Category Archives: Music

The megaupload bust

My daughter was distressed yesterday after the Feds shutdown the megaupload file sharing site – “How am I going to see all those series and Korean movies I love? It’s not fair!”

The FBI have been after Mr Dotcom for 8 years. His big problem was not the file sharing but his other criminal activities.  After all, there is infinite demand for file sharing,  Filesonic is cleaning up now that Megaupload went bust and Viacom didn’t go after Erich Schmidt as Viacom lost their billion dollar copyright case to Google 2 years ago.

But really – beyond the consumer appetite for entertainment, and corporate appetite for filing intellectual property and copyright suites, why isn’t Hollywood getting it right when it comes to content protection?  If they were getting it right, Sony-Columbia would be running the file sharing sites, charging $1/movie and $3 for premium content and driving all the file sharing sites out of business.

Instead – the big studios are making the same mistake that corporate America makes when it comes to content protection – ignoring the attacker economics.

After all, the HDCP black-listing scheme defies the laws of physics and reason. For example, you may be a perfectly law-abiding citizen, but if someone in Sofia hacks your model XY500 DVD player, the device key is revoked, and you will never be able to play discs that came out after the date the device was compromised. If a hacker taps into the HDMI / HDCP signal copies a movie enroute to your model TV Set, the HDCP device key can be revoked and your 80 inch TV will never play high-definition again.

Blu-Ray copy protection was broken 5 years this month (January 2007) (Courtesy of muslix64, the same fellow who cracked HD-DVD). Both HD DVD and Blu-ray use HDCP (High-Bandwidth Digital Content Protection) for authentication and content playing, and both use the AACS (Advanced Access Content System) for content encryption. (AACS is the content protection for the video on DVDs and HDCP is the content protection on the HDMI link between the DVD player and the TV). It appears that muslix64 took a snapshot in memory of a running process, then used selective keying – serially trying bytes 1-4, then 2-5, 3-6 etc as the keys until the MPEG frame decrypted. (much faster than a pure brute force attack). If the video player process stores the key in clear text in memory, this type of attack will always work.

Like most flawed encryption schemes, AACS is vulnerable to threats to due a poor software implementation.

” The AACS design prevents legitimate purchasers from playing legitimately purchased content on legitimately purchased machines, and fails to prevent people from ripping the content and sharing it through bittorrent. The DRM people wanted something that could not be done, so unsurprisingly they winded up buying something that does not do it”

James Donald.

Now we understand why BitTorrent is so popular and why

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Professional skill sets

We spent the past week in Tzfat  (Safed) – situated in the northern part of Israel and with a 900meter elevation, the weather is cool and dry and a welcome relief from the humidity and heat of Tel Aviv.

We met a couple at dinner one evening – the husband is a retired aerospace software engineer that had done cutting edge work in his career, including the embedded software for one of the first unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV).  He took early retirement 15 years ago and today is hustling real estate and odd jobs.   At age 62, he’s overweight, after a triple bypass, technology-obsolete and convinced he will never get back into the tech game.

For sure – this recession is helping us understand the importance of family and friends and the difference between needing something (really) and wanting something.  This is a natural inward-looking reaction. However, in order to really take something of value out of the recession you need to look outward and challenge a lot of your base assumptions – it doesn’t really matter if you are (or soon will be) a self-employed consultant or a salaried (or soon to be ) sales professional. I submit that there are several important takeways that most people miss:

1) Invest in knowledge – spend 1 hour a day in constant learning, if you’re a tech person then work on keeping your edge and learning some new tools and technologies. If you are a sales professional – remember that sales skills are like basketball – practice your shooting 1 hour/day and your stats will go up.

2) Remember that what counts in your business is free cash flow – adding value and having some cash left at the end of the transaction. It’s not definitely not about  leveraging credit cards, mortgages and derivatives.

3) Invest in your health – spend 4-5 hours a week in physical activity. There is no point reaching 60 with a heart condition and proficiency in a programming language that was obsolete in the 70s.

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The first circle

It has been a while since I blogged about music – but someone asked me today what do I listen to when I need that extra boost and cheering up, and the answer was Pat Matheney – “The first circle”

There is something about Pat Matheney that appeals to people of all different backgrounds and music tastes. Something universal.

And there is a thought for the first day of the New Year!

Shana Tova!

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World fusion

Band Orient- ethno jazz

Songlines Magazine,which specializes in world music reviewed the latest album from BandOrient- led by Yair Dalal and Eli Benacot (Eli is the musical director of the JP Big Band – where I play tenor and clarinet and serve as the contractor).  The group are amazing musicians – Yair is one of the world’s best oud players and Eli is a master on tenor and EWI not to mention a consummate musician.

The reviewer, Bill Bradley loved the album a lot but is not a big fan of Weather Report….. Continue reading

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The role of leadership in protecting data

Frank Sinatra in a recording session

Is a little fear in the workplace a good thing?

Management Rewired, is a new book by the consultant Charles Jacobs. Instead of standardized procedures, dictated targets and harsh but true feedback, Jacobs suggests we’ll get better results “if, rather than trying to thwart their natural inclinations, we just accept how people behave and make the most of it.”

From an individual perspective – the insight is of course, correct. Continue reading

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The Artie Shaw collection is up for sale

If you have some spare cash and you’re into swing – this item will interest you:

Announcing the offer for sale of the personal library and archives of Artie Shaw (1910-2004), the great American bandleader, author, iconoclast and raconteur.

The library consists of approx. 6,000 books, many with his personal notations. The archive, in over 33 boxes, contains his personal papers, correspondence from numerous wives and contemporary celebrities, scripts relating to his motion picture production company, musical lead sheets, etc. (Note: his musical arrangements only, were given to the University of Arizona during his lifetime.)

Also included are the literary drafts of his published works as well as his monumental 1,200+ page autobiographical novel that he was still working on at the time of his death. A catalog has been prepared listing the highlights of the books and archive. Any interested party should please contact Kenneth   Karmiole or phone 310-451-4342.

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Creativity beats cheap outsourcing

Most Israeli high-tech workers (and most have not been fired) have enough disposable income, a reasonably interesting job and a fairly clueless boss that is even more interested than them in personal job security.

Salaries and costs (with all the perks) of an engineer in Israel are as high as in the US. Creativity not costs are our chief selling point. Unfortunately – reports I’m hearing from colleagues at Comverse and NDS are telling a story of software mediocrity not software excellence.

Think India and China next time you visit Ramat Hachayal or Herzliya Pituach lunch time.

Andy Grove once wrote – “a little fear in the work place is not necessarily a bad thing”. Maybe the time has come to reduce salaries and place the emphasis on risk-taking, creativity and software excellence before the Chinese eat our business for lunch.

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