iTunes music store to sell EMI tracks without DRM

The first crack in the DRM’ed content wall!

EMI, the smallest of the ‘big four’ labels, have inked a deal with Apple to offer tracks via the iTunes music store without copy protection.

This is H U G E!

Assuming they don’t pull some other shinagins this means that you’ll be able to download tracks into iTunes and then move them between computers, iPods, burn to CD, etc. without limitation.  You’ll still likely have to convert the tracks to MP3 if you want to play it on some portable device other than an iPod but that’s a small inconvenience.

Hurray to EMI!

EMI-Apple pen deal to sell songs – CNN.com

Paper or… umm… paper?

San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors have approved a city-wide ban on plastic bags from supermarkets.

I am constantly surprised at the reaction I receive when I ask for paper bags rather at the grocery store.  I often get the ‘why would you want to do that?’ look from the high-school aged droid working the register.  I sometimes get the deep ‘oh-no-he-didn’t, this old fart is going to make me reach down below the counter and drag out those dingy paper bag things that give me paper cuts’ look.

To which I return my ‘I’m doing this to save the World for insipid, ungrateful little wretches like you so just drop the ‘tude and do what I say’ look.

Our little household of two adults generates one small bag of ‘trash’ weekly.  Yes, the bag is plastic but in this case it is justified.  We’re not always real good at eating all the leafy veggies we buy and what remains after they have been in the ‘frigde for awhile is a fifth state of matter; not exactly liquid, not quite solid, but with a significant gaseous component.  Anyway, to dispose of that in a paper bag would be… umm…  impossible.

However, when recycle day comes along bi-weekly we put out two heaping bins of ‘stuff’.  Our recyclables outweigh our trash by a factor of 15.  Our town is also in the enviable position of getting paid for each pound of recyclable material that is picked up.   So not only are we saving the World for insipid, ungrateful little wretches we’re also lowing our tax bill.

San Francisco to ban plastic grocery bags – CNN.com

Put another CF on the bhharbie mate!

I visited Australia 12+  years ago and found it to be a beautiful place with welcoming people.  However, I  discovered a mindset that I likened to the Wild West days of the US; a deep seated biggotry against the native peoples and a belief that all natural resources were infinate.  It seems they have gotten over at least the second bit.

Too bad the bulbs over the heads of our ‘government’ have already burnt out and are therefore incapable of new ideas.

Australia to ban old-style light bulbs

Interesting piece on hard disk temp & utilization contributing to failure

This piece covers a finding by Google engineers that in some ways contradicts commonly heald beliefs that high temperatures and/or high utilization will cause a hard disk to fail sooner.

Basically, they found that there is a weak coorelation between temp and failure rates. It also found that drives up to 3 years old that are used infrequently are more likely to fail than those that have a high utilization.

They also found that a drive with any scan errors (surface errors) is 39 times more likely to fail than a drive with none.

What I took away was this:
– Expect to replace drives after 3 years
– If a drive is showing scan errors, replace it.
– Don’t worry so much about temp & ‘thrashing’.

BBC NEWS | Technology | Hard disk test ‘surprises’ Google

Here is a direct link to the paper itself:  http://216.239.37.132/papers/disk_failures.pdf

I have petabyte envy…

300 10Gbps network ports, 1Gpbs to each desktop, and over 300TB of disk storage…  Whoa…

CNet has done a short piece on the Lucasfilm datacenter.  I found two things very interesting about this operation.  First, they have a very short time horizon on technology with some of it consider ‘legacy’ within 6 – 7 months.  The second is that they put a high value on performance per watt of electricty.

As our machines become more powerful it takes more power to operate them.  That power turns to heat which then takes even more power to remove lest the machine pull a China Syndrome.  AMD has long been a leader in creating power-efficient CPUs but Intel has recently gotten some religion about it and now isn’t far behind.

I’m a big fan of AMD (as is LucasFilms it turns out with 198 dual-core, dual-processor Opteron machines) for this reason as well as they are generally cheaper per CPU cycle than Intel.

Inside the Lucasfilm data center | CNET News.com

Windows Vista Content Protection – Twenty Questions (and Answers)

I’m reminded of a line from the original Star Wars movie “The more you tighten your grip the more systems will slip through your fingers.”

DRM is the grip holding the ‘premium commercial content’ (is there ‘premium content’ that isn’t commercial?) hostage in your PC releasing only when you and your PC are deemed worthy to watch it/listen to it. Vista brings this grip to an entirely new tightness, grabbing your PC by the silicon and squeezing.

Regardless of how much MS uses the term ‘enabling’ to describe the new DRM ‘features’ in Vista doesn’t change the fact that they are adding complexity and resource requirements that do nothing but benefit content creators.  Why should I pay extra (in the form of compliant hardware and resource utilization) for something I’m very likely to never use?

This behavior only emboldens those that these protections are meant to thwart; content pirates.  They are trying to battle basic human nature; the more you try to control a ‘vice’ the more people will try to outwit/ignore/topple that control.  This will only stop the dumb pirates, the smart ones will hire a Chinese professor or two to break the system and keep on churning out pirate discs at a fraction of what the studios/labels charge.

The end result is that the consumers pay to make to the pirates smarter.  Ouch.

Windows Vista Team Blog : Windows Vista Content Protection – Twenty Questions (and Answers)

Digital Media and whatever else flows through my head…