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sehlat writes "From the Los Angeles Times comes word of Lancaster, Pennsylvania,
where 165 public surveillance cameras are being set up to be monitored by a "non profit coalition" of volunteers.
The usual suspects, including "the innocent have nothing to fear" are being trotted out to justify this, and the following quote at the end of the article deserves mention.
But Jack Bauer, owner of the city's largest beer and soft drink distributor, calls the network "a great thing." His store hasn't been robbed, he said, since four cameras went up nearby.
"There's nothing wrong with instilling fear," he said.
sehlat (180760) writes "Sony may be dropping DRM, but they're not really going fully online for music distribution. Instead they're setting things up so you still have to buy whole albums via "gift cards" purchased at Best Buy, Target, etc. Does anybody outside Sony really think this will fly?
sehlat (180760) writes "Via BoingBoing. It would appear that the advertising claims for the Western Digital My Book(TM) World Edition(TM) II which include: "Listen to the music on your My Book World Edition drive while you're on vacation." and "Securely access and edit your files on any computer." and "Get files from home while at the office." may be false.
This Support Page specifically says: "Due to unverifiable media license authentication, the following file types cannot be shared by different users using WD Anywhere Access." Which means, of course, that if you have a great new multimedia demo of something which falls into the category of "Offer your clients an easy way to access business documents, designs, and artwork. Eliminates the need for a separate FTP server." and it's in one of a LONG list of "forbidden" formats, you're out of luck." top
sehlat (180760) writes "There's a new article over at Ed Foster's Gripelog about the warranty on Palm Tungsten E2 and Z22 being ninety days rather than the industry-standard one year. It notes the fact that you only find out about this by opening the package with the device inside.
With software products, we all know that somewhere deep in the fine print the vendor probably disavows any real warranty. But it's a little more unexpected that a hardware vendor like Palm would hide — in the most obscure corners of its website — the fact that their warranty period on some products is so short as to be virtually useless.
sehlat (180760) writes "A new study by a group of researchers, tends to show that the internet, taken as a whole, has a structure which greatly resembles that of a medusa.
The data suggests a new picture of the AS-graph structure, which distinguishes a relatively large, redundantly connected core of nearly 100 ASes and two components that flow data in and out from this core. One component is fractally interconnected through peer links; the second makes direct connections to the core only. The model which results has superficial similarities with and important differences from the "Jellyfish" structure proposed by Tauro et al., so we call it a "Medusa."
sehlat (180760) writes "I asked my wife her opinion of the MAFIAA's war on their customers and she sent me the following essay. Posted here because I think it deserves attention.
As our communication technology expands (some might say 'explodes'), traditional media are being forced to rethink their traditional models. Nowhere is this more evident than in the struggles of major movie studios, music studios and publishing companies. Some of them are in outright legal wars with their customers. This is a certain ticket to bankruptcy court — it's just a matter of time.
In the past, big studios and big publishers were king. Composers, performers, authors and artists all had to go through them to reach an audience. Even if they went to the considerable expense of self-producing, how did they distribute their wares? The entertainment corporations were free to pay their talent as they saw fit, charge for their product as they saw fit, and they didn't have to answer to anyone. The only real adversaries they had were each other and the counterfeiters.
Counterfeit movies, books and music have always been a nuisance, but they weren't a major threat. Quality problems kept most customers attached to the genuine article. But then the technology expanded, and anyone could make a copy for their mom, their girl friend, their cousin Ernie. A lot of big companies panicked and set loose packs of lawyers to gnaw on the hands that feed them.
Panic is blind, and this is no exception. Those big companies aren't seeing the big picture, and if they don't rethink what they're doing, they will go as extinct as the dodo, BECAUSE THEY'RE NOT NEEDED ANY MORE.
The studios and publishers make a big deal about "intellectual property", but how are they defining that? Do they create anything? Or do they buy the creations of others? Do they sell anything? Or do they pretend to sell their wares, but then insist on the right to continue to "own" and control them?
These days, studios and publishers actually function as glorified introduction services. Once they were mass-producers, using economies of scale to make the expensive, cumbersome process of generating and duplicating entertainment media (whether book or music or film) cost-effective. But today, we're getting to the point where anyone with a good computer and the requisite skills can turn out high-quality content, and mass duplication isn't necessary — it can be done electronically by the purchaser. So the function of the studio or publisher is to 1. Recruit the talent, and 2. Introduce their work to the consumer.
Think about an introduction or dating service. You want to meet a nice person to go out with. The service is happy to oblige, for a fee. So far so good. But what if the service wanted to plant spyware in your car, your favorite haunts, even your bedroom, to make sure that you couldn't ask the person out again without paying them? What if they sued you for introducing her to your cousin Ernie? Would you do business with them?
No matter what they do, these agencies can't successfully control each iteration of the material they sell. If they stop trying, they'll continue to make money. Most people don't want to take the time to record or print their own entertainment. Most artists don't want to be their own marketing companies, either, so they too will continue to support agencies that treat them fairly. Some of both will go to the extra trouble, because they have more time and/or skill than money, but chances are that those people wouldn't be doing business with the agency in the first place, so nothing is being lost to them.
What about all this is so difficult? The same bloated corporations that have been swindling their artists for years are now running amok, suing grandmothers and grade-school kids for doing the very thing that will keep their products in the marketplace. Word of mouth is the most potent advertising a company can have — why aren't they taking advantage of it?
The consumers want to be entertained. Show them a little bit of something entertaining and they want more. Intelligent marketing dictates selling content; recorded media might remain as a secondary "convenience" market for people who can't or don't want to convert data to their format of choice, but it's not mandatory any more. The company that's smart and realistic will provide previews, or older material from an artist's library, to potential buyers. When they sell something, they will sell it. They'll sell it in units that make sense (individual songs as well as albums, individual stories as well as collections, etc. No encryption, no spyware, no strings attached at all, except that if anyone tries to copy and market their material, they can act against them on behalf of the artist. And speaking of the artist, they'll pay their talent well enough to make it attractive to work with their agency, because if they don't, their talent has the option of marketing directly to the consumer. In the coming shaking-out of the information/entertainment media, the companies that are smart and realistic will win.
This week they have published an update on their findings. Some of the mystery information appears to be cover art. However, they do mention:
While there are no watermarks, there are some other interesting fields that are likley to have privacy implications. In particular, there is a 1024 bit variant field labeled sign and a 630 byte variant field labeled chtb. These are unique for every combination of user and track we've seen. Neither of these fields existed in the FairPlay DRMed.m4p tracks that Apple has been selling in the past.
sehlat writes "There's a note up at the EFF Deep Links blog that indicates the DRM-free m4a files may have just a wee bit more data in them than just a name and email address:
We compared two DRM-free copies of the track Daftendirekt by Daft Punk. When decoded to PCM/WAV data, both copies produced an identical audio signal (the MD5sum is e40b006497f9b417760ca5015c3fa937). So there is no audio watermark. But one of the.m4a files is almost 360K larger than the other!