E3: The Sims 3 Goes Out the Door for Mac OS X, Windows, iPhone

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Date: Tuesday, June 2nd, 2009, 19:51
Category: News

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Electronic Arts on Tuesday announced the simultaneous release of The Sims 3 for Mac OS X, Microsoft Windows and Apple’s iPhone and iPod touch handsets.
The new version allows users to control simulated people inside a virtual world, the application allowing for dozens of unique personality traits as well as extensive customization for your Sims home. According to Macworld, the game bypasses the micromanagement of basic tasks such as bathing and using the restroom (unlike the first two versions) and allows for additional items to be purchased via an in-game store.
The Mac and Windows game also lets you record movies of your Sims, edit the soundtrack, story and transitions, then share the movies you’ve made with friends on The Sims 3 Web sites, social networks, and on your own blog.
The game ships on a hybrid DVD-ROM that contains both Mac and Windows versions of the games, retails for US$50 and requires an Intel-based Mac running Mac OS X 10.5.7 or later, 2 GB of RAM, 6.1 GB of hard disk space and an ATI GMA X3100 or Nvidia 7300 GT graphics card or better to install and run.
Per the iPhone version, the application is available for US$9.99 through the App Store and requires iPhone OS 2.2 or later to install and run.

Microsoft Launches Bing Preview

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Date: Tuesday, June 2nd, 2009, 13:59
Category: Microsoft, Software

Having lost the battle to acquire Yahoo! so many times, Microsoft decided it still needed to get into the search engine business, and this weekend they launched a “preview” of the service.

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Called “bing“, the service doesn’t look much unlike Google, except for some prettier formatting. Opinions online seem pretty varied so far, as people try to test the new engine search capabilities. Much like the recent Wolfram|Alpha preview, most users seem polarized from being very impressed, to not at all, with search results of some terms leaving much to be desired. However, as a preview, it seems to do a pretty good job.

Personally, I did not spend a lot of time hammering on the service, but I did find the image search to be very good, and I liked the way the images were displayed where a roll-over would give you the additional details and location of the picture.

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It also seemed pretty fast compared to Google, but maybe bing just doesn’t have enough data to bog it down yet. If there was one thing that really disappoints me about the service, it is that I don’t see anything new or revolutionary. Perhaps that is coming, but it seems like Microsoft is doing the usual thing and just putting their spin on something somebody else has already done. Come on guys, lets see some innovation!

Send us your thoughts in the forums!

E3: Microsoft Demos Project Natal Video Recognition System for Xbox 360

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Date: Tuesday, June 2nd, 2009, 08:28
Category: Announcement

In addition to Microsoft’s Bing preview, Microsoft also announced Project Natal, a technology project developed by 3DV which uses a camera technology to function as an input. The core ideas behind the project include motion recognition, complex voice recognition and scanning body features.
And since a picture’s worth a thousand words, here’s what the guys at Joystiq had to offer…




Now if Apple could do something like this with the iSight, that’d be worth seeing…

New Snow Leopard Seed and Server Features for iPhone

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Date: Tuesday, April 28th, 2009, 14:08
Category: Apple, iPhone, Mac, Mobile, Server, Services, Software

Apple sent an announcement to developers last Thursday that the next seed for Snow Leopard was available for downloading. AppleInsider reported that this was the second beta of the software released this month and is labeled Mac OS X 10.6 build 10A335.

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The new download is reported to also include a new version of 10.6 Snow Leopard Server which incorporates a number of new features. Some of the features mentioned, “[...] new junk mail filters in Mail Server, better automated account creation in Calendar Server, and completely re-written certificate management code”.

One of the developments that may be of interest to businesses that have, or want to deploy, a fleet of iPhones to their employees is the addition of the secure Mobile Access Server. The first hints of the new mobile services comes as a listing on Apple’s Developer site as one of the sessions available at WWDC called Deploying Mobile Access Server. The session has the following description:

Secure remote access to your business network has never been more critical than in today’s increasingly mobile world. The Mobile Access Server provides a path through a corporate firewall for IMAP, SMTP, HTTP, and CalDAV without using VPN. Learn about the features of, and deployment tips for, this powerful new service in Snow Leopard Server.

This comes in addition to features already mentioned such as remote access and control of mobile devices as well as push notifications. This positions OS X Server as a means to deliver intranet web services to iPhone and iPod touch users far more cost effectively than Microsoft Windows Server, and takes advantage of the popularity of the iPhone.

Drive Genius 2.1.1 Released

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Date: Thursday, April 16th, 2009, 13:35
Category: Software

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Prosoft Engineering has released Drive Genius 2.1.1, an updated version of its drive repair and recovery program for Mac OS X.
The new version, a 23.3 megabyte download, offers the following fixes and features:

  • Enhanced Duplicate tool has an option to verify the destination of whole-drive copies. In addition, source bad blocks can be skipped if found during a whole-drive copy.
  • Increased performance and reliability of Defrag.
  • Bug Fix: spurious “test aborted by disk” S.M.A.R.T. warnings in 10.5.x
  • Bug Fix: after shredding a volume, a new volume would always be created as “Untitled” instead of using the previous volume name.
  • Bug Fix: the tooltip displayed for duplicate files in DriveSlim contained an invalid path to the original file when displaying results from the boot volume.
  • Bug Fix: crash during launch if information about installed languages could not be obtained (10.4.x/PPC only).
  • Bug Fix: Adobe and Microsoft application updates would fail if language bundles were removed or their binaries trimmed; these are now excluded from the DriveSlimsearch results.
  • Other bug fixes.
  • Drive Genius retails for US$99 and requires Mac OS X 10.4 or later installed to work. The application is a Universal Binary and functions natively under both PowerPC and Intel-based hardware.

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    Microsoft Drops Hints Regarding Office for the iPhone

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    Date: Friday, April 3rd, 2009, 08:37
    Category: iPhone, Software

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    Microsoft apparently still holds aspirations of delivering a version of Office to Apple’s iPhone handset, though some more development time may still be necessary.
    According to TechCrunch, Microsoft Business Division president Stephen Elop, speaking at the Web 2.0 Expo in San Francisco on Wednesday, dropped hints to suggest that Office was bound to turn up on the Apple handheld device sometime soon.
    Elop later hedged his remarks when interviewer Tim O’Reilly probed him over the comments, admitting that the software isn’t ready quite yet and stating that hopefuls should “keep watching.”
    Over a year ago, Microsoft expressed “confidence” in its ability to deliver applications for the iPhone. At the time, Tom Gibbons, corporate vice president of the company’s Specialized Devices and Applications Group, indicated to Fortune that Office applications were a natural choice.
    “It’s really important for us to understand what we can bring to the iPhone,” he said. “To the extent that Mac Office customers have functionality that they need in that environment, we’re actually in the process of trying to understand that now.”
    Although the iPhone ships with built-in support for viewing Office documents, users wishing to make changes to those documents have had few options prior to this week’s announcement of Quickoffice, which will support editing (as well as creation of) Word and Excel documents when it’s released later this month.
    To date, Microsoft has become the largest software developer for the Mac outside of Apple, its Mac Business Unit estimated to generate revenues in excess of $350 million and profits of over US$200 million each year.

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    Adobe Developing Flash Light for Mobile Phones, Application Still Not iPhone-Ready

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    Date: Tuesday, February 17th, 2009, 09:23
    Category: iPhone

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    Adobe’s Flash Lite multimedia player, while still lacking iPhone compatibility, may reach one billion mobile phones by the end of March according to market researcher Strategy Analytics. In a recent report, the company said that Adobe could reach its desired target mark one year ahead of schedule given its recent support for HD video as well as Nokia’s agreements to install Flash Lite on its phones. Another factor mentioned by the company is the absence of real competition for Adobe’s Flash Lite player. Representatives from the firm went on to predict that another 1.5 billion smartphones could carry the software within two years according to ComputerWorld.
    On the competition end, Microsoft is currently developing a Silverlight for Mobile Player for release on Nokia’s Symbian S60 devices and its own Windows Mobile Phones. Representatives from the company expressed opinions that the plugin won’t make a significant impact on Flash Lite’s current increases.
    To help continue with its progress, Adobe will be demonstrating a Flash Player 10 for smartphones at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona this week. Along with the Flash 10 beta, Adobe will also be releasing the beta of a new Flash Lite distributable player based on Flash Lite 3.1.
    Even with the increase in phones using Flash Lite, Adobe is still thought distant from getting an equivalent application onto the iPhone. Analysts with Strategy Analytics claimed that Adobe is working diligently to get Flash onto the iPhone and is looking to have it ready to go much later this year.
    Independent analyst Jack Gold of J. Gold Associates claims that performance and business are the chief obstacles to Flash on the iPhone. In order to get high performance, Flash must run in the lower layers of the OS, which Apple restricts as part of its iPhone SDK guidelines. Gold stated that Apple will want to push its own technology, such as QuickTime, rather than depend on a third party’s development, despite Apple’s long history with Adobe.
    As always, let us know what you think of the situation in the comments or forums.

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    Rumor: Apple May Bundle Professional Features for Free Into Mac OS X 10.6

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    Date: Wednesday, February 11th, 2009, 08:38
    Category: Rumor

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    It came from the rumor mill, so while it’s still unconfirmed, it’s at least interesting.
    According to MacRumors, an architectural overhaul to Apple’s QuickTime media software due as part of Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard may ship with a media player that bundles once-premium features at no cost.
    For over a decade now, Apple has distributed a limited version of its QuickTime Player application with its operating systems, offering the Pro version as a commercial add-on. Once purchased, QuickTime Pro unlocks advanced recording, sharing, saving and exporting functions after users buy a license key, which the company sells for US$29.95 and also bundles with some of its Pro software titles.
    The QuickTime Pro licensing system appears due to change, as a source familiar with the latest distributions of Snow Leopard told MacRumors earlier this week that the software arrived with a version of Player that unlocks all QuickTime Pro’s existing features by default.
    Though the accessibility of Pro features in the Snow Leopard builds could simply be a means of allowing developers access to test the new version of QuickTime, it was also reported that QuickTime system preference panel has been updated to completely omit the registration pane.
    In recent years, Apple has loosened its grip on some legacy QuickTime Pro features while debuting others. In early 2007, the company added a new feature to the professional version of QuickTime that allowed users to export video on their computers in a format suitable for its then fledgling Apple TV media hub. A few months later it unlocked full-screen playback, a feature once exclusive to the Pro software.
    Current speculation points to Apple’s shedding its need to directly earn revenue from QuickTime licensing, which may have changed from the days when Apple was generating income solely from its sales of Macintosh computers.
    Shortly after the initial development of QuickTime 1.0 in 1991, Apple attempted to cover its development costs by packaging the technology into a US$149 Pro version of its Mac System 7 operating system software in 1993. That plan failed miserably given an expectancy towards free updates as well as other technologies to become acquainted with in System 7.
    When QuickTime 2.0 was released in 1994, it was the only version to be released as a paid-only upgrade and was also the first version offered for Windows. By version 2.1, Apple was back to offering QuickTime for free, largely to spur rapid cross platform adoption as it fought with Microsoft to deliver the best video playback platform.
    Apple’s inability to successfully license QuickTime as a raw software technology to the broad consumer market helps to explain why the company also makes no effort to sell Mac OS X to other hardware makers or as a retail product, and instead bundles its software with hardware sales.
    Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and if you’re played with a version of Mac OS X 10.6 and can offer any feedback about it, let us know in the comments or forums.

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    Ten More Myths of Zune

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    Date: Wednesday, October 18th, 2006, 00:30
    Category: Opinion

    “Ten iPod vs. Zune Myths” took apart the spin on Zune, but there’s plenty left to examine. Here’s a look at the whimpers of jilted executives, painful marketing drivel and fan speak, the geeky in-jokes, as well as the market realities and technical problems facing everyone’s favorite iPod Killer. Read More…
    Contributed by: Daniel Eran, RDM

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    Vista and Parallels: Pony Up

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    Date: Monday, October 16th, 2006, 08:00
    Category: Opinion

    Microsoft’s latest licensing salvo on Vista means you pay more for the same experience.
    As a part of Vista’s new licensing procedures, Microsoft has announced that only Vista Business and Ultimate will be legally permitted to be installed in a virtual machine. Parallels is a virtual machine. This means that in order to have a legal install of Vista on Parallels, you must have either Business or Ultimate.
    Of course, there is nothing stopping you from installing Vista Home or Premium in Parallels, Windows Genuine Advantage and Activation will not block Home versions of Vista from being installed in Windows. Microsoft has only stated their interpretation of the license… we won’t be able to analyze the license itself until it is released.
    Windows has in the past made sketchy details about licensing, opening OEMs to legal threats of being forced to refund the cost of Windows, should a user chose to install Linux on their system. And while Microsoft ex-post-facto can chose to say whatever they wish about the license… it may not be legally binding.
    In short, you won’t get in any trouble legally for installing Vista Home (Basic or Premium) in Parallels, but Microsoft says you shouldn’t. Considering Parallels only takes advantage of the full feature set of Home Basic, it appears that while Microsoft says no, the actual answer is yes, you can.
    Contributed by: Christopher Price – www.pcsintel.com

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