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The day the music died

Microsoft has taken some really interesting research and turned it into a vicious hate-crime against music with the launch of their reverse-karaoke software, 'Songsmith'. The program enables anyone to sing into their p.c. and have it spit out an algorithmically generated and unforgivably wretched backing-track. Be sure to watch the promotional video for the moment when the mouse pointer drags the 'happy' and 'funky' sliders to get the feel *just* so.

Schiller delivers the expected, screws music owners

The absence of a hormonally-imbalanced Steve Jobs wasn't the only problem with Phil Schiller's keynote at Macworld this week. Schiller delivered a perfectly competent performance, but the keynote was marred by his resolute refusal to announce anything anyone could get excited about.

New iLife & IWork suites of software were unveiled with interminably long demo's and iTunes music files are (finally) to do DRM free. This is of course excellent news in the long run, the only snag is that the music you already own will remain locked down - unless of course you pay Apple another 30 cents to scrub it clean.

Just incase you haven't seen this already, I'll link here again to the most entertaining Apple related media of the week.

Apple Introduces Revolutionary New Laptop With No Keyboard

Ballmer fails to dance, gives hope for Windows users

Another major corporate figure making his keynote debut this year was Microsoft's Steve Ballmer at the CES show in Las Vegas. Not a man noted for his presentational restraint, Ballmer came to the stage in a spectacle worthy of the Vegas stage. Sadly however, he neither danced or announced any major Microsoft bombshells. The biggest news was that the Windows 7 beta will be available from today - good news for those locked within the staggering condescension of Vista.

Google invades privacy, frees hostage

The Worcester Telegram has an engaging account of how local police turned to Google Street View to locate an alleged kidnapping victim. Having narrowed down the approximate scene of the crime from mobile phone signal triangulation, Deputy Cheif Lozier turned to the search behemoth to fill in the final details of the puzzle. After searching through street view images of the suspected location, the Google Maps satellite view confirmed his suspicions- "I told Todd if I was going to throw the dice, I'd throw them there," he said.

Facebook reaches 150 million active users

On the 7th Jan the social networking service announced that if Facebook were a country, it would be the eighth most populated in the World, just ahead of Japan - furthermore, everyone would be friends. This follows the previous news that on Christmas Day in the UK, 1 in every 22 internet visits went to the site. In 2008 a record six billion friend requests were approved on Facebook, proof as if it were needed, that the internet is mostly made of love.

War in Gaza, War in "Gaza"

Embedded journalist Wagner James Au reports that the conflict in Israel has spilled over into protests in 'SL Israel', the new Israel housed within heavily editorialised virtual world Second Life. Activists began teleporting into SL Israel and registering their discontent: "They were going on and on with slurring obscenities about murderous Israeli forces, etc." Says resident Beth Odets who helped to create new Israel. Au has been delivering reportage from within Second Life for years and his site New World Notes is a fascinating read, not least because it offers the luxury of receiving insight into SL without having to actually be there.

Twitter hacked, Woss tweets

This week a number of high-profile Twitter accounts were hacked, at one point causing Fox News to uncharacteristically announce that "Bill O'Riley is gay". Obama and Britney Spears were also compromised in the onslaught which Twitter management now claim to be under control.

But despite the frequent downtime, poor latency and now security problems, Twitter inexplicably continues to rise in popularity. This week it edged dangerously close to the mainstream in the UK, as suspended millionaire Jonathan Ross used the service to tweet the details of his recent holiday around the web. An avid tweeter, Ross is investigating the possibility of other sleb-nerds tweeting on his return to television.

Iain Simons writes, talks and tweets about videogames and technology. His new book, Play Britannia, is to be published in 2009. He is the director of the GameCity festival at Nottingham Trent University.