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Submission + - Pedophilia Author Arrested (digestreport.com) 1

healeyb writes: CNN is reporting that Phillip R. Greaves, the controversial self-published author who released a book on Amazon.com outlining the most effective methods for engaging in pedophilia, has been arrested. The felony warrant, issued in Florida by Sheriff Grady Judd, was executed in Colorado, where he awaits transport. While the subject matter is of particular sensitivity, Christopher Finan, the President of the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression, has argued that the book falls under the purview of free speech, as the book contains no pictures and cannot be classified as child pornography. However, the non-profit organization Enough is Enough, which works to...

Comment *Any* artist can do it (Score 3, Insightful) 495

I'm seeing a lot of dismissive comments in here about what labels allegedly do and how much easier it will be for an artist to do it themselves. Also a lot of hyperbole about "if they're getting ripped off, how come they're so rich"?

Let's say you are a good songwriter and performer, and you've shelled out your own money to record a handful of songs to a reasonable enough quality that a consumer would buy it if they heard it. You have no management. You have no agent. You have confidence and this product that you've agonized over. You don't want to go the major label route. You my distrust labels of any sort. You possibly have a deep dislike for the RIAA.

To get on iTunes, you used to have to be signed to a label of any sort who would represent your recordings so that iTunes would add it to their catalogue. That was from whenever iTunes started to around 2005 or so. That has been loosened somewhat so now an artist can go to CDBaby, who still require a CD of your work before doing so, and will only represent one (1) song to iTunes.

Once that song is actually in iTunes, now what? It doesn't just show up on the front page. In fact depending on which country you're from, you won't automatically show up in other countries on iTunes thanks to 100+ year-old physical distribution laws.

But what do you do? You can't simply persuade iTunes to feature your product on their service, not on your own. They have a staff who essentially act like retail used to: they "front rack" products. They do this based on the pedigree of the recordings coming in and a considerable amount of marketing push from the majors. I'm not privy to that major label process, but I can tell you there are thousands of indie artists who are having a very hard time getting any kind of meaningful exposure via iTunes without that same attention and manpower.

Tunecore - a sort of ex-major label A&R and promotions collective - will represent a completely independent artist but they still essentially only seek out artists with some kind of touring career already in place. They promote to iTunes essentially like a major label would.

It is also not that easy to sell your music - even if you're really good - without a lot of physical effort on your part. Touring. Actually pressing CD's and making them attractive and inexpensive enough that even one person would be intrigued to buy one. I don't know many people who buy CD's at all, and that includes at shows. They'd sooner buy a T-Shirt, so the artist also has to make sure they get good at shirt manufacturing. (Something few musicians assume they should know anything about.)

If your goal is just to write and perform music and possibly make a little bit of cash for fun, sure. You don't need a label. If you want to have a career at it, you may not need a label but you will need lots of other representation. Managers, agents, promoters, etc. You'll still need some financial backing to get a world class recording, and at that point you still need to answer the question of how you'll be properly exposed on iTunes. It is not nearly as easy or straightforward as many of these commenters are indicating. To have a genuine certifiably successful career? Labels are still good at that, they've just lost their taste for putting three albums worth of nurturing effort to get there. Your first album has to hit. Otherwise they will just move on. That wasn't always the case.

Comparing marketing options for a new, unknown artist who is bewildered as to what to do with their brand new music career without labels and an artist like Robert Fripp who started touring in 1966, and has released several dozen albums on a variety of internationally distributed record labels and built up a loyal audience spanning over 40 years now is (to put it mildly) apples and oranges. Same goes for Nine Inch Nails and Radiohead. Name me an artist that has succeeded on par with these artists in today's climate without a label, and I'll be interested to hear about it. Even Trent Reznor's attempt to market that "Niggy Tardust" project couldn't generate that kind of following.

Also as much as I really, really do not like radio (and have not for most of my life) you cannot argue that *someone* out there likes it, because getting a song on radio is an instant method of boosting sales anywhere in the world. Do I want to sell to that audience? Based on profits only: sure. Based on musical taste: absolutely not.


Comment Lazy and Impatient are not four-letter words (Score 5, Insightful) 753

Speaking as someone who used to work in the retail industry, and the overall music industry, but now work in the tech industry, I think you're missing the importance of what you're interpreting his point-form items to mean.

> I'm lazy and impatient.

Aren't these precisely the reasons for two of the most crucial ingredients which all of the large scale entertainment industries are utterly failing to add to their product?

Convenience and ease of use.

People can order coffee at drive-throughs now. Why? It's convenient, and enough people were lazy and impatient enough that they didn't want to have to park, get out of their car, enter the actual coffee shop, line up, wait, choose from a menu either during or after that wait, order, wait some more for the coffee or other items to be made and delivered to them, pay, get a receipt, return to their car, and get back on the road. A drive through is far more convenient.

If the coffee shop / drive through example had never existed, an entire traffic infrastructure would arguable not exist today. Drive throughs are considered an innovation that was a direct response to customers who were impatient and busy, and who one could argue right now are lazy for using them. But they're considered an innovation.

The *IAA members who currently produce the CD's, DVD's and Blu-Ray discs in their current state lack this kind of innovative thinking. They fail to understand that convenience - especially in an era where a ton of information is very easily available - is a crucial ingredient in their product.

FBI warnings, several delays involving intro animations, menus or warnings, plus copyright notices, then trailers and previews are a nuisance. Then add in:

* Regional coding
* Territorial restrictions for a given release
* Territorial delays in release or a complete lack of release in one or more territories
* The whole "back to the vault" scenario.

These are all considered annoyances, and hindrances to consuming the product people actually wanted to buy, and these are precisely the things that are causing people to avoid purchasing their products, but they refuse to remove them. I think it would be a huge wake-up call for even one studio to try releasing a product with at least one of these hindrances removed (but preferably all of them.) I also personally believe that restricting a work from being released in a different territory due to it not yet having a specific licensing agreement is a ridiculous concept in a world that has something called the Internet. iTunes doesn't let me buy some of my favorite artists because they aren't licensed to be released in my country. Of course I'm going to download them any way I can. (I do order physical CD's for exorbitant prices as well, but I'm probably a really rare consumer in this case.)

Even when studios do include a "bonus digital copy", it's restricted, and only available for a preset amount of time. If you try to use that copy past that time, you're out of luck. That's a stupid, stupid idea. I won't always want a new movie to remain on my iPod, and I will more than likely wish to use that feature far further in the future than they will allow. I don't know anyone who uses that feature, and I doubt I would ever choose it over ripping my own copy of the DVD I own so that I can play it the way I want.

As a programmer, "lazy" leads to better code over time because a program or script eventually does more things either I or my clients wanted it to do. As a former retail worker, "lazy" means we had to work harder to make sure people could get what they wanted more immediately, or find things out faster, especially when a store was very busy.

"lazy" and "impatient" are what labels and movie studios should be wanting to address in a way that produces a better product. Recorded music and films are the two biggest industries that resist this approach consistently, and then blame the consumer when they complain about it.


Comment No Atari? (Score 2, Interesting) 96

I can't believe they didn't include any of the Atari 400 / Atari 800 ads.

You could learn geography, or French. (Always followed by some version of Space Invaders or Missile Command.)

Alan Alda was a spokesman for a period of time.


I think in hindsight Atari obviously spent slightly more on TV advertising than product R&D, but I could be wrong.



Submission + - Chinese Hacker Behind Google Hacks Identified (ft.com)

Knee Socks writes: A few days ago, the US government traced the online attack on Google and other companies back to two Chinese schools. Now US analysts say they have identified the author of the code that exploited a security loophole in IE8. Interestingly enough, the hacker, who works as a freelance security consultant, did not launch the attacks himself and has said he would have preferred his code "not be used in such offensive efforts." As things go in China, however, the government had unique access to his work, which analysts say makes it much harder for China to deny allegations of involvement with the attacks.

Comment Great argument (Score 1) 525

This reply is one of the most clearly-worded criticisms of the RIAA's prosecution, and I wish it could be applied to all the other cases which have gone before and are still before the courts.

I think it's crucial that they specifically talk about the fact that this individual did not profit from the sharing of this handful of files, and that it is unlikely that he, on his own, was singularly responsible for the sharing of those files to specifically "millions" of people, directly leading to "billions of dollars of lost revenues".

I wrote an article recently about "RIAA Math", researching just what kind of activity an individual would have to engage in to share a small number of files enough times, consistently, with zero failure or network downtime to make this kind of punitive or statutory damage claim worthy of being awarded. I used the pending damages case regarding Jammie Thomas-Rasset, which has been posted here many times. (Short answer: for the $1.92 million they claim she is on the hook for, she'd have to share all of the infringing copies for 444 days straight, no downtime, sharing to a grand total of nearly 58,000 individuals, and that's assuming that every single person actually downloaded the entire song.)

They key piece is that this guy was not personally profiting from this. He downloaded them for personal use. Even if we assume he burned copies for a handful of his friends, that is still not a "profit" engine, and even if it were, those profits would never amount to what the RIAA is claiming.

I'm intrigued to see the outcome of this, much as I am with the Thomas-Rasset case.

(Former Music Industry Employee And Pundit)


Submission + - Holocaust Denier's Email Hacked, Leaked (wired.com)

AdamD1 writes: "It appears that a group of hackers have had access to holocaust denier's email accounts for some time, and decided to post a lot of what they found on Wikileaks.

The hackers posted Irving's e-mail correspondence online, as well as the user name and password for his web site account and AOL e-mail account, which shared the same password. The hackers also posted the e-mail addresses and other personal information — such as names, phone numbers and shipping and credit card billing addresses — of people who made donations through his web sites, purchased his books or bought tickets for his appearances.


Comment Re:A question of intent (Score 4, Interesting) 1032

Boy this is a hard topic to discuss without feeling like you're inadvertently supporting one side or the other.

I'll just preface this by saying this is a topic that has interested me for many years, but especially in light of 9/11, etc. I do not pretend to be any kind of expert on this (who could?)


Source? (other than Fox News, of course)

I was all set to say "how could you have missed all these news quotations saying the he wants to blow up Israel?!?!" But after doing some digging: It turns out that this is the first time I've heard anyone make a genuine distinction between what CNN / FOX / etc. keep quoting and what was actually translated from his original speech:

Our dear Imam (referring to Ayatollah Khomeini) said that the occupying regime must be wiped off the map and this was a very wise statement. We cannot compromise over the issue of Palestine. Is it possible to create a new front in the heart of an old front. This would be a defeat and whoever accepts the legitimacy of this regime has in fact, signed the defeat of the Islamic world. Our dear Imam targeted the heart of the world oppressor in his struggle, meaning the occupying regime. I have no doubt that the new wave that has started in Palestine, and we witness it in the Islamic world too, will eliminate this disgraceful stain from the Islamic world.

Source: http://wapedia.mobi/en/Mahmoud_Ahmadinejad_and_Israel (Oct. 26, 2005)

Now: I am not supporting this guy (I can't overstate this), nor am I in support of Iran's totalitarian government, but it does appear that the press seem to have reinterpreted his speeches in words that will rile up Western populations.

His argument seems to be a common one from that region:

- Israel is a state and government which he and many others do not recognize, but which Western governments do.
- Israel as a state was created by Western governments following WWII and placed in what used to be known as Palestine, thus his (and many others) continuous reference to "occupied Palestine."
- He considers the state to be a fiction, and wants the Islamic world to work together to remove that state from the region, essentially returning it to the Palestinians.

I could only find this translation regarding his statements about the Holocaust:

The illegitimate Zionist regime is an outcome of the Holocaust... a political and power-seeking network claimed to be the advocate for one group of the victims, and sought reparations for their blood. [This network] ruled that the survivors of this particular group of victims must receive compensation - and part of this compensation was to establish the Zionist regime in the land of Palestine. On this pretext, they attacked Palestine and, after massacring the [indigenous] people and driving them from their homes, they occupied their homeland and created the Zionist regime - in order to ensure that no regional power would emerge in the Islamic lands except for the West, [because] Islamic civilization and culture have the dynamic potential to threaten their interests, which were based on oppression and thirst for power. These principles and philosophy comprise the Zionist regime.

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mahmoud_Ahmadinejad_and_Israel#Statement_on_Holocaust_Remembrance_Day

So again: I don't see in that quote that he's "denying" the holocaust. (And yes: I know it's out of context, and it's from Wikipedia) He's saying that an "outcome of the Holocaust" was that they made these claims for reparation and compensation, and that they achieved this (the creation of Israel within Palestinian land) via less-than-acceptable means.

The fact that you clarified this particular oft-misquoted statement made me wonder what the precise text was. It's a bit difficult to find complete transcripts. (But I'll keep looking.)

Iran as a nation is still being ridiculous regarding how it communicates its nuclear intentions. "We don't have any nuclear arms. We're just firing these brand new shiny missiles -- just cuz!" That is far scarier than a predominantly Western misinterpretation of his statements.

I should read more about this. I just don't know where to begin (besides numerous references to Wikipedia, which is dubious in some cases.)


Comment What about private ownership of NASA (Score 1) 206

I recognize that this is possibly an extremely naive thing to suggest, but what if NASA were to be either co-owned by private investors, or sold outright to a private company?

Is there a reason that NASA still needs to be a Government operation?

Given that the key inhibitor to NASA being taken seriously as a "space exploration" organization has been the dire lack of funding over the past three decades, wouldn't it make sense to turn it into a seaparately operated, non-national, extremely well-funded company, with more than enough money to support the kinds of projects that they're describing?

I also understand that initially NASA did have ties to the military, but that for one reason or another it was agreed that they would not be a military organization. I'm not sure if selling the company would put it in danger of becoming one or not.

It couldn't hurt to ask. I imagine if either Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk, Richard Branson, etc. etc. etc. were in a position to co-own or otherwise play a part in their fiscal support, and there were no legal barriers to do so, NASA could flourish and this wouldn't be a recurring argument every year or so.

Aside: It bothers me that this lack of funding has made it that much easier for Apollo Landing deniers to grow in numbers.


Comment Still failing to grasp their audience (Score 5, Insightful) 250

Several colleagues of mine pointed me to this story and I just have to say: the labels - again - still don't get it, and they apparently never will.

I can understand why some artists create full length works. Few can argue that an album like Pink Floyd's "The Wall" or The Beatles' "Abbey Road" work very well as complete pieces. The reality is: how many current artists are making albums that consistent? I can think of only three that actually make the cut for me: Queens of the Stone Age, The Mars Volta and until lately Nine Inch Nails. With only that last example, their audiences are not earning them in the tens of millions in sales. The only artists which are are the artists which are responsible for this massive audience shift away from album purchases!

Britney Spears is the veritable poster-child for why albums are failing: even if you are a die-hard fan, you really only want two songs, at most perhaps five, from any of her full length albums. That says: you don't want to spend $15 - $20 for a complete CD / $9.99 per digital album download. You prefer to purchase individual tracks. (That and: you'd probably still prefer they cost around $0.49)

On the other hand, if their audience are "classic rock fans", I still don't see the point. If you're a Led Zeppelin fan, you likely already have all the remastered reissues and re-re-re-issues you care to spend any money on in the first place. (And the Beatles re-re-re-re-masters are coming out imminently as well, marking something like the eighth time those have been re-issued of re-packaged in one way or another.)

That well has run dry. Why they don't face this fact is confusing.

I know that individual tracks aren't going away, and I know that digital sales on their own aren't necessarily resulting in booming profits for any of these labels, but my point is: as someone who has been a voracious consumer of music since 1979, I see utterly no legitimate business case for this "new" format, and it baffles me completely that any major label would seriously consider this as the saviour of their industry.

I would have been far more excited to hear that they decided on a $0.40 per single purchase price for new artists - big marketing campaign or not - rather than this ridiculous additional format. That or that they finally decided to give the artists more of a cut of the digital download price, since printing, shipping and manufacturing costs are of course greatly reduced for any digital download format. (Not saying it doesn't still take a creative team to create artwork, but there is no shipping, and no printing involved.)

I've already made a few wagers: I give this two and a half years at best before we see an unsurprising news story claiming that this did not significantly improve any digital music sales for anyone.

What a waste of money already. They still have a full year before they even release the first one.


Comment Their "mobile" versions fail (Score 1) 289

I've been reading the news from seven or eight newspapers using one or another form of software for my Palm device since 1995 (no joke), and now that I'm moving to a blackberry (soon) I'm looking for something similar to do this. I much prefer reading these editions, and it often means I can grab more recent news at work for my transit commute home.

The problem is: none of the major papers ever do any QA on their "mobile" editions. The BBC news site is now nearly completely unreadable. You get the headline, and a teaser, but the link leads either to a broken page or a page featuring only a single paragraph of most stories. The New York Times suffers from similar broken links. The CBC's mobile site no longer loads in anything but a cellphone browser.

If they can't get that right (and I agree: the "mobile" version of most sites is not likely to be a high traffic section) what makes them think anyone will trust them to get this setup out the door smoothly?

It would be trivial to properly QA their existing mobile / low fi versions and promote that as another convenient way to read the news. Instead they abandoned it.


Comment Re:$873 million you say? Really? (Score 1) 128

Further reporting of this, especially from Canadian news outlets, go into much further detail regarding this aspect of the court judgement.

The Globe And Mail have a particularly good quote from one of the Facebook reps:

"It's certainly beyond his resources, and we have no illusions about getting all of the money," Mr. Schnitt said.

"We're going to get whatever we can. To the extent that he has resources, we're going to try and seize them."

Mr. Schnitt said he mainly hopes the case will act as a deterrent. "[The ruling] sends a message to spammers and would-be spammers," he said.

"We hope this demonstrates the extent to which we're going to expend resources and pursue people to protect users from spam."

They certainly *will* get this company shut down, and then (assuming they find Mr. Guerbuez, who most news stories claimed was notoriously difficult to find,) they'll go after him.

It may take a while, but they'll do it.



Submission + - BlueSecurity - Round Two!

user24 writes: "We all remember the Blue Security DDOS attack, and now it looks like the same group of spammers who took them down are attacking several high-profile anti spam forums in a similar co-ordinated botnet DDOS.

zdnet has the scoop:

"The spammers behind last year's destruction of Blue Security are back with a vengeance, using a variant of the 'Storm Worm' malware to launch a sustained distributed denial-of-service attack against three anti-spam services.

SpamhausThe ongoing attacks, which use botnets of hijacked Windows computers, successfully shut down the Web servers that power the Spamhaus Project, URIBL (Realtime URI Blacklists) and SURBL (Spam URI Realtime Blocklists (SURBL)."

Check out the castlecops forum, where members of these antispam groups are picking over the details of the attack."

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