It appears that under certain circumstances, this weblog displays links as white-on-white text in Netscape. I've had frustrations with CSS in Netscape before, and I don't have time to fix it right now. My apologies to NS users; I'll get around to a redesign someday.
Microsoft shelves Office XP subscription plan. Very smart: crippling Office just opens the door for competing products to acquire market share without changing the way they do business. I refuse to pay hundreds for crippled software, and had been planning to avoid the XP products for this reason. I think I'm still going to wait a few years before going past the "2000" line (Windows 2000, Office 2000); I think I can manage. If by 2005 I need a new word processor, no doubt there will be a non-subscription option available. Whether that option is MS Word or Corel WordPerfect is Microsoft's decision at the moment, and it'd be pretty dumb if they allowed the latter to be that option.
Most of my intellectual property-related blatherings on this weblog are meant to chronicle (and understand) this movement by I.P.-driven industries to convince us that we no longer own anything, while the companies own everything. Traditionally, if you buy a toaster, you are completely within your right to do anything you want with it, because it's yours, you own it. I.P. such as software, or DVDs, gets sticky; you can't easily copy and distribute a toaster like you can a music CD, so traditional ideas of property aren't sufficient to sustain an I.P. industry. The DVD-CCA essentially instituted a combination of laws and contract-enforced technology standards to retain ownership and control of all DVD players, as if we're licensing the software that controls DVD players instead of owning a device that can play DVDs like toasters make toast. I don't pretend to know what the solutions are to the problems I.P. industries face. I just don't think revoking my legitimate freedoms is the answer.
While I believe the actual definition of these freedoms includes the ability to, say, copy DVDs, it is clear that the act of piracy is not one of these freedoms. However, exploiting monopoly power to eliminate all ability to copy DVDs goes too far, and infringes what I'm calling legitimate freedoms. A more obvious example of this exploitation is region coding, which serves virtually no purpose except to give studios price-fixing powers over distribution.
I grew up with computers that came with programming languages either built into or bundled with the operating system. That is, I always had full control of the entire computer, with a relatively small knowledge gap between me and that control. (After all, you have to know how to use anything you own in order to use it.) A Commodore 64 has an operating system that's virutally nothing but a programming language. The Kaypro 4 came with a couple of versions of BASIC. Heck, Microsoft was founded on the business of making versions of BASIC for different computers, such as the Commodore Amiga's AmigaBasic. When the Amiga OS stopped including AmigaBasic, I recognized that a fundamental right had been taken away from me: the right to be able to control my computer. The cost of a C++ compiler was prohibitive enough that I felt shunned by a new class barrier, as if only people with money deserve to be able to program computers. (This was before there was an Open Source community to address the need for freely available advanced programming packages like GCC.)
I don't expect everyone to be able to program computers. The natural progression is toward more complicated systems, widening the necessary knowledge gap. Assuming that this natural progression involves taking away the user's ownership of their computer is an obvious fallacy. However, this conclusion is becoming more evident with I.P. industries. The only thing stopping me from making my DVD player ignore the DVD industry's price-fixing mechanism of region codes is my lack of access to knowledge of how to do that, and to institute enforced region coding in the first place is to exploit that gap.
Tangent to this discussion are the attempts to exploit our recent obsession with no-cost software and services while trying to maintain sustainable business models. Somehow it was decided that if we're not paying money for software or services, we don't have any rights to our own computers. More on that tomorrow. Needless to say, the apparent conclusion by the software licensing trend that we don't have any rights even if we are paying money for it is even more disturbing.
Super-Accurate Atomic Clock Hates Sundays. Where do I sign up to be a leader of frequency and time?
Extra, Extra: On the Set of Angelina's Life. A coworker of mine took a day off work to be an extra, and wrote an article about it. I wanted to do this when I heard about it, but it didn't occur to me that I could take a day off of work. :)
New iBook! I know you'd still rather have a Titanium, but you can't afford one, now can you?
I can't say I'm too excited about Jurassic Park III, especially considering the fact that its release date is July 18, but I have yet to see a trailer (attached to The Mummy Returns, which I probably won't see). William H. Macy, sure; Sam Neill, OK. But virtually no Spielberg involvement, and a rumored ever-changing script... Dan's JP3 Page is following the rumors closely.
I've never seen a fansite dedicated to a studio before: Steven Spielberg & DreamWorks SKG Fansite.