Cybernaut 

iTunes site up for Canada

After more than a year in operation south of the border, and more recent openings in the U.K., France and Germany, Apple is at last bringing its iTunes online music store to Canada.

The site will offer a library of more than 700,000 songs, available for 99 cents each, with deals for people who buy the whole album. Incidentally, that’s the cheapest iTunes deal out there, with songs going for $0.99 U.S. south of the border.

Although it’s more bad news for Canadian CD retailers, the record companies and artists are at least hoping to make back some of the money they’ve been losing to peer-to-peer file swapping services. With a cheap alternative available, and the Canadian Recording Industry Association attempting to sue illegal music traders, their Web providers, and anyone else with an illegal MP3 on their hard drive, it’s a safe bet that iTunes will do pretty well here.

Of course it’s not the only online music store to open in Canada, but iTunes already has a 70 per cent market share in the U.S. despite the fact that there are dozens of competitors out there, including the likes of Microsoft, Wal-Mart and Sony.

The iTunes store is available to everyone who downloads iTunes from www.apple.ca/itunes, Mac or PC.

Canadian fans can also take comfort that there will be a healthy selection of home-grown artists. After only a day in operation, two Canadian tunes, The Tragically Hip’s Night is for Getting? and K-Os’ Crabbuckit, were already on the iTunes Canada top-10 list.

Lycos backs down on anti-spam challenge

It’s been a while since Lycos (www.lycos.com), the Internet search engine, has been in the news for anything. The fact they have 22 million users is a little surprising in these days of Google dominance, so obviously they’re doing something right, but they’ve always done it under the radar.

Not anymore, however. The once nice, quiet Lycos hub stepped up in a big way last week with the creation of a new screen saver device that lets you harass spammers when your computer is at rest.

It works like this: when you step away from your computer and it goes into sleep mode, an automated system sends requests to servers that are known for sending spam e-mails, as determined by leading anti-spam agencies. Thousands of requests add up, all but paralyzing the performance of these servers after they answer one wrong number after another. So far almost 70,000 people have signed up for the service in its first few weeks, with numbers approaching the critical mass needed to seriously inconvenience the spammers of the world.

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