Wednesday, April 21, 2010

iTunes and Facebook in the news

Illinois governor advocates copyright infringement

Ok, that's not really true, but he might as well! In a desperate attempt to balance the out-of-control budget, Illinois governor, Pat Quinn, has suggested that a 6.5 percent sales tax be placed on downloads from services like iTunes and Rhapsody. If passed, the tax on music and movie downloads would allegedly provide up to ten million dollars per year in additional revenue. Of course, this assumes that the volume of legal downloads remains the same. This is not only bad for the industry but gives the pirates yet another reason to obtain their media from illegal sources. States taxing downloads is nothing new. There are 19 other states who currently have a provision for taxing media downloads.

Speaking of iTunes….

Everyone who owns one of Apple's iDevices (Pod, Pad, or Phone) is familiar with iTunes since it's the only legal way to get anything loaded on them. Purchasing music, movies or television shows is simple and intuitive. But, did you know that there is a huge repository of free information available besides Podcasts? Next time you load up iTunes, check out the iTunes U tab. iTunes U has lectures, college courses, and other educational resources all for free! If you're interested in the workings of the government and military, check out the Center for Strategic and International Studies. Looking for research information on the environment, go to Open University's extensive collection of lectures. Want to hear opinions from the heads of industry, then Stanford Technology Ventures is the place to be. There are language courses and technology courses both in video and audio. Some collections even have transcripts available for printing for offline reference.

It's never too late to learn and this is a great way to do it without spending any money. There is something for every interest and educational level.

Facebook's F8 Developers Conference 2010

Facebook's 26 year-old CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, took the stage at the F8 developer's conference today in jeans and a hoodie to announce some ground-breaking news for Facebook and social media in general. The first platform announcement was "Open Graph". This is a technology that will bring together partner sites and your friends activities on them. If a Facebook member is on, say, Amazon, there will be a "Like" button so that friend can share his purchases with his Facebook friends. This is just one example of the underlying idea behind Open Graph. Users will also be able to share restaurant reviews, tips and opinions using these tools on partner sites. There is a lot more to Open Graph and you can read about it here

The next big announcement came from Fuse Labs, Microsoft's social media think-tank. They are working with Facebook on the introduction of Docs.Com a document collaboration project for sharing and working on documents with your Facebook friends over the web. is still in beta, but I tried it and it has a clean interface and the editor is built on Office 2010 Web Edition. Creating, editing or uploading documents is quick and could mean big competition for the Google Docs application.

Monday, April 19, 2010

More Madness!

SDK – WTF Apple?

I stopped writing code for a living many years ago and I'm happy with that decision. If I depended on writing application code for my bread and butter, I would have stopped developing for Apple long ago. Although I normally take the manufacturer's side when it comes to what applications will run on their platform because, they designed it. And yes, we all push the boundaries of those restrictions if there is a compelling reason, but again, I believe that Apple has really gone berserk with this power trip of iron fisted rule over the types of tools that developers can use. If Microsoft told developers that they had to use ONLY the Visual Studio IDE to develop applications, they would revolt. Now, there may be a very good reason (other than "Performance"….lame) to use the prescribed dev tools, but I didn't see that explained anywhere. And, the change to the developers agreement was announced at the same time that Adobe released its iPod/iPhone/iPad application packager allowing developers to write in Flash and then cross compile to the native i-Whatever executable. So, once again, it seems like it's more of a Jobs vs. the World battle rather than a true business decision. Of course, Apple is Steve Jobs. There is no one else working there... is there? I wonder if all of the Apple employees follow in lock-step to the Jobs March?


Actually, this joint submission was not just the product of the MPAA and RIAA. The entire list of villains is enumerated in the first paragraph of the letter to the US Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator. Did anyone know that we had an Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator? Well, apparently we do and some entertainment industry groups have drafted a proposal to persuade the government to assist them in enforcing copyright laws by brute force. Now I'm all for giving artists their just due, but this is not about the artists. It's the same battle that the print media is fighting, but nastier. The motion picture and recording industries have not adapted to the new methods of media distribution and instead of changing, they are attempting to litigate to maintain an outdated business model. And now that litigation seems less than productive, they would like to create a police state to enforce their position. To do this they are suggesting the following;

  1. ISP's should monitor their networks for infringing materials.
  2. Border patrols and TSA agents should examine digital properties to find evidence of piracy.
  3. Search engines should block search results that might lead to copyrighted materials being distributed illegally.

And those are just the most absurd. As Molly Wood from CNET"s Buzz Out Loud said "Are they out of their f----king minds!". Well Molly, it would appear that they are. On the heels of Google's stand-off with the Chinese government, this is a direct attack on the freedom of the internet and represents the same type of censorship under the guise of law enforcement.