WWDC Demo: Mashduo compares iTunes libraries

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When traveling, I am always amused to see other iTunes libraries appear in my iTunes as we all glom on to the same wireless network. “Oh, hello there, Sandy’s MacBook, I didn’t realize you were such a Hootie and the Blowfish fan.” If you’re constantly asking your friends about their iTunes libraries (excessively, perhaps?) you might want to check out Mashduo — an OS X application that allows you to drag and drop library files for comparison. Finally you’ll know who has the larger ABBA collection, or who never quite understood The Dead Milkmen (hint: they only song they own is “Bitchin’ Camaro” or “Punk Rock GIrl”).

As you can see in the video, Mashduo is pretty fast for what it does: collating and analyzing all that iTunes data. I cut about 22 seconds out as Mashduo did its thing to over 14,000 songs in those libraries. So yeah, it’s fast. It is also a limited use piece of software, yes, but it is open source, so you can monkey around with it to your heart’s content. First feature request: it would be lovely to have it work with those mystery iTunes shares over the network.

TUAWWWDC Demo: Mashduo compares iTunes libraries originally appeared on The Unofficial Apple Weblog (TUAW) on Tue, 07 Jul 2009 20:30:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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VideoPier 1.3 adds Elgato Turbo.264 support, more

Aquafadas has launched an update to its MPEG-2/AVCHD capture and management utilities, VideoPier and VideoPier HD 1.3. The latest version now supports Elgato’s Turbo.264/Turbo.264 HD, enabling faster export and conversion of codecs while reducing CPU load on the host machine. New clip management tools can be used for deleting clips, from both the application and the hard disk, with support for dra…

Xslimmer 1.6.4 – Strip ppc/intel code from universal apps/localizations to save space.

Xslimmer reduces the disk space taken up by Mac OS X applications removing localizations you don’t need, and preserving just the Intel or PowerPC version of the code in Universal Binaries.

Xslimmer is a new, user-friendly way to size down your Mac OS X apps, removing the code inside the Universal Binaries that does not fit with your machine’s architecture, and deleting the localizations you don’t need.

This is done in a safely way backing up your apps before slimming, downloading a “blacklist” of apps that check themselves, or allowing you to exclude any application, folder or path.

Want to see for yourself? Grab your copy of Xslimmer now and try it out for free.

Another turn by turn app with voice for the iPhone

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Many months ago I received a review copy of G-Map for the iPhone. It had its own maps and turn by turn directions, but no voice guidance, and North was always up. Apple was limiting nav apps at that time, and I had real trouble with G-Map. I couldn’t load it on my iPhone. It kept locking up about halfway through the process. Extensive back and forth with the developers in Japan came to nothing, so I gave up. Finally, last April, my colleague Steve Sande was able to load it, and reviewed it for TUAW.

Now, with iPhones having new hardware and new software, G-Map [App Store] works and is certainly a competitor to the subscription-based AT&T app. You buy G-Map in one of several editions. G-Map West, at US$34.99, covers the Western States, and G-Map East covers, you guessed it, the Eastern U.S. It is also priced at 34.99. It gets a bit tricky, because some states like Illinois, Michigan, Tennessee and Wisconsin are split. If you travel all around those states you will probably want both editions.

There is also a California edition for $19.99, and one at the same price for New Jersey and New York. Versions for Canada and Europe are coming. All the G-Map modules require iPhone software version 3.0.

So how does it work? Pretty well, but with some caveats. It’s accurate at getting your position. The voice directions are quite audible, especially compared to the distorted AT&T app. The on-screen display gives you your speed limit, distance to your next turn, distance to destination and time to destination. It also plots major intersections in a very detailed 3D view, which is helpful. This works in the largest 185 metro areas.

Another plus is that all the maps are on your phone. If you slide out of AT&T’s service area the maps are still there; in contrast, the Telenav-based AT&T Navigator app will not work if you don’t have data coverage, as the maps are downloaded on-demand.

There are some downsides. The POI database is pretty thin in smaller towns. From Southern Arizona it couldn’t find the Phoenix Airport. It probably would have found it when I was closer, but even a POI search didn’t bring it up. As I was sitting at a long established car wash, it said no car washes were nearby. It did better with restaurants, banks, and hospitals. Like the AT&T app, there is no landscape mode, and you can’t get access to your address book, which is just plain silly.

It looks like the database, which comes from Navteq, has some errors, as do all such systems. Navigating to a restaurant, G-map reported it was on the left, when it was actually on the right.

Unlike the AT&T Navigator, G-Map has no real time traffic, but it does provide info from Navteq’s traffic statistics to predict trouble areas.

Even with some weakness, G-Map is a worthy competitor to the AT&T iPhone app. If you have the room on your phone (G-Map West is 824 MB), you can navigate without worrying about cell network access.

It’s cheaper than a monthly subscription would be over time, although there is no word when maps will be updated and what the cost will be. If the G-Map developers clean up the POI database, and add a lot more to it, I think they may sell a lot of apps. As it is, for getting to places where you know the address, it works about as well as the AT&T Navigator at a fraction of the cost. Of course more choices are coming, including the much discussed TomTom app, so you may want to wait it out and see what other offerings come along.

Here are some screen shots that show some of the major features:

TUAWAnother turn by turn app with voice for the iPhone originally appeared on The Unofficial Apple Weblog (TUAW) on Tue, 07 Jul 2009 19:30:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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More iPod Touch 3,1 evidence compiled by Pinch Media

Pinch Media tracks apps usage by iPods and iPhones.  In their data, they collect the model number of the iPod/iPhone being used and have been seeing more and more iPod touch 3,1’s running around.  This is what they had to say on the matter:

  • the first time an application using Pinch Analytics was run by a ‘iPod3,1′ device occurred in late April 2009;
  • applications using Pinch Analytics were run by ‘iPod 3,1′ devices very infrequently until late May 2009, when the pace picked up slightly;
  • As of this date, a few dozen distinct ‘iPod 3,1′ devices have run around two dozen different applications using Pinch Analytics;
  • The applications being run on ‘iPod 3,1′ devices have all been the larger, more popular applications using Pinch Analytics, with hundreds of thousands to millions of unique users– other than their size, the applications have little else in common.

Our biggest question at this point is on the quality of the camera.  Will it be as good as the current iPhone 3GS, or will it be a better, 5 megapixel CMOS sensor with a nice lens?  The placement of the camera to the center of the device would indicate that it is a different animal.



Toys: Storage Deals – External HDs, SD cards

From the 9to5mac Toys section:

Hammer MoreSpace 1TB USB 2.0 External Hard Drive

TigerDirect.com offers the Hammer Storage MoreSpace 1TB USB 2.0 External Hard Drive, model no. HU1100-1000, for $89.99 with $7.49 for shipping ($0.09/GB). That’s $9 under our March mention and the lowest total price we’ve seen. It features a 3.5" drive and weighs just over 2 lbs.



Patriot Duplicator 16GB Class 6 SDHC Card with Auto Backup

Amazon.com offers the Patriot Duplicator 16GB Class 6 SDHC Secure Digital High-Capacity Card with Auto Backup, model no. PD16GSDHC6, for $36.97 with free shipping. This $15 mail-in rebate chops it to $21.97 ($1.37/GB). That’s $23 off and the lowest total price we could find. It features auto-backup software (for Windows only) which requires no installation. Rebate expires July 31.

Of note, although this card can be used as an ordinary 16GB SDHC card in Mac operating systems (including the new SDHC-equipped MacBook Pros), the auto-backup software works only in Windows.  On Leopard, you can simply use the built-in Time Machine. After you set options, the software automatically backs up data you have specified.


Manage multiple cameras with Cameras

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Flexibits has just released Cameras, an application designed to manage multiple camera hookups on your Mac. With Cameras, you can direct which programs launch when you connect any number of photo-related devices to your computer; including digital cameras, the iPhone or a digital media reader.

Cameras installs a preference pane in System Preferences. The first time you connect a new device to your Mac and start to sync it, the device will show up in the preference panel. From there, you can choose what that individual camera does when connected. It’s a simple, great application for managing different cameras and keeps unwanted programs from opening when you connect them and works well when multiple devices are developed.

Cameras is a free download and requires OS X. 10.4.11 or later.

TUAWManage multiple cameras with Cameras originally appeared on The Unofficial Apple Weblog (TUAW) on Tue, 07 Jul 2009 18:30:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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REALbasic Release 3 adds OpenGL support

REAL has updated its cross-platform tools for application development, REALbasic and REAL Studio. Release 3 boasts more than 100 improvements and 31 new features, including OpenGL support for faster creation of 3D applications compared to traditional C-programming methods. The software is used to create programs for Mac, Windows or Linux operating systems, using both BASIC computing languages and…

Pinch Media sees hints of next-generation iPod touch

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Where do you find yourself with respect to the rumors of a new iPod touch somewhere in the pipeline? Having a slew of case manufacturers showing products with cutouts for a camera strikes me as enticing but ultimately unconvincing; hearing from Pinch Media, however, raises the credibility level to ‘high.’ The App Store analytics provider has confirmed that instances of an “iPod 3,1” model have begun showing up in the usage logs from apps that have implemented Pinch’s tracking tools.

What could this possibly mean? Well, going back to March of this year, the BGR team sussed out a few future model IDs from a beta of the iPhone 3.0 firmware, including the iPod 3,1 listing; Pinch says that the device type first started showing up in April, and sightings picked up in May. Pinch’s stats should be taken quite seriously, as the company first announced appearances of the model indicator that eventually revealed itself as the iPhone 3GS way back in January.

If that timeline were to hold true again, we wouldn’t expect to see the iPod touch next-gen on store shelves before the holiday shopping season… but it’s likely that the engineering effort for the new touch will bootstrap off of the iPhone 3GS platform, and the QA/testing cycle for the device will probably be quite a bit shorter than it would be for a new phone. If I had to guess… perhaps a Steve-enabled press event during the last week of July? Should be lively.

[As noted in the comments, Apple’s track record for iPod introductions does have a consistent tick-tock rhythm to it: betting on a September launch for the new touch would be a prudent call.]

Thanks Joachim!

TUAWPinch Media sees hints of next-generation iPod touch originally appeared on The Unofficial Apple Weblog (TUAW) on Tue, 07 Jul 2009 17:45:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Last Remaining Paid-For Browser Still Motoring Along


In the unlikely event that you’ve been yearning for more browsers on your Mac, and in the even less likely event that you wish you could splash out money for one; well, sunshine, your prayers have been answered.

For iCab, the last Mac browser that still costs money, is still being updated and has just reached version 4.6.1. And it can be all yours for 20 bucks. (I’m wracking my brains, and I can’t think of any other browsers that cost money these days – not since OmniWeb went free. Shout if you know of another.)

You over there with the glazed eyes: snap out of it for a moment. This is app with some history, you see. iCab’s been around for, as we say in these parts, donkeys years. Since before Safari was a glint in Steve Jobs eye. Since before anyone had even thought of Firefox. The first release was in 1999. Versions of it still run on System 7, if that’s your bag.

So, um, should you buy it? Well if you need a browser for your ancient beige box – or collection of same filling your attic – then you won’t have a lot of choice. But even the OS X version isn’t a bad browser. It has some nice features. I particularly like the Page Overview and Links Overview, which let you find your way through busy web pages quickly and easily.

Let’s put it this way: if everyone still charged money for their browsers, iCab would still be able to compete for your money alongside the rest of the gang, its head held high.

But when superb browsers can be had almost everywhere you look, when Safari 4 comes with your Mac, and when you can roll your own decent browser in about 10 seconds flat if you feel the urge, iCab’s fee is the only thing that people ever notice about it. Pity, really.

(Oh, and: Hi everyone! It’s me again. Back at the Cult. Watch this space for more posts about stuff-I-find-interesting and inane candy-based competitions. Perhaps.)


Splutter! Gasp! There’s more!

I had no idea that there was an iCab for iPhone (where of course, paying for browsers is still completely fine by everyone). But there is. And by all accounts, it’s rather good. Blimey.

This article is copyright Cultomedia Corp.

Goldman’s secret sauce could be loose online; markets beware

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A Russian programmer named Sergey Aleynikov was picked up this past Friday by the FBI for allegedly stealing and passing along code that, if circulating out in the wild, could expose US markets to manipulation and cost Aleynikov’s former employer, Goldman Sachs, millions. Bloomberg quotes assistant US Attorney Facciponti saying that “there is a danger that somebody who knew how to use this program could use it to manipulate markets in unfair ways. The copy in Germany is still out there, and we at this time do not know who else has access to it.”

So how could a 32MB compressed source code archive pose a threat to markets and to America’s most powerful investment bank? The story is actually less complex than it may sound.

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Delicious Library for iPhone runs afoul of Amazon’s API terms, pulled from App Store

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Sudden removal of an item from the App Store isn’t unheard of; sometimes an app has a hidden bug or a content problem, and if Apple hasn’t seen fit to take it off the store shelves then the developer can take matters into his, her or its own hands. Even applications that would seem to be wholly gratuitous and obvious ripoffs of other companies’ IP might make it past the first round of Apple’s scrutiny, only to be abruptly pulled under threat of litigation.

Apps that leverage content from websites and online services have another hurdle to clear: they may run afoul of trademark or licensing restrictions that prevent them from doing particular things with data from those third parties… things like, ferinstance, using that data on mobile devices.

This all brings us to Scenario D: the ‘D’ is for Delicious, and it’s Delicious Monster’s iPhone version of Library that’s undergoing an unwelcome and rapid yanking from the App Store — and believe it or not, Apple has nothing to do with it. Earlier today, Head Monster Wil Shipley announced that the iPhone app is on indefinite suspension and is no longer for sale; this is the consequence of a particular clause in the Amazon API terms and conditions. Part 4(e) of Amazon’s agreement, which Shipley is a party to due to the desktop DL app’s reliance on Amazon for book and DVD data, reads as follows:

(e) You will not, without our express prior written approval requested via this link , use any Product Advertising Content on or in connection with any site or application designed or intended for use with a mobile phone or other handheld device.

Amazon gave D-M an ultimatum: pull the iPhone app, or lose the API access for the desktop version of Library. Despite Shipley’s requests for a mobile device exception, the big A did not relent. It’s not 100% clear why Amazon chose to enforce this clause now, nor why the company is not providing exceptions to developers. We have an email in to their press office to inquire.

If you’ve got DL on your iPhone already, enjoy. If not… it could be a long wait.

Anvil photo from flickr: fboyd and remixed via CC license.

TUAWDelicious Library for iPhone runs afoul of Amazon’s API terms, pulled from App Store originally appeared on The Unofficial Apple Weblog (TUAW) on Tue, 07 Jul 2009 17:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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iPhone apps: Air Sail, TaxiDrive, Aqueous

Air Sail (free) is a game where players guide a ship by blowing into a microphone. The game includes 15 different levels with obstacles including lily pads, leaves, and rocks. Players can control the wind speed by blowing into the microphone and change the boats direction by tilting the device. If players have an iPod touch with no microphone they can also control the wind speed by tapping on the …

Pandora lives! SoundExchange cuts deal on webcasting rates

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The long, strange saga surrounding webcaster royalty payments is (mercifully) over after a multiyear fight.

Back in 2007, the US government’s Copyright Royalty Board set royalty rates for the online streaming of music that many in the business felt were unrealistically high for a nascent market, leading at least one prominent streaming service, Pandora, to threaten to pull the plug. Negotiations over an alternate pricing scheme broke down earlier this year, leaving things looking grim. With a slight nudge, however, the parties returned to the table and today announced an agreement that provides webcasters with a new royalty structure.

The fact that negotiations were even happening took Congressional action. In 2008, Congress passed the Webcaster Settlement Act, which gave the webcasters roughly a year to come to terms with SoundExchange, the entity that collects royalties on behalf of the rightsholders. But the deadline set in that act expired earlier this year, an event that triggered the breakdown of the negotiations.

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Labels, Internet radio agree to royalty deal

Owners of Internet radio stations and music label groups struck a deal on Tuesday that should allow online outlets to continue streaming music. The agreement is now a scaling one and will ask larger stations to pay either 25 percent of their revenue or a per-track rate based on the year, ranging from 0.08 cents per song in 2006 through to 0.14 cents per song in 2015, depending on whichever is gre…

Push Gmail For iPhone (Almost) Here


One of the only reasons I’ve stuck it out with my MobileMe account, despite numerous quirks, annoyances and outright failures, is push email. For the iPhone to be useful to me as a business device, I need it to keep me up to date on my email in real time (or as close to it as MobileMe’s push can achieve). Contact and calendar syncing are nice, but both can now be done using your Google information if you’d rather not pay the $100 annual MobileMe subscription fee. Gmail push would complete the picture, and it could be on the way.

And by could, I mean it definitely exists, as demonstrated by TechCrunch’s hands-on with the app that makes it possible. Yes, it’s via a third-party app, and there is no official word from either Google or Apple that Gmail push on the iPhone has finally arrived. Not surprising, considering the money Apple stands to lose in MobileMe subscriptions if Gmail, which is not only incredibly popular, but free, manages to replicate the one trick MobileMe still has up its sleeve.

The app, called GPush, is the product of a development company called Tiverias, and it uses Gmail’s IMAP IDLE feature and Apple’s push notifications to deliver near-live updates from your Gmail inbox. All the app itself does is provide a login screen, after which point you never really have to open it again. Once set up, it will display text alerts containing the sender address and subject from each new email you receive. That is, if it’s allowed to.

The question surrounding GPush isn’t whether it can pull off what it claims to be able to. That it can do just fine, as TechCrunch’s tests prove. The question is, will Apple ever allow GPush to exist in a form that’s widely available to all users via the App Store? Cupertino has a vested interest in blocking Gmail push, since some users (like me, for instance) might walk away from MobileMe were it to become available, resulting in an obvious loss in revenue.

If Apple does block the app, regardless of what (if any) excuse it cites as the reason for the rejection, it will cast even more doubt on the already suspect App Store submission review process. Basically, it seems like the only reason to keep IMAP IDLE support out of the built-in Mail app is to block Gmail push, so it wouldn’t surprise me if GPush never sees the light of day. Let’s hope I’m wrong.

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First Look and giveaway: iShotgun Pro

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I’m pretty easy to please when it comes to iPhone games. For example, I’ve had Monopoly [App Store] on my iPhones since the app first appeared, and so far I’ve played 201 games. My other favorite? Apple’s Texas Hold’em. So why would a shooting app be interesting to me?

iShotgun Pro [US$1.99, App Store] is a fun little shooting game from developer Yossi Malki in which you use a pump-action shotgun like my trusty Remington Model 870 to shoot clay targets. You go through 15 timed rounds shooting at single and multiple clay targets or falling bullseyes and bombs. There are three different levels of play so you can build your skills.

Just like in real clay pigeon shooting, you can yell “Pull!” to have the targets launched. There are also ways to launch the clays automatically or by tapping a button on the screen. You get different point levels for hitting various colors of clays, and try to avoid the black targets which reduce your point total. In the rounds where bullseyes and bombs are dropping, you need to avoid hitting the bombs. To aim, you can either use the iPhone’s accelerometer or just tap where you want to shoot.

Continue reading First Look and giveaway: iShotgun Pro

TUAWFirst Look and giveaway: iShotgun Pro originally appeared on The Unofficial Apple Weblog (TUAW) on Tue, 07 Jul 2009 16:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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West Virginia sues Comcast over cable box tying

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For many cable TV customers, their service is indistinguishable from the cable box that provides it. Although it is possible to purchase this hardware from third parties, most service providers push their customers into renting the box from them, which ensures an additional revenue stream that easily surpasses the volume pricing they pay for it. Not surprisingly, a number of consumers have objected to this practice, filing lawsuits against the cable companies. But efforts to divorce the service from its receiver may have gotten a big boost last week when the state of West Virginia filed a similar suit, alleging it’s an illegal tying of services.

The suit was filed last week in the Circuit Court of Marshall County by the state attorney general. Although it specifically targets Comcast, the details of the suit could clearly apply to just about any cable TV service provider. Although Comcast allows the use of CableCard hardware or third-party devices for some of its packages, premium service apparently requires the rental of Comcast-provided hardware. The AG alleges that these practices run counter to both state antitrust law and consumer protection legislation.

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