Ed Smiley

The End of the Internet

Thirty years ago, they tried to block the VCR, claiming it "is to the American film producer and the American public as the Boston strangler is to the woman home alone." The VCR then went on to be a very significant source of revenue for Hollywood.

Now they are trying to do it again with the internet. Only this time, the result could be the end of Youtube, Twitter, and many other sites that rely on content generated by their users. It would make it a felony to stream "unlicensed" content, including cover performances, karaoke videos, video-game play-throughs, and so on.

Would you please help stop this terrible bill, before it destroys the internet? Ask your Congressmember to oppose the legislation.
Ed Smiley

important security update

A fraudulent https certificate, claiming to cover google's servers, was discovered in the wild. This certificate was issued by a valid Certificate Authority, DigiNotar. DigiNotar has reported a break-in that resulted in several fraudulent certificates, many of which they had discovered and revoked.

As a result of the news of the break-in, many web browser and OS publishers are removing DigiNotar's root certificate, protecting users against other fraudulent certificates issued by this authority.

Make sure you install your updates.

Mozilla's (Firefox) security notice: http://www.mozilla.org/security/announce/2011/mfsa2011-34.html
Ed Smiley

DVD/BluRay press releases

Does anyone know where I might be able to get ahold of DVD/BluRay release announcements or solicitations with all of the information that the publisher releases? The biggest pieces of information I am looking for are UPC and title, but at some point I am likely to be interested in other data as well. I know sites like tvshowsondvd and thedigitalbits get their information from somewhere. (Obviously, retailers would get solicitations from distributors or publishers.)
Ed Smiley

Internet blacklist bill

The Internet Blacklist bill is up for vote on Thursday in the Senate Judiciary Committee. Anyone in California, Vermont, Wisconson, New York, Minnesota, or Illinois, please sign the petition at http://demandprogress.org/, as your senators will be the key in deciding if the bill passes.

This bill would, in blatant violation of the Constitution, let the Attorney General create a blacklist of websites that every American ISP would be required to block. Wikileaks, Youtube, and others are all at risk. Human rights advocates, constitutional law experts, and the people who invented the Internet all spoken out against this bill, but some of the most powerful industries in the country are demanding that Congress rush it through.

Please pass word on to your friends as well.
Ed Smiley

Internet censorship? From the US?

--- Maybe.


Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and 16 co-sponsors have introduced S. 3804, the Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act (COICA) on Sept. 20, and it is currently being considered by the Senate Judiciary Committee. If passed, it would create two internet blacklists: one that ISPs are required to block, and a second which they are encouraged to block. The first, required list can be added to by a court, while the second list can be added to by the US Attorney General.

The stated goal is to combat copyright infringement, but how long would it be limited to such? If someone is infringing, go after them, don't block them. The United States condemns the likes of China and Iran for their internet censorship. Why are we trying to add it back home?
Ed Smiley


The US Patent office has had problems doing adequate prior-art research on new patent applications, particularly in the tech field. I just learned of a way you can help the USPTO assess the claims of pending patent applications: Peer to Patent. They've apparently been around for two years already.
Ed Smiley

Windows Security Update

Today is outside Microsoft's typical update schedule. Yet, today they pushed out a patch for a security vulnerability that affects every version of windows, due to it being actively targeted.


The vulnerability deals with how Windows parses shortcuts. If you browse to a directory with a specially-crafted shortcut, it could cause code to be executed on your system.

It is STRONGLY suggested you install this update, if you don't have automatic updates enabled.
Ed Smiley

YouTube announces 4k video support

YouTube announced today that they have added support for 4k video (the fmt code is 38, btw). Unfortunately, even ignoring the fact that people don't have monitors that big, and the decoding complexity, they have another problem. The sample clips offered do not have a high enough bitrate. Their first sample is "Life in the Garden". The 4k version is encoded at a low enough bitrate that it looks no better than if it had been upscaled with nearest-neighbor.

Here is a still frame from Life in the Garden:

If you look at the full-size version, you should be able to see the blocks I refer to.

While offering 4k is an interesting gimmick, I don't think it is really viable. YouTube seems to have a "more pixels is better" thing going on.
Ed Smiley

DVD case frustration...

In my DVD collection, I occasionally wind up with a broken case. When this occurs, I like to replace it with a case that is as close as possible to the original. This is sometimes a problem, due to changes in the DVD market. Stores are pushing for more compact packaging for box sets all the time. We now have decent cases that are one normal case width wide, but can hold 6 (or more) discs without trouble.

However, due to the push for higher density packaging, older, bulkier packaging goes out of production and becomes harder to find. I have a few series sets in gigantic Nexpak ALPHApak cases that hold 6 dvds, but are something like 3 to 4 inches thick. One of these has a broken clip on the hub, so the disc keeps wanting to fall out and roll around inside the case. I really want to replace this case, but I want to use the same size case, so the trap sheet (the outer artwork insert) will fit. However, Nexpak no longer makes this size ALPHApak case, and I can't seem to find ANYONE with any stock remaining.

Does anyone have any suggestions on what can be done?
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