Thursday, December 4, 2008

Should we stop the sale of used video games?

Being able to buy used games is a huge advantage to the middle class every day gamer. Instead of spending 60$ for a new game we could spend 30$ and get that same game used. Or we could buy the game new and sell it back when we are done in order to get some money back to buy another game. The developers aspect of the used game market is however not so positive. They see is as loosing revenues for them in new game sales. Now the Game Industry is trying to use such tactics as post game content and other bonuses that come along with buying the game new instead of buying it used. The question we have to ask ourselves is wether this post realease game content is enough to convince the gaming world to stop buying used games. The one thing the gaming industry overlooks is the hidden revenue they receive from used game sales. Buy making games avaliable for a more affordable price, the game industry gets their titles into the hands of people who might not buy it in the first place. If they like the game then they will be the first ones in line to buy the next one new. These discounted games are also attracting new gamers. This overall benifits the gaming industry.

Harvard team: Let consumers hack abandonware

As we all know when Digital Rights-based music or any other DRM products shut down, we no longer have access to these products. If we pay for it we should be able to use it as long as we live. This is now becoming a serious problem now that MSN music, Walmart music, Google's video store, and Yahoo music have all shut down and anyone who purchased music from these sources can only play them on one device, if they can play them at all. What if the consumers had the right to bypass these DRM protections once they expire? The team and Harvard is proposing just that! As we all know the Digital Millennium Copyright Act makes it illegal for us to circumvent DRM, but every three years the Copyright office asks for requests to make exemptions to these laws. This team from Harvard submitted a request that, in the event of DRM failure, users be able to circumvent the DRM protections on the failed software, so they could still use what they payed for. Without this users with any works that have failed DRM would not be able to transfer any of these works to other devices or even re-authenticate them for use on that same device. Say for instance Electronic Arts were to go bankrupt, millions of people would lose the ability to re-install or repair any software purchased from them. If this plan passes then researchers will be able to study the authentication messages flowing back and forth between the software and the DRM systems. This will allow them to learn how DRM works and how we could eventually lawfully circumvent it in the case of a DRM system failure or shutdown. This exemption for researchers has also been added into the plan sent to the Copyright Office for review. Lets hope it works, for our sake and for the sake of our DRM software, music, and games that we payed for. 

Remixers, Unlockers, Jailbreakers, Oh My!

I thought this was an interesting development. EFF submitted two petitions to the copyright office. They are after DMCA exemption of a few specific technology related activities, remixing, unlocking cell phones, and jailbreaking phones such as the iPhone.

The exemption for remixing covers ripping DVDs for remixing purposes. Fair use. Currently, once someone rips a DVD, the DMCA gets angry and jumps the gun by saying that that person broke the law without determining if the use was fair or illegal. The petition is to protect these people and actions so that the creators on websites such as youtube and vidders are still free to create.

Unlocking cell phones is a different subject. Cell phone companies lock their phones so they can only be used with their service and to protect their copyrighted material. So a phone that you got from AT&T won't work if you want to switch to Verizon or Alltel. They do this to discourage people from switching networks and it slows competition between carriers. Thousands of phones, because of this, end up in dumps and landfills because they can't be used with a different carrier. Unlocking these phones would allow for easier recycling.

Jailbreaking is like unlocking, but it applies to phones with applications, like the iPhone. Many iPone owners have already 'jailbroken' their phones so they can recieve apps from places other than the app store that Apple provides. I think I read somewhere that Amazon has made one or a few apps for the iPone..

The cell phone exemption petition would allow people to play with the stuff they bought, 'tinkering' is used in the article. The locks on the devices limit freedom with something you rightfully own because you paid for it.

The Copyright Office is supposed to announce the determinations in October of 2009..

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Bye Bye Bratz?

Bye Bye Bratz?

U.S. District Judge Stephen Larson ordered for all Bratz products to be removed from warehouses and stores because of copyright infringement. This battle has been going on for a long time between the maker of Barbie, Mattel Inc. and MGA Entertainment Inc. MGA Entertainment Inc. has been growing more and more popular with the Bratz dolls and products, controlling the dolls on market. The final hearing isn’t until February to find out the verdict on those Bratz. The jury in Larson’s courtroom believed that the Bratz dolls were made by a designer who had worked with Mattel Inc. in the past. The designer had worked with Mattel under an exclusivity agreement, not allowing the Barbie/Mattel Inc. designs to leave Mattel Inc. The jury awarded Mattel Inc. $100 million for copyright infringement as well as for breaking the exclusivity contract with Mattel Inc. MGA believes that losing the revenue from the Bratz dolls and products will be very costly for the Van Nuys Company.

Mashups: No SOA required, but keep IT in the loop

The writer of this blog talked about how everybody is doing mashups for their own purposes. He states that it doesn’t take a lot and believes that users should “just do it.” He believes that mashups should be a part of the SOA evolution, moving the SOA forward. Jackbe’s Chris Warner, writing in Fast Company, agreed with the author of this blog. Chris outlined “the five common mistakes to avoid” with mashups. 1) True mashups don’t have anything to do with vendors, so don’t believe it when vendors say they offer mashups. 2) IT needs to establish a strong and secure infrastructure. 3) Mashups can be done without SOA. 4) Mashup reuse should be encouraged. 5) Security issues- secure your mashup files.

Woman sues Tyler Perry for copyright infringement

Woman sues Tyler Perry for copyright infringement

Donna West filed a lawsuit against Tyler Perry for stolen material used for the film, “Diary of a Mad Black Woman.” She is suing Tyler Perry for copyright infringement in U.S. District Court. She has asked for a jury because she is asking for all profits made from the film for her family. Donna West testified that she developed a script based on her life experiences titled, “Fantasy of a Black Woman.” She starred in the play. It was performed at the Junior Black Academy of Arts and Letters at the Dallas Convention Center in 1991. Donna West believed that Tyler Perry (or anyone apart from that production) could have seen the play since it was open to the public and replicated it. Tyler Perry’s movie earned about $50 million when it came out in 2005. Jurors watched Tyler Perry’s movie and also listened to a part of the script from West’s play. Tyler Perry’s attorney, Veronica Lewis, told the jury that Perry had prior success to the film and that he was a talented individual who did not need the help from another person. The case will be completed in about a week.

Live, From Carnegie Hall: It's the YouTube Symphony Orchestra

Live, From Carnegie Hall: It's the YouTube Symphony Orchestra

YouTube announced that they will be generating content by launching a symphony orchestra. The YouTube Symphony Orchestra has two main goals. 1) The creation of mash-up performance will come from video submissions. 2) There will be a live performance written by composer Tan Duan at Carnegie Hall on April 15, 2009 with 150 players selected based on their YouTube submissions. The idea was first brainstormed by two YouTube employees about a year ago. The other people who are contributing to the YouTube Symphony Orchestra will be Michael Tilson Thomas who will conduct the Carnegie Hall performance, the London Symphony Orchestra, and Lang Lang the pianist. Participants who are interested must be older than 14 and cannot be bound by any contracts that wouldn’t allow them to participate in the project. Participants can download the music for “Internet Symphony No. 1: Eroica”, selecting one of the 26 instruments. Participants who want to participate online can upload their videos of the symphony onto Participants who want to audition for the live performance can submit their videos following the specified standards by January 28, 2009.

Nokia Comes With (Illegal) Music In Vietnam?

Nokia Comes With (Illegal) Music In Vietnam?

Recording Association of Vietnam (RIAV) filed a $3 million lawsuit against FPT Telecom and Nokia Vietnam for breaking intellectual property rights from copyright infringement of recorded music. RIAV represents 60 music production companies in Vietnam. It is stated that RIAV was going to file a lawsuit against FPT Telecom for allowing users to share music over the internet through its website, Nhac So, and FPT Telecom’s internet television service. RIAV also filed a lawsuit against Nokia Vietnam for letting the public download 1,000 copyrighted songs from Nhac So. Nokia blamed FPT Telecom when they wrote a letter to RIAV. According to Nokia, FPT admitted that they may not have all the proper rights for the recorded music on their website even though they had told Nokia in the past that they had all the legal rights, allowing them to use the music on their website. RIAV is still filing a lawsuit against Nokia because RIAV believes that Nokia isn’t taking responsibility for their poor actions.

Ravens, NFL did not violate copyright law

Ravens, NFL did not violate copyright law

The artist filed a federal lawsuit over the Baltimore Raven’s original logo, but it has now been dismissed stating that the NFL and other businesses did not violate any copyright laws. Frederick E. Bouchat’s most recent lawsuit against the Raven’s logo for commercial uses for Raven’s home games, highlight films, and online photographs. Judge Marvin J. Garbis stated that a settlement had been reached between Bouchat and The Sun. Bouchat’s lawyer dismissed the lawsuits against the remaining defendants. Bouchat has now sought a “final, permanent injuction” to stop future copyright infringement, wanting to destroy offending materials. The judge agreed with the defendants. The defendants gave a 24 page opinion that displayed the dispute of the logo as well as the history of pro football in Baltimore. The visibility of the Raven’s logo was incidental and not a major component. Bouchat’s lawyer disagreed, believing the Ravens’ actions were the equivalent to “stealing a painting, making a copy of it, and hanging it in a museum as his own work.”

Australian firewall trials start

In Australia plans are being made to set up a internet filtering program for children. The Program will start out blacklisting certain sites which seems pretty ridiculous because of how many sites could be deemed as a blacklist site but its a start. The 'cyber safety plan' will cost up to $126 million dollars and will take atleast four years to place in to action. People all over are skepticle of how this plan will work. Stephen Conroy will be leading the way and has some doubts of his own, which even increases the amount of skepticism I have for this plan. The only other countries that have similar plans are ones that have free speech as a major issue, for example: China and Saudi Arabia. Does Australia really want to be placed in a group with these countries in terms of civil rights? I doubt it. It seems like theyre willing to do so though. The internet industry says that this plan could slow down internet as well as limit what its users can view. Another issue is if Australia has the technology to create a program or some type of system to filter out these sites with out having to look through the thousands of different sites that could contain some sort of explicit material. We'll see what happens though, nobody besides this teacher in the article seems to be very enthusiastic about this new plan. It would be nice to see australia succeed and create something that the whole world could use.

Google Settles Publishers’ Lawsuit Over Book Offerings

Google Settles Publishers’ Lawsuit Over Book Offerings

Google, recently, had to settle a couple of lawsuits, accusing Google for copyright infringement. Google said that they would pay $125 million to those who filed the lawsuits, Association of American Publishers and the Authors Guild. Google was going to spend $34.5 million of the $125 million on establishing a “Book Rights Registry” so that each author was compensated for their works being used. The “Book Rights Registry” would oversee payments to songwriters and musicians for the use of their works. In addition, the registry would give payments to the authors of works who are already in the Google Book Search system. Google argued in the beginning that Google Book Search did not break any copyright infringement laws. Google added that the public wasn’t allowed to read a work from the beginning to the end from the works’ original implementation. The new agreement allows the public to buy books that are out of print but keep their copyrights. Google would pay the registry 63% of any revenue from an author’s works, even advertising on the internet next to the pages of the online book. The settlement still needs to be approved by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. As of right now, the proposal looks like it’s suppose to be approved by the court. Publishers state that the settlement should be a huge benefit to authors and readers. Under the new terms, colleges and university can pay for access to the titles in Google’s catalog, the public library could access Google’s catalog for free, and people searching from their homes would get limited excerpts.

Analyst: Use Lasers on Pirates (and Everyone Else)

Doctor James Jay Carafano believes that lasers are the answer to all of our military and piracy problems. This article explains his point of you by showing us different ways lasers could be the easy way out. Any hostile missiles from other countries could be easily shot down by a laser defence system. Carafano thinks that it is necessary for our major government institution buildings to have laser defence systems to protect against the danger of these hostile missiles. He then connects the use of lasers in a military circumstance to a piracy solution. I was a little confused with how this would work...but he said lasers could do the trick! Probably just by shutting down the computer or something, I really wasnt sure. It is interesting though, how much lasers could begin to play a role in our way of life, especially in a foreign relations point of view. Lasers could be the answer to terrorism. Satellites could pick out people or buildings from space and they would disappear...pretty crazy right? Pretty scary right?

Just think about if we were the first country to develop a laser defence system and a laser offense system. The possibilities could be endless, and we would definitely be more of a world power than we are today. The opposite would be true if someone else got hold of that technology...:(

Cue "Barracuda"

Cue ‘Barracuda’

Once Sarah Palin finished her speech at the Republican National Convention, “Barracuda” by the band Heart blasted over the loud speakers in honor of Palin’s nickname in high school, “Sarah Barracuda.” It was a big hit with the crowd, but the Heart’s songwriters, Ann and Nancy Wilson, did not agree. The sisters stated that they didn’t believe “Sarah Palin’s views and values in no way represented us as American women” and demanded that the McCain-Palin campaign not play their song. Their publisher and label sent a letter to the campaign to have them stop advertising the McCain-Palin campaign with their song. It is obvious that the main reason why Ann and Nancy Wilson disagree with Palin using their song is because they disagree with Palin’s political views. However, not all artists are like the Wilson sisters. Some artists just don’t want their songs being used at all politically by any candidate or campaign. The author of the article believed that even though all and any artist has the right to their song and the way it is used, they believe that filing a copyright lawsuit to stop the song being used politically is a little too much. The author of the article proposed the question of “Why would we support limiting artists’ legal powers in this way?” The author proposes two reasons. The first reason is because artists make their songs available for from firms via “blanket license.” The blanket licensing system gives artists revenue they would not otherwise obtain by lowering the cost of licensing. This also allows bars, clubs, and restaurants to play artists’ music without fear of costs. By allowing artists to choose which song is allowed to be used for a blanket license, the system has no function. The McCain-Palin campaign continued to use the song, “Barracuda” because they cleared the license with the ASCAP firm. The second reason is because politicians use songs as a way to portray their views of what they stand for to the public. The ability to communicate their political message through the usage of music is a form of speech that should be protected by the First Amendment. In this case, the First Amendment wins because political speech is protected even with the copyright laws. All copyright laws should be respected nevertheless, but artists shouldn’t abuse the laws, like in this case with the campaign. Copyright laws exist so that artists get paid. As long as politicians pay for a blanket license for the use of a song, then there is nothing illegal about that.

U.N. Investigates Electromagnetic Terrorism

What if your cell phone could give you cancer? We would all be screwed!! Almost everyone has a cell phone nowadays. This article attempts to answer whether cell phones could have negative side affects because of a radiation of some sort. It's conclusion is one of uncertainty. Tests have been conducted but no real mind boggling data has surfaced. Another question the article poses is what if people could use this radiation or supposed raditation as terrorism? When I think of terrorism, the last thing that comes to mind is a cell phone or a microwave. In 1953 the russian government was caught emitting low level radio and micro waves in to the U.S. embassy in moscow. Nobody knew of any health affects that this might have posed, so they suspected that the russians were trying to disrupt communications. This was known as Project Bizarre.

Amanda and Will's project

Amanda and I made picture photo story about her trip to the Phillipines. A lot of her pictures were pretty cool. Amanda is Philipino so it was pretty cool to see some pictures that expressed her heritage. The music was added to draw the viewer in to the material shown. I thought it worked well with the settings displayed in the story. A lot of her pictures made me want to visit the Phillipines and hopefully the people watching felt the same way. I had fun making it with her.

My video project that I did a week ago

The video project I did a week ago was a slideshow of airplane photos taken during my journey from Washinton's Reagan National airport to Honolulu via Chicago O'Hare. I love airplanes, and I love taking pictures of them. At the end of the video, to take up space, I included some pics from when my dad took me plane-watching. The background music is "Raiders March", the Indiana Jones theme, which was performed by the wind ensemble at Colonial Forge High School in May of 2008. I played the snare drum part in that piece, which closed my last high school concert. I hope you enjoyed it.

Austrailians protest ISP filerting

Link Here.

This was a very short little blurb about a topic that has appeared on this blog, the Australian Government's plan to filter internet content nation wide. According to this article the Aussies did not like the idea and have decided to stage simultaneous protests across Australia. The filtering of the internet content will slow down speeds across the nation. The filter will also statistically block 10,000 out of 1 million websites incorrectly. Finally the Australians believe that the filtering is a block of free speech.

I'm rooting for the Australian protesters, I could not imagine suddenly having all the content that I go to have to go through a filter first and maybe be blocked due to some mistake.

YouTube comes down hard on porn ads, suggestive content

As the title states, youtube is determined to decrease the amount of nudity or sexually suggestive content on its site, to preserve the sites integrity. The site will not only delete certain movies with nudity, but also movies with inappropriate clothing that wouldnt normally be worn in public. The site has employed viewers to analyze the material and judge whether it is appropriate. I think it would be a pretty great job to have haha.

The "new guidelines" have yet to be put in place but they will very soon. Most sexually suggestive movies will only demoted and taken off the lists, such as the most viewed or most popular lists that many people look at to see funny or interesting material. Only a few videos a day will be demoted though...This quote optimistically explains what youtube is attempting to do. "Let's work together to ensure that the YouTube community continues to thrive as a positive place for all of us." Good luck with that

Crime and Punishment 2.0: fighting criminals with the 'Net

This article is about the new crime software that is being created around the world. Its showing the growing importance and recognition of the internet today and how it can help the F.B.I. and the police. Obviously the internet can't catch the perps but it sure can help take information from others who may have witnessed the crime or know people who were involved. The FBI has been taking information from the internet instead of phone calls or conversations for many years. Which brings about the question: Why haven't the police used this so called NEW information? The article says that one commenter of the Boston Globe asked the same thing. "Its comforting to see that the police are discovering the newfangled technology thing called the 'COMPUTER' at last. have they been using pencils and paper all this time? That they are just NOW doing this is PITIFUL." The man has a point.

Other examples justices new found accomplice are all over the world. In london, the police created a google map of crime, so to speak. It basically maps out past crimes and shows certain hotspots for criminal behavior. The Toronto Police have put all their criminal information online where the public can view and actually comment on certain crimes taken place. Whether or not the publics opinion matters to them remains to be seen but it seems like an idea that couldn't hurt.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Sought: Wal-Mart shoppers who trampled NY worker

As I'm sure everyone has heard, there was a man, Jdimytai Damour, who was trampled to death on black friday at a mall about 20 miles east of Manhattan.  Now, police are reviewing a surveillance video to try and identify who trampled Damour to death.  While criminal charges were possible, it is proving to be difficult, said Detective Lt. Michael Flemming, a Nassau County police spokesman.  Other workers, and a pregnant woman were trampled when the doors were open as well.
Perhaps the most amazing thing, and what really pisses me off is that when Walmart made an announcement that people had to leave because an employee got killed, people were screaming that they have been in line since the previous morning, and people actually kept stepping over the dead employee in order to keep shopping.
While stores have great deals that are definitely worth lining up for and getting in line early for, there has to be a better system for this to happen. Whether this system is selling tickets, and specific amount of customers that can shop at a time, or something else, there has to be something done to avoid another situation like this.

Symantec releases antivirus just for gamers, but why?

On November 25, Symantec released Norton antivirus 2009, Gaming Edition.  This antivirus is specifically designed to not bother gamers while they are playing a game on their computer.  This gamer mode suspends alerts, updates, and other background activities while you are playing your game.  When a player goes into full screen mode, the antivirus is automatically enabled, and can also be manually enabled.  The vice president of consumer products at Symantec gave the following reason for releasing the game edition: "Gamers are an extremely demanding audience that simply won’t tolerate anything on their system that detracts from gameplay. Norton AntiVirus Gaming Edition keeps gamers protected online and runs perfectly undetected in the background, meaning no interruptions, no pop-ups, and with the same award winning zero-impact performance of our 2009 products."
This release has a lot of people asking for a non-gamer edition.  Even non-gamers would like to have updates and background activities suspended when they are in full-screen mode.  I personally think that this should be released for more than just gamers, and i don't see why they wouldn't release it, because they would make more of a profit if they did.

Whoops: UK senior citizens targeted for downloading gay porn

While it is bad, and a little bit embarrassing to be informed that you have been caught downloading music, it is another thing to be told that you have been caught illegally downloading hardcore gay porn.  This is exactly what the UK based law firm of Davenport Lyons does.  Users are now anxious to get attention for the nature of these letters.
Davenport Lyons acts on behalf of content owners, and are going after copyright infringers, and has recently been in the news for sending letters to users who are operating open Wifi networks, because he says that they are responsible for the illegal actions of the others who are using their open wireless networks.
A 60 year old couple was accused of downloading the film "Army F**kers", which is a film about officers, however the couple claims to have never downloaded it. The couple said "We were offended by the title of the film.  We dont do porn-straight or gay- and we cant do downloads.  We have to ask our son even to do an iTunes purchase"  Many other people have come out too, claiming that they have not downloaded this movie either.  With its pre-settlement tactic, it is very similar to a currently used tactic used by the RIAA, attempting to ferret out college students that they believe are guilty of illegally downloading.
While these cases have yet to be closed, it appears that Davenport Lyons is just hoping that some people will feel intimidated, and pay up the fine (roughly $774).

Thursday, November 27, 2008

UMW History Remix

I researched our roots here at Mary Wash dating back to 1908 when the college was first founded, I found some interesting facts and figures.  Taking the information from the data I was able to access, I remixed images and facts by using medias like pictures, voice-over recordings, and background music. Our university has come a long way since its first beginnings. If you watch my video, a clear sense of UMW culture is extremely prevalent, even today. Hope you enjoy.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

History of Linux

Link Here.

Any comments?

A Tribute to Michael Jordan

For my project I did a video tribute to the greatest basketball player that ever lived, Michael Jordan. I used the song Remember the Name by Fort Minor. I wanted to add other songs but all of my slide transitions worked so well with my original song I just let it be. This video covers all of Jordan's life and highlights some of his greatest achievements. Hope you like it!

A Half-Hearted Tribute to OK Go

For direct link to video, click entry title.

OK Go is one of those bands I refer to as a "guilty pleasure." I'm slightly embarrassed whenever I'm caught listening to them, but I can't help myself; they're too much fun to listen to. The band's line-up hasn't changed since they came together in 1998 - Damian Kulash (so hot), Tim Nordwind, Dan Konopka, and Andy Ross.
"Invincible" is the song I chose to use as it is one of my favorites by the band (and Damian Kulash is so hot in this one). What I did in my video was dedicate the first 0:22 to pictures of the band. I tried changing the pictures on beat, and didn't fail too badly. Then I spliced some of their music video into mine, and ended it with my credits. It's half-hearted because I could've been ambitious and done a picture slideshow on beat for the entire song, but that would've taken an eternity.. and I cut off the song halfway through it.
The end! Happy Thanksgiving :)

Dice and Math

This is my YouTube video project (click the title).

It consists of me rambling on about why we don't convert boring, tedious games into computer games. Or rather that when we do, the simplified games don't have the appeal of the "boring" ones. I recorded myself blabbing, and then covered the audio with pictures and text.

My Video Project

I made this video as a tribute to the original lineup of my favorite band, Black Sabbath. The original lineup consisted of Tony Iommi doing guitar, Geezer Butler doing bass, Bill Ward doing percussion and finally Ozzy Osbourne doing vocals. In this video I play a few songs samples from the 8 albums that the original lineup did together.

I used "Adobe Flash Professional CS3" to create the video, and "Audacity" to cut songs into 20 second clips. I then exported the video into AVI formate and added the sound via "Windows Movie Maker". I finally exported the video into WMV format (took around 2.5 hours) and uploaded it on to Youtube.

I added the video from Black Sabbath's "Never Say Die Live 1978" DVD, and the photos from Google.

InterVarsity at UMW

This is a video created by Jordan Morsberger and myself about InterVarsity Christian Fellowship.  This is only about the chapter here at UMW (InterVarsity is a nationwide club that has chapters in most universities).  We created it to give a brief overview of what we do as a group and what are goals are.  The music we used ranges from an old classic Christian song (Jesus Freak by dc Talk) to more modern songs like Ragged Wood by the Fleet Foxes and You are my Joy by the David Crowder band.

JumpStyle Video

My video project has changed for the second time. Instead of my original 2 ideas, decided to make my video about Jumpstyle dancing, something that arose in 1997 in Belgium. It quickly spread around Europe to Germany, France, and the Netherlands. Americans picked up Jumpstyle rather recently, one guy known as Gold Inferno(on the internet) actually doing a Jumpstyle routine for the show 'So You Think You Can Dance'.

Will edit into a longer post..

UMW Boxing!

I created this video as a promotional device for the University of Mary Washington Boxing Team. I included an upbeat audio file and used videos from our practices to show the Boxing Team in action! The program used was Windows Movie Maker.

Red Sox History Video

In my youtube video project, i described the history of the Boston Red Sox.  The video is less than 5 minutes, and goes all the way back to the beginning of the Red Sox, and an over view of the events leading up to 2007.

Apple "upgrades" the new Mac Book

It seems as though Apple is going down the path of DRM more and more these days.  According to news reports, the next generation of Mac Books will "feature" more digital rights management, this time in the form of the HDTV screen adaptor.  The new port on the computer will require an authentication from any screen the computer is being hooked up to.
Basically any video media file that has been flagged by a movie studio, that has been purchased on an online store such as iTunes, will prevent the viewing of the material on the connected screen. Never mind that with DRM content the provider reserves the right to rescind the rights to the customer at ay time, and never mind that, this punishes those users who have gone through the legal vectors to purchase movies and music.  This is simply another example of the scared established media trying to lockdown what it already has in fear of up and comming technologies that will inevitably overtake them.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Are we the dumbest generation of them all?

After watching the video of “The Dumbest Generation” I became a little upset. Our generation has been degraded based on our internet use and its impact on our society. In support of our generation the MacArthur Foundation has finally completed their research. The foundation conducted over 5,000 observation hours, nearly 700 interviews (both individual and focus groups), diary studies, 10,000 social networking profiles, and more. Overall, their conclusion was that, “at worst, the Internet generally enables the same old social interactions in a new medium; at its best, however, it enables them to participate in something close to a meritocracy, where their age isn't a concern.”

The study was broken down into two different categories: normal social interactions and focused internet socializing.

Over the year’s texting, emailing, and chatting have become the online norms. Our generation has grown up and has been very fluent in using the internet. To elaborate on the author’s first point, kids today use the internet as an additional feature to stay in contact. It has also been shown that the majority of kids are using these social networking sites as a means of continuing their existing relationships. Thanks to the technology boom, you are always able to be in contact with your friends.

The internet has also been used to narrow a child’s interest into a specific niche. "Online groups enable youth to connect to peers who share specialized and niche interests of various kinds, whether that is online gaming, creative writing, video editing, or other artistic endeavors," the report notes. This goes along with the long tail theory we learned a couple weeks ago. If you are not looking for a mainstream interest, then the internet is the place to find a specific topic not discussed on the front page of a website. These specialized sites also allow the child to distribute their work online and gain experience and reputation.

In both friendship-driven and interest-driven online activity, youth create and navigate new forms of expression and rules for social behavior. Though someone may just be messing around it is said that they are learning new forms of technical and media literacy. Children are even able to sharpen their typing skills just by writing an email.

With these new forms of online socializing parents have no need to worry, but in the same sense they should also attempt to monitor their young ones. Parents can aide their children finding their specialized interests and make sure that they are age appropriate.

Growing up in the digital age has been a blessing. You are able to attain information at much quicker rates than having to go to the library and rent countless numbers of books. I feel that as long as the parents play a role in helping to balance their child’s “online time” with other forms of recreational learning there should not be a problem. It will be interesting to see what forms of communication the next generation will use.

Link to the MacArthur Foundation report

Judge Awards $873M Fine for Spamming Facebook

Just recently an $873 million fine was given to a Canadian who sent approximately four million spam messages to Facebook users. The man guilty, Adam Guerbez, obtained login information via phising and other third parties and spammed users' walls and inboxes with a plethora of advertisements (everything from male enhancement drugs and advertisements for marijuana). Adam Guerbez owns a company called "Atlantic Blue Capital", which was involved in the spamming, and is also facing charges. Bots (which were created and controlled by Guerbez) signed into the hacked accounts and sent the spam messages to the hacked users' friends. Regarding the nature of the crime, Facebook stated: "The voluminous and illicit nature of defendants' advertisements has tainted the Facebook experience for affected Facebook users". Many of the messages were decieving at first sight and were written in a manner that friends would write to eachother.

Facebook sued Guerbez under the CAN-SPAM act of Canada (the CAN-SPAM act has been active since 2004) for a grand total of $837M. In the CAN-SPAM system, one can be sued for a total of $11,000 per each individual violation (but in this case, the fines were doubled due to "aggravated circumstances"). Guerbez has been oficially banend from Facebook, forbidden to access the page or even ask people to acess the page on his behalf. According to the CAN-SPAM act, businesses that send unsolicited emails must identify the messages as advertisements, followed by a link that users can click to unsuscribe from receiving messages (similarly to when you unsuscribe to a mailing list). I personally believe that $873 million is way overboard for spamming, but it sure will make people think twice before they decide to mess with Facebook. Facebook should learn from the mistake and find ways to minimize phishing, perhaps creating a personalized security code that appears on your computer when you sign in (similarly to what Yahoo mail uses).

Top apps for desktop customization

Link Here

Just a little blog I found of a top 5 for custom desktop applications.

The post has a top five list and description of applications that are used to enhance or customize your desktop. And when your mashing up and remixing stuff you like to have your interface to your liking and the way to do that might be through one of these applications.

The first application is: Samurize
This application lets you have text files displayed on your desktop in many different customizable ways

The second application is: RocketDock
RocketDock basically brings a Mac OS x view to windows with a lower tray that looks just like Mac.

The third application is: Rainmeter
Rainmeter is very similar to Samurize, each application can do just about the same thing. However each has their own strengths and weaknesses.

The fourth application is: Emerge Desktop
Emerge is a way of completely replacing your windows taks bar, start bar, and right click menu's.
It allows for you to customize those features to however you like. It allows such things as live thumbnails of windows when they are minimized.

The fifth and final application is: AutoHotKey
AutoHotKey is a somewhat complicated hot key assigner for windows. It lets you set up different key combinations to do different things such as open applicaitons. This particular program probably has the highest learning curve of this list because of it is completely command line based, there is no graphic interface for point and click configuring.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Coupon Hacker

Here's a copyright infringement which we don't hear about much: coupons. It just goes to show how many things are out there we don't even think of as holding potential for illegal copyright acts. In late 2007, John Stottlemire posted instructions on the website,, describing the process of hacking the digital coupon system. By doing this, he enabled thousands of viewers to illegally print off more than the intended "one per customer" digital coupon. Suddenly, consumers were able to print off a number of coupons with no limitations. By offering these limitless coupons found on, the company filed a lawsuit against Stottlemire upon their knowledge of Stottlemire's illegal actions. The company claimed that Stottlemire's actions violated the DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act). However, Stottlemire argued that it wasn't his fault that there were flaws in coupon's software. 
The case went back and forth for nearly a year. Eventually, as of November, 2008, the lawsuit was dropped, the case was going nowhere. A proud Stottlemire claimed, "Without being represented by an attorney, I defended myself in federal court against a company who solicited the services of two separate law firms." Later he also added, and in my opinion, I kicked their ass. By refusing to succumb to their bullying tactics, I continued to assert my innocence and fought the claims Coupons Inc. filed against me."
As an outside opinion, what Stottlemire did was technically wrong. In honesty, it's interesting how he got away so easily disregarding the fact that the case dragged on throughout an entire year. If companies and internet websites really care that much about their products and available resources to the public, they should be well aware of the capabilities of others to hack before they're so upset and amazed when they find out somebody has found the achilles heel. We all know, and in fact it has been brought up before, that it's a fact that there will always be somebody out there to break the codes and hack all there is, but the most importance lies in the ability for companies to keep up with its consumers. Instead of trying to change the hackers, change your software. 

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Cooking Mama Repsonds to PETA

Personally, I think its stupid for PETA to attack a video game, especially something as harmless as Cooking Mama. PETA stands for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, and have had tendencies to cause a lot of trouble. As an equestrian rider, I've heard everything from them, how the equipment such as bits, spurs, and crops/whips are cruel and inhumane. I see why it isn't completely unreasonable for them to say that kind of stuff. I'm sure most of the PETA members have never sat on a horse in their life, let alone really know how the equipment functions. Regardless, it seems a little more acceptable for them to attack the sport of equestrian riding than a cooking game.

Cooking Mama is a simple little game for the Nintendo Wii, and a version has been released on the Nintendo DS. Its about Mama, who really just wants to bring people together and make them happy by feeding them. You cook the recipes the game gives you and earn points. For heaven's sake, its rated E.

This article irritated me when I read it, actually. PETA released a flash game that essentially attacks Cooking Mama and how she cooks with meat because they must all be vegetarian activists or something. The game on the PETA website:

is centered around making a Thanksgiving dinner. I actually played it for the sake of research and it was sort of fun, if a little twisted. The game has you pluck and gut a dead turkey, then prepare it in a pretty grotesque manner for dinner. The object is to get the 'Meaner Than Mama' score after each segment of the game. PETA presents facts throughout and once you complete the 'Meaner than Mama' phase, you unlock an animal friendly phase where you make a turkey out of tofu.

The new Cooking Mama game should make PETA pretty happy. It shipped this week and is called Cooking Mama: World Kitchen. At least half of the 51 recipes featured on the game are vegetarian dishes so PETA can't complain. They even threw in a dog as a companion to represent that Mama is against the inhumane and cruel treatment of animals. Of course its obvious Mama isn't a vegetarian, and there's no reason that she should be.

I think its silly that they are going to attack a harmless cooking game for using meat in their recipes, when I haven't heard of them complaining too much about movies or even more graphic games where you actually slaughter the animals. There's PLENTY of games out there where you kill animals. Anyone out there played Tomb Raider?

PETA was just out of line on this one, I think.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Review -- "French court green lights lawsuits against P2P vendors"

For direct link to article, click entry title.

All I've written about so far concerning P2P is its current events in the United States. This article takes a look into what's happening on the other side of the pond, namely France. Here in the 'States, the RIAA randomly seeks and finds P2P pirates, and more-or-less makes an "example" of said defendant by charging him/her an obscene amount of money. Le Societe civile des Producteurs de Phonogrammes en France (SPPF), the French RIAA equivalent, chose to prosecute the 4 big names in P2P software (Limewire, Morpheus, Shareaza, Vuze) rather than their individual users, with the permission of the Parisian Tribunal de Grande Instance (which I assume is their judicial system). The article says this is because the SPPF can't target most of their P2P-software users directly, which makes me wonder if that's also the case with the RIAA except they don't mind going a little out of their way to be sadistic (I wouldn't be surprised?).
Apparently, French fair use laws regarding private copying are a lot more liberal than the ones in the United States. Such is life (or c'est la vie). However, as a means of balance, blank media (e.g.: CD-Rs, DVD-Rs) in France are much more expensive. As I've mentioned in my previous entry, the DMCA and its anti-circumvention and take down notice components provides intermediaries with some degree of immunity if they follow the 2 said guidelines. There is an almost parallel provision in the DRM called the DADVSI that which is what the SPPF hopes to utilize as grounds for prosecuting the mentioned P2P-software creators.
The case was brought forth by the SPPF to the French judicial system in 2007, and originally filed suit only against 3 out of the current 4 software creators; Limewire was added to the unhappy bunch later in the year. The reason why it took so long for the hearing to proceed was that the French courts were unsure of their precedence and their authoritative powers in this matter; as the French SPPF was taking to court software makers of foreign nations. Obviously, in the end, the court concluded they had the proper jurisdiction to stand over this legal proceeding. If the SPPF wins its case against the 4 P2P-software programs, the general parameters of the criminals' sentence is up to €300,000 and up to 3 years of community soap. Honestly, I don't think the potential penalties are nearly as bad in relation to the ones individuals recieve by the courts/RIAA in the US.
Apparently, there was a famous 2005 Supreme Court decision for a similar case in our fine country, which they failed to mention until the very end of the article, and now I am slightly embarrassed. If you want to read more about it ...

I wish my opinion about all of this wouldn't change on a weekly basis -- AKA whenever I write a new blog entry. I don't even know what to think about P2P or the DMCA or the RIAA anymore. It's just a mess. What a disaster. I hate being wishy-washy.

A link to your profile....on your clothes

A clothing company based online in the Netherlands has clothing and apparel you can buy with a car code of sorts in a logo on the clothing. Taking a picture of this barcode with a phone equiped with the correct application software will immediately take the picture taker to the facebook, myspace, or other online profile. This type of activity was also recently featured in a new episode of CSI Miami. This goes to show you that what some people view as futuristic and new, is most likely being developed somewhere in the world. Back to the main point. I think this technology is pretty sad. it proves the point of peoples laziness and want of instant information. I dont know about you but i do not want to live in a socity where a majority of people would rather meet over the internet, when the person you want to meet is in close enough of a distance to take a picture of them with a cell phone. I dont want to live in a place where it becomes awkward to meet new people and get to know them in person. that is a essential part of living life and growing as a person

Why Apple wont allow adobe flash on iphone

I just found this article on Wired and it seems to make alot of scence. It is stated that allowing adobe flash on the iphone would violate the terms of service. If it were to happen, it would be the only application for the iphone not spesificaly made by apple, and that couldnt happen beacuse apple has to control everything, despite the fact that over 98 percent of desktops support adobe flash. Also, customers of the iphone have supported the idea of putting flash on the iphone. On the otherhand, Flash is capable of running its own applictations, so it could be back door for other companies to get their software on the iphone. I agree with the consumers on this one. i think adobe falsh should be allowed on the iphone. Doing this would completely open up the iphone to the full extent of the internet, including streaming videos and flash games. Apple is being greedy and selfish by not giving its coustomers what it wants. Apple also refused to comment on the situation

Monday, November 17, 2008

RIAA Wins, Campuses Lose as Tennessee Governor Signs Campus Network Filtering Law

I hope I understood this article correctly. A new law in Tenessee states:

Each public and private institution of higher education in the state that has student residential computer networks shall:
[R]easonably attempt to prevent the infringement of copyrighted works over the institution's computer and network resources, if such institution receives fifty (50) or more legally valid notices of infringement as prescribed by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998 within the preceding year.

Its a ridiculous law that basically says if enough valid copywrite infringements are found on campus internet networks then the school is required to take measures to attempt to elimiate it. Schools are being forced to spend nearly 10 million dollars on equipment, staff, and software, and then recurring costs around 1.5 million dollars. The money is going directly to the RIAA and not to any of the artists or record labels that the RIAA claims to represent.

The money is being wasted on systems that aren't going to work instead of being put towards perhaps legalizing file sharing and other acts that for some unknown reason to us, are illegal. These systems won't work because it is just as easy for students to swap CDs or flash drives hand-to-hand as it is to share files on the internet. And as always, there is always someone who finds a way to beat the system.

Instead of giving in to the RIAAs silly law proposals, other schools that are being targeted should really just ignore it instead of giving up and filtering the network. Network filtering hinders progress and because of the concetration and focus spent on that, there is less wiggle room for learning and teaching and in general, academic freedom. This article also urges universities to band together and create a collective licencing proposal in order to protect campus communities.

Chinese Pirates Crack Blu-Ray DRM

((The title is the link))

Piracy of movies isn't anything new. Its been happening globally for years. However, China has a reputation for pirating movies and exporting them internationally. They did it with DVDs, and now Chinese pirates have taken up selling Blu-Ray 'Mini-mes'.

The pirates have cracked the DRM encryption in the Blu-ray disks, then re-encode the files in an HD format which has a lower quality than actual Blu-Ray, but is still looming somewhere above a DVD format. However, because the file type has been re-encoded after being ripped off the Blu-ray disk, its smaller and can fit on a traditional DVD disk, making them much cheaper to mass produce. These disks have been outfitted with fake cases and holograms to appear legit and are sold to unsuspecting customers. Although the people who buy these movies are aware that they are pirated copies, and therefore illegal, what they don't know is that they aren't getting the Blu-ray quality they think they're paying a whopping $7 for. Real Blu-rays are sold at prices of $30 upwards.

Blu-ray has already faced serious problems with a failing economy and the extremely pricey movies and equipment in which to play them. Blu-ray players and PS3s are all very expensive machines, and the media that they play is equally as expensive. These machines are so pricey because they cost a lot of money to make, and it costs a lot of money to make Blu-ray disks because of the vaster memory space than a simple DVD. Because of these factors, most movie customers are sticking with the old school DVDs and DVDplayers because they aren't so taxing on customers' bank accounts.

The movie industry is very worried at this point, especially with most of the people buying these pirated movies being fooled by the lower quality of the movie. More people would spring at the chance to buy a pirated film that is less than half the store price, but again, are completely oblivious that they aren't getting everything that they thought they were buying.

This threat to the movie industry is most likely growing, especially from prior knowledge based on what we've seen from China in the past. Chinese pirates will jump at the chance to enterprise, no matter what the product is.

Actually, there was a raid on a warehouse involved in the fake Blu-ray movies. There were over 800 disks dressed to look real. This was the first seizure of those types of disks in China, but I'm sure that its only a small part of the industry that is making them.

Five Gadgets That Were Killed by the Cellphone

I found an article on Wired discussing the gadgets that the cellphone has incorporated as one of it's features - thus eliminating demand for that gadget. The first gadget that the cellphone has 'killed' is the PDA. The PDA (an acronym for "Personal Digital Assistant") was originally used to store contact information and act as a calender. Many modern cellphones now have features which give the users the ability to set reminders (you can send messages to yourself at a certain time of a certain day), which eliminated the need for a completely seperate device containing a calender - and in practically every cellphone you can add additional information to each contact (such as alternate numbers, emails, photos, fax numbers, adress, and so on) - Thus eliminating the need for a seperate contact list. The incorporation of these two features into the cellphone made PDAs completely obsolete.

The second gadget that was 'killed' by the cellphone is the camera. It is stated that cellphones do not eliminate the demand for digital cameras, but simply replaces the lower end models. Cell phone cameras can get a good amount of Megapixels (I've personally seen 5 MP at best). The best aspect of having a digital camera built in to your phone is convenience. A phone camera is something you always have with you, and 'Wired' quotes the famous saying: "The best camera is the one you have with you." - you really never know when your going to need your camera handy! So, the cellphone hasn't quite killed digital cameras yet - and I am guessing will never truly be able to completely do. Even when camera phones get as high as 10 MP (at the rate they are advancing - im guessing in the very near future), there will always be something bigger and better on the market for professional use. I do think that in the future, cell phones will be able to replace cameras for common use - but the market will always exist for professional and upper scale use.

The third device killed by the cellphone is the UMPC (The Ultra Mobile PC). Before reading this article, I had never heard of a UMPC - and 'Wired' calls it a failed project. The UMPC was pretty much just a tiny mobile computer that looks somewhat like a portable video game console - in the following link is a photo: The reason why it failed was due to it's unreasonable prices, terrible battery life and tiny *practically unusable* keyboard. The price is almost triple that of a regular laptop. The cellphone practically is a UMPC these days - if you look at the Blackberry and Iphone - you are able to surf the web, add applications, store files, and so on. Phones are already becoming mini computers and are continuing to advance at a fast rate. This can be tied in to what 'Wired' thinks the cellphone's next victim is - the Laptop.

The third gadget that was killed by the cellphone is the old fashioned wired phones. Land line phones are becoming much less popular - the main reason for that being is the cellphone is always with you - in the house or outside. Another huge plus is due to the fact that your contacts are all stored in one place - 'Wired' makes the point that when you do dial a number with your land line, theres a big chance that you will be typing it in from a number that is already stored in your contact. The main reason why people do keep normal telephones around are for emergencies (just in case an emergency occours and your cell phone is out of battery). Another reason why it is nice to keep an old fashioned telephone around is so that you always have an alternate number - there are some people you don't want to hear at while out of the house working. The telephone has been criticized as not keeping up with technology.

The last gadget that has been replaced by the cellphone is: Mp3 players. Today's cellphones almost always include an mp3 player. It is predicted by 'Wired' that in the near future, Mp3 players will become obsolete. I disagree - many times it is nice to simply upgrade your mp3 player and having to change and get used to a new phone each time you want an upgraded mp3 player would be a huge inconvenience. Until a phone comes along with an mp3 with at160 gigs, I don't think the mp3 player will die out. It would be great if you could just get a phone with the ability to simply change memory cards - so you could transition from 80 gigs to 160 gigs without actually changing phones. I think that the cellphone will be able to kill the mp3 player - but its going to take a while. I used a Sony Ericsson mp3 phone and didn't have a good experience with it at all (took way too much time to transfer files from the computer to the phone - literally consumed about an hour each time, I was also unsatisfied with the memory - I could only get up to 2 gigs on it, and finally major issues with freezing. It will take alot of improvement and convincing before I ever invest in a specialized mp3 cell phone again.

Cory Doctorow on "Culture"

Patrick’s previous post pertaining to this article led me to this one by Cory Doctorow.

In that last article, Cory makes an interesting statement. He says that copyright was never a big deal (or at least it was much less of a deal) before the internet came into being. People copied, edited, and recreated literature, arts and music without any fear of retribution, or indeed any knowledge that they were doing something wrong. That’s not copyright infringement, says Doctorow; it’s culture. He says that with the birth of the internet, two things happened: one, law enforcement starting cracking down on copyright; two, copying flourished.

Copyright law valorizes copying as a rare and noteworthy event. On the Internet, copying is automatic, massive, instantaneous, free, and constant.

It’s easy and straightforward to track, because everything is recorded, and yet there is simply so much of it going on that it’s impossible to classify some of it as illegal and the rest as not. What of it is “culture” and what is piracy? Is there really a difference? Cory Doctorow’s view of “culture” is an interesting one, and one that I at least partially share. He is smart in using the word “culture”, because it’s a very positive-sounding one, and culture is something that sets us apart as humans; everyone agrees that culture is good, that we need it to thrive.

The only point of disagreement is on the definition of culture. What defines that good stuff that gives quality to life? Music. Art. Literature. More generally, it is the Arts. We need to use our creative minds, or we are no more than animals, quarreling amongst ourselves for territory and food. Cory Doctorow says that the only way to keep our minds stimulated in this digital age is through copying; sharing our creative works with others. He might just be right.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Unlicensed Stories reel in Internet Readers

Have you ever read a New York Times article neither from their website nor from their actual newspaper? On average, browsing of ”unauthorized online copies” of articles is nearly 1.5 times larger than the readership of their own web sites, according to a study released. It’s estimated that the average web publisher could make more than $150,000 in additional revenue by selling ads alongside their unlicensed material. What is all comes down to is do you get in trouble for reading an online copyrighted article on a website not approved by the author?

Attributor Corp, the online copyright cop, was the first to flag the problem. Attributor is known for creating software and patrolling the internet for copyright violations. Attributor conducted the study over two months and reviewed over 30 billion web pages. The company currently is employed by the Associated Press, Reuters, and The Financial Times.

It’s estimated that for every 1,000 pages of unauthorized material advertisers will pay $1 to those sites who publish articles not owned by the copyright owner. The problem that these newspapers are facing is the fact that internet ads cost a fraction of what print ads cost.

No action has been taken by the newspaper companies yet. However this problem has cause double digit percentage losses in their revenue and has lead to thousands of employees losing their jobs. The idea of taking other peoples work, calling it your own, and making money off of it, is just not fair.

Attributor believes that if swift action is taken then they would be able to put about 1 million dollars in revenue back into the pockets of companies that deserve the money. Attributor has not yet released what the punishment will be for those who have violated the law. I personally think it is just plain wrong to profit from somebody else’s work. To know that because of your greedy instincts you put somebody else out of work is just not right.

New spin on Copyright and Culture

Link: here.

This article adds a new idea to the whole copyright affecting culture concept.
Sanchez talks about how Corey Doctorow says that people want more culture, like books, music, and movies just for the shared experience with other people, or "something to talk about around the water cooler". But Sanchez then adds that culture might be a bit deeper than that.

He says that the demand for culture is a result of the culture from the past. In other words, people want new things because of things that they already know they like having been exposed to it already. For example, someone who likes rock music and wants to buy more knows that they like the music because they have already heard it and they know that they like it.

Sanchez goes on further to say that if this kind of trend in culture is true then it is impossible to predict what the market / culture would look like in a future free-culture. He says that if everything became free with no consequences of pirating then blockbuster hits would decease because there would be now profit in making them. Then other mash-ups , remixes, and homebrews could emerge as the new popular thing.

The idea is interesting. If all piracy laws on copyrights were to vanish then in a few generations (after the people that remembered the blockbuster and expensive content have gone) people will want content that they are exposed to which will be homebrews and remixes. But maybe some form of homebrew may be more popular than another and that one will start to get more attention than the rest and someone may find a way to make money off of it thus starting the cycle all over again; with the the most popular type of content being the one that is most readily pushed upon consumers. So maybe the long tail effect is a never ending one.

Video game sales support long tail theory

Link: Here.

This article was relatively short but exposed an interesting trend in video game sales around the world compared to the US. Any game in the top five list is on the top five because of US sales. In other words, the top games sold are on top because of their US sales and not because they are well like by the world.

So if Americans like a game (a lot) then that game will be a top seller around the world, whether or not the rest of the world find the game to be as highly rated as we do.

What great, not so main-stream, games is the US missing by only supporting the most popular? There are thousands of games created and put on shelves yearly but only a handful reach the entire market and the rest of them are never discovered by the people that might just like them.

There are companies out there though that allow their customers to play old or not so popular games whenever they want. Companies like or; both allow you to choose any game from a very large database of games and play them (by either streaming them with GameTap or having them mailed to you with GameFly).

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Social Video Viewing

Have you ever wanted to comment on a television show while watching it in real time? If you feel that talking to your friends the next day about a show is not enough, then there is finally a solution for you. The idea is “social networking video viewing” sites. I don’t even know if there is a proper name for these sites yet. What these sites allow you do is basically what the title states, which is to comment on the current, show that you are watching. To add a little flavor to the game, these website award points for comical or even crude comments. One of these games, called Backchannel, allows its viewers to even throw animated tomatoes onto the screen.

In today’s society “social viewing” has a lot of potential. “With increasing broadband penetration, online video is in the midst of a boom: According to a May report, Americans watched 12 billion videos across sites like Hulu and YouTube even as TV's numbers continue to decline. Meanwhile, online communities like Flickr and Facebook continue to snowball in size and popularity.”

Even though “social video viewing” is free, I am sure over time the companies who run these sites will find a way to charge their customers. They could possibly make the customers pay if they wanted to leave an audio or video response.

Some example of these video viewing sites include: CBS Social Viewing Rooms, Fan Pages, The Watercooler, and Lycos Cinema. Fan Pages, which is offered by Comcast, allows its fans to assemble and debate upon upcoming plots or who their favorite characters are. The Watercooler brings together fans of sports and entertainment communities. The Watercooler currently has 25 million subscribers. Lycos Cinema allows viewers to chat with friends while watching their desired movie.

Although “social video viewing” has not taken off, it has the potential to become very popular. Over the years television ratings have declined while the public has begun to watch their favorite TV shows online. Instead of going out to the theatre, you can just go to your computer to see your favorite movie. For those who are lazy and social (hard to imagine you can be both) social video networking just made your life a whole lot better. This idea combines AIM with watching online television. You also receive imaginary points based on your comments toward the show.

As someone who is not an avid social networker I find “social video networking” kind of useless in the sense that I would rather leave the two ideas separate. I would rather watch my favorite show and then have an intellectual discussion in real life with my real friends. I am not trying to bash “social video networking” because I am sure that when I get bored enough, I could see myself giving these sites a try. Although I like the idea behind these sites, it seems like there was not that much creativity put into the idea before the final product came out. The creator simply put two popular ideas together (social networking and online video viewing) to make “social video viewing,”

I also linked here some of the sites mentioned in my article:
CBS Social Viewing Rooms:
Fan Pages:
The Watercooler:
The Lycos Cinema:

Review -- "10 Years Later, Misunderstood DMCA is the Law That Saved the Web"

For direct link to article, click entry title.

This article was a complete 180-degree turnaround from all the smack-talk that usually revolves around the DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act). What was most surprising was that I found myself not disagreeing with most of the article's points regarding the fact that I first approached it with more than a few grains of salt. Anyway, I think it was written almost as a celebration of its 10-year anniversary since its passing into legislation.

The explosion of numerous e-commerce websites (e.g.: eBay), media and file share sources (e.g.: YouTube, purevolume), online social networks (e.g.: MySpace, Facebook), and blogs (e.g.: Blogger, Xanga, Wordpress, LiveJournal, Blogspot.. you get the idea) can be widely attributed to the enaction of the DMCA. It's pointed out in the article that before the DMCA and all it's strings concerning the WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organization) and DRM (Digital Rights Management), they wasn't really any need for these free, open-source, file-sharing, copyright-infringement-sidestepping innovations. In 1998, ten years ago, even the idea of YouTube or Facebook had yet to have been conceived. Apparently, we are to thank the DMCA for the success of today's most popular websites, as they technically are the ones in charge of pushing web-users into thinking outside of the box. Another likeable aspect of the DMCA was is that, although one of its main components is to protect those who have copyrighted property, it also protects online forums/blogs such as Wordpress and Digg from being sued to oblivion.. is the general idea for why we should be grateful the DMCA exists.

There are two major components of the DMCA that helped the boom of these sites that provide users with a copyright-entangled free environment: (1) the anti-circumvention rules, and (2) takedown notices.
(1) Anti-circumvention
The rule pretty much speaks for itself. This section of the DMCA bill was added so that the intellectual, and very copyrighted, property of the movie/music industry (Hollywood in general) wouldn't be infringed on a massive scale online. Examples of infringing would be uploading movies and music online, and downloading movies and music online. I read over the actual section of the legislation concerning the anti-circumvention rule, but it's really tedious and chalk full of all this legal vocabulary, so I'll sum it up for you like this: the purpose of the anti-circumvention rule was made to prevent consumers from side-stepping around copy protection and copyright rules to do things like upload copyrighted material onto the web, and then download them for free from other users. Makes sense, right?
Another component of the anti-circumvention rule is that it provides ISPs (Internet Service Providers) with an almost complete immunity for the property violations committed by their users. This means that even if you're being a huge pirate under your YouTube account, you are the only person who is responsible for your actions; not Youtube. What does that entail? ISPs not caring at all about what their users do with the service they are being provided, and that consequently opened up infinite speech and business opportunities for users, both recognized by the web and unrecognized.

(2) Takedown notice
The article goes on to say that the takedown notice component of the DMCA was even more essential to the exponential growth of the internet. Again, this component provides immunity to ISPs such as YouTube for any copyright violations committed by their users. The catch: they are only granted immunity if they promptly remove or "take down" material uploaded to their site if the claimed copyright holder sends the company a "takedown notice". Simple. Now when you search for a certain YouTube video, and your search says it's been "removed due to infringement", you'll know why. However, it can restore the took.. down(?) content if the user proves that it's not infringing anyone's copyrighted property, and the person who claims to have been violated fails/does not sue.

Fred von Lohmann, an internet attorney, says this about the two components of the DMCA:
"These two protections for intermediaries have been absolutely crucial for giving us the internet today. [...] You could not run a blog without these. You couldn't run MySpace, AOL without these two things."

Bottom lines:
1) Intermediaries totally depend on these immunities
2) Their immunities allowed for the burst of most of the websites we use everyday.

Fair Use in the Classroom


In an era so sensitive to fair use and copyright infringements, there are bound to be thousands of cases like this, where groups get together and figure out what our limitations are, why they exist, and judge fairness based upon set legalities. The article, "Fair use group comes up with copyright primer", basically introduces "The Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Media Literacy Education". This code was recently developed on November 11th, 2008. Media literacy organizations banded together over a course of an entire year to explore what their members thought of as "fair". Meetings took place in cities around the country including Philadelphia, Boston, Chicago, New York City, San Francisco, Austin, St. Louis, Columbia, and Ithaca. 

As we all know already fair use allows the public domain to use copyrighted material without permission or any sort of payment under the conditions that the benefits of its use to society outweighs the cost of the copyright owner. Because of the flexibility and dynamic characteristics of fair use, it favors "transformative uses". These transformative uses add content to already copyrighted material. The article was basically written into five different categories. The five categories consist of, Classroom teaching With Copyrighted Materials, Copyrighted Material Within Curriculum, Sharing Teaching Materials, Student Work, and Sharing Student Work. 

The right of fair use not only helps exercise the freedom of expression, but is essential in developing communication and critical thinking skills required for our future generations to be successful in the 21st century.

To conclude, the whole point of the creation of The Code of Best Practices was to make rights more clear and create awareness of teachers and students in an academic climate. Instead of strangling educational practices by fuzzy/unsure lines of fair use, the code justifies the rights of legalities in a way that documentary filmmakers, broadcasters, and journalists understand fair use and copyright laws today. 

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

I recently discovered a website called in which you set up a profile and download a software that monitors your itunes (or any other media player you choose) activity. A small red icon appears at the bottom right of your screen while you listen to music. After listening to a track, it is 'scrobbled' (basically posted on your profile) and after a while, your profile gets statistics such as 'Top artists' and 'Top songs'. All activitiy of music listening is recorded - and artists are reccomended based on what you listen to. You are also given reccomended videos to watch and free personalized podcasts. Like Facebook and Myspace, you are also able to join specialized user created groups and add friends (giving you the ability to write on eachothers page and see what they are listen to) If you click it while listening to muisc, a variety of information will be displayed, such as a: biography of the artist you are currently listening to, "Tags" given to the artist (e.g. classic rock, blues, pop, 80s, ect...), and also similar artists. I find that the tags and similar artists tend be extremely accurate and helpful in finding new music. Anyone can tag a song/artist - but the ones that show up first are the ones that the artist/song is most tagged with. If you click on the artist name in the biography - you will be given a much more in depth information and also a discography, tour dates and a comment box at the bottom of each page. A few songs can also be listened to on their page. An example of a band page (they all follow the same formula): If you want a taste of what is like, explore this page. Unlike myspace, each individual page is not clunked up with fancy backgrounds that take forever to load and glittery animations.

The best part 0f is the free radio station. You have two options for the radio station - inputting an artist or a tag. If you input an artist, songs from that artist and similar artists are played, and if you put in tags (even very specific tags!), songs that are tagged with it are played. And its not just a few songs, it has a huge variety of music to play in the station. You can listen as long as you want - for free, with no lag - even with the slow connection here. The songs you listen to on the radio station are also scrobbled on to your profile. In general I think that is an awesome website, and I believe that it is FAR superior to (and will eventually surpass and become much more popular than) Myspace's music system.

Talking about radio stations - most people dont know that UMW has a radio station - you can stream it from - and be sure to tune in to my radio show on wedensdays from 6-7 pm.

**EDIT** I just recently discovered that when you plug your ipod into your computer, it automatically scrobbles the tracks you listen to on your ipod.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Pakistan Declares Death Penalty for 'Cyber Terror'

The president of Pakistan: Asif Ali Zardari, recently signed a law that states that 'Cyber-Terrorism' could potentially lead to the death penalty (as opposed to the relatively gentle punishment of up to 20 years in prison in America). This new law will obviously only apply to extreme cases, as stated in the law: only if the cyber terrorism "causes [the] death of any person," - The guidelines that are stated in the law are narrowed down to five aspects that could describe 'Cyber-Terrorism':

1.) A person/group with 'terroristic intent' that accesses an electronic device (e.g. computer, computer network, other device) and engages/attempts to engage in an act of terror. Im guessing this could activating a device such as a bomb via an electronic device such as a cellphone, or hacking into a government network to launch a missle.

2.) Altering information (adding/deleting, ect..) that may result in injury, sickness or death. (I'm guessing this could apply to something like deleting government records, hospital records, ect...)

3.) Transmitting/attempting to transmit a harmful program with the intent to disrupt/disable a computer network operated by the government. I think that harmful program would probaly apply to sending viruses to disrupt a government network.

4.) Helping/attempting to help in the commission of an act of violence against the sovereignity of Pakistan.

5.) Stealing/attempting to steal or copy classified documents necessary to manufacture a weapon of mass destruction (e.g. Chemical, Biological, Nuclear) - This is pretty self explanitory.

This law will apply to everyone in Pakistan (Foreigners are not exempted). When I first read the title of the article, I was shocked - but I would imagine that alot of the same would apply in the states (for example - if you use access an electronic device to engage in an act of terror, lets say: use a cellphone to activate a bomb, you could still get the death penalty here in the States).

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The Long Tale of the Tail

Supply and Demand seems to be the running them of the article. Actually, lack of supply and lack of demand sounds more appropriate. First off, for a company to sell their product they need an audience. Without an audience there is no profit. Not only do the customers buy the products but they also advertise.

One problem we have today is that we live in a world of scarcity. A world where there is not enough shelf space for all the CDs, DVDs, and games produced. Not enough screens to show all the available movies. Not enough channels to broadcast all the TV programs, and not enough radio waves to play all the music created. Now however with online distribution and retail, we are entering a world of abundance. What we have to learn is that our society is not just driven for the most popular product. Everyone has their own little niche of movies or music. Also an important point from the article is that the entertainment business looks to make hits, and not sales. We assume that hits are the only types of music that should exist.

Now this is where the tale of the tail comes into play. Rhapsody (a company owned by Real Networks) is a subscription based streaming music service that offers more than 735,000 tracks. As a subscriber to Rhapsody they have their entire hit songs located on their main page, but they also have a wide variety once you go looking. This is known as the tail effect, with the hit songs making up the bigger and furrier part of the tail, and the lesser known songs making up the end of the tail. Other companies using this long tail method include Google and eBay.

There are three rules/ lessons that Anderson proposes for the entertainment industry. The first rule is to make everything available. If the public are not able to find what they are looking for on your site then they will move on to the next site. Netflix is an example of a company who constantly adds to their library of movies.

Anderson’s next rule of thumb is to cut the price in half and then lower it. When looking at the price of individual songs online the average song should only cost around 65 cents. Yet, when you log into the iTunes server, the price of an individual song costs 99 cents. He also poses the question that if a song has stopped making revenue, do you lower the price of the song.

His last rule of survival is titled “help me find it.” Websites need to help reroute their customers so there is minimal confusion.

The long tail method is a great way to explain the trends of the web over time. It helps put in perspective how companies react to customer likes and dislikes.

Review -- "RIAA defendant enlists Harvard Law prof, students"

For direct link to article, click entry title.

Here's an interesting one concerning a man named Joel Tenenbaum sticking it to the RIAA. Indicted last year of exchanging a handful of songs over KaZaA, and outraged about how far the RIAA is taking his act of "thievery", Tenenbaum called to aid a team consisting of law professor and a class of cyberlaw students - such as ourselves!, except that they're all from Harvard University - to represent him in the trial. The grounds on which Tenenbaum's legal team makes their case is that the RIAA's legal crusade against piracy is getting out of hand to the point of un-constitionality, and therefore a federal decision should be made placing strict boundaries on what the RIAA can and cannot do. When I read this, all that came to mind was an image of a criminal telling off the police for doing their job too well. I mean, as dislikeable as the RIAA is, I think Tenenbaum is getting a little ahead of himself.. That's just me, I guess.

The Harvard team is not only taking this case on to represent Tenenbaum, but also for an exponentially more ambitious reason: they want to challenge the entirety of the piracy lawsuit campaign against what they call the "born-digital generation". The concept of today's generation as the "born-digital" generation has been introduced in a few readings we've gone over and discussed in class. One that resonates particularly well with that theme is the ever-visited "Pirate's Dilemma" by Matt Mason. I think it's true that the copyright regulations of the past are undeniably dated and inapplicable to today's technology-centered, file-sharing, open-source, P2P culture, and I suppose Harvard agrees with me! I'm blushing, really. I feel like it is an overwhelming task for this university group to tackle the foundations of current copyright laws, but their attempt is laudatory in the sense that this case might get the ball rolling to revamp the whole of property laws fit for this generation and those to come.

Apparently, how the defense presented themselves was nothing short of what is expected of Harvard minds. The 3 essential components of their argument were as follows:
1) The damage costs the RIAA chargesunds of the Constitution (by which all lines of legality are supposed to follow). each defendant are "simply excessive", and therefore in violation of the 14h Amendment of the Constitution. (For all you shmucks, it outlines the details of due process and equal protection under the law)
2) The trying of the theft of music or any other copyrighted property is ultimately a criminal case, and Congress, basically gave prosecutorial authority to a private law force, AKA the music industry, an action not within the bo
3) Since the cases are criminal, they should not be tried under the standards of civil law.

The Harvard Law Professor Charles Nesson draws attention to another point: RIAA's legal campaign seems to focus on sending a message through punishing those who are caught pirating music (to deter others from doing the same), rather than punishing the actual criminal for his actual crime. Get it? I think that this is the most powerful argument Tenenbaum's team has. The campaign really can be made analagous to the Crusades, both in the RIAA's method of enforcing itself upon the populace and the reaction of said peoples. It's not like making a demonstration out of Tenenbaum is going to stop the average person from downloading Razorlight's 3rd album (that came out Nov. 3!!!) from LimeWire or BearShare or BitTorrent or whatever other P2P program they use to obtain music without paying for it.

In any case, good luck to Tenenbaum and Harvard team. The trail is scheduled for December.

GM's Volt


I'll start off by saying that this doesn't have much to do about remixing or anything, but it is very interesting.

If you didn't know, GM is in big trouble since the severe fall in stocks, it is practically bankrupt. However, it may have one glimmer of hope that could save the company from certain doom. That glimmer is called the Volt. The Volt is the next step in hybrid vehicles (it is both electric and gasoline powered). The Volt , according to GM, will be good for up to 100 mpg, which is amazing.

What GM did with the Volt is that it made the electric motor the only thing that moves the car, and the gasoline motor is only used to charge the battery of the electric motor when the battery is low. GM says that you could travel 40 miles on a single charge before the gasoline motor would need to kick in to charge the battery. So the average commuter would be able to go back and forth to work without ever having to use any gas, and just recharging the battery from their home's electricity every night.

And on top of the huge money saved from gas prices, its looks pretty cool too.

If GM survives its crash and releases the Volt and it turns out to be everything they promised, then this may be the new car to have.

A black box for your internet shananigans


This article reports on a possible new technology to be put out in the UK some time next year. The black box will be some sort of program that keeps track of all online activities and sends the information to a central government database.

This idea brings to mind the whole 'big brother is watching you' mentality. The English government would essentially know everything that everyone did online. I'm not a big expert in British law making so I have no idea how likely this sort of bill is to be passed, but I do know I hope our government doesn't get any ideas (or have they already?).

The really bad thing about this kind of forced surveillance would be an excellent way of stopping all kinds of p2p and file sharing sites and services. As soon as something is put up that people can trade over, the government would know about it and be able to take it down. The government would also be able to block certain content from being accessed. A world-wide internet black box could essentially halt any progression of the digital age becoming a read-write culture and make it a read-only culture.

I can't see people choosing (voting) to have this technology on their computers monitoring their activities. So I don't think that this idea will catch on, unless of course the government does it without permission, but I wont go into the subject of what the government does and does not tell us.

Lets hear it for Free!

This article was an interesting read, that I completely agree with. Everything digital is becoming cheaper and cheaper and eventually, or already, free. I was most drawn towards Aderson's categories for this free economy. 5 of the categories offered up something free and eventually some person (or party) is getting paid form this free service. There was one category that no money is exchanged at all, the 'Gift Economy'. I think that this will be the prevailing form that any free economy turns into, because it is the one that makes the most sense.

The best example of this 'Gift Economy' is OSS (Open Source Software). The whole idea behind OSS is that if you find something wrong with the source (code) of a program (software) then you fix it and share that fix with the community. That is the most efficient way of debugging any program, have everyone using it (assuming they can)fix any errors as they see fit and share those fixes with other users.

One major drawback that keeps people from sharing or evern trying to fix an open source program is that they might not get anything in return for their services (i.e. recognition, or payment) but that is not a free economy way of thinking (other than recognition for what you have done, it does make sense to want to have your name on your work) the 'payment' that an editor of any open source program gets is the program itself and many others.

Someone might say, "But a lot of people dont know how to write code to fix or modify programs, are they just freeloaders?" Not at all. These 'freeloaders' act as advertising for this free software; they try out some open source software and then tell their friends about it and how its completely free! Those friends may then try and and spread it even further. Eventually that software is discovered by more and more people some of whom are programmers who can change the program for the better.

OSS is only one example though, Wikipedia is another great Gift Economy way of thinking. Put up information that anyone can change or add onto to make it more accurate or informative. Wikipedia is free to all and open for all to change.

Wikipedia does have its own drawbacks. Some pretty big ones too.
If everyone can get onto Wikipedia then can't anyone go and change information to whatever they like? The answer is yes and no. People can get onto Wikipedia and change the contents of a whole article to whatever they like, however Wikipedia staff is constantly checking the entirety of any changes made to check for errors or just plain wrong content; other users are also doing the same, if they see that something is wrong they can take it into their own hands to change the information to be correct.

A Gift Economy with the other 5 categories present in a Free Economy would a very good thing to look forward to.