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An Open Letter to Microsoft

Att: The people who decided WGA was necessary
Subject: Microsoft should not treat their consumers like criminals.

In matters of DRM and control one thing has been proven over and over again: You only hurt the ones you’re supposed to love.

The Story

A close acquaintance of mine, a 70 year old man, recently called me up because he had a problem with his computer. He turned it on one day and it told him that his copy of windows was not Genuine.

He is, as of this moment, unable to use that machine (luckily he has a Mac so he can get along). He didn’t “steal” a copy of windows. In fact he bought a copy of windows. It came with his computer. Of course, to you (Microsoft) he is probably a criminal so why shouldn’t his computer be rendered useless?

Obviously Windows tells my friend that he must reenter his key. Of course, almost every OEM license of Windows does not come with a readily available copy of the OS and key. So what are the alternatives? He can A) Call Microsoft (good luck with that) B) Call his manufacture who well send him “Restore CDs” that will whipe his data and force him to reinstall all of his programs or C) He can ask his friend who is aquatinted with these sorts of things to force Windows to behave like it’s supposed to.

The fact that Im writing this letter should tell you that the only real option is C. So here I am, having to clean up after your mistakes. All because you would rather assume that your clients are criminals rather than the people you should love and appreciate.

The cruel irony

The cruel irony of DRM is so silly that I wonder why people keep on trying. To pirates DRM and the Windows Activation thing are not problems. It does not bother them in the slightest. They dance around your silly anti-copying measures and laugh.

However to your client, the actual consumer who becomes the collateral damage of your war in error, these protections loom high and are impassable. In other words, the only people who end up having a hard time are the people that actually pay for your software!

A Modest Proposal: Steal Everything

Its simple, if you buy the software it will lock you out. If you download a cracked version and keep it that way you will be able to use your software unabated. Either way you’re considered to be a stealing criminal.

In closing, you sir (Microsoft) are disgusting. I have no idea how you can get away with treating your clients like criminals. It is absolutely deplorable that you have not learned from any of your mistakes and stopped with all of this nonsense. I will avoid your products like the plague and go with alternatives that do not consider me to be a criminal.

I’ve attached a simple diagram to help explain my article using pictures. This diagram is about music however it still applies to software.

Signed, Dan at todaywasawesome.com

Posted Tuesday, December 30, 2008

HDCP on Mac or Why you don’t need linux

As has been reported in numerous places the new Macs has an HDCP enabled display port. This means that if you want to watch a DRM protected movie on a separate display that display must have HDCP enabled.

Everyone grab your linux!

It appears as if everyone thinks that they need to go start using that linux they’ve heard so much about. Well guess what, the movies that won’t play on a separate display (non-HDCP) on your Mac (windows too btw) ALSO won’t play on a linux box period. That’s because videos that use DRM (ie itunes rentals etc) don’t have support under linux anyway.

Don’t get linux

Let me save everyone some time that thinks they need to start on the linux band wagon because because Apple is HDCP compliant. Don’t switch to Linux. If your only reason to switch to linux is because of this HDCP thing then you are in for a world of hurt. Linux is a pain in the ass to setup and if you don’t know enough to buy DRM free formats then when it comes time for you to do anything on your linux box you’re going to be SOL and have absolutely no clue how to use your computer.

As for windows users

It seems that every windows user that has commented on this issue said something to the effect of “Ha! I HATE MACS anywayz!1 I keep my windows!!” guess what, you guys have had HDCP control enabled ever since Vista came out. You were worse off than OS X BEFORE OS X.

The bottom line

Don’t buy stuff with DRM, you don’t need it. Think of it this way, if you buy something with DRM you are only renting it. If it has DRM you do not own it.

Posted Friday, November 21, 2008

Convert outlook templates to mail.app

Microsoft was nice enough not to store anything that they do in an open format which leaves us with the huge pain of converting their crap to work on our systems. Mail’s templates are pretty bad but at least its just html and you can easily put it into any mail application. Here’s what you need:

  • Outlook
  • Microsoft office
  • Office application for Mac
  • Mail (OS X)

Starting with the oft file

The oft file format is what outlook uses to store templates. Basically it’s html by Microsoft! If you open it and look at it using a plain text viewer you’ll see jibberish and snippets of html and content mixed in. Great, so now you have your proprietary and disgusting template from outlook, open it using outlook. Now select everything in that email and copy it. Open off office and paste it in.

Pasting into office

If after copying and pasting directly from the outlook window into office if the format changes then I’m sorry, you have no hope. If it did past in correctly congratulations! Save it as a .doc or .docx whatever works for you and whatever you can open on your mac office application

More copy and paste

Now goto your Mac and open up the doc you created from the oft file. Select all, copy and paste it into a mail window. Congrats! You have put a oft file into mail.

Automatically converting a bunch of oft files

I don’t know of any way to automatically convert multiple oft files. If I did I probably wouldn’t be in such a bad mood.

Posted Monday, September 22, 2008

Mail Templates- Why you shouldn’t

I was feeling very enterprising at work this morning (Im on lunch now) and decided to make a nice mail template for something I send out quite often. I didn’t need anything crazy but quickly found some guides and went to work.

You have to manually code via html/css your email template and do all sorts of stupid and useless things like generate plists to make it but here is the catch. Let us liken the generation of this email template to a cute puppy. This is what I made:

Look how awesome my template looks!

Look how awesome my template looks!

So I was really excited to test it out and send it to someone using outlook. What they got was very different, they got the equivalent of this:



So be aware, it’s not worth using apple mail templates because they look like crap when you send them to people.

Posted Thursday, August 21, 2008

Todaywasawesome award: Yahoo Music

That’s right! Yahoo Music has won a todaywasawesome award for the category of advancement of anti-DRM. Yahoo music recently announced that they’re going to disable their DRM servers. That’s great, just that much less DRM in the world! Whoo!

Wait…they did what?!

Apparently Yahoo isn’t just disabling their DRM servers, they’ve gone the EXTRA MILE and are going to be disabling all the music that anyone has bought with their service! Not only will there be less DRM in this world but less DRM music! What a break through for digital rights to have Yahoo leading the the way in doing away with DRM technology.

But seriously, they should get an award

At least they’re proving, by stealing all of their users music, that DRM is a failure wherever it’s implemented. Here’s a breakdown in who gets robbed in DRM and non DRM situations.

DRM situations: The consumer is robbed of things they already paid for.
Non-DRM situations: No one is robbed of anything.

I’d like to announce that I’m also nominating Yahoo for biggest douche of the year award as well.

UPDATE Yahoo has vowed to reimburse customers. I guess it could be worse.

Posted Friday, July 25, 2008

Solar Panels suck

I, like many recently, have been looking at alternative fuel sources. Looking for ways to cutback my dependance on expensive electricity and gas. I’ve come up with some ideas but one that doesn’t seem to be worth a damn is Solar Panels. I found this solar panel kit that only costs $600 and yields about 1 kWh a week.

Wow a whole kilowatt every week!

That sounds like a pretty good dead right! I mean, 600 bucks gets you 52 kWhs a year assuming you have perfect weather and the sun is always directly on your solar panel…oh and it also has to be summer all year long.

There’s only one problem, after a year you will have paid ($600/52)=$11 a kilowatt. That doesn’t sound like a bad deal. A kilowatt is like…1000 watts right? That must be a large sum of watts! Like…a whole barrel of watts!

Back in the real world

Unfortunately last month my house used 981 kilowatts for a bill of $78.56. Which means I paid $0.0698 per watt. That makes solar power a whopping $10.30 more expensive per watt. In order to power my entire house I would need roughly 981 solar panels of this size 4.5 ft x 1.5 ft which means I would need an area roughly 4414.5 ft x 1471.5 ft. I’m pretty sure thats more area than the plot that my house sits on. Oh yeah, plus it would cost $588,600 dollars to make…

Sorry solar power, until you cost less than 11 times as much as normal electricity it looks like it’s a no go.

Update: Solar Panels Still Suck (7/17/2010)

Read the follow up to see if solar panels still suck in 2010.

Posted Tuesday, June 17, 2008

A Sense of Irony

The Setup

I share an office with eight other people (nine including myself) and seven of the people in this room prefer to work with the lights off. We have big windows and it’s nice to just work in natural light. A lot of us find it easier to focus but there are two people that are very adamant that the light be turned on.

Today one of them was gone and seven of us where sitting in here working with the lights off happily when our co-worker who wants the lights on, we’ll call her “Sarah”, walked in the room and immediately turned the lights on.

I stealthily remarked via IM to another colleague that it was pretty rude to walk into a room and change it without any regard to the people already in there.

Trying to teach a lesson

To try to demonstrate to Sarah why this might be rude I left the room and when I came back in I turned off the lights. Sarah looked back at me and I stopped and said “Oh, I’m sorry, whenever I walk into a room I automatically adjust it to my personal preference regardless of what the people in the room might want.”

I was afraid that my sarcasm might come off as way too mean when I don’t bare any animosity for Sarah (I quite like her actually). Fortunately for me Sarah lacks a sense of irony and responded thusly: “Oh I see, you’re saying you’re really self-centered and you don’t think of others. Hows that working in your marriage?”

All I could do was laugh, it would be funnier though if she understood the joke was on her. Irony, it seems is lost on this one.

Posted Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Police Brutality?

This video of a utah cop tasing a motorist has been a hot button issue lately and has shown a lot of confusion over what your rights are and aren’t. I’m interested to hear everyone’s perspective on this one.

Problems laws “broken”

Does not have Miranda rights read to him
This kid asks quite a few times to have his Miranda rights read to him but doesn’t seem to know much about the law. Miranda rights or a Miranda warning is only required to be mentioned in the event that the Police officer is interrogating someone. Wikipedia has a whole section on the misconceptions on Miranda rights. “On the side of the road” is in fact not the place to have your rights read to you.

The officer never tells him he is under arrest!
Actually, as is my understanding, an officer doesn’t have to tell you that you’re under arrest (even though this officer does) and then he has to give a reason, as per Habeous Corpus. In fact you’re not under arrest when an Officer tells you to but you are under arrest when you are no longer free to leave.

Unlawful search!
I don’t have a reference from this one but I’m pretty sure that once you’re under arrest your immediate property is fair game. They have to search you for obvious reasons and then I think he had reasonable suspicion to search the car. Maybe he was going back for a gun, whatever. At anyrate the officer hands over the “vehicle” to his wife which probably means that it was temporarily the officer’s to look through.

He never tells the motorist how much he was speeding
At this point I think what he was speeding was irrelevant. He wasn’t arrested for speeding, he was arrested for disobeying a lawful order. His arrest has nothing to do with speeding other than the fact that he wouldn’t sign the ticket.

Beyond that his ticket must have had a speed on it because you can’t even get a speeding ticket without a speed written on it. If you did the court would have no idea how to punish you or what class of violation it is. Quickest way out of a ticket ever.

What I think

It seems to me that the police officer was fully within his right to taser this dude and arrest him. At which point would anyone with half a brain think it’s a good idea to walk away from a cop when he is telling you to stop?

I’m all about sniffing out police brutality and I think we’ve seen it quite a few times on youtube but this doesn’t see to be a case of police brutality.

To the motorist’s defense

When the motorist tells the police officer that he will not sign the ticket and that first they will go have a look at the sign the police officer says “alright, get out of the vehicle”. The officer intends to put him under arrest at that point for not signing the ticket. The motorist seems to think they’re going to go look at the sign but then disregards the police officer’s warnings.

So, what do you think?

Posted Monday, November 26, 2007

OS X Leopard – Things Apple should fix

I had really high hopes for 10.5.1, the first patch, for Leopard. I assumed it would fix all the little problems I’ve noticed since upgradding from Tiger (10.4). The patch was great fixing some really important problems. But it didn’t fix very many of my problems. In fact, I was hoping that Leopard was going to fix problems that I had in Tiger but alas, this was not the case. Not entirely anyway.

List of bugs/”fixes”

  • Hidden networks don’t auto-rejoin 80% of the time
  • Mail smart folders don’t really work 100% of the time
  • Multiscreen support is still lame
  • Firefox hangs*
  • Safari still doesn’t support plugins
  • Power Management still has a ways to go
  • iChat is cool and sucks in all of the wrong ways
  • Changing icons is harder than ever!

Hidden networks don’t auto-rejoin 80% of the time

Like any responsible wireless user I make sure that my network is as secure as possible, that means a good encryption (nothing WEP) and not broadcasting your SSID. Leopard doesn’t pick up hidden networks automatically, even when they’re on your preferred network list. I guess I could start broadcasting my SSID (it’s not the most essential security anyway) but I shouldn’t have to downgrade.

Mail smart folders don’t really work 100% of the time

I have three or four smart folders that simply refuse to pick anything up, I’ve double checked the settings and the filters but it doesn’t matter because they won’t ever find any mail…at all.

Multiscreen support is still lame

In Tiger there was a glitch where trying to zoom while using multiple monitors would yield dubious results, the screen would jump around and move randomly like a possessed mongoloid mouse moving powers.

I figured it would be fixed in Leopard and it was…sort of…actually instead of fixing it they just turned magnification off altogether while using multiple screens.

Since when did fixing a bug mean turning a feature off completely?!

Update:Turns out this was an error with trying to zoom while suing synergy and a mouse from another machine. (Mac in client mode) Works fine ont he track pad or with a plugged in mouse.

The other thing that’s missing is a decent option for having the menu bar on both screens. If Im doing some work in office (neooffice the OO alternative) and I need to get something out of the menu it means going to a different screen to select the menu bar. Thats a pain.

All in all, multi-screen support is still pretty good and years ahead of anyone else. You can easily choose different desktops and screen savers which is rad.

Firefox hangs*

This really isn’t Leopard’s fault. Firefox is quickly becomming crap on any platform. Its hard to say because I’ve been a big supporter of Firefox since it’s debut but this memory leak business is getting ridiculous. The other day it was up to 1.21 GBs!!! Like I said, this doesn’t really have anything to do with leopard but I get beachballs when loading new tabs or saving something that stop me from doing anything else. Talk about irritating. Which brings me to my next point

Safari still doesn’t support plugins

Safari is a great browser, a lot more light weight than firefox and it doens’t seem to have any rendering issues unfourtunatly it also doesn’t support plugins officially. Sure you can hack it to make plugins work and you can hack it for quick searches but I shouldn’t have to.

On the flip side Safari is pretty awesome other than those two deal breaking features. I may follow gthing’s route and hack Safari so I can quit firefox.

Power Management still has a ways to go

Wait, let me rephrase that power management is actually really good, lots of features that are easy to manage. The problem is that since switching to leopard I have the impression that my battery life has cut itself in half. I could be wrong and it could just be that my battery is getting old. I invite anyone reading this to give their input.

iChat is cool and sucks in all of the wrong ways

iChat has some really rad features, the video chat is off the hook and way beyond anything else I’ve ever used but iChat still sucks in all of the important ways. It keeps contacts from different services in different windows. So instead of having a single contact list with MSN, AIM and your jabber contacts all together it has seperate contact lists. This is supremely irritating.

Adium actually lets me merge contacts from different services. I have friends that use several chat clients and I can merge them all into one that is easy to manage. Awesome.

iChat also doesn’t support MSN chat which kills half my friends list right off the bat. Apple is in pretty close relations with microsoft these days, you’d think they could swing some support for the second most popular chat client out there (I assume it’s second to AIM).

For all of it’s frills iChat is still unsutible for everyday use

Changing icons is harder than ever!

In tiger changing most icons could be done by copy and pasting between info boxes. Not the best but not terrible, it didn’t work for the trash bin or the control panel but it still worked for drives and apps and folders. So, rather than building out the feature of changing icons, they stripped out the copy and paste way to easily change them. Now anyone that wants to change icons either has to dig around in system files to replace the icons with new ones and then delete the current system cache to get them to actually show up or buy Candybar.

Candybar is lame. Flame all you want but it’s still lame. It supports something that should be built into the OS already.

Digging around in system files is equally lame for something that should be such a simple task.

I still love Leopard

I still like Leopard and I have no temptation to downgrade back to Tiger. The system is faster, smoother, more responsive and seems more stable even. There have been a lot of great backend changes to increase usability and build out the OS but that doens’t mean there aren’t a few things I want changed.

There will always be things to fix.

Posted Saturday, November 17, 2007

Photoshop Plea

Many have complained about me not finishing my new theme but I have a good reason for the delay. Awesome takes time. My current hurdle is of particular note. It’s a photoshop thing, please examine the image below.

Photoshop save for web problem

The image on the left is the photoshop version, the image on the right is the save for web preview. I used a screenshot that didn’t pass through any other photo application (OS X has that cool screenshot directly to a file that lets you select the area you want copied).

The image on the right has become lighter and I don’t know why, here are some things I have tried

  • Change color profiles to match my macbook pro monitor
  • Taking a screenshot and then importing the image and then saving
  • I thought it might be that the colors weren’t “web compatible” but after saving a web compatible version I can open the new lighter version and then if I try to save it again for web the colors again become lighter.

    So, wtf?

    Anyone got some ideas as to why I’m having this problem? I’ve tried some searches and I’ve asked some photoshop “gurus” (they told me to shut up and drink the koolaid…maybe they were just gurus)

  • Posted Friday, September 28, 2007