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The Courts

Analysis of MediaSentry Wins Music-Download Suit 51

An anonymous reader writes "A Dartmouth professor's analysis of MediaSentry problems helped win a New Hampshire woman's RIAA music-download lawsuit. 'Since all of Plaintiffs' claims are based on the assumption that MediaSentry's software and computer configuration are trustworthy and free of errors, and this log clearly represents a failure of the MediaSentry software to perform the operation it claims to describe, the reliability and validity of the MediaSentry method should be questioned,' wrote professor Sergey Bratus in his report, dated May 30. 'In my opinion, these materials leave critical aspects of MediaSentry's evidence collection process undocumented. In my opinion, they express unwarranted assumptions regarding both software and network technologies involved, and attempt to create an illusion of evidence-supported certainty where it does not exist.'" The full report (PDF) is available online. It's worth noting that this victory was not the outcome of a court ruling; rather, a settlement was reached that did not require the defendant, Mavis Roy, to pay anything to the RIAA.

Comment Re:It's Too Late, I'm Done with IE (Score 2, Interesting) 524

I weep for your corporation.

The Web Standards statement is the one that absolutely freaks me out the most. We don't even need to start talking about CSS. We can talk about really really simple stuff like HTML unordered lists. From what I remember in my testing, IE6 (and IE7) displayed them differently than FF, Safari, Opera, and Chrome (lining up the bullets outside the margin of paragraphs above and below). Why?

Comment Re:That's a nice budget you got there (Score 1) 418

Fair enough. The project management we did on our multi-year projects was ALWAYS bogged down by non-technical, non-requirement issues like management changes and other forms of "pushback". Again, in five years, you can accomplish just about anything, even with the most complex myriad of tax laws and internal "one-off" rules about pay scales. But you can't do anything if there is A) corruption, B) willful resistance, or C) utter lack of stakeholder buy-in. Any one or all three of these seems to be at work here.

And you're totally right that no one who's been on the outside can know anything for sure. /. is all about arrogant claims and wild-ass guessing isn't it?

Comment Re:That's a nice budget you got there (Score 1) 418

Having said all I did about the outrageous waste of money, a COTS (commercial off-the-shelf) solution, even heavily modified is probably the way to go (and from other comments it sounds like this latest $12 million will go to a Peoplesoft implementation). Still some pretty sweet coin for Accenture, the consulting company that's doing the COTS implementation.

Comment Re:That's a nice budget you got there (Score 2, Informative) 418

With agile methods and a multi-disciplinary team ("good coders" is an unfortunate catchall phrase I used to mean people who can gather requirements, write user stories, validate, iterate, manage a burndown list, etc.), five years would be absolutely more than enough time to do all of the steps you mention and more... like change management and getting iterations into stakeholder hands early... and on and on. I am neither a youngster nor naive about the software development life cycle (both waterfall which is what it sounds like you're used to, and agile).

Univ. of Wisconsin's 30-Year-Old Payroll System Needs a $40 Million Fix 418

jaroslav writes "The University of Wisconsin is attempting to update a payroll system they have had in place since 1975, but spent $28.4 million in a 2004 attempt with no results, and now is experiencing new overruns in cost and time after 'not hav[ing] the full picture of how complex this project would be.' The current estimate of the redesign is $12 million and years of further work on top of the money already spent."

Comment PvP (Score 1) 74

I wasn't attracted to Shadowbane because I have found player-vs-player games to be usually ruined by ubergamers. However, team-vs-team is a different thing and in reading the farewell, it looks like guilds were a big part of the game. I probably should have taken a closer look. Oh well... too late now.
Role Playing (Games)

Ubisoft To Shut Down Shadowbane 74

tyen writes "Ubisoft has announced the shutdown of Shadowbane, the first major, fantasy role-playing MMO with true PVP (full asset destruction possible). The shutdown will take place in about two weeks, at the start of May. No official reason has been given by Ubisoft, but running an MMO for free for the past three years, with no significant improvement in market growth during that period, could play a part in the decision. There's been no response from Ubisoft yet on calls to open source the code. "

Comment Re:This Just In... (Score 1) 328

Google itself is not at all sticky. Did you know that in the early days of search, the people in charge of "portal sites" (remember them) like Excite and even Yahoo were trying to figure out ways to keep people on their site. Google took a different approach: the faster people leave our site, the better job we've done of helping them find what they are looking for.

Sometimes a counter-intuitive approach brings a sea change in an industry. But all people are suggesting is that Google will drive traffic to the site and you have to make your site useful so people will want to return. If that means creating an awesome community like /. has done... then so be it. If that means creating really good unique content (with "related" links)... then so be that too.

If you believe that Google-attracted visitors don't ever stick around, then shun Google and figure out a way to attract a stickier audience. But I think the metrics show that if you can retain just a fraction of the massive audience driven to your site from Google, then you'll be doing well.

Comment Value added for printed material? (Score 1) 501

If viral marketing can rely on cheap distribution of PDFs, and the printed version offers stuff that is simply unavailable in the PDF... maybe they would have a business model. But to make the PDF exactly the same as the printed book, then charge the same amount... it doesn't seem to make sense. In any case, D&D fans tend to be technically savvy so there will always be digital distribution, authorized or unauthorized. Better to come up with a business model that leverages this tendency instead of fighting uphill against it. M:TG cards put Wizards on the map: scarcity and added value were the cornerstones of that whole business model. Without turning D&D into a collectibles game, surely they can take a page out of their own history and add value to materials that people are willing to purchase -- while still offering the viral "word-of-mouth" benefits of a freely distributed digital medium.

Comment Re:Yeah this reader's _____ (Score 1) 328

Actually, as an advertiser in the 1980s and 1990s I was shocked at how poorly I was treated. Granted I was placing very small 1/8th page display ads but getting to resolutions to my problems from anyone at the big media company was distressing. I have been on the other side too (as an editor at a newspaper) so I believe that it is just OVERALL poor management that has put the newspapers where they are today. Besides, the advertisers are best served if the newspapers deliver a happy, engaged readership -- so annoying any of your "customers" (real, intended, or imagined) is just not smart business.

Comment Re:This Just In... (Score 1) 328

The president of the internet division of the newspaper conglomerate I work for actually said this in response to a manager suggesting working more closely with Google to improve SEO: "We don't want users to search for our site. We need to focus on the users who are on our site and make it easier for them to find the content they want via our internal search." Yeah. We don't want silly new readers. And we don't want readers to be able to find us on search engines. They should just know to come here and when they're here, they'll then learn how to use a search engine - our search engine. I bet our search algorithms are totally better than google's.

I am still laughing as I type up a response. I was going to get all articulate and give a few more examples of this same kind of attitude in other traditional media companies -- but this quote, and your illustration of how it highlights the really broken thinking behind it -- well, it was just brilliant. Thank you.

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