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Mac OS X Services in Snow Leopard

Mac OS X Services let one application supply its powers to another; for example, a Grab service helps TextEdit paste a screenshot into a document. Most users either don't know that Services exist, because they're in an obscure hierarchical menu (ApplicationName > Services), or they mostly don't use them because there are so many of them.

Snow Leopard makes it easier for the uninitiated to utilize this feature; only services appropriate to the current context appear. And in addition to the hierarchical menu, services are discoverable as custom contextual menu items - Control-click in a TextEdit document to access the Grab service, for instance.

In addition, the revamped Keyboard preference pane lets you manage services for the first time ever. You can enable and disable them, and even change their keyboard shortcuts.

Submitted by
Doug McLean



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MSN Music Doesn't Kill Future Playability of Purchased Tracks

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Microsoft blinked on its way to terminating the future capability to play music purchased from the defunct MSN Music store. On 31-Aug-08, The company had planned to pull the plug on its authorization servers, the back-end systems that are required for music owners to change the set of machines on which their purchased music is allowed to play. Computers that were already authorized to play music would still be able to play the music, however; Microsoft wasn't planning to use what's called "self-help" and disable existing rights and authorizations. (See "Thank You for Not Playing: Microsoft Expires DRMed Music," 2008-04-30.)

The company backpedaled a few weeks ago and said that it will keep its authorization systems running until at least the end of 2011. Microsoft faced a storm of media and user criticism over the move, which was nearly the worst-case scenario for those who oppose restrictive digital rights management. (The worst case is when all music playing rights would expire, not just the right of transfer and authorization.)

It was clear to observers that Microsoft could also have faced class-action lawsuits, given the large number of purchasers, the lack of alternatives (excepting ripping and burning discs, degrading the music quality), and the unilateral action.

Judges are increasingly handing down negative judgments and fines against the music industry trade group RIAA. Microsoft had to view the downside to its move to save most likely a few hundred thousand dollars a year against millions in defending itself and tens of millions if they lost a multi-year lawsuit.


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