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First Look: BusySync
Apple's .Mac is a service based on a paid yearly subscription of $100. It offers users many different functions, such as calendar and mail syncing, backup, email, online storage, among others. Many users only require one portion of the service, however, and can not justify the yearly cost for things that they feel they have no use for. BusyMac looks to address one of those needs with BusySync, an application that is designed to synchronize iCal calendars across a local area network. This makes it an idea candidate for office situations, since the one-time cost of the application (minus any major version upgrades in the future) is more manageable than maintaining several yearly subscriptions.
Synium unveils Screenium
Synium recently unveiled a beta test for Screenium, its new motion screen-capture application, and also issued a beta for iFinance 2, an update to its personal financial management software. Screenium allows users to record their activities with full internal application and external source audio, enabling them to create video-based tutorials and "screencasts". Screenium captures all mouse movements, clicks, and drags, while also recording all application and operating system sounds. Users can also simultaneously record verbal instructions, so that they don't have to assemble everything in post production. Screenium is currently being offered as a preview version, but will be available for $20 when the app is finalized.
Raytel EGO Drive
Raytel has announced that at next month's CES expo, it will be demonstrating the EGO Drive, an unusual GPS navigator. While it includes a 4.3-inch touchscreen and 2D or 3D mapping, the distinguishing factor may be its wireless remote control knob, which lets users handle some basic functions without having to lean over to the dash or pull it out of a pocket.
The unit further features advanced Bluetooth support, which not only enables hands-free calling but also stereo audio streaming. Users can play MP3, WAV and MPEG-4 files on the system, with data being copied either to internal memory via USB, or held on SD cards up to 2GB in size.
Changes public beta
Skorpiostech has released a public beta of Changes, its new directory comparison and file differencing utility for Mac OS X. Changes is designed to make managing differences between files and folders fast and efficient by leveraging the power of Leopard's new Core Animation and Quick Look technologies, providing a smooth workflow that handles complicated synchronization and differencing needs. Changes beta is available for free during the testing period, and will sell for $30 upon shipping before migrating to its actual price of $40. The software requires Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard.
Vonage, Nortel settle spat
Canada's Nortel is the latest to settle a patent dispute with VoIP carrier Vonage, Reuters reports. Unlike the company's recent legal problems, however, Vonage was in this case the originator, having inherited a 2004 lawsuit when it bought Digital Packet Licensing in 2006; in question were patents relating to 411 and 911 services, along with so-called "click-to-call" technology. Nortel filed a counterclaim earlier this month, which may have been the trigger for the settlement.
Crucially for Vonage, which has been in serious financial jeopardy for several months, the agreement will require no cash damage payments. Instead, each side will let the other license three of its patents in a limited arrangement.
ASUS Eee PC with WiMAX Tip
ASUS will give its Eee PC ultra-compact notebook wide-area 4G wireless when a new version is revealed next week, the company says on a special preview website. Though leaving few clues, the company makes clear that it will use Intel's WiMAX in the system to supply fast broadband Internet access at cellular-like distances. The system is certain to arrive in the US through Sprint's involvement with the project, which will make sure the new Eee can take advantage of the cellular provider's upcoming Xohm WiMAX service. The debut is expected on Monday, though an actual launch may hinge on Sprint's 4G network, which launches during the spring.
iSync 5.1 adds more Nokia
Nova media has released a new update for its iSync plug-ins, bringing their version to v5.1. The software adds support for approximately 130 phones to iSync, letting users copy over their iCal and Address Book information to a phone in advance of formal support from Apple. Brands covered by the plug-ins include Motorola, Samsung and Sony Ericsson. New to v5.1 is support for several more phones from Nokia, including the E51, 7900 and 3500 Classic, as well as the N82 and 8GB N95, neither of which are as yet formally available in the US.
Lenovo ThinkPad Penryn Tip
Even more system builders are known to be gearing up for Penryn notebook launches that will launch early next year, according to further updates from Notebook Italia. Unlike its often conservative efforts in the past, Lenovo plans to update both its premium T61 (shown) and mainstream R61 ThinkPads with the new processor: each will get a baseline 2.1GHZ Core 2 Duo with the enhanced 3MB of cache and other benefits of the newer chip design; the thinner, titanium T61 will come with 1GB of memory, a 120GB disk, and integrated Intel video as standard while the bulkier R61 will use its cost savings to use doubled RAM, a 160GB drive, and offer NVIDIA's Quadro NVS 140M for faster 3D graphics.
Mac OS X a growing target
Apple's Mac OS X operating system -- which the company advertises as more secure than Microsoft Windows -- is coming under increased scrutiny by security specialists and underground crackers as the platform increases in market share. After repeatedly posting record quarters and announcing a growth rate well ahead of the personal computer industry in general, Apple is fast appearing on the radar of more and more hackers across the globe. Infoworld reports that "The days when you can assume that Apple's products are exempt from harm are over."
Music Sales Free-Fall
Music sales during the holidays have dropped by a dramatic extent in 2007, Variety magazine writes. Although a handful of titles such as Josh Groban's Noel have fared well, the overall number of albums sold has dropped from 105.3 to 83.9 million between 2006 and 2007 for the peak holiday shopping period following US Thanksgiving -- a drop of about 21 percent, the publication says. Sales during the last week hit a predicted spike and jumped 42 percent but were still 18 percent down from the year before.
Fox, Disney iTunes rentals
More details of the highly-anticipated iTunes rental service have been leaked, according to Variety. The movie trade magazine cites "studio sources" as saying that Fox and Disney are indeed confirmed as partners, and will make some sort of appearance during the January 14th Macworld keynote by Apple CEO Steve Jobs. The two may also be joined by other distributors, such as MGM, Lionsgate and Paramount, which like Fox and Disney already sell permanent downloads on the iTunes Store.
IO game released
Atman Software today launched IO, a new side-scrolling game that challenges players to bring the Nautilus-114 spaceship back home. "the task isn't easy thanks to the many robotic minions that now inhabit the ship. In order to accomplish your mission, you have to play evasively (hide in the dark, walk don't run), avoid detection and carry out your objectives." Players are accompanied by a robotic friend, Ned, taking enemies down and gathering data pertaining to the destruction of the ship's human crew. The game is priced at $13 and requires Mac OS X 10.4 or later.
LG Phillips LCD has today revealed some of its first multi-touch displays and is targeting them at users who want to bring the technology to large rooms and public spaces. At 52 and 84 inches, the two new displays are the largest yet to allow more than one point of contact: the 52-inch is the largest contiguous LCD of its kind while the 84-inch model combines four 42-inch screens. An IR sensor registers two points of contact and can also recognize gestures, allowing users to zoom into a map or manipulate a photo with more natural input. Either set functions as a 1080p display that works with most computers and offer virtually the same light output as a view-only display despite the touch input.
iPhone 1.1.3 firmware demo
One site claims to have acquired a pre-release version of Apple's v1.1.3 firmware for the iPhone, revealing several features. In contrast to reports from earlier this month, the new account does not make any mention of disk modes or voice recording, but rather concentrates on improvements to Google Maps and the home screen. In the latter case users can drag and drop icons by holding their finger on one for a few seconds, which "shakes free" all icons to be moved around as desired. Users can then shuffle around items in not just the primary screen, but also in the dock, or to and from the newly-accessible secondary pages. Tapping the Home button locks icons back in place.
Penryn Notebook Leaks
Details of several notebooks running the mobile version of Intel's Penryn architecture have been leaked and point to the likely specifications for other systems as well, according to Notebook Italia. Sony is expected to have one of the most comprehensive updates with upgrades to its VAIO AR, CR, FZ (pictured), and SZ notebooks. As should be common to many systems based on the 45-nanometer Intel processor, clock speeds will be higher: the CR, SZ, and the base FZ will start with 2.1GHz Core 2 Duos, while the top FZ and the standard AR will reach 2.4GHz; fulfilling predictions of large memory, Sony will ship every system with at least 2GB of RAM and as much as 4GB on the 2.4GHz portables, which also sport Blu-ray drives.
BlackBerry 9000 Photo Leak
Research in Motion's BlackBerry 9000-series has been spotted but may be an evolutionary design rather than the major shift expected by some, according to an update from the third-party BlackBerry Forums. A photo allegedly taken near the company's Waterloo, Canada campus reveals a device that offers a major redesign of the BlackBerry Curve but retains the chief formula equipped with a conventional screen, it also keeps the trackball of the earlier model but includes larger, easier to hit keys on its keypad and is thinner overall than its predecessors.
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