Thursday, September 23, 2004

Tracking down a spammer...

I'm tracking down a spammer from a company called Freeslide that is based out of South Carolina [my home state] - they are the originator of the "Free iPod" semi-scams that are hitting your inbox.

More to come, but here's a few facts:

This company - called Freeslide is actually; Product Test Panel and actually they are and then of course they are also Consumer Research Corporation - and there may be several other aliases thrown in there. At least all of these aliases are associated with same address in Columbia SC, in the DOZENS of emails I have received.

Here's something the guy I have been "talking to" has written:

How the Can SPAM ACT will bring a renaissance in email marketing for 2004 and beyond.

(Make sure you scroll a bit to start reading)

Another interesting point: This "free iPod" "free HP Photo Printer" or "free Toshiba 30" LCD TV" will actually cost you 45% MORE than retail!

You'll have to participate [at minimum] in $361.05 of offers to get a $249 iPod Mini. The owner has stated that, yes but you also get the offers from the "participating programs" - one being Columbia House DVDs. This is the scam for 5 DVDs for a dollar. [cough cough with $7.99 each shipped] + a commitment to more DVDs for 2 more years at $17.99 - $39.99 a DVD (average) + $7.99 EACH shipping. Remember, the average DVD price at Walmart, Best Buy, and other electronics stores for $12.99-$19.99 + tax. In these DVD programs you are sent the "movie of the month" without consent and if you don't send it back you have to pay for it. And that's only 1/4 of the deals you must complete to get your "free iPod".

The owner says, "The words free iPod are NOT misleading."

The owner also had the audacity to imply that I had actually signed up for this marketing program and that he was controlling how his "affiliates" distributed these email lists.

Here is what the CAN SPAM ACT really means.

Update Sept 23 2004: Don't say FixYourThinking wasn't right about this!!

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Give them something, then they mess it up or complain...

" Apple is having problems with content from independent UK artists, according to a report by The Guardian. "Thousands of tracks by independent artists, including the single certain to top the charts tomorrow and all the songs by the Mercury prize winners Franz Ferdinand, are still unavailable on iTunes, three months after its UK launch. Independent record labels spoke of their frustration last night that, despite an agreement to license their music to iTunes, Apple had still not made their work available to fans."

You know, it took Apple a pretty long time to get iTunes perfect here in the US. It also took almost a year for Apple to implement indie artists into the US iTunes Music Store. You can almost be assured that Apple wants as many songs as possible to sell. I say, give it time, and just quit yaya-ing.

"Consumer watchdog, the Consumer's Association (CA) has complained to the UK's Offer of Fair Trading (OFT) that Apple's iTunes Music Store is ripping-off consumers, reports Macworld UK. "The complaint relates to how much Apple charges UK iTunes customers for tracks - 79p, approximately 1.2 Euros. But Apple's French and German customers are charged just 0.99 Euros - a 20 per cent difference for an identical service." 

Look, I'm sure Apple wants to make the pricing as fair and as cheap as possible so they can compete. Because the UK has the wackiest licensing terms and the craziest VAT [ Value Added Tax ] - Apple has to price the songs differently. If you don't like the price, don't buy them! It really bothers me when people say, "gimme gimme gimme" then turn right around and say, "but I want this and more and that, and it's not fair" No, what's not fair is that you ruin it all for ALL OF US. The iTunes Music Store International is more expensive for another subtle reason - having to hire international lawyers to deal with all this whining and PR blather!

"RealNetworks plans to release new software this week that allows songs purchased through its online music store to be played on Apple's iPod -- the first time a company other than Apple has sold songs with DRM (digital rights management) that will work with the popular device. The new technology, called Harmony, was created without Apple's authorization. In April, RealNetworks chief executive Rob Glaser sent an e-mail to Apple CEO Steve Jobs, asking him to license Apple's Fairplay digital rights management technology. Jobs never replied, so RealNetworks created Harmony, Glaser said. "


"Stirring controversy is the development and release of the open source project known as Playfair. Playfair is an application that strips the digital rights management (DRM) info from protected AAC's purchased at the iTunes Music Store, resulting in an unprotected AAC that can be played on any machine. From the project site:

Playfair takes one of the iTMS Protected AAC Audio Files, decodes it using a key obtained from your iPod or Microsoft Windows system and then writes the new, decoded version to disk as a regular AAC Audio File. It then, optionally copies the metadata tags that describe the song, including the cover art, to the new file.

The application is able to strip the DRM information by reading a key found in the user's system, which means that an individual can only deprotect his/her own AAC's. Playfair is a sourcecode download and must be compiled before it can be used."

Wow, Windows and Linux people complain for a year that Apple won't make an iPod specifically for them. Almost immediately after after Apple releases a Windows iPod - multiple sources come out and crack the Digital Rights Management. They ruin it for all of us by adding development costs, attorney costs, and public relations problems. I say if you are going to do something illegal - in this case, reverse engineer a copy protection - why not just do something less complicated and continue to get songs off of LimeWire or Kazaa?

As for Real, the CEO of this company is just a clod. I see his moves as actually a good thing for Apple. I see Real out of business within 2 years time due to his poor judgement and bridge burning .... buffering....7%....buffering .....16%.......

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

There will be an answer .... let it be...

Here's what Wikipedia (online encyclopedia) says about the Beatles Apple Corp lawsuit Against Apple for releasing iTunes:

"In 1981 Apple Corps, i.e. The Beatles filed suit against Apple Computer for trademark infringement. The suit settled with an undisclosed amount being paid to Apple Corps for using the name in contexts not associated with music. This amount has been estimated to $50 - $200 million.

In 1989 Apple added MIDI capabilities to its computers, and Apple Corps sued and won again, with Apple Computer paying $26.5 million in damages. At this time, an Apple employee added a system sound called "xylophone" to the Macintosh operating system, but was forced by the legal department to change the name. It was changed to "sosumi", which was told to be Japanese for "the absence of musicality", but actually should be read out as so sue me.

In September 2003, Apple were sued by Apple Corps again, this time for introducing iTunes and the iPod, both clearly positioned in the music market where Apple Corps own the trademark."

---------- FIX YOUR THINKING COMMENTARY ----------

I disagree with this definition of clearly. Apple has settled in the past and never admitted to wrongdoing. This time I think Apple should either buy out Apple Corp and then sell them to another entity with useage clauses or fight this all the way to an international tribunal at the UN.

Here's your conspiracy theory. Could Rob Glaser of Real Networks, the heads behind Creative and Archos, possibly even Microsoft or Dell be behind some of this in part - at least to consult with the Beatles attorneys?