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Ambrosia’s Andrew Welch on the iPhone update and iToner

Posted on October 3rd, 2007 at 20:48 by John Sinteur in category: Apple


I’m frustrated, honestly. With iToner, we worked very, very hard to make sure we did things the right way. We didn’t hack into the phone at all, we didn’t “jailbreak” it – we used the same APIs that iTunes uses to put files on the iPhone, and we put those ringtones in the user area of the phone. This is why iToner ringtones survived OS updates.

Then Apple rolled out their iTunes music store sale of ringtones… and they broke iToner. The way they broke it seemed excessive, but understandable from a programming point of view, so we rapidly came out with a fix. The first few weeks of iToner’s life was nothing but coffee, code, and sleepless nights for people here at Ambrosia, so as such, sure, it’s frustrating that it’s broken yet again.

We’re not putting anything but data on the iPhone, and we’re doing it in the right way, and we’re putting it in the user area of the iPhone. Apple is intentionally making sure that products like ours don’t work. That I think is a mistake – it’s as if in an iPhone OS update, Apple decided that MP3s you got from ripping a CD should no longer play on your iPhone, and you should instead buy them from their store.

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  1. It’s actually pretty funny how blindsided I think Apple has been by the growing backlash against the iPhone. I think they never considered the idea that many early adopters would be Apple loyalists used to doing as they pleased on their Macs and expecting the same freedom on their shiny new expensive toy. Their leap into bed with onerous mega corps like At&T is going to kill their image, and rightly so. Everything they are doing is being driven, or so it seems, by this wedding with the cell phone carrier market. All the carriers make a mint selling ring tones, games, and more to customers, so of course Apple wants a slice of that. They get a little chunk of all the AT&T sign ups, I believe, and no doubt they want to have iTunes in place so in 2 years time when the iPhone goes 100% officially region free, they’ll have an establish hub to drive content sales. They can’t hope to do that on the Mac to the same degree. It’s like MS with DirectX and the Xbox/360. Sure, Direct X is free, but if you want to be an Xbox/360 dev, that’ll cost you, despite being nearly identical code. As a result of all this, Apple may watch their loyal base wither and die. Perhaps this is needed to make the push from niche cult product to mass market giant, but the adverse publicity and bad word of mouth could hurt worse than they might have imagined.

  2. What image? You mean the “we are a control freak, evil in a different way from Microsoft” image?
    Apples has always been a corporation, with the goal to make money.
    They are no different. They just coat more sugar when needed.

  3. I hate double posting. *sighs*

  4. The “we’re a life-style brand, we’re ooooooh so cool, and we’ll make you look cool too with our “it just works” goodies” image they’re trying (and currently failing) to cultivate.

  5. I’ve deleted the double for you 🙂

  6. I see.. the sugar coating 🙂
    Don’t get me wrong, I like/dislike both Apple and Microsoft equally 🙂

Green Grass

Posted on October 3rd, 2007 at 20:12 by John Sinteur in category: What were they thinking?


Record heat. Extreme drought. But the grass must stay green!


And thus the human race will extinguish itself from the planet through gross mismanagement of water resources, not with a bang, or a whimper, but with the soft shk-shk-shk-shk of a billion goddamn lawn sprinklers.

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Local court in Berlin prohibits retention of personal data

Posted on October 3rd, 2007 at 18:33 by John Sinteur in category: Privacy


In a ruling, dated March 27, 2007, which has only now been published and is likely to have legal ramifications, the local court of the Berlin district of Mitte has barred the Federal Ministry of Justice from retaining personal data acquired via its website beyond the periods associated with the specific instances of use of the site. Thus IP addresses in particular may no longer be filed away. Given these Web markers “it is even today possible in most cases, without any elaborate effort being required, to identify Internet users by merging personal data with the help of third parties,” the judges declared. The local court also opposed the view espoused by operators and some data privacy watchdogs that security reasons justify a recording regime that over short periods of time maps the behavior of all Net users and allows individual users to be picked out.

As the recording of behavior – in the form of logfiles or clickstreams, say – that allows individual users to be identified has meanwhile become common practice, the court’s decision, which is now no longer subject to appeal, is, according to Patrick Breyer, a lawyer associated with the German Working Group on Data Retention, who was the plaintiff in the above case, something of a signal for the Internet industry as a whole. Large commercial net portals such as Google, Amazon and eBay were not prepared to dispense with recording regimes of this kind, he observed. “Even the Deutsche Bundestag [the lower chamber of Germany’s Federal Parliament] is at present — in violation of its own legislation — logging the behavior of the users of its Internet portal on a just-in-case basis,” Mr. Breyer pointed out. He called on all public authorities, departments and agencies of the German Federal State and of the federal states comprising the Federal Republic to abandoned their “illegal data retention policies” by the end of this year at the very latest. “Otherwise additional lawsuits will have to be filed,” he added. The lawyer has made a model complaint available on his website.

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  1. So what are the implications? Apache log files are now illegal? Wikipedia may no longer ID anonymous edits using an ip address? What’s the jurisdiction of this court?

  2. Jurisdiction? Local court in Berlin, so we’ll have to see what happens in other similar cases first. And log files aren’t illegal, you just aren’t allowed to keep them beyond bookkeeping purposes, so once you’ve sent the hosting bill to the site owner, you must delete the files. Since at that point you’re done using them to check how high the hosting bill must be. Or, if it’s on your own server, once you receive the bill from your bandwidth provider, they’re done being legal.

Microsoft beefs up Zune music and community experience

Posted on October 3rd, 2007 at 18:04 by John Sinteur in category: Intellectual Property, Microsoft


The Zune Marketplace is officially adding DRM-free music support, launching with over a million DRM-free MP3 tracks.


In other news, Satan just sent out for a snow-shovel.

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Posted on October 3rd, 2007 at 17:57 by John Sinteur in category: Cartoon

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NS dicht beveiligingslek in website

Posted on October 3rd, 2007 at 17:34 by John Sinteur in category: Security


De NS heeft een beveiligingslek op haar website gedicht waardoor een aanvaller toegang tot klantgegevens kon krijgen. Op het klantendeel van de NS site was het voor mensen die nog geen NS account hadden mogelijk om zich met behulp van hun NS klantnummer aan te melden. In het aanmeldproces werd om het klantnummer gevraagd, de te gebruiken inlognaam, wachtwoord en het e-mailadres. Naar dat e-mailadres werd vervolgens een bevestigingse-mail gestuurd, waarna kon worden ingelogd.

Het aanmeldproces controleerde niet of het desbetreffende klantnummer al een inlognaam had. Ook werd niet gecontroleerd of van het desbetreffende klantnummer al een e-mailadres bekend was en zo ja, of dat overeenkwam met het nieuw ingegeven e-mailadres. Wat het aanmeldproces wel deed, was het nieuw aangemaakte account op de achtergrond koppelen met het dossier van het desbetreffende klantnummer.

Een aanvaller zou met kennis van iemands klantnummer, zijn of haar account kunnen “stelen” en vervolgens al diens persoonlijke gegevens bekijken en aanpassen. Denk bijvoorbeeld aan waar iemand woont en zijn of haar telefoonnummer. Ook was het mogelijk op naam van die persoon producten, zoals bepaalde abonnementen, te bestellen.

De vinder van de bug had met het mij dinsdag al gemeld, maar ik vond het wel zo netjes de NS even de kans te geven het op te lossen. De vinder is ook vandaag heel netjes bedankt door de NS…

dank je, leon!

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Prosecutor drops charges against Good Samaritan

Posted on October 3rd, 2007 at 15:52 by John Sinteur in category: ¿ʞɔnɟ ǝɥʇ ʇɐɥʍ


Union County’s prosecutor has decided to drop charges against a Good Samaritan who came to the aid of a pedestrian.

Monica Montoya is charged with resisting arrest and obstructing the administration of law.

A judge is Roselle Park is expected to accept the prosecutor’s recommendation on Thursday.

Montoya was trying to catch a bus to pick up her daughter from school when she came upon the scene of the accident in June.

Police asked Montoya to translate for the Spanish-speaking victim. Montoya said she was arrested when she tried to borrow a cell phone to call a friend to get her daughter.

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Defense bill provides home for earmarks

Posted on October 3rd, 2007 at 15:49 by John Sinteur in category: ¿ʞɔnɟ ǝɥʇ ʇɐɥʍ


The Pentagon insists it has enough C-17 Globemaster jets, which are partly manufactured in Texas and used by the Air Force to ferry troops and weapons to hot spots around the globe.

Nevertheless, lawmakers from the Lone Star State and elsewhere recently inserted in a defense authorization bill a requirement that the military buy 10 more aircraft at a cost of $2.4 billion.

The project is among the billions of dollars of earmarks, or special funding items, tucked into several defense measures recently approved by the House and Senate for the coming fiscal year.

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Pilot said ‘this is fun’ before fatal Blackwater crash

Posted on October 3rd, 2007 at 15:33 by John Sinteur in category: ¿ʞɔnɟ ǝɥʇ ʇɐɥʍ


A 2004 crash that killed everyone on board — three crew members and three U.S. troops — was caused by pilots from a Blackwater plane taking a low-level run through a mountain canyon in Afghanistan, testimony revealed Tuesday.

“I swear to God, they wouldn’t pay me if they knew how much fun this was,” the doomed plane’s cockpit voice recorder captured the pilot saying shortly before the November 27, 2004, crash.


Federal investigators found each should have been paired with a more experienced aviator, according to Rep. Henry Waxman, D-California. Waxman is chairman of the oversight committee, which is investigating Blackwater’s performance on more than $1 billion in U.S. government contracts since 2001.

He said a company e-mail stated the company had overlooked experience requirements “in favor of getting the requisite number of personnel on board to start up the contract.”

“The corporation hired inexperienced pilots. They sent them on a route they didn’t know about,” Waxman said. “It seems to me that it’s more than pilot error. There ought to be corporate responsibility, and Blackwater was the corporation involved.”

Prince said investigators concluded the crash in Afghanistan was not due to corporate error, but pilot error. He rejected Waxman’s contention that the pilots “acted like cowboys.”

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  1. Wouldn’t surprise me if the investigators deciding that Blackwater wasn’t to blame were Blackwater contractors themselves. Seems to be the way that works these days.

Chili sauce

Posted on October 3rd, 2007 at 14:19 by John Sinteur in category: News

I can’t help but like the Fark headline for this:

You know it’s a good chili when hazmat teams seal off your street

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Sony BMG’s chief anti-piracy lawyer: “Copying” music you own is “stealing”

Posted on October 3rd, 2007 at 11:20 by John Sinteur in category: Intellectual Property


Testimony today in Capitol Records, et al v. Jammie Thomas quickly and inadvertently turned to the topic of fair use when Jennifer Pariser, the head of litigation for Sony BMG, was called to the stand to testify. Pariser said that file-sharing is extremely damaging to the music industry and that record labels are particularly affected. In doing so, she advocated a view of copyright that would turn many honest people into thieves.

Pariser noted that music labels make no money on touring, radio, or merchandise, which leaves the company particularly exposed to the negative effects of file-sharing. “It’s my personal belief that Sony BMG is half the size now as it was in 2000,” she said, thanks to piracy. In Pariser’s view, “when people steal, when they take music without compensation, we are harmed.”

Pariser has a very broad definition of “stealing.” When questioned by Richard Gabriel, lead counsel for the record labels, Pariser suggested that what millions of music fans do is actually theft. The dirty deed? Ripping your own CDs or downloading songs you already own.

Gabriel asked if it was wrong for consumers to make copies of music which they have purchased, even just one copy. Pariser replied, “When an individual makes a copy of a song for himself, I suppose we can say he stole a song.” Making “a copy” of a purchased song is just “a nice way of saying ‘steals just one copy’,” she said.

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First-Gen Zune Getting All The New Features: This is How You Treat Your Customers

Posted on October 3rd, 2007 at 11:17 by John Sinteur in category: Apple, Microsoft


The first generation 30GB Zune—which 1.2 million of you already purchased—is getting all the new Zune’s features. All. Sure, the new Zune is more of a half step forward than a completely new design. But Microsoft’s done something fantastic here by rewarding first gen buyers with cool new stuff that also happens to be free by software upgrade. And talk about spin— Microsoft just took a middling jump in hardware and turned it into a genuinely good move for loyalists (as well as a PR miracle). Are you paying attention Apple?

Of course, Apple is also giving all the new iPhone features to current iPhone owners, so the argument is a little bogus, but it shows that people are really pissed about Apple taking away third party features.

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Learning to live with Big Brother

Posted on October 3rd, 2007 at 9:15 by John Sinteur in category: Privacy, Security


These days, data about people’s whereabouts, purchases, behaviour and personal lives are gathered, stored and shared on a scale that no dictator of the old school ever thought possible. Most of the time, there is nothing obviously malign about this. Governments say they need to gather data to ward off terrorism or protect public health; corporations say they do it to deliver goods and services more efficiently. But the ubiquity of electronic data-gathering and processing—and above all, its acceptance by the public—is still astonishing, even compared with a decade ago. Nor is it confined to one region or political system.


If the erosion of individual privacy began long before 2001, it has accelerated enormously since. And by no means always to bad effect: suicide-bombers, by their very nature, may not be deterred by a CCTV camera (even a talking one), but security wonks say many terrorist plots have been foiled, and lives saved, through increased eavesdropping, computer profiling and “sneak and peek” searches. But at what cost to civil liberties?

Privacy is a modern “right”. It is not even mentioned in the 18th-century revolutionaries’ list of demands. Indeed, it was not explicitly enshrined in international human-rights laws and treaties until after the second world war. Few people outside the civil-liberties community seem to be really worried about its loss now.

That may be because electronic surveillance has not yet had a big impact on most people’s lives, other than (usually) making it easier to deal with officialdom. But with the collection and centralisation of such vast amounts of data, the potential for abuse is huge and the safeguards paltry.

Ross Anderson, a professor at Cambridge University in Britain, has compared the present situation to a “boiled frog”—which fails to jump out of the saucepan as the water gradually heats. If liberty is eroded slowly, people will get used to it. He added a caveat: it was possible the invasion of privacy would reach a critical mass and prompt a revolt.

If there is not much sign of that in Western democracies, this may be because most people rightly or wrongly trust their own authorities to fight the good fight against terrorism, and avoid abusing the data they possess. The prospect is much scarier in countries like Russia and China, which have embraced capitalist technology and the information revolution without entirely exorcising the ethos of an authoritarian state where dissent, however peaceful, is closely monitored.

On the face of things, the information age renders impossible an old-fashioned, file-collecting dictatorship, based on a state monopoly of communications. But imagine what sort of state may emerge as the best brains of a secret police force—a force whose house culture treats all dissent as dangerous—perfect the art of gathering and using information on massive computer banks, not yellowing paper.

And if you think Roe vs Wade is about abortions, you’re wrong.

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AT&T Welcomes Programmers for All Phones Except the iPhone

Posted on October 3rd, 2007 at 8:33 by John Sinteur in category: Apple


This is what Steve Jobs, Apple’s chief executive, said to Newsweek in January:

“You don’t want your phone to be an open platform,” meaning that anyone can write applications for it and potentially gum up the provider’s network, says Jobs. “You need it to work when you need it to work. Cingular doesn’t want to see their West Coast network go down because some application messed up.”

That sounds reasonable until you realize that there are many millions of phones that run operating systems from Palm, Microsoft and others for which third-party applications are created all the time, and networks don’t seem to be crashing as a result.


AT&T has a very extensive Web site devoted to encouraging developers to write programs for its phones on half a dozen platforms. It does discuss the iPhone, but it points out that Apple only allows limited applications that work through the Safari browser.

So why would AT&T be worried about network problems caused by an iPhone and not from these other phones? Michael Coe, an AT&T spokesman, wouldn’t say.

“The company that decides which third-party apps go on the iPhone is Apple,” he said. I pressed him for one example of a concern that might be a reason for Apple to limit third-party applications.

“It seems to me that you are trying to pit us against Apple,” he said. “We are not going to get into an Apple vs. AT&T discussion.”

What’s especially odd here is that Apple has indicated that it will eventually allow third-party developers. This is what Steve Jobs told Walt Mossberg at the D conference:

This is a very important trade-off between security and openness. We want both. We’ve got good ideas, and sometime later this year, we can open it up to third-party apps, and keep security.

And hackers who have explored the workings of the phone say it uses the frameworks and structures that Apple uses on its other platforms to enable development; it just hasn’t been documented. So if Apple is going to allow applications later, is there any reason — other than vindictiveness or obsessive interest in control — that it would want to cut off those developed by the pioneers who figured things out ahead of the official launch?

AT&T should know a thing or two about the deterioration of the quality of telephone service argument.

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