Richard Stallman is the Rush Limbaugh of the Tech World

Richard Stallman is a tech celebrity who has been on the tech scene for a long time. He is most widely known for his free software activism. Basically, his stance is that ALL software should be free. By free, I don't mean free of charge. I mean free to use/copy/distribute/modify. Stallman basically believes that nobody should "own" software. Once you create a piece of software and release it to the public, it is now owned by the public.

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MLB.TV (and their website) sucks

For the past couple of years I have tried MLB.TV so that I can watch all of the Cubs games which are not available to me. The biggest problem is that I don't live in the "market" for my favorite team. I would guess that most sports fans live in the region where they can watch all their team's games on local TV. I cannot, because I live 1,715 miles away from Chicago. And because MLB is greedy and they care more about $$ than they do their fans, the only way I can reliably watch the Cubs is to pay $20/mo for their low quality service which gives me way more than I would rather pay for.

My first complaint is that I would rather pay $5/mo for just the CUBS games. But MLB forces you to pay for ALL teams/games, and the lowest price available is $20/mo. STUPID!

My second complaint is that the premium service sucks. This year I payed $25/mo for premium, and this gives you DVR like functionality, higher quality video (supposedly), plus you can watch away games with the home broadcast. This last bit means that if the Cubs are playing in St. Louis, I can watch the official Cubs broadcast instead of watching the official St. Louis broadcast. The trouble is that the software MLB chose for these premium features SUCKS rocks! I tend to watch a game after it has already started, or maybe hours later. So the DVR features were attractive. The trouble is that the software constantly crashes. Many times I was watching an in progress game 1 or 2 hours behind live. I would try to skip the commercial breaks by clicking the next half inning from the inning selector, but at this time the software would crash. It's hard to explain this, but basically MLB.TV uses two different software packages to stream games. A basic package that just streams live (and at a lower quality). And a "premium" package which works through a plugin that you have to install (this is the software that gives you DVR features, and higher quality video). This latter piece is called NexDef. Well, NexDef crashes all the time, and when it does (if you are watching an in progress game), the software switches to live mode. What this means is that you may have been watching in the 3rd inning, but you now just jumped ahead to the bottom of the 9th inning. Fun, right? NOT!

My third complaint is the MLB.TV website. Last month I wanted to downgrade my subscription from premium to basic (for the above stated reasons). But the stupid MLB website doesn't even offer a downgrade option. I was forced to cancel my subscription, and then try to sign up for the Basic service from scratch. But the trouble is that their stupid site won't allow this kind of transaction. Once you cancel your current subscription, the site lets you use the old subscription until the month that you paid for runs out. This would normally be a nice customer satisfaction feature, right? But what if the site then won't tell you how long you have left on your subscription? And also, what if the site won't let you sign up for new service until your old cancelled subscription expires? Yup, you guessed it. This is exactly how MLB.com works. So I am now stuck in limbo land, and my only option is to wait until the secret date when my old subscription expires and then signup again.

My fourth complaint is the retarded exclusive agreement MLB signed with Fox for weekend games. 99% of weekend baseball games are BLACKED-OUT to MLB.TV subscribers. MLB agreed to give Fox sports exclusive rights to ALL MLB games on Saturday and Sunday that start after 11 PM pacific (or something like that). Well guess what? 99% of the weekend games start after that time. So unless your local Fox miraculously decides to broadcast YOUR game on your local Fox station (almost never happens), you just can't watch it. Even though you are a PAID SUBSCRIBER to MLB.TV, you CAN'T WATCH THESE GAMES. This should be AGAINST THE LAW!

I would NOT recommend MLB.TV to anybody I know. But the trouble is that if you are a true fan of a team outside of your local TV market, MLB.TV is your ONLY option (aside from watching the handful of games a year that might show up on ESPN/Fox). Thanks MLB for screwing your fans as you greedily pursue more money to add to your already fat purses.

How Not to Announce Product Releases

I watch a couple of blog aggregaters for the ColdFusion community, and one thing I notice a lot is blog entries that announce product changes and/or releases. But one thing that is usually missing is a good product description.

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Pirates

I was thinking today about software piracy. I have a book I'm reading that I borrowed from a friend. It is legal for me to read this, and one can even go to the library and borrow a book, the same copy that possibly hundreds of others over time have read. If authors are OK with that, and they are able to make a lot of money anyway, what's up with software developers?

One big difference I can think of is that software usage is a LOT different than reading a book. If I give you a copy of ColdFusion, I am most likely still using it myself. You go ahead and install CF on your server, and I've still got it on my own server. Adobe made no money from you, while you might go ahead and start making money by using their software.

When I lend a book, I can no longer use it (nor do I generally want to use it anymore, as I'm finished). Of course, there are people out there that make freeware software, and usually encourage you to share it with your friends (like Firefox). But I think in these cases the author wants his software to spread for the sake of popularity, not for profit. Similar to newspaper columnists. They do make money from the printing of their article, but they don't care if people spread their column all over. In fact, it is common to see a columnist's works on his personal website, available for free, sometimes before they are printed in any newspaper.

But I don't think it's wrong for people to make money selling software. There are people in the open source world, particularly those that follow the precepts of the Free Software Foundation, which professes, "The Free Software Foundation...is dedicated to promoting computer users' rights to use, study, copy, modify, and redistribute computer programs." But if a person or company spends a lot of time and effort developing software that really helps others, they should be compensated for it. And while some are happy to gain popularity as their compensation, it's not like everybody can live off of the complimentary emails they get from their users. And while I do think some companies take anti-piracy measures too far (I believe software should belong to a person or company, not to their PC/Server), piracy in itself can do a lot of damage.

My wife's new blog

My wife Dyany recently started a blog. She has owned dyany.com for a couple of years now, but just decided she wanted to put a blog up. I thought 'Dyno's Whine' was a pretty clever blog title. :)

UC Berkeley Researchers Developing Robotic Exoskeleton that can Enhance Human Strength and Endurance

Looks pretty cool. The article mentions military, fire fighter, and rescue workers as benefitting from such technology, but I can see how manufacturers and possible other business could use it (construction workers, etc.)

DailyComics 2.5

I put many long hours into getting a new release of DailyComics out last week. I had a few bug reports from users, and this release fixes all but one of those. Also, one user complained that they couldn't rename and/or delete comics. This is the part that took the most work to add, but its there now. Now I'm just waiting for the inevitable email saying, "HELP! I've deleted my favorite comic! How do I get it back?!" I did put in a warning message that tells the users that deleting comics is irreversible...so we'll see how it goes.

DailyComics news

Ok, now DailyComics is up to version 2.0. People can now add their own comics, and I've added a comprehensive help system. See the last post if you don't know what the heck I'm talking about here.

DailyComics

I've started a project over at mozdev.org. For those of you that aren't familiar with this site, its a place that hosts Mozilla related software projects, ala SourceForge.
Well, my project is called DailyComics, and it is a stand alone application that can go grab a bunch of comics from the web and display them all in one page. It started out as a very simple idea, but with lots of feature requests coming in, it will eventually turn out to be a pretty complicated program (at least from a programmer's stand-point).
Well, it must be said that I suck at programming. DailyComics is being written with Delphi 7, and I have only been programming in delphi for a few months (not very steadily either). But its been a fun project so far.