Blockbuster offers to buy Circuit City, Apocalypse Begins

From InternetRetailer.comBlockbusterCircuit City  Video rental retailer Blockbuster Inc. has offered to buy consumer electronics chain Circuit City Stores Inc., aiming to take advantage of the convergence of digital entertainment content and devices best exemplified by Apple Inc.’s runaway success with the iPod music player and iTunes online music store.

“Marrying digital content with devices is going to happen, by us or by others in the marketplace,” Blockbuster chairman and CEO Jim Keyes told analysts today. “Apple clearly has made the most progress in this avenue.”

Keyes painted a picture of Circuit City stores selling customers, along with extended warranties and maintenance contracts, subscriptions to movies, TV shows, video games and other entertainment content from Blockbuster. “For every customer buying a TV set or other form of consumer electronics, Circuit City now can sell a subscription service to digital content from,” Keyes said. He said Blockbuster stores also could sell a limited selection of electronics devices provided by Circuit City, and that Blockbuster could place kiosks in Circuit City stores.

Okay maybe the title is a little over the top but I was caught a little off guard by this announcement. And I see many people making comparisons to the vertical integration of products and services that Apple offers (via iPods, iTunes, etc) but this seems like an Apples to Oranges (I couldn’t resist) comparison to me. Will this actually work? Will Best Buy now purchase Hollywood Video? Or Netflix? What about Wal-Mart? They won’t want to be left out of this race? Stay Tuned.

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Got my Ghost On – Whoo Hoo!

NIN - Ghosts I-IVHot Damn,  I got my NIN Ghosts I-IV today in the mail. I thought these things weren’t going to ship until May so I’m stoked. Yeah. yeah I already have the MP3’s and I already love the album that I’ve been waiting years to hear. So maybe I’m just old school but there’s just nothing that beats the emotional high of tearing the shrinkwrap off your brand spanking new CD/Cassette/LP and manhandling the latest release from your favorite musical artist. I remember back in the day before downloading my favorite albums via Napster/Shareaza/Binary Newsgroups/Torrent it was such a crapshoot when you bgought the latest album. Yeah maybe you’ve heard the advance singles on the radio but you have no idea what’s going to happen with the rest of the album. So anyway, I hope the precedent set forth by Radiohead & NIN can prove to artists that they can release commercially successful records without going through the labels and without making music tailored for the radio, or what’s left of it anyway. I’m still not quite sure that HD-FM is going to save radio, all though everyone said FM would kill AM and AM Radio is still around, right? Just wait until everyone has wireless broadband in their vehicles. What will radio do then? I’m not sure but I’m loving my new 2 Disc Set. Thank you Trent !!

Beautiful Virii And Malware at RSA

Beautiful Malwarefrom

They’re frightening, yet strangely beautiful. They spread and infect and replicate and continually wreak havoc. While viruses and malware steal copious amounts of information and compromise an untold number of machines every day, these treacherous security threats are unseen to the naked eye. Until now.
Malware MyDoom For the first time ever, images have been developed that visualize a wide range of these pernicious, but hidden, threats. Researchers at MessageLabs, the vendor behind the project, disassembled malicious code from a variety of well-known threats to render it inoperative. The researchers then passed the code along to computational artist Alex Dragulescu, who applied specially built application to analyze the code and used its values to create a 3D entity. That entity was then transferred to modeling software, where it was positioned and lit to capture the aesthetics of the model. Dragulescu then used his artistic touch to prepare the final image for its presentation April 7 at the Varnish Fine Art Gallery in San Francisco.

Google Unleashes Web Services: Google App Engine

Google App EngineGoogle unleashed their Amazon Web Services killer today called Google App Engine. Right now the development kit is limited to Python (and the Django Web Framework built on Python), the Google BigTable database and the GFS file services but this will undoubtedly change the game for Amazon Web Services and the paid providers that have been built around managing AWS. Here are more details from the announcement on

Google isn’t just talking about hosting applications in the cloud any more. {Google is} launching Google App Engine, an ambitious new project that offers a full-stack, hosted, automatically scalable web application platform. It consists of Python application servers, BigTable database access (anticipated here and here) and GFS data store services.

At first blush this is a full on competitor to the suite of web services offered by Amazon, including S3 (storage), EC2 (virtual servers) and SimpleDB (database).

Unlike Amazon Web Services’ loosely coupled architecture, which consists of several essentially independent services that can optionally be tied together by developers, Google’s architecture is more unified but less flexible. For example, it is possible with Amazon to use their storage service S3 independently of any other services, while with Google using their BigTable service will require writing and deploying a Python script to their app servers, one that creates a web-accessible interface to BigTable.

What this all means: Google App Engine is designed for developers who want to run their entire application stack, soup to nuts, on Google resources. Amazon, by contrast, offers more of an a la carte offering with which developers can pick and choose what resources they want to use.

Google Product Manager Tom Stocky described the new service to me in an interview today. Developers simply upload their Python code to Google, launch the application, and can monitor usage and other metrics via a multi-platform desktop application.