If you oppose this then…

December 29th, 2011

Stop Online Piracy Act, Protect IP Act, Digital Economies Act.

All sound like good things, don’t they? You’d have to be a pirate, thief or criminal of some sort to oppose one of these things yeah?

Of course you would. Or, that’s what we are told. You can’t oppose this legislation, it protects people. That is what we are told time and time again. Well, we shall not fall for that. We shall not be bullied into agreeing with your crappy rules that make no sense.

In America, there is a big fight happening about the SOPA and PIPA legislations that are trying to be pushed through into law. And last year, in Britain, the DEAct was pushed through in the run up to the 2010 General Election. We are told that these will protect jobs. They will protect legitimate jobs, and punish those who do wrong. Now, there are 2 main issues here:

  • Piracy costs money and jobs

This is the second issue people normally come to when we come across this issue, but IMO, it is the main one. There are a number of people who pirate things

  1. Those who can’t afford.
  2. Those who don’t want to pay because they feel entitled to content.
  3. Those who are against the “man”.
  4. Those who can afford but want to try it out first.

For both 2 and 3, these people will never pay. If they didn’t get the things illegally, they wouldn’t pay. They never will. There is no point in fighting these people because either they will continue to get your stuff or they won’t. Lost causes, all of them. And yeah, I agree that these people are doing wrong things. But theres no point. Such a waste of time and money.

For 1, the only way to solve this is by giving them more money. So stop wasting money on ridiculous bills like this.

For number 4, they are the people who spend more money on content than people who don’t pirate. They already give you loads of money, and they aren’t going to give you more if they can’t get their tasters. They might even spend less.

 

So, basically…I don’t believe that piracy costs money or jobs. If you can prove that people would buy it if they can’t get it illegally, then I’ll retract my statement. But I think its rubbish.

  • We have to break the internet

This is the other issue. Which, to be honest, is kinda moot after my last statement. But even if you do take the stance that it needs to be stopped, for goodness sake think about this properly. This is whack-a-mole. You can’t get rid of these sites by breaking DNS (and no matter what Lamar Smith says, this is breaking DNS) at all. You have to go after the route cause. Most films are pirated before they are even released in the cinema. How does this happen? Inside jobs. Go after your own people for goodness sake.

I’m a man with a website that has copyrighted material. My domain disappears. What happens? Most of my clients are clever enough to find ways around it. And if they aren’t, well…I set up another domain, or I tell people an IP address to get to. Etc etc. They are probably all following me on twitter, Facebook, google+, identica, etc. Think you can stop this by taking domains off the internet? Really? In that case you are insane.

 

In summary…there is no need to do this, and even if there is, this is the wrong way to go. For goodness sake, spend all that money you are spending this on important things. The American government could spend the money on getting rid of their TRILLION DOLLARS OF DEBT. And the industries could spend the money on making better films? Or maybe helping people who are starving in this world while you are worrying about a few 15-year-old getting a free copy of your film. Boo hoo for you.

My main point is, stop with these Bill names that are a way of saying “This is good, no matter what it says, if you oppose it you are a criminal.” I’m fed up of it.

To patent or not to patent

September 3rd, 2011

We have recently heard of a bunch of new patents from Apple. Now, don’t get this as being an Apple bashing post, this is a stupid patent bashing post. Lets have a look at, first of all, what patents were designed for in the first place.

If you have been reading tech blogs over the last few months, or listening to pretty much any TwiT or Sixgun (yeah, that’s right, I put them in the same category now ;-) ) podcast, you will have heard the opinion that patents were origionally invented to encourage openness.

Now, there is many an opinion that patents are there to protect people from their ideas being stolen. But, it appears that patents were, infact, designed to encourage people to tell the world how they did this, and in return they got a temporary monopoly on this particular technology. Now, however, patents seem to be a way to get as many obvious things as possibly patented so you can make lots of money…

Lets take some of the new patents from Apple as an example:

Now, maybe its just me…but where on earth does taking a widespread technology, and putting it on another widespread technology make it unique and patentable? Now, I’m not an expert in legalese, but from reading the patent document, it seems like they are just saying “We will stick a solar charger on our devices…”.

An apparatus for operating a portable electronic device, comprising: a voltage converter having an input and an output, wherein the input is capable of being coupled to a solar power source and the output is capable of being coupled to a portable electronic device, and wherein the voltage converter is configured to convert solar power received from the solar power source to power the portable electronic device

I have a solar battery charger. If you consider a portable battery charger as a “portable electronic device”, then this describes my battery charger almost exactly. What on earth is unique about this patent? Connecting a solar panel to an electronic device is not new, innovative or clever…

Do I need to say anything about this one? Digital cameras have done this for about 10 years…I’m sorry but this one is ridiculous.

Erm…I don’t really understand this one, I’ll be honest. Are they just saying making a peripheral do soemthing automatically when you plug it in? This seems extremely vague and the complete opposite of revolutionary.

Right, finally we are actually at something that is more possibly patentable. However, lets think about this. Apple technically already have a patent for cover flow in general. Not getting into whether or not this is a decent patent, it shouldn’t be patentable a second time. Using video instead of pictures is not a hugely revolutionary step, and if it is, its already been done.

You could argue quite easily that cover flow is now an “obvious” thing because its been around for such a long time. Heck, I have a coverflow style window switcher on my Linux desktop. Google has it in their new music app. Etc etc, and Apple isn’t pursuing anyone around these patents, so clearly it agrees with me that it is obvious. Therefore, using video in this way (which the netflix app on google tv uses) is not really revolutionary.

 

Ok, there are 3 problems with all of these patents. None of them are revolutionary, none of them actually are in a working product from Apple, and they are all generic “ideas”. For a patent to be patentable, they should be new and revolutionary, they should have at least a working prototype not a vague wishy washy “we might do this in this sort of way…”, and they should be specific implementations, not vague ideas. This is just getting ridiculous and the system needs an overhaul, if not a complete scrap. But at least an overhaul…

Paper: a dying relic, or here for a long time to come?

September 1st, 2011

We are in an interesting, yet confusing time, of transition. We have various types of people in the world currently:

  • People who primarily use paper, for books, for writing things on, etc etc
  • People who use a combination. They might own a kindle, yet have lots of paper books. They might use email yet still send letters. They might use google docs yet still print out to read or send to people.
  • People who primarily don’t use paper (someone like me) who hardly have any paper books, doesn’t own a printer, and its a once a year time that he actually recieves a letter…

This leads us into a fascinating time of variety and choice. Yet it leads to annoyance in many people’s eyes.

For example, if I am handing in a uni paper to someone, how do I do it? Well, it depends on the lecturer. Some lecturers like us to email them the papers, or put them online in our VLE. However, some like us to print it out and hand it physically into the office. This leads to the constant weekly thing of “how are we handing this one in?”, and, frankly, I spend far too much time doing that.

Let me take another example…books. If I were to want to buy a book, generally I would have to get it in paper, as most of the books that I would want are not in any electronic format. If I want a uni textbook…I must buy it physically. Which is an annoyance for me as I don’t want that. Sure, I may be able to get it in an illegal form on my computer (there was an example where one of the textbooks that we used last year was circulating through the class in a pdf) but we can’t get them, in general, legally.

This leads us to the question, “Will paper be with us for a long time, or will it just go away please?”. I think that it depends on what paper is used for. In general, paper will be with us for a long time, but for some things it just makes sense not to have paper at all.

Back to the example of books, do I want a bookshelf full of 100 books, or a nice little e-reader that fits in my bag with everything on it? I know the answer to that one. Same with textbooks. I just got rid of 25 Chemistry and Chemical Engineering textbooks, and they were taking up so much space in my room, which I really can’t be bothered with. So, actually in my Computer Science course I have only ever bought 1 textbook, because I just can’t be bothered with the space. In this way, I believe that paper will dissapear. Or at least books will become a rarity. Much like vinyl, tape and many other technologies, it will become a niche thing. Sure, it’ll still exist, but the majority of people will love the convenience over anything else.

I have at least 2 women in my life who both love books, and they will continue to argue with me about this. They think that paper books will continue to be important in everyone’s lives, but they are the exact type of people who will keep buying books. They are the book enthusiasts. Much like vinyl, film and tape enthusiasts, they will continue to say that their way of doing it is better while the rest of the world starts to ignore them.

There is nothing wrong with this, I am going to have to live with books because 1 of these women is my girlfriend, and I accept this. But generally the rest of the world doesn’t care about it. They want convenience over anything else. They always do.

Launching Alistotle.co.uk

May 24th, 2011

This is just a quick post to officially launch my new blog, http://www.alistotle.co.uk – it will focus on more theological, philosophical and ethical issues, which occasionally will involve technology. If you only want to know about the computery posts, then don’t follow the new blog as I will cross post those to my current blog, http://www.10people.co.uk.

So, say hello to my new blog, and that’s all :-)

 

**UPDATE** – Turns out my cross posting doesn’t currently work, but the blog is still published…will update when this is fixed. Not just now though, I’m going to bed….

**UPDATE 2** – I managed to fix the issue only 4 months after initially posting this. Now this should be posted on 10people.co.uk as well :-)