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.

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