Oh lordy, not more DRM

09/18/06 | by Adam | Categories: Copyright

Link: http://www.engadget.com/2006/09/16/embedded-rfid-to-smack-down-dvd-piracy/

One of my hot buttons is, and has been for a while, Digital Rights Management (aka DRM.) The main overall change is that the content (the music, movie or book) is no longer considered to be sold but merely licensed. The ability to then sell your copy (and associated license) is also being gutted with the slow move to electronic distribution.

People who've been around for a while know this in an earlier form as copy protection in software such as dongles, passcodes, overburning, bad blocks on disks (and discs), as well as other nefarious methods. Frankly, software licensing is where this all came from and when it comes to being restrictive the music and movie industries are very fast learners indeed.

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Weblog privacy

09/15/06 | by Adam | Categories: Technology

This one came up today in a discussion with a relative. She'd found a weblog belonging to yet another relative that was expressing some fairly personal information, and was wondering about the ethics of reading what's functionally a private diary. My feeling is relatively straightforward: post your writing on a weblog -- in this case blogger.com -- and it's public. You may own the copyright on the expression, but the content is now fair game for all.

I don't really see this as an issue. Want to express your feelings in writing? Buy a paper diary. Want to share your feelings amongst a group of friends? Open up a private mailing list, password protect the discussion group, or better still, have a cup of coffee with them. Post on blogger? Better be willing to live with that one when everybody and their dog finds it.

Using only Google, I can still find posts I made to newgroups dating back to early 1995 and other mailing lists. Using a variety of other tools, I can practically build a complete history of whoever I want. This stuff doesn't go away (unless you're using Ritchie's weblog :)). Even with the private mailing lists and discussion groups above; once it's in a digital form, it's out of your control and spreading in the wild is just a forward click away (or a miss-clicked CC:)

My personal rule of thumb: if you're not comfortable with your parents, siblings or friends reading what you wrote, don't write it.


Truth in preflight announcements

09/14/06 | by Adam | Categories: Silly

Link: http://www.economist.com/opinion/displaystory.cfm?story_id=7884654

Being a regular flyer and having sat through years worth of preflight briefings, this little commentary from the Economist tickled my funnybone. Title links to the original.


Blogging at work

09/14/06 | by Adam | Categories: Technology, Whining

Recently a new version of our employee handbook was posted on the corporate intranet. The interesting this is that it now has a section on weblogging listed amongst the bits on inappropriate computer use and workplace harassment.

Item #1:
Do not blog about company matters unless the content has been approved

So with that statement, that's about all you'll be hearing about my workspace. I'm aware of more than a few companies that have fired people over commentary made in the (private) weblogs and I don't care to join their numbers.

The section is quite long with a fair number of bullet-points. What I thought was interesting was that blogging was even mentioned, never mind the detail that it then goes into.

Oh, one more item (#12):
Don't forget your day job. Do not blog at work or, do not let blogging interfere with your job or your commitments to customers.

Fair enough statement there.

I hate to say this about any company policy which is designed to restrict employee choices outside of work periods, but it's actually pretty reasonable in what's prohibited or at least discouraged. It would have been a far easier job to make item #1:
Do not discuss company matters on pain of dismissal.

and forget about the rest.


The cover of "The Time Machine"

09/13/06 | by Adam | Categories: Music

One of the tracks from Alan Parsons' "The Time Machine" came up in random shuffle. As with most Alan Parsons' albums, this comes with a theme, and not entirely surprisingly, it's time on this one. On my system, that means that the cover is displayed. You can see a copy of it at Wikipedia's entry.

I can figure out some of the time references on the cover, but not all of them.

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Expensing computer use

09/13/06 | by Adam | Categories: Whining

Recently I bought a new laptop after deciding that none of the work laptops were appropriate for a business trip. When I asked my manager if there was a similar program to reimbursing personal car mileage for personal laptop use, I was told there wasn't and never would be.

To a certain extent, I do get this. The company doesn't own cars but it does own laptops. As such from their perspective, it makes sense to oblige employees to use them; after all, they're insured for work purposes and being depreciated based upon it, whereas personal computers are not.

I still get the sense there's a hole here though.


Posts restored (mostly)

09/12/06 | by Adam | Categories: Technology, Whining

I've restored all of the posts that were here originally, prior to the destruction of the original host. There's one I can't find as it was never cached by Google, but that's about it.

Back up the site properly, Ritchie :) (Although I'm copying all my posts locally now as well!)


Internet culture beats Hollywood

08/29/06 | by Adam | Categories: Technology, Silly

This was quite funny.

My mother who isn't a technology follower by any means was reading a recent copy of the Globe & Mail which advertised a charity appearance by Matt Damon. In the picture it looks like he's with a group of African children. She pointed it out to me, saying "It's Matt!" This all left me a little non-plussed as I didn't think she was interested in Hollywood stars. When I pushed a bit more to find out what the deal was, it clicked.

A few weeks earlier I'd forwarded the latest internet meme, a video of a dancing geek, taken in locations all over the world, to my father. It's a very nifty idea and presented beautifully. My mother had seen this and confused Matt Damon with Matt Harding. She still doesn't know (or care) who Matt Damon is, but the dancing video has stuck in her mind.

Score one for the internet meme-monster!


Upgrading systems is for the birds

08/28/06 | by Adam | Categories: Technology, Whining

As time moves on, I get less and less interested in playing with the internals of computers. Each time these days I open up a computer to do some maintenance I'm reminded again that it's not fun any more, but work.

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Forte Agent Newsreader Updated

08/27/06 | by Adam | Categories: Technology

I used to use Forte's Agent a lot when reading newsgroups and mail under Windows; I still have it installed although I've mostly migrated to using Open Webmail and Google Groups these days. The USD$19 upgrade fee (or USD$29 for a new license) isn't bad though if you store your mail on a local computer.


Review: Dock-N-Talk

08/22/06 | by Adam | Categories: Technology, Reviews

Summary: the Dock-N-Talk is a gizmo that allows regular telephones to use a cellphone as if it was a landline.

Rationale: $500 a year in Telus charges for a landline barely used while paying quite a lot more for a cellphone with lots of any-time minutes and miscellaneous extras. The home telephone kit is already paid for and in convenient locations.

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Review: Plantronics Pulsar 590A Bluetooth Stereo Headphones

08/21/06 | by Adam | Categories: Technology, Reviews

Summary: Bluetooth-based stereo headphones.

I like listening to music while taking the bus or working in the garden, but find the corded headsets prone to catching and tugging off. Naturally, I'm less than fond of that so was looking for alternatives. After an impressive demo from a friend, I decided to pick up Plantronic's wireless Bluetooth stereo headset, the Pulsar 590A.

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Hidden Songs In The Key Of X

08/20/06 | by Adam | Categories: Technology

A while ago, I picked up "Songs In the Key of X" which was a tribute (?) album to the X-Files. I remember hearing a few years ago that there was a hidden track on it. The track (two actually) exist in slot 0 (i.e. before the CD starts, and don't get played normally.) When I ripped the CD using AudioGrabber on the Dell laptop none of the track list settings brought up the hidden tracks. I searched around the internet for a bit and found another method: reset the sector count to 0. On trying to use it, I got an ASPI error. Even leading a few frames in didn't help, so I gave up. When I tried again on my desktop -- whaddya know -- it works!

The first song is a rather dark Nick Cave effort while the second is an off-beat remix of the X-Files theme. They're worth seeking out.


Review: Creative Soundblaster Wireless Music

08/20/06 | by Adam | Categories: Technology, Reviews

Summary: The Creative Soundblaster Wireless is a 802.11b MP3 player designed to feed digital music into a stereo from an archive elsewhere.

Part 1: History

When a review starts "I really wanted this to work well", you know it's not going to be a terribly positive review. So, to cut a long story short, "I really wanted this to work well..."

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Poor business practices

08/20/06 | by Adam | Categories: Technology, Whining

A while ago I was pretty positive about a Palm application called WorldMate Pro. It's a traveller's companion including all sorts of conversion factors, world weather reports, airline flight checker and so on. It looked nice and worked pretty well. When I first bought it, it lacked the flight stuff, but had pretty much everything else, and was a buy-once app. When they moved to calling it "pro" and added the flight stuff, the developers included a year's subscription to the advanced services. When the subscription expired, they asked me to renew the subscription and I declined given that I was primarily using the non-advanced features. When I went to use it after that, it stopped working entirely. Given that they want $50 a year for maintenance, I'm rather annoyed about the whole deal. Anyway, now due to its all or nothing deal, the software is not recommended.

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