Apple mum as Mac owners tussle with Yosemite over Wi-Fi problems

November 15th, 2014 | Edited by | software


The cries for help from frazzled Mac owners whose Wi-Fi connections went haywire after upgrading to OS X Yosemite are being met by Apple with stone-faced silence.
Affected users have been filing a steady stream of complaints about the problem in discussion forums, blogs, and social media sites since Apple released the latest version of the operating system a week ago.
Attempts by users to isolate the cause of the issue have been fruitless so far. The problem affects a variety of Macs with dissimilar configurations and linked to many different routers. What’s clear is that the problem hit these users after installing Yosemite. In most cases, Wi-Fi becomes unstable, with connections dropping every few minutes, irritatingly slow or simply unusable.
The lucky few people who have managed to get their Wi-Fi working properly again have done so with one of at least 20 unique and unofficial “fixes” scattered among thousands of discussion forum postings. None of them seems to be a universal fix for the problem.
On Friday morning, a user identified as “Hevelius” in a Mac Rumors forum vented his frustration with the situation. “There must be about two dozen so-called fixes now on this forum. I’ve tried every single one of them and none of them work,” this person wrote, adding that until there is a fix that works for everyone, the best option is to revert to Mavericks, the previous version of the OS.


Some of the most active forum threads about this topic are in the official Apple Support site, including the ones titled “OSX Yosemite Wifi issues” with almost 400 comments and close to 34,000 views; “Yosemite (OS X 10.10) killed my WiFi :(“ with almost 150 comments and 18,000 views; and “wifi keeps dropping since Yosemite upgrade”, which is approaching 100 comments and 6,000 views.
Even technologists are among the affected, including Eugene Wei, Flipboard’s head of product, who tweeted on Friday: “After upgrade to Yosemite, my MBP [MacBook Pro] drops my wifi network at home seemingly every 20 seconds.”
Sophos’ security expert Paul Ducklin took to the company’s Naked Security blog on Wednesday to request help from its readers in troubleshooting the problem and figuring out workarounds.
In his post, which has generated 84 comments, Ducklin refrains from convicting Apple, saying that while the cause could be a Yosemite bug, it could also be due to latent flaws in third-party hardware and software exposed by the upgrade. However, he does acknowledge that, whatever the cause, the common trigger is a Yosemite installation.
“No one seems to know what’s wrong, and without a scientific explanation it’s hard to know where to lay the blame,” wrote Ducklin, whose Wi-Fi connection works fine for no longer than 10 minutes at a time, and then starts to melt down. He wrote a script that automates the manual process of turning his Wi-Fi off and then on after a connection disruption is detected.
Apple hasn’t responded to multiple requests for comment from the IDG News Service.


Microsoft offers Office 365 refunds to iPad users after launching free version

November 13th, 2014 | Edited by | software


If you recently forked over $70 or more to edit Office documents on an iPad, you can now switch to the free version and get a partial refund.
The iPad version of Office previously required an Office 365 subscription for document editing, priced at $70 per year for the “Personal” edition and $100 per year for the “Home” edition. That changed on Thursday, when Microsoft made basic editing free on all mobile devices, including iPads.


While some advanced features are still hidden behind the Office 365 paywall, users who can get by with the free version can now request a pro-rated refund for unused subscription time. Refunds are available until January 31 of next year to anyone who purchased a subscription on or after March 27, 2014. But the process depends on where you bought the subscription from.
Users who subscribed straight from the App Store will need to contact iTunes support. Users who subscribed from Microsoft or a reseller can contact Microsoft support. In all cases, you may need a proof of purchase, and Microsoft reserves the right to deny requests if it thinks they’re fraudulent. The entire process can take six to eight weeks.
The story behind the story: The refund offer is reminiscent of when Microsoft uncoupled entertainment apps such as Netflix from its Xbox Live Gold service, and credited former subscribers on a pro-rated basis. Both changes occurred under new CEO Satya Nadella, and show that the company is willing to tear down a few paywalls—and sacrifice short-term profits—if it means keeping users on board for the long haul.


Recognizing the changing cloud

November 6th, 2014 | Edited by | software


When early cloud adopters bought into massive, on-demand scale, they also assumed the responsibility of managing failure-prone commodity hardware. They had to adapt their applications to run in the cloud in addition to monitoring a complex new system. While curing some IT headaches, the public cloud created new ones, like:

  • Unreliability – Cheap, failure-prone commodity hardware creating a requirement to overprovision cloud resources to plan for server failure.
  • Management – Attaining experienced cloud engineers to tweak and tune cloud resources, handle monitoring and alert response, and manage the applications and workloads running on top of cloud resources.
  • Cloud sprawl: To get the additional services needed to run workloads, secure deployments and other cloud-related tasks, businesses needed multiple providers leading to shadow IT, platform lock-in, billing confusion, and service compatibility glitches.


The DIY nature of public cloud didn’t work for everybody. Some organizations wanted the speed-to-launch and flexibility of on-demand cloud resources, but they also needed round-the-clock support and architecture expertise. As Gartner describes in the Magic Quadrant for Cloud-Enabled Managed Hosting North America report, “Cloud-enabled managed hosting brings cloudlike consumption and provisioning attributes to the traditional managed hosting market.” Those early cloud adopters quickly found that managing a cloud can cause as many problems as it solves, but the benefits were too enticing to pass up. To mitigate the risks of the new technology, businesses sought out providers who could not only provide raw infrastructure, but also provide:

  • Support and expertise to manage and grow the environment in accordance with business strategy
  • Full-stack management that runs the underlying cloud resources and complex workloads, such as databases, ecommerce software, email, and other critical applications
  • Shorter lead times to deployment by integrating on-demand resources and the implementation of DevOps automation methods.

Find out how this category change could impact your business and why Rackspace Managed Cloud was positioned the furthest for completeness of vision and ability to execute in the Leaders Quadrant in the North American and European categories.

Gartner does not endorse any vendor, product or service depicted in its research publications, and does not advise technology users to select only those vendors with the highest ratings or other designation. Gartner research publications consist of the opinions of Gartner’s research organization and should not be construed as statements of fact. Gartner disclaims all warranties, expressed or implied, with respect to this research, including any warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose.


Microsoft plans a standalone Office 2016 for end of 2015

October 30th, 2014 | Edited by | software


At one point, the announcement of an anticipated ship date of the next release of Microsoft Office would be big news. As it is, Microsoft’s release of Office 2016 may not be the milestone some might expect.
Julia White, the general manager of Office for Microsoft, said the company would ship the next version of Office at the end of 2015, according to a report by Mary Jo Foley at ZDNet. Office 2016 (or 16), as it will be known, will be a joint release of both desktop and server apps, according to Foley. White reportedly made the announcements at the Microsoft TechEd Europe show in Barcelona.


Microsoft representatives neither confirmed nor denied the report at press time.
In the meantime, of course, Microsoft is busy signing up subscribers for Office 365, its subscription service that rolls up new updates and features into Office on a periodic basis. Office 365 is available in personal subscriptions up through enterprise licenses. In its recent earnings conference call, Microsoft said that consumer Office 365 subscriptions total more than 7 million subscribers, up 25 percent from a quarter ago, and the number of commericial subscriptions nearly doubled. To keep consumers and businesses interested, Microsoft recently revealed its roadmap of upcoming features.
Microsoft hasn’t said what features Office 16 will include, but it’s almost certain that the release will essentially “roll up” existing Office features to a certain point. Unfortunately, that will probably mean that Office customers won’t get perpetual updates, either—if history holds, that is.
Still, 7 million consumers plus an unknown number of corporate customers is still a fraction of the 268 million traditional PCs predicted to be sold during 2014, according to Gartner, even with an additional number of Windows tablets sold on top of that. Microsoft has its sights set on customers that can deliver recurring, stable revenues based on Office 365, but it still needs a dedicated base of Office users.


Our favorite iOS Apps, August edition

August 14th, 2014 | Edited by | software


As we do every month, Macworld staffers got together to chat about the best apps they’ve been using recently. Here are some that have recently captured our imaginations (and perhaps a spot on our homescreens), whether they’re tiny apps from budding developers or the top-grossing apps that everyone is using. Our hope is that, while you might recognize some of these apps, others you might never have encountered. All of them, we think, are worth a look.

Serenity Caldwell: Fly


Recently I’ve been experimenting with different ways of filming and stitching together bits of my everyday life, in order to keep in touch with my far-flung family. Fly (free; up to $10 in-app purchase for full features) may be my most recent test, but it’s also quickly become one of my favorites to play with.
The thought process behind Fly is simple: Record up to four videos (either in the app or elsewhere), then bring them into the Fly timeline and use the app’s innovative multi-touch gestures to quickly sew together a fun little video. The emphasis here is on short (under five minutes), visual, musical videos; there’s no way to fiddle with adding text or time transitions. It’s a delightful little app, and it already has me sharing videos a lot more often than I used to. And that’s not even counting its Multi Cam option, which lets you feed in live video from other iOS devices running Fly.

Dan Frakes: Bike Repair


When I was a kid, I loved working on my bike. It was a single-speed BMX, and I would put it together, take it apart, and tweak and tune it in-between. In the intervening years, my bikes have gotten more complex, but my repair skills haven’t kept up. Which is why I’m a fan of Atomic Software’s Bike Repair ($4). This universal app offers 58 repair guides, and 95 “tips and tricks” for fixing problems, keeping your bike in top riding shape, and even helping you avoid common injuries that stem from poor bike fit.
Browse bike components, and the app shows common repairs and maintenance for each component—mostly basic things, but also more-advanced tasks. Choose a repair or maintenance task, and Bike Repair shows you detailed information and an illustrated guide. The app includes over 300 annotated images, and while the font used on these photos looks a bit amateurish, the information is nevertheless easy to read.
One of my favorite features is My Bikes, which lets you document your bike’s parts, specs, and other information—when you’re at the bike shop, you’ve got everything you need to find the right part. (You can also keep a log of all maintenance you perform.) And Price Search checks over a dozen online vendors for the best price on a part or accessory. It’s a handy app for those of us who cycle for recreation and would like to be a little more self-sufficient.

Dan Miller: Timeful


There are plenty of calendaring apps for iOS—and by “plenty,” I mean “way, way too many.” And the one I’ve been using for years—Fantastical—is plenty good. So why am I trying out a new one? Because Timeful does things a bit differently.
Oh, sure, it has all the usual calendaring accoutrements: daily and monthly views; syncing with OS X’s Calendar, Google Calendar, and Microsoft Exchange; alarms; repeating events; to-do lists; and so on. But it also has some things most other calendaring apps don’t.
For example, it’ll intelligently suggest times on your schedule when you could take care of items on your to-do list. (You can also simply drag to-do items from the list at the top of the day’s window to a specific time.) In a similar vein, it also lets you schedule time to work on good habits—exercise, reading, and the like—that often get crowded out of the day because they aren’t on your calendar. I do wish the app synced with Reminders, my current to-do manager, but the developer said that doing so caused them some UI problems. Will I stick with Timeful? Who knows? I suppose I could always add Use Timeful to the list of habits I want to work on.

Dan Moren: PDF Expert 5


I don’t spend a lot of time marking up PDFs, but when I do, I’ve started turning to Readdle’s PDF Expert 5 ($5). The reasons are pretty clear: not only is it a speedy, well-performing app, but it offers a broad swath of options for annotation. But some of my favorite features may seem almost minor, such as the broad variety of font face and size options that are right at your fingertips.
Add in Readdle’s usual aplomb at dealing with a variety of cloud storage and other network sources, and handy file management features, and what you get is a simple, elegant app that handles PDFs extremely well.


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