Four generations of iPod nanos compared

(February 16, 2009)

Over the last few years, I bought one specimen of all four generations of Apple’s iPod nano media player, mainly to make rePear compatible with each new model. (In fact, rePear’s main development target are iPod nanos.) Here are my thoughts about the benefits and drawbacks of each generation.
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Back again

(December 22, 2008)

I want to apologize for the lack of posts here. I know that many people want to know the outcome of the Apple thing and the status of the two jeopardized programs. So, to finally break the much too long period of silence, here’s the current status of the projects:

The presentation program is online again under its new name Impressive: Currently, there’s only a rebranded 0.10.2 version, but I hope to move forward with a new version in the first quarter of 2009.

The iPod management tool has been renamed to rePear: Along with the rename, the brand-new and much improved version 0.4 has been released.

I find it unfortunate and unnecessary that the issue needed to be settled involving layers and lots of money. It would have been easier for both sides (and certainly more civilized) to simply write an e-mail to state the problem. I am willing to co-operate. You can still call your lawyers if I don’t comply, but I don’t see any reason why there should be money involved from the start.

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What’s the deal with all the »censored« words?

(June 23, 2008)

The short answer: Because Apple didn’t like the names of some of my programs.

The long answer

A few years ago, a fellow student and I had a great idea for a nice, effect-rich presentation program. We combined my own nickname and the name of a another popular presentation program to form the name of that program. The program itself did very well and became quite popular. That was possibly enough for Apple, the company who produces the presentation program whose name we took as a baseline, so they decided to send me a cease and desist letter. The result of this is that the program has to be renamed.

In the meantime, I also started another project: I bought an Apple iPod nano music player and since I’m not satisfied with iTunes, I wrote a program that made it possible to use that nice MP3 player without that not-so-nice-software. I gave it a name that was derived from a normal english word, except that there was one upper-case letter where a lower-case letter should have been. That might have been too much for Apple’s legal department, though, because they threatened to sue me because of this, too. That’s why this program also needs to be renamed.

In late 2008, the programs have been renamed to Impressive and rePear.

Cease, desist … and, of course, pay!

(June 22, 2008)

It could have been a nice evening today, but to my great surprise, I found a not-so-nice e-mail in my Inbox – and at the same time, my parents found the same thing as snail mail in their mailbox at home.

To cut a long story short: Apple Inc. sent me (via a German lawyer) a »cease and desist« letter. They believe that the names CENSORED and CENSORED-s (sic!) violate their trademarks »Keynote« and »iTunes«.
Frankly, I do have a little bit of understanding in the first case. In fact, I saw it coming. I couldn’t expect that the uppercase letter »J« I put in the middle of the name, radically changing both the look and the pronounciation, was enough to stop Apple from sueing me, or could I?
The other case is a little bit more awkward because there simply is no such thing as CENSORED-s. I have written a program with a name that looks like the one they’re accusing me to use, but there is no ‘s’ at the end of the name! In the first two pages of the lengthy mail the lawyers sent me, they even did spell it correctly. But then, in all places that really matter, like the cease and desist form itself (»Unterlassungserklärung«) and the explanation why they think I’m violating their trademark, they constantly write the name with the additional ‘s’. So, in fact, even if I would sign that letter, I would commit myself not to use a product name I never used! (That flaw aside, I also don’t think that there’s a sufficient amount of similarity between »iTunes« and CENSORED.)

To make things worse, they chose an insane amount in controversy (»Gegenstandswert«) of 50,000 € each in both cases. That seems to be quite a lot, considering that both programs in questions are FOSS, meaning that I did neither pay nor earn anything for making them. Out of these 100,000 € in total, they compute a fee (»Geschäftsgebühr«) of nearly 1,800 € I’d have to pay if I sign the form.
Also, they set up a ridiculously short time frame to sign it: If I don’t send it back and pay the fee until 2008-06-26 (this Thursday), they’ll likely be sueing me. Mind you, I got the letter this evening (2008-06-22), because they sent it late Friday (2008-06-20, the e-mail is dated 16:09) and I was neither at home nor did I have internet access this weekend. That’s 6 days of time, but since it’s around a weekend, it’s effectively only 3.

The great question is now, what could I do? I can’t just sign the letter and pay the bill, because it’s factually wrong. On the other hand, if I take myself a lawyer, it might be too late to change anything in the matter and would maybe double the fee (assuming that my own lawyer would also use the ridiculous 100,000 € value as a baseline for his/her payment). Seems as if I’m screwed either way.

The only thing that’s clear is that both my presentation program and one of my iPod tools will be renamed soon. If you have a nice new non-Appleish name for these projects, please let me know :)
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Quo vadis, Apple?

(September 15, 2007)

Once upon a time, there was a magnificent computer hardware and software company that revolutionized the computing world two times in a row. That was 1977 and 1984. This manufacturer continued to improve on its once-revolutionary products, but faced some problems in the mid-90s. However, at the beginning of the new millennium, it was back with full force and started a revolution once again, this time in a niche of the consumer electronics market. This turned out so well that the company lately even dropped the term “computer” from its name – which is quite ironic, because the quality, usability and innovativity of all the products dropped significantly since then, only the computer hardware is still on par with the competition.
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