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Skype video, XBMC Mac user
In brief: Skype has released a video-capable Mac version of its network-based communication software, which the company says is an unofficial buggy beta.... An avid Mac user has installed Xbox Media Center (XBMC) on an Xbox console despite the lack of directions available to Mac users.... iDental today announced that it has agreed to integrate TreAura's FUSiON patient appointment reminder management services with iDental and iMedical.... Small Tree Communications today announced the appointment of Derek Robb as the company's vice-president of sales and business development.... Corel today announced that GeeGuides -- an innovator in art education -- has selected Corel Painter Essentials 3 as part of its new art education curriculum.
iPods design filings
Apple recently filed several design patents that may depict unreleased iPod designs. The design drawings feature cases similar to those currently used by Apple's iPod and iPod nano digital media players, while two designs use a scale similar to the iPod nano. One sketch depicts a Nano without a scroll wheel, instead featuring a keypad that follows the standard mobile phone layout. Above the "keypad" Apple illustrates a circular button which may prove to be a scroll pad. Two more buttons on either side resemble the traditional layout of a cellphone's "talk" and "end" buttons, while a second sketch appears to show some kind of directional pad or touchpad similar to that found on a game controller.
Universal, iTunes pricing
Universal Music -- one of the four major record labels and the world's largest record group -- has priced back-catalog CDs in line with its download versions, acknowledging the rising influence of Apple's iTunes. Universal will divide its CDs into three price and product ranges in Europe in an effort to rejuvenate a format that covers over 90 percent of record sales, according to The Guardian. Universal will introduce a "basic" CD for aged recordings, wrapping the album in a card case with no sleeve notes for an estimated €9.99. Other formats include the "DeLuxe" to target the gift market at €19.99 with a bonus CD or DVD, and the "super jewel" box, a more rugged version of the classic plastic CD cases. The new formats are expected to launch in the UK and Europe in September.
Kid Pix Deluxe 3X v1.1
Software MacKiev this week is demonstrating a new podcast-friendly version of the Mac OS X edition of its Broderbund Kid Pix Deluxe 3X at the National Educational Computing Conference (NECC) in San Diego. Version 1.1 features native support for Intel-based Macs, the addition of 'Export to iPod Video' functionality, import from GarageBand, and export to iMovie HD. The software also features improvements to the Slide Show functions, allowing users to play the slides in a continuous loop and to so set the transition timing to advance to the next slide only when music or other sounds attached to a Kid Pix document has finished playing. Software MacKiev's Kid Pix Deluxe 3X with iPod export requires Mac OS X 10.1.5 or later, and a free Universal update to version 1.1 is available to current users from Software MacKiev's Web site. Educational discounts are also available for six copies or more, while the retail single-user package is $40 and requiring Mac OS X 10.1.5 or later.
MS to launch iPod rival
With a huge marketing push, Microsoft plans to release its own media player in time for the holiday season this year, as its partners have failed to make a dent in Apple's dominance of the online music world. In an effort to establish its own brand and technology in the rapidly growing world of online music -- one that Apple has effectively locked down using its own closed iPod/iTunes ecosystem -- Microsoft has been showing off its own media player and software to record companies over the last few weeks. According to Reuters, the device will let users download music and videos over the air. The feature, which would give it an edge over the iPod, would enable users to more easily purchase music without being tethered to a PC. Bloomberg reports that the rumored media player has a higher screen resolution for better image quality, and will be able to connect to a PC or other device via WiFi.
iLuv video recorder
iLuv today has released a Video Recording system for the iPod Video. The Video Recorder station allows users to record videos or other media directly into their iPod from a camcorder, TV, or other video source. Other features include four different recording time settings (30, 60, 120, 180 min), video recording quality settings (512kbps / 768kbps / 1Mb / 1.5Mb) and support for AV input and S-Video input. The docking station charges the iPod while in the dock and has LED indicators for current operating status. The iLuv Video Recorder requires a fifth-generation iPod (a.k.a. iPod w/ Video). It will ship in 2-3 weeks for $200.
Deep Freeze 6.0 released
Faronics today announced the release of Deep Freeze v6.0 today at the National Educational Computing Conference. Deep Freeze can be used by system administrators to preserve baseline configurations for computers regardless of what changes are made during operation time. When the computer is restarted it will be restored to its baseline settings. The key enhancements include a new scheduling system built into the console, new support for sub-groups in user-defined groups, a "Thaw Locked" maintenance setting in which the keyboard and mouse are locked out as the computer is repaired or updated. In addition, a new instant messaging system has been built from the ground up; the company also said that the entire Deep Freeze application has been redesigned. A trial of Deep Freeze 6.0 is available now; users can pre-oder the full version with pricing starting at $22 per computer.
Lawsuits against Apple
Apple today announced that it has been notified of derivative lawsuits filed in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California and the Superior Court for Santa Clara County. Both suits make claims against current and former officers and directors with respect to the company's awarding of stock option grants. Last week, Apple proactively announced that it had discovered irregularities in the issuance of certain stock option grants and is conducting an independent investigation into the matter. The company is currently evaluating its response to the lawsuits.
Safari market share
Apple's Safari Web browser has grown more than 65 percent year-over-year, and still holds the number three spot on Market Share's list of most-used browsers. Safari's market share totaled 1.93 percent in June of 2005, but now amounts to 3.19 percent. Industry experts predict that Apple's recently released Boot Camp software -- which allows Intel Mac owners to boot either Mac OS X or Microsoft Windows -- will draw more consumers as well as business customers to the Mac platform. Safari is considered by some to be a measurement of the world's Mac user base, as Safari is only compatible with Mac OS X which is designed to run exclusively on Apple's Mac hardware.
Custom iTMS for Loop
Chicago radio station The Loop has released a custom branded iTunes Music Store (iTMS) on its website. The store front is based on Adobe's Flash technology, making it not only the first customized iTMS for a radio station, but also the first iTMS offering to be fully Flash-enabled as well as the first Apple-co-branded iTunes music front. Hundreds of radio stations list their own top playlists within Apple's cross-platform desktop application, while many others provide standard "affiliate" links on their own websites that generate a commission for each song or album purchased via iTunes.
Podcast categories updated
Apple has updated its categories for podcasts, and is requesting that podcasters update their feeds as soon as possible. While Apple has said nothing of what will happen to existing podcasts, the company suggests that podcasters listed on iTunes update their feeds to avoid complications. "Today we launched a revised set of categories for podcasts listed in the iTunes Music Store. We're sending you this email to let you know how to change your podcast feed to accommodate these changes. The revised categories and subcategories are listed at the bottom of this message. Please take the time to change your podcast feed as soon as possible," Apple wrote.
Return iPods when fired
After the positive press National Semiconductor received for giving all it's employees 30GB Video iPods to transfer information and as a reward for record earnings, some of the press may have soured. After 35 workers were laid off last week, they were asked to return their iPods as well -- completing the proverbial double whammy. Some employees had given the iPods away as gifts or sold them; however, now that these employees are being told to return the iPods some employees are left in a bad situation. One of the fired employees stated that, "Nothing was ever said about ever having to give it back." The employees who are terminated or otherwise leave the company are to return the iPod or pay fair market value. "They were not a gift." the company's spokeswoman LuAnn Jenkins stated "We were very careful on the language we used talking about it."
Butte College, iTunes U
Butte College this fall is set to join the many educational institutions which have already adopted a new form of instruction, using Apple's iPod and iTunes U service to deliver lectures and other content digitally to students and faculty. Butte philosophy instructor Dan Barnett commented on the new technology, saying that it is definitely breaking down the walls of traditional classrooms. "It's a new world out there," Barnett said. Students will be able to download podcasts of lectures and documentaries, among other material, for listening or watching on Apple's iPod or a home computer. Apple's iTunes U service recently adopted three more schools that include Duke University's Fuqua School of Business in North Carolina, North Carolina Central University (NCCU), and Ohlone College.
VoodooPad 3 released
Flying Meat Software has released VoodooPad 3.0, an update to its desktop wiki and note taking application. The update brings many new features including a tabbed workflow, full screen editing, palettes, and a reworked search engine. VoodooPad 3.0 also offers support for larger documents, embedded PDF documents, custom meta data pages, and a built-in Web server for sharing documents. VoodooPad 3.0 is available for $30, with upgrades from version 2.x priced at $10 and the Pro version is available for $50. VoodooPad requires Mac OS X 10.4.6 or later.
iSnug Accessory Case ships
HandStands today unveiled the latest addition to its iSnug line, the iSnug Accessory Case for iPod accessories. The case remains small like the original iSnug while offering protection for cables, the iPod power brick, and other accessories such as Griffin's iTrip FM transmitter. Measuring 6.25 x 6.5 x 2-inches, the iSnug Accessory Case is available for $20 and is designed for use with video iPod, iPod nano, iPod photo, and iPod mini.
Dashboard phones home
One blogger reports observing Apple's Dashboard "phoning home" with the recent release of Mac OS X 10.4.7. Dashboard apparently checks with Apple.com's database to ensure Widgets installed are identical those available on Apple's website, presumably preventing the installation of a malicious Trojan or malware. A blogger from red-sweater.com, however, sees this as a privacy issue and feels that the new feature was not clearly announced. Apple has not documented the new feature in detail, but included the following line in the Mac OS 10.4.7 release notes: "You can now verify whether or not a Dashboard widget you downloaded is the same version as a widget featured on (www.apple.com) before installing it."
Mobile dominance by 2010
A new report based on an IMS Research study covering "Global Markets for Handheld Media Players" has forecast the downfall of the iPod. Apple's dominance in the media player industry may all but vanish over the next five years because it is "regional and temporary," according to cellular-news.com. The report alleges that iPods will be unable to keep up with all-in-one cellular devices that are exploding onto the scene due to falling flash-based media prices. Consumers will choose one integrated device rather than tote both a mobile phone and an iPod, according to the report. Apple's iPod Nano was a key factor in the lowering of flash media prices in recent months, and saw "staggering" demand through the 2005 holiday shopping season which resulted in a record quarter for Apple.
iConquer 2.4 released
KavaSoft today released iConquer 2.4, an update to the game of world conquest for Mac OS X that features a new graphs window. The update offers an integrated guided tour that allows new users to quickly learn about the features of iConquer, as well as improved compatibility with the upcoming Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard. The graphs window provides real-time graphs of all game statistics, allowing players to monitor world dominance over time. Graphs display the number of countries, armies, or cards owned by each player, as well as their income, victories, and defeats. iConquer allows up to six players to compete over the internet, and allows players to challenge electronic opponents with distinct personalities managed by an artificial intelligence engine. iConquer is priced at $20, and requires Mac OS X 10.3.9 or later.
seSales, Adium, MailTags
OnMyCommand 1.7.2 (free) is a UNIX CLI and AppleScript executor that allows user to build their own contextual menu items or GUI applications. The software supports hundreds of freely available commands submitted by users of OnMyCommand, and the update fixes Mac OS 10.3.9 support while adding support for new commands.
[Download - 5.6MB]
MailTags 1.2.2 (free) is a plug-in for Apple's Mail application that adds keywords, projects, priorities, and notes to Mail. The application offers keyword or project searches, and links mail messages with iCal items. The update also adds the ability to replace the subject display in messages, supports mouse-free message tagging, and features various bug fixes. [Download - 1.0MB]
rooSwitch 1.0 ($15) is a utility to help users create different profiles of almost any application's data. The software enables users to switch profiles to activate the data as needed, effectively creating a multiple user environment for any application. rooSwitch 1.0 is a Universal Binary and requires Mac OS 10.4 or later. [Download - 607KB]
GimmeSomeTune 1.6 (free) adds a floating window to iTunes with all the currently-playing track information. GimmeSomeTune can fetch cover art, features configurable hotkeys, allows customization, includes iChat support, and offers a recent tunes menu. The update addresses cover-fetching bugs, and enables iChat to display any album art playing in iTunes as well as list the song title. [Download - 374KB]
Adium 1.0b1 (free) is a multi-protocol chat application that features tabbed chat windows, live history, encrypted chats, and a large plug-in community. Adium 1.0 beta 1 offers improved file transfers, an enhanced visual interface, iTunes integration fixes, global user profiles, an Xtras (plug-ins) manager, and a redesigned chat log viewer. The update is a Universal Binary, and requires Mac OS 10.3.9 or later. [Download - 20.0MB]
seSales 1.4b ($250) is a point of sales management application designed for small businesses. The software tracks order processing and store credit featuring PayPal as a credit card clearing house. seSales is customizable and able to work efficiently without using the mouse. The update is a complete rewrite that features rental item management. [Download - 10.4MB]
Leopard iPod video
An Apple fan has posted a video online showing what appears to be Mac OS X Leopard running on an iPod. Although the video is widely believed to be fake, it's generating a great deal of interest ahead of Apple's official preview of Mac OS X Leopard at WWDC this August.
Sims 2 Open for Business
Aspyr Media today announced that The Sims 2 Open for Business for Mac has reached Alpha status, and that the expansion pack is scheduled to ship in September. The Sims 2 Open for Business allows Sims to create their own businesses. Sims can design clothing botiques, beauty salons, florists, high-end electronics shops, bustling restaurant chains, or virtually any other type of business. Players can hire staff as the business grows while putting talented Sims to work making toys, running the register, crafting floral bouquets, giving sales pitches, or manufacturing robots. The game allows players to pick a business theme, set prices, and treat customers as desired. Players can turn talents into cash by learning the tricks of the trade, training good employees, and firing slackers (pricing and system requirements were unavailable).
Mac suggested for security
Sophos has stated that Windows security risks are becoming so widespread that users should seriously consider a Mac. The current top ten malware programs target Windows systems, according to BBC News, though Mac OS X has proven immune to those malicious programs. Thus far only proof-of-concept viruses have surfaced for Macs, most of which pose a minimal risk. Graham Cluley of Sophos believes that computer users should consider Macs, especially for home use. "It seems likely that Macs will continue to be the safer place for computer users for some time to come."
Jeux Mac releases Recycle
Jeux Mac has released Recycle, a game designed specifically for children that focuses on environmental issues. The software reinforces the act of recycling by offering "Sort Sport," a timed activity where players must sort items to recycle via drag-and-drop from a board into their correct recycling bins; as well as "Trash Bash," a challenge that times players as it lights up random bins one at a time while encouraging them to drop the appropriate trash into the currently-lit bin. Featuring a "bright and inviting" interface, each activity focuses on hand-eye coordination while educating children about the environment (pricing and system requirements were unavailable).
new iMac for education
Apple today introduced a new $899 iMac made specifically for the education market. Replacing Apple's last CRT computer--the eMac--the education-only configuration has a 17-inch widescreen display and a 1.83GHz Intel Core Duo processor, featuring many of the same components, such as 512MB DDR2 SDRAM, 24x Combo drive, 80GB hard drive, built-in iSight and wireless networking, microphone, and speakers; however, the new iMac ships with the integrated Intel GMA 950 graphics chipset instead of the usual, dedicated (and more powerful) ATI X16000 found the consumer versions of the new iMac Core Duo. The new education-only iMac configuration ($899) is available immediately from the educational Apple store.
Canto releases Cumulus 7
Canto today announced a new version of its Digital Asset Management tool, Cumulus 7. The scaleable solution offers both small businesses and enterprise customers the ability to easily track, organize, and share digital assets such as photos, files, videos, etc. Cumulus 7 offers significant performance gains and enhancements for security, Web-based DAM, automation and usability, including increased asset control, faster production, and more efficient collaboration. In addition, the release is a Universal Binary, offering native support for Intel-based Macs as a Universal Binary. (System requirements and pricing were not available.)
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