Loud ramblings of a Software Artisan

Monday 19 November 2007

Reading Books, TNG

I guess, I'll stick to paper, still for quite a while. Or using the Gutenberg project with FBReader. Whether the Kindle runs Linux or not does not matter.

Saturday 15 September 2007

Free Software lock out

Apple has never been Free Software friendly with their iPod. The whole business is based on the vendor and application lock-in of iTunes.

But this time it is apparently worse. Apparently Apple has decided that the database file for the song has to be validated with some cryptographic hash, or it appears to be. If the hash is not valid, the iPod refuse to playback any music (source). Read also BoingBoing's Cory Doctorow rant. This make gtkpod, Rhythmbox, Amarok and all these fabulous tools no longer working with the new devices.

How long before it get cracked? No idea. But one thing is sure. If you use Linux, don't buy an iPod. If you use OpenSolaris, don't buy an iPod. If you use BSD, don't buy an iPod. If you don't like this way of doing things, don't buy an iPod. I'm actually surprised that this didn't happen sooner, or maybe I'm like seeing too much evil or a giant conspiracy in what is an implementation detail...

Update: Lennart remind us some facts. I guess I might not be that wrong.

Wednesday 2 May 2007

Wining numbers

Today's winning numbers are:

09 F9 11 02 9D 74 E3 5B D8 41 56 C5 63 56 88 C0

That could be your old-style GPG fingerprint. That could be something else.

See BoingBoing for a related story.

Friday 4 August 2006

Digital Restriction Management and iPod

Cory Doctorow has a very good article on Why Apple DRM is bad for both business and consumers. It is actually a very good explaination on how DRM are bad, be they flexible like Apple's or not. It basically shows that Apple DRM is to protect Apple's business...

Friday 28 July 2006

All about the French DMCA-like law: DADVSI

Jean-Baptiste Soufron has a good commentary in Emglish on how the French law about digital rights and media is now even worse than proposed.

There is also a lawyer commentary by Maitre Eolas in French (Maitre Eolas is an attorney at law[1] [2]).

And as of Free Software, I'm worried about a few Free Software packages whose developers are mostly in France.


[1] Avocat à la cour in France, which is the jurisdiction that matters

[2] just to make some people happy

Monday 27 February 2006


FYI, here is the official tariff for for the Levy on blank media for music reproduction in Canada:

3. (1) Subject to subsection (2), the levy rates shall be
(a) 29¢ for each audio cassette of 40 minutes or more in length;
(b) 21¢ for each CD-R or CD-RW;
(c) 77¢ for each CD-R Audio, CD-RW Audio or MiniDisc.

DVD-R are not considered as audio media.

Tuesday 24 January 2006

All your rights are belong to us

Looks like it is DRM (Digital Restriction Management as says the GPLv3) season, with a deal of bad news.

When RIAA and MPAA want to control consumer electronics or when the broadcast flag is back, both being closely related. But now there is an attempt to control the analog media. That show that 2006 will need a lot of fight to preserve users rights.

Friday 6 January 2006

Market Dumping by bundling

I'm not impressed at all, but at least this company listen to their customer, even if they don't satisfy it.

I got a nice Executive Customer Relations from Lenovo Canada on the phone. She called me following my request of refund for the operating system that came with my ThinkPad Z60t, operating system I don't want to use and was required to acquire with the hardware.

I'm not surprised by the answer: no.

She claims that in 5 years nobody asked to not have the operating system, on which I doubt, or she never got the information. She also claims that it is required to use the hardware. I can tell that it is not as I directly booted on my Linux installation CD without ever running that software.

What can we do? Apparently nobody in Canada has taken the care to investigate and enforce the law. And we should tell the proper authority (in Canada) about that problem. If every customer that buy a hardware bundled with software he does not use, like Windows with a laptop computer, complains, then it my open some eyes, at least I hope. If you have any case of a precedent in Canada, I'm willing to hear. The only attempt I know about in Canada is Yannick Delbecque's, still without any answer.

The law is here (direct link to the "offences" section). I'm not a lawyer, and therefore do not provide an advice, but my understanding that law is that bundling software in order to help prevent competition is somewhat considered as an offence to Competition Act. That company has also been found guilty, or somewhat responible on unfair licensing agreement with OEM. Settlements for 23M$ because some OS vendor couldn't bundle its product due to an already unfair agreement with OEM, or refunds obtained in small claim courts in the US.


Just remember that case is almost specific with each manufacturer and in each country. I'm making a case of Canada and its federal law. There could still be a provincial ruling of some sort. Anyway this is to my eyes a clear case of monopoly abuse

Tuesday 8 November 2005

One more reason to not buy "copy protected" CDs

Some reports tell us that a big music publisher had produced CDs that installed a malware on users' Windows PCs with a cloaking device. They acknowledge the problem and released a fix to remove the cloaking technology (but still keep the malware!). The purpose of that software is to prevent you from exercising the right to private copy that is granted in several countries, including but not limited to: France, Canada, etc. Fortunately the problem is only on MS-Windows, as usual.

Off course, the $BIG_COMPANY don't seem to talk about replacing said defective CDs. It is just one more case of a big brother company willing to remove the rights granted by the country you live in, for a product you purchased. The paradox is even bigger when the same companies lobby governments to collect a tax for blank medias and music players (like the 50EUR tax on iPod Nano in France.

Personaly, I decide that I would not buy a CD that I can't rip to put on my computer. There is no reason why I wouldn't be allowed to do that anymore, mostly because the price hasn't gone down in almost 20 years. And some will argue that the protection can be worked around, I'll just make it a matter of principle.

Wednesday 21 September 2005

Copy unprotected CDs?

Message about copy protection on CDs, or lack thereof.

We learn that:

  1. artist do not have the choice. It is the disc company.
  2. that non Windows users are somewhat safe with some protection systems. The lack of interest for Linux and *BSD will still keep us apart at some point, happily.

That is not news in fact. But perhaps people should really start to care? Fortunately the success of the iPod might help moving in that direction as no one provide iPod ready CDs (they all give proprietary DRM WMA file which put customers into a vendor silo), and with the copy protections making things less easy for iPod owners, they might get annoyed. I myself am careful to not buy any product of this kind. I stick to oldies :-)

Sunday 1 May 2005

Lobbies win again

According to the Register, The Netherlands will probably levy a taxation on MP3 players at the price of EUR3.28 per GB of storage. Off course this goes into the powerfull music publishers' pocket. That would make a 20GB iPod 65.6 EUR more expensive (it costs around 300 EUR with taxes in that country).

Wednesday 20 April 2005

The Irony...

In my previous post I ranted about the fact that Nikon was making life difficult to decode RAW file from their high-end digital cameras... pointing to article telling that Adobe was mad for that. There have been a couple of insightful comments, that remind me that little ironic story.

Adobe is complaining that Nikon could use DMCA to sue them if they attempted to decrypt these data. The irony is that Adobe using that same law to sue Dmitry Sklyarov for reverse engineering the eBook file format encryption. There are affraid of the weapon they use against other people.

To not be mistaken, I'm not defending Adobe's position at all, I'm just defending photographers, aka customers, rights against an attempt from mafucturer to control the ownership of the pictures photographers take. The only product I have from Adobe is Photoshop Element 2.0 that I was illegally forced to purchase with my camera, and that I will use to see what should be done to improve free software solutions for digital photography, because lot of people claim that it is not good... and I still haven't gone past installing it.

So here is my word: Camera manufacturers, you don't own the pictures people take with your products. So you MUST provide a fully disclosed documentation of all the file formats and protocols used by your products for photographers to be able to plainly use them and exercise their rights on the photographic material they produce.

The unfair side is that Adobe did use the free software dcraw to improve their Camera RAW plugin, but dcraw author cannot use Adobe's software source code to improve his. That is one of the reason I would have released that software as GPL.

Saturday 12 February 2005

Napster fight iPod

Forbes has an article about Napster where Napster explain they want to beat up the iPod with a "rent-a-song" service, that is not compatible with iPod, because "It's exactly what consumers want to do.". Off course this DRM system is made by Microsoft who still do not appreciate the success of the iPod...

I myself still don't understand this. I have CDs that I bought in 1987 that I still listen to. Why would I want to buy some music that expire? That does not mean I would buy music for iTMS as well as it would expire differently, with the availability of the compatible players.

Source: Slashdot

Thursday 3 February 2005

The iPod phenomena when it is not corporate

Hide your iPod, here comes Bill or when Microsoft employees prefers iPod to players that support the company's DRM and audio format WMA, as wrote Wired, shows that iPod is a real phenomena that starts to annoy Microsoft. Even more when Microsoft employees seems to have benefit on WMA music, and that they don't use it because they have an iPod.

No matter what happen there, I see more and more people with iPod in the subway and in the streets.

Thanks to Luis Villa for the link.