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Speakables for Skype ships
Speakables has released Speakables for Skype, its first product for the high growth VOIP market. The company said that the softwarew was developed by speech recognition experts, including a key developer of Apple's Speech Recognition technology. Speakables for Skype works with popular Skype VOIP service, allowing users to manipulate the service using voice commands. Users create a Skype contact list and can initiate calls by just saying the person's name. Skype users will be able to initiate and answer calls, as well as disconnect ongoing calls remotely by using a simple voice command. Speakables for Skype works with Apple's Speakable Items technology which is already included in the Mac OS X platform. It is available for free for Mac OS X 10.2 or later.
Universal Mackie Tracktion
Mackie last week announced that Universal versions of its popular Tracktion music production software and associated Mackie plug-ins would be available by early summer of this year. Calling it a "major" release, it said that t he Tracktion release will take full advantage of the stunning performance increase associated with the new Intel-based Macs and also includes full compatibility with existing PowerPC-based machines. Along with this announcement, Mackie confirmed Universal support for it's family of FireWire equipped audio devices that includes the Onyx 400F, Onyx FireWire card, Onyx 1200F, d.2 DJ Mixer and the optional FireWire interface for the flagship Digital X Bus digital production console.
Burst countersues Apple
Burst.com today said it has filed patent infringement counterclaims against Apple. The AP reports that the counterclaims, filed in the Federal District Court in San Francisco, allege that Apple's iTunes store, software and iPod devices infringe upon four patents owned by Burst.com. The company is seeking royalty fees from Apple and an injunction against further infringement. The new counterclaims follow a mutually agreed upon extension by both parties, which allowed Burst to respond to a suit filed by Apple in January of this year. Seeking declaratory relief, Apple in January filed a lawsuit in San Francisco, alleging patent invalidity or non-infringement. Burst said that the lawsuit followed a breakdown in protracted negotiations for issuance of a license of Burst's patents to cover Apple's iPod and iTunes products.
Blogger rights, Q2 results
In brief: A San Jose appeals court Thursday will consider whether blog sites are entitled to the same protection against divulging confidential sources as established media organizations.... Apple will provide live audio streaming of its fiscal year 2006 second quarter results conference call via QuickTime, to be accessible through the company's website.... Apple's annual shareholder's meeting is set to begin on Thursday, April 27th at the company's Town Hall Auditorium.... MacNN's latest podcast is available for download, featuring Jim Gibson, director of the Richmond Law IP Institute, who talks to MacNN and Sandy, a high school student about copyright, piracy, and the digital enabler.... Abilene Christian University is planning to use video iPods to teach students from afar, and is including the device in its materials cost for two programs.
Re:Vision releases Re:Map
RE:Vision Effects today released Re:Map, a kit of mapping and distortion tools, and announced that it will demo the tools at NAB (booth #SL5138) alongside the company's other products. Re:Map is a set of four plug-ins which consist of UV, Distort, Displace, and Planar. UV takes a UV Map and renders an image using that mapping. Distort takes a color image and automatically distorts the image based on the features for a caricature-like effect. Displace warps an image with a user-supplied displacement map, and Planar maps or inverse maps a perspective plane defined by four points (also known as corner-pinning and inverse-corner-pinning). Re:Map is an After Effects-compatible plug-in set, and is available for Autodesk combustion, eyeon software's Fusion, Adobe After Effects and Premiere, Final Cut Pro, Motion, and other applications that support After Effects-compatible plug-ins. Re:Map Effects is priced at $150, with render-only licenses costing $30. RE:Map is free for users who purchased Effections after march 16th, 2006 (specific system requirements were unavailable).
iPod, distance learning
Abilene Christian University is planning to use video iPods to teach students from afar. The school is offering attendees of its Master of Arts in Conflict Resolution and Reconciliation or Master of Education in Leadership of Learning programs video iPods as part of the course cost, providing access to videos and other study materials on-the-go. The classes are the first in what the university is calling "ACU WorldWide," designed primarily to bring ACU's classes to students in urban and global markets, according to the Abilene Reporter-News. "The people who need graduate degrees are busy professionals, and they don't have the time to come to a university," said Dr. Gary Tucker, director of distance education. "This will allow them to take classes that will fit into their lifestyles." The master's of education degree is available entirely online, while the conflict management degree requires a one-week residency in Dallas where students will practice negotiation skills.
Digital Performer 5 ships
MOTU today announced that it is now shipping Digital Performer 5, an update to its digital audio workstation software. Version 5 offers six new CPU-efficient instrument plug-ins: BassLine is analog-style monophonic bass synth; PolySynth is a retro analog-style polyphonic pad synth; NanoSampler offers sample playback; Modulo is a programmable 2-osc subtractive synth; Model 12 is a twelve part programmable drum module; and Proton offers an imaginative and provocative two-op FM synth. In addition, the upgrade also allows users to organize track lists and show or hide track as well as monitor all inputs, outputs, busses, etc. with long-throw, scalable, responsive meters. It also includes four new audio editing tools, automatic audio voice allocation, new film scoring features, custom click patterns, new input monitoring modes, MIDI keys, support for Pro Tools 7, and more. The full version is $800; upgrades are $200 from previous versions.
Onset Computer today announced SolarStream Satellite, a new, satellite-based wireless transceiver designed exclusively for Mac-compatible HOBO Weather Stations. With SolarStream Satellite, researchers and growers can remotely access HOBO Weather Stations and Micro Stations deployed anywhere in the world covered by the ORBCOMM satellite network. The transceiver enables users to download weather station data, view realtime graphs, adjust sample rates, check battery status, and verify weather station operation. It also provides automatic alarm notification via cell phone text messages or email when conditions exceed limits. SolarStream Satellite is currently available from Upward Innovations for $980. HOBO Weather Stations, which are sold directly through Onset, start at $200 with both smart sensors and software sold separately.
Future of online music
Despite the tremendous growth of digital music, prices must increase if companies want to make money selling music, according to analysts. A new report says that the $0.99 price point --over which the labels have been fighting with Apple -- is simply not profitable, given the margins, the dominance of Apple's iTunes in digital music sales, and the tremendous popularity of the iPod. Even Apple, which sells millions of song and owns more than 80 percent of the US digital music market, is only marginally profitable at best, according to a report by TheStreet.com. "It's a long-haul business right now," says Aram Sinnreich, managing partner of Radar Research, a Los Angeles-based consulting firm told the publication. "It will be at least three years before anyone can make a serious profit selling digital music," largely because of the hold that Apple has on the market. Despite a rapidly growing market, the future of pure-play music services is in jeopardy because of market economics.
Equinox 6 released
Microprojects.ca has released Equinox 6, a Universal Binary version of the planetarium program that runs natively on Intel Macs. Equinox 6 includes filters for organizing deep sky objects, controls to adjust the sky display, and a window that simulates a telescope's view. Users can build a tour, connect to a telescope, and slew from object to object using voice commands. The software boasts a complete re-design in Xcode, transparent control panels, an improved math engine, scroll wheel support, and a 360-degree circular sky display. The update also offers better star brightness/color control, contextual menus, and localization in Hungarian. Equinox 6 requires Mac OS X 10.4 or later, and is priced at $50. Registered users of Equinox can purchase the upgrade for $25.
Mac most secure Vista PC?
Apple may be planning to lure Windows users "into the light" of Mac OS X via its Boot Camp software, even as some Microsoft employees that the company will take marketshare from Apple. A recent column by Robert Cringely points to the possibility of Mac systems running the most secure Windows Vista installations, while Microsoft engineers made statements suggesting that Vista will be superior to Mac OS X, causing current Mac users to abandon Apple's OS. The statements of those engineers coincide with John Dvorak's predictions that the Cupertino-based company will forsake their own Mac OS X in favor of Windows at some point in the future. Cringely, however, believes that the version of Boot Camp which will ship with Mac OS X 10.5 will likely have full OS virtualization, enabling both operating systems to run side-by-side and allowing users to cut and paste data from one to the other.
Bannister.org has released updates for a host of emulation applications, offering native support for both PowerPC and Intel-based Macs. The emulation software spans numerous platforms such as Nintendo Gameboy, Gameboy Advance, SNES, Sega Genesis, Commodore 64, Neo Geo Pocket Color, and many others. Users can download Emulator Enhancer, a shareware module which adds auto fire, custom icon generation, full screen mode, network play (with some emulators), real-time video/sound filtering, and support for USB game pads/joysticks. All emulation software requires Mac OS X 10.4 or later, and all emulators are freeware with the exception of fMSX ($20).
MovieFest Boston, mStation
In brief: The Campus MovieFest Boston Grand Finale is set to take place on Friday, April 21st at John Hancock Hall featuring live music by Endway and door prizes such as iPods, plane tickets, and a Mac mini (use partner code 'MACNN' for discounted $5 tickets).... Melvin Rivera from All Forces has posted a tutorial on custom signatures in Apple's Mail client using CSS (Cascading Style Sheets).... mStation has unveiled the mStation 2.1 Stereo Tower ($300) and mStation 2.1 Stereo Orb ($150), high-fidelity speakers for iPod owners (shown at right) that integrate a dedicated subwoofer.... The Downtown Denver Partnership today introduced free wireless internet access along the 16th St. Mall, saying the free Wi-Fi will allow employees and visitors to easily take advantage of Colorado's 300 days of sunshine throughout the year.... AVA Showcase has introduced the Nano Element ($25), a chrome-plated ABS plastic case for iPod nano.
Nano Element case debuts
AVA Showcase has introduced the Nano Element, a chrome-plated ABS plastic case for iPod nano. The case features a clickwheel film layer, a built-in on/off switch, and a screen protector to prevent scratches to the liquid crystal display. Each case ships with a lanyard, soft earbud pouch, and AVA Cable-Grip for easy cable management. Nano Element cases are priced at $25, fitting 1GB, 2GB, and 4GB iPod nano models. The new cases are slated for shipment on April 21st.
SnapWeb, Weight Tracker
SnapWeb 3.1r2 ($10) is a free update to the internet snapshot and archiving utility, offering native support for Intel-based Macs as a Universal Binary. Version 3.1r2 adds "Snap History" functionality to show the last 100 successful snapshots, better Safari integration, and support for the AppleScript command "snap" to use SnapWeb in automated processes. The update also adds the "switch" AppleScript command to modify SnapWeb's output preferences, and fixes a crash which occurred when visiting a non-existing Web page.
[Download - 1.8MB]
Weight Tracker 1.0 (free) helps people of all ages track their weight, keeping a freeform log of sugar readings, diet, and exercise. The application displays short, medium, and long term trends while comparing progress to personal weight goals and to an "ideal weight" based on height or age. The software uses weight tables which include widely-accepted standards for ideal weight, as well as password protection. [Download - 1.2MB]
SharePoints 3.5.4, Picture Namer 1.5.2, and AFS Monitor 1.0.2 (donationware) offer native support for Intel-based Macs. SharePoints allows users to add and delete share points freely, removing the restriction Mac OS X imposes which forces users to share items only within the public folder. Picture Namer renames pictures residing in folders, and is ideal for batch renaming photos downloaded from digital cameras. AFS Monitor tracks current connections to the local AppleFileServer (AFS), displaying the number of connected users, who those users are, and how many files/directories they have created/deleted. [Download - 1.5MB (SharePoints), 328KB (Picture Namer), and 46.6KB (AFS Monitor)]
Parallels Workstation 2.1 Beta 3 ($40) is a virtualization solution specifically designed to work with Intel Macs. The software supports Windows 3.1/3.11/95/98/Me/2000/NT/XP/2003, any Linux distribution, FreeBSD, Solaris, OS/2, eComStation, and MS-DOS. The application also includes installation wizards and a simple Web-inspired interface for building virtual machines. [Download - 15.2MB (trial activation key required)]
iGetter 2.5 ($25) adds native support for Intel Macs to the download software, as well as a new "FileAvenu Info" function that works for selected downloads. Version 2.5 includes a "Move To Folder" function available for finished downloads to easily move one or more files to a new location, and adds a new option to open download referrer URLs quickly in the default browser. [Download - 2.3MB]
mStation Stereo Tower, Orb
mStation has unveiled the mStation 2.1 Stereo Tower and mStation 2.1 Stereo Orb, high-fidelity speakers designed for iPod owners that integrate a dedicated subwoofer. Both models ship with a 10-key remote control that offers basic functionality for iPods as well as treble, bass, and volume adjustments. The mStation 2.1 Stereo Tower is made from extruded aluminum, and includes midrange speakers with tweeters mounted in posts that can rotate 20-degrees. The Stereo Tower offers an iPod Dock connector, a USB Mini B port, and a stereo mini jack (3.5mm). mStation's Stereo Orb offers the same connectivity as the Stereo Tower, plus one FireWire connector. The mStation 2.1 Stereo Tower is priced at $300, while the mStation Stereo Orb is available for $150. Both models come with a one-year parts/90 day labor warranty.
Universal M-Audio drivers
M-Audio has announced its support for Apple's new Intel-based Mac computers, offering new Universal drivers for its complete line of FireWire- and USB-compatible peripherals. The company announced it has posted official drivers for Fast Track USB, Fast Track Pro, MobilePre USB, JamLab, Transit USB, Audiophile USB, FireWire Solo, FireWire Audiophile, FireWire 410, FireWire 1814, ProjectMix I/O, Ozonic, M-Audio Ozone, Oxygen 8, MIDISPORT 2x2, MIDISPORT 1x1, MIDISPORT 4x4, MIDISPORT 2x4 and MIDISPORT 8x8/s. When combined with M-Audio’s collection of class-compliant devices, this driver release brings Intel-based Mac compatibility to all non-PCI M-Audio interfaces and controllers.
Jobs snubs Wozniak
Apple's Steve Jobs has backed out of writing a foreword for his former business partner and Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak's upcoming book. Jobs reportedly declined after reading portions of the book. Wozniak, who gives Jobs a "great deal" of credit for turning around Apple, said that he was "a little disappointed," noting that Jobs initially had indicated he'd write a foreword. "But he'd never written a foreword before and I said, 'Just write what we were like back then,' according to an interview with The Seattle Times. "We sent him the book and he said, 'Oh, I saw some excerpts, and I'm going to decline writing the foreword.'" Wozniak, who remains on Apple's payroll for its health benefits and receives special VIP invitations to all Apple events from Jobs, also revealed that both he and Jobs aren't close friends and don't see eye-to-eye much of the time, although he admits their differing view points probably helped Apple in the early days. [corrected]
Apple makes girl cry
Apple's corporate policy for dealing with unsolicited ideas may be changing. The company held a special meeting to discuss ways to improve its cold-hearted, boiler-plate response to any unsolicited improvements or suggestions submitted to the company, after it found out that it shattered a nine-year girl's heart. According to CBS 5 News, 9-year-old Shea O'Gorman wrote to Apple CEO Steve Jobs as her class was learning about writing business and formal letters. The third-grader wrote Jobs to offer suggestions on improving her iPod nano, such as adding song lyrics so listeners can sing along to their tunes. Although it took three months, the company finally responded to her letter--although it was not what O'Gorman and her family were expecting. Instead of a polite response from Jobs, the girl received a cold, stern letter from Apple's legal counsel telling her that the company didn't accept unsolicited ideas and that she should not send any suggestions to the company.
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