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G5 chirping, Fox on iTunes
In Brief: Dozens of readers are reporting a strange beeping/chirping on a variety of dual-processor G5 desktops on the Apple support forums without any acknowledgment by Apple.... 2ndSite today updated its online service which features a easy to understand dashboard that shows receivables, staffing and support ticket information in its online invoicing solution for small business and home office owners.... Fox television is moving more slowly than its rivals, taking a more cautious approach to making its most popular TV shows available for new distribution outlets, such as iTunes.... ACI has added support for Microsoft Office 2003 XML as well as several other new file formats to its unique internet-based "instant online conversion" service that converts most word processor, spreadsheet and graphics file formats, as well as some database formats.... macProVideo.com has released its Motion 2 Complete Compilation ($80), a downloadable video tutorial that demonstrates all aspects of integrating Motion with a Final Cut Pro workflow.
\'Mac OS X Universal\' logo
Apple has launched its new Mac OS X Universal Logo Program, which enables developers to identify their products as 'Universal Binaries"--software that is able to run natively on both PowerPC- and Intel-based Macs, such as the iMac Core Duo and forthcoming MacBook Pro. The logo licensing program is designed for product packaging, advertising, websites, and other marketing communications, according to Apple's website: "Customers will reap the highest performance benefits from Universal applications and will be looking for products that are Universal. The Mac OS X Universal logo is designed to enable easy identification of these applications. The Mac OS X Universal logo can be used only by authorized licensees who have signed the Mac OS X Universal logo license agreement."
Apple\'s holiday quarter
Apple offered details of its holiday quarter financial results during a conference call, saying that demand for its iPod digital media players was staggering. Apple sold over 1.25 million Macs--including 667,000 desktops and 587,000 portables, a 20 percent increase from the year-ago. The company sold 14,043,000 iPods during the last quarter, revealing a year-over-year increase of 207 percent. Apple did say, however, that it may not be able to meet demand for its new Intel-based MacBook Pro in the current quarter. The company plans to open 40 new retail stores--most of which will open domestically--while others are to be built in Canada, the UK, and Japan. Apple's music business accounted for 59 percent of the company's revenue, while the iTunes Music Store accounted for 83 percent of legally downloaded music in the month of December. iTunes reaches 90 percent of the global music market and sold 850 million songs and 8 million videos to date.
Lower forecast for Q2
Apple's stock was down today in after-hours trading after the company offered a second-quarter forecast that was not as bright as investors hoped. Apple's forecast of 42 cents on revenue of $4.3 billion, which was short of analysts' average expectations of 51 cents per share on revenue of $4.83 billion, according to Reuters. The company said that the forecast, which represents a revenue increase of nearly 33 percent and double digit profit increase, is based on the shorter 13-week quarter, combined with a greater-than-normal seasonal decline in overall business--due in part to its large music sales in the December quarter--and an expected sales slow down in its transition to new Intel-based Macs. The company also said it may not meet demand for its forthcoming Intel-based MacBook Pro, which is due to ship in February.
iPod helps med students
Doctors can improve their skills using an iPod, according a new report. The time-tested stethoscope is being replaced more and more by high-tech (and high-cost) diagnostic scans to learn more about their patients' internal condition. The iPod or other listening device can help train doctors to use their stethoscope more and be more efficient, according to TIME. Dr. Michael Barrett of Temple University in Philadelphia, in a study published today in the American Journal of Medicine, concluded that medical students improved their stethoscope skills dramatically if they listened to certain digitally recorded soundtracks that mimic the distinctive vibrations produced by various valve problems and other cardiac conditions.
PumpPod for iPod
PumpPod, a personal training program, is now available for the iPod. Also compatible with the Treo, Tungston, Zire, iPAQ and other image-ready handheld devices, PumpPod provides consumers of varying fitness levels and needs with step-by-step workout instructions and color images to ensure proper form and execution. PumpPod is a collection of over 40 workouts (i.e. total body, abs and core, yoga, Pilates, etc.) in JPEG- formatted images that can be downloaded to a photo-ready handheld device and played while you listen to music. The PumpPod Individual Trainers come in four categories-- TotallyPumped, Pumped2Go, PumpedforLife, and PumpedMama- ranging in price from $20-30 each, with packages available.
Apple sees sales \'pause\'
Apple today said it saw a "pause" in customer demand related to sales of its Macs. The pause which it saw in holiday quarter was associated with its move to using Intel microprocessors, the company's chief financial officer told Reuters: "We did see what we think was a bit of a pause from some customers associated with the Intel transition," said Peter Oppenheimer, Apple's CFO, in a telephone interview. "Apple is very pleased with customer and analyst response to our new Intel based Macs."
PresenterNet, Mac users
Mac and Firefox users have been identified as PresenterNet's highest growth populations in both audience members and presenters, according to a newly released report. A new survey by PresenterNet, a provider of online interactive Web presentation services, indicates that there has been a significant increase in Mac users, compared to a slower growth rate for Windows. PresenterNet expects that this increase is due to a surge in Macintosh customer acceptance and word-of-mouth recommndations. PresenterNet's Firefox base has also gained at an accelerated rate, compared to that of Microsoft Internet Explorer. "All feedback indicates that Macintosh presenters choose PresenterNet because it's easy to use. There are no downloads required, and users of any platform can be confident that their Mac audiences can enter any PresenterNet conference effortlessly," said PresenterNet CEO Doug Wolfgram.
Unity, ReelBean, inkBook
Unity 1.2.1 ($250) is a free update to the 3D authoring package that adds support for USB Overdrive mice, improves stability of games running on Microsoft Windows, adds support for some old graphics cards, and fixes a few rare bugs. The software allows developers to create 3D games with animated characters and graphics as a standalone application, a dashboard widget, or for the web. A new framework uses Unity’s shading engine to make real-time full-screen graphics effects.
ReelBean 0.70 (free) updates the media converter and player, adding a new window that can display or edit movie annotations. Text data can be associated with movie files while some fields are used by Spotlight as search criteria, enabling the application to include movie files in search results that match the text data associated with the movie. The update also offers user-interface improvements, adds better identification of video/audio codecs, and includes several minor bug fixes. [Download - 764KB]
Alarm Clock Pro 7.5.4 ($20) updates the digital alarm software, adding an Apply/Cancel/OK button to the alarm editor, as well as the ability to send a command to the modem. Version 7.5.4 can auto-fill information from Apple Mail for its send email option, and can email attachments. Additional enhancements include full keyboard access compatibility, an added timer alarm-type for all alarms, and support for "wake from sleep" for Mac OS X 10.2 and 10.3. [Download - 5.8MB]
Password Retriever 5.1.1 ($20) secures usernames, passwords, credit card numbers, receipts, and other sensitive information in a customizable database featuring up to 448-bit Blowfish encryption. The update provides a new disk image for Mac OS X, sets the load field option in the service window, and automatically saves changes. Password Retriever 5.1.1 offers clearer update instructions, the ability to save a copy, and can randomly generate passwords from the service windows. [Download - 4.5MB]
Package Toolkit 1.1.2 ($300) updates the USPS shipping assistant, adding sample files for AppleScript import and export automation of shipping data from external systems. Version 1.1.2 offers additional interface enhancements based on over a year of user feedback, and integrates UPS OnLine Tools directly into a FileMaker Pro 7/8 compatible database. Direct hardware support allows weights to 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.
inkBook 1.2.0 ($20) brings Intel-Mac compatibility to the free-form, Ink-enabled note taking application built for use with Apple's Inkwell handwriting recognition system. Users take notes on a familiar spiral notebook surface with a tablet and pen, after which Inkwell attempts to recognize the notes. Version 1.2.0 improves stroke recognition, fixes a failure to save some images, and remedies a potential drawing corruption of ink when loading a file. [Download - 972KB]
Apple reports $565M profit
Apple today reported the highest revenue and earnings in its history. For its fiscal 2006 first quarter ended December 31, 2005, Apple posted a net quarterly profit of $565 million ($.65 per diluted share) on previously announced revenues of $5.75 billion in the 14-week December quarter, beating analyst expectations of $0.61 per share profit. The results compare to revenue of $3.49 billion and a net profit of $295 million, or $.35 per diluted share, in the year-ago quarter. Gross margin was 27.2 percent, down from 28.5 percent in the year-ago quarter, while international sales accounted for 40 percent of the quarter's revenue. Apple said it shipped 1,254,000 Macs and 14,043,000 iPods during the quarter, representing 20 percent growth in Macs and 207 percent growth in iPods over the year-ago quarter.
Apple needs accessibility
One expert believes that Apple needs to make its interface more accessible to people with disabilities. Disability expert Anthony Tusler says that Apple must make its user interface more accessible to all users. Citing Apple's penchant for innovation, Tusler complained that more engery should be directed towards accessability issues, according to a Macworld UK report. Tusler will be launching a partnership with the US Academy of Art Insitute in February to encourage industrial design students to create universal design concepts. "I know they will discover that universal design is a puzzle to be solved that will help people with disabilities and the aging Baby Boomers," he said.
Fox cautious about iTunes
Fox television is being cautious with its move to the digital distribution age. The company told Reuters that it is taking a more cautious approach than rival networks in making its most popular TV shows available for new distribution outlets, such as iTunes: "It's been our strategy not to try to go out first with announcements but to go out with our best strategy. We're taking a more measured approach to what works and would not work," Fox Entertainment President Peter Liguori said during a presentation to TV critics in Pasadena. Earlier this week, both NBC and ABC agreed that making digital episodes available via iTunes had helped boost TV ratings, despite caution offered by some analysts.
Napster\'s future uncertain
Napster--one of Apple's primary competitors within the digital music industry--is facing an uncertain future, according to one report, despite one analyst saying that subscriptions have increased. A report surfaced yesterday from Digital Music News suggesting that the subscription provider is suffering from "a dire company situation." Reports from sources inside the company apparently point to "a substantial round of layoffs," as well as a fire sale or company liquidation. Napster's CEO disputed the claims, and the firm recently announced that its premium paid subscription base breached the half million mark. Meanwhile, Piper Jaffray senior analyst Gene Munster yesterday said he is confident Napster's subscriptions will bounce back due to the company's increased marketing efforts during the month of December, 2005.
Liquid Ledger 1.5
Modeless Software today released Liquid Ledger 1.5, an update to its personal finance software. The new release helps users address a wider range of accounting scenarios such as the ability to schedule transactions for automated entry, improved support for working in multiple currencies, and new interfaces for importing and exporting financial data. Additional features include a new batch-entry mode, new feature for printing financial statements, new drag and drop support for organization of account activity, new software update assistant, and improved support for AppleScript scripting. A 60-day trial version is now available for free download. It is available for purchase as a $75 download or $90 for the full retail version with CD-ROM.
Woz podcast on wireless
In brief: Steve Wozniak recently spoke of his use of wireless technology, whose names are on his speed dial, and why he switched from analog to digital cell phones in an interview available as podcast.... A group of unix users are looking to create a new .Mac-like service, offering features such as Webmail, Calendar, address book, Photo Album, etc.... Selfridges--an upscale London department store--is set to offer iPod usage lessons to its customers who are apparently "baffled" by Apple's digital media player.... Total Training has announced five new Instructional DVDs for Adobe's new Production Studio-- to help users learn about new integration and workflow features- and two additional series for web design tool Flash....Many universities are now allowing lectures to be webcast and podcast, in turn causing concern over student attendance.
ScriptPak for QuickBooks
MacSpeech has released a new ScriptPak for QuickBooks 2006, which installs over 250 commands into its iListen software, allowing users to do virtually anything by voice in QuickBooks 2006 that they would normally do using keyboard shortcuts or menus. "Like our previous ScriptPak for QuickBooks Pro, this ScriptPak gives users unprecedented control of their QuickBooks 2006 application with their voice," said MacSpeech Chief Evangelist Chuck Rogers. "This new ScriptPak adds commands that are unique to QuickBooks 2006." The ScriptPak for QuickBooks 2006 is available immediately from the MacSpeech web site and sells for $30. iListen 1.6.8 or later is required to use the new ScriptPak.
InterGate Intercept debuts
Vicomsoft today released a new module for its internet administration software that is blocking instant messaging programs, as well as internet telephony applications such as Skype. The new product--dubbed InterGate Intercept--is a module within the company's InterGate Policy Manager Suite, a set of applications designed to prevent unauthorized usage of the internet during working hours. The software can block peer-to-peer traffic such as eDonkey and the Gnutella network, as well as voice-over-IP traffic that evaded network security software in the past (system requirements and pricing were unavailable).
EP Edition Themes
KeynotePro has launched its all-new EP Edition Themes for Keynote. EP Edition Themes enables users of Keynote, Apple's presentation software included in the iWork application suite, to create presentations optimized for video or slideshow use on the fifth-generation iPod video. The EP Edition Themes, short for Elevator Pitch, updates three of its most popular Keynote Themes for enhanced readability on the iPod's screen-- with each slide also Title-Safe optimized to ensure that presenters using the iPod AV Cable to connect their iPod to a television do not lose important details. The EP Edition Themes are available for immediate download for $10 or in a "Launch Event Bundle" that offers three EP Edition Themes for $25.
NitroAV\'s Vanguard IIIs
NitroAV.com announced the 2-Bay Vanguard IIIs SATA & USB2 Combo External Hardware RAID system. Each hot-swappable drive tray provides an independent tray lock and drive status LED. Vanguard IIIs supports RAID 0 (striping) and RAID 1 (mirroring), an LCD display, disk/fan/temperature failure detectors to ensure system stability, and data auto-rebuilding. NitroAV.com also offers complementing PCI and CardBus adapters for desktop, laptop or server needs. Available in 320GB ($240), 500GB ($490), 800GB ($860), or 1 terabyte ($1,150) capacities.
Core Five Creative today launched tagSwap.net, a new website designed to foster the exchange of custom tags among Lasso developers. Site visitors can download Lasso custom tags anonymously for free, without the need to create an account beforehand. All tags posted to tagSwap.net must be open-source and include complete source code. Registered users can leave comments about tags that may benefit developers, such as usage or implementation tips. The website's initial launch offers 100 custom tags in the library, while providing RSS feeds for the 10 latest and most popular tags. "We're thrilled to be able to provide this resource for the Lasso community," said Jason Huck, President and CTO of Core Five Creative.
Apple explains MiniStore
Apple has responded to users claims that its iTunes software had become spyware, updating the feature in question accordingly. On relaunch, iTunes 6.0.2 now offers a dialogue allowing users to decide whether to enable the "MiniStore" feature, which reports information about songs that are clicked back to Apple. Apple released iTunes 6.0.2 on January 10th, but two days later avid Mac users discovered that the software quietly communicated information over the internet, both to Apple and to a company based in Orem, Utah. The MiniStore was activated by default in iTunes previously, but has now been deactivated until users choose to activate the feature. [updated]
Free videos for iPod
FUSA today announced the availability of video iPod channels at its searchforvideo.com service. With the recent surge in iPod video sales, many users search for free video content and find the search challenging, as the popular iTunes service requires payment for most of its content. Searchforvideo.com video iPod channels offer various videos for download specifically onto an iPod for free. All videos downloaded from searchforvideo.com iPod channels are compatible with the video iPod and are updated frequently.
Art for iTunes
Two new applications were released today that help users work with iTunes. WuffWuffWare released the CoverScout for Mac OS X ($8), designed to help the iTunes user incorporate missing artwork into their library. CoverScout searches various websites to find missing album artwork, allowing the user to pick the correct version. Menuet 1.0 is a skinnable iTunes controller, adding support for iTunes users to control the application in a variety of ways. The application includes hot keys, click controls, a full browse menu, smart browse options, and a skinnable remote. Menuet 1.0, available for $13, requires Mac OS 10.4.
Anti-theft software debuts
Orbicule has released its anti-theft protection software, dubbed Undercover 1.0. After a theft occurs, Undercover reveals the internet location of the Mac and transmits screenshots at regular intervals of the device in-use, enabling owners to closely monitor their stolen property. In the event that recovery fails, the application will simulate a hardware failure, gradually making the Mac's screen unusable. The erratic behavior is accompanied by a Mac OS X system message stating that a hardware failure has been detected, ideally urging the thief to bring the Mac to an authorized Apple reseller. At that point Undercover will show a full-screen message alerting the reseller--or someone who bought the Mac from the thief--that the machine has been stolen, that it has become unusable, and that it needs to be returned as soon as possible. Undercover 1.0 requires Mac OS X 10.4 and is priced at $30.
Arabic version of iPod
An Arabic version of Apple's iPod will soon be available, according to a new report. GulfNews.com reports that the localized version of the iPod could be launched in the Middle East within the coming months. "Apple is working on this. A prototype has already been made available to us," said Elias Abou-Rustom, general manager of Arab Business Machine, Apple's independent marketing company for the Middle East. According to the report, Rustom's company is working closely with Apple to launch the Arabic version of the iPod, as well as a localized version of the Mac OS X Tiger operating system. "Apple's growing product line has also seen significant success in the Middle East through 2005. While the iMacs continue their traditional popularity in the region and worldwide, the iPods have become an iconic product for people of all ages across the Middle East."
Apple, Sony do iTunes deal
iTunes Australia has finally reached an agreement to sell Sony BMG music. In late October, Apple launched iTunes Australia with one million songs from both major and independent record labels and over 1,000 music videos; however, conspicuously absent were Sony BMG artists. The report says that Apple's flat-rate pricing and file compatibility with Sony music players were sticking points in the protracted negogiations, according to The Age. "The agreement ends a long-running dispute between Sony and Apple that has affected the Australian and Japanese versions of the world's most popular music download store. It also means that the 1 million-plus Australian iPod owners can now legally download the music of some of the biggest names in pop."
Minions of Mirth for OS X
Prairie Games has released its new role-playing game, Minions of Mirth for Mac OS X. "Minions of Mirth gives the player an incredible amount of freedom in their role-playing experience! It can be played in single player, multiplayer, and even allows friends to run their own custom persistent worlds!." The game features an autopatcher that delivers immediate content and feature upgrades, full single player support, fee-free multiplayer gaming, six-character parties, online alliances with up to 36 characters, and more. Minions features 16 playable classes, 12 playable races, multiclass characters in three careers up to level 100, and three playable realms: Fellowship of Light, Minions of Darkness, and the Monster Realm. Minions of Mirth is available for the special price of $25 ($5 discount) through January 31st, 2006.
Intel misses estimates
Apple today will report its financial earnings for its fiscal 2006 first quarter as well as hold its analyst/press conference call at 5 pm ET. Analysts are expecting earnings of 61 cents per share on sales of $5.47 billion, according to a Thomson Financial poll. The Associated Press reports that the outlook includes a non-cash share-based compensation expense of 3 cents per share. Last week at Macworld Expo, Apple CEO Steve Jobs reported that it had over $1 billion in sales from its retail stores around the world and that Apple finished the quarter with nearly $5.7 billion in overall sales, sending Apple's stock to an all-time high, prompting upgrades and higher estimates from several analysts, and lifting its marketcap past Dell's.
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