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EMI, NY Daily giveaway
Following in the spirit of Radiohead's "pay-what-you-want" offer, EMI is flat out giving away music tracks to subscribers of the New York Daily News. CNET writes that the voucher is good for three song downloads from the labels collection of over 120,000 tracks, including an unreleased track, "It's Love", by Ringo Starr. EMI's promotion will run on this coming Sunday, as well as the one that follows.
Yahoo layoffs, focus shift
Yahoo recently unveiled plans to remove 1000 of its 14,300 employees by mid-February to cut costs and to refine its focus on its major services. The New York Times reports that in light of its fourth quarter earnings, and a dismal forecast of future financials, layoffs will occur in unspecified areas of Yahoo's workforce. While the amount of employees laid off are many, the company said that it would be investing heavily in select areas of business, so individuals effected by the cutbacks are free to apply to the focus areas.
LG Rumor update
Sprint is offering an over-the-air software upgrade for the Rumor by LG that reportedly resolves an issue where the phone's firmware can be erased during startup if certain keys are pressed. Spring says the update also provides important updates to text messaging and "enhances the user experience." There are two ways to obtain the software update: on the phone, go to main menu>settings/tools>tools>update firmware. Alternatively, you can go to a Sprint retail location for assistance in updating the phone software. Company officials said "While we have confidence in the quality of this device, we do encourage Rumor users to take advantage of this simple over-the-air upgrade to ensure that your Rumor by LG is performing at its best."
Ortabe has released NetFinder 3.0, a significant update to the company's file management and automation tool for remote servers and local files. The software supports renaming, copying, moving, deleting, duplicating, creating new files and folders, labeling, commenting, undoing actions and much much more.The types of servers/protocols NetFinder supports for remote file management include: ftp, ftps, ftpsi, sftp, webdav, http and file (local file management). This means you can also connect to your Apple iDisk account. Additionally, NetFinder also integrates Automation Components (using Apple Automator.app).
Entry MacBook Air ships
Users who pre-ordered the entry-level MacBook Air are reportedly getting shipping notices regarding their machines, and are being told that they can expect to receive them on February 1st. This is mere days over the two-week estimate Steve Jobs gave at the Macworld Expo keynote, while users who ordered the upscale model will wait until February 6th. Current shipping times are listed at two to three weeks on the Apple web store.
Aussie Apple change
A contract changed enacted by Apple may have a negative effect on Apple resellers in Australia and New Zealand. The shift would allow retailers to "multi source" Apple products, which means they could buy in tandem from suppliers and Apple. The Sydney Morning Herald reports that Renaissance Corp is expecting the sales volume and profit from its Apple distribution business to fall following signing of the new contract. Changes to suppliers' margin structure will also be phased in between now and October.
Toronto OS X meeting
In brief: We've posted a review of the text editor Jedit X, a Motion templates repository site has been updated, the Toronto OS X integrators meeting has been announced, Great White Software has acquired RBLibrary, and a Final Cut Pro UK Seminar Tour will soon take place ... We've posted a review of Jedit X, a multi featured word processor and text editor designed to create, modify, and open text and RTF (Rich Text Format) documents. The tool can also be used to script and create source code. Jedit X has been around for 11 years and is the most popular text editor in Japan, so you will see a number of Japanese features in the menus. It can save documents as RTF, HTML, Text, Word, and Word XML Documents and shines in its ability to work with other Mac programs.
Two new Apple patents
Apple has won two patents related to its iMovie software and iPod Hi-Fi portable stereo system. One of the patents relates to methods for manipulating a time-based stream of information using a processing system, while the other details the company's iPod Hi-Fi design. Apple's iMovie patent uses references to a time based stream of information as editing tools, enabling the user interface to display only a single time line for aligning reference elements to a visual time based stream of information.
iWork update released
Apple today released updates for iWork, bringing compatibility and performance fixes to the software suite. Notes on the updates are extremely vague, but Keynote 4.0.2 allegedly solves a number of performance issues when playing or exporting presentations. Pages 3.0.2 and Numbers 1.0.2 both received fixes regarding compatibility with Mac OS X, presumably Leopard.
Wrappers sleeves for Air
UK-based Wrappers recently unveiled four new sleeves for the MacBook Air, offered in a number of different patterns and materials. The cases are constructed from various materials, such as linen, canvas, microfibre, and sensory fabric. The Shiny Sleeve has a waterproof, stain-resistant polyurethane shell, and uses a tear-proof lining to protect the MacBook Air. Pricing for the Shiny Sleeve is £35 (~$70); Shiny Sleeve is available from Wrappers' website.
Cheaper data roaming in EU
People are still paying too much for roaming data use in other countries, says Ofcom, the official regulator of media and telecommunications in the UK. The group is pressuring cellular carriers to reduce their charges within the European Union, which can sometimes be prohibitively expensive; Ofcom chief Ed Richards notes that last summer, the average roaming price for 1MB of data was £4.11. "It could cost tens of pounds to download a single PowerPoint presentation," Richards has told the Financial Times.
Everex CloudBook Delay
After missing its original launch date, Everex today let hopeful buyers of its CloudBook micro-notebook know that it would delay the launch of the system from January 25th to February 15th, more than two weeks later than expected. The company has not explained the delay but has not changed the specifications for the miniature portable, which is based around a 7-inch screen, a 1.2GHz Via C7-M processor, and the gOS Linux variant that supplies quick links to web services as well as free productivity apps such as OpenOffice.
U2 manager blames ISPs
Internet service providers should be the focus of blame for continuing music piracy, says the manager for the internationally famous rock band U2. Paul McGuinness, speaking at the current MIDEM conference in Cannes, France, has argued that ISPs should be disconnecting those who download tracks illegally. ISPs have "been at our trough for too long," McGuinness says, and a part of the "shoddy, careless and downright dishonest way" in which artists have been treated in the era of digital music.
XPS M1730 Gains 8800M GTX
Dell has upgraded its XPS M1730 desktop replacement notebook to include two of NVIDIA's GeForce 8800M GTX graphics chipsets in SLI. The custom-order option eclipses the dual 8700M GT that was previously Dell's fastest option and makes a top-spec XPS M1730 one of the fastest portables available for gaming. The Texas PC maker boasts that a top-spec XPS rivals the 3D performance of even high-end desktops and is 49 percent faster than the next-best option for synthetic tests such as 3DMark06.
Mercury Mover 1.1 update
Helium Foot Software today unveiled MercuryMover 1.1, an update to its keyboard-based window modification software, bringing with it customizable hot keys, and several other new features. Users can now move and resize windows using configurable hot keys, which can be set to move windows in increments of 10 or 100 pixels. New users can purchase MercuryMover 1.1 for $25, which is available from Helium Foot Software's website.
Sprint Clearwire WiMAX
Both Sprint and Clearwire are back to discussing a previously-ended deal that would see a shared WiMAX effort, according to people speaking with the Wall Street Journal. In spite of ending talks just last year after failing to come to an agreement, both companies are reportedly once again prepared to explore a deal that would let customers of either Clearwire or Sprint roam on each other's WiMAX networks, saving both companies from having to build out an entire national network themselves. The new strategy would see Sprint's WiMAX service, named Xohm, spun off as a separate entity and merged with Clearwire to create a single, unified service.
EU rules on d/l privacy
As a pan-European policy, telecom companies have no obligation to hand over the personal information of those accused of illegal downloading, the European Court of Justice has ruled. The decision is a response to a Spanish court, which requested guidance in a case involving Telefonica SA and Promusicae, a trade organization for film and music producers. The Associated Press writes that Promusicae had asked for the names and addresses of suspected file sharers, but as the ECJ is now arguing, there is no EU law requiring this information to be handed over for civil cases.
320GB drive upgrade
MCE Technologies has announced the 320GB MobileStor Performance hard drive, an upgrade solution for all MacBook Pro and MacBook systems. Utilizing a 320GB 2.5" internal SATA hard drive upgrade includes an external, portable enclosure which has both FireWire and USB 2.0 interfaces for use with the original 2.5" SATA hard drive, facilitating data transfer. Also bundled are the SuperDuper! cloning/backup software, all tools required for installation, and an illustrated installation manual. The drive features a rotational speed of 5400RPM, a maximum sustained data transfer rate of over 75MB/sec and burst transfer rates of 150MB/sec.
Continental Airlines Wi-Fi
Continental Airlines today joined a previous approach by JetBlue and said it would begin offering Wi-Fi onboard some of its aircraft. As with details revealed shortly after news of the earlier offering, the new LiveTV-backed service will provide travelers with comparatively low-bandwidth Internet features through most of a given flight. Notebooks, smartphones, and other portable devices that support e-mail and instant messaging services through RIM's BlackBerry network or Yahoo's services will be able to communicate with others on the ground.
Matrox GXM software
Matrox Graphic has released a new software utility for Graphics eXpansion Modules (GXMs) operating under Mac OS X. The control panel enables additional resolutions for the DualHead2Go and TripleHead2Go Digital Edition products, offering enhanced multi-display support for compatible Mac notebooks and workstations. GXMs are small black boxes that connect externally to a system's monitor output to achieve an ultra-wide desktop across two or three displays. The software is a a free download available for DualHead2Go Digital Edition and TripleHead2Go Digital Edition.
700MHz Bids Near Key Mark
Individual bids in the 700MHz FCC auction are nearing the amount needed to claim the key airwaves needed for mobile data, according to the communications body's's latest auction results. With almost $7.4 billion of total bids across the entire spectrum as of the end of the 10th round of auctions, the largest bid so far for the key nationwide "C block" license is now approaching $3.4 billion after less than a week of bidding, ensuring that at least one bidder is likely to meet the $4.6 billion mark needed to ensure open access for any device and software on a potential future wireless network. Bids for the just-begun 11th round will have to reach at least the $3.9 billion mark, the FCC says.
WiFi iPhone 1.1.3 hack
An over-the-air hack that updates already-jailbroken iPhones to firmware version 1.1.3 has surfaced, allowing users to update their hacked iPhone or iPod touch without a computer. The update takes up to 45 minutes as it silently brings a hacked iPhone up to date with Apple's latest mobile software, downloading the firmware from Apple over a wireless connection, according to CrunchGear. The update only works for iPhones that are already 'jailbroken,' or that allow users to access the filesystem.
Analyst on iPod growth
Apple's iPod business will likely grow in the future, according to one industry analyst, despite the company's lowest year-over-year unit growth rate in the product's history. "With the iPod user base as its foundation, Apple is establishing a Wi-Fi mobile platform that we believe will spark continued growth in the iPod segment," Piper Jaffray senior analyst Gene Munster wrote in a research note obtained by MacNN. "With 70 percent market share, we believe Apple is in the driver's seat in terms of transforming the portable music market into a portable computing market."
New Panasonic Lumixes
Electronics giant Panasonic today announced a collection of new cameras under its Lumix brand. Among these is the 10.1-megapixel FX35 (right), what the company describes as its first camera with an "ultra-wide" 25mm lens. The lens also features 4x optical zoom, and a maximum aperture of f/2.8, permitting better exposure without necessarily boosting ISO settings. Image quality is likewise improved through a fourth-generation Venus processor, red-eye correction through pre-flashes, and automatic exposure adjustments. The camera should be out in March for $350.
Mustek A950PS Photo Frame
Mustek today signaled its contribution to this week's PMA photography expo. Officially titled the AF-A950PS, the new digital photo frame is designed as much for rooms where music and videos are important as the photos themselves. By using NXT-made flat-panel speakers built into the frame, the A950PS can play MP3 audio at relatively high quality without disrupting the look or the size of the device. The 9.5-inch, 800x480 screen also has enough performance behind it to play AVI, Motion JPEG, and XviD videos at full speed.
ConceptDraw MINDMAP 5.3
CS Odessa today released ConceptDraw MINDMAP 5.3, an update to the mind mapping business productivity software for Mac OS X. The latest revision enables users to create visual eBooks based on mind maps, producing electronic books where all information is presented as a mind map rather than text paragraphs. ConceptDraw MINDMAP 5.3 is priced at $120 and $200 for the personal or professional edition, respectively (system requirements were unavailable).
Hitachi W61H w/e-ink
Japanese carriers KDDI and Softbank are adding a unique Hitachi phone to their lineups, according to multiple reports. The W61H uses a regular, 2.7-inch LCD on the inside of its clamshell design, but this is mirrored by a similarly-sized e-ink display on the back, where most phones would place an OLED screen. This screen is not intended to be practical, however, but instead display one of 95 decorative patterns, matched to the available black, silver or cyan colors.
Motorola May Exit Cell Biz
Motorola may be looking to fold its cellphone business after years of struggling to restore the business to profit, says an investor note from Nomura analyst Richard Windsor. After a damaging quarter that saw Motorola's cellphone sales suffer a 38 percent drop, the company is said to be considering closing the division entirely to stem losses. This would leave the remaining divisions to focus chiefly on government and large-scale business sales, Windsor says. Notably, Motorola would still appear in the mainstream market through its technologies, which include WiMAX handheld chipsets and mobile TV devices.
1/4 of iPhones unlocked
Over 25 percent of those who have bought US iPhones to date are using them on networks other than the intended one, says Toni Sacconaghi of Bernstein Research. Reuters quotes the analyst as basing numbers on discrepancies between Apple and AT&T, the latter of which is the only authorized iPhone carrier in the States. By the end of 2007, some 1.45 million iPhones were "missing in action," built but not subscribed to AT&T. The carrier is believed to have held 480,000 of these back as inventory, but that leaves nearly 1 million -- 27 percent -- unaccounted for.
Orange DRM-Free Rentals
The UK branch of European cellular provider Orange hopes to have music rental services on its handsets without copy protection in as little as half a year, the company's music product director Brenda O'Connell says. Speaking at the MIDEM mobile conference, O'Connell explains that the digital rights management (DRM) that locks down tracks varies widely between computers and cellphones, making it all but impractical to have a unified but device-independent music service without removing DRM entirely.
Moto Samsung lead WinMo
Despite its reputation as one of the most prolific smartphone manufacturers on the market, HTC is shedding marketshare to more narrowly focused companies such as Motorola and Samsung, says internal info leaked from Microsoft. While the maker of phones such as the Touch and Tilt accounted for exactly half of all Windows Mobile smartphones during Microsoft's fiscal 2007, in recent months this has dipped as low as 30 percent; the company is now on roughly equal footing with Motorola and Samsung who both own between 20 and 30 percent on average, the leak claims.
O2 improves iPhone plans
UK carrier O2 has decided to dramatically improve its phone plans, with a particular emphasis on the iPhone, reports say. While owners of other phones will have to wait for their contracts to renew before seeing benefits, existing iPhone owners will be able to switch to expanded plans come February 1st. Those paying for the £35-per-month contract will receive three times their current minutes, and double the number of SMS messages; new is the £45-per-month plan, which will grant the same amount of minutes and texts as the former £55 plan.
Moto W760r at FCC
AT&T will soon add one of Motorola's first 3G-capable budget phones to its lineup, according to an FCC filing. The W760r is a spiritual successor to Motorola's older, rugged V-series phones but will add dual-band 3G Internet access over HSDPA, allowing it to stream live video (including over Video Share calls) and download from music stores at relatively quick speeds. The clamshell will also be one of Motorola's first W-series phones with a 2-megapixel camera and should hold microSD cards up to 4GB in size.
MSI on Future Noteboks
PC builder MSI today outlined many of its goals for designing notebooks in 2008, many of which provide immediate clues as to its upcoming models. Following Warner's choice to drop HD DVD, MSI is likely to do the same with its own HD-capable systems, choosing Blu-ray instead. This will be helped by a slight boost in the average size of a notebook screen to 15.6 inches as well as a switch to LED backlighting on some models, which should improve image quality while helping battery life at the same time.
Low margin on Apple TV
Apple is currently making little to no money on each Apple TV sold, a teardown analysis suggests. The research firm iSuppli has conducted a estimate of the manufacturing costs of the new 40 and 160GB set-tops, and found that after Apple's $70 price cut, the 40GB Apple TV has a margin of just 10 percent, while the 160GB version has a more reasonable 29 percent. Apple normally has product margins closer to 50 percent, and even this does not account for secondary costs such as marketing or distribution.
JVC Everio GZ-HD6
Saving one of its key announcements for the aftermath of the CES expo, JVC this morning revealed two high-end camcorders in its Everio lineup for its home territory of Japan. Both the GZ-HD5 and its premium cousin the HD6 are about 40 percent smaller than the HD7 they replace but output at higher quality than before. The HD6 in particular is one of the first to generate a full-quality HD image: while capturing internally at 1920x1080 interlaced, new hardware allows it to upscale to 1080p on the flywhile maintaining the 60Hz frame rate needed for fast action on a modern HDTV. With HDMI output, videographers can see this image quality without authoring the video on a computer, JVC says.
First Look at PDF Shrink
PDF files may be convenient for storing and sharing files, but they can often be too large to email or share with others. Apago's PDF Shrink solves this problem by condensing PDF files by up to 90-percent with little noticeable loss of quality. The program shrinks PDF files in the same way that compressing graphic files to JPEG or audio files to MP3 works.
Fusion 1.1.1 fixes
VMware today unveiled Fusion 1.1.1, an update to its virtualization client, adding in numerous features and bug fixes. Fusion now remaps hotkeys between the Mac and the virtual machine, equating Command-C with Control-C in the VM, for example. This remapping works for the following keys: Z, C, V, X, P, A, and F. On European keyboards, the Enter key now properly gives the AltGr command, and will not be influenced by NumLock. Fusion 1.1.1 is available for download from VMware's website.
(Updated with pricing) Nikon tonight has been quick to end speculation and has introduced the D60, the successor to both the D40x and D50 starter digital SLR cameras. True to leaks, the camera uses the same 10.2-megapixel resolution as its ancestors but draws on the same EXPEED image processor as the top-end D300 and D3 to improve color balance as well as speed; in JPEG mode, the camera can shoot as many as 100 frames at three frames per second until the memory buffer runs dry. The D60 also comes with both passive (airflow channeling) and active (sensor shake) dust removal systems to keep the image clean despite constant use.
Nikon Coolpix PMA 2008
In addition to its D60 SLR, Nikon tonight has also taken the wraps from six new COOLPIX cameras. At the top, the P60 (shown) straddles the line between regular compacts and more advanced cameras such as Nikon's P5100. Though stopped at 8.1 megapixels and lacking the flash hot-shoe, it improves on the P5100 with both a longer-range 5X optical zoom as well as hardware image stabilization. Using the newer EXPEED image processor also boosts light sensitivity to ISO 2000 while reducing overall noise. The P60 ships in March for $230.
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