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LaunchBar 4.1 beta 2
Objective Development today released LaunchBar 4.1 beta 2, its search utility for Mac OS X. The software provides access to documents, contacts, bookmarks, music libraries, applications, search engines, and more by entering short abbreviations of a searched item's name. Entering the command-space key combination brings LaunchBar's input window to the front, allowing entry of an arbitrary abbreviation. As text is entered, the application displays the best matching choices, ready to be accessed immediately. Version 4.1, now in beta, delivers new options for opening items, supports color labels, vastly improves iTunes support, and improves Address Book support. The update also features new "Search in Spotlight" and "Look Up in Dictionary" functionality, and provides improved startup performance as well as various other improvements and bug fixes. LaunchBar 4.1 beta 2 is available for $20, and requires Mac OS X 10.4.
5G leather cases for iPod
Sena Cases today announced that its iPod Video Dockable Sena 30GB and 60GB cases are available for pre-order. The slim, streamlined cases are specifically designed to protect and showcase Apple's fifth-generation iPod with video capability, and feature a special "Bantam" belt clip that can lock the device into vertical or horizontal positions. Constructed from premium European leather, each Sena case is hand-stitched with openings for all iPod ports and controls. A leather flip top protects the device, and fastens with a hidden magnetic strip. The leather cases are dockable, and are available at a 20 percent discount for $40 until December 15th.
Political podcast; cases
iPodNN roundup: A Canadian political website--Conservative.ca--has jumped on Apple's podcasting bandwagon, offering free audio and video podcasts of its content to visitors as new information becomes available.... Storynory today released Charles Dickens's seasonal classic "A Christmas Carol" for the iPod generation, to be podcast in three-parts.... Banana Republic is selling leather music player cases for iPod ($38, shown at right) and iPod mini ($32), designed to protect the digital music players while offering access to the clickwheel.... FraKtus has released its new plug-in for iTunes, dubbed the eXo music visualizer 1.0 featuring a 2D procedural texture generation unit and a 3D scene description.
Playboy debuts \"Bodcast\"
Playboy.com today introduced its "Playboy Bodcast," enabling consumers with portable media players to take Playboy on-the-go; the "video podcast" can be downloaded directly to portable players, such as Apple's video-capable iPod. The "Bodcasts" are updated every weekday, and contain specific content from Playboy.com. The website's "Joke of the Day" delivers a joke by a playboy model, "Ask Hef Anything" offers "wit and wisdom" from Mr. Playboy himself--Hugh Hefner, while "From the Mouths of Babes" provides advice from Playboy's cyber girls. Simple instructions for downloading the "Playboy Bodcast" are available from the website, and playboy.com plans to introduce "sexier," premium "Playboy Bodcasts" in the future.
ESPN on iTunes?
Walt Disney's ESPN is looking to partner wtih Apple to offer content via iTunes, following the launch of its own branded-mobile service. Calling itself as a "sports media company," ESPN may join its corporate cousin ABC in a landmark deal, ESPN and ABC Sports president George Bodenheimer said on Monday. Although ESPN has not held talks with Apple, the cable sports network plans to offer its audio and video content of original shows and game clips to "any pipe, any device." The comments, revealed at the UBS global media conference, were made following the company's plans to launch its cellphone service called Mobile ESPN by leasing space on Sprint Nextel's cellphone network. Phones are expected to available at Best Buy within a week, according to the report.
Fastmac lowers prices
FastMac today announced that it has lowered prices on its entire line of optical drive upgrades by as much as 35 percent. 32x Combo drives now start at $50, and 16x Dual Layer SuperDrives at $90. All optical drive purchases now include a free copy of Mac OS X 10.3 "Panther." Drives are available for iMacs (G3, G4, and G5), eMacs, G3 PowerBooks (Pismo and Lombard), G4 PowerBooks (Titanium and Aluminum), iBooks (G3 and G4), Mac minis, G4 Cubes, and PowerMacs (G3, G4 and G5). Laptop drives start at $110 for the 24x Combo drives, and $190 for the 8x dual-layer DVD drives. FastMac optical drives ship with a one-year warranty and a 30-day money back guarantee.
Retailers iPod stock
Investment research firm PiperJaffray today reported that its checks of Apple retail stores reveal that Apple is "highly stocked" heading into the holiday season, while third-party retailers are "struggling to replenish" supplies. Reiterating an "outperform" rating, the firm said that the distribution limitations may limit iPod sales and that Apple may not be able hit iPod shipment numbers estimated by some Wall Street analysts. Late last week, 8 of 10 Apple stores had all iPods in stock; however, only 2 of the 20 third-party retailers, however, had all varieties of iPod. Inventory for both the iPod and nano remains spotty at third-party retailers, with 17 out of 20 indicating that they are missing at least one type of nano (2GB or 4GB) and 15 of 20 missing at least one of the larger (30GB or 60GB) iPods.
HelpLogic 1.0pr6 ($100) updates the help authoring tool for cross-platform developers, adding support for PDF publishing. HelpLogic creates help systems for software and websites from a single source with an integrated workshop, visual table-of-contents builder, HTML editor, and more.
[Download - 6.5MB]
Coloriage 2.0 ($100) is a plug-in that manipulates colors of images and creates natural-looking colorization quickly. The plug-in colors portraits, landscapes, fashion, and still life. Skin, sky, verdure, and tree color patterns aid with selection of realistic colors for pictures. [Download - 6.1MB]
Pyramid 1.6 ($30) adds German localization to the visual thinking application, and automatic updates display only one message for each update. Features include drag-and-drop support for text and images from Safari, the ability to link internally to other worksheets, and more. [Download - 690KB]
ProtParam 1.0 (free) computes physico-chemical parameters for protein sequences at ExPASy, allowing users to type or paste sequences into the input field. ProtParam 1.0 requires Mac OS X 10.4. [Download - 141KB]
RbApp 1.0.3 ($200) is a collection of re-usable REALbasic classes that can help speed the development of most desktop applications. New features include compatibility with the latest REALbasic 2005 R4 release, foreign language support in RbEdit running on Macintosh, and a new QuickHelp 2.0 Viewer for presenting contextual online help in REALbasic applications. [Download - 3.3MB]
MacPAG 1.2.0 ($20) updates the programmable audio generator, adding a real-time single tone and tone sequence generator. MacPAG creates a series of tones, used to test audio software and equipment. [Download - 964KB]
Apple finalizes NYC lease
Apple has finalized the deal for another retail location in New York City, which is expected to open in the spring of 2006. The company was able to finalize the lease for "sprawling subterranean store" in the GM building, after landlord Harry Macklowe promised Steve Jobs he could take his large $9 million glass cube with him at the end of the lease, according to New York Magazine. The report says that Jobs personally designed the 32-foot-by-32-foot box that will mark the store's entrance on the Fifth Avenue plaza and that the structure became the sticking point at the last minute, as the developer wanted the structure to stay put; however, a compromise was reached to bring Apple to the mid-town location.
Adobe acquires Macromedia
Adobe Systems today announced the completion of its acquisition of Macromedia which was finalized on Saturday, December 3rd. Additionally, as part of the initial integration of product portfolios, Adobe announced three new product bundles that combine Adobe Creative Suite 2 and Adobe video tools with the recently-released Macromedia Flash Professional 8 and Macromedia Studio 8 software. The three bundles include the Adobe Design Bundle ($1,600)--combining Adobe Creative Suite 2 Premium with Macromedia Flash Professional 8--, Web Bundle ($1,900)--offering Macromedia Studio 8 and Adobe Creative Suite 2 Premium--, and a Video Bundle, which has yet to be announced. [updated]
SuperToon, Nano is no. 1
In brief: Alias today released its SuperToon DVD Series, its latest learning tools for Maya that describe techniques for developing, modeling, and rigging cartoon characters in a set of three DVDs ($150).... Pocket-lint has announced the winners of its first annual awards, which crowned iPod nano as the best MP3 player in 2005, as well as Apple's 15-inch PowerBook as the best laptop this year.... One scuba-diving Mac user has asked that all Mac-using scuba divers band together in an attempt to create an awareness for scuba equipment manufactures, to let them know that Mac Users are here and wanting support so that they can write their own applications for diving-related purposes.... AOpen, a Taiwanese electronics maker that sells a small desktop PCs similar to the Mac mini, will begin shipping updated versions of its system with Intel "Yonah" dual-core chips.
Canada political podcasts
Apple's podcasting technology has quickly spread to become a vital element in many business and individual information distribution strategies, the latest area being politics. A Canadian political website--Conservative.ca--has jumped on Apple's bandwagon, offering free audio and video podcasts of its content to visitors as new information becomes available. The website harbors news releases, speeches, campaign blogs, and more to interested individuals craving updates on the Canadian political situation on-the-go.
A Christmas Carol for iPod
Storynory today released Charles Dickens's seasonal classic "A Christmas Carol" for the iPod generation, to be podcast in three-parts effectively re-creating the way Dickens published most of his books as serials. "At Storynory, we are creating a growing library of classic and modern iPod-ready stories for children," said Storynory spokeswoman Angharad Lynn. "Christmas Carol was a natural choice for us to feature on the site in December. Parents can download it to their iPod, or burn it to a CD. It's a great way to introduce children to classic literature, and completely free." Storynory offers hours of classic children's literature, read by actresses in order to educate and entertain children.
New Apple retail locations
Apple will hold the grand openings of its fifth retail store in the UK and its sixth retail store in Japan, this Saturday, December 10, according to ifoAppleStore. The Meadowhall Apple Store in the UK, which was expected to open before the end of the year, may hold "a soft opening" on Wednesday December 7, according to the report. Apple this past weekend opened its fifth retail store in Japan (Fukuoka Tenjin), while the Apple Store Sendai Ichibancho is expected to open on December 10. Apple also plans on opening three new retail stores in the US and posted openings for a store at Eaton Center in Toronto (Canada). In addition, Apple will open three new retail stores in the US.
iPod, iPod mini cases
Banana Republic is selling leather music player cases for iPod and iPod mini, designed to protect the digital music players while offering access to the clickwheel. The cases are constructed from genuine Italian leather, and feature a protective flap with magnetic closure to cover the screens and control pad windows. Both cases are available in "metallic," "rosy blush," "orange blossom," "mardi gras gold" (shown at right), "green velvet," and "Creamware" colors. Leather cases for iPod measure 2.5 x 4.5 x 1-inches, ship with a belt clip, and are available for $38. Leather cases for iPod mini measure 4 1/16 x .75 x 2.25-inches, and are priced at $32.
Sims 2 University coming
Aspyr today announced that Sims 2 University, the first expansion pack to EA's popular The Sims 2, has hit beta status and is expected to begin shipping this month. The Sims 2 University allows players to explore a whole new stage of life as young adults and introduces college-related wants and fears that are ultimately tied to their Sims' social life and academic goals. Sims 2 University also introduces influence gameplay allowing players to earn influence points to have other Sims do certain tasks for them such as homework, term papers, cleaning up the fraternity house or even pulling pranks on other Sims. Players will be able to choose from one of 11 majors and open up four new career paths as they make their way through University. The expansion pack requires Mac OS X 10.3.9 and The Sims 2 to play and is available for pre-order through Amazom.com for $35.
iPod brings new challenges
Apple's iPod is offering new challenges for K-12 schools, as the player becomes more ubiquitious and offers more features, such as video playback. The iPod is touching off a debate on technology in schools and the new generation white-earbud-adorned students: some schools ban the use of electronics throughout school day, while others try to circumvent problems of enforcement and the possibility of cheating, by allowing certain electronics, according IndyStar.com: "In a school with 4,000 students, I would bet that 75 percent of them have something like that. It makes it hard to police when you only have 250 teachers and some teachers turn (students) in, and some teachers don't."
Ars reviews Aperture
Ars Technica's review of Apple's Aperture offers a detailed look at the new appilcation as well as a word of caution. The review notes that the RAW conversion is sub-standard, lack of many professional-level tools/filters, slow performance, and several glaring bugs that plague the first release of Apple's software for professional photography. "It saddens me to say that Aperture's innovations are only skin deep. If it could deliver on the promise of being both fast and produce flawless results, it would be the dream package. At this point it is an expensive and questionable alternative to Camera Raw, a free extension to Photoshop, and Adobe's Bridge which can batch produce better quality images in arguably less time. For US$500 (Photoshop itself retails for US$750), there is no excuse not to be aware of professional needs like a high-quality sharpen tool, DNG exporting or more basic things like curves, a sampler tool for RGB pixel readings, or retention of EXIF data on output."
visualizer iTunes plugin
FraKtus has released a new plugin for iTunes: the eXo music visualizer v1.0. The eXo music visualization engine, fully hardware accelerated using OpenGL, features a 2D procedural texture generation unit and a 3D scene description. The visualizer users XML to load descriptions, utilizes a mathematical parser to evaluate expressions for all behaviors (particles, colors, waveform...), can load 3D shapes in the XML description, and has a full modular 3D shape synthesizer. The visualizer comes with about 40 different scripts that will run randomly. It's also possible to select them manually through the preference dialog or using keys. It is available for free and requires Mac OS X.
Apple iPod 101
Apple has posted a helpful online guide for new iPod users called iPod 101. The company describes it as "your guide to rockin' out, gettin' down, and boogieing with your iPod, iPod nano, iPod mini, or iPod shuffle." Intended for Mac or Windows users, "iPod 101 contains tons of information that'll help you enjoy your iPod to its fullest and guide you on your way to becoming iTunes savvy (we're using iTunes 6 in our course materials)." Topics include "iPod Anatomy," "Crank Up the Tunes," "I Need More Music," "Show Me My Photos and Videos," "Maximize My Experience," and "My iPod is Sad (or Alarmed)." There's also a short video of how to reset an iPod.
Rhapsody to support Macs
RealNetworks today will announce a new Web-based version of its music service, which will bring support for Macs and Linux-based devices. The company will support a variety of browsers, including Safari in an effort to expand the reach of its flagship subscription music service Rhapsody, according to Dow Jones. Real's first major announcement since settling its lawsuit with Microsoft in October will include a a "Web-based service called Rhapsody.com, which allows existing Rhapsody subscribers and new users access to streaming music via browsers such as Internet Explorer, Firefox and Safari. Previously, Rhapsody subscribers had to access the service by launching software on Windows-based PCs.,,,, Real is the market leader for subscription music products, ahead of Napster and Yahoo. As of the company's last quarterly report, Real claims 1.3 million paying subscribers; Napster reported 448,000 subscribers in November. Yahoo does not break out its music subscription numbers."
iPod ads in SF
In Brief: Apple is now shipping Mac OS X 10.4.3 in its retail packages of Tiger, according to its website... Apple has plastered the city of San Francisco with its new iPod ads.... Readers have started a new Yahoo! discussion group for Apple's recently released Aperture software.... The New York Times has a roundup of software for the Mac in its latest column titled "Mac Programs That Come With Thinking Caps On".... DOT-TUNES, a cross-platform service that allows professional musicians to share (original) music with users via the internet, offers an extended demo period through the end of 2005, after which the company says it will raise the price of registration (currently at AU$29).... ... The Los Angeles Final Cut Pro User Group (lafcpug) will hold its annual gathering at DV Expo West to be held at the LA Convention Center, Wednesday, December 7th.
Media Person of Year
Steve Jobs is among the nomineess in I Want Media's annual survey for Media Person of the Year, which will be revealed on CNBC's "The Big Idea with Donny Deutsch" Monday night. "Thanks to the efforts of the CEO of Apple, you can now watch 'Lost' and 'Desperate Housewives' on your iPod. The announcement in October was following by a string of other revoluntary developments in the way consumers can access television programming. TiVo recently revealed plans to allow unlimited TV-show downloads to the device. As for Apple, its next move may be media domination. One analyst predicts we'll one day see an iPod with enough storage to turn it into a 'portable media center' that will play hundreds of movies and thousands of songs." Readers can vote online for Anderson Cooper, Nick Denton, Google guys (Sergey Brin and Larry Page), Judith Miller, Rupert Murdoch, Craig Newmark, Howard Stern, Martha Stewart, and an honorable mention for "The 'Dying' Newspaper."
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