Long Live Physical Media, I Hope!

I once believed that we’re done with physical media, but now I’ve a different view on this.  Yesterday, I paid for a rental movie on iTunes store and to my horror I was paying for the second part of the movie.  The movie was Harry Potter and Deathly Hallows Part 2.  So, OK, it was careless of me, because I should have rented Harry Potter and Deathly Hallows Part 1 first.  Frantically, I searched on iTunes Store for Harry Potter and Deathly Hallows Part 1.  I could not find the darn movie anywhere on iTunes Store, and so I searched for it on Amazon Instant Video.  It turned out Harry Potter and Deathly Hallows Part 1 wasn’t licensed to be streamed on most online streaming and downloading services.  Oh, I too had checked out Netflix, and this very movie could only be rented as in DVD or Blu-ray.  Finally, I had to give up and went to Blockbuster.

Go figure, I had not been back to Blockbuster for more than three years or so, and there I was checking out a Blu-ray for Harry Potter and Deathly Hallows Part 1.  This is why I think physical media is still so important, because streaming and downloading services might have plenty of problems in acquiring licenses for various popular movies.  Without physical media, I might have to watch Harry Potter and Deathly Hallows Part 2 before I could watch Harry Potter and Deathly Hallows Part 1, and that would be just suck.  Badly!

I also think that the more stuffs moving online and abandoning the physical media, media companies will have more control over customers than ever before in certain circumstances.  Perhaps, they can censor stuffs way faster and easier?  Instead of burning books like millennia ago, they now could just snap their fingers to have someone instantly erases all digital copies in seconds.  I think we be better off if physical media will be around for unforeseeable future.

Let us take a look at a hypothetical situation in regarding to what if physical media is no longer available.  Let say ISP raised prices for Internet connections and customers could not find physical media, therefore customers had to pay higher prices for Internet connections than usual just to be able to watch their favorite movies.  We had only talk about a scenario which pertains to physical media for movies, what chaos would ensue if physical media that pertains to much more important stuffs could not be made readily available?  You there, yes you, I’m talking to you Cloud service!

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When Electricity Isn’t So Accessible, Literature Thrives On With Books Made Of Papers

Reading the title of an article’s “Ebooks don’t spell the end of literature,” a lightbulb lighted up in my head — a new title of a new article came to life “When Electricity Isn’t So Accessible, Literature Thrives On With Books Made Of Papers.”  OK, it does sound like I’m a hater of ebooks and ereaders, but I’m not.  I actually own an iPad 2, Kindle, and an iPhone 4 — each of these devices can allow me to read ebooks.  Unfortunately, only Kindle can allow me to read ebooks more frequently and without worrying of the situation where battery goes dead.  It’s all because Kindle uses E-ink technology which can conserve battery power better than the full colored back lid screens of iPad 2 and iPhone 4.

With that many ebook enabled devices, I think I’ve established myself as a person who does have the ability to read ebooks whenever he wants, and often I find myself adding more ebooks into my already large collection of ebooks through the means of buying ebooks from Amazon and borrowing ebooks from local libraries’ digital collections.  The point that I’m trying to make is that electronic devices such as ereaders can become useless when electricity becomes inaccessible.  It’s a simple point, but it’s often overlooked by onlookers who do not know the tormented feeling of the ones who have to face such condition.  Sure, it’s not like a life threatening situation, but it’s the truth.  Just like how Marta Hillers had described electronic devices as useless and people became cave dwellers in her book “A Woman in Berlin.”  It was her recognition of when electricity became scarce, electronic devices could be only empty shells of anything but useful.

OK, it does sound as if my argument is rather weak, because it sounds as if we need to have a World War II again and to have people experience the lack of electricity as how Marta Hillers had so we can realize the merit of not totally relying on ereaders; I disagree!  How do we know electricity will always be abundant?  I don’t think even the future that we’re imagining of when there will be free electricity in abundant amount (i.e., always available) through the usages of futuristic solar and wind technologies — guaranteeing there won’t be a day that people might become cave dwellers again — can last forever.  Who can guarantee that there will never be a breakdown in society to a point that humans become cave dwellers?

Whenever I read something that put ereaders and ebooks above traditional books (i.e., books made from trees), I have to say let not be so optimistic about such aspect.  I rather encourage people to believe in having both for a long time to come as a better approach to ensure books don’t go the way of book burnings in ancient times.  And yet, books should go the way of the dead sea scrolls.  Having both you ask?  Sure, having both means let print more traditional books and release more ebooks (in effect sell more ereaders), and to larger effect let people have more choices of choosing their reading medium.  What not to do is to promote ebooks and ereaders only society and abandon the traditional book society (i.e., books made from trees).

Lastly, I like to think that censoring ebooks (i.e., digital forms) is way easier than traditional books (i.e., books made from trees).  How?  It takes few entities and few keystrokes on keyboards to eliminate huge databases of ebooks and the data themselves.  What cool about books made from trees is that you have to burn them physically which speaks more to why it’s bad to burn books.  You can say the Hollywood effect of having real books on fire might connect to scholars more than not, in negative way of course.

Afterthought:  I do like ebooks as more trees can be saved by not printing books made of papers, but we humans can always print books made of papers ethically.  That is, we do not really have to destroy a whole forest for printing traditional books (i.e., books made from trees), because we do have a choice of printing less of the same books in term of copies; we know that a single ebook can be easily download and copy in digital forms without worrying about destroying a forest.

More Of Why Ebooks Are Great But Not So Great

I had written about how ebooks are great but not so great kind of story before, and the message of the day for this day is something of the same.  Amazon and Barnes & Noble and Apple are successfully converting their users to ebook market.  Great, Britain’s largest bookseller, Waterstone, is too throwing their hat into the ring, because the folks from this bookseller intend to produce even better e-reader than Amazon Kindle to scoop up ebook marketshare.  So many users and companies are converting to ebooks, which is great but not so great if we all eventually have only ebooks.

Ebooks are of digital form, and such cannot outlast the physical form, because data tend to corrupt or easily be tampered with and then become corrupting.  When digital form goes poof, all we have left will be nothing.  Yes, these huge booksellers are going to use the cloud technology (i.e., data redundancy implementation) to ensure their ebooks aren’t disappearing off of their clouds.  Nonetheless, the truth is that digital form will always be more volatile and flimsy and less durable than physical form.  How can we be sure truly that most ebooks will last forever (albeit, even the truth cannot last forever)?

I think humans should have more than one library solely to retain physical form of all ebooks and physical books that had ever and will be published/printed.  This ensures us that somedays, even for the strangest reasons, there will always be physical books to let wonderful papers turn those curious eyes.  Perhaps, physical books will not be able to withstand fire and disasters and wars, but I do think that data redundancy is so important in a way that retaining physical form of the ebooks is another form of data redundant measurement (i.e., speaking of making sure books will last much longer than otherwise).

I know this is blah blah blah post, but I think it has a message that we all should heed, because the lost of ebooks in a poof is sort of like book burning in the pasts.

Just Some Random Tips Of The Day For Users To Protect Themselves In The Digital World

Hackers are more brazened everyday, and as of late we have heard so many stories of their hacks against big and sophisticated institutions such as FBI and partners of FBI and Sony and so on.  Although Sony is the older story, but it is still fresh in some people’s minds.  Of late, some hackers even go after DNS servers so they could redirect legitimate web traffics to their malicious websites of choice.  This is one way to phish for users’ credentials, consequently hackers can unlock users’ web accounts.  The legitimate form of phish is phishing, and it means that hackers set up digital traps/hacks to steal credential information from users, but the users may not know they’ve been scammed since the traps/hacks made to look like the real things.

Perhaps the only way to protect oneself from getting phish by being paranoid about what webpages you’re landing on.  Let say you’re trying to visit a well known website, but the website address looks a little funky, then you should not enter any credential of yours onto such website/page until you have verified and sure that you’re on a legitimate website/page.  Sometimes, you have to make sure the IP address of such a website is from the institution that it claims to be.

Finding a website’s IP address is pretty easy.  Just open up a Window shell (i.e., cmd) or a unix-like terminal and ping the website’s domain name such as using this command [ping Yahoo.com], then comparing the legitimate website’s IP address with the URL’s IP address (i.e., using ping command also) to see if both IP addresses of the two slightly different URLs are the same.  If both IP addresses of the two slightly different URLs are the same IP address, then you might be on the legitimate website.  Sometimes a well constructed misleading URL can mislead users to ping the wrong part of the URL, consequently will not help users avoid the phishing scheme.  This is why make sure you understand which part of the URL inside your web browser’s address bar is the actual top level domain name and not otherwise.

I’m not sure if I’m entirely right, and you can correct me in the comments below this blog post if you think I’m wrong that verifying IP address of a legitimate website can be DNS hack proof.  After all, don’t hackers have to take over a DNS control panel of a domain account or registrar and entered their malicious IP addresses that point to their malicious domain names so legitimate web traffics can be redirected to the malicious web destinations?  If that is the absolute case/way, then verifying the IP address of a legitimate website is one absolutely best way to confirm if you are on a benevolent web destination.

OK, I’ve to admit that even though you have confirmed the IP addresses of slightly different URLs are the same IP address, it does not mean that you’re on the legitimate website/destination.  Why?  Perhaps, that very IP address is the only IP address that the hacker(s) is using and not of a legitimate website.  Sometimes, it helps to make sure the IP address of a legitimate website you’re trying to reach is made available through search engines or some reputable web services so you can comparing the IP addresses from such sources with the ones that you’d pinged.  Doing reverse IP lookup or domain lookup helps too!

Another thing, you can avoid a lot of troubles by protecting your email accounts at all cost.  Hackers love to have access to your email accounts so they can reset your web accounts’ passwords.  Many websites allow users to reset web accounts’ credentials by simply click on confirmation links within emails.  This could be why it’s a goldmine for hackers to be able to penetrate their targets’ email accounts.  So, using unconventional passwords, different password for every email/web account, is best to protect one’s  email/web account, especially true for the email accounts.

GameFly Goes Digital

According to Arstechnica, GameFly will go digital for PC first and Mac later, but beta phrase will start next month or so.  This way users can subscribe to GameFly, download games to their PC/Mac and then play their favorite titles.  Obviously, it would be a lot cooler if GameFly also goes digital for consoles, but nobody has say a thing about such possibility yet.  One thing for sure though, just like Netflix for movies, GameFly isn’t going to abandon their mail delivery method for games just yet.  It’s unclear if subscribers will be able to get games in the mail and download instantly online under same subscription plan, or perhaps GameFly is going the Netflix’s way by providing two different subscription plans where the prices for mail and download will not be the same.  For now, GameFly charges $22.95 for 2 games through mail each time, and $15.95 for a game each time.

My question to you, do you still prefer to buy games to own or to go through service such as GameFly so you can play more titles without owning any of them game titles?

Source:  http://arstechnica.com/gaming/news/2011/08/gamefly-goes-digital-with-pc-game-rental-service.ars

Your Digital Past Might Haunt You Forever

Have you ever heard the phrase what you say you cannot take it back?  Nowadays, the Internet is having the same problem.  What you post you may not be able to delete or erase.  As the Internet becomes a prominent source for employers and potential partners and business partners and customers, you can never be too careful in posting your contents over the Internet.  People may see you differently face to face, but the information age requires them to dig into your past beyond the handshaking and greeting smile moments.  Posting something that’s stupid or offensive or just plain idiotic on the Internet may make you look bad, but sometimes something may not be true about you is also lurking on the Internet to defame you.  Deleting your own Facebook’s pictures may be easy, but how are you going to go about to remove negative contents about you in multiple digital locations that you have no access to?

According to the article “Erasing the Digital Past” from The New York Times, people who want to bury their digital pasts can seek out reputation management companies for help.  In reality, even these reputation management companies are excellent in burying people’s digital pasts, but they cannot really assure you that everything will be completely buried or erased from the Internet.  Why?  The people behind these companies are just like you except they are dedicated to your cause and have more knowledge on how to convince online companies to remove your digital material and they have resources to make sure they can do what they claim to do for you; in the end it’s still depending on the companies that have your digital past to make a decision in deleting your digital contents.

The true way to keep your digital past safe from everyone is not to have one in the first place.  This way requires you to be really darn sure of what you want to expose about yourself over the Internet.  It means don’t post something you don’t like people to know about you over the Internet.  It also means don’t post something you’ll regret later over the Internet.  It’s very much like the phrase what you say you cannot take it back.  Stick to the idea of what you say or post you cannot take it back can save you tons of money, because you don’t have to worry about paying the specialists who can remove your digital past.  It could get worse in certain cases such as the reputation management specialists had tried their hardest, but yet they could not still completely bury your digital past even though you have spent tons of money on them.  You see the point?

Source:  http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/03/fashion/03reputation.html?_r=1&partner=rss&emc=rss