February 29, 2008
There seems to be more than meets the eye behind the Stage6 closure than I had assumed in my previous two posts.
Far from a money-losing concern, Stage6 was apparently making DivX millions of dollars. Stage6 required the installation of a player, and along with the installation, users were offered the option of installing a Yahoo toolbar. Apparently, DivX was earning millions from their deal with Yahoo for this. However, infighting among the DivX owners over what to do with Stage6 led to the resignation of the key people running Stage6. Left without anyone competent to take the reins, the site had to be closed down.
The DivX Inc stock has also taken a nosedive. And it’s a pretty dramatic plunge too.
Filed in Opinion, Software.
February 29, 2008
I previously mentioned that Stage 6 was going to close at the end of February. When I moseyed along to their blog, I expected to see a lot of people mourning the death of a great site the way I did. Instead, I saw a lot of vulgar language cursing Stage 6 for closing.
I don’t understand these people. They got the services Stage6 provided for free. They didn’t pay a cent. As far as I know, Stage6 had no paid subscription scheme or anything like that. Why are they cursing and swearing at Stage 6? The behavior is like that of people who believe that the world owes them a living.
I’m still mourning Stage 6′s closure, for the reasons I gave in my previous post.
Upate: more info about the closure in my follow-up post Incompetence of DivX Owners Killed the Goose that Laid the Golden Egg: Stage6.
Filed in Opinion, Outraged.
February 29, 2008
Ars Technica has an article on how Google has told the ISO committee members that OOXML is “an insufficient and unnecessary standard” that “doesn’t meet the criteria required for a globally-accepted standard”. There are also some technical issues with OOXML like its use of Windows-specific binary blobs for printer configuration data (whatever they are). “Google does not feel that DIS 29500 is of sufficient quality to qualify as an ISO standard and we urge the National Bodies to vote ‘no’ on the fast-tracking of this specification.”
Hopefully a call from a big and reputable company like Google will be heeded.
OOXML is Microsoft’s attempt to make sure its proprietary document format gets standardization. It’s trying to prevent ODF, which is the open document format used by many software, from being used by governments and companies everywhere because it wants its Office software to be the only software available everywhere. Once the latter is true, it will have a stranglehold on the industry and control the pricing.
Filed in News, Software.
February 28, 2008
The Drupal 6.1 release is out. Interestingly, Drupal 6 users are encouraged to do a full update – that is, to upload every single file to their server again. They have a patch updater, but that only plugs the security holes. And that updater leaves Drupal “in an unversioned state, confusing the update status module”. There’s no set of files that can upgrade Drupal 6.0 to 6.1 cleanly, the way it’s easy to update WordPress by simply uploading a few files.
Drupal really has a long way to go to get up to the usability of WordPress.
Filed in Web Design, Software.
February 27, 2008
Chris McElroy has filed a class-action lawsuit against Network Solutions for its unsavory practice of secretly buying up domains that visitors to its site search for. The suit says that the “fraudulent and deceptive” practice is intended to “trap consumers into paying its grossly inflated domain name registration fees”.
I’m glad someone is fed up enough to take up a lawsuit against unscrupulous registrars like this. If no action is taken, other registrars will soon start doing the same thing, and it will no longer be safe to check domain names at registrar sites.
Filed in Web Design, Opinion, News.
February 26, 2008
This is really sad news: Stage6, the free video sharing using DivX, is going to close at the end of February. It’s really sad, because it was one of the better video sharing sites around. Unlike YouTube’s crappy video quality, Stage6′s videos are high quality, and you can zoom to full screen without seeing any pixelation if the person who created the video uploaded a good quality version. YouTube’s videos can never be anything but crappy since the resolution is restricted to 320×240.
I guess with the demise of Stage6, I can finally uninstall my DivX. The only reason I installed it was to watch Stage6, which doesn’t work with the free Xvid codec.
Filed in Video, Entertainment, News.
February 26, 2008
Service Pack 1 for Vista, which I talked about before, has not yet been released to the general public, but the word is already out that in spite of all its touted performance improvements, it is still 40% slower than XP on “a variety of basic productivity tasks”.
I’m beginning to think that Microsoft should just give up hope on Vista. Like I said in my post on Vista’s usability issues, the OS is already plagued with a bad reputation. This kind of reputation is very hard to undo. Everyone is looking to SP 1 as the do-or-die magic pill to fix all the annoyances they have experienced with Vista, and unfortunately, it will never be able to fulfil their expectations. You need a huge revamp to do that.
I know this will never happen, but Microsoft should consider returning XP to the shop shelves while it works on the next version of their OS. And hardware vendors should seriously offer XP as an option with all their off-the-shelf computers. I know many people who have decided not to upgrade their computers for the time being because Vista is the only OS available for the new hardware.
Filed in Software, Windows.
February 26, 2008
Are you the kind that is accident-prone, spilling coffee all over yourself and getting food stains everywhere? Soon, you will be able to get into the sun, and your clothes will clean themselves! Australian researchers are working on a way to coat fibers with titanium dioxide crystals which have the ability to break down food and dirt in sunlight. This substance, titanium dioxide, is apparently already used in things like toothpaste, sunscreens and paint. It is harmless to the skin and so is suitable for use in this way.
So throw away your washing machines and say hello to the 21st century.
(You know I’m kidding, right? The process is real. It’s just not ready yet.)
Filed in News.
February 26, 2008
News about Pakistan banning YouTube beccause of content that it deemed offensive to Islam, and then accidentally blocking YouTube from the world as a result of the use of erroneous internet protocols is probably old hat by now.
The thing that puzzles me is that such a thing is actually possible. That is, it is possible for an ISP to hijack the address of a website located in some server not located in its country, and block that entire server from the Internet. Wasn’t the Internet designed to be more robust than that? Wasn’t it created initially as a sort of defence network for the US or something? So much for the fabled routing abilities of the Internet.
So what’s to stop one country at war with another from taking out the other country’s entire Internet infrastructure? Without access to the Internet, can they even hope to repair the damage?
Actually, these are just questions. I don’t know the answers [sheepish grin].
Filed in News, Opinion.
February 25, 2008
Gregerson wrote about how Vilana Financial and Vilana Realty used his photo without permission and then tried to bully him when he accused them of infringing his copyright. They then sued him for $1 million dollars for defammation. He countersued and won the case.
Incidentally, in case you think the title was in my own words, they were actually the words of the judge about Vilana’s letter demanding that Gregerson take down his just accusation: she said that the letter “…appears to be a bullying tactic designed to cause Gregerson to refrain from making statements which Vilana knew Gregerson was entitled to make.”
Actually, the judge apparently had a lot to say about the character of Vilana’s president Andrew Vilenchik (quote taken from Gregerson’s site):
Vilenchik’s testimony was inconsistent and full of contradictions (Findings of Fact no. 14)…Vilenchik’s credibility was further undermined through the character testimony of several witnesses during trial…[one witness testified] Vilenchik has a reputation for being highly deceptive and saying one thing and then doing another. (Findings of Fact no. 15).
There’s more. Note that in the quote below, the “Defendants” refer to Vilana.
… the statement that Defendants were suspected of fraud and forgery was a true statement of fact…
Wow. I didn’t know that judges were so point-blank in pointing out the fraudulentness and untrustworthiness of the characters of people in a civil suit.
I’m glad Gregerson won the suit. But perhaps he should have got a lawyer. After all, when he won the suit, Vilana would have had to pay his legal costs. Anything to jack up the costs for people who think they can abuse the legal system to bully the underdog.
By the way, I only quoted a small fraction of the juicy bits. You should read it for yourself.
Filed in Outraged, Opinion, News.
February 24, 2008
Since I’m on a roll talking about censorship, I might as well mention that I learned that Finland is using its anti-child-porn laws to censor websites it doesn’t like, including anti-censorship sites, a computer repair service, a Thai Windows advice forum, and an online doll store, all of which don’t have any apparent connection to porn. Of course it’s still easy to circumvent the blocks by using anonymous proxies or changing your DNS to use another DNS service, but that’s beside the point. When countries are allow to censor things secretly, with no accountability to the public, what’s to prevent them from censoring things they are not given a mandate to censor in the first place?
Filed in News, Outraged.
February 24, 2008
If you’re trying to reach Wikileaks, you can do so through its IP address 22.214.171.124, or to save you the trouble, here’s the link to the real Wikileaks site itself. The more I think about what Julius Baer (of the money laundering bank fame/infamy) did, the more ridiculous it becomes. I mean, why did they try to censor the entire Wikileaks over a single document? Why not just issue a take-down notice for that document? As it is, the domain name is not accessible, but the site along with the document incriminating Julius Baer is still online. Not only that, in trying to take down a public service, now everybody knows about the document and are rushing to read it.
Is this stupid or not?
Filed in Outraged, Opinion.
February 22, 2008
The Netscape browser will be officially dead as of 1 March 2008, with no new updates or support. This draws to a close an era that began in the 90s during the rise of the world wide web. Netscape was the second browser I ever used, the first being a text-based browser called lynx that few people today know, and I remember being introduced to it by a friend who was incredibly excited about it. Back then it was in its beta version or something. I think it was version 0.9. But I’ve longed stopped using Netscape. As have the rest of the world. I guess most young people only know the name in passing, and not from personal experience.
Filed in Software.
February 21, 2008
The Swiss bank Julius Baer apparently did the Internet no-no. They tried to take down the public service wikileaks.org domain. The latter blew the whistle on the money laundering activities that a Julius Baer branch was supposed to have been involved in. Julius Baer got a Californian judge to order the domain registrar to remove the domain from its DNS. Stupid move. Haven’t these big
bullies corporations learned anything about the Internet? The moment you persecute a small fry, a huge backlash results. As one commentator said, not only has the move been completely ineffective – there are tons of mirror sites now available online. They have actually increased publicity to the entire scandal.
And now when one thinks of Julius Baer, one associates it with money laundering.
Filed in News, Opinion, Outraged.
February 20, 2008
I couldn’t believe my eyes today when I read the report that the International Telecommunication Unit said that sabotage was not ruled out in the recent damage of five undersea cables, reducing internet access in several parts of the world. As you know, the conspiracy theories flew thick and fast after the series of reports of the cable cuts, and like many others, I was thinking it was just tinfoil hat thinking.
But it looks like it may be true after all.
Filed in News.