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These Are Just Links (brought to you by OCR)

I've been ridiculously busy with OCR (on-campus recruiting), aka trying to find a job for after graduation, so I haven't had much time to blog, let alone read half the links I open up from my RSS feeds. Here's just a few of them I opened up today and yesterday:

Get free Digital Life tickets. It looks like a cool little conference taking place in NYC in a few weeks. Tickets are cheap enough that I might have gone anyway, but this really seals it. If anyone else is going or wants to go, let me know to meet up.

Woz will be on the Colbert Report this Thursday, promoting his new book. Woz is a big prankster so expect some good laughs.


The Treo 750v will be the face of Windows Mobile in Europe.
The latest Business Week has the Cingular 8125 (by HTC) in a bunch of ads, so maybe they're just trying to please their two big licensees (BTW, does anyone else besides Palm and HTC make Windows Mobile phones anymore?).

Harvard Econ professor Gregory Mankiw talks about getting rid of the penny (again). I hate pennies and try to use my debit card most of the time to avoid them. We're already rounding gasoline to the nearest penny, why not round everything else to nearest nickel?

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Moving Past DRM

Warner embraces YouTube and now Yahoo is offering an entire album DRM free. The album is Jesse McCartney's Right Where You Want Me and will be available for the iTunes-competing price of $9.99. While the music may be of questionable quality, it might be a good idea to urge people to pick this up to send the message that we are willing to pay for DRM-free music.

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The DP Makes the Big Leagues

The Daily Pennsylvanian, or DP, our school newspaper, had a front page article (with an N64 controller pictured, no less) on how video games are no longer just for nerds. Now, Wharton MBA student and Joystiq blogger Vlad Cole writes a short piece linking to the article. It was only a matter of time before the editorial quality of the DP pissed someone off in the blogosphere. Comments fall into two camps: "games haven't been nerdy for a while now" and "nerds (i.e., Penn students) are telling us what's nerdy and what's not".

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Apple Announcements Thoughts

I was going to do a regular "report the facts" post on Apple's announcements today but I was busy with submitting resumes and didn't have a chance to. So I'll just post my thoughts on the whole thing.

The 5.5G iPods are a solid upgrade, but Apple didn't really show much improvement for a the year span between the 5G announcement and their successors. Apple did let us lowly 5G owners have downloadable games (but only because they can charge $5 a pop for them) and the long overdue gapless playback, but would it really have hurt much to give us the search feature?

The new nanos look very nice and bring back a lot of memories from when the minis ruled the world. It's a great tribute to the colorful ones that'll be a whole lot less scratch-prone than the 1G nanos. With both the 8GB nano and 30GB iPod sitting at $249, it's makes the nano vs video decision a whole lot tougher. It is an excellent hedge move by Apple in that they are now that much more indifferent as to the sale of a nano vs a full-size iPod (differing margins notwithstanding).

By far the most revolutionary update is the shuffle. No longer is the iPod relegated to the pocket or an awkward armband. The combination of the clip and weight loss make it possible to carry the iPod shuffle, literally anywhere. You can carry 240 songs with you and not even notice. It's pretty amazing.

iTunes 7 saw a whole lot of improvements that will have varying effects on people's enjoyment of their media. The reorganization and segregation of different parts of the Source list make things easier to find, and the new-fangled UI theme is pretty and refined, but consistency sticklers will rag on Apple for introducing Yet Another UI Scheme™. The blue note in the icon pays tribute to iTunes 2, which also featured a blue icon. iTunes 3 had a purple icon and iTunes 4-6 had a green icon.

The iTV is interesting, and is essentially an Airport Express for video. The shots of the "enhanced" Front Row look great, but I'm wondering how well even the new 640×480 videos will look on HDTV (this also makes me wonder whether or not the 320×240 versions will get free upgrades to 640×480).

It really looks like Apple is setting up to take over the living room like they took over our ear canals. My only concern is that the whole iTV messes with my thoughts on Apple's future and makes me really wonder what kind of innovation they'll push forth on the desktop hardware side now that the Intel transition is over.

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Stream of Apple Event Afterall

It seems Apple has had a change of heart regarding their streaming of special events. Here's a link to today's special event streamed live.

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It's Showtime!

Apple's "It's Showtime!" event starts in less than three hours. The iTunes Music Store is already down in anticipation, but the online Apple Store is still a go.

I'll be in class (but with my MacBook) during the event. As always, however, MacRumors or Engadget are the best places to go for coverage in this post-"live stream" world that we live in.

Here's a small recap of what's expected to be announced:

  • iTunes Movie Store, debuting with Disney movies going for $9.99-$14.99.
  • iTunes 7, which will add support for the Movie Store (perhaps as a seperate item in the source menu) and will hopefully improve the video playback features.
  • iPod nano with new aluminum enclosure that does better against scratches. Capacities somewhere in the 4-8GB range.
  • iPod capacity upgrades. A true "video iPod" with touch screen scroll wheel is possible, but unlikely

That is what is >90% guaranteed to be announced. Any surprise announcements are anyone's guess - we've already seen fake shots of a MacTower (smaller version of the Mac Pro), the wide/touch-screen iPod video, and even a USB -> TV device named TubePort.

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Three Tech Companies I Like and Three I Don't

Three Companies I Like

Apple. The whole culture around Apple is simply amazing. People make fake photos of press events and upcoming products. Press events are covered live by several web sites. Geeks have finally embraced Apple and Macs are becoming much more mainstream. Apple's products have always been innovative and set the bar for design (and now with the switch to Intel, performance) that everyone else seeks to reach.

Microsoft. I was originally going to put Microsoft in the "Three I Don't" side, but couldn't really think of anything more to say about it than "I'm not excited about them as much as I was 6 months ago." I think in large part that has to do with Scoble (and Niall Kennedy) leaving Microsoft, leaving me with 0 Microsoft bloggers in my blogroll. That said, Microsoft still has some great products coming down the pipe, notably Vista and Office 2007. They will, however, face a lot of competition in the next year, particularly in the video games division with the Wii and PS3 releases imminent (not to mention against Apple's Leopard in the OS space). Still, Vista RC1 seems to have gotten a lot better than Beta 2; the new Office Ribbon has also had good uptake; and the XBox 360 (with XBox Live Arcade) has been a wonderful platform for both mainstream and casual games and will have had a year's worth of experience before facing the Wii and PS3.

Yahoo. Things have been coming along, albeit slowly, in terms of the integration of Yahoo's Web 2.0 acquisitions into it's mainstream content. We now have "Add to del.icio.us" links on every Flickr page and Flickr thumbnails on del.icio.us bookmarks. Also, not only is Flickr's geotagging feature is great as a standalone feature, it also does a great job of showing off Yahoo's new map technology. I hadn't known that Yahoo had finally made the switch to AJAXy maps, but after using it with the geotagging, I almost like it better than Google Maps. There's only so much that can be different in the two map services, but I feel like Yahoo's does a better job of labeling minor roads and landmarks.

Three I Don't

Google. The "throw a bunch of stuff at the wall and see what sticks" defines Google's strategy and I don't like it. I feel that it's hard to build a following for a company when you haven't given your fans enough time to really like your products before throwing something new at them. I think it's also going to be tough for Google to balance monetization of user data and easing privacy concerns. You can either piss off investors by not adding context-sensitive ads to Writely (as an example), or you can piss off your users by making them question your commitment to privacy when they see ads related to their top-secret business plan show up in a sidebar. The features of Google that I use have been around for at least 2 years, meaning that in my eyes (and probably the eyes of many others), the company has done very little in the past two years, a long time in any industry, but an especially long time on the internet.

Sony. Talk about a lack of ability to listen to one's customers. Sony has been stalwart in their approach to the PS3. They've defended their outrageous price tags to the death and really think that more graphics and more power will make for a better gaming experience. The success of XBox Live Arcade (and the Nintendo DS for that matter) point more accurately to the future of gaming: simpler, casual and more fun games. Case in point: despite having Madden 07 at our fingertips, I think we've spent more time trying to get 6 black pearls in Hexic. Grand Theft Auto or Zuma. What would your mom rather play? What would you rather your 9-year old play? Gaming aside, Sony bills the PS3 as the cheapest Bluray player on the market. While $600 may be cheap for a Bluray player, I don't know if many people will pay anything for a Bluray player unless it can also play HD-DVD or until the dust settles in the format wars. By pricing their gaming system at $600, they've effectively created an alliance between Microsoft and Nintendo. For the same $600, one could pick up an XBox 360 and Wii and have access to both system's libraries, plus everything on XBox Live Arcade and whatever Nintendo releases out of their back catalog.

Palm. Since the release of the Treo 600, we've had only minor improvements in Palm devices. I love my 650, but is there really a viable upgrade path from it right now? The 700p has only minor improvements over the 650 and not something I would consider worth waiting two years for. In the meantime, RIM has introduced a more phone-like, "less wide" form factor for it's Blackberries with the 7100 and refined it with the Pearl. Even on the Windows Mobile side, we've gotten a slew of phones, both of the Smartphone and full handheld variety. The Motorola Q and HTC's lineup have made keyboards the norm for Windows Mobile phones. Windows Mobile has been updated just about every year since 2002, in comparison to the Palm OS, which has had no real improvements since 2004. We've simply seen far too little in the past few years, from what was once the overwhelming leader of the PDA industry.

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iPod Ads Missing

A Gizmodo reader observes that the circulars in today's New York Times have no iPods in them. This almost guarantees we'll see new iPods at Apple's "It's Showtime" special event on Tuesday. It's been almost a year since the nano and the 5G iPod were released, so updates are long overdue. The real question, then, is will we get all new iPods to go along with the movie store or are we going to just see capacity upgrades?

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ENGL 105: Copyright and Culture

The class I am currently sitting in has a list of recommended blogs on the syllabus. We just watched a video podcast. Cool!

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Apple Releases Core 2 Duo iMacs

Apple released today their Rev. B Intel iMacs featuring the mobile Core 2 Duo processors. A 24" model was added to the lineup.

The new iMacs start at $999 for a very stripped version of the previous-generation 17" iMac. This iMac more closely resembles the education-only iMac as it lacks a Superdrive, discrete graphics, Bluetooth and Remote. The next model up is an $1199 17" model that is at a similar price point to the previous base model. The processor on this model gets bumped to a 2GHz Core 2 Duo with 4MB of L2 cache, comes with 1GB of RAM and the price drops $100. The 20" iMac gets a $200 discount, a 4MB/2.16GHz processor.

Added to the lineup is the $1999 24" iMac. The specs are similar to the 20" iMac except that the video card has been replaced with an NVidia 7300GT with 128MB of RAM. The 24" iMac also gives up a FireWire 400 port in exchange for a FireWire 800 port.

BTO options are abundant, with almost every part of the iMacs being customizable. The $1199 17" model can get a 2.16GHz processor as an upgrade for $100, while the bigger models can go to a 2.33GHz processor for $250. The video RAM can be doubled to 256MB on the 20" and the 24" can take a 7600GT with 256MB RAM for $125 extra.

In slightly less exciting news, the Mac minis have been bumped to 1.66/1.83 Core Duo processors. There is an special Apple event next Tuesday where the company is expected to announce the availability of full-length movies on the iTunes Music Store.

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