20070330

RIAA

This is taken from Gizmodo's Anti RIAA Manifesto
written by Adam Frucci

The RIAA is the industry group that represents the four major record labels — Warner Music, EMI, Vivendi Universal, and Sony BMG — and all of their subsidiaries. They work on behalf of their members, and they have been accused of a wide range of offenses, from price-fixing to stifling innovation. They're able to perpetuate these crimes due to their huge bankroll, but that happens to be the one aspect of their organization we have control over. As consumers, we are the ones who stuff their coffers. By buying albums released by RIAA labels, we're giving them the money they use to sue our peers, stifle innovation, and force DRM down our throats. By cutting off their income stream, we can help make the RIAA less effective and therefore less damaging.

We're huge music fans here at Gizmodo, and that's why it's really hard to advocate not purchasing albums from artists we love. However, what everyone needs to understand is that we are in no means advocating piracy or not supporting musicians. The fact of the matter is, the RIAA's practices do not, in the end, support musicians or put money into their pockets. A fraction of the money from album sales actually makes it to artists, and not a single penny that the RIAA has received from their series of lawsuits has actually made it back to the artists that had their "copyrights infringed" in the first place.

The goal of the RIAA's lawsuits is to make people so afraid of being sued that they will stop downloading music. However, in their lawsuits they circumvent the law and extort money from people who haven't been given the benefit of a legal trial.

The process that the RIAA has in place to find and sue plaintiffs is designed not to provide a fair trial and prove guilt, but rather to confuse and intimidate people into settling out of court. What exactly happens is too detailed and lengthy for me to go into here, but Grant Robertson's Layperson's Guide to Filesharing Lawsuits is a must-read for anyone interested in what exactly happened in the 20,000+ lawsuits (so far) the RIAA has brought upon the citizens of this country.

Recently, the RIAA began looking to streamline the entire lawsuit process by cutting courts, lawyers, and any semblance of due process out altogether. Their new plan is to have ISPs point people to p2plawsuits.com (catchy!) and offer to discount their settlement by $1,000 if they pay up without going to court at all. By avoiding the court system, the RIAA can avoid paying those pesky lawyer's fees. Even better for them, they plan to require ISPs to retain all of their customer records for at least 180 days in order to be eligible for the $1,000 discount. This would make everyone's surfing and downloading history available to a non-governmental organization in order to make it easier for them to gather evidence for their intimidation lawsuits.

Beyond the harassment, extortion, and privacy invasion that the RIAA commits under the guise of lawsuits, they also stifle innovation by treating any open Internet source as a potential way for people to violate their copyrights. Recently, they filed a "motion for reconsideration" in a suit claiming that anything downloaded via an Internet connection is the responsibility of the owner of said connection. While the RIAA is trying to make it easier for them to get money out of the parents of kids they sue, the precedent that it would set would make it difficult, if not impossible, for open WiFi hotspots to exist. That means that the RIAA would make it impossible for you to connect to the web for free while out in a city that provides Internet access merely because you might use it to download music.

Digital Rights Management, or DRM, is the software that makes it so music you buy from the iTunes Music Store can't play on any other player other than the iPod, such as a Zune or Sansa. In an effort to keep people from sharing legally purchased music, DRM actually goes much farther than copyright law dictates, denying paying customers the fair use of the music they buy. You should be able to do what you want with an album once you've paid for it; like a CD or a record, you now own it for life.

However, music wrapped in DRM software cannot be played on devices other than those explicitly tied to the store you brought it from. Furthermore, listening to your music across multiple computers, or moving your music to a new computer when you upgrade, is often a huge headache that ends with you needing to repurchase your songs.

In effect, the RIAA's insistence on strict DRM takes value away from legally purchased music. People have a choice: they can either pirate unrestricted MP3 files that will let them use them however they'd like, or they can pay for files that won't allow them the freedom to listen where and how they choose. It only makes sense that many tech-savvy people choose to download MP3s rather than pay for crippled files. The RIAA wants people to pay for restrictions and like it.

As we're a technology website, we're most in touch with the RIAA's actions in response to music downloading as opposed to their history of poor artist management and unfair retail tactics. However, it's worth noting that issues such as the underpayment of artists and album price-fixing are quite serious and should be considered as good a reason as any to keep your money from going to their pockets. Two articles worth reading to study up on how major labels screw over the artists they claim to represent are Courtney Love's speech to the Digital Hollywood online entertainment conference and The Problem with Music by Steve Albini. Both are written by artists who have first-hand knowledge of just how badly major labels take advantage of musicians, and both are guaranteed to change how you view the music industry

So what would we like to see happen? First and foremost, we want the lawsuits to stop. Treating normal people like common criminals and using fear tactics and intimidation to extort thousands of dollars from them goes against everything that this country stands for. Secondly, we want them to stop insisting that DRM software be used on all of their music being sold online. People are willing to pay for their music, but they deserve to be able to own that music and use it however they'd like once they purchase it. And lastly, we want the RIAA to stop trying to stifle innovation and control the future of the Internet merely because the possibility exists for piracy to happen using upcoming technologies.

But all these things, in the long run, are temporary solutions to a problem that will eventually end with a permanent solution. The fact of the matter is, the RIAA is becoming more outdated and unnecessary by the day. Their seeming inability to grasp the reality of today's music industry has doomed them, and there will come a time when they will cease to exist.

That's because the era of the major label is over. Why should a new band want to sign with one? They no longer need a $50,000 recording budget; more sophisticated and powerful home recording equipment and software is released every day. Music videos are cheaper to shoot and edit as well due to the lowered costs of cameras and computers. Promoting for radio is increasingly unnecessary, as more and more bands are discovered via blogs rather than through traditional channels. And manufacturing is slowly being erased from the picture altogether, allowing artists to distribute their music online with little overhead costs.

While twenty years ago a band needed a record label to discover them, help them record, help them shoot a video, manufacture and then distribute their album, a resourceful band can do all of those things themselves. Eventually, bands will be able to sell their music online direct to fans with minimal reliance on a record label. The RIAA is teetering on the edge of irrelevance, and it's our job to give it a hearty shove. They can still do a hell of a lot of damage on their way down, and that's what we need to try to stop.


20070328

Useful little tips

I just received this in my email today. I don't know how accurate any of this is but if any of you can attest to their effectiveness than please let me know.

Bed Sheets
After drying my sheets, I put both of the neatly folded sheets and one of
the pillowcases in the other pillow case. The next time you change sheets, you just take out the one pillow case with the sheets and the other pillow case inside.
No need to look for matches.

Reheat Pizza
Heat up leftover pizza in a non-stick skillet on top of the stove, set
heat to med-low and heat till warm.
This keeps the crust crispy. No soggy micro pizza.
I saw this on the cooking channel and it really works.

Easy Deviled Eggs
Put cooked egg yolks in a zip lock bag. Seal the bag and mash till they
are all broken up. Add remainder of ingredients, reseal, keep mashing it up, mixing
thoroughly. Cut the tip of the baggy, squeeze the mixture into the egg.
Then simply throw bag away when done - easy clean up.

Expanding Frosting
When you buy a container of cake frosting from the store, whip it with
your mixer for a few minutes. You can double it in size. You get to frost more cake/cupcakes with the same amount.
You also eat fewer sugar/calories per serving.

Reheating Refrigerated Bread
To warm biscuits, pancakes, or muffins that were refrigerated, place them
in a microwave with a cup of water.
The increased moisture will keep the food moist and help it reheat faster.

Newspaper Weeds-Away
(I actually used this method in both GA & FL - even kills off grass!)
Start by putting in your plants. Work your normal nutrients into your
soil. Wet newspapers, put layers around the plants overlapping as you go, cover
with mulch and forget about weeds. Weeds WILL get through some gardening plastics. They will NOT get through wet newspapers.

Broken Glass
Use a dry cotton ball to pick up little broken pieces of glass - the
fibers catch ones you can't see!

No More Mosquitoes
Place a dryer sheet in your pocket. It will keep the mosquitoes away.

Squirrel Away!
To keep squirrels from eating your plants sprinkle your plants with cayenne
pepper. The cayenne pepper doesn't hurt the plant and the squirrels won't come
near it.
To keep them from eating all of your bird seed, add red pepper flakes to
the seed. The birds aren't bothered by it, but the squirrels hate it!

Easier Thank You's
When you throw a bridal/baby shower, buy a pack of Thank You cards for
the guest of honor. During the party, pass out the envelopes and have everyone put their address on one.
When the bride/new mother gets ready to write out the thank you notes,
they're all addressed!

New Bike
If you purchase a new bike for your child, place his/her picture inside
the handle bar before placing the grips on.
If the bike is ever stolen and later recovered, You can remove the grip and there is your proof who actually owns the bike.
I would suggest recording the serial number of the bike and registering it with the local law enforcement.

Flexible Vacuum
To get something out of a heat register or under the fridge, add an empty
paper towel roll or empty gift wrap roll to your vacuum hose.
It can be bent or flattened to get into those narrow openings.

Reducing Static Cling
Pin a small safety pin to the seam of your slip and you will not have a
clingy skirt or dress. The same thing works with slacks that cling when wearing panty hose. Place the pin in seam of slacks and - voila! - static is gone.

Measuring Cups
Before you pour sticky substances into a measuring cup, fill it with hot water.
Dump out the hot water, but don't dry the cup. Next, add your ingredient (such as peanut butter) and watch how easily it comes right out.

Foggy Windshield?
Hate foggy windshields? Buy a chalkboard eraser and keep it in the glove box of your car.When the windows fog up, rub with the eraser! It works better than a cloth!

Conditioner
Use your hair conditioner to shave your legs.
It's a lot cheaper than shaving cream and leaves your legs really smooth.
It's also a great way to use up the conditioner that you bought but
didn't like when you tried it in your hair...

Good-bye Fruit Flies
To get rid of pesky fruit flies, take a small glass and fill it to ½"
withApple Cider Vinegar and 2 drops of dishwashing liquid - mix well.
You will find those flies drawn to the cup and gone forever!

Get Rid of Ants
Put small piles of cornmeal where you see ants.
They eat it, take it "home" & can't digest it... so it kills them.
It may take a week or so (especially if it rains) but it works...
and you don't have the worry about pets or small children being harmed!

Sand Gone
Take baby powder to the beach.
Keep a small bottle of baby powder in your beach bag.
When you're ready to leave the beach sprinkle yourself and kids with the
powder.
The sand will slide right off your skin.

20070326

Google Jobs

To use the Google Job search feature just go to Google.com type in "jobs" and then whatever city you are in. I didn't find what I wanted but it may be useful to you.

20070325

Frakk Off Mel Gibson

I just read the linked article. Mel Gibson is a frakkin idiot. I am very upset by his portrayal of Mayans in his waste of a production, "Apocalypto".

Some people will always be exceptionally ignorant and ethnocentric. Brother Mel is just an example of what I will put down.