Topics of discussion on the MacNN forums today include: one user's Power Mac G5 case modification; discussion of the new PowerBook G4's durability after a member significantly dented his 17" PowerBook's case; the iMac "green light of death" problem, experienced by a small group of owners; GNOME 2.6's transition to ' spatial mode' file navigation from browser-like navigation.
Roxio is conducting a survey of Toast users to gauge satisfaction with the product, and assess interest in new features. Respondents are entered into a sweepstakes drawing to win a $500 Amazon.com gift certificate.
ExtremeTech's Video Codec Shootout evaluates four different video codecs for home use, including DivX, Windows Media Video 9, QuickTime 6.5/Sorenson 3, and QuickTime 6.5/MPEG-4: "We give the nod to both DivX 5.1.1 and WMV9 -- it all depends on your priorities. If you're going to stick to computers as playback devices, the faster speed of DivX is welcome. If you want to play your stuff on the PDAs, portable video players, and DVD players coming out later this year and beyond, WMV9 has broader industry support and is worth the extra encoding time. Both codecs delivered quite impressive image quality."
The opening montage in the 76th Academy Awards was cut and comped on the set with Macs running Final Cut Pro, according to Apple Hot News: "Director Troy Miller of LA-based Dakota Pictures shot much of the film against green screen backgrounds, using clever composites to convince the audience that Crystal was really 'there.' And to convince themselves that the illusions were working, the Dakota crew used PowerBooks and a Power Mac G5 editing station running Final Cut Pro to create and view the shots on the fly, on set, as the footage was captured."
HP yesterday launched a website for HP Music, its forthcoming music download service based on iTunes (part of the HP-Apple alliance). Apple also began offering an HP-specific version of iTunes for download for both HP and Compaq customers, according to The Register: "The 'special' HP/Compaq version of iTunes is version 4.2 of the software, as per the Mac and non-specific Windows versions of the software. The chief difference is believed to be code to allow Apple to track downloads made by HP customers rather than those of its own."
MacResponder 1.5 scans email accounts periodically and automatically sends replies as well as features rule-based settings to trigger actions based on the sender or the subject. The new version features an improved email engine, speed improvements, new options for POP3 and SMTP authentification, and a new option to avoid sending replies to messages which were already on the server at application launch. [362KB] Suck It Down 1.7 ($20) will download any type of data from a Website. Users can specify file extensions to easily download images, movies, mp3s, pdfs and more. It also provides preview for downloaded images and QuickTime compatible files, like movies and mp3s. [2MB] Speed Download 2.3.2 ($20) brings several minor new features and bug fixes to the powerful download manager. Speed Download 2 both manages and optimizes Web downloads as well as monitoring your software for updates. [Download - 2.1MB]Ridge 2.1.1 ($10) can meter and restrict the amount of data that can be uploaded and downloaded from the Internet, offering a feature to alert users when that limit has been reached. Version 2.1.1 improves performance and adds a German localization. [Download - 577KB]Conversion 1.1.1 (free) is a unit converter that features 373 units and 9,811 different conversion tables. [Download - 2.3MB]AE Monitor 1.5 ($30) helps developers understand Apple Events and integrate Apple Event functionality into their applications. It now includes automatic code generation to replicate Apple Events; the ability to monitor applications one at a time; event rules; enhanced performance, customization, etc. [Download - form]
Macromedia has released Dreamweaver MX 2004 7.0.1, a free update that significantly improves performance (up to 70 percent on Mac OS X), improves stability, restores the Timeline feature from the original Dreamweaver MX, and more. Dreamweaver MX 2004 sells for $400.
Hitatchi has started shipping in limited quantities its new 400GB Deskstar 7K400 hard drive. The drive, noted earlier this week, is the highest capacity on the market, spins at 7,200 RPM, and features both Serial and Parallel ATA connectivity. It also features new Rotational Vibration Safeguard technology "used to ensure drive performance in high rotational vibration environments, where there are multiple drives in a single enclosure" as well as Hitatchi's enterprise-class spindle motor. Pricing is currently unavailable.
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Remote S for Tesla Apple Watch app drives car out
Developer Allen Wong has created the Remote S for Tesla app, which can be used to remotely activate the Model S electric car via an Apple Watch, and drive it a short distance. Aside from providing data about the car and some basic function controls, the unofficial app uses the manufacturer's Summon command to allow the car to turn on, exit the garage, and park near to the user's location. The app is available to purchase from the App Store for $10. http://apple.co/1PprF4t
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