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 Keyboardís 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 ďEl PresidenteĒ of a small Caribbean Island. Players manage the islandís 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: 94.02 ( -2.58 )
Apple expands CloudKit API, provides web interface
On Friday, Apple notified developers that it was expanding a feature of CloudKit to allow for server-to-server web service requests. "In addition to providing a web interface for users to access the same data as your app, you can now easily read and write to the CloudKit public database from a server-side process or script with a server-to-server key," Apple said in its announcement. Previously, interaction with the CloudKit public database was limited to apps and web only. http://apple.co/20h1RwP
Remote S for Tesla Apple Watch app drives car out
Developer Allen Wong has created the Remote S for Tesla app, which can be used to remotely activate the Model S electric car via an Apple Watch, and drive it a short distance. Aside from providing data about the car and some basic function controls, the unofficial app uses the manufacturer's Summon command to allow the car to turn on, exit the garage, and park near to the user's location. The app is available to purchase from the App Store for $10. http://apple.co/1PprF4t
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