land anywhere. This machine will be able to reach places that were hard to access by air before.”

The flying machine costs around $1,400 and is made from parts you could probably buy at your local Radio Shack.

Problem-Solving Robots
If that video weren’t enough to demonstrate how far robots have come, here’s another. How about a robot that has been trained to master the great intellectual feat known as solving Rubik’s Cube? “RuBot” is programmed to scan and analyze a Rubik’s Cube — and figure out the quickest, most efficient way to solve the classic mechanical puzzle:

Rubiks Cube, which was invented in 1974, is now solved with ease by RuBot. 

As robots become more powerful, the question ultimately becomes, “How can I keep robots from taking over my town?” Unfortunately, there’s no clear answer to that question. Robots have found their way into almost everything you come into contact with on a daily basis, from hospital surgery to traffic lights. The best thing to do is to try to help the robots now in hopes that your assistance will be appreciated later…after they take over.

Join The Robot Revolution
But why fight them? Join them! Learning how to take control of robots has never been easier. With LEGO® MINDSTORMS® NXT robotics kits, for example, you can build a variety of robots, including specialty ‘bots that perform complex tasks, such as climbing a rope.

At Digital Media Academy computer camps, students in the Adventures in Robotics course not only learn what makes robots tick; they also build robots and battle ‘em, too. After a busy week in which each student has been individually issued their own LEGO® MINDSTORMS® NXT robotics kit, campers pit their best battling bots against each other in a Sumo robot competition (just like the robots in Real Steel).

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posted by Phill Powell in News Blog and have No Comments

Amazon’s New Tablet: Kindle Fire Versus iPad 2

Amazon’s Kindle Fire is set to ship on November 15th. The Wi-Fi-enabled tablet device will offer a 7 1/2-inch full color screen, and be available at the extremely competitive price of $199. The tablet, which was publicly unveiled today in New York City by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, will use a version of Google’s Android operating system that was created specifically for the Kindle Fire. However, the Kindle Fire’s OS will sport a distinctive look with a special emphasis on media and apps – copying in a way what Apple has already done on the iPad.


The Kindle Fire will take extreme advantage of Amazon’s enormous libraries of content, which contain approximately 18 million movies, songs, TV shows, magazines and books.

The iPad Killer
Is Amazon’s Kindle Fire an iPad killer? The Kindle Fire runs on a dual-core processor and is equipped with eight gigabytes of data storage. Amazon offers free storage for all Amazon digital content on the Amazon Cloud. Books, movies, music and apps are available instantly to stream or download. These are great options for media savvy users, but the tablet lacks a camera and any 3G support. Furthermore, the touchscreen on the Kindle only accommodates two points of touch at a time. (The iPad, in comparison, can manage as many as ten.) So is it an iPad Killer? In a word, no, but that shouldn’t stop you from considering buying it.


Amazon now offers several versions of the Kindle, ranging in price from $199 for the new Kindle Fire, to the original Kindle model, which can now be picked up for $79.

The tech industry has been anxiously waiting to see what kind of tablet Amazon would create. The Kindle Fire signifies Amazon’s entry into the tablet computer business. It’s a full frontal assault on Apple, as a complete digital media content provider – from hardware to software. Amazon is the world’s largest online retailer, and Amazon – like market-leader Apple, already has a rich supply of content.

Downloads & Web
Amazon is in the business of selling all types of media—not just apps, but music downloads, movies, TV programs, eBooks and more. And the Kindle Fire gives users a great way to do that. The Kindle Fire is designed to be smoothly integrated into Amazon’s content. Plus, Amazon’s Cloud gives users a free and easy way to store the content.

The Kindle Fire also serves up Amazon’s redesigned cloud web browser with Silk.

Amazon is currently taking pre-orders for the Kindle Fire, buyers will also receive a free one-month trial of Amazon Prime, the online retailer’s yearly service that gives users free streaming video as well as free shipping for Amazon.com purchases (for a $79 annual fee). Amazon Prime members also receive unlimited, instant streaming of over 10,000 popular movies and TV shows.

Movies and Books
Amazon just entered into an agreement with several movie studios for content, which includes 18 million movies, TV shows, songs, magazines, and books. Ahhhh yes, books. The foundation of Amazon’s business. The company started as an online bookseller and smartly turned the business into an internet retailing giant. Amazon is bringing a full court press with the Kindle Fire. Visitors to Amazon.com were greeted with a personal letter from Jeff Bezos about the Kindle Fire, on the company’s website.


Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos introduces the world to the new Kindle Fire. And another salvo is fired in the tablet-computer wars…

As the tablet-computer wars continue to escalate, the question still remains: Can anyone top Apple’s iPad? For the time being, no. For those that don’t own an iPad, Amazon’s Kindle Fire offers some great incentives and looks like a solid piece of hardware. But for now, the iPad remains the king of the tablet throne. The iPad has charted spectacular sales, both the original iPad and the iPad 2. Thanks to Apple, learning app development and being able to understand programming for Google Android devices are now a game developer’s career requirements.

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posted by Phill Powell in News Blog and have No Comments