DRM sucks. Film at 11.

(GeekStuff)

2011-08-06 13:36
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Apple’s got a new gimmick. They will now “rent” videos as well as “selling” them. If you “rent” a video, you can watch it for about 24 hours. If you “buy” it, you can watch it… for some unspecified period of time until it stops working.

Now, they don’t advertise that time limit, and it may not be intentional, but it’s there, because the video files are protected by “DRM”. DRM is a fancy way of saying “you can’t use this unless you can prove, at the time of use, to our satisfaction, that you have purchased a suitable license.”

Here’s the thing. What happens if Steve Jobs dies, and Apple goes back to being “beleaguered Apple” and then goes under? Your DRM content may well be dead. There’s no one left to authorize it, and no one with any financial incentive to make it work instead of trying to sell you all the same stuff again.

One way or another, that content will cease to work. So you’re not buying it; you’re renting it for an undisclosed term.

If they sold videos without this kind of crap on them, then no matter who died, or who went into or out of business, you could convert the videos to new formats and keep watching them. It would be more as though you owned them, and less as though you were renting them.

The problem with DRM is this: Only legitimate customers are hurt by it. If you don’t want to pay extra for the privilege of an ironclad guarantee that you will one day lose the use of whatever music or movies or whatever you’re buying… You can get the stuff, illegally, for free. And the free copies won’t have DRM on them. And they won’t break on future hardware.

The essential value proposition of DRM is “give us money instead of no money for an unambiguously inferior product.” And that’s a hard sell, really.

People who have ignored DRM and just sold stuff have done really well at it. When I buy music from places that don’t use DRM on it, I get high quality music that I know I will be able to keep listening to on future hardware. So I buy it happily. The warez versions are no longer superior products; they might be as-good, but I’d rather pay artists than not, given the choice.

But I’m not willing to pay more for a product that just plain sucks. And DRM just plain sucks.

… Which is to say, no, I don’t have the complete My Little Pony series in HD video. Because it’s only available with DRM on it. Eventually it’ll come out on media, at which point I can buy the media and rip the video to a usable, safe, format.

Peter Seebach

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Hasbro is sitting on a gold mine.

(Personal)

2011-08-05 12:13
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The problem is, when I say “sitting on a gold mine”, I mean “complaining about this chair being uncomfortable”.

Here is a randomly grabbed link for statues/models that are anime-themed. Note how the statues run from $70 to $200+.

Here is the Toys ‘R Us selection of My Little Pony toys.

Obviously, there need to be some cheap toys for the little kid market to buy the toys. But… Hasbro has, perhaps inadvertantly, attracted a large market of people to whom $70 for a high-quality resin figure of a beloved character is cheap. And what they’re producing is shoddy toys with outright errors. There’s a Rainbow Dash toy that has some unrelated Cutie Mark on it instead of the rainbow lightning bolt. I have yet to see one which gets the hair color right (she’s got a complete rainbow in both tail and mane in the show, the dolls tend to do red-green hair and blue/purple tail).

The thing that’s frustrating here is the complete failure of the Hasbro execs to realize that they could be making more money by selling better toys. This shouldn’t be a hard concept. I dunno, were kids’ toys always this crappy? I didn’t get many when I was a kid, and the ponies of back then were, to put it mildly, not aimed at a broad market.

If Hasbro were smart, they would hire Lauren Faust to do “whatever the heck you want”, give her a budget, and make toys for it. Good toys. They’d make a fortune.

Peter Seebach

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Someone stole my spouse's porn.

(Personal)

2011-08-02 16:09
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Okay, that’s not quite right. I mean, for one thing, when Jesse wrote it, it wasn’t porn, it was character development. Also, it’s not obvious that “stolen” applies correctly to a thing you still have after someone takes it.

If you think gay sex is gross, two things:
1. You’re right. (But that’s true of other sex, too.)
2. You may want to skip this post.

Actually, let’s be fair. The gross part isn’t the explicit sex. No, it’s that it was stolen for, get this, Harry Potter/Draco Malfoy slash. No, really. I am not making this up.

Okay, let’s… well. For starters, let’s have a look at the original material, the sex scene in Chapter 17 of The God Eaters.

Let’s grab a quote from that. WARNING: This is the gay porn part I was warning you about.

The string of endearments was too much, and when Kieran lapsed into Iavaian, Ash could no longer bear it. This time was far more intense; started deeper, peaked higher, blew every nerve like a blasting charge, destroyed him utterly. And just as the white fire began to recede, Kieran let go restraint and thumped hard into him with a groaning cry, which brought Ash, impossibly, to a second peak. Mind ended. Self was gone.

Of course, you’d have a problem if you wanted to make this into a Harry Potter fanfic, because they don’t have “Iavaian”. Well, let’s see. I bet you could think of something.

Harry breathed shudderingly onto Draco’s mouth as he allowed himself to go a little faster, push a little harder. “My Draco,” he groaned out, the only English words he said before slipping into Parseltongue and uttering stings of endearments against the blond’s lips. The Boy Who Lived was beyond reasoning as the blond’s muscles contracted around him, and he let his hips buck forward with slightly more force, striking deeper inside his boyfriend’s body.

When Harry lapsed into Parseltongue, and he felt the Gryffindor’s manhood drive into him, Draco could no longer bear it. The pleasure that rolled through him was as exquisite as Crucio was excruciating, and this time his orgasm was more deeply intense than when they had engaged in oral sex. It blasted through him like Expelliarmus, destroying him utterly.

Just as the white fire began to recede for the Slytherin, Harry let go of the final bit of restraint he had been holding onto and thumped hard into Draco a few more times with a groaning cry, which brought the blond, impossibly, to a second peak when Harry came inside of him.

Now, to fully appreciate (is that even the right word?) this train wreck, you have to understand that this is not the only part that’s clearly lifted. It’s just one of the ones where the lift-and-edit is most obvious. The whole thing is full of that. I have prepared a detailed, but explicit, side-by-side comparison of these, but do not click on that link if you don’t want to read explicit details.

And yes, the whole thing is somehow worse. I’m not sure whether that’s just the choice of words or the fact that it’s two underage boys, or maybe that it’s two underage boys acting completely out of character. What really gets me is: Most of the changes are nothing to do with the change in characters. They’re just shitty writing. Why bother copying and pasting a sex scene if you’re going to make it worse?

We screenshotted this for lulz, but I assume they’ll eventually fix it. In the mean time, for your reading agony, I present: Plagiarized Sex Scenes in Potter Fandom. (EDIT: This story is also posted on y-gallery, but you can only see that one if you have an account. The poster appears to be an admin at the site, which has a very clear no-plagiarism policy. We anticipate lulz.)

EDIT: No lulz. Admin wrote that story a couple of years before becoming an admin, and since made a very nice public acknowledgement and apology. Everyone’s so mature and reasonable these days.

Peter Seebach

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C. S. Lewis wrote about Bronies, too.

(Personal)

2011-08-02 12:17
Comment [1]

Bronies, you say? That would be adult fans of the recent reboot of Hasbro’s My Little Pony toy advertisements, which are cleverly disguised as a TV show.

There is various hilarity. The series creative lead, Lauren Faust, has defended the fans against people calling them names.

There’s more humor to this than can easily be summarized in a blog post, but I would like to point out that this is not a new phenomenon, exactly. In fact, C. S. Lewis wrote about it:

Critics who treat adult as a term of approval, instead of as a merely descriptive term, cannot be adult themselves. To be concerned about being grown up, to admire the grown up because it is grown up, to blush at the suspicion of being childish; these things are the marks of childhood and adolescence. And in childhood and adolescence they are, in moderation, healthy symptoms. Young things ought to want to grow. But to carry on into middle life or even into early manhood this concern about being adult is a mark of really arrested development. When I was ten, I read fairy tales in secret and would have been ashamed if I had been found doing so. Now that I am fifty I read them openly. When I became a man I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up.

(From On Three Ways of Writing for Children, 1952.)

For what it’s worth, I have five My Little Pony dolls decorating my monitor. And yes, I see something wrong with that: Every toy store I’ve tried is completely out of Rainbow Dash.

Peter Seebach

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New result: Futons + Box springs = No.

(Personal)

2011-07-29 15:27
Comment

So, a while back, I had this idea. I had a pretty beat up old futon, and thought maybe I could get a bit more life out of it if I added a bit more springiness to it. Box springs! Those would help, right?

Wrong.

The futon does not distribute weight in the same way that a mattress would. This means that the box springs get squished and deformed. But wait! They do not get squished and deformed in some nicely consistent way, so after a year or two, you have a sort of bathtub-shaped device full of poky bits of metal, which cause the futon to be sort of bathtub-shaped but with little poky areas.

This results in sleeping poorly.

I think it says a lot about my usual level of awareness that it took me six months to a year to figure out that I was not sleeping well.

Peter Seebach

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Shopping!

(Personal)

2011-07-21 20:05
Comment

Went shopping today. Got:

guitar picks
guitar strings
practice drum pad
comic books
miniatures
paint
cyanoacrylate
brushes
roleplaying game
modelling putty
trebuchet

I love the Hub Hobby Center. Actually, some of that stuff came from a music store, or from the comics-and-games store. But there’s really only one place to go when you need model trains, eighteen varieties of cyanoacrylate, and a trebuchet.

Which reminds me of my idea for a food product pitch:

Why settle for snacks that make your fingers sticky when you could have snacks that bond skin instantly? Cyanoacrylate puffs are the perfect snack for long road trips!

Peter Seebach

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CAR CAR CAR CAR CAR CAR CAR CAR CAR

(Personal)

2011-07-20 20:01
Comment [2]

So, what with one thing and another, we decided it was about time to consider replacing the 1992 Subaru station wagon that’s been in the family for the last 19 years. (It was originally my dad’s. I think it has belonged to both my mom and stepmom at one time and another, and currently I think it’s legally mine but I honestly don’t even remember.)

I really liked my Honda Insight, but the new model does not appeal to me as much. What looked particularly nice to me was the 2010-and-later Toyota Prius. Best mileage of pretty much anything out there these days, and pretty mature technology. So we went shopping about a month ago, maybe a little over. What we found out was that a used 2010 Prius would cost us more than a new 2011 Prius. Why? Well, remember that “about a month ago”? It turns out that people will pay a premium to get a car today rather than in a month and change.

Today we went and picked up our shiny new Barcelona Red Prius. It really is gorgeous; I like the red. It’s not quite fire-engine red, but it’s definitely a solid red, not some half-way color sort of over in a redwards direction. Jesse pushed for the red car; I’d been thinking of maybe silver or blue, but Jesse vetoed all light colors and preferred red to blue. A point that, now that I have the car, I will concede.

Modern cars scare me. The locks and such are all RFID based. If you’re holding the key, you can open the door. If you’re not, you can’t. “Holding” seems to include pockets at around door height. Similarly, the car will start if the key’s in the car. Not in “the ignition”, as there isn’t such a thing, just inside the car, roughly. Then you press the power switch and it turns on.

Everything’s like that. The gearshift lever is really just a fancy interface on top of what are effectively buttons labeled N/D/R/B. (B for Braking, where you tell the car to suck extra power from the wheels to slow down, suitable for freeway exit ramps.)

I don’t know whether there will be other aspects of this to particularly like or dislike, but so far, it’s pretty nice. Stereo’s better than any I’ve previously had, and has an ipod adapter kit. Yes, the ipod adapter kit is horrendously overpriced. On the other hand, compared to the expected cost of messing with the ipod while driving over the lifetime of the car, it’s cheap.

Still trying to decide what to do for interesting decorations to make the car recognizable. I sorta wanted to put a set of plane silhouettes on the left front fender, or something similar. Maybe gas pumps. One of my friends suggested we get a Ron Paul bumper sticker, on the grounds that this would be the only Prius, anywhere, to have one.

Anyway, time to go get groceries. Mostly because I need an excuse to go somewhere in that shiny shiny car.

p.s.: I hate “new car smell”.

Peter Seebach

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Power is hard to get

(Personal, GeekStuff)

2011-07-18 12:59
Comment [1]

Someone on Usenet made a partial list of reasons that various power technologies were unsuitable. I have cleaned it up.

Nukes make waste;
Hydro kills frogs;
Geo’s expensive;
And solar hates fogs.
Wind’s unreliable;
Fire’s bad;
Coal smells awful;
Might as well use only pre-agricultural technology.

I’d apologize to Dorothy Parker, but why?

Peter Seebach

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This may be the best of all possible worlds, but not the most awesome.

(Personal)

2011-07-16 21:37
Comment

Our world: A Victorian lady would rarely be seen outdoors without her parasol.

A more awesome world: A Victorian lady would rarely be seen outdoors without her parasail.

Oddly, no matter how many great ideas I have for improving our world’s history, no one ever gives me a time machine.

Peter Seebach

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What an exciteable boy

(Personal)

2011-07-15 18:55
Comment [3]

I’m pretty exciteable. I will drop everything because I suddenly realized I could make a hobbit hole in Minecraft. Gone are my rigidly square stone buildings; now I have a wooden doorway in the side of a dirt hill, with a little glowy window a few squares over. It looks lovely. And because this is new to me I got all excited about it. I get excited about everything, though. When my kitty is cute, I’m excited about that. When food is delicious (which it very often is), I’m excited about that. I had to run around telling people when I finally comprehended the relationship between RGB and CMY color spaces.

Here’s a thing that may not be obvious:

Under the hood, pretty much everyone is that excited and enthusiastic about the things they love. They’re just shy about it. They’ve learned not to “overreact” and be all child-like and over-excited.

They’ve learned wrong. Try it some time. Be open about your enthusiasm. Pay attention to how food tastes, watch your pets as though you aren’t used to them. This stuff is awesome.

Peter Seebach

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