Friday, August 31, 2012

How paranoid should you be?

I've been called paranoid.  I used to agree.  But really lately I don't think so.

For example, it is true that when you participate in a bittorrent swarm, your IP address is exposed and there are people who want to tattle on you.   Still, I don't give a shit.

I remember when I was in elementary school, I took the school bus every morning.  We would often misbehave.  When it got really bad, we would say to each other--"what are they going to do, punish all of us?"

And of course sometimes they did.  :-)

Still, when I'm part of a 5000 member bittorrent swarm, I'm feeling like I'm on that school bus.  And that bus is only getting bigger as today's youth grow up and take internet freedom for granted.

But if you're paranoid, just use a VPN or other tactic that I've talked about before to defend yourself, and you'll swat their clumsy thrusts aside with aplomb.  You shouldn't have to, but you shouldn't have to work for a living, either, so there.

Hmm, this gives me an idea.  More tomorrow.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Tomball Dodge Ram Chrysler Jeep advertises on the Pirate Bay

So I was web surfing on my awesome Le Pan android tablet the other day, looking for an episode of the PBS NewsHour on the Pirate Bay  (cuz that's the sort of thing I do) when I saw this pleasant interlude from the usual Russian/Chinese bride advertisements served there:

For those who don't know, Tomball is a city near Houston, where I live, where TPB's ad service presumeably located me by my IP address.

Let me be the first to thank Tomball Dodge Ram Chrysler Jeep for supporting internet freedom by supporting The Pirate Bay.

If only more mainstream businesses knew how to take a stand like this!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Lending e-books is immoral

I'm linking to the Slashdot post for this story because I think a lot of the score 5 comments are pretty good; but basically somebody had the nerve to set up an e-book lending website and was almost shouted out of existence by authors.

I've talked before about the preposterousness of "loaning" electronic files.  It is a thing which does not make any sense.  Would you like to borrow this PDF file?  Most people find that statement to be a nonsense, but for some reason their common sense turns off when you replace "PDF" with "e-book" or "movie" or "mp3 file".  Madness.

But these guys were actually working with the DRM system, and still nearly got thrown off the internet, as it were.  It seems to be a natural human reflex to want to shut down web sites they don't agree with.  This is to be resisted.

Who would shout down a physical book library?  The sad thing is it was authors who did this.  People who should know better.

To paraphrase one of the Slashdot posters in the linked story, it's as if we invented automobiles, but then passed legislation that automobiles could not go faster than 15mph because they would put all the horses out of business.

Electronic files are free by their nature.  There is nothing any human can do about that.  And it is not my responsibility--nor yours--to come up with a new business model for the folks who are used to selling data on plastic discs or dead trees.  Do they worry about your ability to make a buck?

For what it's worth, I would pay for a good service that would give me access to the files I want, with good quality and speed.  But don't expect me to use your crappy spyware ridden DRM application to access them (Pandora, Spotify, Netflix, etc.).  Won't do it.  Can pirate instead.  You need to accept this.

Should piracy really be the safer option for electronic commerce?

God these people are stupid.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

New Megaupload to compete with legacy recording industry?

First I want to go on the record as saying I think that Kim Dotcom is a huge douche.  That being said, he's our douche.

Some people have theorized that the real reason for the Megaupload raid was that he was about to start his own music label, which, if you think about it, could have revolutionized the industry.  It's important to recall that many big name hip hop artists frequented the site, and there's no reason to believe he couldn't have been successful.

It remains to be seen if he could even get the site as popular as it once was if it was resurrected.  Internet sites don't have an amazing track record of that.  The internet is a fickle mistress!

But I hope he succeeds and destroys the entire existing recording industry by outcompeting them.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Sharing hashes anonymously

Since the entertainment industry has chosen to make active enemies of many people who were once their best customers, myself among them, I avoid giving their members money wherever possible.

Business school graduates may understand why this is less than desirable for them to do.  I'll leave it to you to figure out what's wrong with them.

In any case, so I was pirating away from the Pirate Bay last night (only downloading stuff that I've bought in the past and have backup rights to, of course!) when I noticed, not for the first time, that the bittorrent tracker was not, but something called  I finally got around to checking them out, and what I found was quite interesting.

If you don't know how torrents work, I point you to my earlier post on that subject.  Suffice to say, that torrent sites don't host actual files, but merely point to where you can find pieces of them on various machines connected to the internet--generally the users themselves.

I've also talked before about the nature of linking.  I think it's an important concept to understand.

Well, openbittorrent takes the link abstraction one step futher--they don't even know what they are linking to.

If you want to share a file, you create a tracker file, which is basically just a list of numbers--and simply list them as a tracker.  Some other site would need to index that file in a searchable way if you wanted people to find it.    But they don't do that.  They don't even store the tracker file.  They just repeat numbers on command.

So, are they pirates?  They host no actual files other than torrent link/hash files, which they don't know what those hashes describe, and they have no index of what torrent is what data.  They are just a big anonymous random data sharing facilitator.

It's so cool.  This is exactly the sort of thing we need to be doing to draw a lin under the preposterousness of trying to control data on the internet.  The only way for someone to go after opentorrent is to accuse them of linking to links to links.

In other words, you cannot speak of piracy, at all.

So what is your opinion?  Are they dirty pirates?  How dare they enable sharing data on the internet without knowing what it is!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

The philosophy of anonymity and copyright

One of the things I really took away from reading Ayn Rand is the importance of philosophy.

Right wing whackos don't ever, ever, ever, talk about this aspect of her work.  But really I think it's probably the single most important thing she had to say (and she might even agree, I think).

What is philosophy?  Good question.  Try this.  Go to Wikipedia.  Pick a random page--anything.  Now, click on the first link on that page.  Then on that page, click on the first link.  Continue.  Eventually, you will always end up on the Philosophy page.  This should blow your mind.  (more info)

Why is this?  Well, what we do is we organize information.  And ultimately, all organizations of information must rest upon some sort of philosophy.  You know--a systematized set of facts and observations about the universe.

Without philosophy, how do you make any sort of decisions?  If you have no values, you have no vectors to help you make choices.  And without some sort of philosophy, how can you have any values?  Channeling Rand there in a big way, but doesn't it make sense?

So that's why it is important to think about things.  There are a lot of people running around making decisions that affect a lot of people all the time who do not do this.  And this is the cause, in my opinion, of most of the human generated suffering in the world.

Word to the wise: God does need any help creating misery.  So please read a book or do something else useful with your mind before you start screwing up other people's lives.

Why on earth am I babbling about this?  Well, I was on my annual pilgrimage of investigating various anonymizing software packages when I came upon the Freenet philosophy page.  Freenet is a tool for using the internet anonymously.  They had a link to a philosophy page which I naturally jumped to, as I always do when I see one of those, because I know it will answer many fundamental questions.

It's certainly worth a read, with sections such as: "Communication is what makes us human" and "Knowledge is good" and "Democracy assumes a well informed population" and of course "And what of copyright?", which brings us to this blog.  The author sums it up nicely:

"You cannot guarantee freedom of speech and enforce copyright law"

which is certainly true.  If you've read much of this blog you'll know that I'm not for removing all copyright laws, but it has to be said that this ultimate statement is a fact.

I mean, if you're taking down servers because they share copyrighted content, you're still doing censorship, even if you happen to agree with it.

As important as anything though was a section from their FAQ page:

What about child porn, offensive content or terrorism?
While most people wish that child pornography and terrorism did not exist, humanity should not be deprived of their freedom to communicate just because of how a very small number of people might use that freedom.

And I think this is a sentiment that it is high time to propagate.  We can't let a few bad actors lead us into a police state--it defeats the entire purpose of safety.  If you're not safe to live a decent life--including expressing yourself freely--you're not safe, at all.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Let's explore victory by the RIAA/MPAA

So let's assume the music and movie industries achieve total victory in the halls of Congress and get the laws passed that they want.  What will that look like?

First, your internet connection will always be monitored by your Internet Service Provider to make sure you're not up to no good.

Theoretically, at least, this would be a major break from, say, the way telephone service has been conducted in modern times.   Sure, in the old days Sally down at the switchboard might listen in to your phone call, and sure, it was always technologically possible for Ma Bell to do the same in later years.  Still, there were laws protecting your privacy in the use of this major national infrastructure.

Now that infrastructure is dramatically more productive, and we are removing that expectation of privacy.

In truth, I think it's the one-to-many speaking power that terrifies various entrenched powers--Hollywood merely the most publicly active in fighting it.

The laws that they are passing have little respect for due process.  So a cocaine-addled Hollywood producer and his teenage hacker programmer could easily get your internet access revoked when you've done nothing at all wrong.

Yes, I am suggesting they are incompetent to run this regime.

Who would you trust to run it?

Second, we'll be seeing more and more attempts to lock you out of controlling your own computer hardware.  The reason for this is that ultimately, that is the only way to make sure you are not copying copyrighted files on your computer.

This is already common in cell phones (you know, the computers of the future), although, amazingly, even the most hamhanded device makers are starting to come around to not doing that.

They would not do this without large customer backlash, so I am encouraged that ordinary folks (as opposed to techies) are starting to intuitively understand the issue.  But there's still a long way to go, there....

Lastly, you'll see the costs of all entertainments go up, as they succeed in controlling your ability to do things on the internet, including pirating their material.

Oh wait, that's happening anyway.  Doh!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Apple and Samsung suing each other into oblivion

This is not precisely within the subject matter of this blog, but it does point to the general madness over "intellectual property" that is going on these days.  Basically a judge in South Korea ruled for both Samsung and Apple and banned all their devices from being sold in the country, since they had violated so many of each other's precious patents.

Sounds good to me.

Repeat after me--intellectual property is not real.  We need to have rules for it.  And those rules can be changed.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

If you have to lie to support your position...

One of the things that is most frustrating about the issue of piracy/fair use is the amount of lies being told.

It reminds me of a lot of anti-drug ads that tell obvious lies.  It's like, you know, there are lots of really good reasons not to do drugs.  Why do you have to lie?

Of course, in the case of digital piracy, there is no good reason not to do it, and so they lie.  All the time.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Software is control

It is becoming increasingly clear to me over time how important open source software is to the future of freedom for people.

If you don't know what software is running on your computer, then guess what?  You don't own your computer, it owns you.

This is relevant to the subject of expanding fair use to cover all non commercial use of copyrighted material because: it is copyright concerns that are being used as a justification for you not having control over the software running on your computer.  You can't be trusted not to steal data. Therefore, you must run Windows or MacOS X or locked down Android or whatever.  For example, if you want to use a CableCard in a computer, the encryption used on it is currently licensed only for Windows, because the cable companies don't want you to be able to look at what it's actually doing on your computer.

Already most people are starting to become aware of how services like Google and Facebook can collect large amounts of information about them.  It shouldn't be controversial that if people have leverage, they will use it.  And in this automated world we are building for ourselves, the temptation is much too great.

And if you think good moral people won't do it; trust me--sociopaths will.  They definitely will.

Just fyi running Linux on your computer has never been easier.  I'd suggest Ubuntu if you're not technically inclined.

And if you are technically inclined--what the hell is wrong with you?

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Linking is evil, apparently

So this is actually quite interesting.  The chief lawyer for Rapidshare, a file hosting site, suggests that the federal government should crack down on link sites, and not the file lockers themselves.

We have talked about linking before.  I think I made the case for linking not being illegal pretty well.  Because it would be completely insane.

Here's the deal.  Rapidshare provides a site where you can upload files, and you or other people can download them.  One thing they do not provide is a search engine.

So this function is fulfilled by link sites, which provides links to files on file sharing sites.

The fact remains, however, that sites like Rapidshare get a lot of business hosting copyrighted files, and not providing a search engine is just a fig leaf...a very small one with very big balls bouncing around behind cover this fact.

I think Mr. Rapidshare needs to hire a better lawyer who will not cut off his nose to spite his face.  If the link sites go, so does most of their business I'll wager, and besides that means destroying the internet.

Because if you can't even point at something that is disapproved of, we might as well get out the torches and pitchforks.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Just to make it clear..."non commercial" is the theme

I have no particular sympathy for a cyberlocker operator who has apparently been buying bullion with the proceeds from his activity.  Also, I'm not exactly delighted that it is porn site operators who are taking the lead now in copyright maximalist behavior.

A plague on both their houses.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Demonoid is dead

I have to admit I'm fairly bummed about the destruction of Demonoid.  According to the linked Wikipedia article, it was the 538th most popular site on the web.  That's saying something.  The web has a lot of sites.  Basically they took down a fairly large portion of the overall value of the internet, because the people who manage artists have been continually frightened for 15 years.

Is this really a good thing?

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Never pay anyone who shakes you down over piracy

For some reason I wasn't aware that this was becoming common.  I knew about "your computer is infected by a virus so pay us to make it go away" scams, but not "we caught you pirating music and tv shows so pay us or we'll sue you" scams.  And I'm not talking about "legitimate" plaintiffs, but random internet thieves.

In the end, it's no difference in my mind whether it's random internet thieves or the thieves of the RIAA and MPAA--in neither case will any extortion money you pay them go the the artists themselves, so any possible moral rationale for knuckling under does not exist.

Friday, August 17, 2012

A plush prison

I'm sometimes depressed at how comfortable the general population is with being controlled.

I realize this is a normal human trait.  Whenever I try to understand humans as a whole I often think of our closest primate relatives, which generally explains a lot.  Despite our pretensions to language and reason, at root we are still pack animals, with leaders and followers.  Mostly followers.  We do this because it works.

I don't mean to denigrate followers.  Some of the nicest people I know would never dare to try to lead anyone.  This is not a bad thing, it is the way we are made.  After all, if everyone tried to be the alpha all the time, can you imagine the chaos?  It's bad enough the way it is.

That being said, the reason our leaders get away with so many wars is also the willingness of the majority of people to do what they're told.

The part that scares me is the new part, the part we are creating now--automation.  Automation is an amazing thing.  It saves us labor.  It's pretty freaking cool to watch, and certainly I enjoy making it.  I am an automator.  I am a logician.  That's what we do--we chain together modules of complex logic to accomplish tasks that would be impossible, literally, otherwise.

For example, most people have no conception of the amount of logic running the workstation  you are looking at right now.  Remember the green on black text computer terminals of yore?  What makes your current machine so pretty is lots and lots of logic, layers of it, running one on top of another.  Millions of instructions per second are needed just to make the pretty display you are reading--let alone actually doing stuff.

It appears simple.  It's not.

Today it is only techs who have a real grasp on either what is happening, or what can happen with automation.

Which of course is why I started this blog.

Growing up, I saw no downside to computers.  They were so cool!  I'm a bit wiser now and definitely a lot more concerned.  It is the possibilities for social control that make freedom and personal control over these devices so very important.  We mustn't let anyone control our information machines for us!  My God, the danger is immense!

Already, technology has enabled some of the worst dictatorships in the world.  Imagine Saddam Hussein's Iraq, or the Kim's North Korea.  They constructed systems of control so tight, so terrifying, that without outside intervention change is impossible.  Eventually, in many decades, perhaps it could come as future "leaders" allowed their vice to loosen, but who wants to wait for that?

Imagine a regime like that with advanced automation, even robots, to enforce their control.  Does that really seem like fantasy to you, now?

This is why it's so important to achieve liberty now, before these tyranny enabling technologies can have a chance to get in place, making freedom a distant dream for great great great great grandchildren....

Thursday, August 16, 2012


I'm a little under the weather this week, so I hope my vast audience can forgive some brevity.

It will be interesting to see what evidence our FBI can come up with to show a New Zealand court to extradite Kim Dotcom.

I'm so glad I'm being protected from him.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

So the kids dig the YouTube for music

This article on CNN today talks about a study showing that kids get their music off YouTube today.

Thanks for the info.

Of course, they don't even ask the kids if they pirate music.  I wonder why?  Perhaps because they won't like the answer?

Still, it remains that the youth are quite accustomed to playing music at will carte blanche.

Why would they want to pay for the privilege when they can do that on  YouTube already?

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The physical location of a string of bytes

Just kind of a random conceit today.

I've talked a lot about the placement of a particular string of bytes on your hard drive being either "good" or "bad" according to "conventional wisdom" (also known as what the media tell you).

But indeed, my bigger point is that it exists nowhere.

A string of bytes is a thing in your mind as much as anything.  It can exist on the Pirate Bay, or it can exist on your hard drive, or it can be sent encrypted to you from Pandora or Spotify or Netflix.

The question is often, "what if it was real stuff?" and it is easy to get bogged down in this.  As has been said before many times, yes, if I could make an exact copy of your car and drive off with it, I would do that.

Every time.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Fair use has been expanded!

I figure maybe if I just say things as they are maybe it could make an impact.  Fair use of copyrighted materials has been expanded.  It is a fait accompli.

The law may not agree yet, but that doesn't make it any less true.

You can download any digital media that has ever existed, for free, right now, and do what you want with it.  There is an astronomical chance that someone may harass you about it.  You know, just like everything else on the internet.

I'll tell you what though--I'm a lot more afraid of 4chan than I am of the RIAA or MPAA.

Does it matter if a thing is true, even if many people do not believe it?

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Google punishes pirate sites

It's getting too easy to bash Google now.  They have decided to punish pirate sites in their search results, apparently.

Now, if you are very naive you might this this is fine.  But I would like to point out that copyright infringement is a civil offense, at worst, by which I mean that


So Google taking it upon itself to effectively censor material that is not illegal is a bold new step in a worthless direction--just as bad as their Google Mobility debacle.  

What's next, conservative leaning websites?  People who criticize Google?

Duck Duck Go is turning into a very good search engine, you should check it out.  They don't insist on tracking you all the time, either.

But if you have something to say on the internet, be sure you have a license, first.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Consumers, Customers, and People

A friend of mine used to rail at the use of the word "consumer" to describe, well, us.  I've come around to that point of view.

Consumer is a great word to use when studying economics.  However, we have let the vocabulary be used to turn us into objects.

For example, I was listening to Marketplace yesterday and they were talking about the fact that Goldman Sachs was not going to be prosecuted by the government for their role in the 2008 financial debacle.  The host said something to the effect of:

"And so what about all the consumers out there who have been hurt by this?"

Strong words...not so much.  How about:

"And so what about all the customers out there who have been hurt by this?"

Or even better:

"And so what about all the poeople out there who have been hurt by this?"

I bring this up because "consumer" is one of the content cartel's favorite words.  They like to say they offer many legal choices to "consumers".

Because, you see, to them (and all other major corporations), that's what you are.  A consumer.

Don't you feel like you have more rights if you refer to yourself as a "customer"?

Or, again, dare I say it, "person".

Language is very powerful, and I think it's important to put the people and customers back into our economic relationships.  It's one of the important ways to put corporations back in their correct place--as servants.

Friday, August 10, 2012

More paranoia in third world countries

Just another quick shot today about the U.S.A. doing everything they can to shut down file sharers in thirld world countries.  In this case Demonoid was shut down apparently in Mexico and Ukraine.

Two countries that have much bigger problems--including not getting on the wrong side of Uncle Sam.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Are SWAT teams an appropriate response to file sharing?

News that the Kim Dotcom raid was a SWAT style affair is fairly shocking to me.

Is that really appropriate?

I mean, I know he's accused of sharing lots and lots of electronic files.

But do you know the weight difference between a small share and a large one?

They are exactly the same.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

More fair use happening right now

It was nice to hear the Internet Archive is torrenting much of their collection, including a million books.

How can this be bad?

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

The American automated censorship regime stikes NASA

One of the insidious things about the U.S.'s censorship regime under the DMCA is that it has ultimately promoted automated self censorship.

For example, Google's YouTube has a system in place that allows copyright owners to automatically censor videos that they themselves deem as infringing on their copyright.  I have talked before about the impossibility of creating a reliable "copyright filter" on a site like YouTube.  Today comes another example of this madness.

Basically, NASA uploaded footage from the Curiousity rover to YouTube, and it was almost immediately taken down via the Scripps news service after they claimed it as their own.

This was done by automated software, which, as I've explained, is doomed to make mistakes like this.  But it is a perfect example of the extreme undesirability of this censorship regime.  Do we need this in America?

It is also yet another example of how expanding fair use would make these kind of searches  much more possible, and therefore less prone to errors like this.

I still cannot think of another decent solution to this problem.

After all, there are no consequences for mistakes like these.

Monday, August 6, 2012

The ethics of using VPN to watch stuff

So a lot of folks are getting VPN (Virtual Private Network) accounts in the UK so they can watch the BBC's streaming coverage of the Olympics, because of course NBC's coverage is execrable.  I talked about the use of VPN's to safegaurd your privacy the other day and this is a different angle on the same thing.

Basically, for years now companies like Netflix and Hulu have spit in the faces of their potential customers in Europe and Asia and denied them service because their IP address is "not in the United States". So people over there have gotten VPN accounts in the U.S.A. to route their traffic through so it looks like they are coming from here, so they could use those services.  God forbid I should ever go to such lengths to give someone my money, but I can understand the desire.

In a similar vein, the BBC collects a tax from every UK subject to pay for its operations, and so their live streaming is restricted to people in the UK, and they use your IP address to determine this. more time...IP addresses are not useful to determine someone's geographic location.

<repeat 100 times until it starts getting real>

Ok, it can be useful a lot of the time, I grant, but it is patently naive to think  you're really doing geo location with any reliability.

Hell, I'm always getting ads that think I'm in Richmond, TX, presumeably because Comcast's local IP's are "located" there.

So anyway a lot of folks are getting UK VPN accounts so they can watch the Olympics without having to tamp down the desire to hang themselves by their own private parts, or rather, hang Bob Costas by his.  I can understand that.

Is it wrong?  Well, they certainly didn't pay the UK TV tax.  But on the other hand, I don't see any option to buy this service, either.  I suppose they are using the BBC's resources in a way they don't approve of, so that's not nice.

But how much sympathy should I have for someone that thinks they can control their internet content by using IP addresses as geo location devices?

Not that I really think they are so naive--there simply isn't any other option.

Because that's how the internet is supposed to work.  All machines are equal--which is what is called peer to peer.  Sure, some machines are servers and some are clients in effect.  But in network terms they should be equal.  And they are, no matter how much some folks would like to force things away from that and turn it into a giant one way transmission system.

Guys, you've already paid to produce the stuff--why not let your quality shine?  At least for as long as the five ringed corporate shill fest lasts?  Sure, it'll cost some more in bandwidth and processor resource, but big woop--throw some ads in for non UK viewers (according to IP address) like you do on your website.

In other words, instead of fighting the internet, which you cannot hope to ever defeat, work with it and help yourself in the process.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

The meaning of owning your work and Google Mobilize

Google has an involuntary service called "Mobilize", which will render a web site for you optimized, theoretically, for mobile phones.

I discovered this involuntarily the other day when I was web surfing with my Android tablet, and when I tried to click on a search result link to a Wikipedia page, I noticed it was formatted particularly badly and had a little disclaimer at the top:

"This page adapted for your browser comes from and is not endorsed by Google."

At first I thought, "That's odd, I thought I'd requested a Wikipedia page."  And then I looked at the URL bar and saw I was still on Google's domain.  So I hit the Back button and saw that I had indeed clicked a Wikipedia page.  Clicked it again and to my shock I saw that indeed, Google had misdirected me to their Mobilized version of the page.

This is wrong on so many levels.

First, it sucks.  They do a crappy job. It looks like hell. And they were wrong about me being on a mobile device.  I mean sure, it was a tablet, but a tablet has a nice large screen and I do not need a Mobilized version of a web page presented to me.  What I actually asked for would be the ideal, nay, mandatory response.

This is the sort of nonsense I expect from Yahoo, and increasingly from Google, too.  Yahoo Mail thinks I'm on a mobile phone when I use the Opera web browser on my PC (well, they think it when I log out, but not when I log in...which is exactly the sort of thing I hope their incoming CEO can fix for them).

Point being the internet is not supposed to work that way.  If I request something you advertise as existing, you should send that actual thing.  Period.  Anything else is false advertising, and just poor net behavior, a bait and switch.

So Google, despite having just released an Android tablet of their own, will assume that Opera on Android is also a tiny screen, and Mobilize web sites and display them for you, and provide no way to get what you actually want (short of copy/pasting the URL from the search results, which is what I ended up doing).

So now on my Android tablet (that's Google's own operating system, too, btw), I use Duck Duck Go search engine, which I am happy to recommend to anyone looking for an alternative to Google.  The vibes I'm hearing about it are sounding a lot like Google's vibes several  years ago. Google is starting to malfunction this way a lot, so maybe it's worth checking out.

Anyway.  Fair use and copyright and all that jazz.  So if maybe they just had a "get the Mobilized version!" link next to the search results, I might think that was actually a pretty cool idea and might even take advantage of it when it would be useful to me, say, when I'm web surfing on my phone.  But the way Google did it actually rendered their service useless (and maddening) to me.  But even then it's a bit questionable--should you reformat a website and present it to people without permission?

By my own reckoning, the answer to that should be a resounding Yes if you aren't making money from it.  Which in the case of Google, I'd have to say the answer to that question is probably a No.  But it's an interesting debate....

Still, the downside of this for web site creators is, for example, that they won't get hits on their website, since Google is deceptively linking to their modified, cached version of the site.

So users can be deceived into thinking they're looking at the actual site, web site owers won't get traffic on their sites (losing potential ad revenue of their own (AdWords?!), stats, etc.), and the output is really, really shitty looking.

This kind of navel gazing and self-uninteroperability is something I've certainly seen before, and generally signals the beginning of a decline for a company, in my experience.  I remember trying to bend over and start getting all Sony stuff, just so I could be sure it would interoperate well:  and failing--their own stuff didn't work with their own stuff.  Sad.  Disgusting.  Stupid.

For God's sake just pass on the click to the website.  You've got your data, now get out of my way!

This whole thing does just feel wrong to me.  I search for something.  You give me results.  I click on a link clearly labelled with the URL of another web site--and you fetch me something from your own site.  That looks like crap.  And you're wrong.  And you're sensing your own OS and assuming it's always a tiny screen device.  And you block potential AdWords hits for those web sites.  Stupid.

Stupid.  Stupid.  Stupid. Stupid.

While I'm ranting.

Google Gmail now hides the signout button two clicks deep--which I assure you Google knows quite well is immoral.  Signing out of accounts is a pillar of personal information security.  But Google doesn't want you to do that, because they want to be able to track your surfing habits.  More and more they are doing these things when in the past they had the enlightened self interest to serve your interests, first.  And so we trusted them.

Hell, even the disclaimer that dissembles, "this page comes from" is a new level of  simpering semantic BS.  It implies that it was done with Wikipedia's consent, which I'm pretty f*cking sure is not the case as they did it to my game website, too!  I don't have a problem with somebody doing that as a voluntary service, but using my data as part of your profit engine (and so incompetently to boot) is quite offensive.

So you can see, again, that I'm certainly not blind to all forms of creator's rights.  Not by a long shot, I assure you.  If someone were to plagiarize my game and somehow start making money with it, without my permission, I'd be very impressed true but I'd also get out the lawyers.   I spend a lot of time in this space telling creators to get over themselves, and I do mean that, but as I said in my very first post there are some obvious distinctions--things that most people I'm sure would agree with.

Evil and just maladroit moves like this are changing people's trust in Google in a hurry.  They're looking like another Yahoo or Sony or Ebay now more every day.  I'm just the canary in the coalmine....

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Hi, I'm a legitimate media download service!

Hello.  My name is Panspotitunes, a legitimate download service.

I will only charge you ninety nine cents for the purchase of a single mp3 file, or several dollars for a movie!

Now, once a single person buys a file from me, there could literally be a hundred fifty million copies on the internet within five minutes.  But I don't want you to think about that.

Downloading one of those other copies is bad.  M'kay?

In fact, if I find out you did that, I will hunt you down.

I will go to any lengths to bribe government officials in countries all over the world to make sure you are prosecuted if you download that file from anyone else but me.

God help you if you're the one who shared it.  I will try my best to bankrupt you for the rest of your life.

I have used my influence in our culture to bamboozle the United States Congress into believing that preserving the business model I just outlined should be a key priority for our country.

I have successfully managed to get The Pirate Bay banned in their home country, Sweden, where file sharing is actually legal.  LOL can you believe it?  Oh my, it's fun to wield the power of the U.S.A. for such a noble purpose.

I've already successfully fooled Google into censoring their own search results, gotten a law passed that allows random people to censor the internet, and I'll take that censorship power as far as I can if you'll let me.

So gimme your money.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Good bits and bad bits

There seems to be this notion that there are "good" ways of downloading entertainments for free and "bad" ways.  I'd like to explore that a bit today.

For example, playing a music video on Youtube is a "good" way, for some reason.  For example, let's check out Snoop Lion's (née Dogg) actually quite nice new reggae song "La La La" on Youtube:

You go and listen to it on Youtube and you're all good, right? (Or Pandora or Spotify or Shoutcast...any of the "legitimate" services)

But let's study what actually happens when you do this.

Because you cannot listen or view a file which does not exist on your computer, you must actually transfer that data from the Youtube's servers to your machine.  It is physically impossible for you to listen to this song otherwise.  It must be present for you to hear it.  I don't know how to stress this enough.

So what actually happens is Firefox downloads it in the background into a "temporary directory"*.  It is called a temporary directory because the application (say Firefox) periodically cleans out old data from there.  Other than that, it has no special characteristics--it's just computer files like any other.

Every web page you look at, every image in every page, gets downloaded to these temporary directories.

Now, what if I am brazen enough to go play it out of that directory?

Does that make me bad?

What if I...perish the thought...copy it out of that directory?

Is that a crime against humanity?

How about if I watch it on some other video site and I have no idea of the provenance of the file?  What if I follow a link a friend sends me?

You better watch out.

Now let's get a little weird.  What if I download the exact same file from The Pirate Bay?

Well, har, obviously now I'm a filthy pirate.

So you can see--bits are in one spot, good; bits in another spot, bad.  You get a set of bits one way for free, it's good; another way, bad.  Here's a handy chart (I have a feeling this chart is going to need to grow over time):

So shut up and click in the Youtube in your browser, sheeple, or you're very bad people.

Why is it again that these guys are running around suing people and trying for vast censorship powers over the internet?

Expanding fair use simply describes the current reality.

*it's actually a bit more complicated than a simple file in a directory these days, but it's just a matter of software and not really relevant to the discussion (it's trivial to capture sound from the DRM'd services like Pandora as well, because the sound, as I say, has to be present to be listened to!)

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Musicians help the censored Pirate Bay

It's nice to see young musicians who appreciate the incredible value of the internet in promoting their music.  A Finish band is actually going out of their way to help people get to The Pirate Bay which has been censored in several countries.

My mind is still blown by musicians who think that a free, world wide distribution of their music is somehow a bad thing for them.  How stupid can you be?

BREIN seems particularly determined to destroy the internet

Note: Curses!  Another day forgotten.  I really need to stop trying to sleep!

The Dutch MPAA/RIAA variant is particularly active in their particularly liberal country.  Now they are suing the ISP that hosted a bittorrent site.  

Obviously, there could be no potential problem with your Internet Service Provider deciding whether or not the words you type on the internet are acceptable, right?