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Slashback: Drives, Pods, OEMs 392

Slashback tonight with a look at Microsoft's OEM practices, the true nature and size of the Apple iPod, IBM drives (and hard drives in general), and the RIAA's alleged lobbying efforts for a license to invade machines looking for copyright infringement. All below, all now.

Drive-n to strong drink and harsh words. Kenneth Yu writes: "You might recall the overwhelming response to a recent 'Ask Slashdot' regarding the abnormally high failure rates of IBM 75GXP Hard drives, and the pulling of all 75GXP from Pair Networks' Servers. A class action lawsuit has been filed by Michael Granido, Jr., on behalf of himself and all others similarly situated. You can view the complaint in PDF format at This story was initially reported by Tech Report ("

Apropos that, jriskin writes: " has its new reliability database up and running. I have no affiliation with the site, but it only benifits the community to have as many people contribute as possible. The database is a listing of hard drives and whether or not they have failed, when they were purchased, etc. So get over there and put in all your HD data!" Things like this could help eliminate the anecdotal-only nature of many of hardware complaints, especially if people who are happy with their hardware bother to report it.

Falling far from a tree has nothing to do with it. Majik writes "A quick correction - the iPod has *10* gigs of storage, not 5 (or 6 like the Nomad). And with the Firewire interface you can move an entire CD in under a minute. Although I admit I was hoping for more out of the product announcement, it's still pretty darn cool ... "

On the other hand, jchristopher writes: "Love it or hate it, Apple's new iPod digital music player is here. Yesterday, many people commented that "at least it has no copy protection" and praised Apple's attitude toward digital music. Unfortunately, this may not be the case - according to this New York Times article, the iPod does indeed have copy protection - MP3 files copied to the iPod from one Mac to the iPod CAN'T be offloaded onto a different computer. Ouch!" That means (at least without further hacking) it can't be used as a transfer medium between the G3 and work and the iMac kept hidden in your darkest closet, which is sort of a shame considering that it has all the right things built in to be even better than the several portable firewire drives on the market.

Unorginal Equipment Makers. An Anonymous Coward writes: "This is a follow-up on a previous story posted to Slashdot about Microsoft's anti-competitive OEM contracts." It's a report by German journalist Erik Möller (hi, Erik!), who too an extremely thorough look at the details of OEM bundling deals, and what they mean to customers. Möller's conclusion: "No operating system will ever be able to compete with Microsoft Windows on the desktop market as long as OEMs cannot legally install it besides Windows without losing their license."

'Technical meaures' covers a pretty broad swath. Robotech_Master writes "The RIAA has responded to the 'license to virus' story, calling it a false Internet rumor and explaining their side of the story." So the RIAA officially does not want a license to hack, at least on paper.

This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Slashback: Drives, Pods, OEMs

Comments Filter:
  • by Dahan ( 130247 ) <> on Thursday October 25, 2001 @08:04PM (#2481131)
    Where'd you get that from? Look at the specs []: 5GB hard disk drive.
    • Whoa, sorry if the editors have better things to do than actually click a link or two before posting new topics. 5GB, 10GB, no big difference.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 25, 2001 @10:21PM (#2481651)
      My message to timothy:

      Please check facts first. Neither iPod story is correct. The iPod has 5 GB of storage as has been widely reported and is the number given on the Apple site. The iPod does not have copy protection of the sort mentioned by jchristopher. The manual mode does allow MP3's to be moved back and forth between different Macintoshes. The two auto-sync modes only allow one way Mac-to-Pod movement of music. But since the manual mode is there, you can do what jchristopher says you cannot. One thing that will have to be hacked is the FireWire disk mode, since it store hard drive data separately from music files. The music function of the iPod will not play separate hard drive files (out of the box) even if they are music files -- hacking will be required. The other area which will need some pronto hacking is to allow MP3 exchange over the FireWire cable between iPods, as this is not a built-in feature (so far as the faqs [] tell us). Please correct the 10 Gig oversight.

  • 10 Gigs? (Score:3, Informative)

    by gorsh ( 75930 ) on Thursday October 25, 2001 @08:05PM (#2481138)
    From Apple's iPod Web page []:

    "Small though it is, iPod has a hefty 5GB hard disk drive."
    • Timothy;

      The Nomad has a 6Gb and a 20Gb version. The 20Gb version is the same price as the 5Gb Apple iPod.

      Please, please, please, learn how not to be bought by apple's marketing hoardes.

      • The Nomad has a 6Gb and a 20Gb version. The 20Gb version is the same price as the 5Gb Apple iPod.

        Please, please, please, learn how not to be bought by apple's marketing hoardes.

        The 20 gig Nomad is the same price, but it *is* substantially larger and *isn't* firewire, with all of the advantages we've already heard about.

        Now, would *I* pay $400 for either one? Probably not, since marketing hordes or no marketing hordes, I don't need it that badly. What I think the Apple iPod will do is raise the stakes for everybody else. Nobody will be satisfied with an mp3 player that weighs almost a pound, or that can't be used for both songs and software. Firewire is also clearly a better interface for these things than USB, and by enough of a margin that I suspect that this might be what drives the next wave of Firewire peripheral growth.

        Apple never provides the cheapest solution, and often doesn't even provide the "best" solution, but it tends to produce the solution that most resembles the cheapest and best solution within a year or three.

      • Please, please, please, learn how not to be bought by apple's marketing hoardes.

        Yes the iPod has less storage, and costs more, but it also weighs less and is smaller, and I think runs longer. Deciding that makes it better doesn't mean someone has been "bought by marketing hordes", or is on crack, but that they value different things.

        Is someone who buys a Miata for $22k rather then a Civic for $17 on crack? The Civic has slightly more horse power (IU think), and a better rep for reliability, oh and room for cargo. On the other hand the Miata is smaller and lighter, and has a better rep for fun.

        Or maybe we should start telling folks who bought the SGI display rather then the half the price CRT that they are morons, after all the CRT has a tad bit more display area, and doesn't have that funky aspect ratio. Who cares that the SGI uses less power, frequently looks better, and takes almost no desk space...

        • Yes the iPod has less storage, and costs more, but it also weighs less and is smaller, and I think runs longer. Deciding that makes it better doesn't mean someone has been "bought by marketing hordes", or is on crack, but that they value different things.

          No, but saying that the iPod has twice the storage of the Nomad, when in fact it has a QUARTER the storage is very suspect, isn't it?

          You're assuming that it's a quality/feature issue. No, it's not. It's blatant misrepresentation of the facts that is at stake here.

  • What the hell? Apples website says: "...Ultra-slim 5-gigabyte hard drive..."

    Go to [] and look for your self.
  • That's funny, Apple [] seems to think its only 5GB.

  • No it's not. Check the specs [] page for details. Says so right there, 5GB. So, is there a source?
  • Uh, no..... (Score:3, Informative)

    by imadork ( 226897 ) on Thursday October 25, 2001 @08:07PM (#2481156) Homepage
    It has only 5 gigs [], according to the Spec sheet. Of course, perhaps that's wrong...

    As for transfering files, it is my understanding that in Idiot Mode (which Apple calls Default Mode []), the iPod can only synch with one primary computer at a time. you can operate the device from within iTunes in non-idiot mode, which gives you more flexability.

    • Juicy Rumors! (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Wise Dragon ( 71071 )
      It's true, the iPod has only 5 billion bytes of storage capacity. Majik was smoking crack with timothy or something. Whatever. Now for the cool shtuff.

      What I have heard is that the drive in the iPod is none other than the Toshiba 5GB PC Card Hard Disk Drive [], which itself is worthy of GadgetLust. Yep, that iPod's got a Type II PC Card slot in there, just waiting to be upgraded when Toshiba releases a 10-gigger (which probably won't be more than 6 months). If it's not a PC card drive, it's certainly the embedded version of the same drive, and hopefully will be eminently hackable. Here's to rumors, rumours, and the Apple stock I bought after the WTC bombings :)

  • Can't transfer MP3s? (Score:4, Informative)

    by Lally Singh ( 3427 ) on Thursday October 25, 2001 @08:09PM (#2481164) Journal
    That isn't completely true

    What the iPod does is mirror the macintosh it's connected to. What that means is that if it's got the mp3s from one mac, they'll get overridden with the mp3s from the next mac you sync with.

    However, if you use the iPod as a firewire disk, then you can copy files back & forth (including mp3s that you can play) with glee. They just wanted the RIAA off of their back, so now you have to (gasp) click and drag your files in order to copy them.. It's called "manually copying" the files...

    • In response to your post, I do hope that two-way transferring isn't a problem.

      That said...

      Thinking about the iPod, I can't help but realise that the use of FireWire is very understated -- basically, it is being used only as a conduit between your computer and the iPod. But wait a second -- FireWire is a device-to-device bus, unlike USB. So do we really need the computer?

      Imagine -- being able to transfer music files, playlists, etc. to your buddies by simply attaching a FireWire cable between two iPods. Why not?

      Technologically, this is probably a no-brainer. But being Apple, I would have to assume they would be all over this if it were a real feature. It seems that you can only transfer music to the iPod and back to your (or another) Mac. This seems to preclude transferring data and music between iPods, which would be truly a ground-breaking improvement over existing portable music devices.

      So, why is this (most assuredly) artificial limitation in place? My guess is pressure on Apple from the music industry (RIAA et al). Thoughts?


  • by ekrout ( 139379 ) on Thursday October 25, 2001 @08:10PM (#2481169) Journal
    or are you just happy to see me? ;-)
  • That means (at least without further hacking) it can't be used as a transfer medium between the G3 and work and the iMac kept hidden in your darkest closet, which is sort of a shame considering that it has all the right things built in to be even better than the several portable firewire drives on the market.

    Apple has said explicitly that you could use this 5GB (yes, FIVE gigabyte, not ten) as a storage medium. Presumably the storage of MP3s would be restricted to interfacing with only one unique copy of iTunes. But that's no problem, just zip up (or use the excellent DropStuff, free utility from Aladdin [] for windows and mac) those MP3s and transfer the files that way. Sure, you won't compress them much, but you can route that silly protection.

    Note that in product demos of the beast, the iPod shows up as a FIREWIRE DISK ON THE DESKTOP. I see no problems with transferring MP3s, just be a little craftier. Sheesh. Hardly any hacking required.
  • by Spootnik ( 518145 ) on Thursday October 25, 2001 @08:12PM (#2481180)
    There is no legal way to act anti-competitively when you define anti-competitive to mean "illegal".

    The government can, and does, impose anti-competitive tariffs and have it still be legal. Congressmen can, and do, give targeted anti-competitive breaks to companies and it is still legal. Patents are legal, 17-year, permits to be anti-competitive. Max, you have yet to define what "anti-competitive" means other than to say it is illegal and it is what Microsoft does.

    That, my friend, is exactly what you would expect in a low transactional cost market. This is a market where the Cost of Goods sold is less than 0.1% of the product price. For sake of argument, zero transactional cost. Assume three potential companies start with equal shares of the market. Natural perturbations will cause them to become unequal. The one with the larger share will then have more money for advertising, research, etc. This will cause the share to increase even more. It is a positive feed-back loop.

    You may not like anti-competitive effects of Marketing but it is very effective and it is legal. It is especially effective on the herd mentality that was brain-washed by a generation of TV commercials telling them that expensive Brand Name products are much better than low-cost alternatives.

    Yes, it is very possible for a new, low transactional cost market to become dominated through legal means. Call it FUD, call it Vaporware, call it Marketing. In the United States, call it legal.

    Did Microsoft violate Section 2? I think it did. It is virtually impossible to be a monopoly and not be guilty of maintaining a monopoly. But it may be possible monopolization is inevitable in this market. Even the DoJ lawyer didn't answer the Appellate Court question "We are going to replace one monopoly with another if you're right; right?"
  • Apple Hype (Score:5, Funny)

    by cowscows ( 103644 ) on Thursday October 25, 2001 @08:13PM (#2481185) Journal
    Apple Computer announced another future failure today, when they revealed their new "iPod" mp3 player. Millions of techies, music geeks, and young school children felt their hearts sink when they saw that Apple's new product didn't live up to the random hype surrounding it.

    One upset consumer was heard to say, "I read on some web site claiming to have apple insiders that their new digital device was going to be a fully digital electric car with handwriting recognition, 14 pci slots, and a breakfast buffet in the trunk. How dare Apple promise something so great and then deliver a simple mp3 player?"

    Other people have complained about the price, feeling that even though the hard drive that powers the iPod costs $400 all by itself, Apple should've cut the price significantly so that their customers don't have to spend so much money. An stock analyst in an expensive suit told us, "I don't get it. Apple somehow managed to post a profit this past quarter, despite everyone else bleeding money and complaining how bad the economy is for computer makers. Where do they get the gall to not be losing millions of dollars?"

    After this extreme disappointment, Apple watchers are all looking into the future, hoping for better results from their favorite company next time. Rumors of a levitating PDA that has voice recognition, does tarot card readings, and has wireless access that allows it to communicate with NASA's Cassini space probe have gotten everyone excited!

    • even though the hard drive that powers the iPod costs $400 all by itself

      Bullshit. A year ago, I picked up a 20GB IBM Travelstar for under CAD$500 -- about US$325. I'd be surprised if 5GB notebook drives currently sell for more than US$150 at retail, never mind in volume for integration into a product like this!
      • It's not a 2.5 inch notebook drive. The iPod itself is too slim and too narrow for a notebook drive. A plain FireWire drive based on this particular unique 5GB super-slim hard disk is also $399. The additional music playing features are free. The storage in iPod is totally cutting-edge.

        It's a cool product that takes advantage of the fact that FireWire has been standard on Macs for a long time. Sending media files through the keyboard port is a bug. I'm glad Apple made this so obvious by fixing the bug. This is just 1.0, too, and it looks pretty good to me.

        Some of the cool things that you may not know about iPod: you can boot a Mac from it (9 or X), and you can capture DV directly to it from any device that can generate an audio or video DV stream (such as a camcorder).
        • It's not a 2.5 inch notebook drive. The iPod itself is too slim and too narrow for a notebook drive. A plain FireWire drive based on this particular unique 5GB super-slim hard disk is also $399. The additional music playing features are free. The storage in iPod is totally cutting-edge.

          OK, so I think this argument is way too strong. Yes, Toshiba will sell you one of these directly for $399...but that price probably reflects a nice profit margin for them, plus the fact that a substantial chunk of their production has probably already been spoken for by somebody who just got into the high-end mp3 player business. My guess is that Apple's margin on these is their favored 30% or so; I'm guessing the drive costs them about $250, the rest of the hardware about $40, and the development costs about $40 when spread over the 500,000 units they'd like to sell in the next year. In six months, $220 will buy them a 10 GB drive, $30 will get them the rest of the hardware, and the price will be down to $350. In another six months, it's $250 for an iPod with a 20 GB drive. So it goes.

  • Apple's iPod [] product page says "ultra slim 5GB hard drive". I think that is perfectly clear.

    As far as the copy protection goes, it is really not draconian. If you sync your iPod with iTunes, iTunes will overwrite all songs on the iPod that you don't have on your copy of iTunes. However, you can manually copy music files from the iPod to any Mac. The Register [] has more info. They actually got to play around with one.

    It does come wrapped in plastic that says "don't steal music" in 4 languages.

  • on the ipod (Score:3, Interesting)

    by rschroeder ( 186919 ) <> on Thursday October 25, 2001 @08:14PM (#2481193) Homepage
    the following is copy and pasted from [].


    A lot of people are making the mistake that the iPOD is only and MP3 player.

    First and foremost it is a 5 gig firewire drive with 32 megs of static ram, and input as well as output devices (scroll wheel, screen, etc...not sure if the definition of a computer has changed in the last day... but this thing is a lot better than the powermac i owned years ago).

    Ok, very simply it is a slave device. Portable Open Database. You know it will have a calendar, clock and whatever apps apple ads or I myself when i understand the OS... aka palm sync. It will also contain a few games... i still use my original game boy and the screen is not much bigger. Everyone thinks this is only a music device... but this is what everyone needs and doesn't even know it.

    Ever since Apple took away our floppy drives. I can now take my excel files, photos, mp3 files, cad files, i can even put OSX on it and boot my mac from it!!!!....or any frickin thing I want in my pocket!!!! Just imagine the possibilities... when I am outdoors with my digital camera i can store files on it or when i am in a conference room I can record my voice on the disk.

    Why would Apple put such a large screen on there, why would Apple not once place the words music or mp3 player on the device... why is the file system capabilities of this thing so amazing... no one quite understands what this is... remember all those easter eggs that weren't allowed in 9.1 or X...well they are all in this baby... this is iPod, this is our portable little slave device that everyone will want when they realize what it can do...
    • Yes, EVERY SINGLE PERSON will want this when they realize what they can do. and they'll gladly pay $400 for the privalage. sure.
  • I seem to recall the last successful (?) class action suit against Iomega for the whole zip disk eating zip drives. Only thing that anyone received was a crappy coupon for Iomega products. IANAL but I pretty sure the case will flop regardless of who wins, getting replacement drives is one thing, but getting cash reimbursement is an exercise in futility.
    • ahh, but the lawyer who does it will be rich ... Usually how this work is -- the lawyer arranges some incredible payment for himself, and some minimal payment for the people he represents ...

    • Not neccesarily. I was involved with a class action over an old 6X HP CDR drive that was a lemon (as they all were). I was pleasantly suprised when, after the case was completely settled, I recieved a brand new 12x32 CDRW in the mail as compensation. Of course, having to wait five years for any compensation was a little irritating :\
      • Oh, and I realize that it's bad form to reply to your own posts, but I thought I'd mention that my own six month old IBM 75GXP 45GB died yesterday. No SMART warning, lost clusters, or other indicators of impending doom, just an odd clicking sound followed by total failure. I'll definitely be hitting IBM up for a replacement, though I'm not sure if I'll join in this class action or not.
  • Hey,

    Why not just use resEdit on your MP3 files and tell their resource or info forks that they're some other file format? You could change their file type on the iPod, copy them over, and then change them back.

    Sure it isn't elegant, but someone could easily make a resource-fork screwer-around-wither that does it easily, even as a scriptable part of the OS.

    Macs are great, cuz you can do deep, intuitive modifications of every part of the OS, from the layout of dialog boxes to the language of menus just by screwing around with various resource forks. Joe User never has to worry about this seedy underbelly of cheap tricks, but everyone else is welcome to cheat wherever they want.

    Here's hoping Apple wins the commercial OS battle someday :)
    • by delmoi ( 26744 )
      Macs are great, cuz you can do deep, intuitive modifications of every part of the OS, from the layout of dialog boxes to the language of menus just by screwing around with various resource forks

      Of course, you can do the same thing in windows...
  • I read the RIAA comment referred to in which they "deny" requesting a right to hack.

    The first half of their comment seems reasonable. Then they admit that the anti-terrorism bill did contain a provision which would make some of their "technical measures" illegal and subsequently the bill was modified.

    What is conspicuously absent from their statement is any mention of which provision in the original anti-terrorism bill was problematic. There were anti-hacking provisions and they were modified so as to apply only to acts whose intended effect is to influence or cause harm to the government (I'm paraphrasing here.) Does anyone know if that is the "fix" they are referring to, or is it something else? And can anyone think of a "technical measure" which is legitimate that would have been prohibited by the first draft and not by the final bill?
  • by Gogo Dodo ( 129808 ) on Thursday October 25, 2001 @08:23PM (#2481229)
    The NY Times article on not being able to copy MP3s is incorrect as refuted by Apple's iPod FAQ [] (sorry, PDF) on. See Page 3, the second and third questions.

    Also see the Oct. 25 entries on the Mac Resource Page [].

  • by Ether ( 4235 ) on Thursday October 25, 2001 @08:25PM (#2481240)
    Portable firewire HD, sans music player, but: .h tml

    Archos has a 20 GB model, it is larger, but I would assume it would be faster- (I can't see having a 7200 RPM drive on an mp3 player, but IMBR), and $100 cheaper (search the net for a better price) for 2x the storage.

    Also, it IS five gigabytes, unless's lying:

    I would assume that the person who submitted the /. meant that you could move 70 minutes of mp3s in under a minute, because to read 680 meg from a CD would require a read spead of 76x.
    • Archos has a 20 GB model, it is larger, but I would assume it would be faster

      The Archos drive is vastly slower than the iPod, as the Archos' connection interface (USB) is about 30 times slower than the iPod's FireWire connection. The differences in the two drives performance is negligible compared to the USB/FireWire difference.


    • The Archos stuff apparently has bad bass and treble, looks like a dog, and weighs twice as much as the Apple iPod. The iPod is apparently a quality device (reviewlet on the register) with quality headphones and a quality bit of hardware that may be software extensible (i.e, add games, calendar, todo list, etc on it like that Rex PDA thingy).

      In other words, the iPod is to its competitors what the iPaq is to the first WinCE machine: smaller, lighter, easier to use, more modern, nicer to look at, and much more functional.

      As someone else said - Firewire doesn't require a computer controller. When Apple/Sony release their Digital Camera with Firewire connector on it, you will be able to connect the iPod to it to download the pictures from the camera. This could make the camera very cheap, as the user won't need a fancy mini-CDR or large flash memory storage device.

      Theoretically, you could connect an external Firewire harddrive to the iPod, and boost the iPod's capacity even more whilst it was plugged in. But it may require some software to do that!

    • Archos has a 20 GB model, it is larger, but I would assume it would be faster- (I can't see having a 7200 RPM drive on an mp3 player, but IMBR), and $100 cheaper (search the net for a better price) for 2x the storage.

      I have a friend with one of those. He doesn't take it out running, or on walks or anything. I'm not sure if it is because it is too heavy, or if it doesn't fit in his pocket very well. The Mac one does look like it will fit, not sure about the weight, but the stats say it is light.

  • OEMs (Score:3, Informative)

    by Eloquence ( 144160 ) on Thursday October 25, 2001 @08:27PM (#2481246)
    Hi Timothy ;-),

    thanks for posting the link. I can't say that my short report was really "thorough", since much of it is quotes from Hacker and Gassee, but that's partly because of its subject. Since the kind of OEM deals it discusses are certainly not frequent (and possibly organized in a clever contractual hierarchy), it is quite easy to cover them up.

    But I think the evidence for their existence was already overwhelming before my own search (you don't have the CEO of a major competitor making such factual claims if there's nothing behind them), and at the point where one manufacturer told me quite straight-forwardly "Yes, we can't create dual-boot machines under our OEM contract, but please don't quote me on that" I decided to do what is called a cut in Prolog and not investigate further. It is really up to the anti-trust authorities now to subpoena these contracts and to then examine them in detail. If I am not mistaken, this was already done by the US regarding the "modification of icons on the desktop" question.

    Interesting: In the K5 article, there were quite a few vocal Microsoft supporters who argued that this is a non-issue, either because the contracts don't exist or because they are not relevant -- in the attached poll, however, ~85% said that the OEM pratice should be investigated and quite possibly forbidden. So the silent majority seems to agree that this is a major issue.

    Don't be fooled into passivity by a vocal minority: If you agree it's an issue, do something about it -- fax or write the EC in support of my report, or e-mail your own legislators (wherever you are, this seems to be an issue everywhere). Don't let MS get away with this.


  • by Logic Bomb ( 122875 ) on Thursday October 25, 2001 @08:34PM (#2481279)
    Ok, Slashdot gets it wrong on the iPod again. Here's the deal, as can be found on MacFixIt []. The iPod has two basic modes, the automatic music management system that syncs with iTunes, and a more manual sort of management method. It will only auto-sync with one "setup" of iTunes, meaning that you can't go to another computer and have it automatically copy all the music that the iPod has but the HD doesn't to the computer. However, you can manually transfer music files back and forth between the iPod and any compatible computer. This all, of course, totally ignores the other major functionality of the device as a plain-jane Firewire HD, which can be used to copy whatever you want between computers.
  • by DCowern ( 182668 ) on Thursday October 25, 2001 @08:50PM (#2481352) Homepage

    "What's worse - we were accused of equating Internet piracy with terrorism. We may take Internet piracy seriously, but we're not insane."

    Oh, I beg to differ... ;-)

    "It's one thing to be criticized for what we do - that's fair game. But to be vilified for what we don't do - that's very disheartening."

    Maybe if we vilify them even more, they'll be so disheartened that they'll give up! Wouldn't that be the day?

    • I'm quite fond of this line:

      We didn't get very specific about what those technical measures were, but we always made clear that we would rely on technological solutions to address technological problems.

      Yep. That explains the previous lawsuits against Napster et al.. Sure enough. :P
    • "It's one thing to be criticized for what we do - that's fair game. But to be vilified for what we don't do - that's very disheartening."

      Its funny you should quote that statement. Ever since the RIAA became Slashdot Enemy #1 its been plainly obvious that they're becoming more and more hostile towards it's customers by saying, "No you cant copy/backup your cd's" and then doing whatever it takes to stop us from not only from doing it, but from even thinking of doing it.

      If I were there when that statement was made then my follow woulda been "How would you respond to that as being an interpretation of the RIAA's attitude towards its customers?"
  • by localman ( 111171 ) on Thursday October 25, 2001 @08:53PM (#2481368) Homepage
    Aw Jeez.

    The iPod has 5 GB of storage [].

    It also does not have any copy protection [], but it won't auto-sync between two machines, you have to do it manually (just drag & drop the files).

    Hope that clears things up just a little.
  • I tried to enter my hard drives into their reliability database, but they don't accept any drives older than 1998. How can you get any reliability information on a drive so new?
    None of my drives are that new. I wanted to enter my CDC 94171-307 in the database, it is the drive I have been the happiest with, it has given me no problems in the 9 years I have had it, and it was used when I acquired it.
  • A class action lawsuit has been filed by Michael Granido, Jr., on behalf of himself and all others similarly situated
    I admittedly haven't read the complaint yet, and I sympathize with anyone who's been burned by a bad IBM drive, but a class action suit against IBM doesn't seem like it's going to significantly help anyone, and may actually harm all of us.

    As far as I understood from the previous /. article, IBM had accepted returns and provided users with problematic drives new ones that were known to be good. From what I can tell, it seems that IBM has acted in good faith.

    A lawsuit against them raises the price of drives, and makes it harder and harder for anyone to release a product without excessive, often unecessary but always expensive, testing. Of course a product should perform as advertised, but in many cases, even exhaustive testing cannot determine how a product will perform when released to others. If the company acts in good faith (and maybe the complaint alleges that IBM didn't), a class actions lawsuit seems like nothing but trouble for all of us.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    So the RIAA officially does not want a license to hack

    One needs a license to hack? That'll be the day...

  • Ok, here is my reading between the lines of their FAQ.

    When iTunes puts mp3 files on the drive it does something wicked and secret to them so that:

    1. Only files so encoded will be playable by the internal firmware.

    2. Said files are invisible when the drive is viewed in Firewire mode.

    So yes, you can use it to transport mp3 files, but it isn't practical. What they had to prevent, to keep the RIAA from sueing their butts off, was the nightmare scenario where everyone buys one and plugs them into each other's machines, instantly exchanging music libraries with each other. If you thought Napster over DSL was bad, try FireWire speeds.
    They also don't want PC or Linux folk to be able to use their products. In their way they are as bad as M$, you either buy into the Mac way or they don't want you touching any of their toys.

    Since it IS just a FireWire drive with an onboard computer though, it WILL be hacked. If it doesn't get a Linux port it darn sure will get one of the BSD's within a year. After all it is a computer with 5GB of drive, 32MB of RAM, a usable display and some input devices with a FireWire port to talk to the outside world.

    • You are absolutely correct, but it is not nearly as big a deal as you make it out to be. Basically, the iPod can either play or transport files. Files put into the player via iTunes synch cannot be removed back onto a computer, and files put on the HD in firewire disk mode cannot be played. However, AFAIK nothing stops you from putting mp3s on the firewire disk, copying them to the computer, importing them into iTunes, and sending them back into the iPod's player partition.
      • Basically, the iPod can either play or transport files.

        It can do both at the same time.

        Files put into the player via iTunes synch cannot be removed back onto a computer...

        Bzzt ... Yes they can. From the Apple faq []

        To transfer music between your computers, or to add songs to iPod from both systems, you can selectively drag and drop songs, albums, or playlists between iPod and either computer using the manual update mode.

        Steve M

    • This is incorrect. There is no copyright protection whatsoever on the files. What the FAQ says is that when you plug an iPod into a Mac, it only automatically updates the songs on the iPod to reflect those on the computer, not the other way around.

      If you select Manual Mode you can drag files from the MP3 player to iTunes to copy them onto another computer. iTunes makes no attempt to stop you. At all. It just doesn't automatically copy everything on the MP3 player to the computer every time you plug it in like it does the other way round.

      Here is what it says (my emphasis):

      Q. How do I transfer music between iTunes and iPod?
      A. iPod offers three ways to transfer music from your iTunes 2 music library. You can select one of the following update modes from the iPod Preferences menu in iTunes:
      - Update all music automatically. This is the default mode, in which iTunes copies your entire music library, including playlists, to iPod when you connect it to your Mac and deletes songson iPod that are not listed in iTunes. If your iTunes library exceeds the iPod storage capacity, it prompts you to select a different update method.
      - Update selected playlists. With this option, iTunes automatically copies selected playlists to iPod whenever you connect to your Mac, and the songs on iPod that are not in the selected iTunes playlists are deleted.
      - Update manually. You can also choose to transfer music to iPod manually. This enables you to drag and drop songs and playlists between iTunes and iPod, transferring music from one place to the other.

      And later in the FAQ:

      To transfer music between yourcomputers, or to add songs to iPod from both systems, you can selectively drag and drop songs, albums, or playlists between iPod and either computer using the manual update mode.

      So, to recap there is no modification of the files or any attempt to stop you from copying them, but the default configuration is intended for a single-computer use where you just want the iPod to mirror the collection on your hard disk. You do not need to put the files on using the finder or change their extension or archive them, or perform any other fabricated ritual.

  • I tried to stay out of this, but the iPod bashing seems to continue.

    Seems to be a lot of talk about the iPod being dead-in-the-water (or nearly so) as an MP3 player. I, as a NJB owner and occasional Apple owner (my G3 has been powered up twice in the past year), find the iPod quite appealing, and would gladly exchange my NJB plus two hundred dollars for one. Here's why the iPod will, IMHO, kick the NJB's butt.

    #1 - Size. The NJB is exactly the wrong size, as are all the other HD-based MP3 players I've seen. Too big to be really carry-in-on-you portable, too small to hold a useable display or enough buttons to properly save/name playlists, manage files, explore your collection etc.

    #2 - Data storage. The NJB didn't used to do this, and even now barely does.

    #3 - Speed. USB. Slow. Firewire. Fast. Swapping out even a 6GB NJB MP3 library takes a LONG, LONG time, like many hours. Assuming the software doesn't time out on you [], which, ten firmwares later, it still does. Often.

    #4 - Reliability. PB5300s be damned, Apple makes decent stuff. I'm on my second NJB, and its starting to die too. Creative puts a *90-day []* warranty on the things, they're so flaky. Really.

    #5 - Battery life. The NJB gets 2 hours IME from a set of NiMH AAs. There are also issues with overheating, failure to charge, and improper charge status reporting on the units. What good is 1000 hours of music if you can only enjoy it two hours at a time? Many NJB owners are resorting to $50-$70 ratpacks worth of bulky NiMH D-cells to get to the 10hr battery life the iPod advertizes as standard. Bring on the lithium polymer.

    #6 - Support. 1-800-SOS-APPL vs. we-wont-even-give-you-a-number-to-call-unless-you- go-through-this-web-wizard and "we think you dropped it []". Worse if you're outside the US. Sign me up for some iPod Applecare - after two dead Rios and two dead NJB's, I could use some warranty love.

    #7 - Output level. Based on the Reg's comment about the iPod sounding good, and based on the fact that NJB owners everywhere are opening up their units (voiding their 90 day warranty) to try to solder in a reasonable output level [].

    #8 - Aesthetics. 'nuff said.

    #9 - Price. The iPod is cheaper ($400USD) than the NJB was when I bought my first one at $759CAD ($499USD) [], less than a year ago. If this 1.8" drive format is standardized, then bigger drives should be able to be shoehorned in, as NJB owners have been doing.

    #10 - Drive letter (or the mac version, mount-it-on-the-desktop) support. Try using cheeseball banner-ads-galore gotta-use-it-to-load-the-device-whoops-i-crashed-a gain Creative Playcenter and you'll see what I mean.

    #11 - Boot times []. Even with the latest firmware, its still 20+ seconds from powering the unit up to getting a sound out of it. For those with bigger HDs, older firmware, or less-than-perfect ID3 tags, startup times of two minutes or more are the norm. I can't imagine the iPod would be worse than THAT.

    #12 - Proprietary file system with no repair / diagnosis options. There's no way to do a "real" format on an NJB. As in one that actually looks for bad sectors. One bad sector on your fragile fujitsu 2.5" HD? Count on lockups, freezeups, and untold general annoyances. There's no defrag, either.

    There's plenty more, but I think the point is made. 'nuff of the pooh-poohing. As soon as someone can get this thing to accept MP3s from a PeeCee running Windoze and/or Linux, it will be the next big thing. (and save the archos jukebox praise, unless you've actually used one - or at least fondled a dead one).

    • Another cool iPod fact. According to the FAQ, in FireWire disk mode, you can install system software on the iPod and, get this, BOOT A MAC WITH IT! If you are asking why does this matter, think of it as a small, portable emergency startup disk, and listen to some jamming tunes while your macs are running fine. No more scrouging for CDs(especially when your favorite disk repair tools aren't on them...)

      • If you are asking why does this matter, think of it as a small, portable emergency startup disk, and listen to some jamming tunes while your macs are running fine.

        Mind if I ask why an emergancy startup disk needs to be small and fully portable? Everyone's saying that the big benefits of the iPod are its size and weight, two things that can be important if you're lugging it around all day. On the other hand, if you're looking to use it as an external drive, chances are you won't be keeping it in your pocket, so you might as well get a larger drive for less.
    • Absolutely well stated, as another NJB owner i could not agree more.

      I would add this as well, nothing I own with an Apple logo has ever broken on me. (color classic, IIci, IIfx, Quadra 650, 8100, 8500, Beige G3 and my current TiPowerbook and too new to tell G4 tower) they just become old and obsolete perhaps but they don't stop working. (yay yellowdog and debian). before the flames begin, i am sure Apples break, and that perhaps your Apple (or your mom's, whatever) has. I am just stating that mine have not.

      Meanwhile, my Nomad Jukebox fell from my night stand to my luxuriously thick carpeted floor, and wham, dead. this was a two foot fall. Creative still has not resolved this. I am willing to bet (especially since the drive heads park on the wee toshiba drive) that this wouldn't have happened with the iPod.

      besides... no one what to get me for christmas anymore. this will change.
    • by Chris Johnson ( 580 ) on Friday October 26, 2001 @08:43AM (#2482884) Homepage Journal
      Maybe that's no accident. Batten down the hatches for a bit of audio geekitude, it'll be worth it- and this COULD be tested fairly easily...

      First of all, mp3 decoding is done through basically synthesising waves according to the (lossy) information being used, and outputting them as 16 bit 44.1K audio in the vast majority of cases.

      mp3 audio is inherently lower quality than 16/44 (some other formats like WMA or 'mp3pro' are even more blatantly inaccurate, making up data out of the blue) and so, to my knowledge, the most common approach has been to just cast the resulting sample values to an int or something, which is the same as truncation of the value. This results in quantization distortion, and since it's just lousy mp3, who cares?

      However, it is possible to decode mp3 to 24-bit resolution and up- and this is where it appears Apple's approach to these things gets interesting. My own experience with this started when I got iTunes running on a MacOS 8.6 system- before then, there was no chance of running iTunes, and I'd been using other means of playing mp3s, like SoundApp, which remains a nifty program but didn't prepare me for what I was going to hear from iTunes.

      Briefly, I do audio mastering work, and have very high resolution audio gear coming off my Mac- and here's the deal- I started playing tunes off iTunes, and was very startled to hear them playing with a depth and dimensionality that I was totally unaccustomed to. The sound was more 3D than 2D, despite the mp3 sources. Why?

      For a possible answer you might look here [], at some tests done with 24-bit mp3 decoding libraries, and consider Apple's background in pro audio. Put simply, it's my suspicion that iTunes is decoding to 24 bit or 32-bit floating point, and dithering the result to 16 bits for the sound output DACs. This is a substantially more sophisticated approach than the usual 'mp3 is cheesy anyway' direct truncation, and it yields considerably better sound. I can't get direct confirmation of this by citing iTunes source, as iTunes is closed source- so I linked to a 24 bit decoder review page to drive home the point that this technology is out there and in use.

      What does this have to do with iPod? Easy- what iTunes can do in software, iPod can do in embedded hardware. I think it would be a good idea to analyze the performance of iPod compared to other mp3 playing portables- and see whether iPod is pioneering high-resolution mp3 decoding and dithering in a portable. This can be measured: the noise floor will be different and up to 20 db lower compared to simple truncation! It is also likely to sound distinctly different as well- high-quality headphones might make this equally obvious.

      Just thought I'd raise the issue, since the Register has apparently commented that it sounds nice, and I've had similar observations about iTunes... the _character_ of the improvement in sound is very much resolution domain stuff, and Winamp users can apparently get an example of this type of sound through a 24-bit MAD mp3 library plugin. If my hunch is correct, Apple are already routinely doing this in their products to get a more 'high-end' sound, including iPod- and it may be a first in mp3 portables. More research (by someone who _can_ just run out and buy a Nomad and an iPod and start measuring them ;) ) is indicated :)

      • Almost all of my mp3s come from CDs. While there exists a [currently Microsoft-owned] standard for making 20-bit encoded CDs, it's safe to assume that all my mp3s are from a 16-bit audio source. Furthermore my sound hardware only supports 16-bit output. Please explain how in the voyage from 16-bit uncompressed digital audio, to 16-bit hardware outputting to speakers, stopping at lossy mp3 in the middle, using a higher bit resolution in the decoding process could possibly make a difference in quality, and a noticable one at that. It seems to me the only thing you could possibly accomplish by doing this is achieving higher fidelty with respect to the inaccuracies introduced by mp3 encoding.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    First hand account of the iPod: ryid=1004046897,20517, []

    From the article:

    " Breakout!: I'm pretty sure I'm the first one who found this, even though I found it by accident. If you select "About" from the main menu, then hold the center button for a couple seconds, a mini breakout game appears on the screen. That's what I call an easter egg!"

    This probably means you could do a lot more with this than first appears.
  • Just looking around quickly: Addonics [] FireWire bus-powered drive, $309 with 20GB drive. SmartDisk VST FireWire Drives [], 10G for $249 or 20G for $299. There are several other drives available from the same site, including the 5GB FireFly. If you look around, you'll also find cheaper drives and a few other small drives from other manufacturers.

    At least when it comes to transporting files in a portable device, those seem more practical that the iPod. Of course, they don't have an MP3 player.

  • Is this similar to the SD scheme? Does the iPod look like a standard FireWire drive or does it use a special protocol?
  • Ok, this is probably a bit offtopic, but the search is so horrible and broken I can't find the original topic. It dealt with a question about memory as a disk drive. Lo and behold, our CIO, a gadget junky if there ever was one, got his hands on a Pen Drive [] from Frys [] (an evil store in Silicon Valley we turn to as a last resort) with 64 Meg of flash RAM. You install the little driver on whichever systems you want to use it on and it plugs in through a USB port. Here's what amazed me... they actually have it working for Win98 forward, Linux, and Mac OS (dunno about OSX, check it yourself at the link above) Sizes are supposed to be up to 1 Gig, tho I've only seen vendors for the smaller capacity drives. Since it's flash it doesn't need a battery. 64Meg about $84 bucks.
  • Spin: What we wanted to do was legal under current law, we just wanted to keep our rights, we proposed a 'patch'

    Fact: What they wanted to do should have been illegal anyways, but they also wanted to escape any civil penalties for possibly trashing thousands of computers.

    Spin: Earlier quote is "It didn't make it into the Senate bill, So the great work of the Senate staff to fix this unintentional problem didn't get through."

    Fact: The amendments presented by the RIAA were firmly rebuked by the Hill staffers, some of whom called it the "RIAA's License to Virus."

    Spin: It leaves out any rejection of the first attempts to submit an amendment and says "Ultimately, the Senate staff figured out a way to change their original provision to eliminate its unintended effect"

    Fact: After the first defeat "...the association's lobbyists will focus on a possible conference committee..." (earlier news item) In other words, the Senate staff figured out a way with the help of the RIAA's lobbyists.
  • Things like this could help eliminate the anecdotal-only nature of many of hardware complaints

    By definition this kind of database will only intensify the ancedotal nature of many hardware complaints, because such a database is merely the collection of ancedotes! Not to say it wouldn't be helpful, but it does nothing to add a scientific sampling of error rates. It will give a "feel" for particular I'll probably use it (I'm not a scientist).

  • And with the Firewire interface you can move an entire CD in under a minute.

    and how pray tell will you get the information _off_ the CD that quickly? Have you got an l33t 1000x CDROM someplace?

    Oh, and you probably want to encode the CD, too.
  • "And it worked for a whole lot of other industry groups that also felt that this provision had to be fixed - the ISP community, telecom companies, the NetCoalition, the Chamber of Commerce, as well as content industries like motion pictures and music."

    Yeah, they all (still) have the right to try and invade citizen's computers. Great.

    "But somehow, it became a story that we were looking for special new powers to hack into personal computers."

    Nope, just keeping an already existing loop-hole open, in case you ever decide to use it.

    "It's one thing to be criticized for what we do - that's fair game. But to be vilified for what we don't do - that's very disheartening."

    Like accusing everyone who can copy music that they have and will copy music? Yeah, it sucks to be assumed guilty, don't it?

  • Sorry but does Apple really seriously think they can effectivily market this sexy player when, according to the FAQ, it will only work with an iMac?

    Well, i'm disappointed. If it wasn't Mac only, then they'd have a highly desirable product, instead they have a very nice but no use to the majority of the people product.

    Argh. Maybe Sony will see the light and allow this [] to play MP3's. When the 1 gig Sony Memory Stick comes out this would be a very sweet albeit expensive player. But Sony being Sony means that won't happen.

    So, I'm sorry Apple, but i'm going to predict this is going to be a flop. You've limited your potential market to those people that own a Mac. Based on my (admitidally limited) survey of the office, that means about one person in fourty.

Executive ability is deciding quickly and getting somebody else to do the work. -- John G. Pollard