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Cell phone network virus
Tech news: Antivirus company Kaspersky Labs said on Monday that it discovered the first-ever computer virus capable of spreading over mobile phone networks; Texas Instruments has developed new DSL technology that will make it easier for phone companies to boost their bandwidth offerings, so they can offer new services like voice and video over broadband connections; Intel's Nocona will debut in June, and, as a reply to AMD's Opteron, the chip runs both 32-bit and 64-bit software.
European music wars
Today, two powerhouses in the European music download wars made strategic moves, ahead of Apple's anticipated entrance into the European music market tomorrow. Roxio's Napster announced a partnership with NTL, the U.K.'s leading broadband provider. The firm launched its download service in the U.K. last month to little fanfare. Doing so put it in direct competition with On Demand Distribution (OD2), a digital music "wholesaler" that is the top European download provider, through its work for front-ends of Coke, Microsoft, MSN France, NEC, Packard Bell, and other affiliate sites.
Guitar Rig for Mac
Native Instruments is today announced that Guitar Rig for Mac OS X is now available. Guitar Rig is a "one-stop-solution" for the demanding guitarist and producer. Combining sophisticated software with a foot controller, GUITAR RIG forms a professional modular guitar studio. It "opens up a whole universe of unique and signature guitar sounds" - ranging from classic vintage tones to contemporary hi-gain metal sounds and more. It is available for $500.
Front End Digital Media
K-werkx today released Front End Digital Media Workshop 1.0 ($17). Front End Digital Media Workshop combines multimedia presentation and authoring tools in one simple interface. The batch/play list-based architecture allows users to work with 1 to 99 files. Dozens of popular digital image, movie, and sound file formats can be imported. Playback and presentation features include full screen video, play list looping, variable speed shuttle control, bass treble volume and balance controls.
SQLVue 3 released
LogicalVue Software today announced the release of SQLVue 3 ($50), its SQL database tool for Macintosh and Windows developers. It supports a wide variety of databases including Oracle, MySQL, REALDatabase, PostgreSQL, and ODBC. It also offers a Schema Browser for quick access to tables, columns and scripts, and a Data Editor to directly edit table data.
Singlestep Unity 2.0
Singlestep Technologies today announced the release of Unity 2.0, its Adaptive, IT Process Automation and Information Management software. Unity 2.0 adds advanced dashboard and reporting modules to give IT executives and service providers better visibility and control of their network information. Unity maps the movement of business processes, identifying network components such as servers, routers, and other devices.
iMac slot-loading drive
MCE Technologies today released an internal 24X slot-loading CD-R/RW drive to replace the tray-loading CD-ROM drive in the original iMac (233, 266, and 333MHz, Rev. A-D). The iMac 24X CD-R/RW drive is compatible with iTunes and Finder Burning, is bootable, and includes Roxio's Toast Lite software and complete installation guide. "The new, sleeker slot-loading drive provides the iMac with a more modern look as it replaces the original, antiquated tray-loading drive." The 24x/16x/24x drive has a retail price of $180. MCE says the drive is user installable, or may be installed at any MCE Certified Upgrade Center.
Solo Performer Show device
Solo Performer Show Controller ($600) is designed to help solo musicians control their shows. The 6-button foot pedal device connects to laptop computers via a USB connection. "On the computer, play lists of backing audio files are created and played, along with lyric displays and lightshow events. The foot controller allows the musician to control the backing audio and lights in a hands-free manner while performing live on stage." It plays MP3 files, AIFF files, wave files, and MIDI files as well as control lights that operate using the industry-standard DMX512 protocol, display lyrics on-screen in a karaoke-like manner, and can strip out unwanted tracks in midi files.
100GB 2.5\" drive, Linux
Tech news: Fujitsu has begun mass production of a 100GB hard-disk drive for notebook computers, after beginning initial production in March; AOL will begin charging up to $0.33 per minute (per participant) for video conferencing via its AIM Business Services, which will be directly available from buddy lists; Linux Reviews notes a Linux kernel crash exploit that affects most 2.4.x and 2.6.x kernels on x86 systems that can be executed by any user with shell access; Microsoft is readying the final release of its delayed Virtual Server 2005 program, which allows a single server to run multiple copies of an operating system.
Cautious on hi-def DVD
Steve Jobs recently argued that studios shouldn't license their movies for use in the planned "high-definition DVD" format until Hollywood is assured by the tech industry that the discs can't be copied by new DVD burners that will come along. The Wall Street Journal reports that at a recent private meeting with Hollywood studio heads and industry CEO's such as Microsoft Steve Ballmer and HP's Carly Fiorina, Jobs said "even suggested that high-definition DVD burners not be bundled with computers at all -- a scenario he said in an interview was 'extreme' and one that 'I hope we don't have to get to, but it helps to put the issue in perspective.'"
No UK Indies at ITMS?
Apple's iTunes Music Store Europe, expected to be announced tomorrow, may launch with limited tracks from UK independent labels, according to Macworld UK. According to the report, talks, which took place over this past weekend, "broke down" after Apple presented terms that were unacceptable to Europe's independent labels. "If this report proves true this will mean Apple will launch its store - at present anticipated to open for business tomorrow in the UK, France and Germany - without key musicians that define the UK market. Independent labels account for 25 per cent of music retail sales in the UK, and 22 per cent across Europe."
WorldSync ships SyncDeK 5
WorldSync today shipped SyncDeK 5.0, its software for providing bi-directional, asynchronous data replication for FileMaker databases. The application and plug-in combination provides the synchronization of specified fields between distributed FileMaker databases based on configurable rules. Designed for use by remote sites and mobile workers, it leverages Java-based background services along standard Internet communication protocols to synchronize XML data. SyncDeK 5.0, compatible with FileMaker 6/7 databases on Mac OS X and Windows platforms, is available for $250 (single-user version) before a $50 introductory offer discount. The Network Engine is $850 (before a $150 discount).
X3DToolKit, FinLease, ...
X3DToolKit 0.6 is a portable LGPL free C++ toolkit for loading, displaying and processing X3D models, the successor to VRML for real-time 3D communication over distributed networks. The X3D scene graph can be translated in two useful views: an OpenGL representation and a topological winged-edge based data structure.
FinLease 1.5 ($45) is an advanced lease calculator that enables you to set up and calculate complex leases. The update adds many new options so that almost any lease situation can be covered. Other features include six day count conventions, grouped step payments and seasonal payments. [1.3MB] Spec Cubed is an InDesign plugin that visually annotates InDesign documents and Slug Cubed improves workflow tracking by maintaining accurate, up-to-date slugs and improves productivity by eliminating tedious and error prone manual slug maintenance. The plugins ($200) each support InDesign CS/2.0. RapidWeaver 2.2 ($30) is a web design package that allows users to "choose and create navigation bars and buttons from drop down menus then customize as required" to generate a fully functional website with a single-click. Version 2.2 adds support for drag & drop of images, text (CSS) menu, styled text, and framed websites as well as adds 4 new CSS themes, Flash support, etc. [2.2MB] The Bluetooth To Internet Utility 2.1 (donationware) allows you to "share an Internet connection from one Mac to up to 7 other Macs or Palm devices that have Bluetooth hardware. You can run network programs, play games, or anything you can do with a wired connecton." Version 2.1 adds extra startup scripts, fixes a few bugs, and has other enhancements. [1.0MB] A free Nikon Scan 4.0.2 updater offers improved detection of the image frame area when using the SA-21 strip-film or SA-30 roll-film adapters and also fixes a problem which could cause the computer to freeze when inserting or removing a film holder from the Super CoolScan 9000 ED. [3.3MB] iKeeper 2.0.5 ($20) adds a new global sort preference with options for date and internet site or product name to the utility for storing/organizing product and internet information. It also enables double clicking in list view to bring up record detail view, fixes, and more. [1.0MB]
OD2/MS, Entourage ebook
In Brief: Digital music provider OD2 today announced it had joined forces with Microsoft to allow users to purchase tracks from OD2 through Microsoft's Windows Media Player and will begin offering a new pricing scheme that offers cheaper prices as users buy more songs. AMD's PowerNow technolgy in its mobile 2400+ processors will slow down USB file transfers and music sync from your iPod; "Take Control of What's New in Entourage 2004" ($5) is a new electronic book authored by Microsoft Office expert Tom Negrino; IconBuffet offers three new digital Stock Icon Collections--Manhattan, Marseilles, and Redmond--for $290 (before a $50 limited time discount); IT-enquirer has posted a review on SilverFast Ai 6 Scanning software.
Seagate debuts new drives
Seagate today announced an expanded line of personal computing hard drives, including new internal and external hard drives with 400GB capacities, a new small footprint portable external hard drive with up to 100GB capacity (due this Fall) and "the world's first pocket external hard drive." The new Barracuda 7200.8 disc drive offers 400GB of storage, a 16MB cache, and a choice of an Ultra ATA interface or native Serial ATA (SATA) interface with native command queuing (NCQ). The new Seagate USB2 Pocket Hard Drive, also due by this Fall, is an ultra-compact USB-compatible 5GB drive built using a "tough-but-cute hard case." The new Seagate External Hard Drive will be on store shelves for the holiday shopping season, while the internal version will ship this Fall.
ImageBuddy 3.0 ($20) updates the photo printing program, adding support for rotated text, transparent background images and book style punch offset on page layout. It also adds higher resolution printing and scroll wheel support. ImageBuddy integrates with iPhoto using drag & drop to expand its printing options. [2.7MB]
Wirecast 1.0.2 reduces price of the broadcasting software package to $450 (from $600), offers several bug fixes, and adds a Japanese localization. It supports many different webcams, multiple processors, templates, video stamping/effects, archiving, QTSS, AppleScript, Keynote integration, etc. [7.4MB]
SecuritySpy 1.0.2 ($50) updates the multi-camera video surveillance software with features such as motion detection, real-time compression and network
video streaming, and more. It adds text overlay functions, lower CPU usage with some networked cameras, support for more cameras, and better display. [993KB]
iUnit 2.8 ($20) is the latest version of Black Cat Systems' measurement unit conversion program. It adds additional conversions for kinematic and dynamic viscosity. It can convert 1511 different units of distance, mass, volume, velocity, density, currency, etc. and contains 80 commonly used constants. [366KB]
ClipPreserver 1.0 (free) automatically preserves the contents of the Clipboard
when users shutdown or restart their computers.. The shareware version ($10) will also automatically will preserve and restore the contents of users' Clipboards when they have a system crash and also offers a "ClipCleaner feature" to clear the contents of the clipboard. [1.2MB]
Applimiser 1.2 ($12) is a system utility that allows you to pre-view the optimisation results before any changes are made on your disk. It offers "de-localization", help file optimization, string file optimization, classic code removal, and removal of temporary Finder files. It sports a new UI, adds drag & drop support, more. [440KB]
Do Something When 1.0 (free) is a system preference pane that allows the user to watch for drives mounting and un-mounting and perform actions such as "launch or quit applications, when these events happen. You can launch iTunes when your music hard drive gets mounted, you can quit iTunes when you eject the drive." [FTP]
In published excerpts from last week's onstage conversation at the second annual D: All Things Digital conference, Steve Jobs said he hopes Apple will garner about 5% marketshare the entire music industry--not just the online music industry of which it owns 70% marketshare--in the next 24 months, after achieving a 2% marketshare in the first year iTunes. Jobs also said that iTunes prices are not expected to rise: "And it turns out the music companies make more money when we sell a song for 99 cents than they do when they sell it on a CD. The prices aren't going up on iTunes, I can tell you that.." [paid subscription required to WSJ]
Echo shelves online music
Ahead of expected music-industry announcements by Napster and Apple this week, CNET reports that a group of big name retailers have shelved plans to enter the online music market. "Echo, a joint venture launched with a splash of publicity in early 2003, was designed to give the big brick-and-mortar retailers such as Best Buy and Virgin Megastores an on-line foothold that would help them beat back file-swapping services and digital stores. But mounting development costs, a glut of rivals offering bargain-rate services, and smaller-than-hoped-for sales across the on-line-music spectrum, even at Apple's successful store, have led the big retailers to pull funding for the project...The lesson they drew was that the market was growing, but it was small and would show little profit potential, at least for the near future."
Living room: Apple vs. MS
While Microsoft promised both video and audio streaming with its Media Center Extender due later this year, Apple may have pre-empted Microsoft by promising to deliver next month AirPort Express, which has a smaller subset of features (audio streaming only): "But in terms of business strategy, the similarity between the Media Center Extender devices and AirTunes is notable. Both would effectively extend the companies' respective positions on the personal computer into the living room -- something that Microsoft, in particular, has long been seeking to do....Microsoft, in moving forward with its initiative to move both audio and video over the home network, 'has taken the big bite,' Wilcox said. 'The question is, will it be too much at once? Can they really deliver on the promise of the technology?'"
Creative Zen Touch
Creative Labs last week introduced the Zen Touch, a 1.8-inch hard drive-based portable audio player, which the company positioned against Apple's iPod: "[It] holds twice the music and provides up to three times the battery life as a 20GB iPod." It features a patent pending "Touch Pad" control, which "enables a user to simply move a thumb up and down in a natural motion on the Touch Pad to navigate quickly and easily." The metallic graphite and white gloss-colored displays track and menu information on a large blue-backlit LCD screen and supports both WMA and MP3 music, USB 2.0 connectivity, and Creative MediaSource (for Windows), which provides song management functions. It will ship later this month for $270.
Apple talks more security
Apple representatives said the company was "stung by recent criticism that the company didn't communicate in detail about security updates," admitting that descriptions of patches downloaded automatically tended to be "simplistic," according to Wired News: "According to Bereskin, Apple has issued 44 security updates since Mac OS X was introduced in March 2001, and 3 percent of those were classified critical -- a vulnerability that can be exploited remotely. The Help Viewer and Disk vulnerabilities are examples. By comparison, Microsoft issued 78 security updates in the same period, and 65 percent were critical, Bereskin noted."
MS patent dispute
Tech news: A U.S. government agency agreed this week to re-examine a controversial Microsoft patent on the Windows file format, following an objection from a public-interest group; Nintendo said Wednesday it is developing a new home game console code-named "Revolution" in an apparent attempt to catch up with rival Sony; digital radio broadcasts that bring CD-quality sound to the airwaves could lead to unfettered song copying if protections are not put in place, a recording-industry trade group warned on Friday.
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