Sony really has no tolerance when it comes to piracy on their systems. Whilst in the past they were mostly disinterested (since there was little they could do about it) their reaction to the current state of piracy on the Playstation 3 has been nothing short of full fledged war on those who’d seek to get something for nothing. Still it seems like their efforts might be misplaced as the damage has already been done and any methods taken to try and contain it merely serve as a Streisand Effect, further publicising the efforts of those they’d seek to contain. Still for all the hubbub that’s going on I personally believe that it’s a storm in a teacup, with both sides making a bigger deal of this than it really is.
The roots of this entire debacle can be traced back to one curious hacker, Geohot. Just on a year ago he released details of a hack that basically enabled him full control over the PS3 when it was in OtherOS mode, opening the door for much better homebrew applications that could take full advantage of the PS3’s power. Sony, to their discredit, overreacted to this by removing OtherOS as a feature in the next update. In all honesty Geohot’s initial hack was barely a threat to anyone as it required a very high level of knowledge and the guts to crack open your PS3 and solder switches across vital components. Removing said feature then triggered many other hacker groups to start having a shot at breaking open the PS3, and 8 month’s later we saw the rise of the PS3 jailbreaks.
Most recently however the whole scene went into overdrive after the hacker team fail0verflow released details on how to recover many of the private keys that Sony uses to verify game discs and other critical GameOS functions. It didn’t take too long after that for Geohot to release the root key which, in essence, cracked the entire system wide open. Whilst I’ve yet to dive into the nitty gritty myself it would seem that this round of hacks requires no crazy dongles or anything that’s above the level of the average Windows user. A quick look over some of my old hacking haunts shows there’s quite a spread of tools available, even a nifty little program that can point your PS3 to a share where you can store all your games, neat. Sony has been quick to come down on these hacks and the hackers have been even quicker in response, showing that the arms race Sony is playing against the masses will never be won.
The thing is though that whilst this enables piracy on a console that has been immune to it for the majority of its life it’s far from being the catastrophe that Sony seems to think it will be. The PC and the Xbox have both suffered from rampant piracy from their earliest days and the industry continues to flourish in spite of them. The fact is that anyone who would be solely pirating games isn’t a lost customer in the first place and many of them would’ve steered clear of the PS3 because of that. Heck even after I modded my Xbox so I could play some “backed up” games I ended up reverting it back simply because I wanted to play online and I didn’t play any of those games for longer than an hour. The simple fact is that a game I’m not willing to part with the money for is a game I wouldn’t play anyway, and I’m sure that’s common across most console owners.
Piracy is often the excuse used for all sorts of draconian measures that publishers use to try and protect their investments. Time and time again however it has been shown that users who can’t pirate aren’t instantly converted into paying customers, they simply do without and move onto another source of free entertainment. Piracy, on the surface at least, appears to be a much worse problem than it actually is and whilst the PS3 may now be wide open for all those who want to exploit it I doubt we’ll see publishers pulling releases for the platform any time soon. Personally I’d love to be able to rip my library of games to a hard drive so I could have them all on tap whenever I wanted them, but with Sony’s rampant anti-piracy stance it looks like I’ll have to forgo that dream until I don’t want to use my PS3 online anymore.
And I don’t think that’s going to be any time soon, either.
This morning was unlike any other. With our successful conquering of the New York metro yesterday we had successfully covered more distance in any of the previous days without the hassle of walking from one place to another. This in turn meant that my foot had ample time to recover and this morning had it feeling like it was as good as new. This made everything else look better by comparison and with our breakfast worked out thanks to a tip from Nick I was feeling good about this day, even though we hadn’t given much thought to what we would do. We went down to one of the Pret a Mangers and ordered ourselves up a couple lattes and some misc breakfast things before sitting down to plan our day.
It might’ve just been the store we went to but the coffee was unfortunately atrocious, with that distinct burn taste that has plagued many of the other places we had visited. Still the breakfast bits we had picked up were fresh and quite good so overall it wasn’t terrible. The walk to this particular store had brought us past some places we had past on a previous day whereby we had spotted Midtown Comics. We wandered over there to check out their stock and I was instantly surprised by the large collection they had, many times that I had seen in any comic store in Australia. The second floor also stocked a large collection of comics with a good selection of figurines and models. Despite their incredibly cheap prices I still didn’t end up parting with any cash to grab them as I could get them online if I really wanted. Still I was in the minority there with most people there having several comics under their arms. Had I actually read any comics in the past decade I’m sure I would have too.
After Midtown Comics we started walking back towards to the hotel when we noticed Madam Tussauds Wax Museum and decided it was well worth a look in. It’s unfortunately not a part of the New York City ticket book we had bought the previous day nor is there any deal there for having the book but I had wanted to see this place anyway so we bought ourselves some tickets. The first room was set up as a celebrity after party and there was one person in particular I wanted to get a photo with:
That particular photo got quite a few laughs from the onlookers even from those in Miley’s target demographic. We spent the next couple hours posing with dozens of the other wax figurines getting some good and not so good pictures. There was also a Wizard of Oz “4D” experience which was the old film redone to use 3D with some added effects like air jets in the seats and water jets in the roof. It was pretty mediocre and highlighted all the reasons why 2D movies should never be redone in 3D, especially if you’re going to be as half assed about it as they were. In essence most scenes had 2 planes of view with everything either being in focus or out adding little to the movie itself. Unfortunately it seems like Avatar is still the only example I can point to of where 3D can be done to add something to a movie, rather than dollars to the ticket price.
After exiting the museum (and getting a compliment on my shirt from a dreamy eyed attendant) we headed back to the hotel to figure out what our next move was going to be. It seemed like the last few days caught up with us all in one go and we spent the next hour or so lounging on the couch in our hotel room. With daylight fast disappearing most of the attractions we wanted to knock off our list would only be open for an hour or less so we decided to hit the gym before heading out for dinner. I found us a nice little Japanese restaurant only 5 minutes walk from our hotel where we enjoyed a great dinner of ramen, kimchee and gyoza.
Once we got back to the hotel I went back to fiddling with the iPhone tethering problem I had been stumped on for the past couple days. After hitting the same road blocks again I decided to jailbreak my phone to get it over and done with. A quick Google search however turned up a section of the Apple Developer Agreement that said should I decide to go down this path I could be kicked out of the program. Not wanting to put that at risk I decided against jailbreaking my iPhone and set about finding another route. A few more searches turned up a little known fact about tethering in OS X, you need to hit apply in network settings after connecting for tethering to work. Once I did that instantly I was greeted with the blue bar that I had been longing for all this time. Even though its only EDGE it’s still very usable, as I’m using it to post this (and the previous) blog post right now.
We’ve only got a few more days here before we head for better weather in Los Angeles but there’s still more than enough to keep us entertained here in NYC. Tomorrow will probably be spent knocking off 2 of the museums on our to do list with maybe a bicycle ride through central park. Who knows though it could easily end up like today where we get distracted and spend hours doing something else, but that seems to be part of the beauty of this bustling metropolis.