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Afternoon tech news: The recording industry's legal efforts may be putting a dent in file-swapping, according to a new report from The NPD Group; The SoBig computer email virus continues to spread rapidly, causing havoc for businesses and individual users; businesses and other computer users haven't seen the worst of the SoBig worm yet, according to a leading e-mail security firm.
XBar 1.1 is a dynamically resizable application and file launcher that allows users to better organize their most used applications and to increase efficiency when looking for frequently used files and applications. [Download - 142KB] Border is a simple application for drawing decorative borders and frames. Border includes more than 150 different patterns (so far) which can be adjusted in various ways to fit around any graphical element. [Download - 763KB] WebCalX 4.5 ($5) allows users to publish iCal calendars as customizable HTML pages on the Web. [Download - 1.2MB] Readerware 2.85 is an update to the $85 software for cataloging books, music and videos. Included in the latest version is support of Congress Card Catalog Numbers, barcode capturing, and improved portable barcode reader support. [Download - 3.2MB] Time Clock Jr 3.05 is an updadate to the time clock solution, adding several bug fixes as well as a few new features. It is available in FileMaker (FM) format or as a stand alone (SA) application. A single machine license is $40, while a FM-based multi-user license is $200. [FM, SA-OSX] Ambrosia Software has released an update to Snapz Pro X 1.08, its screen/video capture utility for Mac OS X. It adds Internet version checking, Panther compatibility, and improved screenshot capture. (Snapz Pro X 2.0 is due out in Q3 2003.) [Download - 18.5MB]
Fuji has introduced a 20% smaller version of its miniature drives offering up to 6GB of storage, according to The Register: "Drives based on the [2 cm] platter are already in development, Fuji said, though commercial products are still some way off. Fuji expects them to be used in handheld devices like cellphones and PDAs, which have traditionally been drive-less products. [However, Fuji] claims that the demand for high-capacity cards will have driven memory card vendors to offer that sort of capacity by the time Fuji can bring its disk to market." Fuji also said that 30GB disks in the same form factor are 3 or more years away.
Charismac Engineering's FireDino, a 4-port Firewire hub, is again available, but for a limited time only. "The platform independent FireDino provides 4 ports of IEEE 1394 400 Mbps data ports all neatly tucked away in the back of the ferocious beast. The FireDino is bus-powered, however Charismac offers an additional power adapter for an extra charge. The FireDino requires no additional drivers." It is available for $70.
Apple has posted Xserve RAID Admin 1.1, its Xserve RAID remote management software: "This Java-based application provides an intuitive interface for creating protected storage volumes, logging events, managing preferences, and monitoring storage hardware from virtually any networked computer over TCP/IP" as well as email notification and advanced Fibre Channel networking features.
Development of a Mac OS X version of OpenOffice 2.x has been postponed to late 2005 or early 2006, according to OpenOffice.org. Further details are available from the organization's timeline.
Melodyne 2.0 is a multitrack audio recording and editing application that separates recordings into score notes and offers MIDI-like editing for edit vocals, solo instruments and percussion. Version 2.0 can be connected to any VST or AudioUnit host and also implements the ReWire protocol. It also adds multiple undo, equalizers, insert effects, and access to both VST and AudioUnit effect plug-ins. Melodyne 2.0 (€400) can edit 8 tracks simultaneously and supports files up to 48Khz/24-bit files, while the Studio Edition (€700) supports unlimited tracks, 32-bit/192kHz files, and DirectIO. Upgrades are €100.
MetaCommunications has announced a major upgrade to its Virtual Ticket production platform for printing, publishing and creative development. Virtual Ticket 5.5 will ship September 2nd and includes new form controls, database driven AppleScripts, scripting language enhancements, interface improvements, and other improvements. Virtual Ticket enables organizations to centralize information, eliminate paper job tickets, manage production files, traffic and schedule jobs, notify/alert users to changes in production, manage digital assets, and automatically archive files. Pricing starts at $1000.
TextFormation dynamically transforms text within your FileMaker solutions into easy-to-read presentable formats: "Simply pass two parameters (the format parameter and the text parameter), and the plug-in will return the text in the format you desire." It is available for AU$40. [147KB] appMac's wKiosk 2.2 is a web browser designed for internet or intranet kiosks in public spaces. It adds support for fullscreen mode, https protocols (secure sites), a better interface, and bug fixes. The $150 application uses the Netscape gecko HTML engine. [11MB] Meteorologist 1.3 is a free weather program for OS X that offers "users total control over their weather viewing experience, including simultaneous interlaced weather reports from multiple weather servers. Meteorologist is now officially out of my hands. I will be hunting around to find someone to take up the torch..." [866KB] LAJ Design's DropWaterMark 1.3 ($13) allows users to watermark images with functions for replacing the original, image-based watermarks, real-time previews, watermark borders, image rotation, and batch processing. [Classic, OSX] The open-source PureFTPd Manager 1.0 is a small Cocoa frontend to PureFTPd, "a free (BSD), secure, production-quality and standard-conformant FTP server based upon Troll-FTPd", for Mac OS X. It supports user management, virtual hosts, and server status functions. [940KB] OpenOSX has released Gimp 1.2.5 ($30 on CD), an easy-to-use solution for quickly installing the open-source GIMP software, which offers sophisticated photo manipulation and graphic tools. The new edition brings: updated software, additional features, enhanced stability and has been optimized for the G5 processor.
The upgraded IntelliScanner USB Barcode Reader product line features driverless compatibility with any Mac application and simplified configuration. The IntelliScan 3200i ($280) offers an integrated error-checking decoder, a customizable end-of-scan character, custom audible/visual scan indicators, and barcode symbology support for Bookland EANs, EAN-8, EAN-13, JAN-8, JAN-13, UPC-A, UPC-E, and Codabar. The IntelliScanner 4200i ($400) also adds ProInventory software for inventory tracking and xTagger for creating and printing barcodes as well as trigerless scanning, additional symbology support, and advanced configurations.
Morning tech news: F-Secure, noting that 2001 still stays in history as "the worst virus year ever," says that within the last week the Internet has experienced several major virus outbreaks as well as some completely new techniques in viruses; Sobig.F has been declared the fastest spreading e-mail plague of all time; IBM will bring multithreading to its Power5 server chip, allowing a chip to run two applications, or two "threads" of the same application, at the same time; and Learning to Love PowerPoint talks about using Microsoft's application to create art.
David Zeiler of The Baltimore Sun notes that Mac users have been unphazed by the recent virus attacks on the Internet: "As the latest Microsoft Windows infection spread across the Internet last week, knocking out thousands of PCs in homes and businesses, Macintosh users did what they usually do during a computer virus outbreak -- they continued working." However, the article notes that "It's perfectly possible to write viruses for Apple Macs. Indeed, a Mac has no more inherent security than a PC, but virus writers appear motivated by a desire to cause widespread havoc and so have concentrated on the market leader."
IntelliPrompter 1.0 is a Mac OS X application that prompts text automatically on a screen or projector for presentations and media production. It features an integrated prompting editor with preview mode, support for styled text and embedded graphics, a Mac OS X prompter control toolbar, an optional bundled USB controller with 5 customizable buttons and a jog wheel ($50), optional support for third-party USB controllers, AppleScript support, and support for storyboards and scripts. It is available in three editions: Personal ($80), Presenter ($350), and Pro ($700) editions.
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Apple want ads hint at future Watch faces
An Apple job listing for a dedicated clock face team may suggest future fashion-brand partnerships, possibly in time for the updated watchOS updates that are likely to be revealed at this spring's Worldwide Developer Conference. Since the introduction of watchOS 2, there has only been four new watch faces, but three of them were left over from the first release, with only one truly new one -- the co-branded HermÃ©s face exclusive to that edition. There is a rumored March 15 event, but if that takes place it will likely focus on new band options as regards the Apple Watch. http://apple.co/1O1TbTI
Microsoft may end Office Support Professional prog
Microsoft appears to be either ending or seriously revamping its "Accredited Support Professional Program" for training on Microsoft Office for Mac and iOS it has offered at MacTech conferences since 2013. The program is not on offer at the upcoming MacTech tour, which begins on March 16 in San Francisco and includes a number of other cities. Microsoft has released a statement that it is "evaluating options for 2016, but don't have anything to share at this time." http://bit.ly/1KDz3MQ
Office for Mac v15.18 released
Microsoft has issued an update for the Mac version of its productivity suite, Office 2016. The v15.18 update offers improvements for all of the included apps, such as bringing full screen support to Outlook and allowing Word to save PDF files to flash drives. In addition, a new selection pane has been added to PowerPoint and Excel for keeping track of objects, and shapes can now be added to OneNote notebook pages. The update is free for all users, but requires a Mac running OS X 10.10 or later and a valid Microsoft Office 365 subscription. http://bit.ly/1Q7pAzW
Apple to open new south Florida mall store
According to real estate trade papers in south Florida, Apple has signed a lease for a new retail space in Miami, at the forthcoming Brickell City Centre (yes, the UK spelling is used) open-air mall, which is set to open later this year. The center will feature a five-story shopping area, condominiums, a hotel and office buildings, along with a "climate ribbon" in the shopping area to keep visitors cool, eschewing traditional air conditioning. The exact location of the Apple Store within the plan is not yet clear, but the destination already boasts 75 confirmed stores. http://bit.ly/1Q7n7Wd
Filemaker provides free custom app guide
FileMaker announced today the release of the first in a three-part series of free how-to guides that will lead teams through the process of building a custom app using the FileMaker Platform. FileMaker's new how-to guides provide a step-by-step process that starts with a planning cycle covering goals, requirements, functionality and usability, and run all the way through identifying user scenarios, defining requirements, addressing integration, providing security, and deployment of the final product. http://bit.ly/1o08wQh
OCZ Trion 150 SSD shifts to 15nm TLC NAND
SSD manufacturer OCZ has updated its entry-level 2.5-inch Trion 100 SSD. The new Trion 150 has similar performance to the now replaced model, and now utilizes 15nm TLC NAND. Sequential read speeds top out at 550MB/S, with 4KB random write speeds running from 25K IOPS in the 120GB model, to 64K IOPS in the 960GB version of the drive. Endurance is limited to 30TB in the 120GB, and peaks at 240TB in the 960GB version. Retail prices vary between $46 for 120GB, to $270 for the 960GB version. http://bit.ly/1nVmlyL
Google off the hook in CAPTCHA labor suit
US District Jacqueline Scott Corley has dismissed a proposed class-action suit against Google, that alleged that Google secretly was given an economic gain without user knowledge. The suit alleged, correctly, that the second word in Google's CAPTCHA service was used as a crowd-sourced word identification for Google's book-scanning project. The judge ruled that the suit as filed had no facts to support a "reasonable consumer would expect to receive compensation" for the seconds it took to complete the form, and in addition, the free Gmail account provided more than offset any labor penalty incurred by the user. http://bit.ly/1o06Cir