The Shifted Librarian - Shifting Libraries at the speed of byte
 Monday, May 03, 2004

How Do You Know You're a Gadget Whore?

Virtual Laser Keyboard Now Available

"I am excited! I have been waiting for this release for some time now, and it has finally happened! 'The Virtual Keyboard (VKB) is now available from iBIZ Technology Corp. This device attaches to handhelds and uses a laser to project the image of a full-size keyboard onto the surface of the desk where the handheld is placed, allowing the user to input text without a physical keyboard.' " [PDA 24/7]

When you see "Compatibility List: Palm Phones: Treo 600" and the next thing you know you have a confirmation email in your inbox! 8-)

Picture of the virtual keyboard

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I Locked Myself Out Again?

Apple's New DRM Reneges on Your Purchase Conditions, Picks Your Pocket

"The new iTunes has stricter DRM than the last version, limiting the number of times you can burn your playlists to seven (it used to be ten), and detecting and blocking similar playlists. Jason Schultz has some good ranty analysis about what this means:

So after one year and 70 million songs, $0.99 now buys you less rather than more -- seven hard burns instead of ten soft ones. What will Apple 'allow' us to do with the music we 'buy' next year? three burns? one? zero?

And what about the songs you've already bought? Don't we get to keep the rights we had before the change?

Well, Apple has conveniently reserved its rights to make changes -- unilaterially -- to its DRM and your ability to make fair use via its Terms of Service and Terms of Sale pretty much anytime it pleases, without even having to give you notice. Link" [Boing Boing]

I can't find it right now, but I saw a post somewhere noting that you could actually keep the songs you've already paid for at the old licensing by not upgrading to the new version of iTunes. The problem with this, of course, is that you can't buy any new ones. Right.

When DRM Goes Wrong or Why I'm Not Using Microsoft Reader Any More

"I was going to do some reading this evening on my computer. I had a copy of the Devil's Banker in Microsoft Reader format. When I tried to open it though, i got a message that informed me that that the security software had been updated and that I needed to update. No problem, I go to the update page but it tells me, I'm updated and activated just fine. Except, I'm not. The e-book won't open. I try to activate the reader again and the fun gets more interesting. I get a note saying that my acc't only has six activations and all of them are used. Let's see, by my count, I have two laptops and one PocketPC active. That would mean three activations left (and of course, the COMPUTER IS ALREADY ACTIVATED)... Yikes. Pulling up my PocketPC, I get the same infuriating message but it does activate again and the book opens there (but still not on my computer).

Bottom line. MS Reader is DRM at its worst. Unlike competitive solutions, like iTunes, Reader won't let me authorize AND de-authorize a computer. Yes, you can request more authorizations from MSFT, but that's sort of useless when you're trying to read a book. I'm staying away from Reader at this point and going to use Palm Digital Media that has a far friendlier DRM that's never locked me out of my content yet. Like most users, I have no objection to DRM, it's necessary to prevent abuses but should never, ever be something a legitimate user should bump into, like i kept bumping into tonight...." [Michael Gartenberg, via Scobleizer]

Except that, I bought a book from Palm once. Once. They tied my credit card number to the title, and three years later, I have no idea what that credit card number was, so I can't access the book anymore.

So in summary, iTunes, MS Reader, and Palm Digital Media DRM: bad.

This is what really scares me about libraries getting into the digital files business, even outside of all the issues surrounded subscription-based access versus ownership. When terms change on a whim, upgrades take away existing rights, and files become locked and inaccessible, how is this going to affect how we circulate titles to our patrons? It's not like libraries have any leverage in this situation since publishers and Congress are doing their best to eradicate fair use rights, including the right of first sale.

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