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February 2015 Retro Gaming Article


February 10, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Do you think DRM is about controlling your games, movies & music? Check your coffee pot

Digital Rights Management (DRM) is an annoying facet of the digital age. Digital media is far easier to copy (aka steal) than traditional analog media, so DRM is an effort to deter or prevent the copying of digital media. Various technologies are implemented to help ensure artists, developers, and creators are properly compensated for their work.

When I started playing video games, the Atari 2600 ruled the roost. My friends and I would get together, each bringing an armload of game carts, and play long into the night. We didn't think twice about those little black carts and what might be inside them. We just wanted to escape into the amazing games they offered.

Keurig 2.0 DRM coffee maker Others, however, were far more curious and wanted to know a lot more about the small PCBs inside those game carts. Needless to say, all of the 2600 games I played ad a kid fit onto one floppy disk. The challenge these days is finding someone who knows what a floppy disk is and can appreciate how many awesome Atari games will fit into 1.44 MB.

Coffee Gets DRM Protection

But DRM isn't solely a digital technology. Just as Macrovision ruined a lot of great movie experiences in the 80's, the folks at Keurig managed to "control" their coffee pots. Keurig isn't a slick high-brow appliance crafter. They're a division of Green Mountain Coffee that took off and made their parent company a ton of money. Personally, I'm not fond of their coffee... or any coffee that comes out of a device that can't be properly cleaned. Yuck!

A less-publicized facet of the 2.0 brewer was a scanning system that would reject third party k-cups. I imagine this idea was to bolster sales of Keurig's own brands - which used to be a small regional brand - but instead it incited fury in their customer base. Dispensing coffee in those idiotic little cups has become an important commodity in the coffee business. So, who would thing that the Keurig folks would devise a special symbol on their coffee to allow it, alone, to brew?

Just like the annoyance of digital DRM on games, movies, and music, Keurig 2.0 brewers won't make a pot of "dat other guy's coffee". So, if you've been infuriated by a poor gaming experience due to DRM infusions, rest easy knowing that some folks can't even enjoy a cup of coffee for the same reason.

What a world! We think of DRM as an artist protecting his/her product from being stolen via copying. One could extend that to a branded coffee pot that only accepts the manufacturer's coffee, but it seems like a petty use of the DRM concept. I'm all for protecting artists who have created amazing works, but my old percolator makes a damn good cup of coffee.

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