Repair service dubs Apple most reliable, Lenovo takes second

In a recent satisfaction survey, Apple scored highly in the reliability, tech support, and repair categories. That was an opinion survey, though, and not necessarily a scientific measure. As a more quantitative measure of manufacturer reliability, a third-party repair company called RESCUECOM has released its yearly Computer Reliability Report, which also puts Apple in the top spot for reliability. HangZhou Night Net

The survey methodology calculates a reliability index for each manufacturer, which is based on the percentage of calls for each manufacturer's products made to RESCUECOM and then compared to the average Q2 market share for that manufacturer. Apple finished first with a score of 357, meaning that the percentage of repair calls was only about one-third of the estimated market share percentage of 5 percent. Lenovo dropped down to second place—its score was over 100 points lower than that of Apple.

Although this looks like a mark in the 'win' category for Apple, I'm not sure a report from a third-party repair service is the best indicator of reliability. My biggest issue with this report is the fact that calls to RESCUECOM may not be indicative of overall reliability—I would imagine that if anyone has an issue with a new or warrantied computer, that person would call AppleCare or the other manufacturer first, leaving RESCUECOM out of the picture. Even if something isn't under warranty, knowledgeable friends or local computer stores might get tapped for the repairs.

So, yes, the survey results could mean Apple has great overall reliability. But then again, the report only tells us about repair calls made to RESCUECOM, which could be a fairly small subset of the overall reliability picture. I think the numbers are still good for Apple, but we'd advise you to take the results with a few grains of salt.

Apple quietly disposes of Classic in Leopard

If, like me, you came to the Mac in the past five years or so, you may not be aware of the fact that “Mac OS” wasn’t always followed by the letter “X”—sorry, the number ten. But the Mac did have a long and illustrious life before it gained its current UNIX underpinnings. Part of this legacy has lived on—on PowerPC Macs, at least—in the Classic environment. HangZhou Night Net

Classic is to Mac OS 9 what Parallels is to Windows in Coherence mode: it runs a separate operating system in the background and makes the applications that run under that OS (Mac OS 9.2 in the case of Classic) seem just like native applications. As I said, I never used a pre-OS X Mac, so I never had any legacy applications that require Classic. However, a year ago, I went on a browser downloading spree and tried to find the oldest possible browsers that still worked. It was kind of fun to see Netscape 3.0 start and immediately crash and burn because of the multitude of Javascript errors on the netscape.com homepage.

Classic has never been available on Intel Macs, but as of Leopard, PowerPC Macs will also have to do without Classic, according to this Apple support page, which I’ll quote for you in its entirety:

Classic applications do not work on Intel processor-based Macs or with Mac OS X 10.5.

Upgrade your Mac OS 9 applications to Mac OS X versions. Check with an application’s manufacturer for more information.

So, if you have a PowerPC Mac that still has some Classic applications on it and you intend to go out and get the new cat tomorrow, I suggest that tonight, you pour a tall glass of your beverage of choice. Then, sit down in front of your Mac, and start those trusty Mac OS 9 applications up one more time, and remember the good times. After that, start your overnight full backup and turn in early, because Leopard will be your middle-aged PowerPC Mac’s last chance to be a youthful kitten again: few people expect the next Mac OS X after 10.5 to run on the PowerPC.

Judge: Educational privacy law not sufficient to block RIAA’s subpoenas

In August, we reported on a University of Tennessee student targeted by the RIAA for file-sharing who had attempted to quash a subpoena by arguing that the Federal Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) prevented the release of his name, addresses, and phone numbers. The identity of Doe 28 in Virgin v. Does 1-33 will soon be known to the RIAA, as a judge denied the student's motion to quash the subpoena. HangZhou Night Net

Doe 28 had argued that the RIAA's request was "unreasonable on its face" and that it should be denied because he had also not waived his right to privacy under FERPA. The privacy law bars the release of educational records without the consent of the students or parents, but "directory information," such as the student's name, address, phone number, and e-mail address can be released without permission.

Most of the information sought by the RIAA "falls within the category of Directory Information under FERPA, which according to the university’s policy, does not require defendant's consent to provide to a third party," wrote Magistrate Judge H. Bruce Guyton in his opinion.

Judge Guyton also ruled that the school must provide the RIAA with Doe 28's MAC address, which, as the Jammie Thomas trial demonstrated, will be used by the RIAA to tie specific computers to file-sharing activity. A computer's MAC address doesn't qualify as an "educational record" under FERPA, according to the judge, and is therefore not protected.

Since the RIAA began ratcheting up its battle against on-campus file sharing last spring, the industry has filed hundreds of lawsuits against college students, all via the John Doe route. In contrast to the thousands of other P2P lawsuits, the RIAA has run into some roadblocks in its attempts to finger college students for copyright infringement. Some judges have blocked the RIAA's ex parte discovery, with one ruling that the 1984 law cited by the RIAA as the authority for its ex parte subpoenas didn't give the record labels that authority after all.

Still, it's going to be difficult for college Does to hide behind FERPA. As Judge Guyton pointed out, the info sought by the RIAA is not protected by the law, so it's likely that other motions to quash based on FERPA will also fail.

Motorstorm upgrade adds rumble support

Motorstorm is still cranking along as one of the PlayStation 3's better racing games, and a new update available today in Europe will make things even better by adding rumble support. Of course, we still have to wait until next year to actually get our DualShock 3s, but with the Ratchet and Clank Future disc including the PS3 1.94 firmware update that adds rumble support, I wouldn't be surprised if we saw a healthy market for import controllers. HangZhou Night Net

What else does the Motorstorm update add?

Added vibration support for DUALSHOCK 3 controller with adjustable sensitivity settings.Grid order has been randomised for first race in any online lobby.Finishing positions in your last race now determine your starting grid position in the next race within the same online lobby.On-screen indicator has been added to show whether voice comms are issuing from TV or headset – As before, please press and hold L1 (R1 if using control scheme 'B') to toggle headset output through TV or Headset.Sensitivity Settings for SIXAXIS™ Motion Sensor control have been added.'Gloating Index' has been added to the Stats card – The Gloating index gives guidance as to a racer's online prowess. It takes into account the number of people you’ve beaten in each race and the number of people that have beaten you. Use the gloating index to spot the players to beat in each race! Try and rank your Gloating Index up to the perfect '10'!Several causes for an occasional snagging issue which would destroy vehicles on suspension impact have been addressed.Further fixes to prevent the occasional statistics reset issue have been applied.Fixed an occasional issue with inaccuracies in Eliminator finishing results.Fixed an issue where winners leaving Eliminator before race completed could cause issues for other players in lobby.

Quite an extensive update, and I'm glad to see the game continue to have strong support. With games getting updated with rumble support, and new games being released that already include rumble, the wait for the DualShock 3 just got a little longer.

I'm not seeing the update yet in America, but I'm hoping we get it very soon.

Half of all Americans support government regulation of Internet video

24 percent of Americans say that the Internet can function, for a short time, as a replacement for a significant other. 20 percent are open to "chipping" their own children in order to track their location. 11 percent would be willing to surgically implant a device inside their brains that would allow direct mental access to the Internet. Does that make us, collectively, a crazy-ass country? Or does it say something profound about the current state of polling? HangZhou Night Net

The results come from a new poll on Internet attitudes done by 463 Communications and Zogby International, whichalso revealed that young people of both genders find Scarlett Johansson sexier than an iPhone. (This is, in fact, the correct answer.)

The poll did reveal a more interesting result as well, namely that three-quarters of those over 70 support government regulation or a rating system for online video. That number decreases sharply as the age range decreases, but more than half of all Americans thought that the government should be involved in at least some form of Internet video monitoring.

This is the sort of finding thatfeels like a stake through the heart to libertarians. Writing at the Tech Liberation Front, Adam Thierer of the Progress & Freedom Foundation argued that policymakers will eventually jump on the lightly regulated Internet and start gorging their regulatory appetites, saying to themselves, "We must grow regulation! We must expand the tentacles of the regulatory state to include all those new technologies of freedom! We cannot let people think and act for themselves!"

In case it wasn't clear from the quote, Thierer considers this a Bad Thing.

Certainly, there's reason to think that such a scenario will eventually play out in Washington. The FCC is currently trying to decide if it can come up with a working definition for violent content in order to regulate it on both broadcast TV and even cable. Sexual content and language are already regulated by the agency, and as the Internet becomes an increasingly-capable substitute for (or complement to) television, calls for ratings and regulation will no doubt arise.

Such calls have been resisted successfully by videogame makers, who have used a voluntary rating system to head off increased government controls. But Internet video is already coming under attack around the world, and it does raise some provocative questions for society. Should user-generated content sites, for instance, block the viewing of clips of vandalism or violence? UK school officials are already trying to address the issue after vandals began posting their work on YouTube.

And then there are privacy concerns. Few broadcast networks (at least in the US) would show video of a couple cavorting in the ocean, buta clip of a Brazilian model having sex on the beach with her boyfriend was widely available through YouTube. The case even prompted a Brazilian ban on the site for some time.

How these issues will play out in the US is anyone's guess, but at some point, talk of regulation and ratings will probably enter the picture. When that happens, it appears that a sizable number of Americans will support it.