MWSF: MacSpeech Offers Scribe, Upcoming Dictate iPhone App at Expo

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Date: Thursday, February 11th, 2010, 16:47
Category: Macworld Expo, News, Software

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Longtime Mac software developer MacSpeech presented the first of its Macworld Expo goodies via the release of MacSpeech Scribe (which also arrives in both Legal and Medical editions) as well as introducing its Dictate iPhone extension app. According to the cool cats at the Mac Observer, Scribe produces a transcript from a spoken-word audio file in the .wav, .aif, .aiff, .m4v, mp4, or .m4a formats.

Like MacSpeech Dictate, Scribe requires the user to create an individual speech profile by training the software to recognize their voice. Scribe recognizes 13 different English dialects and supports up to six speech profiles. If the user wants to ensure punctuation is included in the final transcript, they’ll need to speak it while creating their spoken-word audio file.

The Legal and Medical versions of Scribe are like their MacSpeech Dictate cousins in that they support over 30,000 legal words and terms and more than 54 medical and dental disciplines and specialties, respectively. Scribe Legal and Scribe Medical are available for US$99 to registered users of the respective MacSpeech Dictate versions and are only available as digital downloads from the MacSpeech web site.

In addition to Scribe, MacSpeech is showing a sneak peek of its upcoming via Dictate iPhone extension app, which functions as a remote extension of MacSpeech Dictate. The app will be free when it’s released. A date was not made available.

Scribe is available now to Macworld attendees and MacSpeech Dictate 1.5 users for US$99. The application generally retails for US$149 and requires Mac OS X 10.6 or later to install and run.

MWSF: SHAPE Introduces Mobiola Headset App, Allows for iPhone/iPod Touch to Become Wireless Headset

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Date: Thursday, February 11th, 2010, 16:34
Category: iPhone, Macworld Expo, Software

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This could be nifty.

Over at Macworld Expo, developer SHAPE Services introduced Headset, an application that allows iPhone and iPod touch owners to use their device as a wireless headset for a PC.

According to iLounge, the application connects with the free Mobiola Headset Desktop PC application over Wi-Fi to provide two-way audio communications between the device and PC applications such as Skype and MSN Messenger. Users can also record, pause and playback audio sent and received by the headset application.

The desktop application requires Windows XP (SP2) or later to function.

Mobiola Headset is available from the App Store for US$2 and requires an iPhone or iPod touch running iPhone OS 3.0 or later to install and run.

Rumor: Apple May Be Looking to Google for Continued iPhone Search Engine Deal

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Date: Thursday, February 11th, 2010, 15:58
Category: iPhone, Rumor

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A recent rumor stating that Apple may be looking to develop its own search engine may be untrue, an inside source citing that Apple may look to extend its current search engine deal with Google to continue providing such a function for the iPhone.

The deal may also be worth over US$100 million per year to Apple in revenue sharing.

Per Silicon Alley Insider, a source has stated “there’s too many options” for search on the market and thus no reason for Apple to build its own search engine.

Another reason Apple might not want to build its own search engine: It’s getting over US$100 million a year from Google in its revenue share deal, according to the source.

According to the source, although US$100 million isn’t a ton of money to Apple, it wouldn’t make sense for the company to invest a significant number of resources building its own search engine when Microsoft has Bing and a nigh-limitless checkbook to finance its research and development.

Additional rumors have stated that Apple and Microsoft have been in talks to make Bing the default search provider for the iPhone as the relationship between Google and Apple has reportedly soured as competition between the two companies has become increasingly intense.

MWSF: Synology Introducts Two-Bay DiskStation NAS Units

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Date: Thursday, February 11th, 2010, 15:51
Category: hard drive, Macworld Expo, News

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NAS units may be technical and slightly dorky, but you’ve got to admit: they come in handy.

Synology America announced the released of the company’s two-bay DiskStation line. The DS710+, is a scalable 2-bay NAS server that grows from 2 bays to 7 bays to offer a total of 14TB of storage. The unit includes built-in file sharing, automatic backup, remote access, web hosting, email hosting and media streaming with read speeds of 110+ MB/sec and write speeds of 100+ MB/sec under a RAID 1 configuration in a Windows environment.

The Synology DS710+ is equipped with the new Intel Atom D410 CPU, one Gigabit LAN ports, 3 USB ports and 1 GB DDRII RAM. Green features include lower power consumption, wake on LAN, scheduled power off and hard drive hibernation to ensure optimal energy conservation.

The DS710+ comes with Synology DiskStation Manager (DSM) 2.2 with robust features and applications for business use and sports such bells and whistles as Volume Manager, Synology Hybrid RAID (SHR) which optimizes the use of disk capacity with data protection when using hard drives of different sizes are used, share level encryption and backup to the cloud with Amazon S3 service.

MWSF: Apple Releases Apple TV 3.0.2 Update

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Date: Thursday, February 11th, 2010, 14:32
Category: Apple TV, Macworld Expo, Software

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It’s not the sexiest update in the world, but it’s functional.

On Thursday, Apple released version 3.0.2 of its firmware for its Apple TV media center device.

Although no official changes were mentioned, the update seems to address changes in image sharing first introduced by the recent release of Aperture 3.

Per Macworld, the update appears to fix a few bugs, eliminating issues related with switching HDMI cables and improving the general readability of its user interface.

The 3.0.2 update can be downloaded and installed directly from the Apple TV firmware upgrade menu.

If you’ve tried the update and noticed any major changes, please let us know.

MWSF: iBooks App Won’t be Bundled with iPad

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Date: Thursday, February 11th, 2010, 14:59
Category: iPad, Macworld Expo, Software

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Yes, the iPad is coming.

But it won’t come with the featured iBooks application.

Per Apple’s product listing for the device, the iBooks application won’t be bundled with the iPad and will instead be downloaded from the App Store, a move which places it on an equal footing with other e-book readers on the market.

The application is available for free and if you look at the photos of the iPad, the only bundled apps included with the system appear to be Calendar, Contacts, Notes, Maps, Videos, YouTube, iTunes, App Store, Settings, Safari, Mail, Photos, and iPod. Perhaps this will change if and when iBooks becomes available outside the U.S.

MWSF: Microsoft Announces Office for Mac 2011

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Date: Thursday, February 11th, 2010, 09:10
Category: Macworld Expo, News

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With Macworld Expo underway, representatives from Microsoft announced Microsoft Office for Mac 2011, which should arrive in time for the 2010 holiday season.

Per Macworld, the new version focuses on better compatibility across platforms, improved collaboration tools, and a more refined user interface. Also, as Microsoft announced last August, the suite will include Outlook for Mac, which replaces Entourage as Office’s e-mail client. The new version of Office will also offer renewed support for Visual Basic, which was dropped in the 2008 version of the productivity suite.

“Nowadays, compatibility means more than just file formats,” said Microsoft’s Kurt Schmucker. “It’s also workflow, collaboration, and user interface.”

To that end, the new version of Office will incorporate document-collaboration features that take advantage of Microsoft’s online storage features. With Office for Mac 2011, Mac users will be able to share files and collaborate on documents with other Mac and Windows users via Microsoft’s SharePoint, SkyDrive, and Office Web Apps.

Those online tools will allow users to collaborate on documents with other Windows and Mac Office users in real time, similar to the features found in Google Docs. For example, users could create a document in Word on your laptop, save it to SkyDrive, then share it with others. A pop-up in Word will display who’s working on the document; click on that list, and you’ll be able to send them a message (as long as everyone is using Outlook or Microsoft’s Messenger IM application). The paragraphs your collaborators are working on will be locked out until they’re done. Users will also be able to edit those same documents from any computer, using Office’s Web apps. Mac users will have the same experience in the their versions of Safari and Firefox as Windows users get with their browsers, Schmucker said.

Microsoft also says it’s learned from user feedback about Office 2008 and has tweaked the user interface accordingly in Office 2011.

A new Ribbon at the top of each document window replaces Office 2008’s controversial Elements Gallery, which took some fire from Mac users for its size and inflexibility. This new Ribbon is designed to give users quick access to each program’s most commonly used tools. Unlike the Elements Gallery, the ribbon is customizable and, if you want more screen space, completely collapsible.

The new suite will also feel more Mac-like than Office 2008. For example, the Ribbon is built entirely using Apple’s Cocoa development framework, and takes takes advantage of Apple’s Core Animation system. (As a result, Ribbon tabs will slide smoothly when you rearrange them.) Click on Ribbon tools and they’ll expand smoothly into popovers that don’t obscure the document you’re working on.

Summarizing the interface changes, Microsoft’s Han-Yi Shaw likened Office 2008 to a teenager—“a little quirky”—but said the new edition is Office matured. “This is the version that everyone wanted,” he said.

Shaw added that the Mac team at Microsoft worked hard to adopt Apple technologies while also making sure their product was recognizably Microsoft Office. “We’re at a cross-section of Mac and PC, and because we’re die-hard Mac users, we look at the [Office] technology and try to translate it,” he said. “Following the Apple design philosophy really takes you in the right direction.”

The new Outlook will support PST imports (allowing you to move an Outlook installation, including all your old e-mails, from a Windows PC to a Mac) and will also support Microsoft’s Information Rights Management (IRM), which allows senders to specify what recipients can do with messages (print, forward, and so on). Previously-Windows only, IRM is required in some corporate settings. IRM support in Office 2001 is aimed at Mac users in cross-platform environments, Schmucker said: “It’s been a blocker for some companies because the Mac support was not there.”

The company has also re-engineered the Outlook message database system to be a series of small files, so it’s more easily backed up with Time Machine and searched in Spotlight. “Outlook’s new database is more reliable, faster, and fully supports Time Machine and Spotlight,” Schmucker said.

Finally, power users will be be able to make use of the Visual Basic macro language. Visual Basic was dropped from Office 2008 in part because it was to technically difficult to port it to the Mac’s then-new Intel CPUs. Microsoft says it began work on that port as far back as 2008, before the last Mac Office shipped. That work is now complete and the Mac suite will be using the most up-to-date version of Visual Basic.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Skype 2.8.0.851 Released

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Date: Thursday, February 11th, 2010, 04:05
Category: Software

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On Monday, Skype released version 2.8.0.851 of its popular Voice over Internet Protocol communications program.

The new version, a 43.3 megabyte download, adds the following fixes and features:

– Platform specific: OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard Skype Access was not working
– Skype occasionally crashed when the host of a conference call would hang up on one participants during the call.
– Platform specific: OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard Users were unable to call phone numbers via their Mac Address Book.
– Platform specific: OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard Some animated emoticons were not displayed correctly.
– Skype crashed due to invalid avatars (occurred seldom).
– Users sometimes experienced an “Unable to mount database” error message when launching Skype.
– Skype crashed when a user quit after opening an authorization missed event.
– Platform specific: OS X 10.3 Panther Occasionally Skype crashed right after an account was created.
– Improved notification on how to disable a mood message chat.

Skype 2.8.0.851 is available for free and requires Mac OS X 10.3.9 or later to install and run.

Apple Releases 2009 Aluminum Keyboard Firmware 1.0 Update

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Date: Thursday, February 11th, 2010, 04:16
Category: News, Software

On Wednesday, Apple released its 2009 Aluminum Keyboard Firmware 1.0 update for the 2009 Apple Wireless Keyboard. The update, a 1.1 megabyte download, improves battery performance of the device when used in combination with other Bluetooth devices. The keyboard must be connected or paired to perform this update. The update package will install an updater application into the Applications/Utilities folder and will launch it automatically.

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As always, the update can also be located and snagged via Mac OS X’s Software Update feature.

The updater requires Mac OS X 10.5 or later running on an Intel-based Mac to function.