Friday, September 26, 2008

Copynot: IP Industries Sans Robust IP Law

So, after reading Suzanne Vega's article about remixes of her Tom's Diner song, I was discussing IP law with JK and for some reason the fashion industry and its complete lack of IP protection (as a norm, they could use it) came up, and we further discussed magicians and chefs as two other IP industries that do not use IP law to protect their intellectual assets. I don't believe comedians do either.

So, no, intellectual "property" industries don't need robust legal protection for their assets.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Microsoft Advertisements

This post is not about those completely nonsensical Seinfeld and Gates ads. And no, talking about the ads in this case really isn't a good thing, since we question the sanity of Microsoft's decisions.

This post is about the more recent "I'm a PC" advertisements from Microsoft. These ads remind viewers of the Apple ads. We think about Apple the entire time. We think how seriously Microsoft must take these Apple ads and the products behind them. Microsoft wants us to take Microsoft seriously, so, we in turn have to take seriously the things Microsoft takes seriously, and that's Apple. 

Great when your competitors are paying for ads that make consumers think about you as something to be reckoned with.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Pigs are Flying

Just moments ago, I was watching the intolerably advertisement-filled NFL halftime show to see how the Pats are being demolished, so far, by Miami, and what snippet of a song does the NFL use for an NFL ad? Yes. You guessed it. Everyday Is Like Sunday. Ok they used some cover version probably made just for the ad, and they only used that one line, but, I'm speechless (besides this paragraph, which means I'm not speechless at all). 

Saturday, September 20, 2008

R.E.M. & N.M., "Photograph"

...television's just a dream...

I have always loved that song, and that's the best line.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Digital Entertainment Content Ecosystem (DECE)

Ok, let's be honest, until it has shipping products merely talking about it is advertising vaporeware, but, let's talk about it, or, more accurately, let's steal from the NYT and discuss that.

"...deliver a product to the consumer that's better than free," said Mitch Singer, chief technology officer at Sony Pictures and the lead architect of DECE.
What a horribly marketing thing to say. Better than free? Sure, catchy slogans can be helpful, but a working product is better. Better than free should make you all react with not possible.

There are "several precedent-setting principles" that DECE would bring about. "Participating devices and services will be interoperable regardless of differing brands or corporate provenance" is one. I really thought I could play any CD on my Apple computer, my Sony car walkman (16 years old), my Sony PS2, my Microsoft Xbox 360, or in my car, regardless of publisher. And I'm pretty sure I can play MP3s in a lot of places. DVDs and region codes, well, that was an industry idea wasn't it? 

"DECE would allow an unlimited number of copies of a video to be created or burned onto a disc." CDs aside, that would be very different from DVDs. I have read industry hacks lamenting the CD and praising the DRM on DVDs, but I knew (and so did you) that we don't listen to such people. Of course they don't mention how much it would cost, but it's better than free, so, well, I don't know what that means. They pay us to copy it, perhaps. That's certainly less than free, but is it better? 

This one is rather incredible:
The consumer would even have the option of not storing the copy at all, but rather streaming it from a server-based "rights locker" that can be tapped from any location.
Recall how the RIAA sent their lawyers after to stop something similar in 2000.

So, don't believe it until you see it, and even then be doubtful. Economists have shown how lowering costs reduces piracy (I have an article on it somewhere), but most of the industry seems to stick to their old ways. Apple gets it ($0.99 songs with weak DRM to keep consumers and the industry happy). We will see what happens.

Thursday, September 11, 2008


I am going to a wedding in.... somewhere. Somewhere I have never heard of, PA. But the geography is rather striking in the current Google maps satellite view, with NE/SW ridges running to the south and bumpy hills to the north. Ha! It's my old friends,  the Appalachians!

Science! CERN!

Awesome. The Large Hadron Collider! Between this graphic at the NYT and a five-part series of PhD Comics, we've got it covered.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Peeve: Web Fail

So the Web is supposed to be all about making information available (no, really, I'm not kidding). I was trying to collect some data for a project (journal citations, no not ISI) and, using Safari, got a page that said this:

You have attempted to log on using the Mac Safari browser. Unfortunately, Safari's logon support is limited and does not work with [institution]. Try any other browser (e.g., Netscape, IE, Firefox, Opera, etc.) to log on correctly.
Ok. This from an institution that has as its banner "Continuous online service and innovation since 1986". Idiots. Real innovative there. So, yes, I went and got Firefox (I know, you are appalled I was not using it already). By the way Safari's logon support is not limited. I tried again. Here is what I got:
Since you are not a member of [institution] and your institution does not contribute support for [institution] through the institutional affiliates program, you are not authorized to obtain files from this server.
Nice. Thanks. Good thing you didn't tell me that initially, that would have been too innovative to think of. Imbeciles.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Peeve: Web Texts

And PDFs, since this post is motivated by the last straw of a PDF. Black text on a white background is based on black ink (the standard) on white paper (the current standard). There is absolutely no reason to do this with your web pages. Honestly I find the contrast way too high and it hurts my eyes most if the time. Netscape, or more accurately Netscape Navigator, used to default pages to black text on a light grey background, which I think is a much better contrast ratio. Yes, you are probably thinking I could adjust my monitor, but no, the brightness is down all the way (I admit on my last computer I would have it up all the way, so I am aware of the issues). 

Yes, we do base new technologies on old ones. Horses seem to benefit... suffer... in this nomenclature. The iron horse was the locomotive (crazy motion?), and the horseless carriage was the automobile (self moving). The telephone was based on and considered an extension of the telegraph. Radio was at first called wireless telegraphy and was indeed used in that way.

But, after a while, we move beyond the considerations of the old technology and realize new potential with the new one. I feel we've done that with the Internet, but not in this one key area. Interface experts abound (well, maybe not at certain companies). 

This is why I use the blogger template that I do. I hate the brightness of the intentionally paper-white backgrounds. This isn't paper. It's much, much more.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Favorite PAX Photo

This is easily my favorite shot from the ones I took at PAX. A guy cosplaying the medic from TF2, looking oh-so-longingly at an ambulance that has stopped (which he did for quite some time). Too bad the minivan is in the way, but that's how it goes. PAX 2008 sign in the upper-left is pretty good though. Something about the guy's posture is just so.... medically precise...

Home Again

I will miss having my posts have a correct timestamp. PAX was awesome. I tend to write short posts, Kotaku has a bunch of long posts. Hmm didn't see Crecente, but there was a lot to see (I could have walked right past him). Aha! He filmed this about five feet to my left (I got out of there, since I was holding my Fallout 3 poster with one hand, so only had my right hand to grab flying boxed figures and fend off accidental elbows). If he had only swept the camera to the right a little more! Now I have to go and clean up all my mobile posts (add tags and expand them and links and such).

Did I do what I set out to? Pretty much. Here was my list:
  • Wil Wheaton: Awesome panel! 
  • Spore: Yes, it is cool.
  • The Keynote: Eh.
  • Jonathan Coulton: Too late, given time zones.
3/4 is good. And I have like 60 Rockstar stickers, so I am happy about that. I saw more Halo 3 than I ever imagined, especially Griffball at the Rooster Teeth booth. The Fallout 3 marketing is awesome.