Apple's move to G5 processors from IBM is giving the company a clear advantage against manufacturers using chips from Intel or AMD, an industry expert said. "The 970FX" --the chip that powers the Xserve and is thought likely to drive future Power Mac G5s -- "should yield well at 2.5GHz, up from the 2GHz speeds of the 970 used in the original Power Mac G5. This 25 percent increase in clock rate will not soon be matched by Intel or AMD," writes Microprocessor Report editor-in-chief Peter Glaskowsky. Intel's new Prescott chip is described as "struggling to eke out minor clock-rate improvements," he writes.
Apple Knowledge Base roundup: Some implementations of the "rm" command line tool depend on an unspecified behavior; when using AirPort Admin Utility to set up a wireless distribution network (WDS), make sure the admin computer's Network preferences are set to get its IP address via DHCP; using the correct cable when to connect an iPod Mini to a Mac; a problem whereby the iPod mini restarts when you connect and disconnect it from your computer; Mail quits when you click the 'Junk Mail' command; iDVD 4 may not successfully burn a disc on dual processor Power Mac G5 computers if 'Best Performance' is selected. Additionally, the Apple support forums include discussion of an issue where a certain PDF file crashes Preview repeatedly.
Apple's stock today hit a 52-week high of $25.22 on unusually high volume of 11,789,628. AAPL, listed on the Nasdaq stock exchange, opened for trading at $23.93 this morning. Apple's stock has steadily climbed for the last year with minor fluctuations. The 52-week low was $12.72 in May 2003.
Afternoon tech news: Philips said today it had invented a tiny digital camera lens to fit inside a mobile phone that could focus on objects and create sharp pictures in ways that are similar to the human eye; US intelligence officials revealed that more than a dozen Al Queda suspects were tracked and monitored using "anonymous" prepaid SIM cards. ; Macromedia will soon begin tweaking its development tools to run on Linux PCs. Computer Associates has licensed The SCO Group Inc.'s Intellectual Property License for Linux, leaving some wondering what if anything was licensed, given that SCO's claims have yet to be tested in court.
QuicKeys X2 v2.1 updates CE Software's automation utility software for Apple's Mac OS X. This update, free to registered users of version 2.0 or later, includes improved typing, recording and sequence tools. It is available for $100 (upgrades are $35 from v1.0). [10.3MB] Menu Calendar 1.5 offers instant access to a calendar from the Mac OS X menu bar. The freeware offers integration with iCal (simply click on a date), one-click access to a calandar, navigation to calendars for other months, and support for English, German, and Finnish. [162KB] Sticky Notes 1.0 is a new desktop organization utility that offers custom colors, Rendezvous-based sharing, and export to iPod functions. The sharewware (£10) offers instant note creation by dragging text to the dock icon and search/replace functions. [655KB] iSynCal 3.0b ($17) can synchronize events and todo from iCal calendars between two or more Macs using Apple File Sharing. It can also be used to synchronize some calendars with your iPod or between multiple users on the same Mac. it works with iCal 1.5 and Mac OS X 10.2 or later. [404KB] Apple's CHUD Tools 3.5 are applications and tools for measuring and optimizing software performance on Mac OS X as well as for hardware bringup and system benchmarking. The CHUD Tools are delivered as a part of the Xcode Tools for Panther. [26MB] Creative Manager Pro 6.2 is a web-based project management application featuring calendar and contact sharing using iCal and AddressBook. The job tracking solution offers modules for developing new business, staffing, managing, and executing projects through to accounting and financial reporting. It will be released March 8 as a free update to current users. After Dark + Fish updates the popular classic screensaver with the popular "Fish", "Mowing Man" and "Mandelbrot" modules (in addition to existing "Space Toasters", "Starry Night" and other user favorites). The $10 shareware uses the built-in OS X screensaver engine, support OpenGL, and runs on Mac OS X only. Eudora 6.1b3 is the latest beta release of the popular email client. The beta cycle resolves many outstanding bugs in the release, including dozens with IMAP its IMAP functions and some with HTML rendering/saving. It also adds AddressBookSync (requires Mac OS X 10.2) and mini-search tool in the toolbar. [Classic, OSX] SwitchIt 1.2 is a small replacement for Apple's Fast-User Swiching menu item. The freeware offers a smaller menubar footprint; it runs on Mac OS X 10.3 or later and requires Unsanity's Menu Extra Enabler. [175KB]
iSkin today offered details on its iSkin protector for the iPod Mini, which designed to "offer all-round surface protection and ergonomic design without sacrificing the look, size or functionality of the iPod mini. Its form-fitting skin is crafted out of a durable silicone to offer superior ergonomics and protection." The new iSkin mini includes an ultra-clear screen protector and a newly designed iSkin RevoClip that allows users to rotate the iPod without removing it from their waist. It will be available later in March for $25 in a variety of colors, including a unique line of "Ultra-GLO" (glow in the dark skin tones) and a frosted transparent clear.
Afternoon tech news: A new "Halloween X Memo" says that Microsoft raised nearly $100 million for SCO--presumably to bolster the company's "anti-linux" initiative; Michael Dell will remain Chairman, but will give up his CEO title in July to his second-in-command, currently President/COO Kevin Rollins; Apple's director of software product marketing in Europe Oren Ziv will offer a seminar at Macworld UK's forthcoming Macworld Conference in London this May; and Apple UK is offering a £20 discount on .Mac membership when purchased with a Mac between now and June 1st.
Pepsi says that the rollout of bottles featuring the free iTunes song promotion have been delayed beyond the initally expected February timeframe, according to The USA Today: "Specially marked bottles of Pepsi, Diet Pepsi and Sierra Mist offer free download codes in bottle caps. But they arrived in New York last week, four weeks after 90 million viewers saw the Super Bowl ad. The bottles have yet to show up in Los Angeles, the nation's second-largest media market, and won't get there until mid-March." The article also notes that Pepsi expects a 10% to 20% redemption rate from the promo and that the free downloads aren't counted in SoundScan's tallies, but that "adding them could bring Apple's total to around 75 million."
TikiMac has released its Devil Duckie flash drives: "The red, horn-toting 4 1/2" rubber duck with hypnotic blinking eyes is a high-speed USB 2.0 (1.1 compatible) personal data storage device for people who are going places and need constant access to their computer files. Devil Duckie Drives are 100% plug-and-play compatible with Macintosh systems running Mac OS X 10.1.2+, OS 9.2.1+ without requiring any special drivers." The drives are currently available in 128MB, 256MB, and 512MB, are available pre-initialized in either Mac OS or DOS/FAT formats, include a 6 ft. data cable for desktop machines or systems with "hard-to-reach" USB ports, and offer a 2 year limited warranty. Prices start at $71.
The New York Times has an article on the San Francisco Store opening this past weekend: "Apple officials estimated that about 1,200 people were in the line at the 10 a.m. opening, and that nearly 6,000 more passed through the store on Saturday...The store here, which has 10,800 square feet of selling space, is the fifth of the company's so-called flagship retail outlets, along with others in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and Tokyo...In a way, of course, it was a commercial: the flagship openings are carefully orchestrated as media events by Apple."
Willow Design today announced it will continue operations through the end of March, and possibly even longer to fulfill orders for its laptop and other Mac carry cases. Willow in early February announced it was shutting down due to increased competition by overseas labor costs and offered a "final closing sale" in early February; however, it said that the response to the sale was overwhelming--with over 1300 orders from customers worldwide. Willow will to accept orders for new merchandise through March 10--after which it will only sell in-stock merchandise. The company expects to cease operations sometime in April.
Xitel has announced its Ground Loop Isolator designed specifically to stop the ground loop hum that can result from connecting computers to home stereo equipment. "As the trend towards more and more consumers playing digital audio from their computers through their home stereo systems continue, many are discovering an annoying hum in their speakers. The most likely cause of this hum is not their PC or home stereo, but a ground loop in their home or apartment mains power wiring, which can occur through differences in resistance in the electrical system." It is available for $30.
OfficePool 2004 1.0b8 ($22 personal, $45 company) completely automates your 2004 NCAA March Madness Basketball Pool. The software can print or display detailed standings and brackets, and also build an entire Web site with just one click. New beta versions are released regularly.ProximitySync 5.0 ($7) works in conjunction with Salling Clicker to automatically sync a specified Bluetooth-enabled PDA or phone up to twice a day when it is brought within range of your Mac. Version 5.0 adds support for Salling Clicker 2.1 and will check for a sync when waking or logging in.CrushFTP 3.1 ($25-$100) brings several enhancements to the Java-based FTP server software. Among these are auto zipping on the fly for directories or files appended with .zip, modifications to SMTP email events to work with almost all servers, and many bug fixes.QuickName 1.0 is a new, free batch file renaming utility for Mac OS X. Currently it is designed to replace a common letter or punctuation in a file name with another and can also adjust the caps and file extension.Analyzer 3.6 ($190, $30/$80 upgrades) is a FileMaker Pro assistant that finds things for you, such as every script that uses one field or every layout the field is on. It also warns you about common problems before they become bigger problems and also tracks changes made to a database.
Drums on Demand is now shipping Volume 2 of its drum samples collection in the Apple Loops format, compatible with GarageBand and SoundTrack. Thirty-five song sets are included in the collection, each with about 10 to 30 loops. Volume 1 and 2 both sell for $50 each, or $85 together.
WiebeTech today announced a driveless configuration of its G5Jam, which enables the Power Mac G5 to hold two additional Serial ATA drives. The G5J-0 includes a cooling baffle plate, Serial ATA PCI card, and all cables. The G5J-0 (case-only) sells for $500; other configurations range from $900 (2x160GB drives) to $2,220 (4x250GB dives).
Topics for discussion on the MacNN forums today include: Apple's recent addressing of noise-related issues with the Power Mac G5; a possible case of an iBook display with a "white spot"; ongoing discussion of case graphics modifications from "MacSkinz"; discussion of an upcoming "taskbar" utility for Mac OS X; general discussion of Mac OS X interface customization; performance tweaks for Unreal Tournament 2004 for optimal results.
Now AAPL Stock: 94.02 ( -2.58 )
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
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
XCOM 2 ships on Steam for Mac, Windows
Feral Interactive today announced that the highly anticipated turn-based strategy game XCOM 2 is out now for OS X and Windows, and is available to buy through Steam and through the Mac App Store shortly. The sequel to the popular XCOM: Enemy Unknown, XCOM 2 is available as a standalone base game and as the XCOM 2 Digital Deluxe Edition. The XCOM 2 Digital Deluxe Edition comprises the base game, the Reinforcement Pack and the XCOM 2 digital soundtrack. Versions start at $60. http://bit.ly/1KuEFsX