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Intel Mac vulnerability
Answering concerns over Apple's switch to Intel-based processors, one analyst assures that Macs are still relatively safe. Larry Seltzer of eWeek says that although non-Mac (traditionally Intel-based) computers are typically more prone to attack than Macs, "rarely, if ever, are the existence of vulnerabilities related to the specifics of one processor architecture versus another." Seltzer maintains that familiarity with Windows on an Intel platform does not equate to familiarity with Mac OS X on an Intel platform. "If Apple's market-share shoots up and attackers suddenly have a better shot of finding Macs to attack, then more malware will be written to the Mac. But it won't be any easier to exploit for being on x86."
FW Depot, new products
FireWire Depot yesterday announced numerous additions to its SATA and CAT5 network storage solutions. The Sbox series of enclosures offer up to five hot-swap bays via a backplane for more reliable connections. Sbox enclosures feature Serial ATA II connectivity to achieve up to 3.0GBps per-channel. The Multilane, Infiniband, eSATA/SATA enclosures are compatible with 3Ware, Areaca, Promise, or High Point SATA II RAID / HBA host controllers. Additionally, the Sbox enclosures fully support RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 1-plus-0, RAID 5, or simply JBOD. Pricing ranges from $90-470, and all Sbox enclosures are Mac-compatible. The company also unveiled three LAN and USB 2.0 storage solutions priced from $350-460.
AAPL, iBook news
Apple shares (AAPL) rose about 6.3 percent at some points today after a UBS analyst said that Apple may be releasing new iBook laptops in late winter. Reuters reported that Apple has declined to state what the timeline for a new iBook release might be, but that Steve Jobs did mention at MWSF that the entire Mac line will be moving to Intel processors by the end of the year. According to Reuters, UBS analyst Benjamin Reitzes said that Apple "is likely to launch new iBook laptops as soon as April. Other potential new products this year include a "media hub," updated iPods, a media player and even a cell phone." AAPL rose up to $76.60 before dropping down to $74.90 on the Nasdaq.
Maxon\'s CINEMA 4D
Maxon has announced the availability of a Universal binary version of CINEMA 4D, its 3D animation package. CINEMA 4D contains various modules to create high-end 3D images and animations for film, advertising, scientific simulations, architecture, product design, and more. Functions include Hair, Sketch and Toon, Advanced Render, MOCCA, Thinking Particles, Net Render, Dynamics, Body Paint 3D, PyroCluster, and more. Cinema 4D runs natively on the new Intel Macs with Mac OS X 10.4.4 or higher, and is available immediately as a free upgrade for current owners of Cinema 4D R9.5x.
FireWire trade group
Apple and other high-tech companies will lead the 1394 (FireWire) Trade Association in 2006, and Eric Anderson of Apple was re-elected as board chairman following elections for the organization's nine-member board last week. Apple, Samsung Electronics, Texas Instruments, Microsoft, Agere, and Oxford Semiconductor will hold seats on the new board. Sam Liu of Newnex will serve as vice chairman. Other Board members also include Dave Thompson of Agere Systems, who will serve as the 1394 Trade Association secretary; Michael Scholles of Germany's Fraunhofer Institute for Photonic Microsystems, who was named editor and Chief Technical Officer; Mark Slezak of Microsoft; Jalil Oraee of Oxford Semiconductor, who is the chief financial officer and Jack Chaney of Samsung. "The members of this 2006 board reflect the wide influence and broad applications of the IEEE 1394 standard," said James Snider, executive director. "We have leadership and representation from a very broad range of markets, including consumer electronics, computers, peripherals, audio, and industrial. We anticipate a strong year for the standard, and excellent leadership from this diverse group."
QuickBooks 2006 released
Intuit has released QuickBooks 2006 for Mac, an update that addresses numerous bugs in the previous release. Version 2006 corrects an issue with unexpected application behavior when backing up a company file for Windows, as well as an issue with unexpected behavior when turning on contact synchronization in a company file in which previously synchronized contacts empty first name fields. The update addresses an issue with unexpected behavior when attempting to save State Tax information during PayCycle setup, and fixes a bug with duplicate employee names appearing in the Employee list after importing employee paychecks from PayCycle. Finally, missing vendor data no longer occurs after importing a contractor paycheck from PayCycle, and an issue with unexpected behavior when adding 1099 status to a vendor has been resolved. The QuickBooks 2006 update is available for free (system requirements were unavailable).
iMac passes test drive
Given a test drive, the new iMac proves to be faster than older versions but has yet to show its full potential. According to Matthew Yi of the San Francisco Chronicle, the biggest drawback for owners of the new Intel Macs is the lack of compatible software. Software intended for older Mac versions currently must be translated through the Rosetta program as they run, thus making the program's response time much slower and while Apple has updated many of its consumer software, its professional applications applications will not be Intel-native until March. ""I was able to play the World of Warcraft online game and also surf the Internet using the Safari browser without much of a hitch, while importing video clips from my digital video camera into iMovie HD. The same was true while importing photos from my Canon PowerShot A80 digital camera to iPhoto.""
Aperture2iLife ($20) allows Aperture projects/images to be used with iLife and iWork, rather than iPhoto documents. Aperture2iLife loads a project's images and generates thumbnails, while users can choose to use Master files directly or convert images to JPEGS automatically. Additionally MacNN readers can receive 10 percent off by using the coupon code "CPN4860726409" through the end of January.
[Download - 199KB]
Inquisitor 2.2 (€5) updates the instant search extension for Safari, combining as-you-type instant searching with search term prediction and multiple-engine searching in a refined interface. Version 2.2 also changes the core search engine for instant results from Yahoo to Google, and instant results are now far more relevant and useful. The update is a Universal Binary, offering compatibility with Apple's Intel-based Macs, and offers "speedier" instant search results.
BarcodeMaker 1.1.2 ($150) is a free update to the plug-in, offering dual-numbering support for ISBNs 10 and 13 to the newly-added ISSN barcode. Users can create fully customizable barcodes directly in InDesign, add numbers, change fonts and font size, control barcode height, and include or exclude checksum digits. ISBN and UPC barcodes can be marked as "strippable" or "non-strippable" to help expedite the processing of stripped cover returns in the trade paperback industry, and BarcodeMaker can append two or five digit suffixes to both ISBN and UPC barcodes. The update also offers the ability to add "EAN" or "UPC" in front of ISBN or UPC barcodes for easy identification.
Can You Raed Tihs 1.0.0 (free) helps users explore the fact that humans read entire words at-once, rather than letter-by-letter. The application scrambles words, leaving the first and last letters intact, without making the word much more difficult to read. The "scramble" process removes apostrophes as well as dashes, and messages can be pasted into Can You Raed Tihs for scrambling. [Download - 1.1MB]
FinKit 2.6 ($15) is a financial calculator that calculates annuities, bonds, dates, depreciation, interest, loans, leases, rates, and more. The update adds four new loan calculations, as well as new updated life tables from the Human Mortality Database for Australia, Iceland, Italy, Spain and Switzerland. Version 2.6 offers minor speed improvements, and is available in English, Italian, French, and Dutch. [Download - 2.3MB]
4Peaks 1.7 (unknown) is designed to help molecular biologists visualize and edit DNA sequence files. The application supports most commonly used sequence file formats, such as ABI, ALF, CTF, EXP, PLN, SCF, and ZTR. Version 1.7 fixes numerous reported bugs, and supports plug-ins for enhanced functionality. 4Peaks automatically translates DNA sequences to the protein world, allowing easy comparison and speedy analysis. [Download - 4.2MB]
iPod, ear damage
Representative Edward Mackey (D-Massachusetts) has asked the National Institutes of Health to decide on the health risks of listening to portable music players like the iPod. According to One News, Markey cited the fact that noise above 85 decibels can cause hearing damage if the noise persists for too long. Apple has declined to state the maximum decibel level of the iPod, and cautions about iPod with earbud use have been issued by various personas. Markey said in his letter that "people don't want to give up their portable music devices, however, they need to know whether they are at risk for premature hearing loss and how to protect themselves."
ToThePoint Software released TaskTime4 version 4.1, an updated version of its solution for tracking time spent on jobs for clients. TimeTask4 can generate personalized invoices which can be emailed printed, and saved to disk. New in version 4.1 is a preference option to automatically pause a running session after a specified interval of inactivity, repositioned client addresses, newly added "open recent" option to the File menu, widened date fields, fixed scrolling on the invoice window, fixed sorting of lists by dates, and more. TaskTime4 is a shareware requiring any version of Mac OS X and costs $20 for registration, $5 for an upgrade from previous versions.
Iomega expansion chassis
Iomega today unveiled the Iomega StorCenter Pro NAS 400e Expansion Chassis for its StorCenter Pro NAS 400r Server, designed for small and medium-sized business users looking to expand network storage capacity. Each 400r series server can contain up to three 400e Expansion Chassis units, and each 400e Expansion Chassis adds 1TB of storage space to the host NAS device. Users can add up to 3TB to the original NAS 400r Series server, managed under the 400r Series server's Windows Storage Server 2003 license. The StorCenter Pro NAS 400e Expansion Chassis connects via an Ultra 320 SCSI port to the Iomega StorCenter Pro NAS 400r Series server, and a maximum of 12 additional hot-swappable SATA hard drives can be connected to a single Iomega NAS 400r unit. All of the hard drives can be configured as RAID 0 (striping), 1 (mirroring), or 5 (parity); using the Expansion Chassis, RAID 5 volumes can include more than four drives for improved price-performance, and logical RAID volumes can span across multiple 400e expansion chassis's. The StorCenter Pro NAS 400e Expansion Chassis is expected to begin shipping in late February for $3,400, while the StorCenter Pro NAS 400r servers are shipping now in 640GB ($4,500), 1TB ($6,000), and 1.6TB ($7,500) capacities.
Jobs, Disney good match
Contradicting some pessimistic views of Steve Jobs' future on the board of Walt Disney, former Apple board member Edgar Woolard Jr. spoke about what he expects from Jobs in a Business Week interview. Jobs, who sold Pixar Animation Studios to Disney on January 24th, has often been portrayed as power hungry and uncompromising, but Woolard thinks otherwise. Woolard finds the Disney-Pixar merger to be a "fantastic" one, as these are two companies "that have been involved in a partnership that has worked extremely well, and [the merger] will take it to another level." Woolard believes concerns over Steve Jobs' need to be in control are nonsense, saying "[Jobs] will not come in with a heavy hand. I think he will try very hard to identify opportunities, and I think he will listen carefully to what Iger and the Disney management team has in mind, and will add suggestions."
Apple offers more refurbs
Apple is offering a variety of PowerBook G4, iMac G5, and Power Mac G5 refurbs. The company is offering a dual-2.3GHz desktop (previous-generation) for $2,000, a dual-2.5GHz for $2,050, a dual-2.7GHz for $2,150, a dual-2.3GHz (current-generation) for $2,150, and a refurb quad-2.5GHz for $2,800. Refurbished iMac G5s are available for $1,150 and $1,450 for the 17- and 20-inch models, respectively. The store is also offering a number of refurb, discounted 15-inch PowerBook G4s, including the 1.33GHz/Combo/AE model for $1,300. 1.5GHz/Comb for $1,400, the 1.67GHz/SuperDrive for $1,600 and the current-generation 1.67GHz/Comb for $1,699. Three 17-inch models with SuperDrives are also available: $1,700 (1.5GHz), $2,150 (1.67GHz/120GB), and $1850 (older-generation 1.67GHz with 100GB drive). A discounted smaller 12-inch PowerBook is $1,100 (1.5GHz/Combo).
inRESONANCE announced Generations 3.0, a major upgrade to its fundraising and alumni development solution. Based on FileMaker Pro 8, Generations 3.0 tracks and reports on constituents, gifts, funds, campaigns, events and appeals, as well as managing matching gifts, soft credits, honoraria and prospects. Emails, letters, labels and reports are all merged and generated directly, without needing to export to Excel, Word or Crystal Reports. New features include increased security, enhanced data entry features, faster database query and response, and the ability to share any data in nearly any format. Generations 3.0 runs identically on either Mac or Windows computers (availability and pricing was unavailable).
Bunny Bunny game
Phelios has announced a new game for Mac OS X, "Bunny Bunny." Bunny Bunny uses playful and colorful graphics, music, and sound to recall retro-style Japanese arcade games. "With this brain-twisting, thinking puzzle, a monkey is initially trapped inside a frozen ice block. The bunny must push the frozen monkey block onto targeted tiles. If achieved, it releases the monkey from the block and freezes the bunny. The monkey must then follow suit and push the frozen bunny block onto specific tiles." It offers 50 levels, with levels set at different time requirements and increasing difficulty. Requiring Mac OS X 10.2, Bunny Bunny is available as a free demo or a $5 purchase.
MicroNet Technology announced the availability of the MicroNet miniMateUSB, a new external hard disk and port extender. It is designed to complement the Mac mini, but can extend the capabilities of all USB-equipped desktops and laptops, adding up to 500GB of storage and three USB 2.0 expansion ports. The MiniMateUSB features a 7,200 RPM drive, less than 9 ms access time, an 8MB buffer, and and more. It requires Mac OS X 10.1.5 or later. Pricing for the MicroNet miniMate USB starts at $120, with a 500GB version available according to the company (although the price was not available and the website was not updated accordingly).
Skynet music joins iTunes
A major Belgian music retailer announced a partnership with Apple's iTunes Music Store, and will offer its customers 20 free iTunes downloads to help introduce them to the service. "From now on, Belgacom and Skynet will be offering their on-line music services via the iTunes Music Store, which means that they will be working with iTunes, the driving force behind the digital music revolution," Belgacom said. Belgacom's Skynet Music Club has been available in Belgium since 2002, and sold 1.5 million tracks online in 2005 alone. The new partnership has resulted in Skynet halting the sale of music packages, but existing customers have until the end of March of 2006 to use up leftover credit. Belgacom also unveiled plans to allow customers to pay for their iTunes purchases through an ordinary phone bill by the middle of the year, according to Macworld UK.
I.R.I.S, Blizzard request
In brief: I.R.I.S. Group today announced revised pricing for its IRISCan and IRISCard Mini (both £90) miniature scanners.... Mammoth iPod sales continue to bolster profits for Apple partners, with one Scottish electronics firm--Wolfson Microelectronics--set to reveal that iPod and Sony PSP sales have doubled its profits.... One avid Mac user has posted a request for Universal Binaries of Blizzard Entertainment's older game titles on the company's online forum.... DashboardWidgets.com has launched a new contest seeking the "Best New Widget" as determined by member voting.... The National Association of Photoshop Professionals (NAPP) today launched its new "Photoshop Killer Tips" daily video podcast.... A Belgian music retailer has announced a partnership with iTunes, and will direct all its customers to Apple's service while halting sales of its own music packages.
BofA cuts AAPL target
Banc of America Securities today lowered its price target on Apple from $85 to $82, but reinterated its 'neutral' rating on the stock. MarketWatch reports that the research firm cited concerns that Apple has reduced manufacturing levels for iPods for the fiscal second and third quarters. "At this point, we are not clear if the heavy ship out of the last week of December or weaker-than-expected demand are the reasons," analyst Keith Bachman told the publication. Bachman also reduced his March Mac shipment estimates to 1.19 million from 1.22 million, saying that shipments will be constrained by limited availability of the MacBook Pro, which is not expected to ship until late February. The firm also expressed caution as Apple's sales may face a sales slow-down--which the company said it began to see last year--in anctipation of new Intel-based Macs. Apple shares were down 30 cents to $71.89 in pre-market trading.
MacBook Pro first look
Computerworld has posted a new first look at the MacBook Pro, offering an overview of the new features along with some real-world observations, including overall performance gains, improved AirPort reception, the lack of an internal modem and FireWire 800, the high-res built-in iSight camera, and Apple's innovative MagSafe connector to avoid damage caused by the power cord connection. The article also notes forthcoming adapter cards for Apple's new 34mm ExpressCard slot, which replaces the PC card slot currently found on most PowerBooks: "But for those who need the faster data transfer speeds available with FireWire 800, other offerings are on the way: I saw a prototype Belkin FireWire 800 ExpressCard 34 model that should ship by the time the MacBook Pro does. I've also been in contact with the ExpressCard standards group and am waiting for a list of manufacturers that will have cards in the 34mm flavor for the MacBookPro. I've heard from sources that several manufacturers are readying GPRS/EDGE and CDMA/EVDO cards for road warriors."
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