According to Fortune, the Copyright Royalty Board in Washington D.C. is expected to rule on Thursday about a request by the National Music Publishers’ Association to increase royalty rates for downloads from online music stores such as iTunes. The request asks for an increase in rates from 9 cents to 15 cents a track. It should be noted that this group represents the copyright holders of songs and is distinct from the record companies themselves.

Understandably, Apple is opposed to the rate increase and, in a statement submitted to the board, even suggested that Apple might close iTunes altogether:

Flash Magazine reports on comments made by Adobe’s Sr. Director of Engineering Paul Betlem during a Town Hall meeting at the Flash on the Beach Conference.

Betlem provides some followup for comments made by Adobe’s Chief Executive Shantanu Narayen in March. Narayen claimed that Adobe would develop an iPhone Flash player themselves and release it through the App Store. There was some debate about the feasibility of this given the restrictions of the iPhone SDK.

Betlem now confirms that an Adobe Flash player for iPhone depends entirely on Apple’s approval, but claims that a player could be made available “in a very short time” if they are given the go ahead.

An anonymous Apple reseller has stated that they received an e-mail from Apple with instructions to remove all Apple TV displays and literature and to destroy them (which I assume means throw away the literature, send back the Apple TVs) by September 30, 2008 at 5 PM. Additionally, the e-mail says that there will be a webcast “kick off” on September 30.

Incidentally, September 30 IS a Tuesday (and the last day of the September quarter), making all of this information, very, very interesting.

(Source: Wired)

iphone-safari.jpg

With the iPhone v2.1 software out of the door, Apple is hard at work on v2.2. From this first glimpse it looks like Apple, now that the major bugs have been squashed, is adding some new features.

The screenshot, unearthed by iPhone Atlas, shows a new Safari interface. Above you see a shot from my iPod Touch (left) next to a picture of the new v2.2 Safari. In the new browser, Google gets its own search bar (instead of popping up when you hit the regular URL bar) and the reload button has been moved the address bar, a purely aesthetic change which helps the text-entry areas to look bigger.

There’s a substantial amount of whispering about an anticipated “October Surprise” around the corner, but it’s not the usual sort — multiple sources have suggested that there is an Apple product introduction due on or about October 14. This hinting, combined with the refresh clock ticking away on the laptop line, leads us to suspect that new MacBooks and MacBook Pros are coming up soon — but what of The Brick?

If another Apple product announcement is coming on the heels of a mid-October laptop refresh, and if it’s the “product transition” mentioned in the earnings call last quarter, where Apple’s margins will be squeezed enough to merit a warning to analysts, it’s going to have to be something different. A TUAW source has passed along the following (unconfirmed) details on a possible new product — and several of our commenters may be on the right track.

Imagine a portable Mac reduced to the form factor of a modest tablet (the size of a Newton), with a solid-state drive, multitouch display, and wired/wireless docking capabilities to convert to a full workstation wherever you choose to park yourself. This is the suggested ‘Brick’ product, allowing you to “carry everything with you” without the burden of a full laptop. The MacBook Air, our source indicates, was in some respects a technology greenhouse for the engineering chops needed to build the next-gen portable.

We always thought that the RIAA’s first-ever filesharing trial victory against Jammie Thomas was a little suspect since the labels weren’t required to prove that Thomas even had Kazaa installed on her machine or was the person using the account in question, and it looks like the court agrees — it’s just declared a mistrial and set aside the $222,000 judgment on the grounds that simply making copyrighted works available for download does not constitute copyright infringement. That’s a huge decision — the “making available” theory is the basis for most of the RIAA’s legal arguments — and it means that the RIAA will now have to prove the unauthorized transfer of each song it wants to collect damages on at the new trial. We’ll see what effect this has in the broader sense — we’ve got a feeling we’re in for a slew of appellate decisions on both sides of the “making available” debate — but for now it looks like the good guys are finally starting to score some points.

AppleInsider provides some reassurances that MacBook and MacBook Pro updates must be imminent with the new models having reportedly been spotted by sources.

The new 13″ MacBooks, 15″ MacBook Pros and 17″ MacBook Pros are said to share similar Aluminum-based look “as if they were members of the same product family”. The current MacBooks and MacBook Pro are very distinct from one another with the MacBook housed in a white or black plastic enclosure.

Again, the new designs were described as a cross between the 13-inch MacBook Air introduced this January and the aluminum iMacs that made their debut during the summer of 2007. In its April report, AppleInsider noted this would include a trimming — or tapering — around the edges and instances of black material to contrast the largely aluminum motif of the new notebooks.

In an effort to further reduce the notebook footprint, the new MacBook Pro is said to be eliminating the Firewire 400 port and the 28-pin DVI-I (Dual Link) port. Instead, the cases will contain the smaller (but still backward compatible) Firewire 800 port and “what appears to be” a mini-DVI port.

The friendly folks over at Macenstein have a theory about The Brick — a widely-rumored Apple product that may be debuting mid-October. So far, all we really know is the code name: “The Brick.”

Many speculate that it refers to the form factor of the product — whatever it may be — but Macenstein has a different take: it’s the Windows breaker. Get it? Like a real brick with a real window.

Apple may have a plan to pull significant market-share away from Microsoft using this product (or series of products). If true, it could be the missing piece of the puzzle that executives hinted about in Apple’s Q3 conference call in July.

Metadata found on Microsoft’s creative copy used in its ‘I’m a PC’ ad reveals that the graphics were actually produced using Macs running Adobe Creative Suite 3. After the details were published on the Flickr photo sharing site, Microsoft scrambled to polish off the embarrassing details last night

Microsoft’s new ad features contrasts a “stereotyped PC user” dressed up like John Hodgman in Apple’s Get a Mac ads with a number of people who say, “I’m a PC” apparently to affirm that they run Windows.

However, not even Microsoft itself can wean itself off the Mac, as the metadata discovered by Flickr user LuisDS points out. Microsoft was not only using Macs but also Adobe’s software in place of its own Expressions Studio, which the company bills as software that “takes your creative possibilities to a new level.”

I'm A PC

Cosmovox by Leisuresonic is an intriguing iPhone app. Essentially, it’s a theremin hopped up on music-theory steroids. While it does a decent job of emulating first-gen Star Trek sounds — using the iPhone’s accelerometer to translate vertical rotation into pitch with a continuous tone — it ups the ante with a very complete set of scales: Major, Minor, Harmonic Minor, Major Bitonal, Pentatonic … even heading East a bit to Okinawa and Hirajoshi (in case you want to play a digital koto) scales. All total, there are over 30 scales available, as well as a set of controls for adjusting modulation, beating, vibrato and doing other fine-tuning.

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