Undermining your own business

Current Digital Rights Management approach and way of doing business by (big and small) Media Companies is simply moronic.

Yesterday, through John Gruber i arrived at this movie about an author which i had never heard of, but managed to collaborate and write many of my favourite shows and Science Fiction. ((not to be confused with cheap pulp “Sci-Fi”. ))

So i watched the youtube video, read a couple more things about him and thought “i would like to see this movie!”. So i went to the movie website and there was no indication of where i could buy it or watch it. So i resorted to my faithful Amazon.co.uk. And there i found this piece of info:

Screen shot 2011 05 20 at 13 22 13

So if i managed to get to buy one of this dvds, i will probably pay import taxes AND still need a special DVD player or have to change mine region’s code every time i want to see it. Which i can only do 4 times, so i can only watch it 2?3?

And now for the other option: google: “dreams with sharp teeth” torrent

And that’s it. You will have the movie file in your computer in less than a hour. Without DRM hassle, without limitations, without having to worry about Region Codes in your DVD and if you are able to read it, and without having to wait for the “arriving in your country soon” date. And at zero cost for you and zero profit for the publishers.

So, as a consumer that is simply interested in having access to a product, what do you think most people will choose?

Obi-Wan Kenobi Is Dead, Vader Says

Lord Vader discourses at Coruscant

CORUSCANT — Obi-Wan Kenobi, the mastermind of some of the most devastating attacks on the Galactic Empire and the most hunted man in the galaxy, was killed in a firefight with Imperial forces near Alderaan, Darth Vader announced on Sunday.

In a late-night appearance in the East Room of the Imperial Palace, Lord Vader declared that “justice has been done” as he disclosed that agents of the Imperial Army and stormtroopers of the 501st Legion had finally cornered Kenobi, one of the leaders of the Jedi rebellion, who had eluded the Empire for nearly two decades. Imperial officials said Kenobi resisted and was cut down by Lord Vader’s own lightsaber. He was later dumped out of an airlock.

The Galactic Empire Times

This is the best political/media satire ever. And one of the best awakening calls ever. That we are celebrating the assassination elimination of an enemy without even the faintest touch of Law and Order that should be the reason normal action of a constitutional government.

Just for the Homeland Patriotic fascists folks, i had no doubt that Bin Laden Obi-Wan should have faced this penalty. But i think that at least a lawful nation should have had a court, a process, anything that might resemble a system of law. No one with an ounce of realism doubted that this would be the final result. But sometimes keeping the formalities and having the appearance of something is the difference between light and dark. Between moderates everywhere thinking that this was a criminal that should have been caught, judged and executed, or thinking that this was simply a band of imperial barbarians that have no respect whatsoever for anyone outside of their borders. (( and sometimes not even inside their borders…))

By the way, if you want/need examples of similar cases go no further than Saddam Hussein, Adolf Eichmann or Nicolae Ceaușescu. They all got the same deserved fate but at least a modest appearance of due process was maintained.

Usability, and why it is lost in the Windows world

I plugged my printer into a new MacBook Pro — my first mac ever. A week later I needed to print, so I started poking around for an ADD PRINTER process. Eventually I realized the OS has setup the printer. The OS is responsible for I/O and hardware, so why would it need me to participate. Why should the user be trained like a monkey to click NEXT, NEXT, NEXT, NEXT, FINISH.

Mac is a completely different mindset and design from the ground up. And great design pays off for a decade, the same way the bad designs of Windows 3.1 hurt Windows for a decade. It isn’t just about “OS” security. It is about the work environment that OS provides the user. Windows users (who arent geeks) feel helpless and at the mercy of this mysterious machine that keeps asking questions they don’t understand. Mac Users aren’t made to feel like morons because they don’t work in the computer industry. AND THAT is why they love and trust their machines.

And Windows people simply don’t get it, until they are willing to be a Mac users, no take backs, not using it only when I have to, not bothering to invest in it to have all the tricks you need to live on it the same way you did on Windows. When you jump fully in the pool you start to see the different perspective. Not that everything is rosey and perfection of a Computer Operating System. It isn’t about that, that is the Windows user’s view of a Mac User. The Mac people are busy using the computer to do something that has nothing to do with “OS”. OS isn’t their focus or concern.

A anonymous commenter on ZDNet

This is part of a comment on a gallery related to a “peter cried wolf” set of articles by Ed Bott at ZDNet.com. THe article itself is just another dose of “get ready, Macs are just as insecure as my faithful windows, so be prepared and start buying Norton stocks products.”

John Gruber has a nice timeline of other equal idiot valid articles here.

But this particular commentary is specially interesting. And true. And it touches another usability handicap of Windows that blows my mind. The User Account Control (UAC) and its endless stream of prompts.

Microsoft wanted, correctly i might say, that people started using the standard division of Administrator/User, starting from Windows Vista. It was the best choice they could have made and the major reason Vista is leaps and bounds a safer system than XP.

Until then to actually use Windows you had to be an admin, with all of the security faults it implied. I remember trying to set my Windows XP machine somewhere around 2005 (give or take) as an Admin/Reg.User duo and finding out that i couldn’t even plug in a usb flash drive as a regular user. (( This might have required that the admin pointed out point by point what every user could do. But i wasn’t ready, or am now, to loose time configuring something that should have been obvious that a regular user could do in a standard household environment and be properly set up from the first moment))

So, about 2 years ago, I was again recruited to give technical assistance to a relative, female, early fifties, school teacher. She had some basic knowledge of computers and still knew how to mess around on the control panel preferences. When she bought a Vista laptop, she setup herself as a Admin account. As it comes preconfigured.

When i picked up her computer to provide a “cleanup” i found out that she had completely disabled UAC. Why? because it kept annoying her and interrupting her workflow with prompts. Every single time from the startup to shutdown. So she did what most people did. Disable it. She wouldn’t know /think of setting her up as a second standard user, but she quickly found out where to disable the UAC. And as such there went the security. No wonder why i was being called.

I already knew why she had done it. If you are the admin, you are annoyed every time you are doing any kind of stuff that might alter the system. Even if it is “admin stuff”. So you would suffer a prompt every single time you opened up a “C:/Program Files” folder. Or every time you changed the wireless network. Or entered the Control Panel.

Jeeezzz!! IF i authenticated myself as the Administrator, if i already passworded my way in to admin land, then by Jove, leave me doing my stuff alone. Stop pestering me! I can’t possibly imagine what hell professional IT admins must have endured trying to use Vista. And then again, maybe that is why they didn’t and kept everyone using XP since then…

And this is what the commenter is referring about. If MS wanted people to setup the admin/user protocol, then force it, design it inherently, hide the admin (SUDO). But don’t do things halfheartedly with the firm intention of annoying the user so much that it must do what you wanted to him to do. Because he/she will find another solution. Probably easier and not at all what you wanted in the first place.

Yugoslavian breathtaking Monuments


These images are simply amazing. I had the chance of visiting Serbia in 2005 and loved it. A great country, with some very interesting people. I had never heard of these monuments though. If you have the time, take a virtual tour through these sculptures at the original source.

Offtopic: Male Incompetence

Screen shot 2011 05 04 at 15 24 22

This is undoubtedly the funniest discussion/thread ever.

It generates a massive amount of laughter, face-palms and shame for my gender. I agree wholeheartedly with the “Edit:” comments in the image box. Specially the last one. Specially the last one…

Speechless Comments

I’ve written below, something that has been on my mind for a long long time. Most precisely when i got so fed up with Windows performance deterioration, security faults, and just general clumsiness that i started looking for alternative OS.

Some of the comments on this article, here and on other sites, are basically that i don’t understand Microsoft, which i wholeheartedly agree. I don’t. Microsoft’s current direction is a mystery to me. I fail to see why it doesn’t want to address the change that it needs to do:

  • Fix Windows. Better yet, kill it and produce a worthy successor, preferably UNIX based so that it can stop being the lone ugly duckling in the IT world.

  • Or why it refuses to produce cross-platform enterprise and productivity software, when that is clearly the value generating activity at Microsoft.

Regular people don’t “want windows”. They don’t care about the insane start menu at the bottom left corner. What they really want to know is:

  • “can i open the documents and presentations other people send me?”.

  • Will i be isolated in data exchange with my customers and suppliers?”

That’s the killer app for windows right now, Office and other Productivity software for the enterprises. Nobody actually enjoys using Windows. They use it because they have to. And the moment an alternative is present they will change boats.

Like what is happening now. The iPad is being bought because it is mainly hassle free. And the regular Joe can use it to check Facebook or consult the cable tvguide without being harassed by an antivirus or a mandatory restart windows update.

So if some of the elaborated and highly knowledgeable commenters/insiders can explain to me why Microsoft keeps letting alternative software being constructed and perfected in the Linux and Mac ecosystem (Mac for the consumer, Linux for the Enterprise), to the detriment of Microsoft’s own, then by all means enlighten me. Show me why have i been wrong stating what i have stated.

Assessment based opinions.

Unlike some fanatics/”guys with little brains” around the web, i don’t have anything religiously against Microsoft. Or Apple. Or Linux. Or fanatically in favour of them, for that part. I use what’s convenient and currently a better solution. I used Windows because for a long time it was

  1. the best value approach;
  2. the easiest solution;
  3. a good enough system;

I stopped using Windows when i got fed up, and none of the above were true. I used Linux for about a year until i needed a laptop (and linux on laptops is not the same as on desktops) and everyone refused to sell me a general consumer laptop without windows. I don’t like paying for something that i won’t use and generally disagree with.

So I changed to Apple. I’ve played a bit with them before, they were nicely built with an endless amount of detail attention and it had MS Office, which i would probably need for my coming PhD years. And i loved it. Mac OS is most of the things a Microsoft OS should be. (And a MS OS doesn’t need to be WINDOWS for pete’s sake).

But Macs too have, as stated endlessly before in this blog, several faults and shortcomings that i find annoying as hell. Yet, currently, they are the better solution for most consumers. Linux is good enough for most of them (like i said i have my mother and some family members using it for up to 2 years until now and no problem). And Windows is only the correct solution for a very specific and limited segment. And this doesn’t appear to change in the near future.

Final Thoughts

So for the offended Microsofties/MS fans, if i criticise Microsoft management and lack of direction, it is not because i don’t like or hate MS, but because i can see the great value hidden in the company, the great value of some of their offerings and i find absurd that those values are being slowly destructed by management shortcomings and in the end, is the consumer (as myself) that is being deprived of a good solution for its problems.

And Shareholders of Value too. Not to mention employees of their livelihoods …

Data Rescue 3


I had written the post before this weekend. Due to several issues, i didn’t posted as soon as written, so during the weekend i ended up buying the MacLegion Spring 2011 Bundle. And with it, Data Rescue 3.

And guess what! My music, my entire old music collection is back! Data Rescue appears to have retrieve it in full. I didn’t see any missing file, tried a random couple of them, all good. 😀

And it did it at the first scan option, without any difficulty. As if the disk never had any problem. It just scanned it for a couple of minutes, showed me a list of my missing folders and asked me what folders would i like to retrieve.

It has an interesting approach, as it doesn’t repair the disk, it simply copies the data to another disk we select. Which i’m perfectly fine with, as i have a large 640gb external disk at my desk, with a lot of empty space. For those who don’t have an external disk with enough space in it, this might be a problem, but to be perfectly honest, i didn’t explore the software that much, so it might have the option to restore the disk integrity. I was just so happy that i got my music back that i loaded up VLC and started hearing random folders from my retrieved collection.

So, if for nothing else, buy this bundle for Data Rescue 3. Love it, love it, love it!


A very nice MacBundle

The nice folks at MacLegionBundle are providing a great bundle of applications for the mac. I’m not usually a big fan of paid bundles as they never seem to get more than one application that i might want, and usually for just one is cheaper to buy it isolated. In fact, the only “bundle” i ever adquired was one of the free macheist nano bundles. But this specific bundle seems to hit the jackpot and provide a bunch of really great applications at a really great price — total cost is 49,99$ or, for europeans, roughly ~34€.

About the apps, some i had heard of before, as Forklift ( a nice FTP app that doubles as Finder replacement ) or Screenflow, which i read about in some newsite and thought that would make a really cool way to do the “newbie videos” i want to do here at the maccouch. For Launchbar i’ve heard several compliments by Ben Brooks at the BrooksReview, a blogger i usually read. I haven’t tried it as i wasn’t ready to shell out the usual price for it as i use AlfredApp, a free simple launcher. But all together, these small 3 apps already were under my eyesight for a while and i used to check their websites from time to time, looking for a promotion. If not only for these 3 i already thought this macbundle would be interesting.

But then another application catches my eye. Data Rescue 3. And now i’m interested. You see, about 2 months ago, i had a problem with an external drive, the one where i had my old music collection. Really old eclectic mp3 collection, accumulated musical knowledge from the last 10 to 12 years. Stuff from when Napster and Kazaa were roaming the earth alone to my first very own “ripped” mp3 from household cds and audio tapes. Even my very first mp3 files ever, brought by a friend through the faithful sneaker net.

It was a messy folder structure, completely disorganised, full of low quality mp3 and stuff that i had heard once and forgot after. But it was my music! And i missed it! Very. You only realise how much your digital data is part of your identity when you keep remembering strange music you want to hear, or moments that happened with those background tunes and you simply cannot hear it again, because the music files are missing in the “bad disk structure” void.

I don’t specifically know what happened. I just remembering getting an error about bad disk information, allowing the disk utility to try to correct it (big mistake…) not even checking what it was because i was busy with something else, and suddenly it happened. I couldn’t get to my data. It was still there i knew. Disk Utility just tried to fix something in the disk main journal, it didn’t take that much time, the data was surely still  there but i simply wasn’t able to get to it.

During the las two months i tried a couple of solutions or free programs i found on the web, when i had the time. With no luck. I constantly tried to repair the disk structure, i spent hours leaving the programs doing deep scans to the data, i went trough endless file name and possible recovery options. No chance. And to be perfectly honest i was starting to despair. But suddenly here comes Data Rescue 3. Another data rescue software i never heard of. But it comes on this nice bundle. Should it be the reason i would buy it?

Download the trial, start it up, perform a initial scan. Bingo! Jackpot! Eureka! My data structure is there. I can see the folders as i remembered them, the endless and confusing folder structure. All of the mp3 files inside of them. Some lost WMA files from when i tried Windows Media Player in the early 2000’s. The old university group songs. Ah… Heaven! And apparently, in less than 20 minutes from start to now, Data Rescue 3 could help me get this back again. Tried it with a single mp3 file. Done. Got it back! People of LostDataLand, this is the answer to your prayers.

You then add to these 4 great apps the Contactizer Pro which appears to be the lost personal information and task management i was looking for, you have a really compelling bundle right here. During the next days, i will try to try out most apps in this bundle, check them out and see if they fit my needs or use patterns. I’ll write my thoughts about them here, so keep reading.

Undoubtedly, I’m so getting this bundle.