Sep 16, 2008

DECE - The future of DRM?

“The nicest thing about standards is that there are so many of them to choose from.” - Andres S. Tannenbaum (Also seen attributed to Ken Olsen)

I love that quote. It is funny. It is funny because it is true.

In a digital media landscape littered with incompatible standards and casualties from the format wars, a host of technology and media powerhouses are joining hands to bring a consumer friendly version of DRM for content. In other words, a standard for DRM.

The Digital Entertainment Content Ecosystem (DECE), which is backed by the likes of Cisco, Fox, HP, Intel, Microsoft, NBC Univeral, Paramount Pictures, Philips, Sony and Toshiba, among others, will offer customers the "buy once, play anywhere" freedom that has been taken away by conventional DRM. Simply put, the standard will enable content bought from consortium members to play on DECE hardware/codec. Not so much DRM-free as having no DRM at all, but a step forward, nevertheless.

Will DECE succeed in convincing consumers who are sceptical about DRM and how it restricts their usage of content they had paid for? Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, a technology columnist at ZDNet, says it beautifully with the title of his blog post - DECE : Lipstick on the DRM pig.

Read the Reuters story - Studios form digital-download ecosystem

Sep 10, 2008

Chrome - why another browser is good

It has been more than a week since Google unleashed Chrome on the Web. Statistics abound on the market share erosion of the incumbents from the newcomer's arrival. Frankly, I think it is far too early for the numbers to make sense. There will be enough downloads and installs in the first week as people try out the new software and figure out if it is actually any good. (Remember, it was promoted in the Google homepage, no less - the most expensive virtual real estate in the world. That has to count for something.)

So how can the new browser help the Web? In a market crowded by the likes of Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Safari and Opera, is there any need for yet another commodity software which is free anyway? I think there is.

Firstly, Google has open-sourced Chrome. This means virtually anybody can peer under Chrome's hood and take the best features and even improve upon it. Like the rising tide that lifts all boats, every browser developer and user stands to gain from this.

Secondly, I think the sandbox-approach to the whole browser and even individual tabs is an innovative move. If one site crashes your tab, just close it without bringing all the other tabs and browser windows down. (I am not sure about this, but I think only Chrome has implemented this as of now.) Spawning new processes for individual tabs keeps the user in control, and the entire system more secure.

Thirdly, Google has a way with how it puts the user in focus in product design. The clean, minimalist look of the Google homepage is appreciated by millions, and Chrome has borrowed this philosophy in its user interface. I am sure other browser designers can take a page or two from the Google design book and weave it onto their own. No big, bloated buttons and no useless menu bars. Keep it simple, silly.

There are many things that I don't like at all about Chrome, but that will form the topic of another post. But if somebody has ideas for yet another Web browser and intend to release one soon, I am all for it. Better too many than too few.

Of spam blogs and captchas

Seems like even Blogger has spotted my irregular posting patterns. I tried to make a new posting and it won't allow me to do that, unless I solve another one of those captchas. And they even have a nifty link nearby which says 'Why do I have this', which explains that my blog has the "characteristics of a spam blog". I have applied to unlock my blog from the captcha curse, which apparently requires human intervention. Serves me right for not posting by procrastinating.