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Federal securities regulators are getting ready to file charges in a case involving the backdating of stock options, the chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission told MarketWatch on Monday. The news follows the announcement that the U.S. Attorney for Northern California has formed a local task force to investigate allegations that companies and individuals in the Bay Area, including Apple, retroactively changed the grant dates of stock options with the intent to defraud or mislead shareholders. Late last month, Apple's announcement that an internal investigation had discovered irregularities related to the issuance of certain stock option grants made between 1997 and 2001 led to the filing of two separate investor suits that charged company executives with defrauding the company and its investors.
Klink Software has released dim3 v2.0, an update to its free open-source 3D game engine. It is described as a '3D game without content' and is aimed at two specific groups: map makers and coders. Mod makers may be interested in the fact that this engine is a blank canvas into which they can directly their drop the content--the opposite of the usual game where they have to work the content around a prebuilt game. Coders have the flexibility of a fully open-source development engine so they can modify the code as they see fit. Dim3 features complete support for lighting, shadows, pixel effects, architecture, models, scripting, effects, vehicles, networking, cameras, and built in editors including an animation editor. The license to use and publish dim3 games is completely free of charge. Games can be developed in only OS X but can be published to OS X, Windows XP, and Linux. Mac OS X 10.3.9 or later is required to use this editor running on a G3, G4, G5, or Intel-based processor.
Spanning Partners has released Spanning Salesforce for iCal, a utility for Apple's iCal calendar software that allows users to subscribe to their tasks and events from salesforce.com. The tool makes use of RSS and other "Web 2.0" technologies while supporting the ".ics" format. Users can sync their events with iSync to mobile phones or iPod digital media players. Full subscriptions are priced at $15 per month, or $130 per year. The Spanning solution requires Apple's iCal (specific system requirements were not available).
Stone Design today released the latest iteration of Stone Works, its productivity suite featuring 15 applications. The software enables users to design and publish to print as well as the Web, while offering a slew of additional functionality. Users can bill for services; make movies; create photo albums; watermark documents; convert fonts; perform complete image processing; monitor the weather; choose fonts visually; handle preferences; manage PDF documents; and more. The bundle consists of Create 12.4.5; iMaginator 2.5; Videator 1.2; PStill 5.2; TimeEqualsMoney 3.1; PhotoToWeb 3.1; SliceAndDice 3.1; PackUpAndGo 3.1; StampInStone 3.1; PreferenceCommander 2.1; FontSight 2.2; Global Warmth 2.2; GIFfun 4.0; and a free Stone Studio Widget that gets info, resources, and launches Stone applications. The complete Stone Works bundle is available for $400.
Xfolders 1.3 (free) enhances the traditional Mac OS X finder with more options for administrating files. The update brings an internal terminal, favorite applications to the toolbar, and German localization bug fixes. In order to use the latest versions of Xfolders, Mac OS X 10.4 or later is required. [Download - 1.4MB] iURL 1.6 ($25) helps users manage links and gathered URLs such as internet, iChat, mail, file, FTP, and Skype links. Version 1.6 brings a broader variety of link compatibility, drag and drop support, smart groups, URL filters, HTTP header viewing, and image previewing. Mac OS X 10.2 or later is required to run iURL. [Download - 2.0MB] MemoryMiner 1.1 ($60) creates storyboard of memory by allowing users to add photos and further breakdown the photo elements further to label specific people or things. New in version 1.1 is a media browser allowing the user to search iPhoto or other media applications without opening them. Also new is the ability so save libraries as documents, support for .ged files, Google Earth integration, and automatic uploads of export Flash and XML documents. A G4, G5, or Intel based processor running Mac OS X 10.3.9 or later is required. [Download - 8.4MB] Label vX ($20) is a label design and professional solution for merge and copy printing. Featured in this initial release is he ability to design and text as many labels as you like, organize the labels into categories, print as many identical or alternative label rows as needed, and support for many importable graphics files. Any version of Mac OS X is compatible with Label vX. [Download - 17.2MB] 24U SimpleHelp 3.2 ($50) allows users to to develop interactive help items such as tool tips, coachmarks, and roll-over effects into their FileMaker solutions. Version 3.2 adds support for FileMaker 8 and improves overall stability of the plug-in. Mac OS X 10.3 or later running on a PowerMac G4 or G5 is required. [Download - 3.7MB] Menufela (free) is a utility that allows users to hide the menu bar or spotlight icon to add more usable pixels. This initial release of the utility allows auto-hiding, much like the feature included with the dock in OS X, or hotkey activation. Menufela requires Application Enhancer; system requirements are not available. [Download - 1.6MB]
In brief: More information has turned up about Apple's "Numbers" trademark, with the company presenting Class 009 for computer software for home, education, business, and developer use.... CRN has posted its Top 10 Windows Vista Hits & Misses, elaborating on Microsoft's upcoming operating system which is expected to ship in early 2007.... One Mac user has launched Graffletopia, a website designed to ease the process of OmniGraffle users sharing stencil files.... Apple recently discussed its plans to integrate iPods with automobiles, and revealed that the company remains interested in what customers are doing with hacks as well as mods that include its hardware.... SmartSound Music has released its latest colection of multi-layer music designed to work with the Mood Mapping feature in Sonicfire Pro 4.
Ableton has released Sampler, an advanced sound-design and sound-sculpting instrument available as an upgrade within Ableton Live 6. Multiple samplers combine with Ableton's Instrument and Effects Racks in Live 6 to provide greater depth of control, automation, and sonic capability. Each instance of Sampler can host any number of sample zones, while users can define key and velocity ranges as well as crossfades using a graphical editor. The software supports the setup of numerous playback/looping options for each zone, and Sampler helps with mapping while assisting users in locating appropriate loop points. The Sampler GUI is designed to be instantly familiar to users accustomed to Live's look and feel, with short loading times and efficient handling of large-volume libraries. Sampler is priced at $200, and is slated for shipment in September (system requirements were unavailable).
Coolgorilla today released an iPod Spanish Translator phrasebook, featuring more than 750 audio files of Spanish translations accessed via a structured menu in English. The menu system is designed for ease of use by splitting up everyday phrases into different categories such as travel, accommodation, and socializing. The digital phrasebook features a dictionary with hundreds of entries, and offers a section dedicated to football. Coolgorilla also offers iPod translation phrasebooks in German, French, and Greek. The iPod Spanish Translator phrasebook is available for free, and works with third-generation or newer iPod models including iPod nano and iPod mini. The phrasebook requires 25MB of free space on the digital media player.
SwitchEasy today began shipping the KuroDock for black iPod nanos, along with Capsule Stickies touchwheel protection. KuroDock is a limited edition charging/docking system specifically designed for black iPod nanos that features an ultra-bright white LED light bar with a red activity sync indicator to signal when the Nano is transferring data on the dock. Capsule Stickies Touchwheel Protection is a series of design touchwheel protectors for iPod nano designed by YolkDesign. Capsule Stickies are made from anti-static adhesive film, which is reusable and leaves no marks on the iPod. The KuroDock is priced at $30, and a 12V DC charger is available for $9. Capsule Stickies are priced at $4 in sets of three.
QuickerTek today announced that for a limited time buyers of its 27dBm Transceiver ($200) will receive a free carry handle. The offer extends to all 15-inch PowerBook G4 Titanium or Aluminum, 17-inch PowerBook G4, and iBook owners. The transceiver is designed to output the maximum power allowed by the FCC; increasing from 30 milliwatts to 500 milliwatts in the case of the Titanium PowerBook. The device clips onto the top of the computer to prevent damaging the case with adhesives, and is easily removed when no longer in use. The bundled handle (a $50 value, according to QuickerTek) allows for easier carrying as well as tilting the computer for a more comfortable typing angle while placed on a flat surface, and grips the work surface when set up in tilt mode.
Altec Lansing has unveiled its inMotion iM500, a thin and portable audio system for Apple's iPod nano. The wafer-thin design measures .67-inches thick, weighing just 12 ounces. The device charges as well as syncs the Nano while playing tracks, and features a foldable dock for easy carrying. Two custom, full-range drivers offer built-in bass enhancement technology, according to Altec, and the device can operate on either battery or AC wall power. The inMotion iM500 is priced at $130, and is expected to ship in the near future.
inRESONANCE today announced a major upgrade to its FileMaker-based student information management solution. Keystone 4.0 is a full-featured student information system (SIS) that is easy to use and can be customized by non-technical users. The new version offers a built-in HTML email broadcast, a teacher access module, Open Directory/Active Directory integration, enhanced security, faster database queries, and the ability to customize grade reporting and transcripts. Keystone manages all the data associated with SIS solutions, including student and family data, faculty and staff data, emergency contacts, courses, attendance, discipline, grades and comments, and transcripts. Administrators can output the data into a variety of formatsó including graphical schedules, class lists, grade reports, student transcripts, multi-year reports, email, mailing labels and more.
A quad-core "Mac Pro" will likely prove an expensive venture for Apple, according one report detailing predictions about Apple's forthcoming Mac Pro. Ars Technica has offered a detailed tally that includes 1GB of RAM, an ATI X1900 XT graphics card, 250GB hard drive, motherboard, six SATA-II ports, five PCI slots (2 PCIe, 3 PCI-X, 1 PCI), power supply, Apple's Mighty mouse with a keyboard, DVD burner, and two Xeon 5150 CPUs running at 2.66GHz. The cost totaled $3,269.44, which included the OEM prices of most manufactured components. With a discount of 12.5 percent and mark up margin of 20 percent for Apple, the quad's cost would be amount to a hefty $3,493.23. The report also reinforces recent rumors surrounding the enclosure of the Mac Pro, suggesting that Apple's new enclosure will remain similar to its current Power Mac G5.
Apple UK is working to build its "Apple Premium Resellers" program, according to Macworld UK. "The intention is to get broader coverage of Apple only outlets across cities where weíre not very well covered," Apple UK's managing director Mark Rogers said. The program covers areas in which Apple does not intend to operate its own retail stores but still wants Apple-only outlets to operate. As an incentive to join the program and move stores into higher-profile areas, Apple will give marketing assistance and offer training. However, some resellers don't believe this program is in the best interest of their stores as the proposed locations are too expensive. "We could not replicate the ease of purchase and facilities that we have at CW on the High Street. At a time where Dixons are retreating from the High Street it is difficult to see how low margin retailing can work with soaring rents," Jonathan Cole of Computer Warehouse told the publication.
Pleasant software has announced an upcoming beta test of Ubercaster, its new podcast production suite. The application has been designed specifically for podcasters unlike Garageband, which the developers say is designed for musicians. ‹bercaster will feature multiple microphone source management, voice chat input (Skype, Gizmo, and iChat), "stealth-mode" clip actions, multi-track edition, and a variety of encoding options (MP3, AAC, or AIFF). The beta, expected on July 24th, will be released as a Universal Binary and require Mac OS X 10.4.4 or later running on a G4-, G5- or Intel-based Mac. To recieve a beta copy, Sign up is required.
Aspyr Media today released a free update to Civilization IV, improving performance on certain Macs (G5's in particular) that exhibited excessive CPU usage in the original release. The game should no longer run dual CPU's to 100 percent capacity, according to the company, and some missing sounds should play correctly while others may remain inaudible after updating. Aspyr reports that some Intel Mac users may experience kernel panics resulting from running a version of Mac OS X prior to 10.4.7. Intel Mac users still experiencing the issue can turn off FSAA options and/or run the game in a window. Aspyr notes that the update is a public beta release, cautioning users about the possibility of experiencing problems not present in the previous release.
Geethree has released universal updates to all 10 of its Slick iMovie plug-in libraries. Slick volumes consist of transitions, effects, and titles that work with Apple's iMovie software. Volumes feature useful tools like crop, scale, lighting as well as color adjustments, skew, distort, and "picture in a picture." Each volume offers specific tools, designed uses, and themes. Slick Volume 10 is priced at $70 for a downloadable version or $75 for a CD and download. The universal upgrade is available for free to registered users.
Rumors are circulating that Apple's forthcoming Mac Pro case will feature only slight changes. Internal layout changes will likely occur along with added support for a second optical drive bay, according to AppleInsider. Apple may use a new drive bay to ease into the next generation of optical drives -- such as Blu-ray and HD-DVD -- while the power supply will move up to the current location of the hard drives in the company's G5 cases. Renderings suggest that two lower-end models will feature one dual-core "Woodcrest" Xeon, while the high-end model will include two dual-core Xeons.
Podophile.com has posted step-by-step instructions on how to use the Nike+iPod Sport Kit with any brand of running shoes, and has offered a means to waterproof the mod. Apple and Nike announced the joint venture in late May, but said the kit would only work with the included Nike shoes. Concluding that the Sport Kit transmitter is simply an "accelerometer," one user managed to attach the device to an alternative brand of running shoes with Velcro using only a needle and thread. The user reports that securing the transmitter beneath the laces of the shoe, rather than inside, does not affect the accuracy of the device. "The whole process took about 10 minutes (including taking the pictures) and doesn't permanently damage the shoe."
In brief: One MacNN reader noted that the Yahoo!/MSN Instant Messenger interop is available to Mac users via Yahoo!'s new Mac messenger client.... A 16th century townhouse in Amsterdam is home to Europe's first rehab clinic for game addicts.... Apple has launched a new support page for the Nike+iPod Sport Kit.... The Options Industry Council has made free educational video and audio podcasts available on its website, which are also offered via Apple's iTunes under the title "Options Strategies for Investors...." SanDisk today introduced a 4GB SD card ($200) bundled with the MicroMate USB 2.0 reader.... One user has launched MacBattle.com, a website allowing visitors to upload photos of their Macs to compete against other MacBattle users for the votes of internet surfers.
In Brief: Shares of Apple rose 1.4 percent in pre-open trading Monday after Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster said he expects the company to top Wall Street expectations for its fiscal third-quarter following his checks with Apple specialist stores and data from research group NPD. Marketwatch reports that analysts surveyed by Thomson First Call are expecting earnings of 44 cents a share and revenue of $4.4 billion.... Apple today announced that it will provide live audio QuickTime streaming of its FY 06 Third Quarter Results Conference Call on Wednesday, July 19, 2006 at 2:00 p.m. PDT/5:00 p.m. EDT.... Apple also announced it will hold the grand opening of its tenth retail store in Florida, Apple Store Lincoln Road located in Miami Beach, on Friday, July 21, 2006 at 6:00 p.m. EDT....PCS Intel today released an updated EV-DO Modem Script for Mac, which improves support for people who chose to use their regular phone as a modem by providing up to five times faster connection rates than the current Mac OS X built-in support....Flashcard data from StudyStack.com can now be exported as iPod note files, allowing users to study-on-the-go or help practice memorization.
Ableton has announced Live 6, a major update to its music creation, production and performance platform. Version 6 brings QuickTime video support, a professional multisample library, and customizable racks of instruments and effects as well as multicore support, enhanced project management tools, and improved MIDI control. Entering the world of post-production, the new QuickTime video support allows users to drag and drop movies directly into Live's Arrangement View and monitor the result on a video window or second screen; users can align music to visuals to process the movie's audio signal from within Live. The new library of multisampled instruments spans the entire musical spectrum, from orchestral strings and brasses, to classic guitars and electric keyboards, to instruments like the harp and the glockenspiel. Live 6 is scheduled for release in September 2006 for $600 (or $500 for electronic delivery). [updated]
MacMedia has released PhoneDirector 1.2, a complete software solution for connecting to and managing many Nokia phone models from a Mac. The software supports several different models, including the 6230, 6230i, 6233, 6234, 6280, 7280, 7380, 8800 mobile phones. The Bluetooth-enabled PhoneDirector offers functions to organize the Phonebook, SMS, Gallery and Calendar. Users can edit/backup the phonebook, download/archive SMS text messages, download/upload pictures/sounds, upload Java applications to the phone, create/edit themes, setup phone radio channels, upload Safari bookmarks, and edit/add notes to the phone. Version 1.2 adds support for the Nokia 6233 and 6234 mobile phones. PhoneDirector is offered as $30 shareware. The upgrade fee from v1.1 and previous versions is $13. It requires Mac OS X 10.3.9 or later, Bluetooth, and a supported Nokia phone.
FOR neXTsoft has released QuickSync 3.0, an update to its sync and backup solution. QuickSync allows users to synchronize files between devices, including iPods, Palm devices, cameras, Network Drives, FTP sites and iDisks. This milestone upgrade adds the ability to run multiple syncs and the ability to have the application automatically check for updates. It includes several fixes for improved file loss prevention, support for timed sync (which now runs without application open), and improved sync permissions. QuickSync costs $20; this update is free to existing users. System requirements were not available.
Apple founder and CEO Steve Jobs has leapfrogged News Corp mogul Rupert Murdoch, ranking second on the annual MediaGuardian 100 power list, which ranks those with cultural, economic and political influence in the UK. This year's list was made up from all sectors of the media, including broadcasting, publishing, new media, advertising, marketing and PR: "Our aim is to take a snapshot of the individuals who run or influence the UK media in 2006, a reflection of what they have done over the past 12 months, and what they are likely to achieve over the next year." The top spot was taken by BBC director general Mark Thompson, while Microsoft's Bill Gates was still in the top 10, despite stepping down from day-to-day operations. Jobs, who ranked number 6 on last's year's survey, is credited with transforming "the way we consume music" for the podcasting phenomenon which brings "a voice to millions of would-be broadcasters around the globe." The selection committee also said he was for "doing the same for television with the launch of the video iPod."
Gamebrew has announced a demo along side the release of its side-scrolling game Rage of Magic II. The game features a detailed story told through interaction and cinematic cut-scenes. "Unlike many of the predecessors to Rage of Magic II, part of the charm is the ongoing story and cinematic cut-scenes. A strange and twisted plot, filled to the brim with betrayal and backstabs is only matched by the brutal onslaught of sword swinging insanity that goes on inside the game." Rage of Magic features 35 levels of one player story mode, and two player modes including 100 levels of arena and a "versus" mode. Rage of Magic II also includes classic-styled "supers" to create combo attacks. As with most games of its type, users rise through levels by gaining skill and objects. The demo requires Mac OS X 10.4 or later and can be updated to the full version by purchasing a serial number for $20.
Mesa Dynamics has released Amnesty Singles, a new developer tool that creates applications from widgets through a drag and drop procedure. Users can drag a widget onto the Amnesty window to convert the widget into a small, standalone application. The created application offers options on how the window will act (desktop, floating, or standard) as well as features an auto-refresh timer to gather information from the internet. Though the current Amnesty product, Widget Browser, supports running widgets in Mac OS X 10.3.9 Panther, not all widgets are supported fully; therefore, Mac OS X 10.4 or later is recommended for Amnesty Singles. Amnest Singles creates Universal Binary applications for both native support on both PowerPC- and Intel-based Macs.
Now AAPL Stock: 94.17 ( -0.84 )
Filemaker provides free custom app guide
FileMaker announced today the release of the first in a three-part series of free how-to guides that will lead teams through the process of building a custom app using the FileMaker Platform. FileMaker's new how-to guides provide a step-by-step process that starts with a planning cycle covering goals, requirements, functionality and usability, and run all the way through identifying user scenarios, defining requirements, addressing integration, providing security, and deployment of the final product. http://bit.ly/1o08wQh
OCZ Trion 150 SSD shifts to 15nm TLC NAND
SSD manufacturer OCZ has updated its entry-level 2.5-inch Trion 100 SSD. The new Trion 150 has similar performance to the now replaced model, and now utilizes 15nm TLC NAND. Sequential read speeds top out at 550MB/S, with 4KB random write speeds running from 25K IOPS in the 120GB model, to 64K IOPS in the 960GB version of the drive. Endurance is limited to 30TB in the 120GB, and peaks at 240TB in the 960GB version. Retail prices vary between $46 for 120GB, to $270 for the 960GB version. http://bit.ly/1nVmlyL
Google off the hook in CAPTCHA labor suit
US District Jacqueline Scott Corley has dismissed a proposed class-action suit against Google, that alleged that Google secretly was given an economic gain without user knowledge. The suit alleged, correctly, that the second word in Google's CAPTCHA service was used as a crowd-sourced word identification for Google's book-scanning project. The judge ruled that the suit as filed had no facts to support a "reasonable consumer would expect to receive compensation" for the seconds it took to complete the form, and in addition, the free Gmail account provided more than offset any labor penalty incurred by the user. http://bit.ly/1o06Cir
Secure your Google accounts today
Google is offering 2GB of Google Drive storage today for free, if users check the security of their accounts. As part of Safer Internet Day 2016, the scheme will give the 2GB storage extension to anyone going through the Google Security Checkup, examining connected devices, permissions, and other security settings associated with their Google account.
Swift benchmarking suite goes open-source
Following the release of new betas for all its platforms, Apple on Monday also made a suite of 75 tools for benchmarking Swift-developed coding projects, including libraries for benchmarking functions, a utility for comparing the resulting metrics, and a driver for running them. The company says it is asking the community for help in developing additional benchmarks, as well as further "helper" libraries and overall code review for better stability and performance. Apple plans to include benchmark pull requests in Swift's new continuous integration system as well. http://bit.ly/1W8u0EU
Instagram now supporting multiple accounts
As reported earlier, Instagram is now rolling out support for multiple accounts (up to five) in version 7.1.5 of its iOS app. The feature has been one of the main attractions of third-party Instagram clients, but it is unclear if users must seek out an "add account" preference in the app; additionally, some users are reporting that the ability to add accounts has not yet been added. The company says notifications "depend on when you last logged in, and the number of devices that are logged into that account," suggesting not all notifications across accounts will appear when logged into a given one. http://bit.ly/1moh95p
Pictures of Galaxy S7, Edge leaked
New images have been leaked of Samsung's new Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge. The images of the Galaxy S7 are very similar to a draft leaked earlier this year, with a curved back reminiscent of the iPhone 3G with the normal Samsung camera hump in the upper center of the phone. The picture of the Galaxy S7 Edge as leaked is running a benchmark application showing modest improvements over the S6 line, if accurate. Both models are expected to be formally announced in a February 21 press event hosted by Samsung. http://bit.ly/20Gf07X