Further proof that next-gen optical formats are horrid

(via CDFreaks)

In case you had any thoughts about buying a Blu-Ray or HD-DVD player as soon as the first such devices hit the street, please reconsider.  The first generation of these new hi-definition formats will not be fully functional:

As HD-DVD and Blu-ray are getting ready for their launch under the interim license agreement for AACS copy protection, all the first round of players launched under this agreement will not offer any managed copy support, regardless of what interfaces the player may have and no firmware updates will be made available to offer such support either.  Basically, all players released under the interim license will function as basic players.

“But Randy,” you may say, “I don’t plan on copying next-gen optical media.  Why would I care if managed copy support is not available?”

Well, for one, leaving out this feature means the devices are not specification-level complete.  I personally have no use for hardware that is released before a spec is complete and functionally buildable.  Furthermore, once the spec is finalized, these first-gen devices won’t be upgradeable.  If anything changes in the spec that requires certain managed copy support features to be present, you’ll have a high-end paperweight which will be unable to play the media it was purchased to play.

In the finalised AACS specification, a minimum level of managed copy support will be mandatory.  Despite early concerns about Blu-ray’s additional copy protection layers – BD Plus and ROM Mark, these should not directly affect the format’s ability to handle managed copy.  Users who are interested in equipment supporting managed copy are advised to wait until the time comes when the AACS spec is finalised and players start supporting this.

Sure, I’m probably over-reacting.  But media companies don’t care about consumers.  If there was concern for consumers, the Sony rootkit fiasco never would have happened.  Don’t let these companies sell you something that isn’t complete.  Don’t give your money up for equipment based on unfinished specifications unless the hardware you buy is guaranteed upgradeable to final specifications.  Don’t let the companies get away with screwing early adopters just to get hardware out by an announced deadline.  Demand finished products, especially when the device is supposedly better than what you have now.  Wait for final specifications before you put down your money.

[tags]HD-DVD, Blu-Ray, consumer abuse[/tags]

Verbatim launches undersized flash drives in goofy cases, claims people want less

(via CDFreaks)

CHARLOTTE, NC (March 21, 2006) – Verbatim® Corporation, the worldwide leader in CD and DVD media, announced today an exciting new storage solution, the Verbatim16MB FlashDisc™. The innovative FlashDisc is not only a brand new product, it forms the basis for an entirely new flash-based media category. Developed by M-Systems, the Verbatim FlashDisc will be available in April. With an MSRP of only $19.99 for a 3-pack, the new media is set to revolutionize the way consumers, students and office workers exchange photos, music and other digital data files.

Now read that and pay attention. Verbatim wants you to buy 3 USB flash drives with 16 Meg each. You will be expected to pay $20 for them. To some, that might not seem bad. To me, it’s just crazy. But the press release has more of an explanation for the drives:

Verbatim’s FlashDisc is ideal for users who simply want a low-cost way to transport modest-capacity digital files from one computer to another or to share files on a disc that doesn’t necessarily have to be returned. Students can keep multiple FlashDiscs for each class subject and can access the information any time, anywhere. People of all ages can use FlashDiscs to distribute photos or favorite songs to friends and family. Businesses can share data and presentations with colleagues.

In other words, you are expected to swap these USB drives to share data. You should feel like they are inexpensive enough that you won’t care about getting the drive back. And naturally, you’ll buy many 3 packs so you have enough spares to do that. Now for the next kink in what’s wrong with this silly idea, check out what these drives look like.


Now, imagine carrying around half a dozen of these. These drives have a swing-open/click-shut cover for the USB interface, and a big, ugly ring-like plastic cover over the rest of them. Presumably, this is to make us think of these as small discs, instead of overpriced USB drives. But it also makes them big, and not easy to carry around.

I’m constantly amazed at what sells well and what doesn’t. I could be way out of line here, and these might be the next hot thing. But I assure you, I’m not paying $7 for 16 Meg of USB key storage only to give the drive to someone else and not worry about whether or not I get it back. That’s just not sensible.

Be sure to read the entire press release at CDFreaks if you are interested.  And feel free to tell me if I’m way off-base here on how these will sell.  Maybe everyone else in the world sees sufficient value in these for them to survive, and I’ll be proven wrong once again.

[tags]Verbatim, Dumb consumer devices, USB key[/tags]

Newly announced Internet Explorer vulnerability

(via Computer World)

This appears to be very new, and hasn’t spread very far yet on the web.  There is a just announced security vulnerability in IE 6.0 that allows an attacker to run an HTML application without requesting user permission.  The Dutch Web developer who discovered the problem contacted Microsoft first, at least, so hopefully there aren’t many attacks out there yet.  On the other hand, who knows how long the attackers have known about this?  It wouldn’t be the first time an attack is discovered and announced only for us to find out that the underground was already passing around info and code about/for the vulnerability.

Last week I found a (to my knowledge) new vulnerability in the Internet Explorer 6.0 browser.

With this vulnerability it is possible to run an hta-file without the users permission.

[tags]Microsoft, Internet Explorer, web security[/tags]