Apple zaps Pre’s free use of software

Apple Inc. has shut down one of the most compelling features on Palm Inc.’s rival Pre smart phone, crippling the Pre’s ability to act like an iPod. Users of the recently released Pre had been able to put music on it by using Apple’s free iTunes software — a unique twist for a device not made by Apple. But Apple updated iTunes on Wednesday to block this feature. Apple spokesman Tom Neumayr said the update “disables devices falsely pretending to be iPods, including the Palm Pre.” Palm spokeswoman Leslie Letts said Apple’s move is a “direct blow to their users, who will be deprived of a seamless synchronization experience.” For a workaround, she noted, Pre owners can stick to the older version of iTunes, move music from computers to a Pre with a USB cable or consider third-party music applications.

Wal-Mart develops supplier eco rating

Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the world’s largest retailer, plans to demand that all its suppliers measure the environmental cost of making their products so Wal-Mart can calculate and post an eco-rating for each item. The ambitious program, to be announced Thursday, is likely to spur companies to redesign products as diverse as electronics and jeans, but it presents still more costs to contain as they pinch pennies to tackle the recession. Shoppers won’t see green ratings on products for several years, according to a researcher involved in developing the index Wal-Mart will apply.

Security breach at Twitter, again

Breaking into someone’s e-mail can be child’s play for a determined hacker, as Twitter Inc. employees have learned the hard way — again. For the third time this year, the San Francisco-based company was the victim of a security breach stemming from a simple end-run around its defenses: A hacker guessed the password for an employee’s personal e-mail account and worked from there to steal confidential company documents. The techniques used by the attackers highlight the dangers of a broader trend promoted by Google Inc. and others toward storing more corporate and personal data online, instead of on computers under your control.

More card holders paying their bills

Two major credit card providers reported more improvements in delinquency rates in June on Wednesday, an encouraging sign that borrowers are not in as bad shape as many had feared. American Express Co. said in a regulatory filing that accounts at least 30 days past due shrunk to 4.4 percent of total loans during the month ended June 30, after falling to 4.7 percent in May and 4.9 percent in April. Capital One Financial Corp., a major credit card issuer based in McLean, Va., said its delinquency rate among U.S. cards improved for a fourth straight month, falling to 4.77 percent from 4.9 percent in May.

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