Mediafour today released XPlay 2, a new version of its popular Windows software for iPod users. Version 2 offers new features, including compatibility with Audible files, AAC files, and automatic WMA-to-MP3 conversion. Mediafour also says that XPlay 2 is also much faster than the original XPlay, has improved support for international characters, displays album art, supports play counts, and has a "greatly-enhanced" interface under Windows XP. XPlayoffers Windows connectivity for iPods, including Windows integration for Mac-formatted iPods and compatibility with older versions of Windows, including Windows Me and Windows 98SE. Upgrades to the $30 application are $15.
Iomega today began shipping its new Iomega REV 35GB/90GB drive, a removable storage alternative to tape and other backup and archiving solutions. Iomega says that the REV disks transfer data up to eight times faster than tape, are smaller than a deck of playing cards (10 x 77 x 75 mm), can store up to 90GB of compressed data, and can be rewritten more than a million times (estimated) and offer a shelf life of more than 30 years. The REV drives offer a maximum sustained transfer rate of 25 MB/sec, and use drag and drop random access technology to copy and restore individual files. Both the external USB 2.0 ($400) and internal ATAPI versions ($380) are available.
ListSaver 2.0 adds the ability to rebuild manually updated iPods from scratch, including automatically copying the music files from the local library to the iPod. This allows a user to perform a software restore on a manual iPod, and then return it to its previous state, as well as creating multiple iPods with the same set of music. [1.2MB] Basecamp, a web-based project management tool with RSS and iCal integration, has added file uploading and sharing to its feature set. The hosted service offers project status messages, milestones, to-do lists, project overviews, etc. Pricing starts at $20 per month. Studiometry 1.2 ($55) helps organize Client data, Project data, Project files, To Do's, Debts, Invoices, Reports, Notes, and more. Version 1.2 adds Windows compatibility, allowing users to copy their data file to a Windows computer and access it exactly as they would on the Mac. This update also adds customizable project specs, a completely new Alerts window, multi-threading, etc. [2.6MB] OpenOSX TojanDefuser is an application to disarm variations of the concept Trojan Horse "MP3Virus.Gen" while leaving the data intact. The drag and drop open source Cocoa application "TrojanDefuser" is available as a free download. [1.2MB] Conoa 3D 1.8 ($300) and Conoa EasyShapes 1.4 ($110) both feature improved rendering speed and reduced memory usage. Additionally, Conoa EasyShapes adds separate controls for manipulating the opacity of the front and rear of the objects and the ability to invert texture maps horizontally. Both work as plug-ins within Adobe After Effects 4.1, Final Cut Pro (v3.0 or later), Discreet Combustion 3, and Avid systems. [form] In-Out Board is a new cross-platform employee status tracking tool that allows you to automate your company's In/Out board or other employee tracking systems into a flexible electronic status board. Users can easily set their status as well as leave notes (i.e.how they can be reached, when they'll be back). It features custom categories as well as can connect remote offices over the internet. Pricing starts at $9 per user. [Classic, OSX] Two Due 1.5 ($10) updates the Java-based to-do list manager with a new find command, the ability to mass change from one category, improved web publishing (with a new playback of scripts recorded using TDF Czar), pending status display, import of data from tab-delimited files or HTML bookmark files, and web page validation. [882KB]
BBC News looks at Real Networks and the global roll-out of its latest audio and video player, RealPlayer 10: "for Real Networks the launch comes at a crucial time, caught as it is between the Microsoft rock and the Apple hard place, both of which are pushing hard into the company's market place. Microsoft media player keeps gaining market share, while Apple in recent months has managed to grab headlines with its iTunes service. However, speaking to BBC News Online, Real Networks chief executive Rob Glaser is bullish: 'If having 350m users worldwide is between a rock and a hard place, then it's a very nice situation to be in.'"
IDG World Expo today offered a "first look" at some of the industry-leading companies that will be exhibiting at the upcoming Macworld Conference & Expo in Boston. IDG says that Quark, Harman Multimedia and Xerox as well as a dozen other companies have signed up to participate a the Expo, which takes place July 12-15, 2004 at the new Boston Convention & Exhibition Center (BCEC). Macworld Boston will also offer a educational program, networking opportunities and hands-on product demonstrations. Other exhibitors include Alias, Belkin, Brenthaven, Disc Makers, DriveSavers, Harmony Remote, IOGEAR, Parliant, Prosoft Engineering, Roku, Sassasfras, Software MacKiev, and Sonnet Technologies.
Creo today released Pandora 2.6, a new version of its step-and-repeat tool for folding carton and label manufacturers. Version 2.6 of Pandora, built for Mac OS X, includes performance enhancers-up to 90 percent over Pandora 2.5 running on Mac OS 9. Pandora uses open file standards such as PDF and JDF to enable seamless integration with many workflow systems. This easy-to-use software features innovative technologies such as SmartMarks and ShopMap˙ software, and dramatically reduces the time it takes to create step-and-repeat layouts.
Other World Computing today has reduced prices by as much as 10 percent on its Mercury Extreme line of G4 processor upgrades. ZThe Mercury Extreme G4 line features Tantalum-dipped components and an ultra-quiet custom cooling system with a pre-attached heat-sink and fan in "order to maximize the reliability and longevity of the upgrade," according to the company. The company cut prices by $30 on its 867MHz-933MHz (now $250), 867MHz-1.0GHz (now $270), G4/1.0-1.1GHz (now $300), and G4/1.25-1.4GHz ($420). The G4/1.25-1.33GHz is now $390 ($10 drop) and the G4/1.4-1.467GHz is $480 ($20 drop).
Keyspan has started shipping its USB Server, which connects USB devices to a Mac or PC via wired or wireless Ethernet-based LAN. The USB server functions similarly to a print server and features four USB ports and a 10/100 Ethernet port for connecting to networks. The Keyspan USB Server sells for $130.
GUI Galaxy, a Web site "by and for graphic designers," has relaunched today with a new site design, daily news posts, an RSS newsfeed, OS X icons an software, staff-designed apparel, and user-driven newsletter management.
QuickerTek has started offering an AirPort-specific version of the Super Cantenna, a high-performance directional antenna that can double or triple PowerBook G4 AirPort and AirPort Extreme signals. Inspired by the original Pringles can antenna boosters, the 12dbi Super Cantenna features a 12-inch main tube antenna body that can be equipped with an optional mini tripod. Configurations sell for $70 to $150.
Apple's PowerSchool division today announced the availability of PowerSchool SIS 2004. The upgrade to the Web-based student information system includes more than 100 new features, such as walk-in scheduling automation, increased flexibility and usability for meeting NCLB requirements, streamlined reports, and state specific special compliance enhancements. PowerSchool SIS 2004 is scheduled to ship June 25, 2004; interested districts should contact Apple directly for pricing information.
Pantone today started shipping colorist, a new utility that makes it easy for graphic designers to select Pantone Matching System Colors from within applications that don't already incorporate Pantine Libraries. Colorist supports such titles as Adobe Photoshop Elements, Apple Keynote, and Macromedia Dreamweaver and Flash. The software also includes a dynamic, free Web utility called InspireME that offers an array of predefined color schemes created by Leatrice Eiseman, color consultant and director of the Pantone Color Institute. Colorist sells for $50; ColorWeb Pro users may upgrade to Colorist for $20.
Optimistik Animation is offering 50 percent off Handwritten Vol.1, its first LiveFont package for Apple's LiveType and Final Cut Pro 4.0, during NAB. From now through April 24 customers can purchase Handwritten Vol. 1 for $50.
Apple CEO Steve Jobs' $74.75 million net gain from stock options in 2003 puts him second only to Colgate-Palmolive's CEO among executives who received the largest pay packages last year, according to The Wall Street Journal (paid subscription required). According to the Mercer Human Resource Consulting's annual compensation survey, 145 CEOs in 2003 exercised options for a net gain of $1.91 billion, up from $1.68 billion in 2002. We recently noted that should Apple have had to account for stock options as expenses, it would have turned a loss for the year instead of a profit in 2003.
Now AAPL Stock: 100.35 ( -0.06 )
Trade-up program expands in Europe
Smartphone users in France, Italy, and Spain will have until at least August of this year to trade in old iPhone, Windows Phone, or Android models at Apple Stores, and put the reward towards a new iPhone -- thanks to an expansion of Apple's trade-in program into those countries. The money given for the trade-in must be applied towards a new iPhone on a two-year payment plane, and traders must qualify under a credit check as part of the program. Interested customers can apply for the trade-in at their nearest Apple Store. http://bit.ly/1qPsldD
NBCUniversal adds Bravo, Syfy, E! to Apple TV
NBCUniversal has launched three new apps channels for Apple TV users. Bravo Now, Syfy Now and E! Now brings users access full seasons of current and past episodes of most of NBCUniversal's catalog. The Bravo Now app includes shows like "The Real Housewives of New York Cit," "Below Deck Mediterranean," comedy "Odd Mom Out" and "Top Chef." The Syfy Now app offers up shows like "The Magicians," thriller "12 Monkeys" and the reality show "Face Off." The E! Now app serves up shows like "Keeping Up with the Kardashians," "Botched," "#RichKids of Beverly Hills," Caitlyn Jenner's "I Am Cait," and "WAGS." While some content is free, most content requires users to authenticate via their cable satellite or telco TV provider. http://bit.ly/20K4Pea
Apple rolls out Arabic version of Apple.com
Apple has rolled out a new version of its Apple.com website for Arabic language users in the United Arab Emirates. The site utilizes a right-to-left reading format where it has been updated, although the upgrade is still in progress with a number of page links still in the original English language left-to-right format. Of particular note is that the site debuts an all-new custom Arabic font created by the Tarek Atrissi Design agency, giving it a highly contemporary look and feel. The new support for Arabic on its host website follows the introduction of full support for right-to-left languages in iOS 9, and the addition of Arabic support to Siri late last year. http://apple.co/20JHGIM
Adobe previews Photoshop content-aware crop
Adobe has previewed a new 'content-aware crop' feature from the next version of its Photoshop CC. The new feature is similar to its 'content-aware fill' from the current version of Photoshop CC, and potentially saves users time when cropping photos in a way that might otherwise leave blank white space in the frame. Adobe's 'content-aware' tech automatically assesses the blank space and seamlessly fills the blank space with the nearest related content in the space when a photo is expanded or rotated without the need to manually clone that part of the image. The feature allows users to move a horizon by adding more sky or ground, change the aspect ratio by adding content around the edges of the image and fill in the corners of an image when rotated during a crop. Adobe says the feature is coming soon and will be automatically available to Creative Cloud subscribers. http://adobe.ly/20JDFEu
Markzware updates Q2ID for QuarkXPress 12 files
Graphic design file conversion tool maker Markzware has launched a new version of its Q2ID tool. The InDesign plugin enables users to open QuarkXPress files within a new InDesign (INDD) document, without rebuilding the QXP document from scratch -- the new version includes support for QuarkXPress 12 files. Q2ID Subscription members can download the new version as part of their annual plan. A single-user can purchase the plugin for $200, with other licensing options available. http://bit.ly/1Z4dS9t
PopChar X 7.5 arrives
Ergonis Software has released PopChar X 7.5, an improved version of the company's tool for finding and inserting special characters and exploring fonts. PopChar X 7.5 adds support for combined emojis in the Apple Color Emoji font, enhances the "Font Info" view, and adds many further enhancements that improve overall speed and stability. PopChar X 7.5 retails for €30 ($34), and is free for anyone who owns a license for PopChar X 7 or purchased a license for PopChar X 6 on or after March 1, 2014 [4.5MB]
Safari Technology Preview release 5 arrives