November 13, 2005

A possible DRM solution

Category: Politics,Tech — @ 6:03 pm

Recently I wrote about a DRM and Anthropology debacle asking for help for a fellow friend whose files are basically in limbo-land, totally stuck, in a format that can’t be converted. I asked for comments but, brilliantly, did not open the comments. So here is one useful one passed along by email:

Here is a small, not completely cheap box which can take the protection code off the digital audio, at least at some situations of usefulness in a digital chain.

It could help your situation, I think. However, Sony, if you have been following the news recently, hires all sorts of incompetent people to design their DRM things.

So I think there is no way to find out for sure except to have someone pretty capable with digital audio try some things with your locked-out backups, probably just the other digital audio gear you have, and this box.

They may have to think a little to get it to work out, so find one person or more who like to be clever.

Good luck. And thanks for bringing this out…

And then I got this from Patrice R today, refering to the fact that many famous anthropologists lost thier data:

M.N. Srinivas “The Remembered Village” , I think the nicest case of lost date got
best book. And if I am not mistaken Fernand Braudel’s “La Mediterranee” is also the
result of lost data (FB in a German POW camp, MNS in an arson at Stanford)

The Left and Right Coast–Regulating Search

Category: Politics,Tech — @ 4:13 pm

So as part of my research and studies, I went from midwest, to west coast, and now I am back on the east where I used to live. While the midwest is home to one of the most prestigious law schools, there is very little activity related to technology, IP, and free speech issues–on academic or activist lines, at least in comparison to the other coasts.

On the west coast the activity was and still is overflowing but much of it was advocacy, policy related, or political in nature. Not to mention there are tons of grass roots initiatives related to this sort of stuff. Stanford law school and Boalt school of law however, guaranteed a consistent academic face.

Out on the east coast, I feel there is much less non-legal as well as perhaps legal (but I may be very wrong on that account) advocacy but the academic presence is very well developed, for example with seminar’s such as NYU’s Colloquium on Information Technology & Society and numerous conferences. One of the up and coming ones looks particiularly good,
Regulating Search: A Symposium on Search Engines, Law, and Public Policy. Certainly worth going to if you are around.

November 6, 2005

An Anthropologist’s worst nightmare: DRM

Category: Anthropology,Not Wholesome — @ 9:28 am

Anthropologists all fear two related things: that we won’t collect any interesting data and if we then proceed to do so, one day it will vanish either in flames, following a computer break down, or theft. This fear perhaps used to be more acute before the digital era, when pen and paper were your only recourse to inscription. One copy in existence meant that if it was lost, well, you were in deep trouble (except if you are Edmund Leach and
Max Gluckman who also lost their field notes for projects and look where that GOT THEM :-) ) Since the photocopy machine, copies could be made and with the computer, multiple copies and backups can be secured.

But there are new dangers for losing data in the golden age of computing having to do with a piece of technology that hackers love to loathe, Digital Rights Management which is usually not the prime concern of anthropologists, but of geeks and other netizens.

However, it is something that anyone who uses digital technologies for data gathering and recording, should really care about. The story below is from a fellow University of Chicago anthro grad student whose data was lost through a hard drive crash. He of course made backups, like any sensible person should do. But since he had to transfer the backups to a new computer, the hardware does not recognize it, being that it can only be used on the original harddrive where it was first placed. Below is the full story. If anyone is interested in cracking this format, or any solution, don’t hestitate to email me as this person is still actively looking for soltutions to this problem.

The story is basically as follows. I’ve been using a Sony Minidisc to record interviews and various other events for the past year, for my dissertation fieldwork. After recording anything, I would come home, transfer the files from the Minidisc onto my laptop, back them up on a CD, and just for safety also on a secure server. I would then delete them from the minidisc. About two weeks ago my HD crashed, looks like a mechanical problem. It would just go dead or restart a few moments after being turned on. A couple of times it lasted just long enough in windows to let me see that the files were all still there, and even open a couple. At a computer lab here they first formatted it, because I told them I had all my important data backed-up, which I thought I did. They realized then it was beyond redemption, and installed a new HD instead. I still have the old one, but it’s now both a mechanical problem and the discs being formatted. After re-installing everything on my new HD and recovering all my backups, I imported the audio files into SonicStage 3.2, which recognized them and added them to it’s library, but wouldn’t let me play them or do anything with them. The files are in Sony ATRAC3 and ATRAC3-Plus formats, with .oma and .omg endings. SonicStage either tells me the there is invalid rights management information in the OpenMG content (for .omg files), or first asks me whether I would like to connent to the internet to download the license for the content, and then gives me the message about invalid rights information (for .oma files). Another program, HiMDRenderer, which can convert ATRAC3 files into wav, also doesn’t let me convert the files or access them in any way. Audio I’ve recorded with the minidisc and imported into my computer after installing the new hard-drive works fine – I can listen to it in SonicStage or convert it to wav. I also tried installing the atrac codec and use sndrec32 to play it, but this won’t work either. In internet forums I’ve seen other postings of people who had similar problems, it seems like the Digital Rights Management system only allows certain files to be played on the original computer, and renders them unreadable elsewhere.


Category: Uncategorized — @ 6:52 am

Interprete on healthhacker will soon be down and moved to evil-wire and here is the new URL:

November 5, 2005


Category: Research — @ 8:40 pm

I have started to blog again on DGI. It may soon be the only place where I blog and I imagine less frequently than before. And even if I keep this one, it will soon be moving into a new house, so I will post the address once and if the move is made.

November 2, 2005

Anarchism and Christianity

Category: Politics — @ 5:50 pm

I am not sure when my friend Pedro has time to write this stuff but he apparently he doe. If you are interested in a critique of corporations, and the relation between anarchist ethics and Christianity, look no further. Pedro has written plenty on the subjects, neatly divided in three parts:

Anarchy as a Political and Ethical Option
Part II
Part III