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a man slumped on his desk, from 'The Sleep of Reason Produces



iPod Touch: Cover Flow, No Cover Story

So I didn’t get an iPhone 3G, because really I couldn’t bring myself to sign up to a bunch of AT&T years. But when I saw the refurbished iPod Touchs for $199 on the Apple site, I admit I caved. It’s sort of the sad halfway house for those of us who are strong in spirit, but weak in the flesh. It’s currently sitting next to my far more pure N810. I am rubbing them together in the hope that some of the nice implementation in the Apple product rubs off into the Nokia open source experiment.

I am sort of enjoying the flashy brattiness of the Touch, but I fear he is putting up a spirited fight against my Linux set-up, and thus rendering himself useless. Sure, people have Pwnage 2.0 now, so you can ssh into it, and have all the freedoms that Apple don’t want; but the latest firmware update also changed the hash value that the iPod software uses to check the “integrity” of the iTunes database. If you want to copy over music from a Linux machine on an iPod Touch/iPhone 2.0 firmware, you’re out of luck for now. Maybe not for long, as it didn’t take them very long to break the hash when Apple created this little roadblock. I will continue to lurk around on #gtkpod for the good news.

I’m racking my brains to understand a good argument (not any argument, a good argument) for why Apple would put a concealed checksum in the database in the first place. It doesn’t protect the music, or any copyrighted material that Apple might have a contractual agreement to protect (the music is still in the clear, AFAIK — it’s just the database that’s checked). It’s not part of the phone locking system, which again Apple can claim it needs to protect for a continuing business relationship. And it certainly doesn’t have a consumer-friendly reason, like making sure the database data is coherent — if the database is corrupt, iTunes doesn’t offer to reinstall your music, it demands you restore your entire iPod (actually losing your purchased music or apps whatever in the meantime).

The only reasoning that makes sense is that Apple dearly wants iPod and iPhones locked ever-more tightly into iTunes. Obviously, I’m shocked, shocked. But if I was Apple, I’d try and come up with another cover story quick before the regulators start sniffing…

4 Responses to “iPod Touch: Cover Flow, No Cover Story”

  1. M-.-n Says:

    First of all, congratulation for your blog, this is my comment but I’ve been lurking for a little while and really enjoy it.

    In my opinion, it seems pretty normal they will bind EVERYTHING to iTunes since it’s the only foot they have in the microsoft pie. Start with buying an iPod, huh, now gotta install iTunes.. ho, you wanna stay up to date ? put automated updated.. mmm, now it does want to install safari. Safari on a PC ???? WTF ? If that is not a way to get the worm in the apple.

    I do have very mixed feeling about the iPhone/iTouchMySelf. For one, Apple is too clever at mind games and bringing people to desire stuff they don’t really need. Then I kind of hate the way people want iPhones and will fork a very substantial amount of money without even thinking if they need it, or what could be a USEFUL application they could run on it. On the other hand you gotta give props on the nice piece of engineering…

    Still, I do enjoy my EEE a lot.


  2. Julian Bond Says:

    Where’s the iTouch 160Gb? One day I’ll want to replace my 160Gb classic and I really need all that space. And I find it hard to understand why the iTouch API is as locked down as the iPhone’s. Shouldn’t there be an iTouch that has a mic and will run Skype over wifi? Oh. Wait.

    And yes, you’re absolutely right, the relentless fiddling to try and ensure lock-in sucks. Really.

    But mostly, where the hell is the competition? Nobody else makes a PMP >80Gb unless you want a no-name brick with a 2.5″ hard drive. Nobody else makes a cheapish PDA that’s as shiny, shiny.

  3. dannyobrien Says:

    Marc – yeah, I’m a fool for not thinking that they’re trying to avoid an embrace-and-extend project on the M’soft side, but the timing is odd for that. I don’t actually know of any iTunes competitors in the Windows space yet. The fact that they added the hash, then changed the hash again when the only real user of it are the Linux apps (AFAIK) seems like it’s just control freakery for the sake of it. Which, of course, Steve Jobs would never ever stoop to…

  4. cms Says:

    It is a bit suboptimal the way previously useful Phone/ PIM functionality like contacts, calendaring , SMS are migrating away from their previous places in OS X / bluetooth and into iTunes, presumably because that’s easierto manage than porting iCal / iSync to Windows.

    I’m with you on the iPod touch though. Of course, if you live in a country where the 3G is plentiful, and the contract smart-phones are heavily subsidised, you can easily pair the iPod with a handset and data tariff of your own choosing, as I recently blogged – giving you most of the benefits of the 3G Jesus phone, with marginally more freedom of choice, at least with regards to phone contracts. I think it’s perhaps a better tablet than the phone model.


petit disclaimer:
My employer has enough opinions of its own, without having to have mine too.