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Record companies win suit
In a major win for record companies seeking to establish precedent for prosecuting those who trade copyrighted material on the Internet, a federal jury awarded six firms $222,000 in damages from a Minnesota woman who shared music online. Jammie Thomas, 30, was ordered to pay $9,250 for each of 24 songs that were part of the case. The complaint alleged that she had shared 1,702 copyright-violating songs online. The Associated Press quotes Richard Gabriel, lead attorney for the music companies: "This does send a message, I hope, that downloading and distributing our recordings is not OK."
Adobe/Apple design seminar
In brief: The wireless Apple Bluetooth keyboard is shipping, REAL World registration has been opened, a GUITAR RIG 3 demo version is now available, the iPhone is featured in a new TV show, and the Boa.XM MacBook Pro case has debuted ... We have posted a review of the "War Chiefs" expansion pack for Age of Empires III. The pack allows play as one of three new civilizations - Aztec, Iroquois, or Sioux. While Age of Empires places the focus on a European home city and settlement, The War Chiefs moves the perspective of the game to native civilizations as a way of mixing things up a bit. The Aztec civilization is based upon a strong infantry; Iroquois strong artillery and siege weaponry; and Sioux a very strong cavalry.
Leopard may ship Oct. 26th
Apple may be gearing up to release Mac OS X 10.5 (Leopard) on October 26th according to information from sources at Apple Inc. AppleInsider reports that the announcements are likely to arrive any time between the 22nd and 27th of the month. Though the operating system has not yet achieved golden master status, recent builds have seen very short known issue lists. In fact, the latest build lists only one known issue, with Apple asking developers to test delivery of printer drivers through the Software Update mechanism. Apple has traditionally used the final Friday of the month to roll out major Mac OS X upgrades.
iMac freezing redux
Apple on Thursday responded indirectly to the iMac freezing report published yesterday by acknowledging the continued problems, which it said a "small number" of users are experiencing with the consumer desktop. Apple has also promised a fix as soon as possible, according to Macworld (the statement, however, was not provided to other outlets). A company spokesperson told the publication that "A small number of iMac users have made us aware that a recent software update issued by Apple can sometimes cause their iMacs to freeze, requiring them to restart their iMac." The company, howeer, provided no concrete timetable for a fix nor offered any workaround to users experiencing the problems.
Montage, Simple Help
Aperture to Picasa Web Albums 1.3 ($25) tool for uploading your images to Picasa Web Albums from Aperture. This release features a substantial increase in the performance of the export / upload component of the plug-in. The developer says "Users will see a substantial improvement in the export / upload portion of the plug-in, especially when exporting images with lots of tags." [Download - 4.1MB]
Jotter 1.4.1 ($13) simple and to the point note taking. No overcomplicated interfaces. No unnecessary features. Just jot down what you want to remember. The new release fixes an intermittent crash when updating the note title. [Download - 918KB]
Montage 1.3 ($140) tool to create, edit, and manage screenplays on a Macintosh. The new release adds the ability to export Montage scripts to Screenwriter (.sex), adds support for French, German, Italian and Spanish and has significant improvements in importing Final Draft import, speed enhancements, and several bug fixes [Download - form]
PandaWare Simple Help Editor 2.5 ($50) cross-platform help authoring application. This release emphasizes easier repurposing of content, allowing users to more easily leverage their work on different platforms and in different media. The new version can save HTML files with indexing information and other tags for display in Apple Help Viewer or in a Web browser. It can also prepare the files necessary for compilation into a CHM file to display the content in Windows' HTML. [Download - 8.1MB]
iBank 2.3.5 ($50) personal and small business financial manager made exclusively for Mac OS X. The new release has a host of new features and improvements. Most notably, the import speed of downloaded bank transactions has been greatly improved. Other highlights include improvements to the smart accounts feature, and the ability to manage money market accounts. In addition, several small bugs have been fixed. [Download - 8.5MB]
Password Repository 2.1 ($25) let users store and manage all their passwords in documents protected and encrypted. The new release adds a search Info display, a new 'Instant Lock' feature and a new Opening Sort by' feature. [Download - 337KB]
Casio camera bundle
On the heels of the Special Pink iPod Edition, Casio on Thursday announced that it will release a special-edition bundle featuring a pink EX-Z75 camera (shown at right in a different color), a case embossed with the pink ribbon, and a pink ribbon-clad lanyard to show its support of the National Breast Cancer Foundation. The 7.2-megapixel EX-Z75 is part of Casio's zoom line of EXILIM cameras, and features a 2.6-inch wide LCD display with Anti-Shake DSP for reducing photo blur and an eBay mode which takes photographs with the right size for selling items on the popular auction website. "We are proud to be a sponsor of the National Breast Cancer Foundation," said Bill Heuer, Vice President of Casio's Digital Imaging Division. "We hope that by purchasing the EX-Z75 in honor of breast cancer patients and survivors, users will capture every valuable moment with their friends and family." Casio's new special-edition camera will be available some time this month for $180.
Ableton Live 7 debuts
Ableton today debuted a range of new software scheduled for release before the end of the year that includes Ableton Live 7, several new add-on instruments, and Ableton Suite combining Live 7 with a selection of instruments in one discounted bundle. Ableton Live 7 features an enhanced audio engine for improved fidelity with 64-bit mix summing, POW-r dithering, optimized sample-rate conversion, and other advances. The update also includes a new compressor that integrates three compression models, one of which is based on a feedback design commonly found in most vintage compressors. Fully integrated side-chaining capability is available for the new compressor, according to Ableton, as well as for Gate and Auto Filter. Ableton Live 7 will be available as a free upgrade to Live 6 users who unlock the software between October 1st of 2007 and January 31st of 2008, with new licenses priced at $500 after that time. Ableton's new instruments be priced at $160 each.
Apple iTunes HD Leak
Apple intends to revitalize its flagging Apple TV hub by launching HD video downloads on iTunes, according to a rumor from a source which in the past accurately described the iPod touch in advance of its launch. A "selection" of the movies and TV shows available from the company's store would receive a significant step up in resolution from today's videos, which are currently limited to the maximum 640x480 size officially supported by the iPhone and all existing iPod models. Apple is stocking up on supplies of its media hubs in anticipation of increased demand spurred by the HD videos, says the purported insider.
Hitachi 100GB Blu-Ray disc
A new format promises to double the capacity of current Blu-Ray discs. Hitachi has announced the creation of a quad-layer, 100GB Blu-Ray disc, an advancement over the current 50GB dual-layer format, which is still rarely used for movies or computer backup. Companies such as TDK and Panasonic are said to have attempted 100GB discs in the past, but these versions required special optical heads; critically, the Hitachi discs can be read by any existing Blu-Ray drive, the only requirement being a firmware update.
FCC Holds on 700MHz Rules
FCC chairman Kevin Martin on Thursday backed away from what many believed was an attempt to soften the rules for the upcoming 700MHz wireless auction, according to claims from sources connected to the organization. Although the regulatory chief was feared to be relaxing open access conditions to appease Verizon after the latter's executives lobbied Martin's office in mid-September, Democrat-affiliated FCC commissioners Jonathan Adelstein and Michael Copps are said to have ensured that the rules remained as-is and would ensure that any company licensing one of the wireless bands would have to allow any compatible device and any software to run on its service.
M-Audio IE-40 earbuds
Audio equipper M-Audio is now shipping its IE-40s, a set of reference-level earbuds. Each bud is fitted with three different drivers, devoted to high-, mid- and low-end end frequencies, and reproduces a range between 20Hz and 16kHZ. Sound is further divided into separate acoustic canals, so that high- and low- end sounds do not intermix. The buds also come with four different sets of tips, providing a tight fit, and shapable ear loops to keep cables out of the way. A bundled attenuator caps the volume of loud sources, while the earbuds' main 46-inch cable can be replaced if damaged. The IE-40s are shipping today for $500 with a metal carrying case.
Audio Technica CK10
Audio Technica today provided a first look at its CK10 in-canal earbuds, an upgrade to the popular CK9. The new set both improves sound quality and fit at the same time thanks to miniaturization. Though each earbud has a dual armature that separates different sound ranges and improves the signal-to-noise ratio to 107dB, both have been reduced in size dramatically. The result is a casing even smaller than for the CK9 and an easier placement in most ears, the company says. A stainless steel shell both protects the buds against accidental crushes and gives the earbuds a refined look compared to the plastic of the CK9.
ViaMichelin X970T US-bound
Having first released it in Europe, ViaMichelin is now exporting its X970 GPS unit to the United States. The unit features a SiRFstar III receiver, and comes with a 2GB SD card loaded with NAVTEQ maps of the US and Canada. Users can import routes and addresses from the web, and choose between six different route types, including pedestrian, bicycle and toll-free methods. A built-in Bluetooth receiver supports hands-free calling, but those wanting traffic information will need an optional accessory and service. This is compensated for somewhat by a database with "millions" of points of interest, and special material from Michelin's Green Guide.
The 970 has a 3.5-inch touchscreen, and runs off a 400MHz processor and 64MB of RAM. No firm release date has been set, but J&R is taking pre-orders for $349. [via NaviGadget]
iPhone buffer exploit
A newly discovered iPhone exploit could help developers find another way to run third-party applications on Apple's device. Posters to the Hackintosh forums have discovered that Mobile Safari on both the Touch and the iPhone suffer from a one year old TIFF buffer overflow exploit that could lead to a jailbreak for the devices. Essentially, opening a carefully crafted TIFF image will crash Mobile Safari, causing a buffer overflow and allow for arbitrary code execution. A poster to the forums writes "This same exploit was used more than 1.5 years ago to crack the PSP firmware." This could theoretically lead to a new "jailbreak" process that would again allow third-party applications to be written to iPhones running the most recent firmware 1.1.1 release that disabled the functionality for all those who updated.
Sirius XM Merger Vote Soon
Sirius and XM today revealed that their shareholders will vote next month on the companies' proposed merger, helping both firms finalize the deal first begun in February. A newly published SEC filing lists November 13th as the date and confirms the companies' intent to close the deal by the end of 2007. While only XM is voting on the merger itself, both companies' shareholders are required to approve the transaction, which would leave a unified company as the only satellite radio provider in North America.
ES Inngenio 3500 HDP M-EX
While little known in North America, Spanish electronics maker Energy Sistem has launched the Inngenio 3500 HDP M-EX, a new flash-based media player. One of its key attributes is a 2.4-inch, QVGA LCD, providing a size and sharpness rarely found in middle-range players. The 3500 is also extensible; while it only contains 4GB of onboard memory, it features a slot for miniSD cards, a format more typically used in cellphones. This allows owners to expand their storage in increments up to 2GB, and share it between multiple devices.
Micronet 11N Wi-Fi gear
Micronet today unveiled its new 11N Wireless Networking series of Wi-Fi equipment. The company's SP916N WLAN Broadband Router enables numerous users to split internet access and prevent malicious attacks from users with ill intentions, while the SP906N Wireless LAN PCI Card and SP907N Wireless LAN USB Adapter provide a smiple way to add or upgrade notebook wireless connectivity. The Micronet SP916N boasts compatibility with IEEE 802.11b/g/Draft-N standards alongside throughput of up to 300Mbps while sharing a single cable of xDSL with four wired LAN ports supporting 10/100Mbps. The device includes DHCP functionality for easy IP address setup, and offers advanced network features like Special Applications and DMZ (Demilitarized Zone) alongside virtual servers and access control with firewall protection (pricing was unavailable).
O2 iPhone ad campaign
Apple's iPhone service provider in the UK, O2, is planning to embark on a multi-million British pound advertising campaign in conjunction with the Cupertino company later this month. Reuters reports that O2 UK Chief Executive Matthew Key is claiming it will be the "most significant campaign" in period leading up the crucial Holiday season. The CEO is also alleging that 80 percent of O2 UK's "high-value" customers wanted an iPhone, and a whopping 40 percent of the higher-spending customers on rival networks would be prepared to switch operators to get the handset. The report also speculates that O2 may be giving away 20 to 30 percent of voice and data revenues in return for the exclusive "multi-year" contract to sell iPhones. O2 iPhones will be tied to an 18-month contract with O2.
Google Counters Verizon
Google today publicly responded to Verizon's lawsuit over the open access terms of the FCC's wireless auction with criticism of its own, issuing a public statement in the company's policy blog. The search engine giant argued in its response that Verizon's resistance to the open access rules, which would let any device or software run on a service, was ultimately an attempt to limit the choices of end users. Verizon was illegally lobbying the FCC and threatening to stop the auction entirely because it was uncomfortable with an open business model where even its own devices could easily be switched to another carrier, according to Google's Washington media counsel, Richard Whitt.
EU pushes cheap data/text
The head of the European Commission's Telecommunications section, Viviane Reding, is strongly urging local cellular carriers into drop the prices on their data services and text messaging, says Agence France-Presse. The move follows the installation of price caps on roaming charges, which have been effective since July 30th. The Commission claims that since that date, charges have fallen as much as 60 percent, no longer being allowed to exceed €0.49 ($0.69 US) when dialing or €0.24 ($0.34) when receiving. This amount should fall farther next year. Reding describes data and texting rates as similarly overpriced in Europe, and is threatening that if cellular companies do not voluntarily cut prices, a report would be produced by the end of 2008 evaluating the use of more price caps.
Analyst: New Zune vs. iPod
Microsoft's release of new Zune portable media players are more likely to cannibalize non-Apple players than affect sales of Cupertino-based company's own devices, according to American Technology Research senior analyst Shaw Wu. "As we have long believed, we view the Zune as more of a competitive threat to its Windows Media partners including SanDisk, Sony, Samsung, LG, Verizon, Toshiba, and Philips as opposed to Apple and iPod," Wu wrote in a research note obtained by MacNN. "To us, the portable music player space is divided into two camps--iPod + iTunes (the de facto industry standard) and everyone else." The analyst notes that while Microsoft now has a more competitive product line, it still has no answers to iPhone, iPod touch, and most importantly the new top-selling "fat boy" iPod nano. Wu still maintains his 'buy' recommendation for Apple shares with $185 price target, and says that Apple is set to buck the trend once again despite potential softness in U.S. consumer spending.
Razer Lycosa and Piranha
Razer today marked the World Cyber Games final matches with a pair of peripherals for dedicated gamers. The Lycosa keyboard (pictured) is specifically tailored for LAN parties and competitions where even a slight mistake could prove risky: the input device takes 1,000 samples per second with less than a millisecond's response time between key presses. The keys themselves have internal backlighting that will dim to selectively light the traditional W/A/S/D first-person shooter key layout; they can also be programmed for specific games and even include a rubber finish to prevent slips, Razer boasts.
Touchscreen, DRM patents
The US Patent and Trademark Office today published several applications made by Apple. Among the most prominent is one titled "Force Imaging Input Device and System," consisting of multiple approaches to developing touchpads and touchscreens for various devices. One approach would have two sets of conductive traces separated by a spring membrane; another would replace the conductive traces with one sense and two drive traces. Notable about the patent is that the designs would allow inputs detecting the level of force applied, thus giving users more control options. The patent also makes reference to a notebook, suggesting that Apple may implement its patent in a future MacBook and/or its rumored subnotebook.
BusinessWeek reviews Nano
Apple's third-generation iPod nano "packs a punch," according to a new BusinessWeek review of the portable media player. Reporter Arik Hesseldahl decided to try Apple's latest Nano despite his preference for the full-size version that offers much more storage, only to discover that the tiny device had become his primary player. Hesseldahl says the 2-inch display is just fine for watching movies despite its small size, which is primarily due to the high pixel density which results in clarity. Apple's latest iPod nano produces the same sound quality as its larger siblings and is fairly priced for the features as well as the storage space offered, according to Hesseldahl. The reporter says he would like to see a more expensive version with more storage, and that he would tolerate extra thickness to accommodate that storage.
BT and FON WiFi Team Up
British Telecom and wireless network provider FON today revealed the BT FON Community, a new effort to spread Wi-Fi connections in the UK. In return for a partial financial stake, BT has agreed to help develop FON's wireless community; subscribers to BT's DSL Internet service can automatically choose to enlist with FON for free and can use a La Fonera router (pictured) to split their wireless network into public and private areas with an agreement to share some of their connection with other FON members or paying customers. Those who volunteer can access any other FON wireless hotspot for free -- including non-UK access points, the companies add.
No native iPhone app plans
A source within Apple claims that the company is currently operating without plans to produce a native software development kit (SDK) for the iPhone. Despite suggestions to the contrary, and a number of unofficial applications built prior to the v1.1.1 firmware update, the source says that Apple is still insisting on a web-based approach, but with several possible concessions. Foremost is offline storage for Safari akin to Google Gears, allowing greater flexibility while still restricting developers to HTML, CSS and AJAX.
Belkin n52te SpeedPad
Belkin today pledged its renewed attention to computer gaming by announcing the n52te SpeedPad, the company's first PC-oriented controller in years. The device earns its namesake Tournament Edition title through a combination of hardware and software made for first-person shooters, online RPGs, and real-time strategy. Fifteen programmable buttons have been given an enhanced feel and can be set up by software from gaming specialists Razer to match some of the most common functions in a given game. With onboard memory, the controller can remember settings without needing a program on the attached computer. Gamers can save multiple player profiles and even switch between three different key mappings on the fly.
Website building on iPhone
The creators of the web-based GlideOS operating system have introduced an update usable in its iPhone-compatible mobile version. New to GlideOS is a website creation tool, which allows users to build sites out of premade themes, or a custom one constructed with personal or public images. Users can also add items such as music, videos, calendar events and bookmarks, and automatically render their sites in both mobile and desktop versions. A sample site can be viewed here. Due to GlideOS' emphasis on collaboration, multiple people can work together on the same website, which is advertising-free. There is no default fee for using Glide, but an extra 10GB of storage is $5 a month or $50 per year.
Gateway on Thursday hoped to make its late entry into the 30-inch computer display field a unique one with the XHD3000. The LCD is aimed simultaneously at creative pros who can use the greater-than-HD 2560x1600 resolution as well as home theater enthusiasts and gamers. For the latter, the screen not only includes HDMI, component, RCA, and S-video jacks to plug in a Blu-Ray player or a game console but is also powered by a Realta HQV upscaler similar to what might be found on an HDTV. The processor can adapt most any video feed to the display's full resolution without much of the blurring or other artifacts that come with non-native input, Gateway says. All six video connections can work simultaneously and even HD feeds will display in a picture-in-picture window.
Photoshop Action Pack 3.6
The operator of Complete Digital Photography has released an updated version of the Photoshop Action Pack, bringing it to v3.6. The pack works in tandem with Apple's Automator controls, allowing Photoshop users to quickly execute many functions; unlike Photoshop's built-in Actions, Automator allows the inclusion of outside programs, and conditional response based on the attributes of an image. Some possible commands out of 87 total include automatic color and exposure adjustment, HDR merging, and image or canvas resizing. Version 3.6 is exclusively for Photoshop CS3, and fixes "washed-out" images produced when using Save for Web.
PS3 Price Cut Friday Leak
Sony's largely confirmed PS3 price drop could occur as early as Friday, according to reports from the British games business. Pocket-lint refutes original suggestions that Sony was planning to wait until an October 12th "big bang" event to reveal a discount and instead suggests that an announcement will take place on Friday, shortly after a non-disclosure agreement for retailers expires and the stores can discuss the console maker's plans.
AT&T Tilt smart phone
AT&T on Thursday said that its recently announced AT&T Tilt, its Windows Mobile-based smart phone, will be available in the United States beginning Friday, Oct. 5 starting at $299.99, $50 less than previous estimates (and perhaps due to reduced iPhone price). As the first Windows Mobile 6 smart device from AT&T, it features a slide-out QWERTY keypad design, a 3-megapixel auto-focus camera, 3G data speeds from AT&T's UMTS/HSDPA-based BroadbandConnect network, and Blackberry Connect Software. Designed by HTC, the Tilt features a 2.8-inch color screen that slides back to reveal a full QWERTY keyboard as well as tilts up for reading and creating e-mail, browsing online, using applications or just playing videos and games. According to the company, the AT&T Tilt supports Bluetooth 2.0, which allows for up to six Bluetooth devices to be wirelessly connected simultaneously to the device and also supports Bluetooth Stereo.
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