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MemoryMixer 2 update
Lasting Impressions for Paper recently unveiled MemoryMixer 2, an update to its user-friendly scrapbook software. Designed with novice users in mind, MemoryMixer 2 introduces a number of new features, such as cropping and zooming, as well as visual effects like sepia toning. The update includes over 400 digital backgrounds in square, portrait, and landscape orientation, with nature, metal, pattern, and texture designs, and comes with more than 1200 embellishments, ranging from ribbons and braids, to definitions and flourishes. Lasting Impressions is selling the software for $80, and is available from many online and retail stores, including the Apple store.
Sega mind-controlled toys
While Nintendo's Wii continues to soar off game store shelves with its intuitive motion-sensitive controls, Sega Toys and NeuroSky look to do one better and are teaming up to produce mind-controlled toys, using wearable bio-sensors to monitor brainwaves, courtesy of the latter company. NeuroSky says that this is Sega's latest venture in "taking play to the next level", and that with the ThinkGear bio-sensor, it will achieve just that. Unfortunately, neither company commented on what upcoming ideas to which they are applying the technology.
UPOP UMPC-like PMP
Korean company UPOP recently unveiled its first device, a PMP with specifications that are akin to that of a ultra portable laptop, rather than a portable media player. Despite it's miniscule size, the player comes loaded with 30 or 60GB of storage, plus the option for additional space by way of SD cards. The tiny device is similar in design to the Sidekick, but slightly larger, and is navigable with the included stylus and built-in keyboard. Unfortunately the device is only available in Korea, so pricing and availability were not available for North America.
Montage 1.3 ($140) tool to create, edit, and manage screenplays on a
Macintosh. The new release adds Leopard support, the ability to export Montage scripts to Final Draft (.fdr), the ability to export Montage scripts to .sex format for interfacing with production scheduling applications like Gorilla, EP Scheduling and CompanyMOVE and localized support for French, Italian, German, and Spanish. [Download - form]
FlightCheck Pro 6.1 ($500) preflighting solution for desktop publishing apps. FlightCheck v6.10 comprises numerous improvements and updates, including enhanced preflighting speed--up to four times faster than previous versions. The solution now recognizes QuarkXPress 7 files, and appropriately reports on font paths. In addition, improvements have been made to the software's PDF Ground Controls. And a new "Get More" button found in the Ground Controls pop-up menu, enables users to immediately access and download pre-defined Ground Controls based on output intentions and file specifications. [Download - form]
MultitaskingAssistant 1.0.2 ($58) personal information manager (PIM) type of software that functions as a personal organizer of task specific information at the point of interruption. The MultitaskingAssistant's purpose is to facilitate in the recording, tracking, and management of personal information at the point the user gets interrupted during a task. A task, by definition, needs to be accomplished within a defined period of time, tasks get interrupted all the time, and multitasking is a necessity in today's busy world. The MultitaskingAssistant will always have the right information in the right place, in the right form, and of sufficient completeness and quality to quickly bring the user back up to speed on any of there interrupted tasks. [Download - 560K]
miXscope 3.2.3 ($10) miXscope enables microscope and video camera users to take snapshots, create time-lapse movies, stop motion movies, or image sequences of the world around them. miXscope users can also add time stamps, text comments, image overlays, make measurements, add special effects, and/or draw on the live view images. This release improves the image quality for 60x and 200x magnification settings for the newer Digital Blue QX5 USB microscopes.[Download - 1.1MB]
message2net 1.2.4 ($25) a universal binary application for SMS- and phonebook management. The new version is ready to work with Leopard and fixes some minor bugs. message2net allows to send, receive and manage SMS-messages on a Mac OS X computer using a connected mobile phone and supports advanced features like multipart-SMS, group-SMS and direct Address Book and SIM card access. [Download - 2.4MB]
MotionDSP today unveiled H.264 support on FixMyMovie.com, its free online one-click video touchup service. Originally designed for military applications, FixMyMovie.com allows users to upload video footage from digital cameras, mobile phones, or webcams and remove pixelation errors, and the service also supports up-sampling - taking low resolution video and retrieving high definition content from it. MotionDSP opted to support H.264, as the format is quickly becoming the standard for broadcasting high quality HD footage.
Nokia taking on Apple
Nokia, though far from losing its dominant grip on the mobile handset market, is already engaged in a battle to retain mindshare and keep one step ahead of two relative newcomers to its turf: Apple and Google. In a New York Times interview, Nokia's chief executive, Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo, says his company has an "army of software developers," writing applications for the "next generation of mobile telephone services." Though the company has 39 percent of the global cell phone market, it has faltered in the United States (where it holds only about 10 percent of the market), leaving the door open for Apple and Google. "Apple has managed to get operators to pay a bounty for new customers signed up -- that is a sea change," said John Tysoe, an analyst with the Mobile World, a research firm in London. Meanwhile, Google plans to create device-non-specific software based on its open-source Android platform.
Leopard Mac sales
Adding to the already swelling analyst enthusiasm over Apple's current and future financial prospects, ChangeWave is predicting that Leopard is making consumers more likely to buy Macs now and in the near future, leading to optimistic sales forecasts. "Apple computer sales continue to show strong consumer momentum. Not only is Apple maintaining the highest satisfaction levels among all manufacturers, but consumer purchases over the next 90 days look exceptionally robust." According to the company's survey data, nearly one-in-four respondents (24 percent) say that the release of Apple's new Leopard operating system makes them more likely to buy a Mac in the future.
Refurb Xserves, Apple TVs
Apple's online store is once again offering reconditioned Xserve Quad Xeon server systems, as well as its Apple TV set top box at discounted rates. Refurbished Xserve 2.66GHz Quad Xeon servers each feature 1GB of memory, an 80GB hard drive, and Mac OS X Server 10.4 Unlimited-Client Edition for $2,999. Apple's faster Xserve 3.0GHz Quad Xeon servers with 1GB of memory, an 80GB hard, and Mac OS X Server 10.4 Unlimited-Client Edition are each available for $3,799. Reconditioned Apple TVs with 40GB and 160GB hard drives are also available for $229 and $339, respectively.
iPhone target of choice
The iPhone will be a major target for hackers in 2008, with attacks centered around the included Safari web browser, according to a prediction by Arbor Networks Security. The attacks will most likely be bits of malicious code that, when intertwined with benign digital material such as image files, could be capable of executing various harmful commands on the device. Arbor believes that the prospect of attacking Apple users and being among the first to hack a new platform are both big draws for malevolent hackers.
Cake Mania for Mac
MacSoft has unveiled a retail version of Cake Mania for Mac, a title developed by Sandlot Games that places players into the shoes of Jill -- a young woman who returns from culinary school to find her beloved grandparents' bakery closed down by the evil new neighborhood Mega-Mart. Players earn money by baking and upgrading Jill's kitchen with state-of-the-art tools while serving her increasingly difficult customers to ultimately earn enough funds to re-open her grandparents' shop. Cake Mania is priced at $20, according to MacSoft, and requires Mac OS X 10.3.9 or later.
Rogers hijacking webpages
Rogers, Canada's largest broadband provider, is attempting to insert its presence over otherwise unrelated websites, reports confirm. The issue first came to light thanks to a visitor to the blog of Lauren Weinstein, who noted that he encountered a Rogers message -- warning about an approaching download limit -- simply while visiting Google. Further inquiry with Rogers' VP of communications has confirmed the existence of a test program, designed to get messages to customers in a way other than e-mail or phone calls. "We're trying different things, and we'll test customer response," says VP Taanta Gupta.
Streaming music to iPhone
Simplify Media today released Simplify Media Mobile, a new native application for Apple's iPhone and iPod touch that allows users to access entire music collections from any Wi-Fi hot spot. "Unlike websites and web-streaming, you can listen to remote music and can still surf the Web," the company touts. "Play song after song without having to stop to select a new one." The download is free, and requires Mac OS X 10.4 or later with iTunes 7.x or newer.
H2O Audio has begun shipping its new iFR Sport Combo for Apple iPhones. The new iFR Sport Combo is the latest addition to H2O Audio's Outdoor product line, and uses a water resistant case providing protection against hostile conditions, impact shocks, drops, sweat, marring and scratching. The case utilizes a durable polycarbonate construction for impact and shock protection, has a flip, and a swivel and stow case lid that provides complete access to all iPhone menu functions. The combo pack includes a quick-fit sport armband featuring a unique Dual D-ring design that comfortably fits all arm sizes under or over jackets and coats. The armband provides built-in cord management that eliminates the bother of tangled earbuds.
Omaura TT Home Theater PC
Omaura today unveiled a concept it says would be far more practical than conventional designs for home theater PCs. Called the TT, the system would share the same philosophy as the HDTVs it would accompany: rather than sit in a conspicuous desktop box or integrate into the back of the screen as with an iMac, the TT is an almost entirely vertical design that mimics the narrow but long shape of the screen: users could tuck the computer underneath some systems or directly behind them on a TV stand. Only an iMac-like, slot-load optical drive on the side would reveal its purpose, Omaura says. The design would allow enough room for full-size desktop video cards and storage to fill the role of an HD video player and a video recorder.
Gartner: Eee rivals coming
ASUS' fledgling Eee PC is doing extremely well, the company reports. It expects to sell over 400,000 systems by January, and at a tradeshow in Taipei last week, it sold out all 5,000 units it brought for the occasion. Targeted sales for 2008 could be in excess of 3.8 million. This very success could, however, become a problem for ASUS, notes the research firm Gartner. It has already attracted competition, such as from the Chinese company Hasee, which is building a stripped-down 13.3-inch laptop.
First look at NAV 11
Viruses have been of little concern to most Mac users since OS X made its first appearance in 2001. Apple's switch to Intel processors, and the various virtualization processes that exist for running Windows, have eroded that confidence for some users. Although Apple is usually on the ball with fixing system vulnerabilities, some larger problems can go for several days or weeks before a proper fix is available. Symantec's Norton AntiVirus 11 aims to compliment the Mac OS' natural sturdiness by providing anti-viral services and fixes for security holes while Apple works on a true solution for the problem.
Third-party Kindle support
Amazon's hyped Kindle book reader now has third-party support, an electronic book publisher has announced. Fictionwise says that over 15,000 titles are available for the Kindle from its MultiFormat category, including works by the likes of Mark Twain, Franz Kafka and Poppy Z. Brite. Shoppers cannot however download directly to their readers, as they can with official Amazon books: they must either download to their computer first and sync via USB, or else have Fictionwise e-mail books to their Kindle with a 10-cent Amazon surcharge.
Sprint WiMAX This Week
Sprint removed some concerns about its wireless projects today and confirmed the initial rollout of Xohm, one of the first true networks using Intel's fourth-generation WiMAX technology. The plans reiterate the carrier's plan to soft-launch its 4G service and will quietly make available networks in downtown Baltimore, Chicago, and Washington, D.C.; new to the announcement is word that the provider will expand based on existing cellular traffic, building out the WiMAX service based on customers already making heavy use of Sprint's existing services. About 100 million Americans will be within range of WiMAX by the end of 2008.
Guitar Hero III: LoR ships
Aspyr Media today announced that Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock for Mac is available on store shelves. Released in partnership with Activision, the Guitar Hero franchise makes its debut on Macs and "gives even more gamers the opportunity to unleash their inner-rock star." Developed and published exclusively by Aspyr, Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock for Mac matches its console counterparts with a set list that includes many of the most popular rock songs ever recorded. Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock comes bundled with an X-Plorer guitar controller for $80, requires Mac OS X 10.4.10 or later, and is compatible with Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard.
LG Venus Pink at Verizon
Verizon on Tuesday afternoon help round off its 2007 phone releases with the LG Venus Pink. The device replaces the all-black design of the original with a sparkle-textured pink sliding keypad and side trim. This makes the device more conspicuous for fashion-conscious women than the already high-visibility phone, which relies on a unique split view with a touchscreen replacing the normal buttons and directional pad of a conventional slider phone.
RIAA on CD Ripping
Converting music CDs to audio files on a computer is unapproved and therefore illegal, the Recording Industry Association of America has said (PDF) in a brief ahead of a crucial Arizona lawsuit. Hoping to support the arguments from group member Atlantic Records in its complaint against the Howell family, the RIAA contends that ripping CDs leads to "viral" copyright infringement; a single disc can result in millions of copies if shared through a peer-to-peer service, the brief claims.
Office 2008 goes 'gold'
As the MacBU's Office 2008 nears its release to manufacturing (RTM), meaning that the code is completed for final release next month. Simultaneously, the company is offering its final sneak peek into the product suite, which will officially launch at Macworld Expo in San Francisco. The final preview provides a look at the Excel 2008 improvements that cater to spreadsheet novices and experts alike with helpful new formula tools and a significantly increased grid workspace.
Asia in 700MHz auction
Four Asian companies appear to be getting involved with the FCC auction for the 700MHz wireless spectrum, the Wall Street Journal reports. The biggest is Japanese carrier NTT DoCoMo, which may put forward a bid worth $5 billion or more to expand its business internationally. The company already has a minor presence in the US, but does not sell any of the phones or advanced cellular services it is famous for in Japan. The company's main rival -- KDDI -- is likewise rumored to be interested in greater US access, since it is already testing a cellular service in the northeast.
Toshiba Satellite T31
Toshiba today made an unusual concession to anxious business travelers with the Satellite T31. The 15.4-inch Japanese system is one of the few computers from a large manufacturer to ship with both Windows Vista and its XP Professional ancestor in the box; while only one is installed by default, owners can either choose to keep the newer OS or revert back to XP should their work software or personal preferences keep them from running the new code.
Goldman on iPod, Mac sales
Research firm Goldman Sachs is predicting strong holiday sales for Apple's iPods and Macs, and remains confident about the Cupertino-based company's forthcoming products in 2008. Goldman analyst David Bailey foresees the new iPhone arriving in the second half of 2008, with a smaller upgrade and more flash memory surfacing earlier in the year, according to Seeking Alpha.
Kenwood DTV auto receiver
AV giant Kenwood has announced as itself as the next backer of DTV, a new North American standard for mobile digital television. While similar standards have existed for a few years elsewhere, in the form of Japan's 1Seg or the global DMB, North America has lagged behind. Kenwood in particular has built prototype DTV receivers based on MPH, a platform developed by LG, Harris, and LG's research group, Zenith. The technology will be demonstrated at next month's Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
NBC on SanDisk Fanfare
NBC today announced that it would bring its TV shows to SanDisk's recently unveiled Fanfare video service, significantly expanding the beta-stage video download site's catalog beyond existing offerings from CBS, Showtime, and similar networks. The deal will land much of the content from NBC's main station, including 30 Rock and Heroes; affiliated channels such as Bravo and USA Network will also be available. Fanfare allows viewing on the computer but is primarily designed to pair up with SanDisk's Sansa TakeTV, which serves as a transportable video player for TVs and is hte only device so far that will play Fanfare content.
KONTAKT 3 demo released
Native Instruments has released the demo version of KONTAKT 3, its latest pro sampling software. The program is said to have "universal" file import ability, and incorporates a wave editor which goes beyond standard functions such as looping, slicing and tempo sync. Users can draw envelopes directly within the waveform, and apply 18 different effects, such as amp and cabinet simulations. The full version of KONTAKT 3 also has over 33GB of stock samples, with 1,000 instruments in categories such as Orchestral, World, Band and Urban Beats.
D-Link Sub-50 Routers
D-Link aims to be the first with a router using the faster 802.11n Wi-Fi standard at or below the $50 mark, say tips from industry sources at its Taiwan manufacturing base. The network equipment producer is said to be instituting price cuts that will drop the cost by as much as 35 percent in a bid to undercut rivals such as Belkin, Linksys, and SMC. D-Link has ypically had some of the lowest-cost wireless routers on the market and has offered wireless routers significantly below the $100 level in the past, but until today has not crossed the $50 barrier. The model is most likely the base DIR-615 (not pictured).
TV shows for iTunes Canada
Apple is planning to add TV shows to the iTunes Store Canada as early as this afternoon or evening, and will officially launch its television content there on Wednesday, according to sources cited by Ars Technica. Apple may push back the launch date if things don't progress smoothly, but those sources say TV shows are expected to make their debut on Canada's iTunes Store within a few weeks at the latest.
Freefall sensor patent
Apple has today been granted a patent by the US Patent and Trademark Office, for a submission called Method and apparatus for detecting free fall. Many notebooks, and smaller devices as well, use hard drives which park their heads when a fall is detected; this prevents the heads from scratching or punching through storage platters. Sensing when to do this requires an accelerometer, and it is here that Apple has laid claim to two different concepts.
Miglia ships TVMini2
Miglia today began shipping the TVMini2 digital tuning device designed specifically for Mac users, and announced new promotions for European as well as UK customers looking to purchase iMacs. The TVMini2 features a stylish ultra-slim design to serve as the smallest USB device of its kind available, according to Miglia. It slots neatly into a USB 2.0 port, without blocking any other ports/outlets, including the MagSafe on MacBook Pro systems. Miglia's TVMini2 is priced at £60 in the UK or €80 for European customers.
At least one manufacturer is hoping to ride the coattails of the iPod touch through a low-cost alternative, a listing at the online store MP4 Nation reveals. The Optimus Touch is consciously designed to replicate the iPod's touchscreen controls, including very similar icons and music navigation, but includes a few added features common to low-cost players but absent in the iPod touch. A miniSD card slot allows extra storage past the 4GB built into the device; users can also record voice with a built-in microphone, take photos with a 1.3-megapixel camera, and watch DivX- or XviD-formatted video clips at up to 24 frames per second, the manufacturer boasts.
GeForce 8800 GTS 512MB
NVIDIA today provided another upgrade for its GeForce 8-series with the 512MB GeForce 8800 GTS. Although it includes less memory than the 640MB card released last year, the new version boosts the number of shader processors from 96 to 128, greatly improving the card's ability to draw complicated pixel or geometry vertex effects. The card is about 25 percent faster than its predecessor at the same price, by NVIDIA's estimates. The 512MB card is also the first GTS to support full acceleration of H.264 video, taking nearly all the burden away from the CPU for many Blu-ray movies and direct downloads.
New events at Macworld
The organizers of next month's Macworld Conference and Expo have announced a number of new and returning exhibits, which they say coincide with larger-than-average bookings. IDG World Expo notes that while it is only the South Hall of Moscone Center that sells out on a regular basis, the West Hall has just sold out for the first time in Macworld's history. Among the exhibits at the expanded expo will be a Podcast Studio, featuring live broadcasts from popular Mac-themed shows, though no particular names have been mentioned.
Toshiba SCiB Battery
Toshiba on Tuesday revealed a technology it hopes will make lithium-ion batteries genuinely useful for cars and other vehicles. Named a Super Charge ion Battery (SCiB), the upgrade changes the negative electrode material, the electrolyte, and the manufacturing process to create a battery which is both extremely quick to recharge and reliable enough to replace older but tough nickel-metal hydride batteries. The substances and the design of battery cells do more than just prevent the battery from catching fire in the hot environment of a car, Toshiba says: they allow a very large current to feed the battery, allowing a typical battery to reach 90 percent capacity in five minutes.
Dell Latitude XT Specs
Dell today officially confirmed many of the details of its Latitude XT tablet. The Texas PC maker hopes to distinguish its first ever touchscreen PC by making it one of the lightest available: at 3.57 pounds, the system will be relatively easy to carry, Dell hopes. The new convertible Latitude will also have the choice of either a thin, LED-backlit screen or an outdoor-focused screen that remains more visible in daylight. Weight and speed can also be improved through storage; while up to a 120GB traditional hard disk is available, up to a 64GB solid-state drive should improve boot times and reduce weight.
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