anti-anti-feature: Windows license stickers

Anti-Anti-Feature: An antifeature that doesn’t actually do what it’s meant to (something you didn’t want in the first place)

My laptop came with a Windows Vista license. An anti-feature in itself – I didn’t want it, have never used it (I run Ubuntu and love freedom).

However, if you try and read the license key off this sticker, it’s increasingly difficult to do so. It’s being worn away. Why? Because it’s on the bottom of the laptop and I’m using it on my lap (so friction rubs it away).

Luckily I don’t run Windows Vista and need to re-install it any time soon.

Anti-anti-features: region coding

DVD anti-features are rather well documented. The purpose of “region coding” was to make sure that everybody who ever visited a foreign country and picked up some DVDs while there would get home to find out that they wouldn’t work.

Luckily, those of us who pay good money for DVDs have free software solutions to let us used our payed for product and not force us to download “pirated” copies just so we can view what we payed for.

The region coding in DVDs was designed with the idea that DVD players would always be expensive. You could “change” which region your DVD player was in a set number of times before you could no longer change it.

DVD players can now be bought for $30 (or less). This is what you could pay for a DVD movie. So with economies of scale driving prices down, even if CSS wasn’t completely broken, you can brute force the region coding by just buying 6 DVD players ($180) – less than many of us payed for our first, second or third DVD player.

The same thing will happen with BluRay. You can now get BluRay players for a couple of hundred dollars. One for each of the regions (A, B and C) will cost you less than original BluRay players cost.

So the antifeature of limiting who can watch a DVD/BluRay release is easily broken as player costs come down.

H.264 Anti-features

No, You Can’t Do That With H.264 is an excellent write up of how H.264 (“MPEG-4”) is fraught with problems that you just would not have if using Free (as in Freedom) formats such as Ogg Vorbis and Theora.

It is amazing that Final Cut “Pro” cannot actually be used to create H.264 content for commercial (i.e. “Pro”) use!

It’s the same for MPEG-2.

Oh, and if you use it to decode video that was encoded by somebody without the proper license… well, then you’re also screwed. How the heck you’re meant to work that one out I have no idea.