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Aesop RockUnderground rapper and hip-hop producer Aesop Rock will be the latest artist contributing to the Nike+iPod ecosystem with the release of his new Nike+ Original Run mix, available this Tuesday, February 13 on the iTunes Store. You can hear a preview of the new Nike mix on his MySpace page. Aesop Rock is the third artist to be tapped for the Nike+ Original Run series — 45-minute continuous music mixes designed especially for running — following both LCD Soundsystem [iTunes link] and The Crystal Method [iTunes link]. Continue Reading »

iPod nano 1.1.2
Looks like Apple has quietly released a minor software update for the second-generation iPod nano. When I connected my nano to iTunes this evening I was greeted by software version 1.1.2. Unfortunately, Apple’s not very forthcoming about what issues are addressed by the new version, and I wasn’t able to find any details on Apple’s support site. Sometimes it takes Apple a day or two to get the support documentation in sync with thier releases, so I’ll check back after the weekend. I received a few emails yesterday from readers reporting the nano update, but each time I checked, it hadn’t shown up for me yet. I should note that the software update only seems to apply to the second-generation nano. When I connected my first-generation nano, it showed as being up-to-date with software version 1.3. Continue Reading »

Daring Fireball has posted a thorough summary of Steve Jobs’ recent Thoughts On Music article, as well as some of the Internet reaction and analysis. It’s a good read, though for some, Daring fireball can be an acquired taste. I used to stay away from the site, because it seemed like everything I read there was written by an angry, opinionated jerk. A turning point for me happened at Macworld this year, when I saw Daring Fireball’s writer, John Gruber, interview Panic Software’s founder, Cabel Sasser. Gruber seemed like a pretty reasonable and interesting guy, so I gave his site another try. And you know what? It’s pretty reasonable and interesting. This article is a good introduction to Daring Fireball, and a good place to start if you haven’t already been overloaded with “Thoughts On Music” coverage.

Daytrotter is Wired

I first stumbled upon Daytrotter late last year, and since then it has become one of my favorite (and most regularly visited) music sites. So it was great to see them get some big-time exposure in this month’s Wired magazine. What sets Daytrotter apart from most other indie music websites is that they actually invite bands to record in their old-school, analog studio and then post the recordings to the site as free downloads. Here’s how they describe the setup:

Recorded live at Futureappletree Studio One in downtown Rock Island, Ill. The name of the city is not ironic. These artists use borrowed instruments, play with their touring mates, and leave behind a pile of ashes, sometimes a forgotten stocking hat, and four absolutely collectible songs that often impart on whomever listens to them the true intensity that these musicians put into their art, sometimes with more clarity than they do when they have months to tinker with overdubs and experiments. These songs are them as they are on that particular day, on that particular tour – dirty and alive.

Continue Reading »

Sure to light up the Internet for days to come, Steve Jobs has posted a message on the Apple website laying out his (and the company’s) position on Digital Rights Management (DRM) and “closed” music distribution systems. In it, Jobs reminds readers that it was the music companies who demanded DRM be put in place before agreeing to the usage terms that Apple wanted provide for its customers. Jobs reveals that part of the agreement with the music industry was to fix any breaches of the DRM within a certain time-frame, which makes licensing Apple’s Fairplay DRM to third-party vendors tricky:

On the surface, this seems like a good idea since it might offer customers increased choice now and in the future. And Apple might benefit by charging a small licensing fee for its FairPlay DRM. However, when we look a bit deeper, problems begin to emerge. The most serious problem is that licensing a DRM involves disclosing some of its secrets to many people in many companies, and history tells us that inevitably these secrets will leak. The Internet has made such leaks far more damaging, since a single leak can be spread worldwide in less than a minute. Such leaks can rapidly result in software programs available as free downloads on the Internet which will disable the DRM protection so that formerly protected songs can be played on unauthorized players.

An equally serious problem is how to quickly repair the damage caused by such a leak. A successful repair will likely involve enhancing the music store software, the music jukebox software, and the software in the players with new secrets, then transferring this updated software into the tens (or hundreds) of millions of Macs, Windows PCs and players already in use. This must all be done quickly and in a very coordinated way. Such an undertaking is very difficult when just one company controls all of the pieces. It is near impossible if multiple companies control separate pieces of the puzzle, and all of them must quickly act in concert to repair the damage from a leak.

Continue Reading »

This is really great news. Fresh Air, the public radio interview program brilliantly hosted by Terry Gross, has been added to the iTunes store as a free podcast. Archived episodes have been sold on iTunes for some time via the relationship with Audible, and the show’s so good I’ve bought a few (like this show featuring singer/songwriter Steve Earle). The interviews are almost always interesting, even if the guest isn’t someone I care about. But it’s the reviews at the end of the show – movies, music, TV, books – that are my favorite part of Fresh Air. They always seem to make whatever they’re reviewing seem fascinating, and I’ve discovered (or re-discovered) a lot of great stuff thanks to this show. So I’m perpetually bummed that I don’t get to listen more often. Continue Reading »

Some favorite iPod-related links from the past few days.

Studying video has never been so easy
ESPN reports that iPods are sweeping the major leagues. Baseball players have found a great new way to study game video.

The A-Z of my iPod
Tired of your current playlists? Psychotic Monkey hits on a novel playlist-making idea that encourages deep iTunes digging. I think I’ll give this a try soon.

Transformers bust out of Nike Free shoes
Robot. Shoes. Awesome.

Apple iTunes Store Environmental Impact
Great article. Still, it made me miss the boxes of CDs I have in storage.

I have nothing against Microsoft’s new Vista operating system. Heck, I haven’t even seen it running on a computer yet. But today’s A Mac User Switches To Vista article from MSNBC.com gave me a laugh. It’s not that I find the premise of the headline somehow unbelievable — I’m sure there are Mac users who will opt to make their next computer a Windows PC — but that after a glowing four-page review, the writer ends with these words:

But I really miss that peaceful, Zen-like quiet I felt with my Mac when I’d wake it up or put it instantly to sleep. For me, it just works right, without really having to think about it.

So I decided to switch again. From Vista, back to the Mac — to the brand new, white MacBook on which I told this story.

So my questions are: Did the editor who wrote the headline read the whole article, or is the misleading headline an attempt to put a pro-MS spin on the piece? Or is the it just linkbait to get more people to read about Vista? My money’s on the linkbait angle. Which means I’ve just been suckered into doing some Vista shilling. (Do I get my free laptop now?)

Happy Shuffle Day

iPod Shuffle Colors
Apple’s marketing ability never ceases to amaze me. They announce the coolest product in the world, they sell millions of them, and just as demand starts to wane, they announce an upgrade that makes the old one seem dull by comparison. Today we saw this happen with the colorization of the iPod shuffle. Colors were obviously in the cards from the beginning, but Apple played it smart by letting the design of the 2G shuffle take center stage when it was first introduced, and then using the color reveal to boost sales after the holiday season. Today’s reaction around the Net reminds me of the stampede at the toy store for Malibu Stacy’s new hat. Who else but Apple and “PetroChem Petrochemical Corporation” could get away with this? Continue Reading »

…And We’re back.

Sorry for the brief hiatus. I upgraded my WordPress installation to version 2.1 late last week and have been chasing down a vexing bug ever since. The upgrade went smoothly enough, and everything seemed to be working just fine… until I tried to save some changes to my sidebar widgets. My admin panel would return the dreaded “Cannot modify header information” error. Now, I’ve been hanging around the WordPress forums long enough to know that this error is often caused by excess white space either before or after the opening or closing php tags on the page specified in the error, which was /wp-includes/functions.php. But no matter how many times I tried to fix it, the error persisted. I even did a clean installation of WordPress on another server and copied the virgin functions.php file over here. No luck. Finally, as I was tinkering around today, I remembered the functions.php file in my current theme’s directory. It’s not in the /wp-includes/ directory, but I figured I’d give it a shot. Sure enough, after I deleted the excess whitespace, everything was fixed.

So the moral of the story is, if you get a “Cannot modify header information” error pointing to your /wp-includes/functions.php file, don’t forget to also check the functions.php file that’s part of your WordPress theme.

Now, back to our regularly scheduled iPod content.

Today’s best iPod links:

‘iPhone’ Search Volume Already Greater Than ‘iPod’
– from Hitwise
How does Apple maintain iPhone momentum between now and launch? Maybe they don’t need to do anything.

The Insanely Great Songs Apple Won’t Let You Hear – from Slate
Not sure how this is Apple’s fault. Still, a good read. I’ve been wishing for an international iTunes Store since day one.

Confessions Of A Former iPod Hating Runner (Part I)
– from The Final Sprint
Paul Petersen prepares to run with an mp3 player for the first time. Looking forward to part II.

SquiPod iPod Cozy – With Tutorial/Pattern – from Crafster
Cute DIY knit iPod cover. Oh yeah, it looks like a squid.

Danish blogger, climber, and Mac enthusiast Jonas Rabbe has posted a thorough review of his new Nike+iPod Sport Kit. While Nike+iPod reviews are a dime-a-dozen these days, Jonas includes an insightful look at how the Sport Kit experience could be improved, which makes the review well worth reading. Continue Reading »

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