Citing the iPod's success, The New York Times says that Apple's next product could "shake up" the consumer market for digital hub devices: "More recently, Mr. Jobs has been highly critical of attempts to add video and gaming features to hand-held devices that compete with the iPod. The success of the iPod, he argues, rests on the idea that it allows users to do other things while listening to music on a portable device built to do nothing other than produce excellent sound. If Mr. Jobs can reinvent the home-computer-as-entertainment-and-information-hub the way he led the creation of a seamless way of delivering digital music, analysts say, he could shake up the plans of all the other more powerful corporate interests trying to figure out what consumers want."
Small Tree has announced broadened system support for its multi-port Gigabit Ethernet product line. The company is expanding the availability of its "Dual Connect" and "Quad Connect" Multiport Gigabit Ethernet adapters to include the G4 Power Mac and Xserve. This expands the list of supported platforms from the Apple Power Mac G5 and Xserve G5, which were available when the cards were first introduced at MacWorld in January.
Apple's PowerBook G4 trade-in program ends this Friday, March 26th. The deal offers customers the option to trade in their PowerBook G4 laptops for credit toward the purchase of a new 15-inch or 17-inch notebook. The program was announced late last year, and provides a $700 credit for all qualifying units. Those wishing to take advantage of the offer must call AppleCare directly at 800-275-2273.
FCW has published commentary on Apple's move to 64-bit processing, "raw processing power hasn't always been Apple Computer Inc.'s claim to fame, but the company's latest crop of 64-bit desktop computers might prompt an image makeover." Todd Benjamin, Apple product manager for the Power Mac G5, said "The 64-bit G5 processor lets you use way more main memory and to do certain types of computations that aren't feasible with a 32-bit chip."
Apple today released iPhoto 4.01, an update to its photo import/organization application that includes "many organizational and stability enhancements. Performance has also been increased throughout the application, giving you faster importing, smoother image viewing and easier Rendezvous photo sharing. This version of iPhoto also features improved thumbnail images in your photo library. To take advantage of this, your thumbnails must be upgraded, which may take a while, depending on the number of photos in your library." iPhoto 4 is available as part of the $50 iLife '04 suite.
Afternoon tech news: The DVD Forum has chosen AAC for the DVD-ROM zone of DVD-Audio discs based on the quality of the audio and the music industry's perception of the audio format; Ten organizations submitted applications to sponsor new Internet domains (including ".mobi" for mobile services and ".xxx" for adult content), which could be approved later this year; microchips are being used to deter theft of beehives in California's Central Valley; and a California man has been charged with extortion, after allegedly making demands for $100,000 from Google in exchange for not publicly releasing software that would generate fake advertising hits.
Konkeptoine today announced its NX Shading System for Electric Image's Universe Animator, which introduces the concept of working with Slots within a shader in Universe Animator: "By combining up to four different Slots a user can layer from a choice of 31 different noise algorithms to form a surface description of incredible variety and character. This way surfaces can be generated that range in looks from a rusted and corroded metal to highly believable water, tree barks, etc." It includes a library of noises (which can be combined via a several compositing modes) and offers real-time previews. It is compatible with Universe Animator 4/5 and upcoming Version 6. It is now available for Mac OS X for $200 ($50 off) through April 12th.
Equinux today announced that its VPN Tracker solution for creating secure connections is compatible with Novell BorderManager 3.8 ($35 per user), allowing employees working from remote locations on Macs to access files, email applications and databases over the Internet. Novell BorderManager includes firewall and VPN technologies to safeguard networks from potential internal and external threats. VPN Tracker provides secure networking, by encrypting all insecure Internet, company or AirPort connections for Mac OS X 10.2 and 10.3. Personal ($90) and Professional ($200) editions are available.
Sony last week launched two new LCDs: the new 17-inch (SDM-S74) and 19-inch (SDM-S94) displays will include both digital and analog inputs, allowing users to connect multiple computers to a single display. Sony will also offer a new cabinet color scheme, which will include both black and silver bezels. The displays feature the company's ErgoStand design to adjust the displays, an internal power supply. The black-finished LCDs will be available in April for $520 and $750, respectively, while the silver bezel version is due in May.
NEC-Mitsubishi today launched the NEC MultiSync LCD2060NX 20-inch LCD. The $1,200 display offers a brightness of 250 cd/m2, a 0.255 mm pixel pitch, 600:1 typical contrast ratio, 170-degree viewing angles, and 1600x1200 maximum resolution as well as Rapid Response technology for full-motion video display with typical response times of 25ms or less to virtually eliminate ghosting or blurring. It will ship later this month in both black and white. Sharp also introduced its LL-T15G4 ($400), a sleek 15" XGA LCD monitor (1024x768) with a brightness of 260-nits, a contrast ratio of 350:1, both digital and analog inputs, built-in stereo speakers, several viewing modes, color management functions, and a black or ivory bezel.
Sony has landed a $30 million marketing deal with McDonald's to promote its forthcoming download service, after Sony's last-minute pitch cut Apple out of the picture: "One person familiar with the McDonald's deal said the fast-food company would probably give away more than 100 million Sony Connect songs in the U.S. McDonald's had been in talks to launch a similar marketing effort with Apple, but switched plans after a last-minute pitch from Sony, sources said." Also, Sony "has already announced a deal with United Airlines in which travelers, once the Connect service starts, will be able to trade in frequent flier miles for free songs," according to The Chicago Tribune. [free registration required]
IPSecuritas 2.0 (free) can easily setup IPSec VPN connections to another host or network over the Internet, while securing your data by encryption and authentication. Version 2.0 features X.509 certificates support, a tunnel status indicator, ESP transport mode, autostart, dynamic DNS settings, routing checks, and other features. It runs on Mac OS X 10.2 or later. [1.7MB] Power Card 1.5 updates the project management application written for Mac OS X. The $60 application features an intuitive "task card" based interface for creating/organizing to-do's and other tasks. It is fully integrated the Mac OS X Address Book and offers Rendezvous support. [1.0MB] iTuner 2.0 (free) is a small application that controls iTunes with functions for fast-forward, rewind, ratings, pick playlist as well as add to "favorites," set EQ of the current track or the entire playlist (manually or by genre), remove dead track, export your playlist, and more. [274KB] LogPile 1.3 adds support for Library logs and the deletion of system logs. It also provides an improved and threaded Find feature, and allows users to define a unique display font for each log category and a default save directory. The utility can be used to view and analyze Mac OS X's system and application logs. [1.2MB] Painter's Picker 2.0b1 ($14) is an extension to the Mac OS X color picker panel that adds the ability to choose related colors (complementary colors, analogous colors, and more) and provides more precise controls for choosing saturation, hue angle, and brightness. Version 2.0 features new color schemes, a Web safe color space, and more. [294KB] Ram Disk Creator 1.0b is a tool to create Ram Disks: "This feature was available in Mac OS 9...A ram disk offers the possibility to have the fastest disk your Mac could ever have. Therefore it's the best solution for applications which require frequent disk accesses." The developer also notes that it can conserve power--especially useful for laptop users. [453KB] KisMAC 0.09a is a free stumbler application for Mac OS X, that puts your card into the "monitor mode" to help search for Wi-Fi signals. It supports third party PCMCIA cards with Orinico and PrismII chipsets, as well as Cisco Aironet cards. It offers netstumbler import, improved speed for word attacks, native GPSd support, and many bug fixes. [3.7MB]
Native Instruments has released REAKTOR 4.1, a free update that adds dozens of new features to the modular sound design studio. REAKTOR 4.1 includes savable screensets for managing individual window arrangements; a batch converter for analyzing audio files and converting REAKTOR 3 instruments; a new Total Recall system for saving all settings with a song; improvements to automation, sample mapping, morph functions and graphic modules; and performance optimizations. REAKTOR 4 sells for $560.
A new Vail District High School in Arizona is considering replacing textbooks with iBooks in an effort to better cater to state curriculum and test mandates, according to the Arizona Daily Star. The school's 350 students and 50 teachers would each be equipped with an iBook, which the district would purchase at the reduced price of $600 a piece. The Vail District is one of four or five districts in the state expected to receive funding for laptop programs.
New York City's love affair with the iPod is extending to perhaps the most natural of places: personal ads. A Wired News article examines the growing number of personal on New York's craigslist classified ads everything from ideal partners having iPods to those looking to give or receive an iPod in exchange for certain favors. Similar searches on craigslist in San Francisco, Los Angeles, or London don't return nearly as many results as New York City.
The Fraunhofer Institute, the group that initially developed the MP3 format, says it has figured out how to create surround-sound capable MP3 files (German) that are only a little bit larger in size than stereo MP3 files. The BBC reports that surround-sound MP3 files will require a compatible player to tap into the extra channels of the audio, although older players will also be able to read the files as stereo MP3s. Fraunhofer expects the technology to be available by July.
Ascending Technologies is offering free system evaluations to current FileMaker Pro 5 and 6 users who are considering upgrading to version 7. FileMaker Pro 7 employs a very different database structure from its predecessors and migrating to the new system can carry with it some issues and pitfalls. The free evaluations are being provided for a limited time only.
Thornton Academy, a private high school in Maine, plans to equip all of its 1,000+ students with iBooks, according to the Portland Press Herald News. Currently, all seventh and eighth grade students in the state's public schools have iBooks; the success of that program is what prompted Thornton to pursue a similar initiative. The deal is expected to cost $3 million to start and $900,000 a year to maintain. The school is currently in talks with Apple to determine whether to lease or buy the iBooks.
Intel plans to revamp the naming convention of its processors and will stop using clock speed as the primary means of distinguishing performance, The Wall Street Journal reports [paid subscription required]. The new numbering scheme will be more akin to what is found in the automobile industry, employing a variety of factors to assign a number to a chip, including architecture, frequency, speed, built-in memory, and forthcoming technologies. What was previously a Pentium M 2GHz could be known as a Pentium M 755, the article notes.
Topics of discussion on the MacNN forums today include: comparing the dual-1.25GHz Power Mac G4 to the single-1.6GHz PowerMac G5; Apple's recent lowering of refurbished PowerBook G4 pricing; discussion of iBook and competing consumer laptop pricing; comparing the sound quality output of the iPod to other devices' output quality; possible causes of complete system freeze under Mac OS X; continued discussion of members' favorite shareware applications; expected shipping dates for the full version of Unreal Tournament 2004.
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Apple brings iTunes Movie Trailers app to Canada
After five years, Apple has expanded its iTunes Movie Trailers app for iOS to Canada. As of Saturday, the free app allows movie buffs to see HD movie trailers for new studio and independent features, and explore some other movie-related extras such as photos, behind-the-scenes footage, or clips from upcoming films. Users can save trailers for quick access, read reviews from RottenTomatoes.com within the app, use AirPlay to send them to an Apple TV, share trailers, and peruse the top movie charts. http://apple.co/1UUKtwr
Apple expands CloudKit API, provides web interface
On Friday, Apple notified developers that it was expanding a feature of CloudKit to allow for server-to-server web service requests. "In addition to providing a web interface for users to access the same data as your app, you can now easily read and write to the CloudKit public database from a server-side process or script with a server-to-server key," Apple said in its announcement. Previously, interaction with the CloudKit public database was limited to apps and web only. http://apple.co/20h1RwP
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