Just read a great article over at arstechnica.com today regarding a decision made by the Ninth Circuit of the US Court of Appeals that has systematically handed all power, once held the purchaser of a product, over to the manufacturing companies. It involved the case of Vernor vs Autodesk where Vernor sued Autodesk because of their repeated request to have their products removed from Vernor’s eBay listings which jeopardized his account and nearly got him de-listed as a seller on the online store. Vernor won the suit, but Autodesk has now successfully appealed the ruling. The word is, now that Autodesk has won their appeal, the ruling has opened the floodgates for companies to rework their end user license agreements (EULA) to include similar wording that prohibits the copy, rental, leasing, resale, transfer, etc of software made by said company and prevent consumers for exercising any first sale rights.
Were there any concessions made that give something, anything, to consumers to hold on to that shows just what the hell their hard earned money went to? Nope. Nothing. This now allows software makers, music producers, movie studios, etc to force an over-priced lease program down consumers throats. The rare option of being able to outright buy a copy for even more disgusting rates will be available by some, but you better crack open the kids piggy banks to pay for it.
Does that mean that consumers can get a lower priced product, pro-rated pricing for returning it to the manufacturer prior to the products EOL, trade-in value for the goods they once had the option of selling as used, or give to others that need it more than they do? Don’t count on it. That way of life has been staked in the heart and it’s in the throes of exsanguination as we speak. There is some light at the end of the tunnel however.
The more manufacturers squeeze consumers, the more customers will question just what they have invested in, and will seek alternatives. In the case of software, music, and movies, you will certainly see more independent offerings. You see some of that now with open source software and creative commons music. As recently as fifteen years ago, you would have hardly ever heard of creative commons music, Linux, BSD, and the like. Now, they are more common than ever before. That’s not because people are cheap.
Customers still show a willingness to pay thousands for mass-produced software despite the relatively low cost it was to develop the software, pay for staff and talent, and cover marketing and distribution expenses. They still buy products that are grossly over-priced because the manufacturer says they are only getting their cut of your profits up front since you’re using their product to make money. That seemed fair enough. Now, however, you don’t own the software you’re paying overly inflated prices for. The quid pro quo isn’t sounding as good as it once did, does it?
No, the reason why more open source products are being made, and distributed, is because people are fed up with the ever eroding rights they use to have as paying consumers, that funded these greedy, profiteering companies and line the pockets of these corporate fat cats with our hard earned cash. It’s just a matter of time before the general public feel like they are at the low end of the uneven playing field and leave the manufacturers to play with their ball by themselves.
I thought about this long and hard. Should I post about this or not? With nearly 90% of the planet using Windows (and an even greater percentage of my friends and family), I feel like I would be neglecting my duties if I didn’t mention it. No doubt some of you have noticed, and perhaps have fallen victim to, the fake anti-virus scams on some nefarious websites floating around. I’ve personally dealt with at least two machines that had been compromised by such dubious programs. They use common social engineering tactics to trick users into thinking they have a virus (or series of them) with a legitimate looking program that generally says something to the effect of OMG! You’re infested! (OK. Not really, but you get the drift). Not one to ever leave things be, virus writers are always trying to find new more effective ways to infect a victims computer. The scammers behind these nasty programs are not much different. The devil has been busy as noted by Microsoft‘s own tech blog entry on the very subject. If you’re a Windows users, it would behoove you to be familiar with the warning signs of these fake programs.
It use to be somewhat easy to identify a fake because the window that would appear would be in another browsers, or operating systems, graphical user interface (GUI). Now, however, vx (virus) writers are getting smarter and using common user agent detection to ascertain which browser you’re using and quickly render an on-the-fly window with your current browsers interface making detection more difficult. Perhaps a user agent switcher, available on most browsers, would help by fooling the program into thinking you’re using one browser over another and thus tricking the fake program into rendering the wrong interface. This idea has it’s limits. Unfortunately, there are ways to detect your true browser by the way it talks to a server and thus reducing the effectiveness of an agent switcher.
Thanks to arstechnica for the original article that spurred me into action.
- New malware detects browser, shows fake malware warning page (arstechnica.com)
- Fake Anti-Virus Launches Legit AV Uninstalls (informationweek.com)
It’s been a long time since I’ve seen a Linux game that piqued my interest. Most good Linux games are already available on Windows and often don’t include the bells and whistles that the Windows flavor comes packed with. Unigine is about to change all that with their upcoming Oilrush game for Windows, Linux, and Playstation 3. Check out the article over at Phoronix for some great looking shots of the game and check out the short teaser on youtube.
Oh Steve Jobs, that old Once-ler, is at it again with several new thneeds surrounding multimedia entertainment. New for 2010 is an all new version of iOS (dont get me started on that one Cisco fans), an all new revamped lineup of iPods (sans the classic), an all new iTunes 10, and a revamped Apple TV. It seems that even the lowly Lorax wants one of these thneeds. Let’s have a look.
First up is iOS 4.1 featuring Game Center, Ping, and HDR (High Dynamic Range) photos.
Game Center allows iphone, ipod, and ipad users to play online games even with friends and not just farmville games. We’re talking Unreal and other first person shooter style games.
Next there’s the new iTunes add on called Ping. Think of it as a music focused version of Facebook and you’ll be on the right track. You can share what kind of music you’re listening to with your friends, keep up with their music tastes as well, and even follow your favorite artists feeds. Ping will be available in the all new iTunes 10 for Mac and PC as well as any new iOS devices running 4.1
With the introduction of front and rear facing cameras on the iPhone 4, and the new retinal display, Apple wanted to make sure that pictures taken on an iOS device looked their best as well and introduced a new way of taking photos called HDR photos. HDR is short for High Dynamic Range. This is fancy talk for taking three photos simultaneously–one under exposed, one normal, and one over exposed–and combining them into one richly colored image. This reduces the effects of bad lighting when you take photos with your Apple mobile devices.
To rev up the excitement a bit for those iPad owners that are feeling a bit left out, the Once-ler gave everyone a sneak peek at the upcoming iOS 4.2–due in November. It will add wireless printing to the iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch.
Speaking of iPod Touch, Apple has also announced a complete overhaul of the iPod lineup starting with the shuffle.
That Once-ler, that clever old Once-ler, is well known for his distaste of buttons. This is perhaps the biggest reason for the minimal set of buttons on all the designs of iPhones made to date. This may also be the biggest reason why there were no buttons on the iPod shuffle. It literally looked like a Bic lighter without a striker wheel. Well, apparently people like buttons, and the Once-ler even conceded that people wanted buttons. So the new iPod shuffle brings back the click wheel that was present on the original iPod shuffle, but it also keeps voice over function of the buttonless model. This all mushed into the form factor that we saw the 2nd gen Shuffle in previously. Available in 4 colors and in one capacity of 2GB for $49.
Next we have the Nano. Next to the Touch, it was the most popular model of iPod, and in my opinion, the most feature rich music player of the bunch. (Hey, let’s face it the Touch does more than just play music). The Nano too has received a mushing and has been squished down to nearly the same size as the shuffle, only with a full color, multi-touch screen. It will be available in 5 colors and in 8GB or 16GB capacities for $149 and $179 respectively.
Last, but not least, is the Touch. It looses a bit of weight, though not as much as the Nano or Shuffle. It gets the retinal display, front facing and rear facing cameras, and all the gooness that made the iPhone 4 so popular without the cellular service or a contract, as the Once-ler points out.
But what good are these new iPods with out some great software to allow you to sync them to your computer right? That’s where iTunes 10 comes in.
That boastful old Once-ler proudly announced that iTunes is on the verge of selling more music from their store than has been sold on CD, so Apple is dropping the current logo with the music note over the CD in favor of a blue circle with the same note inside. Earth shattering I know. But iTunes does come with Ping, as stated before. It also does away with one annoyance of mine with most music players. When you have an album of songs from the same artist and it lists the album again and again down the list of songs, it’s annoying and a waste. Apple has fixed that by removing the multiple entries and adding in the album cover art. It only does this with 5 or more of the same album name entries however, so if you have a stockpile of singles, you’re out of luck. The most bizarre thing of note for iTunes is the close, minimize, and maximize buttons. Rather than a horizontal configuration that we see with all Mac OS X interfaces, they are positioned vertical. Don’t ask me why. I have no clue.
Then there’s one more thing: Apple TV
Yes, that largely unsuccessful, over priced boat anchor that only the die hard fanbois purchased and continue to use. It seems that Apple has not given up on their flop. (Hey, if Microsoft gets multiple do overs, so can Apple. Right?). It appears that this time, they may have gotten it right however. First off, it’s tiny. It’s less than a forth the size of the original. The power supply is built into the unit (think the new mac mini as an example), has a HDMI port that can push 1080p and 5.1 surround, a 1 gigabit Ethernet port, and 802.11 N wireless.
With the smaller package, you would expect a smaller price. Am I right? The Once-ler, never one to shy away from a sale has heard your request and has lowered the price from $229 to the low price of $99. Content is cheap too. First run HD movies are $4.99 to rent, HD TV programing from ABC and Fox is $.99 to rent, and it can stream Netflix content as well. In addition to this, you can stream Youtube, Flickr, and mobile me content. With the newly renamed Airplay (formally Airtunes) you can even play a movie from your iPad/iPhone/iPod device and pick up where you left off on your TV with the Apple TV box.
Enough of this typing though. I’m off to the Apple store to pick up my thneeds before that pesky Lorax beats me to it.
UPDATED: Corrected Oncler to Once-ler
According to a Washington Examiner article, cash strapped cities are turning to bloggers for cash. Philadelphia is demanding any blogger, that had registered even a small profit from their blogs, to register their site as a business and apply for a $300 business license. Is this just another form of internet tax only for the producers rather than the purchasers? My opinion is this will cost more to administer and maintain than it brings in as revenue. Will this have a chilling effect on for profit bloggers? Will this be forced on non-profit bloggers too? Or will this spur a new round of creative commons blogs? Time will tell. In the mean time, it would be a great opportunity as a blogger in a surrounding city or state to carry the torch for the monetarily bound Philly bloggers.
- Philly Requiring Bloggers To Pay For Business Licenses (blogs.forbes.com)
- Philly demands bloggers get business licenses (hotair.com)
- Philly Wants Bloggers to Pay $300 Tax (chicagonow.com)
- Philadelphia’s Blogger License: $300 (buzzfeed.com)
- Philly Is Not the “City of Blogger-ly Love” (marketingpilgrim.com)
While working on reviving a downed server, I needed to access the out-of-band console connection to see what the machine was doing. The product I use requires Java in order to display the CLI prompt for the server over the network. As it happens from time to time, some programs will notify you that there are updates available. In this case, it was Java that happily notified me that there was an update. So, I clicked through to download the needed updates. To my surprise, I was greeted with a screen to also download the Bing toolbar. Normally I wouldn’t have thought anything of it. In fact, I dismissed the offer and proceeded without first grabbing a screen capture. Then it struck me.
Java is now an Oracle product, thanks to their recent acquisition of Sun Microsystems. Anyone that has used a recent build of OpenOffice will undoubtedly know that Oracle has wasted no time re-branding all the products that use to bare the Sun Microsystems logo. The Java installer before me was no exception. Open source advocates also know that Oracle is also the same company that has recently killed off the OpenSolaris project, is suing Google over Java within the Linux-based Android operating system, and is mulling the future of MySQL. This speaks nothing to the concerns that some may have for OpenOffice, which sits clearly in the path of Oracle’s budding partnership with Microsoft. How ironic that Oracle would have a Bing offer on the Java installer given the similarities to Microsoft’s stance against open source products in their recent behavior.
This begs the question: Which came first, the Bing partnership, or the lawsuit against Google? Actions speak louder than words, and despite the praise for open source from the halls of Redwood Shores, I suspect the former over the latter. Could this be yet another Microsoft proxy fight with open source? Who knows. It’s certainly a concern and one that Google, Red Hat, Novell, and others should keep a very close eye on.
Update: Apparently others are beginning to put the same dots together and come to the same conclusions, like Alistair Otter who writes for South African website MyBroadband.co.za News: Oracles-anti-OSS-Stance
Labels for the RIAA, and BestBuy, must be getting desperate for CD sales. The latest adds from BestBuy show several CDs from various artists being packaged with a free copy of tweedeck–a social networking program that allows you to follow your favorite artists on twitter, facebook, and more. What a deal!
The only thing that could foul up that sweet of a deal is a free copy of tweetdeck without the need for the purchase of an over priced CD. Wait… You mean you can get tweetdeck for free? Oh well, maybe they’ll buy our crap anyway.
This isn’t the first time BestBuy has offered services or software to the uninformed consumer. Hell, that’s the vast majority of their Geek Squads business. Educate yourselves folks. Most companies wont tell you there are better alternatives, especially if they can charge you for being misinformed.