The latest User Group Report, this week's meetings

Chuck Joiner has updated The Macintosh User Group (MUG) Center with his latest User Group Report. Joiner chats with The AppleWorks User Group's Warren Williams and Cathy Merritt, who discuss adapting their group to Apple's new iWork '05 suite, and Scott Knaster, who talks about his new book, Hacking Mac OS X Tiger, and how MUGs can invite him to speak at their next meeting. The User Group Report is available in streaming QuickTime or as a downloadable Podcast or MP3 file.

Physics 101 SE 4.1 adds new formulas, tools

Praeter Software on Monday released Physics 101 SE 4.1, an update to its tool set aimed at physics students of all grade levels. Version 4.1 adds support for more formulas, bringing the total to over 80, as well as a Body Diagram Simulator that shows how a mass would move under certain conditions, a RelativisticFX tool for calculating special relativity, a PeriodicX periodic table reference and a Springz tool for studying waves and oscillations. This is a free update for registered users. Physics 101 SE is US$9.95 and works with any version of Mac OS X through v10.2.

InterSystems brings Cache database to Mac

InterSystems Corp. on Monday made its Caché post-relational database available for Mac OS X. Caché includes three ways -- object, SQL and multi-dimensional -- to simultaneously access the same data. It features Unified Data Architecture, which automatically makes information available as both objects and tables, transactional bit-map indexing and connectivity with such monitoring tools as BMC's Patrol and Fortel's Sightline.

Giga intros 1.8GHz single, dual processor upgrades

Giga Designs has introduced its latest single and dual processor upgrades, the G-celerator AGP 7A series, which uses the latest Freescale G4 processors with 512KB on-chip L2 cache. The single processor version, which is available now, is compatible with the Power Mac Cube as well as all machines produced between the AGP (Sawtooth) and Quicksilver 2002 models. The dual processor edition, which will ship in early March, works with the range of all AGP (Sawtooth) and Gigabit Ethernet computers through Quicksilver 2002. A 1.6GHz dual processor upgrade for the Cube will be released at the same time.

Motorola unveils first iTunes-capable cell phone

Motorola on Monday announced that its first iTunes-compatible 3G cell phone will be available in the fourth quarter. Dubbed E1060, the new model will feature a mobile version of iTunes music player capable of carrying a limited, but as yet undefined, number of songs. It will also include video download and playback capability, a color display, a 1.3-megapixel camera with 8x zoom, two-way video calling, an integrated speakerphone and dedicated Internet browser keys. Video plays at VGA (640 x 480) resolution.

Bubbler offers drag-and-drop blogging

Five Across Inc. on Monday introduced Bubbler, a blog-based tool that enables users to create and update Web pages in real-time by dragging and dropping text, images, links, audio and video directly to the client. Bubbler also offers wiki-like collaboration for users authorized by the Web page owner. The software is available now as a free Beta download that requires Mac OS X v10.2. After the Beta expires on a date to be announced, Five Across will offer Bubbler with two tiers of service: Basic (US$4.99 per month or $49 per year), which includes 100MB of storage and 1GB of bandwidth per month, and Pro ($9.99 per month or $99 per year), which comes with 1GB of storage and 3GB of bandwidth per month. All users get their first 30 days for free.

Apple partners with Euro telecom firm Teleca

European telecom services company Teleca on Monday announced a partnership with Apple that will enable the services provider to use Apple's hardware and software in its creation, delivery and multimedia playback solutions. The news was released at the 3GSM World Congress being held this week in France. Apple's technology -- especially Mac OS X, Xserve and Xsan -- will be the focal point of Teleca's efforts to build everything from software for mobile devices to large IT networks. Teleca's Popwire subsidiary creates multimedia software for cell phones and expects to employ QuickTime, which uses the scalable, high-definition H.264 codec in its upcoming seventh version, extensively in its solutions.

FireWire Depot intros new SATA, FireWire products

FireWire Depot on Friday introduced several new Serial ATA (SATA) products as well as three new FireWire products: a hard drive enclosure and CD and DVD burners. The SATA products include a US$48.99 removable SATA drive tray compatible with three of the company's removable drive systems; a $25 SATA pass-through bracket for converting SCSI cases to SATA cases or for accessing internal SATA ports; a variety of SATA multi-drive enclosures; and a $25 SATA PCI bracket that makes internal SATA ports accessible externally.

Fuji intros new cameras, cell phone camera printer

Fuji has introduced four new FinePix cameras -- the 6.3-megapixel F10, the 5.1-megapixel Z1, the 4.1-megapixel A345 and the 5.2-megapixel A350 -- and a portable printer, Digital Mobile Printer MP-70, that can download photos from cell phones via infrared. The FinePix F10, which will ship in April for US$499.95, features a 2.5-inch LCD, 3x optical and 6.2x digital zoom, video capture ability at 640 x 480 or 320 x 240 resolution, five preprogrammed scene modes and a rechargeable battery. It supports the PictBridge, DPOF and EXIF Print 2.2 printing interfaces and uses xD-Picture media, with a 16MB card included.

StickyBrain 3.3 now creates notes in any app

Chronos on Friday released StickyBrain 3.3, an update to its note creation and management utility that introduces QuickNote, which enables users to write notes while in any application. The developer said that, whether StickyBrain is running or not, the user can press a pre-defined hot key to bring up QuickNote and type comments or drag and drop content. This upgrade also features several performance improvements and user interface tweaks. It's a free update for registered users; the full software is US$39.99. Mac OS X v10.3 and 60MB of available hard drive space are required.

Pixar reports most profitable year yet

Steve Jobs' other company, Pixar Animation Studios, on Thursday reported its most profitable fiscal year yet: earnings of US$141.7 million, or $2.38 per share, on $273.5 million in revenues. The company attributed the success to the box office performance of The Incredibles, as well as the home video version of Finding Nemo, which continues to bring in significant revenue despite the fact that it was released in November 2003. For the fourth quarter of the fiscal year that ended Jan. 1, Pixar accumulated $55.2 million, or $0.91 per share, of profit on revenues of $108.9 million. Those numbers were down compared to the $83.9 million in profit and $1.44 per share reported on $164.8 million in revenue during the fourth quarter of 2003.

Media Rage 1.7 adds FreeDB Query tool, more

Chaotic Software on Friday released an update to Media Rage, its collection of tools for editing, organizing and modifying audio files. Version 1.7 adds a FreeDB Query tool that accesses the FreeDB music database and adds the information to the selected files. It also refines the artwork search function and offers several other performance improvements, as well as bug fixes. Chaotic doesn't note if this is a free upgrade. The full software is US$24.95, while MP3 Rage users can upgrade to Media Rage for $9.95. Mac OS X v10.2 is required.

SwapTop steps back into the Webshots gap

British developer Zonic on Friday released SwapTop 2.0, a revival of the product that the company introduced in 2001 to fill the gap left by the demise of Webshots, which provided desktop images and screensavers from its servers on a rotating basis. Webshots was a casualty of the problems at Excite@Home, which laid off many employees in mid-2001 and simply killed the service. Zonic introduced the first version of SwapTop at that time, but at the end of 2002, Webshots returned as a CNET Networks product, which prompted Zonic to convert its software into a free download and cease development.

Internet TV viewer iTube adds QT integration, more

East Bay Technologies on Thursday released iTube 1.3, the latest version of its software that enables you to watch more than 1,500 channels of Internet-based TV programs, Webcams and music video channels. This upgrade features integration with QuickTime, resulting in the addition of over 100,000 QuickTime files to iTube's Internet Video Search function. It also includes the ability to switch into full-screen mode as well as several bug fixes. This is a free update for registered users; the full software is US$24. Mac OS X v10.2 and Safari are required.

RoadWired launches Skooba series of laptop bags

On Thursday, Rochester, New York-based RoadWired launched a new series of laptop bags and sleeves dubbed the Skooba collection. The main product is the Skooba Satchel, a laptop bag featuring more than a dozen compartments and pockets and an inner lining made of Air Square, a heavy-duty, bubble wrap-like material designed to cushion the computer. It also includes panels compatible with RoadWired's Rivert clip system, for attaching portable devices to the bag. The US$99.95 Skooba Satchel is made of ballistic nylon and comes in four color combinations: black with blue trim, gray with orange trim, olive with red trim and tan with black trim.