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HP says it will begin selling its HP-branded iPod and other consumer electronic devices (digital cameras, projectors, displays, etc.) in China as part of an increased investment: "China is the largest and fastest growing consumer market in the world today with more than 1.3 billion consumers...The use of computers is spreading more rapidly here than any other nation." Hewlett-Packard returned to China eight months ago after withdrawing in 2001, according to The Taipei Times.
Pixologic today announced ZBrush 2, an update to its award-winning 2D/3D digital-art creation software. It now features performance improvements, polyframe enhancements, new ZSphere functionality, multi-resolution mesh editing, displacement and normal maps, advanced geometry tools visibility controls, new sculpting brushes,, alpha controls, texturing, displacement projections, and more. Version 1.55b is currently available for $400. The Windows version is expected at the end of the month, while the Mac version will be announced at a later date, according to the company.
BusinessWeek says that Virgin's forthcoming entry into the digital music market may provide signficant competition for Apple: "Virgin is the first potential challenger with branding moxie that can match even Apple's. The group, which posted revenues of $7 billion in 2003, also has far better natural distribution channels for digital music than Apple. The upshot? Steve, get ready to face the A-team. The entry of Virgin's online subsidiary, Virgin Digital, might change all that. Branson, chairman of the British conglomerate, is a master marketer. He has brought hip and fun to stodgy fields such as airlines (preflight massage, anyone?) and mobile-phone service.."
Mobile Magazine's review of Archos' $300 20GB GMini 220 picks it over the iPod, noting size, FM recording ability, music quality, navigation, line-in and voice recording, a built-in photo viewer (complete with a CF media slot) as positives and battery power ("an hour short the iPod") and lack of games as the negative: "I absolutely loved it and chose it without hesitation over the iPod. Some ask why I often use the iPod as a benchmark. The fact is, Apple kicked some serious ass in the portable music player department and it’s taken a long while for the competition to catch up. Kudos to them for what they accomplished." Meanwhile CNET says "We've seen quite a few MP3 players that want to take down the wildly popular iPod, but none have yet matched Apple's stellar design. In terms of features, however, several 20GB players have trumped the iPod."
WeatherHawk is expected to announce Mac OS-compatible versions of its WeatherHawk personal weather station software at the Electronic House Expo (EHX) in Orlando, FL, March 11-13 (booth#1146). The software was previously only available for the Windows platform. The Mac version will be available April 5, 2004. WeatherHawk weather stations also have a range of software drivers that enable plug-and-play interface to Crestron and Premise home automation systems.
CodeWarrior Development Studio 9.2 for Classic is a maintenance release of the software development environment ($500). The 9.2 update includes bug fixes to the C/C++ compiler, IDE, Debugger, MSL, PowerPlant, and PowerPlant X. [Download - temporarily unavailable] iLocalize 1.2 is a major update to the $150 localization software tool for Mac OS X. iLocalize adds a search feature, minor menu reorganizations, Rebase feature, and revised glossaries. [Download - 2.7MB] ClassicFrames 1.6 volume 1 and 2 ($40 each) are the latest in HumanSoftware's series of plug-ins for Adobe Photoshop for creating picture frame effects. The new version 1.6 adds native Mac OS X support for Classic Frames Vols. I and II. Forms To Go 2.1 is an update to the $13 HTML Form to email script generator. New features include credit card field validation, multiple email addresses in the email message, CC and BCC fields in the email, and MySQL tables. [Download - OS X, Classic] Nikon Capture 4.1.0 Update is the latest version of the Nikon camera software for Mac OS X. Feature additions and improvements in this new version include: D70 support; better support of camera auto image rotation; opening images in PictureProject; and numerous bug fixes and new features. [Download - form]
Evening tech news: Worldwide PC shipments are projected to grow by about 11 percent in 2004 and 2005 before slowing to roughly 8 percent through 2008, says IDC, citing improving business spending, and consistent growth in portables; Microsoft has been mailing free copies of its Office productivity software to government employees, but at least two federal agencies are warning recipients to return the gifts or risk violating federal ethics policies; some of the nation's largest Internet providers, in an unusual joint effort, said they filed six lawsuits against hundreds of people who were accused of sending millions of "spam" emails.
Sacem, a French association representing recorded music rights holders, is threatening to take Apple to court in a dispute over lost music royalties, according to CRN: "The argument centers on a fee levied in France on sales of blank CDs, tapes, hard disks and other hardware that can be used to copy music. The proceeds go to musicians and other rights holders who lose money to piracy. The Society of Music Creators, Composers and Publishers, or Sacem, accuses Apple of consistently refusing to pay the levy on sales of its iPod music player."
Zanka Software today released Wired, an open, modern and free version of the BBS-style client/server system, providing chat, messaging and file transfers. Wired consists of an open-source UNIX server, a protocol specification, a free Mac OS X native client, and a Wired server with a native Mac OS X System Preferences panel. Wired is built using the TLS protocol for encrypted transport and the protocol itself is freely available, allowing other developers to create their own versions, ports or improvements. The system offers native support for the global character set Unicode and strong encryption (e.g., AES) as Chat-only support for Hotline clients.
Apple is using rock 'n' roll to help drive shoppers to its retail stores, according to TechTV: "Flanked by a group of beaming friends, Leslie Cannon slid into a seat in the front row of a 39-seat theatre in Apple's shiny new flagship retail store in San Francisco. Cannon had been waiting nearly four hours to get in...Cannon, a film student in San Francisco, isn't queuing up for an iPod mini, nor is she elbowing for a primo seat at one of Apple's free software classes. She's here to witness an acoustic performance by contemporary pop balladeer Rufus Wainwright, Apple's featured artist for the music store in the month of March."
M-Systems today released a new solid-state flash disk with Ultra ATA interface in a 2.5-inch disk, offering storage of up to 90GB. The FFD 2.5-inch Ultra ATA is an ATA-6 flash disk with an interface speed of 100MB/s, supporting the Ultra DMA 5 transfer mode. It incorporates fast security erase and sanitize (purge) features complying with security guidance from the Department of Defense (DoD 5220.22-M), National Security Agency (NSA 130-2), U.S. Air Force (AFSSI 5020), U.S. Army (380-19) and the U.S. Navy (Navso 5239). The solid-state flash disks, are designed as drop-in replacements for 3.5-inch and 2.5-inch ATA and SCSI mechanical hard disks. (Pricing was not available.)
The MacOSXLabs.org group will be presenting a Mac OS X 10.3 Active Directory Integration webcast on Tuesday, March 16 at 1:00 pm EST. It will cover integrating Mac OS X into Microsoft Active Directory environments. Meanwhile, City Mac of St Louis is hosting a free seminar on March 11 in conjunction with Apple and Adobe: Publishing in the New Milenium: Moving from Quark Xpress to Adobe InDesign, designed for Creative Professionals, will showcase Adobe's Creative Suite--with an emphasis on the transition from Quark Xpress to Adobe InDesign.
DEVONnote 1.0 is a new notepad and bookmark manager that offers support for Mac OS X services, an integrated browser (based on Safari's Engine), fast search functions, and an integrated rich text editor. It is available for $5 off the normal $20 price through end of April and runs on Mac OS X 10.2 or later. [1.8MB] Logitech Control Center 1.2 adds support for new mice. The free application is is designed to support Mac OS X 10.1.2 or later, and supports all Logitech keyboards, mice, and trackballs, offering access to useful shortcuts and one-key actions. [7.2MB] Déjà Vu 2.6 ($20) updates the Mac OS X backup/clone utility. The update offers individual options for each backup type, can optionally 'Repair disk permissions' before backing up, and support for Anacron, which runs tasks that may have been scheduled while your Mac was asleep or shutdown. [1.4MB] Dantz Driver Update 5.2 for Retrospect 6.0 offers support for the Exabyte VXA-2 PacketLoader 1x10 1U Tape Library, Quantum SuperDLT 600 SDLT Tape, and Tandberg SDLT 600 SDLT Tape drives as well as fixes a bug that could cause backup operations to crash and improves handling of tape libraries during backup server scripts. [845KB] Macintosh Explorer 4.0 ($8) updates the integrated file browser and file management tool that "brings the hierarchal navigation system of Windows Explorer to the Mac." It adds a third column view, filtering based on file attributes, and "folder banks" for performing functions on multiple folders. It is a free upgrade. [Classic, OSX] Create 11.4 updates Stone Design's application for illustration, page layout, and web authoring. It featres new icons, right- and full-align justification for HTML text, a new typography panel, new booklet imposition scripts, and better measurement control. [10.5MB] PStill 3.3.2 ($70) provides automated PDF Workflow, and can repurpose and shrink printed output via watch folders with custom preferences. The server-based application now features a separately available "Separations to Composite module" ($1500) that generates a single composite PDF from multiple Postscript files. A Better Finder Launcher 1.1 ($10) is a new version of the keyboard-based application launcher for Mac OS X. Version 1.1 can index documents (as well as applications), configure search locations for the disk scan, scans custom document types, offers both manual/automatic scanning, and has a redesigned UI. [1.4MB] WhereDidAllMyMoneyGo 4 adds functions to track and manage a stock portfolio to home budget application that features support for multiple currencies (with automatic conversion), double-entry accounting, graphical reporting, and other functions. It is $25; upgrades are free. [750KB]
Pixar is switching to Mac OS X and will be using Power Mac G5s for its work, according to a MacNN reader who attended Apple's Uncompressed for Final Cut Pro seminar in New York on Wednesday morning. In his Keynote presentation, Apple's Don Peebeles said that Pixar has used Linux and Intel-based architecture in 2003, but that Pixar was switching to Mac OS X and G5 workstations for its production work: "Peebles went on to say that this switch was 'a move that no doubt made common CEO Steve Jobs very happy.' According to Peebles, Pixar challenged Apple to come up with a way to review HD quality video on the desktop at a reduced file size but keeping the quality. Of course the technology they developed (with Pixar) was based on Wavelet compression and named accordingly, 'Pixlet'. With this impressive technology, the new G5 systems and OS X's Unix underpinning, all the pieces were in place."
Plextor today announced the new PX-712A DVD+/-R/RW drive with support for high-speed 12X DVD+R and 8X DVD-R recording. The internal drive features an ATA/ATAPI-5 (EIDE) interface and supports 12X DVD+R and 8X DVD-R Writing; 4X DVD+RW and 4X DVD-RW Rewriting; and 16X max DVD-Reading. The DVD/CD burner also boasts high-speed 48X CD-R Writing, 24X CD-RW Rewriting, and 48X max CD-Reading. The PX-712A drive will ship in late April for $210 (with unlimited toll-free technical support and one-year warranty).
Pangea Software today announced it has officially released Nanosaur II: Hatchling, the sequel to the popular 1998 game Nanosaur. It features multiple levels including six 2-player levels with modes such as Racing, Capture-the-Flag, and Battle as well as supports the optional use of 3D glasses Nanosaur 2 is available for immediate download from several sources, including Apple's .Mac, where customers who download the full version of the game from their iDisk will get a special "bonus" version with additional levels enabled. The download version of Nanosaur 2 runs in a limited demo mode until a serial number is purchased for $25. The boxed CD version ($35) of Nanosaur 2 will start shipping on March 19th.
Starbrite Software has made tweaks in its iPod-knockoff jukebox software for Pocket PC handhelds, according to CNET News.com: "Unlike the iPod, the $20 software, known as pBop, plays only MP3 files and not the AAC files that Apple's iTunes Music Store sells. StarBrite Solutions, the U.K. startup, originally called its software pPod but said it changed the name to pBop, after Apple suggested that the original name might infringe on Apple's iPod trademark. The company has also made other tweaks to the software in response to Apple's concerns, including altering the layout of the software buttons and including a disclaimer on all its marketing material that it has no connection to Apple or the iPod."
US Convenience store chain 7-Eleven is now offering fountain sodas with the iTunes-Pepsi promotion (in addition to the standard 16-oz drink bottle): "Drink Up. Log On. Rock Out. Buy a 32 oz. Slurpee or Big Gulp and you’ll have a 1 in 3 chance of winning a free downloadable song from iTunes. Brought to you by Pepsi and Apple’s iTunes."
SiK, Inc. today announced that it is accepting orders for din for iPod (with Dock Connector) and iPod mini. din is a portable line-out and FireWire adapter for iPod and iPod mini. "Access the high quality line-out audio from your iPod and connect it to your home or car stereo, powered spekers, amplifier, or other audio device without lugging around the bulky iPod Dock. din also allows you to connect the docking port of your iPod to any standard FireWire cable to sync or charge." It is available now for $22.
Apple has filed a lawsuit against the trademark appraisal committee under China's State Administration for Industry and Commerce, after the committee rejected Apple's request approve its trademark application for clothing last June, according to the CHINAdaily. Apple, who successfully filed a trademark application in the field of computers last May, says that "Zengcheng-based Guangdong Apples is a company that makes alleged illegal profits while continuously attempting to infringe on the US company's trademark...Guangdong Apples' trademark of an apple logo, which does not have the same bite as on Apple's, was authorized by the trademark bureau under the State Administration for Industry and Commerce in 1998, according to sources."
Belkin today introduced a new stylish Wireless Keyboard and Optical Mouse bundle. Expected to ship at the end of the month, it features a metallic silver design, USB and PS/2 connectivity, a foldaway wrist rest and the enhanced wrist support on the right-handed ergonomic Mouse (with 800 dpi accuracy) as well as customizable hot-keys and other system function keys (sleep, wake, log-off, etc.) on the keyboard, programmable mouse buttons, volume adjustment using a easy-grip knob, a one-touch speedwheel, adjustable keyboard height, and dual RF channels with 258 security IDS per channel. Belkin says the bundle will be $70, although its website says $85.
Artlandia has released SymmetryWorks 3, a new version of its plug-in for Adobe Illustrator for creating surface pattern designs. Version 3 supports a variety of art objects, including vector paths, brushes, gradient meshes, type objects, raster (bitmap) images (Photoshop, PNG, JPEG, GIF, etc). Other features include new Clip Options to allow the user to switch between separate and blended units of repetition and instantly form a seamless pattern, support for both embedded and linked image files, enhanced support for transparency, and the ability to use Illustrator's new 3D effects and advanced typesetting capabilities. It is available for $215 (electronic download).
SubRosaSoft.com today announced CipherDisk 2.0, a new version of its application designed to hide, encrypt, and password protect your hard disks, CD's, DVD’s and other types of storage. Version 2.0 features support for disk images, CD/DVD burning capability, and a new and streamlined interface. "CipherDisk can now create and burn password protected CDs and DVDs without the use of third party applications. These discs are fully encrypted, and once unlocked with your password, are as easy to use as a normal CD/DVD." It is $60 and runs on Mac OS X 10.2 or later. Upgrades for previous customers are free.
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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