RIAA, Hilary Rosen, and Where It All Went Wrong

July 11th, 2006

A recent interview with Hilary Rosen, formerly of the RIAA and now with XM, is hardly enlightening. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that DRM, and the million versions of it, aren’t interoperable with each other, players, devices, or human beings. The recording industry failed to listen to the music fans (their customers) from the start of the DMR (Digital Music Revolution). They (music co’s) insisted on pissing off the majority of people with shotty DRM CDs and downloads, spawned an entire industry (legitimate or not) determined to ‘rip, mix, burn’ regardless of the law. How was ‘rip, mix, burn’ any different than ’swap, queue, record’? Aside from the technicalities, and speed… NOTHING. I have fond memories of creating mix tapes for myself and friends, and I’m sure many others do too. Casette tapes didn’t destroy the music industry. The war should be against the counterfeiters, not the consumer.

For the record, I’m an advocate of a format that plays in every digital music device… so far that’s limited to MP3. Yes, I know it’s not the BEST quality, but atleast I don’t have to transcode everything each time I want to use Windows Media Center, my Ipod, my SliMP3/Squeezebox, various computers, etc.

I’d love for someone to provide a better solution… so here are my Requirements for a standards solution:

  • Plays on all current and future Digital Music Players w/o modifications
  • Plays on all OS default Media Players w/o modification
  • Contains metadata, including album images
  • No DRM
  • Audio compression which still equates to “CD Quality” .. atleast to the human ear.

</end rant>

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AES 256bit Encrypted DVDs (and HDs)

June 22nd, 2006

Using Dekart’s PrivateDisk I’ve started encrypting all of the DVDs I burn with backup data (and contain information I wouldn’t want anyone else to have access to). The process is pretty simple, and Dekart has a tutorial. The process does take more time, than burning a DVD regularly, and especially if you’ll be writing multiple disks as you will need to create duplicates of *.dpd encrypted image file, as well as copy the backup data into it, and finally burn it all to DVD. Using PrivateDisk and your favourite burning software (Nero), all you need to do is this:

  1. Create a virtual encrypted disk (dpd file) with 4400mb (if you’re using single layer DVDs) named dvd.dpd
    • Choose a password that contains a combination of lowercase and
      uppercase letters, and digits. The encryption will take around 4000
      years (using current technology) to break via brute force.
  2. Fill the image with your files
  3. Open up your DVD burning app:
    • Take into consideration that an ISO DVD can’t have a single file larger
      than 2GB, so you’ll want to use the UDF format when you create your DVD.
  4. Copy the encrypted dvd.dpd image to the DVD root
  5. Copy all of the files from “c:\Program Files\Dekart\Private Disk\” to the DVD root
  6. Copy versnum.dll and dkar.dll from “c:\Windows\system32\” to the DVD root
  7. Create a text file named autorun.inf, that contains:
    [Autorun]
    Open=PrvDisk.exe /minimize /path:dvd.dpd
  8. Copy autorun.inf to the DVD root
  9. Burn it!

I also encrypt ‘chunks’ of my HDs to store the more sensitive data such as ‘My Documents’ and I fully encrypt backup HDs, internal or external. PrivateDisk doesn’t seem cause any loss of performance, if you’re wondering. Obviously, with regard to HDs, you need not go beyond step 2.

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Personal ‘Projects’ for the week of June 19th

June 19th, 2006

A. 22gb, or 21,805 files, of photos to oranize.
B. 123gb, or 24,949 songs,  of music to add to/organize (to add: approx 20-60gb).
C. Setup T-Mobile MDA.

  1. Sync w/home
  2. Work Email
  3. Personal Email
  4. Citrix
  5. SSH

D. Actually play my PS2 (I havent in a couple months).

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Microsoft’s Napster

June 16th, 2006

From Reuters: “They have been developing technologies that have really
good music discovery and community,” another source said.
“iTunes is the 7-11 (of music stores). You don’t hang out
there.”

Microsoft is apparently working on an iPod/iTunes ‘killer’, and apparently hoping that ‘community’ will give them the leverage they need to shift market share away from Apple. Right! All Microsoft is doing, from my speculation, is copying what was once Napster chat rooms/forums based on music. Unless they’ve got some other ‘killer-app’, I would place a wager on MS gaining any ground with this. Apple could easily update iTunes to include this ‘feature’.

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Bill Gates is a Part-Timer… in 2008

June 16th, 2006

I think Bill is just trying to trump Scoble’s news of his departure from Microsoft. But seriously, Bill Gates has actually announced that he’s going to phase himself out, at least somewhat, of Microsoft’s day-to-day operations.

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Weird Al Gets a Weird Deal

June 15th, 2006

Apparently some recording artists, such as Wierd Al, are getting a raw deal when it comes to digital music downloads. Digital Music Weblog points out that Weird Al is most likely making 85% less income when people purchase his tracks online, as opposed to purchasing a physical CD (which includes the cd, liner notes, and jewel case). I’m sure Wierd Al is only one of many getting a wierd deal.

In a world with online distribution, on-the-fly kiosk cd creation, and the ability to produce and master an audio and video on a home computer (PC or Mac), you’ve gotta start wondering when already popular artists are going to wise up and take production and distribution into their own hands. Beyond that, they could join together and form organizations which would handle these operations as well for lesser known artists. While some record labels are slowwwwwly getting a clue and hiring folks like Ethan Kaplan to improve their use of technology, they are still dinosaurs and will continue to fight extinction until their very last breath.

In some ways, it would be interesting to see the results of online piracy expanding to a bone crushing weight. What would happen when the record labels go under? As well, what is the breaking point at which that would happen? Would artists emerge with production and distribution models of their own? I highly doubt that music will cease to exist on earth simply because an outdated industry, which has been around for less than 100 years, vanishes.

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Picasa Web Albums to Out Flickr Flickr?

June 14th, 2006

Googles got something Flickr doesn’t: Picasa, the photo management software. And now they’re introducing Picasa Web Albums. They’ve sold me and I don’t even have my account yet. If you actually haven’t seen this yet, take a look at one of their example albums for Maui. The one hang-up I see is that presently you can’t display images hosted on Google’s servers on any other site. Maybe this is only a restriction during the ‘Test’ phase?

Technorati Tags: Google, Picasa, Picasa Web Albums, Flickr

Google Desktop, is it everything it’s cracked up to be, or just on crack?

June 14th, 2006

That’s right. I said ’server’. Although Google Desktop is really intended for a single user I use in a more robust environment. At any given time, at work, we need to have 20,000+ PDF documents accessible and searchable, both my file name and content, by all of our staff and from two different offices. Of course, the ideal way to do it is on the cheap… don’t spend the money on hardware or expensive search appliances (ie. Google Mini), instead hack something together using existing products and force it to work even if you waste tons of valuable time on it. Ok, that’s not my ideal way, it’s my employers.

Up until last week, this didn’t seem to be a problem. I had setup a Dell server with Windows XP Pro, Google Desktop, and the DNKA plugin for GDS which allows the Google Desktop engine to act as a web server and accept traffic from IPs other than localhost. Perfect. We had around 17,000 documents indexed… but all of the sudden it started missing/skipping files during it’s regular index (hence the difference between 20k+ and 17k).

I should point out now that I was using a previous version of GDS and DNKA from late 2005 (which is when I set this up).

I’ve heard/read instances of other people having problems with GDS’ index cache where it’s become corrupted and just stops indexing new files. I followed some of  the the tips to deleting everything in “Documents and Settings\**username**\Local Settings\Application Data\Google\Google Desktop Search” and then restarting GDS to allow it to completely re-index everything, however this did NOT work. I repeated this step numerous times only to find that each time GDS was producing different, and chaotic, search and indexing results. No rhyme or reason, no pattern, but each time it would somehow ‘choose’ different files to index, or not. Google Desktop was on crack. Maybe it couldn’t handle that many files in one directory structure (with sub-folders), or maybe it couldn’t cope with the speed of which the files were being copied onto the server. Who knows.

In the older version it appeared to me that it would try to process as much as it could at once, and then would choke; causing the unfortunate error of not indexing all of the files properly. I gave up on trying to get it to work, and
updated DNKA and GDS to their current versions, and so far it appears
that it’s going to yield positive results. The current version of GDS seems to be indexing much more steadily than it did previously, spreading it’s workload out over a greater amount of time and using MUCH less system resources at any given time.

Also, it’s important to mention that the files are being copied over from one machine to another using Microsoft’s SyncToy. If this works, as planned, I’ll then try the same test but using ‘robocopy’ from the Windows Server 2003 Resource Kit Tools. (If this MS synctoy developers happen to read this; try emulating the functions of robocopy for SyncToy as most people using SyncToy are likely power users anyway and can deal with the more robust set of options that robocopy offers.)

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Planet RIAA

June 13th, 2006

Mitch Bainwol, CEO of the RIAA is muttering non-sense just like the MPAA did when it claimed it sank The Pirate Bay last month. In this article he claims that “we believe digital downloads have emerged into a growing, thriving business, and file-trading is flat” and that file sharing is “contained”. Pretty funny if you ask me. From my observations, and conversations with even the most non-tech people, file sharing has become even more widespread and publically acceptable than it was a year ago, two years ago, etc. I believe TPB tripled its members/usage after the ’sinking’ incident.

A note to the RIAA and MPAA;
Adding press, good or bad, to anything only makes it more well known. If you want to ‘contain’ file sharing you’re going to need to drop prices and your stupid constricting DRM models. Enthusiats/hackers/coders/pirates will always be two steps ahead of you.

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My Firefox Extensions

June 13th, 2006

As promised, here are the current Firefox extensions that I have enabled. Yes, I know, I have A LOT. I’m a sync and customization addict and Firefox has done nothing to discourage this. Let me know if you find this list useful, or have any suggestions I may be interested in.

Blogging

  1. Performancing

Browser Enhancments

  1. Auto Copy
  2. Bookmarks Scrollbar
  3. Cache View
  4. Clear Fields
  5. Copy as HTML Link
  6. Copy Plain Text
  7. Crash Recovery
  8. Cute Menus – Crystal SVG
  9. Download Manager Tweak
  10. Down Them All
  11. Firefox Extension Backup Extension (FEBE)
  12. gTranslate
  13. IE Tab
  14. Internote
  15. Map This
  16. Minimize To Tray
  17. New Tab Homepage
  18. PDF Download
  19. Search Engine Ordering
  20. Search Plugin Hacks
  21. Tab X
  22. Universal Print
  23. Update Notifier

Google Suite

  1. Firefox Google Bookmarks
  2. GCal Quick Tab
  3. Gmail Manager
  4. Google Browser Sync
  5. Google Calendar Notifier
  6. Google Calendar Quick Add
  7. Google Notebook
  8. Google Send to Phone
  9. Google Toolbar for Firefox

Social Bookmarking

  1. del.icio.us
  2. del.icio.us post

Weather

  1. Forecastfox

Web Design

  1. ColorZilla
  2. CSSViewer
  3. Html Validator
  4. MeasureIt
  5. User Agent Switcher
  6. Web Developer

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Kitten SoBe

June 13th, 2006

Last night Anne and I adopted a new kitten, 5-6 weeks old, from 2 girls in South Beach that are leaving the state and needed to find a good home for him. Appropriately, we named him SoBe. While he may look black in this picture, he actually has a rich dark chocolate brown coat, with nearly black legs, and has no markings. His eyes are a yellow-green, he’s incredibly playful, cuddly, and has been eating, drinking, and using the litter just fine. Anne will be taking him to the vet today to get him all checked out. Willow, our other kittie (3+yrs old) isn’t quite sure how to act around him…. so she’s been checking him out, with the ocassional hiss as well, but I’m sure she’ll come around. It’ll be nice for her to have someone to hang out with when we’re at work/school.

UPDATE: The vet thinks SoBe is around 10 weeks old, he weighs 2lb 11oz and is healthy!
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It’s About Time

June 12th, 2006

I’ve been stuck in the stone age by my own choice, and I’ve been using a Nokia 3650 while I’ve been there. The phone has treated me well, although I’m on the 3rd one, but it’s just a heavy brick and most importantly lacks the features I really need.

My requirements for a new phone were as follows:

  1. Windows Mobile 5
  2. Stylus
  3. ‘Keyboard’
  4. Large screen
  5. Camera
  6. Bluetooth
  7. Easy to sync with Outlook, locally and remotely
  8. IMAP support
  9. Ability to install/use a SSH client
  10. Ability to install/use a Citrix Presentation Server client
  11. Ability to install/use a Terminal Services/Remote Desktop client
  12. and most importantly… EDGE or EV-DO

The primary objective is to be able to access servers, both personal and work related, regardless of where I am without having to run and find a computer with Internet access. Secondary is Email, Web, and IM.

I’ve been on the prowl for well over a year to find the right solution, and I’ve had friends go through several phones that I considered, but they all seemed to switch to another within a short amount of time, which didnt really give me a great impression of any of them. So I just sat right. I’ve been a T-Mobile customer since 2002 and I have an insane rate plan and options and although I considered switching to Verizon or Sprint (for EV-DO) I just couldn’t get the same kind of pricing I’m used to. I held out hope that T-Mobile would eventually offer a phone that met my requirements. They FINALLY came through. On Saturday, after visiting the local T-Mobile store, I ordered the T-Mobile MDA (w/Windows Mobile 5) made by HTC. It should arrive this week, so I’ll follow-up with my review soon after.

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In The Storm

June 11th, 2006

Holy crap. I did it. I upgraded to the lastest version of Wordpress. I only procrastinated for the last 6+ months or so. The weather being what it was, thanks to Tropial Storm Alberto, I basically just sat on couch for half the day working on getting this site fixed, getting Anne’s blog updated, and tweaking Firefox. I’m really going to try and post a list of the extensions I’m using; mostly focused on blogging, browser synchronization, and the Google suite (mail, calendar & personalized search).

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The Floridian

June 11th, 2006

http://www.menus4lunch.com/rcontent/FL/ft__lauderdale/las_olas/the_floridian/images/fl-floridian4.jpg

Just ate at The Floridian, for brunch, for the first time and was pretty impressed. On Las Olas it has to be the most affordable place to eat. It’s a diner, nothing gourmet, so as long as you’re expecting a diner atmosphere, service, and food you’ll be pleasently surprised. Huge plus…. it’s open 24hrs!

Performancing

June 11th, 2006
  I’ve alwas slacked at blogging, but I’m in the process of switching to Firefox (more on that later) and found this great extension which should take away several excuses of mine!

Google Torrent Search

April 15th, 2006

Ethan was apparently playing with Google which reminded me of Google’s ‘Vertical’ searches. If the MPAA or RIAA ever manage to completely shutdown all the Torrent search engines out there… you’ll have to go no farther than Google for a replacement. Just use “filetype:torrent” in your search query to find your favorite TV shows, or anything else, such as The Simpsons. In a quick check, I noticed that Google currently has more than 400,000 Torrents indexed. So why haven’t the RIAA and MPAA gone after Google? My guess… they’d probably lose a major battle, set precedence, and lose the war.

Dirt Segway’ing

November 11th, 2005

Segway Concept Centaur

I’ve always thought Segways have been cool, and loved riding one (although incredibly briefly) at Disney World, but this new ‘Concept Centaur’ really looks like fun. 20mph. I want one. Segway… you tease… produce this thing! There are some more great pictures over at Popular Science, enjoy.

Hurricane Wilma!!!

October 24th, 2005

Live from Fort Lauderdale… Hurricane Wilma is now a CAT3, with winds at 120mph. We’re apparently getting the eye wall now… direct hit! We’re thankfully in a brand new building, 12th floor with partial ’shelter’ from another wing of the building. Right now, with every gust, I can feel the vibrations echo through the building. I’ve taken some video, and may post it once this is over with. I’ve seen huge heavy trash cans (i think made out of cement) blow into the pool!

Otto Says

October 17th, 2005

Otto said “why do you have elvis ate america in your sig if you don’t update it? or have you started updating it?” So, I’m updating it. Wah-la!

Live 8 Live

July 2nd, 2005

Music: Paul McCartney and U2 – Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band

Been watching the broadcasts of Live 8 and I’m impressed… not only because there are great acts, and lots of people turned out… but because music is being used to move the masses, and in this case governments. On a large scale, that doesn’t happen often enough. U2 and Paul McCartney opened the London show with Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. The performance was the first time Macca had actually performed it live, and the first time he and U2 have performed together – One of my favorite songs, and my favorite performers… together. I’ve actually already purchased the WMA version of the track from Digital7 for £ 0.99 . The money goes to charity, and the track is well worth it. Downloaded, Burnt, Stripped, and Ripped.