A lawmaker makes sense about intellectual property

One of the things I follow is the debate over Intellectual Property rights.  This is all about copyright and fair-use and has huge ties in with digital media.  For years, I’ve been trying to adopt and use various digital versions of books, newspapers, magazines, music, TV and movies, but have been consistently frustrated by publishers’ reluctance to make the content available at a reasonable price.  When they do, they usually do so with Digital Rights Management (DRM) software that makes it difficult to use the content on more than one device, or even on the one that you purchased it for if you need to reinstall your software.  And most of the time, they just don’t make it available at all.

Rep. Dick Boucher, (D-VA), makes the case for fair-use in this Wired article:  "Lawmaker Revs Up Fair-Use Campaign" In it, he actually makes sense:

"First of all, while the arrival of the internet creates a potential hazard and peril for content creators, it also invests in them broadening abilities. It becomes another distribution medium that they can use and they need to do that. I have been saying (that) to the recording industry every time they have come crying to us (saying), "Oh piracy is costing us this, that and the other and we need to do something about it."

I would spend my time as a committee member when I was addressing them saying, "OK, why don’t you do something about it yourself? Why don’t you put your entire inventory up on the web and make it available in a user-friendly format for a reasonable price per track and get away from clinging to this old, outdated business model of selling the whole CD?" [emphasis added]

Do I have sympathy for them? Not when they’re clinging to a relic and when that’s getting in the way of making good current business decisions…. They can make a fortune if they do that.

It’s a pity I can’t vote for this guy. 

39, wait, 40 …

Laura tackled the kitchen on Saturday, and found 40, count-em, 40 boxes (and boxless bags) of open cereal!  Some of this stuff was old, maybe pre-2002.  This doesn’t count unopened boxes, which are both in the kitchen and in the garage.  How did this happen?  Children … (and their parents …)  No wonder we haven’t had room in the cabinets for legitimate food.

Computer Hygiene suggestions

I’m frequently asked about software to eliminate spyware, spam and virus infections.  Here’s what I currently recommend:

If you are running Windows XP, make sure it is updated with _all_ of the updates available on Windows Update, especially SP2.  If you haven’t gotten SP2 and are still running dial-up, improve your life and get the cheapest broadband you can, then get SP2, or look at microsoft.com/windowsxp and look for a way to get a CD of it.  If you aren’t running XP, shame on you.  Ditch the old hack of a computer and upgrade.  XP SP2 has a fair amount of security enhancements in it.  Also, make sure that Windows Update is setup to automatically download and install updates at 3 or 4 a.m., and leave your computer on all the time to let it do the job.  Make sure you have Pop-up blocking turned on (Tools-PopUpBlocker).

Spyware control:  Make sure you have the latest versions of Ad-Aware (1.06), SpyBot Search & Destroy (1.4), and Microsoft AntiSpyware.  You can get the first 2 free from www.download.com, but you have to manually run and update them.  MS AntiSpyware is free from Microsoft.com, and is linked right on their homepage.  http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyID=321cd7a2-6a57-4c57-a8bd-dbf62eda9671&displaylang=en.  This one sets itself up the first time you run it to automatically update and scan.  I run this one continuously, and the other 2 every few weeks.  Note that Ad-Aware is a little confusing when you run it – it will give you a list of critical threats, but you must select each or all of them (right click-select all) and then click next to actually remove them; otherwise it just leaves them alone.  Ad-Aware finds stuff that SpyBot doesn’t and vice-versa.  Always download the latest definition updates with bot Ad-Aware and Spybot, and make sure you choose ‘Immunize’ with Spybot, which will silently block some of the bad stuff from getting loaded in the first place.  The MS product is Giant software’s product, and is considered best of breed, but isn’t available for Win9x/Me.

Antivirus:  Everybody needs a subscription to an antivirus program.  I still recommend Symantec’s products, although they’ve tightened up their licensing and it makes it tougher to get it onto cheap customer’s computers.  At the minimum, make sure you are running Norton Antivirus, and ensure that the virus definitions are less than 1 week old and that it has done a full scan in the last week.  If the Auto-Protect icon isn’t on down near the system time, get help, because it usually indicates trouble.  Norton Internet Security 2005 has AntiVirus, Internet Firewall and Antispam in one box for about $65 (1 year).  Note that the Antispam piece only works if you use Outlook or Outlook Express, although I think they might have added some extensions for Yahoo mail and the like.  AOL’s antispam is respectable at this point, but that’s the only nice thing I’ll say about AOL J.

If you’ve got P2P software like Kazaa on your system, you _will_ receive lots of infected stuff.  Move over to Azureus, a really good BitTorrent download manager instead.  You’ll have to find tracker sites, but the content is generally cleaner.  I’ve had a number of client systems that I’ve had to clean repeatedly because of Kazaa.

Phishing scams are a form of SPAM, and can only be controlled by AntiSpam products and common sense.  No reputable organization will ask you to reverify your information by emailing you a link to a form.  You can tell it’s a scam just by hovering your mouse pointer over the link – the actual like information will pop-up and will probably not match.  Most of the links will start with http://xxx.yyy.zzz.aaa (a bunch of numbers), instead of matching up with the text displayed. 

Schroeder family trip to L.A.

My brother Mark sent pictures from the family’s recent trek to see my brother Steve in Los Angeles, CA, over the Memorial Day weekend.  Mom & Dad went for the first time (he’s only been there about 10 years!).  I couldn’t make it due to fiscal constraints and concert performances scheduled (since canceled due to another trip), and my brother David also couldn’t come out.  Still, it was a great trip for them.  I’ve attached a few for your perusal.

BTW, the thin connection with Mr. Cruise is that Tom Mapother graduated from my alma mater, Glen Ridge High School, Glen Ridge NJ in my brother Mark’s class of 1980.  My wife worked out in the school weight room with him occasionally.  He may have even played roller hockey on our tennis court at some point.  I doubt he would recognize any of us now, but Steve frequently cites Tom’s story as his inspiration for his acting career.