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Evening tech news: A new political battle is brewing over Net music swapping, focusing on a company that claims to be able to automatically identify copyrighted songs on networks like Kazaa and to block illegal downloads; the creators of the Netsky, MyDoom and Bagle e-mail viruses appear to be practicing one-upmanship and exchanging insults in what amounts to a war between rival hackers; Microsoft's effort to make Windows more secure was dealt a heavy blow recently when someone obtained and published a large chunk of the Windows source code.
Apple has issued a memo to UK resellers regarding noise issues with the Power Mac G5. According to the memo, noise is associated with external professional audio-equipment experienced in the form of "beeps and hisses". Apple is "willing to replace the power supply" for those experiencing such problems. However it notes noise will be "reduced, but not eliminated, even if the power supply is replaced". In the instance of noise associated with the power supply, Apple suggests "earthing" amplifiers and other relevant peripherals. Update: there is continued discussion of noise-related issues on Apple's PowerMac G5 support forum.
Synchronize! Pro X 3.3 is a professional-strength file synchronization and backup utility for Mac OS X. This version allows multiple folders and files to be specifically synced or backed up; adds compatibility for PC-formatted disks; and fixes a number of bugs. [Download - form] Inventive today announced the release of iClip 2.8 ($20), the latest version of its multiple clipboard/scrapbook application for Mac OS X. New in version 2.8 is "significantly improved" handling of vector and high-resolution picture clippings. [Download - 2.8MB] Caphyon has released Advanced Web Ranking 2.5, a new version of its $50 tool that helps check a Web site's position on all major search engines. This new version features a new and improved search engine selection dialog, the ability to suggest a new search engine, and major speed improvements on the Current Rank and Overview reports. [Download - 5.2MB] DropFloat 0.51 is a useful tool that gives users quick access to the Favorites folder and the drop boxes. Version 0.51 fixes a problem with the notification feature of the utility. [Download - 1.0MB] Text-Osterone is a simple program to generate "eye-popping" Flash animated text effects. It works with installed True Type and Postscript fonts. [Download - 3.9MB] SignalSuite 1.1 ($25) takes advantage of Mac OS X-compatible audio hardware to turn a Mac into a dual-channel signal generator. The latest release adds a swept sine (chirp) generator; places the three types of signal generators in separate windows; adds a main control window; and more. [Download - 522KB]
James Associates has released MacGPS Pro 5.0, the latest release of its works software that works with Garmin and Magellan GPS receivers for transferring Waypoints, Routes, Tracklogs, and GPS satellite Almanacs. It works many brands of GPS receivers for a real-time display of GPS information on a moving map on the Macintosh screen. Version 5 adds automatic calibration for nautical charts (NOS/GEO/BSB); import of driving directions from the Web, GPX files, and .MAP/.JPR georeference files for automatic calibration. It is $40 ($10 more for CD-ROM).
Apple's AAC codec used to encode songs in iTunes and at the iTunes Music Store was rated the best among five different AAC codecs tested by Rarewares. In 12 songs tested, iTunes had the best score on average with Nero close behind. and the remaining three tied in second place: "It's worth mentioning that according to a key developer of the QuickTime/iTunes AAC encoder, this codec nearly didn't get tuned since the last test because they were busy with porting the iTunes platform to Windows and working on speed optimization. Makes one wonder how much it can improve once the engineers start tuning it again and if a VBR mode is eventually implemented."
ACD has released a free Canvas 9.0.3 updater for its drawing program that integrates image editing, page layout, web graphics and presentation features. It includes dozens of fixes, including those for printing large documents, opening 16-bit TIFF and PICT files, transparency, importing/copying Canvas 8 documents, PostScript printing, and other text issues. [form] Style Master 3.5 ($60) is a CSS editor offering syntax checking, validation, browser support, WSYIWIG support, and hand coding support. Version 3.5 offers 5 new design wizards for HTML + CSS based multi-column layouts, navigation bars, breadcrumb trails, as well as whole style sheets as well as a floating Color Panel, internal validation, and new commercial-quality templates. [5.8MB] Disk Order 1.0 ($15) is a new Mac OS X File Manager. The software allows users to create, remove, copy, move and rename files and folders, as well as watch movies, listen to the music, view and edit any kind of files in "plain text" mode. The authors claim up to a three fold speed increase over similar tasks performed in the Finder. BitWise Chat 1.0 (free) is a cross-platform, interoperable and secure instant messaging service. Features include file sharing, a tabbed interface, automatic encryption, whiteboards, logging, offline messaging, invisibility, and more. E-Mail Helpers 1.0 (free) is a collection of contextual menu items that enable users to right-click on a file or folder and attach it to a new email in Mail, Entourage, or Eudora. MediaPress X 1.1 is a new version of the software for Wired's MPEG encoding PCI card. Version 1.1 adds Panther compatibility, realtime muxing for MPEG-1 or MPEG-2 streams, greater control over the encoding bitrate, and various bug fixes.
Microspot today updated its X-RIP family of Mac OS X native large-format printer drivers, X-RIP 100 v1.6. X-RIP 100 is a professional large-format driver that utilizes the latest Mac OS X technologies to provide high quality output on the HP DesignJet 100, 110 and 120 printers. Version 1.6 adds support for virtual printing (print to file) as well as via TCP/IP (over a network) as other options to the standard USB direct connection. It requires a single license ($160) per printer and runs on Mac OS X 10.2.4.
In his latest Byte of the Apple column for BusinessWeek Online, Alex Salkever tackles the recent going-ons with Apple and the education market. Despite laying off staff in its education division and losing out to HP for a $68 million contract with the state of Michigan, Apple's seen an uptick in marketshare that could continue to rise as the company rolls out more innovative products and rides the popularity of the iPod with members of the general public.
A MacNN reader notes that Apple has pulled the NVidia FCode flasher 1.1 updater, released yesterday, without notice. "First, the download link would not work. Now the page is gone completely." The update was for Power Mac G4 users running Mac OS X 10.2 with the 23" Apple Cinema Display HD.
XO Play released its second story-based iPod game today, Herbet's Big Adventure. Players assume the role of Herbert, "a heart breaker, lady lover - funny guy who has all the right moves. You venture out into the city to seek that one true love to give your heart to. Whether it'll be at the local bar sipping on a Martini, hanging out at the nightclub, or shopping at the mall. As Herbert, you have to keep a watchful eye for the girl of your dreams." The story follows a "Choose Your Own Adventure"-like premise and costs $15.
Music fans attending this year's South by Southwest (SXSW) festival in Austin, TX, will have wireless access to 600 songs via iTunes from about half the acts performing this year, according to Wired News. The Austin Wireless City Project has so far wired 28 locations—with another 55 on the way—that will offer free WiFi access as well as iTunes shared music library playlist. Most songs are also available on the SXSW website. SXSW runs from March 17 to 21 this year.
Universal Music, the world's largest record company, today announced that its European unit has digitized its entire active catalog, resulting in a collection of some 300,000 tracks, Reuters reports. The songs will for now be distributed in Europe solely through OD2, although they will presumably also be available through Apple, Napster, and others as those companies role out European versions of their stores. It appears that Universal's digital catalog is encoded in Windows Audio format, however, which means Apple would need to encode the catalog itself to offer it for sale on iTunes. Universal said the digitizing process took nearly two years and that a system is now in place to automatically digitize new releases. Napster meanwhile announced today that will launch its service in the UK by the end of summer, as noted this earlier morning.
The UK's Stuff magazine, which is more technology and gadget-oriented than the U.S. publication that bears its namesake, has released its list of "50 things every man should own." Apple's iPod takes top honors by placing second, behind a phone from a Nokia, reports ic Wales. Stuff calls the top 10 gadgets a "critical kit no modern man should be without."
HELIOS Software today began shipping EtherShare AFP 3.1 with new support for "smart permissions." EtherShare also features support for very large files (>4GB), Unicode names/volumes, long file names, and fast file transfers. The new "smart permissions" feature avoids common problems associated with file permissions by automatically assigning the file permissions to that of the parent folder. The HELIOS EtherShare file/print server supports Mac OS 8/9/X clients and runs on Mac OS X.
MacNN readers note a new iPod/PowerBook promo from any authorized Apple reseller in New Zealand. The new promotion offers an 20GB iPod for NZ$100 (~ US$66) with purchase of a PowerBook during the month of March: "We are delighted to announce an awesome PowerBook promotion for the month of March. From 1st March to 27th March 2004 when you purchase any qualifying PowerBook, you can pay just $99 + GST more and receive a 20GB iPod. This represents a saving of $560 + GST off the normal RRP. Offer available between 1 March through 27 March 2004 only."
Early morning tech: Cincinnati's Cinergy Corp is the first company to offer broadband internet over standard powerlines--with rates starting at $30/month for 1Mb download/upload. Steve Jobs is the highest rated CEO in February's Top-Ranked CEOs at Forbes.com with a 94% approval rating. Napster is looking to get a step ahead of iTunes by launching a music download service in the UK by the end of the summer.
LinSpot today announced software to turn any regular WiFi equipment into a commercial hotspot. LinSpot for Mac OS X handles all billing services and offers a no cost, instant profit opportunity for those who want to provide wireless internet access in their area. The LinSpot software is easy to install and configures automatically, features end-to-end encryption, automatic self-updating, and both PayPal and credit card support. LinSpot works with any WiFi router, including Apple's AirPort and LinkSys WiFi routers. The company charges only a 15% fee for its services on sold Internet Access. Windows and Linux versions are expected to ship soon.
Security firm eEye Digital Security claims to have discovered critical vulnerabilities in Apple's QuickTime software and in various IBM personal computers which could lead to remote compromise of systems. Particulars of the vulnerabilities have not been released in keeping with eEye's policy of informing a vendor about a bug and then waiting until a patch is ready before releasing details. IBM was informed 13 days ago and Apple 11 days ago. "A vulnerability in default installations of the affected software [...] allows malicious code to be executed with little user interaction."
Now AAPL Stock: 93.99 ( + 0.29 )
Apple to open R&D center in India
A new report says that Apple will be opening a new technology center in Hyderabad, India, helping to boost the city's growing reputation as a tech center. The facility would operate within the WaveRock facility, and create 4,500 new jobs at a cost of around $25 million. In 2015, India surpassed the $1 billion in yearly sales milestone, and Apple has recently received permission to open retail stores in the country under its own control, an exception to rules that usually block foreign ownership. http://zd.net/1SMBVu4
Google killing Picasa starting May 1
Google Photos head Anil Sabharwal confirmed in a blog post today that the search engine giant will be shutting down acquisition Picasa. Support and downloads for the desktop application will terminate on March 15 with the application continuing to work for the time being. The transition to Google Photos truly commences on May 1, with deprecation of some Picasa API calls happening shortly thereafter. Users that have Google Photos access will find their photos already migrated. A mass-download tool for users not wishing to use Google Photos will be available sometime after May 1. http://bit.ly/1SmV2KH
Rogue Amoeba Piezo updated, departing App Store
In order to continue working on audio capture tool Piezo, developer Rogue Amoeba has simultaneously updated the app to version 1.5, and announced that it will pull version 1.2.6 from the Mac App Store. Customers who own the Mac App Store version have a one-time migration process to the Rogue Amoeba-served version. The company notes that the sandboxing restriction placed on Mac App Store versions "effectively stopped our ability to upgrade Piezo in any meaningful way." [8.80MB] http://bit.ly/1PIjz7l
FCC spectrum auction will happen without Google
After throwing its hat in earlier, Google (and associated companies) has declared that it is not participating in this year's FCC spectrum auction. A company spokeswoman said of the auction that "like all those interested in improved connectivity and equitable access, we'll be following the upcoming spectrum auction closely. That said, we have not filed to participate." http://on.recode.net/1oy5LWk
iPad Air 3, iPhone 5se sold Friday after launch?
Reverting the way products are actually released by Apple after an announcement to the way it was a decade ago, reports are circulating that new products revealed at a March announcement will go on sale the Friday immediately following the unveil. Slated to appear at a conjectural Tuesday, March 15 event are a new Apple four-inch phone with more up to date internals currently referred to as the iPhone 5se, and a new iPad Air 3 model with Smart Connector and other enhancements. http://bit.ly/1o7mqiY
Lexmark prevails in toner import appeal
Printer manufacturer Lexmark has won an appeal on the third-party US resale of its printer cartridges originally destined for markets outside North America. The appeals court ruled in a 10-2 vote in favor of Lexmark's demand to stop the sale and against Impression Products, both on the toner cartridge resale matter, as well as a related matter regarding overturning the reseller's refilling one-use cartridges and selling those in the US market. The ruling has ramifications in the tech industry, as well as the pharmaceutical and medical technology markets. Impression Products promises an appeal before the supreme court. http://reut.rs/1SLVmmG
AT&T expands BOGO promo to iPhone 6s
Beginning today, new and existing AT&T customers can purchase a new iPhone 6s and get another one free when adding a second line. Over the weekend, customers must purchase two phones through AT&T Next (one can be an existing number), and add both phones to a qualified plan. AT&T notes that "after three bill cycles or less" the account will start to receive up to $650 spread out over 30 monthly bill credits to offset the cost of the installment plan for the phone. Taxes are due at time of sale. http://soc.att.com/1SLUP4k