Spiderweb Software has announced the release of Blades of Avernum, its new fantasy 'role-playing system' for the Macintosh. Blades of Avernum comes with several large, exciting adventures: "Prepare for tales of sword and sorcery in a world at war. One one side, the mighty empire that controls all known lands. On the other, determined rebels hiding in caverns far underground. Pick up a blade and take on cunning foes. And then, when victory is yours, go online and download more free adventures." Blades of Avernum is $25, or $32 with a hint book.
Evening tech news: Baseball fans will be able to connect computer devices via wireless computer networking, or WiFi, at San Francisco Giants home games this year, the team announced on Tuesday; online music service MusicNet(at)AOL on Tuesday said it was changing its pricing format to charge all subscribers a monthly fee of $8.95, plus 99 cents per song purchased and burned to a CD; Google Monday put its Froogle shopping tool on its main Web site and said it is testing new services to deliver personalized search results.
CNET reports that the bond between Adobe and Apple "has been loosening." Columnist David Becker says, "Apple Computer and Adobe Systems, like many in long-term relationships, have seen the 20-years-and-counting bond between them run hot and cold. [...] Signs of frost have been accumulating for the past couple of years, with Adobe dropping Macintosh support for several software products and introducing others as Microsoft Windows-only applications." At the same time, Apple has quietly pushed Adobe out of certain markets by offering its own digital media applications for Mac OS X.
FireWire Depot today debuted a new 1394b Cardbus card for notebooks. The 1394b FireWire 800 PCMCIA host adapter adds high-speed FireWire 800 connectivity to notebooks with a PC card slot (with Cardbus support) and offers both Mac OS 9 and Mac OS X support. It features two FireWire800/1394b ports and a single FireWire/1394a port with an optional external power source (12V/1.5A output). It is available for $90.
MacNN reader Dave Schroeder followed-up on the recently reported Princeton laboratory fire incident, the insurance company Clausen Miller said was in part due to a Power Mac G4, although the fire department report offers no evidence to support the claim. The Fire Marshal concluded: "My investigation of this fire determined the fire orginated inside the elecrical receptacle box and ignited the wood supporting the cable tray. Flames from this fire ignited the paper products that were stored on the lower shelf of the lab bench, and the smoke from the fire activated the building fire alarm system. My investigation determined that the cause of this fire was electrical in nature and was accidental."
The Times warns iPod users against using the bundled headphones when using the MP3 player in public places: "The distinctive 'earbud' white headphones are a giveaway to criminals that a highly desirable iPod, costing up to £400, is concealed about the street-walking music lover, according one reader: "Todays UK "The Times" (UK's 2nd major broadsheet) newspaper carries a front page article and photograph detailing the rise in attacks on iPod owners by muggers and reports police advise owners to avoid using the tell-tale white iPod earphones." [registration required]
Aspyr today announced that The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King is shipping and said it will be available in stores nationwide by April 2. The video game will "once again put the fate of Middle-earthô in the hands of gamers as they become the hero in a cinematic action adventure of epic scale. Players must destroy the One Ring by casting it into the Crack of Doom, freeing Middle-earth from the clutches of the Dark Lord Sauron. [It] allows players to journey through multiple gameplay paths, taking control of the motion pictureís heroes. Defend the walls of Minas Tirith as Gandalf, raise the Army of the Dead as Aragorn, Legolas, or Gimli, and with Frodo and Sam, deliver the ring to the fiery depths of Mount Doom." The title is $50.
VideoCapture 1.0 (free) allows users to grab images from any video source or webcams. It work with any USB/FireWire video source (including the iSight) and supports IOXpert's drivers. It runs on Mac OS X 10.2 or later. [1.3MB] Cheetah3D 1.4 ($60) offers speed and quality improvements in the application's built-in renderer; it also offers a completely new anitaliasing algorithm and UI refinements. The 3D modeller and renderer features tools from simple polygon editing over advanced subdivision modelling to boolean operations and runs on Mac OS X 10.3.3 Panther only. [11MB] Snard v2.0 ($10) is an application launcher utility for Mac OS X that "provides many of the functionalities of Mac OS 9's Apple and Application menus, yet it can be customized to your heart's content. Snard can be used as a system menu, from the dock or as a hot key activated popup menu." Upgrades are $6. [menubar, dock] Jon's Phone Tool 1.1.4 ($8) is a scriptable phone dialing application that uses either your Mac's built-in speakers or the modem to dial a phone number. Users can enter a phone number manually or use the integrated search tools to find numbers in your Address Book, Microsoft Entourage, Now Contact, or Palm Desktop databases as well as the Web. [2.5MB] Coupon Creator 1.0 ($70) for Mac OS X allows businesses to quickly and inexpensively, create electronic coupons that are dedicated to their products and services, and integrate them into their web site. It offers easy creation of (graphical) coupons from text entries, multiple styles with automatic updates via the Web, and other features. [5.2MB] Rally Shift 1.1 updates CodeBender Software's racing game title with several new features such as night driving, rain and fog, 3D trees, as well as an "exciting new car". It is a free update to the $25 title for Mac OS X. [36MB] GyazMail 1.1.1 ($18) updates the all-new email client for Mac OS X that offers support for multiple accounts, singe-file messges, multiple character support, custom display options, threading, etc. [2.8MB] WinSwitch is "a complete rewrite of the FUSe Menu Extra...This is a total revision of the code base to bring the user experience much more closely in line with Apple's version. Like FUSe, WinSwitch is freeware and the source is available under a BSD license." [286KB] Explicit 1.3 (freeware) is a "Cocoa application for splitting AVI (DivX, xviD etc) video files. I created this program for personal use in order to trim DivX files to fit on 700MB CD-ROMs." It runs on Mac OS X 10.2 or later. [2.4MB]
ITC today released four new typefaces: ITC Kahana, ITC Puamana, ITC Christoph's Quill, and ITC Chivalry. Kahana and Puamana have Hawaaiin influences, while Christoph's Quill is "the culmination of experimentation with a graphics tablet that spanned several years." ITC Chivalry is a calligraphic hybrid that adheres to the tradition of combining Roman capitals with italic lowercase letters. The fonts are available for $40 each in PostScript and TrueType formats.
Chuckwalla today began shipping Chuckwalla v5, the newest version of its flagship suite of digital asset management technology. Version 5 features a .NET framework, transforming the software into a set of Web services that can be accessed from any Web browser. Appropriately, the server software is available only for Windows 2000/2003 Server, with native clients available for a variety of platforms, including Mac OS 9 and Mac OS X.
Higgs Communications has published a detailed guide to selling your music on the iTunes Music Store. Targeted at independent record labels, the $20 guide covers every step in the process, from contacting Apple to encoding and submitting music to the store. It also highlights the requirements for getting music into the iTunes Music Store as well as the pitfalls of the process.
SBC Communications will announce plans to introduce Wi-Fi Internet access to more than 3,000 UPS retail stores around the country, the Wall Street Journal reports (paid subscription required). The service will be available at 1,500 UPS Store and Mail Boxes, Etc. locations by the end of the year, and will expand to 3,000-plus during 2005. SBC previously announced plans to deploy over 20,000 Wi-Fi hot spots in 6,000 locations over the next three years. The company currently offers access for $20/month, but that price is expected to decline significantly as more locations are added and SBC starts bundling access with other services it offers.
iPodMods.com is a new outlet for customizing and repairing iPods. The company currently offers a variety of repair services, including battery replacement ($40), LCD screen replacement ($85), IDE cable replacement ($25), 5GB hard drive backup to DVD-R ($5), and general repair service ($20 for a diagnostic). The company next week will introduce new iPod modifications.
WiebeTech's new Quad BayDock 800 is a four-drive, hot-swappable FireWire 800/USB 2.0 enclosure that can support sustained transfer speeds of over 100MB/sec in a RAID configuration. The enclosure, which is targeted at multimedia professionals, is available for $900 without drives, or with drives in the following configurations: 4x120GB ($1,300), 4x160GB ($1,400), 4x200GB ($1,600), 4x250GB ($1,900).
Aspyr said today that Command & Conquer Generals -- its Macintosh adaptation of the popular strategy game -- has been completed (Gold Master stage) and will enter production shortly. "This title marks the triumphant return of the Command & Conquer franchise to the Macintosh," the developer says. The new game is expected to be in stores nationwide by April 16. "Generals" costs $50, and is currently available for pre-order from Aspyr.
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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