MacNN reader Alex Koralewski notes that he (and several other readers) have successfully upgraded their PowerBook SuperDrives--using a Windows version of the OEM firmware--to support 16x CD-R write speeds (versus the 8x currently supported), 2x DVD-R write speeds (versus 1x), DVD-RWs, and also DVD-RAM disks, although he warns that there are obvious risks involved with the "hacked update" that he provides via a simple package installer.
Fortune's David Kirkpatrick says that HP's massive 158 consumer product rollout yesterday "is challenging competitors to keep up..'Is HP the new Apple?' Omar Wasow leaned over and asked me during the companyís massive product launch in New York Monday.... moving to become the Apple of the PC world.' Apple of course has led the way toward a vision of integrated digital consumer devices and software for imaging, music, and video. But HP didnít merely want to 'think different,' but to 'rethink everything.'"
Apple today released several Pro application updates, including its Pro Application Support 1.1 (1.5MB), which is strongly recommended for all users of Final Cut Pro, Cinema Tools, Compressor, LiveType, Soundtrack, and DVD Studio Pro. "[It] is required to receive future updates for these applications [and] includes performance enhancements for user interface drawing, increased color panel functionality, and general user interface stability and reliability." Apple's Cinema Tools 2.0.1, Compressor 1.01, Final Cut Pro 4.01, LiveType 1.01, and SoundTrack 1.01 are also available after installation of Pro Application Support 1.1 (re-run the Software Updater).
LimeWire 3.4.4 now allows users continue downloads that are awaiting sources. The P2P client also adds performance enhancements and other minor changes. The Pro version is $10, which includes an ad-free version of LimeWire, 6 months of free updates, and email support. [Classic, OSX] metaobject has updated its $27 PDF compression tool for Mac OS X: PdfCompress 4.2 makes the smallest possible text-only PDF files by optionally allowing all embedded fonts to be removed. This version also retains PDF meta data when squeezing files. [866KB] The $10 iSMS 2.06 adds Alltel (US carrier) support to the SMS app for Mac OS X that "allows you to send SMS messages to cell phones. [It] can automatically send your alarms to your cell phone and forward your email from any POP3 server to your cell phone (130 character limit)." [125KB] Safari Menu 1.6 let's you view all your Safari bookmarks from a system-wide menu. Users can go directly to any URL or use Google search and also customize which bookmarks you'd like to see in the menu. [199KB] Art Files 0.9 is a stand-alone application that takes the tedious task of collecting Illustrator (multiple) documents, linked images and fonts for graphics files and turns it into a simple point & click operation. It is $25 ($10 off) during the beta period. [667KB] Drag'n'tooth 1.1 is a Mac OS X utility ($10) for installing files onto your Palm via Bluetooth. Users cn transfer/install PRC/PDB files, install multiple files in a single transfer, install on an expansion card, and switch between different Palm devices using the Dock menu. [534KB]
MacNN reader Don Kellogg provided an update on a new Apple retail presence in Kalamazoo, MI: "We currently have a Best Buy store; however, it is not one of the stores to recieve Apple products. We currently do not have any Apple dealers, since Apple pulled out of Sears and Circuit City. People have to drive to Grand Rapids which is about 30 minutes away to look at products. A local Camera Store by the name of Normans was approached by Apple to start caring the company's products. They have a tech in training right now and the store will start selling Apple hardware and software in the near future....Kalamazoo is a large college town, we have around five colleges in the city alone."
dotmusic reports that "Apple could be gearing up for a fight with The Beatles' Apple Records label if the computer company continues making moves in the music industry....Fox News reports that Apple is now having meetings with the Apple Corp. Company that controls Apple Records with regard to their continuing ambitions for the iPod and iTunes line of their business."
A MacNN reader writes about Macs in a dedicated area at Best Buy, as noted by AppleInsider: "In Hobart, IN (near Chicago), the local Best Buy is now selling Macs in a dedicated section. They're stocking the eMac, iMac (15- and 17-inch), iBook (12-inch), Power Mac G4, and PowerBook G4 (12- and 15-inch). They're selling Mac software, too! Also, Best Buy service centers can now service Macs." However, another MacNN reader talks about the supporting marketing efforts: "Great that Best Buy will be carrying Apple products but Apple really needs to watch its Sunday supplements. Here in the SF Bay, they attached an iMac for $1,799 under an E-machine for $499..."
National Instruments today announced the LabVIEW Express VI Development Toolkit, its new add-on software for LabVIEW 7 Express that developers use to create interactive Express VIs. Express VIs significantly reduce development time and the learning curve associated with software tools by encapsulating the functionality of five to 15 standard virtual instruments (VIs) in single, interactive VIs that require little or no programming to configure.
KeyWebX 1.1 ($10) makes HTML slideshows from any PDF file, including Keynote and AppleWorks presentations or selected images in iPhoto. Users can control size, format, and quality of images generated by the extraction as well as create HTML templates. It offers slideshow previews and supports Keynote's interactive movies with transitions. [971KB] EasyBatchPhoto 1.2 offers photo converstion (JPEG, PNG, TIFF, Photoshop, GIF, etc.), image compression, resizing, and watermark functions. The free update to the $14 shareware adds an activity log of actions and fixes a few bugs. [421KB] The $10 shareware Function Keys Mapper 1.2 allows you to quickly open any application, file or folder with the function keys of your keyboard. It displays list of shortcuts in the menu bar and offers the ability to use several different modifiers (shift, control, option and command). [734KB] disclabel 1.0.1 updates SmileOnMyMac's CD labeling software for Mac OS X 10.2 with a fix for crashing on import from iTunes, faster iPhoto image import, a fix for saving designs with PSD files, and other bug fixes. Registration is $30. [2.9MB] The freeware Hydra 1.1.2 is a Rendezvous-based collaborative text editor that offers the abilty to share documents via local networks or the Internet, integration with ftp clients, Safari-powered live HTML previews, syntax highlighting, custom menus, and other features. [1.3MB] Galerie 2.8 is a freeware program for Mac OS X designed to export the current iPhoto selections to web pages. It supports accented characters, embedding EXIF data in Web pages, greater page customization, pictures quality selection, HTML templates, and the ability to embed text into the image. [555KB]
Belkin today introduced its Bluetooth Wireless Optical Mouse with USB Adapter ($80). Expected to be available in North America on October 1, 2003, it features a low battery indicator, an included adapter that supports Mac OS X 10.2.6's Bluetooth profile: The Belkin Bluetooth Mouse does not require a separate receiver and offers a range of up to 10 meters. It is designed to fit in the right hand. The included Bluetooth USB Adapter enables the user's desktop or notebook computer with Bluetooth technology, allowing connection of up to seven other Bluetooth devices.
A MacNN reader writes: "On Thursday, Apple will be opening a large store in the trendy COEX Mall in the south of Seoul. It's part of Apple's major push in Korea, which will feature a lot of deals and the iPod for Windows in Korean roll-out. It's a great location, big, in perhaps the most busy place in all of Korea. (The store is between the biggest bookstore in Korea and arguably the largest movie theater in the world)."
Loud, Inc. has released Loud Animation Studio 1.0 (announced last month), which supports advanced features to create stop-motion or other animations, including onion-skinning and "flicker" camera previews, timeline with audio waveforms to sync animations, moveable markers and more. The full-featured camera-based animation solution for Mac OS X offers support for stop-motion, claymation, paper-animation, and time-lapse animations. (Pricing not available.)
The Iconfactory's weekly freeware icon updates continue with a new addition to Corey Marion's popular Smoothicons collection. This release, which contains a total of 18 replacements icons, brings the series up to date with the latest Apple hardware and addresses a long-standing request, replacement icons for Apple's iApps including iCal, iChat, iPhoto and more. The collection is available in Mac OS X, Windows XP and Pixadex iContainer formats.
Connectix today sent out notices to its customers, noting that the transition of Virtual PC and Virtual Server (yet un-released technology) to Microsoft is almost complete: "As part of the Microsoft acquisition of the Virtual PC and Virtual Server technology and products, Connectix is in the final stages of transitioning the business to Microsoft, and plans to complete this transition by August 15, 2003. After August 15, Microsoft will oversee all future Virtual PC and Virtual Server product development, sales and support."
Software Construction Company (SCC) has released ImageMage ($40), which allows users to transform their digital images into fun and interesting shapes in real 3-D space. It can transform images into spheres or wrap them around cylinders or cones or cubes with options for adjusting the lighting (color, position and intensity), object color and rotation, and the composition viewing perspective angle. Images can be repeated over the surface as well as 'stretched' to cover the entire object. ImageMage offers JPEG export and an XML-formatted 'meta' data file. The company also released MediaVault ($40), its multimedia version tool that allows you to create a 'multimedia repository' in an XML-based data file.
Bare Bones Software today began shipping its TextWrangler 1.5 text editor for Mac OS X with full AppleScript support and syntax coloring and function navigation for nine new languages. TextWrangler offers robust editing capabilities--including grep-style find/replace, sort lines and process duplicates lines, workflow integration, and FTP support--in an affordable $50 software package. The free update now expands syntax coloring and source-code navigation to include Fortran, Java, Object Pascal, Perl, Python, Rez, Tcl, TeX, and Unix shell script.
Concord Camera today debuted the company's first two digital cameras using Charge-Coupled Device ("CCD") technology. The Eye-Q 3340z, available now, features a 3 Megapixel (MP) CCD sensor and a 3x internal optical zoom system and 4x digital zoom, while the Eye-Q 4060AF, due later this month, offers a 4MP CCD sensor as well as a 6x digital zoom. Both models come with 16MB of internal flash memory, are equipped with an SD card slot, and have five pre-set scene modes. The cameras also offer manual white balance, Macro mode, a continuous shooting mode (seven uninterrupted pictures within two seconds), video mode, a 1.5-inch color LCD, and USB connectivity. Each camera is $250.
Microsoft Mac BU today announced new editions of its productivity suite, Office v. X for Mac, and reduced pricing on existing suite. The new product line includes Office v. X for Mac Professional Edition, Office v. X for Mac Student and Teacher Edition, and Office v. X for Mac Standard Edition. The company also announced that Virtual PC for Mac is now shipping under the Microsoft brand as well as a free Virtual PC 6.1 update.
Logitech today introduced the Click! family of mice, designed to bring a personal touch to the desktop. The three Click! mice offer a choice of style, color and functionality. Ranging from $25 to $50, the Click!, Cordless Click! and Cordless Click! Plus mice will begin to appear on retail shelves in the U.S. and Canada this month and throughout September and are now available at Logitech's website. Each of the new Click! mice features optical sensing technology, while the Cordless Click! and Cordless Click! Plus mice feature Logitech's proprietary Fast RF cordless technology.
Several readers offer notes about the new Mac OS X-only ATI Radeon 9800 1.1 driver update (listed yesterday), which includes new exclusive functionality via the new ATI Displays preference pane, including the ability to set GL options on a per-application basis, share GL profiles among different applications, and apply changes to GL settings immediately (without a restart). The new features allow gamers to enable FSAA and Anisotropic Filtering on older games without performance issues and improving quality at lower-resolutions.
A federal jury in Chicago awarded the University of California and a browser technology company nearly $521 million after finding on Monday that their patents were infringed by Microsoft, according to Reuters: "The suit, originally brought against the world's largest software maker in 1999 by Eolas Technologies Inc., charged that Microsoft had used Eolas' patented Web browser technology which allows other mini-applications to work with Microsoft's Internet Explorer browser, according to court documents. Eolas had originally sought licensing fees that would potentially have totaled $1.2 billion."
Microsoft today is expected to make several Office v.X announcements, as anticipated by MacNN last month: It will drop the price of Office v.X by $100 to $400 and introduce a Professional version of its Office v.X business suite for $500, which adds Virtual PC 6.1 (simply a rebranded version of the product that was acquired from Connectix earlier this year). Microsoft will also introduce a new student/teacher version of the Office v.X suite for $150 that will allow for installation on up to 3 different Macs.
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Apple brings iTunes Movie Trailers app to Canada
After five years, Apple has expanded its iTunes Movie Trailers app for iOS to Canada. As of Saturday, the free app allows movie buffs to see HD movie trailers for new studio and independent features, and explore some other movie-related extras such as photos, behind-the-scenes footage, or clips from upcoming films. Users can save trailers for quick access, read reviews from RottenTomatoes.com within the app, use AirPlay to send them to an Apple TV, share trailers, and peruse the top movie charts. http://apple.co/1UUKtwr
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