Category Archives: tech

Apple has the ballsiest lawyers in the world

Pax Arcana

iphoneMy love of the iPhone has been well documented on this site, and has only grown since the invention of the iPhonesaber and the espresso maker application (Note — not a real application in any way, shape or form).

I believe the iPod and iPhone are devices of revolutionary impact on the gadgeting public. But what truly sets Apple apart, in my opinion, is the company’s gargantuan brushed metal testicles.

Consider the following argument, delivered in court to defend Apple against charges that it misled customers with TV advertisements that claimed the new 3G iPhone was “twice as fast for half the price” when compared to the original version:

“Plaintiff’s claims, and those of the purported class, are barred by the fact that the alleged deceptive statements were such that no reasonable person in Plaintiff’s position could have reasonably relied on or misunderstood Apple’s statements as claims of fact.”

In other words, no one in their right mind would believe that just because we say the device is “twice as fast for half the price,” we actually meant it was twice as fast for half the price. I mean, that’s just crazy!

Apple: Our Ads Don’t Lie, But You’re a Fool if You Believe Them [Wired]

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Oh it’s on now…

Pax Arcana

Those of you familiar with Father Scott’s weak wristed slaps in my direction are aware that I am an iPhone user and unapologetic evangelist of the device.

And now I can finally post to Pax Arcana from my phone, thanks to the nifty new iPhone interface those nerds at WordPress have bestowed upon us.

The bad news is that pictures, links, and other bloggy features are still out of the question. The good news is that I can now blog directly from the toilet seat. Expect lots of updates.

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Wii Fit looks great with anything from Ikea

Pax Arcana

From the makers of the big ass table video comes a sensible look at the Wii Fit goofiness.

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The death of DRM draws nigh

Pax Arcana

Maybe I’m just a yellow-bellied namby pamby pollyanna goody-two-shoes (insert more 1950s insults for cowardice here), but I am not in favor of downloading unlicensed music from the Internet. Call me crazy, but working in the publishing industry has me conditioned to think people should pay for what they consume in one fashion or another.

At the same time, I am firmly against DRM — which for those who don’t follow this stuff closely — stands for Digital Rights Management. DRM is essentially software that is encoded into the music sold on many legal music outlets — such as iTunes — that prevents it from being copied.

The problem with DRM is that even after you spend the money to buy a song or album, you are still limited in what you can do with it. DRM is why you can’t make copies of music you buy on iTunes or put it on a non-Apple device, for example. This makes people like me angry. It’s an exploitative attempt to lock you into buying more products from a particular company down the road.

The good news is that some major online outlets have come around to public distaste for DRM, and are beginning to offer music in DRM-free formats such as MP3.

I get most of my music in the form of MP3s from eMusic. I pay a $15/month subscription fee in exchange for 50 downloads. That amounts to about 4 albums of music per month, which would cost me at least $40 at iTunes. The only problem with eMusic is that while it boasts hundreds of the best indie bands out there, mainstream acts with major record deals are not to be found there.

Fortunately, Amazon.com recently struck a deal with many of the major record companies that allows them to offer MP3s on its site. Better yet, full albums are typically $2 – $3 cheaper than they are on iTunes, meaning you are getting a legal product of superior quality (in terms of your potential reuse) for less.

Now comes news that Wal-Mart is jumping on the MP3 bandwagon. According to Wired (via Techdirt) the retail behemoth has abandoned its DRM in favor of the reusable standard MP3 format. Wal-Mart had been selling music on its Web site that was protected by Microsoft-designed DRM. That technology prevented those songs from being played on iPods. Which, if you haven’t heard, are pretty popular.

Anyway, the Wired article says artists on the Sony/BMG label will not be available for download — presumably because Wal-Mart hasn’t worked out a multi-million dollar licensing deal with them.

But anyone who covers the business world at any level knows that Wal-Mart can be a powerful force for change, good and bad. Even in the relatively soft-goods world of online media sales, I’m betting Wal-Mart’s enormous gravitational pull will help bring in the tide on DRM.

Now back to our regularly scheduled making fun of scientists and old people.

Wal-Mart Abandons Windows DRM, Sony/BMG and Warner [Wired]

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The escalators are trying to kill our old people

Pax Arcana

The New York Times today reports a dramatic rise in the rate of escalator attacks against old people. In fact, the yearly rate of escalator injuries increased more than 100% from 1991 to 2005 — to an average of 2,660 sweet old ladies per year:

Nobody knows why the rate is rising. “Perhaps the exposure is greater than it was in 1991,” said the study’s lead author, Dr. Joseph O’Neil, an associate professor of pediatrics at Indiana University. “We don’t know if there are more escalators, but there are certainly more active older adults.”


Welcome to hell. Please use the hand rail.

Also, they always put the Friendly’s on the second floor of the mall.

Dr. O’Neil’s report cautions older people to use care when riding the mechanized death traps. At any time, he said, the steel jaws of misfortune can clamp down on your velcro shoes and drag you, bloodied and wailing, into the fiery pit of H-E-doublehockeysticks.

Senior citizens especially are encouraged to get their affairs in order before engaging in any way with technology — especially mechanized conveyances, robots, VCRs, and the eBays. Danger lurks around every corner.

Escalator Injuries Rise in Older Adults [New York Times]

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New service will scrub bad comments about you off the Internets

Pax Arcana

the_internet.jpgAre you a douchebag? A loser? A slut? A total fucknozzle?

Yes?

Has anyone pointed that out on the Internets?

Yes?

Then you, my douchey fucknozzle friend, may be a prime candidate for Complaint Remover, a new service that promises to sneak in the back door of the Internets (also known as the World Wide Internet) and push links to sites calling you mean things to the bottom of the Interpile. Or something. It’s technical. It’s like search engine optimization (SEO) only in reverse.

The mischievous lads at Consumerist got wind of this operation and decided to have a little fun with Complaint Remover. They pretended to be the proprietors of a cat breeding Web site and asked if the adorable LOLcats of such popular sites as I Can Has Cheezburger? could be wiped off the face of the Internet forever.

The end result is awesome hilarity and other general awesomeness. Here’s a few samples from the online chat with a customer service rep from the company:

CLIENT: I have a cat breeding business and people keep making pictures of cats with derogatory phrases on them
CLIENT: It’s hampering my ability to attract new clients
Kelly: just a seccond please
Kelly: ok
Kelly: wich one of those you want to be pushed back ?
CLIENT: let
CLIENT: ‘s see
CLIENT: this one is very bad
CLIENT: http://icanhascheezburger.files.wordpress.com/2007/01/ceilingcat9xd.jpg

ceilingcatmasturbate.jpg

Also, the “client” would very much like the below photo removed from the Internet — for safety’s sake — and gets an affirmative from the rep:

invisiblebike.jpg

CLIENT: Not only is it blocking people from my site, it promotes dangerous cat behavior
Kelly: can i have you name and you phone please
CLIENT: I’m just looking for a price quote, I don’t want to get in your telemarketing database yet
Kelly: i cant tell you a price..
Kelly: for that you ahve tu discuss with my manager
Kelly: he will call you if you will provide me your name
Kelly: and your phone number
CLIENT: Ok, I understand, but do you think I have a case? Will you be able to push these disgusting “LOLcats” off the internets so people can find my cat breeding page?
Kelly: we can help you with that

I, for one, plan to sue Complaint Remover itself for stealing my business idea. Back in 2003 I secured the domain names http://www.thefirstamendmentisoverrated.com and http://www.ithinkyourestupidjustgivemeyourmoneynow.org. I shall expect my settlement directly, sirs.

Complaint Remover Gets Rid Of “Negative Links,” Including LOLCats [Consumerist]
Complaint Remover [Home]

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The RIAA had this whole “digital piracy” thing whipped in 1997

MediaLoper points to an interesting reminiscence from the tail end of our college years — the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA)’s endless succession anti-piracy “breakthroughs” that later turned out to be laughably inept.

In January of 1997, for example, the RIAA announced that it had developed technology that would prevent unauthorized copying of CDs on a CD burner:

executives.jpgAt a meeting of the multi-industry DVD Copyright Protection Technical Working Group (CPTWG) in San Jose today, the Recording Industry Association of America unveiled a prototype software module to prevent the unauthorized copying of copyrighted CDs on computers. The RIAA’s system is designed to work with a CD-ROM recorder and implementing software to read the copyright flags already present in prerecorded CDs, thus preventing unauthorized copying, but can be easily adapted to work with other types of devices such as a DVD recorder coupled to a computer.

Bang up job, guys. As MediaLoper points out, the world could have been much worse had the RIAA not succeeded so brilliantly:

I can only imagine the sort of chaos the recording industry might have gone through over the last decade if the RIAA hadn’t been so sophisticated in its understanding of the Internet, and its use of technology.

So, next time you pop your favorite CD into your RIAA approved CD player, pause for a moment and thank the RIAA. Without them we wouldn’t have music. And pirates would rule the world.

Great Moments in RIAA History: January 1997, RIAA Develops System To Prevent CD Copying [MediaLoper]

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