Tag Archives: Copyright infringement

The Future: Software on a Stick

Why isn’t more software sold on sticks these days?

F-Secure sent me their latest offeing, F-Secure Internet Security 2006, on a USB dongle. I don’t know if this how you buy it in stores but it makes a lot of sense. Why isn’t all software delivered like this, instead of on CD-Roms? Or is it and I’ve just missed it?

Advantages:

  • Coolness: It would be much more fun to have a drawer full of colorful dongles than a boring sleeve-book of CDs. Handing freebies out at expos would be easier too.
  • Piracy. I’m sure it would be crackable, but how about if the key were stored on the USB drive? You wouldn’t want to get into having to have the USB drive inserted in the computer for the program to run every time, but if it was possible for the key drive to leave its fingerprint on the computer this could perhaps be used as a way of making software harder to crack. I have no idea how this might be done.
  • Portability. With the rise of USB drive-based applications via the likes of U3, wouldn’t it be great if you could take your Adobe Photoshop or whatever with you? Say you have to work on another computer, you just insert your USB drive and run all your favourites from there. No installation, no more serial numbers, no infraction of EULAs. This is the U3 idea, but so far that idea doesn’t seem to encompass bigger programs, nor does it embrace the idea of using both USB drive and computer in tandem. Say I’m using Photoshop on my desktop, with all my settings and plugins there, why couldn’t I tell the software ‘OK, now I’m hitting the road with my USB drive. Load all my recent stuff onto the drive along with any relevant serial numbers until I tell you otherwise.’
  • Flexibility: You could run the software from the USB drive if you preferred, before actually installing it.

And just in case you haven’t seen it, check out this list of software that can be run off a stick.

More Things To Stuff In Your USB Port

Another visit to the  Hong Kong electronics expo thing. It really is big. I don’t think I’ve covered a third of it and I’m exhausted. Anyway, clearly I had no idea what I was talking about when I listed some gadgets you can plug into your USB port. There’s more.

The thing this year seems to be to mix n match a USB dongle. One USB drive, for example, also sports Wi-Fi. Another is also a Bluetooth dongle. Then there are the whacky things that just make the most of being a) powered by the computer and/or b) connected to the computer.

Shenzhen-based 6dragon Technology Co. Ltd (“Quality, Value and Service are not the only words we use, but these are also what we stand for”*), for example offers the following:

Massage

  • A USB vacuum (which, as the blurb puts it, ‘Can the dust of the valid clearance calculator keyboard’);
  • Several different USB-powered oxygen bars (‘Delicate style to be integrated with autos: Moreover, it is suitable to the office as well as home environment. And your taste lies here.’ Indeed);
  • The folk at 6Dragon (“If you are looking for someone to stand behind you for the long term, you will not go wrong with 6dragon!”*) also showed me a USB-radio, that looks like a dongle, but I can’t find it on their website. I see engadget were there some time ago but it was new to me.

Anyway, now you’re beginning to get an idea of what you could use your USB drive for. Go for it. Be the envy of your office-mates.

* Authentic quotes from website.

Poor Man’s WiFi

Further to my piece on WiFi for the masses, here’s another way to cut costs: Make your own WiFi dish out of a Chinese cooking vat scoop, poke a USB WiFi dongle through the mesh, and you can pick up signals more than 10 kilometres away. Total cost: about $40 for the USB dongle, NZ$8 for the dish.

The guy behind this, Kiwi Stan Swan, has previously developed the Sardine Can Antenna. I love the ideas and think he should be marketing them to those parts of the world where WiFi is turning into a bridge from having no communications at all to having Internet and VoIP.

Update: An RIAA Amnesty?

 Associated Press reports that the Recording Industry Association of America, which has promised to file hundreds of infringement lawsuits across the U.S. as early as this week, may announce an amnesty program for people who admit they illegally share music files across the Internet, promising not to sue them in exchange for their admission and pledge to delete the songs off their computers.
 
But the amnesty offer could serve to soften the RIAA’s brass-knuckle image once the earliest lawsuits are filed, giving nervous college students and others an opportunity to avoid similar legal problems if they confess to online copyright infringement.

News: Copyright? What Is That Again?

 Are we all outlaws, or what? A study by Pew Internet & American Life Project from surveys fielded during March – May of 2003 (i.e. before the RIAA started sending out subpoenas) shows that 67% of Internet users who download music say they do not care about whether the music they have downloaded is copyrighted, an increase from a July-August 2000 survey which indicated 61% — of a smaller number of downloaders — said they didn?t care about the copyright status of their music files.
 
 
What does this say? Well on the surface it looks bad — although not particularly newsworthy. But on closer inspection, two things strike me:
  • Of course, these folk who are already downloading music are unlikely to come out and say they consider themselves felons. If they did care about copyright, then what are they doing downloading music? So I think the figures are a bit misleading.
  • I suspect that, all the bluster aside, the number of people downloading music is going to drop off dramatically now the RIAA is getting heavy. Not the result I think should happen, but it’s inevitable. The Net is a mysterious place and most folk (including me) don’t really know what information can be gleaned about their browsing habits, so better safe than sorry. Whether that’s going to have the intended effect of shuffling everyone off to the mall to stock up on CDs is another matter. One likely outcome is small localized clusters of CD-MP3 sharers along the lines of old mixtapes and CD-borrowing. Not that I’m condoning piracy, oh no sireee. But, now the party’s over, who’s going to go back to buying overpriced CDs just for a couple of songs you like? Share your thoughts.