Monday, February 25, 2008

Bogus Lawsuit Against Apple & Starbucks

According to Apple Insider, "A Utah couple acting as their own attorneys have filed a lawsuit against Apple and Starbucks over the retailers' recent "Song of the Day" promotion, which offers Starbucks customers a iTunes gift card for a complimentary, pre-selected song download."

Yeah. Uh-huh. Problem is that I designed and implemented this system beginning in 1999. It became the basis of a number of products that grew into PocketPass and Tibanna.

The diagrams in the lawsuit look exactly like my system.

Can you say, "prior art?" Suuuuuure you can!

Friday, February 22, 2008

Independent Bookstores Politics and Taste

Cody's Books, 0ne of the Bay Area's long-time and well-known bookstores, has had a hard time lately. Independents as a whole have had a hard time.

Most independents blame Amazon and chains like Borders and Barnes & Noble for all their ills. Their screeching fits of outrage against them is surpassed only by their raging at George Bush, but just barely.

They're in denial.

Independents are having trouble because -- with few exceptions (such as Powell's in Portland) -- independent book stores prefer to promote and sell books they think people ought to read. Rather than sell books people want to read.

People at independent book stores have set themselves up as arbiters of taste and politics.

The politics are always Left-canted. They can't understand why people don't want to by all 793 Anti-Bush screeds. Yeah, he's a dumb fucker, but he's also a lame duck. There's an election this year. somebody tell the anti-George folks. Get over it!

Their taste in books runs to highly, ultra-literary, thin little works written in an unheated garret. They turn their noses up at thrillers, romances and other "commercial" fiction. When they do talk about such undesirable books, their faces wrinkle into a look like a person who's just stepped in dog feces, or just caught a whiff of conversation from someone to the right of Fidel Castro.

If they want to be arbiters of literary taste and hold forth on intertextuality, they should get a position torturing undergraduates with obscure literature.

If they want to succeed as booksellers, then they need to realize they are merchants. They must market. They must sell products their customers want to buy.

Or they can remain in denial and prepare to go out of business.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

e-Book Royalties - Publishers Screw Authors Again.

It's all digital and costs fractions of a cent to deliver. So why do publishers want to be pigs and take most of the money from ebooks?


Then, of course, they'll lock it down with DRM and a proprietary e-book reader to make sure no one buys it! This is an intellectually twisted business.

"LITTLE, BROWN CHIEF Executive Ursula Mackenzie wrote to literary agencies last week, setting out its digital stall and echoing Random House CEO Gail Rebuck's proposal of a 15% royalty on e-books. It is a call that has already been rejected by Curtis Brown, whose Contracts Manager, Anna Davis, told PN: “We want to support publishers in what they are doing in this area and we accept its importance, but we do not want to agree to a royalty that we do not believe is fair. Yes, publishers have big set-up costs with digital, but once they are set up, the unit cost of producing an e-book is much lower.”

Rest of the article here.

Publishers, eBooks,and DRM

Digital Rights Management sucks. DRM-- the long, trying-to-be-respectable name for encrypting a content file to cripple a consumers rights to their legally provided rights to Fair Use -- is the biggest single barrier to widespread e-book acceptance.

Specialized reader hardware is the second.

The user experience with an ebook needs to more closely replicate that of the dead-tree edition. This includes the ability to read on any preferred device from iPods to Blackberries The reader also needs the ability to highlight, print a certain amount of text etc., loan the book and " to resell it as used -- thus preserving copyright's well-established fair-use capabilities.

I realize I am at odds with most publishers, but the paranoia about piracy kills more revenue than it protects. But then, as you an see I have no strong or well-defined opinion about this.

Publishers must realize that whatever encryption they load onto a book WILL be broken. So why drive away 90% of your market to protect a book from the 2% who will steal it? It's called publisher logic.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Holmes on Homes: Good Man; Web Site Rips-Off Consumers

I've enjoyed the Canadian home improvement show, "Holmes on Homes" in which contractor Mike Holmes fixes the screw-ups left by screw-up construction weenies.

So, I visited the web site to see if I could buy DVDs of previous seasons. Yes!

But when I checked out, I find abusively expensive shipping ripoffs! $21.46 shipping (UPS Standard) for a season DVD set that costs $30.99! A one-pound package!! (Canadian and American dollars are within a penny of being equal these days).

Needless to say, I canceled my order and feel I wasted my time registering an account.

I regularly order merchandise from Canada and the UK and NEVER have encountered such a disgraceful overcharging.

I've been a great fans Mike Holmes and his wonderful work and have considered him a person of great integrity. But for his site to rip off customers like this has certainly caused me to re-evaluate my opinion.


I ordered the DVDs from Amazon just now. It cost me $4 LESS than the Holmes site. Plus, with my Prime account, I get two-day shipping FREE! So, the whole thing cost me $26.99 ... rather than getting ripped off for $52.45 -- almost twice as much!

My advice: watch the show. Avoid the web site. One day, if Holmes is as honest a bloke as he seems, he'll take his pneumatic framing nailer to whoever is responsible for ripping off customers at his web site. And if he doesn't stop this egregious cheating of consumers, then perhaps he's just putting on a good act.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Orwell, Berserkley and the Marines

"People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf." -- George Orwell

One only hopes that when the invasion starts, the enemy comes ashore at the Berkeley Marina.

Only those truly immersed in Orwellian hypocrisy could call the city government's actions a defense of free speech.

The City Council passed a resolution calling the Marine Corps recruiting office "an unwelcome intruder" and then gave Code Pink a reserved parking space in front and a permit to blather on all day through loud speakers.

This has illegally obstructed access to the office, yet the police are not enforcing the law.

One only hopes that when Berserkley needs the help of "rough men" that those men are not available, having gone to places where people honor their duty and sacrifice.

The Ayatollah of Canterbury Babbles On

Uproar as archbishop says sharia law inevitable in UK

Well, it does sort of go along with his stand on gays which has certainly helped split the Episcopal church in America.

Plus, shariah varies according to the interpretation of the Quran.

In some places, there are those who interpret (and act on) it as requiring death for homosexuals, adulters, and infidels.

The latter would certainly include the Archbishop himself … thus offering what one might consider a logical conclusion to the step he is advocating.

OpenID = Open Season for Thieves and Gov't Snoops

Tech heavyweights join OpenID Foundation board

Putting all my ID eggs in one basket is reason enough to shun OpenID.

Putting all my ID eggs in a basket shared by YahooSoft (MicroHoo?) is worse.

But, far worse is the presence of VeriSign. FOIA documents obtained by the Electronic Freedom Foundation show that Verisign is a major contractor to the FBI and its pervasive wiretapping and eavesdropping system.

Whether you're prone to paranoia attacks or not, putting everything in one place makes for a goldmine for ID thieves and for government snoops.

The "open" in OpenID means it's open season on your information. If it can be cracked, it will be. No reason to think OpenID is immune.

Look at it in an ecosystem way: diverse genetic populations resist pathogens better because only a small percentage will be susceptible at any one time. Conversely, every member of a monoculture ecosystem can be wiped out at once with the correct virus/pest.

I'll stick with a diversity of username / password combinations and rely on PGP encryption (using a 1,024-bit algorithm) and a lengthy pass-sentence of my own choosing to keep my data safe on my computer. I am free to change my encryption method any time I want. I want, not a bunch of Dilbert-run corporations whose record on security and lack of respect for users is well documented.

Ron Paul: The GOP's Ralph Nader of the 2008 Presidential Race?

The Swift-Boating of McCain Begins:

Ron Paul: McCain friends with Feingold, Kennedy

With this, Ron Paul has beat MoveOn.Org to the punch of trying to smear McCain.

What always amazes me is how Republicans usually shoot themselves in both feet by knuckling under to the extreme right-wing to nominate UNelectable candidates.

SOOOOOOOOOOOO... big question is: will the GOP's right-wing doctrinaire fanatics make Ron Paul the Ralph Nader of this election? Can you say Ross Perot? Suuuuuuuuuuure you can!

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Sick of TWITCHING Web Pages

I'm sick of TWITCHING web pages. Flash torture, eyeball waterboarding. Crap. I click away to another site or block with a Post-It. Clueless advertisers; clueless sites.

In trying to attract attention, they make visitors run away. Like those asshole commercials on television that turn the sound way up. I mute those, switch channels, head for the bathroom.

The Web's already got enough bad crap without imitating television. here are some examples of good sites gone bad with Macromedia abuse.

You get the picture.