Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Blast from the Wired Past 

wow, I found this goofing around on the Web... hard to believe it's almost 11 years old.

I guess it just goes to show that the insanity began early, and that where you start out is often where you end up.

I was working in the Philippines at the time, and had left my beloved PowerBook 165 (or was it a 145b?) home in Toronto because I thought it might get stolen or that I might not actually really need it. Sure enough, by the end of August, my fingers had gotten a bit twitchy and it was time for some PowerBooking.

Of course, I sent a postcard to Wired magazine lamenting my situation and they deemed it crazy enough to actually print in issue 3.12. I think it qualifies for the "raves" part of th "rants and raves" section. ;-)

"Fetish Fever"

I've been traveling for three months, and, oh, god, I missed your magazine. Then the unmistakable logo caught my eye at a newsstand in the Philippines. My neurons tingled in anticipation as I tore the plastic sleeve off to caress the smooth, glossy pages. Gently, I laid the issue down on a clear spot on the bench beside me and leafed through to your aptly titled Fetish section, which filled my materialistic heart with technolust.

"I need a computer!"

I screamed inside, my fingers itching for the tactile ecstasy of a keyboard and trackpad. I want to get home, flip open my PowerBook, and listen to my baby hum, the RAM sizzle, the hard drive spin, and the keys go click, click, click, as I sit bathed in the pale phosphorescence of the screen in the surrounding darkness. It's hell on my retinas, but I just love that 4-in-the-morning-and-still-clocking-40-words-a-minute feeling.

Damien Fox

Manila, Philippines


Rants and Raves 3.12

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Hello, Rexton! 

See you tomorrow PM!

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Linux, Java, Mocha, etc. 

WiFi in Toronto, with Linux, coffee, a park, the 2600 crowd, and Co-Op owned-internet by Wireless Nomad.


Monday, February 13, 2006

Wireless Nomad Co-Op Gets a New Web Site, Blog 

Good afternoon, everyone!

Continuing its quest to bring WiFi to the Toronto masses and put people in control of their Internet, Wireless Nomad has a nicer look on its web site and has a blog
, so people can keep in touch and see what co-op members have been up to, like the Hillcrest Mesh Network or the free WiFi in Kensington market.

Check it out, and if you're interested, drop the co-op a line to lend a hand.

Friday, February 10, 2006

suckered into the copyright debate on a web forum once again... 

here is my response to a posting called "Anti-copyright: a rebel sell?" at www.blog.thismagazine.ca-- search for it, I'm not going to vote for it with a link.

True, few people working for/with Access Copyright want to stop an academic from citing a work and thereby censoring free expression: all they want is to have the academic pay them money each and every time they quote or speak. But free expression should be exactly that- free expression- not someone's business model, and should be the expression of an individual citizen, free from political censorship or economic coercion.

The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms does not guarantee freedom of expression only for those who own a printing press; nor does it only guarantee freedom of expression only for those who can pay to use someone else's printing press. Rather, it explicitly guarantees the right of every Canadian citizen to express themselves freely, out loud or on paper. It guarantees the right to criticize politicians, writers, judges and academics, and to criticize or quote anyone else, and for good reason.

That's only the beginning, because it's leaving out the obvious part about why free expression is important, but I will take it for granted we all agree that it is so.

The problem isn't only about censorship, though. It's also about business models acting as parasites, creating economic inefficiencies and using unfair "market" power.

Here's example of how it's happening already: the Copyright Act explicitly allows copying for research and/or private study, but for some reason Canadian universities charge Canadian students millions of dollars a year and give that money to Access Copyright as "compensation". As if students aren't paying enough already for the right to obtain education, Access Copyright has bullied the universities into letting them pick students pockets.

Why should university students, far from being the wealthiest members of society, and some even being under the age of majority, find themselves paying money to an organization to "allow them" to exercise a right to copy which they already have explicitly under the Copyright Act?

It's wholesale rip-offs like these that people see is unfair, and rightly so. Most students don't even know they are paying this tax, and from the point of view of Access Copyright, that perfect: taxation without representation has always been the most lucrative business model out there, despite its moral illegitimacy, and despite the fact that those being unfairly treated eventually figure it out and do something about it.

So instead of attacking people like Russell McOrmond, who is himself an author (albeit of computer code, which has equal copyright protection as poetry or any other work), the Access Copyright crowd had better start thinking about how they will pay their bills in a few years, when this nonsense is finally stopped, and students are no longer treated like cash crops, and are instead treated with respect and integrity. Copyright is no longer the game of big media companies, academic institutions and government lobbyists. With personal computers and the worldwide Internet, it's everybody's business, and, no, people are not just going to shut up and take it- they're going to do something about it.

Some are going to copy without authorization, infringing copyright left and right, without a care in the world. Some are going to make their own media, like Creative Commons. Others are going to make their own software, like open source programmers are doing. Others still are going to try to change the silly laws and policies and ways of thinking that got us into this situation in the first place. If being angry is what it takes, that's what we're gonna get.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

French Police Abandon Ballmer's Microsoft For Mozilla 

meaning that they can freely run it on Windows, Linux, and Mac operating systems.

French Police Abandon Ballmer's Microsoft For Mozilla

The Freedom Revolution, you could call it--if you're a politically correct U.S. patriot. Yet it's been a non-violent, bloodless radical change over in France, where the country's police force is renouncing Microsoft's Internet Explorer Web browser for the Mozilla Foundation's open source browser Firefox.

We don't know if the gendarmes affectionately refer to the browser as "le renard du feu", yet AFX News quoted the IT director of the force as saying 70,000 desktop computers would be converted to Firefox and its e-mail client Thunderbird because of the navigator's "reliability, security and inter-operability with other state services". The transition, which follows the department's decision to migrate from the Microsoft Office suite of applications to OpenOffice for all of its desktops last year, should be complete by the end of the year, he added.

The wily Firefox navigator has apparently gobbled up nearly 18% of the French Internet browser market, approaching the European average of 20%. This has left blogging wags predicting excellent sales of chairs should the news of Mozilla's success reach Steve Ballmer's ears.

"By the end of 2006, the French police plan to install Firefox and the e-mail client Thunderbird on 70,000 desktops. The force is pleased with Firefox's adherence to World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) standards and cross-platform capabilities, "

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