Hybrid Blu-Ray/HD Disc Could Sway DVD Wars

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Date: Thursday, January 4th, 2007, 08:26
Category: News

Conscious of the fact that the HD DVD and Blu-Ray DVD wars are now in full swing, Warner Brothers plans to formally introduce a new disc capable of playing both formats according to article in today’s New York Times.
The new disc, called the Total HD disc, will premier at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show on Tuesday in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Since last year, the Blu-Ray format, backed by Sony and others, has gone head to head with the HD-DVD format, backed by Microsoft and Toshiba. While the two formats offer a slew of new features, executives cited in the article mention a hesitancy to adopt to a single standard – a conflict reminiscent of the Beta/VHS conflict of the 1980′s.
As a result, studios have chosen sides and are releasing movies in either format. For example, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 20th Century Fox and Walt Disney Pictures are releasing current works in Blu-Ray DVD format while Universal Studios, Warner Brothers and Paramount are releasing only in HD-DVD, the decision depending on which companies own which firm and which format they’ve sided with.
A crossover or hybrid solution may be more popular than initially anticipated. Electronics makers such as LG Electronics and other tech firms are expected to announce new DVD players with drives for both the Blu-Ray and HD-DVD format at CES. The players are expected to initially be more expensive than single-format players but solve the problem of which standard to adopt.
Time Warner president Jeffrey L. Bewkes commented that Warner’s Total HD disc has a better chance of catching on than dual-format players and that consumers were willing to pay more for a higher quality, as proven by the studio’s “Superman Returns” selling for $19.99 in standard DVD format at Best Buy as well as $29.99 in Blu-Ray format and $34.99 in HD-DVD format.
Everything else is speculation until next Tuesday, but if the formats could be bridged either by a hybrid disc or DVD player, I’d add it to my shopping list.
If you’ve heard anything about this or have ideas or comments, let us know.

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CardRaider Helps Resurrect Deleted Memory Card Files

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Date: Wednesday, January 3rd, 2007, 16:21
Category: Software

Memory cards are terrific up to a point. And if you’ve ever accidentally deleted your picture files from them, that point usually involves repeated cursing.
CardRaider, which has been recently released from ecamm, may actually help recover from this. In cases where files have been deleted from a memory card, the user can plug the card into a USB reader (or the camera itself if it uses a USB connection) and search through the card to recover lost photos, then port the photos over to an iPhoto library.
CardRaider searches through sectors of a memory card that have not been written over, so odds are you can’t add additional photos in the space the deleted ones occupied. It might not be the ultimate catch-all, but it could be useful in cases where some great photos might have been lost by accident.
CardRaider is available for a $19.95 registration fee with a 1.9 megabyte demo available for download.
CardRaider is written as a Universal binary which support both the PowerPC and Intel-based hardware architectures and requires Mac OS X 10.3.9 or later to run.
If you have any comments or feedback on this, let us know.

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Apple and HP May Ship LED-Backlit Laptops This Spring

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Date: Wednesday, January 3rd, 2007, 15:50
Category: News

Apple and rival Hewlett-Packard look to be planning to introduce LED-backlit displays on their laptop computer products according to a report on DigiTimes.
The LED-backlit systems would improve the image quality of the LCD screens used in the laptops and provide more even lighting as well as improve the overall color range on the screen. The idea of LED-backlit laptop displays has been approached with a certain degree of caution due to higher power requirements in the past, but could represent the companies focusing on media-centric strengths.
The article’s cited source refused to to discuss the exact models that would receive the new displays but mentioned that part manufacturers Cree and Nichia would be the main suppliers for the necessary components.
If you have any comments or feedback on this, please let us know.

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“Month of Bugs” Project Pins Down QuickTime and VLC Vulnerabilities

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Date: Wednesday, January 3rd, 2007, 08:08
Category: News

According to an article on Macworld News, two Mac users (“LMH” and Kevin Finisterre) have begun a self-described initiative called the Month of Apple Bugs to “improve Mac OS X” by locating security flaws in Apple’s operating system as well as third party applications.
The duo published their first finds recently. Known as “MOAB-01-01-2007″, the first document describes a vulnerability in QuickTime’s Real Time Streaming Protocol features:
“By supplying a specially crafted string (rtsp:// [random] + semicolon + [299 bytes padding + payload]), an attacker could overflow a stack-based buffer, using either HTML, Javascript or a QTL file as attack vector, leading to an exploitable remote arbitrary code execution condition,” said the programmers.
The reported bug presently affects QuickTime 7.1.3, which is the current version for both the Mac OS X and Windows operating systems. The team suggests that the user disable QuickTime’s rtsp:// URL handler or uninstall QuickTime in the short term in their write up of the bug.
The second published bug focuses on VLC, the popular open source media player program.
The bug, which is present in version 0.8.6 of the program for Mac OS X (both the PowerPC and Intel version are affected by this bug, according to the report), allows an M3U file to be created which can be either opened locally or via a web server, compromising the security of the machine.
The only workaround to date is to disable VLC’s udp:// URL handler uninstall VLC or update to a new version of the program once it becomes available.
Where identification is concerned, “LMH” is the handle for an as-yet unidentified person helping with the project while Kevin Finisterre is the founder of Digital Munition and has been credited with the creation of the InqTana worm, a proof of concept that exploited a Bluetooth vulnerability present on some Macs and raised a relevant security issue in February of 2006.
If you have any comments or feedback about this, let us know.

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One Laptop Per Child Project Aims to Begin Production in July

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Date: Wednesday, January 3rd, 2007, 08:00
Category: News

An article on Engadget describes how the One Laptop Per Child project, headed by Nicholas Negroponte and the MIT Media Lab in collaboration with other organizations and vendors with the goal of creating a laptop that can be used by third world nations and purchased by governments, hopes to begin producing several million units around July.
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The computers, also known as the 2B1 and the XO-1 (previously the “$100 laptop”) will be manufactured by Quanta computer, will be handed over to kids for testing next month. The units include bleeding edge technologies such as improvements in battery conservation, mobile ad hoc networking which can make the most of limited Internet connection resources in a classroom and Flash drives instead of hard drives to be durable and thrive in third world education environments.
The units will function off a Fedora Core Linux operating system and be commercially available after production for about $225, a change from an original plan of only selling the laptops through government agencies.
If you have any comments, feedback or ideas about this, let us know.

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Jobs Keynote Speech to Run Two Hours

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Date: Wednesday, January 3rd, 2007, 08:00
Category: News

A quick look at the events page for the upcoming Macworld Expo San Francisco show reveals something out of the ordinary; Apple CEO Steve Jobs’ keynote speech, which usually runs from 60 to 90 minutes, is slated to be two hours long this year.
Among the anticipated products expected for discussion, if not release, are an iPhone, iTV, the upcoming Mac OS X 10.5 “Leopard” operating system, a Core 2 Duo-based Mac Mini and perhaps an improved iPod.
A lot can be said in an additional 30 to 60 minutes and this should be interesting.
If you have any comments or feedback, let us know.

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Put Your Mac to Sleep with an E-Mail

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Date: Tuesday, January 2nd, 2007, 17:46
Category: How-To

A cool trick posted on Murphy Mac describes how to configure Automator to have your Mac watch for e-mails containing certain criteria such as a specific subject or sender and configure actions such as going to sleep.
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This is accomplished by creating a simple Automator program with two actions in its workflow, a one-line AppleScript file and a rule in the Mail program. A small sleeper action for Automator will need to be downloaded and installed from Apple’s web site for the action to occur.
Configuring the action to occur takes just a few minutes with step by step instructions displayed here.
If you’ve seen any other cool tricks, let us know.

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Mac OS X Market Share Climbs to 5.67% in December

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Date: Tuesday, January 2nd, 2007, 14:15
Category: News

A recent market share report released by netapplications.com shows that the Mac OS X market share (with both the the PowerPC and Intel architectures factored in) reached 5.67% in December of 2006, up from 5.39% in December.
Apple’s operating system has now surpassed Windows 2000 for second place in market share positioning. Windows 2000 fell from 8.75% to 5% over the course of 2006 while Linux remain steady at 0.37% and Windows Vista installs pushed it from 0.11% to 0.16% of the total market share.
Windows XP held on to its number one slot, growing from 80% to 85.30% throughout 2006.
The full breakdown of the report is as follows:
Windows XP: 85.30%
Windows 2000: 5.00%
Mac OS: 4.15%
Windows 98: 1.77%
MacIntel: 1.52%
Windows ME: 0.89%
Windows NT: 0.68%
Linux: 0.37%
Windows Vista: 0.16%
Windows CE: 0.04%
Windows 95: 0.03%
Web TV: 0.02%
PSP: 0.02%
Hiptop: 0.02%
Series60: 0.01%

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Micromat Debuts TechTool Protogo

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Date: Tuesday, January 2nd, 2007, 09:55
Category: News

According to an article on MacNN, Micromat today announced the upcoming release of TechTool Protogo. The new product is an application that allows Mac users to turn a device such as an older iPod or flash drive into a bootable unit packed with several of Micromat’s utilities as well as third party utility programs.
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TechTool Protogo will ship on a DVD and will include TechTool Pro Classic (for systems running Mac OS 9 or below), TechTool Pro 4 for Mac OS X and DiskStudio and will support an array of hardware configurations. The program will begin shipping on January 9th at Macworld Expo and be available for $200 with a $135 street price (pre-orders retail for $148 on Micromat’s web site).
The application will require a Macintosh running Mac OS X 10.4 or later, 512 megabytes of RAM and a DVD-ROM drive.
If you have any comments or feedback about this, let us know.

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Autonet Mobile: Broadband Wireless Internet for Your Car

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Date: Tuesday, January 2nd, 2007, 08:56
Category: News

An article over at Engadget highlights Autonet Mobile, the first company that intends to be an Internet service provider for the devices within your car.
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The firm will be selling the Autonet wireless unit, a $399 wireless Internet router using what appears to be Verizon’s EV-DO wireless network. Specific details as to available plans and network backbones are scarce as of now, but Autonet Mobile claims that it will provide service on up to 95% of America’s roads when its $50 per month service has launched.
Definitely not a bad idea and in-car wireless access could help ease navigation as well as provide last minute information before arriving at a destination.
If you have any comments or feedback, let us know.

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