the internet: how not to learn to commit crimes

A story in the the Daily Record. The phrase “the thing speaks for itself” (which is one of those handy latin phrases I learned in law school but almost never use, except of course in blog posts – res ipsa loquitur, for you latinphiles out there…) seems to be appropriate for this:

At exactly 5:45:34 on April 18, 2004 a computer taken from the office of the attorney of Melanie McGuire, did a search on the words “How To Commit Murder.”

That same day searches on Google and MSN search engines, were conducted on such topics as `instant poisons,` `undetectable poisons,’ ‘fatal digoxin doses,’ and gun laws in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

Ten days later, according to allegations by the state of New Jersey, McGuire murdered her husband, William T. McGuire, at their Woodbridge apartment, using a gun obtained in Pennsylvania, one day after obtaining a prescription for a sedative known as the “date rape” drug.

As a married man, it also makes me wonder what exactly is it about divorce that is really so bad that people resort to the apparently more preferable alternative of brutally murdering their spouses (as I delicately knock on wood…).

Via Slashdot.

Vista – A Love Hate Thing

A somewhat older story in The Enquirer (yes, I’m still catching up) about how, for the author, Microsoft Vista is not an option. The jist: Vista kneecaps its users with DRM, activation, etc. etc. etc.:

What it all comes down to is Microsoft is turning the screw on me too hard. I can’t legitimately use its software without becoming a criminal or spending tens of thousands of dollars. If it gives me a truckload of free copies, I will still be spending the majority of my time on the phone with people in Bangalore typing in licence keys to stay legal.

There’s also another, much longer article (more like a study) on how the content protection in Vista is a bad thing, to wit:

Executive Summary

Windows Vista includes an extensive reworking of core OS elements in order to provide content protection for so-called “premium content”, typically HD data from Blu-Ray and HD-DVD sources. Providing this protection incurs considerable costs in terms of system performance, system stability, technical support overhead, and hardware and software cost. These issues affect not only users of Vista but the entire PC industry, since the effects of the protection measures extend to cover all hardware and software that will ever come into contact with Vista, even if it’s not used directly with Vista (for example hardware in a Macintosh computer or on a Linux server). This document analyses the cost involved in Vista’s content protection, and the collateral damage that this incurs throughout the computer industry.

Executive Executive Summary

The Vista Content Protection specification could very well constitute the longest suicide note in history [Note A].

The first article, from The Inq, well, yes, perhaps true, but it wouldn’t bother me all that much nor would I imagine most other users. Meh. The second, however, is a bit more disturbing. After reading through the headaches it introduces, it really makes me question whether PCs will ever make it to the living room in any meaningful way. On the other hand, it might not necessarily be Vista this kills altogether, but the market for the type of content its trying to protect with these measures.

I’ve actually tried the Vista RTM and do quite like it, though haven’t yet experienced the nightmares that both the above folks describe. So I got a feeling that notwithstanding the above, many others will feel the same, will buy it, and will live with the content limitations. And it won’t be the huge disaster that the two folks above foresee it being. Though of course, it would be interesting to see what happens if they are right…