August 2007

Deathly Hallows not coming to iTunes Store

by Michael Alderete on 8/28/2007 · 16 comments

I’m a bit late to have stumbled across this information, but it would appear that the final novel in the Harry Potter series will not be coming to the iTunes Store:

HEARING HARRY
You may have the seen the avalanche of press coverage about the new “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” hardcover selling 8.3 million U.S. copies in its first 24 hours of release. […] More than 225,000 audiobook cassette or compact disc copies were [also] sold the first weekend. Those were the best two-day results in audiobook history, according to Random House. […] What’s not available is an iTunes download for your iPod. The first six Potter books are available through iTunes at prices ranging from $33 to $50. But a Random House spokeswoman said no iTunes date has been announced for “Deathly Hallows” and that she has no other information about download plans.

So if you’re still waiting, I suggest running out to Costco and getting the CD version, which had the lowest price I’ve seen by $10, and then buying a copy of Audiobook Builder to make importing it into iTunes more pleasurable. The two together will still cost less than Deathly Hallows would have cost through the iTunes Store, and you’ll be able to use Audiobook Builder on other books in the future.

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Sign of Machine Intelligence?

by Michael Alderete on 8/28/2007

A friend sent me the following screen capture from Google News:

Google knows that President Bush thinks poor kids without health insurance is funny

I take this as another sign that the first true machine intelligence will emerge in the Googleplex.

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Two and a half years ago, I wrote a post describing a problem I had been having when Rochelle migrated to Mozilla Thunderbird for email, and Norton Anti-Virus was corrupting her Inbox. The gist of the post was that there didn’t seem to be a good anti-virus solution that worked well with Thunderbird.

A couple weeks ago a comment defending Thunderbird came in on the post. I started to respond in another comment, but because the attitude expressed by the commentor is so prevalent in software, I wanted to respond more publicly.

Here’s the meat of the comment (or read in full):

The problem with virus checking in Thunderbird is actually not Thunderbird. It the strategy you are using to scan for email viruses. […] If your antivirus program doesn’t have a function to scan email as it’s downloaded and prior to hitting your inbox, get a real antivirus solution that does. Let’s not be bad mouthing Thunderbird for something you are not doing appropriately in the situation you have.

Well, at the simplest level, this is correct, it’s really just a matter of configuration. But on other levels this philosophy — that the features are there to solve the problem, the user just needs to find and configure them — is not a very customer-friendly one. You could argue that it’s the opposite. There are very few people out there looking to buy “anti-virus software with an email proxy or plug-in to scan incoming emails.” They just want “safe, virus-free email.” By itself, Thunderbird still does not provide this.

And, in spite of 2½ years passing since I wrote the original post, the software and the web site still do not provide any useful information about how to achieve “safe email.” The only official information about anti-virus protection I found today is the FAQ Is Thunderbird susceptible to e-mail viruses?, which still has the same essentially useless information I noted 2½ years ago. On a very real level, the level at which most people will experience the product, getting “safe email” with Thunderbird is a challenge that most people will not be able to meet.

A person can say “don’t bad mouth Thunderbird,” but what they’re really saying is “people who aren’t smart enough to figure out this Thunderbird + anti-virus stuff for themselves should use something else.” I wonder what the response would be if the Thunderbird project posted those words on their web site, instead of the useless words in the FAQ?

Final note: Rochelle’s solution to the dilemma was to switch to Gmail. Works great, and virus-free.

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