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Digital Data Exchange
Apple, Microsoft, the big four music labels, and five others have joined together to form a new organization dedicated to developing and maintaining a robust framework of communication standards to support the digital distribution of digital content. Initially, the Digital Data Exchange ("DDEX") will focus on music and music-related assets; DDEX hopes to improve the efficiency of information sharing and transaction processing in the music supply chain through use of Standards. The membership organization will include EMI Music, Sony BMG Music, Warner Music Group, and Universal Music Group as well as music rights societies from the US, UK and Spain, The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP), The Harry Fox Agency, The MCPS-PRS Alliance Limited, Sociedad General de Autores y Editores. It will also be joined by the French society SACEM. Apple along with Microsoft and RealNetworks are the music service providers that have signed up.
iPod audio navigation
In another filing revealed today, Apple patented a system for automatic generation of audio navigation tags for an iPod. The tags would provide audio cues to navigating and selecting songs without viewing the iPod display. The tags could be used while driving, jogging, or during other activities when the iPod is not easily or conveniently accessible. According to Unwired View, the tags are generated from the metadata of music or video files. Appended automatically by many music services and audio programs, metadata contains the text-based informaion such as author, song name and duration, film director or lead actor name, etc. This text information is then converted using text-to-speech software into a small audio files--audio navigation tags--on your PC.
Wireless iTunes patent
A newly uncovered patent application by Apple appears to cover wireless iTunes distribution. It covers a method of buying a song, ring tone or music video from an online store over a wireless network, according to CNET News.com. Published on Thursday, but filed in December of 2004, the Apple patent describes an invention that allows cell phone or wireless handheld users to interact with an online music store--such as iTunes--and mark a song or video file that can be downloaded to a computer at a later time, according to the report. "The invention appears to be a way for Apple to capture revenue from music fans with short attention spans. For example, cell phone users on the go who hear a song might want to purchase that tune right away, but by the time they get back to their PC, they've forgotten the name of the song or the artist. According to the application, the invention would allow cell phone or wireless-PDA users to essentially bookmark a song or video on an online music store. Then, they return to their PC, they could download it over a fast network. If bandwidth permits, they might be able to download the song or file directly to their phone."
Apple commits to Aperture
Apple today dismissed rumors that the future of Aperture is up in the air, saying that company has more engineers working on the application than ever before. Debunking yet another report from Mac enthusiast site Think Secret, Apple said that the company saw tremendous support for Aperture at NAB in April and that it remains committed to making it the leading application for photographers. Adobe's Lightroom, currently in beta, has seen tremendous success with over 100,000 downloads and aims to take over the lucrative photography market. "The reports of Apple reducing their commitment to Aperture are totally false," Kirk Paulsen, Apple's Senior Director Pro Applications Marketing, told Macworld. "In fact, we've got more people working on Aperture right now than ever before.
15-inch Shuttle case ships
Higher Ground today unveiled a 15-inch version of the Shuttle notebook case. The new case boasts the same features as its 12-inch predecessor, allowing users to both stow and use the laptop without removing the device from its enclosure. The Shuttle case includes a "Cooldeck" for heat dissipation, and ships with a shoulder strap. A rigid frame and shock absorbing foam padding protect the notebook within, and all stress points are reinforced. The case uses fabrics covered with a heavy waterproof coating, and works with an optional backpack strap. The Shuttle 15-inch case is available for $50 in two different colors, while the backpack strap ships for $10.
Brian Moore Guitars today began shipping iGuitar.USB, the latest model in its lineup of technology-based guitars. "The iGuitar.USB model is the first guitar to offer on-board, class compliant USB audio to streamline the guitar to computer connection, eliminating the need for an external audio interface" Brian Moore Guitars President and iGuitar designer Patrick Cummings said. "This is what's next for the guitarist venturing into the digital home studio for learning and composing." The direct USB connection of the iGuitar.USB models allow instant access on both Macs and PCs to popular recording software, such as Apple's GarageBand and Logic programs. The devices provide direct access to guitars effect programs like Amplitube, and delivers a line level signal that does not require an external audio-interface or amplification (pricing and compatibility information was unavailable).
Apple\'s new ad campaign
Apple's new "Get A Mac" campaign has been praised for its focus on the advantages of the Mac, but one columnist believes that it is preaching to the choir and won't bring about any signficant changes in market share. Columnist Stan Beer of IT Wire remarks, "no-one appears to be stating the obvious - it's preaching to the converted. [...] Yes, the Mac is easier to use, more reliable, much better for music and movies and, despite recent controversy, much less of a security risk. Hasn't the general public known about most of these things since 1986? So how come the horribly unsophisticated, virus friendly Windows PC gets the nod 96 times out of 100 times someone walks into a computer shop?" Beer says that the answer is really quite simple, that most people use a Windows PC at work or school, so usually they don't want something different at home. Even with the capability to run Windows, Apple has begun alienating the masses with its ads, according to the column.
Aperture, Logic Express
Apple today posted an update to Aperture, its application for professional photographers. Aperture 1.1.1 Update, a free update to the $300 application, addresses several issues related to performance, stability, color correction, and display compatibility and is recommended for all Aperture users. Apple notes that users must first update to Aperture 1.1, released in mid-April with Universal Binary support as well as Mac OS X 10.4.6 or later before installing Aperture 1.1.1. In addition, the company posted Logic Express 7.2.1, an update that addresses isolated reliability and compatibility issues in the following areas: ReWire and ReCycle support, Standard MIDI file export, OMF import, VSL EXS instrument compatibility on Intel-based Macs, a blank Sample Editor window in some circumstances, unexpected pauses in software instrument output, compatibility with Logic 7.1 songs, direct playback of MP3 files, and EuCon support for the Euphonix MC and CM408T control surfaces.
VirusScan for Mactel 8.0
McAfee today announced anti-virus support for Intel-based Macs. McAfee VirusScan for Mactel 8.0 runs under Apple's Rosetta emulator to help protect Mac users from Macintosh and Windows-based viruses, Trojans and other malicious threats. According to McAfee Avert Labs, Mac platform vulnerabilities have increased more than 228 percent since 2003 due to the rising popularity of Apple's consumer products, notably the iPod media devices and iTunes media services. While the Mac OS X operating system still remains safer than Windows-based platforms, the rapid growth in critical vulnerabilities has forged the need for a more proactive approach to keep systems secure, especially in heterogeneous work environments. McAfee VirusScan for Mactel is designed to detect, block and clean infected emails and attachments, keeping systems free from these threats. It is now available worldwide and requires Mac OS X 10.4 or later. (Pricing not available.)
Aquafadas offers iDive 1.7
Aquafadas today released iDive 1.7, an update to its digital video catalog for Mac OS X. Version 1.7 offers the ability to print custom contact sheets with your clips, to print tape/CD/DVD covers from your catalog data, and to reconnect media files if they have been moved. In addition, it delivers other small improvements, an updated Spotlight plugin, and two new compositions for Mosaic, including Slideshow (view the Pictures of your videos as a simple no-fuss fullscreen slideshow) and Museum (a seemless promenade inside a museum with their videos on display). iDive offers a robust on-screen digital video shoebox to store clips and still images, offering innovative tools for simplifying navigation, visualization, tagging, storage, organization and retrieval of digital video clips and photos. iDive 1.7, a free update to registered users of v1.5, is available for $70 (along with a free upgrade to v2.0). Upgrades for previous owners are $30.
ZFS for desktops
Following news that Apple is considering porting Sun's ZFS file system to Mac OS X, one system administrator has posted a list of reasons to use ZFS on home systems alongside server installations. "I'm getting annoyed at people that keep saying ZFS is okay for servers but I don't need it for home," wrote James Dickens of UNIX Admin Corner. ZFS is Sun Microsystem's modern performance file system, developed for the Solaris 10 operating system to offer extremely fast performance, support for virtually unlimited capacity, advanced data integrity routines, and more. The blog entry compares setting up a RAID mirroring backup system in Linux to a similar mirroring system using ZFS, depicting the ease of the latter compared to the former. "In ZFS we execute two or three commands and we are done," Dickens noted.
Columnist on Mac security
With all the negative publicity surrounding the security of Mac OS X, Apple's recent "Get a Mac" TV ads managed to spawn another round of debates within computer security circles about how secure the Mac actually is. Columnist Arik Hesseldahl of BusinessWeek online points to a recent update from the SANS Institute, which suggests that a rapid growth of critical vulnerabilities in Mac OS X are being discovered. The columnist also cites the "hack-my-Mac contest" where a Mac mini weathered 38 hours of attacks, as well as the two trojan horses that were discovered in the wild which were labeled viruses. "They weren't viruses at all, but rather Trojan horse programs that did nothing more than replicate themselves, and didn't even do that well," the columnist wrote. "Symantec said they had documented only a handful of users actually receiving the Trojan."
Apple store anniversary
In brief: MacNN has offered its first impressions of the Pacific Design Backpack ($60), a bag designed to tote a notebook computer with numerous pockets and a single-handled push-button curved trolley handle.... Steve Jobs is mulling whether to attend the grand opening of the NYC flagship store in Manhattan on or near May 19th, which will mark the five-year anniversary of the company's first retail store.... Bare Bones Software today announced a new offer on Yojimbo for StickyBrain customers, allowing them to purchase a family license at the single-user license price through the end of May.... Adobe today announced the first Macromedia Flash Professional 8 Roadshow, designed to provide creative professionals an overview of the benefits of Flash Professional 8.... A MacNN reader has informed us that a sign has been erected along the side of Highway 72 in Huntsville, AL next to the La-Z-Boy furniture store, featuring the Apple logo and the words "Coming soon..."
Speed Download, BetterZip
Speed Download 4.0.1 ($25) updates the download manager for Mac OS X, improving compatibility and performance while adding a number of key features. Version 4.0.1 offers new filters, addresses a number of compatibility issues with built-in FTP functionality, and includes internal tweaks to "Smart Folders."
[Download - 3.5MB]
BetterZip 1.0 ($20) is a sleek new archiving tool with a graphical user interface. BetterZip lets users quickly inspect archives without first extracting the contents, and can add or extract files via drag-and-drop or delete files from archives. [Download - 848KB]
SyncupX 1.6 ($20) is a free update to the spotlight-powered backup application. SyncupX syncs files to external hard drives, network sharepoints, removable USB devices, and more. The software is easy to set up and supports backing up Spotlight "saved searches," archiving deleted or changed items, file exclusion, and more. [Download - 620KB]
SyBrowser 7.6 ($90) allows users to browse Sybase, SQLite, MySQL, Oracle, PostgreSQL and MS SQL databases hosted on UNIX, Linux, and Windows servers. The update features a new "Reveal In Finder" menu that opens a document's parent folder, a faster more accurate syntax highlighting editor, and a delete button in the SQL history dialog. [Download - 4MB]
DX Toolbox 2.7.0 ($25) updates the radio propagation/conditions analysis and forecasting tool for amateur radio operators, shortwave listeners, and other radio enthusiasts. Version 2.7.0 adds improvements to the Grid Square Calculator, tools to import the longitudes and latitudes of station locations, and several bug fixes. [Download - 3.2MB]
ScriptFire 184.108.40.206 ($60) is a tool enabling users to trigger and schedule script execution from within FileMaker. The update offers improved samples and documentation for field validation and record events, while a dedicated example file shows how to invoke scripts whenever a record is created, viewed, edited or deleted. Version 220.127.116.11 also fixes a bug that caused FileMaker to crash when unloading the plug-in. [Download - [form]]
1.5TB RAID solution ships
Other World Computing (OWC) today began shipping its first dual-HD external FireWire RAID drive with a storage capacity of 1.5TB. The new 1.5TB Elite-AL 800 Pro RAID model is solidly build with a sleek aluminum design to optimize durability and function in a portable and compact enclosure, measuring 9.0 x 2.8 x 5.8-inches. OWC also lowered the prices of its 320GB ($260, down from $280), 500GB ($320, down from $330), 640GB ($370, down from $390), 800GB ($550, down from $580), and 1TB ($750, down from $800) Mercury Elite-AL Pro FireWire 800 RAID dual drive models. Elite-AL Pro 800 RAID solutions have two FireWire 800 ports, one FireWire 400 port, and are shipped ready for Plug-and-Play operation with all necessary cables, EMC Retrospect Backup software, Intech HD Speedtools utility suite, and a two-year warranty. The new 1.5TB model is available for $1,150.
EnzymeX, iRNAi updated
MekenTosj.com today released updates to EnzymeX, iRNAi, and the XGrid@Stanford dashboard widget. EnzymeX 3.1 updates the DNA sequence editor by fixing all known bugs, bringing numerous improvements, and adding a number of new features such as Spotlight support and a new file browser. The update to the RNAi oligo design utility offers better printing support, as well as the ability to read the new EnzymeX exdna files. The latest iteration of the XGrid@Stanford widget is completely rewritten, and includes new features such as skins, as well as the ability to directly see the actual status of a computer as a client. All three software items are available for free, with EnzymeX requiring Mac OS X 10.3 or later, iRNAi requires Mac OS X 10.3 or later, and the XGrid@Stanford widget requiring Mac OS X 10.4 or later.
Voice Candy 1.0 released
Potion Factory as released Voice Candy 1.0 for Mac OS X, a fun and useful recorder for the Mac. "It does for the microphone what Apple's Photo Booth does for the webcam. Voice Candy makes recording enjoyable by providing eight different effects, such as Vader and Chipmunk, to alter the speaker's voice. Once you have made the recording, you can use it to set a reminder, send an email, or take it with you on your iPod. You can also extend the capabilities of Voice Candy by writing AppleScripts to integrate with other applications." Voice Candy can run as a menu bar application and wake your Mac from sleep when it's time for your reminder. A global keyboard shortcut can be set to enable you to easily start and stop recording at any time. It sells for $13 and is available as a 15-day trial.
Print Explosion Deluxe 3.0
Nova Development today announced the retail release of Print Explosion Deluxe 3.0 for the Macintosh, offering a dramatically enhanced user interface, Universal Binary support, more than 13,000 new design templates, and numerous iLife integration features. This latest edition integrates with Apple's iLife applications, allowing users to browse and import their iPhoto libraries, import iTunes playlists to produce professional-looking CD and DVD labels, and mail merge functions to automatically personalize and send greeting cards to people in Mac OS X Address Book. Version 3 can also create digital scrapbooks using hundreds of photorealistic scrapbook embellishments as well as easy-to-customize scrapbook templates and more than 100,000 Art Explosion clip art images. It is available now for $50 (before a $10 mail-in rebate) and requires Mac OS X 10.2 or later.
Camino, TiVo Desktop
Camino 1.01 (free) is an update to the open source-web browser that fixes several critical security issues, including those fixed in version 18.104.22.168 of the Mozilla Gecko rendering engine as well as upgrades the bundled Java Embedding Plugin to version 0.9.5+d, offers Improved ad-blocking, enables the opening of local SVG files, and fixes an issue where Camino on Intel-based Macs was unable to read Keychain entries stored by Camino on PowerPC-based Macs. [Download - 20MB]
OmniOutliner 3.6 ($40) is a free update the popular outlining and note-taking application; the Professional version offers improved compatibility with kGTD (Kinkless Getting Things Done), a free set of AppleScripts produced by Ethan Schoonover that work with OmniOutliner Professional to create a framework for implementing David Allen's Getting Things Done task-management methodology. All Mac hardware bundle customers can download OmniOutliner 3.6 at no charge, and can take advantage of discounted pricing to upgrade to OmniOutliner Professional ($70). [Download - options]
TiVo Desktop 1.9.3 is a Universal Binary version of the desktop software that includes support for Digital Music & Photos (but not TivoToGo transfers). It is available for the Mac OS X, v10.3 and later and requires a networked TiVo Series2 DVR, iTunes 3.0.1 or later required for music; and iPhotos 5 or later required for photos. [Download - 620KB]
Hardware Monitor 3.5 (7€) is an application to read out all available hardware sensors in Mac, supporting more than 100 different Mac hardware sensors and more than 200 hard drive temperature sensors. In addition, it can also store and export readings. The release adds artificial software sensors to monitor other system aspects as well as support for control external alphanumeric LC display modules, ACPI-compliant battery units of non-Apple computers, and more. Temperature Monitor, also updated, is available for free, but is limited to accessing temperature sensors only. [Download - 2.8MB]
ArtRage 2.11 ($20), available in English and French, features a number of fixes as well as new features such as drybrushing, an improved palette knife, and new keyboard shortcuts. ArtRage contains four new paint tools, the ability to paint on multiple layers, metallic paint, tracing images, reference images, metallic paint, canvas control, custom colors, cursors, resizing, Photoshop document support, multi-monitor support, and more. The free ArtRage version includes a limited set of features. It runs on Mac OS X 10.3 or later. [Download - 3.4MB]
Navicat 6.2.1 ($100) for MySQL is the latest iteration of its database management tool supporting HTTP Tunnel, MySQL version 5.X and Triggers. Primary features of Navicat include a visual query builder; SSH/ HTTP tunneling for remote database connectivity; server-to-server database transfers; data and structure synchronization; import/export of most popular data formats to and from MySQL; task scheduling; and easy-to-use "wizards" to migrate data. It runs on Mac OS X 10.3 or later and on Intel-based Macs. [Download - 5.4MB]
MacBook Pro outclassed
Apple's MacBook Pro loses in CNET's nine-round face-off against the the PC competition, the Acer TravelMate 8200. Apple's laptop wins several rounds, including for Design ("for its innovative usability features, stunning good looks, and compact profile"), Display ("beautiful MacBook Pro display takes this round, though its text rendering is not a knockout"), Software ("includes hundreds of dollars of equivalent PC software"); however, Apple's popular laptop loses in several categories: Features ("overpowering the MacBook Pro with a profusion of ports, superfluity of slots, and competent connections"), Performance ("for outrunning the MacBook Pro on every performance test but one"), Battery life ("by a nose [the TravelMate] held out 8 minutes longer than the MacBook Pro"), and Price ("cost $400 less than the similarly configured MacBook Pro"). The laptops draw in the Warranty and support category: "Both laptops are backed by industry-standard one-year warranties, but Acer's support site is weak and Apple's phone support miserly. This round is a draw."
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