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MacEdition Pro News : May 21, 2002: Copyright karma, sound choices and Xproofing

by MacEdition Staff (feedback)

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It’s just so karmic

Here’s a little snippet to warm the hearts of all the armchair critics following the ongoing melodrama that is the copyright debate. Many readers will be aware of the recent RIAA-endorsed copy-protected audio discs being trialed by some record labels. They look like Compact Discs, they’re marketed like Compact Discs, but they’re not, either legally or technically.

These Audio Discs don’t have the official Compact Disc logo and come with a small label: “Will NOT play in PC/Mac”. This is actually a slight understatement. These discs will actually cause many computers to freeze, requiring the CD to be manually ejected and in some cases taken in for repairs (which may not be covered by Apple warranty).

“Will damage your PC/Mac; may cause data loss” seems a more appropriate warning label. Before panicking too much, this scheme has mostly been tested by a Sony subsidiary in Germany. And some clever German folks have already found a workaround to avoid these discs damaging your computer. A happy side effect for consumers who believe in fair use is that this workaround also means you can now play the CDs on your computer.

The sophisticated technology used for this feat? A marker pen or a strip from a Post-It note (here’s the English translation, courtesy of Google). Chalk up a win for consumers willing to risk writing on their Audio Discs with a marker pen.

Now, the RIAA’s official position on this matter states:

... If you choose to take your own CDs and make copies for yourself on your computer or portable music player, that’s great. It’s your music and we want you to enjoy it at home, at work, in the car and on the jogging trail...

So why is Sony, an active member of the RIAA, taking such extreme measures to prevent this from happening?

Our advice is to look for the official Compact Disc logo, and if you don’t see it, don’t buy it.

Choice always sounds good

Apple’s proprietary Pro Speaker socket hasn’t exactly had a booming market of third-party products. Mac users have been “spoilt for choice” with the option of the Apple Pro Speakers (aka the eyeballs) or the Harmon Kardon SoundSticks. Whee!

That’s about to change, thanks to the folks at Griffin Technology and their Pro Speaker breakout cable:

Griffin Technology proudly introduces the ProSpeaker-Breakout Cable. This cable allows Mac owners to connect any set of home stereo speakers directly to a PowerMac G4 or LCD iMac. The Mac itself powers the speakers and no additional external amplifier is necessary. This lets you listen to iTunes or movie soundtracks through traditional audiophile quality speakers like Infinity, Boston Acoustics, B&W, JBL, etc. – and not just through typical plastic “computer” speakers.

The ProSpeaker-Breakout Cable connects to Apple’s Pro Speaker Jack that is available on the new LCD iMacs and all PowerMac G4’s over 500 MHz, commonly referred to as the Digital Audio PowerMac G4. This is the same output that Apple uses to connect their Apple Pro Speakers. The other side of the cable contains a pair of spring loaded speaker connectors ready for connecting with speaker wire directly to your speakers. The power comes directly from the Mac – no additional hardware or software is necessary.

They’re priced at US$25. For more information check out

Griffin Technology has also released a new version of its PowerMate software for Mac OS 9. It’s a free update available immediately for download. Version 1.1 fixes numerous bugs and extends the usability of the PowerMate programmable audio and video USB controller.

It’s available at

Color proofing made painless

Need to test colour layouts across a variety of devices so that “Gucci” doesn’t turn into ghastly? Xproof, from Colorfield Digital Media, may be just the thing for you. So what does it do?

Xproof allows digital designers to quickly and easily visualize color appearance across different devices, including Windows and Macintosh monitors and broadcast video formats. Xproof also simulates color appearance to colorblind viewers, helping designers to address accessibility issues in their work.

A stand-alone application that works with onscreen color, Xproof integrates seamlessly with all of your favorite design applications. Whether you are creating images, animations, web sites, or digital video projects, Xproof does the work and you see results immediately!

Xproof is the only tool available that combines these key features. With Xproof you can:

  • Preview image color on alternate operating systems
  • Preview image color in different broadcast formats
  • Preview how image color appears to color deficient viewers
  • View color values for common color spaces
  • Access HTML color labels
  • Copy or drag HTML values from Xproof directory into HTML source files
  • Drag and drop screen previews to the desktop or into an image editing application

Xproof runs on Mac OS 9 with CarbonLib Version 1.5, or on Mac OS X Version 10.1 or later. It’s priced at $29, with discounts for volume purchases and a two-week demo. If you’ve given it a whirl, please post your thoughts in the feedback section below.

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