Offtopic – Vacation report

Wim and I just returned from going on a 4 day mini-vacation together. Having been struck by divine inspiration we had decided to do a long weekend in Saint Tropez. Since going was a relativly impulsive decision we set of from Barcelona on Friday after work without any bookings or plans. Or a clear idea about what do to in Saint Tropez either.

It rained heavily most of the evening and night, but we kept on going in the firm belief that Saturday would provide us with better weather. We ended up getting a room at a very cheap hotel about an hour out of Saint Tropez. The hotel had a ‘room vending machine’ instead of a reception so we just typed in that we wanted a room with two beds for one night and put in our credit card, and voila, 45 Euros later we had a receipt with the pin code allowing us to get into the room. Nice setup.

Next morning we drove into Saint Tropez proper and luckily it turned out we where not the only ones there driving a non luxury car. We quickly found some crazy expensive parking and started strolling around town, trying to get some sense of the town and figuring out what our lodging options where. After walking around for a few hours, asking at a few hotels, looking at the old city fortress and getting hit on the head by a gate pole we where settled in at a hotel very close to the central square of Saint Tropez. At that point we had come to the end of our ‘planning’ so we ended just walking around for a bit before implicitly deciding to dedicate the day to food and drink. We started the evening at a Irish pub along the harbour and discovered that it truly was possible to price the Guinness more expensivly than in Barcelona. Yet, being on vacation we did not let such a minor setback put a dampner on our thirst. Wim even took the chance to start flirting with one of the bar’s little ladies, but I will not detail that affair here :). After getting of to a solid start at the Irish pub we started looking around for a place to get some food, and relativly quickly found a place advertising cote boeuf, the famous french meat. And true enough, a hundred euros later we left the resturant well content after consuming a gigantic peace of very good and well prepared meat each. We then went back to the harbour to hang out with the jetset crowd and enjoy more drinks. We had a lot of fun and as it turns out Wim do not mind going uninvited onto huge luxury yatchs once he has about one bottle of Amaretto inside.

Although the hotel had alloted him a bed, Wim decided to spend most of the night on the floor of the room and was a tad slow on the communication side the next morning. Anyway we eventually made our way down to one of the town beaches for the mandatory vacation tanning session. As the day lazed on we consumed a small lunch and one of the local beach bars, and as it turned out the cute girl running the tiny clothing botique also modelled her own clothes so we had some entertainment during the meal. As the afternoon aproached some angry looking cloudes chased us back to the city center and a little shopping.

We ended up doing dinner at a small italian resturant in Saint Tropez before heading of to the VIP Room which was supposedly the happening place of the town. Having been denied access the day before due to being slightly intoxicated we where dead set on restoring our honour. After going there and being told the nightclub would open in about 30 minutes a few times and then going back to the harbour for some drinks and the club in the end looking totally dead (maybe not that strange for a Sunday night) we decided it wasn’t worth the time in the end, so instead we took an relativly early night in order to be ready for what we had decided would be the next step of our journey the next day.

Waking up we packed our stuff, jumped in the car and headed of to the tiny enclave of Monaco. By coincidence we found the Westminster hotel which is located 800m outside the border of Monaco (you don’t realize how small Monaco is until you tried walking around :).
The hotel was fantastic and the pricing very affordable, especially considering you have a stunning view of the sea from most of the rooms, including a lot of communal areas to sit around and enjoy the sun and even a nice terrace for the room. We walked into the old town in the evening to take a look around and get some food. The little town around the castle is very nice and pleasant and packed with resturants it turned out. After a nice meal we walked over to the famous casino and beating statistics I manage to take the 100 Euro I decided to spend and turn it into 400 Euro before leaving the Casino. Was a nice way to subsidize the vacation. Ended up taking it quite easy on Monday evening as we needed to do the short trip back to Barcelona the next day, but all in all it was a very fun trip.

Civil disobediance and what works or not

Read David Trowbridge‘s blog entry about the recent blogging campaign posting one of the AACS keys with interest. As someone who has to deal with software patents and DRM systems on an almost daily basis as part of my job I would have to say I disagree on his conclusion that such efforts have no value and should just be considered worthless online ‘whining’.

There was a similar thing happening with CSS back in the day, where people posted the DeCSS source code everywhere and put it on t-shirts etc. While it might not have caused the whole DRM eco-system to fail it did play a part in the content industry starting to question the value of DRM systems. If we get a similar story now with AACS it could be the decisive blow that ‘educates’ the content industry on the futility of pursuing DRM systems.

The fact that we have had DeCSS out there now for many years has also been a useful tool for countering many of the arguments made by for instance the DVD CCA, regarding why DRM systems are needed. In the DVD CCA FAQ there is a question about why CSS is necesarry. They are saying that without CSS the content industry would be hesistant to release their content. Well DeCSS has been out for a long while now and there is a long list of DVD rippers out there using it, available for all major operating systems, yet that fact doesn’t seem to have put a dampener on the willingness of the movie studios to release more DVD’s…..

So David might feel that the ‘Civil disobedience’ in regards to AACS is worthless, yet I say that discrediting the major DRM systems out there actually do serve a purpose in terms of educating people about the futility of such systems, and also demonstrates that the assumption that without effective DRM systems sales will collapse is a false one.

And being someone who has to deal with people doing hardware, software and content in this area I can tell you that the ‘educational effect’ of more and more DRM systems getting broken is slowly changing the mindset and level of understanding of the industry.

So while I as part of my work have to deal with the laws and regulations as they are today and have to work within the constraints they set that doesn’t mean I don’t respect the efforts of those being able to operate in less restrained ways than we can as a company. The world is a complex place and a working democracy is much more than just voting and mailing your local politician.

Are you a big baby and are you also going to GUADEC?

Well then you are in luck. Edward just pointed me to the budget airline bmibaby (pronounced ‘be my baby’) which offer budget fligths directly to Birmingham which will save you quite a bit of both time and money compared to flying into a London airport (cost me a total of 70€ in train tickets the last time going back and forth to Wolverhampton/Birmingham). If you are flying to London I do recommend Stanstead over Luton though, unless you are comfy with the UK public transport system as the train from Stanstead goes directly to Birmingham, while you need to switch twice when going from Luton by train.