News.com: Sigma’s new SD9 high end digital SLR, with the foveon chip inside, is actually going to ship October 21st. Apparently. For those of you not in the photo world, this is much like Mozilla 1.0 shipping.
Day: September 23, 2002
Desktop Linux: A GNU Privacy Guard (PGP replacement) primer.
Jeremy Zawodny has set up RSS feeds for ticker symbols at Yahoo Finance. Pretty cool! If used right, these feeds could be extremely powerful. I’m worried about Yahoo pulling the plug if it gets popular. RSS feeds are a drain on bandwidth and server resources without ad revenue. Of course you could always stick an ad in the first spot of the RSS feed, much like 802.11b News does from time to time.
I’m still extremely excited to see a company like Yahoo supporting RSS feeds like this.
Cato Debate Followup
Before I get started on my follow-up post about the Cato Debate I attended last week, I’d like to point out an article that is mentioned at the bottom of James Miller’s Let Hollywood Hack piece. It is titled Hollywood Hacks Consumers, and is written by Sonia Arrison. As the link suggests, it is a counterpoint to Miller’s piece:
Hollywood wants Congress to pass laws protecting intellectual property against theft on the Internet. But Hollywood lobbying has gone too far with the introduction of a new bill that authorizes copyright holders to hack into peer-to-peer networks.
The bill itself [pdf] scares me, but I’m not a lawyer, so there’s no way that I’ll be able to grasp its intricacies. Have you read it? What do you think?
Phil Corwin made an interesting observation during the Q&A section. His computer crashes all the time. How does he know if the crash was caused by Hollywood? If it was caused by Hollywood, and the damage caused is less than $50, there is nothing he can do. He questioned the secrecy that is built into the bill. Methods used by copyright holders to protect their works are kept secretly on file at the Department of Justice. Any claims made against copyright holders are to be directed to the Attorney General, and under the bill will likely never become public.
I think that the claim process outlined in the bill makes it extremely hard (perhaps intentionally?) for people to seek damages against copyright holders. From a geek’s point of view, you would have to log quite a bit of incoming and outgoing traffic to trace an attack from a copyright owner. This holds true for both legal (under the bill) and illegal attacks. It is unlikely that common computer users will do this.
James Miller, an economist from Smith College, seemed to be the least important person on the panel. I was a little disappointed at his opening statement, as he basically read his paper, elaborating slightly. Perhaps he sat on the panel to make Mr. French and the MPAA look reasonable in comparison. Miller’s views on p2p piracy are extreme. He believes that having Hollywood scan our hard drives is a-ok. He appeared nervous throughout his opening statement. An attack on his ideas by one of the panel members provoked a childish defensive response out of him during the rebuttal.
The Missing Representative
Ed Cone is curious about the absence of Howard Berman, who was scheduled to be on the panel. One could chalk it up to business as usual, or perhaps the potential war in Iraq. I have a feeling that something else was at play. While John Mitchell of Public Knowledge introduced himself, he apologized if anyone had come to the debate hoping to hear Gigi Sohn’s opinions on the bill. After the debate, I overheard a few people discussing why Gigi did not make the debate. From the conversation, I learned that Gigi is apparently scheduled to testify in a hearing on the bill and did not want to show her cards. Could this be the real reason that Berman did not show up? Does he have more up his sleeves?
Speaking of Berman, I’d like to point out a link to his introduction of the bill ([pdf] or [doc]) from July 25, 2002. I think it should be required reading for anyone interested in this debate. The introduction does not seem consistent with the wording of the bill itself. From Berman’s introduction:
One approach that has not been adequately explored is to allow technological solutions to address technological problems. Technological innovation, as represented by the creation of P2P networks and their subsequent decentralization, has been harnessed to facilitate massive P2P piracy. It is worth exploring, therefore, whether other technological innovations could be harnessed to combat this massive P2P piracy problem. Copyright owners could, at least conceptually, employ a variety of technological tools to prevent the illegal distribution of copyrighted works over a P2P network. Using interdiction, decoys, redirection, file-blocking, spoofs, or other technological tools, technology can help prevent P2P piracy.
From the bill itself, it appears that copyright holders can do just about anything they want to as long as they file it with the Department of Justice. Then again, I’m not a lawyer…
Marshall Eubanks (pardon any possible misspelling) routes packets for a living. He was particularly worried about the potential for sanctioned Denial of Service (DoS) attacks. Mr. French told him not to worry, because copyright holders and only protect their works. If they launch a DoS attack that affects anything else, they are liable.
John Albino, a local DC area photographer, raised concerns about individual content creators. He too was assured that the bill covered individual content creators. Mr. French also restated that the bill does not curtail anything except p2p networks.
Pat Ross of Washington Internet Daily asked a question comparing real property rights to intellectual property rights. The only thing I have in my notes about the response is: Libertarians. If I had .08 cents for every time Mr. French said Libertarians…
It was good. I had a sandwich (I don’t recall what kind), a cookie (chocolate chip) and a coke. There was some discussion going on, though it was mostly reporters talking to reporters, lawyers to lawyers, and so on. There wasn’t much conversation for a weblogger to engage in.
Reporting to the weblog world and beyond about the event was a great experience. I learned that taking notes on pen and paper and translating to a weblog entry is time consuming and tedious. It was, however, well worth doing. I think the ideal way of blogging an event would be with a laptop in hand. This way editing can be done via cut and paste rather than transcribing. Perhaps it is time to upgrade my frail Pentium laptop.
At times the panel debate reminded me of a few high school debates I watched and participated in. When you don’t have anything else to say, just hammer home your point one more time (.08 cents!). Make a point that will provoke your opponent to react poorly. Make your opponent look like a criminal, then point out that criminals will attack my position by this this and this. Some things never change, do they?
Changes: This version fixes all reported bugs from older versions. It adds an automatic installation system, WebMail reader and Users Journals modules, a broadcast public messages system, custom users headlines, more options for the RSS/RDF backend, new functions to extend the functionality of themes in order to have real themes, the modules are now theme sensitive, the configuration system was migrated to the database, and there were major performance improvements amongst other things.
“SuSE’s messaging server does everything Exchange does, and better. Built around Postfix, OpenLDAP, squirrelmail, and Cyrus, this is a rock-solid messaging server, with group calendaring, meetings, and contacts. SKYRiXgreen, the Webmail interface, is so functional it removes the need for a separate email client. I tried it on all manner of Web browsers, and it worked on all of them. If you must stick with a favorite standalone email client, all major ones are supported. No client licenses, excellent admin interface- this is a fine product.”
George Toft at LinuxJournal: Logical Volume Management in Linux.
A Year Ago Today
Aiight, here’s the deal– The purpose for this site is mostly to rant and rave a bit (cause if ya can’t do that with a blog…) but I also surf the net waay too much and come up with some random links that I’d like to share with the world. I’m working on a web-based link collection, managment, and display system, but until I get that off the ground, I’ll be posting them here. If and when I get my open-source link system going, I hope to be able to integrate it with livejournal somehow so that cached links are posted once or twice a day or something like that.
FuzzyBlog: The XML-RPC libraries for php by Keith Davens goes 2.5. Also of note:
Keith is a college student — and here he is building great stuff and releasing it to the world. And, while college students have always been doing development, it’s never had the impact that it is having now. I can’t pick up an issue of Linux Journal without seeing an article by some kernel hacker still in school. Or a Python user who’s still studying. Or whatever. Given that I started my first software company when I was still in school, I understand this all too well — and it still surprises me.
pMachine: A blogging/publishing/content management system that I think I glanced over a long time ago, but recently rediscovered. Ecrosstexas is a blog powered by pMachine, and I just subscribed to Eric’s RSS feed. pMachine runs on PHP with a MySQL backend. There is a free version as well as a “Pro” version. From the screenshots, this puppy looks like it has a lot of features.