Babel Company has released Impression 1.0, the initial general release of its backup utility for Mac OS X. The developer has added multi-directory backup support and a help system per beta users' requests. Impression can be used to back up directories to (and restore them from) multiple optical discs (CD-R, CD-RW, and DVD-R are supported). It includes a utility for erasing re-writable discs.
MacMice today unveiled a new frosted version of its popular IceMate base stand for the Griffin Technology PowerMate USB controller. The new fully-frosted IceMate traps the blue light that the PowerMate emits, and displays it as a blue glow all around its surface. Both the original clear and the new frosted IceMate base stands for the PowerMate improve not only the good looks of the PowerMate, but add better ergonomics and better long-term resistance to the PowerMate sliding on a desk surface, according the the manufacturer. The $20 IceMate is machined from a solid billet of bead-blasted acrylic.
Apple today describes the following issues in its AppleCare knowledge base: when the Mac OS X firewall is active, you cannot send or receive a file via iChat; with some DVD-Video discs you may notice a narrow distortion or discoloring at the left or right edge of the picture; a Power Mac G4 (Mirrored Drive Doors) computer with a ATI Radeon 9000 Pro graphics card installed may have difficulty waking from sleep; when a SCSI or Fibre Channel PCI card is installed in an Xserve or Xserve (Slot Load) and no boot path has been selected, a startup delay of up to 7 minutes may occur.
SQL4X Manager J 2.5 is a public preview of the $60 database management tool for professional users, Web site creators and Mac OS X developers. Version 2.5 adds: the ability to graphically create and alter table definitions and mosfiy SQL views; an enhanced assistant to easily create and manage database connections; Keychain password storage; and a redesigned interface. [Download - 2.7MB] Sapphire Innovations has released a free update to 'Andrew's (Vector) plugins Vol 4 - Multi-Tool 1' -- a plug-in set for Illustrator 10. New features include improved paint path effects, jitter/noise effects, random placement options, additional paint/mouse cursor effects. The set costs $24. [Download - link not functional] ShortCat 1.0 allows you to set up Web site URL "shortcuts" to access length URLs with a signle word. The shortcuts can be used together with keywords for easy use of search engines. [Download - 746KB] AOL Instant Messenger 4.5.995 is now available for Mac OS 9 & X. AOL has not made available details of the release, which builds on previous versions of the popular instant messaging service. [Download - 3.2MB] YOW* has released version 2.0 of its Girl loop mixing instrument software. The update includes a surround sound mixer for multi-channel performance or studio mixing on anywhere from 3 to 16 channels. The new version also provides a cleaner interface, improved session management, comprehensive MIDI control, new live recording features, MIDI clock and tapped tempo sync, transport control from MIDI sequencers, support for Cycling 74's Pluggo VST plug-ins, support for VST instruments, and enhanced efficiency. Girls is priced at $100. [Download - Classic, OS X] Macaroni 1.3.4 is a maintenance update to the automated system maintenance tool for Mac OS X that adds a "self-repair" capability so that Macaroni can recover from certain types of corruption. Macaroni handles regular maintenance for Mac OS X's Unix core. Normally these tasks run on a regular schedule, in the middle of the night. [Download - 572KB] iAlarm 1.5 is an update to the Mac OS X utility for setting up regular alarms. iAlarm provides 5 basic alert types for users; play iTunes, speak the local weather, speak the headline news, speak a custom message and of course a standard beep. Advanced users can create their own custom AppleScript to be executed by iAlarm or select text files to be spoken. Version 1.5 adds the ability to wake the computer up from sleep, news customization, and iTunes playlist, in addition to iTunes volume control and a sleep timer. [Download - 502KB]
Digital Meadow today announced the release of Studycard Studio 1.0, which allows users to create and memorize multimedia, multilingual flashcards, quizzes and tutorials, including picture and sound identification, or spelling tests with speech. It supports fill-in-the-blank, multiple choice, multiple answer, and true/false questions and can create tutorials by adding informative explanations to follow wrong or correct answers. The software supports drag & drop of graphics and other custom layout options. A free "Lite" version of the $30 application is also available. [3.1MB] Maxprog's iCash 1.1 is a $25 shareware personal finance and money manager designed to track incomes, expenses, credits, debts and banks transactions. It offers unlimited categories, multiple account creation, a SQL backend engine, password protection, export/import routines, search functions, and drag & drop support. Version 1.1 is available now in English, German, French, Italian, Dutch and Spanish with several improvements, new features and bug fixes. [Classic, OSX] PineHill has released CreativePage 3.1, a "major" update to its web site creation software for Mac OS X. CreativePage 3.1 is a feature-full and powerful (X)HTML editor. It includes a new save engine, an improved interface, the ability to insert optimized versions of the assistant's output code, and support for Camino in preview in browser function. A demo of the $30 software is available. [1.7MB] Color Consultant Pro 1.0 is an interactive color wheel designed to help artists of all kinds apply color theory to design effective color schemes: "Like a traditional color wheel, CCP gives visual guidelines to how colors work together. But Color Consultant Pro goes beyond what a traditional color wheel can do." It supports both Scientific (additive/RGB) and Artistic (subtractive/RYB) color systems and allows color schemes to be saved and exported to various formats for use in other applications. The $35 application runs on both Mac OS 9 and Mac OS X. [2.2MB] The PandaWare Company has announced a public beta test of its new keyboard-powered file launcher and browser application, DiskWrangler. The system utility enables users to launch applications, files and Web and mail URLs from the keyboard. In addition, it has a disk browser which lets users view and manipulate files under keyboard control, allowing them to copy, move, delete and view and change file attributes and permissions. Deep Sky Technologies today announced the release of TCP Deux Professional v1.1.1, a 4th Dimension component which provides cross-platform TCP wrappers for different TCP plugins available for 4th Dimension. TCP Deux Professional is the source code version of the TCP Deux 4D component. Pricing starts at $200 for the first year.
Keynoteuser.com today announced its first "Pro" Keynote theme: lowercase. The "completely original theme" comes in two colors with three different shade variations in each color, offering the option to mix and match versions. lowercase also includes many extra slide layouts, large and custom photo cut-outs, seven pages of objects, a design guide, and PDF versions of both the objects and bullets for use elsewhere. It is available in "blue" beginning today with "orange" coming soon. The introductory price is $14 each, or $20 for both when "orange" ships.
The Mac Division of Smith Micro Software today announced a Bluetooth-enabled version of its QuickLink Mobile Mac wireless data connectivity solution. QuickLink Mobile Mac users can instantly connect wirelessly to the Internet via their Bluetooth-enabled mobile phone without the need for a tethered cable. Smith Micro also announced it's newest Mac version of QuickLink Mobile Mac now supports Sprint PCS' 1xRTT high-speed data network (in addition to wireless data networks provided by Verizon Wireless, Cingular Wireless, TELUS Mobility in Canada, AT&T Wireless Inc., Nextel Communications Inc. and T-Mobile). It will begin shipping in the second quarter of 2003 for $40. (The Website currently lists the product for $60.)
Legato Systems has added Mac OS X support with the release of NetWorker 7, its suite of disk backup/recovery utilities for enterprise-level, multiplatform environments. NetWorker 7 also offers the ability to simultaneously perform multiple reads and writes to disk as a backup target as well as a support for several ATA disk arrays from EMC CLARiiON, StorageTekís BladeStore and NetApp NearStore. It also includes improved restore performance at a directory level, automated tape cloning for disaster recovery, and expanded platform support for Windows 2003 Server, IBM AIX, Linux, HP Tru64, and Mac OS X. (Pricing not available.)
Algo Vision LuraTech today released its LuraWave.jp2 plug-in for Photoshop, which offers users (from version 4.0 upwards) a new plugin for that leverages the JPEG2000 standard for image compression. The image format JPEG2000 uses wavelet technology for greater compression of image data and to create smaller graphics files. As part of a special sales promotion, the plug-in is available for EUR 29.99 (incl. VAT)--more than 50% off. It is only available for Mac OS 9 or earlier (Adobe added JPEG2000 support for Photoshop 7 via a $100 plugin bundle announced last month. Meanwhile, j2K is a free Photoshop plug-in for reading and writing the JPEG 2000 file format, the successor to JPEG. It supports Photoshop 5.5 or later.)
MacNN readers that the Apple Store is currently offline with a note saying "We'll be back soon." The offline store, which is usually an indication of a new product announcement by Apple, may signal a new line of iPods due out later today, almost a month after the industry expected the announcement (as reported by Forbes.com). Update: The Apple Store is back online without any indication of new iPods; however, one reader notes that the original G3-based CRT iMac is no longer available: "A non-ceremonious departure for a once-revolutionary item, indeed." It continues to be available through the Apple Store Education, according to several other readers. Another reader notes the addition of a Cluster Node version of the Xserve for $2,799 (the same price as the low-end single-processor 1.33GHz Xserve). This model features a dual-1.33GHz PowerPC G4, but lacks a CD-ROM drive and an ATI graphics card. It also has a single Gigabit Ethernet Port and a limited version (10-client) of Mac OS X Server. [updated]
Mobility Electronics today announced a new Mac-compatible version of its Juice power adapter. Juice is "the first and only" product that enables users to simultaneously charge their laptop and a mobile phone or handheld from any power source -- either a standard wall outlet, auto outlet or airline outlet: "Juice's sleek, silver package combined with its all-in-one functionality makes the product appealing to Mac users who appreciate Apple's signature design and world-class performance." The $120 power adapter will be available later this month from the Apple Store, Apple retail stores, and other national retailers.
mac:method has released the final version of AACelerator 1.0, an utility that can encode audio files into MPEG-4 Advanced Audio Codec (AAC) audio files (the new encoding format included in QuickTime 6). "the same bit rates as MP3 files will result in audio files with superior sonic quality...allowing you to store your music collection in much less disk space." It features drag & drop support, encoding of hinted stream files, embedding of ID3 tags in files, streaming data rates between 8 kbps and 320 kbps, and batch processing. A registration fee of $12 will unlock the features to support creating hinted streaming files and embedding QuickTime Annotations. [497KB] AudioBookMaker 2.0 is an upgrade to the $3 utility that converts text files to audio files using Jaguar's built-in text-to-speech abilities. The resulting audio files may be then dragged into iTunes, used for multimedia projects, converted to MP3, and even carried with users on their iPods. Version 2 adds approximate words-per-minute control as well as the ability to control the length of preview and how to read numbers. [656KB] Altair Engineering has released PBS Pro 5.3, an application designed for the improved utilization of IT resources and skills at "enterprises with numerically intense computing environments." PBS Pro intelligently queues and schedules computation workload across complex networks to optimize hardware and software utilization while minimizing job turn-around times. It now offers support for Mac OS X and enhanced GRID functionality for bi-directional support for Globus V2, GRID FTP via x509 certificates, and peer scheduling. Detto Technologies announced that its consumer migration products Move2Mac (PC-to-Mac) will be available in Japan in the Spring 2003. Media Vision will act as the exclusive distributor in Japan for Detto's migration products and will localize, publish, and distribute Detto's products, with first customer shipments expected in the second quarter of 2003.
Red Rock Software, who parternerd with SPSS last October to bring DeltaGraph 5.0 for Mac OS X, will handle all sales and maintenance for DeltaGraph 5.0, accoding to a note received by the reader. The $300 charting application features a Formula Builder with over 50 mathematical and statistical functions and 80 different chart types and 200 different styles (2-D and 3-D). It is expected to ship on March 24, 2003 and is available for pre-order now. Upgrades are $200 from v4.x.
Now AAPL Stock: 94.02 ( -2.58 )
Seagate 3TB unreliability suit expands
The Seagate 3TB class-action hard drive lawsuit has been expanded to more devices. The expanded suit, filed today, now includes Seagate's Barracuda 3TB Hard Disk Drive,¬†Desktop HDD 3TB, Backup Plus 3TB External Hard Disk¬†Drive,¬†GoFlex 3TB External Hard Disk Drive, or any other Seagate hard drive with model number ST3000DM001. The law firm, Hagens Berman, is seeking information from consumers such as time in service, purchase price, and the nature of any drive received in return from Seagate as a replacement for a failed unit. http://bit.ly/1Pc34Cq
BlackBerry Canada, Florida hit with layoffs
The BlackBerry campus has reportedly been wracked with layoffs. Sources familiar with the company's Waterloo office staffing claim that close to 35 percent of the local workforce has been laid off, with the deepest cuts being made in the BlackBerry 10 OS and hardware teams. Additionally, the state of Florida has been officially notified that the company's Sunrise facility will see 75 people fired. Enthusiast site Mobilesyrup puts the layoffs at around 1000 total. http://bit.ly/1Pc1Rep
Instagram tests multiple account support for iOS
Instagram is trialling support for multiple accounts in its iPhone app with a small number of users. The Facebook-owned photo sharing service confirmed the reports of the tests to TechCrunch, which will allow a single user to manage more than a single account within the app, transferring between two or three accounts with a few taps. It is unclear when the feature will roll out to the public, but it has previously tested it with the Android version of the app since November. http://tcrn.ch/1SPKEKh
Foxconn CEO declares Sharp deal near done
The Foxconn bid for Sharp is allegedly only waiting on specific details of the deal. Foxconn CEO Terry Gou has declared that his company has privileged negotiation rights for the Apple iPhone screen supplier, saying that "we have a consensus, the rest is a process ... I don't see a problem completing this process." Gou hopes the deal, worth up to $5.6 billion, will be formalized by the end of February. http://reut.rs/1SPEQjN
MIT demoes 'Eyeriss' AI chip for mobile
At the International Solid State Circuits Conference in San Francisco this week, MIT researchers presented a new chip designed specifically to implement neural networks. The researchers claim that "Eyeriss" is 10 times as efficient as a mobile GPU, so it could enable mobile devices to run artificial-intelligence algorithms such as Siri or Cortana, rather than uploading all data to a remote server for processing. http://bit.ly/1TISJBe
Pocket for iOS adds readability settings
Offline reader iOS app Pocket has updated, with reader-friendly changes. With the new revision, premium subscribers can adjust character spacing, and choose from eight new fonts including one that makes it easier for sufferers of dyslexia to read saved content. The app itself is free, with a premium subscription available for $5 a month, or $45 a year. http://apple.co/1KuILBl
XCOM 2 ships on Steam for Mac, Windows
Feral Interactive today announced that the highly anticipated turn-based strategy game XCOM 2 is out now for OS X and Windows, and is available to buy through Steam and through the Mac App Store shortly. The sequel to the popular XCOM: Enemy Unknown, XCOM 2 is available as a standalone base game and as the XCOM 2 Digital Deluxe Edition. The XCOM 2 Digital Deluxe Edition comprises the base game, the Reinforcement Pack and the XCOM 2 digital soundtrack. Versions start at $60. http://bit.ly/1KuEFsX