615 - Tase me, bro
Monday, December 3, 2007

Tase me, broEdit

Rumors of DRM's demise heat up as Wal-Mart and Amazon both issue demands for DRM-free tunes. That pretty much, at least to us, signals a coming era of unfettered MP3 enjoyment. Meanwhile, Facebook advertisers flee the Beacon debacle, and yes, we're talking about GameSpot firing Jeff Gerstmann, too.

Stories CoveredEdit

Joystiq's Gamespot-Gerstmann coverage
Tom and Molly finally comment on Jeff Gerstmann’s termination. The firing of GameSpot’s editorial director following an unflattering review of a game, and the fact that the video review for that game was subsequently pulled from GameSpot’s website, drew criticism and speculation. CNET Networks, Gamespot’s parent company, seemed slow to comment on the event, which drew more speculation. Tom says, “But we have seen a statement from CNET, and we have been told internally, frankly, that CNET will never dismiss someone because of outside advertiser pressure.” Molly and Tom seem cautiously optimistic that the company did not act improperly. Molly concludes, “I do have faith that my company is working to make sure we get it right in the end.”

Video game giants in $18 billion merger
A new company, Activision Blizzard, will combine Activision, the publisher of Call of Duty, the Tony Hawk series, and Guitar Hero, and Blizzard, the developer of World of Warcraft and Starcraft. Activision will invest $1 billion and Blizzard, which is owned by Vivendi, will invest $2 billion.

Roll over, Beethoven: Deutsche Grammophon ditches DRM
Classical music distributer Deutsche Grammophon, a Universal subsidiary, has set up a DRM-free online shop that is selling 320kbps mp3’s. Due to the extended length of many classical music tracks, the shop will charge variable prices for its music based on track length. Also, Amazon hopes to give away 1 billion mp3’s during the Super Bowl, and Wal-Mart is requiring Warner and Sony BMG be DRM-free next year.

Amazon and Wal-Mart unwittingly team up against DRM
Sony is thinking about letting people have its music in mp3 format. Since EMI and Universal have already done this, it means that Warner is the only one still not considering the DRM-free path. Wal-Mart says it will quit offering song files that are not also available in mp3 format. Wal-Mart is also set to buy 3 million copies of the Eagle’s album “up front.”

Coca-Cola puts its Facebook participation on hold; Overstock and Travelocity as well
Coca-Cola, Overstock, and Travelocity are changing their minds about being involved with Facebook’s Beacon advertising program, after the “opt-out” fiasco. Beacon is Facebook’s advertising program that tells your friends what you have bought. The program became infamous when people found they had been automatically included in the program. Coca-Cola, as it turns out, wasn’t involved with Beacon from the beginning, so is now just thinking about participating. Overstock and Travelocity are not currently using the Beacon program.

News Corp./Fox close to deal with Apple for iTunes movies: Report
Twentieth Century Fox might allow their movies on iTunes, but only if Apple will give them more money.

NBC content gets removed from iTunes
All of NBC’s content is now gone from iTunes. NBC Direct, Hulu (although still in beta), and the old-fashioned TV are now the only options for watching NBC shows.

AT&T steps away from the phone booth
AT&T will no longer operate pay phones, though the phones will probably still be there, kept in service by independent operators. Pay phones in New York have earned more revenue from ads than from calls since 2001.

Google crowdsources malicious Web site detection to combat search poisoning
Google wants people to help get rid of malware sites. Google will provide a report form that will allow people to report malware and phishing sites. Google will investigate reported sites and add them to a database if they are malicious.

From The PhonesEdit

  • Mike Cox Tom got it wrong.
  • Anonymous Google handpicked search can be gamed as well.
  • Chris the podcaster A little DirecTV hack.
  • Jason from New Hampshire Tom, what kind of man are you?


Google's customized search results
As I was listening to Molly and Tom disagree about Google's customized search results, a few thoughts crossed my mind. The first was "I agree with Tom", the next was "That girl is tenacious." The more I thought about it, the more I realized that Molly had a valid argument. I still agree with Tom, but I sure enjoy it when you guys really dig in to an issue. Thanks.

Respectfully, Vic the Texas rancher pilot

P.S. Don't give up Molly, you may win me over yet. I'm just a little slow.

Patent news (a questionably good patent)
Ever wonder how you are going to protect yourself when the jack-booted thugs have energy weapons? Wonder no more, good BOL listeners, your personal protection project is here.

This thing is a hoot. Just make sure you are hit in the vest. When the jack-booted thugs adapt, they will start shooting you in the leg with their phasers. :-)

Cheers, Bob the patent lawyer

P.S. This is not legal advice, but go ahead and build your own. The patent claims are questionable in my mind. :-)

After action report from BOL aerospace defenses
FOR: Tommolly

RE: iPhone use in Cybercommand

As a early commissionee into the BOL Defense Command (and occassional USAF B-1 Weapons System Officer currently stationed at a Navy base training new BOL Air Force and Naval aviators...must have the priorities straight, after all) I am always entertained by the iPhone related stories, especially the aviation-related ones. Allow me to add a couple to the pile.

First, a much better use of the iPhone for aviation: This weekend I happened to be TDY to NYC in a couple of Navy jets when a fairly nasty winter storm rolled in. Using only my iPhone while still tucked warmly in my bed at 5 a.m. (perhaps...I won't confirm that...even under waterboarding), I was able to check the radar picture, icing conditions, terminal area forecasts, contact my chain of command back home (sorry, you didn't answer), make the decision to cancel the flight for the day, and alert the entire rest of the crew before they checked out of their hotels and trudged through the snow to the airfield. All this with one device, and without so much as having to crawl out of bed. Seriously, a mobile device with solid data capability (debatable with EDGE, I know) and great resolution is a definite boon to aviators needing to fill in the accessibility gaps to aviation planning centers.

Second, to corroborate Tom's rationale for desiring offline data capability for documents, the lack of access to various references, presentations, and spreadsheets is also a serious problem for all those people who deploy regularly on the boat, as I recently discovered while participating in carrier landing qualifications in the Atlantic! While of course true on any ship, a carrier is a small city of 5,000 people, with no wireless or EDGE, to be sure; so it's just an iPod unless you happen to have emailed yourself the document and were fortunate enough to have it download to the iPhone prior to leaving the network area. (BTW, is anyone else annoyed by not having larger messages download to your phone when you most want them?) Having an iPod on the boat or a flight is terrific, but it would be doubly so were I able to use it to access PDFs and other documents in that environment. Aviators of all types and especially military have need to reference many, many publications and documents quickly, and while there are other very expensive electronic options to deal with some of that least on the commercial side...the ability to do some of that on the iPhone would be tremendous.

Last, you may rest assured that as a former IT Director-turned Air Force Weapon Systems Officer (wizzo), your podcast not only makes fairly frequent flights, but also entertains on a daily basis in the squadron while configuring and deploying new computer and software I always seem to get tasked to do. So, you might say that the Cybercommand section of the BOL Aerospace Defenses (BOLAD???) is already being brought online (and should become self aware in approximately....arghhhhhh) (perhaps I was dictating).

Capt "Neo", USAF (no, we do not get to choose our own callsigns)

Bathing in money
In show number 614, you stated that bathing in money would lead to paper cuts.

Well, *act*ually, that would be a nylon cut, thank you very much.

Love the show,

Forrest the high school student from Eugene, Oregon

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