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How to make piracy appealing? More government warnings.

It seems the US government continues to miss the mark on piracy and have recently announced 2 new unskippable warnings which will be featured on DVDs & Blu-rays.

The new warnings while not only targeting the wrong people (e.g. those who have legitimately brought a copy of the DVD) but likely also pissing them off a treat as the new warnings will be back-to-back and each lasting 10 seconds, adding another 20 seconds delay between the content you have PAID for.

The first warning which threatens pirates with up to 5 years in prison and a $250,000 fine:

The second warns consumers that “Piracy is not a victimless crime” and that digital “theft” harms the economy:

This has naturally angered many consumers who recognise the flaw in yet more piracy warnings on discs because they act only as a deterrent… to buying the disc. Not to piracy.

A comment I found on artechnica sums up the general feeling nicely:

“Here in Belgium, when I buy a DVD or bluray, I’m forced to watch the copyright notice from BAF & Brein, followed by the copyright notice from the filmdistributor, the age warning, the warning that opinions expressed in commentary are from the people themselves not the company, and the “you wouldn’t steal a car” commercial, and I start to regret buying the movie.

The pirate version is hassle free, starts immediately playing and can be played on my PC, Xbox or Smartphone. And I can have the pirated version weeks or sometimes months before the DVD goes on sale.

If they want to stop piracy, they should offer a superior product.”

It really frustrates me to see governments and law-enforcements getting the issue of piracy so wrong, especially with the recent high-court order to block the Pirate Bay.

These kinds of measures are completely ineffective and as with piracy warnings on DVD they only encourage users to turn to piracy because it’s easier. Why sit through 5 minutes of crappy trailers, unskippable PSAs and moronic piracy warnings when they can watch instantly online with no interruptions or delays…. or download the whole thing in half hour on torrent?

Piracy is easy, and convenient.  But the answer isn’t to try and make piracy less convenient, it’s to make legitimate paid for content as easy or better yet, easier!

I have both a Spotify and LOVEFiLM subscription at the moment, and they are both good but both have their problems, primarily that they don’t have all the content I want. Spotify has most songs, but not all so occasionally to get my musical kicks I need to track down the songs I want to hear on other services, YouTube or get it elsewhere. And LOVEFiLM? I’m cancelling because they simply don’t have nearly enough content to satisfy me. It’s also ridiculously hard to fine the content they *do* have. I can watch almost any TV show or movie I like within a minute thanks to hosted video services, obviously when watching House on PutLocker the company which made it gets nothing, if they licensed it to LOVEFiLM I’d watch, they’d get paid.

It seems in far too many cases copyright holders are far too greedy when it comes to their licensing agreements and it really is just shooting themselves in the foot.

I’ve said it to many people, but give me a service where I can get every song, every movie and every TV show and I’m there, and I’d happily pay handsomely for it. Until this can become a reality piracy will continue to be the easiest way to consume the content we all love.

Facebook to buy Instagram for $1 Billion

This acquisition is being done partly in cash and part stock. This will see it being kept as a separate brand and continued develop to allow users to upload photos to rival social networks as well as Facebook.

“…For years, we’ve focused on building the best experience for sharing photos with your friends and family. Now, we’ll be able to work even more closely with the Instagram team to also offer the best experiences for sharing beautiful mobile photos with people based on your interests…” – Mark Zuckerberg

The app sees 5million new photos per day from 30million users worldwide, with a choice of 17 filters allow users too quickly and easily share photos with friends primarily through the app and Twitter but also supports Facebook, Foursquare and Tumblr a popular blogging site. The app recently launched a version for the popular platform Android moving away from originally being just an app available on iPhones which caused some waves in the iPhone Instagram camp.

Some view Instagram as an app “to make photos look like your granny took them in the 70s” others as a way to make Photoshop style changes whilst out and about as you take the photo rather than having to download it to your computer first and play with it. Currently you cannot view photos in your browser without a direct link nor see peoples profiles, this is only possible through the app. Whatever your view Instagram is clearly here to stay, and to increase its market share in the photo sharing market.

Personally I am a big fan of it (even if it has just been since the Android release) and can’t wait for Facebook to improve it and possibly give it a public web gallery without the use of a third party app.

Editor’s Note: This guest post was written by Simon Gunton. You can follow him on Twitter @Cessle and Instagram (username: Cessle), when he isn’t tweeting he’s usually hiding behind servers.

Live London Underground updates on Google Maps

Google have now incorporated live service data for the London Underground from TFL (Transport for London) into Google Maps.

If you’re like me and plan out your journey using Google Maps this is a great tool not only including live tube time data, which now also accounts for line closures and delays  as well as being able to suggest alternate routes for commuters.

The new integration will prove useful not only to Londoners making their way across the capital but also the millions which will be flooding London this summer for the Olympics, with travelling in a foreign country additional information and service data at the finger tips of tourists will hopefully be of benefit and help those tech savvy enough navigate the chaos of London transport and ease pressure on the already straining London Underground.

It’s great seeing better use of live data like this being integrated into real-world systems like Google Maps enabling the everyday user to make real use of public data.

NFC is NOT currently supported in Windows Phone 7 PROOF

I confirmed on Saturday that my source from Nokia said that NFC will be coming with Apollo & today Microsoft confirmed this because of all the confusion that was created by the statement given to TechRader “As far as I’m aware, NFC is supported by [Windows Phone], but needs to be enabled by the OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer),” said Coleman. “So, if any OEM wants to enable it that can be done by all means.”

Microsoft spokesperson said to Winrumors “Microsoft would like to correct a previous statement it made around Near Field Communications,” said a company spokesperson to WinRumors on Monday. “While NFC is not currently supported on Windows Phone 7.5, it is coming. We expect NFC-enabled Windows Phone devices to ship within the next year.” This falls in line with the current expected dates for the Apollo launch. Nokia showed a key support for NFC at Nokia World and I’m sure we can expect a lot of great NFC devices from them maybe even the Lumia 900 will have NFC

Spotify Apps

Spotify have just announced something rather cool, Spotify Apps.

This looks like it could be a great new way to incorporate more functionality into Spotify with the addition of Apps for things like lyrics and artist information it will certainly add a whole new level to your music listening experience.

As a Spotify Premium customer myself I can’t wait to see what this will be like to use in day-to-day listening and if/how they will work this into the mobile phone apps.

What do you think of Spotify Apps? Let us know in the comments below!

Everything Everywhere: Orange & T-mobile – The “big 3G switch-on”

A while back Orange and T-mobile (UK) merged into a new company, Everything Everywhere Ltd forming the UK’s largest communications company.

As part of this Orange and T-mobile customers gained massively from the ability to use the other network for their 2G (SMS & Voice mainly) signal helping all Orange and T-mobile customers (myself included) better coverage and quality of signal.

Until now though customers have been unable to benefit from using the 3G signal of the other network. As of next week customers will be able to take advantage of the both networks 3G capabilities thanks to the latest advancements in the mobile networks evolution plan. This will enable all 27 million T-mobile & Orange mobile customers to enjoy faster internet and data access, with wider coverage (woot!).

Since the merge customers from each brand have already been using the shared 2G network in their millions, with a huge 1.7 million days worth of calls (that’s almost 41 million hours!) made on the other brand’s network, as well as a whopping 5 billion additional SMS sent and received since October 2010.

The big 3G switch-on will begin rolling out next week region by region to all T-mobile and Orange customers over the next few months.

“This is a significant achievement and demonstrates the latest milestone in our network vision and customer promise – to provide more things, to more people in more places than any other company in Britain.

Customers are always on the move and demanding instant access to information wherever they are. Not only will customers be able to talk in more places they weren’t able to before, they’ll also now be able to access the internet, social networks or download emails at improved speeds, in more places.” – Olaf Swantee, Everything Everywhere CEO.

The best bit? It won’t cost you a penny more. This will be rolled-out seamlessly and pricing and plans will remain as-is meaning a better service, without you having to pay a penny more, and without having to lift a finger. I for one – as a T-Mobile customer – can’t wait!

Windows 8 Developer Preview is here!

Many geeks have been getting rather excited now that the //build/ conference is in full swing and the first official developer release of the Windows 8 OS is available!

You can grab your copy of Windows 8 developer preview at http://dev.windows.com it is worth noting that if you have a MSDN subscription the download is much faster via MSDN.

As the developer preview is the very first release – there will still be a Beta, RC, RTM releases before the general release! – it is very buggy.

Currently I’m trying desperately to get it installed and am running into some of the issues with issues with trying to install it, and once have the install running there will be many more posts showing off some of the cool features you can look forward to!

I’m hoping to also document when I start developing some of my own Metro style apps, so watch this space!

iPhone 5 Coming In October Say Leaked BestBuy Documents

Report: Leaked Best Buy Docs Show iPhone Could Arrive in October

The fine people over at Boy Genius Report have stumbled upon documents by American electronics retailer, BestBuy. The documents suggest the iPhone 5 will be released in early October, suggesting that the current iOS5 beta is drawing to a close.

We all expected it, but this puts it into the horses mouth that we’ll be seeing Apple’s next iteration very soon.

Watch this space for upcoming info as we try to get a response from BestBuy.

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What Happens When Two Chat-Bots Talk?

Anyone seen Rise of the Planet of the Apes? Same thing.

Researchers at Cornell University have rigged together two chat-bots in a bid to see how one would respond to the other, with interesting outcomes.
In essence, a chat-bot is a computer program which is designed to simulate intelligent conversation with it’s user. The general aim to mimic that of human communication, to an extent where the user can’t tell the difference. Terminator anyone?

The outcome of two talking together is incredibly interesting and makes you realise how close we are to artificial communication, and almost intelligence. In fact, when you contact the likes of Lloyds TSB or The Royal Bank of Scotland, you’ll be put through to a chatbot to identify your query.

Have a look.

The Rise of Skynet

Debian is a big boy now – 18 years old!

Today Debian, the Linux OS, marks it’s 18th Birthday since the Debian Linux Project first kicked off with Ian Murdoch’s founding announcement statement on 16th August 1993.

In the past 18 years the Debian distro has grown massively with 11 releases to date with the most recent being Debian 6.0 “Squeeze” in February 2011.  There is also more than 35,000 binary packages for the amd64 architecture under the current “unstable” branch – over 44GB worth of Free/Libre Software!

Debian has become a well known and commonly used Linux Distro, available in over 65 languages, and with an massive user-base,  including a huge array of educational institutes Debian is here to stay.

Why not give Debian a try? Check-out Debian.org!