* You are viewing the archive for January, 2008

Organized Crime Targeting Apple Computers for the First Time

Apple LogoWhile it’s nothing new for organized crime to focus on phishing and identity theft, Windows-based computers have traditionally taken the brunt of most attacks. So much so, in fact, that plenty of my Apple friends claimed it as yet another reason to switch to the below-the-radar Mac. Too bad, then, that a report out last week shows that the end of 2007 was the beginning of “financially-motivated” organized crime targeting Apple computers.

Is this good news or bad? After all, it could be taken as a sign of Apple’s success. Macs finally appear to be popular enough that cybercriminals care. However you frame it, check out this call to arms of sorts from Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at Sophos (the firm responsible for this report):

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eBay: No Matter How Hard You Try, You’re Still No Amazon

eBayMy top issues with eBay: Prices aren’t that competitive, service is inconsistent, time is wasted, and the shipping is a wild card. It’s no wonder then that, due to lackluster growth, eBay recently announced changes including “holding sellers to higher customer-service standards.” But I gave up on eBay years ago when I discovered Amazon has all the same stuff at around the same price but with real customer service.

Just for fun, I thought I’d revisit eBay and see what kind of deals I skipped out on by searching for the last few items I ordered on Amazon. Here’s how the process works: you search for your item and get excited when you see an amazing deal! Oh wait, that auction still has 12 hours before it’s over. So you save it to your watch list and waste more time searching for other deals.

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Could HD DVD Make a Comeback? Pricing Now Close to DVD

HD-DVD vs. Blu-rayEven if plenty of news is out already assuming HD DVD is dead, other sources are pointing us to facts that show the battle isn’t over yet. After all, you can now get HD DVD players with 7 movies for $126 whereas Blu-ray’s alternatives are, at best, nearly three times as expensive with players starting in the $300′s.

Most all coverage, positive or negative, is relying on data from the NPD Group. Interesting, then, that the NPD Group had to issue a statement addressing how its numbers were being used:

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Amazon MP3 Expanding Internationally, More DRM-Free in 2008

Amazon MP3Amazon today has announced plans to take its DRM-free MP3 music store to countries beyond the United States. In the U.S., at least, Amazon MP3 is already the online music store of choice.

It’s hard to compete with the largest library (3.3 million songs from 270,000 artists) of restriction free music, much of which is priced lower than the going rate of $0.99/track. And it integrates seamlessly with iTunes (or other desktop music applications) plus works with pretty much any digital music player available.

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How Much Is All Your Email Worth? Answer: $50

EmailThis past week a national cable and high-speed Internet provider by the name of Charter Communications accidentally deleted all the contents of 14,000 active email accounts. A spokeswoman for the company explained that there is no way for them to retrieve anything that was erased. The spokeswoman offered this explanation and apology:

“We really are sincerely sorry for having had this happen and do apologize to all those folks who were affected by the error… During this maintenance we erroneously deleted active accounts along with the others. It’s never happened before. They are taking steps to make sure it never happens again.”

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Yahoo Working on DRM-Free Music Store

YahooHot on the heels of the Last.Fm announcement that you can stream any song up to three times for free, Yahoo rumors are brewing again. According to two record company executives wishing to remain anonymous, Yahoo is in talks with major record labels about offering DRM-free (unprotected) MP3s either for sale or for free supported by ads. Either way, Yahoo wants to launch the new service this year sometime.

This news could be even more interesting when juxtaposed with what Yahoo Music’s VP of Product Development Ian Rogers hinted at a couple weeks ago. Namely, big news revolving around dramatic changes in Yahoo’s music model. He said, “We’re in the process of redefining what Yahoo! Music is, and making it the Music destination in Yahoo!’s successful image.”

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Movie Industry Admits Piracy Statistic is Totally Wrong

MPAAThe Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) commissioned a study in 2005, which resulted in a claim that 44% of industry losses (domestically) came from college students illegally downloading movies across U.S. campuses. Well, it turns out the real number is 15%.

This study and, more specifically, this particular statistic have been the basis for the MPAA pushing legislation to force universities to monitor and shut down certain online activities. Officially, the error is being called a “human error” and the MPAA still thinks that the new figure is significant even if one third the original number.

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The New Format Wars: Forget About HD DVD & Blu-ray

HD DVD vs. Blu-rayOnce upon a time, earlier in the battle between HD DVD and Blu-ray, supporters of each side loved to point out the major tech company backing each format to strengthen their positions. It made sense, after all, how could HD DVD fail if Microsoft was behind it? And, of course, Blu-ray would win if Apple was there beside it.

But then, neither company will be affected much if both formats eventually fail. And that’s because, in the end, both Microsoft and Apple minimized their involvement with either format. Continue Reading »