ExtraBITS for 22 February 2010
After hours on our feet at Macworld Expo 2010, we let our fingers do a lot of walking last week, reading articles about free registration for Macworld Expo 2011, Apple secrecy, dealing with newbies, streaming TV from HBO, an extension to a MacBook repair program, Nuance’s acquisition of MacSpeech, the EFF’s guide to ebook readers’ rights, the approval of the SlingPlayer iPhone app, a forthcoming Steve Jobs biography, and Google’s admission of inadequate testing of Google Buzz.
Free Registration for Macworld Expo 2011 — If you found Macworld Expo useful this year, or if you’re regretting having missed it, you can register for a free pass for next year’s show (January 25th through 29th, 2011). The offer is good until 8 March 2010.
Reuters Explores Apple’s Secrecy in Manufacturing — We’re all aware of how Apple refrains from talking about unannounced products, but this Reuters article gives a sense of just how far Apple also goes to maintain secrecy with manufacturing suppliers like Foxconn. The picture it paints of Apple’s approach is simultaneously entirely understandable and a little chilling.
HBO Launches GO Service — Joining networks like NBC, ABC, CBS, and FOX, HBO has dipped its toes into the waters of Web television with its new GO service – sort of. While the other aforementioned networks enable anyone with a computer hooked up to the Internet to access content, HBO’s GO will be available only to customers currently signed up for its regular cable service. For those folks, Web access to over 600 hours of premium shows and movies is free; for everyone else, there isn’t even an option to pay a fee – at least not yet. It will be interesting to watch how HBO develops this service and its audience in the coming year.
Apple Extends MacBook Repair Program — Apple has recently announced an extension on its repair program for certain MacBook models produced between May 2006 and December 2007. Qualifying machines display a flashing question mark on the screen when turned on and are eligible for a free hard drive replacement. Customers with symptomatic MacBooks should bring them to an Apple Authorized Service Provider or an Apple Store within 3 years from their original date of purchase or until August 15, 2010 (whichever is longer). Apple also said it will reimburse users who paid out-of-pocket to fix this now-covered issue.
Toward a Grand Unified Theory of n00bs — Computer veterans often joke about “newbie” users who have trouble understanding basic computing concepts, but it’s not funny when you’re attempting to help a friend understand something online or if you’re dealing with customer support questions. ShoveBox developer Dan Grover writes about the divide between how computers work and the expectations of those who use them, with suggestions for how to improve the experience.
EFF Offers Guide to Readers’ Rights with Ebooks — The Electronic Frontier Foundation has published what it calls a checklist of digital rights for ebooks, designed to provoke thought and discussion about what rights readers should have when purchasing electronic books.
MacSpeech Acquired by Nuance — MacSpeech has been acquired by Nuance, the firm from which MacSpeech licensed the voice-recognition engine that powers MacSpeech Dictate. MacSpeech had built its own interface and processing wrapper around the engine, which was somewhat different and not yet as full featured as Nuance’s Dragon NaturallySpeaking. Nuance also offers a set of iPhone apps.
Apple Approves SlingPlayer with 3G Support — The expected update to SlingPlayer that allows 3G video streaming has appeared on the App Store. SlingPlayer is an iPhone OS app that lets you stream media over a network or the Internet from a Slingbox digital video recorder. The new version allows you to view video while connected via 3G or Wi-Fi, and is the first app to permit 3G video streaming under new guidelines from AT&T.
Google Admits to Inadequate Buzz Testing — Google tested Google Buzz only internally, the product manager told the BBC, which is obvious, because only engineers working 80-hour weeks would think that people wouldn’t mind having all of their most common email and chat contacts exposed for the world to see.
A Jobs Biography with His Cooperation — Steve Jobs will cooperate with best-selling biographer Walter Isaacson on his biography, the New York Times reports. While the article relies on anonymous sources, it’s obvious Jobs would be happy to be in the company of Benjamin Franklin and Albert Einstein, the subjects of former Time manager editor Isaacson’s previous biographies.