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Apple's Billion Song Countdown promo is quickly approaching the 1 billion mark, as the company continues to lead the industry in online music sales via the iTunes Music Store. On Wednesday evening, Apple's online counter showed that iTunes had sold just over 999,500,000 songs--about half a million songs short of the industry milestone. Apple is offering a 4GB iPod nano and $100 iTunes gift certificate to the customer who purchases every 100,000th song and an even larger package to the lucky customer who downloads the billionth song--it includes a 20-inch iMac, 10 60GB iPods, and a $10,000 iTunes gift certificate and a full-ride scholarship in your name to a world-renowned music school. Just think: You could help launch the careers of an entire generation of musicians." Free entry forms are available on the Web as well.
Apple's video iPod will have a new competitor in March, according to a report. Micheal Kwan of MobileMag reports that the Viliv P1 Portable Media Player, which has been available in Asia since last summer, will soon be available in the United States and Canada. The player reportedly features a 4-inch widescreen TFT display, and can play file types such as Macromedia Flash, DivX, Xvid, and MPEG 1/2/4. It is also said to sport 30GB of on-board memory and include audio support of MP3s, WMAs, OGGs and FM radio reception. Kwan says the player has 6 hours of video viewing and 11 hours of audio viewing (pricing was unavailable).
ShaggyMac announced two new products to its line of laptop accessories--OptiMist Prime and MacBook Pro Screen Protector. The 15.4-inch MacBook Pro Screen Protector (pictured) cushions the laptop's delicate screen when the lid is closed. It prevents marks and scuffs which are caused from keyboard/trackpad contact. It is made from ShaggyMac's TrueMicro cloth and doubles as an Optical Polishing Cloth. The screen protector is available in Stealth Grey, Panther Black, Bottom Blue, or Big Red and costs $13. OptiMist Prime is a biodegradable, molecular level formula, engineered to clean the most sensitive optical surfaces. OptiMist Prime will not streak or haze, an is recommended for use on laptop screens, computer monitors, flat screens (LCD & Plasma), touch screens, coated eye-wear, photo & video optics, instrument clusters, and more. The 4oz spray bottle retails for $10 and is sufficient for several hundred applications.
KeynotePro has released new updates to OM EP Edition and Sonoma for Pages. The OM 2 EP Edition Themes update themes for enhanced readability on an iPod screen, with each slide also Title-Safe optimized to ensure that presenters using the iPod AV Cable to connect their iPod to a television do not lose details. Also new is an extensively reworked platform framework, so users can now customize every aspect of the program's coloration with modifications to the slide background or via simple shape objects pushed behind the platform layer. The OM 2 EP Edition master slide library has also expanded to a full 30 master slides, including more variations on favorite layouts from the original as well as additional photo and mosaic slides. The update to OM 2 EP Edition is free for registered users, or costs $10, and requires Keynote 3.0 or higher.
In brief: Sonos today introduced a Universal Binary version of the Sonos Desktop Controller, providing native support for the new Intel Macs.... One avid Mac user has posted information about the recently-discovered Safari vulnerability, as well as instructions to disable the risky behavior before it can be exploited.... Macgamestore.com today announced that it is making PopCap Games' Macintosh games available via its store, offering titles such as Bejeweled 2 and Bookworm Deluxe.... GizMac Accessories today announced that its Titan iPod nano cases ($40, shown at right) are now available for pre-order.... Apple is featuring a collection of card games on its website, many of which are available for online ordering 24 hours a day.... Epson lodged a complaint on February 17th with the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) against 24 companies that manufacture, import, or distribute aftermarket ink cartridges for resale within the U.S.
Recent reports that Apple took legal action against a hacker--who has been aiming to make Mac OS X work on generic Intel-based PCs--are apparently misplaced. The OSx86 project yesterday speculated that Apple may have taken action against Maxxuss, the named hacker whose posts and downloads drew Apple's attention which resulted in legal action against the OSx86 project. The hacker's own website then disappeared, resulting in speculation that Apple had take action against the hacker for posting patches and instructions to run Mac OS X on non-Apple machines. This morning, however, Maxxuss launched a new website and blog designed to share his findings with others who wish to run Mac software on standard (i.e., generic) PC's, according to a report from Macworld UK. The OSx86 project closed down its forums on Friday following a cease and desist order from Apple, but returned after removing the links that Apple claimed violated the DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act).
HealthWare today announced the availability of iDental 1.6. iDental allows users to keep track of patients and their histories, transactions and payments-- electronic claims are transmitted via modem or the Internet. Interactive Reporting allows the user to move quickly from the report itself to the procedure, patient, or event that is being reported. Smart Scheduling knows how much time any dental procedure requires and automatically books that amount, then allows users to post transactions through the calendar. New to iDental 1.6 is enhanced reporting, refinements to SmartScheduling, additions to batch capabilities, and eClaims. eClaims utilizes ClaimConnect from dentalxchange, a unique, Web-based electronic clearing portal (pricing given via individual inquiries).
H&R Block has discontinued the Macintosh version of its "TaxCut" income tax preparation software. The company cited declining support and claims that its web-based "TaxCut Online" product will continue to support Mac users, including the ability to import tax data files from previous years. The company said "unfortunately, despite our best efforts to invest and enhance our Macintosh prodcuts over the past everal years, customer demand has continued to decline. Due to poor sales, we've decided to discontinue Macintosh development for this year. We will continue to evaluate the market viability for Macintosh-based products in the future." Users can provide feedback on the decision by contacting H&R online .
Faronics has released a native Intel version of Deep Freeze Mac with ARD integration. The new version of Deep Freeze Mac provides the guaranteed "bulletproof protection," offering a completely non-restrictive working environment where it says "there is no need to be concerned about system misconfiguration, or malicious damage to a Mac OS X system." The software allows a simple restart to eradicate all changes and to ensure that the standard system configuration is available at all times. "All changes to a machine are temporary for that working session, including installation of new software, removal of programs, and application preference configuration. The need for IT professionals to perform rebuilds, re-image, or troubleshoot computers is eliminated, resulting in a reduction in IT expenditures and an increase in computer uptime." A download version for a singl-user is $30, while discounted licensing is available for education and enterprise.
A slowdown in demand for NAND flash memory--the kind used in Apple's latest iPods--will have a "significant negative impact on pricing" for DRAM, according to market research firm iSuppli. A lull in the market for NAND flash memory, while typical after the holiday season, has led to an oversupply situation in the market this quarter. Even with Apple cutting prices and announcing new iPod products, NAND suppliers have yet to see a benefit, as Apple and other major buyers reportedly overbooked NAND flash in case of short supply. This has led to a swelling of NAND part inventories, leading to a rise in NAND flash availability and a downfall in prices as major NAND buyers look to reduce their inventories.
Mariner Software has released MacJournal 3.3, an update to its journaling and blogging application for Mac OS X. This release introduces Universal support for the new Intel-based Macs (as well as the existing PowerPC machines). The update also fixes several bugs and offers other enhancements. The software supports blogs such as LiveJournal, Blogger, Movable Type, WordPress, and more with 2-D Quartz rendering technology for graphically rich journals. It supports nexted, multiple journals and Entry Keywords to efficiently organize entries as well as password protection and AES-256 encryption for improved privacy. The software will also export to multiple file formats (MS Word, RTF, HTML, etc.), offers rich text editing, features advanced search functions, and more. It is a free update to the $25 application.
Cheetah3D.com today released Cheetah3D 3.0, an update to the application that can model, animate, and render 3D objects. Version 3.0 is available as a Universal Binary, offering native support for Intel-based Macs that vastly improves performance on those systems. A new UV editor alongside UV unwrapping tools allow users to assign UV coordinates to complex meshes, and users can paint textures directly in Cheetah3D with various pressure-sensitive brushes, as well as the basic drawing tools. The update includes a PDF file loader, allowing users to move vector drawings and logos from almost any Mac OS X vector drawing program to Cheetah3D. Version 3.0 boasts improved workflow, the ability to render the Piranesi EPix image format, and more. Cheetah3D 3.0 is available for $100 (system requirements were unavailable).
Analysts have begun to speculate about what "fun" products may be introduced by Apple during its forthcoming special event in Cupertino on February 28th. Analyst Shaw Wu of American Technology Research believes that Apple will announce a new wide-screen consumer notebook and an entry-level Mac mini, both of which will include a remote control and Front Row software. "We believe Apple will take the opportunity to round out its Intel Mac portfolio 6-9 months ahead of plan," the analyst said. Wu also expects the much anticipated native versions of Apple's Pro applications--Universal Binary versions of Aperture, Final Cut Pro, and Motion, which are expected to ship in March. According to his report, he also says there is a "greater than 50 percent chance" that Apple will announce its first full-length feature film available on iTunes, as well as the announcement that iTunes has received more than 1 billion downloads.
Torrent Station 1.1 ($20) is a BitTorrent client for Mac OS X. It offers advanced features such as global and individual limits, queuing, and folders. New features include the Universal binary format, overall stability and performance fixes, an improved interface, and many small bug fixes. [Download - 1.7MB] GRASS GIS 6.0.2 (free) is a Geographical Information System (GIS) used for data management, image processing, graphics production, spatial modeling, and visualization of raster, vector and sites data. The new features of GRASS 6 cover a new topological 2D/3D vector engine and support for vector network analysis; attributes are now managed in an SQL-based DBMS; a new display manager has been implemented; the NVIZ visualization tool was enhanced to display 3D vector data and voxel volumes; messages are partially translated (i18N) with support for FreeType fonts, including multibyte Asian characters; and more. [Download - [options]] ReelBean 0.90 (free) is a media exporter and player. The major new feature in this release is a scene selection capability-- for any movie the user can play with the application, ReelBean now provides the option of displaying a drawer containing a list of frames selected from the movie at evenly-distributed intervals. A scene can then be double-clicked to cause the player to jump to that frame in the movie. Additionally there are minor GUI improvements. [Download - 976KB] Synchronize! Pro X 5.0 ($100) is a professional file synchronization and backup utility for Mac OS X. Bootable backups can be made to both FireWire and USB 2.0 external hard drives. The program keeps old files in an archive, with grouping abilities. Backups can be scheduled, so that the user need not run backsups while using the computer. The new version has added support for native operation on Intel Macs, and an added force eject to "Completion Options." [Download - [options]] iTerm 0.8.2 (free) is a full featured terminal emulation program written for OS X using Cocoa. It features a native OS X user interface, Bonjour support, complete VT100 emulation with additional support for most common xterm and ANSI escape sequences, tabbing, bookmarks, an anti-idle function, and more. New features include custom key-mapping, support for both PowerPC and Intel Macs, and more. [Download - 7.17MB] ShapeShifter 2.3 ($20) allows the user to change the overall appearance of their Mac using 'themes'-- the look of windows, menus, apps, buttons, and everything else. New features include the guiTweak now allowing the user to manually set colors in any theme; the ability to type the name of a theme to select it; Growl will indicate that themes were applied successfully; a completely revamped app skin compatibility system; DVD Player can now use custom application skins; ShapeShifter now honors the Aqua/Graphite setting in menu highlights; and more. [Download - 6.12MB]
GizMac Accessories today announced that its Titan iPod nano cases are now available for pre-order. The company unveiled its cases at the Macworld Expo in San Francisco, placing the protective covers on display for attendees. Titan cases include a carabineer clip, arm band, belt clip with 360-degree rotation, and lanyard accessories offering users a variety of ways to wear the iPod. Built from anodized aircraft aluminum, the Titan case includes a screen and scrollwheel protector to shield those components from potential damage. GizMac's Titan iPod nano case is available in 10 colors for $40, and are slated for shipment in March.
Aspyr Media today announced that it will publish Command & Conquer Generals Deluxe Edition, a bundle that contains Command & Conquer Generals and its expansion pack, Command & Conquer Generals Zero Hour. "Command & Conquer Generals puts your trigger finger on the pulse of modern warfare. Prepare your forces, General…it’s time to engage in the next generation of real-time strategy. And, with Zero Hour, unleash the absolute latest in modern weapons technology against the world’s most powerful Generals. The most explosive arsenal ever assembled for C&C Generals. Welcome to the next era of military strategy and might. Lead the high-tech U.S. Forces, the vast Chinese war machine, or the resourceful Global Liberation Army to victory against the world's most formidable military masterminds." The title will be available "soon," according to Aspyr.
In brief: Following reports of shipment and receipt of the new MacBook Pro, Apple has quietly removed the 15-inch PowerBook G4 from its online Apple Store.... MacNN has reviewed the MobileCharge ($40) from Speck Products, as well as the AirPlay2 FM Transmitter ($60) from XtremeMac.... iCompositions.com yesterday released four free guitar lessons produced by iCompositions member Ed Nicholson.... Griffin today began shipping TuneFlex ($40, shown at right), a dock and charger for iPod nano designed for use within an automobile.... Apple's iTunes Music Store yesterday listed the first pay-for-play podcast, charging users $10 to download the 20-episode audio book of Scott Sigler's EarthCore.
Ntractive announced a preview of its Elements web application. The preview includes descriptions, screen shots and QuickTime videos of the small business management tool. Elements allows for Personal Information Management of an internal mail system, an employee in/out board, company-wide scheduling and calendar, contact management, and more. The customer relations management functions of Elements include an Information Technologies module, sales tracking, marketing, financial tracking, and more. The company is currently accepting requests for early access to the system in an open beta test, with the final product set to be released this year. The cost of Elements is $40 per user, per month.
Media 100 has released Media 100i version 8.2.3, which brings new OS and software compatibility to the familiar Media 100i interface. Version 8.2.3 is now compatible with Mac OS X Tiger and Apple's QuickTime 7.0 compatibility, In addition, the software is now compatible with Media 100 HD and Media 100 sw, allowing users to seamlessly move media between systems. The update also allows users to export the timeline to the newly released Adobe After Effects 7.0; this includes all elements such as clips, effects, titles as separate layers. It also provides a fix for using G5 Power Macs with an expansion chassis: "Macintosh G5 systems with an expansion chassis will no longer experience problems when digitizing high data rates. (This fix only applies to systems running Tiger)." Users can also export timeline audio and video to an iPod after applying the free update.
Geekspiff has announced the release of ThemePark 3.0, its system theme creation tool. Users can draw titlebars, buttons, and other widgets in the graphics editor of their choice, and move them into ThemePark to create a new theme or modify an existing one. ThemePark includes an application skin template editor that makes it "easy" to create templates for any app. New features include added support for "wbmp" resources, converted documentation to HTML, an added new element editor, an added guiKit variant manager, new application skins may be added, customized templated can be shared with other ThemePark users, speed improvements to the "ppat" editor, various bug fixes, and more. ThemePark 3.0 for Mac OS X costs $20.
Griffin today announced that they have begun shipping TuneFlex, a dock and charger for iPod nano designed for use within an automobile. TuneFlex's flexible steel neck adjusts to any angle or elevation and also grips the Nano; it rotates to stay upright and easily readable in any position. TuneFlex plugs into the car's 12 Volt accessory outlet to power and charge the iPod. The light at the base of TuneFlex's neck shows power status and its charging circuitry is equipped with a fuse to keep the iPod safe. TuneFlex offers a built-in 1/8-inch stereo line-out jack that enables users to attach cassette adapters or cables. TuneFlex also includes a pass-through dock connector that supports digital devices, such as Griffin's iTrip FM transmitter, AirClick remote, SmartDeck cassette adapter, and others. It also includes a low-high audio output switch to ensure sound without distortion, according to the company. It is available for $40.
An avid Mac user today released a small program called Safe Terminal (untested/not verified) that claims to protect against the recently-discovered 'safe execution' vulnerability in Safari, one that can allow remote system access. The flaw, reported earlier this week and confirmed yesterday by Symantec, takes advantage of an automatically selected option to "open safe files" after downloading. According to the author, Safe Terminal fixes a security weakness with the Terminal utility, preventing the execution of scripts without the user's permission. The author of the fix also says it's possible for malicious users to create "plain files," that will be executed by Terminal when double-clicked without warning. Safe Terminal guards against both of these issues, but will not execute .command and .term files, nor will a new shell window open when launching Terminal.app. Safe Terminal is available for free via download. Apple, which typically does not respond to revealed security threats, has yet to release its own patch for the flaw.
Blackmagic Design today announced Universal V2.1 for its HDLink HD/SD-SDI to DVI monitoring converter. HDLink, an advanced full HD resolution monitoring converters available for LCD computer monitors, now features Universal support for Intel and PowerPC- based Macs. The HDLink connects post production quality SDI video directly to any supported DVI-D based LCD computer monitor for true HDTV resolution video monitoring. It features a compact design and support for full resolution HD. In addition, HDLink now also automatically detects DVI-D or HDMI display types and includes new improvements to 24 PsF mode and HD 720p/50 support for DVI-D and HDMI. HDLink is available for $700.
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HBO Now has 800,000 subscribers
The CEO of HBO, Richard Plepler has confirmed that the online streaming HBO service, HBO Now, has 800,000 subscribers. When criticized for the seemingly low number, Plepler noted that the still nascent service was bound to Apple exclusivity during the fifth season of Game of Thrones. Plepler declared during the Time Warner quarterly earnings conference call marketing for the online-only offering would be enhanced in 2016. While HBO Now's critics are slamming the low numbers, the service must also compete against itself on cable, in addition to Netflix and other streaming services. http://on.recode.net/1QWoLHe
Unsafe IoT called threat to humanity
US Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told two different Senate committees yesterday that the Internet of Things posed a clear and present danger, and could be weaponized by governments. Before the Senate Armed Services Committee and the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Clapper declared that insecure IoT "will bring new security vulnerabilities" and "will connect tens of billions of new physical devices that could be exploited" by those wishing to perpetrate violence or eavesdrop on the populace of the world. http://bit.ly/23Xvcky
Apple public betas for iOS 9.3, OS X 10.11.4
Following Monday's release of betas for the iOS and OS X, Apple has unveiled public betas for both operating systems. The iOS 9.3 beta includes all of the previously reported enhancements for education customers, along with Wi-Fi calling for Verizon iPhone owners, and a carrier update for T-Mobile users. The OS X 10.11.4 third beta includes enhancements to Twitter URL opening, Live Photo viewing and sharing, and Evernote note importation into Notes.
Google given NHTSA SDS waivers
In contrast to the California Department of Motor Vehicle's approach, the US National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA) has confirmed that it is declaring the software in autonomous cars is the legal driver of a so-equipped vehicle. In a letter to Google, the NHTSA says that it "will interpret 'driver' in the context of Google's described motor vehicle design as referring to the SDS [self-driving system], and not to any of the vehicle occupants." Other matters, such as legally-required rear-view mirrors for occupied vehicles has yet to be determined. However, regulations specifying the "driver" need no longer be interpreted as meaning a person behind the wheel, as the agency writes that self-driving cars "will not have a 'driver' in the traditional sense that vehicles have had drivers during the last more than one hundred years" http://1.usa.gov/1QrAGtR
Dropshare 4 for Mac now available
Dropshare 4 for Mac has shipped, introducing support for uploading files and screenshots to Amazon S3 API-compliant services, like DreamObjects and OpenStack. The update also introduces a new popup design, an in-app editor for custom landing pages, an improved upload history window, and security improvements when using SSH connections. The paid upgrade costs $25, though it is free for customers who bought the previous version this year and half-price for those who acquired version 3 of the app last year. http://bit.ly/1XixV3q
Google starting phase-out of Flash ads
Search engine and advertising giant Google will shortly no longer accept Adobe Flash-created ads for its AdWords network. Starting June 30, ads in the once-ubiquitous format will no longer be accepted. Additionally, after January 2, 2017, the network will no longer serve Flash-based advertisements, and the network will be completely HTML 5 based. http://bit.ly/1PNx1uc
Sonos now works with Apple Music
Wireless music system manufacturer Sonos has announced that its systems worldwide will gain compatibility for streaming the paid Apple Music subscription service starting today, February 10. "Music fans worldwide will have access to Apple Music features like For You, New, Radio, and My Music, and will also be able to stream the entire Apple Music catalog through Sonos smart speakers tuned for great sound in every room of their homes," the company said in an email to journalists. Apple Music's streaming service costs $10 per month, with a free three-month trial. http://bit.ly/1Wdi2Ko