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Apple lays off 174 in CA
Despite one of its best quarters ever, Apple on Thursday cut 174 sales jobs at its Elk Grove campus. The Business Journal reports that all affected employees -- some of whom were part of the company's telesales team and others who were online chat representatives -- were offered the option to relocate to location in Austin, Texas, or apply for another position at Apple in Elk Grove; however it was not clear why Apple chose to reduce its sales force as many predict a bright future with Macs sales growth outpacing the PC industry. Last year the company was searching for workers to man its iPhone support team in the Sacramento area.
Hi-Def media center
Mvix on Thursday launched an ultra-compact HDD-based, portable media player: the new high-definition Mvix MV-2500U media decoder supports the small 2.5-inch hard drive, while including key features of its predecessors like MX-780HD or MX-760. The black device, which can support HDDs as large as 250GB, measures under 5x3x0.5 inches; it uses a 2.5-inch PATA / IDE HDD and when connected to the PC, it works like a standard external USB 2.0 hard drive; however, it ships with an IR remote control to allow playback of standard or high definition digital video (480p, 720p, 1080i) in over a dozen file formats, including MPEG-1, MPEG-2, and MPEG-4, DVD (VOB, IFO), DivX (3/4/5/6), Xvid, BivX, VCD (DAT) for both PAL and NTSC systems.
Apple TV direct purchases
Apple on Thursday quietly enabled its Apple TV set-top device, in the wake on this morning's movie announcement, to allow owners of the device to purchase movies directly, without the use of a computer. iLounge reveals that the update was automatically applied, without needing an entire system upgrade. Apple also added a "Top Sellers" category to the "Top Movies" menu, which shows the most popular purchased titles.
Intel ramps Atom chips
On the heels of publicized supply shortages, Intel says it is ramping up prerelease production of its Atom mobile processors, which are designed for smaller notebooks (and ultra compact desktops). Code-named Diamondville, Intel's 45-nanometer chip won't be officially released until June, but reports are indicating that the company is filling less than 40 percent of requests for the new chip; however, the company says it is trying to cope with the demand. Company spokesman Bill Calder told Computerworld that several PC makers plan to announce in June that they're working on Diamondville-based products, but those products are not expected until the third or fourth quarters and some manufacturers such as ASUS have forsaken the Atom chip to be first to market with new micro-notebooks.
Expression Studio 2 Mac
Microsoft on Thursday unveiled Expression Studio 2, and with it, Expression Media 2 for the Mac platform. The digital asset management solution for photographers and other creative professionals adds support for the latest file formats including RAW, provides geotagging functionality; it will ship with Microsoft Office 2008 for Mac Special Media Edition come mid-May. Expression Media allows users to create media databases containing pictures, movies, and audio files for over 100 supported media formats. Microsoft Expression Media 2 for Mac is currently in a 30-day trial, and will be available with Office for $500.
DAZ 3D has released DAZ Hexagon 2.5, the newest version of its popular 3D polygonal and subdivision modeling software. The new release offers a sculpted primitive tool allowing users to model and import 3D objects into Second Life, enhanced UV-mapping and freehand brush modeling, and ambient occlusion. The tool's freehand brush modeling capabilities provide displacement brushes to refine 3D models by smoothing, pinching, and inflating the geometry and adding high-resolution details. A complete UV-mapping module including UV-Unwrap enables 3D artists to easily apply UV-maps on 3D objects. New 3D paint tools allows users to choose from a large choice of predefined textures and apply textures using brushes and imported textures.
ShadesCases for iPhone
In brief: We have a review of iPlayMusic, ShadesCases for the iPhone have been released, the new iMacs have been benchmarked and a pink version of OtterBox is coming soon ... We have posted a review of iPlayMusic, which provides a Step-by-step Guide and QuickTime videos that show you the anatomy of a guitar, how to hold and tune it, plus many pages of chords and fingerings along with different music styles. Each section of the guide is matched with video, so that you can read and see exactly what you need to know. You can also export the videos to iTunes, to load onto your iPod. This is a handy feature so that you can review material on the go.
ProjectForum 6.1 ($80) a wiki-based software application that supports collaboration within and between professional workgroups. Version 6.1 introduces a new "mail to wiki" feature, and improves support for outgoing email notifications. This version also includes many smaller enhancements and bug fixes. CourseForum 6.1, a version of the ProjectForum application targeted for online learning applications, was also released. [Download - 2.4MB]
MacBreakZ 4.8 ($30) Personal Ergonomic Assistant designed tpromote healthy and productive computer use by reminding the user ttake a break. Based on your actual keyboard and mouse use and the time you have spent in front of the screen, MacBreakZ suggests rest and microbreaks at appropriate intervals. The new release adds Apple Help Book format documentation for mobile users. Previous versions relied exclusively on online documentation. [Download - 5.2MB]
Agenda 4.0.2 ($40) an application that keeps track of your events and tasks, lets you enter your thoughts, and easily create calendar or journal websites. This update makes further improvements and fixes to the iCal import feature based on user feedback. [Download - 4.4MB]
Today 1.0.1 ($15) a event and task management application for Mac OS X. Today shows you all the events and tasks that are stored in Apple's iCal in a small, easily navigable window. Today 1.0.1 is a maintenance release that addresses several minor issues reported users who downloaded the application since launch last week. Today 1.0.1 also adds the ability to create new tasks without a due date. [Download - 1.2MB]
Vox 1.2 ($40) provides natural-sounding voices for multiple languages that work with virtually any Speech Manager compliant Mac OS X application. This release adds a pronunciation editor that allows users to add abbreviations or change the pronunciation of words. It also introduces a number of new voices and languages: Eliska and Sabrine for Czech, Ania for Polish, Snorri for Icelandic, Sanna for Finnish, Elin for Swedish, and Baris and Ceren for Turkish. The Czech, Polish, Icelandic and Turkish voices require Mac OS X 10.5. The other voices require 10.3.9 or later. [Download - form]
TubeStick Hybrid in US
Equinux on Thursday unveiled the TubeStick hybrid, a new USB television receiver that allows users to watch both analogue and digital broadcasts on their Mac. The receiver can decode over-the-air ATSC and Clear QAM signals, as well as capture from a variety of analogue sources, such as game consoles or other Composite/S-Video connectable devices. Equinux is selling the TubeStick Hybrid for $130, which is available from its website and Apple retailers.
First Look: 1Password
Everyone knows the importance of passwords. The problem is that the more websites you use, the more separate passwords you may need for each site, such as one for your Amazon.com account, and another for your Yahoo e-mail. Remembering a single password is easy, but the more you need to remember, the harder it becomes. What most people do is choose a single, easy-to-remember password, and use that on every website, which drastically lowers their security. A better solution is to create difficult passwords that are unique for each page; to make this task easy, consider using a program like 1Password.
Blu-ray victory hollow?
A new report shows the Blu-ray disc player sales are falling, despite Toshiba dropping its HD DVD format players back in February. The sales of Blu-ray disc players were expected to skyrocket but a NPD Group study found the opposite. US sales of standalone Blu-ray players fell 40 percent from January to February, still in the midst of the HD DVD fall, before increasing by just two percent in March. This leads many to believe the price of Blu-ray players and media still isn't low enough for mainstream adoption.
Keynote Jam for Keynote
Jumsoft on Thursday unveiled Keynote Jam, a collection of 56 high quality 3D rendered images ideal for use in Apple's Keynote presentation software. The collection includes a number of colorful icons, such as checkmarks, a globe, several Apple-inspired designs, as well as a plethora of other symbols, tools, and shapes. Jumsoft also claims the icons work with Microsoft Powerpoint and graphics applications, and are available for free from the company's website.
OakTree Bible add-ons
Developer OakTree has released two new add-on packages for its flagship Bible research software, Accordance. The app lets users compare multiple translations of the Bible, as well as the original Greek and Hebrew texts; maps and timelines let users compare stories with a historical context. The first add-on is the Anchor Yale Bible Dictionary, which contains over 6,000 entries by "hundreds" of scholars, and was first published in print in 1999. The digital Accordance version is currently being sold for $249.
MS Move on Yahoo Soon
Microsoft will take action on Yahoo's ultimatum rejection soon, company chief Steve Ballmer has said at a presentation for his firm's employees attended by Silicon Alley Insider. He acknowledges that Microsoft has missed its deadline for altering its strategy but adds that a maneuver will come in "very short order." This could include both a hostile attempt and the previously mentioned willingness to walk away if pursuing Yahoo proves fruitless.
LG Prada in Japan
Fashion design firm Prada on Thursday said it would launch its LG Prada phone in Japan, signaling one of the few carrier-based releases for the touchscreen device outside of Europe. The phone will be paired up with dominant carrier NTT DoCoMo and will primarily be sold from Prada's own stores rather than cellular or electronics shops. Few details of the local phone are available, though the handset is likely to include some level of 3G support to handle Japan's networks and should keep the 2-megapixel camera of the original.
Parallels Server Beta 4
Parallels has released the fourth beta of its Server for Mac software. The program provides hypervisor-based server virtualization, which helps save costs by supporting multiple platforms through the same hardware. Beta 4 is notable for reintroducing Leopard Server virtualization, which had been temporarily removed. The upgraded beta means that Leopard Server can once again be run under a virtual machine on XServe systems, or any other compatible Apple hardware.
IronKey 8GB USB drive
IronKey on Thursday revealed a higher-capacity version of what it calls the world's most secure flash drive. Like all IronKey USB drives, the 8GB version is tamper resistant and features military-grade encryption software. The newest IronKey comes pre-loaded with portable Firefox, IronKey Password Manager, RSA SecurID and a Secure Sessions service. The included software allows for secure web browsing that works like an instant and portable VPN (virtual private network), among other secure actions.
Calling, cooling patents
Three Apple patent applications have surfaced at the US Patent and Trademark Office, addressing two drastically different technologies: conference calling and hardware cooling. In regards to the first Apple suggests that most cellphones have unnecessarily complex key sequences for establishing conference calls, and instead proposes a simpler, more graphically heavy interface. Notably though the patent does not depict the iPhone and its current conferencing scheme, but rather something based on the traditional iPod clickwheel.
BlackBerry Storm Rumor
Research in Motion has likely already picked out the name for its touchscreen BlackBerry, say those investigating the company's web practices. The site address BlackBerryStorm.com has already been registered by a confidential party as of late 2007 and has since by followed by registrations of several international and mobile domains, suggesting an active attempt by RIM to secure the names before an official launch.
Samsung on Thursday has revamped its Blu-ray home theaters with the advent of the HT-BD2S. A close equivalent of the BD2T, the 7.1-channel S includes the same Blu-ray player as its predecessor but replaces the tall, floor-standing speakers of the original with compact satellites that are better-suited to wall mounts or shelves.
Creative facing lawsuit
Creative is facing a class-action lawsuit that is alleging the consumer electronics maker misled customers with inaccurate capacity claims for its portable media players. The lawsuit seeks $900,000 for attorney fees and $5,000 for each plaintiff. Those who purchased a hard-drive based Creative player between May 5, 2001 and April 30, 2008 and can prove it are eligible to be part of the lawsuit.
T-Mobile 3G Active
T-Mobile's 3G cellular service has gone live and includes the data in at least some areas, according to some user reports from subscribers at HowardForums. Tests in New York City's Brooklyn borough using phones already capable of supporting the carrier's unique 1,700MHz UMTS Internet service show downloads at 300Kbps or more, pushing past the 200Kbps or less normally available on the EDGE (2G) network. Data can also pass through at the same time as calls -- a feat normally impossible with EDGE, which blocks phone service during heavy use.
Hitachi UltraThin TVs ship
Hitachi has announced that its UltraThin LCDs, first announced at January's CES expo, are now beginning to ship in American versions. Their name derives from their thickness, which measures only 1.5 inches at the deepest point; this may come at a cost of screen size however, as only 32, 37, 43 and 47-inch models are planned. The sets are further divided into regular V (UltraVision) and high-end X (Director's Series) models, though aside from an extended warranty, Hitachi has not specified what makes the Director's Series special.
New Motorola ZN5 info
A Chinese website claims to have obtained some of the first detailed images of Motorola's ZN5, a collaboration with Kodak. The focus of this is the phone's five-megapixel camera, which KeySJ says it can confirm has a xenon flash for better power. Also in place is an unusually large lens cover, which offers protection against dust and impact damage that most cameraphones currently lack. The phone may even be capable of capturing RAW files, something typically reserved for professional-grade cameras.
Hoping to solve many problems with modern TV at once, Sezmi today unveiled a self-titled set-top box that it says accommodates new and old media alike. The hub will offer streaming and downloadable Internet content but also serve as a receiver and recorder that expands on conventional TV. Viewers can watch traditional cable or satellite signals but will also have the option of picking up digital over-the-air shows; a unique service will ideally see some otherwise cable-only shows appear on unused wireless space for a subscription that will cost half as much as for conventional services.
Piper on Apple questions
Apple will remain fairly conservative in terms of who it targets in future, but should continue to expand on technological possibilities, says the analytical firm Piper Jaffray. In spite of the iPhone's forthcoming enterprise support, and some continued efforts at business outreach, Piper notes in a list of "unanswered questions" that Apple insists it is primarily a consumer-focused company, and will continue to focus on related products like the iMac and the iPod. Apple realizes that "every consumer is likely [a] PC user at work," according to Piper.
Curve and Glyde for May 9
Verizon will launch two of its more anticipated high-end phones within a week, according to separate leaks. Reported sources for Engadget say the company's silver adaptation of the BlackBerry Curve 8330 is now set to appear on May 9th, more than a month after the company first revealed the phone with an unspecified launch date. The originally suggested $270 price will be intact after obtaining a contract and rebate. Subscribers will also have the option of picking up the device for $440 without an agreement.
free video chat
ooVoo has launched a Mac version of its cross-platform video chat solution that allows people to connect for free with both Mac and PC users across the internet. ooVoo 22.214.171.124 features the ability to send and receive video messages, exchange files and text chat messages as well as import contacts from other programs. The company says that ooVoo was developed with video at its core for a richer communication experience with high quality video and reduced video delay, clear audio and better lip synchronization. ooVoo’s multi-party video chat offers resolution of 320x240 at up to 30 frames per second using a standard broadband internet connection; it requires only 128 Kbps (up and down) of throughput, which it claims is "less than half required by competitors for a one to one video chat."
Steve Jobs in TIME 100
Apple CEO Steve Jobs has secured a place in 2008's TIME 100, a list of who various guest contributors to the magazine consider the most influential people in the world. Barbara Kiviat describes Jobs as "great at playing the countercultural icon," championing products like the Mac and the iPhone in face of needless industry standards; in reality he is a "canny CEO," Kiviat argues, who "knows how to sell product." It was Jobs and not Steve Wozniak who focused on marketing the original Apple computer, and Jobs' efforts have led to approximately $24 billion in annual sales, supporting 22,000 workers. Stock value is said to have risen by more than 70 percent in the last year.
Startup firm ZeeVee today offered up an unusual take on media streaming hubs with the ZvBox (link active soon). Rather than operate on a traditional home network, the device draws on the raw VGA (or adapted DVI) video output from a computer as well as a user's existing cable TV wiring; linking the two with a ZvBox automatically creates a new 1080i HD station in an unoccupied cable channel that can then be accessed by any HDTV in the home.
Vodafone's Internet plans
Vodafone UK on Thursday announced it would add 'unlimited' access to the Internet and email to its monthly cell phone plans as it tries to garner a larger share of the country's highly competitive cellular market. The world's largest mobile telecommunications network company does in fact limit the plan to 500MB per month, as per its fair usage policy. The provider noted use of its Vodafone Mobile Internet service has grown rapidly since its launch last summer, with users accessing popular networking sites, news sites and search engines most often.
MozyHome for Mac ships
Mozy has released a final version of MozyHome for Mac 1.0, what it calls the "industry's first" unlimited online backup service for the Mac. The service, which boasts more than 700,000 users and 6.2 billion backed up files, allows users to transparently backup files over the internet -- up to 2GB of online backup absolutely free (and no expiration date) or $5 per month for unlimited online backup capacity. Mozy protects photos, music, videos and other files types from hard drive crash, accidental deletion, natural disaster or theft. Files are encrypted with 448-bit Blowfish encryption and transferred via a 128-bit SSL connection.
Aussie iPhone confirmed?
The iPhone is indeed coming to Australia, an anonymous source is said to be confirming. CNET is citing an "industry insider," who claims that an Australian iPhone launch is expected in the last week of June, and with the regional carrier Optus. The company is expected to make the announcement in mid-May, just a few weeks before Apple's WWDC conference on June 9th, where a 3G version of the iPhone is expected to be publicly revealed. The source says he cannot confirm that Australia will get the 3G phone, but that Optus is expecting it regardless.
Garmin nuvifone Price Leak
Garmin's highly touted nuvifone may cost $100 more than its Apple rival at AT&T, according to a survey passed along to Engadget. The navigation device maker is gauging customer responses to its price strategy and is currently suggesting that its GPS-enabled cellphone should sell for $500 with a two-year contract, or $100 above the price of a standard iPhone.
Dell XPS 730 H2C
Dell on Thursday refreshed its very highest-end gaming desktop with the launch of the XPS 730 H2C. Like the 720 H2C it replaces, the new model earns its name through a custom watercooling arrangement that allows for factory-overclocked, quad-core Core 2 Extreme processors. The new design is more efficient than the last and includes both dynamic speed that throttles cooling down in less demanding conditions and extra fan cooling for the CPU voltage components. A new coldplate both helps cool all four CPU cores and also helps ramp up the front side bus beyond stock levels.
Apple has confirmed earlier reports and announced that starting this week, at least some movies are being released on the iTunes Store the same day as their retail DVD launch; previously, intentional delays on the part of studios blocked iTunes sales until weeks after DVD shipment. Deals have been secured with most major studios, including Disney, Lionsgate, Warner Bros., Paramount, Universal, Sony and 20th Century Fox. Also included are Image Entertainment and First Look Studios. Some other studios remain absent, notably MGM.
Adobe Open Screen Projecta
Adobe this morning announced the Open Screen Project, an initiative that will derestrict some of the formatting behind Flash (and ultimately AIR) animation with mobile devices. The change will eventually remove limits on using normal SWF files as well as videos in F4V or FLV, and will see Adobe publish both the porting layer for Flash and the Flash Cast protocol. The move is aimed at helping developers scale the format down to handhelds, including cellphones and larger Mobile Internet Devices; it also establishes a more consistent web experience beyond the computer, according to Adobe.
1m FCP licenses sold
Apple on Thursday said that it has no plans discontinue its popular Final Cut software for video editing and post-production, after rumors began circulating at NAB that the company had plans to sell the software. Moving to quash rumors, the company told TVB Europe that the Apple had sold its millionth Final Cut Pro license and that its new Final Cut Server software is the company's latest addition to the product family: "I can categorically state, on the record, that is not the case," said Richard Townhill, Apple's director of marketing for professional video applications. The report also cites research by SCRI noting that Apple took 49 percent of the US professional editing market in 2007, while Avid took just 22 percent.
iTunes movie deal coming
Days after celebrating iTunes' fifth anniversary, Apple on Thursday is expected to announce a breakthrough movie distribution deal that would allow it to sell new releases at the iTunes Store, offering a digital content delivery alternative to DVD sales. The new agreement will include major studios such as Fox, Walt Disney Studios, Warner Bros., Paramount, Universal, Sony Pictures, Lionsgate and New Line as well as smaller boutiques such as Magnolia and Image Entertainment, but will leave out new titles from MGM, the report said. The Hollywood Reporter notes that the move would allow a broad slate of top-shelf films to be offered day-and-date with home video releases, potentially cannibalizing DVD sales, while simulataneousl putting "significant" pressure on iTunes competitors ranging from Amazon's Unbox to Microsoft XBox Live Marketplace.
T-Mobile 3G voice only
T-Mobile's impending unveiling of its 3G network will reportedly be voice only initially, with data communications to follow later. The news comes in a note received by Engadget, which goes contrary to most competing providers. Cellular companies such as Cingular, Verizon, and Sprint all have their own 3G network segments that either went up as data card-only, or as a simultaneous release of both data and voice services.
AT&T Mobile TV with FLO
AT&T and Qualcomm's MediaFLO on Thursday announced that its new AT&T Mobile TV with FLO service is expected to available on the May 4 along with two exclusive handsets: the Vu from LG and the Access from Samsung. First announced in late March, AT&T will offer TV-quality programming with exclusive channels (PIX and CNN Mobile Live) as well as content from from leading news and entertainment brands: CBS Mobile, ESPN Mobile TV, FOX Mobile, NBC 2Go, NBC News 2Go, MTV Networks’ COMEDY CENTRAL, MTV and Nickelodeon.
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