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Shiver me timbers: we are all pirates

Polemic ahoy, me buckaroos

Letters We thought we'd keep letters fairly light and breezy today (no, really) so why not begin with Microsoft's rather poorly-named OneCare PC health check service:


"Has anyone pointed out to Microsoft, how OneCare sounds, when spoken with a comedy French accent, Inspector Clouseau-style?"

I nearly killed myself laughing at that one. Being a French Canadian, with Friends overseas in Britain, I got this right off.

Thanks for the daily laugh!


Call me paranoid but it looks like at last, after twenty years, Microsoft have finally got the business model they really want: instead of buying their software once, you pay a monthly rental - and just keep on paying.

I predict that over time, this service will start to incorporate more and more - patches, service packs and even new versions of the operating system. The initial payment will become less and less, perhaps eventually becoming zero, while the monthly fee becomes the main component of the TCO. Eventually, it will become impossible to just buy Windows, rather than rent it.

Isn't this how mainframes used to operate in the bad old days of bureau services?

I suppose the good news is that we will no longer have to struggle with Windows copy protection - what's the point in pirating software if you still have to pay to use it?


OK, so light and breezy didn't last...moving on...

As technology develops, it just seems that it offers new ways for corporate entities to get offended by Joe Public. F'rinstance, take the question of streaming video from football matches:

It's all very fine the FA getting on their high horse about streaming of live matches, but if a match is sold out and it's only being shown live in Spain, for example, how else is a fan expected to see it? Why on earth should someone in Spain be able to see (say) Arsenal live on the TV and someone in London not be able to see them?


Looks like another missed opportunity.

They could have founded a portal for live game streaming, with heavy servers and enormous bandwidth, and a website designed to indicate clearly what was playing and where to click to see it. They could have slapped a small subscription fee on it (like $8 per month or something) and enthusiasts could then watch the whole game, while non-subscribers could catch five minutes of play time before being cut off.

Of course, said non-subscribers would only have to log on again, but can you image a rabid footy fan relogging every five minutes for more than 90 minutes ? Madness ! Or being cut off just twenty seconds before the end of the game ? Bloody murder !!

I'm sure the footy fan would try it once, or twice, but in the end he would cave in and pay, if only to save his sanity (or what's left of it). This could have been an opportunity to show how things could be done, and make boatloads of money on the side.

Not all football fans can view the live feeds, for various reasons. Allowing those who travel to still witness their precious game would be a boon for everyone, in my opinion. Allowing for the stream to be saved on disc for later viewing would be even better. And without DRM, please. Instead, we get another RIAA squad.

Way to go, FA guys. Please choke on your pretzels, will ya ?


And speaking of live coverage, how about watching TV on your mobile? What could possibly go wrong with that? Oh...

I can see it now.... "TV License required for all TV via 3G" will be a headline sometime soon.....


Does Orange's fee of GBP10/mo for "Orange TV" include the TV Licence that would legally be necessary in order to watch it?

Since their fee is smaller than the annual TV Licence Fee, I somehow doubt it.

While some residential Orange subscribers will be covered by their existing TV Licence, many won't, and most corporate subscribers will almost certainly not be covered.

Mind you, the detector vans are probably going to need an upgrade in order to detect these "viewers" <g>. Or they can just park up beside the 3G mast and wait... <eg>


Next, we have some very unhappy people. They have been thoroughly upset by the suggestion that evil convicts should be given access to the internet:

I don't usually agree with the government but I do agree with the Home Office's decision to block the idea of unrestricted internet access to those inside doing time.

I thought the idea of prison was to punish the offender for what (s)he has done and to rehabilitate them? How does unrestricted internet access help achieve any of those goals?

The idea of cons being able to keep in touch with their contacts on the outside, maybe using that to get even with the people who put them inside, is abhorrent.

Let's make sure we don't lose our focus here - prison is intended to punish and make those doing time realise they have done wrong to the community.

Giving them things like this is just pandering to the human rights brigade who don't care for the rights of the people who've been robbed, raped, beaten up and what have you.


So perhaps you (or someone) could tell me the incentive this gives to no reoffend? As it is they have TV's, Leisure facilities, Playstations and may other things that us non-offenders don't have. Plus they get all these wonderful things for FREE!

I can almost see the train of thought: "I know, I'll go rob that bank, put the money in a Swiss offshore account and go to jail for a few years. While I've got some time to myself I can trade some shares and invest the money over the internet so that when I'm released the £1m I robbed is now £15m!"

Please please tell me WHAT is the incentive not to go to jail. A lot of the prisoners have a better life now than they do being "free", which lets face it, no-one is. Keep up the cracking headlines Reg!


"There really is something wrong with our prisons when countries such as Hungary, Greece and Russia provide internet access to prisoners but we do not."

...there really is something wrong with the country (don't worry we have the same idiots here in Ireland) when people like this are allowed to be in charge... I wonder would he say the same if his house was burgled, his silverware stolen, and then sold on eBay? Now wouldn't that be nicely ironic ;)


We've forwarded all of the above to the Daily Mail...

And while we are on the subject of that esteemed publication, its readers will no doubt be delighted to hear that you just can't buy porn, mail order. You have to go into the shop and do the whole blushing-disinterested walking around pretending-not-to-be-there, thing:


I was just wondering what the implications are with the High Court ruling regarding the sale of R18 material.

The High Court has made a decision that it has to be face to face sales so the seller can determine the age of the buyer, so what about 18 certificate DVDs and videos, or booze? Or how about paysites with hardcore material that can accessed via credit card (surely the same way the sale of R18 DVDs works?).

If the High Court ruling was applied right across the board then surely a lot of businesses would cease to exist, of course we know it won't be applied across the board as the reason behind it isn't an interest in having a consistent approach to all crimes, it's an approach which says the sale of hardcore porn to children is a crime worse than the sale of booze or violent films to children, and as a result fully responsible adult purchasers of R18 content have to suffer.

Most interesting would be whether a similar grounding is applied to hardcore adult websites accessed via credit card, surely this is a loophole for any porn buying kids to exploit?


Does the judge honestly think that horny teenagers growing up in the on-demand world are going to sit and wait patiently for a DVD to arrive? Its not really going to make the blindest bit of difference. At 21, I think I know what I'm talking about when I say the judge is living in a different world.

Children have unrestricted access to the most graphic pornography for free via Google. As more and more people move off that crummy modem and onto high speed unlimited broadband the potential has exploded. Add a little dose of file sharing and bittorrent and kids burning customised DVDs of the juiciest content and hey presto. And you only need one kid who can use Kazaa and a burner doing this to start a distribution network. Tech savy teens might even use live CD Knoppix to ensure minimal log traces.

And thats if they wanted free porn without the paper trail that purchasing online leaves behind. If they were going to purchase pron, they would sign up to online sites using their credit cards and be billed as "The Internet Billing Co." or some such nondescript name.

The simple fact is, that 2 hours alone on a computer is plenty enough time for a little porno and no parent can look over their childs shoulder 24/7.

(btw, please don't print my name. my dad + co-workers might be reading this)

What would the court say about the cigarette's machines which do not ask age and widely used by teenagers?


So the courts have upheld a ban on mail order R18 movies to help protect children. So I wonder why the same precaution does not apply to the mail order purchase of alcohol, cigarettes, knives, a variety of drugs (eg. paracetamol), rat poison, sulphuric acid, air rifles, etc?

Regards, Ian

Vodafone's extra simple phone has an admirer:

So Vodaphone now offers a mobile phone designed for "technophobic old geezers" - how condescending, and how stupid.

Who do you think DESIGNS the electronics for these gizmo-laden multi-function devices marketed to the 20-something munchkins with millisecond attention spans? Hint- it isn't the users! It's us old geezers! WE are the Masters of Technology, not the users.

How about marketing this as a phone for grown-ups who don't need to play Donkey Kong every waking moment, who don't need to listen to music or mindless talk show babble, and who are not totally horrified by peace and quiet?

A telephone is a message machine, not a mobile baby-sitter and all-purpose all-singing all-dancing entertainment device. All this crap is simply a marketing ploy - selling the sizzle, not the steak.

Now that they have finally brought out a mobile phone that does what it is supposed to do, and nothing else, I might just get one.


Thus rather proving their point, no?

Digital ID that is a good idea?


Please could you challange (the UK) Government to start using digital ID on all their digital communications? An email from my MP, Tax man or other civil servant would protect me from phishing more than proving my ID to them!

It would also be the best way to encourage use of ID.

Of course, that all Government correspondence could not repudiated would be a interesting side effect!

Yours , in mischief

Peter Dawe

"However. digital certificates failed to take off in the UK in the way imagined."

The reason they failed to take off was because the govt gateway implementation didn't work.

The govt gateway used a downloadable Sun Java widget (I forget the tech term) for the certificate validation and this was around the time that Microsoft stopped supporting Sun Java.

We did for a couple of weeks manage to log on by switching IE between Microsoft Java support and Sun Java support but was advised by the gov't gateway support guys to switch back to straight-forward id and password logon. We gave up on the e-gov on-line stuff at this time because it had used up too much resource (we imagined it might eventually save us time).

We have bitten the bullet this year and re-registered for standard id and password - a fairly drawn out process since we have had to call each agency individually to ask them to delete our access credentials then do the whole application process again ... this time for just an ordinary id and password. Probably 40 hours of work in total with all the buggering about trying to find out why the PKI stuff didn't work.

The gateway support guys btw had no idea why the key validation didn't work but we found the answer by searching the newsgroup archives. Another fine and expensive gov't cock-up and also a cover up on why the initiative didn't work in the first place - nothing to do with the expense of certificates.


Lastly, a bunch of white-coated types in California thought they might have had a good idea about how to protect DVDs. Not so:

I'm not even sure Hollywood are going to win out of this one. I wonder what percentage of DVDs are bought as presents. Sorry I don't know Granny's biocode, I guess I'll have to buy her some chocolates instead :-) Ken

You've already demolished this stupid plan, but few more reasons it will never work:

1. how will people buy DVDs as gifts? and goes the second hand market 2. how will rentals work? 3. bang goes the second hand market

Well, #3 probably doesn't matter to MPAA, but #2 is a huge source of revenue and #1 is probably where most DVDs are bought.

It's just such a crap idea, I can't believe anyone was stupid enough to admit to it.


Yeah..... So a DVD is tied to the purchaser....

Another few downsides you failed to mention are: How could you give it as a gift? Lick the DNA tester on the checkout line at BestBuy?

What would you do, send a stool sample to Amazon so they can have an on hand DNA sample to RFID when you buy a DVD online?

Just another agreeing naysayer

Thanks, John

Not only is point-of-sale biometrics irritating and expensive, it also > rules out a huge proportion of the market it's designed for.

How do you provide biometrics for a DVD bought online? Either Amazon send a guy round to your house to take biometrics, or everyone has to buy some kind of boimetric-id-reader for their PC at home, or you just disable the whole thing for online purchases.

I don't fancy any of the above ideas, personally, and I doubt anyone involved will either.

Even for items bought in-shop it's a ridiculous concept. "Hey, mum, I bought you this DVD for Christmas, but you'll have to come to my house to watch it..."

If only they'd put the effort into improving distribution channels that they currently put into breaking them...


Was I the only one who read that as "Californian boffins plot privacy-proof DVD players"?

If I forget my passport at the airport, will the biometrics in my DVD be enough to authenticate me?

If I put in a DVD my sister bought for my birthday, will my DVD player say "I'm sorry Jeff, I can't do that"?


All good questions, Jeff. We quite like the idea of a DVD player replacement for passports, though. Travel documents and travel entertainment in one. Spiffing.

Back with more on Friday. ®

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