(criminal) The irony of Sony DRM

Just over a year ago, the Sony rootkit DRM scandal broke, depicting how an arrogant Sony BMG had chosen to subvert the security of millions of PCs in order to protect their intellectual property through DRM. If an individual had done it, this would be considered a serious crime, but Sony got away with what amounts to little more than a slap on the wrist.

Like many like-minded people, I started a personal boycott of all Sony products from then on. I had never bought Sony stuff before anyway -- too little bang for the buck, if you ask me -- so this was only a symbolic gesture.

Recently, I wanted to buy a small, mains-operated, single-piece (no separate speakers) table-top stereo with a digital FM tuner. All other features were negotiable/optional.

After weeks of searching, literally the only brand that offered anything like this turned out to be a Sony. Since the boycott was over a year old, I gritted my teeth and bought it....

...and found the following text in the user manual:

Music discs encoded with copyright protection technologies

This product is designed to playback discs that conform to the Compact Disc (CD) standard. Recently, various music discs encoded with copyright protection technologies are marketed by some record companies. Please be aware that among those discs, there are some that do not confirm to the CD standard and may not be playable by this product.



It is so cool...

...to have a son who's taller and handsomer than me :-) And I see his lanky figure, slightly stooped like many tall people are, and flashback to how he was when he was born, and at 2, and at 4, and all sorts of other memories...

Man, what a rush!

Note to myself: go see a psychiatrist. Second non-technical blog-post in as many weeks, Something seriously wrong...


DNA - After Hrs - Tom Cruise tops least favourite poll - Daily News & Analysis


Hollywood superstar Tom Cruise is trying his best to change his image but most Americans still consider him too strange and have voted him the least favourite star in a recent poll.

Only 12 percent of respondents said they would make a big effort to watch any of his movies and 34 percent said they would not see one at all [emphasis mine - Sita]. They were creeped out by his passion for Scientology, reports pagesix.com.

Good to know there are people like me in the US too :-)

Now why can't Americans show the same good sense and intelligence when selecting presidents?


(malware,DRM,quotes) CIO Blogs - Musings on Vista


Another great article from my favourite CIO columnist. Again, nothing we haven't read in other places, but he brings it together very succinctly and clearly.

Some quotes [text in brackets is mine]:

Overall, Microsoft delivers client operating systems whose virtues make end users happy and whose vices cause problems for IT.


It's addressed some of the problems in XP in ways that end users are likely to see as intrusive and inconvenient. In other words, they've bandaged their vices in ways that will wound their virtues, which is a poor strategy.


There's only one problem with this situation [Trusted Computing] -- changing hardware will break the end-to-end chain of security and result in an inability to access the data (see here, particularly page 2, for an interesting discussion of the implications of Trusted Computing and hardware).


I would hate to be the IT help desk person who has to explain to an end user that because the motherboard of the computer went on the fritz and the backup encryption keys aren't available, all data on the machine is lost.


I know that no end user is going to see this functionality [DRM] as helpful in his or her daily life. This seems like functionality put into the system not to serve the actual user, but to appease a powerful constituency that, through money and legislation, can bring more pressure to bear than can individual users. I predict an uproar around DRM when Vista rolls out, and a widespread rejection of new-gen media on PCs due to the onerous requirements.


Love and Marriage

The other day there was a toastmasters club meeting in the office, where one of the table topics was "Love before Marriage, or Marriage before Love?"

My first question, considering both my sense of humour and the fact that I'm an incorrigible flirt, was "does it have to be with the same person?"

Good joke. Or was it a joke? Maybe I was serious ;-)

But it got me thinking. A lot of my younger friends have just gotten married or are about to take the plunge, and -- while I will always behave like an immature, childish, almost juvenile, brat, and I will always be proud of it -- I can't really escape the fact that I am actually 44.

So here're some thoughts on the subject, and some free advice. Buddha had the great insight that desire is the root of all suffering. In terms of human relationships, I'm sure the specific desire is the desire for importance. Also called ego :-)

And everyone knows that ego comes from being insecure. [And no, I don't mean that type of "insecure"!]

It seems to me that, in terms of relationships, there are 4 types of people in this world.

  1. most insecure: no deep feelings at all, even if she seems very friendly and vivacious to a casual observer. Will never trust anyone enough to open up or appear vulnerable. Always on her guard.

    Love before marriage? No way! Just hope that there will be some love after marriage. And pray that she marries at least a type 3 or a type 4!

  2. somewhat insecure: has feelings and is capable of lots of love, but is very very guarded. Can morph temporarily into type 1 if there's a problem! Won't tell anyone when she's hurt -- swallows it all and burns up inside.

    Sounds like a stereo-typical girl? Believe me, I've seen guys like this too!

    Love before marriage only with a type 3 or a type 4.

  3. still a little insecure: enough that he can't admit it even to himself :-) Projects an overwhelming image of confidence and mastery over everything.

    Finds it very difficult to say "I need you" to anyone. In fact, anything sentimental is accompanied by a joke -- sort of like an escape clause!

    Even a type 2 may wonder if he has any feelings at all. But if you're a type 4, you will quite easily see that he needs you but just isn't saying it, and that he does have feelings deep down but will not show them, and so you'll probably be fine!

    Most definitely "love before marriage" material, but he won't push it if things don't work out, so he may well end up with an arranged marriage. Just hope it's not to a type 1 :-(

  4. hardly any insecurity: can happily, without an ounce of diffidence or reluctance, tell someone "I need you" :-) You always know where you are with him. Cannot hide his feelings if his life depended on it.

    Appears to be much more vulnerable than the others because he gets hurt easily, but that's only because his hurts are more visible, and he has no qualms about telling you he's hurt. In fact the other types are more vulnerable, because they can get hurt and not even realise it themselves :-(

    This type can't even think about "marriage before love" without breaking into a sweat :-) It has to be "love before marriage".

No prizes for guessing which combinations are better than others :-)

In fact, it is my theory that in every love marriage there is at least one type 4, or both type 3. Other combinations do not seem capable of leading to what is usually thought of as a love marriage.

And I'm not saying type 4 is the best or type 3 is better than type 2, etc., in the long run. One you get married there're all kinds of behavioural traits and attitudes that you don't see earlier, and that will drive you up the wall regardless of what "type" the person is -- carelessless, forgetfulness, attitudes towards money or work, family, importance of parents, religiousness, etc., etc., etc., ad infinitum.

Many of those aspects can be just as important as ego.


(religion) The Dilbert Blog: Atheists: The New Gays


Best quote:

Ask a deeply religious Christian if he’d rather live next to a bearded Muslim that may or may not be plotting a terror attack, or an atheist that may or may not show him how to set up a wireless network in his house. On the scale of prejudice, atheists don’t seem so bad lately.
And yes, he was joking about Bill Gates running for President. I'm sure of it...