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Font Tools 6.0 released
Veenix has released Font Tools 6.0, an update to the font utility adding document font detection, activation, and exporting. The latest iteration of Font Tools also features a text "greeking" generator feature. Font Tools scans documents for font usage and quickly activates all the necessary fonts, or exports them for output services. User can also create type books of entire font collections with customizable layouts without activating the fonts beforehand. Font Tools 6.0 is available for $50, and requires Mac OS X 10.2 or later.
MacBook shutdowns: redux
In Brief: Apple has tacitly acknowledged the continuing problem of MacBook shutdowns--which have been documented by MacNN readers, one user who claims to have isolated the issue, and by the user site MacBookRandomShutdown.com: the company has posted a short note in its knowledgebase asking affected customers to contact AppleCare... AppleInsider says that service providers are to repair the laptops with matching logic board and heatsink set (expected later this week), but that all "business-critical" MacBook repairs through its Austin, Texas repair depot for a faster turnaround times.... CNET has posted a comparison between the two upcoming operating systems: Vista, meet Mac OS 10.5 Leopard which includes a video covering some of the new features in a recent release of Vista. [updated]
Apple's new iMac lineup
The new 24-inch iMac has a few surprises, including an an upgradeable graphics card (through the use of a MXM PCI Express connector), a FireWire 800 port (thus reducing the number of available FireWire 400 ports to one), an improved 24-watt speakers (twice that of its 17- and 20-inch iMac siblings), a better NVIDIA GeForce 7300 GT graphics card, and new 2.1 surround; meanwhile, users note that Apple's low-end 17-inch iMac, which is available at the lower price of $999, trades features for the the lower price when compared to the higher-end models--including offering a low-end integrated Intel graphics card (rather than the ATI GPUs used in the other models), a Combo drive (rather than a SuperDrive in other models), a smaller 2MB Level-2 cache (vs 4MB in other models), and no Bluetooth or Apple Remote. Readers note that the low-end $999 iMac is simply the previously available education-only model with a faster processor. [updated]
Apple, Amazon digital dual
With the launch of the much-anticipated Amazon.com's Unbox movie service today, more information has surfaced on the rumored movie offering from Apple. Amazon.com is believed to have most -- possibly all -- of the major studios in its corner, while Apple is only guaranteed to have Disney as part of its full-length movie offerings. The other major studios are likely to join iTunes some time in the next year, according to Variety.com. Pricing is to blame for Apple's possible one-studio deal, according to the report, because Amazon.com agreed to studio demands with pricing for digital offerings, which are expected to range between $9.99 and $19.99. Apple has pushed for fixed pricing on digital movie sales just as it did for musical tracks on its iTunes Music Store. Apple earlier this week was rumored to have compromised on digital movie pricing with Hollywood studios, splitting the difference between asking prices of both sides.
Home run for Apple?
A new report says that Hollywood studios and Apple reached a compromise over the cost of digital movies by splitting the difference, and while the compromise could cost both sides millions of dollars, it may not be enough to reach more users. The report follows a slew of other reports that indicate that Apple is prepping its own digital movie service. Apple will reportedly charge $15 per movies, after the studios wanted to charge $20 and Apple wanted to charge $10, according to researchers at the Diffusion Group in Dallas. "The decision will likely cost both sides millions of dollars. Only 14% of broadband households would be interested in an iTunes movie service if the films cost $15. At $10, almost 1 in 4 homes show interest, TDG found in surveys. The firm's report on the viability of an iTunes service also suggests that Apple will hit a home run if, as AppleInsider speculates, it announces next week a wireless video accessory for the iPod to beam movies to the TV set," MarketWatch reports.
Bluetooth, iPod audio
MSI has received the FCC's approval for a Bluetooth audio transmitter that will enable iPod owners to wirelessly stream audio to Bluetooth-enabled headsets. The company's FS320 ships with an iPod nano-sized transmitter, an 3.5mm audio cable, a USB-powered charger, and driver software, according to TG Daily. The transmitter will work with any Bluetooth device featuring an A2DP profile, and the transmitter uses a proprietary Lithium Polymer battery chargeable only via the USB port of a host device, such as a portable notebook. The device driver software is incompatible with Mac OS X, however, working only with Windows-based systems. Pricing is yet to be announced.
ChronoSync 3.3.2 ($30) automatically synchronizes files and folders between notebook and desktop volumes, and can schedule automatic simple backups of important files. Version 3.3.2 enables users to designate the archive location, and supports backups to one volume as well as archiving older files to another volume. The update includes several bug fixes related to copying files to specific volumes like WebdaV, SMB, and Apple systems running Mac OS X 10.4.x.
[Download - 4.9MB]
ClickPix 1.0 ($10) enables users to easily create desktop pictures based on selected photos from the Web. Clix Pix automatically arranges selected pictures into a mosaic, and can apply special effects using Mac OS X CoreImage. The software also offers picture frames in various styles such as postage stamp, star, and cross effects. [Download - 1MB]
Sound Byte 3.1.0 ($24) is designed as a computerized cart machine for computers, functioning similarly to the cart machines used at radio stations in the past. Users can select up to 75 recordings per rack (screen), and assign each to a button. The software also supports playlists to play multiple recordings in a particular order. [Download - 1.5MB]
Art Files 1.1 ($50) collects Adobe Illustrator documents, linked images, and fonts for graphics files via point-and-click. The update runs natively on Intel-based Macs as a Universal Binary, fixes a bug that caused documents dragged onto the collection list from being collected, and more. [Download - 1.24MB]
CoverScout 2.1 ($20) updates the album cover art discovery software with a new advanced search function, an integrated size slider, and new contextual menu items. The search function is extended, allowing users to to locate entire albums in addition to individual artists. The size slider shrinks and expands the preview size of discovered artwork. [Download - [form]]
Name This Tune 1.0 (free) is a simple game designed to test users' knowledge of songs in their iTunes library. The game plays 10 seconds of a song chosen at random from the selected playlist, offering a popup menu that contains five song names, one of which is the correct answer. [Download - 1.9MB]
Amazon Unbox Movie Store
Plans by Internet retailer Amazon to launch a direct-download movie service have been public knowledge for some time. Nevertheless, much anxiety was put to rest late today when the company formally launched its first venture into direct video downloads. Titled Unbox Video, the store offers full-length movies, television programming, and other content from over 30 networks and studios. Pricing compares directly to existing stores such as CinemaNow and MovieLink, but is characterized by its flexibility: movies are available at $15 for new releases and $8 for older titles, while any movie can be rented for $4. Television shows are available for $2 each. Buyers receive two separate Windows Media Video files in a single purchase, one of which is intended for portable media players such as Microsoft's future Zune. Amazon's store launches almost immediately ahead of Apple's movie-related special event on September 12th, which is expected to mark the debut of a widely anticipated iTunes movie store that will challenge Amazon directly.
Jade Empire enroute to PC
While BioWare has largely devoted itself to Microsoft consoles in the past couple of years, it hasn't completely forgotten the PC. SPOnG reports the announcement of Jade Empire: Special Edition, a PC-only version of the RPG that will have new enemies, AI, visual effects and fighting styles, as well as a complimentary art book. The port is aimed for a January 2007 release. BioWare's series is set in an idealized interpretation of ancient China, one where the supernatural is very much real and the player uses magic and martial arts to combat evil.
ExpressCard Media Remote
Owners of recent Mac laptops who need wireless control of music jukeboxes and presentations from a distance already have the advantage of an Apple Remote. Windows users have long had remotes as options, but few have been made that avoid special receivers or prevent the loss of the remote after a long meeting. Interlink Electronics may have devised a particularly useful solution through its ExpressCard Media Remote for Bluetooth. The remote, which officially requires Windows XP, uses a laptop's built-in Bluetooth receiver as a base, removing the necessity of plugging in a proprietary adapter. Users can quickly control track functions in most media-related programs such as iTunes, PowerPoint, and WinAmp. More convenient still is the remote's ability to fit into and charge from both ExpressCard 34 and 54 slots, eliminating the need to replace batteries. Interlink is shipping the Media Remote today for $50.
Forza 2 lurches into 2007
The 360 game will miss its holiday deadline, says Microsoft community manager Che Chou. "The game is no longer Holiday 2006," he posts, "but we won't announce a new date until X06." X06 is Microsoft's proprietary Xbox tradeshow, set for September 27th and 28th. The Forza games are seen as an answer to the "serious" Gran Turismo sims for Sony platforms. When they made their conference presentation at E3, a Forza 2 video was one of Microsoft's major highlights.
Nokia Starts Naming Phones
Product naming is a significant problem for electronics manufacturers Many settle for model numbers that often bore or confuse users looking for a simple name with meaning. The cellphone industry is particularly infamous for its dependence on arbitrary naming schemes; Motorola was struggling in the cellphone market until its iconic RAZR stood out against competitors. By contrast, Nokia continues to give its phone models numeric labels and is notorious for four-digit model numbers that could easily be ignored. While the Finnish cellphone maker is not in as dangerous a position as Motorola once had, it announced on Thursday that it recognized the problem with its generic titles and would start giving its cellphones more tangible naming schemes, hoping to capitalize on the success of the RAZR and LG's recent Chocolate phone. Specific models were not announced, but the popularity of Nokia's N-series phones makes them likely candidates for a reborn product line.
Devil May Cry for PSP
Not content with the massive production of Devil May Cry 4 for the PS3, Capcom is also bringing its demon slaughter to the PSP. CVG doesn't have much else to share on the topic except that it should stick to what Capcom describes as "stylish action." In translation, that probably means it won't be an RPG, or else a turn-based strategy game like Metal Gear Acid. One strong possibility is that the aborted port of DMC1 may make a comeback. The official Japanese Website for DMC4 opens tomorrow.
Apple launches ad campaign
Apple has launched a major print campaign for its products that will appear in the September 8th issue of Entertainment Weekly, as well as other major magazines across the U.S. The white detachable insert features a cover asking consumers "what's the difference between a Mac and a PC?," an inside cover describing Apple's view on the basic differences between the platforms, and a back cover displaying quotes from industry names regarding Apple's products. The third page includes a detachable 14-page folded booklet with an iMac on the cover that includes informational pages covering iChat AV, iMovie, iPhoto, iWeb, Dashboard, GarageBand, Microsoft Office compatibility, and more. [updated, images included]
Microsoft Euro vista Delay
Microsoft has repeatedly expressed its frustration with the European Commission's antitrust regulations ever since the 2004 imposition of a 500 million Euro fine for anti-competitive behavior, arguing that the necessity of opening source code or removing Windows Media Player is neither necessary nor effective. The company brought this dissatisfaction with the EC to the forefront today when it threatened to delay the European launch of its upcoming Windows Vista, according to Reuters. Microsoft claimed in a statement that the release of the much-delayed operating system for the continent depended on the EC's antitrust requirements, prompting multiple EU parliament members to critcize the Commission for risking the competitiveness of European companies, who may need Vista for software development in the near future. The EC flatly rejected the threat. "It is not up to the Commission to give Microsoft a green light before Vista is put on the market; it is up to Microsoft to accept and implement its responsibilities as a near-monopolist," a spokesman said. Microsoft has been historically reluctant to address its dominance: in 1998 the company alluded to disastrous consequences from any legal challenges to its practices.
Paper Mario drifts to Wii?
It's no secret that GameCube development is drying up fast - virtually no games are being announced for the platform. However, one of the few flagship titles may be jumping ship next. IGN's Matt Casamassina reports an insider as saying that Super Paper Mario will leave for the Wii, creating an utter wasteland for owners holding on to their old consoles. The RPG was scheduled for the first quarter of 2007, but now, it wouldn't be surprising if a system switch produces a delay of a few months.
LG Black Sapphire Phone
LG became the first cellphone designer to overturn Motorola's virtual monopoly of style-oriented phones in North America with its Chocolate music phone. It will soon have an opportunity to prove itself again with the anticipated release of the MG810, known more readily as the Black Sapphire. The phone recently started shipping in Brazil and bears the hallmark of the Chocolate's checkered number pad and red-on-black controls while exchanging the slider design for a RAZR-like flip-phone shell with external music controls. Inside, the phone is largely similar to the existing Chocolate and has a 1.3-megapixel camera, Bluetooth, FM radio, and AAC/MP3 playback on 128MB of built-in memory (no immediate mention is made of a microSD card slot). GPRS data support is part of the design, which indicates that the Black Sapphire is a GSM phone and will debut with carriers other than Verizon (which uses CDMA and thus EVDO for broadband). LG has not announced its plans for a North American introduction; expect the phone to retail near the Brazilian price of $465 US without a contract. Complete photos of the new phone are after the jump.
Multi-touch patent, plasq
In brief: Apple has filed for its multi-touch sensing patent, revealing more details (Part 1, Part 2) concerning the company's multi-touch technology following its other multi-function device patent published this morning.... Plasq today released 10 free screensavers for Mac OS X 10.4, in a set titled "sqreensavers" that range from abstract vector colored shapes to panning pastoral scenes.... The Parallels image of the Fedora Core Linux distribution for MacBooks is up to date and working, according to Ramsinks.com.... Newer Technology today lowered pricing of its miniStack USB and miniStack V2 with FireWire external hard drive enclosures.... PlateSpin today launched the first rentable software for server consolidation and virtualization, which is starts from $1 per server per day.
No more PS3 dev kits?
In the months before a console's debut, there are few pieces of hardware more important than the developer's kit. Dev kits are rough versions of the final unit, allowing developers to test their code under real gameplay conditions. Unfortunately, it seems as if Sony has dropped the ball for the PS3 once again. A source for Kotaku is reporting that the company has actually run out of dev kits, and worse, the test controller doesn't even have a motion sensor. Quoting:
Sony has run out of PS3 test kits to give to developers. Since the announcement of the European launch being delayed, nobody has any idea what's going to happen with the PS3 port of F.E.A.R... specially since we only have the one PS3. And it's a devkit. In case you haven't seen those things, they sound like giant vacuum cleaners. They're reportedly ridiculously complicated to use, specially when upgrading the firmware. It has just the one controller, and it's not even the proper PS3 one even! It doesn't have those "innovative" changes from the PS3 controller, it's just a Dual Shock 2 with a USB Mini port.If this is true, could Sony's blunder result in a temporary drought of PS3 games while developers wait for new kits?
Robot uses Mac mini
One hobbyist and a partner recently developed a four-wheeled robot as part of a MacMod design challenge that uses a 1.66GHz Intel Core Duo Mac mini as the core of its control system. The robot features an interactive camera, IR sensors, and motor controls to steer around obstacles. The Mac mini has developed a small but loyal following of hobbyists who have taken advantage of its small shape for car computers and other tasks that would be impossible with larger systems. Hobbyist James Mullins also took advantage of the computer's included Apple Remote, IR port, and WiFi to give users an easy way to manually navigate the vehicle, which has a 7-inch touchscreen mounted on the back for direct control, according to Electronista.
HP LP3065 30-inch LCD
The market for 30-inch computer displays is comparatively small: Apple and Dell effectively create a binary choice between design and price. A third option will soon become available that should strike a an appropriate balance between the two. Advance details of HP's upcoming LP3065 (PDF) reveal a 30-inch screen with better performance than has been seen before. The 2560x1600 screen will address 92% of the NTSC color gamut, making it better for color-sensitive work. It should also have an 8ms typical response time that outperforms the 14ms of Apple's current 30-inch Cinema Display. Release details have not been formalized, but the LP3065 is expected to ship in November for under $2,000.
Parallels Desktop update
Parallels today announced that it is making available the Update Release Candidate (RC) for Parallels Desktop for Mac, the first solution that enables users to run Windows and other operating systems alongside Mac OS X on any Intel-based Mac without rebooting. The update RC, which is free for all Parallels Desktop users, adds support for the recently released quad-processor Mac Pro towers outfitted with up to 3.5GB of memory. The update RC offers full compatibility with the developer builds of Mac OS X 10.5 "Leopard," as well as experimental guest OS support for the beta builds of Windows Vista, the next generation of Microsoft's Windows operating system which is due to ship in early 2007. The final release of the update is expected in the next few weeks; the full version is priced at $80.
LecShare Pro released
LecShare has released LecShare Pro, which allows users to add audio to Microsoft PowerPoint presentations to create QuickTime movies, MPEG-4 Video files (Video Podcasts), Accessible HTML, and Microsoft Word documents. Users can either record audio through a microphone or import an audio file. The software allows users to create a fully captioned QuickTime movie from a Microsoft PowerPoint presentation, recorded audio, and a transcript. Users can also include a transcript in the Lecturer's Notes and automatically synchronize the transcript with the audio. It can also include a browsable Table of Contents and can create Web Pages with embedded audio that meet Section 508 standards and WAI’s Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) as well as quickly create a Microsoft Word document containing images of all the slides from a PowerPoint presentation. Individual licenses may be purchased online for $70 (a limited LecShare is available for $40).
Hobbyist Mac mini Robot
The Mac mini has developed a small but loyal following of hobbyists who have taken advantage of its small shape for car computers and other tasks that would be impossible with larger systems. One of the more impressive feats was recently achieved by hobbyist James Mullins, who teamed with a partner to develop a four-wheeled robot as part of a MacMod design challenge. The completed machine uses a 1.66GHz Core Duo Mac mini as the core of its control system, interacting with a camera, IR sensors, and motor controls to steer the robot around obstacles. Mullins also took advantage of the computer's included Apple Remote, IR port, and WiFi to give the user an easy way to manually navigate the vehicle, which has a 7-inch touchscreen mounted on the back for direct control. Click through for a video demonstration from the perspective of the robot camera.
Uwe Boll boxes with critic
This is only tangentially related to gaming, but it's too good to pass up. Boll directs terrible film adaptations of videogames: House of the Dead and Alone in the Dark are two of his better-known movies. In June, Boll decided on the strange stunt of challenging his five worst critics to a boxing match, with the resulting footage to be used in an adaptation of Postal. It seems the first match was against Cinecutre's Carlos Palencia Jimenez-Arguello, and you can now watch the results on YouTube. Rumour has it that Boll practices boxing regularly. The other four critics will include Something Awful's Richard Kyanka, Ain't It Cool's Jeff Sneider, Rue Morgue's Chris Alexander, and another which may be a minor. The Jimenez-Arguello match can also be seen by clicking below.
Apple stock up nearly 3%
Shares of Apple are up nearly 3 percent to a 4-month high, ahead of the September 12th "Showtime" event and after an analyst upgrade and prediction of new digital living room products. MarketWatch reports that UBS analyst Benjamin Reitzes has increased the target price on Apple stock, saying that he expects Apple to make "a major move into the digital home" which may have the potential to multiply its revenue streams. Reitzes said the move could also result in higher sales of Mac computers, according to the report. Reitzes, reiterating his buy rating on the stock, raised his price target to $92 from $80 and increased his fourth-quarter earnings estimate to 50 cents a share from 49 cents and his revenue forecast to $4.65 billion from $4.63 billion. For 2007, Reitzes now expects profits of $2.70 a share (up from $2.65) and revenues of $23.9 billion (up from $23.7 billion). Apple stock was last up $2, or 2.9%, at $72.01, the highest price seen since May 9.
Ninja Gaiden 2 confirmed?
The NES-era Ninja Gaiden games should be coming to the Wii's Virtual Console, but what about the expected 360 sequel to the Xbox game? Tecmo's Tomonobu Itagaki recently dropped a hint while speaking about the 360's multi-threaded architecture: "...if you're working on a game like Ninja Gaiden 2, where it's really important that enemies are smart and challenging, then we might use up to two threads on AI." As if that weren't blatant enough, he was pressed about the game's existence. "I won't upset anybody by denying your expectations. I like to see people's expectations fulfilled." He might be telling us what we want to hear, but then, it would be just as easy to tell us to hold on.
HP rx5915 Travel Companion
Yesterday's announcement of the iPAQ rx4000 revealed HP turn away from a conventional PDA design to the concept of a companion device - rather than try to fulfill every need, HP is shaping its new handhelds around simple functions. A second model in the rx series, the rx5915, has surfaced today and sheds some light on both the HP strategy and features that that were previously unknown in the rx4000. The new version is dubbed the Travel Companion and includes a SiRF Star III GPS receiver for navigation. HP has expanded the features of to match: the touchscreen size has increased to 3.5 inches, and a set of physical navigation controls sits in the previously empty front space. Beyond WiFi, the rx5915 includes Bluetooth 2.0, an SD card slot, and 2GB of internal flash memory to help it accommodate both mapping and music. Its shipping date has yet to be announced, but its GPS unit helps justify a $600 retail price.
Apple phone patent
The U.S. Patent & Trademark Office today published Apple's patent application titled "Multi-functional hand-held device," depicting a cell phone capable of functioning in multiple modes. The front of the multifunciton handhel in Apple's new patent is described entirely as a touchscreen, with ports for power and data communications likely residing on the bottom of the device. The sides are to remain button free to prevent accidental activation, while the top might well house power and hold switches. The document was originally filed in March of 2006, and likely holds clues to Apple's upcoming special event scheduled for September 12th, according to MacNN Patent Blogger Neo. Industry watchers believe the company is set to unveil a new full-length movie service via its iTunes Music Store, and that the widely rumored "iPhone" will make its debut along with a revamped widescreen video iPod. The patent describes an electronic device that can function as a cell phone, music player, video player, game player, camera, GPS receiver, "hand top," and a remote control as well as describes the device functioning in multiple modes with the potential of a changing user interface.
HTC Four New Handsets
HTC is quickly becoming the main rival to established smartphone makers such as Palm and RIM. The Taiwanese firm helped cement its position in the field today by announcing four new smartphones using Windows Mobile 5 as their foundation. Two of the new models, the P3300 and P3600, include TomTom's new NAVIGATOR 6 software for finding directions through 2D and 3D maps. Both feature 2.8-inch screens, Bluetooth, microSD slots, and WiFi, but use different control schemes: the P3300 uses a trackball and iPod-style scroll wheel, while the P3600 implements a touchscreen. Network support is also different with the P3300 supporting EDGE broadband and the P3600 using HSDPA. HTC additionally released the S620 (also known as the Excalibur), the much-anticipated challenger to the Motorola Q with a unique touch-sensitive navigation strip alongide the display, and the S310, a simple candybar smartphone with Bluetooth and EDGE. All four models ship first to Europe: the P3600 and S310 will arrive in September, while the P3300 and S620 follow in October. North American announcements are pending for at least some models as the FCC has recently approved the S620. See photos of all four models after the jump.
NHL 07 demo on Xbox Live
The 360 demo for Electronic Arts' hockey franchise, NHL 07, is now (genuinely) available for all regions on the Xbox Live Marketplace. The full game will be released on September 14th for the 360, PC, PS2, Xbox, and PSP. EA was caught in an interesting goof back on August 22nd, when an official EA Sports blog claimed the demo was already out. Needless to say, that post has since been erased from the record.
NeoOffice Aqua 2.0 beta
The NeoOffice project has released NeoOffice Aqua 2.0 Beta 3, the first free public beta of NeoOffice 2.0 offering Mac OS X users a native Office suite without the need to install X Window System. The project is a port of the OpenOffice.org codebase to native Mac OS X APIs (Application Program Interfaces) and toolkits, integrating with the Mac OS X core. Previous beta releases were available to members of an "early access" program designed to fund the development of NeoOffice, according to NewsForge. OpenOffice.org 2.0 is largely supported by Sun Microsystems, and is an X11 binary requiring the X Window System to run. NeoOffice makes use of a fully native Aqua interface that integrates with Mac OS X features such as the clipboard, drag-and-drop functionality, and Spotlight. NeoOffice 2.0 requires Mac OS X 10.3 or later, and is available for free. [corrected]
Sony debuts HDR-FX7 camera
Sony today introduced its HDR-FX7 prosumer video camera, featuring three-chip sensor technology. The new 1080i-capable camera features Sony's ClearVID CMOS sensor, which uses three chips to improve transfer rates and visual quality when combined with an enhanced imaging processor, according to Elecetronista. The new model offers burst shooting, which can play back six seconds of footage in 24 FPS slow-motion, and can take 1.2-megapixel still shots during live video capture. The three-chip sensor also improves power consumption, according to Sony, with up to eight hours of recording time possible using an optional high-capacity battery. The camera uses a 37.4-748mm lens with a 20X optical zoom and a digital extension feature that promises 30X total zoom without degrading the picture. The HDR-FX7 will be available for pre-order from the SonyStyle HandyCam site on September 8th for $3,500.
Reviews, MBP handle
In brief: MacNN has reviewed the iLuv ($50) -- a rechargeable lithium polymer battery for iPod -- as well as the MP3 Shower Radio with Fog Free Mirror ($30, shown at right) from Princess International.... QuickerTek is offering 15-inch and 17-inch MacBook Pro owners who purchase the MacBook Pro Transceiver or Connect products a $25 discount on a carry handle.... The creative team behind Photoshop User magazine and Layers magazine today released the Adobe Illustrator Techniques newsletter, a how-to periodical specifically tailored for users of Adobe Illustrator.... Bright Path Solutions today announced the list of speakers for its fall 2006 FrameMaker user conference in Austin, Texas.... iProng has posted instructions on how to keychain an iPod shuffle for free, using scissors and a cigarette lighter.
Square, PopCap sign deal
PopCap games will soon wash onto Japanese shores thanks to Square-Enix, who has agreed to distribute titles through its download service on the Web portal Gyao. Four titles will be available to start with, namely Chuzzle, Heavy Weapon, Bejeweled 2, and Insaniquarium. More will be added in the coming months. This is PopCap's second major deal in as many weeks, with Valve having struck an agreement to put PopCap games on the Steam network. Seventeen titles are available there.
rooSwitch, RAW Developer
rooSwitch 1.1 updates the profile switching application, bringing faster switching, per application preferences and new support for AppleScript and Automator. rooSwitch allows you to manage multiple profiles for almost any applications data by simpling dragging the application on rooSwitch. Version 1.1 offers the ability to move files instead of copying them as well as per-application preferences. rooSwitch 1.1 requires a Mac with Mac OS X 10.4 or higher and is available as a Universal Binary. [Download - 1.5MB]
RAW Developer 1.5.4 ($100) updates the RAW image conversion software for Mac OS X. Version 1.5.4 adds support for the popular new Canon Digital Rebel XTi and Nikon D80 models. This update also fixes an issue with the loading of thumbnails from some Sony DSLR-A100 images and fixes an issue with the hot/dead pixel filters specific to Intel processor based systems. It supports Mac OS X 10.3.9 or later and is a Universal Binary. [Download - 4.5MB]
Smooth Operators 1.0 ($15) is a complete solution for learning, practicing, and testing the order of operations. An interactive lesson teaches the math concepts thoroughly, and students can practice by clicking on operators in the correct order, or use test mode and type in the answers. "Students can learn, practice, and test their skills, all with one software package. Smooth Operators helps make learning easy, it provides a convenient and effective method for practice, and testing is challenging." [Download - 2.8MB]
The Missing Sync for Palm OS 5.1.1 ($40) is a free update to the software for syncing your Mac to the Palm OS. The 5.1.1 release addresses issues for users who subscribe to Google calendars, fixes various category issues with Mark/Space's conduits that handle Address Book and iCal data, improves exception handling, supports custom field ordering for Garmin iQue devices and introduces other minor bug fixes and improvements. It requires Mac OS X 10.3.9 or later. [Download - 24MB]
MBS plug-in for REALbasic 6.3 ($55) is a collection of several plug-in parts which extend the REALbasic development environment with over 500 classes and 3 controls featuring over 11000 documented functions. Version 6.3 adds Universal support (requires RB 2006r4 to be used), new BlowfishMBS for encryption, and supports UUIDMBS for unique IDs as well as many other small fixes. The plug-ins require REALbasic 4.5 or newer. Commercial licenses are about $100. [Download - 34MB]
Sony HDR-FX7 Video Camera
Despite the steady increase in availability of cameras, HDV remains in its early stages: technologies which have existed for years in standard-definition digital video are only now arriving in HD form. One of these is three-chip sensor technology, which Sony is introducing today through its HDR-FX7 prosumer video camera. The new 1080i-capable model features Sony's ClearVID CMOS sensor, which uses three chips to improve transfer rates and visual quality when combined with an enhanced imaging processor. These improvements allow for such special features as burst shooting, which can play back six seconds of footage in 24 FPS slow-motion, and taking 1.2-megapixel still shots during live video capture. A three-chip sensor also improves power consumption, according to Sony: up to 8 hours of recording time is possible with an optional high-capacity battery. The camera uses a 37.4-748mm lens with a 20X optical zoom and a digital extension feature that promises 30X total zoom without degrading the picture. Shipping in October, the HDR-FX7 will be available for pre-order from the SonyStyle HandyCam site on September 8th for $3,500. Click through for a larger photo.
AAPL retail chief to speak
Apple's chief of retail Ron Johnson is scheduled to speak to analysts at the fourth ThinkEquity Annual Growth Conference following the Cupertino-based company's special announcement on September 12th. ThinkEquity analyst Jonathan Hoopes believes the company will debut new iPods as well as an iTunes movie download service, according to Macworld UK. Johnson will likely discuss how Apple's retail presence can help execute its future strategy, following the expected product announcements. Both Apple events are to take place on the same day as Dell's own analyst meeting. "It appears Apple CEO Steve Jobs wants to steal Michael Dell's thunder," said Hoopes. ThinkEquity has issued a "buy" rating on Apple shares with a price target of $90, and believes Apple retail stores are a true asset to the brand. "Apple is perfecting a next-generation retail experience and we believe the stores are core to Apple's establishing a premier consumer electronics brand."
Nintendo: Wii on track
As Sony struggles, it would seem that everything is peachy at Nintendo, at least on the surface. Nintendo of America has released a statement which reads, "Wii is on track to ship in Q4. Nintendo plans to ship 6 million systems to retailers around the world between its launch in the fourth quarter of 2006 and the end of its fiscal year on March 31, 2007." Clearly a shot across Sony's bow, though Nintendo of Europe is saying they "do not comment on other company’s plans or announcements."
Anime Studio 5 ships
e frontier has released Anime Studio 5, a 2D animation and cartoon creation software. Anime Studio utilizes a unique and revolutionary "bone rigging" system, which the company says is "normally found only in 3D graphics software that streamlines the animation workflow, reduces production time, and saves money by requiring a smaller team of animators than normally used in animation." Anime Studio, previously known as "Moho, "empowers digital artists of all skills and levels with the ability to animate. Anime Studio makes exporting to the web and other popular movie formats easy. I expect users to share their home made animations on popular viral sites like YouTube.com and portable devices like Apple's Video iPods," a company representative said. Anime Studio will be available for $50, while Anime Studio Pro is available for $200. It is available to free to educational institutions as part of the company's Lab Pack Program, and available to educational users for $30 (Pro version is $100).
Sony: PS3 launch is bigger
Sony spokesperson Dave Karraker says that in spite of initial reductions (down to 400,000), there will still be more PS3's available at launch in North America than there were 360's. "The North American number is just below what we had available at launch for PS2 and is higher than what Microsoft had for Xbox 360. More importantly, in my mind, is that we will have 1 to 1.2 million units available by December 31 in North America. This is more than double what Xbox 360 sold through during the same period and should assure there aren't significant stock dips at retail." NPD stats would seem to back up at least part of this statement, since while the 360 sold 325,902 units within two weeks of launch, Microsoft was promptly hit by shortages.
ConceptDraw 6.1 ships
CS Odessa today released ConceptDraw 6.1, a new version of its diagramming software package that brings soft shadows, smart objects highlighting and the addition of a number of business related shapes libraries. Version 6.1 offers the ability to select an object and then drop a shadow onto the canvas, as well as add corresponding shadows to the other objects with which it intersects. ConceptDraw Basic, an internal scripting language, has also undergone extensive improvements with new functions for Shape, Paint and Page objects that control object ordering, filling color and shadows. It also improves Smart Objects functionality, adds five new libraries for floor planning, and features other usability improvements, including remembering the last used folders for opening and saving files, preserving the last used format for Save As dialog and being able to select objects in a group by using the Tab button. ConceptDraw 6.1, available in English, German, French, and Spanish, is a free upgrade to v6 owners. The Professional version is $300, while the Standard version is $150.
BlackBerry Pearl Announced
Its existence had already been established weeks earlier by leaked photos and unofficial details, but today the BlackBerry Pearl was officially announced by its developer Research In Motion. The Canadian company's new smartphone breaks from traditional BlackBerry duties by shifting attention towards its media functions, including music and video playback of content on microSD cards as well as a 1.3-megapixel camera. Significantly, the Pearl abandons the scroll wheel for a trackball that the company claims is better-suited to the phone's expanded role. A relatively new addition is BlackBerry Maps: users can get directions to most locations in North America, including for contacts listed in the phone address book. The BlackBerry Pearl will be available September 12th for T-Mobile customers in the US, a week earlier than expected; Canadians will have the phone as an option from Rogers Wireless in October with European and Latin American carriers following shortly afterwards. Click through for full-size profile photos of the new phone.
Iomega UltraMax 640GB RAID
Iomega today announced the new UltraMax 640GB Desktop Hard Drive, providing Mac users with secure, high-capacity storage in a rugged enclosure that complements Power Mac and Mac Pro series of computers. The drive features a variety of RAID settings as well as a built-in Hi-Speed USB (USB 2.0) hub for future expansion. In addition to the default mode of RAID 0, which stripes data across two 7200-RPM SATA hard drives, other RAID drive settings includes 'spanned' (both hard drives are treated as a single volume) and 'simple' (two separate volumes). Users can manually adjust a RAID switch to turn off the RAID configurations and use the drive configured as JBOD (i.e., one large volume). The Iomega UltraMax Hard Drive, preformatted with Apple's HFS+ file system for Mac OS X users, is a stackable, metallic grey enclosure with a mesh grill and offers three interfaces: FireWire 800, FireWire 400, and Hi-Speed USB (USB 2.0). In addition, it provides users with an integrated three-port Hi-Speed USB hub. UltraMax 640GB will ship later this month for $450 with FireWire 400/800 and USB 2.0 cables.
RapidWeaver 3.5 released
Realmac Software today announced a new version of RapidWeaver 3.5, its easy-to-use and powerful website building application that allows anyone to create and publish professional-looking websites in minutes. Now available as a Universal application, the release offers new German and French localizations, SFTP publishing, improved interface with a new "Theme Viewer," the ability to drop shadows/borders, smaller file creation (by up to 70 percent), and an enhanced blog style along with seven new professionally designed themes. The software is now available in English, French, partial German localization, and Japanese, while an Italian and full German localization will follow shortly, according to the company. The application offers advanced features such as the ability to mix HTML and WYSIWYG, the ability to produce valid "XHTML strict" code, unlimited submenus, live PHP rendering, an open plugin system for third-party extras, and mobile/print CSS templates. RapidWeaver 3.5, a free upgrade for all users, is available for $40.
Bare Bones BBEdit 8.5
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