Archive for November, 2008

Copyright as Respect – Pfft!

I can still remember the way it made me feel sick in the stomach.  It was the first time I heard the “copyright-as-respect” meme.  It was at first Unlocking IP Conference at UNSW in 2004.   I was on a panel talking about something-or-other copyright.  During questions from the floor, one of the delegates related a story about how their 8 year old daughter had invoked copyright in scolding their six year old sister for copying a dance she was doing.  The questioner remarked that it was a good thing that perceptions of copyright had filtered into the community that far.  As I mentioned, to me this principle – that a young child ought not be entitled as of right to learn from her sister though imitation – was so perverted as to make me feel ill, physically.   Not so much because it was self-evidently stupid, but because it presaged the dark world of the future that copyright ideologues would push on society given half a chance.

Not so the representative from the copyright lobby.  No, in their view it was all about respect, respect for the creator of the work and blah blah blah.  [I was tempted to respond but I couldn’t find any way of expressing myself which wouldn’t end up as a personal attack, so I held my tongue]

As far as I can tell, the “copyright-as-respect” meme is the one used when a copyright totalitarian is in hostile territory (note the title of the conference).  I don’t recall ever hearing the meme, for example, in the parliamentary inquiries I’ve been to with copyright ideologues from time to time (happy to be corrected).   Of course, running one argument in one circumstance and another in another with a view to pursuing your own advantage is being less than full and frank.   At the least, it is not being very respectful to your audience.

I don’t know any parent who tells their children it is wrong to share, especially with their siblings.  Do you?

Creeps watching you in the Cinemas

Apparently there are now proposals for ushers to be paid to spy on people in cinemas

He would not name the movies, citing ongoing investigations, but said that, for a number of years, movie studios had been adding “unique forensic markers” to film prints distributed to theatres, allowing them to trace any leaks back to a specific location.

For Australia’s release, financial rewards of $200 will be provided to cinema staff for catching pirates, who will be ushered out of the cinema or referred to police, depending on the seriousness of their offence.

But Gane said the industry was not only looking for the commercial pirates who sell their illegal camcorder recordings on DVD. Even those filming short clips as a keepsake on their mobile phones would be targeted.

Is the thought of being spied on while you’re watching a movie creepy enough to just not go?  If you brought your own scope in and did this do you think you’d be arrested?

Fight Back with Page Style -> No Style

It seems almost every day someone somewhere comes up with another completely beautiful, but also completely unreadable, style for their web page (these usually involve at least one tiny font or poorly contrasting colour scheme).  The simply solution (if you are running FF) is View-> Page Style -> No Style and you will be returned to pre-page-style-Internet Bliss.  How pleasant to have black writing on a white background and a decent size font.

Now I need to remember to put a request in to add this as a button to the FF toolbar…

PS: this, and print selection also allows to print some pages which otherwise don’t print properly

PPS: for printing problems (style prevents proper printing of the page) try also FF print to file – pdf, then print the pdf.

Mac Users Reap Consequences of Preferring Design over Freedom

Everyone agrees that Apple leads the field in industrial design of its products (and their interfaces).  Despite Steve Jobs criticising DRM, Mac users are now reaping the benefits of the exaltation of design over freedom, with video outputs on their hardware being DRM infected at source.

Dimmable Fluorescent Lights Aren’t Really

Just installed a (AU$20!) dimmable fluoro bulb in my room and have been testing it.  While incandescents will dim from full to just about nothing this fluoro dims to maybe 50%, thereafter it flashes like a strobe light! So it is presumably generating a sufficent charge to discharge based on the incoming current.  Even when I think I’ve dimmed it down to zero it flashes (once every minute or so).  Dimming to 50% isn’t really much use IMO.

EY Use Closed Media to Tout Szulik Award

Ernst and Young have awarded the US Entrepreneur of the Year Award to Matthew Szulik of Red Hat fame.  They then podcast his acceptance speech using Windows Media Player or Real Player video – formats which by default cannot be played on free systems (I don’t have a current version of Red Hat installed to verify, but I assume this should mean Red Hat).  I can’t get the video to play, so I’m assuming they’re using a closed codec, but would be happy be corrected.

Aside: Given that they tout Szulik and open source in their award, their “Thought Center” seems not to have put much thought into the future:

“Note: the webcast technology is not compatible with the browser you are using [ie FF3 on Linux]. Use Internet Explorer version 5 or later.”

I wonder whether anyone at E&Y has any sense of irony.

Mapping Bike Paths on Google Maps :’-(

Google Maps seems ok for mapping driving routes, but if you are riding a bike you are stuck to mapping based on roads, whether or not there is a bike path which provides a more direct route.  :(

Equally, it seems, people mapping a walking path also cannot use more direct footpaths to map their route… (apparently the walking paths are in beta.  eg – They catch the ability to walk over Dobroyd parade in Haberfield, but not that you can cross Hawthorne Canal near Cafe Bones)

Spot the Spello at SMH

Ever since Fairfax press decided to lay off workers a month or two ago every edition of the SMH has been a game of spot the spello (despite what they said about not affecting standards).   I wonder where today’s will be.

Today’s (14/11) is here:

Watchmaker uses spare parts from space

“which range in price from around $A9004 to $A643,000 francs.”

17/11 @9:30: Half of home page is in italics (fixed by midday)

10/12 @9ish: “School building deliberatley set on fire” ( updated at 14:30 to “School building deliberatley set on fire: police”

16/1/09 @13:30ish: ” 29-year-old “quiet” teaching assistant Katrina Woods , 29,…”

Will ISPs in Filtering Trials be in Breach of Contract?

Apparently the Federal Government is calling for expressions of interest to participate in a trial to filter internet feeds.  This appears to raise a question of whether the ISPs will be in breach of their agreements to their subscribers.  If an ISP suddenly dropped your traffic (say to a false positive filter) would you have a right to sue?

I wonder whether anyone has reviewed their contracts in anticipation of the trial.  Are there any legislated liability outs for ISPs who participate?

7″ EeePC AUD329 at Clive Peeters

Just got a Clive Peeters brochure in the mailbox.  In the bottom left hand corner is a 7″ Linux EeePC for $329.

Their web address is, but I haven’t found the netbook on the site.

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