The Copyright Failure

27. March, 2012

And another of my long list of copyright posts. Can’t let it rest for some reason.

Copyright failed. As Larry Lessig said in his TED talk: Every view in the digital age is a copy. Watch a DVD and the computer/box/whatever is going to make 5 to 100 (temporary) digital copies of the movie before it is displayed on the screen: In the laser pickup, in the buffer chips that connect the laser to the system, in memory to decode the video stream, in various post processing filters, in the buffer chips that transfer the signal to the TV set, and several copies in the TV set to further improve the picture.

Let me drive this home: In this day and age, you have to break the law to watch movies and listen to music because the law says: You must not make any copies. Not even one.

The message: Standard usage of movies and music (watching, listening) is illegal under today’s copyright law. Which means we’re all serial offenders.

Or the other way around: We’re breaking the law so often, that we have concluded it’s optional. An important lesson that we inherit to our kids.

Maybe we can attack this the other way around: Why is the content industry failing? Because they sell a product in a way nobody wants.

I love to watch movies, read books and listen to music. I just don’t want to too much pay for something that I can get in better quality, faster and for free. Why do I have to wait six months to see US TV series? Why do I have to watch commercials? Why do I have to buy the album when I want a single track? Why do I have to buy the music at all when I just want to listen to it? Why do I have to watch TV at certain times?

Because no one is selling me the service I want. It’s not impossible. The “pirates” have made all this possible and for free, too. It’s just that the content industry has strangled itself too many contracts.

How is their mess our fault?

You want our money? Change.

Not convinced? Watch this: Rob Reid: The $8 billion iPod

Embarrassing Security Failure at PayPal

26. March, 2012

PayPal is one of the places who really care about security.

But even they were vulnerable to XSS type of attacks using the search feature (see this article for details).

At the moment, I’m not sure if that’s more embarrassing or frightening. Sure, it’s shameful but when even those guys don’t get it right … who can?

Hero Of Today: Armin Köhli

25. March, 2012

The news are full of tragic mishaps, violence and sadness. Many people believe that the world today is worse when it isn’t. Mortality is way down, we have fewer wars with fewer casualties, illiteracy is going down and access to clean water and healthy food is becoming better. We just don’t know because that’s not news, it’s boring.

So in an attempt to be different, I’d like to tell you about a hero. Someone not afraid to talk to terrorists – at least not enough to not talk to them. This man is Armin Köhli.

He’s disabled – both his lower legs are missing. And like many of his kind, he’s extraordinary in some way: He makes the world a better place. Not only by giving an example or thinking about it, he actually does. How?

He talks to terrorists.

Sounds stupid? Maybe. But I can’t fail to notice that the “War on Terrorisn’t such a huge success so far. A lot of people died, a lot of money was spent, a lot of ammunition was fired. The situation in the Near East has changed but to the better? Not according to the news I see every evening. If it was funny, I’d say Facebook had more of an impact on the situation.

But this isn’t about failures, this is about success. So Armin talks to the “bad guys”. Does he threaten them? No. Buy them? Nope. Arrest them? Not at all. So what does he do?

He asks questions. Like this one: What can you do to improve the situation for the civilians in your area?

No threat, accusation or guilt.

I believe that a terrorist is a person who has (or thinks he has) been mistreated. Basically, they want justice – sounds familiar. Not many bad people are born, most are made by abusing them, torturing them, killing their loved ones and denying them any kind of retaliation. In the western world, we don’t have to car bomb because we have a justice system. We can sue. We can complain.

It’s silly to approach a terrorist and say: “Stand down, you’re a criminal.” If your brother was killed, no one cared, and then the police came to arrest you, because you just wouldn’t stop complaining, what would you do?

But if they have been the victim of injustice, you can ask them the question above. Terrorists, driven by a deep sense of justice, simply can’t say no to such a question.

It’s slow work. It takes someone with backbone and determination to do it.

Thanks, Armin and thanks to Geneva Call, the organization who makes this happen and more.

If you want to know more, visit their website. If you want to know more how evil is created and corrupts man, read this book: The Lucifer Effect (blog post).

Journey (PS3)

17. March, 2012

Bored by the violence in Mass Effect 3? Solved Ratchet & Clank three times already?

How about a nice, relaxing Journey?

Journey is the latest … uh … game? by thatgamecompany. Remember flOw? Flower? If you already own those two, Journey is for you. If you don’t – give it a try. Discover the journey.

Making Daily Stand Up Meetings More Effective

16. March, 2012

Are you doing daily stand up meetings? Feeling like you’re wasting your time?

It’s Not Just Standing Up: Patterns for Daily Standup Meetings might help.

From his post:

The daily stand-up meeting (also known as a “daily scrum”, a “daily huddle”, “morning roll-call”, etc.) is simple to describe:

The whole team meets every day for a quick status update. We stand up to keep the meeting short.

That’s it.

But this short definition does not really tell you the subtle details that distinguish an effective stand-up from a waste of time.


Gift Idea: Albatros Bookmarks

7. March, 2012

If you need a cool gift for a bookworm, try an Albatros bookmark:

See the Vimeo page for ordering details.

Where Is The Cat?

3. March, 2012

Trick question: It’s pouring down. There is a crossroads with a traffic light and a dry cat. There is no house, bench, car or cardboard box. Where is the cat sitting?

Answer (mark text to read): “Before the red light, on the cover of the orange light. If it wasn’t raining, the cat would be sitting on top of the traffic light.

Proof (YouTube).

Commenting Code

1. March, 2012

A lot of people way “you must comment your code.”

Kevlin Henney wrote an excellent piece on this topic in 97 Things Every Programmer Should KnowComment Only What the Code Cannot Say

It really boils down to the last sentence: “Comment what the code cannot say, not simply what it does not say.”

There are various reasons why people demand comments:

  1. They are not fluent in the programming language or don’t know enough to read the code. There is nothing wrong with the code – the readers simply don’t know enough to understand it.
  2. The code is broken in some way and you need the comment to make sure people don’t break it even more.
  3. The comment explains something that no one will see from the code.

Only #3 is a valid reason for comments. #1 is just adding noise for people who shouldn’t touch the code anyway. #2 means you should refactor the code to make its intent clear – adding comments will only make things worse.

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