Wrong about Apple?

September 28, 2007

I wrote that Apple’s iTunes DRM didn’t bother me because I trust Apple, and the only way my previously purchased songs could become unplayable would be if they deliberately pushed out an iTunes update to destroy them. Well, now according to this article in the Inquirer, Apple has pushed out an iTunes update to destroy the iPhones of customers who unlocked them. More from a Google news search

I guess I’ll stick to emusic.com, and check out Amazon’s new DRM free music store.

On a side note, it’s a ridiculous business model to "give" customers a "free" phone subsidized by a required long term service commitment. The regulators should prohibit the lock-ins, and let the phones compete on a true cost basis, and the phone service compete on a true cost basis.

 

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A winter without flu?

September 21, 2007

For the first time in years there is expected to be


Build your own 50W PC

September 19, 2007

George Ou at ZDnet shows how to build your own PC out of commodity parts using only 50 watts. A crucial point for him is the efficiency of the power supply. He does use regular disks. I would have expected one flash memory "disk" and one spinning disk, but maybe the power management software isn’t yet able to distinguish and power down the more energy hungry disk first.


Barcelona

September 12, 2007

No, not that Barcelona – the city, home to the Universitat Politecnica de Catalunya, a very strong engineering school. An intern from UPC did some great work for me a few years ago on the relationship of thread level parallelism and instruction level parallelism.

A lot of creative music also comes out of Barcelona, including The Pinker Tones. If you like an eclectic mix of styles you can save yourself the trouble of mixing and just get the Million Color Revolution, including these cuts worth a preview. Every track on the album is good.

  • Karma Hunters (in English) – vote for the instant karma party
  • L’heroes (in French) – I am my grandma’s hero
  • Pink Freud (in German) – barbershop quartet
  • Maybe Next Saturday (in English) – robot boy asks her to the dance
  • Sonido Total (in Spanish) – music in space
  • Gone, Go On – (in English) Howdy Doody’s love song

 


TV remote works from 1,000 miles

September 10, 2007

New use for Nokia N800: TV remote control. Really remote – like anywhere on the Internet. Browse TV listings, select shows to be recorded on DVR, check recording schedule, check previous recordings and delete ones I don’t want any more. Actually, all the Nokia provides for this function is the web browser. We decided to give AT&T U-verse a try, in part because our old cable service kept having bandwidth shortages and outages for video on demand, especiallly on weekends. Also I read that AT&T used Sun servers for video delivery, so I thought they’d be able to deliver the necessary bandwidth. So far that seems to be the case, and with greatly improved latency, so it’s hard to tell whether I’m viewing content from the remote servers or from the local DVR hard disk. You can record and/or watch four shows simultaneously.

AT&T salesmen seem to have a problem with over promising some features of U-verse, but I’ve found some cool features that they are definitely under selling. Being able to control your DVR from a web browser is nice, both because you can do it from anywhere, and because a keyboard and mouse (or pen in the case of the Nokia) provides a more usable interface than a TV remote.

U-verse also lets you browse information about a TV show or movie, with links to the actors and director. E.g. click on the director to see more of his movies which are coming up in the "broadcast" schedule or available in video on demand, then click on the one you want to schedule it for recording. I used to do this looking up the information in imdb.com but the integration of movie information with the schedule and DVR makes it much more convenient. Too bad they currently only deliver these TV hyperlinks over the TV, not on the web. And they don’t have a facility where you can register a "wish list" of movies, favorite directors, and favorite actors, to be alerted when something you might like is coming up. But that’s all just a "simple matter of programming" so maybe later…

One caveat for the Nokia: the standard browser won’t work with the AT&T Yahoo web site for program listings and TV control. The web site complains that you must use a current version of Internet Explorer or Firefox, locking out the Nokia’s Opera based browser. Typical web designer tunnel vision to ignore Opera, which I’d bet would work just fine if I made it mis-identify itself as Explorer. Fortunately the Mozilla web engine for Nokia is allowed into the web site and works fine.


That song that keeps going through your head

September 8, 2007

Today’s music is Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto in D major, and a deft and forceful interpretation of it by Julia Fischer. To everyone interested enough to read this far: it just may be that melody you’ve had going through your head off and on for years, and you couldn’t remember what it was, nor could you forget it. The problem is, the 30 second preview clips they provide on both emusic and iTunes aren’t often long enough to develop the music so it cuts off before you have much of an idea what it is – for jazz and rock as well as classical music. I guess it’s their music and they can guard it however they like, but they’d probably sell a lot more if they "showed their wares." Something like a 3 minute low bit rate preview would be ample to entice most eventual buyers, and everybody interested in the music would want listenable quality and the complete track. They’d make many times more in additional sales than they might lose from piracy.

But back to Tchaikovsky… a warning: if you download this concerto but it happens not to be that melody running through your head – it will soon be. But at least you’ll have a name for it. So give it a shot. Fischer is a delight.

 


Hand held remote desktop

September 6, 2007


Nokia N800
amazes me twice again. 1) There is a vnc viewer for it. 2) It really works.
Remote applications are surprisingly usable on the N800 screen. Pen taps and motions translate flawlessly to mouse motions, and the Bluetooth keyboard works too.