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TidBITS Watchlist: Notable Software Updates for 01-Dec-08

  • HandBrake 0.9.3 is a significant update to the open-source video conversion program, most commonly used for converting DVDs to MPEG-4 video files. The latest version extends HandBrake’s capabilities so it can convert from any input source, not just DVDs. Other important changes include improved video quality, control over multiple audio tracks, persistent queues that stick around in case of a crash, more and better organized presets, better audio-video synchronization, and much more. Note that HandBrake no longer includes internal DVD decryption, but that’s irrelevant if you have libdvdcss installed as part of the open-source VLC 0.9.x video playing
    application. See the full release notes for all the details. (Free, 6.1 MB)
  • MacSpeech Dictate 1.2.1 from MacSpeech is a maintenance update for the speech-recognition utility, fixing reported issues and adding several features. Version 1.2.1 adds commands for next and previous fields, checks for incompatible keyboard layouts in Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger, and adds a preference for the number of recognition alternatives. A full list of changes can be found on the MacSpeech Web site. ($199 new, free update)
  • Freeway 5.3 from SoftPress Software updates the Web design software with added support for displaying Flash Video content on the iPhone. The software now enables users to add both FLV and QuickTime formats to a single page, accommodating a variety of devices including the iPhone. ($249 Pro/$79 Express new, free update, 64.9/63.3 MB)
  • Default Folder X 4.1 from St. Clair Software is the latest version of the Open and Save dialog-enhancement utility. Changes include increased toolbar and window response speed, full support for OpenOffice 3, improved compatibility with Spaces, and the capability to play audio files in the preview pane. ($34.95 new, free update, 9.3 MB)
  • Adobe Camera Raw 5.2 updates the Photoshop plug-in with raw file support for seven new digital cameras including the Canon EOS 5D Mark II, Canon PowerShot G10, Panasonic DMC-G1, Panasonic DMC-FX150, Panasonic DMC-FZ28, Panasonic DMC-LX3, and Leica D-LUX 4. Other changes include a Targeted Adjustment Tool that enables on-image adjustments, the capability to save all settings in a single reference, and new output-sharpening features for improved screen and print output. (Free update, 40.8 MB)
  • Safari 3.2.1 from Apple is a minor stability update for both the Leopard and Tiger versions and presumably resolves the issues that had been causing Safari to crash for some users after the version 3.2 release. Apple’s release notes are particularly terse, saying only, “This update includes stability improvements and is recommended for all Safari users.” (Free update, 39/25.7 MB)
  • DiscLabel 5.4 from SmileOnMyMac is the latest version of the company’s CD and DVD label design software. The update adds 15 new templates with designs for holidays, gifts, and businesses. Also new are multiple-selection capabilities in the design list and an alphabetical sort feature for design list folders. Finally, beta support has been added for zoom, swipe, and rotate gestures on the new MacBook and MacBook Pro. ($35.95 new, free update, 12.7 MB)
  • iTunes 8.0.2 from Apple is a minor update to the ubiquitous media player. Changes include VoiceOver accessibility for iTunes 8 and iTunes U, a fixed bug that had been causing poor quality in MP3s created on some computers, and a resolved connectivity issue with the iTunes Store and some Internet proxies. (Free update, 57 MB)
  • Pro Apps Updates 2008-004 from Apple is a substantial performance and stability update for Final Cut Pro, Final Cut Server, and Logic Pro, and includes a bundle of individual program updates. The programs included are Final Cut Pro 6.0.5, Compressor 3.0.5, Color 1.0.3, and Shake 4.1.1. Final Cut Pro 6.0.5 improves high-precision rendering, extends support for the Panasonic AG-HMC150 and HDC-SD9 camcorders, and brings added support for metadata from P2 cards. Compressor 3.0.5 resolves an issue where enabling the Back to My Mac feature would remove existing QuickClusters. Color 1.0.3 brings a slew of improvements including enhanced reliability, improved EDL
    handling, and a variety of bug fixes relating to display LUTs, DPX image sequences, interlaced media, and more. According to Apple release notes, Shake 4.1.1 “addresses compatibility issues for QuickTime codecs greater than 8 bits.” A full list of changes is available on Apple’s Web site. (Free update, 149 MB)
  • PopChar X 4.1.1 from Ergonis Software is a minor update to the long-standing tool for finding and inserting special characters. Among a variety of bug fixes, the largest one improves stability and compatibility with the illustration and layout program, FreeHand 10. (29.99 euros new, free update for purchases made in the last 2 years, 1.9 MB)
  • KeyCue 4.3 from Ergonis Software is the latest version of the popular keyboard shortcut utility. Updates focus on preventing accidental KeyCue activation by enabling a configurable activation key combination, introducing a new double tap option (which activates KeyCue only after the key combination has been double-tapped), and by displaying the activation keys at startup. Other changes include a new technique for adapting to various programs’ peculiarities, and a features that displays menu shortcuts and Keyboard Maestro macros simultaneously in a single table. (19.99 euros new, free update for purchases made in the last 2 years, 1 MB)
  • OmniFocus 1.5 from The Omni Group is a major update to the task-management utility. The most significant change is the added synchronization capability, which enables users to sync any number of OmniFocus for Mac and OmniFocus for iPhone databases. Users can sync over the Internet with MobileMe or a Web server, and sync locally with Bonjour. Also new is the capability to archive completed or dropped items to a separate file; that option is handy for reducing your database size and improving sync speeds. Finally, the interface has received an overall makeover with a variety of customizable preferences and viewing features. A full list of changes is available on The Omni Group Web site. ($79.95 new, free update, 17.1 MB)
  • The Missing Sync for Windows Mobile 4.0.4 from Mark/Space updates the popular Mac-to-smartphone syncing software with full support for Microsoft Entourage 2008. Users can now sync Entourage contacts, calendar events, and tasks with both Entourage 2008 and 2004. The update also includes enhanced device mounting capabilities. ($39.95 new, free update)
  • Daylite 3.8 from Marketcircle is an update to the calendaring, contact-management, and project-management tool, with the major addition being the Daylite MYOB AccountEdge Connector, which enables data transfer between Daylite and AccountEdge 2009. Other changes include a revised reminder system, which lets users set multiple alarms for a single task or appointment; enhanced iCal integration; added “Inbox” and “Someday” features for improving workflow; new user-management capabilities for administrators; and over 20 different bug fixes. ($99.99 new, free update for 3.x users, 50 MB)
  • AccountEdge 2009 from MYOB updates the small business managing and accounting software with a new user interface and a host of new features. Changes include new Business Insight tools (designed to help users assess the health of their business), integration with Marketcircle’s productivity suite Daylite, speed enhancements, and new design tools for improved customization. A full list of new features is available on MYOB’s Web site. ($299 new, $159 single user upgrade, 102 MB)
  • Yum 3.0 is the first update for the recipe-management utility since its acquisition by the Austrian company Dare To Be Creative. The only major change noted by the company is a new user interface “designed to make using [the application] more fun.” The previously free software now costs $19.95, perhaps an indicator of more substantial changes on the way. Yum enables users to manage their recipes, assign ratings, and create recipe-tailored shopping lists. To learn more, see Andy Affleck’s “Cook from Your Mac: 10 Recipe Tools Compared,” 2007-09-21. ($19.95 new, 2.9 MB)
  • Compatibility Update for QuickTime 7.5.5 from Apple is a minor update which, according to Apple’s succinct release notes, “improves QuickTime compatibility with iChat.” It’s available via Software Update or as a standalone download. (Free update, 2.8 MB)
  • MacBook/MacBook Pro Trackpad Firmware Update 1.0 from Apple is a valuable update for the late 2008 MacBook and MacBook Pro. The update fixes an issue in which trackpad clicks were ignored on some – but by no means all – machines. This would be the fix Steve Jobs recently referred to in a recent email reply to a complaining customer, “Software fix coming soon.” There have been some reports of trouble when installing this update via Software Update, so it might be worth using the standalone download instead. (Free update, 923K)

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