Saturday, December 22, 2007

Yo Ho Ho, A Pirate's Christmas For Me

I had a couple of noteworthy items on privacy, so I felt like I could stretch the title a bit. The RIAA just gets more and more ridiculous as time progresses, it seems. They decided to distribute their own news segment about a big crackdown on pirated CDs and how to look out for pirated music. It's one of those things that's so stupid that to even highlight what's wrong with it is to state the obvious. I can assure you that a pirated CD does not have worse sound quality than a normal CD though, that's one of the things wrong with this video. Oh, and no one wants Christmas ring tones. The bottom line is that they're focusing too much on the negative and their scare tactics are clearly not effective. When you tell your consumers that CDs that are "too good to be true" are probably pirated, you're kind of a moron. I know I'm beating a dead horse here, but it seems like everyone realized but them that there has just not been an upward trend in the quality of the content of music nowadays and so the reason the industry has been faltering is that people have been using the Internet to become more selective and only buy what they know they'll like as opposed to the 90s where people bought CDs that looked pretty or were from familiar/recommended artists. In this world of Internet radio and Seeqpod and Pandora and, the playing field has changed. They need to move towards embracing that.

Famed torrent site Mininova found their pirate spirit and decided to use it to build a legitimate service: content distribution. You give them the content and they'll help you seed the torrent and everything, all for free. It's intended for independent artists and filmmakers, but there doesn't seem to be any restrictions on who takes advantage of it. I love it because they're just showing off how torrents can really help the world past just piracy.

Apple's PR people never cease to piss me off. Their desire to protect trade secrets is relentless. They finally got to Think Secret, which was a pretty well-known blog for Apple rumors and leaks. So basically, they were paid off to shutdown. They went to the Fake Steve Jobs blog and made him the same offer. He's under contract with his sponsor, so he's resisting at his own peril. Get this: they sent him a detail list of his assets at risk if he doesn't cease a desist, including his kids' college funds (with their names). That's all kinds of messed up. Their case against him is pretty thin. There's nothing wrong with writing a satirical blog about someone, even if it is about Steve Jobs. The posts they claim that are in violation don't prove that anything was leaked; the evidence is circumstantial. It's just upsetting to me that they have this cult following and they choose to run their name in the ground among geeks, their most loyal followers, with this craziness. Oh, and Fake Steve criticized the EFF for promoting censorship (i.e. helping bloggers settle with Apple and basically being sell-outs) so they won't help him. Hypocrites. Hear that, EFF? No one takes you seriously and no one ever will.

While I'm pouncing on Apple, they've filed for a couple of patents. The first patent made sense: auto-shutdown after charging or file transfers. Great idea. The other patent is for programmers to inject code into software's run-time stream so that it can restrict execution to certain hardware. So if you tried running a Mac application on hardware that Apple didn't like, it wouldn't work. First of all, this is bad for the same reason DRM is: you're restricted use too much. Let consumers do what they want with what they bought, don't nickel and dime them out of possible uses. Don't force them to use your hardware just because you wrote the software. That's called being snooty. Second of all though, am I the only one who sees the potential for security issues? If it actively checks the hardware and you put out a virus that gives it faulty information, couldn't you theoretically crash people's machines who ran software based on this patent? Oh, and what about the false positive rate? Let's not forget about base rate fallacy. I hope that this patent is an idea they don't intend to implement, but I'm afraid given their issues with people hacking iPhones that they will. On the bright side though, Apple is adopting Intel's UMPC platform Menlow. That doesn't mean a whole lot to us right now except that they're following Intel's roadmap so we can hopefully expect to see Apple on the cutting edge of mobile applications past just the iPhone (or even improving the iPhone in 2G).

Just a couple of quick, fun items. Google Talk lets you translate in real-time if you invite one of their translation bots into a group chat. Isn't that pretty cool? I've run into the language barrier before on Google Talk many months ago, and that would've totally helped then. Remember Y2K? It turns out that Linux wasn't built to last past 2038! I'm sure it'll be fine by then with the increasing acceptance of 64-bit processors, but it's still kind of quirky. This and this are wickedly funny. They're what video game boxes would say if they told the truth. This is one of my favorites:

Have a great Christmas, everyone! I'll have another post for you soon enough. Hopefully I'll be more productive over the next couple of days.

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