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Pangea Payroll beta
Pangea Software today released a freeware payroll processing application along with source code. Pangea Payroll 1.0b1, available now, is designed to "help very small businesses track federal payroll tax payments for their employees. It started out as an in-house tool, but it's such a useful thing to have that the decision was made to release it publicly as freeware, and to include the source code with the download...The current version is 1.0 beta 1. It has been tested, but we're calling it beta for now in case people report any bugs right off."
Toast Titanium 6.0.9 ($80) is the latest version of the popular CD and DVD authoring software. The new release addresses several bugs and issues, including an unexpected quit when preparing a disc, left and right audio channel reversing, artifacts when encoding using High Quality, and an issue over 90% of CPU cycles is used while erasing a disc. [Download - 23.6MB]
OmniOutliner 3.0.1 ($40-$70) is an update to the organizational tool for Mac OS X. The update brings stability and performance improvments, enhanced importing and exporting, as well as minor interface and usability changes. A Japanese localization is also included with this release. [Download - Standard, Pro]
AudioUnits Manager 1.1 (free) provides a simple way to organize AudioUnits into sets, enabling users to load just the AudioUnits needed for a particular application. New in version 1.1 is a reimplemented database system for improved reliability and bug fixes, including a one that caused a crash when the version number was missing from an AudioUnit. [Download - 627KB]
Dobry Backuper 1.0.1 ($30) is an efficient backup software utillity for Mac that helps automate the creation of backups. Dobry Backuper combines friendly interface with powerful backup capabilities, such as automatic scheduled backups. Thanks to customizable scheduling tools, the user can fully automate backup process. [Download - 820KB]
iSpeak It 1.7 ($13) allows user to listen to their Word, PDF, RTF, AppleWorks, text and HTML documents on an iPod. This release adds full article downloading for News and RSS, batch processing capabilities, transfer all open documents to iTunes, improved PDF processing, and a number of bug fixes and usability enhancements. [Download - 190KB]
Gooshie Demo ($10) provides an easy way to perform daily maintenance. It puts a new menubar icon in the menu that allows instant permissions repair, running of UNIX fix-it tasks, cache deletion, and deletion of problematic "FNT" files on the system. Built-in log suggests when to run these tasks. [Download - 416KB]
Olympus Stylus Verve S
Olympus today launched its stylish, all-weather Stylus Verve S digital camera as well as two other D-series digital cameras that utilize AA batteries and offer either 4- or 5-megapixel resolution. (Earlier today we noted the ultra-slim D-630 camera.) The Stylus Verve S (pictured at right) combines a 5.0-megapixel CCD, a 1.8-inch LCD with a 160-degree view angle, 2x optical/4x digital zoom, a super macro mode, 16 shooting modes, USB 2.0 connectivity, and more. The Stylus Verve S will be available in April 2005 for $350 with a 16MB xD-Picture Card (and other accessories).
QuarkXPress 7.0 preview
Quark today offered the first look at QuarkXPress 7.0, the next version of its flagship desktop publishing application. Calling it "the most significant upgrade in the product's history," Quark said the update would be biggest rewrite of code, offering new support for both Unicode and OpenType (with 23 supported features) by rewriting the core text engine, compartmentalizing many parts of its code to make it simpler to add features now and in the future, according to eWEEK. Version 7.0, demoed at the TypoTechnica 2005 conference, will bring a new Font Fallback feature that allows publishers to set a default font when missing characters exist as well as a new Glyph Palette, which will include pop-up menu for selecting groups of related glyphs.
With Hewlett-Packard's recent division of consumer and business products, Dell and Apple become key competitors, says David Kirkpatrick of Fortune. "The PC is just one of the elements in this equation. At Apple, Steve Jobs has ably demonstrated that this is a wise strategy. There the money machine is increasingly becoming the iPod, not the Mac ... If HP could bring seamless home networking to Windows customers, it could become Apple's strongest competitor." Kirkpatrick also says that "the only way HP is going to keep up with Dell in the PC market is to find a way to turn its biggest liability--the fact that most of its sales go through third-party resellers like Best Buy--into a strength. With the rapid evolution of digital home technology, there is surely a benefit to face-to-face contact with consumers in stores."
Olympus D-630 Zoom
Olympus today launched its D-630 Zoom ultra-slim 5.0-megapixel digital camera. The camera features an elegant new design for compact portability, a brushed metal exterior, a large 2.0-inch LCD, a built-in help guide, and 10 automatic scene modes. Smaller than a deck of cards, it meausres only one-inch thick (3.1" W x 2.4" H x 1.0" D) and weighing just 4.4 ounces, easily fitting into a shirt or jacket pocket. It also offers a QuickTime move mode with sound (up to 320x240), xD-Picture Card support, USB 2.0 connectivity, and a 3x optical/4x digital zoom lens. The D-630 Zoom will be available in April 2005 for $300 and will include a Li-Ion Rechargeable Battery and Charger, USB Cable, A/V Cable, Wrist Strap, and Olympus Master Software.
m:robe music player
David Pogue takes a look at the new m:robe music player from Olympus in his New York Times column today, making several comparisons to Apple's iPod, which the device is designed to compete with. The m:robe 500i is a hard-drive-based music player like the iPod, offering a large 3.7-inch display for photo viewing. The m:robe also features a built-in digital camera and a 20GB hard drive. While Pogue credits the m:robe for its "gorgeous, darkly modern design," he raises concerns over the "sluggish" touch-screen interface, large size, relatively high price point, and short battery life. "If you had to break down the m:robe's price, you'd probably find that $350 of it pays for the electronics, $50 is for the cool quotient and the rest goes to the Super Bowl ads."
Apple rated a \"buy\"
In brief: Apple's chief financial officer Peter Oppenheimer will speak at the Goldman Sachs Technology Investment Symposium 2005 on February 24.... Microsoft has released an update for its flagship Windows Media Player to protect users from a known threat of spyware infection.... Analysts at American Technology Research reiterate their "buy" rating on Apple (AAPL), raising the target price from $84 to $99.... G-Technology today announced that the company's award winning G-RAID disk storage solutions were used by FOX Sports during the broadcast of Super Bowl XXXIX in Jacksonville, Florida.
OsiriX 1.6 update
OsiriX 1.6 is a medical image processing package for DICOM viewing on Mac OS X. It supports images produced by medical equipment (MRI, CT, PET, PET-CT) and confocal microscopy (LSM and BioRAD-PIC format). It can also read many other file formats, including TIFF, JPEG, PDF, AVI, MPEG and QuickTime. The latest version offers a new online manual, Curved MPR reconstruction for Dental CT or Coronary Cardiac-CT, a new Invert Data plugin, Raw data import, support for 32-bit DICOM files, improved JPEG2000 support, and an integrated OsiriX Burner application. Additionally, the VolumePRO optimized version is now available for VP1000 PCI cards by TeraRecon and is. The VolumePRO version offers performance improvesments of up to 200 times faster for 3D volume renderings, according to the developer.
UMAX Astra 6700
UMAX today announced the availability of its new Astra 6700 flatbed scanner. The professional-quality Astra 6700 is targeted towards the advanced consumer, film photographer, and imaging prosumer, and offers 2400 x 4800 dpi, 48-bit scanning. The Astra 6700 simplifies the scanning process with its one-touch Email, Scan and Copy buttons on the front panel, enabling users to instantly scan pictures directly to an image editing program, attach to an email, or send to a local printer. USB 2.0 displays scan previews in only three seconds. A built-in transparency cover ships with the scanner enabling scans of negatives up to 4" x 5". The Astra 6700 costs $150.
New Canon digital cameras
At PMA 2005, Canon today launched three new digital cameras, including its entry-level 8-megapixel digital SLR consumer camera for under $1000, the EOS Digital Rebel XT Camera. Canon showed two PowerShot (A510 and A520) models as well as introduced two new Digital ELPH Cameras (PowerShot SD400 and SD500). Canon's new 8.0 megapixel EOS Digital Rebel XT camera (pictured at right) features its next-generation DIGIC II image processing technology and a wide range of custom and manual controls in a smaller, more compact body than its predecessor. Due in March, the EOS Digital Rebel XT Camera will be available with ($1000) and without ($900) Canon's high-quality EF-S 18-55 mm f/3.5-5.6 II zoom lens. Canon also said that it dropped the on the existing 6.3-megapixel model to $800 (street price with a lens).
Vintage Apple ads
Following the recently release of newly-discovered 1984 Macintosh introduction footage, Miles Buck has digitized and published three vintage Apple ads. The clips include: An Apple IIc commercial (not the popular Alan Greenspan ad), the original "Test Drive a Macintosh" commercial, and a unique product "montage" clip which features Macintosh, IIc, and other Apple products of the era. "Interestingly, this last clip uses the theme 'I'm so Excited' by the Pointer Sisters, but has unique, specific Lyrics that seem to fit the montage well," Buck observes. The footage comes from a documentary shot in late 1984 to early 1985 on Apple. Rare Interviews of Lee Clow (of Chiat Day), Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, John Sculley, Mike Murray, and Regis McKenna, were among those filmed for the documentary.
New Canon camcorders
Canon will showcase three new digital camcorders, a new photo printer, and an all-in-one photo printer/scanner at the Photo Marketing Association trade show, February 20-23, in Orlando. New products include the Optura 50 and 60 and ZR400 camcorders, the Compact Photo Printer SELPHY CP600, and the PIXMA MP760 Photo All-In-One.
FotoChute storage device
SmartDisk today introduced FotoChute, a portable USB-based photo storage device. Users can plug the device directly into a digital camera to download and store up to 20,000 photos. The device offers a 20GB internal hard drive, and costs $250. "Simply plug FotoChute into the USB port of your camera and, with one touch, copy and safely store your photos." FotoChute will be available in March directly from SmartDisk and from its distributors.
When Apple enters into the Oklahoma City retail market later this year with an Apple Store at the Penn Square Mall, the competition will include long-standing authorized Apple resellers. Bennie McElhaney has sold and serviced Macs for more than 20 years - according to a NewsOK.com article - first at a store in Norman and now as president of PROMac Computers along Northwest Expressway. However, PROMac does not plan to launch a lawsuit, as other resellers have done nationwide: "I don't think Apple owes me a profit," McElhaney said. Initial concerns have turned to confidence, says McElhaney, "at first, we were concerned, but we adjusted our business model at the end of the year and will offer several unique programs that Apple can't offer." In far north Oklahoma City, Wichita, Kan.-based Haddock Computers operates a similar store to PROMac. "The more people who are selling Apple, the more the market share grows for them," Haddock said. "I don't see it as that big a problem."
Sony iPod competitor
Sony said it would release a product by the end of the year to compete with the iPod, reports Business World. "We are confident of being able to offer by the end of the year a product that is much more competitive than the iPod," president Kunitake Ando said. Ando said Apple's success was in developing a product that is simple to use. "We have to develop software that makes use of our products more intuitive and simple," he told reporters. Ando also dismissed rumours the company will buy Apple, saying it "has become too expensive because of the success of iPod." Chairman and chief executive Nobuyuki Idei added: "We have put in place a very aggressive plan to become number one again" in portable music.
MathLink for AS 1.2
uni software has MathLink for AppleScript 1.2, an update to the Scripting Addition that makes it possible to use Mathematica as a computational engine in AppleScript programs. It also allows external functions written in AppleScript to be called from within the Mathematica environment. Version 1.2 adds support for remote Mathematica kernels. AppleScript programs can now carry out computations with a Mathematica kernel installed on a remote machine. Because MathLink is a platform-independent communication protocol, the remote Mathematica kernel can run on any platform supported by Mathematica. Calculations can also be performed on remote computing clusters driven by gridMathematica.
Downsides to switching
Technology guru Walter Mossberg says that switching to the Mac may not be for everyone, despite the advantages of improved security. Switching, he says, makes the most sense for mainstream customers: "...switching to the Mac has downsides, and it isn't the best course for some groups of Windows users. So here's a brief guide to which types of users might find switching inadvisable. In general, the best candidates for a switch to the Mac are those who use their computers overwhelmingly for common, mainstream consumer tasks. These include e-mail, instant messaging and Web browsing; word processing, spreadsheets and presentations; working with photos, home videos and digital music; and playing and creating CDs and DVDs."
Sand Hill Xtension 5.3
Sand Hill Engineering has updated its Mac OS X home automation application XTension to include support for two USB-native controllers. X10's ActivehomePRO ($50) USB hardware device is the first device to support all of the RF and powerline functions including the security devices, in a single box. The Smarthome PowerLincUSB ($30) provides all X10 powerline functions. XTension 5.3 adds a new search/replace function for global and unit scripts as well as offers separation of powerline, wireless and security addresses, supporting a total of over 750 active units in a home system. For a limited time, purchases of ActivehomePRO receive a $50 discount on XTension ($150) software. A free version of XTension is also available.
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