E-Scribe : a programmer’s blog

About Me

PBX I'm Paul Bissex. I build web applications using open source software, especially Django. Started my career doing graphic design for newspapers and magazines in the '90s. Then wrote tech commentary and reviews for Wired, Salon, Chicago Tribune, and others you never heard of. Then I built operations software at a photography school. Then I helped big media serve 40 million pages a day. Then I worked on a translation services API doing millions of dollars of business. Now I'm building the core platform of a global startup accelerator. Feel free to email me.

Book

I co-wrote "Python Web Development with Django". It was the first book to cover the long-awaited Django 1.0. Published by Addison-Wesley and still in print!

Colophon

Built using Django, served with gunicorn and nginx. The database is SQLite. Hosted on a FreeBSD VPS at Johncompanies.com. Comment-spam protection by Akismet.

Elsewhere

Pile o'Tags

Stuff I Use

Bitbucket, Debian Linux, Django, Emacs, FreeBSD, Git, jQuery, LaunchBar, macOS, Markdown, Mercurial, Python, S3, SQLite, Sublime Text, xmonad

Spam Report

At least 236604 pieces of comment spam killed since 2008, mostly via Akismet.

The fall of Sony

This evening I was pointed to a blog posting from yesterday about Sony's foray into malware distribution. The author gives a heavily technical blow-by-blow account of uncovering sleazy copy-protection software that has come along with his latest purchase from the Sony BMG record label:

...At that point I knew conclusively that the rootkit and its associated files were related to the First 4 Internet DRM software Sony ships on its CDs. Not happy having underhanded and sloppily written software on my system I looked for a way to uninstall it. However, I didnt find any reference to it in the Control Panels Add or Remove Programs list, nor did I find any uninstall utility or directions on the CD or on First 4 Internets site. I checked the EULA and saw no mention of the fact that I was agreeing to have software put on my system that I couldn't uninstall. Now I was mad.

Today a co-worker and I were discussing the iPod, and Apple's rise to dominance in that market, and wondering what it might take to break their grip. Who could possibly compete with them? I mentioned Sony, which I think struck my colleague as funny. The stock prices of Apple and Sony, respectively, have been on opposite trajectories in recent years. At thirty, he's younger than I am, so he doesn't remember Sony the 800-pound Sumo of the consumer electronics world; he sees Sony the OK company that makes a lot of stuff he doesn't buy.

I doubt I'm alone in thinking that Sony could have owned the portable digital media player market. Unfortunately for them, they blew it. What I said to my colleague was this: their blowing it is, in my mind, entirely attributable to the effort they have invested (and continue to invest) in pushing DRM and proprietary formats and proprietary media over open access. Check out this amazing quote from a 1999 CNET story on the "Digital Walkman":

Sony's U.S.-based record company, Sony Music Entertainment, last year joined the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) in a group that is fighting MP3 and working on a format for selling copyright-protected music over the Internet. The group, called the Secure Digital Music Initiative, formed soon after the RIAA failed to gain a court injunction to keep an MP3 portable player from being sold.

Granted, a certain amount of weirdness is to be expected with a record company and a consumer electronics company under the same roof. But, damn, ban MP3 players? This from the company that beat the MPAA and brought "time shifting" to the world? The shame.

Tuesday, November 1st, 2005
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