According to the Wall Street Journal Apple has received an interesting new trademark for the three-dimensional shape of the iPod. Traditional trademarks have generally been granted for two-dimensional designs (logos, etc.) so actually trademarking the shape of the iPod is unusual. One key advantage of the trademark over patents is that while the latter expire after a period of time, a trademark can be continually renewed.

No stranger to taking Macs beyond their standard issue capabilities, MCE has now pulled yet another entirely unofficial trick out of its hat, with this one giving 17-inch MacBook Pro owners a significant storage boost. As with some of its other mods, this one replaces the MacBook Pro’s optical drive with a 2.5-inch hard drive (500GB in this case) and, to hit the magical 1TB mark, it also replaces the laptop’s standard hard drive with another matching 5,400 rpm 500GB drive. To ensure none of that original hardware goes to waste, the kit also includes external USB 2.0 enclosures for both the original hard drive and the optical drive, although we wouldn’t expect any less given that the kit costs a hefty $800 (or more if you want MCE to install it for you).

Sounds like that rumor about a new, smaller Xbox 360 coming next year might have a shorter life than a red-ringing console. Specifying the release of “slimmed down SKU in 2009″, Microsoft representative let us know today that “While we don’t normally comment on rumors like this, we can tell you that we have no plans to release a new console in 2009″. Yep, rumor assassinated, just like that. Of course, there still exists the possibility that Microsoft’s just playing coy to prevent a little bit of Osborne effect from creeping in during their heated battle with the PS3 — but they did go out of their way to directly comment on the rumor, so take it as you will.

Apple Inc. said Monday its online stores in the U.S. and U.K. are sold out of the iPhone, a sign supplies are being winnowed ahead of the launch of the device’s next generation featuring faster Internet surfing speeds.

The Cupertino-based company confirmed that the iPhone is out of stock online, but added that brick-and-mortar stores run by Apple and iPhone carriers including AT&T Inc. might still have units available. Apple has been known for clearing out its inventory of a certain product ahead of a major upgrade.

Just yesterday a rumor surfaced that HBO shows would soon be available on the iTunes Store and today they show up on iTunes. The following HBO shows are now available on iTunes, though some of the episodes cost more than $1.99:

Episodes of the Sopranos, Rome, and Deadwood all cost $2.99 while the rest of the series are priced at the typical $1.99. Looks like Apple is a little more open to flexible pricing on television shows than they used to be.

(Source: TUAW) TUAW reader Eric F sent in a note letting us know that “Safari Adblock allows you to watch Hulu programming completely commercial free!” I gave it a try. I downloaded a copy of Adblock from its SourceForge repository, installed it, activated it, and fired up Hulu. A nearly complete episode of Buffy later, I can confirm that I wasn’t shown commercials.

I haven’t give this enough of a test obviously, to be able to say decisively one way or another — especially since I don’t regularly use Hulu — but the news is promising enough that I thought I’d share.

Back in January, the folks from Creaceed released version 1.0 of Hydra — a Leopard-only, GPU-powered photo application for creating High Dynamic Range photos that competes with the much-renowned Photomatix Pro. Just in time for the Apple Design Awards version 1.5 of Hydra is available. With more tone-mapping options, an image-navigation HUD, RAW importing (should you wish not to convert to 16-bit TIFF before importing), a plethora of Aperture options (more on those in a moment), and many more new features it’s certainly a compelling release.

(Source:             Iron Man got me thinking about what really makes memorable special effects. Because, although entirely adequate for a movie based on a comic book, it’s not digitally created scenes like ones I mention above that get talked about for years to come. In fact, the Comic book genre in general hasn’t really inspired much wonder for CGI; if anything, it’s provided a glut in effects that makes the films less impressive. The move to films shot mostly on green screen, or where entire characters are generated by a powerful Apple in a backroom somewhere, has increased only the amount of special f/x in films. It hasn’t increased an appreciation for these lavish, technologically superior worlds.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will screen a Warner Bros. digital restoration of the 1938 classic “The Adventures of Robin Hood” on Sunday, June 1, at 7 p.m. at the Linwood Dunn Theater in Hollywood. The program also will explore behind-the-scenes secrets from the making of the film.

It’s no accident that Eve, Wall-E’s sleek, pod-like love interest in the forthcoming Disney/Pixar animated feature film by the same name, looks like something out of Apple’s (AAPL) design department.

Writing in the current issue of Fortune, Richard Siklos reports that Jonathan Ive, head of Apple’s design department and the man responsible for the iMac, iPod and iPhone, had a hand in creating the robot.

In the piece, director Andrew Stanton tells Siklos:

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