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Evening tech news: California took a tough stand against spam e-mail on Wednesday after Governor Gray Davis signed a law prohibiting anyone from sending unsolicited commercial e-mail advertisements to a California e-mail address; a computer industry group critical of Microsoft plans to release a report Wednesday asserting that the software giant's dominance in key technologies threatens the national infrastructure; taking a cue from his computing rivals, founder Michael Dell on Thursday will show off his new online storefront, handheld PDAs, digital music players and, potentially, flat-screen televisions that bear the Dell brand name.
Apple, Dell, and IBM are expected to be beneficiaries of IT spending improvement, according to a Standard & Poor's credit analyst: "Signs of growth are gradually emerging in the U.S. computer hardware industry, led by consumer spending on personal computers and electronics, according to a report published today by Standard & Poor's Ratings Services. A full recovery is dependent upon growth in corporate spending, which until now has been constrained by a persistent atmosphere of caution."
CMS Peripherals today announced it has entered into a software licensing agreement with Seagate Technology. Seagate will begin bundling CMS Peripherals' BounceBack Express automatic backup software with its retail drives and the new External Hard Drives. BounceBack Express, based on its CMS's ABSplus Backup, is an easy-to-use solution designed to protect important computer data with options for backup, backup reminders, 'Quick Restore," scheduling, and other backup preferences. Seagate's 160GB USB/FireWire drive is available for $270 and a 200GB version is due later this year for $300.
Strata today began shipping Strata 3Dpro v3.9, a free update to its Flash-enabled 3D animation package for Mac OS 9/X. It provides power-user features such as alpha channel anti-alias blending, multi-light shadow optimization, hierarchical object structure advancements, and 2D bezier extraction. Version 3.9 also features enhanced OpenGL support and integration of the Raydiosity renderer with the Photon engine for better image quality and speed. Owners of Strata 3Dpro versions 3.6/3.7 can upgrade for $100 ($130 for others). Strata 3Dpro 3.9 can download a free updater or purchase the 3-disc CD set for $40.
Media 100 today released Final Effects Complete 4.01, which brings provides compatibility with Adobe After Effects 6.0 (AE) and Final Cut Pro 4.0 (FCP). The dynamic set of over 100 software plug-in filters and transitions generates Hollywood-style special effects, including rain, snow, fire, smoke, ball action, explosions, distortions, jet trails, hair, liquid mercury distortions, spotlights, color transitions and other video effects as well as a complete range of 3D, lighting, and transition effects. (The update installer will only install into AE 6.0 and FCP 3/4.) Full versions are $800, while upgrades to the OS X version are $250.
Global Moxie today released Big Medium 1.2, an update to the company's web content management system. Big Medium is browser-based solution that enables non-technical staff to update websites without learning HTML. New features in Big Medium 1.2 include RSS news feeds, support for non-western languages and a new, streamlined editing interface that makes webpage publishing even easier. The suite of Perl scripts is $130 for web servers running Linux, Mac OSX, Solaris, BSD and other Unix operating systems. A free online demo is available.
The Arizona Republic reports that Washington Elementary District in Arizona is testing the use Apple's Mobile Lab with 30 iBooks, as part of new curriculum designed to keep up with recent changes in Federal law. The article notes that at least 15 other schools will recieve the similar "technology carts" by the end of the year--with up to 16 additional schools joining the program in the same time frame: " Abandoning the traditional brick-and-mortar computer lab approach, Washington is putting 30 laptops on compact, mobile carts and taking the latest in computer technology to the student rather than having the students go to a lab."
Apple's Director of Marketing Peter Lowe will be a panelist at the full-day panel session titled "Working the Web: Music, Money & Marketing," which takes place on Saturday, October 25, from 10:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.--followed by a post-event cocktail reception--at the Park Central Hotel in Manhattan, NY. The event brings together the music and Internet's top experts to discuss new ways that "music professionals can make use of the Internet as a marketing tool." Advance tickets are available for Recording Academy members, students, and members of affiliated organizations for $30; tickets are $50 for nonmembers and $75 at the door.
equinux has released VPN Tracker 2.2, which brings advanced visual feedback to its application that sets up secure, encrypted internet connections for the Mac 0S X 10.2. VPN Tracker's dock icon now indicates the connection status of IPsec via a mini-progress bar for all four stages. It is $90 for a personal license and $200 for the Professional Edition. [3.7MB] DNSUpdate 2.7 is an update to the Mac OS X client application for DynDNS.org, adding fixes for changes in DynDNS.org checkip service and improved compatibility with Panther's fast-user switching. The freeware client allows users to establish a domain name on computers with dynamic IPs. [1.7MB] Hi-Voltage's UpdateGenie 1.2 is a FileMaker tool that allows developers to create and distribute update packages for their solutions. It now allows developers to license UpdateGenie for single platform use, cross-platform use, single solution use or unlimited solution use. It is AU$95. [7.0MB] Dr. Blob's Organism is now available for Mac OS X. The $10 gamet title is described as a "lightning-fast shooter game where players blast feisty one-celled organisms as they try to escape from a petri dish and it features great graphics and gameplay as well as moist squishy sound effects and off-beat music." [6.8MB] MAKI Enterprise has released a new RSS/Blog reader, NewsFan for MacOS X. The $25 RSS Web news aggregator allows users to sort headlines by keyword, refresh automatically, translate stories using internet services, and story notification. [843KB] iVideo 1.1 updates the movie clip/video management application. The $17 application supports QuickTime Movies, MPEGs, MP4s, AVIs and DV Streams. It can play movies, create albums, and other iPhoto-like features. [1.3MB] EasyCrop 1.5 is an update to the $10 shareware from Yellow Mug Software. Version 1.5 adds a new destination drawers for customization the the location of output images. It offers drag & drop support for cropping and resizing images. [747KB]
Logitech today announced its new QuickCam Zoom webcam. With its new titanium finish, the USB-based QuickCam Zoom delivers true VGA (640x480) photos and videos. It includes digital zoom software, which offers the option to pan, tilt and zoom up to three times the normal viewing size. QuickCam Zoom also includes a built-in microphone, making it easy for people to add audio while they are instant messaging or creating video clips. It works with Yahoo! Messenger, offers high-resolution photo capture, and other features. It is available now for $80.
ArKaos has released a new version of its video jockey software, Arkaos VJ 3.0.1. The realtime multimedia tool is now AltiVec-enhanced and supports 32-bits mode (for millions of colors support). It also offers integration with any music sequencer with the support of ReWire as well as the ability to create Windows Media and QuickTime files; support for realtime video streams from USB, FireWire and acquisition boards; and several new transfer modes. It also includes a new editable flash text module, six new effects, and dual monitor support. It runs on both Mac OS 9 and Mac OS X. Upgrades are €150, while full licenses are €300.
Prosoft Engineering today released Data Backup 1.2.2, an update to its $50 backup and synchronization utility for both Mac OS X and Classic. The new version will automatically launch for each programmed action. It also includes new Direct Copy and Delete actions, backup with encryption, and the ability organize programmed actions into groups. Users also have four new trigger options when setting up their programmed actions, including performing a backup at every startup, every shut down, as soon as volumes mount or continuously in the new permanent mode. (Yesterday we noted a special 25% promo for MacNN readers on its Data Rescue utility in light of the Mac OS X 10.2.8 issues.)
Aspyr Media today announced that X2 Wolverine's Revenge has entered duplication, and is estimated to ship in mid-October: "Decades ago, a secret organization brainwashed you and implanted a virtually unbreakeable adamantium skeleton into your body. Now, as Wolverine-the X-men's™ most dangerous weapon-you've discovered you were also implanted with a deadly virus that will kill you within the next 48 hours unless the antidote is found. Your future is at risk, you must return to confront your past at the sinister Weapon X™ facility. Time is running out. And so is your life." The $50 title is available for pre-order.
Norpath today officially announced Norpath Elements Studio 2.1, the latest version of its multiplatform, graphical object-based authoring environment; it includes comprehensive suite of design tools and ships with pre-built application logic, knowledge, and interface components as well as a full set of element libraries, templates and publishing wizards to help designers deploy their interactive applications. Version 2.1 adds a runtime theme editor, an interaction tracker, knowledge elements, runtime bookmarks, email support, and other features. It is available for $250 through the end of the month (and for $150 to education users).
BusinessWeek looks at the future of "wireless music," noting that the addition of wireless technology to the iPod: "...it's a concept called Everywhere Internet Audio (EIA) that has been kicking around university think tanks and newsgroups. Now the time has come for Apple and its new bud, the music industry, to embrace EIA. The concept represents a huge new opportunity for both. As technology writer Don Tapscott put it recently in The New York Times, EIA is a way for music executives to 'do unto the file-swappers what the file-swappers has done to them.'"
Recurring Dream has released Meridian, an all-purpose timepiece for Mac OS X. It can display several clocks at once (digital or analog), each in a different time zone, and each with an alarm in it's own time zone. [Download - 315KB] RollCall 1.0 is an application that provides sophisticated printing options for Mac OS X users, making the OS X Address Book more accessible. RollCall allows users to print a usable hardcopy of the complete Address Book or any portion. [Download - 464KB] X2 Studios has released the source code for the AppleScript Studio (Cocoa) client app known as XMMS_Remote (The Server component has been available since 1.0): "We hope that apple script studio programmers find this useful in creating their own applications." [80KB] Publicspace has released a beta of its keyboard-based application launcher for Mac OS X, A Better Finder Launcher b4 ($10). It offers a type-as-you launcher filter for available applications with an "instant on feature", application name matching options (starts with, contains), and better preferences management. [1.3MB] Moho 4.6 ($100) is a 2D vector-based cartoon animation application with tools for drawing and coloring to keyframe animation, multi-layer compositing and final rendering of QuickTime and AVI movie files. It adds an improved Freeand tool, a depth in particle layers, more color picker options, and more. [4.4MB] freePhotoConverter 2.3 shrinks digital photos from your camera, supporting JPG, TIF and PDF file formats. It now displays the savings, has extended preferences, offes loss-less compression, supports Panther, and integrates with iPhoto. [841KB] The high-end text reader for Mac OS X: Speechismo 1.1 is a smart tool allowing access to written information "in a lively and natural way. Speech-enabled with Elan Sayso, Speechissimo reads any text out loud text in realtime, with an intelligent and natural sounding voice." The $50 application supports US English, German, French and Spanish. Steve Dekorte's SoundConverter 20030923 is a $10 shareware application for converting sound files between different sound formats. It is free for files under 500K, supports dozens of input/output formats, and offers a convenient drag & drop interface with several easy-to-configure options. [2.0MB]
LightWork Design today released a new version of LightWorks optimized for the Power Mac G5. LightWorks, a leading rendering engine, is the first renderer to be released for G5, offering users "typical performance increases of 1.3 times. The addition of extremely efficient multi-threading, which is included in LightWorks, also gives maximum performance on dual CPU G5 machines." The company offers rendering solutions to developers of advanced 3D computer graphics software and is used in application such as form.Z from auto-des-sys, VectorWorks from Nemetschek NA, Cobalt from Ashlar, solidThinking from Gestel, etc.
Now AAPL Stock: 95.01 ( + 0.99 )
Swift benchmarking suite goes open-source
Following the release of new betas for all its platforms, Apple on Monday also made a suite of 75 tools for benchmarking Swift-developed coding projects, including libraries for benchmarking functions, a utility for comparing the resulting metrics, and a driver for running them. The company says it is asking the community for help in developing additional benchmarks, as well as further "helper" libraries and overall code review for better stability and performance. Apple plans to include benchmark pull requests in Swift's new continuous integration system as well. http://bit.ly/1W8u0EU
Instagram now supporting multiple accounts
As reported earlier, Instagram is now rolling out support for multiple accounts (up to five) in version 7.1.5 of its iOS app. The feature has been one of the main attractions of third-party Instagram clients, but it is unclear if users must seek out an "add account" preference in the app; additionally, some users are reporting that the ability to add accounts has not yet been added. The company says notifications "depend on when you last logged in, and the number of devices that are logged into that account," suggesting not all notifications across accounts will appear when logged into a given one. http://bit.ly/1moh95p
Pictures of Galaxy S7, Edge leaked
New images have been leaked of Samsung's new Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge. The images of the Galaxy S7 are very similar to a draft leaked earlier this year, with a curved back reminiscent of the iPhone 3G with the normal Samsung camera hump in the upper center of the phone. The picture of the Galaxy S7 Edge as leaked is running a benchmark application showing modest improvements over the S6 line, if accurate. Both models are expected to be formally announced in a February 21 press event hosted by Samsung. http://bit.ly/20Gf07X
Bambooti wooden skins for MacBooks
Bambooti has introduced premium wooden skins for Apple laptops that allow users to customize any design or logo directly on the case. Each Bambooti skin is handcrafted from sustainably managed forests, and are hand sanded and spray-finished to create an ultra smooth exterior. Bambooti's wooden skins start at $65 on the fully-funded Kickstarter which includes a custom design or logo of the user's choice that will be engraved on the product. http://kck.st/1PhE6Sb
Apple Music in Taiwan, now up to 113 countries
Apple Music has now added its 113th country, Taiwan, to its expanding list of areas where it offers its paid subscription service. The price in the country will start at NT$150 (about $4.50 US) for an individual subscription, and that now includes (as it does in the rest of the world) the formerly free-but-ad-supported iTunes Radio feature, which as in other countries will be customized somewhat to offer channels of locally-popular music styles. Apple Music is now available in 16 countries and regions -- including China, India, Russia, and Japan -- where Spotify has not yet arrived.
Invisible wall mount for iPad Pro, mini
Computing hardware mounting company Wall-Smart has announced the availability the new "invisible" wall mount, with models for the iPad Pro, iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 4 -- all with no bezel. The invisible mount includes ÂPower Over Ethernet to USB, which allows charging while in-wall, and is available for both drywall and solid surfaces such as solid wood panels or partition walls. Prices vary widely by iPad model, and required mounting hardware. http://bit.ly/1SE5jCO
Kingston buys IronKey secure USB tech
Kingston Digital today announced it has acquired the USB technology and assets of IronKey from Imation. In addition to Kingston's acquisition, encryption services leader DataLocker has purchased the IronKey Enterprise Management Services platform which provides centralized management to encrypted USB drives. Kingston and DataLocker claim that there will be no interruption in service provided, or available products as a result of the consolidations. http://bit.ly/1QQk9SZ