Technorati Update

I clicked on a link this morning that took me to “Technorati(Technorati)”:http://www.technorati.com/. I was really impressed with some of the features on the page and wondered why I hadn’t noticed them before. It turns out there was “an excellent reason(Technorati turns 3, rolls out a major update)”:http://www.sifry.com/alerts/archives/000435.html for that. It looks like more stuff on the way as well.

PlaysforSure @ Your Library 2.0

I thought I would take a moment this morning to give an update on a story from last year.
bq.Do I think playsforsure is cool? No, I do not. Would I rather get the books DRM-free? Absolutely. Do I think libraries like Fairfax and mine are making a mistake getting something that won’t work on an iPod? Who knows. – “Me(PlaysforSure @ Your Library)”:http://www.libraryplanet.com/2005/05/12/playsforsure Do I know the answer to the last question above yet? I am not sure. In the end, it turned out that we dropped out of the OCLC/NetLibrary plan we were subscribed to. The usage statistics just didn’t justify the cost. But we don’t know for sure if the iPod is the issue, or is we moved ahead a little too fast. Just last week, we launched a new subscription with “OverDrive(Digital Library Reserve)”:http://www.dlrinc.com/. While having many of “the same issues(OverDrive Device Resource Center)”:http://www.overdrive.com/deviceresourcecenter/ of the previous version, it does offer the option to “burn certain titles to CD(How can I tell if a title can be burned to CD?)”:http://digitalbooks.tblc.org/065D9846-EE52-4CBA-9240-20213438E90C/10/128/en/Help-FAQ-Format25.htm#question-136. So I am hopeful it will work out better this time (especially as that is the only way I will be planning any on my Nano). Two stories from last week make me wonder, though.
bq.We tend to field a lot of inside information here at Engadget HQ, but we’ve gotten not one, but two bits from separate, trustworthy insiders that Apple’s not satisfied merely vending Audible’s books-on-digital-audio solution. With the iRex iLiad and Sony PRS-500 Portable Reader both right around the corner, is it possible the next iPod might catch the eBook bug? – “Ryan Block(Apple to do eBooks?)”:http://www.engadget.com/2006/07/22/apple-to-do-ebooks/ It doesn’t mention a change in audio programming, though, one way or the other. The next story is the more relevant.
bq.Zune – the devices, the platform, and the store/service – will compete with everyone from Apple (of course) to Creative Technologies, iRiver, Samsung, Archos, Rhapsody, Napster, Yahoo Music and anyone dumb enough to buy into Microsoft’s visions of Urge, Media Player, PlayForSure etc. – “Om Malik(Microsoft Partners, You Been Zunked)”:http://gigaom.com/2006/07/22/zune/ Apparently, not even Microsoft thinks PlaysForSure is cool. And you can OverDrive and NetLibrary to the list of the double-crossed above. My biggest hope now is that all of this DRM causes “so many problems(France and DRM)”:http://www.libraryplanet.com/2006/03/22/france that everyone realizes it is simply not the answer. But that is just “wishful thinking(Buy A Customized MP3 At Yahoo! Music)”:http://ymusicblog.com/blog/2006/07/19/buy-a-customized-jessica-simpson-mp3-at-yahoo-music/ right now.

Feeling Down

I just came out to my computer and what do I find… “Second Life( Second Life Grid Down!)”:http://secondlifelibrary.blogspot.com/2006/07/second-life-grid-down_19.html is non-functional. No problem, I think, I wanted to see something about the last photoset I put together. And then I see… “Flickr(Temporary Storage Glitch)”:http://blog.flickr.com/flickrblog/2006/07/temporary_stora.html is out of order. Is this a conspiracy or what? Well, I can blog about it at least. I wonder if the Flickr issue is related to the “stock drop(Yahoo Stock Falls to Biggest One-Day Drop)”:http://www.newsvine.com/_news/2006/07/19/293072-yahoo-stock-falls-to-biggest-one-day-drop? I doubt it, but you never know…

Net Neutrality

Which of these opinions is not like the other?
bq.The replacement of historic policies of nondiscrimination with the imposition of bottleneck taxes by broadband network owners endangers economic growth, innovation, job creation, and First Amendment freedom of expression on such networks. Broadband network owners should not be able to determine who can and who cannot offer services over broadband networks or over the Internet. The detrimental effect to the digital economy would be quite severe if such conduct were permitted and became widespread. – “Ed Markey(The Fight for Network Neutrality Continues)”:http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rep-ed-markey/the-fight-for-network-neu_b_20278.html
bq.The Internet is not a free public good. It is a bunch of wires and switches and connections and pipes and it is creaky. You all worship at Vince Cerf who has a clear financial interest in the outcome of this debate but you immediately castigate all of us who disagree and impune our motives. I get paid a reasonable but small sum to argue what I believe. How many of the net neuts out there are honest about the financial resources and special interests behind your side of the argument? Do you really believe this is good v. evil or just an honest disagreement about what will make the ‘net flourish and prosper? – “Mike McCurry(Hostile Commentary and Net Neutrality)”:http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mike-mccurry/hostile-commentary-and-ne_b_20179.html
bq.Anyone can build a new application on the Web, without asking me, or Vint Cerf, or their ISP, or their cable company, or their operating system provider, or their government, or their hardware vendor. It is of the utmost importance that, if I connect to the Internet, and you connect to the Internet, that we can then run any Internet application we want, without discrimination as to who we are or what we are doing. We pay for connection to the Net as though it were a cloud which magically delivers our packets. We may pay for a higher or a lower quality of service. We may pay for a service which has the characteristics of being good for video, or quality audio. But we each pay to connect to the Net, but no one can pay for exclusive access to me. – “Tim Berners-Lee(Neutrality of the Net)”:http://dig.csail.mit.edu/breadcrumbs/blog/4 McCurry might be somewhat more credible on the issue if he didn’t work in the telecommunications industry and he knew how “Vinton Cerf(Vinton Cerf)”:http://www.livinginternet.com/i/ii_cerf.htm prefers to abbreviate his name.

The Return of Oswald

Remember Oswald?
bq.Oswald starred in a series of 26 silent cartoons made by Walt Disney between 1927 and 1928 for Charles Mintz, who contracted with Universal for the distribution. When Walt lost the rights to Oswald, he came up with the character of Mickey Mouse. The Oswald character was later continued by Walter Lantz. – “Oswald the Lucky Rabbit(Oswald the Lucky Rabbit)”:http://disney.go.com/vault/archives/characters/oswald/oswald.html I remember reading this story as a child. But it seems like it has a new chapter today.
bq.Michaels didn’t come cheaply. The Peacock had to come up with a package deal that included making expanded highlight clips available to ESPN of such events as the Olympics and Notre Dame football, selling ESPN Friday coverage of the next four Ryder Cup golf tournaments and, the coup de grace, giving ESPN parent Disney complete rights to the Oswald the Lucky Rabbit series. The short ‘toons were created by Walt Disney in 1927, and Oswald is considered a precursor to Mickey Mouse. – “Josh Grossberg(Michaels Traded from ESPN to NBC)”:http://www.eonline.com/News/Items/0,1,18327,00.html When NBC bought a new NFL package, I don’t think anyone quite anticpated this.

Why Music Doesn’t Sell

The membership of the riaa would have you believe that falling music sales can be attributed to music piracy. But could there possibly be another explanation?
bq.Many fans also say they just don’t like what they’re hearing. It may not be surprising to hear older fans say music just isn’t what it used to be when they were growing up. But the poll also found that 49 percent of music fans ages 18-to-34 – the target audience for the music business – say music is getting worse. – “David Bauder(Fan Memo to Music Industry: Lower Prices)”:http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/D/DOWNLOADING_MUSIC_AP_POLL?SITE=SCCOL&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT I have been listening to the “Podshow Music Rewind(Podshow Music Rewind)”:http://rewind.podshow.com/ of late. Some of it I like, much of it I do not. But the one thing they all have in common is how different they are from the usual radio fare. I think there is a lesson to be learned in there somewhere.

Yahoo! gets delicious

Or, to punctuate things correctly, “del.icio.us(y.ah.oo!)”:http://blog.del.icio.us/blog/2005/12/yahoo.html. When you consider that Yahoo! has also added “flickr(Yahoo.icio.us? – Yahoo Acquires Del.icio.us)”:http://www.techcrunch.com/2005/12/09/yahoo-acquires-delicious/ and “konfabulator(Puzzled by Yahoo’s Konfabulator Purchase? Don’t Be)”:http://blog.searchenginewatch.com/blog/050810-113954 this year and their new parnership with a personal favorite of mine, “TiVo( Exclusive TiVo Beta Photos)”:http://www.zatznotfunny.com/2005-11/exclusive-tivo-beta-photos/ (I was just trying out the new features last night), this has been a really big year for them. The best part of the battle between Yahoo!, Google and Microsoft is that we all win as long as the battle continues. Long may it rage.

The Death of Sony

bq.Big companies like Sony are taking a hit and so are musicians. – “David Callahan(The Cheating Culture)”:http://www.amazon.com/gp/reader/0151010188/ref=sib_vae_pg_185/002-3632981-9752831?%5Fencoding=UTF8&keywords=sony&p=S05M&twc=1&checkSum=av%2BWNREaAue5KrGlSI%2FptmFmlLprMdJJqI8qCFBplHM%3D#reader-page, The Cheating Culture, p. 185
bq.Today, all the pieces are finally falling into place to make that world a reality, as even the slow-footed Big Three TV networks are finding ways to offer shows on a variety of devices and technologies. But it couldn’t be happening at a worse time for Sony, which has cut 30,000 jobs in two years while fighting competition ranging from its staple TV sets to the iPod, both markets that it once dominated. In fact, it’s still struggling with such basic issues as copyright protection on its CDs. Is Sony destined to miss the long-awaited entertainment “convergence” that it has spent so long preparing for? – “Mike Yamamoto(Sony’s new name, to some: ‘Sory’)”:http://news.com.com/2061-11199_3-5951462.html?part=rss&tag=5951462&subj=news I read an article years ago that neatly explained the problem: Sony was very successful as an electronics company, but then made the mistake of becoming a content company. When the entertainment division executives starting designing products and putting in restrictions for their use, the company began to create products that were designed for a market that did not exist that no one was interested in purchasing. They focused on making things that were difficult to use and forgot to make that things that buyers would want. I spent part of last week experimenting with a Sony CD that the library had purchased. I was trying to avoid the Rootkit DRM, but as it turned out, this particular album was protected by the “alternative Sunncomm technology(Sony BMG’s Other Spyware)”:http://techdirt.com/articles/20051113/239223_F.shtml. After seeing it start to work on some systems and completely fail on others, I finally determined that opening the CD directly in a windows within Virtual PC 2004 apparently bypassed the DRM altogether. We are still going to put this item in our collection, complete with an appropriate warning label, but this will be the last Sony CD I expect us to purchase for a very long time.

Defeating Napster

bq.We made one last effort to convince the labels that they should do a deal with us. A little-known underground product called Gnutella had just surfaced. It was a P2P file-sharing program that required no central server and no company to operate it. If the labels didn’t do a deal with us, and instead put us out of business, then Gnutella and its derivatives would become unstoppable. If we worked together now we could convert the market to a paid-subscription model. If we didn’t do a deal, chaos would ensue. The labels didn’t believe us and didn’t really understand what this Gnutella threat was. The RIAA succeeded in shutting down Napster, but lost billions in potential revenue over the next several years to Gnutella, Grokster, Morpheus, Kazaa and others. – “Don Dodge(Napster’s learning curve)”:http://news.com.com/Napsters+learning+curve/2010-1027_3-5901873.html?tag=fd_carsl I can’t think of a better recent definition of “pyrrhic victory.”

Norway, Microsoft and DRM

Cory Doctorow is not happy with the decision by Norwegian Public Television to distribute their content via DRM.
bq.Instead, by choosing Microsoft, they’ve put the Norwegian owners of the broadcaster — i.e. the taxpayers — in the position of having to pay again for Windows to play back the video that they already paid for once, with their taxes. What’s more, a Microsoft monopoly over the video they release means that Norwegian tech companies can’t made products that play back Norwegian video without permission from an American company — an American company that can withhold permission or charge whatever it wants for the privilege of playing back Norway’s storehouse of video. – “Cory Doctorow(Norway’s public broadcaster sells out taxpayers to Microsoft)”:http://www.boingboing.net/2005/10/16/norways_public_broad.html Unlike his complaints over “libraries and playsforsure(http://www.libraryplanet.com/2005/05/12/playsforsure)”:http://www.libraryplanet.com/2005/05/12/playsforsure, I completely agree with him this time. It makes no sense for a public institution to lock up their own content in this way. Who could possibly benefit from it? Nevertheless this prompted a reponse from someone at Microsoft.
bq.Cory Doctorow hates Microsoft. Hates us. Thinks what we do is evil. In particular he hates DRM and as far as I can tell, anything proprietary. A while back he made a funny and very unoptimistic presentation at Microsoft to ‘softies about DRM. I say unoptimisic because he believes that DRM is not only evil but that it has no ability to protect the rights of content owners. He states as facts his hopes about the future of DRM. IMHO he’s stuck in a stupid mode of say anything / ends justify the means / will to power. His tribe is on a Quixotic quest to bring us down. Bring it on. – “Cort(Cory, wrong again)”:http://spaces.msn.com/members/cortopolis/Blog/cns!1p1MgskJM906Us-MkR14rZ0Q!349.entry Hate seems like a rather a strong word in this case. I would think it more accurate to say that Cory rather strongly dislikes some of their business practices rather than company itself. Remember when this was said?
bq.American film studios didn’t want the Japanese electronics companies to get a piece of the movie pie, so they fought the VCR. Today, everyone who makes movies agrees that they don’t want to let you guys get between them and their customers. Sony didn’t get permission. Neither should you. Go build the record player that can play everyone’s records. Because if you don’t do it, someone else will. – “Cory Doctorow(Microsoft Research DRM talk)”:http://craphound.com/msftdrm.txt And remember who it was said to.