Monday, February 12, 2007

IT (MS variety) is madness...

I have been trying (with only marginal success) to wrestle my way through Peter Gutmann’s lengthy review of some of the technicalities of MS Vista. It is not an easy read, especially for the technically incompetent such as I. HD-DVD is a very long way down on my list of desires. But I have my present computer set up with the intention that it will form a part of my "home entertainment" system. For that reason, the commentary coming from news and interviews about Vista was of some interest.

I have on board a thing called "Windows Media Centre" which at the time of purchase seemed like a good idea, a reasonable start on the kind of centralised television / radio / DVD / video system that would be cheaper in the long run than having to match and buy individual components or (as with the last two stereo systems I have owned) buy matched systems of plastic switches and frequency displays that crap out two or three days after the warranty expires.

Because MCE is now discontinued, replaced with Vista, Gutman’s article has increased interest for me.

But I want to stick with MCE for the moment because it has a very interesting feature that I was unaware of until just this past three days or so.

I was given (thanks Kath and D) two DVD’s for Christmas; for those wanting the detail they are "Hoodwinked" and a Special Edition of "World’s Fastest Indian".
Simpleton that I am I put them into a back cupboard until "the right moment" which turned out to be Saturday evening and "Hoodwinked" was piquing my interest. Simpleton that I am, I put the DVD into the right slot and pressed all the right buttons (I have played a number of music DVD’s on the system without problem).
What’s this? Cannot play the DVD? "Region 4" protected? WTF? To cut a long story short one of MS’s little updates is a precursor to some of the features in Vista.

Among the communications from MCE as I worked my way carefully through the processes to get to play my DVD were –
"Region 2 capable only"
"To change Region select from the following"
"You are permitted to change Region only four times. Select your Region with care for this reason..."

There was also a fairly dire warning that the system could (under some given circumstances) –
"Prevent further use of the DVD player"
"Cripple the DVD and CD write features"
"Attempts to clear the disabling of these features by re-installing the system will be unsuccessful".

I am NOT going to find out just how accurate that last warning might be.
What it does point out though is another feature of the "protection rackets" that are developing in response to the piracy of the few – or am I in the minority here?

If a good friend of mine in the US or Japan or Britain were to send me a DVD unavailable in NZ it very likely that the gift would be totally useless. Why? Because the "protection features" would prevent me from playing the DVD.

How F***ing STUPID!!

Mr Johnson, that fuzzy region on your X-ray indicates one of two things. Either you have multi-drug resistant tuberculosis, or the copy-protection system on our computer thinks that part of your left lung looks like Mickey Mouse.

Oh, and if you are wondering why the ol' probligo is now part of the NEW google empire there was not much choice. It was change format or not sign in.


Strikes me that there is a common point there -

Yeah!! That's right!

Intended Product Redundancy

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