Monday, June 18, 2007

Pretty Please, With Sugar on Top?

We always knew the MPAA and the RIAA were a bunch of ego-maniacal meanies. But now there is an alternative way to combat piracy, one that doesn't involve the usual crew of lawyers piloting the USS Untactful-ness.

You see, these pirates are a funny bunch. Unlike most criminals, who commit crime because they are evil, pirates commit crime because it's fun. That's their sport, their hobby. They don't play football or have big parties. They crack code.

Not only that, they feel that in order to be a real hardcore programmer, they have to crack.

What they fail to realize is the effect this crime has on other people, people like Trey Harrison. They don't realize that the people who are harmed by their actions aren't just faceless executives, but guys like this one, who comb their hair and feed their cats before bed.

But Trey Harrison has discovered a tactic that nobody expected. Is there honor among thieves? It turns out that there is. All Trey did was ask nicely for the pirates to stop stealing his work of 7 years. They agreed to it, and there were no lawsuits, no threats, and no hard feelings.

the MPAA and RIAA could learn a lot from this guy. Instead of making the pirates job more fun by dangling a carrot in front of their noses, they should just hand them the carrot and say, "please don't eat it. We worked hard to grow it."

You can read the complete and unedited email conversation between Trey and the pirates here. There is also an interview with Trey about this incident, and it is particularly eye-opening.



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Wednesday, June 13, 2007

PC World or Consumer Electronics World?

It seems like every time a new PC World or PC Magazine comes out, there are a few more letters from readers who hate the direction these magazines are going. They want PC content, not general technology news. I agree.

The editors, of course, don't care what their customers want. They think they know better. There is a market for consumer electronics magazines. Besides, HDTVs are kinda like LCD monitors, right? And cell phones run Windows, right? See, PC stuff!

Besides the fact that an HDTV does something totally different from an LCD monitor, and cell phones, do not run Windows, they run Windows Mobile, these magazines' titles dictate that they be PC related. In other words, nobody who wants to read a consumer electronics magazine is going to pick up a magazine called PC World. They will more likely pick up Consumer Reports.

But I wasn't really sure how bad the problem was until I started to look at some statistics. I took PC World's latest issue and the 100 Best Products of 2007 article, and analyzed it a bit. I classified each item into one or more of 33 different categories. Here's what I found:
  • 72 of the items were PC related
  • 31 were not PC related (or were both)
  • 72% of the PC related categories had only 1 or 2 items
  • 44% of the PC related categories had only 1 item
  • The ratio of PC related to non-PC categories was 18/15
So you see, the problem is pretty bad. Why are there items that fit in such categories as "Portable Music Players", "Phone Apps", or "Digital Camcorders"? These have nothing to do with PCs! OK, maybe they can connect to or sync with a PC, but they are not PC products. An mp3 player is not for using with a PC, it is for listening to music. A cell phone application is not for using with a PC, it is for using with your phone.

This is so obvious, but the big headed execs at PC World and PC Magazine can't figure it out: some people want consumer electronics content. But these people are not subscribers to your magazines! They are going to get a magazine that sounds like a consumer electronics magazine, and likewise a person who wants PC content is going to get a magazine that sounds like a PC magazine, like, for instance, PC Magazine! Why can't they figure this out?

None of their subscribers want consumer electronics content. If they don't see this soon, they won't have many subscribers left to put up with them.



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Thursday, June 07, 2007

PC Mag's Dvorak: Microsoft is Perfect

I know. That's what I thought. From John C. Dvorak's June 26th column (published in PC Magazine):
What's at issue is the sheer number of [Linux] distros that constantly pour into the market looking for homes. And since they are essentially free, people are inclined to jump from one to another, always looking for the be-all-end-all super-perfect Linux. It will never happen until Microsoft does Linux! Oops. Did I say that?
WHOA! Since when is Microsoft capable of creating the be-all-end-all super-perfect Operating System? And if they are, why haven't they done it yet?!?

OK, this guy has made it official: he has no idea what he is talking about. Besides the obvious fact that Microsoft couldn't possibly create the perfect OS, what is wrong with "jumping from one to another"? We are not looking for the perfect Linux. We are looking for a better OS.

That is the beauty of Linux. You can always move to a different distro if you like it better. Nobody is pretending that Linux will ever be perfect, but the sure-fire way of making the opposite happen is to get Microsoft involved.

Does this guy have something against healthy competition? Obviously he doesn't know that the lack of competition is precisely what has made Microsoft's products suck for so long. Only now is Microsoft even beginning to catch up; why is that? Because it has competition, that's why.

Competition fuels innovation. And without competition, you end up with lousy products that sell at outrageous prices. Just look at the US Postal Service if you need an example. Monopolies halt innovation: competition drives it. Better performance, quality, reliability, prices, you name it: competition produces better products. There are no exceptions.

And this guy wants to stop that from happening. Apparently he wishes we would all go back to buying our OS for thousands of dollars when the computers themselves are capable of doing so much more, if only the OS would take advantage of it.

Not me. I'm slowly but surely making the move to Ubuntu 7.04, and I personally think it will be my last OS switch-over. Make that my only OS switch-over.

EDIT: Want to see what Microsoft's Linux distribution would look like?


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Saturday, June 02, 2007

Peeping Google?

Google's release of a new feature for Google Maps has created quite a stir. It's a feature that allows you to see street-level 360 degree pictures of streets in some major US cities. While it may sound really cool, some people are worried about what this may mean for people in these cities.

The following are a few quotes from an article from iTWire and my responses to the concerns:
Online reports of a man picking his nose, another scaling a wall, yet another at the entrance of a strip joint have been found and discussed, while the hunt is on to see what else the photos contain. The discovery some photos allow web surfers to see inside homes through open windows has also caused alarm.
First of all, GET YOUR FINGER OUT OF YOUR NOSE! WHAT ARE YOU, LIKE 12?

People who don't want others to know that they, for instance, climb walls or visit "gentleman's clubs" need to stop doing those things in public. These pictures were not taken inside people's homes. They were taken from the street. That means anyone out on the street can see the exact same things that can be viewed online. Don't want people to see you go in that strip club? Don't go in.
Google’s new Street View mapping service certainly does add a whole extra level of usefulness to their mapping service, especially as it grows to cover cities worldwide. But if public opinion has anything to do with it, the unintended ‘Go ogle’ feature of seeing faces, seeing into homes, seeing license plate numbers and other private detail on Google Maps is one feature that’s likely to disappear.
I doubt it.