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Flash Money

A lot of ugly stuff going on.


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Do yourself a favour this holiday. Treat yourself to a MacBook Pro. Get the smallest model, default configuration. It should run you about $1000. You can afford it. Don't get any frills. Don't go nuts inside the store and start buying other stuff. Just walk in determined you'll buy that and only that. Or order online. Although that will take longer for delivery.

Apple computers no longer come with Flash. This is a Good Thing™. Flash sucks. It does its work in software, not in the hardware. That's terrible.

No one needs Flash today. Almost no one. More about that below. Today we have HTML5 which streams video at a blinding speed and without smashing your VM to smithereens, overheating your mobo and giving that computer fan a case of acute asthma.

Flash truly sucks.

That being said, it's time to take you to YouTube. For you're about to discover what's going on behind the scenes with management of intellectual property in this Brave New World. And you're not going to like it.

Composers and filmmakers have copyright on their work, and this is good. What's not good is how these rights are co-opted by record companies and movie studios. There are cases on YouTube where someone's made a home movie and somewhere almost unheard in the background are strains of a recording that's under copyright. So YouTube may have to remove the audio because it would be terrible if people got to hear it!

Ideally for this test you should have Rixstep's Clipothèque, as you'll suddenly see things you didn't know existed.



Clipothèque is part of the ACP, and the ACP costs, but there's free version as well. Should you be on another platform, good luck to you. You probably shouldn't be on that platform anyway, for a number of reasons.

Here's the link to the free version.

ftp://rixstep.com/Clipotheque.zip

So it's time to hike on over to YouTube. Try to play clips on your shiny new MacBook Pro without Flash and see how you fare.

Here's a good one: Jimmy Soul's famous 'If You Wanna Be Happy'. Hike on over.

http://youtu.be/Qh9ZZgDqzAg



The Adobe Flash Player is required for video playback.
Get the latest Flash Player

That's a lie. It's an outright lie. Load the clip into Clipothèque and this is what happens. Here's Clipothèque playing the same clip without Flash.



Now Clipothèque uses the same playback engine as Safari. Meaning if Safari doesn't have Flash - if your Apple system as a whole doesn't have Flash - then Clipothèque won't either.

Yet there it is, playing a track YouTube told you required Flash. So something's wrong, someone's lying to you.

But things get far more interesting. Here's a classic track from Heart - 'What About Love'.

http://youtu.be/KE5GGMhmo-M

YouTube spits out the same diagnostic as before.



What does Clipothèque say?



This video contains contents from VEVO. It is restricted from playback on certain sites.
Watch on YouTube

The key words there are 'certain sites' and 'watch on YouTube'. Do these clips require Flash? Normally no. (This one does.) For again, on the same Apple system without Flash you can find those 'certain sites' (Twitter, Facebook) and play the clip beautifully.

That means that YouTube and the copyright owner are able to see where the clip is being played and restrict playback where they don't want it played. And they're able to exact fees from contracted sites based on total plays.

What's happening? Those 'certain sites' evidently have agreements with YouTube, and when you embed a clip with them - sites such as with Twitter, Facebook - YouTube can see where the feed request is coming from, grant it, and make a note of it.

And Twitter or Facebook will have to pay a fee to YouTube who in turn will forward the money to the copyright owner.

There are a lot of movies on YouTube. You'd think many or most them would still be under copyright. And they most likely are. But they play at YouTube and more: the copyright owners seem to know of their existence and let them remain. Often in a crappy resolution. So if you want a good copy, you have to buy it. Nothing wrong with that - that's how YouTube worked across the board in the good old days before they got gobbled up by Google. Who then went nuts with HI-RES, thereby opening the box of Pandora.

So why would movie studios want to limit playback on what they gave away for free to YouTube itself? Two possible reasons. Google might be paying a fee to the owners and perhaps more importantly: the owners want the statistics.

Flash can do all that shit. In addition to melting your computer and hiding really sneaky cookies on you. Flash can do a lot of stuff you don't know about and won't like. The new HTML5 can't do any of that.

YouTube have had an 'HTML5 Beta' page up for years.

http://www.youtube.com/html5

It doesn't do much anymore. But it'll tell you if you can handle HTML5. And your MacBook Pro can handle it.

Better websites run by more intelligent web admins have already gone over to HTML5. HTML5 is kinder on computer hardware. It's a lot faster. Everyone wants HTML5. That is: everyone except the copyright owners.

As of one year ago, HTML5 is a candidate recommendation of the W3C. They've been working on HTML5 for fourteen years. Fourteen years where computer hardware has improved dramatically.

Flash is also - as with so many Adobe products - overrun with vulnerabilities. It's not safe. It's a bug farm. And the only reason it's kept is the copyright owners refuse to give it up. With HTML5 they can no longer exercise the granular control of their precious IP. They can no longer deny someone in Germany the joy of hearing a track that's played without incident in the UK. And vice versa. And so forth.

There's a lot of ugly stuff going on in the background when it comes to culture. The best we can hope for is those bastard IP companies get their comeuppance.

Do not repeat not install Flash on your shiny new MacBook Pro. There's a very good reason Flash doesn't ship on Apple products. There's a very good reason Steve Jobs so hated the product, even if it was owned by an old friend. Trust them.

Take the time instead to bitch to your local news site or whoever still uses the abomination. Tell them to get their backsides in gear and switch to HTML5.

Hang out at YouTube with Clipothèque and you'll see really weird things, like how some Beatles clips are blocked by Viacom; how the IFPI are in there blocking clips; how SME and WMG try to lock the world down. There's a lot of ugly stuff going on.

They couldn't do that in HTML5. Flash trashes your MacBook Pro so badly that Apple refuse to ship it.

A world without Flash is a very very very very Good Thing™. For so many reasons. Try to help bring it about.

Happy holidays.

See Also
Clipothèque: Not just easy - too easy
Steve Jobs April 2010: Thoughts on Flash

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