Tech news: Microsoft is quietly preparing for a counterattack to iTunes by improving its own technology for supporting subscription music services; The California State Senate approved a bill that would make it illegal to send unsolicited e-mail advertising and allows people to sue spammers for $500 per unwanted message, while a new proposal in the House promises to slap the worst bulk e-mailers with prison terms and millions of dollars in fines; Kazaa file-sharing software is on track to become the most-popular free program on the Web with over 230 million downloads; and Amazon.com has announced it will use Microsoft's Windows Media 9 Series products to stream music samples to customers from its sites (e.g., CDnow.com, VirginMega.com and Borders.com).
Mac Design Magazine announced today that individuals in the greater Chicago area will soon get the chance to preview the new QuarkXPress 6.0. Quark will be demonstrating 6.0 in their booth (#118) at the new Mac Design Conference Expo Hall next week. Also exhibiting at the conference will be Adobe Systems, Inc. (booth #317), who will be there to highlight the benefits of their various software products, including Adobe InDesign. The Mac Design Conference will be held May 28-30, 2003, at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center.
Alias|Wavefront announced today that tickets are now on sale for Maya MasterClasses seminars being held at the SIGGRAPH 2003 Conference in San Diego, CA. The sessions will be held July 28 – August 2, 2003. Accomplished industry professionals from production companies such as Sony Pictures Imageworks, WETA Digital, Walt Disney Studios, ILM and Meteor Studios will lead the sessions. "The Maya MasterClasses will be packed with the most up-to-date tips and techniques in the computer graphics industry," the company says. A total of 21 unique seminars will be held. Tickets start at $200 USD for two classes and are available for early bird pricing until June 15th.
MacASP 1.13 offers server-side processing for Mac web servers to allow the creation of dynamic web sites. The new version adds enhanced sendmail function, new Error_Message() function, email address verification, MacHTTP 2.6 virtual hosting compatibility and a lot of fixes and improvements. It is free for use with Apple's Personal Web Sharing Classic and MacHTTP, and 300 Euros for other Mac web servers. CG Software has released Computer Admin Pro 3.5, an application that combines asset management software with a help desk solution. It lets you easily store and retrieve detailed information on both hardware and software as well as analyze recurring computer and software problems by viewing histories. Version 3.5 includes several enhancements. It is $150 per seat or $1000 per site license. [6.6MB] X2 Studios is seeking beta testers for XMMS Remote 2.0, which will include a playlist feature and an 'Aquafied' interface. The freewarwe XMMS Remote is a two part software solution that uses web-services to remotely control and display the status of the xmms media player. xDNS builder 2.0 is a new utility for administrators of web servers: "With it, you can set up or maintain Domain Name Service (DNS) on Mac OS X or Mac OS X server. Mac OS X already has this capability, but it's currently limited to access through the Terminal." Version 2.0 can manage primary and slave domains, manage alias, MX records, and other settings; it also has a new interface with beginner and expert modes. The application is $80 with unlimited free upgrades and one year of support via email. [download not yet available] piDog Software has released TelnetLauncher 2.5.6 and ScreenShot Plus v1.0.3. TelnetLauncher (shareware) is a bookmarking utility for launching telnet and ssh sessions using Apple's Terminal application. ScreenShot Plus ($5 shareware) is an enhancement to Mac OS X's built-in screencapture tool normally accessed by pressing shift-cmd-4. [TL, SSP] Joost Markerin's uEdit 1.1 is a simple plain text editor that can insert or mainupulate text-parts created by text files or AppleScripts in plain text documents with a single click, start a new document from templates, and debug HTML, AppleScript, Perl and Python code. It also offers zoomable text and export as Unicode text, Rich Text Files '.rtf' and as Microsoft Word '.doc' files. [869KB] Bosco's Foto Trimmer 2.0b1 is an update to the digital photo utility that scales, stretches, squishes, rotates, flips, and trims images. It can also adjust the brightness, contrast, and color level of your image. The $22 utility now supports iTunes (album cover art) as well as iPhoto. It also adds fixed-size trimming, free rotation, auto-zoom, full-screen mode, and other features. [Classic, OSX]
Infoworld reports: "The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) has approved a new and final draft standard for 802.11g wireless LANs that will have a true throughput for Internet-type connections of between 10M and 20Mbit/sec., far lower than 54Mbit/sec. raw data rate initially billed for the standard....he lower actual vs. raw data rates for 802.11g arose from the need to assure backward compatibility with millions of existing 802.11b Wi-Fi client devices and access points that operate in the same 2.4-GHz frequency band....even at these data rates the 802.11g devices still outperform 802.11b devices, which have a raw data rate of 11Mbit/sec. but an actual throughput of about half that speed." Apple adopted a preliminary version of the standard for its AirPort Extreme products and touted a 54Mbps througput. A MacNN reader followed up on the article: "The article is misleading. The 802.11g now provides for 'better' backward compatibility in mixed environments, which will slow transmission (by about 2Mbps) on networks with both 802.11b and 802.11g devices. However, the networks almost never achieve the theoretical transmission maximums--in this case 54Mpbs on an 802.11g-only network; the actual transmission speeds of *both* the older and newly revised 802.11g standard is somewhere between 20-24Mpbs. So the revised standard may slow things a bit in mixed environments, but not as much as the article makes it seem."
KB roundup: Apple explains how to troubleshoot burn underrun protection issues ("Unknown Error -2147352480" alert) when burning a disc; Under Mac OS X, items copied to another account's Drop Box (located in ~/Public on the same volume) may not be accessible by the account owner; and The Mac OS X Keychain application may store your Mail account password even if you tell it not to.
BombSquad 1.2 is an update to the shareware game for Mac OS X. It is based on the popular Windows Minesweeper puzzle/game. In addition to a few bug fixes, BombSquad now "allows users to 'Zap Click' a number if the adjacent bombs have already been marked. This will reveal the surrounding squares without you having to click them off one by one. Games a;sp now end with a "Fortune Cookie" - a clever saying or quote to cheer your day." It is $5 shareware and runs on Mac OS X. [205KB] stupidFish programming has released beta 3 of its Diabetes Management Application, InsulinDiaryX. The simple application is designed to help people with Diabetes to easier keep track of their blood sugar and insulin dosage levels. The new beta includes printing and graphing support, customizable date and time formats and a refined user interface and various bug fixes. [393KB] DVDxDV 1.04 is "designed to extract your home movies off of a DVD. After a DVD is created, the original source material can get lost or damaged. When this happens, there is no easy way to get the video off the DVD and back into the computer where it can be re-edited." This version features better reliability and performance. A 30-day trial of the $25 application is available. [613KB] Selznick has released PasswordWallet 2.7.4, which addresses issues with copying and pasting between multiple files and notes, and Palm synchronization. PasswordWallet is an easy-to-use, safe, secure utility to store usernames, passwords, PIN numbers, combinations and notes. A $5 off coupon ('A523') is available on the $15 utilty through the end of June. [1.3MB] Navicast, a Web TV media system based on QuickTime, MPEG4 and Mac OS X has been upgraded with new features. It now features the ability to play an intro movie clip before each Navicast channel session, new slideshows functions for still images, and the ability to generate a printable list of all subtitles and corresponding time codes of a movie. The suite allows you an create and maintain your unique channel on the Internet, offering functions to edit, compress, upload, and broadcast movies. Directors NoteBook 1.5.2 is an update to the project management software now gives users the option to choose their job title from a pull down menu. Other new features in this release are alpha numeric shot numbers and a new Zoom feature in Presentation Mode for Bluetooth remotes like Salling Clicker. It functions as a digital "project notebook", organizing all information creative professionals need access to during preproduction, production, and post. Pricing starts at $170. [SA, Pro] YazSoft today released Speed Download 1.9.9, an update to its download acceleration and management utility. The latest version is optimized for the new Safari beta (1.0v74), updates SD PLUGINs for speed and compatibility with more servers, has improved handling of certain .ZIP files, and other enhancements. A single license is $20, while two single-user licenses is $30, when purchased together.
OpenOSX.com began shipping its $30 Gimp 1.2.4 CD, an easy-to-use solution for installing and utilizing the popular, open-source "The GIMP" software that offers users sophisticated photo manipulation and graphic tools. The new edition brings: updated software, additional features, enhanced stability and was entirely rebuilt for "Jaguar" delivering over 200% increased performance over previous versions of the product. It is available immediately for $30 and upgrades from previous versions are $15.
The Baltimore Sun discusses the legal issues surrounding streaming iTunes songs over the Internet and the various methods hackers devised to use the sharing function to download songs from one another's drives: "the Advanced Audio Coding file-compression format that Apple uses in its music store prevents large-scale streaming or downloading, as AAC-coded songs can only be played on three Macs authorized by the same user account. Streaming and downloading AAC-coded songs to strangers doesn't work."
Amazon and AOL as well as MSN and others are scrambling to play catch up with Apple's iTunes Music Store: "Since the launch of Apple’s iTunes music store on April 28, talks have intensified between the major record labels, various leading Internet services and technology providers to offer paid download singles to online consumers," according to a MSNBC report. "But in the wake of the Apple surprise, record industry executives have become more reasonable and flexible in negotiations for rights to their artists’ music, insiders say. EMI's Cohen calls the excitement a 'big halo effect,' predicting that a number of digital music storefronts could open in the next few months."
Now AAPL Stock: 94.02 ( -2.58 )
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,Â Desktop HDD 3TB, Backup Plus 3TB External Hard DiskÂ Drive,Â 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