One in Five Macs Carry Windows Malware!

Sorry, I had to add the exclamation point for just a bit more drama.  TheNextWeb:

According to a recent snapshot taken from 100,000 Mac computers running Sophos’ free anti-virus software, over 20% of Macs ran a Windows-specific form of malware, but only 2.7% of machines contained Mac OS X malware.

Wow, Windows malware can run on Macs?  That’s news to me.  Oh, wait.  Let’s look at this statement all the way at the bottom of the page:

Windows malware may not be able to infect Mac computers, they can still be spread via USB sticks and removable storage, potentially infecting other computers in the process.

So…  Apple is guilty of letting Mac users copy files?  The nerve.

Remembering Jack Tramiel

Perhaps it’s been a little too easy for most of us to overlook the passing of Commodore International founder Jack Tramiel this past week, but his influence is far reaching even today.  In the 1970s personal computers were just taking off, but the cost of systems like the Apple II made them prohibitively expensive for many.  After releasing the Commodore PET  for the education market in 1977, Tramiel’s company focused on reducing component costs and selling an affordable computer directly to consumers.  That computer was the VIC-20, and it hit the market in 1981 for $299.  I received one for Christmas that year, and I was hooked.

By 1982 Commodore took the form factor of the VIC-20 and released its successor: the Commodore 64, which went on to become the single best selling computer of all time.  Retailing for $595, it had capabilities that rivaled or surpassed systems costing more than twice as much.  Tramiel then decided to cut prices further to gain market share, prompting an all-out price war with competitors (Apple decided not to get into the price spiral to the bottom and kept their prices and margins higher).  Commodore’s board of directors was less than pleased with this strategy and by 1985 Jack Tramiel had resigned, eventually moving on to Atari in an attempt to compete with Apple.

Tramiel was a Holocaust survivor.  In 1939 he and his family were shipped to a Jewish ghetto after the German invasion of Poland, and eventually he ended up in the Auschwitz concentration camp.  Two years after being rescued by Allied forces in 1945 Tramiel emigrated to America.  In one of his last interviews Tramiel said that in the 1980s he had made a point to aggressively sell Commodore computers in Germany so he could educate that nation’s youth about the Holocaust, using software developed by his company.

Jack Tramiel made it clear that he wanted computers to be “for the masses, and not the classes.”  Back in the early 80s that was a very big deal, and Commodore went a long way towards getting this emerging technology in front of a lot of young people, myself included.  With my VIC-20 poised on a TV tray and wires running to the family television I had a least a dozen kilobytes of RAM and a cassette deck to load and save my BASIC programs.  I graduated to an Apple IIe a few years later, but that early shot at computers and programming helped get me to where I am now.  Thanks, Jack.

Apple’s FCP X announcements for NAB

Larry Jordan has the scoop.

Then, Apple shared their plans for Final Cut Pro X features coming later this year (2012). Apple began providing “advanced looks” as part of the roll-out to the launch of FCP X and wanted to continue letting us know what’s coming. (I think this is a great idea, because it helps us plan.)

Here are the bullet points (none of this was demoed):

  • Multichannel Audio Editing Tools
  • Dual Viewers
  • MXF Plug-in Support
  • RED camera support

This is very encouraging stuff.  “Dual Viewers” is a doublespeak way of saying the source and record style monitors are returning, and the “multichannel audio editing tools” correct my biggest beef with how FCP X handles complex audio now.

Paranoid about the Flashback trojan? Disable Java on your Mac

It’s probably overkill if you’re not infected and have Apple’s latest security update, but Cult of Mac has a good rundown for switching off Java in Mac browsers.

See, Flashback uses Java to crawl its way into your Mac and link you up to a zombie botnet. Like most exploits, your browser is the gateway Flashback sneaks through to gain access to your system. If you close the gateway so that Flashback has no way of exploiting Java, you’re protected. The good news is that disabling Java is super easy.

I’ve been running Java-less with Safari all this week and haven’t run into any occasion to need it.

What you get for $1 billion

Yesterday was a big day for small fish getting big paychecks.  OK, it’s not entirely fair to think of AOL as a small fish, but there it is.  Microsoft paid a hefty premium for a pile of AOL patents, and the New York Times deciphers the sale:

Microsoft has used its deep stockpile of computing patents to prod smartphone makers to pay it licensing fees. So, analysts say, adding more patents promises to strengthen its negotiating and legal position with rivals like Google and Apple — and handset makers using Google’s Android software including HTC, Samsung and LG.

So it’s a defensive move, and gives Redmond a big legal club to swing.  It seemingly has nothing to do with innovation or bringing new products to the marketplace.  Meanwhile, Facebook yesterday decided to snap up Instagram, the photo sharing startup with a handful of employees and a popular mobile app for iOS and Android.  Instagram has 30 million users, over a billion photos, but no revenue stream.  Why the hefty price?  Om Malik on GigaOM:

…if there was any competitor that could give Zuckerberg heartburn, it was Systrom’s posse. They are growing like mad on mobile, and Facebook’s mobile platform (including its app) is mediocre at best. Why? Facebook is not a mobile-first company and they don’t think from the mobile-first perspective. Facebook’s internal ideology is that of a desktop-centric Internet company.

The Facebook mobile offerings do strike me as lackluster, and the consumer rush away from traditional desktop systems for their social networking needs is the cause for Facebook’s concern.  Instagram users are passionate about that platform, but I can’t say I meet many people who have that same fever for Facebook these days.  I could certainly see Instagram rising as the natural Facebook alternative in the coming years, and Zuckerberg wants to keep those switchers in his tent.  It will be interesting to see if Facebook will stick with the claim that they will keep the two entities separate from each other, and not roll one into the other.

Unlocking an out-of-contract iPhone is getting easier

Matthew Panzarino, for TNW:

We reported Friday that AT&T was beginning to unlock out-of-contract iPhones as of April 8th, today. Now a few more details of the process are available.

First, you can do this in-store, but you can also do it in an online chat at AT&T’s website. The process is painless and only takes a few minutes in the chat. The only piece of information required by AT&T is the International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) number, which can be found under Settings>General>About on your device.

I will certainly give this a spin with my old 3GS.