Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Consider Satellite Radio

Big news today was about a proposed merger between the two main Satellite Radio providers who claim they need it to survive, and I just started thinking about their situation and wondered, why don't they have channels with advertising?

Simple idea, and it goes to a business model that works--cable television.

There are pay channels and there are channels that offer advertising.


But these people think they are smart and believe that the benefit they offer customers is NO advertising, so they'd rather die than consider that the benefit they offer customers is the ability to get what they want anywhere.

If they offer channels that have ads they can have people listening who have basic subscriptions, who are using them because they can get a digital signal anywhere in the country (thinking about the US).

So yeah, why can't they just listen to the radio then?

Because hey, I've traveled across this country several times and you have to keep switching stations. Duh.

Millions of dollars at stake. The survival of companies and lots of people's jobs on the line and thinking in the box--following a business model that is currently working for the cable industry--doesn't occur to people you'd think would want to win.

But problem solving can be about obvious, when obvious is invisible to people who have not been trained how to think.

And in the real world, entire countries can die for stupid reasons because people were too "smart" to figure out simple solutions, so a couple of dinky companies?

Barely worth talking about, and believe me, at the rate they are going, they both will die---with the answer to their problems staring them in the face.

James Harris

Thursday, February 15, 2007

More on copy protection

I made a post a little while back about a simple way to do copy protection that has minimal impact on end users, but that was a long post that might be confusing, so I thought I'd do a short post that talks about it succinctly, with another aspect to the idea that occurred to me.

The idea is, when a person makes a copy say of a bought DVD, their copy is encrypted with a code generated by their personal machine, so that their machine can read the copy, but no other person's machine can--unless given a key which can be passed by a flash drive.

Additionally I realized that on their home network their personal machine can automatically pass the key so that they can read their own copies on their own network without using a flash drive.

So what's the point of the idea then?

Well, their own machine is encrypting--not the manufacturer of the DVD--so the end user can make as many copies as they want for personal use, but no one else can use those copies, without the key, but even with the key, the copies are carrying a lot of information about the person who made the copies and I think that with a two step process you would end a lot of casual copying, and when people know they are putting their own stamp on copies, you probably would shut down even more.

I like the idea as with it, I could make as many personal copies I want without worrying about dumb copy protection blocking me from copying DVD's I purchased, and wouldn't get bugged by people asking me to make them copies when they'd know that they'd need a flash drive as well, and there would be this digital fingerprint saying I made the copy.

It's a no-brainer good idea, but hey, I'm just some guy on a blog and there are people letting millions of dollars go out the door because they don't listen to people like me, so here is where it might stay.

But it just goes to show you, those people aren't as smart as they think they are.

And oh yeah, the idea is free. It's open source as in I am not asking for money for it. I'm just tossing it out there to the world because I know the world better than you do.

This idea may just sit here on my sites indefinitely because at the end of the day, people like throwing money away versus thinking outside the box--for real--versus claiming they do.

James Harris

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Comments on Intellisense(TM)

Back when I was a professional programmer I used Microsoft Visual Studio for C and C++ programming working for one corporation and when I moved on to another and ended up also moving to Java programming I just assumed I'd be using an IDE and did so for a while with the Java IDE's that were available at my company, but found the experience to be not as smooth as with Visual Studio. Soon other developers told me that no one was really using the IDE's with Java and that most just used the command line, and I did so and found things were a lot easier and I got a lot more done.

But that was a while back and I know that today Eclipse and NetBeans offer very different experiences, so if I were still professionally programming, who knows? Maybe I'd be off the command line and happily again using an IDE like at the start of my professional career as a developer.

However, there is one feature that always annoyed me--auto-completion--and I have to wonder if there are others like me, who would also either find ways to turn it off, or just kind of grit your teeth when the IDE starts suggesting methods. Way back there were times I'd type really fast to try and beat the thing!

In some ways my Class Viewer program which is a highly specialized app deliberately is a throwback to just using the command line and using something other than auto-completion for quick reference.

In any event, I'm looking for comments on auto-completion, wondering if others find it kind of annoying, and also wondering more generally about how quick reference is done by other developers.

One of my personal favorite things about Class Viewer is that if I'm having trouble remembering a particular method but know what its argument is or what it returns I can just type that into a search field and get every method that has even a piece of that string in it, which is why the screen shot for project shows finding all methods in the String class that have "char" in them:

Class Viewer Screenshot

So again, I'm also wondering how developers solve that problem as I don't see how auto-completion does it, but I'm biased of course towards my own solution.

If I get no comments at all, don't worry, it won't hurt my feelings. This blog doesn't get a lot of traffic.

James Harris