[clug] A most interesting read, most interesting

Paul Wayper paulway at mabula.net
Thu Dec 28 02:01:09 GMT 2006

Hash: SHA1

Randall Crook wrote:
> 1. If you were a normal PC user and you went into a shop were there were
> types ofPCs'.

One minor error in your assumptions here: who said that you'd get a choice?

You're more likely to simply be told that this new machine is ultra-expensive
and slower than your current machine because it plays the new
ultra-high-quality expensive media that everyone will be watching real soon
now!  There's no choice, you don't get a cheaper but non-compliant model, you
just get the new hotness with the new crippledness.

Manufacturers and stores work hard to get those Authorised Windows Compliant
badges and Authorised Windows Retailer decals.  They're not going to risk
giving sales to a competitor by Microsoft pulling their authorisation because
they're selling stuff that doesn't obey the full DRM crippledness.  When Vista
comes out, no-one's going to be selling XP at all.

> 2. Is the "Trusted Computing" term used to make people think
> that the PC can be trust to keep your data safe? Because quite frankly I
> can only see it keeping the Music/Software and Hollywood industries data
> safe. I honestly can see how it will make the  user feel any
> safer.

Here you're right.  The "Trusted Computing" moniker is completely ambiguous
about who'se trusted and who isn't.  It's interesting to see people, and
businesses, being 'sold' on the idea of DRM 'protecting' them by stopping
'unauthorised' people from viewing their document - as if they were in any way
important in the equation.

But the whole problem - and the reason (I would argue) that some Linux and
open-source people get up in arms over the proprietary OSes imposing these
kind of restrictions on everyone - is that people just don't care.  There are
 millions of iPods out there populated with music bought from iTMS, and I
would bet that 90% or more of those people wouldn't have any clue about what
restrictions are placed on that music.  My partner, as intelligent as she is,
literally does not care one hoot that the big media companies are wanting to
screw every last cent out of her - because all she sees is CDs still on the
shelf and music still on the radio.  Most comsumers still labour under the
illusion that the free market means that the customer is right and they get
what they want.

We who come from the Free Software, Open Source, collaborative and sharing
side of the fence are appalled at this.  90% or more of us aren't living the
principles in the way that e.g. Richard Stallman is, but we do care that we
get broken, binary-only or no drivers for some of the stuff we want to use
because big companies want to protect their interests more than help customers
out.  We have our radar out for these incursions on our rights as consumers,
and the unwritten but nonetheless tangible feeling that it's our stuff and we
should have the right to use it (privately) in the way that we want to.  We
can see that the prevention of copying is not only fundamentally impossible,
but can also see how DRM is going to hurt more than help.

I suppose I see the 'world domination' issue as really being an 'us or them'
issue.  The corporations _do_ want world domination.  We FOSS people don't
need or desire it, but would rather have it than lose all chance of using our
software and 'content' the way we want to.

I agree with Peter Gutmann's Executive Executive summary: I think the new
features in Vista are going to be its suicide note.  But it will be the death
of a million bugbites, as every single hardware and software manufacturer and
every single customer slowly gets bitten by incompatibilities and false
positives.  The Zune is the first nail in the coffin, as Microsoft's
ironically named "plays for sure" doesn't play for sure on it - because it's
implementing parts of the new DRM.  Consumers have punished it with lackluster
sales, and recording industry oligarchs are punishing it with even more
restrictive licenses and royalty payouts.  Vista is already crippled with six
(or is it eight, or ten?) different versions, each crippled in their own
special ways.  It's going to be even more crippled by hosts of new viruses and
security issues as people copy it, break it, rootkit it and play stuff on it.

But to me the problem is that Microsoft's thrashing around in its death
agonies, as it desperately tries to shore up a product that was doomed to fail
from the moment it was called Longhorn, is going to do inestimable damage to
the computer hardware and software industry.  Everyone at the moment
(basically apart from Apple) is officially tugging the forelock and putting in
the new DRM crippledness in whatever way they can understand to do.
Everything's going to cost more; it's going to work less; Free and Open Source
Software is going to have to fight even harder to make sure that our access to
our technology aren't taken away in ways which aren't legal, and our rights to
it aren't taken in ways that aren't ethical or social.  It'll take three to
five years, in my estimation, for Vista to die, and another two or three for
the industry to sort itself out and shake off the legacy of problems.

But in the meantime?  It's going to look like Vista is doing well, then OK,
then got some minor issues that will be fixed RSN.  During that time, it's
going to look like any naysayers were just crying wolf.  That's going to be
the worst bit.


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