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Evening tech news: After years of concern over the lack of effective wireless LAN (WLAN) security, players in the WLAN arena have agreed on a security specification that addresses most of the vulnerabilities; the Washington Post has a published a comparative report that reviews the Apple PowerBook G4 and the Dell Inspiron; Hewlett-Packard today posted quarterly results before items that beat the most optimistic Wall Street forecasts.
Stupendous Software has released the "Big & Bold" plug-in pack ($25) for Apple's iMovie video editing package. It contains 40 titles, featuring a variety of motions and graphical elements. The plug-in pack is available for free to registered users of the Stupendous Bundle. The Stupendous Bundle -- the developer's $200 all-in-one collection of plug-in packs -- now includes 13 iMovie plug-in packs featuring 347 effects and titles ranging from color correction to slow motion. [Download - 46KB] Lux 2.0 is an update to the Mac OS X adaptation of the popular Risk board playing game. Version 2.0 introduces a multiplayer mode for gaming over the Internet. A game finder is built in to make hosting and joining games simple. [Download - 2.3MB] Pariahware has released File Stitcher 1.0, a Mac OS X utility that gives users an easy way to merge files together. File Stitcher is made with REALbasic. "Simply drag and drop files onto the File Stitcher icon and click the button in the main window." File Stitcher is shareware and costs $5 to register. A 30-day trial period is included. [Download - 794KB] After three beta releases, crispSofties has made available the final release of iPod.iTunes 2.1. "iPod.iTunes provides real synchronization of tracks and playlists from any iPod to any Mac," It can be used to: keep music and playlists on different Macs up to date, do a full restore of tracks and playlists, revert accident deletion of tracks and/or playlists, clone an iPod, and transfer an entire music library from one Mac to another via the iPod. Version 2.1 adds support for AAC, iTunes 4 compatibility, and support for the latest iPod firmware. [Download - 473KB] Five12 has released version 1.1 of Numerology. Noteworthy new features include Gate Division for sequencing complex rhythm patterns, a MIDI Learn mode for remote control via MIDI CC, and new modules for processing control signals. [Download - 2.5MB] Eudora Mailbox Cleaner 3.0 adds direct import of nicknames into the Address Book (including all group information), and import of mailing lists. "Since this requires the AddressBook.framework, MacOS X 10.2 or higher is required," the developer notes. Mailbox Cleaner prepares Eudora accounts to be imported to Apple's Mail.app. [Download - 341KB]
ackNOWLEDGE today announced that its recently introduced iSkin ProTouch is now shipping. The iSkin ProTouch ($36) is a durable, made-to-fit silicone skin that sits above the Apple Pro Keyboard protecting it against dust, dirt, finger oils and spills that lead to wear, damage or malfunction. The iSkin ProTouch is made of soft, flexible high-grade silicone and is custom molded to fit the contours of the Apple Pro Keyboard’s keys, allowing users to type freely without ever having to remove the protector. The ProTouch requires no adhesives and may washed if dirt buildup occurs. It is available in nine Skin Tones (colors) including White Frost, Blue Mist, Cherry Pop, BubbleGum, Abyss, Aqua, LimeLight, Lemonade and Creamsicle.
Aspyr has announced that it is bringing Zoo Tycoon to the Mac with the conversion is being done the fine folks at Westlake Interactive: "In Zoo Tycoon, you'll be challenged to build the most healthy and vibrant zoo possible. With an easy to learn interface, you can begin planning your strategy and building your ultimate zoo the moment you start the game. Which is a good thing since you'll need to build, manage, and maintain a zoo with over 200 animals, exhibits, and zoo materials. Plan wisely, because your success depends on your ability to keep the animals happy! Zoo Tycoon - enjoy the fun and challenge of building and managing the ultimate zoo." The $50 title will run on Mac OS 9 and Mac OS X.
Destineer's MacSoft has begun shippping Tropico: Mucho Macho Edition. The "definitive" Tropico compilation offers a substantial amount of new content, including the original Tropico, the Paradise Island expansion pack, 12 new scenarios, the Brady Games strategy guide, and an in-depth "making-of" featurette: "In Tropico: Mucho Macho Edition, the player is installed as “El Presidente” of a small Caribbean Island. Players manage the island’s resources and its people in this graphically stunning building game flavored with the spice of Latin American political intrigue." The $20 strategy game runs on Mac OS 9 and Mac OS X. [site not updated]
BIAS is shipping both the stand-alone edition and plug-in update of SoundSoap, a digital audio signal processing tool. The professional-quality noise reduction solution can remove unwanted hiss, room noise, rumble, electrical hum, and other background noise from almost any digital media file. The stand-alone version allows anyone to use SoundSoap without requiring a compatible VST or DirectX host application. SoundSoap 1.1 stand-alone edition and version 1.0.1 of the plug-in for Mac OS X 10.2 are now available as free downloadable updates to all registered users. New licenses are $100.
MacNN reader Jason Titus notes that that he has written up a Mac OS X Filesystem Performance Comparison: "I just finished a long set of benchmarking and analysis of how well the various filesystems perform on Mac OS X and thought you might be interested in checking out the results. I used IOZone to benchmark HFS+ w/ and w/o journaling, HFS, UFS, and ext2 (using the alpha driver on SourceForge by Brian Bergstrand). Nothing too surprising, but I found it interesting that HFS+ was not that much better than some of the others. Ext2 seems like it has some potential to me - while it is much slower in small writes, it is faster in some reads, and hasn't even been optimized yet."
dot software's Aquaruler 4.2 is a multipurpose screen measuring utility for Mac OS X, featuring an edge ruler, mouse XY coordinates, drag ruler, measure box, resolution box, screen guides, full screen cross hair, customizable pixels per inch, zoom functions, angle tools, and a zap ruler. The $11 shareware runs on Mac OS X. SwapSwapVM 0.99b8 is an AppleScript application made with Smile written to change the target volume (disk; partition) for the Virtual Memory swapfiles in OS X 10.2.x Jaguar. It has bee tested on various configurations under OS X 10.2.0 through 10.2.6. [1.5MB] Redcort Software today released Virtual TimeClock Pro 4.5, an update to its cross platform software replacement for traditional employee time clocks. Version 4.5 is a free maintenance release with improved cross platform and data file sharing on Mac OS networks, custom font sizes, and other improvements. New licenses are $180 with upgrades starting at $90. [Classic, OSX] Pariahware has released File Stitcher 1.0, a Mac OS X utility that gives users an easy way to merge files together. The $5 shareware allows users to simply drag and drop files onto the File Stitcher icon. A 30-day trial is available. [795KB] Mek & Tosj have released iRNAi, a tool for molecular biologists that helps with RNA interference, a common technique for determining the function of genes within our genome. It offers instantaneous recognition of potential target sequences, automatic generation of oligonucleotides, customizable search and primer settings, text export, automatic database search, and other functions. [1.3MB] Ovolab today released AAChoo 1.1, its full-featured AAC converter that converts all your MP3 songs as well as any other sound file to AAC, the new high-quality compact audio format at the core of MPEG-4. The new version preserves song tags, such as genre, that QuickTime would otherwise discard when converting MP3 files to AAC. [246KB] VVI has released an update to its Interface Builder Graph Palette, adding support for templates, bar and column chart labels, more format types, and support for distributed processing among multiple servers as well as expanded documentation. The Interface Builder palette allows developers to add basic chart types to your custom OS X applications. Pricing starts at $90 for Vvidget User (students).
Apple today announced that this week marks the second anniversary of opening its first retail store in May 2001, noting that it has since opened 57 retail stores in 26 states, hosted over 15 million visitors and sold over $650 million of products through its retail stores. More than 1,100 Apple employees work in Apple's retail stores and there is an Apple store location within 15 miles of 90 million people in the U.S. Apple also announced that during the next 12 months it plans to open 20 new Apple retail stores, including its first store in downtown Chicago, on North Michigan Avenue; its first store in San Francisco, in Union Square; and its first retail store outside of the U.S., in Tokyo's Ginza shopping district. These three locations will be high profile store formats, like Apple's popular "SoHo" retail store in New York City.
Now AAPL Stock: 93.99 ( + 0.29 )
Rogue Amoeba Piezo updated, departing App Store
In order to continue working on audio capture tool Piezo, developer Rogue Amoeba has simultaneously updated the app to version 1.5, and announced that it will pull version 1.2.6 from the Mac App Store. Customers who own the Mac App Store version have a one-time migration process to the Rogue Amoeba-served version. The company notes that the sandboxing restriction placed on Mac App Store versions "effectively stopped our ability to upgrade Piezo in any meaningful way." [8.80MB] http://bit.ly/1PIjz7l
FCC spectrum auction will happen without Google
After throwing its hat in earlier, Google (and associated companies) has declared that it is not participating in this year's FCC spectrum auction. A company spokeswoman said of the auction that "like all those interested in improved connectivity and equitable access, we'll be following the upcoming spectrum auction closely. That said, we have not filed to participate." http://on.recode.net/1oy5LWk
iPad Air 3, iPhone 5se sold Friday after launch?
Reverting the way products are actually released by Apple after an announcement to the way it was a decade ago, reports are circulating that new products revealed at a March announcement will go on sale the Friday immediately following the unveil. Slated to appear at a conjectural Tuesday, March 15 event are a new Apple four-inch phone with more up to date internals currently referred to as the iPhone 5se, and a new iPad Air 3 model with Smart Connector and other enhancements. http://bit.ly/1o7mqiY
Lexmark prevails in toner import appeal
Printer manufacturer Lexmark has won an appeal on the third-party US resale of its printer cartridges originally destined for markets outside North America. The appeals court ruled in a 10-2 vote in favor of Lexmark's demand to stop the sale and against Impression Products, both on the toner cartridge resale matter, as well as a related matter regarding overturning the reseller's refilling one-use cartridges and selling those in the US market. The ruling has ramifications in the tech industry, as well as the pharmaceutical and medical technology markets. Impression Products promises an appeal before the supreme court. http://reut.rs/1SLVmmG
AT&T expands BOGO promo to iPhone 6s
Beginning today, new and existing AT&T customers can purchase a new iPhone 6s and get another one free when adding a second line. Over the weekend, customers must purchase two phones through AT&T Next (one can be an existing number), and add both phones to a qualified plan. AT&T notes that "after three bill cycles or less" the account will start to receive up to $650 spread out over 30 monthly bill credits to offset the cost of the installment plan for the phone. Taxes are due at time of sale. http://soc.att.com/1SLUP4k
Google prevails in UK street mapping case
Possibly setting the stage for other court battles in the UK, a High Court fight between Google and StreetMap.EU has concluded in Google's favor. StreetMap.EU claimed that Google's dominance in the field destroyed the 20-year-old firm's business, when Google started promoting its own service in search results over the older company's -- the judge disagreed. Commercial director Kate Sutton said after the judgment that "StreetMap has been frozen in time; because of what Google did, StreetMap has not been able to properly invest in the website since 2007." An appeal is planned. http://bloom.bg/1KKhECt
TestFlight updated for iOS, watchOS
Apple on Thursday updated its developer-oriented TestFlight software to version 1.3.2 for compatibility with apps being developed for iOS 9.3 watchOS 2.2, along with the usual "stability and performance improvements." Some developers, however, are still reporting some issues loading beta apps onto the watchOS 2.2 beta. The latest beta for developers was released on Monday, and is available through the App Store or Apple's developer portal. [3.60MB] http://apple.co/1PQ64pF