New iPod lineup

Looks like Apple has pulled out all the stops with their latest refresh to the iPod line. FatPod Nanos with video capability, touchscreen iPods, and a 160GB “iPod Classic” (my personal objet d’desire). They also mentioned something about ringtones for the iPhone, but I find them incredibly annoying, so the less said, the better.

The iPod Touch apparently has wifi capability, so you can browse the web and purchase songs directly from the iTunes Music Store.

And a Starbucks/Apple partnership? Wow – that borders on self-parody there, Steve-o.

Free software of the week: Handbrake

I’m always on the lookout for good, free utilities and applications – I’m going to try to make this a regular feature, where I share a handful of useful apps that I use on a regular basis. Most of these will be in the realm of audio/video editing and transcoding, but I’ll post anything interesting. Some of these are very well known, others are more obscure.

There’s a distinction between software that’s “free as in beer” and “free as in speech”. I will be focusing on the “beer” type (i.e. costs nothing to use), but if it’s of the open source variety as well, so much the better.

This week’s pick is…

Handbrake

Handbrake is a nifty little app for Windows, Mac, and Linux that will allow you to take your DVDs and convert them into iPod-compatible MP4 video files. It’s been around for a couple of years, but until recently development had slowed considerably. Handbrake relatively simple to use and fairly quick, depending on your hardware. It’s still beta software, and has a few quirks here and there – the deinterlacing feature, for example, is terrible for animation (but is slated to be improved in future builds). But overall Handbrake is an excellent free app.

http://handbrake.fr

EMI to offer DRM-free music through iTunes

In what is hopefully the first of many, the EMI record label announced that they will be offering their catalog of music free of DRM (Digital Rights Management) through the iTunes Store. In a nutshell, DRM is technology meant to stop people from copying digital content. On one hand it makes sense because artists should be able to protect their work from wholesale copying and distribution and benefit financially from the fruits of their labor. On the other hand, US copyright law does allow for “fair use”, which means being able to make backup copies for your own personal use – something DRM schemes are meant to limit.

One caveat is that the price of admission has gone up slightly – $1.29 per track as opposed to the previous $.99 per track standard. To dull the sting somewhat, the bitrate of these unprotected tracks has been increased from 128kbps to 256kbps AAC – which is virtually CD quality.

Hopefully the rest of the major labels will get the hint and follow suit. While there will always be people who want to get something for nothing, I think most people would be willing to pay for what they use as long as they aren’t subject to unfair restrictions.

My First iPod

2nd Gen iPod
2nd Gen iPod

YEAH! Blogger is finally working…

I got a new toy today – an Apple iPod. Basically, a super-duper MP3 player that can hold literally thousands of songs… and it weighs less than a pound. That’s just coooool{/deep voice}.

I guess that means my old MP3 player is for sale. Then again, everything I own is for sale – right John? 😉

Well, it’s 7:15, and I haven’t had dinner yet. Catfish or ravioli… decisions, decisions…