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May 4th, 2002

I Spy!

The government has ordered SonicBlue, manufacturer of some high-end DVRs, to spy on its users and turn all of that information over to the TV and movie studios named as plantiffs.

Amazing. We choose to pay for these devices, including a monthly charge, so we can avoid advertisements and watch programs when we want. The government has now essentially said that we must give up anonymity if we want to do so. Will they ever get it?

Posted in Miscellaneous

FROM: Viren
DATE: Saturday May 4, 2002 -- 7:13:02 pm
Well SonicBlue has 60 days to comply.....which means developing software to track their users habits. Ha.
Also, it's almost a guarantee that there will be an appeal on privacy grounds.



FROM: Marcus Mackey
DATE: Tuesday May 14, 2002 -- 3:16:24 am
Well the reason this is going on from what I gather, is that there's a way to take a ReplayTV and hook it directly to a home PC. The end-user can then download the on-air quality video (which with digital cable is DVD-quality) and then take it and burn it in a consumer DVD-R that most consumer DVD players can play. I don't know if you have to convert the video signal by encoding it or not (MPEG4) to do so, as I almost believe that it's pre-encoded as DVD capable. Yet, this is why I think everyone's up in arms... it's video piracy in a sense. Yet, like this hasn't gone on for years anyhow...

The irony to me is, noone out there in the industry complains when someone uses any old VCR to record videos off of TV. Noone complains when you take a movie taped off of TV and drop the tape off at a friend's house. I mean, I don't see where TDK or Maxell or Sony has been required to put home tracking devices on their VHS tapes to assure that they're only played in specific VCR's that are encryptically-coded and used to track an end-user's usage of their old Betamax. ;-)

Maybe I better watch it... they'll put a Lo-jack on my T-120's ("We're sorry Mr. Mackey, but you're under arrest... you brought a copy of Discovery Channel's "DINOSAURS" over to your uncle that doesn't have cable... AT&T will now be forced to pummel you for invading their coverage area and hit you with stiff fines)... hehehe Or they'll get up in arms if I don't sit and watch another Aflac commercial. Dare I flip that Geico add with the gecko for fear of being tracked down and beaten for not opting to have marketing dribble crammed down my throat?

Why is the world really starting to mimic the book "1984"? Maybe someone can explain that. Numerically tracked? Yikes... I guess "Big Brother" really is watching...



FROM: Ryan
DATE: Tuesday May 14, 2002 -- 9:25:16 am
noone out there in the industry complains when someone uses any old VCR to record videos off of TV

Ah, but they did when it came out! (See the reference to the "Betamax defense" here.)

I particularly like this phrase: "If a new technology has a single present or potential legal use that is of social or commercial importance, then there cannot be a bar against the use of that technology." Amen!



FROM: Marcus Mackey
DATE: Wednesday May 15, 2002 -- 6:06:00 am
Ah, but they did when it came out!

"Uses" was said in my ping in present tense. ;-) I knew they did waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay back in the day (I still have my Sony Betamax around here someplace, so I can remember it well) after they realized that this was infiltrating a potential market where they held the control to gang-rape us all in that oh-so-wonderful way that any capitalist axe-grinder yields to wield on us. Then again, that's vastly becoming the "American Dream" of business; in no particular order:

"How cheap can we make this..."

"How many yields can we receive off of it..."

"How fast can we ship..."

"How much can we charge..."

In the end... the goal is to produce things as cheaply (even if that means poorly and often it does) as possible and yet, make as much off of it as they can, and produce in high enough yields to get extremely wealthy before the company tanks on itself due to poor quality control issues that build poor brand equity and effectively kill the brand (that's if it's a new brand, if it's longstanding it just finds a way to go on in perpetual existence by producing the same thing on a different day, in a slightly different way in that deja vu sense). People that once cared so vehemently about the quality of the products either choose to go and spend a fortune on a quality product from a reputable mfg., or think in the throw-away anti-environmentalist way (I'd say a good 90% of America thinks this way) that says "Hey, I'll buy brand-x... it's $30 vs. $300, and if it breaks in 20 days time, I'll just buy another one." This in turn more than likely will evaluate out to purchasing about 10 of the $30 item, thereby spending as much as you would on the $300 item in the firstplace (with lots of excess waste in broken components), and more than likely would get better value out of the more expensive item. Many times, you do get what you pay for...

I think this is altogether evident by Paul's Best Buy experience (and why I rarely buy anything "equipment" related through them as I rarely find any of their brands nor their staff as adequate as *any* Circuit City I've been to), as well as how quickly the RIAA went after Napster, then sought to try to blast Gnutella's varying software providers.

Yet what the RIAA fails to see, and what most anti-piracy groups fail to see...

People don't care.

I mean, we've all been screwed long enough by what they've done with poor quality CD's at exorbitant pricing points with a "singular" song of merit and a bunch of subpar crap that in the end... the RIAA did the worst thing it could do. It in attacking Napster, whether it kills Napster or not, started a burgeoning piracy industry. People felt like by taking away something in which they truly loved, that the RIAA was against them. The funniest part is right after they went after Napster, was when record sales went into a tailspin. Many people back in the day used Napster for a try before you buy it entity. Afterwards... feeling scorned, they rebuffed the RIAA for their actions.

Granted, piracy has been nothing new... but it's been fairly well controlled within a small realm of 3r337 h4x0r folks that make up a relatively small part of the population (but one where most turned the other cheek). However, now every snot-nosed punk with high-speed internet can get just about any movie, song, program/game just by typing it into Limewire or KaZaA or Morpheus or XoLoX or KaZaA Lite or Audio Galaxy or Rapster or WinMX or... well, you get the picture.

People are effectively ripping the system in that oh-so KMFDM of ways. They're doing what they "WANT" whether it's legal or not, largely because at this stage of the game, noone can really stop them. What, do you think the Federal Government is going to arrest well over 50% of the computer-endowed population that makes this country tick? LoL Riiiiighhhtttt.... they can make a few examples, but those examples will be overlooked. Noone cares if one software hacker or person goes down. I doubt it'd even be frontpage news... as lord knows many kids on campuses were made examples of, and yet... has piracy ceased?

I don't think so...

Yet I do agree with that quote Ryan, the:

"If a new technology has a single present or potential legal use that is of social or commercial importance, then there cannot be a bar against the use of that technology."

Yet... that could be taken in so many different ways it's not even funny. I'd venture to go past "technology" as what technology really is in a sense is something that is cutting edge, developed by people in some timeframe that was way ahead of it's time.

In a sense... that's sorta' like Fred Flinstone inventing a stone wheel.

Hey, it's technology for the stone age...

So, some harboring Native American found out that payote (sp?) could help them find the spirit world...

technology

What about the scientists that found out about LSD, helped realize it's creation and manufacture...

hey, technology

Of course you'll say "But not all of those technologies have the single present..."

Ummm, that is arguable. It's all perception really Ryan. What you think is a "single present or potential legal use that is of social or commercial importance..." might not be to another person, and yet what might be of importance to yet another won't fit within your contexts...

Therefore, one could make an argument for marijuana's medicinal importances. How LSD could eventually yield ways to understand some element of *good* for humanity. Anyone can make a case for anything, if even in the "social" context of that argument. Therefore, one could come up with numerous arguments about any drug out there almost. Even cocaine could make an effective poison if used correctly. That could be of importance...

My belief is, the only laws that should be written are those that morally help keep the feeble in-line. In a lot of ways, if you don't expand your mind and your horizons, think outside the box, or hell... think in general, you're like a Lemming, feeding on what society gives us. This could be proven by the sheer arguments about how tobacco companies have pushed cigarettes on people. Yet, marketing doesn't dictate or control us, does it?

I don't think so.

If so, then I assume Joe Camel in my youth woulda' had me lighting up a pack a day by age 12. The Hamm's beer Bear woulda' made me drink Hamm's as a 7 year old. The Jolly Green Giant and his little Sprout would've made me crave asparagus morning, noon, and night.

Hmmm, none of that happened...

So the point I guess is, did the Marlboro man really force emphysema and lung cancer on thousands of people, or did people relate to an image in a marketing ad for a product and jump in head over heels without using their brains to realize how stupid it is to believe anything you see on TV or in magazines that denotes a way to improve your character. Does Winston sponsoring NASCAR or Drag Racing really push more people to become smokers, or is it more peer pressure, or in my opinion... lack of self-esteem combined with external imagery in ads with a share of lack of self-rationalizaton and education to the harsh realities of life?

So now that I've turned this 3 ways 'til Sunday LoL I'll let you ponder all of this. Personally I feel that the more our government gains control of things, the weaker the people that make this nation have become. Yeah we vote... but for a pair of circus clowns in monkey suits who both have as much grasp of what this country needs as Krusty the Clown on The Simpsons. They're about as real too if you think about it.

The real issues get skirted aside while each party heckles each other over infinite details. Rather than work on a "bill" that contains 500 million subdetails that more than likely gets shelved in a stalemate (just like Healthcare reform), why not restructure government where a core idea gets voted on, gets Yay or Nay'ed and then we take that and build off of it by adding elements. Instead of a "Bill" persay, how about we call it a "Container" that gets voted on, and then the sides of Congress vote on the "Elements" that fill it to make a "Bill" in the end once fully agreed upon?

Our country has really become counter-productive and yet... we're also all so huggy/snuggly after 9.11 that we can't see that while our Commander and Chief has elaborately found a way, whether by his own doing (campchaos.com seems to think that Bush had something planned for Afghanistan months before this all happened) or by an element of chance, to get the perils of our economy and the real issues like Social Security and the like out of his coffin he was set to be nailed into... he's inadvertently been able to use the media to push, push, push on a war that has kept so much of our focus that what has really gotten done? Is the economy really turning around or is Greenspan just telling us that for the 50 millionth time things are looking good whilst many web designers sit hamstrung by the industry? If Clinton's Somalia and Iraq wars were "Wagging the dog", as was Bush's original "Desert Storm", then this ring-around-the-rosy chasing of Osama bin Laden has us all glued to CNN waiting in earnest while we slowly rebuild Afghanistan with our money into the country we've always wanted it to be, gaining valuable alliances (the new Government we helped align) to obtain resources for the future. Yet it also helps create a diversion from real issues, issues that ol' Dubya doesn't have to quarrel over if noone's realizing that "NOONE" is paying attention to them. When you have no agenda going in, you best be good at singing a "Song and Dance". Dubya can mambo in his sleep, cha-cha while awake, and still have time to two-step with the head of Israel on a weekend away from Camp David.

That still doesn't fix Social Security now does it?

How can we be turning the corner when the 5th largest company in the United States collapsed? I can't see us rebounding very quickly from that. Think of all of the people for that company that lost their jobs? That's a colossal loss. How about now having Andersen Consulting, one of the largest accounting firms in the industry get brought into this and possibly face the firing squad too? I don't see an economic upturn in-sight with these "HUGE" issues still wavering out there... and the market's been rather floaty even with all of the assurances and promises to prove my gut feeling.

It's more in a state of flux than turning the corner... floundering in it's pseudo-roller-coaster ways. To me, that means it's in serious limbo, and could cave in or rocket, only to plunge or spike again. That's an uncertain market, not one on the rise, turnaround.

Funny how I turned one discussion on piracy into a need for a reform movement, but it all ties in. Let's face it, people want things to work for them. For the last... lord knows how many years since the constitution was drafted and "We the people..." were the intended empowerment, things have changed. Yes we have a say (about as much as we do on Summer fashions that are dreamed up by hairbrained designers in Paris or Tommy-wear that is attractive as well... hmmm... no idea), but even that can be damaged by a dangling chad (think about the election again), or a balloting that plays on the feeble minded nature of uneducated America. We develop rules opposing jay-walking, and look at pro/anti-abortion rulings as the real crux of America yet... what is America's problem? Is it so pent-up in details, or is it the fact that the majority of people are either restricted from doing that which we want (i.e. legalization of marijuana would do what to this country? Make it legal so that people that did no crime other than have a hellacious hankering for Taco Bell when done would be legal to buy more food? Top it off stuff like this creates *black markets* for this stuff and promotes smuggling and hiding of it in the same fashion that made Al Capone so wealthy... the war against drugs is the Prohibition of it's era, only far worse and somehow, I feel the Government is in on the revenues), or are finding ways to shaft the next person by some heinous loopholes in the way laws are poorly written. Opening things up in a more moral sense, and yet re-working the system to allow humanity to hold the control, rather than the big businesses that have bought out politics and the elections and the marketing and propoganda and infested us with slander and fence-sitting on real issues... that's the real problem. Not how I use a TiVo or a ReplayTV to watch a copy of Friends and send it to a friend 1/2 way across the U.S. that doesn't have the channel in their broadcasting.

Whew... hehe, I'm beat. LoL



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