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Napster challenges iTunes
Napster has revealed an aggressive marketing campaign against Apple's iPod as part of its plans for a full launch of the Napster To Go portable subscription service later this quarter. The service is one of the first services enabled by Microsoft's Janus technology, which allows music files bought via subscription services to be transferred from a PC to a portable device. According to Napster CEO Chris Gorog, his company is betting heavily that the monthly 'all you can eat' subscription model will win customers over the download strategy currently pursued by iTunes. Gorog believes the best way to market the new service is to emphasise its advantages over iTunes. He's particularly keen to highlight iTunes' iPod-only compatibility. "We're going to be communicating to people that it's stupid to buy an iPod."
\"Soyuz\" iPod case
Based on its 'Soyuz' messenger bags first introduced in April 2004, everQuest is offering smaller size holsters and cases specifically designed for cell phones, PDAs, digital cameras and iPods. The everQuest bags and holsters are made from swatches of space-flown parachute that returned astronaut Michael Foale and cosmonaut Alexander Kaleri from the International Space Station to Earth. EverQuest is selling two models: a cell phone holster and a wider e-device case. Both the holster and case are held closed with velcro; the case also has elastic side panels for a snug fit.
Burning Monkey 2005
Freeverse has announced Burning Monkey Mahjong Solitaire 2005, the latest edition of its popular $25 solitaire game. According to the developer, the game is almost complete, and will be shipping soon. The 2005 edition features a fully intergrated 3D Open GL interface, dozens of new layouts, tile sets featuring traditional and wacky images, a layout creation tool, random winable game generator, iTunes integration, Internet high scores, and "as always more jokes and monkeys you can shake a banana at." Burning Monkey Mahjong 2005 supports the following game variations: Tile Pickup, Simple Match, Classic, Flowers and Seasons, Memory and Two Turns.
biOpen 1.5 update
As noted last week, AbOrygen has released biOpen 1.5, an update to its sequence analysis and structure visualization tool. biOpen is based on dynamic integration of analysis tools and uses a plug-in architecture. Modularity gives the user the freedom to pick the analysis tools that meet their needs and budget. All selected tools work in a fully integrated environment with powerful display and project management capabilities. With the latest version, major improvements were made in 3D visualization of protein structures. New features comprise calculation of distance and angles between atoms and display of heteroatoms in the 3D window. A new demo version is now available to download.
LimeWire 4.4 update
LimeWire 4.4 is the latest version of the peer-to-peer software that enables Mac, Windows, and Linux users to share files over the Internet. Version 4.4 includes automatic java upgrades and support for Creative Commons licensed files. LimeWire can now detect UPnP-enabled (Universal Plug and Play) routers and automatically configure the router for optimal performance. Additionally, firewall-to-firewall transfer now works in more cases and use less bandwidth. LimeWire is available as a free distribution or as $19 shareware with additional features.
FinePix F10, FinePix Z1
Fuji earlier this week unveiled two new digital cameras: the 6.3 MegaPixel FinePix F10 and the 5.1 MegaPixel FinePix Z1. Both feature Fujifilm's breakthrough Real Photo Technology for improved results in low light situations, more efficient power consumption and faster overall operation. This allows the photographer to shoot without a flash in the "Natural Light" scene position, preserving natural lighting and reducing red-eye. The FinePix F10 can take 500 pictures on a single charge of its lithium ion battery and has a latency of 1/100th second. Like the FinePix F10, the new 5.1 MegaPixel FinePix Z1 is compact and feature-packed, but it is set apart by a stylish and slim design, measuring a mere 18.6 millimeters thick.
Aspyr Media this morning announced that Star Wars Battlefront is now available for pre-order. Star Wars Battlefront is scheduled to ship in June and will retail for $50. Battlefront is an action/shooter game that gives fans and gamers the opportunity to re-live and participate in all of the classic Star Wars battles. Players can select one of a number of different soldier types, jump into any vehicle, man any turret on the battlefront and conquer the galaxy planet-by-planet online with their friends or offline in a variety of single player modes.
Proteus 4.10 ($15) is a multi-protocol instant messaging application with support for AIM, MSN, Yahoo, ICQ, Jabber, and more. Version 4.1.0 is a minor update that corrects issues with AIM connectivity. [Download - 6.9MB]
FlightMath 2.3 ($20) for Mac OS X is a utility for pilots for preflight calculations and weather. New in version 2.3, FlightMath can download Terminal Area Forecast information. [Download - 1.6MB]
MenuStrip 3.0.3 ($25) allows users to create their own menus and shortcuts in the Mac OS X menu bar. Version 3.0.3 introduces an innovative way to quickly clear window and desktop clutter, adds new 'icon-fade' screen effect, and improves font rendering for certain LCD font smoothing settings. [Download - 728KB]
IconLab 1.1 ($25) is the latest version of the Photoshop plug-in for editing Mac OS X's native icon format. Version 1.1 allows exported icons to be manipulated using the Finder's "Get info" window. [Download - 358KB]
Adagio (free), now available for Mac OS X, is a fast paced 2D shoot-em-up in the tradition of many Genesis and Amiga games of similiar type. The full version contains 6 levels that challenge your skill as well as reveal the game's indepth story. [Download - 9.3MB]
Witch 1.0b1 (free) lets users access all open windows by pressing a shortcut and choosing from a clearly arranged list of window titles. "While you can use Exposť to switch windows, doing so can be very clumsy if you're the keyboard-only type of user. And don't all of these windows look just the same when they are scaled down?" [Download - 273]
SpamSieve 2.2.4 released
Michael Tsai has updated SpamSieve 2.2.4, the popular utility for filtering spam. The utility offers powerful Bayesian spam filtering from within many clients and works with any number of mail accounts, of whatever types are supported by your e-mail software (e.g. POP, IMAP, Hotmail, AOL). Version 2.2.4 brings increased message processing speed, faster processing when used with Microsoft Entourage, improved accuracy through better HTML and header processing, more Entourage options, and includes more standard blocklist rules for non-Latin character sets. The $25 utility is bundled with some email clients and is available as a free update to registered users.
DRM-free music service
A new online music store offers DRM-free digital music for $0.88 per song or $8.88 per album. MP3tunes, launched today, was started by Michael Robertson, founder and former CEO of MP3.com. All music sold at MP3tunes will work on any computer and with any portable player including the iPod. Consumers never run the risk of losing their music -- songs that have been purchased are permanently stored in a "music locker" and accessible from any Web browser. MP3tunes differs from other online music services including Apple's iTunes because it does not use digital rights management (DRM) technology, which restricts how a buyer can use the music. More than 22,000 artists are participating in the launch of MP3tunes, with 300,000 songs in high-quality 192 kbps MP3 format, although none of the major record lables have partnered with the service.
Dumbest moments in biz 04
Business 2.0 has ranked RealNetworks CEO Rob Glaser's struggle with Apple over iTunes seventh among "the 101 dumbest moments in business" in 2004. "In April, [Glaser] ... e-mails Steve Jobs suggesting that he open the iPod to other purveyors of digital music. The e-mail is immediately leaked to the New York Times. ... Glaser launches an online petition urging Apple to open up. He quickly pulls the petition offline when he discovers that most of the signers have left strident pro-Apple comments. ... Not backing down, Glaser offers a software hack that allows iPods to play songs purchased from Real. ... It turns out that if Real is acting like a hacker, it's not a particularly talented one: Several Real customers report that the software fills their screens with ads and crashes their computers. In November an Apple software update blocks the hack.
New ShuffleMate case
Bruddy Designs today announced ShuffleMate for Apple's iPod shuffle. The ShuffleMate is an accessory that combines the functionality of a case with clips and wire management. The small plastic device snuggly fits either the 512MB or 1GB versions of the iPod shuffle, offering protection and convenience... without hiding the design of the Shuffle itself. The ShuffleMate is currently in production and will be available mid-March for $17. It includes an industry standard "bull-dog" clip and is available for pre-order for $12.
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