Monday, June 17, 2002

 

1.5 weeks without a post again. But hell, no one but me reads this thing anyway(as far as I know), so in the long run, I guess it's not all that crucial.

I have been blog browsing again. It seems like summer vacation is the topic of many, many blogs now, and that graduation is another popular theme. Well, I'm sort of "on summer vacation" at the moment - teaching one class and taking zero (at the moment - begin sitting in on a Visual Cultures seminar next week). And I did graduate this semester, though I got the M.A. that tells me I only have another four years, on average, until I recieve my PhD. But I was persuaded to actually participate in the graduation ceremony, and I am glad I did. The group of friends that I have made here at Penn State - they are some of the coolest people I have met in my life (husband, sister, and the two best friends aside). I have never felt a part of a group like I have here - a group of graduate students, a group of English *scholars* (I use the word somewhat tentatively - it still feels like I haven't quite earned it yet, even though I have an 'advanced degree'). And othe other assorted groups that have formed here: the Friday lunch group from first year, the BFonte group, and of course, the Union.

I haven't been as active as I should be on that front lately, but the union relly gave me a way to interact with students from other departments and to connect with a great bunch of people. Of course, the activist in me was also really into the union activities. I think a union is a smart idea for graduate assistants. I get a little irritated when I am told that my teaching does not make me an employee. This is a big, somewhat complex issue, and I am not going to soapbox about it at the moment. I'll save that for another post, perhaps.

I am pretty sure one of the reasons that I am not exactly the most active activist in the world right now is that I am in a big transitional period at the moment. I am getting ready to move to Minnesota. I have no idea what living in Minnesota will actually be like. I have no frame of reference. I grew up between L.A. and D.C. - the weather, the social scene, the general way of life in these two cities is really different, but I learned kind of how to adapt to the two. Aside from six months in NYC and two years in Central PA, LA and DC are really the areas I have always thought of as home (DC more than LA, but both have been home at different points). But MN? The Midwest? I will be so far from friends, family, places that I have known all my life. At least living in Central PA I have been equally far away from the major East Coast cities, and only four hours from DC. Anyway, it's a big move. New school, new department (I haven't really been outside of an English Department, studies-wise, since high school, and now I am off to a Rhetoric program), new city, new time zone. At least I THINK we have the apartment situation figured out. Speaking of which, I have to get home and call about that apartment!

- posted by laurie @ 6/17/2002 02:15:00 PM (0) comments

Wednesday, June 05, 2002

 

Got my car jump-started today - I was so afraid that I was going to have to get a new battery for my car - battery #2, I think, that would have been. And the car is only a 1999!!!! I have to be more conscientious about turning off the lights from now on.

I have been playing Diablo II lately. We have the expansion and I am playing my first assasin. She is very cool, and I whizzed through act I and act II, but I am now stuck in act III with all the little guys with blow guns and knives. I hate them. Between them and the really big nast tree-looking things (I always forget the monsters' names), I keep dying. Over and over. So I decided to take a break from Diablo and do something else. Like blog.

Playing Diablo II again reminded me that Blizzard is suing bnetd for copyright violations. I feel really bad playng Diablo II considering that I support efforts such as bnetd, and oppose the DMCA and other overly restrictive copyright legislation. I decided to see if I could find any updates on the bnetd case. While most of the media coverage of this legal three-ring-circus is concentrated in April, when Blizzard filed their lawsuit against bnetd and Internet Gateway, there are a few more recent tidbits available at the bnetd site. It seems as if, for the moment, Vivendi and Blizzard are suing bnetd, not for DMCA violations, but for unathorized public performance of Blizzard copyrighted materials. As EFF and other sources point out, Blizzard's initial use of DMCA to threaten developers, and the subsequent lack of DMCA-related charges in the actual legal case, demonstrates the scary intimidation power of the DMCA. This law is not only excessive, but can be used to intimidate developers and ISPs. This seems particualrly likely to become a pattern: large corporation invokes 1201 DMCA in order to threaten a small development team, etc., gets what they want and then either takes no further action or files charges using traditional copyright legislation. Evil. This and other DMCA-related cases can be reviewed in the EFF report Unintended Consequences: Three Years Under the DMCA.

And finally, one more gripe about IP in this country today: a news story on the EFF website from May 24 discusses how Hollywood wants to "plug the 'analog hole'," basically regualting analog-to-digital converters. Now, for the public at large, this is a serious issue, and a threat to our ability to access information. This looks to be just another step in the degradation of the information commons. To an educator, however, this looks terrifying. If ADC devices are regulated, this means that my ability to transition analog media to a digital format for use in educational settings is limited. This also means that teaching effectiveness miht be adversely affected, and it means that my ability to use the web to provide multimedia enrichment for classroom and out-of-class activities is also severely curtailed. I will not even get into the impact this may have on online course delivery/distance education. Why does a potential threat to Hollywood mean so much more than a potential boon to educators in this country?

- posted by laurie @ 6/05/2002 12:55:00 PM (0) comments

Monday, June 03, 2002

 

Woo-hoo! I finally sat down and took 20 minutes and tweaked the alignment of the right content box, and now it looks (more or less) just the way I want it to! Wow, that was so difficult! :-) Really, if only technophobes knew how much could be done with pre-existing code and a Visual Quick Start guide. Ain't technology grand! Of course, how many of them would think it an accomplishment to move some words in a box down the screen a few pixels to line up with other words in a different box on the page, well, that's another question entirely. But still - I have gotten a bit better at tweaking javascript. Um, not just moving boxes up and down - I made a DHTML menu for a web page, too, which was actually more difficult. I found that little task fun, even if the menu never actually made it onto the page I had created it for.

Oh, if only I could go back to high school and suffer through the BASIC programming course all over again (believe me, not for the sheer pleasure of sitting through THAT course, but in order to get to a point where I could actually program a computer to do something worthwile). I'd stick it out this time! Of course, getting into programming now, while perhaps more difficult for me personallly since I haven't had a math course in some seven years, would mean not having to put up with patronizing teachers and twitchy Apple IIE's that had been mishandled by every kid in the high school. And it's not like I want to code for a living! Just, you know, for fun.

Teeny accomplishments. Big, huge errors and teeny accomplishments.


- posted by laurie @ 6/03/2002 12:29:00 PM (0) comments

 

Happy Monday. I am stuck at home because I killed my car battery. I parked in the lot behind my apartment on Friday, probably somewhere around 9 pm. I did not even look in the direction of the car until 1:45 this afternoon. So, when I needed the car to get up and go, to take me to class fast (I was running, well, not late, but more like *exactly, precisely, no-time-for-unusual-occurrences* on time) the car just didn't go, and as I thought back, trying to remember when I had last driven my car, my heart just sunk in my chest. And I knew. I just know. "Like you know about a good melon," to quote When Harry Met Sally. I reached for the cell phone and started dialing. No answer. No car. No cables. Anyone who lives anywhere near me - ARRRRGHHH! - no dice. I just knew that I wouldn't be making it to campus today. And what's worse, I am pretty sure I will end up having to buy a new car battery because, well, I did leave the lights on in my car for, oh, you know, something like 64 hours. Typical.

- posted by laurie @ 6/03/2002 11:36:00 AM (0) comments