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Wal-Mart iPhone Sales Plan Confirmed

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Credit: MacRumors.com

Wal-Mart employees have confirmed the retailer will begin selling the iPhone before the end of December, however talk of a $99 Apple handset remain mostly in the rumor stage.

Although neither the giant discount retail nor the exclusive carrier AT&T have officially disclosed their plans, both Bloomberg and the Mercury News quote retailers confirming the iPhone is set to be sold by Wal-Mart after Christmas.

Citing unnamed employees at five California Wal-Marts, Bloomberg Monday reported workers are being trained to sell the 8GB and 16GB iPhones. Friday, the Mercury News reported other California Wal-Mart managers were being trained to offer the iPhones.

Holiday Gift Idea – MacUpdate Software Bundle

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Anytime you can pick up something for $50 that would otherwise cost you more than $450, it’s worth a second look. Such steep discounts can be a sign of utter worthlessness in some cases, in others, possibly a short-lived bargain you’re thankful to have come across.

MacUpdate has one such opportunity Mac users might want to take a look at. They even have a cute little countdown clock on the page telling you how long you’ve got left to decide to pull the trigger. At this writing the clock stands at 10d 21h 2m 42s.

Among the software titles in the bundle:

Drive Genius 2 ($99):    Currently the highest-rated disk utility on the market. Used by Mac Geniuses at Apple Stores, Drive Genius diagnoses and repairs problems with your hard drive, optimizes your system, and much more. Buyers receive a link to download a bootable DVD image of the software to burn, which can be used to boot and fix any Mac that can run Mac OS X 10.5, including Apple’s newest laptops.

RapidWeaver 4 ($79):    Create powerful, professional-looking Web sites quickly and easily.

MacGourmet Deluxe ($44.95):    Think iTunes for food – track recipes, plan meals, manage wines, and more.

LittleSnitch 2 ($29.95):    Monitors your network connection to make sure your Mac only sends out what you want it to.

KeyCue 4 ($27):    Displays full keyboard shortcuts for all your applications; learn them and work faster.

MacPilot 3 ($19.95):    Access hundreds of hidden features to customize and improve your Mac OS X experience.

iVolume 3 ($29.95):    Ensures all your iTunes tracks play back at the same level, so you never have to adjust the volume individually.

There’s more. See the post at MacMerc or head on over to MacUpdate. The clock is ticking.

Via MacMerc

Loan Shark – Another Timely App for iPhone, iPod Touch

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You may have heard that one of the linchpins of the federal government’s multi-pronged effort to save the crumbling American economy may include Uncle Sam himself underwriting home loans at 4.5%.

What better time then, to spend $4.99 on an iPhone app that may help you navigate the treacherous waters of real estate finance and help you make sound financial decisions for you and your family?

Foggy Noggin Software’s Loan Shark app is a timely, easy to use loan calculator. Enter the information you know, click a button for the field you want calculated, and Loan Shark fills in the amount for you.

With Loan Shark for iPhone and iPod Touch (requires 2.0 update) you can:

* Enter loans from different banks and save for later comparison.
* Calculate how long it will take to pay off credit cards.
* Determine how much in interest loans are costing you.
* See in real time how an extra payment a year affects your loan.
* Easily compare loans to see which is best.

The app lets you calculate any component of the loan, including payment, interest rate and loan amount; see the full Amortization Table for the lifespan of the loan; set your local currency in preferences; find Banks in your area. It also calculates semi-annual interest for Canada and other countries.

Foggy Noggin has some other cool looking software projects, too, including desktop and cookie managers, so be sure to check out their website.

Bliss Out With Zen Ringtones for Your iPhone

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When I think of high-powered, busy professionals the first word that comes to mind is not “Zen” but that certainly has not stopped Hladecek from marketing its new collection of iPhone ringtones as “Professional ringtones designed with executives and the fashion-forward in mind.”

The iRingPro Zen Collection is 21 tones, among which you’ll find no annoying songs, or silly sound effects. The collection consists of tones – not “tunes” – that are “smart, attractive, livable alerts engineered to ensure universal appeal, and provide a high tolerance for routine use and repetition.”

Each tone features moderately longer pauses between ring repeats than what many are used to. The designers believe this cuts down on the hurried fumbling that can occur when a cell phone rings unexpectedly, giving you time to see who’s calling, often before the second ring.

And of course there is the personal branding that comes from your ringtone. A snippet of “My Humps” or “The Immigrant Song” says something about you. iRing Pro ringtones seek to ensure that what is perceived when your phone rings is technically advanced, considerate, and enviably fashionable.

The Zen collection sells for $9.95 and is available for download directly from the designer. They come in “Meeting Grade” and “Active Grade” styles, with the meeting tones being subtler, lower pitched, and richer, while the active tones are stronger, more resonant, and present. Om, baby.

Will the First Flash Files on iPhone Be Ads?

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Stop me if you’ve heard this one, but Greystripe, a San Francisco-based rich media advertising platform for mobile content claims to have developed ads including Flash IAB medium rectangles and game-in-game (or “tailgate”) ads giving advertisers the ability to target the iPhone audience for the first time with Flash content.

In an effort to make it easier for the online media buyer to purchase mobile, Greystripe claims to have brought creative power to the iPhone with Flash creation tools allowing brands to extend any online advertising campaign directly into mobile content as well as the ability to create miniature advertiser-branded games in Flash and place them before, during or after existing iPhone games.

“Using the iPhone’s revolutionary platform, Greystripe has solved the serving, reporting, third-party tracking and, best of all, ad creation problems that have plagued the mobile advertising industry since inception,” says Michael Cai, Director of Digital Media and Gaming at Parks Associates, according to a BusinessWire release made public on Thursday.

Michael Chang, CEO and Co-founder of Greystripe was quoted as saying, “We have made it easy for advertisers by removing barriers to execution. Brands like Jeep, RadioShack, New Line Cinema, Rock the Vote and Yahoo! have seen strong results.”

If true, this would seem to come as news to Adobe, which claims to have been thus far stymied in the effort to develop a mobile version of Flash that is compatible with Apple’s SDK for iPhone developers.

Have you seen any Flash-based ads on your iPhone?

iPhone Gaming Comes to Big Screen TVs

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We reported last week on developer/blogger Erica Sadun’s discovery of an undocumented feature in Apple’s iPhone SDK that allows video out from an iPhone to be displayed on a TV monitor. Friday she revealed what is sure to become a popular exploit of this feature.

Sadun contacted developers at Freeverse, producers of the popular mobile game Moto Chaser and convinced them to create a TV version of their game. In a few hours, Freeverse code monkeys were able to come up with the demo version of Moto Chaser featured in the video above, which seems to herald happy days ahead for fans of iPhone gaming.

The detailed technical ins and outs of how Freeverse managed to pull off its feat are available in Sadun’s post at Ars Technica, but it’s worth noting that the TV version of the game played best on the second-generation iPod touch. The newer touch is built on a 532MHz CPU versus the original iPhone’s 412MHz. This extra speed helps up the frame rate produced by the device, the key component for any first person interactive video game.

Via Ars Technica

OS9 Still Gets Stuff Done For Some

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I wrote my last “OS9 – Blimey Some People Still Use It” article for Mac DevCenter back in 2004 (see OS9, Mine All Mine); it was fun to write and nostalgic too, but I didn’t imagine I’d be writing a similar piece four years later.

But – blimey – there are STILL some people out there using OS9 and very happy with it too, thank you very much.

One of them is Jerad Walters, who runs publishing house Centipede Press and does so using a mirror-door 1.2 GHz G4, 1.25 GB RAM and 1.7TB of hard disk space spread across four hard drives.

But why, Jerad, why?

“My books are built with InDesign 1.5 and Photoshop 6 running Suitcase 8. The G4 boots up in about 30 seconds and then I have a QuicKey sequence that loads all applications in largest-chunk–of-RAM-required order (Photoshop first, InDesign second, etc). It is all up and running in a couple minutes.

“The speed of the Finder is simply draw-dropping. However, the speed of the Finder is OS X is also pretty quick, but there is just a responsiveness in 9 that cannot be matched by X.

“Menu and window actions all take place so quickly. Plus it is easier to tell windows from background from menus. There is a clarity to the OS 9 display that is lacking in OS X.”

For email, he uses Claris Emailer. For word processing, TexEdit. He makes use of the DragAnyWindow control panel for easier window management, and of HoverBar, a precursor to the OS X Dock.

Jerad does use OS X occasionally – it has a drive all to itself – but when he’s using it he misses things only found in OS9.

“I miss the Put Away command, and the regular trash can more than anything. There’s one thing I wish OS 9 had: an option for a toolbar for Finder windows; that is a really nice feature of OS X.”

So, OS9 users, this is your comments thread. Tell us why we’re all wrong to be using this newfangled OS X stuff.

Aussie ‘Agora’ To Be Second Google Phone

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An Australian video electronics maker will enter the cell phone business January, offering the “Agora,” the second handset to use Google’s Android operating system.

The cell phone by Kogan Technologies, will start at $193 and offers a 2.5-inch touch screen, QWERT keyboard, 256MB of memory (expandable with a microSD card) and Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and 3G support. The handset allows 400 minutes of talk time and 300 hours of standby, according to CNET.

The Agora can be only be ordered from Kogan’s Web site begins shipping Jan. 29, 2009.

Reasons To Be Cheerful: 1, 2, 3

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Today is a day for Mac users to be happy. Why?

  1. ONE: It turns out that we’re not the meanest bunch of technology users when our beloved kit is harshly criticized in the media. The Cult of Mac is a peaceful one compared to the rapid spine-chilling rage of the Church of Blackberry. It’s true. David Pogue said so.

  2. TWO: Chris Pirillo is a kindly soul, and decided that today he would spell out five good reasons for switching to Mac. I’m not sure I agree with all of them (“social benefits?” euw, no thanks), but it’s always good to see former Windows users and prominent bloggers spelling out what a good idea it is to be running OS X.

  3. THREE: At long last, we know how to create a text clipping containing the “@” character. Bring on the dancing girls! The band! Anyone got a spare barn we can use to put on a show?

In other news: that new Opera 10 alpha is really quite spiffy isn’t it?

(Photo used under Creative Commons license; thanks chrismear.)

Shazam Database Grows to 8 Million Songs

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UPDATE: This article has been corrected to reflect Shazam’s compatibility with iPhone only and not iPod Touch, as originally indicated. We regret any confusion our error may have caused.

I’ve been wanting to write about Shazam, the music discovery software app for iPhone, for a while now, but since it’s been around for a good while and is one of the most popular downloads on the AppStore, it didn’t seem there was any news there.

Shazam’s developers announced they have extended its database to include additional North American, Asian and European content, however, and Shazam now offers the facility to recognize songs in a database that has grown to include 8 million different songs.

“This increase in our database cements Shazam’s position as the leading mobile music discovery service in the world,” says Will Mills, Shazam’s Head of Music, and adds the app’s unique user experience “has made Shazam the perfect partner for mobile phone operators and handset manufacturers across the world.”

In September the company announced that more than 20 million customers had used Shazam to identify over 100 million tracks so far, numbers that are likely to continue growing along with the size of the app’s database.

Via Distorted Loop