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Monday, December 11, 2006

 
celebrate the victories for they are few...

mourn the losses because they are many. today is a good day to be a communist shit twinkletoed internet hippie. as of friday, the 109th congress closed without passing the telcom bill proposed by ted "old intertubes" stevens. here's hoping that the new session can get net neutrality legislation passed, or at least stop new telco bills from being passed.

now if only we could get the AT&T/BellSouth merger to die the internet will again be safe for americans.

posted by chris 3:36 PM


Thursday, November 30, 2006

 
fascinating article on the economics of abundance

this is a not very rosy article on EOA. since the dawn of society, economics has been based on managing scare resources. supply and demand is based on the supply being scarce. all of that was true until the digital age. now we are now approaching an "economy of waste" where resources can be applied to problems without regard for thier efficiency.

another way to look at this is: the old model of supply and demand states that the lesser the supply, the greater the demand and conversely, the greater the supply, the lesser the demand. if that is the case, then why do we want ever more powerful computers? why is it that the intel core 2 duo processor is like 50 thousand times as powerful as the 286 and yet we still want them?

i'll tell you why: the economics of abundance (waste). the 286 with it's 5 meg harddrive used DOS. once computer became powerful enough, the world switched to graphical user interfaces. now, the the world is moving to virtualization, where several operating systems can be run in parrellel on the same machine. the GUI is considered by most to be an improvement in productivity, and has enabled many people without system admin or programming backgrounds to use and enjoy computers. virtualization has now virtually eliminated the headaches associated with hardware, allowing you to suspend running operating systems and move them to other physical hosts.

true scarcity based efficiency would surely dictate that the command line interface is the best and the user should therefore adapt, and yet GUI's flourish. Surely efficiency woul dictate that a single platform for all applications is best, and yet virtualization makes so much sense.

the fundamental difference is that abundance means that the more there is, the more people will want. value is now determined by other things besides cost, since cost is now reduced to close to nothing. as the supply goes up, so too does the demand.

the article is about how we as a society and the governments and businesses that the society depends on are not prepared for, mentally or culturally. a fundamental shift in thinking is required.

companies need to quit thinking that the universe is a damn football game. you can't think a quarter at a time. you have to think big. think long term. build a legacy.

anyway, read the article. it's bad ass.

posted by chris 1:57 PM


Friday, November 17, 2006

 
i hate you and i wish you would die. please enjoy these muffins.

cnn ran this thing about how a retired supreme court justice telling the story of an attempt to murder the entire supreme court. it sounds harrowing, except that the perpetrator was apparently mentally retarded.

the person sent a threatening letter, attached with a baked good or a piece of candy. think about that for a second. how suspicious is a letter that says "i'm going to kill you." with a cookie attached? were i in a similar situation, my first thought would be (suspicious pessimist that i am) that the treat in question may be poisoned or perhaps some sort of "al-qaeda muffin bomb".

the would be assassin sent not only a threatening letter, with an attached baked good, she also mentions in the letter than the food is poisoned. so the letter probably read "i am going to kill you, please eat this poisoned cookie".

perhaps it was some sort of reverse psychology ploy. perhaps the assailant was so supremely confident in her baking skills that she was certain no one could resist such delightful baked goods. maybe they were assuming the person would eat the baked goods before reading the letter, hoping for one of those "i wish i could see the look on his face..." moments. maybe, since the threatening letter was typed, there was some sort of typo on the letter like this:
i hate you and wish you were dead, please enjoy these poisonous tasty muffins.


or perhaps, the would be poisoner is just an idiot... and it was a slow news day at CNN.

posted by chris 4:50 PM


Friday, October 20, 2006

 
great opinion piece on the downsides of HDTV

cory doctorow, author of the greatest DRM paper ever written wrote a great opinion piece for infoworld. some of it details what a waste HDTV is, and what a fool's errand all the DRM that is built into it will be, but the best part is how the hollywood is screwing itself with HDanything.

the high points are that it talks about how smaller, low quality screens actually make older movies with outmoded special effects look better, and how people at home may want to use their big screens to sit together and do different stuff.

i remember, back in the day, when a gameplay was how a game was judged, and not the sexiness of it's graphics. cutting edge graphics, and the outrageously expensive hardware to run them are starting this sort of arms race in the computing world, where you improve the graphics in a game, and have to buy a new PC all the time. i have a friend who worked for microsoft and built this customized system for automated tests. it worked well enough but sometimes had issues. years later, when my friend had moved on, another guy claimed to have fixed the problem... by installing the testing harness onto a godlike server. this isn't really a fix for the problem. it's simply throwing money at it. if gameplay was a real priority again, perhaps there would be more longevity in computer games. i would imagine that's why counterstrike lived for so long.

one particularly interesting point in the article is that big screens in the house are not the same as bigscreens in the theater, and should not be treated as such.

this is a recurring theme in the forward progress of technology. the time has come to recognize that the PC and the internet changed everything, and so we have to stop trying to recreate old industries on PCs and on the internet.

the PC is multi-function (it does many things), multi-tasking (it many things at once), multi-media (it uses text, sound, images and video all at once), and multi-user (different people will want different experiences from it). the old way was to invent something useful and sell it, or to come up with a useful service and sell it. the old way was one thing delivered to one customer. this is not the new way.

we as the next generation of consumer do not want to buy single function gadgets or services. we do not want the same old stuff that's available now, just on our computers or delivered to us over the internet. we want to leverage what we already have (computing power and internet access) to do more.

home theater isn't a trip to the movies, only at home. home theater is about theater on our terms. the same is true for the future of everything: we have computers and internet access and if you want to keep selling us the same old crap then we are going to look elsewhere, or we will build it ourselves.

internet news is not a newspaper slapped onto the internet. if i want recycled reuters or AP newswire data, i can go to the reuters or AP websites. if you want me to read your news site (and provide pleasing stats for your advertisers), it had better let me use my computer and my internet access to see and hear something that only you can say. yes you can say more, you don't have to print up and deliver news papers, so you can apply your resources in a much better fashion. how about super localizing, so i can get accurate and useful info on the world that is immediately around me?

IPTV isn't television delivered over the internet. TV over the intertubes is just where it starts. it should be something new. something that uses the computer and the internet access i already have to deliver news and entertainment in a new way. if i am going to pony up for a giant HDTV or home theater setup, it should let me do something that my current TV can't, and that doesn't include better picture and sound... you hear me talkin' blu-ray? i'm not finished with you neither HD-DVD. and don't even get me started on HD/satellite radio. if i pay you to get content, the content is mine and i can do what i want. the harder you fight that fact, the harder the community will fight you back. if you can't figure this out, i will use bittorrent or mythTV or some other ripper to get my content on my schedule. if you want me to sit thru your commercials, give me something that is new and unique. how about realtime data? how about personalized realtime data? how about shifting all the crawlers and popup ads that TV networks toss onto the screen out of the way of the picture and into some other space? how about letting me interact with the experience somehow? television and radio stations are not "one size fits all". you have tons of spectrum over the air, and thanks to internet TV, you could have these are the new features that will keep your failing media industry afloat.

VOIP isn't just phone over the internet. that's how it will start, but that is not the end of it. it should be using my computer and my internet access to deliver voice communication in a whole new way. how about effortless cross-provider video conferencing? how about the ability send voicemails to anyone on any service? SMS messages on my home phone/computer? how about a simple way to use a single number to get voice calls regardless of where i am or what phone i happen to be carrying? how about never having to give directions to the pizza guy ever again? this is the shit that will keep your failing telecommunications industry on the freaking map. deliver this and i will pay. fail and i will take your money and give it the company that can.

and to the music industry... we are going to get music our way, not yours. if you want to get paid, you have three choices: 1) make it more convenient to get stuff from you than bittorrent 2) make it cheaper to buy your stuff than to generate my own 3) give me something with your stuff that i can't get from the community (like discounted concert tickets or invites to events with the artists). i refuse to pay you for something that i can do for myself. so, fix your DRM and distribution system, or i will use bittorrent to fix it for you.

have you guys ever entertained the idea that we do things our way becuse we don't like your way?

posted by chris 1:59 PM


Friday, October 06, 2006

 
modchip makers sued for $9mil
some dude in canada and a company in the UK were ordered to pay up. what's interesting to note, is that there is mention of the possiblity of "trafficking in circumvention devices" but it makes no mention of the companies acutally trafficking bootleg games. the DMCA's anti-circumvention law is total bullshit for this reason.

game companies' problem with modchips isn't game piracy. the gaming industry has grown up with piracy and it's just a part of the price of doing business. the problem with modchips is that most consoles are sold at up to a 50% loss, with the hope that companies will make more money on games to offset the loss. if you buy the console, then mod it, and then don't buy any games, then the companies are out the %50 loss they took and won't make it back from games that you never buy.

i purchased my xbox with the express intent of modding it so it would be a media center. i put a bigger HDD in it to accomodate movies, music, and a ton of emulators and it has the one feature that even the sexiest HTPC doesn't: the ability to play xbox games.

it does everything the 360 does but play 360 games. i wanted to buy and mod a PSP, but thanks to sony's anti-homebrew stunts, i won't buy one at all.

anytime a new cool gadget is released, it gets modded. if the mod community likes your gadget enough enought to take it apart, then you know you made a good one. before the PSP was the xbox, before the xbox was the iOpener. companies fight the mod community and it does nothing but hurt the product. that's why the iOpeners don't exist anymore.

people aren't stupid, if you build a computer out of computer parts, disable some of the computer features and sell it for less than the price of a cheap computer, someone is going to turn it back into a computer.

if you want to stop losing money on consoles that people mod, stop selling them at a loss. if you don't lose money on the console you can sell your games for cheaper as well. sell the console at cost and embrace the hardware mod community to the fullest extent, and then take the cool things they come up with and sell your own branded mods that don't void the warranty.

posted by chris 1:57 PM


Thursday, September 28, 2006

 
this shit can't be real

for the love of god, please tell me that this is a stupid publicity stunt and not some sort of "private law enforcement" scheme by the MPAA.

posted by chris 5:05 PM


Tuesday, September 26, 2006

 
neat net neutrality article

here is a neat article on the net neutrality debate. it talks about the telco's interest in stopping net neutrality, and how the glut of backbone infrastructure has shifted the focus to the last mile. it raises an interesting point, that the excess backbone is the result of the dotcom boom of the early 2000's. it's a good read without being "OMFG freedom!!" like some articles... not that i have anything against OMFGfreedom, just that those kinds of articles often come off as not exactly rational.

posted by chris 3:59 PM


Monday, September 25, 2006

 
chuck D on DRM

before i get into the specifics, i just want to point out how surreal it is to see an intervies with chuck D on cnet. cnet is like the whitest publication on earth, i'm surprised they have ever heard of chuck D. tho nowadays, chuck D is a business man, not a rapper, and has a couple of online/mobile based ventures. here's hoping that someone from Cnet interviews shug knight.

chuck is sort of on the fence about DRM. he says something should be done to protect artists, but fair use and usability are also concerns. tho, when he talks about circumvention, he says he tips his hat to the rebels. chuck D also mentioned the "pirates of penzance." which again, i think is kind of surreal.
he does say something interesting about corporate money grubbing:
"The problem with corporations is they come into any business with a gold-rush mentality of making a killing and there's a difference between making a killing and making a living," he said, warning that "people in the back of their minds think the free reign [of sites such as MySpace and YouTube] is going to be taken away and collapse because it's too good to be true".

in other news british libraries want copyright law updated since DRM prevents them from doing tradidtional library stuff with digital media. clearly, DRM is the right thing to do and libraries are just going to have to start charging for shit like barnes and noble does. the sooner we all get used to corporate money grubbing, the happier we will all be.

posted by chris 12:03 PM


Wednesday, September 20, 2006

 
put down that DVD son!

i have probably mentioned beofre that i have one of the strangest IT jobs in the world. part of what i do is video and audio acquisition for web based educational materials. so sometimes i videotape stuff, or record it. a convenient way to give people materials is on DVD.

see, we record stuff directly to a camera's harddrive, or onto a DV tape. in this format you can't replay the stuff except on the camera. so if you want someone to review it, you have to put it on a format everone can view. professional studios use VHS for this purpose. we computer guys like to use DVD's becuse just about everyone has a DVD rom in their computer. they review it, figure out what they want edited, and you can use a mac to get started.

what happens if all you have to edit from are those DVD's?

surely Final Cut Pro, or iMovie, or something should just read the video from the DVD rom. i mean it's not CSS'd like a DVD movie from the video store is.

WRONG!

you can't use final cut to snatch clips from the internal DVD drive in a mac. you might copy a movie that way. and apple went to all that work to get disney (sony) on board with iTunes and downloadable movies and shit.

so how do you get your stuff off your DVD then?

that's easy, use the same ripping software that the MPAA is so ticked off about. in fact, it's WAY more info online about how to rip and burn movies than there is on using final cut.

i am calling my new suite of ripping tools iPirate.

posted by chris 2:41 PM


Wednesday, September 13, 2006

 
amazon unbox: all your puter are belong to us

amazon has released a service wehre you can download videos, and surprise surprise, it BLOWS.

so you get a video that you can only play on your computer, you can burn it to a DVD that only plays on the puter is was downloaded to, and costs pretty much the same as a DVD... fine, it sucks, but it also phones home to amazon as well. so not only does the service stink, but the player is spyware. *awesome*

posted by chris 12:33 PM


Thursday, September 07, 2006

 
blu ray scares me

when billG, the dark lord himself, is uneasy about the digital rights management that sony is going forward with, it makes me a tad uneasy.

when i say a tad uneasy i mean scared shitless. check out the last three paragraphs in the article:

Well, the key issue here is that the protection scheme under Blu-ray is very anti-consumer and there's not much visibility of that. The inconvenience is that the [movie] studios got too much protection at the expense consumers and it won't work well on PCs. You won't be able to play movies and do software in a flexible way.

It's not the physical format that we have the issue with, it's that the protection scheme on Blu is very anti-consumer. If [the Blu-ray group] would fix that one thing, you know, that'd be fine.

For us it's not the physical format. Understand that this is the last physical format there will ever be. Everything's going to be streamed directly or on a hard disk. So, in this way, it's even unclear how much this one counts.


speaking of next gen formats...
this guy takes a brand new HDDVD player out of the box and dismantles it rather than plugging it into a TV. appearantly it's just a P4 chip and a USB drive running redhat. with all of the DRM stuff coming to head soon, i wonder what this will do if the linux kernel goes GPL3, since the current draft contains this little tidbit about encyption keys:
The Corresponding Source also includes any encryption or authorization keys necessary to install and/or execute modified versions from source code in the recommended or principal context of use, such that they can implement all the same functionality in the same range of circumstances. (For instance, if the work is a DVD player and can play certain DVDs, it must be possible for modified versions to play those DVDs. If the work communicates with an online service, it must be possible for modified versions to communicate with the same online service in the same way such that the service cannot distinguish.) A key need not be included in cases where use of the work normally implies the user already has the key and can read and copy it, as in privacy applications where users generate their own keys. However, the fact that a key is generated based on the object code of the work or is present in hardware that limits its use does not alter the requirement to include it in the Corresponding Source.

posted by chris 4:52 PM

 
crazy pixel art

http://www.lovepixel.idv.tw

these two are thumbs of bigger pix:

http://hello.eboy.com/eboy/wp-content/uploads/2006/02/ECB_NY_89t.png

http://hello.eboy.com/eboy/wp-content/uploads/2006/02/WUN_xmas_14k.png

posted by chris 1:35 PM


Wednesday, August 30, 2006

 
random articles

here is a wired article on sony that describes the company's evolution into the tower of babel that it has become. i hope the PS3 comes out weak and needs a price cut early on. i will get one eventually, but the price tag is a bit much for my tastes. i am most interested in the wii, followed by a modded xbox 360.

here is an extremetech article about gaming myths. it's a nice moderate piece that cuts thru quite a bit of the noise that surrounds gaming. the guy wrote another article about lowtek games and what i thought was most interesting about the article is that dude took his daughters to a con. since there were no accounts of kicking and screaming i can only assume that they went voluntarily.

keeping on the gaming tip, here are 10 open source games that you have never played. sure enough i have never heard of or played any of these games. hopefully you are mature enough to keep from snickering.

posted by chris 4:04 PM

 
reclassification

appearantly the government is making classified thousands of documents that were "declassfied" or made non-classified.

i'm going to put on my tinfoil hat here for a second and say that this is a disturbing trend.

posted by chris 3:02 PM


Monday, August 28, 2006

 
poor choice of words for BBC headline

i saw this on an RSS feed and thought it was one of those "Oddly Enough" articles, but no it was in fact a legitmate BBC headline about a tragic terrorist attack:

'Two dead' in fresh Turkey blast

based on the headline it sounds like frozen or possibly dehydrated turkey might be a safer and more stable choice for feasting this holiday season. appearantly in england, the country that brought us mad cow disease, there have been some deadly poultry explosions. it's probably another weird british disease... exploding gobbler syndrome or something.

posted by chris 12:21 PM


Thursday, August 24, 2006

 
interesting articles

here's one on cheap storage and the moore's law type effects of it.

here's one on musical loss leadership and the future of the music industry is analog.

here's one i don't wholly agree with about the merits of the SCO lawsuit against IBM.

and finally, mapspace is the new cyberspace.

posted by chris 11:22 AM


Tuesday, August 22, 2006

 
MS invites mozilla devs for "political re-education"

don't do it guys, it's a trap!!!

about half of the comments on this are jokes about it being a trap, or that ballmer will hit them with chairs.

MS reall can't win anymore, if they ignored mozilla and for some reason mozilla didn't work, it would be a PR nightmare. so they invite the mozilla guys, and the slashdot crowd suspects them instantly. i would feel sorry for them, but i am still mad about my hotmail account becoming a giant commercial for MSN once hotmail got bought by MS.

posted by chris 12:40 PM


Thursday, August 17, 2006

 
internet2, i love you

dear friends and family,

as you are probably aware, i have been spening more and more time at the university. i would like to take this time to tell you that i am never coming home. evar.

and this is why:

posted by chris 12:52 PM

 
what is the japanese word for jihad??

i freaking hate tablet PCs. i also freaking hate toshiba notebooks. when i had to work on a toshiba tablet PC it was, to put it politely, unpleasant.

things i hate about tablet PCs:
1) windows xp tablet PC edition: there are more strains of this abomination than there are distros of linux. the versions are not interchangable like XP pro, so if you lose your factory restore disk you can't use a retail/select disk to rebuild.
2) no internal optical drives: or as i like to call them, life saving bootable floatation devices. if your harddrive crashes and you need to rebuild, you are, in vernacular of gamers, OMFGWTFSTFUPWND.
3) crazy tablet hardware: the thing i hate about laptops is that they are all made from proprietary hardware that manufaturers do not support for long periods of time. companies like sun and apple also make proprietary hardware, but their support for systems lasts much longer, and they can build support into their distros so there is little need to hunt down drivers. tablet PCs are like taking what i hate about laptops and distilling it into pure liquid agony.

things i hate about toshibas:
1) senstivity to vibration: my history with toshibas is that they do not travel well. their cables and connections pop loose after a couple of months of acitivity. if you can't design a machine's nervous system to remain intact when it travels, why not just pump the freaking case full of epoxy?
2) hypochondira: a toshiba will refuse to boot over the weirdest things, like when the video module is disconnected (see sensitivity to vibration) or if a fan is spinning slowly (not stopped, just not spinning fast enough).
3) the toshiba website: this one should be wuantified by the fact that i was a dell warranty tech. on the dell support site you can run your serial number and get all sorts of data about your machine, including it's warranty status, the configuration it shipped with, and the date that it was manufactured. sure, dell recalls their batteries and power supplies once every couple of years, but your notebook should be easy to install, support, and use, right up to the moment it bursts into flames. on the toshiba website, it's difficult to find the right downloads, digital copies of system manuals, and checking your warranty status is just not possible.

i have had it with these muthafukkin errors on this muthafukkin tablet!!

i know that i am white, and athiest, but i am declaring a jihad on toshiba and their stupid tablets. you can consdier this a fatwah. for you red players, toshiba sales reps and support techs are now KOSL.

posted by chris 9:42 AM


Thursday, August 10, 2006

 
simplified terror alert system... for teh children

Terror Alert Level

posted by chris 10:38 AM


Monday, August 07, 2006

 
the sandbox, part deux

so the sandbox is done, except for the reverse proxy. i have it installed (compiled from source like a man baby!) i just need to futz with the config file to get it working properly. i am running a prebuilt linux virtual machine that i downloaded from vmware for testing purposes. i will eventually build my own. but for now, the abomination of windows2003 server running on an ubuntu box is a success:

posted by chris 6:30 PM


Tuesday, August 01, 2006

 

im so l33t my cat is a script kitty


posted by chris 8:53 AM


Monday, July 31, 2006

 
the sandbox

i got my virtualization machine built over the weekend. like all of my projects, the end result is vastly different than the original plan.

first, i decided on linux instead of windows, and VMware and not qemu. VMware had more kewl features than qemu, and virtual server from MS only worked on windows.

so after checking the vmware linux site, they only supported a hand full of distros, most of which were redhat. i used to love redhat, but i haven't really forgiven them for the whole fedora thing, so i decided to go with ubuntu desktop.

setting up ubuntu was surprisingly fast. the desktop install disk is a single ISO, and is actually a live CD, so if it boots the live version, chances are it'll boot your disk install as well. the install was superfast and the only issue i had was with the integrated video on the motherboard i chose. xorg insisted on dispaying at 60hz on the refresh, and it would alternate between 1024x768 and 1280x1024. with a little hacking on the xorg.conf i was able to force it to display at 1280x1024, 24bit, at 85hz.

now that the desktop was comfortable to look at, the UI itself was an uncommonly spartan gnome desktop. there were no desktop icons, 4 virtual desktops, and the only apps that were installed were open office, mozilla, a handful of games, some system tools, gaim, gimp, and a few other tools. it came with evolution too. in the past i have favored KDE over gnome, but this "oober-elegant" gnome was super nice. gnome doesn't do a different background for each desktop, but i guess i can let that pass.

ubuntu is based on debian, which uses deb packages and apt-get. truth be told, i have never used a debian distro other than corel linux and knoppix. linux package managers are pretty much witchcraft if you ask me. i am used to installing the old fashioned ways: from source or from tarballs.

i fought with it and got it installed. it wasn't a slam dunk, but it wasn't an epic battle. i'd say about an hour of forum lurking, googling, and package surfing.

once vmware server was installed it wsa time to start building machines. i started with windows 2003 server to replace NTGuy, who was an IIS box. i got it all set up, there were a couple of problems getting it going, but after using the custom setup option and specifying an IDE disk instead of a SCSI, i was in business.

i also set up samba to facilitate the moving of files to and from the sandbox. that too was not a slam dunk, but it was doable in an hour's time. it's been like 5 years since i last set up samba, and that had been the first time in 3. the sandboxis doubling as a network file server while i wrap up my other project, the NAS.

now that the new NTGuy (dubbed ASPGuy) is up and running, and the name based virtual hosts on it all moved over and tested, port forwarding fixed on the firewall, a new problem has arisen: getting two file servers to work behind the same NAT.

i want to set up a LAMP virtual machine as well (probably called lampguy) but i only get one IP from my ISP. this means that i need something to intercept a http request, see what name it is requesting, and forward the request to the appropriate server. this is called a "reverse proxy", and the tool i have selected is pound. course it's not set up yet, but that is next on the agenda after building lampguy.

posted by chris 9:52 AM


Friday, July 28, 2006

 
random bits

CALEA is the new carnivore

the gub-mint is doing it's best to make pretty much allcomputer networks wiretap friendly. now might be a good time to look into strong encryption/steganography for just about everything that you do online.

if my blog goes offline suddenly, you'll know that they got me :-)

no myspace in the library

the hizzouse passed some shit to block pretty much every website from minors at public libraries.

this is yet another election year bill to protect "the children" from online predators.

everything now is about "the children". we need to subpoena google searches from google so we can stop porn from finding "the children". we need fleets of cops and other watch dog groups to contact random people via IM and pretend to be kids to protect "the children". there can't be violent video games so "the children" won't shoot up their schools. "the children" are turning the goddamn internet into a police state.

so you know what i say? fuck "the children"!!

there are (at least) three things wrong with this picture:

1) libraries are how poor people, especially poor kids, get online. how are poor kids going to do the "cool myspace thing" without free access in libraries?
2) the bill is a shining monument to vagueness and could include pretty much any site with a forum, that let's you set up a profile, or lets you post comments... you know, pretty much every website in existence.
3) libraries are supposed to be about knowlege. cutting kids off from the internet is essentially cutting them off form a good 50% of all available knowlege.

the internet is a rough place. many stupid adults end up in bad situations online. it's certainly not a good place for children under 12 who don't have serious adult supervision. none of my children get online without asking when they are under my care. their computer is not in their bedroom, but out where my and my wife's computers are. they surf in public, where resposible adults can see them. because of their age, they have a simple list of sites they are allowed to visit, most of them are cartoon or game sites with no means of contacting others. i'll be the kids that do get found by predators aren't well as well supervised at home as they are at school or the library.

why pass shit like this bill when they could easily just do some sort of awareness campaign?

oh that's right, we can't sidestep people's freedoms with an awareness campaign.

kazaa uses ebay's money to pony up to RIAA and go legit
the dudes that founded kazaa are my new heroes. i use skype a lot, tho i haven't used kazaa in years, i'm a pirate bay man nowadays, but that doesn't change the fact that these guys have sac to spare.

if you don't feel like reading the articles and comments, here's how you do it:

step 1: build P2P network
step 2: serve hundreds of billions of downloads
step 3: sell company and software to shadowy multinational corporation
step 4: start new VOIP company
step 5: get millions of users
step 6: travel around europe to avoid being served for P2P network
step 7: sell VOIP company to huge dot com (HDC) for billions
step 8: PROFIT!!!
step 9: settle up with RIAA with money from HDC.
step 10: laugh at RIAA

news flash: hell just froze over
you can get metallica sobered up long enough to consider itunes and now you can download their crappy tracks individually.

i'll save you some time: their last decent album was "the black album" (15 years ago) and garage days re-re-vistited (1989 i think) was their only "good" ablum cuz it was all covers of songs by talented musicians. stick with their punk rock covers if you are worried about disappointment (the wait, die die my darling, the lastcaress/green hell). everything else is just mullet rock.

posted by chris 2:12 PM


Tuesday, July 25, 2006

 
articles about telcos and innovation
business week ran this one about how
telcos talk about innovation, but don't actually innovate. the guy goes to see a demonstration of at&t's project lightspeed and is shocked to find out that it's just television, with channels, just like cable.

so AT&T looks pretty well out of touch with what IP based services could be all about.

in their defense, voip is pretty much just phone service, with phones and phone numbers and stuff, just like the "real thing". you should keep in mind that VOIP is a synchronous communication system that has to integrate with the existing telco PSTN, so the two can't be all that radically different. with that said, there are a number of other features that you can get from voip that you can't get from your local carrier, like a web interface to manage everything yourself, voicemail delivered to email, and the ability to move around the country without changing your phone number.

so if IPTV is just tv that comes over a network cable instead of a coax cable, i am not really interested... unless of course it is way cheaper than regular cable. if i have the option of doing something with TV that i have never been able to do before, then i will be interested.

there is the one thing that "disruptive" technologies like VOIP and IPTV should keep in mind: price is a great competitor, but so is convenience and great features. people will use your service if the quality is almost the same and the price is way better, but they will also switch to your service if the quality is way better and the price is almost the same, and they will also use your service if it offers something that is truly unique. for example, my mom loves getting her home phone, cell, DSL, and home security system from the local phone company, regardless of the price, because it is so convenient. i have heard stories about grandmothers who don't care about VOIP because they think the phone is so convenient, but are happy to drop a thousand bucks on a macbook becuse the integrated web cam makes video conferencing simple with ichat.

so, as much as i like low prices for services, i also would like to see more convenience and more innovative services as well.

in response to the article, ars technica ran a piece about the old fashioned cold war research labs and how they are vastly different from the startup technology market of today. is states basically that since there is no more money for "science for the sake of science" research, there won't be the kind of world altering discoveries that we saw in the 70's thru the 80's.

however, one article states that israel is quickly becomming the R&D capital of the world thanks in large part to the military. funny, that sounds like the old 1960's america and darpanet and the old fashioned "blue sky research" that was fashionable at that time.

before you write off american ingenuity as extinct, you should read about a battery powered sports car that goes 0-60 in 3 seconds.

posted by chris 2:32 PM


Friday, July 21, 2006

 
new voip client for nokia 770

you can get gizmo on your nokia tablet.

looks like i have to make another saving throw against cool gadgetry.

posted by chris 1:11 PM


Thursday, July 13, 2006

 
daily show segment on net neutrality

i can't believe that the issue will be settled by these jackasses.



say goodbye to the internets!


UPDATE!

more dailyshow stuff on net neutrality:



this time the "PC guy" from the apple commercials is explaining the issue. i think it's cool that they chose the PC to do it instead of the MAC :-)

posted by chris 10:01 AM


Friday, July 07, 2006

 
google throws down the gauntlet for net neutrality

google says it will push anti-trust litigation if telcos abuse their market position. google would be happy if the neutrality legislation passes, and if it doesn't, and the telcos go buck wild like they say they will, then, in the words of the great doctor marting luther kings:

sure your ass! sue your ass! by god almighty i will sue your ass!

posted by chris 8:56 AM


Friday, June 23, 2006

 
the war against roxio is won

as some of you may know, i hate cd burning software. i hate nero, i hate roxio, and i hate sonic. the interfaces suck, the products are nigh worthless, and they make simple tasks way more difficult than they should. often this crappy software will crash windows, and in past i have watched it destroy the registries of a couple of windows 2000 pro machines.

my first step into CD burning independance came when i discovered CD Burner XP pro which is better than the crap you get free with your burner, and at least equal in quality to retail versions of nero and the like.

one problem is that you can't make direct copies of a CD, especially if you are trying to make an ISO for safe keeping. i am always losing important discs, so having digital snapshots of them is a real life saver. also, virtual PC and VMware server can mount ISOs directly, which is even nicer... your software emulated computer can mount a software emulated CD.

making ISO's in windows is a pain. that pain is nothing more than a bitter memory thanks to my discovery of iso recorder. it is dead simple to use and abuse, you just put the disk in your cdrom, right click, and select copy to iso. to burn the iso to disk you just right click the iso and select copy to cdr. that's it.

posted by chris 2:02 PM


Monday, June 19, 2006

 
random net neutrality bits

a some small town in vermont is building a fiber network that is owned by the city, guaranteeing neutrality and low cost. their justification: capitalism.

here is some internet2 testimony about keeping the internet simple, the way that austria, korea, and japan have.

some british cell companies are blocking calls to a voip service called mobiboo.

it looks like news.com is against net neutrality with all of the oppositional stuff they are carrying on their site.

here is another astro turf cartoon against net neutrality. one thing that they miss in the cartoon is that the "dumb pipe" will be vastly simpler to set up and maintain, meaning it will be cheaper to built, to own, and to upgrade. the magic number they mention in the "advanced fiber network" is 25 megabit. that is the exact amount that the phone companies estimate it will take to deliver television to 3 tv sets, two of which are HDTV.

if you read about fiber optics, the only rela limitation is the equipment at wither end of the fiber line. why is 25mbit a magic number? becuase that is the theoretical maximum for old fahsioned copper telephone wires. old fashioned copper wires are not fiber optic, and are already installed in your house, so the phone companies won't have to pay to install fiber. they will jack up your rates for acces though, because fiber is so expensive.

you like how that works? you pay them so they can provide fiber, then they don't provide the fiber. awesome.

i wish i had that kind of deceptive power... i could tell my employer that i need more money to do my job, then quit doing my job.

posted by chris 2:07 PM


Tuesday, June 13, 2006

 
could the IPTV revolution be lead by PBS?

every once in a while i see something earth shattering from i, crigley.

cirgley says that PBS might be the only company that can pull of IPTV becuse they are not for profit.

it should be stated that there is a big difference between "non-profit" and "not yet turing a profit". many startups are "not yet turning a profit" and die off because they run out of money before they get off the ground.

but he does raise a point that phone and cable networks own the last mile, and could leverage in better ways than they have in the past... after all there is no escaping the fact that having a server one hop from your house will always be faster and cheaper than the fanciest amalgamation of internet connections and QOS/traffic shaping.

that should be how phone and cable companies compete, with eachother, and with internet based startups, not by tiering the internet.

posted by chris 5:34 PM


Friday, June 09, 2006

 
my plea for net neutrality

the COPE act passed last night, without the crucial net neutrality amendment.

you can read about it here.

there will be lots of legislation needed to accomodate the "convergence" of the telelcommunications industry.

net neutrality is one of the immediate threats, but there are many others, like the loss of public access programming, the deregulation of local cable companies so that they can all merge into national franchises much like the teleco already have. it's all going down right now and we have to work to protect our rights as consumers and our free speech.

this shit's gotta stop. the telcos have spent big bucks buying this legislation. help me to take back the internet. call congress now: (212)224-3121.

posted by chris 4:14 PM


Wednesday, June 07, 2006

 
the long tail

here are a few articles that talk way better than i can about the proposition of digital media. ALL DIGITAL MEDIA.

the long tail is a term coined by chris anderson, editor in chief of wired magazine describing the power of connecting and infinite number of niche markets.

google and ebay make money by connecting obscure seekers with obscure providers.

if you want digital media to work (books, film, television, whatever) you have to get away form the idea of scarcity, and get into the idea of abundance.

with abundance, there is so much out there that no one can find it on their own. and even if they could, it may not be in the precise format that they are interested in, or on the media that they would like. so rather than push millions of units of a single product, you can push just a few units of millions of products, possibly make even more money than your current model.

now, this model doesn't work for auto parts, electronic equipment, or clothing, but for things that can be distributed digitially and possibly fabricated on demand (CDs, DVDs, books) the only cost is hosting the data.

this tech dirt summary gets into some of the mathematics of the whole thing, while anderson's blog has many more articles on the meat of the matter.

i will sum up my argument here in as few points as possible:

1) by only backing what sells, there is little variety available mainstream: cop shows on tv, video games that are rip-offs of rainbow six and GTA, and movies that are remakes of films from the 70's.

2) the model of using shelf space and media advertisment to move products drives up the price of "guaranteed sellers" while eliminating the market for products with a narrower appeal. if you buy a bunch of unsucessful sellers, thwy will just end up in the "bargain bin" to be sold at cost anyway. leveraging the power of search and e-commerce, you can connect your less popular products with the people who truly are desperate to get ahold of them.

3) if the price of stocking a given IP digitally is minimal, why not have it instantly available to whomever wants it? a dollar made from an old film should spend the same as a dollar made from a brand new one, and since older products should have recouped thier initial purchase price, then additional sales of the older works should be pure profit.

the main issue with digital delivery is DRM, which is not only a complete waste of funds, but could endanger democracy as well, according tobruce perens.

here, in a nutshell are my arguments against digital rights management:

1) DRM doesn't stop piracy. pirated materials are not DRM'd, and the people who pirate them crack the DRM protection before distributing the materials in the first place. as soon as a new copy protection standard is released, there is a crack for it. the money spent deveoping protections that don't protect are a complete waste of money and development effort and do nothing but drive up prices for honest consumers.

2) DRM punishes honest users. by not being able to use media in the format that you like, such as making CDs to play in your car (in the case of iTunes), or compressed versions of your media for use on a protable player or laptop (in the case of DVDs) you are forcing honest consumers to pay multiple times for legitimate media in the format they desire.

3) DRM eliminates fair use. if i am paying for TV service in my home and want to watch shows on my schedule leisure, this is fair use. if i want to watch a show that i recorded some place other than my home, that is also fair use. if i purchased a song, movie or show legitimately and would like to watch/listen to it on one or more portable players that i own, this is still fair use. if i want to play a new DVD or CD in an old player, this is fair use. if i want to skip commercials and other advertisments while watching something that i purchased, this too is fair use. and finally, if i want to enjoy media after the producer has either gone out of business or changed to another media format, this too is fair use.

so, here is how the media giants can make money and please their customers:

1) make all of thier catalogs available for download. all of it, everything, even if no one has ever heard it or bought it.

2) provide an amazon/netflix search and meritocracy application that helps people find and download what they want fast and easily. this service could be membership based (like netflix), or it could be ad/purchase supported (like ebay, froogle, or netflix).

3) offer your IP in a variety of formats: electronic/digital versions at various bitrates and comression sizes, harcopies/pressed discs, inexpensive generic dics with no artwork or liner notes, custom collections of works custom made by the consumer.

4) partner with big box retail stores, video stores, even book stores to offer custom fabrication, delivery, and packaging of works instead of wasting floor and shelf space on expensive copies that don't sell nearly as well.

5) sell apparell, accessories, and other merchandise that is recommended right along side the IP. imagine little banners for sex pistols T-shirts, posters, coffee mugs, backpacks and totebags available for sale right along side audio tracks of thier work, covers of their work by other bands, and movies and books about them or featuring their music. get the digital stuff right away on your phone or computer, pick up a fabricated disc or book at the local walmart, or wait for your mug, shirt, or poster in the mail.

why will this work? instead of economy of scale, you have economy of abundance. the licensed IP is the icing on that makes people want to buy.

if you were to make two copies of every book ever published (regardless of time period, language, subject matter) available in a warehouse, how big would that warehouse have to be? how difficult would it be to find one of those copies? how many of those would sell on a daily basis? how much would that warehouse cost to keep running?

now expand that warehouse to hold 10 copies and include every song, movie and television show ever produced in human history, and invite the whole world to come shop there. finding the IP and getting it into the hands of the market would cost more than the IP itself. so, charge just enough on each download to pay the royalties on it, and add a convenience fee and fabrication fee to cover hosting costs and fabrication costs, and watch as books out of print since the 40's sell (or don't sell) right next to the latest harry potter novel or tom hanks movie.

when i was a teenager i listened to punk and alternative music at a time when this music wasn't very popular (not in cincinnati, ohio anyway) and the big record stores at the mall only carried hair metal albums and country music. finding and buying good music (good in my opinion, anyways) was an ordeal. when CD's came out, alot of the stuff i had (some of it was on vinyl) never came out on CD, or had to be imported, which was freaking expensive.

this on-demand digital delivery would let me buy all of the tracks i was interested in, stuff i had just discovered, and let me buy and enjoy it, legally, affordably, and conveniently. the same could easily be said for movies, books, or tv shows.

you could even sell all the formats together at a discount: like a dvd/CD for $10 with cover art and liner notes, or a generic disc with just the music/movie for $5, or a divx/mp4/avi/mp3/aac version for $2, or all of it together for $15 with no need to worry about ripping/encoding/burning. of course if i would like to save a little money and do it myself, i should have that option.

if the price was low enough and the service was convenient enough i'll bet it would eliminate all but the most hardcore of pirates.

posted by chris 1:10 PM


Monday, June 05, 2006

 
death by dcma

this is an IEEE article on how the dcma has gone way overboard on it's "protections". it's a good read, followed by a lame defense by the MPAA.

i think the root of the problem is that big businesses don't understand progress. since the dawn of the industrial age, technology has progressed to make the development and distribution of goods better cheaper and faster.

one example is books, they used to be made by hand, then on the gutenberg press, then to big automated presses, and finally there are encyclopedias on CD and online.

music used to be only performed live, then it became recorded, then broadcast over the air.

theater used to be only performed live, then it became broadcast, and then it was recorded and distributed.

i would assert that a hand made version of a book or a live perfromance by traveling minstrels is significantly more expensive to produce (and there for more expensive to purchase) than a mass produced digital copy.

one could resonably assert that a single digital copy made available online would be even cheaper to produce, but the media giants do not find this to be desirable. making a dollar per track for what amounts to web hosting fees is somehow not in their business plans.

appearantly, some canadian artists don't like what the meida companies are doing in their names, too bad no big name american artists will stand up like that.

american artists can't stand up. they are owned outright by their labels.

i think the fundamental problem with media in general, be they movies, magazines, music or newspapers, is that it's all show business. it has turned into the business of making shows. it used to be that the business was there to make sure that you continue to sustain the making of shows. now the show is all about doing business.

but how can making money be bad? companies that make money tend to last longer than companies that don't... don't you want the industry to continue to thrive?

no i don't want the industry to thrive. it's not worth saving.

movies are judged now by the amount they make at the box office. music is measured by the number of copies sold. TV shows are measured by the sale price of their commercial slots. no where in this equation is there a measure of quality. money is easy to quantify, quality is not. this used to be about entertainment, and and industry was built to support it's creators. the creators have become slaves to the industry.

when you pump the industry full of money, highly paid artists, highly paid crews, agents that get 10% off the top of everything, and lwayers to make sure nothing gets done easily... the business of show becomes expensive. that makes it harder to get funds for anything other than a guaranteed blockbuster.

how can you guarantee a successful movie, TV show, newspaper, or album? by following a formula. by taking a work of some kind and following it's exact formula. that way there are no new thoughts, no big risks, and no real progress is made.

posted by chris 12:35 PM


Thursday, May 25, 2006

 
more net neutrality stuff
i keep finding more sutff and adding it here as the days go by

here is an interesting cartoon that speaks out against net neutrality.

tho some would consider it to be astro-turfing.

here is a pretty detailed breakdown of the "pro neutral" argument.

and, if you want to see a huge site full of whitepapers on the subject there is always the democratic media site.

here is an article written by a disgruntled telco researcher almost 10 years ago explaining how the old communications networks, based on scarcity, will give way to newer and simpler "datacentric" networks based on abundance and competition.

for those of you that don't get seriously into economics, here is the basic rundown on scarcity vs. abundance:

a resource is considered scarce if it is difficult to find (jewels, fossil fuels, precious metals) or difficult to produce (swiss watches, hand made clothes, custom built motor cycles, one-of-a-kind original works of art). scarcity works when demand is far greater than supply, and business models center around making a very limited number of goods or services available at a premium price. profits are maximized by keeping prices high.

a resource is considered abundant when it is very easy to find (water, rock, sunlight) or very easy (cheap) to produce (hamburgers, dialup internet access, generic goods made from plastic). abundance works when supply is far greater than demand and business models center around making large volumes of goods avbailable at relatively low prices. profits are maximized by producing goods inexpensively and/or by moving them in large quantities.

there is nothing evil or wrong with scarcity itself. if there is only 3 tons of a given metal (mithral, let's say) in the world, then the mithral industry (however small it may be) is probably going to command a pretty high price. the evil is when scarcity is artificially induced in order to maintain high prices.

if it turns out that mithral can be produced by exposing chocolate milk to electricity in high voltages, then it is possible to produce significantly more mithral than the current global supply of 3 tons. refusing to produce any more mithral in order to keep prices high is where the evil comes into play.

so, in the case of network bandwidth, where demand seems grow faster than the supply does, you have a clear case of artificial scarcity. the telcos have paid vast sums of money to run wires across the various urban landscapes of the united states in order to provide voice communications to much of the population, including most rural locations. this network of lines, capable of different capacities, is collectively referred to as "infrastructure". what should be noted about this infrastructure is that a significant portion of money they invest comes in the form of government subsidies and/or relaxation of government ownership restrictions and profit caps imposed during breakups of monopolies.

this infrastructure represents an investment by the various telecommunications companies (and to some extent, the federal government) of billions of dollars. therefore, companies charge residential and commercial users for access to this infrastructure. much like a utility company, the "grid" has a certain cost in terms of installation, implementaion, and upkeep, and users are charged for access to it. HOWEVER, bandwitdth itself is not finite. if i copy a file from a computer in california to a computer in new york, there is no "finite" resource that has been used up. a 100 kilobit per second connection will be able to move 100 kiobits per second long after i have finished moving my file. i would imagine that some electricity is used by all of the routing and switching equipment that helps to facilitate my transaction, but at the end of the day, bandwidth is there if you are using it or not.

now, most providers do not charge per kilobyte for bandwidth usage for their end users. if you are a company or a person at home, you will pay the same rate for your 100kbps connection whether you have attempted to move data 24x7 or not at all. if you run a website, your host will probably charge you for the slice that your site takes out of their 1500kbps (or faster) connection, usually measured in terms of gigabytes per month. the hosting company that is hosting your site is also paying a monthly fee for a superfast connection, probably multiple monthly fees for multiple superfast connections.

so the business models are simple: residential and commercial users are often charged monthly "flat rate" fees for "always on" connections at a given connect speed (expressed in kilobits per second or megabits per second) and providers are charged a "transfer fee" based on the amount of data they move on a monthly basis, usually measured in gigabytes per month.

so if the people who access content (home users and buisnesses) are paying a monthly connect fee, AND the people who provide the content (site operators and hosts) are also paying, isn't everyone already paying "the grid" for use of it's infrastructure?

here is the issue: telcos are used to charging everyone for resources that they don't or can't use all at once. a neighborhood with a thousand phone lines is not equipped to handle a thousand simultaneus calls. more like only a hundred. voice calls are not "always on" the way that data connections are. their "network" is based on the assumption that you can charge everyone, but only provide service to a few at a time. also, the concept of "new services" is synonymous with "new revenue" which just isn't the case with the delivery of data. these are throwbacks to the old voice centric way of looking at business. it's pretty hard for old, slow thinking industries to understand.

win no real competition in the marketplace, telcos and cable operators can change their technologies and pricing structures to benefit their revenues and harm our counnectivity experieince.

well, the telcos would also like to create two or more "tiers" of internet bandwidth. a sort of common "slow lane" and a premium sort of "fast lane" where higher paying preferred subscribers get priority over lower paying "common" subscribers. they might even be considering blocking access althogether to people who don't pay up for "protection". see, more old thinking: new services mean new fees.

if you want to get on the net, you have to pay to get there in one form or another. even if you are freeloading on someone else's unsecured wireless connection, they are still paying for it. the coffee shop, your company, the hotel you are staying at, they are paying for access to the internet, and are most likely re-selling it to you in one form or another. internet access isn't free, but the telcos would have you believe that companies like google are building their businesses on their pipes for nothing, which is simply not the case.

so, other than falsely maintaining scarcity, what other evil is there in this whole thing? well, if you are using a service via the internet, and your provider would like to sell you that same service, they might play some dirty tricks to get you switch to their service. these shinnannegans might include things like making sure that skype stops working so you will buy their VOIP service or that your slingbox quits passing traffic so you will use their internet based TV service. they might stop access to google all together so you will use their search engine instead.

while anti-competitve practices are greedy and tacky, they are simply about money. this is bad, but it's not exaclty "axis of evil" bad. what would be "axis of evil" bad is if a telco/ISP had some sort of (anti)free speech agenda. an ISP with a liberal agenda may block or redirect access to popular sources of conservative activism and politcal news. a telco with a conservative agenda may do the same for liberal sources. this is essentially what the chinese government forces local ISP's to do. while american telcos are not government agencies, and are not held to the same constitutional standards as the federal government, they are subsidized in part by the government, and should therefore be held to some civil and human rights standards.

it's true that there are only two examples of ISP's deliberately degrading competing services in order to force users to switch use a service provided by the ISP, and these were small canadian ISPs, but the fact remains that if there is room for abuse, it will be abused at some point by someone. to my knowlege, the chinese ISP's are the ony service providers to undermine free speech. one thing to consider is this: would you be able to tell if your experience was being manipulated by someone else?

if cnn or fox news wants to skew facts and present things in a way that is neither fair, nor balanced, that is fine, because we as americans can always change the channel (and watch something else provided by the same big media conglommerate... but that is another story). but if you only have one source of broadband internet access in your neighborhood, you can't exactly change the channel, can you?

it is pretty obvious that i am a firm net neutrality supporter, so i guess my presentation of arguments isn't very fair or balanced, but the fact remains that the internet is the future of communications and commerce, and the US should lead the way in keeping it free and open for competition.

the rollout of fiberoptics to residential homes is slow going in the US, while countries like sweden, japan, and korea have as much as 100mbit countrywide. is this because there is no competition in these countries? is it because the telcos are spending up all of their capital buying up and merging with their competitors? sweden and japan are much smaller than the US, but it should be pointed out that korea is one of the poorest countries in the world. why do they get 100mbit fiber and most if the US does not?

yeah, i know, japan, korea and sweden together are like roughly the size of the whole DC metro area, but still, why can't we just get the 40 mbit the telcos promised us? oh, that's right, we deregulated.

the issue with net neutrality isn't the fact that some people want the government to control the internet. these are regulations that are currently in place, all the government needs to do is make those regulations permanent and enforcable. one bone of contention in this is that the decisions *should* be made by congress, and enforced by the FCC... you know, check and balances and whatnot.

also, the fact is that the "old way of doing things" is no more. it's like this for telcos, and it will soon be like this for cable and wireless companies too. in fact, if you are running a business that involves the attachemt of a single function line to a house, or the erection of a single function network that only delivers one thing, your days are numbered.

that was the old way, the new way is much simpler, and way more competitive.

the telcos delivered one application, which is voice, over a networks optimized for voice communications. the whole concept of the phone call... from the phone number, to the concept of the "ring" and "hanging up" is based on the behavior of the tlephone communications network.

wireless carriers are just mobilized connections to the Plain old Switched Telephone Network (PSNT).

VOIP is just a client app and a server somewhere, and IP packets shuttling in between. that means that if i can get a voice app working from my house, i could set up my own "pirate voice network" that never touches the conventional phone network. all i need for it work is to have internet access to the other pirates.

the television broadcasters delivered one application, which is video, over a network optimized for video broadcast. the whole concept of television, with channels, programming schedules, commercials, even network affiliation are all based on the televison station, and the broadcast of television over cabled lines.

cable television is just a wired connection to a TV signal provider.

IPTV is just a client app and a server somewhere, and "streams" of ip packets shuttling between. that means that if i could get a television app working from my house, i could set up my own "pirate television network" that never touches the conventional broadcast or cable television network. all i need for it to work is to have internet access to the other pirates.

television and telecommunications are actually very much alike... telecom started as a wired service and became wireless. television started as wireless and became wired. both are based on the idea that there is a scarce amount infratructure (signal spectrum, copper wire, whatever) that can be made available for people to use and that one company can get paid to provide access to it.

both of these "industries" will soon be getting into each others' businesses. thanks to broadband internet access, you can make phone calls from your cable modem. soon you will be able to watch TV from your phone company's DSL service. this is called the "triple threat" (voice, video and internet access) and is on it's way from a number of providers. but what about the other industries?

two interesting startups are instant media and vongo are web based TV/Movie services. i don't kow much about them other than what i have seen on their commercials, and unless this whole DRM thing can be put to bed for good i don't know how cool these services will be. all of those concerns aside, they are in fact larval stage internet televison.

how about mobile phones? well, all you need is a wifi internet connection and a portable VOIP device and you could have cheap access to mobile telephone service. there are already skype powered wifi phones available on the market, and companies like nokia are already coming out with wifi enabled handheld phones that switch between GSM and WiFi "seamlessly". mobile phone makers are calling wifi enabled phones "quadband".

verizon wireless has a wireless media service where you can get video and music on your mobile phone... sprint is getting into the game as well. VZ has a broadband card that lets you connect your computer to the internet wirelessly. right now these services are in the "early adopter" phase... meaning they expensive as hell. what's to stop them from producing a settop box that let's you get video and music on your home theater setup? or a box that sits in your house and lets all your computers get online? or better still, one box that does *all* of that?

what's to stop any ISP from setting up wifi hotspots all over your city? or using wimax to cover a whole city in a couple of shots? with services like those, mobile media and communications are simply a matter of software development.

how about an opt-in wifi mesh sharing service that lets everyone in for free as long as they share their home's wifi? a kind of "pirate wireless network".

one interesting thing, at least in my neighborhood: to get DSL you need a cincinnati bell phone line. if you want a cable modem you need cable TV service. in each case, internet access is secondary to the primary offering of television or telephone service, so you have to decide which service you want to pony up for. in my case, i went for cable TV, and got a phone thru lingo. in the future, with IPTV, i could decide to get a phone from the phone company, DSL, and get television off the internet if the price was right.

if you could get high speed internet access from another source, say some sort of municipal wifi, from my mobile phone provider, or via powerlines, that would really shake things up since i would imagine that the combination of third party VOIP and IPTV would be cheaper than getting either from the phone or cable company.

google, yahoo, skype, and MSN are all fooling around with instant messaging, voice communication, video conferencing, and downloadable video services. if the television and telephone companies are allowed to descriminate against what other service providers can do on their networks, there won't be nearly as much competition as there is potential for.

now don't get me wrong, i am sure that MS, google, yahoo, AOL and all the other content/application providers have evil plans for us as well. i would imagine that targeted advertising will get more and more insideous as time marches on, especially if we start using them for TV and telephone service as well and they can monitor our TV and music habits as well as listen in on our phone conversations.

isen (the stupid networks guy) says in his letter called the "story under the VOIP story" that there are two basic business models for the future:

1) run any app you want on MY network (the broadband model)
2) run MY app on any network you want (the VOIP/IPTV model)

in both models, you can make money, but probably not the obscene amounts available today thanks to local monopolies. prices will be determined by what the market is willing to pay your competition. wow, competition, what an ugly word, huh?

sometimes the term "convergence" is used to describe getting all your communications needs from one wire/signal.

potential for competition means potential for lower prices. it means more for the consumer, and could actually mean more for the telcos/cable companies as well. the old model of vertical applications with high barriers to entry are fading away, slowly and not very gracefully. but in the end, you will only make money three ways: delivering content, delivering applications, or delivering access to content and applications.

with the market vastly simplified, companies can focus on their core competencies (application, content, connectivity) to become "best of breed" or harness their purchasing power to create effective partnerships to deliver "one stop shopping". also, if all your network has to worry about is the delivery of bits quickly and accurately, your implementation and support requirements should be greatly reduced, but sadly, so will the costs of your competitors.

the separation of connectivity and content is essential.

content providers, application providers, and access providers need eachother. hardware and software companies like cisco, microsoft, and intel also need these providers. people need access to get your content, and people will only buy access if there is content worth accesssing, and no one is going to buy computers, software, and networking equipment if there is no content worth getting or a way to get to it.

if this "intetnet utopia without commerce" idea is challenging for you, ask yourself these questions:

1) do people listen to the radio in order to hear commercials?

2) do people watch TV in order to see commercials?

3) why do people buy cable TV services like HBO?

4) why do people people buy satellite radio services?

5) why do people buy televisions?

6) why do people buy telephones?

7) why do people buy telephone services?

8) why are web sites like myspace.com so popular?

posted by chris 1:32 PM


Thursday, May 18, 2006

 

OMGPWNED!!



this pic and the one following it were taken from the inside of a machine after the powersupply arc'd. that's the main power connector. on a healthy board, they are all white, not half black.

my photography is courtesy of my cell and an LED flashlight. pheer meh!

if you are not using a surge protector or a line conditioner at this moment, run (do not walk) to get one before your sweet gaming rig ends up dead as fried chicken.

posted by chris 4:42 PM

 

PWNED!!



this is a DDR-266 stick, cooked medium well.

posted by chris 4:37 PM


Wednesday, May 17, 2006

 
a big net neutrality campaign


Save the Internet: Click here

posted by chris 1:23 PM


Monday, May 15, 2006

 
more randomness
now that i am not chained to a desk taking phone calls from idiots, i have far less time (read: lunchtime on the days that happens) and brain power to devote to documenting my professional life... such as it is.

so here are some random things that i have run across in the wild wild web:

news flash: lazy stockbroker can't run linux

this article by some stupid journalist from the dow jones tried running linux and ran into a problem.

this was his problem:
While solutions may exist to almost every problem I encountered, I was willing to invest only a limited amount of time as a system administrator. Claims by some Linux publishers that anybody can easily switch to Linux from Windows seem totally oversold.

In the end, I decided to buy an upgrade copy of Windows XP for $100. That normally wouldn't be a good idea since it doesn't upgrade the file system. But it's a good solution until Vista arrives.


i should publish an article called "10 reasons to stay the hell away from linux"

1) you have laptop or tablet PC composed entirely of proprietary hardware
2) you have a scanner, modem, or other device powered entirely by winblows software
3) you have an irrational fear of command lines
4) you didn't test your computer using a live CD first
5) you don't have more than 5 minutes to set your computer up
6) you can't read a webpage or post on how to fix a problem
7) you can't live without some proprietary application
8) you can't research a project *before* starting on it
9) you can't figure out if you need to run linux
10) you are a journalist

so the question is: can ordinary computer users use linux?
the answer: they can't use windows either, so who cares?

the digitization of books
this is a new jack times article on scanned texts and how much value they gain when they are digitzed and the copies given away for free. sometimes that value is monetary, most of the time the value is just in buzz.

i guess that in this day and age, with all of the artificial buzz generated about movies and music and "news", real buzz about something that really is interesting isn't easy to quantify.

speaking of which, there is a question about why should studios bother to make $200million films if they are just going to be priated?

my response to that is simple:
you can't make a really good movie regardless of the cost, so just stop. i guess lord of the rings was the last movie that i saw that i had to see again, and paid full price to do so. i saw each of them a couple of times in the theater before they came out on video. tho i held off on buying the DVDs until the extended editions came out. i'm dedicated, not stupid. in general, huge budget movies are stupid, and the movie industry is stupid.

they should watch an episode of red vs blue to get an idea of how to make something funny for very little money.

i remember when i was in highschool, and terminator 2 was the biggest budget movie of all time at $100 million. it was one of the best movies i had ever seen, but hey, i was 16, i didn't know any better.

anyway, the old model is to spend $200mil so you have to make $220mil in sales to turn a 10% profit. i'll bet that the guys at jibjab, or redvsblue, or ancanar would love to make $20mil, and i'll bet they didn't spend $1mil even with all of the hosting and everything.

I'll bet that if you only spend $40 million on everything, and made $220 million in sales, you would be turning a 550% profit. it seems to me that the less you spend on a production, the less you have to make in order to turn a tidy profit, especially when the movie going public is so dis-enfranchised with your offerings.

anyway... i ran across this thing about the epic microkernel debate between tanenbaum and torvalds

the argument is an old one and the linux side translates roughly to "if you can make something better than linux, go for it." the point being that while microkernels are better and more portable, they are harder to get "right" and so the linux kernel wins because it's 1) available for production use and 2) good at what it does, even it what it does isn't the best way to do it. GNU HURD and MINIX are far from complete and usable, even if their technology is better.

so andy taunenbaum fired his latest salvo in the fight, saying some pretty interesting things about microkernels.

taunenbaum's argument is that computers have to be restarted because of software crashes. everything from driver crashes to userspace application snags can cause a PC (or server) to go down hard. the microkernel school of kung fu states that the kernel mode code *must* be as small as possible, like just enough to pass messages back and forth between processes, and that everything else should be run in userspace, or a kind of sandbox, isolated from all other running modules. this way, idividual pieces can crash and be restarted and not take the kernel out in the process.

conversely, windows, linux, and many other operating systems will have a driver or other application crash cause the kernel to stop functioning as prescribed, because all of it is running in kernel mode. this leads to security and stability issues because many things have access to the kernel and can either compromise or kill it.

at least, that is the academic argument in favor of microkernels. mac osX is a microkernel OS... i have limited experience with it, so i could not tell you if it is in fact all the way live.

this new installment on an old argument, coupled with a register thing on microsoft giving away source code... with a few caveats mentioned an old document from 76 which i haven't read in years... the open letter to hobbyists. it preceeded the GNU manifesto by about 9 years, and is one of the hallmarks of the rise of proprietary software which pretty much doomed old school hacker culture.

the letter basically states that most of the people that use his shit aren't paying for it, and that the hobbyist community is really only hurting itself. you know: "you're gettin' yours but i ain't gettin' mine."

this leads into an argument that open source and proprietary software people have had for years... that programmers deserve to be paid because they became programmers in order to get paid. the open source software camp response is that if you want to get rich, stop programming and be a stock broker, we became programmers because we want to program. there are real things that make computers work (hardware, networking devices, support, monitoring, customization, configuration) which are time consuming and thankless and should probably offer monetary rewards.

in technical terms, the payoff for making software (and presumably writing, art, music, or any other creative endeavor) is to see it's acceptance and popularity with the public. that is why libraries, museums and your mom's refridgerator are great places to see creative works. the problem with software is that it has to interract with other creative works. a sculpture or a book pretty much just sits there, whereas a game or communication app needs to run on an operating system and may need to interface with other different applications and pieces of hardware. this is why the abusive ownership of a book or sculpture may not diminish the viability of the work, but can severely impact the viability of a piece of software.

also, if you pay the asking price for a sculpture or a book, and then give it to your friend, sell it for half price, light it on fire, or smash it to bits, that is your business and your business alone. if the sale of a book came with a non-distribution contract and terms of use, you may be more selective about the books and sculptures that you choose to buy.

but a sculpture or a painting is made by hand... books, music, and software are mass produced and cheap copies are sold.

WTF? you mean each CD isn't lovingly crafted by hand? then what is all that "hard work" that artists developers talk about when they bitch about their money? they get to do what they love to do all day, and not have to get a "day job". they obviously still have their dream jobs since they keep making the shit.

the question is, if they only made middle class wages, would they still do it?

to quote LL cool J: "you in it for the money or in it for the love?"

the root argument at the bottom of all this "internet commie bullshit" is the fact that there is a difference between getting paid fairly, or even well, if your skills warrant it, and making obscene money for a product that isn't up to par. having a free/low cost alternative to high priced proprietary software helps to balance things out. the Free stuff keeps getting better, and the high priced stuff keeps staying the same, although in the defense of game makers and interface designers, it all keeps getting prettier. being able to "steal" other intellectual property to see if it fits your needs also helps. with software, you can't really run a business on stolen software thanks to goon squads like the BSA.

so you can't use pirated software to run a business (i.e. make money) but you can use it for your personal needs with little fear. that way you can see if it will suit your business on your own terms, like taking 6 months instead of 30 days to evaluate. you can also do that with music and books and stuff, though i would imagine that if you could get an "extended evaluation" copy, you would just continue to evaluate rather than commit to buying it.

so hollywood, redmond, and silicon valley keep grunting out steaming piles of mediocre IP, and wasting millions in fighting the inertia of free internet distribution, when they should be focusing thier bankrolls on quality.

so if any of you are listening: if you want our money, make something worth buying. if you are going to keep making the same crap, then cut the price of it so we can get it legally on our terms, not yours. buying your shit outright only buys us peace of mind, and in the case of commercial use, legal compliance.

this shit is like a war now. we, the consumers, will continue to fight to get what we want on our terms. you, the IP cartels, will continue to fight to make us pay again and again for somethng that isn't worth the price. it's a war of attrition, and your weapons are money and legislation, and ours are time and talent. your resources are finite, ours are infinite. in the end, who do you think will win?

wow, i really got off on a rant there
this started monday morning and it's now wednesday evening... i guess when i get going i can't stop.

posted by chris 10:14 AM


Friday, April 14, 2006

 
i <3 gmail

have have been getting email out of my shell account for like 8 years. for those years my email address has ended up on every spam list in the universe. in the last couple of months, the spam situation has gotten out of hand. i get almost a hundred spam messages every day. it has gotten to the point that i have considered abandoning the address because it takes so much time to weed out real mail from all the spam.

my first step was to get a gmail account, cuz i'm a total google whore. i didn't get the name i wanted, so i was pretty pissed. once i decided that i could live with the address i got, i was looking around all the settings and stuff, and i found a thing wehre you can send mail from other addresses. so i set it up and tested it out, and it turns out that it works out fairly well.

there are a couple of things i don't like, namely that some mail clients (micorsoft outlook specifically) show the gmail account as the sender on behalf of the shell account. the other thing is the inability to use colors to highlight based on criteria like squirrelmail does. other than that, the spam protection is top notch. i still get those hundred or so messages, but it dumps almost all of them into a spam folder that i can flush at my leisure.

now that i am able to send mail (more or less) from my shell account via gmail, all i have left to do is forward all my shit to the gmail account. this is a breeze thanks to the magic of sendmail. on most unix systems, all you need to to do is create a simple text file in the root of your home directory (/home/username) called ".forward" and as if my magiuc, all of your mial will forward to that email address. it won't even hit the spooler on the local machine, so there is no need to log into the shell account to check your mail.

this is especially nice since hobbiton dropped telnet access in favor of SSH. this meant that if i wanted access to my mail from a machine that didn't have an SSH client built in (such as every windows machine on planet earth) i had to use squirrelmail, the web interface that many unix/linux systems have adopted. since i am already reduced to using a browser for my mail, why not take advantage of gmails excellent spam protection?

i have .forwards set up on all my shell accounts now and all the spam that would go to them gets eaten by gmail.

leave it to old school unix to provide the solution to a very new school problem.

posted by chris 12:14 PM


Wednesday, April 12, 2006

 
today's telco buzzword is: MVNO

MVNO stands for Mobile Virtual Network Operator. an mvno is a compny that sells mobile phone service without serving as a carrier. mvno's do not run their own networks, but buy and resell service on other networks.

boost mobile and amp'd mobile are MVNO's. they tend to focus on pre-paid service.

boost is a front for sprint/nextel, pretty obvious thanks to their annoying walkie-talkie thing that they call "chirp".

amp'd is a front for verizon, piggy backing on the VCast mobile media service.

there are a ton of other operators, but they all pretty much do the same thing.

posted by chris 12:36 PM


Monday, April 10, 2006

 
penny arcade comics on farcry

these comics are freakin' hysterical even if you haven't played farcry (which i have not).

one thing, if you look down the side of the page, there are logos for all of the versions of the game. one thing i hate, in movies or games, is the need to add more crap to the title to distinguish all of the myrriad sequels that get shat out of a given franchise.

in the case of farcry, they started with the original title of the game, farcry, then the sequel, farcry instincts and then the next installment farcry instincts predator and could presumably snowball into farcry instincts predator miami and end up with farcry instincts predator miami alpha turbo VR missions.

movies are no better, for example: die hard, die hard 2: die harder, die hard with a vengeance and lets not forget, friday, next friday, friday after next, and presumably a week from next friday

i realize that you have to keep the brand name intact, and you have to distinguish between titles, but what happened to using old fashioned numbers? like diablo and diblo 2?

if you are making a movie or a game, and you are pretty sure that you are going to make many seqels, why not use unique titles in the original, like harry potter and the sorcerer's stone? i guess that raises the question of which one to check out first.

TV series are the worst. there must be 12 cop shows on TV right now that are just spinoffs. there are like 4 CSI shows and like 8 iterations of law and order. i can't keep them all straight. i know one of the CSI shows has a hot goth girl in it, tho i have never seen a complete episode with her in it. i know ice T is in some subset of law and order (the dude that made the song "copkiller" and "colors" is in a show where he plays a cop, opposite a bunch of white people and my mom just loves him), along with all of the people that they killed off of HBO's series OZ, but good luck finding them all.

what i really want to see is doctor dre and ice cube play cop buddies in the TV adaptation of bad boys. they used to be pard of a group called NWA, and they had a song called FTP, only it didn't stand for File Transfer Protocol.

posted by chris 10:51 AM


Friday, April 07, 2006

 

Big surgery presentation at a fancy hotel downtown. i am helping with the a.v. stuff, making sure the presentation goes smoothly.


posted by chris 2:50 PM


Wednesday, April 05, 2006

 



i hate treos.

i also hate sending pics from my verizon phone. the message is loaded with advertising for their pix service, which means that i have to edit the posts afterward to remove all of their spam. not cool.

however i love bloggers mobile blogging service.


posted by chris 1:12 PM


Monday, March 27, 2006

 
finally, someone that agrees with me

the PA boyz agree that anime people are freakin' weird. they are big celebrities adn therefore lend legitimacy to my own ranting.

thankfully there is wikipedia to explain wierd japanese words like doujinshi without fear of running into tentacles. i also learned that my offical source for japanese anime/manga weirdness is in fact a doujinishi.

posted by chris 3:51 PM


Wednesday, March 22, 2006

 
random bits

1) yahoo is moving to a skype knock-off service which might be neat if it's bundled with your mail and whatnot. i am a skype-man myself and i'll be deep in the cold hard ground before i recognize missoura.

2) i guess audio blogging sucks. glad i found out now, i was this close to adding my nasally white guy voice using words like "shizzle" to the already rich offering of leetspeek, typos, ranting, and copious use of all lower case.

3) my IM conversations are boring as hell other people's are freakin hillarious.

4) these idiots will post anything that you fax them. i guess they do mean anything.

posted by chris 4:56 PM


Monday, March 20, 2006

 
ugly web sites are cool

according to this article, there are a number of functional but ugly sites that are quite successfult. now i don't feel so bad about mine :-)

posted by chris 1:58 PM

 
microsoft's portable media/game thingy

there is an entry in a blog somewhere about how MS is supposedly making a prtable much akin to the PSP. i am hoping agianst hope that this is a real success for a number of reasons:
  1. i hope it has wifi built in to connect to live and live's voice capability.

  2. i hope the mod community has their way with it in a big way, like the original xbox. imagine running skype on a little portable.

  3. i hope there are ways to port all the xbox linux apps to it. this weekend i got surreal64 running on my modded xbox and played a bunch of nintendo 64 games on it.

  4. a mobile version of xbox media center would also rock absolutely


my modded xbox is great as a media center and a gaming center without putting a single xbox game into it. for example, i have media clips and movies saved on it so i can show them to people when they come by instead of watching them on my computer or digging up the DVD. i also have a bunch of older games on it (nintendo64, a port of doom 3D, and some tetris/pacman/and space invaders clones) that i don't need a disk for either. i could have achieved this with a regular computer and a bunch of software, but probably not for $200 dollars ($150 for the xbox, $50 for the chip).

posted by chris 12:08 PM


Wednesday, March 08, 2006

 
the best DRM paper ever written

this is the greatest DRM paper ever written. and it was presented to microsoft.

i have always said that DRM was a waste of research money, but this sums it up way better than i could from a business, technological, and social standpoint.

posted by chris 6:02 PM


Thursday, March 02, 2006

 
typing entirely in lowercase

i rarely use caps when i type because of all the problems caused by case sensitivity. the way most computer operating systems (other than windows) see it, a D is a completely different letter than d. therefore, "dude" and "Dude" are completely different words. so if i were to write a script like this, i would get an error:

$dude=chris;
echo "hey "$Dude"!";


in my early days, when i didn't type very fast, or accurately, having to repeat typed lines became a chore, and so i sort of adapted to not using caps. i am not the only person to do this, there are many of us out there. if i have to write something to imporess people, word processors handle most capitalization already, so it's no big deal.

so if you have ever thought "how is it that he can use words like 'heuristic' and not capitalize the letter 'i'?" well, now you know.

a co-worker of mine, a writer by trade, pointed out that my emails remind him ofarchy and mehitabel, a series of newspaper columns written by a cockroach who stopmed on the keys of an old typewriter in a newspaper office when everyone had left for the day. because he was so small, he couldn't use the shift key in combination with other keys, so he wrote entirely in lowercase and used no punctuation.

posted by chris 5:14 PM


Wednesday, March 01, 2006

 
old article about saying no to microsoft

i read a slashdot article today about a warning from lawyers in new zealand about using open source software licenses. the article was pretty much fud, even if it does capture many of the free and open source licenses pretty concisely.

so there was talk among the posters about the trouble that you can get it with closed source software as well, with a pointer to a 2003 article about this guitar string maker gave MS the finger after getting raided by the BSA. the job they did on him was pretty severe. and in response he became an open source software advocate overnight.

so one guy posted about how the open source solution worked for this guy because of his relatively simple needs, and how large scale IT deployments are really only suited for active directory and group policy. i read it and pretty much just went off.

it's been a while since i have done that. i can only blame myspace for bringing out the "ranter" in me.

in case my comments get blocked or banned, here is the post:
no one can compete with lazy tech workers
MS gets us all because they can capitalize on the one thing that no one will admit to existing: the laziness of the american tech worker. sys admins fear unix because they will have to grow technically. IE is the dominant browser, and windows is the dominant OS because it is so easy for lazy devs to code for it. why would you learn to write elegant usable code when windows/IE/CLR can do the heavy lifting for you?

enterprise apps, enterprise system administration, *should* be consistent and controlled, but the truth is that in reality, there is no such thing as consistency or control. enterprise systems are built by lazy developers who rely on MS to cover up their pitiful coding, testing, and review practices. those systems are rolled into production to be supported by lazy system and network engineers who want grphical tools that are powered by wizards instead of using real engineering talent and skill to get things done.

why write standards compliant code when ie will display your miserably broken HTML/script just fine? why learn to use infinitely more flexible languages like perl or python or PHP (or *GASP* C/C++) when you can lean on .NET and ASP to conceal the fact that you only know how to code in javascript?

why would you learn about system administration, tuning, or maintenance when you can just let windows do your thinking for you? when it fails you can just re-install it and suffer all that downtime. i mean so what if you need to repair/reboot once a month, when it only took you an hour to build that server? thankfully it will only take another hour when you rebuild it in a year.

you want real centralization? NFS shares can be mounted *anywhere* in a unix file system tree and the OS won't know or care about the difference. the "profile" for every user on a unix system is in /home/$username, and all application data and settings are pulled form there (just like c:\documents and settings). /home could be a local mount or mounted from a file server, and the files are accessed and updated in real time, not on logon/logoff like active directory's roaming profiles, that eventaully stop working in most user cases.

you can also install an app anywhere you want to, like /usr/local/bin. that too can be a network share and the OS would never know/care (be that the OS for a server, for a workstation, or for a thin client). try mouning c:\program files or c:\windows\system32 from a remote server.

how is that cetralized? well, if you want to update open office, which is installed to and mounted from /usr/local/bin, all you have to do is update the bits on the server that it's all pulled from.

network too busy to mount everything from remote file shares? you can use rsync to update everything in the middle of the night at a designated time, rather than waiting for all of your users to log in in the morning and bring the network to it's knees with their mass of updates delivered via active directory login scripts.

you want group policy? user and group permissions can guarantee that only the right people get access to certian applications/files/devices.

and all of this functionality is free. yes it's free, you can download pretty much any version you want. if you need commercial support cuz you are too lazy to read an FAQ, a manual, message board, or book that doesn't say "exam cram" on it, then you can get it, and pay for it as you need it, and only when you need it.

too bad only small companies with little or no application needs can see that.


and since i am alone here, i can continue to rant :-)

it's just like freakin steve balmer said in the monkey boy videos. the secret of their success is developers. their development tools, platforms, and infrastructure make it virtually guaranteed that it is the target environment for hardware and software development. choosing any other target platform is essentially choosing to do it the hard way.

there are times when taking the path of least resistance is best, and there are times, such as when constructing the infrastructure for an enterprise of any size, that the hardway is the best way. the cost of acquisition for IT assets represents a quarter of the cost of a given solution. whatever you cash you shell out to get your hands on bits and the boxes, you are likely to spend again on implementation, and to spend it again on maintenance. that's just how it is.

so if you are going to spend the money, why not take the money that you would have spent on software (media, licence fees, per user client access licences for servers and server software) and divert it to better implementation and maintenance?

if you can recycle hardware assets to gain years of usability why wouldn't you? you can do this with BSD/linux by handing down fat engineering workstations to clerical/data entry/customer service cleints, until the assets are finally gutted and used as thin clients. you could use a box in this manner for as many as 10 years before tossing it, assuming it doesn't eventually fail physically. this would be a dramatic savings in comparison to the 2-3 year timeframe that hardware and software manufacturers would like you to upgrade in.

but what about the training costs for our users?
it's gonna cost a bundle for them to learn to use a new system, right?

training costs? did you freaking train them in the first place? having worked for a helpdesk, i think not. the truth is that your employees probably have no idea how to use the computers they have, what's to be lost in moving to another system?

or better yet, take some of the funds that you used to spend in maintenance, which you are now saving on thanks to quality implementation, and spend that to actually train your employees. that way they would know not only how to do their jobs, but to make their jobs easier and faster.

posted by chris 1:29 PM


Tuesday, February 28, 2006

 
screenshots from vista

extreme tech says vista won't suck. i'll be the judge of that.

i will probably end up with vista on a box for games, or a laptop, but i have lost much of my interest in windows. i'll probably always have a windoze box at work, and keep a "wintendo" around for gaming, but for my day to day use, i am really leaning toward a mac or BSD/linux box for my day to day use.

posted by chris 1:13 PM

 
myspace is teh D3\/1L

wired has a thing on parents and teachers freaking out over myspace. which is an interesting read. in general, i think that myspace is very dangerous for everyone for the following reasons:
  1. the page designs are garish and nearly unreadable you'll be making web pages that suck.

  2. people talk at length about their stupid lives as if anyone gave a shit. talk about pretentious... MY website is a masterwork of prose that captures the essence of the IT person's human condition... who am i kidding? no one gives a shit what i write here either... but at least there isn't midi music, geocities backgrounds and 500 animated gifs.

  3. myspace is a huge timesink. reading other people's torturously designed webpages full of pointless prattle about their inane lives and badly photographed amateur porn is somehow surprisingly addictive. you can easily waste two hours there before you've realized it. not to mention the fact that their webhost is hella slow, meaning those midi music clips and animated gifs all have to load at slower than dialup speeds before you can get to the prattle and porn.

  4. the people on myspace are either stupid or crazy... probably both. i think part of the popularity, and danger, of myspace is the tendency for people to divulge too much about themselves. if you are doing something will get you in trouble, it's probably not a good idea to post it on one of the most popular websites in the world, where your posts can easily be traced back to you. if you are a teenager, perhaps writing graphic depictions of your underage sex, underage drinking, and acts of vandalism is not a good idea. providing photographic evidence is probably an even worse idea. if you are not a teenager, and you are bad mouthing your employer, your spouse, or your family without having some semblance of annonymity... well, you are old enough to know that that's a bad idea.


my wife got me hooked on myspace. she is a bad influence. myspace is really a gateway to darker and more dangerous internet practices, like posting to message boards.

posted by chris 10:06 AM


Monday, February 27, 2006

 
indian dude runs pirate radio station

this guy can't read, but built an FM radio station for a dollar. that's freakin l33t.

it's illegal as hell tho. appearantly battery powered transistor radios are the main source of entertainment for locals in his village, and dude doesn't make a dime from his operation.

i wish there was more of that spirit in the U.S. americans are so obsessed with money that they lose track of other things, like the importance of community. i am one of the worst offenders in this regard. i don't know who my neighbors are and i never talk to them.

i guess that's the dark side of technology... it causes you to be less human.

posted by chris 11:31 AM


Saturday, February 25, 2006

 
help Fight the RIAA


posted by chris 9:32 AM


Friday, February 24, 2006

 
yahoo exec speaks aout against DRM

read about it here.

i can't wait to read about his murder on CNN tomorrow.

posted by chris 2:59 PM


Friday, February 10, 2006

 
not using the right tool for the job

one thing that drives me crazy is when people don't understand a given medium of communication. communication is important, and using the proper medium is even more important.

there are two basic types of communication, synchronous and asynchronous. there are numerous factors that separate all the methods that you can use to get in touch with a person, but those are the two biggest differences.

synchronous communication requires both parties (the sender and the recipient) to be present for communication to take place. examples of synchronous communication are telephone conversations, talking face to face, and instant messaging. if a person is not available to talk, then you cannot communicate with them.

asynchronous communication does not require the other party to be present for communication to take place. examples of asynchronous communication are email, voice mail, and text messaging.

all communication is disruptive to one extent or another. some methods, such as talking in person or on the phone, are more disruptive than others, such as text messaging or instant messaging. the more urgent the need for communication, the easier it is to justify the disruption.

these should be considered when choosing the means of communication, and especially when initiating communication. if you need and instant response, you should problably use a synchronous form of communication, preferrably to a mobile device. if you don't need an instant response, then perhaps an ansynchronous and less disruptive method may be in order.

for example, if a hurrcaine hits new orleans, perhaps sending emails is not the best way to get message out. another example is calling a person and leaving them a message that simply says "this is so-and-so...call me". in the case of a hurricaine, a call to one or more mobile phones would surely be justified. in the case of a voicemail, i can already tell by the caller ID that you called, and could easily presume that you need a call back, perhaps a more detailed message about the nature of the inquiry is in order.

my personal pet peeve is using more than one method of communication to an end. for example, if you send me an email, then call me to tell me that you did it... why not just call me in the first place? also, if you wish to have a lengthy discussion via email, rather than exchange hundreds of one line emails, why not use instant messaging instead?

my favorite is the call that you are sending a fax. not the call that you have already sent it, but the call that you are about to send it. why not write on the cover sheet that you would like a call confirming that the fax was received?

posted by chris 2:18 PM


Thursday, February 09, 2006

 
the jerks and wankers that post to message boards are actually professionals

it's no secret that i hate having to turn to online forums for information, but at least technical forums will help you professionally. it's bad to have to tolerate people's stupidity, but at least you get paid for it. gaming, movie, comic, and purely social forums are pointless because they are populated entirely by jerks.

the only forums that i have any sort of tolerance for are technical forums like linux support forums, at least that's my stance. in case you missed it, this is my offical stance on online message boards:

unmoderated forums are overrun by jerks and wankers, moderated forums are moderated by jerks and wankers.

so anyway, my original point is that the PA boyz discovered that there are firms that promote products in gaming forums. they first disclosed the phenomenon in this news post thing and then covered it in more detail here. appearantly this revelation was shocking enough to raise the ire of teh canadians.

long have i been persecuted for my radical view of online posters, but no more, for now i am vindicated!

posted by chris 9:27 AM


Tuesday, February 07, 2006

 
the japanese just keep gettin' weirder

i have said it before, and i'll say it again, the japanese are freakin' weird. not bad, just weird. i love their food, and their sports, and their cars, but sometimes their culture is just weird.

i found this link in a megatokyo rant about japanese shut-ins

i went to a white trash midwestern high school in a little white trash midwestern town, and in the late 80's and early 90's, the japanese were portrayed by my chemistry teacher to be the enemy. they owned everyting in america, they were such hard workers and excelled in every respect, there was no way in hell that we fat stupid white kids were going to be able to compete... unless of course we excelled in academics, science in particular.

obviously, that was not, and is not the case. it was one teacher's version of the red scare. japan has it's cultural positives and negatives just like the US.

my argument then (in 1991) was this: if the japanese are in fact superior to us because of their focus and rigor, then why isn't their culture mainstramed and sold to the rest of the world? why aren't their movies, music, literature, and fashion translated and sold to the rest of the world the way that ours is?

now, 15 years later, that just may be the case. anime, manga, and video games are hot imports in the US, and movies like the ring are remakes of japanese films as well. the world of american baseball has a couple of japanese heros, although it should be mentioned that they moved to the US to play in the "big league".

posted by chris 10:26 AM


Tuesday, January 24, 2006

 
tello: the startup that no one will understand... a blast from the past

there is a lot of buzz in the voip rags about tello. tello has all the markings of a great startup:

1) a unique name that you can get a top level domain name for.
2) a nice looking website that has pictures of people working on it
3) a nifty logo that would look sweet on a t-shirt or hat
4) the backing of big names in the industry, both in technology and investments
5) series A capital

i worked for one of these companies once. we had properties 1-3 wired tight, and were a little lacking in 4 and 5. in the end, the company went under, taking 20 million dollars in funding with it. but it was a fun time.

jeff pulver, one of the key players and former vonage founder, said this:
While not everyone in the blogosphere fully "gets" what Tello is all about, many do, and some of the shared skepticism in the blogosphere is appreciated as it helps provide a balance.

getting customers to "get it" was an uphill battle for us. the people who "got it" didn't have any money, and the people who had money didn't "get it". in the end we didn't sell much of anything.

seeing real technical evangelism sort of makes me misty-eyed for the good old days of startup life. of course, now that i have 4 years distance from that life, i can only see the good times, and not the bad ones (you know: crushing relase cycles, 12 hour work days, staying up til 6 am working on a powerpoint presentation).

posted by chris 5:35 PM


Friday, January 20, 2006

 
OMFG t3h pr0n!!

the fedz want google's records. google said no to the fedz. now there's going to be a fight.

every day that passes, i love google more and more.

perhaps i am just paraniod from having just seen good night and good luck but i think the time for us to be afraid of the spectre of terrorism has come and gone. terrorism is real, and 9/11 was a heinous act, but letting the government have free reign over our civil liberties is categorically stupid. we are beginning to wise up, so now it's time to worry about "the children".

children are pretty much the only thing left for us to be outraged over. we as americans really don't care about much else. class struggle, gender and racial bias, even crime has become passe. children, on the other hand, are a gift from god, our hope future, and a bunch of other bullshit that i can't remember. i'm not questioning that they need to be protected (BY THEIR PARENTS). i am questioning the use of children as a tactic to gain control over the internet, television, and every thing else.

the simple fact is that children do not belong on the internet. if they are on the internet, they (the children, not the internet) should be monitored and supervised by their parents (the parties responsible for raising them, not the federal government).

in fact, people in general should not be on the internet. anyone in the world with anything at all to say can say it, regardless of wether it's good or bad, important or unimportant, coherent or incoherent. if you believe anything that you read, are easily fooled, are easily upset, or can be offended in any manner, then stay the hell away from the internet. it is a playground for mature, rational, and open-minded people. the net would be much better place if people just stayed away from it.

posted by chris 11:00 AM


Tuesday, January 17, 2006

 
turn a honda element into a mobile hotspot

i love articles like this. articles where a guy is waiting for some application to be made and at some point says "screw this, i'm building it myself".

essentially, it's a router built around a verizon mobile card and a 54g wifi card. the mobile card lets you get broadband internet acess from cell towers, and the wifi card provides wireless access to PC's from the card. the whole thing runs off of the car's power supply. it's really cool.

posted by chris 5:17 PM


Friday, January 13, 2006

 
quick xorg hack

if you want to change the starting resolution from the shit that your linux distro chose for you, edit the xorg.conf (or the XF86Conf-4) look for and entry about the default depth (do a search for DefaultDepth) and see which one is set (change it by commenting/uncommenting if you want), then look for the section below about Subsection "Display". find the one that corresponds to your default and make sure that the resolution you want is listed first. like so:

# If your card can handle it, a higher default color depth (like 24 or 32)
# is highly recommended.

# DefaultDepth 8
# DefaultDepth 16
DefaultDepth 24 # <-- that's your defualt depth, it's not commented
# DefaultDepth 32

# "1024x768" is also a conservative usable default resolution. If you
# have a better monitor, feel free to try resolutions such as
# "1152x864", "1280x1024", "1600x1200", and "1800x1400" (or whatever your
# card/monitor can produce)

Subsection "Display"
Depth 8
Modes "1024x768" "800x600" "640x480"
EndSubsection
Subsection "Display"
Depth 16
Modes "1024x768" "800x600" "640x480"
EndSubsection
Subsection "Display"
Depth 24 #<--remember this guy?
Modes "800x600" "640x480" #<--set your shit right here
EndSubsection
Subsection "Display"
Depth 32
Modes "1024x768" "800x600" "640x480"
EndSubsection

EndSection


that's it :-)

posted by chris 5:00 PM

 
teleflip is cool, but people in cincinnati are dicks

i was looking around for a thing on treo 650's, which the docs here at work use and i found this treo hacking site and one of the archived things was a speel on this cool service that lets you send sms messages by email.

teleflip is cool
sms messaging by email is not new, but teleflip eliminates the need to determine the carrier for the number that you are trying to reach so you know what domain name to use for your email address. for example, a verizon email address for a mobile phone would be 2125551212@vtext.com, while a cingular mobile would be 2125551212@mobile.mycingular.com. with teleflip, all you do is email 2125551212@teleflip.com and the teleflip service will figure the carrier out for you and forward the message. i know, it's kewl.

people in cincinnati are dicks
so if you read some of the comments on the post about teleflip, there is a dude named todd who sent $20 worth of unsolicited text messages to his ex-wife's phone using the teleflip service. it's one thing to send people junk when their messages are free (it's annoying, but at least it's free) it's another thing to send them when they cost the person money (i have a messaging plan on my phone so my first thousand sms messages are free, however, people without plans my be charged up to 25 cents for each message). so i was like "wow, that guy's a dick." then i was like "that's pretty typical of some people in cincinnati" (i live here after all) and for some strange reason, i checked the guys blogger profile and discovered that...

and they are hippocrites
so todd has links in his profile to his personal and work pages, and his blog. in the personal blog he rants and raves about spamming and scams and how the people that do them are on the same level as pedophiles. i didn't say that, TODD did. in his blog, right under the post about teleflip. you can't make this shit up. jesus, sometimes i miss living on the west coast.

posted by chris 10:06 AM


Wednesday, January 11, 2006

 
i want this job

these guys have the coolest job ever. the idea that these guys can pull this off is teh kewlest, even if it is freakin' scary how easy it was for them.

posted by chris 12:34 PM

 
the MTV-PDA-MP3-texting-24/7-3G generation

this is a strange article about a research study on technophobes that have difficulty adjusting to new technology.

this isn't "technology for technology's sake" but basic technologies like digital television. maybe i'm just completely out of touch with those people.

one thing i can embrace is the fact that i am getting old. there are things that i see from time to time that i just don't get, one of them is MTV. to me most of it's programming is all lowest common denominator stuff... reality television series taken to the extreme. i send text messages from my mobile, i listen to MP3's exclusively, but i don't have a PDA (i hate setting them up for other people) and i don't really get MTV anymore.

posted by chris 12:25 PM


Tuesday, January 10, 2006

 
RATS! no new google boxes

i was hoping google would make its own PCs, but instead they announced pack which is basically all their shit in one place with a cool updater. firefox is part of pack tho, which i thought was especially interesting.

i like goolge, because they are all about open standards. not "open... according to our standard" like some software companies, or "if everyone used our stuff, then there would be a standard" like some other companies. all their stuff is free as in free beer to the consumer and mostly browser based. that said, i am leery of all browser toolbars (google's included) ever since the yahoo toolbar shat on me in the late 90's.

posted by chris 12:13 PM


Friday, January 06, 2006

 
googleboxen

i am literally beside myself with anticipation over google's presentation at CES this year. the rumour around the internet is that google is going to make some sort of cheap PC or thin client, known as a googlebox or a googlecube, to make use of thier online services. there are a hundred thousand articles on the subject, so if this is the first place that you have heard about it, you retarded.

now, i have been a big fan of internet appliances, and i would really like for someone to make one for $200 straight up (no service fees or crap like that). so i have probably had way more interest in the subject than the normal person would, since i am at heart a big ol' hardware nerd.

while searching (google no less) for yet another tidbit on the google PC, i ran across this article on some PBS site about portable datacenters in standard sized shipping containers, and google's interest in them. (BTW, it was the first article that came up after googleing "google cubes", ph33r my l33t investigative reporting sk1llz).

the idea of a portable data center is either the dumbest idea ever conceived, or the freakin' sweetest idea in the world. trouble is i have no idea which one it is.

the dumbest idea ever conceived:
mobile data centers, like mobile methlabs or mobile WMD platforms, are a goddamn myth. anyone who has ever stepped into a real data center and used a laptop will tell you these 3 things:
  1. technology and mobility are mutually exclusive: truly portable gear is not powerful enough, reliable enough, or cheap enough to make widespread use of. a laptop that is powerful enough to play games or compile code on probably weighs 8 lbs or more and costs 2 grand or more and isn't what i would call portable. a mini-tower and a flatscreen with suitcase handles mounted on them are theoretically portable, but not the kind of thing you want as carryons on a flight or a bus trip.

  2. datacenters are a bit *sensitive* to travel. they have outrageous power and cooling demands, outrageous bandwidth demands, and outrageous staffing requirements (noc monkeys, security, etc.). you might be able to move a datacenter from NY to LA in 4 days time, but good luck getting it online in that time. you *might* get power that soon, but certainly not connectivity.

  3. mobile equipment is difficult to secure. that's why cell phones are kept in the back of the store and you get to play with non-working models, that's also why a lot of electonic gear comes in that hermetically sealed plastic packaging. portable is another word for "stealable".


mobile datacenters are freakin sweet:
i know this stuff is possible, cuz that's pretty much what the military is, a mobile business. yeah they fight wars and stuff, but they have logistical needs, and computing needs, and power and water needs, and all of that stuff has to be mobile. i don't want to go into any details lest my military intelligence bretheren find out, but suffice it to say, i have seen semi trailers turned into all sorts of kewl mobile electronic shit.

the essence of it is this: you have a trailer, outfitted with computers and junk that is able to run off of regular electricity (grunts call that commercial power) or from a generator (a.k.a diesel power). you drive the system to a good place to set up (called a site) and get to work. then if necessary (either at the request of the brass or as dictated by the approach of the badguys) you tear down in a hurry and move to a new site (this is known as jumping). your new site my have commercial power, or you may be running off diesel until commercial power can be appropriated, or you may have to jump to a more suitable site.

that all sounds a lot sexier than it really is. it's pretty much dudes moving heavy shit on and off of trucks and cursing profusely. in google's case, the trucks would be yellow and they would say things like "OMFGWTF! this the teh ghei!".

so getting back to my original point: google boxen uber alles!

posted by chris 2:03 PM


Tuesday, January 03, 2006

 
HP to planet earth: our scanners suck

i got in a fight with a scanner at work and it makes me yearn for the dark days when hardware was real hardware.

these days everything is software based. everything is USB cabled and has a 600mb software suite to make it go. not just scanners, but PDAs, printers, modems, and even some cameras and music players. i hate that. why can't you make a piece of hardware based on an open standard? why does it all have to be powered by (poorly written and untested) software?

the truth is that if you buy a peripheral for less than $500 it's not going to survive your next OS upgrade. "why is that?" you may ask. it's just plain cheaper for companies like HP to ship cheaply made plastic boxes and have all the heavy lifting done by software. the software shifts the demand for processing and ram in the peripheral and puts it squarely on your PC. and since the software was written by lower primates on their breaks between poo-fights, it won't work for shit once you install it. that's american ingenuity at it's finest.

all is not lost. there are some who choose to go another way for some of their devices. linksys makes routers and access points that you can configure via a web browser and rebyte makes a storage system controller that you can plug into an IDE port.

so big up to companies that make real hardware and firmware. there are some of us out here that don't mind flipping dip switches or jumpers or configuring stuff with a browser.

posted by chris 5:44 PM

 
blog rotation, 2006
so the time has come again for me to dump 2005's blog from blogger and start new in 2006. here's to the new year, and this year's resolutions.

every year i tell myself i am going to get into better shape and start kickboxing again. this year i made the same resolution and backed it up with a gym membership. i have been a few times already in december. i feel good about it this time, i think i might actually make the lifestyle change.

another resolution was to cut out caffeine. caffeine is what keeps me hooked on soda, and soda is one of the reasons that i am a fat bastard. my new gig with the university keeps me on my feet a lot more than sitting on my ass on a helpdesk did. that sounds like a real step in the right direction, but unfortunately, my liter+ a day soda habit means that i won't be losing much weight, or making many gains in cardiovascular health.

so those are my resolutions this year, they're the same ones i make every year. i usually fail miserably at the gym resolution, and i have managed to go as many as 10 months without falling off the caffeine wagon in years past.

posted by chris 3:02 PM


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