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In brief: Crumpler is holding its Beer for Bags Week in New York City beginning June 9th, Feral Interactive is holding a second caption competition for LEGO Star Wars II, Galbanum has unveiled its Archivecture Waveforms Cakewalk Edition, and Simig Media Records has released the solo piano record "13 Masks" by Tobin Mueller. Crumpler is set to exchange specific varieties and quantities of beer for its laptop and photo bags from in New York City from June 9th through June 17th at two Manhatten locations. The company will trade bags for beer at 45 Spring St. and 49 8th Ave, and will accept amber brew as tender rather than cash or credit orders during the sale. One case of Coopers and four Fosters Oil Cans are tradable for a Barney Rustle Messenger bag -- which retails for $100.
Although hard drives reaching the 1TB total mark are beginning to hit the market, a new technology may help open the doors to much greater capacities. Researchers from Toshiba and Tohoku University have developed heads that read sectors with a density of 1TB per square inch, resulting in prototype drives (not pictured) that can hold several times the current maximum. The key is a concept called nanocontact magnetic resistance (NC-MR), which should dramatically increase the accuracy of a head. Unfortunately for the public, however, the first commercial drives to use NC-MR are at least five years away. [via Ars Technica]
Allgood Software has released Allgood Spite and Malice 4.0, bringing native compatibility to Intel-based Macs as a Universal Binary to the "Cat and Mouse" card game. The application is an implementation of the two player "Spite and Malice" patience game, pitting players against the computer with three levels of difficulty. Allgood Spite and Malice 4.0 offers seven unique options that players can mix and match to suite personal taste, and the game is priced at $15 for a single-user license. The software requires Mac OS X 10.2 or later.
Voice recorders and MP3 players tend to be distinct products, but not so with the YV-150, which resembles high-gloss players like the K3 more than traditional dictation equipment. It is nevertheless able to record up to 66 hours of audio (on the 1GB version), with the option of a super-high quality mode that allows for 16 hours. Text files written in English, Chinese or Japanese, meanwhile, can be converted into synthesized voice. When not being used for work, it can play MP3 and WMA music tracks, as well as tune in and record FM radio. 512MB and 1GB models should be available now in Korea at an unspecified price. [via Mobile Whack]
Apple software developer Ben Long has released Photoshop Action Pack 3.5, marking his latest Automator actions that let users control Photochop CS, CS2, and CS3. The pack enables users to build stand-alone applications, droplets, Finder plug-ins, and watch folders that automate operations that are normally considered tedious. "While Photoshop provides built-in automation in the form of actions, and an external interface to these batch processes through Adobe Bridge, the Photoshop Action Pack gives you far more capability," said Long. "With its unique filter and sorting operations, you can create automated workflows that have logic operations in them, allowing you to create a workflow that processes some images in one way, and other images in another." Photoshop Action Pack 3.5 is available for free.
Tension Software today released Calcline 1.2, an application designed to evaluate mathematical expressions with parentheses, nested functions, and variables. The mathematical tool is developed in Objective-C and Cocoa exclusively for Mac systems as an easy to use tool that serves as a substitute for the "ancient and obsolete" desktop calculator. Variable assignment and reference inside expressions are simplified via an interactive table, and Calcline supports high precision calculations using long double values. The latest release features smart pasting, new math functions, a result copy button, a fast decimal precision popup, and the ability to update via the network. Calcline 1.2 is priced at $20, and requires Mac OS X 10.4 or later.
iRiver's Clix 2 is set to receive its first storage upgrade since launch, the company revealed through news sent to an enthusiast site for the media player. The music, photo, and video player should see an upgrade to 8GB of flash memory; much as with the 4GB original Clix, the storage change will also mark a cosmetic change with a red stripe signaling the change. The dimensions (including weight) will stay the same, iRiver says.
The Samsung BlackJack should be one of the next smartphones to receive an upgrade to Windows Mobile 6, based on an upcoming German firmware update. The i600 Ultra Messaging, as the device is known outside of the US, is set to receive an official Samsung update to the new OS that should give the device the improved browsing and 'push' data of the software. Whether or not the update would WM6 Standard or the more advanced Professional edition was unclear.
Equinux has released VPN Tracker 4.9.2, broadening the software's firewall support. VPN Tracker 4.9.2 introduces support for the DFL-200 firewall from D-Link, as well as SonicWALLs TotalSecure appliances TZ 180, TV180, TZ180 Wireless, TZ190 and TZ 190 Wireless. For German customers equinux now includes a device profile for the popular router FRITZ!Box Fon WLAN 7170 from AVM. The update is available for free to all existing VPN Tracker 4.x customers, with licenses of VPN Tracker 4.x available from $90 for the Personal Edition and from $200 for the Professional Edition.
A new chip from Fujitsu may soon make HD cheaper and more compact. Called the MB86H51, it is unique for being the only LSI (large-scaled integrated) chip to both encode and decode H.264 video; typically, these tasks would be divided between two chips. The H51 also has onboard memory, and is capable of resolutions as high as 1080i or 720p. It is mainly expected to be used in recording products such as camcorders, DVR units and unspecified "home network devices." Professional uses will involve security cameras and TV broadcasting. Production should begin in July, with each chip costing 30,000 yen ($248).
The Pixel Farm has released an update to its PFHoe/Pro tools for importing and working with 3D camera data, bringing support for Apple's Motion 3.0 softare. Used for tracking shots, PFHoe/Pro offers a series of wizards for importing, setting up footage, and extracting 3D camera information. PFHoe and PFHoePro are available as Universal Binaries from the company website, with prices ranging from $100 to $200. "PFHoe is delivering on something we always wanted to do - providing those who can’t afford our professional systems with a great set of tools to either learn about camera tracking or produce their own projects," said Richard Spöhrer, Managing Director of The Pixel Farm.
MACSOS has released "Risky Business SOS" 2007.051, a significant update to the hazard assessment and safe operating procedure aggregation tool. "Every organization has a legal obligation to the community and their employees to identify, assess, control and document the hazards, substances and procedures at their workplace. This software application is designed to aid compliance with these regulations." The tool allows companies to organize policies, procedures, substances, hazards, incidents, risk assessments and more. The software is priced at $1,500.
Miracube today put a new spin on a familiar concept with its G320S. Meant for games and movies, the 32-inch widescreen can use stereoscopic glasses to add depth to any content that includes the extra code. Its resolution is the 1366x768 common to many 720p-native TV sets but dips in sharpness only slightly compared to many 3D screens, shrinking the image to 1366x384 when the extra axis is factored in and will maintain its full 16.7 million colors. Officially intended for computers, the G320S has both DVI and VGA support but can accept HD resolutions up to 1080i from movie players and consoles with the correct outputs.
In a bid to regain some lost ground to chip making industry-leaders Intel and AMD, IBM has announced that its dual-core POWER6 microprocessor -- due to ship next month -- will top out at 4.7GHz, but draws about the same amount of power as the company's previous generation processors. The new processors, designed for high-end servers, push IBM to the forefront of performance computing: while others have focused on multiple cores, IBM is offering megahertz performance in a dual-core chip. According to the company, the new processor boasts bandwidth of 300GB per second, offering the ability to "download the entire iTunes catalog in about 60 seconds – 30 times faster than HP’s Itanium."
Major record label EMI announced today that it had been taken over by Terra Firma, a private equity group. The $4.7 billion deal would see the group receive official control but would leave the music publisher essentially intact, rather than splitting off some of its business as had been suspected by some experts. Terra Firma had reportedly won an intense bidding war as its deal posed the least risk. EMI is said to have welcomed a potential buyout after struggling with falling sales, which cut its most recent profit by 60 percent.
Glue Tools has released v2.5.1 of its Cineon and DPX QuickTime Components, an update to the company's plugins for film professionals that adds support for multiple processors. Keeping slower systems in mind, the company has also added support for "scrubbing" on older Macs. In addition, the update offers a new "Anamorphic Scaling" feature, now available in un-squeeze frames that were shot in aspect ratios, such as 2.35: "The feature can allow Final Cut Pro Artists to import ranges of DPX frames, and adjust them to aspect ratios including 1.33, 1.778, 1.85, 2.35, and 2.37. The original image is left untouched, and all the data is preserved," the company said in its release. Other new features include improved Final Cut Pro Tools and a new Final Cut Pro Demo mode as well as performance boosts for 3D-LUT conversions, Log-Lin conversions and Alpha Channel support.
Mio on Monday announced that it had started shipping the C520, its previously-announced mid-range GPS unit. The receiver first seen during CES in January brings a 4.3-inch wide touchscreen that helps view maps without affecting control, and a Bluetooth transmitter for hands-free cellphone calls. It also claims an advanced voice guidance system that Mio says produces more natural-sounding directions than other companies have offered in the past. A simplified media player is also part of the design.
Advanced Link Manager 3.5 ($60) improves the tool designed to help manage incoming website links. The latest release adds a keyword analysis report, a printable referrers information report, and the ability to use the Java look and feel. The update also enables users to select the extension as well as the separator for use in CSV reports. [Download - 14.1MB] Emailchemy 1.9 ($30) is a utility that reads email from the closed, proprietary file formats of most popular email clients and converts them to a standard and portable format that any application can use. Emailchemy 1.9 adds a converter for Outlook for Windows, as well as detailed conversion trace in the Forensic Edition. [Download - 514KB] Power Manager 3.6.2 ($30) includes bug fixes for the uninstaller portion of the utility designed to save energy by automating Mac systems. Users can configure the software to start up or wake, sleep, switch to the login window, log out, shut down, or restart at specific specific times. Power Manager also includes Automator Actions to ease the process of accessing and manipulating the active schedule. [Download - 2.7MB] xSort 1.5.2 ($30) enables users to model and construct a card sorting exercise in a graphical view that simulates a table with physical cards. The software supports dragging cards around on the table, and the update fixes some bugs in the exercise table view. xSort 1.5.2 also displays session durations in the sessions tab. [Download - 6.1MB] FxFactory 1.0.5 ($400 for Pro) is a free update to the visual effects package, adding compatibility with Apple's Final Cut Studio 2 software and offering 18 new plug-ins alongside various major improvements. FxFactory works with a numerous user-created plug-ins, and an initial purchase includes the Motion Pack (40 plug-ins) as well as the Editing Pack (40 additional plug-ins). [Download - 56.7MB] Style Flocker 1.0.1 (free) manages character, paragraph, and object styles within Adobe's InDesign software. Users can group and apply all styles within a single palette, and can see the currently applied style or styles within a document. Style Flocker negates the need to visit three different palettes to apply and view styles, offering users improved control over document creation. [Download - 545KB]
Taiwanese electronics giant ASUS has revealed a new smartphone, the M530w. Aimed at business users, one of the device's main selling points is support for four different e-mail servers, including POP3, IMAP4, BlackBerry 4.0 and Microsoft Exchange. The phone is further able to receive push mail through Outlook, and uses a PC-like QWERTY keypad to making typing easier. UMTS allows roaming 3G abilities including video calls, while 802.11b/g Wi-Fi provides a local alternative. The still camera, notably, is a two-megapixel autofocus model with a macro function, which should offer an edge when scanning business cards. Bluetooth 2.0 enables high-speed device sync.
World cell carrier Vodafone today revealed a pair of phones targeted expressly at developing countries, where the costs of typical cellphones exclude much of the local population. Similar to the Nokia 1200 series, the Vodafone 125 and 225 (pictured) are made by China's ZTE to cover areas on the very fringes of service without adding a serious financial burden. While exact details of the phones remain unknown, the 125 is an extra-simple model with a monochrome screen; the 225 has the same core feature set with a color LCD for easier navigation of its icon-based interface.
Aspyr Media today announced that it will publish id Software's Enemy Territory: Quake Wars for the Mac later this year. The much anticipated title is licensed by Activision and is being developed by its in-house Aspyr Studios game development team. Built using id Software's MegaTexture rendering technology, Enemy Territory: Quake Wars features strategic team play, persistent character promotions, and powerful weapons and vehicles in heroic objective-based battles as the Global Defense Force faces off against the alien Strogg invasion.
NextComputing today unveiled a unique performance upgrad to its NextDimension Evo and Pro PCs. Dubbed "flextops" for building a desktop's performance into a briefcase-sized system, the PCs are some of the first semi-portables to include quad-core Xeons: the use of Intel's newer low-power CPUs cuts power to less than 50W for the whole chip compared to 80W for the normal version, letting it run coolly and with a smaller power supply. Two quad-core chips can fit into one computer for situations that require eight cores, the company says. Each system also uses Seagate's recent 160GB, 7200RPM drive for desktop loading times; Evo models can store as many as 12 of the drives for especially demanding tasks.
Western Digital has begun shipping an upgrade to one of its laptop hard drives, the 2.5-inch Scorpio. Though it is available in other capacities ranging from 40 to 160GB, the new flagship model is 250GB, putting it in direct competition with Samsung's Spinpoint M5. Like the M5, the Scorpio is rated at 5,400rpm, and has a 1.5Gbps SATA interface; Western believes it has an edge with its "WhisperDrive" technology, which uses special seek algorithms to keep noise down, and reduce power consumption by up to 60 percent. It should be priced at about $227. [via Pocket-lint]
Following its introduction earlier this month, the ASUS G1S is receiving its first definitive model, thanks to a new preorder site from ExcaliberPC. The G1S-A1 will be one of ASUS' fastest versions with a higher-end 2.2GHz Core 2 Duo, 2GB of RAM, and 160GB of hard disk storage. All the standard features of the 15.4-inch portable will also help its gaming role, including a 256MB GeForce 8600M GT, 802.11n wireless, and HDMI output for those who link the system to an HDTV.
The major American group Alltel has become the latest cellphone carrier to be absorbed through merger. The company has specifically been bought by two private equity firms, TPG Capital and GS Capital Partners, who are buying all of Alltel's outstanding stock at a price of $71.50 per share -- 23 percent more than the stock was worth on December 29th, and part of a total acquisition plan valued at $27.5 billion. While the deal must still be approved by Alltel's other shareholders, the Board of Directors has already voted for it unanimously, and it is unlikely to be seriously opposed. As currently laid out the merger will take effect by the first quarter of 2008, and current CEO Scott Ford will keep his position.
Epson today unveiled Imaging WorkShop, a new workflow application designed for use with high-end printers that will compete with Apple's Aperture post production photography software. "Imaging WorkShop is a software package designed to greatly enhance the efficiency of the printing workflow of advanced amateur and professional photographers, who handle a tremendous volume of photographs as a result of the growing use of digital single-lens reflex (DSLR) cameras." Imaging WorkShop is scheduled for release at the end of this month, requiring Mac OS X 10.4.3 or later. The software is priced at $200 until July 31st of this year, after which pricing will rise.
The Korean home division of LG is releasing two new phones, both under the 300 series. The SC330 (pictured) is a slider design, and has features such as MP3 playback and a 1.3-megapixel camera. It also comes loaded with an electronic dictionary, and can be used for banking where such services are supported. The phone should already be on the market. Coming on May 25th is the SV300, also known as the Wine. The device is a clamshell model, and has MP3 playback, a 2.2-inch screen and a camera with an unknown megapixel rating. The phone further appears to be thinner than the SC330, even when closed, and has larger buttons for easier dialing. Its price is expected to be 300,000 won ($321). Click below for more images. [via Akihabara News]
Blackmagic Design has released a new software update for its DeckLink and Multibridge series capture and playback video cards that adds support for the new features in Apple Final Cut Studio 2. The latest revision adds support for ProRes 422, open format timelines, new easy setup management, and video output from Color. ProRes 422 support allows real time capture directly into a compressed video format for a sizable reduction in disk space requirements, and all Blackmagic Design cards use an uncompressed video link to the Final Cut Studio real time effects renderer that negates the need for FireWire recompression. The update also supports the new Open Format Timeline technology that allows users to play various video format files in the editing timeline. The software is available for free.
Dell is indeed working on a tablet version of its Latitude business notebooks, according to an official video from the company's feedback blog. The still unnamed PC will be a true convertible tablet that can switch from a typical notebook display to a vertical tablet useful for drawing and taking notes. Windows Vista Business is certain to be included for the necessary tablet support unavailable in Vista Home Basic. The shown system is small and is likely to be a revamped edition of the 12-inch D420, which may gain Intel's Santa Rosa architecture as part of the change.
The iPhone is instrumental to the change from Cingular branding to AT&T, according to the US cell provider. In announcing a switch on Monday to the new company name for the logos within all of its 1,800 stores, company spokesman Michael Coe was adamant that the Apple device be associated with AT&T and not Cingular, as the expected popularity would be essential to generating goodwill for the company's future rather than its past.
Typically known as a straight-forward, often business-oriented computer maker, Toshiba has taken the unusual turn of starting LapJacks, a service that creates custom skins for laptop lids. The skins are made of removable vinyl, and can be ordered to fit any size of laptop, regardless of whether or not the computer is made by Toshiba. Buyers can upload a custom picture or pick from a variety of stock images, under categories such as Abstract, Photography, Sports or Machinery. Toshiba is particularly targeting LapJacks at schools and businesses, who can opt for permanent glue to ensure that a system remains branded property. The skins are currently available only in the UK; a stock image costs £15 ($30), while a custom one is £30 ($59).
The often-rumored watermelon Zune is real, according to a pair of photos snapped at a recent press event by photographer and designer Mark Hunter. Much like the pink model, the watermelon version has silver trim and a clear double-shot plastic casing. No changes in features have been referenced in the leak, pointing to the player as another special edition that will mark the end of the 30GB original player before new models appear in the fall.
Continuing its announcements today, Sony's Korean division made the surprise announcement of an 80GB PlayStation 3 console. Previously confirmed in a production leak, the console tops the 60GB limit in other countries and offers a third more space for downloads of games and movies from the PlayStation online store as well as extra room for the user's own media collection. Features are otherwise unchanged from the previous high-end PS3 with a multi-format card reader and 802.11g Wi-Fi.
nClass Software today released Corripio 0.7, the latest revision of its open source iTunes music library companion program. The software fetches artwork for iTunes tracks, offers Growl support, enables users to fix tags by filling in missing or corrected information, and allows users to edit song lyrics. The latest release of Corripio supports plug-ins for creating and using custom scripts. The application is designed to locate songs quickly, and works with multiple file types via a simple user interface. Corripio 0.7 is available for free, and requires Mac OS X 10.4 or later.
Panasonic on Monday morning upgraded its Lumix compact cameras with a single model, the FX100. Like the Casio Z1200 also revealed today, the FX100 features a 12-megapixel sensor for extremely sharp images, and includes similar image stabilization as well as automatic ISO compensation for dark or fast scenes. Unique to the Panasonic model, however, is full HD video recording: owners with enough SD or SDHC storage can capture video up to 1920x1080 (1080p) or at the more common 1280x720 (720p) by cutting the recording speed to 15 frames per second. This helps show captured footage at an HDTV's native display, says Panasonic.
Blizzard Entertainment has unveiled StarCraft II, the sequel to its award-winning real-time strategy game StarCraft, at the 2007 Blizzard Worldwide Invitational event in Seoul, South Korea. Blizzard said it is developing StarCraft II for simultaneous release on the Windows and Mac platforms. The announcement took place inside the Olympic Gymnastics Arena, where the company demonstrated StarCraft II cinematic trailer along with gameplay in front of thousands of attendees. StarCraft II will feature the return of the Protoss, Terran, and Zerg races, overhauled and re-imagined with Blizzard's signature approach to game balance. Each race will be further distinguished from the others, with several new units and new gameplay mechanics, as well as new abilities for some of the classic StarCraft units that will be making a reappearance in the game.
Sony has just grown its Walkman line to include two new video players. Unlike the A800 Video Walkman, which adds video as a bonus, the 2.4-inch U50 (pictured) and 4.3-inch M70 each focus on video with H.264 and MPEG-4 playback on a larger screen. Audio includes AAC, MP3, and unprotected WMA. Both systems also share an FM tuner for when the onboard flash memory runs out and can record audio directly instead of through its microphone.
Casio today launched a new range-topping model for its Exilim Zoom series. As suggested by its name, the Exilim Z1200 is the company's sharpest compact camera with a new 12.1-megapixel sensor that captures up to 4000x3000 images with a 3X optical zoom lens. The same sensor also includes an auto-ISO Best Shot mode that can raise sensitivity for fast-moving subjects. The compact camera also comes with sensor-shift image stabilization to correct shaking and face detection to help create portraits.
Samsung this week will display its new e-paper concept prototypes along with its display products at the 45th annual Society for Display (SID) 2007 exhibition in Long Beach, California (May 22-24). The company is exhibiting its 40-inch LCD TV with LED backlight, which offers a contrast ratio of 10,000:1--almost five times higher than that of LCD panels with a CCFL backlight, the company claims. In addition, it says that color saturation is also 105 percent of the NTSC standard. The company is also exhibiting the world’s largest (A4-sized, 14.3-inch diagonal) color “electronic paper”, a plastic, flexible display that it claims can deliver undistorted color images even when the surface is bent. The e-paper device also continues to show a static image after power has been shut off. For the “concept” model, the company used 130-degree celsius low-temperature amorphous (non-crystalline) silicon processing to prevent distortion of the plastic substrate.
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Sonos now works with Apple Music
Wireless music system manufacturer Sonos has announced that its systems worldwide will gain compatibility for streaming the paid Apple Music subscription service starting today, February 10. "Music fans worldwide will have access to Apple Music features like For You, New, Radio, and My Music, and will also be able to stream the entire Apple Music catalog through Sonos smart speakers tuned for great sound in every room of their homes," the company said in an email to journalists. Apple Music's streaming service costs $10 per month, with a free three-month trial. http://bit.ly/1Wdi2Ko
Apple want ads hint at future Watch faces
An Apple job listing for a dedicated clock face team may suggest future fashion-brand partnerships, possibly in time for the updated watchOS updates that are likely to be revealed at this spring's Worldwide Developer Conference. Since the introduction of watchOS 2, there has only been four new watch faces, but three of them were left over from the first release, with only one truly new one -- the co-branded HermÃ©s face exclusive to that edition. There is a rumored March 15 event, but if that takes place it will likely focus on new band options as regards the Apple Watch. http://apple.co/1O1TbTI
Microsoft may end Office Support Professional prog
Microsoft appears to be either ending or seriously revamping its "Accredited Support Professional Program" for training on Microsoft Office for Mac and iOS it has offered at MacTech conferences since 2013. The program is not on offer at the upcoming MacTech tour, which begins on March 16 in San Francisco and includes a number of other cities. Microsoft has released a statement that it is "evaluating options for 2016, but don't have anything to share at this time." http://bit.ly/1KDz3MQ
Office for Mac v15.18 released
Microsoft has issued an update for the Mac version of its productivity suite, Office 2016. The v15.18 update offers improvements for all of the included apps, such as bringing full screen support to Outlook and allowing Word to save PDF files to flash drives. In addition, a new selection pane has been added to PowerPoint and Excel for keeping track of objects, and shapes can now be added to OneNote notebook pages. The update is free for all users, but requires a Mac running OS X 10.10 or later and a valid Microsoft Office 365 subscription. http://bit.ly/1Q7pAzW
Apple to open new south Florida mall store
According to real estate trade papers in south Florida, Apple has signed a lease for a new retail space in Miami, at the forthcoming Brickell City Centre (yes, the UK spelling is used) open-air mall, which is set to open later this year. The center will feature a five-story shopping area, condominiums, a hotel and office buildings, along with a "climate ribbon" in the shopping area to keep visitors cool, eschewing traditional air conditioning. The exact location of the Apple Store within the plan is not yet clear, but the destination already boasts 75 confirmed stores. http://bit.ly/1Q7n7Wd
Filemaker provides free custom app guide
FileMaker announced today the release of the first in a three-part series of free how-to guides that will lead teams through the process of building a custom app using the FileMaker Platform. FileMaker's new how-to guides provide a step-by-step process that starts with a planning cycle covering goals, requirements, functionality and usability, and run all the way through identifying user scenarios, defining requirements, addressing integration, providing security, and deployment of the final product. http://bit.ly/1o08wQh
OCZ Trion 150 SSD shifts to 15nm TLC NAND
SSD manufacturer OCZ has updated its entry-level 2.5-inch Trion 100 SSD. The new Trion 150 has similar performance to the now replaced model, and now utilizes 15nm TLC NAND. Sequential read speeds top out at 550MB/S, with 4KB random write speeds running from 25K IOPS in the 120GB model, to 64K IOPS in the 960GB version of the drive. Endurance is limited to 30TB in the 120GB, and peaks at 240TB in the 960GB version. Retail prices vary between $46 for 120GB, to $270 for the 960GB version. http://bit.ly/1nVmlyL