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Avernum 2 v2.0 upgrade
Spiderweb Software, the maker of fine fantasy role-playing adventures for the Mac, today released Avernum 2 v2.0, which enables the game to run natively on Mac OS X. Avernum 2 is a classic fantasy role-playing game that features 3-D, 16-bit graphics, including drawings by well-known fantasy illustrator Phil Foglio, a massive storyline with three different game-winning quests, and "addicting" gameplay: "Avernum is a prison. It is an enormous warren of tunnels and caverns, far below the surface world. You were banished there by the cruel Empire, to spend the rest of your life in the underworld. At first, it seemed like you and your many fellow prisoners might be able to form a nation and live in peace, far from the sun." A demo is available online, while a patch for the upgrade is available via the company's website. The full version of Avernum 2 is available for $25.
20-inch iMac G5 price drop
Apple today lowered prices on its larger 20-inch iMac G5 by $200, while leaving the price on its low-end 17-inch iMac G5 untouched. The reduction comes after Apple refused to discount the older-generation G5 iMacs following the introduction of the new Intel iMac at Macworld San Francisco. As noted by AppleInsider, the company's online store now sells the 20-inch iMac G5 for $1499, a $200 discount off its $1699 retail price--the same price as the 20-inch Intel-based version. The move will help Apple sell the iMac G5 and and also avoid confusion to customers, as vendors and Apple Stores were offering both the newer Intel-based iMacs and the older PowerPC-based iMacs for the same price. The price of the 17-inch iMac G5 remains unchanged at $1,299, suggesting that the company has much less inventory of the lower-end iMac and expects to be able to move what's left of the remaining models at the current price. Apple Store customers who purchased a 20-inch iMac within 10 calendar days of shipment may request a refund from Apple Sales Support (1-800-676-2775), but must do so within 14 business days of shipment.
iShell 4.5 for Intel Macs
Tribeworks today announced that the next release of iShell--version 4.5--will run natively on Intel-based Macs. iShell 4.5 will also bring a host of new features, including the ability to create on-the-fly system gizmos, such as themed radio buttons, checkboxes, tabs, dialog buttons, drop-down menus, etc. as well as dynamic Font Loading to allow developers to include any TrueType font in a project. The appication also bundles a collection of fonts by Larabie Font and will include "Magic Commands," which will quickly write math and string equations in the iShell GUI editor. Tribeworks' iShell is a software tool for Windows and Mac OS X which allows developers to rapidly create secure, interactive, multiplatform CD and DVD-ROM's as well as other types of multimedia applications. A preview release of iShell 4.5 is due in the first week of February, while the final release expected a few weeks thereafter.
DEVONtechnologies today released the second public beta of DEVONagent 2.0, its intelligent Internet research assistant. DEVONagent 2.0 Public Beta 2 includes a new "add new tab" button and innovative in-tab information. Every tab shows the icon of the web site it represents and a progress bar while loading the page instead of a rotating tooth-wheel. New search sets can be created in DEVONagent 2.0 by "cloning" a successful search run and modifying it later. New AppleScript scripts add search results as a sheet to DEVONtechnologies' information manager DEVONthink Pro or add bookmarks to URL Manager Pro, and many of the included plug-ins and interfaces to search engines have been updated, as well as many other fixes. DEVONagent beta 2.0 requires Mac OS X 10.3.9 or higher, and costs $35. The final release will be available by the end of March.
Swift Text-To-Speech 4.0
Cepstral today released its Swift Text-To-Speech System 4.0, an update to the scalable, multilingual cross-platform voice rendering engine. Version 4.0 features a U.S. English female voice, named "Callie," as well as new novelty voices such as "Cepstral Dog" and "Whispery." The release includes more accurate pronunciations and text processing for all languages, more powerful dictionary features, more capable run-time behavior configuration, enhanced mark-up language support, and changes to the core algorithms. Additionally, pronunciations and text processing are more accurate for all languages, including U.S. and U.K. English, German, Canadian French, Americas Spanish, and Italian. Voices perform with low latency as well as minimum resource load on handhelds, desktops, and large automated telephony or VoIP installations. The new version is Intel-Mac compatible, and pricing starts at $30 (system requirements were unavailable).
\'Universal\' Missing Sync
Mark/Space has announced a Universal binary version of its Missing Sync for Palm OS. Missing Sync for Palm OS provides Mac users with a synchronization manager for Palm powered handhelds and smartphones. The Missing Sync improves syncing with Address Book and iCal in Mac OS X Tiger and adds iPhoto, iTunes and document synchronization, Wi-Fi sync, intuitive conduit management, desktop mounting of memory cards and more. The new version 5.1 will run natively on all Mac platforms. Missing Sync for Palm OS v5.1 will be available as a free upgrade for owners of version 5.0 and will be released "sometime before March." New licenses will cost between $40 and $50.
Ads on iPods
Advertisers are scurrying to find new ways to subvert the commerical-free atmosphere of video content available for the video iPod. Since the launch of the video iPod, owners have been able to download commercial-free television shows from iTunes, causing advertisers to worry that they are losing potential audiences. According to the Wall Street Journal, "some companies are attaching recycled TV spots to the beginning of video files, or podcasts, that can be downloaded from popular Web sites." [subscription required]
Curio 3.0 released
Zengobi today announced Curio 3.0, the latest version of its brainstorming and document management application. Version 3.0 features a new Project Center for one-click access to categorized projects; an advanced Search Bar for fast, easy-to-use searching on text, tags, ratings, flags, asset types, and dates; support for searching asset contents; and an interactive full-screen presentation mode. Curio 3.0 also features project properties with custom tags and timestamps, freeform shaped text figures, instant web archive creation, and support for LinkBack and iCal objects. Curio is available in several editions including Professional ($130), K-12 ($50), Home ($80), and Basic ($40) versions. It requires Mac OS X v10.3.9 or above on PowerPC Macs with Intel Mac support forthcoming.
Wicked Cool Perl, Thrupp
In brief: Verizon Wireless' new V Cast Music Service will present iTunes with a challenge. No Starch Press has released a new Wicked Cool series book, Wicked Cool Perl Scripts: Useful Perl Scripts that Solve Difficult Problems, which is geared towards the Perl programmer who doesn't need lessons, covering what "readers probably aren't aware" of... Utsire announced Thrupp 1.4, a tool for copying iTunes files into an MP3 player or phone that now features redesigned player synchronization engine... iTunes is now the number one music service in Germany, selling over 15.5 million songs in 2005.... Yet another warning over hearing damage from iPod use has been issued. US Representative Edward Mackey of Massachusetts has asked the National Insitutes of Health to decide on the health risks of listening to portable music players like the iPod.
Free iSync plugins
Nova Media today introduced its free nova media phone plug-ins software, featuring iSync support for latest mobile phones. The list of new devices features more than 25 mobile phones from Motorola, Nokia, Siemens, and Sony Ericsson, allowing smoothless synchronization of calendar and contact data with Mac OS X. Nova media phone plug-ins for iSync do not touch the iSync application itself, instead placing new mobile phone definitions in the appropriate folder on the Mac OS X system. "In some cases it was only necessary to identify phones for iSync, in other cases new field definition tables had to be created to allow iSync to communicate in the best possible way with new phones." stated Jan Fuellemann, spokesperson at nova media. iSync plug-ins require Mac OS X 10.4 or later, and are available for free.
Google, Napster deal?
Google is reportedly considering a major deal with, or possibly an outright takeover of Napster to help get its foot in the digital music door; however, the company later denied any takeover rumors. The New York Post this morning reported that Google has been pushing to align with Napster rather than build its own online music store, a sign that The Post says Google sees subscription services--rather than the individual download model on which Apple's iTunes is built--as the future of digital music. Rumors have been circulating for some time that Google is considering expanding into the digital music industry, and the company recently entered the online video market with its own video store--competing with Apple's iTunes for on-demand content. "We have nothing to announce at this time," a spokesperson for Google said yesterday. A Napster spokeswoman declined comment, citing a quiet period ahead of its earnings announcement, which will come next week, according to the report. [updated]
V Cast vs. iTunes
Verizon Wireless' new V Cast Music Service, will present a challenge to Apple's iTunes, according to industry analysts. The service, which leverages Microsoft technology, will be in direct competition with iTunes, which currently dominates the market for online music with 850 million cumulative downloads. Strategy Analytics predicts that Apple's dominance of the online music space will come under increasing pressure as competitors target the shortcomings of the iTunes Music Store. iTunes currently only allows for a pay-per-download model, which V Cast will counter by employing "a hybrid payment model allowing both subscriptions and downloads."
KeyCue goes Universal
Ergonis Software today released KeyCue 2.0 as a Universal Binary, allowing the shortcut productivity software to run natively on both PowerPC and Intel-based Macs. KeyCue is designed to increase productivity by improving the visibility and usability of shortcut keys by detecting and displaying an instant overview of the overall functionality of any application. Version 2.0 includes the ability to detect and display shortcut keys that include special keys--such as arrow keys--, detect and display shortcuts installed by MenuMaster, and swap the order of menu commands as well as their shortcuts. Version 2.0 additionally detects and displays all items in the applications services submenu. Ergonis announced that Universal Binary versions of PopCharX--software for use of special characters and fonts--and Typinator--software for automating the entry of repetitive text and graphics--are also slated for release in the coming months. KeyCue 2.0 requires Mac OS X 10.3 or later, and is available for $15.
GL Image Editor
Geeklogic.com released GL Image Browser for Mac OS X. The application features fast image browsing through thousands of pictures on the user's drive. GL Image Browser gives the user different ways to look at their pictures-- either scrolling with the mousewheel or the Scrollbar through the thumbnails, or entering the fullview mode, where the whole screen is used to display pictures. There the user can go to the next picture by using the mousewheel or the arrow keys on the keyboard. GL Image Browser requires Mac OS X Panther or Tiger and is available as a free download.
Virtual WineCellar 4.6 ($20) is a cellaring software for wine collectors. It keeps users informed about stock and history, shows the current value of the wine collection, keeps track of suppliers, and gives users the option of ordering directly from within the wine cellar. It is available for Mac OS Classic and OS X, with standalone application versions requiring FileMaker Pro 5.5 or later. [Download - [options]]
RoboNuts 2.0 ($7) is a classic Mac game in which the user is a robot designer. The robots have gone crazy and started chasing after the user, who must defeat them with a trusty zapper and personal teleporter. Version 2.0 adds new powerups, Intel Mac compatibility, new gameplay, and works on Mac OS X 10.4. [Download - 700KB]
Quick O (12€) is a "quick" tool to convert images and extract frames from movies. Quick O supports PNG, JPEG, Photoshop and Tiff export formats. Quick O requires Mac OS X 10.3 or greater with Quicktime 6.x or greater. [Download - 1.1MB]
24U SimpleSound Plug-In version 2.7.2 ($37) is a plug-in to enhance FileMaker Pro solutions by allowing the user to record and play custom sound effects, spoken instructions, background music and other audio. All QuickTime supported formats can be used. New in version 2.7.2 is improved stability when playing MP3s for a longer time, Synchronous playback can now be interrupted, and deep file paths are now handled better on Mac OS X. [Download - [options]]
PDFpen Pro 2.3.2, pagesender 3.5.4, and Browseback 1.0.2 from SmileOnMyMac are now available. All three have been updated to Universal binaries for compatibilit with Intel-Macs. PDFPen Pro is a PDF-editing and form filling utility, with full-text search and selection, highlighting markup, and more. Pagesender 3.5.4, a full-featured faz software that can fax or email anything the user prints, includes a fixed problem with email preferences. Browseback is a web history visualization and search tool which stores a PDF of every web page visited and makes the pages accessible through a unique interface that allows the user to browse thumbnails of the pages. [Download - [options]]
ProfCast 1.1.0 ($35) is an all-in-one presentation to podcast tool for the Mac. ProfCast provides tools for lecturers to create podcasts from their lectures, offering an integrated workflow for creating, recording and publishing podcasts. ProfCast v1.1.0 features Universal binary support, integrated help, new "disk to archive" and "save enhanced podcast" functions, crash recovery, and more. [Download - 2.1MB]
Utsire announced Thrupp 1.4, a tool for copying iTunes files into an MP3 player or phone. New in version 1.4 is a redesigned player synchonization engine, and bug fixes. Thrupp supports on-the-fly conversion, is fully multi-threaded and comes with presets for popular smartphone models. Thrupp shows how much space each iTunes album will take up, and how much space the user has free, converts files into MP3s, and converts songs into a bitrate more appropriate for each player, resulting in smaller files and more music. All conversions made by Thrupp do not alter the origianl iTunes Library versions. Thrupp v1.4 is a shareware ($150) requiring Mac OS X 10.3.9 or later.
Clean and Polish Kit
NewerTech has launched its Clean and Polish Kit, designed to to remove scratches, restore color, and return the original off-the-shelf shine to Apple iPods, iBooks, and other plastic computer components. Each three-component kit includes a specially formulated "Heavy Scratch Remover" solution, "Fine Scratch Remover" solution, and "Plastic Clean and Shine protection" polish. The kit ships with a free polishing cloth, as well as step-by-step instructions. The polish components are packaged in three one-ounce application bottles, are non-toxic, and are non-flammable. NewerTech says the Clean and Polish Kit utilizes advanced chemistry bonds to remove heavy scratches, abrasions, fine marks and delicate cuts from virtually all plastics and acrylic surfaces without unsightly filling. The scratch remover elements also restore faded and discolored plastic, according to the company. "A state-of-the-art, Level 3 plastic polish leaves a lustrous shine that resists fogging, repels dust, resists fingerprint marks, and eliminates static." The Clean and Polish Kit is available for $18.
MacNN reviews; RapidWeaver
In brief: MacNN has reviewed the iPod FlipStand ($30) from Speck Products, as well as Iconz for iPods ($25) from XtremeMac.... Realmac Software is set to demo its RapidWeaver software at the Apple Store in Regent Street, London on February 8th.... One Mac enthusiast who teaches guitar lessons in Lanham, Maryland has written a plea to Apple in an effort to spread the word about the company's Garageband software.... Jumsoft today announced that Keynote Quartet '05--an accompaniment to Apple's Keynote and Pages applications--is compatible with iWork '06.... A recent blog entry offers some untested thoughts about installing Windows XP on a MacBook Pro, specifically touching on the EFI vs BIOS incompatibility issue.
iTunes No. 1 in Germany
Apple's iTunes is the No. 1 music service in Germany, according to the Financial Times. Departing from its usual reveal its German sales figures, Macworld reports that Apple sold over 15.5 million songs in 2005: "The sales put it narrowly ahead of closest competitor, Musicload (operated by T-Online, a subsidiary of Deutsche Telekom). T-Online rejected Apple's claims, citing 15 million song sales of its own. However, 1.5 per cent of those sales were given away free of charge, while Apple says free song downloads don't count toward its figures."
G5Jam Express for G5 ships
WiebeTech today began shipping the G5Jam Express, which adds space for two more hard drives inside the dual-core G5 Power Mac--for a total of four internal drives and up to 2TB of storage capacity. The G5Jam Express fits into the front of the system, and is designed to take advantage of system airflow for cooling purposes while heat dissipates through the mounting plate. The device supports read/write speeds of over 220MB per-second when utilizing software RAID. The unit consists of a solid mounting base plate and bracket for drives, as well as special internal power and SATA cabling for routing to any SATA PCI-E host card. The G5Jam Express ($70) includes the G5Jam Express base plate, side panels, mounting screws, power cables, and two SATA cables.
Apple Store Garden State
Apple is set to open its newest retail store in the US this Saturday and is planning new stores in Virginia and Connecticut, according to a new report. The Apple Store Garden State Plaza, the seventh retail outlet for Apple in New Jersey, will hold its grand opening on February 4 at 10 a.m. It is located at Garden State Plaza, I1A in Paramus, New Jersey. Meanwhile, ifoAppleStore reports that Apple has broken its streak of opening new stores "only in existing store regions" with plans to launch a store at the MacArthur Center in downtown Norfolk, Virginia, the sixth in the state of Virgina and the largest metro region without an Apple store. The report also says that Apple will also open a new store in the Stamford Town Center located in Stamford, Connecticut, just across the New York state line.
Creative Manager Pro 8.15
Creative Manager Pro announced the immediate availability of version 8.15 of its ad agency and project management software. The web-based integrated project management software and job tracking solution offers functions for developing new business, staffing, managing, executing projects, accounting, and financial reporting. The new version has over twnety improvements based on user input-- many of which are preparations for the changes to the electronic billing worksheet which will be released next month, when an overhaul to the agency-centric billing worksheet makes its debut. Version 8.15 has been reworked to be compatible with Mac OS X Tiger, and pricing starts at $370 per month for ten users (all upgrades are free).
New Mot SLVR iTunes phone
Motorola today announced its second-generation iTunes phone: the Motorola SLVR L7 is a quad band (GSM 850/900/1800/1900 MHz) phone that is offered for Cingular mobile network users in the US (and international GSM-network roaming). The phone features iTunes software, a 262.000 color TFT display, built-in stereo speakers, mobile email/browser, a VGA camera with 4x digital zoom, video capture and playback, AOL/Yahoo!/ICQ Instant Messaging, and Bluetooth connectivity. The included iTunes Digital Jukebox software allows users to play, sort, store and manage music as well as sync with a PC/Mac. The phone also features a 512MB Micro SD card slot, which is limited to 100-song storage. The Motorola SLVR L7 is available for $200 with a 2-year contract from Cingular.
Extra G5 desktop storage
MaxUpgrades has announced its MaxConnect, a new ATA/IDE hard disk drive mounting kit that enables a third hard disk drive to be installed without a PCI host Controller. The ATA/IDE hard disk drive is housed in the PCI Bay of the Power Mac G5. The MaxConnect ATA/IDE assembly is made of aluminum and ships with both power and ATA cables. The assembly allows ATA hard disk drives up to 500GB capacity to be installed in the G5 Power Macs, expanding internal storage capacity of the G5 Power Macs up to 1.5TB without a PCI Host controller. "MaxConnect ATA/IDE assembly offer industrial strength design with two bolt hard disk drive attachments, its unique design exposes maximum area for the heat dissipation for attached hard disk drive." It is available for $80.
Encore/ST G4 Duet 1.8GHz
Sonnet Technologies today began shipping its new top-of-the-line dual processor upgrade: the Encore/ST G4 Duet 1.8GHz (Part No. SG4D-1800) is now available for most "Sawtooth" Power Mac G4 systems, including AGP Graphics, Gigabit Ethernet, Digital Audio and QuickSilver models. Priced the same as the 1.7GHz dual processor upgrade it replaces, the upgrade uses the latest and fastest PowerPC G4 7447A processors from Freescale Semiconductor, features 512K of SRAM on-chip L2 cache and is compatible with Mac OS 9.2/X 10.3.5. The Encore/ST G4 Duet 1.8GHz auto-configures to its host Mac without the need for switches or jumpers. It carries a three-year warranty, includes free technical support, and is available for $600. The company is also offering its single-CPU upgrades for $400 (1.8GHz), $300 (1.4GHz, $50 drop), $260 (1.33GHz, $40 drop), $240 (1.2GHz), and $200 (1.0GHz).
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