Yesterday, I updated my version of iTunes to 6.0.2, at the recommendation of Apple's Software Update program. I noticed immediately that iTunes had a new pane in the main window -- the "Mini-Store" which showed albums and tracks for sale by the artist whose song was presently playing.
The question is: how does Apple know which version of the Mini-Store to show you unless iTunes first transmits the current song that you're playing to Apple? I've turned off the Mini-Store, but a look at Apple's site, the iTunes license, and the iTunes documentation does not state whether this turns off this spyware behavior, or whether it merely causes iTunes not to show me things to buy based on the track I'm presently playing.
I love iTunes because it's a clean music player. But no amount of clean UI is worth surrendering my privacy for -- I wouldn't buy a stereo that phoned home to Panasonic and told it what I was listening to; I wouldn't buy a shower radio that delivered my tuning preferences to Blaupunkt. I certainly am not comfortable with Apple shoulder-surfing me while I listen to digital music, particularly if they're doing so without my meaningful, informed consent and without disclosing what they intend on doing with that data.
At very least, Apple must deliver information about whether iTunes gathers and transmits your data when the Mini-Store is switched off, and about what it does with the data the Mini-Store transmits when it's loaded.
Each time you play a different song, the MiniStore features information about the artist currently playing, as well as "Listeners Also Bought..." Here's a full size capture of Apple marketing in action: as you can see, I'm playing Mary J. Blige covering U2's "One", and the MiniStore shows other albums from Mary J. Blige and U2.Link (Thanks, Marc!)
This means, of course, that every single time I play a song the information is sent back to Apple. You can turn off the MiniStore at the click of a button, but it's not clear whether turning off the MiniStore is the same as turning off the flow of data (one doubts it). And don't bother looking for a way to turn this "feature" off in the Preference pane: it's not there.
Midcentury LSD Experiments at Canadian mental hospitalBob says,
The post about Albert Hofmann's 100th birthday reminded me of the 1950s and '60s LSD experiments held at a hospital in Weyburn, Canada. This is the hospital where the word "psychedelic" was coined by Dr. Osmand.
Around 1991, I met a former orderly of this hospital. He told me that they had no idea about how much LSD they could safely take and they gave him enough to float the hospital. Apparently, the staff was used in these experiments.
This link gives a brief history of this mental institution. A very creepy place.
: Cibby says,
While we're on the topic of LSD experiments in Canada, did you know the CIA funded LSD experimentation on humans there? At the Allen Memorial Hospital in Montreal, Dr. Ewen Cameron was hired by the CIA and recieved $69,000 to investigate the use of LSD for erasing memories and rebuilding the psyche. Here's the link to the Canadian Bulletin on Medical History. It was a brilliant idea for the CIA to outsource that to Canada. Those lazy Canucks would never suspect a thing!</font>
posted by Xeni Jardin at 08:14:37 PM
Steve Wozniak interviewed by PescoAs the writer-in-residence for UC Berkeley's College of Engineering, I recently had the opportunity to interview Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak. Steve graduated from UC Berkeley in 1986, but the name on his diploma is Rocky Raccoon Clark. From the interview (photo by the amazing Bart Nagel):
Q: You're quite the prankster.
SW: After my initial year at Berkeley I started the first dial-a-joke in the Bay Area. Back then you couldn’t really get an answering machine unless you were a movie theater. Even then, you’d have to lease it from the phone company. So that’s what I did. I met my first wife when she called the dial-a-joke line. Usually I’d just turn the machine on, but I happened to answer that time. I said, “I bet I can hang up faster than you,” and hung up. But she called back and we talked. I’ve always been extremely involved in pranking. Some of my pranks are so complicated that they take days, even months, to work out. I think humor is a creative act. Pranks are just a creative form of logic. My iPod is filled with comedy as well as songs...
Q: Are you pleased with the evolution of the personal computer?
SW: When we started, the focus was on doing as much as possible with as little as possible, in terms of resources. Our first products, the Apple I and Apple II, were tools that you could learn to use and write programs to solve your challenges to become more of a master in your life and work. But as the revenues of this new market grew, lots of other people wrote the programs for you. So our users learned to use those programs rather than write their own. Many advances in computers, the GUI [graphical user interfaces] first implemented well by Apple with the Macintosh, were so much more important in giving us the things we appreciate about a computer today.
And on the second day, Doubleday shrugged.
Two days after an investigative report published online presented strong evidence that significant portions of James Frey's best-selling memoir, "A Million Little Pieces," were made up, the book's publisher issued a statement saying that, in essence, it did not really matter.
"Memoir is a personal history whose aim is to illuminate, by way of example, events and issues of broader social consequence," said a statement issued by Doubleday and Anchor Books, the divisions of Random House Inc. that published the book in hardcover and paperback, respectively. "By definition, it is highly personal. In the case of Mr. Frey, we decided 'A Million Little Pieces' was his story, told in his own way, and he represented to us that his version of events was true to his recollections.
Eyes Open to Many Sides of Life, Not Just the Hilarious </nyt_headline>
Elliott Erwitt has probably taken more laugh-out-loud pictures than any other photographer in the history of the medium. At 77, this veteran photojournalist and obsessive traveler has made a long career of capturing life's comedic parade and fleeting sight gags. He has been justly compared with comic geniuses like Harpo Marx and Charlie Chaplin and seems never to have met a child or dog that he didn't want to photograph. Evidence of the latter affinity include books of photographs titled "Son of Bitch," "To the Dogs" and "Woof."
A concerned alumna of Princeton on Alito
I think Samuel Alito was lying when he said yesterday that he couldn't recall being a member of Concerned Alumni of Princeton. He was an undergraduate at the university from 1968 to 1972. I entered Princeton in 1971, and as a member of the third class of women to attend Princeton, I remember the group quite well.
Coeducation began at Princeton shortly after Alito started there, and the debate beforehand was quite heated, with CAP at the center of the opposition to admitting women. According to another classmate at the time, CAP "supported a permanent quota that would keep the female student population at only 1,000 out of a total of 4,400." How could someone who entered the university when it was all male forget such a controversy?
I was undoubtedly among those "very smart people and very privileged people behaving irresponsibly" whom Alito says he saw at college, so I'm kind of glad I never knowingly ran into him. But now I'm worried that he's being irresponsible -- or worse -- by lying to the American people about this and other issues. If he's not lying about CAP, if his memory's really that bad, do we really want him on the Supreme Court?
The Associated Press
Wednesday, January 11, 2006; 2:36 PM
LOS ANGELES -- Angelina Jolie is expecting a baby this summer with Brad Pitt, finally affirming the long-presumed relationship previously only glimpsed on African beaches and in paparazzi snapshots.
Pitt's publicist, Cindy Guagenti, told The Associated Press on Wednesday that Jolie is pregnant and that Pitt is the father, confirming People magazine's earlier report.
"Yes, I'm pregnant," the magazine quoted Jolie as telling a charity aid worker Monday in the Dominican Republic, where she is filming "The Good Shepherd" with Matt Damon.
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Drug Check Ordered After Tax Case Plea
By Yolanda Woodlee and Carol D. Leonnig
Washington Post Staff Writers
Wednesday, January 11, 2006; A01
D.C. Council member Marion Barry tested positive for cocaine use in the fall in a drug test ordered by a court after he pleaded guilty to misdemeanor tax charges, according to two sources familiar with Barry's case.
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Wednesday, January 11, 2006; 1:20 AM
I spent Tuesday afternoon driving down to Mountain View, Calif., about 30 to 40 minutes drive south of San Francisco, to visit Mozilla Corp., the shop behind the Firefox browser and Thunderbird e-mail program that I've written about several times. I wanted to get some background about how this small firm, wholly owned by the non-profit Mozilla Foundation, goes about its business, and about what it plans to do next with its two core releases.
Here's what I learned over a couple of hours of chats at Mozilla's offices, a small, generic building set among others just like it, right off U.S. 101 and, coincidentally, around the corner from Google's immensely larger headquarters.
Who works on Firefox?
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© Keeley 1941 Chinese Stamp