Monday, June 30, 2008

Aw crap

I don't have the space or discretionary income for all this!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Idea for an iPod feature

Idea for an iPod feature: Your whole iTunes catalogue should be sync'ed to the iPod. Not the music, just the track information: title, artist, album, etc. Then there should be a way to select tracks to be copied to the iPod next sync.

Friday, June 13, 2008

I lied

Alright, a short rant about the new copyright bill.

One of the worst parts of the bill is the blanket prohibition on breaking digital locks, and not just breaking them, but having or using the software used to break them. Here's the thing, if these (scare-quotes) locks (scare-quotes) actually locked anything you wouldn't need these laws, right? If DRM kept media secure and un-copyable then there would be no need to push for laws to punish people when it was copied.

Now it turns out that pretty much any DRM is broken as soon as it hits the market. It's not trivial to do, it takes a lot of work and brain power to break it, but there's a whole army of nerds out there who'll do it just for the intellectual exercise, and once the toothpaste is out of the tube, it's trivial for anyone to get the software and break the DRM.

So, when a company puts some DRM on some media, it doesn't really prevent copying in any serious way, it only causes inconvience and headaches for people who have legitimately purchased it (while people who download it get an unencumbered, more functional copy), all it does is let the companies say "this media had DRM on it, and someone broke it, and because of the new law, that is illegal, give us money now."

It is as if, to prevent you from reading a book, they taped the covers together, and then, because they can be used to break this high-level lock, they had the government outlaw butter-knives and fingernails.

Finally, there's the question of what constitutes DRM? This encryption is just math. If I encode a file in a way that you can break in 5 minutes on a piece of paper with a calculator and a pencil, does that count? It's not enough for the bill to say something like "effective DRM" since as we know, no DRM is effective and in any event, the state of the art moves too fast for any law to keep up with specific implementations. Here, check this out:

The following encrypted text is copyright Richard Platel, 2008, all rights reserved

Guvf zbeavat V ernyvmrq gung V unq ab fhccyvrf sbe oernxsnfg, naq V jnf nyernql xvaq bs yngr, fb V tbg n ovt pbbxvr jvgu zl hfhny pbssrr, ohg gurer jnf n arj crefba jbexvat gur gvyy, naq fur qvqa'g xabj ubj gb punetr zr sbe gur pbbxvr, fb vg gbbx n ernyyl ybat gvzr.
There, I created some media and put some digital locks on it to protect it (cleverly shifting each letter in the text 13 spaces down in the alphabet). If you go to and break it, you'd be in violation of this new bill, and the sophisticated piracy software at ( letter = (letter + 13 %26)) would be too.

Please, do this.

Thursday, June 12, 2008


Look, I'm not going to go off on another rant about copyright and digital rights and all that crap. Just know that there's a new copyright bill introduced, and it's really, really terrible. There are a few provisions in there as sops to the digital rights crowd, but they're ALL undermined by the "anit-circumvention" provisions that say you're not allowed to break any DRM to do the things that the rest of the bill says you're allowed to do.

The long and the short of it is while the government is saying that the bill will give you more freedoms, in fact, it will give the media companies the power to restrict what you can do with their media, and they don't think you should have the freedoms you have now, much less expanded rights.

Here, take a look at this if you want to know more.


Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Please update your records

  • Still funny:LOLcats
  • No longer funny: "The cake is a lie"
  • Funny once again: saying "BAM!" after doing something unimpressive

Monday, June 9, 2008

A New Service That's Sure To Benefit Consumers

I heard that the power company is going to start doing Deep Power Inspection on the household power they're delivering. It seems some people have been using electricity to commit crimes, and these "power pirates" are using up all the power that should go to legitimate users.

Thus the power company is taking it upon themselves to police the use of their utility. They're going to install monitors on everyone's feed that will keep an eye on what the power is being used for, and report back. So if someone is running grow-lights the power company can throttle their power, and since grow lights are pretty much only used for illegal things, that's ok.

Also, since the power company makes appliances now and they'll be able to tell when you're using their appliances, or appliances made by their business partners, and they'll be able to give you "premium electricity service" for those outlets, and this will let those appliances work faster and better.

As a further benefit to their customers, since they'll know what electrical devices you have, and when you use them, they'll be able to provide targeted advertising to you on the screens on all of the appliances you bought from them. For instance, if you have a treadmill, and your usage of it declines, they can send ads for diet meals and such to your power-company supplied fridge. This, of course, is not an invasion of privacy.

Sure, there are some kooks out there who argue for so-called "grid neutrality", claiming that you should be able to just pay for however many watts of power you want a month, and it's none of the power company's damn business what you use it for, that if they start policing some uses of their power, then they should become somewhat legally liable for all uses of their power, but that's ridiculous.

Furthermore, these radical, pro-power-pirate fringe groups claim that if the power companies control both the quality and amount of power that go to different appliances, and have a vested interest in keeping you using their appliances, that they will intentionally degrade the performance of other, third-party appliances, and that this will stifle innovation in the marketplace, since any new use of power would have to be approved by the power company, but that's simply not the case.