Posts tagged "iTunes"

5 Tech Products That Will Be Dead in 5 Years

With the speed of innovation in the tech industry, we can’t know every piece of technology that will fill our everyday lives in five years, but we can predict what won’t last. As smartphones begin to render low-end cameras obsolete and Netflix continues to upend the DVD and Blu-ray market, it’s clear the technology landscape will look dramatically different in the near future.

Here are five tech products we predict will go the way of the dodo in the next half-decade.

Blu-ray/DVD players

Netflix, Netflix, Netflix. Amazingly, the entire demise of Blu-rays and DVDs (and Blockbuster) are due to one company. There were other players in the cultural shift to streaming movies, but Netflix is the iTunes of movies on demand. Funny enough, iTunes offers movie rentals as well.

Blu-ray players were the cream of the crop when it came to watching movies for a few years, but 2013 is expected to be the last year of growth for the market. As the ease of use, accessibility and quality of Netflix  continues to increase as it rolls out 4K streaming over the next few years (not to mention other competitors that may generate interest from users), look for Blu-ray players to quickly become a nice collectible right next to your VCR.

Stand-alone in-car GPS units

In a little over six years, over 1.3 billion iPhone and Android smartphones have been sold around the world, and all of those devices have access to mapping software. Combine that with the propagation of in-car GPS systems, and it spells a swift demise for the stand-alone GPS units for vehicle dashboards, which saw widespread success in the early and mid-2000s. Since smartphones started offering GPS capabilities in 2008, sales of stand-alone GPS units for vehicles have seen a 15-20 percent decline per year.

Costing between $75 and $350, standalone GPS units built for vehicles from companies like Garmin and TomTom are already losing their viability (although these companies are still finding success with GPS units for boating and other outdoor activities), and will likely be completely removed from the market in five years. As battery technology allows for more usage time in smartphones and more people move into newer cars with built-in GPS systems, opting for a standalone GPS unit will cease be an option in the near future.

Dial-up Internet

Yes, dial-up Internet is still around, and people still use it. In fact, 3 percent of Americans still use dial-up Internet. That’s 9 million people, equal to the population of New Jersey. Only 65 percent of Americans currently have broadband connections. Thanks to the necessity of the Internet and new alternatives for connecting to the Internet at faster speeds, this won’t be the case for long.

Internet companies are expanding at a rapid pace, as people in underserved areas demand access to broadband speeds. Expansions will continue over the next five years, thanks in part to the FCC’s Connect America Fund, which aims to bring broadband to 7 million Americans who cannot currently receive it. Combined with expansions from cable companies and new viable alternatives like satellite Internet (which now reaches speeds of 15Mbps), dial-up Internet will finally be extinct in five years.

Low-end digital cameras

We have Apple to thank for this one. The 2010 release of the iPhone 4 and its game-changing camera forced the mobile industry to step up camera quality to the point that it has rendered sub-$200 point-and-shoot cameras all but obsolete. There are still a few straggling consumers out there who prefer the optical zoom or battery life of a low-end digital camera over the one in their smartphone, but at the rate of progression of mobile camera technology, those user complaints will soon be addressed.

In five years, camera companies like Nikon, Canon and Sony will have done away with their low-end camera lines and shifted their focus to the mid- and high-end market, as the low-end market will have been completely subsumed by smartphones.

Car keys

One of the quickest and least discussed changes to happen over the last few years is the reduction of physical car keys and the introduction of smart keys in a number of new vehicles by manufacturers. Surprisingly, the move away from physical car keys happened without much of a fuss from consumers. With benefits like keyless entry, push to start, driver profiles and remote start, buyers of newer vehicles have enjoyed the benefits of the new smart system (though many still end up to getting locked out of their cars if they leave the car while the engine is warming up).

But as quickly as smart keys have come on the scene, smartphones may soon replace them. With apps like OnStar RemoteLink offered by Chevrolet, which allows you to unlock and start a your car with an app, the future of car keys may lie in an app store. Whether we stick with smart keys or move on to something more innovative in five years, you can be sure that the physical car key we have used for the last 70 or so years will be a thing of the past for new cars.

 

 

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Posted by plates55 - January 6, 2014 at 3:30 pm

Categories: Gadget   Tags: , , , , , , ,

14 Unique and Clever Gifts Under $30

 

  • While there will probably be a few big-ticket items on your shopping list this year, there are still stockings to be stuffed, cousins to be appeased, and gifts to be exchanged at office gift parties. Here are a handful of sub-$30 gifts that’ll stand out a little more than an iTunes card.

    Above:

    Tillandsia, or “Air Plants

    These aren’t your typical houseplants. Tillandsia live inside glass balls with their roots exposed, not buried in dirt. They are also fairly hearty, even for people who seem to make houseplants wither at their touch. Give them plenty of light and a misting of water every few days and they’ll be happy. As they grow older, some species — of which there are over 500 — turn into beautiful colors. If you’re comfortable shipping a living thing, you can get five for $15 from Amazon. Etsy is a great source for specialty containers.

    Photo: Ariel Zambelich/WIRED

  • Giottos AA1900 Rocket Air Blaster

    It looks, like, well, a bomb, but underneath its facade is a useful tool. Pro photographers use the Rocket Air Blaster ($8) to clean their sensors and lenses. But it’s also great to blow a concentrated stream of air at anything that needs it. Your keyboard, your phone’s charging port, your cat. Even at your face, just for funsies.

    Image: Giotto’s Industrial Inc.

  • Fisher Bullet Space Pen

    Even if you know nothing about the person whose name you pulled out of a Secret Santa hat, you can surmise they’ll be using a pen at some point. So Fisher’s $20 Bullet Space Pen works well as a gift for anybody. I love mine — it lives in my pocket anytime I’m out — and I would still love to get another as a gift. It’s about half the size of a regular pen with the cap on, but pull the cap off and stick it onto the back, and the pen becomes a full-sized, well-weighted writing utensil. The design was ingenious enough to earn a place in the Museum of Modern Art’s permanent collection. The pressurized cartridge lets you write upside down while laying in bed, and it works in zero gravity — hence the “Space” in the name. They’re still great tools on Earth, too.

    Photo: Ariel Zambelich/WIRED

  • Aerobie AeroPress Coffee Maker

    Even if everyone you know professes to like Keurig K-cups, that doesn’t mean they’re ready to shun the wonders of good coffee. The AeroPress ($28) is one of the most flexible single-cup coffee makers. It even has a thriving subculture built around hacking it to get the best possible cup.

    Image: Aerobie

  • Electric Paper Airplane Conversion Kit

    A paper airplane doesn’t make a good gift (although it can make a good GIF.) But a battery-powered paper airplane is the kind of toy any child, or child-at-heart, can love. Although this $20 kit includes an adapter for three AAA batteries attached to a propeller, it still clocks in at less than an ounce. So yeah, heavier than paper, but still light enough to fly. Don’t forget AAA batteries for gifting-day fun.

    Image: PowerUp

  • Mario Cake Toppers

    Who doesn’t like Mario? If you can’t stretch your budget to gift a Wii U and Super Mario Bros 3D, these 3-inch tall cake toppers ($15) are pretty much the next best thing. You get six figurines, including Mario and Luigi, for under a Jackson. Sure, there’s no motion control or 3D-effects. But with imagination and an afternoon, you can make your own world that’ll put the Mushroom Kingdom to shame.

    Image: Nintendo

  • Zibra Open It Multitool

    After the wrapping comes off, there’s often another layer of blister-packed, difficult-to-open packaging before you get to the gift itself. That’s why Zibra’s multitool ($10) makes a perfect gift aperitif. While the multitool is primarily a combination of wirecutters and a pair of scissors, it also includes also a utility blade for stripping away annoying shrink wrap, and a small screwdriver, in case some assembly is required.

    Image: Zibra

  • “Buckyballs”

    The demise of rare-earth magnet toys was greatly exaggerated. Although Buckyball itself can no longer market its magnets under the name “Buckyballs” (because some children found them delicious) there are competing brands and generics still legally available on the market for around $20. As in years past, they are addictive to play with and make a perfect geeky gift — even more so now they carry a whiff of contraband. Just please don’t put them in your mouth.

    Image: Buckyballs

  • Chemex Borosilicate Glass Mug

    While the Chemex Brewer remains out of the price range of most office gift exchanges, their new borosilicate glass mug makes a perfect design-y present. The Chemex glass mug ($16), although it is made of thin glass, can certainly take your coffee’s temperature. Plus, it looks like a cross between laboratory equipment and a nuclear cooling tower. And, hey, everyone needs a good mug.

    Image: Chemex Coffeemakers

  • Lego-Compatible Mug and Lego

    If a delicate glass mug isn’t geeky enough for your friends and family, here’s a mug with extra functionality beyond, y’know, looking nice and holding hot liquid. This $23 mug — which totally isn’t made by Lego — is not only perfect for your morning cup of coffee, but it can also attach to toy bricks. No toy bricks included, so you should totally throw in a few Minifigs.

    Image: Build On

  • 30 Yards of Gaffer’s Tape

    The problem with this gift is that the giftee might mistake it for a humdrum, cheap roll of duct tape. It is not. Gaffer’s tape is what duct tape wants to be when it grows up. It tears cleanly and bonds strongly, and it leaves no residue behind. It’s used in film and TV productions because it works. Everyone should be so lucky as to have a roll of gaffer’s tape. Gift a white roll and a couple permanent markers and it becomes a great way to label stuff. $20 earns you 30 yards.

    Photo: Ariel Zambelich/WIRED

  • Stem Metal and CitriTwist

    Here’s a gift that your giftee won’t see coming — probably because they didn’t know it existed. But they’ll love the concept behind Quirky’s Stem Metal and CitriTwist ($30), which is a fun set of juicer gadgets. First is a pump that you jam into any piece of citrus fruit, turning it into a spritzer. The rind of the fruit becomes the bottle. It’s perfect for brightening up salads and fish. It comes bundled with a Quirky citrus reamer, which is a single-use utensil but is super-handy for making cocktails. You probably won’t be giving anyone lemons, because that’s crazy. But maybe you can gift them the tools to make lemonade.

    Image: Quirky

  • A Chunk of Bitcoin

    No matter your opinion on Satoshi Nakamoto’s crypto-currency, a chunk of one makes a better gift than unofficially naming a star. Currently, $30 nets you about three percent of a Bitcoin. Since Bitcoin is an online only currency — you can’t plunk a 2000 Satoshi bill into a red envelope — and your giftee probably doesn’t already have a wallet, use a Bitcoin voucher service for the physical gift. They look like a gift card and after scratching the back, the lucky recipient can load those Bitcoins onto a popular wallet like Blockchain.info.

    Image: Casascius/CC

  • A Nice Bottle of Booze

    Sometimes it’s best not to overthink the problem, especially when the problem is what White Elephant gift to get your coworkers. A bottle of good liquor looks great with a bow around it, and shows a little bit of personality with the selection. And I promise you there’s someone at the gift exchange who wants to bring it home.

    Recommendations:

    • Bulleit Rye
    • Eagle Rare 10-Year Bourbon
    • Mount Gay Rum
    • Tito’s Vodka
    • Not under $30: Scotch or Gin
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Posted by plates55 - December 4, 2013 at 3:14 pm

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How to Tweak iOS to Improve the Battery Life of Your iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch

These are some tips on how to improve the battery life of your iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch running iOS.  Some of these tips apply to just iOS 7 but many can be applied to older versions of iOS as well.

Let us know how much your battery life improves in the comments!

Disable Background Application Refresh
iOS 7 brings the ability for apps to refresh their content when on Wi-Fi or cellular and even use location services. To preserve battery life, we recommend disabling Background App Refresh completely.  Note that doing this will kill location services for your applications, so you won’t be able to use Navigation in the background – therefore you may want to fine-tune this setting based on your preferences. In addition, you may want to close applications you aren’t using via the Multitasking Switcher (Double press the Home button and swipe an app preview up and out of the list).
● Settings > General > Background App Refresh

Turn Off AirDrop when you’re not using it
You should turn off AirDrop when you do not need it. This prevents you from using Bluetooth and Wi-Fi when not in use when the device is in “discoverable” mode. Simply swipe up on control center to turn it off.
● Control Center

Turn Off Automatic Downloads and Updates
iOS 7 brings the ability to automatically update apps, however that works in the background and can take a toll on your battery life.  Tap the settings icon, scroll down to iTunes & App Store and turn off all automatic downloads. If you still want automatic app updates, try enabling them while turning off cellular data.
● Settings > iTunes & App Store

Brightness
Brightness is the most obvious battery-draining cause on the iPhone. Obviously, try to limit and reduce your brightness at all times. Going a step further, you can disable automatic brightness to improve battery life since the phone will no longer check the ambient light and determine the “best” brightness.
● Settings > Wallpapers & Brightness

Control your Push Notifications
Apple’s iOS is designed to in a way preserve battery life when using push notification. That is, the number of push notifications you receive have a minimal effect on battery life.  However, when receiving notifications that cause your screen to light up and phone to vibrate, your battery life will be affected. We recommending setting some notifications to not show any alerts. You can set alerts to ‘None’ on a per app basis.
● Settings > Notification Center

Disable Email Push
Push emails immediately send an email or ‘push’ from a server to your phone, rather than requiring you to manually refresh the mail app. You can set the mail application to fetch instead of push, or even better, set to manual for best battery life. You can fine tune this setting for each email account, but for best battery life performance, set all accounts to “Fetch Manually.”
● Settings > Mail, Contacts, Calendars > Fetch New Data > Push

Frequent Locations
iOS 7 brings a new “Frequent Locations” feature. While this new addition can be great for your “Today” tab in Notification Center by giving you an estimated time of arrival to your most visited locations , it can affect battery life. To turn this off, visit
● Settings > Privacy > Location Services > System Services, then toggle the Frequent Locations to the off position.

Location Services
iOS has many system location services that check your location to improve compass calibration, cell network search, and more. We recommend turning off most of these system services to improve battery. However, if you use the compass often, or travel often, some settings should be left on such as “Compass Calibration” or “Setting Time Zone.”  We leave “Cell Network Search” on as well.

Apps must request approval from you as well. If you really need location services for an app, obviously leave them on.  However, you might not want some applications to fetch your locations, so feel free to toggle them off here as well. For instance, if you don’t care for Twitter tweeting your location, turn it off!

Disable Wi-Fi & Bluetooth when not in range, Turn on Wi-Fi when in range
Be sure to always turn off Wi-Fi when you’re out of range of a known network. This prevents the iOS device from constantly checking for known networks in range. Whenever you can use Wi-Fi, use it! Wi-Fi is much more efficient than cellular data so you can save battery this way. Be sure to set Ask to Join Networks off to stay connected to that network. Similarly, be sure to turn off Bluetooth at all times that you can.
● Settings > Wi-Fi
● Settings > Bluetooth

Disable Cellular Data
If you don’t care for using cellular data for some apps and services, turn them off.  iOS has many different toggles for cellular data use and some are hidden, so be sure to check all of them listed below!

● Settings > Cellular
● Settings > Safari > Reading List
● Settings > iTunes & App Store

Reduce Motion
iOS 7 brings a nice parallax effect on icons and alerts, but this constantly tracks your motion to provide the effect. Reduce motion to prevent this and improve battery life.
● Settings > General > Accessibility > Reduce Motion

Don’t use Dynamic Moving Wallpapers
iOS 7 comes with dynamic wallpapers that move around based on the movement of your device. These moving backgrounds consume much more battery power than regular wallpapers so we recommend that you stay away from them and use Still wallpapers.
● Settings > Wallpapers & Brightness > Choose Wallpaper

Disable Siri Raise to Speak
Disable Siri’s raise to speak function to prevent the iPhone from constantly checking the proximity sensor to see if the device has been raised to your ear.
● Settings > General > Siri

Turn Off Spotlight Search to prevent file indexing
Spotlight indexes your entire device’s filesystem to provide instant search results of your most used contacts, apps and more. Indexing can cause a strain on the battery life, so try to turn OFF any items on the list that you don’t use to prevent the OS from indexing that type of data.
● Settings > General > Spotlight Search

Vibrations
Having your phone constantly vibrate can affect battery life as well, but having a vibrate feature is extremely useful. Try to disable vibrate for some contacts/notifications/text messages.
● Settings > Sounds

Cellular Data
If you’re in a 4G Area only, we recommend turning off LTE connectivity.  Leaving LTE on actually drains the battery by constantly checking for an LTE signal (and if your carrier does not have LTE in your area, this is a waste). Similarly, if you’re in a 2G area only, disable 4G/LTE connectivity as well.

However, if you are in an LTE area, we recommend leaving LTE on since Apple actually cites better browsing (in hours) on LTE versus 4G connectivity.

● Settings > Cellular > Enable LTE

Auto-Lock
Set Auto-Lock to 1 Minute to reduce the amount of time it takes for the iPhone’s display to shut off. Better yet, always lock the device immediately after use to prevent the ~1 minute your display would be on.
● Settings > General > Auto-Lock

Use Airplane Mode when in an area without cellular service
If you’re in a known dead zone that has no cellular service, turn on Airplane mode until your reach an area with cellular service. This prevents the phone from constantly checking for a signal, and can be a main cause of battery drain.

Turn off iTunes Wi-Fi Sync in iTunes
If you don’t use Wi-Fi Sync, and often leave your iTunes open on the same network as your iPhone, turn off Wi-Fi sync.

Turn off Home Sharing
Streaming a movie or song from a computer to your iOS device can cause a huge battery drain. We recommend not using home sharing at all unless it is a feature you really like.
● Settings > Music
● Settings > Video

Set up as new iPhone
If you previously had a jailbreak, and no longer have one, try setting up an iPhone as new instead of restoring form backup. This way you don’t restore unnecessary files.

Equalizer
Some users claim that turning off iPod equalizer will improve battery life, but in our tests (and others across the web) this does not seem to be the case. But if you really want to, turn off equalizer.
● Settings > Music > EQ

Limit Ad Tracking
There are some reports that limiting ad tracking might improve your battery life.  You may want to experiment with this setting to determine if it makes a difference on your device.
● Settings > Privacy > Advertising > Limit Ad Tracking

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Posted by plates55 - November 13, 2013 at 2:33 pm

Categories: Apple   Tags: , , , , , , ,

This Week’s Apple Rumors, Ranked From Dumbest to Most Plausible

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Apple’s little September get-together is over. As expected, the iPhone- and iOS-centric event produced a line of colorful iPhones, a new flagship…and, well, that’s about it. So what about all the stuff that wasn’t announced? We’ve parsed the patents and rumors that didn’t materialize this week, and ranked them in order from “utterly ridiculous” to “Duh, of course.” First up…

DON’T COUNT ON IT: Text-to-Speech Capabilities Coming to Notes App A European patent filing from Apple shows that the Notes app could be getting a text-to-speech function that supports multiple languages. According to the filing, Apple will add a “speak” button to the app’s option menu. This function seems useful, but somewhat out of place for the Notes app.

ASK AGAIN LATER: A New Apple TV Box for October? Apple is reportedly working on a new Apple TV set top box, and it could arrive as soon as October. After a series of rumors and reports over the last few weeks, it seemed likely that some big Apple TV updates are in the works. None of them happened Tuesday, but it’s possible an updated Apple TV set top box could make an appearance at Apple’s next event, which may be in October.

ASK AGAIN LATER: The iPad Could Get an Anti-Reflective Display A recently published patent filing shows that Apple could be developing a new anti-reflective display for the iPad.  Apple would add another process to its display manufacturing, an anti-reflection layer, and a layer of UV absorption film. This could be something Apple is getting ready to implement, or it could just be a process the company is exploring and what to put some IP behind.

SIGNS POINT TO YES: Redesigned iPad and Retina iPad Mini at Apple’s October Event A number of us were surprised that iPhones and iOS were the only focus of Tuesday’s media event. But not to fret. All those rumors of a slightly redesigned iPad and Retina iPad mini still carry some weight. Apple is expected to hold another media event in October, and at it, we’ll likely see new iPad models, as well as the release of OS X Mavericks and new MacBook Pros. These are products that will definitely be released before the holiday season. The only thing up in the air is when (and if) Apple will hold an event to debut these guys.

SIGNS POINT TO YES: Apple TV Refresh Coming September 18 A number of us were surprised Apple made no mention of the Apple TV in Tuesday’s keynote. But apparently that update is scheduled for September 18 according to AllThingsD. This is the same day Apple is opening up iOS 7 to the masses, so this could mean that Apple TV is getting updated with something iOS 7-specific like iTunes Radio, as well as an AirPlay update.

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Posted by plates55 - September 14, 2013 at 3:57 pm

Categories: Apple   Tags: , , , , , , ,

SOPA V. Soapy: In 2012 Government and Big Business Will Understand How Powerless They Are In The Face Of Human Ingenuity

SOPA.  The Stop Online Piracy Act.

If you have a web browser open for most of the day, or you just happened to have badly misspelled soap in a Google search, you’ve come across SOPA.

 

In short, it’s bad. Cauliflower bad or (if you’re a some kind of deviant who actually likes the flavor of cream of evil vegetables) Tea Party bad.

The entertainment industry and, I suspect, some folks along the Republican side of the aisle, want the ability to block any website from view that could have possibly, maybe once, but we’re not really sure, hosted copyrighted content illegally. In principle, I get it. The entertainment companies would very much like to stop dumping millions of dollars into projects that have to actually be good in order to recoup their cost. The current state of affairs seems to be; “I create a crappy but mildly entertaining product, people get wind of the fact that it’s probably not going to be very good and therefore not worthy of their hard-earned money and they either download it illegally, or wait for it to arrive on DVD, OnDemand, or Netflix.

The simple solution, of course would be for content producers to stop churning out endless acres of crap. But that’s never going to happen. So we get SOPA; a nuclear option to stop the money from bleeding out.

But is the money bleeding out in enough quantities to warrant a nuclear option?

I really don’t think so.

The vast majority of consumers fall into what I call the baseline user class. They own at least one full computer (desktop/laptop) likely a smartphone and maybe (a very slim percentage so far but growing) a tablet of some sort.Maybe they do a bit of gaming but mostly they surf the internet, watch cat videos on YouTube, get a bit of work done and post embarrassing pictures of themselves and others on Facebook. That is the vast, vast majority of users. I’ve tried to explain to those of my friends that fall into this category how to use tools like Bittorrent to acquire free (or stolen, depending on the laws of the jurisdiction you happen to live in) content, but it mostly falls on incapable ears. Gone are the halcyon days of piracy through simple channels like Napster and Kazaa. Pirating in the modern era is much more efficient but also requires a bit more specialized knowledge and effort, two things that the baselines lack when it comes to entertainment.

When the average user thinks about digital content, it usually comes in convenient but paid for and licensed forms like iTunes, Pandora, Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon. The vast, vast majority of consumers pay for every single piece of digital content they consume. Sure, the way they’ve chosen to consume it means scaled down profits for content producer but, as Republicans and Tea Baggers love to remind everyone, the market determines value, not whatever you think something should be worth.

So why SOPA?

Power, control, censorship and a deep misunderstanding of the technological proficiency of the people who actually understand how the internet in general and piracy in particular work.

Congress believes, by virtue of the authority granted to them by those who’ve elected them, that they have power. The entertainment industry believes, by virtue of its billions of dollars in revenue, that they have power. The supporters of SOPA who aren’t tied to either of those spheres believe, by virtue of their influence over daily life on the internet (see GoDaddy) that they have power.

And they are all correct. But it is not true power, because it is utterly dependent on a combination of our tolerance and apathy, two traits which are mercifully shrinking within the populace at large.

Congress, for example, is filled with people who care not a bit for the desires of those who voted them into power. They care, almost exclusively, about pushing the agenda of their political party. They care about winning. But they can only do so if they are allowed to continue holding office, so they have to walk a tightrope between their own desires and not doing anything that the lowest common denominator of their electorate will find undesirable. Their power is derived from us and they can only exercise control over us to the extent that we allow it. At least in four year blocks.

Large service and content providers like those within the entertainment industry are subject to the same limitations. Yes, their money equates directly to power and influence. But they can only continue to exercise those advantages if we continue to give them money. Which is why the passage of SOPA is so important to them. They are trying to force us to pay for their schlock whether we care to or not and, really, it’s hard not to foresee a scenario where one of the major content providers decides that something hosted on Netflix somehow violates a copyright agreement and uses the broad powers of SOPA to blockade the legitimate services we choose to use in lieu of more expensive options. They want to dictate terms to the market. The reason that they’re being so brazen in their measures this time is, ironically, that the very same limitation that should make them think twice about so joyously biting the hands that feed them (our ability to effect a boycott of their services and thus drain them of all of their resources) is exactly the thing that we won’t exercise. Time and again (with the exception of the recent GoDaddy mass exodus) we’ve shown that when principle clashes with convenience, convenience wins. It is a frustrating flaw of the human condition.

However….

What both governments and corporations fail to understand is that individual mastery of technology within our culture has become such that, within the relatively small percentage of the population that doesn’t fall into the baseline category of users, there exist large pockets of individuals who have the power, from a keyboard, to thwart the concerted efforts of Big Business and Big Government with relative ease, especially when it comes to the field of internet censorship.

Case in point:

This morning I read this article that talks about a browser extension for Firefox called Soapy. Soapy is a tiny little script that can be downloaded and installed by anybody, into Firefox on any computer, by means of simply dragging the script file to your browser window. And its sole purpose is to change the way your browser looks up websites that have been blocked by SOPA and instantly navigate around ISP enabled blocks to allow you access to your content.

Before SOPA has even been passed, someone has found a way to render it moot. And this is just the first blow; this is just one guy, typing away from the comfort of his home office. Others will follow. It will become easier and easier for the baseline user to access tools that free them from the oppression of corporate and government interests, and that is a very good thing.

But why is it so easy?

Because the people who seek to control and censor online content don’t understand that  the internet isn’t a thing that they can contain within the laws of the land. It isn’t something that you can control. The internet is more than cables and connections and websites. It is, like Soylent Green, people.

And people, whether en masse or as individuals, will always find a way to remain free.

Even from the clutches of Sony Entertainment and the Tea Party.

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Posted by plates55 - January 13, 2012 at 10:15 am

Categories: Censorship   Tags: , , , , , , ,

Apple promotes The Beatles with ad, free iBook; Samsung again mocks iPhone users

Celebrating the one-year anniversary of the arrival of The Beatles’ catalog to iTunes, Apple is promoting the band’s music with a new TV ad, while also showcasing a new free “Yellow Submarine” interactive e-book on the iBookstore. Meanwhile, Samsung has released another TV spot mocking iPhone users, this time over music and movie storage.

Covers

Apple’s new TV ad, entitled “Covers,” animates the album covers from The Beatles’ prolific career to the song “Magical Mystery Tour,” as pointed out by MacRumors.

“Let iTunes take you on a journey through The Beatles, from Please, Please Me, all the way to Abbey Road,” the commercial’s description reads on Apple’s YouTube page.

In addition to the spot, an iBooks exclusive interactive e-book featuring the band’s music has arrived on Apple’s digital bookstore. According to a press release, “Yellow Submarine” features a “kaleidoscopic, music-filled journey” with animated illustrations from a 2004 book, full-color video clips from the 1968 film and audio from the band and the film’s score. The book also offers “read aloud” functionality narrated by actor Dean Lennox Kelly.

After years of negotiations between Apple and the band’s parent company Apple Corp, The Beatles’ music arrived on the iTunes store last November. The two companies had previously disagreed over the “Apple” trademark before resolving the dispute in 2007.

In the first week of iTunes availability alone, customers bought 450,000 albums and 2 million songs of the group’s music. In January, Beatles sales on iTunes had reached 5 million songs and 1 million albums. Apple Corps reported on Friday that worldwide sales of the catalog on iTunes have now reached 10 million songs and 1.8 million albums.

Reports have suggested that Apple’s unique deal with Apple Corps may be more lucrative than standard contracts with other artists. Apple is said to have bested rivals Google and Amazon to gain exclusive digital rights to the band’s catalog last year.

The next big thing

South Korean electronics maker Samsung has released a second television ad poking fun at Apple and its customer base and promoting its Samsung Galaxy S II smartphone. The new spot appears to be part of a series, as it looks to have been filmed on the same Universal Studios back-lot and uses some of the same actors as the original.

The commercial opens on a line in Boston, MA with a Samsung user stopping to greet his iPhone-toting friends. “Woah, you guys are still here?” he said.

His friends responded by saying, “36 hours is a small price to pay” to keep all their music and movies.

“Well, I have all my playlists right here, my music streams from the cloud and I have tons of places to buy my movies,” the Samsung user said. “What are you guys giving up?”

They answered: sleep, vacation days, and “the feeling in my legs,” as the text, “The next big thing is already here,” appeared on screen.

Samsung’s first “Next Big Thing” ad caricatured Apple fans waiting in line, assumedly for the iPhone 4S. Samsung’s view of the typical iPhone user was stereotyped during the spot. For instance, one customer said he was disappointed that he couldn’t show off the new iPhone because it had the same form factor, while another, a barista, vowed never to use Samsung because he was “creative.”

 

Though Samsung’s advertising tactics have thus far maintained a relatively friendly tone, Apple and its rival do mean serious business in the legal arena. The two have become adversaries in an international intellectual property battle over smartphones and tablets. Most recently, Apple complained to a U.S. judge that Samsung was stalling in order to delay a trial.

A U.S. district judge recently denied Apple’s request for an injunction of four of Samsung’s mobile devices, but Apple filed an appeal this week.

Samsung won back a small victory against Apple this month when an Australian court reversed an injunction against its Galaxy Tab 10.1 tablet. The device is expected to go on sale in the country early next week.

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Posted by plates55 - December 10, 2011 at 11:56 am

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