Customizing Samsung Galaxy S II (I9100) under Linux (pt. 2)

After some time with LiteningROM I did notice that my idle (stand-by) battery use decreased (good thing) – allowing me to get 2d of moderate use out of the phone. However I did notice that LiteningROM was memory hungry and it also looked like any interactivity caused immense power drain in the system.

Today I re-flashed with new Cognition 1.0.8

First observation: memory footprint does seem to be smaller (I couldn’t get “used RAM” under 400M with LiteningROM and with new CognitionROM I get into sub-300M zone. nice)

Now, I wait and see whether power consumption goes down to the levels of LiteningROM or below and then decide which one I’m going to stick with until CyanogenROM produces stable image for SGS2.

Fedora Core 15 install (I hate LiveCD’s)

I’ve been using Fedora on my workstation at the office for quite a while and was pretty happy with it but when it came to install on home machine I was never able to complete setup for one reason or another.

What really surprised me is how flaky LiveCD’s were when it comes to my system and setup. I had installer crash on me in random places and overall quality of installed system being below what I have on my workstation at the office. After multiple failed attempts and aggravation caused by Fedora’s inistance on renumbering of my MD devices which causes annoying inconvenience booting Gentoo back, I have arrived at a setup option that looks workable: Install from DVD. Not liveCD! Fedora didn’t make it an apparent choice – it’s burried in their download screens under “alternative media”. Installing F14 I used that option which explains why I never had problems with that install. Now after using F15 Installer DVD I think it should’ve been the default option and liveCD should be a fall-back.

Here’s the difference – liveCD already has a pre-installed version of the OS that you may or may not agree with and apparently some settings there didn’t quite agree with my system design. Now that I went through full install and was able to customize system at install time (not to mention net install option where you install up-to-date system) things look much brighter.

 

SpeakOut, Rogers and my beautiful SGS2

Looks like Data usage on SpeakOut may be an issue (or may be not..). I started gathering some info on configuring appropriate APN.

Picked up some wisdom from howardforums :

Name: Rogers
APN: goam.com
Proxy: <not set>
Port: <not set>
Username: wapuser1
Password: wap
Server: <not set>
MMSC: <not set>
MMS proxy: <not set>
MMS port: <not set>
MCC: 302
MNC: 720
Authentication type: None
APN type: <not set>

and it looks like that would limit use down to Mozilla and other browsers that have proxy settings.

# Run Fennec, and in address bar type: about:config. This will take you to the advanced configuration panel.
# Now you need to find proxy entries, to simplify that you can filter it out by taping proxy in the field below address bar.
# Modify network.proxy.http and network.proxy.http_port to your proxy server and port. (Proxy 10.128.1.69, Port 80)
# You can also modify network.proxy.ssl and network.proxy.ssl_port to be able to access https addresses. (Proxy 10.128.1.69, Port 9203)
# Set network.proxy.type value to 1.

So fun is not over just yet…. It also looks like above IP is the same IP that pops from default Rogers APN when you reset device. I’ll have to get “browsing” activated to tinker with it a bit more…

Wireless shenanigans with android (on SGS2)

While I was busy beating the dust out of my new SGS2 and tinkering with ROM’s, I came across quite a few “hidden features” that were not known to me.

*#*#4636#*#*

above will give you “test mode” in which you can run things like “ping test” etc. Nice for testing your data connection without actually connecting anywhere 🙂

*#9900#

that looks like debugging screen in which you can manipulate logs etc. for reporting, and “Disable dormancy” for better battery life.

*#1234#

above will produce phone information – very handy for reporting and looking up issues etc.

 

Customizing Samsung Galaxy S II (I9100) under Linux

I’ve got SGS2 and it’s damn cool. But that’s not enough. I really have to pimp it up/down to arrive at a device that I can call mine. Looks like Cyanogen mod that claims to be fully open source will be my goal.

So this is where I’m going to keep track of my progress and document the procedure.

Some links and tools to start:

To get phone info needed for proper images etc. you’d have to dial:

*#1234#

in “phone” app.

Follow [ROM + Guide]Official i9100 KE7/KE8/KF1/KF3/KF4/KF2/KF3 download and Root Guide and get your stock ROM and Kernel if you’re as paranoid as me.

Now the rooting…

  • Get the CF-Root. I used CF-Root-SGS2_XW_XEU_KE7-v4.0-CWM4
  • extract zip, extract tar inside and get zImage file
  • Shut down the phone
  • Make sure USB is not plugged in
  • boot phone in download mode ( “Vol down”+”HOME”+”Power”)
  • plug USB back in
  • In Heimdall use above zImage to flash it over to SGS2
  • phone reboots
  • on boot you’re presented with ugly yellow warning sign – click “Vol down” to bypass it

Immediate actions:

  1. Backup!
    1. boot device into “Recovery mode”: “Vol up” + “Home” + “Power”
    2. follow the menu

Fix-ups:

Disable Fast Dormancy:

  1. Dial

    *#9900#

  2. Press Disable Fast Dormancy
  3. Press Exit

VillainROM

VillainROM is available for SGS2 now so I had to try it. Now that I was comfortable with Heimdall operations following VillainROM Flashing Instructions was really straight-forward:

  • CF-Root – I’ve got that already
  • upload VillainROM .zip file to phone’s SD card
  • disonnect the phone from PC
  • shut down the phone
  • boot into recovery mode (“Vol up”+”Home”+”Power”)
  • from ClockWorkMod launch backup
  • once backup is done – “wipe data/factory reset” and “wipe cache” (I suspect that’s the step that killed ALL data on the phone, including photos etc.)
  • “Install zip from SD” – locate VillainROM .zip file on SD and proceed
  • reboot phone into VillainROM (takes a while on first boot)
  • from booted VillainROM – install VRTweaks
  • Launch VRTweaks (it requires internet connection)
  • from VRTweaks install “Symlink fix”
  • reboot
  • mount freshly rebooted phone from PC
  • copy CF-Root .zip to the phone
  • launch CWM
  • from CWM flash kernel using CF-Root .zip file from above
  • reboot (automatic)
  • download MODEM file
  • reboot into “Download mode” (“Vol Down”+”Home”+”Power”)
  • flash modem file onto the phone
  • reboot (automatic)

Now that VillainROM is there: backup! Launch CWM app and initiate backup from there – you can give backup custom name from here vs “Recovery mode” where it’s predefined timestamp.

I got fed up with “Yellow Warning sign” on boot so I followed the steps to get rid of it:

  • find out which stock kernel is your phone running
  • download stock ROM and MODEM
  • extract Stock ROM (first .zip then .tar – you’ll end up with bunch of .img files and zImage – you will need zImage)
  • make sure your VRTweaks installed
  • from VRTweaks run SymlinkFix and reboot into Download Mode (“Vol Down”+”Home”+”Power”)
  • in Download Mode flash above extracted kernel with Heimdall
  • reboot
  • extract CF-Root .zip/.tar file until you get to zImage
  • upload CF-Root’s zImage to the phone
  • from CWM app flash CF-Root zImage

Now it’s a good time for another backup – we’re so far ahead – it would be a shame to lose things now.

After all that I had VillainROM running on my phone. VillainROM however turned out to be not as funky as I hoped it will be. Issues I have discovered:

  • for some strange reason it wakes up camera on certain operations (which stock ROM doesn’t do)
  • there is no Russian Keyboard layout
  • browser doesn’t respond to pinch-zoom actions and “hangs” in some odd state

Constant clicking from the camera made me re-think my strategy and I decided to fall back to Stock Firmware (and discover that on-board data files are gone, d’oh! It’s not an issue if I had backed it up onto PC, which I didn’t)

Cognition S2

Now that I’ve gone through all the trouble above flashing new images is a piece of cake. Download ROM and flash it via ClockWorkMod’s Recovery Mode:

  • download ROM
  • copy it over to the phone
  • reboot phone into Recovery Mode (“Vol Up”+”Home”+”Power”)
  • select “install zip from sdcard”
  • locate .zip
  • flash

note that as a result CWM Recovery Mode version has been bumped (to 4.0.0.5) and volume keys are used for moving around and “Power” is used for selection vs 4.0.0.2’s “Home”.

Cognition looked OK, but statusbar icons were constantly changing colors, some of the original Widgets on Samsung that I’ve got used to are gone.

LiteningROM 1.5

For flashing this with Heimdall you need to extract the .RAR, then extract the tar.md5 (it’s just a tar), then use resulting

  • factoryfs.img
  • modem.bin
  • zImage

and plug them into appropriate fields in Heimdall. Looks like supplied kernel brought back Yellow Warning Sign.

After flashing phone did make that clicking sound it made with VillainROM but only on boot so I can possibly live with that.

Meteorological attack. Second front – Workforce

After dealing with Cloud vs Users case it’s time to take a look behind the scenes and uncover what else is impacted by Clouds and what the impacts are. We have already established that for users move to the cloud means parting with their data, it surely means the same thing to business entities, after all they are too users. Let’s get beyond that. If you’ve ever read “No Logo” by Naomi Klein you are familiar with the chapter “No Jobs” that follows immediately after “No Choice”. It looks like the order of chapters is not coincidental. The process of dissociation of corporation with manufacturing process and workforce is like the mushroom cloud – both stunning and horrifying.

It’s not required to read No Logo to understand simple principles at work. Principles and mechanics employed by corporations in their search of “brand identity” and “brand experience”. As usual it comes with some collateral damage:

No Choice

…Dazzled by the array of consumer choices we may at first fail to notice the tremendous consolidation taking place in the boardrooms of the entertainment, media and retail industries. Advertising floods us with the kaleidoscopic soothing images of United Streets of Diversity and Microsoft’s  wide-open “Where do you want to go today?” enticements. But in the pages of the business section the world goes monochromatic and doors slam shut from all sides: every other story – whether the announcement of a new buyout, an untimely bankruptcy, a collossal merger – points directly to a loss of meaningful choices…

So how does it translate to IT? It’s an attempt to wipe out diversity by “streamlining business practises” and “bringing them closer to the base”. Say, institution has been priding itself in it’s uniqueness in catering to a very specific customer base and generating quite a loyal following. Institution that stood out and can’t be matched by others only because… of it’s unique business practises.  However in the boardrooms this must’ve looked annoying or out of place because the decision has been made to “consolidate”, “streamline” and “merge”. In other words – all the products that are used by competition “as-is” and “out-of-the-box” are to be applied to this institution as well essentially wiping it’s uniqueness. The only logical conclusion would be that institution is being moved in the “branding” direction where product is essentially the same and service about the same as the rest but what is sold is “brand” and “experience”, not the product itself (not surprisingly since it’s the same product):

The difference between products and brands is fundamental. A product is something that is made in a factory; a brand is something that is bought by a customer

No Jobs

…corporations should not expend their finite resources on factories that will demand physical upkeep, on machines that will corrode or on employees who will certainly age and die. Instead, they should concentrate those resources in the virtual brick and mortar used to build their brands; that is, on sponsorship, packaging, expansion and advertising…

So after “No choice” invariably comes “No Jobs”. Discussed institution in this case is not exception. There is a clear sense of direction in cleansing institution of any traces of IT department outsourcing most critical applications and systems. Institution doesn’t want to burden itself with infrastructure or workforce, it needs to concentrate on what’s important – building image. Resulting in exploded marketing departments (or just expanded budgets outsourcing that activity someplace else) and reduced funding for manufacturing and R&D.

Above principles no longer apply strictly to corporations and other businesses. Now they are applied to governments and government institutions as well as education.

Some naive people assume that government is there to serve people or that education should be accessible by people and serve people’s needs. Only in case of ongoing “branding” government serves businesses believing in “trickle down effect” that has never been proved to work and education is serving business needs of companies and government. Application of business rules in government and education sectors has devastating effects: hollow and emasculated they can’t serve people anymore and have to abide by business rules serving only what business demands. Which for education means that you can’t produce any more “free thinkers” or offer “non-marketable” programs because there’s no business need for them. So instead of government shaping the economy and busineses we have businesses serving themselves with hollow government watching the carnage from afar unable to do anything.

Current hysteria about financial crisis provides fertile ground for those seeking excuses to enact “touch measures”, “trim the fat” and “streamline operations” at expense of workers, taxpayers and customers. It’s a “disaster capitalism” at work: create or wait for a crisis and then while people are dazed and confused implement everything you’ve dreamed about bypassing all the normal processes excusing yourself by extraordinary situation at hand and repeating “ad nauseum”: “In a critical time like this we have to act fast.”

What is that magic bullet that can kill that undying beast of IT department? It’s all on the frontpages of magazines – “Cloud”. Single word that spells emasculation of IT departments everywhere and narrowing of choices for consumers as well. For a government that seeks to hollow itself out it’s a prime destination.

What was previously known as “outsourcing” and became lame and unpopular over time is now called “cloud computing” and is shoved down everybody’s throat using every possible excuse.

Favourite argument of cloud-defenders is that “computing” is “new electricity” and “cloud provider” is new equivalent of “power company” with companies paying for computational power like they do for electricity. However it’s not enough for company to move infrastructure. Once it has made that step – why not make the second step and go to SAAS instead? Running VM’s on the cloud is not sexy, plus it creates tons of problems with security VPNs and it doesn’t resolve the “problem” of having IT staff. Once everything is hosted by SAAS provider you have no worries. The only insulation required is the contract. Cloud computing started as an idea of running VMs on the remote infrastructure yet still managed by a company staff, but with time term got overloaded with much more meaning making it impossible to differentiate one proposition from another and  creating new common ground for understanding. Now cloud computing equals outsourcing.

“Cloud” is what powers the transition from “unique organization” and “self-sufficient organization” to “No Choice” and “No Jobs”. Incantation that has a viral effect essentially wiping off any living cell in it’s path. “Cloud” takes all that annoyance of managing IT and removes it from institution. What’s interesting – it removes it in “unknown” direction. From that point on Institution is free of workforce and infrastructure, while whoever runs the “Cloud” is bound by limited contractual agreements and operating most likely in un-unionized environment and is free to expand and contract at will having only “temp” staff in it’s employment catering to demands of clients. So for a heavily unionized institution it’s a blessing – you move your IT services outside and your “IT Crowd” is no longer a unionized headache but rather “workforce on-demand”. That workforce doesn’t have to reside in the same country either, opening up brand new frontiers of exploration (or exploitation?).

Here’s the thing – one has to answer simple questions to realize the depth of it. “What drives organization?” – “Maximizing profit”. “What drives employees of organization?” – “Making sure organization profit margins are high, so that their jobs are secure”. Now, in the relationship “Could provider” – “Cloud client” both are driven by above principles. However their goals are orthogonal. So what is the difference between organization’s own employee and “cloud” employees? – The motivation that drives them. In case of “own employee” – his interest is for his organization to prosper or at least not to go under. In case of “cloud employee” at best his interest is to serve his employer which is orthogonal to goals of “cloud client” – he needs to maximize profit of “cloud provider” by minimizing impact “cloud client” has on provider’s resources which in turn means – spending less cycles serving the client. This entire equation is then translated into Contracts, SLA’s and Change Requests which all are then monetized at the expense of the client. Will cloud employee be interested to offer money-saving scheme to client organization, if it doesn’t maximize profit of his employer? Will client’s employee be inclined to do the same?

To be fair – it is reasonable to accept Cloud limitations and impact in organizations that didn’t have IT to begin with and are too small to own their own IT shop. However it is very hard to come up with justification for organization to drop it’s IT department and “move to the cloud” remaining at mercy of provider and contract lawyers. So while it is not in organization’s best interest to part with it’s IT for million reasons, it does make sense for the executives to move in that direction, especially if their IT department is unionized. Move to the cloud removes all the barriers and part of their job that has to do with people. It’s hard to tell person “shut up and do it” but it’s much easier with vendor, especially when vendor is de-personified and is located across the ocean…

Cloud is truly unifying and transcending entity. It’s a Borg. “You will be assimilated. Resistance is futile”.

P.S.

Quotes above come from “No Logo 10th anniversary edition”.

Meteorological attack. First front – Users

Not f'd. You won't find us on Facebook

What’s on everybody’s mind those days? Clouds. Everybody and their dog is thumping their chests yelling “cloud” from top of their lungs. Funny enough just like word “democracy” that really means nothing of the sort anymore “cloud” seems to suffer from the same problem. Everybody uses the same term – everybody means something different. So depending which side you’re on – consumer/user or IT shop or cloud provider it will also mean different things to you even with the established definition. Lets start with consumers (a.k.a. “users”) I’ll quote RMS here:

One reason you should not use web applications to do your computing is that you lose control… It’s just as bad as using a proprietary program. Do your own computing on your own computer with your copy of a freedom-respecting program. If you use a proprietary program or somebody else’s web server, you’re defenceless. You’re putty in the hands of whoever developed that software.

And it’s hard to disagree here. Maybe I’m not as militant as RMS and I do have yahoo.com account but that is a spam-collecting account I use to not abuse my real personal account. I won’t lose sleep if I lose my yahoo.com account overnight.

Going along those same lines and exploring consumer side even further it’s impossible to omit Facebook. Millions of people submit their lives to that black hole of a service. Facebook is a “dream came true” for the folks running it and rivals LSD and Crystal in addiction levels. People spend time there mindlessly playing “social” games, fighting off people they were trying to avoid in real life; parent watching their children, children blurting out all the intimate details (and pictures) to complete strangers; companies snooping on their employees; students snooping on their teachers, and so on… Worse yet you don’t even post anything about yourself – collected data about your habits and habits of your friends can tell everything about you anyway. And people submit themselves to all of the above and more (trust me, list of links would be probably twice as long as this post if I really spent more than 10 minutes looking them all up).

Facebook is not the only one though. Owners of the Google accounts – they store every damn thing there about themselves, their preferences, their geographical locations, their pictures, browser cache (I have observed our internal traffic being routed out to G proxies from machines with Google toolbar installed, neat eh?) etc. Google is just as adept at extracting “value” out of those now, but if one day it decides to go “premium” on you or better yet discontinue the service – what will happen to your data? Even if it doesn’t – where is your data now? Can you trust it to be the same data you dropped there yesterday? Security and privacy of such services do not allow me to submit my data there willingly.

It is important to understand that while Gmail, Facebook and others do bring some value to our lives (yes, they do) one has to be extremely verse in privacy and technology to be able to navigate around all the traps those services offer. Oversimplified statement would be:

Web 2.0 Rule of Daemon: if you post something to services like GMail, Facebook, Flickr, MySpace, etc. make sure you still own the data (have a copy of it) and never ever post something you would not otherwise say in public.

Lets review now: from all of the above – those “cloudy” (or should I say “blurry”?) services do not free you up from the burden of maintaining your own archive nor from backing up your information nor for carefully controlling who sees what. Which kind of defeats the hype and steam surrounding that “cloud” ( “crowd”?) and claims that you do not need personal computer anymore, you don’t need at-home storage anymore and you are free now. Yes you are free – from your own information – it lives it’s own life now on the cloud and it can leave you if it wishes so or it can morf into something you won’t be able to control: couple of years ago I stumbled upon a website (darn, I lost bookmark!) that aggregated all the data about me from various sources and offered: “For a nominal fee claim your account before somebody else does!” (if anybody remembers that site – drop a link please). And it was scary – my own data is now for sale. My personality – my id could be claimed by others. This is what you get for dropping things in hands of “cloud services”. Now you may say – “but you don’t use them and you got caught” and you’d be wrong – the reason I didn’t pay extortion fees is because my account was incomplete – lots of missing data and information which made it so much less attractive.

Now some keep claiming “Privacy is over b@tch!” but you have to remember whose interests are being served and whose are at stake here. I’m all for public disclosure and sharing – I am against it being at discretion of companies and corporations. It is my data, it is my decision and it stays with me. Remember also that most of people who advocate above ideology themselves do not live in a room with other 20 people but rather enjoy very private life in their villas and summer houses.

Dear Nokia…

Dear Nokia,
I hate you so very-very-very much for virtually killing any hope for my mobile phone to ever come to existence. N700, N800, N810 and N900 were all examples of what I could (at least remotely) call – my device. They allowed me enough freedom to tinker and change and adjust and develop the way I want. While you’re busy cuddling with Microsoft I will think of your betrayal and exercise my freedom to question your decision from the consumer stand-point.


Now, how do you revive “stagnating platform”… by switching to another one that has even less market penetration! (according to common wisdom of CEO’s if we are to believe Nokia’s press reports)

After doing some casual digging (trust me on this one – I didn’t spend hours digging for all that) turns out S. Elop is an ex-Microsoft employee. Now when I look at timeline of events it starts to become clearer and clearer:

Am I paranoid or that timeline looks awfully suspicious? From Nokia side of story – yeah, I got it – they got desperate and $1bn is a nice pocket money for fooling around with hardware which Nokia does like. It looks like S. Elop was hired to perform “Nokia loves Microsoft” stunt – who is going to execute and sell it best if not the guy who worked for the Microsoft?

From Microsoft’s side things look more like orchestrated attack on OpenSource and Linux in particular. Lets look at revised timeline with several additions:

You see, that Feb 17 line hides another icky detail: Attachmate is about to funnel patents Novel has to a holding company controlled by Microsoft, Apple, EMC and Oracle. Another interesting detail: Nokia deal apparently gives Microsoft access to Nokia’s patents as well. Now if you dig deeper back – SCO was receiving generous donations from Microsoft too while it was busy doing nothing but attack Linux and GPL.

So if anybody was thinking that Microsoft is busy baking cookies – you’re wrong – they are up to same “no good” as they ever were. This time their guns are bigger though. Pocketing Novel and Nokia is a gutsy move I must say and it’ll take all the strength of FLOSS community to get through this one.

Update (2011-05-16):  “The Register” published some interesting speculation stating that Nokia’s phone business is about to be bought by Microsoft and departure of S. Elop before the end of the year. It may be a rumor but it aligns with what was forming in my head… Bye, Nokia! (or was it: Buy Nokia! 😉 )

 

Software industry, disaster capitalism and… wait… Microsoft!

I’m not sure whether anybody is paying attention, but it looks like lately there is a ton of mounting evidence that Naomi Klein’s “disaster capitalism” is in fact the new base standard for any form of capitalism.

Let’s examine some evidence. Let’s see what Slavoj Zyzek says on this account:

…we are now entering a period in which a kind of economic state of emergency is becoming permanent: turning into a constant, a way of life. It brings with it the threat of far more savage austerity measures, cuts in benefits, diminishing health and education services and more precarious employment.

Naomi’s own words:

What we have been living for three decades is frontier capitalism, with the frontier constantly shifting location from crisis to crisis, moving on as soon as the law catches up.

Now after a bit of thinking this is the exact model Software Industry employed. Industry creates it’s own disasters to profit selling means to clean up the aftermath. Case in point: Antivirus industry. Where it started is with Microsoft and alike who were too busy pumping out new products to pay any attention to fixing existing ones. It’s like hitchhiking on a runaway train – you climb aboard for a ride when it’s moving slow but then after a while you can’t jump off – it’s moving too fast and you can’t really stay because you know tracks end someplace… So Microsoft software was buggy and full of holes which were instantly exploited by virus/trojan-makers. Instead of Microsoft plugging those holes – we saw the rise of industry responding to those problems: Antivirus. After that one took off there was no stopping it: Microsoft became partners with those same companies now they can’t screw them over and all of sudden fix everything, and why would they – nobody pays for increased security – people are conditioned to pay for “new and shiny”. So now this hydra has 2 heads, but it gets better: spammers catch on and we see the rise of botnets. Botnets provide the means for bruteforce attacks of systems that are otherwise well-protected. And you’ve got yourself third head. That monster is growing and heads multiplying.

Now look at this from the user perspective: user by now is conditioned that his/her machine is in constant state of “disaster” and doesn’t mind that state anymore since they don’t know it could be any better. Which only strengthen position of monopolies of Software Industry. If you look close enough – every “big player” plays by that book: Oracle, IBM, SAP, etc. It’s all covered by “to err is human” logo which in fact covers the ugly truth: features sell, security doesn’t.

Which is where Open Source enters the scene. Lets make a ridiculous assumption that Microsoft was producing Open Source OS to begin with. What’s the point for Antivirus companies to produce Antivirus if they can go straight to MS code and fix the vulnerability in the first place? Now for Microsoft it’s “bad business” for two reasons: somebody fixed their code and proved they know nothing about what they do, and they killed off a potential branch of “partner companies” that otherwise could feed Microsoft. So instead of spending money on fixes, code control etc. they are actually earning money by extending their partnerships and keeping an image of impenetrable corporate entity.

On closer examination Software Industry doesn’t follow capitalist ideas anymore (moreso than any other industry). Current techniques employed by software industry are more totalitarian, something that is indeed dear and near to any disaster capitalist. Corporations do not compete anymore – they are too busy screwing each other:

Behind Microsoft’s $15 Samsung Android royalty claim

What is Microsoft doing suing  companies producing Android-based devices? It’s the most blatant racketeering scheme of them all. Nobody ever saw MS claims, defendants are not the ones in position to argue since they are not the one building the platform – they are merely hooked on it. It is cheaper for them to just pay off MS so that they can get back to building handsets and other devices.

http://blogs.forbes.com/timothylee/2011/07/07/microsofts-android-shakedown/

 

Blu rays of death

There is an onslaught of infuriating things coming to my attention lately. And being the person I am I can’t just let it slide – it irks me. So here’s another one: doing a bit of casual research about Blu-Ray support in Linux I came across some happy blog talking about MakeMKV so, naturally I went on exploratory mission (it would’ve not been me if I didn’t)  and came across some interesting material about BD+ and SVQ files :

For example, if a blu-ray player is connected to home network then a BD+ program can scan all shared files on all computers on the network and upload the report to a remote server. While it is very unlikely that studios will put such an evil program on a disc, it is technically possible.

Whoa! What?!?!?! I was musing before on the subject of possibly revoked keys on your Blu-Ray device via acknowledged firmware update to accommodate newer disks requiring firmware higher than rev X, but this blows even my conspiracy theories!

Wikipedia article doesn’t alleviate the fears – it makes it oh so much more real:

BD+ is effectively a virtual machine embedded in authorized players. It allows content providers to include executable programs on Blu-ray Discs. Such programs can:[8]

  • examine the host environment, to see if the player has been tampered with. Every licensed playback device manufacturer must provide the BD+ licensing authority with memory footprints that identify their devices.
  • verify that the player’s keys have not been changed.
  • execute native code, possibly to patch an otherwise insecure system.
  • transform the audio and video output. Parts of the content will not be viewable without letting the BD+-program repair it.

While everybody was thinking that Blu-Ray devices were made for viewing movies by their owners, things are exactly in reverse – those movies are watching us. How can we be so stupid and let ourself be fooled into that?

While I have no problem paying for movies and I do exactly that to which I have a proof – my 300+ DVD collection, I object to any snooping done by any third parties in my house. My freedoms are being tampered with; I am being stripped of my privacy, my rights and my choices. I seriously, truly hate that.

Yeah, we all want high-def content on our monster-TVs, but I am not prepared to trade-in my freedoms for that. No way. I hope BD+ gets hacked just like DVDs were – once and for all. I do not to feel like criminal doing whatever I please with the Blu-Ray content within my Fair Use rights. I will not tolerate piece of equipment in my house that doesn’t play by my rules.

Blu-Ray spells death to consumer freedoms, death to privacy and death to democracy. You don’t have to think hard to imagine scenario where disks could be programmed to disable all “unwanted” content. As you’ve seen from above quotes and resources – any disc is allowed to “patch” your Blu-Ray player as it sees fit, including modification of locally stored key chains. And we though Microsoft was evil. There are new games in town that are bigger and meaner than Microsoft. Microsoft paved the way to all those new and brave entrepreneurs willing to grab you by the balls and squeeze it until you scream and then back off a little.

I am not exaggerating here. Yes, above post indicates that studios are not likely going to do it, but Sony CD rootkit scandal begs to differ. Corporate mentality dictates 2 things: maximize profits and do whatever it takes to get things done your way. Everything is evaluated as a price and apparently our freedoms cost very little in comparison to the opportunity to sell copious amounts of digital copies on different media while keeping a close eye on those who may step out of line. It has been proved over and over again – those who “pirate” content did not intend to buy or rent it in the first place so there is no “lost sales”. It is all boiling down to “creating new markets”… and selling MORE content. We who buy content may download a thing or two on occasion only to buy that same content on our next trip to the store. It is all about the availability and accessibility of content, Blu-Ray does nothing to cover those. Read “Piracy is Good?” and you’ll know what I’m talking about. Blu-Ray design proves that it was intended as a lock-in mechanism, and until I see some moratorium statement from **AA’s and elimination of accompanying functionality from Blu-Ray devices I won’t believe otherwise.

I truly and honestly hope that *AA gangs will choke on their greed and drop dead sometime soon. But that is not happening and not going to happen. I see people giving into the temptation of having “more” and it is sad. We do not ask questions and we do not think until it’s too late. Reminds me of Adbusters article” After America, there is no place to go” by Kitty Werthmann ( Issue #92 :  The Carnivalesque Rebellion Issue ). Looks and feels like we’re going through the same issues as Austrians in 1938 – they elected Hitler because they were OK trading in a “piece of freedom” for a “piece of mind” and a “peace of bread”. Very soon Austrians discovered that status-quo didn’t last. Within a year things have changed and freedoms eroded more and more every day while piece of mind and piece of bread were not forthcoming either. Our present freedoms are being taken away every day. We have elected our Hitler – the overpowering drive for “more” with Industry Admirals (or should I say Großadmiral’s?) at helm.

Don’t get me wrong, capitalism is a good thing and I do not pitch communism here, but what we currently have is not capitalism and democracy, it’s a corporatism and oligarchy – look up definitions and you’ll see I’m right.