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The Sims 2 for Intel Macs
Aspyr today added native Intel support for The Sims 2, with the release of its latest game patch. Released on Wednesday, the patch will update any previous version of The Sims 2 to version 1.0 Rev D, delivering Universal support for Sims 2 and fixes for several minor issues. The free update fixes a problem rotating Sims with the mouse in Create-A-Sim mode; prevents The Sims 2 and Body Shop from running at the same time; adds the "Optimized Rendering" option to non-English preferences dialogs; fixes a crash on quit under OS/X 10.4 with certain NVIDIA adapters; and prevents selecting a window size equal to or larger than the screen size in Windowing mode. The full version, which runs on Mac OS X 10.3 or later, is available for $45.
New vehicle iPod adapters
Directed Electronics today launched four new IP-Port iPod adapters that allow users to listen to their iPod through the stock radio in their vehicles. Initially available for Ford, GM, Honda and Toyota vehicles, the device operates through the stock radio's CD Changer port using the CD Changer controls for song up/down, playlist/disc select, shuffle, and other functions. The Auto Charge feature charges the iPod battery, and stops automatically after one hour of non-use. IP-Port adapters for VW will be available in the near future, according to Directed Electronics, and the Directed IP-Port adapters start at $160.
MacNN review, Beatles
In brief: MacNN has reviewed "Design Basics for Creative Results, 2nd Edition" ($27) by How Design Books.... The Beatles are preparing to release their tracks via digital music services, with label Apple Corps remastering their catalogue to improve the sound.... Textco BioSoftware today announced that it is offering incentives to molecular biologists for moving to Gene Construction Kit (GCK), which supports Mac OS X 10.4.... The British music trade organization BPI announced that UK consumers purchased a record 27.9 million artist albums in the first three months of 2006 -- up almost 1.5 percent.... Digital Lifestyle Outfitters (DLO) today announced it is shipping the DLO HomeDock Deluxe Home Entertainment Dock for iPod ($150, shown at right) with On-Screen Navigation.
Digital Beatles downloads
The Beatles are preparing to release their tracks via digital music services, with label Apple Corps remastering their catalogue to improve the sound. Neil Aspinall, head of Apple Corps has said the label is assembling digital booklets to accompany the downloads. "I think it would be wrong to offer downloads of the old masters when I am making new masters. It would be better to wait and try to do them both simultaneously so that you then get the publicity of the new masters and the downloading, rather than just doing it ad hoc," Aspinall said. The living Beatles have refrained from releasing their tracks via online services thus far, but finally making them available for digital download may be a pivotal moment for legitimate services, according to Macworld UK.
BMW\'s new iPod kit
BMW today announced the debut of a new iPod interface that will enable tighter integration of the iPod for the newest generation of BMW models, according Leftlane News. The new system provides direct access to playlists, artists, albums, podcasts, and genre via the car's interface. The new BMW Interface for iPod will be available for owners of the new BMW 3-, 5-, 6-, and 7-Series. It will also be available for the new M5 Sedan and M6 Coupe. The new Interface is compatible with all iPods with a dock connector, including the iPod nano and the fifth generation iPod. The BMW iPod Interfaces integrate the iPod through a direct connection in the glovebox.
HomeDock Deluxe for iPod
Digital Lifestyle Outfitters (DLO) today announced it is now shipping the DLO HomeDock Deluxe Home Entertainment Dock for iPod with On-Screen Navigation. The HomeDock Deluxe lets users view and select their iPod's music on a television screen using the included 18-button remote control that navigates through the iPod's music, videos and photos. The company says the new device adds a new twist to the iPod by displaying music content onto a television screen. The remote allows users to control over 14 playback functions via an original, customizable interface. Song information is large and easy to read from anywhere in the room, according to DLO. The HomeDock Deluxe has two distinct modes: On-Screen Navigation Mode (for music interface on a TV) and iPod Mode (to play videos or photo slideshows on a TV directly from the iPod).
Retail PC sales grow
Retail sales data show that PC manufacturers experienced strong year-over-year growth during the first quarter of this year, according to new U.S. retail sales data. However, one analyst says that Apple's growth, which may be flat year-over-year, has been limited by its transition to Intel-based processors, which the company announced last June and began in January. CNNMoney.com reports that "while that strong growth may imply that computer manufacturers are on track to continue that growth the rest of the year, it remains to be seen whether Microsoft's delay of the consumer version of its highly anticipated Windows Vista operating system will derail that growth, analysts say." The data, which does not include direct, internet or corporate sales, shows that No. 2 PC maker Hewlett Packard sold about 605,000 PCs at U.S. retail outlets in the first quarter, a 28.5 percent increase from the same quarter a year ago.
UK digital music surge
While music sales continue to surge in the UK, labels can rest assured that CDs are not going away anytime soon. The British music trade organization BPI announced that UK consumers purchased a record 27.9 million artist albums in the first three months of 2006-- up almost 1.5 percent. BPI also noted that Europe, especially the UK, was rapidly accepting the new digital formats, as evidenced by the first the download-only number one single last week. "With the announcement of the first download-only number one single last week and the inclusion of downloads in the albums chart this week, the UK record industry can declare that the first part of its mission is now complete," BPI chairman Peter Jamieson. The figures show that in the first three months of 2006, sales of digital downloads were 152% up on the same period in 2005.
Simple Web Page Monitor 1.1 ($5) enables users to monitor a Web page, and notifies the user when any change is made. The software is particularly useful for checking a site's status by testing a static page. Simple Web Page Monitor 1.1 can test a page at a customizable interval, and provides notification via a simple beep or email. Version 1.1 adds the ability to send a text message to a mobile phone.
[Download - 1.5MB]
InstantGallery 1.0 ($15) a tool for quickly creating a Web-based gallery from a folder full of images. The software allows users to choose thumbnail and image sizes, watermarking, themes, thumbnail cropping and more. Users can add photocasts to galleries enabling visitors to subscribe to them in iPhoto '06, or their preferred RSS reader. [Download - 682KB]
PhotoLight 2.5 ($70) is a plug-in for numerous graphical programs, such as Adobe Photoshop, enabling users to add natural light sources to any image. The plug-in boasts more than 500 realistic effects that consist of glows, fog, and many light or shadows cast through numerous kinds of shapes such as windows and grids. Photo-Light handles displacement of light according to the background, diffusing it through casts and following the underlying object.
SuDoKu Master 1.0 ($10) is a SuDoKu game with some additional functionality over other SuDoKu games, such as support for hints on all editable fields and the ability to save or load games. Users can print or export the current puzzle and solution, and check solved puzzles. The game offers beginner, advanced, and master levels that can be changed to create custom difficulty levels. [Download - 1.3MB]
FolderBrander 2.0 ($10) is a Universal Binary version of the folder icon utility. The application allows customization of folder icons for easy identification, which can prove useful in the Finder sidebar as well as the Dock. Users choose a base icon and type in a short text label. Two sliders rotate and skew the text to match the orientation and perspective of the base icon. [Download - 1.2MB]
DEVON updates apps
DEVONtechnologies today released maintenance updates for DEVONthink Professional and DEVONagent, and is offering Universal Binaries of DEVONthink Personal as well as DEVONnote. DEVONthink Personal 1.9.7 and DEVONnote 1.9 inherit most recent enhancements from DEVONthink Professional, including simpler and easier-to-use import and index options, a redesigned search window, and revised and simplified preferences panels. DEVONthink Personal can search for an item by labels, lock status, or state, and recognizes Finder comments when indexing files. The reliability of synchronization has been improved, and overall usability is enhanced by adding many interface details that make moving, converting, merging, and exporting files easier. Both applications are also faster due to improvements to the database core. DEVONthink ($80 for Pro, $40 for Personal), DEVONagent ($50) and DEVONnote ($20) require Mac OS X 10.3.9 or later.
New Apple serial numbers
Apple is preparing to utilize a revamped serial number format for the company's hardware products next month which it says will offer better support for continued growth and scalability. All "finished goods" under the new format will obtain a serial number that consists of 18 numeric digits, versus Apple's current 11-character alphanumeric scheme. AppleCare Protection Plans and AppleCare Support IDs will be covered by the new scheme, although software products will still be excluded. Apple began informing its service partners of the modification in January, requesting that they update their own in-house systems to be ready when Apple begins using the new format in May. Apple is also planning to roll out new subassembly serial numbers for components such as logic boards, optical drives, and wireless kits.
EazyDraw 2.0 released
Dekorra has released EazyDraw 2.0, an update to its easy-to-use vector drawing application for Mac OS X. Version 2.0 is a Universal Binary providing native Intel support as well optimized performance on all Macs. It also adds capability to Edit PDF content, French and Japanese local language support, several new wall and ribbon drawing tools, LinkBack support and many other improvements and new features. Several enhancements are provided for the popular Classic MacDraw import capability, including support for Japanese Claris Draw files. It also adds a new French localization (except for help files) and the ability to save an embedded preview with EPS exported graphic content (the preview is the DOS TIFF bitmap form, the most universally supported, according tothe company). It requires Mac OS X 10.4 or later and is available for $20 (9-month trial license) or for $95 (unlimited version).
Portfolio 8 updates
Extensis today released two free updates to Portfolio 8, its Digital Asset Management (DAM) solution for creative professionals. These updates include two file format support filters, which add support for Microsoft Office allowing users to catalog, find and view files from Microsoft Word and Excel on the Windows platform. Additionally, Extensis has added support for 22 new camera RAW formats on both Mac and Windows versions of Portfolio, including Canon (5D/1D Mark II n), Nikon (D50, D70s, D200), Olympus (E500, SP310, SP350, and SP500UZ), Epson (R-D1), Konica-Minolta (Maxxum 5D/A200), Pentax (*ist DL DL/DS2), Sony (DSC-R1), and Leaf cameras. The Portfolio RAW Filter is powered by technology from Bibble Labs. The free RAW Filter and MS Office updates for Portfolio are immediately available via download. Portfolio 8 is available for $200.
WMV-9 Component 2.0
Popwire is proud to announce a major update to the WMV-9 Component for Mac OS X and QuickTime to bring compatibility with Intel-based Macs. With the WMV-9 Component 2.0, in QuickTime you can now import, view and export Windows Media content to any format supported by QuickTime 6.5.2 or later. "This means that Popwire now offers the first Windows Media plugin for Quicktime with import/export functionality, supporting both Power PC and Intel based Macintosh computers. And with this also a free way for everyone, regardless of what model of Macintosh they are running Mac OS X on, to watch Windows Media content with QuickTime" said Anders Wannfors, CTO at Popwire. The unlicensed version of WMV Component 2 lets you import and view Windows Media content without any limitations, while export functionality is available for $50.
In brief: Dosch Design today released Dosch 3D: Bathroom & Spa, Dosch 3D: Medical Equipment, Dosch Movie-Clips: Architecture & Design, Dosch Movie-Clips: HD Backgrounds, and new USB hard-drive bundles.... Nova Media has released sync-repair, a small program designed to return iSync 2.2 to its original state after hacks have been applied.... Ars Technica has published a review of eight inexpensive, flash-based digital audio players priced under $135.... The National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (N.A.T.A.S) has unveiled the nominees for the first Emmy Award ever bestowed to original entertainment programming created specifically for iPods, mobile phones, PDAs and computers.... Aladdin Knowledge Systems today announced that its Aladdin HASP hardware-based software protection and licensing solutions now offer support for Universal Binary applications.
Growing notebook sales
In a research note to clients, Bear Sterns analysts commented on the implications for major players in IDC's recently-released forecast for the notebook market, which include Apple and Hewlett-Packard, among others. IDC predicts a 20 percent CAGR (from 2005-2010) for consumer notebooks, versus 15 percent for corporate, which the firm believes will benefit HP inparticular due to its higher-margin consumer/retail notebook business, according to the Consumer Electronics Stock Blog. Apple and Gateway will also benefit from the shift, to a lesser extent. The note adds that "thin and light" laptops with 12 to 15-inch screens weighing more than four pounds ruled the category at around 85 percent of the worldwide mix in 2005. Apple's new 15-inch MacBook Pro with an Intel processor weighs 5.6 pounds, boasting a thickness of one inch.
LP 8.5, Chart FX go beta
OmniPilot Software today announced that Lasso Professional (LP) 8.5 and Chart FX for Lasso are now in public beta, and that Lasso developers can sign up to participate in the testing phase. Chart FX for Lasso allows developers to add graphically dynamic charts to Web applications, while Lasso Professional 8.5 attempts to take Lasso beyond Web scripting. The Lasso Professional update is a Universal Binary, offering native support for both PowerPC and Intel-based Macs. The beta release includes support for Lasso Ajax tags; numerous native data sources including MySQL and FileMaker; built-in LDAP integration; the ability to specify data sources with "inlines;" shell support, and email enhancements.
EarthDesk 3.2 desktop map
Xeric Design has released EarthDesk 3.2, its real-time dynamic desktop map. EarthDesk displays a global day/night map with hurricanes, storms, and worldwide weather systems on any Macintosh or Windows desktop. The application replaces the static wallpaper with an image of the Earth showing current sun, moon and city illumination as well as real-time global cloud coverage. Operating in the background, EarthDesk's dynamic desktop is continuously displayed as the desktop image. Version 3.2 now stores the map images in a dedicated folder for use with Apple's screen saver module. Additionally, minor bugs related to cloud downloading have been fixed. EarthDesk requires Mac OS X 10.3 or newer. Single user copies of EarthDesk may be purchased online for $20, while users of earlier 3.x versions may upgrade for free ($10 for others).
Aladdin HASP solutions
Aladdin Knowledge Systems today announced that its Aladdin HASP hardware-based software protection and licensing solutions now offer support for Universal Applications. The HASP HL and HASP4 software protection keys now support Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger on both Intel- and PowerPC-based Macs. Software developers using HASP can now allow their customers to enjoy the improved performance of the Intel-based Mac machines, while still allowing their software to run on existing PowerPC-based Mac machines. For added convenience, C API with an Xcode sample and a Daemon GUI-based installer are also provided. The Aladdin HASP family provides a suite of hardware- and software-based anti-piracy solutions engineered for software publishers to ensure that their intellectual property is protected.
WiebeTech is now shipping a write-blocked bridge for forensic analysis of SCSI drives. Forensic SCSIDock allows read-only access to suspect SCSI drives through FireWire, allowing investigators to download and image the content of most SCSI drives without risk of data corruption. It attaches to any FireWire host, and the suspect hard drive will pop up on the computer's desktop. "This new Forensic SCSIDock gives investigators write-blocked access to SCSI drives, which has been a frequently requested product", said James Wiebe, CEO of WiebeTech LLC. "We're pleased to be able to provide a solution." Also included is a high watt power adapter for the SCSI drives, a breakout power adapter for the Forensic SCSI Dock and SCSI adapters allowing various types of SCSI drives to attach to the dock. Forensic SCSIDock is priced at $500 and includes a world-compatible AC adapter.
Roxio debuts Popcorn 2
Roxio today released Popcorn 2, which can transfer a variety of personal video entertainment to DVDs and portable devices such as an iPod, PSP or mobile phone. In addition, Popcorn 2 enables users to create portable compatible versions of all popular formats including non-protected DVD-Video, QuickTime movies, MPEG files, iMovie projects and more. It includes predefined settings optimized for standard or high-quality video output as well as allows users to define their own custom DivX, MPEG4, or H.264 levels for bit rate, frame rate, and image size. Version 2 features custom video compilations allowing users to choose the specific video and audio content to duplicate, while at the same time optimizing video quality and maximizing disc space. Popcorn 2, a Universal application, is available now for $50; it is also being simultaneously released in Europe and Asia. Owners of Toast and Popcorn may be eligible for special upgrade pricing direct from Roxio.
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