Hard News by Russell Brown

Still waiting ...

I wonder whether the fact that Sony BMG has finally agreed terms to join the Australian iTunes Store flicks any kind of switch for New Zealand. The absence of Sony BMG product - and with it such beloved entertainers as Bic Runga, Dave Dobbyn and Che Fu - would have been a critical hole in any local offering.

As far as I know, the work on a local store is still in progress, but an update from anyone who knows would, naturally, be very welcome. As an iPod owner I would be in like a robber's dog - or perhaps the dog of a law-abiding consumer of music - and I know that Aaron Bhatnagar is with me on that one.

In related news, Apple has shut off a "SpyTunes" feature that, without asking, examined the contents of users' existing iTunes libraries in order to generate lists of recommended songs and videos. The if-you-like-that-you-might-also-like-this principle is a key element of online retail, but I think it was a bit of a bloody liberty to go looking at people's local libraries with specifically asking.

And Laura Bush reveals that her iPod rocks to the sound of Dolly Parton's cover version of 'Stairway to Heaven'. Does that version have the backwards satanic messages too?

Flip4Mac, now free in its basic form, plays Windows Media files via QuickTime, a whole lot better than the tragic WM player for MacOS X does - the deal lets Microsoft cancel development of Windows Media 10 for the Mac, which may be a mercy for all concerned. But be aware that you'll need the 2.0.1 version if you're running the new QuickTime 7.0.4. And no, it won't help you watch the for-sale video at the Google Video Sore. That's a DRM issue. And speaking of which, I'm getting a little bit worried about everything getting locked up inside Windows-only DRM.

On which tip, I wrote a roundup of copyright law quirks for this week's Listener. See Drop the CD and come out quietly.

Oh, and something for everyone who's looking forward to both The Stooges and 2ManyDJs at the Big Day Out tomorrow. Go Home Productions go crazy with 'TV Eye'. Not subtle, but why would you want it to be?

Yes, only one more sleep. Must get to work on that "back to mine" playlist for later …

PS: Thanks to reader John Horvath for pointing out that today is the hundredth anniversary of the birth of Robin Hyde . You can read 'The Singers of Lonelieness' here. Maximum respect.