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Te Murphy's Law Strikes .maori.nz
Some of the hundreds of eager registrants queuing to grab a domain under the new .maori.nz second-level domain name this morning discovered to their disappointment that things did not go quite as planned.

Perhaps due lack of the proper cultural blessing, they newly commissioned infrastructure designed to facilitate the registering of the new names had a few hiccups that appeared to disadvantage some of the early-birds.

Derek Locke of Domainz has said however, that of the 300-400 registrations received during the first hour or so of operation, only about 20 may have been hit by the glitch and those will be reviewed to ensure that the names are properly allocated according to the "first-come, first-served" policy.

Locke assures that the problems are now resolved and things are working smoothly.

Note: This column represents the opinions of the writer and as such, is not purported as fact
Microsoft's Lame Digital VCR 5 September 2002 Edition
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Ever since a pimple-faced Billy Gates released a small BASIC interpreter for the Altair way back in the 1970s, his business interests have gone from strength to strength.

That BASIC interpreter, and more advanced versions of it, became the mainstay of his little empire right up until IBM launched their PC in the very early 1980s.

The licensing of MSDOS to IBM marked the start of a business growth curve that has turned Billy into someone who's wealth almost defies measurement.

Even better than money, it has given Billy a growing ability to control what we can and can't do with our PCs. The virtual monopoly of Windows has also allowed Microsoft to virtually name their price and dictate terms and conditions that would otherwise be rejected by the market.

Of course in an open market, any one is free to step up and challenge Microsoft's domination by way of a better product, better marketing or some other array of benefits or features -- but this simply hasn't happened.

There are alternatives to MS Windows and MS Office but, even though many of these are very good -- and free, only a tiny percentage of the market has even taken the time to evaluate them because Microsoft's products "work" and change inevitably means expense.

However, I wonder if Microsoft hasn't pushed it's luck just a little too far in recent times.

I'm betting that Microsoft's desire to cosy-up to the recording and movie industries is going to be its downfall.

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    Take for example the announcement of Windows XP Media Center Edition signals a move that will almost certainly generate a lot of consumer resistance.

    When I first read about this new version of XP which will allegedly turn your PC into a Tivo-like box I thought "why am I bothering to reinvent the wheel by duplicating this functionality?"

    And indeed, if Microsoft's new OS did allow you to digitally record music and video to disk then allow you to archive copies onto CD in industry-standard formats I would be wasting my time -- but that's not the whole story.

    No, Microsoft's unending quest to score points with recording and movie industries means that the new XP will create more anger than delight amongst its users -- and it's all to do with digital rights management (DRM)

    You see -- XP Media Center Edition encrypts all the recordings it makes so you can't swap them with friends, play them on your DVD, nor even transfer them to another hard disk if yours breaks down or you upgrade.

    For a company that has openly stated that "digital entertainment, digital media, is the thing that's going to drive the next cycle of PC upgrades" they really seem to have dropped the ball here.

    It strikes me that if Microsoft are correct in this assertion then they're doomed and their monopoly on our PCs is about to crumble.

    When it comes to laying down $3,500-$4,000 (which is what these new XP Media Center equipped PCs cost), most people are going to look long and hard at what they're getting for their money.

    How many people would buy a VCR that produced tapes that couldn't be played back on any other VCR? What happens when you want to upgrade that VCR? -- yes, you'd lose your entire collection of recordings.

    That's exactly the scenario Microsoft are offering with their product.

    I bet you anything you like that this decision on Microsoft's part will be the straw that breaks the camel's back and drives a fair number of people to other platforms.

    Suffice to say that a Linux-based version of the Aardvark Tivo-like box is well underway. No DRM to kneecap that box and it will offer users all the freedom of a digital recorder without the limitations of Microsoft's option.

    If you doubt my prediction then remember that XP Media Center is just a small taste of the Palladium concept -- where DRM becomes an integral part of the entire hardware/software package and you won't even be able to run your own software unless the system is sure you have a right to do so.

    I guess the problem with greed is that it just keeps growing, until eventually it becomes self-defeating. As I'm sure Mr Gates is about to discover.

    Have your say.

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