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Apple today finally launched its iTunes Music Store in Australia, offering Australian music fans Apple's innovative features, breakthrough pricing and seamless integration with iPod. Now available in 21 countries, iTunes features the most music of any digital music store in Australia with over one million songs from major and independent record labels and over 1,000 music videos. Songs are priced at just $1.69 per song and $3.39 per video, while most albums are priced at $16.99 including GST. "We're thrilled to bring the revolutionary iTunes Music Store to Australia," said Eddy Cue, Apple's vice president of iTunes. "iTunes features the largest catalogue of local and international music in Australia with over one million songs, enabling music fans to purchase their favourites with one click and have them automatically sync to their iPod."
In Brief: Apple has created an iTunes download link for Australian users, ahead of a special event planned for Tueday, October 25th.... Apple has begun shipping its new Front-Row enabled iMacs with builtin iSight, according to one reader (following our note about new HiRes PowerBook G4 shipment earlier today).... In response to customer frustration, Autobytel.com has launched an "iPod Center" featuring tips on the various iPod integration options on the market, a step-by-step installation video, and more.... Splasm has released Podner 1.0, a new application devoted to creating/converting media into an iPod-compatible format, while Digigami today released MovieToGo, a simple (and free) batch processing application for converting QuickTime movies into iPod-compatible 320 x 240 H.264 movie files.... A recent customer behavior study by Intelliseek found that consumers who own iPods are significantly more likely to create and spread consumer-generated media (CGM) on the internet. [updated]
Splasm Software has released Podner 1.0, a new application devoted to creating home movies and video clips in an iPod-compatible format. Users can simply drag a movie file to the Podner window to complete the file conversion and the transfer to iTunes. The utility also optionally allows users to tweak the settings. Podner supports both MPEG-4 and H.264, with an adjustable quality control, genre and naming tools. Both H.264 singlepass and multipass ecoding options are supported. Podner is priced at $10 and requires Mac OS X 10.4, QuickTime 7.0.3 and iTunes 6.0.
MySQL AB today announced the general availability of MySQL 5.0, the most significant product upgrade in the company's ten-year history. The new MySQL 5.0 combines enterprise-grade reliability and performance with advanced SQL 2003 standard-compliant features. MySQL 5.0 features support for stored procedures, triggers, views, cursors, XA distributed transactions, new federated and archive storage options, SQL mode for server-enforced data integrity, instance manager for remote options, and a new migration toolkit. "We are quite proud to deliver this new version of MySQL -- as it includes the most-requested features from our users, customers and partners," said Marten Mickos, CEO of MySQL AB. "With their feedback, we have been able to provide important enterprise-class features while staying true to MySQL's renowned heritage of high-performance, reliability and ease-of-use." The production version of MySQL 5.0 is available now under either open source (GPL) or commercial MySQL licenses.
The recent lawsuit filed against Apple regarding iPod nano's allegedly fragile screen has some analysts questioning whether the negative publicity will affect Apple's iPod sales. This couples with earlier reports of Nano screens cracking easily, and Apple's acknowledgement that less than one-tenth of one percent of iPod nanos did ship with a problem. Ars Technica, however, put the Nano through a brutal stress test by throwing it from a speeding vehicle at highway speeds, and some Apple fans believe that the latest court case is "a good example of another frivolous lawsuit in a society where many such lawsuits exist." The iPod is "still the name" in MP3 players according to an article from Motley Fool, but despite Apple's reputation for producing elegant products, the Apple brand could receive "a few scratches" as a result, according to the article.
Apple currently dominates Amazon's list of top-selling computers, with the top three positions held by its iBook and iMac offerings. The number one computer on the list is Apple's 12" iBook G4, which sells for $1000. Second is Apple's 20" iMac G5, which was unveiled last week by Apple. The new iMac is not shipping yet, but pre-orders have already made it a top seller. Third is Apple's 14" iBook G4, which sells for $1300 and offers more storage and memory than its 12" counterpart.
A recent Autobytel online survey found that 81 percent of respondents said they, or someone in their family, owns an iPod, yet only one-third of these iPod users said they've been able to use it successfully in their vehicle. In response to this, Autobytel.com has launched an "iPod Center" featuring tips on the various iPod integration options on the market, a step-by-step installation video, and more. Autobytel's Auto Information Center (AIC) reports that there are 12 times as many 2006 models with MP3 capability as there were in 2003, and that there are currently 598 new models featuring MP3 player capabilities on the market.
A recent customer behavior study by Intelliseek found that consumers who own iPods are significantly more likely to create and spread consumer-generated media (CGM) on the internet, a trend likely to increase with the incorporation of video content into iPods. According to the study, iPod users are twice as likely to have authored a blog than consumers who do not own MP3 players, and they outpace other MP3 owners on creating and posting content online. iPod users are also 2.5 times as likely to exchange text messages on cellular phones (59 percent versus 24 percent of non-owners), three times as likely to take photos with a camera phone (45 percent versus 15 percent), and three times as likely to download video clips and movies to a personal computer (47 percent versus 16 percent).
Digigami today released MovieToGo, a simple batch processing application for converting QuickTime movies into iPod-compatible 320 x 240 H.264 movie files. Converting movies to fifth-generation iPod format entails opening the movie file in MovieToGo, clicking on the "Convert to Video iPod" button, and naming the new movie file. Once the movie conversion is complete, double-clicking on the new movie file will automatically add it to the iTunes video library. MovieToGo is available for free, and requires QuickTime 7.0.3 or later and iTunes 6 or later.
ATEN Technology today rolled out two audio-enabled DVI video switches designed specifically for the SOHO and SMB environment. The VS-261/461 DVI video switch solutions, available as two- and four-port devices, combine DVI video functionality with audio support. The devices switch among two and four DVI or analog media sources for output on a single display and set of speakers. Both models boast high resolution levels of 1600 x 1200 and include front panel switches, as well as an infrared remote control for video source selection. Both models are fully compliant with DVI specifications, feature Plug-n-Play installation, are designed to be stackable, and provide an LED display for easy status monitoring. The VS-261 and VS-461 are available for $200 and $300, respectively.
OpenOffice.org has released the latest version of its open-source/free productivity suite, OpenOffice.org 2.0. Interoperable with every major office suite, including Microsoft Office, version 2 adds a new database module and advanced XML capabilities as well as native support for the internationally standardized OpenDocument format, which several countries, as well as the state of Massachusetts, have established as the default for office documents. The new database module, Base, complements the word processor (Writer), spreadsheet manager (Calc), presentation manager (Impress) and drawing tool (Draw) modules. In addition, version 2 features a redesigned user interface, improved PDF support, an improved spreadsheet module, enhanced desktop integration and the ability to easily create, edit and use XForms. Version 2 is currrently only available for Mac OS X via the X11 window system.
NRG Software today announced an update to its parcel shipment solution for Mac OS X, UPS OnLine Tools Shipping Solution. The Package Toolkit integrates UPS OnLine Tools directly into a FileMaker Pro 7/8 compatible database. Customers can access critical shipping information without having to leave FileMaker Pro or go to the UPS web site to re-key data, import/export, use UPS WorldShip on a PC, or setup complex ODBC data exchange. Shipping weights can be captured via Mettler-Toledo PS 60 or Fairbanks Ultegra digital scales, and labels can be output to Zebra/Eltron thermal printers or any laser printer. The Package Toolkit provides UPS tracking, rates and services selection, time-in-transit, address validation, and greater control over shipping processes throughout multiple offices, branches, dealers, or retail stores. The NRG Package Toolkit is priced at $300 (system requirements were unavailable).
FileMaker today announced that it will feature its FileMaker Education Starter Kit, offering free K-12 database solutions for educators at the 2005 New Jersey School Boards Association Workshop and Exhibition on October 26-28 at the Atlantic City Convention Center in Atlantic City, NJ. Free trial copies of the kit will be distributed to booth attendees during the show. A case study presentation on information management will be presented by Anthony Dragona, Business Administrator of the Union City Board of Education on Thursday, October 27, at 11:15 a.m. Dragona will outline how the Union City Board of Education deploys FileMaker to create electronic efficiency, meet the challenges of empowering 11 schools to complete individual budgets, and enable the Human Resources department to migrate to a "paperless" environment.
Feral interactive today announced that Lionhead's latest game, Black and White 2, is in development for the Macintosh. Black and White 2 is the sequel to the original -- and highly successful -- Black and White game. The game mixes up strategy and sim genres as "you play a young god in search of followers, returning to the once innocent world of Eden. This land, however, has changed. The inhabitants have lost their innocence and have developed new technology, as well as weapons. Every decision you make -- whether harsh or benevolent -- has an impact. Each action or inaction prompts changes to buildings, the environment and wildlife, all altering to reflect your choices. With the help of a gigantic Creature that you raise from infancy, you must earn the respect and devotion of the natives. How you choose to do that, whether through nurturing them or terrorizing them, is up to you. Will your deity herald peaceful coexistence, or domination, war and conques?" (Availability, system requirements and pricing were unavailable.)
Microsoft vice president and XNA chief architect J Allard expressed in an interview with ign.com his hopes to be more cooperative with other companies, such as Apple, when speaking about the XBox 360, and the ability to plug an iPod into the device. Allen said: "I'm pro consumer on this one to the end. Anybody in my company who thought this was a bad idea to plug in Sony or Apple devices into this thing, I ended that conversation pretty quickly. This is the right thing to do for consumers. Once they invest $500 in their digital media library, you can't ask them to go buy a 360 music player and a 360 digital camera, and a 360... NO! They got their stuff. They're going to want to plug it in. We're going to be open here, guys. And if anything, I wish we could be more cooperative with the other companies that are doing those things. And if Sony or Apple were to call me up and say, "hey, we want to [do] some special things with the 360," i'm on it. I think it would not be in anybody's interest to say, we're not going to work with 360. It's good for them, it's good for us, and it's good for consumers."
MiNews 1.0 (free) is an RSS news aggregator application with an easy-to-use graphical interface. Features include built-in web browsing of news items, news item bookmarks, a share feature that integrates with your address book to notify contacts of interesting news items, and more. [Download - 2.5MB] Screen Calipers 3.2 ($20) provides an on-screen measurement tool which resemble real life vernier calipers in both form and function. Screen Calipers float over other applications allowing quick and easy measurements. [Download - 395KB] Sleep Monitor 2.1 (€20) monitors and profiles the system's energy use, and can help identify power management problems. Sleep Monitor can build an energy profile spanning days, weeks, and months which contains a record of all the power events, battery changes, and energy state information. [Download - 1MB] Alarm Clock Pro 7.5 ($16) is a fully customizable time management system that can read an inspirational quote every hour, time events, set appointment reminders, calculate time differences, and perform various system functions. Alarm Clock Pro integrates with QuickTime and iTunes to play internet radio stations, MP3s, movies, web broadcasts, and CDs. [Download - 4.6MB] Stockpile 1.0 ($25) is an easy to use home inventory management application for Mac OS X, designed to keep track of belongings collected over the years. Basic item information includes item name, make, model, serial number, the insurance coverage category it falls under, its location in your home, the condition of the item, the date the item was purchased, the purchase price, and the current value of the item. [Download - 1.9MB] Baywatch 1.0 (free) adds eBay auctions to iCal and sets an alarm for the auction ending. Baywatch is compatible with Safari, Firefox, OmniWeb, and internet Explorer. Features include worldwide usage with a time zone setting, full iCal alarm type control with message, sound and mail-alarm, and more. [Download - 411KB]
Difusi today unveiled its videoFlip and videoValet (shown at right), two leather cases designed to protect fifth-generation iPods. Both cases are made from soft black top grain leather, feature reinforced exterior stitching to provide a snug fit, and offer easy access to all ports and controls. The videoValet can be attached and carried on a belt loop, a key clip, a removable swivel belt clip with a metal spring, or a hand-held lanyard strap. The videoValet ships with a lifetime replacement warranty and is expected to be available by mid-November for both 30GB and 60GB fifth-generation iPod models. It will be priced at $30. Pre-orders are available from the Difusi website at a 40 percent discount ($17) for a limited time.
Central Park Media (CPM) is the first anime company to provide anime content for Apple's new video-capable iPod. The company said that users can download the first episode of its upcoming Armored Trooper VOTOMS at as well as view the trailer for the "shockingly horrific" Kakurenbo: Hide & Seek, which scheduled to premiere on a special pre-Halloween midnight broadcast on Cartoon Network's Adult Swim on Saturday, October 29. CPM is also offering a trailer of Hammerboy, winner of numerous prestigious awards on both sides of the Pacific. CPM also said will be making available more full episodes and trailers, including Descendants of Darkness, Revolutionary Girl Utena, Shadow Star Narutaru, etc.
In Brief: One MacNN reader forwarded a shipment confirmation his new 17-inch HiRes PowerBook.... WiebeTech has launched an updated and enhanced website.... A former Apple executive has been named CEO of ReQuest, a company that makes high-end digital jukebox-like servers.... Jack Campbell, who designed and manufactured the DVBase Ltd. CNC machined Aluminum DVBase iPod stand in 2002, is offering 90 of the original units for sale for $50 (plus $6 shipping).... A Yahoo! email list is designed for persons interested in creating video and multimedia for the "not-a-video iPod".... ... Central Park Media (CPM) says it is the first anime company to provide anime content for Apple's new video-capable iPod.... Difusi unveiled its videoFlip and videoValet (shown at right), two leather cases designed to protect fifth-generation iPods. [updated]
LecShare has released LecShare 1.0, a new application that converts Microsoft PowerPoint presentations into web pages that meet Federal disability requirements and into Microsoft Word documents for easy distribution. Made with REALbasic, LecShare allows users to easily enter accessibility information necessary to create web pages that meet Section 508 standards and WAI’s Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). LecShare creates standards compliant XHTML and CSS which is compatible with virtually any web browser. LecShare also creates Microsoft Word documents containing images of all the slides from a PowerPoint presentation. The Word document can be used by the audience to take notes directly on their laptops. Individual licenses may be purchased online for $40, while Higher Education Site Licenses, which allow an unlimited number of installations, cost $0.10 per full time enrolled student (with a $400 minimum).
Successful assaults by viruses and other malware on the Mac operating system are rare as it has better security and attackers are less keen, says Stephen Wildstrom of BusinessWeek. "There is endless debate among security experts about whether the paucity of successful assaults on Apple's OS X is attributable to better security or attackers' lack of interest in an operating system whose share of the market is in single digits. I think it's some of both." Wildstrom says one reason Mac OS X offers inherently better security is that it was designed with relatively little concern for compatibility with earlier versions, while Windows is full of compromises so that it works with older and less secure operating systems. Wildstrom also points out that "the ablest writers of viruses, spyware, and worms, are motivated more by profit than glory, and Windows, with 90%-plus of the market, is where the money is."
Motorola's iTunes ROKR phone is being called flop by one analyst based on its high-return rate and slow sales. A survey of distributors, call center workers, and retailers, found the phones have a much higher return rate than other new phones. "As many as six times more customers are returning the Rokr phones than is normal for new handsets, according to American Technology Research analyst Albert Lin." Motorola Executive Officer Ed Zander blames the high return rate and customer dissatisfaction on poor marketing says he plans to fix it, according to Bloomberg. "We got off to a little bit of a rough start," Zander said in an interview after Motorola reported on Oct. 18 that third- quarter profit tripled, driven by more-popular phones such as the Razr. "People were looking for an iPod and that's not what it is. We may have missed the marketing message there."
Speck Products has announced six new cases for the new 30GB and 60GB iPod video. Similar to Speck's nano cases, the new line-up for the fifth generation iPods has been streamlined and tailored towards the new video iPods: the SkinTight skins and SeeThru hard cases are available in two sizes (30GB and 60GB). SkinTight rubberized skins provide protection against dust, knocks, and scratches; it includes removable screen protectors and will be available for $30 in a pack of three colors (clear, black, and blue). See-Thru is hard case made of translucent plastic" that delivers "a hint of color and a massive dose of shine." It offers full access to contols, headphone jack and hold switch and will be available in a pack of three colors (clear, black, and red) for $30. Both cases are expected to begn shipping in mid-November.
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Microsoft may end Office Support Professional prog
Microsoft appears to be either ending or seriously revamping its "Accredited Support Professional Program" for training on Microsoft Office for Mac and iOS it has offered at MacTech conferences since 2013. The program is not on offer at the upcoming MacTech tour, which begins on March 16 in San Francisco and includes a number of other cities. Microsoft has released a statement that it is "evaluating options for 2016, but don't have anything to share at this time." http://bit.ly/1KDz3MQ
Office for Mac v15.18 released
Microsoft has issued an update for the Mac version of its productivity suite, Office 2016. The v15.18 update offers improvements for all of the included apps, such as bringing full screen support to Outlook and allowing Word to save PDF files to flash drives. In addition, a new selection pane has been added to PowerPoint and Excel for keeping track of objects, and shapes can now be added to OneNote notebook pages. The update is free for all users, but requires a Mac running OS X 10.10 or later and a valid Microsoft Office 365 subscription. http://bit.ly/1Q7pAzW
Apple to open new south Florida mall store
According to real estate trade papers in south Florida, Apple has signed a lease for a new retail space in Miami, at the forthcoming Brickell City Centre (yes, the UK spelling is used) open-air mall, which is set to open later this year. The center will feature a five-story shopping area, condominiums, a hotel and office buildings, along with a "climate ribbon" in the shopping area to keep visitors cool, eschewing traditional air conditioning. The exact location of the Apple Store within the plan is not yet clear, but the destination already boasts 75 confirmed stores. http://bit.ly/1Q7n7Wd
Filemaker provides free custom app guide
FileMaker announced today the release of the first in a three-part series of free how-to guides that will lead teams through the process of building a custom app using the FileMaker Platform. FileMaker's new how-to guides provide a step-by-step process that starts with a planning cycle covering goals, requirements, functionality and usability, and run all the way through identifying user scenarios, defining requirements, addressing integration, providing security, and deployment of the final product. http://bit.ly/1o08wQh
OCZ Trion 150 SSD shifts to 15nm TLC NAND
SSD manufacturer OCZ has updated its entry-level 2.5-inch Trion 100 SSD. The new Trion 150 has similar performance to the now replaced model, and now utilizes 15nm TLC NAND. Sequential read speeds top out at 550MB/S, with 4KB random write speeds running from 25K IOPS in the 120GB model, to 64K IOPS in the 960GB version of the drive. Endurance is limited to 30TB in the 120GB, and peaks at 240TB in the 960GB version. Retail prices vary between $46 for 120GB, to $270 for the 960GB version. http://bit.ly/1nVmlyL
Google off the hook in CAPTCHA labor suit
US District Jacqueline Scott Corley has dismissed a proposed class-action suit against Google, that alleged that Google secretly was given an economic gain without user knowledge. The suit alleged, correctly, that the second word in Google's CAPTCHA service was used as a crowd-sourced word identification for Google's book-scanning project. The judge ruled that the suit as filed had no facts to support a "reasonable consumer would expect to receive compensation" for the seconds it took to complete the form, and in addition, the free Gmail account provided more than offset any labor penalty incurred by the user. http://bit.ly/1o06Cir
Secure your Google accounts today
Google is offering 2GB of Google Drive storage today for free, if users check the security of their accounts. As part of Safer Internet Day 2016, the scheme will give the 2GB storage extension to anyone going through the Google Security Checkup, examining connected devices, permissions, and other security settings associated with their Google account.