stories filed under: "tinkering"
by Mike Masnick
Tue, Jan 25th 2011 11:18am
One of the interesting questions we've been looking at for years is whether or not a business is an enabler or a gatekeeper. Being in the gatekeeper business can work for a period of time, but it's often difficult to sustain. Apple is an interesting company in that it certainly has elements of both, enabling in some areas, but being a very strict gatekeeper in other areas. As if to reinforce this point, Apple is apparently changing the screws on iPhones to make them much harder to open. Apparently, it's come up with a "pentalobe" design:
Not only that, but if you bring in your iPhone for repairs, Apple will replace the old screws with these new pentalobe screws to keep you from... well... screwing around. The whole thing seems really incredibly pointless. First of all, those who really want to open the phones will figure out ways to do so. I would guess that it won't take long for tools that work on such screws to hit the market. All this really does is frustrate iPhone owners by making life difficult for them. What possible good does it serve to have a non-standard screw system?
by Mike Masnick
Tue, Nov 3rd 2009 8:51am
from the freedom-to-tinker? dept
What a world we live in: if you tinker too much with the electronic equipment you buy, you might get charged with a crime. That seems to be what happened to a guy in Oregon who helps mod cable modems. Now, clearly, some people can and do use modded cable modems to access cable service that they haven't paid for, but there are plenty of legitimate reasons to hack your own hardware or to buy modded hardware. Just like unlocking a mobile phone should be perfectly legal, the same is true of unlocking a legally purchased cable modem. As the article linked above explains, most of the indictment seems to focus on the actions of others in this guy's forums, which should lead to an easy Section 230 dismissal (as he shouldn't be responsible for their actions). The only "questionable" issue for the guy is a request for certain information that could potentially have been used to gain unauthorized access -- but that's not evidence that he actually did so. All in all, this seems like an attempt to crack down on anyone interfering with artificial locks put on legally purchased hardware by the cable companies. And, if that's the case, why is the FBI involved at all? Shouldn't this just be a civil issue involving the cable companies?
by Mike Masnick
Mon, Mar 31st 2008 12:55am
from the how-dare-you-help-people! dept
It appears that Creative Labs is the latest company to shoot itself in the foot over "intellectual property" issues. Apparently, many users have been upset that Creative has failed to support certain systems, and a user in the Creative Labs' forums started releasing drivers to make things actually work or work better. Creative struck back and has removed the various threads in their forums discussing these drivers (thanks to Joe for sending in the link). Basically, this user, Daniel_K was making Creative products work better, and Creative has forced him to stop, claiming that it's violating their intellectual property rights. From a legal standpoint, Creative is probably absolutely right. But from a business perspective, the move seems suicidal. Just read a few of the comments in the long thread following the announcement from Creative. Many people were buying Creative products because of Daniel's mods, and will now look elsewhere. This seems like yet another case of IP laws being used to hold back innovation, rather than encourage it.