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Apple expands games dev
Apple is reportedly looking to expand its game development staff this summer; the company is recruiting students from the Savannah College of Art and Design for advanced graphics artists. According to the report, students report receiving an e-mail from a recruiter looking for game developers for Apple to create "high quality 3D and 2D art for games." The message was not specific as to whether the company was looking to expand its growing iPod gaming platform (which launched last fall) or for the upcoming iPhone or possible games for Apple TV, as hinted by execs from Popcap games. Reports emerged this past weekend indicating that Electronic Arts is in talks with EA about games for the forthcoming iPhone.
Fibre Channel; SVN Client
Fibre Channel Utility 2.1.4 (free) is an update to Mac OS X Server, enabling the configuration of Apple Fibre Channel PCI cards. This includes the Dual- and Quad-Channel 4Gb Fibre Channel card. To use the latest version of the utility, Mac OS X 10.4.8 is required. Earlier releases are still available on Apple's website.
[Download - 500KB]
Syncro SVN Client 2.1 ($59) makes document and code sharing easier for authors and developers. The new version adds "Switch" and "Relocate" options, which can shift a working copy within the same repository, or change a repository's path when it has been moved to another URL. On Apple systems, Mac OS X 10.3 and Java 1.4.2 are required. [Download - 11.3MB]
C4 Engine Build 132 ($200) is a comprehensive game engine, including not just a 3D renderer, but sound, control and network components. Build 132 introduces a great deal of code changes, such as a revised AI system, and a completely new editor. Interested parties must buy a license to try the engine, but a technology demo is available. [Download - 45.9MB]
My Money Minder 1.9.5 ($12.50) is a personal finance program with multiple view and import options, as well as the ability to assign Categories and Groups. The v1.9.5 update addresses bug issues such as TSV importing, and errors produced when importing files with non-English characters. Users with older computers can download a version for Mac OS 8.5. [Download - 8.2MB]
Avenir 2.3.2 ($30) is a fiction-writing suite, providing not only a word processor but tools and annotations for tracking scenes, characters, research and more. Changes to v2.3.2 include autosaves, text highlighting, and a French localization. The software is a Universal Binary for Mac OS 10.4. [Download - 2.2MB]
Keyclick 1.0.1 ($2.50) re-introduces keyboard button sounds, which can help some users type faster. It can alternately reproduce effects for discontinued keyboards, such as the Apple Extended, or the IBM Model M. Version 1.0.1 maintains volume settings after a restart. The app is a Universal Binary for Mac OS 10.4. [Download - 184KB]
IBM CPU power to double
In brief: IBM is planning to double its processor power in 2008, using a secret design that is apparently a faster form of embedded dynamic random access memory (eDRAM). The new chip will likely occupy one-third of the space commonly used by static random access memory (SRAM).... Warner CEO Edgar Bronfman at the 3GSM phone expo in Barcelona said the processes of purchasing and downloading music from a cellular phone borders on the excruciating. The executive noted that while many cellular phones in use today can play music and enable users to purchase those tracks directly from an online store, only about 8.5 percent of customers actually do so.
ThinkGeek Media Tank
Online retailer ThinkGeek on Wednesday listed the Media Tank. Billed as a way to consolidate all the external USB 2.0 storage attachments owned by some computer users, the Tank enclosure is large enough to hold both a desktop-class hard disk and optical drive, either of which is easily swapped out as drive technology improves. Regardless of the installeed storage, a 6-in-1 card reader is fixed in place alongside a USB 2.0 port for jumpdrives. A fan and heatsink cool the fully-laden case.
The multi-device hub works properly with both Macs and Windows PCs, and ships without a hard disk or optical drive from ThinkGeek on February 20th for $90. [via Everything USB]
Canada on piracy list?
Counting Apple, Microsoft and Paramount among its members, a consortium of US corporations wants Canada put on an intellectual property "blacklist," says Electronista. The International Intellectual Property Alliance charges that Canada is a haven for piracy, and that as a result, America's government should place the country on a "priority watchlist" alongside China, Russia, Indonesia and others. Specifically, the IIPA believes that Canada's Conservative leadership is doing nothing to stem a flow of console mod chips and bootlegged movies. "The problem of unauthorized camcording of films in Canadian theatres is now nearing crisis levels," reads a statement from the group, which also argues that in 2006, as much as a quarter of all pirated movies were created in Canada.
Zune Software Humbled
Microsoft's Zune software owns just an infinitesimal portion of the music jukebox landscape, Digital Music News said today in a report. The analyst group noted that in a survey of over 1.5 million computer users, only 0.22 percent of respondents -- or 3,300 individuals -- had the Zune software installed, which is necessary to sync and buy songs for its companion device. In contrast, iTunes holds a much larger 26.59 percent share of installs, running on over 120 times more systems than its newly released challenger.
The study appears to compound Microsoft's already uphill struggle for acceptance. While additional studies conducted at the end of 2006 suggested that Microsoft held a 2 percent share of the music player market, the new report indicates a considerably lower adoption rate. Owning the device is also strictly optional for use of the software, indicating that a small portion of surveyed Zune software users may not have bought its hardware equivalent.
Canada to be blacklisted?
Counting Apple, Microsoft and Paramount among its members, a consortium of US corporations wants Canada put on a intellectual property "blacklist," according to Canadian newspaper The Globe and Mail. The International Intellectual Property Alliance charges that Canada is a haven for piracy, and that as a result, America's government should place the country on a "priority watchlist" alongside China, Russia, Indonesia and others. Specifically, the IIPA believes that Canada's Conservative leadership is doing nothing to stem a flow of console mod chips and bootlegged movies. "The problem of unauthorized camcording of films in Canadian theatres is now nearing crisis levels," reads a statement from the group, which also argues that in 2006, as much as a quarter of all pirated movies were created in Canada.
LG 3G For All Phones
Although relatively quiet at this week's 3GSM expo, LG has just previewed a pair of new phones at the conference that seek to add faster 3G Internet access to the previously untapped area of mid-range phones. The KU250 (pictured) is the first phone to have been awarded the GSM Association's "3G For All" label, according to LG: rather than adopt the size and price of a smartphone, the KU250 assumes the shape of a standard bar phone to save costs without sacrificing 3G elements. Internet connections as quick as 1.8Mbps are possible through the phone's HSDPA support; the phone even finds room for the front-facing VGA camera needed for video chats. A 1.3-megapixel rear camera, AAC/MP3/WMA playback, and a microSD slot still find their way into the phone, which is due to arrive in Europe this Spring.
Read through for the higher-end KS10 and a gallery.
Acer TravelMate 2480
Acer today became one of the latest computer makers to introduce a budget Windows Vista notebook with its TravelMate 2480-2779. The 14-inch widescreen system is designed primarily to handle Vista Home Basic and is loaded with enough features to make good use of the new OS, according to Acer's claims. A 1.6GHz Celeron M, 512MB of RAM, an 80GB hard drive, and a DVD/CD-RW combo writer form its performance baseline. Expansion is broad for the price range with both a PC Card slot and a 5-in-1 card reader.
As suggested by its focus, price is the key selling point for the Acer portable, which ships now from NewEgg and other online shops for $540. [via Laptoping]
'Quark' iPhone-like device
Nvidia has demonstrated the Quark, a new smartphone resembling Apple's iPhone with its three-inch touch-screen interface and a single power/hold button. The phone is particularly focused on media playback with the ability to play music, display photos, and play videos in a graphically rich environment. A three-megapixel camera complements audio and 802.11b/g/i/e wireless capability. The Quark runs on Nvidia's recent GoForce 6100 chipset, combining CPU and GPU functions with the audio and wireless functions. Nvidia says the phone is unlikely to make it into production, but notes that the technology is already in third-party products.
Warner on Mobile Music
The processes of buying and downloading music from a cellphone borders on the excruciating, according to Warner Music chief Edgar Bronfman's presentation at this week's 3GSM phone expo in Barcelona. The controversial CEO made the disturbing revelation that while many cellphones in use today can play music and buy it directly from an online store, only 8.5 percent of their owners actually choose to do so. The label head blamed this in large part on the difficulty of access, observing that even the simple act of buying a ringtone required two full minutes and 20 clicks before the download even begins.
"It's expensive, it's complicated and it's slow," Bronfman said. "It's amazing that we've generated as much revenue as we have given how cumbersome the experience can be."
Greenpeace activists say Apple could be preparing to clean up its manufacturing process, which the group says contains hazardous substances. Apple came under fire on several occasions in recent months from the environmental organization, which placed the Cupertino-based company in last place with regard to environmental issues in early December of 2006 after the Mac-maker scored extremely low on a Greenpeace environmental report card detailing the use of toxic chemicals. Greenpeace has claimed that Apple CEO Steve Jobs recently met with a Social Responsibility Fund investor to discuss Apple's environmental record, according to Macworld UK, but Apple aptly denies this claim.
Peapod toddler MP3 player
Canadian company Peapod is preparing an MP3 player aimed squarely at babies and toddlers, for whom a regular player would be too difficult or fragile to handle. Its enclosure has a child-sized handle, and is made of overmolded rubber, which should protect the player from falls, throws and chewing. Similarly, the display is a small monochrome LCD rather than an elaborate color model, and audio emits from a built-in speaker. Simple buttons allow playing, pausing and track skipping. A single AA battery should provide up to 40 hours of music, although critically, onboard memory can store only two. Peapod intends to show off the player at this week's Toy Fair in New York. [via Gear Live]
IBM to double chip power
Speaking at the International Solid State Circuits Conference in San Francisco, an IBM representative has claimed the company will double its microprocessor power in 2008. The design secret is apparently a faster form of embedded dynamic RAM (eDRAM), which should occupy a mere third of the space commonly used by static RAM (SRAM). For comparison, an Intel Core 2 Duo processor is 60 percent occupied by memory. The new chips should also consume one-fifth the electricity needed to maintain standby power. IBM expects that the technology could drastically improve the speed of multicore processors, as well as graphics-intensive applications, such as games. IBM chips are used in the three major game consoles produced by Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo. [via IDG News]
Mio A501 GPS Phone
Mio Technology chose 3GSM as its venue today for releasing the company's second-generation smartphone. The A501 carries on the larger A700 series' use of a built-in GPS receiver for navigation but manages to slim down but also receives a slight upgrade to features. A 2-megapixel replaces the 1.3-megapixel original; for Internet use, thte A501 also gains EDGE for faster browsing. The smaller A501 still makes room for a full SD card slot for map data and an SDIO slot for add-ons.
The phone is planned for a March release at an unknown price, but may be earmarked as the first phone from the navigator company to appear in the US: where the A701's GSM connection limited it to parts of Asia and Europe, new frequency support opens the possibilty of a launch in the West. The company has previously released GPS-only units in North America. See a complete photo after the break. [via NaviGadget]
Myst Online: Uru Live
GameTap today announced that Myst Online: Uru Live will officially open its doors on Thursday, February 15th. Myst Online: Uru Live introduces all-new Ages and puzzles while fusing the social concepts of a traditional massively multiplayer online game with mystery and problem-solving facets. The game features elements unique to the Myst franchise such as books to teleport, exploration throughout immersive new Ages, and mind-challenging puzzles to solve as a group or alone (system requirements were unavailable). Myst Online: Uru Live is priced at $0.99 cents for the first month, after which players pay $9.95 per month. [images]
Falcom Mambo GPS phone
Designed by German maker Falcom, the Mambo combines standard cellphone features with significant GPS hardware. While it does have Bluetooth and a tri-band GSM receiver, the highlight is a 20-channel SiRFStar III receiver, more commonly found in stand-alone GPS units. To preserve battery power, the Mambo can also be set to use a three-axis motion sensor in place of GPS. An emergency button will automatically acquire position and send the coordinates via e-mail or SMS; alternately, it can be make a predeterimned phonecall, or be tracked by TCP/IP. Coming this spring is the Mambo 2, which will have an enhanced appearance and interface, including options for monitoring workouts and driving.
Sharp AQUOS Blu-Ray
Sharp this morning launched a sweeping update to its AQUOS media recorders, including its first-ever Blu-Ray burner. The BD-HP1 not only plays the next-generation disc format on TVs but records HD footage as well, writing as much as 25GB of video captured from either of its two i.Link (Firewire) connections. The extra space creates enough room for three full hours of HD video and 6.5 hours of standard-definition video, Sharp says. In Japanese form, the BD-HP1 will ship with individual HDMI and D4 outputs for connecting to HDTVs. In its home territory, the new AQUOS recorder will ship on March 20th for $1,199; a US launch is unannounced but likely, and should replace the Japan-native D4 port with component video.
Capture NX 1.1 released
Nikon today released Capture NX 1.1, an update to its photography software boasting increased performance, full support for Intel-based Macs, and optimization for Microsoft's Windows Vista operating system. Nikon says the update includes several usability updates based on software testing and customer feedback, including a simpler user interface with resizable palettes for histograms as well as curves & levels adjustments. Capture NX 1.1 works with JPEG and TIFF images, and features a patented U Point technology that enables photographers to enhance specific areas of a picture selectively without the use of masks, selection, or layers. The application also works with Nikon's RAW (NEF) format images, and inherits Nikon's RAW processing capabilities. Capture NX 1.1 is available as a digital download or as a full boxed version for $150. Current Capture NX users can upgrade for free, and upgrades from Capture 4 are priced at $90 for a limited time. Capture NX 1.1 requires Mac OS X 10.3.9 or later.
Nvidia demos Quark phone
Though only a concept, Nvidia is using the 3GSM World Congress to demonstrate the Quark, a smartphone which bears no small similarity to the Apple iPhone. This is because of the controls, which are managed almost entirely through the Quark's three-inch touchscreen -- only the power/hold switch is a physical object. Likewise, the phone is particularly focused on media playback, with the ability to run music, photos and videos in a graphically rich environment. A three-megapixel camera actually tops the model found in the iPhone. The Quark as a whole exploits Nvidia's recent GoForce 6100 chipset, which combines GPU and CPU functions, as well as audio and 802.11b/g/i/e wireless. The phone is unlikely to make it into production, but Nvidia technology is already in third-party products. [via Gizmodo]
Radeon X2000 for Mac Pro?
AMD's upcoming major overhaul of the Radeon graphics line may make its first appearance in an Apple tower, according to a report from The Inquirer. The highest-end part in what will soon be named the Radeon X2000 series, AMD's new card -- codenamed the R600XTX -- was initially revealed over the weekend in a leaked photo that described it only as an OEM model destined for a large-scale system builder. The source says that builder is Apple, and that the Cupertino-based company will use the card in its next Mac Pro system. Measuring a large 12 inches long, the card has a custom heatpipe to reduce noise and will reportedly mark Apple's first instance of support for AMD's Crossfire mode, significantly improving 3D performance by linking two cards together.
Totem Treasure 2 released
Pokie Magic today released Totem Treasure 2 for Mac, marking the game development firm's first Mac game. Totem Treasure 2 is built with the PTK game engine, offering a spiritual Native American theme and feel. The game simulates a five or six reel slot machine on-screen enticing players to spin the reels, play a separate game of Roulette, or attend a card game for a chance to double winnings. The game features bonus screens to play for triple the current winnings, and players can win a large ever-increasing virtual jackpot. Totem Treasure 2 for Mac includes a "Wolf Feature" for free game plays, "Golden Wolves" for a chacne to win the progressive Wampum Jackpot, totem bonuses for extra game plays as well as increased multiples for earnings, and a Triple Golden Feature that gives players the chance at the end of a bonus round to triple winnings up to 24 times when they choose the correct golden totems. Totem Treasure 2 is priced at $20, and requires Mac OS X 10.4 or later.
Ogo 2 Official
IXI added to the rush of 3GSM announcements this morning by releasing the Ogo2.0, an update to its text-centric phone and messenger hybrid. The name reflects the new Ogo's adaptation to Web 2.0 and participating online, IXI says. Beyond a sharper 320x240 display and new EDGE Internet support, the Ogo2.0 is the first messenger from the company to ship with the option of using OgoClips, tube-shaped attachements that enter into the hinge and add different functions depending on the model: a camera OgoClip already exists for photos and video chats, as do add-ons for wireless headsets, music streaming, and even bottle opening.
The quad-band GSM device will ship under the CT-25E name first to Switzerland through the country's local provider Swisscom, but should be available internationally later this year for prices that will vary from region to region. Click through for full-size images.
T-Mobile gets Nokia 5300
Confirming earlier suspicions, the Nokia 5300 XpressMusic will be carried natively in the US, specifically by T-Mobile. The phone could previously be used here, but only if bought unlocked for over $300. Under the new T-Mobile arrangement, starting February 28th, customers will be able to pay as little as $99 for the phone with a two-year contract. The phone is a quad-band GSM unit with EDGE broadband, and as the name implies, it is specially designed for music. Control buttons are located alongside the display, and an adapter is included to use any headphones of choice. Tracks can be loaded through a slot that supports microSD cards up to 2GB. Yahoo Music is the official download partner for the phone and will be offering three free tracks. [via Crave]
Titan cases to ship soon
GizMac Accessories has begun taking pre-orders for its Titan Clear iPod case, and said it is expanding its line of polycarbonate iPod cases for Apple's second-generation iPod nano. The cases are designed to protect the portable player from scratches and other minor damage while providing four ways to carry the iPod. Titan cases come with a thin film material to protect the clickwheel from damage, and each case features a belt clip with a 360-degree rotation and lanyard accessories to accommodate a wide range of ways to wear the portable device. Titan cases for Apple's second-generation iPod nano cater to charging cables as well as oversized earphone jacks, and are available for pre-order at $25 each. The cases are slated for shipment in the last half of February, according to GizMac.
Sales of Mac OS X Leopard
Apple's launch of Mac OS X Leopard next quarter is expected to help Mac market share rebound, following the negative impact of the Windows Vista launch. Analyst firm Piper Jaffray estimates that the sequel to Mac OS X Tiger will see sales of 2.6 million copies during the June quarter, adding $130 million to the company's revenues: more importantly, however, it will help focus investors on the "Mac chapter of the Apple story." Sales of the next-generation operating system -- which still has several "unannounced features" expected to be revealed by Apple in the coming months -- will near 10 million for the entire fiscal year, as the company has grown its installed base by 25 percent to 20 million since the launch of Mac OS X Tiger nearly two years ago, the firm noted.
Meizu has apparently completed its design of an iPhone look-alike handheld device code-named the M8, and is likely to release the device into the market in the near future. VR-Zone reports that Meizu named the device miniOne because it is a top end 'all-in-one' player boasting a wide array of functionality. The Chinese-made handheld measures 3.3-inches long, making it slightly shorter than Apple's iPhone with a screen resolution of 720x480, versus Apple's 320x480. The device runs Win CE 6.0, utilizes GSM+TD-SCMA, offers Bluetooth as well as TV-Out wireless connectivity, and runs on an ARM11 + Video CODEC chip. Meizu's miniOne also includes a 3.0-megapixel camera on one side and a 0.3-megapixel camera on the other. but weight and storage capacity were unavailable. Samsung last week unveiled its Ultra Smart F700 smartphone bearing a striking resemblance to Apple's iPhone, targeted at the "recent trend" in touchscreen devices.
Samsung U740 at Verizon
US cell provider Verizon today announced that it now offers the Samsung U740. Seen with the carrier's logos as early as November, the U740 is rare among US phones for its double-hinged clamshell. While opening vertically for ordinary calls, the Samsung device can also open laterally and turn its keypad into a full keyboard for e-mail or instant messages. Verizon adds that the phone's convertible shape also makes it ideal for the carrier's Wireless Sync feature: the U740 can pair with a specific PC and remotely download the latest contacts, e-mail, or other essentials as they receive updates on the host.
Samsung's device slots directly into the mid-range of Verizon's lineup with a 1.3-megapixel camera, Bluetooth, EVDO Internet access, and playback for music and videos from either the user's microSD cards or the provider's V CAST service. The U740 ships today for $150 when linked with a two-year plan. A gallery follows after the jump.
Vista lowers Mac share
The launch of Microsoft's Vista operating system is likely to have a negative impact on Apple's market share in the March quarter in the short term, while at the same time providing an opportunity for Apple to lure new PC buyers who consider upgrading their PCs. Research firm Piper Jaffray says that while Microsoft has seen relatively lack luster sales of its Vista operating system, the release of Windows Vista has spurred a PC upgrade cycle among buyers and that the surge of PC sales would likely lead to a decrease in Mac market share for the quarter. Senior analyst Gene Munster believes that the trend is only temporary and that the company will see rebounding market share in the coming months as Apple preps the launch of Mac OS X Leopard this spring, it continues to lure new PC buyers spurred by the release of Vista, and benefits from industry-wide shift to portables -- a category in which Apple continues to dominate.
Radeon X2000 for Mac Pro
(Updated with new details) AMD's upcoming major overhaul of the Radeon graphics line may make its first appearance in an Apple tower, sources have told The Inquirer. The highest-end part in what will soon be named the Radeon X2000 series, AMD's new card -- codenamed the R600XTX -- was initially revealed over the weekend in a leaked photo that described it only as an OEM model destined for a large-scale system builder. That builder is Apple, the source claims, which will use the card in its next Mac Pro. Measuring a large 12 inches long, the card has a custom heatpipe to reduce noise. The card will also reportedly mark Apple's first instance of support for AMD's Crossfire mode, which dramatically improves 3D performance by linking two cards together.
Garmin GPSMAP 5000 Series
Garmin has just introduced a whole suite of GPS navigators built just for sea travelers. Both the GPSMAP 5212 and 5012 are intended for serious boaters and come with a very large, 12.1-inch touchscreen that completely eliminates the need for physical buttons; while each model has a combined satellite and vector chart of the world, the 5212 gains especially detailed maps of the US coastline. Smaller cabins can opt instead for the 8.4-inch 5208 and 5008, the company says, with the only sacrifice being the lower, 640x480 resolution inherent to the smaller screen.
All four models have the option of Garmin's new g2 Vision card, which provides both satellite maps as well as 3D views from both the captain's perspective and an underwater view for avoiding shallow waters. The GPS devices are expected in time for June's boating season with prices of $3,500 and $3,000 respectively for the 5200 models, while the more compact 5000 series will sell for $3,400 and $2,900.
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