Oct. 3rd – A Day Against DRM

Many of you have heard (or read) my previous rants about the ills of Digital Rights Management, but this bears repeating…

You don’t buy DRM-enabled music — you rent it.

Imagine buying a music CD, only to find that you can play it at home but not in your car or at work.   Or what if the CD did play in your car, but only for a limited time?   Well this is nearly exactly the sort of limitations placed on DRM-enabled (or as some say, “DRM-infected”) music that you "purchase" from online music services.   These services place tight limits on how you can backup or make copies of music you’ve paid for.   Perhaps worse, they also reserve the right to change what you can do with the music you’ve purchased — at any time.   Some music sites offer the tempting option of unlimited downloads for a monthly subscription fee but are a bit coy about mentioning that if you miss a monthly payment, the DRM renders the downloaded music unplayable.   So, what have you bought?   Well, nothing.

Defeating DRM is all about awareness and DefectiveByDesign.org has declared October 3rd as a “Day Against DRM” as part of an international movement to protect consumer rights.

And remember that DRM doesn’t only affect you if you pay to download music. Last year, Sony’s Rootkit Debacle caused quite a stir when Sony BMG music CDs were sneaking spyware onto unsuspecting users’ PCs.   Sadly, uninstalling the spyware opened up gaping security holes and caused serious stability issue with some PCs.

Quick tip:
Windows users can avoid getting nailed by this sort of malicious copy-protection software by simply holding down on the left shift key when you insert a CD into your PC, thereby preventing it from autolaunching.


When the Museum Closes – Take II

Almost 2 years ago, I stumbled across an animation by Warwick Mellow that served as a thesis project for his studies on kinesiology in 3D computer animation. I had blogged about this awesome animated short back then and had since noticed that blog entry was getting lots of search hits & traffic. But somewhere along the way, the original page I had referenced moved and I wasn’t able to find it again, so I removed the blog entry a few months ago to save some Googlers a bit of frustration.

Well, I was amazed to discover (only yesterday!) that Dede had a copy of the ‘lost’ dancing statue of Pan video file. Not only that, but I also found that the artist’s original site is once again available. You can go to his site to read all about this project and watch the streaming Quicktime video.

Update:   Well, his site is down again, but you can click here to see Warwick Mellow’s answer to the question, “What do statues do at night when the lights are out and nobody is looking?”

Warwick Mellow's Dancing Pan

Bowled Over

We just got back from a great outdoor concert at Dos Amigos. Dos has been bringing lots of rock to town this Summer, so we’re all for supporting them whenever possible. (And they’ve got Candlebox coming next month!)

Tonight’s concert featured Bowling for Soup on their “Get Happy” tour. BFS is from Wichita Falls, Texas and they put on a good show. They’re very cool about autographs — Dede got Jaret Reddick (the lead singer) to sign her ticket stub.

We also enjoyed the first warm-up band, Army of Freshmen, a punk-pop group from Ventura, California.

Rapper Rant & Gangsta Poses

Brad with guns in a gangsta poseTrey & I recently pondered why it is that the vast majority of the Hip-Hop "musicians" like 50 Cent, P. Diddy, et al. seem so pissed off, miserable, or just plain constipated?   I mean, c’mon, how unhappy can you justify being if the most challenging part of your day is hauling around $2mil of platinum & diamond jewelry while "bustin’ a rhyme?"   Not sure what I mean?   Click here, here, or here, for a few perfect examples of this.   I’m thinking maybe if they’d pawn off some "bling" and snag a Happy Meal, some of these thugs might just be able to crack a smile…

After all, if we’ve gotta tolerate these jokers bilking most of the Gen Y population out of every last dime on degrading stuff that’s (generally) about as sophisticated as Mother Goose nursery rhymes, can’t we at least demand that they smile big all the way to the bank?

At any rate, it seemed only fitting (fo’ shizzle!) to show Trey proudly assuming the "gangsta" pose that works so well ($$) for rappers & Hip-Hop tough-guy wannabes.

Swap CDs for an iPod

Been jonesin’ for an iPod but jolly ol’ Saint Nick didn’t see fit to bring you one? Well, according to Jeff Smykil over at Ars Technica, you may still be in luck. Millennium, an independant music store in Charleston, SC, is offering a trade-in program where you can swap your old music CDs for an iPod. The trade-in ratio ranges from 45 (for a 512 MB iPod Shuffle) to 175 CDs (for a 60 GB iPod). Note that the CDs you trade-in must be in good shape and have the original jewel case and liner notes.

The Consumer Backlash Against Sony

Boycott Sony bannerY’know, I’m all about spreading the good word about businesses and companies who treat their customers right.   For example, is there anyone who hasn’t heard me sing praises of Best Cleaners?   If you’re local (you know who you are) and have clothes that need to be "dry cleaned," these folks truly do live up to their name.

Likewise, companies who don’t treat their customers right should get their just desserts too.   There’s been a tremendous buzz lately over Sony and their malicious "rootkit" DRM scheme.   Watchdog advocates are calling for consumers to speak their minds during this holiday season — in the language of currency!

Foxtrot Takes Aim at the Sony DRM Debacle

Dunno how I managed to be so unaware of Bill Amend’s Foxtrot syndicated comic strip.   I’ve glanced at it in the Sunday paper a few times but never really paid much attention, but this one caught my eye:

Bill Amend's Nov. 21, 2005 Foxtrot strip

Bill, it turns out, is a techie geek at heart and really hit the nail on the head with this jab at the whole Sony DRM scandal.   I lifted this right off of Jody Cairns’ blog site Steel White Table, so it seemed only right to at least give him credit for the find.

If you’ve followed along you know how much I love music, but am fiercely opposed to the whole DRM thing.   I know lots of people will be getting MP3 players for Christmas this year (Hint: Go iPod!), so take a little time to educate yourself on the digital music scene and, in particular, this DRM stuff before it has a chance to cause you a bunch of grief.

Quick Tip:
You can avoid getting nailed by the sort of malicious copy-protection software that’s giving Sony such a black eye by simply holding down on the left Shift key when you insert a CD into your PC, thereby preventing it from autolaunching.   Dede found out the hard way about rootkits with a Dido CD recently.


A Star is Born

We just got back from San Angelo where Amberly performed in her first rock concert at the Oasis Lounge. Her band Acid Ego, was made up of 3 girls and 2 guys all from her Rock 101 music class. They did a AWESOME job and the set list included: I Love Rock ‘n Roll, Wild Thing, Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door, Warning and an original song by Amberly. I’m sure this is the first of many more concerts to come for Amberly. Rock on “A”… your fans love ya!!!!

Amberly Rocks!