Archive for February, 2007

1.5 BILLION dollars!

Posted: February 22, 2007 in Uncategorized
That’s the latest patent-infringment bill that Microsoft was ordered to pay today to Alcatel-Lucent. It concerns patented technology built into Windows Media Player, specifically the ability to convert analog sound files into a digital format called MPEG-1 Audio Layer 3…known to the world as MP3.
 
The short story is that back in 1989, AT&T Bell Labs commissioned a company called Fraunhofer Institute to develop MP3 technology. AT&T spun off Bell Labs in 1996, at which point Bell Labs became Lucent Technologies. However, Fraunhofer Institute has made millions of dollars licensing that MP3 technology to hundreds of other companies. Last year Alcatel purchased Lucent, and their first order of business: sue Microsoft. Why? Possibly cuz there is no concise MP3 patent ownership between Fraunhofer and Lucent…but the entire tech industry is under the impression that if they have to license MP3, they license thru Fraunhofer. And somehow, Alcatel was able to convince the patent office to backdate one of their "purchased" patents to 1988…before any development of MP3 ever happened.
 
Now that a jury has ruled that Microsoft licensed MP3 technology from the wrong company, who’s next? Let’s begin alphabetically: Apple Computers sells tiny devices called iPods that probably infringe on MP3 patents. AOL (America Online) owns a very popular software program called WinAmp that probably infringes on MP3 patents. There are tons of other software and players out there, a virtually limitless supply of litigation.
 
Does your phone play MP3? Nokia, Samsung, LG, Motorola, countless others…they are probably all vulnerable.
 
Here’s the really big one: you know those DVD movies sitting on your shelf? That’s right…all of them utilize MPEG technology for the audio of your favorite movies. Now add the deeeeeep pockets of Universal, Sony, Paramount, Warner Brothers and…
 
Wow, 1.5 billion is just the tip of the iceberg…

I packed this guy’s crap!

Posted: February 20, 2007 in Uncategorized
First, the backstory: Up until 1995, I worked a couple of years for a weird company called Zygon International. One of my jobs was to pack and ship their products out of the warehouse. They specialized in "new age" products like subliminal tapes and books to "improve" yourself. Their flagship product was called The Brainwave Synchronizer, which is like a hand-held computer that uses LED glasses and headphones to quickly put the user into an alpha-hypnotic state (note that I have already used the word "weird" to describe my former employer’s company). Anyway, the Synchronizer got discontinued and replaced by The Learning Machine…a product that almost destroyed the company due to three problems: 1) a 90% return rate cuz the damn things didn’t work 2) some government official in Texas (Bush?) proposed legislation to prevent overseas sales because 3) the company wouldn’t refund Learning Machine returns in a timely manner…credit cards were credited, but only if a complaint or chargeback was done, and good luck getting a refund within 6 months if you paid by check or money order. A few months after I quit Zygon, they were featured on the front page of the Seattle Times…and not in a flattering way, either. Operations relocated to Canada soon after, if I recall correctly…
 
Anyway, one of the products they sold was some package of books and tapes on how to make a killing in real estate. My future wife and I were trying to buy our first house, so I gave it look…but the descriptions and prices used for how to do it were ridiculous, complete fantasy outside of swamp land. The guy who wrote it was Wade Cook: I met him once at work, and walked away thinking he was like a used-car salesman…a shady used-car salesman. Someone told me he served a short time in Arizona for securities fraud or something in 1990. And he got into trouble with the government for that real-estate package he sold thru Zygon. And he sued Zygon, Tony Robbins, got sued by other people, got in more trouble with the government…he’s a walking litigation.
 
But this guy went all out after I left Zygon, advertising at Mariners games, on KIRO radio, freeway billboards, etc. He was everywhere and making a ton of money. It made me sick the number of people who were buying into his crap. Then several years ago, he just kind of disappeared…
 
To the point of the story: Wade Cook was found guilty today on seven criminal counts of failing to pay taxes on almost 9 million dollars…and that’s just for a two-year period! Finally, something has gone right in the world…

Super Bowl Babies

Posted: February 14, 2007 in Uncategorized

Another Super Bowl, another line of pissed-off people.  Nothing even remotely approaching the “wardrobe malfunction” in severity, but some people just ain’t happy if they aren’t bitching. Gay groups jumped all over Snickers cuz a couple of guys lip-locked and ripped out their chest hair. A mental health group bashed General Motors because their commercial had a robot that could dream (about committing suicide). Even before Super Bowl Sunday, people starting griping about the commercials: K-Fed said he’s "really sorry" because the restaurant industry felt offended by the commercial he was in (did Nationwide apologize? Not…). Even the half-time show got rocked again by a large bed sheet that made Prince’s guitar look like a giant phallic symbol…like anybody expected anything less from The Artist Formerly Known.

It seems nobody was paying attention to the obscenity on the playing field…did anybody notice that Rex Grossman had a passer rating of 104 in the third quarter, and yet the Bears had a grand total of just five first downs?

Anyway, the list of people offended by this year’s Super Bowl grows by the day. Here they are, in no particular order…

The Neanderthals in those Geico commercials are offended that a rock was used in a Bud Light commercial to knock out some guy. They claim to have invented the rock as a weapon, and weren’t even given credit for it. They argue that “patent pending” doesn’t mean somebody else can just use their idea without permission or compensation.

PETA is up in arms about gratuitous physical abuse of animals after a mouse was painfully used as a computer peripheral. The fact that abusing this mouse didn’t accomplish anything was blamed on Vista.

The Sierra Mist “Combover” commercial earned the company a lawsuit from Donald Trump, who claims that although it was obviously a combover, they still had attempted to copy his trademark hair style.

The Doritos “Crash” commercial offended the entire mobile phone industry: there are laws popping up everywhere to ban phone usage while driving, but eating chips? Nobody bats an eyelash.

Chewbacca is upset that someone’s speaking line was “pulling their shoulders out of their sockets” in the Sierra Mist “Karate” commercial. That’s what wookies do, but no one approached him for the commercial, and he’s been out of work for years now.

Ebay is pissed at Bud Light’s “Wedding” commercial. After all, they have to remove auctions like this from their site. However, Anheuser-Busch avoided a trademark lawsuit since the auctioneer did not have a “Marry me now” option.

K-Fed is offended that he wasn’t offered a role for a commercial by (who else?)…FedEx. He even had a great idea for them to make fun of his impending divorce, too: “Guaranteed tomorrow!”

Simon Cowell is offended by all those “wrong door” performances in Chevrolet’s “Singers” commercial.

Women are offended when a man makes overtly sexual suggestions…and quid-pro-quo, the Doritos “Cashier” wasn’t just offensive to men, it was downright gross to any man who is not wearing beer-goggles.

Street beggars are calling foul on Chevrolet’s “Car wash” commercial, claiming that everybody now expects them to strip and dance after they sludge up a windshield, and they still only get a dollar.

Millions of Internet addicts are offended that their Connectile Dysfunction is now widely known by the rest of the world, exposing them to public ridicule as they sit on dirty sidewalks in seedy neighborhoods with their laptops…weeping.

Vista humor…

Posted: February 6, 2007 in Uncategorized
I just spent a lot of time last week installing Vista on my machine, plus all the apps I needed. I also configured my MIL’s new Vista machine. It’s a rather aggravating experience. Then I saw an Apple commercial last night that cracked me up. Check the video module on the left side over there…

DRM to die slow, painful death?

Posted: February 6, 2007 in Uncategorized
DRM is widely hated by consumers due to limited (or no) capabilities to be entertained anytime, anywhere on any device. MaxPC never misses a chance to slam a device that utilizes DRM, such as Microsoft’s Zune player…which received a 6 out of 10 rating by the magazine this month, and they didn’t even mention if playback sounded good or not. All they could concentrate on was the fact that there was almost NO music for sale that could be purchased for it, and the "the Social" was one-and-done. You rip yer own, yer on your own, screw yer friends, sorry, cya…
 
Then we have Apple’s iPod. The 800 lbs gorilla that nobody can compete with. But if you want to purchase music for it, it must be from iTunes…and you can then literally forget about using any other playing device: just like DRM devices, you either keep using your iPod, or you throw away all that music you paid money for when you buy a different, incompatible device.
 
Note that it is widely regarded that iTunes is by far the most successful compressed-music store. They sell more songs than all other compressed-music distributors combined. The runaway winner, and embarrassingly so. And with that said, it should come as no surprise that Steve Jobs himself has stated that only 2% (that’s right…two out of every 100) of the songs being enjoyed on iPods worldwide were purchased. Um, this means that 98 of every 100 songs stored on iPods did NOT come from iTunes, the single most succesful online compressed-music store.
 
If 2% is a runaway success, where does that leave DRM music and entertainment? How will DRM ever make money for the copyright holders?
 
Even Steve Jobs agrees: DRM should die. But considering how scared the label execs have been for the last eight years, and how they will tighten their embrace of DRM even further to "save their intellectual property", DRM will be a slow, painful…and very expensive…death.
 
Some people just don’t know when to quit.

BillG seems annoyed with Apple

Posted: February 2, 2007 in Uncategorized
Newsweek published an interview with Bill Gates yesterday. It’s four pages long, and the entire second page was basically dedicated to Apple’s commercials and their claims to be a superior and safer computing experience compared to Windows. But it’s hard to figure out exactly how Bill feels about the whole thing…take this quote for example:

Does honesty matter in these things, or if you’re really cool, that means you get to be a lying person whenever you feel like it?

My guess is that Bill has resisted the urge to add Steve Jobs to his myFaves plan…

The simulation shows…

Posted: February 1, 2007 in Uncategorized

This is more stupid than "Don’t try this at home", or "Contents may be HOT", or "Do not ingest, rat poison may kill you". MSNBC has a "story" detailing that a video game has already predicted what will happen in the Super Bowl, essentially play-by-play. And almost every single paragraph ends with "according to the simulation" or "the simulation shows"…EXCEPT for the first and last paragraphs.

Like, we know it’s a video game, already. We know it ain’t real. Give it a rest, guys.

Oh, wait…there’s one other paragraph that didn’t end with this "disclaimer"…

The performance will make Tony Dungy the first African-American coach to win the Super Bowl.

So, what if the other coach wins? What will HE be, hmmmMMM????

Anywho, the old tired formula is that defense wins championships. And Da Bears has a defense that can win a game for a QB that achieves a passer rating of LESS THAN a 10.0…and achieves it more than twice in a single season with a win, too! However, something happened just before the playoffs started: a defense showed up for the Colts. Expect the Colts defense to bring out the Bad Rex, and watch Peyton connect with Harrison for at least 110 yards and a touchdown. But I think it might be closer than anyone expects…

Colts, 24-21.