Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Corporate America vs. The Rest of Us

There's been a commercial that has been running on my local Comcast cable system lately that reduces the Net Neutrality issue to, "Net Neutrality means YOU pay."

Huh? No, I'm already paying for broadband access. Implicit in my (substantial) fee for broadband is the assumption that I will be using high-bandwidth applications or viewing high-bandwidth entertainment. So no, I don't think Net Neutrality should mean "I pay."

Nor, in my opinion, should the providers of such services be required to pay extra on top of their current access fees just because they offer popular or high-bandwidth content.

Look, let's be honest - the cable and phone companies want more money, and they've latched onto the "tiered service" idea as a way to do it. Frankly, I'd think most corporations would be doing anything but asking for more money when there have been so many incidents of over-paid executives, the raiding of corporate treasuries, the cancellation of employee pension plans and other evidence of corporate greed and wrongdoing.

Net neutrality is important because it allows each of us using the net, whether we are users or content providers, to share in the rise and fall of the 'net's fortunes. If the net becomes clogged with too much high-bandwidth content, then we'll all suffer and will ALL be motivated to make improvements to the infrastructure. But I'll be damned if I will pay broadband prices to get dialup service speeds because AT&T thinks it needs more money for better service to me. I'm already paying for that quality of service.

Now let's talk about "fair use," ok? The DMCA is a terrible bill pushed through by lobbyists for the RIAA and MPAA. Now I read today that the Copyright Office of the Library of Congress says we can't rip DVD's to view on our iPods and the RIAA says that we can't consider ripping CD's for use on mp3 players "fair use," despite their OWN LAWYER saying last year:
"The record companies, my clients, have said, for some time now, and it's been on their website for some time now, that it's perfectly lawful to take a CD that you've purchased, upload it onto your computer, put it onto your iPod."
OK, which is it?

Look, it boils down to this, the same thing it always has in the past: The "haves" vs. the "have-nots." King George III said we, the people, couldn't declare our independence, too. Look where that got him.

These corporations have forgotten that the customer is always right. They're so focussed on fattening their profits that they're crushing the life (and the fun) out of the things they sell.

I'm not an advocate of ripping off these companies. As I said in a previous post, if you can't afford software, find a free or open source alternative.

But by the same token, if I have bought a cassette of "Lou Reed Live," I'll be damned if I'm going to buy a CD of it and then buy it again from iTunes to use on an iPod. I'll buy one copy and translate it into whatever form I need. It's mine, I paid for it, and I don't CARE if the RIAA likes it or not. Nor can they stop all of us.

It's this simple: It's them vs. us. As long as we continue with civil disobedience, they can't round up everyone and eventually they'll see the truth of our position.

Rock on!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Who's Lying?

Microsoft's president, Steve Ballmer, recently made comments that indicated that the agreement between his company and Novell was some sort of admission that Linux somehow violates Microsoft's patents. This, less than three weeks after the ink on the deal was dried.

In response, Novell's CEO posted an open letter to the open source community. In this letter, he denies that Novell made any such admission.

And Microsoft, of course, responded with a notice of their own, posted on their site, that states that while they believe that Linux has some areas of infringement, Novell made no such admission.

Who's telling the truth? Is someone here lying?

No, I don't think so. While I think Novell made a HUGE mistake getting in bed with Microsoft, I believe that both parties are reporting what they believe to be true. I'm sure that Novell had no intention of admitting any infringement. I'm also sure that Microsoft believes there is infringement (or will claim such in order to kill Linux).

It's unfortunate that this got into the press, but it shouldn't surprise anyone. I'm sure that it was always Microsoft's intention to garner negative headlines for Linux with this agreement. This is very similar to the SCO/IBM case, where SCO tried for some time to extort money from corporate Linux users and started a smear campaign against Linux in the press.

I'm afraid that Novell will realize, too late, that any positives that might have come from this agreement will be overshadowed by the amount of negative press that Microsoft will generate against Linux.

Novell, I hope you're really as committed to the open source community as you say. Keep your eyes open and don't trust Ballmer in the dark. You might find a shiv in your back.

Saturday, November 18, 2006


The second BBC series of the new Doctor Who started on the SciFi Channel this fall, and I must say, I'm very impressed with the new Doctor, David Tennant. If you haven't caught the show, you owe it to yourself to give it a go. Next week, the BBC America channel is starting with the first series (with Christopher Eccleston), so if you want to jump in and see the whole story, check it out.

By all accounts, David Tennant is very happy to be playing the Doctor, as he's signed contracts up through 2008! According to him, he's wanted to be an actor since he was 3 years old so he could play the Doctor! He grew up on Tom Baker's Doctor, as I did, and his characterization of the Doctor owes a lot to Baker. There is also a bit of Peter Davison in his Doctor (Tennant and Davison must have the same tailor, as they both favor long but fashionable coats).

Tennant appears briefly in the last Eccleston episode, during the regeneration. When the second series starts, with "The Christmas Invasion," Tennant is still in his jammies and robe, looking very much like Arthur Dent (and he makes a comment acknowledging this on the Sycorax space ship). Very nice to give "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" a wink!

I remember fondly watching Who episodes on the public TV station in Denver. In those days, each episode was about 20 minutes and you had to watch 5 episodes to get the whole story. What Fun! The Denver station ran all 5 back-to-back, so you'd watch the credits (with the great Who theme), a short few minutes of story, then the end credits (more music) and then the whole thing started all over. I started with Tom Baker and when he regenerated into Peter Davison, I kept watching.

The 1996 attempt to bring the Doctor to the USA didn't go over well, but the movie was good. I'm glad to have the Doctor back in Britain again, though. It's where he belongs and makes sense.

The Doctor is dead, long live the Doctor! "Fan-TAS-tic!"