Gulp! I Shop at Barnes & Noble and Eat at Boston Market

By  |  Wednesday, August 6, 2008 at 9:24 am

Here’s an insight: It’s never a great feeling to wake up to the possibility that an Estonian is running around with a homemade ATM card for your bank account. This and other news after the jump.

To Catch an Identity Thief
A Federal Jury has indicted 11 citizens of the U.S. and other countries in the largest identity theft case to date, charging them with hacking into major retailers and swiping 40 million credit card and ATM card numbers. Major retailers are involved, including Barnes and Noble, Boston Market, Sports Authority, Forever 21, and TJ Maxx, the chain whose identity leak made headlines last year. The thieves reportedly made blank ATM cards that let them withdraw cash from their victims’ accounts. Nobody knows how much they made off with, but I’m going to go double-check my bank statements right now…
Read more at: New York Times, ZDNET

Incredibly Pricey Macs?
Over at eWeek’s Apple Watch, Joe Wilcox has an interesting post analyizing recent sales data for Windows PCs and Macs that shows the average Apple computer selling for more than twice the price of the average Windows box. Joe points out that even at that higher cost, Macs tend to skimp on CPU clockspeed and RAM, and says it can’t last: Apple will have to slash prices and/or beef up configurations. Sounds good to me, but the fact that Apple’s market share is booming anyhow strikes me as a telling point: Speeds and feeds are only one factor in the experience a computer provides, and not the most important one. Mac buyers would seem to understand that.
Read more at: Apple Watch

Digital Music: Amazon Rising?
Speaking of Apple and market share, NPD, the same company whose PC study prompted the Apple Watch item above, also released a report that shows Apple’s iTunes Music Store continuing to be the #1 music merchant in America. No shock there. But for me, the most striking factoid in the study is that Amazon worked its way up from the fifth slot for fourth place on the strength of its MP3 Store. Amazon’s offering has none of the mind share of Apple’s iTunes, but its selection isn’t bad, the prices usually undercut Mr. Jobs, and everything’s in blessedly DRM-free MP3 format. No, it’s not elegant, but it’s not bad–think of it as the Tower Records of the digital age.
Read more at: All Things D, BusinessWeek

The Slow Death of AOL
Time Warner has confirmed that it’s divvying up AOL into a media group and an Internet access group. For consumers, the move has no immediate impact–but it’s inescapable that it could presage the sale of part or all of the once-mighty online service. Scuttlebutt has it that EarthLink might want to pick up AOL’s dwindling, dial-up-focused access group. I’ve got mixed feelings about that: EarthLink’s a scrappy company and I’d rather see it have a booming broadband business. But given that it’s apparently impossible to be a thriving medium-sized broadband provider, it probably makes sense for EarthLink to try to be the biggest and best dial-up company in America, until dial-up goes away altogether.
Read more at: CNET, Search Engine Watch

Google’s Cool New Music Search Has One Catch
I really like the idea of Google’s new MP3 Search feature, which lets you scour the Web for songs in MP3 format, and then download them legally, thanks to a deal that Google struck with a music licensing fee. I’d probably be using it now, if it weren’t for the fact that it’s only available in China. (Just for kicks, I tried going to and got a message which I assume is “Get the heck out of here” in Mandarin.) Google says the new engine is an experiment; presumably it’s launching in China because Baidu, Google’s biggest competitor there, does very well with its not-so-legal music search. I’d love to think that Google is contemplating rolling out something similar stateside, though.
Read more at: PC World, Music 2.0
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