GeekNights Monday - DRM

Tonight on GeekNights, we shockingly have never talked about DRM (Digital Rights Management) despite it being one of the primary things we were mad about between 1992 and 2002. The landscape is a little different these days, but Encrypted Media Extensions make it once again complicated and potentially dangerous. In the news, Amazon now offers digital subscription sales, a Tinder photo dataset raises all sorts of hell, and Turkey has banned access to the most important resource on the Internet.

Things of the Day

Episode Links

Did you see that hackers had most of the new season of Orange is the New Black, and asked the studio and/or Netflix for a ransom or else they would release it?

Netflix passed. The hackers released it. Turns out nobody who cares about that show, plus one or two others, doesn’t already pay for Netflix.

Who would have believed that a company that just lets us watch all the TV we want for $10 per month wouldn’t worry about a single show being pirated and released early?


That hacker extortion was almost my news. I cut it for time.

But, now I have a notion to do a Monday show on the various tech-enabled extortion schemes that are out there today.

My favorite was one was a ransomware I (stupidly) got from downloading what I thought was a movie and it locked my browser with a splash page reading “We have detected ILLEGAL PORNOGRAPHY on your computer! Send us $200 and we will let you off with a one time fine! etc…” But I had to laugh at the rest of the splash because the background was a collage of photos of SWAT teams and people in business suits at computers and random federal agency logos arranged around a photo of Obama looking stern and waggling his finger.

There’s a lot of really crazy DRM in old video game hardware. One of the most interesting being Capcom arcade machines. Many store an encryption key in battery powered RAM, tamper with the board or let the battery die and it’s a fair amount of effort to get back to a working machine.

I heard that someone finally cracked those Capcom arcade machines recently.

I use to borrow PC games on CD when it was still something that was allowable and had bought the best optical drives to do the crazy accurate reads required by the various CD cloning utilities to get through Securom, Safedisc and others. I copied Warcraft 3 so perfectly that the disc never had to be fooled into thinking it was legit by external software.

μTorrent is pretty trash, I used it mostly before it was sold to whichever company owns it now. I would recommend Tixati. It’s less hassle and by default will work out your optimal settings for download and upload.
While Transmission is pretty great if you want to program or script a little device that automatically handles all your torrents for you.