2016-01-16 The Command Line Podcast

old-newspaper-350376_1280This is an episode of The Command Line Podcast.

This time, I chat about some recent news stories that caught my attention, including:

You can subscribe to a feed of articles I am reading for more. You can follow my random podcast items on HuffDuffer too.

You can directly download the MP3 or Ogg Vorbis audio files. You can grab additional formats and audio source files from the Internet Archive.

Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.

2015-12-19 The Command Line Podcast

old-newspaper-350376_1280This is an episode of The Command Line Podcast.

I will be attending SCALE in the latter half of next month if anyone else planning to be there wants to meet up.

I am also thinking about attending this year’s LibrePlanet, in March. Please consider donating to their scholarship fund to help attendees who might not otherwise be able to go to join the event and learn more about Free Software and the community that uses and supports it.

This time, I chat about some recent news stories that caught my attention, including:

You can subscribe to a feed of articles I am reading for more. You can follow my random podcast items on HuffDuffer too.

You can directly download the MP3 or Ogg Vorbis audio files. You can grab additional formats and audio source files from the Internet Archive.

Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.

A Renewed Plea for Moving Beyond DRM and Incompatibilities in eBooks

Joe Wikert at O’Reilly clearly articultes a view I’ve held for some time, that we need ebook interoperability that is entirely comparable to that of MP3’s for digital music. The use of DRM by the larger ebook stores has certainly kept me from even contemplating a dedicated reader as much as I am increasingly attracted by the promised advantages.

Imagine buying a car that locks you into one brand of fuel. A new BMW, for example, that only runs on BMW gas. There are plenty of BMW gas stations around, even a few in your neighborhood, so convenience isn’t an issue. But if one of those other gas stations offers a discount, a membership program, or some other attractive marketing campaign, you can’t participate. You’re locked in with the BMW gas stations.

This could never happen, right? Consumers are too smart to buy into something like this. Or are they? After all, isn’t that exactly what’s happening in the ebook world? You buy a dedicated ebook reader like a Kindle or a NOOK and you’re locked in to that company’s content. Part of this problem has to do with ebook formats (e.g., EPUB or Mobipocket) while another part of it stems from publisher insistence on the use of digital rights management (DRM).

Wikert goes on to re-visit the problems inherent in the current ebook market in a coherent and I think compelling fashion. It is worth noting that O’Reilly, who re-posted this piece from Publishers Weekly, is one of the few publisher from whom I regularly buy ebooks exactly because they support all the popular formats and have never used DRM.

I simply will not buy into another platform that has an intentional switching cost built in. I possess the technical experience and skills to exercise what I believe to be fair use in the form of personal copies and format shifting. That doesn’t change how I feel even if that means I still have to live with the limitations of paper books as an avid reader, both for pleasure and for my profession. I would love nothing more than to have my entire non-fiction library always at my fingertips with quick lookup and digital notes to add in my research, writing and other work.

It is more important to me to set a visible example and to keep pushing for a legitimate means to exert my preferences, especially with my purchasing dollar. If I buy DRM’ed or otherwise platform locked titles, I fear it sends the wrong message, that I find this situation acceptable when I clearly do not.

It’s time for a unified ebook format and the end of DRM, O’Reilly Radar

Apple Patents Potential in the World DRM

If you are among a certain set, those who have truly grokked how brain damaged DRM is, you’ve no doubt joked about how proponents of restricting digital technologies would love to extend that reach into the environment, beyond just the access and playback of digital files. That idea has taken a massive and disturbing step closer to reality.

On June 2, 2011, the US Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple that revealed various concepts behind a newly advanced next generation camera system that could employ infrared technology. On one side, the new system would go a long way in assisting the music and movie industries by automatically disabling camera functions when trying to photograph or film a movie or concert. On the other hand, the new system could turn your iOS device into a kind of automated tour guide for museums or cityscapes as well as eventually being an auto retail clerk providing customers with price, availability and product information. The technology behind Apple’s patent application holds a lot of potential.

Cory over at BoingBoing linked to some of the coverage of this Patently Apple scoop around this patent application that emphasized the negative application. I think that emphasis is warranted, given that the positive scenario of providing context or location aware capabilities is already well doable with existing, deployed technologies like GPS, Bluetooth, AR, and most recently NFC. It hardly seems like we need an IR based technology for that end, leaving the more chilling implication of allowing venue owners and rights holders to reach into and affect the operation of your device, against your wishes.

Apple working on a Sophisticated Infrared System for iOS Cameras, Patently Apple (via BoingBoing)

Annual Day Against DRM

The music industry may have largely given up on digital rights management, a largely ineffectual set of technologies meant to interfere with the simple and ubiquitous act of copying digital files, but the risks inherent in digital locks are as present as ever. Film studios must think that somehow their application of this technology is different, that this time it will work. As book publishers experiment with electronic editions, they also assume any such digital versions must be locked down to prevent their livelihood from being stolen out from under them.

Thinkers much brighter and more articulate than I am have pointed out that strategies relying on DRM proceed from rather flawed assumptions. Above all other things what the personal computer, and its descendants like smart phones, does best is to make perfect, infinite digital copies. Coding a thin veneer over this is comparable to trying to contain a rabid badger with a cardboard box. It willfully ignores the inherent nature of the situation. Hence business models based on digital technologies would be far better served to embrace the very abundance enabled.

Sadly as much as DRM is still a live issue I suspect most readers, viewers and listeners still rarely run afoul of the arbitrary speed bumps raised by DRM. When they do odds are good it comes as a complete surprise. I still have conversations with friends and acquaintances on a distressingly regular basis explaining why they cannot freely move their digital files to different devices, alter their format, or otherwise make full use of the medias consistent with their expectation that they full own the files and everything it should be possible to do with them.

The Free Software Foundation’s Defective by Design campaign has set today aside to keep attention on the problems surrounding DRM. If like me out of a desire for harmony you’ve stopped harassing your friends and acquaintances proactively most of the time, a Day Against DRM is a good excuse to momentarily set aside that policy. People continuing to buy technology and media that contains DRM props up the content producers’ incorrect view that DRM does anything other than intermittently punish honest users.

Check out the Defective by Design page for the day for ideas. At a minimum there are plenty of very understandable hypothetical problems of which the average person may run afoul that you can share to make the point. While no one is advocating for piracy and the mass copyright infringement that entails, we all should have a right to own digital media and do with them just about anything that makes sense within the realm of personal use.

feeds | grep links > Circumventing Chinese Censors on a Kindle, Open Flash Tool Now Closed, Faced Detection for Web Apps, and More

  • Kindle allowing bypass of Chinese censoring firewall
    Slashdot points to an interesting use for the otherwise not very freedom friendly device. Apparently, however the 3G service is provided locally in China, it isn’t being subjected to the same censorship as regular net access. I tend to agree with Professor Kwan’s interpretation, that those in charge of the firewall simply don’t realize the Kindle can be used for anything other than buying and reading books.
  • Adobe temporarily closes their Flex SDK
    According to a conversation with the product manager initiated by The Register, the public source code repository and patch submission for Flex will be closed for a couple of releases. This stems from the fact that while the tool itself, used for creating Flash and AIR apps, is open, the platform is closed. In order to build against the un-released new versions of closed platform components, it is necessary to also close Flex. This demonstrates one considerable risk of working with a set of tools that isn’t all open.
  • Face detection with HTML5 and JavaScript
    Klint Finley at ReadWriteWeb describes a new library that the developer sees as helping with automatically tagging photos online. Even if it doesn’t evolve from face detection to full on recognition, you could easily see how a distributed, in browser trick like this could be effectively coupled with crowd intelligence to allow web applications to offer almost as good identity based tags. I think it is far more interesting to consider how the library might open up compelling, novel interactions with web applications based on a user’s movements and orientation in space. That avenue of thought is less concerning from a privacy perspective, too.
  • Publisher sells DRM-free ebooks to libraries , BoingBoing
  • OpenBSD 4.8 released, Slashdot

feeds | grep links > Towards a Graphene Transistor, Over Broad Child Protection Law Blocked, B&N Caught Deleting Customer’s EBooks, and More

Apologies for the second day of just links. I was in a rush to get to the local CopyNight here in DC last night. I took a sick day from work today to try to final get over this cold and have been trying to keep blogging to a minimum, too, in order to maximize my rest.

Thankfully, tonight’s podcast is an interview I recorded last week so will got out with minimum effort as scheduled.

feeds | grep links > Plans for Firefox Home, Review of “Get Lamp”, Open HDCP Software Implementation, and More

  • Contest to produce JavaScript demos no more than 1Kb
    Slashdot links to this now concluded contest that sort of reminds me of the demo scene in terms of the constraint to bum down code as much as possible. The results are a bit more diverse, including many interactive games as well as passive animations. More so than a lot of recent and fairly contrived “HTML5” demos, the finalists in JS1K really showcase what modern browsers can do.
  • Firefox Home adding more devices, social capabilities
    Chris Cameron at ReadWriteWeb shares news of Mozilla’s plans for their Sync client for iPhone. Personally, I cannot wait to get an Android powered replacement for my iPod Touch and start running Fennec, their full mobile browser, but in the interim I’m happy that Home is getting such attention from the lizard wranglers. I especially cannot wait for the password sync support planned for a future release.
  • Congress passes internet, smart phone accessibility bill, Washington Post
  • Update to private cloud-based file system, Tahoe-LAFS, BoingBoing
  • Android software piracy rampant, Slashdot
  • A Review of Jason Scott’s “Get Lamp”
    Text adventure games figured largely in my earliest experiences of computers. It was a no brainer for me to pick up a copy of Scott’s documentary on the subject. I enjoyed it immensely and am far from finished exploring all the material he has included in the two disc set. Jeremy Reimer at Ars Technica has a glowing review that resonates very strongly with my own experience of the work.
  • EFF, others, support Microsoft in case trying to make patent invalidation easier, EFF
  • Open HDCP software implementation released
    Ars Technica, among others, has news of researchers using the recently leaked HDCP keys to build an open source program capable of decrypting encoded digital video streams. Peter Bright questions the utility of the effort as it would still require some sort of hardware to connect into your home media ecosystem. I think the overlooks the very strong tradition of these sorts of proofs of concept developed by security researchers interested in the system more so than its applications.

TCLP 2010-09-26 News

This is news cast 225, an episode of The Command Line Podcast.

In the intro, thanks to Steve for his latest donation which also means he gets the signed copies of Wizzywig 1 & 2. Also, an announcement of audio and feed changes to go in effect on October 3rd.

This week’s security alert is a more in-depth look at the Stuxnet worm.

In this week’s news Intel to use DRM to charge for processor features and why that is problematic, an Ubuntu designer shares his thoughts on a context aware UI, a course on the anthropology of hackers (one I wish UMD’s MITH would offer), and the FCC finalizes rules for white space devices (including details on those rules) prompting one commissioner to speculate we no longer need net neutrality rules.

Following up this week the MPAA wants to know if it can use ACTA to block WikiLeaks and one judge quashes a US Copyright Group subpoena.


View the detailed show notes online. You can also grab the flac encoded audio from the Internet Archive.

Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.