Archive for the 'blather' Category


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.


Right on schedule for war

Monday, February 3rd, 2003

My west-coast friend, erstwhile colleague and semantic sparring partner Ian Marsman has been quite astute about the impending Iraq Attack. Just watch and see if he isn’t right on the money.


Credit where it’s due

Monday, January 27th, 2003

Last year I had a bit of a rant at my hosting provider due to some service issues. I moved my main project at the time off of them but kept some other stuff with them. Since then I’ve seen them become what I consider the best value in hosting.

For $9.95US per month, provides me with:

  • 125Mbytes of disk space and more if I ask
  • PHP4, Perl, Python, Ruby
  • as many MySQL databases as I want with phpMyAdmin
  • SSH access, my own crontab
  • unlimited unmetered POP3 addresses
  • autoresponders
  • ezmlm mailing lists
  • dns management, subdomains, subdomain web roots

Unbeatable value. I’ve recommended it to a few friends who are also very happy with it.


Virus Naming

Monday, January 27th, 2003

Who names these viruses? The MS-SQL Server virus from this past weekend seems to be called “Slammer” or “Sapphire” or “SQ Hell”. I’m sure the author is wearing that like a badge of honour (although not too openly, one should think, if they want to remain anonymous). Maybe it would be useful to provide some disincentive by naming viruses differently – how keen would a haxx0r be to be known as the guy who wrote the “Author has a Tiny Dick” virus?


Ownership and Use

Tuesday, January 21st, 2003

Bruce Baugh responded to my copyright ownership post (in the comments) with a good lesson in human nature. No matter how ethereal the notion of ownership, it’s real to those who feel it, and to attempt to deny anyone that which their brains tell them is theirs is a tactic doomed to failure. He also points out that ownership is less the issue than use. I suppose that even with physical property there’s a philosophical argument that no object is ever really owned, but we are simply assigned an exclusive right to its use.

Doc‘s call to arms was for us to find a way to stem the tide of misaligned property analogy as pressed by the media interests; a way to get people in general to “get it”. What pervasaive meme can we come up with that will be strong enough to counter the powerful theft/piracy images? Let’s all blog aloud and get the juices flowing, shall we?

Ownership of physical property implies exclusive use. I own my lawn mower, it’s in my posession, in order for you to use it I must relinquish its use to you. You shouldn’t loan it to your neighbour in turn without my permission, especially as that extends my inability to make use of it. If you take it from me, I am left without its use altogether. I can ask to be compensated for the loss. I lose a physical entity, and therefore control over its use.

Ownership of intellectual property does not imply exclusive use. You can play my music without depriving me of it. You can loan it to someone else without affecting my use, although you should ask my permission. I never lose my ability to have full use of the work. What I lose when you use my work without my permission or recompense is control over its use.

Obviously these are two very different concepts. Yet they’re both called ownership. Concepts of theft and piracy of intellectual property just don’t fit. How have such ill-fitting analogies come to permeate our conciousness?