January 10, 2008
Wired Details the iPhone Backstory
There's a great story in Wired on the development and impact of the iPhone on the wireless industry. The Untold Story: How the iPhone Blew Up the Wireless Industry is a good read and worth checking out. What's missing, however, is the soundtrack of Kermit the Frog singing "It's not easy building a iPhone."
Spam Comes to Network Printing, Maybe
Spam is one thing, and fax spam is another. Now, it seems, that spammers printing directly to network printers is possible. Read the story in Computerworld for more details.
January 9, 2008
FCC Will Investigate Complaints Against Comcast Network Management Practices
Ars Technica is reporting that the FCC will investigate the reasonableness of Comcast's network management practices. Comcast has claimed that it slows down file-sharing traffic, but does not stop it. The Associated Press and other consumer friendly groups have developed evidence to the contrary. FCC Chairman Kevin Martin is quoted in the article as saying "The question is going to arise: Are they reasonable network practices? When they have reasonable network practices, they should disclose those and make those public." Comcast says it is looking forward to the investigation. I'm sure they are.
One point raised near the end of the article is that network providers need to manage their networks to prevent the flood of file-sharing and digital video from overwhelming the networks. If that is the case, then why not invest in a network that can handle this kind of traffic and charge consumers who want to use it for those purposes? One can't assume that all file-sharing and video traffic are copyright violations? What about NetFlix delivering high quality video via the web under a legal subscription? What about all those torrent sites that television and movie studios support for legal viewing of archived material? And what about all those legal music downloads from Apple, Amazon, Napster, and others? Wouldn't the media companies like to see those sales grow? Just asking the obvious.
Apple Promises Uniform Pricing in EU, Ending Antitrust Investigation
The European Union is dropping its antitrust investigation against Apple as Apple has announced similar pricing for music tracks in all EU countries. U.K. customers paid approximately 10% more for tracks than did continental subscribers. Left in place are restrictions on what music can be sold in what countries. One interesting note that comes out of this investigation is that Apple's country by country arrangements for pricing had nothing to do with record company agreements. A little margin-padding, perhaps?
Details from Reuters via CNET.
January 8, 2008
Is the Hi Def DVD Format War Over?
It looks as if Blu-Ray may win the format war. Warner Brothers decided to issue movies only in that format after working with both. Now reports are saying that Paramount had a clause in its contract with the HD-Disc people that it could switch sides if Warner went the other way. That is likely to happen. Other reports suggest that even if Blu-Ray is the new Hi Def standard, it still has to compete with standard DVDs and cheap upconverting players that seem to do fine for most consumers. Then there is the question as to whether any of this will matter if a cheap subscription model for movies on demand will be the real market.
The download stores have suffered from high costs and extreme DRM reflecting studio paranoia over piracy. Wal-Mart used the excuse that HP was no longer supporting the software that was the backbone of its video download store, though high prices and restrictions on portability played a major role in the closure. Who could have seen that coming. The format war may seem to be over, but Toshiba, Microsoft, et al. may still have a few tricks up their sleeves. Then, again, consumers have lived without this stuff for the two or more years this is going on. They may just decide that there is no reason to pay a higher price for perceived little benefit. Let the marketing begin.
January 7, 2008
MS Issues Patches to Undo File Blocks in Office 2003
Microsoft has created four patches to Office 2003 that re-enables a user to open certain file formats it blocked via Service Pack 3. In an article on CNET Microsoft representatives suggest that they were wrong to assume that their heavy-handed approach to security would only affect a few users. Whoops, our bad. The patches, one for each file group, are available in the revised Knowledge Base article 938810. Don't hack your registry and possibly cripple your machine. Let Microsoft do it for you.
Wikia Alpha Search Engine Goes Public Today
The address is http://alpha.search.wikia.com/. Try it. Initial impression: Various searches show that commercial hits do not get high placement in the result list. Here's a story about it in the New York Times. Interesting that in quotes founder Jimmy Wales sees Google as the gold standard he'd like the ultimate product to meet. I look forward for what this becomes more than what it is now.