Saturday, December 27, 2003

Online music comes of age

This BBC article declares that this was a major year for change in the music industry. In 2003: Online music comes of age, the author covers the rise of MP3 files and file sharing, the impact that the iPod and the iTunes Store have had on the music world, and the resulting push - finally - for the record companies to loosen up and offer music online. Will this year go down as the year that CDs died - or began to? Or, perhaps, the year in which the RIAA finally clued in, but only partially: they're still suing their customer base.

- posted by laurie @ 12/27/2003 12:15:00 PM (0) comments

Tuesday, December 23, 2003

Verdict in the Malvo case

The Washington Post reports that Jurors Spare Malvo Death Sentence . While I think that the crimes committed by the two men were horrendous, and while I know that they terrorized the entire D.C. Metro area (I remember talking to friends and relatives in the area during that time, and recall how frightened everyone was: dashing through parking lots to carry out normal, daily activities, afraid to be outside for even a moment longer than necessary), I am relieved that the jury did not impose the death sentence.

I'm not particularly sympathetic to Malvo, even though, as this article points out, his appearance is very youthful, and he had a troubled, unstable upbringing. Many people have such upbringings - may people have worse. He was directly involved in the taking of human lives, and he should face consequences as decided by a jury of peers.

People who commit horrible crimes should certainly be punished, but no one should have the power to decide if another human dies, and no group of twelve ordinary citizens should be pressured to make such a decision, one which will be with them for the rest of their lives.

My two cents, as a longtime D.C. Metro resident who still has family in the area, and as a current resident of a state in which the reinstitution of the death penalty has been seriously considered by elected officials in the last few months. Look at all the other countries that have outlawed the death penalty: why is it commonly accepted that the death penalty is inhumane in many other parts of the world, but here in the U.S., it's still and accepted form of punishment?

- posted by laurie @ 12/23/2003 03:26:00 PM (0) comments

Register: "Jane Doe Ruling limits effect of RIAA legal defeat"

On Friday I was doing the happy dance and celebrating an early present from the Court of Appeals, but apparently my joyful celebration was a bit premature, at least according to The Register:

"On Friday, the DC federal appeals court ruled that the recording industry's efforts to subpoena the names and addresses of ISP Verizon's customers who were using P2P file-sharing networks to download and upload copyrighted music were unlawful. However, the decision rests on a narrow reading of the federal Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), and likely will have little long-term impact on the file sharing debate.

In fact, at the same time the DC court was narrowing the ability to get discovery of anonymous users of the Internet, a court in Connecticut reinforced a private company's right to determine the identity of a person who anonymously criticized the company in e-mail.

The rulings both go to the core of that most cherished and reviled privilege of online life: anonymity. "

So, the end reult is that the RIAA may not be able to issue tons of subpoenas all at once, but they can file tons of lawsuits all at once.

Is this just a case of SSDS (same shit different strategies)? Probably, but I have a strong feeling that the lawsuit route is more potentially harmful to the RIAA, who may end up filing suit against even more gradmas, minors, honors students, etc. What I think would be interesting: it's entirely conceivable that the RIAA may end up suing an employee, relative of an employee, consultant or relative of a consultant, a major artist, or . . . well, I'm sure you get the picture - and they probably have, too, considering the high-powered, higly-paid legal minds they've got working on this issue. I think there's a good chance the RIAA might end up making themselves look even worse, though they're already guilty of a lot in the court of public opinion.

- posted by laurie @ 12/23/2003 10:37:00 AM (0) comments

Why I love and hate my kitty: or, why cats and computers don't mix

So, the last time I posted, it was Saturday, and I was trying to resume a regular posting schedule. Note that today is Tuesday. The regular posting schedule was interrupted by the hilarious hijinks of one kitty named Tybalt, who has to know what's at the bottom of cups and glasses. Usually, these mishaps occur in the kitchen, where cleanup is easy, or in the living room, where furniture and carpet may take longer to dry out, but generally, no harm is done (he tends to go for water and lighter-colored drinks, while avoiding coffee, soda, and other potentially staining liquids, thankfully). Sunday night, though, was a different story all together. Eric and I had decided to go freeze our way through a cigarette outdoors and, as we exited the apartment, I looked over and saw the cat curled up, sound asleep, across the back of the love seat. A little more than halfway through the smoke, though, I panicked. "You have to let me back in NOW," I said to Eric, remembering that my keys were inside. "I left a glass of water on the computer desk!" I was hoping the cat would still be snoozing blissfully away when I came in - but no, he was prowling guiltily through the halls. I ran down the hallway, into the den, turned on the light and beheld . . . a flood, covering over half of the desktop, soaking articles from recently-completed papers, post-it pads, bits of notepaper with phone numbers and other important information, leaking slowly under the cordless phone, my palm cradle, a desk clock, around a few books, and then under the raised shelf for the monitor and off the back of the desk.

And forward into the keyboard. Which promptly started having absolutely no correlation between keys typed and characters outputted. None. Drying out did not improve this development, as it sometimes does. Early yesterday morning, the ergonomic keyboard we've had for five or six years (got it with our previous desktop) was pronounced dead.

After I finished mopping up the desktop, I was fuming and stomping my way back down the hallway when the kitty approached me, mewed, and then started winding around my ankles with, I swear, an extremely apologetic look. It's impossible to stay mad at the beastie - he's too darn cute.

So, the cat and I are friends again, and we have a new keyboard, purchased yesterday at a very, very crowded Circuit City. We had two keyboards in the house, but both have now been victims of the quest to see what's at the bottom of the water glass. At the register, the Circuit City associate asked me if I wanted the extended warranty, and I asked, "does it cover cats spilling water into the keyboard? no? then I think I can live without it."

And now I can resume blogging, as well as all those *other* things keyboards are used for! :)

- posted by laurie @ 12/23/2003 09:03:00 AM (0) comments

Saturday, December 20, 2003

Rarely do I agree with Norm Coleman, but . . .

in this case, I say, "right on, Norm!" Below is the reason why - a snippet from the NYTimes article on yesterday's Verizon decision:

Record Industry May Not Subpoena Online Providers:

"The judges sympathized with the recording industry, which has cited declining profits, noting that 'stakes are large.' But they said it was not the role of courts to rewrite the 1998 law, 'no matter how damaging' the practice of swapping has become to the music industry or threatens to become to the motion picture and software industries.
The chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, said the court's decision 'makes the need for reform of the subpoena process even more urgent.'
Sen. Norm Coleman, a prominent critic of the subpoenas, predicted that any efforts to broaden the 1998 law would 'face some serious obstacles' in the Senate.
'We clearly have to do a better job of getting law and technology and ethics into better sync,' said Coleman, R-Minn."

- posted by laurie @ 12/20/2003 05:49:00 PM (0) comments

Holidays at Home

The semester has wound down, life is getting a little less chaotic, and, finally, the holidays are approaching with blazing speed, or are already here, depending on which of the variety of December holidays you celebrate (that is, if you do celebrate one of these)!

This year, instead of heading off to visit family, as I did last year (Christmas in CA, New Year's here at home, and then a post-New-Year thaw in the Bahamas), I'm more or less staying put in glorious, frozen Minnesota. While I'll miss seeing all the family, and will also miss the warmth of Southern CA and Nassau, being here at home has certain distinct advantages, such as the own bed/vehicle/computer advantage, the not-living-out-of-a-suitcase advantage, and the familiar-turf advantage. Of course, there are disadvantages as well, such as having to decide which New Year's party to go to and, if deciding to attend multiple, in which order.

For the first time in three years, we will be hosting family for Christmas instead of vice-versa. My dad arrives on Christmas Eve and will return to L.A. on the 29th. The overall experience should be interesting, especially as I am to teach my gadget-obsessed yet completely computer-illiterate retiree dad how to use the shiny new 14" iBook he had me purchase for him. Lesson plan for day 1: turning the computer on and off. Seriously, when I visited him at his office shortly before his retirement, he hadn't gotten even that far with the ancient, orange-monochrome-CRT-screened behemoth in his office. The fear of pushing the wrong buttons and hurting the machine had definitely taken hold of him (funny, though: this is a way of interacting with technologies that is more characteristic of women than of men, who tend to plunge right in and learn through experimentation and experience).

Thank the powers that be that I have experience as a trainer and as a teacher, though not specifically with computers. We shall see if six days is sufficient to get him surfing the 'net, emailing, and producing simple word-processed documents. He eventually wants to get into digital photography, but I think that will have to wait until a later date. For intensive training course part 1, the three objectives listed above will have to suffice. There's a lot that falls under those three subject-headings, including, potentially, how to use Instant Messenger and how to set up online access to bank account and bill pay services. Maybe we'll get him set up with a freebie webpage, too, but only if objectives 1-3 are met. Don't want to overload the poor dad.

It strikes me as somewhat strange that my generally early-adopter dad has been so behind the curve in taking up home computing, when he was so on the ball with the purchase and use of the VCR, the microwave oven, and the cellular phone (although, granted, he lost the manuals for his cellphones shortly after their purchase, and so still relies on a paper address book, since entering contacts into the high-tech phone he has is, for some reason, a skill that eludes him). Perhaps I should revisit Edward Rogers' Diffusion of Innovation and related literature to see if I can discern the potential reasons.

Other holiday plans include taking in the Holidazzle Parade, hopefully seeing Oliver at Ordway (but I need to buy tickets!), Christmas Day dinner and socializing with one of Eric's coworkers and her family, a tour (probably by car, given my dad's chronic Southern Californian's aversion to temperatures below 40) of the University of Minnesota campuses, a Christmas lights drive, and maybe a visit to the Mall of Americas – without which no trip to the Twin Cities would be complete. Hopefully those activities will fill up six days. I'm completely open to suggestions, however: if you've got 'em, let me have 'em!

- posted by laurie @ 12/20/2003 12:54:00 PM (0) comments

Friday, December 19, 2003

Blogosphere Update

You might remember the earlier CFP posted here for Into the Blogosphere, an online peer-reviewed collection on weblogs for which I am one of the editors. Well, for those interested in a follow-up, submissions have been received from accepted authors and are being sent to reviewers. The response to this project has been wonderful: we received a number of great proposals, and also had a wonderful response from people we approached about being reviewers. This is shaping up to be quite an exciting project! Keep an eye on the site over the next several months for updates, developments, and finally, for the publication of the collection!

- posted by laurie @ 12/19/2003 09:02:00 PM (0) comments

Downhill Battle

Disconnect for a few weeks, and you miss out on all kinds of stuff. Check out Downhill Battle, if you have not already done so. A campaign to sticker RIAA-affiliated label products in major retail stores. The site describes and depicts efforts at WalMart and Target, among others. Also check out the blogologie post which is my source for this info.

- posted by laurie @ 12/19/2003 08:48:00 PM (0) comments

Copyfight on the Decision

Copyfight has some more good stuff re: the Appeals Court decision. Via Sivacracy. Also check out Siva Vaidhyanathan's post on the Dutch Kazaa ruling.

- posted by laurie @ 12/19/2003 06:46:00 PM (0) comments

the friday five

This week's questions, and my scintillating responses ;)
Responses to each question are, by the way, in no particular order.

1. List your five favorite beverages.
Mango lassi, any dark-roast coffee, my margarits (top shelf, light on the tequila, heavy on the sour mix), black and tans, and tomato-juice-based beverages (the salty ones, not the sweet ones)

2. List your five favorite websites.
Google News, Lindsay's blog, Clancy's blog, my blog (shameless self-promotion, but hey!), and an animation site tie between The Other Side, Rather Good, and - there's another one out there I really like, but I can't think of the name.

3. List your five favorite snack foods.
Can Triscuits count for all five? No? Ok, well . . .
Triscuits, hard pretzels, sun chips, just about any cheese - processed or not - except domestic swiss, and raw veggies.

4. List your five favorite board and/or card games.
Settlers of Catan and the multiple expansions/variations, Talisman (which we finally own! so happy it was reissued!), Scrabble, Solitaire, and the card game known as Egyptian Rat Screw - though maybe you know it as Slap Jack? I swear I didn't make up the name.

5. List your five favorite computer and/or game system games.
Diablo, Diablo II, Croc for the Playstation, Tekken (any number), and Breakout or Breakout knockoffs, for GameBoy, Palm, Atari, whatever.

- posted by laurie @ 12/19/2003 06:26:00 PM (0) comments

I'm Baaaa-aack: End seclusion, and a happy p2p development

I've decided to come out of self-imposed blogging seclusion today, in part because the semester's about as over as it can be for the moment, and in part because I had to share the joyous news: The U.S. Court of Appeals released a decision today that reversed the earlier District Court decision which forced ISPs to divulge information about suspected file-sharers. InternetNews has a good article about the decision, and ZDNet offers a FAQ for filesharers, as well as a link to the decision itself (pdf). Relevant snippet of the decision: "We conclude from both the terms of § 512(h) and the overall structure of § 512 that, as Verizon contends, a subpoena may be issued only to an ISP engaged in storing on its servers material that is infringing or the subject of infringing activity."

This is good news for many people, including filesharers, those concerned with copyriight/IP issues, and folks worried about privacy. All in all, I'd say the Court of Appeals has handed down a reasonable decision, and one which might be seen as a great holiday gift to many - the content industry excluded, of course!

Excuse me, I have to go do the happy-dance, then get back to work.

- posted by laurie @ 12/19/2003 02:18:00 PM (0) comments