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When Forced "Upgrades" Bring You Down

CmdrTaco posted more than 13 years ago | from the i-cry-a-single-tear dept.

Television 220

Viadd sent us an interesting article about unwanted upgrades. Its a little ranty, but it basically surrounds ReplayTV "Upgrading" their units by changing a feature in a way that Tog thinks is worse (and I'd tend to agree). With more software becoming subscription based, the line between bug fix, feature enhancement, and removal of features is going to get more blurry. I don't think that this particular example is the best, but this is really important to think about. Should we pay to remove bugs? What about when "Features" are trojaned along with the bugfix that we don't want? And what about when every device in your house is computerized? How does that amplify the problem? And what about when its a device like your tivo which upgrades automatically, leaving you no way out?

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Re:Another example. (3)

Wakko Warner (324) | more than 13 years ago | (#318412)

Just use ASFRecorder. Hell, you can compile it under Linux, even!

It's pretty much been eradicated from the Internet out of fear that it might be illegal, but I found a copy of it here [] .

- A.P.

Forget Napster. Why not really break the law?

Mediaplayer vs mp3 codecs (1)

volkris (694) | more than 13 years ago | (#318417)

It's like how if you accept the upgrade to the mp3 codec suggested by media player, it will downgrade your professional version of the Freunhoffer codec to the standard version. Not that I have an illegal copy of the codec...

hey schmuck (3)

LoCoPuff (1019) | more than 13 years ago | (#318418)

guess what? The CD player I bought in 1985 won't play A lot of CD's that are released nowadays. For example, Wierd Al's latest, since it is 'mixed mode'. Is that not an unwanted upgrade? A CD is a CD right? Think before you open your trap.

Forced Upgrades/Obsolescence (5)

LoCoPuff (1019) | more than 13 years ago | (#318419)

This has been happening for years outside of the computer industry. I have a Stereo system built in 1974 that sounds better than just about anything on the market today. And it is still pumping bass. Anything you buy now is designed to die in a matter of months. This began in the mid-80's with the yuppies having more disposable income, manufacturers realized they could make stuff disposable. That is the same idea here. Everything will be disposable eventually, including computers.

Re:Should have bought a TiVo. :) (1)

boinger (4618) | more than 13 years ago | (#318428)

Speaking of this, does anyone know how to:
  1. Make a skip-forward-15-seconds button (the only feature of ReplayTV I envy)?
  2. Make it so that when you press record mid-way through a show that you've been watching it doesn't discard what you've already watched?

Another example. (3)

SteveX (5640) | more than 13 years ago | (#318431)

In Windows Media Player 7, they took out the ability to Save the streaming video file you're watching. Watching the same stream in Media Player 6, you can save it no problem.

According to Q273006 [] , this is "by design". Thanks, guys.

Re:TiVo relevance (1)

bonehead (6382) | more than 13 years ago | (#318434)

Removal of the 30-second skip backdoor

You can hardly equate this to the forced commercial watching that ReplayTV added. ReplayTV removed one of the key selling points of the unit. The feature that TiVo removed wasn't a selling point, was never mentioned in the marketing literature or owner's manual, and was not even accesible on an unmodified box. In fact, the general public was never even supposed to know it was there. It was simply some left over code for a feature that was apparently toyed, with but never meant for inclusion in the released product. So some clever folks figured out how to activate it, big deal. You still can't insinuate any evil-doing on TiVo's part for removing it.

Capacity reduction for hacked TiVos

Not even worth mentioning. The amount of space lost is fairly trivial. I only lost about 4 hours on mine. It's OK, I've got plenty of space to spare, I still never manage to fill the thing up anyway.

Autocorrection jump-back changes

Yep, you're right. The new setting for this feature sucks ass. Hard. Apparently, though, some "focus group" preferred it this way. One has to wonder if the focus group was made up of quad-amputees who were operating the remote with their noses. Even after a case of beer, my reflexes still aren't slow enough to accomodate the new settings.

Re:Should have bought a TiVo. :) (2)

bonehead (6382) | more than 13 years ago | (#318437)

1.Make a skip-forward-15-seconds button (the only feature of ReplayTV I envy)?

If you still have software version 1.3, you can enable this functionality by setting the appropriate environment variable. Details should be here [] somewhere. Try the search engine.

Sadly, this ability seems to have been removed in software version 2.0.1. Sucks, but it's not quite as evil as what this article talks about, since it was never an official feature anyway, just some leftover code that wasn't really supposed to be there.

2.Make it so that when you press record mid-way through a show that you've been watching it doesn't discard what you've already watched?

The guy above me is correct. Software version 2.0.1 adds this ability, with one caveat: If you want to include the buffer in your recording, you have to also record the rest of the show in Best quality. Apparently, switching qualities in mid-recording proved too troublesome to deal with.

Re:Forced Upgrades/Obsolescence (1)

ocie (6659) | more than 13 years ago | (#318438)

In fact I threw it was still working when I threw it out.

Therefore, those who built this older machine wasted resources in building a machine that outlasted its usefulness. Ideally, the machine should collapse into a pile of dust as soon as it gets too slow to be of any use to you. Manufacturers may be getting greedy and make it do this while it is still of use to you.

Re:Reality (1)

Bob McCown (8411) | more than 13 years ago | (#318439)

No kidding, look what happened when Talkie Toaster [] became popular!

Howdy doodily doo [] !

Re:Excuse me if I'm wrong... (2)

xyzzy (10685) | more than 13 years ago | (#318446)

Your analogy isn't even REMOTELY close. You are the sysadmin for those machines, at a company you work for! With ReplayTV, you are their customer, paying your valuable dollars for a product YOU NOW OWN that they are coming in and changing without your permission. I just don't see the comparison.

This has been defeated (2)

Nathan Brazil (13299) | more than 13 years ago | (#318451)

Enough ReplayTV Customers (myself included) complained about this new "feature" that they removed it in a subsequent version of the OS. The system still works, congratulations.

Re:Forced Upgrades/Obsolescence (1)

ethereal (13958) | more than 13 years ago | (#318452)

The only way your post could have stayed on-topic was if your 1974 stereo had been secretly "upgraded" by the manafacturer in the middle of the night so that it lacked any frequencies above 16KHz (since they're so annoying). Did that happen?

A more likely upgrade would be to "accidentally" disable the analog (assuming a '74 stereo didn't have digital) outputs so that you can't record off of the stereo onto cassette tapes. They're going to destroy the music industry, I tell you :)

Re:Forced nonstandard character sets (1)

ethereal (13958) | more than 13 years ago | (#318453)

Yes, his standing as a guru of "human interface evangelism" and "practical design" has dropped in my eyes. Guess what, Tog? Real humans read straight quotes all day long and like 'em.

Terms of Service? (2)

dmuth (14143) | more than 13 years ago | (#318454)

In fact, the Freeze-Frame function is gone. It has been replaced by a "Serve Me A Commercial" function. Press the same button you've always pressed for Freeze Frame and now you get to look at a Coca-Cola commercial or some such for 25 minutes.

How did this happen? Replay TV downloaded the change one night, along with the TV log updates. No notice was given, and no choice was offered. They just stripped away basic functionality and replaced it with something that brought them more revenue.

Hmm.. I wonder what Replay TV's Terms of Service has to say about something like this? From an ethical standpoint, I think it's pretty underhanded to do something like that, but I wonder if Replay TV might have put themselves at legal liability?

At the very least, I think this is going to enrage a lot of people who use "traditional" appliances (TVs, VCRs, washing machines, etc.) and don't expect the functionality to suddenly change on them with no notice, and more importantly, to have a freature which they presumably paid for be replaced by something useless to them!

It would be like pressing the "mute" button on your TV's remote control and having the channel changed to QVC [] or something.


Re:Forced Upgrades/Obsolescence (2)

dmuth (14143) | more than 13 years ago | (#318455)

Everything will be disposable eventually, including computers.
You say that as if they aren't already. :-)

When's the last time you've been able to use a computer with off-the-shelf games and Windows applications, as well as Windows itself, for more than a year or two before the newer stuff requires more powerful hardware?


Re:ReplayTV has *already* fixed this (2)

mssymrvn (15684) | more than 13 years ago | (#318459)

I don't think that was the main trust of the argument though. The issue is that in the future as software becomes more and more subscription based you're going to see ads pop up on your favorite (non-open-source) desktop. And as more entertainment comes online and movies become streaming rather than rental, and with the convergence of more computing power in the home entertainment system Microsoft will begin to see that it (and AOL/Time-Warner among others) is the new form of TV.

You don't think they'll pad the bottom line by charging for ads? Ads targeted specifically at you since they now know what software you run, when you run it, how late you stay up, how much pr0n you download (if applicable), where you trade, how much you use eBay, and so on. It's all open-season. That coupled with the poor saps that will be forced to use Passport with Windows XP, you've got some ripe privacy violations just waiting to happen (not to mention terrific targeted marketing to sell).

Re:Manufacturers Make the Decision (2)

Sancho (17056) | more than 13 years ago | (#318461)

Ultimately though, this means more work for the company anyway.


Well imagine their servers. They have to keep backwards compatibility with your older box, or else they lose you as a customer. Or you're forced to upgrade. I think lots of people have been talking and thinking about this as only a client-side issue, but it's server side as well.

Simply put, you cannot expect a company to allow you to configure every aspect of their product and support it at the same time. It sucks, yes. But as long as there's a server at the other end that your client has to interact with, that's how it is. No one's forcing you to upgrade your Windows or Linux installation to continue using it. Even Windows 3.1 can still be used, as long as you only use the software available for it.

Fact of the matter is, if you're using their service, you gotta play by their rules.

What gets me are programs that have no server with which to communicate (in order to function, that is) but automatically check for an update and download/install it for you. This is not only an annoyance, but a security risk as well.

Speak with your wallets! (2)

Evro (18923) | more than 13 years ago | (#318463)

As with any other question of this type, if you don't want to fall victim to a service like this, don't use it! If you allow yourself to become dependent on something like TiVo (or ReplayTV), which I'm sure told you in advance that they'd "upgrade" the software whenever they choose, then you really can't complain when they excercise that option.

It's sort of a different case if they change the service so that it's completely different from what it was when you bought it. But like I said, they reserved that right in the EULA, so even though it really sucks balls, you accepted that risk.

This is one reason I think software as a subscription is a horrible idea. If the next incarnation of MS Word (Word.NET I assume) decides that I don't really need a spell checker, I'm SOL. But like the title says, speak with your wallet. If/when I get a computer that comes with any subscription-based software the first thing I'll do is format, install my warezed win2k and warezed o2k (hypothetically speaking of course). The only thing companies care about is money. If they find a feature in an app is causing them to lose money, they'll remove it. If adding a super-annoying "feature" (e.g. ads) will get them more money, they'll add it in a second. Why anybody would expect them to do anything else is beyond me.

__________________________________________________ ___

Can't wait. (5)

Black Parrot (19622) | more than 13 years ago | (#318465)

I can't wait until we hear about the first "upgrade virus", an infection that gets on a shoveware server and then tells all the suckers they need to download an "upgrade" with the hostile payload in it.

Think of the thrill of destroying millions of computers in a matter of hours.

OK, pedantics will note that what I'm describing isn't stricly a virus or a worm, so call it what you will.


Re:What worries me (2)

Azog (20907) | more than 13 years ago | (#318466)


"Microsoft Windows Update has detected unsupported operating system partitions on your hard disk. As unsupported operating systems are known to be "lousy" and "anti-american" and "destroy intellectual property", it will be upgraded to NTFS, giving you 34 GB of free hard disk space! Please wait....".

Upgrade complete! Click OK to reboot your computer...

Torrey Hoffman (Azog)

Re:Should have bought a TiVo. :) (1)

CerebusUS (21051) | more than 13 years ago | (#318467)

Speaking of this, does anyone know how to:
1. Make a skip-forward-15-seconds button (the only feature of ReplayTV I envy)?

There is supposedly a code to enable 30 second skip on versions of tivo software less than 2. Details here: .html [] it replaces the functionality of the "Advance" button

2. Make it so that when you press record mid-way through a show that you've been watching it doesn't discard what you've already watched?

That functionality will be in 2.0. But no one has yet discovered the code to enable 30-second-skip in 2.0...

TiVo rocks.

Excuse me if I'm wrong... (1)

matth (22742) | more than 13 years ago | (#318470)

... but, this real-play thing is their software and hardware is it not? And you are also subscribing to their services right? True, it may not be convient, but I don't know that it's not moral. Unless they promised in the beginning not to give you ads, I can't see how this would be morally wrong. In addition, I would assume that the advertisement does allow you to go right back to the program when you return to your TV. It's like if I run an office, with a bunch of computer and a Novell network. One day I decide to change the log-in script to do something different. I dont' really need to tell any of the users that I've changed anything, might be nice to do, but I need not do it. So maybe I now change all their screen savers to "Dilbert".. ? not morally wrong.. but perhaps inconvient?

Re:Excuse me if I'm wrong... (1)

matth (22742) | more than 13 years ago | (#318471)

Ahh ok.. my bad... I thought they still had control of it (kind of like renting a cable modem from your ISP).... in that case.. yeah they should not be just coming in there and screwing with your stuff.. couldn't that be breaking and entering some how?

In the future... (1)

JBv (25001) | more than 13 years ago | (#318472)

You will have banner-ads integrated in your toaster when you upgrade it to correct the 'burnt-toast-while-in-shower' bug.

Re:TiVo relevance (3)

Merk (25521) | more than 13 years ago | (#318474)

If you haven't already got the 2.0 software you have two choices. Give up on getting the TiVo service, no updates, no guide data, etc. and keep the features you like in v1.3, or accept the change.

I have no hard choice to make. I just recently got a TiVo, and made sure that it had the 1.3 software, because I live where there is no service. So far it's by far the best VCR I've ever owned. Buffering live TV is amazing, having about 16 shows queued up for recording is wonderful. Not having to search for a blank tape, or the blank part of a tape is sooo convenient. Having the service would be nice, but I can live without it.

Besides, the system runs Linux. Sure it's stripped down, running on a PPC chip with some strange libraries but it's Linux -- BASH shell and all. I've been poking around with it for about a week and I think within a month or so I should be able to give it my own guide data from sources I can find on the web. And you know what? It's *fun* to hack.

I agree that it kinda sucks that the upgrade is not optional and breaks some things that people counted on. But you do have a choice -- until you get 2.0 you don't *need* the service for the thing to work.

Whats this guy talking about? (1)

wozz (25963) | more than 13 years ago | (#318475)

The commercials on pause was an original feature of Replay. It was 'upgraded' out months ago. You no longer get commercials when paused. They even took out the Replay Zone's that were basically commercials for one networks programming. Perhaps the original replay units are getting different upgrades, but my panasonic doesn't have these issues.

Precedent (1)

Unknown Poltroon (31628) | more than 13 years ago | (#318479)

Windows 9x?

Not just replay....... (1)

barryblack (31922) | more than 13 years ago | (#318481)

Tivo just did this to me as well. They send some notice about an upgrade including all kinds of details. I didn't think much of it and went ahead with the upgrade. I think they let you opt out, but I'm not totally sure about that. I'm pretty sure there is no way to go back. They ended up adding some really useful features that cut down on remote clicks a lot, however, in the process they introduced some ugly interface items and some other annoying features. I think we can expect a lot more of this

Re:Manufacturers Make the Decision (1)

alecto (42429) | more than 13 years ago | (#318484)

But you should have the right to refuse the "upgrade" so long as you don't ask them to support it. The Replay device is an appliance, not a license--if they want to rent the devices, they should do so. Otherwise, they shouldn't force "upgrades."

Re:Forced Upgrades/Obsolescence (5)

GoofyBoy (44399) | more than 13 years ago | (#318486)

I think his point wasn't directly related to the article but just an interesting sidenote.

His opinion:Stereos today are not built to last more than a few months. So you have to go and upgrade ever few months. Replay is sort of like this, upgrade to something else.

Re:ReplayTV has *already* fixed this (1)

Monte (48723) | more than 13 years ago | (#318487)

ReplayTV has already disabled this feature.

In fact, they did so months ago!

Thanks for pointing that out, the article really had me scratching my head - I bought a Replay a couple months ago, and I'd never seen this "feature".

File this one under "old news".

And it's worse on 'doze. (4)

Tackhead (54550) | more than 13 years ago | (#318492)

RealPlayer is arguably the worst offender - every time they add a new DLL on their Windoze platform, and you attempt to play something encoded with the "new" version, they force you to re-download the entire player.

No, I don't want the new player with a million flashing banners in it. I just want to play the damn video stream, and all I need is the missing .DLL file associated with the new codec, damnit!

My solution: Check what's in C:\Wherever\Common Files\Real, copy it out, perform the "upgrade" on an expendable Windoze install, and see what DLLs got upgraded.

Then just copy the new DLLs into the old directory. Odds are you'll be able to play the .RM file just fine.

I've managed to keep using RealPlayer version 6 up to the present day using this technique.

Does anyone have a similar hack for things like the Sorenson .MOV codec under 'doze media player? I'm damned if I'm ever upgrading that monstrosity past version 6. It's bad enough that Real tries to re-download itself when it finds an unknown codec, but WMP phones home without my consent to do it "automatically".

Fuck that. Anyone know where WMP stores its files, and what's required for the various codecs?

Re:Excuse me if I'm wrong... (2)

Coward, Anonymous (55185) | more than 13 years ago | (#318493)

this real-play thing is their software and hardware is it not?

No. Your cable box is usually the property of your cable provider and you rent it from them, but your ReplayTV box is yours, you bought it, you own it forever. When you bought it, you were purchasing a piece of hardware which had a freeze-frame button, they removed this functionality.

Should have bought a TiVo. :) (3)

NetJunkie (56134) | more than 13 years ago | (#318494)

TiVo runs Linux and has been hacked pretty well. So if they remove something and you want it back, add it yourself.

But.... I think it's easy to see why ReplayTV did this. They are failing. TiVo is beating them in the market, for good reason. ReplayTV isn't selling boxes any more, they are trying to "license their technology!". Which, if you know anything about this business, means they are gone.

Re:Should have bought a TiVo. :) (2)

porges (58715) | more than 13 years ago | (#318496)

Make it so that when you press record mid-way through a show that you've been watching it doesn't discard what you've already watched?

This is allowed in the 2.0 Tivo software which, if you don't already have it, will update itself over your phone line sometime in the next few weeks.

Ads still there? (1)

keefer (60778) | more than 13 years ago | (#318499)

I've had my ReplayTV for, oh, 6-8 months now I think. Maybe a bit more. Anyway, I noticed the ads during pause myself. Kind of annoying, but it was just a static image of Santa drinking a Coke. Big deal.

A couple months ago, however, the ads went away. I haven't seen an ad (be it a placeholder like they had, or Santa drinking Coke, or whatever) during pause or anything else for quite a long time. I can't explain it, but I'm not sure what this guy is complaining about nowadays.

Re:NT Service Pack 4 (1)

operagost (62405) | more than 13 years ago | (#318501)

Adding insult to injury, SP4 itself did not fix all the Y2K bugs and hotfixes were necessary. SP5 is the minimum "safe" version.

They stopped this a few months ago! (1)

agravaine (66629) | more than 13 years ago | (#318502)

I have a ReplayTV unit - I bought it the first month they came out - they ROCK!

They did, in fact, do what the author of this article described, around Christmas time last year (I remember the coke-drinking Santa Claus ad in particlar) but (on my unit, at least) they removed the extra commercials and restored the way it used to work in less than two months, so I'm not sure what this guy is complaining about:
  • They did something people didn't like
  • customers complained
  • they fixed it.
Where's the story?

Re:Another example. (2)

UnknownSoldier (67820) | more than 13 years ago | (#318504)

Hear hear !

Yeah, I noticed that too.

Media Player 6 also has the hotkey "SPACEBAR" to play/pause the video/audio clip. They took it out on ver 7. That, along with the new UI design hogging up more screen real estate, was the reason I went back to 6.

Apple's Quicktime doesn't let me save the .mov either. I happen to LIKE saving movie trailors and backing them up to my "Movies CD".

You know, last year, was the first time I really ran into a newer versions removing features that the previous version had. There is a silver lining though: If this continues, more people will switch over to Open Source software, since it's doubtfull "they" will remove features that users are using. (The general trend of bloatware is a whole another story. :)

ReplayTV has *already* fixed this (5)

Krelnik (69751) | more than 13 years ago | (#318506)

Although the question raised by this article is still valid, the basic facts that provoked it are already obsolete. ReplayTV [] has already disabled this feature.

In fact, they did so months ago!

I'm a very happy long-time Replay owner (since October of 1999) and I agree with the author that the product has significant advantages over Tivo. However, I think he's blown this all out of proportion.

First of all, when you are pausing the show you are watching, what difference does it make if they put an advertisement on the screen? Really, is it that much of an intrusion? Come on!

Second of all, even when this feature was still active (and its been disabled for months now) you could bypass the ads simply by pressing one more key after you hit Pause. (The Exit key).

Once again, this is much ado about nothing, in the case of the specific ReplayTV feature, anyway.

This is why I love Linux (3) (87560) | more than 13 years ago | (#318510)

Notwithstanding the earlier comments about the feature having been corrected after lots of people complained...

Software is just a set of instructions that controls hardware, so it seems logical that the software would do what you want it to do. What is it going to do; complain?

But that isn't really true. Software serves the purposes of the people who write it, but only indirectly serves the needs of the consumer who buys it. A company writes useful software because they can trade that software for money, and writing good software lets them collect more money for more software. But the software is written by the company and for the company.

That is really the reason that I love Linux. It is written for my needs by other people with the same needs. Compare the advertising screens in AIM and GAIM for example, the ad filtering tools of Netscape 6 (or IE for that matter) versus Mozilla, or the spam filtering of procmail and mutt compared with Outlook.

Advertising pressure is all around us. Eventually your VR-spec's will no doubt advertise nearby pizza parlours in flashing green and red trying to attract your attention away from the sidewalk ahead of you.

He who has the code controls his own future; I want to be in control of the data I see, I don't want the machines that serve me to make their own decisions about what I should see based on the interests and focus groups of the corporations that supply them.

I'd add that the end of the world is upon you all, but then I really would be needlessly raving. But truly -- all of you who cut down open source or Linux every chance you get. Have you really thought through what you will be getting instead?

ReplayTV doesn't do that anymore (1)

JHromadka (88188) | more than 13 years ago | (#318512)

When was this article written? I have a ReplayTV, and while they did the ad thing back during the holidays (there was the Coca-Cola Santa), they caught enough flak from consumers to stop it.

ReplayTV has a presence in the AVS Forum [] , so post any gripes/suggestions about the ReplayTV there.
James Hromadka

Re:Another example. (1)

jbridge21 (90597) | more than 13 years ago | (#318513)

just out of curiosity, how did you find my site? through my /. sig, which appears below? or something else?

MS forced upgrades (2)

jbridge21 (90597) | more than 13 years ago | (#318514)

One forced upgrade that I'm really pissed about right now is that of internet explorer.

Sure, most people who use it are using versions 5.01 or 5.5 right now.... but what about those who aren't? I actually PREFER version 4.02 to the latter stuff, but with the bug that was on /. a few days ago, it mentioned that they didn't put out a patch for 4.02, let alone even test to see if it HAD the bug! So now I have to be veeeery wary when using IE4... sucks.

This is all too common... (2)

ReedC (91152) | more than 13 years ago | (#318515)

This happened to me, in a slightly different realm. A certain cable company I was using (by lack of other choice) "upgraded" their digital cable service about 6 months ago. Unfortunately, the upgrade was horrible. It limited some of the basic functionality of digital cable drastically (the worst was the guide menu, which shrunk horizontally to one time slot, vertically to 6, down from 3 and 9).

They obviously had something new and better to replace this with: lots and lots of advertising. They started inserting ads everywhere possible. The guide was blanketed with a pay-per-view ad in one corner, a cable service ad in another (go figure, you already have it, and they still have to eat valuable screen space to advertise to you), and an ad they were selling out to local businesses in the third corner, leaving a very small area for the actual guide menu. They also added advertisements to the banner that appears as you change channels.

Unfortunately, the end user had no choice, as the upgrade just happened over the cable feed, and there was no way to control it. The worst of it, though, was that they decided that the new features (advertisements) made it much nicer, I suppose, so they raised the subscription rate about 10% over the already rediculous amounts.

I did spend about 2 hours on the phone, listing specific complaints with them, with the basic response of "tough", to which I promptly cancelled my service and lived without television for a short while. Luckily, I moved soon after, and haven't had quite the same problems here.

Unfortunately, with some of these markets that have such huge barriers to entry, it's tough to do much about the shit some companies want to impose on their users. Too little competition, and only between 2 or 3 companies, really keeps service crappy. Often, the only real control you have is not to partake in their service.

Re:Another example. (1)

TheCarp (96830) | more than 13 years ago | (#318517)

hmmm I am tempted, at first, to say that its not really the same...since they just decided that "this should be its own application"

Actually....I have to agree. More developers should look at their huge bloated programs and say "Ok, this should be a couple of seprate apps
(then again, since powerpoint and excel can be purchased sepratly from each other... it *IS* removing functionality from a product)

I would like to see more of this. One of the things I like about GNOME is the philosophy that "The Window manager manages windows... other programs take care of menus or having multiple desktops" - that way the parts are interchangable

(now if onluy someone would write a gnome compliant pager that didn't require running that damned panel...)


Re:Can't wait. (5)

BarMeister (99794) | more than 13 years ago | (#318519)

What I really want to see is a virus that updates itself. I am so sick of having to wait for someone to send me an email attachment with the latest virus. Let's cut out the middleman.

Outlook "Security" Patch (1)

Bob_T_Bold (100389) | more than 13 years ago | (#318520)

I know, I am using broken software to begin with, but it is on my work supported computer, and I need to run Windoze to support certain apps that don't work under a real OS yet. So I try to keep the thing updated, and will usually apply "patches" to keep the system as stable as possible (even W2K bluescreens on me, less than NT4, but still....). So, I installed the Outlook Security Patch. There is no uninstall for this. What I have now is the inability to send links from within IE, executables from my harddrive, and a bunch of other problems I haven't even un-earthed. The worst is that there is no way to back out, short of re-imaging my laptop! Pretty amazing actually..... Robert

Re:Apple upgrade makes RAM unusable. (1)

BradleyUffner (103496) | more than 13 years ago | (#318524)

I work for a School District in PA, we use a lot og Macintosh computer in all of our labs. When computers used to have hard drive problem we would pop in our trust Norton disk doctor for Mac and it could fix the problem right away. With the new Macs that are coming out Apple designed them so that each model could only boot from a bootCD made for that specific model. That breaks Norton on almost every computer we have. I'm wondering if Apple did this intentionaly so that 3rd party utilities would be broken. Interestingly enough Apple released it's own version Disk Tool software that can boot all the Macs, but it costs a fortune for a district License.
=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\ =\=\=\=\=\

Re:Frist Prost? (1)

Ronin X (121414) | more than 13 years ago | (#318526)

It brings me back to my first and harshest forced upgrade.... from an Amiga 1200 to a Wintel box running Dos/Windows3.1...

Talk about loss of features....

Interesting point (1)

MousePotato (124958) | more than 13 years ago | (#318530)

What is going to happen when toasters and fridges start to auto update and they break? You don't have the flex to grab your floppies or cd's to reinstall the previous version. Will my toast be burned along with my house? My beer warm and my ice cubes wet? We've all done an upgrade at one point or another that broke usability on a machine. I wonder how this is going to pan out as this upgrade model becomes more prevalent.

Off-the-shelf games (and "off-off-shelf") (2)

yerricde (125198) | more than 13 years ago | (#318531)

When's the last time you've been able to use a computer with off-the-shelf games

My games are so off-the-shelf that they've never even been on a shelf. Am I correct in inferring a hierarchy analogous to that of New York theater, i.e. "shelf," "off-shelf," and "off-off-shelf"? Besides, there are still some very popular games that don't need a GeForce or a 1 GHz Athlon. For example, TETRIS [] ® and TETANUS [] (TM) both run just fine on my 25 MHz 486DX. If game makers can't make their software gracefully degrade on old hardware, that's their problem.

and Windows applications, as well as Windows itself, for more than a year or two

Most popular proprietary apps require Windows 95, or Windows 95 with Winsock 2. M$ Office, on the other hand...

How to save QuickTime movie trailers (2)

yerricde (125198) | more than 13 years ago | (#318532)

Apple's Quicktime doesn't let me save the .mov either. I happen to LIKE saving movie trailors and backing them up to my "Movies CD".

View Source on the HTML document that links to or embeds the movie and grab the movie's HTTP URL. (This does not work for pnm:// or rtsp:// URLs or URLs whose servers are Referer: protected.) Then make a new HTML document that links to said URL. (In IE, you can enter about:<a href="url">here</a> to create this document on the fly.) Right-click the link, Save Target As..., enter a path on your local filesystem, wait an hour, and your movie is ready to play.

Apple upgrade makes RAM unusable. (1)

Angelwrath (125723) | more than 13 years ago | (#318534)

Apple also recently announced a firmware "upgrade" that is causing a lot of Mac computers to not recognize some 3rd party RAM modules that worked perfectly and without fail prior to the firmware upgrade.

Apple claims that it had to impose tighter RAM specifications. My take is that if they were aware that they needed to do that, then they should have informed customers a long time ago. The company has so far refused to offer any further details... like actually explaining WHY the RAM doesn't work now, whereas before it worked fine.

Articles are at MacCentral [] and MacNN [] .

Consumer want/like disposable stuff (2)

Oscar26 (126520) | more than 13 years ago | (#318539)

Corporations most of the time just meet the demands of the consumers. The folks who read /. are a very specialized niche and don't represent the whole market. We read something like this and automatically assume that it is being shoved down our throat. But that's not true. Consumers like replacing and getting "new" items every couple of years.

Just look at the automobile industry. How many people lease cars? Millions! A lease is not the best financial decision, it's a horrible financial decision. But people don't buy a new car based on finances, they purchase it b/c they want to look cool, get a new vehicle every 3 years, and enjoy that "new car smell". It allows them to keep up with the Jones.

Computers will probably ultimately end up the same way. With fewer people getting into technology, or actually caring what goes on inside a computer (as long as it has e-mail and AIM they're happy) they will be glad to throw out the "old" model every 2-3 years, and get a brand new one! "It must work better, it's newer than the old model!"

Of course, my examples are in reference to hardware. Software is slightly different. Most users will like the automatic upgrades. They don't know enough to try it themselves, and when they do they spend most of their time on the phone with tech support. The /. community won't like this, but we won't purchase software like this. Someone will supply our demand for stable software, whether we write it ourselves or let someone else do it.

well... (1)

frknfrk (127417) | more than 13 years ago | (#318540)

it is a lot like i have been saying a lot, when people complain about 'no way out' of doing something. it is pretty simple: do not buy the items which have these strange proprietary auto upgrade 'features' if that feature bothers you a lot. wait until the hack-it-yourself linux version comes out, or whatever, but there is a lot of whining about corporate business models (Music companies and their unrippable CDs, auto-upgrading TiVo) and the 'way out' is, as always, simple as not buying something which is not open. maybe talk to RMS about that...

Re:Another example. (1)

donpardo (128815) | more than 13 years ago | (#318541)

and here [] .

Solution for broader implications of problem (1)

JDALaRose (139798) | more than 13 years ago | (#318544)

I'm one of those irritating shits who reads /. but runs windows. I've suspected for a couple years now that eventually upgrades would remove functionality that I believe to be essential. So, when I saw that a friend had a folder with every single installer for every version of every program that he's ever downloaded, I thought that it was a great idea. The folder is archived to CD every six months or so, and in this way, I'll always be able to do things like rip a CD or use PGP or the like, even if future versions of various software programs are forced to comply with the mandates of The Man. I'm willing to bet that the same sort of thing could be done with any OS, though I'm also willing to bet that open software is much less susceptible to complicity with the aforementioned mandates of The Man.

NT Service Pack 4 (1)

HerrGlock (141750) | more than 13 years ago | (#318545)

I believe it was SP4 that the only thing anyone can tell (where I work anyway) that it did was break Lotus Notes connectivity so you could not run a notes server with that pack installed. Calling MS brought a 'You need to purchase a Server license for that machine.'

Cav Pilot's Reference Page []

Remember the good old days? (3) (142825) | more than 13 years ago | (#318546)

Back when companies actually paid attention to quality in code, they did not charge for bug fixes.

I argued with one company in 1988 that I should not have to pay for support to report their bugs to them. Later, if you were the first to report a bug to Microsoft, they would then not charge you for the upgrade.

Before, on the old days, I called in to report a problem with SoftIce .99, they told me that they knew about it and if I would like the beta version to see if that fixed the problem.

The web has helped a little so that there is an easy way to see the bug list instead of waiting 30 minutes on hold to be told that the problem was in their database.

If the UCITA had a provision to require a vendor to be responsible for their bugs, it would pass like wildfire (or at least with users).

Re:TiVo relevance (2)

lorian69 (150342) | more than 13 years ago | (#318549)

Don't worry about it. I already have the new software, and the good changes far outweigh the bad. (Plus, I don't really think any of the changes are bad to start with)

The backdoor for 30 second skip, I've never heard of. Is it mentioned on the TiVo underground?

Also, though I originally was irritated by the auto-correct change, I got used to it quickly... and I think the "slow-fingered" people in the house appreciate it.

However, if they ever decided to put advertisements in the software or remove a feature I really liked, I'm sure I'd be pretty upset.

Welcome to more of the same... (2)

AntiPasto (168263) | more than 13 years ago | (#318553)

Hey this is just like basic cable TV. Back in the day it took little for ya to learn what to do with a splitter and some coax cable. Well, welcome to the big ride.

This reminds me a lot of DSS (DirecTV) and their constant efforts to battle pirates. We live in an age where the business model of "Give away the razor, but sell the blades" holds fast. Continuing support is the ONLY way to rack in the big cash with very expensive technological products (er... and I don't mean the Gillete Mach 3).

Essentially, we are no longer buying products (as this article suggests), but rather so many forces have FORCED us into continuing service and support for any kind of product: razors, soft contact lens, hell CLOTHING needs washed heheh... well that's a weird example, but clothing is a great example of a product that is not perfect. It gets dirty. It needs washed. Its counter-productive to anticipate everything that could be spilled on it (although I think I read they're working on that).

So, welcome to more of the same.


What worries me (2)

Alien54 (180860) | more than 13 years ago | (#318556)

is that this seems to be a valid scenario for Microsoft .NET

"Your desired configuration is not compatible with our marketing plans, you will be upgrade accordingly.

it used to be a joke about MS and the Borg. Now it is not so funny.

It is this sort of thing that leads to "bad thoughts"

Check out the Vinny the Vampire [] comic strip

Re:Forced Upgrades/Obsolescence (1)

cnkeller (181482) | more than 13 years ago | (#318559)

I'd really like to second this observation.

Over the weekend, my fairly state of the art motherboard/CPU died (ASUS/AMD). Not sure which one yet. At any rate, I ordered this stuff six months ago. I don't overclock (in fact I'm overly cautious -- 7 fans in the case). Whatever happened to things just lasting? My first big computer, a 4.67Mhz clone with 640K was bulletproof. It worked for years and years. In fact I threw it was still working when I threw it out.

Sorry end rant, this just touched me off as I've been cursing the stability of modern products since early Sunday morning.

Only Open Source is Truly As-Is (1)

DeadVulcan (182139) | more than 13 years ago | (#318561)

Much as the author likes to claim that software is sold as-is these days, it's not totally true. If it were, there would be no difference between a "real" software product and open source software, at least in terms of the producer's liability.

However, we all know that part of the reason (perhaps just a small part, but a part nonetheless) why management types were leery of open source was because there was nobody you could sue if something went disastrously wrong with it.

And I suspect that anyone who thinks a software company can avoid liability for some disaster by slapping two words on the box is fooling themselves. (If I'm wrong, and there are precendents for this, then please post away.) Oh, they'll still do it to cover their asses, but I think everyone knows it will get challenged if something truly horrible happens, like loss of life.


Re:Can't wait. (1)

Erasmus Darwin (183180) | more than 13 years ago | (#318563)

What I really want to see is a virus that updates itself.

Win95.Babylonia [] (discovered December of '99) does exactly that.

Re:TiVo relevance (1)

Erasmus Darwin (183180) | more than 13 years ago | (#318564)

The backdoor for 30 second skip, I've never heard of. Is it mentioned on the TiVo underground?

Yup. This thread [] mentions the (select - play - select - 3 - 0 - select) code for 1.3 units. It turns skip-to-live into a 30 second skip.

TiVo relevance (5)

Erasmus Darwin (183180) | more than 13 years ago | (#318567)

Amusingly enough, this has some very current relevance to the TiVo, as well. Around the end of March, TiVo started rolling out version 2.0 of their software to the general public. For the most part, it's an upgrade that fixes a few bugs and improves a lot of the functionality. However, like the ReplayTV "upgrade", it's not voluntary unless you're willing to forego the guide data (which provides most of the functionality of the unit -- I know I wouldn't bother if I had to manually enter programming times; I may be smart enough to do it, but I'm also lazy).

There are at least 3 "negative" features in the new TiVo release:

  • Removal of the 30-second skip backdoor (there was a backdoor code that gave your TiVo a 30-second skip button like ReplayTV has; never used it personally)
  • Capacity reduction for hacked TiVos (this isn't a delibrate attempt to attack the hacked units; however, some of the new features automatically grab extra storage space on "larger" units -- the TiVo produced units with enough capacity to trigger this feature already have that space reserved)
  • Autocorrection jump-back changes (when you hit play after fast-forwarding, the TiVo jumps back a bit to autocorrect for human reactions; personally I'm totally comfortable with the way it is now and am dreading the changes)

If the upgrades were completely optional, I'd be more than happy to stick with my existing version of the software. I love my TiVo. It works great. I don't want them changing it.

Re:TiVo relevance (1)

Kazymyr (190114) | more than 13 years ago | (#318568)

The backdoor for 30 second skip, I've never heard of. Is it mentioned on the TiVo underground?

Yes it is here [] .

I hope my toaster never needs firmware updates... (1)

donutz (195717) | more than 13 years ago | (#318574)

I mean, a fully networked multi-setting intelligent toaster...who needs that? I mean, it's like a wristwatch running Linux or something....can you imagine that? Oh wait...

. . .

Why this could be prevented w/ Tivo (3)

no_such_user (196771) | more than 13 years ago | (#318577)

As far as I can tell, ReplayTV users only pay for the initial hardware. Downloading of listings, as well as software, is free of charge. This is contrary to the way Tivo operates - they charge (currently) $10/month, or a flat-fee extra cost ($199, soon to be $249) for a "lifetime" subscription.

With ReplayTV, your threats only really amount to 'If you do this, I'm never going to buy a ReplayTV unit again!' Frankly, this isn't really all that much of a threat to a company who already received your money.

On the other hand, the Tivo $10/month fee is key to their profitability. If you and 1,000 of your closest tivo-using friends (see below on the tivo forums) were to threaten to leave them due to a similar complaint, you'd probably be able to raise some eyebrows.

Now, this is a pretty interesting situation. While I've always been the first to criticize subscription software (which, essentially, this is - since you can't use Tivo w/o the listings [as of version 2.0 of their software]), it seems to me that we're actually receiving some leverage here - at least when we use the software as a group.

To see an excellent example of a group of software users coming together in a community, check out the AVS Tivo Forum [] , where a very good number of Tivo users congregate to speak with each other, and extraordinarily, Tivo representatives. This forum is a model of how a company should interact with their customers. They even rolled out a beta version of their latest software update to a significant number of forum users - giving them the opportunity to test their code on a large scale, and giving these users a chance to be the guinea pigs they desire to be :)

Re:Only Open Source is Truly As-Is (1)

guinsu (198732) | more than 13 years ago | (#318578)

Actually every license for every piece of software I've ever bothered to read states that the software is not being advertised as suitable for ANY purpose and that it has no warranties other than a warranty covering a defect in the physical media for a certain length of time (usualyl 90 days). You can see this on Microsoft products, Sun's Java download license and many other apps.

Feature removed. (1)

johankohler (200461) | more than 13 years ago | (#318579)

That pause commercial feature was removed. It is no longer present in the ReplayTV.

I guess enough people complained :)

Re:Should have bought a TiVo. :) (1)

Gannoc (210256) | more than 13 years ago | (#318583)

Nothing personal against the original posted, but Tivo is _not_ open software. You won't be doi16 auch hacking of the actual software.

All too easy (2)

agentZ (210674) | more than 13 years ago | (#318584)

Heh.. not a problem. All we need is for some young upstart company (or even a group of hardware geeks really) is to reverse engineer the damn thing, write their own version that uses Linux and sell it for cheap.

BZZT! Sorry! DMCA says you can't reverse engineer. You know, it really just hit me that the Man is truly taking control...

Re:Another example. (3)

agentZ (210674) | more than 13 years ago | (#318586)

No, they just want you to buy Quicktime Pro, which does let you save movies. This was marketing, the same kind used by drug dealers. Give you free samples so you get 'hooked' on the product, and then start charging whatever they want for it.

Of course, saving movies isn't quite the same thing as heroin, but it's the same marketing principle... Now, if ReplayTV offered to restore the pause screen feature for a monthly fee of say, $5 (probably more than they make from the advertising screens), they would be doing the same thing as well.

Re:Forced Upgrades/Obsolescence (1)

PHr0D (212586) | more than 13 years ago | (#318587)

Eventually?... Good lord! I don't know about you, but I get new computer gear 2-3 times a year.. If that's not the definition of 'disposable' I don't know what is! Just compare the value of that 133 Mhz pentium to a Toyota of the same vintage.. Anything that drops in value that fast can certainly allready be considered 'disposable.

Re:NT Service Pack 4 (1)

Evil Grinn (223934) | more than 13 years ago | (#318590)

I believe it was SP4 that the only thing anyone can tell (where I work anyway) that it did was break Lotus Notes connectivity so you could not run a notes server with that pack installed. Calling MS brought a 'You need to purchase a Server license for that machine.'

I was in IT at the time and I seem to recall that my company did a mass-upgrade of all our servers and workstations to SP4 for "Y2K" readiness purposes. Caused more BSOD's than anything I've ever seen.

Reality (1)

Johnny Starrock (227040) | more than 13 years ago | (#318591)

Most people arn't going to buy toasters that need firmware updates every few weeks. The market will shake out the offending products when more reliable and "stable" appliances become availible.

software upgrade desire. (1)

saintlupus (227599) | more than 13 years ago | (#318592)

Of course, my examples are in reference to hardware. Software is slightly different. Most users will like the automatic upgrades. They don't know enough to try it themselves, and when they do they spend most of their time on the phone with tech support.

software, so far as i can tell, isn't different at all. everyone wants the newest thing with the highest number.

case in point: my father has a 133 mhz pentium. now, i had an old oem copy of win 95c for him when he wanted to upgrade his machine, but instead he went with win98. why? because the number is higher.

"newer is better" is a fucking _mantra_. look at cars, movies, books, hardware, software - at least in america, if it's more than a year old nobody wants to see it.


Forced nonstandard character sets (1)

SCHecklerX (229973) | more than 13 years ago | (#318593)

Perhaps Tog should start writing without "smart" quotes before he complains too much more. I got sick of it after the first two paragraphs and left.

AT&T Digital Cable did something like this too (2)

0WaitState (231806) | more than 13 years ago | (#318597)

I use AT&T Digital Cable for TV (no bandwidth yet, the lamers). It comes with this great surf feature which allows(ed) you to scan 12 channels at a time to see text descriptions of what is showing at any given time, and you can skip up/down by 12 channels at a time, or ahead by 1/2 hour increments or days.

A few months after signup, they "upgraded" the console to limit the text-surf to seven channels at a time, with only 20 character width available for program description. The reason? So they could grab half the screen area for ads.

What really hacks me off is that there's a separate $2/month charge for this "service" that teases me to watch more TV, and they reduced its functionality. I think I'm about ready to switch to the Starband/Echostar 150 channel option for $99/month.

rollback! (2)

NineNine (235196) | more than 13 years ago | (#318599)

But luckily, with MS Service Packs, and most hotfixes now, it's VERY easy to rollback changes. I think that that is a VERY important feature to any "upgrade".

ICQ (1)

stud9920 (236753) | more than 13 years ago | (#318600)

since last week, icq has been displaying ads in the message windows. This really sucks. It can although be avoided by disabling auto updates in the windows registry.

Re:Another example. (1)

shyster (245228) | more than 13 years ago | (#318603)

In Windows Media Player 7, they took out the ability to Save the streaming video file you're watching. Watching the same stream in Media Player 6, you can save it no problem. According to Q273006, this is "by design". Thanks, guys.

Microsoft waited for you to initiate the upgrade. That did not happen with ReplayTV. Nowhere near "another example" (unless you meant another [off-topic] example)

Manufacturers Make the Decision (1)

Evil Adrian (253301) | more than 13 years ago | (#318604)

It all seems pretty simple to me -- if you want to use what the manufacturer has given you, you use it according to their terms. If part of the service they provide includes upgrades, they include upgrades. For one thing, it'd be a nightmare to have to do tech support for different units, some with the X patch, some with the Y patch, some with both, some with neither, etc. etc. Just upgrade the damn thing! And if you don't want to upgrade, then don't use the service, plain and simple. If the company makes bad changes, no one will use it, so it's in their best interest to make good changes...


Re:Should have bought a TiVo. :) (2)

Safety Cap (253500) | more than 13 years ago | (#318606)

The author of this work probably didn't bother to read the contract / EULA / indentured servitude scroll. I'll wager it says that they have every right to make any changes they wish, and since you're only "renting" the service, you're tough outta luck, bub.

Don't you think they got a little heat from the advertisers, since the "skip over rate" is more than they can bear?

Seriously, this guy has three choices:

  1. Do nothing / live with it. Most Americans will probably take this route, like the sloths that we are.
  2. Return it / cancel service. If enough people do this, they may stop their changes. However, only the wacko, disgruntled Ted Kaczynski-types will do this, and no one ever takes those very seriously, unless they get near a post box.
  3. Hack it. This option is most likely illegal under the terms of the DCMA ("Yer Honor, we used encryption-based screws to keep the contents of the case from being hacked and maliciously opened!"). They know you're out there and they're watching what you do, every time junior phones home.
I feel sorry for people like this, but it seems to me to be another example of giving up a little freedom (privacy to have one's viewing habits remain anonymous) for a tiny, tiny bit o' conveninence. Sorry, but my VCR works just fine for now, and at some point when I want this kind of service (mostly for the better picture), I'll build my own.

AT&T (1)

Phredward (254393) | more than 13 years ago | (#318607)

At&t's digital cable did this a while back, replacing a large box of tv listings with a smaller one and some adds. Now instead of being able to see the whole name of a show, I can see adds for digital cable. Yay!


Re:Another example. (1)

adamwp (262983) | more than 13 years ago | (#318609)

And here []

Re:TiVo relevance (1)

dachshund (300733) | more than 13 years ago | (#318612)

Autocorrection jump-back changes (when you hit play after fast-forwarding, the TiVo jumps back a bit to autocorrect for human reactions; personally I'm totally comfortable with the way it is now and am dreading the changes)

They seem to have increased the jump-back interval. I always felt it was too long to begin with. Now it's ridiculous. I guess more old people are starting to buy Tivos?

I am also less than thrilled with the new, smaller typefaces for the onscreen guide. Doesn't seem like a whole lot more information is being displayed, so I'm not sure why it needs to be so much smaller. Small type on a TV is never a very good idea.

Re:Why this could be prevented w/ Tivo (1)

dachshund (300733) | more than 13 years ago | (#318613)

I have a sneaking suspicion that Tivo's business model anticipates a) their competitors eventually calling it quits and possibly b) being allowed into cable companies' head-ends as a subscription service. At that point, we'll see a lot more onscreen advertising, restrictions, etc. Microsoft may feel it's worth keeping UltimateTV alive (although I don't see it taking off), but I don't see them doing more than delaying Tivo's plans [for world domination?]

If you and 1,000 of your closest tivo-using friends (see below on the tivo forums) were to threaten to leave them due to a similar complaint

Yes, but we all love our guide information too much to let go of it now... Too bad nobody else operates a compatible server to deliver this info. I'm sure there are DMCA issues, though.

Upgrade problems? (1)

yagi1 (310823) | more than 13 years ago | (#318618)

Pardon me if I am repeating this, but it seems to me that if you don't like the flavour they're serving you don't have to use their service.

It's not like the worst thing that could ever happen to you is that the TV gets turned off, right?

If you don't like the newfangled computer controls on your car, buy an OLD car. If you are too much of a weenie to wrench on your own junk, PAY somebody else to do it. Novel idea I know, but worth considering.

As for cars, so for computers.

Re:Another example. (1)

JohnSmith1138 (313010) | more than 13 years ago | (#318621)

I wasn't the original poster, but if anyone knows about ASFRecorder and goes to google and types "ASFRecorder", your site is #10.

Re:Should have bought a TiVo. :) (1)

tb3 (313150) | more than 13 years ago | (#318622)

("Yer Honor, we used encryption-based screws to keep the contents of the case from being hacked and maliciously opened!"
IBM invented those a few years ago for the PS/2 line. They're called "posix" screws.

Free straight-line above.

Re:Reality (1)

CrackElf (318113) | more than 13 years ago | (#318623)

Is this why microsoft keeps getting more stable every release (like windows 95 ... ever try to install the A version? OR the first release of win2k? Or how about aol with the crappiest interface in the world when it started) ? Software is not being shaken out.With more and more products becoming digital (or digitally driven) this is going to be an issue.

As for your example with the taster: It was once common knowledge that a car with a computer in it was completely ridiculous.

this is what GNU is all about (1)

janpod66 (323734) | more than 13 years ago | (#318626)

This is just the kind of thing that caused Stallman to start the GNU project and create the GPL in the first place: he believes that if you use a piece of software, you should be able to customize it to your tastes; it shouldn't be driven by the convenience, marketing whims, or fashion of whatever commercial company supplied it to you. The hope and intent is that not only you get software that you like, but that in aggregate, the preferences and customizations that people make to software will result in software that is effective and useful to its user community. Of course, 20 years ago, GNU wasn't about what happened to your digital VCR when you pushed a button on your remote control, it was what happened to your editor when you pushed the meta key, but it's roughly the same idea.

Now, you may argue about whether GNU and the GPL is the right way of achieving that and whether Stallman has been a good spokesperson for these kinds of issues. And GNU/GPL won't automatically make software easy to use for the masses of computer users who aren't sufficiently skilled to roll up their sleeves and modify it to their tastes. But, despite all its problems, I have seen no better approach so far than the approach GNU has taken.

It is, of course, ironic that the complaint about ReplayTV comes from someone who has worked for Apple for so long, a company that has taken many positions in the past that were really in conflict with the GNU project (Apple seems to have mellowed more recently, though).

I think (2)

Diplomat73 (323901) | more than 13 years ago | (#318627)

I think that consumers should have the option of wether to buy these features or not. As the article said: Until now, no matter how cynical the software manufacturer's part of the annual upgrade dance, it took two to Tango, and those who didn't want to upgrade anymore could just step off the dance floor. This means that basically they are saying Forgot you! Users never requested a sharp reduction in the functionality of their machines, no notice was given that the machines would be downgraded in this way, and the users, who must of necessity tie to the TV logs to use the device, had no way of avoiding the damage that was done!

when upgrading means the life of the product (1)

MrPants tm (410236) | more than 13 years ago | (#318628)

if your someone who buys software often you are well aquainted with going to the companies website and downloading patches, updates, etc. However what happens when these updates are nessacary for the continued operation of the product. Take the example of Quake 3 Arena While there is a single player mode to the game it is market as an online game. And the only way to keep playing is to install all the patches. What if id decided to charge say $5 for each update. I'm not saying id would but company marketers drooling over this. Think of it. To keep using the product you have to keep paying for it. That is a companies dream. To have an absolute control over its market and to keep that market. Why do comics always have to be continued at the end? So you'll buy the next one. The more they make it necessary for you to buy the next installment the more money they can make. Which brings me back to online products. With continuing changes no one can make perfect software. This keeps the market for patches open. Whether companies making products dependent on patches it is only logical that sooner or later they will begin charging for it. you think thats crazy? What about services calls for your non computer products? Are those free?
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