Amazon has launched a public beta of its long-anticipated digital music download store, offering more than 2 million songs as MP3 files. Tracks from EMI and Universal Music Group, music from another 20,000 independent labels, and $0.99 downloads. Most tracks are variable bit rate 256kbps MP3 files, though the occasional track is encoded at constant bit rates. Large, high-quality album art comes embedded in each file.
Dark Australian patent cloud looms over 802.11n spec
The Register reports that the IEEE group assigned to work on the 802.11n project is holding urgent meetings to assess whether another engineering organization may pose a threat to the 802.11n spec. The other organization is the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO), which holds patents it says are essential to the development and deployment of 802.11n technologies—and, unlike other groups participating in the specification drafts—CSIRO has not signed a Letter of Assurance.
Apple: firmware update likely to make unlocked iPhones "permanently inoperable"
Apple said today that a firmware update to the iPhone due to be released later this week "will likely result" in SIM-unlocked iPhones turning into very expensive bricks. "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," said Apple in a statement issued this afternoon.
DRM advocates getting nervous about consumer backlash
At the Digital Rights Strategies conference in New York City, a similar message could be heard: "DRM doesn't anger consumers, content owners abusing DRM anger consumers." The growing backlash against DRM is causing dissension in the pro-DRM ranks. Paul Sweeting's excellent report on the DRS conference records the frustrations of the DRM community at the tactics of the content industry. They apparently feel that an overzealous content industry is abusing DRM; this is a bit like Smith & Wesson complaining that bullets can kill.
Critical Acrobat Reader security flaw exposes Windows to arbitrary exploits
A security researcher and self-described hacker known as "pdp" claims he has found a critical exploit in Adobe's Acrobat software that can compromise many Windows PCs simply by viewing a maliciously-crafted PDF file. The flaw affects both Windows XP SP2 and Windows 2003; Windows Vista, OS X, and Linux users are unaffected.
GNOME 2.20 officially released
The GNOME community announced a new release today after six months of development. GNOME is a desktop environment primarily used on Linux and other open-source platforms. GNOME 2.20 includes numerous improvements and new features that benefit users, administrators, and developers.
Intel announces, demonstrates USB 3.0
One of the announcements to come out of the IDF keynote this afternoon was Pat Gelsinger's discussion and demonstration of USB 3.0 technology. Although still in the prototype stage, USB 3.0 is aiming for 10 times the bandwidth of current USB2.0 solutions, or approximately 5Gbps. Since this requires fiber optic cabling, USB 3.0 will add a length of optical data cable to the mix, though USB 3.0 will retain full compatibility with USB 2.0 (and, one assumes, USB 1.0 as well).
Britney Spears/Larry Lessig remix done to exacting MediaDefender "chop-and-screw" specs - Boing Boing
"The leaked Media Defender e-mails contain a serious of 'approved' instructions for how to create 'chopped and screwed' versions of popularly-searched mp3s using a variety of odd techniques, which result in damaged versions of the songs users hope to download. In this blog entry, I discuss these instructions, as well as provide an example of all these techniques being put to use on the new Britney Spears single, 'Gimmie More,' (now featuring readings from Lessig's 'Free Culture'!)"
eMusic selling DRM-free Random House audiobooks - Boing Boing
Random House and eMusic have begun to sell DRM-free audiobooks on their site. This is pretty big news, since iTunes has an exclusive deal with Audible for ebooks, and Audible won't sell non-DRM ebooks (though they have other non-DRM products), even when the author doesn't want any DRM
Pirate Bay suing major media companies for sabotage, based on MediaDefender leak - Boing Boing
ThePirateBay has been digging through the enormous chunk of leaked email from MediaDefender, the sleazy enforcers used by the entertainment industry to fight P2P, and they've discovered evidence of illegal sabotage. So they're suing all the big movie and record comapnies in Sweden:
Office 2003 SP3 released
The Microsoft Office division has just released Service Pack 3 for 2003, and it is available for download through Office Update or directly from Microsoft's web site.
Ask Lifehacker: Open Text Selection as URL? - Lifehacker
With Auto Copy installed, when you select text on a page, hit its right-click context menu to open that text as a URL in a new tab, paste it into the search box or location bar. This feature also comes in handy with long emailed URLs that wrap and aren't clickable.
Microsoft readies 'Halo 3' video game for launch - Software - www.itnews.com.au
Video game aficionados lined up before dawn on Monday for the midnight release of "Halo 3," the acclaimed alien shooter game that Microsoft hopes will widen its lead over Sony in the battle for industry dominance.
Microsoft Vs. Europe: EU pundits want Windows-less PCs - Operating Systems - www.itnews.com.au
An influential European think tank has released a position paper calling for PCs to be sold in the EU without pre-bundled operating systems like Microsoft Windows.
Wii wows with Star Wars light sabre - Software - www.itnews.com.au
LucasArts has revealed that Star Wars: The Force Unleashed will be coming to Nintendo's Wii, allowing gamers to live out their Jedi fantasies by wielding the Wii Remote as a light sabre.
Google, IBM take another run at Microsoft's Office suite - Software - www.itnews.com.au
No vendor has come close to breaking Microsoft's grip on PC applications, but they keep trying. Google, IBM, OpenOffice.org, and Yahoo last week gave it another go.New products from those companies are cheaper, delivered as a service, more collaborative, or more open than Microsoft's Office apps--in some cases, all of the above.
Sounds promising until you realize what they're up against: IDC puts Office's market share at around 95 percent.
Slashdot | Microsoft to Buy 5% of Facebook Valuing at $10bn
"The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Microsoft is poised to buy 5% of Facebook for $300 million to $500 million, valuing the company at up to $10 billion. Microsoft already handles advertising for the site."
Screenshot Tour: Desktop Show and Tell, Linux Edition - Lifehacker
From the wholly minimal to the completely ornate, the Linux desktop has never been sexier.
Linux Tip: Gently Restart a Frozen System - Lifehacker
Linux users: On your next system freeze, when CTRL + ALT + BACKSPACE leaves you high and dry, don't reach for the power button. Rather than forcing the system to shut down (which can do quite a bit of damage to your system—especially if data is being written to the hard drive), the FOSSwire web site explains a safer technique for restarting your system. 1. Hold down the Alt and SysRq (Print Screen) keys. 2. While holding those down, type the following in order. Nothing will appear to happen until the last letter is pressed: REISUB 3. Watch your computer reboot magically.
Digg - The 7 Most Influential GNU/Linux Distributions
An insider's look at the top distros, revealing both their strengths and their weaknesses.
Digg - Preview - Ubuntu Gutsy Gibbon, GNOME 2.20
Preview - Ubuntu Gutsy Gibbon, GNOME 2.20
Digg - OpenOffice.org Free Software Proves a Success at WalMart
On July 18th 2007, Everex launched its first 'Back to School' PC with OpenOffice.org 2.02 into WalMart stores throughout the United States. The response was fantastic.
Digg - Coming soon: automatic Linux driver upgrades
Linux users want two things for their hardware: drivers; and easy access to those drivers. The first is finally happening; and now, thanks to a Dell Linux project called DKMS (Dynamic Kernel Module Support), the other is on its way.
Digg - Intel: Why Open-Source Drivers Work
StarDict - The best free dictionary program in linux and windows
StarDict is a Cross-Platform and international dictionary Software. It has powerful features such as "Glob-style pattern matching", "Scan selection word," "Fuzzy query," etc. Stardict Version3.0 has developed a lot of new functions, such as Full-text translation, Net Dict.