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Rush Limbaugh – 3 Lies in 2 Minutes or Your Money Back!

August 5, 2010 1 comment

I was stuck in the car yesterday, and decided to go flicking through the radio stations. One station (which I have preset as it’s my local station for the Braves) had on the Rush Limbaugh show. I’ve heard a lot about him but never actually listened to his station raw. After 2 minutes, I had to turn it off, as I was tired of all the lies and basic errors he was passing off as ‘fact’. The specific segment of the show was about the Deepwater Horizons incident, and oil. He’s really living up to his (unofficial) sales patter, of Lies for Dumb People.
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Categories: Analysis, Idiocracy Tags: , ,

ArsTechnica Forgets How Torrents Work, Cites Faulty Study

July 23, 2010 1 comment

If you follow tech news, you have a certain list of sites you’ll keep an eye on. Personally, I always keep an eye on TorrentFreak (but then, I am their researcher, and night-time comment moderator) but there are others as well, Wired’s Threat Level, Slyck, and of course, ArsTechnica.

The problem for all tech news sites is that there’s a deadline game. You have to be first to break the story, so you can get it passed around the social media circles, facebook, slashdot etc. Often that means that stories, or more specifically the data that comprises the story, doesn’t get the attention it should, and ArsTechnica has fallen foul of this, repeating the conclusions of a study, and not noticing some glaring errors.

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Benchmarking Browsers – How Does Opera 10.60 Stack Up?

July 5, 2010 2 comments

About a month ago, I did a bit of a browser comparison using my desktop and laptop. It gave some quite interesting results, showing just how far behind the two popular browsers, IE and FireFox, are behind. Chrome and Opera, on the other hand, have been making HUGE strides in speed, stability, and features, and since 10.60 has just come out, I thought I’d test it, and see how it stacks up. I also thought I’d install and throw in Safari 5, which was launched to great fanfare recently, claiming to be the fastest Does Opera 10.60 beat Chrome, or was the google-monster faster, and how did the all-seeing-Apple product fare? Find out after the jump.

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Hulu Announces “Hulu+”, Back-Pedals on HTML5

June 30, 2010 1 comment

It was going to happen sometime, and it happened today. Hulu announced their subscription service.

Despite the worries of some people though, it’s not going to replace the currently free service, but will be an addition. The promo video (which wordpress won’t let me post here but can be watched at this link)  talks about three main areas, accessability/devices, content, and quality.
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Categories: Analysis Tags: , ,

Why VHS didn’t kill the Movie Theatre.

June 24, 2010 1 comment

If you’re a teenager or older, you’ll almost certainly have first-hand experience with VCRs and video tapes. If you don’t remember them, they’re big things that have been replaced by DVR’s, but which you could buy movies on, like with DVDs. They were in most peoples homes throughout the late 80s and the 90s. Yet they were nearly wrestled out of peoples hands around thirty years ago, because of the fear of an industry. Let’s first look back at the late 70s to understand why.

In the late 70s there was a kerfuffle between Sony, and the movie studios. It concerned the BetaMax VCR Sony made (and to a lesser extent the JVC/Phillips VHS system). There were concerns that with these machines, people would undermine advertising (argument A), making the amount that could be charged for them drop, reducing funding for TV stations and networks. It would also mean that movies played on TV would have to cost more for the stations, because people will record them, and keep them, and watch them instead of, say, going to the cinema (Argument B). There were also concerns that since the recorders were mostly made outside the US, the importation of them would hurt the balance of payments (Argument C). Also, making movies is a risky business, and the government should do all it can to make it easier to be profitable (Argument D).  It was nicely summed up by Jack Valenti (head of the MPAA) in his testimony in front of Congress in 1982.
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Some Browser Benchmarks

June 2, 2010 3 comments

To some people, I’m known as being a bit of a browser snob. I’ve been an Opera fan for many years, and one of the things I like to do, is poke a little fun at Firefox fans.

There are many claims made about Firefox, four are made right on firefox.com

Meet the World’s Best Browser
With security, stability, speed and much more, Firefox is made for the way you use the Web.

If only it were true. Security and Stability I will come to later, but it’s the issue of speed that will be addressed this time. I usually use a combination of Chrome and Opera. Chrome is used for ‘short term’ things, checking a few blogs, and playing videos on Hulu. For the majority of my work, I use Opera. I do, however, have Firefox installed on my systems, along with, obviously, IE. To start with, I’ve benchmarked the two systems that I use most often (there are another few systems that are also used, but which are ‘in use’ and can’t be reset for this test), my main desktop, and the wife’s laptop. Read more…

Categories: Analysis Tags: , ,

Copyright Consultation Document – US Gov

March 24, 2010 1 comment

The US Government, as part of the horrible ‘PRO-IP ACT’ had an open consultation on how it could deal with enforcement of copyright. The specifics are spelt out on the consultation document.

The US Pirate Party had an rough draft of a reply and a means to submit it, if people didn’t want to write their own response, but I don’t do that sort of thing. I prefer a much more detailed (and as always, last minute) response, to try and cover the main facts. Again, I ran out of time, and just got it sent at the deadline (which was some 20 minutes ago).

So, here is the finished response, all 5 pages of it. [PDF]

UPDATE – please read here

US Box Office Top10 from 1990-2009

March 11, 2010 5 comments

Some more data for my study, on box office figures. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, read here first.

Here’s the top 10 US box office film income for the years 1990 to 2009. Some of the 09 films are still playing, so that year should be taken with a pinch of salt, but at the same time, they’ll only increase, not decrease.

Year US Top 10 Box Office Total Inflation corrected US top10 Box Office Total Estimated Attendance (US Top10)
1990 $1,281,989,774 $2,112,009,512.36 305,235,660.48
1991 $1,281,989,774 $2,025,260,306.48 304,510,635.15
1992 $1,448,348,483 $2,221,393,378.83 348,999,634.46
1993 $1,534,977,118 $2,287,596,301.04 370,767,419.81
1994 $1,662,675,764 $2,416,679,889.53 407,518,569.61
1995 $1,305,208,489 $1,843,514,814.97 300,047,928.51
1996 $1,651,225,305 $2,265,055,288.07 373,580,385.75
1997 $2,097,682,163 $2,815,680,755.70 457,011,364.49
1998 $1,616,043,282 $2,134,799,579.92 344,572,128.36
1999 $2,130,720,498 $2,752,868,860.47 421,091,007.51
2000 $2,198,250,308 $2,747,812,885.00 407,838,647.12
2001 $2,325,805,315 $2,826,008,888.21 411,646,958.41
2002 $2,527,882,447 $3,023,782,831.34 435,841,801.21
2003 $2,363,209,759 $2,763,988,022.22 391,908,749.42
2004 $2,674,069,989 $3,049,110,591.79 430,607,083.57
2005 $2,415,345,520 $2,663,004,983.46 376,808,973.48
2006 $2,294,855,211 $2,451,768,387.82 350,359,574.20
2007 $2,709,809,739 $2,813,924,962.62 393,867,694.62
2008 $2,530,421,837 $2,530,421,837.00 352,426,439.69
2009 $3,206,432,180 $3,229,035,428.00 427,524,290.67

I’m sure you’ll want to know where the number come from, and it’s easy enough to explain.

  • Year – pretty self explanatory.
  • US Top 10 Box Office Total – The box office figures for the top 10 films of that year are summed. Fairly simple, and a good estimation of the popularity of the ‘big’ films. The source, as always, is BoxofficeMojo
  • Inflation corrected US top10 Box Office Total – Harder to explain, but it’s the previous column, adjusted for inflation to 2008 dollars. This gives a direct comparison. I used the Consumer Price index conversion factor published by Oregon State University. The factors are available here (pdf)
  • Estimated Attendance (US Top10) – This was derived by taking the Combined box office figures (column 2) and dividing by the average yearly cinema ticket price. The average price is published by the National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO) and can be found here.

Now, a bunch of figures is all very well, but what does it mean? To give an illustration, The figures were plotted onto a graph.

Box Office Figures (click to enlarge)

The blue line is Top 10 combined. The purple line is the inflation-adjusted Top 10, (and are run from the LEFT y-axis) and the red line is the estimated combined attendance (based from the RIGHT Y-axis). The dotted lines for each give you some indication of how the trend is going overall.

What you can see, is that while attendance for these top-10 films are generally moving up somewhat, the income from them is increasing quite substantially. In this case, it’s a combination of ticket prices increasing at greater than inflation, along with a small, but significant general increase in the attendance figures. Box office takings are increasing, and it’s something the MPAA is at the same time issuing press releases about, while at the same time claiming poverty and forgetting about these figures.

Why the US film Industry is Going Bankrupt.

March 1, 2010 4 comments

About 2 years ago, in the January of 08, I started a little project. It was to look at the box office figures put out by the film industry, and look how p2p had impacted them. I did some initial research, which looked at US box office figures for 1996-2007.

Then, in June 07, I published an initial summery of some of my findings, with the aim that I would try and have the full study finished by the end of July 08. That (obviously) didn’t happen. A mixture of real-life pressures, and ADD kept me from finishing it (plus work on the Pirate Party US/International).

Studies like this were the reason I stepped down from Pirate Parties International. It’s only recently, now that the US Pirate Party has a full board, that I can concentrate once more upon things. So, I’ve updated the box office figures, and included 2008 and 2009 as well as 1990-95 (although some of the 09 films are still showing, so shouldn’t be taken as ‘final’).

One thing I did notice when collecting the figures, were the figures for 2005. This is the year, let’s not forget, where Hollywood claimed to lose $6.1Billion, to “Piracy” (meaning ‘copyright infringement’)

The thing is that while the box office figures for the US were down a bit, they weren’t down by much, especially not when compared to the 90s (before ‘piracy’) What’s more, while they may have lost a claimed $6.1Billion worldwide (1.3Billion of that in the US); the top ten films, of the 547 or so released that year, took in over $5.7B worldwide (and $2.4B in the US).

They never mention their income in the same press release as their claimed losses, and now you know why. They also never include the costs of the films, and there’s another reason. The top 10 in 1990 cost around $316.5Million in 1990 dollars (521.5Million in 08 dollars), which included films like Ghost, Total Recall, and Due Hard 2.

2005’s top 10 films cost a whopping $1.307 BILLION to make by contrast ($1.441Billion in 08 dollars) – 2.7x more. In fact, only two of 2005’s films cost less to make than the most expensive film (in the 1990 top ten, Die Hard 2 ($70M in 1990, $104M in 05 dollars). Those were Wedding Crashers ($40M) and Madagascar ($75M)

When you want to look at a reason Hollywood, and the MPAA feel they’re losing money, it’s the budgets that should be looked at. People are still going, but it’s the expense that drives the profits down.

Many thanks to BoxofficeMojo for lots of lovely data to work with.

Part1 – US Box Office Top10 from 1990-2009

A Brief History of the Oink Trial Pt1

January 15, 2010 Leave a comment

So the oink trial is over, and Alan won.

In a larger sense, many of us won. The Oink raid and trial was, at it’s essence, a show-trial, every bit a spectacle trial (or ‘spectrial’) as last years Pirate Bay one – if not moreso. After all, the Swedish Police didn’t do the raid accompanied by TV cameras – in fact they covered up cameras – but otherwise it was similar.

So let’s go through the case. It started with a raid, covered by the BBC in a regional news program that covered the talking points of the victim (the IFPI/BPI) and the police. Worse, the police, in the form of Detective Inspector Colin Green, made definitive statements that were at odds with the facts.

“There’s approximately 180,000 members, who pay subscriptions to enter the website and download any music that’s available. And music that’s been made available on that website, it’s pre-release, it hasn’t gone into the record shops”

As we all know, subscriptions were not required. Nor was music downloaded from the site. As for the pre-release claims, a small percentage may have been, but the better question is where it came from, presumably a music industry person that decided to upload, and not acquired by Mr Ellis himself.

The ominous warning put on Oink.cd

The domain was also hijacked, by the IFPI and BPI, displaying their logos and an intimidating message. Interestingly, the representatives of the alleged victims, the IFPI and BPI, were not only participating in a criminal investigation, but headlining it. A definite conflict of interest at the very least, but the hijacking of private property owned by the defendant, by the accuser, to post intimidation and attempt to influence people, is clearly an attempt to prejudice the trial. 3 days later, thankfully, the website was redirected, but it shows the levels of influence these industry bodies have over the police.

Meanwhile, Alan Ellis, was released, and spent the next 11 months on bail before being finally charged with “Conspiracy to defraud the music industry”. The UK lobby group FACT has a description of the offence which actually pretty much gave the case as a win for Ellis (and archive.org says the page is still the same as in May 06). The specimen charge they give reads

On a day between the … Day of… 19.. And the … Day of… 19.. In the county of… And elsewhere, conspired with … And with persons unknown to defraud the copyright owners of various video films by marketing/distributing/manufacturing infringing copies of video films contrary to the common law

No-one was defrauded of films, they still had them. The only way the charge could work, is if the claim is that the copyright owners had been deprived of money they might have got. Great, except that argument can be made by anyone you’re in competition with. Oh, and copyright, not a property – it’s an assignable right.

Next time – the build up, the users, and the pre-trial playabout.
Categories: Analysis, Copyright, Piratey Stuff Tags: ,
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