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MacEdition Pro News : December 23, 2002: Ho, ho, ho and away we go!

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Santa’s little helper

With Christmas but a heartbeat away, Virtix Inc. has released a new version of Cinematic, the company’s plug-in pack for iMovie, which could come in handy for all those iMovie makers looking for new ways to string their happy holiday scenes together.

Cinematic 2.0 adds five new transfer controls to the 29-effect pack, giving users the ability to customize the transitions to suit their needs as they move from scene to scene. As Virtix says:

Whereas most transitions for iMovie leave the user with very few options, Virtix Cinematic for iMovie gives the user control. You control the width and smoothness of the burning transition edge, the color of the fog or sparkles, and the cell size of the stained glass

Virtix has posted a demo movie of the effects in action on their Web site for those interested in having a look. A free upgrade is available to registered users, while first-time buyers are looking at US$24.95 fee to download the package.

Santa’s got a brand new bag

Well, he could if the world’s most famous Canuck were the proud owner of one Apple’s laptops. Santa Cruz Digital Styles just release two stylish bags for the PowerBook Ti and the snow-colored iBook.

The bags feature a clear outer pocket which can be used to display a personalized insert to give the bag a unique look, much like the interchangeable lids on the old PowerBook 1400 series.

“We wanted to create a bag as personal as the computers that we love to use” said Myriah Conroy, founder of Santa Cruz Digital Styles. “The bag reflects our customer's digital lifestyles. They are durable, functional and ready-to-go, yet customizable enough that each person's is distinctive.”

The bags also use a micro-suede liner to snugly hold the ’book, two pockets for holding paper and hardcopy files, four pockets for carrying CDs or DVDs and a clip-off pouch for carrying accessories and small peripherals.

The silver and orange TiStick bag sells for US$89.95, while the blue and white SnowSeal sells for $79.95. Both bags are available from the Santa Cruz site.

More coal for Quark

While the king of desktop publishing has been slowly working its way to OS X versions of their wares, yet another of the Colorado concern’s competitors has fine-tuned their offerings to step into the yawning chasm of Quark’s server-sided solutions for the new Mac OS.

Helios Software has released ImageServer 2.5, which provides automatic conversions of graphic files to allow print houses to repurpose the files from print to Web use. ImageServer is a component of Helios’ suite of server-based products for workflow management in print houses. According to Helios:

This allows automated conversion of file format, resolution, color space, and compression, for web and print needs. ImageServer also provides OPI image replacement, server-based ICC Color Management, color separation, and proof printing capabilities.

Additionally, ImageServer 2.5 includes a new Script Server service that helps automate tasks via “hot folders.” When files are dropped into a hot folder, a process is automatically started, converting the files according to a given script. HELIOS Script Server provides an effective solution to the prepress community that has been asking for ways to automate tasks and batch process image format changes, file transformations, and printing to designated print queues.

Helios sees one of the key benefits of the hot folders as being a reduction in server loading since the method is event-driven rather than having the server constantly poll a directory for changes in order to execute the process. The use of scripting also allows for flexible configuration and simple management of the server, Helios notes.

ImageServer is available for Mac OS X, HP-UX, AIX, SGI, IRIX, Sun Solaris and Linux. Further information and pricing is available from one of Helios’ global distributors.

This season’s servings

OpenOSX has released a new version of OpenWeb, a 17-program suite of open-source Web server software for Mac OS X. The new package contains a new build of Apache 2.0 with PHP modules for both versions of the Apache software. Other software included in the package is similarly configured for both versions of the widely used Apache.

The OpenWeb product was designed to empower Webmasters with a wide range of ready to use tools as fast, conveniently and easily as possible. By double-clicking the installer, the OpenWeb CD will install and fully configure a suite of popular server software and Web applications including: a secure shopping cart, an advanced content management and publishing system, web-based graphical server administration (supports DNS, SSL, Apache, MySQL, Samba and more), SQL database backends, a search engine, bulletin board system, advertising management and more.

OpenOSX believes the package will be a boon to Web administrators who want to evaluate Apache 2.0 with a turnkey package of attendant software while not giving up the security of working with the older but better known versions of the software. The CD sells for US$60 with upgrades going for US$20. A bundle deal with an O’Reilly manual is also offered at the OpenOSX site.

Open sourced stocking stuffer

XDarwin has given all those students and other academic types a bit of break on its XWindow system, based on the widely used X11 set of protocols, by slashing 30 percent off the US$59.95 retail price of the package.

In the diverse world of campus computing, XDarwin has become an indispensable tool for Mac OS X users to network with all other Linux and Unix computing environments which are built upon the prevalent X Window System. XDarwin makes available sophisticated and easy to use graphical user interfaces and toolkits via the popular X11 set of protocols. In short, XDarwin enables Mac OS X users to run X11 applications natively and remotely. This enables secure, cross-network, and local interaction with the world of open source software as well as compilation of a myriad of graphical open source applications.

XDarwin 4.2 has been consistently updated on a monthly basis and the company counts such heavyweight organizations as Harvard, MIT, Stanford, Carnegie-Mellon, UIUC, Yale, Boston University, John-Hopkins, Scripps, Washington University, Cal Tech and five US national research laboratories among its lists of clients. Further information on XDarwin can be found at the XDarwin Web page.

Ready for prime time

Opera Software has put forth a final release of Opera 6 for Macintosh, offering Mac users around the world what the company believes will be a faster and better Internet experience.

“With today’s release we confirm our commitment to the Mac platform,” says Mary Lambert, product line manager desktop, Opera Software ASA. “Mac is an important part of our cross-platform strategy, and we are working hard to ensure that Opera for Mac will become the default browser for Mac users.”

“In the future, Opera for Mac will be available in many languages,” says Lambert. “We aim to provide a faster, smaller, more standards-compliant, and secure browser for Mac users worldwide.”

Opera 6 will have faster rendering speed over version 5.x, improved font switching for international Web pages, a new autosave page feature and a share library developers can use to embed Opera into their products. The browser is available for US$29 and can be downloaded from Opera’s site

New and improved

Following the computer credo of bigger, faster, cheaper WiebeTech released a new version of its MicroGB external hard drive.

The dual-ported FireWire drive sports a transfer rate of 35.7MB/sec and a 2.5" drive which uses an 8MB cache and spins at 5,400 RPM. The MicroGB+ comes in a smaller aluminum case and sheds a bit of weight over its predecessor.

“MicroGB+ raises the bar for performance, even as the physical size and weight of the product is reduced,” said James Wiebe, CEO of WiebeTech LLC. “It offers burst transfer rates in excess of 35.7MB / sec, which is faster than many desktop drives, through its dual bus-powered daisy chainable FireWire ports.”

WiebeTech will be showcasing the drive at MacWorld San Francisco. Suggested pricing of the drive, which is available either on-line or through your friendly neighborhood Mac dealer, starts at US $199.99 for a 20GB drive and scales to US $349.99 for a 60GB version.

New tweaks for old favorites

4D Inc. has released an update to its namesake database program. The maintenance release brings full compatibility for Mac OS 10.2, improves stability and addresses printing and interface issues while providing a speed boost to the program. The update is available from 4D’s download server.

Glucose has updated WeatherPop and WeatherPop Advance to version 1.6.3 to fix a problem the program had in gather information from the US National Weather Source. Glucose has also added a multithreaded operation to improve the speed of the program’s data retrieval in order to display weather conditions in various locations. The update can be obtained from the Glucose site.

publicspace issued an update for A Better Finder Rename, extending the utility’s file name and extension processing feature introduced in its recently released version 5.0. The update can be downloaded from the publicspace site.

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