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DVD Jon Is A Masochist

Dave Zatz —  October 25, 2006

DVD Jon, the guy who cracked DVD encryption, has set up shop in California as DoubleTwist Ventures. His goal is to pirate license technology enabling iTunes to play on non-iPods and non-iTunes DRM-ed tracks to play on iPods (how’s that working out, Real?). It would be nice if Apple’s copy protection scheme (aka FairPlay) was made available to other devices, however they’ve been reluctant to share… and probably won’t until a court orders them to do so. Until then, I expect they’ll go after Jon and anyone brash enough to integrate his work into players — it’s no accident his blog is titled So Sue Me. I don’t know how the Norwegian legal system compares to America, but I hope he’s got backers with deep pockets…

Fortune writes: Johansen has reverse-engineered FairPlay, the encryption technology Apple uses to make the iPod a closed system. Right now, thanks to FairPlay, the songs Apple sells at its iTunes store cannot easily be played on other devices, and copy-protected songs purchased from other sites will not play on the iPod. Johansen has written programs that get around those restrictions: one that would let other companies sell copy-protected songs that play on the iPod, and another that would let other devices play iTunes songs.

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Today the iPod is officially 5 years old. What really broke the seal on the portable MP3 (or is that AAC?) player market was Apple’s intuitive UI and minimalist controls. Despite the initial price premium, they sold a ton and created an industry (iTunes probably also saved the recording industry from itself).

I’ve owned a variety of iPods over the years, including a refurb 3G long since ebayed and a Shuffle collecting dust on den floor. I even had a video-capable iPod for a short while. For the most part, I prefer carrying fewer devices and have made concessions in order to watch video and listen to music through my Sprint 6700.

While my marathoning days are loooong gone (that’s Chicago above, 1998), I’d like to be more active. My 35th birthday is coming up in a few months, and my blood pressure and cholesterol are way too high (blogging doesn’t burn many calories)… It’d be nice if I can substantially reduce those numbers on my own without being medicated. After upgrading my Garmin Forerunner 201 to the 205 model a few months ago, I still had problems in (efficiently and consistently) locking onto the satellites near neighborhood highrises and in densely wooded areas along the Potomac. I also didn’t care for the way the redesigned model sat on my wrist. Off to ebay they went!

The Nike+ iPod digital pedometer has been on my radar for awhile now. I know there have been various complaints (it isn’t super accurate, the battery can’t be replaced), but it just looks like a fun gadget to have while working out. The web syncing also seems pretty cool. Not having to stand around for 10 minutes waiting for a satellite signal is priceless. So I picked up a Nano and the Nike+ kit.

Nike’s haven’t historically fit me that well (more of an Asics or New Balance guy) — I’m undecided if I’ll buy a pair or Velcro the pod onto sneaks I already own. Stay tuned…

Never enough time…

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  • Apple planning satellite radio integration? (Orbitcast)
  • $4k gets you a Blu-ray + HD DVD media center PC. (EngadgetHD)
  • Slingbox Pro receives 4/5 star review. (PC Mag)
  • YouTube faces copyright penalty of $150,000 per clip? (LA Times)
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Kevin Smith, Dave, and Jason Mewes
San Diego Comic-Con, 1997

So Macworld events and speakers have been announced… and I’m wondering why the heck is Kevin Smith presenting? Disney did retain control of the Miramax name and film library (including Smith’s Clerks & Chasing Amy) when they split with the Weinstein brothers last year, though his films have yet to show up on iTunes. Is this part of an Apple movie push in support of iTunes, iTV, and perhaps a larger movie-centric iPod? Or am I reading to much into this and event sponsor IDG is just looking for some entertaining speakers?

Picture of the Day: It Lives

Dave Zatz —  October 18, 2006
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MacBook & SlingPlayer @ DigitalLife

For more Mac Sling coverage, check out a video interview and demo from DigitalLife and mysteriously obtained (large) screenshots.

Buy 1 iPod, Get 1 Virus Free!

Dave Zatz —  October 18, 2006

In two separate incidents, digital music players have recently shipped with Windows malware payloads. I don’t even know where to begin. Mistakes happen, but this boggles the mind.

My first question is: Was this malicious or accidental? An accident is more likely preventable, while a malicious act is probably harder to block. Dabbling in computer security, I’ve always emphasized the biggest risk is internal (disgruntled employees or those on a competitor’s payroll) and have lobbied for ‘red teams’ to hash out potential vectors and strategies to minimize exposure.

It’s nice to see Apple owning up, but publicly calling out MS is somewhat unprofessional. As a Mac user (in addition to PC and Linux), I dread the day when OS X comes under attack… Apple is basically asking for it. (See Mac videos for more examples: one, two)

Apple writes: We recently discovered that a small number of the Video iPods available for purchase after September 12, 2006, left our contract manufacturer carrying the Windows RavMonE.exe virus. As you might imagine, we are upset at Windows for not being more hardy against such viruses, and even more upset with ourselves for not catching it.

Engadget writes: McDonald’s and Coca-Cola recently teamed up in Japan to give away 10,000 self-branded MP3 players pre-loaded with 10 spankin’ new tunes and… some delicious malware. It seems that a “portion” of the players sport a variant of the QQPass family of trojan horses which capture passwords and other personal information when the MP3 player is plugged into the users’ PC. The code then proceeds to email the details to the author.

DigitalLife Wrap-Up, Part 3

Dave Zatz —  October 13, 2006
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So let’s review… T-Mobile’s rendition of the HTC Excalibur, branded “Dash”, hits the streets next week and kicks butt if you can put up with Windows Mobile and EDGE. Neither TiVo nor Sling put Apple fanboys first, but both will be offering support in the “near future” — if I were a gambling man, and sometimes I am, Sling’s will hit first. Both the Neuros OSD and ITVN devices caught my eye and I’m working on getting review boxes. Sony got my attention with their new LocationFree line (including receiver!) and electronic book Reader. Several of the savviest people I spoke to at the show had very positive things to say about Infrant‘s network-attached servers for media hosting. I’d like to get my hands on one, though Seagate’s rep offered me any product in their catalog. Hm! Pepper Pad still doesn’t do it for me, and neither do voice-powered remote controls.

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No show is complete without tons of schwag! Most of it is junk, but I did see (and collect) some notable items. Palm and TiVo had the best stuff. At their 680 press event, Palm gave away gift bags including a 1GB SD card, nice notebook and pen, and a non-slip dashboard pad — Treo not included. TiVo had goodies too, and I don’t think they were limited to VIPs (bonus!): TiVo bubbles, mints, stuffed dolls, KidZone lanyards, and sturdy nylon sackpacks. The Alienware bag had a throwaway t-shirt and mouse pad, but they kindly included a nice leather luggage tag which I will use. Over at ShowStoppers I ended up with a 256MB Kensington USB stick, Linksys/Cisco mini screwdriver thingy, and a glowing pen from TeleNav. I thought Movielink’s boxes of popcorn were clever (and a fine source of blogging sustenance).

After the jump, check out a few more pics from the show…

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