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Xserve setup ease
According to Apple server hardware manager Douglas Brooks, the Xserve "is not for IT people, it's for users themselves to set up." Brooks made the comment at the FOSE 2004 tech trade show in Washington, DC. He also said the $4000 dual-processor model is hardware-streamlined for tight coupling in an Apple Workgroup Cluster, in contrast with the more loosely coupled Linux PC clusters (nicknamed Beowulf).
OS X history
Ars Technica has published a retrospective look at the history of Mac OS X since March 24, 2001. The extensive report details the "highs and lows of OS X" over its gradual development. "It has been a long and winding road for OS X users. After three years, Mac users have a modern, mature, and stable desktop OS. While there have been some hiccups along the way, Apple has generally done a good job rolling out new features in the four major releases."
Forums: Programmers needed
Topics of discussion on the MacNN forums today include: MacNN is seeking help with various PHP/SQL projects; speculation about upcoming higher capacity/speed laptop hard drives; speculation about Apple products in the corporate word, and the potential for a "corporate Mac"; a problem whereby a member's iBook crashes due to slight torsional forces on the case; a member's review of the Bluetake BT-500 wireless Bluetooth mouse.
Bugdom 2 v2.0
Pangea Software has released Bugdom 2 v2.0, a free update to its popular game that now supports the use of 3D anaglyph glasses for a "truly immersive" 3D experience. "There are some really cool 'in-your-face' 3D effects in Bugdom 2 which are just amazing with the 3D glasses on," said Brian Greenstone, President of Pangea Software. Bugdom 2 uses the same Red-Cyan 3D glasses that Nanosaur 2 and Otto Matic use. The glasses are available free in every boxed version of Nanosaur 2 (two pairs) or can be purchased directly from Rainbow Symphony.
RIAA lawsuits, laptop DVDs
Afternoon tech news: The RIAA has filed another round of lawsuits--including those against users on college campuses--in trying to stem illegal downlads, which have increased 25% since the third-quarter of 2003; Toshiba has announced dual-format DVD drives for notebooks and desktop systems that support the "-R/RW" and "+R/RW" technologies; HP said said it will work with Novell to deliver Linux-based PCs; and Microsoft unvieled its Speech Server 2004, designed for companies setting up call centers with automated voice and touch-tone menus to provide customers service.
Apple in telco markets
Apple's G5 is gaining popularity on the edge of the network with content delivery providers and telecommunication companies, according to Infrastructure, which notes that Apple's QuickTime streaming platform is "'being used for a number for billing and routing calls. These companies are looking at their UNIX-based Sun and other vendor boxes and moving over to Macintosh OS X Panther.'...Apple is quietly making gains in server rooms and data centers and not just because the art department needs a G5....Apple said it has already inked deals with telco provider StarHub in Singapore and is in the middle of a dozen other trials in Asia."
AbiWord for Mac OS X
The AbiWord Team has released an experimental testing version of AbiWord v2.1.1 for Mac OS X as part of its second development version of the free word processing application. The version, released for developer testing and as a sneak preview, offers a fully functional Mac OS X native binary as well as several other features, including automatic Table of Contents generation, text folding (a.k.a., "outlines"), version history and rollback, complex language support (Arabic, Hebrew, Thai, and Indic), improved MS import/HTML export, better RTF import/export, and other features.
XTension 5.0 for Mac OS X
Sand Hill Engineering has released XTension 5.0 for Mac OS X, a "completely rewritten" version of its software for home automation. The software offers central control over many different devices used to automate or control various household electronics, including lighting, music, etc. It can create database of units and variables, import custom graphic views and icons, drag-and-drop items between windows, setup scheduled events, and create and assign scripts to database units as well as supports AppleScript. XTension sells for $150 and requires one X-10 two-way interface and serial cable adaptor.
Mac FrameMaker RIP
Adobe announced it will discontinue FrameMaker for the Macintosh on April 21, 2004. Adobe says Adobe FrameMaker 7.1 will continue to be available on Microsoft Windows and Sun Solaris platforms and that complimentary and fee-based technical support for FrameMaker 7.0 for Macintosh will be available for one year, through April 21, 2005. "The majority of customers use FrameMaker on Windows and Sun platforms... Adobe's planned development efforts for FrameMaker will focus on Windows and Solaris platforms." Earlier this year the company released FrameMaker 7.1 for Windows and Solaris, but refused to answer questions on the future development for the Mac.
Xgrid Preview 2 clustering
Apple today released Xgrid Preview 2, an update to its clustering software for Mac OS X. It adds a command-line tool for submitting and monitoring jobs from the command line and support for the Message Passing Interface for tightly-coupled computations. Xgrid can create a cluster of Macs that can work together on a single project and features screensaver mode and uses Rendezvous technology to discover available resources. The software runs on Mac OS X 10.2.8 or later.
AAC/FairPlay DRM licensing
In order to secure the largest share of the digital music business Apple should license its AAC/FairPlay digital rights management technology to rival stores, opines Alex Salkever of BusinessWeek Online. While Apple's current iTunes/iPod set up is enabling it to lead both the music store and MP3 player industries, continued competition from rival services that employ Microsoft's WMA format coupled with improved MP3 players from competitors could leave Apple in a similar position it found itself in the PC market during the late 80's and early 90's.
LiveStage Professional 4.5 ($450) updates Totally Hip's QuickTime authoring applicatio designed to create interactive digital presentations. It now includes a QScript Extension Essentials (QSXE) QuickTime component for cookie storage/retrieval, downloading files within movies, printing functions, video in QVTR, visual sound equalizers, and text encryption.
PowerSnipe Auction Sniper 1.3 ($45 for 1-year license) is now available for Mac OS X; the snipe and bid management tool offers eBay users greater purchase power by placing their bid in the closing seconds of an auction (i.e., "snipping"). It supports both secure servers and places the bid from multiple servers for greater reliability. [1.2MB] mathStatica 1.5 (starts at $90) is designed to solve the algebraic/symbolic problems that are of primary interest in mathematical statistics. The software accomplishes this by building upon the symbolic computational power of Mathematica to create a sophisticated toolset specially designed for doing mathematical statistics. Version 1.5 represents an overhaul of the software's main components and adds full support for Mathematica 5. SuperDuper 1.2 ($20) is a unique backup utility that allows users to instantly revert their system to a saved state, in the event of data corruption, accidental deletion of files, or unresolvable system issues. Version 1.2 adds a Smart Update that speeds up drive cloning by only updating and deleting files that have changed. [1.7MB]
FaxEmailHelper 1.3 (donationware) helps users with fax attachments in Mac OS X 10.3 Panther, including working around a few bugs in the OS. This version is completely rewritten for greater stability, and "incorporates the changes Apple made in OX 10.3.2 in an attempt to fix some of these problems which did not work because of minor programing errors." [103KB]
MacSpeech released new ScriptPaks for Now Software's Now Contact ($10) and Now Up-To-Date programs ($20). The new ScriptPaks for iListen contain over 250 commands that allow you to manipulate almost all of the functions in the two programs using only the user's voice.
Troi Activator Plug-in 1.4 ($90) for FileMaker 6/7 is a new version of its tool for triggering scripts across the network and the Internet. It can trigger remote scripts using built-in security, pass information for the trigger, features start/stop commands with a single script, trigger local/remote scripts on specific date/time, trigger scripts based on field completion, validate fields, etc. [864KB]
SightLight starts shipping
Griffin Technology has started shipping the SightLight, its iSight-specific camera light that slips over the iSight and improves a person's onscreen iChat appearance. The SightLight is powered by FireWire and can automatically sense the level of ambient light in a room to determine whether it should turn itself on or not (along with standard on/off functionality). It sells for $40.
Renegade of the Year
Apple CEO Steve Jobs has captured a 2004 Wired Rave Award, presented to "the mavericks, the dreamers, the innovators. The 20 people paving the way to tomorrow and inspiring us to follow in their footsteps." Jobs' accomplishments with both Apple (in particular iTunes) and Pixar gave him the edge as "Renegade of the Year" over Linus Torvalds (Open Source Development Labs), Burt Rutan (Scaled Composites), and Niklas Zennstrom & Janus Friis (Skype). The iTunes Music Store team was also nominated in the Software category, but was beat out by BitTorrent creator Bram Cohen.
The GIMP 2.0 unleashed
GIMP 2.0, the open-source GNU image manipulation program, was released yesterday, marking the end of a three-year development cycle. The major revision encompasses a new look and countless new features and enhancements. Free binaries are available for download, although a Mac OS X binary does not appear to have made its way out yet. Archei LLC is offering MacGIMP 2.0 (precompiled, needing a simple drag and drop for installation) as a $30 download or $50 on CD. Gimp.app, the free self-contained application bundle for Mac OS X is also currently at version 2.0rc1.
EU fines MS $613 million
The European Union today slapped Microsoft with a €497.2 million ($613 million) fine for abusing its "near monopoly" with Windows to squeeze out competitors in other markets. Further, the EU said that because Microsoft's abuses are currently continuing, the company must change the way it operates in Europe, including offering a version of Windows to computer makers that doesn't isn't bundled with Windows Media Player and sharing its source code with rivals in server market. Microsoft has said it will appeal the verdict and will ask the court to suspend the order during the appeal, a process that could take years.
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