Category Archive


Selfie Related Injuries and Deaths – Why?

Elizabeth Marketing, Trending, Trends August 18, 2021


Dangerous selfies are becoming a distinct sort of rash. Situations that wouldn’t normally be dangerous become dangerous as soon as someone decides to open the camera app. It’s a very minor phenomenon, but it is a phenomenon nonetheless – Wikipedia has a list of selfie accidents and injuries which I’ll link here. Surely, common sense wins, right? These people surely aren’t any dumber than their ancestors, right? Why is this happening?

Social Media – and Reward Centers

Every social media app is designed to reward you for interacting with it. Humans are social creatures that like to feel accepted, and a social media app hijacks the part of the human brain that craves that acceptance. It’s also often easier to make mutuals on Twitter than it is to build a friendship IRL. Some people become dependent on social media to supplement the attention they desire from the outside world. Some want to see other people live crazy lives. Others still only watch out of hatred.

Either way, pictures and videos are the only way the subject can share their crazy, hot, rich life with outsiders on social media. Better pictures means more followers means more money from brand deals means more money to travel for better pictures. It’s a vicious cycle. There must always be more. You don’t even have to be an influencer in the traditional sense to fall into the cycle! Average people take stupid, risky pictures just so they can post them on social media and get that hit of reward.

The reward – the picture, and the approval of dozens or hundreds of people, clouds the risk – serious injury or death. Sometimes the adrenaline is exciting too. The psychology behind this behavior is actually not entirely the social media app’s fault, and people will put themselves into danger (that they would ordinarily recognize) even without the camera.


Redlining is a term that originally comes from diving, but can apply anywhere. While diving, you have on equipment rated for a certain depth. There are failsafes in place to make sure you can go a little further – most of the time, your tank isn’t going to implode just because you sank a foot further than you meant to while exploring a wreckage or a coral reef. But you shouldn’t stay there. Redlining affects all divers, amateurs to veterans, and it’s insidious – you see something juuust beyond your depth and think ‘I can go a little further’.

But once you’re past the red line, suddenly nothing is holding you back. The barrier was weak and only mattered as much as you cared about it – as you go deeper, you may feel uneasy that you’ve crossed the line, but you’re already below where you were supposed to be, and your equipment hasn’t failed, so… how bad can a little further be? And a little further beyond that? The danger doesn’t feel like it’s getting any greater now that you’re twenty feet below your redline, but it is – atmospheric pressure, which is directly responsible for how easily you can access the air in your tank, has increased by about 50% as you went from 40 feet to 60 feet.

The danger is increasing. But the brain is wired to assume that because nothing bad has happened yet, nothing will. The threat is ambiguous, indirect. No predator is threatening you. Nothing in your environment except for the environment itself could harm you. It is you and nature. Divers die each and every year from going just a little further, and then a little further…

Redlining psychology suggests to selfie-takers that nothing bad happened last time, so they can go a little deeper this time. Get a little more intense this time. Dangle off the side of a building, hold onto their phone through that rollercoaster’s turn because they did on the last ride, you get the picture. Nothing bad happened. Nothing bad will happen. Until it does!


Dubai banned a couple from accessing one of their many hotels when they took a photo of the guy holding her over the railing of the hotel, several stories above the ground. The only thing supporting her was his hand around her wrist. If one of them slipped their grip, she would have died. That’s not an exaggeration. She doesn’t have a harness. Videos are (or were) available of them getting into this position for the shot.

While researching for this article, I discovered a different couple had taken a selfie in front of a hotel that was burning. They weren’t in danger, it’s just sort of comical that very real emergency became a photo-op for tourists. Many complain that Dubai is very superficial – what a way to catch it on film.

High-stakes parkour has costed people their lives. Some parkour folks use harnesses the same way rock climbers do, but others… others don’t believe they’ll fall. So when they do, they fall all the way down. See this Russian parkour-er who got incredibly lucky that he slipped where he did. If he hadn’t caught those cables, or if those cables hadn’t supported his weight, he’d be dead. This is redlining in action. He’s done this before, clearly. He probably has experience on that roof. All of this makes it feel safer, like the ground is only a few stories away instead of 25. He got complacent.

Expensive Cars

Driving too fast is fun. It’s not safe, it’s not good for traffic, but it’s fun.

Driving becomes infinitely more dangerous when you’re holding a phone. Not just because one hand has to hold it – many of the people I see on social media doing this are constantly glancing over to their phone to make sure they’re still centered in the picture. The picture becomes more important than the road. Transportation-based selfie injuries on that Wikipedia list are often due to trains and subways – turns out live wires on top of the train can electrocute you instantly – but cars and bikes make up a fair amount too. There’s even a plane crash or two in there!

Even worse, car-based selfie deaths often take innocent bystanders with them – one woman on a bike was injured badly after a man taking a selfie in his car hit her from behind, while he escaped unscathed. Young influencers have accidentally spun out their rented sports cars after trying to record their route live.  That’s not to say drivers never die – a woman who removed her seatbelt to take a picture was killed after a crash rolled her car.


Yellowstone and other parks have to warn people that animals are not friendly. This isn’t necessarily the fault of selfie culture – animals are big, dangerous creatures, and if you live somewhere that doesn’t have any moose, you might underestimate how dangerous a moose is compared to, say, a bear. Popular media often makes animals seem gentle and passive, unless it’s sharks, bears, crocs, or other carnivores. Everyone knows bears are dangerous.

But moose are far more likely to escalate an incident than a bear is, and also deadlier to strike with a car. Deer can kick with enough force to kill dogs and tear muscle. Bison can weigh as much as a car, and can run over tourists just as effectively. It’s totally understandable that someone unfamiliar with those animals might want to take a selfie with it up close, which is why Yellowstone deliberately warns people not to do that. And yet – every year – people do. Classic redlining. “It’s not moving towards me, I’m probably far away enough – surely I can take a picture with this large animal behind me without ticking it off.” The answer was no! You couldn’t! Tourists may not recognize bison’s warning behaviors, so the risk was already underestimated, but the dangling reward of taking a picture with an animal only clouds it further.

Strangely, many of them seem to realize they’re supposed to pull a terrified face, according to Tom Stienstra (via an article on Washington Post) but don’t seem to understand why they should be making that face. The parasitic selfie has disconnected the fear center from the action center, so being scared is a joke for the image, not a real human emotion.

Long story short: many of these folks wouldn’t get into these situations if they weren’t aiming for a selfie. I’m sure teens would still try to climb on top of subway cars, and people are struck by trains plenty of times a year without their phone in-hand, but something about the selfie itself is hypnotic. It lures its followers into the jaws of death. Take the picture. Taaaaake it.


Why do Recipe Websites Give you an Essay Before the Recipe? Or, the ~Magic~ of Ads.


Cookbooks. They’re great. They don’t have to load their contents, and they usually contain tons of helpful technique information on top of recipes. But they can be expensive, and they don’t always have every recipe you want. So recipe-makers turned into recipe-bloggers. Over time, the content got longer, and longer, and longer… and more websites sprang up out of nowhere with recipes.

And are the essays at the top of the recipe really that annoying?

Longer Websites = More Engagement… With Ads


This is the root of the problem. Access to the website doesn’t cost money, but it’s not free. To provide the platform for this recipe, most recipe bloggers use ads. If everything fits onto one scroll-bar’s worth of page, then they only have room for one scroll-bar’s worth of ads. ‘What, so I have to scroll for two minutes because they want more money?’ doubters might say. Well, yeah.

Hosting a website costs money. That doesn’t even include the labor of producing the recipe, taking the photos, and ultimately, creating the content that makes the website tick. Hosting something that other people can anonymously comment on is brutal and often thankless. The essay system allows many websites to keep running even if they’re very small. Recipe bloggers are asking for your time in exchange for free access to a quality recipe, instead of money, like cookbooks would.

Surely, viewers are adaptable enough to understand that, right? Most people are reasonable enough to wait or scroll for content they value… right?

Unfortunately, the end consumer doesn’t know the quality of the recipe before they invest this effort to get to it. It might have five stars, but only produces two servings when four are needed, or it might have five stars, but all the comments noted that ‘it fell apart, but it would be great if it had eggs!’ So it is frustrating to wait for the ads to load, wait for the page text to load, sit there as the auto-play video buffers so you can close it before it makes noise, scroll down so the recipe itself loads, wait as the screen jerks around because the top bar ad still had to load… it feels agonizing to wait for something when Google made it seem so easy and just scraped the ingredients for the slug.

It’s even worse if you don’t know how long it will take for it to finish – unpredictable waiting times make consumers angry!


More Engagement = More Ad Revenue – No Matter the Quality


Try to assume the worst of the recipe blogger, for a second. Assume the story’s obviously made up, or irrelevant to the final recipe. Assume it’s poorly written, and the narrative style doesn’t capture your attention. You only notice this if you’re actually reading these things or if the website sucks so badly you can’t jump to the recipe. Both of these scenarios mean you’re interacting with the site. The motivation to make the site better and shorter is merely “pleasant feelings from consumers”, but the motivation to keep it as-is would be ad money. If it’s what’s called a ‘click-farm’, then they don’t even care about consumer feelings. Click-farms don’t care about anything but views, they don’t care how many users hate the site, they avoid optimizing on purpose because you stay longer.

You’re more likely to click an ad, accidentally or not, if the website’s laggy, jumpy, or slow. You blame your frustration on that essay, because it’s the only thing you can still see when the site’s lagging, and it’s all totally pointless to you. (My conspiracy theory is that those auto-play videos aren’t meant to actually play a video, they’re there to slow you down. I have no proof of this. Don’t quote me.)

Bad recipe websites make users less tolerant of the ones that don’t make users suffer like this. And it’s not about the essay, it’s about formatting!

Determining a recipe’s worth has become harder because of this essay/ad space system, and frustration caused by poorly optimized websites is now transferred to the website’s format, which is a different thing entirely. Furthermore, click-farm websites exploiting the format get mixed in with the real sites ran by real people, but the end user can’t tell which is which. Recipe websites didn’t used to be like this, and many still remember the good old days. In fact, the good old days are still here, but because so many people are using mobile phones instead of desktop, this essay issue feels more prevalent than it actually is.


You’ll probably stay unless the website is atrocious – and they know that


I don’t find myself often visiting the same site twice; when I’m looking for a recipe, I usually already know what I want to make, and I’m just looking for a recipe to facilitate that. I, like many people, don’t follow these recipe blogs for ideas. There’re so many websites following the same format that they’re all more or less interchangeable. So it would make sense for a good website to try and outcompete the others by optimizing better, right?

That’s the trick, that website has to show up in the results first for that strategy to be effective. But if they’re new (and if they’re one of the millions of sites with a blueberry muffin recipe) they’ll get sorted to the bottom, and the top sites all follow the winning format because the winning format can pay for their ads. The newbies then have to optimize for the limited number of visitors to their website, which – you guessed it – means following the winning strategy. Increased funding means they can now pay for advertising campaigns, and now they’re one of the horde.

Besides, If I click on a website and realize it’s terrible, I’m still going to wait for it to finish loading. I don’t know if the other websites with similar recipes are going to have the same loading time, so I’m not saving any time if I risk it and find out the second result from the top is also poorly optimized. They’re all playing chicken, and they know that aside from standouts like Allrecipes and other crowd-sourced sites, you really don’t have another option. You won’t leave unless the website’s truly, truly horrible.


Personality books and TV – Hope


This whole event is so frustrating that cookbooks have come back into fashion, but with online personalities instead of TV ones. Binging with Babish, Sohla El-Waylly, Claire Saffitz – you might not know these people, but they have a big enough following on Youtube to create and sell their own recipe books.

I know these names because they got big – and because they broke through the format that haunts these smaller recipe bloggers. Therefore, I don’t worry that Babish’s website is going to suck because I enjoy his content, and I know the quality is going to be there. I know Sohla is an expert in her field, and I know the recipes she films have worked for me in the past, so I know the cookbook’s going to be decent at minimum. I don’t know that for these recipe bloggers. I’m interested in what Claire has to say about technique, because she went to school for it, and she tells her viewers where these techniques came from. Recipe bloggers screw up techniques (or oversimplify them) all the time, so trusting one feels more dangerous than it should feel.






The World of Crypto Scams

Elizabeth History, Trending July 12, 2021

Yep – it’s mainstream now.

What is Cryptocurrency?

A cryptocurrency is a digital currency protected by cryptography. Just like physical currency, the digital coin is representative of a certain amount of value – you own a Bitcoin, you have the equivalent of 36,000 USD. You own an Ethereum coin, you have the equivalent of about 2,500 USD.

Cryptocurrencies come with blockchains, which act as a sort of ledger for the transactions. The blockchains verify that transactions happened at the time and date the computers say it did. Each block in the chain contains the transaction’s identifying information (such as time, date, and hash) as well as identifying information for the block before it. Each block added to the end of the chain therefore reinforces the one before it, making data alterations nigh impossible.

The decentralized nature of the ledgers means that even if someone was to mess with the blockchain to steal a coin, it could be proven invalid almost immediately by others who have copies. Therefore, transactions are secure and un-duplicable, even with no central authority monitoring transactions for the users. Coins also can’t appear out of thin air under this system! You can’t spend a dollar twice in the real world, and with blockchain, you can’t do it digitally either! Bitcoin in particular rewards users for solving the blockchain and verifying the transactions on it are all complete and legit, although that takes an awful lot of computer power due to the math involved.

Cryptocurrency removes the third party, the bank, from transactions, allowing users to pass money to each other directly. No centralized authority needed! As long as the people using it agree that it has a certain value equal to something else (the way dollars used to be equal to a certain amount of gold, for example) the cryptocurrency will continue to function.

Unfortunately, no third party means no third-party protections, either. Money faces issues with valuation too, as inflation and deflation can wreak havoc on an economy, but the government will generally step in to prevent it from getting too out of control. The same isn’t true for decentralized crypto! If a big coin fluctuates, it generally fluctuates hard. Where the US dollar has stops in place, crypto doesn’t. Investing in crypto, therefore, is much more of a gamble than investing in bonds or stocks. It’s another form of currency speculation. The risks are great, but the rewards are great too.

The OG

Bitcoin was one of the first if not the first. It was created anonymously to avoid using third parties for international transactions online, which almost always came with long wait times and excessive fees. People used it for a number of things, but an unintended side effect of that ‘no third party’ thing from before is that Bitcoin was effectively untaxable and very difficult to track. As a result, it came to be associated with drug trades and other shady deals.  Don’t want anyone to know that your ‘gift’ package is actually mushroom spores? Does the seller not want to reveal where they live? Complete the transaction with Bitcoin, and nobody can watch the money change hands. The market needed a solid-but-untraceable currency, and BitCoin filled this niche.

Bitcoin exploded in value in the late 2010’s. People who owned Bitcoin were made millionaires overnight as 20$ turned into 20,000$. Ever since then, Bitcoin has been a looming presence in the online finance world – it’s effectively the shadow money from John Wick, but harder to forge.

The Second Gen

A cryptocurrency known as DogeCoin hit the news for making it to 50 cents a coin, from below one cent a few years ago. It’s really a special kind of coin: it launched as a joke after BitCoin made it big, it’s based off of an ancient meme, it’s not particularly well-backed… but it’s still there, and its age gives it a lot of clout and distribution. People in support of it call it ‘The People’s Coin’. It was much more accessible than Bitcoin due to its joke-based nature, and it was already public – it wasn’t shady to buy some as a joke.

The founder had a Twitter account before that was taken for granted. Its ownership isn’t perfectly distributed, but it’s much more diversified than any new coin could hope to be. This is important: where new coins are hitting the same value as DogeCoin, they aren’t nearly as stable because ownership is concentrated. Forget the spike, Dogecoin was within a few tenths of a cent of its average price for months beforehand. That’s incredible! DogeCoin was cheap, but it was well-known and decently solid, and word-of-mouth on its subreddit kept it stable until the spike. Smaller coins that don’t build a community around their use have no chance of achieving that.

The New Guys

Computers are better than they ever have been. The kind of computer needed to make a cryptocurrency is within reach for moderately wealthy people. However, now that the tech is available, everyone wants to make a coin. More specifically, they want to make money off of making a coin. The question is: how do they want to do that? Do they actually want to make currency, with what that entails? Could they want to make a safe, secure, and reliable coin that anybody could use, like BitCoin did? Do they want to make the coin as a ‘joke’ and accidentally stumble into wealth, like Dogecoin did? Or do they want to get a lot of money invested in their product very quickly, without much effort on their part, and then dump their own stock and leave with said money?

“Pump’n’Dump” Schemes

Demand = higher prices. The more demand there is for any one kind of coin, the better the price gets. BitCoin’s head start means that a single coin is worth tens of thousands (as of this article, July of 2021), because it’s widely accepted, widely trusted, and well-known, so it’s widely demanded as well.

Other big ones include Etherium and Maker, which are a couple thousand per coin each. These are also reliable, distributed coins that started early. For every success story, though, there are dozens of failures where people didn’t invest. DogeCoin could have been considered a failure a couple of years ago – the guy never got the value very high until recently, even though the concept was well loved.

How does someone make money off of a phenomenon that strikes like lightning? Spikes are completely unpredictable, even to experts. The answer is easy: some crypto makers simply make their own spikes! They pump their coin, and then dump their coin!

Steps to “Get Rich”

Step 1) Make a coin. Name it something catchy and/or stupid, or riff on another coin’s name to create bad-faith confusion. Hold a lot of it.

Step 2) Get people to buy it. Play off the name, pay celebrities, do whatever you can to hype this coin. Meme off it. Get people to buy it, even if it’s just as a joke.

Step 3) Wait until your coins are worth something. Dump them for cash. (This destroys the coin’s value).

Step 4) Disappear with the money while everyone is upset. They either quit and dump their coins themselves, crushing value, or stick around and watch as their coins become worthless.

As soon as the top of the pyramid dumps their coins, it becomes a race to the bottom for everyone else. After all, without the creators advertising it, hyping it, and otherwise managing it themselves, where is any new value going to come from? The users? If they stick around to bring it back up, users are going to bail the second they’ve made more than they put in, because the coin has destroyed their trust in it, and it will flatten out that way. There’s no way back up without top-down support. Everyone who didn’t get out in time loses their money.

Just the Actual Worst

Celebrities are being paid to endorse this. Soulja Boy tweeted out that he was interested in a coin only to realize a few minutes later that he’d also copy/pasted the instructions for tweeting, making it obvious that he’d been solicited to tweet about it. Soulja Boy also famously tried to release his own line of gaming consoles before being issued a cease and desist by Nintendo. Other notable crypto advertisers include various streamers and an adult actress or two, not people you’d expect to give financial advice.

What’s the common thread? These are the people the crypto makers hope they can get because their first picks – actual celebrities, trustworthy streamers, and financial experts – won’t take their deal. In fact, some of these people actively rally against the Neo-Crypto cause. You’d take advice from someone with a PhD in finance, and you might take advice from someone you’ve been watching on Twitch for years, but anyone else? Not unless they’re a big fan.

Youtuber Cody Ko points out that these people are mainly defrauding their own fans if the coin goes belly-up. What’s the plan then? That the fans just won’t hold this streamer/star/influencer accountable? As he says, repeating over and over that “You should buy this! It’s definitely trustworthy and suuuuper stable!” for pages, but only saying “This is not financial advice” every 6th tweet is not sufficient warning.

A fan is not especially stupid or wrong for looking up to their favorite streamer and buying coins based off of their ‘not-advice’ – they’re a fan. Of course a fan is going to listen to a streamer or role model, that’s why companies sponsor entertainers in the first place. These public personalities know that, and they’re either taking advantage of their unearned financial credibility, or deliberately ignoring everyone telling them it’s a bad idea. If these coin-hypers were really intent on their fans’ best interests, they’d clarify the risk, but they don’t. The danger of over-investing in a volatile product is being heavily downplayed to funnel more money into the coin. Everybody but the fan stands to gain from the fan’s ‘investment’, so they’re being incentivized to over-hype.

Digital currency is a powerful tool – it’s just a shame that it’s being treated like an investment instead of what it’s supposed to be, decentralized currency.


Crypto Casey, via Youtube (

Cody Ko, via Youtube (

Bitcoin’s dip is Affecting GPU Prices

Cryptocurrency affects the price of hardware IRL now. There’s an entire legion of computers that spend their whole lives solving hashes and producing rewards for their owners. So when the reward crashes a little, the market reacts strangely. Some people buy, because BitCoins always bounce back, and some people sell, because BitCoins might not this time. On top of that, China has re-banned parts of trading!


BitCoin Crash


BitCoin has nearly halved in value over the past few months. The ‘why’ is everything from a general decline in the stock market to celebrities tweeting about BitCoin’s fall, to other cryptocurrencies establishing themselves on the market. It’s truly wild how many different things come into play for an untethered resource’s price, but Bitcoin enthusiasts remain as optimistic as ever that BitCoin will return, and better than ever. It did in the 2010s. It did after the first crash. Surely it will this time, too!

Like I said, many things, some material, some not, affect Bitcoin’s price. As such, many businesses and countries are becoming increasingly skeptical of it. Receiving a few % of a Bitcoin for 700$ of repairs, only to have it drop to 300$? Too bad! The business is forced to ride waves of inflation and deflation until they can use those coins at their desired value or trade them for real money. This will eventually stabilize the price, but until then, the leaps and drops are bad for businesses. Imagine getting a cash payment, only to have to hold onto it until it’s worth recovers enough for you to deposit it in savings, or use it elsewhere – your business operations could come to a halt while you wait for your liquid cash to replenish itself. Bartering would be safer at that point.

The government sees many issues with this system, and understandably a country like China can’t afford to have business owners upset in a time of serious unrest. Plus, taxes! Bitcoin was created primarily to avoid third parties, and no third parties = difficult-to-collect taxes.


Confounding Factors


The epicenter of the cheapening GPUs is China, although Europe is also seeing some major dips in the reseller’s market. But why? China’s partial ban on trading or accepting BitCoin has put a serious damper on consumers’ desire to mine for it. It’s not illegal to own Bitcoin, but when transactions to convert that Bitcoin to ‘real money’ are stifled, what’s the point? They have no promise of when or if the Chinese government will lift their restrictions.

Aside from what officials call ‘speculation risk’, which is what I’ve described in the section above this one, certain regions of China are trying to limit energy consumption, and BitCoin’s heavy consumption makes it an easy target. Mining BitCoins has a lot of complicated math involved, and it’s math that has to be done fast. Only the first person to solve the transaction gets any reward, so it’s a constant race to make the computer better and faster. Better computers eat more energy. GPUs, the common bottleneck part, got siphoned up by BitCoin miners everywhere.

Now, China has fewer BitCoin miners looking to upgrade immediately, but BitCoin’s low price is also convincing some of the folks in other countries that upgrades can wait a bit. Europe’s slowly improving prices are a good sign – maybe the US will finally get some GPUs in! Right?


The Market


Turns out, demand doesn’t always behave as expected! Official reports say that the prices of Graphics Cards are falling, when many people have also noticed the prices going up even on ‘ancient’ and less powerful cards on eBay. Is it just a failure of the buyer/seller market to catch on to the news? Is it a sign of an incoming rebound? Or could it be because the shortage in the US hasn’t actually been resolved in spite of less demand from overseas? With international shipping in such disarray, a dip in China and Europe doesn’t have to mean a dip in the US!

As for the future, who knows? Cards might go down. They might also go up. GPUs are expensive to make and buy ordinarily, and given perfect conditions, a new one could still be worth a thousand-plus dollars. It’s difficult to say what exactly waits for the gamers and workers waiting for the GPUs to come down in price, although market watchers like Tom’s Guide can establish patterns based on the past.

Will BitCoin go back up? It’s very hard to tell given the nature of a cryptocurrency and what we’ve seen from it so far. Sometimes a coin drops and crashes so hard it may as well have died – BitCoin once had a dip so severe people doubted it would ever come back up, down to the high four digits. Is this downwards trend permanent? Will China’s ban influence the end results? I have no idea! Experts in similar fields can’t tell either, crypto is a wild, wild West compared to stocks. What they do say is generally along the lines of ‘we can’t tell, but it could dip very badly’.  It’s akin to gambling.

If it does recover, European cards will almost certainly follow, although the depressed prices in China likely won’t until restrictions are lifted. American cards, having shown no sign of going down in price despite a clear dip in Bitcoin values, may not be as tied to crypto-mining as they formerly were, so BitCoin’s movement may have no impact. America is a big country with a lot of people in it, so ordinary demand for the currently out-of-stock GPUs may be holding prices high all by itself.





Preventing Piracy Is Hard

It’s frustrating to have someone else steal your work. That’s why piracy is one of the biggest scourges of entertainment today. Yet bootlegs and copyright infringement still happen, and sometimes undetectably. So, if the person pirating is outside your legal reach, how do you keep them from enjoying your work for free?

Create anti-piracy measures, of course.

Tainting the Well

Cher briefly released songs on LimeWire that played very quietly, in an effort to get the listener to jack up their volume. After a little bit, she’d shout at you to stop stealing at the normal volume band – which was now at max volume. This didn’t last very long, because downloads had names on the site, but there was no limit to what artists would do to keep their intellectual property in their own hands. Ironically, the worst LimeWire users themselves were more likely to protect property than the artists! Trolls would put some strange things on otherwise normal tracks, and some people would rather go to iTunes than play download lottery. They tainted the well themselves.


People tend to be more embarrassed that they got caught with their hand in the cookie jar than they are about the pirating itself. Asking about the bizarre version of the song you downloaded would out you as a pirate. And music wasn’t the only industry to do this.

In fact, a whole bunch of games would give strange errors or messages to get pirates to ask about it online. Of course, the pirates are the only ones who got these messages, so creators and other fans alike knew they’d pirated the software.  That was the punishment: everybody on the game’s Steam page knew you were a pirate! They then either self-exile or double down on the pirating.

Anti-Piracy software

Games have great examples of anti-piracy in action. Piracy detection used to be pretty hard – all it took was a blank disc and a PC that already had the game on it in the early days. Games would use physical wheels or artifacts on the inside of the game’s packaging to be sure you had a legit copy. Then, as computers got better and games could take up more space, programmed anti-piracy kicked into a higher gear. Anything and everything went – it was the pirate’s problem if they didn’t like it. Earthbound, a game that was already difficult, would crash at the final screen and then delete all your save data. So would Spyro, although Spyro would warn you that it thought you were playing a bootleg copy before you got to the end.

The goal was to frustrate the pirate, which would eventually prevent piracy in its own way. Some developers went to guilt, instead: Alan Wake just slaps an eyepatch with the Jolly Roger on your character to remind you that you’re playing a pirated copy and you should feel bad.

Business Software License Checks

There are many obvious downsides to pirating something like Excel. Namely, if something goes wrong, what are you going to do? Contact the vendor? With your illegitimate copy? Good luck with that. It doesn’t help that Microsoft runs audits, too – if they detect a license or a product key not in line with what they’re expecting, they’ll know you’re pirating. If another copy of Word tries to interact with an illegitimate copy, they’ll know you’re pirating. Basically, if you’re ever connected to the internet with a cracked copy of Office software, they’ll know. There are so many free alternatives that pirating Word seems foolish.

Microsoft is doing it for more than the money, too. There’s a growing host of people online who would just love to scam some businesses into downloading malicious software, alongside illegitimate copies of Word. Assuming the business owner genuinely believes they’re getting real copies of Office, Microsoft’s good name is tainted!

CAP Software

Pirating early-release discs destroys faith in reviewers. However, early reviewers are also giving you a lot of free advertisement, so it wouldn’t be very smart financially to just cut them all off. Instead, what they use is CAP software, which stores a code in the file. If the file is leaked or copied, the code is present, and the studio knows exactly which reviewer to cut off. Versions of this using tones mixed into the audio of the movie and visual watermarks are also common! Everyone benefits: the studio still gets it’s promotion, the reviewer gets to review the movie, and the viewer gets some early information about what they want to watch, legitimately. The pirate is slapped with a fine and everyone moves on.