The FBI picked yesterday to raid and take down MegaUpload.
In what was, obviously, intended to say “Fuck you America, we don’t need SOPA to do this”, the jack booted thugs at the FBI, acting upon orders from their commanders at the MAFIAA (A catch all term that is commonly used to refer to RIAA/MPAA/BSA type cartel organizations), seized the MegaUpload domain, arrested the owners and administrators, and replaced it with the standard finger wagging “This domain has been seized” banner.
Anonymous responded by taking out the DoJ, FBI, and some cartel websites with a Distributed Denial of Service attack. (Windows malware-controlled PCs can do something productive I guess.)
Sure, MegaUpload probably had some files that were violating copyright. I know Twitter does. So does Facebook, Google Docs, Amazon “Cloud”, the Ubuntu One skin for “Amazon Cloud”, and many others. Incidentally, they all oppose SOPA, not because it’s the moral and just position to be in (it is), but because it would cause them an undue burden to ceaselessly monitor their users. Under SOPA/PIPA, legitimate websites can be taken down by the government because one of their users posted a link to copyright-infringing material. SOPA/PIPA is clearly designed to discourage sites from allowing user-generated content. (I guess that means that if SOPA/PIPA get passed into law, you won’t be reading any more blogs.)
If you think about it, MegaUpload was in the same “cloud storage” business that companies like Amazon and Microsoft are in, it is my firm belief that the US government only picked on MegaUpload because they made the government come back with a warrant when they wanted private user data, and Amazon and Microsoft are all too eager to comply with them with no court supervision required.
While I’m on the subject of major “cloud” storage sites, I’ve noticed a lot of “pirated software” on Microsoft Windows Skydrive, including materials to crack Microsoft software. Go figure.
The Federal Government has generally left certain “cloud” storage companies alone because they comply with warrantless sneak and peak searches, authorized not by the Constitution, but by anti-terrorism legislation rammed through in the aftermath of 9/11, when people were so frightened that they let the government pass anything and everything that claimed to “protect” them. The legislation hasn’t caught one terrorist in 11 years, it has not stopped a single terrorist attack anywhere in the world.
What it is doing, is enabling the US government agents on the MAFIAA payroll to take down sites without even bothering to give lip service to constitutional “protections” like freedom of speech, freedom against self-incrimination, the right to due process and equal protection of the laws, etc.
If anything is enabling “terrorism” on Americans, it is laws like the PATRIOT ACT, DMCA, proposed SOPA/PIPA, companies like Apple and Microsoft, and products like iTunes.
Companies that write and push these laws are terrorist organizations. Wiktionary defines terrorism as “A psychological strategy of war for gaining political or religious ends by deliberately creating a climate of fear among the population of a state.” The fear inspired by possible SOPA violations is designed to get the population of a state (the United States) to censor themselves. When the day comes that you can’t even talk about things they don’t like, you’re being censored, regardless of what SOPA proponents like MPAA scumbag Chris Dodd will tell you. (Now should we go after the MPAA/RIAA with cruise missiles, or should we take this opportunity to try out Prompt Global Strike? It would be the best use of my tax money in a long time either way.)
When you buy things from Microsoft, Apple, iTunes, RIAA labels, the MPAA, or various other censorship promoters, you’re not supporting American jobs, you’re supporting draconian laws like the PATRIOT ACT, DMCA, and the proposed SOPA. These things don’t just come out of nowhere, the promoters of them use a lot of money (some of it may even be from you) to grease the wheels. I don’t even believe it is just campaign contributions either. I think there’s plenty of cash under the table going to our elected officials from these outfits. Mexican President Felipe Calderon said at one point that part of the reason so many illegal drugs were getting across the border was because American politicians were taking cash money from drug cartels to make sure that certain smugglers got through without any issues at the border. Why would anyone have a hard time believing that American politics works differently elsewhere?
I haven’t bought any new RIAA-labeled music since the RIAA sued Napster. (I have bought some used CDs, mostly of stuff I listened to in the 80s and 90s. In compliance with the First Sale Doctrine.) I have not purchased any MPAA-labeled movies since they got on the lawsuit wagon. I specifically refuse to buy anything from Adobe, Apple, or Microsoft. As these companies started to openly work against my interests, I cut myself away from them. I could ignore them no longer. Will it stop them? No. It will never stop them as long as people think it is socially acceptable to spend money on cartel-promoted intangible items like MP3 files and ebooks and movies. The only thing I can do is apologize for my part of funding them and not do it again.
On so-called “Piracy”? I have no ethical problems with sharing information to help your friends. Unfortunately the MAFIAA has the finest government money can buy in the United States, and sharing information to help your friends can be illegal.
I’ve posted before what my thoughts are on “digital purchases”, they’re just a sneaky way to remove ownership from you and allow the MAFIAA to never let your “purchases” out of their sight. “Content” on “the cloud” is even worse because then you’re not even in possession of the file. It is the ultimate Digital Restrictions Management, cloaked as a kind of convenience.
“What about stores selling files? They got rid of DRM years ago!”
A common misconception exists around that. The only reason Apple doesn’t use DRM on their proprietary AAC files, and why many MP3 stores such as Amazon’s don’t do so either, is due to the obvious argument that the Red Book CD standard never had DRM. The argument can still be made, as long as CDs are still for sale, that the customer could theoretically buy and rip their own CDs. Thus there’s no reason to DRM-cripple the digital stuff until they cease making CDs. (Though it didn’t stop Apple from attempting this, they didn’t back off of it for years, and then they forced all their customers to buy the files all over again to get a clean copy) Then it will be back. Take my word, it’ll be back. Notice how there are precisely ZERO online movie stores with no DRM? Blu Ray has about half a dozen layers of DRM, and you have to crack them all before the disc plays on a non-”authorized” device. Since, barring violation of the DMCA, it’s impossible to make a clean copy of n HD movie, Apple and other stores don’t have to provide you with a clean copy of a movie that you have nominally “bought”. (They can take it away at any time thanks to their Foulplay DRM).
What companies are going for with SOPA and other “anti-piracy” laws is no less than the death of the free and open internet where all (regardless of government and corporate approval) are more or less free to voice their opinion and make their own websites and host their own material, and to turn it into something that more closely resembles America Online or the Microsoft Network from the 1990s. Full of nothing but tons of corporate-controlled push content and advertising, and the pack of pedophiles that lurk around that they’re really not interested in doing anything about. (They never have been interested in stopping pedophiles. Pedophiles don’t cost companies any money and provide a great excuse to raid sites they dislike.)
I don’t disagree with what Anonymous does. They are striking back at an oppressive, extralegal, and anti-constitutional cabal of government gone bad and out of control corporations. If anyone from them reads this, I’d like to put in a request. Next time, DDoS those parasites over at Apple, take down iTunes, do something that stings. Godspeed and good sailing!
This work by Ryan Farmer is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Today on The Heise Online, they mention that Microsoft is set to automatically download and install the latest version of Internet Explorer that manages to run on the particular Windows version installed. Since XP is the oldest thing they support, those users will get the obsolete Internet Explorer 8 browser, and Windows 7 users will no doubt get IE 9, which is only barely an improvement over IE 8.
I have no idea how they plan on updating Windows Vista users, but that will no doubt be another surprise for anyone foolish enough to actually be using it. There is IE 9 support for Vista (Which is where they will cut off support), but to get it you need a humongous “platform update” full of select backported crap from Windows 7.
Regardless of what version of Windows the user has, an Internet Explorer update is always dangerous since Microsoft continues to claim it is a system component and not a web browser. It means that at best, you need to reboot your computer, and if the upgrade goes wrong it can mean anything from Internet Explorer not working to the Windows shell failing in inappropriate ways. Internet Explorer installations and upgrades have had a significant number of cases of destroying the operating system beyond being salvageable since at least Windows 95.
No decent operating system claims the web browser is an integrated component that can’t be removed. The Internet Explorer situation is a continuing monopoly abuse and Internet Explorer itself is a relic from the 1990s, when Microsoft tried killing Netscape by forcibly installing their own web browser into Windows.
While we’re on the topic, most other operating systems don’t need to reboot after the user updates their web browser, file manager, media player, email client…..
This “almost comical if so many Microsoft victims weren’t suffering through it” situation makes me wonder what kind of a contrived setup those Microsoft funded “studies” used to get “99.999% uptime”. As soon as you apply any patch or update for Windows, it needs rebooted before the new files are used. Even if the user doesn’t want to reboot. Windows will pester them until they do or better yet, start a countdown and reboot the computer without regard to any work the user has left open and unsaved.
This was one factor, out of many, that frustrated me enough to leave Windows. Another factor is that they routinely triage security patches and frequently leave critical flaws open until the next month, like they did with BEAST this month.
That graph is funny, isn’t it? It’s not that Windows has gotten safer, it’s simply that Microsoft is stretching to classify updates that once would have rated critical as “important” based on the factors of “security improvements” in Windows that are often ineffective. (ASLR not being as random as it could be. NX/DEP being off by default for 32-bit software, many applications don’t bother using stack smashing protection because it exposes their programming flaws and causes them to crash, etc.) In many cases the user is left less than protected by what passes as Windows “security improvements” which is why malware is still rampant.
How can any human being tolerate this?
So I went to install VLC in Kubuntu and find it depends on libbluray, which wants to pull in Java.
I can almost hear you saying “VLC plays Blu Ray now? Cool! Finally those MAFIAA bastards will pay for their DRM crimes! Viva la libdvdcss!”, but before you get excited, it doesn’t play any DRM’d discs, which as far as I know includes all of them. . What’s worse than useless is useless and bringing in Java. I hate desktop Java.
This is in addition to the fact that Pulseaudio support (You know, Pulseaudio, unless you’ve been living under a rock) has been broken in VLC for a very long time.
I give up, you win, no longer will I use your software. UMPlayer is better anyway.
I recently spent a day with Ubuntu Natty and Unity:
I was not expecting it to work well, and I got everything I expected. Unlike some reviewers, I’m aware that the thing is essentially a broken GNOME 2 fork and will treat it as such.
The thing that is most annoying is that Unity replaces a lot of standard desktop features with proprietary Canonical replacements that fall under the Canonical Contributor Agreement. This effectively is as good as making all of this stuff nonfree software, because Canonical could at some point re license all of it however they like. It’s not like any other distro (or desktop environment) is jumping at the chance to ship broken software like the Indicator API, precisely because it is broken and just a really dumbed down notification tray.
Which brings me to indicator applets:
Why? Why why why why WHY!? How can you replace standard notification applets that work, that the user can right click on, that every other desktop environment uses, and call them deprecated, and then replace them with something that doesn’t work right most of the time?
The GNOME 2 system tray is still there, but Canonical only allows “whitelisted” applications to use it. This is necessary because not everything works with Indicators and likely never will. Rather than simply blacklist the applications that have Indicators from using the system tray, Canonical has decided to break many applications, such as XChat and the HP printer toolkit (just to name a couple that I use. And the gain? My 1920 x 1080 display saves like 2″ of horizontal top bar space because Canonical wants to be Nazis and dictate how many icons I can have up there, and of what kind they can be.
A fix has been posted, but don’t count on it working for long, as Canonical’s Sebastian Bacher explains that the standard notification tray will be removed eventually and Canonical doesn’t care if their replacement doesn’t really work.
“…re-enforce the message to application writer that they will need to update their code if they want it to work correctly in Ubuntu in the next cycles“
I kind of take that to imply that upstream application writers should give a crap whether or not their application that uses standard notifications breaks in Canonical’s Indicator Crapplet. If you’re an application writer, you shouldn’t be bullied into breaking your application to work with the incorrect behavior of Indicators.
There’s a lot about Unity that doesn’t work right, why focus on Indicators?
Because they don’t work right, they never will, and it’s by design. Maybe someday a user will be able to use Unity without it freezing their computer every hour or so (like it currently does), because that’s not intentional, it’s just shoddy work. Indicators are one of those “solution looking for a problem” deals where I don’t believe that anyone from Canonical will ever admit that they are wrong and that it was a bad idea.
Not that I think GNOME 3 is better.
Unity and GNOME 3 are both “designed” (if you can call it that) around incompetent users who are confused with user-toggled settings. They both manifest bad design with the idea that the user is an idiot confused by features, they just go about it in different ways. GNOME 3 is worse in some ways than Unity (No Maximize/Minimize, very difficult to change your theme, they break notifications in their own way by hiding them unless you mouse over, etc.).
Use something else if you value your sanity. KDE has sane defaults, user-toggled settings abound, it doesn’t crash a lot, and the desktop is basically the same with or without a fancy video card/driver combo that give you eye candy. (Where you get a totally craptacular fallback mode in GNOME 3 and GNOME 2 with Indicator Crapplets with Ubuntu.)