Saturday, August 09, 2003

Federal Judge rejects RIAAs Supoenas

BOSTON.COM is reporting a victory for David against Goliath. The subpoenas are part of the RIAA's nationwide strongarm campaign against college students in an effort to take their tuition away for sharing music files.

And although a federal judge affirmed the constitutionality of a law allowing music companies to force Internet providers to release the names of suspected music pirates upon subpoena, U.S. District Judge Joseph L. Tauro said Friday that under federal rules, the subpoenas, which were issued in Washington, cannot be served in Massachusetts.

Downplaying it as a decision on a "minor procedural issue," the RIAA vowed to appeal the decision.

Hey, it ain't much, but we'll take every victory we can get.

Friday, August 08, 2003

CNN reports on BAD Tech Support in Survey

CNN Tech has a story on Consumer Reports "MATCH SURVEY," which shows widespread dissatisfaction with the level of service in software technical support.

"As a result, the magazine put software tech support among the lower-ranked services that it's rated in the last 10 years -- slightly worse than the customer support offered by cell phone carriers and just a little better than that provided by cable TV companies. "

Judging from my recent experiences with "AppleCare," I'm inclined to believe the survey is accurate.

Thursday, August 07, 2003

Looking for the right computer depends on your student's needs

In July, Daniel Tynan of PCWORLD wrote a good column on looking for a good PC for your student. And with school right around the corner, there's never been a better time to do your research before buying that kid his box.

Ranging from budget systems to top of line do everything computers, the list shows speeds, prices, and all the whistles and bells. Print his checklist and take it with you to the computer store.

Meanwhile, Caroline Humer of Reuters reports that laptops have gotten cheap enough and powerful enough that a thousand dollars can buy a laptop that can do just about anything. And that should make mom & dad as happy as their budding student kids!

Shortcutting that makes posting long links manageable

We've all had this problem - a link that looks like this:


Well, what if it could be turned into this:

And it worked! That's the genius of TINYURL, the E-R cool link of the week! By entering in a long URL into TinyURLs text field, a tiny URL that will not break in email postings is created. And it never expires.

KUDOs to Simmie at the KABC COMPUTER SHOW USER GROUP for sharing this one.

Enter a long URL to make tiny:

Monday, August 04, 2003

Ritz Camera offers a single-use digital for those who want to experience digital photography without the cost

PC World is reporting that Ritz Camera has begun selling a single-use 2 Megapixel digital camera! Called the Dakota Digital Single-Use Camera, it will sell for $10.99 and will give users an introduction to the digital experience without the cost of investing in a digital camera.

"For $10.99, customers have an opportunity to try digital technology without investing in a pricey digital camera," says Ritz. (By comparison, a disposable film camera from Kodak or Fuji costs about $8, according to Ritz.) The camera is also available at Wolf Camera.

The Dakota Digital, which was developed by San Francisco-based Pure Digital Technologies, captures up to 25 snapshots and uses a CMOS (complementary metal oxide semiconductor) sensor. The camera has 12MB of internal memory, runs on AA alkaline batteries (which are included), and features an automatic flash and a self timer. The Dakota does include a delete button, but you can only delete the most recent photo - which you may or may not know is bad since the camera has no LCD for viewing images. But hey, what do you want for $11!

After capturing pictures, users can only return the camera to a Ritz or Wolf lab that has the equipment to process the proprietary image format (Pure Digital Imaging Platform). It cannot be connected to a PC to transfer photos. We'll see how long that lasts in today's open source - hacker prone environment.

Ritz/Wolf charges about $11 for processing 25 4-by-6 prints and a photo CD. By comparison, the company charges $14 for developing film (from a disposable camera or a standard roll of film) for the same quantity and size prints and a photo CD. Processing takes about an hour in either case but depends on the lab's workload.

Once the prints have been developed, Ritz/Wolf returns the camera to Pure Digital for recycling. Much like the method for film disposables, Pure Digital refurbishes each camera for resale.

PacBell takes on the RIAA

The Electronic Frontier Foundation has reported that Pacific Bell Internet Services is suing against three organizations that are manipulating copyright laws to violate the privacy of ISP customers.

The case concerns 97 subpoenas directed to Pacific Bell over the past two weeks. The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) has issued thousands of subpoenas to various ISPs, seeking the identity of music fans who use peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing networks.

The lawsuit alleges that the RIAA, along with MediaForce, a company that issues millions of "cease-and-desist" letters to ISPs, and other companies that have distorted certain provisions of the Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA) in an attempt to force Pacific Bell to breach its customers' privacy.

So now computer users have an 800 lb. gorilla of their own.