's Creator Kim Dotcom is Imprisoned

A man known as Kim Dotcom (real name, Kim Schmitz) is a 38-year old computer programmer that is best known for creating one of the most popular downloading websites in the world. operated as a one-click hosting service that allowed users to upload files for sharing worldwide. Unfortunately, the majority of the files available were pirated software, music and movies. On January 20th, 2012, Kim Dotcom was arrested on copyright infringement charges in New Zealand. Today, he was imprisoned and denied bail due to being an extreme flight risk.

Anyone who has ever downloaded something illegal has probably used Megaupload at some point. The service provided storage space online for small fee. Uploaders would store bootlegged movies, music, tv shows, ebooks, software, games and anything else under the sun. The links to this content would then be mass-distributed to the world via websites that offered little to no value to the web community and were usually plastered with seemingly endless advertisements. As a downloader, you could take anything your heart desired. Where Megaupload made its real money was by providing “faster” download services for a fee. As a free user, you were limited to a small number of downloads per day, but most importantly your maximum speed was capped.

Megaupload Stats

Being number one in anything can be difficult, but being number 1 on the Internet (and staying there) can be next to impossible. Although never reached the coveted rank of the number one visited website in the world, shows that at one point it was the 13th most visited website. Currently it rests at 74. In short time, it will likely fall off the face of the Internet faster than it took me to write that.

At one point or another, this is what Megaupload was pulling down:

  • Unique visitors: 81 million
  • Pageviews: > 1 billion
  • Visitors per day: 50 million
  • Daily reach: 4%
  • Members: 180 million

It was also estimated that at its peak, Megaupload was responsible for over 4% of all Internet traffic! Not bad for a website started in 2005. Among the other sites that Megaupload Limited operated were websites for videos (, photos ( and porn ( All have currently been shut down and now display the infamous FBI anti-piracy logo:

FBI seized website

The Seizure

All the websites and domains associated with Megaupload were seized by the Megaupload Indictmentgovernment a few days ago and as you can plainly see, when you access any of these sites, you are greeted with a friendly reminder that they no longer exist. The charges laid out to Kim Dotcom and Megaupload Limited stem from years of pirating anything digital. While sites like YouTube have solved similar legal issues by installing teams of people with the sole purpose of finding and removing copyrighted videos, Megaupload has allowed its users to upload and share anything and everything.

As a result, New Zealand Police arrested Kim Dotcom and three other Megaupload executives in Auckland on January 20th. The FBI has requested that these four individuals be extradited to the United States. Kim Dotcom was denied bail for fear that if he made it to Germany he would escape extradition.

The indictment indicated that Megaupload differed from other online storage business in a number of ways, in that Megaupload relied heavily on users to download files rather than actually store anything. This was because the vast majority of users did not pay for the service, thereby making Megaupload rely on advertising dollars from ads shown to free downloaders.

The Future

Once this guy gets his sentence, I’m sure the domain and all the business assets (what’s left after the seizure) will be sold off to some other corporation so they can breath life back into the brand. And just like Napster, they will attempt to take the “legal” approach to file sharing. However, the damage is likely done. Those of us who have used it will miss its free and open business model, while those of you who will discover it for the first time in whatever new light is shined on it will never know how great it used to be.

My Two Cents

Kim Dotcom was able to use his business-savvy skills and computer knowledge to create one of the largest file-sharing networks of all time. I remember using the site a few times and always had that first thought of “Why didn’t I think of this?!”, but as I thought more about it, I kept asking myself how websites like Megaupload can exist when it’s crystal clear about what its purpose is—to provide copyrighted material to the world free of charge.

I was reading an article on Yahoo! about Kim Dotcom being arrested and someone left a very interesting comment that I just had to share:

Megaupload was shut down, WITHOUT the need for PIPA or SOPA… Imagine that, the copyright holders using the legal system and EXISTING LAW to bust pirates instead of censoring the internet…

It brings up a very good point and it’s the exact reason I have been so against PIPA and SOPA ever since the new legislation was introduced. The idea that we need more and more laws to combat a problem like this is ridiculous. We have what we need to prosecute people like this and the take-down of the entire Megaupload network is proof that this process works…even in other countries.

Cable TV Industry Losing Record Numbers of Subscribers

For years, the amount of time I spend watching tv has dramatically been decreased to practically nothing. Aside from a few number of shows that I still enjoy, there’s nothing really exciting on. However, this article is not about the quality of tv—it’s about the alternative choices.

In my current house, there are six televisions all set up with boxes from AT&T UVerse. I don’t get into the downsides of AT&T UVerse here, but let’s just say being able to only watch 4 different channels at any one time across all 6 boxes is an outright crime! The worst part about this is that when that 5th person wants to come on and view a different channel, he or she has the ability to either watch one of the 4 channels being viewed or kick off the newest person to turn on their tv! Sorry, I said I wasn’t going to get into it, so let’s move on!

According to the Associated Press, eight of the nine major subscription-TV providers have lost 195,700 subscribers between April and June of this year. This group provides TV services to about 70% of the country, so these numbers equate to 0.2 percent of their 83.2 million customers. This might not seem like a lot, but if this trend continues, who knows what may happen.

Actually I have some theories on that! First of all, why are people leaving their tv services? One major contributor to this downsizing is the economy. Naturally, when times are tough and unemployment rates are high, people begin to trim expenditures where they can afford to. “Afford” in this case means where people are willing to let go of some luxuries. For some reason, they’d rather eat than to watch tv.

In the last few years, Verizon, AT&T and DirecTv have all been ‘stealing’ customers away from the big cable companies like Time Warner and Cox which would explain for their continued losses year after year, but now all of these companies are starting to feel the burn. Another contributing factor in the losses is assumed to be Internet video sites. More and more younger people are getting their entertainment fix on sites like YouTube, Hulu and Netflix. In the case of Hulu, users are opting to wait a day or two before their favorite show appears on the site opting to watch it there instead of sitting in front of their tv.

Even for those wishing to watch Hulu on their tv, they can do so now with their Blu-ray player or Xbox system. YouTube and Hulu are free while Netflix charges $7.99 for the streaming of any available DVD they offer which includes feature films and plenty of television shows that have appeared on DVD discs. Hulu Plus offers customers the ability to watch shows online with less commercials and usually a lot sooner than the free users. No matter how you slice it, these online services can undercut tv subscriptions any day of the week.

However, as the paradigm shifts, we can surely expect an increase in fees that we pay to those online services because afterall, they have to pay for the content too and what do you think all the tv and movie studios are going to charge them if they can’t get their money from advertisers?

My two cents

There is no direct comparison between cable tv and Internet tv simply because with Internet tv, you have to find everything you’re looking for and constantly change videos as each of them end and that requires work. Part of the enjoyment of watching tv is having the never-ending flow of programming at your disposal without having to get up and do anything about it.

As for me, I spend most of time at a computer both for work and pleasure, so it’s a natural thing for me to watch tv and movies online. However, I don’t watch much of anything anymore due to my hectic schedule so I could do without the tv service and most of the online stuff, but I’ll never get rid of my Netflix!

Google Sets Out To Buy Hulu

If owning YouTube wasn’t enough, now the technology giant sets its sights on Hulu. Currently, Hulu is a jointly-owned outfit run by the likes of Disney, NBC Universal and News Corp. The service picks up the slack where YouTube drops it off—broadcasting tv shows and other specials that are wholly owned by mass media outlets like NBC Universal, CBS, ABC, etc.

If this purchase were to happen, it would be hard to imagine what or who could get in Google’s way. Google already has the largest and most popular search engine today and the most populated self-promoting video site available. If they add Hulu to that mix, they would have a trifecta from hell! Well, maybe it won’t be that bad, but the idea that one company could theoretically be at the helm of the web’s top three search, video and tv site is pretty scary.

Google is already in hot water over allegations that they favor their own services in search results when compared to paying advertisers. Their complaint is that other companies can’t compete with Google due to the massive amount of services and products they offer. I have to agree, but is all these ill-thoughts toward Google valid? I mean, if a company makes great products and people love using them, how is it their fault that competitors have it tough?

At any rate, the Hulu purchase would further allow Google into the connected devices of Americans all over the country via the Hulu Plus subscription. Hulu Plus allows paying members the ability to connect Hulu accounts to almost any media device: Blu-ray players, gaming consoles, smartphones, Internet-tvs and those new refrigerators that have built-in wi-fi and LCD screens. Google had already expressed major interest in a Google TV service that offered these features. Maybe it’s safe to say that Google can now proceed with that idea and adding Hulu to the mix as a fore-front content provider. Or maybe Google can simply re-brand Hulu into Google TV.

Whatever the case may be, let’s just hope things get better instead of worse. Right now, there’s an epidemic of floundering websites and media services that come and go by the night, all competing for your eyes. Only time will tell who the victor is, but one thing’s for sure, the mega powerhouse Google is not going away anytime soon.

Apple Versus Netflix: The Digital Entertainment War

I just talked about this yesterday and it looks like the rumors are already gaining momentum. The debate about whether Apple would try to take on Netflix in their ability to serve up digital content to the masses has the community jumping. The evidence? A huge, brand new data center built by Apple in North Carolina is on the verge of going operational.

This data center is said to rival those of other media companies like Google and Microsoft. Even better, Apple is already planning to build another one! All this information points to Apple’s desire and ability to be the leader of digital entertainment distribution.

iTunes has been widely successful since it first launched in 2001 and it has been the leader in digital music sales for years. However, it’s always lacked in the television and film arena. For television, it’s a no-brainer—competing with cable and broadcast networks who deliver instant programming 24/7 on hundreds of channels is no small feat. However in the film industry, we have been renting movies since 1985 when Blockbuster first opened and then in 1999, Netflix revolutionized this process by bringing movies to your door. Netflix revolutionized this process again by offering most of these same movies in live streaming.Netflix

Apple has the Apple TV and the iTunes store which allows for the “purchase” of movies and even tv shows (mostly those that have made it to DVD collections), but so far, they can’t touch Netflix. In fact, only recently has Apple began streaming their movies through the new Apple TV opting to cut out the ability to download and store movies on the device itself. This major change could very well be the stepping stone Apple needed in their quest to dominate your living room.

Pros and Cons

In Netflix’s corner:

  • Ability to have physical DVD and Blu-ray discs sent directly to your door
  • Live streaming of thousands of titles (and more coming each day)
  • Multi-device support (Blu-ray players, free phone apps, TVs, etc.)
  • Relatively cheap
  • New pricing plans for streaming service only (no in-home discs)


  • Not all movies are available via streaming
  • In-home disc count limited to 4 max at one time
  • TV shows limited to those only available on DVD

In Apple’s corner (Potentially):

  • Live streaming of thousands of titles
  • Possibly cheap? We’ll have to wait and see.
  • Multi-device support?


  • Might have to buy Apple TV to stream
  • No in-home discs

It’s hard to develop a pros and cons list with a product/service that doesn’t exist yet, but in terms of pure speculation, Netflix slightly leads the pack. The main reason for this is because they have a huge head start. Not only do they have hundreds of thousands of physical media for rental, but they are gaining massive traction with adding new streaming content. Netflix also has their software available on almost every connected device these days. Just about any Blu-ray player and TV comes with the ability to stream movies from your account. Knowing Apple, that alone might be the sole competitive difference. Apple is not known to be too kind when it comes to sharing software.

My two cents

Apple does have the advantage when it comes to customer base. They have millions of users already linked to iTunes via their credit cards, so adding an additional service charge to bring movies into the picture will likely not be a major hurdle for most consumers. Only time will tell of course and for me, it’s dependent on just how well Apple delivers that content. The deciding factor will come down to three things: 1. Title availability, 2. Network speed and 3. Where I’ll be able to watch this content.

iPad Poised to Take Out Radio and Other Media

A new survey from Google shows that more and more people are opting to use their tablet devices, with most of them being iPads, over traditional media streams like listening to the radio or watching broadcast tv. This is happening just now?! I can’t remember the last time I listened to the radio!

The survey points out that more than half of the people questioned said they use their iPad more than listening to the radio and just about 25% of them use an iPad more than a computer. Finally, a third of these individuals stated they use iPad more than they watch tv. Because the iPad is so versatile, people can now use one device to access the Internet, watch videos, stream movies and tv shows, read newspapers and magazines, listen to music and play games. Of course cable and satellite providers have made honest attempts at keeping you on your television by offering on-demand content, DVR services, music channels, downloadable content, HD content, 3D content, free movies, etc., but without a tv capable of handling some of these things, you’re kind of up a creek.

Apple TV

Apple TV
Since the iPad is an Apple product, I doubt Steve Jobs cares that one of his own products is cannibalizing another market, but I know he figures he might as well have a piece of that pie too. Before he retires, Steve Jobs plans to “revolutionize” the living room. The Apple TV has been an interesting, yet vastly overlooked product since its inception. Originally called iTV (how original), the Apple TV began shipping in 2007 and has seen one major upgrade in 2010. However, nobody is really talking about it.

Is it possible that not everything Apple touches turns to gold? In light of this new survey, one could wonder what the future of Apple TV will be. If you actually take the time to look at the device, it really is pretty cool. You can stream purchases of videos, movies and music right from your iTunes account, access Netflix, NBA tv, YouTube and display slideshows from Flickr photo albums.

However, it would seem that this device is doomed. With the realization that iPads are here to stay, along with other competing products, Steve Jobs is likely to bring the cloud experience to your living room. By connecting all of your devices together, you’ll be able to do anything and everything on just about anything and everything in your home. I can see the commercial now:

  • Man is at work with 2 minutes left to go, watching a Netflix movie on his Macbook.
  • Man leaves work and continues same movie on iPhone while riding the subway home (I know there’s no cell service on subways, but work with me here!)
  • Man walks in the door, turns on tv and continues streaming same movie.
  • Man grabs iPad because he has to go to the bathroom and doesn’t want to pause the movie.
  • Man’s iPad battery dies, he gets upset and breaks iPad.
  • Man gets even more upset, breaks Macbook and tv.
  • Wife says she’s leaving because husband is to “connected” to technology.
  • Man is sad and lonely because Apple Care won’t cover physical damage.

On a serious note, if anyone makes that script into a YouTube video, I want credit!

My two cents

Of course the above example is a huge exaggeration, but the questions are pretty clear. Do we really need all this stuff? Do we really want everything to be so connected that we become so dependent on them? What I would like to see is a way for consumers to pay much smaller fees for tv service. If Apple plans to cloud up the living room with more on-demand tv choices like those you can get from Hulu, then I hope the cable companies respond by allowing customers to only pay for channels they wish to receive. At the rate all this is going, I’m sure it won’t be much longer before network television simply allows you to subscribe to your favorite shows rather than paying to have the whole channel.

A blind movie critic?

I was listening to Kevin and Bean on KROQ (Los Angeles 106.7) this morning and they were talking to the world’s only blind movie critic. At first, I thought it was a weird joke they were playing, but it wasn’t. This guy really exists and he takes his job seriously.

His website is and he really critiques movies!

I think this is facinating and it’s great to see someone out there who can actually still give something back to the world despite his disability.

It might also make for an interesting twist on the reviews themselves given that the only ‘seeing’ he can do is with his ears. That’s puts a whole new challenge back in the hands of movie makers out there: bring back the feeling in movies.

I vote to stop with all these visual enhancements and special effects and focus more on story develpment and characters.

I wish all the best to the blind movie critic and hope his career blossoms.

Words to live by

I was just watching the movie Unforgiven last night and I was trying to remember the famous line at the end. I wanted to re-write for someone I was chatting with online, but I couldn’t remember the exact wording, so I searched it and I not only found the line, but also a little insight as to what the inference is:

At the end of the film William Munny (Clint Eastwood) is about to kill Little Bill (Gene Hackman) and Little Bill says “I don’t deserve this.”

William Munny says, “Deserve’s got nothing to do with it.”

Well I don’t mean to crush your spirit or dash your hopes, but when you’re standing at the car dealership or about to buy that huge plasma screen TV because you work hard and deserve it, remember the words of William Munny, “Deserve’s got nothing to do with it.”

I know you work hard, I do too, but that doesn’t mean I deserve the $300,000 Bentley Continental GT. Sure I want one, sure I’d practically kill for one, but I certainly don’t derserve one.

You see, we can justify almost any purchase, almost any reckless behavior somehow. We always feel we deserve it, or we are entitled, or it’s not hurting anyone. But is it right? Are there better alternatives? When it comes to spending, the alternative is either spending on something else or saving. If you’re already a good saver then whatever purchase you’ve decided to make is probably justified but it isn’t beacause you deserve it, it’s because you’ve planned for it.

The above quote is directly from the website: I found it to be pretty interesting and true.

My favorite scene in Tombstone

Although the movie Tombstone (1993) (Buy it on DVD or Blu-ray) has a lot of historical inaccuracies, it is still a great movie. If you haven’t seen it, you really need to check it out. Here’s my favorite scene from the movie. It involves the first meeting of Johnny Ringo and Doc Holliday in the Oriental Saloon.

Holliday: “Ah, you must be Ringo. Look darlin’. Johnny Ringo–the deadlist pistolier there is since Wild Bill, they say. What do you say darlin’? Should I hate him?”

Kate: “You don’t even know him.”

Holliday: “No. That’s true, but I don’t know, there’s just something about him–something around the eyes. I don’t know. Reminds me of…me. No. I’m sure of it. I hate him.”

Earp: “He’s drunk.”

Holliday: “In vino veritas.” (In wine there is truth.)

Ringo: “Age quod agis.” (Watch what you say.)

Holliday: “Credat judaeus apella, non ego.” (Tell it to someone who cares.)

Ringo: “Iuventus stultorum magister.” (Youth is the teacher of fools.)

Holliday: “In pace requiescat.” (Rest in peace.)

White: “Come on boys. We don’t want any trouble in here–not in any language.”

Holliday: “That’s latin darlin’. Evidently, Mr. Ringo is an educated man. Now I really hate him.

At this point, Ringo draws his gun and puts on a show for the bar which draws Doc to do the same, only he decides to mock Ringo by using his tin cup rather than a gun. I’m not sure if this is a portrayal of any actual events, but I do know that it’s a powerful scene where two big characters establish their tone throughout the remainder of the film.

Here’s the video of the scene:


While on this topic, here’s another favorite scene of mine. You can only see this one if you own the Vista Series version of the film (at the link above) which contains scenes not used in the theatrical release. Anyway, the scene I’m speaking of is right after the two Earp brothers are gunned down and Morgan dies on the pool table. Doc is sitting in his room drunk out of his mind and he says the following:

Holliday: “Weave a circle round him thrice and close your eyes with holy dread. For he on honey-dew hath fed and drunk the milk of Paradise.

This line is from a poem written in 1797 by Samuel Taylor Coleridge called Kubla Khan. It’s the last stanza that Doc is reciting here and it’s said that Kubla Khan (Genghis Kahn’s grandson) had some ten thousand horses on his land to convey his power. Only he and those committing miscellaneous acts of valour were allowed to drink their milk thus becoming the milk of Paradise. In Tombstone, Doc is simply saying that if Wyatt is able to obtain a reckoning for his brother’s deaths, he’ll finally be able to enjoy the rest of his life.

Another note of interest is that the poem was supposedly written out of inspiration from an opium-induced dream. It’s likely that Doc Holliday was also under opium influence during this scene.