Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: The Suicide Note

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  • hudsie,

    oh just checked playing QT movies enables the Front Row remote no need for iTunes... looks like it is goodbye to my VLC player. Thanks Public Address! If anyone discovers a hack to put the AVI's into iTunes then Apple TV would be the go.

    Since Nov 2006 • 19 posts Report

  • Tom Beard,

    My third thought? I already have one of these, it's called a Treo, and keys + stylus make it damned easy to use.

    My thoughts exactly. My iMate plays MP3s. And is a half-decent phone. And lets me take photos, edit them, upload them to my blog, compose music, edit spreadsheets, read maps, write documents, play games, surf the net, create graphs, store addresses...

    I guess I've just never got what's supposed to make iPods so much better than other MP3 players, so the iPhone just doesn't excite me. What we really need is for smartphones to get hard drives and proper cameras.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1040 posts Report

  • matthewbuchanan,

    More information on today's announcements from Apple... this post says that the iPhone will not support user installable apps (at least, not without a little hackery). Here's some pics of it in the flesh.

    And here's a post about the Apple TV which suggests it will output to any TV that supports a progressive-scan DVD player.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 163 posts Report

  • matthewbuchanan,

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 163 posts Report

  • Finnbar,

    AppleTV and DivX files.

    Have just finished watching Steve J do the annual Muscone Centre thing over at Macworld. I will be interested in the iPhone when(if) it gets to NZ... but not too sure about the AppleTV. If it cannot play divx files to my lounge...?? You are right Russell, iTunes 7 does not play divx files. Quicktime 7.1.3 (pro) does, so I just assumed; well, you know what they say about assumptions...

    Have to say I thought Steve J is getting a bit mellow, his health scare and a few grey hairs might be getting to him. I recall his addresss to the class of 05 at Stanford University and figure maturity might be creewping up on him.

    Auckland • Since Jan 2007 • 1 posts Report

  • Nigel Caughey,

    Here's some more info on the iTV from HD for Indies http://www.hdforindies.com/2007/01/mikes-thoughts-on-apple-tv.html

    Paihia • Since Nov 2006 • 14 posts Report

  • Duane Griffin,

    It seems like a very sound argument. Such ridiculous requirements and design constraints would be very costly to implement. So I expect they will either be ignored or worked around by any manufacturers who can't recoup the costs from their customers. Just how much Vista-compliant hardware and software is going to be available by the end of this year?

    Cringely's response misses the point quite spectacularly. He doesn't address or even acknowledge the cost or security arguments. Which is odd, considering the title. The points he does make mostly seem to agree with conclusions in the paper: the strategy is driven by MS desire to dominate the marketplace and lock-in customers and suppliers; this will be costly; it isn't what consumers want; and the ostensible goal of all this, "content protection", is unachievable anyway.

    Anyway, as a long-time personal and professional Linux user, I really don't care too much. I don't think it will have as much of an effect on the open hardware situation as Peter seems to believe, mostly because I think it will be a complete failure in the media market.

    Palmerston North • Since Nov 2006 • 21 posts Report

  • stephen walker,

    For Windows Vista Security, Microsoft Called in Pros

    When Microsoft introduces its long-awaited Windows Vista operating system this month, it will have an unlikely partner to thank for making its flagship product safe and secure for millions of computer users across the world: the National Security Agency.

    For the first time, the giant software maker is acknowledging the help of the secretive agency, better known for eavesdropping on foreign officials and, more recently, U.S. citizens as part of the Bush administration's effort to combat terrorism. The agency said it has helped in the development of the security of Microsoft's new operating system -- the brains of a computer -- to protect it from worms, Trojan horses and other insidious computer attackers.

    "Our intention is to help everyone with security," Tony W. Sager, the NSA's chief of vulnerability analysis and operations group, said yesterday.

    nagano • Since Nov 2006 • 646 posts Report

  • Danyl Mclauchlan,

    If the history of the iPod is anything to go by, the iPhone will be a great product to own in about four years time.

    Maybe by then it'll also be able to connect to my home wireless network and I'll be able to get the radio on it. Both of those are far more useful to me than the ability to watch a movie on a microscopically small screen.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 927 posts Report

  • Gary Hutchings,

    Well at least the lawyers are happy :)

    Suit Filed to Protect Cisco's iPhone(R) Trademark

    Cisco(R) (NASDAQ:CSCO) today announced that it has filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California against Apple, Inc., seeking to prevent Apple from infringing upon and deliberately copying and using Cisco's registered iPhone trademark.

    Cisco obtained the iPhone trademark in 2000 after completing the acquisition of Infogear, which previously owned the mark and sold iPhone products for several years. Infogear's original filing for the trademark dates to March 20, 1996. Linksys, a division of Cisco, has been shipping a new family of iPhone products since early last year. On Dec. 18, Linksys expanded the iPhone(R) family with additional products.

    "Cisco entered into negotiations with Apple in good faith after Apple repeatedly asked permission to use Cisco's iPhone name," said Mark Chandler, senior vice president and general counsel, Cisco. "There is no doubt that Apple's new phone is very exciting, but they should not be using our trademark without our permission.

    "Today's iPhone is not tomorrow's iPhone. The potential for convergence of the home phone, cell phone, work phone and PC is limitless, which is why it is so important for us to protect our brand," Chandler concluded.

    With its lawsuit, Cisco is seeking injunctive relief to prevent Apple from copying Cisco's iPhone trademark. For more information on the Cisco iPhone product line, please visit www.linksys.com/iphone.


    wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 108 posts Report

  • Kit McLean,

    AppleTV seems like a bit of an old idea being brought to the masses through good marketing (Apples obviously mastered this!) There's plenty of players out there already that play content from your computer on any TV perfectly well. And without all the protection, limited content and palaver that iTunes puts you through. Check out http://www.airlinktek.com/english/prod_mg350.htm, it'll wirelessly stream and play content (pretty much any media format you can think of except RM or RMVB) from your PC or Mac. Plus you can chuck in any size 3.5" hard drive and play it on any tv - anywhere. Sure its pretty ugly, but it works!

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 24 posts Report

  • Edward Sargisson,

    The Microsoft DRM play in Vista is merely the first shot in a battle that will be extremely interesting to watch; namely, the conflict between the consumer and the content owners over control of the consumer's own hardware and software. It is just this battle that Richard Stallman, the leading anti-DRM advocate, has been pointing out for years.


    The iPod is a case in point. Before the iPod there were many competing portable MP3 players. That part of the iPod is not new. Apple added workable DRM to the iPod in order to be able to negotiate with the record companies to sell their content. Apple also applied fantastic hardware and software design along with sophisticated marketing (cool ads) to provide a beautiful and easy to use product.

    The iPod is therefore the integration of something that consumers would want, and record companies would be prepared to use, in order to increase the utility for consumers.

    It was these features that helped the iPod grab enormous market share, and grow the market incredibly, very quickly.

    The music battle is largely over - although there are some moves by various actors to not worry about DRM at all. It does become annoying for consumers and may not be worth it.


    The battle for video is just heating up. The studios are extremely scared that their income stream will be butchered by consumer piracy. This is partly because the economic models are different between music and movies.

    A musical artist does not receive a lot of the purchase price for a CD. Typical estimates are around $1. The rest of the price is taken by the record company and is mostly used to offset the losses that are made from artists that are not hugely successful.
    (i.e. record companies invest highly in recording albums from likely musicians but only one in ten recoup that investment).

    The real money in music comes from concerts. I'm not completely sure of the economics but I know that the promoter normally gives the artists around 80% of the ticket price.

    Movies, on the other hand, have a different model. The cinema takings are only a small proportion of total revenue according to David Denby of the New Yorker. Most of the income is from selling the movie to television networks, DVD sales and, in some cases, merchandising.

    Given this economic model you can see why the studios are scared. If their income stream from DVD sales and TV sales is cannabilised by free digital distribution then how can they fund their multi-million dollar movies?

    Microsoft is therefore attempting to to re-create the Apple iTunes supply chain for movies inside Windows Vista.

    Technical Aspects

    I am a professional programmer with a small side interest in computer security. I read all of Peter Gutman's paper and I'm utterly amazed. The level of protection that is required is unusal and draconian. Microsoft has gone through the entire operating system looking for possible holes and attempted to plug them all.
    There will be enormous costs in terms of hardware development, software development, CPU cycles, memory, the works.

    It will be extremely interesting to see if consumers will actually find this acceptable. The usability of their machine may be reduced and the costs will certainly be high.

    Given Microsoft's record on the number of defects currently being found in their products (not unusual in this industry), and the complexity of what they're trying, they will almost certainly have made a mistake in this DRM code. It will be interesting to see what happens then. The threat to prevent previously working hardware from functioning is amazing. Will Microsoft force these updates into the operating system and prevent that from working unless updated?

    Fair use

    It's worth mentioning that most DRM schemes have no provision for fair use or copyright termination. Fair use is the right to a portion of a copyright work for review, study, criticism, etc. Copyrights have a limited term. This changes based on who created the work, what it is and what country but is generally 50 years.


    Rich of Observationz
    I would be extremely surpised if that were the case. Microsoft has spent too much time and money, and are betting far too much, for their work to be so easily circumvented. If you have Vista then you will have this draconian DRM.

    (Goodness, what a post. I think this should go on my blog.)

    Vancouver, BC • Since Jan 2007 • 8 posts Report

  • Rich of Observationz,


    My understanding of the music industry is that the only way artists make real big money (e.g the Queens and Paul McCartneys) is from back catalogue CD sales. Concerts are marginally profitable and done to promote music sales. At the indie end of the scale, I guess that bands make zero money from recorded music and marginally more from gigs - at least the ones I know do.

    I'm in no way saying that MS will make it possible to *circumvent* the DRM in Vista. What they will almost certainly allow is to opt out of using your PC as a (DRMed) media player - the corporate and server markets will insist on it.

    My view on how future practical DRM media systems will work - you will have a physical extra wire from the Blu-Ray player to the monitor (just like the old CD analog audio). When you watch an HDTV film, it will send the content down this wire rather than through the motherboard electronics - which don't have much value add on movie viewing anyway.

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report

  • Edward Sargisson,

    Apple TV

    I suspect that this will not necessarily be quite as successful as the iPod. The main issue is that it does not support the common formats that are used for movies downloaded off the web - i.e. XVid appears to be missing completely.The iPod is useful because it plays the commonly available audio format, MP3.

    However, I believe there will increasingly be a market for a TV media server. People want to be able to watch their stuff on their TV. (I'm currently looking for something that solves the problem and will probably build my own.)

    For example, there are products such as the TVisto. This is a portable hard drive that can be connected to a TV to play the content.Portable hard drives are quite popular as people swap what they've downloaded. The addition of the media player and remote makes this really useful.

    However, personally speaking, I would probably not want the hassle of copying media onto the drive and then physically moving it to the TV to play.

    I want wireless!

    You could go something like the Digital Media Gateway which will play things from across the network. However - it has no storage! You can always add a portable hard drive or a hard drive on the network but that's a bit too much effort.
    So my current thought is to roll my own with MythTV.
    We'll see.

    Vancouver, BC • Since Jan 2007 • 8 posts Report

  • Kit McLean,

    Edward - check out my post two up from yours. I think the media device you want already exists...

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 24 posts Report

  • Simon Grigg,

    Before the iPod there were many competing portable MP3 players.......It was these features that helped the iPod grab enormous market share, and grow the market incredibly, very quickly.

    It does my head in to see this repeated yet again. I'm not going to pay the US$500 for the exact figure from IDC but other online information gives their figures as (outside the US)

    Australia (58%), Japan (54%), Canada (45%) and UK (40%). The NEXT BEST COUNTRIES were Germany and France at 21% and 11%. Places like Italy, Spain, China, Eastern Europe and Korea LESS THAN THAT.

    Sitting here in Indonesia, with regular trips to the likes of Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand, even the visual evidence is that I am on a minority with my trusty pod. Zens, Muvos, no-name Mp3 players and, mostly Nokia and SE phones absolutely dominate.

    The sales counters of electronics stores and malls would indicate that to be the case too. The iPod is often not that easy to find.

    The best information I can find is that the iPod, whilst it may be the single biggest pure music player, only has about 25% of the global market.

    Its too easy to see it from a techy / US centric position

    Just another klong... • Since Nov 2006 • 3284 posts Report

  • matthewbuchanan,

    The NY Times' David Pogue gets some hands-on time with the iPhone and Fortune looks at how they kept it a secret...

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 163 posts Report

  • Russell Brown,

    Edward - check out my post two up from yours. I think the media device you want already exists...

    It exists in my house too, after a fashion, in the form of my iBook, which I use to wirelessly copy over video files from the Mac in the office, and play them on TV via an ugly little device I got at Dick Smith (about $130) that converts VGA to standard video (it even does s-Video). It actually works really well.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22850 posts Report

  • Ian Hickling,

    Two items on our local BBC news this morning from London:

    1. Brett Lee is out of the next Aussie game due to bronchitis! I wonder whether his gig list requires condoms?

    2. US troops invaded the Iranian Consul in Baghdad this morning and detained four Iranian staff. My understanding was that international law states that consular buildings constitute sovereign land for the relevant consul, and that one of the most strictly adhered to international laws was about the sanctity of embassies and consular offices. So it appears as though the US has now technically invaded Iran (and I heard no word of complaint about this violation by anyone on the news), and added the breaking of this international law to their violation of the Geneva Convention over Guantanamo. When you add this to the above discussion about Hollywood vetting our computer content, the US conducting actions against "suspected AQ militants" in Somalia (another sovereign territory), and the news in the Herald last week that we're going to have to give 10 fingerprints to enter the US, is anyone else worried about the way the world is turning? I regularly have to travel to the US in the course of my business and well remember the dilemna I went through when they first introduced fingerprinting (only 2 fingers). My identity is no longer my own, and I have no control on how it is used, sold or to whom. Paranoid? I am

    Barbados • Since Nov 2006 • 25 posts Report

  • matthewbuchanan,

    From Mac developer David Watanabe, re: Apple TV and support for non-iTunes video content:

    Well, I asked an Apple rep working the Macworld floor and he was very quick to assure me that any video content that iTunes can play can be played on the Apple TV, it’s not restricted only to content bought at the iTunes Store. That’s good news for anyone who prefers alternate sources for video content.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 163 posts Report

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