Posts Tagged “articles”

Copy Protection

Published on December 16, 2005

An interesting article on games that use the StarForce copy protection scheme showed up on Digg the other day, and it got me thinking about the topic. I’m all for copy protection schemes, but this particular one seems a little fishy to me. All of the negative press behind it has to have some grain of truth, right?

From what little I know about it, StarForce is apparently a low-level driver that gets installed alongside some of today’s games (and even game demos!) to prevent software piracy. And a number of complaints about it indicate that said driver can cause a number of problems: from blue screens to disappearing CD or DVD drives. And what’s more, StarForce software doesn’t get uninstalled when you uninstall the product it came with (sounds a little like spyware to me). So, I was fairly disappointed when I learned that several games I was looking forward to playing (Splinter Cell 3, Silent Hunter 3, and F.E.A.R.) all made use of this new copy protection scheme. But are these rumors of system crashes and instability fact or fiction?

Unfortunately, it’s incredibly hard to tell. The vast majority of comments in the Digg article were people voicing their disgust against this scheme. And interestingly enough, most of these posts were laden with vulgar language, egregious misuse of the English language, and the occasional bit of l33t speak. These facts incline me to believe that a number of “kids” were posting their disgust about the system; kids who most likely spend their time downloading cracked versions of games. Since this particular system is turning out to be difficult for hackers to bypass, fewer games that use the system are available as downloads. So, are these people angry at StarForce’s questionable install practices, or are they simply frustrated that they’ll have to start actually paying for the software they buy? I’m not sure anyone can provide an honest answer to that question.

I have yet to purchase a StarForce protected game, so I don’t yet know if it really causes problems or not. Splinter Cell 3 is high up on my list of games to play, so I might bite the bullet and get it – if only to see if these complaints are valid or not. I’d like to believe that this cacophony of opinions is similar to those voiced when Valve’s Steam system was introduced. As an owner of Half-Life 2, I only have good things to say about the Steam platform; so might I not be just as pleased with the performance of StarForce? We can certainly hope.

Unintended Audience

Published on November 3, 2005

In looking at my site statistics this morning, I noticed that my previous post on Google and OpenOffice actually made it to NewsForge. That was surprising to me (albeit a pleasant one), but I certainly didn’t expect such a wide audience for my thoughts on the matter. Had I expected such a turnout, I would have put a little more thought into the post before actually publishing it. As such, I’d like to clarify a few of the points I made.

My ultimate point was that, in my opinion, the office application battleground is likely to see more cut-throat action in the short term than operating systems are. I certainly cannot support this claim with fact. But operating systems seem to me to be a much more difficult problem to solve, simply because they are bigger, more complex beasts. As a result, it seems like it would simply take longer to create an excellent OS than it would an excellent application.

I also believed I oversimplified my stance on the Linux community. The points made by Greg Raiz in his recent article on Linux are exactly how I feel. Linux is certainly poised to encroach on Microsoft’s territory. But desktop users need to have a reason to want to switch. As Mr. Raiz pointed out, a unified environment, where there’s One Way to do things, would appeal to many people (particularly “newbies”). Apple was heading down that very road before they made the switch to a UNIX base.

A unified environment, where the user interface paradigm is the exact same for every application would be awfully appealing. I would certainly consider switching to such a solution. I want Linux to succeed. The more developers can weaken Microsoft’s iron grip on the market, the better the universe will be for everyone. But there’s a long road to ride down before we reach that point. Let’s get to work!

Greg’s Linux Thoughts

Published on November 2, 2005

There’s a story over at Slashdot that points to an article written by Greg Raiz, a former Microsoft employee and user-interface designer. In it, he discusses what’s wrong with Linux, and how Linux can catch up (and perhaps surpass) Windows. His points not only hit the nail on the head, they drive the nail into the board.

Unfortunately, but not surprisingly, a number of Linux fanatics are doing nothing but whine in the article’s comments. This only illustrates Greg’s point even further. Operating systems are no more than religion. You have your beliefs; I have mine. And just like with actual religion, it turns out to be rather difficult to convert people to your point of view.

A Real Classy Guy

Published on September 17, 2005

Scott Berkun used to work for Microsoft on the Internet Explorer web browser. So if there is anyone around who can appreciate the machinery behind the web browsing experience, it’s him. Scott recently switched to using Firefox as his primary web browser (his article explains why he made the change). But more interestingly, he provides several things he sees wrong with Firefox. Several of his points are right on target (there is some broken-ness in the Firefox world), and several of his points are a little off the mark (a few of his problems can be solved with extensions).

But Scott has class. He recently posted a followup article, clarifying a number of questions raised by the first one. In it, he admits that after he heard from a number of Firefox users, he saw that some of his views warranted another look. And he also (correctly) points out that there is still inherit broken-ness in the browsing world as a whole. Thanks for an insightful post, Scott. And here’s to your switch to Firefox: you won’t regret it.

Stuff Worth Reading

Published on September 12, 2005

I have recently come across two computing articles that I highly recommend:

Code Craft: Freedom Languages
Author Kevin Barnes discusses the differences between the “safety” programming languages (C++, Java, etc.) and the “freedom” languages (Perl, Python, etc.). His points are well organized, his argument well written, and the article highly insightful.

The Six Dumbest Ideas in Computer Security
Recently featured on Slashdot, this article points out exactly what’s wrong in computer security. Allow the following quote to provide a taste of this excellent work:

“…if the conventional wisdom was working, the rate of systems being compromised would be going down, wouldn’t it?”

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