Alien Apparatus Co. Inc. has released version 2.0 of Solo Performer Show Controller, a system for musicians that controls background music, lyrics displays, MIDI effects and light shows. The hardware side consists of a six-button foot controller that connects via USB, with software that runs on Windows or Macintosh. This upgrade adds more MIDI control functionality, including sending MIDI files to external devices and automatically changing MIDI effects settings. It can also send hotkey commands that control other applications and redefine button functions on the foot controller. Pricing for the full system is US$395, but Alien Apparatus doesn't note upgrade pricing for the software. System requirements call for Mac OS X v10.2, a G3 500MHz processor, 128MB RAM, 120MB free hard drive space and an audio output jack.
German developer Acronnect Software has released free updates to its ImageEngine and ImageEngineExport Adobe Acrobat plug-ins. The former enables users to manipulate images in a PDF document, including exporting them as Adobe Photoshop files, while the latter only includes the export function. ImageEngine 1.2 and ImageEngineExport 1.1.4 both add compatibility with Adobe Acrobat 7, with the former also enabling image export in TIFF format, providing its own toolbar within Acrobat and supplying a new Render PDF function that combines the Render Pages and Import features. ImageEngine pricing starts at £220 (US$291) while its companion sells for £59 ($78). Both plug-ins require Mac OS X v10.2 and work with Acrobat 5 or higher.
Boinx Software on Tuesday released version 1.2 of FotoMagico, its slideshow creation tool. The upgrade adds full support for all iPhoto 5 album types and is now compatible with more image formats. It also enables users to place titles in slides, insert a blank slide, resize images and titles by dragging handles on their corners and more. Added performance enhancements include easier export to QuickTime or a DVD, the retention of the last Options panel settings as default values for all new slides and more. This is a free update for existing users; the full software is US$79. Mac OS X v10.3, an 800MHz G4 processor and "a fairly recent graphics card with a lot of VRAM (64MB would be best)" are required.
French developer So Smart Software on Tuesday released six freeware plug-ins for use with Runtime Revolution's Dreamcard and Revolution software development environments. The plug-ins include: Color Picker, a color management tool; Guides Picker, which provides guides and a magnifying glass for building sophisticated interfaces; Encoded Text Picker, an HTML and URLencode translator; Navigation Picker, a navigation palette and card management utility; Message Box Picker, which offers more functionalities for the message box; and Objects Picker, which manages cards and controls. So Smart also announced that in the coming months it will produce more plug-ins and stacks via the RevOnline service.
MacSpeech has published a new iListen ScriptPak for Entourage 2004 users. The add-on installs almost 300 of the most commonly used commands into iListen, enabling users to speak virtually every command contained in Entourage 2004's keyboard shortcuts and menus. Pricing is US$29 and iListen 1.6.5 and Mac OS X v10.3 are required. iListen is $99, with a package including the software and a microphone-equipped headset available for $149.
Black Cat Systems has released Sound Byte 2.4, the latest version of its software that turns a Mac into a "cart machine" for playing audio. It's aimed at radio station DJs and others who need to quickly select and play pre-recorded audio. This upgrade enables users to display fewer carts but make them larger, program fade times for each cart and set carts to disable themselves after they're played, which makes it easier to see which ones still need to be played.
TheImagingFactory has released version 3.0 of ConvertToBW, its Adobe Photoshop plug-in that converts color images to black-and-white while mimicking conventional photography techniques. It can be used to pre-filter colors, define color and tonal responses and apply one of two types of Sepia toning. This upgrade offers a redesigned user interface and includes such improvements as a resizable preview window, user-definable presets for each parameter and an enhanced engine that favors 16-bit processing. Users who bought version 2.0 after July 2004 can upgrade for free while those who purchased the plug-in before then will have to pay US$39.95. The full software is $99.95.
Technical book publisher O'Reilly on Friday announced that "Office 2004 for Mac: The Missing Manual" is now available. Written by Mark H. Walker and Franklin Tessler, the 736-page tome covers all four Microsoft Office applications -- Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Entourage -- and delves into not only what's new, such as the integrated Project Center and Toolbox, but also dispenses tips and advice aimed at both newbies and old hands. The cover price is US$29.95.
Olympus on Thursday also debuted new underwater housings for its Evolte E-300 digital SLR camera, E-System Zuiko Digital Specific lenses and FL-36 flash. Rated for use in water up to 180 feet deep, the lens housings are made of die-cast aluminum and glass while the camera housing is made of transparent polycarbonate, with grips and levers made of the same material. An LCD hood on the back of the latter makes the display easier to see and the control buttons are made of stainless steel, nickel-played brass. All of the housings include safety locks. Olympus said that availability and pricing will be announced at a later date.
Daystar Technology on Friday expanded its service offerings for Macintosh computers with the opening of PowerMacService.com and MacPowerBookService.com. The former is available for Power Mac computers dating back to the 7000 series while the latter covers laptops as old as the PowerBook 100 and the G3 clamshell iBook. Both sites charge a US$95 bench fee for out-of-warranty service or $47.50 for a diagnostic, which is free with service.
In addition to its new printers, HP on Friday also tipped its hand ahead of PMA 2005 by announcing five new cameras that will be unveiled at the show, including a BMW William F1 Team Special Edition model that sounds like a racing car engine when turned on. The Photosmart R717 features stainless steel construction while the Photosmart M417 offers an ergonomic grip. The Photosmart M22 and M23 cameras feature weather-resistant metal cases. HP did not announce pricing, save a US$149 to $349 range. All of the cameras require Mac OS X v10.1.5.
iStumbler, the free utility for locating AirPort networks, Bluetooth devices and mDNS (Multicast-DNS, or Rendezvous) services, has received an overall face-lift with Release 91, which was scheduled to be issued on Friday. This edition displays icons for various items in the Airport, Bluetooth and mDNS plug-ins, improves the menus and enhances stability, memory and processor usage. Mac OS X v10.3 is required. For US$10, you can receive the next 10 updates to iStumbler a week before they're posted on the Web. The developer's Web site had not been updated with the new version as MacCentral posted this article.
ZappTek on Thursday released iSpeak It 1.7, a free upgrade for registered users of its utility that turns documents and Web pages into iTunes tracks that can be transferred to an iPod. This update enables downloading full articles from RSS news feeds, adds batch processing for converting multiple files simultaneously, downloads multiple URLs simultaneously, improves PDF processing and more. iSpeak It is US$12.95 and requires Mac OS X v10.2.
Hewlett Packard on Friday announced that it will introduce two professional-level printers -- the Photosmart 8750 and the Designjet 90 series -- at next week's Photo Marketing Association (PMA) trade show in Orlando. The company did not have product pages on its Web site when MacCentral posted this article.
The Omni Group on Thursday released version 3.0.1 of OmniOutliner and OmniOutliner Professional. The upgrades, which are free for registered users, include performance and stability enhancements, better import and export functionality and tweaks to the interface. OmniOutliner is US$39.95 and the Professional version, which adds such features as audio recording, is $69.95. Upgrades from version 2.x to the regular and Pro editions are $19.95 and $49.95, respectively. Mac OS X v10.2 is required.