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The NYT's OS-Restrictive Video Policies

Zonk posted more than 8 years ago | from the could-be-an-oversight dept.

223

ro1 writes to mention a story on Linux.com about the NYT's confusing video policies. Essentially, if you're running Linux you can only see videos running on the front page of the site; videos elsewhere on the site require Windows or OSX. Roblimo has a video tour of the NYT site to explain the issue in detail. (Linux.com and Slashdot are both owned by OSTG.)

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Funny! (4, Insightful)

Whiney Mac Fanboy (963289) | more than 8 years ago | (#15992462)

From the intro to the video:

by Robin "Roblimo" Miller
A Linux/.com/OSTG production

*snort* Production? Using vnc2swf does not make you a producer ;-)

Seriously tho' - roblimo's correct. It's an utterly absurd situation. A linux user should not have to change their UA string (illegal in some jurisdictions) just to watch videos. Why the hell isn't the NYT checking flash versions rather than OS anyway?

Nicely done anyway - and using flash a little flash presentation is a good way to get your point across to the non-techies around (I imagine even a senior editor at the NYT could understand the problem after watching that video).

Re:Funny! (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15992525)

A linux user should not have to change their UA string (illegal in some jurisdictions)
O really? Where?

Re:Funny! (1)

Bromskloss (750445) | more than 8 years ago | (#15992580)

illegal in some jurisdictions
Now _that's_ ridiculous!

Re:Funny! (4, Informative)

Whiney Mac Fanboy (963289) | more than 8 years ago | (#15992639)

Now _that's_ ridiculous!

Yes. However, I think I should have qualified it. I wrote that due to something in the wget man page [linuxselfhelp.com] :

Identify as agent-string to the HTTP server. The HTTP protocol allows the clients to identify themselves using a User-Agent header field. This enables distinguishing the WWW software, usually for statistical purposes or for tracing of protocol violations. Wget normally identifies as `Wget/version', version being the current version number of Wget. However, some sites have been known to impose the policy of tailoring the output according to the User-Agent-supplied information. While conceptually this is not such a bad idea, it has been abused by servers denying information to clients other than Mozilla or Microsoft Internet Explorer. This option allows you to change the User-Agent line issued by Wget. Use of this option is discouraged, unless you really know what you are doing. NOTE that Netscape Communications Corp. has claimed that false transmissions of `Mozilla' as the User-Agent are a copyright infringement, which will be prosecuted. DO NOT misrepresent Wget as Mozilla.

However - that item is not in the current version of wget, so who knows.

Interesting hoever, that netscape at least at one point in time claimed copyright on "Mozilla" in a UA string.

Re:Funny! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15992661)

I think I should have qualified it. I wrote that due to something in the wget man page:
[...]
NOTE that Netscape Communications Corp. has claimed that false transmissions of `Mozilla' as the User-Agent are a copyright infringement, which will be prosecuted. DO NOT misrepresent Wget as Mozilla.


This is not illegal. Regardless of what Netscape (or its current owners) would like you to do, the worst that would happen is that it would be a civil case and Netscape would need to demonstrate in court that they were damaged by you using a stupid string in a user-agent header.
 

Re:Funny! (2, Informative)

1u3hr (530656) | more than 8 years ago | (#15992712)

NOTE that Netscape Communications Corp. has claimed that false transmissions of `Mozilla' as the User-Agent are a copyright infringement, which will be prosecuted. DO NOT misrepresent Wget as Mozilla.

That's total bullshit. You can't copyright a single word. (Trademark is another thing; but many browsers say "Mozilla compatible" and that can't be illegal as there is no attempt to say that it actually IS Mozilla.)

Re:Funny! (1)

EJB (9167) | more than 8 years ago | (#15992599)

Now that's funny. I've got a browser here from a really big software firm that claims in its UA string that it is actually its primary competitor.

User-Agent: Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 6.0; Windows NT 5.1; SV1; .NET CLR 1.1 .4322)

So you are saying that they could be prosecuted in some jurisdictions? :-)

Erwin

What's with. . . (0)

NetRAVEN5000 (905777) | more than 8 years ago | (#15992633)

What's with the Slashdot mods always adding "such-and-such is also owned by OSTG"? Does that add anything to the article/summary? Does someone actually care who it's owned by?

Re:What's with. . . (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15992660)

Probably to avoid conflict-of-interest accusations; they can't be accused of covertly directing /. page views to their sibling sites if they're overtly directing /. page views to their sibling sites.

Re:What's with. . . (2, Informative)

SolarCanine (892620) | more than 8 years ago | (#15992793)

It's called full disclosure, and it's pretty standard when dealing with a "reputable" journalism source.

Where is spoofing user agent illegal???? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15992648)

A linux user should not have to change their UA string (illegal in some jurisdictions)...

Uh?? Any pointer, link, proof of this?

Thanks

Re:Where is spoofing user agent illegal???? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15992663)

"Uh?? Any pointer, link, proof of this?"

Read the thread. You're the 10th person to ask & its been answered

Re:Funny! (4, Funny)

suv4x4 (956391) | more than 8 years ago | (#15992709)

Seriously tho' - roblimo's correct. It's an utterly absurd situation. A linux user should not have to change their UA string (illegal in some jurisdictions) just to watch videos. Why the hell isn't the NYT checking flash versions rather than OS anyway?

I thought if something ever runs on Linux without additional configuration, compilation and hacketry, the universe would implode from the created paradox.

Sorry to threadjack question re. OS (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15992465)

When Apple announced their Mac mini last week for US$499, it caught my eye. Wanting to buy/build a small PC for my already cramped breakfast bar, I started pricing out similar PC hardware. The results startled me. It was very difficult to price a PC as small (6.5" x 6.5" x 2") as the Mac mini with comparable equipment cheaper than the Mac mini. Indeed, most of the configurations I found were more than the humble $499 of the Mac, often much more. To match price I often had to configure with a much bigger shuttle-style case. What computers are currently on the market to compete with this? When my wife asks for the 'cute little Mac', what PC can I buy instead that will take up as little space and do as much for the same price (or less)?

Re:Sorry to threadjack question re. OS (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15992487)

Post your questions to Ask Slashdot next time and do not threadcrap here.

If you need a compact desktop, get a cheap HP or Dell laptop. Or check Walmart; they all offer low-spec laptops for under $500: less than a mini+display Gnome can be made to look like OS X if needed.

Re:Sorry to threadjack question re. OS (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15992504)

Try this [dell.com]

Smaller, cheaper, comes with a screen.

Dumb troll.

NY Times, or Linux? (0)

shird (566377) | more than 8 years ago | (#15992470)

This sounds more like a bug with Linux/flash under linux, than with NY Times itself.

Apparently changing the UA string doesn't make a difference.. surely this would suggest to you a bug with the implementation of videos/flash etc under Linux than some kind of crazy consipracy.

Re:NY Times, or Linux? (5, Insightful)

pembo13 (770295) | more than 8 years ago | (#15992496)

How does any client side bug set their policy. Their policy clearly leaves out Linux users, and I am refering to their system requirements page. Also, how would they go about detecting a bug with the clients Linux/Flash player in the first place. This seems like an if-else where Linux falls into the else.

The only real question is if this was purposely done or not. I myself have seen my fair share of website that simply do not combinations of Linux and non-IE browsers for no obvious technical reason.

In the NY Times defense however, it's their site, they can do what they want, provided they give their Linux using subscribers a refund on their subscription fee.

Re:NY Times, or Linux? (1)

babbling (952366) | more than 8 years ago | (#15992717)

it's their site, they can do what they want

I'm not convinced that's the case. If I own a carpark, should I be allowed to turn away people based on what car they drive? If I own a hotel, should I be allowed to turn away people based on their religion? I don't think so.

The NYT website is a website being made available to the general public. Is there a reason why they should be allowed to discriminate against certain people based on something irrelevant?

Re:NY Times, or Linux? (1, Flamebait)

geminidomino (614729) | more than 8 years ago | (#15992741)

I'm not convinced that's the case. If I own a carpark, should I be allowed to turn away people based on what car they drive?

Why not? If you think you can make more money by only letting people driving Lexus, Beamers, and Mercedes in and charging $10/hr since you keep the riff-raff out, I'd say go for it.

If I own a hotel, should I be allowed to turn away people based on their religion? I don't think so.

You *should* be allowed to. That you're not is just one more example of a bad law.

The NYT website is a website being made available to the general public. Is there a reason why they should be allowed to discriminate against certain people based on something irrelevant?

Because they don't want you there seems like a perfectly valid reason to me.

Re:NY Times, or Linux? (1)

giorgiofr (887762) | more than 8 years ago | (#15992832)

Agreed 100%. It's funny how people advocating such "let's not allow them to do X" attitude have some qualms applying the same concept to themselves. "Hey can I enter your house?" "No, who are you anyway?" "OMGZ discrimination!!!111oneone!"

Re:NY Times, or Linux? (1)

Short Circuit (52384) | more than 8 years ago | (#15992745)

If I own a carpark, should I be allowed to turn away people based on what car they drive? If I own a hotel, should I be allowed to turn away people based on their religion?

Sure, if the car's weight can cause damage to your park. (For instance, motorcycle kickstands can leave dents in tar parking lots on hot summer days.) Also, some vehicles are so wide as to make it difficult to use parking spaces adjacent to them, which means they're using more than their alloted one space. And then, of course, there's height clearance issues.

As for hotels and religion, why not? If the swingers' club and the church group spend their time heckling each other, you might be faced with demands for refunds. If the two groups break out into a brawl, you'd have failed in your responsibilities to your customers' health.

As for how this applies to NYT videos and Linux, perhaps they're worried about content-copying servers and unauthorized news aggregating websites. Last I checked, it was cheaper (and thus more profitable) to script those things with a few simple Linux tools than to buy Windows software that does it for you.

Re:NY Times, or Linux? (1)

spauldo (118058) | more than 8 years ago | (#15992751)

If I own a carpark, should I be allowed to turn away people based on what car they drive?

Yes. You have the right to run your business however you want, given that:

If I own a hotel, should I be allowed to turn away people based on their religion?

Generally, no. There's areas you aren't allowed to discriminate, and religion is one of them. There's exceptions, of course - the boy scouts at least used to require faith in a monotheistic religion, for example - but it's best to stay away from it unless you want your ass sued.

Re:NY Times, or Linux? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15992517)

This sounds more like a bug with Linux/flash under linux, than with NY Times itself.

No, the NYT site explicitly tests the platform type and only sends swt to ones its brain-damaged programmer chose to favor. As to why this is inconsistently applied, I'd guess that we're seeing typical shoddy work from the said b-d p.

Re:NY Times, or Linux? (2, Informative)

kripkenstein (913150) | more than 8 years ago | (#15992569)

Apparently changing the UA string doesn't make a difference.. surely this would suggest to you a bug with the implementation of videos/flash etc under Linux

The point is that videos from the front page do work fine under Linux. So there is no reason to prevent other videos from working.

Re:NY Times, or Linux? (3, Insightful)

babbling (952366) | more than 8 years ago | (#15992589)

No, changing the useragent string DOES work! This is plain and simple discrimination against anyone using software that isn't from Microsoft/Apple.

I recommend letting the NYTimes know you're not happy about them not supporting Linux (and preferably Ogg Vorbis/Theora) in a language that everyone can understand...

president@nytimes.com; publisher@nytimes.com; public@nytimes.com; feedback@nytimes.com; clarosa@nytimes.com; schools@nytimes.com; wedinfo@nytimes.com; society@nytimes.com; nytnews@nytimes.com; executive-editor@nytimes.com; managing-editor@nytimes.com; news-tips@nytimes.com; the-arts@nytimes.com; bizday@nytimes.com; foreign@nytimes.com; metro@nytimes.com; national@nytimes.com; sports@nytimes.com; washington@nytimes.com; editorial@nytimes.com; oped@nytimes.com; circulation@nytimes.com

Re:NY Times, or Linux? (1)

chodo (849037) | more than 8 years ago | (#15992698)

That is definately wrong. If I change the User Agent string, it solves this ridicoulus problem. However, you seem to haven't even seen the video or tried to access the videos under Linux. The Situation is totally clear. Btw, do you really know, what a User Agent string is?

A big, fat, so what. (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15992471)

Well considering slashdot's attitude towards NYT concerning their registration policy.* Why should we concern ourselves with their video policies?

*BugMeNot for example.

Alternatives (1)

jlebrech (810586) | more than 8 years ago | (#15992489)

Cant the site just let you in, and if the flash video files do not work then have and alternate image to the flash file. this should be an easy DHTML task and no useless javascript coding.

Why dont they just have a "do you see this video page" where you can still continue if you do see the video.

Re:Alternatives (2, Interesting)

pembo13 (770295) | more than 8 years ago | (#15992500)

That's how things used to be, with webmasters making use of the NOEMBED tag. I personally do not understand the benifit of this screening process.

Re:Alternatives (1)

babbling (952366) | more than 8 years ago | (#15992595)

Yes, they could do that. That's exactly the point. Instead of doing that, they have chosen to discriminate based on what software people are using.

Karma Whoring (4, Informative)

Aqws (932918) | more than 8 years ago | (#15992492)

For everyone using firefox, here's a nice little extension [mozilla.org] to get past this stuff. You can also set it as a googlebot and get all their articles for free.

Re:Karma Whoring (2, Informative)

Aqws (932918) | more than 8 years ago | (#15992506)

Ok, nevermind, RTFA, the parent is incorrect

Re:Karma Whoring (1)

Bob54321 (911744) | more than 8 years ago | (#15992510)

I see.... definitely not a demonstation of karma whoring at its best!

PrefBar (1)

antdude (79039) | more than 8 years ago | (#15992658)

PrefBar [mozdev.org] has one too, but I think its UA list is outdated. Does anyone have a full list of UA so I can change my list?

Re:Karma Whoring (1)

donaldm (919619) | more than 8 years ago | (#15992777)

This does get around the issue, however all you are doing is create a different problem.

Picture this. All FireFox/Mozilla users use the agent switcher and one day the IT manager of the particular firm goes before his boss and states that 99% of all users trying to access their web page are using IE5 and IE6 since that is what their logs report (Note: He's not lying). Now put yourself in the bosses shoes since he has to make recommendations on what web browsers that the site will support and what does he say and what actually gets supported.

Great incentive to get a web designer not to support FireFox.

My attitude when FireFox cannot display a web page is to say "stuff it" and go elsewhere. This does get logged and if enough FireFox/Mozilla users did this more web sites would support their browser.

Re:Karma Whoring (1)

massysett (910130) | more than 8 years ago | (#15992829)

I would never regularly use such a tool. I'm proud to use Linux and won't hide it. But I installed the extension, changed my user agent to IE6/XP, and went to nytimes.com. Firefox instantly crashed and quit. I repeated; same result. Changed user agent to default, and no more crash.

Wow. (1)

Sensae (961755) | more than 8 years ago | (#15992501)

That is crazy, especially that it would matter to the NYT. Companies that force you to see their content in only a certain way irk me, especially sites that are specifically designed to keep you from using Firefox. I just decide if they're going to have a restrictive policy, I can just not view their website.

Re:Wow. (4, Interesting)

X43B (577258) | more than 8 years ago | (#15992515)

The NYT is not alone. I was signing up for a UFB Direct online bank account and the application froze. I called the 800 number and they immediately said, "you used Firefox, didn't you?". Yes I did and they only support IE. For goodness sake they are a ONLINE BANK and they don't support a browser with 10%+ market share? Can you imagine if they had someone at a brick and mortar store and they threw out every 10th person who walked through?

I call shenanigans!

Re:Wow. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15992532)

Can you imagine if they had someone at a brick and mortar store and they threw out every 10th person who walked through?
Yes I can. If mcdonalds ever becomes as powerful as microsoft is today, they will see to it that there be automatic doors everywhere, and that they don't work for non-overweight people.

Re:Wow. (4, Insightful)

pesc (147035) | more than 8 years ago | (#15992690)

I called the 800 number and they immediately said, "you used Firefox, didn't you?". Yes I did and they only support IE.

What does it tell you when your bank only supports the least secure browser and won't do business with people who prefer more security?

Re:Wow. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15992727)

What about "suck it up and use IE or find yourself another bank"? It's not like you're their only customer and IE is THE standard for many business. Deal with it.

Re:Wow. (3, Insightful)

paulyche (970668) | more than 8 years ago | (#15992779)

I thought this http://www.w3.org/Consortium/ [w3.org] was the standard.
Why should everyone just meekly accept everything that is thrust upon them?

Re:Wow. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15992848)

I thought this http://www.w3.org/Consortium/ [w3.org] [w3.org] was the standard.

Well, you could code to that standard and not having it work in any browsers.

Re:Wow. (0, Flamebait)

suv4x4 (956391) | more than 8 years ago | (#15992716)

I called the 800 number and they immediately said, "you used Firefox, didn't you?". Yes I did and they only support IE.

They only support secure browsers.

Re:Wow. (3, Insightful)

legoburner (702695) | more than 8 years ago | (#15992743)

I called the 800 number and they immediately said, "you used Firefox, didn't you?".

So obviously it is such a common problem that it is one of the first things they say. Hopefully this message will filter through to the higher-ups there and they are (considering?) working on a solution.

Re:Wow. (1, Troll)

advocate_one (662832) | more than 8 years ago | (#15992767)

Can you imagine if they had someone at a brick and mortar store and they threw out every 10th person who walked through?

they do that anyway... credit scoring... "no, you can't have an account with us... you're too poor... you don't borrow enough... you pay off your credit cards in full every month... you defaulted on a loan six years ago..."

Re:Wow. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15992825)

Wanna bet they only support IE6, AND NOT IE7?

I Kid You Not (2, Interesting)

CheeseburgerBrown (553703) | more than 8 years ago | (#15992836)

I had a similar experience with a bank some years ago. When I came in to explain to my personal banking unit that my browser kept crashing when I tried to access their online offerings, she immediately said, "You're using an Apple PC, right?"

"Yes," I admit quietly, just in case some hicks are listening and might want to drag me behind their pick-up truck or otherwise hassle me for my alternative lifestyle choice.

"The thing is," the personal banking unit explained, "the Apple computers have such a small share of the market that it costs too much for us to develop a secure website in parallel."

"That's too bad," I sigh.

"Yeah," she agrees, "it seems like every third person who wants to do online banking has an Apple."

I pause and scratch my head. "I thought you said there weren't enough of us to make it worth your while."

"Well yeah," she nods, "but I think it must be easier to get on the Internet with Apple or something, because it seems like almost everybody who's comfortable doing online banking wants to use an Apple for it."

"So doesn't that mean there's a demand for a Mac-compatible service?"

"Well no," she shakes her head, "you see Apple has less than a billionth of percent of marketshare. So...you know -- that's that. Sorry!"

So, to make a long story short, that's when I entered a special Scientology-run programme designed to cure me using non-psychiatric means of my penchant for using the wrong computer. And I feel much better now.

Re:Wow. (-1, Redundant)

babbling (952366) | more than 8 years ago | (#15992601)

Yeah, exactly... but you might also like to let them know why you're not using their website:

president@nytimes.com; publisher@nytimes.com; public@nytimes.com; feedback@nytimes.com; clarosa@nytimes.com; schools@nytimes.com; wedinfo@nytimes.com; society@nytimes.com; nytnews@nytimes.com; executive-editor@nytimes.com; managing-editor@nytimes.com; news-tips@nytimes.com; the-arts@nytimes.com; bizday@nytimes.com; foreign@nytimes.com; metro@nytimes.com; national@nytimes.com; sports@nytimes.com; washington@nytimes.com; editorial@nytimes.com; oped@nytimes.com; circulation@nytimes.com

Videos "further down" the site... (2, Funny)

RuBLed (995686) | more than 8 years ago | (#15992508)

...contains scripts that take advantage of unpatched exploits in Windows and Mac OS X that would send to NYT copies of all the gossips you send thru the internet. So far, there is little progress on the native Linux version. If you're an avid programmer of FOSS and would like to know what gossips you're girlfrie... errr I mean your CEO are spreading about you contact as at careers@nyt.com

ahem (4, Insightful)

rucs_hack (784150) | more than 8 years ago | (#15992511)

I'm 'Needless Paranioa' and I aprove of this message.

I'm sorry, but what? All I can see is that their current online video authoring package isn't very good, and they don't want to have people who's OS doesn't support it thinking that there's a bug with their site.

Ok, it's not a good plan to not have it working in linux, but lets be honest, how many of the people working at nyt have anything but windows at their desk? I'm guessing none, with possibly a few macs about the place.
For that matter, how many users will be on linux? Not many I'll wager. Sad, but almost certainly true. Therefore this problem will effect only a very small minority of their readers.

The chances are that most people here use linux (me included). However, we are still in the minority, and we don't have persuasive reps loaded with free pens going round selling authoring packages and other web software to newspapers.
While that's the case, linux will get the short straw.

Re:ahem (2, Insightful)

babbling (952366) | more than 8 years ago | (#15992613)

First of all, since when is discrimination okay as long as you are only discriminating against a minority?

Secondly, Linux is Free Software. Not just the operating system core, but graphics applications, an office suite, and so on. Don't underestimate the ability of Free Software to spread once people start to find out about it. See Firefox as an example. I predict that Ubuntu is about to become "cool" and take off in the same way Firefox did. It will happen sooner or later.

Re:ahem (1)

giorgiofr (887762) | more than 8 years ago | (#15992695)

Since it's their own frigging website and they can whatever they feel like doing with it, including restricting access to those who know the answers to the Three Secret Questions or those who wear purple underwear. It's not oike you have some intrinsic "right" to access their content.
Don't like it? Make your own and set your own restrictions.

Re:ahem (1)

babbling (952366) | more than 8 years ago | (#15992707)

I don't think this is as clear cut as you would like people to believe it is. This is called discrimination. Unlike most forms of discrimination, they are not discriminating against people based on their racial background or religion, but we need to ask ourselves whether or not that matters.

The New York Times does get to decide what goes on their site, but should they be allowed to purposely discriminate against users based on what software they use? I'm not convinced that they should be allowed to.

Re:ahem (1)

giorgiofr (887762) | more than 8 years ago | (#15992824)

Whereas I'm convinced that their website is their property and you have no right and no reason, really, to force them to follow your diktat. Please remember that their freedom to discriminate against you is the same freedom YOU have to keep people you don't like out of your home. Freedom goes both ways and that's a good thing.
Frankly with all the antidiscrimination laws being passed right and left (at least in my country), I am worried that soon there will be special "marriage quotas" or something similar, *forcing* people to get into a relationship with minorities, handicapped... all the usual categories that are discriminated against. "Sorry sir, your group hasn't reached its married-with-minorities quota, you can't get married with your g/f until you hir^H^H^H get married with at least...". If you think of it, it makes perfect sense. The reasoning goes as follows: they have a *right* to a job, to access facilities (well, like everyone else); *therefore* we should make special laws because of justice for all or whatever local version; *thus* it makes sense to make sure they fully enjoy the same life as everyone else, and that includes granting access to being in a couple (hey, statistically they enjoy less relationships than those not in such minorities ATM). Before you brand me as a lunatic I can tell you that it's already happening: some kinds of couple get special treatment from the government while other ones do not. I happen to fall into that category BTW (well I used to until I broke up w/ my gf) yet I strongly oppose all of this... We were supposed to be the same before the law, to enjoy the same treatment in everything - that is the exact opposite of what is happening. Sometimes I have acted in a racist way, sometimes I have been the target of racism, sometimes I benefited from "special treatment" from the govt, sometimes I had to suffer for someone else... This is all wrong. It wouldn't happen if only the govt weren't so keen on "enforcing equality".
Anyway, to sum it up: yes this *is* discrimination, but I don't think any kind of govt should get involved with the private choices of a privately run organization which provides services to private citizens and/or commercial entities. If a charity provides help to some specific very oppressed black minority, don't you call that discrimination as well? I remember "discriminate" meant "to choose" originally.

Re:ahem (1)

babbling (952366) | more than 8 years ago | (#15992837)

I also am not a fan of laws that cause certain groups to receive special treatment.

In this case, I'm suggesting that the NY Times has a moral responsibility to treat everyone THE SAME way, though! You're confusing two separate issues.

Re:ahem (1)

richlv (778496) | more than 8 years ago | (#15992747)

soooo....
could they discriminate against black people ? against white poeple ?
against homosexuals ? against lesbians ?
against christians ? against muslims ?

it's their site, right ? for a taxi driver, it's his taxi. for a restourant owner it's his restoran. and so on.

Re:ahem (1)

giorgiofr (887762) | more than 8 years ago | (#15992792)

Of course, it's their property. I guess you would have no problems simply allowing anyone and everyone to enter your house, right? That would be discrimination, I suppose.
As a matter of fact, a restaurant owner can (and soetimes will) throw out obnoxious patrons or refuse access to street bums. Do you have a problem letting people do what they like with their own property?

Re:ahem (1)

richlv (778496) | more than 8 years ago | (#15992806)

first, don't mix up private property with publicly accessible areas. there is a distinction in laws )at least in most countries :) ).

second, throwing out somebody from a restaurant usually is based on behaviour. i'd like to see you throwing out people based on their skin colour or religious beliefs. or try throwing out disabled people. as, you know, it's your property.

Re:ahem (1)

giorgiofr (887762) | more than 8 years ago | (#15992845)

Hey I never said that they are allowed by the law to do it... Just one more example of a stupid law. Besides... In my country discos and pubs most always have a different status than eg restaurants, they have the "club" status which means they can keep you out for any reason or no reason. Precisely because it's their property. If they are kind enough to let you in, you can enter... and give them lots of money for the dubious privilege :)
Anyways, I would probably not discriminate against people based on their skin color if I had a club. I'd be more worried about keeping streetrats out. You see I have this problem... I recognize other people's freedom to do as they like with their property even when it's something I dislike.

Re:ahem (1)

aussie_a (778472) | more than 8 years ago | (#15992796)

I agree. And another thing, bus companies should be allowed to say where people sit on their bus. And if a bus company wants the black people sitting at the black while the clean people sit at the front, well it's their bus so it's their god given right to do what they want. Damn them liberals for making bus companies allow blacks to sit wherever they want in buses. All those liberals should be burnt at the stake.

Re:ahem (1)

adamofgreyskull (640712) | more than 8 years ago | (#15992676)

All I can see is that their current online video authoring package isn't very good
From TFA..and yes, even from TFS, videos on the NYT's site's front page work just fine under GNU/Linux/Firefox/Macromedia Flashplayer Plugin. If they have a current online video authoring package that is good enough to produce videos for all on the front page, why not use it on the rest of the site?

Ok, it's not a good plan to not have it working in linux, but lets be honest, how many of the people working at nyt have anything but windows at their desk?
If the restriction is purely technical, then they must have some means to determine which flashplayer/OS/browser combos work with which videos. They obviously take all the fully compliant videos and put them on the front page and put any others elsewhere on the site...oh wait, that makes no sense.

You may be right saying this will only affect a small percentage of people, but this is completely arbitrary. It could work for firefox/GNU/Linux as proved by the videos on the front page.

Re:ahem (1)

pesc (147035) | more than 8 years ago | (#15992677)

All I can see is that their current online video authoring package isn't very good, and they don't want to have people who's OS doesn't support it thinking that there's a bug with their site.

By not supporting standards and by intentionally crippling operating systems that can deal with their site, I'm fully convinced there is a bug with their site. Can't they just stop putting energy into doing this crap?

Re:ahem (2, Insightful)

rucs_hack (784150) | more than 8 years ago | (#15992704)

I strongly suspect that stupidity is the main reason for this problem, not a deliberate plan.

Re:ahem (1)

Captain_Chaos (103843) | more than 8 years ago | (#15992797)

I'm sorry, but what? All I can see is that their current online video authoring package isn't very good, and they don't want to have people who's OS doesn't support it thinking that there's a bug with their site.

Did you even watch the video? The whole point of it is that the video player does work on Linux, since the videos on the NYT front page work. There are no technical reasons why the videos are not displayed to Linux users, only (one has to assume) political.

Re:ahem (1)

rucs_hack (784150) | more than 8 years ago | (#15992816)

I did watch the video, yes. And beforeI'd had my second cup of coffee, a major acheivement.

It will be their package of web services/application that has that message. I imagine that it isn't certain to work on linux, so they just said it won't ever. Then they won't (or rather hope they won't) have problems when it doesn't work.

They have a subscriber service too. So if the subscribers didn't get such a warning, they might get all legal if stuff doesn't work.

America is the land of improbable warnings after all. My sister came over from there a few months back, and the pram she brought over was laden with the stupidest set of warnings I'd ever seen. I'm told putting warnings on everything is a defensive measure.

NYT's target audience... (4, Funny)

jkrise (535370) | more than 8 years ago | (#15992524)

Apparently this is NYT's way of saying that if you're smart enough to be using Linux, and diligent enough to go beyond the front page, then New York Times isn't meant for you! It could be their strategy to cater to only the dumber sections of the poulace, perhaps?

Re:NYT's target audience... (1)

RuBLed (995686) | more than 8 years ago | (#15992536)

I believe some of us (including me) just browsed NYT's frontpage a few minutes ago. :) Too bad the article's author was the one NYT "catered" first, before us.

Re:NYT's target audience... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15992542)

Absolutely. That's why we have Fox News.

Effort & Priorities (5, Insightful)

corychristison (951993) | more than 8 years ago | (#15992529)

As a web developer I'd like to say that it would take more effort to restrict browsers/operating systems than to accomodate for them.

Seems as though they have their priorities a little backwards.
Stupid f**king people these days.

Re:Effort & Priorities (2, Insightful)

legoburner (702695) | more than 8 years ago | (#15992752)

Indeed, the amount of time that has been spent making pages around the web that detect your browser or flash version using assumptions about old oooold versions and then blocking you from the actual content is time wasted. in 99% of cases (everything but activex) the protected areas will work without any problem in recent versions of firefox/flash player. It gets tiring having to look in the source to figure out where you are supposed to go to get to content that has been needlessly locked out from you.

Big deal (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15992555)

If you dont like their product/service dont buy/use it.

Shop elsewhere.

I suggest all Linux users boycott the NY Times, they're sure to be bankrupt in weeks! That'll show em.

I can't make it clear enough, if you dont like it go somewhere else.

It's THEIR product/service, THEY can do as they please with it.

If you had an orange squeezer and where in my store and buying oranges and you discover they dont fit your squeezer, you dont come back to me with a song and wardance about them not fitting, you either buy a bigger squeezer or buy smaller oranges.

If you dont like my product, shop elsewhere.

IT'S THAT SIMPLE!

Re:Big deal (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15992740)

This is the web, it's for everyone. If you can't understand that, perhaps the web is not for you.

IT'S THAT SIMPLE!

Re:Big deal (1)

hobbez (661434) | more than 8 years ago | (#15992750)

Problem with this is, he paid the subscription. And as the front page is normally seen as the "advertisement" of a newspaper, he incorrectly believed that whatever "worked" on the frontpage would work everywhere in the paper...err online pages....

Re:Big deal (3, Insightful)

babbling (952366) | more than 8 years ago | (#15992774)

It's THEIR product/service, THEY can do as they please with it. ...
IT'S THAT SIMPLE!


Uhh... yeah, thanks, but it's not really THAT simple.

Are you religious? Yes, no? How would you feel if you got barred from a restaurant based on whether or not you're religious?

What sort of car do you drive? How would you feel if you paid for a carpark but then got turned away because they don't accept your type of car, despite the fact that you could easily have fit into one of the parking spaces?

Re:Big deal (1)

martalli (818692) | more than 8 years ago | (#15992812)

This is much closer to the car park example. In some ways, it is even more ridiculous than the religious example, because there is simply no reason to turn away the Linux users. Of course, one caveat is that they don't want people calling saying "I have debian potato and I can't watch your videos", but I don't think this is the general Linux approach to the problem (calling a newspapers tech support) -- after all, Roblimo appears to have complained to /. rather than calling NYT!

Re:Big deal (1)

SolarCanine (892620) | more than 8 years ago | (#15992817)

Okay, you're about the fourth commenter to spout the "what if this was about RELIGION?" quip in this discussion.

IANAL, but in the US, discrimination based on religious preference is a protected class by law.

Again, IANAL, but I don't believe that discrimination based on user-agent strings is protected in the same way.

Please take your straw man and his little buddies and go be melodramatic elsewhere. Discrimination sucks, but is nowhere near illegal. At best it is immoral, and even that is questionable.

I have no problem with a restaurant requiring a jacket and tie for a patron to receive service. I have no problem with a restaurant requiring reservations for service. I have no problem with a nightclub having a 25-and-over age restriction.

And honestly, I have no problem with the NYT limiting their content to whomever they see fit. The news is available elsewhere, and I'll avail myself of it from their competitiors.

Let's make an attempt to not turn every issue on /. into a "What about the children?", hm?

Re:Big deal (3, Funny)

ArsenneLupin (766289) | more than 8 years ago | (#15992834)

Again, IANAL, but I don't believe that discrimination based on user-agent strings is protected in the same way.

So then just put "I'm a catholic" (or whatever your religion is...) into your user-agent, and when NYT's videobot refuses you, sue away!

Re:Big deal (1)

SolarCanine (892620) | more than 8 years ago | (#15992839)

Okay, you made me laugh. I'd mod that funny if I had the points, but instead, just my thanks for an early morning chuckle will have to suffice. Well played, indeed, well played.

Re:Big deal (1)

matthew5 (916509) | more than 8 years ago | (#15992801)

If you dont like their product/service dont buy/use it. Shop elsewhere.
I agree, but after telling them politely why so that they have a chance to change if they want our business. I sent the following email to: president@nytimes.com; publisher@nytimes.com; feedback@nytimes.com; marketing@nytimes.com
Dear sirs, I'm sure this was an oversight, and probably not an intentional one. There are several people in the world, myself included, that do not use Windows or Macintosh for their computer operating system. However, we still use the internet for much of our news. We use an operating system called Linux. Your website does not allow itself to be browsed using Linux. According to this page on your site: http://video.on.nytimes.com/faq/inde...d50be95e3:7 8f1 [nytimes.com] only Windows and Macintosh are supported. It would not be difficult to change this and allow more potential users to appreciate the quality of your product. I refer you to this page on the BBC web site as an example: http://www.bbc.co.uk/accessibility/ [bbc.co.uk] I hope you will take this into consideration. Thank you.

Whatever you do. Do not run this script (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15992559)

while [ 1 ]; do wget -o /dev/null \-O ~/tempfile  http://www.nytimes.com/  && rm ~/tempfile ; done

So what? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15992566)

It's not as if it matters if Linux can't view the videos.

Everyone knows that Linux sucks (for desktop users, let's be honest here), and virtually no-one outside of the geek crowd bothers with it, so why invest the time to deal with Linux support? The investment would not be justified. Common sense people.

Posting AC because the truth hurts.

Re:So what? (1)

andymadigan (792996) | more than 8 years ago | (#15992602)

No investment is required, the videos play on linux, just switch off browser detection or whitelist linux.

roblimo (0, Offtopic)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 8 years ago | (#15992582)

Roblimo [youtube.com] has the distinction of being an even worse spokesman than ESR or RMS.

He's like a child molesting uncle nobody wants to acknowledge. Except in this bizarro universe that is slashdot, he's idolized and revered.

Re:roblimo (1)

tonigonenstein (912347) | more than 8 years ago | (#15992637)

Not to mention that he runs Windows XP on his laptop.

Different Technology for the video page? (1)

Platinum1 (519177) | more than 8 years ago | (#15992586)

I assume there is some way to spoof the OS response in FireFox to return a Windows response regardless of the actual operating system. Has anyone tried this? I haven't used the NY Times video service, but maybe they use a different technology for the video page (i.e. not macromedia) than the front page. Although it sounds like a dumb idea, perhaps it has DRM, or uses a different technology that requires Windows Media Player.

In either case, it is simply be poor website design to use browers/OS detection to redirect to an "error" page. If there is an incompatibility, let it be shown as best it can instead of denying access. Or even better, use open standards to prevent the problem in the first place. Preventing paying customers from accessing their site reflects poorly on the NY Times technical and web development staff.

Re:Different Technology for the video page? (1)

babbling (952366) | more than 8 years ago | (#15992615)

This is entirely possible and it works. The problem is not that Linux users can't do this, the problem is that the NYTimes is attempting to block them.

Re:Different Technology for the video page? (1)

martalli (818692) | more than 8 years ago | (#15992808)

CNN uses windows media on their free video. I had thought this was 'dead to me'. With my recent switch to ubuntu 6.06 and lazy installation of the non-free goodies with automatix, I can now watch those CNN videos of cats in trees and stars goofy clothes, if I care to.

Just to quash any rumors to the contrary... (5, Informative)

andymadigan (792996) | more than 8 years ago | (#15992594)

I just set my User Agent in Firefox 1.5.0.5/Ubuntu Linux 6.06 to Opera 8.0/Win 2000, after whitelisting the site with flashblock, the video played perfectly in the Videos section, and I wasn't shooed away by any browser detection.

Re:Just to quash any rumors to the contrary... (1)

NuMessiah (7486) | more than 8 years ago | (#15992628)

Well, I can only confirm it with SuSE 10.0/Firefox 1.5.0.5, using User Agent Switcher 0.6.8 to switch to IE6/Win XP (one of the default UA Strings of UAS).

And, yes!, it's legal where I'm surfin' from ...

Videos section shows and plays just fine ...

Re:Just to quash any rumors to the contrary... (1)

andymadigan (792996) | more than 8 years ago | (#15992718)

I googled around and found an xml file of importables, for some reason IE 6/Win didn't work for me, could be flashblock related though (I didn't try whitelisting until I used the Opera UA). I find it odd that Opera is supported but not Firefox/Linux.

If (1)

Ethan Allison (904983) | more than 8 years ago | (#15992616)

If they support Unix, then they'd get people who had a bad or esoteric configuration whining "But my computer can't play this video!". Better safe than sorry.

There's just no real reason for them to spend time investing in an OS that has bad netvideo support (no Flash 8+) that roughly 1 in 250 people (see http://www.currybet.net/articles/user_agents/2.php [currybet.net] for more info) use.

Re:If (1)

LilWolf (847434) | more than 8 years ago | (#15992652)

That doesn't mean they should prevent Linux users from trying to see the videos without changing how their browser identifies itself. They could have just put in a notice saying "Linux is unsupported. The videos might work or have some bugs or not work at all. We will not offer support to Linux users on this issue. Good luck." and let the user go and have a try if the videos work.

Re:If (2, Informative)

arkhan_jg (618674) | more than 8 years ago | (#15992682)

Those statistics are for the bbc homepage only, for one week in september 2005. He even states that he expects an above average number of people visiting the front page are newer-to-the-internet users (because they haven't bookmarked the inside section they want yet), and those on corporate systems as the bbc is deemed 'safe' to visit from work. This is based on their user profiling in the past.

Both of those would depress the number of alternative OS and browser users. You also have to factor in the number of linux users that have already altered their Useragent string to windows+IE in order to bypass moronic page restrictions like the NYT. Windows+IE native users of course, have very little need to alter theirs.

Finally, that was a year ago. Vista still isn't out, and I wouldn't be at all surprised if both the numbers for OSX and linux were up, and of course firefox adoption - especially given an increasing number of corporates are adopting it for security. Certainly, the broad sweep of those figures is reasonable (I wouldn't expect linux use to be above 2% in those circumstances) but I wouldn't count on them as completely gospel of the current OS and browser useage for general users.

Re:If (2, Insightful)

Jussi K. Kojootti (646145) | more than 8 years ago | (#15992696)

Situation now: every NYT customer on linux whines.
Situation if they didn't block linux: only people with bad or esoteric configurations whine.

Please advice how the first option is better? Remember that NYT is not obligated to "support" anyone any more than they do now (do you think they don't get calls from windows users with fucked computers all the time?)

flash videos? (1)

FudRucker (866063) | more than 8 years ago | (#15992687)

lately i seen a few flash videos lock up firefox on Linux and cause the CPU to run @ 100%. i dont know if it is just a bug or if somebody is trying to intentionally cause a buffer overflow in order to do something else - insert arbitrary code?, gain root access? who knows, anyhow, flash-7 (the current one) should be disabled by default with NoScript unless you are at a known and trusted site.

Yes it's all annoying, very annoying (1)

suv4x4 (956391) | more than 8 years ago | (#15992697)

But I'm not sure what's more annoying. How NYT cut out Linux users, or that video Linux.com shot which basically went as:

we can see videos on the front page blah blah blah blah blah
now we go in the video section *rants*
now we go to the front page: we can watch videos blah blah blah
now we go in the video section *rants*
but we go on the front page: we can watch videos blah blah blah
now we go in the columnist's video section *rants* ... ...

repeat for more fun.

or you could've just took that smug toned video of linux.com and just asked NYT nicely to please fix their lame code.

oh noes!!! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15992724)

who fucking cares?

I too am getting sick of this (2)

emil10001 (985596) | more than 8 years ago | (#15992807)

It is very aggravating to try to watch some flash video and only see parts of it because whomever created it did so using Flash player 8 or 9. Flash player 8 has been out for at least a year now, and Flash 9 has subsequently been released for windows and osx. Why no new Linux Flash player?

Now, after visiting this site with and without the "Switch User Agent" and being blocked when it was set to Firefox and allowed when set to IE6, I too can see that there seems to be no technical reason for blocking Linux users. For those who say that some users odd configuration may cause them not to be able to view some of the videos, I don't understand why that would be the case as Flash should stand on its own for its content. There may be some lag involved in the worst cases, but I have never come across a Flash 7 video that hasn't worked very well (except the occasional lag in large flash files). I have also viewed Flash videos on several different Linux boxes, including an older P3, all with no troubles.

On a semi-related note (being about Linux compatability for pay services)- I subscribe to Comcast Cable and Internet, we don't have a choice in the location I'm in for cable tv, and recently needed to set up my internet connection. They give you the choice of having their guy do it for $99 or do it yourself for $9. Now, of course, I chose the diy option not only becuase I didn't want to pay the money, but also because I don't want sombody that I don't know getting on my computer. However, Comcast does not support Linux (I run Suse 10). I had to call them up and spend an hour on the phone with them so that they would add the MAC address of my cable modem into their system. Why not just make a browser-based setup that everybody can access, instead of this silly proprietary thing?

Anyways, my point is that it is absolutly rediculous that these situations occur (situations in which there it would take little to no effort to support Linux and that is not done). I mean last I knew, Linux and OSX had a similarly sized market share, so why support one and not the other. I am not willing to give up 15GB+ to install windows, even in a VM (which doesn't help hardware issues), I would rather be using my disk space for something else. Also, I just wanted to mention to those who will surely post that I should be making sure that I check to see if it's Linux compatable before I buy, and I do. The problem is that in certain situations, there is not that luxury of taking your buisiness elsewhere for a comparable product (ie. my cable).

IMHO, if a company is going to be the only choice for some product or service, they really need to support everybody. The argument that "we don't have a linux/unix guy shouldn't fly. They are a service in which the consumer cannot chose an alternative, which means that they are rakin' in the cash, they should be able to scrounge up $50K/yr to get a linux guy if they don't already have one. I'm sick of being in a situation where I am told 'you have to use this service if you want internet,' then the service provider says, 'you have to use this proprietary system if you don't want to us pay $100 to set it up.'

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