[x]Blackmoor Vituperative

Saturday, 2010-05-08

FCC hands Hollywood the keys to your PC, home theater and future

Filed under: Intellectual Property,Movies — bblackmoor @ 20:09

Cory Doctorow, one of a handful of People Who Have A Clue, reports on the recent abomination handed to the USA by the FCC on behalf of the media robber barons and the Digital Rights Mafia:

The FCC has given Hollywood permission to activate the “Selective Output Control” technologies in your set-top box. These are hidden flags that allow the MPAA to deactivate parts of your home theater depending on what you’re watching. And it sucks. As Dan Gillmor notes, “Fans of old TV science fiction will remember the Outer Limits. Given Hollywood’s victory today at the FCC — they’ll be able to reach over the lines and disable functions on your TV — the intro to the show takes on modern relevance.”

The FCC says that they’re doing this because they believe that if they do so, the MPAA will start releasing first-run movies (the ones that are still in theaters) for TV. They say that Hollywood won’t make these movies available unless they get Selectable Output Control because SOC will stop piracy.

This is ridiculous.

First, it’s ridiculous because this can’t ever stop piracy or get first-run movies into your living room. Even with SOC, the studios are not going to release high-value movies that are still in theatrical distribution for viewing in your house, where you could set up a tripod and high-quality camera (along with ideal lighting) in order to make your own camcordered copy and put it online.

Now, the FCC could have solved this by saying that only movies that are in their first theatrical release run can have SOC turned on, but they didn’t, because they knew that the MPAA was lying through its teeth about using SOC to enable the “new business model” of showing you first run movies in your home.

Second, it’s ridiculous because it’s possible in the first place. The FCC (and the candy-ass consumer electronics companies) allowed for Selectable Output Control to be inserted into your devices even though they claimed all along that they would never allow it to be used. Read your Chekhov, people: the gun on the mantelpiece in act one will go off in act three. Allowing the MPAA to get SOC in your set-top box but “never planning on using it” is like buying a freezer full of chocolate ice-cream and never planning on eating it.

If the CE companies and FCC wanted to prevent SOC from being used, the best way of doing that would be to not include it in devices in the first place.

Finally, this is ridiculous because of what it’s really for: ensuring that Hollywood gets control of all the features in your home’s devices and computers. Here’s how that works:

  • SOC only works with DRM-crippled outputs, like those locked with HDCP, DTLA, etc.
  • Now that some content will have SOC on it, every manufacturer will race to add SOC (and hence HDCP and DTLA and so on) to their devices
  • The committees that run DTLA and HDCP and other DRM cartels are absolutely in thrall to the MPAA. When I’ve attended DRM committee meetings, I’ve watched the MPAA reps tie the consumer electronics guys in knots, playing them off against each other, bullying them, dirty tricking them
  • Putting DTLA or HDCP in your devices isn’t simple: in order to do so, you have to comply with an enormous about of restrictions that the MPAA dreams up and crams into the license agreements (much of these agreements are secret, and not available for regulators or consumer to inspect)
  • Ergo: now that the FCC has allowed SOC in devices, all devices will have SOC, and since SOC comes with DRM, and since the studios control DRM licensing, and since they shove all kinds of restrictive crap into DRM licenses, the FCC has essentially just guaranteed that the future of all media will be controlled by Hollywood, to our eternal torment and detriment

Now here’s the really scary part:

I’m not just talking about TVs and set-top boxes here. This stuff is targetted squarely at operating system vendors. Both Apple and Microsoft have enthusiastically signed onto adding DRM to their OSes in order to comply with HDCP, DTLA and other “device-based” DRMs.

In the PC world, compliance with DTLA and HDCP rules isn’t just about what features the OS can have, but what features the video cards, hard-drives, network interfaces, motherboards and drivers can have.

So the FCC has just handed the keys to specify drivers and components for general purpose PCs to the thrashing dinosaurs of Hollywood. Because even your cheapo netbook or homebuilt Linux box relies on components that are manufactured for the gigantic mainstream PC and laptop markets.

Now that the mainstream component market has a new de-facto regulator at the MPAA, watch for all of those components to come with restrictions built in.

The Obama White House has done some good, but its administrative branch is stuffed with Hollywood lawyers who are Democratic Party stalwarts. The FCC has some great tech people on this, but the commissioners’ staffers who wrote this memo are either the most credulous yokels that ever met an MPAA lobbyist, or they’re in the pockets of Big Content.

(from FCC hands Hollywood the keys to your PC, home theater and future, Boing Boing)

Friday, 2010-05-07

Greed and stupidity aren’t new

Filed under: Entertainment,Intellectual Property,Technology — bblackmoor @ 14:35

Not too long ago, I made the observation that anarchists and mad bombers aren’t new, that spies and subversives are not new. We have laws that deal with these offenses, and we should be using them, rather than looking for opportunities to deprive people (even criminals and terrorists, gasp, shudder!) of their civil rights, or even of their citizenship.

Well, greed and stupidity are not new, either, and there is no finer example of greed and stupidity than the endless battle of the media robber barons (the MPAA, the RIAA, and the rest of the Digital Rights Mafia) against the people who create and enjoy media (you and me, for example). With that long-winded preface out of the way, here are five examples of “file sharing” hysteria which predate the Internet.

UFO abduction lamps

Filed under: General — bblackmoor @ 10:51

UFO abduction lamps

UFO abduction lamps from Make: Onlne.

Thursday, 2010-05-06

Memories and file formats

Filed under: Family,Gaming — bblackmoor @ 20:24

Blackmoor wedding DVDToday is my sweetie’s birthday. As a present, I converted the videotape of our wedding to DVD (something I have been meaning to do for, oh, five or six years, at least). Since it is Mother’s Day this Sunday, I made copies for our mothers, as well.

Okay, so once that was done, I had to make the graphics for the DVD and for the case liner. I have to: I am like that. I browsed the typical “wedding” images, looking for suitable images, but I had some trouble. Our wedding was pretty traditional, but the color scheme wasn’t. The bride’s wedding dress was teal and black, and the bouquet was dark red roses with babies’ breath, wrapped in black crinkly fabric. The wedding cake was black chocolate with teal cream cheese icing between the layers; the icing outside was black with white piping.

Suffice to say, the typical white flowery wedding images did not really fit.

Then I saw an image of a black rose, and I had an inspiration. My sweetheart and I were huge fans of a game called Vampire, which was published the year we were married (1991). It is the only role-playing game my sweetie has ever really liked. The game is out of print, and we haven’t played it in well over a decade, but it was a great source of joy for us in the early years of our marriage, and it still holds a special place in our hearts.

Happy birthday, sweetheart. And thanks, Mark Rein-Hagen and the rest of the White Wolf folks, wherever you are.

P.S. I just realized that I should have called this blog entry “Blood and roses”. Ah, well. It’s far from the worst mistake I have made recently.

Dr. Zero’s not at all insane plan

Filed under: Entertainment,Technology — bblackmoor @ 16:40

HP and Slashgear are having a contest for some computer equipment. So I figured, what the heck, and created this video for the contest.

It irks me that the sound sync is off. It’s 2010, and on a brand new laptop, I can’t even record a silly little video and have the sound in sync?

Sushi and subtitles

Filed under: Food,Movies — bblackmoor @ 14:35

I can’t watch a subtitled movie while eating sushi. I can’t eat sushi without looking at it.

I am (or was) watching The Ghost Of Mae Nak, a Thai horror movie. I haven’t seen many Thai movies. This one is not terrible, but I really do not like the sound of the Thai language. To my American ears, they sound like Martians. “Ack ack ack ack ack. Ack ack ack. Ack ack!” It does not help that the two main characters are named Nak and Mak. I am not kidding.

Wednesday, 2010-05-05

A flower is a lonesome thing

Filed under: Gaming — bblackmoor @ 21:24

JazzWell over a decade ago, I started working on a rules-light game system. It was called Heroin (it seemed a good idea at the time). After a few years and a number of revisions, I changed the name to Jazz, and decided to break up the project into “modules”: a small core set of rules, and even smaller sets of optional rules for supporting specific settings and genres.

The project has changed a lot over the years. The current version bears no resemblance at all to Heroin, that original idea. I am still not entirely happy with how character generation is described, but overall, I am pretty happy with the basic rules.

What I am not happy with is the lack of progress I have made on the genre modules. Which brings me to my point. Recently, I set up a wiki, with the hope that this would make it easier for me and others to collaborate on the game system. I have entered all of my current work on Jazz, and it’s ready for the rest of the game system to finally be fleshed out.

I would like help with Jazz. If you have an idea for making the core rules clearer, great. If you have ideas for one or more of the genre modules, even better. If you have an idea that I have not even considered, well that would be just fantastic.

Jazz is licensed under a Creative Commons license, and you will receive full credit for what you contribute.

Drop me an email if this interests you, and I will set up an account for you on the Jazz wiki.

You’ll see luck in my eye

Filed under: Music,Work — bblackmoor @ 15:57

I have a lead on a 2-year contract gig at $__ dollars per hour (a bit more than I typically get). Yes, it’s another contract gig, which I desperately want to get away from, but it’s slated to run for at least two years, so that’s not too shabby.

I can feel a mountain rain
That’ll wash away
And shine again
Empty my pockets
That were weighing me down
Sift through my soul
To see what’s lost and found
Gonna walk away from trouble
With my head held high
Then look closely you’ll see
Luck in my eyes

I can hear a howling wind
That sweeps away
The pain that’s been
Take all my sorrow
And i’ll cast away
The worries tomorrow
That i had today
Gonna walk away from trouble
With my head held high
Then look closely you’ll see
Luck in my eyes

K.D. Lang is awesome.

Perfect Pets

Filed under: The Internet,Work — bblackmoor @ 11:01

Perfect PetsI am wrapping up my current web project, Perfect Pets. It’s not the most complex or difficult project I have ever worked on, but I think it may be the prettiest. I like this kind of project: Perfect Pets is a small, family owned store, and in my own modest way, I am helping them stay relevant in an era of heartless corporate monoliths and brutal international competition. I wish I could work on projects like this one more often.

Tuesday, 2010-05-04

Men plan; the gods laugh (explained)

Filed under: Work — bblackmoor @ 11:00

Apparently I was not clear in my previous blog post, so I am explaining it. It’s a pretty funny story. Or perhaps an educational one. Yes: a cautionary tale! Do not let this happen to you! 🙂

The background package to which I referred was supposed to be given to Henrico County for the Animal Protection job. The programming job offer was from a different company, to do web development. That job offer was rescinded because I told them I had a very small chance at the Animal Protection job. However, at the time I told them that, I had already been excluded from the Animal Protection job, because I had turned in the background paperwork late (although I did not know it yet).

They (the company that had offered and then rescinded the programming job) countered with a “temp” job offer, which I took as an insult (to put it mildly). I asked for my typical rate for that kind of work, knowing that they would not be willing to pay it. So they declined that, as well, as I knew they would.

The long story short is that I was offered a great job at a great company, and because of at least three stupid mistakes I made, I lost out on that.

I have since tried to contact them, to see if the situation can be salvaged. They haven’t responded, and I do not expect them to. They are probably sorry they ever heard of me, and I do not blame them.

But life goes on. The horizon is broad, the future beckons, and all things are possible!

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