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Apple security advistories
Security analysts are criticizing Apple for its security advisories, saying that the company is severely downplaying the seriousness: "Five vulnerabilities released Monday affect various components of the Mac OS X operating system. The greatest threat is a buffer overflow in the Apple file-sharing system that could allow a remote attacker to take over control of the system. But the company described it as a correction 'to improve the handling of long passwords.'... Most security companies normally classify a remotely exploitable software flaw as a 'critical' vulnerability."
Cay iTunes stay atop?
The runaway success of the iPod poses a "happy problem" for Apple--one that "the computer maker has not had in years: how to remain the market favorite, not just the favorite underdog....But now Apple faces a renewed push by Microsoft, which wants to shape the digital standard for music on the Internet, raising the risk that Apple could again fail to hold early gains in a fast-growing market, analysts said. 'The ultimate risk is that they do get marginalized, just like they did in the PC area,' said [analyst] Phil Leigh...But Leigh and other analysts said that if Apple falls behind in innovation -- one of its strongest suits -- or loses market share to cheaper MP3 players or fails to carve out a niche in digital music players for automobiles, its early lead in digital music could be imperiled."
MSN Messenger 4.0 for OS X
Microsoft today posted MSN Messenger 4.0 for the Mac, which it says "makes it easy to take advantage of the full power of instant messaging. By using MSN Messenger, you can see when your friends, family, and coworkers are online and then communicate with them instantly. MSN Messenger can also notify you when new messages arrive in your MSN Hotmail« Inbox, if you have a Hotmail account, and provide the latest news and headlines from MSN." The freeware runs on Mac OS X 10.2.8 or later.
Independent Mac developers
DrunkenBlog has published a commentary on the state of independent development of Mac software. "As far as big, high-quality apps... there just aren't many, and those that are being released are from the usual suspects. Nothing much new. Isn't Cocoa a developer nirvana, and doesn't the 'power of Cocoa' allow one guy to do the work of 5?" The article puts some blame on Apple: "Apple historically hasn't had a good relationship with developers, and while I'd have to do more checking than its worth, I wouldn't be surprised if Apple has had the most cantankerous developer relation of any OS vender evar."
Harpoon for OS X
CEI has added support for the Mac OS X platform to Harpoon, the extreme meshing program that the company launched in March 2003. Harpoon turns a CAD file into a finished mesh with three clicks of a mouse. Proprietary meshing algorithms enable the software to process up to two million cells per minute on standard hardware. CEI officially supports the Panther (10.3) version of Mac OS X, which includes support from Apple for X11 graphics.
Tech: phone outsells cable
Afternoon tech news: For the first time, U.S. local telephone companies have sold more high-speed Internet connections than cable providers, a milestone that could intensify competition and lower prices; PC Magazine takes a look at the latest 802.11 "g" and "a/g" routers for the home and small office; Research firm Current Analysis has said that AMD outpaced Intel in desktop CPUs sales for the week ending April 24.
Sony, CNET in online music
Sony today launched its Connect online music service whose songs will play only on Sony products, including Sony's MiniDisc, MemoryStick devices, and its forthcoming Hi-MD disc derivative due this summer (1GB disc for $7; no backwards compatibility); however, "Internet analysts are scratching their heads, especially because the digital download service -- called Connect -- is geared toward supporting Sony's MiniDisc, a 13-year-old format that has never hit big." Meanwhile, CNET Networks' will unveil an online digital music guide under the established brand name of MP3.com to help users navigate the growing list of Web-based music services like iTunes, MusicMatch and Rhapsody with differing prices and content.
PianistEnvy 2.0 ($5) features a more intuitive octave slider, better resemblance to real-life piano keys, and revamped recording functions as well as performance enhancements and bug fixes. It offers access to 120+ crystal-clear instruments built-into Apple's QuickTime and allows each note to manipulated through the Octave, Pressure and Duration controls. [Classic, OSX]
Tom's Graphing Calculator 1.0 (freeware) is an open-source 2D/3D graphing calculator program for Mac OS X, supporting plotting of explicit curves, surfaces and vector fields, including the ability to draw stereo projections of 3D objects (for those red/blue glasses). [910KB]
xTime Project 2.0 Preview 1 ($80) updates the project management application for Mac OS X that integrates with iCal and AddressBook. It is up to 600% faster and has a new interface, more options for actions (color-coding, grouping), improved resource management (groups, subgroups, etc.), more graphics options, and more. [form]
wKiosk 3.5 (starting at $100) is the latest version of the fullscreen web browser for internet or intranet kiosks in public spaces. It features a new preferences panel with realtime application of settings, better print functions, a new interface, more administrator options, and other bug fixes. [2.5MB]
Thunderbird 0.6 (free) is a new release of Mozilla.org's email/newsreader; it supports POP/IMAP, HTML-based mail, multiple accounts, etc. It adds new junk mail controls, a pin stripe theme, Dock-based notification of mail, improved mail filters, a new brand identity (complete with a new logo), secure password authentication, and multiple identities per mail account. [10.6MB]
MicroMat's Drive 10 1.1.5 updater offers global updates to the application, and updates for full Mac OS 10.3.x compatibility as well as updates to the Volume Structure validation and repair routines and to the Optimization and Rebuild Volume Structure routines. [3.4MB]
.Mac support changes
Apple this week changed its .Mac technical support from a forum-based system to an email-based system, discouraging discussion and peer comments/help on user experiences/problems with the paid services from Apple, according to Macworld UK. According to a note from the company, Apple said that all .Mac support would be handled by email and promised that all outstanding support requests will be resolved: "To get help, members must visit an index page that guides them to the appropriate support area for their problem, Mail or Homepage, for example. On those pages, users will find FAQs and links to more information. They will also find new email forms to use if the answer isn't there."
UTP5 Repeaters for FW
FireWire Depot today introduced new UTP5 Repeaters, which allow users to extend FireWire signals over standard CAT5 Ethernet cables. The solution provides a single transceiver to drive IEEE Std 1394b signaling up to 100 meters of over an unshielded twisted pair Category 5 (UTP5 or CAT5) Cable at 100 Megabits per Second. Three models are available:> FireWire-to-two UTP5 Repeater (T-Type or Corner Type) for $75 and a FireWire- to-one UTP5 Repeater for $65.
WAM! has released a new version of DOT-POD 1.0b10, which offers the ability to instantly share items on your iPod with any computer without any knowledge of servers, HTML, audio streaming, etc. It uses a builtin webserver with start/stop, username/password, and (optional) custom HTML templates, functions to allow anyone to easily and conveniently share music on/from your iPod. DOT-TUNES 1.0b10 allows users to share iTunes tracks with the world via any web browser; it is now compatible with iTunes 4.5. Finally, DOT-PHOTOS 1.0b10 allows you to publish your iPhoto albums or any other folder of images on your computer. The software solutions run on Mac OS X only.
Vara Wirecast for Mac OS X
Vara Software today introduced Wirecast for Macintosh, a powerful yet simple broadcasting software package built for the professional webcaster. It offers support for multiple webcams (including iSight), over 20 built-in professional broadcast quality titles themes, a simple interface, video stamping and video effects, Keynote integration, multiple layers, multiple broadcast support, broadcast archiving, and AppleScript support. It leverages Quartz Extreme and the GPU, resulting in "very little" CPU usage, is optimized for multiple processors, and supports QuickTime and ISO MPEG-4 streaming using the QuickTime/Darwin Streaming Server. It is available for $600.
KanguruMicro MP3 Pro
Kanguru today unveiled the KanguruMicro MP3 Pro, a portable USB Flash Drive, a digital voice recorder and MP3/WMA player rolled into a "thumb-sized package" weighing only 30 grams and measuring only 3 inches. It includes a set of mini headphones, one AAA battery, both voice recording and data storage functions, a back-light LCD display, and a 5 mode equalizer (Pop, Rock, Jazz, Classic or Normal). The KanguruMicro MP3 Pro is available in four capacities (64MB, 128MB, 256MB and 512MB) with pricing starting at $75.
Maine iBook program
Maine's laptop computer program will not be expanded into high schools this fall as Governor John Baldacci had hoped, according to the Associated Press: "But the administration apparently intends to spend $8 million to put the wireless infrastructure in place in hopes of winning approval in the next legislative session. To move forward, Education Commissioner Susan Gendron needed legislative approval to continue negotiations aimed at expanding Maine's first-in-the-nation program from middle schools into high schools."
Group Logic today released MassTransit 4.5, a free upgrade to the company's flagship file transfer solution that boasts improvements to the software's automated workflow capabilities, as well as added job-ticketing and administrative features that streamline the management of digital file transfer workflows. Version 4.5 features custom HTML-based job tickets, improved server management, FTP drop boxes (and black listing), multi-hop file forwarding through multiple servers, and other enhancements. MassTransit offers advanced business-to-business transfer of digital files using a server-based software architecture without any additional license or usage fees.
iRiver flash MP3 players
iRiver today unveiled its iFP-700 and iFP-800 series flash-memory music players. The new flash-based music players combine a sleek, sport-ready design with advanced features such as USB 2.0, an integrated voice recorder, programmable FM recorder, up to 1GB of internal memory, and the ability to record MP3s on-the-fly from any source.The new line also comes with accessories for an "active lifestyle," including a sport armband, neck strap, carrying case and line-in encoding cable. In addition to playing MP3, OGG, ASF, WMA and WMA-DRM music files the iFP-700 and iFP-800 series are compatible with online music services that use Windows Media DRM technology. Pricing starts at $130 for the 128MB version.
\"Tiger\" at WWDC keynote
Apple today announced that Steve Jobs will kick off its Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) with a keynote on Monday, June 28, 2004, beginning at 10:00 am at San Francisco's Moscone West. Apple said the keynote will include a preview of "Tiger," the next major release of Mac OS X.
Alias ships Maya 6
Alias today announced that the Maya Complete 6 is now shipping. Maya 6 delivers advances in character creation and animation capabilities, including re-architected Trax non-linear animation, new motion retargeting and redirection, and a new Maya Hair toolset. Version 6 also offers Maya Cloth and Maya Fur enhancements, significant performance improvements, better integration with Photoshop, a built-in browsr, support for new file formats (DDS, PNG, DWG, IGES, etc.), and more. Maya Complete ($2000) includes modeling, rendering, animation, dynamics, Maya Artisan, Maya Paint Effects, mental ray for Maya and Maya Embedded Language. Upgrades are $900.
USB Flash Drives Plus Ink
Peripheral Enhancements today launched a new line of USB Flash Drives Plus Ink Pen as part of its DiskGO! consumer product line. The USB Flash Drive Plus Ink Pen utilizes a USB 2.0 interface to transfer data conveniently from one location to another. The flash drive is powered through the USB port and includes a USB extension cable and is encased by a sleek brushed aluminum barrel ink pen that has a twist off cap. The ink pen offers a cushioned grip for comfort and includes one free replacement ink cartridge. It is available in 32MB ($20 after rebate), 128MB ($50 after rebate) and 256MB capacities ($70 after rebate).
KnowledgeTank 1.1 ($30) is an information management software that tracks URLs, files, projects, recipies, books, DVDs, CDs, sourcecode, etc. and can also be used as a Journal. It supports categories, topics, templates, dozens of media formats, and other advanced organization features. Version 1.1 adds better support for third-party applications such as MS Word, TextEdit, and RealOne Player. [205KB]
Synchronize Pro 3.4 ($100 for first year) updates Qdea's file synchronization and backup utility with an improved Files To Copy window (and better display controls), the ability to view the path to any existing file/folder, new criteria for including/excluding specific files (including partial names), and the ability to automatically prune old archived files by age. [form]
OmniWeb 5.0b6 ($30) brings a new demo mode; adds Spring-loaded behavior to bookmarks windows, browser windows, and the bookmarks toolbar icon; includes a preview of a new faster text rendering engine; can open all bookmarks as tabs; has improvements to page caching; and more. [4.9MB]
FileMatic 1.0 ($25) automates tedious file tasks with nine Operations, including AppleScript Runner, Archiver, Disc Burner, Finder Operations, Mailer, Permissions, Rename, Split And Join, and Type Creator. Users also can add third-party Operations using the graphical script builder or leverage the FileMatic SDK (due in early June) for creating new functionality.
xBack 3.1 ($10) allows you replace your desktop with a screen saver or xPak, allowing users to "bring your desktop to life." Users can start/stop the desktop screen saver, configure screen saver preferences from the menu bar, etc. It now doesn't hide the desktop screen saver when using ExposÚ. [675KB]
iTunesSaver 2.3 (donationware) is a basic screensaver that displays the artwork (if available) and track information of the current iTunes track. It supports a range of features, such as fixed positioning, scalable artwork, and automatic starting of iTunes. Version 2.3 removes some debug messages and offers smoother text movement. [92KB]
iWatermark 1.2 ($20) updates Script Software's tool for watermarking artwork, digital photos and other images; it can also create thumbnails. Version 1.2 supports different text styles (shadow, outline, normal), can repeat the watermark across the image, adds a high quality JPEG and PICT export options, and other interface enhancements. [1.9MB]
You Control 1.2 ($70) adds a new Quick Start menu to assist first time users create menus. Version 1.2 of the custom menu utility also adds updated Weather, News Reader, and Stocks modules with automatic wake-from-sleep checking, an updated File System Module, hot key support to User Switching, and an improved iTunes module. [3.3MB]
InstallShield today announced InstallShield X, the company's new flagship installation authoring solution for targeting virtually any platform (including Mac OS X) and device. InstallShield X now offers updating and user messaging services for a simplified approach to managing patches and fixes and other aspects of the software lifecycle as well as the ability to configure/run SQL scripts or deploy web services, integrate with J2EE applications, and better Mobile device support. Prices start at $600 for upgrades and $1,200 for the full version.
Apple iPod/Tunes TV ad
Apple has released a QuickTime version of its iPod/iTunes TV ad filmed in New York City, which features a New Yorker listening to an iPod walking through the busy streets of New York city wearing the trademark white earbud earphones--walking past a wall of animated iPod posters. The ad began airing this week in US and is available from the Apple website, after a QuickTime version of the TV spot was posted earlier in the day on several Mac websites (here and here). [updated; first posted 5/3/04]
Rumpus 3.5 ftp server
Maxum Development has released Rumpus 3.5, an update to its FTP server for Mac OS and Mac OS X. Version 3.5 adds new setup assistants which provide simplified configuration of the Rumpus Web File Manager and FTP servers running on private networks. It also includes enhanced upload notices, better customization of file uploads, security enhancements, internal improvements, and other bug fixes. It is a free and available as a $80 upgrade ($120 Pro upgrade). The standard version ($250) supports up to 32 simultaneous users & accounts, while the Pro ($400) supports up to 256.
PlayFair coming back?
The PlayFair free software project is likely to come online again soon, despite efforts by Apple Computer Inc. to close it down, according to Infoworld; a new improved version to be hosted outside the US is expected: "Apple last month shut down last the free software project, which lets tool users play music from the Apple iTunes Music Store on hardware not authorized by Apple, such as GNU/Linux PC, provided an authorized key is available. Sarovar, a free software development community site based in India said it would stop hosting the PlayFair project after site sponsors received a legal notice from Apple's attorneys alleging infringement of copyright."
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