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Micromat today announced TechTool Pro 4.5, a Universal Binary of the system and volume diagnostic/repair and recovery utility that features the innovative eDrive (emergency startup partition) feature. Version 4.5.1 will include improved Disk Controller test routines as well dual-boot compatibility for operation on both Intel- and PowerPC-based Macs. The program will ship on a DVD that automatically boot the correct system version. The company says that an updater from earlier versions will not be available due "to the sheer size of the program and system files;" however, a DVD update will be available to current customers for $25 and will be automatically mailed for free to current subscribers of the TechTool Quarterly subscription service. It will ship in July for $100 with upgrades priced at $60. A public beta is now available for current owners of TechTool Pro 4.
Google today released the first Mac version of the free version of SketchUp 5.026 along with the latest version of Google Earth, the free desktop mapping solution. The easy-to-learn 3D modeling program enables users to explore the world in 3D. "With just a few simple tools, you can create 3D models of houses, sheds, decks, home additions, woodworking projects - even space ships." Google SketchUp, currently in beta, is free for personal use, while the SketchUp Pro, approved for commercial use, adds advanced features such as print/draw images at higher-than-screen resolution, expot to 3D export formats (e.g., DWG, DXF, 3DS, OBJ, XSI, VRML and FBX), export animations and walkthroughs as MOV (Mac) or AVI (Windows) files, and use either the Sandbox Tools (for organic modeling of terrain, etc) and the Film & Stage Tools. The $500 Pro version also includes free email tech support for two years from purchase. The free software is not yet available as a Universal Binary, but requires Mac OS X 10.3 or later (and a 100% OpenGL-complaint video card).
In Brief: Apple has expanded its original "Get a Mac" TV ad campaign to include three new commercials, including "Macs do Windows too," (touting Apple's Boot Camp), "Make amazing stuff" (extolling Apple's iApps) and "Awesome out of the box" (a "plug n' play" solution)--all of which are now available at Apple.com.... Several owners of Apple's new MacBook computers are expressing concerns after noticing that portions of their shiny white notebooks have inexplicably turned shades of orange.... There are new Illustrator CS2-compatible demos of FlexoStepX, the step and repeat software that can create custom die configurations and completely automate the task of stepping, repeating, distorting, and adding printer's marks and job info.... Blackmagic has released new version 5.6 software for all Multibridge and DeckLink products, bringing support for Fusion 5 as well as 720/50p native support for Adobe Production Studio, realtime HDV monitoring for Adobe Premiere Pro 2.0, and performance/stability improvements.... MacPractice has added support for Windows digital radiography and cosmetic imaging software Cadi through the use of Parallels’ Desktop for Mac to its practice management solution for Mac OS X, offering integration and support for OpTime and ScanX phosphor plate systems, Schick, PlanMeca and Sorona sensors, and several Panoramic solutions.
SonoSite today announced that it will allow clinicians to refresh their training in specific ultrasound-guided procedures and goal-oriented examinations by viewing refresher courses on Apple's video iPod. "The rising cost of healthcare demands that physicians become more efficient, particularly at the point of care. This requires that they retain an extraordinary amount of information," said Daniel D. Price, MD and a staff emergency physician at Highland General Hospital in Oakland, California. "As a result, we see a great need for assistive tools that can fit in a lab coat pocket." Dr. Price and another individual will be presenting results from their study that examined the effectiveness of a brief bedside hand-held audio/video tutorial, used to teach emergency medicine interns and residents to identify the brachial plexus with hand-carried ultrasound for the administration of regional anesthesia in emergency situations.
National Semiconductor today capped off its most successful fiscal year in history by giving every one of its 8,500 employees a 30GB video iPod. The devices will be used as a new training and communications tool at National, according to the company, providing a convenient real-time method for employees to download company podcasts and other employee communications. "We're looking for new and more effective ways to communicate with our employees -- and the iPods will help us do both," said Brian L. Halla, National's chairman and CEO. The firm announced record operating profits and gross margin last Thursday for its Q4 and fiscal year 2006 financial results. The Company's 1,600 Santa Clara employees celebrated the milestones at National's annual employee picnic Friday afternoon, where Halla announced the Company's iPod communications program at the picnic.
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment has announced that it will release the James Bond Ultimate Edition DVD Collection on July 17th, offering sharper sound and images for all 20 James Bond movies which were remastered by DTS Digital Images using an installation of 600 Power Mac G5 systems. "Certainly, the Mac is the only computer that's touched this project," said Mike Inchalik, vice president of strategy and marketing for DTS Images. The company deployed 700TB of storage to support the project -- which took two and a half years to complete, according to Macworld UK -- scanning at a resolution of 4,000 x 3,000 pixels, which made each frame of every movie amount to 45MB in size. "Historically, when I joined the company it had about 200 Power Mac G4s. It was refreshing how reliable they were," Inchalik said.
Backbone Networks today released Backbone Radio Pro 4.1, its turnkey internet radio station software suite that now runs natively on Intel-based Macs as a Universal Binary. The latest iteration of the software is specifically aimed at increasing the revenue opportunities of online radio stations, with features such as clickable images/text and demographic feedback. Backbone Radio Pro 4.1 is compatible with iTunes to integrate automatic podcast generation into the radio mix. Broadcasters can simultaneously webcast streaming programs while using the software to create, annotate, and post podcasts made from the program material. The software creates podcast chapters and inserts images specific to each chapter, which are playable on iPod Photo or fifth-generation iPod models. Backbone Radio Pro 4.1 is priced at $4,500, and requires Mac OS X 10.3.9 or later.
In brief: A tech columnist has commented on Apple's new MacBooks, saying that the notebook "leaves its predecessors in the dust" and ranks as one of Apple's most anticipated laptops ever.... Photoshop World Conference & Expo -- which is held September 7-9th at the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino in Las Vegas -- is offering an advance registration discount of $100 now through Friday, August 4th.... The FastIcon today released a new icon set for Mac Soccer fans' desktops entitled "World Cup 2006," containing six freeware icons.... A new report states that Apple's iPods are constructed primarily by female employees who earn as little as $50 per month, but who work 15 hours per day.... ezGear today debuted the ezVision Video iWear ($400, shown at right) for Apple's iPod video and video gaming systems.
Art Collector 1.0 ($8, or $13 for "Menuet") enables users to find and apply album art to a music library by selecting the albums and dropping in preferred album art. Art Collector automatically retrieves album art via Amazon.com, and offers full-sized images when previews are double clicked. [Download - 205KB] iOrganize 6.2 ($20) updates the organization tool, offering a redesigned user interface for faster searching and editing. iOrganize 6.2 runs natively on both PowerPC and Intel-based Macs as a Universal binary, featuring Spotlight support as well as iPod export. [Download - 1.1MB] MultiMod OSX 5.7.0 ($90) allows Mac systems to decode and transmit several different modes of non-voice communication often heard on shortwave and ham radio. The update includes a major re-write of the SSTV (Slow Scan TV) decoding package, which substantially improves detection of SSTV images, especially under poor reception conditions. [Download - 899KB] PopCopy ($12) resides in the menubar, providing a full clipboard/pasteboard history that is conveniently accessible. Users can preview/store pictures, files, and text which were previously copied into the clipboard from the menu. Pressing Cmd+Shift+V cycles through preview, select, and paste functions for previously copied items from a special hotkey interface. [Download - 124KB] Vienna 2.1 (free) is an open source RSS/Atom newsreader for Mac OS X that features a built-in tabbed browser and smart folders for organizing related feed articles. Version 2.1 introduces a unified layout, article filtering, manual folder reordering, an improved browser bar, a new get info window, and an enhanced condensed layout. [Download - 2.3MB] F-Script 1.3.3 (donationware) is an open-source scripting environment specifically designed for Cocoa and targeted at Cocoa developers. The update runs natively on Intel Macs as a Universal Binary, and offers an enhanced object browser with support for Cocoa Bindings. F-Script 1.3.3 also includes a new version of F-Script Anywhere, a tool for exploring, debugging, scripting, and manipulating applications from within. [Download - 11.5MB]
Splasm Software has released ViddyUp! 1.6, updating the MPEG-4 and H.264 export tool for video iPod owners formerly known at "Podner." ViddyUp! can make video clips work with iTunes via drag-and-drop, and enables users to tweak various video settings prior to conversion. ViddyUp! 1.6 features SubRip (SRT) subtitle support, a more informative error display, and minor appearance tweaks. ViddyUp! 1.6 is priced at $10, and requires Mac OS X 10.3.9 or later. Alternatively, MP4Converter.com has released iPod Video Converter for Mac, its audio and video conversion software for iPod. The software features multi-threading support as well as batch conversion, and is free to use before June 30th as a beta. iPod Video Converter requires a G4 or better processor and Mac OS X 10.4 or later.
One Mac developer has released Telekinesis, an application designed to enhance control of Apple's Front Row Remote. Telekinesis allows users to bind each button on the remote to any desired key combination, offering support for modifier keys such as command, option, control, and shift. The software produces an Apple remote graphic in the menubar from which users can enable or disable the utility as well as configure key settings. Telekinesis is available for $7 (system requirements were unavailable).
Apple has managed to increase sales much faster than the industry average in Europe and the UK, according to new data from analysts at IDC Research. "In the UK and Western Europe, Apple shipment growths outperformed the overall PC market in both notebook and desktop form factors in Q1 2006," said Michael Larner, senior research analyst at IDC. Mac notebooks drove UK sales, taking 3.4 percent of the market for a 50 percent year-over-year gain. Mac desktop sales also rose, despite industry stagnation, as the overall value of the desktop computer market dropped 6.16 percent year-over-year, according to Macworld UK. Apple has also maintained a strong hold in the education, graphics, and media markets, led by its notebooks. "The refresh of Apple's product lines, in particular in the notebook space, along with the move to Intel processors should help drive continued expansion throughout 2006, in both the consumer and business space," said IDC research director Karine Paoli.
Protestors over the weekend gathered at eight Apple Stores across the U.S. to inform the public about the company's Digital Rights Management (DRM) scheme. Participants wore brightly-colored Hazardous Materials (HazMat) suits, marching or standing outside the stores holding signs and giving away informational flyers. DefectiveByDesign announced plans last Friday to gather in San Francisco, Seattle, Boston, Chicago, Long Island, and New York to warn customers of the dangers of DRM in Apple's iPod/iTunes. Protests took place between 10:00 a.m. and noon, with participants arguing that it is unreasonable that purchasers of music on iTunes are not allowed to resell music once they are finished with it as they could with physical media, according to a report by Digital-Lifestyles.info.
A new report entitled "The iPod City" states that Apple's iPods are constructed primarily by female employees who earn as little as $50 per month, but who work 15 hours per day. Foxconn's Longhua plant employs 200,000 workers who live in dormitories -- each housing 100 people -- which do not permit visitors from outside world, according to Macworld UK. Another factory in Suzhou, Shanghai rolls out iPod shuffles with workers who are housed outside the facility. Employees earn roughly $100 per month, but must pay for accommodations and food, which consumes half of their salaries. One security guard said that the Shuffle production lines are staffed by women workers because "they are more honest than male workers," while Apple's iPod nano is manufactured in a five-story factory that is secured by police officers, according to the report.
ezGear today debuted the ezVision Video iWear for Apple's iPod video and video gaming systems. The ezVision iWear is a complete Video system that simulates a wide screen view for the iPod, featuring a 50-inch view with a rechargeable Lithium Ion battery offering up to eight hours of functionality. The device features built-in stereo earbuds, support for gaming/DVD player output, complete privacy during usage, two nose pieces, and a lightweight design to enhance comfort. Users can wear ezVision over eyeglasses, and the unit ships with an iPod interconnect cable to connect a video iPod. ezVision Video iWear is slated for shipment later this month with the iWear glasses with dual video screens, an RCA video connection cable for DVDs and other video, and an AC wall charger for $400.
Motorola is prepping the launch of the third-generation version of its iTunes phones in the US. The company this month began distributing marketing materials that advertise an iTunes-compatible version of its popular RAZR phone and has already begun selling the phone in the UK. In November of last year, the company announced the quad-band Motorola RAZR V3i, the third mobile phone from the company to run iTunes mobile software -- a result of the joint partnership between the two companies that began last year with the release of the first iTunes ROKR phone, which was called a flop by industry analysts and the media. Despite the failures, however, many industry analysts believe that music-enabled cell phones will challenge the iPod-dominated MP3 player market.
Aspyr Media today announced that it will publish the third expansion pack for The Sims 2: Open for Business is licensed from Electronic Arts and will be developed by Aspyr Studios: "Your Sims can create virtually any kind of business, from a trendy clothing boutique, hip beauty salon, blooming floral shop, high-end electronics store, or bustling restaurant chain. Hire staff as the business grows and put talented Sims to work in a variety of different jobs, from making toys and running the register, to crafting floral bouquets and manufacturing robots. From clever tinkerer to master craftsman, develop your Sim¹s talents to best suit your business needs. Will they build a thriving business empire or become eccentric entrepreneurs designing the next big thing?" It will ship in September for $35 (system requirements not yet available).
OmniPilot has officially released Lasso Professional Server 8.5 (LP 8.5), the latest version of the company's Web scripting programming language. LP 8.5 offers Universal Binary support for native operation on Intel-based Macs; adds support for Web 2.0 techniques for modern dynamic web design; supports several native data sources including: Microsoft SQL Server, PostgreSQL, Oracle, MySQL, SQLite, ODBC, Filemaker and OpenBase; offers built-in LDAP integration; support native access to the OS shell; and offers enhanced email notification and site administration. LP 8.5 retails for $650, and upgrades start at $350. OmniPilot offers a free license of LP 8.5 to Premier Members of the Lasso Professional Alliance (LPA). OmniPilot also released Chart FX for Lasso, which enables developers to add graphically dynamic charts to their Web applications quickly and easily.
One Mac user has replaced the standard CPU in a Mac mini with a Core 2 Duo Merom running at 2.16GHz, and has posted benchmarks in a Taiwanese forum. The modified Mini beat out both a dual 1.8GHz G5 and a dual 2.5GHz G5 in an iTunes MP3 to AAC conversion, according to macenstein, despite the Mac mini's slower hard drive. A 26 action test in Photoshop 7 reveals positive results for Apple's low-end desktop system, especially since Photoshop requires Rosetta to translate PPC its instructions for the Intel-based chip. The CPU upgrade may be the easiest in Apple's history, according to the report, because the newer Intel chips run cooler than their predecessors.
Fetch Softworks has released Fetch 5.1, a new Universal Binary version of its popular internet file transfer application. Built to run on Apple's new Intel-based Macintosh computers, it also features new support for the Dashboard and Automator technologies of Mac OS X 10.4 "Tiger." The new "dog bone" Dashboard widget lets users conveniently upload files and monitor file transfer progress. Fetch 5.1's eleven Automator actions can upload, download, move, filter,rename, delete and set permissions of files on FTP and SFTP servers, allowing the creation of simple and powerful workflows. Fetch 5.1 supports transfers using the File Transfer Protocol (FTP) or SSH File Transfer Protocol (SFTP). It is compatible with Mac OS X 10.3.9 or later and is a free upgrade to current users. Fetch 5.1 is free to try for 15 days; a single-user license is $25 (upgrades from v4 are $15).
In brief: MacNN has reviewed Popcorn 2 ($50, shown at right), Roxio's DVD burning software.... Michael Bartosh, a friend to many in the Mac community and a source of much information about Mac OS X Server, fell to his accidental death early Sunday morning from a friend's balcony in Tokyo, Japan.... John Dvorak said on a video blog at the Vloggercon party that he deliberately "pisses Mac users off" to get flow for his stories.... One columnist is pleading with iPod accessory manufacturers to "stop the iPod madness...." DincTYPE has released 11 free limited edition fonts which include 143, Alvin, Gomer, Rufus, Egg Cream, an updated version of Dialtone, Bob Dylan's Beard, and more.... RNSK Softronics has released a Peanut Gallery Demo, allowing users to try the online interactive multi-user movie theater simulation software ($35) before they buy.
Macgamefiles.com is hosting a Mac demo of Cars, based on Pixar's new movie: "Driven to succeed, Lightning McQueen the hotshot rookie race-car is headed across country to take on the Piston Cup Championship. But along the way, McQueen gets sidetracked in the sleepy town of Radiator Springs-where he gets to know some of the most offbeat characters around. And where they help him realize there are more important things than trophies and fame. So fasten your seat belt and get ready for wildly fast and funny adventures with all your favorite characters from the Disney/Pixar blockbuster ³Cars.'" It features more than 30 races and mini-games and more than 10 playable characters. The title supports multiplayer mode and offers voices of Paul Newman, Owen Wilson, Bonnie Hunt, Cheech Marin, Larry the Cable Guy and more. It runs on Mac OS X 10.3 or later (and 1.2GHz G4-based Mac or faster).
Biovolution today unveiled iMap 3.5, a free update to its mapping application. iMap is designed to map large amounts of latitude/longitude data, or US ZIP codes. These data can be imported from databases, spreadsheets or GPS receivers, while database queries can be used to map only a subset of the records or to filter the records for a certain criterion--data can be represented as symbols, charts or images. Version 3.5 adds more than 20 new features, improvements and bug fixes. The application and its standard plugins are now Universal, running at native speed on new Intel-based Macs. In addition, iMap now imports industry standard GPX files for importing GPS data and records can now be exported to KML for integration with Google Earth. iMap now includes a Spotlight-plugin and offers expanded online help and new demonstration movies. A single-user license is available for $200. It runs on Mac OS X 10.3 or later.
Insider Software today announced its new QuarkXPress 7 auto-activation XTension. FontAgent Pro automatically locates and activates the fonts that are required in any QuarkXPress 7 document. The new Quark XTension is available at no extra charge to licensed users of FontAgent Pro font utility. In addition, Insider has updated its font auto-activation XTensions software for the Universal Binary version of QuarkXPress 7, scheduled for release later this year. Designed for creative professionals, FontAgent Pro provides a complete font-management system that integrates diagnostics, repair utilities, font-selection capabilities, font book creation features, and design tools in one powerful, simple application. FontAgent Pro is available in standalone, workgroup, or server versions. The new server version automatically updates users and groups across the enterprise. Licensed users of FontAgent Pro can download the QuarkXPress 7 XTensions software at no charge.
Trans Intl. today introduced new 2.5-inch Serial-ATA drives designed for Apple's MacBook and MacBook Pros. "With the industry's lowest idle power and enhancements to the mechanical and electrical design, these 5400 and 7200 rpm drives with outstanding shock characteristics, extremely efficient power consumption, whisper quiet acoustics, and a range of speeds and capacities are ideal choice for MacBook, MacBook pro and other laptop applications," the company says on its website. The drives are available in both 5,400 rpm and 7,200 rpm models and inclue a 8MB data buffer to improve performance. The Western Digital Scorpio is available in a 120GB capacity (5,400 rpm/12.5 ms seek) for $150, while the 100GB Hitachi TravelStar 100GB (7,200rpm, 10.5ms) is $190. The 100GB Seagate Momentous 100GB (7,200rpm, 10.5 ms) is $10 more at $200.
Artlandia has released Artlandia SymmetryShop, a new plugin for pattern design from within Adobe Photoshop that relieves the designer from the tedium of manually creating repeating patterns. The new plugin extends the technology, originally created for Illustrator with SymmetryWorks, to Photoshop: SymmetryShop creates patterns of all seventeen symmetries and allows the designer to produce an even richer repertoire of popular repeat types with a single-click. The built-in library includes drop, diamond, spot, grid, gradation, and scale repeats for the same broad range of applications. Once created, patterns can be instantly converted from one repeat type to another while pattern parameters can be interactively adjusted, either from within the plugin or directly in Photoshop. It allows for unlimited iterations and refinement, with the design process spanning multiple sessions for producing complex, real-life pattern designs. It supports Photoshop 6 or later is $265 (electronic) or $291 (on CD).
MaxUpgrades today announced the availability of its MaxExpress, a two-port External eSATA PCI-Express Host Adapter for PCI Express-based G5 Power Macs. The company says that each eSATA Port is capable of transferring 3Gb/s and supports sustained data rates up to 65MB/sec per channel. "The MaxUpgrades MaxExpress eSATA PCI-Express adapter is particularly well-suited for users who need two or four independent external SATA Data Channels -- to attain 125+ MB/sec or 250+ MB/sec sustained data transfer rates for most demanding application such as DV, HDV, DVCPRO HD, 8-bit and 10-bit uncompressed video editing," the company said. The MaxExpress eSATA Adapter supports RAID 0/1 and is compatible with Mac OS X v10.4 “Tiger.” It is available now for $50. MaxUpgrades also offers MaxExpress with two internal SATA II ports that allows user to add two or four SATA II drives RAID internally in G5 Power Macintosh (PCI Express).
Now AAPL Stock: 93.99 ( + 0.29 )
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