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Mix: Tsunami relief, iTMS, Target, Microsoft conference

This year’s Grammy Awards will feature a special fund-raising musical performance of John Lennon and Paul McCartney’s “Across The Universe” on behalf of continued tsunami relief efforts. Viewers will be able to purchase the performance from the iTunes Music Store for 99 cents.

New at iTunes this week: “We Will Become Silhouettes” by The Postal Service, “iTunes Essentials: Valentine’s Day” by Various Artists, “Beautiful” by Moby, and “Seventeen Days” by 3 Doors Down.

You can get 10 percent off iPods at Target.com with coupon code TCFEBRUARYJS. The discount can also be used on iPod shuffles, which the retailer just made available for pre-order.

CNET News.com reports that Apple’s iPod was everywhere at this week’s VSLive, a Microsoft conference for Visual Studio programmers.

Tunewear intros Prie PodWallet

pic Tunewear today introduced the Prie PodWallet, a new compact wallet for all models of Apple’s iPod and iPod mini. A smaller version of the company’s Prie PodOrganizer announced earlier this week, the black leather Prie PodWallet has a removable cover for iPod screen protection and openings for the Dock Connector and headphone ports. Inside, it features a zippered mesh net bag, four slots for credit cards, room for approximately 20 business cards, belt loop, and an expanding pocket to hold cash, documents and more. The Prie PodWallet will be available later this month for $59.95.

Custom made machined aluminum iPod shuffle case

pic iLounger “Helixipod” has built an outstanding hard shell case for his iPod shuffle. The machined aluminum case does away with the idea of using an end cap and is one of the best iPod protectors we’ve seen come from an individual—and the first third-party hard case for the iPod shuffle. He said it was made on a CNC (Computer Numerical Control) milling machine and allows access to all ports, controls, and LEDs.

“I’ve had my iPod shuffle for a couple weeks now and I’ve been carrying it around with me in my pocket. I love it and use it more than my fourth-generation 40GB. I couldn’t find any shuffle hard cases available yet, but I wanted to protect it so I just made my own,” Helixipod writes in the iLounge forums.

“The front and back half of the case are joined together by 4 very small screws. I have no need to take it out of the case anymore,” he explains. “The headphones come in from the top, USB from the bottom, and there is also a window on the back for the on/off/shuffle slider and battery button. It is lined on the front, back, top, bottom, and sides with black velvet.”

Helixipod said his aluminum case adds 20 grams to the iPod shuffle, bringing the total weight to 42 grams—just under 1.48 ounces. The design does, however, require a female USB cord to charge/sync the device.

Click “Read more” for four large images of the case.

‘Military-like’ protective case for iPods announced

pic The Casemandu is a new $49.95 iPod case that’s waterproof, dust-proof and shock-proof. Made of strong polycarbonate, it features a precision-routed foam insert, and is available in white, black, pink, blue and green for both iPods and iPod minis. The Casemandu will ship on March 1.

“It’s the same foam used by elite military units and NASA to protect the most sensitive equipment in their inventories,” said Ed Loughran, who created the Casemandu with partner Tim Adams. “We looked around for a solution like the Casemandu case and we couldn’t find one, so we invented it,” Loughran said. “It’s the only case on the market that combines all the protection, organization and storage capacity in one nearly indestructible unit.”

Mix: Apple traffic, Duke, Soda can cradle, Comedy Festival

Apple saw a 172 percent increase in traffic to its Web site Sunday thanks to Pepsi’s iTunes commercials that aired during the Super Bowl.

By late March or early April, Duke university will decide whether to continue the iPod pilot program with a new crop of freshmen next year, said Lynne O’Brien, director of the Duke Center for Instructional Technology, which is overseeing the experiment. “It’s going very well,” she said.

John Hartnup has posted a tutorial on how to make an iPod cradle that fits into a car cupholder out of nothing more than two soda cans.

Talking Panda Software has released a program guide to the U.S. Comedy Arts Festival designed specifically for the iPod.

Noreve unveils leather cases for iPod, iPod mini

pic Noreve has announced the availability of three new leather cases for fourth-generation iPods. The company is now shipping a stylish flip-cover case in three versions—one for the 20GB iPod, the 40GB iPod, and iPod mini. The cases all sell for €39.90 and come in white or black leather. They feature access to basic control functions and ports, a snap button closure, and a completely removable belt clip.

“In the small, colorful streets of Saint-Tropez, an innovative leather brand is born. Our mission: to protect your Hi-Tech devices,” notes Noreve. “The unique design and style of the south of France can be appreciated in its entire selection of products.”

Apple’s Steve Jobs talks iPod in interview

In an interview with Fortune, Apple CEO Steve Jobs answers the question of how the iPod has changed Apple. “It feels great,” Jobs says. “We’re having fun. Most of us can’t wait to get to work in the morning. But it’s not like Apple has somehow morphed into a mass-market consumer electronics company. Our DNA hasn’t changed. It’s that mass-market consumer electronics is turning into Apple.”

Jobs also discusses how young people are migrating to iPods and matching portable speakers from larger stereos made by electronics giants.

“You or I move into a new house, and the first thing we do is call the phone company to get our land line turned on. Kids, they just move in with their cell phones. Stereos are the same: Kids aren’t getting stereos; they’re getting speakers for their iPods,” Jobs says. “That’s become the audio market. People are buying iPods and Bose speakers instead of a JVC or Sony stereo system. And those guys have never come to us and said, ‘Could we work with you on the iPod?’ Some companies are prisoners of their point of view.”

Tunewear intros new iPod carrying pouch

pic Tunewear has announced the Prie PodOrganizer, an all-in-one solution for carrying your iPod, cables, headphones, iPod peripherals, and wallet contents such as IDs, credit cards, and coins. The accessory can hold all iPod models, and features a cable winder, an access hole for iPod ports, and a mesh net bag for holding various gear. The case also features six slots for credit cards, space for 30 or more business cards, a pen holder, a belt loop, and two expanding pockets to hold cash, documents and more. The Prie PodOrganizer will be available at the end of this month. Pricing was not announced.

PodBrix iPod-using Lego mini figure debuts

pic PodBrix is a custom designed Lego mini figure inspired by Apple’s silhouette iPod ad campaign. “The ‘1K Brix’ PodBrix Minifig is a limited numbered edition of 300 units. Hand created by artist Tomi, each figure stands just 1.75-inches tall. Included is a minimalist card backdrop for displaying your figure. The reverse of the backdrop displays the limited edition unit number and is signed by Tomi. Keep in mind that each figure is a unique mini work of art. This is not a toy and can certainly be damaged if not handled with care.” The PodBrix is priced at $16.99.

Mix: iPod shuffle RAID, Napster To Go, Pod world, Zombies

One ingenious Mac fan used four iPod shuffles along with a USB 2.0 hub to create a 3.9GB RAID array.

Daring Fireball’s John Gruber has an original take on the Napster To Go subscription service and iTunes Music Store comparison.

Etelka Lehoczky of the Boston Globe has written a two-page article on the word “pod.” The article touches on what it means to consumers, where and when it originated, and more.

David Wellington’s zombie novel “Monster Island” is now available as an ebook for iPod note reading.

Pepsi-iTunes Super Bowl ads rank poorly; Napster bombs

Both of Pepsi’s Super Bowl commercials for this year’s iTunes promotion were ranked poorly by consumers in USA Today’s Ad Meter survey released Monday. The 45-second spot, which features various tunes coming out of Pepsi bottles when the caps are lifted, placed 27th out of the 55 most popular ads with a score of 6.01. Pepsi’s 30-second spot, which features Gwen Stefani and Eve and their hit song “Rich Girl,” ranked 45th with a score of 5.31.

Unfortunately for Napster, its anti-Apple commercial came in dead last of all the Super Bowl commercials in 55th place. The Napster ad, which received a score of 4.37, featured the company’s cat icon at a football game holding up a sign comparing the price of the new Napster To Go service with Apple’s iTunes Music Store.

For a record seventh year in a row, Anheuser-Busch won USA Today’s Ad Meter consumer ranking. This year’s winner featured a skydiver who refuses to jump. An instructor tosses out a six-pack of Bud Light to try and get him to. The guy still doesn’t jump, but the pilot does.

All of this year’s Super Bowl ads can be viewed at iFlim in QuickTime format.

Apple adds 1,000+ Chinese tracks to 15 iTunes stores

“Apple and Universal Music are expanding their range to online music consumers by selling Chinese-language pop music for the first time in North America and Europe,” reports the Financial Times.

“More than 1,000 tracks by top Chinese artists on the books of Universal, the world’s biggest record company, including Jacky Cheung, Kelly Chen, Hacken Lee and Alan Tam, will be available from Apple’s iTunes stores in 15 countries, including the US, UK and Canada.

Universal says it is the first time this range of Chinese music will be legally available online outside its region of origin.”

Second Pepsi-iTunes ad features Gwen Stefani, Eve

The second Pepsi-iTunes commercial—which will air alongside the ad released earlier this week at the Super Bowl on Sunday—has been leaked onto the Web. It features the song “Rich Girl” by Gwen Stefani featuring Eve, who both make a brief appearance at the end of the ad. The track comes from the Gwen Stefani album Love, Angel, Music, Baby. The new commercial can be viewed here. The first Pepsi-iTunes spot, called “Bottle Songs,” can be seen here.

Mix: MP3Tunes.com, iPod scuffle, Made for iPod, giant shuffles

MP3.com founder Michael Robertson will launch a new online music store next week that will offer tracks in unprotected MP3 format. MP3Tunes.com will have no major record labels—only 200,000 licensed from small labels and independent artists.

Nitrozac and Snaggy of Geek Culture poke a little fun at the iPod shuffle shortage in their latest Joy of Tech comic entitled “iPod scuffle.”

Apple’s “Made for iPod” program is “a good way to ensure good quality products,” according to 39 percent of Macworld UK readers who took part in an online survey. Nearl 25 percent are less optimistic, suggesting that it is “a way to control the iPod industry.”

Gizmodo points to a handful of strange scenes with life-size iPod shuffles hanging out in a home. “I don’t know what prompted these photoshops of a giant iPod shuffle in everyday situations, but they aren’t half bad, and just surreal enough to be pleasant.”

PodBuddy announces clips for iPod shuffle

pic PodBuddy, a divison of DVForge, today announced The Clips, a new mounting accessory set for Apple’s iPod shuffle. The set includes a belt clip, a gripper clip, and a push pin clip which snap securely onto the USB plug end of the shuffle. All three clips are made of durable white ABS plastic, stainless steel and galvanized steel to match the appearance of the iPod shuffle. The Clips will start shipping next month for $19.99 (all three clips are packaged together).

iPod case made from space parachute available

pic Everquest Design has announced the release of a new iPod case made out of a unique material. The International Space Station Soyuz TMA-3 Series iPod case is built with a piece of space shuttle landing parachute. The $25 case features a black Cordura nylon exterior, soft black cotton-nylon lining, Velcro top closure, and attaches to any shoulder strap or belt.

“It’s all about having a cool and unique bag with a story—a ‘piece of adventure’ made with famous materials,” the company said. “All our products are made with high quality material and are authenticated with a certificate from actual participants in the ‘adventure’ (Russian cosmonaut, Mt Everest sherpa, etc.).”

iPod shuffle Dock arrives, photos inside

pic iLounge has confirmed that Apple’s iPod shuffle Dock is now available in very limited quantities in select Apple retail stores across the U.S. According to Apple, the iPod shuffle Dock serves as “an elegant and convenient home base for syncing and charging” the low-cost music player. It’s also a much-needed accessory for those without an accessible USB port (see iLounge’s report on issues encountered by eMac and iMac G3 users). Click on Read More for our exclusive photos.

Alongside the iPod shuffle at Macworld Expo last month, Apple introduced several optional accessories, including the Dock, an armband, a sport case, a USB power adapter, and a 12-hour battery pack that holds two AAA batteries. At the time, Apple said they would be available “over the next few weeks” for $29 each.

The online Apple Store is currently quoting that all of the accessories will ship in 5-7 weeks - except for the USB power adapter, which is available immediately via the online store.

Scosche announces Bluetooth interface for iPod

Scosche Industries, a leader in mobile electronics aftermarket accessories, announced today that it is developing a Bluetooth interface for iPods. Unlike other wired adaptors, this interface will connect directly to the headphone connector of the iPod and will transmit to a Bluetooth receiver connected to the aux input of a head unit. The company said the new product is designed for third and fourth generation iPods and iPod minis, and will work with both OEM and aftermarket head units. The Bluetooth interface will be available in “spring/summer of this year” at specialty retailers. Pricing was not announced.

Mix: iPod stereoscope, shuffle stickers, Caesars, Frisk mints

One clever person has built a modern day stereoscope with two iPod photos, an antique stereoscope, and a digital camera.

A Japanese website is offering several decorative templates that can be printed out on labels to stick on an iPod shuffle. The site also appears to let you upload your own designs.

Apple-X has posted an interview with the songwriter and guitarist for the Caesars, the band behind the tune on Apple’s iPod shuffle TV ad.

An iPod shuffle owner in Japan has created a case for the tiny Apple music player out of a Frisk-brand mints package.

Axxess offers iPod auto adapters for VW, GM

Axxess has introduced two direct-connect iPod auto adapters that allow playback over either a GM or Volkswagen OEM radio. The adaptors enable the factory head units to control iPod functions, including next/previous track, playlist selection, shuffle modes, and more. Radios with text capability will display the playlist and track number, artist, track name and album name. The adapters work with all VW stereos (with a round scan button) from 1998 forward, and all GM Class 2 vehicles with changer ports. The products are priced at $189.99 each and will be available at Axxess retailers in late February.

Axxess said that iPod adapters for Ford and Chrysler vehicles are scheduled for introduction by late March, with those for Honda, Nissan and Toyota scheduled for release throughout the spring.

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