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Apple music DRM case wraps up with final witness
December 14, 2014 | 11:07 am

The Apple iTunes DRM case proceeds apace. After finding a replacement plaintiff to supplant those who were found not to have bought iPods during the required time period, the case moved forward, hearing reluctant testimony from a former iTunes engineer who worked on blocking the interoperability of competitors’ music DRM with iPods. (The engineer basically rehashed the same arguments Apple’s made all along: Apple had to lock out competitors because the music labels demanded it.) This was the case’s last witness; it will go to jury deliberations next week. As I’ve said before, this case could potentially have profound...

Apple iPod DRM case heats up, but might still fizzle
December 7, 2014 | 12:37 pm

The wheels of justice grind slowly, and sometimes a bit of grit gets stuck in the gears. This seems to be the case with the ten-year-old lawsuit against Apple over the DRM policies it used to enforce on iTunes Music Store music and iPods. Over the last couple of weeks, it’s started moving again, and the testimony and depositions have been interesting to follow. But now it looks as though, just as it’s getting started again, it may come to a complete halt. Locking Out Competitors At heart, the case has to do with the way Apple continually...

Polaroid mini-tablet offers Android iPod Touch alternative…though not a very good one
January 23, 2014 | 9:28 pm

polaroidtabI have mentioned more than once that Android lacks a real equivalent to the iPod Touch. Sure, there are plenty of smartphones, and there are more than a few mini-tablets, but the mini-tablets generally seem to be running version 2 of Android, which means they have no (legitimate) access to the Play Store. Since I’ve ended up switching to an Android smartphone that fills my music-playing needs, I haven’t needed one as much, but I’ve still been curious whether one might become available. I was interested the other day when Nate mentioned on The Digital Reader that Sony was...

Thirty years of time shifting: The Supreme Court decision legalizing the VCR
January 18, 2014 | 2:14 am

Today marks an important anniversary for our digital media era—an era that couldn’t have been foreseen thirty years ago, but nonetheless relies to a very great extent on a legal decision exactly thirty years old. Today is the 30th anniversary of the landmark Supreme Court decision that declared the Sony Betamax VCR was legal because “time shifting,” recording a program off the air to watch it later, was fair use, and thus the VCR had substantial non-infringing purposes. Ars Technica has a feature article looking at the context of the decision in greater detail. This decision is crucial to...

13-year-old bemusedly tries old Sony Walkman for a week
December 24, 2013 | 2:40 am

Kids these days, eh? The BBC’s Magazine section has a story on a 13-year-old kid’s experience over the course of a week using one of the original Walkman tape players, which came out 30 years ago this week. As you might expect, it’s replete with “How does this work? This looks funny. I can’t believe people actually used to think this thing was awesome!” from the younger generation. (It’s easy to wonder how he couldn’t understand a Walkman, but you have to remember he’s just 13. It would be like asking someone from my generation to figure out a...

Voice Dream reader app can now play audiobooks
December 8, 2013 | 12:15 pm

Voice Dream reader appThe new version of the Voice Dream reader app, a superb iOS text-to-speech app for the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch, can now play audiobooks, too. Even at $10, costlier than the typical app, Voice Dream is a Buy, capital B, at the Apple App Store. Voice Dream 2.9.2 can handle zipped MP3s as well as audiobooks in Daisy, thanks to help from a Swiss library organization, and navigation and general usability are excellent, just as in the regular text-to-speech mode for ePub files and others. Dozen of optional voices in common languages work with the app, and my favorite is the UK-accented “Peter” voice...

iPad success secret: Building on the iPhone, and replacing laptops
November 5, 2013 | 10:47 pm

ipadWired is running an excerpt from a forthcoming book by Fred Vogelstein, looking at how Steve Jobs made the iPad successful when no other tablet ever had been. There’s an interesting parallel with e-readers in this story. No dedicated e-reader had ever been successful before Jeff Bezos pushed the Kindle, and likewise no prior tablet had ever worked until the iPad came along. The tablet computer was the most discredited category of consumer electronics in the world. Entrepreneurs had been trying to build tablet computers since before the invention of the PC. They had tried so many times that the conventional...

Enjoying tablets and smartphones? Thank e-books!
October 31, 2013 | 11:24 pm

The world has been changing a lot. In the 98 years my grandmother has been alive, we've gone from cars as rickety novelties on dirt-track roads to polished metal eggs on highways that span the globe; the Wright Brothers' first flight to putting people on the moon and machinery on Mars. And we've gone from mechanical clocks and automated looms as state-of-the-art in information technology to having powerful computer/photo/video terminals in most peoples' pockets. Even over the course of my own lifetime, the rate of advance has been remarkable. When I was in grade school. having computers in the...

How to get the most out of library ebooks via the right gadget, text to speech, and otherwise
October 18, 2013 | 6:26 pm

FireVergeWant to hear text to speech from free library ebooks on your 50-mile commute? Even if you own an Android machine and the usual OverDrive app can’t do “read-aloud” unless audiobooks count? Also, what if you haven’t even bought an e-reading gizmo for library use, but want to? Which model to go with? In those cases and others, the guidance here is for you. Most tips will work even with low-cost, no-name tablets. But let’s pay special attention to the new Kindle Fire HDXes. They are among the top choices if you care more about reading than about tech and can stomach...

Apple allows old iOS devices to install ‘last compatible version’ of newer apps
October 6, 2013 | 6:00 pm

ipadlatestappThis is a slightly old story, but I thought it was worth following up on when I had the chance. A few weeks ago, Apple quietly added a new feature to its iOS app store. It used to be that when you had hardware too old to run the latest version of an app, and you lost the version of it you had, you were out of luck. After OS 7 came out, for example, when I tried to update my 1st-generation iPad’s Zite app, I was told that the new one required OS 7. So if I...

Android still lacks iPod Touch alternative
September 12, 2013 | 5:18 am

galaxyplayerWhy is there still no good Android alternative to the iPod Touch? I last posed this question over two years ago, when Apple’s imposition of the 30% fee policies to apps with stores first caused me to question whether it was worth staying with the platform. At the time, there just weren’t any good options, though the Galaxy Player on the horizon looked promising. At the moment, there still aren’t (though plenty of people have been calling for one). My iPod Touch is getting pretty long in the tooth, and I’d like to replace it with an Android device....

My Answers Expert Articles: E-Readers, iOS
June 21, 2013 | 6:33 am

faceshotOne of the reasons I haven’t been writing as much lately here is that I have another part-time writing gig now that takes up much of my attention. I’m the “PC Expert” for Answers.com’s Experts program, contributing 500- to 600-word articles on subjects pertaining to computers, tablets, and related issues. It’s a very different sort of writing than I do for TeleRead, as those articles have to be neutral in tone and informative or instructional, rather than editorial. Along the way, I have managed to fit in a number of posts relating to topics relevant to TeleRead. A number of them...