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Saturday, June 2, 2007

Not so fast!!!!

Well, if it sounds too good to be true it probably is! According to this Wired blog post, Apple is watermarking user names and e-mail addresses in the new iTunes Plus DRM free downloads. So there is no DRM but there is an anti-piracy measure built in, stands to reason. I guess it is still a step in the right direction, however if they are doing this to thwart piracy why do we have to pay a premium price for the removal of the DRM? Is it the hopes of EMI and Apple that we will pay more money for the ability to put the tunes on whatever device we want? However, as Michael Calore reports in his Wired blog post, it's only a matter of time before someone figures out a way to manipulate the file and change the watermark.

As an aside, EMI's website is really awful!

Friday, June 1, 2007

Free music! DRM free that is...

In a move that has music downloaders running for their credit cards ;-) Apple Inc. announced Wednesday the launch of iTunes Plus a worldwide portal, for iTunes Music Store, that will sell only DRM (digital rights management) free tunes. The tracks are reported to sell for $1.29 (us), 30 cents more than most regular, DRM'd, iTunes tracks and will be encoded at 256 kilobits per second as opposed to 128 kbps for regular iTunes tracks. What this means is better sound quality and more portability of songs between devices. Most of the EMI labels catalogue of songs will be available, this includes artists such as Coldplay, The Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd, and Paul McCartney.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Ads on your cell phone

Is nothing sacred? Looks like Google, Yahoo!, Microsoft, and AOL are lining up to serve us ads on our cell phones. With a number of start up purchases and some home grown applications the big guys are seeing big bucks in our small screens. Business 2.0 has the story here.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Microsoft Surface Unveiled

Microsoft has apparently announced it's latest device, the 30" touch screen / coffee table sized / 150 pound Surface PC. I saw a video of an early prototype of this technology a year or so ago but it is now set to be released to the public. As I've stated before I'm an early adopter but, at between $5,000 and $10,000 us dollars, I don't think I'll be the first guy on my street to own one. The technology is very slick and intuitive, I particularly like the T-mobile application that is demoed. Check out the YouTube video!

That thumb drive speaks volumes!

Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) provider Vonage has introduced the V-phone, a bright orange 256 MB thumb drive complete with Vonage Talk Software pre-loaded, a detachable stereo earpiece/microphone, and your own Vonage phone number. The beauty of this little device is that there is no need to install the software on your PC, or restart your machine to use it. Just plug the device into any available USB port, assuming the PC being plugged into has a high speed connection, and start calling! Considering I paid $99 as an upgrade to my Dell PC a couple of years ago for my 64 MB USB drive, the $29.99 (ca) price tag seems reasonable. There is of course a requirement to subscribe to a Vonage service plan, which start at $19.99 (ca). You can compare that to your current phone service and make your own decision whether or not it's worth the expense, and of course there are other VoIP services such as Skype to consider but this little device does have it's merits. If nothing else, there are 250 MB's of free space to store your MP3's on...

Sounds like a great solution for road warriors and students wanting to stay in touch with home, at $20 a month for 500 minutes the return on investment should be decent..."Dad, my marks are good. Can you send money?"

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

IM studying!

A recent conversation with my 15 year old went something like this...

Me: "I thought you had to study? You have exams soon!"

Him: "I am studying!"

Me: "Then why is the instant messenger bleeping all of the time? Doesn't sound like studying!"

Him: "We have an Internet study group, we are asking each other question."

I slyly peek at the screen to reassure myself that he is actually studying...

Me: "Cool!"

Monday, May 28, 2007 target of virus writters?

In a recent press release has acknowledged that it is possible that virus writers may have targeted their open source office suite via it's macro support. The security team has apparently not received a copy of the reported virus, "SB/BadBunny-A", and will respond once they have had an opportunity to analyze the threat. While I have not personally tried the product I have heard good things about the software and support the idea of open source. I am sure that with Sun Microsystems behind it, it is a solid suite of products and should be considered a contender when you are looking for office software at home or a work. The price is definitely right! I will give it a download and a serious look once the virus threat has been addressed. I should stress that the other major office suites are constantly marked as targets of virus authors so my reservations for downloading at the moment are not because I think is more vulnerable than my current office suite. I'm also not inclined to open files from anyone that I don't know or that I am not expecting files from, even if I know them; this is just good practice.