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Image Doctor 2
Alien Skin Software recently unveiled a new version to its image-restoration Photoshop plugin, Image Doctor 2. The plugin is designed to fix erroneous photographs, by removing blemishes, dust and scratch damage, compression damage, or an unwanted party guests from photographs. By sampling from the surrounding area, Image Doctor can intelligently repair problematic areas on digital photos without requiring hours of input by the user. In addition to fixing blemishes and removing elements, Image Doctor is able to mend JPEG compression damage – blocky pixelations in an image that are caused from repeated saving in the format. Image Doctor 2 is currently shipping, available for $200 from Alien Skin's website.
Flip Boom for kids
Toon Boom Animation Inc. today unveiled Flip Boom, a free-form animation tool designed for kids. Flip Boom is designed for younger users that have an interest in animation, providing a simple, but still maintains some features of the program's more robust sibling, Toon Boom Studio, such as onion-skinning, and coloring behind linework. The software also teaches about animation principles, such as timing and motion, allowing children to quickly understand and apply the concepts. Flip Boom is currently selling for $30, $10 off from its regular price, as a product launch special.
Leopard network problems
Some users are experiencing less-than-satisfactory network performance since their upgrade to Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard, or from the 10.5.1 update, and are seeking help on Apple's forums (1 | 2 | 3 | 4). The reports vary in circumstance, with some users having troubles on third-party network equipment while others that use the same hardware deny having any issues. Most of the complaints revolve around poor network reception, low speed, and a high ping rate – a type of network command that displays network latency in milliseconds. Most users with the problem seem to believe that it is a problem related to DNS entries, and some are turning to DNS hosting services such as OpenDNS.com.
Apple retail overhaul
Apple has been progressively changing its retail store format over the past year, eliminating cash registers while introducing several new services and increased staffing, to create a more personalized and friendly environment for customers. The recently introduced concierge service directs customers to whatever section of the store they wish to browse, as well as connecting customers with their appointed personal shopper or trainer. Several employees will wander around, entertaining simple questions, and carry around a portable scanner, ready to ring through any purchases that customers may have. Receipts are instantly emailed to the customer, and a paper version can be obtained from store staff.
Lennon's video album
Apple's iTunes Store is set to begin offering a new John Lennon Video Album that features 21 of the rock star's music videos beginning December 4th at Starbucks locations nationwide. Priced at $25, the new Video Album accompanies collectible cards distinguished with a silver-toned photo of Lennon. The cards are redeemable from the iTunes Store for a collection of music videos which includes "Imagine," "Woman," "Happy Xmas," "(Just Like) Starting Over," "Nobody Told Me," "Mind Games," two versions of "Working Class Hero" and others.
Facebook ABC Politics App
Facebook and ABC News today said they were jointly launching the U.S. Politics application, a new tool for the former's site that should be one of the first direct collaborations between the press and a social networking page. The web-based feature is designed with the 2008 US presidential election in mind and is designed to let the Web 2.0 community get more involved with debates: in addition to passively reading blogs and photo diaries, app users can join debate groups and even offer opinions that will affect TV news coverage and candidate debates, ABC claims.
iPhone O2 reception
Several iPhone users on Apple's discussion forums are reporting that they are having reception issues on the British O2 network, and that it appears to be the iPhone itself causing the problems. Some users are switching from an older handset to the iPhone, and noticing the drop in reception, whereas others are merely wandering around, watching the signal typically fluctuate between zero and three bars. Curiously, when the iPhone is attached to the charging dock, reception increases to five bars for those users. Some have exchanged their handsets – O2 has a 14-day exchange policy, according to some of the forum members – and the issue has dissipated.
2.2GHz vs. 2.6GHz MacBook
Apple earlier this month quietly updated its MacBook Pro by offering a larger hard drive as well as faster processor speeds via its build-to-order shopping option. A new test using Geekbench 2 results for the MacBook Pro 2.2GHz, 2.4GHz, and 2.6GHz models reveal slight speed differences as expected, driving the tester to conclude that the performance gains of the fastest MacBook Pro are only worth the money to those users who require maximum CPU speeds.
iPhone Early SDK
Exclusive Some developers are gaining early access to Apple's iPhone and iPod touch software developer kit, according to reliable sources speaking to Electronista. A handful of companies are said to be getting rough versions of the tools to help code more advanced applications than would be possible with the current web-only solution. Exact details of what the kit allows are unknown, though it is confirmed that it produces native programs and somewhat resembles Google's OpenSocial in that it mediates between the programmer and the iPhone operating system.
Xbox 360 Fall Update Info
The major fall update slated for the Xbox 360 now has a set release date and its first significant feature, Microsoft said today. The upgrade is now set to launch on December 4th and will incorporate Find Old Friends, a new service that will let users browse the friend lists of other gamers on the Xbox Live service. The addition follows in the footsteps of social networking sites and lets users reconnect with people they know without having to guess others' gamertags, the company says. Every feature available with the main friend list will carry over, such as friend and game invites as well as comparing game achievements.
Meizu M8 at CES
Meizu's M8 (also known as the MiniOne) could be at least temporarily on display in the same country as the iPhone it copies, allege sources speaking to the Chinese mobile site CNMO. The reported insiders say the touchscreen phone will miss its late 2007 target but that it should see a formal introduction at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas for mid-January, potentially representing the first public demonstration of a working model. The actual launch may occur just a month later, according to the report. The touchscreen is said to be refined and very close in functionality to that of the Apple device the company is attempting to duplicate. Just the software is believed to require the final polish before the release.
TAG Heuer Cellphone
Watchmaker TAG Heuer today said it would team up with French design house Modelabs to produce its own series of cellphones, marking its entrance into the same field of fashion manufacturers turned phone designers as Armani and Prada. TAG Heuer does not provide full details but expects its handsets to be as "contemporary" and "technological" as its watches while also being "timeless," according to company chief Christophe Babin.
GH3 guitars due next year
Many gamers wanting to buy extra controllers for RedOctane's Guitar Hero III will have to wait until next year, the title's publisher has announced. Although the game was released for Wii, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 2/3 not far in advance of the crucial holiday season, Activision says that standalone wireless guitars for the game will not be ready until sometime in the beginning of 2008. This may severely hamper the appeal of the game on the Wii and PS3, as GH3 is the consoles' first Guitar Hero title, and thus they cannot use controllers from earlier games in the series.
Free Apple shipping
In brief: Apple is offering free shipping on all orders from its online store as part of "Cyber Monday," German iPhones customers who pay the additional premium are already reaping the benefits of their Apple-unlocked handsets, and Eternal Storms Software today released EPSQuickLookPlugin. An avid Mac developer is offering a sneak peek at WideMail 0.1.2 with customizable preferences, and Iconfactory along with ARTIS Software has released Frenzic Web demo for iPhone and iPod touch.
Qualcomm vs. Nokia in UK
The ongoing legal conflict between Qualcomm and Nokia has entered a new phase, Reuters reports. On Monday, the British High Court began hearing a case brought by the former company, which alleges that the latter violated two European patents relating to GSM phones: one for controlling power on radio links, and another for using intermittent reception to extend battery life. Should Qualcomm win the dispute, Nokia will be forbidden from selling phones with the technology to anywhere in Britain, severely harming its profits.
Dubai group buys into Sony
A Dubai company has bought out a considerable portion of the electronics giant Sony, the Wall Street Journal reports. Dubai International Capital, owned by the emirate's Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, has announced an a an investment it will only describe as "substantial;" the amount is expected to be five percent or less however, as if it paid any more, DIC would have to declare the money for Japanese tax purposes. In total, therefore, the investment could come to as much as 277 billion yen ($2.6 billion).
New QuickTime flaw exposed
A new vulnerability in the QuickTime media player has been exposed, says the computer security firm Secunia. The group has just issued a fresh advisory, which points out that a boundary error can be created when processing RTSP replies, simply by using an overly long "Content-Type" header. This in turn leads to a stack-based buffer overflow, which grants attackers the ability to launch arbitrary code. The vulnerability is only confirmed to work on QuickTime 7.3 at present, however, and requires victims to open a QTL file or visit a malicious website.
Sony Rolly Player Holiday
Sony on Monday sparked holiday sales with two versions of its more unique flash-based players. Both the dancing, programmable Rolly and the stick-sized E013 Walkman are receiving a special Christmas Package in Japan that preloads six familiar Christmas songs, including "Silent Night" and "White Christmas." The Rolly also receives special preset dance routines to match the music.
Marketing boss talks Apple
Apple's marketing man responsible for the company's iPod and iPhone, Greg Joswiak, has expressed his views on the company's progress as the holidays approach, offering insight and opinions about past as well as present progress. Apple marketing department works closely with product engineers to decide which features to create and what the product will be about, according to Joswiak, and the company has a distinct advantage over competitors because it holds the reigns of both the software and hardware aspects of its products.
Lure of Apple Stores
Holiday traffic at Apple's retail stores may reflect an increased flow of PC users migrating to Macs, say analysts with the firm Piper Jaffray. Monitoring six hours' worth of visitors to Apple Stores in the American east and midwest, the firm discovered this weekend that an abnormal 27 percent of those who passed within 25 feet of a store would walk in. On Friday afternoon, some 462 people were entering Apple Stores per hour, while by Saturday evening this rate had fallen to 241. This is likely evidence of more shopper interest, says Piper, which could lead to greater sales for Apple in 2008 and 2009.
T-Mobile US 3G in December
The American branch of T-Mobile may launch its overdue third-generation cellular Internet access in early December, claim those asking the company. One subscriber from the Kirkland, Washington area appears to have confirmed an announcement for 3G access in his area on December 6th or earlier, providing the first concrete date for the technology beyond T-Mobile's own late 2007 window. An official document was used to confirm the launch, according to the report. The apparent leak does not explain how much of T-Mobile's network would gain the advanced speeds or whether data rates will change.
Moto RIZR Z6c at FCC
Motorola is producing a unique version of its RIZR Z6 slider that will be tailored to Americans traveling abroad, according to a new FCC filing. The Z6c will be aimed at Verizon customers and include not just a CDMA connection for calls and EVDO data but will also offer dual-band 900MHz and 1800MHz GSM. This allows a phone equipped with the right SIM card to connect to most Asian and European networks and also parts of North American networks like AT&T. This will allow travelers to connect at local rates or use pre-paid services.
German iPhone unlock
The ability to officially unlock German iPhones is already in effect, accounts say. The option reportedly first became available on November 21st, the same day T-Mobile announced that unlocked iPhones would be coming. Instead of buying a pre-unlocked device however, shoppers simply pick up a regular one for €399, and then pay T-Mobile the extra €600 premium. A phone's particular IMEI number is then forwarded to Apple, which updates its database such that the next time the device is synched, iTunes will unlock it automatically within a matter of seconds. A SIM card from any carrier can then be inserted.
TiVo Live in Canada
TiVo today announced its long-awaited Canadian service, bringing an alternative to viewers in the country who prefer alternatives to the digital video recorder boxes provided by cable and satellite providers. Like the American version, Canadian TiVo lets users both pick when to record shows or to use season passes to subscribe to shows that are explicitly included in TiVo's electronic guide. The TiVoToGo feature for transferring video to portable players works in addition to the multi-room streaming feature, the company says.
Zune Black Friday Sales
Microsoft's Zune series was beaten only by the core video game market in terms of online sales for the Black Friday weekend following Thanksgiving, say studies from multiple online retailers. PriceGrabber, Shopping.com, and auction site eBay all report the Zune occupying the second place position behind the Nintendo Wii and similarly high-profile consoles and their games. Most of this is split between the old Zune 30 and the newer Zune 80, according to the claims. Part of this is believed to be connected to the low cost and upgradability Zune 30, which has frequently been selling near half price at $100 but can also be upgraded to the same improved interface as the latest players.
Sony Slim PSP 1m Sales
Sony's recently introduced slim PSP has crossed the one million sales mark in Japan faster than the original, the company has revealed today. The new version, which is about 19 percent thinner and 33 percent lighter than the original, reached the figure in just two months after its September 20th release in its home country. The original launch system needed an additional two weeks for the same amount, Sony says. Figures for the North American version are unavailable, though it should also be faring well.
Tiger update, data loss
Apple may have knowingly shipped its latest Tiger operating system update with a bug that could cause complete data loss on Macs with Apple's Boot Camp installed. Echoing a growing support thread in Apple's forums, a report by Macworld UK suggests that older Macs with Boot Camp partitions may suffer a system error on restart when users install the Mac OS X 10.4.11 update: although the problem affects unknown number of users, it is reportedly acknowledged by Apple support as a known issue and requires affected users to completely reformat their drives. The consequences not only include complete data loss in some cases, but also the inability to re-install Boot Camp, as the software -- bundled with the newest Leopard operating system -- is no longer available to Mac OS X Tiger users. Some users in Apple's own forums have reported success retrieving data from the Mac partition when using it as "target FireWire disk."
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