September 19th, 2009


FREEDOM! We're Gonna Ring The Bell!

We longtime denizens of the Internet have a special hatred for AOL.  AOL built it's customer base with "custom" content, created by AOL or members themselves while walling off the Internet at large.  Those of us with access to indie ISP's could only marvel at the sheer amount of stuff we could find while AOL users got relative squat.  Well, or things that were meant to sell, like their Entertainment Tonight-ish news pages.  Broadband became AOL's downfall, as people left AOL's long connection times, pokey speeds, and random carrier drops for the faster lines, and discovered what they'd been missing.  AOL eventually caved, allowing access to all the Internet, going true hi-speed themselves, and offering content to non-subscribers.  And yippee, I don't get those stupid discs three times a week in my mail (and blown in with countless magazines).

Lately, the major Internet companies have been trying to take an approach reminiscient of AOL.  They figure that, since it's their servers people are connecting with, they have the right to deny people access to certain websites.  Lest you think this is to guard against drive-bys and PR0N, the terms the companies laid out meant that, to allow your web site to be viewable through their servers, you'd have to pay them.  And since they have most of the Internet subscribers in the country sewn up, you will limit yourself and not even know it, especially if you are a business trying to make a living.  In short, "Dis iz a stick-up."

This prompted us FOSSers to call for Net Neutrality, saying that information should be free and not subject to an extortion racket.  There have been a couple of incidents where 'Net providers nearly got it through, but it was never soundly defeated, and it kept coming back.

Yesterday, the FCC announced it was going to propose Net Neutrality as an offical policy for the US.  About friggin' time.  It's only being proposed at this point, but the FCC doesn't get a lot of challenges, and it makes me more hopeful about their ruling on SOC.  Keep them fingers crossed.

Fraught With Portent!

The US government has very strict rules on "exports", with the potential for this to be applied to a lot of collaborative open source projects in a very, very bad way.

Firefox took the initiative.  They petitioned the government for an exemption to the exports rules.

They got it.

The ONLY bad thing about this is that Firefox is covered under the Mozilla license.  The reason it's bad is because, with the GPL, ANY benefit you get must be passed on to EVERYONE.  I would love to see GPL'ed projects get this protection....

...oh wait, we just might.  Firefox has been sharing what they did to get the exemption and what they had to do to qualify.  So, potentially, any FOSS project just has to follow their map, and it's freedom for everyone....

Oh, Mr. Torvalds!  Assuming you haven't thought of it yet (highly unlikely), I have a suggestion for you....

These Are Not The Religious Rights You Are Looking For

Usually, when it comes to religion, I'll use the Holy Hand Grenade icon.  But this requires...something else....

Folks, meet Mr. Daniel Jones, a.k.a. Morda Hedol.  He is the founder of the worldwide Jedi religion, which boasts nearly a half million in membership.  He goes around spreading the philosophy of the Jedi and generally making people like me feel a lot better about ourselves.  Jones is having a shit fit over religious discrimination.  He went into a Tesco's supermarket and was escorted out because of his hood.  You know those cloak thingies the Jedi wear in the movies?  According to Jones', I guess, Jedi are required to wear their hood in public.  In private, they can take it off, but in public, the back and top of the head must be covered.  Tesco's said that, with this day in age of people wearing baseball caps, beanies, sunglasses, and other casual disguises, it can make identification difficult in the event of trouble.  No one else is allowed to cover their appearance, so ditch the hood.  Jones argued back that other more mainstream religious garb was allowed at the store as an expression of religion, so why couldn't a Jedi keep his hood on as his rules say?  Tesco's responded that plenty of Jedi in the movies go out in public without their hood on -- "Obi-Wan Kenobi, Yoda, and Luke Skywalker all appeared hoodless without ever going over to the Dark Side and we are only aware of the Emperor as one who never removed his hood"  (Tesco's apparently hires geeks.  I like these guys already).  They concluded, "If Jedi walk around our stores with their hoods on, they'll miss lots of special offers."

Jones is still huffing about it and is apparently trying to leverage the size of his following to force a major company to his will.  Well, I guess that makes him an official religion.  Although, how unlike the Jedi to pull a number like that.

Some General Video Game News

It just doesn't make sense to me to give each of these entries a seperate listing....

*  Guitar Hero 5 is squashing Beatles Rock Band like a grape.  Activision says they are selling 4 to 1 in the US, and 9 to 1 in some territories.  But Viacom isn't complaining.  25% of the inventory sold out in the first week.  "All You Need Is Love" has become the fastest selling Rock Band track after only two days, and the Beatles tracks have hit 60 million downloads already.  The special edition is expected to be sold out by November.  And here's the kicker -- that is exceeding their expectations, they didn't think Beatles Rock Band would be a hit.   Thank you, Viacom, for not thinking you needed a blue ocean against your rival.

*  NCSoft, based out of Good Korea, is prepping a new MMORPG, and they have pre-orders of nearly 400 000, enabling them to claim the biggest MMORPG launch of the year.  However, NCSoft is shutting down Dungeon Runners, an MMORPG geared for casual players, on December 31.  Subscribers are being offered free games and such for their trouble.

*  Nintendo's newest entries in the Pokemon series, HeartGold and SoulSilver ( that supposed to be a Douglas Adams reference?!?) came out in Japan this week, and have already moved 1.4 million copies.

*  Sony released a redesigned PS3 with a slim form factor and lower price to try to boost their flagging presence in the video game market (in some months, the PS2 was outselling the PS3.  And notice devs are still making new games for the PS2).  The shift was greeted by the Japanese buying 151 000 PS3's.  One week later, however, they only bought 55 344 PS3's.  In contrast, they bought 17 568 Wii's, the XBox 360 sold 7 568, and the PS2 sold 2 612.  Oh, and just for the record -- the DS and DSi sold a total of 77 677, while the PSP sold 18 375.  No stats on the GP2X Wiz, but I bet it's probably lower than the PS2....

*  Bioshock, the XBox360 and PC game with critical acclaim and a WTF ending, gets it's sequel on February 9, much earlier than projected.