Macs making inroads on NASA's Cassini mission

The next time NASA launches a craft into space, it may receive many of its navigational instructions from programs run on the Mac. That's a possibility espoused by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory's (JPL) Nathan Strange and Troy Goodson, two Cassini mission navigators who perform their critical work on Dell machines running Linux but also keep Macs at their desks for other uses. Macs sit next to Linux boxes on most of the 14 navigators' desks.

Mozilla releases Camino 0.8.3

The Mozilla Organization has made Camino 0.8.3 available for download. The latest update to the pre-release version of the free Web browser features several performance enhancements and bug fixes, including the addition of a page's secure status to the location bar and a fix for a Google Maps problem. Mac OS X v10.1.5, 128MB of RAM and 30MB free hard drive space are required; users who want to test out the nightly builds need v10.2.

iCompositions offers another 121 free loops

iCompositions on Thursday announced that it has partnered with Bandmateloops to give away another 121 free loops for GarageBand, bringing the total free loops available on the iCompositions Web site to 417. The collections includes acoustic and electric guitar tracks, acoustic and electriconic drums and a variety of synths. The electronic drums come from Bandmateloops' Apple Loops Collection. You must be a registered iCompositions user to download the free loops. Sign-ups are free. to release QuickVerse for Mac, which specializes in developing software for churches, has announced that it will ship a Macintosh version of its QuickVerse Bible study application sometime this spring. QuickVerse enables users to prepare sermons, prepare lessons and daily reading plans or simply study the Bible. It features a robust search engine, photos and maps, word pronunciation, commentary an integrated word processor and more.

FileWave intros FileWave 2.0, Asset Trustee 7.0

Swiss developer FileWave on Thursday released version 2.0 of its software distribution application FileWave as well as version 7.0 of its inventory software Asset Trustee. FileWave 2.0 features Patch Installer, which enables network administrators to automatically distribute operating system updates to all users, and Client Manager, which gives administrators the ability to create client groups. Client Manager can also import clients from such Directory systems as LDAP, Active and Open Directory, as well as from text files.

Rip Monkey rips up to 600 CDs into iTunes

Lexington, Mass.-based developer Portents has released The Rip Monkey, a new solution designed to work with up to three of PowerFile's R200 MFX series libraries, each of which can hold up to 200 CDs. Once set up, The Rip Monkey converts all the tracks on the CDs to MP3, AAC, AIFF or WAV format and imports them into iTunes. The software by itself is US$999; bundles that include PowerFile libraries start at $3,999. Mac OS X v10.3, iTunes 4.7 and 1GB of free hard drive space are required.

ChronoSync 3 adds new sync options, more

Econ Technologies on Wednesday released ChronoSync 3, the latest version of its synchronization and backup utility. This upgrade offers a redesigned interface and several new features, including the ability to automatically awaken a Mac to perform schedule operations, the option to control all synchronizations from a status bar, file change detection based on seven file properties that can be turned on or off to customization the synchronization process and more.

Archway Systems ships VersaCAD 2005 for Mac

Design software developer Archway Systems Inc. on Wednesday shipped VersaCAD 2005 for Macintosh. A company representative confirmed with MacCentral that this version of the software offers the same features as VersaCAD 2001 for Macintosh -- the major changes are native support for Mac OS X and the print-to-PDF feature found in most applications published for the operating system. The representative also noted that, because the previous version only ran in Classic mode in OS X, adding printers is much easier now.

Xrackhosting debuts dedicated Mac Mini hosting

Hosting services company XrackHosting, which focuses on Mac-based solutions, on Wednesday debuted dedicated hosting packages that feature Mac OS X Server v10.3 running on a Mac mini. In addition, they include Apple's GUI-based server administration tools, which include Apache, MySQL, WebObjects and other services. Monthly pricing starts at US$199.95 for the 1.25GHz G4 mini, which includes 256MB RAM, a 40GB hard drive and 100GB of data transfers per month. $229.95 per month bumps customers up to the 1.42GHz G4 mini with an 80GB hard drive; more RAM, a backup drive and larger and/or faster hard drives can be added for an extra fee. Until April 15, XrackHosting is giving a free iPod shuffle to all customers who sign up for the new service.

DLO offers Cool Caps for iPod shuffle

Digital Lifestyle Outfitters has released Cool Caps, sets of caps, lanyards and lanyard clips for the iPod shuffle that come in package of five. Unlike the lanyard that comes with the flash-based MP3 player, the Cool Caps lanyard is adjustable. The cap covers the shuffle's USB 2.0 port. Each Cool Caps package features five sets of the accessories in green, blue, white, purple and orange; the colors can be mixed and matched. Pricing is US$29.99.

iSpeak It 2.0 adds podcast support, more

ZappTek on Tuesday released version 2.0 of iSpeak It, a utility that converts written documents into MP3 or AAC files for listening to in iTunes or on an iPod. This upgrade adds support for downloading podcasts and converting them into the preferred format, with additional support for tracking the history of RSS feeds, so that users know which entries haven't been heard yet. iSpeak It 2.0 also adds several performance enhancements, including the ability to select multiple URLs to download.

Inquire4D toolset builds speech-driven 4D databases

InquireTec and 4D Inc. have jointly announced the release of Inquire 4D, a toolset that enables 4D developers to build voice-driven databases. It takes advantage of the text-to-speech engines that are included with Mac OS X and Windows XP, although the SUI Pack, which offers more functionality than the basic SUI Lite plug-in, is available only for Mac OS X.

Marketing to MUGs, more MUG Center news

"But there are more and perhaps even better reasons to work the Mac market, and especially that bastion of the serious Mac user, the user group," writes Chuck Joiner in his latest blog entry on the Macintosh User Group (MUG) Center Web site. He's responding to an article explaining why start-up companies are missing an opportunity if they don't produce products for the Mac. He goes beyond the original argument, however, to explain how developers, especially fledgling companies, can leverage MUGs to build a foundation for their efforts, and goes on to detail two examples of such a strategy.

Stock mkt tool SASS 1.4 adds Internet access, more

Intuitec Software has released version 1.4 of its Stock Analysis and Selection Software (SASS), which can now access the Internet to obtain financial data for publicly traded companies in the United States and Canada, as well as retrieve stock ticker symbols for public companies in 12 countries. SASS 1.4 saves data in the .ssg file format.