Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2005/09/23/letters_2309/

Martian snowboarders download imaginary nipples

Pearls of wisdom from our beloved readers

By Lucy Sherriff

Posted in Letters, 23rd September 2005 14:52 GMT

Letters A very musical haul in today's Letters round-up. That tends to spill over into questions of civil liberties and freedoms, and we've got a few thoughts on those subjects too. In between the issues, some of you were upset that we teased Nokia about selling its billionth phone in Nigeria, others were less than impressed with portable Flash, while others still just wanted to see nipples. You know who you are.

So, to start, let's examine the software proposed by the BPI that promises to sort through your hard drive and identify all the naughty illegal downloads for you:

I would be interested to know how many people at the BPI have ever written a piece of music, how many play musical instruments, and how many have a working lump of computational matter between their ears.

This P2P zapping software again asserts that all "music" MUST come from a BPI recognised source, with DRM attached, or else it should be considered "suspicious".

What they are really worried about is musicians bypassing their poxy old 1920s revenue collection model, simply releasing stuff alone, without paying for the BPI's lunch expenses and office renovation projects. This is undoubtedly what REALLY keeps them up at night.

Mark


Having conducted a brief test of the software i would like to report my result.

I am a big supporter of the music and i purchase a large amount of legitimate downloads, however i am very specific in my requirements, i only pay for unrestricted DRM free downloads, at least in part because i am a part time MP3 DJ and DRM protected files simply do not work with any DJing software.

I do download files illegally but only when i cannot get them legitimately in the format i require or even get them at all for a lot of obscure dance tracks. I have about 10 legal downloads for every illegal one in my collection, although the ratio is the other way round on the test computer.

On the computer I ran the software on there are 10 or so legitimate downloads i have paid for and 100 or so illegal downloads. The software flagged up the 10 or so legitimate downloads as being probably illegal, seemingly on the basis that they were DRM free and in my My Music folder.

It completely missed the 100 or so illegal files which were in a folder called tunes in the route of my second hard drive partition.

100% false positives and a 0% detection rate for my genuine illegal files.

It did successfully spot my bit torrent client, although i mainly use this for downloading open source software. Not a very useful piece of software for anyone really.

Ben


"The BPI claims illegal file-sharing cost the UK music industry £654m in 2003 and 2004."

My CFO says, "Show me the list of products which did not sell, and the evidence establishing a direct link between illegal file-sharing and the unsold products."

In other words, she says that claim is bollocks. She's been in the accountancy game for longer than most Reg readers have been alive, and we've twice begged her to delay her retirement (with success, thanks to generous enticements); I trust her judgment in all matters fiduciary.

Morely


Just for a laugh I installed the Digital File Check on my work computer (yes, I have an "advanced" sense of humour). What was that comment about people being more willing to take risks with their work machines? Anyway...

First of all, I got an error message from the installer, saying the command line arguments were incorrect (I hadn't given it any). Then it went ahead and installed anyway. So far, not very confidence inspiring.

I set it to work scanning the machine. It didn't find any P2P applications, correctly because there aren't any. It also listed every sound, video and image file on my disk, no matter what they were, with the message "It may include copyrighted or unwanted material".

Er, yeah.

If I was feeling exceptionally stupid, with a couple of clicks I could have deleted every one of them.

Where's the uninstaller..?

Peter

Not a resounding success, then?


An interval in our musical coverage. The ever-forward motion of technological development (in this case, portable USB flash drives) leaves a few supergeeks wondering: what's so cool about that?

I don't understand how 'special' technology is required to do this.

I have been doing it for ages with a 30gb laptop hdd in a usb enclosure. Few people realise that autorun.ini files will also work on flash drives. As such, a drop-down list can be populated when users right click on the drive. At the moment I have PortableFirefox, Opera, a synchronisation utility, and an ipod music ripper all running from the hdd.

I can hear the uninformed masses getting ripped off already.

Henry


Your article regarding the new U3 standard was mostly correct, baring your final assertion that Linux does not support this. As far as I can tell the idea actually evolved from the Linux heads.

About 2 years ago I first started seeing Linux heads installing full distros (back then micro distros) of Linux onto USB Flash memory devices and then, on appropriately modern BIOS's, being about to boot from USB.

As time has passed the practice seems to have grown to a point where occasionally (by no means often admittedly) business visitors to our companies offices request use of PC's with BIOS's suitable for booting from USB. These people are using 2-4GB USB drives with almost complete versions of Gentoo and Red Hat running on them - all very impressive and thankfully I don't need to attempt (and fail) to support them if something goes wrong.

Regards, Eoin.

Back to the songs. This time the question is pricing and the complainant is Apple. Seems Mr, Jobs ain't too happy about record labels demanding that Apple's iTunes store ups the price of the songs available for downloading:

I work for a company that has an online music shop. I can (anonymously) confirm, that there are differential prices on songs, with the newest songs being more expensive than the back catalogue.

But since the back catalogue makes up over 80% of the sales we can still make a profit even if we lose on the newest songs.

I am sure it is the same for Apple.

Initially we had differential prices, but competition forced us to go the route of fixed pricing.

Anon


All music labels can't get together and agree to a common, coordinated price increase because doing so would break antitrust laws. Therefore, any plans to increase pricing must be taking place on a label-by-label basis.

Here's what Apple should do to handle such a situation. Say label A comes to Apple and says we're increasing our price from X cents (or pence) per song to Y cents (or pence) per song. Apple should simply say "okay" and then quadruple the price of songs from that label on ITMS, with a note on ITMS pages for that labels songs saying that the label has greedily increased its price per song simply to increase profits, and so Apple has decided to likewise greedily increase its price per song for songs from that label to increase profits.

Sales of songs from that label would drop to somewhere in the neighborhood of zero. I'm sure that ITMS sales are very important to labels, even if volumes are still modest at the moment. Not only are there no marketing costs (as you pointed out in your article) but there are also no material (media/packaging) costs, no distribution costs, etc. Perhaps a move like this on Apple's part would cause them to reconsider.

Simon


If anything, prices still need to come down. As is rightly pointed out in the article, the music studios are making more money from digital downloads than their CD counterparts. How can this be right? The digital version should be the no-frills, basic version of the product and the CD should be the super-deluxe premium version (with music videos, case art, etc.)

Until this is the case, there is no way they can justify charging the same amount (or, indeed, more) for digital as for CD. I'm sure they won't put CD prices up (as that would encourage bootlegging), so digital prices have to come down. When that happens I might consider buying digital music when I don't want the extra bits you get with CD.

Until then, I'll stick with my physical media, booklets and all.

(As for calling people who illegally distribute music 'pirates', we're making them out to be better than they are. Yes, it used to be a good term but in recent years (curse thee Johnny Depp!) we've come to see pirates as the good guys rather than what they really were - raping, murdering thieves. Pirates in the 60s were sticking it to the man (as it were) and again were seen as the good guys.

People who illegally distribute music are *not* the good guys! Why not start calling them what they really are - thieves - and have done with it?)

Dave

Oooooo. Controversial...

Next, brace yourselves if you are easily offended. Yes, we made a joke about 419 scammers in the context of news that Nokia's billionth phone had shipped in Nigeria:

Isn't the Nigeria=419 joke starting to get a bit old now? OK, corruption and fraud are huge problems in Nigeria (although I reckon the biggest problem of all here is bureaucracy) but that kind of attitude really isn't helping to fix things.

I'm working in Nigeria trying to improve things just a little bit, but keep hitting problems where potential equipment suppliers will ignore attempts to contact them because they assume any email coming from Nigeria must be a 419.

Kevin

As long as the emails keep coming, we'll keep making jokes about them. That being said, it obviously isn't great if the preponderance of the scam emails has had a knock on effect on legitimate businesses...


Do you not realise this is a Scam? Classic scam e-mail from Nigeria! I received loads when i was selling my car and my computer.

They end you a cheque, that will never cash, and then you sen then the western union money transfer to refund them the difference which is not traceable once they have picked up the cash! simple!

Rory

It is just possible that Rory missed the joke in a different direction than some of our other correspondents...


I think this article is really borderline offensive. There is no need whatsoever to immediately link Nigeria with this sort of stuff, as a > journalist you are just reinforcing stereotypes. If you would really > want to write about this "event" you could have chosen much more interesting angles (e.g. success of entry level phones such as Nokia 1100 in Nigeria, importance of emerging markets for mobile phone sales, etc. etc.). You really went for the easy one.

You don't write for the Daily Mail do you? Cheers,

Bart


Isn't your snarky piece about the billionth Nokia phone to Nigeria just blatant racism? Or do you genuinely believe that the entire population of 129m Nigerians are 419 scammers?

Not normally disgusted, but disgusted.

M Atherton

Oh dear. Well, Bart, Mike, we would direct your attention to the many (many) stories we have run poking fun at a very wide variety of nations, without prejudice, as it were. We can assure you that much like the current US administration, our piss-taking recognises no international borders.


Shock news emerged this week: mobile phones annoy people, especially at work. Come on, stop falling over like that. We did warn you it was shocking:

I have two points: we want to be able tor receive SMSs immediately, so we should be tolerant of others when they receive them, although strictly in moderation.

Basic manners come into play: if you receive a call/SMS that you'd like to take, you should ask the permission of those whom you're with, if you may take the call. Likewise, with people calling you on the train/bus: one should tolerate a call/SMS as long as it does not intrude upon fellow passengers. People can talk/chat quietly (They don't, but it is possible).

However, that people don't consider others is a sign that we are moving towards a less considerate, more ego-centric society.

Secondly, I work in Switzerland. Here our (personal) mobiles are considered semi-business property. My personal mobile number is printed on my business card and customers/suppliers ask for this number as a matter of course. As a consequence, most of the calls to mobiles are work-related, and the necessary allowance is made. All parties (except the caller) may not like it, but is now a status-quo.

Indeed, it was reported in local newspapers yesterday that there are now [more] active mobile numbers than people here. A division of public and private life, no doubt.

Regards, Sean Redmond


I'm surprised nobody mentioned the bloody annoying ringtones some muppets insist on having at full volume...

Cliff


Great advice for slackers with unimportant jobs! Tradefloor workers better not heed any of that as traders will stomp up from the floor to shove the phone you haven't answered up your own arse, and rightly so!

K Rgds,

Guy


Good Stuff.

Now, any advice regarding those who insist on playing their music on their phones crappy little speaker whilst sitting behind me on the bus? Are they not aware that shite music sounds even worse when played at waveform-clipping volumes?

Neal

No2ID protestors managed to get themselves kicked out of a shopping centre this week, for leafleting with intent to inform:

Having had a long interest in Britain's cold war history, this incident seems incredibly similar to the protests for and against cruise missiles 25 years ago.

In an article in the New Statesman, EP Thompson reckoned there were really only two kinds of information around: if something was to *inform the public* then various establishment organs acted as vectors for official pap.

The second kind was information to *educate the public* - this he defined as material that was often an awesome secret, backed by state sanctions and threats of up to 14 years in jail. At the MetroCentre (about 3 miles from my house) that distinction from 25 years ago is back again.

Government leafleting and propaganda by establishment persons in an establishment venue is okay; its legitimate for a government mandarin to engage in indoctrination of an idea just as insane as cruise missiles from 1979.

Those on the other side of the fence, be they CND then, or No2ID now, find themselves hamstrung by illegitimate, wicked authority that has the power to silence any opponent.

In that issue of New Statesman from Dec, 1979, Thompson closed his article by saying "look where you will, there is no end to the insanity of the whole operation". I find it bitterly cruel that after a quarter century our lamentable democracy has advanced no further.

Best regards,

Kevin


And so to the important question of hallucinated nipples. This one worried us in many ways:

And you should be ashamed. I spent some of my Extremely Valuable Time reading that article, and there are no nipples at all! Surely, somewhere on the Internet, you could find a picture including a nipple to put in that article. Probably you could even find it on your hard drive, sheesh.

And I'll let you know, too, the only reason I'm even spending any of my Extremely Valuable Time to give you this feedback is that you have the word "bonk" on your feedback page.

And this is the last paragraph I'll start with "And."

Curt

We'd apologise, but we'd be lying.


Lastly, a much more interesting explanation has been put forward for some of the changes to the Martian sand dunes:

Boulders rolling down a hill my arse!

Anybody who watches extreme sports on Sky will recognise the tell-tale path carved by radical eXXXtreme (to the max) snowboarders. I blame my brother - he hasn't been answering his texts for a while; I bet the bugger's been on Mars. Typical...

Mark

And with that, we're off to parachute onto a spikey mountain somewhere equipped with nothing but skis, a woolly hat and an iPod Nano. Enjoy the weekend. ®