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CNBC on Apple options
In brief: One user has posted a home video of news network CNBC discussing Apple CEO Steve Jobs' vital position at the company, as well as the recent stock options scandal and the impact that the executive's potential implication has on Apple shares.... Apple's iTunes Music Store apparently informed one user during technical difficulties that the Red Hot Chili Peppers album Stadium Arcadium will be available on May 8th, 2038.... One blogger has posted tips on designing websites for the human eye that features color schemes, negative space, page flow, and more.... Email security firm Commtouch claims that spamming soard in 2006, and that 85 percent of today's spam stems from remote-controlled 'zombie' computers.... Architosh readers have reacted to Nemetschek's plans to acquire ArchiCAD maker Graphisoft, and an architect has written a development letter for a Mac version of the AIA documents application.... MacTech Magazine today announced that it has implemented a new community search mechanism to yield better search results across the entire Mac technical community.
New Nano Action Jacket
Digital Lifestyle Outfitters (DLO) today unveiled a new version of its Action Jacket workout iPod case for iPod and iPod nano. DLO's Action Jacket features a cushioned case with a secure armband that allows easy access to the iPod's play controls. The accessory is 'workout safe,' protecting the player from sweat as well as scratches during physical activity. The new cases ship with a one-size-fits-all armband in iPod nano-matching colors of green, blue, and pink for $30.
iTunes hiccup settles
Apple's iTunes Music Store today returned to normal after numerous customers reported receiving numerous error messages and long delays as they attempted to download songs over a two day span. Wall Street analysts suspect that the delays were caused by mammoth music sales which exceeded the company's expectations, as well as its ability to handle the enormous sum of shoppers trying to access the store simultaneously, according to the Associated Press. The Cupertino-based company saw iTunes visits catapult 413 percent on Christmas day this year over last year, and the Apple Store was dubbed the fourth most-visited website in the Hitwise Retail Index on December 25th of 2006.
Analyst on Premature Vista
Microsoft's Vista business launch was premature and has instilled doubt that the company was ever truly ready for a 2006 launch, according to one industry analyst. PC World analyst Russ Cooper of Cybertrust observes that much of the software compatibility in Vista is broken, leaving many early business customers and even some home users stranded as essential productivity and security tools malfunction in the new environment. The lack of support requires updates that may be months away from completion, according to the analyst. "I say Microsoft never intended anybody to run Vista prior to January," Cooper added. "What works on Vista, beyond Office 2007?"
Hello Kitty iPod clock
Hong Kong-based firm Spectra has unveiled the KT4560, a Hello Kitty-themed clock radio with an iPod dock. The dock charges iPods as they play, and the stereo features additional audio/video jacks that provide output to more powerful external sources. Users can set the internal alarm to wake with the iPod, a buzzer, or an AM/FM radio. The built-in speakers produce two watts of sound each, according to Electronista, and Spectra has yet to announce pricing or release dates for the 4560. The device is expected to arrive in the United States in the near future, however.
Lithium network monitor
Lithium has released its Lithium Network Monitoring Platform to monitor networks, servers, and appliances via a management platform. The software is designed to provide an end-to-end solution with automated device monitoring, out-of-the-box support for SNMP, and an integrated trouble-ticket case management system. The platform is built around a scalable and modular architecture, according to the company, which incorporates a Unix-based server-side component (Core) to perform automated device monitoring, data collection, analysis, and storage to manage the multi-user case management system. Lithium Network Monitoring Platform is priced at $500 for the Professional edition -- which monitors up to 25 devices -- or $1,300 for the Enterprise version to monitor unlimited devices (specific system requirements were unavailable).
I-O Data Vista TV Tuners
I-O Data on Thursday revealed a pair of TV tuners to coincide with the introduction of Windows Vista and its updated Media Center home theater software. Announced in both PCI and USB editions, the GV-MC both play and record analog TV signals in Microsoft's new operating system as well as in Windows XP Media Center Edition. Either version accepts RCA and S-video as a source, I-O Data says; the PCI card's larger size also permits a co-axial plug for direct cable TV video. A quality image is promised with a 10-bit DAC and noise reduction compensating for weak broadcasts.
The tuners are currently slated to appear in Japan during late January at prices of $105 (PCI) and $123 (USB), releasing just before Vista arrives at the end of the same month. An optional infrared remote will work with either GV-MC model for $36. [Via I4U]
LaPazz D-Note Pad
LaPazz says its D-Note DNA500 notepad is one of the more advanced digital notepad systems available. Where most notepads only support single-color images, the DNA500 has three separate pens for black, blue, and red whose colors are recognized by the bundled software. This enables drawings with highlights and other more complex elements without resorting to proprietary inks. Any standard pen refill will work, LaPazz says. 32MB of memory is onboard and the pad will run for 100 hours of continuous writing on four AAA batteries; connecting the pad to a PC through USB not only allows for copying sketches to a PC but transforms the pad into a basic tablet input device. LaPazz will be at CES in January and is already shipping its signature D-Note for $185. [Via OhGizmo]
Dunherm iMac-like Speakers
Korean company Dunherm today revealed its DH-S500 compact speakers. The company says its stereo is built for LCDs, notebooks, and other thin computers and shares the curving aluminum stand of the iMac, which in this case floats the satellites above the desk. The pair of speakers consumes no more than five watts of power and can be powered completely by three AA batteries as well as by an AC outlet, suiting them well for travel according to the company's assertions. Dunherm says its speakers are available today for the equivalent of $11.
Podblaster speaker cases
Major retailer Target is offering the Beat Generation Podblaster, a device enabling users to listen to audio from the same case that holds an iPod portable media player. A flap contains a pair of stereo speakers that connect to an MP3 player via a headphone jack that tucks inside the case, with each speaker producing 3W of power. A flap resides between the speakers revealing the player's controls and allowing users to play, pause or skip tracks without exposing the sensitive portable device. Target is selling the Podblaster in white as well as a "wood grain" design for $50.
iPhoto learning tool
It's About Time Products has released 'It's About Time' to learn iPhoto, designed exclusively for users new to Apple's iPhoto software. The learning tool teaches users the basics of iPhoto interactively, such as how to import photos from a digital camera and organize them into albums. 'It's About Time' to learn iPhoto covers using the crop tool, sharing photos with friends, import or delete photos from a camera, and more. "Learning something with someone else that you can see is so much more beneficial than learning through a thick book or video with audio in the background," says the instructor, who is a former Apple employee. The tool guides users through each lesson in three steps to cover what features will be discussed, demonstrating the task visually, and finally interactively performing the step. 'It's About Time' to learn iPhoto is priced at $15.
Toshiba Delays HD DVD
Toshiba's US division has delayed its flagship HD-XA2 HD DVD player to January, according to a dealer's report at AVS Forum. Previously scheduled for December, the launch of the $1,000 disc player has been pushed back due to production delays. Also likely to miss the ship date is support for 1080p video at the film-standard 24 frames per second, according to a separate poster; the code required is now expected as part of a firmware update that will debut in a few months' time. Core improvements over the now shipping HD-A2 remain intact and include an HDMI 1.3 port for deeper color. [Via Engadget]
Lotus for Mac released
IBM today released Lotus Notes 7.0.2 for Mac OS X, offering enterprise Mac users instant messaging, presence awareness, and Web 2.0 tools such as RSS technology and a blogging template. An enhanced user interface and email productivity features enable Mac users to group emails through a conversation thread, view emails at-a-glance, and save work in progress without the need to manually activate the save function. The software enhances collaboration through integrated instant messaging and presence awareness, according to IBM, by allowing users to communicate in real time across an enterprise from within Notes email, calendar, and contacts. Full calendaring features include group scheduling as well as meeting delegation, and embedded RSS technology allows users to publish data from any Lotus Notes application. Lotus Notes 7.0.2 for the Mac is available for $101 per seat (specific system requirements were unavailable).
ASUS U5F Gets Core 2 Duo
ASUS today refreshed its U5F notebook to use the mobile version of Intel's Core 2 Duo processor. Starting at 1.66GHz, the upgraded 12-inch portable will be available with as much as a 2.33GHZ processor for performance-minded users. At its base level, the system will ship with 512MB of memory, an 80GB hard disk, a webcam, and integrated Bluetooth to complement the by now typical WiFi access.
The U5F also continues ASUS' practice of incorporating the company's Splendid technology for improving color accuracy and is bundled with a carrying bag and USB mouse to cater to its traveller audience. No pricing has been listed for the computer, which goes on sale today in China and should be available in North America and other regions soon.
Reviews, games on demand
In brief: MacNN has reviewed the Saitek Eclipse II Backlit Keyboard ($70, shown at right), a keyboard with a silver casing and a weighted base with rubber feet to prevent unwanted movement.... MacNN has also reviewed the Kenpo Jacket for iPod ($100 on sale, regularly $190), a unique iPod accessory with a technological fabric control system sewn into the sleeve.... MyMacGames is preparing to launch a new 'games on demand' service for Mac users ($8-20 per month) in the third quarter of 2007 that will feature roughly 100 games at launch.... Gefen is extending its warranty coverage on newly purchased products to two years, offering to replace or repair any product that fails to perform due to defects in material and/or workmanship.... Quark president and CEO Ray Schiavone is set to host a briefing at 3:00 p.m. PT on Tuesday, January 9th this year at the Macworld Expo in San Francisco, and has promised some exciting announcements in the near future.... Peachpit is giving away free exhibit passes to Macworld Conference & Expo in San Francisco on a first-come first-served basis until January 3rd via the Priority Code 'PC0249'.
Wireless power for mobiles
Fulton Innovation has developed a technology called eCoupled Intelligent Wireless Power, which the company says will debut at next month's Consumer Electronics Show (January 8th to the 11th). The promise of the technology is wireless transmission of power using inductive coupling, a concept which was once explored by scientists such as Michael Faraday and Nikola Tesla. The traditional problem with the idea has been the lack of stability -- even slight variations in distance can reduce the power being transferred. Fulton says it has solved this problem with adaptive circuity, which adjusts the magnetic field to ensure drops no greater than two percent.
The use of eCoupled chargers will be limited primarily to portable devices such as PDAs and smartphones, which users will simply place on top of a charger to refill. The company hopes to expand their use to other devices however, such as office equipment, kitchen appliances, and even medical hardware. Current corporate partners include Motorola, Visteon, Herman Miller, and Mobility Electronics.
Beat Generation Podblaster
Target on Thursday listed the Beat Generation Podblaster music player case, its solution for frequent travelers who look to enjoy music without endangering their iPods or most other small media players by removing them from a protective shell. The Podblaster's vinyl outer covering features two prominent speakers that will play any sound from a device connected to the headphone jack inside. The flip design allows the carrier to quickly change tracks without removing the player from its case. A wrist strap is built-in to protect against drops while the case is in hand. Target retails the case and speaker hybrid in both white and wood grain colors for $50. [Via Chip Chick]
Vista Launched Too Soon
Microsoft's Vista business launch was premature and has instilled doubt that the company was ever truly ready for a 2006 launch, according to an expert speaking to PC World. Analyst Russ Cooper of Cybertrust observes that much of the compatibility is broken, leaving many early adopters stranded as essential tools such as antivirus or tax software break and require updates that may be months away from completion.
"I say Microsoft never intended anybody to run Vista prior to January," Cooper notes. "What works on Vista, beyond Office 2007?"
Additionally, PC World finds that Microsoft is creating inexplicable delays in important fixes, citing an Internet Explorer 7 performance fix that was released for Windows XP and Windows Server 2003 this month but which will not appear for Vista until February or later, after the public launch of Vista has already taken place. A Microsoft spokeswoman said such fixes were handled on a "case-by-case basis" but did not account for the delay.
SL Reference Kit released
Smart Loops has released the SL Reference Kit for SoundFont 2.0-compatible software samplers and sound cards. SL Reference Kit includes more than 350MB of 24-bit drum samples performed live on a Pearl Reference kit, which were recorded at the Platinum Labs in Nashville. All samples are recorded 'dry,' with no processing, EQ, or compression to provide ideal 'reference' drum samples. Users can customize SL Reference Kit samples for use with any style of music, according to Smart Loops, using custom effects processing to mix unique sounds on the drum tracks. The SL Reference Kit SoundFont Edition drum sample set is available for $20.
Apple files patents
The U.S. Patent & Trademark Office today published two Apple patent applications titled 'Guard system for portable computer disk drive slot' and 'Method and apparatus for binding user interface objects to application objects.' The former, which was initially filed in mid-2005, relates to a guard system for the disk drive slot on Apple notebooks. The latter, which was originally filed this past August, describes a graphical user interface accompanying functionality for binding Web page definitional elements to a back-end state with custom logic. Both patents accompany two additional Apple patents published today describing a cryptographic system for small devices such as iPods or cellular phones and secure Bonjour networking.
Deluo Routis EZ100 GPS
Though in many ways a conventional GPS unit, Deluo's Routis EZ100 (a.k.a. RoadMentor) bears the uncommon trait of a vertical screen orientation, better suited to 3D map views. Standard 2D maps are available as well. Other features of the 3.5-inch LCD include touch sensitivity, plus day and night modes for easier viewing. The unit comes with a 1GB SD card pre-loaded with maps of the United States, and performs several tasks such as route exclusion and automatic route recalculation. Five million points of interest are listed in the unit's database. The Routis is selling for $339 from Deluo, or $375 from Amazon.
OCZ 8800 GTX Video Card
Gaming-oriented memory producer OCZ will later today reveal its first video card. Dubbed simply the OCZ 8800 GTX, the board will use NVIDIA's GeForce 8800 GTX chipset at its standard 575MHz core and 1.8GHz memory speeds, but will have each unit hand-picked for its ability to overclock: only the most easily enhanced chips will be chosen from each batch, OCZ claims. The 8800 GTX from the company will be tied to a lifetime warranty, though the company has not revealed whether or not overclocking will affect support. Cards will begin shipping almost immediately after the launch and are expected to list near the official $649 price NVIDIA has set for its chipset. [Via The Inquirer]
Blu-Ray, HD DVD cracked?
One skilled hacker is already claiming to have defeated copy-protection measures built into new HD movie formats, which were originally designed to stem piracy efforts. A poster in the Doom9 forums says that an application he's developed, BackupHDDVD, bypasses the Advanced Access Content System (AACS) encryption found on both Blu-Ray and HD DVD discs, allowing PC users to copy movies directly to their hard drives. The software is currently in a rough state that only supports a handful of HD DVD titles, according to Electronista, but shows that AACS is functionally similar to CSS -- the encryption for standard DVDs that was broken by 'DVD Jon' Lech Johansen in 2002. Johansen himself predicted that AACS would be rendered useless by the end of 2006.
Brando Phonebook Drive
Brando has begun offering its USB Phonebook Flash Drive for frequent cellphone users. Equipped with adapters for common Nokia, Samsung, and Sony-Ericsson phones, the flash drive's sole purpose is to transfer a phone's contact list to or from the handset for backup and editing. One button downloads the list from a phone's SIM card to the drive. A second press of the same button can send that same list to a PC through a USB port, while a different button reverses the entire process for updating the address book on the phone itself. As many as 10,000 contacts can be held at once, Brando says. The drive ships immediately from Brando for $21. [Via SlashGear]
Apple cryptographic patent
The U.S. Patent & Trademark Office today published two of Apple's security-related patent applications titled 'Chaos generator for accumulation of stream entropy' and 'Method and apparatus for establishing a secure connection.' The former, which was originally filed in mid-2005, relates to the generation of secure random numbers for use in cryptographic systems. Apple further notes that the patent's method and apparatus is to provide random numbers of cryptographic strength that are suitable for use in cryptographic systems for small devices such as the iPod, cell phone, PDA or other such devices. The latter patent, which was also originally filed in mid-2005, relates to a method and an apparatus that facilitates establishing a secure connection on a communication channel.
Eclipse Phone Concept
Product designer Rune Larsen has revealed a concept phone named only the Eclipse. A reverse slider phone where the display can be hidden inside the casing, the curved design that forms the handset's namesake features only a basic number pad and simple navigation controls; the minimalist focus is meant only for calls, contact lists, and SMS texting and recalls the early era of small cellphones, Larsen says. The monochrome, transparent LCD is both a nod to classic phones and a way of preserving battery life in a space-constrained phone that would measure only 2.2 inches long when closed.
While no production plans have been announced for the Eclipse, which was privately designed, it may help dictate the future of cellphone design and reverse a trend towards complex smartphones. Click through for a full image. [Via Gizmodo]
Shaw Wu on options news
The recent news concerning Apple's stock options investigation alongside Steve Jobs' decision to hire legal counsel came as no surprise to senior analyst Shaw Wu of American Technology Research, who saw the dip in stock pricing as an opportunity for nimble investors. "We have been looking for a pull-back in Apple shares to get more aggressive on the long side," Wu wrote in a research note obtained by MacNN. "For those who missed yesterday's window, we do not think it is too late to step in." Apple CEO Steve Jobs' decision to seek legal counsel is long overdue, according to Wu, despite the fact that the compensation committee at Apple is run by an independent board that is not comprised of Apple employees. Shaw Wu reiterated his 'buy' rating with a $99 price target based on checks of strong December quarter momentum and a strong product pipeline in 2007.
Wireless MP3 Shower Mirror
The Discovery Channel hopes to offer an alternative to listening to radio in the morning with its just-launched Tri-Fold Wireless MP3 Shower Mirror. The accessory is built to accept almost any audio source, ranging from CD and digital audio players to TVs, according to Discovery. An FM transmitter module plugs into a standard headphone jack and broadcasts to the mirror's speakers from distances up to 100 feet. The mirror itself secures to a wall with tape or suction cups, and is lit as well as fog-proofed for easier grooming. An LED clock and a standard FM radio receiver give access to the features of more conventional shower sets. The Tri-Fold sells for $100. [Via Chip Chick]
Blu-Ray Encryption Cracked
The copy protection at the heart of next-generation disc formats such as Blu-Ray and HD DVD has been broken, according to a code writer's post at the Doom9 video enthusiast forums. The contributor claims to have written software, named BackupHDDVD, that bypasses the Advanced Access Content System (AACS) protection found on the new storage formats and allows users to copy data from the otherwise restricted discs to a PC.
Though in rough form and limited to a handful of HD DVD titles, the program appears to confirm early fears that AACS is too similar to CSS, the encryption scheme used by standard DVDs and famously bypassed by Jon Lech Johansen in 2002. If validated, the circumvention could force a radical revision of copy protection on future discs. Johansen had previously said that AACS would likely be rendered ineffective by the end of this year.
A video claiming to prove the success of the technology can be found after the jump.
Atlantis X-380 GPS
Atlantis has just released the X-380 GPS system. A smaller counterpart to the X-5600 released earlier this month, the X-380 is equipped with a 3.5-inch screen and mounts inside a car's windshield. Although meant for US travel and shipping with a 1GB SD card preloaded with US and Puerto Rican road information, the newly unveiled Atlantis unit provides voice directions in any of 18 different languages. The company also promises reduced distractions through larger, simpler buttons. Automatic rerouting, 3D maps, and point-of-interest searching are also present. Amazon carries the X-380 today for $450. [Via NaviGadget]
Toshiba TS605 Phone
Toshiba has just revealed its TS605 candybar phone. While doing without EDGE, HSDPA, or other broadband connections, the GSM-based handset is designed for music and style, according to the company: an FM radio is built-in, as is a microSD card slot for up to 1GB of AAC or MP3 songs. The backing of the phone is available in any one of several exotic color schemes ranging from aubergine (dark purple) to bright green. A slim profile is also crucial to the design, which measures only 0.4 inches thick. Bluetooth and a 1.3-megapixel camera for photo and video recording round out the phone's features. The phone is available now in Europe, though pricing varies by carrier. Full imagery can be found after the jump.
Apple falsifies records
Apple's stock fell Thursday following a report that indicated Apple's Steve Jobs was given 7.5 million stock options in 2001 without the required authorization from the company’s board of directors. Apple stock fell $1.64 or about 2 percent in pre-market trading. The Financial Times reports that records that purported to show a full board meeting had taken place to approve the stock options remuneration, as required by Apple’s procedures, were later falsified. The records are now among the pieces of evidence being reviewed by the Securities and Exchange Commission as it decides whether to pursue a case against the company or any individuals over the affair, the report claims. Apple is expected to reveal news of the irregularities in a regulatory filing before the end of this week and only days after Jobs hired a lawyer--both of which are likely add to questions about Apple’s disclosures about its internal investigation into the backdating issue.
Hello Kitty iPod Radio
Spectra today revealed the KT4560, the first iPod clock radio to bear Sanrio's Hello Kitty name. Designed to charge and play music from all of Apple's dockable iPod models, the two-watt stereo includes an AM/FM tuner and can be set to wake to an attached iPod, the radio, or an alarm. Spectra has also given the stereo the rare extra of a video output jack for displaying an iPod's photo or video library on a nearby TV and sports an auxiliary input for third-party audio sources. No pricing or release details have been made public, though the new Hello Kitty speakers should be available soon in the US. [Via Chip Chick]
Mitsubishi 22-inch LCDs
Mitsubishi today entered the growing ranks of 22-inch computer LCD manufacturers with its new RDT221WM line. The screen shares the 1680x1050 resolution, 5ms response time, and 800:1 contrast ratio of its peers but also includes a pair of one-watt, chin-mounted speakers for sound. DVI and VGA ports give the choice of digital or analog connections. Mitsubishi intends to launch the displays in black and silver colors for the Japanese market first on January 26th, just before the official launch of Windows Vista; the display's wide screen is ideal for the gadget sidebar in the new OS, the company claims. Pricing is set at $506. An American introduction is possible but has not been announced.
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