Sunday, October 7, 2012

I had a dream...

It was 12 years or so ago. At the time there was no such thing as a smart phone. I had a dream one night, where I was sitting in front of a computer and was looking at the world map. I was zooming in and in and in, and eventually I was able to see all the details down to roads, buildings, trees, etc. The only difference from today's map applications with satellite view support was that, it was all live! Looking at Apple's new map application with the 3D turned on over Manhattan suddenly reminded me this long forgotten dream.

It seems so many people have complained about Apple's map app. Unlike what most people say, I like it better than Google Maps on iPhone. First of all, it supports vector graphics, so the maps are crystal clear and do not require downloading different images for different zoom levels. 3D views with buildings is also great. Most importantly, it brings turn-by-turn directions with voice support. There are two missing things though. First is the public transportation data. Google Maps was great for finding subway routes and times in NYC. Second is the inaccuracies in the map data. This latter thing is only a matter of time to fix. I don't criticize Apple for releasing the app. They have to start from somewhere. I am sure within a year all inaccuracies would be fixed in the map data.

What I hate about Apple is their DRM stuff though. I had 30 episodes of Twin Peaks and 14 episodes of Firefly bought from iTunes. I wanted to move them to my external disk so that I can play them on my TV without hooking up my computer to the TV. Guess what, you can't do that without buying an Apple TV. After some searching around and with the suggestion of a friend, I found the software called Requiem. It is the only free DRM removal tool that can wipe out the DRM from your movies without playing and re-recording them (there are many paid tools that do the latter). So you get the same original content, just without the DRM on it.

The tool works like a charm, but it is somewhat hard to get to. Due to legality issues, it is hidden behind the Tor network (which uses onion routing to hide the web end points). It can be reached from here: and works for the latest version of iTunes. It took around 10 hours to remove the DRM from 52GB worth of video. There were no problems.