Archive for February, 2003


Casting off the shackles

Sunday, February 23rd, 2003

Poor Tim has been grappling with the fucknuts at Network Solutions. I’d laugh, but it’s a domain I share with him.

Further to my XP trial recently, I’ve decided to ditch Microsoft altogether for my new primary workstation. I went out to my neighbourhood Staples store this weekend and bought Mandrake Linux Power Pack 9.0. Just $79.99 Canadian for 7 CDs packed with Mandrake plus all sorts of commercial and open source applications. I’ve got it up and running very smoothly indeed. There will be a couple of things I’ll have to either run on my old machine or set up to work with Wine, but I think it’s gonna be a good experience – certainly not one for the faint of heart or those lacking in nerdiness, but I’m the poster-boy for such things, so no problem here.


Eh-oh, Windows! Eh-oh, Po!

Thursday, February 20th, 2003

I finally gave XP a try on my new machine.

The bold primary colours, the fonts and pictures, the icons and widgets that look like alphabet blocks, the condescending tone of the prompts, the wizards that assume you’re an imbecile, the Teletubby landscape background, the automatic password-free signon, the invitation to hold on to the MSN rope so you don’t get lost – it’s a FUCKING KINDERGARTEN.

Yes, I know it’s essentially Win2k underneath, if you can dig through all the sugar and crap to get to it. And even then, I’d never be quite sure that some handholding automaton isn’t going to come along and readjust my environment “for my comfort and convenience” after I’ve set things up Just So.

That partition only lasted 35 minutes. Buh-bye Tinkywinky. Buh-bye Po. Good morning Windows 2000, thanks for not trying to wipe my ass for me.


In order to Serve You Better, we’re going to invade Iraq

Wednesday, February 12th, 2003

The US’s War On Dissenting Opinion continues unabated on any number of fronts. There’s no sense voicing any sort of contrary position or encouraging meaningful discussion; their course was decided long ago.

Albert Delgado commented on a previous blog post by quoting Herman Goering from the Nuremberg trials:

“Of course the people don’t want war. But after all, it’s the leaders of the country who determine the policy, and it’s always a simple matter to drag the people along whether it’s a democracy, a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism, and exposing the country to greater danger.”

It’s not so much that I disagree with the end result they’re looking to achieve. I’m mostly insulted by their ridiculous diplomatic sleight-of-hand meant to fabricate premises for action and draw our attention away from the real core agendas driving their actions.

Please, give me credit for understanding and supporting a long-term strategy of protecting oil resources from control by irrational interests, or of nipping a potential nuclear terrorism or cancerous fundamentalism problem in the bud before it ever has a chance to take hold. Just don’t feed me prevarication and spin.

It reminds me of all the bullshit store signs I’ve ever seen that start with “In order to serve you better”, or “For your protection and safety”. You absolutely know what follows is going to be something that reduces your choices, infringes on your rights, or costs you money. I’d rather they told me up front that they really mean “In order to reduce shoplifting”, or “To keep our insurance costs down” and allow that I might have the sense to see that that will be to my longterm benefit to go along with it.


JS Object Inheritance

Monday, February 10th, 2003

Kevin Lindsey has a great Javascript Object Inheritance tutorial [via Eric Costello]


Misplaced donations

Monday, February 10th, 2003

Chris Pirillo’s setting up a paypal fund for Doc who it seems got his (ouch – unbacked-up) laptop stolen from a downtown-parked car.

Same thing happened when lost his camera some time back.

Didn’t someone come up with a new AirPort Base Station for him when he left his at a conference?

Now, don’t get me wrong. Doc is a major stand-up guy, and he’s not digging for these handouts – others offer them up freely. But why do you and I waste dough on insurance?

Hey, Chris! Whaddya know, I happened to leave my new uninsured 17″ Powerbook on a city bus. Gosh, whatever will I do?


Clue-free zone

Monday, February 10th, 2003

I’m trying to find where I can get a Canadian price for Funk Software’s Steel-Belted Radius authentication server software. There’s no “Where to Buy” link on their site. The closest I can get is the reseller area of their site, where they say:

Funk Software actively encourages fulfillment of our products through the reseller channel.

Geez, what a load of tripe. What’s wrong with “We don’t sell directly to the public – contact one of our resellers”.

Then they say:

In this area of the site, you’ll find a list of our authorized distributors, how to contact them, and how to order.

Ain’t no such list. Or if there is, it’s FAR from obvious where it is. Finally, after going through their Site Map, I reach their reseller search form. It returns me the names and phone numbers of resellers in my area. No web links – I have to find them myself.

These guys need to read Steve Krug’s Don’t Make Me Think book.

Do they really want me to buy their product, or are they only interested in business from the resellers and are relying on them to sell it? Those distinctions mean nothing to the consumer. Nonexistent customer relations from the manufacturer will turn end users off just as quickly.


What’s so different about Music and Film

Tuesday, February 4th, 2003

Patrick Murphy recalls some lessons in economics:

Classic public goods display two characteristics:

1) Inexhaustible – Non-rival in consumption; i.e. my consumption doesn’t reduce others’ consumption.

2) Non-excludable – Difficult (costly) or impossible to exclude non-payers from consuming.

This definition has not been applicable to intellectual property — until recently.

He offers “Light from a Lighthouse” as an analog to the difficulty that copyright holders have in controlling the use of their works.

Light from a lighthouse, though, is received passively. It does not require an act of “taking”. Downloading files requires action on the part of the recipient. It requires intent. Once the lighthouse is turned off, you can’t go home and light up your back yard with it at your own leisure.

It’s not as though the copyright owner wants you not to have her work. It’s on the radio for all to hear. It’s played in concert. It’s in a movie. She released it for the express purpose of having as many people as possible hear it as often as possible.

Not all publishing industries are facing the same challenges – or at least their reactions are different.

Why is it that art and photography, while just as copyable and distributable as music, doesn’t have the same problems? Why is there not a print publishing industry wooing and pressuring congress to outlaw high speed quality laser and inkjet printers and to require printers to report our social security numbers back to them before printing each page? Why is the industry association not urging universities to storm dorm rooms looking on hard drives for scanned pages of textbooks? Why is nobody trying to fill the “personal darkroom” analog hole and call for a levy on all paper and ink to compensate authors for the piracy of their works?

Let’s all analyse this deeper and try to understand what it is about the music and film industries that makes them different.

Is it that the other media are harder or more expensive to replicate faithfully but that technology has evolved to Music and Film’s detriment? What’s next on the technology timeline? When holographic concerts become widely available, live performance won’t even be exclusive. What can we look back at that was once easy to control but now is so freely usable without permission that the industries surrounding it have crumbled?

No answers today, just more questions.


Redressing the imbalance of power

Tuesday, February 4th, 2003

Doc Searls comments on my recent piece on Exclusivity and Ownership and quotes Ernie the Attorney talking about the media industry’s long history of greed-based maneuvering.

A good start against these sorts of abuses of financial (and therefore political) power would be legislation like the proposed Canadian laws limiting political contributions.