Eye Spy

I caught an interesting article in InformationWeek. TorrentSpy, basically a search site for torrents, was shut down late March. The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) won a $110 million judgment and a permanent injunction against TorrentSpy for distribution of pirated video. This despite the fact that TorrentSpy never distributed any material.

I goggled torrent and received about 153,000,000 hits. I guess the MPAA should also move against Google.

The MPAA claims that their industry loses more than $18 billion annually as a result of movie theft. Illegal Internet distribution costs more than $7 billion in losses. The numbers came from this report — a very technical analysis.

I wonder if the MPAA is going down the same road as the music industry. Instead of embracing digital distribution and finding ways to get the content to people at a reasonable price, the MPAA is trying to protect yesterday’s distribution channels. To be fair, the MPAA does outline legal digital distribution channels. But can I make a compressed digital copy of my DVD to view on my laptop?

The technical answer is no. Although you may have a right to make a backup and watch the backup, you are not allowed to circumvent the Content Scramble System (CSS) which effectively means that you cannot create unencrypted copies of the content. Most commercial DVDs are protected by CSS. You can purchase a portable DVD player and take the DVDs with you or pay for movie downloads from legitimate download sites. If you can find one in Canada.

“Big Brother in the form of an increasingly powerful government and in an increasingly powerful private sector will pile the records high with reasons why privacy should give way to national security, to law and order […] and the like.” – Justice William O. Douglas

Vinyl

Yesterday, we tackled one of our storage rooms. Perhaps storage is too kind a word. It was a room where we put stuff. Lots of stuff.

After a concerted effort, we have cleared that room. Now the stuff is all over the rest of house: in the downstairs family room, in the dining room, in the garage. But only for a little while. Big garage sale in a couple of weeks and whatever remains gets designated as give away or junk.

In the process of going through all of this stuff, I came across my record collection. You know, vinyl LPs. Hundreds of them.

I also came across my Yamaha PX-2 turntable which is pictured below. I had picked up the turntable circa 1980. A beautiful and high performing unit.

Does it make sense to digitize all of those wonderful LPs? I thought I would try. Sadly, the turntable did not work. It would stop tracking after five minutes or so. Probably needs new belts and lubrication but where on earth would I find those parts? And, for the small bit of tracking that it was able to sustain, the sound quality was, well, really bad. In the haze of euphoria for all things analog, I had quite overlooked all of the negative attributes of vinyl: scratches, pops, crackles.

Sad to say, most of my LPs live on in the catalogs of iTunes. It is faster, easier and arguably of better quality to simply buy the digital copies from iTunes than go through all of the effort with manually migrating the current collection.

I will spend this evening building up the inventory and, for those LPs that matter, I will get a digital update.

I rarely have time to listen critically to music for pleasure in controlled listening environments. Virtually all of my pleasure listening occurs on the road — trains, planes and automobiles. AAC at 256kbps, or even 128kbps, works just fine. And much more portable than several hundred pounds of vinyl.

New Design

I had quite a few comments that the old design was a bit hard on the eyes. I hope this new design works out better for most people. I have tested it on a few browsers and everything seems to be working okay.

The Power Behind Microsoft

The world’s best laptop. Wonder if Steve Ballmer is running PowerPoint or Keynote?

Jonathan Yuen

I’m not sure who you are but you have created an incredible website.

Sorry Steve

I did not mean to imply in my last post that you are not Steve Ballmer pretending not to be Steve Ballmer. The blogosphere is a small place. My sincere apologies.

Safe, Secure and Private

The European Network and Information Security Agency highlighted numerous security issues for social networking sites such as Facebook and MySpace. Although I was aware of most of the issues, some of them are a bit troubling.

I maintain an online presence through a blog, a photoblog, Facebook, flickr, LinkedIn and Twitter. One of the threats is digital dossier aggregation. The profile information that is maintained online can be downloaded and stored by third parties without personal consent. Sadly, secondary data is also often present. For example, there are statistics maintained on the sites that can be readily accessed. Recent visits, lengths of connections, comments. All of this secondary data can also be gathered and associated with a profile.

One that I had not really considered was face recognition. Several of my sites include my digital image. Not only can primary and secondary information be gathered but a dossier could be populated with a recent photo.

Phishing can become more sophisticated as a result. Through the collection of such data, phishing attacks can become far more effective by leveraging names of known contacts through existing social networks. In extreme cases, a phishing attack could become a whaling attack by selecting higher profile targets.

Another threat is profile-squatting and reputation slander through identity theft. I will often visit sites like Fake Steve Jobs or Fake Steve Ballmer. And the content is obviously fabricated. However, the ability to assume a digital identity and slander or profit from identity theft is a real threat. And it is not hard to do.

Governments are attempting to understand the potential issues associated with incidental disclosure of personal information. And put in place a regulatory structure to ensure privacy. A necessary action.

For example, I started receiving much higher than normal unsolicited email content from vendors. In one case, the content originated from a vendor that I work with quite closely. I did not understand why I was receiving the material from someone else in their company. The reason? Identity theft. Some salesperson, desperate to obtain contact information, dumped his business card roster into Jigsaw, a website that offers an exchange of contact information. Once that website had my identity information, they traded it to other sales people looking for an entry point into a corporation.

I went to the website with only one objective: to get my identity information removed. And guess what? I can”™t. I do not own the data. Some website has taken data from my business card and they can circulate that data freely without my consent. They have over 8 million individual names in their database.

Although the security issues are more prevalent with social networking sites, it can also happen if you hand out a business card.

Welcome to 1984.

WordPress 2.5

I upgraded the blog to WordPress 2 dot 5. Carry on.