March 2004

Making your own AAC files bookmarkable on iPod

Doug Adams of Doug’s Scripts for iTunes has just posted about a nice little bit of Applescript he’s coded to make any AAC file bookmarkable on your iPod, just like’s audio books. Apparently all it takes is to change the file type (not the extension) to the four-character string “M4B ” (note the space). Apple posted the method in their Knowledge Base (article #93731), but the article was then quickly removed.

I have to wonder why Apple felt the need to pull this info (I also wonder how/if they thought pulling it would stop it from being used now that it’s out, but that’s another question). My best guess is they have some sort of exclusive deal with for bookmarking capability, and somebody blew it by revealing the hack they used. I’d love to hear if someone knows more about the politics behind this though.

(Thanks to Rawhide for the link, and of course Doug Adams for the script!)

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TSA tries to censor public record — again

A month ago it was reported that the Transportation Security Administration was trying to expunge a contractor’s congressional testimony from the public record and all web copies. The contractor, James McNeil of McNeil Technologies, testified about how his red-team of undercover testers were able to smuggle guns through airport security at the Rochester, NY airport by hiding them under bandages.

According to today’s Wall Street Journal, they’re at it again, now asking that McNeil’s comments that the TSA is screening for drugs and kiddie porn also be removed from testimony:

CENSORED: Transportation Security Administration asks a House panel to redact from a hearing record a contractor’s remarks that TSA has airport screeners also looking for drugs and child pornography. It “softens the focus on security,” testified CEO James McNeil of McNeil Technologies, of Springfield, Va. TSA says screeners simply are told to alert police to such items. McNeil says TSA hasn’t complained to him.


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George Michael shifting to free online music

The Indy Channel reports that George Michael (half of the hit 80’s duo Wham) has announced that after his next album he’s quitting the music industry — and shifting to giving away his music for free download:

“I’ve been very well remunerated as they say for my talents over the years, so I really don’t need the public’s money,” said Michael. “I’d really like to have something on the Internet with charitable donation optional, where anyone can download my music for free. I’ll have my favorite charities up there and people will hopefully contribute to that.”

Michael said that he expects this move will lower his public profile, since few people will care about him if he’s “not making money for someone.” He also believes he will enjoy the process of making music much more, once he is not contractually bound to release albums on a pre-determined schedule.

Michael is one of many high-profile artists with a bone to pick with the music cartel, having practically stopped his career after a bitter legal battle with his label, Columbia. Hopefully the few winners from the previous system will be able to blaze a new trail that newcomers with more to lose can follow.

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Audio Lectures

About a month ago I started downloading audio lectures and listening to them on my iPod. There’s something absolutely wonderful about being able to browse through lectures by statesmen, Nobel laureates and other top minds of our era — here’re a dozen that I’ve especially liked:

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News on Mars

Well this should be interesting…

NASA will hold a press conference Tuesday to announce “significant findings” about water on Mars based on evidence from its Opportunity Mars rover.

“It’s going to be the most significant science results that we’ve had from the rovers, and it’s bearing on their primary mission,” NASA spokesperson Don Savage told . That mission is to find signs of water that might support life.

Will the announcement change how we think about Mars?

“Anything of a significant nature has that possibility,” Savage said. “Sure.”

I was right. It was interesting.

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