Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Legit at Last: BitTorrent Site The Pirate Bay is Acquired

The Pirate Bay, the world's most notorious BitTorrent tracking site, has faced the brunt of legal battles of late. Specifically, this includes the founders of The Pirate Bay, Frederik Neij, Gottfrid Svartholm Warg and Peter Sunde, as well as Carl Lundstrom, who provided financing, all of who were found guilty of facilitating copyright infringement. Now, however, it looks to go legit, as Swedish tech company Global Gaming Factory X (GGF) said Tuesday that it has reached an agreement to it for about $7.7 million.

While an appeal has already been filed, The Pirate Bay hasn't been sitting still either, with a recent closed beta for a logless VPN, iPREDator being launched. Additionally, there was this deal, behind the scenes.

According to the press release:

GGF intends to launch new business models that allow compensation to the content providers and copyright owners. The responsibility for, and operation of the site will be taken over by GGF in connection with closing of the transaction, which is scheduled for August 2009.

"We would like to introduce models which entail that content providers and copyright owners get paid for content that is downloaded via the site, " said Hans Pandeya, CEO GGF.
That sounds totally legit. One has to wonder how The Pirate Party, unaffiliated but reportedly inspired by The Pirate Bay, will feel about this. The Pirate Party recently managed to gain a seatin the European Parliament in the latest election (two if the Lisbon Treaty is ratified).

Also on Tuesday, GGF added that it agreed to acquire Peerialism, which is a Swedish company that specializes in the development of P2P file sharing technology. The move is obviously related to GGF's acquisition of The Pirate Bay.

In the same press release as above, Johan Ljungberg, CEO of Peerialism said:

"Peerialism has developed a new data distribution technology which now can be introduced on the best known file sharing site — The Pirate Bay."
While GGF said that The Pirate Bay produces huge traffic (and yes, it's obvious), it's hard to believe that said traffic will remain unabated if things change at the site. We'll see what happens, and watch with interest.
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Monday, June 29, 2009

iPhone 3GS Overheating Due to Battery Issues?

When some Palm Pre owners complained of screen distortion, I warned iPhone users to expect some sort of problem with their new iPhone 3GS phones. After all, nothing is perfect. Right now the issue that's causing some consternation for iPhone 3GS owners is overheating, to the point that white iPhone 3GS phone have turned brown.

There's actually not that much activity at the Apple Support Forums, though the issue has been reported.

At the same time, Rapid Repair which performs teardowns of hardware gadgetry (such as this Palm Pre teardown), said overheating could point to a problem with faulty battery cells. Rapid Repair points to the fact that the brown marks on the back of the iPhone 3GS phones that have the problem basically outline the battery.

Interestingly, there are quite a few responses to a post about problems with the battery, but not in terms of overheating, but in terms of battery life.

So it seems that when users say the iPhone 3GS is hot, they mean in more than just trendiness. We'll see if this continues to be an issue for end users.
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Mozilla Set to Release Firefox 3.5 on Tuesday

Mozilla has confirmed that the next release of their browser, Firefox 3.5, will go live on Tuesday, June 30th. The versioning on the new release was originally set to be 3.1, but was bumped once it became apparent just how many changes were going into the product.

Additionally, the 3.5 (nee 3.1) browser release was initially scheduled for the end of 2008. However, the addition of changes such as a new, faster JavaScript engine named TraceMonkey; privacy mode (AKA "porn mode"), and location-aware browsing bumped the version number.

The most recent data from market research firm Net Applications shows Firefox with a 22.5% of the browser market. However, rather than seeing the browser market shake-out, Mozilla has seen competitors in the marketplace increase, with both Chrome and Safari making inroads, and in fact, causing it to make modifications to TraceMonkey to keep up with the speed of the other browsers.

Microsoft also recently released Internet Explorer 8, less of a speed demon but still ubiquitous.

If things are like last year, when Mozilla released the 3.0 version of Firefox, many may see delays in managing to download the darn thing, though Mozilla hasn't been promoting "Download Day" as it did last year.
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Apple Runs Short on iPhone 3GS Phones

Despite the fact that Apple was somewhat disappointed with the lines (or lack thereof) for the new iPhone 3GS on launch day, it sold over 1 million of the new, faster iPhone version in the first weekend. Thus, the new and improved iPhone availability widget is a boon, disappointing as search results might be.

At the time of this writing, for example, the widget shows things aren't looking so good in California for availability at Apple stores. Click the above image to enlarge.

It's improved this year previously, availability numbers were updated at the end of each business day. In fact, the page was usually taken down during the business day. However, this year, according to IFOAppleStore, the page is linked directly to Apple’s internal POS computers, and the data is updated hourly for each store.

California's needn't complain however: they could live in Delaware, which has only one Apple store, and is currently sold out across the board.
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Apple Sued Over Gift Cards, Tiered Pricing

On April 7th, iTunes went 100% DRM-free, but at the same time Apple introduced tiered pricing. And therein lies the crux of this new lawsuit against Apple.

Daniel and Barbara Owens of Illinois have filed a class action lawsuit against Apple. The couple has purchased "numerous" iTunes gift cards over the years, but in this case the gift cards were bought on March 1 from Sam's Club and on May 19 from Wal-Mart.

Here's what the lawsuit says, in part:
The above-mentioned 99¢ iTunes cards that were purchased on March 1, 2008 from a Sam’s Club in O’Fallon, Illinois both state: “Download $25 worth of entertainment to enjoy your Mac or Windows PC. And, of course, your iPod. Songs are 99¢ and videos start at 1.99.”

The above-mentioned 99¢ iTunes card purchased on May 19, 2009 at a Wal-Mart in O’Fallon, Illinois states: “Download $15 worth of entertainment to enjoy your Mac or Windows PC. And, of course, your iPod. Songs are 99¢ and videos start at $1.99.”
It's the text that says "Songs are 99 cents and videos start at $1.99" that is the problem, according to the plaintiffs.

The lawsuit adds:
Defendant knowingly and fraudulently misrepresented, concealed, omitted, and/or suppressed the cost to purchase individual songs from its iTunes internet website. As a result, Plaintiffs and members of the putative class have suffered economic harm in that they have paid monies for a product that was worth less than what was represented and/or they have been denied the benefit of their bargain to purchase any song from Defendant’s iTunes Store for $0.99.
The Owens want Apple to refund the 30¢people have had to pay to buy certain songs with the so-called "99¢ iTunes gift cards," which would amount to as much as $5 million, according to the lawsuit.

Read the filing in full below:

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Sunday, June 28, 2009

webOS "Classic" App Compatibility Site Launches

MotionApps, which I wrote about earlier, has released one of the few apps available for Palm's Pre and its webOS platform: an emulator that allows you to run Palm OS applications. On Friday, they launched Classic Well, a community-driven Web site that tracks Palm OS "Classic" app compatibility.

Here's what the site says:
Classic Well is a user driven forum where Palm OS user community can report on and discuss Palm OS apps run in Classic. Users can share how those apps behaved and provide recommendations and feedback valuable to both other users and Palm OS developers.
Obviously, not everything will run in the emulator, which is called (naturally) Classic. The more self-contained an application is, the better its odds of running in Classic. Honestly, while people wait for the sparse App Catalog to gain more entries (and some of that is Palm's fault, for withholding the SDK), the large number of Palm OS applications gives consumers some solace, particularly since many have large Palm OS program libraries.

It's also no secret that its never been to hack trial versions of Palm OS applications into believing they have been registered, but that's another story.

MotionApps also has a "Classic Certification" program. For $99, a developer can have applications certified for use with the Classic emulator. Think of it as WHQL certification for PalmOS apps. You submit your application to MotionApps and they run a series of tests on it for compatibility purposes.

A couple of the already-certified apps which many PalmOS users will remember are Agendus and HanDBase.
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Saturday, June 27, 2009

Michael Jackson Downloads on File-Sharing Sites Surge

Michael Jackson's unexpected death has not just flooded the web with those seeking information about the tragic event, it's also energized the file-sharing community. Not only are new sites and Twitter being bombarded by users and news-seekers, but file-sharing aficionados are downloading Michael Jackson music at a fast clip.

Michael Jackson suffered a cardiac arrest on Thursday afternoon, which at this time appears linked to an injection of Demerol possibly administered by his physician, Dr. Conrad Murray.

On Friday afternoon, if you checked the most popular downloads in the music section of Mininova, the largest Bittorrent tracking site, the top seven were all Michael Jackson downloads.

Similarly, at The Pirate Bay, the most notorious (infamous?) Bittorrent tracker, the top two downloads in the music section were Michael Jackson downloads, while a total of six of the top 10 were Michael Jackson downloads.

For those wondering about the Beatles' back catalog, it will go to Sir Paul McCartney, who has been estranged from Michael Jackson since he lost a bidding war for the rights to 200 of the Beatles’ songs.

Additionally, according to biographer Ian Halperin, there's a huge set of unreleased music that Jackson has held back, and that's probably the next large set of Michael Jackson torrents, right?

This March report states that:
Michael Jackson has recorded more than 100 songs in secret, but is refusing to release the tracks until after his death, according to biographer Ian Halperin.

The singer has amassed a stack of tunes but only wants them to be heard by his children, 11-year-old Prince, 10-year-old Paris Katherine, and five-year-old Prince Michael II, after he dies, said Halperin, author of forthcoming book "Unmasked, The Michael Jackson Story".

Halperin said, "I was astonished by the number of songs which have been held back. I was told that he will not let them come out now but wants to leave them for his kids, a very personal legacy to them."
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Friday, June 26, 2009

16GB iPhone 3GS Costs Apple $179 to Make: iSuppli

Apple's lower-spec iPhone 3GS model costs approximately $179 in materials and manufacturing, according to a teardown analysis released on Wednesday by research group iSuppli.

The 16GB version of the iPhone 3GS carries a bill of materials of $172.46 and costs $6.50 to make, iSuppli estimated. This compares with last year's estimate of $174.33 for the 8GB iPhone 3G, and the first generation 8GB iPhone's estimate of $227.

The 16GB model retails for $199, but of course is heavily subsidized. Interestingly, the 8GB iPhone 3G continues to be sold, at $99, which would place that price (stiil subsidized, mind you) below the cost of the device.

ISuppli analyst Andrew Rassweiler said in a statement:
"By leveraging this commonality to optimize materials costs, and taking advantage of price erosion in the electronic component marketplace, Apple can provide a higher-performing product with more memory and features at only a slightly higher materials and manufacturing cost."
According to Apple, the iPhone 3GS, which went on sale last Friday, sold more than 1 million units in the first three days of launch.
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Thursday, June 25, 2009

Google Voice Invites Begin Trickling Out

Google Voice, which was relaunched in March from the "ashes" of GrandCentral, has remained closed to non-GrandCentral users since then. On Thursday, Google announced it was again beginning to give out invitations to the still-not-fully-public service.

Since Google had gone months since adding any new users, you can see that there is probably quite a backlog of requests for entry queued up. In their blog post announcing the move, Google said:

We are happy to share that Google Voice is beginning to open up beyond former GrandCentral users. If you requested an invitation on the Google Voice site or previously on GrandCentral, keep your eye out for an invite email.

Once you receive your invitation, just click on the link and follow the instructions to setup your new Voice account. To help you find a Google number that is personalized to you, we've added a number picker that lets you search by area code and text. See if you can find a number that contains your name, a specific word or a number combination.
Now that's something new, the number picker. Previously you selected an area code and it would just give you a list of numbers. Dang, I would have picked any old area code if I could get some word or phrase for myself.

At any rate, the post above indicates that Google isn't opening the service up to just anyone yet. I could see a major landrush if they did.

Check out the Google Voice intro video below:
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Microsoft Announces Windows 7 Pricing, Upgrade Program

Microsoft on Thursday finally dished on upgrade options for Windows 7, international availability on launch day (Oct. 22) and pricing. It's hard to say which one is more important to me, 1) or 3), but in this economy, I'd go with 3).

So, to drag things out a bit, here's the info on the international versions first: on October 22nd, Windows 7 will launch in the following 14 languages: English, Spanish, Japanese, German, French, Italian, Dutch, Russian, Polish, Brazilian Portuguese, Korean, Simplified Chinese, Traditional Chinese and Chinese (Hong Kong).

A little more than a week later, on Halloween, October 31st, the remaining 21 languages will become available: Turkish, Czech, Portuguese, Hungarian, Swedish, Danish, Norwegian, Finnish, Greek, Ukrainian, Romanian, Arabic, Lithuanian, Bulgarian, Estonian, Slovenian, Hebrew, Thai, Croatian, Serbian Latin, and Latvian.

Actually, not bad; it used to take months for a full rollout to all languages.

In terms of Vista -> Windows upgrades, it all starts on Friday, June 26th. You can find full details here, but basically anyone who buys a PC from a participating OEM or retailer with Windows Vista Home Premium, Business or Ultimate on it will all receive an upgrade to the corresponding version of Windows 7 at little or no cost (why Microsoft can't get all OEMs to go with "no cost" is beyond me). The Windows 7 Upgrade Option Program will last through January 31st, 2010 and is global.

Finally, pricing. You'll remember a leaked memo I wrote about earlier contained info about aggressive promotions for early Best Buy pre-orders? The details in that memo were not just correct; the program itself is actually more widespread than it appeared.

Select markets will have the opportunity to buy upgrades at more than 50% off. In the U.S., you can pre-order Windows 7 Home Premium Upgrade for $49.99 or Windows 7 Professional Upgrade for $99.99. Microsoft says to come back to the promotional site here on June 26th for a full list of participating retailers, but they have already announced that Best Buy, Amazon, and the online Microsoft Store (in participating markets) will have promotional pricing.

This program begins tomorrow in the U.S., Canada and Japan. The offer ends July 11th in the U.S. and Canada and on July 5th for Japan or while supplies last. In the U.K., France and Germany, the program starts July 15th and will run until August 14th. In their blog post, Microsoft calls this a screaming deal, and it's certainly aggressive, no doubt.

I should note that this is only for upgrade versions; I'm still unclear if you can do a clean install with an upgrade version of Windows 7, or not. Prior to Vista, you could do so simply by providing your prior license key, but Microsoft didn't allow that in Vista. You had to use "double install workaround" to make it work, a loophole that was discovered.

All right, how about non-promotional pricing? Here you go (US):
  • Windows 7 Home Premium (Upgrade): $119.99
  • Windows 7 Professional (Upgrade): $199.99
  • Windows 7 Ultimate (Upgrade): $219.99
  • Windows 7 Home Premium (Full): $199.99
  • Windows 7 Professional (Full): $299.99
  • Windows 7 Ultimate (Full): $319.99
Watch an interview between that lays all this out (unfortunately, Silverlight required).

Announcing the Windows 7 Upgrade Option Program & Windows 7 PricingAds by AdGenta.com

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Steve Jobs Liver Transplant Confirmed by Tennessee Transplant Center

I haven't been as sick as Steve Jobs was, but the dearth of stories from this site have been because a) I threw out my back, b) I also got the flu. I am barely functional now. At any rate, back to Steve Jobs.

The Wall Street Journal reported last weekend that Apple CEO Steve Jobs had a liver transplant, and that has now been confirmed by the Methodist University Hospital Transplant Institute in a short press release.

James D. Eason, M.D., program director at and chief of transplantation confirmed today, with the patient's permission, that Steve Jobs received a liver transplant at Methodist University Hospital Transplant Institute in partnership with the University of Tennessee in Memphis.

Mr. Jobs underwent a complete transplant evaluation and was listed for transplantation for an approved indication in accordance with the Transplant Institute policies and United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) policies.

He received a liver transplant because he was the patient with the highest MELD score (Model for End-Stage Liver Disease) of his blood type and, therefore, the sickest patient on the waiting list at the time a donor organ became available. Mr. Jobs is now recovering well and has an excellent prognosis.

The Methodist University Hospital Transplant Institute performed 120 liver transplants in 2008 making it one of the ten largest liver transplant centers in the United States. We provide transplants to patients regardless of race, sex, age, financial status, or place of residence. Our one year patient and graft survival rates are among the best in the nation and were a dominant reason in Mr. Jobs’s choice of transplant centers. We respect and protect every patient's private health information and cannot reveal any further information on the specifics of Mr. Jobs's case.
As indicated in the first paragraph, Jobs granted them permission to release the information. Some of this comes over speculation that, as liver transplants are hard to come by, could Steve Jobs "cut in line."

In reality, it's difficult if not imposible for anyone to "cut in line," but unlike most people, Jobs has the financial wherewithal to fly around the country and get into multiple lines, so to speak, at multiple "organ procurement organizations" (OPOs) . That's simply not possible for most people. It's hard enough for most people to afford the transplant in the first place.
In the Tennessee OPO where Jobs received his transplant, the median wait for a liver between 2002 and 2007 was just over four months. The national average was just over a year, and in some OPOs it was more than three years.
So, did Steve Jobs use his money to get "cuts?" Not really. Did his money help him? Certainly.

At any rate, it's also been reported that Steve Jobs is back at work, so all seems well, at least for now for Apple, Apple stock, and Steve Jobs.
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Monday, June 22, 2009

D'oh! Sorry, Your GPS Unit Led You Astray

It's no secret that even GPS units are subject to GIGO (Garbage In, Garbage Out), leading users astray due to incorrect map data.. People have even been led to the edge of cliffs. Wouldn't it be appropriate to hear the expression "D'oh!" if such a failure occurred?

Well, you won't, but you can directions via Homer Simpson, at least if you use TomTom navigation units. TomTom users can go to www.tomtom.com/simpsons and download the voice for $12.95 or €9.95. Sorry, it's not free. D'oh!

A couple of samples you can hear at the website include:
  • "Woo hoo! You have reached your destination, and you can hold your head up high, because you are a genius!"
  • "At the end of the road, turn left, then take the highway. Ah ha ha, he he. Woo hoo!"
D'oh! It's an iconic phrase, so iconic that its even in the Oxford English Dictionary as of 1998.It is defined as an interjection "used to comment on an action perceived as foolish or stupid".

You know, kind of like running off a cliff because your GPS tells you to, even though you can see it's a "bad idea."
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Palm Promises web OS SDK Out Soon

The Palm Pre has been out for about two weeks now, and despite that, Palm has not released the webOS SDK to the public. Only developers in their early access program have the SDK in their hands, and that's surely a mistake on Palm's part.

Right now there about 30 apps in the App Catalog, and granted, it's been a short time, but there's no reason why Palm shouldn't give the SDK to everyone. That said, som are making apples to oranges comparisons, forgetting about the millions of first-generation iPhones that were available to download those early App Store entries.

Still, I can't understand why Palm is holding back on the SDK. Here's what they say:

Our goal is to make the SDK available to everyone by the end of this summer, and to get there in stages:
  • Beginning immediately, we’ll accelerate the growth of the early access program, expanding as quickly as resources allow. Over the next few weeks, the program will grow from hundreds to thousands of developers.
  • Simultaneously, we’ll begin publishing more content outside the early access program, and we’ll launch new confidentiality rules that will allow early Mojo developers to communicate more freely with the rest of the world.
  • As soon as we can, we’ll open the SDK to all legitimate requests.
Legitimate requests? The original PalmOS was built with lots of content from small developers. It sounds like Palm is trying to restrict things to the biggies, and by doing so is shooting itself in the foot.

And end of summer? That's (seasonally) in September. That's a long time to wait, for both developers and end users.
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Sunday, June 21, 2009

Teenager Spots Robbery Suspects on Google Street View

Google's Street View is quite the crime-fighting tool. It's already foiled a kidnapping, and now it's enabled Dutch police to arrest twin brothers on suspicion of robbery.

Their alleged victim, a 14-year-old boy, spotted a picture of them following him on Google's Street View, as shown above. He had been looking around Google Street View when he saw the above image, showing two men following him in the approximate location where, last September, he had been robbed of €165 ($230) and his cell phone. The incident took place in Groningen, 110 miles northeast of Amsterdam.

After the police received the report, they asked Google for the original image, with faces unblurred (Google blurs faces for privacy reasons). Google agreed to the request, and when given the photo, a robbery squad detective recognized one of the twins.

Now that an arrest has taken place, prosecutors will have to decide whether to charge the two.

Google's other products have helped the police as well. In April Google Latitude helped foil a purse snatching.
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Saturday, June 20, 2009

Steve Jobs Had a Liver Tranplant: Report

Apple CEO Steve Jobs, who has been on an extended medical leave since mid-January, had a liver transplant two months ago, reports the Wall Street Journal. He is still on target to return at the end of June, according to the report.

There has been much speculation over the health of Steve Jobs since 2008, when he appeared gaunt and somewhat ill at WWDC. Since then, he admitted to skipping Macworld in January for health reasons, though he said it was a "hormone imbalance that has been 'robbing' me of the proteins my body needs to be healthy." He then took the aforementioned extended medical leave.

Apple iTunesIn August 2004, Jobs underwent successful surgery to treat a rare form of pancreatic cancer, which sidelined him until September of that year. Much of the speculation over the past year had been over whether that cancer had returned.

There were in fact, rumors about Jobs needing surgery very early on in his medical leave, though rumors then centered around his pancreas, rather than a liver transplant.

William Hawkins, a doctor specializing in pancreatic and gastrointestinal surgery at Washington University in St. Louis, Mo., told the WSJ that the type of slow-growing pancreatic tumor Jobs had will generally spread to another organ during a patient's lifetime. He indicated that the liver is frequently targeted. Hawkins has not treated Jobs.
"All total, 75% of patients are going to have the disease spread over the course of their life."
During Steve Jobs' absence, COO Tim Cook has run the company, in what some would say is a fine fashion. This has led to speculation of a possible "passing of the torch" soon, with Jobs remaining on the Board of Directors.

These revelations will also bring up the issue of privacy: many were critical of Apple for not being fully open on Steve Jobs' condition, primarily because Jobs is a rare executive whose importance to the company is considered so great by shareholders that a mere "Steve Jobs has the flu" story can cause a drop in the stock. Well, not really, but it has been said that Jobs is so important that the question arises: which is more important: Jobs’ right to privacy or the public’s right to know?

Apple, naturally, has refused to comment, with a spokesperson saying only:
"Steve continues to look forward to returning at the end of June, and there's nothing further to say."
Apple iTunes

RIAA vs. Jammie Thomas-Rasset Trial, Take Two: a Worse Result

For the defendant, Jammie Thomas-Rasset, she had to be thinking that perhaps a retrial was not such a good idea after all, after hearing the verdict. The trial, which began Monday, concluded Thursday with Thomas-Rasset found guilty of willful copyright infringement. She must now pay the recording industry $1.92 million.

The jury imposed damages against Thomas-Rasset, a huge $80,000 for each of the 24 songs she was found guilty of illegally sharing. The original 2007 verdict saddled Thomas-Rasset with a $222,000 in damages, or $9,250 per song.

According to Ars, upon hearing the verdict, Thomas-Rasset gasped.

The RIAA stated that the jury's decision reaffirms industry's contention about the legality of its copyright claims. Cara Duckworth, an RIAA spokeswoman said:
"We appreciate the jury's service and that they take this issue as seriously as we do. We are pleased that the jury agreed with the evidence and found the defendant liable. Since day 1, we have been willing to settle the case and remain willing to do so."
The implication, acknowledged by Duckworth, is that the industry would be willing to settle for far less.

Thomas-Rasset is the only person among those threatened with a lawsuit for illegal file-sharing to go to trial. Last year U.S. District Judge Michael Davis of Duluth, Minnesota, declared a mistrial in the original case, ruling that he erred during jury instructions.

Late in 2008, the RIAA indicated it would no longer pursue file-sharers through legal threats, instead opting to attempt to get ISPs to join a "three-strikes" movement to halt broadband services for someone who has been warned three times for such activity.

TrapCall.com - Unmask Blocked Calls

Friday, June 19, 2009

iPhone 3G S Buyers Experiencing Scattered Activation Issues

"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." Just as in the last two years, once again, activation issues are giving new iPhone users a painful experience.

Specifically, it's because of the huge numbers of iPhone 3G S buyers who are all trying to activate within a short period of time. It's not new or unexpected, to be honest. And despite my comment about repeating the past, this issue only crops up once a year (thus far), so it's probably not cost-effective to beef up the servers just for a one-day event.

On the other hand, if Apple had allowed the web pre-orders to go through it would have spread out activations and lessened this problem.

According to the message that some are receiving in iTunes (above), it may take as much as 48 hours to complete the activation. The key phrase, though is, "up to." For me, it took 3 hours to activate.

Some are reporting that if you call AT&T and have your SIM card number (using the SIM extraction tool provided) and the IMEI (from the box) a rep can activate it for you. I was about to do this when my iPhone 3G S told me it was good to go.
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iPhone 3G S Lines Form, Minus Hysteria

Another year, another new iPhone, and another long line to wait in? Yes, it's true, but things are not quite as hysterical, panicky, crazy, however you want to call it.

iPhone 3G S lines are long, but pale in comparison to last year and 2007, when the first iPhone was introduced. I doubt, however, that Apple isn't going to sell a ton of these devices this weekend, dwarfing the Palm Pre sales numbers.

Why short(er) iPhone 3G S lines, in that case? Well, this year, Apple and AT&T went back to allowing people to order phones online. You could then either choose to have it delivered to your home (my choice) or delivered to a store where you could pick it up. Since people already had their iPhone 3G S reserved, there was no need for hysteria.

Additionally, the iPhone 3G S is more incremental than the change from the original iPhone (EDGE) to the 3G in last year's model. And, those who are in a contract with AT&T have to $200 extra to get out of the contract, so some may feel why bother opting in and standing in a long line?

Most of the changes in the iPhone 3G S are provided in the iPhone OS 3.0 firmware, and that, anyway with an older iPhone can get (though the EDGE model cannot support some of the functionality).

In terms of the actual features built into the HW that the iPhone 3G S has over the iPhone 3G, they include:
  • Higher resolution camera
  • Video recording (this can be done by jailbreaking your older iPhone, though)
  • Faster CPU
  • PowerVR graphics chip
  • HW encryption
  • Compass
  • Voice Control
  • Longer Battery Life
Is that enough to stand in line for? I suppose it depends, and the iPhone 3G at $99 will likely make people think as well.

BTW, there may be fewer hysterics in lines around the country and world for the iPhone 3G S, but I'm getting somewhat hysterical. As you may or may not know, Apple made sure UPS delayed the shipments for iPhone 3G S so that people wouldn't get it early. According to my shipping status, it's behind where I would expect it to be if I were going to get it today. Aaagh.
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iPhone OS 3.0 Tethering Hacks Appear

Want to tether your iPhone to your laptop but don't want to pay the onerous fees? There are a couple of ways that have found their way to the Internet, but you should be warned that there are a few risks.

Method one (for Mac users)
  • First you need iPhone OS 3.0.
  • Then, download this settings file.
  • Quit iTunes and enter the following command in terminal: defaults write com.apple.iTunes carrier-testing -bool TRUE
  • Restart iTunes, connect your iPhone
  • Option-click the Restore button to choose the .ipcc file in the downloaded disk image (above)
  • This will update the carrier settings.
  • If the update is successful, the Network page under General settings will show an Internet Tethering option.
Method Two (even easier):
  • Browse to a site that I've never heard of (help.benm.at) on your iPhone
  • Scroll down until you find the Mobileconfigs section of the page
  • Download a file that will reconfigure your local carrier profile
  • If the update is successful, the Network page under General settings will show an Internet Tethering option.
Great, eh? It will even work for AT&T, which hasn't even provided a tethering option yet. The bad thing is: do you seriously expect this to be unpatched for long? Right, this loophole will be closed soon.

In addition, we've seen that carriers sometimes get a bit upset when you use huge amounts of bandwidth through your mobile phone, so you can bet they might be able to detect such usage and "fine you."

Despite those caveats, its worth a try, if you're careful.
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Thursday, June 18, 2009

As Apple Warns About Third-Party Media Players and iTunes, Palm Fires Back

Apple issued a warning on Tuesday, noting that third party media players were not supported by iTunes. What could they possibly be talking about? Perhaps the fact that the Palm Pre will be recognized by an iPod by iTunes?

Obviously. Here's what Apple's KB article says:
Apple designs the hardware and software to provide seamless integration of the iPhone and iPod with iTunes, the iTunes Store, and tens of thousands of apps on the App Store. Apple is aware that some third-parties claim that their digital media players are able to sync with Apple software. However, Apple does not provide support for, or test for compatibility with, non-Apple digital media players and, because software changes over time, newer versions of Apple's iTunes software may no longer provide syncing functionality with non-Apple digital media players.
Basically, Apple is warning, and probably will, try to block the Pre from syncing with iTunes. Naturally Palm fired back. In response, Palm spokesperson Lynn Fox said:
Palm's media sync works with the current version of iTunes. If Apple chooses to disable media sync in a future version of iTunes, it will be a direct blow to their users who will be deprived of a seamless synchronization experience. However, people will have options. They can stay with the iTunes version that works to sync their music on their Pre, they can transfer the music via USB, and there are other third-party applications we could consider.
The only problem with staying with the iTunes version that works with your Pre, is if Apple does something like they did with the iPhone OS 3.0 update: you couldn't get it without having the current version of iTunes.

I could foresee something like what currently happens with products that crack DRM from DVDs (like AnyDVD). In that case, a DVD will be released that AnyDVD can't copy, and they will quickly come up with a fix. In the Pre case, Apple could release a version of iTunes that boots the Pre, and Palm could release some firmwaree update that fixes it.

It wouldn't be that simple to keep the Pre from syncing, one might think, as the Pre IDs itself as an iPod, but we'll see. The war of (not just) words has begun.
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Sorry Guys, No Early Delivery for iPhone 3G S Web Orders

Kind of exciting yesterday when I saw my iPhone 3G S was in Anchorage, AK. Kind of disappointing on Wednesday when I checked UPS to see (all caps) "THE RECEIVER REQUESTED A HOLD FOR A FUTURE DELIVERY DATE. UPS WILL ATTEMPT DELIVERY ON DATE REQUESTED."

Surprisingly, I (the receiver) did not request a hold. We know who did, don't we? Apple didn't want anyone getting an early delivery of the iPhone 3G S, so they've had the shipments held.

Of course, I have no idea why UPS seems it needs to repeat that to me, as my tracking info shows they've said it 3 times.

Not a surprise, really; I was expecting this (but hoping for a lucky early shipment). Ah, well.

Update: For some reason, UPS now tells me my order is going to be delivered tomorrow, and has removed that onerous delay notification. Has anyone else noticed this?
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Bing Continues to Grab Market Share: comScore

A follow-up report from comScore shows Microsoft's Bing continuing to garner search market share, as a prior report also indicated.
Microsoft Sites Search Performance
Work Week: 5/25/09 – 6/12/09
Total U.S. – Home/Work/University Locations
Source: comScore qSearch

Work Week
Searcher Penetration (Avg. Daily) 13.7% 15.8% 16.7%
Share of Search Result Pages 9.1% 11.3% 12.1%

According to comScore:
Microsoft Sites saw its average daily searcher penetration and share of search result pages in the U.S. continue to climb during the second week of Bing’s introduction. Microsoft Sites’ average daily penetration among U.S. searchers reached 16.7 percent during the work week of June 8-12, up 3 percentage points from the May 25-29 work week prior to Bing’s introduction. Microsoft’s share of search result pages in the U.S., a proxy for overall search intensity, increased to 12.1 percent during the period of June 8-12, also climbing 3 percentage points from the pre-introduction work week of May 25-29.
comScore senior vice president Mike Hurt added that the data "reflect a continued positive market reaction to Bing in the initial stages of its launch." The question is: will it hang onto these gains?
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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

iPhone OS 3.0 to Release Today ... Sometime (Updated)

The next release of the iPhone OS, version 3.0, is set to release today, according to Apple. Unfortunately, for those looking for a clue as to the time when you can go into iTunes with your iPhone and get it, the answer is: not yet.

Typically, (and perhaps fortunately), the exact time of the iPhone OS 3.0 release has not been given by Apple. I say fortunately as it might actually reduce the hit on their servers, at least until the news hits Twitter. Reports are that you can go into the App Store and purchase the upgrade for an iPod touch (touches don't get a free upgrade), but can't get it yet.

Despite Apple's normal secrecy, leaks from carriers and others lead people to believe the iPhone OS 3.0 release time will be ... drum roll ... 1 PM EDT, which would be 10 AM PDT for us on the West Coast. We'll see. I'll continue to refresh iTunes to see if it comes in earlier.

Why the big excitement over the new OS? iPhone OS 3.0 has a host of new features, included the long-awaited Cut, Copy and Paste; MMS; Landscape Mode in emails, etc.; MobileMe Find My iPhone and Remote Wipe and a lot more. You can find the full list here.

The excitement over the iPhone OS 3.0 is only surpassed by the excitement over the iPhone 3G S, which is due to release on Friday.

Update: the release has gone out, and other than a blip as I did not have iTunes 8.2 on my laptop, things went fine. However, I had to reboot the phone twice as Internet connectivity wasn't working very well. Now all seems well.
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Mozilla Plans to "Upgrade the Web" with Firefox 3.5 by the End of June

Opera announced on Tuesday that it was "reinventing the web" with Opera Unite. But wait, Mozilla announced on Tuesday that it would release Firefox 3.5 by the end of June, and by doing so "upgrade the web."

We just got a reinvented web and you're upgrading it, too?

Seriously, though, Firefox 3.5 was originally supposed to be released at the end of last year as 3.1, but feature creep appeared to be a factor. It was also important, however, to get the TraceMonkey Javascript engine improvements into Firefox, to better compete with Chrome and Safari.

Firefox director Mike Beltzner told C|Net on Tuesday that there would be a RC build due on Friday, and a release by the end of June, noting:
"We've added technology we think upgrades the Web itself."
There's a pretty large list of features here.

Personally, my guess would there will be a second RC, and the release will slip into July. I could be wrong, but at the very least I hope they've fixed some of the crashing issues that users have been complaining about on forums (and I've seen as well).

Of course, there's always the chance an extension (or multiple extensions) are the cause of all those issues.
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