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ExtraBITS for 3 May 2010

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We have a cornucopia of reading for you this week, including Apple selling movies via iTunes in France and Ireland, HP buying Palm, the deadline for printing an iPhoto book for Mother's Day, Apple buying a voice search company, the WWDC dates being announced, Princeton suggesting a workaround for the iPad DHCP bug, Sony discontinuing floppy disks, and a rundown on the whole Gizmodo stolen iPhone story, complete with the identify of the guy who found the prototype. Phew!


iTunes Store Now Offers Movies in France and Ireland -- Apple has announced that movies from major film studios are now available for rent or purchase in the iTunes Store in France and Ireland. Purchases start at €7.99 for older titles, €9.99 for recent releases and €13.99 for new releases. Rentals cost either €2.99 for older titles or €3.99 for new releases; add €1 for high definition versions. With this move, France and Ireland join the UK, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand to have movies available in iTunes (outside of the United States). The delays in adding additional countries are no doubt due to content license restrictions from the major studios.

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HP to Buy Palm for $1.2 Billion -- Nancy Gohring of IDG News Service writes that HP plans to buy Palm for $1.2 billion, potentially rescuing Palm's webOS from obscurity. The Palm Pre and Pixi smartphones, which run webOS, haven't competed well with the iPhone or smartphones based on Google's Android operating system, and Palm has been looking for a buyer. HP hopes to use Palm's technology to power both smartphones and a new generation of tablet-sized devices. Despite its size, HP hasn't been a significant player in either market, and however good webOS may be, it wasn't enough to slow the adoption of iPhone OS- and Android-based devices.

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Wired Identifies iPhone Prototype Finder -- In the continuing story of the lost iPhone prototype purchased by Gizmodo, Wired has tracked down the person who found the prototype, a 21-year-old who "regrets his mistake," according to a statement from his lawyer.

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Mother's Day iPhoto Book Deadline Approaching -- Want to create an iPhoto book for a Mother's Day gift? Apple notes that the deadline to order a book and have it delivered in time is today, May 3rd (for express shipping). And speaking from experience, it takes some time to choose and lay out all those photos, so you'd best get finished!

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Apple Buys Voice-Based Search Company Siri -- The New York Times is reporting on Apple's recent acquisition of Siri, a startup company specializing in mobile search. The company's iPhone app Siri Assistant enables users to perform searches and tasks like making restaurant reservations, buying movie tickets, and securing cabs with voice-based commands. While it's unclear exactly what Apple plans to do with the technology, the most obvious application would be to provide a native search alternative to Google on the iPhone. The buying of Siri also fits a bigger picture of Apple buying smaller companies to get a leg up in the mobile industry; other recent purchases include the chip maker Intrinsity and the mobile ad company Quattro Wireless.

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Apple Announces Dates for WWDC 2010 -- Apple has announced that the annual Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) will be held 7 June 2010 through 11 June 2010 in San Francisco. Despite the short notice and $1,599 price tag, Apple appears confident that the likely debut of iPhone OS 4 and a new iPhone will ensure strong attendance. Apple's emphasis on iPhone OS development - the Apple Design Awards are open only to apps currently sold in the App Store, for example - is causing some grumpiness among Mac-only developers.

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Princeton Suggests Workaround for iPad DHCP Flaw -- Princeton University's Office of Information Technology is now suggesting that the iPad's DHCP lease renewal problem may be related to the iPad's screen being locked, either manually or automatically. The best workaround seems to be to disable automatic screen locking and avoid locking the screen manually; the downside to this is of course reduced battery life. Other (but worse) possibilities include turning off Wi-Fi or the entire iPad at the end of each session.

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Sony to Discontinue Floppy Disk Sales -- The end of an era is approaching. In March 2011, Sony will discontinue sales of 3.5-inch floppy disks in Japan; apart from a few niche markets, worldwide sales of floppy disks were halted in March 2010. It's not really surprising, and one friend noted in Twitter that it was more interesting to realize that Sony has still been making floppies all this time (other manufacturers have already left the market). The last Mac to support a floppy drive - the PowerBook (FireWire) via a media bay - debuted in February 2000 and was discontinued in January 2001.

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CNET Continues Gizmodo Stolen iPhone Coverage -- Could the story of the iPhone prototype get weirder? Police obtained a warrant to search a Gizmodo editor's home, and the legal speculation is running rampant as to whether Gizmodo is protected by reporter shield laws, or if California's laws regarding lost property will instead take precedence. Declan McCullagh and Greg Sandoval cover recent events for CNET.

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