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21st Century Trojan Horse
Although it "doesn't break any new ground in technology," is "a bitch to upgrade," and features pricing that is "not realistic," the Mac mini may be a "21st Century Trojan Horse," says Peter Lewis of Fortune. "There are three exceptional and very important things about the Mac mini that render those gripes less significant: design, price, and software," writes Lewis, "the Mac mini is a Trojan horse ... a sneaky way for Apple to get its secret weapon--creative software--in front of all those Windows users ... For an investment of less than $600, Windows users can see for themselves what all the Mac fanatics have been raving about all these years."
Free HyperEngine-AV tool
Arboretum Systems has released a free version of HyperEngine-AV 1.5, its comprehensive video editor that offers a "trackless" workspace for free manipulation of video, audio, stills, and text in an infinitely expandable window. "HyperEngine-AV was made for all moviemakers who want a tool that let them create while literally thinking 'outside the box,'" said Georges Jaroslaw. "We believe that we have succeeded in this approach: If you can see a movie in your mind, you can easily create it in our software by placing and editing clips in the workspace. The user interface is completely transparent."
Georgia one-on-one program
Cobb County in Georgia is looking to provide more than 63,000 Apple laptops to teachers and students as part of a proposed one-on-one educational program that will cost nearly $70 million, making it one of the largest such programs in the country. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that system administration officials have acknowledged the proposal, but are waiting until a Wednesday Board meeting, where Superintendent Joseph Redden is scheduled to unveil the details. The proposal calls for a 3-phase program that will give laptops to teachers this spring and begin with a four school sites in the fall; the second phase will provide iBooks to high school students in early 2006, and the third will be to provide the computers to middle school students. [free registration required]
In Brief: HealthWare Corporation has announced certification with ProxyMed for insurance claims management by MediMac users.... Best Buy stores in Ontario (Canada) don't expect to have any iPod shuffle players in stock until March 7th (the Mac mini is still expected Feb 11th).... 24U has announced a number of discounts in celebration of its 5th anniversary.... Clinique has announced an iPod giveaway to promote its Happy To Be fragrance.... Intego has signed a distribution agreement with Academic Distributing, specialized in distributing software in the education and government markets in the United States.
Synaptics shares fall
Following concerns about its relationship with Apple, shares of touch-pad-technology company Synaptics slumped as much as 11 percent. Bear Stearns analyst Andrew Neff cut his price target on the stock after learning the track-pad in Apple's newly revamped line of PowerBook doesn't come from Synaptics. Neff said, in a research note, that "our concern is that TrackPad may signal a change in Apple's strategy whereby in the future Apple may source all of its interface solutions internally." Synaptics currently provides technology for the iPod's click wheel song-scrolling device, as well as for other Apple products.
Critics question iTunes
New subscription-based music services that enable users to take music with them may challenge the iPod and iTunes Music Store, according to an AP story. Napster has launched a $30 million advertising campaign to promote its $15 a month service. The question remains, "is music something you own or something you rent?" Meanwhile, Inside Bay Area questions Apple's iTunes-only strategy for the iPod. Mark Farish of Samsung likens the iPod/iTunes situation to that of the original Macintosh, "the reason Macintosh failed in the PC market was because it didn't license its technologies to other manufacturers, which Microsoft did."
Web Information Solutions has released TarMac 1.01 and MindFortress 1.5 updates. The update to TarMac fixes a few reported bugs reported from the initial release. MindFortress is a $10 GUI interface to Tar for Mac OS X. MindFortress 1.5 adds printing, email, PDF, and native import/export support as well as several other enhancements to the multimedia knowledge base app. MindFortress is $10. [Download - TarMac, MindFortress ]
Plextor ConvertX, EyeTV
Plextor today released Elgato EyeTV 1.7 software for the ConvertX Personal Video Recorder for the Macintosh. EyeTV 1.7 allows users to take advantage of the ConvertX PVR's built-in MPEG-4 hardware video compression capability in addition to previously available MPEG-1 and MPEG-2 formats. Other new features of the software include a more robust search and sort through recorded videos, making it easier for users to find the recording they want to watch. EyeTV 1.7 is a free update for current ConvertX PVR for the Mac owners. Plextor also announced a new $50 software upgrade that enables ConvertX PVR for the Mac users to install and use the device on a PC in addition to a Mac, making the device the first personal video recorder with cross-platform compatibility. ConvertX PVR for Mac is $230.
Safari security hole
A security hole in Firefox and Safari could enable malicious Web sites to mislead users. The exploit involves International Domain Name (IDN) handling. A proof of concept is available to demonstrate the exploit. There is currently no known workaround for Safari, and a potential fix Mozilla is questioned. Internet Explorer is not affected. Camino, however, appears to be vulnerable to the exploit.
SaveMe 1.0 for Panther
GoldfishSoft has released SaveMe 1.0, a new system utility to add auto-save functionality to virtually every Mac OS X program. The developer says that SaveMe is compatible with big-name programs like Photoshop, FileMaker Pro, and Keynote, as well as smaller programs like TextEdit and Stickies. SaveMe can save your files at any custom interval--from once every 30 seconds to once a day. "With SaveMe, you never have to remember to save your files again; you can just sit back as SaveMe does it automatically." SaveMe runs on Mac OS 10.3 or later; the shareware is $25.
How big can Apple get?
"The place where Apple has been standing for the last two decades is exactly where computer technology and the consumer electronics markets are converging," said Apple CEO Steve Jobs, "So it's not like we're having to cross the river to go somewhere else; the other side of the river is coming to us." "How big can Apple get?" asks Fortune, "this isn't a company about 5% market share; this is a company that is capable of competing with world-class competitors and achieving market shares of 65%, 70%, and even 90%." Another article has Five questions for Steve Jobs, in which he says "Our DNA has not changed."
Adobe Camera Raw update
Adobe's Camera Raw 2.4 updates the company's Camera Raw plugin, replacing the original Camera Raw plug-in and bringing the total number of raw camera formats supported within Adobe Photoshop CS and Photoshop Elements 3.0 to more than 70. It adds support for several Canon digital cameras (EOS 20D, PowerShot S70, PowerShot G6, EOS-1Ds Mark II) as well as new Konica Minolta cameras (Maxxum 7D, Dynax 7D, DiMage A200). In addition, Adobe announced expanded capabilities for the DNG Converter, which translates disparate raw photo formats into a single universal format, or digital negative, for long-term archiving.
Pepsi/iTunes ad scores
USA Today has published scores for this year's multi-million dollar Super Bowl XXXIX television advertisements. Pepsi's iTunes giveaway commercial featuring "singing bottles" received a 6.01 score, while the other Pepsi/iTunes spot featuring Gwen Stefani and Eve was given a 5.31 rating. The highest rated commercial was a Bud Light spot where the pilot jumps out of plane for six-pack of Bud Light. The lowest ranked ad was Napster's comparison of its pricing to iTunes. Advertisers paid a record average $2.4 million per 30-second spot to get their ads in the game
FitnessBrain, SMS Mac
FitnessBrain 2.0 ($24) is a major update to the popular diet and exercise application. Version 2.0 allows users to add pictures, movies, clippings, and even record sounds, boasts a redesigned interface, and more. [Download - form]
SMS Mac 0.9 (€18) is an Address Book plug-in to easily enter an SMS fast and send it to any mobile number in the world through the Internet. It supports Unicode and long messages (concatenated SMS) and Flash SMS (Europe only). [Download - 600KB]
iRooster 2.1 ($10) is an update to the Mac OS X alarm clock application. iRooster now features Lullabye, Chimp Tunes (the online song database for iRooster), repeating alarms, and a Snooze system. [Download - 990KB]
Sambucus 2.3.8 ($20) is a simple time-tracking application aimed at freelancers and small businesses who might need to track the time spent on various tasks and then report it. Version 2.3.8 fixes a few bugs found by users over the past months. [Download - 2.8MB]
iTaskX 2 Beta ($65) is a cost-effective project management suite that provides support for small and complex projects. iTaskX 2includes numerous customizeable views for tasks and resources, a page layout view for printer preview, definable text styles for all project tasks, effort driven scheduling, and more. [Download - 3.0MB]
Briefly: Apple NZ sales
In Brief: Steven Levy of Newsweek takes a look at the iPod's 'shuffle' feature and its randomness.... Renaissance, distributor of the iPod and Macs in New Zealand, today reported a 72 per cent increase in net profit for 2004, which the company says is largely due to Apple product sales.... With the Mac mini, "Apple may have found a way to break down the biggest barriers" to potential switchers, The Seattle Times says.... Apple's Keynote and Pages "have a simplistic look and feel, but you can do a heck of a lot with both of them".... iPodStyle is offering a special Valentine's Day bundle pack.
ADHOC Call for Papers
The Advanced Developers Hands On Conference (ADHOC) has announced the Call For Papers, ahead of the popular developer's conference this summer (July 27th through July 31st). The Call for Papers asks participants to present scholarly works that will be critiqued and judged. Possible topics for this year's ADHOC include: new development in Mac OS X 'Tiger' 10.4, game and video techniques, cross-platform development, AltiVec, and more. Papers usually range from 2000 to 4000 words or 8-15 pages in length. Paper authors who give a presentation to the conference do not pay the conference registration fee ($575).
NewsFire 1.0 released
David Watanabe has released NewsFire 1.0, a final release of the shareware RSS news reader for Mac OS X that features a "gorgeous animated interface." It offers support for all major syndication formats, a powerful feed discovery interface, user-controlled smart feeds, instant search of local/remote feeds, support for embedded audio content, multiple display options, external blog editor support, import/export of feed collections, and support for keyboard navigation and custom shortcuts. "NewsFire's greatest feature, however, is its minimalist yet expressive user interface. Using design cues from iChat and Safari, NewsFire presents a friendly and sensible interface to new users." It is available for $20. (MacNN has an extensive set of categorized RSS news feeds.)
Information Appliance Associates has released PocketMac HoldIt!, the first tool to allow Mac multimedia users to balance incoming calls with their desktop music and video. PocketMac HoldIt will will monitor incoming calls and, based on the user's preference, can stop or pause Apple's iTunes or DVD players or Elgato's eyeTV or simply the their Mac. HoldIt! can also display a warning as well as run a custom AppleScript or application. "We wanted this to a versatile but powerful app. That's why we wanted to cover a wide variety of applications that music and video lovers would want support for." The application is available immediately for Mac OS X 10.3. It costs $13.
Aqua Data Studio 4.0
AquaFold has released Aqua Data Studio 4.0, an update to its tool that provides database administration features for all major relational databases. It now offers the ability to visually manage security of any relational database, including users, roles and object permissions. Aqua Data Studio also offers a new and enhanced query tool with complete customization features as well as auto-completion, syntax coloring, tab expansion, data retrieval and results formatting (split-paned or multi-tabbed result view). Version 4 also offers a new wizard to extract and export data and adds additional support for DB2 8.2, Microsoft SQL Server 2005, PostgreSQL 8.0, Sybase Anywhere 9.0 and MySQL 4.1. It is free for personal and educational use and $150 per user for commercial use.
Tunewear today introduced its Prie PodOrganizer for Apple's iPod. The new carry case is designed for carrying the iPod and other accessories as well as organizing credit cards, documents, and other wallet contents. The hand-sewn case supports all iPod models and offers external access to both the dock connector and the headphone jack. It also features a "cable winder", an internal meshed net pocket for carrying accessories, space for credit cards/name badges, a pen holder, pockets to hold bills and documents, and more. The new Prie case also features a belt loop and easily can be attached to a strap of a purse or other carrying case using a snap-button system on the back of the case. It is expected to ship at the end of the month.
More .Mac problems
Apple's .Mac users are again experiencing problems with their email. Dozens of users are reporting problems since February 2nd, including intermittant loss of email and messages without the body of the email. The problems are not consistent, and appear to be affecting a select number of users, according to posts on Apple's discussion boards. Many readers have been able to confirm the problem, but Apple has not acknowledged the problmes, has not offered any solutions in its discussion boards, and has not responded to several users' direct call for help and support.
Chinese tracks on iTunes
Apple and Universal Music are selling Chinese-language pop music for the first time in North America and Europe, according to The Financial Times. "More than 1,000 tracks by top Chinese artists on the books of Universal, the world's biggest record company, including Jacky Cheung, Kelly Chen, Hacken Lee and Alan Tam, will be available from Apple's iTunes stores in 15 countries, including the US, UK and Canada.... The move represents Universal's faith in the continuing growth of the legal download market. The launch, to coincide with the Chinese lunar new year tomorrow, is aimed especially at the big overseas Chinese population, which has been able to access the music in physical form only through a limited number of specialist retailers."
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