7/15/2008

P2P not hurting DVD, Blu-ray sales as revenues up from 2007

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

Consumers may be tightening their belts, but that reduction apparently hasn’t affected DVD sales just yet. In fact, spending on DVDs and Blu-ray discs during the first half of 2008 showed a slight increase over the same period a year ago, according to data collected by Home Media Magazine. Spending on rentals rose even more, indicating that perhaps part of consumers’ money-saving efforts involve cozying up to a movie at home for entertainment instead of heading out for a night on the town—or downloading from the Internet.

Home Media found that sales of DVDs and Blu-ray discs rose from $6.8 billion in early 2007 to $6.87 billion in the first half of this year—a modest increase of 1.1 percent. This number appears to coincide with “studio reports” saying that unit sales were also up 1.1 percent to 412.3 million discs in the first half of 2008, according to the Hollywood Reporter. Rentals increased by 2.6 percent, from $3.7 billion to $3.9 billion.

Analysts seem to think that these numbers also serve as proof that downloading—legal or illegal—is not hurting DVD sales as much as Doomsdayers would like to think.

Researcher to demonstrate attack code for Intel chips

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

Security researcher and author Kris Kaspersky plans to demonstrate how an attacker can target flaws in Intel’s microprocessors to remotely attack a computer using JavaScript or TCP/IP packets, regardless of what operating system the computer is running.

Kaspersky will demonstrate how such an attack can be made in a presentation at the upcoming Hack In The Box (HITB) Security Conference in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, during October. The proof-of-concept attacks will show how processor bugs, called errata, can be exploited using certain instruction sequences and a knowledge of how Java compilers work, allowing an attacker to take control of the compiler.

“I’m going to show real working code…and make it publicly available,” Kaspersky said, adding that CPU bugs are a growing threat and malware is being written that targets these vulnerabilities.

Different bugs will allow hackers to do different things on the attacked computers. “Some bugs just crash the system, some allow a hacker to gain full control on the kernel level. Some just help to attack Vista, disabling security protections,” he said.

The demonstrated attack will be made against fully patched computers running a range of operating systems, including Windows XP, Vista, Windows Server 2003, Windows Server 2008, Linux and BSD, Kaspersky said, adding that the demonstration of an attack against a Mac is also a possibility.

Warner to offer cheaper Blu-ray movies later this year

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

As much as we complain about the high prices of standalone Blu-ray players, in some ways the high prices of Blu-ray movies are even more frustrating. Warner Home Video has taken a step in the right direction, by announcing that the company will offer discounted pricing on select titles this fall. Blu-ray buyers can expect prices between $17 and $20, which is a lot more than DVDs sell for, but less than the $20-$30 prices Blu-ray discs currently go for.

While there isn’t a complete list of movies that will be available at this lower pricing, Video Business reports that The Fugitive, Enter the Dragon, Clockwork Orange, The Shining, The Aviator, Road Warrior and Swordfish will get the discount. Additionally, some newer movies will get a smaller price cut, including 300, The Departed, I Am Legend, Ocean’s 13 and We Are Marshall.

World’s oldest blogger signs off singing aged 108

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

An Australian woman renowned as the world’s oldest blogger has died at the age of 108, with her last posting talking about her ailing health but also how she still sings a happy song every day.

Olive Riley, of Woy Woy about 50 miles north of Sydney, began blogging in February last year, sharing stories from her life during the two world wars, raising three children on her own, and working as a station cook in the outback.

The physically frail but mentally alert Riley won an international audience with her blog, The Life of Riley, and series of videos posted on YouTube with her talking and singing.

Riley was said to be the world’s oldest blogger as she was 12 years older than the previous titleholder, Spain’s Maria Amelia. She was born in 1899 and would have turned 109 in October.

Google/Viacom Agree To Preserve User Anonymity In Data Shakedown

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

The Google-Viacom showdown over the handover of YouTube user data appears to be over. The two sides agreed to changes in a previous ruling that would have required Google to hand over user id’s, IP addresses and a list of all viewed YouTube videos to Viacom in connection with their ongoing copyright infringement litigation.

After an online uprising against the order, Viacom tried to assert that they never requested personally identifiable information (they did), and later promised not to use the information to sue individuals. The value of that promise was questioned by us and many others.

The new order, filed this evening, states that Google will substitue user id’s and IP addresses for anonymous but unique identifiers.

AOL launches personal finance site

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

Time Warner Inc’s AOL will launch a personal finance site on Tuesday, adding to a roster of new properties that do not bear its name.

The new site, called WalletPop.com, is a spin-off of AOL’s Money & Finance channel and will focus on consumer and personal finance. AOL Money & Finance will continue to business and investing news and tools.

The launch of another site not bearing the AOL brand is part of a plan to create new online businesses courting younger audiences unfamiliar with a company whose heyday ended with the popularity of high speed Internet access.

XBox 360 to stream Netflix movies

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

Microsoft Corp.’s Xbox 360 video game console will be able to stream thousands of movies over the Internet, thanks to a deal announced Monday with Netflix Inc. that highlights the way gaming devices are expanding into all-purpose home-entertainment hubs.

The arrangement, revealed at the E3 Media & Business Summit in Los Angeles, will let Netflix subscribers stream 10,000 movies and TV shows to Xbox consoles for viewing on television sets, beginning this fall. Xbox had movies and shows available for download before, but only half as many.

“This generation of consoles will change the face of home entertainment more than any other generation before,” said John Schappert, corporate vice president of Microsoft’s interactive entertainment division.

As Microsoft vies for a stronger foothold in the living room, so is rival Sony Corp., which has tried to make its PlayStation 3 into a broader entertainment device by including Blu-ray high-definition DVD players in the consoles.

The deal with Microsoft also marks an important expansion for Netflix, whose 18-month-old streaming service - which supplements its DVD-by-mail program - has been available on computers instead of TVs, unless consumers had bought a small streaming device from a Netflix-backed startup called Roku Inc.

Microsoft already has sold more than 10 million Xbox 360 consoles in the United States. More than half of Xbox 360 owners pay $50 a year for a “gold” membership, which will be required for access to Netflix’s “Watch Instantly” library. They also must subscribe to Netflix, which charges $9 per month for the least expensive plan that includes unlimited streaming.

In partnering with Microsoft, Netflix may be building the streaming service to prepare for the day when the convenience and widespread availability of video downloading kills its DVD-by-mail service.

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