cell phone = remote control

If you have a T39m, R520m, T68 or T68i cell phone and a Macintosh with Bluetooth, you can now use some software to make your phone act as a remote control for your Mac. You can control Powerpoint, Keynote, iTunes, or any other software that can respond to applescript events. It also has a proximity sensor so that things can happen automatically when you walk away from your computer (like pause iTunes or turn on a security webcam).

Courtesy of MacSlash.

The Future of Online Music Distribution?

AOL debuted their MusicNet service this week, marking a major step forward for online music distribution. The service is perhaps the best model I’ve seen of a compromise between the interest of the users and the interests of the “artists” (by which I mean record companies).

MusicNet will essentially allow users to listen to streaming music and download secured versions of songs for playback on their PC. The service will also allow pay-per-burn rates so that users will be able to make their own CDs from downloaded music. Initial rates will be between $4/mo for limited service with no burning, to $18/mo. for unlimited service and 20 burns, which is not bad when you consider that a CD usually costs about $15 and only has 10 songs anyway.

MusicNet offers an alternative to Kazaa-like “stealing” at a reasonable price, and leverages AOL’s connections in the media world and its position as a gateway to the largest segment of internet users who already get monthly bills for their service anyway. Only time will tell if MusicNet will stave off piracy — it may be too little to late. But if lawsuits are sufficient to stop services like Morpheus and Kazaa from operating, MusicNet may be the only alternative left.

Agree? Disagree? Comment!

Commodity Laptops

Doc Searls reports that Lindows is releasing a $800/933mhz Linux laptop. I wonder if this will bring anyone else’s prices down.

Lindows Launches $799 Linux Laptop

here I am, writing from the floor of the Desktop Linux Summit in San Diego, where Michael Robertson, the founder and CEO of the Summit’s local host company, Lindows, has done the same for a much smaller audience (several hundred vs. several thousand) but potentially a much larger market. At the top of his list of announcements is an item that drew a gasp from the audience: a 2.9 pound, $799 Linux laptop, the Lindows MobilePC.

Here are the stats:

  • 933MHz VIA processor
  • 256MB RAM
  • USB 2.0
  • Firewire
  • Ethernet
  • 12.1″ 1024×768 TFT display
  • PCMCIA slot
  • Compact Flash slot

    Michael Robertson tells me “It has the same mini-ITX form factor that’s in the Lindows Media computer.”

    There’s no WiFi or modem capabilities installed, but you can add a PCMCIA card for both. During the break I heard no complaints and plenty of kudos. (Nobody in the room had used one yet, though, other than Michael Robertson, who used the box to give his whole presentation.)

Opera Strikes Back, Muppet Style

The maker of the Internet Explorer alternative Opera Browser has released the latest version with an interesting “feature” — pages from the Microsoft Network are displayed in “Swedish Chef Speak” similar to that from the Muppet Show. The reason? Not that they really need one, but it turns out they did it because Microsoft has intentionally created a system that gives users of Opera different and improperly coded pages from MSN, making it impossible to be an MSN user or even think about it if you’re using Opera.

I don’t know if StreetTech has an award for best zinger of the year, but if we do I’d nominate Opera.

The CSI Effect.

Maybe you watch CSI, or its gorier spinoff, CSI: Miami (motto: Cleavage and Cut Up Corpses!). Apparently the show is having some real-world side effects:

‘CSI’ Effect on Potential Jurors Has Some Prosecutors Worried – December 19, 2002 – Entertainment News – Al Menconi Ministries

An enviable array of real and not-so-real technologies and gadgets are at the disposal of the carefully coifed “CSI” gumshoes as they investigate slain strippers, kidnapped wives of millionaires and maggot-covered bodies found in the Las Vegas desert: DNA analysis; mass spectrometers to test chemical compositions; Luminol, a chemical test causing invisible traces of blood to emit a telegenic blue glow.

There are no real-life budget constraints: Every case gets the full-court press of available tests. There are no time lags for DNA results. Almost no courtrooms or juries either.

Faced with the weight of trace evidence, suspects usually confess.

Case closed.

In one particularly improbable plot line, for example, the intrepid “CSI” investigators are able to find the man who slaughtered a blacklisted sex worker in a snuff video by proving through DNA analysis that her final spurts of blood infected him with HIV – something local DNA experts say just isn’t done. That, however, was only after they’d used video enhancement of the motel-room encounter to discern that the killer had a telltale mole on his neck and to make out a crucial landmark outside the motel room window that allowed them to pinpoint its location using triangulation. Analysis of dirt lodged in the tires of the killer’s car led them to the victim’s body.

Apparently real-life prosecutors are being held to an impossibly high standard because of “The CSI Effect.”

Courtesy of Andrew at the BoingBoing guest blog.

Pyra hits the big time.

Google bought Pyra labs, makers of Blogger. From Dan Gillmor:

Silicon Valley – Dan Gillmor’s eJournal – Google Buys Pyra: Blogging Goes Big-Time

Weblogs are going Googling.

Google, which runs the Web’s premier search site, has purchased Pyra Labs, a San Francisco company that created some of the earliest technology for writing weblogs, the increasingly popular personal and opinion journals.

For Williams and his five co-workers, now Google employees, the immediate impact will be to put their blog-hosting service, called Blog*Spot, on the vast network of server computers Google operates. This will make the service more reliable and robust.

How Google manages the Blogger software and Pyra’s hosting service may present some tricky issues. The search side of Google indexes weblogs from all of the major blogging platforms, including Movable Type and Userland Radio. Any hint of proprietary favoritism would meet harsh criticism.

This is so, so, cool.

It’s all about branding

The Total Information Awareness program has changed their logo from a creepy Illuminati-ish design to a confusing snarl of gibberish. I’m not sure which is scarier. Can you locate yourself on this chart?