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Video game gets iTunes
A startup video-game developer said it will integrate Apple's iTunes into an upcoming video game by the company. Game developer Left Behind Games will allow users to purchase tracks and play custom iTunes playlists from within its Eternal Forces real-time strategy video game, which is scheduled to ship in October. "After each game level you win, a reward screen pops up with the name of the song and artist," Jeff Frichner, Left Behind Games president and cofounder told Infoworld. "The link takes the person to the album track on the iTunes site."
OmniPlan beta available
The Omni Group has announced the public beta release of its new project management application, OmniPlan. OmniPlan, now in beta, is designed to help users create logical, manageable project planning documents. With OmniPlan you can break down tasks, optimize the resources needed for your project (people, materials, or equipment), control various costs, and monitor the entire project at a glance. Every project is made up of a collection of different activities; OmniPlan provides features like Gantt charts, schedules, summaries, milestones, and critical path highlighting to help you manage basic planning options along with offering more in-depth functionality. OmniPlan features include easy task entry, in-depth resource management, a scheduling system for tasks and resources, visual timelines (Gantt charts), violation notification, critical path highlighting, and a number of import and export options, including the ability to round-trip with Microsoft Project. The beta expires August 26th; The final release of OmniPlan will retail for $150 (educational and family pricing will be announced at that time).
Elgato EyeTV 2.3 released
Elgato has released an update to its EyeTV 2.3 software. EyeTV is the software used to power Elgato's EyeTV product line of analog and digital TV input devices. The update features new Front Row integration boasting access to live TV, recordings, EyeTV settings, schedules and a program guide -- all usable in Front Row's EyeTV menu. While watching through Front Row, video is full-screen and supports the Apple remote fully including the ability to get show details and control the channel and playback. Also added this version is support for Windows Media export and better export speed to all previously supported formats. Version 2.3 is a free upgrade to all EyeTV 2.0 or later license holders as well as owners of cards that shipped with EyeTV 1.8 software. Users of older EyeTV products may upgrade for $80. Mac OS X 10.4 or later running on a G4, G5, or Core Duo system runnign at 500MHz or faster.
Web Echo, Desk Lamp
Keep It Together 1.2 ($25) helps users to manage documents, images, movies, plain text, sounds, web pages, and bookmarks in a scrapbook format. The update features the ability to save bookmarks and create web archives alongside an enhanced user interface, improved file previews, and improvements to the search feature. Keep It Together 1.2 requires Mac OS X 10.4 or later.
[Download - 1.5MB]
iSpeak It 3.0 ($20) allows users to make use of Apple's text-to-speech capabilities to convert documents such as Word, AppleWorks, TXT, RTF, and Pages 2 into audio files which users can place on their iPods. Version 3.0 features support for Xgrid to make use of more than one computer to convert documents to audio files. Also added is improved support for Web Feeds including drag and drop support for URLs, enhanced Atom feeds support, and document processing enhancements such as better support for paragraphs and sentence breaks. Mac OS X 10.4 or later is required. [Download - 404KB]
Web Echo 1.0 ($15) is a tool that removes the need for .Mac to automatically sync and manage an iWeb-created website. Without using drag and drop, Web Echo will search for files in a specified project folder and upload the necessary files to a FTP web server of the user's choice. iWeb is not needed as any folder can be specified to sync. Mac OS X 10.4 or later is required. [Download - 2.1MB]
Desk Lamp 0.9 ($20) allows users to search their computer using Spotlight technology while offering more features such as searching Web history and a customizable view layout. Version 0.9 adds the ability to pause searches in progress, an enhanced outline view, and improved overall stability. This version requires Mac OS X 10.4 or later. When version 1.0 is released the price will be raised to $25. [Download - 400KB]
Platypus 3.4 (free) is a developer tool for creating application wrappers around scripts such as a Mac OS X application that execute bundled scripts. This version features support for Intel-based Macs as a Universal binary while also packing bug corrections, updated documentation, performance upgrades, and new options for the command line tool. Mac OS X 10.3.9 or later is required to run Platypus or the applications created with it. [Download - 2.0MB]
DRM "hurts" customers
The hotly-debated topic of digital rights management (DRM) restrictions imposed upon consumers of digital works to guard against piracy continues to rage, as one columnist claims that only two types of DRM exist, and that Apple's FairPlay DRM hurts both customers and partners. "Apple sold a billion tracks in three years in spite of its DRM, not because of it," said InformationWeek columnist Cory Doctorow. "No Apple customer bought an iTune because of the DRM." The author cites previously-proposed restrictions by industry executives, such as characterizing skipping commercials on TV as theft, but allowing "a certain amount of bathroom activity."
Director coming to Mactels
Macromedia Director is still alive, despite widespread rumors that the software would be dropped by Adobe. "Director will be updated to run natively on Intel-based Macintosh computers and on the Windows Vista operating system," said Tom Higgins, product manager for Director and the Shockwave Player. "In addition, Adobe plans to update projector creation abilities and the Shockwave Player to offer native run-time playback on the full range of modern hardware and operating systems. This will enable developers to create content for both Intel-based Macintosh computers and the Windows Vista operating system," Higgins said. Director was thought by some to have fallen through the cracks after Adobe's acquisition of Macromedia, according to Digital Producer Magazine.
Discolored MacBook repair
Following the discovery of a strange discoloration in its MacBook line after the company introduced the notebook earlier this year, Apple has instructed retailers to replace MacBooks if they meet certain requirements. The serial number of the computer must fall between 4H617XXXXXXXX to 4H627XXXXXXXX, and proper cleaning measures must be taken to ensure the discoloration is not a stain. The noted discoloration caused certain white MacBook cases to turn shades of orange, but according to a report from AppleInsider, Apple will replace the top portion of the case, including palmrest area and display bezel. The replacement program is available in all areas with affected computers, and those with damaged computers have been instructed to contact AppleCare support representatives by phone or at a local Apple retail store. [Photos courtesy of AppleInsider]
Dell, Sony look to Apple?
Large electronics manufacturers such as Dell, Sony, and Philips appear to be attempting to following Apple's lead by establishing their own chains of branded retail stores and kiosks, according to one researcher. Those endeavors could turn sour, however, as OEM storefronts and kiosks represent a major change that will disrupt the current retail ecosystem. "Bypassing their existing distributors and retailers could prove successful for some, but might present challenges for others," said ABI Research director Vamsi Sistla. Most of those vendors already boast significant online sales, but want fresh fields for expansion and the ability to provide a richer, more customized experience for shoppers than retail chains can.
Picture Porter Elite ships
Digital Foci today began shipping its Picture Porter Elite 40GB and 80GB portable digital photo albums, each featuring a built-in hard drive and memory card reader that could compete with Apple's high-end iPod line. The device features a 3.6-inch LCD allows users to rotate, zoom, pan, view EXIF information, and play picture slideshows in the field. The Picture Porter Elite can connect to a TV to share photos, and supports copying as well as archiving photos directly from any digital camera memory card without the need for cumbersome peripheral attachments or cabling. Picture Porter Elite weights 11 ounces, measures 5.3 x 3.1 x 1.1-inches, and is priced from $450. The device ships with a USB cable, video/audio cables, and earphones. [updated]
iPod failure rates
The internet community has continued to question durability of Apple's iPod line, leaving some consumers to question whether the popular portable media players are built well enough to withstand the normal everyday wear and tear. Apple has acknowledged some issues in the recent past, offering battery replacements to some and free Nano replacements to those customers who purchased the tiny players with easily-cracked or scratched LCDs. Other problems remain, however, according to a report from the Chicago Tribune, and its virtually impossible to determine how widespread the problems actually are, as Apple is the only reliable source for data; however, Apple spokesperson Natalie Kerris says that iPods have a failure rate of less than 5 percent, which is "fairly low" compared to other consumer electronics. "The vast majority of our customers are extremely happy with their iPods," Kerris said, noting that iPods are designed to last four years.
Amazon preps movie store
News that Amazon has put a lot of money and R&D into an ad-free movie download service has some investors worried after Amazon posted a drop in second quarter earnings by 58 percent, but the company may have an edge over its competitors. With the market currently dominated by Apple's iTunes Music Store, concern has surfaced over the $300 million that many believe Amazon has already spent on the service. However, existing business in DVD retail may help Amazon's case with Hollywood executives, who already have money in their pockets thanks to Amazon. This closer relationship, industry watchers believe, may force Apple to adopt a rent-to-use model instead of the existing iTunes buy-to-own model. Some believe that this might be better for Apple as most don't watch movies over and over the same way many listen to music.
TriJinx game ships
PlayFirst today announced that its action-puzzle game TriJinx: A Kristine Kross is available at Macgamestore.com. "It's Egypt in 1935 and you are trapped in the tomb of TriClops! Can you outrun this triangle trap? Match triangles and clear colors as you help Kristine Kross on her quest to find her missing father and escape." TriJinx combines classic gameplay mechanics with a dynamic rotating game board, evoking the "hypnotic charm" of Tetris or Collapse while adding action and speed. TriJinx features ten chambers, scarabs which are usable to strategically clear all triangles of a single color from a chamber, the ability to create bombs from four smaller triangles of the same color to explode stone blocks, multi-colored triangle wildcards, and chameleons that constantly change colors. TriJinx: A Kristine Kross is priced at $20, and requires Mac OS X 10.3.9 or later.
Akoustik Piano 1.1r2
Native Instruments has released Akoustik Piano 1.1r2, a free update for its acclaimed piano software instrument. The new version offers significant improvements and additional features in almost every area, further extending its recognized strengths in sonic realism, playability, functionality and ease-of-use, according to the company. In addition to an enahnced user interface, version 1.1 features a new Overtone technology that delivers strikingly realistic string resonance for all three grand pianos and the upright piano. "To provide even smoother sonic characteristics across the full key range, the sample sets of all four included pianos have been meticulously retuned and re-adjusted in the new version," according to the company. The update also adds Stretched Tuning, the preferred tuning mode for classical solo piano performances, as well as the highly realistic "Repedalling" behavior to its implementation of the sustain pedal.
iTunes social network
Music website GarageBand.com today said it has raised $2.5 million in equity financing from Khosla Ventures, as well as from individual investors. The company is testing a new music-oriented social network designed for iTunes users, from which it hopes to generate revenue, according to Bizjournals.com. Among the individual investors named was David Weiden, a new Khosla partner who joined in 2006, as well as MTV co-founder Bob Pittman, both of whom took seats on GarageBand.com's advisory board.
Canon debuts HD camcorders
Canon today unveiled its XH A1 and XH G1 three-CCD HD camcorders, designed for broadcasters, cinematographers, an dproduction facilities. Building on the image quality of the XL H1 model, the XH A1 and XH G1 HD camcorders offer a Genuine Canon 20x HD zoom lens, Super Range Optical Image Stabilization, as well as 60i, 24F, and 30F frame rates. Both camcorders feature three 1/3-inch native 16:9 1440 x 1080 CCDs that capture images at 1080i resolution, and can utilize the 24 Frame rate to create the feel of movie film. Users can also send their cameras in to Canon's Factory Service Center for an optional 50i/60i upgrade to conform to PAL standards. The XH A1 model is slated for shipment in late October for an estimated price of $4,000, while the XH G1 model adds HD-SDI output with embedded audio and timecode; Genlock synchronization and Timecode In/Out is expected to ship in mid-November for $7,000.
HD2GO iPod competitor
MediaGear today introduced the HD2GO, its portable media player that can display photos, play music, and enables users to watch full-color videos on a 3.6-inch LCD. The gadget stands to compete with Apple's market leading fifth-generation iPod, which retails for $300 or $400 for 30GB and 60GB capacities, respectively. The HD2GO can store more than 10,000 digital photos and up to 25 hours of video, according to MediaGear, and accepts memory cards from digital cameras to transfer photos. A standard USB cable from a PC supports video/music transfers, and the device features navigational icons for all playback options after it powers up. The HD2GO offers an average of 4.5 hours of video playback time, or 15 hours of audio playback on a single charge, and the Lithium-ion battery is rechargeable in five hours' time. The HD2GO is priced at $300.
22Moo, iTunes Kiosk
Australian hardware and software developer 22Moo today began development on an iTunes Kiosk called the "PodBuffet." The prototype will be powered by an Intel-based Mac mini running a 15-inch TFT touch screen with virtual keyboard software, a wireless internet connection, and a customized application for timed access to iTunes. The "PodBuffet" iTunes Kiosk will also feature multiple dock connectors, as well as female USB and FireWire ports to accommodate older iPods and Shuffle owners. 22Moo hopes to allow iPod owners around the world to download videos and music to their portable devices in locations such as airports, train stations, hotels, and shopping centers.
40GB portable HD ships
I/OMagic has launched its Data To Go 2.5-inch 40GB mobile hard drive featuring USB 2.0 connectivity, as well as compatibility with both Mac and PC systems. Data To Go 40 requires no external power supply, boasting a maximum data transfer rate of 450MB per second with the enclosure measuring 5 x 3 x 1/2-inches. CEO of I/OMagic, Tony Shahbaz, believes that regular consumers will find this drive useful, stating that "it offers the additional storage space needed for mobile consumers that want to carry large quantities of photos, music, video or documents with them where ever they go." The package includes the 40GB drive with enclosure, a USB cable, and a one-year warranty for $110.
Mori 1.3 released
Hog Bay Software today released Mori 1.3, a digital notebook designed to help users record and organize notes. Mori 1.3 adds the ability to recognize URLs in notes, turning them into clickable links, and includes a "section links" feature allowing users to extract selected text into a new entry by leaving a link to that entry in place of text. The update also adds a "find similar" command that attempts to locate other entries similar to selected entries. "Mori provides a place to remember your notes and organize your ideas. Search through your entire notebook in a flash with its built in search engine, or use Spotlight to search through all of your notebooks at once," wrote Hog Bay Software. "Mori's familiar Mail style interface will get you started quickly. Once you've entered your notes-sort, link, and alias them to match what you are thinking." Mori 1.3 is priced at $30 and requires Mac OS X 10.4 or later.
Komodo 4.0 beta released
SnapMail, Merlin 2
Cheetah3D 3.4 ($100) is a 3D modeller, renderer, and animation suite designed for Mac OS X. Version 4.3 adds support for animating objects along spline paths, new "Target" and "Spline Tracking" tags, a coordinate system tool, improved drag-and-drop support for transformation actions, enhanced OpenGL speed, the ability to lock all object parameters, and several bug fixes. Cheetah3D requires Mac OS X 10.4 or later.
[Download - 19.9MB]
Rise of Nations 1.0.1 ($50) is a Real-Time Strategy game that allows users to play from the beginnings of humanity to build their own nation through espionage, diplomacy, trade, and war. The update fixes a problem with in-game sound caused by the QuickTime 7.1.2 update. Rise of Nations 1.0.1 requires Mac OS X 10.2.8 or later. [Download - 6.4MB]
SnapMail 4.4 ($32 per seat) allows users to send messages and transfer files in an office environment to other SnapMail clients running Microsoft Windows or Mac OS X. Version 4.4 fixes problems caused by renaming server, improves speed of messages, enhances application file transfers, adds auto-reply indication, and restores support for file detachment in Tiger. The software requires Mac OS X 10.2 or later. [Download - 7.0MB]
Merlin 2.0b4 (free) is a project management application that offers contained functions along with complete risk and file management. The update adds support for hourly resource leveling, new keystroke functions, enhanced resource management, and improved compatibility with user defined fields in any project, activity, or element. Merlin 2beta4 will expire on August 14th, and requires Mac OS X 10.4.5 or later. [Download - 18.2MB]
iGlases 1.3.5 ($10) is a tool to adjust video input captured from Apple's iSight camera that features adjustments such as color, brightness, focus, orientation, and exposure. The update includes support for Skype Video Preview for Mac, Yahoo Messenger 3.0b, Journler, and Gawker. iGlase requires an iSight or iBot webcam and Mac OS X 10.4.5 or later. [Download - 1.5MB]
McAfee VirusScan 8.5 beta
McAfee has released a preview update to its virus protection program VirusScan, previously known as Virex. The VirusScan 8.5 beta features native support for Intel-based Macs as a Universal Binary, the first in the Virex product line. VirusScan 8.5 also offers "True On Access Scanning," which scans every file being accessed from or written to the machine and blocks infections when needed. This module replaces the Active Scanner, Background Scanner, and Mounted Volume Scanner used in earlier versions of Virex and does not scan inside Stuffit archives. Version 8.5 also features the new 5100 McAfee Anti-Virus engine and support for scanning Apple Mail's email messages for infections. Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger or later is required.
Sales promotions, books
In brief: Hewlett-Packard is hoping to be more like Apple in the eyes of consumers as it launches a new viral marketing campaign and following last year's hiring of Satjiv Chahil, a former marketing executive at Palm, Sony and Apple.... KeyBank is now offering a free 1GB iPod nano when customers open a checking account and sign up for either direct deposit or Key credit card.... The author of Mac OS X Internals: A Systems Approach has released the first chapter of the book, free for users to read, on the technical history of Apple's OS releases.... Nisus Software has announced its Hotter Thank July Sale, offering its word processor for $20 off the regular price.... Spiderworks has released a new book titled "Learn Objective-C on the Macintosh", designed to help programmers learn more and become a "programming superhero" -- it is now available for $30 (print) or $15 (eBook).
Wrist-area skins for Macs
Shuffleart has released new wrist-area covers for MacBooks, MacBook Pros, iBook G4s, and PowerBook G4s. The covers, called Koobniks, protect the wrist's resting area below the keyboard along with a separate piece to cover the trackpad button. Currently there are six designs offered--printed on both black and white backgrounds with contrasting foreground colors including white, grey, pink, and purple. The designs are printed on a vinyl film that helps to protect the computer from scratches and other damage. When the user wants to switch designs or remove the Koobnik all together, Suffleart claims that there will be no residue left behind and that the film is reusable. Each design costs $25 and is available to purchase now.
iMac G3 users, Zune
Forums roundup: One user believes that Apple over prices their computers citing Dell's offerings, while another believes that the MacBook Pro is as close to perfection as Apple has ever been and another questions Apple's reliability recently after hearing the poster reactions to recent Apple releases including the MacBook.... After the Mighty Mouse was released earlier today, users discuss its value and features compared to similarly priced devices on the market.... Yet more users discuss the impending release of Microsoft's Zune media player and whether it will raise the bar or under deliver... Meanwhile, owners of the iMac G3 discuss their iMacs as they run today and modern-day uses for aging computers.
Extensis Portfolio 8.1
Extensis today will release a free update to Portfolio 8, its Digital Asset Management (DAM) solution for creative professionals. Portfolio 8.1 brings native compatibility on Intel-based Macs by offering a Universal Binary. The free update supports Portfolio single-user, Portfolio Client, Portfolio Server, Portfolio NetPublish, Portfolio NetPublish for Server, Portfolio SQL-Connect and Portfolio Browser. Portfolio 8 streamlines workflows through efficient organization, viewing, routing, archiving and distribution of creative assets. Portfolio 8.1 is immediately available via download as a free update to registered Portfolio 8 users or $200 for a single-user version. [site not yet updated]
KnowledgeMiner 5.3 ships
Script Software today released KnowledgeMiner 5.3, an update to its solution for knowledge discovery (structure) via data mining (information) that can be used in any field of human inquiry to reveal new and previously unknown relationships in data. It can be used for stocks, currencies and financial trading as well as other types of research in analyzing and deciphering large amounts of data. The software employs a set of unique inductive learning and self-organizing modeling technologies: GMDH Neural Networks, Fuzzy Rule Induction, and Analog Complexing pattern recognition for time series prediction, classification, modeling, clustering, and diagnosis of complex ill-defined systems. Version 5.3 adds automated fuzzy model based defuzzification and a new self-detecting defuzzification model for back-transforming results into the initial data space. In addition, the software now works on both static and dynamic fuzzy models. KnowledgeMinder 5.3 is available in Copper Student ($65), Copper ($120), Silver ($400), Gold ($780), and Platinum ($1800) editions.
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