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Apple charges premium
Apple's MacBook Pro is nearly $1000 more than a similar Dell notebook (after using a coupon) or just over $400 without coupons, according to a blog entry at ZDNet. While the debate rages, the Dell Core Duo notebook offers a larger 17-inch screen, faster graphics, and a faster optical drive. "pple lovers will always feel that the extra money is well spent and they will always believe they have the superior product. PC shoppers with more realistic budgets will always prefer the cheaper product (with mostly superior specifications) that can run all of their existing software. The difference is that the latter will always outnumber the former by more than 10 to 1. Apple has always managed to charge a premium for their hardware because of superior branding and a diehard fan base, but they will always be priced out of the main stream. A lot has changed in the last year with Apple Macintoshes running on an Intel Pentium M platform (which I predicted), but the more things change the more they stay the same."
Runtime Revolution 2.7
Runtime Revolution has released Revolution 2.7, an update to its entire product line for developers and a new product, Revolution Media. The Revolution 2.7 update is available for the entire product line, including Revolution Dreamcard, Revolution Studio ($300) and Revolution Enterprise ($900). Revolution Studio and higher can compile applications for the following platforms: Windows, MacOS X, MacOS 9, Linux, Solaris and other Unix platforms. Version 2.7 brings features for object blending, twenty new new blend modes, window-level transitions, new rendering options, a new anti-aliasing graphics engine, multi-monitor support, enhanced dynamic scripting, improved printing, all-new documentation, and more.
Zoo Tycoo 2 for Mactels
Destineer Publishing's MacSoft unit today announced that a Universal Binary version of Zoo Tycoon 2 is now available. The update brings native Mac support for the popular game title and requires the latest v1.01 updater. "Zoo Tycoon 2, the sequel to the award-winning Zoo Tycoon, let's you build exciting zoos, adopt amazing animals, and experience it all with new, immersive first person views. Dig right in and get your hands dirty caring for your animals in Zookeeper Mode. Walk through your zoo and see what your guests see in Guest Mode." The PowerPC version requires Mac OS X 10.2.8 or later, while the native Intel Mac version requires an Intel-based Mac running the latest version of Mac OS X. A new license is $40.
Free weather; Palm split
In brief: Midnight Mage Software today released a free "Weather Go" Address Book action plug-in that works with Weather.com.... A columnist today offered thoughts about Microsoft's latest promise to dethrone Apple's iPod, as well as a short reminder that more advanced, feature-filled devices have so far failed to dethrone Apple's player.... Palm today announced that its board of directors has approved a 2-for-1 split of its common stock, which will be effected in the form of a stock dividend.... MacSongTools today released Indie Drum Sessions, a collection of 40 Midi drum song templates in GaragBand format.... Custom Solutions has released Version 4 of Color Schemes, a free application developed to assist in selection of color schemes.... WatcheyePod has launched its website offering free short films ready to download and watch on video-capable iPods.... Google and Amazon are both looking to take down Apple's share of the legal download market with their own branded music services.
Podcasting may be easy, but users will spend a lot to create them. A new column describes how to create a podcast, but concludes that if it is to be a relatively "easy" task, it will also be an expensive one. Using a 20-inch iMac, GarageBand, a Snowball microphone, and a .Mac account, Eric Convey of the Boston Herald created an audio podcast in orer to determine the feasibility of the process for the average computer user. Convey noted that while the process is relatively simple, the cost is not small: the iMac costs $1,300-1,700, the microphone $150, and a .Mac account is $100 per year. iTunes was also noted as an alternative to a .Mac account, which would provide a simpler method for users to download the podcasts, and would be free to the podcaster.
Amazon, Google, iTunes
Google and Amazon are both looking to take down Apple's share of the legal download market, according to a report. The Financial Times says that while Amazon is further along in its plans than Google is--Amazon may launch its download service sometime in the second quarter of the year-both are ripe for competition with Apple, which currently holds 70-80 percent of the legal download market. Google continues to deny any plans for a music store in addition to its video store, and denies rumours of a merge with or takeover of Napster, but had "very serious discussions with the music industry later last year" according to the report.
TaskTime4 v4.1.1 released
ToThePoint Software today released TaskTime4 4.1.1, an application designed as a straightforward method of tracking time spent on jobs for clients. TaskTime4 offers project status tracking, Address Book integration for adding clients, linking of related resources to projects for easy reference, project expenses tracking, billing for flat rate items, scheduled or manual data backup, minimizing of project windows to small floating time controllers, and generation of personalized invoices. Version 4.1.1 fixes a CPU usage problem as well as a data export bug, correctly updates editing of pause time, fixes the elapsed time editing problem, and adds a report option when listing projects by status. TaskTime4 4.1.1 is available for $20, or $5 for upgrading users of versions prior to 4.0 (system requirements were unavailable).
\'grants.gov\' on Macs
Following reports of the new Mac-incompatible grants.gov electronic service, the University of Wisconsin has released a standalone package for using Grants.gov on Mac OS X as a service to the community. The package uses Citrix client software and a special settings file to access the central Citrix server provided by Grants.gov, allowing users to access and use the PureEdge software via a remote Windows machine running Citrix server software. The Grants.gov system is designed to replace paper applications with electronic forms and is being phased in at the National Institutes of Health, Department of Housing and Urban Development and other federal agencies--with all 26 grant-giving agencies expected to implement the new system by 2007. The report cited many problems that Mac users were having trying either Virtual PC or other workarounds.
O\'Reilly, Black Solio
In brief: O'Reilly's latest title, "Photoshop Fine Art Effects Cookbook" ($30), explains how to use Photoshop CS2 to transform everyday images into "masterpieces".... SellyourCell.com--a wireless recycler--today announced that it will purchase used iPods from consumers for between $19 and $149.00.... Better Energy Systems has released a black version of its Solio charger ($100, shown at right), a portable renewable power source that draws energy from sunlight.... Widget UK today announced the UK availability of the Think Outside Boomtube H2O1 (£170), a stylish, lightweight portable speaker system with an integrated sub-woofer and detachable speakers that run on battery power.... Cyclists in the UK have been urged not to listen to iPods while riding on the roads after a 32-year-old law student was killed by a large truck.... The Recording Industry Assocation of America (RIAA) has said it is illegal to sell an iPod that is pre-loaded with digital media content.
Seagate 12GB 1-inch drive
Seagate has announced that it will begin shipping a 12GB one-inch drive later this year, which the company hopes will increase the gap between flash memory and its higher-capacity hard disks that can fit into similar small spaces. Rob Pait, Seagate's director for global consumer electronics marketing said that the 12GB drive indicates what perpendicular recording may be able to do for the industry. "It's just a start where we see the technology going. Storage capacity will be growing quickly, which will be a key differentiator to flash," Pait said. The executive was not able to talk about Seagate's business relationship with Apple, but mentioned that Seagate "certainly would love to have Apple back as a customer," according to TG Daily. Apple discontinued its iPod mini in 2005, which contained a Seagate 1.8-inch hard drive, and replaced it with the flash-based iPod nano.
Brother International today announced its soon-to-be-launched line of flatbed laser Multi-Function Center products, which includes the MFC-8460N ($400), MFC-8860DN ($500), and the MFC-8870DW ($600). Each new model in the line-up touts up to 30ppm print speeds, 1200 x 1200 dpi resolution, an up to 50-sheet multipurpose tray, and a built-in Ethernet network interface. Two of the models also add duplex capability for 2-sided printing, copying, faxing and scanning, placing them well-above similar all-in-one devices in their class, according to the company. The MFC-8870DW includes standard 802.11b/g wireless networking.
MacPractice v2.0 due Mar 1
MacPractice today announced that version 2.0 of its full-fledged healthcare practice management software applications are expected to ship on March 1. MacPractice MD for physicians, MacPractice DC for chiropractors, and MacPractice DDS for dentists, are full-fledged healthcare practice management software applications designed especially for Mac OS X for PowerPC and Intel. The software update will offer 20 completely new and enhanced abilities, including support for file attachments, scheduling, creation of multiple appointments, integration with third-party business applications, built-in reminders, improved help and tutorials, and better integration with Parliant's PhoneHerald phone software.
Cyclist death iPod related
Cyclists in the UK have been urged not to listen to iPods while riding on the roads after a 32-year-old law student was killed by a large truck. Patricia McMillan was knocked from her bike and thrown under the truck's wheels near her home in Acton, west London, according to virgin.net. The woman was on her way to a part-time job as a waitress in Kensington on February 2nd, according to the report. The victim's best friend, Jacques Poullard, told the Evening Standard that Ms. McMillan might still be alive had she not been listening to the iPod.
RIAA warns users
Selling an old iPod model may not be as easy, or as legal, as one might think. According to MTVNews.com, the Recording Industry Assocation of America (RIAA) says it is illegal to sell an iPod that is pre-loaded with digital media content. "Selling an iPod preloaded with music is no different than selling a DVD onto which you have burned your entire music collection," the RIAA said in a statement. "Either act is a clear violation of U.S. copyright law. The RIAA is monitoring this means of infringement. In short: seller beware." MTVNews.com says the legality is a rather fuzzy issue, citing copyright and trademark lawyer Andrew Bridges, who works with eBay.
Hacking an iPod is easier than ever, according to a recent report. The Boston Globe writer Hiawatha Bray reports that the "Hacks" series of books now make it much easier for almost anyone to get more out of their software and hardware. Bray says that to get a new graphic background on the iPod, a free, Windows-only program called iPodWizard will work. PodMail for Macs allows iPodders to download email onto the iPod for viewing. Radio Recorder for Macs or Streamripper for Windows and Mac will allow users to capture Internet radio streams and record them as MP3 files, which can then be downloaded onto the iPod.
iLife \'06 not a bargain
Apple's newly introduced suite of digital lifestyle applications--iLife '06--has many improvements, but may not be worth the (upgrade) price. A new column in The Washington Post notes the differences between iLife '06 and its predecessor, iLife '05. Both versions offer major upgrades to iPhoto, while making relatively few changes to iDVD, iMovie, and GarageBand. While iLife '06 features a new addition--iWeb--to the suite of applications, the upgrade only makes sense in a handful of circumstances, according to the columnist. "The most likely reason to upgrade would be if your old copy of iPhoto has begun sinking under the weight of your accumulated pictures." Apple claims iPhoto 6 can store 10 times the number of photos as the previous version, or up to 250,000. The colmnist says that Apple's "bonehead" implementation of RSS (Really Simple Syndication), GarageBand's new podcast studio, iMovie HD stability issues, and iDVD's enhanced support suggest that most users can supplement iLife '05 with shareware programs, or wait for the release of iLife '07. The software is free with new Macs and is $80 for a single-user license. Apple, however, does not offer any upgrade path for users of previous versions.
iChat add-ons updated
Ecamm Network announced new versions of its iChat add-ons: iGlasses and Conference Recorder. Both programs are now Universal Binaries, qualified for both PowerPC and Intel-based Macs. Conference Recorder v2.0 brings a new user interface and makes it easier to record iChat audio/video conferences and save them as QuickTime movies. New features include the option to automatically record conferences with selected buddies. iGlasses lets users adjust and manipulate iSight video settings from within iChat and many other supported programs. New in v1.3 is support for the MSN clients aMSN and Mercury Messenger. Also new is the ability to rotate the iSight's image 90 degrees, allowing for mounting of the iSight on the side of a display. iGlasses costs $8 and Conference Recorder costs $15.
SiteTagger, Font Pilot
SiteTagger 2.9 ($10) is a browser bookmarking program featuring tag-based bookmark management, importing from most browsers, and integration with several online bookmarking services. New features include improved HTML exporting, an Applescript-based plug-in interface, enhanced preferences and in-app updating, bug fixes, and more. [Download - 792KB]
Font Pilot 2.1 ($16) is a replacement for Apple's Font Book, allowing users to activate, install, or deactivate fonts, folders of fonts, or unistalled font files. Users can view font metrics, copyright information, author notes, character maps, key combinations, and more from the font library. New features include universal font compatibility, Rosetta compatibility, and more. [Download - 2.49MB]
Xupport 3.1.9 ($20) is a multipurpose system utility for Mac OS X, providing features to configure Mac OS X and Unix options, incresase system security and performance, maintain and backup Mac OS X, and delve further into Unix. New to Xupport is Tiger and Panther compatibility, the Unix Manual viewer now supports "Find" shortcuts, a fixed displaying of non-latin characters in the log windows, a fixed "Show Xupport in menu bar, Universal binary, and more. [Download - [options]]
Disk Order 2.0 ($23) is an advanced Finder replacement with a built-in FTP client and the ability to handle archives like plain folders. It features a tabbed interface, built-in viewer and editor, sophisticated drag-n-drop, color marking support, System Index Utilizing search, plug-in architecture, customizable main menus, and more. New to version 2.0 is Universal binary, a completely changed appearance of the main window, new gradient color marking for files, FTP controls right on panels added, some fixed FTP bugs, and more. [Download - 1.8MB]
sunSheild 2.0 (free) is a public preview of the preference pane that manages the built-in firewall in Mac OS X. Features include many templates, the ability o dynamically enable or disable the logging on a rule, view live logging for debugging, sniffing, and testing purposes, editing rules with a double click, and Enlgish, Japanese, French, and Italian versions. The preview version of sunSheild is for use it Mac OS X Tiger only, and is now a Universal binary. [Download - [login]]
Boom Recorder 5.0 (€115) is a field audio-recorder. It can be used in combination with high resolution audio hardware, to be used on-stage or film-set. The sound from multiple microphones from different actors and boom operator is recorded into an audio file that is ready to be used by an edit application. The files are saved as BWF (Broadcast Wave Format), with meta information like film speed, slate numbers and channel assignments stored in iXML. [Download - 2.56MB]
Radical Breeze today released Footlights 2.0, a major upgrade to its video playback and conversion application for Mac OS X. Version 2.0 brings a new thumbnail movie view and realtime video playback effects (such as gamma, brightness and video rotation). Footlights is a video player, organizer and converter with a host of advanced features, including: full screen playback, adjustable playback speed, transparent movie windows, a searchable thumbnail movie list and the ability to adjust gamma, brightness, contrast and rotation in playing videos. In addition, all features of Footlights 2.0 are now completely free--except for video export, which can be obtained by upgrading to Footlights Pro for $15. The upgrade to Footlights Pro is free for existing Footlights users.
Motorola has announced a deal with Microsoft to use the Windows Media technology in a new line of music cell phones, to be sold alongside the iTunes phones. According to Reuters, Motorola plans to launch between one and three phone models equipped with Windows Media in 2006, while retaining its iTunes phones as a separate product line. The company already has two iTunes phones, including newly introduced ultra-thin Motorola SLVR. The Windows Media phones will allow consumers to buy songs online either from a PC or from the phones, and transfer content between the devices, according to Reuters, which also says that Nokia announced a deal to include Windows Media last year, giving Microsoft a foot in the market of the world's two largest handest makers, and placing it in direct competition with the iTunes phones.
MacGPS Pro 6.2 released
James Associates has released MacGPS Pro 6.2, its software designed to link a GPS Receiver to a Macintosh system. MacGPS Pro works with Garmin and Magellan GPS receivers for transferring waypoints, routes, tracklogs, and GPS satellite almanacs. The update adds support for the Garmin eTrex Vista Cx Receiver, as well as Garmin GPSMap 60CSx and GPSMap 76CSx Receivers. Topo maps can be shown trimmed to exclude map margins, and the application can stitch together adjoining maps in the same window. Version 6.2 allows users to locate USGS DRG maps by Quad Name, and delete errant individual track log points. The auto-open map function is extended to work with the USGS Alaska 1:63360 and 1:25,000 topo maps, and the update allows users to view their current position on Google Maps. MacGPS Pro 6.2 requires Mac OS X 10.2 or later, and is priced at $50.
Solio iPod charger
Better Energy Systems has released a black version of its Solio" charger. The device is compatible with iPods, cell phones, PDAs and more. Solio is a portable renewable power source that draws energy from sunlight, storing it in an internal battery and using it to charge the devices. Solio features a fan-blade design that allows it to achieve maximum solar area when in use. Solio can store energy for more than one year, providing an hour of iPod playtime per hour of charging, with Solio taking 8-10 hours of direct sunlight to fully recharge the internal battery. Solio costs $100 and is available in black, silver, or white.
Apple in New York, Boston
Apple is expected to open a 25,000 square-foot store in New York this spring, which will be housed in the underground retail plaza of the General Motors Building on Fifth Avenue at the edge of Central Park. The company is also planning to erect a four-story futuristic building across from the Prudential Center within two-years time, according to InformationWeek. Rumors suggest the New York location will be the home of a 32-foot glass cube in front of the facility that will be open 24 hours, and that Apple has been working to release its own brand of mobile phone. The iPod-maker recently announced plans to open a fourth retail store in Colorado, and proceeded to open the thirty-second Apple store in California over the weekend.
Mac users locked out
The US government is moving to an electronic system for processing grant applications that would lock out Mac users for at least one year. The Washington Post reports that the new Mac-incompatible "Grants.gov" system is under development and deployment at a cost of tens of billions of dollars to tax payers. The system is designed to replace paper applications with electronic forms and is being phased in at the National Institutes of Health, Department of Housing and Urban Development and other federal agencies--with all 26 grant-giving agencies expected to implement the new system by 2007. While some have had luck with workarounds, Mac users are being left out: "What if the federal government were about to give away more than $400 billion in grants, but only people whose computers ran on Microsoft software could apply? That is the predicament that many scientists, scholars and others say they are in as the government enters the final phase of its five-year effort to streamline its grant-application process."
iPod competitors coming
Microsoft and its hardware partners will continue to challenge the dominance of the iPod by bringing new digital media devices the consumer market. Reuters reports that Chairman Bill Gates pledged to work with its hardware partners to develop new digital media products. "I don't think what's out on the market today is the final answer," Gates told a group of minority students. "Between us and our partners, you can expect some pretty hot products coming out over the next few years." Reuters reports that Gates "praised Apple's iTunes music store and said the software giant was talking with hardware partners to create media devices that can be less expensive and easier to connect and can handle pictures and video better." Gates also noted that the market share for Microsoft-comaptible digital music players is around 20 percent, a figure lower than he would like. The comments appear to discount rumors that Microsoft is considering releasing its own branded player.
Boomtube H2O1 for iPod
Widget UK today announced the UK availability of the Think Outside Boomtube H2O1, a stylish, lightweight portable speaker system that delivers an integrated sub-woofer, detachable speakers, and an internal rechargeable lithium battery that lasts five hours. "The Boomtube H2O1 is the perfect accessory for iPod and music phone users who are looking for a portable speaker with really great sound. Until now, people had to choose between great sound and portability, because there just wasn't a product that successfully combined the two," said Greg van den Dries CEO and president of Think Outside. The Boomtube H2O1 is based on a stylish, aluminum, tubular design and is the first portable speaker system to incorporate both a bass tube and twist-off speakers for true stereo separation. It features 2-inch aluminum speakers that reproduce sound at the mid- and high-ranges. In addition, Boomtube H2O1 combines two bass drivers with MaxBass technology for lower frequency bass reproduction. It is available for £170.
In Brief: Apple has rewarded the top 12 contributors to its WebKit open-source project a new MacBook Pro and offered WWDC inivitations to five of them.... The FastIcon has released iFunny Vol.2, a collection of 10 freeware icons that are designed with strokless drawings and simple shapes to "give to the desktop a fun and dynamic feeling."... ProjectWizards has released a new Universal version of Merlin, its project management application for Mac OS X.... A MacNN reader has posted photos of the grand opening of the new Apple Store in Irvine, CA.... SanDisk--one of Apple's competitors in the digital music industry--has quietly slipped into second place in digital music player sales.... IPodNN that a flurry applications are surfacing designed to convert video into a format compatible with the fifth-generation iPod... The true challenger to Apple's iPod may come from the open-source community, not from a corporation with its new Songbird jukebox software.
Apple sued over Nano
Apple is being sued for the replacement fees it is charging customers for replacing broken iPod nano screens. The Mercury News reports that a consumer group has filed a lawsuit, alleging the "iPod nano player is defective because its screen is easily scratched and that the company is breaking its product warranty by charging $25 for replacements. The lawsuit, which is seeking class-action status, was filed b the Los Angeles-based Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights; it claims that the Nano can not endure normal use without getting scratched to the point where it becomes unusable. The suit contends the Cupertino-based iPod maker should warn users accordingly." The group is asking that is also demanding that Apple recall or repair the defective products for free, or refund the purchase price to dissatisfied customers as well as asks that the Apple add scratching or cracking to its warranty coverage, according to the report.
Red Giant Film Fix
Red Giant Software today announced the availability of the Macintosh version of Film Fix, a suite of plug-ins designed for documentary filmmakers and post production studios that need film and video restoration tools on the desktop. In addition, the plug-in now supports Adobe After Effects 7. Using Film Fix, After Effects users can restore tears, remove dust and dirt particles, and stabilize footage originated on film and video resolution material transferred from film. The processing is nearly automatic, provides high-quality output and "rivals dedicated high-end systems," according to the company. Film Fix for After Effects 6.0 or later is $2,000 before a special $500 discount; it includes full support for unlimited multi-client rendering through an After Effects render farm. Current Windows customers can get a free cross-grade to the Mac OS X version.
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