Archive for January, 2007

I don’t know why I do it

I listened to the president’s speech tonight on the radio and then on the television when I got home.  I don’t know why I do it.  Listening to the president makes my ears want to explode, my eyes want to pop out of my head and my foot want to go through the television.

As near as I can tell, the “new way forward” is essentially what we claim we’ve been trying to do all along.  The only difference seems to be that this time we’ll succeed [insert eye roll here].  Why?  Not because we’re doing anything different, only because we’ll be sending 20,000 more targets, er troops, to the region.  Of course, 20,000 troops is no where near enough to help – we would need ten to twenty times that number.  20,000 is just enough to claim we’re trying something new, but likely not enough to actually accomplish anything.

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Copyright advocacy

I had lunch yesterday with our scholarly communications officer – basically, copyright guru. We were meeting because I (and apparently a few other people in IT) had commented that we were looking for the scholarly communications officer to take the lead in positioning the university on different copyright issues. He thought that was interesting because that’s what he thought he had been doing.

We discussed a number of issues, only a few of which he had been working on. From memory, the following are the copyright concerns that I have and that I would like the university to take a position on:

  1. increasingly longer copyright terms that damage the growth of the public domain, becoming, essentially, permanent
  2. the Library of Congress’s exemption process which only grants exemptions for three years at a time (iirc, we lost a few exemptions this year)
  3. A loss of the initial focus of the purpose of copyright (“to promote the progress of science and the useful arts” by providing an incentive to create)
  4. the push to copyright databases and collections of facts
  5. the ratchet effect in copyright law where the U.S. tries to catch up with another country (e.g., the EU), but instead surpasses them; then they do the same to us
  6. meta-data: can it be copyrighted? should it? who should own it? is it a derivative work? etc.
  7. DMCA section 1201 on anti-circumvention may prevent the creation of software that would be legal to use
  8. the MPAA’s region codes (an example of the issue above)
  9. General problems with copyright law harming consumers (loss of fair-use).

I’m sure there were other things; but what else am I missing?  A question I used to ask students was, if you could rewrite copyright law, how would it look?

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another example of not getting by in America

If you’ve read Barbara Ehrenreich’s Nickel and Dimed, it’ll be pretty obvious why Walmart’s continued quest for efficiency is bad for employees and workers.  The latest example?  High-tech scheduling software designed to dynamically tune employee schedules to meet real-time fluctuations in the number of customers.  The result will be low wage workers on-call to meet customer surges and the possibility of being asked to go home during lulls.  This will make paychecks even less stable.  Add to that, dynamic checks on whether an employee is reaching full-time status or overtime so that their schedule can be scaled back, and you have the makings of an increasingly unfair workplace – regardless of value of the minimum wage.

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Pat Robertson

Pat Robertson’s almost 77 years old.  Unfortunately, I don’t think the lord will call him home any time soon because it’s just too much fun to lie to him.

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bah! – updated

so Saturday night around 11:30pm, the acid neutralizer I just installed, exploded. Okay, it didn’t really explode, but the top popped off again. Spoke to the customer support, looked around a bit more and it seems that the threads on the tank were stripped. I’ll call tomorrow and see about getting a replacement tank 🙁

Update: I just received a call from the folks that sold me the acid neutralizer (I didn’t even have to call them back). Two interesting things: 1) apparently, the tank head they sent is a down flow head and the system I’ve got is designed to be upflow. Not a big deal, except that I have to reverse the inlet and outlet plumb lines as compared to what’s labeled on the head. Normally they send a note along those lines – this time they didn’t. 2) Given that one of the threads is stripped, they’re going to send me a new tank and an RMA to return the old one.

Believe it or not, even after all of the difficulties, I’m still very happy with the company (CAI Technologies). They seem to sell good products and a reasonable cost (about half what I could find elsewhere). If you ever need specialty plumbing, check ’em out.

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