Weekly News Roundup (31 May 2009)

A very quiet week this one. I did write one guide that may or may not be useful – it’s a HDTV viewing distance calculator thingy. I’ve been using a spreadsheet made by someone over at AV Forums, but I thought wouldn’t it be nice if there was an online thingy, but one that’s not too difficult to use either. Basically enter in your TV’s resolution, size and you will get the “ideal” viewing distance based on the human eye’s capabilities to perceive detail. 

I didn’t write a mid-week blog either, so to make up for it, I’m going to post something here in the intro. I’ve been playing Fallout 3 with the new Broken Steel DLC (and before you ask, no, this wasn’t the reason why I didn’t manage to find any worthwhile news items or write a mid-week blog), and I’ve come up with a “Top 10 Things You’ve Played Too Much Fallout 3”, for your enjoyment (in no particular order):

These babies will be worth their weight in gold in the Fallout 3 future

These babies will be worth their weight in gold in the Fallout 3 future

  1. You switch from canned drinks to bottled because you need to buy a new metal helmet, and you need the caps 
  2. You get strange looks at the gun store when you ask the clerk for a flamer, missiles and mini-nukes
  3. You dig out your high school science text book because you think reading it you can increase your sciences skills by 2
  4. You’ve started hording bobby pins
  5. The city you most want to visit on the east coast is no longer Liberty City, but Capital Wasteland.
  6. You approach the subway with trepidation, wishing that you had a ghoul mask with you
  7. When you were watching the Obama inauguration on TV, with all those nice crowd shots, you keep on expecting a Super Mutant Behemoth to show up and you were slightly disappointed that it didn’t happen
  8. You now look forward to the nuclear holocaust
  9. When you have that dream you always have about murdering people, it is now all done through VATS
  10. You voted for the Enclave in the 2008 Presidential Elections


Let’s get started with this very short news roundup, starting with copyright news. Let’s start with two separate news reports which seem to indicate the same phenomenon – that DRM actually causes more piracy.

Piracy: The safer, easier, faster alternative!

Piracy: The safer, easier, faster alternative!

First up is a landmark UK study that showed that people often had to resort to piracy to counter the ill effects of DRM, despite being willing to pay for the products. This included one sight-impaired woman who had to pirate a copy of the Bible in electronic form because the version she bought from Amazon did not work with her text-to-speech software. The other article deals with video games, and how strong video game DRM also helps to make the pirated version much more attractive to potential buyers, and thus, promote piracy. Many of us has been in or knows someone who has had to break DRM just so they can use a product, which they paid for, in the way that they want. Be it making a backup of  a DVD, or wanting to play a PC game without the original disc. The one thing I like most about purchasing legal products is the higher quality and ease of use. Buying a DVD online or at a store is easy, as it sticking the disc into the drive and pressing play. Downloading a movie takes a long time, you may get a corrupt download, and you will have to burn to your own DVD-R (sometimes converting to DVD first), which may or may not work in your DVD player. Of course, if watching a legal DVD meant that you had to enter a serial-key, do online authentication, and then it limits which players you can play the disc on (this is what happens with many PC games these days), then pirating becomes the easier alternative, and price hasn’t even come into it yet. The legal version should always be more user friendly, higher quality and more fully featured than the pirated version.

Zeropaid theorizes that copyright groups are actually just making up stats about the amount of money lost to piracy. Even if they’re not making them up, and coming up with them using scientific methods and sampling, the numbers are still useless. There is no way to tell if pirates were at any point willing to pay for the content, and so any “money lost” model is going to be very questionable. There was a recent Australian news article which said that illegal downloads are up due to the poor economy. This suggest that people are pirating stuff because they can’t afford to pay for the legal content, and so no money is actually lost from piracy, the money is lost due to the economy. So if the content owners manage to find the perfect DRM to stop all piracy, they would not see increased profits because people still can’t afford their products (and because “perfect DRM” costs more, then even less people would be buying their products, or they would be making less money). I think if people have money, they will pay for things, even if it just part of their retail therapy routines. That is of course what I described one paragraph ago happens, that pirated products become easier to use and more fully featured than their legal counterparts, then people will seek the path of least resistance.

High Definition

In HD news, Vista SP2 adds native Blu-ray data writing support. Not that anybody will use it of course, because would you trust your $15 Blu-ray disc to something Microsoft has made as an afterthought to a dying OS?

HDMI: There are now 10 different versions available

HDMI: There are now 10 different versions available

Then there’s the news that HDMD 1.4 will be released soon. Before you all moan about yet another HDMI version, this update will add quite a few new things and make HDMI very much the cable that does everything (think the home theatre’s equivalent of USB). Built-in Ethernet, support for Higher Than Full HD resolutions, increased bandwidth for 3D transmissions, micro HDMI connectors and an audio-return channel for two way audio communication. There’s even a version of the cable for the car. With so many features, there will now be 5 different versions of HDMI: standard, high speed, standard with Ethernet, high speed with Ethernet and the car one. While the extra features are good and needed for even the short term, it’s a shame they couldn’t have worked all this out before HDMI became the industry standard, because this kind of consumer confusion will cause a lot of problems, and even experts may be stumped at trying to connect their equipment together if they all have different HDMI version ports and using different HDMI version cables (not just the 1.3, 1.4 stuff, but also the 5 different types of 1.4). By my calculations, this means 10 different HDMI cables being used by people (1.0, 1.1, 1.2, 1.3, 1.3a, and the five 1.4 versions) – and that’s not really acceptable. At the very least, they could ease worries by stating that 1.5 won’t be out for another 10 years or something.


And while this news is gaming related, it probably belongs to the HD section as well, but since I don’t have any other gaming news, I’m going to put it here. UK Xbox 360’s (and in Ireland as well) will now be able to stream Sky TV channels through the game console. Now, I’m a huge Arsenal fan, and somehow playing a bit of FIFA 09 on my 360 and then tuning into an Arsenal match without even turning off the console appeals to me. But of course, I don’t live in the UK (or Ireland), and so I’ve stuck with the Australian Live Marketplace that doesn’t even have any videos to buy. One can only hope that some kind of deal is made between Microsoft and the Australian version of Sky, Foxtel, to have something similar (and then for my ISP to make a deal with Foxtel to give away free bandwidth for such a service). One can dream.

This ends this week’s rather brisk WNR. More news (or not) next week.


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