CBDTPA

Sen. Fritz Hollings has introduced another recording and movie industry abomination: the Consumer Broadband and Digital Television Promotion Act (CBDTPA). The bill would require programmers and software firms to embed government-approved copy-protection schemes in all of their products. More here.

System recovery with Knoppix

For future reference. “This article shows how to access a non-booting Linux system with a Knoppix CD, get read-write permissions on configuration files, create and manage partitions and filesystems, and copy files to various storage media and over the network. You can use Knoppix for hardware and system configuration detection and for creating and managing partitions and filesystems. You can do it all from Knoppix’s excellent graphical utilities, or from the command line.”

Kids Play

EGM gets nine kids, ages 10 to 13, to play classic video games from the 70s and 80s and writes down what they say with hilarious results.

On Tetris:

Tim: Which button do I press to make the blocks explode?

EGM: Sorry, they don’t explode.

Becky: This is boring. Maybe if it had characters and stuff and different levels, it would be OK. If things blew up or something or—

Sheldon: If there were bombs.

Becky: Yeah, or special bricks. Like, if a yellow brick touched a red brick it would blow up and you’d have to start over.

John: Why haven’t I won yet? I’ve paired up so many of the same color.

EGM: Don’t worry about colors.

John: I just lined up six of the same color. Why didn’t they blow up?

EGM: Nothing blows up.

Salon and Wired on Broadcast Flag

A couple of good articles on the broadcast flag today.

The MPAA is counting on your apathy. It’s precisely because the flag seems, on the surface, so innocuous that the studios are having an easy time pushing it to regulators in Washington. And the regulators are biting: According to close observers of the process, the Federal Communications Commission will soon adopt a rule requiring all technologies capable of receiving digital TV signals — everything from HDTV sets to DVD players to general-purpose PCs — to recognize and protect flagged TV shows.

If adopted, such a rule is sure to cause a great deal of hand-wringing in the PC industry, which is, increasingly, counting on the convergence between entertainment and computing to push sales. The last thing hardware manufacturers want is for Hollywood to be able to legislate how computers are put together. According to people familiar with the rule the FCC is pondering, the broadcast flag would force all computer companies to make a stark choice: Either add digital television capabilities to their machines and then, as some critics of Hollywood say, “weld the hood shut,” making sure that everything else in the PC — the DVD recorder, the hard drive — is sealed with copy-protection, or stay away from HDTV altogether, sacrificing sales.

If you haven’t already, please take action on this issue. The MPAA is going to win this fight if the FCC doesn’t receive a torrent of messages before the end of the month.

The Mystery of SWG

Timothy Burke, author of the “Sevent Deadly Sins of SWG” posts on the Star Wars: Galaxies forums, has this final scathing critique of the game.

Star Wars: Galaxies curdles faster than any other MMOG in my experience, and I do not think that is because I’m jaded and cynical about the genre, unlike a lot of the players. I still believe that MMOGs have enormous potential to be fun and engaging, and I believe they remain the best place to realize the more profound artistic, cultural and social possibilities of computer games as a whole.

The major research question posed to me by Star Wars: Galaxies is no longer about virtual economies, emergent systems, or anything similar. The question is how a massively-multiplayer game that has the rights to the single most popular licensed property of the late 20th Century, the backing of a company with deep pockets, and a dream team of developers can end up being in the absolute best estimation no better than any other game of its kind, and by many accounts, including my own, among the worst.

I can’t refute any of Burke’s criticisms but I’m still inexplicably addicted to the game and having a good time when I play. I think it helps being in a cool PA. With this article and a highly negative follow-up review at GameSpy, SWG has been getting a lot of bad press lately. It’s sad to see so much potential go untapped but I’m still optimistic that the dev team will get its act together and respond to these critiques in a meaningful way.

Stop the MPAA’s Broadcast Flag

“Hollywood is at it again, trying to control the design of new digital technologies. If the motion picture studios have their way, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will force all future televisions to include Hollywood-approved “content protection” technologies. Fair use, innovation and competition will suffer. What’s more, the “broadcast flag” technology that the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) has proposed is so weak that it will do nothing to stem Internet redistribution of television programs. In fact, the only people hurt by this are legitimate consumers, innovators and researchers.” Take action at EFF now.