03 August 2009

Will Big Brother Pay?

I wrote earlier about the possibility of a Kindle Killer entering the ereader market and briefly mentioned Amazon's fuck up a few weeks ago when they remotely deleted several of their ebooks, including Orwell's "1984". Two Kindle users are hitting back now.

This past Thursday, Antoine Bruguier of California and Justin Gawronski, a high school student from Michigan, filed a class-action lawsuit against Amazon for violating the Washington Consumer Protection Act and the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act as well as breaching contract, and intentionally interfering with their belongings.
"Our 'solution' to the problem was stupid, thoughtless, and painfully out of line with our principles," Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos wrote to customers. "It is wholly self-inflicted, and we deserve the criticism we've received. We will use the scar tissue from this painful mistake to help make better decisions going forward, ones that match our mission."
This apology came in late July, after the deletion of the Orwell works without informing Kindle users until after the fact. Apparently, Amazon did not have the rights to distribute the ebooks, but somehow overlooked this as many users downloaded them.

High school student Gawronski was assigned "1984" as a part of his summer reading assignment in English, and bought the book on his Kindle 2. Not only did he lose the book itself, but his valuable notes for his assignment. Amazon does keep these notes in additional external files for customers, but really, how useful is it to go back to the notes and read, "...remember this paragraph for thesis" when you can't even reference the work it went with?

Bruguier wasn't in a similar situation to Gawronski, but was pissed nonetheless. He purchased "1984" back in April and received the mass e-mail sent to these customers from Amazon on July 16, confirming a refund for the book. Like everyone else, he wondered why. On that same day, another e-mail from Amazon stated that the company had discovered a "problem" with the book and thus issued a refund. Of course he complained to Amazon, but only received a reply the next day containing a canned statement on not being able to provide any further insight into the deletion. Later on, Amazon did finally admit in a final e-mail that the book was pulled due to licensing reasons.

So, what's the big deal anyway? Some people are irked and some kid lost his school notes. It's a lot bigger than that. Not only did Amazon breach contract by removing content remotely from Kindles, but they violated their own Terms of Service which state that Kindle users have every right to keep a permanent copy of digital content they purchase and can view it as many times as they want. Now, since the Kindle is used for interstate commerce and communication, it is protected as a computer; in deleting content remotely, Amazon accessed customers' Kindles without their permission, a clear violation of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, and a violation of privacy. On top of that, this violated Washington state's (where Amazon is located) consumer protection statute, which bans unfair and deceptive acts and practices.
"Unless restrained and enjoined, Amazon will continue to commit such acts," the suit said.
Not to mention, when Amazon deleted the content, they caused "intentional interference to private property". They don't have the right to go into your house and take paper books back, what more right do they have taking back your e-books from your Kindles and iPhones?

Personally, I hope Amazon gets smacked around a bit for this. Deleting something resident on a private system... wait, this sounds like the same crime Gary McKinnon is being extradited to the US for. He faces up to 70 years in prison if convicted. So who were the legal geniuses giving Amazon the go-ahead to do this, and will they be getting a refund for this terrible advice? Will they donate their time defending Amazon pro-bono? I hope so.

Hopefully the parties won't simply settle out of court... we need this to go somewhere so it doesn't turn into a bigger mess.

I think Amazon missed their true Orwellian moment though. They already threw the book down the memory hole, so they should have spoken a bit of newspeak, informed everyone that the book was never there, and insisted its absence proves it was never there. Send everyone who disagrees to the Ministry of Love... err Gitmo.

22 July 2009

Kindle Killer?

There's been a lot of news lately surrounding "Big Brother" Amazon and its wildly successful Kindle. Recalling e-books afer purchase? Consumers were refunded, but it definitely rocked the boat when they couldn't find a replacement for some of the titles.

Plastic Logic, based in Mountain View, California, is making the eReader, available in 2010, that hopes to compete with Amazon's Kindle. Guess who partnered with them? None other than the world's largest book store chain, Barnes & Noble. Four months ago, Barnes & Noble aquired the e-book retailer Fictionwise and is now starting its own massive e-bookstore on its website, BN.com. In an announcement Monday, B&N stated that over 700,000 books would be offered and available to be read on a variety of today's popular devices including the BlackBerry, iPhone, various desktop and laptop computers. Before the aquisition, Fictionwise offered over 600,000 books in its catalogue.

Some good news, for now, is that over 500,000 of the e-books offered on BN.com can be downloaded for free! How? Well, through an agreement with Google to provide e-versions of public domain books that they have scanned from university libraries.

How many books are offered for the Kindle device? Ah yes, 330,000. Oh, and Google's public domain collection? It can't be read on a Kindle. Barnes & Noble is going for the throat.

According to some though, BN.com isn't likely to dent Amazon.com's Kindle sales.
"I don't think they will be stealing market share from Amazon," said Sarah Rotman Epps, a media analyst with Forrest Research. "If anything I think they are contributing to the whole growth of the category of digital reading."
Yes, more consumers will be reading on their mobile devices, and it makes sense to market to those readers, as opposed to zeroing in on consumers buying dedicated reading devices, like the Kindle. But who is providing the content available to both a dedicated device as well as other mobile devices? BN.com.

What about pricing? As for the device itself, Plastic Logic has their lips sealed. As for the content, the $9.99 charge that has become the de-facto new and bestseller e-book price set by Amazon.com for Kindle sales will remain the same, according to William J. Lynch, president of Barnes&Noble.com.

Pricing is a huge deal, in e-book sales. Pulishers don't want to be undercut sales of hardcover editions -- which average a hefty $26. Erosion of publisher margins = unhappy people.
“The pricing policies won’t remain static,” Mr. Lynch said in an interview. “We’re working with our publishers on various pricing models. As the pricing model evolves over time, we will adjust.”
The concern of publishers' MVP titles being sold at "mass market paperback prices" is strong, says David Young, chief executive of the Hachette Book Group. This coming from the publister who pumps out books by Stephanie Meyer and James Patterson. It's still a valid concern though.

Personally, I think BN.com should offer "library model" pricing. Offer the e-books for 1/10 of the paperback pricing for a limited time, say a month. After that, you can either pay 3/4 of the paperback price, or delete it and owe nothing. I think it could be popular, and drive sales as well as e-book volume up. At the least, it would make this battle amusing.

So, now that that's out of the way, on to the tasty part of this: the device. (Queue sexy music.)

(image via Plastic Logic)

Nicely targeted at the business user, as well as the personal user, the eReader is 8.5 by 11 inch letter-sized, extremely thin at 1/4 inch with a full touch, glare- and eye-strain free plastic screen sporting the latest EInk technology. One flick of your flinger to turn a page. Small side menu on the left that pops out to reveal a toolbar and on the right, tabs for recently read books and documents. Wi-fi and 3G connectivity.

Wait, 3G connectivity? What is this magic you speak of? It was announced today that the mobile broadband connection on the device will be provided by AT&T's network. This could be a debate in itself (I won't go there), with the heat that AT&T takes, but in reality these devices will be using such a small amount of the network. What's intriguing is wi-fi access. I could see the 3G as being very useful if you don't have access to a hotspot.

Will Barnes & Noble be able to pull ahead in this race despite the Kindle's head start? Will the recent Amazon.com e-book blunder and pulisher gouging tarnish their reputation enough to aid Barnes & Noble? Who knows! Things just got more interesting though.

19 July 2009

I don't Digg it.

UPDATE:

So, I just watched an interview with Kevin Rose, Digg co-founder, on live.twit.tv with Leo Laporte.

(Laporte gives Rose the background)
Laporte: Is that true?
Rose: That’s a good question.
Laporte: You don’t know?
Rose: I’ve been gone for 2 weeks so I don’t know what got pushed, what code got pushed and how it functions but my last understanding is that what we wanted to do is have it so that if you click on a Digg URL it takes you to the Digg stories so you can Digg it. Rather than providing a short URL service that just forwards and does redirection we would just do a URL service just for Digg articles. Just like the same way that Techcrunch does “techcrunch slash 85374″ – if you go to that you’re not going to go to some other site you’re going to go to techcrunch. That’s the story.
Laporte: So you’re backing off on the original idea which is a general URL shortening service…
Rose: Correct.


My question is this: If they intended on doing this to Diggbar, why was there no post on it, no indication on their intentions to change Diggbar from a general URL shortening service to one that is exclusively for Digg articles? I'm not debating the usefulness of an exclusive Digg shortener, in fact, it can be very useful if that's what you're aiming for. On the contrary, I'm questioning how Digg went about all of this. It makes them look shady.

------------------------------------------------

As many of you on Twitter have seen, link shorteners are key in this 140 character world. A popular choice of shortener is through the Diggbar. A great concept: integrating a traffic counter along with the link shortener in the convenience of a single bar at the top of your browser! Sounds great, right? Sure, publishers jumped at the chance to increase traffic to their content, up Digg counts, and have a simple way to post the content in a Twitter update.

A few days ago, I noticed that the Diggbar links I clicked on in Tweets ended up at a Digg.com landing page. I had to click on a second link on the cluttered page to get to where I wanted to go in the first place. Did I want to land there? No! I wanted to land right on top of the content! This irked me.

Working As Intended?

Apparently it's confirmed that this is NOT an error. Anyone logged out of Digg, or those people not members of the site will be sent to the Digg landing page.

Hi from Digg,

Thank you for writing to us about this matter. This is working as intended. Please let us know if you have any feedback or have additional questions we can assist you with.

Digg Support

From Digg's point of view, I suppose they thought this would bring something good for them, but, seriously? Way to hijack. You're welcome for the traffic push and ad revenue, Digg.

What Now?

Thanks to my friend Matt Rogers at primatage.co.uk for this update:

Nick Halstead, CEO of TweetMeme, commented on the Mashable post that:

From TweetMeme’s point of view if this stays the same way we will be forced to remove it from our whitelist of shorteners, as by definition this no longer makes Digg a shortening service. We included Digg.com because we felt the addition allowed users the ability to gain extra traction along with the shortening support.

TweetMeme is a site that compiles all of the hottest links on Twitter and is used by some hard-hitting social networkers, blogs, and sites, including Mashable. Losing that support is crucial, and I don't need to mention the extreme amount of boycotting going on in the Twittersphere.

Well hey now, congrats Diggbar, you are now the illegitimate child of Digg. I can hear Jay Adelson's facepalm from here.

10 June 2009

Art is what you can get away with...

"Chowder"
Acrylic on canvas. 18" x 24 " Total work time: 2 1/2 hours.
Painting of a friend's Boston Terrier.


"Maneater"
Acrylic on canvas board. 16" x 20" Total work time: 6 hours
My hot little cannibal :)


"Razor Kiss"
Acrylic on canvas board. 16" x 20" Total work time: 4 hours
Yes, that is a razor blade through a lip. Gory, surreal, beautiful.


"Let's Play"
Acrylic on canvas board. 16" x 20" Total work time: 6 hours
This is by far my favorite. A little zombie anime cutie.


"The Warden"
Acrylic on canvas. 16" x 20" Total work time: 3 hours
Birthday gift for a dear friend :) Inspired by the Warden on [adultswim] Superjail.


Poop

I'm really bad at keeping up with this at the moment. Well, when have I ever been good at keeping up with it?

Seems that Twitter has been more my style lately. Micro-blogging is easy, fast... blips of my thoughts... yeah I can keep up with that. I guess a blog could function as an outlet for expanding upon ideas more than 140 characters ;)

Seems that when I think of something great to write though, I stew on it for too long, and tear it apart so much that I don't even want to expand upon it any longer! :|

For now I could fill this space with a couple recent happenings:

1. I still work for AT&T.

2. I've been getting back into my painting A LOT. I will upload some of my pieces now :)

IN CONCLUSION, I won't apologize for the lack of posts!! Follow me on Twitter! Go! Go NOW! Ok bai.

30 March 2009

I'm Yours

Well, you done done me and you bet I felt it
I tried to be chill but your so hot that I melted
I fell right through the cracks, now I'm tryin' to get back
before the cool done run out I'll be givin' it my best test
And nothin's gonna stop me but divine intervention
I reckon it's again my turn to win some or learn some

But I won't hesitate no more,
No more, it cannot wait
I'm yours

Well open up your mind and see like me
Open up your plans and damn you're free
Look into your heart and you'll find love love love love
Listen to the music at the moment people dance and sing with me
We're just one big family
And it's our godforsaken right to be loved loved loved loved loved

So, I won't hesitate no more,
No more, it cannot wait I'm sure
There's no need to complicate our time is short
This is our fate
I'm yours

Scooch on over closer, dear
And I will nibble your ear

I've been spendin' way too long checkin' my tongue in the mirror
And bendin' over backwards just to try to see it clearer
But my breath fogged up the glass
And so I drew a new face and I laughed
I guess what I'd be sayin' is there ain't no better reason
To rid yourself of vanities and just go with the seasons
It's what we aim to do
Our name is our virtue

But I won't hesitate no more,
No more it cannot wait
I'm yours

Well open up your mind and see like me
Open up your plans and damn you're free
Look into your heart and you'll find love love love love
Listen to the music of the moment come and dance with me
Ah, la one big family
It's your god forsaken right to be loved, loved, loved, loved

Open up your mind and see like me
Open up your plans and damn you're free
Look into your heart and you'll find love love love love
Listen to the music of the moment come and dance with me
Ah, la happy family
It's our god forsaken right to be loved loved loved loved

It's our god forsaken right to be loved loved loved loved
Listen to the music of the moment come and dance with me
Ah, la peaceful melodies
It's you god forsaken right to be loved loved loved loved



29 March 2009

Complete

I decided to put something of my own up:

---------------------------------------------------

Recall the sweet scent of the dew
And the spectrum of color reflected
Dancing across your face.

Blades of grass stuck to my cheek
As we are wrapped in the rays
Rising beyond the rolling hills.

Gentle your hand on the small of my back
Drawing nearer with every heartbeat
A collective sigh audible.

Inhibitions peeled away
With the clothes off our backs
This two-piece puzzle complete.

Tiny Vessels

This is the moment that you know
That you told her that you loved her but you don't.
You touch her skin and then you think
That she is beautiful but she don't mean a thing to me.
Yeah, she is beautiful but she don't mean a thing to me.

I spent two weeks in Silver Lake
The California sun cascading down my face
There was a girl with light brown streaks,
And she was beautiful but she didn't mean a thing to me.
Yeah, she was beautiful but she didn't mean a thing to me.

I wanted to believe in all the words that I was speaking,
As we moved together in the dark
And all the friends that I was telling
All the playful misspellings
And every bite I gave you left a mark

Tiny vessels oozed into your neck
And formed the bruises
That you said you didn't want to fade
But they did, and so did I that day

All I see are dark Grey clouds
In the distance moving closer with every hour
So when you ask "Is something wrong?"
I think "You're damn right there is but we can't talk about it now.
No, we can't talk about it now."

So one last touch and then you'll go
And we'll pretend that it meant something so much more
But it was vile, and it was cheap
And you are beautiful but you don't mean a thing to me
Yeah you are beautiful but you don't mean a thing to me

-Death Cab for Cutie "Tiny Vessels"