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3:11 am EST        41°F (5°C) in Dexter, MI

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Like I predicted a mere 12 hours or so ago, I am more or less bored out of my mind. I have wasted as much time as I can with random surfing on the ’Net and other such things, but I am still going to have a fair bit of time to kill. Obviously, a lot of that will entail sleeping after I finish this update and perhaps a handful of other small tasks.

I have a pair of important boycott/protest announcements to make here tonight. The first of these involves all products made by Sony, including electronic devices, albums released by its Sony/BMG subsidiary, and anything else bearing the Sony brand name. Why, you ask? Sony/BMG has released music CDs for roughly 20 artists that install what amounts to a computer virus when they are played on CD-ROM drives.

The affected Sony/BMG CDs install a type of program called a “root kit,” which is a program designed to cloak certain processes and files on Windows PCs. As you might guess from that description, root kits are commonly used in Trojan-horse programs by hackers attempting to conceal the fact that they are exercising control over an infected system. In this particular case, the root kit that is automatically installed upon mere insertion of the disc enforces a highly restrictive (and likely illegal) form of digital rights management (DRM) that, among other things, requires affected users to delete any copies of their music if the CD is lost or stolen, if they move out of the country, or even if they declare bankruptcy.

Even worse yet, the program contains a “back door” through which Sony can connect to any computer infected with its DRM root kit and take whatever action it desires to enforce its “rights” as per its end user license agreement (EULA) — even going as far as deleting files themselves! As if that’s not enough, computer-security expert Mark Russinovich discovered when he tried to disable the root kit that doing so even disabled his CD-ROM drive! That is a willful and clearly illegal form of vandalism against computer users who attempt to keep their systems secure by closing this “back door” in the Sony/BMG root kit.

Sony might have redeemed itself by immediately making an uninstall utility readily available to users who had been victimized by its tactics, but both Sony and the company who created the root kit, First4Internet Inc., continue to deny that any harm is being done by the program — even after hackers have found a way to take advantage of the exploit opened up by the DRM root kit. The patch that Sony has made available does not remove the root kit; all the patch does is decloak it, meaning it is still there for enterprising hackers to exploit! Even better yet, Russinovich points out that Sony’s patch was so hastily and poorly written that it frequently causes one of the infamous “blue screen of death” Windows errors.

Thankfully, some people in positions of power are using their common sense here. Microsoft has announced that its next monthly update to its “Windows Malicious Software Removal Tool” will classify the Sony root kit as spyware and, as such, delete it in such a manner so as not to harm infected machines. Additionally, some of the artists who have been caught in the middle of all of this, including one-time Phish member Trey Anastasio, have publicly lambasted Sony/BMG for sullying their good names with this attack on computer users.

This may well represent the first time in history that a major corporation has taken a step to attack its customers, the very people who keep it in business. Sony has proven that it is not worthy of consumers’ trust; quite frankly, one has to wonder what they will do next with Walkmans, TVs, and other devices they produce. I, for one, will remember this, and at least until they make a DRM root kit uninstaller easily available, publicly apologize for such a heinous act, and forevermore repudiate such tactics, I will never buy another Sony product again — period.

I made some mention of this in my June 2 update, and it bears repeating here. I will not stand for the fascist behavior exhibited by corporations that undertake such blatant attacks on consumers in the name of increasing their already insane profits. Every other record company is collecting 70% of the average $16.99 cost of their CDs, yet once you buy the CD, you can do whatever the fuck you want with the music as long as you don’t violate copyright law (no for-profit public performances, etc.) — so where the fuck does Sony get off thinking they’re any different? I dumped AccuWeather like a ten-ton slab of lead back in June, and I have absolutely no qualms keeping my money far away from Sony either.

The second item pertains to our federal government and the activities it undertakes with our tax dollars. Since this government under Dumbya is pushing policies that make gay people like me, in effect, three-fifths of a citizen (as black people were considered to be during the days of slavery), I announce that come tax time next year, the government will only be seeing three-fifths of what it expects from me.

Quite frankly, considering my occupation as an over-the-road truck driver, this isn’t all that hard to pull off without drawing IRS scrutiny; almost everything I purchase on the road is deductible in some way, shape, or form as an unreimbursed job expense. It isn’t going to be that much of a stretch to concoct enough additional unreimbursed job expenses to reduce my tax burden another 40% on top of all of the true deductible expenses. It is plain and simple — if I am not treated as a full and equal citizen with full and equal rights under the law, then I will not give full and equal financial support to the government and the illegal “war” of aggression it is waging for oil.

A merry November 15 to all, and to all a good night. wink