Denki News

July 31, 2006

iTunes Music Store Special Report, Part 5: eMusic — A DRM-less Alternative

Filed under: iPod & iTunes — icruise @ 9:32 am

As I suggested in Part 2 of this series, Apple probably didn’t have any other choice but to use DRM for their downloads when they were setting up the iTunes Music Store. The music industry was paranoid enough about piracy that they would never have let their top artists’ music appear in digital form if it wasn’t somehow tied to the purchaser. But since then at least one major music store that does not use any DRM in their music has appeared — I tried this site out recently, and here are my impressions. (More after the jump.)



Intec Color Game Screen review — Make your GameCube semi-portable

Filed under: Video Games — icruise @ 8:00 am

I was at Toys R Us recently when I saw that they were having a clearance sale on some video games and accessories. In particular, they had Intec Color Game Screens for the GameCube on sale for $30 (regularly $130). These kinds of accessories had always struck me as being a little silly, although I could see that it might be useful for someone who wanted to have a console in their van or boat. But I suppose I was influenced by all the thinking I had done recently about making your own portable versions of game consoles, because I decided to buy one. (More after the jump.)


July 29, 2006

Roll your own portable console (NES, SNES, N64, PS2, GameCube, Xbox…)

Filed under: Video Games — icruise @ 5:37 am

I remember loving the Super Nintendo (SNES) when I was in my early adolescence. I would even fantasize about a way to make it portable. Of course at the time, that was just craziness. Even if you didn’t mind toting around a huge console, there were no suitable screens available. I also doubt that the battery technology of the day would have been up to the task, and in any case I was just a kid with no engineering skills whatsoever. And so that dream died. However, it did come true in a roundabout way with the introduction of the Game Boy Advance, which is essentially a portable SNES, albeit one that can’t play any of the original SNES games without having them reissued in another form. And the DS sort of made my dreams of a portable Nintendo 64 come true as well. But even though you can play Super Mario 64 on the DS, the great majority of N64 library is still locked away in their dusty gray cartridges.

However, now there are some people who are actually creating the systems that I dreamed about so long ago. Basically, they’re taking apart the original consoles and rearranging the innards (sometimes cutting things and re-soldering them) so that they will fit into a portable enclosure with a screen and (usually) a battery. Pictures of some of my favorites after the jump. (more…)

July 26, 2006

Why I don’t use Linux (much)

Filed under: Macintosh — icruise @ 10:41 pm

In the past few weeks there have been a few high-profile Mac bloggers writing about how they are switching to Ubuntu Linux. Mark Pilgrim and Cory Doctorow‘s main beef with the Mac OS seems to be that it is a (mostly) closed platform and the file formats for Apple’s major applications are similarly closed, making it difficult to get your data out once you’ve put it in. I’m simplifying here, but that seems to be gist of it. Bryan O’Bryan, who ran the Mac site ResExcellence, has a bit of a different reason. He’s fed up with Mac users picking nits about his free site and seems to think that the Mac community is full of, for lack of a better phrase, mean people. He also has complaints about the stability of Apple’s software, but he makes it clear that it was the Mac community that tipped him over the edge.

I’ve used Ubuntu briefly, and an embedded version of Linux known as Qtopia fairly extensively. And I hate it. Let me try and explain why. (More after the jump.)


July 25, 2006

Apple servicing stained white MacBooks

Filed under: Macintosh, Portables — icruise @ 9:38 pm

Apple has quietly added a Knowledge Base article that reads, in its entirety:

“If your MacBook is exhibiting discoloration on the top case after some use, please contact AppleCare for service.

This seems to be tacitly acknowledging the problem I wrote about a while back, where parts of white MacBooks would turn a nasty yellowish brown after only a moderate amount of use. It’s good to hear that they are taking care of the problem, although its cause is still unclear. It certainly isn’t a problem that affects the majority of MacBooks, however.

[via TUAW]

July 23, 2006

iTunes Music Store Special Report, Part 4: Removing DRM from iTMS Songs

Filed under: iPod & iTunes — icruise @ 4:06 am

Since the introduction of the iTMS, a number of programs (such as Hymn) have appeared that allowed users to remove the FairPlay DRM from purchased songs, producing AAC or MP3 files that have no restrictions with regard to their use. However, aside from the fact that using these programs is a violation of the iTMS user agreement, there is no program that I know of that is capable of removing DRM from tracks downloaded with the latest version of iTunes (version 6.0 and later). Luckily, you can burn every track downloaded from the iTMS to CD, and this makes it possible (if time consuming) to convert the music that you have downloaded to a different format, free of DRM restrictions. (More after the jump.)

July 16, 2006

iTunes Music Store Special Report, Part 3: Potential Problems

Filed under: iPod & iTunes — icruise @ 9:17 pm

In Part 1 of this series I detailed the rules behind Apple’s FairPlay DRM scheme. I think most people would agree that if you have to have DRM, FairPlay isn’t really that bad. But there are some other issues that anyone wanting to buy from the iTMS should keep in mind. (More after the jump.)


July 15, 2006

iTunes Music Store Special Report, Part 2: Criticisms of Apple’s FairPlay DRM

Filed under: iPod & iTunes — icruise @ 11:23 pm

A lot of fuss has been made over DRM recently, and ironically Apple has been at the center of much of it. I say ironically because Apple’s FairPlay DRM is probably the best implementation of DRM that I’ve heard of. It’s certainly one of the easiest to understand, and as a regular iTMS customer I’ve rarely felt the DRM rules to be a problem. However, some people are against DRM as a matter of principle and since Apple has some 80% of the online music market, FairPlay has come under fire. The people behind Defective By Design have even gone so far as to stage protests at Apple Stores. (More after the jump.)


iTunes Music Store Special Report, Part 1: FairPlay DRM Explained

Filed under: iPod & iTunes — icruise @ 9:50 pm

In this multi-part special report I’m going to examine some issues that all users of the iTunes Music Store should be aware of. First of all, I’d like to look at DRM (Digital Rights Management). DRM ties the songs or video that you download to you, making it so that other people can’t use them, and it also usually includes limitations on the ways that you can use the content that you download. DRM serves a couple of different purposes. From the standpoint of the record companies, its main purpose is to prevent people from sharing music over the Internet. For companies like Apple or Microsoft, it also serves to lock the consumer in to their particular service and prevent them from switching to competing services. (More after the jump.)


July 11, 2006

Nintendo shows its true colors

Filed under: Japan, Video Games — icruise @ 2:00 pm

I was at a Japanese Toys R Us the other day looking at the video games and I was struck by the sheer number of color variations that Nintendo has for its products. For those of you counting, that’s 6 colors of GameBoy Advance, 4 colors of GameBoy Micro, 5 colors of old-style DS, 3 colors of DS Lite (soon to be joined by “Noble Pink“), plus 4 colors of GameCube. Whew! And that’s just what’s in the store! They’ve had all sorts of other colors and limited editions in the past as well.

It’s true that the color variations help attract a new customers. I know some people who would be more likely to get something like a DS Lite if they knew they could get it in pink, for example. But it’s also been Nintendo’s strategy for a long time to make regular minor changes to their product line, altering it just enough to warrant a repurchase. I wonder how many people have more than one of the same machine, just because they wanted a different color?

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