Thursday, August 05, 2004

321 Studios Close Their Doors

There's definitely a few things that need talking about today. The first is that 321 Studios has shut their doors. This is really too bad because I love their software and they have been out there fighting the good fight for fair use. The product that brought them fame was DVDXCOPY. This piece of software allowed a user to copy a dvd to a dvd-r or dvd-rw. I owned a copy of this piece of software.

I also have a netflix account which I enjoy. Some days, however, I just won't be in the mood to watch the movies I have checked out from netflix and instead want to watch something in my queue. When this happens, I usually just copy the movie I have onto a dvd-rw, send it back, and wait for the next movie to come. I'll later watch the movie I have on the dvd-rw and then write over it the next time I'm in a situation such as this where my tastes don't match what I have on hand to watch.

I use DVDXCOPY to copy my the netflix dvd's to my temporary dvd-rw's. I'm not exactly sure if what I'm doing is 100% legal, but it doesn't seem like something terrible. I'm still only watching the movies once and I'm writing over them once I've watched them, so it's not like I'm keeping some permanent copy of them, but I'm sure the MPAA would disagree. Who knows, though, as the MPAA has been more reasonable than, say, the RIAA, which is basically the most evil group on the planet outside of some cult of baby killers in Montana.

I've also used DVDXCOPY for other backing up purposes that seem to be within the boundaries of fair use. I guess I'm just sick of groups with lots of money taking away our rights because they can. They can afford the lawyers to take down companies they don't like, or companies that are doing something that they don't necessarily want done with their product. It's crap like this that has moved me away from actually purchasing dvd's to only renting them.

The bright side of this, for the moment, is that there is still at least DVD Shrink to use for backing up dvd's. It's just too bad that a company that took a strong stand for fair use has become a casualty of the media industry's quest for ever growing profits and regulations.

On a more interesting topic, I wish that packages sent via fedex and UPS had passports associated with them. Wouldn't it be cool to have stamps from each of the stops that your package makes? I think it would, especially with the way that most of my packages are sent to me.

When I ordered my new motherboard and processor, I chose to have them shipped via fedex. When I checked its status to see where it was (it'll be delivered today), I was somewhat amazed at how they chose to ship it. It originated in California, got shipped to another station in Cali (probably where an airport is), and then arrived in St. Paul, MN. Now you'd think that since I live in MN, only about an hour and a half from downtown St. Paul, they'd ship it to me from there. No, that's not what they did. Instead they drove it down to Mason City, Iowa. Right now it is out for delivery from Mason City. In their stupidity they shipped the package from a city somewhat close to me to another state from which it would be delivered to me. No wonder they charge so much for shipping.

This has also happened with UPS. My monthly comic orders arrive via UPS. They always start in Indiana, make a stop in Illinois, end up at St. Paul, then head down to Albert Lea, MN, and then get delivered to my door. One time, however, it was decided that at the St. Paul stop my package should be rerouted through Billings, Montana on it's way to Albert Lea. WTF? I guess they must have wanted to do some sight-seeing on the way to my house.

These are only two of the odd screw-ups I've noticed. There's been a few others as well. That's why I would love to have stickers or stamps or whatever from every stop a package makes on it. I could have a competition and see which of my packages has to go through the most stops to get to me, or see which one goes the furthest off of the most direct course to my place. It would be fun! So if you're reading UPS or Fedex, let's start making packages have passports!

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