Archive for Blu-ray

Half Off Corel VideoStudio Pro X4 Video Editor and DVD Maker

For longer than I can remember, I have been using and recommending Corel’s VideoStudio Pro package for excellent, affordable, and easy-to-use editing of digital video and for making your own DVDs.

Corel never rests in their efforts to keep these product competitive, modern, and up-to-date with the latest home video standards. The latest version, VideoStudio Pro X4, is no exception.

At its regular price of $100 it is still a great buy, but currently you can acquire this software for half that, $50.

VideoStudio Pro X4

VideoStudio Pro X4

Corel VideoStudio Pro X4 is the powerful, creative and easy way to take your video footage from shoot to showfast. Quickly load, organize and trim SD or HD video clips. Easily cut together your production from templates and get creative with amazing effects, music, titles, transitions and more. Explore new Stop Motion Animation and Time-Lapse tools, then export to 3D! Share anywhereon iPhone and other mobile devices, disc, your favorite website or your TV. …

Iron Man 2 on Blu-ray and DVD today

Iron Man 2 Blu-ray

I used to read comic books. Admittedly, I still pick one up and flip through the pages to see what’s going on with some of my favorites.

One favorite has always been Iron Man.

I loved the first Iron Man movie. I probably saw it at least 6 times in the theater. I bought the DVD shortly after it came out… and I was waiting for it to come out, too.

I didn’t think the second one was as good as the first. The first one was good enough to make up for it, I guess. I was concerned the filmmakers wouldn’t work so hard on the second one. It’s easy to do when then first was so successful.

Regardless, Iron Man 2 is available on Blu-ray and DVD today. Both can be bought with digital copies for your computer or laptop. You can use the links here to take advantage of the great prices at

Iron Man 2 Blu-ray

Iron Man 2 Blu-ray

Iron Man 2 DVD

Iron Man 2 DVD

TigerDirect Deals

Skylarking is gearing up for Black Friday, but you can get an early start with these home entertainment and computer specials from TigerDirect.

SONY BRAVIA HDTVs w/FREE Blu-Ray Player.- (11/9 – 11/16/09) or while supplies last!

sonyset1SAVE $545 – FREE SHIPPING – Sony Bravia II 40″ LCD HDTV KDL40V5100 w/ Sony BDP-N460 Network Blu-Ray Disc Player Bundle $954.98. I’ve been wanting to get one of these network blu-ray disc players. Hook them up to your home network to stream movies, videos, music, and more right off the Internet from Netflix, YouTube, and more. Plus you can also play and upscale your standard DVDs to near high definition with this player.

sonyset2SAVE $650 – FREE SHIPPING – Sony 52″ Bravia V LCD HDTV KDL52V5100 w/ Sony BDP-N460 Network Blu-Ray Disc Player Bundle $1,599.98. One more foot of viewing space on your screen with fantastic Sony Bravia features. Too many to list, and, once again, the same great network Blu-ray player as before.

sonyset3SAVE $750 – FREE SHIPPING – Sony 55″ LCD HDTV KDL55V5100 w/ Sony BDP-N460 Blu-ray Disc Player Bundle $1,799.98.

BEST SELLERS.- (11/9 – 11/16/09) or while supplies last!

  • SAVE $40 – FREE SHIPPING – AOC 20″ Widescreen LCD Monitor with 1680 x 1050 pixels of resolution, a 3000:1 Dynamic Contrast Ratio for crisp images with sharp black and white. Has a VGA connector for use with any PC or notebook. All yours for $109.99.
  • SAVE $20 – FREE SHIPPING – ACER Aspire Desktop with an AMD Athlon 2.6GHz processor, 2GB of DDR2 RAM (memory), a massive 320GB hard disk drive for storing all your files. All powered by Vista Home Premium. $249.99. This computer is eligible for a free Windows 7 upgrade, too.
  • SAVE $200 – FREE SHIPPING – HP Pavilion dv2 Notebook with an AMD Athlon Neo 1.6GHz processor, 2GB of DDR2 RAM (memory), a 250GB hard disk drive (storage) with an external DVD-RW (rewriteable DVD burner). The screen measures 12.1 inches. Comes with Windows Vista Premium $549.99 after $50 MIR, rebate expires 01/16/2010. Plus you can get a Windows 7 upgrade for this machine.


    Gateway Win7 Notebook $700

  • SAVE $90 – FREE SHIPPING – HP Pavilion G70 Notebook with an Intel Core2Duo T6500 processor with a 2.1GHz clock speed, 4GB of DDR2 RAM (memory), and 320GB of hard disk space. A large 17 inch screen tops it off. With Windows Vista Premium (64-bit) This is a refurbished unit for $579.97. Upgrade it to Windows 7 while you’re at it.
  • SAVE $150 – FREE SHIPPING – Gateway Notebook Intel Core2 Duo T6600 2.2GHz processor, 4GB of DDR3 RAM (memory), a 500GB hard drive for storage, and a large 17.3 inch LED screen. Equipped with the Microsoft Windows 7 Premium 64-bit operating system for a mere $699.99.

What’s with External Blu-Ray Drives?

Grammatically speaking, I am not too certain about that headline, but subjectwise I’d like to thank “Reel Advice” from the “Reel Advice Movie review” blog for commenting on my Sept. 4 post about the Portable DVD and CD Drive for $40. They said:

Pretty nice deal for a portable drive but I will wait for portable Bluray drives before buying one of my own!

For me, Blu-ray wasn’t a consideration because I don’t have any Blu-ray discs — data or video — except for one or two accidental purchases, Superman II and Iron Man, which I have long since sold on eBay. Additionally, I bought the Lite-On ETDU10896 External Slim DVD ROMicon from purely for installing software and transferring files to computers other than my own. The other consideration was price. I didn’t want to spend more than $60 including tax.

But Reel Advice’s comment made me go back and search for portable blu-ray drives all the same. The results were interesting… for a while.

External Blu-Ray Drives

External Blu-Ray Drives

It turns out there are only two External / Portable Blu-Ray drives out there under $100 from “major” manufacturers: The LG BE06LU10 Super Multi Blue and the Panasonic UJ-120, but, for the most part, they are not available for “retail” sale; they’re pretty much “OEM”. OEM is “Original Equipment Manufacturer” which means they are for purchase by computer manufacturers. So if you are not an equipment manufacturer, and you buy one of these drives, and something goes wrong with it, you won’t be able to get any support from the manufacturer. (I had that happen once with an OEM motherboard I bought. There was a retail version available, but the OEM version was cheaper. Sadly, when I had trouble with the motherboard, I couldn’t get any assistance. I lived with it. Buyer beware, etc. I should have known better.)

So you can’t go to Best Buy and get any of these drives now, but they are available through other sites online.

One such site,, had a nice list of requirements for the Panasonic UJ-120 to work properly on your PC. Here’s the run down from their site:

  • Required software is not included.
  • This will function fine with your existing DVD and CD viewing and recording software.
  • To watch Blu-Ray movies, you will need HD capable software such as PowerDVD 8 Ultra, PowerDVD Suite 6 or ArcSoftTotalMedia Theater.
  • To use the drive as Blu-Ray player, your system needs to meet the following requirements:
  • Operating system: Windows XP with Service Pack 2 or better or Windows Vista
  • CPU: Core Duo or Core 2 Duo systems are generally compatible with Blu-ray disc drives. If your PC has a single processor (e.g. Intel Pentium 4), it should be at least 3.2 Ghz or have an AMD Athlon 64 FX games model, or an Intel Pentium EE Edition.
  • Memory: At least 1 GB RAM
  • Graphics card: This is the important part! You will need an nVidia GeForce 7600 GT or higher or an AMD/ATI X1600 or higher. You will need at least 256MB graphics memory and your card should support HDCP. Contact the manufacturer directly or visit their site for video adapter specifications if you aren’t sure whether your graphics card is HDCP enabled. You may also want to confirm that you have a graphics adapter driver version which supports Blu-ray discs (AMD/ATI Catalyst 6.7 and higher or nVidia ForceWare 93.71), and download the latest driver if necessary.
  • We know this list of requirements is intimidating. You’ll often be covered if your computer is a fairly recent model. We attached the USB 2.0 Blu-Ray drive to our Dell XPS M2010, installed the PowerDVD 8 Ultra and had no problem at all viewing a Blu-Ray movie.

Good points.

Vista System Properties

Vista System Properties

If you’re interested in seeing if your Windows (XP or Vista) computer meets these requirements, do the following:

  1. On the desktop, right-click on “My Computer”. A list a ppears. (Alternately, you can go to the “Control Panel” on your Start menu, then double-click “System”.)
  2. Click “Properties”. A system properties dialog box appears.
  3. On the screen you will find information for your computer’s “Operating System”, the “Processor” (CPU), and “Memory (RAM)”.
  4. Click the “Hardware” tab (XP) and/or “Device Manager”.
  5. Double-click “Display adapters” to see what graphics card you have. (You may have to do some research here to see if your card meets the requirements on the list above.)

And if you have any further questions, don’t hesitate to contact me here at Skylarking.

Weekend Sale at Corel! Ends Midnight May 31.

Corel, the makers of WordPerfect, VideoStudio, and Paint Shop Pro, is having a special online sale which ends at midnight on May 31. Here are some links to some of their products. The links will let Corel know you found out about the sale from Skylarking.

bs_pspx2ult_lgSave Up to $40 on Paint Shop Pro Photo X2 Ultimate. Full $99.99 $59.99. Offer ends Midnight 05/31/09: Paint Shop Pro is a very popular and easy to use photo and image editing program. It’s popular with high school and college students, and very handy for web site developers, too.

Save $40 on Corel VideoStudio™ Pro X2. Full $99.99 Only $59.99. Offer Ends Midnight 05/31/09: I have been using Corel VideoStudio for many years now to edit my home movies from my digital camcorder. With VideoStudio you can import video from most digital camcorders, edit them, and burn them onto DVDs which can be used in most DVD players and game consoles like the Xbox 360 or PlayStation. You can even use VideoStudio Pro to upload your videos onto YouTube. It’s a great product, and I recommend it highly. And this is a great price.

Save up to $30 on WordPerfect Office X4 Standard. Full $299.99 $269.99. Offer Ends Midnight 05/31/09 : WordPerfect Office includes the WordPerfect word processor, the Quattro Pro spreadsheet application, the Presentations slideshow application, Visual Intelligence SE for creating charts and graphs, the WordPerfect Lightning notation application, and WordPerfect Mail for email. It also includes tools for opening and creating PDFs and web sites.

bs_painter11_lgFREE $40 GelaSkins laptop Cover & Photo Painter webinar with Corel Painter 11 from $199.00. Expires Midnight 05/31/09: If you purchase a copy of Corel Painter 11 online through before this offer ends, you will receive protective GelaSkins laptop cover (a $40 value) for your laptop, and an invite to attend an online seminar to learn more about using Corel photo Painter 11.

photo_video_bundle_lgSave $30 on Corel Photo & Video Bundle only $149.99 $119.99. This package deal provides you with the tools for editing your digital photos and videos with your personal computer. This bundle contains Paint Shop Pro X2 Ultimate for photo editing, and Video Studio Pro X2 for video editing and video CD and DVD burning. You can also create videos which can be played back on your video capable iPod, iTouch, iPhone. or T-Mobile G1. This package also includes a 2 GB USB flash drive, and WinDVD for playing DVDs on your PC using your PC’s DVD drive. Read more about each of these applications in my descriptions above.

bs_windvd9plusblueray_lgSave $40 on WinDVD 9 Plus Blu-ray. Full $99.99 $59.99. Ends Midnight 05/31/09. WinDVD9 Plus Blu-ray allows you to play DVDs and Blu-ray DVDs on your PC’s DVD or Blu-ray DVD drive for enjoying Hi-Def video discs on your computer. If you’re not sure your computer is equipped to handle Hi-Def Video and Blu-ray you can download Corel’s Hi-Definition Advisor Tool to check your computer system’s compatibility. WinDVD 9 also supports Dolby Digital EX Pro Logic II, Real Player, QuickTime, DivX, AVCGD, and DTS Digital Surround. And it’s compatible with Windows Vista.

Feel free to contact me about these products, or add your comments on this offer and the products with the links below.

Got a story to share? Have a question? Post Comments or Questions with the link below. Keep up-to-date with Skylarking: By Email or RSS Newsfeed or on Twitter. You can also send questions with Skylarking’s email form.

Video: To Stream or Not To Stream

That is today’s question.

Apple iTunes

I’m referring to the video streaming services that are available for the home consumer market today: Netflix, CinemaNow, Amazon’s Video on Demand, and Blockbuster. Streaming video, for those unfamiliar, allows you to watch a video while it downloads. This was available to computers originally, and has since moved on to include televisions via game consoles and set-top boxes, and mobile phones most recently through YouTube and MySpace among others.

Netflix, Inc.

I’ve read a lot of articles with a lot of opinions on which is better or best, but it seems clear to me there is no one service that works best for everyone and every viewing platform:

  • Not everyone wants to watch video or TV on their computer or mobile phone
  • Not everyone wants to pay $300 for a phone or a box
  • Not everyone watches videos on a regular monthly basis

As Tim Berry at business planning site says, “Not everyone is your customer.”

What Services are there?

Computer Services

For streaming video to your computer you have many choices: Netflix, Blockbuster, Amazon’s Video on Demand, iTunes, and CinemaNow among others. Some of these, such as iTunes, aren’t true streaming services since the video must be partially or completely downloaded first in order to be watched, but broadband Internet access is sharply reducing the amount of time one must wait for the video to download.

All you need is some video playing software on your computer in order to watch the videos. Some services use popular pre-existing programs such as Apple’s Quicktime (which is included with iTunes) and Microsoft’s Windows Media Player. Some services, such as Amazon’s Video on Demand use their own software. (Amazon has their Unbox Video player software.) Others, such as Google’s YouTube and Hulu from NBC Universal and News Corp. can be watched in your browser.

Some of these services charges have a monthly subscription fee you can use, or you can pay on demand. If you watch videos frequently, they are bound to have a monthly subscription plan that you will find suitable. Otherwise you can expect to pay at least $1.99 or $3.99 per video for on demand service. New releases tend to be harding to get as not all film distributors are willing to make their videos available in this fashion.


Netflix Devices

Netflix Devices

The number of television services are increasing rapidly, but, in my opinion, still has a way to go. Quality is still not dependable from the true streaming services.

For example, Netflix, a perennial favorite, allows you to stream to your computer, and a variety of network media boxes are available which allow you to connect your computer to your television though your home computer network. You also have the option of streaming to a TiVo digital video recorder, a Xbox 360 game console, or a LG BD300 or Samsung’s BD-P2500 or BD-P2550 Blu-ray disc players. The video will download at the highest possible speed with the highest possible picture quality, but if there is a increase in demand the picture quality reduces to maintain the download speed necessary to keep the picture moving. A recent increase in usage by Xbox 360 owners caused such an increase in demand that some experienced picture qualities they considered “unwatchable”.

Take control! Get movies on-demand. Watch instantly on your TV at anytime. Learn more.

As with the computer services mentioned earlier, there is either an on-demand fee or a monthly subscription plus the boxes themselves cost upwards of $150 and $250. TIVO has a monthly subscription of about $8 to $12, and Xbox 360 requires a $8 monthly subscription to their Xbox Live Gold service, or a $49 annual fee.

There are other set-top boxes to look at, too, such as Vudu and Roku.

Special Recommendation

Take a look at the LG BD300 Network Blu-ray Disc Player for accessing Netflix video on demand service. This player sells at Best Buy for $349, but you can get it at Amazon for $290 now.

Mobile Phones



Principal among the mobile phones are the Blackberry and iPhone. These new phones, along with Google G1 phone from T-Mobile, allow you to watch videos from any of the web based services. You laso have the option of storing video files on some of the phones with large storage capability. For example, the iPhone allows you to download videos from the iTunes service. Verizon offers it VCast television service which allows you to watch television programs on your cellphone.

Google G1

Google G1

The phones cost over $179, and then your phone service is about $39 a month (but you already knew that) plus there is a data service fee of $30 per month as well. The data service is needed for either Vcast or Internet access on your Blackberry, G1, or iPhone.

My Issues, Maybe Yours

Many of us watch too much TV, and in many cases too much video. Which is worse?  That all depends on what you watch and who you talk to.  Monthly subscriptions make me feel forced to watch video or feel as though I’m throwing my money away. I was an early adopter of Netflix, among other things, and paid the monthly subscription for a whole year and only watched one video, so that was a $96 rental. Big waste. I’m more of an on-demand video watcher, not an on schedule video watcher. I prefer to be informed over entertained, and when I’m informed I like to be informed honestly and objectively whenever possible.

I also like to have maximum picture quality. I had a laserdisc player, still do, and I have several DVD players. I think some of my laserdiscs look better than some of my DVDs. The engineering quality isn’t always equal. Some manufacturers put a little extra care into the transfer, but streaming video currently has a variable picture quality to account for levels of demand. Some days are better than others. I’m just thinking about digital TV right now. The occasional picture scrambling drives me nuts. We get to look forward to that 24 hours a day when analog TV broadcasts go offline in February 2009.

I hope you’ve found this post informative today. Let me know what you think of streaming video, the different services, and anything related. Or send me a question for a future post.

Post Comments or Questions with the link below. Keep up-to-date with Skylarking: By Email or RSS Newsfeed or on Twitter. You can also send questions with my email form.

Got Blu-ray? Save $100 on Philips BDP7200 until tomorrow

Philips BDP7200 Blu-ray Disc Player

Philips BDP7200 Blu-ray Disc Player

Blu-ray, also known as Blu-ray Disc (BD), is a high-definition digital video disc (DVD). Blu-ray offers more than five times the storage capacity of traditional DVDs. This extra capacity combined with the use of advanced video and audio codecs offers consumers an unprecedented HD experience.

Not too long ago we saw the beginning and the end of the high definition video disc war. HD-DVD and Blu-ray. Blu-ray was the winner when it was backed by major video distributors, motion picture companies, and manufacturers.  Blu-ray has seen growing support from home consumers for the past year.  One of the reasons many have held out on buying into the new format is the high cost of the Blu-ray players.  Standard DVD players are selling for less than $100, while Blu-ray players are selling for upwards from $260, but here’s a special short term offer from Dell:

Hurry ends tomorrow & ships in time for Christmas: Save $100 off Philips BluRay 2700! Coupon Code: N20JW2GFZMKT0H

Currently, Dell sells the Philips BDP 7200 for $239. (Best Buy is selling this machine for $349.) Use the follwoing coupon code at checkout, N20JW2GFZMKT0H, and you can save an additional $40 on the price. This offer expires tomorrow on Wednesday, Dec. 17 at 6 AM Central time.

Technically speaking the Philips BDP720 Blu-ray Disc Player connects to your television via HDMI output, component video output, 5.1 channel audio line-out, composite video output, audio line-out, SPDIF output, SPDIF output (TOSLINK). It plays CD-R, CD-RW, DVD-R, DVD+RW, DVD-RW, DVD+R, DVD, CD, DVD+R DL, BD-R, BD-RE, BD-ROM, DVD-R DL. Media Format NTSC. Built-in Dolby Digital Audio Decoders, Output Resolutions are 1080i, 720p, 1080p, 480i, and 480p. It also plays JPEG photo formats, and comes with a remote control. It comes with a 1 year Service & Support warranty, and a limited 1 year warranty for parts and labor.

Post Comments or Questions with the link below. Keep up-to-date with Skylarking: By Email or RSS Newsfeed or on Twitter. You can also send questions with my email form.

10 Days of Deals at Dell

Try to say that 10 times fast.

Click the image at right to see Dell’s “10 Days of Deals” page with savings on computers, monitors, Blu-ray disc players. Each day through October 14 through 23rd will feature discounts and savings on different products, so check back each day. Here’s a list of some upcoming products.

Day One:

Dell's Studio Hybrid mini-desktop

Get a new Dell Studio Hybrid computer for $699 after $180 off!  The studio hybrid is small, powerful, and economical. It takes up 70% less space and uses 70% less power. It comes with an Intel Core 2 Duo CPU (the T5750 with 2.00GHz clock speed, and 667Mhz FSB), Windows Vista Home Premium, 1Yr Limited Hardware Warranty, InHome Service after Remote Diagnosis, Dell SE198WFP 19 inch Widescreen Flat Panel Monitor, 2GB RAM/Memory (Shared Dual Channel DDR2 at 667MHz), a 250GB SATA Hard Drive for storage, a CD/DVD Burner (Dual Layer DVD+/-RW Drive), and a Dell Wireless Desktop Keyboard & Mouse. Upgrades available.

Get a Dell Inspiron 1525 laptop for $499 after $150 off!  It comes with an Intel Celeron 550 CPU (2.0GHz, 533Mhz), Windows Vista Home Basic, Microsoft Works, 1Yr Ltd Hardware Warranty and Mail In Service, a glossy, widescreen 15.4 inch display, 2GB RAM/Memory (Shared Dual Channel DDR2 at 667MHz), a 250GB SATA Hard Drive, a CD / DVD Writer (DVD+/-RW Drive), Dell Wireless Internet 802.11g Mini-Card, and High Definition Audio. Upgrades available.

Day Two:

Get a Sony BDP-S350 Blu-ray Disc Player for $269 after $30 off!  Get the superb picture and sound quality only available on a blu-rayu disc player. CNET had this to say about the BDP-S350, “the combination of its small design, solid feature set, and excellent image quality make the Sony BDP-S350 a worthwhile standalone Blu-ray player–especially if you can find it for less than $300”. And her it is, under $300. Speaking for myself, this is the price I’ve been waiting for, a blu-ray player under $300.

Get $120 off on a Dell E248WP 24″ widescreen flat LCD monitor for $299! It has 1920 x 1200 native resolution for stunning detail without compromising desk space, a 5 millisecond response time which helps reduce ghosting and motion blur when gaming or watching movies, a 1000:1 contrast ratio for darker blacks and sharper images, crisp text, better color saturation and greater detail for HD entertainment.

There are more items available which I’ve not mentioned here.

Coming up on Oct. 16:

The Phillips DVD Home Theater System, Canon Rebel EOS XSi digital SLR camera, the Inspiron mini 9 laptop, and the Studio Desktop Mini 9 bundle computer system.

Post Comments or Questions with the link below. Keep up-to-date with Skylarking: By Email or RSS Newsfeed or on Twitter. You can also send questions with my email form.

Spammers Get Canned

Surprisingly, spammers getting jail time doesn’t get much press, but several major spammers have been put away this past year, and the latest one, a 27 year old Brooklynite, Adam Vitale, was sentenced to 30 months in prison yesterday. 24 to 30 months is the current limit of the Federal CAN SPAM Act of 2003. Yes, that’s the name, CAN SPAM. It stands for “Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing”.

What is the CAN SPAM Act of 2003?

According to the FTC, the CAN SPAM Act sets the following requirements for commercial (ie sales or promotional) email:

  1. It bans false or misleading header information. The email’s “From,” “To,” and routing information – including the originating domain name and email address – must be accurate and identify the person who initiated the email.
  2. It prohibits deceptive subject lines. The subject line cannot mislead the recipient about the contents or subject matter of the message.
  3. It requires that an email give recipients an opt-out method. The sender must provide a return email address or another Internet-based response mechanism, in the message, that allows a recipient to ask the sender not to send future email messages to that email address. (Recipients have 30 days to opt-out, and senders have 10 business days to comply). (Revision: A revision activated in July 2008 requires the sender complies within 3 business days.)
  4. It requires that commercial email be identified as an advertisement and include the sender’s valid physical postal address. Messages must contain clear and conspicuous notice that the message is an advertisement or solicitation and that the recipient can opt out of receiving more commercial email. It also must include a valid physical postal address.

Furthermore, the CAN SPAM Act allows:

  1. Each violation of the above is subject to fines of up to $11,000.
  2. Deceptive commercial email is subject to laws banning false or misleading advertising.
  3. Additional fines are provided for violators who:
    1. “harvest” email addresses from web sites or services that have published a notice prohibiting such activity
    2. generate random email addresses (a dictionary attack) with the intent of “stumbling” across a few genuine email addresses
    3. use software to register for multiple email accounts to send commercial email
    4. relay emails through a computer or network without permission
  4. The law allows the Dept. of Justice to seek criminal penalties, including imprisonment, for commercial emailers who do – or conspire to:
    1. Use another computer without authorization to send commercial email from or through it
    2. Use a computer to relay multiple commercial email messages to deceive or mislead recipients or an Internet service about the message’s origin
    3. Falsify header information (see no. 1 up top) in multiple email messages and initiate the transmission of such messages
    4. Register for multiple email accounts or domain names using information that falsifies the identity of the actual registrant
    5. Falsely represent themselves as owners of multiple Internet Protocol addresses that are used to send commercial email messages.

More about Yesterday’s Sentencing

Starting in 2005, the US Secret Service had a confidential informant communicate with Vitale and his partner, Todd Moeller, via instant messaging chats. One of the two young men had already been profiting from spamming stock market scams.

The informant hired the men to promote computer software through their spam activities. This resulted in around 250,000 email messages being sent to 1.2 million AOL subscribers. The emails contained falsified header information, and they were relayed through other computers and internet services without permission.

In June 2006, Vitale and Moeller pled guilty to charges of sending emails in a scheme to bypass spam filters. Moeller was sentenced in Dec. 2007, to 27 months in prison. Both also received 3 years of supervised release, and must each forfeit over $183,000 in illegal gains. Vitale was sentenced on July 15, 2008.

Other Recent Spammer Sentencings and Indictments

  • 3/18/2008: Daniel Mascia, 24, of West Haven, CT, pleaded guilty in Hartford to one count of conspiracy to commit fraud in connection with access devices and one count of fraud in connection with electronic mail. The charges relate to a “phishing” and “spamming” scheme that targeted AOL subscribers.
  • 3/14/2008: Robert Alan Soloway, 29, pleaded guilty in Seattle to Mail Fraud, Fraud in Connection with Electronic Mail, and Willful Failure to File a Tax Return. Soloway, indicted in May 2007, has been dubbed the “Spam King” by investigators. The most serious charge, mail fraud, is punishable by up to 25 years in prison.
  • 1/03/2008: Alan Ralsky, age 52, and ten others, indicted in international illegal spamming and stock fraud scheme.
  • 12/04/2007: Min Kim, 24, of Denver, CO was sentenced to 30 to 37 months, instead of 24 to 30, because he kept books tracking his $250,000 in profits. This is the first time that profits were a considerable factor in sentencing and it opens the way for longer sentences in the future.
  • 9/17/2007: Joshua Eveloff, 27, receives 6 months, 5 years supervised release, and $9,100 in penalties in San Diego for 3 months of spamming in 2004.

Related Links:

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Pioneer Plans To Launch Blu-ray Recorders

Following up on yesterday’s news from Pioneer, today Pioneer announced its plans to release Blu-ray recorders in Japan by year’s end. Currently, there are no official plans for overseas sales.

At this time Sony, Panasonic, and Sharp dominate the Japanese domestic market for Blu-ray sales. Pioneer’s recorders will be developed with Sharp which already sells its own Blu-ray recorders. Sharp is Pioneer’s largest shareholder with a 14% stake in the company.

In the US, Blu-ray recorders are only available as a computer peripheral, and not as a home recorder for the television. Sony unveiled BDZ-S77 Blu-Ray Disc Recorder for sale in Japan, 5 years ago, in 2003.

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