3.31.2006 

Flickr Find

Happy Birthday Apple!
I just came across this Happy Birthday Apple image on Flickr. The picture's cool enough, but be sure to check out the stop-motion animation. It's a great way to end the work week.

 

Forbes Big Apple Crate

Forbes ran a huge Apple package today, including stories on

 

Digital Sales - the Scooby-Doo Band-Aid covering your gaping wound

Macworld UK runs an article with a deceptively cheery headline today: "iTunes almost saves the music industry." It's based on IFPI numbers released today, showing that there's a big surge in digital sales. Yet the second sentence is where it's at. As Jonny Evans notes, "the value of the overall market continues to decline." This comes on the same day that the RIAA released its year-end numbers for 2005 that showed essentially the same thing: a huge increase in digital sales, and a massive decline in the music industry's overall sales. (I received a press release from the RIAA with the year-end chart. Those numbers are not online yet, but as soon as they are I'll put up a link.)

The problem for the music industry is this: the kids are all done with albums. They want singles. I had an interesting conversation with Eric Garland of Big Champagne for an upcoming article. He told me that even when the albums are "free" (that is to say, available on a P2P network) and even when you look at album-oriented music such as Green Day's American Idiot, people still only download an average of four songs per album1.

So let's say you convert consumers to legitimate downloads--iTunes or Napster or what have you. And let's, just to make it easier, throw in two extra songs, you've you've got six songs purchased per album. Now you're talking about a six dollar sale. Yet previously, in the CD and LP-era, that same customer would have been a sixteen dollar sale. Yeah, that's five more units, but in terms of annual sales that's ten bucks less. Hell, let's say that everyone's buying albums--which they certainly are not. The music industry is still out six bucks. This indicates to me that you need a new model.

Albums haven't always been the record industry's bread and butter. It used to live and die on the single. And it seems that it might need to go back to that in order to succeed.

I think we'll soon see more and more artists going the Death Cab for Cutie route. Death Cab sells lots of iTunes Exclusives--singles, live versions, interviews and most recently an entire video album. The videos have generated huge buzz. Longer term, I think we're going to see the album become increasingly supplanted by singles, videos, and live tracks.

I'm not saying albums are dead. Yet. But it seems like the music industry has to find a way to cut costs and meet demand. And if demand is for singles, that's what will be supplied.

As Apple has rightly pointed out, subscription models suck because people want to own their music. It says something about who we are. When we listen to an old song that we haven't heard in years, it can take us back to a place in time. But that doesn't mean Apple's 99-cent per track model is here to stay.

A true subscription plan makes a lot of sense. Instead of paying per song, you pay a fee per time period entitling you to X number of downloads over said period. Think of eMusic. Customers subscribe for a monthly fee, but they still get to own their music. (And the beauty of it for Apple and the recording industry is, of course, like Netflix or cell phone plans, not everyone actually downloads everything they pay for.)

The other, less appealing option, is what we might be more likely to see: record companies refusing to license music to the iTunes Music Store unless Apple raises the price to some exorbitant sum. Let's hope not. For if the music industry want consumers to start nailing down the coffin lid, $2 downloads would make nice hammers.



1. And this is probably a generational thing. Younger listeners have different habits. The RIAA gave a little shout out to the kids. From today's release:
However, the piracy problem on college campuses is evolving and presenting new challenges. Internal campus song distribution networks, the piracy of songs or albums before commercial release dates, and the pirating of artists’ entire catalogue in a single keystroke on certain sites, are all becoming increasingly popular.

3.30.2006 

Bytten: quick hits for 03.30

It's Cult of Mac day! Yes, I'm still sick, sick, sick, dammit. Oh, I should just save myself some trouble and hand this day over to Leander.

3.29.2006 

Bytten: quick hits for 03.29

Yes, I'm feeling much better today. Thanks for asking.

3.28.2006 

The Great Safari (and Finder and Preview) Crasher

Drunkenblog posted a Safari/Preview/Finder Webkit and WebCore flaw that will crash those apps when you try to view the inline image. Give it a shot (note: if you run Safari, following the above link WILL crash your browser) but whatever you do, down't download it to your desktop. That's just trouble. [via the apple blog]

 

Bytten: quick hits for 03.28

All about Australia

3.27.2006 

The iPod Huguenot

Okay, so he's not really a Huguenot (though he certainly is revolutionary), but John Gruber wrote a fantastic piece on Friday on The iPod Juggernaut. As usual, it's a must-read, full of both insight and invective aimed at misguided Apple pundits. (And to see his knickers really get twisted, see today's follow-up.) It's a great read, well worth the time.

 

Bytten: quick hits for 03.27

I'm sick today, and not in a good, Boston-type way. But cold and flu sick. Can't-believe-it's-not-winter sick. And as such, I'm quite grumpy. So here are your quick hits today, bad news edition. Please, somebody get me some soup.

 

Playlist: Here comes the iTunes Movie Store

I have a story up on Playlist today called Here comes the iTunes Movie Store. It looks at Apple's chances of getting into the movie retailing business. My take? It's all but a done deal.

3.24.2006 

Oh, Please, part deux

It's easy to pile on the French right now. I mean, just about the only people more easily mocked than the French are French Canadians. J'Accuse! But let's not lose sight of some of the implications of this new legislation amidst surrender monkey jokes.

I don't think France ought to be able to force Apple to open its DRM to competitors. (Which is not to say that I don't think consumers ought not to be able to de-DRM music purchased from Apple.) I think it's unfair. Why, as a business, should I allow competitors access to my closed system? It's not as if there is no other way to get music on an iPod--ripping CDs for example, or buying MP3s from sources like emusic. We should expect Sony and Real and Microsoft and whomever else to build a better mousetrap, rather than supplying them with Apple's cheese. But that doesn't mean that there isn't some good that could come out of the law.

Chris Breen made a really good point over at Playlist:
From a business perspective I understand Apple's wish to oppose this legislation but the outfits that need to be concerned Right Now are the music subscription services. Their model falls apart completely if you demand that their wares be playable on devices that don't support Microsoft's DRM scheme.

If the legislation becomes law, I expect Apple to take its ball and go home, but this isn't likely to be the end of it. Consumers (and, eventually, the law) favor interoperability. It's only a matter of time before Apple's hand is forced on this issue.
There's more as well, and it's worth reading. But his final point reminds me of a conversation I had with Ross Rubin a couple of days ago, when the law was passed. Ross noted that this law might end up being really good for consumers here in the USA.

Why? Because it could force a debate on the DMCA and consumer's rights. One of the DMCA's biggest advantages is that nobody knows it exists. It's the Area 54 of legislation. Sure, you know about it, and I know about it, but odds are 88 percent of the people you meet on the street--almost all of whom will own something covered under the DMCA and many of whom probably unknowlingly violate it from time to time--have no idea it even exists.

Ross noted that if this does indeed become the law of the land in France, it might provide more fodder for relaxing some of the terms of the DMCA. Let's hope so.

 

Bytten: quick hits for 03-24

Everybody's working for the weekend, except me. I work for Friday, which is like the weekend because it's socially acceptable to get drunk. While some nervous nancys will tell you to wait until the working day id done before imbibing, I'm here to say why not start early, upon waking? That always seems to help me.

3.23.2006 

Bytten: quick hits for 03-23

Hello, Thursday!

 

Sprint Ambassador, meet your Mac Citizenry

A couple of months ago I received an email from Sprint inviting me to take part in its Ambassador program. I poked around a bit to make sure I wasn't going to get reamed, and after talking to Anil Dash about it (also an Ambassador) who assured me it was on the up and up, I went for it. And today, my friends, I am a Sprint Ambassador.1

Here's the deal with the program: Sprint sends you a free phone, a Samsung A-920, which you get to keep, along with free service for six months. Naturally, the first thing I did when I got the phone was to download Madonna's Hung Up, and then dance around the kitchen in my skivvies. Repeatedly.

But you must be wondering: why the free phone and service? What's the catch. The only catch, as far as I can tell, is that Sprint wants its diplomatic corps to provide feedback on the phone (and, one would assume, though they do not state it directly, blog about it). Which leads me to the second thing I did.

The second thing I did was to try to sync my contacts using iSync--something I've done effortlessly with my Cingular phones, a Sony Erricson and Motorola Razr. No dice. Nor could I use the phone to connect my Mac to the Internet via Bluetooth, which wasn't quite such a big deal, but again is something that I expect to be able to do with Bluetooth.

But the contacts were another story. This effectively was a deal-killer for me. I've got scores of contacts. Scores! As in multiples of 20. No way I'm going to re-key all those manually. I might have been able to accomplish this with USB, but since this is a superfluous phone I didn't bother to take the time to find out.

Instead, I used the web feedback form to send the following message:
The first thing I wanted to do when I got the phone was to sync it with my contacts using Mac OS X's iSync program. However, iSync tells me that the phone is not supported. Support for this would be a great addition. Manually entering contacts is a crummy option.

Sprint replied almost immediately:
Although we support Windows 98 and XP with Connection Manager (which is 94% of the US installed base for OS's), it's not cost permitting to develop for Linux, OS X, and other OS's where there isn't sufficient demand. You can still use DUN in Windows and/or System Preferences/Network in Mac OS X to access the Power Vision network. Using Bluetooth, you should be able to push and pull contact info (one contact at a time) from a PC/MAC with no issues as it supports PIM Synch functionality.
One contact at a time? It would be faster for me to go ahead and do the development work myself. And I'm an idiot, with no development experience whatsoever. Still. Scores. Scores!

And then just yesterday, I received the following email:
Be Your Own Hot Spot
Sprint Ambassador Update

Your Sprint PowerVision phone is now equipped to provide a high-speed wireless internet connection to your computer. You can send and receive email, browse the Internet, and access your company's network anywhere on the Sprint Power Vision Network with DSL-like speeds (300-800 Kbps). This service has now been applied to your phone and is ready for use!

(brief how-to section snippped)

Please note: The phone as modem feature is not compatible with Mac OS at this time.
D'oh! Now see, I am more than grateful for the free phone. More than. Grateful. And I've been happily making all my calls with it for the past month now. I even tried to call Europe and Brazil (you can't).

But while I may be a Sprint Ambassador, I'm a Mac citizen first and foremost, and it irks me when companies pull out the too-few-Mac users song and dance. For starters, it's not like we're talking about some itty-bitty mom and pop shop. If this was a small business, I could understand investing your resources where they are most likely to produce a return. But it's not; it's a major corporation. And can you imagine if that logic applied elsewhere?
Oh, you live in North Dakota, do you? Well, sorry, Jack. That's a mere .002 percent market share so we're not going to build any cell phone towers there. But Bismarck's the capital city you say? True that, but it constitutes a mere .00019 percent of the US market share. You should be able to send your messages one at a time, however, using smoke signals. There are Sioux there, aren't there? I'm sure you can find one to translate for you. Or maybe you'll need two. But you get my point. TTYL!

I'm being facetious, and overly hard on poor Sprint (whose only crime after-all was to give me a free phone, which, after this post, is probably going away). But although the Power Vision data service does indeed kick-ass and I can understand why they would want to show it off; if I'm going to be an Ambassador I feel that it's my duty to not only talk about how great the service may be, but also to represent for the Mac users out there.

This isn't 1999. And OS X isn't System 7. Sure, the market sahre may be small, but there are other factors to consider as well. Today, the overwhelming majority of highly-influential early adopter types I know are also Mac users. If you want to reach out to the tech community, Mac support is the bare minimum. It's table stakes if you want to play. Which you may not.





FOOTNOTES:
1. It's worth noting that being a Sprint Ambassador does not give you diplomatic immunity. Chalk that up to a learning experience for me. Stupid public nudity laws.

3.22.2006 

Bytten: Quick hits

Oh, Wednesday. Hump day (my hump, my hump, my lovely midweek lump). Today you are all about France. Who knew France was the ultimate enemy of DRM? The entity that would finally stand up and say, Non! I was all ready to forgive and forget the whole not supporting the Iraq war thingie, but I guess now it's back to freedom fries for me.

3.21.2006 

Bluetooth: Innocent Danish-themed technology that might be coming to the iPod, or radio frequency of evil out to destroy America?

Dear reader. I apologize for my late posting today. However I hopefully shall make it up to you with biscuits and gifts. Stay with me. I'm going to juxtapose two pieces of seemingly unrelated information together, and draw some conclusions.

The first is the persistent rumor that keeps circulating about a Bluetooth iPod, one that reared its head again today on AppleInsider. The second is the new Audex Cargo Jacket from Burton, which differs from its predecessor in one very significant way: Bluetooth. As Brian Lam notes in his GadgetLab writeup:
this Burton coat is stuffed with Motorola tech. It has speakers in the hood for my iPod, and when my phone rings, the music pauses while I take the call using Bluetooth and a built-in mike.
And here's the thing where I tie two seemingly unrelated pieces of information together: the jacket will work with Bluetooth iPods. Why do I say that? Well, because a well-placed source (let's call them Deep Coat) told me months ago that the then-forthcoming jacket would play nice with the next-generation of iPods with Bluetooth.

"I'm sorry," I quizzed Deep Coat, my heart beating faster than Scorsese's during the filming of The Last Waltz. "Did you say Bluetooth iPods?"

"Yes," replied Deep Coat, no doubt paraphrasing, "Motorola told me it will work with the new Bluetooth iPods."

At that point I dropped my sandwich and ran out of the underground parking garage all the way home, only stopping for another sandwich. And to see a movie. And to get some new cables for my TV at Frys. But there you have it. Or, maybe you have it. Well-placed sources have been wrong before. And since.

But signs are increasingly pointing towards a wireless iPod. Maybe it's an iPod phone (the long-running rumors of which have recently been resurrected from the dead). Or it could have been an allusion to the ROKR and SLVR, although the ROKR had already been announced at that point. Or, of course, it indeed could be a new flavor of iPod with Bluetooth headphones. In any case, Deep Coat didn't give up any details, and without them I'm just trafficing in rumors. So I guess I'll just have to wait and see. Or hear, as the case may be.

 

Bytten: Quick hits

Oh, fear not, fragile friend. For although I am late today, I am on the way. And while a longer post is fast forthcoming, in the interim I suggest you feast on these fickle, um, fings.

3.20.2006 

Bytten: Quick hits

3.17.2006 

Bytten: Quick hits

Oh! Goodness sakes it's Friday already and time to drive the snakes out. So pour me a green Guinness and let's get to converting. Did you know St. Patrick was English? Indeed. But like any good switcher, he was too smart to stay put.
  • BusinessWeek takes a break from obnoxious flash ads for a sec to note that the MacBook Pro and Mac mini are two juicy new Apples, if you know what I'm saying. Aw yeah. Hell yeah you do. Let's get to it. Got it? Good. And now back to our regularly scheduled monkey punching and palm pilot plethoras.
  • Consumer Reports calls the iPod Hi-Fi "disappointing." In fact that's the headline: iPod Hi-Fi is disappointing. Ouch! So what about the subhed? A lot of times you can qualify an outrageous hed with a nice subhed. This boom box for your iPod has so-so audio quality. Oh, yeah, okay then. Not much better, that. But, um... How about the caption? The caption's good, right? I bet the caption is awesome! They said what? NOT SO HI-FI? Oh, well then. Moving along. [via tuaw]
  • Meanwhile, also on the Hi-Fi front, Denon responds to Steve Job's Denon shout-out during the Hi-Fi launch noting that "[i]t was a grandiose statement that was made and maybe we should be flattered that they picked us, but it’s a completely different animal."
  • Leander posted the pictures of the fried MacBook Pro power connector on Cult of Mac today that were pulled from Flikr. My opinion on this? It's not censorship. Apple did right by him and he pulled the PR-nightmare photos.
  • Finally, Apple has pretty cool new iPod nano ad

3.16.2006 

My Mac Life

I should have blogged this yesterday, but in the heat of the moment I became as a child. But if you want to hear a nervous, sweating Mat, check out yesterday's edition of Your Mac Life in which yours truly was a guest. I appear just after Peter Cohen wraps up, and no, my name is not Brian. It was really fun, thanks Shawn.

 

Bytten: Quick hits

3.15.2006 

Bytten: Quick hits on Apple errata

 

Hoop Dreams on the iTMS

I can't even begin to describe my elation that the NCAA tournament is coming to iTunes, which is odd, because I hate basketball. Hate. Hate. Hate. Stab. Stab.

Except, I mean, during the tournament, when I actually enjoy it and get into it. (But not you, NBA! Oh, no!) I'll place my ill-informed bets every year and settle in for hours of of March Madness.

But whatever, that's really beside the point. What I'm truly excited about is that you can get all 63 games for $20. That's a damn bargain. Coupled with the NASCAR season pass--which gives you all the races in the 2006 NASCAR Nextel Cup series for $25--and the iTMS is really starting to get into sports. Now, I don't really know much about NASCAR, but if that includes all the races listed here, well, that's a hell of a lot of redneckery for your twenty five bucks. As you'll recall (or not, whichever), I was kvetching about the Olympics not being on the iTMS, and so I'm really glad that Apple is offering these season passes on sports.

Oh, God help me if I can get season passes for the Braves, A's and Giants. I might have to start using steroids myself just so I don't melt into my chair. It also has the potential to cure my SEC football woes, namely that I don't get all the Georgia games I want to see out here in San Francisco.

Sports licensing is a pain in the ass--just ask any bar owner. I'm really psyched to see that Apple has come up with a way to deliver season passes of various sporting events at a reasonable price.

3.14.2006 

Eight great iPod hacks, mods and tricks

Check out my Playlist today covering Playlist: Eight different iPod hacks, mods and tricks. Note that a lot of these are, well, 1337, but others are really simple, and should be suitable for anyone.

 

Gone Phishin'

Alas, this shall likely be my lone update today as I'll be in San Jose covering the Gonzales v. Google hearing. But in the meantime, you should unplug your computer and disconnect it from the electroweb, as it just isn't safe out there, sugar-booger. Or is it? Okay, it is, it is. And if you remain unconvinced, try taking a few deep breaths and reading Jim Dalrymple's interview with Bud Tribble, Apple’s vice president of Software Technology, on Mac OS X security.

3.13.2006 

France Says 'Le Fuck You' to DRM

There's a lot of buzz today in Mac circles about a possible new French law that would force Apple to open its iTunes online music store and enable consumers to download songs onto devices other than the computer maker's popular iPod player. Reuters says of the proposed law:
Under a draft law expected to be voted in parliament on Thursday, consumers would be able to legally use software that converts digital content into any format.

It would no longer be illegal to crack digital rights management -- the codes that protect music, films and other content -- if it is to enable to the conversion from one format to another, said Christian Vanneste, Rapporteur, a senior parliamentarian who helps guide law in France.
Sure, Apple could just close it's French presence, but the law is much bigger than that. This is big news, not just for Apple, but for anyone trafficking in DRM-protected media that wants to do business in France. Assuming the Reuters report is correct and the law shall not be iTunes-specific, this seems like the kind of issue that could become a major trade and copyright issue for the US and France. And how far does the law go? Reuters quotes Vanneste as saying "It will force some proprietary systems to be opened up ... You have to be able to download content and play it on any device." Does this mean WMV files? DVDs? Ringtones? It is a potentially huge step in the ongoing re-definition of copyrights.

 

Smashed!

This came from a membership-required site, so I won't bother to link, but here's the writeup on new window display ads that can apparently be seen at various Apple Retail Stores:
Apple has debuted new window displays for its new iPod Hi-Fi and Intel processor computers. The above window will have police patrol officers doing a double-take for weeks, because it simulates a broken window in front of a iPod Hi-Fi sound component. Great idea, and for sure an attention grabber.
There are several other examples of these seemingly-smashed store windows to be found on Flickr.

 

Bytten: Quick hits on Apple eratta

3.10.2006 

Bytten: Quick hits on Apple errata

  • Steve Jobs: fucking loaded. And there's David Geffen right next to him. Awww. Isn't that sweet? Media Moguls can be so cuddly. BFF, TLFAA.
  • CNET UK takes a steel cage death match approach to reviewing the Mac Mini's media capabilities: Mac Mini vs. Microsoft Media Center: Round 1. In round 2, I heard that Media Center's evil ally Origami distracts the ref while the Media Center hits the Mini over the head with a folding chair. Is that still done in Wrasslin? I haven't seen much since the 80s.
  • Here's a neat hack to speed up your mouse or trackpad

 

The Apple Multi-Pass, anamalized

My editor and bearded buddy Jim Dalrymple has a great piece up on Macworld today looking at what the Multi-pass will mean for the future. It's a big step. (And you read about it here first! Or, well, maybe you didn't. But I wrote about it first, jerky. At least as far as I know. Oh, shame and embarrassment.) It's going to be a much better model for downloading regularly-updated content than buying on a per-episode basis, and it's going to fundamentally change video delivery, at least according to one of the analysts Jim spoke with:
“What we are beginning to see here is an indication of an important future trend,” Phil Leigh, president of Inside Digital Media, told Macworld. “This [The Daily Show] is one of the most significant developments on the Internet.”
Jim also points out that, contrary to what the crap you read on the electroweb might say, it's not a subscription service. I have to agree with Apple's take on that. "Subscription service" is a term of art and people mean something very specific by it.

But here's what I would like to see: I'd love it if Apple adopted an eMusic-type model, where I could pay a monthly fee to download a set number of music and/or video files. I was talking to Eric Garland of BigChampagne about this recently, and it just makes sense. The all-you-can eat model turned ISPs from mom-and-pop shops into telebehemothseths. Once cell-phone providers left a pay-per-minute model and offered pricing tiers, everyone in America got a mobile. eMusic, from what I'm told, makes good money. (What's more they do it without DRM). And then there's NetFlix. The Multi-pass is sort of a step in that direction. I'd like to see it advance even more.

 

The Chuck E Cheeze iPod

As a part of an upcoming article I'm writing on iPod hacks and mods, I spent much of yesterday attempting to sucessfully install MAME on one of my iPods (hello, failure!). I think I'm going to need to try again today, once I've again thouroughly intoxicated myself on the sheer joy I get from seeing a penguin on my iPod's startup screen.

But in any case, here's a guy who not only did it right, but he also built a wee arcade cabinet for his nano. I hope he has plenty of wee quarters and wee Tab to go with it.
[via cult of mac]

3.09.2006 

Mossberg on Mini

Walter Mossberg is all about the Mac mini today:
This is a review of an interesting new entertainment-center component that happens to also be a personal computer -- a computer fully capable of, say, creating a spreadsheet, but one you might never use that way. This new product also happens to be a new Macintosh model from Apple Computer, but, in its entertainment-system role, it works perfectly with Windows computers.
OMG! Snap!

WM doesn't really get into the Mini's specs or performance in any meaningful way other than how it works as a media center--which pretty much seems to sum up how Mossberg views it. Essentially, he's looking at it purely from its capablities as a media center.

Speaking from personal experience, that makes sense. Our mini is almost entirely used as a media center (and this is the old model, before Front Row). When I want to do some, you know, computing, I unplug my display and jack it into my PowerBook. Aside from the odd iChat or web browsing, it pretty much exists to deliver music to the home entertainment system.

 

Mini Reviewed: Core Solo Slower, Perhaps due to Carbonite Freezing Process

My editor and show-seeing buddy Jon Seff posted his review of the new Intel Mac minis. Both of them get four mice, but he dings both for the integrated graphics and the toils and tribulations one must endure (oh, but endure we shall!) in order to upgrade the RAM. He also notes that the Core Solo model doesn't show the same performance gains over the G4 minis that the Core Duo does.

Either way, Seff's review is chock full of pros: Front Row, built-in Airport Extreme and Bluetooth 2, more USB ports than a back room at Belkin. And of course there's the performance. The Core Duo smoked a lot of the universal binary apps, though Photoshop drones who want a new machine should note that the G4 still rules that roost.

Please, Adobe, won't you give us the Universal sooner rather than later? We're begging.

In any case, the review is chock full of specs, and it's a must-read if you're considering buying a new machine.

3.08.2006 

Review: Oakley Thump 2

Do these make me look like a dork?
My Oakley Thump 2 review is up on Playlist. In short, I loved these shades-cum-mp3 player. But The mocking, oh, the ceaseless, wicked mocking:
If you’re looking for the latest gadget with lots of features and technical capabilities, you’d do better looking at a hard-drive based music player—with no interface, no playlist support, and no iTunes integration, the Thump 2 is bare-bones. But in terms of highly portable players for active people, the Thump 2 is hard to top.

 

The Test is Over

Dave Schroeder closed his Mac OS X Security Test earlier than previously promised. But contrary to what I suspected, it wasn't because somebody successfully hacked in:
  • Most of the traffic, aside from casual web visitors, was web exploit scripts, ssh dictionary attacks, and scanning tools such as Nessus.
  • The machine was under intermittent DoS attack. During the two brief periods of denial of service, the host remained up.
  • There were no successful access attempts during the 38 hour duration of the test period.
It will be interesting to see the full results of this. Also, I'm glad I won't have to be eating my words. My words are foul things that smell like an old horse blanket.

 

the iTruth Music Store


The Daily Show and The Colbert Report are on the iTunes Music Store now. These are the first, er, daily shows that I know of to go up on the iTMS. That is to say, the first shows with several episodes per week.

Probably because of the frequency, Apple seems to be experimenting with a new type of pricing structure. Instead of being $1.99 per episode and thirty or so bucks per season, Apple is offering something called a "Multi-pass." For ten bucks (oh, fact-check me, it's $9.99, truthizens) you get the current episode, plus the next 15 (for sixteen total, it appears) all of which will be downloaded to your machine as they become available.

I'm glad to see some more shows from a new network, but even happier to see the new price structure. I don't think the TV shows are much of a bargain to purchase by the season. As for the price per episode, yeah, if I'm on a plane, or missed Bree's latest shenanigans (oh, Bree, will you ever get off the sauce and repair your relationship with your son? He just wants love!) I don't mind paying $1.99. But $30 for a season pass seems a little steep. Although it's still a little expensive, it's good to see that Apple isn't wed to its pricing model for television.

3.07.2006 

iPod AV? DMCA? WTFBBQ, No Way

I don't know what to make of the whole iPod AV thing. While on the one hand, it looks as bogus as a Hong Kong DVD, and it's playing a movie made by a Disney/Pixar competitor (which you wouldn't imagine would go over too well with The Boss). On the other, MacShrine just posted a cease and desist letter from Apple's lawyers. And then there's the video.

My take? Bologna, you can take that C&D and slap it between two pieces of bread and some cheese.

Why would Apple use the DMCA to go after a trade secret? The DMCA is there to protect copyrighted material. It makes it a crime to circumvent copy protection measures using electronic means, and it outlaws the sale of software, hardware, etc., that's intended to be used to circumvent those protections.

Apple used the DMCA to go after Real and others who have tampered with iTunes DRM, and it slapped the OSx86 project with a DMCA notice as well.

But posting pictures isn't a DMCA violation; it's a violation of Apple's trade secrets. In the past, Apple's C&Ds have (accurately) focused on trade secrets. (Also, they didn't appear to be written by three-year-olds, as is the case with the MacShrine notice.) The DMCA notice just doesn't make any sense. Here's the part where I say, "now, I'm no lawyer." But in my opinion, either MacShrine was hoaxed, or they themselves are full of it.

 

The Call is Coming from Inside the Mac!

Remember the OS X hacked story I linked to yesterday? Sure you do. Well, it turns out there was a rather vital piece of information left out of those initial reports. To wit:
Clarification: The story has been updated to clarify that participants were given local client access to the target computer.
Oh! Local access you say. You say you gave everyone who stumbled in your doorway non-admin user access and a password, eh? And you had your firewall turned off?

So, more or less, the contest consisted of giving people access to the machine via SSH and then asking them if they were idiots. When everyone else said "no," apparently the media was called in to bellow a full-throated "yes." To which panicked bloggers replied, "Holy Crap the sky is falling!" and more or less flew off the handle without bothering to find out more about the so-called hack.

Oh, wait, that was me.

In response to all this foolishness, Dave Schroeder of the University of Wisconsin has posted a legitimate security challenge:
The challenge is as follows: simply alter the web page on this machine, test.doit.wisc.edu. The machine is a Mac mini (PowerPC) running Mac OS X 10.4.5 with Security Update 2006-001, has two local accounts, and has ssh and http open - a lot more than most Mac OS X machines will ever have open. Email das@doit.wisc.edu if you feel you have met the requirements, along with the mechanism used. The mechanism will then be reported to Apple and/or the entities responsible for the component(s).
The first viruses and Trojan horses designed to exploit Mac OS X are out there, sure. But I think people have been over-reacting lately. There's more than a little bit of glee on behalf of non Mac-users who have grown tired of hearing what a secure system it is, and too much defensive protestation on behalf of some Mac users unwilling to admit that their systems aren't completely impregnable. They are neither Fort Knox nor Windows boxes. But what they are is pretty damn good.

Let's see how long Schroeder's page stays up unaltered. My guess is that even with the vulnerabilities he intentionally included, his Friday deadline will come and go with no untoward exploits, despite a lot of trying.

UPDATE:It looks like I'll be eating my words. Schroeder is ending the contest early:
The testing period will be closed at 11:59 PM CST on 7 March 2006 (0559 GMT 8 March 2006). The response has been strong. Test results and information will be published at a future date.

3.06.2006 

Bytten: Quick hits on Apple errata

Hey it's Monday! Good morning, sunshine. Unless you're on the East Coast in which case it's already early afternoon. Which sucks for you. You've been working for hours and we're just rolling in. How is that fair? Especially when you consider that nothing in California starts on time, so there are quite a few folks who are just getting into work right now, and nobody even considers them late. Which is neither here nor there, other than to say, Good morning!

3.03.2006 

Review: Apple iPod Hi-Fi

One of my editors at Playlist, Dan Frakes, has taken time off from being a new dad to publish a comprehensive review of the new Apple iPod Hi-Fi. The gist? He likes it. He really, really likes it. And points out that everyone would have probably been much less pissy if Jobs hadn't tossed in the word "audiophile." Audiphiles, of course, are essentially superheros with extraordinary powers of nerdly hearing, and the ability to thwart evil by bitching endlessly about the death of analog.

Have a nice weekend.

3.02.2006 

Meet the iWedge



*Not compatible with iPod shuffle

 

Bytten: Quick Hits on the new Intel systems

The new Intel systems are starting to really get scoped out. Mossberg, the Godfather of tech journalists, posted his review of the MacBook Pro today:
My verdict: The MacBook Pro is better than the PowerBook and better than the H-P, though it has some drawbacks. It is faster than previous Apple laptops, but the speedup isn't as great as Apple's claims suggest. At a starting price of $1,999, the same as the PowerBook it replaces, the MacBook Pro costs more than the H-P. But in my opinion, the price premium is more than justified by its superior design and features.
Meanwhile at Macworld, Jason Snell whips out his putty knife and cracks open a new Intel Mac mini, noting :
[T]here’s one gigantic change that may not be apparent from this angle: the easily-accessible RAM slot on the left side is gone. Or to be more accurate, they’ve been turned on their side and hidden from view.
Looks like if you want to upgrade the RAM in the new mini's you'll need to take it back to Apple to do so. (Not that I'd crack open one of the previous models myself.)

Also over at Macworld, Rob Griffiths has a story titled "Keeping Mac mini's integrated graphics in perspective which does wade into the integrated graphics imbroglio, but spends even more time comparing the Mac mini to a Dell system and evaluating its value. As Griffiths (and others previously) points out; yeah, the mini went up $100, but it's also got AirPort Extreme, Bluetooth and two more USB ports built in. I paid extra for all those (hi, ministack!) and I'd strangle a leper to get an S-Video output. And then there's FrontRow. Yeah, it's more expensive, but it's a better deal.

Eratta

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