Miniot has unveiled a limited edition of its natural protection for Apple's 30GB video iPod and special U2 iPod, dubbed iWood Red. Users who purchase the iWood case can choose a monogram along with a personalized two-line message to be carved into the case, and the iWood offers accessibility to the iPod's headphone jack (up to 10mm) as well as the dock connector. A concealed steel hinge and small magnets keep the wood tightly shut to protect the player within, and the iWood Red allows users to sync the iPod while it remains inside the case. Crafted from natural red padouk wood, iWood Red is available for $100 until June 30th.
JS8 Media has released ReelBean 1.1, an update to the company's media converter and player software. ReelBean converts movies from numerous formats to those which will play on Apple's video iPod, and offers support for exporting movies to many of the most popular formats, according to JS8. ReelBean 1.1 adds extra video and audio conversion types to the export drawer. The update improves the appearance of the export drawer, and adds a button for saving the current video frame in an image file. ReelBean 1.1 also fixes a bug with the sizing of shadows in movies with a very small width, which previously caused the time field to overlap player controls. ReelBean 1.1 is priced at $10, and requires Mac OS X 10.4 or later.
Case-mate has launched the Patriot case, a protective cover for Apple's iPod that features an American Flag or Camouflage designs. A portion of the proceeds from the Patriot case line goes directly to the United Service Organizations of Georgia, which funds 120 locations around the world. The form-fit cases are made from genuine Napa leather, featuring an injection molded plastic shell for protection. The case offers cutouts for access to all iPod functionality, such as the clickwheel and Dock connector. Patriot cases ship with a removable belt clip, a full face screen protector, a scrollwheel protector, an applicator card, and a micro fiber cleaning cloth. Patriot cases are available for fifth-generation iPod with video ($30) as well as iPod nano (25).
REAL Software today released the French version of REALbasic Release 2 for Mac and Windows systems. REALbasic is a full-featured software development environment suited for creating all kinds of applications, and offers cross-platform compilation capability to create software for Mac, Linux, and Windows systems. "We very recently established our European headquarters in France and now we are releasing the French version of REALbasic," stated Geoff Perlman, president and CEO of REAL Software. "This launch confirms our commitment to the French-speaking community and underscores our intent to become a major provider of cross-platform development tools and services in Europe." REALbasic 2006 Release 2 is available from $100, and requires Mac OS X 10.2.8 or later.
BOOQ today introduced its Python XM bianco, large-capacity backpack designed for Apple's 15- and 17-inch MacBook Pro as well as other 15-inch laptops. Each Python XM bianco features a white ballistic nylon exterior and a walnut brown interior with beige stitching. The backpack offers a rigid frame laptop compartment, a variety of padded compartments for miscellaneous items, and a dedicated iPod pocket with a non-scratch lining. BOOQ's pack measures 17 x 16.5 x 8-inches, and weighs four pounds. The Python XM bianco is available for $200, and usually ships within 24 hours.
Belkin today debuted TuneDeck, offering an all-in-one in-car audio solution for mounting, powering, and playing Apple's iPod nano. The device plugs into a cassette deck to play audio through the car stereo, and includes a mounting option that rotates to allow easy viewing of the Nano's screen. The accessory works with most car tape players, powers as well as charges the iPod through an included mobile power cord, and secures the iPod with a custom cradle. TuneDeck for iPod nano features an inner-magnetic shake-resistant design, and is priced at $50. TuneDeck is slated for shipment in North America in July of this year, with launches in Asia, Europe, and Australia to follow shortly thereafter.
Scientists at the CERN international particle physics laboratory in Geneva have turned to Apple technology in a major global project to help improve humankind's understanding of the structure of the universe. Intel Macs will be used to measure what happens when particles collide at near the speed of light. The ALICE experiment (A Large Ion Collider Experiment) is one of five engineered to create collisions produced by CERN's Large Hadron Collider (LHC), the world's largest particle accelerator that will collide beams of protons with 14 TeV of energy. The five experiments will handle nearly 10 petabytes of data per year, or as much data as the entire European telecommunications network handles today.
Despite the bright future with Apple's new line of Intel Macs, another school is moving away from the Mac platform and some teachers argue that the administrative decision is not the best thing for the kids. Baltimore City Schools are replacing the Macs in their graphic design and multimedia labs with Windows-based PCs, according to The Baltimore Sun. "During spring break, the school system converted Mac computer labs at the Western School of Technology and Environmental Science, where Peach teaches. By fall, 11 programs at 10 schools will move to PCs, at a cost of more than $1 million, said Rhonda Hoyman, supervisor of technical programs in the Office of Career and Technology Education." The administration claims that the move will save tech support money in the long run by standardizing on a single platform. The school reportedly considered keeping a few Macs in each classroom but abandoned the plan because of the cost.
iDictionary 1.1 ($7) enables users to create a custom dictionary and/or thesaurus for a third=generation or newer iPod. The update adds a "Created Dictionaries" window that allows users to view and select all previously created dictionaries to easily copy them to an iPod. iDictionary 1.1 also features user interface improvements to dictionary as well as iPod selection tables. [Download - 1.1MB] ImageBuddy 3.6.0 ($20) is a free upgrade to the photo printing program that adds enhancements to Page Layouts with custom image sizes. ImageBuddy 3.6.0 enhances photo watermarking for both Contact Sheet as well as Page Layout printing, and offers drag-and-drop support from iPhoto. [Download - 6.1MB] Synergy 2.9 ($10) updates the iTunes accessory that puts three buttons in the menubar to control iTunes. The latest release brings the ability to export downloaded cover art back to iTunes for embedding in tracks, as well as numerous bug fixes and enhancements. [Download - 1.6MB] Name those Files! 2.1 ($13) is a batch file renaming utility, allowing users to rename large numbers of files or folders on a Mac using advanced numbering, trimming, and search/replace capabilities. Version 2.1 adds the ability to use date strings of any format in the prefix or suffix, and improves the speed as well as the stability of the actual item rename routine. [Download - 672KB] SymbolTexture vol. 9 ($15) is a major update to the plug-in set that includes numerous new features for abstract art, texture, animation, and frame designs. The plug-in uses symbols, and comes with a large selection of royalty-free starter symbols. [Download - 624KB] Booxter 1.8.7 ($20) is an easy to use application designed to manage a book collection. Booxter 1.8.7 improves iSight barcode scanning for built-in iSights such as those found in the new iMac, MacBook, and MacBook Pro. The update fixes searches at Angus & Robertson as well as the British Library. [Download - 3MB]
In brief: One MacNN reader has posted photos of the Apple Store under construction on Lincoln Road in South Beach, Miami, Florida.... Recent job postings on Monster.ca for retail/wholesale full time employees suggest that Apple is preparing to open a store at Chinook Mall in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.... Several readers note that Apple's website now references the recently released Parallels Desktop for Mac, rather than its own Bootcamp technology.... The developer of DigiTools and previous founder of MegaWorks has launched Fastforward, a new Mac software company, and is seeking programmers.... Architosh has reviewed Arlantis R, an advanced rendering and animation application boasting many relationships with architectural CAD and modeling programs.... OneToad Design today opened its doors for business, and is the second design company launched by a graphic designer who specializes in icon design for Mac OS X software developers.
BigBlueLounge.com today released BigBlueLounge.com Widget 1.0, a collection of tools for musicians and recording engineers in the form of a Mac OS X Dashboard widget. Designed and programmed by the founder of www.bigbluelounge.com and studio manager of the Sydney Opera House Recording Studios, the widget grew out of the needs in real-world sessions over the past two years. BigBlueLounge.com Widget 1.0 provides five separate tools which include "Keyboard," "TapTempo," "MediaCalc," "DigiTool," and "SonicSpeed." The widget is available for free, and requires Mac OS X 10.4 or later.
Rival Computer today began shipping custom Mac mini systems with 1.83GHz, 2.0GHz, and 2.16GHz Intel Core Duo processors. Consumers can choose a 60GB (included), 80GB ($50), 100GB ($100), or 120GB ($175) 5,400 RPM hard drive, or alternatively a 100GB ($200) 7200 RPM hard drive. Custom Mac minis include 512MB of memory, but are upgradeable to 1GB or 2GB capacities for $100 and $300, respectively. Each system ships with a slot loading Combo Drive, which users can swap out for a slot loading SuperDrive for an additional $50. Keyboard/mouse combinations include a Logitech Cordless Desktop for $50, an Apple USB keyboard and Mighty Mouse for $80, or an Apple wireless keyboard and mouse for $100. Rival's 1.83GHz Mac mini systems start at $950, while its 2.0GHz and 2.16GHz Mac minis are priced at $1,100 and $1,250, respectively.
Hiphop rap star 50 Cent is currently in negotiations with Apple's CEO Steve Jobs to produce a line of affordable home computers to inner-city residents, according to a new report. Referencing a report from Forbes, the popular rapper is negotiating the branding deal with the computer /software giant. "I'm creating a foundation that will be around for a long time, because fame can come and go or get lost in the lifestyle and the splurging," Fifty Cent explained to Forbes. "I never got into it for the music. I got into it for the business." Manager Chris Lighty of Violator management, also working with 50 Cent, said that Jobs "is setting a new standard in the music business.... Let's just say we get each other."
With Apple's dominance of the digital music world, the film industry is worried that Apple's enormous clout will extend to the digital movie world, as the company negotiates contracts with various studios. A report on Variety, which touches upon about the secrecy of Apple, Steve Jobs' wealth, and his management style, says that the Apple CEO personally heads up most negotiations, while Apple VP Eddie Cue takes up some of the slack as competing studios are wary of doing business with a member of Disney's board. "Studios have resisted Jobs' initial insistence that feature films be priced at the easy-to-remember $9.99. After all, library titles are typically sold to Wal-Mart and Best Buy significantly cheaper than new releases. Studios now are trying to convince Apple to sell similar content at multiple price points, something the company has never done." The report notes that the film studios are trying, simultaneously, to work out deals with a host of other distributors, including Amazon, Movielink and BitTorrent, in part to make sure that one company does not dominate. The publication expects most major studios to add movies to its iTunes Music Store by the end of the year.
ProjectWizards is running a beta test of Merlin 2, the second generation of its project management application for Mac OS X. The updates brings a revised interface and optimizes several functions. "Merlin 2 offers now a unique comparison of actual to real dates in the project planning shown graphically," according to the company. "Merlin 2 is the first project management software on the Mac that projects an expected project progression onto the Gantt chart." The application also supports Microsoft's Entourage as well as the ability to link several projects to each other to analyze and evaluate them together and review the resource utilization with significant histograms. Version 2 also improves import/export (e.g. MS Project, NovaMind, OmniOoutliner, MindManager) and offers real-time sync of data with iCal. In addition, it sports completely revised search, print and reporting functions. Merlin 2 is €145 for a single-user license. Upgrades are €75 (free for purchases after June 1st). [corrected]
iPod component manufacturer Foxconn Electronics has denied a recent report alleging that the company was making iPods in sweatshops. A spokesperson for the company said that there were "huge discrepancies between the truth and the claims in the report," according to the Digitimes. Last week, the UK-based The Mail claimed that iPods were being made in Chinese factories by employees working in "slave" conditions. "The paper alleged that one factory at Longhua -- a town just outside the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen -- employed 200,000 workers, each of whom had to work 15 hours a day for a monthly pay of US$50. The paper said the workers lived in rooms which housed 100 people each. However, Ding pointed out that Foxconn has a workforce of only about 160,000 employees worldwide [and] maintained that Foxconn abides by the employment law in China." The company also said it has continued to make improvements to workers' living conditions, providing safe and well-equipped dormitories complete with free laundry service, sports facilities, libraries, and other facilities. Apple last week said it was investigating the claims of labor abuse and that it maintains a strict code of conduct for its suppliers.
MacSpeech today announced that it has released iListen 1.7, the 7th major release of its speech recognition application. The application allows users to use voice control to control applications and other system commands. iListen 1.7 is now Universal Binary that will run natively on Intel- or PowerPC-based Macs. It also boasts faster training and enhanced accuracy: according to the company, users can now be up and running in as little as five minutes. Version 1.7 also has improved voice commands and will now support multiple user accounts in Mac OS X. In addition, there are also several bug fixes and several other minor enhancements and cosmetic improvements. iListen 1.7 still sells for $100 for a software-only version or starting at $150 for a version that includes a noise-canceling microphone. Registered users of iListen 1.6 or later can upgrade for $40. (Customers who purchased after April 1, 2006 will receive a free upgrade.)
Script Software today announced that iStar Composer combined with iVisualize is now available for Mac OS X. iStar Composer is the only Mac software that synchronizes lyrics/text with songs/audio content. iStar Composer can be used for editing and displaying lyrics, opera, plays, musicals, karaoke, jokeoke (where people imitate a comedy routine), poetryoke (poems done to music), children's stories or children music, church music, lyrics/text for the hearing impaired, translation of text/ lyrics, text for podcasts, display of text for any audio track. iVisualize has been added to iStar Composer, allowing anyone with a Mac and iTunes to view lyrics full screen in iTunes. iVisualize also makes it possible to make new visualizers for iTunes: it comes with several graphic visualizations for iTunes that show song info, album art and some include lyrics from iStar Composer. It is available as a Universal Binary for $30.
Now AAPL Stock: 94.02 ( -2.58 )
Remote S for Tesla Apple Watch app drives car out
Developer Allen Wong has created the Remote S for Tesla app, which can be used to remotely activate the Model S electric car via an Apple Watch, and drive it a short distance. Aside from providing data about the car and some basic function controls, the unofficial app uses the manufacturer's Summon command to allow the car to turn on, exit the garage, and park near to the user's location. The app is available to purchase from the App Store for $10. http://apple.co/1PprF4t
Seagate 3TB unreliability suit expands
The Seagate 3TB class-action hard drive lawsuit has been expanded to more devices. The expanded suit, filed today, now includes Seagate's Barracuda 3TB Hard Disk Drive, Desktop HDD 3TB, Backup Plus 3TB External Hard Disk Drive, GoFlex 3TB External Hard Disk Drive, or any other Seagate hard drive with model number ST3000DM001. The law firm, Hagens Berman, is seeking information from consumers such as time in service, purchase price, and the nature of any drive received in return from Seagate as a replacement for a failed unit. http://bit.ly/1Pc34Cq
BlackBerry Canada, Florida hit with layoffs
The BlackBerry campus has reportedly been wracked with layoffs. Sources familiar with the company's Waterloo office staffing claim that close to 35 percent of the local workforce has been laid off, with the deepest cuts being made in the BlackBerry 10 OS and hardware teams. Additionally, the state of Florida has been officially notified that the company's Sunrise facility will see 75 people fired. Enthusiast site Mobilesyrup puts the layoffs at around 1000 total. http://bit.ly/1Pc1Rep
Instagram tests multiple account support for iOS
Instagram is trialling support for multiple accounts in its iPhone app with a small number of users. The Facebook-owned photo sharing service confirmed the reports of the tests to TechCrunch, which will allow a single user to manage more than a single account within the app, transferring between two or three accounts with a few taps. It is unclear when the feature will roll out to the public, but it has previously tested it with the Android version of the app since November. http://tcrn.ch/1SPKEKh
Foxconn CEO declares Sharp deal near done
The Foxconn bid for Sharp is allegedly only waiting on specific details of the deal. Foxconn CEO Terry Gou has declared that his company has privileged negotiation rights for the Apple iPhone screen supplier, saying that "we have a consensus, the rest is a process ... I don't see a problem completing this process." Gou hopes the deal, worth up to $5.6 billion, will be formalized by the end of February. http://reut.rs/1SPEQjN
MIT demoes 'Eyeriss' AI chip for mobile
At the International Solid State Circuits Conference in San Francisco this week, MIT researchers presented a new chip designed specifically to implement neural networks. The researchers claim that "Eyeriss" is 10 times as efficient as a mobile GPU, so it could enable mobile devices to run artificial-intelligence algorithms such as Siri or Cortana, rather than uploading all data to a remote server for processing. http://bit.ly/1TISJBe
Pocket for iOS adds readability settings
Offline reader iOS app Pocket has updated, with reader-friendly changes. With the new revision, premium subscribers can adjust character spacing, and choose from eight new fonts including one that makes it easier for sufferers of dyslexia to read saved content. The app itself is free, with a premium subscription available for $5 a month, or $45 a year. http://apple.co/1KuILBl