In Light of a Great Tragedy…

After watching the events of the last few days in Asia, I am still in a state of shock over the powers that we still do not understand, as well as the way that thousands upon thousands of lives can be lost in an instant.

While there are many ways in which you can contribute, I thought I would pass along one way that makes it as easy as possible for you to help those that are, as we speak, going through a crisis that is (in my opinion) impossible to ever imagine.


Amazon Honor System

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OFF-TOPIC: Why Is DRM So Hated?

I posted an article earlier today about my early experiences with Windows Media Player 10 Mobile and DRM-protected content providers at Amazingly, I have already started to receive e-mails of a rather… well – let’s just say “distasteful nature”. Even more amazingly, none of these e-mails have to do with whether or not the technology works, but that the mere existence of the technology is “fascist”, “evil”, “un-American”, etc. It really makes me question why DRM is so hated – even if it can work.

As a software developer, I believe strongly in the protection of intellectual property if the author wishes. Yet there are those who persist in defending to ridiculous extremes the rights to have crackz and warez sites. The funny thing, though, is that there are some people out there who believe that while illegal software is wrong, DRM is an entirely different story. Guess what – IT’S NOT.

The goal of DRM is to protect against piracy of digital media. It is no different than protecting any other kind of intellectual property. To argue that using a pirated copy of Windows XP is wrong, but ripping a CD to BitTorrent and sharing it with the world is, at best, a really bad rationalization to help someone to sleep better at night. If an artist wishes to protect their intellectual property, it is their right.

I am perfectly open to accepting previous arguments regarding the implementation of DRM technology. Bottom line – many of them have flat-out sucked. Many still do. But for the first time on my part, I have seen a DRM strategy in Janus and Windows Media Player that might actually work. It is not perfect, mind you, but it is a step in the right direction (protecting author’s rights while still providing consumer and content provider flexibility). The mere fact that I point this out to someone is the easiest way to determine whether or not they were simply hiding behind the “DRM doesn’t work” mantra. I have actually demonstrated Janus in conjunction with Windows Media Player 10 Mobile to people, only to have them literally fly off the handle. I actually had someone accuse me of “rigging it up” 8-|

While I am at it, I better not forget the “Your a puppet of the <expletive deleted> RIAA” argument. Response – No, I am not.  Matter of fact, I probably agree with you on many things regarding the RIAA. Where I differ, however, is by saying that they have a right to protect their interests. Just not in the ridiculously over-zealous and absolutely misdirected way that they have (by and large).

Finally – there is the “slippery slope” DRM argument, which sums up to the possibility that we may some day not be able to copy music we purchase, even for use on our other devices. I don’t disagree that the possibility exists. The current implementation of Janus DRM is dealing with this, however, and allowing for setting criteria for ripping to other devices. Could DRM be abused by, say, record labels? Of course it can. They could make it so that you could never copy music under any circumstance. Newsflash – They’ve been trying this already with flat-out copy-protection, mainly under the argument that DRM doesn’t work. Ironic, isn’t it – DRM makes strange bedfellows πŸ˜‰ If a form of DRM can be proven to work, then it will be “put up or shut up time” for the record labels as well.

Look – you can argue about the implementation of DRM, the potential for abuse of DRM by content providers, the possible hassles that it might provide. But to argue that the concept of DRM is wrong is no better than arguing for legitimizing any other form of theft. If you want to attack the Janus/Windows Media Player 10 implementation of DRM, go right ahead. If you want, instead, to e-mail to personally attack me or the the concept of DRM, do me a favor – find someone who can waste time playing psychoanalyst to people who are desperately rationalizing. That’s not me.  

“Will Code for Device” Contest Winners Announced

A while back (October, to be more precise), I posted about a great contest that was being put on for .NET Compact Framework developers. The Will Code for Device contest offered up some new Windows Mobile devices for winners, with the stipulation that there code must be made available to the public.

Well, Thom Robbins has announced the winners of the contest on his blog. Congratulations go to –

  • Chris Hockenberry – McKinney, TX  
  • David Wickersheim – Florissant,  MO 
  • Doug Luecke – Richardson, TX 
  • Woody Hansmann – Northbrook, IL  
  • Ehsan Masud – Overland Park, KS 
  • Gary Hoehn – Tyler, TX
  • John Sides – Garland Tx
  • Ken Tucker – Port St. John, FL
  • Leland Prior – East Hampton, CT
  • Duane Laflotte – Merrimack, NH
  • Loren Halvorson – Mankato, MN
  • Mike McCann – Keller, Tx
  • Marc Taylor – Wellesley MA
  • Ronda Pederson – Cleburne, TX
  • Todd Acheson – Farmington, MN

Congratulations to all of the winners!


Be sure to check out Thom’s blog over the next several days, as he will post each of the winner’s applications (including the source code). If there’s ever a good way to learn, it’s from the work of others!

Code Camp III: The Madness!

Thom Robbins has officially announced the next major Code Camp event in his blog. This coming March, it’s Code Camp III – The Madness!:

March 12/13, 2005


March 12 – 8:30 AM – 9PM

March 13 – 8:30 AM – 4PM


Microsoft Waltham
201 Jones Rd.

Waltham, Ma.


Are you a developer interested in improving your .NET skills? Then this is the event to attend. Code Camp III: The Madness promises to be both bigger and better than anything we have done before. This free two day seminar is designed as a series of intensive code related demos and technical sessions to guide the developer to the next skill level. The continuing goal of the Code Camps is to provide an intensive developer to developer learning experience that is fun and technically stimulating. The focus is on delivering programming information and sample code that can be used immediately. All training, slides, manuals and demo code is provided free!


This two day camp is hosted in our Waltham facility. The leading technical camp counselors from both Microsoft and the New England Developer Community will share their technical expertise and experiences. This code camp is divided into three tracks – Smart Client, Web Development and Data Technologies. Each track starts with a β€œget the code” basics before advancing to more advanced topics.


You can register for this event at the MS Events web site.


In a related note, Thom has also put out a Call for Speakers for the next Code Camp. If you think you might be interested in presenting on a topic, be sure to check out the information and respond soon!


And finally – Yes, I will be able to make it to this Code Camp, and I’ve already committed to presenting this time around to Thom… πŸ˜‰