Cease, desist … and, of course, pay!

(June 22, 2008)

It could have been a nice evening today, but to my great surprise, I found a not-so-nice e-mail in my Inbox – and at the same time, my parents found the same thing as snail mail in their mailbox at home.

To cut a long story short: Apple Inc. sent me (via a German lawyer) a »cease and desist« letter. They believe that the names CENSORED and CENSORED-s (sic!) violate their trademarks »Keynote« and »iTunes«.
Frankly, I do have a little bit of understanding in the first case. In fact, I saw it coming. I couldn’t expect that the uppercase letter »J« I put in the middle of the name, radically changing both the look and the pronounciation, was enough to stop Apple from sueing me, or could I?
The other case is a little bit more awkward because there simply is no such thing as CENSORED-s. I have written a program with a name that looks like the one they’re accusing me to use, but there is no ‘s’ at the end of the name! In the first two pages of the lengthy mail the lawyers sent me, they even did spell it correctly. But then, in all places that really matter, like the cease and desist form itself (»Unterlassungserklärung«) and the explanation why they think I’m violating their trademark, they constantly write the name with the additional ‘s’. So, in fact, even if I would sign that letter, I would commit myself not to use a product name I never used! (That flaw aside, I also don’t think that there’s a sufficient amount of similarity between »iTunes« and CENSORED.)

To make things worse, they chose an insane amount in controversy (»Gegenstandswert«) of 50,000 € each in both cases. That seems to be quite a lot, considering that both programs in questions are FOSS, meaning that I did neither pay nor earn anything for making them. Out of these 100,000 € in total, they compute a fee (»Geschäftsgebühr«) of nearly 1,800 € I’d have to pay if I sign the form.
Also, they set up a ridiculously short time frame to sign it: If I don’t send it back and pay the fee until 2008-06-26 (this Thursday), they’ll likely be sueing me. Mind you, I got the letter this evening (2008-06-22), because they sent it late Friday (2008-06-20, the e-mail is dated 16:09) and I was neither at home nor did I have internet access this weekend. That’s 6 days of time, but since it’s around a weekend, it’s effectively only 3.

The great question is now, what could I do? I can’t just sign the letter and pay the bill, because it’s factually wrong. On the other hand, if I take myself a lawyer, it might be too late to change anything in the matter and would maybe double the fee (assuming that my own lawyer would also use the ridiculous 100,000 € value as a baseline for his/her payment). Seems as if I’m screwed either way.

The only thing that’s clear is that both my presentation program and one of my iPod tools will be renamed soon. If you have a nice new non-Appleish name for these projects, please let me know :)
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CENSORED 0.4.0 Beta Test Started

(April 13, 2008)

After a long, long time I can finally (and proudly) present a nearly finished new version of CENSORED, the iPod management tool. The main highlights in this release are support for some new models (iPod classic and »fat« nano), AAC and (experimental) video support, import of Play Counts and upload to last.fm and a lot of other new features and bugfixes. Though the code is already finished, I can’t publicly release a full version yet because of two reasons: First, the documentation needs to be updated and second, I need an official Client ID from last.fm to legally upload (»scrobble«) play statistics, but the guy who is responsible for those seems to be very busy with other stuff at the moment.

So instead of releasing CENSORED 0.4.0 straight away, I’m doing a non-public beta test now. Users who helped me with the new version or otherwise expressed interest in it have already been invited. If you are also interested and have not received an invitation yet, just send me an e-mail.
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2007 demo roundup

(December 31, 2007)

Yesterday, The Ultimate Meeting 2007 ended, so it’s the right time to review the best and most interesting demos of 2007. Read on for a short summary which demos I would personally recommend to someone interested in the scene.
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Technology isn’t what it used to be

(December 26, 2007)

In the good old days, technological gadgets used to be very positive things: Power them up and have fun with them, that’s it. This christmas, I organized some technical gifts for me and my brothers that don’t fulfill this scheme completely: They all work, and they all are nice and cool, but they all have this certain bitter aftertaste.

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Time to play?

(October 29, 2007)

After a few rather uneventful years, this autumn is a very hot season for PC gamers, with some very long awaited (and hyped!) first-person shooters coming out or having come out. The multiplayer folks will get their share with Enemy Territory: Quake Wars, Unreal Tournament 3 and Team Fortress 2, but I don’t care about them. I play singleplayer games only, so BioShock, Crysis and the rest of Valve’s Orange Box (namely Portal and the complete Half-Life 2 saga, including Episode One and Episode Two) are much more interesting to me. I purchased The Orange Box and played the demo versions of BioShock and Crysis, and unfortunately, I have to say that I’m not as happy as I expected to be.
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Quo vadis, Apple?

(September 15, 2007)

Once upon a time, there was a magnificent computer hardware and software company that revolutionized the computing world two times in a row. That was 1977 and 1984. This manufacturer continued to improve on its once-revolutionary products, but faced some problems in the mid-90s. However, at the beginning of the new millennium, it was back with full force and started a revolution once again, this time in a niche of the consumer electronics market. This turned out so well that the company lately even dropped the term “computer” from its name – which is quite ironic, because the quality, usability and innovativity of all the products dropped significantly since then, only the computer hardware is still on par with the competition.
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How not to make a new version of a product

(September 5, 2007)

If you think that I’m now going to write about the new iPod models, you’re wrong. Even though they would perfectly fit the headline, I think that everything that can be said about them has already been said already said elsewhere, so I’ll sum it up as follows: fat nano – ugly; touch – between the chairs; classic – couldn’t care less.
No, this article is about another product that was launched today: Paint Shop Pro X2. I absolutely love Paint Shop Pro, it’s my favorite image editing application. But since Corel took it over, quality seems to decrease steadily :(
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Yep, it’s true.

(August 28, 2007)

The discovery of the consequences of Windows Vista’s so-called “Multimedia Class Scheduling Service” (MMCSS) is one of today’s big topics in all the computer news gazettes. I just verified the problem myself, and what can I say? It’s true! :)

I booted Vista, started a large (multi-gigabyte) FTP transfer via Gigabit Ethernet and played an MP3 file at the same time, and here’s what the Task Manager showed me:

I have to admit that the first part of the graph isn’t as nice and smooth as Mark Russinovich’s one, but I think that’s because I tested using a real disk-to-disk FTP transfer instead of artificially generated network traffic. However, the sudden decrease of network activity just as I pushed the “play” button in WinAMP can clearly be seen. While audio was playing, I got a quite steady 12% figure in the network graph.
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The Evoke 2007 Live Report

(August 10, 2007)

It’s again time for Evoke, and since Evoke features the best (read: most frequently working) Internet connection, I’m again able to write a live report. So, if you read these lines before Monday, August 13, 2007, watch out for updates :)
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nVidia driver bug?

(July 8, 2007)

While testing my current work-in-progress demo on my brand-new Vista-powered and GeForce-8-equipped laptop, I noticed some really strange rendering glitches. Since this was the only machine where the bug occured, so I thought it would be some bug in my code that caused incompatibilities with that particular driver version for that particular chip revision or perhaps Vista. However, a friend had the very same problem on a GeForce 7 card, Windows XP and a much older driver than the one I use on my main development PC, which has a nVidia card, too. This meant that the problem needed some serious debugging :)
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