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NTI Shadow v3 released
NewTech today announced the availability of Version 3 of its backup application: NTI Shadow v3 maintains a real-time, continuous backup of all changed files and includes an advanced scheduler module. It now adds support for optical media (including Blu-ray) as well as USB flash, mobile storage devices (micro drives), internal and external hard drives, NAS devices, and more. In addition to conveniently executing backup jobs transparently in the background, Shadow does not take up valuable PC resources that could slow system performance, according to the company. Version 3 includes custom file filtering for specific file types (audio, picture, video, and document), enabling users to further customize their backups. Users can also elect to save an unlimited number of revisions, a specific number of revisions (1-10) or no revisions to ensure that backups are always kept in sync with the original file.
Google music service?
Google may be nearing the launch of its own version of the iTunes Music Store. A new research report says that late last week, Google met with a group of music industry executives. While it was described as a private event as merely for "networking," research firm Caris & Company suspects that Google is getting ready to launch an online music service, according to Forbes. "The music industry is broadly unhappy with the fixed pricing and lack of subscription options at the market-leading iTunes Music Store and likely to support alternative services," wrote the analyst in a recent report. Forbes notes that the company has recently told analysts that it has plans to expand revenue opportunities by entering into media downloads and localized ad-search. The research firm also noted that Google has expanded the availability of its experimental local AdWords to all customers in the U.S., Canada and Britain, which will allow targeting ads based on the user's location when integrated with Google Maps. In addition, the report notes that Verizon has become an AdWords reseller, further enabling Google to expands its revenue base.
Dim3 1.5 released
Klink! Software today released dim3 1.5, its open-source 3D game "without content" designed specifically for mod makers and coders. Dim3 offers an easy way for non-programmers to create FPS, 3D adventure, 2D scrolling, and other games for Mac OS X. Version 1.5 marks the release of dim3 for Windows XP, and adds map improvements as well as doubling the maximum number of segments. The update also includes various interface changes, calls player spawn before map start events, determines story page counts dynamically, adds the ability to launch story elements from map open events, and incorporates numerous bug fixes. Version 1.5 includes changes to the engine, input, user-interface, scripting, animator, editor, demo, documentation, and source code. Dim3 is available for free, and requires Mac OS X 10.3.9 or later.
Exavio workflows with Macs
Exavio today announced that it will unveil new workflows NAB 2006 (Booth #SL585) that leverage the ExaMax 9000 I/O Accelerator to deliver increased performance and efficiency in existing complex storage environments. The presentation will include an uncompressed HD workflow for Apple PowerMac with Xsan, and a multi-stream PC-based 2K digital intermediate (DI) workflow demonstration running from an accelerated storage area network. Exavio claims that the ExaMax 9000 I/O Accelerator increases the performance of Apple's XServe RAID and Xsan systems by a factor of more than four times, enabling users to build large, multi-seat HD collaborative workflows with PowerMac Workstations and Final Cut Pro Studio.
Mac OS X 10.4.6 released
Apple has released Mac OS X 10.4.6, a software update recommended for all users that includes general operating system fixes, as well as specific fixes for (1) login and authentication in a variety of network environments; (2) file access and byte range locking with AFP file sharing; (3) network access when using proxy server automatic configuration files; (4) connecting to Cisco VPN servers using IP/Sec; (5) using Bluetooth wireless devices; (6) searching iWork '06 and Microsoft Office documents with Spotlight; (7) saving Word documents automatically when using a network home directory; (8) creating Automator workflows for iPhoto 6; (9) synchronizing contacts and calendars to .Mac and mobile phones; (10) mounting and unmounting iDisk volumes; (11) compatibility with third party applications and devices; and (12) previous standalone security updates. More detail is available on the Web from Apple's documentation. Mac OS X 10.4.6 update for Client versions are available both for Intel- (163MB) and PPC- (65MB)based Macs as well as as well as Mac OS X 10.4.6 Server (PPC-only, 92MB) and a combo update updates (Intel--191MB; PPC--140MB; Server--182MB).
iPod users turn mobile
iPod owners are more likely to listen to music on their mobile phones, according to a new survey. M:Metrics today released data from its February 2006 Benchmark survey that showed that owners of portable music devices -- especially owners of the Apple iPod -- are more than twice as likely than average mobile subscribers to use music and video applications on their mobile phone. In addition, owners of such devices, including Apple's popular iPod, express a willingness to pay for such services in the future. While just under 15 percent of mobile phone users own an iPod, they account for nearly 30 percent of those who reported listening to music on their mobile phones and 30 percent of those who watched video on their phone. Additionally, owners of portable music devices were almost three times more likely than the average mobile subscriber to transfer music from their computer to their mobile phone.
MovieLink VOD deal
Movielink today announced a major expansion of its broadband video-on-demand (VOD) service, enabling most users -- except Mac owners -- to buy movie downloads online in addition to renting them for 24 hours. Leaving Mac users out in the cold, Movielink said it has signed deals with major Hollywood studios to deliver movies from MGM, Paramount, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Twentieth Century Fox, Universal and Warner Bros., allowing owners of Windows PCs to create their own permanent digital library of films, which can be viewed on up to three computers, transferred to a DVD (in Windows Media format) for backup, and streamed around the home via home networking. Universal Studios' Academy Award-winning 'Brokeback Mountain' is the first major title to be released on Movielink day-and-date with its DVD launch on April 4, 2006, with Sony Pictures' Fun with Dick and Jane, starring Jim Carrey, to follow a week later as the next day-and-date release. Pricing for purchased movies starts at $8.99.
Apple bucks trust erosion
Bose, Dell, Sony, Panasonic, and Hewlett-Packard are the technology brands that score the highest with US consumers, while Apple and TiVo were among the only brands to achieve an increase in consumer trust, according to a new survey by Forrester Research. Microsoft along with Toshiba, Hitachi, Gateway, and LG were amonst the lowest-rated companies. Forrester also found that the results showed a disconnect between the "Apple Computer" brand and the company's popular iPod. Forrester found that iPod owners did not appear to identify with the "Apple Computer" brand, which it said could mitigate the so-called "halo effect", which has been cited to help drive Mac sales. Bose, which led all brands, was described as "a gem to be mined" with 10 million regular users today, but more than 17 million consumers who aspire to use the brand. The survey found that Americans' trust in consumer technology companies is eroding when looking at results from 2003 to 2005.
iTunes vs free video?
March Madness on Demand from CBS, which recently offered live video streams of games from the NCAA college basketball tournament, met with lavish success as users streamed the free content laced with ads onto their systems. The positive outcome is leading industry watchers to question whether consumers prefer free content with ads versus the more traditional pay-for-play strategy, such as the one employed by Apple's iTunes Music Store. iTunes charges $1.99 for music videos and shorts, and has met with unprecedented success in doing so. The CBS event resulted in over 1.3 million people signing up for the free service, who visited the site roughly five million times throughout the first three weeks of the NCAA tournament and viewed over 15 million live streams, according to CNNMoney.com.
Eovia Carrara 5.1
Eovia today released Carrara 5.1, a free update to its powerful 3D solution. Carrara 5.1 delivers enhanced stability and an array of compelling new capabilities, including a redesigned tree modeler which includes wind simulation and a revisited interface that makes it easier to create complex trees; it now splits the design process into distinct steps such as trunk, branches, leaves and foliage creation. Additionally, the new Universal Manipulator in the Carrara 5.1 Assemble Room improves workflow by enabling users to move, rotate and scale objects without ever having to change tools. Improving scene lighting abilities, version 5.1 can apply lens flare effects on distant lights such as the sun. Carrara 5.1 is $250, while the advanced Carrara 5.1 Pro available for $550. Upgrade pricing for owners of previous versions starts at $100, while v5.0 owners can download a free update.
iTunes Catalog 2
KavaSoft has released iTunes Catalog 2 for Mac OS X, a software solution that creates interactive web catalogs of your iTunes music library. It allows visitors to your website can browse your music collection, see the artwork for each album, and even play your music online. In addition, iTunes Catalog is also versatile artwork manager that can download artwork from Amazon.com and add it directly to your iTunes music, or even to your iPod. iTunes Catalog 2 creates web catalogs that look and work just like iTunes, but on the web. Your music collection can be browsed by genre, artist and album using the familiar iTunes column browser; it can also create web catalogs that look and work just like an iPod. Visitors can browse your music using the iPod interface, and even play music. Version 2 is a Universal application that requires Mac OS X 10.3.9 or later. The $25 application is available in English, French, German, Japanese, Italian and Dutch.
Aozora to replace PCs
Aozora Bank is planning to switch most of its 2,300 desktop computers to Macs, in a multi-year effort to replace the company's outdated systems. A third of Aozora's computers are already Macs, and within a few months the company expects roughly 90 percent of its systems will be Macs, according to a report from the Wall Street Journal. Aozora CTO Bill Chute says the company chose Macs because of due to Mac OS X, which has made the machines more functional and stable. Prior to Mac OS X, "it would have been impossible," because Macs did not have the reliability or the functionality that Aozora requires.
64GB flash drive unveiled
Kanguru Solutions today unveiled its Kanguru Flash Drive Max line of USB 2.0 Flash Drives, boasting capacities of up to 64GB with small form factors. The company also announced the Kanguru Flash Drive, offering up to 8GB of data in a USB 2.0 storage device roughly the size of a quarter. Both drives can transfer at 480Mbps while offering compatibility with Mac systems, Microsoft Windows, and Linux. The Flash Drive Max weighs 18g, is housed in an aluminum enclosure, and touts 10 years of data retention. The drive ships with a neck strap, USB extension cable, and necessary drivers alongside a CD containing the instruction manuals. Kanguru's 64GB Flash Drive Max is priced at $2,800 (shown at right), while the company's quarter-sized Flash Drive is priced from $33 (512MB). The 16GB model is $800. [pricing corrected]
SmartDisk NAS solutions
SmartDisk today introduced its new network storage drive that provides a cost-effective solution for consumers and small businesses who want to combine local drive simplicity with network attached storage (NAS) functions. The drive appears as a local drive on each computer in the network, making it a centralized multimedia storage center for small office/home office (SOHO). Supporting both Windows and Mac operating systems, the drive connects to any computer or network via Ethernet 10/100 LAN as well as USB 2.0. The SmartDisk NAS drive is easily configured using a standard web browser and for Mac environments supports Apple's Bonjour technology. Printers can be shared via the USB print server. The SmartDisk NAS drive is $280 for the 250GB version and $380 for the 400GB version. Both models will ship in early May.
RF remote for Front Row
Keyspan today announced its new "RF Remote for Front Row," a sleek and powerful RF remote control designed specifically for use with Apple's Front Row multimedia software. It uses a radio frequency (RF) signal that works through walls and furniture, which it says "provides greater flexibility in locating the Macintosh and video display that are used to display Front Row." In addition, RF is more convenient than infrared remotes that require line of sight to the Mac. The remote delivers a range of 60 feet or more (twice the distance of infrared remotes) and features a set of 9 buttons which allow a user to control Front Row software, eject a CD or DVD, put the Mac to sleep and wake it up. It will ship this week with a suggested price of $40.
Sims 2 Nightlife shipping
Aspyr Media today announced that The Sims 2 Nightlife for Mac has shipped to retail outlets nationwide. The Sims 2 Nightlife is the second expansion pack for The Sims 2, offering more than 125 new objects and items. The game takes Sims into the night to explore all of their favorite after-dark activities. Players can either head out and discover their love lives or have a night out with friends. The most recent addition to the game includes the new pleasure seeker aspiration allowing players to explore a life filled with unforgettable dates, endless nights of dancing and fine dining. "Take your Sims nightlife to new levels with more than 125 new objects including a DJ booth, poker table and all you need to design the ultimate nightclub and VIP lounge." The Sims 2 Nightlife requires Mac OS X 10.3.9 or later, and is priced at $35.
MacNN blog, Mac OS X
In brief: MacNN has posted a blog entry entitled "What Has Thirty Years of Apple Done For You?" to take stock of where users are, now that Apple is 30 years old.... Mac OS X turned five years old on March 24th, just prior to Apple's own celebration of 30 years serving its community of users.... An avid Mac user on Apple's discussion forums has discovered an apparent fix for PEAP wireless networking issues with Apple's MacBook Pro, updating the Airport card's firmware with a driver intended for Apple's Mac mini.... SmartLabs has announced the addition of Apple's former CEO Gil Amelio to the SmartLabs board of directors.... Audition Products is planning to unveil a headphone kit based on "Liberty Link" technology for iPod nano users, which will compete with similar products using Bluetooth wireless technology.
\"iPod-style\" player ad
A major Canadian newspaper has published an advertisement offering a free "iPod-style" player with the purchase of any computer system. MDG of Canada is touting the "iPod style personal audio & video player" with a 1.5-inch color display that can play compressed movies. The iPod clone can display e-books, play music, supports synchronized lyric display, offers an internal microphone recording function, and includes digital FM radio. The device also functions as a standard USB mass storage drive, includes a built-in lithium-ion battery, and powers off automatically. The ad shows a picture of the player, which looks remarkably similar to Apple's own iPod nano, but does not offer a brand name or storage capacity for the gadget. A MacNN reader wrote in to tell us that "I'm used to seeing these things from Korea, etc. but when they're advertised in major Canadian newspapers, I had to [do] a double-take..."
AppZapper 1.3 released
AppZapper.com today released AppZapper 1.3, an update to the application removal utility that can uninstall widgets, preference panes, and plug-ins in addition to standard applications via drag-and-drop. Simply dragging previously-installed applications to the trash does not remove extra preferences, caches, and other support files generated during the installation or launch of those applications. AppZapper 1.3 is designed to help clean up the leftover files. Version 1.3 introduces a new way to zap, dubbed "QuickZap." The added feature allows users to zap widgets, preference panes, and plug-ins using a simple gear menu. Removing widgets, preference panes, and system plug-ins prior to the update required navigating the system folders. AppZapper 1.3 is priced at $13, and requires Mac OS X 10.4 or later.
Apple's FileMaker subsidiary today announced that registration is now open for its FileMaker Developer Conference, which is scheduled for August 13-17th, 2006 in Orlando, Florida. This year's conference, themed "Bringing FileMaker Solutions to the Web," is expected to draw more than 1,200 corporate, educational, government, non-profit and independent FileMaker database developers and customers from more than 30 countries. The event will take place just after Apple's WWDC Conference, which is scheduled for August 7-11th in San Francisco. The FileMaker Conference will feature more than 60 sessions grouped into four tracks. "Conference speakers, leading FileMaker experts, will explore the breakthroughs in Web integration, ease-of-use, customized solution design and developer productivity using the award-winning FileMaker 8 line of database software," the company said.
AAPL June outlook
Ahead of Apple's March quarter earnings announcement, American Technology Research analyst Shaw Wu has reduced his estimates on the company's June quarter and said that Wall Street's expectations are still too high, which could put additional pressure on the stock in the near-term. The company's stock is down more than 25 percent from its highs in mid-$80s. In the June quarter, Apple will likely try to reduce inventories of PowerPC-based Macs and the iPod nano as the company preps for new announcements, according to Wu. Without changing his forecasts for the March quarter, Wu reduced June quarter estimates to $0.44 per share profit on $4.4 billion in revenue and sales of 8.5 million iPods. In addition, the analyst believes that Apple will guide conservatively for June quarter during its March quarter conference call, which is scheduled for April 19th.
MaxProtect for MacBook Pro
MaxUpgrades today began shipping MaxProtect, an impact resistant carrying sleeve for Apple's MacBook Pro 15-inch model. The case is constructed from "Visco-Elastic Memory Foam" and covers the entire notebook, providing padded protection on all sides from external impact or shock during daily usage. The sleeve features polyurethane foam for shock absorption, thick foam padding for the surface of the laptop, handles, a two-zipper pull apart design, and a protected zipper closure to prevent zippers from coming into contact with the enclosed notebook. The MaxProtect for Apple's 15-inch MacBook Pro is priced at $27 via www.maxupgrades.com.
Apple vs. music labels
Apple and the music labels are still divided over digital music pricing, pending upcoming negotiations over iTunes pricing later this year. A new report suggests that the lablels could pull their entire catalog from iTunes, if Apple CEO Steve Jobs takes the hard line on its one-price, $0.99 flat-fee for songs. The major music labels want to raise prices on popular songs and cut prices on less popular ones -- to match the pricing of CDs, although Jobs, who called the labels greedy last September, argues they already make more on sales of digital songs and any price increase could push consumers back toward piracy, although the labels deny such a charge. "After you cross that 99-cent psychological line with consumers, you're going to hurt sales," said Wayne Rosso, who headed the now-defunct Grokster file-swapping service and is currently working on a new service licensed by recording labels to sell downloads.
Apple goes to court again
Apple later this month will face another yet another day in court, as a California Court of Appeals has finally scheduled a hearing for an appeal on behalf of bloggers and online journalists who claim their sources should be protected from subpoenas. Represented by The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), Ogrady et. al are set to face off against Apple on April 20th in a hearing to decide whether a lower court erred when it refused to protect PowerPage publisher Jason O'Grady's communications and unpublished materials, according to IT News. The EFF will argue that a lower court judge erred when it said that "trade secret" law trumped consitutional protections. The lower-court allowed refused to offer protections against a subpoena to the PowerPage's ISP Nfox -- issued in December of 2004 -- that sought to uncover materials O'Grady obtained for articles about "Asteroid," according to report.
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