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All About The Tech (Part Deux)

Posted by | Posted in Geek Stuff, Technology | Posted on 18-02-2009

“The first law of robotics is: A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm. The second law of robotics is… we do not talk about Fight Club.”

There’s a lot going on in the tech world at the moment, it seems. Yesterday saw the release of (and abundance of news stories about) Windows Mobile 6.5. Windows Mobile is the OS used in a lot of PDAs and handheld data device, and even some phones. Asides from my PDA at work, which I never seem to have for more than 5 minutes before someone robs it, is the only experience of Windows Mobile I’ve had. It seems fairly good as Windows goes, so I’ve got no complaints. I’ve also got no news, opinions, or cares about it either.

More importantly, at least for me, are the issues currently surrounding Facebook and their Terms Of Service (or Terms and Conditions… or whatever). Over the last few days, Facebook changed their ToS in order to remove bits and pieces of them that referred to members owning anything they post on Facebook. The reason behind this is that they decided to leave behind Wall Posts, messages, and all that other bumf, made by any user that decides to delete their account. It’s quite obvious really – if you write on someone’s Wall, but later decide to leave Facebook and delete your account, the person who’s Wall you wrote on might still like to keep your message. After all, it’s their message, in much the same way that you can’t delete an email you send to someone just because you decide to. It’s their email – they can do what they like with it.

However, as you can probably guess, by allowing this to happen, Facebook would be breaking the parts of it’s own ToS that state that “users have the right to delete any and all information that they submit to Facebook”. (That’s not an actual quote, by the way, just a simplification of what it said).

By leaving old messages on other people’s accounts after yours is deleted, Facebook isn’t directly following their ToS. However, that’s only true if you make an assumption – and that assumption is that someone actually wants their messages to be deleted from other people’s profiles should their own profile be deleted. Personally, I couldn’t care less, but it seems that some people are bothered by it.

After a while, people started to see this as less of an attempt to stick to their own ToS, and more of an attempt to try and become owners of material and content uploaded to Facebook. People assumed that if Facebook doesn’t have to delete all information about you (or if you can’t delete your own information – which simply isn’t true, I might add) then it’s because Facebook plans to own your data forever.

What these nincompoops fail to realise is that virtually every website that you sign up to actually follows the same general course of action, and does explicitly state that they own the copyright to everything that gets recorded on, uploaded to, or published by, their website. Quite why these people are targetting Facebook in particular I don’t know.

Still, as of today, Facebook has reverted to it’s old ToS. It’s only temporary, until facebook can “sort out the issues”, which basically means that it’s temporary until their PR campaign and spin doctors can help people realise they’re making a massive deal over nothing.

Right, onwards and upwards. I mentioned yesterday that charges were being filed against The Pirate Bay, and that the trial was expected to last around three weeks (although I didn’t specifically mention that part). After only a day, half of the charges have already been dropped. It’s not surprising really, but it’s rather unheard of, as the article states. Let’s hope the courts see sense and realise that the four guys who started The Pirate Bay are NOT responsible for the actions of it’s users. If everyone who ever offered to make goods or offered services were to be held responsible for the illegal actions of anyone who uses those goods or services, then nobody would ever make or do anything. They’d be too worried that people can’t be trusted enough to stick to the law, and that they’d be sued every five seconds for the actions of others that they simply can’t control.

I smell desperation. Record companies in particular are greedy mofo’s at the best of times, so they’re starting to panic as they realise that their precious, precious profits are marginally being eaten into. To be honest, I find it ridiculous how they can even attempt to tell us how much money they’re losing. Like the rest of us, they don’t own a special crystal ball that can tell them what they are going to earn in the future, and so they’ve got no hard evidence that piracy is affecting them as much as they say anyway. Sure, they can make estimations, but people need to remember that they’re just that – estimations. Should piracy disappear overnight, there’s no guaruntee people will start spending more money, especially in the current economic climate.

What’s more, is the fact that you never hear the artists themselves complaining about it. As far as I can tell, the artists suffer very little from piracy, unless of course they get paid a percentage of sales. But, as you probably know, the majority of the money earnt from record sales go straight into the pockets of the fat-cats, and the artists see very little little of it anyway, so it stands to reason that it’s the fat-cats who are kicking up the biggest stink. If I remember rightly, Nine Inch Nails took matters into their own hands and released a recent album using their MySpace page and website. Another group before them (I forget the name now, but they’re just as popular as NiN) released an album of new material straight onto the net, and let the users pay as much or as little as they wanted for it. And user’s paid. While a lot paid the minimum amount, many paid full retail price for it. And to top it all off, the album was released on the more traditional CD format a while later, and people went out and bought that too – simply because they got to sample the album before paying full price for it.

So how exactly do the record companies and film studios decide how much money they’re losing exactly? I’d like to see some hard facts.

Two pieces of mobile phone-related news today – firstly, mobile phone manufacturers have all agreed upon a universal charger specification which means that you’ll be able to charge any mobile with any charger. Secondly, and fittingly, the second mobile phone to use Google’s Android operating system has been announced. The first one, T-Mobile’s G1, was released last year, and people have decidedly loved it. There’s already over 800 user-built apps available for download for the OS, and with more phones being built using the system in the future, the mobile app industry is really going to take off. It’s the fastest-growing area of application programming around at the moment, and with the reputation that Google has, the OS is going to be popular.

There’s been many a discussion on how a mobile OS fits into Google’s overall gameplan, as they’ve said before they’re not interested in deveoping a desktop OS, but I personally believe that a free, ad-supported mobile is on the way. If Google can effectively give away a mobile phone for free, but recoup the costs using in-built advertising, then they’re onto a winner. They do the same for most of their online services, such as GMail, and so why wouldn’t it work on a phone. (And being open-source, I can see one or two sneaky deveolpers porting a verion of the AdBlock Firefox extension onto the OS to block ads completely.)

‘Citing times ahead!

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