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Hands On: Ortelius map-making software (OS X)

1 hour ago | Posted in: software, Graphics/Web Design

Ortelius is map-making software designed to be used by anyone -- from the amateur wanting to show you where the fire exits are, to the cartographer making maps for tourists. If you're doing this for a living, or at high resolutions for print publishing, then there are Geographic Information System applications and there are even fractal coastline-generating apps. Ortelius, by Mapdiva, is more for the non-specialist -- and it's made by the same company that does the similar but more general illustration package Artboard.

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Gmail reportedly inaccessible in China after authorities block service

2 hours ago | Posted in: security

China has blocked Gmail, preventing users in the country from accessing the email service, according to reports. Starting from December 26, Chinese authorities have reportedly added Gmail URLs to the "Great Firewall," in what is believed to be an attempt by the country's government to reduce Gmail and Google's prominence in the region, on top of earlier censorship efforts.

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Weekly Game Replay: Nintendo patent disputes, Ubisoft game fine print

14 hours ago | Posted in: gaming

Every Sunday, Electronista and MacNN offer up a single article with some of the significant happenings in the video game industry for the previous week. In this edition of the Weekly Game Replay, we take a look at Nintendo winning two patent disputes, the catch with free game offer for Assassin's Creed Unity issues, new details on Final Fantasy XIV: Heavensward, Resident Evil HD cross-buy, and expansion of PlayStation Now to non-Sony devices.

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Hands On: Peggle Blast (iOS)

18 hours ago | Posted in: gaming, iPhone apps, iPad apps

When PopCap Games released the casual-puzzle game Peggle for the PC in 2007, it was an instant hit. Somewhere between pachinko and bagatelle, the game has seen success across a number of games in the series and multiple platforms. Now Peggle Blast has made its way to iOS. How does Peggle Blast stand up against the classic version?

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Aereo bankruptcy auction approved for week of February 20

19 hours ago | Posted in:

Legally defunct over-the-air television streaming company Aereo has been given permission to sell its assets and technology in an auction. The Manhattan US Bankruptcy Court ruled this week that the sale would happen, under strict supervision by the broadcasting industry. The broadcasters will receive weekly updates on the process, and have the ability to block any sale that to participants they don't like for any reason shortly after the conclusion of the auction.

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Sony accused of pirating music for use in The Interview soundtrack

20 hours ago | Posted in: security, audio

Besides Sony Pictures' feature The Interview attracting the ire of both the North Korean government and hacker group "Guardians of Peace," it is also irritating a South Korean musician. Sony has used singer Natasha Shanta Reid's (also known as Yoon Mi Rae) "Pay Day" song in the movie without negotiating rights, or paying the artist in any way for its use. A lawsuit is pending.

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Hands On: Application Wizard 3.5 (OS X)

21 hours ago | Posted in: troubleshooting, software

Hand on heart, we were not certain what the point of Application Wizard was when we got started. Ostensibly, the app is meant to make it quicker for you to open applications, which is fine except we have Apple's own Spotlight to do that. It's intended to make it very fast switching between apps but if you've not yet discovered what happens when you hold down the Apple key and press Tab, do that now and you'll never forget how useful it is. Application Wizard by developer Mabasoft, seems to duplicate many features we have on our Macs or in some of the most popular utilities. However, with use, we were won over by how much it does and what annoyances it solves.

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More iOS App deals for those last-minute gifts (updated Saturday)

Sat December 27, 2014 | Posted in: education, gaming, iPhone apps, Apple, iPad apps

Although we have mentioned some app bargains in our "beyond the last minute" gift guide this morning, the elves at MacNN and Electronista have been hunting up some additional discounts by shaking the App Store tree and seeing what falls out. We found a few more, so click through to save a bundle on some awesome app deals -- and don't forget to check back with us regularly for DealNN reports, Apple refurb store bargains, and our usual Friday Deals all year long!

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Hands On: iStat Menus 5 (OS X)

Sat December 27, 2014 | Posted in: computers, troubleshooting

This is a Mac troubleshooting app that once you've used it to track down one problem, you'll simply leave it running all the time. It gives you at-a-glance access to details about your Mac that vary from a little bit geeky to very geeky – but always useful. This is not something every user will need and it's not something that should come supplied on every Mac, but you'll wish it were. The latest iStat Menus is one utility that gives you immediate and constantly updated details of what your Mac is doing. It tells you how fast you're uploading to the internet and how much, it tells you how very much more you're downloading from there too. Then when you're trying eke out a little longer battery power on a MacBook, it will tell you which applications are using the most energy.

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Editorial: Seeing Sony's 'The Interview' is hardly patriotic

Fri December 26, 2014 | Posted in: industry, security

To much fanfare, and terrible reviews, Sony Pictures finally released The Interview -- a contentious, and some say trite, light comedy vehicle where a pair of bumbling reporters are recruited by the CIA to assassinate the leader of North Korea. Conventional media, and governmental figures, have put this forth as a victory for the US' right to freedom of expression, and a defiant Sony agrees. However, viewing the picture isn't the act of defiance and patriotism that Sony wants you to think it is - in fact, viewers are now supporting a company that has called for censorship of journalists and US citizens alike, in the interest of corporate secrets.

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Apple Japan to start 'Lucky Bag' promotion on January 2

Fri December 26, 2014 | Posted in: Apple

Apple Japan will begin its traditional promotion for Japanese retail buyers, known as Fukubukuro or "Lucky Bags," starting on January 2, the company has announced. The promotion involves customers buying one of several "grab bag" gift boxes for a set price -- last year it was about 36,000 yen, or roughly $300 in current US dollars -- that could contain very valuable gifts, and usually at least top the value of the list price. Some of the boxes contained iPads or MacBook Airs, for example.

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Forums: 27-inch iMac problems and more

Fri December 26, 2014 | Posted in: computers, troubleshooting, software, upgrades/storage, Apple

Yesterday in the MacNN forums, one Dedicated MacNNer started having problems booting their 27-inch iMac. After trying a variety of methods to get it to boot, they turned to the forums for some advice. On his quest to fix a problem with an unresponsive 13-inch MacBook Pro, "Thorzdad" asked fellow forum-goers for some advice.

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Apple deals: Save up to 22 percent on select iMacs and MacBooks

Fri December 26, 2014 | Posted in: computers, Apple

Right now at Apple's online store, save up to 22 percent on select iMac and Macbook computers, including the refurbished 3.2GHz, 27-inch iMac that's dropped an impressive $450 in price, and is available for only $1,549. Features range from 8GB of RAM to a Nvidia GeForce GTX 675MX graphics card with 1GB of memory, and include a 1TB hard drive, as well as a quad-core Intel Core i5 processor. Priced significantly lower, at only $1,199, is the refurbished 21.5-inch, 2.9GHz iMac, which offers savings of up to $300, and comes complete with the same 8GB of RAM, a 1TB hard drive, and quad-core Intel Core i5 processor as the 27-inch model.

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Amazon lays claim to 10 million new Prime members over holiday

Fri December 26, 2014 | Posted in: industry

In a release today, Amazon claims that the company's 20th holiday season has brought "record growth" to the Amazon Prime subscription service, despite a price hike to $100 per year earlier in 2014. Amazon reports that more than 10 million new members worldwide tried Prime for the first time, with nearly 60 percent of customers shopping on a mobile device. Other highlights from Amazon for the holiday point to the Fire TV Stick being the fastest-selling Amazon device ever, expansion of Sunday delivery to thousands of US cities, and delivery to 185 countries.

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DealNN: HDTVs, wireless keyboards, and more

Fri December 26, 2014 | Posted in: upgrades/storage, accessories

With the new year right around the corner, it's time for Tigerdirect.com's End of the Year Clearance Event, featuring the Seiki 65-inch Class 2160p Ultra LED HDTV. Currently priced at $1,000, this HDTV has dropped an impressive $2,500 off its once $3,500 list price, and includes a $100 mail-in-rebate that lowers the cost even more, down to $900. The Seiki HDTV comes with three HDMI ports, a 120Hz refresh rate, 4K signal compatibility, and a maximum resolution of 3840 x 2160. Shipping rates start at only $30, but sales tax applies for residents of Florida, Illinois, Texas, and North Carolina.

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Apps: Duplicate Annihilator, Airfoil, GarageSale

Fri December 26, 2014 | Posted in apps

    2.4MB

    Duplicate Annihilator 5.5.1 ($8)

    Duplicate Annihilator can scan an entire iPhoto library and identify any duplicate images stored within. All of the duplicates are marked according to the users preferences, or can be sent directly to the trash. Version 5.5.1 fixes a bug that caused the software to freeze on large albums.

    15.9MB

    Airfoil 4.8.12 ($25)

    Airfoil is a software utility that can send audio files to AirPort Express units and Apple TVs, as well as other Macs and PCs. The v4.8.12 update includes several improvements, as well as a fix for a problem that caused Airfoil to disconnect when a speaker’s Bonjour record disappears. An AppleScript bug where multiple Airfoil Speakers Touch instances were not properly uniquely identified has also been corrected.

    43.7MB

    GarageSale 6.9 ($40)

    GarageSale allows users to create eBay auctions from their desktop. Users can choose from over 140 free listing designs, then add any details and upload up to 10 images per auction free of charge to the GarageSale Image Service. In the latest release the listing selection panel for Relist and Review operations has been improved. A problem with the built-in updater when running OS X 10.10 has also been resolved, along with a crash that occurs when adding folders from the start auctions panel.

    6.1MB

    Quicksilver 1.2.2 (free)

    Quicksilver is a Mac utility that provides users with quick access to applications, contacts, music, and other data. By creating its own catalog based only on selected parts of a hard drive, Quicksilver is able to locate and display items matching a search very quickly. A crash that occurred in Yosemite when loading certain icons has been resolved with this update.

    17.5MB

    MegaSeg 5.9.4 ($100)

    MegaSeg is a self-contained DJ music mixing and radio automation application for the Mac. The software includes tools for mixing songs, transitioning between songs, triggering sound effects, and more. The update introduce a new sound engine with higher quality pitch-locking, seamless looping, and hot swappable output devices. Additionally, new presets have been added for Denon MC2000 and MC3000 controllers, and an issue where some cover art would not display on Yosemite has been fixed.

 
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Review: DoxieGo portable scanner (Windows, OS X)

Fri December 26, 2014 | Posted in: peripherals, digital imaging

Sometimes, people need to scan things, but having a computer at hand to do so isn't exactly feasible. Maybe it's the home of a relative that lives on the outskirts of civilization with no Internet, looking to organize family photos. Maybe it's an office filing room that's too small to set up shop. Maybe it's the cabin of an airplane, and a traveler just wants to scan a page from Skymall. In this situation, the solution is generally to move items that need to be scanned to a location that has a scanner. With DoxieGo by Apparent, users don't have to worry about transportation; they can just throw the scanner in their bag and go. But can this ultra-portable scanner really make life that much easier? Read our review and find out.

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Apple offers Boxing Day iTunes sales for UK, Canadian customers

Fri December 26, 2014 | Posted in: audio, Apple

As was the case last year, Canadians are once again getting a sale on selected albums in iTunes as part of a "Boxing Day" event, part of a traditional observance throughout Canada and a number of other Commonwealth countries. The UK iTunes Store is also having a sale on hit albums, but doesn't label the event as a "Boxing Day" sale. US users don't get a sale, but are instead enjoying special holiday channels on iTunes Radio, which remains unavailable in the UK and Canada.

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Merry Christmas from Electronista and MacNN!

Wed December 24, 2014 | Posted in:

Merry Christmas Eve, Electronista and MacNN readers! Large portions of the US and Canada are dealing with some pretty nasty travel weather, so if you're reading us from there, please be careful! Otherwise, we wish you and yours a Merry Christmas.

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Hands On: Starlight: Find Stars and Constellations (iOS)

Wed December 24, 2014 | Posted in: iPhone apps, iPad apps

There are billions and billions of stars in the night sky, and most of us can identify at least a few of them. However, it isn't always easy. Those among us who have never been good at finding anything other than the Big Dipper or the North Star shouldn't worry: Starlight: Find Stars and Constellations allows anyone to become an expert stargazer, picking out every constellation from Andromeda to Virgo in no time.

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Embattled Sony Pictures' 'The Interview' given wide online release

Wed December 24, 2014 | Posted in: industry, security

Sony and others have unveiled a massive effort to make the Sony Pictures title The Interview available online. Google's YouTube Movies paid service paved the way with its announcement a bit earlier today, with Google Play, Xbox Videos, and a special Sony website all having declared that the movie would be available at 1PM ET. The picture will cost $6 to rent, and $15 to own in HD.

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iOS apps: OmniFocus for iPhone, Copies for iPad, Rdio

Wed December 24, 2014 | Posted in iOS apps

  • 14.1MB

    OmniFocus for iPhone 2.4.2 ($20)

    OmniFocus is a task management tool that can help users stay organized. The software allows users to build to-do lists directly on their handheld and sync them with the OmniFocus desktop application. Version 2.4.2 fixes several problems, including crashes, present in version 2.4 and 2.4.1. This includes a couple of problems with context names not appearing, and with notifications for unavailable or completed items appearing anyways.

  • 1.4MB

    Copies for iPad 1.0.2 ($1)

    Copies is a clipboard manager for the iPad that includes support for text, links, images, and files. A keyword search is included for sorting through all of the stored clippings, while iCloud sync ensures that clippings are available on all of a user’s devices. The v1.0.2 update adds a copy option to the popup menu and improves overall stability.

  • 35.7MB

    Rdio 3.0.9 (free)

    Rdio is a mobile app that allows users to browse through Rdio's collection of streaming music. In the latest release users can now play music directly from the search results screen thanks to the new play button. Tapping and holding on any album will also now give users the option to play only the tracks they have favourite.

  • 161.7MB

    Kingdom Rush Origins 1.2 ($3)

    Kingdom Rush Origins builds upon the original tactical defence game though the addition of new towers, levels, and heroes. The v1.2 update introduces a new endless challenge that pits players up against Hee-haw the wicket knoll war leader. Players will also be able to use the legendary Phoenix as a part of their army, as well as unlock all new achievements.

  • 89MB

    Splot 1.05 ($1)

    Splot is a platformer where players must save a population of endangered baby birding from the Hungry Blobs and Blob Kings. This minor update adds several new holiday-themed Splot skins for players to use.

 

Hands On: Scrolls (OS X, Windows, Android)

Wed December 24, 2014 | Posted in: gaming, software, mobile phones

Scrolls has finally been released to the adulation of gamers everywhere. The game was created by Mojang -- the developers behind Minecraft -- and written by Jerry Holkins, the writer of Penny Arcade. Scrolls feels similar to a traditional two-player board game like checkers or chess, as well as a player-versus-player card game, like Magic the Gathering or Hearthstone. We spent a bit of time with Scrolls to see how it stacks up against similar titles.

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Uber indicted in South Korea for breaking local transportation laws

Wed December 24, 2014 | Posted in: industry

South Korea has become the latest country to fight against the rise of ride-hailing service Uber, by indicting the local subsidiary and CEO Travis Kalanick shortly after launch. The company is said to be "violating a law prohibiting individuals or firms without appropriate licenses from providing or facilitating transport services," a legal challenge previously arising in a number of other markets around the world.

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The Beyond-Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Wed December 24, 2014 | Posted in: software, audio, iPhone apps, Apple, iPad apps

We're some 40 years overdue for flying cars, teleportation and printers that can output copies of our dreams, but there are a few methods by which the chronic procrastinators of this world can still swoop in with a last-minute gift for someone at Christmas they'll actually like. While Amazon has closed the doors to physical delivery of any products at this point -- even for Prime members - by the 25th, you still have perhaps a few hours left to send a Boxing Day present, or get in now to ensure a timely New Year's gift. Or you can read on for more suggestions.

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PNAS study shows e-readers, tablets negatively impacting sleep quality

Wed December 24, 2014 | Posted in: iPad

The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) of the United States of America has published a study entitled Evening use of light-emitting e-readers negatively affects sleep, circadian timing, and next-morning alertness. The study compared e-readers with screens that project light, versus those that don't, as well as printed books read under reflected light.

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FCC petitioned by hotels to allow disrupting guest-created hotspots

Tue December 23, 2014 | Posted in: security, networking

The FCC has been petitioned by Marriott and an association of hotel owners to allow the jamming of Wi-Fi hotspots, usually set up by guests, on their premises for reasons of "managing Wi-Fi networks and security." The petition is possibly in response to when Marriott International and Marriott Hotel Services was fined $600,000 by the FCC for knocking guests off their own Wi-Fi networks (provided by hot spots and tethering to cell phones), forcing them to pay for the hotel's Wi-Fi access.

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Obama wants stronger cyber-security laws in 2015

Tue December 23, 2014 | Posted in: industry, security, hacks

Last Friday, at President Barak Obama's year-end press conference, Carrie Budoff Brown of Politico asked the first question. Her inquiry was whether Sony had done the right thing in canceling the release of the Seth Rogan comedy The Interview, and what a "proportional" US response to the North Korean-led cyber-attack on Sony would look like. While discussing the answers to those questions, President Obama called on Congress to help create stronger cyber-security laws.

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