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Digital video deals
Digital video content, such as the expanded agreement announced early Tuesday between Disney and Apple for more iTunes content, brings more money to content producers than the 50-50 split record labels get for downloading a 99-cent song, according to Nielsen data quoted by MediaDailyNews. Citing the growing number of distribution deals for video content, the report says that the economics of on-demand deals are closer to the DVD business, shortening the time customers must wait for on-demand video content and accelerating the return for content producers: "There is no evidence that program downloading has led to any loss of viewership for those shows that run on Walt Disney's broadcast or cable channels. In fact, ratings have risen somewhat on ABC since the time of the deal." Apple reportedly gives up around $1.36 per episode to Walt Disney for right to distribute the company's content via its iTunes Music Store, while newer deals for more extensive likely even more lucrative--perhaps as much as a 70-30 split in favor of the content owner from the $1.99 per episode price for commercial-free programming.
MP3 surround sound support
iPod users everywhere may soon enjoy theater-like surround sound from simple stereo headphones, following today's announcement of the new MP3 file format. Utilizing MP3 SX (MP3 Stereo eXtended) technology that allows enhancing MP3 stereo files for multi-channel playback, "MP3 Surround" presents the feeling of envelopment by using the ambience sounds already present in the stereo source. The new format enables high-quality surround sound at bit rates comparable to those currently used to encode stereo MP3 material, and is backwards compatible to stereo MP3; a legacy MP3 device plays back MP3 Surround as high quality stereo.
Mac support for Vongo
Following this morning's announcement of Starz' new Vongo digital video service for PDA, a new message on the service's website says that the complays on bringing the new digital video service to Mac users. The message on the Vongo website reads that "our system had detected that you do not meet the platform requirements. Vongo is currently PC-based, but will soon be Mac compatible (really)." Earlier today, we noted the launch of Starz new digital movie service for PDA and other Windows-based systems. The company promised to offer a subscription-based system that allowed users to download content for $10 per month from its channels to up to three Windows devices as well as access to its a live streaming feed of the Starz TV channel and early release films for $4 per episode.
Meridian, Tidy Up
Meridian 3.0 ($20) improves the menu bar clock by adding alarms, time zones, timers, stopwatches, and chimes. The application can display the time in any city, post reminders when it's time for an important event, track parking meters, time tests at school, and more. Alarms feature custom sounds, iTunes music, and on-screen messages. Timers count down to zero and notify users via a message, a sound, or an iTunes playlist.
[Download - 2.1MB]
Tidy Up! 1.0.8 ($30) search for duplicate files and packages by owner application, content, type, creator, extension, date modified, date created, name, label, visibility, and more. The application also searches by tag, duration, and bit-rate of MP3 and AAC audio files. Tidy Up! can search the content of the iTunes and iPod dababases, and synchronize deletions with iTunes. [Download - 2.8MB]
Torrent Station 1.0 ($20) is a new BitTorrent client built exclusively for Mac OS X. The application offers the ability to queue based on priority, individual bandwidth limits, global bandwidth limits, and folders. Torrent Station supports drag-and-drop, automatic seeding at a defined share ratio, and more. The software requires Mac OS X 10.4 or later. [Download - 1.5MB]
RAW Developer 1.4.3 ($100) is a RAW image conversion application optimized specifically for Mac OS X, designed to give advanced photographers complete control over every aspect of a digital camera's output. The software supports files from over 100 digital camera models, and offers non-destructive image processing with previews. Further features include batch conversion, sharpening and noise reduction algorithms, image adjustment options, and more. [Download - 1.7MB]
SharedPlan Pro Project Management 2.2.2 ($200) updates the project management software to improve compatibility between the personal and pro editions. SharedPlan Pro Project Management features Microsoft Project import, subproject import and export, network diagram and gantt chart editors, and more. The software offers support for RSS and iCal publication, as well as automatic updates.
iTMS adds ESPN, ABC
Apple has added new content to iTunes from ESPN and ABC Sports, ABC Entertainment and Touchstone Television, ABC Family, ABC News, Buena Vista Television, Disney Channel, and SOAPnet, as well as content produced by Walt Disney Feature Animation. ESPN and ABC Sports are the first to offer sports programming via the iTunes Music Store, bringing fans a host of sports content with condensed versions of all four BCS Bowl Games from ABC Sports, as well as condensed versions of yesterday's Tostitos Fiesta Bowl and Nokia Sugar Bowl available today. Later this month, ESPN will make additional content available. Pricing is set at the standard $1.99 per episode, and all of the new content joins the other Disney ABC programming currently available for purchase on the iTunes Music Store.
MacPractice 1.8 released
MacPractice today released version 1.8 of its MD software for physicians, DDS software for dentists, and DC software for chiropractors. The healthcare practice management software applications designed specifically for Mac OS X adds new scheduling features, including the ability to associate as many as four colors with an appointment to indicate status, type, alert, and more. The update adds new managers to facilitate the posting of bulk insurance payments, a major challenge for healthcare providers. MacPractice has added a Claim Generator to print batches of paper claims and create batches of eclaims for those procedures for which claims were not created as procedures were posted. MacPractice MD pricing starts at $2,000, while MacPractice DDS and DC start at $1,500 for a single user license. MacPractice software requires MySQL (system requirements were unavailable).
10GbE solution for OS X
Small Tree Communications has reached an OEM agreement with Fujitsu for its 10GbE CX-4 switches, enabling Small Tree to offer the first complete 10GbE CX-4 bundle solution for Mac users. The integrated solution includes a 12 port Fujitsu switch, Intel 10GbE CX-4 Network Interface Cards, Small Tree 10GbE drivers, and BlazeFS file sharing system software. "Customers appreciate reliable technology capable of handling complex applications, and together with Small Tree Communications, those customers can deploy 10Gb Ethernet as a high performance, scalable technology to interconnect servers and storage systems," said Lorne Wilson, senior vice president, sales and marketing, Fujitsu Computer Products of America. Small Tree prefers to say that the price varies widely based upon configuration. However, it is $2,700 per port for a 12 port bundle solution.
Video iPod film festival
The Flux today announced the opening of the Flux iPod Film Festival, an online film festival and competition of content formatted for the iPod. Visitors to the website can download films for playback on computers or video iPods, then vote for a favorite video. Prizes will be awarded in three categories: best indie/student short, best amateur/family clip, and best music video. Submissions must be less than ten minutes and properly formatted for the iPod. R Cubed Productions will offer conversion services to properly format films for iPod playback for a small fee. The festival submission deadline is January 25th.
South Park, Apple storage
South Park recently began running out of storage space, and has since turned to Apple for its storage needs. The cartoon studio in may installed three Apple Xserve RAID arrays to replace its digital linear tape (DLT) library and direct-attached disk storage. J.J. Franzen, technology supervisor at South Park Studios said he chose Apple hardware based on a "gut" feeling that its technology would be good, and so far he has not been disappointed, according to a report from ComputerWorld. Franzen said he now expects to add two more Xserve RAID arrays for a total of 15TB of storage, and place his disk storage behind a couple of switches from Cisco Systems to make managing his storage easier.
Offer to musicians
Script Software today announced an open invitation to all musicians and music publishers to begin adding synchronized lyrics to every song they create, using iStar Composer. The software embeds synchronized lyrics into any song, which can display sequentially in iTunes as well as on iPod displays. Star Composer can be used to edit and display lyrics, opera, plays, musicals, karaoke, and more. "It won't be long before downloadable music will be judged not just on the song's quality but also on what is included, such as synchronized lyrics or other multimedia," said Julian Miller, CEO of Script Software. iStar Composer is $30, and requires Mac OS X 10.4, as well as QuickTime 7.0.3.
Astronomy DVDs, Bonjour
In brief: DVD Proceedings from the Macintosh Astronomy Workshop are now available on 5 DVDs ($75) containing nearly 10 hours of video.... O'Reilly has released "Zero Configuration Networking," a new book about open-source Bonjour technology.... An online petition has been launched to integrate BitTorrent technology into iTunes, to encourage more podcasts as well as more iTunes adopters.... Hubbell Automation has lowered the prices of its "Mini mount seconds," ($20) as each unit may have a slight blemish.... LoadPod has expanded its iPod movie loading service to include video iPod users in the Los Angeles and Las Vegas areas.
Belkin CableFree USB hub
Belkin today debuted its new CableFree USB Hub, which it says does not require a cable to connect to the computer. This Hub allows people to place their laptop anywhere in the room while still maintaining wireless access to their USB devices, such as printers, scanners, hard drives, and MP3 players. The CableFree USB Hub, which leverages Freescale Semiconductor's Ultra-Wideband (UWB) radio technology, will be on display at the 2006 International CES Show in Las Vegas. Beginning in early spring 2006, Belkin will offer a four-port hub that will enable immediate high-speed wireless connectivity for any USB device without requiring software or drivers. The CableFree USB Hub gives desktop computer users the freedom to place their USB devices anywhere in the room without running long cables. Pricing was not announced.
No iTunes on new ROKR
Motorola's next-generation ROKR E2 cell phone will not include Apple's iTunes software and the company is set to take on Apple's iTunes Music Store with its own download digital radio service, according to a new report from Reuters: The company today revealed details of its plans for iRadio, a subscription music service that will go on sale this year. Both the service and the phone will be sold through various mobile operators. According to the report, Motorola's iRadio service will first run on the Rokr E2 cell phone, which, unlike the first Rokr phone, will not include Apple's iTunes music software. Motorola aims to sell the service and phone via mobile operators. The iRadio service, will include 435 commercial-free radio channels. The company said that iRadio will let users download channels on the computer and transfer them to play on their phones or on car or home stereos, like satellite radio.
PDA video download service
On the heels of several landmark video distribution deals on iTunes, Starz Entertainment Group today said it would launch a movie download service that allows consumers to view full-length studio films, concerts and TV shows on portable devices powered by Microsoft, locking out Mac and most iTunes users. Starz' Vongo, available for a monthly subscription of $10, will eventually include more than 1,000 movies, short films and other programs, which will be available at the same time they are offered on the Starz premium movie cable channel (about five to six months after they are released on DVD). According to the AP, the service will allow users to download as many films as they want each month to up to three devices, including Windows-based computers and portable devices running Microsoft's Portable Media Center software. The company will also offer a smaller number of early release films for pay-per-view fee of $4 as well as a live, streaming video feed of the Starz TV channel.
Bluetooth Firmware 1.2
Apple has released a new Bluetooth firmware upgrade for Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger users. The Bluetooth Firmware Update 1.2 improves Bluetooth performance and reliability issues, according to the documentation: "When the update package is downloaded, the Bluetooth Firmware Updater application will be launched. Follow the on screen directions to update your Bluetooth Firmware." The Bluetooth Firmware Updater supports D-Link USB Adapters and Apple internal Bluetooth modules on the following CPUs: iMac G4 (Gooseneck), 12" Titanium PowerBook 15" Titanium PowerBook, iMac G5, and Mac Mini. The 1.5MB update is available via the Web.
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