Feb 042010

Kids love to watch movies, but they are not kind to equipment. Some of the older media, such as VHS tapes, might be technically inferior to DVDs but they certainly were more durable. We have tried to get our kids to carefully handle DVDs, but it just doesn’t happen. A few were destroyed before I learned my lesson.

It turns out that most geeks with kids have realized the same thing: you just can’t give kids DVDs. All the films and videos they love can be stored on your hard drive with much better results: no more messing with scratched discs, no more fumbling for the right video case, instant access to whichever video they want to watch, and you won’t have to replace broken DVDs over and over (something which will make our corporate overlords very unhappy).

This had been working well for us until I tried to save the new Pixar film Up. A quick bit of googling revealed that movie studios have attempted a new form of disc copy protection: ship broken discs.

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Feb 282007

A bought a laptop at Circuit City a few months ago – I wouldn’t normally buy anything there, but they had a great deal. Of course, they now found some way to send me all sorts of junk mail. I assume they stole my billing address from the credit card – it’s lovely how many companies have all my information just sitting there to be stolen.

Yesterday, I received a gift card for 10% off any purchase over $50. I almost thought it was a nice gesture, until I read the fine print:

Offer excludes computers, music, movies, games, Game Hardware, Sharper Image, Infinity, Velodyne, Bose, Polk, Apple, Kicker, MTX Thunder, LG, Select Plasma TVs, Select LCD TVs, KEF, Outlet, and Circuit City Gift Card purchases.

Now, I’m not sure if you’ve ever been in a Circuit City, but I’m pretty sure that list covers every item they sell. There is no respect left for the people – neither from the government nor from corporations.

Mar 212006

I realize it’s important for food companies to attract customers with flashy colors and facts, but honesty needs to be part of the design process. I recently bought a bottle of Dole Ruby Red Grapefruit Juice – 100% Juice, No Sugar Added. Of course, in tiny letters in the corner the label reads 100% Juice Blend from Concentrate with other Ingredients. The full list of ingredients: Filtered Water, White Grape Juice Concentrate, Ruby Red Grapefruit Juice Concentrate, Apple Juice Concentrate, Pectin, Ascorbic Acid, Carmine, Citric Acid, Natural Flavor. This seems just a bit different from 100% JUICE.

It’s also surprising that I was really drinking grape juice – not grapefruit juice. I guess real grapefruit is too hardcore for Dole. They want it to be sickly sweet like all the other Pepsico products.

Jan 022006

The Copyright and Patent laws originally written by the founding fathers were designed to encourage invention and creation of new works, especially among individuals and small businesses. Unfortunately, the system has degraded to the point where the laws make invention a rather dangerous prospect, especially for individuals and small businesses. Large corporations own huge patent portfolios and hire many lawyers to handle the hassle of modern patent/copyright law. In efforts to protect themselves from lawsuits and edge out competitors, many corporations are applying for more-and-more general patents. The laws simply do not do what they were intended to.

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