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In brief: GameTap, Cardraider reviews, Office 2008 apparently backordered, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak joins SCOTTEVEST Board and RouteBuddy expands worldwide digital map coverage for Mac users ... We've posted a review of GameTap, a large online gaming site from Turner Broadcasting that boasts a huge number of games. Most of them are venerable console games in which you wasted your youth, such as Space Invaders, Galaga, Bubble Bobble, and Pac-Man. Their latest press release boasts Mac features, such as "new faster and lighter GameTap player, games launch more quickly and it is even easier to search for and discover games. The player has updated community features, such as the Buddy Hub, which makes it easier to find, talk to and play games with your friends online."
Citrin 1.3 ($120) application for interactive scientific graphing and curve fitting, providing: Commonly used charts, such as scatter & line series, bar, column, area, 3-D (column, pyramid, prism, area and band), ternary scatter, pie, polar, box & whisker, histograms, probability charts, etc. Leopard-ready, allows recoding non-UTF-8/non-ASCII text to UTF-8 during import of delimited files (the option includes all System- supported text encoding, typically around 100), and provides fixes for known bugs and glitches. [Download - 9.7MB] ÜberUpload for Aperture 1.0 ($25) allows easy image exports from Aperture to FTP and SFTP servers. ÜberUpload for Aperture takes the industry-leading export functionality of ApertureToFTP Pro and turbocharges it with an expanded list of upload protocols and a significantly enhanced user interface. ÜberUpload for Aperture is available for direct download from Übermind’s product web page. User’s can try out a fully functioning version of the plug-in free for 15 days. [Download - 6.7MB] Compost 1.8.9 ($13) automatic trash management software for Mac OS X. This release adds the background app the ability to completely ignore a mounted disk. This is a slight efficiency improvement over just overriding and disabling all the limits, and works around an observed issue relating to a troublesome interaction between Compost, volume duplication software and the OS. [Download - 1.4MB] BurnAgain DVD 1.2.2 ($24) multisession burning tool for Mac OS X. BurnAgain DVD simply adds files to a disk several times without creating an individual volume for each session. BurnAgain DVD supports burning to CDR, CDRW, DVD+RW and DVD-RW. It is the only application on the Mac available supporting that kind of multisession burning. Version 1.2.2 fixes DVD-RW and CD burning issues with certain drives and includes interface tweaks for Leopard. [Download - 330KB] Cyndicate 1.1 ($30) RSS/Atom aggregator and content management application for Mac OS X. The new release has auto scrolling when moving through the article list. Videos that are linked in YouTube's feed are now embedded in the article view. Users can now select the unread quantity that appears on the dock. Portions of the interface reworked to match Leopard's look and feel. [Download - 7.9MB]
Digital Foci today unveiled two new Pocket Album OLED photo viewers, which will be on display at its CES 2008 booth. The Pocket Album OLED 1.5 features a 1.5-inch screen, with 32MB of internal flash storage – enough to hold approximately 120 photos. The integrated, rechargeable battery holds up to four hours of life, and can be charged through USB. Slideshows can run in either automatic or manual modes, which can display images randomly or in sequence. Digital Foci includes its Photo Viewer Software that allows users to crop and rotate images, which it then will automatically resize for optimal viewing and storage. The Pocket Album OLED 1.5 will be available in April for $50.
Digieffects, a developer has announced two important updates for Buena Depth Cue and Buena Effects Pack. Effective immediately Buena Depth Cue and Buena Effects Pack now support Intel-based Macintosh computers. Buena Depth Cue and Buena Effects Pack are also available as software downloads. Buena Depth Cue and Buena Effects Pack are now compatible with Universal Binary applications such as Adobe After Effects CS3, Adobe Premiere CS3, Apple Final Cut Pro 6 and Autodesk Combustion 4. Since Buena Depth Cue and Buena Effects Pack are backwards compatible, these programs will still run natively on Power PC-based Mac computers.
Freeverse today added two new titles to its Macfun game portal: Rainbow Mystery, and Hidden Relics. Rainbow Mystery is a puzzle game where players must help Lily on her quest to break a curse that is turning her world into a tainted landscape. Lily must solve puzzles through 70 levels over three different game modes by swapping and matching different flowered tiles. Rainbow Mystery’s meager system requirements call for Mac OS X 10.3.9 or later, with any G3, G4, G5 or Intel-based Mac; The game is available from Macfun for $20.
Energizer today unveiled a new iPod battery extender, as well as several new lighting products; it will be demonstrating them at CES 2008. The Energi To Go for iPod uses two AA batteries, and when used with the company’s e2 Lithium cells, produces over 40 hours of audio playback, or 11 hours of video. The unit unfolds, revealing a dock connector, allowing the iPod to sit in the lightweight battery pack. Energi To Go for iPod comes with two Energizer e2 Lithium AA batteries, while pricing and availability has not been mentioned.
Xias today unveiled several new products that it will display at CES 2008, including two digital photo frames, two cameras, USB memory sticks, and an MP3 player with an accompanying digital download service. The PF-821WF and PF-1021WF are an eight- and 10-inch digital frame, respectively; both models feature a display resolution of 800 by 600. Up to 12 images can be displayed simultaneously, and images sit in a floating, swiveling base. Seven digital media formats are supported, which can be uploaded to the frames from either of the two bult-in memory card slots. Four different play modes are supported – full-screen browse, slideshow, thumbnail browse, and zoom in/out – while viewing time can be adjusted in both browse and slideshow modes. While pricing was not announced, Xias will ship the frames during the second quarter of 2008.
In a potentially major upset in the conflict between movie standards, Warner Brothers today said it would drop its support for the HD DVD format, switching all its future titles to the competing Blu-ray standard for HD versions. The move is prompted by an evident shift by movie buyers towards the Blu-ray format and is meant both to consolidate Warner's efforts and prevent users from having to choose between competing formats for the same title. The choice is a reversal but a necessary one in an industry where the field appears to be destroying itself, Warner says.
Budget electronics maker DXG has released the DXG-566V HD (not pictured), its first entry-level HD camcorder. The 566V is a five megapixel model, and supports HD resolutions up to 720p at 30fps, and D1 resolutions up to 720x480 at the same framerate. Highlights includes a three-inch LCD, support for both SD and SDHC cards, and the ability to shoot stills (with LED flash) at an eight-megapixel resolution. Reflecting the budget nature of the camera, however, stills are interpolated at that resolution, and there is no optical zoom -- camera owners must instead fall back on 2x digital magnification. The 566V HD is on sale now for $150.
Sennheiser is separating itself from the relative glut of wireless earphones today with the introduction of the MX W1, a new set it claims produce audio far cleaner than most models. Instead of using Bluetooth, which both requires a compressed sound and is susceptible to cordless phones and Wi-Fi, the technology uses a special digital broadcast system developed by Cupertino, California-based Kleer. The improvement provides both more faithful audio and better battery life, Sennheiser says. Compared to Bluetooth, the MX W1's technology consumes between five and ten times less power.
Synium Software today unveiled iFinance 2, an update to its personal finance management software. After a long beta test throughout last year, the final release version offers powerful tools for cash flow management and financial analysis. iFinance features built-in diagramming, auto-categorization, and smart imports from CSV files. Colorful charts allow users to visualize current and future cashflow, by coloring bars a solid color for existing data, while projected values are faded. Synium will be at Macworld Expo to demonstrate this and other titles; iFinance 2 is available for $20.
iLuv on Friday afternoon said it would choose CES as the venue for introducing a pair of AV docks that bring relatively new features to the table. The i255 (shown) is one of the first full-fledged DVD players to also support newer iPods and uses its video output to view movies and photos from any of Apple's video-capable iPods, including the third-generation iPod nano, iPod classic, and iPod touch. It will also play audio from both the Apple players and CDs, including MP3 discs. iLuv plans to ship the i255 in March for $130.
Telestream has announced an Image Server Component for Final Cut Pro, which provides IMX (MPEG-2) file compatibility and direct file transfer between 360 Systems' MAXX servers, and Apple's Final Cut Pro editing systems. The component imports MPEG-2 IMX 30/40/50 M/bit standard definition video, uncompressed audio, and metadata from the MAXX server directly into the Final Cut Pro project bin for editing. It also exports the MPEG project from Final Cut Pro for Ethernet file transfer back to MAXX servers.
Accessory maker Gefen is preparing the HDMI Over Coax Extender, its latest home theater product. In what the company claims in a commercial first, the technology will allow people to send HDMI content from one room to another anywhere else in a home, via regular coaxial cable. HDMI is intended to block piracy, and normally requires specially-formatted cables to carry its audio and video channels. To this Gefen has added an infrared channel, which allows the same remote(s) for the originating source to function regardless of where in a home they are used. A Blu-Ray player, for instance, should be able to understand pause commands in a room 15 feet away, so long as the output also has an IR sensor. The Over Coax Extender should begin shipping in April.
Windows Vista's increased anti-copying protection is already leading some customers of movie services to find themselves locked out of content they have legal rights to watch, users are reporting today. Netflix subscriber Davis Freeberg notes that his access to the movie rental service's Watch Instantly online feature was cut when he upgraded to a newer display that could play HD-level content but did not support HDCP encryption; to regain access, he would have to grant Microsoft's DRM system free reign to scan his system for videos regardless of their source, according to Netflix support staff contacted regarding the problem.
Nokia could be taking its first serious steps into popularizing its full-keyboard smartphones, say a pair of leaks. A new claim by BGR suggests that the company is in the early stages of developing its first Nseries phone to sport a full QWERTY keyboard; the device would be smaller and more candybar-like in keeping with the Nseries focus but have many of the benefits of an Eseries keyboard, the tip suggests. It will also be the first such phone to have multimedia features that have been locked out of Eseries phones for business reasons. A 5-megapixel or greater camera, true GPS, and high-res video capture and playback should be present.
Spreading out announcements for extra publicity, Parrot has revealed two more devices to be shown at Monday's CES expo. The DS3120 is a home stereo system that, on its own, can only play FM radio, or music from loaded SD cards and attached USB drives; the USB port also allows accepts media players and notebooks however, and the main features of the system are Bluetooth A2DP streaming, plus a line-in port specifically geared for iPods. Operating through Bluetooth, users can not only listen to music but make and receive phonecalls, thanks to a built-in microphone. The stereo's 1.8-inch screen also lets people browse contacts, and view artist, album and track information. The satellites produce 20W of power.
Sony BMG will soon join the other major labels in dropping digital rights management (DRM) protection from its music sold online, according to claims by BusinessWeek. The magazine points to anonymous sources which say the record company will shed copy protection on at least some of its digital catalog before the end of March, allowing users to copy or move songs to other computers and portable media players. The move follows similar efforts by EMI, Universal, and now Warner to spur sales by overcoming distrust of proprietary copy protection schemes.
Already available in Asia, Fujifilm has announced its intentions to bring the FinePix Z100fd to North America. An eight-megapixel camera, the 100 is less than 0.8 inches thick, and features both software and hardware stabilization. ISO light sensitivity extends to 1600, and the lens boasts 5x optical zoom. Other software features include face recognition and red-eye correction.
Nvidia has reportedly let slip information on two of its upcoming video cards. The most unique of the pair is the GeForce 9800 GX2, described as effectively being two 8800 GPU chips shrunk to the 65nm level, and placed in an SLI configuration on a single board. Rumored specifications include 256 stream processors, two PCBs, and a 1GB frame buffer; performance is said to be at least 30 percent faster than a single-GPU 8800 Ultra. It is also suggested that the 9800 GX2 will support "quad SLI," likely meaning two such cards operating in tandem rather than four. The card is expected to ship in late February or early March, and may temporarily become the fastest mainstream card sold by Nvidia.
JAMF Software has announced that its Recon Suite, which was previously attached to its client management system, is now available in a solo release. The program is an inventory collection tool, and scans networks not only for all attached computers, but also everything from hardware and operating systems to installed apps, fonts and patches. System administrators can thus conduct audits automatically, without having to visit each machine. The standard inventory can take less than 45 seconds, and can track warranty and maintenance schedules.
Microsoft will compensate gamers plagued by connection downtime on the Xbox Live service with a free game, the online service's manager Marc Whitten revealed today. The networking feature, which lets users both play against each other and download new content, has been experiencing chronic failures since a surge of customers began using the service during and after Christmas. In exchange, members of the service will receive a free download of a full Xbox Live Arcade game, Whitten says. The Xbox Live chief does not specifically state which gamers will receive the title but suggests the download will be available to everyone, not simply paying Gold members who are most likely to have been affected by the outage. Proper details of the deal will appear in coming weeks.
Cultured Code today released the first public preview of Things, its task management application. After sending out private alpha invitations to more than 17,000 newsletter subscribers, today's announcement marks the second major step in the lifetime of the application, according to the company. Things Preview requires Mac OS X 10.4 or later, and is available as a free download until the final release ships in the Spring of 2008 for $40.
Polk Audio on Friday marked CES with the creation of its first SurroundBar home-theater-in-a-box setup. The SurroundBar 360 DVD Theater involves just two pieces thanks to virtual surround sound effects: a single, bar speaker and an all-in-one console that includes a DVD player as well as a signal amp, an AM/FM radio, and the necessary connections for the TV. The namesake SurroundBar speaker can simulate bass-rich Dolby Digital or DTS 5.1-channel surround without distinct satellites or subwoofers while fitting underneath a flat-panel HDTV.
Fastforward has released an update for Meander, its mapping application for the Mac. The software is used to mark points, plan trips or measure distances on a map, and allows users to pull maps from online sources as well as ones scanned manually. Version 1.2 is a free update, which now lets users create their own custom measurement units, in addition to relying on common standards. The Preferences window in the software has also been reorganized, in order to match the look of the toolbar/unified window interface.
Imation today unveiled its CES lineup and announced its intention to launch into the rapidly expanding solid-state drive business. Signing an agreement with Mtron, Imation says it has co-developed a new line of flash-based hard drives it says will be the world's fastest of its type. The SSD MOBI 3000 reads at an already quick 100 megabytes per second but is said to be more impressive with its 80 megabyte per second write speed. This performance is not just better than most flash drives but also bests fast traditional drives in many key areas such as OS boot time and tasks where constant disk access is important, such as working with large videos, Imation argues.
Apple has become a monopoly, a recent lawsuit against the company alleges. The case was filed by one Stacie Somers, who says that the company's dominance in media players, and online music and video, violates the Sherman Antitrust Act; specifically, the Somers complaint revolves around Windows Media Audio, which is notably unsupported by both the iPod and iTunes, despite the fact that it is one of the most common music formats for sale, and it is said that Apple could easily afford a license from Microsoft. Somers estiamtes the maximum cost of a license at $800,000. Some vendors of WMA tracks include Best Buy, Yahoo, Napster and Virgin Digital.
The One Laptop Per Child project has revealed that Intel has resigned its position from the non-profit group, ending any further teamwork on future projects. Although it had only joined the group in July, the company has been forced out of the group over its refusal to abandon projects that would directly compete with the XO notebook, which forms the backbone of the OLPC team's efforts. Systems like the Classmate PC are considered unacceptable by OLPC founder Nicholas Negroponte both because they may take sales from the OLPC and because they use software other than the XO's custom Linux interface, Intel claims. The Classmate normally uses either a standard version of Linux or Windows XP.
Sling Media today revealed its contribution to CES announcements with the Slingbox PRO-HD, a new version of its highest-end media hub. Upgrades to the device now bring a native ATSC/QAM tuner that lets it pick up over-the-air HD broadcasts and other unprotected sources without a separate set-top box; it also becomes one of the first network media hubs to stream 1080i HD video around the home to Macs or PCs running SlingPlayer software. Sling is also removing the cap on image quality for video streams on the wider Internet: a PRO-HD model on a connection with a very high upload speed (such as Verizon's FIOS fiber optic service) can stream out at near-identical quality, the company says.
Garmin recently introduced a new product called Garmin Mobile PC, a kit that turns laptops and other mobile PCs into portable GPS stations. Garmin Mobile PC uses the same “Where to?” and “View Map” interface found in the Nuvi and StreetPilot product. The software can use Outlook addresses, or a list of nearly 6 million points of interest to find individuals, restaurants, gas stations, and other civic cervices. Garmin Mobile PC uses the company’s new GPS 20x sensor, while the software-only version can function with many third party serial- or Bluetooth-connectable GPS receivers. Garmin Mobile PC will be on display at CES 2008; pricing for the software-only version is $60, while the bundled hardware kit costs $100.
Garmin recently unveiled its Colorado series of handheld GPS units, and the Forerunner 405 wrist-worn GPS device, as well as the super-sized Nuvi 5000 for use in large vehicles. The Colorado 400t uses a 3-inch color screen to display three-dimensional topographic maps, and is pre-loaded with a complete map covering the US. Tracks, waypoints, and geocaches can be wirelessly transferred with other units, and the device’s “Rock n Roller” thumbwheel makes the device easy to navigate. Garmin will show the new lineup at CES 2008, and although a release date was not mentioned, the Colorado 400 series devices sell for $600.
Garmin today unveiled three different Nuvi vehicle GPS systems, including one model that can use voice recognition to navigate the device’s interface. The 260W uses a sunlight-readable 4.3-inch wide touchscreen LCD to display information, and can speak street names. A trademark of the 260 series GPS units is the internal antenna that allows for a thinner design, while its rectangular shape is easy to mount in a vehicle. Garmin’s “Where To?” and “View Map” welcome screens are built-in to the device, providing users with the ability to search for a specific street address or establishment; destinations can also be located by category. Although pricing and availability information were not readily available, Garmin said that they will show the new units at CES 2008.
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Apple to open R&D center in India
A new report says that Apple will be opening a new technology center in Hyderabad, India, helping to boost the city's growing reputation as a tech center. The facility would operate within the WaveRock facility, and create 4,500 new jobs at a cost of around $25 million. In 2015, India surpassed the $1 billion in yearly sales milestone, and Apple has recently received permission to open retail stores in the country under its own control, an exception to rules that usually block foreign ownership. http://zd.net/1SMBVu4
Google killing Picasa starting May 1
Google Photos head Anil Sabharwal confirmed in a blog post today that the search engine giant will be shutting down acquisition Picasa. Support and downloads for the desktop application will terminate on March 15 with the application continuing to work for the time being. The transition to Google Photos truly commences on May 1, with deprecation of some Picasa API calls happening shortly thereafter. Users that have Google Photos access will find their photos already migrated. A mass-download tool for users not wishing to use Google Photos will be available sometime after May 1. http://bit.ly/1SmV2KH
Rogue Amoeba Piezo updated, departing App Store
In order to continue working on audio capture tool Piezo, developer Rogue Amoeba has simultaneously updated the app to version 1.5, and announced that it will pull version 1.2.6 from the Mac App Store. Customers who own the Mac App Store version have a one-time migration process to the Rogue Amoeba-served version. The company notes that the sandboxing restriction placed on Mac App Store versions "effectively stopped our ability to upgrade Piezo in any meaningful way." [8.80MB] http://bit.ly/1PIjz7l
FCC spectrum auction will happen without Google
After throwing its hat in earlier, Google (and associated companies) has declared that it is not participating in this year's FCC spectrum auction. A company spokeswoman said of the auction that "like all those interested in improved connectivity and equitable access, we'll be following the upcoming spectrum auction closely. That said, we have not filed to participate." http://on.recode.net/1oy5LWk
iPad Air 3, iPhone 5se sold Friday after launch?
Reverting the way products are actually released by Apple after an announcement to the way it was a decade ago, reports are circulating that new products revealed at a March announcement will go on sale the Friday immediately following the unveil. Slated to appear at a conjectural Tuesday, March 15 event are a new Apple four-inch phone with more up to date internals currently referred to as the iPhone 5se, and a new iPad Air 3 model with Smart Connector and other enhancements. http://bit.ly/1o7mqiY
Lexmark prevails in toner import appeal
Printer manufacturer Lexmark has won an appeal on the third-party US resale of its printer cartridges originally destined for markets outside North America. The appeals court ruled in a 10-2 vote in favor of Lexmark's demand to stop the sale and against Impression Products, both on the toner cartridge resale matter, as well as a related matter regarding overturning the reseller's refilling one-use cartridges and selling those in the US market. The ruling has ramifications in the tech industry, as well as the pharmaceutical and medical technology markets. Impression Products promises an appeal before the supreme court. http://reut.rs/1SLVmmG
AT&T expands BOGO promo to iPhone 6s
Beginning today, new and existing AT&T customers can purchase a new iPhone 6s and get another one free when adding a second line. Over the weekend, customers must purchase two phones through AT&T Next (one can be an existing number), and add both phones to a qualified plan. AT&T notes that "after three bill cycles or less" the account will start to receive up to $650 spread out over 30 monthly bill credits to offset the cost of the installment plan for the phone. Taxes are due at time of sale. http://soc.att.com/1SLUP4k