February 24, 2015

YouTube's broken copyright system (part 238942 of ∞) (, , )

by fluffy at 9:01 AM

So in the past I've talked about how broken the copyright system is from the perspective of someone whose content gets falsely-flagged. But there's also problems with it from the perspective of a legitimate rights holder!

What I want, as an independent musician who believes in a free exchange of ideas, is a copyright flagging system that:

  • Notifies me that my work is being used
  • Gives me a reasonable cut of any ad revenue already being applied to the work
  • Ensures that my work is being attributed in a way that people can buy my source material if they so choose

What YouTube's ContentID system provides:

  • Tells the user that they are violating my copyright
  • Gives them the option to either remove my music from their video entirely, or add new ads that go solely to paying me
  • Notifies me that my work is being used
  • Ensures that my work is being attributed and directs people to the Google Play store

There are a few big problems with ContentID as it's implemented:

  • It's an all-or-nothing traditional-copyright-based system (no allowance for Creative Commons being used in the way it's intended)
  • It assumes a totalitarian grip on materials (because that's what the RIAA members wanted, and Google doesn't give a crap about indies)
  • The verbiage provided to the content user implies that they did something wrong and that they have broken the law and now must pay penance to the holy content creator
  • Content creators can either enroll their stuff in ContentID (and get all the above) or they can have it not enrolled, meaning that content users will either get spurious matches on other things or can get away with not actually following the CC license in the first place

What would be awesome is if YouTube were to add a ContentID mechanism that were Creative Commons-friendly. Enforce compliance with the CC license, and give a cut of existing revenue to the content source. But asking for such a thing is still like pissing into the wind.

January 13, 2015

Blackhat (2015) ()

by fluffy at 9:37 PM

Okay, remember Hackers?

Take that, remove all the campy fun, add a way-too-serious yet nonsensical and convoluted plot, a monotonous film score, and replace the ridiculous (but fun) hacking stuff with more-or-less accurate (but boring and sterile) stuff.

Then you'll probably have something that resembles Blackhat.

September 7, 2014

Let's build a social network! (, , )

by fluffy at 4:43 PM

Lately I've been on a huge RSS-evangelism kick. I don't want to see it die out. It's an open standard that was built to enable the free sharing of ideas on the web in a transparent, simple, free manner, without any advertisers dictating what you could or should see.

Unfortunately, advertisers are what fund the systems that make it easy to get and share online, and as a result, the various getting-online services have a vested interest in keeping people captive within those networks; the last thing they want is to make it easy for people to import or export feeds that can be used on other systems.

The thing is, there is a totally-open distributed social network out there already, hiding in the aether; you just need to find it. Here's my guide to connecting to it without too much work. I'll try to keep things simple, but feel free to make suggestions for making it even simpler!

April 27, 2013

Digital fulfillment options (, , , )

by fluffy at 5:46 PM

Right now there is a renaissance in digital goods fulfillment options, with plenty of startups hoping to get the long-tail microtransaction stuff going in their favor. Some of them are oriented more towards music, while others are oriented more towards eBooks or other sorts of things. Here's a quick comparison of a few of them (Bandcamp, CDBaby, Gumroad, and Simple Goods) for those who might be interested in such a thing.

January 21, 2013

An open letter to Frederator Studios (, )

by fluffy at 10:37 PM

I sent this letter to Fred Siebert and Pen Ward last night. I haven't gotten a response yet, but I will keep people updated if I do.

I have two questions, one of which I'm sure you've gotten a lot and one of which I'm not so sure but it wouldn't surprise me if you have:

1) Will Adventure Time ever be coming out on Blu-Ray?

2) Given the fact that the television distributors (such as Comcast) are terrible in general and the various Internet TV services (iTunes, Amazon, etc.) aren't really that much better when it comes to providing a decent selection of content at a fair cost in a way that actually supports the creators, my means of acquiring Adventure Time while still supporting it has been to buy a season pass of the SD version from Amazon while still continuing to torrent the HD versions, because in that way I have a much better viewing experience with less hassle, and I'm still sending some money you guys' way (without incurring the added infrastructure costs that supposedly justify the outrageous per-episode price of the HD versions). However, I suspect that most of that money is still going to the distributors of the show who, despite helping it to be seen, have absolutely nothing to do with the creation of it and are really only the fossilized relics that are leftover from a bygone era. So, given that, can I just send you guys some money to directly thank you for making such an amazing show and, conscience clear, continue to receive the show via bittorrent?

It really seems like a win-win for everyone that matters in this equation.

September 15, 2012

What happened to Food Network? (, )

by fluffy at 8:32 PM

I used to love watching Food Network, because there were a bunch of cooking shows in which you could learn techniques and how to use ingredients and just plain simple/fast/easy/whatever recipes. Then I didn't have cable for a while, and now I have it again (provided by the temporary apartment I'm in), and good golly it's changed a lot.

Now it's nothing but terrible reality shows where cooks have to make food out of ridiculous ingredients, reality shows where failing restaurants are being refurbished on a shoestring budget, reality shows where failing restaurants' clueless owners are shown how terrible their employees are, and gross food-related travel shows where we get to see all the terrible bad-for-you food that you can buy from truck stops and deep-fryer-heavy diners and whatever. Oh, and there's still Iron Chef America which is at least halfway decent.

But still. Whatever happened to Food Networks shows being about food? Did they just decide that nobody actually cares about cooking, or did all of their actual cooks get sick of things and quit?

From what I can find online, all of their classic cooking shows are still available on the Cooking channel, which is a premium-rate channel (i.e. you're going to pay $100/month for the privilege of watching it).

Oh well. The cooking shows on PBS have always been way better, anyway.

September 9, 2012

More eyerolling ()

by fluffy at 7:43 PM

I don't think there's any point in going into the individual things about "Dinosaurs on a Spaceship" (Doctor Who) that bug me, because either you were also bugged by them or you thought it was a pretty good episode.

I just want to mention, though, that one thing that the classic series did really well was to keep the universe feeling very big by making the individual stories stay pretty small. Even the larger arcs still kept the stories small without having this endless fractal sprawl-upon-sprawl of pulling in dozens of timeframes and callbacks to previous episodes and sprawly arcs.

September 2, 2012

Asylum of the Daleks ()

by fluffy at 12:10 PM

Below the cut to avoid spoilering people.

June 4, 2012

My predictions for Legend of Korra ()

by fluffy at 4:00 PM

Behind a cut, so as to not spoil it for people who haven't been keeping up.

September 14, 2011

Blu-Ray: Incredibly consumer-hostile (, , )

by fluffy at 7:28 PM

After going disc-only on Netflix I decided to go ahead and turn Blu-Ray discs back on, since a significant portion of my queue is actually in that format now. I have very quickly learned to loathe Blu-Ray's advanced "features," which are of course being used for nothing but advertising now.

For example, in Where the Wild Things Are, there are about 15 minutes of unskippable, un-fast-forwardable trailers for other movies. Any attempts at getting out of those and into the movie are met with the trailers being completely restarted from the beginning. (This may have also been because it was the "rental edition" of the movie, which had no extra features.)

Next, The Blues Brothers opens up directly to the main menu — which doesn't load until it downloads a bunch of content from BD Live. All ads, of course. Until that happens, you're stuck with a repeating montage of the key scenes from the film. At least on my BD player it's possible to get past this by pressing "disc skip," but then as soon as the BD Live content finishes loading, it boots you back into the main menu. Absolutely irritating, and completely pointless. The BD Live content it was waiting for wasn't even anything related to the movie — it was all banner ads for other things coming out on Blu-Ray.

As always, piracy is the more consumer-friendly option.

July 18, 2011

S.978 (, , )

by fluffy at 8:53 AM

The MPAA and RIAA are at it again. Here is the letter I am sending via that page's form:

I am a constituent and I urge you to reject S. 978, "A bill to amend the criminal penalty provision for criminal infringement of a copyright".

This bill is overly-broad and only serves to further cater to the monopolistic practices of the big media cartels who operate as part of the RIAA and MPAA. It further erodes the rights of artists set forth under the fair use doctrine, and provides a chilling effect on free expression and active participation in common culture. It does not protect the interests of the RIAA or MPAA, and will only be used to criminalize everyday activities.

Further, given that RIAA members have copyrights on specific renditions of silence and other fundamental sounds, as well as songs containing every word known to every language, it is likely that they could use this to stifle creative free expression even from those who aren't infringing on the bill, simply because any new song written by a non-member could be shown to be infringing on SOME property. Or are the courts capable of determining whether the two-second silent pause in any random YouTube video originated from track 65 of Blur's "Modern Life is Rubbish?" Could any use of the word "bird" be construed as infringing on the composition rights to about half of the early Beatles catalog?

I urge you to reconsider this bill, and all others like it.

February 19, 2011

The lyrics to the "Spliced!" theme song ()

by fluffy at 1:28 AM

For some reason a lot of people care deeply about what the actual lyrics are to the theme song of Spliced!, especially a couple of words which are rattled off fairly quickly and seem like they might be out-of-place in a kids' show (but of course, Spliced isn't a kids' show).

On a tiny little island
In the ocean called Pacific
There's a mixed-up group of creatures
Who are really quite horrific
Stitched together with whatever crap was
Found or could be grabbed,
Re-invented in the bowels of a lab.

Spliced! They have all been spliced;
Half baked and diced
And regurgitated
By some crazy doctor (Spliced!)
Who went vamoose
And now you'll pay the price; They have all:

Bits of human, chunks of lab mouse
Swap the hind legs for an udder
Splice a parakeet with donkey feet
And season it with butter.

It's no ordinary island, do we have to say it twice,
It's no ordinary island 'cause they're spliced, spliced, spliced!

December 14, 2010

Fund a Net Neutrality PSA (, )

by fluffy at 9:02 AM
My friend Mark is working on an animated PSA for Net Neutrality, and he's trying to raise $3000 to finish it. What I've seen so far is pretty good, and right now we need to get the message out more than ever. Please consider sending some funds his way!

November 10, 2010

Hulu Plus: second chance ()

by fluffy at 8:09 PM
Since Hulu Plus has finally publicly launched, and is also available on my new TV, and my TV came with a free two-month promotional credit for it, I figured I'd give it another try.

November 5, 2010

Spliced!: The best cartoon you've never heard of ()

by fluffy at 8:01 AM
From the studio that brought you Beetlejuice and Eek! The Cat is another wonderfully funny and subversive cartoon, Spliced!. It's so subversive that pretty much nobody has heard of it.

October 15, 2010

Why home 3D movies are worse than in the theater (, )

by fluffy at 7:51 PM
Today I got the promotional Blu-Ray discs that came free (after registration) with my new TV. So far I'm just watching the promo disc, with clips from a bunch of movies. The various window violations are just as bad in the home as in the theater (only it's a bit worse due to the window being smaller), but then as I have also discovered, it's a bit counterintuitive to disable MotionFlow (240Hz motion interpolation) on my TV when there's a 3D signal, at least not when it's being played through my Blu-Ray player. As a result, animation looks like a cheap video game cut scene, and live action looks like a crappy soap opera.

I absolutely hate MotionFlow, and always turn it off whenever I can. Since it also increases lag, "game mode" generally disables it, so it might not be so bad if I play it through my PS3 — although the PS3 is also significantly louder than the dedicated Blu-Ray player. It merits further experimentation, at least.

Fortunately, there is a way to turn it off: put the system into "theater" mode, and then the sickeningly-smooth 240Hz drops down to the 24Hz that it should be. Unfortunately, that also does a lot of other things to the image, like making it a bit darker (I guess you're expected to have your lights off) and so on, and also screws with the sound (putting it into some sort of "cinema audio" mode). BUT: game mode also turns off MotionFlow (to decrease input lag) and also keeps the nice wide image dynamic range.

It's a bit annoying how I seem to have to fiddle with things more to undo all the "OMG WOW" features that are turned on by default though. Oh man I wish I had a lawn to tell people to get off of right about now.

October 12, 2010

Blu-Ray annoyance (, )

by fluffy at 8:20 AM
Why is it that when I watch a Blu-Ray disc on my Blu-Ray player, pretty much every single one starts out with an unskippable 10-minute sales pitch for how awesome Blu-Ray is? It's especially ludicrous when it's from a Sony Pictures film (for example, Moon) where I am watching it on a Sony Blu-Ray player on a brand-new Sony Bravia 3D TV. They can't get any more money from me on this!

I just want to be able to press "menu" and get right to the movie's menu, or better yet, just go straight to the movie, since it's not like Blu-Ray movies need any configuration most of the time (since it's not like the bad old days of DVD where the player didn't know what audio format to use or whatever, and some things were set up with the assumption that peoples' players didn't know how to downconvert 5.1 to 2.0 or whatever).

This is one of those things where it's gotten worse as the studios have gotten more format-savvy, and of course there's a visual aid. (Except it's even more ludicrous than that because the Blu-Ray ad is telling us how much better Blu-Ray is than DVD, which is why I have it on Blu-Ray already.)

October 5, 2010

Immersion (, , )

by fluffy at 8:21 AM
So for some reason I decided to spend a lot of money on another toy.

September 23, 2010

Shows I have now stopped watching ()

by fluffy at 11:16 PM
Shows I have now stopped watching:
  • The Big Bang Theory
  • Bones
  • Hell's Kitchen (and all the other Gordon Ramsay folderol)
Shows I will not be starting to watch:
  • Shit My Dad Says
Shows I will continue to watch, despite expecting massive disappointment:
  • House

August 3, 2010

On universal translation (, , )

by fluffy at 7:42 PM
In science fiction series where there's some sort of universal translation thing which uses some ill-defined 'receiving the intent' sort of thing (Farscape, Star Trek, etc.), it seems likely that all civilizations would eventually lose their own cohesive languages. After all, if all children could just understand and be understood implicitly in whatever random babbling they come up with, there's no reason for them to adjust and learn their own civilization's common language, right?

So really, when there's a scene from the perspective of someone who is without the translation conceit, it seems like everyone should just sound like squealing, growling, baby babble, and the like.

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