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XM, Napster in online music joint venture: Online music vendor Napster Inc. and satellite radio provider XM Satellite Radio are making music together.
The two companies said late on Tuesday they would launch an online service that enables XM's 4.4 million subscribers to buy music they hear on the paid XM radio service.
The two plan to jointly launch "XM + Napster," in the fourth quarter of 2005 in conjunction with the availability of new XM/MP3 players that let users bookmark songs they hear while listening to the radio for future purchases online.
After the MP3 player is connected to a personal computer, the service will match the marked XM titles with songs in Napster's catalog so that they can be purchased.
Subscribers can also use the XM + Napster service to organize playlists using other songs from personal libraries and transfer these unique playlists to the XM players.
Currently XM's MyFi portable radio sells for about $299.
Those XM subscribers without the new MP3 devices, can also tag songs for purchase online through XM Radio Online, a Web-based service.
Analysts have long said satellite radio is likely to converge with music players and other portable devices. XM Satellite is the No. 1 satellite radio provider, directly competing with rival Sirius Satellite Radio Inc. in the nascent market. (Reuters)
Netflix near launch of movie downloads: Netflix is poised to test its long-awaited Internet movie download service, which would broaden its rental business beyond its current DVDs-by-mail offering and fulfill the promise of its name.
Well-placed industry sources confirmed Friday that the Los Gatos company is close to launching an on-demand rental service that is paired with a Netflix-provided television set-top box.
``We have said we're committed to testing a product this year and we expect the test to be of a very modest nature,'' said Netflix spokesman Ken Ross, who declined to discuss the timing of the launch or the nature of the service.
A pair of software glitches on the Netflix site apparently displayed references to the download service. That was detected by Netflix customers and published in recent weeks by blogs devoted to the company, providing hints that it was preparing to launch a download service.
Netflix and TiVo announced last fall that they were jointly developing a service to deliver movies over the Internet. That service, to make its debut sometime this year, would allow those who own TiVo digital video recorders to download and potentially store films they've ordered online.
A TiVo spokeswoman declined to comment Friday.
Source: Mercury News
Did Microsoft Wipe Apple Off the Map?: As software rivals, Microsoft wants to wipe Apple Computer off the map. With
Microsoft's new Web service for satellite photographs, did the world's largest
software company find a way to do exactly that?
Internet sleuths discovered that anyone using Microsoft's new "Virtual Earth" Web site for a bird's-eye view of Apple's corporate headquarters saw only a grainy overhead photograph of what appears to be a single, nondescript warehouse and a deserted parking lot — not Apple's sprawling campus, with 11 modern buildings surrounding a plush courtyard.
Microsoft blames an outdated photograph. But Apple's headquarters in Silicon Valley shows up more appropriately for anyone viewing the same location using Google's mapping Web site, which also combines many of the same government-funded satellite and aerial overhead photographs.
Is Microsoft's version of the landscape a fantasy for Bill Gates?
Microsoft said its new mapping service, made available free during the weekend, was still in its testing phase and includes some older, black-and-white photographs from October 1991 for the neighborhood around Apple's headquarters in Cupertino, Calif. The only dates displayed on the images are copyright notices from 2004 and 2005. (AP)
Japan Plans World's Fastest Computer: Japan has plans to start building a supercomputer next year that can operate 73
times faster than the world's fastest supercomputer, the government said.
The American Blue Gene/L system supercomputer developed by International Business Machine Corp. at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in Livermore, California, currently holds the title of the world's fastest. That machine is capable of 136.8 teraflops, or 136.8 trillion calculations per second, according to Japan's Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology.
Japan wants to develop a supercomputer that can operate at 10 petaflops, or 10 quadrillion calculations per second, which is 73 times faster than the Blue Gene, an official of the ministry said on condition of anonymity.
Kyodo News reported that the total amount for the project is estimated between 80 billion and 100 billion yen ($714 million to $893 million) and the ministry will request 10 billion yen ($89 million) for the next fiscal year's budget. (AP)
Microsoft Begins New Piracy Restrictions: Microsoft Corp. has kicked off a new program aimed at severely curtailing the ways people using pirated copies of its Windows operating system can get software updates.
When a computer user starts to download updates, the new program, called Windows Genuine Advantage, will scan the machine to see if it's running an authentic version of Windows.
If the program detects a counterfeit copy, it will offer two options:
_Customers who fill out a piracy report, provide proof of purchase and send in the counterfeit CDs will get a free copy of Windows Home Edition, which retails for $199, or Windows Professional, which sells for $299.
_Those who simply submit a piracy report — giving details of when, where and from whom the operating system was purchased — and send in the counterfeit copy will get either version of Windows at half price.
The authentication process was optional until Monday. From now on, it will be required for all software updates except security patches.
After prompting customers that their operating systems need to be authenticated, the program will scan the computer, detecting the product number automatically — unless, of course, it's a fake.
Will Poole, a senior vice president in Microsoft's Windows division, said more than 40 million customers took part in the pilot.
The world's largest software maker did not disclose how many pirated copies of Windows it has rooted out since the program began as a pilot program last September. (AP)
USB Devices Can Crack Windows XP: eweek.com has a story on Windows XP vulnerabilities to hackers using a USB device.
Vulnerabilities in USB drivers for Windows could allow an attacker to take control of locked workstations using a specially programmed Universal Serial Bus device, according to an executive from SPI Dynamics, which discovered the security hole.
The buffer-overflow vulnerabilities could enable an attacker to circumvent Windows security and gain administrative access to a user's machine.
This is just the latest example of a growing danger posed by peripheral devices that use USB (Universal Serial Bus), FireWire and wireless networking connections, which are often overlooked in the search for remotely exploitable security holes, experts say.
Full Story: eweek.com
Battlestar Galactica DVD Box Set: The Battlestar Galactica The TV series is finally making its DVD debut After the successful mini-series was released on DVD some time ago, fans of the show were eagerly awaiting the continuation of the Battlestar Galactica and its search for Earth. Finally The four-disc set is packaged in a collector’s edition ‘rainbow holographic mirrorboard’ box and includes all 13 episodes and 50 minutes of deleted scenes.
Universal Home Entertainment has announced a release of the entire first season of the show on September 20. Containing all 13 Episodes from the show’s first season plus the 4-hour Mini-Series, the DVD box set will also contain a selection of Deleted Scenes and a Behind-the-scens Featurette. To round out the release, a Producer and Director’s Commentary will be provided on selected episodes.
Windows Vista Faces Lawsuits: When tech company Vista discovered the title for the new Windows Operating System version, company founder John Wall was not amused.
By naming the next version of Windows "Vista," Microsoft may have stepped on the toes of another software company just down the road in Redmond.
That would be Vista, a business software and services company founded in 1999 by John Wall. He was not amused when Microsoft announced its choice yesterday, setting the stage for a massive rollout when its flagship operating system goes on sale in fall 2007.
Full story here: Seattle Times technology
New Potter book posted on Chinese Web site: Less than 24 hours after the English edition of the latest Harry Potter book went on sale in China's capital on the weekend, the full text of the 672-page tome was available for free on the Internet as an unauthorized e-book, the Beijing News reported on Wednesday.
The Shui Mu Tsing Hua bulletin board service posted the full text of "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" on Sunday, according to the Chinese language daily.
Author J.K. Rowling has long warned readers against unauthorized electronic versions of her work. Her fantasy series enjoys vast popularity in China, however, spawning in 2002 a copycat adventure, "Harry Potter and Leopard-Walk-Up-To-Dragon," by an unknown Chinese author who attributed the work to Rowling.
Using a guest log in, a check of the password-protected electronic bulletin board showed the pirated "e-book" was no longer available under a "chat" thread labeled "Harry Potter," which repeatedly turned up an "error" message instead.
The administrator of the BBS -- affiliated with Tsinghua University, one of China's most prestigious research institutions -- could not be reached for comment.
An electronic publishing expert said that with close cooperation and a digital camera it was possible for a team of people to get such a long book on to the Internet in one day, the daily reported.
A spokesman in the legal department of China's Copyright Protection Office told the daily, "If there is no e-version authorized, then the author's rights have already been infringed." (Reporter)
Grand Theft Auto Game Rating Changed to Adults-Only: The video game industry on Wednesday changed to adults-only the rating of "Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas," a best-selling title in which explicit sexual content can be unlocked with an Internet download.
The decision followed intense pressure from politicians and media watch groups.
Grand Theft Auto's producer, Rockstar Games, said it was now working on a new version of the game that would satisfy the original "M" for mature rating. It said it would provide new labels to any retailer willing to continue selling the version currently on store shelves.
Rockstar's parent, Take Two Interactive, also admitted for the first time Wednesday that the sex scenes had been built into the retail game — not just the PC version but also those written for Xbox and PlayStation2 consoles.
Company officials had previously suggested that a modification created by outsiders added the scenes to the game, last year's best seller in consoles.
"There is sex content in the disc," Take-Two spokesman Jim Ankner told The Associated Press. "The editing and finalization of any game is a complicated task and it's not uncommon for unused and unfinished content to remain on the disc."
The sex scenes, inserted in a game whose main character seeks bloody vengeance on gang-filled streets while pickup scantily clad women, had prompted outrage from parent's groups and politicians including Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y.
In a statement, the president of the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) said the sex scenes were programmed by Rockstar "to be inaccessible to the player." (AP)