wey-hey I got the new iPod nano but …

Sync in Progress
Originally uploaded by Andrew*

I was quite surprised to find the new iPod nano 3G along with the rename iPod classic was available in Australia 2 days after Steve Jobs announced it (it was Wednesday in San Fran, but Thursday in Oz). I through pure power of will alone resisted the temptation to buy it then and there, my facade broke by Tuesday and like the iPod whore I am I ordered one online and it arrived yesterday, which was Friday.

First off it looks great and I have shown it to a good few cynical engineers that are known of their skepticism for geeky gadgets, but even they were impressed.

However I have already ran into two problems. Firstly after I loaded up my default playlists and then disconnected from the computer the nano would freeze. It appeared to be some thing to do with the new cover flow application trying to arrange the images. After a few resets of the nano it started to play ball. However any time I disconnected from the PC it would start freezing again. Then this morning when I connected to iTunes it informed me that there is a 1.01 firmware upgrade (bare in mind this device was only release 9 days earlier ) after I updated the firmware the problem seems to have gone away. I have done a search on a 1.01 firmware for the apple nano 3G and can’t get any details on what was fixed so I can only assume that the cover flow issue I was seeing.

Problem number 2, I hate iTunes, I’ve run it on I don’t know how many machines and I find it clunky, buggy and I have successfully crashed many times. I especially don’t like the way it doesn’t dynamically track a folder that has been added to a library. It should be removing files that are no longer present and adding new files (which is usually just me moving files around as I catalog them) which it doesn’t. Winamp I find is a lot better for this and I have been using it for my iPod video for a while. However when I plugged in the new nano, winamp recognised the nano alright, and I copied over playlists. However when I ejected the nano and started trying to browse the music, nothing. I found that strange and didn’t think too much about it.

Then I find the internet alive this morning with the linux community finding the same problem, “iPods reengineered to block synching with Linux“, I’m guessing this is the same problem I’m seeing in winamp. This is a surprise. After Steve Jobs writes his magical letter coming out against DRM to find that they are employing DRM tatic to stop 3rd party apps from downloading to new iPods. Hopefully people can find a way to circumvent this. Apparently the DRM tactic uses SHA-1 hashes to maintain it’s database tables, SHA-1 has been proven to be breakable and maybe that can be exploited (though currently to achieve a successful collision is considered within reach of massive distributed Internet search).

With all that said, I can’t wait to see the iPod touch once it comes out at the end of the month.

Apple / Nokia – Blood in the water

Originally uploaded by tnkgrl

“Comrades we sail into history”

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to look at a big event before it happened. It is very easy to look into the past and pick out when political or technological change occurred, it is much harder the other way around. However one of those nexus points of history is upon us.

Apple finally has a competitor that can compete with it, Nokia. Apple has all but dominated the mp3/mobile audio space since the launch of the iPod in 2001 (yes that long ago) but recently Steve Jobs and his skivvy wearing brethren had the temerity to move into the mobile phone space with the launch of the iPhone. Apple have been successful because the have made stylish music players never had any competition from the likes of Microsofts Zune or Creative MuVo.

Nokia, however, have been playing the stylish mobile device game even before Apple launched their iPod, they had the express-on covers for the Nokia 5110 that came out in 1998 (and my first mobile) and they knew it was just providing the technology but also the humanity, and they made a lot of money with the 5110 one of the most popular mobile phones ever.

So if you cast your net out on the internet today it should be no surprise that on the same day that there are rumours of Apple launching a wireless iPod and associated wireless iTunes, Nokia have launched their online music website.

Apple has dominated mobile music for a long time and seemed unassailable with the DRM lock in that allowed then to sign up the 5 major labels they did. However following Steve Jobs magic letter on DRM in February there is now a move away from DRM which lowers the barrier for entry for competitors into mobile music.

Nokia has tried and failed to enter different areas of the mobile space it didn’t belong, the N-Gage for example was a miscalculation, (however they have ported N-Gage games into the S60 platform so it wasn’t for nought). However they have maintained their dominance as they are never afraid to learn and adapt to the new models. As Nokia’s Executive VP & General Manager of Multimedia, Anssi Vanjoki ,said, said when images of a Nokia iPhone knock were released “If there is something good in the world then we copy with pride.” Nokia may not win the new mobile internet/music race but by jingo they will give Apple a run for their money if they don’t. Sit back and enjoy the ride.

Wireless Apple – Jobs game plan becomes clearer

One of my original posts on this blog was to call Steve Jobs a big fat liar, which I admitted at the time might have been a bit to harsh. However I wasn’t convinced that he had listed all his concerns with DRM and the Apple implementation, Fairplay, in his famous “Thought on Music” letter in February 2007. At first I thought that it was some thing fundamentally wrong with the current released version of Fairplay that Apple engineers knew but had yet to make it into the wild.

However AppleInsider today have a write up about a patent they found filed by Apple in September 2006. detailing a technique for one mobile device communicating with another.

“The mobile devices can then wirelessly transmit data from one mobile device to the other”

The natural extension of this is have iPod and iPhone swapping and sharing information seemlessly. Sounds pretty good (remember back in September 2006 Apple had yet to announce the iPhone)

iphone meet photo ipod, originally uploaded by b. andy andy andy d..

This, I believe, is one of the reasons Steve Jobs wanted iTunes to move away from been forced supplying and maintain DRM files. So far they have been able (barely?) to keep the DRM model working, as long as a computer must to use to download music to the iPod. However if Apple want to put add in the functionality as detailed in the patent, one mobile device pretty much transmitting data ad-hoc to another mobile device, supporting the current DRM gets problematic fast. First they would have to spend time getting it to work, getting two client devices to maintain DRM would be more complicated than the current host/client situation that is used. Then, more than likely, it would be cracked which won’t be as easy to fix as updating iTunes is, which would make Apple look bad. The solution make sure that Apple start moving away before the iPhone is released, Jobs letter on music was one month after the iPhone was announced.

So while Steve Jobs as always is less than honest about his intentions as listed in his letter, this is probably another example of how he is way a head of the game and on the way to making pant loads of even more money.

Is Steve Jobs a big fat liar?

Originally uploaded by marble2.

OK liar is a bit harsh, how does less than truthful work? I like every body was taken a back recently with Steve Jobs open letter on DRM Link. It definitely seems timely and must have had some impact as EMI seemed to have signed up for a DRM free service from iTunes (but in an interesting move the DRM free songs cost more and are supposed to be of higher quality). DRM is also getting thrashed arround the head with the various hacks been found to the new HD-DVD and Blu-Ray formats :

AACS Cracked Again

However over the weekend I was thinking, what if Steve Jobs stated reason for wanting to move away from DRM was not for the reason stated in the open letter, some thing along the lines that the music exists in the world already DRM free, thanks to CD. What if there is a chronic or fatal flaw in the FairPlay system? One that can’t be software or firmware fixed and old Steve there is containing and spinning the situation to push companies like EMI into a DRM free world before a flaw in the scheme does it any way. I suppose it is a very pessimistic view of the world however any plot or scheme to move to a DRM free world, however to get there works for me.