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Pangea ships Enigmo 2
Pangea Software has released their latest game, Enigmo 2, a 3D puzzle game where "players construct mechanisms to direct flowing water, plasma and laser beams so that they can reach their final destination. Along the way, the player must toggle switches, deactivate force-fields, use magneto-spheres to attract charged particles, and perform many other feats of Newtonian physics." Enigmo 2 is now available for download for Mac OS 10.3.9 or later and will run in a limited demo mode (registration is $30). The Enigmo 2 application is a Universal Binary, allow it to run on either PowerPC or Intel-based Macs. Pangea Software has also announced the Enigmo 2 Game Design Contest which runs from now until April 30th. The winner will receive a new Apple video iPod. "To enter the contest, participants must create and submit their own custom Enigmo 2 levels that are created with the game's built-in level editor."
Apple downplays new worm
Apple today played down the threat posed by the first Mac OS X-based worm that surfaced earlier today. Although many of the major security vendors have labeled the threat as "low-risk"--most have already offered patches and protection from the malware--the fact remains that Mac users have been relatively isolated from the world of viruses, trojan, and malware, despite warnings by prominent security experts. Apple has played down the threat, saying that "Leap-A is not a virus, it is malicious software that requires a user to download the application and execute the resulting file. Apple always advises Macintosh users to only accept files from vendors and Web sites that they know and trust," an Apple spokesperson told The Wall Street Journal. "We have a guide to safely handling files received from the Internet." Earlier this year, security vendor Symantec reported a major flaw in all versions of its security and antivirus software, which affected Mac OS X users as well as others.
Apple to help Blockbuster?
Apple should be looking to Blockbuster to enter the world of digital video distribution and gain a stronger retail presence, according to tech pundit Robert Cringely. Blockbuster, which has been failing to meet investor expectations, needs a better avenue for distribution and its stores would be perfect for Apple to set up an iPod-based video food chain to reach an entirely new base of customers: "Apple's Blockbuster product strategy is simple. Start with a new iPod that has video- and audio-out capability. This iPod -- which will be just as good at playing songs as any iPod that preceded it - will be more than just a video storage device. It will be a video player. No make that plural - players - a whole family of video-out iPods, some with flash storage and others with little disk drives. Take your Video-out iPod to Blockbuster, drop it in a kiosk dock then download from the local xServe your choice of 50,000 movies. You can rent the movie or buy it and you can even choose the resolution, which may or may not affect the final price. Take the iPod home, drop it in the dock attached to your TV and watch the movie. H.264 decoding takes place in the iPod in hardware."
Free NASCAR preview
Apple has posted a free, 20-minute preview of this year's Daytona 500 on iTunes, following weeks of speculation that Apple would land a deal with NASCAR to sell content via iTunes. The single episode, which previews this Sunday's race, contains exclusive interviews with veterans and rookies as well as "never-before-seen" footage from fully-restored historical film and a first-hand look at the 2006 Daytona test cards. "Fans experience the many ways in which the sport of NASCAR has changed. Go on the track and inside the garage, where you'll see and hear behind the scenes sounds from drivers and crew chiefs." Earlier this year, we noted that both NHL and NASCAR were close to signing a deal with Apple that would offer videos from both sources via the iTunes Music Store.
Apple Xcode 2 training
In Brief: Apple has posted a free, 20-minute preview of this year's Daytona 500 on iTunes.... Intel and the GSM Association signed an agreement on Tuesday to facilitate the addition of 3G technology into notebook computers.... Apple has launched a series of developer classes in late February and March called Transitioning to Xcode 2, which is designed to give Carbon developers the skills and insight needed to port their application from CodeWarrior to Xcode quickly and easily.... IconKits.com has released its latest stock icons set: Office Add On 2 Kit ($70) includes 40 new stock icons rendered in the popular Office style.... The Iconfactory has released its Aquatica Database Stock Icon Collection ($180), an extension of the Aquatica stock icon set that includes databases icons covering such specialized concepts as tables, scripts, records, and more.... The BBC is set to offer many more programs as podcasts, according to a report.
Tenon\'s iTools 8.2 beta
Tenon today announced a public beta of iTools 8.2 that includes the new Apache 2.2.0. iTools 8.2 has numerous enhancements & improvements and, the combination of Apache 2.2, along with other Mac OS X specific configuration optimizations, yields a performance boost in excess of 50 percent over previous versions of iTools, according to the company. "Apache 2.2.0 is the start of a new stable Apache development branch, with new features and architectural changes: memory and disk caching have been significantly improved and are now considered production quality; files greater than 2GB are now supported; and a new database API and new database modules enable database applications to work more efficiently."
Mathematica for Mactels
Wolfram Research today announced that its Mathematica software is now optimized for Intel-based Macs. According to the company, this makes Mathematica the "first professional application to run natively on Intel Mac beyond Apple's own Universal product line. The Mathematica Universal release capitalizes on the increased speed of the Intel Core Duo processor chip and is able to run on both Intel and PowerPC Macs." The company also noted that it has led the way in producing applications for the Mac community: "We have always supported the Macintosh platform, even when others haven't. Last year, we were the first-and only-technical software company to offer a 64-bit Mac platform with our initial release of 5.2, and this update is in keeping with our continued efforts to anticipate our users' needs." Mathematica 5.2 for the Intel Mac can be immediately downloaded from the Wolfram Research web store for $1880 (includes one year of support). Existing Premier Service customers are eligible for a complimentary update or system transfer.
Apple.com ranks 10th
Apple.com is the tenth most popular site on the internet for the month of January, receiving over 34 million unique visitors--each of whom spent an average of nearly 46 minutes each browsing Apple's content. Yahoo and Microsoft led all sites, topping 105 million and more than 97 million unique visits each, respectively, according to Nielsen NetRatings. In November of last year Apple led internet retailers in unique visitors, and in December the company was discovered to be the fastest growing site on the internet among the top brands. Last month iTunes reached 14 percent of the active internet, and use of Apple's iTunes service rocketed 241 percent over the past year from 6.1 million unique visitors in December of 2004 to 20.7 million in December of 2005. The top 10 brands on the internet in January were Yahoo!, Microsoft, MSN, Google, AOL, eBay, Amazon, Mapquest, Real, and Apple, respectively.
Vendors respond to threat
Three major anti-virus vendors today responded to the newly circulating Mac OS X worm. Symantec today said that it has provided users of its security/virus products with protection (new definitions) against the new worm, which targets Mac OS X 10.4. The company currently categorizes the OSX.Leap.A virus as a Level 1 threat (on a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being most severe). Many Mac users have been somewhat smug about the existence of virii for the Mac, but French anti-virus vendor Sophos says it is very real. "Some owners of Mac computers have held the belief that Mac OS X is incapable of harboring computer viruses, but Leap-A will leave them shellshocked, as it shows that the malware threat on Mac OS X is real," said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant for Sophos. "Mac users shouldn't think it's okay to lie back and not worry about viruses."
BBC on iTunes
The BBC is set to offer many more programs as podcasts, according to a report. "Broadcasting House," "Front Row," and "Start the week" will all have content available weekly, says MacWorld UK. Twenty-six other programs are set to join the BBC's current offerings on iTunes later this month, according to the report. BBC Radio 1, 3, and 5 Live, as well as BBC Nations and Regions, BBC Radio Wales and BBC Radio Cymru will be added to the lineup. All of the progams will reportedly also be available as podcasts at the BBC's website from February to June. Listeners can expect sports, Welsh language podcasting, news entertainment, gossip, interviews, unsigned music, political highlights, and more from the BBC podcasts.
Process 2.0b3 ($40) allows users to brainstorm, organize, schedule, plan, coordinate, collaborate, and perform work in one window. Version 2.0 features an intuitive user interface, "Smart Projects," collaboration via Bonjour, styles, multiple sources, iCal synchronization, Spotlight support, and CoreData. The Beta 3 release fixes a critical iCal sync bug, as well as other major bugs related to undo/redo, sorting, document scrolling, unusual text styles, locked projects, software update, pop-up columns, and file saving.
[Download - 3MB]
Podcast Monkey B1.0 (unknown) creates and publishes podcasts. The application ensures users do not need to deal with tedious XML RSS feeds. Podcast Monkey B1.0 includes drag-and-drop support for adding episodes, the ability to publish directly to an FTP server, publishing to a local folder on a Mac, pull-down category selection, pull-down language selection, and compatibility with Apple's Intel-based Macs. [Download - 1.2MB]
Shoebox 3.0 for FileMaker and Lasso 8 (€150) is a CMS system that allows users to maintain the content of their web site(s). The program is a FileMaker-based client application where users can manage the content of their web site using an intuitive interface, and predefined web site templates which can be modified by a web developer. The application contains a synchronization mechanism that makes updating the content of a web site and uploading images and documents via FTP a one-button process. [Download - [login]]
iPod.iTunes 3.1.2 (€30) evaluates the source for songs, videos and/or playlists that are not in the target and only adds these, avoiding duplicates. Unlike iTunes' "auto update" function iPod.iTunes generally does not delete content in the target, according to the company. iPod.iTunes can also transfer song dependent data like "My Rating", "Last Played", "Play Count", album artwork, etc. iPod.iTunes is now a Universal binary with compatibility for Mac OS X 10.4.5, and the new version has fixed bugs. [Download - 376KB]
FretPet X 1.0.2 ($30) FretPet is a unique guitar-oriented music sequencer, an educational tool for learning music theory, a controller for software and external synthesizers, a reference for all things relating to notes, chords, keys, and scales. New features include a fixed crash, a fixed improper undo-redo of deleted chords, added new Tones, recomplilation with the 10.4u SDK targeting 10.3, updated Kagi registration module, updated manual and web site, and fixed menu item marks in the French intrumental popup. [Download - 2.6MB]
Burst vs. Apple lawsuit
Burst.com announced today that it had reached a mutual agreement with Apple to postpone the original February 17 deadline for a response to Apple's complaint until March 20. Burst, a provider of media delivery technology, was sued in U.S. District Court in San Francisco on January 4 by Apple for declaratory relief, alleging patent invalidity or non-infringement. The suit followed a break-down in protracted negotiations for issuance of a license of Burst's patents to cover Apple's iPod and iTunes products. Since a $60 million Microsoft settlement, the company has been in patent licensing discussions with several companies engaged in the distribution of audio and video content on computer networks.
Label denies iTunes
In brief: At least one indie label is refusing to allow iTunes to license any of the indie label's music, because the service "makes it a faceless impulse item. It steals its soul".... Zicplay has announced that it will launch Tuneview from Keyspan, the first remote control to display the iPod's digital menu on an LCD screen.... GEAR4 has announced the IceBox X-Clip Series ($22) of iPod nano cases, made from a hard, clear plastic with options for clip-on features.... The Apple Store in the UK lists both of the newly updated 1.83GHz and 2GHz Intel Core Duo machines have a shipping backlog of 3-4 weeks.... INM has published a white paper discussing the opportunities and threats of Apple's new Intel Macs.
Dual Link HDTV SDI capture
Blackmagic Design has announced a new low-cost Dual Link HDTV 4:4:4 12-bit SDI capture card with high-quality 14-bit analog video monitoring. The DeckLink HD Pro PCIe instantly switches between HDTV and standard definition modes, giving editors greater flexibility and choice when working in a variety of formats, according to the company. Due to its Dual Link 4:4:4 video quality and unique Blackmagic-designed 14-bit analog video outputs, DeckLink HD Pro PCIe is the highest quality broadcast video card available and is designed for the most demanding high-end television and feature film post production. The DeckLink HD Pro PCIe is available now for $1,200.
New Mac OS X worm
A new malware program for Mac OS X is now circulating the internet. Ambrosia Software and some avid Mac users haved noted what appears to be a new trojan horse for Mac OS X. The program, named "latestpics.tgz," has been confirmed by Internet security software maker Intego and dubbed "Oompa-Loompa" by Ambrosia Software. Once unarchived, the file appears to be a JPEG image, but is in fact an executable PowerPC-compiled program. Once run, the application will create a pristine copy of itself in /tmp as "latestpics," which it later user to self-propegate via iChat. The malware infects other applications through the InputManager mechanism, inadvertently rendering them useless due to a bug in the malicious code. It uses Spotlight to find the four most recently used applications on the host machine that are not owned by root, after which it checks to see if the application has already been infected.
Apple to switch OS?
A professor at Rutgers University thinks Apple may be setting up to switch to the Windows OS. John Dvorak of PC Magazine writes that professor of psychology Yakov Epstein has noticed a few "coincidences" that point to Apple moving towards the Windows OS. Epstein's observations include the fact that the Apple Switch campaign is over, and "nobody switched;" the lack of FireWire connectors for new iPods as the PC world is the new "target audience;" very few consumers have switched to Macs after being more exposed to Apple products via the iPod; and the switch to the Intel-based microprocessor. Dvorak points to the fact that Apple has reacted strongly to Macintosh gossip sites, saying it is Apple's way of attempting to stem future rumors about product development.
WinTel 2.1.0 released
OpenOSX today began shipping its WinTel 2.1.0 application, featuring "Qemu" software for dynamic translation, which it claims provides 300-600 percent greater performance over the previous version on Intel Macs. WinTel is an easy-to-use stand-alone application for configuring and utilizing the included open source "Qemu" software, which allows the use of x86/Pentium-based operating systems on Macs running Mac OS X. OpenOSX also announced that for the first time, Microsoft Windows XP is an OpenOSX recommended guest operating system on Intel Macs. WinTel allows host operating systems and applications such as Microsoft Windows to run in a protected, virtual environment within a window under Mac OS X. Apple's new Intel-based Macs allow instructions to be dynamically translated, drastically enhancing performance. WinTel contains three sets of binaries optimized for PowerPC G4, G5 and Intel processors. Version 2.1.0 also simplifies usage, and eliminates several minor potential issues. WinTel 2.1.0 requires Mac OS X 10.3.9 or later, and is available for $25 via download.
Call of Duty 2 live
Aspyr Media today announced that Activision's Call of Duty 2 for Mac is now live on its website. "Originally developed by Infinity Ward, Call of Duty 2 re-defines the cinematic intensity and chaos of battle as seen through the eyes of ordinary soldiers fighting together in epic World War II conflicts. The sequel to Call of Duty, the 2003 Game of the Year and winner of more than 80 awards, Call of Duty 2 offers more immense, more intense, more realistic battles than ever before, thanks to the stunning visuals of the new Call of Duty 2 engine. Call of Duty 2 offers all-new enhancements such as realistic graphics, seamless gameplay, a new engine, "groundbreaking" AI, and choice-based innovations that enhance the reality of warfare. The game features rendered snow, rain, fog, and smoke, combined with dynamic lighting and shadows (system requirements and pricing were unavailable).
AAPL future is bright
Apple's stock has been wavering at about 20 percent lower than its January high of $86 because investors have worried about possible glitches from the transition as well as buyer hesitation creating a sales slowdown, according to BusinessWeek. The columnist argues that while the lack of compatibility of key applications with the new Macs may be holding some customers back, Apple will bounce back in the future. "Adobe Photoshop require[s] reworking for the Intel-based systems-- and the new versions might not go on sale until early 2007. In the meantime, Adobe Photoshop runs about 50 percent slower on the Intel-based iMac than on predecessor iMac G5."
Linux on iMac Core Duo
Members of the Mactel-Linux effort today announced that they have managed to boot Linux on a 17-inch iMac Core Duo, and devoted special thanks to one user in particular for his efforts. Mactel-Linux is the effort to adapt the GNU/Linux operating system to Intel-based Apple Macintosh hardware, which requires changes or additions to various parts of the Linux operating system. Such parts include the elilo bootloader, the Linux kernel itself, and several device drivers. "Using elilo and a modified Linux kernel, we can boot the kernel and run executables in the initrd on the 17-inch iMac Core Duo. We are using the hacked vesafb driver to inherit the bootloader's video mode, interrupts are up and some drivers work." The team writes on its website that instructions and patches are forthcoming, slated to be made public this weekend.
New 55.5WH Al-PB battery
Other World Computing and NewerTech today introduced its high quality replacement battery for Apple's PowerBook G4 15-inch Aluminum laptop series. "Engineered with revolutionary cells just released on the market and not available through any other manufacturer in units of this capacity and quality, the newest addition to the NewerTech NuPower Lithium-Ion battery family are rated at 55.5 watt hours providing almost 16 percent more run time capacity than Apple factory-shipped batteries." NuPower batteries are designed, engineered, and manufactured in the US using quality Lithium-Ion cells from Japan and Canada to ensure both longer runtime and lifespan, according to the company. The new 55.5 Watt Hour PowerBook G4 Aluminum 15-inch batteries retail for $140 and come with a one-year NewerTech warranty. A 53.3 Watt Hour model also is available for $130. The batteries are compatible with all of Apple's PowerBook G4 Aluminum 15-inch models from 1.0GHz and up to the current 1.67GHz.
iTunes hurts musicians
At least one indie label is refusing to allow iTunes to license any of the indie label's music, according to a report. Victory Records' founder Tony Brummel says that iTunes "makes music disposable. It makes it a faceless impulse item. It steals its soul," according to Macworld UK. Brummel asks why consumers should be allowed to "cherry pick" specific songs, thus "cannibalizing full length album sales," with an apparent impact on artist incomes, according to the report. In regards to Apple's influence in the music industry, Brummel points out that if the major labels wanted to force Apple away from the set-pricing model, they would all pull out their music from iTunes. "Focus on the 96 percent which is traditional retail. Traditional retail supports music 1,000 times more than iTunes does."
Tuneview iPod remote
Keyspan today announced that it will launch Tuneview, the first remote control to display the iPod's digital menu on an LCD screen, at the CeBit show in Hanover Germany this March. Tuneview allows users to listen to play-lists through a home stereo, as well as charge an iPod via the docking station. "Tuneview is a world first; available exclusively from KeySpan and is the only remote control to allow you to navigate the full range of iPod functions via the remote control which displays the digital menu, without ever having to leave your chair!" [corrected]
Cinebench 9.5 released
Maxon announced Cinebench 9.5, now a Universal binary. Cinebench is a free benchmarking tool based on Maxon's Cinema 4D program, and includes render tasks that test the performance of up to 16 multiprocessors on the same computer as well as software-only shading tests and OpenGL shading tests on large numbers of animated polygons. Cinebench especially measures a system's CPU and the OpenGL capabilities of its graphics card-- during the testing procedure, all relevant data is ascertained with which the performance of different computers can subsequently be compared, regrardless of operating system. The database functionality and simple export allow for easy statistical data collection, acording to the company, and is used by hardware manufacturers such as Intel, AMD, and Apple to compare computer performance.
IceBox X-Clip nano case
GEAR4 announced the IceBox X-Clip Series of iPod nano cases. The cases are made of a hard, clear plastic, with options for clip-on features. The IceBox X-Clip is the basic model which ships with a belt clip attachment, and the IceBox X-Clip Splitter features both the belt clip attachment and an interchangeabe eaphone splitter, allowing more than one person to plug their headphones into the iPod. The X-Clip Series all come with a two-peice protective film with cut-outs for extra security and access to all controls and ports. The IceBox X-Clip costs $22, and the Splitter version costs $30.
Amazon takes on iTunes
Internet retailer Amazon is prepping a digital music service (subscription required) to rival music ecosystem that it hopes will help it take on Apple's industry leading music player and music store. Amazon is advanced talks with the four global music companies about a digital-music service with a range of features designed to set it apart, according to The Wall Street Journal. The report says that it is working to develop its own branded portable media players that are specifically designed and built for the retailer as well as a "subscription service that would deeply discount and preload those devices with songs, not unlike mobile phones that are included with subscription plans as part of the deal." Music labels are hoping that Amazon's massive customer may base will help it succeed, in the face of Apple's virtual dominance of the digital market. The pending offering could jeapordize the status of Amazon as an Apple reseller who sells iPods and other Macs. Amazon sells about 10% of all digital music players in the U.S., according to the report.
ScriptPak for iWeb 1.0
MacSpeech has released a new ScriptPak for iWeb 1.0. The new ScriptPak adds almost 150 commands to iListen that allows the user to do virtually anything in iWeb they would normally do using keyboard shortcuts or menus. "iWeb is our first of several iLife 06 ScriptPaks that will be released this year," said MacSpeech Chief Evangelist Chuck Rogers. "iListen users will now find designing and publishing web sites easier than ever with these new voice commands installed." The ScriptPak for iWeb is available immediately from MacSpeech for $15. iListen 1.6.8 or later is required to use the new ScriptPak. [site not yet updated]
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