I bought an iPod touch in November, and figured I’d leave the system software alone for a while — that is, not using third-party software that unlocks the capabilities of a machine that is, in fact, a small personal computer in its inherent power. Apple’s fall announcement that it would be more open with third-party developers was one reason I held off on hacking the device.

Apple’s view is that while customers own the hardware, any upgrading to the software, including third-party applications, will be at Apple’s discretion. Now we’re seeing the result of this philosophy: a $20 cost to get software that ships with all new models and is given to owners of the IPhone.

This is a flat-out ripoff. And it’s leading me to do what I really don’t want to do — find the appropriate hacks that will let me use the iPod the way I want, not solely the way Apple decides.

I didn’t imagine it was possible, but Apple’s arrogance is growing.

Techdirt: AT&T Does Nothing, Convinces Reporter It Has Now ‘Opened’ Its Network. Basically, absolutely nothing happened here except that AT&T’s marketing crew declared that AT&T’s network is now open, and convinced USA Today to report it as if it were a big deal. If there was any change at all within AT&T, it’s that retail store employees are now supposed to admit that you can use other devices on the network, rather than pretending you can’t. Not quite as exciting as “flinging the network open,” though.

True, the technology change here is precisely zero — it was always possible to use any GSM phone on their network. But the fact that AT&T felt a marketing advantage to proclaiming itself “open” is still a bit noteworthy.

Now, we’re still talking about a terrible company in many ways. Still, let’s be glad for this tiny improvement.

AP: Five-Year Mortgage Rate Freeze Looms. Congressional aides say the Bush administration has hammered out an agreement with industry to freeze interest rates for certain subprime mortgages for five years in an effort to combat a soaring tide of foreclosures.

This sounds like the most dangerous bit of fiscal sleight of hand in years — putting off the actual problem and utterly rewarding the people who were the most reckless in the mortgage bubble.

Americans who didn’t join the sleaze will pay those who did. It’s reprehensible, and it’s going to put this nation further into the national bankruptcy that already exists for all practical purposes.

Meanwhile, the local paper endorses this idiocy — and more. Sheesh…

I’m looking for safer places to put my money at this point than my own country. We’ve lost all common sense here.

Amazingly, Apple has downgraded one it the key applications in its new operating system, OS X 10.5 “Leopard” — it removed the “information drawer” feature in its iCal calendar software, and it now requires multiple mouse clicks to create new events.

Beyond stupid, this is arrogant. There is absolutely no good reason to remove useful features from software.

Meanwhile, I’m not the only customer who’s annoyed by the company’s casual decision to make life harder for users. In the Apple support forums, for example is this dicussion: “Want my iCal info drawer back!! …

And this thread starts with a post I’ll quote in full, because it sums up the problem:

Is it just me…but why does it seem like iCal is way harder to use in Leopard?!?!?! Just look at the number of steps/clicks it takes just to enter an entry.

In month view, you double click on the day, but you can only enter in a title. you have to double click on the new event before you can enter in any details or even a time. And the box that pop-up is a tiny little box. In the old version of ical you could enter in everything in the right hand panel right away.

Then there is viewing events you have to double the event to get a little pop-up in order to see the details of the event. All you had to do before was click on an event and it would display in the side panel. Much much easier and less work.

Does the new ical bother anyone else? or is it just me? it just seems like they rushed it. there’s lots of other little annoyances and inconsistencies in it too.

Amen.

This report says “iPod touch software 1.1.2 adds calendar functions“:

Arriving alongside iPhone software version 1.1.2 on Thursday evening was iPod touch software version 1.1.2, which adds new calendar functionality to the touch-screen media players. Thus far, one of the only visible features delivered by the update appears to be the ability to add and edit calendar events through the Touch’s calendar application. Although these capabilities had long been available to iPhone users, Apple omitted them from the initial version of the Touch software presumably to help differentiate the player from the iPhone.

It still needs more capabilities, but this is a big improvement.

Lifehacker: Build a Hackintosh Mac for Under $800. (Y)ou can build your own “Hackintosh”—a PC that runs a patched version of OS X Leopard. What?!, you say. Apple’s move to Intel processors in 2006 meant that running OS X on non-Apple hardware is possible, and a community hacking project called OSx86 launched with that goal in mind. Since then, OSx86 has covered major ground, making it possible for civilians—like you and me!—to put together their own Hackintosh running Mac OS 10.5. Today, I’ll show you how to build your own high end computer running Leopard from start to finish for under $800.

This is essentially a parlor trick for now. Why anyone would put OS X on a cheap PC is beyond me, given the relatively low cost of Apple’s own entry-level hardware — for not much more you could buy an iMac with roughly the same specs.

What’s potentially exciting about this is something entirely different: the possibility of putting the Mac OS on a better notebook than Apple is willing to sell. The ThinkPad line is still the absolute class, hardware-wise, in the field. And the X series — superlatively powerful and compact with the best keyboards around — is my favorite laptop form factor.

I’d buy one of those with the Mac OS in a heartbeat, and pay a premium. Apple refuses to sell a sub-notebook computer (though rumor has it that one is coming, extremely belatedly). If someone can hack the X40 or its heirs to run OS X reliably, I’ll give it a great deal of thought.

Look at the MacInTouch page today and you see a long list of problems people are having with the new Mac OS X 10.5 “Leopard” operating system. Yike…

We bought the “family pack” last week. I installed the OS on one Mac — a Mini that was new earlier in the fall — with no issues, because it basically had nothing that could cause trouble.

But I’m waiting at least until 10.5.1 before I do the upgrade. Apple does good work, but I never, ever buy its new hardware in the initial version, and the same principle applies to operating systems (Windows is the same; always wait for the first service pack on a new Windows version before giving it a try).

Looking forward to the update, and then trying Leopard…

NY Times: Libraries Shun Deals to Place Books on Web. Several major research libraries have rebuffed offers from Google and Microsoft to scan their books into computer databases, saying they are put off by restrictions these companies want to place on the new digital collections. The research libraries, including a large consortium in the Boston area, are instead signing on with the Open Content Alliance, a nonprofit effort aimed at making their materials broadly available.

Google is not doing a bad thing, by any means. But it’s too much to ask a for-profit company to not ultimately abuse the basic monopoly it’s seeking in this case.

The Open Content Alliance is the right next step. It’s worth everyone’s support.