Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Digital Rights Media (DRM)

WMA and DRM ... What a crock! Just Give Me MP3s!

Last night my wife and I decided it was time to finally dive into the digital music download world. I'm quite "techie" and I think even borderline "Techno-Geek", so this should be a walk-in-the-park.

We bought a MP3 player <:-P and we have been busy extracting songs from most of our CD collection (which is pretty extensive).

But there were a few songs that Andrea wanted that we didn't have on our CDs :-?, so after much searching on-line for the best deal we decided on buying WMAs (Microsoft's Windows Media Audio format) from, these files have embedded DRM (Digital Rights Media) and gave us the right to:

  • Download the music to 1 computer and back up music to 2 additional computers
  • Make 10 burns to a CD
  • Make unlimited transfers to a portable device

It is a little restrictive, but tolerable.

The actual purchasing of the five (5) songs and the subsequent downloading was painless, almost even a pleasure. :) Kudos to Wal-Mart.

Then Came The DRM Monster! >:)

After the music was on the PC that we had executed this entire transaction on we tried to play them in the latest Windows Media Player (WMP), they all played correctly.

Then we tried to burn them to a CD, three (3) of them burned fine, the other two (2) files said we didn't have rights to burn them... :-O

WHAT! We just legally paid for the right to burn these files, and it says we don't have that right! ARGHHH!

OK, so we decided to copy the files to a different PC over our network. They copied fine, we tried to play the five (5) files in the 'new' computer using the latest WMP, the three (3) files that the first computer was able to burn would not play on the new computer, again it said we didn't have the right to do it (X(GRRRRRR!).

But the weird part was that the two (2) files that wouldn't burn on the first computer, would play on the 2nd computer (what's going on here?). But ,like the first computer, it would not burn them to CD.

8-| I can understand that the RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) doesn't want people to steal music, but the restrictions and enforcement of DRM is flawed, and people are not getting what they are expecting when they lay down good money.

Having the software that is on your computer act as judge, jury, and executioner is like having your car shut down if you were going 36 MPH in a 35 MPH zone. In my case it is like the car shutting down when I was going 5 MPH because it thought I was going too fast.

To The Rescue

I'm sure there are a number of ways around the DRM problem, I found one that is simple and elegant.

I found a program called tunebite that allows you to record anything that your sound card in your PC plays, you have the option of a few different formats, including MP3 (:D yea!). This saved us and our investment, we will still voluntarily abide by the restrictions listed above that we agreed to when we bought the music, but I think I can do it myself better than software from Microsoft.

Problem Solved (?)

My wife has since called me to let me know that Wal-Mart has fixed the problem, it seems that the version of WMP we were using was too up-to-date :-O, Wal-Mart sent us a new license and she says everything seems to be working fine.
To Microsoft: <heavy sarcasim> Great job making your software backwards compatible 8-|.

Future Purchases

Will we purchase music on-line in the future? :) Without a doubt.

Will we purchase that music from or other stores that only sell DRM embedded music? :-? Maybe ... it would help if they change to selling a format of audio file that does not contain DRM.

What will we do? :-? Right now I think we will use a prepaid MasterCard, filled with $100-$200, on sites that do not have such restrictions on the music you download.

What sites will we use? :-? Right now ALLOFMP3, Audio Find, and MP3 Spy are at the top of the list. They are Russian, and I do not feel comfortable enough to use a real credit card at these sites (with rumors of credit card fraud, who could blame us). Although I feel good enough about them to use prepaid credit cards to limit or eliminate any financial damage that could be done.

Wal-Mart, RIAA, et al: Please take note of this incident (put on my Mr. Potato Head 'Angry Eyes' X( [Toy Story reference]), and try to come up with a better plan to sell music. Look at the Russian sites I mentioned above to get a clue about what people want, and are willing pay for.

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Gas Prices ... WOW!
Gas prices in my area just went over $3.00 a gallon, I'm sure it is a similar story around the US. And it is just going to get worse.

What is going on?

In an age of record profits for Oil Companies, this can't be justified by some damage from the hurricane.

Why isn't there some kind of investigation?

There are other ways to produce oil right now without taking it from the ground (National Geographic article). It would only cost a fraction of what the war in Iraq is costing, plus there wouldn't be the loss of life.

There is even Bio Diesel Fuel that allows us to make diesel fuel from crops such as corn.

There are always the different gas/electric hybrid vehicles that are available. Even if they are a little more expensive.

There is even a car that doesn't require any gas. I would love to see The Air Car come to the US, I would be one of the first people in line to buy it.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

A Day at the ZOO

We took the kids to the Cleveland Zoo the other day, the kids had a great time.

Though the experience really made me feel my age! Walking all day, up and down hills, carrying a child most of the time, really took a lot out of me!

I'm not in the best shape of my life, perhaps I should start working out a little.

I think we will go to some other Zoos this year also, Andrea (my wife) wants to go to the Detroit Zoo, and a few others in Ohio, and the Pittsburgh Zoo (in that preferential order but not in that chronological order).

Tuesday, May 17, 2005


SpIM (or IM Spam):
Spam is out of control, I use several methods to keep my exposure to Spam to a minimum, but some still gets through.

I use disposable, self destructing email addresses (from SpamGourmet) when I sign up at places that I think might generate Spam.

I use a bayesian filter to catch most of the junk that makes it to my mailbox.

I am careful about where I give out my personal (home) email address, and I don't post it online.

I use a couple of online Web mail accounts (from Gmail and Yahoo!) for some of my dealings online, and I trust their Spam blocking features to do a good job of keeping most of the Spam out of those accounts' main inbox.

A while ago I found that I forgot one hole that Spam found a way in on: Instant Messaging (IM).

Yes, as most people who use IM now know, Spam has found it's way to IM, most people refer to it as SpIM.

Unfortunately I can't get rid of IM, we use it at work to communicate not just with people in the next cubicle, but also with people in other buildings spread through the county, and with vendors and support personnel from companies in other states.

Shortly after I started getting SpIMmed I started sending non-anonymous Warnings to the SpIMmers to try to shut them down faster. All that got me was more SpIM.

So what was I to do:
I can't get rid of my IM, I still need to use IM.

So after much thought I decided that the only people that I really want to IM with are already on my Buddy List, so I got into my preferences and under Privacy I set the option 'Allow on my Buddy List' to contact me.

This results in a complete blocking of everybody who is not in my Buddy List from contacting me, which includes the SpIMmers. The only drawback is the if somebody new wants to IM me, I need to put them on my Buddy List first.

Is this a perfect solution: No.

Am I happy enough with it to keep doing it: Yes.

Monday, March 14, 2005


We finely got TiVo last week and all I can say is that I am very disappointed ... that I did not get it sooner!

TiVo is GREAT!!!
I especially like changing the "Advance" (the button you press to catch you up to real time) to a "30 Second Skip" button (which I use a lot). On your remote, just hit:

I have DirecTV, and the TiVo unit that they installed is a 70 hour Series 2 R10, I'm looking forward to getting it on my home network so that I can view JPEGs on my TV and also listen to my MP3s on my TV too. I plan on using JavaHMO, a free and open source alternative to TiVo's Home Media Option (HMO), as the media server on my PCs that my TiVo box will connect to.

Saturday, February 05, 2005

This entry is just to let you know that I have not forgotten about my Web-log (blog), I just live the wolrd most boring life.

If I would have put something from my recent life in the blog, you would have never returned.

Although at work I am as busy as a person can be. My title is Database Administrator (DBA), but we have been doing more on the Web lately. Now I also wear several other 'hats'.

In addition to my DBA duties, I do programming, Web development, Web master, Web programming, graphics/image editing, and more.

We used to have two DBAs, but the other one left, and left me with all of the DBA duties.

We just recently got one x86 Computer running SuSE Linux, Apache2, PHP (wich I am really starting to love), and Tomcat to serv two tifferent Domain names (and more in the near future), and splitting not just the static HTML, but also the Tomcat (Java) pages, and HTTPS (SSL).

Some of you may be thinking, "Oh, that's easy."

Well, I'm here to say, "Where were you when I needed you!?!" It was a royal pain in my bottom for a few weeks. I'm still not sure we have it done the best way, but it works.

I guess I'll survive ... somehow.