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Black Box v2 Firmware
M-Audio today released version 2 of its firmware update for the Black Box, its creative tool for guitarists that combines amp modeling, powerful beat-synced effects, guitar/mic preamps and drum tracks with an audio interface for computer-based recording. It brings additional effecs, more guitar simulations, and the ability for the Black Box to work as a Pro Tools M-Powered audio interface This new update increases the total number of guitar and bass amp emulations from 12 to 40 and features modeled versions of the Fender Deluxe Reverb, Fender Champ, Marshall JCM-800, Vox AC-15, Roland Jazz Chorus, Mesa Boogie Mark IIc, Diezel VH4, ENGL Powerball, Peavey 5150 MkII, Bogner Ecstasy, Budda Twinmaster, Matchless Chieftain, Acoustic 360, Ampeg SVT, Gallien-Krueger 800RB, SWR SM-500 and more. The firmware update is available for free, while the M-Audio Black Box is $330.
French \'iTunes\' law
A new French proposal that could become law tomorrow could change the way the Apple does business and could open up Apple's closed iTunes/iPod ecosystem. The Associated Press notes that the law could have a huge impact on the enire online music industry as it requires that companies to share DRM secrets to allow competitors to create compatible devices, eventually allowing other music services to offer music for the most popular music player; however, analysts and industry watchers say that Apple may just withdraw from the market than open up its hugely successful software/hardware system, according to the report: "French lawmakers are set to vote Tuesday on a draft law that could radically shake up Internet music sales by forcing companies like Apple, Microsoft and Sony to share their copy-protection technologies. The vote comes after the National Assembly, France's lower house, last week approved amendments to the online copyright bill that would break the exclusive link between Apple's market-leading iTunes Music Store and iPod players." In addition, the law would impost penalities for pirating music and/or movies and hackers to disable copy-protection schemes.
Quake 1.1 for Mactels
Fruitz of Dojo has recently updated the original first-person shooter Quake: Version 1.1 of Quake, available as a free update, offers compatibility with Intel-based Macs as well as a number of optimizations; it features features an optimized the software renderer for windowed modes, resizable Windowed modes (for both software and OpenGL renderer), PNG-based screenshots, threaded CDAudio and MP3/MP4 playback, and improved support for endian when using "glquake" cache files. The free update is 3.6MB in size and requires the shareware or full version of Quake 1, according to Inside Mac Games.
NetBeans for Intel Macs
Sun today announced a free preview version of enterprise-class Java application development tools for Apple's Mac OS X. This new Universal Binary application, the NetBeans Enterprise Pack 5.5, enables developers to quickly create advanced Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) applications that run on both PowerPC- and Intel-based Macintosh systems. The NetBeans Enterprise Pack 5.5 includes a preview version of the NetBeans 5.5 IDE, the open source development tool project sponsored by Sun, as well as new tools for developing the latest set of time-saving features for Enterprise SOA architects and programmers, including visual SOA design features for XML schema editing and Web Services Orchestration.
MacBook at Apple Store
In Brief: Apple's 20-inch PowerPC-based iMac G5 is no longer available from the online Apple Store, following the disappearance of the 17-inch version last month and declaring the model "EOL" in the UK last week.... MacBook Pro ship times from the Apple Store have improved dramatically from the 3-4 weeks earlier this month to 7-10 business days.... A report of the MacBook Pro's new MagSafe power adapter catching fire has drawn attention from several outlets.... Mozilla has released its first alpha of FireFox 2.0, the next generation browser built on the newest engine (note: "Alpha releases are not for general consumption and may crash, delete your bookmarks, your profile, your hard disk, etc.").... Apple's move to outsource its technical support to India has drawn fire from many loyal users.... An online forum and podcast has been released for Mac OS X widget developers, offering tutorials about how to properly develop a Dashboard Widget... Radio station KRLX out of Carleton College in Northfield, MN, which offers multiple podcasts of independently-produced programming, has its own artist-style podcast portal on the iTunes music store.
Michael Edwards, CEO of HealthWare Corporation and founder of HealthCare Communications today announced that iDental.ca is available for Canadian dental providers. The iDental.ca software includes interactive reporting, "SmartScheduling," and technical support with one free hour of remote training. iDental utilizes Caché, a multi-dimensional database used by the top ten hospitals in the U.S. for mission-critical data storage. Support for iTrans, Canada's electronic insurance claims service is in development, and will be available in the second half of this year. "Now, Mac dentists in Canada no longer need to feel like they've been left behind. iDental's documented ease of use is now available for all of North America. We are extremely proud to continue to be the easiest way for DentalMac users to move to OS X," Edwards stated.
TunePower for iPod video
Belkin today announced its new TunePower for iPod, a new black battery pack for Apple's popular music/video device that keeps users' videos and tunes playing even when the internal battery is drained. Offering up to six hours of additional video playtime, this rechargeable battery pack allows users to extend the playback time of the device. "The iPod video allows for approximately two hours of video viewing, which may not be enough to last until you reach your iPod dock. TunePower will give you this extra time so you can watch your videos, making it ideal for long flights, hikes, or for anytime you do not have access to an AC outlet." Two sleeves are included to fit the 30GB and 60GB iPod video devices. It also features a protective case design to prevent dirt, dust, or impact from damaging the connector and includes an AC adapter for simultaneous charging and playing; a low-level power indicator allows users to monitor the battery status. The TunePower for iPod video will ship in North America in late March 2006 for $80. (A white version is already available for older iPods.)
MacBook Pro problems
Owners of Apple's new MacBook Pro are experiencing whine/sound problems with their notebooks -- some of which may be traced to early production versions of the laptop, although there is some conflicting evidence from posters on Apple's support forum. Numerous users are reporting a sound like that of a cow "mooing" in the distance, which seems to emanate from a fan that can't seem to start. Other users report noises when adjusting screen brightness, and some users believe that serial numbers may link the defective models to manufacturing dates. One user recently posted photos of his "torched" MacBook Pro power connector, which allegedly burned up. The photos were removed at Apple's request from Flikr on Thursday, according to Cult of Mac.
Ding for Mac released
Southwest Airlines today released Ding for Mac users, a specially designed tool that brings live updates of southwest.com offers directly to users desktops. The program runs natively on both PowerPC and Intel-based Macs, and provides quick, easy access to southwest.com travel tools such as "online checkin" and flight status. Once installed, the software will produce an audible notification when new offers arrive from the airline. Additionally, users who download and install Ding for Mac or Windows between now and April 3rd, 2006 and who keep the software on the desktop for 30 days afterward will receive two "Rapid Rewards" credits. Ding requires Mac OS X 10.3.9 or later, and is available as a free download.
EPen&Inc has released PaperToolsPro, an application that allows students to use an iPod at any computer to take notes, cite sources, create bibliographies, organize notes for an outline or draft, and avoid plagiarism. Students can collect quotations, notes, and sources to create note cards, as well as save interpretations of quoted material to avoid plagiarism. The software can append new or previous in-text citations to note cards, query a database of quotations/notes to organize information, transfer query results to a word processing page to write a rough draft, and create citations. PaperToolsPro can also create a bibliography or works cited list in MLA, APA, ACS, CBE, AAAS and Chicago styles. PaperToolsPro is available for $55, and requires Mac OS X 10.3 or later, or Windows 9x/Me/2000/XP.
Any Apple-branded mobile phone device could affect Motorola's outlook, although it has parterned with Apple on iTunes. Forbes reports that one analyst believes that the US-handset maker may be vulnerable to a possible new "iPhone" from Apple, saying that such a device "could put a dent in" Motorola's profits." Despite the caution, however, Standard & Poor's Equity Research analyst Kenneth Leon maintained a "strong buy" Motorola, saying that he believes the company's current phone devices, including the second generation iTunes SLVR L7 phone, will boost sales in second half of 2006. "As the U.S. handset leader, Motorola may be vulnerable to any new handset trend but we believe it is ready to ship in size its own innovative products soon," said the analyst.
Aperture Library Spanner
Completedigitalphotography.com today released Aperture Library Spanner, a simple application that can increase the size of an Aperture Library by spanning it across multiple volumes. By default, Aperture's library is confined to a single volume and, once this is filled, denies users the ability to add more images to their library. Users who later decide to return to a single-volume library can easily undo the change from within Aperture itself. Completedigitalphotography.com notes that Apple does not formally endorse spanning an Aperture library to multiple drives, and spanning to an external drive can create some hassles if Aperture is launched without mounting the drive beforehand. Aperture Library Spanner is available for free (system requirements were unavailable).
Stapler 1.0 released
The Blue Technologies Group today released Stapler 1.0, designed as a blend of generic notepad, outliner, and to-do applications to combine the most important features of all three. Users can create multiple notepad entries stacked above one-another, with entry length ranging from single words to full-sized documents. Each outliner entry can be collapsed using a disclosure triangle, and may be rearranged via drag-and-drop. To-do list items feature a creation date, and can be marked as "done" with an accentuated color change. The application is designed as a light-weight utility for day-to-day use with low requirements for memory, CPU usage, and screen real estate. Stapler is a Mac OS X native application that takes advantage of the operating system's built-in features, such as Spotlight indexing, Rich Text formatting, and Quartz rendering. Stapler 1.0 is available for €8, and requires Mac OS X 10.4 or later.
Modul8 to ship in May
GarageCube today announced that it is set to complete version 2.5 of Modul8, the company's software for video-jockeys and video performers that allows real-time mixing and compositing. Modul8 2.5 includes a new rendering engine, native support for Intel-based Macs, CoreImage plugins, and FreeFrame plugins. The application also supports multi-projection capability, a mask system, real-time anti-aliasing filtering, and an improved module mechanism. Users can move, rotate, and scale original media in a fashion similar to using a simple text editor. Modul8 supports nearly all QuickTime codecs, flash animation, and various other image formats. Modul8 2.5 is priced at $360, is expected in May, and will be available as a free upgrade for registered users.
Flash memory prices drop
Slow sales of the iPod and more competition is forcing Samsung to drop prices on flash memory, according to the DigiTimes: "With weaker-than-expected iPod nano sales this year, Samsung has been trying to maintain control over its inventory levels by dumping excess stock with memory module makers, according to sources at downstream players. Samsung is pushing its products hardest with companies that it has close ties with, but other firms are receiving attractive quotes from the memory maker as well." The report says that competition from rival memory manufacturer SanDisk, who is selling memory below its cost, has been pushing NAND memory prices down even further. Meanwhile, Hynix--the third largest chip maker behind Samsung and Toshiba--believes that memory prices will drop by 25 percent as oversupply is causing a market glut.
Universities focus on iPod
Universities continue to look for innovative uses of the iPod on campus and at least one educator believes that its focus on the iPod helps keep students in college longer, according to The Associated Press. "At least 100 of the rural school's employees are turning iPods into education or research tools -- impressive for a college with only about 300 faculty. But it's more than simply making class lectures available -- a practice now routine at many colleges and even a few high schools. History professor Deborah Vess asks students to download 39 films to their video-capable iPods so she doesn't have to spend class time screening the movies. Psychology professor Noland White has found a new-age answer to office hours: a podcast of the week's most asked questions."
OnScreen DNA released
OnScreen Science has released OnScreen DNA, its interactive 3D visualization software designed help users understand the structure and workings of DNA. Designed primarily for high school and college biology teachers for use in classes or computer labs, OnScreen DNA can serve as a supplement to other activities or as a self-contained guided tutorial on DNA's double helix structure, its chemical components, and its biological function. It can also be used for projecting lecture hall demonstrations of DNA processes, paused and resumed at the teacher's command. Tutorial on-screen guides provide both background and step-by-step explanations of the simulated DNA processes. It also features on-screen tests for each activity can either display or save test results. OnScreen DNA ($200) runs on Mac OS X 10.3.9 or later as a Universal application. A free preview version offers the first few steps of the gene transcription study activity.
SanDisk takes on Apple
SanDisk believes it will be able to take on Apple with its new line of MP3 players that offer more features at a lower price point. The memory card maker says that it is targetting non-iTunes users and those who "who are concerned about the future of switching costs related to moving from Apple," according to a new report: "Sandisk's feature set is also greater than the iPod's, and includes voice recording, FM tuner and the ability to support a greater number of music subscription services, and it's aimed at an aggressive price point of at least $20 USD under the equivalent Apple product. He also said that on a recent secret shopping trip to Harvey Norman staff had admitted to a high return rate on iPods: 'Australians are blindly paying for Ipods, but my experience showed that a lot are being returned due to a problem with formats on pre-recorded libraries and, in particular, problems with WMA [Windows Media Audio].'"
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