When Laziness Gets Expensive

9. May, 2011

According to heise online (German, video in English), Professor Dr. Eugene Spafford estimates the costs Sony‘s EPIC FAIL to secure their PSN servers to be 21 billion dollars.

Wow. 21 … fucking … BILLION … dollars. That’s 70’000’000 PS3s. 70 million PS3s. 36 million iPhone 4s. 700’000 cars at $30’000/each. They must be doing pretty well to be able to afford such a loss.

And it’s not that they didn’t see it coming. Sony knew for months that their servers were outdated and missing crucial security patches. Well, someone decided that it wasn’t worth to fix that. So: EPIC FAIL. Again. And again. Will they ever learn?

That feels like the same arrogance which led to the lawsuit against geohot and graf_chokolo.  Which probably made someone on the Internet so angry that they decided to give Sony this wedgy. Message to Sony: It’s not smart to be arrogant in the face of overwhelming odds.

You have, say, 1’000 people working to protect your assets. The world has a population of 7 billion (and you just lost 3 dollars to every and each of them) and the probability that one of them can kick you where it really hurts is about 1. At least.

Of course, the company is now using all its power to hunt down the little bastard. Sony, if you read this: Don’t be surprised if a 13-year old kid outwitted your whole security team.

Or rather the manager, who told the team not to fix those servers. But no, managers are never wrong. So the team must be punished. Fire them! All of them! Without supper! Serves them right! And don’t forget to sue the kid! Sue him to hell! Make sure he is not allowed to touch an electronic device ever again. EVER! It’s not your fault what happened! Try to create more DMCA-like laws! So you can sue more people! Get your engineering team to build a time traveling device so you can sue in advance! Force parents to divorce so they can’t breed anything threatening your revenue! Show the world who’s boss! Dictatorships never worked before but that should not stop you! It should rather encourage you! Grow by setting challenging goals!

See where the leads and why you can never win?

Making the world-wide security community hate you even more is your best bet! Trust me, I know at least as well as the guy who created this mess. And you trusted him, didn’t you?


Sony vs. The World 1:0 …?

13. April, 2011

So Georg Hotz “caved in” and accepted to sign a settlement agreement (good article). Those quotes aren’t accidental; being accused in a law-suit does odd things to your life and most of them are unpleasant. Being famous isn’t as great as MTV wants you to believe. Ever wondered why all those famous persons are either weird, drug addicts or die early? There might be a connection.

As for Georg, one hell is over and now he gets raped by all his supporters. It’ll wash over, trust me.

So did Sony win? No. Win would mean to prove in court that it’s illegal to decrypt and modify the firmware of the PS3. Which they avoided. If you’re a multi-billion dollar company and someone/something is a threat to one of your most valuable products (my impression after reading what SCEA said during the lawsuit), wouldn’t you want to make sure this issue is fixed once and for all? For some reason, Sony didn’t.

It’s probably because they didn’t want to harm poor Georg.

*hilarious laughter*

Oh man, I’m killing myself. So. Sony caved, Georg won: He’s not going to jail, he isn’t fined, he isn’t prosecuted. He’s a free man. Well, mostly.

He isn’t allowed to do illegal things with “any SONY PRODUCT” (their yelling). Oookaaayy… what exactly is illegal? Wasn’t that one important point that the lawsuit should have settled?

I mean in Europe, it’s legal to reverse engineer any software if you need that knowledge to make it cooperate with some other software (“make it interoperable”) and if you can’t get that knowledge some other way (competitor wants to keep you out of the market, producer is no longer around, etc.). You must not spread the reverse engineered code but you could, for example, write a patch or an installer with it.

And Georg isn’t allowed to talk about the settlement which is confidential. I don’t need to understand this, I guess, but I’m sure he would rather forget this sad story and move on.

So. One guy fixed. I’m sure no other smart person on the planet is going to try this again. Ever.

And one prediction: It seems that Georg has some money left. Instead of wasting it on his own case (which Sony might have dragged out for a decade, for example) he might have invested it in the other lawsuit where chances to win might be much higher – especially with all the notes he got from his case.


Customer Innovation

2. March, 2011

Have you ever modified something you bought in a shop? You’re not alone. A study in England showed that 6.2 percent of the population does it. The modifications range from simple things like adding rubber to the dog’s feeding bowl to reprogramming a GPS to make it easier to use.

Apparently, the users of products invest 2.3 times more money in making things better than the companies who build them in the first place. Bad news for companies who hate it when someone touches their stuff


Good Overview How Sony Treated Its Customers Over The Years

1. March, 2011
Magic Link

Image via Wikipedia

Phillip Torrone posted a good overview of Sony’s treatment of its customers over the years: Sony’s War On Makers, Hackers, And Innovators


LG Angry at Sony

1. March, 2011

It seems that harassing customers isn’t enough. In a nice move to complete their list of enemies, they pissed of LG, too. Patent infringement. LG won preliminary injunction against Sony and the European customs now have to seize PlayStation shipments. 🙂


So Nokia’s Dead, Too

16. February, 2011

Nokia finally submitted to the dark side. My guess is that the managers at Nokia and Microsoft fail to understand two things:

  1. People don’t get paid to use smartphones.
  2. A phone should “just work.”

At work, I get paid (a lot) to use the stuff that Microsoft shells out. That helps to ease the pain. This isn’t true for my own mobile phone. The iPhone blew all the “competition” away is because of a single fact: It’s mind-bogglingly easy to use. A lot of time and effort went into making it a pleasurable experience. When did you feel pleasure last time using something from Microsoft (the software company, not the sex shop)? Or from Nokia?

On the run, I don’t want to think how I can beat my phone into submission. I just want it to do what I have in mind without me having to tell it. Nokia didn’t care, so they have a problem. Microsoft doesn’t care; who cares for such petty details when you rake in one buck for every two you spend?

Being able to install Windows 7 on hundreds of millions of mobile devices doesn’t solve any of the inherited problems. There is a reason why Microsoft failed with their mobile OSs for years. Nokia knows how to build great hardware; only the user experience was always just the top of the reeking pile. When Apple suddenly started with something that didn’t stink, no one wanted to suffer the old crap anymore.

Especially not in two years when the first new phones will come out.


Sony cracks down on Geohot

7. February, 2011

In an insane attempt to stop the world, Sony has sued George “Geohot” Hotz. Some comments on this:

The court has granted Sony’s request for TRO. In the document, the court rules: “… Hotz shall … preserve, and not destroy, erase, delete, dispose of, or alter any documents or records, … that relate to … the Circumvention Devices, or any communications with any party concerning the manufacture, …” (page 3, 12-22).

Hm … since Geohot distributed that information via his website and the “any party” is the world, doesn’t that mean he must not take the information down? Since taking down the information would mean to alter his homepage which the court ruling strictly forbids …

Or as Dan Gillmor found in his blog post: “Given that the research results Sony presumably cares about are available online, granting the order would mean that everyone except the researchers themselves would have access to their work.”

It’s interesting to see that the people, who turned the justice system into what it is today, starting to strangle themselves into it.

“Beware not to lose the war by winning it”
Haul monk to Forne Rako


Oracle sells OpenOffice 3.3

17. December, 2010
OpenOffice

Image via Wikipedia

Wanna buy OO? Oracle gets in line with all the rip-offs who sell you open source software and, as a special bonus, it sells you a crippled version: For home users, you get a copy that supports just one language, one OS, no SDK, no MySQL connector. Oh, there is forum based support!

In which way is that better than the download from OpenOffice.org which I get with more features and for free?

Well, there isn’t a release on the project’s official website. I guess Oracle redefined the meaning of open source software: It’s just the source, now. Use your own compiler.

LibreOffice, here I come. They also don’t have a release but at least I feel that they’re honest and show some basic respect.


Hot or not

1. September, 2010
no spam!

Image via Wikipedia

When I write a post, I’m always wondering if someone cares. Since I’m not one of the top 1’000 bloggers who rally millions of readers, I just get so many hits and it’s hard to find out what people like to read.

Today, I noticed something: Some articles get more spam than others. Since spammers want to get noticed, they are more likely to spam the hot stuff.

Problem solved 😉


Copyright vs. authors

17. August, 2010

Everyone always argues “we need a strong copyright to protect the authors and their work” (here, for example). Frankly, I’m very suspicious how many authors are in this “we”. Usually, this “we” includes publishers, lawyers and people living off the work of authors but rarely those who actually do the work.

Just two days ago, I stumbled over an article (German) that compared the book market in England and Germany around 1800. The time is interesting because Germany had no copyright before 1837 and England had one for almost a century by that time. Of course, everyone in Germany was arguing that authors were starving and they needed a stronger copyright – just like England.

Before these copyright laws were enacted, the book market in Germany was between five to ten times bigger than that of England. A book in England would cost as much as you’d make in a week – between $500 and $1000 today. As a consequence, only very few people had books. In Germany, everyone could afford books. In 1800, only 700 news books were published in rich England while in poor Germany, they had 4000. They were cheap. Since only a few people could afford the expensive English books, print runs were tiny. A “successful” book would means a print run of 500 to 750. Reprinting was outlawed, so as soon as a book went out of print, it wasn’t available anymore. And who would reprint something that sold only 700 times?

And, surprisingly, the authors could live from their work. Around 1810, the author of a monograph could make 25% to 50% of a year’s income. In England, bestsellers got more but there are only a few bestsellers. It’s nice that 5 or 10 of the most successful authors make millions but isn’t it better when most people make enough for a living?

Yearly income of the most successful authors 2008

Yearly income of the most successful authors 2008

Why did that happen?

Because so many books were printed. Publishers always needed new material, so the authors were in a position of power. Also, “unsuccessful” books sold many thousand times. Publishers also had to keep them in print (as long as it was reasonable) to keep reprinters at bay. With a strong copyright, authors had to beg to be published (except for the few successful ones). Guess what that meant for income.

What happens today? Anyone can publish. Google has written software that collects interesting bits of information all over the globe and presents them in a nice, accessible way. Suddenly, the publishers cry out: “We need a stronger copyright.” I bet they do. But I don’t buy it when they add “to protect the rights of our authors.”

Which rights? The ones they take away with slave contracts? “Author gets 4% of the price printed on the book and publisher gets the right to publish the work in any way, forever.”

How many authors do you know which made a fortune from their books? Name five. King. Rowling. Patterson. Clancy (doesn’t even have a web site; poor guy only makes $35 Million/year). Steel. (Source)

I didn’t know two of them and the difference between #1 (Rowling, $300 Million) and #5 (Steel, $30 Million) is tenfold. See the graph for an idea where this leads.

Penguin sells books for £786 Million/year. This weeks bestseller in “Stolen” by Lesley Pearse. Amazon rank  118. I wonder how much of the $780m Ms. Pearse makes.

The next time someone tries to sell you that the copyright is good for authors, you know they’re lying.