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MediaCentral, Magic Dice
MediaCentral 1.2.1 (free) is designed to turn a Mac into a home theater system with support for numerous audio, video and multimedia formats. Version 1.2.1 includes support for the new Apple Remote, as well as both PowerPC and Intel-based Macs. The update features improved MPEG2 video playback performance/efficiency, support for multiple audio tracks via the QuickTime plug-in, and various minor bug fixes.
[Download - [form]]
Magic Dice 1.0.2 ($10) is based on a popular dice game which consists of thirteen rounds, at the end of which the player with the highest score is the winner. The update improves usage log reporting for application-specific functions, and activates benchmark reporting on score display. Version 1.0.2 fixes an issue with displaying graphics when running under Rosetta on new Intel Macs, and repairs an issue in help searching when the application path contains an accent or any other option characters. [Download - 2.1MB]
iChatter 2.0 ($8) adds voices to iChat, enabling users to hear instant messages spoken aloud using Mac OS X's built-in text-to-speech technology. Version 2.0 offers native support for both Intel and PowerPC-based Macs, as well as the option to choose a different voice for each buddy. The application translates acronyms and emoticons into phrases, and other iChatter users will hear the voice you chose for yourself. [Download - 411KB]
SimpleChord 3.3 ($13) is a chord dictionary and composition tool that enables users to look up chords and create progressions. The update adds MusicXML support, allowing chord progressions to be opened in a multitude of other music applications that support the format. The software can export chord dictionaries or saved progressions, and supports the use of MIDI keyboards. [Download - 2.6MB]
MapMemo 2.5 ($20) organizes images, scans, photos, drawings, and other files on a map via drag-and-drop. Files are linked as aliases to the map, represented by red pins. Users can click on a pin to open the related file in its original application. Version 2.5 offers native support for Intel Macs, as well as full Spotlight search support for MapMemo documents. Organizing layers is easier with the ability to switch layers on and off individually, all at once, or all layers except the current layer. [Download - 2.6MB]
WinSwitch 3.2b (donationware) updates the replacement for Apple's Fast User Switching menu, bringing native support to Intel-based Macs as a Universal Binary. WinSwitch offers a range of options, including several menubar display options, access to "root" as well as other user accounts, and the ability to auto-launch applications, scripts or documents. The software is designed to closely match the performance and style of Apple's provided menu, without the bulk.
[Download - 1.4MB]
SyncupX 1.5.5 ($20) is a free update to the Spotlight-powered backup application that offers native support for Apple's Intel-based Macs. Version 1.5.5 also adds a new "archive in place" option and improves handling of symbolic links. SyncupX syncs files to external hard drives, network shares, and USB storage devices. The software can back up Spotlight's "saved searches," archive deleted items, exclude files, handle multiple backup sets, and includes support for one-click restore. [Download - 256KB]
ChronoSync 3.2.1 ($30) is a maintenance update to the automated synchronization and backup application that includes full Universal Binary support to run on Apple's new Intel-based Macs. Version 3.2.1 enhances volume mounting, file change detection, and multiple synchronization performance. The update also fixes several bugs, including problems relating to "Preserve Comments" preservation. [Download - 3.1MB]
Hangman Pro 2.0.7 ($25) is an educational, non-violent word-guessing game that features 70 categories of words. The game offers unlimited custom word lists, hinting, digitized sounds, speech, timed games, and a new photo feature. The update adds a new "Clear Info on New Game" preference that clears the information displayed about the previously guessed word or phrase when a new game starts. Version 2.0.7 also updates the information in the "Best Pictures," "Best Actors," and "Best Actresses" categories with the results of the latest Oscars telecast. [Download - 1.4MB]
Noise Buster 1.1 ($50) reduces both luminance and color noise on digital images without spoiling other aspects of the photos. The plug-in's window shows before and after images to instantly preview work while making it easy for users to tweak parameters. Clicking on the image switches between windows, and separate setting areas for luminance as well as chroma noise allow users to deal with each kind of noise in the most efficient way. The software works under image processing programs that support plugins, offering compatibility with Adobe Photoshop, Photoshop Elements, and others. [Download - 5.8MB]
Toybox Games and Macgamestore.com have released Toybox's Garden Dreams, the tenth game available from Toybox Games for the Macintosh in its partnership with Macgamestore.com. "Try your hand at this fresh adventure in extreme gardening! Profits are the only way to succeed and to do that you have to make your garden grow. Invest in new seeds, pest control and bigger and better hardware. The more you grow the more profits you sow. You'll meet some friends along the way to help maintain your garden. Is your thumb green enough to survive and make your Garden Dreams a reality?" It features 25 fun upgrades like sprinklers, crop dusters, rodents, and other garden dangers as well as five increasingly difficult Gardens to master, multiple plant types, and 10 dangerous enemies. Garden Dreams is available for $20 as a digital download.
ShutterBug 2.0 Beta
XtraLean Software today released the 2.0 Beta version of ShutterBug, its Web content pubilshing software. The Beta version features ShutterBug "Xtras" for easy insertion of Flash and QuickTime movies, as well as MP3s, thumbnail rollovers, contact forms, HTML snippets, and counters. The update features an improved user-interface, a theme manager, password protection, iPhoto integration, and FTP/SFTP support. The company also announced a $16 discount on the final release of ShutterBug 2.0 until its expected release date of March 24th. ShutterBug 2.0 Beta is priced at $50, and requires Mac OS X 10.3.9 or later. The upgrade will be free for existing users, and version 2.0 Beta supports both Intel and PowerPC-based Macs natively as a Universal Binary.
FileMaker MEC conference
FileMaker is planning to hold a conference session at the 2006 Microcomputers in Education Conference (MEC) taking place March 11-13th, and will feature K-12 solutions based on FileMaker Pro database software at the FileMaker exhibit. The conference session, entitled "Database Solutions in Education: Tricks to Make the Most of Your Education Solutions," is to be held between 3:15-4:15 p.m. on Sunday, March 12th, and will demonstrate key database capabilities that make it easy to share information. The two speakers, Marcus Silving of Waves In Motion and Rick Rohner from FileMaker, will use FileMaker Pro database technology to demonstrate how to create a dynamic database solution that uses new technologies to share data more productively, such as saving data into a PDF file and emailing it from within the database solution to colleagues. Visitors to the FileMaker booth (#10) will receive a CD that includes a free trial version of FileMaker Pro 8, a student assessment white paper, and the FileMaker Education Starter Kit that features a bundle of ready-to-use solutions for educators and administrators.
BlackCoat Work iPod jacket
Koyono today announced that its first made-for-iPod garment, the BlackCoat Work, is on sale via the company's website. First unveiled in mid-January, the BlackCoat Work is a light jacket made from water resistant stretch cotton, and includes integrated controls for Apple's iPod digital media players. The fabric interfaces which enable the embedded controls are made from ElekTex--a unique five-layer laminate of electrically conductive materials that transforms fabric into an electronic touchpad. Koyono's BlackCoat Work stretch cotton jacket will begin shipping May 15th for $180. The company also announced that a limited-edition version of the garment made from Nextec Flathead nylon with Epic waterproofing is slated for shipment on March 30th for $250.
Jobs worth $4.4 billion
Apple CEO Steve Jobs is worth about $4.4 billion, but that's only enough to place him No. 140 on Forbes' new list of the "The World's Riches People." Bill Gates sits atop the list with an estimated worth of $50 billion, while Warren Buffet is second with about $42 billion. Rival Dell's CEO, Michael Dell, is No. 12 with $17.1 billion. "Making a billion just isn't what it used to be. In our inaugural ranking of the world’s richest people 20 years ago, we uncovered some 140 billionaires. Just three years ago we found 476. This year the list is a record 793. They’re worth a combined $2.6 trillion, up 18% since last March. Their average net worth: $3.3 billion," according to the Forbes report.
MOTU ships UltraLite
MOTU is now shipping the UltraLite, a half rack-space, bus-powered FireWire audio interface that turns a laptop or desktop Power Mac, Intel Mac or PC into a mobile 24-bit, 96kHz recording studio with 10 inputs and 14 outputs. "Even with its compact, half-rack form factor, the UltraLite delivers the same innovative design, proven reliability and award-winning sound as our other high-end FireWire audio interfaces," said Jim Cooper, Director of Marketing at MOTU. Housed in sturdy and lightweight aluminum alloy, the UltraLite provides 2 mic/instrument inputs with preamps, 48V phantom power, unique three-way pad switch (-36, -18 and 0dB) and front-panel Digital Precision Trim knobs that provide 24dB of gain in 1dB increments for a total gain range of 60dB. The device includes the CueMix Console software, which can be used from a computer or from the UltraLite’s front-panel.
iPod sales, Graphisoft
In brief: Goldman Sachs today warned that shipments for iPods may drop at least one million units in the first half of 2006, even as American Technology Research suggested that iPod sales may be higher than expected, possibly reaching 8.8 million units for the quarter.... Graphisoft is sponsoring a new seminar series focused on sustainable design using the "virtual building" technology in its ArchiCAD BIM application.... The Take Control series has added "Take Control of Maintaining Your Mac" ($10) by Joe Kissell, an eBook written as a guide for maintaining a Mac.... Disney is planning to hold its first annual gathering under the leadership of CEO Robert Iger at its own Disneyland theme park in Anaheim, CA.... XFX Graphics has signed a licensing agreement to develop and deploy a range of NVIDIA GeForce-based Shader Model 3.0 graphics accelerators to upgrade Apple G4 Macs.
8X Dual Layer SuperDrives
FastMac has announced the availability of new slim line 8X Dual Layer SuperDrives. The drives do not require any software patch or other update for compatibility. They are 100 percent plug and play compatible with all versions of OS X and natively support burning directly through the Finder as well as through Apple’s iLife Suite (iTunes, iDVD, etc). The drives, available while supplies last, are available for $150 and include a 1-year warranty and 30 day money back guarantee; they are available for iMac G5s ($150), G3 PowerBooks (Pismo and Lombard), G4 PowerBooks (Titanium and Aluminum), G4 iBooks, Mac minis, and PowerMac G4 Cubes. All optical drive purchases also include a free copy of Mac OS 10.3 “Panther”. Drives for the Power Mac G4 Cube and Titanium PowerBooks (with DVD-ROM or CD-ROM read-only drive) are $200.
OWC lowers Neptune pricing
Other World Computing (OWC) today announced price reductions on its Neptune FireWire 400 hard drives. The Neptune 400 line of FireWire storage solutions offers the latest Oxford 911+ chipset, while providing quiet, fanless operation. OWC's 80GB 7200 RPM Neptune 400 drive with a 2MB data buffer is priced at $100, while the company's 160GB 7200 RPM model with an 8MB data buffer is available for $130. The 200GB 7200 RPM drive with an 8MB data buffer ships for $150, and the 250GB 7200 RPM unit with an 8MB data buffer sells for $160, previously priced at $170. OWC's 320GB 7200 RPM 8MB drive is available for $190 rather than $200, and the 400GB 7200 RPM 8MB drive is available for $280, down from $300. All OWC Neptune FireWire 400 drives ship with a FireWire cable, the Intech SpeedTools utility, Dantz Retrospect Express, and a one-year warranty.
Amazon, studios in talks
Amazon is talking with three Hollywood studios about creating a video, TV, and movie download service that will allow customers to burn content onto DVDs. The move will place Amazon into direct competition with Apple's own iTunes Music Store, which currently sells TV shows and short films for $1.99 each. Amazon is currently in advanced negotiations with Paramount Pictures, Universal Studios, and Warner Brothers, according to Reuters. Amazon is also in talks with the four largest music labels about starting a digital music service, which would thrust the online retailer into the digital music sector along with iTunes, Rhapsody, Napster, Yahoo, and others.
Magic Stones expansion
Winter Wolves, creators of the rpg/card game "Magic Stones", announced that it has released a new expansion pack for the game called The Ice Queen: "Your druid is summoned by the Ice Queen herself, the supreme ruler of the Frozen Lands. She wants you to retrieve a precious medallion that she lost in the recent battle against the Blood Orcs in the Wastelands. Many bandits are scavenging the area looking for valuable items, so you must be careful... In this last expansion you'll be able to collect 2 new avatars, the Golden Giant for the Life School of magic, and the Griffon for the Spirit School. You'll also face new formidable opponents like ghost spiders, ravage beasts, and so on, in a new quest that will have 2 different endings for a better re-playability." It also feautures numerous bug fixes and enhancement to the game itself. It runs on Mac OS X and is available for $25.
TrashMagic 1.0 released
Tri-Edre today released TrashMagic, a new protection tool for the trash contents that runs natively on both PowerPC and Intel-based Macs. The application enables users to recover lost data after the trash has been emptied, days or weeks afterward. TrashMagic automatically backup the contents of the trash to allow file recovery, and contains a "protection engine" that copies any file moved to the trash into cache. TrashMagic features include a menu to activate or deactivate protection, the ability to maintain data in the cache for a specified period of time, drag-and-drop recovery, and an option to automatically empty the trash. Trash Magic requires Mac OS X 10.3 or later, and is available for $50.
Transitive defense Rosetta
Transitive, the developer of the technology that lies beneath Apple's Rosetta software, defended the fact that certain key Mac applications--such as Adobe Photoshop--perform at sub-par levels in the eyes of some users. "If you use performance intensive applications, or if you are a professional user and you are going to use certain applications in a way that is computationally intensive, you will see some loss in performance. But we think that that's a relatively small percentage of the users, and a small percentage of the applications. For the vast majority of users, we think that Quick Transit delivers more than sufficient performance," said Bob Wiederhold, CEO of Transitive. Apple's new Intel-based Macs easily outperform their older siblings when running native Universal Binary applications, but in many cases fail to perform even as well as the older models when running non-Universal Binary applications such as Adobe Photoshop or Cinema 4D, according to Macworld UK.
Music labels, price fixing
A major name in class-action lawsuits has filed a complaint in the federal court, accusing major record labels of fixing prices for internet music downloads as well as CDs. San Diego attorney William Lerach's lawsuit claims that Sony BMG, Universal Music, Time Warner, Bertelsmann, and EMI fought together to keep the online music market from emerging, and then "conspired to fix and maintain" music prices once services like Apple's iTunes Music Store became inevitable, according to a report from the Red Herring. The class-action suit follows hot on the heels of a U.S. Department of Justice investigation into online music pricing, and New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer has initiated a similar probe. The suit alleges that the music labels "use their market power to coerce online music retailers to sign 'most favored nation' agreements that specify that the retailers must pay each of the defendant labels the same amount. By setting a wholesale price floor at $0.70 per song, defendants have fixed and maintained the price of online music at supracompetitive levels," the suit reads.
Strong iPod sales
Sales of Apple's iPod this quarter may be higher than expected, which could lead to an upside in the company's March quarter financials. The strong iPod sales--which could hit 8.8 million units this quarter--could help the company counter any weakness in Mac sales, according to a new analyst report. Analyst Shaw Wu of American Technology Research told clients that cuts in the pricing of the Shuffle and the new 1GB iPod nano have spurred sales of the popular MP3 player--especially in non-Apple channels. "In addition, our checks indicate that the new iPod Hi-Fi speaker system is seeing strong initial sales and the video iPod demand continues to be strong, well above seasonal trends and down modestly from the very high December quarter levels."
Vista won\'t support EFI
Apple yesterday confirmed that its new Intel-based Macs are unlikely to offer support for Windows Vista. At the Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco, Apple's senior software architect Cameron Esfahani explained that the new EFI architecture was only supported by the 64-bit version of Windows Vista and that Apple was only using 32-bit Intel chips in its new Macs. Silicon.com reports that while EFI can support older software and hardware, Apple has not included much of the "legacy" code in its EFI implementation. "Windows is a legacy OS," Esfahani said, to laughter and applause from the crowd. "We don't have legacy support." EFI (Extensible Firmware Interface) helps manage the startup process until the operating system can take over. In addition, the first versions of Windows Vista will not offer any support for the EFI architecture, according to APCMag.com. Users, however, have been somewhat successful in running Windows on Mac using a variety of emulators.
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