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Rendercore supports Maya 7
Rendercore has announced the complete integration and support for the Mac OSX version of Maya 7.0 from Alias. Rendercore provides a high speed remote rendering service that accepts projects for CPU-intensive rendering. Rendercore's proprietary premier remote rendering solution "RenMan" allows all clients who are connected to the Internet to access Rendercore's sophisticated and secure renderfarm. This allows clients to manage jobs in progress through the intuitive interface by allowing automatic uploads of files for submission and monitoring of submitted jobs remotely and efficiently, from anywhere, anytime. "With prevalence of Mac OS X as an important part of creating photo-real imagery in the computer graphics industry, we worked diligently to include the Maya Mac OSX version shortly after its introduction," commented Brian Kim, Technical Director for Rendercore.
Apple pays Jobs $1
Apple's Steve Jobs was again paid $1 as salary for his efforts as the company's CEO, continuing a tradition that dates back several years. However, Jobs' net worth continues to grow, following a 10 million share award given to him by Apple in March 2003. According to a News.com report that draws from a new SEC filing on Monday, Jobs will own about 1.2 percent of Apple's outstanding shares when his shares fully vest later this month. The report notes that Chief Operating Officer Tim Cook was paid the same as the previous year -- just over $600,000 -- but also received a near 100 percent bonus (although he did not receive a bonus in 2004, Cook was given a $7.65 million in restricted stock that year). The report notes that the Board of Directors has urged the company to offer more cash bonuses, as it has found that its executives are underpaid, despite the large restricted stock grants in 2004.
NEC debuts HD-DVD
NEC today at the CeBIT exhibition in Hanover launched a wireless biometric security solution, demonstrated a recently developed optical drive that can write to HD-DVD disks, and announced a new series of professional LCD monitors. The wireless biometric security solution sees fingerprint biometrics being used to authenticate network access via an NEC laptop PC and an NEC 3G mobile phone, according to ComputerWeekly.com. NEC's HD-DVD is a new disk format that uses blue lasers to achieve a storage capacity of roughly three times that of a DVD, accommodating about 15GB of data on a single-sided HD-DVD, according to Digit Magazine. The NEC MultiSync 90-series of LCDS (shown at right) contain more than 25 new or improved features that produce crisper, clearer images and enable better control, connectivity, increased energy efficiency, and greater adjustment versatility.
Screen Protractor, Compass
Iconico today released Screen Protractor and Screen Compass for Mac OS X, two tools designed for on-screen measurement. Used together with Screen Calipers, the applications allow accurate measurement of distance, angles, area, radius, and circumference on a computer screen. The software floats above other applications and provides measurement capability to all existing applications. The Screen Measurement Pack can measure in pixels, inches, centimeters, points, "picas," and "twips." The latest version of the Screen Measurement Pack--which consists of Screen Protractor, Screen Compass, and Screen Calipers--requires Mac OS X 10.2 or later, comes with additional skins to change the look/feel of the interface, and is free to evaluate for an unlimited time. Each application is individually priced at $30.
Adobe XMP Toolkit 4.0
Adobe today announced the public beta of Adobe XMP Toolkit 4.0, a pre-release of the company's industry-standard file labeling technology. Based on open-source technology, the new beta toolkit contains Adobe XMP libraries that provide third-party software developers with the building blocks to develop optimized workflow products. The libraries help integrate metadata into design and publishing applications and systems. Adobe XMP offers a common method for capturing, sharing and leveraging valuable file information for more efficient job processing, workflow automation and data rights management processes. The beta, available for Apple's Xcode development environment, provides the new ability to consistently add metadata to popular image, document and video file formats. It also offers a centralized view of XMP data through Adobe Bridge, the navigational control center at the heart of Adobe's creative solutions. [updated]
Security Update 2006-002
SightSpeed on Intel Macs
SightSpeed today released SightSpeed 4.5, offering native compatibility with Apple's Intel-based Macs. The Universal Binary application provides real-time two-way video and voice communications over the internet, as well as enhanced privacy features. The software enables users to make free one-to-one video/voice calling, video mail/video blog recording, text messaging, and community calling. SightSpeed 4.5 requires Mac OS X 10.3.9 or later, and the basic service plan is available for free. The company also offers a pro service plan for $5/month that provides numerous additional features and does not impose a time limit on voice mail storage.
French law may open iTMS
France is trying to pass a law that would force Apple into allowing customers to download songs onto devices other than its own iPod digital media player, which may result in Apple closing the French store. Apple currently forbids iTunes users to transfer tracks purchased from its online store to other devices, and utilizes FairPlay Digital Rights Management (DRM) to enforce that policy. The draft law, which is expected to be voted in parliament on Thursday, would enable consumers to legally use software that converts digital content into any format, according to a report from Reuters. "It will force some proprietary systems to be opened up," said Christian Vanneste, a senior parliamentarian who helps guide law in France. "You have to be able to download content and play it on any device." Industry watchers say Apple may shut down its iTunes store in France if the law is enacted, to prevent distribution of its converted iTunes tracks outside of France.
iMac \"End Of Life,\" review
In brief: Apple has declared the 20-inch 2.1GHz PowerPC iMac "End Of Life" in the U.K., and said it will not take further orders for the system.... MacNN has reviewed the Feral Interactive Family Fun Pack 2 ($40), a game pack for Mac owners.... Ars Technica has published an introduction to IPTV technology, offering some history leading up to the service and information about how it works.... Final Cut Pro users and Gurus from around the world will gather in Las Vegas Wednesday, April 26th at the Rio Hotel's Brasilia Ball Room for the "5th Annual FCPUG SuperMeet," as part of NAB2006.... The iTunes Music Store has added HBO's popular series "The Sopranos" to its selection of video offerings.
BigFix for Intel Macs
BigFix has released a native Intel version of its software for its configuration management solutions for realtime visibility and control of computers across the distributed enterprise. The new BigFix client supports means that Apple Intel processor-based computers can be centrally managed using the same BigFix Agent and configuration management infrastructure that covers Apple's PowerPC-based Macs as well as Linux, Microsoft Windows, and Unix systems. The BigFix Enterprise Suite provides a policy-based, single-agent-point-of-control for a full range of ready-to-deploy networked endpoint management solutions that enable IT governance and security compliance, software lifecycle management and uninterrupted IT infrastructure operations. BigFix includes modules for compliance and reporting, configuration management, endpoint security/spyware, inventory/license management, network access control and quarantine, patch management, software distribution/deployment, and vulnerability management.
AppZapper 1.2 ($13) allows users to confidently remove most applications via drag-and-drop. Version 1.2 introduces the ability to zap widgets, preference panes, input managers, and most kinds of system plug-ins. The update Dutch localization, in addition to Chinese, French, Italian, Japanese, Polish, Russian, and German.
[Download - 1.11MB]
Xupport 3.2 ($20) is a multipurpose system utility for Mac OS X that provides features to configure hidden Mac OS and UNIX options to increase system security and performance. The application is also designed to maintain and backup Mac OS, with version 3.2 offering native compatibility for Intel-based Macs as a Universal Binary. The update prevents a crash when entering the admin password on Intel Macs, includes a new toolbar look in Tiger, and features improved logging technology. [Download - 2.6MB]
Photoshop Action Pack 2.0 (donationware) is a major update to the collection of Automator actions, designed for Mac-based photographers who prefer to automate the more complex aspects of the post-production workflow. The Photoshop Action Pack includes 71 original Automator Actions for Adobe Photoshop CS and CS2, with the update adding 22 new actions as well as an entirely new architecture which eliminates several shortcomings of the first release. Version 2 also includes a number of bug fixes, and many previous actions offer new features. [Download - 10.7MB]
Screen Saver Menu 1.1 ($5) introduces native support for Intel-based Macs to the application designed to make the launch, update, and screen lock settings easier to access. The update improves integration of the option-key, addresses an issue with the "lock screen" feature where the lock would release early, and fixes a bug related to multiple system screen saver preference files. Version 1.1 also provides fixes for several reliability and performance issues. [Download - 943KB]
Ishmael Beta 0.8.0 (free) synchronizes voice narration with still images to create video footage. The software uses pictures in iPhoto albums or PDF files as its source, and exports movies to QuickTime files or iPhoto. Movies can be edited with video editing applications such as iMovie or Final Cut. [Download - [license agreement]]
MyPublisher iPhoto plugin
MyPublisher today released a free iPhoto plug-in that will allow Mac users to create their albums in iPhoto but then order the finished PhotoBooks directly from MyPublisher. Until now, users were only able to order books directly from Apple. The company is also offering the first 5,000 Mac users who download the Plug-in a coupon for one free 20-page hardcover PhotoBook: "For years iPhoto customers have been asking if they could order directly from us instead of Apple. Recently we found that there is some customer dissatisfaction with the quality of the printing and binding in the books ordered from Apple and also with the turn-around and delivery times for their orders." The company said that it was able to offer 3-4 day delivery to most of Europe at a shipping cost that is about half of what Apple charges. Pricing is $30 for a Linen-cover hardcover 8.5" x11" book and $40 for a Leather-cover hardcover book (8.5" x 11").
eyePilot for colorblind
Tenebraex has released eyePilot, a new software solution designed to help colorblind users work more effectively with color-coded information and graphics. Designed as a "floating window" that is easily dragged-and-dropped over any web page, document or computer application, eyePilot offers tools for both colorblind and non-colorblind users, including 'Gray,' which isolates all instances of a single color and grays out all the other colors. 'Flash' allows users to flash-- as white or black--all instances of a color when any spot of that color is clicked on, while a similar tool flashes a specific color when a specifc color is chosen from a list. Users are also able to change the colors in an entire graphic by cycling through a set of substitutions. eyePilot also offers a pop-up magnifier to aid in selecting colors or examining the results and the ability to save/print color-altered images. It is available for Mac OS X 10.2 or later and costs $34 for a single-user license.
Puppy Games has announced its second retro style shooter, Titan Attacks. The game combines "the look and challenge of the retro era with modern physics and particle effects of a modern PC. The end result is a game that is familiar in style that plays smoothly and contains much more excitement than the original counterparts. Titan Attacks features over 100 levels of heart pounding action. Gain money by collecting bounties and bonuses and use them to upgrade your ship with better shields, advanced weaponry, faster movement, and more. Titan Attacks features very non-graphic violence, making it a safe choice for young adults." It is available now for $10.
iPod shipments on track
Apple's iPod sales should be strong in the March quarter, despite reports to contrary. Analyst firm Piper Jaffray cautioned that that Apple investors should be wary of recent supplier news suggesting a negative outlook for iPod sales and reiterated its "outperfom" rating on Apple stock with a price target of $103, according to Forbes. Last week Goldman Sachs warned that shipments for iPods may drop at least one million units in the first half of 2006, despite positive reports of strong iPod sales from other anlaysts. Piper Jaffray's Gene Munster said he also expects strong iPod sales: "Our preliminary analysis of iPod unit shipment data from NPD leads us to believe that Apple is on track to meet or slightly exceed our iPod unit assumptions and be primarily in line with Street numbers," wrote analyst Gene Munster in a research note today.
iTunes, QuickTime security
Apple has reported a new security vulnerability affecting iTunes and QuickTime, which could lead to code being run on the system, according PC Pro. "The integer overflow and heap-based buffer overflow vulnerability affects both the Mac OS X and Windows versions of QuickTime Player 7.0.3 and 7.0.4 and iTunesj 6.0.1 and 6.0.2. An attacker who successfully exploited the flaw would be able to run code in the context of the logged in user. Most Windows users have admin accounts for day to day use with much greater privileges than Mac users, whose user accounts have limited rights and permissions." The report says that Security company eEye Digital describes the flaw as "high" in terms of severity and that Apple has yet to issue any patches for the affected software. Both are listed on the security research firm's website: EEYEB-20060307a and EEYEB-20060307b. [updated: direct links to flaws added]
AAPL future looks bright
Analyst firm Citigroup today upgraded Apple's stock from hold to buy, despite difficulties with the company's product transitions. Citigroup said that Apple should begin beating earnings estimates again later in the year, and maintained its 12-month price target of $82, according to TheStreet.com. Citigroup expects Apple to unveil Intel-based iBooks as well as a new video iPod as early as April, and that Apple will complete its transition to Intel in August with a new dual-core Power Mac. "We believe the medium- to long-term story remains intact," Citigroup said. "In short, Apple remains one of the best ways to play the digitization of music, photos and video. While Vista may close the gap at the operating system level, Apple will maintain a lead with media management apps and on-line downloads." After contacting numerous U.S. Apple stores the firm discovered that almost none had the MacBook Pro in stock, and most still have waiting lists of between five and 50 people for the 1.83GHz model.
Canto debuts CanFlow
Canto today announced CanFlow, a new product aimed at building complete workflow solutions spanning creative, production and distribution processes around digital assets. CanFlow is based on an open-source workflow technology that includes a GUI-based workflow builder and an engine that manages the instances of the workflow templates. Workflow templates are created in XML format; the workflow engine uses MySQL as its database, and Canto said that the CanFlow-based solutions will ship with pre-configured workflow templates. Designed to be tightly integrated with Cumulus, Canto's DAM solution, it will offer a web-based interface, automatic notifications, a dashboard listing, and asset access. CanFlow is expected to ship in June 2006 for $9,000 (10-user license). The company also announced that it would build vertical market solutions--based on CanFlow and Canto's Cumulus--for the corporate, government, education and medical industries.
8GB Store \'n\' Go USB drive
Verbatim today announce the availability of its new 4GB and 8GB Store 'n' Go USB HD Drives. Designed for portability and style, the drives have a polymer enclosure to provide shock resistance to the hard disc inside. "With gently rounded corners, the slender case fits comfortably in the hand. When moving between different locations, the drive can be placed in its stylishly designed travel wallet and slipped into your pocket, purse, attache or backpack. Using the attached USB 2.0 cable, the hot-pluggable Store 'n' Go HD Drives can be easily moved from computer to computer without having to shut down or reboot the system. The USB cable conveniently swings out to make it easy to connect to your personal or guest computer and tucks away for convenience when not in use. When connected to a computer the blue center area of the drive lights up, showing the drive is connected and powered, and blinks when information is being transferred between drive and computer." The drives weight 1.8 oz and measure a 2.75 x 2.125 x 0.5 inches. They will ship later this month for $130 (4GB) and $200 (8GB).
Proloquo 1.1 released
AssistiveWare today released Proloquo 1.1, a free update to the multi-purpose and multilingual speech and communication solution for Mac OS X that provides a full-fledged Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) for people who cannot speak, a talking interface for people with visual impairments, speech feedback in any application while typing, and can read text aloud. Version 1.1 now converts text to audio files and to iPod-ready iTunes tracks, offers a quick voice access menu for changing voices and languages, and features updated voices from the Acapela Group Proloquo is available for $300 and includes high quality and/or High Density Acapela voices for one language. Additional voices are $120. Proloquo is available in English, French, and German and requires Mac OS X 10.3 or higher.
New SanDisk player
A USA Today interview with SanDisk CEO Eli Harari talks about the company's pending release of a new player to take on Apple in the flash player market. SanDisk, which is currently second with 10 percent marketshare, is trying to leverage its lower flash memory costs and its 150,000 retail locations: "This month, we're introducing a new player, the Sansa e200, and it's superb. We feel it's far better designed than Apple's Nano, which also uses flash memory instead of a hard drive to store the music. Our new Sansa is priced attractively and has many more features than the Nano. You can view pictures and videos on our unit. We have FM radio, voice recording, a slot to add extra memory from a card, and a removable battery. The Nano doesn't have those. You have to ship the unit back to Apple if you have a problem with the battery."
Apple's PowerSchool division has announced the Education Symposiums Spring Technology Series, which will focus on the Schools Interoperability Framework (SIF), a movement reaching nationwide prominence throughout K-12 education; it will feature Dr. Mark Silzer, founding member of the SIF Board, as the guest speaker. A charter member of the Schools Interoperability Framework Association (SIFA), PowerSchool is currently working with more than 200 customers, including schools, districts and state-level Departments of Education, to implement the open SIF Specification and realize the goal of data systems working together seamlessly so that educators and administrators have more time and resources to focus on the needs of students, according to PowerSchool. "PowerSchool's SIF agent provides schools smooth integration with other SIF-certified applications and makes real-time data sharing possible and efficient--including sharing with applications such as transportation, library automation, special education and food services.
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