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I was born at a relatively young age. Growing up consumed the better part of my childhood. As a young man I chased a lot of girls. But they kept getting away. Then I got older and even slower, so I got married. I've lived in New York City almost since before I moved here. I summer in Manhattan, which is like New York City, but with more humidity.

Here's me, without baby, thinking big thoughts. (Actually, what I'm thinking is, "Hey, these aren't Pringles!") I think I look better with baby.


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The Rootkit of All Evil
Monday, December 05, 2005

There has been much written on the Internet about the recent Sony debacle with CD copy protection. (You can read more about it than you ever wanted to know, here.) In a nutshell, Sony has been shipping CDs with a copy protection system embedded within (called a "rootkit"), which literally infects your computer when you play the CD. The Sony disc installs spyware that is almost impossible to remove, and which opens up your system to hacks and viruses. The system has been deployed without the knowlwdge of artists on their roster (here's a list of infected titles); some have disavowed the practice on their own websites.

Its bad enough that a record company should even want to stop me from putting the songs I buy from them, legally, onto my iPod. But to actually go so far as to infect customer computers in the interest of copy protection suggests that, at least as far as Sony is concerned, what began as bad marketing has morphed into sheer contempt for the customer.

Music downloading and digital duplication are seen as the scourge of the music business. But phonographs didn't kill the music business (sheet music publishers thought the phonograph was the end of the world); cassette recording didn't kill the music business. Video still hasn't killed the radio star.

When consumers want to download your product, that's called demand. When consumers don't want to buy your product, that's called bad marketing. When you blame the consumer for your inability to successfully market to them, that's heinous. And that's where the record business is today. Simply put: if you think you're losing money because consumers don't want to buy your product, MAKE A PRODUCT PEOPLE WANT TO BUY. Period. Change your economic model, revisit pricing and manufacturing costs, explore new modes of distribution. You know, MARKETING. Could you imagine if McDonald's started selling fewer burgers, and they turned their wrath on their best customers? "If sales don't pick up pronto, we're going to cancel breakfast!"

If you don't let me put my new $15 CD onto my iPod, then you've made it worth less to me, not more, and I don't think I want it. In fact, I think I want my money back. And that's if the copy protection works (None of it does, by the way; if you know even a little about music software you can burn anything.) But when your copy protection damages my computer-- and all I wanted to do was listen to the new CD I actually bought and paid for (as opposed to the people you think are killing your business, the ones who DON'T buy your CDs)-- that is simply beyond the pale. it betrays an attitude of arrogance and contempt for the consumer, an attitude that says the company can-- and should-- punish its best customers for the unforgivable sin of actually buying and using the product.

I look around my home. The 26-inch TV in the bedroom? Sony. The new flat-panel TV in the living room? Sony. The two DVD players? Sony. Oh, and the digital video camera? Yup.

But not anymore. I will not buy anymore goods or services from Sony. I won't go to their theaters, I won't buy their CDs (although I will probably make an exception for Derek Trucks, unless they rootkit him.) I choose who gets my money, and if you treat me with outright contempt, and I still give you money, that sort of makes me a sucker. I mention all these Sony gadgets we have, not to impress you with our state-of-the-art gadgetry, but rather to impress upon you that my household is-- or has been-- an extremely profitable customer for Sony. So that's one less they have as of today.

I'm not saying YOU should boycott Sony. I'm taking ownership of my own actions, not yours. You do what you think is right for you.

But whatever you do, be very careful putting new CDs into your computer. At the very least, you might want to disable the autorun feature on the CD drives in your computer, so any such malware isn't automatically activated when you insert the disc.

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Posted by: --josh-- @ 8:53 AM  


3 Comments:
At 12/05/2005 1:41 PM, Anonymous Annie said...   

Oh great. Finally I understand a music technology, and now it's polluted. Also, "rootkit" is right up there with "homeland security" as vaguely Fascistic new name/phrase on which the creative team should have worked harder.


At 12/05/2005 3:27 PM, Blogger --josh-- said...   

One thing I forgot to mention is the class action suits. Sony has had their heads handed to them.

There are rumors that the next version of Windows will make it exceedingly difficult to do things with music files. Not looking forward to that.


At 12/05/2005 3:30 PM, Blogger --josh-- said...   

Also, I don't think "rootkit" is a term intended for consumers. I think its a techie geek term that civilians would generally never hear. I sure didn't before this. But IT geeks I know were familiar with it.


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