The Advent Group today announced a new application in its established Artlantis software series called Artlantis Studio. The new application moves beyond Artlantis R, released last year, by adding motion to the rendering studio. Much like its counterpart, Artlantis Studio is based on the concepts of simplicity and realism. There are many new features offered unique to Artlantis studio including SketchUp integration, QuickTime VR renders, and a new animation engine. Artlantis Studio features real-time previewing, cataloguing, a dependent viewpoint, operating system compliance, and customizable tools. Artlantis Studio is priced at $1,000 (system requirements were unavailable).
In brief: The Free Software Foundation (FSF) has launched an online petition asking Bono, lead singer of the musical group U2, to take a stand with them against copy-protection technologies that they say unnecessarily restrict consumers' rights.... IMAC has overhauled its website interface for Mac poker players, featuring more aesthetic appeal and simpler navigation.... Microsoft has posted Internet Explorer (IE) 7.0 Beta 3, an update to its standalone Web browser.... Virtual Programming today announced that it will ship all of its box products for free anywhere in the world.... Nokia has conducted a survey of 3,000 Scandinavians ages 15 to 35, a majority of whom told the cell phone company that mobile phones with music players will take over the world and MP3 players will be out of the market within a couple of years.
Resteware today released two updates to its Unreal Tournament 2004 utilities. The company's freeware products UT2004Grabber and UT2004Sync reached milestone version 2.0, offering Universal Binary compatibility--for native operation on Intel-based Macs. UT2004Grabber allows users to automatically copy all the key files from downloaded multiplayer maps to a copy of UT2004 for use in single player scenarios. UT2004Sync allows users to sync downloaded and added modifications in their copy to someone else's copy of UT2004. UT2004Grabber 2.0 and UT2004 Sync no longer requires Unreal to be in the user's 'Applications' folder, provides a status window as it runs, and fixes some minor bug fixes. Further, UT2004 Grabber now clears the cache of old files after copy is complete. Unreal Tournament 2004 went "Universal" earlier this year.
Some memory makers are beginning to worry about a possible delay in Apple's release of new iPods, which could cause NAND flash to fall. As MacNN reported on Wednesday, one analyst believes that the iPod maker could be planning to delay the launch of iPods up to six months. Apple is the main customer of the world's largest NAND supplier, Samsung Electronics; earlier this year when reports surfaced of slowing growth in iPod nano sales, Apple cut its order of NAND flash. This cut resulted in a sharp decline in NAND prices as the surplus grew. According to DigiTimes, it's not likely that NAND production will be cut until there is official confirmation that iPod releases are delayed.
Apple shares today fell by as much as 4 percent, following the company's announcement that it would probe into irregularities in previous executive stock option grants. Despite the drop in share price, one analyst predicts that Apple's announcement of the probe will bear no significant impact on the Cupertino-based company, according to Forbes.com. The questionable grants were made between 1997 and 2001, one of which was given to Apple CEO Steve Jobs, but was cancelled and resulted in no financial gain for the executive. "We believe potential financial damage [and] penalties from any options irregularities are likely to be limited and cash flow would not be impacted," said UBS analyst Benjamin Reitzes. "According to the company's 2004 proxy statement, in March 2003, Mr. Jobs voluntarily cancelled all of his outstanding options, excluding those granted to him in his capacity of director," Reitzes said.
A team of British researchers at University College London have made a breakthrough by discovering a new process to create silicon dioxide at room temperature. Currently the silicon dioxide portion of a modern computer chip must be created through many heating stages which consume large amounts of energy. The new findings could lead to a much more environmentally friendly chip creation process -- one that could potentially save money and resources, effectively lowering the cost to the end consumer.
Apple has reportedly attributed the discoloration on and around the palm rest of some MacBook models to a manufacturing defect. Earlier this month numerous MacBook owners began reporting a strange discoloration on the palm rest of their new white 1.83GHz and 2.0GHz notebooks, which many said appeared after 2-3 weeks of use. Apple originally claimed that the issue was a result of improper handling by MacBook owners, but later admitted that a problem with the plastics used in some models of the white MacBooks caused the discoloration, according to Softpedia. Apple has officially recognized the issue, and is offering those afflicted laptop owners with a replacement top case.
MAKI Enterprise today released PodSmith 2.0, updating the synchronization application that uses an iPod as a security key. PodSmith 2.0 is completely rewritten, featuring a new user interface, Mount Lock functionality to protect data from unexpected theft or logging, and native support for Intel-based Macs as a Universal Binary. PodSmith encrypts sync data to the iPod, and auto-syncs between a Mac and the digital player while allowing users to temporarily replace Safari's bookmarks with those stored on the iPod. Screen and file locking are accomplished by mounting and unmounting the iPod, while PodSmith optionally disables all applications except those specified. Users can unlock Macs by typing a password in the event that the iPod is stolen or misplaced. PodSmith 2.0 requires Mac OS X 10.3 or later, and is priced at $20.
Roxio today posted Toast 7.1 with support native support Intel-based Macs. The download includes CD Spin Doctor v3.1, also a Universal Binary and Motion Pictures v2.1.2 with bug fixes. The update fixes issues when previewing Apple Lossless audio files in Audio CD format, resolves QuickTime Movie video export issues (related to the QuickTime 7.1 update), resolves menu button highlight issues on Toast authored DVD-Video discs (related to the Mac OS 10.4.6 update), errors when canceling the User Authentication step during the Toast Setup Assistant, and issues related to invalid characters in Mac Only, Mac & PC, and DVD-ROM UDF formats. In addition, it resolves issues related to Music DVDs, including audio playing back too slowly and static sound with some files at higher quality settings and includes an updated version of Deja Vu that preserves existing symlinks. Users must be registered with a valid license to download the update.
Aspyr today released a demo of Call of Duty 2, the World War II-based first shooter. "Call of Duty 2 redefines the cinematic intensity and chaos of battle as seen through the eyes of ordinary soldiers fighting together in epic WWII conflicts. The sequel to 2003's Call of Duty, winner of over 80 Game of the Year awards, Call of Duty 2 offers more immense, more intense, more realistic battles than ever before, thanks to the stunning visuals of the new COD2 engine." This single-player demo features the mission The End of the Beginning, which takes place November 6, 1942, at El Daba, Egypt. As part of the British infantry, you are tasked with eliminating the German artillery crews at the docks. The download is 665MB. The full version is $50 and requires Mac OS X 10.3.9 or alter.
FastMac today announced it has begun shipping TruePower laptop batteries for all models of the iBook (G3 and G4). FastMac's TruePower iBook battery is priced at $100 and offers up to 50 percent more capacity than the original. The TruePower batteries are engineered using high-quality, high-capacity Lithium cells. FastMac says it utilizes custom form factors and materials to achieve a superior fit and finish, matching the original battery while increasing capacity. 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 1-year warranty and 30-day money back warranty. All customers that placed pre-orders through the companyís website will receive their shipments in the next few days. FastMac also offers a variety of high-quality and high-capacity batteries for: PowerBook G4 Aluminum (all models), iBook (all models), and PowerBook G3 (Wallstreet, Lombard and Pismo).
A new website -- SkinPod.it -- has launched allowing users to download and print iPod skins for free. The site includes a skin gallery featuring various designs for Apple's fourth- and fifth-generation iPod, iPod mini, iPod nano, and iPod shuffle. Visitors register for free with SkinPod.it, choose a skin made for a specific iPod model, save the desired skin, and print it out on a blank piece of adhesive paper. Users then fix the colors if desired, cut out the new skin, clean the iPod, and stick the skin to the digital player.
A California resident has filed a class action lawsuit against Microsoft, alleging that the company violated spyware laws with anti-piracy features of its Windows Genuine Advantage software. Apple's Mac systems maintain the reputation of being resistant to spyware and virus infections, although numerous experts continue to stress that Mac users are not impervious to threats. Los Angeles resident Brian Johnson claims that the software giant failed to disclose all the details of its Windows Genuine Advantage upgrade in April, which was designed to help curb piracy of the Windows operating system, according to eWeek.com. The suit claims that Windows Genuine Advantage became akin to a form of spyware when Microsoft enabled the software to contact company servers to help identify people who may be using pirated versions of Microsoft Windows.
Freeverse today released Legion Arena for Mac, a historical war game filled with Roman history. Legion Arena is a Role Playing Strategy game designed on a "massive" scale where players must take control of a small band of warriors and train them to be the mightiest army in the world. Players can buy equipment, choose from over 100 skills, personalize the appearance of squads, and earn experience as well as denari for victories. "Legion Arena takes the best elements of Role-Playing games and puts it in the context of an epic strategic struggle," according to Freeverse. Players can participate as either the Romans or Gauls in over 100 scenarios and with more than 20 unique units. Units include Praetorians, Elephants, and "Naked Fanatics." Legion Arena is available via download for $40, and requires Mac OS X 10.3.9 or later.
American Balloon today released Zazen, a new application designed to manage software from the menubar. A running list of applications enables users to switch between, quit, force quit, or use an application in "concentration mode." Concentration mode offers a method of focusing on any application, fading out the screen to highlight the chosen software in a bright, "thought-provoking" way. Users can customize the opacity of the concentration mode, adjusting darkness levels to taste. Zazen is priced at $12 (system requirements were unavailable).
French lawmakers today gave final approval to legislation that could result in Apple closing down its French iTunes Music Store. France's lower house voted in favor of the copyright bill, marking the final legislative step before the bill becomes law which prevents the success of a last-ditch constitutional challenge filed last week by opposition, according to the Associated Press. Apple first responded to the draft law in late March, calling it "state-sponsored piracy." The U.S. government backed Apple's stance shortly afterward, saying that companies need to protect their intellectual property.
Analyst firm Merill Lynch today analyzed Apple's internal probe into stock grant irregularities. The probe is investigating the issuance of certain stock option grants made between 1997 and 2001, including one grant to Apple CEO Steve Jobs himself, which was subsequently cancelled resulting in no financial gain. Independent counsel will investigate the matter, and the SEC has been informed of the investigation. Merill Lynch currently marks Apple's volatility risk as "high," and maintains a "neutral" rating on Apple shares. [updated]
Now AAPL Stock: 94.02 ( -2.58 )
Apple brings iTunes Movie Trailers app to Canada
After five years, Apple has expanded its iTunes Movie Trailers app for iOS to Canada. As of Saturday, the free app allows movie buffs to see HD movie trailers for new studio and independent features, and explore some other movie-related extras such as photos, behind-the-scenes footage, or clips from upcoming films. Users can save trailers for quick access, read reviews from RottenTomatoes.com within the app, use AirPlay to send them to an Apple TV, share trailers, and peruse the top movie charts. http://apple.co/1UUKtwr
Apple expands CloudKit API, provides web interface
On Friday, Apple notified developers that it was expanding a feature of CloudKit to allow for server-to-server web service requests. "In addition to providing a web interface for users to access the same data as your app, you can now easily read and write to the CloudKit public database from a server-side process or script with a server-to-server key," Apple said in its announcement. Previously, interaction with the CloudKit public database was limited to apps and web only. http://apple.co/20h1RwP
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