Bye bye DRM

Arguments against digital rights management (DRM) systems frequently claim that they inconvenience legitimate customers, while not offering the media owners any real protection because those who want to get around the protection will do so (usually sooner rather than later).

To reinforce this point there have been 2 interesting pieces of news recently.

Firstly someone has shown a way to bypass the content protection on both of the next generation DVD formats (HD-DVD and Blueray). These had been touted as being highly secure so that people could not backup/copy/use in an “unaurthorised manned” the movies they contained, but for all their efforts they are back to where they started, having secured nothing, and inconvenienced legitimate customers (there are frequent reports of people not being able to play HD movies they had legitimately bought, because the DVD’s DRM didn’t consider their hardware setup sufficiently secure).

Next is a report that almost as soon as it had been released, someone has managed to bypass the much vaunted “Protected Media Path” (PMP) within Microsoft’s new Vista operating system. As I understand it, PMP is supposed to stop other programs from listening in on and recording audio and video content between the processor and the speakers or the screen, thus eliminating another way that popular software commonly copies digital media. There are no specific details at the moment of exactly how this hack works, but you can bet that it will either be released shortly, or someone else will take up the challenge and release their method. Between this, several other reported hacks, and a number of viruses already spreading that effect Vista, Microsoft’s “Most secure OS ever” is starting to look not that secure after all.

Want Japanese Music?

Slate has an interesting piece on buying music from iTunes stores other than the one for your specific country.

It uses the example of Japanese songs that you can’t buy through iTunes America, but can buy through itunes Japan (if you live in Japan), mainly it seems because the author has a slightly unhealthy fascination with obscure Japanese pop and rock bands, but that’s neither here nor there.

It ponders why the music companies cannot come up with some arrangement so that you can buy music from overseas iTunes stores (after all, a sale is revenue for them, and denying it decreases their profit and promotes file sharing to get music), and also has some interesting comments on the various ways people routinely work around these restrictions, which is something I hadn’t read about before (apparently you can easily buy legit prepaid iTunes cards for other countries on popular auction websites, and then just buy songs using those).

Interesting read anyway.

General update

As you will probably have gathered from my previous post about Jack’s hectic life recently, we have been a bit busy.

Simone finished her six months at Nabour just before christmas with no particular desire to return there any time soon (there may or may not have been some hand based gestures in the general direction of the hospital as she packed up her car and drove off down the road).

We then spent 2 weeks over christmas in NZ visiting my family, and seeing my beloved wellington again. It ended up being quite abusy holiday and there wasn’t quite as much general relaxing as we might have liked.

My parents’ cat died late last year, and so it was a bit sad and unusual having christmas without a cat (it’s kind of a family tradition that all the wrapping paper goes in a pile on the floor that the cat can then play in).

After that we returned to Brisbane to pack up our stuff and move house. I had to return to work, but Simone had the last week off on holidays still and so she packed our house (well, read her book while the guys paid for by the hospital packed our house) and then flew up to Cairns to find a house for us to live in.

She found us a good one, and at the end of the week I too flew up to Cairns and we moved into our house.

Due to the fact that there are a number of new housing estates being built about 20 minutes out or central cairns there were a lot of 4 bedroom houses for rent at similar or cheaper prices than smaller places slightly closer to town, so we ended up getting a house which realistically is spectacularly too big for our actual needs, but it damn comfortable all the same.

It also means that if anyone is passing through Cairns and needs a place to stay we again have a spare room with a double bed and air conditioning in it.

Following that we both started work. The hospital itself seems really nice and laid back (although we have already found that the admin seems to be a bit more disorganised than previous hospitals we’ve worked at (if that’s even possible)).

We haven’t had much chance to get out and do much in Cairns or it’s surrounds yet due to house unpacking and Simone being on call last weeked, but I can already see that I’m going to have a great time here in winter exploring the surrounding rain forests etc (at the moment you’re hard pressed to get me out the door – I step outside, start immediately perspiring, mutter something along the lines of “Ooof. It’s hot” and head back to the air conditioning).

So that’s what’s up with us. I should have regular internet access again in about a week, so hopefully I will begin updating this regularly after that.

Jack’s hectic month

Jack has, over the last month or so, had to put up with some rather major impositions to his usual lazy lifestyle.

Firstly, over christmas, while Simone and I went to NZ to see my folks, Jack took his first trip to the cattery. Apparently he settled in pretty quickly, but I think he was pleased when we came to collect him.

Then he had to put up with strange people coming to his house and packing up all the stuff, leaving him with ony his mum and dad, two suitcases, and a blow up mattress to interact with. How boring!

Then shortly after that was the further indignity of being put in a carry case for a plane ride to cairns, and another stay in a cattery while Simone went looking for a house.

Finally we moved in to the house, recieved all our stuff, and picked jack up again, so that he could “help” us unpack everything. He likes the new house, because it’s big so that he can rn around and spend his time between different rooms, but dislikes it because it’s in an unfamiliar neighbourhood with a couple of little yappy dogs in the house next door, and no easy way for him to get in and out without us opening a door.

Jack tells me that all in all he’s had enough adventure for the time being, and would like a nice calm month or two, and a tall scotch (if that’s not asking too much).