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Saturday, April 19, 2008

Elgato's Copy Protection Is (Not) Stupid

I'm trying to move the Elgato 250 The Girl got me a way back from the Mini into the living room, to kinda consolidate things media related. Actually, since work blessed me with the MacBook Pro - I'm not entirely sure what to do with the Mini except perhaps somehow convert it into a jukebox or something.

Anyway, it's already been a long, busy, complicated week of barely getting things working and when I get home all I really wanted to do was setup up the Elgato onto The Girl's laptop before Battlestar so that I could see if we could record it.

Hooking the hardware up is easy enough and then I put the install disc in and copy the stuff over to Applications and launch the setup assistant.

To which - I get asked for a serial key. I look on the disc jacket, which I'm rather amazed I still have as usually after installing software I fling discs into a vast wilderness where they must fight for survival. There's no serial key. I pop the disc out. No serial key. I go back to the old computer to look up the serial key.

It's obscured.

I poke around online and apparently the only place in existence which has this key is some tiny card that came with the original hardware. Which undoubtably got placed into a box and that box got faithfully stored until the study was cleaned X number of times and then I probably asked myself do I really, really need another box laying around and pitched it.

So this isn't that odd of a tale of copy protection woe except we should remember one thing. The EyeTV software is essentially useless without a big honking piece of hardware next to it in order to convert TV signals into the Mac. All EyeTV does is hook up to TitanTV for listings, record the feed and then translate the feed. It doesn't even do any useful translations as EyeTV stores everything initially in it's own evil format (which takes about ... no joke ... 34 hours to convert into anything else).

In other words, Elgato already has one of the best kinds of copy protection in the world - that being that if you don't buy their expensive hardware pirating the damned thing won't really do you any good. And yet they don't even use a simple downloadable activation key like virtually every other modern software company these days ... they put the damn thing on a card which for all intents appears to be designed to get lost.

In theory all I have to do is email them and provide some kind of proof of purchase. They suggest a receipt which clearly shows the mode of thinking they put to consumer behavior. Ah yes, the Elgato receipt is clearly labelled "E" and "M" and "T" for "Elgato, Mac and Television" and you can find it in the yellow folder in the third drawer to the left ... right next to the freaking activation card. Seriously, if I was anal enough to still have a receipt (which, now that I think of it, I never had since it was a gift) - I'd probably still have the card. And if I was spending that much time organizing, I'd probably have no time for television.

Update: Nick from Elgato offers this very useful info:

The activation key card does state that it should be kept in a secure place. In the future, we should also have options for users to keep their key on our servers for easy access - that's not ready at this time.

If you copy your 4 EyeTV preference files from the old Mac to the new Mac, that will authorize EyeTV:

They can be found in the following locations:

In /Library/Preferences/



In /Users/(YourUserAccountName)/Library/Preferences/


The preferences keep a copy of the key, so moving the preferences moves the key.

Thus, your problem can be solved by moving preferences, or by contacting us for key replacement.

See the rest of Nick's salient points in the comments...

Friday, April 18, 2008

The Yahoo! Terms Of Use Are Hardcore

(iii) use the Yahoo! Maps APIs to operate nuclear facilities, life support, or other mission critical application where human life or property may be at stake. You understand that the Yahoo! Maps APIs are not designed for such purposes and that their failure in such cases could lead to death, personal injury, or severe property or environmental damage for which Yahoo! is not responsible;
-- Yahoo! Terms Center

Well shucks.

Awareness Test

With thanks to Little Gamers.


WTF was that?

And wow, we felt it pretty hardily in Chicago. That's got range.

Pelicans. Earthquakes. These are the signs my grandma warned me about.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

PS3 Outsells 360 Again

Might as well let the fanboys have their day as the once maligned console jogs into a (tight) second place.

And honestly, I'm just not buying the shortage thing. I mean, if this was a launch and there was simply no other stock in existence - I might buy it. But it's not like every 360 in the world was suddenly snapped up in December and Microsoft forgot how to make more.

To further disprove this, here's a simple test.

1. Go to any store. Look for a Wii on the shelf.
2. Go look at those NPD numbers again.
3. Discuss.

The Wii has had more supply chain problems than anyone and is smacking the other consoles around like schoolgirls.

Update 360 bounces back in March, although somehow the DS and PS2 still manage to trounce everyone. The PS2? Still?

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Pelicans, Goatees and Guitar Hero

There a pelicans in Central Illinois. Hundreds of them - although they don't generally congregate in large flocks as to possibly not call attention to the wacky sign of the apocalypse they so clearly must be. The only real comfort here is that they're probably just as disturbed by fishing in Lake Decatur. I mean, it's one thing for your hometown to erect a Starbucks after a couple stray decades or finally get a Best Buy - but import tropical water fowl just seems a tad much.

This is all just backdrop to what is rapidly evolving into a mini Spring Thanksgiving of sorts for both The Girl and myself as three birthdays converge all into the span of about three weeks and we once again find ourselves trying to shove three household visits into the span of two days.

If that whirlwind tour metaphor wasn't enough, we ended up playing a decent amount of Guitar Hero on Saturday and I'm glad to find out that I'm not the only one to find medium difficulty to be nearly the apex of the game's realistic goal. I don't know who these people out there are that have the time and finger dexterity to master hard or beyond - but suddenly images of a certain South Park episode go dancing through my head. I love the game, really I do, and had a great time virtually rocking and all - I just wish the game focused more on the campaign and managing a band or whatnot and a bit less on insane levels of finger memorization.

Guitar Hero actually came on the tail of end of a long run of games. We played Kill Doctor Lucky - the kind of odd inverse Clue which relies heavily on board placement. Red Dragon Inn, a board drinking game without real booze which relies heavily on the draw of the card (but still fun in that random virtual drinking game kind of way) and Cthulhu Munchkin - which is essentially just Munchkin with different graphics (but still fun in the that Munchkin kind of way). Finally upon return to my own household, I think the family had some kind of game envy which resolved itself in the form of Monopoly (Canadian edition - a family tradition). I know there's plenty of board game snobs who look down on Monopoly as being overly simplistic and often dragging out a game which has already created a foregone conclusion for hours on end ... but there's something to be said for the weird random dynamic between haggling, trading and personal strategy. I was positive Big Brother was going to win as he gained monopolies all along one street and literally surrounded my own - but throwing all my cash into one set worked out in the end.

This doesn't have much to do with the trip, but I thought it was funny

There was also the mandatory bout of Wii Tennis, a game to which my mom is hopelessly addicted to and would probably use an excuse to get a Wii if she thought she could get my stepdad to actually play on a regular basis (talk about wacky signs of an apocalypse). Big Brother and SisInLaw pretty much kicked our asses all over the place - but in defense I had had a decent amount of Glenmorangie at this point...

And on a random note - my brother, myself and my dad all have short hair and goatees. It's a weird little addition to an already confusing discussion of how much who looks like what. I haven't entirely decided what to do about it yet - but it's probably a good thing my hair couldn't survive another dye job.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

DVD Watch: Shoot Em Up

Shoot Em Up isn't the most ridiculous movie you'll ever see .. in fact it doesn't even come close. But that's part of the genius of this over-the-top action comedy. It doesn't go to the absurd route - instead it rides this amazingly fine line of being just slightly more ridiculous than every other action movie out there. Because of this you get pulled in and at times feel like you can't be sure what to take seriously and what not ...

... and then someone gets killed by a carrot. Again.

Clive Owen was a brilliant choice to lead this farce. Highly recommend.