The timing on this couldn't be much better - I'm in the process of drafting up my open letter to the music industry, but I thought I'd mention this story in the meantime - I think it pretty much sums up everything bad about DRM...

[Microsoft] has arbitrarily decided that all the music you bought from it is now worthless because it can't be bothered to live up to its end of the bargain. It goes something like this, MS came up with a DRM infection and attached it to its music downloads. When the Zune came out, it decided it wanted a bigger piece of the pie, so it cut out all its partners.

The new toy, the Zune has a completely different DRM infection making any of the things you bought from Microsoft saddled by the old way incompatible with the new way. All the partners that made devices compatible with the old way, and all of the people who bought infected music, well, MS has your money, so you're dumped.

This was about a year and a half ago. Today, MS is saying that come August 31, a week or four shy of the two-year anniversary of the night of long knives, you will not be able to re-authorise your music. That means that the music is yours to keep. On one PC. As long as it doesn't crash. Or you don't update your OS. Or something doesn't just decide to stop the music playing. If you do any of these things, you just lost your music permanently.

Basically, MS is stealing from you. It has your money, but you can't have access the services you bought any more. So they are stopping, and legally, you are screwed. Microsoft has got your money though.

If you were a subscriber to MSN Music, you will have recently found yourself out in the cold when Microsoft decided to arbitrarily turn off their DRM authentication servers, leaving all your music you'd legally paid for in (effectively) stasis. Walmart did this with their video rental service last year, Microsoft this year - I'm glad that it's a discernable move away from DRM, but still... Support your legacy customers, or are you condoning your customers to break the law and strip the DRM from their tracks so they can achieve the same level of functionality as they enjoyed prior to this?

The full article, in all its gory detail, can be found on The Inquirer.

Update, 31/08/2008: you can now download a PDF of this guide
for handy offline reference (or prettier printouts), 
To download the guide, click here (v1.1b, Acrobat Reader >=v6 compatible, filesize: 83Kb).

Have you struggled at the hands of outdated or vague psyBNC setup guides? psyBNC is a wonderful application, but it's like flailing about in a dark room trying to find the lightswitch if you've not done it before. So, I spent a couple of hours writing up my experiences (and a guide for others) for setting up and configuring a psyBNC shell, from scratch, for multiple networks - the article is on my personal blog.

I was compelled to write it because the existing tutorials, FAQs and guides are all over the place in terms of accuracy and legibility - hopefully my step-by-step guide will be easy enough to follow that anybody can just equip themselves with a couple of basic tools and be up and running within 15 minutes.

It's published under a CC licence, so do as you will with it! As the readership of my personal blog is quite small, I thought crossposting it to here be of some use - If it helps you, post back in the comments! The full link to the tutorial is Enjoy :)

PS - when I get handy enough with psyBNC scripting, I'll post up some of my scripts and write another little reference to help newbie coders. It's not got a great scripting engine, but you can code in some useful shortcuts to speed up your daily goings-on. I'm still learning the ropes, but it's not too tough to understand the basic syntax. Why don't you have a go in the meantime!

We thought we could make money on the Internet, but while the Internet is new and exciting for creative people, it hasn't matured as a distribution mechanism to the extent that lets you trade real and immediate opportunities of income for the promise of online revenue. It will be a few years before digital distribution of media on the Internet can be monetised to an extent that necessitates content producers to forego their fair value in more traditional media.

-- Kyle Broflovski to Stan Marsh, Canada On Strike
So, thought for the day: If a fictional nine year old can explain, in a nutshell, why the Internet doesn't work as a distribution mechanism, why can't the music and movie industries seem to understand that we're still only really playing in the sandpit when it comes to legal digital content? Once the traditional industry heavyweights let the technology organically progress and develop into a ubiquitous distribution channel, letting things like broadband availability and speed, format support and hardware plateau, then they can monetise it. No sooner. We'll look back in five/ten years and see how iTunes was nothing more than a brief (and well-marketed) flash in the pan.

Moving on now - well, hasn't this past week been eyebrow-raising? MySpace officially announcing their (expected) music offering, with three of the four majors on board and the fourth expected to join suit shortly. A hooray! for DRMless downloads, but a booooo! for going with MP3. Another hooray! for (like Amazon) forcing the music labels' hand though on the DRM issue, the fight between AmazonMP3 and MySpace Music is going to a good one if they both continue apace. Though, all that aside, when you have some record labels forging ahead of the curve and going / already offering FLAC or WAV lossless audio for only a little more than MP3s, it makes you wonder why we're still paying so much for digital music - and we're putting up with it!

I know a little about this: for the past nine months I've been on work placement at a small indie label. Our primary revenue stream is iTunes thanks to our 30-year back catalogue, but we still get a pittance in terms of money we actually see from sales. People would be surprised if they found out how little we get from each sale. Only the dominant vendor is the real winner in any online distribution scenario, as they have little overheads, instant content for monetisation, and in this case iTunes also has the closed - and somewhat captive - userbase (for the moment).

TheNextWeb 2008 looked like a big success - a shame the web streaming completely gave up when Diggnation was being filmed. Still, we had a Dutchman telling post-watershed jokes on a live webstream at 5pm, Jim Louderback (bless him) not dropping or breaking something on-stage for once (watch near enough any DL.TV episode he's featured in to see what I mean). And if that wasn't enough, Kevin Rose and Alex Albrecht turned up half an hour late, got ludicrously drunk on stage, were accosted at various points by a kilt-adorned Scotsman and a cheeky PR guy - and to top it off, there was a girl wearing a moustache. I also didn't have to pay $1,000 to watch the live stream. That, and no cost of plane ticket and accommodation to get there... I class that as a win.

In the UK, Ofcom announced their decision and their initial roadmap for digital terrestrial TV's migration to HD [free registration required], and not everybody's happy with them... likewise, the Freeview Consortium's relative inaction (or inability) to wrangle a good solution for the future of digital terrestrial broadcasts, combined with their apparent hatred for good programming and worthwhile use of the available spectrum has irked quite a few people (myself included). My housemate even wrote an open letter to them.

Oh, and in other news, I'm putting together a brand new design for ITU. The current look (Glossy Blue by Nick La, found via BlogCrowds) worked well as a placeholder while I gathered my ideas together, but I hate basing sites on templates (however good they are)... Any designer will know what I mean when I say "It just doesn't feel 'mine' 'til I've done the design." (A poet and I don't know-et.)

Until next time, stay classy.

If you've been sleeping on The Next Web Conference 2008, it's being broadcast live in high-quality WMV and Silverlight... Just had a presentation from one of the founders of Pownce, now Netlog's developers are on (oh wait, they just finished - Lookery now) and Wakoopa are coming up soon.

Tune in live at - the conference runs until the end of the 4th of April, so if you're interested in emerging web technologies and ways in which companies are transforming how we use the web on daily basis... Well, tune in!

One thing's for sure - their web site needs some better Search Engine Optimisation, because it doesn't come up at all on the front page of the web site (being largely shrouded by tech news blogs).


Copyright 2006 onwards Christopher Woods. Some Rights Reserved.
ITU uses a (highly) modified version of the K2 theme by GeckoandFly,
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