Microsoft's effort to maintain its operating system's compatibility with older systems has resulted in a slower end product, according to one report. The software giant holds over 90 percent of the desktop operating system market in the U.S., with Windows running on over 330 million PCs worldwide. Several thousand engineers have worked to build and test Windows Vista, a complex project with 50 million lines of code that boasts a size increase of over 40 percent beyond Windows XP, according to the New York Times online. "Windows is now so big and onerous because of the size of its code base, the size of its ecosystem and its insistence on compatibility with the legacy hardware and software, that it just slows everything down," David B. Yoffie, a professor at the Harvard Business School said. "That's why a company like Apple has such an easier time of innovation."
TaskTime4 4.1.4 ($20) provides a method of tracking time spent on jobs for clients. The application can generate personalized invoices that can be sent via email, printed, and saved to disk. The update fixes a "migrating" notes problem with more than one project window open at the same time, adds a "Regular Items" menu button to the "Sessions" section, and offers an editable status menu. Version 4.1.4 also adds two options to set invoice font and size. [Download - 3.8MB] ReelBean 0.96 (free) is a media converter and player for Mac OS X offering many features that are only available in QuickTime Player to users of the Pro version. The software converts movies to play on video iPods, as well as AVI, MPEG-4, high definition MPEG-4 (H.264), 3GPP (for movies on mobile phones), digital video stream, image sequences, and QuickTime movies. Version 0.96 allows users to extract the audio for any regular movie that ReelBean plays and convert it to MP3, WAV, AAC, AIFF, or other formats. [Download - 1.4MB] DepreciMate 1.0 ($30) is an asset depreciation tool for Mac OS X to track depreciation using common methods and conventions in one application. DepreciMate features a multiple-document interface, as well as the ability to sort assets into groups. The application supports straight line, declining balance, 150 percent declining balance, double declining balance, sum of the year's digits, and more. Depreciation conventions consist of day, month, mid-month, quarter-year, half-year, and first of year. [Download - 880KB] Netflix Freak 2.4 ($15) helps users manage Netflix rental queues, offering many unique features not available on the Netflix website. The application supports rearranging queues via drag-and-drop or copy-and-paste, intelligent shuffling of rental queues while maintaining movie series order, and the ability to push movies to the top or bottom of a queue in one action. Netflix Freak also allows users to select all DVDs that belong to a series for easy rearrangement or deletion, print any or all queues with or without DVD images, and add notes to individual movies. [Download - 1.2MB] The Body Journal ($50) is a personal health-care system designed to help users provide the best health care possible for themselves and loved ones. The application serves as a family health record, offering easy access to updated health-related information via the internet. The Body Journal also allows users to set goals, record diet progress, and chart or analyze heart rate as well as blood sugar levels. [Download - [form]] Bloxter 1.3.0 ($20) is an arcade/puzzle game challenging players to drop colored blocks to form lines of three or more. The game offers more than 30 different variations ranging from simple, fun designs to arcade-like boards with alien monsters and bonuses. Version 1.3.0 introduces a new board called "Hectic." [Download - 2MB]
In brief: Intel has begun development on a new chip architecture to replace the circuitry lying beneath its entire x86 product line.... Apple's iPod Hi-Fi has received high marks from a Stereophile senior contributing editor, who says the device produces "glorious sound...." Piper Jaffray today maintained an "outperform" rating and $6 price target on Napster, expecting a shift in focus from subscriber additions to the company's new Napster.com initiative over the next few months.... BeLight Software today announced its "Switcher Contest" dedicated to Apple's 30th Anniversary.... Two Mac users today launched a video podcast dubbed "Northern Bytes" with content related to Macs, Apple, and technology.
Microsoft's recent decision to push back the release of Windows Vista has caused an uproar within the company's own ranks, spurring some employees to call for the removal of upper management and even requests to remove Steve Balmer, CEO of Microsoft. "We're missing the holiday sales market. Not only did we miss last year's opportunity, we're missing this year's opportunity, too," wrote an anonymous employee. "People need to be fired and moved out of Microsoft today. Where's the freakin' accountability?" With both sides quarrelling over who is to blame for the launch delay, those closest to the project say the release was a positive move. "If you had spent the last 5 years of your life grinding away to get this thing out the door, you would have realized the only thing worse than slipping the [launch] date, would have been to lay a turd in August. Those of us in the trenches see exactly what bugs are between us and shipping." A report from PC Pro notes that while bolstering security of the product has been cited as the reason for the delay, major problems are said to exist in other parts of the code. The Media Center (MCE) in particular is said to be "seriously flawed."
Worldlabel.com has released SVG Document Templates 1.0, its free label templates in Web browser form. The templates enable users to design and create labels in several graphic editors supporting SVG Scalable Vector Graphics -- a language for describing two-dimensional graphics and graphical applications in XML. The package includes templates for address, mailing, round, CD labels, DVD labels, and more. The templates are available for free, and were created using Inkscape.org -- a free open source graphical editor that strives to be SVG compliant. Additionally, SVG templates can be saved and opened for editing in the Openoffice.org Draw program.
Businessweek today unveiled its list of top 50 performing companies, with Apple taking the lead in first place. The magazine attributes Apple's success to booming iPod sales that "propelled" the company to the top, showing few signs of slowing down. Apple sold 32 million iPods in 2005, including 14 million during holiday quarter, and Apple's profits rocketed 216 percent in 2005 on a 66 percent leap in sales. "If Apple can extend its portable music dominance into the living room, its remarkable recovery might have far to run." Motorola placed number 13, while Microsoft holds the 34th position in the list.
Video Suite 1.0.1 ($5,000) is an add-on module that expands the functionality of Cumulus Enterprise 6.6 or later, designed to efficiently manage and distribute video assets. Video Suite can create records for each shot in a video which can be annotated with additional metadata, and supports streaming for viewing video files over the internet. Version 1.0.1 offers WMV support, automatic shot detection based on cuts/effects, the ability to create a secure video repository, and more. InterMapper 4.4.3 ($500 for 25 devices) is a free upgrade to the network monitoring application that continually tests the performance of networked equipment such as routers and switches, providing alerts when problems arise. The update is a Universal Binary, offering native compatibility with Intel-based Macs, and shows all devices on a particular server as a list. InterMapper 4.4.3 can also make SNMP 3 queries using MD5 or SHA authentication methods. [Download - [form]] ObjectiveCLIPS 1.7 (donationware) allows the creation of intelligent Cocoa applications with persistent object models and complex business rules. Out of the box, Apple gives users the ability to write Cocoa applications with dumb passive data models using CoreData. Version 1.7 includes a number of significant performance improvements along with a new execution trace feature that provides extensive logging of trace information during development. InDesign Image Catalog 3.0 ($20) automatically creates an InDesign document from all images within a specified folder. Version 3.0 includes better calculation of image box size to fill the page margins, live sub-folder image calculation, and the ability to disable page titles, image titles, or image frame borders. The update also offers the ability to use InDesign document presets for page creation, create customizable gap between images, and offers compatibility with InDesign CS2. Rad 2.1.0 ($150-200) updates the software for Black Cat Systems' series of nuclear radiation detectors that plug into any Mac or Windows computer using a standard serial port or USB connector to detect alpha, beta, gamma, and x-ray radiation. Designed for the GM-10 and GM-45 radiation detectors, the latest version of Rad includes automated uploading of data files via FTP, conversions to various measurement units, filtering of data to reduce statistical noise, and options to edit recorded data. [Download - 2MB]
Mojave Shade Software today announced Lifeboat, a new Mac OS X backup program. "Lifeboat is designed to simplify the backup process often neglected while maintaining the reliability expected on a Mac. Lifeboat offers features for every skill level. Backup and restore your files to any destination with incremental or full backups. Choose the files to backup in either of two ways: pick them directly or use a smart group to grab a set of files. Smart groups can be created just like a smart folder in finder and will automatically update as you add files to that set of files. With three ways to restore your files, Lifeboat makes sure nothing is lost if your computer goes down." The company also says that Lifeboat creates a human-readable digest at each backup location that you can use to locate each file and place it in its original location. It is available for $30 and runs on Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger.
Denmark may be the next country to try to counter Apple's dominance in the online music industry, if two of Europe's largest and most influential companies can get their way. The public lobbying effort follows the attention on a French DRM draft law that would force Apple to open up its FairPlay digital rights management (DRM) to ensure interoperability of iTunes songs with other music players. Apple called the law "state-sponsorted piracy," while US officials said that they oppose such legislation. Both Maersk and TDC, which operate their own online music services, are lobbying Denmark to open up the closed iPod/iTunes ecosystem. Ars Technica reports that Henrik Olesen, product manager at Maersk's Dansk Supermarked, told Danish-language Politiken.dk that interoperability would be a win-win situation."We would like to ask the politicians to follow the route they're taking in France, so that it becomes as easy as possible for the consumers to purchase music legally. The Danish Minister of Culture has reportedly promised to introduce new DRM legislation in 2007 to help ensure interoperability.
ChronoPhoto 1.4 is a digital photograph viewer for Mac OS X that can quickly view and print your digital photographs -- helping users select those you want to keep and get rid of the others. Version 1.4 has native support for JPEG and RAW files, including support for more than 206 cameras. The software supports large thumbnails (192 pixels), an instant full-screen slideshow, contact sheet printing, batch renaming of files, photo comparison/printing with Panorama, EXIF information, and more. The update also offers better color matching, and improved overall performance. ChronoPhoto 1.4 requires Mac OS X 10.2 or later and costs $20.
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Apple brings iTunes Movie Trailers app to Canada
After five years, Apple has expanded its iTunes Movie Trailers app for iOS to Canada. As of Saturday, the free app allows movie buffs to see HD movie trailers for new studio and independent features, and explore some other movie-related extras such as photos, behind-the-scenes footage, or clips from upcoming films. Users can save trailers for quick access, read reviews from RottenTomatoes.com within the app, use AirPlay to send them to an Apple TV, share trailers, and peruse the top movie charts. http://apple.co/1UUKtwr
Apple expands CloudKit API, provides web interface
On Friday, Apple notified developers that it was expanding a feature of CloudKit to allow for server-to-server web service requests. "In addition to providing a web interface for users to access the same data as your app, you can now easily read and write to the CloudKit public database from a server-side process or script with a server-to-server key," Apple said in its announcement. Previously, interaction with the CloudKit public database was limited to apps and web only. http://apple.co/20h1RwP
Remote S for Tesla Apple Watch app drives car out
Developer Allen Wong has created the Remote S for Tesla app, which can be used to remotely activate the Model S electric car via an Apple Watch, and drive it a short distance. Aside from providing data about the car and some basic function controls, the unofficial app uses the manufacturer's Summon command to allow the car to turn on, exit the garage, and park near to the user's location. The app is available to purchase from the App Store for $10. http://apple.co/1PprF4t
Seagate 3TB unreliability suit expands
The Seagate 3TB class-action hard drive lawsuit has been expanded to more devices. The expanded suit, filed today, now includes Seagate's Barracuda 3TB Hard Disk Drive, Desktop HDD 3TB, Backup Plus 3TB External Hard Disk Drive, GoFlex 3TB External Hard Disk Drive, or any other Seagate hard drive with model number ST3000DM001. The law firm, Hagens Berman, is seeking information from consumers such as time in service, purchase price, and the nature of any drive received in return from Seagate as a replacement for a failed unit. http://bit.ly/1Pc34Cq
BlackBerry Canada, Florida hit with layoffs
The BlackBerry campus has reportedly been wracked with layoffs. Sources familiar with the company's Waterloo office staffing claim that close to 35 percent of the local workforce has been laid off, with the deepest cuts being made in the BlackBerry 10 OS and hardware teams. Additionally, the state of Florida has been officially notified that the company's Sunrise facility will see 75 people fired. Enthusiast site Mobilesyrup puts the layoffs at around 1000 total. http://bit.ly/1Pc1Rep
Instagram tests multiple account support for iOS
Instagram is trialling support for multiple accounts in its iPhone app with a small number of users. The Facebook-owned photo sharing service confirmed the reports of the tests to TechCrunch, which will allow a single user to manage more than a single account within the app, transferring between two or three accounts with a few taps. It is unclear when the feature will roll out to the public, but it has previously tested it with the Android version of the app since November. http://tcrn.ch/1SPKEKh
Foxconn CEO declares Sharp deal near done
The Foxconn bid for Sharp is allegedly only waiting on specific details of the deal. Foxconn CEO Terry Gou has declared that his company has privileged negotiation rights for the Apple iPhone screen supplier, saying that "we have a consensus, the rest is a process ... I don't see a problem completing this process." Gou hopes the deal, worth up to $5.6 billion, will be formalized by the end of February. http://reut.rs/1SPEQjN