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Xbox 360 Update Will Lock Out Unauthorized Storage 435

Posted by timothy
from the don't-embrace-this-time dept.
itwbennett writes "The other shoe has dropped on the upcoming preview program for the next Xbox 360 update and it's going to cost you. In a post on the Major Nelson blog, Xbox's Larry Hryb reveals that this next update will lock-out unauthorized storage devices. As blogger Peter Smith reminds us, 'the Xbox 360 comes in two (currently) SKUs, one with a hard drive, and one without. The drive-less Xbox 360 Arcade unit is cheap ($199) but to realistically use it, you'll need to buy a "Memory Unit" (basically a proprietary USB stick) or an Xbox hard drive.... A 512 MB Microsoft branded Memory Unit goes for $29.99 at BestBuy.com. A 2 GB third party Memory Unit from Datel goes for $39.99, and the Datel unit is expandable using microSD cards....If you bought the Datel and it's full of data, between now and the launch of the new update you're going to have to run out and buy 4 of the Microsoft units at $29.99 each, or more likely, pick up the $99.99 60GB Live Starter Pack for Xbox 360.'"
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Xbox 360 Update Will Lock Out Unauthorized Storage

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  • Or 120GB for $54.99 (Score:5, Interesting)

    by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn@@@gmail...com> on Monday October 19, 2009 @04:20PM (#29799411) Journal

    ... or more likely, pick up the $99.99 60GB Live Starter Pack for Xbox 360.

    Or (in an even more likely scenario if you're reading Slashdot) you will opt to do it yourself [pcworld.com] to get twice that storage for a little over half the cost [newegg.com]. This is, of course, assuming that locking out "unauthorized storage" does not also target in some crazy way locking out hard drives.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by biryokumaru (822262) *
      They could always just upgrade to a real [google.com] gaming system.
      • by sopssa (1498795) * <sopssa@email.com> on Monday October 19, 2009 @04:29PM (#29799555) Journal

        Exactly. Consoles have always been a locked down device versus the openness of PC. I dont know why people are surprised when this kind of stuff happens.

      • by Yvan256 (722131)

        Of course. Replace something from Microsoft by something from Microsoft.

        How clever of you. I guess.

        • You're right about the OS for gaming (but the less honest guys can probably find a pirated XP Corporate Edition).
          The hardware, however, is NOT controlled by Microsoft.
          My own PC is still mostly running Windows, but I fully expect that Microsoft will some day piss me off enough that Windows gets kicked from the HD. At that point I'll have to give up some games that don't (yet) run under WINE but otherwise I'll be fine. You don't have that sort of freedom with a console.

          • by nschubach (922175) on Monday October 19, 2009 @05:28PM (#29800415) Journal

            You're right about the OS for gaming (but the less honest guys can probably find a pirated XP Corporate Edition).

            That still doesn't solve the problem. You actually have to buy games on alternative OSes so that game developers target them more often. If you just pirate Windows, you are still enforcing the "Windows for Gaming Platform" because developers will continue to make games for Windows. Other people around the world will see this and continue to buy Windows, thus keeping the circle alive.

    • by sopssa (1498795) *

      Isn't that exactly what they're doing here? Locking out unauthorized storage.

      For that matter I dont know why anyone would buy the Arcade version. If you're already putting that kind of money for it, you might just put the little extra and get the version that has all the features. (and before someone starts ranting about "you shouldn't pay for extra features", look at it the other way around - the best version is the standard version, if you get anything below it you dont get all the features)

      • by Quiet_Desperation (858215) on Monday October 19, 2009 @04:30PM (#29799581)

        My four year old X360 died two months ago. Not a Red Ring Of Death, it went completely inert. No light at all. Swapping the power brick with a couple borrowed ones confirmed the unit failure. I had upgraded it to a 120G official MS hard drive a year ago.

        I bought the arcade unit because [1] I could just plug the old hard drive into it and [2] as far as I could determine it was the model with the latest, greatest chip set that had all known issues solved. Works great.

        • by ottothecow (600101) <ottothecow@@@gmail...com> on Monday October 19, 2009 @05:05PM (#29800085) Homepage
          [2] as far as I could determine it was the model with the latest, greatest chip set that had all known issues solved. Works great.

          I always thought one of the arguments for going console was that this was never going to be an issue?

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by Sancho (17056)

            He's referring to slight redesigns (and a smaller fab process) that makes the box run cooler and significantly reduces most of the RRoD failures. It still functions in the same way as the older devices.

            What you're referring to is not having to upgrade components, I think. A 360 is a 360 is a 360, and you don't have to check to make sure that yours has the right graphics card in order to know that a particular game will work on it. You need the right peripherals, of course, and if Project Natal takes off,

      • Isn't that exactly what they're doing here? Locking out unauthorized storage.

        I understand what you're saying but I do not know how they would do this. I'm not a hardware guy but what I do know of firmware is that if you're making this drive look like the correct corresponding WD1200BEV drive [ivancover.com] firmware-wise ... how will the XBox360 know the difference? I assume these firmware dumps are binary dumps from actual Microsoft licensed drives so while I'm not saying it's impossible, it would sure be impressive if they can pull that off. Because I imagine it would have to disable a lot of

        • by tftp (111690)

          making this drive look like the correct corresponding WD1200BEV drive firmware-wise ... how will the XBox360 know the difference?

          Take the serial number of the drive, sign it with Microsoft private key and put the signed text into the MBR or somewhere else where it will be not touched by the filesystem. Anyone with the Microsoft public key (and certainly any Xbox) can verify who signed the drive.

        • by oldmankdude (1196325) on Monday October 19, 2009 @05:18PM (#29800265)
          MS can identify the drives already by what they call HDD SS (security sector). If you rolled your own drive, you more than likely used somebody else's HDD SS (one that said your drive is 120GB). What we don't know is if MS is going to scan for them!
      • by GoochOwnsYou (1343661) on Monday October 19, 2009 @06:03PM (#29800873)
        I had a 20GB Pro and I upgraded to a 120GB not too long ago. I gave my 20GB to my best friend because she had an Arcade model.

        With that being said, I must give Sony and Nintendo credit, PS3 supports any USB storage or 2.5" SATA (I have 500GB) thats formatted in FAT32 (nobody's perfect) while Nintendo supports any model SD cards up to 32GB SDHC which is "good enough" for the Wii.

        I see this path going down the same way the controllers did

        History lesson: since 3rd party controllers have died out they have doubled in price or more(at least in Australia. Even as far as last gen a wireless Gamecube controller 3rd party was $AU30, regular Gamecube, Xbox and PS2 controllers were about the same price both official and 3rd party.

        Current prices:
        360 Controller $AU64
        Wiimote = $AU60, Nunchuck = $AU27, so for a usable control system thats $AU87 Dualshock 3 = $AU99

        Prices may vary depending how well you shop around but you get my point. They are all way above the origional $30 price point for an extra controller.

        I wonder if Microsoft are trying to plan the same fate for memory cards.
    • WHOA THERE COWBOY!!!
      Anyone considering this would do well to note that the product number of the drive you linked and the drive needed for this hack are NOT THE SAME and you will fail if you use the model that ends in BEVT. The BEVS version is no longer produced, hard to find, and has an inflated price as a result of this known procedure.

      • WHOA THERE COWBOY!!! Anyone considering this would do well to note that the product number of the drive you linked and the drive needed for this hack are NOT THE SAME and you will fail if you use the model that ends in BEVT. The BEVS version is no longer produced, hard to find, and has an inflated price as a result of this known procedure.

        That's really interesting considering the reviews (several) to the right of the Newegg BEVT product read:

        xbox 360

        white Reviewed By: Nick on 9/2/2009
        Rating + 5
        Tech Level Tech Level: high - Ownership: 1 week to 1 month
        This user purchased this item from Newegg

        Pros: Purchased this device to upgrade the capacity of my 360. I now have a 120GB 360 drive for a fraction the cost of a ms one.
        Cons: none
        Other Thoughts: You must be experienced with computers to use this drive for the 360. (Not just plug

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by CreamyG31337 (1084693)

          They ship with different brands of drives right now, western digital ones are the only ones that can currently have their firmware spoofed and security sector rewritten with an all-in-one tool (HddHackr). As of version 1.00 it supports:
          - WD Scorpio Series BEVS/BEAS
          - WD Scorpio Blue Series BEVS/BEVT
          - WD Scorpio Black Series BEKT/BJKT
          - WD VelociRaptor Series

          I just bought a BEKT so I can have a nice 7200 rpm drive assuming they aren't about

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by tjhayes (517162)

      This is, of course, assuming that locking out "unauthorized storage" does not also target in some crazy way locking out hard drives.

      You know the old saying about what happens when you ASSUME, right?

      Unless it's an official licensed XBOX device, by definition its an "unauthorized storage" device. Therefore these hard drives that you suggest buying from Newegg will also be locked out when this new update arrives.

      • And after you update the firmware on the new drive, the XBox will not be able to tell the difference. If the Xbox thinks you have an authorized Xbox hard drive, how is going to lock out the new drive? The whole reason it "knows" you have an unauthorized drive in the first place is because the firmware on the drive tells it so.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by sumdumass (711423)

        Isn't locking competitors out of the game sort of like Harley Davidson and their requirement to use only HD oil in order not to void the warranties of the new motorcycles? I believe they lost a lawsuit in the mid 1980's over that and ended up having to supply all warrantied locked purchasers with of their HD oil until they changes the warranty clause. I know MS isn't doing a warranty thing here bit the principle seems to be the same.

        Check out 2302 sections C of the Magnusson-Moss Act. [cornell.edu] I'm sort of thinking

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by drinkypoo (153816)

          Check out 2302 sections C of the Magnusson-Moss Act. I'm sort of thinking that altering the device to accept competitors devices should be completely legal and still maintain a warranty if the interfaces are the same.

          The act says that Microsoft can't deny you warranty protection. It doesn't say that they can't make the device refuse to take non-certified accessories. Sega v. Accolade says that it's legal for manufacturers of compatible devices to take necessary steps to make the console believe their devices are certified, and so on.

  • by pha7boy (1242512) on Monday October 19, 2009 @04:27PM (#29799517)
    just when the hackers were getting ready to focus their efforts on the iPhone and Apple, there you go again, throwing down the gauntlet. Are you that much of an attention hog?
  • Audacious. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Monday October 19, 2009 @04:33PM (#29799641) Journal
    I find Microsoft's willingness to squeeze for storage interesting in two respects: One, it suggests a very high level of optimism about their position in the market. Two, it suggests that they don't much care about, or aren't making much money from, downloadable offerings for the Xbox(or that they view those offerings as being extremely compelling and likely to drive consumer behavior).

    If they weren't confident of their position, and were actively trying to drive down the perceived cost of their product, storage would be a natural target. Just let people use bog-standard flash drives for game storage, and the market will continually release cheaper ones faster than any one company could even do design revisions. Same basic idea with basic HDDs. The fact that Microsoft isn't doing that suggests that they are very confident in their price point.

    As for downloads, if Microsoft were making good money on those, they would want users to have huge hard drives, rather than limping along on a nasty little 512meg card. Again, they don't seem to be thus motivated.
    • Re:Audacious. (Score:4, Insightful)

      by ILikeRed (141848) on Monday October 19, 2009 @04:45PM (#29799831) Journal
      Well stated, but I think when you also combine this news with the recent story that MSFT is looking to double the price of an XBOX Live subscription to $100/year or more [pcworld.com], then it paints a picture that MSFT is getting desperate to squeeze a profit out of their gaming devision for fear of losing the whole thing if they don't soon. Makes me really wonder about their financial picture in general that they seem to not be able to invest in this area with a long term growth vision anymore, even when they are currently losing to the Wii.
      • Re:Audacious. (Score:4, Interesting)

        by The Moof (859402) on Monday October 19, 2009 @05:09PM (#29800153)
        MS has never suggested anything like that, it's pure speculation from analysts. From your linked article:

        But that $50 price may double over the next few years, according to financial analysts. [...] "I doubt that MS would start raising the price of XBL, they have to compete against the PSN which is free and has all the same features. What ever you may think of MS they are not stupid," said another.

        I personally doubt MS will increase the cost given they keep adding marketing features to the dashboard. I think they're more likely to look for added revenue via paid marketing and other 'premium downloads' type marketing much like we're beginning to see (such as the the "avatar marketplace").

    • Re:Audacious. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by NeutronCowboy (896098) on Monday October 19, 2009 @04:50PM (#29799891)

      Indeed. A 512 MB card shouldn't cost more than $5 right now, while a 2G card should be under $20. They're nickel and diming their customers in the wrong places. If I could buy a nice 100 GB hard disk for $50, I would not only spring for that, but also download far more content - which in turn would drive up my perceived value of the system.

      Instead, I'm getting the impression that I'm being fleeced every time I want to do something useful. Maybe that PS3 isn't such a bad idea after all.

      • by dr00g911 (531736)

        Gotta love MS, always two steps behind when they crib their strategy from elsewhere (in this case the big box stores that love overpriced accessories).

        Marking the hell out of cheap commodity accessories stopped being [nytimes.com] a viable business [compusa.com] model a few years ago.

        Here's hoping that extended warranty scams and increased online competition force some sense into the big boxes at some point, but the writing's on the wall.

        Amazon's already trialing same-day shipping in major markets. Other etailers won't be far behind.

      • Re:Audacious. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 19, 2009 @05:48PM (#29800683)

        What they should be doing is selling storage for the inflated prices but including download credits for a good chunk of the purchase price of the storage. Charging $99.99 for the 60G product would seem more reasonable if it came with a ~$75 code that could be used to purchase downloads since it would lower the apparent cost of the physical object to $24.99 while not lowering MS's profit on the product by all that much.

        It would have the added benefit of getting people in the habit of purchasing downloads.

    • by bmajik (96670)

      [Disclaimer: I do not work for/near the xbox team or have any non-public knowledge about what they do or why they do it]

      I'd guess the issue is about control of the content and experience.

      Once you make it really easy for people to move data in and out of the "closed system" of the console and the playground of the PC, certain types of attacks become possible, and other types of attacks become much, much easier. You might rightly say that that horse has left the barn, but i think it's an issue of bar-setting

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Pollardito (781263)
      Making "good money" on an item is entirely relative. I'm sure they'd be perfectly happy to make more than they are by taking a bigger piece from this end too. It's just a question of when does gouging on storage costs cut too much into people's motivation for buying more storage, and apparently they've decided that this won't put them over that line. If anything the fact that they feel this won't hurt their download sales enough to be counterproductive must mean that they feel that people are really moti
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by debrain (29228)

      I agree wholeheartedly and have an anecdote to boot.

      I have an Xbox 360. I copied Mass Effect onto the Xbox 360 so that it would load and run faster. I then proceeded to 'rent' a movie (Troy) in HD. It took around 30 minutes to be able to get Xbox to accept one of my credit cards (incidentally no feedback was ever given as to why it was rejecting them). Finally, the Xbox accepted a credit card I rented the movie and it refused to download because I lacked space. So I started deleting all the "little" games a

    • Re:Audacious. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by DdJ (10790) on Monday October 19, 2009 @07:08PM (#29801589) Homepage Journal

      I find Microsoft's willingness to squeeze for storage interesting in two respects: One, it suggests a very high level of optimism about their position in the market. Two, it suggests that they don't much care about, or aren't making much money from, downloadable offerings for the Xbox(or that they view those offerings as being extremely compelling and likely to drive consumer behavior).

      See, I think the exact opposite.

      I think they see downloadable offerings as almost their entire future, and I think this activity is not centered around squeezing people for storage, but about maintaining control over storage options, to make sure every storage option has DRM support deep in their bones.

      Microsoft does want everyone to have humungous hard drives. They just want to make sure that those hard drives are theirs, so they can build DRM into the storage at multiple levels, to prevent piracy of the downloaded content. Otherwise the level of piracy might approach that on the PC, and, well, better to go out of business than to tolerate that.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by DavidTC (10147)

        If they want everyone to have humungous hard drives, why the hell aren't they providing them at some sort of reasonable cost? (Or at all!)

        It's shit like this that makes me unlikely to ever own a console. Yeah, I have to deal with all sorts of stupid hardware things in Windows.

        Like why the hell is Fallout 3's radio music stuttering? No, I've already googled it and found the reason, I just can't seem to fix the stupid problem...apparently, Vista's mp3 decoder is crap or something, and I'm sure there's a rea

  • Anti-competitive (Score:5, Insightful)

    by syousef (465911) on Monday October 19, 2009 @04:34PM (#29799661) Journal

    Locking out the competitor's product should be illegal. If you can't compete because your product is overpriced, you shouldn't be propped up. Yes that may mean that people have to pay the true cost of a console or printer or other device, as it isn't subsidised by content/ink etc. It's called honesty. Manufacturers should try it some time.

    • by Itninja (937614)
      Nothing is being 'locked out' without the customer consent. While you may own the box, they own the online service. If you don't want to be updated, don't connect to the online service. That's certainly not required if all you want to do is play with friends on the same console.
      • by syousef (465911)

        If you don't want to be updated, don't connect to the online service.

        Yep. I'll just go buy a console designed to be online where the best games require the online service, and then not connect to the service. Sounds reasonable to me.

  • Is this right? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by PeanutButterBreath (1224570) on Monday October 19, 2009 @04:35PM (#29799673)

    You can buy 60GB for $99 or "stick it to the man" by paying $29 for a 2GB third party device?

  • Unauthorized as in non-Microsoft or not Microsoft approved?

    If they lock out even 3rd party devices, aren't they jumping straight into "abusive monopoly" territory?

    • They may have a genuine excuse somewhere such as "oh we've had tons of customer complaints and service requests that we've resolved as being the problem of the unauthorized third-party device" or "we're changing the way this part of the xbox 260 works for compatibility or security reasons or to get some additional features into the firmware for newer games to use and many third-party memory devices don't work properly with the changes". Still it does seem like a way to get a lawsuit their way, unless maybe
      • by Yvan256 (722131)

        But still, that would mean disabling customer hardware that previously worked... It still smells like a class-action lawsuit to me.

    • by Ant P. (974313)

      This is the same Datel that Nintendo tried to pull this stunt with 16 or 17 years ago. As you can see, Datel won that one.

  • But Apple blocking the Pre from working with iTunes isn't bad?

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Penguinisto (415985)

      Point of Order: Apple blocked the Pre from falsifying its USB device address/ID to get that compatibility.

    • by fermion (181285)
      Apple is all about very limited support of hardware. There is not the level of expectation that your rock bottom priced device is going to work with Apple hardware. For instance, on Apple laptops, if the memory can be upgraded, the authorized upgrades cost up to twice as much as quality retail. I have had memory rejected on a desktop after a system update. I have had cameras that absolutely would not work with Apple hardware. Then there is the difficulty buying WiFi adaptors.

      While this situation is c

    • Apple isn't blocking the Pre from working with iTunes. Apple is blocking the Pre from working with iTunes by pretending it's an iPod. If Palm had used supported APIs (say, by letting you create a "Palm Pre" playlist and then reading the songs from that playlist to sync to the Pre) there wouldn't be a problem. Palm cheaped out to avoid having to write their own sync application (which is crazy, because they made the best handheld sync I've ever used) and used a hack instead.

      People expect publishers to lock o

  • PS3 (Score:2, Informative)

    by toastar (573882)
    I'd Like to point out that you can upgrade the PS3 Hard Drive, and still keep your warranty.
  • Misinformation (Score:3, Informative)

    by Samedi1971 (194079) on Monday October 19, 2009 @04:56PM (#29799971)

    The drive-less Xbox 360 Arcade unit is cheap ($199) but to realistically use it, you'll need to buy a "Memory Unit" (basically a proprietary USB stick) or an Xbox hard drive.... A 512 MB Microsoft branded Memory Unit goes for $29.99 at BestBuy.com.

    The current version of the Arcade comes with 512M internal memory, so throw this whole statement out the window.

  • by PhunkySchtuff (208108) <[kai] [at] [automatica.com.au]> on Monday October 19, 2009 @05:00PM (#29800011) Homepage

    This will kill them in the battle against the PS3. Sony make it so easy, for a start every PS3 comes with a hard drive, so games developers can assume that there is bulk persistent storage there and take advantage of it. You can also use USB mass storage devices. You can also upgrade the internal hard drive with undoing just a couple of screws, and it's all supported.

    Sony have an easy way for you to back up your PS3 to an external USB hard drive, you then insert any laptop hard drive (I went with a 7.2k one and some things are noticeably faster) and you then restore your system onto the new hard drive. All without paying Sony an extra cent.

  • by SlashBugs (1339813) on Monday October 19, 2009 @05:03PM (#29800055)
    This is something I've been wondering about for a while with devices that receive software updates. People base their purchasing decisions on the list of features announced for the devices, the payoff of what features you get against the price. Then, as part of an upgrade, the manufacturer deliberately cripples part of the device and removes some functionality. This removal of support for third-party storage is a good example, or Amazon pushing an "update" to remove the text-to-speech feature for many (all?) books.

    There are all sorts of arguments made about software because we're typically sold licences, not an actual copy of the software. But in cases like this, we've actually bought a physical object. It's now ours, not the manufacturer's. So do they really still have the legal right to reach out an remove features? They advertised a function, which it now doesn't have. It feels like a sort of retroactive false advertising. A lot of Xbox owners will now need to spend extra money simply to restore the original functions; if they'd known this was necessary before purchase they might only have been willing to buy the XBox at a correspondingly lower price, if at all. So as MS have changed their end of this bargain, surely their customers should have the right to change theirs? A partial refund (to represent a lower original price) or the option of a full refund both seem fair to me,

    I know people can, in principle, unplug their XBox to avoid accepting this update but then, again, they're losing the functionality that was originally advertised and that they originally paid for. Does this seem fair to anyone? Does it seem legal?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 19, 2009 @05:05PM (#29800083)

    This is the wave of the future with all devices.

    You don't need to upgrade it yourself, let Microsoft give you storage, for a "small monthly fee".

    Next will be, you don't need to "own" a PC, or software, rent it, for a couple of "small monthly fees"

    Let someone else manage your data, for a small monthly fee.
    Let someone else update your programs, for a small monthly fee.
    Let someone else manage the hardware, for a small monthly fee.

    You will pay your "small monthly fees" and you will get NO WARRANTY, NO FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE, NO RECOURSE, NO REFUNDS, and NO SECURITY.

    Most of the caps text is taken from the license agreement from most 'online only' software.

    Think it won't work? It already does.

    You don't "own" your cellphone, SIM card, or it's data. You simply rent it, for a "small monthly fee".

    Good luck selling any of it, getting a decent warranty, or being able to cancel your contract.

    Small Monthly Fees, get used to paying them , for everything.

  • Well... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by snkboarder (1364487) on Monday October 19, 2009 @05:06PM (#29800095)
    You all did it to yourselves. I tried to warn caution when Microsoft entered the console market, but all you people would do was hug them for Halo. They're like Wal-Mart, they move in, offer you low prices, then when the competition is smeared, they take you for everything you have. Maybe next time MegaCorp shows up and goes "I'll give you a good deal if your forsake the competition" you'll stop and go: "Hmmm...did this work out for me last time?"
  • It'll be a cold day in hell when I let them... Ummm. Did you say Xbox? Oh. I don't have one of those. Never mind. -- This is how most of the general public will respond.
  • by Dan667 (564390) on Monday October 19, 2009 @05:30PM (#29800439)
    With the huge failure rate (I read one time it was close to %54 red ring of death for the xbox), and the constant vendor lock-in feature removal I am glad I have stayed with the PC. I know quite a few others that have given up on consoles and gone back to the PC (although some of them were because the gaming on a PC was better)
  • Surprise! (Score:3, Funny)

    by Nekomusume (956306) on Monday October 19, 2009 @07:21PM (#29801735)

    We're still evil!

  • Here we go again (Score:3, Interesting)

    by keraneuology (760918) on Tuesday October 20, 2009 @03:39AM (#29804911) Journal
    See United States v IBM, 1936, USSC ruled that it was a violation of the Sherman Anti-Trust Act for IBM to require the use of IBM brand punch cards in their machines. Exact same thing here.

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