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Discussion forums roundup: Power users discuss the recent rumors that Apple might stop offering FireWire on future machines after it switches to Intel processors.... A potential PowerBook buyer weighs buying now or waiting for Intel machines.... A similar thread discusses waiting for Intel-based iMacs.... One iPod users asks about converting WMV files to play on an iPod.... One Mac OS X user voices his opinion on "why Tiger file management is awful."
Apple Store promo
Apple is offering free overnight shipping on many Macs as well as a corporate gift program for iPods and iPod accessories. The limited-time shipping promotion, which expires December 21st, is available on standard and popular configurations of any new Mac, including the iMac G5, Mac mini, Power Mac, iBook, or PowerBook G4 as well as on a limited number of refurbished items. Users must select next business day shipping to take advantage of the offer. The company notes that adding custom configured Macs, personalized iPods, the 1GB iPod shuffle, or the 4GB iPod nano to your cart will negate the promotion. Apple has also has several refurbished models of the 12-, 15-, and 17-inch PowerBooks. The Apple Store is also offering up to a 50 percent discount on Microsoft Office via mail-in rebate (students and teachers can purchase a copy for $100 after rebate).
Trendy Shields sleeves
Trendy Geek's today announced its film sleeves for the iPod called Trendy Shields, which it says keep the player clean and scratch-free without "camouflaging the iPod's elegance." Trendy Shields (previously known as Pod Shields) are now available for Apple's iPod video--both the 30GB and 60GB models--and the iPod nano. The transparent Trendy Shields are made of a thin material that adheres perfectly to the iPod. Unlike earlier versions, Trendy Shields now provide complete coverage for the front and back of each specific player. The company says that the protective film sleeves leave no sticky glue or residue. Each Trendy Shield kit ($13) contains three protectors (6 pieces all together) and fits a variety of iPod models.
Apple abandons ringtones?
Apple has pulled the plug on a software project designed to move the company into the ringtone business. The service, which may have been abandoned because of competition with mobile carriers, integrated ringtone downloads into the iTunes Music Store and allowed users to remix ringtones before transferring them to a mobile handset via Bluetooth, according to a report from The Register. The unannounced project, which would have headlined the Macworld Expo in January, would have also included iLife '06 integration--specifically GarageBand and Flickr--giving ringtones an "Apple makeover."
FoxTrot Personal Search
CTM Development has released FoxTrot Personal Search 1.03, a new application that delivers "the fastest, most focused and precise way to find data in the files on your Mac." Based on the FoxTrot search engine found in the company's flagship PowerMail application, FoxTrot Personal delivers high performance document retrieval and indexing. The company says that FoxTrot Personal Search extends Spotlight by delivering a vast array of additional search possibilities, while supporting all the file types translated by the Spotlight importer plug-ins (including metadata indexing). Users of pre-Tiger operating systems gain an "ultra-fast and precise find-by-content solution" without the hassle of migration to Mac OS X Tiger. FoxTrot (€30) also offers a built-in document preview with enhanced PDF display and navigation.
Free holiday videos
4Flix.Net has announced that dozens of Christmas movies, cartoons and television shows are available for download to both personal computers and the iPod video. A selection of shorter titles are available at no cost, allowing consumers to freely add classic holiday video content to their new video iPods while sampling the high quality of 4Flix.Net's advanced video encoding. Visitors can also subscribe to a free video podcast featuring Christmas videos throughout the month of December. Prices for the remaining catalog of available works match the iTunes Music Store's introductory price of $2 each.
AAPL estimates raised
Research firm Lehman Bros. raised its earnings and revenue forecasts as well as its stock price target for Apple, citing an improved outlook for iPod sales, according to MarketWatch: Analyst Harry Blount said that Apple's "fully refreshed product line" in the last 6 months was "the biggest product refresh cycle in the company's history." Blount raised his iPod unit shipment estimate to 12.6 million from 8.7 million as well as his fiscal first-quarter earnings estimate to 57 cents a share from 49 cents. He also raised his revenue forecast to $5.6 billion from $4.7 billion and his price target for Apple to $78 from $60, maintaining an "equal weight" rating on the stock.
2005 Apple timeline
The Associated Press today published a timeline of significant events for Apple Computer in 2005, marking those points in time where Apple changed history forever. On January 11th, Apple introduced the iPod shuffle, its first flash-based digital music player, as well as the company's book-sized $500 Mac mini--Apple's entry product into the budget desktop PC market. On the 24th of January, iTunes Music Store downloads topped a quarter million, averaging more than a million songs per day. February 23rd marked the introduction of Apple's second-generation iPod mini, slashing the price of the 4GB model from $250 to $200 and unveiling its new 6GB model at $250. In late April, Apple shipped its first release of Mac OS X 10.4, codenamed "Tiger." The iTunes Music Store launched in four European countries on May 10th, in Japan on August 24th, and in Australia on October 19th, bringing the total number of countries served to 21.
President discusses iPod
President George Bush yesterday discussed the contents of his iPod in greater detail with Sky News, noting various artists as he toyed with Apple's "high tech stuff." The Commander In-Chief perused his selections, listing the Beach Boys, the Beatles, Aretha Franklin, and "Dan" McLean as favored artists, among others. One bystander quickly corrected the president, reminding him that Don, not Dan, was the artist who sang "American Pie." Bush remarked that "Bono came in and dropped his new iPod on me," comparing his older device to the lead singer of U2's iPod nano. "This is a clunker compared to the newer version," Bush said. The president failed to mention whether Bono's singing with U2 is among his selections, according to InformationWeek. Bush also took time to mention that his iPod "can shuffle the shuffle."
New MacNN podcast released
MacNN has released its latest podcast, discussing Mac on Intel, new boot chime possibilities, and the death of FireWire. Delving deeper, our host covers useful widgets and the marriage proposal which one man engraved on the back of an iPod nano. Will Intel Macs be ready by January, as predicted by analysts? Will the software for Intel Macs be ready when the new systems launch? In the next episode, MacNN will interview Leander Kahney, author of Cult of Mac and Cult of iPod. Last week we discussed Apple's Front Row software, which is distributed with the new iMac G5 systems, as well as Widgets and more deals for video in the iTunes Music Store.
Unity 1.2 3D update
OTEE today announced an upcoming update to Unity, its 3D game editor designed to deliver powerful tools to create 3D content that works on both low- and high-end hardware. The update will add an easy-to-use framework for real-time full-screen graphics effects, utilizing the advanced shading engine. Version 1.2 will also add examples of the effects which can be tuned and changed that include color-correction, grayscale, sepia, a twirl effect, and a vortex effect. Built-in tools can be extended and new workflows can be added, while user-created wizards, context-menus, and commands can automate processes and repetitive tasks to make complex games easier and more efficient. The latest version adds a first-person controller (FPS), tools to set up ragdolls, and improved character animation support. Unity 1.2 is expected to be available by Christmas, and the upgrade is free for existing customers (pricing was unavailable).
AAPL target at $90
Following downgrades by two analysts earlier this week, Morgan Stanely maintained its "overweight" rating on Apple, but raised its target price for Apple stock to $90, based on the growth potential of its retail segment and upcoming announcements at Macworld. According to NewRatings.com: "In a research note published this morning, the analysts mention that the company is witnessing significant retail growth opportunities in the US. Apple is likely to make announcements relating to iPhone, broad digital content and digital living room focused hardware in the upcoming year, the analysts say."
YamiPod 0.89 released
Yamipod.com has released YamiPod 0.89, a freeware application designed to efficiently manage Apple's iPod under Mac OS X, Windows and Linux. The software requires no installation, and can be run directly from the iPod. Features include the ability to remove duplicated tracks and to find lost music files, as well as PC to iPod synchronization. The update also offers the ability to create and edit notes with Unicode support, news RSS, and podcasts to iPod uploading. YamiPod can copy MP3 and AAC files to/from the iPod, and offers read/write access to MP3 ID3 and AAC data. The software includes playlist on-the-go support, and the ability to import/export PLS and M3U formatted playlists. The application also offers full Unicode support, automatic downloading of new versions, two restore features, two search features, and more. YamiPod 0.89 requires Mac OS X 10.2 or later, and is available for download from yamipod.com.
MS consolidates businesses
Microsoft has reorganized its business groups in an effort to better face the challenges of the digital entertainment industry and compete better with Apple's iTunes Music Store. Apple has ruled the digital music industry since its inception, and Microsoft has been eager to take a slice of Apple's pie every step of the way. The company has shuffled executives from its successful Xbox division to the company's now consolidated music, TV, and video businesses in a better effort to unify strategy and products among its vast offerings, according to BusinessWeek online. The announcement comes one day after MTV and Microsoft announced a partnership which will integrate MTV's URGE music service with Microsoft's Windows Media Player. According to the report, the new team has considered building its own iPod-killer, but worries that doing so could drive Microsoft's partners out of the market and limit consumer choice.
Apple Digital Campus
Apple continues to expand its reach into education with a new Mac laptop deal that will deliver PowerBooks to Oklahoma City University's music students, embracing the the "Windows computing alternative." A pilot program that offers deeply discounted laptops, iPods, and iSight camers to the Wanda L. Bass School of Music joins an Apple Digital Campus lineup that includes Stanford, Duke, the University of Missouri and the University of Texas, among others, according to The Oklahoman: "The overall goal is to become a technology-competent campus in how we teach and learn, and Apple has offered us the opportunity to do that," OCU President Tom McDaniel said before a luncheon Thursday to announce the program.
Xmas podcasts, new eBook
In brief: Storynory recently released the first podcast of Charles Dickens's seasonal classic "A Christmas Carol," and now Penguin books is releasing a free version of its audio book of the same title.... The Take Control series has released a new eBook, entitled "Take Control of .Mac" ($10) by Joe Kissell that covers all of .Mac's major features.... The FastIcon has released a new icon set for use on desktops, "iSimple Vol.2," which contains 43 freeware icons.... Boinx Software today began shipping iStopMotion 1.8.4, featuring French localization in addition to English and German.... Sonnet has posted a tech tip regarding G4 systems with disabled multiprocessing capability that includes instructions to determine whether or not a Mac has the incompatible part, which is the cause of the problem.
OpenOSX Grass Workflow Pro
OpenOSX today launched a new service dubbed "GRASS WorkFlow Pro" that includes up to twenty hours of skilled MAC OS X GIS (geographic information system) programmer time used for customizing the open source GRASS Geographic Information System (GIS). GRASS (Geographic Resources Analysis Support System) is an open-source, free software GIS with raster, topological vector, image processing, and graphics production functionality. OpenOSX is offering a free evaluation to determine the feasibility of developing an automated or semi-automated solution, while Grass WorkFlow Pro is available with 10 ($600) or 20 hours ($1000) of custom programmer time.
Apple's has already announced its transition to the Intel architecture, but it remains to be seen if the company will tow the familiar 'Intel inside' line. A new BusinessWeek column says the company will likely share the spotlight with another brand--though the partnership will help create positive buzz for Intel and help it shed some of the 'taint' of the Wintel alliance. "As Apple includes Intel's chips inside its machines, will it also point to the Intel brand on the outside? In particular, will Apple place an Intel medallion on computers, or mention Intel in the ads for computers that house Intel chips? ... Is Apple going to accept "Intel Inside" money and all that goes with it? I have a hard time envisioning a scenario under which it would. The thought of Apple slapping 'Intel Inside' emblems on a Powerbook strikes me as so antithetical to the Steve Jobsian sense of aesthetics that it's laughable. The same would have to go for the Intel plugs in print and TV ads. I don't expect any of those Intel Pentium chimes in pitches for the next Mac."
AirClick for new iPods
Griffin Technology today announced that AirClick remote with Dock Connector, is now shipping. Unlike conventional remotes, the AirClick Remote uses RF technology that allows users to control their iPod from up to 60 ft. away. "Users are not required to have 'line of sight' for it to work... RF signals also pass through walls, so you can control your iPod throughout your home. It also will enable the 5th Generation iPod with video to control video playback." Each AirClick package ships with a remote, a receiver that mounts to the iPod, and a convenient remote cradle and straps. The small remote control features five buttons for play, next/previous track, volume up/down. It also has a hold switch, mimicking that of the iPod. A handy clip on the back provides instant access while jogging, cycling or chilling on the couch. It is available now for $40 and is designed for all standard iPods with a dock connector.
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