The print media industry would benefit from an "iPod" of its own, says David Carr of the New York Times. "The newspaper business is in a horrible state. It's not that papers don't make money. They make plenty. But not many people, or at least not many on Wall Street, see a future in them. In an attempt to leave the forest of dead trees and reach the high plains of digital media, every paper in the country is struggling mightily to digitize its content with Web sites, blogs, video and podcasts." Carr talks about a device that would do for printed media what the iPod did for music. "Consider if the line between the Web and print matter were erased by a device for data consumption, not data entry - all screen, no baggage - that was uplinked and updated constantly: a digital player for the eyes."
Firefox 1.0.7 (free) updates the popular open-source alternative to Internet Explorer with the latest security and stability fixes. Firefox incorporates tabbed browsing, and supports various themes to change the look and feel of the browser. Numerous extensions can be installed that provide additional features or change functionality/behavior. [Download - 8.9MB] Two Due 2.0 ($10) is a free upgrade to the to-do list management software that supports multiple lists, recurring items, integration with a Web browser, and multiple category levels. New features include a rotate tab, a re-done interface for updating due dates, an "N/A" setting, support for transferring multiple items between lists, and more. [Download - 1.1MB] Fritz!Watch 1.0 (Ä50) monitors AVM's Fritz!Box phone (model 7050) DSL/VOIP devices and brings call histories to the desktop, and saves call histories as Microsoft Excel sheets. Fritz!Watch monitors your own calls as well as calls of all users on VoIP, ISDN or analog phone lines. [Download - 1.4MB] Catalog 1.2.2 ($20) indexes, searches, and browses volumes, easing the process of sorting media. Catalog 1.2.2 includes a modified user interface with some small speed improvements to the indexing engine. Fixes include issues with the order of indexes not being saved, and problems indexing certain incomplete files. [Download - 816KB] Saver Menu 1.0.1 ($5) brings the controls of the screen saver to the desktop, offering screen-locking and selection of a new screensaver directly from the menu bar. Changes include enhanced support for third party screen savers, improved Mac OS X 10.3 (Panther) support, improved menu responsiveness, and more. [Download - 639KB] Cast Easy 1.2 ($30) is designed to make podcasting mainstream by aiding the creation, publishing, and organization of new and previously published Podcasts. Version 1.2 adds Core Image transitions between modes in the new interface, supports Video and PDF episodes, offers a built-in iTunes preview, and provides iLife integration. [Download - 4.5MB]
Several owners of new iBooks complain that installing extra ram causes problems with Airport. Dozens of iBook owners have reported the issue for over a month without a response from Apple. Users also report system lag after installing RAM. Although the majority of affected users report problems with Airport, a small number say their wireless networking continues to function, display overall system slowness. One user writes, "I've got a new ibook 12" (refurbished, by the way) with recent airport problems. It shipped with 512mb ram and was just fine. Immediately after new 1gb stick of Crucial memory airport has become buggy. I can only get airport to go down when using a super high bandwidth networking task - running torrents seems to make airport quit within minutes."
ezGear has rolled out its ultraEars SX70 earphones with "Direct2Ear" technology, designed to be used with all varieties of Apple's iPod. The in-ear earphones use a 9mm ceramic sound driver to offer clear treble sound and bass response. Soft silicon earpieces offer a conical shape that channels sound into the ear canal, increasing stereo separation and sound quality while reducing external noise. The earphones brandish a white and grey finish, and ship with three sizes of earpieces to provide a comfortable fit. ultraEars SX70 earphones are available for $50.
Splashpower has unveiled its "Splash pad" wireless charging surface for Apple's iPod, as well as other electronic gadgets. Devices must have a receiver coil built-in, or have an adapter clipped to the back. An iPod mini and a Nokia mobile phone with a built-in coil have already been shown to work with the pads. Splashpower demonstrated the system in use and showed two prototype charging pads, one large enough to accommodate several devices, and one capable of charging just one device, according to a Macworld UK report. Lily Cheng, CEO and co-founder of Splashpower said the company is talking to auto makers about building pads into cars, and is also in talks with hotel chains interested in building the pads into room furniture. Splashpads will initially be sold in the UK and Europe, with the large models priced between $150-200 and smaller one-device pads costing between $30-40. Adapters will be priced around $15-20 each.
In brief: HPshopping.com is now allowing APO/FPO shipping via ShipitAPO, and still reportedly has a limited number of iPods from its now-defunct with Apple.... Photographs of the Bangkok Skytrain have surfaced (shown at right), depicting its large iPod advertisements.... Apple's South African website had, for a few hours last night, two new advertisements for iPod video which surfaced and then quickly disappeared.... Vertus is reducing the cost of its Photoshop plug-in tool, Fluid Mask, to $250.... Seven-Eleven stores in Japan will soon begin selling iPods, greatly increasing Apple's reach in the Japanese market.... Japanese record companies are lobbying for a new tax to be added to the retail price of portable digital music players such as Apple's iPod, likely to be two to five percent.
NewTek today released LightWave 8.5, providing 64-bit support to leverage the increased memory and computational power available to Mac OS X G5 systems. Features includes support for OpenGL 2.0, a new "Multishift" tool with an editable history, Photoshop-style texture blending modes, improved dynamics, and easier integration of third-party file formats. A new "Parts-to-Surfaces" tool eases integration of 3D objects created in other applications, while improved particle dynamics increase accuracy. The software also offers 78 new configurable keyboard shortcut options. LightWave 8 3D full standard requires Mac OS X 10.3.3 or later, and is priced at $900, the upgrade is free for registered users.
Native Instruments has announced Guitar Rig 2 ($580), the next generation of its digital guitar studio. The new version greatly expands the sonic arsenal with additional "painstakingly emulated" classic amps and cabinets, a full setup of bass gear, an extended selection of distortion pedals and effects units, a wealth of intriguing modulation features, and a powerful live looping module. The package also comes with the all-new Rig Kontrol 2, a rugged and highly versatile foot pedal unit that offers a multitude of practical control and connectivity features. The company also announced B4 II, the new version of the classic drawbar organ software instrument.
Maine's $37.2 million dollar One-to-One laptop program for seventh and eighth graders is set to end early next year, with critics citing misuse by students. Many students and teachers, however, are saying that the program has improved attentiveness in the classroom, and that children of the digital era ought to be using equipment that is familiar to them, according to a report from MaineToday.com. Studying the program revealed that students do use the computers for purposes other than education: some joined a group that followed election results online during lunch, while another student writes fictional stories during her free time.
Pangea Software today released a public beta of Nanosaur II: Hatchling 2.0b1 for upcoming Intel-based Macs. Already available to select developers, Apple will turn to the Intel-architecture in the first half of 2006. The company notes that developers with the latest Dev Kit hardware should be able to run the game almost flawlessly despite a few known issues with the beta OSís video drivers. The "Universal Binary" application, a single download for both PowerPC- and Intel-based platforms, "should also run fine on all PowerPC Macs running MacOS 10.4 or later. The updater itself is a PowerPC application, but it should run correctly under Rosetta on the Intel Macs, according to the developer."
Native Instruments has released Essentials, a well-rounded selection of creative musical tools providing professional results for a wide range of styles and genres. The bundle includes the full versions of Absynth 3, the semi-modular synthesizer; Battery 2, the versatile percussion sampler; PRO-53, the true-to-life emulation of the legendary Prophet 5 analog synthesizer; Kompakt, the versatile multi-format sampler; and one amp emulation of choice from the Guitar Combos series. The bundle is $500. The company also released the Kontakt 2 Tutorial DVD, the second release in its line of tutorial products following the successful Ansynth 3 Tutorial DVD. It will be available in December for $45.
Japanese record companies are lobbying for an iPod tax. The New York Times reports that "the industry has asked the Japanese government to charge a royalty, to be added to the retail price of portable digital music players like Apple's iPod, which has been explosively popular here. Money earned from the fee, likely to be 2 percent to 5 percent of the retail price, would go to recording companies, songwriters and artists as compensation for lost revenue from home copying." A similar MP3 player "tax" was overturned in Canada earlier this year. Some labels in Japan have been unable to come to terms with Apple, forcing some local artists to sign licensing deals directly with Apple to sell their songs on iTunes. In the US, labels are lobbying for a more flexible pricing structure in iTunes, which could be similar to the current two-tiered pricing structure in Japan.
MindCad has released Pyramid 1.5, an update to its visual outlining and brainstorming tool. Version 1.5 includes the ability to import OPML XML outlines, improved Kotoeri support for Japanese character sets, export as TIFF image, LinkBack support, Spotlight support for OS X 10.4 Tiger, improved sorting, and the ability to zoom out for a better overview of large worksheets. The update also delivers a new standalone print utility, MindCad Tiler. "Developed as a companion to Pyramid, this utility can scale and print any PDF file on multiple pages to create banners and posters. The image is automatically scaled and centered in the workspace as rows and columns are added or removed. This free utility is also available separately from the MindCad web site. A full-featured, save-disabled demo is available. The full version of Pyramid sells for $50.
The Mac OS X powered self-driving car, "Dora", finished only one of four regular runs in its attempt to qualify for the finals of the 2005 DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) Grand Challenge. The Volkswagen Touareg, which was previously covered by MacNN, uses Mac OS X running on Power Mac G5 systems, and is managed by Team Banzai. "We had a near perfect run in the morning and just needed to finish the afternoon run to qualify for the finals. Unfortunately, our over-conservative driving strategy caused Dora to think she was boxed in by a single traffic cone, thus ending her run for $2 million."
Livid Instruments today announced the Virtual V-4 Element, the latest in its series of hardware "plug-ins". The Virtual V-4 Element turns the popular Edirol V-4 video mixer into a comprehensive control surface for Livid's Union real-time video performance software. The Virtual V-4 extends the functionality of the Edirol video mixer by giving it direct access to Union's interface. The company says that hundreds of effects parameters can be assigned to the V-4's knobs, thousands of video files can be triggered, and live camera feeds manipulated, all in addition to the expansive set of tools and modules already available in Union. The built-in MIDI setup instantly programs an Edirol V4 for MIDI capability, reducing the need to navigate cumbersome menus. The Virtual V-4 is free to all existing Union users and can be downloaded with the Union 1.5 demo.
MOTU unveiled version 1.1 of the recently released Symphonic Instrument universal orchestral plug-in. The instrument includes everything you need to create complete orchestral recordings--from solo instruments and small ensembles to full orchestral masterpieces. Version 1.1 adds disk streaming and support for multiple independent outputs. Disk streaming can be enabled or disabled independently for each of the 16 instruments, enabling the application to greatly reduce RAM usage. In addition, the update allows each instrument to be independently assigned to one of 16 different stereo output pairs, which in turn can be routed to any available audio hardware outputs. It will be offered as a free update to all Symphonic Instrument plug-in users later this Fall. The full version is $300.
Apple may be preparing to open a fourth retail store in the Portland area, according to a report by The Oregonian. Although Apple declined to comment, the report says that a painted sign points to yet another store store in the "Mac town" of Portland, Oregon. "The renderings show a new building at Northwest 23rd Avenue and Glisan Street, a modern design of glass, concrete and steel. It's run-of-the-mill -- except for one feature: the 4-foot outline of an apple with a bite missing, much like the logo of a certain computer company famous for its iPod. After seeing the drawings and attending a meeting about them, city planners and neighbors say Apple Computer Inc. appears to want to build a 5,000-square-foot retail store near Pizzicato Gourmet Pizza and Kitchen Kaboodle." Apple debuted its third retail store in the Portland area earlier this year at Bridgeport Village in Tigard.
Freeverse today kicked off its week-long series of announcements with a 25 percent off sale at Freeverse.com. The sale includes every title in the catalog, including Robin Hood, Burning Monkey Solitaire, 3D Bridge Deluxe, and BumperCar, the web-filtering browser for kids. The discount will be applied automatically when users enter the Coupon Code, "bigweek" during the checkout phase. The sale will continue until the final announcement, next Monday the 17th. Freeverse has said that it will be unveiling new Mac titles and news items each weekday morning through October 17th.
QuickerTek has announced its transceiver/PC card bundle, the 250mW QuickerTek Transceiver and 802.11g Buffalo PC Card 54g for PowerBook users. The small transceiver is slightly larger than an antenna, and clips temporarily onto the PowerBook case for easy traveling. The Transceiver offers 250 miliwatts of RF power, compared to the Titanium PowerBook's 30 miliwatts. The bundle works with Titanium 15-inch PowerBooks and Aluminum 15-/17- PowerBooks. The QuickerTek transceiver/PC Card bundle is available for $250, and is backed by QuickerTek's one-year warranty.
Users will soon be able buy iPods at 7-11, greatly increasing Apple's reach in the Japanese market. The company today announced that 7-11 stores in Japan will begin selling iPods, according to United Press International. Seven-Eleven "will start selling iPods in its stores later this month. Japan's biggest convenience-store group said that it will sell five types of iPods including the iPod Nano, the digital music device's latest and smallest product, in its stores nationwide. Prices for the product at the stores will range from around $200 to $330. Customers will be able to place their orders at a local store, and the iPod will arrive two or three days later."
Seagate today announced the availability of its Barracuda 7200.9 family of internal hard drives. Barracuda 7200.9 delivers the industry's highest data density, storing up to 160GB on a single disc. The new Barracuda 7200.9 family combines up to a massive half-terabyte capacity with fast 3Gbit/second Serial ATA throughput. The drives also improve system data and hardware reliability through enhanced CRC data protection, the latest latching cables and snap-in connectors, and thin cables for improved cooling. The 7200-RPM drives also deliver up to 16 Mbytes of cache for better performance and the "quietest operation in a PC hard drive." All the drives are backed by Seagate's 5-year warranty.
IconPeople today released a beta version of MeshInstall 1.0b4 for Mac OS X, its easy to use installer creation tool specifically for the content creator market. The software offers both "Express" and "Advanced modes" for easy-to-use operation. MeshInstall Express delivers a "very fast wizard to create very common installers for music, photos, video and more," according to the developer. MeshInstall Expert Mode adds a graphical way to access every aspect of an installer project and can save individual profiles for use across multiple projects. The software also features a unique background graphic to completely change the way the installer looks. Other features include Blowfish encryption, password/serial/activation protection, company contact info, and more. It is available for Windows and Mac OS X. The company is offering the software for $30 during the beta, after which it will be $50.
Now AAPL Stock: 97.9 ( + 1.47 )
Comixology fires up $6 all-you-can-read service
Amazon-owned Comixology has launched an all-you-can-read comic subscription service. After a 30-day free trial, for $6 a month, subscribers can draw from a large selection of the Comixology library, minus Marvel and DC comics. For now, the service is US-only. http://bit.ly/1WMAOft
QuarkXPress 2016 now shipping
Quark is now shipping QuarkXPress 2016, the newest version of Quark's graphic design and desktop publishing software that now features near-WYSIWYG fixe HTML5 publishing as well as improved operability with InDesign and Illustrator and support for multi-Color Gradient Blends, OpenType Stylistic Sets, a Color Picker (Eyedropper tool), Touchpads for Pinch and Zoom (Mac only) and more. Users on any previous version of QuarkXPress (versions 3-10) can upgrade to version 2016 for $350, while QuarkXPress 2015 users can upgrade to 2016 for $180; new licenses are available for $850 (education licenses are available for $90). http://bit.ly/1OL23Pu
Kanex debuts GoPower USB-C for MacBooks
Kanex today introduced its GoPower USB-C, a portable power solution designed to charge a USB-C MacBook on the go along with an iPhone or iPad simultaneously. Featuring 15,000 mAh of power--capable of charging an iPhone 6s seven times or the USB-C MacBook one full time--the GoPower USB-C Portable Battery features one 3A USB-C port and one 2.4A port for other devices, priority charging detection technology and a pass-thru charging to your devices when the battery is plugged into a power source. http://bit.ly/1TKaf8z
i.am+ EPs earphones are Apple Store exclusive
Musician turned consumer electronics entrepreneur Will.i.am has launched a new pair of Bluetooth wireless earphones, dubbed the i.am+ EPs. The new earphones are an Apple Store exclusive, and feature large 14mm drivers and aptX support for high-quality wireless streaming. The i.am+ EPs support A2DP controls, have a 30-foot range and can last up to six hours on a charge. The design is said to be inspired by the "iconic shape of vinyl records," and are made from spun metal and paired with a woven fabric cord. When not in use, the EPs magnetically click into place around the neck. The iam+ EPs are available now at select Apple Store and Apple.com for $230, are available in gold-on-black or black-on-black. http://bit.ly/1OKVlt2
Ultimate Ears debuts UE Roll 2 speaker
On Tuesday, audio accessory maker Ultimate Ears unveiled a new version of the UE Roll Bluetooth speaker. The new UE Roll 2, which sells for $100, looks identical to the previous version, but gets about 15 percent louder. In addition, the unit now supports a Bluetooth source signal up to 100 feet away, an improvement on the original's 65-foot limit. While both the old and new versions of the UE Roll offer an IPX7 waterproof rating, the company now includes a blow-up "floaty" with the speaker to avoid the risk of prolonged exposure. The new unit will begin general shipping next month. http://bit.ly/1TJWE0Z
Philips launches Hue White Ambiance bulbs
Philips latest HomeKit-compatible Hue light bulbs have hit the market. The new Hue White Ambiance bulbs are designed to allow users to control their color temperature to enhance either focus, or create a more relaxing tone. Combined with the latest update to the Philips Hue app, the new bulbs can be set according to user "routines." The "wake-up" mode gently turns up the brightness of the bulb, while conversely, the "go to sleep" mode gradually reduces the color temperature and brightness. The Philips Hue White Ambiance starter kit retails for $130, while single bulbs sell for $30. http://bit.ly/1TJT3Qn
Pluggable Technologies three-display USB-C dock
Peripheral company Plugable Technologies today launched the industry's first wave of USB-C docking stations with both Power Delivery and DisplayPort Alternate Mode support. The Plugable UD-CA1 Docking Station integrates support for both of these new capabilities, along with the full set of standard USB docking features like wired network, audio, and extra USB ports. Model UD-ULTCDL builds on this, adding support for three total displays using DisplayLink USB virtual graphics technology. The UD-CA1 retails for $129, with the UD-ULTCDL selling for $179, and available soon. http://bit.ly/1TrVVTJ