Tom Petrocelli's take on technology. Tom is the author of the book "Data Protection and Information Lifecycle Management" and a natural technology curmudgeon. This blog represents only my own views and not those of my employer, Enterprise Strategy Group. Frankly, mine are more amusing.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Personal Storage is now Stupid Cheap

I mean stupid cheap. Like Jack Benny cheap. As in so cheap, I have sneakers that cost more. You get the picture...

A 500GB internal SATA drive goes for around US$100. I just bought a SimpleTech 2.5" 120GB USB drive for my laptop that uses no external power supply for around US$75. At this rate I'll be buying multi-Terabyte drives for my home network soon.

I can't get the economics here. At this rate can these drive manufacturers still be making money? The USB cable alone is worth a few bucks. Add in packaging, support, the cut the store gets, distribution and - oh yeah - the drive itself and what's left? $1.98? I exaggerate a little here but only a little.

I'm just old enough to remember the day when I had to remove programs from my hard drive to make room for more programs. Now, I just plug a new drive into my mini-NAS devices and - voila! - more than enough storage. The bigger problem is starting to be managing the data. I constantly misplace files and programs. I have software on my system that I no longer know what it does. Which is probably a clue that I don't need it. I have software for Mac OS 7 sitting on my network. I don't even own a Mac anymore!

Data storage has come a long way in 10 years. What used to be a valuable resource is turning into a cheap commodity. Who needs to clean off a hard drive anymore? Even with music and video files, it's hard to fill up these big drives. And, if I should happen to get above 60% utilization, I can plug in another massive drive for next to nothing. I'll get bored with what's on the drive long before that happens. The bottom line: for even a power user the growth in data is far below the growth in drive size.

So, there you have the state of personal storage. My first computer has a couple of 5 1/4" floppy drives, my first hard drive was 20MB, and I
am currently sitting on a total of nearly a terabyte at home. I am finally at the point where I can say that I will probably never fill up all these drives. Now that is something I never thought I'd hear myself say.

On an entirely different note, I have stumbled upon what has to be the single best personal technology blog ever! It's from Britain and called Dork Talk. It's written by the brilliant actor (yes actor!) Stephen Fry, best known in the US for his portrayal of Jeeves opposite Hugh Lurie's Bertie Wooster. It is one of the funniest, insightful, and down right entertaining takes on gadgets and personal tech. Go read it NOW! Oh, and I rarely plug other blogs so you know this one is good.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Aargh! There Be Pirates Afoot!

Today I ran across an article about a website called Pirate Bay. I won't give their URL since I don't need some automated system thinking that I'm promoting them. Whatever type of 'bot you favor, most are much more stupid than most humans (most, not all) and can't tell when someone is linking to a site for nefarious reasons or not.

Anyway, Pirate Bay is a bit torrent scanner. They publish the addresses of torrent streams used to download all kinds of - you guessed it - pirated media. Music, software, video, you name it. It's so incredibly blatant. I should also mention that these guys are in Sweden where the rules are different. This will be important later, so make a note.

Needless to say, these folks get a billion cease and desist letters on a regular basis. This does not seem to bother them much since they actually publish the letters on their web site along with their responses. The responses range from the merely snarky to the harsh and obscene. I won't go into details but, needless to say, you couldn't sit down after taking some of their "advice".

Much of their taunting revolves around Americans not knowing Swedish copyright law or threatening action under US law. Some letters exhibit a complete lack of basic knowledge about Sweden. Those letters get the extra special treatment as you might imagine. The basis for their disdain is the argument that what they are doing is legal in Sweden. They reserve special ire for those who threaten them with the Digital Millennium Act or similar US-based sop to the recording industry.

The evil part of me finds this truly fascinating, bordering on entertaining. It's not so much the letters
that I find interesting. They fall somewhere between formulaic to downright silly, . It's that anyone would send them at all. Pirate Bay is very upfront about the fact that they publish these letters and verbally abuse the senders. Maybe there is a legal requirement but sending these guys a form letter is just asking for abuse and accomplishes nothing. That much is obvious to even a casual observer. What's even more remarkable are the responses to Pirate Bay's responses. Clearly, someone is not getting the message here.

I would also be worried about bringing this public derision
down on my company or client. Basically, most of the companies that send them letters end up looking quite foolish. The marketing guy in me is just screaming "Stop it! The PR nightmare is killing us!"

So, while I don't condone what the lovely Swedes at Pirate Bay are doing, I have to admit they know how to make fun of something. If I was them, I would shut down the bit torrent site and just make fun of cease and desist letters sent to others. That would be worth something and they are very good at it. They could be the Jerky Boys of the copyright world. Now that's entertainment!

P.S. The bit about what Elk are still allowed to do in Sweden had me in stitches. I know that doesn't reflect well on me.