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The Surf

I was reading an article on why DRM has always been a bad idea, with mounting evidence to show it when the following came to mind:

Spread out your arms to stop the waves
From crashing into your lovely little sand castle
And be vanquished by its might

Or swim out into the unknown waters
Tussle with the ever changing unmarked currents
Fight to stay afloat in these tides

And then turn shorewards once more
Rush in with the swell and the implacable force of nature
Ride in on a wave of victory

Voila.

Response to: You and Yours’ Learning Special

You and Yours (BBC Radio 4) is currently doing a Boxing Day Special on learning – I agree with a lot of what is being said, but I feel there’s one thing they skipped over: rather than being task focused in learning, it is important to first know why we’re learning… This is what I wrote to them via their website (though they’re not taking listener input this time around – probably a reduced team):

I am self taught in a number of disciplines. Some of these I started with a basic course before taking the rest on myself (programming, guitar), some I bootstrapped my learning using magazines and online articles (photography, cooking, singing, computer administration). I was, academically, not very proficient… at all.

I find that learning only happens properly when you want to answer a question – even if you start out wanting to learn about an entire field of knowledge (mathematics, nutrition, English, an instrument, the intricacies of opera and ballet…), it comes down really to want to answer a specific practical question you are curious about. Using an Internet search engine helps to find more words to ask about, find other connected ideas, and forums allow discussion – even better if you find people to talk to in real life.

And, as with all learning, questions beget questions and soon you’re learning more than you set out to….

Of nesting Latin grammar in English

Are you That Person – the one who insists “you mean, there are viri going round, not viruses?” Or that “a single piece of data is a datum.” Whooptidoo – you took Latin in First Grade and now you’re an expert.

I find it rather preposterous to make deliberate use of foreign grammatical rules in the middle of an English sentence, not to mention pompous trying to “correct” other peoples’ use by introducing such jarring disjunction.

Latin words in English are loanwords, as from any other language. The English language, as you might already know, has appropriated numerous words from all over the world, but has long treated them as English grammatically.

You never say that you’re going to order two pizze with your friends; nor do you complain about a single pieróg falling off your plate; news reports might talk about “tycoons” even though the original Japanese distinguishes plurality by context (like the word “sheep” in English); and popular parlance has people talking about French chateaus, instead of the châteaux (note that the “x” is silent, such that there is no phonetic difference between the singular and plural forms). Read more

BitTorrent Bundles – True Free Advertising is Just Around The Corner

BitTorrent is currently trialling their new “Bundles” file format and mechanism, which allows content creators to create packages for their work to be freely distributed.

Anyone receiving the work will be able to view some of it for free, then be asked to take action to unlock the rest of the content:

  • pay a fee
  • provide their email
  • share the work

I’m hoping that they’ll also include a “View item in store” option as a mechanism for unlocking the content, to give the sharing and viral marketing paradigm a real boost, and turn the face of online advertising on its head!

Thus, persons who specifically do not wish to pay money will still not have to, but ensuring a store link for that particular content (and not the artist in general) accompanies the piece in an otherwise free-distribution format

  1. allows sharers to share, and recipients still have a no-pay way of viewing the material
  2. enables artists to edge persons amenable to the idea of paying towards a store, removing the requirement of said consumers to proactively locate a retailer
  3. which subsequently would make the act of sharing a real free-advertising mechanism

This could work really well, so long as sharing gratis and libere is still possible, and if artists using this can provide direct access to the specific item in an international store.

Here’s to hoping!

 

Copyright Should Make Way for Creative Commons

Currently, “Copyrighted” is the default state of any creative piece. I think it is time this is changed to be Creative Commons – or something similar. I would distinguish also a right for a piece not to be spliced/abridged. Part of a set, do not distribute separately.

For one, this is the way fandoms view intellectual property, and, let’s face it – without fandoms, merch does not get sold. Additionally, it is through the enrichment of stories and content that better content is created.

I think of storytellers who retold and embellished other people’s stories, I think of folk songs passed down, re-interpreted and re-matched against other tunes, and a flurry of other great things that we’ve gotten from being free to rework, rehash and recombine, and then compare that against an imperative to ensure that only one body has the right to copy and distribute an expression for fear that it is inherently in the copying that money is to be made (a very Pre-War point of view).

Abiding by the book: in law, buskers playing popular songs are repeatedly breaching copyright, fan fictions are a theft of trademark, every design on TeeFury and other t-shirt site is a violation of rights on intellectual property. Taken to an alarmist extreme, referencing popular culture in a published or performed piece is potentially a breach of copyright (the walls surrounding fair use are not watertight – they’d need to be clear for starters).

I think we need to relax a bit. More money is wasted on legal battles than earned riding the waves of popularity and fandoms – who, by the way, really want other people to know about your material. Since we can’t simply say in court “Copyright sometimes applies,” I’d vote for more permissive licenses to be the legal standard. This does not exclude the ability to copyright a work, but a change would highlight the differences between the two licensing schemes, and open up further discussion as to what is really, truly necessary to foster creativity without causing the collapse of creative professions.

Olympic Committee Upholds Russia’s Anti-Gay Laws

Olympic Committee Upholds Russia’s Anti-Gay Laws

Cycling and Public Transport – no cars!

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-23657010

I’d be happy if the council heavily discouraged ownership and use private vehicles within Edinburgh, whilst at the same time starting a Council-led/funded scheme to facilitate the purchase for everyone of bicycles mounted with electric motors (to encourage even the most reticent).

This should leave only public transport and businesses with vehicles, and everyone else with greener, safer, healthier, less noisy, less obstructive, non-congestive cost-effective private transport. Extra motorization and rear-cars for families (motorized private rickshaws!)

Art – but no thought for money?

I often read quotes from successful artists – including writers – who insist that they started out with little income, if any, and that in working, they would give little consideration to money, if any at all.

But then I wonder, “if you were making as astoundingly little as you say, how the devil did you survive?

“How did you physically go about subsisting once you had decided that your artistic endeavours trumped all else, even if you may not make a dime from any of them?

“How much of it was down to shrewdness? How much came down to luck? And how much support did you get, from whom – and were they all willing supporters from the start? Or were you even one of those who had help thrust upon them before greatness?

“And, if it were your own dream-filled, bright-eyed, empassioned child you were to advise, and you hadn’t a penny or pencil left to give them yourself: would you recommend they walk that same path?”

I’m sure they mean to foster encouragement – but budding artists in their early days still have to face the fact that they need a plan that doesn’t involve “ditching” their current lifeline – and they’d love to hear how their heroes made it through.

Gaining the first popularity

After being led to the Ada Programming Language Wikipedia entry (and being impressed by what it offers and promises – it is designed for fail-safeness and robustness, and as such is used in satellites, military jets and orbital satellites), I wondered, why isn’t the language more popular, like the less effective and more error-prone C and C++ which are used for coding our operating systems, or Java/PHP/Ruby which power our interwebz?

A few forum posts exist about this, and numerous explanations abound, from petty whining (“everybody who tries it it hates it”) to accusatory (“it’s designed by a committee, and like Esperanto, nobody wants to use that”) through conspiracy theory (“it’s in the interests of repair & diagnostic/IDE vendors to make sure crappy languages persist”) and even via circular reasoning (“it’s not gained popularity because other languages are more in demand”). I kid you not.

In all of that, I only once noted one answer which hit a sensible mark: in a time when there wasn’t a prominent single language, due to the closedness of computer systems, hobbyists could only work with what was lying around, and there was no global applicability in any real sense [citation needed…], C came along and offered what nobody else was: a high-level language for low-level computing, a free compiler, and an operating system to use it on, in an ecosystem that promoted (at the time) code sharing. It was this seed traction that led to C being still the most popular language for system programming today.

Other languages have since risen, but the most popular, with the largest communities, still are application-level and web-oriented – not system level. In the midst of this, Ada still retains (bless or curse) its original image as the brainchild of the US Department of Defense’s brainchild, with little push to make it a business-systems or high-availability systems contender.

The onus then is on the existing Ada community to start building tools and libraries for newcomers to use. Newcomers like to feel invited in by pioneers.

“I need feminism because…”

This gallery contains 10 photos.

latentpower: awkwardsituationist: cambridge university students were asked on campus why they needed feminism. here are 60 answers. click the link for over about 600 more. This is amazing I’ve seen some of these, some of them are new to me and have put a couple of things in perspective… I’ll check the full 600 at

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