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Xbox 360 demos on Macs
Microsoft's Xbox 360 demo kiosks at the E3 gaming expo were not powered by actual console prototypes, but rather PowerMac G5 developer kits. Last week, we reported that the clips of video games supporting Microsoft's new Xbox 360 console were recorded from Apple test machines. According to a report by AnandTech, developers had to significantly reduce the image quality of their demos, resulting in "lackluster appearance" in some cases. "In Microsoft's own Xbox 360 booth, we saw tons of kiosks running upcoming 360 titles that were actually playable. Games like Top Spin 2 and Need for Speed were playable, but for some reason they didn't actually look all that great for a next-generation console." The demos apparently suffered from poor anti-aliasing, due to the PowerMacs' limited video cards (GeForce 6800 Ultra or an ATI Radeon X800 XT). The final Xbox 360 console will have 4X AA enabled on all titles. Still, "Apple should be quite happy."
Mac OS X Server 10.4.1
Apple today released Mac OS X Server 10.4.1, after releasing the free client update earlier this week. The update brings security fixes as well as improvements for file sharing using AFP and SMB/CIFS network file service; software Update Server notifications and synchronization of package downloads; displaying published Weblog Server content after a reboot; binding to LDAP and Active Directory during system startup; remote management using the Server Admin application; creating and burning disk images using Disk Utility and System Image Utility; and compatibility with third party applications and devices. More details are available from the Apple website.
Mac OS X 10.4.1 security
Apple today detailed the four security fixes included in the Mac OS X 10.4.1 update released earlier this week. The first Tiger update--for both the client and server versions--incorporated fixes for Bluetooth, Dashboard, the OS kernel, and the ability to launch applications from a locked machine. Apple said the update fixes an auto-install security issue with Dashboard widgets; a problem in the Bluetooth file and object exchange services that could be used to access files outside of the default directory; a problem where users could discover the names of files placed in normally unsearchable places; and a problem where users with physical access to a system with a locked screensaver could start background applications.
Yahoo! vs. Apple
Yahoo! faces an uphill battle, after entering the digital music industry earlier this month, according to an article in BusinessWeek. The report says that the company faces the difficult prospect of changing customers' attitude toward "renting" music and that its current price model is not sustainable for longer term profits. Apple, on the other hand, has little incentive to change to a subscription model: "Since [Apple] makes nearly all of its music profits from the iPod, it has little incentive to create a subscription service -- or to make iPods compatible with those that exist. Simply put, there's not enough demand." Furthermore, the labels are wary of the current Yahoo! pricing scheme, believing that Yahoo is charging too little and could get consumers hooked on unsustainably low prices, according to the report: "The labels are very sensitive to the devaluation of music."
Mathematica CalcCenter 3
Wolfram Research today released Mathematica CalcCenter 3, its software solution that delivers "the power of Mathematica" in an ease-to-use calculator interface, which the company says can get users up and running in as little as 10 minutes. Based on CalculationCenter, CalcCenter v3 has been upgraded with the latest features of the Mathematica 5 product family. Data analysis now up to 70 times faster, according to Wolfram. Version 3 also offers a new-generation of optimized numerical solvers for ordinary and partial differential equations, more improvements for Mac OS X, and support for computations with exact fractions as well as vector and array functions in numeric solvers. The update also more flexible import/export (DICOM, PNG, SVG, STDS, DXF, FITS, STL, and sparse matrix format)s. It is available for $600.
iPod It for Tiger
ZappTek today announced the release of iPod It 2.4.3 ($15), a free update for current users. This release provides Tiger compatibility, including support for the new versions of iCal and Mail, and improves Stickies and News processing. iPod It supports transferring information from Entourage, Stickies, Mail, Address Book and iCal to your iPod. Users can even download weather forecasts and news. "Who needs a PDA when you have an iPod?...Transfer your PIM data to your iPod so it's available whenever you need it."
OS X builds
Knowledge Base roundup: An Apple support document catalogs the various Mac OS X builds associated with each major release.... If you're using an Epson Stylus Color 740 printer with Mac OS X 10.4, you may come across a situation in which a print job stops immediately when you try to print.... An Apple document explains the different song formats (codecs) and sample rates that work with the iPod.... Some messages that Disk Utility reports when checking permissions can be safely ignored.... After updating to Mac OS X 10.3.9, a user who has account limitations may be unable to log in to the computer.
Mackie ships Tracktion 2
Mackie today announced that Tracktion 2 is now available. The music production software offers a single-screen interface for multiple audio functions--from audio recording to MIDI production to mixing and mastering. Version 2 features an enhanced MIDI editor, unlimited track support, sample rates of up to 192kHz, import/export of all major file types, drag & drop editing, track freezing, VST instrument/Rplugin support, ReWire 2.0 support, MIDI programming with step recording, QuickTime support, a 64-bit mix engine, a built-in sampler, improved sync support, MIDI controller mapping, and a full suite of professional plugin effects and instruments (IK Multimedia, LinPlug, reFX, Acuma Labs, Raw Material Software, etc.). It runs on Mac OS X 10.3 or later. Tracktion 2 is available online for $150 or as a limited demo.
Mac Digital Clip Library
Imagine Products today released Mac Digital Clip Library and HD Log v3.0 with a new, "Video Assist" mode that auto-digitizes on-the-fly preview or edit quality, timecode accurate clips from video camcorders. Mac Digital Clip Library is a turnkey digital library solution for creating a web-based solution to share logs, thumbnails and video clips. It includes HD Log Gold logger, a registered MySQL Database, and Web Search module with shopping cart. Mac Digital Clip Library is available for $7000 and includes HD Log Gold, MySQL library module and Web search shopping cart.
PsiberAudio has released its much anticipated PAS2 & PAS2+ preamps, featuring built in iPod cradles and audiophile grade power supplies. It features a white enamel steel enclosure, teflon covered silver wire, and a front panel selector can select from iPod, iPod Shuffle, CD, and Aux. The device also features a high quality Alps Blue Velvet Potentiometer, a built in cradle and audiophile grade regulated power supply for the iPod, and gold plated and Teflon insulated RCA input jacks. PAS2+ features a double buffered Burr Brown Subwoofer output.
LifeDrive vs iPod
Tim Beyers of The Motley Fool says palmOne's new LifeDrive "looks sexy" and is "pretty functional," but cannot replace the iPod. palmOne is billing the new handheld as an alternative to Apple's iPod, and even as a laptop replacement. "Look, I like palmOne, but let's be serious," Beyers writes. "There's little chance that the LifeDrive will displace the iPod or my PowerBook. But I can't blame the company for trying." Beyers speculates palmOne is trying to regain lost market share. The PDA market during the first quarter grew 25% over the same period a year ago, but palmOne was no longer the market leader. Rival Research In Motion shipped more units, grabbing the top spot with more than 20% of the market while palmOne dropped to 18%, a level it hasn't seen since the mid-'90s.
In brief: osViews has published an editorial in which the author draws parallels between Frank Lloyd Wright's philosophy for design and that of Apple's Steve Jobs.... Macsurfshop has closed its doors "for good," according to a note posted on its website (remaining stock is now up for auction).... Google has posted a Java application to allow Mac and Unix users to use the Google Video Upload Service.... MacMonkies tomorrow will release its Friday GUI Edition with 3 new desktops along with 2 new icon sets.... Red Hat has posted a tutorial on Installing Fedora Core on the Mac mini, including how to create a dual-boot option, while another user writes about creating a battery-powered Mac Mini.
New Creatures games
Kutoka Interactive, producer of the popular Mia "edutainment" software series, has announced the launch of three new game titles. The titles are Didi & Ditto First Grade: The Wolf King, Creatures: Exodus, and Creatures: Village. All three games come as hybrid CDs, meaning they contain both Macintosh and Windows versions. Didi & Ditto, and both "Creatures" games, will sell for $20 each. The games will be available in September.
ImageWell 2.0223 (free) is a compact, easy-to-use image editor for quick manipulation and upload to the Web. This version adds Tiger support, Traditional Chinese localization, and minor bug fixes. ImageWell is also available in French, German, and Spanish localizations. [Download - 348KB]
Guitar Combos ($200) is a series of three amp emulations that combine studio-grade sound quality with maximum ease of use - the Twang Combo, the AC Box Combo and the Plexi Combo. All three combos consist of a classic tube amplifier with a speaker box and several integrated effects, giving musicians and producers straightforward access to a wide range of musical guitar tones. [Download - form]
Maquarium 2.2 ($24) is an incremental update to the aquarium management software. This release focuses on Mac OS 10.4 (Tiger) compatibility, adding complete support for Tiger by adding a metadata importer which enables Maquarium files to be searched using Spotlight and adding Spotlight searching support from within Maquarium. [Download - 870KB]
fScanX 1.0.6 ($150) provides Mac OS X native software to use the Fuji fi-4120C & fi-4120C2 scanners via USB, with throughput of up to 25 ppm (200dpi monochrome) and resolutions up to 600dpi RGB. The update adds support for long-document scanning (up to 8.5x28 inch), corrects an issue with creating TIFF files not recognized on OS X versions prior to Tiger, and is verified to work on Tiger.
DockFun! 4.5.6 ($20) is a tool to run an infinite number of Mac OS X Docks. The new version adds compatibility with Mac OS X Tiger. Users can organize Docks "as you'd do with iTunes playlist." It supports Hotkeys, Autolaunch, Virtual Docks, and more. [Download - 1.1MB]
Mossberg prefers iTunes
Walter Mossberg of the Wall Street Journal has been testing new music services, and while he likes Yahoo's service, "whether it can dislodge Apple is another matter." Mossberg says he strongly prefers Yahoo Music Unlimited to Real's revamped Rhapsody service, but he still questions subscription services in general. "There are big downsides to the rental model. First, all the songs you ever downloaded will die and become unplayable if you stop paying your monthly subscription anytime in the future. Second, the subscription fees -- $15 a month currently -- are pretty stiff, especially for younger users. Third, the rental services are far more complicated than iTunes, because they sell several categories of songs, with different rules for using them, and offer multiple subscription plans with different privileges."
In brief: We've posted a review comparing two iPod cases: the OtterBox oPod and the Matias iPod Armor.... Walter Mossberg of the Wall Street Journal still prefers Apple's iTunes over subscription schemes.... Microsoft this week made public its answer to Mac OS X Tiger's Spotlight desktop search tool.... For his second iPod giveaway, Mike Davidson challenges participants to take a historically significant photo or video and modify it to include an iPod Shuffle.... Students in Scotland are to be rewarded with iPods and Xbox consoles for eating healthy foods under a new incentive scheme for school dinners.... ZDNet UK says the iPod has been successful due to its simple feature set, rather than abundance of features.
iPod shuffle contest
For his second iPod giveaway, Mike Davidson has launched "Great iPods in History." The contest challenges participants to take a historically significant photo or video and modify it to include an iPod Shuffle. "You can modify famous photos, upload audio narratives, shoot video, or even design a mini-site. I expect most of the entries to be altered photos, which works well for this particular contest, but I just wanted to remind everyone that rules can always be broken. You are free to submit anything you like, as long as it's yours and it was created specifically for this contest." Davidson provided a slightly modified 1945 Alfred Eisenstadt photo as an example. This contest, along with the remaining seven, will run for two weeks. The deadline for entries is midnight, May 31st.
ZDNet UK looks at the success of unique handheld devices such as the iPod and BlackBerry. "Each has managed to succeed where general purpose handheld PCs have failed, even though there is nothing they can do -- in theory at least -- that a general purpose device cannot." While general purpose handheld PCs can receive email, organize your day, and play music, they are not what the public is looking for, the article explains. "At the CIO discussion evening at London's RSA on Wednesday night complexity was singled out as the bÍte noir of every IT Director [...] Businesses simply do not want more functionality on the desktop: not every user needs the same application set. After all, you wouldn't let a municipal gardener loose with a combine harvester."
Students get iPods
Students in Scotland are to be rewarded with iPods and Xbox consoles for eating healthy foods under a new incentive scheme for school dinners. The initiative, which is similar to supermarket loyalty card schemes, involves children using a swipecard to build points for buying healthy food which are then traded for prizes. Glasgow City Council has rolled out the programme to all 29 secondary schools in the city after a trial scheme proved a great success. Around 30,000 pupils will be able to redeem their points for a selection of goods - from cinema tickets and book tokens to top-of-the-range iPod players.
Motorola on iTunes
Motorola Chief Executive Ed Zander said mobile phone carriers do not oppose his company's plan to sell a phone that doubles as a music player. "There is no resistance on anybody's part," Zander said. "I don't know where these rumors got started." Zander said the phone, known as Rokr, will be out in "a couple of more months," reiterating comments he made in April. Schaumburg-based Motorola said in July of 2004 that it was developing a phone that uses Apple Computer's iTunes software to play music. "When we did this deal last year, we knew exactly what carriers were interested in," he said. Zander said he had a Rokr with him but declined to show it to reporters. "I love it," he said.
Miglia is offering Director's Cut SCART ($250), a device for transferring VHS tapes into high quality digital duplicates. Users simply connect the Director's Cut to a VCR with the SCART cable, and to a Mac with the FireWire cable. Users can then capture the video to a video application such as iMovie, Ulead VideoStudio, and Pinnacle Studio. Miglia also released MediaBank HS-Ri ($340), high security internal storage solution. Featuring two easily removable hard drive trays and hardware support for Raid 1 (mirroring), HS-Ri is one of the "most secure" storage solutions. Data is written to two hard drives simultaneously, preventing total data loss if a drive were to fail. Hardware support for mirroring removes potential software conflicts and guarantees a faultless and automatic backup of vital data. [updated]
Canada store, Kyoto icons
In Brief: Apple continues to offer more refurbished Macs with new low-cost iMac G5s (starting at $900), 14-inch iBooks (starting at $1,100), current generation 1.5GHz 12-inch PowerBooks (starting at $1,300), dual-processor G5 desktops (starting at $1,500), and low-cost 12-inch Books ($800).... Firewheel Design and IconBuffet has released another premium-quality stock icon collection: Kyoto ($140) is "a crisp, isometric icon collection, and includes file formats for web designers, as well as Mac OS and Windows XP developers."... Apple hopes to shake up retailing in Canada by using "Genius" sales clerks when it opens its first Canadian store on Saturday in Toronto.... Virtual Programming is now offering the graphic, first-person adventure game RHEM (£15)--with brain-teasing puzzles--as a digital download.
Konfabulator 2.0 released
MacWireless.com today shipped its new line of AirPort antennas, including 'whip' antennas as a pair of high-end outdoor omni antennas. The 4dBi whip AirPort antenna ($50) is designed to shape and extend the signal from the Mac's built-in AirPort card (PowerBooks, PowerMacs, iMacs and eMacs) or other wireless card.. The adaptable design, however, may require some modification on some Mac models (e.g., the 12-inch PowerBook). The Outdoor Omni Antennas are designed for general outdoor/indoor wireless coverage as well as specialized applications such as RV or marine use. It is available in two signal outdoor strengths (with mounting kit): 6.5dBi ($80) and 9dBi ($100) as well as two indoors models (for MacWireless products and AirPort base stations): 4dBi ($20) and 5dBi ($50).
Widgets for Panther
Mesa Dynamics today released a utility that allows users to run third-party widgets under Mac OS X Panther. The Amnesty Widget Browser .75b, now in public beta, allows Panther users to run third-party Dashboard widgets--a technology previously only available under Mac OS X Tiger: "Panther users--for the first time--can load, run and interact with Dashboard widgets on the desktop. With the exception of widgets owned by Apple Computer which are not accessible, Amnesty Widget Browser's performance in Panther nearly replicates its user experience under Tiger." The Dashboard widgets to live directly on the Panther desktop via an icon in the system menu bar. The final version will ship in the third-quarter of 2005.
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