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June 1

Parallels 3.0: Another Compelling Reason To Buy A Mac

Duncan Riley

40 comments »

parallels.pngThe hardest thing for a Windows user wanting to make the switch to Apple is having software and games that won’t run on a Mac. Likewise OSX is deficient as a gaming platform.

Parallels has long bridged the Windows/ Mac divide by providing Windows support from the Mac desktop. The upcoming version of Parallels, Desktop for Mac 3.0 bridges the gap like no release before it.

New features include “SmartSelect” that lets users assign any OS X or Windows application as the default for any Mac or Windows file type. Mac converts no longer need to open a Windows program manually to edit files. Windows applications can be set as the default program for Word documents or any other file type. As Ben Rudolph, Parallels’ Director of Corporate Communications puts it “this is total OS integration on a file and application level”.

3D Graphics including DirectX and OpenGL support is now fully supported within the virtual Windows machine bringing the vast library of Windows games to the sparse Mac gaming desktop. As the screenshot below shows, this includes titles such as Quake 4.

Other changes include improved USB 2.0 support, Coherence 2.0 that includes shared folders and UI enhancements, and improved Linux/ Mac integration.

As a Windows user one of the biggest things holding me back from making the switch to a Mac (aside from the price of the hardware) has always been the potential switch over cost in having to acquire Mac versions of my favorite apps or as the case may be having to do without because there is no Mac alternative. For $79.99 the new version of Parallels makes a Mac that much more appealing.

Desktop for Mac 3.0 will be released in June.

Update: CrunchGear is running the rumor that Apple will start selling Macs with Vista included. If they chucked in Parallels instead of Bootcamp it would be a better offering again.

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May 31

Cell Phone Submitted Classified Listings: iqzone

Duncan Riley

19 comments »

iqzone.pngScottsdale, Arizona based iqzone has a solution for those seeking to sell items on the go: cell phone submitted classified listings.

Iqzone’s “Snap Send Sell” feature allows users to take a photo or video clip of any product or service, text a description and send as a Multimedia (MMS) message to iqzone. Iqzone then categorizes and adds the listing on iqzone.com as well as 3rd party services including Edgeio. Buyers can connect with sellers in real-time by setting mobile or RSS alerts for items they are interested in. They can also share ads with their Facebook Friends and search iqzone using their mobile phone or the web.

The company says that the product is the future of classified advertising. It’s certainly a different application and fits well into the “what will they think of next” category. Whilst the one-to-many distribution of classified listings has some appeal, I can’t help but think that it’s a solution looking for a problem. Others may think differently.

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Fix8 Brings Computer Generated Animation To The Webcam

Duncan Riley

21 comments »

fix8.pngSherman Oaks company fix8 brings the world of computer generated animation to the webcam with software being pitched as “User-Generated Reality”.

fix8 combines video, animation and instant messaging that allows users to create their own partial or full custom avatars that mimic human movement.

At the heart of fix8 is H.E.A.R.T. (Human Expression Analysis and Rendering Technology), which digitizes human expressions, gestures, and movements via webcam, enabling users to create, interact, and share their creations across the web, TV, and soon mobile phones.

fix8 is easy to use and offers limitless creative options. fix8 users can broadcast their video creations over instant messaging services including MSN, Yahoo and Skype or save and post creations to YouTube, MySpace and FaceBook.

It would be easy to trivialize fix8, yet this sort of technology would have cost millions to implement 10, 15 or even 20 years ago. The ability to turn cheap webcams into a hub of animation creation can and will spur a whole new wave of user generated creativity and content. fix8 is a little application with a wow factor to it, I’d even go as far as calling it pretty cool, even if I couldn’t get my webcam to play with Vista so I could trial it.

For a full demonstration view the video on the fix8 index page. A sample is provided below.


The New RealPlayer: Ripping a YouTube Video Near You

Duncan Riley

23 comments »

realplayer.pngRealNetworks have annonuced a new version of RealPlayer that includes one-click video ripping.

The free downloadable video player will allows users to save and organize video files in all major formats including Flash, QuickTime, RealMedia and Window Media and will support video ripping from sites such as YouTube, Google, Yahoo!, Brightcove, AOL and The New York Times.

The ability to rip online videos is not new. A number of programs are already available that provide a similar service yet this is the first time this level of functionailty has been offered in a high user base product.

The new RealPlayer will not download or record video that is DRM infected but will download everything else, placing it somewhere between headache and law suit for a bevy of content creators. Every content creator will now be challenged by the real possibility that if their product is DRM free, it’s likely to be ripped from the original source site and even burned to CD.

I may be exagerating the problem, and a true anti-DRM advocate would argue that consumers should be free to use content how and where they see fit. Yet content creators can impose copyright restrictions without the use of DRM and should be able to control the context of how and when a video is played back; the offer of free viewing does not automatically extend to an offer of free and unlimited use, take free to air TV or Radio as an example.

The new version of RealPlayer will be released in June. Sorry Mac users, no Real enabled ripping for you until later in the year, Windows only at this stage with support for Internet Explorer and Firefox.

(video via Beet.tv)


Finally, Music Videos To Appear on YouTube

Nick Gonzalez

32 comments »

emiyoutube1.gifFinally - users will be able to see music videos on YouTube. :-)

Ok, well, now at least it’s more legal. EMI Music just announced they have reached terms with Google’s YouTube both to distribute music videos from EMI artists on YouTube and to enable consumers to leverage the EMI music library in their own YouTube video creations.

Eric Nicoli, CEO of EMI Group, said the deal “meets EMI’s objectives to offer consumers the best possible entertainment experiences, to create new ways to connect our artists to fans and to enter into innovative business models that will generate revenues for our business and our creators.”

EMI will use YouTube’s content identification and reporting system to track and monetize its content and compensate artists. The tools also give EMI Music the ability to request the removal of EMI’s copyrighted content from YouTube.

Google has now secured music-license rights with the world’s four largest music labels: Warner Music Group, Universal Music Group, Sony BMG Music Entertainment and EMI Group.

In April EMI announced a deal with Apple to start selling its artist content without copyright protection on iTunes.

Of course, just about every music video you care to see is already on YouTube. There’s even a search engine that only indexes YouTube music videos, almost all of which are posted in violation of copyright laws.


Get Smart, Play Lumosity

Duncan Riley

14 comments »

lumositylogo.pngLumosity is a brain fitness program from Lumos Labs which is designed to improve cognitive function through a series of web-based games and exercises.

In developing Lumosity, Lumos Labs worked closely with leading neuroscientists from Stanford and UCSF to design and experimentally test the program. In a randomized, controlled study, the exercises were shown to have statistically significant effects in improving memory and attention.

Brain games are wildly popular in Japan and Europe, the Ninentendo DS Brain Age has sold millions of copies. The delivery of similar functionality online is the logical next step and although they might not be the most engaging games, that’s not the goal here.

Details of the research and methodology behind Lumosity can be viewd here.

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