The NY Times reports on the heated negotiations that led to the announcement at Macworld that Apple would be dropping Digital Rights Management (DRM) from all iTunes music. In exchange, the music labels were given their long-requested variable pricing model. In addition, Apple was able to secure over-the-air iTunes music downloads for the first time.

Apple, however, was said to have a strong upper hand in the negotiations according to music executives:

Pinger Phone is an iPhone/iPod touch app that provides a contact list combining email, phone, SMS and IM info for all of your contacts. One of the neatest features of the app is its ability to handle text-to-IM chats, which I find useful because I have terrible AT&T coverage around my house; it lets me carry on a text-message conversation using just my wi-fi connection.

Pinger Phone lets you stay online with various IM services, and can notify you of incoming messages as long as the app is open. It also supports (requires, actually) horizontal keyboard mode in text and IM chats, and interfaces well with the phone and email capabilities of the iPhone. The “Contacts” view allows for as-you-type searching of your consolidated contact list (very speedy). iPod touch users can enter any mobile phone number to be notified of incoming messages from a text-to-IM chat. You can also SMS to someone on IM (or vice versa) and when they reply via IM it will show up as a SMS on your iPhone.

They are not dramatic changes, but they are steady and heartening to the Apple universe of users and developers. The trend continues from December numbers, and for Apple, all the trends are good.

Net Applications, a company that tracks operating system and market share by looking at results from search engines, reports that Apple has a 9.93% share of OS users for January of 2009, up from 9.63% the previous month. Windows OS market share measured 88.26% in January, dropping slightly from 88.7% in December.’s Arnold Kim writes that a few of the participants in his website’s forum are eagerly awaiting the arrival on March 29 of a new Nehalem-based Intel Xeon processor — suitable for use in the fastest Mac Pro desktops.

What do these new chips bring to the table? Raw power: TechRadar found that 2.8GHz Nehalem Xeon processors scored a SPECfp benchmark of 160, compared to the current Penryn-based Xeon processors that scored just 90.

(Source:    I’ve got a bone to pick with DreamWorks Animation. Ever since I first saw Kung Fu Panda, I’ve been starting to warm up to them, and now with Monsters vs Aliens on the horizon, I’ve begun to occasionally support them as often as I do Pixar. But today during the Super Bowl they tried to wow audiences with a very gimmicky 3D TV spot for Monsters vs Aliens and it fell apart. Well, maybe not for everyone, but in my eyes (pun intended), it was a fumble that cost them the game. It may have taken a while for me to actually get a pair of 3D glasses, but even with a pair of them on, their TV spot looked terrible!

On the heels of opening a new 8,000-square-foot space in San Francisco last summer, VFX company Ntropic has opened a Los Angeles location to service its growing client base in the commercial, feature film and music video arenas. Designed to facilitate creative collaboration and equipped with the latest technology, the new space can handle visual effects projects of any size. Ntropic recently wrapped VFX work on “The Day the Earth Stood Still,” and worked with Len Wiseman on the third installment of “Underworld,” its first major film project out of the LA office.

(Source:   Lets start off this year discussing one of the more intriguing technical categories: Best Visual Effects.

I railed at length about the marginalization of the visual effects category last year, so I won’t repeat myself here. Suffice it to say that nominating only three movies in the Best Visual Effects category is perhaps the most absurd ritual of the Academy, and this is an institution that practically prides itself on being absurd. The bizarre rules for Best Original Score nominations are one thing, but only three nominations for visual effects is pure lunacy this goes right past Light Speed into Ludicrous Speed.

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