We\'ve published several new reviews on the recently-reopened MacNN Reviews section. Among the latest entries are a review of OmniGraffle 2.0 for Mac OS X and a look at the Lapvantage Ergo form the Plasticsmith. Stay tuned to reviews.macnn.com as we ramp-up publication over the next several weeks.
Macsoft has released Stronghold for Mac OS 9 and X. The \"unique castle simulation game combines the best aspects from a builder and a real-time strategy game.\" Players establish, design, build and manage a castle while pleasing the people and protecting the territory by engaging in warfare with other players; the price is $40.
Karelia Software has posted a minor update to the award-winning Mac OS X software utility, Watson. Watson v1.5.3 addresses issues relating to the installation of third-party tools. Watson helps Mac users search the Internet for news, media and knowledge via an innovative interface. Also released from Terrence Talbot is the first third-party Watson tool, Newsblaster. The tool connects to the Columbia University Newsblaster service and collects news from different Web news services, such as CNN, Reuters, LA Times, and the BBC.
Pulldown Folders v1.1 is a Mac OS X only contextual menu plugin and Preference Pane that allows faster access to files on users hard drives and other volumes. It gives quick access to any and all directories inside the drive without having to open more windows in the finder. The new version adds more options in the pulldown menu, improved directory caching and other optimizations; the price is $7.
USA Today notes that the copyright protection scheme of Sony (named Key2Audio) has been foiled by hackers - by scribbling along the outside edge of the disc with a felt-tip marker. The technology, which can cause Macs to crash, is the latest in a bid by the recording industry to curb illegal copying and sharing of songs.
Koingo Software has released Alarm Clock Pro v5.5, an update to its alarm-clock replacement application which allows users to choose the music, sounds or internet radio stations that they wake up to. It is now more compliant with \"Apple guidelines\", such as control-click for options and improved pop-up menus; the price is $12. [Classic, Carbon]
A Business Week article on Apple\'s new XServe compliments the new rack-mounted servers for their price, equipment, and reliability, \"a similarly equipped Windows server would cost some $5,000.\" The article also states \"Apple also should benefit as established enterprise computing companies, including Hewlett-Packard and Oracle, develop software for its servers.\"
MuchoThumbs Pro v2.7.0 is an application for both Mac OS 9 and X that helps create thumbnail websites quickly and easily. The update brings full Mac OS X integration (long file names, packages creator codes, etc), browser enhancements, and new keyboard shortcuts. The upgrade is free to all registered users of version 2.0; the full version is $30. [Classic, Carbon]
PSoft today released a maintenance update to its \'iMsafe\' data backup solution for Mac OS X. Version 1.8 offers better multitasking, a new \"Last Run\" column and a faster, more reliable backup engine. iMsafe works by copying specified data from one Mac OS X volume to another.
Bad Cookie! v1.1 is an update to the $10 universal cookie manager that adds full support for the Mozilla Web browser. Aditonally, Bad Cookie! works with Internet Explorer, Netscape and OmniWeb; this update refines compatibility with all browsers. [Classic, OSX]
Aladdin Systems today announced the availability of Spring Cleaning v5.0 for Mac OS 9/X, an update to the well-known software uninstaller. This version is optimized for Mac OS X and provides new Internet-specific features that help protect privacy. Spring Cleaning 5.0 can edit cookie files, perform custom searches, compare files and folders to identify duplicates and take advantage of Mac OS X UNIX root capabilities.
Tech news: Handspring today cut prices on several of its Visor handhelds, as it prepares to introduce new models; Nintendo will cut the U.S. price of its GameCube game console by about 25 percent, in a bid to maintain its price advantage over its main competitors; and a new internet filing-sharing system offers a free peer-to-peer network for downloading audio files, giving rewards to users whose servers are utilized more often (although there is no Mac client in development).
The $35 shareware utility for Eudora users, Email Magician 1.8, brings a new custom preferences panel, the ability to create new filters, better SPAM protection tools, and other bug fixes. The software automatically creates filters, mailboxes, and nicknames (address book entries) with one click and includes powerful spam filtering, FileMaker Pro export, and account validation.
Brian Dunning\'s Weblet Shopping for Lasso and CDML is a collection of format files and databases for building your own shopping cart system. It provides a full-featured, customizable cart for connecting a product database to the web. The $90 collection is compatible with FileMaker 4/5, Lasso 3.6, and CDML 4/5. Other Weblets are available for charting, chat, and managing contacts.
WiebeTech has reduced pricing by more than $150 on MicroGB, its high-performance, FireWire/USB2.0 pocket drive, featuring a distinctive, rugged, solid aluminum case. The 20GB, 30GB, 40GB, and 48GB are available for $220, $300, $330, and $440, respectively.
FontZone has an article on a high-profile font piracy case in which 11 foundries have brought charges against an internet user for uploading commercial font bundles to public websites and newsgroups. (The case was settled out of court earlier this year.)
Drew McCormack today released Trade Strategist 0.1a, a trading simulation program, which allows users to combine the technical indicators found on online investing sites into \"trading strategies\". It then takes the strategies and performs \"virtual\" trading on historical data downloaded from the web, allowing users to visualize \"how much she would have made or lost adopting the strategy. She can then either discard the strategy, or improve upon it. The best strategies can be swapped with other Trade Strategist users.\"
UBS Warburg analyst Don Young raised has raised his estimates third quarter and full year estimates on Apple, citing lower costs for building its popular iMac personal computer, according to Reuters.
Adobe is now shipping FrameMaker 7.0, its XML authoring and publishing solution. It includes the structured authoring tools for both XML and SGML (previously available as a separate purchase) as well as a new, simple WYSIWYG word processing interface. The software\'s template-driven environment can publish single source documents to multiple channels, including print, PDF, Web, eBooks and PDAs. It also now supports World Wide Web Distributed Authoring and Versioning (WebDAV) and Adobe\'s XMP (Extensible Metadata Platform). The desktop version is $800, while a special upgrade offer of $210 is available through August 22nd (after which upgrades are $350). FrameMaker Server 7.0 is $8,000. (An OS X version is not yet available.)
Angelo Scicolone has released XChar 2.0, a new version of the OS X utility that allows you to use find/insert characters. This new version adds compatibility for applications which do not support Drag and Drop and also allows to copy the font and style along with the character. (Last week we noted PopChar Pro 1.0, another similar utility. PickChar 1.0 is also a freeware alternative.)
Apple today released an updated iBook with processor speeds up to 700MHz. The new iBook includes double the on-chip level 2 cache (now 512k), a more powerful 16MB ATI Mobility Radeon graphics processor and larger hard drives. Apple claims the new iBook runs up to 35 percent faster than previous models (in CPU performance tests such as encoding a song from an audio CD into an MP3 file using iTunes). The new iBooks also feature a new video-out port that supports VGA output, as well as S-video and composite video with optional adapter.
PrintMagic 1.1 brings enhancements and bug fixes to Stephen Becker\'s useful printing utility for OS X that offers the ability to print all or parts of any document, drag & drop printing, annotation of existing documents, and other features. A 30-day demo of the $25 utility is available online. It is a free upgrade for v1.0 owners.
The Alpha-Cabal has posted the second public beta release of Alpha8 v8.0v2, the next generation of the Alpha text editor: \"We are a small group of Alpha users who have taken over its development from the original author P.Keleher...Alpha8 contains many changes & fixes to the core Alpha application; e.g. Tcl 8.3.4 is now used internally, which results in large speedups for many complex operations.\" AlphaX, OS X native version of Alpha8,is currently in private alpha testing with a public release is planned for later this year.
MPlayerOSX Package 0.1 is an installation package OSX that contains and OS X port of MPlayer, The Movie Player for Linux, which offers playback of 3ivx, DivX 3,4,5 and other codecs files in the fullscreen mode with sound. The package also contains MPlayerOSXgui, a Cocoa-based graphical frontend for mplayer.
OpenOSX today began shipping its Office 1.0 v2 CD, which fixes a potential localization bug with AbiWord, that would prevent the application from launching under certain conditions. (AbiWord is an open-source alternative to Microsoft Word. Gnumeric is a world-class spreadsheet with 95 percent of the functions of Microsoft Excel built-in.) A free update is also available online.
Ozone v2.0 is a major retail update to E-on Software\'s popular 3D plug-in for LightWave. Ozone generates realistic and convincing atmospheric effects that can be added to 3D scenes in LightWave, a popular 3D rendering suite. Version 2.0 adds new algorithms with \"breakthrough\" results, according to the developer; fast-rendering technology, animated clouds and sunsets, and over one hundred predefined atmospheric designs. Ozone 2.0 will be released at Siggraph 2002 in San Antonio, TX and will ship at an expected retail price of $249.
To The Point Software has released snapHappy v1.0, the initial release of the developer\'s $14 image management utility. Users of snapHappy can resize, rotate, crop and rename pictures as well as save images in a variety of standard formats. Photos can be printed, collected into slideshows and even converted to screen savers.
Sugar Cube Software\'s open-source CocoaSpriteKit has reached the second stage of beta testing with the release of CocoaSpriteKit b2 for Mac OS X. CocoaSpriteKit is built from the ground up with Objective-C, and utilizes Apple\'s Quartz compositing engine. Although mainly designed for 2D games, developers are encouraged to find more creative uses for the CSK technology. Beta 2 offers improved screen saver support, introduces a formal plug-in architecture for games, and adds a runtime debugging tool.
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French show carries on with iPhones
Following a prolonged power loss in a French TV studio, the crew was able to use a combination of limited studio lighting and a number of iPhones to continue taping the Saturday episode of talk show On n'est pas couché ("We're Still Awake"), using the resulting footage in the first edited episode. The Plus-model iPhones used for the impromptu shoot completion were either iPhone 6 Plusses (which shoot in 1080p) or 6s Plus models (which can shoot in 4K). The decision to use the iPhones to complete the show was made after a power outage at France 2's studio stretched to more than three hours. http://bit.ly/299wqDt
Scrivener for iOS to arrive in late July
For some long-time Scrivener users, to quote Paul Simon, "these are the days of miracle and wonders." As it marks its 10th anniversary in business, developer Keith Blount has announced that the long-awaited iOS version of his creative-writing tool Scrivener is to be submitted to the App Store, following strong praise from beta-testers. The program, expected in late July, will sell for $20 and work with both the iPad and iPhone. When we interviewed Blount last January, he added that Scrivener 3 for Mac would follow along shorty afterwards. http://bit.ly/2901XLE
WhatsApp now handles over 100M calls daily
WhatsApp is celebrating that it is being used for over 100 million calls every day. In a brief notice, the Facebook-owned messaging platform advises the voice-calling feature it rolled out to its users last year now deals with an average of over 1,100 calls initiated per second. Earlier this year, it increased the security of its calls and other messages, by introducing end-to-end encryption on all platforms. http://bit.ly/292HqCX
Adele's '25' album now streaming
Recording artist Adele has "pulled a Kanye" after saying that her current album "25" would not be available for streaming. The seven-month-old record, which has yielded a number of hit singles, is now available for streaming on all the major streaming services, such as Apple Music and Spotify, as of today in most major markets, with worldwide distribution to come. Reportedly, the singer had demanded streaming be limited to paid subscribers -- a condition that has hurt some streamers with artists, who aren't paid royalties for free or trial listens . Apple pays performers its normal royalty rates during its free trial, avoiding the issue -- and having repeated success in both signing up exclusives and placing those exclusives into the top of the charts. http://ti.me/28U7NOu
SanDisk iXpand case has battery, storage
A new iPhone 6 and iPhone 6s case from SanDisk appears to be the "holy grail" of accessories: a stylish and protective case that offers both extra storage as well as the option of extra battery power as well. The iXpand Memory case offers either 32GB, 64GB, or 128GB of additional storage incorporated into the case, and an optional add-on battery pack (sold separately) adds up to an extra day or more of charge. Through the associated iXpand app, camera photos and videos can be automatically stored on the extra storage, optionally password-protected, The cost for the case is (in order of storage capacity) $60, $100, and $130. The battery pack's release data has not yet been announced, but the add-on should retail for an additional $30. http://bit.ly/291epHu
Fifth Hong Kong store to open June 30
The 46th official Apple store in what the company calls the "Greater China" region will open at 10AM local time in Hong Kong's New Town Plaza in the Sha Tin district on Thursday, June 30, according to a new page on Apple's retail website. Despite slowing growth due to economic turmoil in China, the country is still Apple's fastest-growing market. The new story will be the fifth for Hong Kong, a lucrative market for Apple thanks to the high concentration of wealth there and a thriving "gray" market. Normal store hours for the new store will be 10AM to 10PM every day. http://apple.co/291diaT
Apple Music bug bites very short songs
There appears to be a reproducible bug in the current version of iTunes -- version 12.4.1, running on OS X 10.11.5, both the current non-beta versions of the respective software -- that causes a streamed song to become "stuck" in endless buffering if the streamed item just before this happened was 60 seconds or less in length. The problem appears to stem from code in iTunes that signals the next track to start downloading one minute before the currently-playing track is done, and thus songs shorter than one minute don't trigger the download. Locally-stored music is unaffected by the bug, and the problem does not appear to exist in either the macOS Sierra developer beta or versions of iTunes earlier than 12.4, and does not affect the iOS Music app at all. http://bit.ly/291cN0l