Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Amazon Starts DRM-free MP3 Store just opened their DRM-free music download store "amazon mp3" to public. Actually, I was not aware that it opened today, 9/25. It just so happened that when I took a look, it was public beta.

Anyways, it's still beta and it's been only one day, so we'll have to see for a little more while how this turns out to be. I haven't tried it other then browsing around few pages on their website. The pricing is not as simple as iTunes. Although being cheaper is probably not a problem; many tracks are 89 cents.

Now, will I use this store? Probably. It's DRM-free MP3, works with iTunes and other Apple products, most likely to be cheaper than iTunes and just because I know how to add MP3 files to my iTunes library. Will this be my primary store? Probably not. iTunes is just so simple, easy and convenient and humans are so lazy; I think it's hard to beat iTunes by this means. And if you want ringtones for your iPhone, you will need to purchase those tracks on iTunes.

BTW, one thing I thought was funny. The most popular track on amazonmp3 as of now is "1234" by Feist. This music is actually used for the latest iPod nano ad. I don't think this is just a coincidence...

Go To Starbucks Oct. 2 and Get a Free iTunes Card

Now a happy announcement!

Starbucks will be launching a campaign for their tie-up with Apple's iTunes Wi-Fi Music Store. The press release mentions about a free music giveaway for the coffee lovers.

In celebration of this historic launch, Starbucks announced today that it will introduce the digital music experience across all of its U.S. company-operated and licensed stores by offering its customers the “Song of the Day,” an unprecedented free digital music promotion. From October 2 to November 7 at more than 10,000 Starbucks locations, customers may receive “Song of the Day” cards redeemable on the iTunes Store for Mac or PC ( for a complimentary song hand-selected by Starbucks Entertainment. Throughout the promotion, Starbucks will give away 1.5 million downloads on iTunes per day for a total of more than 50 million free songs.

So, everyone, go to Starbucks and get your free music! (Don't get disappointed by going before 10/2. Or after 11/7/2007...)

BTW, Starbucks in San Francisco Bay Area will NOT be providing the actual Wi-Fi Music Store service until early November. So you need to go get your free music before it rolls out in this area. A little weird, but free is free.

Hacked iPhone Will Be Permanently Inoperable (Apple statement)

It seems that Apple made an official statement to the hacking of iPhones.

Read the statement yourself and see how you would take this.

CUPERTINO, Calif., Sept. 24 -- Apple has discovered that many of the unauthorized iPhone unlocking programs available on the Internet cause irreparable damage to the iPhone's software, which will likely result in the modified iPhone becoming permanently inoperable when a future Apple-supplied iPhone software update is installed. Apple plans to release the next iPhone software update, containing many new features including the iTunes Wi-Fi Music Store (, later this week. Apple strongly discourages users from installing unauthorized unlocking programs on their iPhones. Users who make unauthorized modifications to the software on their iPhone violate their iPhone software license agreement and void their warranty. The permanent inability to use an iPhone due to installing unlocking software is not covered under the iPhone's warranty.

First of all, I assume "iPhone unlocking" is the SIM/carrier unlocking which is an attempt to use iPhone on networks other than AT&T. Also, it may include "jail breaking" which is an attempt to install or modify iPhone software; although this, I think in most cases will not make the iPhone "permanently" inoperable.

So, what do I think of this statement? I think this is fair due to the exclusive relationship Apple has with AT&T. And of course a manufacturer would not support their product if it was hacked! But I do support the hacking community. What they do is what the people are asking for. And their effort will be noticed and may change things. Even this statement, I would say, is one success of the hacking community being recognized by Apple. For Apple, good or bad, they get the hype; no negative impact.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Update Curse with Mozilla Firefox

As a network engineer, I pretty much try to stick with good practices especially with things related to computer security; even at home. One important thing is run applications under limited user rights. Very common practice in the UNIX world; in the Windows world, maybe not. Probably that is why Windows has a lot of virus. Anyways, I use my Windows XP under a limited user for safety sake. Yes, I do encounter inconveniences and problems.

One really annoying issue is:

"One or more files could not be updated. Please make sure all other applications are closed and that you have permission to modify files, and then restart Firefox to try again."

This is produced by Mozilla Firefox related to it's automatic update. In this case, I think it's Firefox to blame rather than Microsoft. But it does show that in the Windows environment, it's still not common to run applications under limited rights. Firefox can't really say much about security, can it?

Whatever, but we still have to fix this problem ourselves. It's stupid, but if it's going to save some time and decrease my frustration, let's do it. Here are links to some information I found.

What I did was just deleted the update folder in my limited user account. Worked fine and I am happy now. But I still have to see if this is a permanent fix or if I have to do it for every coming update.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Google Adds Presentation to Docs (and IBM wants the buzz too...)

Google finally added a presentation tool for their Google Docs application.

I tried it out slightly. It's like a simple GUI type HTML editor; like what they have with Google Pages. As of now, I did not see any slide transitioning effects, but it will allow you to save it as a HTML/image file collection to play it on your browser offline. (Worked with IE and Firefox.)

For a basic presentation, I think it would work fine. Plus with the online collaboration tools Goolge Docs has, it may be good for people who work remotely with others.

Also, IBM released Lotus Symphony, another free office suite. This is an installed based application same to and actually supports their primary and open "Open Document Format (ODF)". Let's see how much buzz they get.

Now we have big organizations with their free office suite applications trying to go against Microsoft's expensive Office software. This situation is becoming a very interesting show...

Saturday, September 15, 2007

iPhone Owners: $100 Cash Back is Now Ready

Now, go get your $100 cash back from Apple. Just click on the title above.

Of course, your iPhone needs to be activated with AT&T... What?

Well, I expected this being a requirement. Apple is smart. They are definitely going to take any opportunity to benefit themselves. No, I'm not criticizing Apple. I really think they're smart.

Anyways, as soon as the $100 cash back was announced, I started working with my wife to get our iPhone activated, at least the smartest way we can... We're not done yet, but our plan is to get a couple of free AT&T phones, then activate our iPhone with one of the lines. After we get the $100 store credit from Apple, buy another iPhone for myself and swap it with the second line.

I'm actually going to get a low end no-camera free phone from AT&T. That way, if I need to go to a place where cameras are not allowed or the iPhone might be in danger, I can just swap the SIM card and take my cheap phone.

Now, let's see how this turns out. It's going to happen before November 30. Or else Apple is not going to give us the $100; just FYI...

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Using Gizmo on Other SIP Clients

This is a memo on the basic information you'll need to use a Gizmo account on other SIP clients.

Type: Use proxy
Username: <sip_number>
Password: <password>
Address: sip:<sip_number>

And here are some free or open source SIP clients that works with Gizmo.

  • SJphone: Runs on Windows, Linux, Mac OS and Windows CE. Seems like a great alternative to Gizmo's app. It ran on my Windows Mobile 2003 SE Wi-Fi enabled PDA. I think I can use my PDA as a cordless phone. Really!
  • X-Lite: Runs on Windows, Mac OS and Linux. Tested on Windows and ran fine.
  • Ekiga: For Linux and Windows. Haven't tested this one, but reportedly works with Gizmo accounts.
  • And probably more...
So, I've been preaching that Gizmo is good with GrandCentral, but if you don't like the Gizmo client, just use one of the above SIP clients. Should work fine. FYI, this is not a hack or that sort of thing. SIP is just a common protocol unlike Skype.

Friday, September 7, 2007

iPhone Owners: $100 Cash Back from Apple

Apple dropped the 8GB iPhone price from $599 to $399; a $200 drop in just 2 month. I thought this was coming and there wouldn't be much to do about it. But it is true that this is not nice and rather mean and many people would be very upset about. And I guess Steve Jobs got the message after the September 5th special event.

Steve posted an open letter and I cited the part where I thought people would most be interested in.

Therefore, we have decided to offer every iPhone customer who purchased an iPhone from either Apple or AT&T, and who is not receiving a rebate or any other consideration, a $100 store credit towards the purchase of any product at an Apple Retail Store or the Apple Online Store. Details are still being worked out and will be posted on Apple's website next week. Stay tuned.

So, probably most iPhone owners would be happy with this. As for me, I guess I will use this opportunity to buy our second iPhone; now I won't have to borrow my wife's iPhone. Yay!

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

My Wishlist - Apple Special Event

Apple will be holding a special event tomorrow, September 5, 2007 at the Moscone Center in San Francisco. Their website says that the event is a "private corporate event". Whatever...

Anyways, there isn't much I personally want right now. But maybe what would be nice to see:

  • complete new line of iPods, all flash memory of course
  • major iPhone firmware update
  • release date for Mac OS X Leopard
  • new Mac Book, switch to the aluminum design (I don't think it will happen, but...)