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iPod Hi-Fi scores high
Apple's recently-released iPod Hi-Fi speaker system, designed to complement its entire line of iPod digital media players, was dubbed "very impressive" by CNET.co.uk's Crave column, despite widespread disappointment surrounding its introduction. "We've been playing with the iPod Hi-Fi for a day now, and considering the price of the unit (£249), sound performance is very impressive." Apple "massively overstated" the Hi-Fi's capabilities by describing sound output as "audiophile quality," but it will impress casual listeners, according to the column. An Apple engineer talked about the design of the speaker enclosure and amplifier stage, which led Crave to believe that the system was designed specifically to replace the living-room or bedroom mini-system. "Judging from our cursory tests so far, it may have succeeded."
Mac mini weathers attacks
A university systems engineer who presented a "hack-my-Mac" contest closed down his own challenge on Tuesday, saying that even after 4,000 log-in attempts and two denial-of-service attacks, his Mac mini remained untouched. In a previous challenge, one attacker claimed he had breached security in less than 30 minutes, but later it was noted that this individual had an account on the machine. "This machine was not hacked from the outside just by being on the internet," Dave Schroeder, a senior systems engineer at the University of Wisconsin wrote. "It was hacked from within, by someone who was allowed to have a local account on the box." The professor set up a fully-patched Mac mini hosting a Web page on Monday, challenging attackers to breach security, according to InformationWeek. "It [left] people with the impression that a Mac OS X machine can be 'hacked' just by doing nothing more that being on the internet. That is patently false," Schroeder added.
Apple security czar?
On the heels of rising security concerns for Mac OS X, one columnist believes that Apple should hire an external consultant to help assess, respond to, and correct security issues that are publicized. Reviewing the recent Wisconsin and Sweden hacking challenges, BusinessWeek columnist Arik Hesseldahl says that Apple should considering hiring a "security czar--akin to other large companies such as IBM and Oracle--to maintain public confidence in its operating system: "This person would be a well-known computer security expert, ideally from outside Apple, who would wave the flag for all things related to Mac security, debunking myths, correcting the record, and providing a public face when issues crop up.
Intel Mac mini, media
Apple's new Intel-based Mac mini is getting more attention in the media, as members of the press continue to offer their thoughts about the small systems designed to lure potential switchers from other platforms. The Chicago Tribune has published an article describing the experience of using the latest Mac mini, which the columnist says is "great for making your own music, movies and visual art." Gamers and big-time business users are advised to steer clear, however, because most applications are aimed at the PC market and Mac versions usually come as "cobbled-together afterthoughts, if at all." Despite the pitfalls, many may be drawn to Apple's least-expensive models by the ease of setting up a home WiFi network, retrieving pictures from a digital camera, or the presence of Office--a near-necessity in the business realm.
USB-based REV autoloader
Iomega today introduced the Iomega REV Loader 280, a new desktop autoloader for small business backup and archive tasks. The device provides access to 280GB of raw storage, or 560GB compressed, managing up to eight removable 35 GB REV disks in a compact desktop form factor less than 7 x 5-inches. The Iomega REV Loader 280 connects to a server via its USB 2.0 interface, and ships bundled with a license for CA BrightStor ARCserve Backup for Windows that includes support for disaster recovery. The unit can operate reliably in dusty or dirty conditions where tape-based backup technologies could fail, and is faster than tape-based automation devices. REV disks deliver up to 25MB/sec data transfer rates, and offer random access capability. The Iomega REV Loader 280 desktop autoloader is slated for worldwide shipment in early April for between $1,000-1,500, while REV 35GB disks are available for $50 per disk in quantities of four.
Intel challenges Apple
Apple recently released its remote control that works with the company's Front Row software, and now Intel has challenged Apple to devise a remote with fewer buttons. Intel vice president Don MacDonald's gave his keynote on the digital home during the Intel Developer Conference, offering Apple some advice. Intel is developing a voice-activated remote control with no buttons for use with its Viiv home media center, according to Macworld UK. "We set the bar with no controls on a remote, we'd like to see someone else beat that," MacDonald quipped. The VP pointed out that Apple CEO Steve Jobs criticized companies for making complicated remote controls with too many buttons as he unveiled Apple's own remote, which now ships with Front Row.
Ashalii, APC Tracker
Ashalii 1.3 ($15) updates the challenging arcade puzzle game, offering a new background image for menu screens, correct behavior for the Quit button in registered software, and other minor improvements. Version 1.3 is the first version to be released for both Mac OS X and Windows, offering space backgrounds and fractal displays. Ashalii is set in a trap in outer space, crafted by aliens to capture unwary travelers.
[Download - 2.9MB]
APC Tracker 4.3 ($130) offers UPS monitoring for Mac OS X on Intel and PowerPC-based Macs. The update includes USB support with more detailed values available, better test mail dialog and options, improved support for long IP addresses, and a fix where the server application could fail if DNS was unavailable. The software connects to the APC Tracker Server and requires a connection to an APC UPS with USB support, an APC Network Management Card built-in (SNMP mode), or a connection to a Linux system running APCUPSd. [Download - [form]]
Synergy 2.6 (€5) is a small Cocoa application for Mac OS X 10.2 or later that puts previous track, next track, and play/pause buttons in the menubar to control iTunes. The software also provides users with visual feedback about the currently playing tune. The update is tested with iTunes 6.0.4, and introduces a bug fix where rating stars were not fully solid. [Download - 1.3MB]
Disclabel 3.1 ($30) is software for designing labels and packaging for CDs and DVDs, to further enhance direct-to-disc printing. Version 3.1 offers precise adjustment of the printed area for direct-to-disc printing, as well as various minor enhancements and bug fixes. Disclabel features the ability to import track lists from various Apple and third-party applications, can print to a wide array of label and paper types, will utilize LightScribe Direct Disc Labeling, and more. [Download - 8MB]
HDCrashReporter (free) looks at logs to discern whether an application crashed the last time it was run. Assuming a crash was detected, the application asks the user if they wish to submit the crash report. In addition to the basic crash report, HDCrashReporter also sends a filtered console log to display exactly what occurred before the crash. [Download - 48.2KB]
Vista resembles OS X
Microsoft's next generation operating system looks more and more like Mac OS X, according to Paul Thurrott's review of Windows Vista Build 5308, the latest iteration of the OS. Thurrott expresses some "misgivings" about Vista resembling Mac OS X. In a general observation Thurrott says the new build features Mac OS X-style translucent windows and applications. "But Vista's similarity with OS X goes well beyond window dressing. Certain applications, such as Calendar, Sidebar, and Photo Gallery, appear to be directly, ahem, influenced by similar applications in OS X." Acknowledging that Microsoft will be "eaten alive for the similarities," Thurrott also mentions the complexity of Microsoft's latest build, saying that Apple got it right by releasing just two versions of Mac OS X--one for desktops and one for servers. However, he concludes that Windows Vista is still Windows, however, "and that means you can be far more productive with Vista than is possible with OS X, especially if you're a heavy keyboard user like me."
OWC acquires PowerLogix
PowerLogix has announced Other World Computing (OWC) has secured the exclusive rights to all PowerLogix proprietary hardware designs and software code, as well as copyrights, logos, brand names, and web domains. The agreement, structured as a third-party asset purchase and a license to OWC, was negotiated among PowerLogix, OWC, and PowerLogix's secured banking partner. Terms were not disclosed. PowerLogix created third-party processor upgrades for the Mac market,
C/C++ Development Studio
Awmoo Software has released C/C++ Development Studio, a new of development tool for C/C++ programmers. The application features a C/C++ interpreter coupled with a user interface, as well as a plug-in specification designed to help developers save time while enabling them to write tools to manipulate any kind of data. The interpreter supports dynamically loadable libraries, while the user-interface is designed for interacting with various data types. Users can write small editors that are tightly integrated into AWMOO C/C++ Development studio to load/save/display 3D models and modify them using the algorithms being created, or execute C/C++ implementations of mathematical models over any kind of data such as biological or geographical models. C/C++ Development Studio is available for €130, and requires Mac OS X 10.3.9 or later.
Ultramobile PCs unveiled
Intel and Microsoft today announced the first three units developed around the ultramobile PC form factor, which both companies developed in a project known as Origami. The companies said Microsoft fine-tuned its Windows XP Tablet edition for the device style, while Intel focused on the hardware aspect, according to a report from ComputerWorld. "You can count on the continued partnership of Microsoft and Intel to bring together thousands of developers to work on this category," said Bill Mitchell, vice president of mobile platforms at Microsoft. Samsung Electronics, Asustek Computer, and a company tied to China's Founder Group showcased their ultramobile devices. The devices feature touch-screens, wireless 802.11 A/G networking, Bluetooth, and optionally support for 3G wireless networks.
OWC portable drives
Other World Computing (OWC) today announced price drops of up to $40 on the Mercury On-The-Go line of ultra-portable, pocket-sized combo FireWire+USB2.0 storage solutions. Designed for portability, the Mercury On-The-Go line offers the only 2.5-inch storage solution with up to 160GB capacity, either a 8MB or 16MB buffer, and a custom Oxford 911 chipset. The sleek acrylic case employs a proprietary shock isolation system for zero impact transfer to the drive mechanism. OWC says that it exclusively employs Seagate and Hitachi hard disk mechanisms. The On-The-Go drives weigh less than 12 ounces and are either bus powered or can use the included AC adapter. Each model also includes a carrying case and applicable cables. The drives are now available for $135 for 40GB/5400rpm ($5 drop), $165 for 60GB/5400rpm ($11 drop), $200 for 60GB/7200rpm, $180 for 80GB ($20 drop), $220 for 100GB/5400rpm/8MB ($10 drop), $235 for 100GB/5400rpm/16MB ($15 drop), $280 for 100GB/7200rpm/8MB ($20 drop), and $320 for 120GB/5400rpm/8MB ($40 drop).
Apple legal at it again
Apple's legal team has contacted the developer of Front Row Enabler and Mail Stamps, Andrew Escobar, claiming that he violated Apple's intellectual property rights. "Your use of Apple's trademarks and copyrighted materials violates Apple's intellectual property rights, which Apple has an affirmative obligation to protect. Apple therefore must insist that you cease use of Apple's trademarks and copyrighted images and that you stop offering the unauthorized downloads of Apple's Front Row software." Front Row Enabler allowed users to install Apple's Front Row software on Macs running Mac OS X 10.4.5 and later, while Mail Stamps allows use of full-size Panther-style toolbar items in Apple's Mail application. Escobar is complying with Apple's demands, both because he supports Apple's right to defend its intellectual property and because he doesn't want the situation to escalate further.
Ultra II Mobile flash
SanDisk today introduced the SanDisk Ultra II Mobile line of flash memory cards for multimedia-enabled mobile phones, boasting faster read and write speeds than standard flash memory cards, as well as longer warranty periods. Faster read/write speeds improve performance of the card for file transfer and play on personal computers, while also possibly reducing the energy consumption on the batteries of certain phones. The new flash memory cards are expected to accommodate performance requirements of future mobile phone models, according to SanDisk, which made the announcement at the CeBIT show in Hanover, Germany. The new line--which will be in mobile phone stores and other retailers this spring--consists of microSD, miniSD, and Memory Stick Pro Duo flash formats, and will be available starting at a capacity of 1GB. SanDisk Ultra II cards currently include the microSD 1GB ($90), miniSD 1GB ($80), and miniSD 2GB ($120) models. The Memory Stick Pro Duo cards come in capacities of 1GB ($100), 2GB ($180), and 4GB ($360, shown at right).
In brief: Micron Technology has said it will acquire Lexar Media--a flash memory maker--for roughly $688 million in stock, which will move its products into retail stores.... An avid Mac user has posted a tutorial on setting up and using keywords in iPhoto '06.... Bombia Design today released its latest icon kit at Iconkits.com, Lugo Base Kit, which includes 160 icons.... SpiderWorks has released the eBook version of "MacOSX Technology Guide to Spotlight" ($13) by Rich Morin and David Hill.... AudioBase.com today announced a half off grand opening sale, offering stock media catering to digital audio artists and music producers.... CitizenPod has presented the free 2006 SXSW clickguide for iPod owners that offers panels, bands, films, and night-time events.... SiK today announced that it is accepting pre-orders of lix for iPod ($20-25), an ultra-thin hard shell case available in Crystal (clear) or with high resolution, full-color designs.
Bare Bones updates Yojimbo
Bare Bones Software today released Yojimbo 1.1, an update to its new information organizer. Designed to help users organize a wide array of data, it offers multiple tools for searching, sorting, archiving, and retrieving information as well as multiple methods to easily store information. Version 1.1 offers a new "open link" button forone-click access to bookmark items, the ability to create new items via AppleScript for automating the import of information stored in other formats, and the ability to choose to create a bookmark or a web archive when dragging a web address to Yojimbo's Drop Dock. Yojimbo 1.1 requires Mac OS X 10.4.3 or later and is available free of charge to all registered Yojimbo customers. Pricing is $40 for individual licenses or $70 for a family/household license.
Apple tweaks podcasts
Apple has made changes to its podcast delivery service to enable restricted access to some iTunes podcasts, according to a new report by political radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh. After receiving requests to make his popular audio and video podcasts via iTunes, Limbaugh said that he has been working to Apple to achieve a solution to allow members of the (paid) Rush 24/7 service to access restricted content on iTunes: "There's no additional charge for the podcast service, but it's only available to members, and so having it downloadable via iTunes was not compatible with Apple's method of doing business. Well, that didn't stop us.... We have been working with the powers that be at Apple, and we have reached via technological advancement and software," according to a transcript on Limbaugh's website.
Tech support in India
As noted previously, Apple is working to setup a new tech support center in India. A new report says that Apple will hire as many as 1,500 people by the end of this year and is expected to have a total of 3,000 employees by the end of 2007 in its Bangalore facility. "Sources say the Bangalore facility is being set up for Apple by property developer RMZ Corp in its EcoSpace property on the outer ring road near Marathahalli." The report says that RMZ is developing a 150,000 square-foot facility in the first phase and another 150,000 square-foot in the second phase. The report says that the operations would begin within the next two months and that the decision to set up the facility in Bangalore was "taken after a rigorous examination of seven cities in India. The tech support centre is expected to be on the lines of the one that Dell has in India."
SiK debuts lix for iPod
SiK today announced that it is accepting pre-orders for lix for iPod, a patent pending ultra-thin hard shell case available in Crystal (clear) or with high resolution, full-color designs. "lix provides protection, style and versatility in an impossibly thin polycarbonate case. Engineered to precisely fit the geometry of your iPod, lix is virtually imperceptible to the touch. The two piece design offers seamless display and Click Wheel protection and makes putting your iPod in or taking it out of the case easy. Compatibility with virtually all iPod accessories means your iPod never needs to leave the safety of lix." SiK is currently accepting pre-orders for lix for iPod nano, iPod 5G (30GB) and iPod 5G (60GB) in Crystal ($20) or one of dozens of decorations ($25) Pre-orders are expected to ship by early May 2006.
Digital Alarm Clock
Digital Alarm Clock 2.5 ($20) is the latest version of the Mac OS X desktop productivity application. This update features Mac OS X Universal integration and a bonus Digital Clock screensaver. Version 2.6 features digital and analog chimes and an option to launch any application or file. Alarms can also launch iTunes to play tracks and playlists. It is available in English and French and is a free upgrade. [3.0MB]
MailTags 1.2 ($20) brings native support for Intel Macs as well as links Mail messages with iCal To Do items, providing interapplication communication to keep your To Dos and Mail Message in sync and up-to-date. "With the iCal link, information in one app is readily updated in the other, keeping the tasks closely linked to original messages." MailTags is a plug-in for Apple's Mail.app 2.0 (bundled with Mac OS X 10.4) that enables you to go way beyond folder filing for organizing mail by enabling metadata tagging. [2.0MB]
WDAMMG 5.0 ($25) is a personal finance manager loosely based on the principles of double entry accounting. It can handle multiple currencies features a double-entry "for-the-rest-of-us" approach. As the sucessor to WhereDidAllMyMoneyGo?, it sports an interface that was rewritten from the ground up using Apples latest development tools. WDAMMG is localized in English and Dutch and requires Mac OX 10.3 or up. [3.6MB]
Time Machine 1.0 ($30) is an all-new employee time management software solution. Leveraging the popular MySQL database, Time Machine can be configured as a stand-alone, walk up time clock station, or a per workstation, multi-user time capture utility. Time Machine features support for weekly and bi-weekly pay periods, as well as separate, secure logins for each employee (with user-definable access levels). [form]
Application Wizard 1.6 ($16) allows uses to open, quit, show and hide single applications or groups of applications, open applications automatically at startup, force applications to open using Rosetta or in Classic, force applications to quit, and quit background-only applications. Users can also navigate volumes to open any enclosed item, check system memory usage, view uptime, start and stop Classic, quit, launch or relaunch the Finder, and more. Application Wizard is Universal Binary and runs in English, Japanese, German, Dutch, French, Spanish and Italian. [2.3MB]
Stock Portfolio 2 ($26) is a major update to the stock tracking application. Version 2 offers a number of improvements to storing, graphing and printing details of stocks and shares. It allows tracking of stocks and shares on both the US and UK markets, seamlessly handling currency conversion. It supports tracking of stock using a general "watch list" as well as more details via personal portfolio with comprehensive reporting and data export options. It requires Mac OS X 10.3 or later. [2.6MB]
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