Welcome to the new iLounge. Even though we’re still tweaking the many pages of the site, the first stage of our long-awaited redesign is finally live and ready for you to kick the tires. Our aim with the new look is to streamline every aspect of the site, making it faster and easier for you to find and read the content you want. Be sure to email us what you think of the sparkly fresh site, and inform us of any major issues caused by the redesign. If you’d rather not send an email, you can comment on this news story and we’ll be sure to read everything you say.
Also, keep in mind that this is only the first phase of the redesign — more sections will be getting a makeover in the coming weeks. You can look forward to the revamped iLounge forums, tips & tricks, gear guide, and hacks & mods sections. In addition, we’ll soon be launching the new myPod online helper, which will offer one-click access to the information and accessories that are related to your specific iPod model.
iLounge today announced a new 2005 Buyers’ Guide (Spring/Summer) contest just for those of you with blogs. The contest is simple. We’ll publicize and award prizes to three blogs that spread the word about the new Buyers’ Guide.
Our grand prize winner will be picked on straight numbers: the blog with the most referrals to our Buyers’ Guide 2005 page will win a pair of Shure E5c Earphones (valued at $500). We will also select two second place winners randomly from the pool of all blogs with 25 or more unique referrals, so virtually anyone has a chance to win. Each of these second place winners will get one set of Etymotic 6i Isolator Earphones (valued at $149). All of these prizes were donated by EarphoneSolutions.com. All you need to do is insert one of the contest badges onto your blog’s page - with the code that lets us properly count your referrals.
Jeremy Horwitz, iLounge’s Editor-in-Chief, will be on tonight’s Your Mac Life radio show. He’ll be discussing the latest iPod accessories and what the future holds for the iPod. The broadcast will begin at 8:30 p.m. ET, 5:30 p.m. PT. An audio feed is available here, with a video feed for QuickTime 6 here. Host Shawn King will also be giving away an iPod shuffle to one lucky student listener tonight.
The Iconfactory has announced the release of “iPod, Therefore I Am”—a new collection of freeware icons from Dave Brasgalla. The set of 8 icons will “let you give your iPod the icon it deserves in popular ‘World of Aqua’ style, and it won’t even cost you .99 cents!” The collection includes the 4G iPod, the special edition U2 iPod, the “more vibrant” colored iPod minis, the iPod shuffle, and the iPod photo. The new set is available for Mac, Windows or as a Pixadex iContainer.
The British Phonographic Industry (BPI) said Friday that it has successfully obtained compensation from UK residents who illegally distributed music via peer-to-peer networks. The average settlement was more than £2,000. The 23 illegal filesharers (named on the BPI site) that have settled range in age from 22 to 58 and include people from every walk of life—from a student to the director of an IT company to a local councilor. The number of files they were distributing over the internet ranged from hundreds to many thousands. The BPI said it will soon bring 31 new cases against UK filesharers.
Raven Solutions today announced the release of “Beyond The Music: Doing More With Your Apple iPod,” a 67-page eBook with tips and information on how to use an iPod for more than just listening to music. “Talking to iPod owners, it was apparent that they were not aware of how versatile the iPod really is”, said author Steve Sande. “An iPod can be used as a personal digital assistant, a portable hard disk drive, a news reader, an email inbox and more.” The ebook is published in Adobe Reader and eReader formats, and sells for $5.
Peachpit Press has announced the release of “The iPod Book: Doing Cool Stuff with the iPod and the iTunes Music Store” by best-selling author Scott Kelby. “You’ll learn how to do only the most important, most requested, and just plain cool things you’re going to want to do with your iPod so you can start having fun with it today,” Peachpit says. “Each page covers just one topic, complete with full color photos making it easy to find just what you’re looking for fast. Plus, it shows you how to get the most from the iTunes Music Store, how to integrate your iPod into your car, which iPod accessories are hot, and there’s even entire chapters on using Apple iPod photo and the new iPod shuffle.”
Following the similar PodBrix Lego mini figure, an unnamed artist has announced the release of PodFas, limited edition custom designed Stikfas action figures inspired by Apple’s silhouette iPod ad campaign. “Podfas are a limited edition of 250 unique handcrafted figures, fully poseable and standing approximately 3-inches tall. Each Podfa comes with 4 coloured display backgrounds and a certificate of authenticity signed and numbered by the artist.” The PodFas are available exclusively from the PodFas website for $20.
TRUSTe, a nonprofit organization dedicated to internet privacy, has ended its relationship with the company operating FreeiPods.com and other websites due to violations of privacy promises to consumers.
“TRUSTe said Gratis Internet of Washington could no longer display the industry’s broadly recognized seal intended to assure consumers that a website complies with privacy-protection guidelines on any of its internet properties,” reports the Associated Press. “It was the first such revocation in at least two years under the industry’s own regulatory program… TRUSTe said Gratis violated promises involving the protection of children’s information and changed how it managed the private information of its customers without adequately notifying them.”
Consumers should be wary of spammers using the iPod brand name, according to Clearswift’s Spam Index, an in-depth industry analysis of unsolicited e-mails. Clearswift said that e-mails purporting to sell the popular digital audio player made an “unprecedented debut” during December.
“Spammers have been keen to get in on the action with one of the most sought-after Christmas gifts,” Clearswift said. “News of stock running out in December coincided with the flood of e-mails claiming to sell limited edition or heavily discounted iPods. Some e-mails even offer them for free in suspicious-looking competitions.”
Apple’s new low-cost products that were introduced earlier this month are expected to be used heavily in forthcoming spam campaigns. “With the Mac mini and iPod shuffle having launched this month, e-mail users should prepare themselves for an onslaught of lifestyle junk mail, spearheaded by an influx of Mac-inspired spam,” the company said.
Rip2Pod is the latest company to offer a CD-loading service for iPods. “We are located in New York City in the West Village and are dedicated to making your lives easier. For just $1 a CD, weeks and months of frustration will be avoided. We provide ripping services for any entity that legally owns their own music media such as DJs, art galleries, restaurants, or individuals. We have pick-up and delivery service available to all residents of the New York City metropolitan area. We offer a wide range of encoding formats and bitrates. All files are tagged with Song Title, Artist, Album, Genre, and Album Artwork. Multiple options exist for transferring the files back to you including DVD’s, ‘Plug and Play’ external drives, or simply your iPod.”
The head of Sony’s video game unit said this week that his company missed out on potential sales from its line of digital audio players because it was overly protective of Sony’s music content. “Ken Kutaragi, president of Sony Computer Entertainment, said he and other Sony employees have been frustrated for years with management’s reluctance to introduce products like Apple’s iPod, mainly because the Tokyo company had music and movie units that were worried about content rights. Now, Sony’s divisions are finally beginning to work together and share a common agenda, Kutaragi said at the Foreign Correspondents Club in Tokyo.”
Creative Technology today reported that it sold two million digital music players in its second quarter of fiscal year 2005, ended December 31, 2004. The company said sales were up 50 percent to $375.1 million, and that it has sold over five million players to date. In comparison, Apple sold over 4.5 million iPods during the same holiday quarter, and has sold more than 10 million to date.
Following recent criticism of Apple’s iPod shuffle, Creative CEO Sim Wong Hoo said in a financial statement that his company will benefit from the new low-cost Apple player. “I believe we are extremely well positioned against the flash products and pricing that were recently announced by Apple, as we have superior features and broad product lines that span the entire category,” Wong Hoo said. “I also believe that Apple’s entry into the flash market will create more awareness in the flash market segment, and we are well positioned to become a big beneficiary of this expanding market.”
From all of us at iLounge to all of our wonderful readers, Happy New Year!
We could hardly have asked for a better year than 2004. iLounge has been blessed with the world’s greatest readership, plenty of exciting news, and all signs pointing towards a bigger, better and brighter 2005. Our forums continue to grow dramatically, our behind-the-scenes Backstage page has gone from pipe dream to reality, we launched the free Buyers’ Guide, and we’ve expanded to offer an audio-format Podcast of key iLounge content. Two big contests (Etymotic giveaway, Klipsch giveaway) are ending tonight. Much, much more is planned for next year.
We hope that this year has brought you as much fun, happiness, and relaxation as you have hoped for, and that 2005 will offer you at least as much of the same! Please use this comments thread to discuss your New Years’ resolutions, and your hopes for iLounge in the year to come.
Best wishes from Dennis, Jeremy, Larry, and the rest of Team iLounge!
To celebrate this holiday season we created a special holiday desktop/wallpaper for your enjoyment. Thanks for making iLounge your Internet destination and have a safe and happy holidays!
“iPod & iTunes Garage” is a new book by Kirk McElhearn thats aims to show users how to get the most out of the device and software. The $24.99 book “shows both Mac and Windows users the tips and tricks to transform their iPods into the most useful electronic device they own. And he demonstrates how to manipulate the iTunes digital music management program to make it the most entertaining piece of software in existence. The book covers the best features of iTunes and the iPod, including the new 4G model and the iPod mini.”
Peachpit Press has announced the release of “The iPod Playlist Book.” The $14.99 book offers playlists for “nearly every mood and occasion,” according to the publisher. “Many consumers find it overwhelming having to sort through a massive collection of music to find the right tunes to make a perfect playlist. The iPod Playlist Book makes it simple by featuring more than 150 playlists organized by genre (punk, blues, roots, and more) and activity (road trips, cocktail parties, weddings, luaus, etc.). Each page includes a playlist and interesting tidbits about that list. Some examples of playlists include: Road Trippin’, Not Your Typical Wedding Songs, Cryin’ in Your Beer: Songs for Soaking in Cheap Suds and Salty Tears, The Building Blocks of Punk.”
Metro FreeFi has added several new U.S. locations to wiPod, its iPod-based field guide to free wi-fi locations. You can also now choose which specific areas to add to your iPod. “Now when you are on the road you can look up a free hotspot quickly and easily right from your iPod. No, the iPod isn’t wi-fi enabled (yet). wiPod uses the Notes functionality of the iPod OS to store the database in an easy to use format… From Miami to Seattle, and Los Angeles to New York, Metro FreeFi is making sure you never have to pay for wi-fi ever again.”
Perhaps not surprisingly, iLounge’s servers have been slammed by readers during the holidays, and we’re working behind the scenes to keep things running smoothly. Even if the servers are slow, don’t forget: you can still download the free iLounge Buyers’ Guide 2004 to read offline, including our reviews of all the best iPod accessories and new iPod hardware!
The iPod eBook Creator is a Web-based tool to convert books (or any text) to the iPod Notes format that you can add to your iPod for reading on the go.“This utility/PHP script loads large text file and splits it into notes for use on iPod. It is easy to read your book in plain text format on your iPod via Notes functionality. All notes will be automatically linked, so you can move from one to another with absolute ease. It’s as simple as turning pages of the book.”