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Apple's iMac Core Duo performance claims are being challenged by a new report claiming that "real-world" performance is only between 10 to 25 percent faster than its IBM PowerPC-based counterpart, far lower than the doubling in throughput widely claimed by Apple. According to Techworld.com, "[Macworld] carried out a series of tasks using two Apple applications, iMovie and iPhoto, discovering that performance boost ranged from worthy to absolutely nothing, depending on the application function tested. For Apple applications that aren't yet Intel native - running using the Rosetta emulator - the performance is only half what it would be on the PowerPC architecture that preceded the switch to Intel. This is potentially calamitous for the average Mac user because until Apple applications arrive that have been compiled to run on the Intel chips natively, they will be forced to use Rosetta and see performance drop compared to their PowerPC machines."
iWork takes on MS Office
Apple's iWork surpassed Corel's WordPerfect Office to become the second leading productivity suite in the US in 2005, behind Microsoft Office. CNET News.com reports Apple grabbed a 2.7 percent unit share, while Corel had a 1.6 percent share: Microsoft maintained its dominance with nearly 95 percent of unit sales. "Apple's share is particularly impressive considering that iWork runs only on Macs, which account for a small fraction of computers, said NPD analyst Chris Swenson. "Apple's success for iWork has been pretty surprising," he said. Among Mac users, market researcher NPD said that Apple took 17.4 percent of the market, while Microsoft's Office accounted for virtually the rest of the unit sales. "Apple's iWork didn't overtake Microsoft Office, but I think taking almost a fifth of the Mac Office Suite market away from an entrenched competitor such as Microsoft is quite an accomplishment," Swenson said. Earlier this month, Apple announced an updated version of iWork '06.
Rolling Lite case debuts
Pacific Design today rolled out its Rolling Lite carrying case for notebook computers, designed to be one of the lightest and most compact cases on the market. The Rolling Lite case weighs under five pounds, and features inline skate wheels as well as ergonomic handles. The compact design allows the case an ideal carry-on item, fitting easily into overhead compartments or under airline seats. Constructed from ballistic nylon and satin nickel hardware, the case offers a choice of two padded computer protection pockets, two organizer compartments, and a business organizer compartment with a removable cable. The Rolling Lite carrying case is available for $80 with a lifetime warranty, and fits all 15-inch laptops.
Ziplight, QuickAccess, Art
Ziplight Spotlight Plugin 1.0 (free download) allows the user to use Spotlight to find archived, compressed files. Ziplight searches the names of the files within a zip archive from within Spotlight. Ziplight requires Mac OS X Tiger.
[Download - 288k]
Abracode's QuickAccesCM version 1.7 (free) a free plug-in for easy access to frequently used folders, documents, and applications. The new version adds finder's "recent servers" (for Mac OS X 10.4 only), multilevel submenu support with path-like menu names, applications added to QuickAccess menu which can open a document user ctrl-clicked on, and QuickAccess is now a Universal binary. [Download - 486KB]
ArtRage 2.0 ($20) is a painting tool for Mac OS X that utilizes realistic paints, allowing users to create paintings from nothing or load photos and recreate them with oil paints. The application offers tools designed to feel real, allowing users to pick them up and use them without prior knowledge or experience. ArtRage 2 offers 12 painting tools, each incorporating customizable properties to achieve different effects. [Download - 3.5MB]
iPod.iTunes 3.1 ($35) evaluates the source for songs, videos and/or playlists that are not in the target folder or iPod and only adds those items, avoiding duplicates. The application can also transfer song dependent data such as "My Rating", "Last Played", "Play Count", album artwork, and more. iPod.iTunes 3.1 features eight synchronization modes in two directions--from iPod to iTunes and iTunes to iPod--, simple one-click synchronization, and more. [Download - 374KB]
New iPod software
Avanquest Software announced it will retail four new titles of iPod software, and announced another two coming in February. WebPodStudio, PodPresenter, iPocketBible, and iExtend are all applications designed to benefit both iPod consumers and PodCast creators. WebPodCast aids in the production of audio and video PodCasts using a microphone, camera, and the WebPodStudio application. WebPodStudio by Lionhardt Technologies requires Windows XP, NT, or 2003, DirectX 8.x or higher, is compatible with Apple's new iPod Video 5G and is priced at $50.
FMP 8 hosting, MathScore
In brief: Point In Space Internet Solutions today announced its FileMaker Pro 8 database hosting on FileMaker Server 8 Advanced.... Accurate Learning Systems today announced individual home subscriptions for MathScore.com, an internet-based adaptive mathematics practice environment.... Wincent today announced Synergy 2.4, an iTunes software application that helps the user control iTunes via system-wide hotkeys.... Apple's iTunes video download service has started a major trend in online commerce, according to a new research report.... Big Nerd Ranch has announced its spring dates for the PostgreSQL 8.1 Bootcamp.... The G5 Drive Bracket Team today announced a two-day special of $40 for its brackets until January 25th at 11:59 p.m. MST.
Adobe debuts Acrobat 3D
Adobe Systems today debuted Adobe Acrobat 3D for UNIX variants and Microsoft Windows, but not for Mac OS X. The new desktop software designed to help extend document-based 3D design collaboration, allowing users to easily convert 3D models from a wide variety of major computer-aided design (CAD) formats and embed them into Adobe PDF files--regardless of whether they have CAD software. The software enables users to enhance the interactivity of 3D objects in PDF documents by editing lighting, adding textures and materials, and creating animations such as assembly and disassembly instructions. Adobe's Acrobat product manager told Architosh that nothing is precluding them from developing a version for Mac OS X, and that if the market responds by requesting a native Mac OS X native version of Acrobat 3D, Adobe is willing to produce one.
Digital music without PC
Apple and Sony are helping push digital music beyond the PC to other digital devices, changing the model from a PC-based digital music universe. According to a new Research and Markets report the need for PC use with digital music is coming to an end. So far, digital music has been a PC-centric phenomenon which has developed without disturbing the world of home audio. But for digital entertainment purposes, 2006 marks the end of the PC era and a bevy of new product announcements and partnerships at CES 2006 provides clear evidence that digital music will soon arrive in the living room, alongside the home hi-fi. Using technology already developed by companies such as Apple and Sony, the new integration is to be expected soon, as broadband internet lines are routinely connected to a fast-emerging category of digital home entertainment systems, rather than PCs. [purchase required]
Record label concerns
Followers of the digital music industry are voicing concerns that the growth of legitimate downloads-- such as those offered by Apple's iTunes Music Store- have incurred lasting damage to record labels' profitability. "Music has become a disposable item," said Nicholas Firth, chairman and CEO of BMG Music Publishing. "For many people it's a traffic builder," Firth said. The $1.1 billion earned last year in digital music sales is mostly comprised of online iTunes sales, and some believe that Apple's dominating website is part of the problem, according to a report from the Associated Press. "I'm hearing that the artists aren't happy, the publishers aren't happy. Someone other than Apple needs to be happy for this industry to grow," said Amit Shafrir, president of AOL's premium services arm. AOL is set to launch its own music website allowing users to download unlimited tracks on a monthly-basis.
iTunes video service trend
Apple's iTunes video download service has started a major trend in online commerce, according to a new research report. While the push to online video had started well before the launch of the video iPod, the online video "big bang" seemed to start with Apple's video download service announcement and continued through the CES show this year. Competitive offerings include those from Starz and Google-- Starz launched its own premium movie subscription plan as Vongo, a $10 a month "all-you-can-eat" video download service. With Vongo, Starz is partnering with Microsoft to deliver the content, which will be available on Windows MCE PCs and Windows Portable Media Center devices.
Bare Bones\' Yojimbo 1.0
Bare Bones today announced Yojimbo 1.0, a new information organizer that helps users store, organize, and retrieve virtually any type of information. Leveraging an iTunes-like single-window interface, the software features several different input methods, including a hotkey to quickly add clipboard material or URLs using a "Quick Input Panel," a drag & drop "junk" drawer to which users can drag virtually any selectable text and/or images, and PDF-print feature that can "print" electronic documents in PDF format directly into the appication's database. Leveraging Mac OS X Tiger's sync services, Yojimbo offers transparent sync services for seamless integration with AddressBook, iCal, .Mac and more. In addition, the software offers "smart categories"--much like iTunes' smart playlists--item-by-item encryption, instant search filtering, Spotlight integration, and more. Pricing starts at $40 for a single-user license (on any number of computers).
Mac Lotus, Domino support
IBM today officially announced expanded Mac support for Lotus Notes 7 and Lotus Domino Web Access. IBM said it will provide expanded support for Mac OS X, including support for Lotus Notes 7 on Apple's Mac OS X 10.4 "Tiger" with integrated Lotus Sametime instant messaging, and plans to support Apple's new Intel-based Macs. Additionally, IBM announced forthcoming Macintosh support for Domino Web Access, IBM's browser-based messaging client, via the open-source Firefox browser. Last week we reported that the tech-giant would soon unveil its plans to expand Mac support, offering Mac users more presence in the business arena despite their minority status.
Microspot Interiors 3.6
Microspot today released Microspot Interiors 3.6, updating the interior design application by allowing users to draw walls at angles other than 90-degrees and offering two new tools with three new palettes. Microspot Interiors is a 3D design application that allows users to quickly visualize interior designs and create animations that can be recorded as movies to be viewed by anyone with QuickTime. The update adds the ability to import 3ds files, increasing the possible items that can be placed into 3D scenes. Version 3.6 also adds dynamic tessellation and support for translucent objects, offering enhanced rendering speed and improved Tiger support. Microspot Interiors 3.6 is available for $130, and requires Mac OS X 10.2 or later. Upgrades are available to existing users for $50.
Core Duo errors
Just days after the release of Intel's new Core processors, at least 34 errata have been found in the Intel Core Duo processors. Intel says it has scheduled a fix for only one of the 34 erratas in the new Core Duo chips, which ship with Apple's Intel Macs, according to Geek News. Errors in new systems are not uncommon-- the Pentium 4 has at least 65 known errata with no plans for fixes- but the software usually is able to work around these issues; however, the report notes that the high number of errors reported soon after the initial release is startling: "this high number of immediate errata should leave one a little chilled, I'd say. Releasing a brand new processor with 34 known errors seems almost criminal to me."
Master Perfection Suite
BIAS has announced that its Master Perfection Suite--an ensemble of six professional audio processing plug-ins--will ship in March for AU, DirectX, RTAS, and VST host applications on Mac OS X as well as Windows XP. The suite includes Repli-Q (spectral matching), PitchCraft (pitch correction/manipulation), Reveal (analysis), Sqweez-3 and -5 (multi-band dynamic processing), SuperFreq (parametric EQ), and GateEx (gate/expander). The Master Perfection Suite, which is currently bundled with the Peak Pro XT Edition ($1,200) will be available separately in March of 2006 for $600, and $400 for the academic edition. Upgrades are free to the Master Perfection Suite with AU, DirectX, RTAS, and VST host compatibility for all Peak Pro XT customers (system requirements were unavailable).
StevePerfect 6.5 is a free suite of applications for Mac OS X that includes a word processor, picture viewer, e-mail client, dictionary client, QuickTime viewer, mp3 player, streaming QuickTime viewer, editpad, iTunes controller, Internet text, and an integrated help system. New features in version 6.5 include interface changes, a full-screen moview viewer, a faster text engine, Spotlight integration, a new help system, software updates, and minor bug fixes. Built for PowerPC G3, G4, and G5, StevePerfect 6.5 requires Mac OS X 10.4 or greater, and runs on Intel-Macs under Rosetta emulation. StevePerfect 6.5 is available as a free download.
Absoft Fortran compilers
Absoft Corporation announced today new Fortran compilers optimized for both Intel Xeon and AMD Opteron processors running Linux, along with plans to offer the new compilers for 32-bit and 64-bit Mac OS X using Intel processors. The new compilers will also be available in software development kits (SDKs) and bundles from Absoft for clusters, grids, and servers running Mac OS X, including the new Intel-Mac systems. The new Absoft Fortran compilers support the full Fortran 95 specifications, many Fortran 2003 extensions, and can generate both 64-bit and 32-bit executables. A 12-month subscription of "Express Fortran" starts at $300, "Express Plus Fortran" at $600, and "Standard Fortran" starts at $800 (special pricing for existing Absoft customers available through March 31). The 64-bit version for Mac OS X is available now, while the 32-bit version is expected in February.
500mW iMac G5 Transceiver
QuickerTek today announced the ability to boost iMac wireless range with its iMac G5 Transceiver for 17-inch iMac G5. The QuickerTek 17-inch iMac G5 Transceiver delivers a full 500 milliwatts of RF power. By comparison, iMacs tend to average a little more than 30 milliwatts, according to QuickerTek. The Transceiver clips onto the iMac case and the other end connects to the AirPort card inside the Mac, adding ten times the normal RF power. The QuickerTek iMac G5 Transceiver costs $200, and requires Mac OS 9.2 or higher.
Apple PB G4 repair program
Apple has launched a PowerBook G4 memory slot repair extension program that offers free repairs for customers who purchased eligible PowerBooks which display certain symptoms, even if the notebook warranty has expired. Customers who purchased a PowerBook G4 15-inch 1.67/1.5GHz model that was manufactured between approximately January 2005 and April 2005, displaying serial numbers between W8503xxxxxx and W8518xxxxxx are eligible for the program. The symptoms which may only occur intermittently include failure to start up--typically followed by three beeps and the sleep LED flashing periodically--, only one SO-DIMM memory slot recognizes the memory installed when both memory slots are populated, and degraded system performance due to the recognition of only one memory chip.
eBay MBP, Mactel rebates
In brief: An Apple MacBook Pro is apparently being sold on eBay.com, despite the previously-announced shipment of the new Intel Macs slated for February.... Amazon.com is offering a $150 rebate on the new 1.67Ghz MacBook Pro, 1.83Ghz MacBook Pro, and the 20-inch 2GHz iMac Core Duo as well as a $125 rebate on the 17-inch 1.83GHz iMac Core Duo, which is currently available.... Bombia Design has launched its new version of Iconkits.com, a source for numerous stock icons.... GarageBand community iCompositions.com has posted a full listing of all Apple Loops and Software Instruments included in the company's new GarageBand Jam Pack: World Music.... Mireth Technology has released Universal Binary versions of its Mac OS X privacy software--NetShred X 3.16.1 and ShredIt X 5.6.1. [updated]
Sims 2 Nightlife
Aspyr Media today announced that it will publish The Sims 2 Nightlife, the second expansion to The Sims 2. "Your Sims are on the town hitting all the swanky hot spots. Whether they're dancing until dawn, romancing that special someone, or striking out at the bowling alley, it'll be an unforgettable night! Let your Sims loose to enjoy their favorite after-dark activities as they pursue a life of pleasure. Determine their love lives as you discover the chemistry between Sims. Will their life aspirations and personalities click or clash? It could be the beginning of a stormy affair or a dating disaster." Due in March, The Sims 2 Nightlife, which requires The Sims 2 ($50), is licensed by Electronic Arts and is being developed for Mac by Aspyr Studios. (Pricing and system requirements not yet available.)
UK online fraud, iPods
A UK official recently proposed the idea of providing everyone with a free iPod, each harboring a digital certificate to combat online fraud. Patrick Cooper, head of applications and data services in the UK Department of Trade and Industry said the iPod strategy would be a more cost-efficient alternative to other government plans to combat online fraud, such as modifying the proposed National ID Card with a PIN or password system which would allow it to work as an online authentication device, according to a report from CNET News.com. Giving each person an iPod nano rather than adopting the ID card scheme would reduce costs by roughly £360 per-person, prior to any bulk discounts Apple might offer on a 60 million unit order, according to the report.
UK ad agency goes \'Mac\'
One of the world's most prestigious advertising agencies has built a new in-house production facility around Apple technology and is now reaping the rewards--both in terms of cost savings and the quality of its output, according to a profile by Apple. Ad company AMV's in-house digital production facility--The Lab--runs almost exclusively on Apple technology, and is setting an example of how Macs can improve business. Using dual-processor Power Mac G5s, The Lab has allowed AMV to eliminate the need to out-source their post-production needs, reducing cost. Apple Solutions Experts NMR set up The Lab so that all operators could access Final Cut Pro, Shake, Motion, Logic, Photoshop, Maya, Illustrator, InDesign, and DVD Studio Pro, with all machines interlinked for constant updates.
Open Door apps, Mactels
Open Door Networks announced that all of its internet security products--DoorStop X Firewall, Who's There? Firewall Advisor, and the DoorStop X Security Suite--are available as Universal Binaries, offering native support for Apple's new Intel Macs. DoorStop X Firewall 1.1.1 ($50) blocks and logs access attempts to a Mac, and is a free upgrade to all registered users. Who's There? Firewall Advisor 2.0.1 ($30) is designed to help users better understand and react to access attempts detected by most Mac firewalls, and is a free upgrade for registered users of version 2.0. The DoorStop X Security Suite ($70) contains DoorStop X Firewall, Who's There? Firewall Advisor, and the "Internet Security for Your Macintosh" ($10) electronic book that covers internet security concepts and issues.
Wincent today announced Synergy 2.4, an iTunes software application. Synergy helps the user control iTunes via system-wide Hot Keys, allowing the user to switch between and play songs on iTunes without accessing the program. The new version is intended to fix issues related to running natively on Apple's new Intel Macs. Version 2.4 corrects problems setting Hot Keys with modifiers, offers 24 new downloadable buttons including four Editor Picks, brings compatiblity with iTunes 6.0.2, and more. Synergy 2.4 is a Cocoa application for Mac OS X 10.2 and later; it is a free update for current license holders, or 5€ for a new license.
COI for Jobs?
In the second day of a pre-scheduled two-day session, Disney's Board of Directors are contemplating several different partnership scenarios with Pixar--including a full buyout of Pixar, which could create a conflict of interest in certain situations for Apple CEO Steve Jobs. A new Wall Street Journal report discusses some of the potential conflicts--for both Disney and Apple--with Apple's CEO Disney's Board, which is rumored to be part of most Disney-Pixar scenarios. "People close to the Pixar-Disney talks acknowledge that board-level discussions about Disney's navigation of the digital world would clearly create conflict at times for Mr. Jobs and that he will be expected to recuse himself from sensitive meetings. Some deals, such as Disney's move to sell television shows through iTunes are dealt with at a business-unit level, and don't require board approval, so Mr. Jobs might never have oversight of such decisions." [subscription required]
WinTel 2.01 ships
OpenOSX today began shipping a native Intel version of its "WinTel 2.0.1" emulation product. WinTel is an easy-to-use stand-alone application for configuring and utilizing the included open-source "Bochs" software, that allows use of x86/Pentium-based operating systems under Mac OS X. Version 2.01 features Bochs binaries that have been accelerated for the Intel-based Macs, bringing a 200-400 percent increased performance over the v2.0.0 release. The Cocoa WinTel front-end GUI is now also a Universal Binary for beter performance. The minor update also eliminates several potential bugs, along with adding a preference for using optimized or non-optimized binaries for increased compatibility. OpenOSX WinTel starts at $25 for electronic delivery. Upgrades from v2.x are free, while upgrades from 1.x are start at $15 (electronic).
Indie video on iTunes
A new digital video distribution deal will bring more independent video content to the iTunes Music Store. Macworld UK reports that "a wave of music videos from indie artists signed to labels such as Defected, Ninja Tune and Domino records seem set to debut on iTunes... Acts could include Joey Negro, Coldcut, Roots Manuva, the Herbalizer, Mouse on Mars and even Sebadoh, depending on what music videos sit untouched within label archives." The report says that distributor Vital:PIAS Digital (VPD) has inked three new deals for increasing worldwide distribution of music and videos from over 100 leading independent labels, adding music videos from VPD partner labels to already available collection of more than 3,000 music videos available from iTunes in the US, UK, and Europe.
Google edges Apple
Google has regained its title as the most popular global brand in 2005, while Apple was still the top brand in the US. Google, which displaced Apple for the second time, was picked as the brand that "had the most impact"--positive or negative--worldwide, in BrandChannel.com fifth annual online survey of over 2500 readers. Apple and Google have traded the top two spots in each of the past five years, with Apple taking the title in both 2001 and 2004. Both brands garnered more than double the votes of No. 3 Skype, eBay's internet telephony service. Coffee retailer Starbucks, home-furnishing warehouse Ikea, mobile phone manufacturer Nokia, internet portal Yahoo, open-source browser Firefox, internet-auction site eBay, and consumer electronics giant Sony rounded out the top 10 global brands. In the US, the top five brands were Apple, Google, Starbucks, Target, and Lance Armstrong, respectively. "Apple loses the battle for world dominance this year in our Global results but soundly beats Google at home. Similar to the Global contest, the two have shared top five distinction in the US & Canada results for the last four years."
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