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\'Focus Elements\' theme
Keynote Theme Park has released "Focus Elements" ($15), a collection of supplemental images that can be used with any theme or presentation in Apple's Keynote. It includes 134 individual transparent or translucent graphic panels that "will separate content and bring focus, in a beautiful and subtle way. Plus 745 aqua-type labels (zero to nine, A to Z, in three sizes and six colors)... They come in light and dark translucent, clear, bevel up and down, versions for both light and dark backgrounds."
Compression Master 2.3
Popwire today began shipping its desktop media encoding software, Compression Master 2.3 for Mac OS X, which brings support for more file formats, supplies over 80 ready-made professional encoding templates, and lowers the retail price to $500. The media encoding application offers server-grade reliability, fast encoding speed, and its strong preprocessing functions. The release also includes the ability to create watermarks from video, fully configurable output naming conventions, and support for DV, DVCPro, more AVI formats, and MPEG-2 using aspects 4:3, 16:9, and 2.21:1, with open/closed GOP.
MUG: AMUG, Portland
MUG news: The next general meeting of AMUG (Atlanta Macintosh Users Group) is being held tomorrow at Macquarium. The presentation will cover music creation on the Mac, a demonstration of MIDI, and coverage of equipment and connections. There will be door prizes and some free Apple/AMUG t-shirts available for all members attending (while supplies last). In other news, the next meeting of the Portland Mac Filmmakers' User Group will feature a demo of Apple's LiveType and a round table discussion of High Definition (HD) technology. The meeting will be held Monday, April 26th at 7pm in the MacForce theater.
RedLightRunner announced today that its Apple Collectible purchasing system has been updated to make submitting items easier and faster. RedLightRunner pays cash for Apple collectibles. Using the new online form, sellers can submit pictures of their items, as well as browse through archives of Apple items that RedLightRunner is interested in. The new system encourages faster processing of items and faster payments to sellers. "If you have Apple stuff in your garage or basement, come by our site 'cause we're buying." RedLightRunner also announced it will be offering microthin Apple mousepads today, for $3 or two for $5. Update: The company has sold out of mousepads.
Toon Boom Studio 2.5
Toon Boom Animation has released Toon Boom Studio 2.5 for Mac OS X. The application features powerful drawing tools, time-saving lip sync tools, and innovative 3D camera and scene planning tools. Version 2.5 of the popular cartoon animation solution for creative professionals brings sound scrubbing in the Timeline, the ability to draw in Sceneplanning and support for scanning. The upgrade is $200; all Mac customers that are eligible to receive the free electronic upgrade to v2.5 must download the upgrade by May 19, 2004.
Freeverse today announced that its online game matching service, GameSmith, has logged the creation of over 50,000 user accounts. With its concentration on the casual Mac game market, GameSmith provides a "friendly meeting place for gamers from around the globe." GameSmith is a free service, accessed from within any of the games that support it.
Bluetooth Firmware 1.1
Apple today released its Bluetooth Firmware Updater 1.1, which provides improvements in the update installation process, better performance when waking the computer from sleep, and support for additional key commands during startup. The Bluetooth Firmware Updater is for D-Link USB Adapters (revision B2 or later), and Apple internal Bluetooth modules on PowerBooks and PowerMacs. This firmware update will improve connectivity between the computer and the Apple Wireless Keyboard and Mouse. Use this updater for the modules specified above; this updater is unsupported with any other Bluetooth modules. Important: Applying this firmware updater to a D-Link USB to Bluetooth adapter will make it incompatible with non-Macintosh systems."
Mac fans at Microsoft
There is "a cabal of Mac fanatics" working at Microsoft, reports Wired News writer Leander Kahney. Lenn Pryor, a director of Windows platform evangelism, is one of them. Pryor transformed his Windows machine's appearance to mimic that of a Mac using a variety of interface tweaks found on the Web. Pryor downloaded ObjectDock, which clones the distinctive Mac OS X dock in Windows. Then he found a bunch of OS X-like icons, including iPhoto and iMovie icons to replace the My Pictures and My Movies folders. "Throw in iTunes and Firefox and you have a whole new OS experience," he wrote on his blog.
Tech: campus file swapping
Afternoon tech news: Hollywood is pushing a system that detects file swapping on college campuses; a struggle over successor DVD formats among manufacturers looms as advancements continue; the MIT scientist credited with inventing the World Wide Web, Tim Berners-Lee, has been awarded the first Millennium Technology Prize.
Browse iTunes via the Web
Downhill Battle notes that Jason Rohrer, programmer of the secure filesharing system MUTE and the Downhill Battle Peer-to-Peer Legal Defense Fund has created a script that can search the iTunes Music Store via the Web: "Right now this is a cute tool, but it has the potential to become a powerful weapon to fight the major record label monopoly. Here are some ways to make iTMS-4-ALL both more entertaining and more useful." The website notes that that users could "dress the interface up" with prettier CSS tags, add more functions to browse by artist, genre, etc. using the iTunes XML, extract more "copyright" info from the XML, adding song previews to file sharing clients, or to develop a more visually-oriented interface for p2p systems.
Uwerkz today announced DataWerkz 1.0, a database application for Mac OS X. DataWerkz offers FileMaker style database access for MySQL and PostgreSQL and says that future compatibility with other databases is planned for future releases. It also features powerful import facilty, which allows the import/export of many different formats including Microsoft Excel files. The software allows the creation, editing and access of databases, publishing of results as PDF, RTF and E-Mail. DataWerkz offers a form builder as well, allowing users to create their own forms for easier entry and access of data. It is $100.
London Apple Store
Apple is now hiring for Europe's first Apple Retail Store, set to open in London in Autumn 2004: "The Apple Store offers a unique opportunity to share your passion for Apple products and technology with customers and Mac enthusiasts alike. If you're looking for a rewarding environment in which to build your career using your special skills and talents, and if working at Apple has always been your dream job, you might just be one of the passionate individuals we're looking for." Apple is recruiting for Mac Genius, Mac Specialist, Inventory Specialist, and other management positions, according to its Web page.
iTunes review at 1 year
As the one-year anniversary of the iTunes Music Store approaches, The Washington Post says that restrictions and pricing remain as key turnoffs, but that it stays ahead of offerings from Roxio, RealNetworks and Wal-Mart: "But the iTunes Music Store's success hides a couple of unsettling trends. One is pricing -- a lot of albums now exceed the store's customary $9.99 price, and a few even exceed their cost as CDs in a store. The other is compatibility -- though a variety of consumer-electronics devices could be made compatible with iTunes music files, the only one Apple permits is its own iPod digital-music player."
Sonicfire Pro 3.2
SmartSound today released Sonicfire Pro 3.2, the latest version of the company's flagship product for adding music sountracks to video projects. Sonicfire Pro 3.2 includes advanced integration with both Macromedia Flash and with Avid professional video editing products. The applicationis also available for download for the first time. The $100 Digital Creator's Edition features Sonicfire Pro 3.2 and a limited number of music selections. The standard edition (boxed) includes about 40 tracks of music and is available for $300.
StorNext supports Xsan
ADIC today announced that its StorNext Management Suite (SNMS) data management software offers full interoperability with Apple's new Xsan file system. It lets end users add Mac-based server and storage resources to the list of platforms that can transparently share data over a SAN, allowing the application of ADIC's policy-based data management functions to both to Mac environments and to heterogeneous environments that include Xsan-based hosts. ADIC's policy-based data management offers reduced costs and administrative overhead by automating the management and protection of data.
MadeToPrint for InDesign
callas software has released MadeToPrint for Adobe InDesign CS 1.0, a plug-In for streamlining print output and sophisticated file conversion from within Adobe InDesign CS. It supports single page PostScript and PDF output; flexible naming scheme for EPS, PDF and PostScript files; dynamic job slug ("Infobar") at the top of each page; combines several output jobs (any mix of PostScript, PDF and EPS output) into one MadeToPrint print setting and has a PostScript expert feature for customizable PostScript output. It runs on Mac OS 9/X and is available for $350.
VectorWorks 11 ships
Nemetschek North America has released VectorWorks 11, updating its entire line of products: VectorWorks, ARCHITECT, LANDMARK, SPOTLIGHT, MECHANICAL, and RenderWorks 11 offer enhanced tools and technology that make production drafting more efficient and modeling easier. Version 11 also includes new page layout capabilities, new and faster rendering modes with softer, hand-sketched effects, new image compression technology, and support for QuickTime VR, AutoCAD 2004, and ACIS solids.
Media 2Gb FC disk arrays
Medéa today began shipping its new fail-safe, 2-Gbit fibre channel disk arrays. VideoRaid FCR2, starting at $3,700, is a compact 5-drive desktop disk array with a 2-Gbit FC interface with storages capacities up to 1TB and transfer speeds of 95MB/sec. It supports the real-time playback of up to five streams of SD and single stream playback of 10-bit, 1080/24p HD footage. VideoRaid FCR2X ($7,000) is a 10-drive, 3U rack-mountable disk array with a dual-channel 2-Gbit FC interfaces, offering storage capacities up to 2TB and transfer rates of up to 185MB/sec; it supports playback of up to seven real-time SD streams and a single stream of 10-bit, 1080/60i.
BBC adds FCP to Colledia
BBC Technology has integrated Apple's Final Cut Pro HD editing software into its production workflow solution, Colledia. The first implementation of Colledia with Final Cut Pro HD will be at the BBC for a selection of next generation documentary production (booth #SU8469 at NAB). Colledia integrates tools and components that previously worked as standalone devices. BBC says the integration of Final Cut Pro HD will provide enhanced editing capabilities in production environments where there is a need for editing, compositing, graphics and effects for both standard and high definition (HD) programming.
Sony\'s digital music plans
Details of Sony's upcoming music store and digital player releases are revealed in a New York Times article today. Sony's Connect music site, set to launch in a few weeks, will offer 500,000 songs for 99 cents a piece, like iTunes, but will employs Sony's own format, which will be compatible with a myriad of Sony devices. The company has also entered into promotional partnerships with McDonald's where every Big Mac purchase will include a free download, and with United Airlines, which will allow customers to redeem miles for songs. On the hardware front, Sony is betting that customers will appreciate its various offerings, slated to cost from $60 to $300. "You can't believe it's about just one brick that people will carry," a Sony executive says, referring to the iPod.
New AirPort Base Station
Apple quietly rolled out a new AirPort Extreme Base Station model today, featuring Power over Ethernet and UL 2043 certification. Power over Ethernet is based on the IEEE 802.3af standard and allows the base station to both receive data and power from an ethernet cable, greatly simplifying the implementation of base stations in remote areas. Additionally, the new base station can be deployed in air-handling spaces, such as above ceiling tiles, as it conforms with the UL 2043 safety standard from the Underwriters Laboratories. The Base Station ships with the new AirPort Management Tools 1.0--AirPort Client Monitor and AirPort Management Utility, two applications designed to ease campus-wide wireless management. It is available from the Apple Store for $250 with an estimated ship date of 1-3 days.
\"Apple build quality poor\"
The Inquirer's Perry Longinotti takes a stab at Apple's quality control issues, lamenting that while Apple compares its products with the likes of premium brands in other industries, it underdelivers on quality with often bug-riddled first generation systems (PowerBook 15" white spots and Power Mac G5 power issues) and sometimes larger issues (iBook logic boards). "Apple's reaction to its customer complaints about defective product seems to relate directly to the number of major News sites carrying the story," Longinotti remarks. On a somewhat related note, Apple's recent financial performance, which came in ahead of expectations, was partly attributed to a reduction in warranty claims.
Interarchy 7.1 ($40) is the newest version of the popular FTP, SFTP, and FTP/SSH client. The update encompasses numerous minor changes and refinements, including Japanese, French, Swedish translations; Save Upload Droplets; and several small interface changes. [3.7MB]
LIveDictionary 1.0 ($25) is a Safari extension that allows users to receive definitions of words on Web pages simply by placing their cursor over that particular word. Once installed, LiveDictionary functions as a transparent part of Safari. [10.4MB]
PowerQuote 10.15 ($2000) printing estimating and management software is now availalbe for Mac OS X. Version 10.15 also adds increased flexibility for calculating bindery charges, more useful and accurate user-definable bindery charges, better handling of smaller quantity jobs, and several small refinements to improve ease of use. [form]
Print It! 1.0 ($25) for Mac OS X allows users to instantly select and print anything displayed on the monitor. The system-wide keyboard shortcut instantly brings up Print It!'s contextual menu with access to advanced features, including time-stamps,notes, multiple non-contigous selections, etc. It runs on Mac OS X 10.2 or later. [1.3MB]
CourseForum 3.5 and ProjectForum 3.5 are updates to the professional and easy-to-use web software for business and educational collaboration. Version 3.5 introduces Campus licensing (CourseForum: $500 for 250 users) and Enterprise licensing (ProjectForum: $1000 for 150 users), licenses are based on the number of registered users. Other licenses start at $90. [CF, PF]
Myster PR8 (free) is the latest release to the cross-platform, open-source, Java-based file sharing utility. It brings significant performance increases (>25%), new UDP client and server sections, refined and reorganized Search window controls, better control over download spots, new tab graphics in the Server Stats window, and other changes. [1.0MB]
URandomLib 2.0 (freeware) is a pseudo-random-number generator library optimized specifically for Macs based on the well-known Ultra PRNG: "URandomLib is much more random than other PRNGs in two additional ways: First, all bits of the variates it returns are random, not just the MSBs.... Second, the functions returning U(0, 1) and U(-1, 1) retain full float precision regardless of the position of the decimal point."
AJA Video Systems Kona 2
AJA Video Systems today announced Kona 2 at NAB, its new dual rate HD/SD 133 MHz PCI-X capture card that supports uncompressed 10 bit SDI, HD-SDI, and dual link 4:4:4 HD at both 10 and 12 bits. Kona 2 also features 8 channel AES audio, HD/SD component analog video output, and Broadcast Quality HD/SD hardware up/down-conversion. Kona 2 is priced at $2,500; an optional $300 K Box rack mountable 1RU enclosure that supports all of Kona 2's I/O connectors is also available. Both products are set to ship in June. Additionally, the company released two free software upgrades for its Io Family of products: RGB V-out support for popular compositing and graphics applications, and the Io Control Panel. Both will be available in May.
AirPort 3.4 software
Apple today released AirPort 3.4 software, which "offers improved antenna output control, enhanced logging from your base station which is compatible with syslog, and performance improvements for WPA security implementations. It is available via the web and via the Mac OS X software update for Mac OS X 10.3 only. Apple also released AirPort Management Tools 1.0, including AirPort Mangement Utility and AirPort Client Monitor, which it says "provide powerful tools for planning, setting up, fine-tuning, and managing larger, enterprise-class wireless networks."
Apple updates iBook, PBG4
As anticipated last week, Apple today updated its line of iBook G4 and PowerBook G4 systems. The iBook G4 line now supports a maximum of 1.25GB PC2100 DDR SDRAM, while all PowerBook G4 systems now ship with built-in AirPort Extreme. iBook graphics are powered by an ATI Radeon Mobility 9200 with 32MB of DDR SDRAM, while PowerBooks are driven by either an NVidia GeForce FX Go5200 with 64MB of DDR SDRAM (12.1" models) or an ATI Radeon Mobility 9700 with 64MB of DDR SDRAM, configurable up to 128MB (15" and 17" models). Both feature upgraded optical drives as well. System specifications follow:
Conceal scratch remover
Conceal is a new scratch removing kit for aluminum PowerBook G4 and Power Mac G5 systems. Designed by the creators of TiPaint, Conceal is formulated to match the aluminum finish of both systems as well as the iSight digital camera. Conceal sells for $20.
Apple at NAB 2004
Apple yesterday unveiled Final Cut Pro HD, the latest version of Apple's Emmy award-winning editing software as well as its new Motion application for motion graphics, Shake 3.5 with shape-based morphing and warping tools, and DVD Studio Pro 3 with new Alpha Transitions. Apple also introduced Xsan, a high-performance, enterprise-class SAN file system, partnered with Panasonic to bring HD over FireWire, and jointly developed a new HD editing system with Matsushita. Apple also released updates to LiveType 1.2, Cinema Tools 2.2, and Compressor 1.2.
iTMS: DRM vs. taxation
The European version Apple's iTunes Music Store has been delayed while Europe decides if it wants to go for DRM or go for a taxation model: "negotiations with national royalty agencies are taking longer than expected, said the London-based European Digital Media Association, which represents companies that offer music online," according to The International Herald Tribune: "These national royalty collections agencies have long levied a copyright fee on old-style technology recording devices [and] want to catch up by extending the levy to new digital devices like MP3 players and personal computers, even though in some cases consumers are already paying a fee through DRM devices."
Apple HD editing system
Apple and Matsushita have jointly developed an editing system for high-definition TV broadcasts: "Apple has developed editing software that can perform on a single personal computer such tasks as processing images and adding subtitles, based on Matsushita data compression and VCR control technologies, among others. Apple's video-editing software and PCs will be compatible with a VCR that Matsushita will release next month. The price of the package, comprising the VCR, PC and editing software, will be a little less than 4 mln yen...Matsushita and Apple are also currently developing a high-definition TV editing system, due to be released next year, that records onto SD Cards instead of videotape."
ATTO today announced Dantz has qualified ATTO's FibreBridge Fibre Channel-to-SCSI Bridge line to be interoperable with their Retrospect 6.0, offering Mac users a qualified solution for backing up Fibre Channel-based storage devices to legacy or SCSI-based storage devices. ATTO offers a wide selection of bridges, ranging from an economical Fibre Channel-to-SCSI Bridge with one Fibre Channel port and one SCSI port, to a more advanced bridge with three Fibre Channel ports and four SCSI ports. ATTO also released updated Mac OS X Panther drivers for its ExpressPCI Ultra320 and Ultra3 SCSI host adapters as well as an updated version of the ATTO Configuration Tool.
Adobe After Effects 6.5
Adobe today announced Adobe After Effects 6.5, a new version of its motion graphics and visual effects software. Version 6.5 offers Animation Presets, an advanced clone tool, and tighter integration with the other Adobe video products as well as one-click tools (Auto Color, Auto Levels, Auto Contrast, and Shadow/Highlight) and Synthetic's Color Finesse, a professional 32-bit floating point color correction system. After Effects 6.5 Professional also adds three grain management tools, brings improved motion tracking, and adds new scripting support. Both Standard ($600) and Professional ($1000) are due in the second quarter of 2004. Upgrades are $100.
Alias announces Maya 6
Alias today announced the next version of its 3D animation and special effects software: Maya 6, which features significant advances in character creation and enhanced character animation functions. Version 6, now a Mach-O application, offers an innovative new Maya Hair toolset featuring a dynamic curve simulation engine; improvements to add digital clothing to characters and to animate creatures with realistic fur; an improved Smooth Proxy tool; performance improvements of up to 50%; better integration with Adobe Photoshop; and integrated web browser. Maya 6 will be available for download on April 26th.
Weekend tech news: More than half of U.S. Internet users now surf the Web over a high-speed connection as home users signed up in large numbers for fast service in the past year; Internet users have learned to keep an eye out for viruses, worms and "spam" e-mail, but sometimes neglect to watch for 'spyware;' Google Thursday said it was launching a local advertising service that aims to help companies target nearby customers.
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