Archive for August, 2004

Seybold DRM Roundtable

Tuesday, August 17th, 2004

Tomorrow I’ll be on a DRM panel at the Seybold San Francisco publishing conference. See my Creative Commons weblog post for more info.

No, I will not be talking about porn restriction management.

A pin maybe found in a haystack

Monday, August 16th, 2004

Ed Felter spreads a SHA-1 hash collision rumor.

Eric Rescorla does a good job of explaining that even if true, a collision is not of great practical import.

Why? Most uses of SHA-1, including Bitzi, rely on the practical impossibility of finding content that will generate a specific hash.

A collision merely means that two pieces of content (“messages” in crypto-speak) have been found that generate the same arbitrary hash.

For reasons that aren’t all that intuitive, it is much harder to find a specific match than an arbitrary collision.

I think in day-to-day experience a good analogue would be this: it’s pretty easy to find odd coincidences if you look. If you know how to conjure up specific odd coincidences on demand, tell me.

All that said, Bitzi also uses the Tiger hash, which is not from the same family as SHA-1, as an insurance policy among other things.

Disclaimer: I am not a crypto expert. If true this rumor may be huge news for crypto theorists.

Porn Restriction Management to the Future

Wednesday, August 11th, 2004

The porn industry and porn consumers are often said to be early adopters of consumer technology, e.g., VCRs and modems. So to what extent is porn delivered with Macrovision, CSS, region codes, and other copy protection methods as relevant to the formats in question?

I searched briefly but didn’t turn up any good answers, just assertions like

We can expect DRM to become commonplace as more porn producers take measures to prevent pirating of their content.


I should add that the porn market is also hot for DRM, but not too many vendors want to call attention to that.

and others wondering or speculating that porn site competition will stop DRM:

Some websites have begun to encode pr0n with drm requiring you to download a license everytime you want to watch the movie. I’d just stop using those sites. They’ll get the hint when their traffic starts moving to sites with no drm. Hopefully. It doesn’t really make sense to drm a 10 second clip when it takes 20 sec. to dl the license.

I’m looking for data regarding DRM use for pornographic content. Please tell if you have any ideas or know a good place to ask, even if you’re reading this long after the posting date.

Update 20040813:Jake (last cite above) comments below that a company is already selling DRM to the porn market. Actually there are several. I’d be surprised if any DRM concern isn’t making some effort in this regard. My question has to do with whether many in the porn content industry are buying.

Tom W. Bell adds another guess:

My guess: No. Porn consumers seem content with cheaply produced and only modestly original works. Porn producers thus need not recover the sort of fixed up-front costs that plague the traditional film industry.

That’s my guess as well, but I have no evidence. Thus the query.

I Hate Nationalism

Tuesday, August 3rd, 2004

Alex Tabarrok hits on a profound point:

Blogging about the convention, William Saletan hits on a profound point. It’s not just Democrats, however, the framing of “us” and “them” is perennial and it’s the expansion of “us” that is at the heart of our civilization.

Obama, like other speakers at this convention, complains about “companies shipping jobs overseas” and workers “losing their union jobs at the Maytag plant that’s moving to Mexico.” At the same time, Obama holds himself out as a symbol of a diverse, welcoming America. How can Democrats be the party of diversity at home but xenophobia abroad, the party that loves Mexican-Americans but hates Maytag plants in Mexico, the party that thinks Obama’s mom deserves a job more than Obama’s dad does? I understand the politics of it. But what about the morals?

(Emphasis added, sort of — see title of Tabarrok’s post.)

Unfortunately Obama (and Kerry with his “Benedict Arnold firms” nonsense) are far outclassed in the hypocrisy department by Bush & co.’s complete misundertanding (I can’t think of an appropriately harsh word at the moment, so misunderstanding will have to do) of freedom, and just about everything else.

Sturgeon’s Architecture

Monday, August 2nd, 2004

Tyler Cowen wonders about the relative ugliness of modern buildings and offers five possible explanations. I’ll buy a version of his least favorite:

5. Perhaps contemporary suburban developments will be seen as beautiful by future generations. I’ll bet against this one, but we will see.

The boring parts of suburban developments won’t stand the test of time, literally. They’ll be razed. The parts left behind we be deemed beautiful. For example, in Sunnyvale, California, artless ranch-style homes seem to predominate, though it is hard to miss the occasional Eichler. I gather that both styles were built out in Sunnyvale during roughly the same post-WWII period. I predict that the ranches will disappear at a higher rate.

What we have at work here is an extension of Sturgeon’s Law, which says that ninety percent of everything is crap. If two percent of crap is removed each year while the good stuff has a one percent attrition rate after a few centuries there will be far more good stuff than crap left standing. Numbers for hunch illustration only.

Update: A commenter here makes the same point. The correct term is survivorship bias.

Moth : Flame :: Human : Religion

Monday, August 2nd, 2004

Mahalanobis channels Richard Dawkins’ explanation of religion:

Natural selection builds child brains with a tendency to believe whatever their parents and tribal elders tell them. And this very quality automatically makes them vulnerable to infection by mind viruses.

While both links are worth reading (and explain the subject of this post), the cartoon included in the first grabbed my attention:

christianity is stupid
Unknown source. Found at several German language websites with filename heiden.jpg. I believe heiden translates as “heathen.”

I’d like to see this concept in video, perhaps a “mash” of archival footage featuring various xian and non-xian rituals. Until then The Mashin’ of the Christ will have to satisfy.