A Collection of Thoughts & Discoveries

Technology, Business, Giving, Etc.

  • “There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self.” Ernest Hemmingway
  • “Judge each day not by the harvest you reap, but by the seeds you plant.” Robert Louis Stevenson
  • “We must be the change we wish to see in the world.” Gandhi
  • “Noble deeds that are concealed are most esteemed.” Blaise Pascal
  • “A creative man is motivated by the desire to achieve, not by the desire to beat others.” Ayn Rand
  • “If you want to succeed you should strike out on new paths, rather than travel the worn paths of accepted success.” John D. Rockefeller
  • “Honesty is the first chapter in the book of wisdom.” Thomas Jefferson
  • “Sense shines with a double luster when it is set in humility. An able yet humble man is a jewel worth a kingdom.” William Penn
  • “There is a great satisfaction in building good tools for other people to use.” Freeman Dyson
  • “You don't know what you can learn until you try to learn.” Ronald Coase
  • “Let us so live that when we come to die even the undertaker will be sorry.” Mark Twain
  • “Create more value than you capture.” Tim O'Reilly

Category: Politics

U of F Eliminates Computer Science Program for Athletics: Wow…

According to an article at Forbes the University of Florida is eliminating its computer science program to save $1.7 million while the athletic department receives a budget increase.

Let’s get this straight: in the midst of a technology revolution, with a shortage of engineers and computer scientists, UF decides to cut computer science completely? Steven Salzberg: Forbes

Universities are big business, but eliminating C.S. while the U.S. struggles to improve employment statistics seems wrong-minded to me. end of article icon

Posted on Sunday, April 22, 2012 in TechnologyPolitics

Stop S.O.P.A. and P.I.P.A.

S.O.P.A. and P.I.P.A. are U.S. legislative bills presented as means to protect intellectual property and to stop online “piracy” of digital media. However, behind the labels of these destructive bills lies legislation which is potentially very harmful to how the Internet works to empower individuals, while pandering to certain parties in the movie industry and music industry. It’s no surprise that representatives in Congress would pander to the likes of these skillful and well-funded lobbyists, but the Internet is a valuable, global asset which must not be controlled by special interests.

To be clear, I am against any form of intellectual or creative property piracy, including bit torrents to share music against its creators’ will, using photos without the photographer’s permission, etc. We currently have laws in place against such behavior, but S.O.P.A. and P.I.P.A. appear to be designed to simply help U.S. media industry players who refuse to embrace new business models as technology has evolved–at the expense of the entire Internet.

Here’s a great talk by Clay Shirky on TED:

EDIT: I removed the embedded video here because the method TED uses for video embeds is such a drain on resources and loads incredibly slowly. So the link to the talk on the TED website is here, and worth a watch: Link to video on TED

Please inform yourself about S.O.P.A. and P.I.P.A. by following the links below, and reach out to your representatives in Washington D.C. to let them know that if they support such rubbish it will cost them their jobs.end of article icon

SOPA: Hollywood Finally Gets a Chance to Break the Internet

Wired.com’s Comments

An Article on Ars Technica on SOPA

SOPA on Open Congress

PIPA on Open Congress

Congressman Darrell Issa’s Project: Keep the Web Open

An Important Point Raised at Read-Write Web

Posted on Tuesday, January 17, 2012 in TechnologyPolitics

Burmese Living in Australia Admits to War Crimes

A guilty conscience can be a powerful thing. It’s been known to drive one mad or as in this case, to finally admit to heinous crimes against humanity done in the past.

Burmese refugee, Htoo Htoo Han, has been living as a political refugee in Australia. He has now admitted to the Australian press that he murdered 24 people and had indirect involvement in about 100 more murders some 20 years ago in Burma. He's said to have infiltrated activist groups while working as an undercover officer for Burmese military intelligence.

While in Australia Htoo Htoo Han has been working in support of human rights and speaking out against the Burmese government. He now risks going to prison for his acts in the past, but he claims that he can no longer live with the guilt.

Here are a couple of articles regarding Han's admission: Voice of America and The Sidney Morning Herald. There are others on the web.

Life is brutal for many people in Burma. The Burmese are typically wonderful people, but they live in constant fear of their government. I hope that they will find peace and a democratic government one day, but it won’t be an easy process – even if the military rulers allowed for fair elections. Strong security will need to be in place for many years to protect against territorial conflicts between various warlords throughout Burma. end of article icon

Posted on Monday, July 18, 2011 in Politics

Copyright Troll: The New Bottom?

I have zero respect for patent trolls, and I am a firm supporter of copyright laws protecting content creators, but now there’s a new twist: a law firm named Righthaven is apparently engaging in “copyright trolling”. As described by Christopher Mims on the M.I.T. Technology Review blog, Righthaven is making a business of suing people and businesses for copyright infringement by waiting for an image to go viral and then buying the rights to it for the purpose of suing those who have posted it on the web.

As a photographer I value my copyrights, but I surely do not support this type of trolling abuse of an otherwise important method of protecting content creators. It’s actions such as these which may ultimately bring about changes in laws which weaken protection for artists, designers, writers, musicians, photographers and other makers of creative content. This kind of misuse of copyright law should not be rewarded and the actions should be penalized.

Mim’s post is here: Post a Copyrighted Picture, Face a $150,000 Lawsuit

If there is good to come from this, perhaps some exposure to this sort of thing will get more people to think before posting others’ images without permission and attribution. Still, I’ll be happy to see this “business model” practiced by any copyright trolls FAIL.end of article icon

Posted on Wednesday, February 9, 2011 in TechnologyPolitics

Internet Switched Off: How the Egyptian Gov’t Did It

Amid massive protests in Egypt this week, the Egyptian government took steps to sever communications with the outside world by switching off nearly all connections to the internet. This has the effect of stopping outgoing (and in-going) communications via applications such as Twitter as well as basic email, Facebook, and wireless telephones. Bobbie Johnson has posted an article on GigaOM that describes some of how such a severance would or could be done. According to the information in that article, Egyptian officials at least had the forethought to not stop through-traffic to other countries downstream of their position in the internet infrastructure.

As certain groups in the United States are trying to get approval for an “internet kill-switch” in the U.S., Egypt serves as a prime example of why the internet should remain a free and open channel of communication. Homeland security is important for every nation, but stifling the citizens within the nation is not and should not be an option available to governments.end of article icon

Posted on Friday, January 28, 2011 in TechnologyPolitics

Stuxnet: Sophisticated Precision Cyber-Warfare

The New York Times has an interesting article discussing many details surrounding the cyber-worm known as “Stuxnet” and how it was unleashed against the Iranian nuclear program. There have been several articles written on the subject, but this one provides some connections and data points which read more like a movie plot than day-to-day geopolitics. In this case credit/blame is attributed to a joint Israeli-American project.

The biggest single factor in putting time on the nuclear clock appears to be Stuxnet, the most sophisticated cyberweapon ever deployed.”

The article describes the precision with which the attacks unfolded and what were the likely steps taken to prepare for that precision.

As infrastructure and services become more and more dependent upon network interaction it’s pretty easy to imagine how vulnerable these systems become as technology extends other efficiencies of operation. These situations underscore the importance of security as an integral part of system design rather than political rhetoric or as an afterthought which seems all too common in government.end of article icon

Posted on Tuesday, January 18, 2011 in TechnologyPolitics

Net Neutrality: An Important, but Complicated Topic

Today, the FCC voted 3 to 2 to pass an order setting-up rules to prevent ISPs from blocking certain content dependent upon the type of device used to access it—in other words, to make it unlawful, for example, to discriminate against users of mobile telephones in comparison to those accessing content via different devices or connection types. It’s obvious that legal challenges remain, and rather than attempt to analyze this whole thing I’ll simply post some links that are worth a read as we all try to decipher this. More information will be forthcoming once the full order is available in a few days.

The fact that people on all sides are mostly quite concerned about this is cause to stay engaged. Silence on this issue, leaving it to the government to figure out, is likely not in the best interest of the internet.

FCC's Net Neutrality Vote Hit from Both Sides

A Net Neutrality Timeline: How We Got Here

FCC's Next Net Neutrality Proposal: What to Watch For

Why You Need to Care About Net Neutrality

Was it Google and Verizon, or the FCC?

Presumably, there will be meaningful analysis from various sources, and hopefully intelligent dialogue, once the ruling is fully exposed.end of article icon

UPDATE: I was going to post an update with some of the info that is surfacing regarding the ruling, but Fred Wilson has done a good job of summarizing some of the details. His article includes a link to a post by Barbara van Schewick, Director of Stanford Law School’s Center for Internet and Society, and a leading academic voice in the Net Neutrality debate. You can visit Fred’s blog post HERE.

There’s also a good breakdown on GigaOM today, by Stacey Higginbothem. View it here.

Posted on Tuesday, December 21, 2010 in TechnologyPolitics