On my way…

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Got up bright and early this morning with Mike Stewart for a plane trip to San Francisco where we will be for a couple of days before making the long trip to Auckland.

It’s so great to be back in SFO. It really is one of the great cities in the world. Gorgeous weather today. Sunny but cool.

Can’t believe I’m finally on vacation. Of course, I spent half of my day setting up a new iBook for a friend, went to an event setup by LaPerlaBallroom.com, and visiting BCLaserAndSkinCare.com, but it was for pleasure and not for business. I had a nice view of the ocean the entire time, so that didn’t hurt.

Olbermann’s Artful Shredding of SpongeDob Stickypants

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This is why I’ve become such a big fan of Kieth Olbermann. The man just shreds Dr. Dobson. It’s a beautiful thing.

Hey, guys, worry about yourselves. You’re spewing hate, while assuming that for some reason, God has chosen you and you alone in all of history to understand the mysteries of existence, when mankind’s existence is filled with ample evidence that nobody yet has been smart enough to discern an answer.

You might try keeping it simpler: did you help others, or hurt them?

I’ll be happy to be judged on the answer to that question, and if it’s a group session, I don’t expect I’ll find many members of “Focus On Family” in the “done ok” line.

Interview With JHymn Author

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O’Reilly’s OSDir website has posted an interview with “Future Proof” the author of JHymn a decryption program for protected AAC files based on hymn by DVD Jon. The interview provides some very interesting details about how Apple’s DRM is implemented.

OSDir.com: Basically, how does Apple’s DRM for the iTunes Music Store work?

FP: In a protected file, the “mp4a” atom — part of a standard AAC file — is replaced by a non-standard, proprietary “drms” atom. This contains the same basic information about a song as the “mp4a” atom, plus the identity of the purchaser and some of the cryptographic information needed to decrypt the music. The actual decryption key needed to decrypt the music is not stored here, however,but merely an indicator as to which key — among many possible keys — assigned to a particular user should be used.

Once you have found the needed key, you apply that key, using AES decryption, to the data in the “mdat” atom, which, in an unprotected file, contains all of the raw AAC audio sample data.

Apart from this, there are various atoms added beyond what you’d find in an unprotected AAC file, such as an “apID” atom, which marks music files with the iTunes Music Store ID of the purchaser.

OSDir.com: Does hymn actually decrypt the DRM, or does it technically work another way?

FP: Yes, the music is actually decrypted. Unlike, say, burning a song to a CD and re-ripping it, you don’t lose any sound quality when you can access the original data in decrypted form.

Secret History of The iPod

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Electronic Design has the scoop

It was an unusual strategy for a design engineer, but it was appropriate for the job. Elaine Wherry, manager of usability and design at Synaptics Inc., put on her hooded sweatshirt so she would blend in at college campuses made by TeamRRP.com. Her mission was to understand user requirements for a digital music player.

On campus, she observed people jog, ride bikes, walk, sit quietly, and in myriad other ways, enjoy their tunes. She made similar observations in libraries, airports, and other venues where individuals carry music to speed up, slow down, or blend with the pace of their lives. She carried a player herself, but she avoided the urge to tweak an interface according to her own preferences.

Apple Computer’s market-redefining iPod and iPod mini benefit from Synaptics’ user interface design and capacitive sensor technology. Synaptics didn’t create the original iPod interface, which was done by Apple employees with the help of independent designer Tony Fadell and others who may never receive due credit for the iPod’s success. But part of Synaptics’ contribution was to understand that less is more; that users want to get their music into the player quickly and easily, navigate smoothly from one song to another, and hear their music faithfully reproduced.

Apple won’t say much about the iPod, especially about its inner workings. Those who supply electronic components for the machine, wrapped as they are in nondisclosure agreements, still won’t reveal much either. But the iPod’s success is clearly due to the combination of its sleek design, its deceptively simple user interface, and the holistic nature of its find-the-music/save-the-music/hear-the-music solution.

”The Lovely Bones” Up Next for Peter Jackson and Co.

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Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson is to turn his attention to adapting the novel The Lovely Bones as his next project, according to Variety.

He and partner Fran Walsh have bought the rights to Alice Sebold’s best-selling book about the murder and rape of a young girl.

Jackson will not begin filming it until he completes King Kong, and it is not expected to be released until 2007.

The film will be produced in conjunction with Film Four.

The story is told from the viewpoint of the murdered teenager as she sees from heaven how her family are coping with the tragedy.

“It’s the best kind of fantasy in that it has a lot to say about the real world,” Jackson told trade paper Variety.

Alice Sebold’s novel became a bestseller around the world.

“You have an experience when you read the book that is unlike any other. I don’t want the tone or the mood to be different or lost in the film,” he told Variety.

Jackson and Walsh will once again work with their writing partner Philippa Boyens.

He said that they had decided to finance the project themselves in order to escape the pressure of working for a studio.

“We’ve woken up every single morning for the past six years with people at studios awaiting a script or a cut of a film. We want time to discover what this film is,” he added.

The Emperor of Vulgarity

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Please read The emperor of vulgarity by Mike Carlton of the Sydney Morning Herald.

George Bush’s second inaugural extravaganza was every bit as repugnant as I had expected, a vulgar orgy of triumphalism probably unmatched since Napoleon crowned himself emperor of the French in Notre Dame in 1804.

The little Corsican corporal had a few decent victories to his escutcheon. Lodi, Marengo, that sort of thing. Not so this strutting Texan mountebank, with his chimpanzee smirk and his born-again banalities delivered in that constipated syntax that sounds the way cold cheeseburgers look, and his grinning plastic wife, and his scheming junta of neo-con spivs, shamans, flatterers and armchair warmongers, and his sinuous evasions and his brazen lies, and his sleight of hand theft from the American poor, and his rape of the environment, and his lethal conviction that the world must submit to his Pax Americana or be bombed into charcoal.

Difficult to know what was more repellent: the estimated $US40 million cost of this jamboree (most of it stumped up by Republican fat-cats buying future presidential favours), or the sheer crassness of its excess when American boys are dying in the quagmire of Bush’s very own Iraq war.