Mac News Review

600,000 Macs Infected by Flashback Trojan, Kutcher to Play Jobs in Biopic, Mac Java Updates, and More

This Week's Apple and Desktop Mac News

Compiled by Charles Moore and edited by Dan Knight - 2012.04.05

Because many businesses close early on Good Friday, and because Low End Mac's 15th birthday is Saturday, we're posting our news roundups a day early this week. Come back on Friday as we look back at our first 15 years - and thanks for visiting Low End Mac. - Dan Knight, publisher

Mac notebook and other portable computing is covered in The 'Book Review. iPad, iPod, iPhone, and Apple TV news is covered in iOS News Review. All prices are in US dollars unless otherwise noted.

News & Opinion

Rumor Roundup

Apple Updates

Tech Trends

Products & Services

Software

Desktop Mac Deals

News & Opinion

Flashback Trojan Affecting 600,000 Macs: Is Your Mac Infected?

Cult of Mac's Killian Bell reports:

"A Mac infected by a virus used to be something of a rarity, and it was the best argument you could bring to a Mac versus PC debate. But with Mac adoption surging in recent years, it was inevitable that Apple's operating system would become a target for hackers.

"Variations of one Flashback Trojan, which first surfaced back in 2007, are now affecting more than 600,000 Macs around the world."

"The most recent variant of the Flashback Trojan targets Macs that have an older version of Java Runtime installed. Thankfully, Apple issues an update earlier this week patching the vulnerability, but for some machines it was just too late."

The article goes on to explain how the latest Flashback variant works, how to determine if your Mac is infected, and links to an article explaining how to remove it.

Publisher's note: This represents about 1% of the installed base of Mac OS X users, which is estimated at 60 million. Although Apple is providing improved security for OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard and 10.7 Lion users, this might be a good time to look into antivirus software, such as the free ClamXav (below) and free Sophos Anti-Virus for Mac, both of which are compatible with both PowerPC and Intel Macs running Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger or newer. The first scan can take several hours, and I currently have it running on our three production Macs at LEM headquarters - a Power Mac G4 running Tiger, another running Leopard, and an Intel Mac mini running Snow Leopard.

Ashton Kutcher to Play Steve Jobs in Indie Flick

The Register's Anna Leach comments on actor Ashton Kutcher having reportedly been chosen to play Steve Jobs in an upcoming biopic film titled Jobs.

Ashton Kutcher and Steve Jobs
Ashton Kutcher and Steve Jobs

Ms. Leach notes that Kutcher and Jobs both have/had brown eyes, an interest in tech, and association with small social networks - but it was likely Kutcher's uncanny resemblance to the younger Steve Jobs that clinched the role for him.

She says Kutcher, 34, a significant Silicon Valley angel investor and and self-professed technophile, has declared himself thrilled with the casting reported by Variety magazine.

Should Kutcher Play Jobs in Upcoming Indie Film?

Redmond Pie's Paul Paliath riffs on Ashton Kutcher reportedly being cast to play Steve Jobs in an indie film about the Apple founder. The film, to be directed by Joshua Michael Stern from a script authored by Matt Whiteley, will depict Jobs throughout his life's ascension from 1960s hippie to becoming one of the biggest figures in technology and among America's greatest creative minds.

Paliath also notes that Sony Pictures is developing a movie about Jobs, adapted from Walter Isaacson's biography, and it will be interesting to see who get cast in the Jobs role for it, not to mention who might play other major supporting characters, such as Apple Computer cofounder Steve Wozniak, Apple CEO John Sculley, and longtime Jobs frenemy Bill Gates in either flick.

Steve Wozniak: Ashton Kutcher Will Be Great as Steve Jobs

TMZ reports that Steve Wozniak is officially endorsing Ashton Kutcher to play Steve Jobs in an upcoming movie about the Apple cofounder, quoting the Woz saying in a statement that:

"Everyone has their own idea of who they think could play Steve the best. But when we started Apple at our young ages I decided not to put my nose and comments into every aspect of the company, like the color of boxes or the job responsibilities for a team. I would not step on the toes of people who had done these jobs for many years or decades. I would just do my engineering where I could not fail. So I look at the casting agencies and directors who are experts at casting. i trust that they considered all the relevant factors and made the best selection.

"The fear that many might have is that Ashton was selected because he's 'hot' right now. But I feel that his selection was done in the most professional manner. And I'm glad that he's onboard. I think he'll put a lot into it and that he cares about this particular subject."

Wozniak adds somewhat poignantly, "It's almost too bad that Steve Jobs is gone. His opinions and guidance, as to the story and film crew and cast, would have been invaluable."

Apple Wins the Business Journals' American Brand Excellence Award for the 2nd Consecutive Year

PR: The Business Journals named Apple, Inc. the 2012 Grand Award winner as part of its ninth-annual American Brand Excellence Awards, which recognize brands that best meet the needs of small to mid-sized businesses (SMB). This year marks the second consecutive year that Apple, a pioneer in brand excellence, has received the award.

The Business Journals also awarded Brand Excellence Awards to companies in six additional business categories:

  • Business Services: UPS
  • Financial/Insurance: Visa
  • Retail: The UPS Store
  • Technology: Apple
  • Telecommunications: Verizon Wireless
  • Travel: Southwest Airlines

"Year after year, the American Brand Excellence Awards serve as a unique way to dive into the minds of business owners to determine how they view the companies that play a key role in their success on a regular basis," says Michael Olivieri, Chief Revenue Officer of American City Business Journals, parent company of The Business Journals. "The results of this year's study prove how dynamic these companies really are and continue to offer the highest class of service to the SMB community, as five of the six winning brands took the same titles just last year."

Over 250 business brands were rated and over 2,000 SMB owners and managers participated in The Business Journals' annual proprietary study. The winning companies were chosen as the brands who best met the needs of small and mid-sized business owners and managers. The criteria used to select the American Brand Excellence Award winners include "easy to do business with," "industry leader," "forward thinking," "for growing companies," "behaves ethically," "growing in popularity" and "has a good price for what you get."

The Business Journals' Business of Brands study identified that the penetration and use of social media as a marketing tool among the SMB market was a key focus for this year. The study found that today, over half (56 percent) of SMBs are including social media as part of their marketing strategy, a significant increase from 49 percent last year.

Several social media brands made an impact on this year's study, including Facebook which was included for the first time and ranked as #10 across all brands that were ranked. LinkedIn, which was one of the biggest gainers on the list, moved to the #27 overall slot from #40 just last year. Twitter came in third among social media brands and ranked #40 overall in the study.

"Networking has always been a critical business tool for SMBs and social networks give this community an easy and convenient link to stay in touch with those they do business with, enabling them to extend their relationships," says Godfrey Phillips, VP of Research for The Business Journals. "The increase in social media brands to our ranking correlates to our study finding that SMBs find it necessary to stay connected even more. In fact, SMBs are staying connected 40 minutes longer each day and two-thirds of our respondents are connected more than eight hours a day. This finding translates into an increased business usage of mobility products such as tablets, smartphones and even cloud computing, helping to explain the reasoning behind some of our award winners."

The Business Journals has published a special feature on the American Brand Excellence Award winners and the overall top 25 brands named as part of The Business Journals' annual study.

OWC Wins About.com 2012 Reader's Choice Award for 'Best Mac Peripheral Reseller'

PR: Other World Computing (OWC) has won the About.com 2012 Readers' Choice Award for best Mac Peripheral Reseller. OWC received more votes-92% of all votes cast-than the other three finalists, including giant coast-to-coast resellers like Best Buy.

OWC Wins in First Ever 'Best Mac Peripherals' Category

About.com's popular reader-driven awards program began in 2008 and has expanded to highlight the best products, features, and services across a wide variety of topics ranging from technology to hobbies to parenting and more. This year marked the debut of the Best Mac Peripherals category, which was open to both brick-and-mortar and online resellers. After soliciting reader nominations for favorite reseller sites, a panel of About.com experts narrowed the large field to four finalists. Enthusiastic online voting resulted in OWC winning the title of Best Mac Peripheral Reseller, with a final vote tally of an impressive 92% of all votes cast.

"It's very humbling to be recognized by Apple enthusiasts around the world as the Best Mac Peripheral Reseller," says Other World Computing Founder and CEO Larry O'Connor. "We re-dedicate ourselves every day to earning our customers' trust by exceeding their expectations. That commitment is what we call the 'OWC Difference'. On behalf of the entire OWC Team, thank you to all that voted for us."

Publisher's note: We're longtime OWC fans as their corporate mission dovetails with ours, which is to help you get the most out of your Apple hardware, new or old. Congratulations, OWC! dk

Rumor Roundup

Apple to Become #2 Shareholder of Foxconn?

Chinese tech blog site M.I.C. Gadget's Star Chang reports that Taiwan's Hon Hai Group, which owns the Foxconn assembly plants that produce iPhones and iPads in China, is planning to raise more than $3 billion by issuing less than $33.9 million in new GDR (global depository receipt) shares, and it's reported that Hon Hai's largest client, cash flush Apple, is expected to become a major investor.

Apple Updates

Java Update for OS X 10.7 Lion

Java for OS X Lion 2012-001 delivers improved reliability, security, and compatibility for Java SE 6

This release updates Java SE 6 to version 1.6.0_31.

This release is for OS X v10.7 or later versions of OS X.

See https://support.apple.com/kb/HT1222 for information about the security content of this update.

Java Update for OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard

Java for Mac OS X 10.6 Update 7 delivers improved reliability, security, and compatibility for Java SE 6.

This release updates Java SE 6 to version 1.6.0_31.

This release is only for Mac OS X v10.6.8 or later versions of Mac OS X 10.6.

See https://support.apple.com/kb/HT1222 for information about the security content of this update.

System Requirements: Mac OS X 10.6.4 up

Tech Trends

Big Changes in the Flat Screen Manufacturing Business

Hardmac's Lionel reports on two announcements he says have changed the entire flat screen manufacturing business within couple of hours:

  • Samsung announced it had spun off its flat screen division into a new independent entity known as Samsung Display. It now owns R&D and manufacturing resources for LCD and OLED displays.
  • Sony, Toshiba, and Hitachi announced the official birth of Japan Display, a new company merging their activities on the flat display market with activities officially starting on April 1st. The first step of this merger was announced in November 2011.

Products & Services

Macs Ideal for Boomers and Seniors: Mac for Seniors Shows Users How to Get the Most from Them

Mac for SeniorsPR: Famous for its intuitive and user-friendly system, the Macintosh line of desktop computers and laptops from Apple is tremendously popular and perfect for home use. Learn step-by-step how to work with OS X.

This new computer book discusses the basic features, such as accessing the Internet, using e-mail and organizing files and folders. The handy tools and apps included on the Mac that make it easy to work with photos, video and music are also covered. Learn how to change the look and feel of the Mac interface and how to set preferences to make it even easier to work on the Mac.

Written using the well-known step-by-step method from Visual Steps, this book may be all a new user needs to feel comfortable with the Mac.

Topics covered in this Mac computer book:

  • perform basic tasks in Mac OS X
  • use Internet and e-mail
  • download and use apps
  • work with files and folders
  • work with photos, videos and music
  • set preferences

Visual Steps is a specialist publisher of computer books for Seniors and is dedicated to help individuals over the age of 50 participate in the cyber-age. More than 25.000 copies of the title Windows 7 for Seniors and 80.000 of Windows XP for Seniors have been sold.

All of the Visual Steps books follow the same methodology, known as the Visual Steps Method. This method distinguishes itself in a number of ways from traditional instructional methods. Attention is made to the special needs and requirements of the mature individual. Each product:

  • Allows learning in a friendly, fun and hands-on manner.
  • Uses a larger print format
  • Contains easy to understand, visually oriented, step-by-step instructions.
  • Has an extensive use of screen shots and illustrations.
  • Features practical, useful information and tips.
  • Includes follow-up exercises to reinforce new skills and increases confidence.
  • Offers special help topics for do-it-yourself error correcting and offers an extensive index.

Suitable for: Mac OS X Lion

Mac for Seniors
Author: Studio Visual Steps
296 pages
Paperback, full color
ISBN: 978 90 5905 008 2
Price: US $22.95, Canada $25.95

Software

ClamXav 2.2.4 Free Antivirus Solution for Mac OS X

PR: Mark Allan's ClamXav is a free virus scanner for Mac OS X that uses the ClamAV open source antivirus engine as a back end and has the ability to detect both Windows and Mac threats.

ClamXav can be set up as passive or active: scan only the files you tell it to or your entire hard drive, whichever you prefer; you can also choose to activate Sentry to monitor your hard drive and scan new files as they arrive.

ClamXav 2 Features:

  • Clean, simple-to-use interface
  • Clearly lists infected files
  • Free virus definitions (usually updated daily)
  • Save your favourite scan locations for easy access
  • Customise the toolbar - or hide it entirely
  • Send selected files to quarantine or trash with one click
  • Specify files to exclude using plain text(you can still use regular expressions if you want the extra flexibility) or by using drag & drop from the Finder
  • Specify schedules to update virus definitions and perform scans
  • Use ClamXav Sentry to monitor your hard drive and scan new files as they arrive (this feature not available in the App Store version)
  • Use the bundled ClamAV engine or bring your own installation
  • Compatible with Mac OS X 10.5, 10.6 and 10.7 Lion

New in ClamXav v2.2.4:

  • Updated ClamAV engine to 0.97.4 (if you have edited freshclam.conf and clamd.conf by hand, you can find your old files inside /tmp)
  • Added ability to exclude "infected" files from future scans - useful to ignore false-positives.
  • ClamXav Sentry will now check for updates on launch if set in ClamXav main preferences.
  • Fixed a crash which could occur if the designated Quarantine folder didn't exist.
  • Fixed bug which could cause items not to be scanned in rare circumstances.
  • Fixed minor errors in German Localisation.
  • Updated version of Growl bundled with ClamXav Sentry.
  • Improved stability during updates
  • OS X 10.4 users should NOT download this update

System requirements:

  • PPC/Intel
  • Mac OS X 10.4 or later

ClamXav is available on the download page or in the Mac App Store, and is donationware.

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