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MacEdition Pro News : January 7, 2003: New toys for girls and boys

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Since the man with the ho, ho, ho is back in the land of snow, we mere Mac mortals are left with a plethora of promising products popping out of the planet’s preeminent Mac product placement event.

Kicking off our list of MacWorld announcements is none other than WiebeTech which is using the San Francisco show as a launching pad for a slew of new product offerings.

The company’s first announcement is a new hardware encryption scheme for the its’ line of Firewire hard drives. Hardware-based encryption avoids the requirement of a software installation on the host machine without compromising the security of the data on the mechanism.

“FireWire Encrypt represents a breakthrough in data security and storage technology,” said James Wiebe, CEO of WiebeTech. “This patent-pending technology provides important benefits to the user which improve portability of encrypted data while simultaneously increasing the security of the data.

“First and foremost, the encryption and decryption occurs ‘on the fly’ within the storage enclosure, not in the host computer. As a result, the encrypted volume is much easier to use compared to software host based encrypting/decrypting programs. The technology is also very robust, because it is based on the the United States National Institute of Standards and Technology Advanced Encryption Standard (AES), which in turn is based on highly unbreakable Rijndael encryption techniques.

“While first versions of this product require the user to supply a pass phrase to the encrypted storage device through a user installed applet, we expect to eventually see integration of the technology directly into the operating system so that pass key prompting occurs by the operating system whenever an encrypted drive is attached to the host computer.”

Also available to attendees who drop by WiebeTech’s booth will be a new fanless bus-powered drive enclosure which features both Firewire and USB 2.0 connectivity options. The drive enclosure, dubbed UltraGB, will be suitable for use with drives up to 120GB.

Portable users will be invited to drool over WiebeTech’s new MicroGB+ enclosure which offers a fanless bus-powered lightweight drive able to move data at up to 35MB/sec. The cooling fan has also been pulled from the WiebeTech’s DesktopGB+ enclosure, which supports tradition 3.5-inch drives up to 200GB. The bridge chip technology in the drive case also supports ATA-6 mechanism. Also moving to ATA-6 is WiebeTech’s Forensic DriveDock, a write-blocked device aimed at the law enforcement market.

Service pros and others who need to swap and drop various drives onto a firewire bus will doubtless cheer WiebeTech’s new twist to Super DriveDock. The handy-dandy snap on module will now allow users to connect optical drives to a system, in addition to the more traditional 3.5-inch mechanisms.

Listen to this

MacSpeech will be previewing an upcoming version of the company’s iListen speech recognition software at the show while offering riot-inducing deals on its current line of offerings.

The company, will also be using the show to showcase its recently announced support of the Telex H-851 USB stereo headset for inputting dictation into the program.

“We couldn’t be more excited to be associated with MacSpeech,” said Greg Wright, Telex Computer Audio’s Director and General Manager. “It’s a combination of the only speech dictation application that is dedicated to the Macintosh platform, with the best headset available. Users will get the best possible speech recognition performance. That’s great for all involved.”

An angry mob gathers

While they may not be be picketing the Moscone Center as a belligerent mob, a growing number of owners Apple’s latest and greatest G4 towers are looking to create a sizable amount of noise over the din of the fans within their “windtunnel” Macs.

They have attempted to broach the subject directly with the mothership and created a website dedicated to the issue. Not to be outdone, another group has launched that old chestnut of web activism, the on-line petition in an attempt to get Apple address the issue.

The biggest complaints seem to be coming from the pro audio crowd where some have taken to moving their machines into other rooms and manipulating them with extra long extension cables in order to get a usable product from their work.

Aquified Linux offerings done easier

Those who having been wanting to take a stab at porting Linux programs to Mac OS X may find a new offering badged as GTK+OSX to be a handy tool in getting the task done.

GTK+OSX – currently in the Alpha stage – is built around the GIMP Toolkit, a set of Application Programming Interfaces (APIs), and allows those developers who chose it to build Linux programs for OS X which don’t require the user to install an X Windows in order to run the program. X Windows is a graphical user interface that runs over top of the command-line driven Linux OS.

Those looking to get their mitts on on the new Carbon-based tool can hook up with Sourceforge and download it.

(Eds note: we’d like to thank the fine folks at OSXFAQ for tipping us to that little article.)

An old favorite gets better

Our fine friends at Virtix Inc. have revamped their Zoom and Pan plugins for iMovie 2.0 and combined them into one new product tagged as Virtix Pan and Zoom 2.0.

New to the package is the support for incorporating high-resolution still images into video footage, and a pop-up control panel within iMovie which allows the user to pick start and end points for their pans while controlling the amount of zoom and angle of view of the image. The US $34.99 package will also allow users to superimpose stills over video and supports transparency for imported images.

A demonstration of the effects in action can be viewed at Virtix’s product page. The package can be snagged from Virtix’s on-line store. There are upgrade offers for those who bought previous versions of the effects.

Want some animation with that?

Pixels Digital Inc. cranked up their efforts to bring the low-cost 3D package to version 4.5. The new version features:

LogoMaker: Sharp, clean, beveled text elements as simple and quick as a few clicks. It's ease of use does not limit it's power or the professional results. Beautiful crisp text for flying logos, broadcast images and much more are now available as a built in feature. A perfect match for ShaderMaker, the finest, procedural texture system of it's kind available for Mac users.

RigMaker: Inverse Kinematics: IK is not new to PiXELS 3D, and has been a long time favorite with it's users. With the development of RigMaker, ik in 4.5 has now become even more powerful and even easier to use while producing professional results. Current tests show fantastic results in a fully rigged character in about 30 minutes.

Global Illumination – “GI”: An incredible SkyDome innovation allowing a simple, quick setup that destroys the existing standards of tedious implementation to achieve GI in other programs.

Area Lights: A long time industry favorite built in to 4.5 providing stunning results. PiXELS 3D provides significantly easier lighting solutions than some of the other current options in the industry. With 4.5 the artist can focus on the results instead of the tedious, time consuming learning curves associated with other program's lighting systems.

Pixels 3D 4.5 is available from the company’s webstore at prices ranging from US $199 for upgrades to US $399 for the full version.

My favorite waste of time

For those who could kill enough time playing Super Collapse there’s now a new offering from GameHouse to temp your twitching mouse-moving fingers.

The company released Super Collapse II, giving the new version three new modes of play and allowing players to shut off the clock in order to play the game in a more strategic manner.

The driving force

We couldn’t help but notice the fine folks at Feral released a patch for Formula 1 Championship Season 2000 which included support for Force Feedback, a new but not terribly well proclaimed feature that came the Mac OS 10.2.3 update.

Not long after Feral dropped the ’load, Aspyr announced it rolled ForceFeedback into NASCAR 2002 which is now rolling down pit road and hitting the streets at a retailer near you.

After a little sleuthing about it seems Apple had a little outside help to get this long-awaited feature built into the OS. While nobody’s proclaiming wheels, sticks and other controllers are ready to roll out for Mac racers, voices in the dark whisper the drivers already exist in the OS update for most devices built around Immersion’s TouchSense technology. Look for details to be fleshed at MacWorld.

These updates, just in...

The people at Ambrosia Software have rejigged that space faring classic EV Nova to crush a handful of bugs. The update can be downloaded from Ambrosia’s update page while those new to earth – and thus have an excuse for not having this game on their system – can the full 75MB shareware classic from the EV Nova site.

Smile Software added Italian language support, printer sharing to their OS X Fax package PageSender. The update - available from the company’s website also improves the program’s send and receive engine and address a couple of issues around the program’s conversion of fax copy to an email attachment via PDF.

izi4u Software Solutions added a couple of new features to izi-Course, the company’s course enrollment software. The new features allow the administrator to track events and correspondence to each registrant and provides the option for individual and customized email messages to all contacts. The update can be obtained from izi’s server.

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