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Awesome Stuff: Not Quite Google Glass

from the heads-up dept

The failure of Google Glass was an interesting thing. Somewhat-overblown privacy issues aside, the device may have just been ahead of its time, or ahead of the technology powering it — or it might have simply been way too expensive. Whatever the case, wearable computers and head-mounted displays aren't dead, and in fact we'll probably be seeing a lot of them in the future. Today, we look at one such offering: Vufine, a wearable display that does less than Google Glass, which might be its biggest strength.

The Good

As the video reveals, the creator of the Vufine has tried just about every wearable display product around, and concluded that they are "unfocused, overpriced, impractical and overcomplicated." That's a pretty solid diagnosis, and the Vufine attempts to solve it. Firstly, it's just a wearable display, not a full computer like Google Glass: it clips onto your glasses or sunglasses, connects to any device with an HD video output, and then projects a small HUD-like display box in your field of vision. This enables lots of integrations, with two immediately obvious ones: hook it to a smartphone for heads-up maps and communication and media, or hook it to a GoPro camera to serve as a viewfinder when shooting your own action footage. Turn the camera around, and it can serve as a rear-view mirror.

By limiting the device to this single, simple, useful function, they skirt around all sorts of issues that are raised by more robust products like Google Glass, including the aforementioned privacy freakouts about head-mounted cameras and microphones. The most immediately noticeable difference is the price: the Vufine aims to retail for only $150, an order of magnitude less than Glass.

The Bad

Of course, simplifying the device also means giving up a lot of functionality. Things like voice control, gesture control, and streaming video from one person to another won't be possible unless the Vufine is hooked up to hardware and software that provides those abilities. This is less a "revolutionary new device" and more an innovative display for existing devices — not that there's anything wrong with that, but it may not generate the hype of something like Glass (though at the same time, probably won't generate the ire, either). And there's one feature that will likely irritate some, especially those who pursue wirelessness in all things: the Vufine attaches to your smartphone, camera or other device via a Micro HDMI cable. There are surely a lot of engineering and performance advantages to going the wired route, but the sight of a cable hanging from your face and disappearing into your pocket might be enough to put some people off the device altogether.

The Quantifiable

We've already looked at one of the Vufine's very attractive numbers — the price. Now let's consider a few others. Display-wise, it uses a 4x3mm micro-display that appears as a 4" display positioned 11" from your eye, at a resolution of 960x540 (a higher definition than Glass). It also weighs only 22 grams — about half of Glass and a quarter of the Recon Jet glasses. There's one slightly less attractive number though: the battery life, which clocks in at 90 minutes (compare that to 4 hours for the Jet, and a full day for Glass, though the latter can be drastically shortened depending on what features you are using). It can be attached to a USB charging pack for additional lifespan, but running a second cable from the Vufine to a pack somewhere on your person could be pretty cumbersome.


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  • icon
    fogbugzd (profile), 27 Jun 2015 @ 8:55am

    It sounds a lot like the design philosophy of pebble watches. It doesn't try do do everything. Battery life is still an issue.

    This plus a Raspberry PI could be an interesting combination.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Indy, 27 Jun 2015 @ 9:33am

    ?

    What does it do? I saw most of those people with two cameras. I'd feel ridiculous with that much tech on my body.

    I'd really just like a device that attaches to my smartphone in some manner, and not deal with more third party devices. I want a very small and light camera for commuting, that somehow filmed in 360 degrees in HD, and could easily upload to a video sharing site at the press of a button. Keep cars/bikers accountable.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 27 Jun 2015 @ 10:34am

    The failure to accept privacy issues suggest the artic author does not fully understand or appreciate the core issue of privacy. Disregarding the issue if privacy by associating it with some weird social notion does NOT reduce its importance to many.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 27 Jun 2015 @ 11:11am

      Re:

      Yup. Techdirt was tonedeaf to the problems with Google's spywear.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Leigh Beadon (profile), 27 Jun 2015 @ 11:18am

      Re:

      I called them "somewhat overblown" and "freakouts" — not entirely ungrounded or irrelevant. I do think there are genuine privacy concerns to be considered around something like Google Glass, but unfortunately most people were unable to have any kind of rational conversation about it, and went straight to violent opposition of the technology up to and including ripping them off people's faces and smashing them (and being widely applauded online for doing so).

      If you think that was a reasonable reaction, so be it. I think it was a somewhat overblown freakout.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 27 Jun 2015 @ 1:41pm

      Re:

      The failure to accept privacy issues

      How 'ya doing with that on the NSA front?

      The Corporate Big Data front?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    different ac, 28 Jun 2015 @ 5:11pm

    "What part of what I said was tonedeaf, exactly?"

    Calling privacy concerns overblown and freakout.

    If anything, privacy conserns are extreamly understated, most don't even understand the extent of the threat. People absolutely should be "freaking out" alot more then they are.

    We're quickly moving towards a world where you won't even be able to find a device that doesn't have a backdoor. That's not an opinion, it's a technological fact. Modern device architecture puts final device authority in the manufactuer's and service providers hands. That authority is a backdoor by another name...

    Forgive me if I seam a bit pissy- but markets are being driven by people who are ignorant of the way there devices work. We need a radical shift in awareness and perspective if we hope to have devices available that will be in our control. Techdirt is a site that is practically centered around exposing corporate and government malfeasence and yet when it comes to this subject, TD is not just 'tone deaf', it's willfully blind- so afraid of falling into "tin hat" territory, that it's missing the herd of elephants in the room masqurading as furnature.

    Here: I'll name some of them for you- please read about this stuff and become more informed.
    Cellular architecture and the Baseband processor.
    Intel VPRO, AMT, DASH, IPMI, TPM, UEFI, Secure Boot.

    If you (and only you) don't have they keys and access control over these "features" then they're not there for your benifit. -that's someones lock, on your device, keeping you from being in control- and giving contol over to whoemever they see fit. Cisco just got busted for having default keys- do you think they're the only ones?

    If you want a backdoor free future where people are in control of the devices they own- read Richard Stallman, support the FSF, and the libreboot project.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Leigh Beadon (profile), 28 Jun 2015 @ 6:39pm

      Re:

      So if I understand you correctly, anything less than actively trying to destroy Google Glass devices is being tonedeaf to privacy concerns?

      Does the same apply to smartphones?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      MrTroy (profile), 29 Jun 2015 @ 12:22am

      Re:

      Well, it's lucky that TD commenters are always willing to venture as far into "tin hat" territory as required, and further!

      If anything, privacy conserns are extreamly understated, most don't even understand the extent of the threat. People absolutely should be "freaking out" alot more then they are.

      Debatably true, but then you trip down the slippery slope of sanity and you aren't even talking about Google Glass any more.

      In what way was your comment relevant to Leigh's post (repeated here for simplicity)?
      I called them "somewhat overblown" and "freakouts" — not entirely ungrounded or irrelevant. I do think there are genuine privacy concerns to be considered around something like Google Glass, but unfortunately most people were unable to have any kind of rational conversation about it, and went straight to violent opposition of the technology up to and including ripping them off people's faces and smashing them (and being widely applauded online for doing so).

      If you think that was a reasonable reaction, so be it. I think it was a somewhat overblown freakout.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      MrTroy (profile), 29 Jun 2015 @ 12:25am

      Re:

      Just saw this one in a re-read.

      Forgive me if I seam a bit pissy- but markets are being driven by people who are ignorant of the way there devices work.

      I think you'll find that the only markets driven by people who understand the way the products work all have the label "niche", and possibly "enthusiast".

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Mason Wheeler (profile), 29 Jun 2015 @ 7:41am

      Re:

      If you want a backdoor free future where people are in control of the devices they own- read Richard Stallman, support the FSF, and the libreboot project.

      Do you know what the biggest impediment is to the adoption of the FSF's ideals? Richard Stallman and the FSF. And I say this as a frequent contributor to and developer of open-source projects.

      Yeah, they're right about a lot of important points, and on some of them Stallman's practically been the lone voice crying in the wilderness long before the rest of the world caught on. But it's often much easier to correctly identify a problem than to have a good solution for it. (Just ask an oncologist!)

      The problem is, a lot of people don't really understand this distinction, and when you come up with a bad solution, it discredits your correct identification of the problem by association. (Karl Marx comes to mind.) That's where we are with the FSF. By pushing "solutions" like the GPL, which if you're honest is more of a political statement than a license, they turn a lot of people off, alienating powerful potential-allies.

      It's been said that a heretic is someone who believes almost all the same things as you, and they must be destroyed without mercy. The FSF would have a lot more success if they would stop treating "Open Source" like a bunch of heretics, for starters.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    different ac, 29 Jun 2015 @ 1:34am

    Re:Re:

    I don't think you actually read anything I wrote. If true then that's quite literally tonedeaf. I never advocated violence, or property destruction for example...

    How on earth can TD be so fantastic about seeing and explaining various IP, Copyright, and Policy issues, but fail so miserably when it comes to understanding hardware and device architecture? How is it you can't see that if policy and law is the nail- it's device architecture and manufacturer authority that's the hammer which can drive it.
    You think DRM is bad? ...just wait, you havn't seen anything yet, and by the time you do, it's going to be too late.

    You and Techdirt are clearly biased towards google. TD's track record on google reporting is hidiously slanted and lacking any thoroughness or objectivity. Just to touch on a couple recent examples- Where the hell is the story about google quitely introducing automatic facial recognition and tagging into their cloud photo system? You think that data's not for sale? read the eula... IIRC TD bashed facebook for doing the same? But googles fine... If the feds demaded a database like that TD would have a shit fit, but for somereason you're perfectly fine with google selling it to them. Fine for privacy to slowly die by 10 millions cuts so long as a multinational corporation we like makes money off it and gives us more "free" stuff.

    Better yet, where's the story about google being caught red-handed introducing spy/malware into the open source chromium browser. That just happened... They just changed chromium so that it downloaded and installed closed source proprietary binaries onto their users machines and turned on everyones microphones to start listening and sending conversations back to google-

    NO notice, NO asking for permission, NO way to turn it off- they just did it. TD shredded (LG? or Samsung?) for that same exact behaivor- but this is google... Not a peep from TD on this story- just like any story that makes google look bad.

    If you think 'ok google' is harmless- then you havn't reaserched it.

    Hotword.exe documented in use by APT malware:
    https://twitter.com/cryptostorm_is/status/615029737874935808

    Did you read the pdf's in comments with POC whitepapers on acoustic key logging?

    It's not only smartphones- read up on those elephants I've mentioned....and I never implied violence was any sort of solution- I guess I can see how that'd be loosely interpreted though if you didn't read much of what I wrote.

    If people demanded real libre open source products, real owner authroity, and refused the security and privacy train wreak of products and services we have now; they'd start making proper gear and services in no time at all. Sites like TD should be informing people so they can make intelegent choices. You can't do that while sucking up to google though- it's just not possible. If people don't see/understand the problem, they can't react.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      MrTroy (profile), 29 Jun 2015 @ 2:18am

      Re: Re:Re:

      Ok, those things are terrible if true, and maybe relevant in an article about Google. They are also completely compatible with Leigh's statement that he thinks "there are genuine privacy concerns to be considered around something like Google Glass".

      Why jump on Leigh for that?

      Also, there are many dozens of stories that TD doesn't report on. They also have limited staff. If they've already called out behaviour on some other company, just assume that they feel the same about the same behaviour from a different company. Why assume the worst? It just makes you look bad.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Blue Sweater (profile), 29 Jun 2015 @ 5:04am

      Re: Re:Re:

      Last time I checked, Google was an optional service. If someone has concerns over their way of doing business, they are free to choose any of the other companies offering similar services.

      "Sites like TD should be informing people so they can make intelegent choices." I always get a kick out of people coming, taking the time (or not) to read articles and then commenting that TD should be writing about something else or complain that they shouldn't bother writing about that subject.

      If you see a need for a different type of article, maybe you could fill that void and provide those articles on your own site.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Leigh Beadon (profile), 29 Jun 2015 @ 9:07am

        Re: Re: Re:Re:

        If you see a need for a different type of article, maybe you could fill that void and provide those articles on your own site.

        We also love guest-post submissions. If someone with deep technical knowledge about bootloaders and privacy issues deep within device architecture wanted to write a good, accessible post helping our readers better understand those issues and what they can be doing about them, that'd be great! We'd love that.

        Unfortunately, such people who try to write such posts often take on a similar tone: barely-veiled frustration with and castigation of the public for failing to make this the only thing they ever think or talk about, and for paying any attention to any tech issues/topics at any other level before addressing this one. And while I somewhat understand that view, it's not the only valid one, and it's not one Techdirt wholly endorses.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          John Fenderson (profile), 29 Jun 2015 @ 2:04pm

          Re: Re: Re: Re:Re:

          "while I somewhat understand that view"

          Me too. Everyone has their pet issues that, to them, are the most important issues there are. Grownups, however, recognize that others have a different set of pet issues they feel the exact same way about.

          A sign of maturity is the ability to not just allow others to discuss their own pet issues, but to also listen to and take part in that discussion.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            Leigh Beadon (profile), 30 Jun 2015 @ 7:46am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:Re:

            I honestly can't quite tell if you're chastising me for not listening enough or applauding me for doing so... but either way I agree with your point :)

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Mason Wheeler (profile), 29 Jun 2015 @ 8:32am

      Re: Re:Re:

      You think DRM is bad?

      No, unfortunately TD doesn't think DRM is bad. More than once on here I've explained how it has no legitimate purpose, how we need to call a spade a spade, stop giving DRM a legally protected status, and instead criminalize it exactly like any other hacking tool, because that's what it is.

      The response from Techdirt staff was to strongly contradict my position, repeatedly.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Leigh Beadon (profile), 29 Jun 2015 @ 8:48am

        Re: Re: Re:Re:

        No, Mason, that is not true at all.

        Techdirt is obviously, openly opposed to DRM. We have written many posts condemning it, and we've always fought against anti-circumvention provisions. I'm looking through your comments on several of those posts and currently haven't found any where our writers have even replied to you, let alone contradicted you, but I'll be interested to see whatever examples you have in mind.

        If we have opposed you, I think it's clear what we've opposed: your absolutist insistence that all DRM be treated precisely the same as malicious software and treated as such under the law, and that software makers should be legally blocked from attempting to include it.

        That's a uselessly absolutist view, Mason. It's not realistic. It's not going to happen. And it doesn't even sound that great. As you know, here at Techdirt we are big fans of technological/innovative solutions before legal/policy/regulatory ones -- and we feel that the technological futility of DRM will do it in long before Congress or a court is prepared to say that the standard behaviour of all major software companies for 20 years has been criminal.

        If you think that our failure to join your absolutist regulatory crusade means we "don't think DRM is bad" then you are being very myopic.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Mason Wheeler (profile), 29 Jun 2015 @ 10:30am

          Re: Re: Re: Re:Re:

          That's a uselessly absolutist view, Mason.

          Some absolutes do exist, even in a highly relative world. What's "useless" about telling it like it is?

          It's not realistic. It's not going to happen.

          Just like defeating SOPA was never going to happen?

          And it doesn't even sound that great. As you know, here at Techdirt we are big fans of technological/innovative solutions before legal/policy/regulatory ones

          So do you believe that it's a bad idea to legally prohibit the development and distribution of malware, (for active, non-research purposes, obviously,) or do you believe that DRM, whose only functional purpose is to take control of a computer's functionality away from the computer's owner and have it instead serve the whims of a remote developer (and there's really no better definition of "hacking" than that!) somehow "does not count" as malware? I really don't see any wiggle room on either position; some things really are absolute.

          and we feel that the technological futility of DRM will do it in long before Congress or a court is prepared to say that the standard behaviour of all major software companies for 20 years has been criminal.

          Having been around and actively observing the Big Tobacco suit during the 90s, I feel that you're absolutely wrong in this feeling. All too often, the "industry standard" behavior of an entire industry does constitute a de facto infringement upon the natural rights of the people, and continues to do so for decades until the government finally wakes up and says "enough is enough." And all too often it's the only thing that ever does manage to stop them.

          Whether or not we want that to be true is a matter of ideology. Whether or not it is true is a matter of fact, and it frequently is true. I believe this is one such case.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            Leigh Beadon (profile), 29 Jun 2015 @ 10:39am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:Re:

            So be it. Just know that in our eyes, you are exhibiting the exact same behaviour that rubs you the wrong way from Stallman/the FSF.

            No, I do not believe that giving the government more authority to declare what sort of software is legal or illegal is a good idea. In fact, it's a downright stupid one. Simply eliminating anti-circumvention provisions and any other special protections for DRM would render it even more utterly useless than it currently is, without the need to put a bunch of Congresspeople and/or Judges in charge of evaluating the legality of software.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • icon
              Mason Wheeler (profile), 29 Jun 2015 @ 10:50am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:Re:

              No, I do not believe that giving the government more authority to declare what sort of software is legal or illegal is a good idea.

              I don't see it as "giving the government more authority." They've already declared that malware is illegal--the judges already are in the position of ruling on that matter--and AFAICT we both agree that this is correct. I simply believe that the footnote that says "except for DRM, because highly influential companies like using it" needs to be expunged.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

              • icon
                Leigh Beadon (profile), 29 Jun 2015 @ 11:04am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:Re:

                Because DRM is a much wider umbrella. I agree that DRM that, covertly and without consent, hijacks functions of the user's computer beyond the software it comes with -- such as the Sony Rootkit -- can be considered identical to malware. But DRM covers so much more than that.

                It sounds like you would say that software which refuses to run unless the CD is in the drive, or a dongle is attached, should be illegal. Well... okay... but how do you define that? Does a software maker not have the right to include conditions for that software to operate, or to access certain functions?

                In that case, what about a computer game that refuses to let me access later levels until I have completed the early ones, like almost every computer game ever. In that case, the data and the programming for all those later levels is there on my computer, but the game is refusing to let me access it until I satisfy arbitrary, unnecessary, artificial conditions.

                So is that illegal too?

                Now, of course, I could use other tools to unpack the data from the later levels, hack in and access them. And that would be perfectly legal. If it were illegal, then we'd have a big problem -- and that's the situation with DRM right now, which as I've said I agree is indeed a big problem. But how do you outlaw DRM in the first place without also outlawing my example?

                It doesn't even have to be so outlandish. What if I create a privacy/security control program of some kind, say one for parents to install when they want to limit young children's access to certain functions or programs? Sounds to me like that would also be an illegal virus under your definition.

                So then, are you saying it all comes down to whether or not the intent of the limitations is to prevent violation of copyright? That's fine I guess, but it's also ridiculous. The law is not going to use a right that people have as the definition of something they cannot attempt to do. "Software makers are specifically prohibited from placing any limitations on their software in an attempt to protect their IP rights." Uh... weird. If you think getting that law is as easy/plausible as stopping SOPA, I dunno what to tell you. Maybe we could work in that direction, though as a step before that it'd likely simply be stated that software makers must make sure their protections have exclusions for things like personal backups and fair use, and as a step before that we'd need to eliminate the current laws actively preventing circumvention of DRM for such uses. Which is, as I've been saying all along, the real issue.

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                • icon
                  Mason Wheeler (profile), 29 Jun 2015 @ 11:28am

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:Re:

                  But how do you outlaw DRM in the first place without also outlawing my example?

                  That's a pretty good point. Not being a lawyer, I'm not sure exactly how to word the law to get it right on that point. But I do believe it could be done.

                  It doesn't even have to be so outlandish. What if I create a privacy/security control program of some kind, say one for parents to install when they want to limit young children's access to certain functions or programs? Sounds to me like that would also be an illegal virus under your definition.

                  As I've said before, and been completely consistent about the whole time, ultimate control of a computer's functionality should rest in the hands of its owner... which in this case would almost certainly be the parent even if they do colloquially refer to it as the kid's computer.

                  Putting such software on a system you don't own (or without being authorized to do so by the owner) would indeed be illegal under my definition.

                  That's fine I guess, but it's also ridiculous. The law is not going to use a right that people have as the definition of something they cannot attempt to do.

                  Why not? It already does, in a manner that's completely relevant to this discussion: you are legally prohibited from taking the enforcement of the law into your own hands. That's known as vigilantism, and it's highly illegal for any number of reasons, especially when the alleged victim and the vigilante are one and the same.

                  ...except when the crime is copyright infringement. Then we throw literally millennia of precedent and common sense right out the window. My position is as simple as saying "no, we should not do that; copyright infringement needs to be decided in a court of law, with due process and the presumption of innocence just like anything else." Is there really anything at all ridiculous about that?

                  reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                  • icon
                    Leigh Beadon (profile), 29 Jun 2015 @ 1:00pm

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:Re:

                    All the issues with DRM could be solved just fine by getting rid of anti-circumvention provisions.

                    In fact, let's flip this around: what are the issues that you think would remain after anti-circumvention rules are gone, that would require limiting people's rights to write software how they choose?

                    I just don't see any justification for legally preventing software makers from limiting the functionality of their software as they choose, as stupid as it might be for them to do so. Again, extending that control beyond the bounds of the software itself, such as the sony rootkit, is a different story -- but outlawing DRM seems like a needless restriction on people's rights, which is not something I support.

                    Here's one more question, just out of curiosity: would free trial versions of software that disable after a given number of days also be illegal?

                    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                    • icon
                      Mason Wheeler (profile), 29 Jun 2015 @ 1:15pm

                      Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:Re:

                      First off, limiting the rights of people to do absolutely whatever they want--particularly at the points where they interact with other people in ways that can be harmful--is one of the most fundamental principles of civilized society. It's the concept that we believe in something higher than the law of the jungle.

                      All the issues with DRM could be solved just fine by getting rid of anti-circumvention provisions.

                      Not the issue of DRM itself.

                      what are the issues that you think would remain after anti-circumvention rules are gone, that would require limiting people's rights to write software how they choose?

                      What are the issues that you think would remain if people had the legal right to self-defense against vigilantes, that would require limiting people's rights to act as vigilantes if they choose to?

                      Well, other than the fact that we would have vigilantes all over dispensing "justice" as they see fit, and an arms race between them and the ordinary citizens they'd be victimizing left and right as a matter of course, not all that much, really. But isn't that plenty bad enough in and of itself?

                      Here's one more question, just out of curiosity: would free trial versions of software that disable after a given number of days also be illegal?

                      Most likely, and everyone hates those anyway. It would provide an opportunity for innovation, to develop a better model for demo software. :)

                      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                      • icon
                        MrTroy (profile), 29 Jun 2015 @ 5:42pm

                        Re:cursion

                        All the issues with DRM could be solved just fine by getting rid of anti-circumvention provisions.

                        Not the issue of DRM itself.

                        If DRM doesn't have the weight of the law behind it, then there aren't many issues in DRM itself. Note here that I'm talking about the kind of DRM that purely enables or disables access to the program containing the DRM. If it's legal to disable this kind of DRM in software that you have purchased, then it doesn't really matter if it's there or not. Companies that waste money on implementing it may find it harder to be competitive with companies that don't bother, or they may finally realise that it's not worth the money so stop implementing DRM naturally. Once the legal backing for DRM is removed, the problem largely goes away by itself - there's no NEED for any further legislation.

                        That's what Leigh is talking about when he asks what issues would remain.

                        As to software that installs rootkits, or scans your hard drive, or otherwise locks up your computer outside the boundaries of the software (or music) that you actually wanted... it's not completely clear that these should be criminal, either. The court of public opinion and the free market may still be better mechanisms for dissuading such behaviour than threat of criminal sanctions - that are nearly impossible to apply to corporations anyway.

                        How would you propose dealing with a lone software developer that offered some software that lets them connect some device to their PC to control it in a new and novel way... but after some months, it is discovered that the library that the developer used to build their driver functionality on includes a rootkit that is used to build a botnet? What if the developer didn't know that about the library when they chose to use it? Should they be personally liable based on not decompiling and performing a security audit on every third-party library that they are using?

                        I don't think the law is nimble enough, or flexible enough, to apply any kind of good solution to this kind of problem.

                        Here's one more question, just out of curiosity: would free trial versions of software that disable after a given number of days also be illegal?

                        Most likely, and everyone hates those anyway. It would provide an opportunity for innovation, to develop a better model for demo software. :)

                        Spoiler: You don't speak for everyone. Those software trials can be critical for evaluating some software that may have high unit costs. Heck, I don't know how you can say they could be illegal without calling into question the entire premise of software trials, or software/services that you license on a subscription basis.

                        And whether or not you LIKE such models, making them illegal sounds extreme, and would more likely reduce innovation in software marketing than provide new opportunities, especially considering those opportunities already exist. I don't think there's a single developer out there who is saying "Look, everyone hates this method of trialling software... but it's not illegal, so let's not bother looking for a new way". Well, not more than two or three.

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          • icon
            Leigh Beadon (profile), 29 Jun 2015 @ 10:45am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:Re:

            The main issue with your position is that you don't have a workable definition of DRM. Let's start with the one you've provided: only functional purpose is to take control of a computer's functionality away from the computer's owner and have it instead serve the whims of a remote developer

            Okay, so are distributed computing apps like the classic SETI processor also illegal malware? They also have that same sole functional purpose. But they are agreed to by the user.

            So does that negate it? But what if the user agrees to buy and install a piece of software or content that openly includes DRM? Are they not then equally assenting?

            Secret DRM like the Sony Rootkit is a different story. But the vast majority of DRM is not secret -- it's stupid, but not secret, and it's something users agree to when they install the software. The fact that those users are then legally prevented from using their own devices and other software to circumvent that DRM is a huge problem that we need to fix — but the fact that the company was permitted to create and openly sell the DRM is, as far as I can see, impossible to prevent.

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            • icon
              Mason Wheeler (profile), 29 Jun 2015 @ 11:04am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:Re:

              There's a very important distinction with the SETI program. It's not "agreed to by the user"; it's invited by the user. (It's kinda like the difference between you having a guest over who eats food out of your fridge, and a burglar sneaking in and eating food out of your fridge.) If I downloaded the SETI software, I'm still in control: I can turn it off or even uninstall it, whenever I want to. I've simply chosen to donate unused computing resources to a worthy cause.

              No one buys software for the DRM, and no one truly assents to installing it; it's forced upon them by what can be at best considered a leonine contract, though I would prefer to use the words "under duress" to describe the process: you've paid good money for something that you know full well is not going to be refunded (because you might be a pirate!) and the only way you're going to get to use it involves a parasite that you're not even supposed to know about, that doesn't look anything like "informed consent" to me. (And you're not supposed to know about it. Remember, "If consumers even know there's a DRM, what it is, and how it works, we've already failed").

              The fact that those users are then legally prevented from using their own devices and other software to circumvent that DRM is a huge problem that we need to fix — but the fact that the company was permitted to create and openly sell the DRM is, as far as I can see, impossible to prevent.

              Maybe that would look as ridiculous to you as it does to me if I applied an analogy to the biological world:

              "The fact that those people are legally prevented from using their own money and medicine to cure poisoning is a huge problem that we need to fix — but the fact that the company was permitted to create and openly distribute poison is, as far as I can see, impossible to prevent."

              Can you imagine what a ridiculously dystopian world we would have to be living in for the above to be something anyone would actually say? But when it happens in computing, far too many people accept it as "just the way it it."

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              • icon
                Leigh Beadon (profile), 29 Jun 2015 @ 11:05am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:Re:

                "The fact that those people are legally prevented from using their own money and medicine to cure poisoning is a huge problem that we need to fix — but the fact that the company was permitted to create and openly distribute poison is, as far as I can see, impossible to prevent."

                So how about alcohol?

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                • icon
                  Mason Wheeler (profile), 29 Jun 2015 @ 11:44am

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:Re:

                  This is probably going to drive you up the wall but... do you realize you're talking about something that's caused more senseless, completely unnecessary death and misery than every war in human history put together?

                  Just as a bad solution can discredit a good explanation of a problem in the eyes of the masses due to guilt by association, so can a bad implementation of a good idea. One of the classic examples is Prohibition. Heck, I'm an engineer and I literally don't think I could design a worse way to implement it than the way the USA did if I tried! It was still fundamentally a good idea, though.

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                  • icon
                    Leigh Beadon (profile), 29 Jun 2015 @ 12:55pm

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:Re:

                    Oh I acknowledge the issues with alcohol.

                    But if we continue this analogy, your position on DRM is equivalent to saying that anyone who calls for anything other than total prohibition and criminalization of alcohol is being stupid.

                    Again: pointlessly, pigheadedly absolutist.

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                    • icon
                      Mason Wheeler (profile), 29 Jun 2015 @ 1:19pm

                      Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:Re:

                      It's not a perfect analogy. That's what happened with Prohibition, and like I said, that was the worst possible way to do it, but there's a good reason for that that doesn't apply to software: alcohol is a highly addictive substance--so addictive, in fact, that withdrawal can cause severe or even life-threatening medical problems--and it was imposed upon a populace in which a large percentage were already drinkers. Anyone could have seen that there's no way that can possibly go well.

                      There is no equivalent problem with banning DRM.

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                  • icon
                    Gwiz (profile), 29 Jun 2015 @ 1:39pm

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:Re:

                    One of the classic examples is Prohibition. [...] It was still fundamentally a good idea, though.

                    Did you really just say that a government playing nanny and dictating what a grown adult may or may not put into their own body is "still fundamentally a good idea"? Seriously?

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                    • icon
                      Mason Wheeler (profile), 29 Jun 2015 @ 1:55pm

                      Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:Re:

                      What's the mandate of the US government? According to the most fundamental American philosophical document on the subject, it is to "secure" (protect/defend/uphold) the "inalienable rights" of the people, and chief among those rights are "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."

                      Well, you aren't alive if you drink yourself to death. You aren't free if you're an addict; the phrase "slave to the bottle" exists for a very good reason. And you aren't happy if you're living in misery--not to mention the misery and destruction that it inflicts on the lives of those around you, particularly your family.

                      So yes, I did say that a government doing exactly what it was explicitly supposed to do, governing and taking the long view for the good of the people, even when some people would prefer to take a short-sighted, destructive course of action, is a fundamentally good idea. What's bad about that?

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                      • icon
                        Gwiz (profile), 29 Jun 2015 @ 2:06pm

                        Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:Re:

                        You undermined your argument all by yourself there. Perhaps your vehement dislike of alcohol has colored your thinking a bit here. (not that I disagree all that much about the evils of alcohol abuse, being sober for over ten years myself now).

                        Your argument boils down to this:

                        In order to safeguard your rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness we have to dictate how you live your life, remove your liberty to consume what you wish and only allow you to pursue happiness that we approve of.

                        What kind of sense does that make?

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                        • icon
                          Mason Wheeler (profile), 29 Jun 2015 @ 2:28pm

                          Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:Re:

                          "Dictate how you live your life"? Oh please. Let's lay off the melodrama a little, shall we? "Dictating how you live your life" is a positive mandate, which is far more oppressive and broader in scope than a negative mandate--dictating one specific way in which you will not live your life.

                          And again, one of the most fundamental principles of civilization is that you do not have absolute liberty to do whatever you want, especially when your actions interact with the lives of others. The thing is, when it comes to addictive, mind-altering substances, just about everything you do ends up falling under that umbrella!

                          For example, we ban driving under the influence because it has a higher-than-usual likelihood of screwing up someone else's life, but for some reason parenting under the influence--which comes with a certainty of screwing up someone else's life--is not held to the same standard. What kind of sense does that make? It makes far less sense to me than the concept of "government governing, safeguarding the well-being of its citizens from a long-term perspective." To me, that makes perfect sense.

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                          • icon
                            Leigh Beadon (profile), 30 Jun 2015 @ 7:18am

                            Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:Re:

                            Oh please. Let's lay off the melodrama a little, shall we?

                            LAY OFF THE MELODRAMA? You've been characterizing DRM as "vigilantes all over dispensing 'justice' as they see fit".

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      • icon
        Leigh Beadon (profile), 29 Jun 2015 @ 8:58am

        Re: Re: Re:Re:

        (I'd also say that by characterizing our stance as pro-DRM based on our failure to view it exactly the same way as you, you are committing precisely the same sin that you accuse the FSF & Richard Stallman of above)

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        • icon
          Mason Wheeler (profile), 29 Jun 2015 @ 9:56am

          Re: Re: Re: Re:Re:

          I didn't characterize your stance as pro-DRM; I said you don't see it as [inherently] bad in the same way as Different AC and I understand it.

          Would it be incorrect for me to characterize your stance as "DRM is a tool that is frequently used in bad ways"?

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          • icon
            Leigh Beadon (profile), 29 Jun 2015 @ 10:24am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:Re:

            Mason, this is utterly absurd. Any reader of Techdirt, including you, knows perfectly well that we hate DRM - we mock it constantly, we applaud companies that forego it, we point out its massive legal and business model issues, we attack and oppose anti-circumvention provisions and other special recognition for it in the law, and we constantly say it's just about the stupidest thing a software maker can saddle their product with.

            You are just mad that we won't join you on your absolutist bandwagon of criminalizing all DRM as though it's a virus. And as such, you really are doing exactly what you accuse the FSF of. What was it you said? "a heretic is someone who believes almost all the same things as you"? Yeah, look at what you're doing right now.

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            • icon
              Mason Wheeler (profile), 29 Jun 2015 @ 10:45am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:Re:

              You are just mad that we won't join you on your absolutist bandwagon of criminalizing all DRM as though it's a virus.

              I'm frustrated, because here you appear to implicitly agree that it's a good idea to criminalize viruses, and also to draw a distinction between malware and DRM, one that's apparently so obvious that you feel no need to explain it. But as I explained above, DRM is functionally identical to a hacking tool.

              Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. If it looks like a malware and quacks like a malware, the burden of proof is on the person claiming that it should not be legally recognized as malware to back up their position.

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      • icon
        John Fenderson (profile), 29 Jun 2015 @ 2:06pm

        Re: Re: Re:Re:

        "instead criminalize it exactly like any other hacking tool"

        Very few hacking tools are criminalized.

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  • identicon
    different ac, 29 Jun 2015 @ 3:32am

    Re: MrTroy

    You make some good points MrTroy. I can see how my relevence in reply is weak from that narrow perspective. I hardly feel moving from the topic of google glass to general device authority is a step that transecends sanity... hell, it seams pretty natural to me, especially given the other comments in the thread about 'google spyware' and TD's strange nievity towards it- which is not so specific.

    You're right about relevence though; I wasn't responding to those comments- so it was unfocused and a bit of a brain fart; poor communication. Suggesting people should be'freaking out more' doesn't nessasarily imply violence; Mass boycott, for example, is much more radical and effective then petty violence and property destruction. I'd considered that 'freaking out more'... and that wouldn't be 'overblown' given the circumstance. I guess that was not clear at all from what I wrote though.

    As to "Tin foil hat" territory. All that's been revealed in the last 5 years... how is that even still a lable anymore? least short of people ranting on about undeniably non-sensical absurd things. Especially in the realm of computer and network security- the 'tin hats' have proven to be right far more then otherwise- the 'parinoid' ones, often wheren't paranoid enough... Anyone whoes been keeping track of things has a far more open mind at this point to what's possible, and whats probable. Pick a snowden leak- and imagine someone telling you it 5 years ago; would you have called them or the idea a 'tin hat'?

    Pointing out when someone says something that seams non-sensical, or farfetched, especially by posting relevent facts and referances, or even just solid logical arguments- that's quite respectable. Lazly labling a person or their belifes without so much as a logical argument basis- that's just pathetic. Prejudice is ugly in all it's forms. I'm sorry you and so many other resort to that childish tactic. If you insist on dismissing someone like that you should really just say F-you- it's more honest.

    Feel free to point out anything I've said which is seams nonsensical or far-fetched to you, and I'm happy to give referances and logical foundation to the topic.

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    • icon
      Ninja (profile), 29 Jun 2015 @ 4:15am

      Re: Re: MrTroy

      There's a reply function, you know? Sometimes we mark the thread to get warns for answers.

      You are deep into the conspiracy insanity so there's little anybody can say that will reach you. Leigh and Troy exposed very valid and conclusive points. Nobody is saying there are no privacy concerns with how Glass was implemented. Still most of the crazies out there were going way overboard. And many times we've seen TD point at some issues with privacy beyond Glass and into Android (the broad "all or nothing" permissions system for instance).

      So you do make good points, some of which were also raised by TD, but they are both out of the context of the article and with unnecessary attacks towards TD and the writers.

      Pick a snowden leak- and imagine someone telling you it 5 years ago; would you have called them or the idea a 'tin hat'?

      Most of us wouldn't after the US approved the Patriot Act. It was only the ugly coming to life. Again, the privacy concerns you expressed were more or less covered and some ARE overblown since any smartphone can do the same. I recorded an interaction once just putting my phone in my pocket and making it record. Glass had a led that warned it was recording, smartphones don't even have such thing. So there are many more privacy issues today that aren't restricted to Glass.

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  • identicon
    different ac, 29 Jun 2015 @ 5:46am

    Re: MrTroy...unfairness.

    "Why...assume the worst/ jump on Leigh for that?"

    Yea, your right, it's unfair. I've not really wanted to jump on anyone.. .but I've probably been rude and ranty.. TD is a great site- I'm lucky to be able read it everyday, I'm much more informed and knowlegeable on many subjects then I would be without them.

    I guess that's a big part of why it bothers me so much when some things they write about seam so off. We tend to hold people we admire to high (sometimes unrealistic) standards.

    I might rant about how off and wrong a TD article on a certain subject is- but at the end of the day, there are several writers here that make on my top 10 list of best journalists- I don't agree with everything they say; but they're well grounded and they write powerful stuff that I feel really helps make the world a better place. I probably could argue with Mike on google till the end of the earth- but his views on copyright/ip/modern business; jeasus, that guys brilliant- I have huge respect for that.

    The idea that people would want to rip a g'glass off someones face and smash it; It's bad behaivor which should be condemed of course- but to me the sentimate behind such action is blatently obvious- it's so obvious that it feels like anyone who wouldn't understand that is woefully ignorant of the scope of what google is and does. -Of what those glasses represent. They don't deserve the dignity of a 'conversation' about privacy implications. Take the same equipment- but solely in the owners control, and not uploading to the cloud- then it might deserve a conversation- but it's still the eqivelent of pointing a steathy camcorder and microphone at everyone you look at- huge disrespectful social fouxpas.

    TD seams to be very consistantly skewed on google news- this has been going on for years, it's really hard to ignore. Google has done allot of good for people, but it doesn't cancel out the bad, just like Gates philanthropy doesn't cancel microsofts ills. None of these companies deserves a free pass; they are all slowly taking bits of control from us- and in googles case doing an insane amount of spying... few are paying attention- even fewer seam to see where this is headed. I really wish this got more attention- I feel like it needs to get allot more attention if anything is going to change.

    These are subjects I'm passionate about, and I tend to rant, and I realise that's counter productive. I'm frustrated, I feel somewhat helpless, I want to help and I don't know how. I want others to see what I see, and understand what I do. I want to hope the future is on the brighter side of what I can imagine- but it seams like in many ways things just keep getting worse and worse.

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    • icon
      Leigh Beadon (profile), 29 Jun 2015 @ 8:28am

      Re: Re: MrTroy...unfairness.

      I don't mean to dismiss some of the points you are raising - they just all seemed to come entirely out of no where and have very little relevance to the point I was making.

      And that, right there, is the issue with those of you who are immersed in this world of low-level device architecture, who are committed and fanatical (in a good way!) advocates of the Stallman approach to free software and technology, and so on:

      While it's not that I think you are wrong, there is a tendency to revert every single discussion back to that low-level issue of yours. And I DO understand that -- it is, after all, low-level, and does indeed sit below the foundation of many other issues. And I can totally see your desire to have a blog that focuses really closely, constantly and almost exclusively on those issues.

      But... that's not the blog Techdirt is. We have a variety of things to cover. And sometimes it feels like you expect that we just stop covering that other stuff at other levels until this one core issue that you consider the most important is dealt with.

      If we write about the social complications around Google Glass, and people's uneducated and somewhat kneejerk opinions about its privacy implications (do you honestly think the people doing the face-ripping were fully educated in all the stuff you know, and trying to send a message to someone else who doesn't 'deserve the dignity' of a conversation -- or were those face-ripping folks themselves pretty clueless about what they were really mad about?), the response from your world is "why talk about that at all? none of that matters until THIS fundamental issue of the device architecture and control is solved."

      But, we still think some of those higher-level conversations -- about privacy as a social construct, about privacy when it comes to cloud storage and security, and more beyond that -- have real value. See, we're not necessarily convinced that the ONLY goal worth fighting for is a world in which ever person has total control over 100% of all their data, because that doesn't really seem possible -- not technologically, and certainly not in a world where people still have access to a wide range of free digital content and services. We're not 100% opposed to the concept of advertising, and hoping to see it abolished the way so many people seem to be -- advertising is a good system that makes a lot of stuff cheap or free.

      There are huge dangers in the way things are going now, yes, but there are also huge opportunities, and I strongly believe that some level of trade-off -- you give me a useful online service that I desire, I let you have some insight into my online habits -- is going to be with us for a long time, and that's not necessarily a bad thing. Done right, it can be a very fair trade.

      And see, that's the issue. I see Google Glass, and I think "wow, that could be dangerous, but also incredibly useful and cool. Let's really have a serious conversation about the role this will play in society, and how Google will be handling data from it". You see it, and you think "that's the worst thing I've ever heard of, it shouldn't exist, and I can totally understand why someone would rip it off another person's face and smash it", even if you condemn that behaviour.

      I stand by my feeling that this is overblown, or at least disruptively absolutist, even while I fully recognize and respect the roots of your feelings about it.

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    • icon
      MrTroy (profile), 29 Jun 2015 @ 5:56pm

      Re: Re: MrTroy...unfairness.

      You're obviously passionate about the subject, and that can be a good thing. I'd suggest taking a few breaths before and after writing such posts, and if you feel your heart rate going up as you're writing it then it's probably wise to edit before hitting submit.

      Reasoned discussion is probably the most useful thing that can be done right now, if you're not someone who's actually releasing hardware yourself. Probably the biggest issue otherwise is the problem of alternatives; yes, Google, Facebook and others (state, corporate, and maybe even criminal) are massively mining every aspect of our behaviour they can get their digital claws on and that may well become THE problem of the 21st century... or encryption might get better, easier to use and more pervasive and we slowly sidestep the problem.

      As to what we can do about it today? If you want to own a smartphone, there's not much choice if you don't want to be tracked... and that quickly disappears to no choice if you don't want to spend time with non-mainstream hardware and/or custom operating systems. Same with home computers, laptops, and even TVs. Thankfully "smart" TVs aren't quite as much of a must-have as the producers would like us to think... though if you want a good quality TV with high-end components, it's very hard and getting harder to avoid the smart options. Which is why I'm currently happy enough with a chinese knock-off brand TV with almost no features but decent picture reproduction - especially since it only cost me a couple of hundred dollars at a charity event :-)

      So, I hope you don't feel as unheard as yesterday, and I look forward to more reasoned discussion.

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  • identicon
    different ac, 29 Jun 2015 @ 11:55pm

    Re:Re: Re: MrTroy...unfairness.

    These have been some great posts to read. Good debate.

    While it's not that I think you are wrong, there is a tendency to revert every single discussion back to that low-level issue of yours. And I DO understand that -- it is, after all, low-level, and does indeed sit below the foundation of many other issues. And I can totally see your desire to have a blog that focuses really closely, constantly and almost exclusively on those issues. But... that's not the blog Techdirt is. We have a variety of things to cover. And sometimes it feels like you expect that we just stop covering that other stuff at other levels until this one core issue that you consider the most important is dealt with.


    When I revert back to that subject- it's because I'm trying to help bring understanding to something that's missing- usually something that would change the whole context of the story. It's not the technical aspects of the low level stuff that matters- it's the highlevel context those details collectively add up to.

    This thread is a bad example, and I'm sorry for that- it takes time for me to see the extent of my bone-headedness sometimes. I was ticked about both those google news stories I mentioned, and I think maybe subconsiously I was looking for a chance to do some google bashing. Or maybe just vent a bit at everythihng... it's a poor excuse but I've been stressed alot lately and I was up all night.

    I have NO desire to keep reminding people of the well documented flaws in architecutre. Nor do I want TD to be focused on this very nich topic. That would positively ruin TD. I don't even like focusing on it myself- it's complicated, it's stressful, it's depressing... unfortuantly the ramifications are very important and relevent to many things, and it's not very well known. There's somewhat of a driving impetus that the word should get out.

    What I really would like is for TD writers to have enough basic background information on the topic to call BS and point to facts that explain why it's BS when confronted with relevent false info. Cellphone security/ecryption/backdoor articals, stingray articals, that odd 'backdoors are impossible' artical- some of those are so full of misinformation, and off base discussion, that they're painful to read. Even one tiny fact- like that baseband can remotely scrape the ram- and you might get an idea how those articals and the comments seam to me. Save for my comments of course- in which I probably come of as some sort of parnoid lunatic- or something thats' not doing my cause any good in any case- due to my poor communication and social skills.

    We also love guest-post submissions. If someone with deep technical knowledge about bootloaders and privacy issues deep within device architecture wanted to write a good, accessible post helping our readers better understand those issues and what they can be doing about them, that'd be great! We'd love that.


    I'm slightly tempted to try, I enjoy writing, but I honestly don't think my writing abiltiy, accessability, or relevent depth of knowlege is quite up to snuff for that. I have someone in mind who's more far more knowledgable and expirienced I may ask- not really sure how he writes though.

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    • icon
      Leigh Beadon (profile), 30 Jun 2015 @ 7:33am

      Re: Re:Re: Re: MrTroy...unfairness.

      Agreed, good discussion.

      Honestly I don't doubt there are areas where we are lacking certain bits of knowledge -- we're a small team covering a lot of topics, and we're also part of a broader community of people covering this stuff, and count on others to bring some of their expertise to the table too.

      On my end, the frustration is when these things get boiled down into what I consider unfair blanket statements, like the idea that we are "tonedeaf about privacy concerns" or Mason's assertion that we "don't think DRM is bad" (the latter is clearly laughable to anyone who reads Techdirt). But once you move past that, there's plenty of good conversation to be had.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    different ac, 30 Jun 2015 @ 12:07am

    Re: Mason- Stallman/ general DRM

    Mason, you make some really well thought out points on FSF and Stallman, and I'm sure you're right about the alienation effect. The Marx comment sent a shiver down my spine- you hit a certain subtle nail on the head which I hadn't thought of in many years; many of Marxs ideas were fairly palitable to me, until you get to the implementation- at which point I recall feeling a certain awkwardness for granting the ideas such consideration/priority- it does literally hurt the foundational ideas through association. I can't as easily draw a parallell with the gpl- but that's a powerful metaphore and it really gives me something to think about.

    I recently read through some old gpl vs. bsd debates, found them fastenating. The bsd guys make a convincing argument that their's is infact the "more free" license while the GPL seams to be more about the common good over (and at the expense of) individual developer freedom and flexability. It's somewhat a matter of perspective- who's freedom and in what sense. I prefer the gpl, even if it is mostly a political statement; and though I agree it's finatical in it's absolutes- I wonder, is that what's needed at this point? It seams to level the playing field; and if one is concerned with monopolies and the concentration of power, that would seam to be a very useful and important thing. I see long term community health in gpl; but far more impetus for development and mutual gain with bsd. I can understand why many developers prefer bsd or other licenses. Now you've got me wondering how blind I am to gpl implementation though, and how awkward I might feel where I more knowlegable- I love a good metaphore. Do you really feel that GPL is so simalar to comunisim that original ideas can't be capitalised?


    On DRM:

    You're right Mason- I think I am mostly in agreement with you on DRM- it is always coercively delivered at best, and it's functionally equivelent to malware or sometimes even a backdoor. It hinders inovation, protects outmoded business models and inferior products which would otherwise be unviable, It infringes on the tangible rights of many, for the benifit of the few.

    It's probably the most anarchist belife in my personal philosophy (and please trust that I'm a long way from being any sort of anarchist)- but I see no way around it. As a matter of human rights, DRM It should be abolished absolutely, along with closed source software and firmware. Propietary opensource is ok by me so long as all features are user intended disclosed and documented.

    Computer's are the greatest invention mankind has every created- I see no reason a person shouldn't be in full control of a computer they own, and that right should be protected by the government. Not to imply any sort of imunity from local warrented search/sezuire. Just that software should do what the user asks and expects and nothing more/less.... and I want a golden sasquach in a cowboy hat, riding a unicorn. ;) ...ehh...as long as I'm dreaming.

    IMO eliminating the anti-circumvention clause just leaves the issue, and the cat and mouse game of breaking drm. It's also very likely that DRM interests would panic, step up their game significantly, and things would quickly become worse then ever. I expect there would be serious consequences to this- the way drm evolves resilence from here is by getting under the user accessable computing reasorces. -This stuff maybe ready to go already. *oh god, here he goes again.... You know where I'm going... I'll just stop here.

    There was an interesting point raised by Leigh about DRM legality of function depending on use/intent- which brings to mind thought crimes vs cleaver loopholes and protectionist regulitory capture... various clustfuck grey areas of loose semantic definition, law and business...rambling, sorry.

    Got me thinking about the recent attempt to crudly ban "hacking tools" -something which was so vaugely worded as to likely include pen-test tools such as metasploit and fuzzers used for testing and improving security.

    Seams to me like DRM is somewhat like this in that it can take many forms and serve many functions, some of them useful and desirable. ea: user encryption, and authentication- not usually thought of as DRM but it can have the same sort of implementation. Any law would have to be very well defined as a user intent and control centric concept to be enforced; I think Leigh might have a point here, I can imagine that being difficult and problematic to pin down language and eliminate the potential for abuse via contract law and such.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Leigh Beadon (profile), 30 Jun 2015 @ 7:41am

      Re: Re: Mason- Stallman/ general DRM

      IMO eliminating the anti-circumvention clause just leaves the issue, and the cat and mouse game of breaking drm.

      Would it though? I mean, there's already an arms race, and even with anti-circumvention protections, the breakers beat the makers every single time. The ONLY thing that keeps some kind of a lid on it is the fact that people need to be careful about distributing DRM-breaking tools, and so those get relegated to pirate sites and other backwaters that scare off average computer users. Remove that one limitation and I don't see how DRM-makers would stand a chance...

      I think Leigh might have a point here, I can imagine that being difficult and problematic to pin down language and eliminate the potential for abuse via contract law and such.

      I do think this is something really big that you and Mason aren't fully considering. Law is not great at technology, in general. Either it's very specific, at which point it works well for a short period of time but then rapidly becomes obsolete or nonsensical or begins to apply to new things that weren't intended, OR it's broad and general in an attempt to be future-proof, and ends up having all sorts of immediate unintended consequences.

      Some of your notions -- ban DRM! ban closed-source software! ban all that bullshit! -- are admittedly appealing in an anarchist-utopia sort of way. But I'm not at all confident that writing laws to accomplish such things is simply a legal-wording challenge to be overcome — I think it may be an insurmountable task.

      Plus, I really do like to focus on things that can be done immediately. Yes, we probably do need some idealists out there pushing for the banning of all DRM - but if we want to see any actual near-term change on that front, what we really need are pragmatists out there fighting against ant-circumvention provisions, because that's still a very meaningful change that would strike a huge blow to DRM, and it's one that's actually legislatively realistic.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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