Spiderweb Software has announced Avernum 6, the final game in its role-playing series. Set in the world of Avernum, the game takes players to an underground world where a nation of people live inside large tunnels and caverns far below the planets surface. The final chapter has the world of Avernum in chaos, where the mushrooms have withered and died and the people are suffering from hunger. In the midst of the problem the reptilian Slithzerikai have emerged from the low tunnels to battle the weakened people.
Microsoft tonight launched the public version of Silverlight 3, its animation and video plugin for the web. The rival to Flash is the company's first to use hardware graphics acceleration both for 3D and for offloading the work of decoding video from the main processor. Regardless of graphics power, the update is also the first to promise a near-seamless HD video experience: a "smooth streaming" technique that automatically lowers the bitrate to start playback immediately and quickly brings it back up to provide the maximum quality the connection allows.
GenArts has announced a monthly rental option for its flagship plugin effects, Sapphire. The plugins can be rented for $170 per month; far less than the $1699 purchase cost of the plug-in for After Effects or Final Cut Pro. This option is designed to allow artists who work on a project basis to avoid purchasing the costly full license of the Adobe After Effects plug-in or an Apple Final Cut Pro FxPlug. GenArts allows rental users to apply up to two months of rental fees as credit towards purchasing a permanent license of Sapphire.
Newmium has announced yet another internet browser, the Newmium iXBrowser. The browser boasts compatibility with all versions of HTML 4 defined by the World Wide Web Consortium. Offering platform-independent compatibility with all versions of HTML 4 allows website developers to create more consistent cross-platform designs. The Newmium iXBrowser offers compatibility with various operating systems including Mac OS X, Linux, Windows, WinCE, and FreeBSD in 32-bit and 64-bit versions. Newmium claims that the browser not only maintains the same interface throughout each system, but will also display sites the same regardless of operating system.
Creaceed has released the CeedVocal SDK, which allows developers to build speech recognition into their iPhone applications. The CeedVocal SDK is based on acoustic models developed in English, French and German, providing voice activity detection for each of those languages. The software development kit includes a "phonetizer" that recognizes many common words and up to 5000 developer-defined words.
Synium has released its newest version of MacFamilyTree. The application enables users to research their lineage and create family trees that can be displayed in a variety of styles. Version 5.6 improves performance by using multiple processors or cores to complete tasks faster. MacFamilyTree 5.6 also includes a new subtree viewing feature, which shows partial subtrees within a database.
Over one-third of mobile phones are expected to integrate accelerometers by 2010, according to the research firm iSuppli. Widespread adoption of the Microelectromechanical Systems (MEMS) sensors is being driven by popular devices such as Apple's iPhone and the recently-launched Palm Pre. Although the trend continues to develop in the smartphone segment, the technology is also being used in simpler devices.
Zensify (free) collects information from all of a users social networks into a single feed. The application features options for posting and viewing information from popular social networking sites, including, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr, Digg, Delicious, Photobucket and 12seconds. Zensify also includes a built-in search function which allows users to keep track of conversations and topics across multiple networks.
Corroborating earlier reports, an online retailer has already slipped pricing information for the Windows 7 Family Pack and Anytime Upgrade options, according to ZDNet. Although the existence of a Family Pack has been debated, Expercom listed the package with a product code, GFC-00236, and a price of $137. The pack includes three licenses for Windows 7 Home Premium.
Amazon's price cut of its Kindle 2 e-book reader have prompted some in the publishing industry to worry that the online retailer, which is far and away the leading provider of e-books, may put pressure on them to drop the prices for electronic versions of their books for the device, according to a Bloomberg report. Amazon reportedly pays between $12 and $13 to publishers for Kindle editions of books that are on the New York Times bestseller list and sells them for about $10 to customers. Many publishing houses are concerned the giant online vendor will put price pressure on them in order to bump its own profit margins.
A long-delayed update for the Mac version of Quicken has been delayed yet again, says Quicken PR manager Scott Gulbransen. The software is now expected in February 2010, having originally been announced for sometime in 2008. As recently as the last Macworld Expo, the company was forecasting a 2009 launch.
Japan's Sanyo recently announced it would bring a DVR device to market that relies on slot-in hard drives that comply with the iVR (Information Versatile Disk) standard shared with Hitachi. The Repoch will include an integrated tuner for receiving digital terrestrial TV broadcasts to enable viewing recordings on analog broadcast-compatible TVs. This will allow users to keep their outdated analog TVs even though these broadcasts have been discontinued.
Getac on Thursday introduced the smallest and lightest addition to its lineup of rugged notebook PCs with the 13.3-inch 9213. It sports a magnesium alloy case and chassis, while the LCD display and hard drive are shock-mounted to prevent damage in the case of a drop or bump. Taking the resistance idea further is a spill-resistant keyboard, touchpad and remaining surfaces. The tough exterior houses an ultra-low voltage 1.4GHz Intel Core 2 Duo CPU and 1GB of RAM that can be upgraded to 3GB.
US-based Liquid Image is now selling its latest product, the UDCM310 underwater diving mask with a built-in photo and video camera, in Japan via retailer Hanwha. The device sports an integrated 5-megapixel camera module that can capture can capture both video and still images at 720x480 up to 33 feet deep. Power and shutter buttons are integrated into the frame of the camera, which turns off automatically if not recording after two minutes to conserve battery life.
A semiconductor and IT hardware report, produced by Kaufman Bros., is said to indicate that major companies -- including Apple and HP -- will continue solid sales into July despite lower sales than anticipated, following the second quarter ending with growth of 5 to 10 percent quarter-over-quarter. The research group also suggests that notebook and PC sales will maintain strength despite declining stock prices, and continued concerns over unemployment and the economy. Semiconductor companies such as Skyworks, Cypress and Atmel are expected to ride out momentum built on smartphone sales throughout July.
Sony Japan has recently announced its VAIO P netbook will get a WiMAX option by month's end. Pre-orders will begin on July 27th, with the netbook shipping just three days later, on July 30th. The option will add the equivalent of $108 to the price of the VAIO P plus a monthly subscription fee for the service itself. The WiMAX module will allow users to access the Internet away from Wi-Fi at broadband speeds of about 12Mbps. The system in the US and Japan normally has built-in 3G.
ASUS UK has confirmed final specs of the Eee PC T101H netbook tablet, first introduced at this year's CES show, according to a recent ASUSTablet report. The T101H is a larger version of the recently released T91, with a 10.1-inch screen instead of an 8.9-inch display and a corresponding increase in keyboard size as well. That screen will be LED-backlit and support multi-touch inputs, with ASUS promising it will be compatible with native touch support found in Windows 7.
Microsoft's Monday event should mark a more formal debut for the company's Office Web suite, tipsters said on Thursday. Although announced nine months ago, the suite is now said by Neowin to be getting a demonstration. It's not known if Microsoft will commit to a public release at the gathering.
IK Multimedia has released v1.1 of AmpliTube Fender, a bass and guitar effects suite. The software simulates a number of the audio components produced by Fender, including amps, pedals and rack units. Found in the v1.1 patch are three new stompbox add-ons, beginning with a stomp compressor based on the Cyber-Twin SE. The gear produces higher input signal at the amp input stage, and can be controlled with four settings for gain and compression.
A Thursday MobileCrunch report has confirmed that smartphone maker HTC will switch from its proprietary ExtUSB format to the near industry-standard 3.5mm audio jack. The new jack will be included on handsets including and released after the Android-powered Hero, though some devices that have already been announced and due for a release after the Hero will retain the old, proprietary format.
Palm Pre owners are ironically complaining that their smartphones don't have onscreen keyboards, a study by Strategy Analytics found today. Despite Palm having added the QWERTY keyboard in response to gripes about touch-only devices like the iPhone, many users want a software keyboard like Apple's, as Palm's design gives them no choice but to use the hardware solution. The opinion holds even for those who chose the Pre for the physical input, senior analyst Paul Brown says.
Fanurio 2.1 ($60) is a time tracking and billing application designed for freelancers. The software allows users to organize work, track time and create invoices which can be generated into a text or html file using an invoice template. Users can also choose to export data as a CSV file which can then be imported into other applications such as Excel and Numbers. Version 2.1 allows users to change the time format used and includes support for printing documents from the Invoices table. Additionally, a new menu bar item has been added which displays the status of the timer and includes options for controlling the timer. The update has also been localized to German, Romanian, and Spanish, with several more translations in the works. [Download - 12.2MB]
UK wireless provider Orange on Thursday officially confirmed at an expected event that it will be the exclusive provider of the Toshiba TG01 touchscreen smartphone. The 1GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon-powered device will ship to stores on Friday.
Sprint has signed a deal to hand over daily network operations to Swedish firm Ericsson, according to an announcement. Set to last at least seven years, the agreement will see Ericsson manage services, provisioning and maintenance for CDMA, iDEN and wired connections. Although Sprint is expected to maintain full ownership and control of its network, and operate all aspects seen by customers, some 6,000 Sprint workers will find themselves under Ericsson's aegis in the third quarter of 2009.
Dell this morning kicked off its first-ever offerings of fast-ship PCs. Offered under the FastTrack banner, the systems can't be customized but ship by the next business day, eliminating the delay of two weeks or more that often accompanies ordering a system from Dell. The approach is based on the popularity of Dell's custom-order configurations and should be continuously refreshed to mirror what customers actually want.
The US Patent and Trademark Office has published another batch of Apple patent applications, relating to a variety of technologies. Among these is face recognition, which in Apple's description could be used to detect one or more users of a device without requiring active input. The technology could further be used to authorize control, or initiate commands.
app4mac has announced CheckUp 2.5 for Leopard-based Macs, adding an updated user interface, Snow Leopard compatibility and other options. Along with a better system view, there are now options for exporting graph data, for choosing the default application for a document and for using any folder in the duplicates checking tool. app4mac has added an integrated uninstaller as well.
A roadmap of Nikon's plans for 2009 and 2010 has reportedly surfaced through a Czech forum and appears to provide detailed information for all of the company's DSLRs this year. New to the mix is a D700x; the full-frame pro camera would reportedly get the 24.5-megapixel sensor from the D3x but also HD video shooting at 24FPS as well as improvements to autofocusing, self-timed shots and the mirror-up mode. If true, the camera would be launched on October 15th with a host of new lenses, including an all-purpose 24-135mm f3.5-5.6 lens and a 70-200mm f2.8G example.
Trans International has launched 3.5-inch and 2.5-inch Mac Pro hard disk sleds, allowing Mac Pro owners to swap out hard disks and solid state drives. The sleds allow for keeping numerous drives on hand for swapping out -- backing up RAIDs or databases or keeping client projects on separate drives. The SATA-based sleds are available in two configurations, one for 2006/2007/2008- model year Mac Pros and the other for 2009 Mac Pros.
The economic crunch is making a major impact on the viability of solid-state drives in notebooks, according to new research from iSuppli. As prices for the NAND flash memory that form the heart of these drives have in some cases more than doubled -- 128 percent for a 2GB chip -- the costs for the SSDs themselves have gone up proportionately, making it difficult or occasionally impossible to offer an SSD option in a given notebook. The jump is the result of a known shortage triggered by the economy, as companies producing memory deliberately cut production to raise prices and save money.
Electronics retail chain Best Buy and digital video recorder maker TiVo on Thursday announced a partnership that will see Best Buy carry a specially developed TiVo set-top box that will let Best Buy advertise its products and services to TiVo subscribers, among other benefits. What TiVo execs are calling the biggest marketing move in the DVR company's history, will see Best Buy committing to a multi-year deal to advertise, promote and carry the TiVo devices, though no financial details have been released.
Apple has agreed to a recall of first-generation iPod nanos in South Korea, according to the Wall Street Journal. The company was asked to perform the recall in a June 25th motion by the Korean Agency for Technology and Standards, as a result of a number of complaints about batteries overheating or even exploding. "Although the overheating problem doesn't affect the batteries that are being used now in iPod nanos," Apple says in a KATS statement, "concerned customers can get a replacement battery."
VIZIO this morning earned a reprieve from US Customs that cleared its current TV line of possible patent infringements that might have blocked their sale in the US. The government agency made the ruling four months after the US Patent and Trademark Office rejected a patent from Japanese company Funai, which had hoped to use the patent to block US-based VIZIO's sets from reaching stores. Funai is expected to appeal, though VIZIO equally expects to win.
LaCie on Wednesday announced the release of its LaCinema Rugged HD multimedia drive. An upgrade of the original, it can now play 1080p video through any TV with an HDMI port. The drive's 500GB capacity lets users store a large amount of both HD content as well as music and photos. Content is transferred onto the drive via a USB 2.0 connection from Windows and Mac OS X computers, with supported movie codecs that include H.264, MKV, MPEG-4 and WMV9.
(Update with more info) Rogers today became the first cable provider in Canada to offer a full-spec DOCSIS 3.0 Internet service and rolled out a special new cable modem to match. The 50Mbps tier more than doubles the fastest service Rogers has had before and matches both the maximum speed of Comcast's service in the US as well as the pre-3.0 service offered by Videotron in Quebec. The company intends to charge $150 per month but with only a modest increase to the bandwidth cap, which climbs to 125GB. An initial rollout is due for mid-August in the greater Toronto area with other areas to come later.
Sony today said its Internet-aware BRAVIA TVs now have access to Netflix. Both newer sets with support built-in, as well as older sets using the add-on Internet Video Link, can access (but not add to) the Watch Instantly queue and stream movies or TV shows directly to the set. Whether or not it's capable of HD footage isn't clear.
(Update: proven fake) Google's just-announced Chrome OS may have already been spotted courtesy of a leak from a staffer for a part supplier for Acer, which is already confirmed as one of those producing netbooks using the new platform. Installed on an older notebook to prove it doesn't require a new PC, the private beta is extremely minimal and has a Windows 7-like taskbar with a program launch menu and running apps showing on the bar as icons. A search field can be added to the bar.
Nokia today confirmed details of its first rugged phone in recent memory. The 3720 classic meets IP-54 levels of resistance to dust, shock and water splashes with both a hardened, sealed shell and a battery cover that's screwed on. Nokia sees it as an ideal phone for those who regularly go camping or visit the beach, and to match gives it a relatively long talk time (7 hours) and an LED flashlight.
Samsung on Thursday expanded what's possible with very small hard drives with an upgrade to the Spinpoint N line. The N3U first achieves a storage record with up to 250GB of space in a 1.8-inch disk, spreading the data across two platters. The capacity would give portable media players and netbooks the same capacity as a typical 2.5-inch notebook drive but in both a smaller form (smaller than a credit card) and while using 40 percent less power.
(Updated with OWC commentary) Some owners of Apple's latest MacBook Pros with faster 7200RPM hard drives are reporting strange clicking and beeping noises along with performance issues. Though the cause of the problem is unclear, an Apple Support forum has many users suggesting that it is caused by an incompatibility between the Seagate's G-Force protection system and MacBook hardware. Some users have called Apple Support or taken their computers to an Apple Genius Bar both of which have tried fixing the problem by running a "capture" or resetting the computer's PRAM during start up -- neither of these solutions seem to have resolved the issue fully according to users in Apple's support forum.
Now AAPL Stock: 93.4 ( -2.7 )
WhatsApp now handles over 100M calls daily
WhatsApp is celebrating that it is being used for over 100 million calls every day. In a brief notice, the Facebook-owned messaging platform advises the voice-calling feature it rolled out to its users last year now deals with an average of over 1,100 calls initiated per second. Earlier this year, it increased the security of its calls and other messages, by introducing end-to-end encryption on all platforms. http://bit.ly/292HqCX
Adele's '25' album now streaming
Recording artist Adele has "pulled a Kanye" after saying that her current album "25" would not be available for streaming. The seven-month-old record, which has yielded a number of hit singles, is now available for streaming on all the major streaming services, such as Apple Music and Spotify, as of today in most major markets, with worldwide distribution to come. Reportedly, the singer had demanded streaming be limited to paid subscribers -- a condition that has hurt some streamers with artists, who aren't paid royalties for free or trial listens . Apple pays performers its normal royalty rates during its free trial, avoiding the issue -- and having repeated success in both signing up exclusives and placing those exclusives into the top of the charts. http://ti.me/28U7NOu
SanDisk iXpand case has battery, storage
A new iPhone 6 and iPhone 6s case from SanDisk appears to be the "holy grail" of accessories: a stylish and protective case that offers both extra storage as well as the option of extra battery power as well. The iXpand Memory case offers either 32GB, 64GB, or 128GB of additional storage incorporated into the case, and an optional add-on battery pack (sold separately) adds up to an extra day or more of charge. Through the associated iXpand app, camera photos and videos can be automatically stored on the extra storage, optionally password-protected, The cost for the case is (in order of storage capacity) $60, $100, and $130. The battery pack's release data has not yet been announced, but the add-on should retail for an additional $30. http://bit.ly/291epHu
Fifth Hong Kong store to open June 30
The 46th official Apple store in what the company calls the "Greater China" region will open at 10AM local time in Hong Kong's New Town Plaza in the Sha Tin district on Thursday, June 30, according to a new page on Apple's retail website. Despite slowing growth due to economic turmoil in China, the country is still Apple's fastest-growing market. The new story will be the fifth for Hong Kong, a lucrative market for Apple thanks to the high concentration of wealth there and a thriving "gray" market. Normal store hours for the new store will be 10AM to 10PM every day. http://apple.co/291diaT
Apple Music bug bites very short songs
There appears to be a reproducible bug in the current version of iTunes -- version 12.4.1, running on OS X 10.11.5, both the current non-beta versions of the respective software -- that causes a streamed song to become "stuck" in endless buffering if the streamed item just before this happened was 60 seconds or less in length. The problem appears to stem from code in iTunes that signals the next track to start downloading one minute before the currently-playing track is done, and thus songs shorter than one minute don't trigger the download. Locally-stored music is unaffected by the bug, and the problem does not appear to exist in either the macOS Sierra developer beta or versions of iTunes earlier than 12.4, and does not affect the iOS Music app at all. http://bit.ly/291cN0l
Walmart Pay expands to 15 states
Walmart, one of the key progenitors of the failed CurrentC mobile payment system that was distinguished from Apple Pay by its ability to collect and share customer financial and buying data among its participants, has expanded the soft rollout of its alternative solution "Walmart Pay" to an additional 15 US states following a pilot program in Arkansas and Texas last month. Walmart continues to resist adding Apple Pay. The system, built into the Walmart app for iOS and Android, works with a complicated system of the camera scanning a purchase code at the register, then generating a QR code which is then scanned by the register. The system is available now in Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, North Carolina, North Dakota, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Virginia, and Washington, DC. http://apple.co/28SqZfu
Amazon refreshes entry-level Kindle
Amazon has added a new Kindle to its ebook reader range, one that is thinner and lighter than the previous entry-level model. Offering a six-inch 167-dpi touchscreen display, a doubled 4GB of storage, and an option for a white casing, the new model also adds in the ability to export highlights and notes to an email account as a PDF. Two versions of the all-new Kindle are available, priced at $80 including "Special Offers" and $100 without. http://amzn.to/28Q4c3R