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Fox ready for internet TV
Fox network has signed a six-year agreement with its affiliates to allow it to offer reruns of its television programs [subscription required] on the internet. The Wall Street Journal reports that the revenue-sharing agreement allows Fox to make 60 percent of its prime-time schedule available online the morning after the shows air; the agreement gives affiliate stations a 12.5 percent cut of all profits, but does specify the revenue model the network will persue, according to the report. Home to hits such as "American Idol" and "The Simpsons," News Corp.'s network is looking to define its internet strategy, following Walt Disney's decision earlier this week to offer some of its most popular shows, including "Desperate Housewives" and "Lost," for free using free ad-sponsored revenue model as a complement to its offerings on Apple's iTunes, where the shows are available for $1.99 per episode or in a Season Pass bundle. Other networks have also experimented with internet-based delivery, including CBS Corp's successful ad-sponsored and iTunes offerings of "March Madness" NCAA Men's basketball games and NBC's pay-per-episode model via iTunes.
Firefox for Intel Macs
Mozilla.org today released Firefox 1.5.02, an update to popular open-source browser that brings support for Apple's new Intel-based Macs. Version 126.96.36.199 also provides native support for Macintosh with Intel Core processors, and stability and security enhancements that are part of its "ongoing program to provide a safer Internet experience for our users." The organization says it recommends that all Firefox users upgrade to this latest version. A full set of fixes is listed here, noting that the update includes several security holes, the most serious of which could lead to remote code execution (however, details were not provided yet). The developers note that there is no Talkback on Intel-based Macs when running natively or under Rosetta.
RSS Menu, FreeWRL, Isadora
RSS Menu 1.7 (donationware) updates the RSS/Atom feed reader that allows users to listen to podcasts. A system-wide menu, RSS Menu supports drag-and-drop for feeds from any source, as well as Growl notification. Version 1.7 uses WebKit for parsing feeds, fixes the bundle identifier for Camino, adds support for file URLs, and waits for a pre-determined period of time before it begins parsing when waking from sleep. The update also adds Brazilian Portuguese localization.
[Download - 695KB]
FreeWRL 1.17 (free) is an open-source VRML and X3D browser for Mac OS X. The update is a Universal Binary, offering native compatibility with Intel-based Macs. Version 1.17 adds MultiTexture support, improves pull-down menus, and incorporates multiple bug fixes. FreeWRL is also assumed to be Interchange profile conformant, pending verification by the Web3D Consortium. [Download - 13MB]
Isadora 1.1.1 ($350) is a graphic programming environment for the Mac that provides interactive control over digital media, with special emphasis on the real-time manipulation of digital video. Version 1.1.1 includes new 3D rendering actors, several new controls, instant composting, cross fading between scenes, and six independent outputs. The update also includes external video output, multi-channel sound output interfaces, and serial output.
Pandora 1.9.5 ($20) updates the image collector's Web spider and search agent for Mac OS X, adding Spotlight integration in the form of Finder comments for every image discovered. The application hunts down images by spidering URLs or performing keyword-based searches. Comments include the URL or keywords used to start the query, the original URL of the image, and the URL of the parent page of the image. [Download - 1MB]
FootTrack 2.3 ($50) imports, catalogs, and searches digital video tapes. Users can compress footage to keep video on-hand for easy viewing, and the software can search clips to locate various criteria. Version 2.3 adds support for Intel Macs as a Universal Binary, prints tape inserts or contact sheets, and exports FCP XML files. The update is free to existing FootTrack 1.7 users, and fixes several bugs. [Download - 12MB]
ClipEdit 3.0 (donationware) allows users to create and edit text or picture clippings. ClipEdit exports any internet address to an internet clipping, and can zoom or crop picture clippings. Text clippings can be edited as a normal text file. The application is written in Cocoa, and features graphic import/export functionality for easy conversion of picture clippings. [Download - 525KB]
Boot Camp flaw found
Numerous Intel Mac owners are reporting problems on Apple's support forums with the company's Boot Camp software, and some users even say that they are stuck with Windows because their Mac OS partitions no longer boot after completing the installation. Boot Camp is a program designed to provide the new Apple systems with the ability to boot both Mac OS X and Microsoft Windows. More than a dozen users have said they are stuck without the ability to boot back into Mac OS X, according to Techworld.com. "It all worked fine until I wanted to start up OS X. Then the startup screen never progressed. I actually left and came back an hour later and it was still just the gear thing spinning around," wrote one user.
Designer Muffs ship
Muffgear today launched the Designer Muff, a collaborative effort to create a unique iPod cover showcasing the efforts of young up-and-coming artists. A percentage of each Designer Muff sold goes straight to the artist, with two designers already contributing. Each Designer Muff is unique, and is hand-made in Australia from a printed polyester canvas. Muffgear is currently showcasing three cases on its website, dubbed "Ghosties ($17)," "Skulls ($17)," and "Satisfied" ($17, shown at right). Designer cases fit fifth-generation iPods and iPod nanos, with more styles expected in the near future.
Faster Intel Core Duo chip
Intel is planning to introduce a new Core Duo chip with a 2.33GHz clock speed per core, sharing 2MB of cache. The company also plans to follow the launch with price reductions to encourage demand, according to Geek.com. The move will take place within the next six weeks, and though the chip is 32-bit like its predecessors, the 64-bit Merom processor is slated for shipment in the third quarter. Apple is likely to adopt the faster chip once it arrives, along with rival notebook makers such as Dell. When the new chip launches, Intel will slash the price of its 2.16GHz Core Duo CPU by over $200, according to the report. Apple currently offers 2.0GHz Intel Core Duo chips in its latest high-end iMacs and MacBook Pro notebook systems.
Analysts look to iPods
Analysts are estimating Apple will earn $0.43 cents per share on $4.54 billion in revenue, and iPod sales will be the focus as the company holds a conference call to discuss its March quarter financial results. As reported earlier by MacNN, American Technology Research analyst Shaw Wu said he believes Apple will report iPod sales of 8.8 million units, and that the company will top its own estimates of $0.43 cents per share on revenue of $4.4 billion. The fact that Apple is in the middle of its transition to Intel-based Macs, and concerns about iPod shipments has led to a pullback in the company's stock, whose shares are down 4.5 percent this year, according to MarketWatch.
Review, Google calendar
In brief: MacNN has reviewed the Contour Design iSee video 30 ($26, shown at right), a thin and clear iPod case that attaches to a strap or belt.... Google today introduced a free Web calendar service, allowing users to schedule events and share them with others.... Two of MacPlay's latest titles -- Jewel Quest and Mah Jong Quest -- are now available at Macgamestore.com for $25 each.... MacSpeech announced that it has certified four new microphones from Andrea Electronics, which include the NC-91, NC-95, NC-110, and NC-115.... O'Reilly Press has released its latest title, "Running Boot Camp: The First Intsall Guide" ($8), a guide to step users through the install and configuration process of Apple's Boot Camp software.... Technocutie has unveiled a series of hand-made cases for iPod owners (pricing varies), offering protection for numerous models.
Transmit, JABMenu, Squirt
Transmit 3.5.3 ($30) updates the file transfer client to include a new global editor setting, improved file permissions handling, and numerous bug fixes. The software allows users to edit any remote file in any application, calculates folder sizes, and offers support for SOCKS proxies. Version 3.5.3 displays a question mark icon to represent missing files in the sidebar, supports skEdit 3.6 as a native external editor, and offers a preference to control the default generic FTP parser.
[Download - 5.7MB]
JABMenu 1.0 ($10) offers users a convenient way to utilize Address Book data through a system-wide menu. The application provides quick access to contact phone numbers, email, and postal addresses. Selecting a menu item triggers an action such as displaying the content in large type, copying it to the clipboard, creating a new email, dialing the phone, or showing an address on a map using the Google Maps service. [Download - 772KB]
Trans Lucy 2 ($15) upgrades the video player software that allows users to watch movies translucently while having access to everything on the screen. New features include support for QuickTime movie playback, a new interface, and playlists. The update also adds hotkeys for controlling Trans Lucy, and includes various other improvements. [Download - 2.5MB]
Squirt 1.3 (unknown) reads in REALbasic source code that has been exported in XML format to generate C++ code. The application does not attempt to replicate the REALbasic runtime, but rather is aimed at converting core algorithms written by the REALbasic programmer. The update allows RB developers to use one or more project classes as "templates" for C++ REALbasic plug-in code. [Download - 6.6MB]
DiskWrangler 2.2 ($25) is a file launcher and browser for Mac OS X users who prefer to keep their hands on the keyboard. The update features a new file search option allowing users to find files by name, modification date, and creation date. The software can manipulate file attributes and permissions, as well as copy, move, and delete files. [Download - 2.9MB]
WinXP, Macs, viruses
Analyst firm Gartner has said that any talk of Apple's Boot Camp software exposing Mac OS X to security risks is hype, and should be ignored. "All users should ignore any hype about the possibility of exposing the Mac OS to more viruses or worms. The Mac software will be located on another partition within a different file system; thus, running Windows on a Mac will not expose the Mac software to more malware," said research VP Michael Silver. The analyst noted, however, that any additional marketshare Apple stands to gain by introducing Boot Camp may attract the attention of malicious users, according to Silicon.com. "If Mac sales and Apple's market share increase, the Mac OS could potentially become a more attractive target for malware," Silver said. Earlier this week, a marketing director for the McAfee anti-virus firm said that Macs could pose network security risks by incubating viruses, which could then be passed on to vulnerable Windows systems.
Anlayst lowers AAPL
March iPod sales slowed from the first two months in 2006, causing one analyst to lower his sales estimates for the March quarter as well as Apple's fiscal 2006. In a research note released to analysts, Merrill Lynch analyst Richard Farmer has reduced his March quarter estimates of iPod sales to 8.8 million (from 10.1 million) based on a triangulation of January and February NPD monthly numbers and current weekly data available for March. Farmer said that preliminary data for March is "most likely to reflect growth below both February and January (which were 140 percent and 66 percent, respectively). We assume mix shifts to international, which NPD numbers do not reflect," the analyst said; however, he noted that Apple may benefit from falling NAND flash prices. Farmer cut his overall 2006 iPod sales by 11 percent to 47 million.
Hand-made iPod cases
Technocutie has unveiled a series of hand-made cases for iPod owners, offering protection for numerous models. The screen and clickwheel are covered with clear vinyl, allowing users to operate the iPod while maintaining protection inside the case. Reinforced holes offer access to all ports, as well as the lock button without removing the player from the case. Secured with Velcro and designed to fit snugly, technocutie cases provide scratch protection for Apple's fifth and fourth generation iPods, as well as the iPod nano, iPod photo, iPod mini, and iPod shuffle models. Pricing varies by case model.
ConceptDraw 5.5.1 released
CS Odessa today released a free update to its business diagramming and technical drawing application, ConceptDraw 5.5.1. The latest release features faster object rendering when resizing or moving, as well as improved export to EPS, PDF, and HTML formats. ConceptDraw 5.5.1 adds a library of shapes for diagramming in value stream notation and swim lane shapes. A value stream map depicts the flow of material via graphics from suppliers, through internal processes, and finally to customers. The update offers improved operational speed, text group export to EPS and PDF file formats, page naming in HTML export, and other minor enhancements. ConceptDraw 5.5.1 is available for $300, and upgrades for standard ($80) and professional ($100) versions are available to registered users of earlier versions. ConceptDraw 5.5.1 requires Mac OS X 10.1.5 or later.
Marware\'s Protection Pack
Dr. Bott today announced the immediate availability of Marware's Protection Pack for MacBook Pro, which consists of a wrist rest and a keyboard cover made from PVC leather to prevent scratches and provide a smooth, padded work surface. The non-permanent special adhesive allows for effortless complete and clean removal. The dual-purpose keyboard cover is made of microfiber, the same material used for lens cloths. "Perfect for protection against impurities and for use as a screen cleaner, Protection Pack is the ideal product for any MacBook Pro user," the company noted. The Protection Pack is available in four models, the newest being for MacBook Pro as well as 12-, 15-, and 17-inch PowerBooks. All four models of Protection Pack are available today through Dr. Bott authorized resellers; they retail for $20.
EQO Mobile for Skype beta
EQO Communications today announced immediate availability of a Mac OS X version of EQO Mobile for Skype, which can extend Skype VoIP calling and messaging to virually any mobile phone. EQO Mobile lets users make and receive Skype calls, exchange Instant Messages, and view presence information about their buddies over the Skype network from more than 45 different phone handset models from vendors including Nokia, Motorola, Palm, and Sony-Ericsson. Most recently, EQO announced support for Palm TREO 650 and Motorola ROKR, SLVR, and RAZR handsets. Using a combination of a phone-resident J2ME client and a presence-enabled VoIP signaling network, the EQO Mobile Internet Phone Service is capable of bridging online identity, VoIP calling, and Instant Messaging services to more than 200 million J2ME-capable mobile phone handsets already in use worldwide. EQO Mobile is available for free to consumers as a Beta product via the EQO web site.
GridIron Nucleo, X-Facto
GridIron Software (booth no. SL5138E) today announced that it will demo GridIron Nucleo for Adobe After Effects, a productivity enhancement tool for multi-core or multi-processor workstations, along with GridIron X-Factor at the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) Conference, which runs from April 24 - 27, 2006 in Las Vegas, NV. GridIron Nucleo can maximize the power of multi-core or multi-processor workstations to speed renders and previews in Adobe After Effects, while GridIron X-Factor is an extension for After Effects that enables users to improve the speed of previewing and rendering using the power of a network or render farm. GridIron Nucleo is priced at $150 per computer; it supports all versions of Adobe After Effects v6.5 and later on both Windows and Mac OS X. GridIron X-Factor is priced at $500 for a Plus 6-Pack license.
Apple ships Aperture 1.1
Apple today released Aperture 1.1, a major update to the all-in-one post production tool for photographers that runs natively on both Intel- and PowerPC-based Macs. Aperture 1.1 features dramatically improved RAW image rendering and a new set of advanced RAW adjustment controls. Aperture 1.1 also delivers impressive speed gains on any Mac including desktop performance on a MacBook Pro with image adjustments and searching up to 4x faster, according to the company. Apple also reduced the price of the application to $300 to put it into "reach of anyone shooting with a digital SLR camera." In addition, early adopters of Aperture 1.0 can claim a $200 coupon ($100 for education users) redeemable at the Apple Online Store as a "thank you for their support," the company said.
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