Monday, November 18, 2013

The big downside of the "cloud"

The "cloud" is essentially "someone else's computer".  Basically, the positive is that you don't have to install or maintain software or data.  The negative is that all your stuff is on someone else's computer.

When you embed a YouTube link into a facebook post or a web page, you are relying on the cloud (someone else's computer).  It is very convenient for you, and also for censors.

Readers of this blog will recall my special love for Sony, for repeatedly getting my videos on YouTube taken down for supposedly infringing on their copyright--for the use of music I had licensed the same way I had.  Well, recently this effect has been seen with the "Breaking Bad Alternate Ending" video going the rounds.  Here are some examples of this great video embedded in web pages using the cloud:







Boy what fun that is!  The internet is such a useful tool!  And frankly Sony is just stepping on their own damn stupid foot, as the takedown is almost certainly automated.

All to deny people a look at a cool little spoof video that would probably enhance their sales.  Stupid fucking motherfuckers.

Copy shit, don't link.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Amazon irritation

So I wanted to read the new book by one of my favorite authors, who shall remain nameless.

The book was "published" in September in the UK, but not until January in the US.

Amazon.com gave me the option to get on the waiting list to get the Kindle version.

Amazon.co.uk told me it couldn't sell it to me because it wasn't "published" in my country until January.

So I downloaded the ebook off a random website for free.

Ask me if I feel bad.

Data is not real stuff.  It is incredibly stupid to try to treat it as if it was.

Obviously not okay

http://www.chron.com/news/article/Viral-video-we-ve-all-seen-gets-taken-down-over-4887861.php?cmpid=hpts

Above is a story that is obviously not okay.  Some lady uploaded pics of her kid playing with the family pet.  Another lady copied it and monetized it through Youtube.  Now there's a lawsuit.

I think any normal person would feel that this is not okay.

However, if they'd just copied it for fun?  Really, would you consider that wrong?

Thursday, August 15, 2013

What is new?

I came across this video on facebook today:


Somebody went to a lot of trouble to make it appear the characters of Sesame Street were jamming out a heavy metal song by Slayer.

Is this copyright infringement?  Should it be?

From the stupid point of view, the video creator is plagiarizing both Slayer and Sesame Street, and obviously should go to jail and be fined a million dollars.

And this is why the old way of copyright needs to go away.  I think any ordinary person can see the value--no matter how trivial or flippant--added by this masterpiece of video editing.

Friday, June 28, 2013

It's all about free speech

So it's been a while since I rapped at ya...

This blog has always been about free speech.  My thesis is that toleration of piracy is required in order to preserve free speech on the internet.  However, free speech is under attack from many sources.

Recently it's become know that  two people are facing prison time for making chalk protest graffiti.  There is no situation in which this is acceptable.

Similarly, kids are facing terrorism charges for video game and facebook smack talk--even when it is quite obvious they are joking.

Point being, people are fucking stupid, and will censor each other quite naturally if given their head.  Defending free speech is a full time job, that never ends.

Monday, April 15, 2013

What is it you own again?

This isn't a new theme in this space--indeed, I think I've covered all the available themes a few times over.  But when you purchase "digital goods", you don't really "own" anything. 

A recent Slashdot thread got me to thinking about it again.  In it various geeks outline their methods of ensuring that their families and children will be able to access "digital content" they've purchased after they die.  So A) it's depressing and B) it's depressing on a different level.  If you have to set up a password protected SAN share on your home network, and develop and encryption system--what is it you "own" again?

I'm far more enamored with services like Pandora which do not make any pretense of you're "buying" anything.  But everywhere else it's all "buy this, own it today!" which is quite simply a damn lie.

Any money spent to "purchase" digital "goods" is wasted.

Again, I'll pay a few pennies for the service of providing me with an mp3 or movie file.  But that's it.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

reselling mp3's (part 2)

So a court has ruled that "reselling mp3's" is copyright infringement.  We talked about this not too long ago here on this blog.  In fact, I just looked over that post and it's pretty much the same rant I was about to make today.  After 250+ posts I've found that indeed, I have run out of arguments.

Suffice to say for now that, once again, data is not stuff.  Trying to treat it like actual stuff will not, cannot, ever work.  At some point, ordinary folks are going to realize they've been taken for a ride, and the thousands of dollars many of spent on electronic stuff was completely, utterly, wasted. 

"Buy it today!" the commercials shriek about the latest movie or pop album.  But when you try to "resell" it, well, you don't "own" it any more.  You were just licensing it.  You didn't know that.  You are going to be pissed.

I still think ReDigi, the company trying to set up an mp3 resale shop, has got to be a bit of a tongue in cheek operation.  They know what they are doing is preposterous, but they are playing along with the content industry's ideas of treating data like stuff. 

The whole idea is ludicrous.  For example, presumably, when you "resell" and mp3 you "bought" you must make sure you delete it from your hard drive,  or you're a dirty thief.  But if "reselling" an mp3 is preposterous, how can the original "sale" be any different?

A friend linked me to this image which discusses how pricing works in the human mind:

http://imgur.com/gallery/To97rNL

I think the whole "buying and selling" of digital data is a thing very much along those lines.  People aren't trained to think about it correctly, and so they are ridiculously easy to fool.

Which is why I'm here :-)  You're welcome! lol.


Tuesday, April 2, 2013

HBO preternaturally calm

I read an interesting article today about HBO's Game of Thrones--everyone's favorite piracy topic.

In it, a rep from HBO says they don't send out the "Game of Thrones" police against casual torrenters.  He even seems resigned to piracy and not too disturbed about it.  The article mentions that they focus on people who are actually selling pirated copies, which of course is one of the main theses of this blog.

I don't know how honest they are being, but it's encouraging that they think this is the proper attitude to have publicly.

They also have a quote from one of the creators of the show waxing poetic on what he could do if people could even purchase a copy of a show for a buck, which I personally consider reasonable (if still a bit steep), presuming I can just download the damn thing and play it where I want.  They point out there is no way to do this, and so HBO is just giving up that money.

I'd be more confident about sanity starting to prevail if it wasn't for ACTA and other trade agreements which may undermine any chance for sane laws on copyright.


Wednesday, March 20, 2013

hacking is good

It's official, America is technically fucked.

Check out this post on Slashdot:

http://it.slashdot.org/story/13/03/20/1520218/botnet-uses-default-passwords-to-conduct-internet-census-2012

A researcher did a massive internet scan for default password devices, and actually had the nerve to use them.

Used to be, he would be a hax0r hero.  But look at the slavish posts on Slashdot.  "That's illegal!"  "That's unethical!"  "You're SO going to jail!".

Nobody is talking about the technical implications.  To quote user houghi:

"Postings all go about how this is illegal and not about the technical situation.

It is sad times when people are more worried about the legal thread and ruining their lives and not about the technical implications.

How many people do not dare to bring solutions because they might be punished?"


Indeed.  It's funny.  I'm old enough to remember when it was otherwise.  And I remember seeing the media slowly becoming internet-aware and getting it so wrong....but they persist in being wrong.  And the government persists in being wrong.  And over the years, a younger generation has come up thinking this nonsense is sane and normal.

And we've emasculated them.  They're a bunch of technical pussies and we are fucked.

With that kind of attitude, you can't learn anything. Hey you know what?  When you stick a default-password device on the open net, you're not getting hacked if someone logs in. You fucking invited them to.

Oh my God I assure you..it really is possible to be too nice.


Saturday, March 9, 2013

Encouragement

So it's been along time since I rapped at ya...

I think what it is is that Facebook has been sucking away my "chatter on the internet" daily quota on a regular basis.  That, and after 200+ some-odd essays on the expansion of fair use in copyright, well, I've pretty much run over all the arguments!

Still, I'm keeping my eyes open and I've got a bit of a backlog of stuff I want to talk about.

Today I just want to share an interesting comment section on a blog on my local paper by Dwight Silverman, the excellent technology writer for the Houston Chronicle:

http://blog.chron.com/techblog/2013/03/apple-amazon-get-patents-to-offer-used-digital-goods/

In this case, I'd like to draw your attention to the comments section, actually (sorry Dwight).  The blog post itself is just about Apple and Amazon trying to patent "reselling" of digital goods.  That, in itself, is so recursively contempt-worthy that I can scarcely comprehend it.  But the interesting thing I noticed was the comments--almost no one is defending this preposterous idea.

True, the comments are moderated, but I've seen in the past that Mr. Silverman seems to be pretty even-handed in his moderation.  But this is the first time I've seen such a comment section that wasn't filled with non-techies baffled by any sort of pro-piracy or anti-copyright point of view.

If this is the start of a new trend, it has come much faster than I could have expected.  I jumped in there, of course.  But the only really contemptuously anti-piracy rant came near the very bottom--the usual thing where the poster refuses to look at the big picture, and deigns to explain the current state of the law to all of us.  And it was immediately retaliated against, inadequately it is true, but still that's nice to see.

So maybe normal folks are starting to "get it".  I hope so.

More to come.


Saturday, February 16, 2013

Boy, Canada is just begging to be liberated

News today that the IIPA, kinda the global MPAA/RIAA body, is harassing Canada about their new copyright laws.  You can read more detail about it here, but the gist of it is these guys are never going to stop until every country in the world passes laws which guarantee a totally authoritarian internet, where you can be hauled away or sued into oblivion if you download or upload the wrong bits.

Go torrent something "illegal" today, and help save the world.

Be sure to charge for admission, too.




Monday, February 11, 2013

Canada needs to practice critical thinking, too

One characteristic of people that I've noticed over the years is that most folks simply don't even try to see beneath the surface of things.  This is a big mistake, of course, if you really want to understand the world.

For example, when a congresscritter introduces a bill entitled "National Save the Cats Act", you can be quite sure that its main purpose is to eradicate all feline creatures from within the demesnes of the United States.

But you don't call it that.  People like cats.  So you call it something else.

This is what came to mind today when I read about Canada, for the moment, shelving plans to have warrantless internet surveillance of all Canadians.

Interesting that they would want to do this at all.  More interesting was the rationale--child pornography.

So in the United States we have warrantless internet surveillance to protect us from terrorists.  But in Canada it's for kiddie porn.

In China it's for the "good of society".

But what is it really, then?




Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Injecting into your internet

I'm sorry I haven't been blogging on a daily basis.  I'm not going to kid you--I'm finding it to be a challenge to write about 365 reasons why it's a great idea to expand fair use.  It looks like I started to run out of non-repetitive ammo at only about 200 reasons.  


I'm not going away though, so I hope you'll stick around.  It might just be that I'll post when I think I have something worthwhile to say.  Surely that's not so bad?  But this does count as a fanaticism-fail, so I apologize.  

Today I'm going to talk about injection.  Specifically, your ISP injecting--or removing--things from your internet feed.

First, Cox Cable decided it would be a good idea to inject HTML into your HTML stream to let you know when there is a service outage.  What this means is you are surfing the web, and suddenly you get a popup on whatever web page you're looking at that announces a service outage or whatever.

I spend a lot of time in this space talking about the integrity of information, and the need for integrity in our internet communications (in the sense of not being censored, not candor..although that's good, too).  At first this sounds quite innocuous.  But we know better, don't we?  When I type in the URL to a web page, I expect to have an unaltered communication session with the owner of the server that runs that website.  If my ISP starts injecting stuff in there, I am no longer getting an unfettered and unfiltered internet connection.

Using such technology, an ISP could, for example, make all the text in your browser a different color.   Or alter images and replace them with advertisements.

Slippery slope, that's all I'm saying.

And that dovetails nicely with the report of a French ISP blocking advertisements by default.  Again, sounds fabulous.  Indeed, most malware is served via advertisements, these days.

But it's not what you paid for.  What are they going to block next?

Not to mention, I've already run into a couple sites where all the actual content is served from an ad server--so no ads, no content.  It's another arms race on the internet....

Now, an option to block ads, I think that would be great.

The integrity of our communications must not be threatened, whether it's injection, blocking, or shaping torrent traffic.  Or we're just like China.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Patenting sucking

Amazon has apparently patented the artificial scarcity of digital goods.  Very nice.

So instead of allowing computers and the internet to make information as freely available as possible, we need to go out of our way to limit that potential.

I've gone on and on about this in this space before.  Maybe it's a defensive patent?  I don't know.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Mega money mega problems

If you haven't yet seen the footage of the Kim Dotcom copyright raid treat yourself to the beginning of this video.  And keep saying to yourself "this is about copyright infringement, this is about copyright infringement" over and over.

Bizarre.  I'm surprised they didn't just send a Tomohawk missile to blow up his house.

Kim is a huge douche, but you have to admit it takes some balls to continue on with your piracy-supporting ways after having your house raided by SWAT style teams.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Owning vs. renting

A consumer organization in Germany is suing Valve software over the right of resell of digital products.  The issue is that customers who "buy" games via Valve's Steam online service do not have the capability to resell the games they own.

On the one hand, my own argument is that digits are not real and it generally makes little sense to consider them property, per se.  On the other hand, people paid good money to "own" the games according to Valve's own fiction, but then the are denied commonly agreed-on rights of resell.

What to do, what to do.  I did like one Slashdot commenter's (sjones) barb:

"In the west, Communism is decried in part because it doesn't respect the concept of personal property. None of 'your' stuff is owned by you. So why, given that, should we accept for even one second a culture where we only rent and license things from corporate owners? We can't even be said to own the license since there are so many ways a 'permanent' license can just evaporate."

Hahaha.  Love it.  We're going to have to work with that concept some more.

Corporate Communism forever!

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Facebook can be depressing

So I've finally been dragged kicking and screaming on to Facebook (thereby rendering it instantly uncool, by the way), and one thing that strikes me is that it is not only a fairly powerful positive force, but also a negative one.

In particular, it enables people with shared views to communicate.  This is useful but also poisonous.

Much as been said of the "echo chamber" of modern political discourse, where people of similar views echo each other's sentiments, reinforcing them, and without letting in dissenting points of view.  What this does in the human brain is generate an idea of "certainty".  And certainty is generally a Bad Thing when it comes to discussing the major problems of the world.

The fact is, shit is complex.  World views that refuse to acknowledge that are doomed to fail...painfully, as history has shown time and again.

So modern technology in the form of Facebook allows this process to happen 24/7.  And the irony is, those people who most need to listen to other points of view, in order to partially correct their distorted view of reality, are the ones who go out of their way to shut out dissenting voices.  All you have to do is click off "Show in my Feed" and you never have to look at it again.

Facebook should remove this feature.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

If at first you don't succeed, try adding fines

So in France now they've had a "three strikes" type rule for a few years now.  Apparently it isn't working, so the music industry wants to change the law so that internet users will actually pay fines.

So let me get this straight.

You manage to subvert the government to the point that they introduce regulations for how all people in the country are allowed to use the internet--and it doesn't work.

So you want to change the law again so that you can actually fine internet users you don't like.

My question is--at what point will governments finally realize that these guys really have no fucking idea what they are doing?

Monday, January 28, 2013

Apparently we're going to invade Antigua, next

Torrentfreak reports that Antigua is moving ahead with its plans to officially dis-respect U.S. copyright laws and allow the setup of straightup pirate sites on its territory.

Kinda interesting, eh?

Turns out it is basically in retaliation for the U.S. using its leverage to destroy the Antiguan online gambling industry.  But still, I don't care.

The reason we're seeing a nasty multi national treaty being bulldozed through national governments everywhere is that because of the internet, if you want to create "intellectual property" you need to get every country everywhere to go along with it.  Which is hard and stupid, but they're going to try to do it anyway.

Nice to see Antigua shine a bright light on that little fact.


Sunday, January 27, 2013

Porn biz as a model

Almost every time I discuss the dramatic expansion of fair use to encompass all non-commercial use with someone who is a skeptic, I always get the same argument: "How are people supposed to make a living creating content for us if we just 'steal' it by downloading it?".

If you've been reading this blog for long for some reason,  you'll know that I take "offense" to about six different assumptions in that question.

1. It is a given that we all need to be concerned about how people can make a living creating art.
2. Copyright infringement is stealing.
3. Creators have some intrinsic right to total control over what is done with their creation.

Okay three things.  Now, I am concerned about numbers 1 and 3.  But I do not feel an obligation to be concerned.  This is my inner Ayn Rand speaking, and I think I'm right.

Nobody owes anybody else a living.

I personally feel that we should be concerned about that, and even that government should do something about it, sometimes, which makes me a liberal.  But I don't feel that we have to, which makes me a Tea Partier.

People just don't like change, and they resist seeing things in any way that they haven't always seen them, it seems.

I often tell people about my game, and how much I've put into it, and how badly I want people to please pirate it.  The idea being that I've got some skin in the game.  But generally it falls on deaf ears, appalled at my arrogance and apparent sense of entitlement.  They can't get past that.

So fine, let's explore that.  HOW ARE THE ARTISTS SUPPOSED TO MAKE A LIVING CREATING CONTENT FOR US IF WE'RE ALL JUST GOING TO STEAL IT?

Well, it's already being done.  Never mind the ad-laden nightmare that YouTube has become, where free streaming is apparently working.  Let's look at porn, right now, together.

High quality pornography is available, today, for free, in infinite quantity, on the internet.  And they aren't going under.

Let me assure you--hosting a streaming movie service is not a trivial technical or financial task.  I am a web hosting type of guy--a unix geek.  It's expensive, time consuming, and resource intensive.

And yet they're giving it all away!  For free!

With one glaring exception, you don't see pornographers running around suing people.  They just get busy...making money.  Giving away porn for free on the internet.

So it can be done.


I want to join the militia

"A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."

It's pretty clear that the purpose is to have a well regulated militia. So why don't we do that any more (it used to be common that every able bodied man was in the militia).

Maybe we should. I'm thinking light duty for fat old men like me---meet up a couple times a year and show you can hit the side of a barn, control your shit, and can follow simple instructions. If you can't do that, you probably should not own a firearm, anyway. But the addition of basic discipline might go a long way toward preventing many tragedies caused by careless and ignorant gun owners.

Besides, what red blooded Texan wouldn't want to do weekend "maneuvers" with the State of Texas militia a couple Saturdays a year? A few beers afterwards...
Note I'm talking about the militia, not a militia--big difference!

Friday, January 25, 2013

harassing people

So I've gotten on Facebook, finally.  Sigh.  Feel free to join me there:

http://www.facebook.com/lee.latham.507

The number one reason I did this is to promote my upcoming Kickstarter project.  That was the straw that broke the camel's back.

But since I'm on there, I decided to enjoy myself, naturally.  Trying to figure it out.

I am finding that people really don't want to engage on the issues of the day.  They are far more interested in fun stuff.

I understand.  I really do.  But it is a bit depressing to spend so much time blogging about the expansion of fair use in copyright and other important issues to the world and be met with...blank, disinterested stares.

I know, I know, most folks are just trying to get by, and really they want distractions from the problems of their lives and the world.  They want someone else to take care of it all.

Still...kinda annoying.





Thursday, January 24, 2013

Aaron Swartz and illegal data

I'd like to talk today a little more about the Aaron Swartz case.

This brilliant young man--who was a professional academic--was accused of the misuse of data.  For that he faced a 30 year prison term.

One of my main theses on this blog is the notion that it is insane to persecute people for crimes against data.

I'm not saying it is never ever a problem when people misuse data.  The famous example of child pornography is one.  That is a bad use of data, and should be prosecuted.

But the problem comes when we define data crime so broadly that anyone can be indicted, and an academic seeking to promote the free use of public information can be attacked in this way.

The prosecutor is not the only ass, here.  The law is also an ass.

Much of this is because the laws are horribly outdated.  But I'm not even at all sure I would want the current Congress to attempt to fix it, because they would likely only make the problem much worse.  They are both incompetent and corrupt.

The problem really is the system.  It has not worked for the people for a long, long time.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Uphill battles

I was reading this piece about Johnny Cash's efforts to spur prison reform.  Today, the United States imprisons more people per capita than any other country in the world--Land of the Free, indeed.  And it hasn't really changed much.

Sure, the worst abuses may have been mitigated, but we still view prison more as a punishment than a chance to reform, and we still turn minor criminals into career ones by allowing prison to be a college for criminals.

So what chance does copyright reform have?

It's an uphill battle, but I still believe the laws of physics will bear us out in the end.  You cannot stop filesharing.  You should not try, because it will only make things worse.  In the end, I believe even Hollywood will come to understand it, if they can stop taking cocaine long enough.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

And lies don't help either

Just to rub it in a bit further, lies have become an all too important part of our national (and world-wide) discourse.  For example, Microsoft announced they made a study that showed the city of Munich didn't save any money by switching to Linux...but they won't release it.

Personally, I blame the internet.  I mean, why not?  But it's true, I think, that the internet--while giving all people a theoretically equal voice--has also allowed lies to be spread more easily.

This way, a company or an organization can spout nonsense like "Munich would have saved more money if they had paid us more money" or "piracy costs the entertainment industry $1 trillion dollars a year", and then later backtrack--but the meme is still out there.  Most people just aren't very critical thinkers or readers, and the lies still spread over the water cooler.


Too many laws

One of the main problems with the current copyright regime is our legal system itself.  Wealthy individuals and corporations have an outsize advantage over normal people, who effectively have no recourse except to beg a lawyer to do work for the for free.  Sure hope it's a good one.

This little comic, even though it slants right a bit, I do think covers the problem we have pretty well:

http://thecriminallawyer.tumblr.com/post/29326904495/16-a-problems

Just thought I'd share that.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Legalized corruption in government

I understand why Lawrence Lessig decided to quit championing changes to copyright laws and such per se, and decided to become more focused on good government in general.

It's kind of an aside, but this Slashdot article really got me to thinking just from it's intro:

""Broadcasting Cable reports on comments from Former FCC chairman Michael Powell (now president of the U.S. cable industry's trade association) confirming what many have long suspected: data caps on internet service aren't just about network congestion, ..."

It's simply all too common for regulators to "retire" from government and take a job directly in the industry they were previously regulating.  We are supposed to believe that there was no quid pro quo, no understanding, and no motivation for these individuals to bias their decisions toward an industry while they are in office.

But they are all corrupt liars.  And it's legal.  That must change.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Aaron's Law

In a slight resumption of sanity, a Harvard law professor is proposing Aaron's Law, which would repeal parts of the Computer Fraud law.

Really, 30 years for downloading data is a bit steep, don't you think?  No wonder he killed himself.

Prosecutors have announced that they  offered him a plea bargain with only a few months in prison.  Big fucking deal.  That's what they do--offer you a plea so that they look successful but you become labeled as a felon for life.

Aaron Swartz's motivations were among the best.  And just like many file sharers, he was attacked by our government with extreme viciousness, all out of proportion to the crime.

I'm not interested in  fucking U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz's excuses.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

We are really good at making lists

Here you can read Michael Geist reveal how Canadian authorities actually colluded with the U.S.A. to get Canada included on a list of countries who are not playing nice with the U.S.'s idea of "intellectual property" rights.

We like making lists.

We make lists of terrorist states, narco states, bad people of all kinds.

Interestingly, Canada has us on their list of countries that torture.

Which should we be more concerned about?


Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Guns and copyright

I think it's informative to look to the current gun debate to understand the nature of discourse in our society.  And when I say "debate" of course, I mean "argument".  We don't really debate things in this country any more.

I ran across this image which I think summarizes an ultimate position of gun rights "advocates":


Pretty brutal.  Also, true, if you are an extreme gun rights "advocate".  I put quotes around "advocate" because I don't think people uttering dark threats are advocates.  But anyway.

If you believe that no changes are required in our gun laws, then you are, by definition, advocating the occasional slaughter of large numbers of children.  I'm not saying that from an incendiary standpoint--it's just a fact.  You are saying there is no change required, nothing is wrong with our current system

You may even be right.

I don't personally think so, but it's a logical position to take.  After all, if you really believe the government may start herding people into cattle cars--which has happened, after all--it is a rational position to take.

Personally, I don't think guns are going to really help you, there.  But what I'm saying is that people should take honest positions on important issues.

It is a similar (though less emotional) situation with copyright.  If you fundamentally believe that creators have some sort of natural right to control what is done with their work, then you are ipso facto advocating an internet censorship regime to control this.


Tuesday, January 15, 2013

This is not fair use

Just thought I'd offer up an example of not fair use.  Check out this article:

http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/tech/internet/googles-ultrafast-internet-draws-startups-to-kansas-city/articleshow/18012054.cms

And then this one:

http://news.yahoo.com/googles-ultrafast-internet-draws-startups-174542119.html

You'll notice that the second is credited to Maria Sudekum, Associated Press.  And the first one...is credited to no one.  Wanna take a bet on which one is the unauthorized copy?

It just goes to show that there is real value in provenance.  There is value in content beyond what someone will pay for or what you can get for ads on it.  Who is going to trust a site that plagiarizes people?  No one.




Monday, January 14, 2013

The hydra of the internet

Finally, a study shows that censorship simply doesn't work.  Not that this is a shock to anyone who understands the network.

Shouldn't it be a clue to you if you are trying to fight the internet?  And God help you if you ever should really try to do that.

It does have a chilling effect on free speech, however.  And that's not good.

It is interesting how the same tools are used to pirate stuff safely as are used to get around censorship regimes like the Great Firewall of China.

Think about it.

A bittorrent box

A bittorrent box has hit the market.  It is perfectly legal.

However, it is the first time that I know of of a box dedicated to bittorrent.  You plug it into your tv, choose something to download, wait, and watch.  Very convenient.

Obviously, some streaming video players have supported bittorrent before (like my WDTV) but the beauty of this is that it is a) legal (there are plenty of legal things to torrent) and b) people may not even realize they are "pirating".  So yes, you can indeed infringe copyright with it, but you don't have to.

One of my main themes is the whole ridiculous notion of "good bits" and "bad bits".   With so many trojans and botnets out there, I think it's nonsense to hold people responsible for all the bits that their computer accesses on the internet, anyway.

I do think there are situations that merit that level of scrutiny, but they should be few and far between.  So anything that popularizes torrenting and abstracts it from the user is a good thing, to my mind.

And so it begins...

Sorry, I'm falling behind a bit...I promise I'll catch up!

Norway is the latest country to consider site blocking measures to stop copyright infringement.  One of my main theses is that copyright is being used as an excuse to set up censorship regimes.  And that is not remotely a good enough reason to set up a censorship regime.

What is a good enough reason?  Well, at least make it kiddie porn or something.  It's so offensive to have it happen to protect the entertainment industry.

And if that wasn't offensive enough, it can't even work.  Things like Freenet are not liable to any sort of taking anything down or blocking, as they are distributed, encrypted regimes in themselves.  Freenet was created specifically to counter all censorship attempts, with the predictable result that it is indeed a haven for illegal activity--and freedom.

Confiscating domains won't work.  Ordering ISP's to block websites can't work.  All we're doing is making it easier for the governments of the future to silence their critics, with everything that goes along with that.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Zen and copyright

I watched the Dude on Jon Stewart's show the other night, and he's really into Zen Buddhism.  One like I liked was "we're all in this together".

It reminded me to try and remember this.  I hate to sound like a Facebook post but it's true.  But it's a little hard when the people who are working so hard to destroy good things do not get this.

The idea, to my mind, is to think of them as wayward children, as opposed to mouth breathing misanthropes.  It is very easy to think of them as worthless individuals, and indeed, many of them are.  Just the same, these are the people we were meant to deal with.

So deal with them.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Pirate Bay immortalized

It's interesting that one of the original Pirate Bay servers is in a museum in Sweden, the same country that has been persecuting the founders on our behalf for the last several years (and of course it's homeland).

Pretty boring to look at, though.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Aereo actually expanding

So back to the exact theme of expanding fair use!

I pondered the implications of Aereo before.  Today I was surprised to see that they are actually expanding their service--even while under legal threat.  Pretty impressive, but then again they have major backing in Barry Diller, who is no stranger to the entertainment industry.

What Aereo does is capture free, over the air HD television broadcasts and stream them over the internet.  They charge for this service.

In my earlier piece I contemplated at length the significance of broadcasting your entertainments over the air waves, where literally anyone can intercept it and view it.  That being the whole point.  I felt (and still feel) that there are certain natural rights to what people can do with these radio waves.

The dodge Aereo uses is that they assign each customer their own antenna.  So it's as if you are streaming over the internet from your very own TV.  The very definition of fair use, in my opinion.  The fact that they rent it to you is irrelevant, and just goes to show how preposterous the whole situation is.

The significant thing here, I think, is that because there is real money backing the enterprise, they are getting away with it.  Another example of how you only get your rights in this country if you have a lot of money.

I am glad to see Diller sticking it to the man, but then again he is one of the men.

Good luck, just the same.


Tuesday, January 8, 2013

it just is!

I had my usual argument with anti-piracy friends the other day.  It sucked.  I've written literally 200+ blog entries, each with a unique and special argument essentially in favor of piracy, but I hadn't slept right for a couple days and I just kept coming up with butkus.  Blank.  And everything I said was lame and easily refuted.

It happens.  I know better than to be too hard on myself.

But it was a good chance to get reacquainted with the most devastating argument against piracy of all:

"It's just wrong.  It just is."

Not much you can say to that.  When someone says something like this, it is a signal that rational thought has ceased--thinking is not happening.

I'm not even saying that's necessarily always a bad thing.  Shooting up a classroom full of children is wrong.  It just is.  This is an acceptable argument for something like that.  It's the difference between morality and ethics.

Morality is all about how something feels.  Somebody grows up with a system where artists are compensated a certain way, and if someone breaks the system, it seems wrong.  Murdering children, also wrong, for the same reason.  I could come up with an ethical (logical) argument for why shooting up classrooms is wrong, but I don't feel it's necessary.

And this is a problem we often face.  Some folks (most?) go around making moral judgments without too much thought, and, importantly, are not inclined to question it.

And so this is why changing public opinion takes time.  I don't judge my friend harshly for his opinion--I know he's a good guy and means well and is even reasonably intellectually honest.  But I can't argue with "uh-uh".

Monday, January 7, 2013

Over-response of the police

One thing that disturbs me lately is how the police seem to think that they need to use paramilitary tactics...all the time.  This Wired story about a guy who wrote software for a gambling site--and how is house got raided commando style is one example.  They did the same, of course, to Kim Dotcom in New freaking Zealand.

Why not just nab the guy when he goes out for cigarettes?  And then search the house with a warrant?  Why is that not the preferred alternative?

Oh yeah, I forgot, it's not as fun.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

What is the European plan?

I can't get over how Europe seems determined to utterly destroy itself.  They've got their own movement going on to fight back against mass foreclosures by banks who are taking lots of money from the government, but yet no clear leadership that is going to help them get out of a 25% unemployment hole.

How are Spain and Greece in particular going to improve their situations while cutting government spending so dramatically?  All this to save the fools who invested in Greek bonds while knowing how overextended they were.  Makes no sense at all to me.

Oh wait--it's entrenched power being self serving to a disgusting extent.  Business as usual everywhere.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Who would use copyright as an excuse for censorship?

Who would use copyright as an excuse for censorship?  Oh, you know...everybody.

As an aside on this article about a Brazilian teenager auctioning off her virginity, the article mentions that the YouTube video was removed dude to "due to multiple third-party notifications of copyright infringement".

So...someone already copyrighted her video to auction off her virginity?  Dirty pirate!

Obviously, someone was offended--and used copyright to censor her video.

And that is why letting people pull stuff off the internet due to copyright is bad.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Who are the unemployed

I had a lovely chat with Comcast over the last couple days via online chat--because there was no getting through on the phone.  The customer service person I talked to was very good at typing the stuff they are required to tell all customers--"Did I tell you about our Comcast Service Gaurantee?" etc.  But when they couldn't figure out what to do for me they told me to call the phone line because whatever whatever.

Naturally, I just started a new online chat session and the next random person was able to help me out, in between spewing marketing nonsense from Comcast.

And I thought to myself--these people are employed.  The person who is completely without any resourcefullness on the other end of the chat--the douchebag "manager" who decided that customer service reps should spew certain specific nonsense at least once a minute at me--all of them.  Employed.

Who the fuck are the unemployed?  I'm not talking about everyone, don't get me wrong.  I'm talking about people who haven't been able to get a job at Taco Bell for at least six months.  Are they able to tie their shoes in the morning?  How do they feed themselves?

Thursday, January 3, 2013

The Curt Schilling .38 Studios story hurts me

I was a big fan of Curt Schilling as a baseball player after the 2004 baseball season, when he pitched with a safety pin holding a tendon in place on the mound.  Great grit and determination.  Which is something I understand.

Unfortunately, he decided to get involved in something that looks easy, but is not--namely, making video games.  As you may know from reading this, I spent about $60k of my own money and some years of my life making my own video game, which, while a bit rough--EXISTS.  I just wish I could market it....

See, this is the key thing people don't understand about software development.  Finishing.  Either you can finish a software project, or you can't.  Most people can't.  Most software companies can't.  And video games are some of the most difficult, challenging software projects you can do.

It looks like fun, and it is fun to play, but it takes an unbelievable amount of work, skill and management capability to make it happen.  The fact of the matter is that most software companies suck.  Either they are run by salesmen (or baseball players) who simply have no understanding of what they have taken on, or they are run by programmers who are convinced they know everything--when they don't.  There is a very small subset of people in this world who can manage a programming project with competence.

And indeed--if you can't manage yourself, how can you possibly expect to manage a team?

They key is finishing.  At every step along the way you have to be asking yourself, "is what I'm doing right now going to help lead directly to finishing the project."  And when you have a team, that applies to every member.

Not to mention that you need to have a fairly deep understanding of the technology involved.  It ain't point and click, by a long ways.

Curt, what would you say if I showed up at the Red Sox training camp to try out, when I'm overweight, 41, and never played organized baseball?  Good Lord, dude.

But I'll be the first to concede that one of my great motivators was all the people telling me that I was quite mad taking on a full featured multiplayer first person shooter on my own, that it couldn't be done.

Well, go play it mother fucker.

Just good luck finding someone to play with, since nobody knows about it! lol oh the pain...what I could have done with that $50 million.  We'd have 50 games, Curt!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Movie theater subscriptions?

This Slashdot post was mildly interesting--somebody wants to try to make a subscription based movie theater.

Problem is--according to the comments--that Hollywood has a very rigid business model that basically doesn't allow for this.  So the people who are trying to do it can't get very creative with their business plans.

This is the problem with all industries, I believe, where the founders of the industry are long dead.  The business models are all "worked out" and the people running the show are all inheritors, as opposed to innovators.

And those kind of people lash out when their business model is threatened, which I suppose is natural.  The important thing for the rest of us is to restrain them when they are hurting the rest of us by doing so.  Which is usually.

Monday, December 31, 2012

Assault weapons

I like guns.  I have more than one.

I dread the thought of ever having to use one.  That being said, I hope that if I need one I have one.

Needless to day, I am not an extremist.  I am in favor of doing something, rather than nothing, to reduce gun violence.

"Assualt weapons" are almost kinda a fictitious idea.  The actual capabilities of this:


are really quite similar to this:


However the first is an "assault rifle" and the second is a "hunting rifle".

That being said--is there really no difference?

As Steve Jobs taught us, design matters.  The hunting rifle can certainly be used to kill people.  But the first one is designed specifically to kill people.

I think when guns like that get into the hands of lunatics and fools it kinda sends a message that "you are not misusing this weapon if you kill a bunch of people with it, because that's what it's for."  Sure, you can take a hunting rifle and go do that, but all along you've got an awareness that you're "doing it wrong".

I'm not actually suggesting banning all these guns, but at least let's be honest about their purpose.  One of the chief themes of this blog is, in fact, honesty.  So I think we should be.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

A gillion more reasons file sharing is good

To complete my Torrentfreak link-fest today, here is a very fine article about the benefits to society of file sharing.

We've talked about this here quite a bit, of course, but there were even some things I hadn't thought of.  For example, people in Saudi Arabia who don't have access to cinemas, can still get access to the global culture.  Surely this is a good thing.

They also talk about old ladies on fixed incomes who can't afford to purchase entertainment, and as a result are a little less lonely.  I think Tom Cruise can afford that, too.

Good stuff.

What are people torrenting for?

So I guess I've been dropping the ball a bit lately here over the holidays--something I swore I would never do...so that's not good.

Anyway, catching up--Torrentfreak has a fun article about what people searched for in torrents in 2012.   Interesting read.

I promise to rant with more style over the next week.

Friday, December 28, 2012

UK now has fair use!

Apparently, the UK will for the first time introduce a fair use for copyright law.

You'll note that the content industry is not happy because they aren't being given free money in the bargain.

That's all you really need to know.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Sigh, too many pussies

It looks like many sites are caving in to legal threats and not even talking about piracy.

Obviously, they don't have the courage of their convictions.

They had better not try that on me.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Amusing pirates

Happy Boxing Day!

I just did my Xmas day post, so here is just an amusing link to info on hypocritical pirates from the fabulous Torrentfreak.

Can you believe there is any hypocracy in the anti-piracy movement?  Insane, I know....


Bad bosses

I've been compiling a list of traits of the bad bosses I've had over the past few years.

I was lucky to work at a tiny company where everyone was competent and at least desired to do good work.  We didn't agree on everything, to say the least, but I grew naive thinking that was normal, there.

Since then I've had to do some painful growing up.  So here goes:

1. They never say "please".  I believe this is because deep down they are insecure about their position---they know they are not really leadership material, so they have to put on airs of "being in charge".  Fucking idiots.

2. They never listen to their subordinates, but only seek to please their peers and superiors.  I'm not saying you need to do everything your subordinates say--not hardly.  But a good leader does listen carefully to their subordinates, because that is the only way to understand what is going on.

3. They always have lots of meetings to go to.  Because that is a very easy way to look like you are doing something useful.  They think.

4. They never admit they don't know something about how to do their job.  Back to the insecurity thing, and also the not listening to subordinates thing.  What it really does is make them look like goddamn fools.

5. They never attempt to talk to you as if you are a human being.  Because they are not really leaders, they think they have to act high and mighty.

And this is what's wrong with the world today.  Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Money makes the world go 'round

Everyone knows how MasterCard, Visa, etc. stopped accepting payments for Wikileaks.  http://torrentfreak.com/paypal-bans-bittorrent-friendly-hosting-provider-prq-121224/Paypal has now done so for a Pirate Bay friendly hosting company.

Anyone else find this disturbing?  Who needs the rule of law when you can cut off someone's money supply?

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Oh God

Look--when you find yourself agreeing to cooperate with the Russians, you really need to consider rethinking your point of view.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Confidence and Faith

The difference between confidence and faith:

Meteorologists take many, many measurements and do a lot of mathematics to determine the chances of weather events happening. They then assign a number--a percentage chance--of those events happening based on the data they have about the past, and their own computations. The closer to "right now" they project, the better their projections, and hence the greater likelihood that their guesses are correct.

When Nate Silver of fivethirtyeight.com collated the results of hundreds and hundreds of national polls, his computation of the odds of one candidate or another winning elections approached 100% odds on the eve of the elections. Mind you, he did this for dozens and dozens of elections, not just the Presidency--and his "guesses" have been borne out by the results.

Mind you, it was never really 100%. I recall that he did actually put 100% on the Presidential election predictions on the night before the election, but we all know that was a joke. It was really just 99.999% or something like that. But Nate Silver understands that while there was still a 0.0001 percent chance he was wrong--if you go through life planning on 0.0001% chance events happening for you, you are going to be wrong a lot.

A lot of folks these days seem to be living in a world where they believe those 0.0001% chance things will happen, if they just *believe* it hard enough, or something, I don't know. Again, it can happen, but probably not. Like, seriously.

There is no data that I am aware of that would lead me to believe that the long string of crazy disgruntled assholes committing massacres in this country is going to end any time soon. If we change nothing, I think we can say with confidence that there is a 100% chance we will see more. This is not an article of faith--I only trust faith for one thing--my own belief that this whole big crazy world was not put here either randomly or with ill intent. I don't have any evidence for that, just my refusal to believe otherwise. Hence, that is faith, not confidence. My confidence in that statement is naturally challenged--but not broken--by horrible events like these.

I'm not advocating any particular course of action at this time. But I just want to suggest to my fellow gun nuts that it is not *necessarily* the case that tolerating the occasional massacre must be the horrible but necessary cost of our liberty. If there is something that can be done without infringing on sane, decent people's rights to protect themselves, their homes, and even our country, then I think we should do so.

Ultimately, it is necessary that we trust each other just enough to do that.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Europe rejects ACTA

ACTA is an international treaty in progress--signed by our President, but not yet ratified by Congress--designed as an end run around all national laws related to copyright protection.  It has been negotiated in secret, and is basically designed to force the U.S.A.'s current draconian-stupid system on the rest of the world.

Today the European Parliament rejected it (more or less).  This is a good thing, because the internet is global.

Seriously--without European cooperation, this whole construct is unsustainable.  Indeed, Hollywood needs to get every single country in the world on board with their agenda, or it will fail.  And this is why it is ultimately doomed to fail--which does not mean they aren't causing a lot of damage to people in the meantime.




Thursday, December 20, 2012

China tightens the Great Firewall, lessons for Hollywood

It's interesting that China is apparently using machine learning algorithms to detect and destroy VPN connections.  Soon they'll be doing this in America to detect pirates.

I wonder how long it will take the general populace to understand that China's attempts at internet censorship are exactly like what Hollywood is trying to do with major ISP's in the U.S.  That is, one group of powerful people doesn't like what you, the normal citizen is doing with your internet connection.

I'm sure the Chinese government can come up with some strong "moral" reasons why their citizens shouldn't say certain things on the internet, or view certain sites.

You may recall that I've advised people to use VPN's and other tools to avoid being detected pirating your ass off on the internet.  It should be understood that this will only be useful temporarily (I'd say ten-ish years) if the assault on our civil rights that Hollywood seems determined to engage in is allowed to continue.


Wednesday, December 19, 2012

UK Pirate Party rolls over

This depressing news just in--the UK Pirate Party has rolled over without a fight and taken down their proxy to the Pirate Bay.

Blah.

I would have sent them money--if they'd actually gotten sued.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Australian ISP iiNet tells Hollywood to fuck off

It was pleasant to read today about a major ISP in Australia telling the media industry to fuck off and refuse to spy on their users for them.

Admittedly, they didn't swear it off forever--they merely insisted that the media cartel offer their products at a reasonable price before they would help it police their customers.

Weird that companies like Comcast in the U.S.A. don't get that--of course, they are *also* the owners of NBC now, so they have a conflict of interest.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Peace is essential for our lifestyle

A lot of people harbor fantasies of violent revolution.

This is madness.

It has always been madness, but I can't deny it has sometimes been essential.

But you need to understand that our modern lifestyle--where almost no one grows their own food, for example--is completely dependent on a state of peace.

If you were to somehow be successful in starting your violent rebellion, be prepared to be hungry.

Very hungry.

I strongly advice you to organize politically and make your opinions felt at the ballot box.

And if you can't convince enough people to vote the way you want...perhaps you should examine your own selves.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Doing IT right is hard

Being very good at computer security is extremely difficult.  It is entirely hopeless for normal people to do it right--let alone most large organizations or governments.

Doing computer security and computer software well is, in fact, quite rare.  Most computer folks are not very good at it.  A small percentage are basically competent.  That leaves only the smallest number of people in the world who are really good at it.

You are most likely fucked at it, and should not try anything clever because you will likely fail.

That's it.  I've got nothing to offer!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Anger

I think the root cause of any mass shooting is unrestrained anger.  The anger builds up so much to the point that the person feels like it's worth his life just to let it have free reign, and above all, have the sensation of power and control.

And this is the problem--we all have anger.  Every one of us.  And in each of us it feels like this powerful, unique fount of power--but it's not.  Your fount of power is just one of ten billion, and the only way you can just put it round the way you want is if you're a horrible dictator like a Saddam or a Kim or Stalin, etc.  Most of us don't get that option, and it's really not a very good idea anyway.

Ultimately, that level of anger is always about the idea that I should not have to deal with this shit.  Which of course is nonsense.

Even more than gun control, perhaps anger counseling should become easier to come by.

Friday, December 14, 2012

When it's not so great to be a gun nut

Actually I'm not so much a gun nut...any more.  I still believe in the ability of people to defend themselves, and I even think it's very important.

Obviously, when some asshole goes and shoots up a school full of children it's not too decent to bring this up.

Personally, when I finally started buying guns (after an attempted holdup), I was ambivalent.  I had always thought guns were cool, but I didn't want them in my house because I didn't want anyone to get hurt.  After that incident I spoke of, it kinda tipped me over to the other side because I decided that as adults, we have a responsibility to protect ourselves.  It's one of the most basic responsibilities, along with feeding, clothing, and shelter.  And while I think it's fine that people want to help each other with these things, I think it is simply madness to remove that basic responsibility from the individual.

That being said, some people are not responsible, and cannot be trusted.  We often put those people into a special building where they cannot escape, where they are confined with others who have been found, through due process, also to be deficient in the qualities necessary for good functioning in society.

It would be great to find out ahead of time.  I'm not at all sure it's possible.

I know I spent a lot of time contemplating the possible negative consequences of my owning firearms--but I know for a fact that many who buy guns do not.
I would be on board with requiring some significant training in firearms before an adult can legally purchase them.  We do that for driving cars (slighly) for the exact same reason we should do it for guns.  If someone wants to seek out technology assisted power, we should make some attempt to ensure that they know what the fuck they are doing.  And if they are obviously flaky, the officer giving the test can stamp a bit X on their application.

I realize people can still buy guns illegally.  But that doesn't mean we should make it easy for assholes and crazy people to do so.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Copyright enforcement is protectionism

It occurred to me today that copyright enforcement is, quite literally, protectionism.

I really kinda feel like it would be a natural fit for Republicans to fight for copyright freedom.  I know it sounds insane looking at the current lot, but wouldn't it be swell if they did?  I think it would make a lot of people look at them twice.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

DRM fails over and over the exact same way

I was amused today to read about Microsoft's new app store being ridiculously easy to hack.  Basically, if you get a trial version of an app, you can just edit a local config file and change "trial" to "full".

This is amusing on many levels.  First of all, you simply cannot secure the client side of a connection.  That is, if a person is in physical posession of the hardware (like your computer), it is ultimately impossible to keep them from doing what they want with it.  This is a simple, basic, long understood phenomenon of network programming.

So MS has failed to understand that, and also made it extremely easy to hack.

I have to think that the reason for this is inexperienced coders.

I'm 41.  I'm pretty old for a computer geek.  Older geeks tended to be electronics enthusiasts and the like when they were kids.  I was fortunate to get access to a TRS-80 computer when I was 10 years old, and there was no looking back.

I always assumed that the kids coming up behind me would all be great computer whizzes!  You laugh, and with justification.  Turns out that all kids are not interested in computers, and thus they are not all whizzes.

The second irony is that the kids that are interested, make the same mistakes that we all made.  Like trusting the client.  Like assuming their users are completely braindead and can't read a config file.  There is simply no way that a coder with any experience whatsoever would have ever made this mistake.

But companies don't like to pay experienced coders, because they have shit for brains.  They think computer programming is essentially magic.  They think that two programs--one written by a novice, one by a master, that look and feel the same on the screen are equivalent.

They are not.  Not even close.

From security to maintainability, the experienced programmer generates a vastly superior product.  You disocover this a few months/years down the line.

It's like evaluating a plumber when you are not a plumber.  It looks fine when he leaves.  But with a bad one, you have geysers of water in your kitchen a few weeks later.  That's how you can tell the difference.

So we are seeing this now.  Moral of the story: pay more for experience, it's worth it.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Free online news on the way out? No.

This idiot thinks that free online news is on the way out.  No, it's not.

Have you met the internet?

What's weird is that most newspapers tried the same thing back in the 90's, with ignominious results.  But now they're going to try to charge again, because, this time, it's different.  After all, there is vastly more competition.

And people are used to getting it for free.

And there are tens of thousands of people who will jump in to do it for free.

Good luck with that.

These are the same people who just cannot understand that the internet has made some things so cheap they are nearly free, and there is nothing that can be done about it.

Sell more advertising.  Whatever.  You're going to have to figure out how to make a living.  But this way won't work.

Monday, December 10, 2012

The fourth amendment doesn't cover domain names

It appears that Hollywood is more than happy to extort your domain from you as part of an agreement not to be sued.  This follows a year of the federal government seizing domains without due process as well.

It's the internet, and therefore not real stuff and okay to steal from you, except where it is inconvenient for the powerful in which case everything on the internet is just like real property.


Sunday, December 9, 2012

The lead fight may be in Britain

It should be noted that in the UK they are actually trying to block websites--specifically the Pirate Bay--that promote copyright infringement.  This in the birthplace of parliamentary democracy.

It's interesting.  The only site they are blocking is the Pirate Bay.  Everyone knows they are faaaar from the only torrent site out there.  So it seems clear that this is their test case, to see what they can get away with--and what will work.

The British Pirate Party is hosting a proxy to the Pirate Bay, which is annoying Hollywood.  They have asked them politely several times to stop.  The Pirate Party, of course, told them impolitely to fuck off.  Currently in the UK, the court orders ordering the blocking of the Pirate Bay apply only to Internet Service Providers.  Which is dumb, of course, because anyone can be an ISP, which the Pirate Party is busy demonstrating.

So it'll be interesting to see how this plays out over there.

Friday, December 7, 2012

What's better than being a U.S. Sentator?

Apparently, being the chief of a large lobbyist group is more compelling--and powerful--than being a United States Senator.

Mind you, the reason they want him is because he was one.  Just the same, however, it signifies that real power in this country has moved beyond the legitimately elected houses of the people.

Which is why corporations are running rampant with special person status, and why copyright maximalism is being shoved down our throats.


Thursday, December 6, 2012

Republican fired for suggesting Copyright is too strong

You may recall only a few days ago a Republican think tank suggesting that perhaps Copyright is too strong.  Well, the guy who did that has now been fired.

So this tells us two things.  First, the entertainment industry really has Washington in its pocket.  And second, that neither major party disagrees with the copyright maximalist notion that the internet, and all public discourse, needs to be policed constantly for copyright violations.

In other words, neither party really gives a damn about free speech.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Apple doesn't want to control you

It is fairly appalling to me how many techs like Apple products.  Even though they tend to be highly locked down, and often less functional than the alternatives.

I tend to feel like they're not real geeks.

I understand that sometimes you want something that "just works".  I really do.  Used to be, I really enjoyed debugging issues with my technology.  These days I really do not.  Just the same, I would feel like a bitch using Apple products.

Do you not feel like a bitch?

(You look like one!)

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Conform to your EULAS

When you click through a EULA (End User License Agreement), do you actually read it?  Of course not.

How can it possibly mean anything when a non-lawyer agrees to legalese they are not qualified to even read?  How can any law be legitimate that is unintelligible by the governed?

I understand why legalese is the way it is.  But what difference does that make?


Monday, December 3, 2012

I win? Again?

The other day Sony Music Entertainment (Japan) reinstated it's bullshit copyright claim on the music I used in a video promoting my game.

You know...I really don't even like the music that much.  Sigh.

So I try to go to YouTube's copyright page, and I'm greeted with this fucking thing:


You can imagine my joy that I have to watch a kids video explaining copyright and answer questions about it to continue.  Nevertheless, I did--and to my annoyance:

1. The video didn't even answer some of the questions posed.

2. Once I completed it, it didn't even bring me to my copyright page.

They just wanted me to do that.

I love being manipulated.

But then I checked and I had an email that Sony had retracted its claim.  Again.

Sure is a great way to temporarily shut somebody up, by the way.  If you should ever want to do that.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Palestine and Israel

I just wanted to draw attention to this Guardian article about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

It's a simple rule.  If you're reading an article about any current event issue, and it sounds like one side is the "good guys" and one side is the "bad guys", you are reading ill informed claptrap.

Books beginning with H

Another perspective post today.  A while back I posted a link to a torrent where you could download 4,687 ebooks in three minutes.  I just think it's important to repeat that over and over again until the idea of artificially restricting the flow of books to people seems like the stupid idea it is.

Today, a slightly weirder one.  A link to a torrent for 136 ebooks, all by authors whose last names start with H:

http://thepiratebay.se/torrent/6694906/Kindle_Books_-_H

Strangely, I haven't yet been able to find the A-G and I-Z.  Anyway, here you go:

Hagar, Sammy - Red.mobi
Haldeman, Joe - The Forever War.mobi
Hale, Benjamin - The Evolution of Bruno Littlemore.mobi
Haley, Alex - Roots.mobi
Halpern, Justin - Shit My Dad Says.mobi
Hamilton, Laurell K. - Anita Blake 01 - Guilty Pleasures.mobi
Hamilton, Laurell K. - Anita Blake 02 - The Laughing Corpse.mobi
Hamilton, Laurell K. - Anita Blake 03 - Circus of the Damned.mobi
Hamilton, Laurell K. - Anita Blake 04 - The Lunatic Cafe.mobi
Hamilton, Laurell K. - Anita Blake 05 - Bloody Bones.mobi
Hamilton, Laurell K. - Anita Blake 06 - The Killing Dance.mobi
Hamilton, Laurell K. - Anita Blake 07 - Burnt Offerings.mobi
Hamilton, Laurell K. - Anita Blake 08 - Blue Moon.mobi
Hamilton, Laurell K. - Anita Blake 09 - Obsidian Butterfly.mobi
Hamilton, Laurell K. - Anita Blake 10 - Narcissus in Chains.mobi
Hamilton, Laurell K. - Anita Blake 11 - Cerulean Sins.mobi
Hamilton, Laurell K. - Anita Blake 12 - Incubus Dreams.mobi
Hamilton, Laurell K. - Anita Blake 13 - Micah.mobi
Hamilton, Laurell K. - Anita Blake 14 - Danse Macabre.mobi
Hamilton, Laurell K. - Anita Blake 15 - The Harlequin.mobi
Hamilton, Laurell K. - Anita Blake 16 - Blood Noir.mobi
Hamilton, Laurell K. - Anita Blake 17 - Skin Trade.mobi
Hamilton, Laurell K. - Anita Blake 18 - Flirt.mobi
Hamilton, Laurell K. - Anita Blake 19 - Bullet.mobi
Hamilton, Laurell K. - Meredith Gentry 01 - A Kiss of Shadows.mobi
Hamilton, Laurell K. - Meredith Gentry 02 - A Caress of Twilight.mobi
Hamilton, Laurell K. - Meredith Gentry 03 - Seduced by Moonlight.mobi
Hamilton, Laurell K. - Meredith Gentry 04 - A Stroke of Midnight.mobi
Hamilton, Laurell K. - Meredith Gentry 05 - Mistral's Kiss.mobi
Hamilton, Laurell K. - Meredith Gentry 06 - A Lick of Frost.mobi
Hamilton, Laurell K. - Meredith Gentry 07 - Swallowing Darkness.mobi
Hamilton, Laurell K. - Meredith Gentry 08 - Divine Misdemeanors.mobi
Hammett, Dashiell - The Maltese Falcon.mobi
Handler, Chelsea - Are You There, Vodka. It's Me, Chelsea.mobi
Handler, Chelsea - Chelsea Chelsea Bang Bang.mobi
Handler, Chelsea - Lies That Chelsea Handler Told Me.mobi
Handler, Chelsea - My Horizontal Life, A Collection of One Night Stands.mobi
Harding, Paul - Tinkers.mobi
Hardy, Thomas - Tess of the D'Urbervilles.mobi
Harkness, Deborah - A Discovery of Witches.mobi
Harris, Charlaine - Sookie Stackhouse 01 - Dead Until Dark.mobi
Harris, Charlaine - Sookie Stackhouse 02 - Living Dead in Dallas.mobi
Harris, Charlaine - Sookie Stackhouse 03 - Club Dead.mobi
Harris, Charlaine - Sookie Stackhouse 04 - Dead to the World.mobi
Harris, Charlaine - Sookie Stackhouse 05 - Dead as a Doornail.mobi
Harris, Charlaine - Sookie Stackhouse 06 - Definitely Dead.mobi
Harris, Charlaine - Sookie Stackhouse 07 - All Together Dead.mobi
Harris, Charlaine - Sookie Stackhouse 08 - From Dead to Worse.mobi
Harris, Charlaine - Sookie Stackhouse 09 - Dead and Gone.mobi
Harris, Charlaine - Sookie Stackhouse 10 - Dead in the Family.mobi
Harris, Charlaine - Sookie Stackhouse 11 - Dead Reckoning.mobi
Harris, Robert - Fatherland.mobi
Harris, Sam - The Moral Landscape.mobi
Harris, Thomas - Hannibal 01 - Red Dragon.mobi
Harris, Thomas - Hannibal 02 - The Silence of the Lambs.mobi
Harris, Thomas - Hannibal 03 - Hannibal.mobi
Harrison, Kim - Rachel Morgan 01 - Dead Witch Walking.mobi
Harrison, Kim - Rachel Morgan 02 - The Good, The Bad, and the Undead.mobi
Harrison, Kim - Rachel Morgan 03 - Every Which Way But Dead.mobi
Harrison, Kim - Rachel Morgan 04 - A Fistful of Charms.mobi
Harrison, Kim - Rachel Morgan 05 - For a Few Demons More.mobi
Harrison, Kim - Rachel Morgan 06 - The Outlaw Demon Wails.mobi
Harrison, Kim - Rachel Morgan 07 - White Witch Black Curse.mobi
Harrison, Kim - Rachel Morgan 08 - Black Magic Sanction.mobi
Harrison, Kim - Rachel Morgan 09 - Pale Demon.mobi
Hawking, Stephen - A Brief History of Time.mobi
Hawking, Stephen - The Grand Design.mobi
Hawthorne, Nathaniel - The Scarlet Letter.mobi
Hazlitt, Henry - Economics in One Lesson.mobi
Heather, Peter - The Fall of the Roman Empire.mobi
Hedges, Chris - Death of the Liberal Class.mobi
Hedges, Chris - The World As It Is.mobi
Heilemann, John - Game Change.mobi
Heinlein, Robert. A - The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress.mobi
Heller, Joseph - Catch-22.mobi
Hemingway, Ernest - A Farewell to Arms.mobi
Hemingway, Ernest - A Moveable Feast.mobi
Hemingway, Ernest - For Whom the Bell Tolls.mobi
Hemingway, Ernest - The Old Man and the Sea.mobi
Hemingway, Ernest - The Sun Also Rises.mobi
Herbert, Frank - Dune 01 - Dune.mobi
Herbert, Frank - Dune 02 - Dune Messiah.mobi
Herbert, Frank - Dune 03 - Children of Dune.mobi
Herbert, Frank - Dune 04 - God Emperor of Dune.mobi
Herbert, Frank - Dune 05 - Heretics of Dune.mobi
Herbert, Frank - Dune 06 - Chapterhouse Dune.mobi
Hesse, Hermann - Siddhartha.mobi
Hiaasen, Carl - Basket Case.mobi
Hiaasen, Carl - Double Whammy.mobi
Hiaasen, Carl - Sick Puppy.mobi
Hiaasen, Carl - Skinny Dip.mobi
Hiaasen, Carl - Stormy Weather.mobi
Hiaasen, Carl - Tourist Season.mobi
Hill, Joe - Heart-Shaped Box.mobi
Hill, Joe - Horns.mobi
Hillenbrand, Laura - Unbroken, A World War II Story of Survival.mobi
Hinton, S.E. - The Outsiders.mobi
Hitchens, Christopher - God is Not Great.mobi
Hitchens, Christopher - Hitch-22.mobi
Hitchens, Christopher - The Portable Atheist.mobi
Hobb, Robin - Rain Wilds Chronicles 01 - Dragon Keeper.mobi
Hobb, Robin - Rain Wilds Chronicles 02 - Dragon Haven.mobi
Hobb, Robin - The Farseer Trilogy 01 - Assassin's Apprentice.mobi
Hobb, Robin - The Farseer Trilogy 02 - Royal Assassin.mobi
Hobb, Robin - The Farseer Trilogy 03 - Assassin's Quest.mobi
Hobb, Robin - The Liveship Traders 01 - Ship of Magic.mobi
Hobb, Robin - The Liveship Traders 02 - Mad Ship.mobi
Hobb, Robin - The Liveship Traders 03 - Ship of Destiny.mobi
Hobb, Robin - The Tawny Man 01 - Fool's Errand.mobi
Hobb, Robin - The Tawny Man 02 - Golden Fool.mobi
Hobb, Robin - The Tawny Man 03 - Fool's Fate.mobi
Homer - The Iliad.mobi
Homer - The Odyssey.mobi
Hornby, Nick - About a Boy.mobi
Hornby, Nick - Fever Pitch.mobi
Hornby, Nick - High Fidelity.mobi
Hosseini, Khaled - A Thousand Splendid Suns.mobi
Hosseini, Khaled - The Kite Runner.mobi
Huffington, Arianna - Third World America.mobi
Hugo, Victor - Les Miserables.mobi
Hugo, Victor - The Hunchback of Notre Dame.mobi
Hunter, Stephen - Bob Lee Swagger 01 - Point Of Impact.mobi
Hurston, Zora Neale - Their Eyes Were Watching God.mobi
Huston, Charlie - Henry Thompson 01 - Caught Stealing.mobi
Huston, Charlie - Henry Thompson 02 - Six Bad Things.mobi
Huston, Charlie - Henry Thompson 03 - A Dangerous Man.mobi
Huston, Charlie - Joe Pitt 01 - Already Dead.mobi
Huston, Charlie - Joe Pitt 02 - No Dominion.mobi
Huston, Charlie - Joe Pitt 03 - Half the Blood of Brooklyn.mobi
Huston, Charlie - Joe Pitt 04 - Every Last Drop.mobi
Huston, Charlie - Joe Pitt 05 - My Dead Body.mobi
Huston, Charlie - Sleepless.mobi
Huston, Charlie - The Mystic Arts of Erasing All Signs of Death.mobi
Huston, Charlie - The Shotgun Rule.mobi
Huxley, Aldous - Brave New World.mobi
Hirsi Ali, Ayaan - Infidel.prc


Friday, November 30, 2012

Libertarian insanity

I friend of mine is an ardent Libertarian.  I am highly sympathetic, but he doesn't believe me.

Mainly, I believe in Liberty whenever possible because no human system can be trusted to regulate human activity completely perfectly.  If you don't really know how to regulate human activity, experience shows me that it's better to leave people alone to do their own thing.  This does free them to do new and interesting and terrible things.

But my friend is basically an anarchist, as near as I can tell, and believes we can depend on selfish motives to supply all human needs.  I, too, am a fan of Ayn Rand, which I've talked about in this space more than once but I'm too lazy to link right now, but I'm not a fanatic about it.

Rand is very convincing.  But I think once you get a little distance from the work it's pretty easy to see the problems with it.  I believe the core of her beliefs are excellence, but trying to implement it in a perfect idealistic fashion is quite, quite mad.

It's strange.  Libertarians don't trust anyone to have any governmental function, but they trust everyone enough to regulate themselves to the point of making a "perfect" society.

I trust people on the whole, but come on, have you never met a real asshole?

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Government controlled non-competition

The PBS NewsHour last night had an excellent piece about how industries like telecom and internet service have become essentially government granted monopolies or duopolies, which of course is the very antithesis of what conservatives claim to be in favor of in this country.

You will recognize the nonsense (bullshit) charges from your phone bill they talk about, and the exhorbitant rates you pay for cable and internet service.  The United States--the inventor of the internet--has less broadband penetration and availability than Lithuania, all thanks to government granted monopolies.

I really wonder if things like Fox News--a corporate owned entity--really have the goal of creating gridlock in Washington so that abuses like these do not get addressed.  But that would be paranoid, I know.

It's also highly relevant to the entire culture of corporate sociopathic behavior that influences the entertainment industry to run around suing people and convincing these major ISP's--major because they are the only ones available due to government granted monopolies--to spy on their users for them.  If we had more competition in the ISP marketplace, they would have to convince a LOT more ISP's to do this, and they would all feel that it would put them at a competitive disadvantage to do so.

I wish we could get a liberal President.


Wednesday, November 28, 2012

INSANITY REIGNS IN CANADA

Michael Geist gives Canadians some advice about file sharing--if you get caught, you could be faced with fines up to $5000, but more likely only about $100.

HOW ARE YOU GOING TO HAVE CREATIVITY IN YOUR COUNTRY UNLESS YOU PUNISH PIRATE THIEVESES!????

I think America should secede from the United States and join Canada.

It should be noted, of course, that this is only for non-commercial claims.  I can't deny that I would find this to be acceptable, here.

Oh Canada!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

More mediocre

Yesterday I mused about living in a world where most things are done, frankly, in a fairly mediocre fashion.  I, of course, am above such things.

Nonsense, of course--I screw up all the time, and certain things I do in quite a mediocre fashion as well.  For example, I am a mediocre (at best) plumber.

It's really at work (what I consider my first profession, software development) where I like to strive for higher standards, but I've had to accept that that just is not possible, either, all the time.

But it really is the thing that is responsible for things like Hollywood suing everyone's grandmothers over file sharing, or their seemingly impossible success at convincing Comcast to start harassing their customers for them.

The people in Hollywood who can't think of anything else to do to adapt to the reality of the internet are mediocre, and Comcast and other ISP's who are going along with them are run by mediocre people with no vision.  And also with a big self-defeating streak that causes them to bow to whatever kind of pressure Hollywood is applying.

To be fair, even if you wanted to do it, how would you implement a system of "you have to be really good to do what you do"?  Certifications?  Don't make me laugh.  And indeed, how is anyone who is not skilled in an art to judge whether someone who is is indeed good at it?  How am I to rate a plumber?  Or a carpenter or a dentist?

Not to mention that everybody needs a job.  I'm okay with that.  And I suppose I should be grateful to have less competition out there in the world.

I am annoyed by reality.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Living in a mediocre world

I think I was damaged by working at a tiny little software company (less than ten people) for the first decade of my career.  It had its good points and bad points, and one of the bad ones was that everyone was competent and meant well.

You would think that would be a good thing, and certainly we made a decent living for a lot of years (and they still do today).  The problem was I got used to that.  I thought that was normal.

Fast forward several years and I quit that job to make my game, and then when I ran out of money I have worked in other jobs, where things do not work like that.  It was a culture shock, to say the least.

So now I'm trying to get used to the idea of working and somehow thriving in an environment where everyone is not competent, and many do not even mean well.

But that's reality.


Sunday, November 25, 2012

The Impulse to Control

An Iranian blogger died "of shock" while being held in an infamous torture prison.  Meanwhile, a school in Texas wants to force all students to wear RFID tags while they're on campus.  Both of these have the identical motivation that the record and movie companies have when they sue and sue and sue the bejessus out of all and sundry--the impulse to control.

It's an ancient impulse, and it has good as well as bad uses.  Always, however, we have to be extremely wary of it.

The impulse to "keep students safe" while on campus is a good one.  And if it were to stop there, the RFID tag idea would probably be a good one.  However, you and I know perfectly well it will not stop there, as schools have been reaching more and more into students' personal lives in recent years.  The problem is that it is the same path that leads to bloggers mysteriously dying while being held by police.

Obviously, the recording industry doesn't even have a worthwhile fig leaf to hide behind like student protection--it's just greed, which is the most common and least worthwhile of all the sources of the impulse to control.