Chuck Joiner has posted his latest User Group Report on the Macintosh User Group (MUG) Center Web site. The new edition features discussions with Bob "Dr. Mac" LeVitus, Mesa Dynamics' Danny Espinoza and Portland MUG's Charles DeVore. LeVitus covers his new Dr. Mac Direct tech support service, Espinoza explains how his company's RSS newsreader Tickershock is different from the competition and DeVore delves into the upcoming MacCamp. Joiner mentions the MUG Center's recent makeover and solicits feedback.
24U Software on Tuesday released version 3.1 of 24U SimpleHelp, a plug-in for FileMaker developers who want to add interactive help to their custom databases. This upgrade, which is free for registered users, adds several new features, including the ability to create global tags that are active in all layouts, virtual layouts that simplify configuration switching, the ability to attach tags without needing to access the layout and more. In addition, bugs have been fixed and performance has been enhanced. Licenses cost US$48 for the first one and $12 for each additional user, with a bundling license available for $371. Mac OS X v10.2.8, a G3 processor and FileMaker Pro 7.0v1 are required.
Lemke Software has released the latest free update to GraphicConverter, its shareware graphics utility. Version 5.5.2 updates two features -- ICC profile handling in the clipboard can now be disabled and the Move Folders preference for slideshows now displays the complete path in the help tags -- and fixes several bugs, including one that caused a crash when editing a PDF directly from Apple's Mail application. GraphicConverter is US$35 on CD, or $30 as a download, and requires Mac OS X v10.1.
Native Instruments on Friday announced that, as of April 1, the upgrade and full version pricing of its NI Komplete 2 audio tools collection will increase. The company cited the inclusion of the drum sampler Battery 2 and the synthesizer collection Absynth 3, which were upgraded in December, as the reason for raising the price. NI Komplete 2 also includes a free upgrade for Kontakt 2, which will be released later this month. Pricing for NI Komplete Care 2005, a £279 (US$279) upgrade license that entitles purchasers to all NI Komplete upgrades released during 2005, remains unchanged.
Wincent on Friday released an update to Synergy, its iTunes utility that places buttons for controlling the music player in the Finder menu bar. It also automatically downloads cover art and features a semi-transparent floating window that displays the artist name and song title for the current track. Version 1.7 adds support for Growl, a system-wide utility that displays current information for a wide variety of applications, including iTunes.
The online shop at StarWars.com has added an exclusive iPod case that ties into the upcoming Star Wars film Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. Consisting of two thin plastic pieces that snap together, the case is decorated on both sides with red flames; Darth Vader's ominous visage graces the back. The imagery is likely meant to evoke the climactic battle between Darth Vader and Obi-Wan Kenobi that will take place near a pit of lava during the film. The US$29.99 case fits all 4G full-size iPods and comes in two sizes, one for the 40GB model and one for the 20GB version.
RadTech on Friday released the Mini Cocoon, a semi-rigid clamshell case for the iPod mini that includes a separate silicone skin for added protection or for use on its own. The skin includes openings for access to the click wheel, LCD screen and ports while the clamshell case features a storage pocket for stowing earbuds and cables. The Mini Cocoon comes with a lanyard as well as a strap that secures the skin to the case. Pricing and a product page were not available as Playlist posted this article.
MaxUpgrades on Friday issued MaxSleeve, a series of sleeves for PowerBooks and iBooks that's designed to fit in typical notebook bags or briefcases. It's made of visco-elastic memory foam that cushions the laptop and features a two-zipper pull design that keeps the zippers from touching the computer. MaxSleeves for 17- and 15-inch PowerBooks are US$27.99 and $24.99, respectively, while the version that fits 12-inch PowerBooks as well as 12- and 14-inch iBooks is $23.50.
Sonny Software on Thursday released Bookends 8, an upgrade to its bibliography tool that features more than 50 new or enhanced features, including an overhauled user interface and the ability to create smart search groups that automatically update according to their criteria. In addition, it includes a built-in http server for reference databases, a new List Views window and integrated Internet searching for finding references on PubMed, the Library of Congress and many worldwide libraries.
AudioOutfitters on Wednesday introduced its new ezArmor case, which is made of aircraft-grade aluminum and offers access to the iPod's LCD, click wheel and top ports. A neoprene lining keeps the MP3 player secure. ezArmor comes with a belt clip and is available now in versions that fit the 4G iPod or the iPod mini. Both sell for US$34.99. Note that you'll need to scroll down the page to see the product when you visit the link.
IGG Software on Thursday released the first public Beta of PlayPod, a new utility that grabs relevant podcasts published on the Internet via RSS (Really Simple Syndication). Podcasts, a term coined by ex-MTV VJ Adam Curry, describes homemade radio shows distributed as MP3 files ready for play on an iPod or other MP3 player. PlayPod enables users to sift through thousands of podcasts and automatically download the ones that fit their customized preferences to iTunes, where they can be synced with an iPod. The software also integrates with .Mac for backing up and restoring podcast feeds. Pricing is US$16.99, with a 10-day trial available, and Mac OS X v10.3 is required.
Jumsoft on Thursday introduced Keynote Themes 4.0, which adds five new themes to the 22 already included for use with Apple's Keynote presentation software. The new themes cover photography, color, history, movies and nature, each with a different look and feel that helps users design a presentation aimed at audiences ranging from highly technical to general interest. Upgrades from version 3.0 are US$19 while the full version of the software is $45. Keynote 1.1 or higher is required, and Jumsoft says that Mac OS X v10.3 is preferred.
Digidesign on Wednesday announced the release of Amp Farm 3.0, the latest version of the Pro Tools effects plug-in that models guitar amps. Developed by Line 6, Amp Farm 3.0 adds new amplifier cabinet and mic models as well as a variety of performance enhancements. The software enables musicians to plug a guitar into a Pro Tools|HD or HD Accel system and simulate a wide range of amplifiers and miked cabinets. It supports sample rates up to 192kHz and can be used to tweak pre-recorded tracks.
Wildform on Wednesday released the Mac version of Flix Exporter, its utility for creating FLV and SWF video files from Adobe After Effects, Final Cut Pro and other applications that support QuickTime plug-ins. It appears in the native software's export options and can employ one- or two-pass VBR compression, assuming the application supports it. Pricing is US$99.
Toshiba has released its latest portable projector, the TDP-S25U, which features Digital Light Processing (DLP) technology that delivers a 2000:1 contrast ratio, 1800 ANSI lumens and native SVGA 800 x 600 resolution. It weighs 6.6 pounds and offers composite, component and S-Video input as well as audio in and out and monitor output connectivity. Users can also connect it to a cable TV outlet or a DVD player. The TDP-S25U comes with a remote control, an RGB cable and a soft carrying bag. Pricing is US$999.