[5:20 PM] dealmac.com Announces iMac DV Special Edition Giveaway
The good people at dealmac.com have announced an iMac DV Special Edition giveaway. The iMac DV Special Edition is the very cool graphite colored iMac that comes with 128 MB TAM standard. According to dealmac.com:
dealmac is giving away an Apple iMac DV Special Edition, courtesy of Small Dog Electronics.
Valued at $1,499, the iMac DV Special Edition is the flagship of Apple's revolutionary iMac line of personal computers. The iMac DV Special Edition combines Apple's Pentium-crushing G3/400 with powerful digital video capabilities and optional wireless networking.
The giveaway runs from November 15 to December 31 and is open to residents of the US and Canada. To enter, visit dealmac.
To register for the giveaway, head over to dealmac.com.
[5:00 PM] Adding A CD-R To Your iMac Just Got Cheaper
Techworks has announced a price drop on the PowerCDR. The PowerCDR is a replacement CDR drive for iMacs that allows users to record their own CDs. The device debuted at US$339, but the company has dropped the price to US$299.95. According to Techworks:
The TechWorks PowerCDR is an internal recordable CD device designed for the iMac that enables you to create your own data, audio and multimedia CDs. Data is permanently "burned" onto CDs, making it perfect for backups, data archiving and sharing files with others. A single CD stores 650MB, making the PowerCDR a low cost-per-megabyte storage format. The compact size, portability and durability of CDs is ideal for storing and distributing data, graphics, image and audio files.
[4:30 PM] QuickTime Usage Declining According To PC Data Online
PC Data has released the results of a study that found QuickTime usage declining on the Internet. The report also showed Windows Media Player as the dominant medial player among consumers beating out both QuickTime and RealPlayer. According to PC Data Online:
As digital media quickly becomes an integral, hallmark feature of the consumer online experience, PC Data Online today released the results of the first comprehensive metered report of consumer usage of digital media players.
This groundbreaking report provides the first data available that examines the entire spectrum of household Web use of digital media, including use of digital media players, jukeboxes and embedded streaming audio and video within Web pages.
PC Data Online is currently the only major Web measurement firm today with the ability to track embedded applications (such as RealNetworks' RealPlayer and Microsoft's Windows Media Player) when the software is used to play audio or video content from within Web pages, as in those found on cnn.com, launch.com, and other popular sites. More The comprehensive metered report, which was conducted over September and October of this year, revealed that 41 percent of households with Internet access used media players at least once in the month. In addition, consumers who access digital media content on the Internet used an average of two different players during the month of October. This is an increase from use of 1.6 players per month in September.
PC Data Online also examined the growth rate and use of the most popular digital media players available today, specifically Apple's QuickTime Player, Microsoft's Windows Media Player and RealNetworks' RealPlayer. RealPlayer is used by an average of eight out of ten consumers, while Windows Media Player is used by an average of six out of ten users. The QuickTime Player is used by an average of three out of ten users. Of those players, Windows Media has the fastest growth rate, with a 34 percent usage increase month over month. RealPlayer followed with 5.3 percent growth in use, and QuickTime's usage declined over the same period by 7.7 percent.
The study was conducted by tracking a random sample of 3,000 Internet users, who have used digital media players in September and October, 1999. The data was weighted to represent the US Internet users as a whole. The information is gathered through a proprietary software tool that tracks usage of audio or video content from within web pages.
The Mac Observer Spin: It will be interesting to see if and how Apple responds to this report. Considering the number of QuickTime downloads, it is difficult to conceive that QuickTime use is actually declining. It is even more difficult to believe that Windows MediaPlayer use outpaces that of RealPlayer. That said, PC Data has proven to be a reliable source for statistics and it is certainly possible that this study is correct.
Another important aspect that could effect future trends is QuickTime TV, especially the agreements reached with CNN.com to provide QuickTime streaming options for their video content. As one of the busiest Internet sites in existence, this should significantly extend QuickTime's marketshare.
[4:00 PM] The Apple Stock Watch: Markets Trendless Ahead of FOMC Policy Meeting, Apple Down at 89 7/16
by Wes George
The stock market waffled in a narrow trading range, ending today's session slightly off ahead of the Federal Reserve's interest rate policy meeting tomorrow. It wasn't a good day for the computer hardware sectors.
The Nasdaq lost 1.73 points (0.05%) to close at 3219 on another big volume day with 1.2 billion shares traded. Telecommunications were about the only technology sector that was strong.
The Dow settled lower by 8.57 points (0.08%) to close at 10769 on tepid volume ahead of the Fed meeting tomorrow. Although many analysts don't expect a rate hike to have much negative impact on the on the Dow.
The S&P 500 lost 1.69 points (0.12%) to close at 1394.
Comdex, the world's largest computer trade convention, opened today in Las Vegas with an upbeat speech by Bill Gates emphasizing the future of the Internet. Wall Street will be closely watching for emerging technology trends this week from Comdex.
China signed an agreement today with the US clearing its way for entry into the World Trade Organization. President Clinton said the breakthrough means, "unprecedented opportunities for American farmers, workers and companies to compete successfully in China's market." The deal still has to meet with the approval of Congress.
Tomorrow is the Fed's last chance to raise interest rates before Y2K. Will they do it? Opinion is split, too close to call. In the shadow of Fed's decision industrial production numbers will come out tomorrow, which will shed some light on the strength of manufacturing sector and gauge factory capacity. Excess capacity bodes well for lower inflation into next year.
On Wednesday, Wall Street will be watching for the new housing numbers which could reveal whether the higher interest rates are having an impact. Also, the important Consumer Price Index for October is released.
Apple lost 1 3/16 to close at 89 7/16 on half the normal volume.
It was a weak day for Apple related stocks, Adobe, Symantec, Macromedia, and Akamai all end down. Arm Holdings beat the trend up 5 5/8 to close at 109 1/8. Apple's PowerPC partners, IBM and Motorola, both ended the day down.
Dell announced a new workstation today. Dell dipped 7/8 to close at 40 7/8. Gateway close up 1 to 82 1/2, a new all time high for the company. Both Compaq and Hewlett Packard closed down.
Microsoft investors have had a week to read Judge Jackson's Findings of Fact and they don't like it, Microsoft declined 2 3/16 to 87.
Redhat (RHAT) announced that it will buy Cygnus for $674 million and shareholders loved the idea, Redhat rose 3 9/16 to close at 105 3/8.
For full quotes on all the companies mentioned in this article, we have assembled this set of quotes at Yahoo! for your reference. We also have many of these same quotes reported live (20 minute delay) on our home page. For other stories regarding Apple's stock activity, visit our Apple Stock Watch Special Report.
[3:00 PM] Zip Up Your Fly!, You're CD-RW Is Showing!
Iomega has announced a USB CD-RW drive called the ZipCD external USB CD-RW drive. The drive extends Zip branding into the increasingly lucrative USB market. According to Iomega:
Iomega Corporation (NYSE:IOM), a leader in smart, portable storage solutions, today introduced the ZipCD(TM) external Universal Serial Bus (USB) CD-ReWritable (CD-RW) drive that enables customers to record, create, share and archive up to 650MB of data on a common CD format. Iomega's ZipCD drives are high-capacity, easy-to-use and ideal for saving and sharing original music, personal photos, games, Internet content and more.
The ZipCD(TM) 4x4x6 external USB drive offers an innovative external design and complements Iomega's ZipCD 4x4x24 internal drive, introduced in August 1999, providing customers with a choice of optical storage methods.
The ZipCD(TM) external USB drive supports standard CD-Recordable (CD-R), CD-ReWriteable (CD-RW) and CD-Read-Only-Memory (CD-ROM) discs, offering customers a universal platform for organizing and archiving files without cluttering up their hard drive or network. By supporting the USB standard, the ZipCD external USB drive is easy to attach and install to computers and laptops, eliminating the need for larger parallel port or SCSI conversion cables or rebooting the computer.
The ZipCD(TM) external USB drive will begin shipping in Q4, with general availability through retailers, resellers and Iomega's direct sales site, www.iomegadirect.com, beginning in January 2000. The ZipCD external USB drive will be available for an estimated street price of US$279.95 (US). The ZipCD external USB drive is bundled with an array of user-friendly software tools, including:
Adaptec(R) DirectCD(TM) - Packet writing software that allows users to manage their files through a simple "drag and drop" process
Adaptec(R) Easy CD Creator(TM) - CD record/copy software
Avery(R) Media Software - Iomega special edition software to format CD labels and jewel case inserts
Iomega(R) QuikSync - Software that creates a simultaneous back-up copy of active files within a user designated folder
Note that the software support does not include Mac software. Iomega says that Mac support will be coming in the 1st quarter of 2000. The Mac Observer will bring you coverage of this when it is announced.
The Mac Observer Spin: For those who may not speak Iomegeze, ZipCD means "not a Zip drive." The company is making efforts to broaden its product offering in the face of a removable storage market that has stagnated, at best. This is a good move for the company, though we would like to see Mac support for their new products come at a faster pace. Our best guess is that we should look for FireWire products to be announced within the next 3 months.
[2:00 PM] 3dfx: I'm A Voodoo4 & Voodoo5 Chile'
Gamers, rejoice! 3Dfx, makers of the wildly popular, and ridiculously powerful Voodoo graphics cards, have announced their next generation of products. The Voodoo 4 and 5 series was announced today, and should be widely available in the first quarter of next year. The new cards will be available in both PCI and AGP format, leading to speculation that the product, as shipped, will have Macintosh support. The top end version, the Voodoo5 6000 AGP (potentially, only G4 machines could support the high end version) will feature an astonishing 128MB of VRAM, and reach the gigapixel fill rate, or over 1 billion pixels/second. The new card is based on the VSA-100 processor, an advanced graphics rendering chip. Also, in a truly brilliant move, the cards will be backward compatible. That is, programs written to take advantage of the Voodoo3 architecture will also be able to implement the new cards. According to 3Dfx:
The initial advanced processor, the VSA-100, is a highly scalable design that supports the integration of one to 32 chips per system, using proprietary programmable scan-line interleaving (SLI) techniques, to deliver ultimate fill rates and high visual reality through breakthrough digital cinematic effects. Additionally, the VSA-100 architecture substantially improves the overall 3D rendering quality by incorporating advanced full-scene anti-aliasing technology, available for the first time at real-time frame rates and consumer prices.
At the heart of the VSA-100 is a new advanced 3D engine which enables extremely high fill rates. Sustaining high fill rate is critical to deliver real-time frame rates at high resolution, with significant depth complexity, digital effects and the highest visual quality. For the consumer market, products based on the VSA-100 deliver from 333 megatexels/megapixels per second up to 1.47 gigatexels/gigapixels per second fill rates using 16-128 MB of video memory and one to four processors per board. In the professional market, Quantum3D will manufacturer systems that will utilize eight to thirty-two VSA-100 processors and 128 MB to two gigabytes of video memory to attain fill rates greater than three gigatexels/gigapixels per second with their Heavy Metal GX+ family of AAlchemy family of visual computing systems.
The VSA-100, composed of over 14 million transistors, is fabricated in an enhanced .25 micron, 6-layer metal semiconductor process. The architecture incorporates industry standard 3D features including 32-bit RGBA rendering, 24-bit depth-buffer (Z and W), 8-bit stencil rendering, DXTC and FXT1 texture compression support, 32-bit textures, 2048x2048 texture size support, and advanced texture and color combine capabilities. Additional support is provided for both AGP 4x and PCI, DVD hardware assist, and the world's most powerful 128-bit 2D engine. All VSA-100-based products include support for all major APIs including DirectX, OpenGL and GLIDE providing the highest possible software compatibility. The VSA-100 is designed for optimal performance on current and future CPUs from Intel and AMD.
Perhaps most interesting to the Macintosh community is 3Dfx's renewed interest in OEM distribution. Mac gamers have been lobbying Apple for the option to have a Voodoo card as their based graphics card, along with the highly touted ATI Rage128 card currently shipping in all desktop Mac computers.
"The VSA-100 processor enables the Voodoo4 and Voodoo5 product lines to substantially raise the performance and quality of 3D graphics on the PC," said Michael Howse, senior vice president of worldwide marketing at 3dfx Interactive, Inc. "By launching two product lines based on the VSA-100, 3dfx is able to offer a broad range of performance and price targets to both retail and OEM customers."
A reader of MacGamersLedge also spotted the following in a 3Dfx FAQ about the new cards:
Will the VSA-100 have Mac support?
With the VSA-100, we took into account many of the features for the Macintosh market. To date we have not announced a Mac-based product, however we have announced a PCI version of Voodoo4 and Voodoo5, which will work with 3dfx's Mac drivers.
Will 3dfx ever sell and support a Mac product?
The company has Mac drivers and PCI Voodoo products. We have not disclosed our Mac strategy.
How about SLI support for the Mac?
SLI is applicable to any platform including PCs, Mac and Linux.
All of this information bodes well to the gaming market, and it looks as if Mac users may not be left out in the cold this time. The new Voodoo 4 series cards, featuring a single processor and 32MB of RAM, will be available for approximately US$179 (actual price will vary based on memory prices). The Voodoo5 5x series will feature dual processors, and will start at US$229, while the top level Voodoo5 6000 AGP will feature 4 processors and 128MB of RAM. Users will pay for those features, however, as the expected price of the top model is US$599.99. You can find more information at the 3Dfx web site.
[9:00 AM] Default Folder Gets Funky With Multi-User Support
St. Clair Software has updated the utility Default Folder to version 3.0.4. The popular utility, today announced as part of the shareware Reaction Bundle, allows users to more efficiently manage their files in Apple's "Open" and "Save" dialog boxes. The new version adds multi-user support. According to St. Clair Software:
St. Clair Software has updated Default Folder to version 3.0.4, bringing multi-user support to its popular control panel for enhancing Open and Save dialogs. This release takes advantage of the new Multiple User feature of Mac OS 9, as well as correcting a compatibility problem with some OS 9 applications.
Highlights of the changes in Default Folder 3.0.4 include:
Mac OS 9's Multiple User feature is now supported. When users log in and out, Default Folder will automatically load their private preference files. Folder's created with Default Folder's "New Folder" command now correctly inherit the view mode of their parent folder. An incompatibility with Carbon 1.0 applications, specifically Mac OS 9's Script Editor, has been fixed.
Default Folder is available as shareware for US$25, and registered users of version 3.x can upgrade for free. Registered users of older versions can upgrade for US$15. Special pricing is also available in the Reaction Bundle configuration. You can find more information at the St. Clair Software web site.
[9:00 AM] Three Great Tastes That Taste Great Together
Speaking of Default Folder, three popular shareware utilities have been conveniently bundled for easier access and usability. The Reaction Bundle bring Default Folder, AliasMenu, and BeHierarchic together in a fully optimized package. According to the software authors:
THE REACTION BUNDLE
Default Folder, AliasMenu and BeHierarchic have been optimized to work better together, delivering a rich set of features without going overboard and bloating the system with unnecessary extra functions. They are all fully compatible with Mac OS 9. They are easy to get started with, won't take up excessive amounts of memory and processor time, and won't cause conflicts and crashes on users' Macs.
All three of these utilities are also time-tested and immensely popular in their own rights. They have all been chosen as "Best of Class" picks by Version Tracker.
By installing AliasMenu, BeHierarchic, and Default Folder together, users get the following added benefits:
BeHierarchic makes AliasMenu's menus hierarchical, just like the Apple menu.
When a text clipping is selected in a submenu, BeHierarchic "passes" it to AliasMenu, which in turn types the text in the front application.
Folders and files selected with Default Folder are automatically transmitted to the "Recent" menus of BeHierarchic.
When an "Open" or "Save" dialog is front, selecting an item in AliasMenu (or in a BeHierarchic submenu) shows the item in the dialog's list.
AliasMenu's user-defined keyboard shortcuts also work on the Default Folder-enhanced file dialogs, allowing instant navigation to frequently used folders.
The three programs are fully compatible with Multiple User mode in Mac OS 9, which makes them suitable for classrooms, families, and offices with shared Macs.
The Reaction Bundle is available for US$39.95, or approximately savings of 66% over each product purchased individually. You can find more information at the Reaction Bundle web site.
[9:00 AM] Jumpin' Jehosevitz! Thar's Creepin Critters Everywhere!
The Mac-Stacks Emporium has released a freeware version of Creepin' Critter Math. Educational titles such as this simplify the learning process, while making computer use for children more enjoyable. According to the Mac-Stacks Emporium:
Creepin' Critter Math is a math practice game with problems such as pre-K counting, basic math facts, and double-digit problems involving carrying, borrowing and remainders.
The Creepin' Critter format is a multiple-choice challenge in which children choose the answer to a math question by swatting one of four bugs which are creeping up a wall towards "picture frames" which contain four possible answers. If the incorrect bug is swatted, the other three continue creeping up the wall giving the child further chances to swat the correct bug. If the correct bug is not swatted by the time one of the bugs crawls underneath one of the picture frames, then the correct answer flashes several times and another problem is presented. After finishing a game, the problems which were answered incorrectly or not at all may be repeated.
The distance the bugs creep before reaching the picture frames may be decreased, giving the child less time to swat the correct bug, but increasing the possible score. An arcade-style "Top Ten List" shows the child's highest scores, and so gives an incentive to improve.
For children who do not like swatting bugs, an alternative game called Bubble Poppin' Math is included. As the name implies, this alternative requires popping the correct bubble among four bubbles which are rising from a bubble bath towards a steam enshrouded ceiling. Floating in the steam are four possible answers to a problem.
The freeware version of Creepin' Critters math contains only the beginner level, as opposed to 4 difficulty levels in the full version. You can find more information at the Mac-Stacks Emporium web site.
[8:30 AM] Johnny Come Lightly, But You Can Chat With Him Too
This week's MyMac Magazine's weekly chat will feature John Martellaro of applelinks.com. As always, that chat will take place at the World Without Borders web site. According to MyMac Magazine:
World Without Borders a web-browser based chat community.
After the chat, stop by My Mac magazine and read Tim Robertson's "My Turn: The New Macintoshes." Tim delves into the look, feel, and performance of the latest of Apple's offerings -- the G4 PowerMac.
Visit My Mac today! With its Mac user interviews, professional cartoonist, and some of the finest columnists in the Mac community, it's the hottest Mac ezine being published today.
You can find more information at the My Mac Magazine web site.
The Mac Observer Spin: Mr. Martellaro is one of the finest writers in the Mac community, though that could actually sell him a bit short. He has appeared as a guest writer for The Mac Observer in our "How The Mac Changed The World" series. This should prove to be an excellent chat, so see you there!
[8:30 AM] Paint This Rainbow With All Manner Of New Features
Addiction Interactive has updated Rainbow Painter to version 1.5.0. The new version of the image editing program adds a number of help type features, giving users more information about the program's functionality, as well as a host of performance enhancements and bug fixes. According to Addiction Interactive:
The new version includes the following features:
New user interface features:
'Tips' added (accessible from the main menu, press 'Esc'), where you'll find useful hints and tips.
'FAQ' added (accessible from the main menu, press 'Esc'), where you'll find some frequently asked questions and their answers.
'Info' buttons added to the dialogs of all picture effects, picture operations, and layer operations. Clicking on the 'Info' button will bring up brief info about the effect/operation and how it works.
New image editing features:
New picture format: JPEG/JFIF pictures can now be imported.
New picture tools: "Scroll Layer", "Square Selection".
You can now make a 'Selection' using the picture tool "Square Selection". The 'Selection' is supported by all picture effects (so they only affect the selected area), as well as some picture/layer operations.
Improved image editing features:
All picture effects now support 'Selection'.
The picture operation 'Crop To Alpha' has been replaced with 'Crop', which crops to 'Selection' (if no selection has been made, it crops to alpha).
The name of the layer operation 'Copy' has been changed to 'Transfer', and it now supports 'Selection' (on the source picture).
In the picture effect dialogs, the 'Effect strength' has been replaced with 'Intensity' and 'Opacity'.
Misc. changes and improvements have been made to some dialogs.
Running Rainbow Painter from CD crashed the program. Now an alert is displayed, telling the user not to run from CD.
The layer operation 'Move' corrupted the picture if all edit buttons were turned off.
Trying to 'Undo' after using the layer operation 'New' with all edit buttons turned off, would corrupt the picture.
Having two 'Realtime Zoom' contents visible at the same time could, in some rare cases, crash the program.
Trying to apply an effect when no edit buttons were switched on, did not generate an error dialog.
Importing a picture didn't work if the file's extension was in lower case.
Rainbow Painter is available as shareware for US$20. You can find more information at the Addiction Interactive web site.