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CD scratching, Leopard
Forums roundup: Many are acknowledging some MacBook Pros have faulty components, which results in the infamous "MacBook Pro whine"..... After a recent rumor surfaced that PowerPC developers are still designing next generation chips, users discuss possible implications and uses of the new chips for Apple and future computers.... Several MacBook owners report their slot-loading CD/DVD drives are scratching media when the notebook is tilted slightly--and reporting varying success in trying to get Apple to fix the computers.... Users speculate about Mac OS X Leopard's features as there have yet to be any information leaks leading up to WWDC.... Meanwhile, a user asks for help finding a storage solution for his growing hard drive needs.
National photo contest
In brief: Casio is teaming up with the National Park Foundation for the "Share the Experience" Photo Contest, challenging people visiting National parks, forests, fishing holes, and monuments to take photos for the chance to win cameras, a Ford Escape Hybrid, and vacations to federal recreation areas.... Peachpit today released "Real World Aperture" ($35), offering readers an in-depth understanding of Aperture tools.... Now Software today began offering families the ability to purchase four or five user "packs" of Now Up-to-Date & Contact, the company's group calendar and contact management software.... Early bird pricing is still available for the Photoshop World Conference & Expo, an educational event offering more than 75 classes over a three day period.... PlayFirst has released Sweetopia, a new downloadable game delivering "a sure-fire sugar rush," taking players on a fast-paced adventure through a mysterious labyrinth candy factory.
Alien Skin Blow Up
Alien Skin Software has released Blow Up, an automation plug-in for Adobe Photoshop and Photoshop Elements that offers the best image resizing capability available, according to the company. The plug-in is designed to make advanced image scaling easy while preserving smooth edges and lines, creating four 1600 percent enlargements from any image without jagged artifacts or halos. Blow Up features grain controls, enlargement-specific sharpening, and support for most image modes. The plug-in also supports 16- and 32-bit images, is optimized for multi-core as well as multi-processor systems, and works with the CMYK image mode. Blow Up ($200, $100 for upgrade) requires Mac OS X 10.3.9 or later with Adobe Photoshop CS or later.
Wolfram Research has released webMathematica 2.3, supporting 64-bit computing to expand the size and scope of scientific problems that websites can reliably solve. "WebMathematica was already the ideal all-in-one solution for putting interesting science online, but now it's much more," said Tom Wickham-Jones, director of kernel technology for Wolfram Research. "We've added the power of true 64-bit computing so developers can build more dynamic sites and their users can experience the next wave of technical computing right through the Web." The update offers 64-bit enhanced arbitrary-precision numerics, multithreading support for numerical linear Algebra, major vectorization speed improvements, RSS as well as vCard import, and enhanced charts/visualizations (pricing and system requirements were unavailable).
RSS Replay 1.0 released
ID Font Catalog, PC to Mac
CenterStage 0.6 (free) is an open-source media center suite featuring movie, music, and image management with easy viewing capability. Version 0.6 adds support for Intel-based Macs as a Universal Binary, compatibility with dual-monitor systems, accepts input from Apple Remotes, enhances support for smart folders, improves compatibility with eyeTV products, and adds support for RadioShark for AM/FM tuning. CenterStage requires Mac OS X 10.4 or later.
[Download - 16.7MB]
PC-Mac-Net FileShare 6.1 ($15) is a utility to share files, backup data, and remotely control media playback on Mac OS, Linux, and Windows systems across local area networks as well as the internet. The update features an enhanced activity list, improved backup plan notification, better support for MD5 files, improved performance, support for VLC media player, and many minor bug fixes. The software requires Mac OS X 10.1 or later. [Download - 22.7MB]
Scorecard 1.0 ($30) allows golf enthusiasts to track statistics on Mac systems. The application offers comprehensive statistics, helping users discover trends and explore aspects of their gameplay that might otherwise go unnoticed. Statistics are viewable over a period of time, offering users an idea about whether they are improving or need to work on areas of play. Scorecard requires Mac OS X 10.4 or later. [Download - 1.0MB]
Corripio 0.5 (free) fetches, previews, and syncs album artwork as well as lyrics for iTunes and iPods. Version 0.5 allows users to preview artwork, search more than one database at a time, choose file types that will appear in search results, and set symbols. The latest version also updates the help files while fixing several bugs left in previous versions. Corripio 0.5 requires Mac OS X 10.4 or later. [Download - 1.5MB]
InDesign Font Catalog 1.5 ($10) uses Adobe InDesign to gather a list of available fonts and creates a sample of each font family's primary font style. The update adds the ability to make a sample for each font family, create a single paragraph listing style, automatically create bookmarks, create page titles, and customize character, word, or sentence samples. Mac OS X 10.3 or 10.4 and above with Adobe InDesign CS1 or CS2 is required. [Download - Pay-to-Download]
iPod iTrax Mixing Console
Gemini DJ today released its iTrax Mixing Console for iPod, offerin video-enabled iPod compatibility with a USB port and input selection switches. The iTrax Mixing Console features two angled docking stations that allow easy access to iPod controls, with each channel featuring 3-band equalizer controls that include gain and phono/line input switches for interfacing with additional audio devices. The iTrax features a master volume control, dual VU meter display, a user-replacable X-Fader, a cue section, and a microphone control panel with 2-band equalizer functionality as well as volume control. The iTrax is priced at $230 (availability information was unavailable). [corrected]
Apple, Coke to promo iTMS
Apple and Coca Cola have agreed to jointly promote the European iTunes site, according to one report. Coke will link its website to Apple's iTunes under the new agreement, offering millions of free digital music downloads on its drinks in the UK and Germany, according to FT.com. "For Coca-Cola, it is clear that as consumers spend more time online and we need to find ways to become an important, relevant part of their lives," Tim Kopp said, vice president of global interactive marketing for Coke. The deal follows Apple's partnership with Nike, The Gap, and Facebook to bolster its iTunes Music Store offerings. iTunes is the market leader of digital music stores, dominating the industry with more than one billion tracks sold as of February 23rd, 2006.
Apple Security Update
Apple today issued Security Update 2006-004, addressing numerous issues in Mac OS X Panther/Tiger Clien and Server. The update affects AFP Server, AppKit, ImageIO, Bluetooth Setup Assistant, Bom, DHCP, dyld, fetchmail, gunzip, Image RAW, LaunchServices, OpenSSH, telnet, WebKit, and AppKit. Users can update Mac OS X via the Software Update pane in System Preferences or head to Apple's website to obtain the necessary fixes. [updated]
HTC Excalibur Rumor
When it comes to full-size Windows smartphones, the Motorola Q has few competitors. This may be about to change: an image of what's purported to be the HTC Excalibur has leaked to the Internet. In addition, a few key specifications accompany the rumor. The Excalibur would be a quad-band GSM phone with WiFi and a unique interface twist. Instead of a jog dial (as seen on Blackberries and other smartphones), there's a touch strip to the right of the screen that should make for less wear on people's thumbs as they scroll through menus and media. No tentative release date has been given other than "soon."
Aegis Portable drive ships
Apricorn today unveiled the Aegis Portable, a 2.5-inch external hard drive and backup system for Mac and PC notebooks. The pocket-sized device features an integrated USB cable, and is bus-powered to reduce necessary cabling. Additional features include ShirtPocket SuperDuper! backup software; Synchronize! X synchronization software; and Apricorn Encryption Utility software. The Aegis Portable is available in capacities of 40GB ($110), 80GB ($150), 120GB ($220), and 160GB ($300). The drive requires Mac OS X 10.2 or later.
napster player review
Vertical integration between music player hardware and software is currently in vogue as a means of trying to regain marketshare from the iPod, and Microsoft's Zune player and software strategy is only a latecomer to the party. Napster just recently released a music player line of its own and hopes to lure people to its music service by offering discounted hardware for people who subscribe to Napster To Go. The recently released DMPJ-250c is the higher-end model of the bunch, holding 1 GB of songs and packing a color display and FM tuner. Is it worthwhile? CNET tested the 250c recently and finds that the discount is the main selling point: while the sound quality is good and there's an abundance of features, the included earbuds are sub-par and the player is otherwise resolutely average. Still, for an additional $50 beyond subscription fees it's an inexpensive way to carry your all-you-can-eat music service with you.
Could the shrinking of E3 affect the size of the Penny Arcade Expo (PAX)? Mike "Gabe" Krahulik seems to think so, based on a recent post at his popular comic's Website. He claims a projected attendance of 13,000 people at the next PAX (August 25-27th), and to have already received calls from many publishers and devlopers interested in exhibiting at PAX 2007. Unlike E3, PAX concentrates on entertainment over promotion, featuring events like concerts, tournaments, discussion panels, and 24-hour tabletop gaming. In the absence of the semi-public forum that E3 provided however, companies may be flocking to PAX in order to get in touch with their target audience. The expo is already supported by names like Nintendo, Ubisoft, Microsoft and ATI.
3G modem for Mac
Vodafone UK has released the Vodafone Mobile Connect USB Modem in the UK, which originally debuted in Australia early last month. The new modem is based on 3G technology capable of establishing 1.4Mbps connection speeds on UK networks. The model features USB connectivity instead of the traditional PCMCIA/PC card connectivity used in many modems today. Featuring full Mac compatibility, the modem fixes the problem which arose when Apple released its MacBooks without expansion slots, as well as the MacBook Pros with advanced ExpressCard technology which is still gaining market speed. Vodafone UK expects a 1GB monthly transfer limit with upload speeds of 384Kbps in the near future, and currently offers 3G coverage of all major areas. The company plans to cover 75 percent of the UK population by next summer.
Much attention has been given lately to integrating digital music playback with cars, but it's not often that people think of getting music alongside GPS, photos, and videos in the same box. Mio Technology did, and the company is betting that people are willing to buy a single unit for their car that handles almost everything. The company today pulled the wraps off the Digiwalker C710, which is a GPS unit that also plays MP3 music, JPEG photos, and DivX videos stored on SD or MMC cards. There's even an integrated Bluetooth chipset that can pair with a cellphone for hands-free calls. Not everyone wants a jack-of-all-trades, but for $649 it should be less expensive than the combination of a GPS unit and a portable media player.
Sony unveils NW-E Walkman
Sony today unveiled the NW-E Walkman, its new flash-based digital music player boasting up to 28 hours of battery life that will compete with Apple's iPod nano. Sony is offering the new player in six colors with 512MB, 1GB, and 2GB storage capacities. The player features a built-in FM tuner while supporting AAC (non-DRM), MP3, WMA (non-DRM), and ATRAC music files. A "quick-charge" feature enables users to charge the device for three minutes for up to three hours of playback time. The new Walkman is compatible with the Sony Connect online music service, and includes SonicStage software to import, manage, or transfer music. The gadget offers USB 2.0 connectivity, a one-line OEL display, and a built-in equalizer. Each Sony NW-E Walkman ships with black or white earbud earphones for $70 (512MB), $100 (1GB), or $130 (2GB).
Apple axes AppleCentre
Apple is phasing out the AppleCentre brand in Australia, and is asking partners to re-apply for their certifications. AppleCentre partners have until January 31st of 2007 to create their own branding and remove all references to AppleCentre, according to iTnews. The move to rebrand comes alongside the recently-announced "Apple Premium Reseller Program," which will offer marketing incentives as well as training to participants. Apple hopes the rebranding effort will improve the customer experience, and promised not to short-change reseller partners as part of the effort. Apple said it will authorize accreditation to partners that fail to meet the criteria or decide not to apply for Apple Premium Reseller certification.
iSoundCap iPod hat ships
iSoundCap today released the iSoundCap, a hat for iPod owners that keeps earbud wires above the wearer's neck. The apparel is designed to hold the iPod Nano and iPod Shuffle in a tight compartment stitched into the Cap, and features a tight sleeve for the wires along with a spool to keep them neatly wrapped up. The hat allows easy access to and control of the players during activities. "The Cap is extremely fashionable but also provides a function," said Karl Foust, CEO of iSoundCap. The iSoundCap is available for $30 in black, white, black "structured," white "structured," and pink.
Targus Bluetooth laser
Targus has released a new notebook mouse featuring Bluetooth connectivity and laser tracking. The Targus Bluetooth Laser Mouse allows the mouse to charge while in use with bus-powered USB 'trickle' charging. The mouse works at a range of up to 33 feet, and features an 800 or 1600 DPI switch. Designed for users on-the-go, the mouse measures 4.1 x 2.1 x 1.4-inches and includes a carrying case. Last week Apple introduced its own wireless Bluetooth mouse with four buttons, a 360-degree scroll wheel, and laser tracking capability. Much like the new MightyMouse, the Targus boasts 20x better performance than the previous optical version. The new Targus Bluetooth Mouse is priced at $80.
"Live" satellite handheld
Though price and technical details are currently absent, Sirius on Tuesday announced that it plans a "personal live satellite radio" device launch later in August. Its current codename is "Stiletto." While Sirius already has a handheld, the S50, the unit can only play live satellite radio if connected to a PC set to use the service; without this, users are limited to transferring content they've recorded. The addition of a truly live portable player should help Sirius in its fierce marketshare battle with XM, as for months Sirius has had nothing to counter live XM radio players such as the Pioneer Inno.
NeoOffice 2.0 Aqua Beta
The NeoOffice open-source project has released NeoOffice 2.0 Aqua Beta, updating the fully-featured set of office applications for Mac OS X. NeoOffice bundles word processing, spreadsheet, presentation, and drawing applications while integrating numerous of native Mac features. The software supports import, edit, and exchange of files with other popular office programs such as Microsoft Office, and is actively maintained by a team of open-source developers. Featuring native Aqua interface elements such as file open and save dialogs, NeoOffice requires no X11 software to install while integrating with Finder as well as Mail. NeoOffice requires Mac OS X 10.3 or later, and is available to users who have subscribed to an Early Access program. [corrected]
sony nw-e players
Sony's latest bid to compete with Apple's dominance of the US digital audio player market was unveiled today when the company announced the launch of its NW-E00 series of Walkman players, which compete directly with the iPod shuffle. The flash-based lineup ranges from $69 for 512MB to $129 for 2GB of storage. Each player has an FM tuner, a one-line OLED screen, and a fast-charge feature which offers 3 hours of playback after 3 minutes of charge time. Sony claims a battery life of 28 hours, though this is only at a low-quality 48Kbps data rate. The players are available for preorder today at the Sonystyle website and are expected to ship by August 15th.
iPod wine guide unveiled
CyraKnow today launched its new Mark Phillips Wine Guide in audio format created specifically for iPod-using wine enthusiasts. The introduction to wine for iPod is designed to help new and seasoned wine students learn by a novel, practical approach. The audio guide includes more than 1.5 hours of practical advice recorded by Mark Phillips, according to CyraKnow, organized into categories such as "How to describe wine" and "how to buy wine." The guide is 32MB, is compatible with Mac OS X 10.2 as well as Windows 2000/XP, and works with any iPod featuring a Dock connector or clickwheel. The Mark Phillips Wine Guide is priced at $35.
Quicken Mac 2007 released
Intuit today released Quicken Mac 2007, introducing comprehensive paycheck management, 401(k) investment management, and a QuickEntry dashboard widget. The software's 401(k) feature allows users to download and track accounts, investments, share holdings, and daily prices from within Quicken. Users can also download, track, and verify the accuracy of information contained in paychecks via an easy-to-use interface. The QuickEntry widget enables Mac users to enter details of expenses without running the application. Quicken Mac 2007 is available for $70, and requires Mac OS X 10.3.9 or later.
UT2K7 in 2007
Epic's high-profile FPS title has been delayed, according to publisher Midway. It had been scheduled to ship later this year, but a PR representative has told GameSpot that the PC version is now "slated to hit in the first half of 2007." In theory this could be as late as next June. The article also mentions an uncertain release date for the Playstation 3 port of the game, and doubts as to whether or not an Xbox 360 version will be happening at all. Though Midway CEO David Zucker has previously said that there would be a port, since that statement, there has been no confirmation. The best the PR representative could offer is, "I would say that your assumption [of a 360 port] is relatively plausible."
Zinc OSX 18.104.22.168 released
Multidmedia Limited (MDM) today released Zinc OSX 22.214.171.124, an update to its flash application development software that offers support for Intel-based Macs, as well as Mac screensaver output capability. Zinc OSX 2.5 features new MDM Script 2.0 support, compatibility with Flash 8, functionality as a standalone application or a plug-in, and synchronous script execution. The software offers form-based development of flash applications, AppleScript integration, single-source export to Mac OS X as well as Microsoft Windows, and the ability to build masked projectors. Zinc OSX 126.96.36.199 is priced at $300, requires Mac OS X 10.2 or later, and is compatible with Macromedia Flash 6, 7, and 8.
youtube vs myspace
The latest studies by Nielsen/NetRatings show that video host YouTube is now getting a larger share of Internet traffic than the social networking site MySpace. An article by Guardian Unlimited shows that YouTube commands an Internet viewing share of 3.9% of all Internet visits per day, compared to 3.35% for MySpace. The article also states that YouTube's growth is extremely rapid while MySpace appears to be slowing down. Researchers attribute the difference in popularity mainly to the more "universal appeal" of videos.
Konami Hawaii gone
As a part of global restructuring, Konami's Hawaii studio is closing, says Honolulu's Star Bulletin. The studio was responsible for titles like DDR Ultramix 2 and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Mutant Melee. Forty employees will be affected. Though the company intends to pull all game development out of the United States eventually, Konami says it will try to find places for the Hawaii workers elsewhere in the organization. Continued US operations will now be focused on casino and "digital entertainment" operations in Los Angeles and Las Vegas.
Saints Row demo
The demo for Volition's Saints Row, a much-anticpated, GTA-like title for the Xbox 360, is now downloadable through the Xbox Live Marketplace. It had previously been available only to people pre-ordering the product through stores. The game sets the player as a member of the Third Street Saints, a gang violently seizing territory from the three rivals that control the city of Still Water. One of the highlights of the game is the extreme level of freedom it allows in everything from customizing your appearance to making money and earning respect.
Pod Safe locks iPods
Secure-It today unveiled the Pod Safe, a portable locking security case for Apple's iPod that fully contains the player to help prevent loss or theft. The Pod Safe case is made from high impact PolyCarbon strengthened ABS material which protects the device while providing easy access to controls as well as playing features when locked. The Pod Safe includes a four-digit, resettable combination lock incorporating a locking steel cable that can lock to various objects such as a backpack or briefcase. Pod Safe models fit iPod nano, fifth-generation iPod with video, iPod photo, and fourth-generation iPod models. The accessory is available in either black or white from $40.
PSP winning in the US?
While Nintendo is selling more units of its DS portable worldwide (at 21 million shipped), Sony's PSP is trouncing the DS in Europe and North America, says Pocket Gamer. Sony leads with 6.7 and 8.2 million units respectively, in contrast to Nintendo's 6.1 and 5.9. The bulk of DS sales have been in Asia, where there are 9.2 million units. There are only 5.2 million PSPs in that region. Things become a bit more complicated when it comes to software sales; Sony boasts of 56 million titles sold worldwide (25 million in North America), but it's unknown how many of those might be UMD movies. Nintendo sold 18 million games between April and June 2006, 4.4 million of which were bought in North America.
scoble vista not ready
PodTech employee and former Microsoft tech evangelist Robert Scoble said today that Windows Vista might not be ready for a release to manufacturing in October 2006, as Microsoft has previously planned. In his blog entry, he compares Vista Beta 2 to earlier Windows betas and observes that while Vista is solidifying, Beta 2 suggests that the future OS is still relatively rough and won't be truly finished in Microsoft's current schedule. Scoble's comments echo prior doubts expressed by analysts and suggest that Vista may well need to be delayed until mid-2007, giving rival Apple an opportunity to steal the limelight with Mac OS X Leopard, expected to be announced later this month and set to be release in late 2006 or early 2007.
New Lexmark laser printers
Lexmark International today introduced a new workgroup color laser printer series, the Lexmark C770 family, designed for business customers needing a versatile color printer that can handle a wide variety of media. The Lexmark C770 family includes the Lexmark C770n and C772n color laser printers and the Lexmark X772e color multifunction product (MFP) for customers who also want the ability to copy, scan and fax in monochrome and color from the same device. The Lexmark C770n can handle up to 1,100 sheets of media, and is priced at $1,000, while the Lexmark C772n is available for $1,500. The Lexmark X772e MFP adds the Lexmark 4600 scanner to a C772n with a large color touchscreen interface, and is slated for shipment on September 29th for $4,500.
Apple UK promos, WiFi ISP
In brief: Apple UK has launched a promotion similar to one unveiled in the U.S. earlier this year, offering a sizable rebate on a new iPod when purchased with a new Mac.... Apple UK today also began a new deal offering customers a rebate of UK$60 when they buy a new Mac along with a qualifying printer from an Apple retail store.... Tech Superpowers has announced that it intends to be one of the first internet service providers on a network that is being proposed by the Boston Wireless Task Force, which would result in the first Mac-only wireless ISP in the country.... Zengobi has announced that its Curio Basic Edition brainstorming and project management software is available for free for a limited time.... Iconkits.com has unveiled its latest stock icon sets which include Aquality Add On 2 Kit ($100) and Aquality Add On 3 Kit ($100), each offering 40 icons covering various concepts from computers to cash.
As most any audiophile can tell you, truly deep bass usually requires a big subwoofer to push out massive quantities of air. While that's all well and good for your home theater, it condemns anyone tight on space (or just afraid of clutter) to a kind of audio purgatory where everything sounds tinny and weak. Enter Tymphany: as Wired News reports, the company's Tymphany LAT (Linear Array Transducer) design has small diaphragms in a series that push and pull on each other, rather than a single, massive cone. This, says the company, will let them put woofers and subwoofers into computer speakers, MP3 player docks, and flat-panel HDTVs that previously had to go without. What's more is that Tymphany has also eliminated the vibration that could rattle apart that very same gear.
Zune due Nov 14?
Even though Microsoft has confirmed basic information about its Zune project, rumors continue to circulate about just when and what we'll see from the project by year's end. The latest from Gizmodo claims Microsoft wants to ship the week before Thanksgiving in U.S. in order to catch buyers right as holiday shopping reaches a fever pitch. The same tip claims that there may be a 60GB model on tap (in addition to the previously rumored 30GB) and that there will be a wide range of accessories and Zune colors to choose from.
4m orders for $100 laptop
It finally looks as though the One Laptop Per Child project is finally taking off. According to DesktopLinux.com, four countries - Argentina, Brazil, Nigeria, and Thailand - have committed to orders of a million units each of Nicholas Negroponte's laptop for the developing world. The OLPC project has previously stated that it wants at least 5 million orders before it begins manufacturing the systems in earnest, which leaves only one major buyer left to go before the concept becomes reality.
iPods help boost eMusic
The NPD Group lists the online music store eMusic as having 11 percent of online music sales, despite a lack of support from major labels. Both iLounge and USA Today cite the unrestricted MP3 format as a key factor in this success: the lack of digital rights management means eMusic customers can easily transfer purchased music to their iPods or any other player they choose without using proprietary software. While a distant second to iTunes' 67 percent market share, eMusic is well ahead of challengers such as Napster and Real Rhapsody, which are tied at 4 percent and are saddled with DRM as well as iPod incompatibility.
QuickTransit wins award
Transitive's QuickTransit, which powers Apple's Rosetta translation software, has won the Morgan Stanley Innovation Award. "By enabling immediate software migration to chosen strategic server platforms, we believe that Transitive can help eliminate much of the difficulty and expense that companies face when upgrading hardware," explained Morgan Stanley Chief Information Office Guy Chiarello. Transitive was one of the first companies to offer the technology which was later used in Rosetta, and was chosen by Apple to provide the software that has eased the transition from PowerPC to Intel processors. Bob Wiederhold, President and CEO of Transitive, stated that the award was an honor and "That their evaluation has resulted in this award is a testimony to the potential of Transitive's hardware virtualization technology." Rosetta was initially criticized by Mac fans for being too slow, but Transitive defended its technology; however, since then Transitive software has been well received by many critics.
Verizon/LG Chocolate Phone
As of Monday, subscribers to Verizon Wireless can use LG's VX8500 phone, better known as the Chocolate phone for its dark and velvety looks. The Chocolate is a slider phone with a 1.3 megapixel camera, Bluetooth 1.1, and a microSD slot. It's also a music and video phone which can play MP3 and WMA songs. In Verizon garb, users can also purchase music and videos through the company's V Cast service, which is now free following its decision to discontinue the $15 monthly fee (downloads are still $1.99 apiece) The phone is expected to cost $150 (after rebate and a two-year contract with Verizon).
Minnesota law defeated
Missed in the noise over E3 has been the success of an ESA lawsuit filed against the state of Minnesota, which had tried to enact a law fining minors $25 for buying Mature-rated games. A federal judge struck the law down, ruling that it violated the First Amendment, that the state couldn't provide evidence of harm to minors, and that the state can't apply legal restrictions to a private and voluntary ratings system. In spite of this, the St. Paul Pioneer-Press is reporting that state Senator Sandy Pappas may propose a new law in next year's session.
The House of Representatives last Thursday voted in strong favor of the Deleting Online Predators Act, which would require that libraries and schools funded by the federal government block social networking sites in an attempt to protect children from predators who might exploit the personal information on those sites to their advantage. However, opponents (which include the American Library Association and many MySpace users) say the new law is too far-reaching in scope: it could easily block any site that allows communication between users or personal profiles, which would in effect restrict access not just to social networking sites but also blogs, forums, and wikis. The bill still needs to pass the Senate vote in August before it can be signed into law by the President.
LG has dropped the idea of releasing a hybrid player that can handle both of the competing high-definition disc formats, according to Ars Technica; the company will, instead, return to its earlier focus on players that can only load Blu-Ray discs. Ars notes that there are multiple hurdles to overcome before hybrid players are even possible, including chipset development and the exclusivity of manufacturers' licensing terms (e.g., Blu-Ray licensees can't develop hybrid players).
E3 2007: the details
Following up on an earlier news story, there is more information on the next E3. The event will now take place in July, mainly so that publishers can spend more time polishing games geared for the holidays; and instead of the Los Angeles Convention Center, E3 will be held in two separate hotels. Attendance is expected to be around 5,000 people versus the more than 60,000 who attended the Expo in 2006. The proper name of the convention will be the "E3 Media Festival." IGN adds that attendees will still see press conferences from Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo, as well as the parties E3 is (in)famous for.
The lithium-ion batteries that power laptops have been coming under increasing scrutiny in recent weeks. MacNN reports Apple has announced a battery exchange program for 15-inch MacBook Pros with specific battery models, saying that they do not meet the company's "high standards for battery performance." It's unclear as to whether the recall was prompted by news of inflating MacBook Pro batteries. Regardless, affected owners can get a free exchange through Apple's support website. Users on the other side of the computing fence are faring even worse: the Sydney Morning Herald claims that Dell battery fires are more common than was previously thought, and highlights the story of an Illinois man whose Latitude D410 battery caught fire just last week, effectively destroying the system. Dell issued a battery recall in December: it appears that the manufacturer's troubles aren't over yet.
E3 changes made public
It's official: the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) says that the expo will be paring down considerably for next year. "To better address the needs of today's global computer and video game industry, the 2007 Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3Expo) is evolving into a more intimate event focused on targeted, personalized meetings and activities," according to the organization's press release. It will still take place in Los Angeles, and feature game demonstrations, but it will not be the spectacle that once filled a major convention centre.
Apple, anti-DRM complaints
Apple has offered a reply to criticism by consumer agencies in Scandinavia of its digital rights management (DRM) policy for iTunes. The Norwegian council is still reviewing the response which came in the form of a letter, according to InfoWorld, meeting the deadline set by those agencies which prompted Apple to defend itself. The letter will likely determine the future of the iTunes Music Store in Denmark, Norway, and Sweden. "If they won't change anything, we'll most probably have to take them to the court in Sweden," Bjorn Smith said, a spokesman for the Swedish Consumer Agency. [updated, corrected]
TBS adds content to iTMS
Turner Broadcasting System (TBS) today announced that programming from CNN, Adult Swim, and the Cartoon Network is now available on Apple's iTunes Music Store. In recent months TBS offered free podcasts of Adult Swim and select CNN programs to iTunes users. iTunes now offers many episodes of "CNN Presents" including "Taming the Beast: Inside the War on Cancer," "The Fight Over Faith." and "Captured: Inside the Army's Secret School." New Cartoon Network programming includes the complete first season of "Johnny Bravo." Adult Swim, the more edgy animated network for older age groups, offers "Aqua Teen Hunger Force," and "Sealab 2021." All programs are available for $1.99 per episode and available now.
Knoll Light Factory 2.5
Red Giant Software has released Knoll Light Factory 2.5, an update to its After Effects plug-in. Created by Photoshop co-creator and Star Wars effects guru John Knoll, Knoll Light Factory can digitally simulate light effects called flares. Flares simulate reflections from a very bright light source as seen in a camera's lens. Version 2.5 brings 25 new presets, including Flash Bulb, digital camera sun, and more as well adds a GPU engine for up to realtime rendering. It also adds controls for Light Factory Spectacular, including brightness and scale, and offers host support for After Effects, Motion, Final Cut Pro, Avid, and Premiere Pro. Knoll Light Factory 2.5 is available in two versions: Editors ($200) and Pro ($400). Knoll Light Factory Editors is targeted for users working primarily in one environment such as Avid Xpress Pro, Final Cut Pro, Motion, or Premiere Pro. Knoll Light Factory Pro is designed for professionals working with multiple editing and compositing applications in SD, HD, or film. Upgrades start at $100.
Telestream buys Popwire
Telestream today announced that it has completed the acquisition of Popwire, makers of the popular multiformat media encoding software for digital media production professionals. Effective immediately, Popwire will operate as Telestream AB, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Telestream, and will continue to be located in Sweden. "Compression Master is a desktop media compression application for Mac OS X users that supports a wide range of formats and compliments Telestream's Flip4Mac digital media components," the company said. "The combination of Compression Master and Compression Engine, a server-based solution for high-volume applications, fits well with Telestream's industry-leading FlipFactory transcoding workflow automation applications." Telestream said will officially introduce the integrated offerings at the International Association of Broadcasters Convention (IBC) in Amsterdam, which runs from September 8 through 12.
.Mac outages continue
Apple's .Mac suite of internet/Web services has been suffering several outages recently, and some users have began to lash out against Apple. According to CNET News.com, users are claiming these outages are unacceptable -- some of which have lasted over three days. "Those new Apple adverts are now starting to irritate me lol. Yes, 'it just works' is looking funnier by the minute," wrote one user named Allan Bell. That user then went on to add that Apple should consider adding the word "occasionally" to the .Mac campaign. Other users cite this as unacceptable as iLife features "rely" on Apple's paid .Mac service for functions such as daily backup. Apple has acknowlegded the continuing problems and said that it was looking into the issue, but that was not enough for one user under the name "BK Broiler" who posted on Apple's discussion forums stating that "It may be time to switch away from Mac after 20 years."
Small Tree, MightyMouse
In Brief: A recent report from Jon Peddie's Market Watch shows a 4.6 percent in second fall in PC graphics shipments, but a 16 percent year-over-year rise driven by a 32 percent growth in notebook graphics shipment -- with Intel leading the market, followed (distantly) by ATI (soon to be acquired by AMD) and a rising Nvidia.... CourseForum has released a new 'Basic' version of ProjectForum, a wiki-based software solution for collaboration, offering more features than the free version, but less than the 'Standard' version.... SingShot Media has released a beta of SingShot, a new Web service that lets users sing famous songs and then post them on SingShot where others will rate the performance.... Small Tree has announced two days of seminars where it will show off its high performance network solutions for Mac OS X -- registration begins soon.... Fast Icons has released a new, free six icon set, featuring the new wireless MightyMouse
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