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Netflix and Blockbuster OnlineThis actually makes a lot of sense, but is something that we don’t often think about. Apparently, the way that Blockbuster Online, Netflix, and similar services send mail is a big problem for the USPS, despite the large amount of revenue these services generate for the postal service. The size of the mail envelopes do not conform to standards set long ago, which the machines used to process mail go by. As a result, rental DVD’s can either be forced into the machines, resulting in breakage, or separated and sorted by hand. Many solutions have been proposed, but none accepted at this point. Still, it is an interesting read.

The problem with CD/DVD mail is that the rules, designed to ensure that mail pieces claiming discounted rates can be processed on letter sorting machines, are useless in evaluating CD mail designs.  Most CD/DVD mailers that comply with letter processing regulations are not compatible with letter processing equipment.  CD/DVDs are not paper and present unique processing challenges.  The USPS processing plants have learned the differences between paper and plastic the hard way.  As marketing has pushed for more CD/DVD mail, postal operations have had to contend with more pieces that are incompatible with their equipment.  Currently, the two largest companies presenting this non-compatible automation mail are NetFlix and Block Buster; but they are not the only customers with mail piece design problems.  New guidelines must be developed to ensure that CD/DVD mail, claiming automated letter rates, is capable of being processed on USPS letter sorting machines.


Read More | Postcom


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Mac Mini Test Drive DeadLess than one day after offering a Mac Mini test drive, it seems Apple has suddenly pulled the plug on the offer.  While no explanation has been given as of yet, Apple affiliates have received an e-mail from LinkShare stating:

As a follow-up to an email we sent you this morning, please note that the Mac mini Test Drive promotion is no longer offered at the Apple Store. We have dynamically updated the banners and landing pages for this promotion, so if you are featuring this promotion on your site, they will automatically update to another promotion. Please be sure to update your Mac mini Test Drive text links. The rest of the promotions featured in today’s email are still live.

We apologize for the inconvenience.

Thank you,
Apple Store Affiliate Program

While it may not have been a big deal for most, seeing as how it was more of an extended return policy mascarading than a great deal, it’s still quite odd to see it pulled barely a day after going live with it.

Read More | The Unofficial Apple Weblog


Apple-Cingular The internet is abuzz with rumors and speculation. A number of iPod media sites have received an invitation to a special Apple event on September 7th with the tantalizing line “1,000 songs in your pocket changed everything. Here we go again.” included with each one. The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Apple has reached an agreement with Cingular to offer a Motorola cell phone capable of playing songs from the iTunes music store. With news like that from a reliable source like the WSJ, the iTunes phone (iPhone?) can’t be far off. Elsewhere speculation on a 2GB or 4GB iPod shuffle, possibly with a screen, will be launching at the same time. With a sassy line like “here we go again” Apple might even be dropping a video capable iPod line, thus completing their digital media trinity.


Read More | Wall Street Journal (Subscription required)


iPod Battery SettlementWhen the Apple iPod first came out, the product was known for having batteries that didn’t seem to last too long.  If you haven’t heard, someone actually took Apple to court over this and finally a settlement has been reached. Buyers have until September 30 to file the paperwork for battery replacement.

A preliminary settlement was reached in May. Under the terms of the deal, buyers of first- and second-generation iPods with battery issues who bought their iPods on or before May 31, 2004 can get either a $25 check or $50 in credit at an Apple Computer store.

Those who bought third-generation iPods on or before May 31, 2004 can either get a $50 credit or send their iPod back to Apple and have the battery fixed or get a replacement device.


Read More | News.com


San Diego Computer MusemThe San Diego Computer Museum officially closed on August 27th and will be packing its bags before November.  Currently, this non-profit organization is seeking volunteers to pack up the exhibits and help them move.  They are also asking for donations for boxes and bubble wrap. Up to now they don’t have a new fixed location, but they need to leave as their current building has been purchased and will be repurposed.  On a lighter note, this exhibit totally rocks.  You can tell it’s ancient since Macs haven’t carried floppy disks since the Clinton era.


Read More | San Diego Computer Museum via Make


Apple Intel In a not-so-stunning move, Apple has newly stated that using PowerPC chips from Freescale is mandatory.  In fact, under the signed agreement, Freescale must provide Apple with the chips until 2008 and under that same agreement Apple is under no obligation to use them past a work in progress.

The deal, which has been logged with the US Securities and Exchange Commission, seems to mean that either Jobs’ Mob is hedging its bets on any Intel deal or thinks it will take a long time to do it.

These things do indeed take time and Apple is known for doing things their way or the highway.  Looks like Jobs is leery about moving too fast on the Intel Project.


Read More | EETimes


iTunes Music Industry Battle Those pesky music industry execs are at it again - and this time they’re looking not to take on file-swapping college kids or bootlegged CDs.  Their next target?  Apple’s wildly popular iTunes music service, which revolutionized and breathed life back into the (legal) music market with their simple pricing scheme (.99 per song, no matter what song it is) and easy-to-use service.  The industry, who once hailed iTunes as a savior of sorts, now seem to have changed their… well… tune.

A sore point for some music executives is the fact that Apple generates much more money selling iPod players than it does as a digital music retailer, leading to complaints that Mr. Jobs is profiting more from tracks downloaded to fill the 21 million iPods sold so far than are the labels that produced the recordings.

Andrew Lack, the chief executive of Sony BMG, discussed the state of the overall digital market at a media and technology conference three months ago and said that Mr. Jobs “has got two revenue streams: one from our music and one from the sale of his iPods.”

“I’ve got one revenue stream,” Mr. Lack said, joking that it would require a medical professional to locate. “It’s not pretty.”

Excuse me while I laugh myself stupid.  I’m sure Mr. Lack is nowhere near the soup kitchen, if he’s the chief executive of Sony BMG.  I read things like this and just about always fail to see where these top-dollar executives find the sense of entitlement they always seem to develop as soon as anyone besides them is making any money.

Read More | NY Times


Apple stockAccording to Motley Fool, Apple ranks as a “gas proof” stock, unlikely to be affected as much by soaring gas prices.  Not bad!

Apple is second among the Motley Fool’s list of seven “gas-proof” stocks. While many organizations—from petroleum companies to Wal-Mart—have been affected by, or blamed for, the soaring cost of crude oil, there are are also “plenty of stocks sitting pretty, miles away from the nearest pump.” For example, the iPod is “the gadget of choice for active pedestrians and public-transportation commuters,” according to the report.

You know it.


Read More |  MacNN


Blockbuster Coupons

I just walked out of Blockbuster with a total of eight coupons due to the class action settlement from way back in 2002. Apparently, the more late fees you paid, the more coupons you receive. I guess I must have paid quite a bit. This is what I walked away with:

  • Two Free Non-New Release Movie Rentals
  • Five $1 Off Rental/Nonfood Purchase
  • One Rent One Get One Free

It’s a nice gesture and all, but the fact is that I am a Blockbuster Online member. This means I get unlimited rentals by mail, plus two free in-store rentals each month. The only coupons that I will likely use are the two free non-new movie rentals. If you paid late fees to Blockbuster in the past, you should also have coupons due if you haven’t received them already. Let us know what you get!


Dartmouth 2009Dartmouth’s Class of 2009 will enjoy converged living for the next four years.  The Hanover, NH location has an extraordinary wired and wireless network that spans over the entire campus.  Students will be able to use their laptops to make phone calls, watch television, email, and access the Internet.  All incoming freshmen will be given a security key to use over the various computers, enforcing that security is a priority at the school. I think I would prefer this over a school iPod.


Read More | Dartmouth News


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