Why I Won’t Upgrade to Vista

Why I won’t Upgrade to Vista: Three letters: DRM.

Three letters: DRM.

I’ve seen it in action. Vista spends more processor cycles doing shit-all than any other Windows version yet produced. After spending my hard-earned dollars on an expensive, fancy, dual-core processor, I don’t want those processor cycles wasted on checking whether I have the right to play a particular MP3 file (or video, or whatever).

I happen to like the way my computer runs now – we’ve got an older, (fairly) stable OS running on hardware that’s evolved way beyond it – which is GOOD! When the hardware outpaces the software, things run FAST. When the software outpaces the hardware, things run S…L…O…W…

Check out this article, and be sure to follow the links it includes. Here’s a snippet that really gets my blood boiling:

Here’s another blatant lie:

Will Windows Vista content protection features increase CPU resource consumption?

Yes. However, the use of additional CPU cycles is inevitable, as the PC provides consumers with additional functionality. Windows Vista’s content protection features were developed to carefully balance the need to provide robust protection from commercial content while still enabling great new experiences such as HD-DVD or Blu-Ray playback.

For those of you running Windows Vista, start Windows Media Player and play a random MP3 audio file. Go into Task Manager and look for a process called “mfpmp.exe” with description “Media Foundation Protected Pipeline EXE.” Notice how much CPU it uses. On my machine it fluctuates between 10% and 20% CPU time. Other users are seeing even larger consumption of CPU resources, just check out this comment.

And now the question for Microsoft: Why exactly is mfpmp.exe needed to play an MP3 file, when you say the content protection technology is there for HD-DVD and Blu-Ray?? What additional functionality am I getting, exactly, from mfpmp.exe when I play an MP3 file? As it is now, the content protection technology just uses more resources while providing no benefits at all to the user, just like Peter Guttman wrote in his paper and we’ve all argued before. No wonder there are sometimes gaps in the audio on my PC, which by the way ran much faster on Windows XP. I thought Vista was about more robust video and audio playback?? Even high end systems have these issues. I find myself using VLC to play video files more often now because Media Player feels so slow and bloated. Even when playing MP3 files, VLC uses much less CPU resources compared to mfpmp.exe and wmplayer.exe combined!


DRM can bite my…

The BBC reports that following approval from the BBC Trust they are now allowed to release their ‘iPlayer’, enabling the download and viewing of BBC owned content. Unfortunately the Trust also mandated the use of DRM to enforce a 30 day playable period.

This just makes me really, really mad:

The BBC reports that following approval from the BBC Trust (an independent oversight body) they are now allowed to release their ‘iPlayer’, enabling the download and viewing of BBC owned content such as Doctor Who. Unfortunately the Trust also mandated the use of DRM to enforce a 30 day playable period, and exempted classical music performances from being made available. There will now be a 2 month consultation period. According to one of the trustees, the Trust ‘could still change its mind if there was a public outcry and it was backed up by evidence.'”

It is a sort of “well, we know you all will hate it, but we’re going to do it anyway and hope that you don’t notice how we’re trampling on your rights.”


Great Hackers

Explains why I don’t know Java. (Although I don’t know Python, either.)

Great Hackers

Explains why I don’t know Java. (Although I don’t know Python, either.)


“How To Hack”

“How To Hack,” a brief guide to hacking (the way of thinking more than anything else) by: Keith M. Survell.

“How To Hack” by: Keithius

There’s something weird that goes on in my head when I think about programming (or “hacking”, to use one definition of the word). It’s as if as soon as I think about something I want to achieve (a “goal”), I see it happening, and simultaneously, as if in a split-screen, I see the code needed to accomplish it. My brain just “shifts” from the world of abstract ideas into the world of concrete code (minus a few details here and there).

I find this interesting because it’s also the way I learn a new language. For example, when I learned C++, I learned the basics of the language in a class (for the most part). But I really learned how C++ worked when I was watching a program through a debugger, literally tracing each line of code as it executed, following its effects on the “face” or visual aspect of the application, or on the file system, or on a database. The same thing goes for VB… I watched code through the debugger, I traced other people’s sample applications, following instructions and taking note of properties & methods. After a while, these properties & methods became second nature to me – I don’t have to spend a lot of time looking up properties or samples in any manual or anything. I just know them.

Today I spent a LOT of time messing around with CSS, or cascading style sheets – a very, very useful thing to know for web design these days. Frankly, my web sites are crap compared to what they could be if I were better with CSS. But anyway: I was messing around with CSS today; copying bits of code from other websites that had “features” that I wanted, then modifying every property of these features to see what effect it had “visually” on the page I was working on. Through this “tweaking” process, I came to know CSS by heart. I started the day flipping through several very good guidebooks to CSS; by the end of the day I was freely modifying my CSS file without referencing the guides at all (well, almost). And the best part is, the page I was working on (a new web site for work) turned out great. When it’s done and published publicly, I’ll let you know where to find it.

So, that’s my reflection on my “hacking” technique… basically just “fiddling” or “tweaking” something that already works until I know all about it, and then I can build something just like it, and then change it completely to suit my needs. I personally think this is the only way to learn… at least as far as some things are concerned… mostly skills, like languages (computer or otherwise) or technical skills (mechanic, carpenter, etc). So, if you find yourself needing to learn something new… give my method a try. Maybe you’ll surprise yourself when you pick up a new skill really quickly.