Apple Releases Security “MegaPatch”

Apple on Tuesday issued a security update for its Mac OS X to plug 45 security holes, including several zero-day vulnerabilities.

The megapatch is the seventh Apple security patch release in three months. It deals with vulnerabilities in Apple’s own software, as well as third-party components such as Adobe Systems’ Flash Player, OpenSSH and MySQL. Sixteen of the vulnerabilities addressed by the update were previously released as part of two high-profile bug-hunting campaigns.


I guess I finally have a good reason to boot up that MacBook.

Hard Wired Religion

Which is the better biological explanation for a belief in God — evolutionary adaptation or neurological accident? Is there something about the cognitive functioning of humans that makes us receptive to belief in a supernatural deity? And if scientists are able to explain God, what then? Is explaining religion the same thing as explaining it away? Are the nonbelievers right, and is religion at its core an empty undertaking, a misdirection, a vestigial artifact of a primitive mind? Or are the believers right, and does the fact that we have the mental capacities for discerning God suggest that it was God who put them there?

In short, are we hard-wired to believe in God? And if we are, how and why did that happen?

NYT Link

Interesting article digging into current scientific study revolving around a belief in God. Hat tip to my sis for the link.

Tivo & Unbox Take The Wraps Off

That was quick: Tivo Unbox Service Released

Setup is pretty darn easy if you already have an Amazon account. This morning I was able to register my Tivo (which shows up as one of your devices in Amazon’s Media Library) through Amazon’s site and decided to try sending a purchased copy of Little Miss Sunshine to it. Hopefully it’ll be in my Now Playing list by tonight. The nice thing about this service is – aside from using a pc to purchase or rent the video, everything happens seamlessly in the background. The pc does not act as an intermediary for the download, so you can rent or purchase videos from anywhere and when you get home, they’ll be ready for viewing. This blows other download-to-pc-first services out of the water. You can also view the status of your transfers online, so there’s no guessing as to whether or not the video downloaded successfully. (Update – After about 20 minutes, Sunshine was 15% downloaded according to Amazon’s site.)

The first question I have is what is the quality of the video like? According to the post on Tivo Lovers, the films are being transcoded into a Tivo compatible format. Hopefully the video quality will remain on par with the current DVD quality, relatively high bitrate Amazon Unbox supports for video downloads. Since the HD Series3 is also supported, I’d bet they haven’t compressed the hell out of the content.

The total number of titles currently stands at around 1400 which puts this service way ahead of other “direct to the living room” services like Live Video Marketplace. (Microsoft, are you paying attention?) Since Amazon’s download service sports a total of over 2500 titles I think we can assume the entire library will ultimately be available. Amazon also announced new content deals with Sony Pictures and MGM Studios, so I’m sure the total number of Amazon movies offered will be increasing soon.

Also, according to the Tivo Unbox FAQ, Tivo does not replace an existing device you register, it’s an added device which adds to the number of ways you can view your content. One the great features of the Unbox service is that anything you purchase becomes part of your Amazon Media Library, which supports unlimited downloads of your content to up to 2 PC at a time, plus now your Tivo and a couple portables as well. You can unregister any existing registered device and replace it with another which makes managing your video collection pretty easy.

There are a couple minor drawbacks – you will not be able to use TivoToGo to get films you purchase or rent onto other computers around the house. But this really isn’t that big a deal since Unbox already has support for other devices, all of which support remote downloads just like Tivo. Plus, moving the content around isn’t that important since I suspect most consumers will be interested in the rental experience, not the purchase, which is a one time shot anyway. One other small annoyance is the lack of an ordering interface on the Tivo itself. While ordering from remote locations is useful for renting films while your away from the house it would be nice if the video browsing interface was also available through Tivo. Thankfully though you do not have to download the video to your computer – once the order is complete, Amazon will send the video directly to your Tivo box over the network.

Overall, the whole download video rental & purchase space is really opening up. Consumer’s now have many ways to get content into the living room, and I’m sure more will come. Very cool!

There’s more information on PVRBog and

The CNet article must have been written by an Apple fan boy who knows nothing about these services –

On the bright side for Unbox and TiVo, the Apple TV hardware–which could deal a powerful blow to both services–has had its launch delayed by several weeks.

iTunes has an exremely limited selection of movies, doesn’t support rentals, has a lower video quality than services like Unbox, and requires the use of a PC as an intermediary. Apple’s TV hub isn’t a PVR, and has yet to even ship, yet it’ll deal a big blow? Somehow I think that’s a bit premature. Personally I don’t think any one service will rule the video download space, there will be many, and consumers will choose which service, or multiple services they use based on how they setup their living rooms, what they prefer to do – rent or buy, and who they have established relationships with. Should be interesting to see what happens.

Update – The download of Little Miss Sunshive was complete by the time I got off work. According to Tivo the file is taking up 2.16 GB, which is actually a little larger than the WMV version I’ve previously downloaded to my computer. The video also looks excellent. For Tivo owners, this is definitely a great service to have.