I should have known better… after all, I’ve blogged about the evils of DRM before, although not HDCP in particular (here’s a nice intro). HDCP is basically DRM that “works” (as we’ll see in a minute, I’m hesitant to say it works at all) over a digital hi-definition connection. All that BluRay/HD-DVD jazz works mainly with HDCP, supposedly to prevent unauthorized copying.

If you’re trying to watch HDCP content, every component on the way has to support HDCP. A simple example would be a BluRay player hooked up to an HDTV. If the HDTV doesn’t support HDCP, the BluRay player will refuse to play the disc (or it may reduce quality). For computers, it’s much more complicated. In order to play an HD-DVD on your computer, your player software, operating system*, HD-DVD drive*, video card, and monitor must all support HDCP. Any one of those are not up to par, and your HD-DVD will again either not play, or play at relatively poor quality (* I’m not sure about these components). Certainly not the Hi Def you paid for.

And of course, my friends, this exact situation happened to me. I purchased a very fancy-shmancy LCD monitor with HDCP support advertised. Then, to take advantage of my purchase, I bought an upconverting DVD player. Soon I would be watching my old DVD’s in high definition!

Well, no. My dvd player would simply not allow me to select a resolution higher than the minimum 480p, even though my monitor supports the much higher 1080p! Why not? Who can say? But I strongly suspect that one of the components is screwing up when it comes to the HDCP “handshake”.

Here comes the kicker – neither company is particularly enthused about helping me out with this problem. The monitor people don’t even seem to have a clue what HDCP is, even though it’s a selling point of the monitor! I’m going to call the DVD people, but guess who they’re going to blame.

My only recourse at this point, short of returning the DVD player, is to see if there are any 3rd party firmwares that disable HDCP on the DVD player.

Anyway, it’s an ugly, anti-consumer situation. Caveat Emptor…


Where Family Guy Gets Its Ideas

I’m a big Family Guy fan, but I’ve been a Simpsons fan for longer, and I caught many of the, um, homages to the Simpsons present in Family Guy. The video below should give you a good idea of what’s what:


The End Of The World As We Know It

I try to be an optimist, but it’s hard when watching this interview of E. O. Wilson on the Bill Moyers Journal (Wilson being one of the most accomplished and honored American scientists and authors alive today). Some choice quotes from the interview:

BILL MOYERS: Why… should we care if the woodpecker goes? I mean, we’ve lost—how many species have we lost? We don’t know how many species we’ve lost in the millennium.

E.O. WILSON: No. But– how many species going extinct or becoming very rare do you think it takes before you see something happening? … And more than that– we lose the services of these species.

BILL MOYERS: The services of these species.

E.O. WILSON: Yes services of these species to us. Like pollination and water purification…

BILL MOYERS: That we get free from nature.

E.O. WILSON Yeah. Here’s an easy way to remember it. We get from nature scot-free, so long as we don’t screw it up and destroy it– approximately the same amount of services as far as you can measure them in dollars as we ourselves produce each year. It was about $30 trillion a year. T. Trillion.

E.O. WILSON: If we do not abate the various changes we’re causing– climate, habitat destruction– the– continuing pollution of major– river system– systems and so on we will, by the end of the century, lose or have right at the brink of extinction– about half the species of plants and animals– in the world, certainly on the land.

BILL MOYERS: I’m sitting here trying to believe– is this distinguished man, winner of two Pulitzer Prizes, author of 25 books, telling me that he conceives of the obliteration of nature?


BILL MOYERS: The end of nature. The end of– what do you mean by–

E.O. WILSON I mean the end of– a large part of the rest of life on– the planet.

Well, there you have it. We’re all going to die. Thanks, Dr. Wilson!


Don’t Call Me Null

I got this as the subject line in a spam message yesterday:

Null, Shamanism can help you get what you want.

Who’re you calling Null?


"A Fox, A Wolf And A Whole Lot of Bull"

In case you had any faith left in the media, particularly Fox News, watch this amazing video dissecting how Fox and CNN twisted Ron Paul’s words in an apparent attempt to marginalize him. In case you don’t have time to watch the video, the short version is that Ron Paul said, citing the 9/11 Commission Report and CIA reports, that American interventionalism overseas helped create a climate of hate (of us) over the years. Giuliani immediately jumped on the opportunity to twist this into an implication that America brought 9/11 upon herself, which is clearly not what Paul said. Fox News took this even further, asserting that Paul is a conspiracy nut and a member of the 9/11 “truth” movement*. In other words, they make it seem like Paul said that Bush was involved with the attacks. They of course take a few potshots at Democrats as well, while they’re at it.

Anyway, it’s quite clear from the video that the GOP does not want Paul to run. He’s not towing the line, and they want him out. Although I’ve criticized some of his positions in the past, I sincerely hope I did it honestly and accurately, disagreeing with what he actually said and believes, not what others want him to say or believe.

The saddest (and in a way, most encouraging) part of this video is watching Paul calmly weather the storm during interviews, knowing full well that the attempt is being made to destroy him.


p.s. Here’s the Simpson’s take on the Liberal Media :-) Get it while you can…

* Michelle Malkin (I’m 99% sure it’s her) makes a loathsome grandstanding appearance here. The most amazing part of this interview is when Malkin criticizes the mainstream media (except for Fox, of course) for not spending more time debunking internet myths, when one of her major causes is the internet’s (i.e. bloggers) debunking falsehoods perpetrated by mainstream media (or MSM, as she puts it)! Puh-lease.

Pick A Galaxy, Any Galaxy

Via Slashdot, a really cool idea – Galaxy Zoo:

Welcome to GalaxyZoo, the project which harnesses the power of the internet – and your brain – to classify a million galaxies. By taking part, you’ll not only be contributing to scientific research, but you’ll view parts of the Universe that literally no-one has ever seen before and get a sense of the glorious diversity of galaxies that pepper the sky.

Why do we need you?
The simple answer is that the human brain is much better at recognising patterns than a computer can ever be. Any computer program we write to sort our galaxies into categories would do a reasonable job, but it would also inevitably throw out the unusual, the weird and the wonderful. To rescue these interesting systems which have a story to tell, we need you.

I was never a space-head, but maybe this site will change that… and it’s more interactive than SETI@Home or Folding@Home. Richard Feynman always said that he felt like his work was really play, and by turning identifying galaxies into a game, Galaxy Zoo is cleverly capitalizing on that.


Blame Facebook

Returning to blogging is like returning to anything else – the longer you’ve been away, the harder it is to get back into it. One of the reasons my blog output has been so paltry is that I’ve been spending way too much time:

  • Working.
  • Playing GTA 3.
  • On Facebook.

None of which are particularly good excuses not to blog of course ;-)

Facebook is a lot of fun, and a bit overwhelming (it seems to be populated primarily by my ex-girlfriends – yikes). It’s also an unbelievable privacy risk – who I am, who I know, how I know them… it’s all there. The reason I joined FB is to check out their slick new API, but since these third party applications all have their own privacy policies, and I can’t seem to find said privacy policies, I’ve been avoiding them (even the indispensable ones).

Regarding Grand Theft Auto (the game), am I a bad person for playing it? Probably. It’s a great game, though – I wish all games had that level of polish. I’ve actually become more conservative when it comes to real crime because of this game. Liberty City is a terrifying place to live, and highlights how good New Yorkers have it these days. Another interesting thing I’ve noticed is when you can steal a car, any car, no matter how nice, at will, you don’t really value it or take care of it. Everything (and everyone) in the game is completely disposable, and you have no attachments whatsoever (particularly in GTA 3). This is in stark contrast to games like World of Warcraft, where the best gear takes hours, or even days, of intense play to acquire. So there’s actually some interesting philosophical and psychological observations you can make playing this series of games. That’s my excuse, anyway…


p.s. I’ll try to blog a bit more often. I know there’s nothing more boring than a blogger who writes about his own blog, so I’ll leave it at that :-)