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November 12th, 1999

[5:30 PM] The Week's Top Stories For Week Ending 11/12/1999

[4:45 PM] You Can Lead An AlphaNatix To Water...
by Staff

Monkey Byte Development has introduced a new game called AlphaNatix. The AlphaNatix series are centered around puzzles and the company says that this is merely the first in a series. According to Monkey Byte Software:

Monkey Byte Development announced today the latest addition to their online publishing kingdom: AlphaNatix, Urban Legends Edition. AlphaNatix is developed by Itty Bitty Games, formerly Zero Entertainment, who continue their mission of creating absurdly cool games. Urban Legends is the first of a series of AlphaNatix titles. Each puzzle pack sells for $14.95 for key code or $19.95 for CD-ROM (which has all the Monkey Byte demos).

About AlphaNatix (Al-Fanatics)

Wind your way around a wicked word challenges. Rack up letters, avoid hazards and race to complete your word list before time runs out. Once you've a completed puzzle, go back and try to beat your own score. AlphaNatix is available for MacOS and Windows.

The Urban Legends Edition is our first collection of perplexing puzzles all wrapped up in the crazy mythos of this brave new world in which we live. Have you heard about the pet dog that was really a sewer rat? Have you been warned about kidney thieves? Did you get the $650 cookie recipe? This Edition has 30 of your favorites--and every single one of them is true!

*** Special Offer ***

Two more AlphaNatix titles will be released this month, Cult Movies and Wild Kingdom. Right now, Monkey Byte is offering a pre-order special. Order all three AlphaNatix titles for only $30 ($35 for the CD) before December 1st, 1999. That's a savings of $15!

Each AlphaNatix title is priced at US$14.95 each with the special offer listed above applying. You can find more information on AlphaNatix at the Monkey Byte web site.

Monkey Byte Development

[4:45 AM] MegaChanges In MegaMineSweeper Update
by Staff

Carrot Software has released another update to MegaMinesweeper. This version, still in beta, includes many improvements. According to Carrot Software:

Carrot Software has released version 0.9.2b0 of the game Mega Minesweeper. It is available for download in English and Swedish.

Major Changes:

  • A new theme 'Hazwaste' by Jason Aller is included.
  • Floating window support on 8.5 machines (previously 8.6 was required)

Minor Changes:

  • Fixed activation bug. Now deactivates placard control in bottom on activate/deactivate events.
  • Fixed WaitNextEvent() bug with sleep time during uncovering / when background process
  • Fixed a bug that could cause the application to crash. If quitting with the main window closed, it would crash the application (although not the system)
  • Better cursor tracking. Tracks correctly over furled up windows
  • Game automatically scrolls when tracking mouse downs and mouse leaves the window.
  • Added support for floating windows on 8.5 and newer systems
  • Added Theme support for custom colors in the Navigation window
  • Minor optimizations to all offscreen drawing code.
  • Decent improvements to number drawing functions.

You can find more information and download links at the company's web site.

Carrot Software

[4:20 PM] The Apple Stock Watch: The Dow Plays Catch-up, Apple Retrenches at $90 5/8
by Wes George

The tech stocks head faked a continuation of their rally on the Nasdaq this morning then headed south, but they couldn't be held down, roaring back to post yet another all time high, in spite of Intel, Microsoft, Cisco and Dell trading down. What should of been the Dow's day in the sun, as the NYSE put in a strong advance, was dimmed by the Nasdaq's disdain for gravity.

The US 3rd quarter productivity numbers showed strong growth with an increase of 4.2%. Economists expected closer to a 3.0% gain. Labor costs took a downturn, advancing only 0.6% during the quarter, much better than the expected 1.4% rise analysts were looking for.

Meanwhile, the Commerce Department said retail sales were flat in October. The economy is experiencing rapid growth with less inflation because increases in productivity are keeping wages and costs down. Just two more trading days till the Federal Reserve's policy meeting, but few seemed worried.

The Nasdaq rose 23.6 points (0.74%) to close at 3220.89 on a volume of 1.4 billion shares traded, the 4th highest volume in history. Today was the 10th time in 11 sessions that the Nasdaq has set new record highs. The Nasdaq ends the week up 46% year to date, led forward today by the Internet stocks, the online brokers, and financial stocks.

Semiconductor issues experienced heavy profit taking in spite of Merill Lynch's upgraded to its price target on the sector yesterday. Merill said that demand for computer chips will stay high for several years.

The Dow settled near the day's high, up 174 (1.64%) to close at 10769 on a volume of 880 million shares, led by strong financial stocks. This places the Dow in range to challenge the significant 10800 resistance level next week which, if broken, could lead to a broadening of the rally. Moreover, the good productivity numbers out this morning may give the bulls some confidence next week.

The S&P 500 advanced 14.5 points (1.05%) to close at 1396.

Apple spent the day retrenching in the 90 range, down 1 5/8 (1.76%) to 90 5/8 on less than half the average volume. Speculation that Apple is planning a serious retail development project leaked out beyond the Mac community today. Perhaps, investors took this as a nod to the success of Gateway's Country Stores concept since Gateway rose 5 5/16 to 81 5/8 with little explanation.

Intel (INTC) got whacked today with a downgrade by Joe Osha of Merrill Lynch to accumulate from buy. Mr. Osha said that the next generation of Intel chips, "will prove disappointing to investors who have high expectations for the first generation of that product." Intel lost 3 1/4 (4.0%) to end at 76 3/16.

Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (AMD) reported that it would break even in the 4th quarter turning around a recent downtrend in earnings. Advanced Micro lost 1 9/16 to close at 26 11/16.

Dell was down 1 11/16 to close at 41 3/4 after reporting 3rd quarter earnings on target with analysts' lowered expectations of US$0.18 per share. Dell's earnings for the quarter had been revised down from $0.20 per share because high DRAM prices have eroded Dell's profit margin. Dell's earnings showed a decline of 25% over the same period a year ago. Analyst Andy Neff of Bear Stearns commented that, "Hardware profitability is under pressure and Dell is unable to offset it". Mr. Neff revised downward his profit forecast for the next fiscal year to US$1.00 per share from US$1.05.

Microsoft (MSFT) lost a 1/2 point to close at 89 1/8.

In Apple related stocks, Adobe posted gains, up 2 11/16 to 75 1/8, and so did Macromedia, up 15/16 to 58 15/16. Akamai, Arm Holdings, Motorola, and Symantec were down.

Oracle hit a new all time high, up 3 1/16 to close at 65 1/8, boosted ahead by news that they plan to collaborate with IBM to develop a Unix based OS designed for the next generation of Intel processors. IBM advanced 7/8 to 95 7/8.

Sun Microsystems was also very strong today up 4 9/16 to 48 5/16 after shareholders approved a two for one stock split.

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.


[Column] The Back Page - The Freedom To Innovate? What A Load Of Bull!

[2:00 PM] VPC Helper Adds MacOS 8.x Compatibility, Easier Controls
by Staff

AuctionMac Software has upgraded the Windows emulation assistant utility, VPC Helper, to version 1.1. VPC Helper assists in configuring Virtual PC for optimal performance, allowing improved speed, greater ease of use, and more stability for the popular Windows emulator. The new version adds easier to manage controls, and better performance with OS 8.x. According to AuctionMac:

AuctionMac Software has released VPC Helper v1.1, an upgrade to the new utility aimed at users of Connectix' award-winning Virtual PC Windows emulation software. What's new? We've added extension/control panel set support for all users... VPC Helper is no longer limited to working with Conflict Catcher 8 only! VPC Helper v1.1 is also better suited for Mac OS 8 (before it was mainly limited to Mac OS 9 users).

Emulating a Windows PC on a Mac stresses every system resource, making large amounts of RAM and processor cycles required commodities. Up to now, freeing up RAM and processor speed for Virtual PC has been tedious, time-consuming, and irritating. Now, VPC Helper offers tried-and-true methods of safely freeing up resources for maximum Virtual PC performance.

VPC Helper v1.1 offers several features... VPC Helper will quickly prepare your Mac for Virtual PC use and allow one-click configuration and return. VPC Helper will set your Virtual Memory settings (Mac OS 9 is needed for this feature), set extension/control panel startup sets, quit the Finder, quit 'hidden' background apps and processes, and restart your Mac (if needed) in direct preparation for maximum Virtual PC use! And VPC Helper quickly configures and reconfigures settings with a click of the button!

A 64MB G3 can run a stable Windows 98 OS without the drawbacks of using Virtual Memory (VPC Helper works with any version of Virtual PC)! VPC Helper will safely and easily free as many resources as possible to help you get the most out of Virtual PC. In our tests, VPC Helper methods dramatically improved both CPU and disk-intensive processes! (A complete performance comparison chart is available on the web site.)

VPC Helper is available as shareware for US$8.99. You can find more information at the AuctionMac web site.


[12:30 PM] The iSpark: Another iMac Clock? (With Pic)
by Staff

We received a note from an Observer named Mark from Nice, France, who found another iMac inspired clock, of all things. Mark sent us the note after reading our story about a Timex branded iMac clock. That story generated a follow-up story as Observers sent us images of the product. This one is manufactured by a Taiwanese manufacturer called Golden Spark, which we will assume has a better meaning in Taiwan. According to Mark:

Just came across this little Taiwan made alarm clock. Reminds me of something...

It's made by Golden Spark, a Taiwan based electronics manufacturer (sparks not included in price...I hope!).

Thought you could be interested.

Mark (Nice-France)

Thanks for the letter and the image Mark!

The Mac Observer Spin: What is it with clock manufacturers that makes them want to make clocks shaped like an iMac? This one is not as elegant as the Timex manufactured device, but it's still nifty looking. It remains to be seen if Apple intends to do anything about this form of design theft.


[10:45 AM] Microsoft Eats Its Own: Follow-up
by Staff

We ran a story on Wednesday about an incident with a Microsoft retailer being sued by Microsoft. The original point of that story was to illustrate how Microsoft has such a voracious appetite that it will even eat those propagating their products. We received the following letter from an Observer who adds to the character support of the man being sued. Refer to the original article if you have questions on this. From Ken Sharp:


I am a resident of the Berkeley Springs, WV area and know both Mr. Boles and Mr. Mattson. I have met with Mr. Boles and Mr. Mattson concerning the telescope project Mr. Boles is trying to accomplish for our community schools. Mr. Boles motives in taking on this project are far short of profit motivated, and IMHO Mr. Mattson's integrity is beyond reproach on ANY level. In my wildest imagination can I envision Mr. Boles knowingly selling illegal software.

It is my hope that you will continue to use your forum to keep the Mac community aware of this injustice, and to enlist their help. Not only can this save a man's livelihood, it can also insure the creation of a unique learning experience for the students of Morgan County.

Best regards,
Ken Sharp
RR2 Box3800
Berkeley Springs, WV

The Mac Observer Spin: Maybe this incident will convince Mr. Boles to become an Apple dealer and cast off the Redmond shackles. Of course, Apple too has had its own share of dealer-relationship problems in the past. Indeed, the company is even now rumored to be considering doing away with more of its retailers though VARs will supposedly remain. Still, when it comes down to it, would you rather be screwed by Apple or Microsoft? [Editor's Note: For the humor-impaired, that was a joke.]


[Editorial] Apple: Not Just a Hardware Company
by Oliver Dueck

[8:00 AM] More FireWire Devices Burnin' Down The House
by Staff

EZQuest, hot on the heels of their new Boa Firewire CDRW line, has begun shipping a new line of Firewire hard drives. The new drives come in various capacities, but all feature the speed and ease of use provided by Apple's Firewire technology. According to EZQuest:

EZQuest, Inc. began shipping its new line of FireWire hard drives today. The Cobra series feature 10, 20, 27 and 37GB capacities and are shipping to Apple dealers worldwide.

The Cobra series tout transfer rates of 12/13MB/sec, dual 6pin FireWire ports, internal power supply, hot plug ease of use and 2 year warranties. The Cobra series hard drives are compatible with the imac DV line, blue and white G3s as well as G4 Macintosh computers.

FireWire has become the darling of the computer industry and EZQuest is leading the way in providing storage solutions to that market, according to Ebrahim Zmehrir President of EZQuest, Inc.. "The great thing about new technologies beyond the enhanced features, is that it allows EZQuest the opportunity to get creative and provide striking new products that in turn fulfill a void. The Cobra series does just that," says Zmehrir.

The Cobra Firewire hard drives range in price from US$359 to US$699. You can find more information at the EZQuest web site.


[8:00 AM] Spinning MP3s On Your Mac Just Got Easier
by Staff

Optima System has announced another preview release of SoundSpinner MP3 1.0. Preview release 2 allows for simplified handling of MP3 files through Apple's QuickTime 4.0. According to Optima System:

SoundSpinner MP3 is an Audio player and Album manager for QuickTime 4 that plays files in the popular MP3 format plus music and sounds in AIFF, WAV, MIDI and QuickTime file formats. "New in the latest release is a "Spinner DJ" feature which can announce artists and tracks using Mac OS Text-to-Speech, plus several minor fixes and more player skins" said Jerry Aman of Optima System.

SoundSpinner MP3 version 1.0 also features custom searchable albums, random and sequential playing, Drag and Drop of files, folders and MP3 CD-ROMs, keyboard controls for volume and playback, support for ID3 information, conversion of tracks to small QDesign QT4 files, user selectable skins in WinAmp format and more.

SoundSpinner MP3 is available as shareware for the introductory price of US$6.95. You can find more information at the Optima System web site.

Optima System

[8:00 AM] Audiocorder Records New Features
by Staff

Black Cat Systems has updated Audiocorder to version 1.5.0. The new version of the multi-source sound recording utility, which allows your Mac to function like a digital audio recorder, adds the ability to set recording schedules. According to Black Cat Systems:

This version adds the ability to automate recordings by creating a schedule, much like a VCR.

Audiocorder is a VOX program which allows your Mac to act as an audio recorder. It allows you to set the volume that the sound must reach to begin recording, and the volume at which it should end recording. It also allows you to set the trigger length for the start and stop values, which helps you to eliminate recording short bursts of sound or ending the recording process during a short pause (such as in normal speech).

Each sound file is stored in AIFF format, a Macintosh standard sound format. The audio is sampled at 11, 22 or 44 kHz, with a sample size of 8 or 16 bits, either monophonic or stereo. The name of each file contains the date and time (down to seconds) the recording began.

Audiocorder is used in a wide variety of applications, including digitizing LPs and tapes, recording animals and other natural sounds, and automated recording of radio transmissions.

Audiocorder is available as shareware for US$20. You can find more information at the Black Cat Systems web site.

Black Cat Systems

[8:00 AM] AliasMenu Adds Support For Default Folders & Mac OS 9
by Staff

Benoit Widemann has updated AliasMenu to version 2.2. The new version of AliasMenu adds support for the popular utility, Default Folder. According to Mr. Widemann:

AliasMenu is a control panel allowing users to add customized menus to the menu bar. After the great success of version 2.0 (chosen by thousands of users, selected as "Top Pick" by C|Net's, recommended by many web sites and Macintosh magazines all over the world, localized to French, German and Japanese), this new version adds a great feature to AliasMenu: Default Folder support. If Default Folder is installed, any item selected in an AliasMenu menu while an Open or Save dialog is active appears in the dialog's list.

"The effect is very natural for users," says Benoît Widemann, author of AliasMenu, "They can pick items in their own custom menus anytime. Navigating between folders has never been so fast and easy. Even keyboard shortcuts are supported on file dialogs!"

Beside Default Folder support, AliasMenu 2.2 brings several nice touches:

AliasMenu now fully supports Multiple Users mode in Mac OS 9. Each user has separate menus and preferences. Limited user can use menus presets by the administrator without any open access to the control panels.

When a menu's folder is set to a label, the menu title is drawn using the label's color. Each menu can have a different color title.

AliasMenu is fully compatible with Mac OS 9. Minimum required system version is 7.0.

AliasMenu is available as shareware for US$25. You can find more information at the AliasMenu web site.


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