Apple iTunes 8 Released


via DVICE by Charlie White on 9/9/08


Apple announced a new version of iTunes media playing and shopping software today, taking it up from version to version 8. Headlining the new release is a new sidebar Apple calls “Genius,” a software routine that’s also in the company’s latest music players that can automatically make a playlist by watching what songs you listen to most. It lets you pick a song, and then it builds a list of similar tunes. Its intelligence is enhanced if you choose to send data about your listening habits to Apple’s mother ship, where that’s compared to the preferences of scads of other users. What about your privacy? Steve Jobs says it’ll all be kept confidential.

Sounds great, but it’s not anything new. You can get a similar routine from free web-based music service Pandora Radio, with the main difference being that you don’t have to buy or steal any tunes to use it. The field of apps containing similar features might become less crowded, though, if Pandora is sunk by record company honchos and their accomplices.

Those of us addicted to HD video will like the fact that Apple has finally added HD capability to iTunes (just in time for NBC to add a slew of HD shows back into the iTunes store). So now you don’t have to have an Apple TV to buy, rent and watch HD content from Apple. Standard-def shows that are normally $1.99 will be $2.99 in HD. The iTunes 8.0 software will be available for free download today.

Zune 3.0 video blowout with just a hint of Zune phone

via Engadget by Thomas Ricker on 9/8/08

You’ve seen the PR, now check the videos. The zunitedcommunity just posted four introductory videos straight outta Redmond — three demonstrate the new WiFi Marketplace, buy from FM, and Channel features in the 3.0 firmware while the fourth demonstrates the updated desktop software with new Zune mix, improved Now Playing view, and new Picks view auto-populated to reflect your listening habits. CNET News also had the chance to get some hands-on time courtesy of Zune’s Joe Belfiore. Joe confirms that WiFi access to Marketplace only works from hotspots that don’t require a browser-based login (duh) while once again hinting at future Xbox and Zune integration since “both stores are based on the same technology.” He also confirms that the 3.0 firmware will work with all Zune devices as we expected. Curiously, when asked about accessing your Zune music collection from a phone, Joe responded by saying, “that’s another really interesting device that you may someday see us do work on but nothing that we’re announcing here today.” Funny response since CNET asked him about accessing Zune music from a phone, not a Zune phone. See all five videos after the break.

[Via Zunited, thanks Ryan and Milo]

Continue reading Zune 3.0 video blowout with just a hint of Zune phone


Preview the new Facebook profile page

via Download Squad by Brad Linder on 7/14/08
Facebook new profiles

Facebook will soon be rolling out a new site design that, among other things, will change the way your profile looks. But you can check it out today by logging into your account and then visiting

One of the most prominent new features will be an emphasis on the mini-feed. In fact, it might be safer to start calling it a news feed, since it’s not so mini-anymore. When you first view a profile, what you’ll see is a list of recent activity on that account.

You can also click on tabs for Info, Photos, or Boxes. Info brings up your contact information, group membership, and other info. Boxes shows all the Facebook apps that are currently littering your main profile page. And we’re going to let you figure out for yourself what shows up in the Photos tab.

[via Mashable]

Update: Facebook seems to have disabled the page sometime in the last few hours. But trust us, it looks something like the image above!

Windows Vista SP1 RC Refresh available to the public

via Engadget by Darren Murph on 1/14/08

Just as Microsoft did last month with Vista SP1 release candidate, the latest build (dubbed SP1 RC Refresh) has been loosed from its privately held shackles and is now available for the public to descend upon. According to ZDNet, Redmond decided to make this iteration publicly available “in the interest of gaining additional tester feedback.” Of note, you will likely be forced to install “two or three updates” before SP1 RC Refresh can be installed, but we know you’re quite unconcerned with all the fine print. Nevertheless, that verbiage (and the download link) is waiting below.

[Via ZDNet]

Windows XP Service Pack 3 FAQ

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t’s time to say goodbye to an old friend. Windows XP Service Pack 3 (SP3), due in the second quarter of 2008, will be the final XP service pack , according to Microsoft. It can’t come a moment too soon: XP SP2 (see my review) shipped over three years ago at this writing, and the company has since shipped hundreds of hot-fixes for the OS, giving users a painful updating experience, with multiple reboots. XP SP3 will consolidate all of these fixes into a single package and, surprisingly, add a few new features, including some that–go figure–debuted first in XP’s successor, Windows Vista. Here’s what I know about Windows XP Service Pack 3.

Q: What is Service Pack 3?

A: Windows XP Service Pack 3 (SP3) is the final Windows XP service pack, a collection of previously-released fixes and product enhancements, as well as a few new features that are unique to this release.

Q: Does SP3 include everything from SP1 and SP2 or do I need to install those first?

A: Because XP SP3 aggregates all of the previously-released XP fixes, you will not need to install SP1 or SP2 first: XP3 includes everything that was in those updates as well. That said, the same SP3 installer will work fine on any version of XP, regardless of which service packs and fixes were previously installed.

Q: Windows XP SP2 was released over three years ago. Why the delay on SP3?

A: While Microsoft is an enormous company with over 77,000 employees worldwide and over $50 billion in annual revenues, its organizational structure actually constrains which products are actively developed in some cases. For example, while a large team of developers, product managers, and program managers are involved during the ramp-up to any major OS release, Microsoft then pushes the product into its support organization for follow-up development in the form of hot-fixes, service packs, and so on. Other teams work on out-of-band updates that are typically shipped via the Web and, eventually, a new or existing team is constituted to work on the next major release and the entire process begins anew.

With Windows XP, however, Microsoft was forced to temporarily halt development on XP’s successor, Windows Vista, in order to complete XP SP2. That’s because this release, though provided to customers for free as a typical service pack, was in fact a major OS upgrade and was developed outside of the company’s support structure, a first for any service pack release. After XP SP2 was completed, the people involved with that project moved onto other things, typically Vista or Windows Server 2008.

In the case of Windows XP SP3, Microsoft simply dedicated every available employee it could to completing Windows Vista, which by that time was years behind schedule. So it’s only been since the beginning of this year that anyone turned their attention back to XP’s next and neglected service pack.

Q: What are these new features I keep hearing about?

A: Windows XP Service Pack 3 will not include any major new features, but it will include four minor new features that improve the system’s reliability and security. Contrary to reports, Microsoft has been very up-front about these functional additions for quite some time now.

These new features include:

Network Access Protection compatibility. Announced years ago, this feature allows Windows XP machines to interact with the NAP feature in Windows Server 2008. This functionality is built into the RTM version of Windows Vista as well.

Product Key-less install option. As with Windows Vista, new XP with SP3 installs can proceed without entering a product key during Setup.

Kernel Mode Cryptographics Module. A new kernel module that “encapsulates several different cryptographic algorithms,” according to Microsoft.

“Black hole” router detection algorithm. XP gains the ability to ignore network routers that incorrectly drop certain kinds of network packets. This, too, is a feature of Windows Vista.

And that’s about it. Nothing dramatic, as promised.

Q: That’s it? Is there anything else?

Nothing else new. There are updated applications, which shipped long ago as separate downloads, like Internet Explorer 7 and Windows Media Player 11. And there are even some features that have been removed, like the taskbar-based Address Bar option.

Q: Why is Microsoft even bothering to release this update? Isn’t everyone moving to Windows Vista?

A: Given the relative security, stability, and reliability of XP with SP2, and the subsequent release of Vista, XP SP3 may seem like a pointless update, but nothing could be further from the truth. Many businesses will roll out new XP-based PCs in the coming years, and as anyone who’s had to update an XP SP2 system can tell you, the 100+ updates that Microsoft has shipped since SP2 can be a nightmare to deploy. If you’re already running XP and have been regularly updating your systems all along, the release of XP SP3 will be a minor event. But if you have planned XP deployments in the future, look very carefully at this release and consider it the baseline for your next generation of PCs. Or, you could always consider Vista, which will of course be updated with genuine new features far longer than will XP.

Q: When will Microsoft ship XP SP3?

A: The company says that Windows XP Service Pack 3 will ship in the second quarter of 2008, or about three months after Windows Vista Service Pack 1 and Windows Server 2008. However, you can now download a near-final version of XP3, the Windows XP SP3 RC refresh.

–Paul Thurrott
October 12, 2007
Updated October 21, 2007; December 5, 2007

Apple revs security updates to fix Safari crashing bug

If you already installed either Security Update 2007-009 or Safari 3 Beta 3.0.4 Security Update for Windows, you may have noticed a wee bit of instability in Safari post-update. The behavior in question is euphemistically described by Apple as “an unexpected termination of the Safari application when browsing to certain web sites,” or translated into English: Safari go boom now.

Fortunately, before heading out to celebrate Christmas with their long-suffering families, Apple security engineers cranked out 1.1 updates to both the recent security patches, available for download now. If your Safari experience hasn’t been all it can be since the updates, try the new patch versions and see if they improve matters.

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PlayStation 3 XviD Playback Update: It Works, Kinda

Huzzah! I’ve discovered why XviD files didn’t work in the PlayStation DivX Playback test. Apparently, streaming over Windows Media Player 11 does not work for any XviD files and most DivX files, but it does work fine if you load the files onto an external USB drive or burn it to a DVD. But there’s a workaround, kind of.

The best alternative to get “streaming” to work with Windows Media Player 11 is to first locate the file you want to watch over the network, then press the triangle button and copy it to your PS3. The same file that couldn’t play back a minute ago will happily render itself when viewed off the PlayStation 3’s hard drive.

It seems to us that the fault may either lie with the way that WMP11 streams files or the way that the PS3 plays back streamed files over the network—we’re not sure. If the PS3 supported SMB networking, this problem might be eliminated. We’ll have to check back in the future if and when they do add this feature.

Sorry for the confusion everybody! When I got DivX, and not XviD, to stream correctly, I assumed that XviD does not work. I should have tested it on an external drive as well. But hurray, XviD works fine on PS3. Thanks for checking up on us.

Update: I just did another test, and EyeConnect on Macs seem to stream DivX and XviD just fine for me. So it looks like a WMP11 problem. Has anyone else gotten it to support streaming w/ WMP11? TVersity seems to stream alright on PCs too, according to some users.

Update 2: Just re-confirmed that TVersity works for me, but the same files that work in TVersity don’t work streaming over WMP11. Very strange.

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