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Comment: Re:Why? (Score 0) 304

I doubt Netflix (or whomever) would be willing to lock out all the millions of Linux (read: Android) and Apple users, many who use a smartphone or tablet far more often than a dorky desktop, so its unlikely that Microsoft would get this desired exclusivity. And it's not as if Netflix wouldn't offer those wares on Windows if Microsoft hadn't embedded the DRM. I really don't see other developers or media companies as the reason behind this move.

But it occurred to me after I posted that more likely reason is because Microsoft is betting hard on moving towards a service-based (read: subscription) model for its software. They need a foolproof way of locking people into its pay-to-use ecosystem, one that cannot be easily bypassed with cracks or fake serial numbers. Its does them no good if users can bypass the software that shuts down Windows if you are behind on your monthly payments. Furthermore, they want to make it as difficult as possible for people to put another OS on the hardware so you can avoid the subscriptions entirely.

Protecting their potential subscription income, more than any other thing, explains to me why MS is suddenly so interested in hardware-based DRM.

Comment: Re:Why? (Score 1) 304

More to the point, why is Microsoft doing this? What do they gain by adding this to their software? I can understand when a media-producer forces DRM down the pipe, but are the advantages of Microsoft adding DRM into its OS really more than its disadvantages, especially when it is already slowly but inevitably losing marketshare.

Certainly there is no hue and cry from their customers demanding this new "feature". I doubt Microsoft themselves really need it; while they make some attempt to crack down when their software gets pirated, they are well aware that if they cut off the pirates entirely then those potential customers might just start looking to other software ecosystems. Movie and music publishers will love this, of course, but are they really so important that Microsoft can't just ignore them? Especially since this is something new to the OS, not a feature being added to make Windows10 compatible with existing media. I can imagine Linux, Android and Apple positioning themselves as the "freedom" alternative by not including this DRM; certainly those markets are large enough that neither the MPAA or RIAA will prevent their wares from running on all those computers, tablets and cellphones; is Microsoft really willing to let that happen? Or is it software developers that are crying out for a centralized DRM store? Is that whose needs Microsoft is trying to satisfy?

Windows still has a majority stake in desktops, but it is losing overall market share when you add in tablets and phones. People are becoming more and more comfortable using other operating systems and desktops are becoming less and less relevant. You would think Microsoft would be bending over backwards trying to make a product that the users would want to use but they seem hellbent on pushing forward a vision that meets the needs of nobody but themselves.

Comment: Re:Disgusting. (Score 1) 685

by Somebody Is Using My (#49535999) Attached to: Except For Millennials, Most Americans Dislike Snowden

I can remember when my generation was against The Man too.

No, you got it wrong. Well, you are correct in that - when we were younger - it was our generation who fought against "The Man". We did this by throwing our support behind the New Guy who would rid of us of "The Man". And thanks to us, eventually, the New Guy ousted "The Man" and all his old-fashioned notions, enacted policies we supported, and we were happy. But then the New New Guy started making noise, winning the support of the next generation, and foolishly calling our New Guy "The Man". But that's just ridiculous. Our New Guy isn't "The Man"; that's the people our parents supported!

So you see, it is not that our generation has become any less less open-minded and rebellious; after all, we got rid of "The Man". It's just that we already put the proper people into power and can recognize these New New Guys as the loud-mouth troublemakers trying to lead our children astray for what they are.

What Dad, you thought "The Man" was a New Guy too and you were fighting for truth 'n' justice and the American Way? Now that's just silly; obviously you are just being conservative and bitter. ;-)

Comment: Necessary step (Score 0, Offtopic) 336

by Somebody Is Using My (#49518661) Attached to: Update: No Personhood for Chimps Yet

I think this is a necessary step and better done today than tomorrow.

Not that I think the chimps themselves right now are deserving of the same rights of personhood as human beings. But as our science advances, the question of what a "person" is will extend past our common genetics: we may soon have gengineered humans, uplifted animals, cybernetic entities (AI) and, unlikely as it may be, perhaps even non-terrestrial intelligences. After all, its taken centuries for many HUMANS to be recognized as fully protected legal entities by other humans. It is better if we have legal precedents set ahead of time so that the rights of these non-human intelligences are protected from the start.

Comment: Re:Lets say yes so they put an FM radio on my phon (Score 1) 350

Which MP3 player do you have, if you don't mind me asking?

It's an old 1GB iRiver iFP-895 MP3 player. Its ancient and battered, and I don't really use it except as an "emergency radio" these days, but at the time I quite liked it. Come to think of it, I think it was somebody on Slashdot that originally recommended the device in the first place ;-)

As I mentioned, my phone actually has FM radio enabled but I have no confidence that it will have the necessary battery life should I actually NEED to listen to the radio. But AA batteries last forever and replacements can be found anywhere. Nowadays, the the tiny storage space (1GB) is too limiting, so my phone serves as my primary music player but the iRiver lurks at the bottom of my daybag, with a spare AA battery... just in case.

Comment: Re:Lets say yes so they put an FM radio on my phon (Score 5, Interesting) 350

While I don't think the lack is a safety risk - and I do think the headline is just the usual sort of attention-whoring we expect from the media these days - having an FM radio is very useful if there is a regional emergency. And since most people are usually carrying a phone anyway, locking out that ability does them a disservice.

Personal anecdote time: back in the big blackout of 2003 that shutdown the Northeastern US, nobody's phones were working because the networks were jammed by millions of people suddenly calling each other, everyone trying to figure out what was going on. Nobody knew anything except that the lights were off and there was an increasingly nervous tension; as this was only a couple years after 9/11, the word "terrorists" was on everybody's lips. I happened to have an MP3 player with FM functionality on me, and that made me very popular, because I could relay news to everyone around me. The temper changed from twitchy nervousness to reassured cooperation, from a fearful me-first attitude to one where informed people worked together to get through the disaster.

I don't think having that radio made me any safer, but it made me - and those around me - happier because we were not cut off from the rest of the world. I still carry that little MP3 player with me, solely for its radio functions even though my phone is one of the rare devices that does have FM functionality (the phone needs a charge every day, but the mp3 player, which is only the size of a thumb-drive, runs seemingly forever on an easily-replaced AA battery).

Comment: Re:Humans are the gross, worst spieces ever (Score 4, Insightful) 93

[Humans are] the worst disgusting and gross, leave their trash everywhere. They think all history was made in order for their own creation. They pollute everywhere they figure out how to get to.

Do not mistake the ineffectiveness of other animals to be "care" for their environment. A beaver will happily defoliate acres of land. Cats can depopulate entire species of birds, given the chance. Rabbits will breed far beyond the capacity of their environment to support their numbers. All of them will "pollute" as readily as man, leaving their waste wherever it may drop and not taking particular care to "clean up" after themselves when they are done using a burrow or nest. Certainly, they show no evidence of caring about other species; other animals are prey to be fed upon, or predator to be fled from, or other to be ignored but never a concern beyond that.

Humans aren't perfect, to be sure, but our problems are largely due to own success. Though we would believe ourselves somehow superior to the "lesser animals" with which we share the world, we are still moved by the same base impulses of our distant cousins. However, our cleverness with tools and our extreme adaptability means that we are more resistant to environmental repercussions with which the system uses to self-correct the actions of its more boisterous inhabitants. A wolf-pack that eats all the deer in its territory is likely to starve next winter, but Men will just move to a new territory or import food from its neighbors, and thus the genes of the "over-eaters" are preserved rather than culled. Alas, now that our territory encompasses the entire world it may require a worldwide disaster to rehabilitate Man.

But then again, maybe not. Because we are learning - however slowly it may seem - that not only are our resources not unlimited, but also that the Earth is a vast and interlocked system which we share with all the other species on the planet. This very concept of environmentalism is fairly new - a few hundred years at most and truly popular only for the last two or three generations - and prior to this Men took little concern to their depredations because they always thought there would be an endless supply so long as they moved to the next horizon. Now, we are reconsidering our actions - acting against the very instructions of our genetic make-up - working to preserve what we have. While it is not entirely without self-interest, nor is it entirely selfish; we preserve other species for no other reason than a belief that they have as much a right to exist on this planet as we do. That is more than any other species on Earth has done.

Our impact on this planet has been devastating, matched perhaps only by the impact of micro-organisms or the insect kingdom. But these mistakes are only because we follow our genetic predisposition to breed to capacity and do not believe for a moment that any other species on this planet would do any different. Certainly we should use our intellects to curb our innate predilections but neither should we entirely condemn ourselves.

Comment: Here's how to disable "Heartbeat feedback" (Score 1) 156

by Somebody Is Using My (#49382487) Attached to: Firefox 37 Released

1. Open about:config in the browser

2. Change browser.selfsupport.url to “”

3. Go to and tell Mozilla to stop wasting our time with bullshit like the "heartbeat feedback" and gratuitous GUI changes and focus on more important things like fixing the damn bugs.

Comment: Re:It makes sense (Score 2) 193

Even better, the policy is offensive to the (supposedly) egalitarian notions of the country, as it suggests that only a special few can buy the product. With any other product, you can just walk in the store, lay down your money and walk out with your new toy. But with the Apple Watch, only a few (admittedly self-selected) people get that privilege. Suddenly there is a division of the "haves" and "have-nots" in the Apple customer base, and (even though anyone can become a "have" by making a reservation), this split unconsciously strikes people as unfair. This gets them talking about the policy and keeps the product in the news and in people's minds. It is a manufactured controversy designed to raise the awareness of the product. Even more, it makes the *purchase* of the product for those who do get a reservation all the more memorable, even though the actual product is itself unexceptional.

Its is brilliant marketing for a product that would otherwise be unable to compete on its own merits.

Comment: Re:Sim City (Score 2) 226

by Somebody Is Using My (#49369789) Attached to: Chinese Scientists Plan Solar Power Station In Space

Which makes it a nifty dual-purpose device; it provides power to your cities during peace, and fries your enemies during wartime. It's win-win!

Get enough of 'em up there, and you can start using the satellites as solar shades too, blocking sunlight - in a very Burnsian fashion - from whomever does not pay.

Too bad the inefficiencies of microwave transmission make the whole thing a pipe-dream. Might work when we have a space-elevator that can double as an extra-long extension cord but I'm not holding my breath.

Comment: Re:Universal wants me to use YouTube more (Score 1) 117

Spotify etc are at best like the radio of old.

Spotify etc. are /better/ than the radio of old. With Spotify, the publishers can get paid - even if a miniscule amount - everytime anyone listens to a song. With Spotify etc., a truckload of accurate information is gathered about what songs are popular (most listened to) and which songs are not, allowing them to better gauge what sorts of new music would bring in the big bucks. With Spotify etc., they get all sorts of information about who their listeners are; their age, income, likes, dislikes, and more.

Radio offered none of this. The publishers put songs on the air and hoped they were hits, never really sure what "clicked" with the listeners and what didn't, who the listeners really were, and they got paid a fixed amount regardless of whether only 1 person was listening or 10,000 (and more often than not, paid for the privilege).

Plus it's generally easier to record songs off the radio than it is off Spotify (not that the latter is that difficult either, but with radio it's even easier).

So why does the music industry hate streaming music so much when radio is in every way an inferior distribution / advertising method?

Comment: Re:Valve isn't the savior people thought they were (Score 2) 215

If Microsoft can do that and provide some nice social tools to boot, then I will give them my money. Or GOG, or Humble, or anybody else. (thought the irony is with GOG/Humble is that they are usually Steam activated).

Minor correction:

HumbleBundle games often offer titles through the Steam platform, which requires you to activate their titles online first, which can be a surprise for someone who buys a game through HumbleBundle not expecting that sort of inquisition. never does; their chief claim to fame is that that their titles are DRM-free and are not tied down to any sort of online activation. Yes, offering products that are DRM-free as well as providing access to otherwise abandoned titles.

Erm, their two claims to fame are no DRM, great old games... and low prices. Three! Their three claims to fame are no DRM, great games, low prices... and getting those older titles to work on newer hardware. Four, no... amongst their chief claims are, erm, such elements as no DRM, great games...

Look, I'll just come in again, shall I?

Comment: Re:screw the system (Score 4, Insightful) 284

Prison is also supposed to be for punishment.

Actually, there's a difference of opinion on that matter.

There are those who believe the purpose of prison is to reform the convicted, that prisons need to be reformatories. Their argument is that just sticking a criminal into a holding cell for a few years does nothing to change his behavior; in fact, it more likely reinforces the behavior by fostering a "me against them" attitude between the criminal and civilization while at the same time exposing him to like-minded people. Reformatories try to teach the criminal new habits and skills so that - when he is released - he can find a new path through life. The most extreme example of this is Sweden, although many nations in Western Europe follow this path to some degree or another. It appears to work for them but it is arguable whether or not their methods would have the same results in other countries.

The US, on the other hand, largely follows a philosophy of punishment (in concept if not enshrined in law); the idea is that the fear of prison as a punishment will keep people out of mischief. That is, if you go to a penitentiary you should expect to be stripped of all rights, beaten by the jailers, raped by the other inmates and probably lose the ability to ever find decent work once you get out, therefore it is better not to break the law. Whether this philosophy works or not I'll leave up to others to argue; on the one hand, violent crime rates have dropped dramatically in the country, but on the other hand, there are high recidivism rates and the US has the largest population of inmates in the world.

Then there is simple detention, a concept where there is no innate intent to penalize (or reform) the criminal; rather, the goal is to simply isolate the wrong-doer to protect society from his evil ways. These differ from penitentiaries in that they aren't used as a threat to convince people not to do crimes, nor is there any goal to reform the convicted. Detention centers are not necessarily unpleasant places (but due to budgeting issues usually are) Most often used for the irredeemable (repeat offenders, murderers, etc) when it is felt it would be too dangerous to let them go, or for people who are temporarily incarcerated before being banished from the jailing society (e.g., illegal immigrants).

Personally, I lean towards the first example as how prisons are best used, but in truth best results would be from a mix of all three. Unfortunately - at least in the US - too many people refuse to even consider that prisons should be anything but the most dire of dungeons, an attitude encouraged by a legal and penal system which benefits monetarily from ever-increasing criminalization and incarceration.

So prison doesn't have to be about punishment; we in America just chose to make it so.

Make it myself? But I'm a physical organic chemist!