Thursday, October 30, 2008

With deal, Beatles songs may enter Digital Age

Songs that span throughout 'The Beatles' career may soon be put into the "Rock Band" game (by MTV/Harmonix)some time in 2009. MTV recently had a conference with Apple Corps, regarding the specifics of the game. Supposedly, this game will not follow the 'Rock Band' name, and instead will be called a 'Beatles Game', specifically and exclusively made for Beatles music. New visuals will have to be made to accomidate for the new Beatles game. A direct quote is: "a visual exploration of the Beatles imagery is a big part of the creative direction of the project" - I only imagine the psychadelic visuals that they would use for songs off of the "Yellow Submarine" album.

The two surviving Beatle members, Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr will help participate in the creation of this game. George Harrison's wife, Olivia Harrison - and John Lennon's wife, Yoko Ono, are also helping in the creation of this game (aspects such as the visuals and also design). Regarding the game, Paul McCartney said: " "a fun idea which broadens the appeal of The Beatles and their music,". As everyone (at least everyone who has played - or seen the game being played) knows, when you make a mistake, the instrument is muted in the game (which I personally think is pretty awesome). I don't play the game, so I can't say I'm excited about it at all, but I still think it would be neat (especially the visuals) to see how it all plays out. The original producer of the Beatles music, George Martin - and his son: Giles Martin are making last minute touches and adapting the game to be able to be used in Rock Band. The father and son team are trying their hardest to keep true to the original mixes.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Darpa Preps Son of Robotic Mule

Alright - Before anything, check out this video: I remember seeing it a long time ago and actually thinking it was pretty scary. Especially later on in the video when it starts running and jumping over obstacles. Imagine that chasing you with a gun mounted on it's back. This robot is made by the pentagon and called "BigDog quadruped machine". Whats even scarier is they want to modify it to make it a war machine - make it more durable, stronger, bigger, quieter and more intelligent. The main objective would be to help soldiers carry their baggage. Currently it can carry 300 pounds over a distance of 13 miles, but their final objective is to give it the capacity to carry 400 pounds over the distance of 20 miles on any terrain. As you can see in the video, the current version seems to work flawlessly in the snowy terrain, rocky terrain and even does a great job on the ice. I was shocked that it regained balance after slipping on the ice and being kicked.

The name of this machine (once upgraded) will be called "Legged Squad Support System" (L3). It doesn't seem to me that there is too much to upgrade. Seeing how well the "BigDog" handles tought terrains, I can't imagine they would have to do much more besides make it bigger - and find a way to make it less noisy. One issue to consider would be lugging around enough gas to last. The L3 is estimated to weigh 1250 pounds, but the weight of the extra gas would also have to be factored in. Other improvements they are seeking to add: the ability to sprint at 10 miles per hour, climb stairs (which it did an already good job of in the video), navigate via GPS waypoints, speech recognition and laser sensors.

Randall Munroe on Criminals

Randall Munroe, the writer of XKCD (from which this comic was borrowed – it’s under creative commons, of course), makes an interesting point. DRM, and all these other silly techniques of preventing us from sharing the things we buy, simply make us more and more inclined to pirate. Instead of driving us away from piracy with threats of fines and court, the people in charge of upholding copyright are simply creating an impassable labyrinth of twisted, crisscrossing traps. Sure, I suppose it makes sense, if you don’t try to apply it to people. But who’s going to want to buy a product that’s laced with all that junk? It’s not the same product, and it’s not really yours. Or at least, if it is yours, it’s only yours until your number of downloads runs out or you get a new computer. Most people will want to take the easier and more permanent products: the pirated ones. The legal companies suddenly get less service, and the pirating sites get more. That’s the very opposite of what all this protection is trying to do, but that’s really all it’s managing to achieve. I’m not sure if there’s anything the copyright protectors can do, without simply digging themselves into a deeper hole, but the tactic they’re going with right now just isn’t doing the trick.

Fruity Loops

Fruity loops, along with any other software that allows users to create and edit sound files, is a great way to open the musical world to those of us who would not normally be able to involve ourselves in it. It allows anyone to create music (or at least to try), and is not limited to actual musicians. Of course, this means that much of the material created with these programs is not actually good music, but it also provides the means for creative or musically inclined people to create music without actually having to write it on a staff or know anything about key signatures.I think this is a great way to avoid copyright infringement. If an aspiring screenwriter wants background music, he doesn’t need to pay for rights to preexisting songs, and he doesn’t need to pay musicians to create music for him. For 50 bucks, he can get a studio that makes all the music he wants, and it’s all copyrighted as his own work. Programs like these are of course extremely limited, but they are a good segue into more professional means, since they require very little effort or money on the part of the creator. The downside is that it’s easy for pirates to copy and edit the work of others, but I believe in this case the benefits of the program outweigh its faults.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Sir Ken Robinson: Society Today

Throughout all the recent videos we've watched in class, there seems to be a common trend with most. Between Cory Doctorow's lecture on the future, and Sir Ken Robinson's thoughts on kids and creativity, their common agreement on human intelligence and abilities to advances particularly stand out. 

During the Ted Talk, we see Sir Ken Robinson pick apart and examine how art and creativity in schools today are being brushed away and overshadowed by a more intense, "academic" path. He points out exactly how much we value education, for the wrong reasons.  Originality isn't determined by college professors, how many facts you know, or even the most impressive credentials. Instead, Robinson agrees that the most original and creative people are the ones who embrace failure the most. During the lecture he stated that those who are created, are those who are prepared to be wrong. However, he mentions that as soon as we grow up and begin to be educated from the waist up (half jokingly), we lose our capacity to be creative and branch out past what we know. Sir Ken Robinson also brought up a good point, if we don't know the future now, how can we raise the children of today for something we don't know?  Today's kids will grow up for the 2065 age, something we're far from predicting.  As far as education in academic fields, learning the value of art is just as important; the national education system just seems to be missing that.

A couple weeks earlier, we also viewed Cory Doctorow's lecture in Helsinki. Although Doctorow focused more on the power of self-determination and our technological world, it shadows what Sir Ken Robinson was getting through in his speech. Doctorow's thoughts embraced our power of self-determination and controlling our futures and technology. Without self-determination he notes it leaves us feeling helpless and unsatisfied with life. In fact, through self-determination we got the enlightenment, world progress, and commerce.  Things like cell phones and computers allow us to do things for our own sake and at the same time, contribute to our economy.

These two great thoughts by Doctorow and Robinson collectively point out what builds intelligence; creativity. The power of controlling our future and setting out for a world outside of the normal 'prestige' serves as the ultimate setup for success today. Look at successful people today, most of which have cultured and different backgrounds from most.  It's self acknowledgement/acceptance and empowerment which fuel the most creative minds today.                 

Monday, October 27, 2008

DMCA - The Law That Saved the Web

It was 10 years ago that a law was passed by Congress that was single handedly responsible for the explosion of the web. The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA stated in the title) “criminalizes production and dissemination of technology, devices, or services intended to circumvent measures (commonly known as Digital Rights Management or DRM) that control access to copyrighted works and it also criminalizes the act of circumventing an access control, whether or not there is actual infringement of copyright itself” according to Wikipedia.

The DMCA was also an important step in the development of the DVD.

The DMCA created the separate notice-and-takedown provision which also aided the growth of the internet. The provision grants immunity to so-called "intermediaries" or ISP’s. What this means if for example the company YouTube receives a notice from the copyright holder to take down a video, YouTube must comply. Instead of just suing a company for stealing intellectual property, those companies now have a fair warning before that company is prosecuted.

The article then goes to talk about a couple of examples of the new takedown procedure. In one court case, Universal Music issued a takedown notice to YouTube over a Pennsylvania woman's 29-second video of her toddler dancing to Prince's "Let's Go Crazy." After YouTube had taken down the video, the mother of the toddler sued the company for misuse of the DMCA. The judge in the case stated that Universal Music should have reviewed the facts before acting up. The McCain campaign even took notice to the case. McCain, a supporter of the DMCA act, has been “called out” for reusing snippets of broadcast news footage in his online campaign videos, which have been taken down off of YouTube.

The next part of the act is aimed to prevent the circumvention of intellectual property. The law dictates that "no person shall circumvent a technological measure that effectively controls access to a work protected under this title.” Over the years there have been exceptions added to the act. One of those exceptions allowed customers to switch phone carriers without buying a new phone.

Without the DMCA we would not be able to blog in our class. Everyone who has made a post on our blog (that includes myself) could be prosecuted. The DMCA allowed for the growth of creativity on the internet. It created popular sites such as Google, MySpace, Facebook and YouTube. If the DMCA act had not been created, I am sure that we would still be living a Big Brother society where we not be able to express ourselves over the internet.

Sir Ken Robinson

Sir Ken Robinson's presentation of how our educational systems squander our creativity as children is of course very interesting to someone like me who has just popped out of the k-12 series of grade levels and in to a new, but similar kind of educational establishment. I believe that all of what was said in Sir Robinson's presentation was true, and it leaves a pretty bad taste in my mouth to think of all that could've been if my learning experience for the past decade had been the way he had dreamed it.

His reference to Pablo Picasso was very interesting. He said, "All children are born artists. The problem is to remain an artist as we grow up." which makes perfect sense. All the imagination we had as kids, where the hell did it go? Think back to what your parents or your teachers told you when you did something maybe a little too creative, or made a mistake.

Everytime I try to think of a Sir Ken Robinson educational system I get a little sounds too good to be true. His educational system would be a lot different from our current one. It would probably be close to the opposite of what we have today, and I wonder how much it would differ from an educational system thats purpose would be to ready a child for the harsh, outside world. Would an educational system with the arts as the main, or one of the main curriculums help prepare a child for what is known as the real world. I think Sir Ken Robinson would say so but I'm not sure....It's just a thought though.

This presentation really opened my eyes a bit more about our misguiding our educational system is. I think every parent in the world should be forced to watch that video or something like it to reevaluate what they think parenting is about. Maybe in turn that will make the parents put their children in to schools with a broader curriculum. Its a start...

Tit-for-Tat extreme

Prof. Z has talked a bit about how eBay has changed the feedback system on their site. Before, both sellers and buyers could leave positive or negative feeback on buyers and sellers, respectively. While this system was still in place, the sellers were likely to get angry after recieving negative feedback, therefore giving their buyers bad feedback in retaliation.

Now, however, sellers can no longer leave negative feedback for their buyers. This is something that has caused the eBay sellers to file lawsuits on the buyers who leave bad comments.

Joel Jones filed a lawsuit against Chris Read after Read left less than desireable comments after buying something from Jones. Read bought a phone and was told that it was in good conditions. The product that came was in miserable condition and not even the model that Read thought he was buying. He sent it back to Jones and asked for a refund, and leaving negative feedback on eBay about the phone that was sent to him.

Jones gave Read his money back, but beforehand he claimed that the feedback left by Read was hurting his business and his sales were down. He threatened to take Read to court if he didn't delete the comments, but Read responded telling him that if court was the next step, he was willing to go there. Jones believes that giving Read the refund should have merited positive feedback, telling reporters that Read's comments were uncalled for.

Court was what Read got. Lawsuits as a result of sellers not being able to give their buyers feedback may have an effect on how many people actually buy on eBay. This would be disastrous for the people who's business is to sell online. If sellers attacking buyers through legal action continues, then who knows what will happen to eBay!

Review -- "Flat World Knowledge: an open-source textbook revolution?"

For direct link to original article, click title.

I know I'm not the only person who felt totally robbed by the school bookstore right before fall semester started. I'm actually looking at my receipt right now, and the total for all of my textbooks came out to $647.50. What a scam. I'm just not going to buy any books next semester. Kidding.. kind of.. This article made me slightly bitter (if you couldn't tell by my introduction). It discusses the launch of a website called Flat World Knowledge, which provides "high-quality" textbooks free of charge. It's really too bad it started up only this past September; had it been established a couple months earlier, maybe I wouldn't have had to spend SO MUCH MONEY on textbooks (and as a side note: of the 5 textbooks I've bought, I only use 1).
Prentice Hall Business Publishing is one of the top publishers of textbooks in the country. Their Director of Marketing Eric Frank quit the company he had been working under for 11 years to found Flat World Knowledge. Not surprisingly, his idea of providing textbooks for free online confounded many of his colleagues. Frank's line of reasoning that led him to founding Flat World Knowledge was simple: the current college textbook system is, frankly, hated by everyone. Students hate the fact that textbooks run, on average, $100 a pop. What makes them even more miserable is that as soon as they buy a textbook, a new edition for said book is already in the making, and any shred of hope they had for buy-back is lost. It only makes sense that students think that this process of constantly updating books as a way of keeping textbooks unreasonably expensive. There is a correlation between how upset the students are over the price of their outdated textbooks and how upset their professors become when students try to get away with not purchasing the material for their classes. No one is happy. Furthermore, the less number of students purchase textbooks, the less faculty authors are compensated for their work, and the whole education system turns into a disaster simply because textbooks are always expensive and usually in the process of becoming outdated (so I may have exaggerated for the sake of making a point, but at least we're all on the same page?).
Why exactly did Eric Frank leave Prentice Hall to start Flat World Knowledge as an entirely new and different company? If he was one of the top guys at PH, why didn't he just propose to launch Flat World Knowledge as a branch of the already existing, already successful company? The answer is simple: the "dead-tree" traditional publishing world is too fixed in it's system to revamp any of itself in order to even consider the idea of free textbooks provided over the web.
Not only does Flat World Knowledge license the books and send it through editing and peer review, and give all this work away at no cost online, it also provides study guides/aids and services (at some fee, but can anyone really complain about that at this point?). However, here's where all this of relates to our FSEM: Eric Frank and partner Jeff Shelstad are designing Flat World Knowledge as an open source software publisher. "In addition, teachers could edit, delete, and remix textbooks so that the books precisely match the teacher's approach to a course." I can't help but admire the ingenuity of Frank and Shelstad's idea here. This is an actual application of Matt Mason's "Pirate's Dilemma" without.. any dilemma, and it's totally respectable and completely practical.
Frank and Shelstad hope that Flat World Knowledge will serve to satisfy every level of the educational heirarchy. Professors have immediate access and a great degree of control over the material they want to cover in their classes, students pay less to learn the same material, and revenues for faculty authors increase.
As a new company with an unheard of innovative mission statement, Flat World Knowledge is undoubtedly going to run into a lot of problems. Current online textbooks are thought to be "expensive and impractical for a large portion of the student population", so to convince everyone that Flat World Knowledge will be otherwise is one task Frank and Shelstad will need to overcome. They'll also have to persuade authors the benefits of providing their work for free online (if I were an author, I would not buy into the idea even with all this knowledge..). Flat World Knowledge's main pitch is that they're all about the authors, rather than the brand name.
All I can say is: Good luck, guys. I hope Mary Washington starts using this website.. sometime in the next 2 months.. ugh.

sir ken robinson

I enjoyed Sir Ken Robinson's video about creativity and the arts and how they should be taught in schools. I thought all of his points about the arts being an essential part of education were very valid. Speaking from my life, the arts have had a big role in my development as a person and education. Having the arts being a part of education creates a more well rounded society and can spark more creative interest. The arts are an invaluable part of our lives, weather it be music, dance, or visual art. Again, speaking from a personal standpoint, the arts have taught me to be confident speaking in front of a crowd and how to express my viewpoints. This is why i completly agree with Sir Ken Robinson that the arts should be a necessicary part of everyones education.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Sir Ken Robinson: Do schools kill creativity?

In this video, Sir Ken Robinson spoke about human creativity in general, and how it is being destroyed by schools. He initially mentioned the ingrained innovation and creativity that children have which are seen as unessential by the education system - but Sir Ken Robinson thinks it should be seen as important as literacy. He brought up the point that children are not afraid of being wrong, and they are fine with taking chances if they do not know exactly what to do. Sir Ken Robinson then said "If your not prepared to be wrong, you will never come up with anything original", and says that as we grow up, we become more afraid of being wrong. Tying this in with education, he said in our current education system, making mistakes are deemed unacceptable - thus taking away our creativity from the time we enter school.

I always have loved doing all forms of art as a hobby, but i hated art in school (along with every other subject). It was very easy to be wrong in art, at least with the teacher I had. I never did feel really comfortable with doing what I wanted and having fun in class, I always worried about meeting the teachers unclear expectations and tight deadlines. Art is probaly my favorite thing to do, but was my least favorite class in high school. Sir Ken Robinson then followed with a quote from Picasso, saying "All children are born artists; the problem is to remain an artist as we grow up". I personally think this is a great quote

Sir Ken Robinson describes this process as being 'educated out of it'. A large reason for this happens to be due to the hierarchy of subjects in all education systems, with the arts always being on the bottom (there is also a hierarchy within the arts: art and music is higher than drama and dance). Sir Ken Robinson’s opinion regarding this is that the arts should be equal to other academic subjects in the hierarchy. Many people don’t pursue their interests in fear that they cannot make a living with it. Sir Ken Robinson states that we know three things about intelligence: (1) It is diverse (2) it is dynamic (3) it is distinct. Composer John Phillip Sousa similarly shared the idea that our creativity is being destroyed - in the case of Sousa, he believed that new technology (at the time - 'talking machines') were destroying our creativity.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Ken Robinson: Do schools kill creativity?

Ken Robinson begins his speech by addressing human creativity. He identifies the mystery of creativity for the future. Robinson continues to state how much creativity is limited due to work in education. Even if a child has a talent, schools have learned to hide and hinder their talent. Robinson believes creativity is just as important in school as academics. I really enjoyed all the stories about the little kids, especially the story of the little girl drawing a picture of God. It showed that the creativity in some kids have not been completely limited be education from schools. I like that Robinson touched upon the fact that like kids (and almost all humans) make mistakes and that people should take chances. Robinson states that one should always be prepared to be wrong, try things out, and be ready to make mistakes. One cannot learn from mistakes if they don’t keep trying. Robinson tells his audience not to associate creativity with mistakes, but he does state that if one isn’t prepared to be wrong than one cannot be creative and come up with anything original. I really like the Picasso quote Robinson used in his speech that “all children are born artists,” but “to remain an artist as we grow up.” Robinson states that people are “educated out of it.” A person’s artist is than lost, and thus, their creativity. Robinson addresses that every education system around the world as the same hierarchy that begins with mathematics and languages, then the humanities, and then the arts. Within the arts, drama and dance is usually the bottom. Education focuses mainly on one’s head and their brain. Robinson states education system is developed by academic ability because of one’s ability to get a job. One would take a subject to help them get a valuable job for the future. Robinson states that now with academic inflation, students are required to have much more than just a degree in order to get a job. There are many new requirements that disable students from getting jobs. Robinson defines creativity as the process of having original ideas that have value. I think Robinson used the right amount of personal experiences in order to display his thought process and verbalize his stream of consciousness. I really liked the story about Gillian Lynne. The story was about how Gillian was fidgety as a child; one might consider her to be ADHD. Gillian went to see a specialist with her mother. The specialist spoke to Gillian’s mother about how she was always disturbing people and not turning in her homework on time and just a very hyper energetic girl. When the specialist took Gillian’s mother out of the room to talk to her privately, the specialist turned on the radio while leaving. Gillian started moving to the music as soon as they left the room. The specialist concluded that she’s a dancer and that she must be taken to a dance school. So her mother did take her to a dance school. In order to think, she had to think in the way she knew, which was to dance. Some teacher could have told her to calm down by giving her medication or by hindering her spirits, but instead this teacher told her to explore her talents. Gillian Lynne became very successful with her career in dance and later discovered the Gillian Lynne dance school, amongst other accomplishments. Robinson concludes his speech by stating that parent’s duty is to educate their children in order for them to face the future without them, and to make something out of their future.

Sir Ken Robinson

This is for the videos we watched in class. I believe Ken Robinson has a point, and its something I've thought about for years. Its not the simple excuse,"When am I ever going to use this?" That was an excuse coined by students when they weren't doing well in math or science. Its more than that.

The subjects taught in schools these days are very similar to what was taught a long time ago, when if you didn't go to school, you didn't have a job. The bar has been raised since then. It became you had to go to college to get a job, then get a masters, or a doctrine. But, once everyone has those, who gets the jobs? There has to be something else other than being 'well trained'.

It seems to me that the school systems now are very outdated. We've been trained to think that we can't make a living being an artist, a sports player, a performer, or anything involving some kind of creativity or natural talent. Yes, there are people who are naturally talented at math, science, and english, but what about the other 'subjects' in school that are being thrown out because they 'aren't beneficial to the studen't?' Why isn't art class beneficial? Why is it that students can't learn something in gym class or drama? The truth is, WE CAN. Its old people from an era thats long past who say we can't, and therefore these areas are ignored and deemed unnecessary.

Also, every student is different, and schools are hypocritical when they say that they cater to each students individual needs. What about the student who's an artist but sucks at math? Or the one who can write songs but has trouble in science? And the soccer player that struggles in english? Not everyone can be good at everything, but everyone can be good at something. Why not 'train' them to excel in their strongest area rather than to be book-smart? Its not that the other subjects aren't important, but some people do lack any kind of affinity for science or english.

I agree with Sir Ken Robinson whole-heartedly. Younger generations are growing out of their creativity, and its not their fault. Parents and whoever run the school programs are taking the focus off of creative arts and placing it on generic subjects to prepare students for so called jobs, or college.

Its just like read-only culture vs read-write culture. The ability and freedom to express creativity is being taken away, and eventually, we won't be able to do anything, no matter how innovative.

That's all, folks!

Virtual theft can have real life consequences

Link to original blog: here

We've talked a lot about pirating content from the web. Pirates that are caught are harshly punished (way too harshly). The concept of punishing pirates for stealing songs or music or other such content makes sense, however what about items that are purely virtual? Such as items in an online game. If someone were to steal something from you in a game, should that person be punished (in the real world)?

One Dutch court said yes. The case was that two boys threatened a third to give them his virtual items in the on-line game Runescape. The third boy did end up giving them his items and then ended up suing them for the theft. The dutch court ruled in favor of the third boy and sentenced the other two (thieves) to about 200 hours of community service each.

The idea of punishment for theft of intangible things on the web brings an interesting idea to mind. If the law starts to branch out to cover things that are intangible then online thieves would start to be punished more often and maybe more harshly.

This mindset would support the way that record companies have been pursuing pirates. If a pirates downloads an entire CD then that is the same as if that pirate had gone to a music store and stole a copy of that same CD.

I completely disagree with this concept. If you 'steal' something on the web you are taking a copy of it. So the copy you have would not exist if you had not gotten it, so no loss has been made from the seller of that CD. However the pirate should still be punished, but on a much smaller scale. Like in the example of the Runescape case, the administrators of that game could have merely given the third boy his items back and deleted the items from the first two boys and then given them some sort of suspension or ban from the game. The threatening that the two boys did is something that is deserving of a harsh punishment like community service, but the punishment from the Dutch court was merely for the theft of the virtual items not the threatening.

Has Creativity Been Transformed?

Has creativity declined over the past couple of years? As we as a human race get older do we lose our creative edge? John Phillip Sousa was one of the first to preach his worries for the new technology wave. He preached that the invention of the voice box would keep everyone from expressing themselves in public. Lawrence Lessig was the next to preach of the change from read-write to read-only culture. What he meant was how our society started off looking listening to a song and then just adding to it. Nowadays there are many laws that prohibit you from adding just the smallest beat to a song without you getting sued. Over time I wouldn’t say that creativity has been discouraged but transformed. For instance, Bunnie Huang was able to reverse engineer an Xbox just for fun. However if he had made his knowledge public in a way that it would cripple Microsoft (the makers of the Xbox) he would have been prosecuted.

Our most recent videos are two more examples of how creativity has transformed through the ages. The first video we watched was of a beat boxer. It primarily involves the art of producing drum beats, rhythm, and musical sounds using one's mouth, lips, tongue, voice, and more (Wikipedia dictionary). Even though these sounds have been around for awhile, it wasn’t until recent years that artists have been able to add all these elements and turn them into a performance.

The next video presented the question: do schools kill creativity? Through our schooling we have been taught to be well trained and book smart, but will these skills help us out in the real world. When we were younger our creative “wingspan” was endless. We would have the tendency to create make believe games and to guess when we didn’t know the answer. Over time people have become quieter and when asked a question that they didn’t know, they simply would not reply. Sir Ken Robinson then gets into his idea of “education inflation.” In the early days you only went to college if you were at the top of your class. Now it seems like there a school after High School for everyone. Robinson states that there will be more students graduating from college this year more than any other year in history. Has a college degree lost its meaning? Nowadays it seems like the elite are found at graduate, medical, law, or other professional school. If this metaphorical inflation continues will those professional schools end up becoming the norm? Will there a system of schooling after graduate school? Will having your PhD be not enough in the future? How can schools teach for the future if they don’t even know how life will be then?

Has creativity been transformed through the years? Has this new wave of technology been for the good of our society? I believe that any creativity is good for us.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Robinson Video


Robinson's main topic for this video was creativity and its role, or lack there of, in modern day education. He starts out by saying that all children are born with a lot of creativity and, due to society and the way the education systems around the world are built, grow out of it over time. Robinson says that around the world school systems concentrate mainly on the 'non-creative' subjects such as: math, science, history, etc... and all arts, such as: dance, theatre, music, etc... are seen as secondary skills. Robinson proposes that the "secondary" skills should be given just as much attention as the "primary" skills, and that all children should be educated in them as well.

He goes on to say that the reason the system was built the way it is was to facilitate the Industrial revolution, to get literate people able to do tasks to further Industry. But now working for a big company (or industry) is not the only choice for career opportunities, people can be whatever they want to be, but the way they were educated makes them afraid to do so. One of the more interesting points he made about education and its apparent goals (to an outsider who has no idea what the education system is for) is that public education seems to exist to produce university proffessors; they seem to be the highest goal to attain in the education system.

Finally Robinson closes with a case of modern day creativity crushing. He talks about a women who is very successful at being a dancer and coriagrapher, and how she first found out that she wanted to dance. When she was a little girl she couldn't sit still and pay attention to anything so her mom took her to a doctor who deduced that she was a natural born dancer. Now a days if the same scenario had occured the doctor would put her on medication and, as Robinson put it, "tell her to calm down". So, who knows how many creative geniuses are being told to "calm down" instead of doing what they want to do.

Apple on the offensive

Anyone who watches television will have seen the Apple commercials, you know the ones starring Justin Long (i believe?) and "Windows man", In which Long represents a Mac and Windows man represents, well, Windows. The commercials used to focus mainly on positive features of the Apple platform, portraying Windows man as absent minded and lacking. However, a recent commercial takes on a more offensive overtone. We see the Windows man at a table sorting through stacks of bills. On one side is a massive stack, on the other side is a diminutive stack, and in the middle is the remaining stacks to be sorted. The larger stack represents money Windows spends on advertising, whereas the smaller stack represents money spent on improving Window's technology. I find this commercial to be similar to a campaign ad: Negative and most likely false. We all know Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft. He's the wealthiest man in the world. Windows could purchase every available commercial slot on every network and still have billions to devote to improving technology. Sure they have started advertising alot (and I loved the Gates/Seinfeld commercials), but to attempt to portray them as a company spending more on advertising than their products is ludicrous. And what are the problems associate with Vista? As a Vista user, I am more than satisfied with its capabilities and ease of use, and these commercials aren't going to change my mind. And that sommercial didn't help. If Apple really wants to compete with Windows, they should ditch the old commercials and head down a more progressive pathway, like Windows did.
Topic for comment- discussion: What do you like/dislike about your OS?

TED Talks: Ken Robinson

For direct link to video, click entry title.

This was the best video I've seen in our class thus far.
Ken Robinson is an amazing speaker.
Sir Robinson's talk delves into what he views as the critical shortcoming of every education system in the world: creativity is grossly depreciated while uniformity and correctness are overvalued. This point is brilliantly underlined when he correlates this problem to the problem of "intelligence inflation"; that degrees no longer guarantee jobs, and kids who obtain degrees end up going home to continue playing videogames. It could not be truer - there are so many stu
dents out there who graduate college with good grades, and are without a job. The combination of cut-throat academic programs now offered at every college and the tightness of the job market results in a surplus of people with the same socioeconomic backgrounds and the same knowledge. The universal, conventional form of educating people through grammar school, high school, and college has become obsolete. This method no longer automatically warrants success.
How could it be otherwise? In a system where each student it educated through the same lectures and the same exams, the outcome can be none other than the same people with varying skill levels for the same jobs. Ken Robinson notes that intelligence today is being
squandered through this dated mode of producing successful individuals. Schools need to focus on the diversity and the distinction of each and every student. If being creative were as prioritized as being literate, the world would have a sudden influx of people who are specialized in doing something both different and useful. I think one of the big points Sir Robinson was trying to make is that no one standard can exist to critique everyone. Each person needs to be diagnosed to his or her own (e.g.: Gillian Lynne).
My favorite quote from the video was, "If you're not prepared to be wrong, you'll never come up with anything original". The fear of making mistakes or breaking a rule has led schools to teach straight out of test books, give standardized exams, and suppress artistic and creative endeavors (this is a sweeping generalization, but bear with me for the sake of making a point). There is just entirely too much uniformity among the candidates for different jobs.
The above quote seems pertinent to what we've been stud
ying in class this semester. In regard to mashups and remixes, there's are certain lines of legality that one has to cross in order to produce something creative and original (if you consider re-writes of original pieces original). Topics we've discussed such as free culture (Matt Mason's "Pirate Dilemma") and reverse engineering are all huge benefactors in promoting creativity and originality. In a sense, copyright laws and Microsoft making XBox modding illegal can be made analogous to the education systems that Sir Robinson discusses: they all suppress our culture's ability to further our creative potential, and have become obsolete. Today, it is imperative that our generation steps up to the bar in correcting recreating and restructuring both how we receive knowledge and by what means it can be legally applied to further advance ourselves in every aspect of our lives.
I'm sorry this entry had so much cheese. Let's chalk it up to that undeniable moment of inspiration I had after watching TED Talks with Ken Robinson.

YouTube; A Good Intermediary

All too often, we are constantly subjected to the powers of internet intermediaries, leaving us confused and frustrated.  So many copyright laws, fair use controversies, and ethical controversy frequently blur and smear the lines of creativity/usefulness and legalities on the web.  However, when these intermediaries act in ways of sharing, like wikis, and useful platforms don't abuse their authority and monitor what exactly is free to post and what is not, we find these sites all entirely useful in ways of spreading knowledge and creativity throughout the world.  

On a recent YouTube video post, Students for A Free Tibet posted a video portraying one of their protests at the Chinese consulate in New York.  The video included content relating to the Beijing Olympics and opinion against China's human rights record.  Obviously upset, the International Olympic Committee filed a takedown of the video, and soon enough it was ultimately removed.

Later, after reviewing more about why the content was removed, YouTube questioned the Olympic Committee, asking them if they actually planned on pursuing the claim behind this video.  If the Committee wasn't planning on further investigations, YouTube requested that they take down the notice/request of the takedown.  Soon enough, the video was reposted. 

Incidences like this show that sharing platforms not only exercise their rights to take down unwanted videos/information but also are doing things to help promote the better things for the people.  In this case, YouTube used the the power of free speech and fair use in defense of the public, which was pretty cool.  However, it should be taken into consideration the exact motives of YouTube to keep videos like this up on the internet.  It may be because of some advertising or video count, who knows...  Hopefully, YouTube did something to support internet sharing databases.                  

Sir Ken Robinson review blog

Sir Ken Robinson starts off by talking about how important creativity is, and how much of any appreciation he has in education.  The reason in which he thinks education is so important is because it is education that is meant to take us into the future that we cannot grasp.  Even though he views education as extremely important, he also thinks that schools are killing creativity.  Kids have such brilliant minds, and are capable of so many things, however, he thinks that schools are not doing enough to help in ways that they should be.
I agree with Robinson when he says that creativity is as important in education as literacy is.  A great point that he makes is that if we are not prepared to be wrong, we will never be creative.  What this means is that if we only follow what we know to be true, then how are we going to ever be creative?  Every child is born creative, however we are educated out of it.  This is because we grow up in a society where the worst thing you can do is make a mistake.  With everyone being frightened of making a mistake, everyone will only be following what they know to be true, thus, no one will be creative by the time that they are an adult.
The kids that grow up thinking that they are bad at school, are just bad at the things that are so profoundly professed and may actually be good that the things that are over looked and that are just as important.  And Robinson thinks that we cannot afford to go on that way.
We need to radically re-think our view of intelligence.  We know three things about intelligence, and they are: intelligence is diverse, intelligence is dynamic, and intelligence is distinct.  Just because someone isn't great at a particular part of learning doesn't mean that they cant be good at another.  A perfect example that he gives is of the girl who was thought to have a learning disorder, because she couldn't sit still in class.  The teacher even talked to her parents saying that she needs to see a specialist.  So her parents took her to see a specialist and they observed her.  What the specialist said was that there was nothing wrong with her, just that she was a dancer.  People now are so easy to say someone has a learning disorder, instead of looking for what they are really good at within another type of learning.
Overall i agree with Robinson that learning is very important, however, a different type of learning may need to be observed.  Not just the mathematics and sciences and things of that nature, but also the arts because they are just as important.  The only way in which we can change our future is to change the ecology of human nature, and to re-think the way we are fundamentally educating our kids.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Netflix 3rd quarter profits

Mkay so this ones real.

According to Yahoo! news, the online movie rental site Netflix profit rose 30 percent over the past three months, even with the economy in its current state. The article explains that people are "cutting corners" in my opinion this means instead of paying upwards of 7 $ a person to go to the movies lets say once a week, instead they spend significantly less to view a netflix movie where they can also save on snacks, and watch as many times as they want with as many people as they want. The article also explains Netflix's busniess plan for the upcoming quarters. they want to rent many more blu ray dicks, and charge a 1$ surcharge for people to rent the HD blu ray disks. They belive that because of the economy, the blu ray player will continue to cheapen in price and therefore more people will buy them. From my personal expeicnce, the only people with blu ray players are the owners of PS3's, which are able to play blu ray disks. Netflix would make much more money if they slow the development of their blu ray rental program and stick to dvd's. Also, Netflix is investing more in the online streaming portion of their website. This is helpful and easy because it provides over 12000 movies and tv shows at NO extra cost to subscribers. ( they could make more money if the coustomer gained permant acess to the movie, like itunes). anyway, this proves that people are spending less and will seek to cut costs in entertainment, which provides more revenue for media viewing stuff.

I would like to talk about a website that I use, called As you can probably tell from the name, is a torrent tracker community, such as the Pirate Bay, Torrentportal, and others. While these types of sites are seen as internet dens of inequity, offers the music enthusiast something different. Kraytracker is a tight, secretive community. Users must be invited by another user, and invites are only open for a small period each year. I would post a link, but you would only be able to see the login page. Nonusers can’t even explore the site. This in itself is a safeguard for its users, because the registration simply cannot be obtained. also has this important tool called the “Kraydar”. Kraydar is a database of albums flagged as unsafe for upload, and includes, but certainly is not limited to, any artist represented by the RIAA. Users cannot upload such albums, or they will receive a permanent ban (and becoming re-instated could take months). The result is a tracker community consisting of independent artists, and unconventional music that could never be found on a large, open community such as The Pirate Bay. is a safe community in which punk, ska, reggae, rap, emo, and even things such as techno and dance enthusiasts can find music they like. I have downloaded hundreds of albums from this site, and several have led to purchases from bands I particularly enjoy. is a website that provides many of these artists something they could almost never achieve: exposure.

late complaints

Now this may be a bit late, but I would like to discuss my thoughts on the Obama/Biden rally. Two words come to my mind when I reflect on this event: Logistical…………..nightmare. I, and I’m sure many of you, were very surprised to wake up and find that your campus looked more like D.C. than Fredericksburg, with street vendors and throngs of people everywhere, as well as campaign merchandise everywhere the eye can see. But that wasn’t part of the nightmare, that was expected. I’m sure many of us attempted to attend the rally, but were hindered by the line starting at Virginia Hall. Mind you, this line was not the short distance from Virginia to Ball Circle, but it proceeded down Sunken (I believe), up William, and from College avenue into the Campus. My friends and I cut into the line on campus, to jeers and confrontation from those around us, and after explaining that we were students and had the right to get into our own grounds, left voluntarily to wait with our other friends. Did the moderators of this event actually think a line of this magnitude, which never seemed to shrink, would fit into Ball Circle? I hope not. Now I never got in to the rally, as well as many of you I’m sure. You would think the moderators could have started telling people not to get in line before waiting two or three hours for nothing. And let’s not forget the trash issue. Could UMW really not think to place extra trash cans for the 30,000 people that showed up? I had a picture of a trash can completely engulfed by garbage, with a 3 foot wide circle of garbage piled around it. Two extra trash cans in this area would have solved the problem. The event, in its aftermath, left Ball Circle much like the operations of D-day left the beaches of Normandy. Enough said. My final complaint is that, in hosting an event that created so much hassle for its students, and ravaged the campus, UMW could have at least seen to it that its students GOT IN to the event.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Microsoft gets patent for real-time f-bomb bleeping

In 2004, Microsoft applied for a patent for real-time censoring of audio streams, and now, they have been granted that patent by the USPTO.  What does this mean for Microsoft users? Everyone knows that beating other players online is much more satisfying than beating a computer in a video game, and know a days, you can talk to people, as if they were in the same room as you.  This has caused a huge audience of users to compete online against other players.  With the anonymous nature of the internet and of online Xbox communication, this means that you are going to play against people who will not be filtering what they say.  Cuss words are a very common thing to encounter while playing Xbox Live.  The gamer who is cussing however is most likely a young kid, who still thinks its funny to cuss at and insult people, but in the future, you may not have to worry about this any more.

This patent involves a real-time analysis of the audio stream, which will be able to recognize inappropriate language based on phonemes (the smallest phonetic unit in a language that is capable of conveying a distinction in meaning), and then it will overwrite these inappropriate words with bleeps, noises, or a silence.

With this new technology, is it possible to create other uses for it?  I think in the future, live television shows will actually be live, but still be protected from the FCC, but also it could possibly reach cell phones.  Cell phones are great for talking to people about how you really feel about something, but if this new technology were to be incorporated into future devices, it could put a damper on the realness of cell phone conversations.

Big Brother is listening (and grabbing): Sony's new PS3 ToS

On Friday, Playstation 3 gamers received an e-mail from Sony, informing them that the terms of service on their console has been changed.  It states "If you do not agree with the revised Terms of Service and User Agreement, please contact Customer Service to terminate your account(s).  Otherwise, your or your Sub Accounts continued use of your Playstation(R)Network accounts means you agree to the changes".  Basically what this is saying that either you agree to their rules or you terminate your account.

There are so many new restrictions and rules on these new policies, that it is just ridiculous how little freedom its users have now.  The terms go on to state that you should be of legal age to hold the main account on the system, and if you are under the age of 15, you should be kept to a sub-account. Sony is so concerned about being sued because of children possibly seeing or hearing inappropriate things while they are playing games online, it is trying to act like your mother or father, by suggesting an age limit.  Sony goes on to say that they have the right to keep records of anything you say or do online, and that they now have the right to listen in.  Any data, such as your online ID, and your IP address, may be used to protect the interest of SCEA (Sony Computer Entertainment America), its users, or licensors.  Now, while playing online, it is no longer safe to discuss with other players ways in which they have modded their games, or about their custom firmware. 

Perhaps the most ridiculous part of the new agreement, however, is the inability to re-download your video content.  Sony protects itself again by saying once you download something, it has no responsibility for the data.  Sony says "You bear all risk of loss for completing the downlaod of any content and for any loss of content you have downloaded, including any loss due to a file corruption or hard drive crash. You are solely responsible for the storage and safekeeping of your content."  This now makes video purchases a bad idea, because you cannot re-download your content if anything happens to it, and also Sony does not have to help you if their hardware goes bad.  This is just stupid, they are basically saying that its alright if you have problems, because they are not Sony's problems.  "No warranty is given about the quality, functionality, availability or performance of PSN, or any content offered on or through PSN...SCEA assumes no liability for any inability to purchase access to or use any content."

The last section of the user agreement that was heavily changed has to do with user created content.  With new games such as LittleBigPlanet, which will be released soon, and Guitar Hero: World Tour, which allow you to create your own levels or songs, Sony now has the right to take whatever you have created, and cannot be caught in a legal battles.  According to the user agreement, you make it, they own it.

Overall, this updated user agreement, is crazy, ridiculous and over the top.  This user agreement exists for one specific reason, which is to cover Sony's butt in avery was possible.  While they may be covered in the ways stated earlier, they will probably see declines in video sales, and any other download sales.  I personally hope that they lose a serious amount of money, and have to re-write this agreement because what they have done is extremely unfair to its users.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

McCain seeks special 'fair use' copyright rules for VIPs

Just recently some of John McCain's videos were pulled off of youtube, due to copyright infringements. McCain has just discovered the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Which forces remixers to prove their work as a "fair use".  McCain is now calling for VIP treatment instead of reforming the much hated law. He feels that there should be special treatment for the remixes made for political campaigns. He wants all campaign videos to be manually viewed by a human youtube employee before removing the remix. McCain sent a formal letter to youtube asking them to consider this new review policy. Larry Lessig made a comment on the letter saying that it was a "fantastic letter", adding " bravo to the campaign" which he stated in his blog. Since the sending of the letter, the tech press has been pretty supportive of McCain's idea. Now the question here is wether McCain realizes that fair use claims are an uphill battle or is McCain wanting special treatment for his campaign? Should congressmen and other politicians get special treatment in the area of copyright? They already receive special treatment by being able to bypass TSA security. Maybe McCain should call for the reform of the entire copyright world instead of just insisting on special treatment for politicians. This would benefit the entire remix culture. 

'Net filters "required" for all Australians, no opt-out

Earlier in 2007 the Australian government announced that there would be a continent-wide network filter that would keep citizens from accessing illegal content such as pornographic material inappropriate for children and content that is potentially hazardous. Just recently it was released that Australians were not going to be able to completely opt out entirely from the Australian cyber safety plan as they were originally led to believe. The specific filtering requirement implementations, the government says, is going to cost AUS$189 million. These filtering requirements on ISP's would have to use the Australian Communication and Media Authorities Blacklist, which is a list of the restricted websites. They first began testing the system at the beginning of this year contrary contrary to the public outcry. At first the government stated that if the user wished they could obtain unfiltered connectivity by requesting it thus bypassing the filtering system in its entirety. It turns out now that the users will no matter what be able to bypass the internet blacklist which in addition to the basic filter, filters the content not safe for children as well as content deemed illegal. The public finds "illegal" to be a very broad definition and wonders how the government will classify its "illegal content". The government had run tests in 2006 which concluded that the ISP filtering was not cost not effective and very expensive. The government is ignoring their own test results and going through with it.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Selling Used CDs

Last spring, the record industry lost a battle of legality over the issue of reselling used CDs.  The result was groundbreaking.  To be fair however, if we look back on the industry's history, fairness wasn't always portrayed as their best quality either.  In July of 2000, 28 states filed suit against the five largest record companies and two music retailers for the conspiracy of fixed CD prices.  Capitol Records, Sony Music, BMG Music, Universal Music, and Warner Music were all charged with these allegations.  Not only did the record industries once try to manipulate the consumer's right to fair and free competition, remember when Sony went so far as to invade privacy by embedding software in CDs?  The point is, music hasn't always been fair in the past.  

Going back to the case of the record industry protesting the reselling of used/promotional CDs, the case was ultimately lost, and the court deemed the reselling of CDs to be legal.  More specifically, the final decision stated that those who receive used/promotional CDs are free to dispose of them how they want.  It was ruled that, "that the purported EULA included by UMG did not create a “license,” nor does it allow UMG to retain any control over the promotional CD. UMG gave away these CDs, and those who receive them are free to dispose of them as they see fit."  CDs are CDs, no matter if their promotional ones or not.  If distributors were that upset at people reselling them, they should figure out a way around those issues.  Simply circulating free CDs and banning people from selling them isn't going to work so well.  

As I see it, music isn't any different than items being sold in a pawn shop.  You know that many items ending up in pawn shops are sometimes stolen or at least don't have the most clear history.  It's the same with resold CDs.  And how about CDs that aren't being sold any longer?  Consumers are forced to buy off of somebody else in order to discover music.  And it all too often happens to be the best kind of music, the rediscovered by newer generations.  If these rules apply to resold CDs, then why shouldn't the reselling of records be challenged as well?  The fact is, music is meant to be shared and big record companies looking for money shouldn't be able to tell consumers what they can and cannot sell for their own good.  It's understandable that there are still kinks which need to be straightened out as far as money made by the orignal artist goes, but not being able to resell old CDs is just crazy.  

Monday, October 13, 2008

FCC Opens Free Wireless Internet Access

Even though this article wasn’t very entertaining, it was very informative. Just recently the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) announced that they have given the “green light” to allocate a chunk of “wireless spectrum” for free internet services across the nation. For those of us that take for granted free “Wi-Fi” this may not seem like big news. However the new service provided by the FCC would benefit the lower income Americans who may not have access to the internet. Not all of us can be so fortunate to attend UMW.

Here is where things start to get interesting. “Adopting a national policy to stimulate the deployment of broadband in underserved areas of the nation could have dramatic and far-reaching economic impacts,” say the authors of a recent study by the nonprofit Connected Nation. By implementing the FCC’s program it would help alleviate the economic strain by providing more jobs for the lower class. This article estimates that this plan would make around $100 billion dollars a year, and would create or save 2.4 million jobs.

With the internet you can search for jobs easier, post your resume, and talk to employers easier. You could also take classes online either for educational purposes or for a trade skill. This saves on-the-site training time, and could give the individual a “leg up” when applying for a job.

The only flaw in the proposal so far is how the FCC will transmit the Wi-Fi. T-Mobile warned that the service would interfere with their 3G wireless services. However the FCC tested the service and determined that their servers would not present a “significant risk of harmful interference.” The wording of that statement sounds like the FCC would actually interfere with T-Mobiles service, but not enough to harm them. From an outside perspective this looks like the government (FCC) will just bypass T-Mobile to insure that their program will work.
I really don’t see any flaws in this program so far. It will offer more jobs for Americans. It will help online revenue. It will increase global interaction over the internet. It will only help the economy. Not only will the lower class have access to more job opportunities, they will also be able to read the headlines in the news. This looks like a win-win situation, except if you work for T-Mobile.

Wal-Mart joins MSN and Yahoo, leaves DRM servers online

When I first heard that you could download music off of Wal-Mart’s website I was a bit surprised. I figured that Wal-Mart was just in the business of selling CD’s, but I guess with the boom of iTunes, Wal-Mart wanted to make a little more money. When I was browsing around Wal-Marts music store I found out that their music per song costs 94 cents and it downloads to an MP3 format. It also notes that certain songs are able to play on the iPod.

In the article written by Jacqui Cheng Wal-Mart reportedly announced that they were going to turn off their servers and discontinue their service. With the growth of iTunes and other online music providers Wal-Mart has not been able to turn out a profit. After listening to customer complaints Wal-Mart now plans to “keep the DRM servers online a bit longer, allowing people to continue transferring their purchased music to other computers as usual.” Wal-Mart did not indicate, however, that the servers would remain online forever, and it continued to advise customers to burn their music to CDs.

Both Yahoo and MSN music have also gone in the same direction as Wal-Mart. Both companies were ready close their service, but later decided to stay open after listening to customer complaints. Through the process these three companies have shown that they actually do have a heart when it comes to customer service. When they could have left their customers behind and went on to “greener pastures,” they stuck with their loyal fans to keep providing them with the latest music.

If Yahoo, MSN, and Wal-Mart decide to shut down their servers then all of the music that the customers had purchased would no longer play on their computers. That is why Wal-Mart is recommending everyone who has purchased their music to burn it to CD’s. You may have to pay for a blank CD but at least you would not lose all of your music.

Currently I use two music services: iTunes and Rhapsody. When downloading music from Rhapsody it automatically directs you to burn your music onto a blank CD. With iTunes, I will have to take time to burn all of my music onto CD’s so that I will not lose all of my music.

I am glad these music services are allotting more time for their customers to copy all of their music. It can be very frustrating once you have grown accustomed to a particular music provider and suddenly they have discontinued their services. If the providers had discontinued their service it may lead to piracy.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Palin E-Mail Hacker Says It Was Easy

The 20 year old Tennessee student, David Kernell - was recently indicted for illegally hacking into Sarah Palin's private Yahoo email account. He is being indicted for violating the "Computer Fraud Act", contrary to the previous thought that he would only be charged with a misdemeanor. David Kernell first reset Palin's password and then changed it to "popcorn", then posted it on several forums. Kernell could end up spending 5 years in prison and face a 250,000 dollar fine (but it is suspected that, in the end, he will end up with close to no jail time, if any at all).

David Kernell allegedly posted instructions on how he hacked Palin's account on the website "4chan". The technique which the hacker used to hack into Palin's account was extremely easy (I have even been capable of easily doing this, and was close to it -- all it required was asking someone his pet's name -- His secret question). What the hacker did was input Palin's zip code (he stated that this was easy because there were only two in the certain area she was in), and the secret question asked where she met her spouse, which the hacker was able to easily discover with a quick google search. He changed the password to "Popcorn", and posted this on online forums. Even though this is so simple to do, it doesn't make it any less legal if he had used a complicated method to find her password. I personally think the punishments are too high for the crime he commited. If he had changed her password, thats one thing, but giving everyone and anyone access to her personal email is a huge violation of privacy, and is wrong no matter how much you may hate Palin. David Kernell claims to have read through every one of her emails before posting the password on 4chan, just to make sure there is nothing too incriminating, and Kernell describes the messages as "anticlimatic". I think this is a valuable lesson showing how easy it is for someone to hack your email if you have an obvious Secret Question that someone could ask you and find out when your off guard.

Apple Teases New Notebook, Rumored Under $1,000

Apple computers have always had a reputation for their pricetags, but just recently, Apple announced the upcoming release of a laptop that will be under $1000. Rumors of it's name have even leaked, and is supposedly going to be called the "Apple Brick". Several analysists were certain, well before this announcement, that Apple would be releasing a MacBook under the 1000 dollar mark, due to the fact that that they earlier said that they would release "state-of-the-art new products that our competitors aren't going to be able to match." - Which ultimately lead them to believe that meant lower pricing. There have even been leaks from the Apple company, including alleged authentic photos of the laptop's frame, and it has also been leaked that the laptop may be as low as $800. This may be just what Apple needs to finally gain over Microsoft in the market, and stay there.

Alot of hype is going into this upcoming apple, and many are hoping something big, due to the fact that they haven't redesigned a Mac Laptop in over two years. It is speculated that it will have an optical drive and ethernet capabilities (two capabilities that were not included in the previous MacBook Air model). Rumors have even gone as far as to say that the new manufacturing process of the Apple Brick, will involve carving a notebook out of a solid brick of metal (which I personally think seems quite unlikely) -- the process of carving it would include the use of lasers and jets of water. This would be a very durable model with no screws, but in my eyes doesn't seem at all realistic. One more rumor has come up about the Apple Brick, and that is that it would be a foldable, dual screen laptop. In this rumor, the keyboard would simply be a touchpad. I think this would be an awesome idea, giving the the user the ability to use it as a book (pages would come up on both screens, and could be folded like a book), a laptop with a touchpad keyboard, and finally, the ability to lay both screens flat on a desk (allowing two people to use it at once) -- If the rumor is true, it would be an awesome innovation.

Serious Games

This article takes a deep road in to the subject matter behind different video games. What happens when people take a controversial topic and turn it in to a video game? How could that affect an individual psychologically? This type of game is something that needs to be considered for the future of gaming.

With the RPG Maker 2000, Danny Ledonne created one of the most controversial, yet thought provoking, games of all time. The game was called Super Columbine Massacre RPG!. Now i know this may sound like an extremely sick and twisted thing to do, but a lot of people didn't look at it that way. Before that there were films and books made about the tragedy but not a video game. Something that could force the viewer to play the role of the shooters on that tragic day. "The media tried to play the shooters off as inhuman monsters after the shooting, but the game proves one thing better than anything else: they were human." Why hasn't an idea like this been explored before? The article states that most people play video games just for the guts and the glory, not the experience of a true story that wasn't even close to fun. For example: every single WW1 or WW2 game ever made. It makes you could something be so fun, when it wasn't fun at all.

This brings up the topic of war and its future in the gaming world as well as our own. The article brings up two games, Metal Gear Solid 4 and Army of Two, both being examples of games showing the growth of PMC's, or Private Military Companies, in our world. In Metal Gear Solid 4, these PMC's are the enemy, and a threat to the United States. In Army of Two, the main characters are contractors associated with the PMC's, who go about their lives killing for money. These two games attempt to foreshadow into a world where war rules all.

I thought this article did a great job of showing the possibilities of the future of video games. An industry that is exponentially growing, and one that I think is very important to our world. We'll see what happens.

Chinese Skype Client Hands Confidential Communications to Eavesdroppers

Original Link:

People all over the world use Skype. It’s one of the most popular chat engines on the internet. But what would you do if you found out that some of your instant messages are being blocked? The Chinese Skype client, called TOM Skype, does just that. Not only blocking specific keywords in your chat conversations, it watches private text conversations and reports them. Imagine how people who use TOM Skype, or the people who chat with those on the TOM client, feel after Skype already boasted absolute privacy for its users and complete security.
Eight remote servers exist in China, and any of the blocked keywords that may come up in the “private” messaging conversations are sent to one of these servers. These servers have relatively low security, so it was discovered that from around 44,000 users, over 166,000 messages had been censored.
Skype claims to have nothing to do with the breach in the TOM Skype client, and that at the time they were being assured that the users’ privacy was safe. However, this did not turn out to be the case. Skype is no longer reliable in the claims of secure privacy.
Again, this isn’t limited to TOM Skype client users only. If someone in the United States is chatting with someone in China using the TOM client, their end of the conversation is being monitored, and very possibly censored, as well.
eBay, a business partner with Skype, is very concerned about this compromised client on the Skype engine. They are warning their users to be cautious of what Skype client someone else is using, and not to communicate with those using the TOM client. eBay also no longer associates itself with TOM and required that TOM remove any of eBay’s trademarked images and links. eBay has created a “Chinese-localized version of Skype.” It is programmed to give users information on TOM, as well.
This article also gives a few links to alternative open source online chat engines that are much more secure than the TOM client.

Reading Online Privacy Policies

Did you know the average web privacy policy is 2,514 words?  Of course you didn't.  In fact, you don't even read them.  According to research done by Carnegie Mellon's Aleecia McDonald and Lorrie Faith Cranor, it was concluded that if users did in fact read the issued privacy policies for each website they visited just once a year, the time spent reading the lengthy descriptions would actually cost revenue.  During the study on web privacy, the longest privacy note was a whopping 7,669 words, quite a mouthful.  I bet we could all imagine the strenuous technicalities hidden and twisted behind the mini novel.  McDonald and Cranor estimated that the average person would spend at least 200 hours or more sheerly reading these privacy notes.  These hours spent reading, directly impacts the net value lost to the economy.  Along with the average 200 hours, an average of at least $3,000 is lost with each person.  Now imagine $3,000 times the number of users on the web?  That is a lot of money.   

In reality though, nobody reads these notices, so these predictions do not have any real influence in real time.  The correlation between these estimates cannot be applied to today's economic wealth.  To conclude, the point of the article was not to influence people's decision to actually read the privacy policies of web applications, but was to try and create a better connection between privacy and the consumer more applicable.  In other words, companies need to find an easier way for the consumer to read these policies in a manner which wouldn't cost the economy or hundreds of hours of one's annual life.  In my opinion, these long technicalities actually just scare away consumers from reading them, almost as if they are discouraging the right of understanding between the law and consumer.  Something should be done in this day and age where society is supposedly getting technologically more innovated.  


Bungie announced the other day that it will be adding on another campaign to Halo 3. There will be a different Hero, and a whole new campaign. Halo, being the trilogy that became one of Microsofts best sellers, and a product of Bungie. The prologue will excite gamers all over the world!! The trailer can be seen on any xbox marketplace or xbox homepage. This new prologue is expected to be release sometime in 2009.

Corey Doctorow

-Companies just want to Sell people STUFF'

-Fight about control over life- and what you can do
Privacy, liberty, etc

-IT companies aren't necessarily on our side

-Who gets to copy their stuff? 

-Bits designed to be copied

**-Open Source Stuff**

-Alchemy before science
-They didn't share their stuff - so not much science really happened

-Then they started publishing findings
-Called Enlightenment

-DRM restricting copying
-made secret and not supposed too be modifiable or comprehensible to users
-licensing restrictions

-DRM non-science
-Doesn't stand up to rigorous examination
-give everything you need - but you still can't do anything with it

-Exceptions to copyright

"keep honest user honest" - oh lol

-DRM is NOT copyright

-DRM is about expanding the copyrighted monopolies

-"Authorized domain" digital TV-copy restrictions - flag content so it can only be used by a households worth of devices

-Haven't considered all cases of family setups
-family spread out, or child of separated parents going back and forth - called corner cases- not important, etc

- DRM is not a contract
- even after clicking the I agree button on a Eula, the manufacturer can change the terms
- TiVo update

Why do people make products that mimic other products?

- If your apple you can sue people. They will put a price tag on their music if you want to move your music to another supplier. Apple know that people have invested so much money into their music on ITunes.

- Other music suppliers are trying to compete with apple

- Doctorow talks about how he no longer works for the company EFF. They work to keep DRM out of our computer

- There is no future in which bits will be harder to copy than they are today. This moment in time has the most copy proof bits

- Talks about how he writes books, and puts them on a website for people to view for free

- Believes artists should share music and ask their fans to buy their music, not force them to.

- Blu-ray vs HD

- region coding (Blu-ray)

- industry tries to squeeze as much money as possible out of the honest customers

-compares this strategy to a urinary tract infection

- claims that if the industry wants to survive it must abandon its doomed business model.

- Finally, the biggest problem for an artist is obscurity not piracy.

Anti-piracy tune rules at three-day music industry meet
Popkomm, an annual festival in Berlin, allowed the music industry to convey their frustrations and anger to the public about illegal copying. Robin Gibb, from the Bee Gees, was one of the artists who were upset about illegal copying. Gibb is now suing the European Commission; he criticized the European Union for making unfair rules on the music industry’s operations. The music industry accused the pirates who caused this spiral downfall of digital music. The revenues from the music industry have dropped close to 40% from illegal copying. However, Ali Riza Binboga of Turkey, which is the partner country for the annual Popkomm, believes that even though the revenues have dropped, the government has come up with new solutions to protect copyright laws. Binboga from the agency MESAM thinks that even though there has been a deficit in revenues from the music industry, at least copyright laws are reassured. During the three-day festival, nearly 400 acts will perform in different Berlin clubs both big and small names. The festival has pulled in several “recording companies, music publishers, online distributors, and technology companies.”

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Wipeout Is Sued For Copyright Infringement

Tokyo Broadcasting System (TBS) has accused ABC for copyright infringement. TBS believes that ABC’s show “Wipeout” is exactly like several Japanese competition series. However, this has happened before. Success of a series usually results in lawsuits from other parties claiming to have stolen their TV show. TBS owns the Japanese copyright of several obstacle course series like “Takeshi’s Castle” or “Sasauke.” TBS’s lawsuit against ABC states that the show “Wipeout” has unlawfully copied the same type of “premise, format, sequence of events, introductory segment, tone, scene setups, narration, and dialogue” as several of other Japanese competition series. TBS has filed their lawsuit against ABC with the help of Larry Stein, a litigation attorney who has experience with “high-profile profit participation cases.” This is not Stein’s first lawsuit against ABC. Twice in the past Stein has filed lawsuits, one for “Home Improvement” and the other for “Who wants to be a Millionaire.”

Foo Fighters tell McCain to stop using song

Several bands have complained about McCain using their songs as music to promote his campaign. The latest band that has criticized McCain for using their song has been the Foo Fighters. The Foo Fighters sent out a letter to McCain telling him to stop using their song, “My Hero.” The band was infuriated that the song was being used with out their consent, and in a way that “tarnished the song.” The band continues to explain what the song’s original meaning stood for and how the McCain campaign doesn’t convey it’s true meaning. The Foo Fighters commented on how McCain has used other artist’s songs in his campaign; to the point, that Jackson Browne has filed a lawsuit. It is not just McCain, but Obama has done it, too. Sam Moore has asked Obama to stop using “Soul Man” in his campaign. Brian Rogers, spokesman for the McCain-Palin campaign, stated that the McCain-Palin campaign has respected all the copyright laws by paying for licensing from performing rights organizations, allowing them to use “My Hero” as well as other songs in their campaign.

Cory Doctorow in Helsinki

Corey Doctorow talks about his point of view on the future, and his main point is on what he sees as the big picture, which is self determination.  He sees self determination as a good thing, which i completely agree with.  A perfect example is of the rat in a cage, which is given a shock at a regular interval, and how it can be perfectly normal, but if the rat is shocked at random times, it can go crazy.  This is a perfect analysis of human beings, and what the future will bring.  People in the future will be so self determined, and in self control, but if you take away the regularity of something in someone's life it will leave them with no hope or desire to go on.

But with the lack of self determination that is able to be used today (because of things like copyright's and stuff), it is similar to us being like an inmate or like a child, he points out.  He goes on to talk about the capabilities of cell phones, and computers, however, there are many restrictions that programers make for these that limit us.  He talks about how the technology of today is built to limit the self determination of its users.  We are not able to do anything "of use" on our phones without the permission of the phone companies.  The best thing about technology is that we can communicate easier with other people, and interact with them, not just using what is given to us by the companies, but by being self determined and being able to use the tools without limits.  Self determination is why people like wikipedia so much, because they can fix or add anything that they want on it, its not just some set information that is not able to be messed with, however it is something that people can be involved with.

Creativity today is very limited because of things like anti-features that companies use, and the restriction of being able to copy will eventually lead to the downfall of mankind he believes.  The best thing that you could have is total determination over your tools, and have the ability to make them do whatever it is that you want them to do.

Corey Doctorow hopes that in the future we will essentially destroy the carriers and reform the companies.  As of right now, he feels like the companies act like they are kings, slaying their users, and treating them as they wish.  However, he believes that if we inject some type of genuine competition, and make them actually compete with their customers to deliver to them the service that they actually want, then and only then will we truly have the freedom we need for self determination.

Team 1

Review -- "Cory Doctorow in Helsinki"

For direct link to video, click entry title.

Cory Doctorow's ideas about the future depending on the concept of self-determination hits head on. THis concept explains why things like copyright restriction software and certain logistics hold us back. In his lecture, Doctorow explains how new technology is in many ways disabling us by depriving consumers of things we could otherwise supply for ourselves and even create. He compares the lack of self0determination as being on the same basis as a child/inmate. By exploiting the power of self-determination, we can make a difference by overcoming challenges simple geography slows us with today. A big point brought up about determination was the power of the computer. Today, we can manipulate things using our own ideas to make something even greater. Taking the computer for example, we use it as a tool to communicate, create commerce, and be our own controllers. With self-determination comes self reliance and ingenuity.

Even with all the functions the modern computer has, however, there's so much more that it can do that it's not giving us access to. It's understandable that computer designers know what they're doing more than the average person, but most of us either are competent enough with computeres to avoid catastrophe, or realize that it would be a bad idea to take things into our own hands at all. Currently, computers have arrays and arrays of defense mechanisms, against even their users. Currently, the only way to acheive complete and undisputed power over your computer's functions is by learning command-line and installing Linux. This should not be the case. Doctorow makes another convincinv argument when he describes how the advertisement industry hold a giurative fun to the heads of the "carriers". In his talk in Helsinki, he's referring to cell phones. I'm not sure how he moved from computers to cell phones, but his argument stands up just as well when he applies it to computers. He says that the real power that the carriers have is not media, but connections. The best thing that a netowrking company can do is make better network. In computers, the average person does not see data storage, or mathematical calculation, but rather the Internet. And that's exactly what the Internet is: a huge network.

I think Cory Doctorow's analogies, quips, general points, and overall lecture leave something to be desired. Perhaps it is coherency that I seek.
What I took from the video:
1) Self-determination is what matters to everyone.
2) Self-determination is good.
3) Without self determination, we are nothing, we have no hope, no fulfillment, and "no desire to go on".
4) Self-determination is the foundation of everything we fight for, live for, and depend on.
5) Self-determination is the cases of the Enlightenment, democracy, progress, and capitalism.
6) Geography and gravity are bitches.
7) People like Wikipedia, because they get to edit the articles.
8) Children, inmates, prisoners, and slaves have no self-determination.
9) Moore's Law is the outcome of self-determination.
10) Computers are built by people.
11) Faster computers are also built by people.
12) Dogs that bark the "Star-Spangled Banner" are what's really the driving force behind all of our technological advances.
13) Technology today is created to restrict our self-determination and to control us.
14) You can't do anything useful with phones these days without permission.
15) The field of creativity is very limited today.
16) Anti-features.
17) We want to remember the mp3 that we lost it to, rather than the mp3 we lost our computer to via rootkit.
18) Copy restriction will essentially be the downfall of mankind.
"Romanticist" is the word that comes to mind after watching the Cory Doctorow video. Can romanticists be correlated to activists? Did I mention he writes Sci-Fi and blogs for a living? Should anyone really be taking this man seriously?
I think Doctorow is getting a little mixed up between the whole idea of "self-determination" with concepts such as: independence, applied convenience, life... everything he could possibly think of.. I understand where he's going with this, but he's ridiculous. Detailed points will be delved into during Thursday discussion. (I'm sorry my part of the entry is so discordant with my team member's)

This is what Cory Doctorow wears.