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Apple has hired former exectuive Jonathan Rubinstein as a consultant, following his resignation as senior vice president of its iPod music player division. In an SEC filing on Friday, the company said that it has signed a consulting agreement with Jonathan Rubinstein through his company J.R. Ruby Consulting Corp; it also said that Rubinstein resigned effective April 14, 2006, following the announcement late last year. Under the terms, Rubinstein will make himself available for consulting for up to 20 percent of general weekly business hours, or one business day per week on average, until April 16, 2007. Though the company was not specific, it said it would pay Rubinstein a non-material flat fee as consideration for his services. Apple noted that the agreement may be terminated at any time prior to the expiration of the term upon mutual written agreement of the parties.
Disk Order 2.2 ($23) is designed as an advanced Finder replacement with a built-in FTP client, as well as the ability to handle archives as standard folders. The double-panel file management utility includes "Drives Buttons" that allow users to switch between mounted volumes and connected FTP servers. Version 2.2 also offers a "Directory Hot List," an easily configurable favorite directories list enabling users to switch to virtually any directory on the system with a single keystroke. [Download - 2.9MB] Diet Sleuth 4.5.0 ($35) updates the nutritional database and personal health logbook application, adding features to calculate daily caloric needs and estimated weight loss. Diet Sleuth allows users to keep track of what foods are consumed each day, as well as their nutritional value. The software automatically calculates caloric intake, fat grams, carbohydrates, fiber, protein, cholesterol, sodium, potassium, and calcium. [Download - 2.7MB] DVDpedia, Bookpedia and CDpedia 3.0 ($18 each) upgrades the cataloging programs, bringing Universal support for native compatibility with Intel Macs. The updates feature new library-independent collections, and a links section that allows users to link anything to an entry, including Web pages. Version 3.0 can link files, images, movies, "Video_TS" folders, screenshots, text, PDFs, and more. [Download - 5.1MB (DVDpedia), 5.8MB (Bookpedia), and 4.3MB (CDpedia)] LogOutScreenSaver 3.0.1 ($5) automatically logs a user out after their session goes idle for a pre-determined amount of time, which is set by the administrator. Version 3 is a major upgrade with many new features and bug fixes, offering native support for Intel Macs as a Universal Binary. The application can store unsaved work on Mac OS X 10.4 installations when LogOutScreenSaver logs a user out. [Download - 1.5MB] Namely 2.1 (free) offers fast access to applications by typing part of a program's name. The utility intelligently orders results based on usage. Version 2.1 natively supports both Intel and PowerPC-based Macs as a Universal Binary. Namely 2.1 requires Mac OS X 10.3 or later. [Download - 243KB]
MacTech today released an extensive benchmark study of Microsoft Office 2004 for Mac running on Apple's latest Intel Macs, in an attempt to see how well Office applications perform under Rosetta. The large suite of over 1,000 tests was performed comparing the PowerBook G4, MacBook Pro, and Intel-based iMac. "In this case, we wanted to help people decide if they should wait, or could they proceed with their Intel-based Mac purchases," Neil Ticktin said, Publisher/Editor-in-Chief at MacTech Magazine. The results are, in general, that Office 2004 under Rosetta works "well enough" to "very well," and in some cases, it's "even faster than on the PowerPC machine."
FireWire Depot today began shipping the EF83-Q, a four-drive FireWire 800 enclosure that offers support for RAID 0, 1, or JBOD. Designed for high-end applications, such as audio/video editing, and comes with four hot swappable IDE hard drive trays, as well as a built-in FireWire 800 bridge board that supports LBA 48-bit sector addressing drives. For RAID use, all drives installed must be identical. The four 3.5-inch IDE/ATA hard drives are converted to a plug-and-play high speed FireWire 800/1394b device, with transfer speeds up to 800Mb/sec. The EF83-Q is priced at $330, and is compatible with all Mac OS X installations.
FastMac today unveiled a new line of TruePower Apple laptop batteries, offering Mac notebook users new batteries designed to provide up to 56 percent more capacity than the originals. The company utilizes custom form factors and color matching techniques for each battery model to ensure an exact fit and look to Apple specifications. Each battery is individually tested and includes safety features to protect against overcharge, short circuit, and power surges. All TruePower laptop batteries come with a one-year warranty and 30 day money back guarantee. FastMac's TruePower laptop batteries are available for PowerBook G4 (Titanium and Aluminum), iBook (all models), and PowerBook G3 (Wallstreet, Lombard, and Pismo). Various models are set to begin shipping within the next two weeks, and FastMac is accepting pre-orders ($100-120).
Apple may be planning to implement the Windows API (Application Programming Interfaces) directly in Mac OS X 10.5, which would allow Mac users to run Windows XP applications natively in Mac OS X without rebooting and without the need for virtualization software. Robert Cringely, in his latest column, also reiterated that Apple may migrate Mac OS X to a faster kernel, abandoning the older Mach microkernel presently in use. Apple and Microsoft in 1997 agreed to a five-year patent cross-licensing agreement, which ended in August of 2002 -- 10 months after Windows XP began shipping. The columnist believes Apple may be planning to utilize Microsoft's own Windows API, coupled with a faster kernel under the hood to offer users the ability to run Windows XP applications natively from their Mac OS X desktop, with the optional ability to dual-boot into Windows Vista once it ships in 2007.
RE:Vision Effects is now shipping universal binary plug-ins of Twixtor and ReelSmart Motion Blur (RSMB) for Apple Final Cut Pro, supporting both PPC- and Intel-based Macs. Twixtor is a sophisticated slow-mo and speed-up solution, and ReelSmart Motion Blur adds and removes motion blur based on per-pixel calculated motion. "There is an issue of project compatibility projects saved from FCP between PPC and Intel Macintoshes. Workarounds are described on the RE:Vision Effects website. Unfortunately, the tutorials for Twixtor and RSMB arenít currently set up to work with FCP on Intel Macintoshes (updating the tutorials for Intel are planned). Also on the website is information on how to fix the problem where our plugins may stop working after installing the OSX 10.4.6 updater from Apple." Pricing starts at $330 for Twixtor and $90 for ReelSmart Motion Blur.
Ultralingua has released the latest iteration of Accio Dictionary for iPod, its language learning reference software for users on-the-go. The update allows users to retrieve common translations when traveling, and provides translations of common phrases recorded by native speakers. The dictionary offers up to 8,000 indexed translations, designed to supply most vocabulary required for everyday usage. Accio dictionaries for iPod include verb conjugation tables for the most commonly used verbs, as well as audio files varied by region. Accio Dictionaries for iPod are priced at $20 each, and require Mac OS X 10.2 or later for installation. [updated]
Telestream today announced development plans for its Windows Media Components for QuickTime, placing Universal support for Intel-powered Macs at the top of its list of key development projects currently in progress. The software is slated for release some time within the next quarter, and will add Windows Media playback support to QuickTime Player as well as Web browsers. "Support for Appleís new Intel-based products is a top priority for us," said Dan Castles, CEO of Telestream. "With over a million downloads of the Windows Media Components for QuickTime to date, user response has exceeded our expectations. We are not only committed to ongoing support and development, but also look forward to releasing additional important new features and product enhancements which are currently in process."
In brief: Industry watchers say Microsoft's antitrust fight in Europe is threatening to stem the next release of Windows, and has turned into a major distraction for executives which could introduce further lawsuits.... A new report recently tested Windows XP and Mac OS X side-by-side using Apple's Boot Camp software, revealing that World of Warcraft (WoW) runs twice as fast under Windows XP.... Big Nerd Ranch Europe has announced Cocoa Bootcamp on Tiger, offering consumers the opportunity to learn Cocoa from Aaron Hillegass in Europe.... MacProVideo.com today launched Mac 101: Mastering Your Mac ($40), a video tutorial program available via DVD or download offering tips and tricks for new Mac users.... The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission today announced a voluntary recall of 15,700 laptop batteries in cooperation with HP, after the company received 20 reports of batteries overheating.
OpenEye Scientific Software is offering 3D hardware stereo support for Mac OS X on a Power Mac G5 with VIDA. The application is designed to let users visualize, manage, and manipulate large sets of data in new ways. VIDA supports all standard visualization paradigms, including 2D depiction, both hardware and software stereo, surface selection and manipulation, and many other unique facilities. VIDA reads and writes a wide range of formats, interfacing with OpenEye's other modeling software for analysis of generated data. The software serves as a chemically-oriented functional spreadsheet, supporting list operations while offering an integrated Python interpreter. VIDA is priced at $1,000 per seat (system requirements were unavailable).
A Windows enthusiast and author of over a dozen books about Microsoft's operating system has described in great detail where he believes Windows Vista fails. "Since the euphoria of PDC 2003, Microsoft's handling of Windows Vista has been abysmal," wrote Paul Thurrott. "The entire project was literally restarted from scratch after it became obvious that the initial code base was a teetering, technological house of cards." Thurrott has spent over 10 years investigating Microsoft and its products, and says that the company is collapsing under its own weight. "We do not and should not expect to be promised the world, only to be given a warmed over copy of Mac OS X Tiger in return. Windows Vista is a disappointment. There is no way to sugarcoat that very real truth." Thurrott points to Vista's User Account Protection, Glass Windows, and Media Center as the primary features where Vista "just completely blows it." Several Microsoft engineers recently suggested that Vista will be superior to Mac OS X, and that current Mac users will abandon Apple's OS in favor of Microsoft's solution.
Aspyr Media today released the final system requirements for Call of Duty 2 (COD), a first person action game based on the intensity and chaos of battle as seen through the eyes of ordinary soldiers fighting together in World War II conflicts. Call of Duty 2 provides enhanced graphics, a new engine, improved artificial intelligence, and choice-based innovations that simulate real warfare. The game feature snow, rain, fog, and smoke, combined with dynamic lighting and shadows to create realistic effects. Call of Duty 2 requires Mac OS X 10.3.9 or later, a PowerPC G5 or Intel chipset running at 1.8GHz or faster, and a Radeon 9600 or GeForce FX 5200 or better graphics card. The game is available for pre-order for $50, and is expected to ship May 15th.
A member of Microsoft's Mac Business Unit has posted a virtual tour of the Microsoft Mac Lab, offering visitors a glimpse into the work area of Microsoft employees who develop and test Mac versions of the company's software. Boasting roughly 2,000 square feet of "solid computers," the lab -- until recently -- contained every significant hardware revision Apple has ever released "since the dawn of time." The "Sandbox" offers workers a set of all significant hardware configurations that Apple has released which run Microsoft products, and contains testing racks filled with countless Mac models. Lab workers use a KVM switch box and Apple Remote Desktop to flip through 150 Mac minis, which compliment numerous other Mac systems for a total of 249 automation machines that run a battery of automated tests each day.
Parallels, makers of the first virtualization software for Mac OS X, today announced the beta release of its VM Compactor 1.0, an easy-to-use virtual hard disk management tool that optimizes performance of any Parallels, VMware or Microsoft virtual machine running Windows 2000, 2003, or XP by compacting its hard drive by up to 80 percent. The company said that compacted hard disks help optimize virtual machine performance and more efficiently use real disk space; it works with any virtual machine from Parallels, VMware and Microsoft "No matter which virtualization solution you use, Parallels VM Compactor can help you improve virtual machine performance and better manage physical and virtual disk space. The product works seamlessly with any virtual machines built with Parallels Workstation 2.1 for Windows, Linux or Mac OS X VMware Workstation, VMware GSX Server, VMware Server, MS Virtual PC, and MS Virtual Server." A free 30-day trial is available.
Apple today announced an expansion of its recycling program, offering free computer take-back and recycling with the purchase of a new Mac system beginning in June. US customers who buy a new Mac through the Apple Store or Apple's retail stores will receive free shipping and environmentally friendly disposal of their old computer as part of the Apple Recycling program. Equipment received by the program in the US is recycled domestically and no hazardous material is shipped overseas. Earlier this week, Apple was named a "Forward Green Leader," one of the top ten environmentally progressive companies recognized by the Sierra Club and its investment advisor, Forward Management.
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Apple to open R&D center in India
A new report says that Apple will be opening a new technology center in Hyderabad, India, helping to boost the city's growing reputation as a tech center. The facility would operate within the WaveRock facility, and create 4,500 new jobs at a cost of around $25 million. In 2015, India surpassed the $1 billion in yearly sales milestone, and Apple has recently received permission to open retail stores in the country under its own control, an exception to rules that usually block foreign ownership. http://zd.net/1SMBVu4
Google killing Picasa starting May 1
Google Photos head Anil Sabharwal confirmed in a blog post today that the search engine giant will be shutting down acquisition Picasa. Support and downloads for the desktop application will terminate on March 15 with the application continuing to work for the time being. The transition to Google Photos truly commences on May 1, with deprecation of some Picasa API calls happening shortly thereafter. Users that have Google Photos access will find their photos already migrated. A mass-download tool for users not wishing to use Google Photos will be available sometime after May 1. http://bit.ly/1SmV2KH
Rogue Amoeba Piezo updated, departing App Store
In order to continue working on audio capture tool Piezo, developer Rogue Amoeba has simultaneously updated the app to version 1.5, and announced that it will pull version 1.2.6 from the Mac App Store. Customers who own the Mac App Store version have a one-time migration process to the Rogue Amoeba-served version. The company notes that the sandboxing restriction placed on Mac App Store versions "effectively stopped our ability to upgrade Piezo in any meaningful way." [8.80MB] http://bit.ly/1PIjz7l
FCC spectrum auction will happen without Google
After throwing its hat in earlier, Google (and associated companies) has declared that it is not participating in this year's FCC spectrum auction. A company spokeswoman said of the auction that "like all those interested in improved connectivity and equitable access, we'll be following the upcoming spectrum auction closely. That said, we have not filed to participate." http://on.recode.net/1oy5LWk
iPad Air 3, iPhone 5se sold Friday after launch?
Reverting the way products are actually released by Apple after an announcement to the way it was a decade ago, reports are circulating that new products revealed at a March announcement will go on sale the Friday immediately following the unveil. Slated to appear at a conjectural Tuesday, March 15 event are a new Apple four-inch phone with more up to date internals currently referred to as the iPhone 5se, and a new iPad Air 3 model with Smart Connector and other enhancements. http://bit.ly/1o7mqiY
Lexmark prevails in toner import appeal
Printer manufacturer Lexmark has won an appeal on the third-party US resale of its printer cartridges originally destined for markets outside North America. The appeals court ruled in a 10-2 vote in favor of Lexmark's demand to stop the sale and against Impression Products, both on the toner cartridge resale matter, as well as a related matter regarding overturning the reseller's refilling one-use cartridges and selling those in the US market. The ruling has ramifications in the tech industry, as well as the pharmaceutical and medical technology markets. Impression Products promises an appeal before the supreme court. http://reut.rs/1SLVmmG
AT&T expands BOGO promo to iPhone 6s
Beginning today, new and existing AT&T customers can purchase a new iPhone 6s and get another one free when adding a second line. Over the weekend, customers must purchase two phones through AT&T Next (one can be an existing number), and add both phones to a qualified plan. AT&T notes that "after three bill cycles or less" the account will start to receive up to $650 spread out over 30 monthly bill credits to offset the cost of the installment plan for the phone. Taxes are due at time of sale. http://soc.att.com/1SLUP4k