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  • Oct 5th, 2015 @ 1:16pm

    Insightful article indeed

    As I wrote on TeleRead, it really is an interesting article. One of the great parts is the way that it uses the traditional "smell of books" argument not as an end in and of itself, but as a launching point for discussing why e-books are still limited to being paper books under glass.

  • Oct 5th, 2015 @ 1:10pm


    It's a problem that doesn't exist for people who are technogeeky enough to figure out how to do it. Which is, uh, hardly anybody at all, relatively speaking.

    The whole reason Amazon got to the top in the first place was that it made buying e-books completely idiot-proof, in a way that somehow none of its competitors has ever managed to approach. You don't have to fiddle about with downloading files and copying them from place to place. You just tap a "buy it now" button and thirty seconds later, you're reading. The question of DRM doesn't even enter the equation. The question of sideloading doesn't even enter the equation—because the idea of sideloading, or indeed, even the idea of emailing it to their Kindle, is completely beyond most of the people who use the Kindle.

    Baen had a great setup on their Webscription website where people could punch in their Kindle's email address and click a button to have it email the DRM-free Baen e-books they bought right into their Kindle—but even that was too hard for people. They kept asking Baen "why aren't your e-books on Kindle?" until Baen finally waved the white flag and changed the way its entire e-book store operated for the sake of being able to put their e-books in the Kindle store.

    Heck, that's also why The Martian is a Ridley Scott movie that earned $55 million opening weekend, instead of still being free Internet fiction Andy Weir wrote as a hobby for egoboo from his fans. Some of those fans wanted to be able to load the e-book of it onto their Kindle, but they were too lazy to figure out how to sideload—so they asked Weir to put it on Amazon where he had to charge at least 99 cents for it. These people preferred to pay 99 cents than to plug their Kindle into their computer and drag and drop a file over. So he did, and then enough people bought it that it hit the bestseller list, traditional publishers took notice, and the rest was history.

    So, yay for you, you know how to crack DRM and back up your e-books. The vast majority of Kindle owners don't even know how to copy a file from their computer to their Kindle—nor do they want to. All that "techie stuff" just goes right over their heads.

  • Sep 25th, 2015 @ 2:20pm

    Compare and contrast: Chroma Squad

    Another Kickstarter game based (loosely) on an established property, Chroma Squad got a nastygram from Power Rangers owners Saban…but they were able to settle the matter and proceed in exchange for simply adding an "Inspired by Saban's Power Rangers" to the game's title screen. It's available in Steam right now.

    It's funny to think of Saban having more brand savvy than Hasbro, but that's just how it works sometime.

  • Sep 11th, 2015 @ 4:31am

    Fake news is an epidemic

    It's gotten to be so you simply can't believe any story that's "too good to be true," because there are just so many fake news sites out there. Some of them pretend to be "satire," but others exist solely to troll the unwary. Always pay attention to the domain name of the news site, and if you don't recognize it, google it. ALWAYS.

    Remember, every day is April Fool's Day on the Internet. It should remind us not to be so credulous.

  • Aug 28th, 2015 @ 10:55pm

    (untitled comment)

    Personally, I prefer Qdoba. Even if they did kind of go the lame-ass route of jacking the price on all their burritos last year in order to be able to claim that guacamole, once a paid-extra add-on, is now "free for all."

  • Jul 25th, 2015 @ 1:07am

    Well, that explains things…

    This does shed new light on why the Wall Street Journal was so eager to attack Judge Cote and anti-trust monitor Bromwich during the Apple anti-trust trial…and perhaps why Apple's lawyers never bothered bringing the accusations up in court during the trial; they knew there was no actual substance behind it.

  • Jul 6th, 2015 @ 5:19pm

    This is what happens when a fan award gets respectable

    It's worth noting that these really aren't the "Gen Con" EN World RPG awards except for the fact that EN World announces the awards at Gen Con. They're not officially part of Gen Con in the sense that Gen Con has any sponsorship or control over them. They're just given out at the convention because that's where everybody is.

    They started out as just an unofficial fannish way for the EN World blog to award prizes to games it personally thought were cool. They were fan awards, that was that. More recently, they got some corporate sponsorship and people started taking notice of them; they're sort of gradually acquiring some respectability just from the fact they've been put on at this big ceremony for so long.

    If this Mass Effect thing had happened a few years ago, I guarantee you nobody would even have noticed. The whole thing was basically just Mappin wanting his fellow RPG geeks to give him some kudos for how kewl his fan game was. He never stopped to think that so many more eyes are on the awards now that kind of thing just isn't going to fly anymore.

  • Mar 22nd, 2015 @ 3:36pm

    Selfie stick = modern-day mace

    You know, in medieval times, a long stick with a weight on the end was called a "mace" and swung around to whap your enemies with. The angular momentum imparted by the length of the stick means the weight on the end can get up some pretty good speed and do some serious damage.

    Ban such a thing in venues where lots of people might get crowded together and there's some serious potential for doing harm by accident? Uh, yeah, let's do that.

  • Dec 19th, 2014 @ 7:02pm

    Enough stories about these fake lobsters...

    John Hodgman explained that these crustaceans are actually johnny-come-latelies, and the original form of the lobster was a furry creature more like a sea otter. Jonathan Coulton wrote a song about it.

  • Dec 15th, 2014 @ 8:06am

    "Passwords" folder

    Just to note, it's more likely that the "Passwords" folder was created by the hackers as a handy place to put all the various passwords files they found in various locations as they rifled through the stuff to create the information dump they uploaded.

  • Dec 2nd, 2014 @ 1:06pm

    Re: Re: We don't need to get into mindset

    True enough, but those twelve ordinary "reasonable" people on the jury unanimously determined that, given the specific circumstances, they found Elonis's postings to be a credible threat. And they were made fully aware of the context of the thing, including hearing Elonis's "it was just expressive rap lyrics" argument. If those twelve people weren't convinced, I'm not either.

    Remember, the SCOTUS case isn't necessarily over whether he's guilty in that context, it's over whether the criteria used to find him guilty should be relaxed because he claims it was written for no other reason than to be expressive rap music, and expressive rap music should be protected.

    I don't believe anyone who posts threatening statements that specifically refer to and terrorize another person should get a free pass just because he claims "artistic merit." There are certain standards we hold to in society, and those include not openly threatening other people. It doesn't matter if you're "serious" or not; the crime is inherent to the threat itself. Just like it's illegal to point a gun at someone, even if you don't plan to shoot them and even if the gun isn't even loaded.

  • Dec 2nd, 2014 @ 10:54am


    It's not a matter of him handling it by writing a song about it. He could have written all the threatening songs he wanted about it, if he wrote them down in a little notebook and kept them to himself, for example.

    It's a matter of him posting that song to his Facebook. The right to free speech is not a right to menace other people. Saying "My ex-wife is a (b-word)" is one thing. But you don't get to say you'd like to kill her in a way calculated to make her fearful that you really plan to, even if you do it in rhyme. (You can't tell me that guy wasn't trying to be clever and leave himself an "out" for in case he got arrested for threatening her. "No, no, look, it rhymes, see? It's just a rap! There's nothing threatening about a rap!")

    The current state of the law is that we have twelve ordinary, average people on a jury, who look at the statements including their context, and judge from that whether they think they actually constitute a credible threat. And they have to be unanimous about it. That's not exactly a low bar. It's hard enough for a couple of people to agree about where to go to dinner, let alone twelve to agree on a decision with severe consequences for a man's life where there's any ambiguity about it.

    This is the system we have now. It's a good system. I'd like to keep it. Free speech doesn't mean the right to say absolutely anything you want, including things harmful to other people.

  • Dec 2nd, 2014 @ 10:20am

    We don't need to get into mindset

    The way that the current test for threatening speech works is that 12 jurors perform the "reasonable person" test. Would they, as reasonable people, find the lyrics threatening in that context? Furthermore, they have to find them so unanimously; if there's any doubt, they have to acquit. This doesn't get into the mindset of the perpetrator or the victim. It doesn't require the court or the jury to try to be mind-readers, and doesn't give a free pass to anyone who makes a statement that a reasonable person would assume to be a credible threat if they say afterward, "Oh, I didn't mean it."

    You can't tell me that Elonis wasn't trying to make a cute end-run around the law. "I want to throw a scare into this woman because she made me feel bad, but I want to leave myself an 'out' so I can claim I wasn't actually serious if I get arrested. I know, I'll make it look like a rap and claim I'm just 'expressing myself'!"

    We really don't need to put juries in the position of trying to read minds. What we've got now is a great balance between free speech and rule of law. There's nothing magical about Facebook that means anything people post there can't be considered credibly threatening, whether it rhymes or not.

  • Dec 1st, 2014 @ 12:40pm

    Re: Re: Another way Europe thinks it can legislate the global Internet...

    It's specifically being removed as of the start of next year. That's the problem.

  • Dec 1st, 2014 @ 6:06am

    Another way Europe thinks it can legislate the global Internet...

    Have you heard about the new VAT MOSS regs, which state that everyone who sells to an EU consumer, even if they're located outside the EU, is required to collect and remit the proper VAT from the consumers, as well as hold onto two non-contradictory sources of information concerning customer location for each order, for ten years? What's more, in order to do that and comply with EU privacy regs, their business servers have to be located in the EU.

    Ridiculous. And unenforceable, unless the operator of such a business should decide to visit the EU somewhere down the road.

  • Oct 11th, 2014 @ 9:55am

    Re: Moxie

    Yeah, and it's the source of the expression, "You got moxie" so often heard in hard-boiled detective and gangster dramas.

    Tastes kind of like a less-sweet Doctor Pepper.

  • Aug 19th, 2014 @ 1:22pm

    Re: Re: It's not ABOUT the Onion, people

    As many dogs and people as they've been killing lately? It looked all too plausible. Even I thought it was real until I clicked through to the editor's defense.

  • Aug 19th, 2014 @ 1:06pm

    It's not ABOUT the Onion, people

    Why does everyone fall into assuming that Facebook thinks most users are too stupid to discern that an Onion article is satire?

    That's not what it's about.

    In the last year or so, a new brand of "satire" site (I quotate "satire" because it's not clear to me that they really deserve to be in that category) has sprung up that specializes in writing outrageous stories that are just plausible enough to be believable.

    They give themselves names that aren't obviously satirical ("National Report," I'm looking at you), and do pretty much everything they can to hide the fact that they're satire. As nearly as anyone not intimately familiar with the site can tell, they're real news.

    Their whole purpose is trolling people to get outraged and send their real-looking fake news stories viral, so they can make a fortune on ad revenue. (Say what you will about "You won't believe what happened next!" clickbait sites like Buzzfeed, at least they aren't trying to con their readership.)

    Most recently, we saw this in a National Report fake story about a cop who got in an argument with a breastfeeding woman and ended up killing her baby. When people realized it was fake and got upset, the paper's editor was all, "Hey, don't hate on us, hate on the real cops who are nasty enough that you found this ridiculous story believable in the first place."

    It would be more convincing if it weren't that his site and others like it built their whole business model on tricking and outraging people.

    This kind of thing is why Facebook users actually asked Facebook to make it easier to distinguish satire articles. And why, thus, Facebook is doing it.

    And thank goodness they are, at last. If I don't ever have to deal with another manufactured-outrage fake news story in my friend feed, it will be too soon.

  • May 29th, 2014 @ 6:13am

    Don't blame Amazon for DRM

    By putting DRM on its digital productsebooks and audio booksAmazon gets the legal backing of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act's anti-circumvention restrictions on its products. This isn't for the advancement of public policy goals, either; Amazon gets to create the private law it wants to be enforced. Thanks to DRM, Kindle users are no longer free to take their business elsewhereif you want a Kindle book, you must purchase it from Amazon.

    Point of order here: Amazon does not require publishers to put DRM on their e-books. Tor hasn't for two years, Cory Doctorow and Baen never have, and plenty of self-publishers don't. It's a choice individual publishers make for themselves, and so far most of the Big Five have chose to use it.

    If the publishers are looking for someone to blame for Amazon's DRM platform lock-in, they need to look in a mirror.

  • May 28th, 2014 @ 6:18pm

    Under a bus?

    Curious how Amazon is throwing customers under a bus here. If they gave in to Hachette, it would probably end up resulting in higher prices as agency pricing went into effect again. I suspect most customers would prefer a little pain now for a lot less later.

    It's also worth noting that Amazon made its announcement last night not in the form of a press release, but on its forum. The subtext is that Amazon is speaking directly to its customers about what's going on, rather than speaking over their heads to the press. They even apologized for the inconvenience and suggested how people can order the books under dispute if they want them in a timely manner.

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