Oiling the Digital Society

[As ever, you can also read this on the BBC News Website. And Bud Smith at Google Voice Daily mentions it in his round up of GV news.]

The announcement that Google’s chief executive Eric Schmidt is standing down from the Apple board hardly came as a surprise.
Google’s Android is already powering smartphones that offer an open alternative to Apple’s iPhone, while the recent announcement of plans for Chrome OS, an operating system that will directly challenge Mac OS, makes Google a direct competitor to Apple in its core market.
Apple’s recent decision to keep Google Voice out of the iPhone App Store must surely have increased tension on the board, and may have been the last straw.

The move not only annoyed customers, who wanted to take advantage of the single phone number and voice-over-IP calls it offers, but has also invited the attention of the US Federal Communications Commission, which has asked Apple, Google and network provider AT&T to provide it with details of their decision making process.

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Games san frontieres

[As ever, this is also on the BBC News website]

Back in February early adopters of the Spotify music-streaming service found that they could no longer listen to every song in the catalogue. The popular startup had been forced to limit access some songs and artists by country because the licensing deals struck with the record companies and bands specified which territories each song could be played in.

As the company noted on its website at the time, ‘these restrictions are a legacy from when most music was sold on tapes and CDs and they have continued over into streaming music, our hope is that one day restrictions like this will disappear for good’.

Despite protests over the changes the record companies have not yet eased the restrictions, and Spotify joins the long list of digital services that have embraced the global internet but restrict access to their content on the basis of where in the world someone happens to find themselves.

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Open computing

[As ever, this is also on the BBC News website]

In the far off past when I was a professional programmer writing software for money I relied on a variety of tools to fix the inevitable errors in my work. These tools would look at my thousands of lines of code and check that I had all my brackets and semi-colons in the right place and that I hadn’t mis-spelled the names of variables or functions.

I also relied on more serious debugging software, programs like ‘dbx’ that could investigate the inner workings of other programs, monitoring them as they ran and giving me complete access to the instructions I was executing and the data structures they were manipulating.

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Home is where the hard drive is

[Also on the BBC News website, as usual]

One of the more interesting announcements made at last week’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas was that BT Vision, the on-demand TV-over-broadband service, will be available on the Xbox 360 later this year.

It was one of several media-related announcements from Microsoft, including  deals with both MGM and  Disney-ABC that will see Rocky, High School Musical, Lost and many other films and TV series available to download on Xbox Live.
BT plans to use the Xbox 360 as a set top box rather than simply joining Xbox Live, so you’ll only be able to get the service if you have BT broadband at home.

And they won’t be streaming live TV, so Xbox owners won’t be able to throw out their Freeview tuners for a while yet. According to BT ‘the console does not have the capability for live TV or enough space for practical downloading of content.’

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