My Issues With Early Adopters

Here’s something I wrote a while back…

Today, I went browsing the Internet looking for the release date for Windows Phone 7.8 for my Nokia Lumia 900. While on my search, which turned up no useful information, I once again ran into posts by people blaming Nokia for letting them down (by not allowing them to update their current generation Nokia phones to WP8). As always the commentors were furious, unforgiving, and redundant. Obvious issues with updating current gen phones and the state of OS updates and rollout schedules aside, there seemed to be a missing component to the whole argument.

Lots of people like to remind these ardent commentors of the fact that technology changes very rapidly. As such, cell phones come out which use updated software and top of the line hardware, but are shortly outdated by a new version of software which requires newer hardware. Much like computers…

I can recall a day when you would purchase a computer with the best processor, highest RAM, biggest hard drive, and most powerful graphics engine. The next week a new computer would come out which had twice as good specs but still costs about the same. And I got to thinking about all the other things which run similar cycles.

You buy the newest vacuum cleaner, they come out with one that has better suction and more attachments. You buy a new car, the next model year gets better gas mileage and has more room. You buy a TV, video game system, blender, radio, or even furniture and the companies come out with new versions and models. That is how they make money. It is also coincidentally what happens as companies do research and development on their products. These companies aren’t trying to rip us off (mostly). They are trying to out-do their competitors by releasing better products. They are trying to give consumers more choice. They’re trying to provide us with more powerful devices that hog less energy and perform more tasks more efficiently. If they just did research and development forever without releasing a device, you wouldn’t have a device to complain about anyway.

So, that’s my grief today.

Bye.

Bloggers Revelation on Getting Visitors

I just had a revelation (while thinking about another persons blog I read recently) on getting visitors to your site.

I’m sitting here reading my own blog posts and being very interested in them. Now, of course I would be interested in them, as the person who wrote them shares my writing style, humor, and even verbage (’cause it’s me). But I also simply found the stories, which are very old stories I haven’t read in a long while, to be funny, informative, and insightful. Why does no one else want to read my blog posts?

I know there are a bah-gillion blogs out there, and among them mine is one with a crappy update timeline. However, I’ve got some great things to say, and some interesting ways to say it. So why does no one dive into my pool of awesome (I use chlorine)?

I think blogs work one of three ways: buying viewers, selling viewers, and guilting viewers.

Buying viewers consists of paying to have your blogs domain name or specific URL pasted everywhere people might wind up, even if by accident. These blogs pay services to make sure they are listed at the top of search results, and in advertisements.

By selling viewers I mean selling them on your product, or in this case, your service as an informational or entertaining piece of literature. If you have something worthwhile to tell people, and they liked what you told them before, they will come back. (I believe I have something to this effect… it’s just not consistent)

Then there is every WordPress and Blogger site on the planet (nearly). WordPress and Blogger basically do the same thing as Farmville on Facebook. If my friend send me a digital pig, I feel obligated to accept it for fear my web-enabled friend will shun me. (I never give in to these things, but that’s the best example I could come up with that didn’t require thinking…) The same thing happens on WordPress, Blogger, My Opera, and any other blog which holds its own social networking component. I have only read and since subscribed to other blogs in the WordPress universe because I received the “Someone read your blog, now quit being a douche and read theirs!” email from the WordPress servers. I’m sorry to say, unless WordPress sends me and update via email, I don’t even visit those blogs. However, I have this gut feeling that if I read more blogs on the WordPress site, and even commented on them I would get more viewers in return. (Of course, I’d also have to write more than one post every new moon)

*sigh*

I guess in the world of social interactions you can’t afford to be a wallflower. That’s too bad. I really like their songs.

Come on cry a little. Nothing is forever… One headlight, baby!

What does “the right thing” mean?

I tell my students to do the right thing quite often. I may not say it in those exact words, considering I work at a parochial school and I can be more specific (WWJD). But I always mean the same thing. I even have a saying: “do the right thing because it’s the right thing to do.”

However, just what does it mean to do the right thing? Juvenile puns aside, this phrase invokes different reactions among different people, even those in the same family, city, or religion. And it doesn’t help to say that “right” is the opposite of “wrong” because people have different views on that term as well.

To be more clear, lets forget about righteousness and justice. While doing what is right may make one a righteous person, who acts justly, it still does not help us define “rightness.” It actually just makes me question those terms as well.

We’ll think of what I call “rightness” as it applies to one boy. This boy has what you might consider a good life. He has food, shelter, clothes, birthday cakes, friends, the occasional zombie video game, and two parents who love him very much. At home, at school, and on the soccer field he is told about the right thing to do. Doing your homework is the right thing to do. Passing the ball when you don’t have a shot, but someone else does is the right thing to do. Picking up trash you make is the right thing to do. Indeed, every child is told about the right thing to do in certain circumstances, but most of the time it is subjective reasoning which leads to this “right” decision.

Pass the ball… unless you think you can make the shot. Pickup your trash… except at school; that’s what the janitor gets paid for. Do your homework… or you’ll get bad grades. Not everything is subjective. Also, twisting words doesn’t make it right. The janitor does get paid to, among other things, clean the school. However, that doesn’t mean you should dump your trash all over the floors just because he will have to clean it up. All of these items can also apply to the “do as you’re told” rule. It is the right thing to do to follow instructions given by parents, teachers, and coaches, but even those instructions can be subjective.

What is the right way to treat people? You should be grateful for everything your parents have done for you, even if there is a lot they didn’t do. You should also be kind to people. Respect people by treating them the same way you expect them to treat you. It’s just nice to be nice. But then we have bullies, thieves,¬†murderers, rapists, and terrorists. Just how do we treat them? It may be nice to be nice to them, but is it right to be nice to them? Is it wrong not to be nice to them? Is there a right way to be upset with them, yet nice to them?

What’s the right way to speak? I don’t mean what is proper grammar, I mean what are words that are OK to say and not OK to say? How should we speak towards each other?

What is the right way to object to a wrong doing?

What is the right way to…

…drive a car?

…make toast?

…talk with a child about sex?

…pray to God?

…tell a parent their child needs special attention?

…save a person’s life?

Just what does it really mean to do the right thing? What is the right thing to do?

Get over the Windows 8 release already!

There are too many people whining about the fact that the Nokia Lumia 900 has been out for about half a year, and they’re already coming out with the next handset. The Nokia Lumia 920 has better specs and will run the new, supposedly non-backward compatible Windows Phone 8 OS. And ya, its coming out soon. So, that means people like myself have to bare with the fact that my awesome Lumia 900 will soon be outdated. However, despite all the coolness which is the Lumia 920 you won’t see me crying like a little girl who got pushed down on the playground by her future ex-husband.

Let me give you all a history lesson: decades ago someone came out with a handheld computing device. I forget what it was called. Then Apple released the Newton. It was an atrocious device with laughable handwriting recognition, and very difficult input methods otherwise. It bombed hard. Then the company known as 3com developed handheld computers most people would confuse with Palm Pilots nowadays. Not surprising since 3com sold to US Robotics who would later turn their mobile department into Palm, Inc. Then, the PalmPilot and the PalmOS was born. For many years Palm and Microsoft (with their many mobile offerings including Windows CE and the phone OS based on it, Windows Mobile) both held dominance in the mobile category becoming known as smart phones. Palm, Dell, HP, and a handful of others were the only ones making smart phones. Nokia had Symbian, and they did very well (what, with, like 1,000% market share in the cell phone world), but then came Research in Motion, or RIM for short, along with the BlackBerry smart phone. They soon overtook the smartphone market since they were easier to use, at least without a stylus, and much adored by IT departments and the large corporations they worked for.

At this point, Apple had lost the smartphone battle. Also at this point, Google was beginning to work on a little project known as Android… That is, they began Android before Apple began working on the iPhone. If that’s true, then why was there (and why does there continue to be) such fanfare over the Apple iPhone? It has very little to do with Apple or the “innovations” of the iPhone, and more to do with the iPod. The iPod was probably the best thing to happen to music (at least from the consumers point of view). It was simple to use, simple to control, and simple to load with your favorite songs. The mere idea of an iPod phone was nothing short of fantasy, though. It was impractical for Apple to make a smartphone. However, as you well know, they did it anyway. It wasn’t the fact that it was an Apple device, though, that made it such a success. It did have intuitive navigation, and nice first party “apps” as they came to be called. But the thing that drove iPhone sales was the fact that this was the much anticipated iPod phone. The entire Internet community had envisioned every possible concept for an iPod phone. It was talked about before Apple began actually working on it (supposedly). This is a device people had been waiting for: an iPod that is also my phone. Not even a year later, the iPhone was no longer “my iPod that I can make phone calls with.” It was now THE go-to smartphone for everyone who wanted to latest, most coolest… app (ha, you thought I was going to say “technology”). Why no fanfare over Google’s offering?

Even though Google had many strong points in it’s Android operating system, besides beginning work on the OS before Apple did, Apple got their device to market first. Once the Google Nexus was finally released, on a small network known as T-Mobile no less, everyone wanted the “iPod phone.” Google also had to suffer from the envy of Apple lovers who wished for the open-ness of Android. Apple fan boys favorite retort was “Google stole that from the iPhone.” To this day, this argument makes no sense. Palm was using icons arranged in rows and columns for years before the iPod, much less the iPhone. They also allowed one to use the stylus to “slide” web pages up or down instead of using a scroll bar or arrow key. They also sold applications, played music and videos, browsed websites, synced e-mail, and had touch screens. Not to mention, Google began work on the Android operating system before Apple, and released the Nexus not long after. There was no time for Google to re-craft Android to mimic the iPhone. And why would they want to anyway. Android is running under a different philosophy.

If you don’t like the stock messaging app, you can replace it with a third-party app from the Marketplace (now Play store). You can do this with the browser, email, calendar, and even the home screen or the app market. You can also access root folders (the folders with all the system information in them) and change nearly anything! Of course, this comes at a price: you must be a Linux¬†genius¬†(or at least think you’re one) and if you mess anything up, you could ruin the whole phone. The iPhone, on the other hand, is locked down so neither you nor app developers can mess with system files. Android proponents will claim you lose functionality with this kind of software Nazi-ism. However, if you are unsure of what you are doing, and want something that is simple and just works, you should go with the iPhone.

Now, the whole reason for this post: the Nokia Lumia 920 Windows Phone 8 device. It’s coming out soon; too soon for some Lumia 900 owners. Lots of people are whining and complaining about this apparent oversight on Nokia and Microsoft’s side of things. But the facts remain the facts:

  • Microsoft is playing catch-up, but that doesn’t change the fact that the Windows Phone 7 OS is butt-kicking awesome.
  • The Windows Phone 7 devices are a little short on the specs when compared to the top of the line Android devices, but that doesn’t change the fact that the Windows Phone 7 OS is sleek, and (unlike the desktop OS sometimes) it just works.
  • If Apple had done this before (you can’t tell, but I said that sarcastically) no one would be whining about it. Sure, they’d be a little upset, but not so upset as to write a letter to Nokia and AT&T telling them they’re going to drop them for eternity.
  • You can’t compare Windows Phone 7 (or 8 for that matter) to Android devices or the iPhone. You have to compare the WP7 OS to the Android OS and iOS. Why people keep saying the hardware sucks so they went with Android, and then call Android better belittles their own intelligence, apparently without them knowing. That’s like comparing a netbook to OSX. It’s not Windows fault the Netbook has low specs. (although, as I stated earlier, the lower specs don’t seem to make much of a difference)

The most important fact of all: my opinion. Not because I’m better than you, but because I have owned all three devices, and thus have used all three OSes. I love the Nokia Lumia because A.) it’s the lovely, snappy, simple, elegant Windows Phone 7.5 OS, and B.) because it merges with my Live, Bing, Xbox, Hotmail, Windows, Office, SkyDrive, and all around Microsoft-centered life. Here are some other things I have noticed:

  • Angry Birds runs great on my Lumia, and obviously ran great on my iPhone. However, not so great on my HTC Aria or my Samsung Galaxy Captivate, both Android phones.
  • I could make my ringtone whatever I wanted on my Android phones, along with messaging tones, alerts, alarms, etc. On my iPhone I found this very difficult, although I could do it. On my Lumia, it’s similar to what I had to go through for the iPhone, ¬†but unlike the iPhone I have to use the stock alert sounds. Only custom ringtones for me.
  • I replaced my messaging app on my Android phones, along with my browser. That is, I changed the default app to a third-party app to handle all that kind of information. My messaging app (Handscent) also allowed me to set custom text tones for individual contacts. Neither iPhone nor my Lumia allow this.
  • I gotta say, the fact that I would sync the iPhone, and to some extent the Lumia, to my computer made me feel much better about my data. Sure, I could sync my HTC with my computer using their (very limited) software, but it just wasn’t the same. I never hooked up my Samsung… and that made me sad. However, I don’t really need to hook up my Lumia. The Lumia will start syncing after 10 minutes of being on battery, assuming I’m on my home network with my computer and the computer is on and the Zune software is running. But still. Yes, now the iPhone syncs some stuff with the iCloud, but my sister doesn’t use it because it doesn’t seem to work well. But that’s not first hand info, so we’ll just say “I guess they have that, too, tho…”

Really, in all honesty, neither phone OS is worse than the other. The only thing I can think of which is holding Microsoft back is the low (usable) app count in their marketplace and the apparent lack of any announced backward-compatibility. Putting Android on the Lumia hardware is not an answer to Nokia’s problems. This is all just head games where no one really wins. You are free to like any OS you choose, but you must keep two things in mind: 1.) technology changes faster than you can make up your mind about purchases, so stop whining about updates and upgrades and you’re lack of ability to get them for free; and 2.) quit shittin’ all over my favorite OS until you spend at least a week using it. I’ve read many reviews and blog posts from people who have tried Windows Phone 7 devices only to find out they don’t care about the other phones, because this phone does exactly what they need it to do, and it does it simply and beautifully. Just because you’re an expert on what WP7 lacks that Android or iOS contains, doesn’t make you an expert on WP7.

Now, if that didn’t work, I order you to stop whining about the Lumia 920!

Please.

Good day.

Windows Phone 8 and the Coming Apocalypse

I just bought the Nokia Lumia¬†900, a Windows Phone running version 7.5 of the Microsoft mobile OS; affectionately called Mango. Today I learned Apollo, that’s the code name for Windows Phone version 8, will not be installed on my phone. No matter how much I want it, I won’t get an update to WP8. I will however get an upgrade to WP 7.8.¬† What does this mean? It means I will get some visual enhancements as well as a few new features, but nowhere near the functionality of a Windows Phone 8 device. And let me tell you: I… am… furious…ly… annoyed by the idiots who keep acting like this is a big deal.

Let me enlighten you:

Every time¬†Apple put out an update to iOS, the older models have NEVER received¬†all the features of the newest device. NEVER! iPhone 4S¬†gets Siri. Siri is not a hardware upgrade for the 4S. It is basically a piece of software, or app if you will, which adds a new type of functionality. Why couldn’t all the iPhone models get Siri? If they all got Siri, Apple wouldn’t have an impressive reason for people to buy the 4S. Do I smell marketing? That’s all it was. Even still, not too many people were upset about it. Even the all-powerful¬†Woz¬†stated that the Siri software was much better before Apple purchased it. But still, nobody cares. Even if you just bought the iPhone 4S¬†and all of a sudden Apple shows off the iPhone 5 with all these features and functionality upgrades you wouldn’t get because you only have the iPhone 4S and there’s nothing you can do but take the phone back and buy the new one when it comes out NOBODY would care!

Why do people care when Microsoft does it?

In this article, a man writes an e-mail to Nokia’s Stephen Elop¬†and AT&T’s Ralph de la Vega threatening to drop AT&T, Nokia, and Microsoft from his life. Why? Because his new Nokia Lumia¬†900 Windows Phone will not get an update to WP8. Instead, as I said before, the Lumia¬†will get the 7.8 update. Oh, poor, poor me with my Nokia Lumia¬†900 with no upgrade path to WP8. Damn you Microsoft and Nokia. Damn you all to hell!

NOT!

You want to know the difference between Windows Phone 8 and Windows Phone 7.8? Here it is: hardware. That’s really it. Right now Microsoft has very strict device specs for the Window Phone 7 family. Manufacturers must keep to these or they don’t get the license for Windows Phone 7. The same holds true for Windows Phone 8. The new Windows Phone 8 devices will have different hardware specs, and as such they have the software to utilize the new hardware features. If you have a Windows Phone 7 device you wouldn’t be able to use any of those features anyway, so why would you want that software on your phone? And what exactly does this guy expect? Is Nokia supposed to take his phone, install an NFC chip, a couple or processor cores, and an SD card slot, and then give it back with that functionality? As if! Apple didn’t take people’s old iPhones and install a Retina display in them. If you wanted a Retina display, Siri, or any of the other upgrades on the newer iPhone 4S then you had to buy the newer iPhone 4S.That’s just the way it is. And that’s always going to be the way it is.

When I bought my first Android phone from AT&T, the HTC¬†Aria, I was annoyed¬†by the news of MUCH¬†better phones being announced¬†for the very near future. The HTC Evo 4G, the Motorola Droid X, etc, etc. Was I mad, livid even, to the point of yelling out in frustration at the drizzling sky while the camera backs away, spinning to show my grief and confusion about “why, oh why is this happening to me”? No. That’s what happens. You buy a car, and a better car comes out. You buy the best computer and it’s outdated in a week. You finally shell out for that awesome phone everyone is talking about and your favorite fruits release a new one.¬†Welcome to¬†the universe of technology! Companies make new, better¬†devices all the time. OR would you prefer: Welcome to the world of business! Companies put out new devices to make more money all the time.

Either way, that’s how it works. You save your money, finally buy the item you always wanted, and something better comes out.¬†The other option would be to¬†save your money and¬†wait. If the newer device comes out you hold off and save a little more money so you can buy the new one. But if you save and wait and save and wait you’ll never make that purchase and never get anything. You’re always going to risk ending up with an outdated device especially when making a technological purchase.

So, get over it Luke! They are giving you most of the upgrades with Windows Phone 7.8. But since your Lumia 900 doesn’t have a bigger screen, or an NFC chip, a multiple core processor, or an expansion slot for an SD card you won’t get those updates. What good would they be to you anyway? Think about it before you get so damn upset.

Sent from my Nokia Lumia 900 Windows Phone.*

A phone I won’t be giving up any time soon.

*this post was not really sent from my Windows Phone… although that would have made this more compelling, I already wrote the article before thinking about it. Oh well.

Is it Okay to Download a Pirated Copy of a Game Youve Already Purchased?

Is it Okay to Download a Pirated Copy of a Game Youve Already Purchased?.

Once again I come across an article discussing the legality of downloading software from various sources on the Internet. As I read the article above I already had my own view on downloading content through “other” channels. As I read through the comments, I came across very few arguments I have never heard before. All-in-all, my personal thoughts about the matter didn’t change. I always get frustrated with people who take the supporting side, for many reasons; which I will bring up here. But first, let’s go over a few things.

Thing 1: the Evil Studios just want more Money

The MPAA, RIAA, and everyone else with billion dollar content¬†claims piracy is ruining their business and destroying them financially. This is simply not true. Sure, if all those pirates out there bought their copies instead of downloading free copies the studios would have more money. Since those people aren’t, however, it would seem the studios are losing the money those persons would have given them. The key word here is IF – if those people would have bought copies, the studios would have that much more money. However, there’s a good chance they wouldn’t have spent any money for that content. The “free is free” mentality usually gets the better of us and leaves us with junk we would never, in a million years, have paid for. So, just because someone downloaded it off the Internet for free¬†doesn’t mean they would have bought it in the first place. These free screenings do promote future releases, regardless of what studios claim. A person who watched Iron Man on some crazy, free movie website and liked it might have¬†decided to see Iron Man 2 in theaters; expecting it to be as good or better than the first. While it’s true the studios want money, it’s not necessarily true they are greedy; at least not more so than any other profitable company. Sometimes it’s about the art, and sometimes it about the business.

Thing 2: Just because the Studio is Evil, does that make them Wrong?

I’ll bet there are millions of people out there who have pictures and videos from a concert they attended. There’s likely to be many of those videos on YouTube. When a person or group performs live in a public venue, it’s hard to say, “NO PICTURES!” I want memories I can share with others. So I snap a picture. Even if you had to pay to get into the concert I don’t think anyone will argue with your grainy, distorted, personal copy of a live performance of “Dude looks like a Lady.” And I’m almost positive Aerosmith just don’t care. The big thing¬†studios are against, and rightfully so, is when you make money off of their hard work. And yes, playing music is work; or rather a lot of time spent practicing. Even more work goes into producing an album, a movie or TV show, and even video games. When these studios whine about compensation they are a little justified. They hold the Copy Right on that content. This means they are the ones who decide who gets access, who can make copies, who can hold showings, and who can sell the merchandise. I wish it was as simple as this: if you made a chair and someone else made a chair which looked exactly like yours and people bought it because of that fact, you would be mad and try to stop them… simple. However, this debate is not so simple. While the studios are correct when they say, “stealing is illegal,” most people don’t view digital media as a thing which can be stolen. When you download a copy of a movie off the Internet, the original is still there. Did you really steal it? The same thoughts apply to TV shows, music, e-books, photographs, software/programs, and video games (also software, but different enough to name separately). You’re not taking a copy off of store shelves, robbing them of a product they could have sold. Neither are you compensating the studios for their hard work, however. They put all the hard work, time, and effort into making the movie and you’re essentially saying, “I don’t have to pay you for your hard work. I’m watching the movie for free!” Nevermind the greediness of the studio, taking something without permission is wrong; even if¬†it exists¬†infinitum.

Thing 3: LIEcenses, Copy Right, and Fairy Dust

There are tons of people who talk about Copy Right and licensing. None of them ever bother to explain what those are or how they work. This is one reason people feel no shame in watching movies online from places like FreeMoveez.info (not a real site btw). People think that they own the DVD when they buy it. It’s quite natural a thought when you think about it. You go to the store, pickup an item off the shelf, pay the cashier, and it’s yours. But it’s never yours in the sense that the design, name, function, or content now belongs to you. You can’t buy a TV and claim all rights to every TV. You can’t buy a spatula and claim all rights to flat cookware. You can’t buy a car and claim all rights to the motor vehicle. You can’t purchase something and claim it was your idea. Now, I haven’t really heard anyone make this argument, “I bought Lord of the Flies. I wrote Lord of the Flies. I now own the rights¬†to the kids-get-stranded-on-a-deserted-island-and-create-their-own-government¬†storyline.” Nor have I heard someone take credit for the spatula. So, on the surface these analogies do seem out of place. Until we go back to the chair. If I bought a chair, and then made my own chair (for my own use; not to profit from it) I would have made a copy of that chair. I did not deplete the number of items on store shelves. I did, however, rob the company of money. How, you ask? Instead of paying them for another chair I just made a copy. This¬†loss is¬†negligible until everyone starts doing it. Still, the question remains: it is right? Do I have the right to make copies of that chair? Remember, I’m not just making any ol’ chair. I’m precisely copying that specific chair, because that’s the chair I want. The studios tell us they are not selling us a movie; they are selling us a DVD disk which contains the movie and giving us a limited license to have our own private screenings. In essence, we are paying for the right to watch the movie on the disk (along with materials)¬†– we are not paying for the movie¬†on the disk. The DVD even has a disclaimer at the beginning saying it is a federal offense to copy and redistribute the contents of the DVD. The DMCA (Digital Millenium Copy Right Act) does allow you to make a copy of DVDs, but only as a replacement, should something happen to your originals. It does not say you can obtain a copy made from someone else’s DVD over the Internet because you scratched yours up. This license also only allows you to watch that movie on a DVD player. If you are buying DVD disks expecting to play them on an iPod you are buying the wrong item. Do I want to pay $15 for a DVD and then another¬†$5 for a copy I can watch on my mobile device? No, I do not. This is why many studios put out DVDs or Blu-Rays which come with a digital copy, or a license to view a streaming copy. Again, though, it’s always a license to view, not to copy nor distribute. They’re not trying to trick you or get more money out of you. Quite frankly, I don’t think the studios understand what is right or wrong any more than the digital peanut gallery fighting about it in blogs and article comments.

Thing 4: Wherefore art thou, Avengers Blu-Ray

The article which set me off today has a very specific question. The OP (original poster –¬†for those of you new to the century) paid for the video game and then downloaded it from an illegitimate source – meaning he did not download it from the studio who made it nor the distributor in charge of releasing it. It would seem that any arguments about his actions¬†might be moot. What does it matter? It would be similar to a situation where I give Amazon $500 and then take my neighbors iPad. Amazon got their money, why should they care if I don’t get the iPad from them? Now, this isn’t exactly the same, because my neighbor lost an iPad and I’m probably in jail.¬† But I haven’t told you the whole story yet. [SPOILER ALERT as if you were going to read that article] The OP pre-ordered and paid for the game, but then downloaded the game from the illegitimate source a few days early – before the game was released. It would probably be more similar to say I pre-ordered and paid for the iPad 4, but then got one from a guy at the docks a week early. Now I have the iPad 4 before the intended release date Apple had initially setup. So what if I get a few extra days to play with mine before you get yours? I still paid for it and you will get yours eventually. The bigger issue here is the license. Where did that copy come from? How did you obtain it? Remember, the studio gave you a license to play that DVD, not any copy of that movie where ever you can get it from. The same goes for video games. You actually cannot go to your friend’s house and take his disk media, install it on your computer, but use your key code. When the company sold you the game you had a license for that copy, not any copy you can get your hands on. Disk rentals work (at the disdain of the studios) because only that one copy exists. When you return it you no longer have it and¬†can no longer play it. That license also restricts you from making copies of the disk or software. You cannot copy a DVD to your computer and redistribute it. Neither can you take downloaded software and redistribute it (unless, of course, it is freeware or shareware; two terms I don’t hear too often anymore). That means the person who ripped the DVD and placed it on the Internet violated the terms of the license they bought into when they purchased the DVD. But does that mean you did anything wrong by downloading it? Yes, it does. There are official channels and illegitimate channels. Some of the official channels are free. Likewise,¬†just because it costs money doesn’t mean it’s legit. No matter how you feel about the copy you own or how much money you paid for it, if you aren’t getting it from official channels it’s just not right. The other issue here is this nasty operation known as hacking. The game our OP downloaded early was modified to make it playable. Many video games come with DRM (digital rights management) software embedded into their core. Even though it was originally a legitimate copy of the game, someone had changed the code to remove or bypass the DRM, making an otherwise useless piece of software a working game. This is most likely definitely¬†a no-no according to the terms and conditions of the game’s EULA (end-user license agreement); many of which typically say “you don’t own our code,” and “don’t mess with our code,” and even, “don’t use software which bypasses, restricts, or modifies our code.” So, even though the OP had paid for the game (negating the fact he obtained the game before the official release date) the copy he obtained was an illegal copy because it’s code¬†had been modified. Once again, when you purchase a video, song, e-book, or game you are really only buying the license to view/listen to that specific form of the media through that specific outlet (e.g. If you purchase a movie in iTunes, you can only watch it in iTunes or on your iDevice. You cannot do anything to it to make it playable on your Xbox.)

Thing 5: Last thing, I promise

Who do you think you are? Nevermind, I don’t want to get into a philosophical “who am I” debate. (and yes, we are really puny compared to the universe…) The question I want answered does remain, though. We just have to step back to see it all clearly. A person creates a chair. You buy that chair, paying him for the materials he used to construct said chair as well as his time spent working on the chair. Likewise, you pay the plumber for his time working on your throne, even though you’re not purchasing a product from him. It just seems like these people who work on movies, TV shows, books, music, and software deserve to be compensated for their time and effort. These people spend their days and nights filming scenes, acting, writing scripts and books, building props and sets, practicing their art, recording their art, and finalizing their art so the rest of us may enjoy it. Saying things like this is stupid: “art is meant to be done for yourself, not others – do your art for the joy of the art.”¬†That’s like saying, “don’t make iPads¬†for others, people starving in China, make them because you like making iPads.” These people want to make a good movie for you in a similar way that your real estate agent wants to find you a house you love. They’re not gonna do it for free. I’m going to say this and then explain it: just because that lot is full of cars nobody is using doesn’t mean you can just go take one. Now, as I said before, software and digital copies of movies and music exist¬†infinitum. You download a copy and the original is still there; you did not take away from the stock. Neither did you pay for an item which the creators or Copy Right owners do charge for. Right now there are copies of Heroes, Season 2 on a store shelf somewhere. It will cost you money to take that DVD set home. Why would anyone think it’s OK to download that collection off the Internet for free (through Torrents or P2P software and websites)? Ford sells Mustangs: why should they be OK with you obtaining one for free?

Conclude Already!

Draw your own conclusions. I believe it’s wrong. It’s hard to argue with people who bring up the fact that it’s out there. If it’s out there, why not download it? However, they don’t realize it’s out there illegally, which is what makes it illegal to download. Even still many people agree that if they own a purchased copy, that entitles them to have other copies of the same content however and where ever. Again, this is a license issue; another thing most people don’t understand. Then there’s the people who understand everything I’ve said, but continue to download stuff for free simply because free beats expensive. Some of them even do it just because they feel the system is so messed up and this is a form of vigilante justice. And finally, there are those out there who are just as greedy as the studios they slander. All they want is the content, whether or not they make any money off it. They just do it because they do. No matter what you say or do, the studios won’t agree with you. And no matter what the studios say or do (unless they start giving stuff away for free as policy) chances are people will always want more for less and play the greed card every time.

The Problems with Digital Content

I was going to remove my notes for this post, and just write a nice little story about the stupidity of mankind.¬†However, I decided to use my notes as bullet points, all bulleted and everything. So first, here’s what I wish to discuss:

  • people whine but don’t and aren’t expected to do anything about it
  • studios are greedy
  • people are creatures of habit
  • change is for other people – or – change is just conforming to someone else’s opinions
  • the internet is an awesome collaboration tool – but it’s anonymity is riddled with deceit

Now on to the meat of my blog cow.

The Internet is a vast, virtually unlimited place. Sure, it’s limited by laws and regulations, standards, TOS and Privacy Policies, actual hard drive space, mods and administrators, and let’s not forget about the forced takedown. But besides that, and the occasional fallen utility pole, the Internet is an always-on connection to every other Internet user in the world. As such, the Internet works much like a public forum. I know there are actual forums out there, but really the entire Internet works like one big (not as orderly as, say, a Gaia website) forum. Any grief you have, opinion you’d like to share, or point you’d like to make can be done on one of many websites. You can voice your concerns in your own, personal blog. You can share your opinion in the comments of a news article. You can even belligerently¬†attack other people on any forum, comments section, or your own blog. If you’re lucky, you’ll find someone on your side. If you’re really lucky, you’ll find a large group of people who think what you think: maybe even gather a following. If you’re really, really, really lucky you’ll even find people who despise your very existence, they hate your views so much.

No matter how popular you are, how popular your opinion is, or who shares or opposes it all this work sharing these opinions is practically¬†pointless. Most people are only interested in voicing a distaste for current events and the people involved. But when it comes right down to it most of these people aren’t actually interested in taking any action against the¬†perpetrators of these villainous¬†crimes against humanity (as so these posters and commentors might have you believe). Further more, no one really expects anyone to do anything about it. Sure, every now and then a commenter¬†will say, “do something about it if you hate it so much.” But people rarely ever do anything more than simply comment back with a usually insulting, and useless,¬†rebuttal.

Want an example? *sigh* OK, let me get out my example box… *dig, dig, dig* AH! Here we go!

Sony Music wants way too much money for CDs, downloadable songs, or licences for streaming companies. If you are fed up with paying so much for something which doesn’t seem so valuable (something you believe you get for free from Pandora or the local radio stations) then you need to do something about it. Stop buying music. Don’t buy the CD, don’t buy the MP3, and don’t use services such as Pandora, Slacker, Last.fm, or any other streaming service, including traditional radio (all of which pay licensing fees to Sony Music in order to be able to play their songs). If you boycott Sony Music, it’s not going to make much of a difference. If you get all your friends and their friends (real and digital) to boycott Sony Music, it might get some attention, but it will still be virtually useless. Now, if you can get 100s of 1000s of people across the web to boycott Sony Music, then they will probably start losing money. It’s at that point they will finally realize pirating is not as big a concern as no one buying any of their music. If you are worried about harming the artist who has very little, if anything, to do with licensing and pricing… don’t be. If the studio is losing money, then yes, the artist will lose out on money. But we need them to join us, and maybe this is the only way to get them on board. Currently, the studio might be the only way an artist can get their music out. It’s my understanding that once you sign a contract with a recording studio they own everything you do now and will do in the future. You cannot, in many cases, release music on your own (per the contract you signed). So if everyone is feeling the financial pinch, perhaps they will finally do something to please consumers. After all, studios are greedy. They will not enjoy not having your money.

This is why we’re in the situations we are in now. This is why DVD’s come with digital copies that you need to activate or pay fees to stream to your devices. This is why you listen to incessant ads on music streaming sites. This is why gaming companies are trying to find a way to keep you from selling used games and book publishers charge the same price for a digital copy as they do a printed book. This is why cloud storage such as Amazon’s cloud and Google Music (which let you access music you have purchased from any Internet connected device on the planet)¬†are in the sights of the RIAA and MPAA. Greed. The studios want you to buy content from them, but they don’t want you to actually use it. Well, they do¬†want you to use it, but only once. If you purchase content on a computer, then that’s where you can use it. Want to use it on a phone, MP3 player, game console, TV, tablet, work computer, or other device? They want you to pay a fee for each device you want to use. Maybe they don’t get it. Maybe consumers don’t get it. Maybe no one truly “get’s it.” Get it?

Whatever the issues, whatever the problems, whatever the solutions nothing will change. People are creatures of habit. Some of us are creatures of the night… but that’s a completely different topic. If someone has been listening to music – no, wait… I’ve got a better example. Let’s say you bought a TV. You can enjoy any of the local TV stations without having to pay a dime to anyone. You already paid $100 to $300 dollars for a TV (we’re talking old CRTs… you¬†probably paid¬†much more if you bought a flat screen TV within the past few years). Now you can enjoy years of TV programming without having to pay another dime. Wait? What? You have to buy a special device which will convert the brand new broadcasting signals to a format your old TV can handle? Well, how much is that going to cost? WHAT! $50 to $100 for a decent converter box!? You have got to be kidding…?

Ok, this isn’t that great of an example. The government mandated this because they felt we were too far behind Europe. TV networks didn’t make money off this, either. But it is kind of annoying. Here’s something which is essentially free, and now you have to pay to continue enjoying it. People were not happy about this. This is why we used our tax money to fund the DTV voucher program. People did not want to pay to continue to use their televisions. Not just that, but once they began watching DTV streams, they were not happy with what they saw. Sure, the video quality was consistent among all the channels; even beautiful if you only had poor signal, or now have an HDTV. But that’s only if you got a good signal. Say goodbye to poor but still viewable signals and hello to “slow Internet connection streaming” channels (with no ability to buffer). This all goes to show that people just simply do not like it when things change. I know what you’re going to say: “but change is good. Change forces innovation and allows us to move towards the future.”

That’s a pretty simple, positive view of change. In actuality, most people think of change mush differently. Have you heard the one about the scientist and the priest? A scientist and priest meet up every Sunday afternoon to talk about philosophy, science, and religion. The scientist puts his “faith” in observable facts. The priest puts his faith in God. Both men talk to each other about how they need to change. The scientist thinks the priest needs to face the facts and realize God cannot be proven and “miracles” can be scientifically explained. The priest tells the scientist that he needs to realize the facts are not as important as the truth, and science can’t explain everything.

Sorry, that wasn’t supposed to be a joke, but I did start it off like one. My bad. The point is both men think the other needs to make some changes in their life. These “changes” are no more than the opinion of one person about how to live, what to think, how to act and who to be. When we tell the record, movie, and gaming studios they need to change their strategies for a digital world, it’s really just our opinion. They’re opinion is not to change, but simply use the same strategies they’ve been using in the digital world, with little to no change. Why should they anyway?

They should because everyone seems to think so. They should because people are pirating their content anyway. They should because it would be smart. But this just brings us back to the nature of the Internet. It is a great collaboration tool, with¬†millions of people contributing to projects, sites, and petitions.¬†It is very difficult, as I’ve stated before,¬†to get all of these contributors to act. Unless you want to right wrongs. The hacking group Anonymous has recently shown just how powerful their might can be. Studios are afraid of what this kind of power can mean for their precious content. Already people can upload movies, music, and any software to the web for other to download. There’s the concept of “free is free” where people download these things because they’re free, not necessarily because they wanted it. This concept in action has made studios think there is a huge market for their content which isn’t paying for the content but getting it anyway.

Merge Anonymous and others like them with pirates, viruses and malware, phishing sites, spam, and identity thiefs¬†the Internet looks like (and in reality, can be) a dangerous place. Despite its¬†power for bringing people together, all that’s wrong with it is pushing studios away from its customers. Which, in turn pushes certain people *cough* anonymous *cough* together against the studios. Which in turn pushes the studios further away from its customers. Is there no end?

Digital content can, for all intents and purposes, be thought of as nothingness; and only as valuable as the consumer believes it to be. After all, what is a digital song? What is the music on¬†a vinyl record for that matter? At least you can hold the record in your hand. I think studios put too much value on their content. Sure, it might take $2 million dollars to make a movie, but that doesn’t mean I want to pay 20 bucks for it. It also doesn’t mean I’ll pay any more for a movie that cost the studio $34 million to produce. And now it all comes back to greed. If people want to watch a movie, TV show, or sports game a studio will charge them as much as they can before people say, “no way!” They do this out of greed. The studio wants as much money as they can milk out of its customers. And they want to get as much money as often as they can. At least that’s how it looks, which is why Megaupload existed. People are as cheap as studios are greedy.

But it’s not about us, right? We’re not the problem. Consumers are where the solutions lies. Right? We don’t need to change, the studios need to change. It’s a fact! Who’s with me?!