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Sony Gamer's Day: Oct 19th
Like a final breath before the plunge, Sony is planning one last PS3 event before the November launch. Its name is Gamer's Day, and Kotaku pins the event to October 19th, a little less than one month before the first PS3s go on sale. The San Francisco gathering should feature roundtable discussions, executive demonstrations, and like the Nintendo Wii event in September, about a half a day of hands-on play. This is when we might learn how the PSP will connect, or how the games download service should function. The Scan would like to start the rumour of a price cut to the $499 system - despite Sony's protests, the company has to know that gamers can pick up a 360 bundle for $399.
Apple, SecureWorks effort
Apple and security firm SecureWorks have confirmed that they are working together, despite a recent exploit demonstration performed on a MacBook at a Black Hat conference. "SecureWorks and Apple are working together in conjunction with the CERT Coordination Center on any reported security issues," SecureWorks said. "We will not make any additional public statements regarding work underway until both companies agree, along with CERT/CC, that it is appropriate." SecureWorks researchers David Maynor and "Johnny Cache" turned heads last month after demonstrating the wireless security flaw on a MacBook, according to Macworld, but later revealed that the MacBook was compromised via a third-party wireless driver -- not Apple's own Mac OS X driver that ships with the operating system. One of the security experts said that the pair decided to demonstrate the exploit on a Mac due to a "Mac user base aura of smugness on security," but noted that they were not picking on Macs.
DriveStation Duo unveiled
Buffalo Technology today announced its DriveStation Duo USB 2.0/FireWire external hard drive. The drive offers storage capacities of 500GB, 800GB, 1TB, and 1.5TB with RAID-1 with Mirroring capability. The DriveStation Duo includes two 7200rpm SATA drives and Buffalo's SecureLockWare technology to encrypt data to guard against unauthorized access. The device includes Auto Setup technology and comes pre-formatted, allowing users to instantly install without driver software or the need to spend time preparing the drives for usage. The DriveStation Duo also features an Auto on/off feature that powers the product on or off with the connected computer. The DriveStation Duo will ship in October with a one-year warranty and 24-hour technical support for $250 (500GB), $450 (800GB), $500 (1TB), or $1,000 (1.5TB). [image]
Ancient Tripeaks II
Toybox Games and Macgamestore.com today released Ancient Tripeaks II, taking players back to the days of mystical gods and the greatest heroes of ancient Greece. The sequel to the original Ancient Tripeaks features 25 new unique levels, combo-based gameplay, unlockable cards, and an in-depth tutorial. The game also offers online high scoring, as well as full and windows modes. "Get lost in the mythical land of Greece as you challenge yourself to unlock and construct the greatest heroes of its past." Ancient Tripeaks II is available from Macgamestore.com for $20.
CrossOver Beta update
CodeWeavers today released new public beta versions of its CrossOver software for both Mac and Linux systems. CrossOver Mac allows users to run Windows applications on Intel-based Macs as though they were native, and without the need to purchase a copy of Windows. The Mac update includes fixes to Internet Explorer, Outlook 2003, and numerous cases where programs would crash when launched. Other Mac-specific changes include dramatic performance improvements to startup time, bottle creation, and a few install processes. Additional CrossOver Mac Beta bug fixes relate to switching to full-screen mode, case-sensitive file systems, CPU detection, and more. CrossOver Mac Beta is available for free as part of a public test, but will be priced at $60 once the application is officially released. The company is accepting pre-orders for $40.
New Jersey iTunes Tax
The state of New Jersey has been suffering from debt problems, now owing $4.5 billion. To combat this, Governor Jon Corzine has recently begun taxing individual services such as health club memberships and storage facilities. Controversially, iTunes Store purchases will also fall under new tax laws, reports Macenstein. Direct music and video download sales have generally remained tax-free since their inception, in part due to laws prohibiting taxes on out-of-state sales; however, the new law would require that each album, song, or video bought by a New Jersey resident be subject to a 7% tax. No challenges to the new law have yet to be filed.
Muted iPod nano demand?
Analysts at Baird U.S. Equity Research believe that Apple may be experiencing muted demand for its second-generation iPod nano, which could negatively effect NAND flash memory pricing. "We believe Apple did not meet its NAND flash order schedule this month," wrote analyst Tristan Gerra. "While it is difficult to assess the performance of the new Nano product family as Apple retailers have been directed to not comment about the iPod's sales performance, the initial feedback we are receiving from industry sources suggests Nano volumes are not as strong as in the same period a year ago, which we do not view as a surprise given the new Nano offering's lack of new feature set besides higher density." Gerra expects the black 8GB iPod nano mix to represent significantly less than 50 percent of Apple's total iPod nano units during the fourth quarter, according to AppleInsider. "These two dynamics lead us to believe NAND spot flash pricing could peak in October, earlier than expected," the analyst said.
KRZR K1m at Alltel
Verizon trumpeted its exclusive KRZR launch just last week, but today the company can no longer claim sole rights to the hotly-anticipated RAZR sequel. Fellow US carrier Alltel has begun pre-orders for the K1m, giving cellphone users beyond Verizon's coverage area a chance to try the new music phone for themselves. No Alltel equivalent to Verizon's VCast download service exists, but subscribers can use the new phone with Alltel's EVDO service and reach 700Kbps download rates. Pricing is virtually even with Verizon as well: the phone will sell for $250 when it ships on October 5th. Rebates can bring the price down to as low as $150.
In brief: Greenpeace has launched a parody page designed to look like Apple's own website, complete with a spoof of the Cupertino-based company's "Get a Mac" ad and requests for "a greener Apple".... Miglia Technology today lowered the price of its TVMini HD -- a device allowing users to watch, pause, record, and rewind HDTV on a Mac -- to $200.... MacPractice and ComChart Medical Software today announced that they are collaborating to integrate MacPractice MD practice management application for physicians with ComChart EMR for doctors and clinics.... Spracht has announced its Aura Mobile BT, a device that adds a full-duplex speakerphone compatible with VoIP programs such as Skype and Yahoo! Messenger that works with nearly any mobile phone.... Toshiba today said it will unveil an early example of its new SD-L902A laptop drive at the CEATEC conference in Japan, the first HD DVD drive capable of writing to HD DVD media.
Buffalo DriveStation Duo
External hard drives with more than one terabyte of storage have existed for some time; obtaining that storage with fewer than four drives has been difficult. Buffalo Technology could thus be one of the first to release a portable drive with that capacity: its newly released DriveStation Duo uses two 750GB Seagate hard drives to offer a total 1.5TB of storage through either FireWire or USB 2 connections. It can also be setup to use either RAID striping, for maximum storage, or mirroring for backup purposes. Buffalo ships the Duo with security and backup software for Windows PCs, though the drive itself should be compatible with MacOS X as well. The new DriveStation ships later in October at $1000 for a 1.5TB model; smaller capacities are available starting at $250 for 500GB.
Voice recognition in UE3
Fonix Speech has signed an agreement to put its speech recognition software in Epic's Unreal games engine, Next-Gen reports. UE3 is being used in a number of upcoming titles, most notably Gears of War, Stargate Worlds, and various secret projects underway at Sony and Electronic Arts. Fonix's VoiceIn Game Edition is presently used to simplify voice recognition support in 360, PS2, and Xbox 1 games. Neither Epic nor Fonix will say what games might use this new integration in the future.
Samsung X530 and E250
Samsung is fond of designer phones and updates its line on a near-weekly basis; nevertheless, the company has an aptitude for producing interesting designs that merit attention. The latest of these are two new slider models that reflect the company's recent obsession with slider designs. The X530 (pictured) is a champagne-colored model with an especially thin, 0.55-inch shape that should differentiate it from its normally bulkier competitors. Samsung is clearly targeting it at the mid-range with EDGE, a VGA camera, and Bluetooth being its main features. Also appearing today is the E250. Not much has been revealed about the phone other than its focus on playing AAC and MP3 music and the inclusion of a microSD card slot for storage. Its silver, angular design might be preferable to the rounded look of the X530. North American launches for either phone haven't been announced. Photos of both cellphone designs are available after the jump, courtesy of Slashphone.
M-Audio debuts Conectiv
M-Audio today unveiled Conectiv, the first device in its new family of Synchroscience DJ hardware. Conectiv is usable as a self-contained digital system, a multi-effects processor, or a slave from control CDs/vinyl. The device features a 4 x 4 USB 1.1 audio interface with 16-bit/48KHz fidelity, 4 RCA inputs configurable for line-level or phono signals, and 4 RCA outputs with a +10dBV peak output level. Two mix knobs allow users to blend audio inputs and USB output, and every Synchroscience device will ship with Torq -- the company's DJ software. Connectiv is due to ship in in October for $350 with control CD/Vinyl or $300 without. [image]
Acer may join recall
Computer maker Acer is reportedly in talks with Sony about possibly joining its laptop battery recall, according to IDG News. Acer has yet to receive reports from its users about overheating batteries, however. "Previously, we believed there were no problems with our batteries, but now we're in discussions with Sony, just to make sure," said Acer representative Stella Chou in Taipei. Sony launched the massive recall following a slew of reports of overheating batteries -- some of which even burst into open flame. In mid-August Dell recalled 4.1 million laptop batteries followed by Apple, which recalled 1.8 million of its own notebook batteries. Fujitsu and Toshiba also joined the recall late last month, increasing the total number of recalled Sony batteries to more than 7 million.
The Zune and your 360
Microsoft's "iPod killer" will connect to your Xbox 360, the company tells Next-Gen. Once attached via USB cable, a 360 will be able to access a Zune to stream music, pictures, and video, just as the 360 can currently stream content from a PC. If a Zune is hooked up to your PC, a 360 will also be able to stream content indirectly. Hold on to those Microsoft points by the way - the company will accept them at the Zune Marketplace, a sort of hybrid between iTunes and Xbox Live. The Zune player is expected to launch November 14th.
2 Megapixel HP Webcam
A number of new HP laptops already ship with built-in webcams, but users of any computer looking for a straightforward means of adding video chats to their PCs can consider a new camera from the same company. The simply-titled 2 Megapixel HP Webcam (PDF) can clip to the display of a desktop or laptop computer and delivers relatively high-resolution video: a smooth 30 frames per second is possible at 800x600. Still shots are also possible at 1600x1200, and hardware face tracking ensures that the right subject is always properly exposed in the shot. Expectedly, HP's entry into advanced webcams connects through USB and requires Windows XP. Pricing and availability isn't yet available.
Cingular Mobile Podcasts
Transferring podcasts to cellphones is possible but is rarely efficient, as cellphones are rarely designed to work directly with news feeds or fit the already low storage space of their memory cards. Melodeo has already developed a solution through its Mobilcast service: users download software that can play podcasts on phones without having to download the podcasts themselves. Today, US carrier Cingular said it would be one of the first to officially adopt Mobilcast for its subscribers. For $5 a month, existing Cingular users can add podcast streaming to their phone, including the option to download copies permanently for later listening. The plan counts towards a subscriber's data usage but could be the best option for podcast subscribers who have to balance their listening habits against frequent phone calls.
Wii Web browser not free?
Speaking with AOL Games, Nintendo of America's Reggie Fils-Aime suggests that the Opera Web browser may not be free for the Wii. This would contravene previous statements by IGN and Opera itself, who said that the browser would be free until June of 2007. "In fairness, for the Americas, we haven't made the business decision for how and what we're going to do with the browser," Fils-Aime says. "We recognize for most people a browser is pretty standard. The concept of charging a significant amount of Wii points to get the browser is somewhat challenging. We're going to work through that." There's an alternate interpretation, of course - could Nintendo be planning to keep the browser free forever? That's what Sony's planning for the PS3's Web browser. Sony is, however, a much wealthier corporation.
FairPlay DRM recreated
The author of DeCSS -- which circumvents Macrovision protection on movie DVDs -- has successfully recreated Apple's FairPlay DRM (Digital Rights Management), and has spoken with Apple CEO Steve Jobs about potential plans to offer legal licenses to other online music stores. Jon Lech Johansen -- also known as "DVD Jon" -- is infamous for his ability to break copy protection, and has successfully reverse engineered FairPlay, according to Electronista. While Jobs was not informed of Johansen's specific plans and may respond differently in the future, the executive purportedly warned Johansen that while Apple was not a litigious company, other companies might not share the same opinion.
CBS "Genius Bar" series
CBS has agreed to shoot a pilot called "Genius Bar" based on an idea by a marketing expert who was involved with the launch of Apple's iMac, as well as its iPod portable media player. Pitched by two former producers of "That 70's Show," the pilot explores the interactions between people who work at an Apple Store "Genius Bar" type establishment and the employees of a nearby Ambercrombie & Fitch-type store, according to Reuters. The idea caught the attention of ABC, CBS, and NBC before landing at CBS. Writers Josh Sternin and Jeff Ventimilia will write the script and produce the show with the idea's originator, consumer marketing expert Krishnan Menon. Menon worked for top marketing agencies such as DDB and Digitas West, where he contributed to such high-profile projects as the launch of Apple's iMac and iPod, according to the report.
Mobile BT Speakerphone
A speakerphone as a secondary feature of a Bluetooth headset is becoming less of a rarity. To make the speakerphone the primary feature, however, is still uncommon. The just announced Aura Mobile BT by Spracht is designed solely to add this feature to virtually any phone device that lacks a strong-enough speaker of its own. Pairing the Aura Mobile BT to a cellphone, Mac, or PC via Bluetooth instantly adds a full-duplex speakerphone compatible with VoIP programs such as Skype and Yahoo! Messenger. Spracht has also added audio input and output jacks so that computers or phones without Bluetooth transmitters can still make two-way speakerphone calls. The Aura Mobile BT starts shipping today for $150.
Watcher'84 2.0 ($15) monitors favorite websites, inform users of any occurring update. The update features a completely rewritten smart detection engine, as well as an improved user interface. Watcher'84 2.0 also includes stability improvements and CoreData-based file storage.
[Download - 817KB]
EasyWMA 2.6 ($10) converts WMA, ASF, and WMV audio files to AIFF, MP3, m4a, or WAV formats for use with Apple's iTunes software. The application features a simple interface, complete drag-and-drop support, and batch processing capability. Version 2.6 also adds support for AIFF output format and WMA/ASF decoding improvements. [Download - 2.9MB]
CleanApp 1.5 ($10) updates the tool for removing or archiving applications as well as dependent files, such as preferences or cache files. CleanApp 1.5 features a revamped user interface, as well as the ability to delete or archive applications directly from the Finder with a built-in Automator script. [Download - 823KB]
RSS Replay 1.1.3 ($30) is a a maintenance update to the Dreamweaver extension for placing content from RSS feeds into Web page layouts. RSS Replay supports Internet Explorer, Netscape Navigator, Firefox, Safari, and other Web browsers as well as RSS 2.0. The latest iteration improves content request methods, and refines remote request encoding. [Download - 248KB]
WeatherPop 2.5 ($8) adds a built-in "Pop Doppler" radar for any location in the U.S. to the menu bar-based weather monitoring software. Pop Doppler offers one-click Doppler radar specified by longitude and latitude coordinates. WeatherPop 2.5 also includes various source data accuracy improvements, and enhanced German localization. [Download - 3.4MB]
Wii kiosks GameStop-only?
As Sony plans a massive North American campaign of 15,000 PS3 kiosks, it may be much harder to try your hand at a Wii. The Dallas Morning News was at GameStop's annual sales conference this weekend, and there they learned that only GameStop stores will have Wii kiosks at launch. There are just 4,500 GameStop outlets worldwide. Furthermore, the Morning News notes that the company has yet to decide if and when it will take pre-orders for the Wii or PS3, contrary to speculation. Time is running out for a decision - both consoles launch in mid-November.
Jon Lech Johansen is infamous for his ability to break copy protection. Known as "DVD Jon," he wrote his DeCSS program that circumvents the Macrovision protection on movie DVDs while trying to enable playback on Linux. Johansen has now turned his attention to Apple's FairPlay in a constructive way, writes GigaOM's Liz Gannes. While programmers have previously broken FairPlay as used for songs and videos from the iTunes Store, these attempts have largely been made for either personal gain or to replicate Apple's music services without permission. Johansen has instead reverse-engineered the format with the intent of offering it for legal licenses to online music stores, says Gannes, and has reportedly talked to Apple CEO Steve Jobs about his future plans. Although the article indicates that Jobs was not informed of Johansen's specific plans and may respond differently in the future, the former purportedly warned the latter only that while Apple was not a litigious company, other companies might not share the same opinion.
The FairPlay emulation technology and the Apple executive's possible attitude towards it may mark a change in the iPod ecosystem, where FairPlay-encrypted media bought through iTunes has been used as a way of tying users to the more profitable iPod hardware. [Photo courtesy of Irina Slutsky]
New Sony Nano competitor?
Sony is likely gearing up to debut a new flash-based digital media player that will compete with Apple's iPod nano. British online store Play inadvertently posted and later removed a listing for an upcoming new Sony player dubbed the NW-S706, according to Electronista. The device resembles a hybrid between the design of Sony's E00 series and the controls of the S2 Sports model, but will include 4GB of flash storage as well as a color display capable of depicting album art. The player will also feature an audio input jack, an FM tuner, and 50 hours of battery life. The unreleased player boasts a price tag of £180, however, compared to Apple's 4GB iPod nano which sells for £129.
Powerbacks set free
The man who created Powerbacks, one of the original four template collections for Microsoft PowerPoint, has made it available for free as a public download after a decade of success. Gary Blue conceived Powerbacks while sitting dismayed backstage during a corporate show in the spring of 1996, looking at the selection of templates that had shipped in Microsoft Office 95 which were being used in almost every presentation. Powerbacks comes in 18 categories that include Business, Creative, Education, Finance, Holidays, Humor, Inspirational, Religion, Social, Sports, Science, Technology, Abstracts, Edges, Frames, Gradients, and Perspectives & Textures. Each Download contains 30 presentation templates, and all works are featured in both .pot and .jpg formats for universal compatibility. Powerbacks works with Microsoft PowerPoint 2000-2007 for both Mac OS and Microsoft Windows.
Cowon N2 Media Player
Cowon has always been known for adding features ahead of their wider adoption elsewhere. Its iAudio X5 was one of the first digital music players to play videos. The Korean company is continuing its tradition with the iAudio N2, a media player that blurs the lines between media jukeboxes and in-car electronics. The N2 acts as a media player in the vein of the Zen Vision:W and can play multiple music and video files (including DivX and Ogg), but also has built-in receivers for both DMB mobile TV and GPS mapping. It can also perform more than one function at the same time courtesy of two SD card slots that give it enough room to store its regional maps as well as the user's own entertainment. This particular version may not appear in North America; nevertheless, it points in the direction of future updates to the company's media player lines.
EA locks Digital Illusions
Though EA and DICE (Digital Illusions CE) were pretty well entwined beforehand, with EA distributing DICE's Battlefield series, it's only now that DICE has been fully absorbed into the publisher. EA announced the acqusition today for the price of 2.6 million shares, producing a payout of 67.50 Swedish kronas ($9.23 US) per each DICE share held. DICE CEO Patrick Söderlund will run the company as an EA Studio General Manager, while also taking on "additional creative responsibilities." There's no indication that games like Bad Company or Battlefield 2142 will be affected.
Fortify analysis utility
Fortify Software today released Fortify Source Code Analysis Suite 4.0, its integrated set of tools designed to find, track, and fix security vulnerabilities in software applications. The update includes additional management controls, increased customization capabilities, and expanded reporting functionality. Fortify Source Code Analysis Suite 4.0 provides software security auditors with enhanced rule writing capability, as well as increased clarity into the analysis process, according to Fortify Software. The latest revision brings expanded language support, integration with Findbugs -- a popular open-source defect detection tool -- and a new "touchless build" feature that eases integrations with build as well as development environments (pricing and system requirements were unavailable).
In brief: One MacNN reader has posted numerous grand opening photos of the Manchester Apple Store in the UK.... Another MacNN reader has created a do-it-yourself (DIY) tutorial on how he made a functional, stylish laptop sleeve for his 12-inch PowerBook (PB) from a pair of corduroy pants.... Free iTunes Downloads announced that it is blogging all free MP3 and video downloads available from Apple's iTunes Music Store as they become available.... Sillysoft Games has announced "Luxtoberfest," a month-long party beginning with a series of tournament matches followed by "full of map" nights and ending with final award ceremonies.... Eric Tremblay of MacDev.ca and J. Scott Anderson have announced an Austin, Texas Laptop session of the "Introduction to Mac OS X Programming: Cocoa Workshop" featuring Xcode.... Bert Altenburg, Alex Clarke and Philippe Mougin have announced that their free book "Become An Xcoder" for newcomers to Cocoa programming is available in Chinese as well as Arabic.
izenMobile Krma Smartphone
Hybrid cellphone manufacturers and content providers are very rare, as the cost of maintaining both is often extraordinarily prohibitive. Even so, San Diego startup izenMobile plans to launch offering both and may well trump more conventional rivals. Its new Krma phone is already an example of this practice at work. Though it has the slim profile of a smartphone and has media-friendly hardware such as a a 2.2-inch screen, 2-megapixel camera, a FM radio, the Krma also uses Microsoft's PocketPC OS -- a relatively powerful interface normally reserved for larger phones with full keyboards.
The reason for this feature becomes clear through the other half of izenMobile's strategy. Owners of the company's cellphones will have access to remote services that are seldom available to the average user. Each phone will be able to store as much as 25GB of music, videos, and shared data on distant servers, saving the trouble of synchronizing with a computer to back up information or share it with a large group. izenMobile has not said when the phone or its accompanying service will ship, but it plans to target the Americas during the initial launch.
Difusi unveils iPod cases
Difusi today unveiled two new leather cases for Apple's second-generation iPod nano and video iPod (30GB and 60GB models). The cases are made with dual leathers which include a tough top-grain calf leather exterior and a soft sheep leather interior. Difusi's new cases ship in 10 varying colors with Clear Guard LCD screen, full-body, and clickwheel protectors. The new cases offer easy access to all ports, feature reinforced padding as well as full body leather construction, and come with a 14-day return policy. Difusi's new leather cases are priced at $20 for single color models, or $30 for dual color cases with free shipping worldwide. The company also announced that it is lowering the prices of its other iPod cases -- including its nanoValet -- to match the new pricing structure.
4-Sight FAX v7 ships
Soft Solutions has released 4-Sight FAX v7, a significant update to its signature fax server solution. Version 7 now runs natively on both Intel- and PowerPC-based Macs, including the Xserve platform as well as provides support for all Macintosh internal modems, including all Apple internal modems, the lower-cost Apple USB modem and the MultiTech 5634ZBA-DID Router/Modem. It also provides direct client access to the Server address book: authorized client users now have the ability to add, edit, and delete address book entries located on the server. The software also improves import speed for the client address book, allowing users to import 10,000-plus entries in seconds (previously took "minutes"), while individual fax client users also gain the ability to customize their own fax printing options.
Sony S706 Music Player
Sony's Network Walkman music player line is divided sharply into two main categories: inexpensive flash players with low storage and mid-range models considerably larger hard drives. A model will soon appear that bridges the gap and will signal Sony's first direct challenge to the iPod nano and Sansa e200. British online store Play inadvertently posted and later removed a listing for an upcoming new Sony player dubbed the NW-S706. The device, pictured, would resemble a hybrid between the design of the company's E00 series and the controls of the S2 Sports. As listed, it would also include features not normally seen in players its size, such as 4GB of flash storage and a color display capable of album art. An audio input jack, FM tuning, and 50 hours of battery life would also give the S706 a lead over other players in its class. The entry for the unreleased player had a price of £180, which is high compared to the £129 of Apple's 4GB iPod but reflects the additional features.
PopCap gender split
PopCap Games has published the results of an internal demographics survey, and the results are somewhat surprising. The Bejeweled developer polled 2,191 "casual" gamers, and discovered that a full 76 percent of them were female - well more than the 38 percent figure for US gamers as a whole, claimed by the Entertainment Software Association. Moreover, the average age of women in the PopCap survey was 48, a full 15 years older than the ESA's gender-neutral average (33). So what's the explanation? Judging by primary motivations, it could be that juggling motherhood and/or a career takes its toll: 44 percent of women chose "stress relief," versus just 33 percent of men. "Entertainment" and "mental workouts" ranked relatively low as women's reasons, at 17 and 16 percent respectively.
Around the World ships
Frozax Games has released Around the World for Mac, a casual puzzle game with original game mechanics. "Prepare yourself for a hazardous yet fun trip in famous cities from all continents and discover many wonders by completing the levels right on time. Move and slide seven kinds of colored blocks layed out in different configurations to make matches and combos. Use the different potent power-ups with care. Some will help you, such as the explosion or the multicolor block, but other may slow you down in your trip. Be sure to complete each level before the time runs out. Become famous by sending your best score on the internet." It features 100 levels, 20 board layouts, many powerful power-ups, 18 awards, and three game modes as well as player profiles and automatic saved games. It is available for $20.
AAPL rated "hold" by Citi
Citigroup today cut its rating on Apple stock to "hold" from its previous "buy" rating, saying that the company's growing stock price is making it less attractive. Citing valuation concerns, the firm told clients "it sees little potential for revenue upside versus consensus in the third or fourth quarter of the year. It said gross margin upside should yield 4 cents to 6 cents of earnings-per-share upside in both quarters but that this is largely priced into the shares," according to MarketWatch. In addition, Citigroup said "recent checks" suggest that Apple is unlikely to introduce a new video iPod with a larger screen and "virtual click wheel" before the peak holiday season, as the broker had hoped, according to the report.
Gaming C4 Engine available
Terathon Sotware has released a Universal Binary of the C4 Engine, an advanced 3D game engine for the Windows and Mac OS X. The C4 Engine contains a comprehensive suite of robustly implemented game programming tools as well as integrated support for sound, music, networking, input devices, and resource management. The update brings support for Intel-based Macs (though it is listed as "untested") and updates the Display Manager code for Mac OS X to use newer operating system APIs to allow more display modes to be accessible, according to the developer. This version is also no longer a dependent on DrawSprocket. A - A fully functional online Deathmatch demo game is also available. It is available for $200 and includes the complete source code for the C4 Engine, demo and sample game modules as well as the source code for the all of the tools, including the World Editor. The license also includes one full year of free updates.
South Park and Warcraft
Trey Parker and Matt Stone have done gaming-themed episodes in the past, but perhaps nothing as conspicuous as this Wednesday's 10th-season premiere. Citizens of South Park become addicted to World of Warcraft, and the show will actually feature a number of in-game sequences with added voicework. You can see a brief 19-second teaser below. Did Comedy Central have to pay Blizzard to make this happen, or vice versa?
iScatch DJ software ships
Red Rock Software today announced iScratch, an application that allows anyone to create virtual digital scratches: "Scratching is the DJ, or turntablist, technique of creating a variety of sounds by moving a vinyl record back and forth under a turntable’s phonographic needle. The sound has become one of the most recognizable features of hip hop music. Rather than having to create the scratches with turntables, audio mixer and vinyl records, the new iScratch software allows turntablists, both pro and amateur, to create their unique sounds digitally." iScratch provides tools to create all the basic scratches, including push, pull, baby, release, chirp, tear and hold. The new software also includes a click tool for simulating mixer control. iScratch compositions can be easily included in custom mixes, converted to MP3 and then moved to an iPod or CD. The software requires Mac OS X 10.4 and is available for $70.
First Laptop HD DVD Writer
While Toshiba has had HD DVD drives in its Qosmio laptops since early this year, the drives have been perpetually hamstrung by an inability to write to their own format -- an edge Blu-Ray has had since Sony's AR-series portables appeared this summer. The computer maker today said it will change this by unveiling an early example of its new SD-L902A laptop drive at the CEATEC conference in Japan, according to Akihabara News. The new HD DVD drive is the first of its size to use a blue-violet hybrid laser that can both read and write HD DVDs as well as legacy formats; Toshiba claims a 1X recording speed for HD DVD discs and 2.4X for dual-layer DVDs. It should also be compact enough at 12.7mm in height to function in many thinner laptops. No details were announced of when laptop manufacturers would begin using the writer in shipping computers.
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