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NYT looks at Genius Bars
Apple's Genius Bars are the soul of its retail stores, according to Apple VP Ron Johnson. A New York Times article discusses the "increasingly rare" free face-to-face technical support phenomenon, the Geniuses themselves, the evolution of the concept, and its inspiration: "The concept of a bar came to Mr. Johnson one night when he was thinking about the kind of environment Apple wanted to create in its stores. He said he was inspired by Four Seasons, the Ritz-Carlton and other hotels where service is paramount. 'We believed you had to bring the people dimension back into retail,' said Mr. Johnson, who joined Apple five years ago after 15 years at Target. 'We thought, What about giving tech support that's as welcoming as the bar at the Ritz?'"
8X SuperDrive PB upgrade
MCE today reduced pricing on its 8X DVD-Recordable slot-loading internal SuperDrive upgrades. The SuperDrive upgrade for PowerBook G4 (all models) and Power Mac G4 Cube systems (already with a SuperDrive or CD-R/RW-DVD-ROM combo drive) has been been lowered from $300 to $250. Pricing for systems with either a DVD-ROM or CD-ROM only drive has been reduced from $350 to $280. The upgrade includes Double Layer (DL) support for recording up to 8.5GB of data at up to 2.4X speed on a single side of DVD+R DL media. The MCE 8X SuperDrive upgrade writes to standard DVD-/+R media at 8X speed, to standard DVD-/+RW media at 4X speed, and to 8.5GB DVD+R DL media at 2.4X speed. In addition, it integrates aa 24x/24x/24x CD-RW mechanism as well as reads DVD-ROM discs at 8X speed.
Negative lawsuit publicity
The negativey publicity generated by the recent lawsuits challenging the traditional journalist protections may be doing more harm than good to Apple's image, according to the Online Journalism Review: "In any case, the publicity from these cases has not been a boon for Apple, a company obsessed with its image. 'Apple Bites the Fans That Feed It,' was the incredulous Forbes.com headline, while the Wall Street Journal noted that 'Apple Sues Web Site Run by 19-Year-Old.' If anything, Apple looks like it has taken a page from the Recording Industry Association of America, which has sued hundreds of music lovers for downloading copyrighted music via file-sharing services online." Meanwhile, ThinkSecret's attorney is going on the offensive, saying he plans to file a motion in February to dismiss the "meritless" case with the court on the grounds of First Amendment rights as well as seek sanctions against Apple for legal costs already incurred.
CubicNavigator for QTVR
Click Here Design has announced its third addition to the "cubic" line of software for working with cubic format QuickTime VR. CubicNavigator 1.0 is a browser for panoramic VR: "Where most browsers show web pages, CubicNavigator shows VR." It uses hardware-accelerated OpenGL for smooth, fluid display in a window or fullscreen and can be used to browse QuickTime VR or other popular panorama formats and interactively move around those images in fullscreen or view them in iPhoto-like slideshows accompanied by auto-rotation and music. CubicNavigator also offers keyword overlays, 3D maps, searchable bookmarks, AppleScript support, and recorded tours for captive kiosk uses. CubicNavigator 1.0 is available for $20 and includes an extensive collection of default bookmarks linking to some of the most scenic VR on the web.
Apple extends promos
Apple has extended several of its special promotions, including the free Epson printer promo noted first by MacNN earlier today (and subsequently by other media outlets). The Apple co-sponsored promotions offer discounts on Apple and third-party products when purchased along with a new Mac. Apple's "More essential than ever promo" offers a $30 discount on its $100 .Mac Services; its "Print Out. Cash in." promo offers a free Epson C86 printer--after rebate--when purchased with any Mac through April 12, 2005. Apple also extended through March 14, 2005, its "One publishing powerhouse. One great offer." which offers $300 back when QuarkXpress is purchased along with a Power Mac G5 or PowerBook G4. Finally, Apple's "The ultimate digital asset manager." promo, which offers up to $1,200 back via mail-in rebate on Extensis Portfolio Server 7, has been extended until March 25, 2005.
\'PlayStation\' vs iTunes
Sony will take on Apple's iTunes by setting up a global music download service under its PlayStation brand, according to Digital Bulletin. "The service, which is being developed by Sony Computer Entertainment Europe, will enable music to be downloaded direct to the PlayStation Portable, Sony's first entry into the handheld gaming market, which launches in the UK in March. Marketing has learned that the download platform will initially be used as a marketing tool to offer PSP users free additional game levels and upgrades. However, it is also being developed as a download vehicle for other potential Sony products, with a paid-for music service set to launch in the UK this summer."
DLO iDirect for iPod
Digital Lifestyle Outfitters (DLO) today announced the DLO iDirect Remote Control, which brings the ability to remotely control of any dockable iPod, allowing users to have complete control while keeping it charged and/or connected to a home stereo or powered speaker system. Itfeatures a compact remote control with buttons for play/pause, track advance, return and volume control. A separate IR receiver snaps on top of the iPod works with the included remote or with an existing learning remote. The IR receiver is iPod-powered and the battery-powered remote control is compact and lightweight for maximum portability. The iDirect also features a headphone pass-through to allow remote control use with many car transmitters and cassette adapters. It is available now for $50.
iPod/Mac mini scam spam
In Brief: Online criminals are cashing in on "iPod mania" as e-mails purporting to sell the iPod MP3 player made an unprecedented debut during December, according to Clearswift's Spam Index, while another notes a Mac mini scam spam that claimed to be from NYU.... Ars Technica has posted A mini-guide to Mac OS X for new Mini owners.... Photoshop World Conference & Expo has expanded this year's all-star instructor roster to include 30 of industry's top Photoshop, photography, motion graphics, digital artists, and design experts..... Earlier this month Prosilica introduced its new EC1280 digital FireWire camera for applications in machine vision and industrial imaging, offering a small size, high performance, and economical pricing.... Apple has extended its Print Out. Cash in promo, offering a free Epson C86 printer (or $100 mail-in rebate) with the purchase of any Mac (eMac, iMac G5, PowerBook, iBook, Power Mac G5, Mac mini) until April 12, 2005.
iDockCover for iPod
WestShore Craftworks has announced the iDockCover, a decorative iPod stand/dock cover that is made from selected hardwoods and available in a variety of finishes, including natural wood and high-gloss, brightly colored finishes. It fits over/around the iPod dock, while allowing the iPod to be docked normally (and charged/synced to a PC via the dock-based connection). Designed to fit all third-generation ("3G") and newer iPods (except the Shuffle), they are available in oval shapes as well as the newly released electric guitar shapes (shown at right, starting at $40). The company is also offering a MockDock, which can be instead of the original dock (but will not charge/sync the iPod). Prices for the MockDock start at $3, while prices for the iDockCover start at $15.
Inventive iClip 3.5
Inventive has released iClip 3.5, an update to its productivity software for Mac OS X. iClip enables users to quickly store, organize, and access snippets of information without having to save them as entire documents. Version 3.5 features a new menu system that moves the main iClip functions from the global menu to a set of menus directly within the iClip window as well as improved documentation leveraging Apple's Help Viewer application. The contents of the Clipboard Recorder also are now automatically preserved through iClip relaunches and restarts, eliminating the need for users to explicitly store it before quitting. It is available for Mac OS X 10.2 or later for $20 ($30 on CD).
MOTU MachFive, MX4 upgrade
MOTU last week unveiled version 2.0 of its instrument plug-ins, MachFive and MX4. MachFive Version 2, MOTU's universal sampler plug-in, will include unlimited parts per instance, a full-screen preset browser, a new modular synthesis architecture, keygroup layering with rule-based switching, larger sample and keygroup editors, a complete built-in mixer, LoopLab groove slice engine, sample time-stretching, and many other new features. Meanwhile, MX4 Version 2, MOTU's hybrid synth plug-in, will add more effects, more presets, a built-in pattern gate, a built-in arpeggiator and numerous additional modulation sources and shapers. MachFive v2 will ship in the second quarter for $400 (upgrade cost not announced), while MX4 v2 will ship the first quarter of 2005 as a free upgrade to version 1 or for $300 (full license).
Apple Store UK glitch
The Apple Store UK has (mistakenly) increased the price of RAM on some of its build-to-order configurations of the Mac mini, despite an unannounced drop at the Apple Store US on RAM and wireless connectivity options. Macworld UK reports that "the UK Apple Store is currently offering the same amount of memory for a whopping £561.53! Previously, it was on sale for £290 - despite being available from other online resellers for as little as £142. This shock price rise is only for the entry-level 1.25GHz Mac mini. 1GB of RAM for the top-end 1.42GHz Mac mini has seen a reduction of £70 to £220." Apple is reportedly working to fix the glitch in system by the end of the day.
It is an exciting time for consumer technology, with gadgets and devices that once used to the stuff of dreams now coming to fruition. ...JBL Synchros Reflect in-ear headphones
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