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: 93.4 ( -2.7 )
WhatsApp now handles over 100M calls daily
WhatsApp is celebrating that it is being used for over 100 million calls every day. In a brief notice, the Facebook-owned messaging platform advises the voice-calling feature it rolled out to its users last year now deals with an average of over 1,100 calls initiated per second. Earlier this year, it increased the security of its calls and other messages, by introducing end-to-end encryption on all platforms. http://bit.ly/292HqCX
Adele's '25' album now streaming
Recording artist Adele has "pulled a Kanye" after saying that her current album "25" would not be available for streaming. The seven-month-old record, which has yielded a number of hit singles, is now available for streaming on all the major streaming services, such as Apple Music and Spotify, as of today in most major markets, with worldwide distribution to come. Reportedly, the singer had demanded streaming be limited to paid subscribers -- a condition that has hurt some streamers with artists, who aren't paid royalties for free or trial listens . Apple pays performers its normal royalty rates during its free trial, avoiding the issue -- and having repeated success in both signing up exclusives and placing those exclusives into the top of the charts. http://ti.me/28U7NOu
SanDisk iXpand case has battery, storage
A new iPhone 6 and iPhone 6s case from SanDisk appears to be the "holy grail" of accessories: a stylish and protective case that offers both extra storage as well as the option of extra battery power as well. The iXpand Memory case offers either 32GB, 64GB, or 128GB of additional storage incorporated into the case, and an optional add-on battery pack (sold separately) adds up to an extra day or more of charge. Through the associated iXpand app, camera photos and videos can be automatically stored on the extra storage, optionally password-protected, The cost for the case is (in order of storage capacity) $60, $100, and $130. The battery pack's release data has not yet been announced, but the add-on should retail for an additional $30. http://bit.ly/291epHu
Fifth Hong Kong store to open June 30
The 46th official Apple store in what the company calls the "Greater China" region will open at 10AM local time in Hong Kong's New Town Plaza in the Sha Tin district on Thursday, June 30, according to a new page on Apple's retail website. Despite slowing growth due to economic turmoil in China, the country is still Apple's fastest-growing market. The new story will be the fifth for Hong Kong, a lucrative market for Apple thanks to the high concentration of wealth there and a thriving "gray" market. Normal store hours for the new store will be 10AM to 10PM every day. http://apple.co/291diaT
Apple Music bug bites very short songs
There appears to be a reproducible bug in the current version of iTunes -- version 12.4.1, running on OS X 10.11.5, both the current non-beta versions of the respective software -- that causes a streamed song to become "stuck" in endless buffering if the streamed item just before this happened was 60 seconds or less in length. The problem appears to stem from code in iTunes that signals the next track to start downloading one minute before the currently-playing track is done, and thus songs shorter than one minute don't trigger the download. Locally-stored music is unaffected by the bug, and the problem does not appear to exist in either the macOS Sierra developer beta or versions of iTunes earlier than 12.4, and does not affect the iOS Music app at all. http://bit.ly/291cN0l
Walmart Pay expands to 15 states
Walmart, one of the key progenitors of the failed CurrentC mobile payment system that was distinguished from Apple Pay by its ability to collect and share customer financial and buying data among its participants, has expanded the soft rollout of its alternative solution "Walmart Pay" to an additional 15 US states following a pilot program in Arkansas and Texas last month. Walmart continues to resist adding Apple Pay. The system, built into the Walmart app for iOS and Android, works with a complicated system of the camera scanning a purchase code at the register, then generating a QR code which is then scanned by the register. The system is available now in Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, North Carolina, North Dakota, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Virginia, and Washington, DC. http://apple.co/28SqZfu
Amazon refreshes entry-level Kindle
Amazon has added a new Kindle to its ebook reader range, one that is thinner and lighter than the previous entry-level model. Offering a six-inch 167-dpi touchscreen display, a doubled 4GB of storage, and an option for a white casing, the new model also adds in the ability to export highlights and notes to an email account as a PDF. Two versions of the all-new Kindle are available, priced at $80 including "Special Offers" and $100 without. http://amzn.to/28Q4c3R