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In brief: Bose is scheduled to make a major announcement on March 2nd in Taiwan, and one tech-related website believes the company may unveil an iPod rival.... A new video posted on YouTube suggests that a recent photograph of Apple's proposed new video iPod was merely a Photoshop creation.... Lynda.com is offering free training for visitors looking to learn more about using iTunes, accessing playlists, cataloging music, and more.... A recently-conducted survey to find the modern-day equivalents of the Seven Wonders of the World put Apple's iPod in second place, for "revolutionizing the music industry and long-held preconceptions of how we listen to music".... Contour Design has introduced two new cases for Apple's latest generation of iPod digital music players with video, the Showcase video 60 (shown at right) and Showcase video 30.
Apple's online store has a limited number of 12-inch iBooks for $700 (1GHz/256MB/30GB) and 14-inch iBooks for $1050 (1.42GHz/512MB/60GB). Apple is also offerng refurbished iPod minis for $150; refurbished Apple Cinema Displays for $700 (20-inch), $1,100 (23-inch), and $2,100 (30-inch); a refurbished 17-inch iMac G5 for $800 or $1,100 (with Front Row/iSight); and AirPort wireless products for $100 (AirPort Express) and $170 (AirPort Extreme Base Station). Several refurbished PowerBook models are available as well: 12-inch with SuperDrive ($1,200), 15-inch/SuperDrive for $1,550 or $1,600, and 17-inch PowerBook for $1,850 or $2,000 as well as several models of refurb Power Mac G5 starting at $1,550. All refurb Macs carry an Apple one-year warranty and come with free shipping.
Despite rumors of a possible take over of Disney by Apple, fueled by an article at Barron's over the weekend, one Fool.com columnist believes that such a deal, while very attractive for each company, could put Apple in an awkward position with its other content partners, could be too much for Apple CEO Steve Jobs, and would be anything but a match-made-in-heaven. "Disney hooking up with Apple would be an unmitigated disaster. Don't believe me? Let's look under the hood.... Apple needs to keep its relationships strong. That's best accomplished by not taking sides. Even though an easy argument can be made that the content providers need Apple more than Apple needs them, you just don't want to foster that kind of nepotistic environment. Jobs will sit on Disney's board after the Pixar deal is complete -- that's true -- but it doesn't tug on the financial heartstrings the way corporate ownership would."
IBM's recent announcement to bring Lotus Notes to the Mac and Linux platforms will help it expand marketshare and provide an viable alternative to Microsoft's "feature-rich" Office/Exchange 12 on Vista.. A new column on emailbattles says that the forthcoming upgrade to IBM Notes will finally offer provide the needed business software for Linux desktops and help establish the Mac platform in corporate America: "The moment the new Notes is launched, Linux will have a complete retail-quality client desktop system to link with the world's only browser platform, Firefox, and hopefully accelerate OpenOffice development. Apple will get its first truly complete database collaboration environment, which should help create an image of Mac as a possible business platform. And both will get a shot at tons of previously out-of-reach business desktops."
Earlier this month, Tiger Technology announced the release 2.1 of its flagship MetaSAN software, which brought support for Mac OS X 10.4 as well as an innovative File Sequence Optimizer (Linux/Windows) and a high-performance Dynamic Disk Optimizer (Windows-only). The company touts the product as an alternative to Apple Xsan for users of Final Cut Pro. MetaSAN is a SAN management solution for Fibre Channel, iSCSI, and Gigabit Ethernet networks, offering high-speed file sharing for workgroup collaboration. MetaSAN and MetaLAN support Windows, Mac OS X , and Linux platforms. MetaSAN licenses are priced at $1,000, while MetaLAN licenses are priced at $300.
Stuff Magazine has reviewed Apple's new 15-inch MacBook Pro, touching on the Intel-based notebook's highs and lows. The bright LCD allows working in direct sunlight with no problem, though viewing the screen from varying angles reduces the brightness. "In standard use, the MacBook performed snappily - no spinning 'beachballs of death' to report, and the Safari web browser launched instantaneously. iTunes flies through CD rips at around 15x-20x playback speed (in high performance mode) and you can seamlessly scroll through thousands of snaps in iPhoto without the slightest glitch," the reviewer wrote. Once again, the fact that not all Mac software has been released as Universal Binaries to run natively on the new Intel-based systems has drawn some attention. Battery life during during lots of disc spinning and software installation is reported to be just over two-and-a-half hours, while a full recharge during use took roughly 90 minutes. Stuff's conclusion: "for now, all I know is that Apple's going to have to send the heavies around if it expects to get this particular MacBook back."
Microsoft is planning to offer six core versions of Windows Vista, which the company says will ship in the second half of 2006. The tech giant will release three versions for consumers, two for businesses, and a stripped-down edition for emerging markets, according to a report from Reuters. Barry Goffe, director of Microsoft's Windows client product marketing said "we're delivering the exact same number of offerings as in Windows XP, but the big difference is that each of those offerings are targeted differently with a different set of features." Windows Vista Home Premium utilizes tablet PC technology to decipher handwriting which will allow users to write notes on their computers, and will allow users to record or watch high-definition television, as well as burn or author DVDs. Windows Vista Ultimate includes business-oriented features, while the stripped Windows Vista Home Basic edition ships without the multimedia capabilities of its more robust siblings. Windows Vista Business is designed for small to medium-sized businesses, while Windows Vista Enterprise will be aimed at global companies.
Lexar Media today debuted Smart Download, an intelligent acquisition plug-in module that allows photographers to rapidly download and manage images directly from their memory cards via Adobe Bridge, a component of Adobe CS2. The the new plug-in is designed to allow photographers to leverage advanced features offered by Lexar Professional ActiveMemory, CompactFlash, and Secure Digital flash memory cards. "The ActiveMemory System (AMS) is Lexar's innovative digital photography workflow technology that stores user preferences and host device settings in a protected area on AMS flash memory cards. These settings can only be modified by the host application that created them and can be used to auto-configure multiple AMS-enabled products within the system." Lexar also announced that it has doubled the speed rating of its professional 8GB CompactFlash memory card to 90X, which is capable of a minimum sustained data write speed of 13.5MB per second. Smart Download will be available by the end of March for $30, and the new Professional 8GB CompactFlash Type I card is expected to be available in April.
AJA Video today unveiled the Kona LSe, a new PCI-Express version of the company's analog and digital SD video capture/playback card. Designed with Final Cut Pro users running G5 PCIe G5 systems in mind, the card features 12-bit component or composite/S-video analog I/O. The Kona LSe boasts PCIe 4-lane compatibility, 10-bit SDI input, and two independent SDI outputs alongside AES I/O for sample rate conversion on input. The card offers balanced analog audio I/O; six-channel SDI embedded audio support; broadcast-quality TBC with VHS support; "Genlock;" RS-422 machine control; and AJA QuickTime drivers. Additional features include support for After Effects, Combustion, and Motion. The solution supports popular standard definition formats of 8/10-bit uncompressed, JPEG, DV25/50, and 3-to-2 pulldown for 24Hz support. Kona LSe is slated for shipment on March 20th for $1,000 with a three-year warranty.
StreamingMedia.com today announced publication of two new research reports, "Proprietary Streaming Codecs, 2006" and "Flash Codecs, 2006." The first report compares RealVideo and Windows Media with top Flash and Apple's H.264 codecs, while the second compares the quality of Flash video codecs and encoding tools. The company found that quality of the best Flash and H.264 codecs still trailed RealVideo, often by a significant margin. "While the progress of H.264 and Flash codecs has been impressive," quipped report author Jan Ozer, "rumors of the demise of all other codecs have been greatly exaggerated." To research the reports, Ozer produced a 6-minute test file composed of 38 scenes representing typical business, sports, and entertainment videos, along with several animations and still image pans and zooms.
Sophos today announced the latest version of Sophos Anti-Virus for Mac OS X. The update provides complete protection against all known threats, according to the company, and includes support for the new Intel Duo processor powered iMac, as well as the MacBook Pro. Available in English, Japanese, French, German and Spanish language versions, Sophos Anti-Virus 4.7 allows users to perform on-demand scanning of files and folders, while its on-access scanner intercepts file accesses and protects against all types of malware, including non-Mac viruses, to provide a multi-layered defence against threats. Sophos Anti-Virus for Mac OS X enables automatic updates for all desktops. In addition, third-party developers producing anti-virus or security products for Mac OS X are able to integrate Sophos virus scanning technology into their products in the same way that OEMs and system integrators have done on Windows and Unix platforms. The software runs on Mac OS X 10.2 or later (pricing not available).
NewTech Infosystems today released NTI Dragon Flix, its DVD video backup and compression software for Mac OS X. The application can burn high quality backup copies of DVD movies, and copy unencrypted movies onto a single DVD disc. Users can select whether to back up the entire disc or only the main movie, and can compress an unencrypted 8.5GB dual-layer movie down to the 4.7GB single-layer size. The application can remove unwanted features and burn a movie to a disc without having to split the movie onto two discs, and without sacrificing audio/video quality or playback compatibility. NTI Dragon Flix features DVD 9 to DVD 5 compression, can import VIDEO_TS folders from an unencrypted DVD disc or hard drive, and can make multiple copies simultaneously. NTI Dragon Flix is available for $40, and requires Mac OS X 10.3.9 or later.
Corel today released the Corel Painter IX.5 update, offering professional photographers and artists new tools designed to ease the process of transforming photographs into paintings on Intel-based Macs. Version IX.5 adds support for Apple's Rosetta emulation software, allowing Apple's latest systems to run Corel Painter. The update offers new photo painting palettes which include the Underpainting, Auto-Painting, and Restoration palettes. Version IX.5 also includes an eraser tool, a rubber stamp tool, and a "cloner" tool providing instant access to to the last-used cloner brush and brush varient. The update is available as a free download to registered users, and is available for $400. Corel Painter IX.5 requires Mac OS X 10.2.8 or later.
Piano Tuner 1.4 ($100) is a 12-note chromatic scale strobe tuner application that utilizes audio input devices such as built-in microphone, line-in, and iSight. The update is a Universal Binary that runs natively on Apple's new Intel Macs, and adds the Lehman-Bach temperament. The application features customizable temperaments, customizable stretch tables, an 88-key piano keyboard view which highlights the key on a piano you are trying to tune, and the Sound Back which automatically plays a reference note at the pitch you are trying to tune. [Download - 808KB] iChartwork 2.0 (free) updates the preference pane that syncs avatar on iChat as well as Adium, and the artwork of the song playing in iTunes. Version 2.0 allows users to specify an avatar when iTunes is paused or stopped, and another when the current track does not have artwork. The software features automatic update detection, and updates avatar when artwork on iTunes changes. iChartwork 2.0 requires Mac OS X 10.3 or later. [Download - 68KB] Reunion Planner 6.4 ($60) is a tool for planning and coordinating family, high school, college, company or military reunions. Version 6.4 adds a new comments label for memory booklets, as well as MapQuest search for the directory. Reunion Planner features a complete address book, integrated mail merge, budget planner, mailing labels, and photo name badges. The application also includes built-in events, budget, tasks, letters, lodging, and sales modules. [Download - 11.2MB] Vocal Lab 2.2 ($15) helps you train to sing on key, listening while you sing and displaying the pitch of your voice on a graph in real time. The update is available as a Universal Binary, able to run natively on Apple's new Intel-based Macs. Vocal Lab can identify problem areas in your singing, and can also help improve intonation on various instruments. [Download - 614KB] MP3-Info CMM 1.4 (free) is a Contextual Menu Module designed for Mac OS X that displays information about MP3, AAC (iTunes), AIFF, and WAV files. The module displays audio duration, bitrate, and the MP3-Tags which contain information such as the artist name and track title. All information is made accessible directly from the Finder, negating the need to launch additional software for viewing. The update is available as a Universal Binary, which can run natively on Intel-based Macs. [Download - 536KB]
Apple technology-centric EchoStorm has been awarded a contract to participate in a U.S. Joint Forces Command Advanced Concept Technology Demonstration called Multisensor Aerospace-Ground Joint intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) Interoperability Coalition (MAJIIC) to explore new video intelligence delivery models. The company uses Apple's Xserve platform and QuickTime technology to help deliver video to frontline troops: "EchoStorm utilized a service-oriented architecture (SOA) to collect and distribute full-motion video (FMV) to Joint and Coalition forces. Using Apple Xserve G5, Xserve RAID, and QuickTime to deliver real-time video of combat surroundings, EchoStorm provided access to critical information that was previously unavailable."
Apple has acquired an "impressively equipped but never-used" data center in Newark, Californa for an estimated $45 million to $50 million. The San Jose Business Journal reports that the 107,000-square-foot facility, which was originally conceived for MCI WorldCom, is designed to house computing, data-storage and networking equipment, offering "Tier IV" amenities such redundancy and security. The reports says that Apple has also just signed deals for the entire 116,830-square-foot office complex at 10400-10450 Ridgeview Ct. in Cupertino--which includes about 56,315 square feet leased directly from property owner Grosvenor International and 60,515 subleased from IBM.
In brief: Stock market futures were up on Monday, helped by a published report in Barron's suggesting that Walt Disney may be purchased by Apple.... Apple is opening another retail store at Carrefour Laval in Montreal, Quebec, and is recruiting via the Monster.ca website.... Apple has also put out a call in the UK, looking for qualified individuals to work in its second retail store in Manchester.... SanDisk has announced that its Extreme III line of flash cards for professional digital cameras now offer 4GB ($600) and 8GB of Flash storage.... Iconkits.com today released its latest "for free" stock icon collection entitled "Aquality Smiley 1 Kit".... IT Enquirer today compared iWeb and Sandvox, reviewing the third-party application as well as Apple's implementation of easy-to-use website creation software.... Kensington has unveiled a variety of new accessories for iPods which include two new iPod shuffle products, a new Entertainment Dock for iPods, and iPod speakers.
Samsung today announced its fastest dual layered DVD recorder. The new SH-W162L supports 16X DVD re-writeable drive with 8X dual speed recording and features embedded LightScribe technology that lets users engrave labels, photos, and designs right onto the CD and DVD discs with no hassle at all. "The result is a professional look with no worries about labels falling off or sloppy marker smudges. The drive's label making software is pre-loaded with an array of designs and labels for users who choose not to create their own label. The new drive supports the recording of DVD+R media at 16X, DVD-R at 16X, DVD+RW at 8X and double layer DVD+R at 8X. It is shipping now for $70.
A new school district in Iowa is considering the purchase of iBooks from Apple as part of a new three-year laptop program. Decorahnews.com reports that every 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th grade student attending school at North Winneshiek may receive a free laptop as part of the proposal: "Technology coordinator Dick Dovenberg has presented the idea to the North Winneshiek School Board, which is promising a vote on the idea next month. The computers would be MacIntosh laptops that would be wireless Internet ready. Students could take home the laptops during the school year, but would return the laptops at the end of each school year." According to the report, Apple would charge the district $21,000 a year for three years and then offer an option to purchase the laptops for $1 each. The school district would reportedly use funds from its local option school sales tax fund to pay for the lease.
Zarra Studios today released an update to Simply Elegant Sales, its point-of-sale (POS) software for Mac OS X. The update is available as a Universal Binary to run natively on Intel-based Macs, offers iPhoto integration to link one or more images in a photo library with inventory products, and includes custom values to create custom fields for inventory items to easily identify each item. Users can create input values to query cashiers at the time of sale to track unique values such as serial numbers directly from the software. The upgrade is free to existing customers, and Simply Elegant Sales is available for $130 for the entry edition or $250 for the standard edition (system requirements were unavailable).
Zegari has launched a new line of luxury laptop cases. The sleek, modern "Minimalist" line claims to have "raised the bar for stylish, functional laptop cases by successfully combining luxurious yet simple design with smart, practical organizational features." The company says its “Minimalist” name reflects both the styling as well as the idea that it is not a back breaking “road warrior” bag to stuff with pounds of extra items, as people tend to do with larger bags. In addition to the protective laptop storage space, the “Minimalist” provides pockets for essential items, such as folders, magazines, boarding passes, PDA, MP3 player, cell phone, keys, and pens. It offers cushioned handles and breathable sides in the laptop area to better dissipate the heat form the laptop as well as both structural and foam padding. The "Minimalist", available for $285, features rich black leather and is availalbe with a choice of Espresso, Merlot, or Sage colors.
Samsung's forthcoming Z5 portable MP3 player was designed by one of the original iPod software designers. Looking to develop a player and software to rival Apple's iPod, consumer electronics giant Samsung turned to a little-known Silicon Valley software start-up, according to The New York Times: "The result of that partnership is Samsung's newest Z5 portable MP3 player, which will appear on store shelves March 5. The software inside the player was forged at Iventor Inc. by a small team of programmers led by Paul Mercer, 38, a veteran Apple Macintosh software designer. Samsung's decision to hire Mr. Mercer is significant because Apple, in designing the original iPod four years ago, turned to Pixo Inc., the company Mr. Mercer founded after he left Apple in 1994 to create software for hand-held devices." The Pixo software was used as the basis of the software for Apple's original iPod, according to the report. The new software reportedly features high-end transparency effects.
Apple this week at the PMA trade show in Orlando unveiled a significant update to Aperture, its professional photo editing program. Aperture 1.1 is due in March with may user-requested features--including native Intel support--and will be free to version 1.0 users, according to pdnonline. Aperture 1.1 will include updates RAW image processing, new RAW tools, signficant speed improvements RGB display, and improved support for Photoshop files. The update will be made available when Apple updates its suite of Pro applications, according to the report. "Changes to this version revolve first around the issue of raw processing.... Apple was able to massively enhance their raw processing engine, providing a level of raw quality they feel is equal to or superior to other systems. While they acknowledge that some users might prefer the default conversion of other systems, they've gone out of their way to bring new power to raw processing."
Adobe today announced Photoshop Elements 4.0 for the Mac, a new version of its digital photo editing software designed for consumers. Based on the industry-standard Photoshop platform, Elements offers basic digital photo editing tools; version 4 offers new tools such as the ability to quickly retouch specific areas and isolate objects from backgrounds, realistic skin tones, online ordering of digital prints, and nondestructive photo processing and fine-tuning of exposure and lighting using raw files. Other features include The Windows version was released last September. Elements 4, however will not be available as a Universal Binary due to time constraints, according to the company. The application is due in early March for Mac OS X 10.3 and Mac OS X 10.4 and is available for pre-oder for $90.
A new Microsoft project code-named Origami may help the company dethrone the iPod. The portable entertainment device, designed as more than just a music player, would help the company and its partners stem the growing influence of the iPod and Apple in the digital music and video industries. Origami involves various partners to build services and software for a new portable entertainment device, according to The Wall Street Journal. Though the project is styled after Microsoft's Tablet PC, the 'ulta-portable' PC-like device would be geared toward consumers, rather than business users. "Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates has been a huge promoter of the Tablet PC, which is geared more toward business users than consumers and hasn't sold in high volumes. The Origami project appears to be an extension of the Tablet PC into the consumer market." [registration required]
Adobe today announced users have downloaded over 100,000 copies of its Lightroom Public Beta, the all-new digital imaging solution that was introduced earlier this year. The company said that over 2,800 photographersare actively participating in the online beta discussions and that it has already begun to respond to the top feature requests in the forums. Released as a direct competitor to Apple's Aperture application, Lightroom Beta 2.0, available as a Universal Binary for compatibility with PowerPC and Intel-based Apple hardware, includes new features to streamline digital photography workflows. Adobe said it plans to provide a Windows beta later this year and has already received requests for it in the forums. Since its debut in mid-February, over 30,000 people have downloaded Lightroom Beta 2.0, according to the company.
Apple is preparing to launch a film download service that could launch as early as this week, according to a new report. Following the sale of its billionth song last week, the company will push its strategy to "network computing and entertainment products around the home so music and video can be wirelessly streamed from one device to another. Films downloaded on to an Apple computer from iTunes could be transferred through an Apple Airport wireless connection to a digital television or stored on a video iPod," according to The Business. "There is also talk that Apple is planning the launch of an Apple-branded hi-fi that will enable iPod users to dock their iPod music player into a device that will then turn the compact digital music player into a fully-fledged hi-fi that will enable them to share their music collection in the living room, the kitchen or at the beach."
Now AAPL Stock: 94.27 ( -0.72 )
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