Today, Marielle and I stopped by Eastwood City because several major record companies were holding a sale of audio and video CDs. Yesterday she had already bought a copy of Lifehouse’s second album “Stanley Climbfall” priced at 100 pesos, so I was excited to see what else I could find at that bargain-basement price.

What’s ironic is that a few hours before that, I was at Robinsons Galleria downloading music files off Limewire. For some people this sort of behavior might be contradictory; as the ads want to have it, “Piracy is illegal.”

I don’t necessarily consider downloading music as piracy, though. I don’t download to make profit or to dodge having to buy the artists’ CDs; I use Limewire to find extremely rare tracks that didn’t even exist on commercially-released CDs, or to determine whether an artist’s album is worth buying. In the case of Gavin deGraw’s “Chariot Stripped” two-disc special edition, I haven’t seen a single copy in local record stores, so I downloaded the acoustic disc one afternoon. I’d still like to have an original of that album eventually, since my interest in it was piqued by the downloaded songs.

But what choice does one have when legitimate copies of music CDs come with hidden software that cripples your computer? On October 31, the news broke that Sony Music had packaged software into their CDs for copy protection purposes. I don’t blame them for trying, but the issue wasn’t copy protection; the issue was that Sony had used rootkit technology to hide the software. According to Mark Russinovich, the person who discovered Sony’s doings, “[r]ootkits are cloaking technologies that hide files, Registry keys, and other system objects from diagnostic and security software, and they are usually employed by malware attempting to keep their implementation hidden…” Russinovich detected the rootkit and removed it painstakingly, but this resulted in his computer losing access to its CD-ROM drives.

After Russinovich reported this in his blog, the issue snowballed; Boing Boing has a timeline of events, but basically the rootkit was discovered to serve a more insidious purpose: it opened a backdoor into the infected system, which trojans and other malicious programming could use to install themselves undetected or to play havoc with the system. Sony’s program also violated privacy rights of the people who had bought these discs legitimately; once installed in the system, the program reported disc usage back to Sony, though the company denies paying attention to this data.

Sony confounded matters even further by providing an “uninstaller” of the rootkit. Unfortunately, one was required to provide personal information before downloading the uninstaller, and the additional program didn’t actually do anything to remove the rootkit, but only made it visible. Additionally, the uninstaller opened an even bigger security hole in systems where it was installed. And the End-User License Agreement is even worse than these security holes: here are the conditions you must agree to before you can even listen to the CD.

Note that none of these things would have happened if the consumers had simply just downloaded the songs file-by-file off peer-to-peer networks. I’m not advocating illegal behavior, but Sony’s deeds were a serious disservice to the people who trusted them and attempted to do the right thing by buying original CDs. Here’s a full list of the infected CDs from Sony.

And since I’m supposed to be a good mass comm student, I have to mention the media angle to this issue. Apparently CNN failed to pick up the story in the early days of the controversy, in stark contrast to the tech news sites that were abuzz with it. A conspiracy theory attributes this to CNN being part of Time Warner and the RIAA (the industry body that is attempting to rein in digital piracy of audio and video).

As for me, I was able to find a good CD at the sale. One hundred pesos for “Long Gone Before Daylight,” The Cardigans’s fourth album. Ü

More Constantine, More Mig

As an addendum to my uber-excited post about Constantine Maroulis in Manila, I’m pleased to report that Mig Ayesa (of Rockstar: INXS fame) is also in Manila.

TWO CHARISMATIC rockers who became famous worldwide this year landed in Manila yesterday.

Filipino-Australian rocker MiG Ayesa and New Yorker Constantine Maroulis stepped off the same Philippine Airlines flight from Los Angeles, California, and into a quiet welcome each from a small group of fervent fans. It was 3 a.m.

Ayesa placed third in “Rock Star INXS,” which featured 15 contenders and was broadcast worldwide for 11 weeks from the CBS Studios in Los Angeles. The prize was the position of new front man for the Australian band INXS, a phenomenal success in the 1980s whose lead singer died in 1997.

His impressive showing, Ayesa believed, was boosted by text messages from his two home countries. During the final leg of “Rock Star,” he said in a previous Inquirer interview that, win or lose, he was definitely Manila-bound “sooner than next year … to personally thank every single fan” who sent an SMS in his favor.

“It’s nice to be treated like a long-lost son, to feel the nation behind me. It’s very nice to come home this way,” Ayesa told a handful of reporters upon arrival at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Centennial Terminal 2.

It was a surprise, too. Ayesa was initially expected on Dec. 1 to perform at the “MTV Staying Alive Music Summit for HIV/AIDS.” As it turned out, he had to turn up two weeks early as negotiations pushed through for him to perform the finale number at the opening ceremonies of the Ad Congress in Cebu City on Thursday.

At NAIA, he briefly exchanged “hey, man” hugs with “American Idol” finalist Constantine Maroulis, who is in the country for a series of performances at Ayala malls nationwide.

Like Ayesa, Maroulis did not win the competition he joined, but emerged as a big audience favorite. “I did not expect to make friends on ‘Idol.’ I treated the audition like a job interview,” Maroulis said at a press conference later in the day. “But I did make friends. In fact, we were like family.”

Ayesa, 35, describes himself as a “funk soul rocker.” His fans have heard him render classic rock songs like they were his own. He has also treated them to soulful ballads.

After a little prodding, the rocker revealed that he was also performing at the Ad Congress with Lea Salonga. “We will be doing a duet,” Ayesa said, grinning, the handsome face lit up by his amazingly beautiful blue-green eyes.

He wouldn’t say what the duet would be, but for his solo numbers, he said, he would reprise a song he did on “Rock Star” and the legendary British band Queen’s signature, “We Will Rock You.”

I have a silly little smile on my face now. Those lucky Ad Congress people.

That Nice Greek Boy

Constantine Maroulis is coming to town.

Who? He’s that nice Greek rocker boy from the latest season of American Idol. He was one of the early favorites (and my personal favorite), but the one week–the ONLY week–that he fell into the Bottom Three, he got eliminated. Some people said this was stage-managed by American Idol’s producers, who felt that if he didn’t get eliminated, the singers they had pegged to advance to the final would exit. Others said that Constantine purposely wanted to leave because his band, Pray for the Soul of Betty, was already releasing their own album. In any case, I stopped watching American Idol after he left.

And now he’s going to be in Manila next week. Drool. Swoon. Shriek. Rub shoulders with hundreds of people who want to see him as well. To that I’d say, “No, thanks.” I love Constantine dearly, but I think I could handle not actually seeing him live.

The embarrassing thing about this post is that I accidentally entered it into my tennis blog. The poor people who subscribed to the RSS feed from that blog must be wondering what in the world Constantine Maroulis would be doing in a tennis blog. Oops.

Kicking Back Too Long

So yes, again I am cramming. It seems to be a genetic predisposition, as both my parents are expert crammers. Ü But yes, I am rushing on my thesis. I didn’t set myself any deadlines earlier, and now the last sem of my residency in UP is upon me. My adviser has limited time, I have limited time, time to get cracking.

So what the hell am I doing writing here?

(I’m taking advantage of Robinsons Galleria’s free WiFi access.)


I rarely mention this nowadays, but back in 1999 I was heavily involved in anime mailing lists and consequently the local anime community. I actually was introduced to Charles (of Stalking Manila) at monthly anime screenings in UP Diliman; I also met several other lovely and loveable people there. (In fact, I can take credit for introducing two people to each other at these anime screenings. Their relationship is still going strong. Hi, Paul and Sheila.)

The reasons for my drift (or should I say abrupt break?) away from anime are detailed in the graveyard for my anime-related ramblings and creations. However, I didn’t exit without leaving some sort of legacy. In those two years of anime madness, I had gotten into cosplay and had started Pinoy Cosplay, the first Philippine-based cosplay mailing list open to the public.

I handed off moderation duties to trusted friends, and so far I hadn’t heard a peep from them–until lately. Apparently, a forum with a domain had been created in October 2005 with the name “Pinoy Cosplay,” and this had the lead moderator up in arms since the name had been taken without my (and the mailing list’s) permission. I felt I was the last resort, so I contacted the founder of the domain and worked things out. He could keep his domain, but the mailing list would remain a separate entity with claims to being the first and original Pinoy Cosplay.

This got me thinking that we can’t totally leave the past behind. As we move through water, we leave ripples in our wake; in the same way, as we go about our own lives, we affect other people’s lives whether we mean to or not.