May 7th, 2005


Copy protection is bad.

There's no way to say it other than this: copy protection is bad.

I just bought the new Amerie cd, Touch*. I want to listen to it on my computer, rip it to mp3's, and copy it to my mp3 player. Right? I haven't downloaded, or traded, or anything with mp3's for years, and frankly most of the mp3's I downloaded and liked ended up with me purchasing the cd anyways. I'm the sort of customer that the record companies should love - I purchase cd's every month, and I don't do anything with them other then listen to them personally (in the above-listed ways).

But now? Thanks to the copy protection on this cd, I can't even do that much. Windows sees it as a data cd only, not an audio cd, so I can't use any of my normal tools to rip it or copy it to my mp3 player. I can't even listen to it without using the flash-based utility that is installed by the cd. Literally. Cannot use it at all. Oh, and it has a "bonus" video which is unlocked by having the cd in your drive. But the only bonus video is one of the several which are available for free at higher quality on her website. In fact, it was the free music clips and videos on the site which is what made me decide to buy the cd on the spur of the moment. Without them, I wouldn't have purchased it, simple as that.

So what am I going to do now? Contact Amazon, hope their usually-good customer service lets me return it since it doesn't work for me, and then start looking into how I can thwart the record companies' copy protection plans. Assholes.

* - Before that, my last cd purchase was the new nine inch nails cd, with_teeth. It ripped just fine. I'll be keeping it. Before that, Ben Folds - I'll be trying to return that one for a normal, working version. And no, my cd choices will never make sense to anyone but myself, but that's fine with me. I like diversity in my playlist.
  • Current Music
    Outkast - 05 - Ms. Jackson

"Picking" master locks

I thought I had lost the combo for my master lock, so I went online and looked for instructions on how to "pick" them. I had friends in high school who were big into lock picking and I had seen one of them open at least half a dozen, so I knew it was possible.

Anyways, I did find the combo, but I also found a page that had the correct information. The problem is that there are multiple sites with instructions, and most of them are wrong and/or out-dated. But here's one that works:

It's pretty interesting, actually. If you pull out the u-shaped arm and turn the lock, it will stick - in 12 places. Seven of these sticking points will be between numbers - 19.5, for instance. Five of them will be directly on numbers. 4 of these whole numbers will end with the same digit; one will be different. That one is the last number in your combo. (In my case, the numbers were 0, 36.5, 33.5, 30, 27, 23.5, 20, 16.5, 13.5, 10, 6.5, and 3.5. The whole numbers all end with 0 except for one: 27.)

From there, the rest is trial-and-error plus a bit of math.

The (last number modulo 4) = (first number modulo 4). So 27 % 4 = 3. That means the first number can be 3, 7, 11, 15, 19, 23, 27, 31, 35, or 39.

The (second number module 4) = (last number module 4) +-2, which means 3-2 or 3+1, either 1 or 5. So the second number can be 1, 5, 9, 13, 17, 21, 25, 29, 33, or 37.

At this point, now, you just have to brute force it.

The older locks were actually "pickable" just by knowing how they worked and being careful; by pulling out the arm and watching where it stopped, you could actually figure out all three numbers, but they were alerted to this and fixed it. Still, you can go through all of those numbers in 20 or 30 minutes if you're careful.


gmail down?

Can anyone else not get to gmail? I keep getting name res failures...

(Alternately: can anyone get to gmail?)

Update: looks like they fix0r3d it. All bettah.