aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Saturday, February 18, 2006
Will Medicare drug plan bring seniors back to the Dems?
Older voters, a critical component of Republican Congressional victories for more than a decade, could end up being a major vulnerability for the party in this year’s midterm elections, according to strategists in both parties. Paradoxically, one reason is the new Medicare drug benefit, which was intended to cement their loyalty.
During next week’s Congressional recess, Democrats are set to begin a major new campaign to highlight what Representative Nancy Pelosi of California, the Democratic leader, describes as “this disastrous Republican Medicare prescription drug plan.” Democratic incumbents and challengers plan nearly 100 public forums around the country, armed with briefing books and talking points on a law that, party leaders assert, “was written by and for big drug companies and H.M.O.’s, not American families.”
Recognizing the widespread criticism of the new drug program, Republican senators met in a closed session with administration officials this week to discuss the rocky rollout of the plan and prepare for questions back home.
But pollsters say the Republicans’ difficulties with the over-60 vote go beyond the complicated drug benefit, which began Jan. 1. President Bush’s failed effort to create private accounts in Social Security last year was also unpopular with many older Americans.
Quicken Sunset policy: the workaround
You may recall that users of the popular Quicken financial management program face a yearly ritual: Intuit Inc.’s forced retirement of the online components of slightly dated versions of the software. It’s called a Sunset Policy.
I remain aghast at the notion and believe the expiration day should be made loud and clear at the time of purchase or such policies should be made illegal. But today in comments to my last post on the topic Phillip left this sound suggestion:
This policy is so whacked--for your info though, you can call their 800 number complain loudly enough (actually, it didn’t really take much) and they gave me a free download of 2006 basic: 800-811-8766.
Big Media and the new architecture of control
Big media have always lobbied for more control over how people use culture, but until now, it’s largely been through changes to the copyright statutes. The distribution apparatus—record stores, booksellers, movie theaters etc.—was not a concern since it was secure and pretty much by definition “read-only.” But when we’re dealing with digital media, the distribution apparatus becomes a central concern, and that’s because the apparatus is the internet, which at present, no single entity controls.
Which is where the issue of regulation comes in. The cable and phone companies believe that since it’s through their physical infrastructure that the culture flows, that they should be able to control how it flows. They want the right to shape the flow of culture to best fit their ideal architecture of revenue. You can see, then, how if they had it their way, the internet would come to look much more like an on-demand broadcast service than the vibrant two-way medium we have today: simply because it’s easier to make money from read-only than from read/write—from broadcast than from public access.
SEE ALSO my post: An architecture of freedom.
Apple using DMCA to censor?
Apple Computer appears to have invoked the Digital Millenium Copyright Act to stop the dissemination of methods allowing Mac OS X to run on chips from Intel and Advanced Micro Devices.
The chatter at the OSx86 Project was stifled Friday after the forum was served with a notice under the DMCA, according to a posting on the site.
“We’re sorry to report that despite our best efforts, the OSx86 Project has been served with a DMCA violation notice. The forum will be unavailable while we evaluate its contents to remove any violations present. We thank you for your patience in this matter,” the posting read.
Dan Gillmor: “The company has a long history of challenging speech. This looks like yet another unsavory example.”
Endgadget: “Doubtful this move will do much more than create a temporary delay in efforts as either the forum or hacking community en masse find respite beyond the gnarled fingers of the DMCA’s reach.”
UPDATE: They’re back, “Apple doesn’t “have it in” for our site; they were simply concerned with a few links posted by our members. Those links have been removed and we’re back.”
For a year now I have been writing that Apple is aiming to build a video distribution empire to match its existing music distribution empire. We’ve seen some of this take place, too, with Apple claiming to have distributed more than 12 million music videos, TV episodes, and motion pictures through the iTunes Music Store. Down the line we’ll see Video iPods with larger screens, the Video Express wireless access point-cum-H.264 decoder, faster Mac Minis with larger disk drives, and whole new versions of Apple’s seminal Front Row home theater application. As soon as Steve Jobs can sort out his legal problem with little Burst.com and finish signing every movie and TV studio to an electronic distribution deal, we’ll see lots more announcements from Apple.
But what about Blockbuster?
Apple’s Blockbuster product strategy is simple. Start with a new iPod that has video- and audio-out capability. This iPod—which will be just as good at playing songs as any iPod that preceded it - will be more than just a video storage device. It will be a video player. No make that plural - players - a whole family of video-out iPods, some with flash storage and others with little disk drives.
Take your Video-out iPod to Blockbuster, drop it in a kiosk dock then download from the local xServe your choice of 50,000 movies. You can rent the movie or buy it and you can even choose the resolution, which may or may not affect the final price. Take the iPod home, drop it in the dock attached to your TV and watch the movie. H.264 decoding takes place in the iPod in hardware.