Weekly Wrap: Flashback malware, ebook litigation, and iPads for kids

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The Department of Justice threw the book at Apple. Apple and several others threw their technical resources up against the Flashback virus. And I threw together this very edition of the Weekly Wrap, highlighting Macworld’s most interesting and important stories from the past week.


As expected, the U.S. Department of Justice filed a price fixing lawsuit against several large ebook publishers—and Apple. The DOJ alleges that the companies colluded on pricing for ebooks in violation of federal law. Apple says the DOJ’s accusations are “untrue,” which is certainly a better counter argument than “yep, we’re guilty as sin.”

Some observers say that the DOJ’s case will be a boon to Amazon, handing that company the ebook market. We debated the impact any legal decision might have on ebook prices; one theory holds that if the DOJ emerges victorious in its case, ebook prices will see a race to the bottom, with cheap ebooks spreading like a virus. An analogy we use only to facilitate a segue into…

The Flashback Trojan horse of doom

Man, Flashback had a good week (in terms of press attention), but a lousy one (in the sense that it’s pretty much dead now).

Flashback Checker checks your Mac before Flashback wrecks your Mac. Or soon thereafter, technically, if indeed it finds that you’re already infected.

Kaspersky released an app that found and removed the Flashback virus from your Mac, but the app accidentally removed user data sometimes, too. Awkward. As they say in Russia, where Kaspersky is headquartered: toughluckski. The company did release an update to correct that problem. But if you’re now a bit hesitant to rush in to the Russian tool, you have an option direct from Cupertino: Apple released yet another Java update; this one removes Flashback and disables the Java plug-in by default—and all without that accidental file deletion.


Facebook bought the photo-sharing network Instagram for a billion dollars. A picture is worth a thousand words; an Instagram image is apparently worth a thousand millions. After we scooped our jaws up off the floor, we wondered why Facebook dropped so much cash on the service, and also considered what the acquisition means for Instagram. Besides a lot of new cars for the people who created the app, that is.

If Facebook pokes you the wrong way, you can still tweak your photos on your iPhone in other ways; check our tutorial on adding special effects in iPhoto for iOS.

Celebrations and condemnations

BBEdit turned 20, and we wrote it a love letter. We didn’t send it a card, but we could have, thanks to our tutorial on how to create a photo greeting card in Pages.

But if you’d rather feel dreary than cheery, don’t miss our takedowns of the Messages app and iTunes, two Apple apps upon which we heaped significant criticisms this week.

On the iOS side

We put together a slideshow with ten apps that look exquisite on the new iPad’s Retina display. We offered advice on using the iPad to help teach your children, and a video tutorial on how to prep an old iPad for young kids to use. And we podcasted about the notion, too.

And, as always, we looked at a bunch of apps; among them: Circadia, SlideShark, Mocana, Drafts, and Ziggurat.

And finally, on the Mac side

We looked at Airtoggle, which lets you use keyboard to control your Wi-Fi connection, and Marked, a Markdown preview utility.

On the troubleshooting side, we have advice on opening very old AppleWorks and Word documents, and we can help you cure an uncooperative CD/DVD drive without resorting to exorcism.

And if you want to manage your Mac’s keyboard shortcuts without sacrificing any of the brain cells you devote to remembering every word of the Mentos jingle, we can help you with that, too.

But if you want nothing more than to read next week’s Weekly Wrap, we can’t help you with that just yet. Try again next Saturday, though, and we’ll see what we can do.

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