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StarCraft II details
During its BlizzCon conference at the Anaheim convention center, Blizzard announced new details regarding the forthcoming StarCraft II. Specifically, the company has provided new Terran unit and building information. Detailed profiles on the Marine, Reaper, Ghost, Viking, and Command Center have been posted to the Starcraft 2 Web site. Blizzard says "In the aftermath of the Brood War, the resourcefulness, ingenuity, resilience, and sheer grit of the Terrans shows in their new designs and adjustments to existing designs as they adapt to and counter their enemies' strengths and weaknesses." Each site profile includes background information, screenshots, video, and concept art.
.Mac announcement tomorrow
There is strong evidence that Apple will be introducing enhancements to its .Mac service tomorrow during a special media event where newly revised Macs are also expected. A posting to the .Mac home page reads "Due to scheduled maintenance, .Mac members might be intermittently unable to access some .Mac services from 10 AM to 12 PM PDT on 08/07/2007. We apologize for any inconvenience." The service has endured dogged criticism for years, with many users complaining that it offers an experience and value proposition far substandard relative to other Apple offerings.
The Designer's Apprentice
In brief: Fake Steve Jobs revealed, The Designer's Apprentice makes its debut, a wave of Apple-authorized resellers are opening in China, David Pogue's iPhone "Missing Manual" ships, and an Image Moments rebate is in effect ... Fake Steve Jobs has been outed. The author of "The Secret Diary of Steve Jobs" is Daniel Lyons, a senior editor at Forbes magazine. Brad Stone of The New York Times made the positive identification, immediately after which Lyons posted an entry Sunday titled "Damn, I am so busted, yo" that acknowledged his identity had been revealed. Computerworld reports that many regular readers of the blog were disappointed by the revelation. "You just ruined my life. Thanks," quipped one. The blog will now move to a column hosted by Forbes.
Autodesk debuts Maya 2008
Autodesk on Monday unveiled Maya 2008, the latest revision of its modeling, animation, visual effects, and rendering software. Maya 2008 focuses on providing improved workflow efficiency for artists in the film, TV, game development, design, and manufacturing industries. Highlights of Maya 2008 include increased polygon modeling efficiency, overall performance improvements, tools for creating better looking games, and increased flexibility for character setup as well as animation. Autodesk hopes to ship the English version of Maya 2008 in September for Mac OS X, Linux, and Windows systems. Maya 2008 Complete is priced at $2,000, while Maya 2008 Unlimited is will cost $7,000. Upgrade pricing from Maya 8.5 Complete to Maya 2008 Complete is $900, and the upgrade price from Maya 8.5 Unlimited to Maya 2008 Unlimited is $1,250. [updated]
HTC interface spreads
The TouchFLO interface for the HTC Touch, whose control has been likened to that of the iPhone, may be migrating to other HTC products in the near future. The most prominent of these is the TyTN II (below), believed to be the Kaiser, which is now also described as having Windows Mobile 6, 128MB of RAM and 256MB of ROM. It should also have a 360-degree jog dial, and 3G wireless radio. This is on top of previously-known features such as GPS and a three-megapixel camera.
SpamSieve 2.6.3 ($30) spam filtering tool for Mac OS X mail clients. The new release made various accuracy improvements, particularly for messages with attachments. It also has improved compatibility with pre-release versions of Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard and fixes a bug where the "Software Update" checker didn't always re-check for new updates. [Download - 3.9MB]
Project Calculator 2.1 ($15) time tracking software. The new release has a mini window that shows only active timers and can be placed anywhere on the screen. It also adds support for the Apple Remote, better controls for timer entries (pause / resume / stop) and projects (new timer / pause all / resume all), and a new flat fee entry type. This type has no duration, just a date, description and an amount of money. There are also several bug fixes and other minor enhancements. [Download - 3.6MB]
goSecure 1.1 ($20) encrypts sensitive information, so nobody else can access it without a password. Uses industry-standard 128-bit AES encryption to keep your files from prying eyes, and also includes secure deletion functionality. The new release has an option to allow secure deletion of original files using 7-pass or 35-pass write-over, and the drop window is now user-resizable.[Download - 2.9MB]
X2 Print Accounting logSheet 2.1 ($90) client-based print accounting and document analysis solution for any office, legal practice, creative studio, or architectural firm. This version adds a new summary feature that makes invoicing faster and easier. There has also been a complete GUI overhaul and many other new feature additions. [Download - 904KB]
LazyMouse 2.0 ($10) preference pane that moves the cursor to the default button whenever a dialog box appears on the screen. In other words, it will save the user time moving the mouse to dismiss dialogs. The new release snaps the mouse back to its old position after the default button has been clicked, thus allowing the distraction to be minimal. Also, you can now choose to automatically snap to the alternate button (usually "Cancel" or "No") instead of the default button. [Download - 983KB]
Sharp Sues Samsung Over TV
Sharp today filed a lawsuit against Samsung in the US, accusing the Korean TV maker of violating five patents relating to its LCD sets. The suit alleges that Samsung has been using similar technology relating to most of the core components, including processing techniques that improve contrast and image quality as well as the visibility of the LCD panel. The suit is the result of failed negotiations between the two companies to establish a licensing deal for the patents, Sharp claims. Samsung has yet to comment on the accusations.
Microsoft, Nokia PlayReady
Microsoft and Nokia have announced a collboration on new software, used to transfer media from mobile phones to computers and media players, according to the news agency Newsfactor. Called "PlayReady," the software will come into release next year, when it will be pre-installed on Nokia phones running the S40 and S60 platforms. The traditional problem with songs and videos purchased on cellphones is that they are often limited to those devices, in spite of their cost and the roaming nature of their desktop companions. PlayReady should make it possible to finally copy the content elsewhere, a move that may help phone carriers by increasing the perceived value of download services.
VMware Fusion debuts
VMware on Monday shipped the final release version of its virtualization environment for Mac OS X, Fusion -- as noted last Thursday. MacNN sat in on a conference call with Pat Lee, product manager of VMware Fusion, who gave us a guided tour of the release's functionality, and a comparison to the current leader (in terms of market share) in Intel-based Mac virtualization, Parallels Desktop. Lee started off by mentioning that VMware (which is a wholly-owned subsidiary of EMC Corporation) invented x86 virtualization about 9 years ago, and gave a brief history of the virtualization movement, dating back to usage on mainframes in the 1960's. He then launched into a discussion of VMware Fusion has a Mac-specific product. "VMware Fusion was built from the ground up for the Mac. It's built as a Cocoa application," Lee said.
RCA's former parent company Thomson has unveiled the A1. One of the most compact players yet, according to the company, the A1 is just slightly larger than its 3-inch widescreen LCD and pushes all the controls to the edges. The relatively spacious screen adds to the effect of watching AVI clips at up to a film-grade 24 frames per second and provides extra room for navigating MP3, WAV, or WMA songs. Thomson finds additional room for an FM tuner and recorder.
NaturalPoint today planned to democratize motion capture through ARENA, a hardware and software pack for budget editors. Where most systems need a dedicated environment and a crew, the new method requires just the six cameras, the bundled calibration tools, and a motion capture suit. The software itself is well-suited to amateur game developers and hobbyists as it doesn't require a second person to monitor the system while the actor performs in front of the cameras, NaturalPoint adds.
Public demands DRM-free
A majority of the public strongly rejects DRM measures in its music, a new survey indicates. In a poll of 1,700 music buyers across the United Kingdom, Entertainment Media Research and the media lawfirm Olswang concluded that an overwhelming 68 percent would prefer to buy DRM-free music whenever possible. Furthermore, 39 percent would agree to pay extra for this right -- as on Apple's iTunes Plus -- while 18 percent would tolerate DRM, but only if it meant saving money. The remaining percentage is said to either be unfamiliar with DRM, or have no opinion on the matter.
Turbo.264 gets new feature
Elgato has released a software update adding a number of new features to the Elgato Turbo.264, a hardware video encoding accelerator in USB stick format. The new software edition adds iPhone export presets, allows user-customizable settings for video conversion, and enables manual selection of soundtracks from DVDs. It also adds improved widescreen detection, performance improvements, and a number of bug fixes. The Turbo.264 1.1 application now has two iPhone presets that follow Apple's recommendations; 4:3 source material produces 480x360 pixel video, 16:9 source is encoded as 480 x 270 pixels. Also users can now set, save, and name their own presets. You can set video parameters such as size, aspect ratio, frame rate and bit rate, as well as audio encoding parameters, and save those settings for future exports.
Recently revived PC brand Commodore today published details about its new C200 portable media player. Smaller than the Gravel in Pocket, the new device still keeps Wi-Fi for direct downloads, Internet TV, and social networking elements. Foreign movies additionally display on-cue subtitles in SRT or SUB format if the movie supports them; video playback is also unusually broad with DivX, MPEG-2, and XviD joining the more familiar MPEG-4 and WMV. The OLED helps extend movie playback to two hours in spite of the small size.
Booting Macs over the LAN
Small Tree Communications today announced that it has completed work on new firmware for its single port optical gigabit adapters that will allow Power Mac owners to boot from a network drive, rather than a local disk. The company's network cards allow users to NetBoot Apple systems that use Open Firmware Standard -- all of Apple's PowerPC systems -- over the network. The NetBoot capability in Mac OS X's server permits multiple Mac systems to boot from a single server-based disk image, which in turn enables users to create a standard configuration and use it on all of the desktop systems in a department or classroom, or host multiple images customized for different workgroups.
Outrageous today revealed the i-Sing, its own spin on portable media players. The handheld focuses on karaoke over pure listening by displaying lyrics in time with the music and optionally stripping the vocals; with a built-in microphone, the user can dub in their own singing and either pump out the resulting mix through a built-in speaker or upload the resulting track to their computer if the results are worthwhile. Users less interested in creating new mixes can listen passively to MP3 or WMA songs for up to 10 hours on one charge.
Canon imageCLASS MF4270
Canon this afternoon launched the imageCLASS MF4270, a multifunction laser printer it hopes will blur the lines between home printers and bulky office units. The new system is one of the smallest yet that can print in duplex and saves half the paper while still fitting on a desk in a home office. It also boasts 100Mbps Ethernet to share its printing across a smaller network. The most recent laser printing technology also ensures quick output of 21 pages per minute at a native 1200x600 DPI, according to Canon.
Kingston Mobility Kit
Kingston today catered to the steadily growing ranks of music phones listeners through a new Mobility Kit. While many phones and some portable media players include a microSD card for storage but lack an easy way to sideload music, the kit packs both the storage itself, two adapter cards for mini and full-size SD slots, and a compact USB reader that connects the microSD card to any computer with a free port. The reader even includes its own keychain so users can carry the reader and its storage with them on a trip, Kingston says.
Wibrain B1 UMPC
The Korean company Wibrain is developing an unusual business UMPC, codenamed the B1. Rather than conform to standard tablet or laptop shapes, the B1 opts to go wide, splitting a QWERTY keyboard between either side of a 4.8-inch touchscreen. To refine control even further, the company has added a trackpad located on the right, with corresponding mouse buttons and a scrollwheel sitting on the left. Buyers will have to choose a VIA CPU running between 1 and 1.6GHz, with 512MB or 1GB of RAM; the B1 is otherwise a high performer however, having features such as 1024x600 resolution, Bluetooth 2.1, and a 0.3-megapixel webcam.
RAZR2 for Sprint Leak
Motorola's RAZR2 V9m will be available with Sprint as early as next month, according to a leaked sales sheet (PDF). The carrier will introduce the phone shortly after Verizon's August release and should have the same hardware features but will use the phone's EVDO Internet access for virtually all of Sprint's services: music store downloads and TV streaming will be certain, as will be tethering the phone to a computer to use it as a 3G modem.
Alienware m5550 QuickShip
Alienware today reversed its old habit of producing custom-order systems with the m5550 QuickShip, a version of its mainstream Area-51 notebook specially made for students and others who want their systems immediately. The special version ships within two days thanks to a fixed feature set that Alienware hopes will satisfy most any user: the system arrives with a 2GHz Core 2 Duo, 2GB of memory, and a 128MB Mobility Radeon X1400 fast enough to drive many 3D games as well as Vista Ultimate.
BBEdit 8.7 released
Bare Bones Software today released BBEdit 8.7 with built-in support for the Lua programming language. BBEdit 8.7 is a major update to the professional text editor that adds significant improvements to the File Groups and Disk Browser workflow features. The update utilizes Finder Smart Folders as sources for Text Factory and multi-file search operations, and re-opens documents upon re-launch that were open when the application last quit. Other notable revisions include a new Python language module that supports code folding, significant refinements to FTP/SFTP as well as Disk Browser windows, AppleScript improvements, and more. BBEdit 8.7 also includes fixes for reported issues and adds several minor improvements. The update is available for free to all registered BBEdit 8.5 and 8.6 customers, while the application is priced at $125 for new individual users. BBEdit 8.7 requires Mac OS X 10.4 or later.
Palm Gandolf is Treo 800?
An anonymous source has leaked further photos of the Palm "Gandolf," the rumored budget smartphone meant to compete with the likes of the Motorola Q. The phone's final name is said to be the Treo 800, not the 500, and it is described as having a much smaller shape that the existing 650, complete with a smaller keyboard that has soft, translucent keys.
The tested phone runs the Garnet OS as previously suggested, but notably, the source claims that the 800 does in fact have a touchscreen, rather than the basic LCD that was once ascribed. Also, if the new name is correct, there is a discrepancy between earlier Gandolf specifications and those for a rumored non-Gandolf 800, which has better camera, memory and operating system figures. [via PalmInfocenter]
SATA port multiplier ships
FirmTek today began shipping its SeriTek/2SE4 PCI-X adapter, a Serial ATA (SATA) controller card announced at the Macworld Expo in San Francisco earlier this year that provides connections for up to 20 hard drives. Each drive is capable of transferring at 3Gbps, making total aggregate speeds of more than 700MB/sec possible. FirmTek's established hot-swap compatibility eases the process of moving entire drives and arrays between any FirmTek-equipped systems or into secure storage. The SeriTek/2SE4 is compatible with both PCI-X and PCI bus architecture systems, offering optimal performance on PCI-X systems like Power Mac G5 desktops. FirmTek's SeriTek/2SE4 is available for $200, and requires Mac OS X 10.4 or later.
Samsung S105 at Disney
Disney Mobile today added two relatively high-end, stylized Samsung phones to its lineup. The S105 and S110 bring a VGA camera and Bluetooth headset support to the carrier's young audience while also adding a glossy black front with custom graphics. Each phone is loaded with parental controls that limit acceptable numbers and usable times but also uses GPS features to help keep tabs on the phone regardless of what features are switched on. Older children can use traditional cellphone extras, such as media messaging, a speakerphone, and SMS texting.
ShoveBox 1.0 released
Wonder Warp Software has released ShoveBox 1.0, an application for Mac OS X that helps users manage small scraps of information that have no real place. The "smart clutter-catcher" appears as an icon in the menu bar where users can drag text, images, URLs, and PDF documents. Dragged data is stored in a special "Inbox" folder or is automatically sorted by user-defined rules similar to an email client. A QuickJot feature serves as a simple hotkey-activated interface to ShoveBox, allowing users to send plain text to ShoveBox for processing without leaving the current application. The software also provides controls to organize, search, label, and export stored data. ShoveBox 1.0 is available for $25, and requires Mac OS X 10.4 or later.
InfoSoft has released a new companion version of FusionCharts, its charting program for FileMaker databases. FusionCharts Pro supports 44 chart types, from basic 2D and 3D line charts, through to radar, logarithmic and dual Y-axis models. Customization options include colors, fonts, trend lines and more. A particular addition to Pro is the FusionCharts Library, a group of scripts that renders charts in various FileMaker outputs. Use of FileCharts Pro requires both Adobe Flash Player and FileMaker Pro 8.5, but does not rely on Internet access or server installations to run. A single-seat license costs $55.
AMD FireGL Vx600 Cards
AMD this morning revamped its ATI-branded FireGL pro graphics cards with new models based on the technology first seen in the Radeon HD 2900. Every card shares the same unified shader model that can adapt to pixels or vertexes on the fly and provides full feature support for both DirectX 10 and more recent versions of OpenGL. A mid-range card is up to three times faster at 3D modeling as its previous generation V5200 equivalent, AMD contends. The top-range FireGL V8650 is also the first card in its class to ship with 2GB of video memory and is said to give artists and engineers the chance to produce more complex 3D models.
PC networks cater to Macs
Centrify is expanding its Microsoft Active Directory-based authentication and access control to more than 100 versions of UNIX and Linux, as well as Mac OS X. The latest release of Centrify DirectControl allows corporate network administrators to easily manage Mac OS X computers right alongside Windows systems in the same way without extra effort, and adds more than 25 new supported versions of UNIX and Linux. The update includes enhanced Group Policy-based Mac OS X desktop lockdown capabilities, and delivers the industry's first solution to leverage Group Policy to enable bulk configuration of distributed OpenSSH deployments, according to Centrify. Centrify DirectControl aims to turn a non-Microsoft server, workstation or device into an Active Directory client to secure that system using the same authentication, access control and Group Policy services available to Windows systems.
iPhone unlocked in Europe?
Members of a web forum claim to have finally achieved a "full" unlock for the iPhone, making it usable by European owners. Unlike a recent Australian hack, which only allows voice calls dialed from the iPhone's end, the new hack is said to allow all basic functions, including receiving calls, sending SMS messages and streaming data via EDGE. The notable exception is Visual Voicemail, which requires special support from the phone network.
New iPod audio system
Easyishop.co.uk has unveiled the BooM1 2.1-channel audio system (site not updated) designed for iPod owners. The combination speaker system and iPod dock offers two channels of stereo sound with a 25-watt "BooM Box" sub woofer. Boom1 is compatible with most dockable iPods, and charges any compatible iPod -- except iPod shuffle -- while the portable player remains plugged into the dock. An IR remote control works with most iPod models as well, and the Boom1 features a 3.5mm stereo audio jack to connect with other music players and audio devices. The Boom1 dock boasts a speaker output of 8-watts per channel, while the entire system produces frequency response from 50Hz to 20KHz at -3dB. The Boom1 2.1-channel audio system is already shipping for $270 exclusively from Easyishop.co.uk's online store, according to the company.
16GB Flash iPod Claim
Apple is in the last stages of preparing a flash-based video iPod, claim sources in Taiwan's semiconductor business. The new model will reportedly draw on 16GB of flash memory and should be ready by late September, according to the sources. No mention was made of whether this model would directly replace today's hard disk-based models, which offer as much as 80GB of storage, or whether it would supplant the already flash-driven iPod nano. The introduction would take place roughly at the same time as the Apple Expo event in September.
Lenovo ThinkPad Linux
Lenovo today became only the second major computer builder in the US after Dell to introduce systems with preloaded Linux, adding the free and open-source OS as an option for its ThinkPads. Systems will optionally have the choice of Novell's SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop 10; the addition not only gives users a viable alternative to Windows but includes OpenOffice for producing Office-compatible work without having to pay for a separate office suite. Unlike Dell, however, Lenovo will provide full support for Linux as well as the underlying hardware. Novell is only involved in providing software updates, Lenovo says.
iPhoneBrowser for Windows
An independent coder has developed iPhoneBrowser, a beta Windows-based utility for interacting with files on the iPhone. Using a simple graphical interface, users can drag-and-drop multiple files to and from the device, whether for backup or customization. Though users cannot create or copy folders, the program offers other important features, such as the ability to select and replace a file with another which is automatically renamed. Similarly, if users decide to delete a file from an iPhone, a backup is created before the deletion goes through.
Garmin nuvi 260
Garmin on Monday morning introduced the nuvi 260, a new improvement on its popular earlier nuvi 250 that adds voice ID for street names. Instead of calling out the distance to the next turn or stop, the GPS unit can intelligently add the actual street to the directions. This helps drivers focus on looking ahead to the next turn instead of distracting themselves with double-checking the turn on the 3.5-inch touchscreen, according to Garmin.
Toshiba 3G HD DVD Players
On cue with expectations, Toshiba today unveiled the third iteration of its HD-A series HD DVD players. The new models (not yet pictured) are all sleeker than past models and are half as tall at 2.3 inches, fitting them more easily into home theater setups. Most models also have native 1080p, 24-frame playback for movies that haven't already been converted to a TV-native frame rate and have CEC support to control basic functions of a supporting HDTV through HDMI. Like earlier HD DVD players, each also keeps the Ethernet link for Internet-based movie features and upgrades.
id may develop for iPhone
During the QuakeCon conference in Dallas, Texas this past week, id Software co-founder and technical director John Carmack expressed interest in the iPhone, saying that he has assigned members of the id Software team to investigate creating software for the platform, and recalled an argument with Steve Jobs over the closed nature of the device's development options. According to a GamaSutra report, Carmack wants Apple to allow the iPhone to have an open development environment. "He described arguing with Steve Jobs about this, and Jobs explained to him that the closed environment was necessary to maintain 'security' for the platform. Carmack flatly said (to the audience) he didn't believe Jobs. Regardless of his differences with Jobs, Carmack thinks the iPhone is 'neat,' and has assigned some of his people to look into developing for it."
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