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Comment: Meanwhile, in tabletop land... (Score 1) 131

by oboreruhito (#31936534) Attached to: Microsoft Clears <em>MechWarrior4</em> Free Launch

The current licensee is trying to renegotiate their terms with Topps after plunging into debt via some astonishingly poor management.

Catalyst has been in negotiations with some additional parties for weeks concerning how to pay down debts, including making partial payments, turning over stock and so on, as they’ve requested. We’ve been notified that some of these parties are pursuing additional legal means to secure the monies owed despite the negotiations. Our legal counsel has advised that the lawsuit is baseless. As such, Catalyst will defend against it and expect it to be dismissed in the near future. Regardless, we’re continuing our negotiations and will continue to move, as we’ve been doing, to pay debts down as quickly as possible.

Finally, as some of you may have noticed, we’ve just changed the legal text and logos on all our appropriate sites that reference Shadowrun and BattleTech from WizKids to The Topps Company, Inc., per their direction. We’ve been in contact with Topps for weeks regarding these situations. We are currently in negotiations to re-secure the Shadowrun and BattleTech licenses.

Comment: The logo typeface needs to be explained (Score 2, Informative) 683

by oboreruhito (#31355692) Attached to: Ubuntu Gets a New Visual Identity

It appears to be an edited rip of Aakash Soneri's Sone. (A comparison: Sone is teal, the new logo face is wine, where it overlaps is cobalt blue.) The changes appear to be as insubstantial as adding a slant to ascenders and shifting the baselines of some of the glyphs.

If Canonical modified Sone, didn't license it, and they start freely distributing it ("our global community will still maintain access to the resources needed to construct logos that use the branding" - so either the modified glyphs for the logo as svg, or the modified font itself), that's a dick move.

And if they did license it, then why is an open-source project licensing commercial fonts and calling it a reflection of the project?

Maybe it's a placeholder - who knows? Canonical doesn't say anything about the font's origin or license in the linked documentation, nor does Canonical's Jono Bacon in his nearly identical announcement.

But it is disappointing to see an open source project - whose community already made LGPL-licensed typefaces for their current logo - make and publicize such a half-assed effort, even in a preliminary stage, without any explanation on the decision.

When you say, as an organization based on community contribution:

"We wanted Ubuntu to reflect the precision and engineering that sits at the heart of the product. The new logo reflects this but not at the expense of the immediately recognisable circle of friends."

And you follow that with a logo that's based on a commercial typeface, you're reneging on that intent in at least one of two ways:

  • You're disrespecting the designer of the commercial font by modifying it and refusing to give credit - if it's licensed correctly at all;
  • You're disrespecting the open-source community, which includes professional designers who've went to bat for you in the past.

Even if Sone was correctly licensed, and Canonical got permission to modify it for their logo and future redistribution, why not get it from the community?

And if it wasn't licensed correctly, then is Ubuntu following the lead of Arial and just ripping things off in a legal but unethical manner when they can't find what they want in a convenient license?

(And maybe it's a coincidence - a really bad coincidence that still should be fixed. Without any explanation, nobody can tell.)

Comment: Re:bout time? (Score 1) 57

this program is XNA exclusive

Nothing so far released regarding RBN and the Rock Band Creators Club indicates that it will require XNA. XNA Creators Club != XNA Studio, XNA the programming language, XNA the flamethrower, etc.

Details about Magma, which packages the songs for distribution, haven't been released; all Harmonix says is that it's a "PC tool." That means it may require XNA, but for all we know, it equally might require Java, or COBOL, or shoving your head up your ass. There's just no information yet.

it's also $1,000 to get started ... If you own a PLAYSTATION 3 and a PC running Linux, or if you own a Wii and a Macintosh computer, you also need to buy an Xbox 360 and a PC running Windows.

Ignoring the suggestion that a Mac owner or Linux user has to buy another computer to run Windows, you're looking at about $640-$850 ($230 Xbox Pro + $150 Windows license + $100-$150 360 Rock Band set + $100 Creators Club + $60-$225 Reaper license). Reaper has an OS X build and works in wine, but since we don't know anything about Magma, it may well require Windows. If not, the cost of entry drops further. If your band or label makes less than $20,000 gross/year, Reaper costs $60, not $225.

At $80, selling their songs at the standard small-label price of $1/80 points per song, the band would have to sell about 2,650 songs to recoup their investment, before taxes. At $640, its 2,133 songs.

Sounds daunting, eh? Dropping $640 with no guarantee of profit? If you're just putting on 2 or 3 songs, you could probably hire a ScoreHero forum person who has a few years' experience in charting to put it together for $200-$300, or less, who knows.

There's no accurate sales figures for Rock Band DLC; Statosphere used to attempt to estimate them based on leaderboard activity, and the song that had sold the fewest copies as of Sept. 2008 (Devo's "Through Being Cool") sold an estimated 2,895 copies in three weeks at $2/sale. MC Frontalot moved an estimated 3,445 copies at $1 each of "Livin' at the Corner of Dude and Catastrophe" in one week.

The worst-selling song, The Runaways' "Cherry Bomb," was available on opening day and sold an estimated 13,550 copies in the first 11 months of Rock Band's existence; projecting that performance onto a RBN release, that'd be a gross take for the artist of $4,065, at 30 percent of each $1 sale.

Don't take any of this for any significance - IANA band's business manager, the DLC stats above are sketchy at best, and it'll be a much more crowded marketplace full of songs that will, on average, have lower-quality audio and note charts. But 1.) it's not $1,000 for gear, and for most small bands and some small labels, it won't be $500, and 2.) there's a decent chance artists and labels with a fan base and dedication to quality and promotion can break even.

Comment: Re:Where did the figures come from? (Score 1) 57

this program is XNA exclusive

Nothing so far released regarding RBN and the Rock Band Creators Club indicates that it will require XNA. XNA Creators Club != XNA Studio, XNA the programming language, XNA the flamethrower, etc.

Details about Magma, which packages the songs for distribution, haven't been released; all Harmonix says is that it's a "PC tool." That means it may require XNA, but for all we know, it equally might require Java, or COBOL, or shoving your head up your ass. There's just no information yet.

it's also $1,000 to get started ... If you own a PLAYSTATION 3 and a PC running Linux, or if you own a Wii and a Macintosh computer, you also need to buy an Xbox 360 and a PC running Windows.

Ignoring the suggestion that a Mac owner or Linux user has to buy another computer to run Windows, you're looking at about $640-$850 ($230 Xbox Pro + $150 Windows license + $100-$150 360 Rock Band set + $100 Creators Club + $60-$225 Reaper license). Reaper has an OS X build and works in wine, but since we don't know anything about Magma, it may well require Windows. If not, the cost of entry drops further. If your band or label makes less than $20,000 gross/year, Reaper costs $60, not $225.

At $80, selling their songs at the standard small-label price of $1/80 points per song, the band would have to sell about 2,650 songs to recoup their investment, before taxes. At $640, its 2,133 songs.

Sounds daunting, eh? Dropping $640 with no guarantee of profit? If you're just putting on 2 or 3 songs, you could probably hire a ScoreHero forum person who has a few years' experience in charting to put it together for $200-$300, or less, who knows.

There's no accurate sales figures for Rock Band DLC; Statosphere used to attempt to estimate them based on leaderboard activity, and the song that had sold the fewest copies as of Sept. 2008 (Devo's "Through Being Cool") sold an estimated 2,895 copies in three weeks at $2/sale. MC Frontalot moved an estimated 3,445 copies at $1 each of "Livin' at the Corner of Dude and Catastrophe" in one week.

The worst-selling song, The Runaways' "Cherry Bomb," was available on opening day and sold an estimated 13,550 copies in the first 11 months of Rock Band's existence; projecting that performance onto a RBN release, that'd be a gross take for the artist of $4,065, at 30 percent of each $1 sale.

Don't take any of this for any significance - IANA band's business manager, the DLC stats above are sketchy at best, and it'll be a much more crowded marketplace full of songs that will, on average, have lower-quality audio and note charts. But 1.) it's not $1,000 for gear, and for most small bands and some small labels, it won't be $500, and 2.) there's a decent chance artists and labels with a fan base and dedication to quality and promotion can break even.

Comment: Re:Where did the figures come from? (Score 3, Informative) 57

It's from the interview with Harmonix and MTV Games.

Songs submitted through this process must then be reviewed by other developers to check for playability, inappropriate lyrics, copyright infringement and so on. Harmonix will post approved tracks to an in-game download store separate from its existing "Rock Band" store where creators can set their own price (50 cents to $3 per song) and receive 30% of any resulting sales. Gamers will also be able to demo 30-second samples of each track.

The Billboard article is extremely detailed, with info on training the review community; Microsoft's development of a Harmonix-hosted subset of the XBL Creators Club, with special rules just for Rock Band; details on the software to be used by artists and and HMX; record label Sub Pop announcing that they're already moving content onto the network, including all of their fall releases; and MTV saying they may eventually combine the RBN and existing Rock Band Store markets if RBN is successful.

Comment: Re:It comes down to this: (Score 1) 334

by oboreruhito (#28096547) Attached to: Last.fm User Data Was Sent To RIAA By CBS
In any case:

1.) If TC can prove that the data was transferred from last.fm to CBS, they're refusing to disclose it because they expect to be sued and will use the evidence to build a truth defense against the libel suit.

If this is true, TC doesn't care about informing the public - if they did, either TC would have the balls to post the evidence by now on their site, or slip a copy to Wikileaks or some other gray-market info distributor to hit the blogs. The end goal for Arrington is publicity for the site and page views.

2.) If TC can't prove this, and only has a single unsubstantiated source, they're refusing to disclose the source because they expect to be sued and plan to throw the source to CBS' lawyers as a diversion. If this is the case, TC is looking to burn off some excess money. The end goal for Arrington is publicity for the site and page views.

Even if TC can prove it has a source, last.fm/CBS would have to sue TC to get to it. If CBS sues TC and TC doesn't produce any source or evidence, TC faces the full liability for CBS' losses, and likely significant punitive damages.

If Arrington agrees to reveal the source or evidence, and it turns out the source was wrong, a judge would likely limit damages compared to what it would award against the source, as the libel originated with the source. In this situation, TC didn't invent the false information, it merely relayed it, and in many cases this does not result in heftier judgments against the outlet. (Sometimes it does, but in any case, Arrington can point at the source and blame him/her/it, self-validate his journalistic ethics, and continue working.) The story makes banner headlines across news sites. TC loses a chunk of cash, but FFS, it's a blog about to compete with Apple and tablet PC makers. It obviously has cash to burn. The net result for Arrington is publicity for the site and page views.

If Arrington refuses to reveal the source, either the judge slaps the full brunt of libel against tc, or the judge jails Arrington for contempt. Arrington happily martyrs himself for "journalism" and goes to jail for contempt, blogging by mail or phone or prison sex or whatever, until CBS decides to stop paying its legal team and drops the suit. (Arrington's sponsors - including competing music services - would be happy to foot the bill.) The end result for Arrington is a SHIT-TON of publicity for the site and page views.

And finally, libel suits that span the Atlantic are tough nuts to crack. Legal action is possible, but it's expensive, and therefore unlikely. Last.fm suspended the deletion of account data the last time TC did this, allowing Angry Internet People to sulk back when it was evident TC didn't have the cards to play their accusations in public and folded. We'll see if it happens again - considering the mirroring of the previous incident's tactics, that's probably true.

In that case, all CBS/last.fm suing TC would accomplish is... publicity and page views for Arrington and TC.

Arrington can't lose, he knows it, and we all break down TC's site to spit on Arrington or pat his back. Meanwhile, he passes all THAT info on to HIS advertisers.

Comment: Re:AC Responds About Linux Support (Score 1) 114

by oboreruhito (#26946117) Attached to: S3 Graphics Responds About Linux Support

as Bruce Perens famously said at Linux SF Con 2006, Linux is only free if your time has no value.

Jamie Zawinski (the DNA Lounge/Unix Mozilla 1.1 guy) said it in 1998.

So finally I talked my boss into getting me an SGI Indy (which I've since replaced with an SGI O2) and life became joyous again. Because SGI actually knows something about building user interfaces, and about making it possible to administer a machine without being a member of the technological priesthood. For but one example, I was able to install and format a new disk on this machine through GUIs, without once having to run ``man'' and try to remember some random arcane command that I last used in 1986.

This is the part where I start getting hate mail from people, and cheerleading messages telling me to take a look at it again, because it's so much better now. I understand. I'll take your word for it. And when the time comes to replace the O2 I have today, maybe my next machine will run Linux. But as we all know, Linux is only free if your time has no value, and I find that my time is better spent doing things other than the endless moving-target-upgrade dance.

Of course, all of the software I write runs on Linux; that's the beauty of standards, and of cross-platform code. I don't have to run your OS, and you don't have to run mine, and we can use the same applications anyway!

I think Linux is a great thing, in the big picture. It's a great hacker's tool, and it has a lot of potential to become something more. I hope that some day it will have evolved to the point where my mom can take home a Linux box, turn it on, and get on with her life without having to become a Unix sysadmin first, and without having to give up on all the ease of use she's come to expect from allegedly less powerful operating systems.

Just two years later, he took it mostly back.

Comment: Re:There is actually (Score 1) 689

by oboreruhito (#26887307) Attached to: Student Satirist Gets 3 Months; the Judge, Likely More
"An AC says before if these marks are still on the records for the kids."

IANAL, but juvenile disciplinary records are sealed in most/all states, and tough to open. Turn 18 and most people won't know you ever went unless you commit a crime or they, um, have access to a corrupt public official. Like this one.

Comment: Why? (Score 1) 148

by oboreruhito (#26807319) Attached to: Miro 2.0 Launches Today

I'm still trying to figure out how popular projects like Miro and Songbird really are, and why. How useful is mashing Web functions together with media to create some interactive behemoth? Why do people need these bloated apps for content discovery when browsing a Web site and running an RSS-supporting torrent client is at least as effective?

Is it just the convenience of not leaving an app? If it's the interface, I understand even less - both are so cluttered, even with Miro's upgrade, and resource-intensive. Neither appears to have any meaningful integration with any media center software - MythTV can't even sync with Miro's library without a hack since Miro doesn't have much of a backend API - and neither has much of a 10-foot interface, so that kills it for me on a TV, which is the only place I'd watch anything more than a YouTube clip.

Comment: Re:Miro + ??? (Score 5, Informative) 148

by oboreruhito (#26807123) Attached to: Miro 2.0 Launches Today

OpenCandy was removed from Miro two months ago after user complaints.

Hi All,

We're going to remove OpenCandy from our installer next week. Thanks for pushing back on this.

We still think the core idea of open source projects promoting one another is a great one, and we'll continue to support and promote other FOSS projects whenever possible.

~Jesse

Also from that post:

OpenCandy is a a software recommendation engine that we added recently in order to suggest other free and open source software to our users. You can find out about the organization at www.opencandy.com.

I wasn't aware that it permanently left their recommendation engine on the user's machine after running it. We'll look into that right now and fix it as soon as possible.

Comment: Re:Actually? (Score 1) 647

by oboreruhito (#26799575) Attached to: WSJ Says Gov't Money Injection Won't Help Broadband

"The problem is that local governments (municipalities, primarily) have signed exclusive agreements with these companies."

OR

"LUS Fiber is officially "Open for Business" - already providing Video, Internet and Phone services from its state-of-the-art network to Lafayette residents. This community-owned 100% fiber optic infrastructure will supply residents and businesses with the most advanced communications system in the world. Better, faster and more cost-efficient communications means improved quality of life and numerous benefits for our community."

Your municipality may very.

Government

+ - Louisiana city launches municipal FTTH->

Submitted by oboreruhito
oboreruhito (925965) writes "The Lafayette, La., Daily Advertiser reports:

"After nearly five years of discussions, a legal battle that went to the state Supreme Court and lengthy negotiations about television programming, LUS Fiber officially opened for business on Thursday. A small number of customers in Lafayette already have phone, television and Internet service through LUS Fiber, said LUS Director Terry Huval. Beginning today, LUS will begin mailing out notices to customers in the first phase of the controlled rollout to let them know how to sign up for the services."

LUS is the Lafayette Utilities System, the municipal electricity, water and wastewater provider. City voters passed a $125 million bond issue in 2005 to fund the project; Cox and BellSouth sued to stop or delay the project and lost. I've got Cox, the only cable provider in town, and they charge $115/month for expanded basic and very shaky "12Mbps" that's functionally around 8Mbps off-peak. The closest bundle LUS offers provides 10Mbps, about 15 or so more cable channels, and telephone service for $85/month. For the same price as Cox's 12Mbps residential standalone Internet, LUS offers 50Mbps. And LUS touts an interesting feature: "Access to the 100 Mbps Peer-to-Peer Community Intranet.""
Link to Original Source

Comment: Re:What a sad world (Score 1) 140

by oboreruhito (#26239651) Attached to: Print News Fading, Still Source of Much News

This is tl; I expect most dr. Move along, then, nothing to see here.

If that's true, then do you have a theory for why newspapers, which have been racking their brains non-stop regarding this crisis, haven't latched onto the local-coverage solution?

The local/wire debate is not too far off from debates about organizing a team for programming software.

One end of the code spectrum is to write everything you need yourself. From the close-to-metal code to the UI, everything is written in-house. When well-funded and executed by a well-organized, qualified team, the result is solid software that's nearly self-maintaining. Each team member knows their role inside and out by working not only on coding the solutions but also calculating the efficiency of the algorithms, documenting code well and correcting errors quickly. QA catches bugs quickly, the coders stomp them out before it ships, the program is fast and resource-efficient, UI design is intuitive - but all these coders are expensive, and the best ones quickly get snatched up after a project, or even during one, by deeper-pocketed rivals.

On the other end is, I suppose, the stereotypical Visual Basic.NET style - using large libraries and off-the-shelf solutions. Taking this route is easier and doesn't require a large group of coders. Programs can be written quickly at relatively a low financial cost by a smaller team - hell, you can even outsource much of the work. However, the software can be horribly resource-inefficient, requested or needed features are missing or slimmed down, the UI is clunky or overwrought, and bugs are rife.

Most development philosophies fall somewhere between: a team of coders will write much of what they need on their own, but certain complex or tedious parts of the program can be handled by libraries or delegated to subcontractors/outsourcers. A game might be written by one company except for the 3D engine; a developer may hand off database backend development while taking care of the forward-facing application. Everything comes down to the budget, which is driven by a desire for profit.

Now, let's frame the news business in a similar fashion.

One end of the news spectrum is the local-first approach. From the legwork to find out what happens behind closed doors - stuff that won't ever get published, but gives a reporter context and angles for stories that aren't obvious from just the press releases and meetings - to the grip-and-grin photo ops, everything is written by in-house reporters who work a beat. When well-funded and executed by a well-organized, qualified team, the result is solid news reporting with strong contextual background that's simple to understand without oversimplifying. Each reporter knows their beat inside and out by working not only on writing stories but also gaining the trust of reliable sources, taking and archiving copious off-the-record and unpublished notebooks, and staying in contact with reliable expert sources to correct errors quickly. Copy editors also catch errors quickly, the managing editors help stomp them out before it prints, the story is tight and concise, paginators lay the story out attractively and add appropriate art and graphics - but all these employees are expensive, and the best ones quickly get snatched up after a story, or even during one, by deeper-pocketed rivals - corporate-owned newspapers, news wires, even PR firms and politicians.

On the other end is, I suppose, the stereotypical Gannett corporate newspaper - recycling press releases and using wire services. Taking this route is easier and doesn't require a large newsroom staff. Pages can be produced quickly at a relatively low financial cost by a smaller team - hell, you can even outsource much of the work, like Gannett is doing or planning to do with reporting, copy editing and pagination. However, the stories can be horribly written, lacking in context, missing important information that's relevant to readers, cut down to make room for more ads, with lazy design, crappy photos, lots of references to flashy but often even less-informative photo galleries and videos online, and many factual errors.

Most newsroom philosophies fall somewhere between: a team of writers and editors will produce a fair amount of local content, but print space falls prey to fillers, wire content, and empty local content, like social pages and advertorial. A local business story might just be a wire story with a few local quotes added; a reporter might be told to spend only enough time to flesh out details from a press release. Everything comes down to the budget, which is driven by a desire for profit.

Here's where it forks, perhaps: Most newspapers, and especially most corporate newspapers, expect a profit margin that far exceeds that of a software company. If a newspaper only has a 10% profit margin, there's layoffs/hiring freezes/cut hours/cut benefits coming. Lower pay, declining benefits and fewer jobs in newsrooms send the reporters who want to put an effort into their work out of the field completely.

The few newspapers that are still successful today are small, privately owned, and nimble and aware enough to change and adapt. They take care of their staff, train them when it's wanted and needed, give them opportunities to advance and treat them with some decency. That's the theory for success, and the reason it's not being executed isn't that it's not a successfully tested theory, but that it's not feasible to execute at most U.S. newspapers that are owned by publicly traded companies driven not only by profit but also profit growth. Those things haven't been favorable for newspapers since, as you note, Craigslist and other Web-based services came in and made newspaper brands worthless in the online ad space.

Even if poor local coverage is an area where newspapers can get better, it may not be enough. Papers are also hurting badly from the loss of classified ads, real estate listings, and car ads, all of which are migrating to the web (i.e., craigslist).

That's all true. But Craigslist is barely moderated, and this is where newspaper ad departments can compete: If they can provide an ad service that's competitive in features and also well edited and moderated - cutting the chaff and promoting good deals while establishing a community around its news product - they can deliver value to the end user. This is what old-guard news publishers have trouble grasping - that the product even their readers want most are the advertisements, because they provide tangible financial value to the end user. The news part of the newspaper always worked because it establishes and reinforces the sort of community most blogs would kill to monopolize - reporting on and promoting local sports, schools, businesses, residents, people, the community. Breaking down barriers between people and exposing problems that people can rally together to beat, that sort of good old-fashioned sort of stuff that only comes from a staff that isn't rotated around the nation every three years, with so much of that time spent learning Avid and inputting calendar entries instead of working beats and becoming part of the community they cover.

The news always was the wrapping for the ads, which in turn funded the news. It's symbiotic. Corporate ownership tried to break this loop by carving up newsroom budgets, and the public rebelled against the ad-heavy, low-quality crud that came out of it. Even as middle- and lower-class America became comparatively stupid compared to their equivalents in past decades, what corporate news throws at them sets off even their weakened bullshit filters.

Gannett, for instance, tries to push to its local newspapers the USA Today model of flashy, art-heavy, low-content pages filled with small bits of news instead of community-reinforcing features. Their reasoning is that USA Today is still the nation's most financially successful newspaper. What Gannett doesn't get - same as most every corporate news organization that models itself after Gannett - is that USA Today is about even with People magazine in cultural value to people, and it's cheaper on the news rack. That's why it sells. But that model applied locally results in an empty paper no matter how many words get crammed on the poorly-designed page templates. The paper devotes 10 pages to social climbers, 12 pages to local entertainment, and maybe 4 or 5 fractured pages to local news. Reporters get moved around departments, required to learn video and podcasting during their work time - yes, these are valuable skills, but not at the expense of reporting the news to put into the videos and podcasts. Readership plummets. Gannett says local news is a failure and puts more wire news in the place of the local "news", and the readers just give up and look to TV, which has gotten even more shallow since the bleeds-it-leads 80s and still manages to outclass this shelled out paper.

The newspapers that really win support from their communities take on the community's problems, hoist heroes on their shoulders, and know well enough to tell when troublemakers try to masquerade themselves as heroes and vice versa. Those are vanishing. Their only hope is that this economic bottoming-out divests corporations from news, and the vacuum of publishers gets filled again by entrepreneurial newsmen with a grasp on the Internet and community building, and not the popular idea of non-profit organizations, which can be founded or easily overthrown by wealthy special interests and lobbyists and become as abusive in their powers as politically driven "family" owners (Blacks, NY Times) or corporate interests (NY Times, Gannett, News Corp., KR, Dow Jones, etc.), or the even scarier idea of further corporate consolidation.

Aren't you glad you're not getting all the government you pay for now?

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