Apple Music Service?

Rumours have been swirling for weeks, and next Monday, some of them will become reality. It’s almost a certainty that Apple will be launching some sort of online music service, probably closely linked with its iTunes software (or the bundled MusicMatch that comes with Windows versions of the iPod). My guess (and it’s an informed one) is that Apple will use the AAC format that has been included in Quicktime since last year. AAC is a new compression format that squeezes files smaller than MP3, but will allow some form of digital rights management. The files will still likely be convertible to MP3, allowing Apple to save face with the file-swapping masses, while satisfying the music industry’s need to get paid. As for prices, who knows? But in my opinion, even $1 per track might be a hard sell.

Employment Insurance for Windows

Government services are usually designed to be accessible to everyone. The blind, the deaf, and the lame can all apply for employment insurance benefits in their own government-assisted way. But not Macintosh users. Here’s the message that greeted me when I tried to apply for my benefits online:

Q: Why is the EI on-line application not compatible with Macintosh computers at the present time?

A: Knowing that the vast majority of the Canadian public access the Internet using PC (not Macintosh) computers, our priority is to deliver our on-line services on the platform of choice for the majority of Canadians. In the shortest amount of time while being cost effective, the current EI on-line application was developed to support Windows-based versions of Internet Explorer. The versions of Internet Explorer and Netscape that run on Macintosh computers are quite different from those supported on a Windows platform and therefore process JavaScript and XML differently.

Does this strike anyone else as just plain wrong? I’d love to send them a nasty email…

The funny part is that in Canada all services have to be provided in French as well as English. English is obviously the “platform of choice” for most Canadians but that doesn’t mean that they don’t support the minority, even when it means absolutely indecipherable URLs that include BOTH the English and the French acronyms for government departments.

Voice Box

Voice Box is a cool program for Mac OS X that will read text out loud in a variety of voices. The neat thing is that in the new version (1.3), you can have it read RSS feeds. It can also save the results to a sound file that can be transferred to your iPod. A great way to catch up on your favourite weblogs and news sites on your way to work.

Apple Pros

Here‘s a section of Apple’s website that I’ve never seen before. I’m not even sure how you’re expected to find it from the main page. It’s directed at Apple’s pro customers, working in film, photography, music, and science.