33 posts • joined Thursday 10th March 2011 19:47 GMT
As a publisher, Eric Flint has already addressed this issue...
...over a decade ago. Baen Publishing has been selling DRM free books for almost 20 years and making a mint at it. In 2000, they went even further and introduced the Baen Free Library to drum up interest in new authors. As Eric Flint said in part in the Introduction to the BFL:
"There was a school of thought, which seemed to be picking up steam, that the way to handle the problem was with handcuffs and brass knucks. Enforcement! Regulation! New regulations! Tighter regulations! All out for the campaign against piracy! No quarter! Build more prisons! Harsher sentences!
Alles in ordnung!
I, ah, disagreed. Rather vociferously and belligerently, in fact. And I can be a vociferous and belligerent fellow. My own opinion, summarized briefly, is as follows:
1. Online piracy — while it is definitely illegal and immoral — is, as a practical problem, nothing more than (at most) a nuisance. We're talking brats stealing chewing gum, here, not the Barbary Pirates.
2. Losses any author suffers from piracy are almost certainly offset by the additional publicity which, in practice, any kind of free copies of a book usually engender. Whatever the moral difference, which certainly exists, the practical effect of online piracy is no different from that of any existing method by which readers may obtain books for free or at reduced cost: public libraries, friends borrowing and loaning each other books, used book stores, promotional copies, etc."
In Prime Palaver#6, he showed that both he and David Drake both saw INCREASED sales after putting their works up in the BFL. See
for the gory details.
The Appeals Court judges are right. The more publicity that authors get, the better it is for the authors. This entire suit has been wrong-headed from the beginning.
You're joking, right?
"Given that Apache, Lighttpd, and Nginx are all open source software, it's not surprising that the attackers behind Cdorked were able to insert their backdoor code into all three."
Since when have FLOSS servers been the ones who have been most at risk? I STRONGLY advise a retraction of this obviously wrong and inflammatory statement. FLOSS has been shown again and again and again to be both more secure and the project teams have been MORE responsive to security vulnerabilities than all of their closed source competitors.
Don't believe me? A quick visit to
will quickly demonstrate just how wrong this position is.
Another great film! High Noon in space, but a space western done right. If you've never seen this gem starring Sean Connery as the Sheriff and Peter Boyle as the cynical corporate manager of the mine on Io, you're missing a real treat. :-)
Actually, it is Samsung, Apple, then everyone else.
See Tomi Ahonen's blog post from last Thursday:
Re: Let me correct that for you
Not to mention the sheer size of the OOXML standard makes it impossible to determine that it's internally correct throughout:
* Part 1 (Fundamentals and Markup Language Reference) This part has 5560 pages. (No, that's not a typo.)
* Part 2 (Open Packaging Conventions) This part has 129 pages.
* Part 3 (Markup Compatibility and Extensibility) This part has 40 pages.
* Part 4 (Transitional Migration Features) This part has 1464 pages.
For a grand total of 7,193 pages! And you thought War and Peace was long! lol
By contrast, the OpenDocument format is about a tenth of that. That is much closer to being in line with a typical ISO standard.
You're joking, right?
People keep saying this as if repeating it endlessly will make it true. Whether they realize it or not, a touch interface is the LAST thing that most people want on a desktop. Desktops and laptops require a different interface that is tuned to keyboard and mouse input because it's a different working model. It's about content creation on a desktop, not consumption.
And before you point to the built-in soft keyboards on tablets, I have yet to see anyone typing with anywhere near the speed that I know that they're capable of on a full keyboard. From what I've personally witnessed, most lose about 75-90% of their typing efficiency. That may be OK for banging out a quick tweet or Facebook post, but it's FAR from adequate for anyone trying to write anything more complex than a couple of paragraphs. I can't imagine that attempting to write even a short 3-5 page paper using a touch UI, let alone something even a few tens of pages long.
Then there's attempting to use touch and gestures to do a mouse's job. Ever try to draw with one? Or work on a complex technical diagram that requires precise positioning for selection? I thought not.
Don't get me wrong. I think a touch driven interface is great for tablets and phones. It's just that it's a lousy UI model for desktops and laptops. Eventually this fad will fade and we'll see a return to a more logical split in UIs.
Maybe NATO should follow the lead of the USMC?
I'm sure that Colt would be willing to license manufacturing to a solid UK firm. ;-)
Nobody has mentioned SpiderOak yet?
Just because so many cloud companies are getting data backups wrong doesn't mean you have to assume that everyone is. I don't trust the cloud with my data. But I don't trust my own local backups either. Any sysadmin who has even a half a clue knows that you need more than one backup technique built on different architectures, each of which is geographically separate by at least 10 miles. NEVER assume that one backup solution is sufficient. ALWAYS assume that there will be a failure in any design. This is Basic Backup 101!
A guy at work recommended SpiderOak a while back. After reading this page I was willing to drop $100/year to back up 100 GB:
My only affiliation with SpiderOak is as a satisfied customer. I've been using SpiderOak to provide a remote back up my wife's critical business files and my own personal files for about a year and a half. It's reasonably priced and has been remarkably stable. Only one glitch that lasted about 2 days, and that may have been due to a PEBKAC error on my part. All in all, I think they provide a very solid backup solution.
Given what I've said above, does that mean that I no longer keep a local copy of everything? Nope, of course not. In fact, I've got a couple of local backups driven by simple rsync jobs. But I'm damn glad I've got a solid offsite backup solution at a reasonable cost, too. In my view that's what a cloud solution really buys you.
no, it's both copyrights AND patents.
"Congress shall have power...
"To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries;"
Might help if you check your sources now and again...
What??? No Operation Flashpoint:Cold War Crisis or ArmA?
I would've thought a unique European title like that would have made your list for sure. That series still has some of the largest gaming environments ever created and one of the best mission editors I've ever seen.
Heck, I dug a deeper hole than that when I was a kid! lol
Well, me and my two younger sisters did.
One crisp October when I was about 15, my dad decided we needed a new dry well as an extension of our sewage system before the snow fell. Naturally, he was too busy to do much digging, so it fell to us kids to get the job done.
The soil on our lot was mostly sugar sand, which made it easy to dig in. It had just enough clay in it to stick together, thankfully, as you'll find out in a minute.
We started by dropping an iron ring on the ground that was 8 feet in diameter. Using your basic #2 shovels, a wheelbarrow, buckets, a block and tackle, and a long ladder, we started digging inside the circumference and underneath the ring so it could settle into the ground.
As the ring dropped below the surface, we started adding interlocking bricks that were designed to fit on it. Each one foot high brick had a notch cut out of the bottom so the sewage would eventually leach out through the holes.
8 feet and courses of brick later, we stopped adding bricks and kept digging. At 13 feet (4 meters) we finally stopped, climbed out of the hole, and had a concrete cover lowered into place.
That last 5 feet of digging while the sand occasionally slumped in was a little exciting, to say the least! :-) We learned to stand in the middle as much as possible to avoid having that cold sand dumped on our back. Still, it could have been a lot worse. The clay in the sand held it together just enough to prevent anything like a major cave in.
Just goes to show what can be done with a little sweat and creativity when you have to save a buck or two. ;-)
I dropped my basic Dish network subscription for a Roku box, a Netflix account, and a Hulu+ account. That saves me somewhere north of $80/month. In addition to those two channels, that little Roku box gives me access to more than 300 other channels, including NBC's news, the WSJ, CNN, etc.
Add in a OTA antenna for local live broadcasting, and I'm set. Why on earth would I want to step into Apple's walled garden when I can get so much more from other vendors?
Re: Oh, joy -- our US gun nuts have reached El Reg.
Tell it to the Swiss.
In my case, though, I went upstream and switched to Debian stable.
Don't forget Skype!
"So the carriers truly hate Skype. Dont' take my word for it, Elop himself told the Nokia shareholders that yes, Skype is severely disliked by operators/carriers and by some to that extreme degree they have refused to sell any current Microsoft Windows based smarphones - which don't even have Skype preinstalled. This not because of Skype but because Microsoft now owns Skype. It does not matter whether you think this is fair, or illogical, or even you believe it is true. Stephen Elop, the CEO of Nokia, tells the Nokia shareholder meeting, he formally talks as Nokia CEO to the owners of Nokia, and this is on video and in transcript - that the reason carriers hate Windows Phone smartphones is because Microsoft now owns Skype. Not because you and I use Skype on some phone on Android or whatever. Elop says, the reason carriers hate Windows Phone smartphones is because Microsoft now owns Skype - and Elop tells us some have gone as far to stop selling any Windows smarpthones not just Lumias. Go watch the video!"
We loved it! :)
Use the right tool for the right job.
If you're looking for The One True Language to Do All Things, you're looking at the problem wrong. As Google, Weta, the Mozilla Foundation, CERN, and many, many other organizations have found, Python scales up to some huge work loads. The trick is to use it where it works well and choose other languages where it is appropriate to do so.
As a devoted Python fan, I'll be the first to admit that it does have its weaknesses. It was never meant to be a speed demon for writing code close to the metal, for one. Managing multiple threads can be a challenge, too, if you don't think through your design ahead of time. Even with these challenges, as I noted above there are plenty of organizations using Python to run some HUGE work loads. CERN, for one, uses it to manage hundreds of petabytes of data for analysis:
Python's strengths lie exactly where they should be to make long term maintenance of any application easy:
1) Python makes writing easy to read code easy to do. This is critical when you have to dive into a module that you haven't looked at for a long time or when taking over code maintenance from someone else. (Note: While some will argue that you can write easy to read code in any language, only the most stubborn will say that every language makes this task as easy as Python does.)
2) Python's native development environment and ease of writing code makes rapid prototyping almost trivially simple. For simple tasks, moving from a working prototype to production is much faster than in many other languages. As you noted as a weakness but I see as a strength, Python also allows a small scale application to grow quite large before it has to be replaced.
I see this as a strength, not a weakness, for two reasons. First, writing clean code in Python is easy enough that rewriting from scratch in a new design much less expensive than it would be in C or Java. Second, see reason #3:
3) Python has a wide range of predefined modules written in C that handle the heavy lifting for compute intensive tasks. Where such a module doesn't exist, Python makes it easy and computationally cheap to call out to other resources to handle those tasks. Which leads us to advantages #4 and #5:
4) Because it's so easy to call out to external resources, it's easy to rewrite just the performance pain points in a more appropriate language.
5) Because it's so easy to call out to external resources, it's easy to design an application from the ground up that uses Python to stitch together disparate sources to complete a task.
6) Finally, Python is popular enough and has been around long enough that there is a very large pool of battle hardened libraries already built for you. Outside of the obvious things like NumPy, SciPy, PyQt, Django, etc., a little googling will turn up plenty of options for just about any task.
So, don't worry about replacing an app written in Python. You won't. ;-) (kidding! sort of) You might replace some pieces over time, but doing so is so easy that you won't mind at all.
What's with the obsessive focus on clouds from Danny?
I just took a quick look at his story list here at the Reg. He's done nothing but talk about the cloud since March. There are other aspects to technology, you know. :-)
Re: Player mods?
I honestly don't expect to see much in the way of player modification allowed for this model. Companies that like the centralized server approach are far more likely to be looking for some sort of micropayments model instead; get players in cheaply then offer tons of DLC content for $2-10 per item. Letting players do their own mods will make this a much less appealing business model.
This is why I no longer play TF2, for example. When I'm in the mood for some TF, I'll look for a Team Fortress Classic server instead. I would far rather play a game that lets the players run their own servers, build up their own communities, and play the game by the rules that they like. It's a business model that made the initial fortunes of Epic, id software, and Valve.
I realize that my preferences are not necessarily mainstream. That's OK. I've always been a big believer in a diverse marketplace. I think there's plenty of room for both the old school gamers who want all that control, the newer players who prefer the pre-baked solutions, the single player only guys who never bother to get online, and every combination of the above and anything else you can imagine. As long as there's a reasonably free market, we'll all be able to play what we want.
I wanted to comment on this paragraph in particular:
JustNiz brings up good points in his comments about how VGX will be used for online gaming. I’ll be addressing at least some of them in an upcoming in-depth blog. Briefly, I think there are reasons to be optimistic. Not every change is for the worse, and I think it’s likely that users will see a better gaming experience in some ways. Servers will run games faster and much more efficiently. Developers will only have to write for one platform, meaning they can put more $$ into either making more/better games or reducing prices.
The downside to this approach is that it makes player mods much more difficult to build and deploy safely. While console players may regard this as no great loss, those of us who have been playing PC games for several years will recognize that this will inevitably lead to a loss in creativity. Off the top of my head, I can think of Counter-Strike, Team Fortress, and Red Orchestra as free mods that became commercial releases in their own right. id software's long commitment to open editing for the Doom and Quake series, Neverwinter Nights' editing tools, the Operation Flashpoint/ArmA series mission editors, Civilization's player tools, Unreal Tournament editors, and Company of Heroes editing tools all extended the viability and replayability of the underlying games.
Heck, entire genres were invented by players. Capture the Flag is just one classic example. It's a game style that shows up in game engines of all sorts these days yet it was originally just another player mod; Threewave's CTF for Quake.
All of this creativity is inherently more difficult to encourage as more technical control is taken away from players. I expect that if the economics of the proposed technology prove themselves, some game companies will take advantage of this format. I expect some will move almost exclusively to it. Frankly, I also don't expect that I'll be too interested in most of those games. :(
(Mine's the one with an old Quake 2 CD in the pocket next to the ArmA2 DVD.)
Baen Free Library
Note: My only connection to Baen is as a very, VERY satisified customer. All of the below information, though, is easily verifiable just by browsing the two sites that I talk about below.
Baen Publishing, by far the most reader friendly publisher of e-books in any genre, has hosted the Baen Free Library for several years. They use it as a means of getting people to check out new authors and re-releases of the giants of sci-fi and fantasy. Several of the authors mentioned in this thread are listed here, plus quite a few others that don't have quite the same name recognition but should be on everyone's Must Read list. Names like Larry Niven, Jerry Pournelle, Andre Norton, Keith Laumer, and Murray Leinster are there. Newer names include Lois McMaster Bujold, Eric Flint, David Weber, David Drake, and Elizabeth Moon. You can find them at:
Once you're done browsing through the Library, check out the store:
E-books with no DRM so you can read them anywhere on any device. Quoting from their FAQ:
"What is Baen Ebooks' DRM policy?
Baen is committed to remaining free of Digital Rights Management (DRM).
All of Baen's Ebooks available on its Baen Ebookstore are DRM-free and available worldwide. Once you purchase one of our Ebooks, you can download it as many times as you would like, in as many of the seven formats we provide, for as many Ereaders as you'd like."
Prices are VERY reasonable with novels typically going for $6.00US, bundled novels for about $24US, and ARCs (Advanced Readers' Copy, or semi-finished drafts for readers who simply can't wait for the final release to publication) for $15.
A dozen other publishing houses are beginning to dip their toes in the water there, as well. While most have only one or a handful of books up, three have listed dozens. (E-Reads, Ford Street Publishing, and Night Shade Publishing).
It looks like Baen Ebooks now lists books from a couple of hundred authors. Just a few to keep the typical sci-fi or fantasy loving geek awake at night for months. :-)
Don't forget, CBS didn't just turn down Apple. The same management team refused to join Hulu, too. Every major U.S. OTA broadcaster except CBS has most of their content available through Hulu. That makes their content available through the Web, smart TVs, Roku boxes, Apple TV, etc.
This CEO may be smart enough to run the second largest TV company in the world, but I think he's missing a HUGE bet. The response to Hulu's combination of a small subscription fee combined with limited commercials is positive, and the various consortium members seem to be very happy with how much they're making from it. The service keeps growing in both content and in offered services, anyhow.
I think CBS risks losing a good deal of viewership as people's habits change. Obviously, this CEO doesn't think that risk is significant enough to be an issue.
What Levine is ignoring or doesn't realise...
Is that the traditional model has failed and the dinosaurs in the various entertainment industries (music, video, and publishing) are desperately fighting a rearguard action with all the wrong weapons. The real picture isn't just Big Company A, B, and C vs. Big Company X, Y, and Z. There's a whole lot more happening in the middle that many people think provide real value at more realistic prices.
While Google et. al. versus Sony & Co. gets lots of splashy headlines, Apple showed the way with iTunes. Dump DRM, supply a good product for a reasonable price, and people will flock to buy.
A couple of examples from the publishing industry: Take a look at the success that Baen Publishing has had with its ebook website at $6 or less per book. Everything is DRM free. They are now acting as a storefront for a dozen smaller publishers.
Smashwords has gone even further in developing author friendly services and also encourage releasing books as cheaply as possible. They also release all books DRM free.
Both companies encourage releasing a lot of material at no cost as a cheap way to advertise. As Eric Flint once observed, the biggest obstacle that an author faces is just getting his or her name known.
In the online video business, Netflix, Hulu, Crackle, and dozens of smaller companies provide access to tons of material at little or no cost to the consumer. Their business models are based on small subscription fees, advertising, or both. This is a market that is growing exponentially, too.
Yet Amazon and some of the other big companies in the movie business want to pretend that a $3 rental for a 30 year old movie ON TOP OF an $80/year subscription is still a valid price. Ummmm, no. Not to this potential customer.
Similar activities can be found here and there in the music business as well. Songwriters and musicians are slowly coming to the realization that Joan Mitchell and Courtney Love are right. The traditional music business has been cheating them for years. They have figured out that they can make a lot more by publishing music on their own, then going out on tour to promote live shows.
Here, the real pioneers are two bands that have been following a "Give it all away and we'll still make money" business model for decades; Phish and the Grateful Dead. They showed the way even before Apple made it obvious. :-)
You ever try sharing bandwidth in a household with more than one other person? I've got my wife and three daughters to compete with, all with big video appetites. More than once I've seen my connection to a gameserver bog down to the point of being completely useless. It's gotten to the point that we have to schedule who gets to do what and when or our DSL line is too swamped to use.
BTW, why the automatic assumption that all downloading is illegal? Just a question.
So far off from the truth it isn't even wrong.
"There is a reason why the documentation for commercial open source software (which does not have a "sugar daddy" sponsor at least) is often utter shite, it's so that they can legally (by the GPL) sting you for support costs as it's the only way of getting money back. See the ridiculous state of affairs where some companies are obfuscating their updates as others try to supply support in their place. Completely unsustainable.
A horribly misleading licence with disasterous consequences for the quality of software using it."
Tell that to Red Hat. IBM. Amazon. Wall Street. Google. The U.S. DoD. The people running more than 91% of the world's top 500 supercomputers. Weta Digital. The London Stock Exchange.
Taken a look around your house lately for any new electronic gadgets? Bought a WiFi router? New TV? A car? Odds approach unity that you've got software licensed under the GPL in your house right now and just don't know it.
(Facepalm due to the cluelessness of the preceding poster.)
"In MY day, we had Phil Specter's 'Wall of Sound'...
...and we LIKED it!"
Seriously, though. He's the clown who really started the push-the-sliders-all-the-way-up-so-it-blasts-out-of-those-cheap-transistor-radios crap back in the '60s. CDs only accelerated the trend.
Do you REALLY think letting the only cellular carrier with a decent customer service disappear into the morass that is AT&T is a good idea? Especially since preventing this merger will actually get T-Mobile more spectrum?? Or did you not read the last paragraph of the story?
As one reasonably satisfied T-Mobile US customer who HATES Verizon and AT&T customer service, I say, "No way! Stop this merger cold!" At least this way I'll get a shot at getting a reasonably unlocked phone when I finally get around to upgrading.
Actually, you should have read a bit more. 64 bit capable hardware has been the _default_, not the exception, for _at_least_ 4 years for Intel and AMD based platforms. I've been running an amd64 version of Ubuntu since 7.04, and I was a little late to the party. 64 bit drivers for Linux have been trivially easy to find. Even most of the applications simply required a recompile with the 64 bit option turned on. The only real hangup was Adobe. Flash took forever to perform correctly in a 64 bit version of Firefox.
BTW, the fact that Win7 has an artificial cap at 192 GB? FAIL. You'd think that after Dos, Win95, and WinXP they would have finally learned not to do that. (Or have they been doing intentionally all along to help force us to upgrade? Inquiring minds want to know! ;-) )
Wrong album. :-)
I meant his first one from 1968, "The Transformed Man."
"In 2006 Q Magazine ranked The Transformed Man 45th in their list of the 50 worst albums ever. In the decades since its release, most of the album's tracks have been used satirically, either on compilation albums meant to showcase bad celebrity singing (the Rhino Records "Golden Throats" series) or by radio disc jockeys looking for laughs."
How many hours?
Better question: How many lost sales? I, for one, have chosen to avoid purchasing either a PS3 or an XBox because of stuff like this. Am I really the only one?