‘DVD Jon’ frees your media with DoubleTwist

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

The man notorious for cracking the DVD code, and Apple’s FairPlay DRM, is looking to make a legitimate business out of his expertise.

Beginning Tuesday, the first product from his company DoubleTwist Ventures, will enter open beta. Called DoubleTwist, it’s a free desktop client that essentially allows any kind of music, photo, or video file to be shared between a long list of portable media players, and through Web-based social networks.

Instead of iTunes songs only being able to play on iTunes or videos taken with an Nokia N95 remaining locked on the phone, DoubleTwist software allows for dragging, dropping, and syncing of different media formats no matter the device.

The idea, according to DoubleTwist founder and CEO Monique Farantzos, is that media files should be more like e-mail. It shouldn’t matter what service you create the file in, or on what type of hardware, it all should work together seamlessly, she says.

Farantzos recruited DVD Jon, or Jon Lech Johansen, and the two have been working with about 10 others for the past eight months on the DoubleTwist software. Johansen says DoubleTwist allows him to bring the success he’s found to a wider audience.

“It’s one opportunity to write something for your Web site for use by a couple thousand geeks,” he said in an interview. But with DoubleTwist, the idea is to hide all the complexity of making easy transfers of files from the user so that even non-techie types will understand. “The goal is to make something your parents can use,” he said.

Finnish police censor free speech site via blacklist

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

A recent incident in which a Finnish free speech activist was censored by his government highlights the dangers of secret blacklists of supposedly illegal Web sites.

The spat started when programmer Matti Nikki began to research which Web sites were secretly blocked by Finnish Internet providers based on a list compiled by the government. Although the secret blacklist was supposed to be reserved for overseas child pornography, Nikki discovered that, at least in his view, the majority of Web sites blocked were perfectly legal.

And what happened when Nikki published his findings on its Lapsiporno.info site? You guessed it: Embarrassed government officials put his exposé on their blacklist as well.

BitTorrent Developers Introduce Comcast Busting Encryption

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

Several BitTorrent developers have joined forces to propose a new protocol extension with the ability to bypass the BitTorrent interfering techniques used by Comcast and other ISPs. This new form of encryption will be implemented in BitTorrent clients including uTorrent, so Comcast subscribers are free to share again.

Mozilla Thunderbird 3.0: New calendar, better search

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

A new Mozilla Foundation effort to improve its Thunderbird open-source e-mail software now has an official name–and its first public goals.

Thunderbird 3.0 is due to ship by the end of the year with a more comprehensive search feature and official integration of the Lightning calendar add-on, said David Ascher, chief executive of the newly named Mozilla Messaging subsidiary. The first alpha release will come sooner, though, for those who want to test the software.

“I’m expecting we’ll have some public releases probably within three months,” Ascher said.

Mozilla is best known for its success with the Firefox browser, which has dented Microsoft Internet Explorer’s dominance and sparked programmers to build a rich selection of extensions. Now the group is trying to apply the formula to e-mail software. Even though many rely on Web-based services for the chore, e-mail software is still widely used, and Thunderbird could open another major beachhead for open-source software in mainstream computing.

Microsoft giving away developer software

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

The Redmond-based software maker said late Monday it will let students download Visual Studio Professional Edition, a software development environment; Expression Studio, which includes graphic design and Web site and hybrid Web-desktop programming tools; and XNA Game Studio 2.0, a video game development program.

The company will also give away SQL Server 2005 Developer Edition and Windows Server Standard Edition.

Toshiba Officially Quit HD DVD, ending format war

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

Japan’s Toshiba Corp said on Tuesday it would stop promoting its HD DVD format for the next-generation DVD after losing the support of key studios and retailers to the Blu-ray technology backed by Sony Corp.

The decision ends a war between rival consortiums led by Toshiba and Sony vying to set the standard for high-definition movies on DVDs.

Toshiba said it would begin to reduce shipments of HD DVD players and recorders and aim to end the business by the end of next month.

The Blu-ray win means consumers no longer have to choose between rival incompatible formats and run the risk of being stuck with a 21st century equivalent of Betamax — Sony’s videotape technology that lost out to VHS in the 1980s.

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