Saturday, April 29, 2006

Do not adjust your set! Philips is controlling your media center, You have entered The Twilight Zone

This headline, "Phillips attempts to Patent Advertisment Enforcement" at CDR Zone alerted me to this story. It immediately invoked a feeling of shock, horror and deja vu!

Remember the Twilight Zone? Not the new ones, the old ones in black and white. The first series was a stunning success and even in black & White audiences were riveted! The voice at the beginning saying "Do not adjust your set, we are in control, we control the horizontal and the veritcal ...."

Half a century later they control your remote and yoru media center! They are Philips Electronics. Philips announced (the patent was filed in 2003) that it had patented "Apparatus and method for preventing switching from a channel during an advertisement display", United States Patent Application: 0060070095

This is a horror story we have all imagined in at least one nightmare. In reality we have all experienced it in our DVD players where the FBI warning cannot be skipped (unless you know how) and you go straight to jail!

That is a minor annoyance for about 3 seconds. This measure is positively draconian! For the duration of the adds viewer would literally loose control of their media centers! However, you could "buy" your way out of the commercial by paying your Cable company an amount of money. So you would now not only pay for the cable subscription, and get to watch the adds (how does that work? We pay for the content, then have to watch adds which we are told pay for the content... does that seem odd to anyone?).

Lets try anther scenario. Microsoft has been working on a Media Center the heart of which will be a PC running Microsoft Windows the Vista incarnation. Judging by th past security performance and the number of viruses out there for this singualar Operating System, this scenario is quite possible.

Evil Virus writer Ivan Borisivich Badinov (son of Boris and Natasha Badinov) who also has an extortion racket running on the side writes a virus which his botnet takes control of your media center instead of the cable company. You are forced to "The Music Box Dancer" or "Born to Be Alive endlessly, until you pay Badinov Orginization X amount of dollars, your media center will be released .... until the next time. (Like father, like son, yet another of Boris and Natasha's get rich quick schemes, thanks, Rocky & Bullwinkle)

I am also reminded of the 1953 (I think) cult Science Fiction classic "The Twonky' a Television which his wife purchased for him takes control of his life. /read the plot summary at the All Movie Guide

I believe this to be a case of prior art and that all Philips Electronics has done is re-invent "The Twonky". Case closed, Patent denied! (I wish!)

Every time you think the Entertainment Industry has gone about as far as they can go, something more absurd takes its place. Its like something out of Douglas Adams. Odd, isn't it, how yesterday's Science Fiction becomes today's reality ... or nightmare.

There is a rather good editorial at the Taipei Times orginally from The Guardian, London, April 16, 2006 Page 12


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