Author: Joe Wilcox

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Spanish Solidarity

I would like express my solidarity with and condolences to the people in Spain whose lives were ripped apart by this week’s devastating and unconscionable bombing.

But, watching Spaniards fill Madrid streets with grieving and protest elicits great regret. Americans acted more like victims following the 9-11 attacks that felled both World Trade Center towers. Rather than outrage, Americans withdrew—from traveling, spending, and living. Raised fingers looked to blame everyone but ourselves. 

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A Switcher Confesses

Last week, I bought Apple’s 15-inch PowerBook, marking my most-recent switch back to the Mac. The decision, nearly five years to the day after buying my first PowerBook, marked the final chapter in my back-and-forth switch between Macs and Windows. I’m a Mac user now, although Windows will remain vitally important for work.

My struggle ensued, in part, because of Microsoft’s success at creating, for non-Windows users, barriers to entry—to the Internet and key software categories. I also wobbled back and forth because of concerns using a Mac would hurt my work, first as a reporter and later an analyst covering Microsoft. 

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RIAA Taketh, and Pepsi Giveth Away

The Pepsi ad promoting the big iTunes Music Store 100-million song giveaway debuts tomorrow during the Super Bowl. The spot [Editor: original link replaced] features 16 kids busted by music industry copyright cops for illegally downloading or trading tunes. The ad’s music bed is “I Fought the Law”, which artist I don’t recognize.

Plenty of rip-roaring versions are out there, from Bryan Adams, The Clash, Dead Kennedys, Stray Cats, and others. Oh, and the Bobby Fuller Four broke into the Top 10 with the song during the mid 1960s. 

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Whatever Happened to the Free Spirit that spawned the Modern Internet?

This afternoon, I was reading a story about cancelled flights—more concerns about terrorist threats—over at MSNBC. The story included an interactive element that lets the reader try out being a baggage screener for two minutes. Beneath the interactive element, “Can You Spot The THREATS?” is this option: “License this Interactive for your Web site.” Clicking through leads to Rights Links (powered) by Copyright Clearance Center, Inc. The cost: $99 for a single Website. Yeah, you read that right. MSNBC is charging for that interactive element.

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Let’s Eat at the Audio Lunchbox

I discovered a cool, new music site today. I was looking around MusicMatch, which had profiled The Distillers album “Coral Fang.” I listened to the songs first on MusicMatch MX radio; some rad punk. So I checked out the band’s homepage where there was a post about The Distillers going digital, with songs for sale over at Audio Lunchbox.

Audo Lunchbox is a legal download site hawking indie music. Lots of it, and stuff you’d buy from Apple’s iTunes Music Store (that means rights protection) or one of those Windows Media Audio outfits like MusicMatch (that also means rights protection). The problem with the rights-protected (a.k.a. digital rights management) stuff isn’t the restriction on playback (three PC cap for most music) but the compatibility. Apple’s music format and WMA aren’t compatible. The songs usually won’t play in the same media player or portable music player. 

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Windows XP: Game Over

If you’ve got kids, kids’ games and Windows XP, you’ve problems. You see, Microsoft appears to have ignored an entire category of software during Windows XP compatibility testing: Educational and edutainment software for kids. If you have a closet full of hand-me-down games for that four or five year-old previously used by an older sibling, plan on turning many of them into coffee coasters.

Windows XP may have been on the market for more than two years, but plenty of kids games won’t work well or run at all on the operating system. If your kids have a beloved game for which there is no new version and you’re thinking about getting a shiny, new Windows XP PC, plan on keeping that older Windows machine around for awhile.