Happy 200th Birthday, Curling!

Curling: Still set in stone after 200 years

bq. Exactly 200 years ago today, on January 6, 1804, members of Duddingston Curling Society approved the first written rules of the “Roarin’ Game” in the Curlers’ Hall in Duddingston, at that time a small village outside of Edinburgh.

(I’ve only been curling for 10 years; I have some cathing up to do :-)

posted at 5:45 pm on Wednesday, January 07, 2004 in Links | Comments Off on Happy 200th Birthday, Curling!

amazon.ca shipping

So the amazon.ca package tracker says I should expect to receive my shipment between the 8th and 14th of January.

It was sitting in my mailbox when I got home today.

I’m off to (finally) watch the Firefly pilot… <grin>

posted at 9:29 pm on Tuesday, January 06, 2004 in Odd | Comments Off on amazon.ca shipping

On Piracy

“An article on sofware theft by Nick Bradbury”:http://nick.typepad.com/blog/2004/01/on_piracy.html prompted several random thoughts, that are only loosely related (and don’t qualify as a counter-argument :-). (He’s since posted “an update”:http://nick.typepad.com/blog/2004/01/on_piracy_part_.html).

Nick Bradbury has a point: theft is theft. Compare this to the “but Dad, you steal satellite TV” ads running right now.


To unfairly pick on one example: TopStyle sells for $80. While it looks like a very useful piece of software, for me personally, it’s not possible to justify spending $80(US) on software for personal / hobby use. To compare, my server hardware only cost me $300 (CDN, new). If I were doing web design and programming for a living, it would be a different story. (btw, I’ve never even downloaded the trial version, although I’ve tried FeedDemon a couple of times).

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not against paying for software; I use several other small products (that I’ve paid for :-), because I could justify the expense: HanDBase, Desktop To Go, Nelson Email Organizer (to name a few).

So then I started thinking about books. I know many successful book authors. I’m pretty sure I don’t know any who make a living from writing. The market has settled into an equilibrium where hardcovers are expensive, but few people buy them; mass-market paperbacks are cheap; $10 (CDN) or so.

Software is expensive (compared to books), particularly software that takes approximately the same amount of effort (an average novel is between six months and a year of full-time writing and editing). Authors get very little of that $10 book price; shareware authors in particular get all of it (minus transaction costs, which are small in comparison).

There is a strong lending economy in books; one person will purchase a book and then lend it to a couple of their friends. (This borrowing economy is truer of the more expensive DVDs; see an earlier weblog entry :-). There’s no way to lend software to someone (without violating EULAs). Granted, it’s hard to “lend” software, because of the perfect copying problem…

So those were my thoughts. I know it’s not as cut and dried as “make software cheaper and people won’t steal it”; the issue is more complicated than that. But I think it’s worth thinking about the current pricing and usage models for software, and how they could (should?) change…

posted at 9:17 pm on Tuesday, January 06, 2004 in Links | Comments (2)
  1. Jeff K says:

    $80 is a lot for a piece of software? Even “Perl” on linux is not “free”. I must have 5 $50 books on Perl here. Anyway, I have so little time, I can’t even use my Linux box. It’s driver support is just too poor and involves too much fiddling. It’s easier to pay for something that works out of the box.

    I’m more interested in your DVD databases, not from the sense of lending (which I wonder about the legality of), but rather for inspection for ideas of things I can buy. Your public wish lists were a gold mine at xmas, I went out and bought a bunch of goodies for myself based on those lists. (Which by the way, suggest you don’t mind paying $25 for 90 minutes of entertainment). If you want to borrow “Sinfest”, just let me know.

    Now if someone can help me get my Linux up-to-snuff for that database I should start inputting my DVDs [well, minus things I don’t want people to know I have, like “Coyote Ugly”]. Do any of your kids know how to hack Linux yet? I’ll pay them to kill my firewall and/or install a better dist than that Red Hat crap [I drop in a new $60 dist every year and none of them ever does everything I need]. Do they teach Linux in your school? The local public school seems to be a Windows shop. Which is odd, I thought a competing O/S maker had paid off all the GTA politicians. Hm, or was that some leasing company, bah I don’t recall. It was scary at xmas. My 7 year old was having trouble with some toy that was bought for her and instead of asking her parents for help, she went to the company’s web site! I think I’m responsible. Instead of scolding her for losing the instructions to her Uno game one day, I showed her how to find and print a new set from the net. I’m such a bad parent. Actually it can get pretty rough on the Barbie site. She’s interested in finding out more about “Christina Aguilera” and “Hilary Duff” because of what (apparently) other children write there. My worst nightmares realized! Fortunately Yahoo’s video site seems to be dying out [that’s where she goes to sample their stuff — which of course has an “if you like this, you’ll like that” list too.]

  2. Pete says:

    I agree with your take that software is too expensive, there are some other “time expenses” that programmers face, support is among them, but personally I’d rather pay $10 for topstyle (or whatever) and $15 a year for support (random number).

ISS Springs a Leak?

In SciScoop || The International Space Station Is Running Out Of Gas, we read that the ISS has experienced a minor air pressure drop (11 mm of mercury, or the equivalent of going from sea level to about 300 ft above (Toronto is about 300 ft above sea level, if I recall correctly).

How does one go about finding a slow leak from the space station? You can’t immerse the whole thing in water and look for bubbles…

posted at 12:02 pm on Tuesday, January 06, 2004 in Science and Technology | Comments Off on ISS Springs a Leak?

Quote of the Day

bq. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the peacemakers for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country.

bq. — General Herman Goering, President of German Reichstag and Nazi Party

(via “Reid”:http://rae.tnir.org/archives/2004_01.html#000446)

posted at 10:40 am on Monday, January 05, 2004 in Current Events | Comments Off on Quote of the Day

Open Media Lending Database

My friends and I have been getting DVD players and DVDs. We’ve been talking for a while about building a database at CFRQ to list the DVDs each of us own, and to keep track of lending. The discussion came up again last night over cards, so I did a bit of digging…

As per normal, someone else not only had this idea, but wrote the software. The Open Media Lending Database is a PHP + MySQL solution to the problem that is pretty sophisticated. It supports multiple “media” types: DVD, VHS, CD, Games, Books, etc.. You can add data by crawling IMDB and Amazon.com. It supports multiple users. There are some features that we don’t need, but overall it looks like it will be very useful.

So I installed it :-)

posted at 10:52 pm on Saturday, January 03, 2004 in Links | Comments (2)
  1. Jeff K says:

    Cool, now all I need is someone to input many hundreds of entries. Someone should have a UPC list to IMDB mapping or to this database then I could just scan them all in, well except for my collection of off-the-air pbs stuff on VHS.

    I also tend to have sections where things are filed (e.g. kids VHS, kids DVD, anime, war, documentary, movies, concerts) so the stacks have a more at-a-glance physical usefulness to them.

    The only problem with loaning stuff to friends is that (well I’ve never had these problems, but I thought I should mention them to would-be librarians) is inopportune bit-rot. For example, I had one DVD that was part of a bad batch and stopped working of its own accord. It was a $60 rare DVD, which I managed to eventually get replaced through the distributor, but suppose a friend had it when the bits went bad? If it’s rare and out of print, do I risk copying it prior to lending it and having the thought police show up at the door? Which reminds me, I have a (big budget) movie on VHS that was actually recalled and is now totally unavailable. oooh ahhh. Same for the case of a Disney VHS.

    Then there are children under 3. It’s taken only about 2 months to teach her otherwise, but Megan started out (of course) by not holding the DVDs by the central hole and the edges. So far all finger prints have been corrected, but I lost one driver CD (irrelevant since it’s out of date anyway) to an apple juice spill.

    What about the potential to psycho-analyse a collection? Fortunately, most of my questionable videos can be blamed on the kids or misleading packaging, yeah, that’s it.


  2. Harald says:

    The software does have a barcode interface; there’s a collaborative DVD barcode database out on the internet. I haven’t tried it, though.

    The library is closed to a small group of people with mutual trust, so I’m not concerned about the bit-rot issue. This is mainly a way for each of us to remember whom we’ve lent DVDs to. :-)

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