Apple's iTunes and other music services may soon be embroiled in a controversy over user CD burning rights as their "short-term" agreements with record labels expire and the recording industry tests new technology that would prevent consumers from making copies of CD "burns," according to CNET News.com: "Tools under review by the major labels would limit the number of backups that could be made from ordinary compact discs and prevent copied, or 'burned,' versions from being used to create further copies....Digital download services say they aren't yet feeling pressure to add the 'secure burning' feature, however. Some said the labels had spent more time discussing the issue as much as six months ago but that it hadn't been a priority recently."
PC World has named Apple's iTunes for Windows "Software Newcomer of the Year," while Mac OS X 10.3 was credited as the top operating systems released in the last year. In its commentary, the magazine says, "Apple makes Windows apps about as often as Microsoft ships bug-free products, and if iTunes for Windows is any indication, that's a crying shame." The 2004 Product of the Year was the AMD Athlon 64 FX processor series and IBM ThinkPad Series was named as the first recipient of the "Hall of Fame" category, which was created to recognize products that have consistently shown "World Class" qualities year after year.
S-Media's iPod knockoff, the CoCoPod, sells for the same price as the 20GB iPod, but offers more functionality: "Weighing in at 158g (including the built-in, rechargeable Lithium-ion battery) and measuring 11.1 x 6.9 x 2.2cm, the unit is a comfortable pocket companion for day-to-day use. It doesnít match the build quality of the iPod, and navigating with the roll-and-click type scroll wheel isnít anywhere near as elegant as the iPodís circular touchpad, but it works well. Support is provided for MP3, WMA and WAV files, as well as the ability to record on-the-fly and from the FM receiver in the MP3 format. The unit also includes an SD/MMC reader, a built-in microphone for voice notes, and a line-in connection for recording from sources such as a stereo system or mixing deck," according to APC Magazine.
Microsoft has been granted a patent for double clicking and for different functions based on the time a user presses a (mouse) button, according to The Sydney Morning Herald. US Patent No. 6,727,830, granted on April 27, 2004, is being protested by the New York-based Public Patent Foundation, as Microsoft last year said said "it would be seeking to improve earnings from technology which it claims it invented and would be using its patent portfolio to do so."
Seattle Weekly columnist Jeff Reifman says that addiction to Windows revenue, mediocre products, and missed that opportunities could doom Microsoft: "Over the past year, my frustration with Windows grew, as did my envy of Appleís cool new products. Finally, last month I went out and bought an G5 [with Mac OS X]. It had been years since I'd used a Macintosh. Until recently, I dismissed those who did as impractical, elitist hipsters, and I mocked the Mac 'switch' ads on TV. But in the first five minutes on my new Mac, I was surfing the Internet, sending e-mail, and ripping a CD. OS X has been a breath of badly needed fresh air after Windows."
Paraglyph Press announced today that it has published "Degunking Your Mac" ($25). Written by bestselling author and Mac expert Joli Ballew, "Degunking Your Mac" shows Mac users where operational slow-downs happen and why. It also covers all the known 'glitches' in Apple's Panther operating system, OS X 10.3.3, as well as prior versions going back to OS 9. "Even though many long-time Mac aficionados might not realize their computers can get gunked up, all Macs slow down after months or years of use simply because of all of the gunk that builds up--unused applications, bloated fonts, unread emails, and so on."
Evening tech news: Microsoft released the first test version of its new Windows Media Player software Wednesday, marking a significant upgrade aimed squarely at the expanding portable device market; U.S. mobile phone company Clearwire said Wednesday it was poised to launch a wireless broadband Internet service in the United States and several other countries; Comcast, the largest U.S. cable television operator, on Wednesday said it will offer subscribers to its high-speed data service a new bundle of on-demand video games.
Runtime Revolution has announced the availability of the first two chapters of volume II in Dan Shafer's book and e-book series "Revolution: Software at the Speed of Thought". The e-book edition of the chapters are available immediately with the printed version to follow on completion of volume II. The new chapters are available for $5 each in electronic format. Additionally, the Autumn European Revolution Conference was announced today. It will be held November 14-16 in Malta, and is run by Techie Tours. Revolution is a multi-platform software development tool that enables developers to easily create applications for Mac OS X, classic Mac OS, Windows, Linux, and more.
Pixar Animation Studios today announced a new release of its RenderMan (PRMan) 3D rendering software used for film and video production. Release 12, now in beta, offers "3D Baking", improved volume rendering, reduced memory usage, geometry improvements, shading language improvements, arbritrary output variables, "Rif" filters, OpenEXR support, reduction of Ray Tracing Bias, and improved control over the camera and strategies used for dicing. The final release is expected in the third quarter of 2004.
Eastman Kodak has introduced its Digital GEM Airbrush Professional Plugin for Photoshop-compatible applications. It "gives users a quick and powerful way of smoothing skin and other surfaces without blurring or affecting details." Kodak's plug-in enables users to automatically achieve meticulous airbrush and retouching effects without tedious, time-consuming masking and manual softening. A free trial version (creating watermark-based images) is now available; registration ($100) removes the watermark.
Aspyr today announced that Space Colony has gone "gold" and will begin shipping June 14: "Imagine The Sims are sent to space, but theyíre dysfunctional!...Save the Colony! Your staff are brawling, the Harvester Robot is chain sawing its way through the oxygen supply and small furry aliens have taken over the disco. This is home!" The $30 title runs on Mac OS X 10.2.8 (or later) and features 20 unique personalities and over 100 buildings. It will be in stores nationwide by June 18.
PhoneDirector 1.0 ($30) is a complete solution for Nokia 6230 mobile phone with support for Phonebook, SMS, Gallery, Calendar and Wap management. Users can edit, upload, delete, backup, and export phone book numbers, download/upload multimedia items (pictures, sounds, videos), add/edit calendar entries, upload Java applications, and more. [2.9MB] Installer VISE 8.4 updates MindVision's product for creating full-featured installers for both Classic Mac OS and Mac OS X. It offers improved bundle detection and display, advanced drive detection, localization enhancements, additional Dock item support, better error reporting and prevention, etc. [23MB] MacTheRipper 2.0 (free) is a free "DVD ripper" (extractor) for Mac OS X that uses the open-sourced GPL libdvdread and libdvdcss libraries. It removes CSS encryption, Macrovision protection, and sets the disc's region code to '0' for region-free by default, and is capable of removing RCE region protection as well, making an unrestricted copy of any DVD movie you own. [861KB] Aqua Data Studio 3.7 ($90) provides enterprise and database administration features for all major relational databases. Users can now visually create and alter database schema objects and also can create explain plans and generate diagrams to quickly understand and analyze the operations of any query to optimize speed and performance. [13MB] PhotoKit-EL 1.0 ($40) toolkit for Photoshop Elements 2.0 offers accurate digital replications of traditional darkroom effects such as tone adjustment, color balance adjustment, and conversion to grayscale. It also offers effects such as sharpening to improve detail and graduated tone adjustments to improve specific areas in an image. Studycard Studio 2.2 is a study aid application that can create/print multimedia, multilingual flashcards, quizzes, picture/sound identification, etc. It offers automatic daily scheduling based on the Leitner cardfile system, allows users/educators to track progress over time, and more. The lite version is free, while a site-license is $250. Upgrades are $30. [3.5MB] Jonís Phone Tool 1.3 ($12) uses your Macís modem or speakers to dial any touchtone phone. Users can enter a 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 search various websites and/or select a number in any application. [1.9MB]
Boris FX today announced that Continuum Complete 3 is now shipping. Continuum Complete 3 is a suite of native plug-in filters and transitions designed for Adobe After Effects, Final Cut Pro and Boris Red systems. Continuum allows users create high-end visual effects with over 50 new powerful filters. Other new features include an integrated PixelChooser, the ability to load/save presets for custom effects, integrated motion tracking, Z-space fitlers for 3D compositing, grain matching and grain removal technology, auto-animating 3D and 3D particle steps, OpenGL-based generators, new film effects, 8- and 16-bit color image processing, and more. Upgrades are $250, while the full version is $800.
Intelli Innovations today unveiled IntelliScanner Cordless Collector, a new Bluetooth-enabled wireless device enables users to automatically organize books, movies, games, music, etc. Cordless Collector features an innovative 250 count store-and-forward memory system, allowing users to use the device beyond the traditional Bluetooth wireless range. The package also includes Collection companion software for Mac OS X 10.3, offering features such as autofill (from Internet data sources) as well sharing items (checkout system, personal ratings, location tracking, HTML export, email notification of availability, etc.). The Bluetooth scanner package is $300, while the original USB-based version is $200.
Trivantis has announced a Mac OS X-compatible version of its learning management system (LMS) for Mac OS X: CourseMill 3.5 can deliver and manage e-learning initiatives online using a centralized environment for content, such as courses, lessons, assessments, quizzes, and surveys (including content that meets SCORM 1.3 e-learning standards). It also offers a customizable GUI, custom student data fields, unlimited reporting, automated self- and bulk-registration, real-time chat, forum-based discussions, an administration toolkit, and multiple levels of security. Pricing starts at $30,000; it supports an unlimited number of courses and students.
Strata today announced that it is shipping Strata 3D CX, a major upgrade to its design, illustration, and animation. It offers integration with Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator, including "live-links" to Photoshop files/layers, Photoshop-compatible transparency export, and native Illustrator CS, PDF and EPS file support. Strata 3D CX also adds powerful new modeling tools with Polysplines and Meld, support for HDRI (High Dynamic Range Images), and an improved Raydiosity renderer. The $700 will be bundled for a limited time (through end of July 2004) with Strata 3D Vector, which allows the user to output Flash- and Illustrator-based line and region vector art versions of their 3D scenes. Version upgrades are $170, while competitive upgrades are $450.
Optibase today announced that it has completed the purchase of substantially all of the assets of Media 100 for $2.5 million: "With the addition of Media 100ís 844/X, Media 100 HD, Media 100 i and other content design products to the Companyís product portfolio, Optibase now offers a broader selection of high quality professional video products, from digital editing and compositing to encoding and delivery."
Toshiba is planning to launch a 60GB version of its 1.8-inch hard disk drive in the coming months and has already found a customer in Apple, according to IDG News Service: "The drive will enter mass-production during July or August and represents a jump in the storage density of Toshiba's 1.8-inch drives...Toshiba's current highest capacity drive, which is a 40GB model, includes two disc platters, each capable of holding 20GB of data. In the new drive, this capacity will be increased to 30GB per platter...Toshiba is currently shipping 350,000 of the 1.8-inch drives per month to Apple for use in the iPod."
Apricorn today introduced EZ Bus Mini, a new external 1.8-inch drive which it says is "the smallest external hard drive and disaster recovery system." The bus-powered compact drive (15mm x 75 mm x 101mm) will be available in 20GB and 40GB capacities and features a 4200RPM hard drive with an integrated USB cable (and a recessed compartment in the casing to store the cable). It includes a travel pouch, offers USB 2.0 connectivity, and will ship in mid-June for $200 (20GB model). [site not updated]
BusinessWeek's Peter Burrows says that Apple should "make friends" and consider adding more choices for consumers, including more iPod models and a subscription-based pricing model for music downloads: "Jobs needs to remember the prime lesson of the Mac: Make friends -- lots of friends. While the Mac was an early hit, Apple couldn't keep up against the investments of Microsoft, Intel, and a gang of rivals.... Jobs also should rethink his views on subscriptions. He has refused to offer them, saying music fans want to own rather than "rent" their favorite songs. But more than 1 million people now have online music subscriptions."
The MathWorks has released MATLAB 7, a major new release of the high-level technical computing language and interactive environment for analyzing data and developing algorithms and applications. It offers built-in support for integer and single-precision floating-point math, as well as language features for managing and analyzing larger data sets; optimizations across data types, operations, functions, and hardware; and an enhanced MATLAB Compiler that now supports the full MATLAB language. It is available immediately with prices starting at $1,900.
Tactile Interrogator 1.0 ($50) is described as "the first graphical command shell designed for power users," offering colorized and dynamically-sized icons based on file permissions, dates and consumed disk space. Other features include keyboard-based navigation, directory size calculation, a built-in quick reference, and more. [6.6MB] LinkRenamer 1.0 ($200) is a Quark XTension that batch renames and automatically relinks picture links. "In just a few seconds, all picture links imported into a layout or document can be renamed with any custom naming scheme. LinkRenamer renames the actual picture files in the Finder and then updates the appropriate QuarkXPress links." [form] LiveDictionary 1.1.1 ($25) fixes a few bugs in the Safari extension (for Mac OS X 10.3) that adds fast, convenient dictionary lookups to the web: "point to a word with the mouse cursor, and its definition or translation appears in a popup window." Version 1.1 adds an English thesaurus, more Japanese dictionaries, etc. [11MB] A Better Finder Launcher 1.4 ($10) is a keyboard-based application launcher for Mac OS X that offers configurable indexing, instant listing of apps with "live filtering", full keyboard access, wildcard support, and more. Version 1.4 improves the preferences user interface, removes the nag-screen and has other bug fixes. [1.4MB] Cheetah3D 1.6 ($60) updates the 3D modeller and renderer for Mac OS X that offers tools from simple polygon editing over advanced subdivision modelling to boolean operations and Bezier splines. It adds updated documentation, .stl import/export, Mac OS X icon file export, a new shell polygon tool, a chain creator object, and more. [8.4MB] XML2Title 1.0 (45Ä) uses Final Cut Pro's XML features to easily create subtitles from either markers or scenes. "[It] extracts either the clip/scene names with comments or the markers with comments for those markers. XML2Title puts those values into a new fx track with a 'Lower 3rd' text fx for each clip or marker." [form]
Apple VP Ron Johnson says that the design of Apple's retail stores simply reflects its philosphy, according an article in the The Metropolis Observed that looks at the facade, stairs, and ventilation architecture of the Apple's San Francisco flagship store: "If the new Apple store in San Francisco looks like a Powerbook computer, it wasnít deliberate. According to Ron Johnson, Appleís senior vice president of retail, the storeís design was simply a result of a consistent 'internal logic' that seeks 'to get everything out of the way and create the most pure thing possible.' The result is a branding koan: Appleís corporate philosophy is design, so its store design is a philosophy. 'Thereís no design aesthetic for our stores,' Johnson says. 'We tried to just make them what we love.'"
Analyst Gene Munster of Piper Jaffray has issued a "market perform" rating on Apple; although Munster raised the target price from $30 to $32 on future growth of Apple's iPod division and an increasing focus on consumer electronics, he said that Apple's dependence on the education, consumer and creative professional market spending trends was a cause for concern. "The analyst expresses his optimism regarding Apple Computerís accelerated iPod sales growth over the next few years. Moreover, the company is reportedly engaged in the development of several new products, including a 30-inch monitor, colour screen iPod and multi-colour desktops."
Griffin Technology today announced the iTrip mini FM Transmitter for Apple's iPod mini. It brings the entire list of iTrip features to the iPod mini in a "new, beautifully form-fitting mini design." The iTrip mini can broadcast to any available frequency on the FM dial--selected directly from the iPod mini itself. It features digital tuning to fight drift and can reach a radio over 50 feet away. It does not require batteries, as it draws its power directly from the iPod mini and automatically shuts off after 60 seconds without music. It will ship in July for $40; pre-orders are available now.
The Mac Design Conference organizers and Apple have announced a special offer for attendees of the Mac Design Conference in Chicago, June 2-4. The Apple Store on North Michigan Avenue is giving Mac Design Conference attendees an exclusive 10% discount off anything at the store. The offer is valid only during the Mac Design Conference, beginning on Wednesday, June 2 through to Saturday, June 5. Only registered conference attendees, who paid and participated in conference training, are eligible. Apple will require conference attendees to show their Mac Design Conference badge to apply the 10% discount.
Dr. Bott today announced its MoniSwitch Pro ADC for sharing Apple LCD displays. MoniSwitch Pro ADC is a KVM switch that allows the sharing of Apple Flat Panels with ADC (Apple Display Connector) between four computers. It is compatible with Apple's Flat Panel Displays that incorporate the Apple Display Connector including the Apple 23" Cinema Display. DVI displays can also be used with an adapter like DVI Extractor II. Any computer with a built-in ADC connector or compatible DVI video card with a DVI to ADC adapter such as DVIator can also be used. It is available now for $400.
FileMaker has posted FileMaker 7.0v2, a free update to its desktop database application. Version 7.0v2 includes changes to font smoothing, field validation, merge fields, import and more. FileMaker 7.0v2 Developer is also available. FileMaker recently began shipping FileMaker 7 Server, its server software for hosting FileMaker database files.
Now AAPL Stock: 94.02 ( -2.58 )
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