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Quad Power Macs deliver
Apple's newly announced Power Macs are expensive, but deliver never-before-seen performance, including the highest score of any computer on the CPU-intensive CineBench rendering test; however, it stil under-delivers in terms of gaming performance and the company is late to the market with its first dual-core processors. Awarding the Quad G5 systems a 4.5 out of 5, the review of Apple's Quad Power Mac G5 by PC Magazine says the system is worth upgrading to "for those who need (and can justify) the power and expense. The dual G5 cores in each of the two CPUs push the G5 Quad to performance numbers we've never seen before. With four true cores working on the same task, the G5 Quad powered through our new Adobe Photoshop CS2 tests at a speedy 57 seconds.
Free TV video on iTunes
Apple is offering a free video of Battlestar Galactica , its recently added Sci Fi series described as an "intriguing take on the classic adventure of a ragtag fleet of humans--the sold survivors of a devastating nuclear attack by the robot Cylons." The iTunes Music Store is now offering a free 'Sci Fi Inside – Battlestar Galactica' video that includes interviews of cast members, a review of the crew's past adventures, and a sneak peek at future episodes, following the launch of the series on iTunes earlier this month. It is not known if Apple will continue to offer free videos on via iTunes as a marketing promotion to keep customers coming back to its store--driving both traffic and sales. The new Battlestar season premieres on January 6, 2006 on Fridays at 10 pm ET. [updated]
MegaPEG MPEG-2 encoder
Digigami today announced that its new MegaPEG HDTV VBR MPEG-2 encoder is capable of matching, and in some cases exceeding the picture quality of current H.264 encoders while simultaneously offering reduced bitrates. Echoing Sony's recent claims that MPEG-2 can and will achieve quality/bitrates comparable to H.264 for the next generation of optical disc formats, the company said that its MPEG-2 encoder is "actually outperforming H.264 by a wide margin on 720p/1080p film content. Typically, our HD MPEG-2 encoder can produce VBR files two thirds to one half the bitrate produced by current H.264 encoders. On our website we have compressed material which supports this assertion." Apple's video iPod uses the H.264 format to play movies, as does its QuickTime 7 software. The Digigami MegaPEG HDTV VBR MPEG-2 encoder is available for $1,000 (system requirements were unavailable).
IllumineX debuts HoppiX
llumineX today released HoppiX--its new arcade/puzzle game for Mac OS X--and announced that its Infinity Game PaX is available at a discounted price for a limited time. HoppiX is a game of elimination following in the footsteps of the older MarbleX, making extensive use of the modern operating system features to make the game easy to use, as well as fun to play. HoppiX offers windowed or full-screen display modes, includes an animated dock icon, and provides Mac help with strategy tips as well as full descriptions of all game features. IllumineX's Infinity Game Pax is temporarily available at a 30 percent discount for $20 until January 1st of 2006, and includes HoppiX as well as six other game titles.
Online video a \"test bed\"
The emerging video download industry which thrives on portable video players, such as Apple's fifth-generation iPod, is being called "the perfect test bed" for full-length television shows. An analyst from ABI Research who conducted an extensive study says we won't be seeing full-length episodes of hit television shows downloaded to portable devices in 2006, but rather more of the "short-form video" that is currently available. "The mainstream broadcast model is an extraordinarily expensive way to trial new concepts and shows," the analyst said. "Over 70 percent of all new shows don't survive the first season. The logic of trying short versions on emerging platforms at relatively low cost before committing to the expense of hour-long TV productions will soon be apparent to content owners."
MacNN review, Sonnet
In brief: MacNN has reviewed the Capsule Accessory System for iPod nano ($20) from SwitchEasy Limited, a two-piece plastic enclosure with an opening for the clickwheel.... PhotoshopCAFE is hosting its sixth annual Design Challenge, offering over $7,000 in prizes to the best designer of a cereal box in Photoshop.... Sonnet Technologies yesterday announced a new line of compact USB power adapters for Apple's iPod.... A new survey conducted by Mori for AOL U.K. suggests that more than half of consumers still download music illegally over the internet.
Sony hires former Apple VP
Sony today announced that it has hired former Apple executive Tim Schaaff, who has held various positions at the company--including vice president of interactive media. Schaaff has been appointed to the newly-created position of senior vice president of software development at Sony and reports directly to Keiji Kimura, executive vice president and officer in charge of Sony's technology strategy. Schaaff's many contributions at Apple included managing the development and maintenance of Apple's QuickTime platform.
Battlefield Cribbage, iCab
Battlefield Cribbage 1.0 ($23) is a variation of classic cribbage which preserves the purity of the original game while requiring new levels of strategy and skill. The game consists of multiple rounds, each made up of individual turns until a player decides to end the round, or until the deck of cards is exhausted.
[Download - 7.4MB]
Dobry Backuper 1.3 ($30) adds support for an entire system volume backup to the backup software built natively for Mac OS X. The update improves backup info file writing reliability and fixes some minor bugs. Version 1.3 also adds some optimization during the backup processes to increase speed and stability. [Download - 684KB]
iCab 3.0 Beta 382 ($30) is an alternative Web browser for Mac users boasting numerous useful features not found in other browsers. The update features a cache browser, a simple RSS reader, highlighting of "anchor links," support for alternative stylesheets, and more. Version 3.0 Beta 382 also includes some bug fixes and workarounds for certain Web pages. [Download - 3.5MB]
Boom Recorder 3.1 (€115) monitors audio input, and can be used in conjunction with high resolution audio hardware to capture audio from up to 32 channels simultaneously. Boom Recorder is designed to be easy to use during the busy times of a film shoot or stage performance, and decodes signals that are fed into audio channels while writing to QuickTime, CAF, or BWF files. [Download - 1.6MB]
podFlicks ($20) converts movies into a format that is compatible with Apple's video iPod. PodFlicks does not requires QuickTime Pro, and transfers movies directly to the iPod automatically. The application can also separate movie files from other types, creating a distinct movie library. [Download - 1.6MB]
Service Scrubber 1.1 (free) restructures the services menu, changes keyboard shortcuts, and disables chosen services. Users select a service provider to edit its services only, and click on checkboxes to enable or disable corresponding services. Service Scrubber 1.1 requires Mac OS X 10.4. [Download - 242KB]
4Flix.net expands content
4Flix.net today announced that it has nearly tripled its stockpile of movies, cartoons, and television shows available for Apple's video iPod. The company's catalog now features directors such as Alfred Hitchcock, Francis Ford Coppola, Frank Capra, and Orson Welles. Featured actors include John Wayne, Kirk Douglas, Marlon Brando, Vincent Price, Frank Sinatra and Fred Astaire, as well as pioneers of early cinema such as Buster Keaton, Faye Wray, Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff. Nearly a dozen Christmas titles are available at no cost via a free video podcast throughout the month of December. All videos from 4Flix.net are DRM-free, allowing customers to freely copy them amongst all personally owned hardware. Pricing for all titles remains under $2, and gift certificates are available.
\"Yonah\" specs, performance
Intel plans to introduce two versions of its dual-core "Yonah" notebook processors, which could find their way into Macs early next year: a single core version running at 1.66GHz and dual-core versions clocked at 1.66GHz, 1.83GHz, 2.0GHz, and 2.16GHz. The company will reportedly market the chips as Centrino "Solo Core" and "Duo Core" processors. The new chips are expected to power the next generation of Apple laptops and consumer desktops, offering a 667Mhz front-side-bus (FSB) and 2MB of level 2 cache. A speedier version of the chip is expected by mid-2006, and will reportedly increase Yonah's top speed to 2.3GHz.
iTunes, iPod top Google
Apple's iPod and iTunes are among the most popular searches on Google, with the iPod topping the search list for the company's Froogle shopping/comparison site. iTunes, Apple's digital jukebox software and front-end to its iTunes Music Store, was No. 6 on Google's Top 10 Gainers list. MySpace, Ares, Baidu, Wikipedia, and Orkut took the top five spots, respectively. The iPod, however, remained most searched term on Froogle, while 'Janet Jackson' was the most searched term on Google. The terms "iPod," "iPod mini," "iPod shuffle," and "iPod nano" were all among Froogle's top 10 searches, ranking No. 1, No. 4, No. 8 and No. 10, respectively. Earlier today, reports noted that Google has begun tailoring results of music-related searches to capitalize on the online digital music trends.
Cinematize 2.05 update
Miraizon today announed that its DVD movie clip extractor, Cinematize 2 can now directly generate movie files for iPod video and Playstation Portable (PSP) units, as well as for sharing on the web. Offering single-step operation, the newly added output formats include Apple's H.264-based iPod video format for iPod and the MPEG-4 format for iPod, PSP, and web. In addition, Cinematize 2.05 offers improved compression color control, improved handling of DV Stream export, as well as several fixes. Cinematize 2 is a cross-platform application that allows users to extract audio and video clips off of any unencrypted DVD and save them in formats compatible with major applications such as Windows Movie Maker, Adobe Premiere, iMovie, QuickTime, Final Cut, PowerPoint, iTunes, and more. It is available for $60 (electronic) or $70 (boxed).
Theatre on Apple\'s iPod
UK Theatre Network today launched a version of its first episode for Apple's video iPod, as well as other devices. Glasgow-based actor Douglas McFarlane set up the online service UKTheatre.TV, and over the past year has built up a team of over 100 actors, directors and film crew in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Manchester, London and recently expanded to New York, Chicago and Philadelphia. "The concept is simple, I am passionate about theatre and I know there are millions of people around the world who are as well. I wanted to have the ability to understand more about a musical or play before going to see it. My colleagues and I have been visiting theatre and writing reviews for several years, and now with the advances in internet technology it is possible to watch a short film featuring these reviews and with permission, provide a short trailer of what the performance looks like", McFarlane said. The service filmed both the recent BAFTA Scotland awards and the launch of the National Theatre of Scotland, which have already been edited for download.
Safari security flaw
An alleged security issue in Mac OS X affects Apple's Safari browser and TextEdit applications under all versions of Mac OS X and could allow malicious users to crash the running applications and possibly compromise the system. Security Protocols, which rates the flaw with 'medium' severity', reveals that "denial of service vulnerability exists within the KHTMLParser on Mac OS X 10.4.3 and all prior versions which allows for an attacker to cause the application which uses this class to crash, and or execute arbitrary code on the targeted host." The report says that when running a specially crafted .html file, the "khtml::RenderTableSection::ensureRows" inproperly parsers the data and causes the crash. The Website provides an example of the code and also says that Apple has been notified. Earlier today, we noted that Symantec admitted that its NAV solution has an exploitable flaw that could allow users to attack any Mac system with the software installed. [updated 12:05 pm ET]
MusicMagic Mixer 1.5
Predixis today released MusicMagic Mixer Version 1.5, its music search engine that creates instant compilations from any music collection, designed to help listeners discover additional music that fits their mood. Version 1.5 offers an improved user-interface, mix controls on the toolbar, an on-screen search field, and a live music discovery window. The application features a built-in music player, and adds support for universal plug-and-play devices. An acoustic scanning option plays non-random samples from the musical clusters in a users music collection, creating instant mixes of songs with the current musical feel. Integrated discovery opens a "discovery window" that exposes similar music from mainstream and indie sources for any browsed track. The application also features a power search feature that scans tracks using natural language queries based on facts behind the music, such as "rap music by men." It requires Mac OS X 10.3 or later, and will be available in January (with a "totally redesigned interface") for $20. [updated]
Free Tunatic search engine
Sylvain Demongeot announced today released Tunatic v1.0.1b, a search engine that identifies songs playing from radio or any other music source. Tunatic displays the song's title within seconds, along with the name of the artist and many useful links to download the song, read the lyrics, buy the CD, etc. Tunatic is free and available for both Windows and Mac OS X platforms. "Tunatic is a powerful radio add-on, delivering rich contents such asimages, ringtones, or lyrics in one click, says Mr Demongeot. Radio is still the most common music source, yet it lacks the interactivity everyone expects from modern media. And the success of search engines such as Google make people want more and more information in less steps. That's why Tunatic will change the way we listen to radio." It is available for free for both Windows and Mac OS X.
Reel Bean released
JS8 Media today released ReelBean, a media export and player application that converts movies to a format suitable for playback on Apple's video iPod. ReelBean can export movies to MPEG-4, H.264, 3GPP/3GPP2, AVI, DV stream, image sequences, QuickTime movies, and more. The application offers the ability to list all media tracks--video, sound, or text--contained within a movie, and can extract any of these into a separate file. ReelBean plays movies at any speed, displays movie info and property panels, and enables users to select or edit parts of movies to be saved as new movie files. ReelBean is available for free until late-January, when the application will be priced at $10. ReelBean requires Mac OS X 10.4.
Strong Mac, iPod sales
Piper Jaffray today reiterated its 'outperform' rating on Apple's stock, noting that checks with several Mac resellers show stronger iPod- and Mac-related holiday sales compared to last year. While some specialists said there were seeing some customers waiting to buy until the release of Intel-based Macs, most that are seeing this trend say that it is limited to only a handful of customers, according to a note issued this morning by Piper analyst Gene Munster. The survey also found that iPod inventory levels at Apple specialist stores were better than spotty selection at "big box" third-party retailers and nearly at the "full" levels of Apple retail stores. Munster found that 60 percent of resellers expect the December 2005 to be stronger than a year ago, while more than half of that number indicated that 2005 season would be "significantly better."
Symantec NAV exploit found
After attempts earlier this year to encourage Mac users to consider possible security threats on a platform that has had no virus threats in several years, Symantec on Tuesday admitted that its own NAV anti-virus application makes Macs less secure and could allow a malicious user to remotely take control of the computer, according to ZDnet Australia. Symantec has admitted that all versions of Norton Anti-Virus (NAV), including the version for Mac OS X, contain the security vulnerability and has yet to issue a patch to fix the issue; however it has updated its scanning signatures to look for applications that try to exploit the vulnerability, according to the report.
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