Sandeep Venugopal’s Weblog

August 11, 2008

TSA now allowed to take laptops from you!

Filed under: Uncategorized — Sandeep @ 7:36 pm
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Not content with taking your shoes and confiscating your water, now the Department of Homeland Security is gunning for your laptops. As the Washington Post reported yesterday, Border Patrol and Customs agents can now “detain” laptops “for a reasonable period of time” to “review and analyze information.” They don’t need probable cause under the new policy. Doesn’t matter if you’re a U.S. citizen or foreign visitor. Officials can hold the laptops indefinitely. Or hard drives, flash drives, cellphones, iPods, pagers, beepers, video and audio tapes. Ditto papers, documents, books, pamphlets, even litter.

“It’s not our intent to subject legitimate travelers to undue scrutiny, but to ensure the safety of the American public,” wrote Jayson Ahern, U.S. Customs deputy commissioner, in a recent policy paper. Arguing that border searches of laptops have already uncovered intellectual property rights violations, extremist Jihadist literature, video clips of IEDs and child pornography, he pledged the government would never disclose confidential information “without lawful authority.” The policy has been on the books for awhile, but just confirmed under pressure from civil rights and business groups worried about increasing reports of laptop confiscation.

Source: LA Times, Martin


June 21, 2008

Apple iTunes tops 5 billion sold songs!

Filed under: Uncategorized — Sandeep @ 10:47 pm
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Apple on Thursday said music sales on its iTunes store have topped 5 billion songs, and visitors are renting and purchasing more than 50,000 movies each day. Apple, which has surpassed Wal-Mart as the leading music retailer in the United States, put out a brief press release on the latest numbers, offering no further details. The company has a catalog of more than 8 million songs, 20,000 TV shows, and 2,000 films, including 350 in high-definition format. In announcing on April 3 that it had surpassed Wal-Mart, Apple said that it had sold more than 4 billion songs through iTunes. Given that announcement was 77 days ago, that would mean the company has sold nearly 13 million songs a day since then. Apple was not immediately available for comment.

Apple has gotten in trouble before for its iTunes math. In late April, the company said it offered 10 million songs on its 5-year-old store, but later ratcheted the number down to 6 million songs. In August 2007, the company said it had 5 million songs. Apple’s movie collection includes titles from 20th Century Fox, Walt Disney Studios, Paramount Pictures, Warner Bros. Entertainment, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios, Sony Pictures Television International, and Lionsgate. ITunes will rent and sell movies on the same day as their DVD release. Customers using Mac or Windows operating systems must have iTunes 7.6.2 or higher to buy or rent the movies.

Source: InfoWeek, Martin

United Airlines offer iPod & iPhone connectivity!

Filed under: Uncategorized — Sandeep @ 10:25 pm
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After Singapore Airlines claimed to be the first to the market in offering passengers connectivity for the Apple iPod personal electronic devices, United says it is taking the honors as the first US carrier to offer the amenity. United today is debuting the feature on a transatlantic flight from Washington Dulles to Zurich that allows passengers to connect iPods and iPhones to its IFE system, which features a 15.4-inch widescreen flat panel monitor. The US major has previously said it is engaging in a $165 million revamp to equip premium cabins of its international widebody fleet that includes new Panasonic IFE systems to allow iPod and iPhone connectivity in first and business class, and lie-flat beds on the aircraft.

Last month, Singapore Airlines flew its first flight offering iPod connectivity on an Airbus A340-500. The carrier is reconfiguring five of the aircraft to all-business class layouts. “Our guests may now watch or listen to what they want, when they want, with programming they choose,” said United Airlines executive VP Graham Atkinson in a statement today. “United will continue to provide services and technology that makes our customers’ travel experiences more relaxed and enjoyable.”

Source: PC World, Ars Technica, Martin

May 20, 2008

Napster opens world’s biggest MP3 store!

Filed under: Uncategorized — Sandeep @ 6:12 am
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Napster Inc., the digital music service, on Tuesday opened the world’s biggest MP3 download store with more than 6 million songs in a direct challenge to Apple’s iTunes store. The new Web-based music store will have digital songs from all major music labels as well as thousands of independent labels. The MP3-format songs will be compatible with the vast majority of digital media devices and mobile phones including Apple’s popular iPod as well as its iPhone. Before now Napster has focused on selling all-you-can-eat monthly streaming music subscription packages but has struggled to win over the majority of fans who want to be able to transfer songs they like on to a portable device such as the market-leading iPod.

The new Napster service tries to take on Apple’s dominance in digital music by offering fans more songs without copy protection or digital rights management (DRM). Most of the six million songs on the iTunes Music store are available with Fairplay DRM, which prevents the songs from being played on most portable players other than the iPod. Major labels in particular had previously been reluctant to allow online retailers to sell their songs without protection as a way to avoid piracy. As the industry outlook gets tougher more executives are willing to experiment or take a risk. “We’re now moving from under the DRM cloud,” said Chris Gorog, Napster chief executive. “Now consumers can use Napster with any device,” he added. Most songs on the service will be available for 99 cents (50 pence) each and $9.95 an album.

Source: AP, Martin

May 15, 2008

HBO to sell TV shows on iTunes!

Filed under: Uncategorized — Sandeep @ 7:24 pm
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Time Warner Inc’s HBO cable network is expected to start selling shows on Apple iTunes digital entertainment service, with flexible pricing, sources familiar with the discussions said on Monday. Episodes of some HBO shows are likely to be sold at the standard price of $1.99 per episode or higher, these sources said, marking the first time Apple has agreed to selling television shows at different prices in the United States. The deal could be announced as early as Tuesday, one of the sources said. Although some global iTunes stores, including Japan, already sell songs at different prices, Apple has resisted offering music or television shows at different prices for the sake of simplicity for consumers.

But studio and music company executives have pushed for variable pricing, such as the ability to sell some content at lower prices and new releases at higher prices, which they believe would improve sales from its older catalogs. Apple’s pricing structure also was part of the reason why NBC Universal decided last year to pull its shows from iTunes. Since then, NBC has made some shows available for streaming on Apple’s iPhone as well made some available for sale on iTunes’s U.K. store. For HBO — home to hit series like “The Sopranos” and “Sex and the City” — the move marks the first time it has made its shows available for sale in electronic form. It is currently testing a broadband service for subscribers in Wisconsin, which streams episodes of shows shortly after their first airing.

Source: NY Times, Martin

March 27, 2008

DRM-free music store from Sony!… Interesting!

Filed under: Uncategorized — Sandeep @ 11:29 pm
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SonyBMG is working on an all-you-can-eat, DRM-free subscription service, says SonyBMG CEO Rolf Schmidt-Holtz. In a Monday interview with the German-language newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Schmidt-Holtz discussed the new service and was quoted as saying that the “simplest option would be a flat rate,” offering access to Sony BMG’s catalog for a monthly fee of 6 to 8 euros ($9 to $12). The service will provide downloads in a format compatible with all music players, including Apple’s iPod. Naturally, unless Apple decides to license its proprietary FairPlay DRM format, Schmidt-Holtz’s announcement means that service will likely offer its music as DRM-free MP3 files – a concession that he indirectly confirms, noting that it is “even possible that clients could keep some songs indefinitely, that they would own them even after the subscription expired. “

Speaking with the Associated Press, a Bertelsmann spokesman confirmed the interview but refused to provide additional details. Schmidt-Holtz said his company is also in early talks with mobile phone companies like Nokia, in an effort to provide a subscription service over cellular networks: users could pay a one-time fee, he speculated, and then have unlimited access to music downloads over the air. In fact, Schmidtz-Holtz spoke warmly of Apple – who is reportedly working on its own subscription service – calling the company a “very strong partner” and noting that everyone benefits from Apple’s success in the digital music arena, even if Sony BMG may soon be competing with it.

Source: DailyTech, Martin

January 16, 2008

Apple TV Take 2!

Filed under: Uncategorized — Sandeep @ 12:17 pm
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I am a Netflix member but Apple TV Take 2 seems cool to check out… alas, I don’t have a HD TV to view HD content… grrr! guess have to make a pass… nevertheless an awesome viable option!


Apple TV!

Movies are available in HD Dolby 5.1 (finally!), and it does podcasts, audio and video, and photos from Flickr and .Mac direct to the box. HD movies are a buck more than standard ($4.99, so worth it). You can actually preview movies now. Startup even when streaming is fast, under 5 seconds. Yay for search. Photo browser is prettier, though functionally the same. And it’s all a free software upgrade. No new hardware required! The cheaper price starts today, software update is available in 2 weeks.

Apple Introduces New Apple TV Software & Lowers Price to $229

Rent High Definition Movies Directly from Your Widescreen TV

MACWORLD SAN FRANCISCO, Jan. 15 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ — Apple(R) today unveiled all new software for Apple TV(R) that allows movie fans to rent movies on the iTunes(R) Store directly from their widescreen TV, and lowered the price of Apple TV to just $229. With iTunes Movie Rentals and Apple TV, users can just click a button on their remote to effortlessly rent movies from a catalog of over 1,000 titles by the end of February, including over 100 titles in stunning high definition video with 5.1 Dolby Digital surround sound, with no computer required. DVD-quality iTunes Movie Rentals are $2.99 for library titles and $3.99 for new releases, and high definition versions are just one dollar more with library titles at $3.99 and new releases at $4.99. Apple will provide the new Apple TV software free of charge to existing Apple TV owners when it releases the new Apple TV priced at $229 in about two weeks.

“With the new Apple TV and iTunes Movie Rentals, movie lovers can rent DVD-quality or stunning HD movies from their couch with just a click of a button,” said Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO. “No more driving to the video store or waiting for DVDs to arrive in the mail.”

iTunes Movie Rentals feature iTunes’ legendary ease of use, which makes discovering and enjoying movie rentals as simple and easy as buying music on iTunes. Once a movie is rented, it starts downloading from the iTunes Store directly to Apple TV, and users with a fast Internet connection can start viewing the movie in seconds. Customers have up to 30 days to start watching it, and once a movie has been started customers have 24 hours to finish it — or watch it multiple times.

With Apple TV, users can also view photos from their computers, Flickr and .Mac Web Galleries on their widescreen TV as slideshows or screen savers, and anytime photos are updated on Flickr or .Mac, they are automatically updated on Apple TV. Apple TV users can now browse and enjoy the iTunes Store podcast directory of over 125,000 video and audio podcasts, view over 50 million originally created videos from YouTube or choose from a selection of six million songs, over 600 TV shows and 10,000 music videos to purchase directly from their Apple TV. Purchases downloaded to Apple TV are automatically synced back to iTunes on the user’s computer for enjoyment on their computer, all current generation iPods* or iPhone(TM).

Apple TV easily connects to a broad range of widescreen TVs and home theater systems and comes standard with HDMI, component video, analog and optical audio ports. Using high-speed AirPort(R) 802.11 wireless networking, Apple TV now automatically plays all of your iTunes content without setup or management**.

Pricing & Availability
The new Apple TV software will be available as a free automatic download to all Apple TV customers later this month. Apple TV, which includes the Apple Remote, is available from the Apple Store(R) (, Apple’s retail stores and Apple Authorized Resellers for a suggested retail price of $229 (US) for the 40GB model and $329 (US) for the 160GB model (US and Canada). Apple TV requires an 802.11g/n wireless network or 10/100 Base-T Ethernet networking, a broadband Internet connection and a high definition widescreen TV. iPod(R) games will not play on Apple TV. iTunes Movie Rentals are available in the US only.

*Movie rentals work on iPod classic, iPod nano with video and iPod touch.
**Compatible with 802.11b/g/n. Based on an IEEE 802.11n draft
specification. Wireless video streaming requires an 802.11g/n network.


With Fox coming out with free digital copies of their movies for iPod and iTunes, the Apple TV Take 2 is definitely gonna make a big mark in the entertainment world…

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