...I had no idea I had a nest of butterflies in the pit of my stomach. Today, I'm signing the papers for the new apartment. It shouldn't be this difficult - after all, I've done this twice before - but for some reason this one is different. Is it because this might be an important rite in becoming middle-aged? Or maybe that it's the biggest amount of money I've ever handled? Or that me and the bank are now getting tightly married for 25 years?
Maybe it's that I am about to sign away a big portion of my freedom to choose. The older you get, the more your choices become about choosing your own limits: the things you can or cannot do. Some of these choices are mental, as we choose certain principles to follow; some of them are habitual; some of them are spiritual; and some of them are contractual.
Perhaps that's why I feel so strongly about online freedom: I see my own liberties circling and disappearing into the vortex of organized society (out of my free will, even). Even if I'm an engineer, I don't particularly like order and processes. I prefer chaos, invention, innovation, and the quantum fluff of reality to endless powerpoint slideshows about how things should be. Choosing to be a part of the system is the sensible and secure thing to do, but still... something in me keeps fighting the idea.
Well, at least on the internet, nobody knows that you're a middle-aged engineer with lots of loan (+ 2.5 dogs, a Volvo, a wife, 3.14159265 kids, and whatever else middle-aged people tend to have).
Merry Christmas to everyone!
And especially to all geeks, who can now view the Star Wreck movie on their mobile phones and iPods, thanks to Tommi and Samuli. I can hardly think a geekier pastime for the holidays ;-)
As the Christmas Chaos is coming towards us like a train in the same tunnel you're in (and I am, again, hopelessly late with all the things that I Need To Do), some may feel the need to enjoy a bit of laughter. I especially enjoyed The Pi Code, which shows well that you can imagine finding any sort of order from any sort of a chaos, if you really, really, really look for it.
I like chaos. Chaos is fun. Particularly, I like organized chaos. Just come over and see my desk.
Hello, everyone in Riyadh, Anchorage, São Paulo, Christchurch, Kuala Lumpur, Beijing, Bangalore, Porto, Istanbul, Malta and all the other cool places I've never been to but would like to go... Sorry for how the blog looks, but the name requires me to keep up appearances. If you were a random googler, then good luck in finding what you were looking for (this isn't it); and if you're a regular reader, then more power to you! Drop me a comment below to make me happier in this dark, cold and miserable country...
(Image through Google Analytics. Click on it to get a bigger one.)
To continue with the tune of liberties being squashed all over the Internet, here's what's newest new in copy protection and digital restrictions management (DRM):
So the idea is to embed an additional copy control signal in the analog picture itself. The law would require equipment to work with a watermarking technology called Video Encoded Invisible Light, which inserts a signal that is part of every frame, but invisible to the naked eye.
According to the bill, any device capable of converting an analogue signal to a digital signal would have to have a control chip that made it obey the copy restrictions embedded in the analogue signal.
So writes New Scientist.
The idea here is that every single device recording of video (including your cell phone camera, and digital tv recorder, and DVD recorder, and VCR recorder, and... well, you get the picture) must have a small chip that will prevent you from photographing anything you don't have rights over.
So, if you're taping your baby's first steps, make sure you turn off any TV screens nearby, or your camera might turn itself off "just in case". Watch out for buildings or statues that will have systems that will send the "copy protected signal" and prevent you from photographing (unless you pay a fee, of course). Watch out for people, who steal these devices, and enter buildings undetected - because security cameras are turned off.
If you read the law proposal carefully, you will also see that it limits time-shifting (i.e. recording a program off the TV to be watched later) to 90 minutes. After this period, the device must delete any program so recorded. So, want to watch that game a bit later tonight? No can do, it's probably been deleted already. You only paid to view it live, you need to pay separate to watch it later. It's as if a baker came to your house and threw away your bread, if you didn't eat it by the best-by date.
Watch for this law to be brought into the EU in 2006, and to Finland in 2008. And start screaming really loud, if you see it approaching.
Oh man... Well, bloggers: Now you know that calling someone a shithead (especially someone with a bit of power) in your blog can get you punished.
It's just too bad that it happened to be this particular case. It cannot be said that Pöyry was completely without fault here, and Jani (or at least his blog personality) is a good person who calls things as he sees them. Same cannot be said for all persons on the internet...
Sorry for the silence; many things started to move at the same time, and unfortunately World of Warcraft is also taking up a big chunk of my time. I can't recommend it, if you want to retain even an inkling of control of your life.
In the mean time, feast your eyes on this...
Ehm. I can't remember what I was going to write about. They accepted our offer! We're gonna be living in Espoo next year! Whee! Extra exclamation mark! ;-)
Update: you know, I just realized that getting paid more just means that you can afford to take more debt. There's something deeply wrong in all this. It's a vicious cycle.
It's Christmas time, and everybody's busy sending greeting cards. I'm in a bit of trouble... I realized I have nobody's physical address these days. Really. I remember where people live (I have a pretty good memory for maps), but I have no idea how to describe them to the postal system.
I don't even have a database of addresses - I used to have one on paper (but it's probably been recycled now), and I used to have an electronic one on my Palm (but that's probably lost all its memory by now). I might have backups somewhere, but they are well hidden, and it's quite a lot of trouble to start looking for them.
You see, this is really the only time that I need the addresses. If I need to send something to someone, I'll just scribble it on a nearby piece of paper that exists only as a scratchpad. Then it's gone, and I'll need to ask for it again. But it's not that often, really.
What does it all mean? That I am too far removed from the real world? Or that the world just does not matter to me the way that it used to because I now have better access schemes to it?
Who knows. We just returned from Andrea Bocelli's fine concert. Too tired to think anything complicated right now.
Here's a cool Christmas Gift: Alex Halderman shows how to make your own "strong" copy protection for CDs using regular household items and software. Send it to a friend as a Christmas gift, sue them in January for ripping the music!
(In the same spirit (and same blog), read Ed Felten's story about why spyware and copy protection are inevitably linked together.)
Everybody suspected it was happening, but now they're out of the closet...
Run by psychological warfare experts at the U.S. Special Operations Command, the media campaign is being designed to counter terrorist ideology and sway foreign audiences to support American policies.
This wasn't certainly a very pro-american-sentiment-generating start...
(Via Dan Gillmor, who's got a lot of good stuff to say about this.)
The European Parliament has been debating on whether weblogs are good or bad:
This is so classic rhetorics... Equating child pornography and weblogs? Saying that bloggers don't have to worry about libel laws? (Then why has Jani of Mummila a court date set for his libel suit? The libel and criminal laws work on the internet as well as on paper.) Stating that bloggers throw out democratic norms and standards? Hell-o? What could be more democratic than the fact that all people can finally have an equal voice on the internet?
What freedom is it when people are allowed to say whatever they want, as long as it conforms to standards?
What is it about freedom that scares the high officials?
Have they done something wrong - something they do not wish to be uncovered?
Or is it just that the cheerful anarchy of the blogosphere hurts their aesthetic eye for law and order?
"People have little time and want to be reasonably confident that the sites they visit are reliable, whereas a lot of weblogs are tripe", said White. Considering that 90% of weblogs are about the daily life of the common person, does that mean that Mr. General Secretary of the International Federation of Journalists thinks that the life of a common person is tripe? Perhaps people should not be allowed to write about their own life, because they are not experts and trained journalists? I mean, someone might actually mistake that for a real life?
What a dumb and horribly condescending thought.
(Thanks to Janne for the link.)
Keskisuomalainen writes that there is a new draft of the copyright legislation coming up, which gives the winner of any copyright dispute the right to publish the details of the crime in a newspaper advertisement at the expense of the loser. This, as correctly pointed out by EFF Finland, is tantamount to public humiliation.
The scary thing is that the officials planning this say that there's nothing wrong here. To quote Sami Sunila and Jorma Waldén from the Ministry of Commerce and Ministry of Education, respectively: "This is not meant for humiliation. It's normal newspaper activity to publish names."
True. But it's always the newspapers' decision to do it. And they - with few exceptions - are guided by principles and morals, things that the copyright industry seems to have no respect of. If a company has no qualms whatsoever about installing invasive spyware on your computer, then why would they not use the opportunity to publically humiliate you? After all, it wouldn't even be out of their pocket...
We don't publish the names of the people who drink and drive, even though they endanger the lives of everyone around them. Why would we publish the names of copyright infringers? Are they worse people than rapists and people who run over little girls with expensive cars?
I'm all for transparency, but this is nuts. The internet no longer forgets, and once your name is public, it's always out there, at the reach of The Almighty Google. Public humiliation is a worse punishment now than in the sixties. Look at the Korean shit girl for an example...
During the infamous Finnish Copyright debacle some of the media, MPs and copyright organizations claimed that the entire movement against the new copyright law "was machinated" (what a horrible newspeak word) by some unknown entities. They did not understand that the internet and cell phones allow spontaneous formation of community movements, which have no leaders or originators as such.
Outi just blogged about the current Finnish Idols contest, how one very cute guy has gathered support of thousands of teenage girls - so much in fact, that the current list of IRC gallery communities lists tens of fan clubs, the biggest one being 2000+ members... And the fun thing is, they're determined to vote for this guy. So much in fact, that some of them claim to have voted over 130 times and have cell phone bills of over 100€. They support each other, and fan the voting flames. The guy is by far not the best singer, but the girls with the pink cell phones have chosen him to be The Idol. Which, I guess, is kinda the point.
I think this is fundamentally the same phenomenon: the internet and cell phones are allowing spontaneous mobs in an unprecedented scale. In the old days, you were bound by location, and then you would gather together somewhere to demonstrate. Much like shopping, voting is now virtual. No more cards to be sent, no more queuing. No need to grab torches and go hang the horsethief. Everybody with a cell phone is equal and has power.
So, whatever you do, do not underestimate the power of pink cell phones (with sticker photographs and trinket straps). Their vote is as good as yours - and they live and breathe this world. They know how to communicate efficiently - you don't. You are outdated - they are determined. You talk of "machination" - they shrug and don't understand. For them, anyone with enough brain to create an account on a free web site could be the "machinator".
They just don't realize the power they have yet. ;-)
Levyvirasto is a new Finnish music store that will deliver music to you in MP3 format. Yes, no "copy protection" nor DRM. They have a slick web interface, with the first popup preview listening thingy that worked out-of-the-box on a desktop Linux computer.
They even have a blog, which mostly seems to make sense.
The Record Office is available also in English, so any non-Finns reading this can now also glance at the state of modern Finnish independent music. They also deliver CDs, if that's the format you prefer.
I'm so going to support this. Exactly what I wanted. And as a bonus, the artist gets most of the money (70%). It's a very logical extension to Mikseri.net, a place for new artists to show off and let everyone listen. The pieces are slowly getting there to topple over the music hegemony... Maybe this store will fail - but others will follow. And one of them is going to be really, really good.
(Thanks to Digitoday for the tip.)
What makes Nokia, BSA, Microsoft, medical companies and FFII band together? Suggestion by the EU commission that patent infringements would become criminal offenses, and punishable by jail. Not even the MPAA is too excited about this proposed law: "This proposed law doesn't add anything for us."
However, the jerkheads at the European Commission seem to be intent on pushing it forward. I can't really see anyone from lobbying something stupid like this: For any corporation, patent lawyers are already an expensive resource. In the IT world, everyone knows that everyone is infringing on everyone's patents already (because they are too many and too vague), and at the moment patents are pretty much a risk management exercise: is it worth it for the corporation?
Should employees suddenly become personally liable for patent infringements, I would find it very difficult to continue to be an engineer and innovate. If employees suddenly start to quit because they fear possible legal problems for doing their regular, everyday job, any product-making corporation in the world is in deep trouble. I could go to jail for something I believe in - but to go to jail for your employer? No thanks. I'd rather start a pizza joint in Philadelphia. The effects might even be worse for universities and smaller companies, which concentrate solely on research.
We Finns have a saying: "mopo pääsi käsistä", which can roughly be translated as "while doing a wheelie, my sub-50 cc engine motorcycle escaped from my direct control." I think this is what is happening here: the goonies at the EC seem to have bought the intellectual property thing with the line, hook and sinker, and are now rampaging through the IPR scenery like horny bulls: screwing everything, thinking that IPR needs to be protected at all costs.
Someone, stop them, before it gets too late. I don't particularly want to move to Philadelphia...
I am weak. I bought World of Warcraft. No blog. No speak.
Need more money.
I still don't comprehend exactly how, but I managed to destroy my entire phonebook from my cell phone and TWO backups. I assure you it wasn't easy; it really needs dedication, stubborn ignorance of warnings, complete lapse of common sense, and access to a flashing station. So before you blame the cell phone, I assure you this was entirely my mistake.
So, if I'm not calling you it's not because I'm impolite.
It's because I'm a moron.
Subscribing to an RSS feed on a mobile device is hard: the browser is not connected to an RSS reader, so you need to type the entire URL into your feed reader (and they typically contain all sorts of nasty characters that require 11 fingers, your nose and a dead chicken to type). The other possibility is to use some sort of a preloaded directory, but with 70 million blogs and feeds out there, it's not likely that your favourites are going to be on that list.
Well, I've been talking about NFC before - you just touch a small tag with your mobile phone, and things happen. It seems that two companies in Japan are now using tags so that users can just touch them to subscribe to an RSS feed. No need for anything else - just grab your phone, touch a tag, and you will start getting news. Of course, it actually requires you to first find the tag you want to subscribe to... But if it's embedded in an object ("touch here to start receiving news and updates about your new car"), or available on location ("touch here to get the latest lunch menus to your mobile phone") then it should not be a problem.
It's strange: after all this time of trying to "virtualize" the life: making it more and more location and time independent, giving us the freedom to be anywhere with anyone at anytime, a technology comes along that works from the fact that you are there, physically present, thinking about things that are right in front of you. And I don't think that's a very far-fetched assumption.
Most people live a very location-bound life: many of us travel between home, work, and grocery store, with only occasional trips to other places. Finding the right tags might not be such a problem after all.
BTW, there's a nice article about the promise of NFC in this weeks Economy Technology Quarterly (€). I say promise, because it's still quite a lot about marketing fluff. But what I like about the article is that it's very feet-on-the-ground: "it's too early to tell whether it will fly, it certainly looks good, important companies are backing it up, market is growing, we'll see". Maybe the Great Bubbles taught us something?
Leena Ryynänen, the chairman of The Association of Finnish Broadcasters says, that "radio is not media, it's entertainment. For listeners, the most important criteria is music." (To be precise, she's using the word "tiedotusväline", which literally means media, but in Finnish the word is more limited than in English - I guess the closest translation is "journalistic media".)
Well, if that's your attitude, then personal music players and podcasting are so going to kick your ass. Why would I possibly want to listen to the dumbed down playlists of a two-hit radio station, when I can carry my entire music library with me - with far, far better selection than a single-channel radio could ever have?
It's true. Weird, but true. See for yourself.
(In the mean time [pun intended], record industry attacks people who make specialized browsers for viewing song lyrics.)
Update: And now they're going after the lyrics sites, by planning to throw the maintainers to jail. What do they think this is, Wild West? They'd love to have public hangings, I'm sure...
MPA president Lauren Keiser said he wanted site owners to be jailed.
Guitar licks and song scores are widely available on the internet but are "completely illegal", he told the BBC.
Mr Keiser said he did not just want to shut websites and impose fines, saying if authorities can "throw in some jail time I think we'll be a little more effective".
13% of Europeans write or contribute to a blog regularly, and 12% of Europeans have also listened to a podcast, says Blog Herald.
I've been banging code like a madman to get this thing done by last Sunday. Well, the Finnish Independence Day gave me just enough time to wrap everything up, and post the following onto the JSPWiki blog:
(Of course, we already have our first bug fix release out, too... Within two hours someone already found a bug. Download the nightly (2.3.51) for it. It's not fatal...)
...but the Atom feed format is now an official IETF Standards Track RFC. Congrats to everyone!
What does it mean? It means that now there is an properly specified, standardized way of doing feeds for news, podcasts, blogs, and a whole lot of other content. It does roughly the same things as RSS, but it's a bit more well-rounded for a lot of stuff. Since the same extensions work for them both, I don't feel there's going to be a lot of competition between these two, except for artificial competition created by people who have a dependencies on either format. Atom is relatively easy to generate, and most user's couldn't care less - they just subscribe to whatever feed they might find.
Atom is one of those things that will now just slowly grow in the woodworks, and only geeks will care, while everyone else will label it as "who cares". But it will be an integral part of the future infrastructure of the internet. It's much like say, TCP/IP, which grew quietly, and is now inside almost every sufficiently complex device.
What was this thing about liberty, egality and brotherhood? Maybe I misread. Maybe it was something like: "Thou shalt not aid a fellow man without compensation."
Submission, restriction and consumption. Those are the ideals of the Republic these days.
(Via Boing Boing, which details also some other insane copyright stuff that is going on in France these days.)
Update: Reading through different interpretations of this text it seems that the free software banning thing is just incidental: they want to impose mandatory DRM on every software that can handle multimedia (including streaming). Of course, this does automatically exclude any open source program from the game. It also includes P2P software, IRC and instant messaging, too, since they can be used to transmit copyrighted material in a peer-to-peer fashion.
Update2: The French FSF has opened an English section of their site. Apparently the law is being pushed through on a fast track (so that the public has no time to react), and it forbids everyday uses such as: "Creating your own compilations from a CD, extracting your favourite piece of music to listen to it on your computer, transfering it on a MP3 player, lending a CD to a friend, reading a DVD with free software or duplicating it to be able to enjoy it at home and in your country house."
Got this off from Bruce Schneier's blog:
No, really. In an obscure "policy" document released around 9 p.m. ET last Friday, the FCC announced this remarkable decision.
According to the three-page document, to preserve the openness that characterizes today's Internet, "consumers are entitled to run applications and use services of their choice, subject to the needs of law enforcement." Read the last seven words again.
The FCC didn't offer much in the way of clarification. But the clearest reading of the pronouncement is that some unelected bureaucrats at the commission have decreeed that Americans don't have the right to use software such as Skype or PGPfone if it doesn't support mandatory backdoors for wiretapping. (That interpretation was confirmed by an FCC spokesman on Monday, who asked not to be identified by name. Also, the announcement came at the same time as the FCC posted its wiretapping rules for Internet telephony.)
Considering that the Finnish minister of traffic and communications wants to enable massive-scale censorship of the internet... It won't take long before other Finns start talking about more regulation of the internet.
I agree with Kari Haakana: The Internet is not really a medium, and we don't need regulation of it any more than we need regulation of "paper", "radio frequencies" or "discussions in a bar". The internet is like being able to tune in into any discussion anywhere on any bar, street, museum, cafe, or any other public place. There is nothing in our history that has prepared us for this, and a lot of people are now running around a lot, doing lots of handwaving and hoping it will all go away and be controlled. Attempting to filter the internet by force is like trying to tell people to stop talking about certain things whenever they are in a public place. What happens? People move to private homes - on the internet, they move to encrypted, invitation only -channels, which are way more secure than a private home.
Once you start "filtering" the really bad things out of the internet, you have entered a slippery slope, where you start to "filter" other, pettier criminal things too - such as potential copyright infringements. Then you start to filter "wrong opinions". Then you're China. And this is fine as long as you're doing it to yourself. But if ISPs or the government starts regulating what kind of content you can view on the internet - that's bad. Every single limitation to a person's freedom to read, see and hear things must be taken with utmost care and deliberation. In public. With common understanding, that it does not make the thing go away - we just agree it to be a taboo.
Internet filtering will distort our sense of reality, much in the same way as if we moved all hobos outside of the city limits and pretended that they didn't exist. Wouldn't it be much better to go after the source of the problem, and not blame the mouth for cursing, or the paper for blasphemy?
Some of you may remember an old Dutch TV series, from 198..2 or 3, where a crossing by seven roads and a guy with green hair played a big role. Well, it turns out that even the obscure TV series like that have their own web site. Listen to the title tune - it is eerily familiar...
Another good oldie were the Norwegian Brødrene Dal who traveled through time and space to hunt for professor Drøvels secrets, and later on, crystal stones. I loved this series, though the clips on the site referenced make me cringe.
It's funny how the net contains so much stuff that can ruin all your old fond memories of things.
(Big thanks to Biena!)
Today I had an interesting meeting, which highlighted something that I call the "Slide Three Problem":
- In any given technical presentation to management, you can't get past Slide Three.
The reason is simple: after Slide 1 (title and your name), you get into Slide 2, which usually generates so much freeform discussion, which concentrates on a single problem only, so you get to show a third slide - which probably generates more than enough discussion to last for the entire rest of the time.
You get to choose Slide 1, and Slide 2, but the choice of Slide Three is really up to the people in the room. They'll pick up on something on Slide 2 that they disagree with or want to challenge, and then you'd better have a Good Slide Three among the rest of your slides, which will be the focus of the debate. The others just became... garbage.
It does not really matter, whether the material has been read in advance or not (most often not, or perhaps only cursorily). You still have no power over which one is going to be the Slide Three.
I know that challenging each other is the way of working at large corporations (I know MS is very good at this). There are extremely bright people around, and they grasp ideas extremely rapidly. Sometimes they can pinpoint the problems fast, sometimes they don't. Sometimes you spend an hour explaining matters all over, because of a communication problem - you try and try to understand what the other guy really wants (or needs) to hear, and what his real problem is. Sometimes it can be just a simple misunderstanding; sometimes it can be a political issue; sometimes it can be a financial issue masquerading as a technical issue; sometimes it's a personal issue masquerading as a political issue masquerading as a technical issue; and sometimes it can be a serious technical issue that the person just cannot communicate efficiently. And sometimes you're just too stupid or inexperienced to get what the other guy is saying. It takes a long time to be able to do "efficient challenges"; problems that are not the result of poor preparation or inadequate communication skills.
I know, I do it myself, too, so I am no better than anyone else. Perhaps this is the reason why slides from the management are always so vague - they move at such a high level, and have so little real content, that there really is nothing you even could disagree with? I would really like to know if there's any way to mitigate this without resorting to drawing pretty, but empty pictures, and talking more vaguely than politician who knows he's done bad things.
(Or is it just that I make for a really lousy presenter, who can't keep his audience in check for two slides? Might be. Should I be more assertive? I know I can already be extremely assertive (to the point of a serious fault), but it's hard to judge by yourself.)
In November, this server (i.e. all my domains) served 35160 unique visitors, who came by 90979 times, and loaded 676568 pages causing 1333493 hits, moving a total of 15.73 GB. Almost all content was served by the open source JSPWiki software, running on (equally open source) Tomcat and Apache. Thank you.
Here's a bit of something I stole off David Weinberger after hearing his presentation this morning:
The traditional media often claims that bloggers are self-absorbed, self-obsessed egomaniacs raving about themselves. Well, count all the outbound links - links that point to someone else than the blogger - on typical blogs such as mine, or say, Doc Searls, and compare that to the average number of outbound links on a typical news paper internet page, say Helsingin Sanomat - and then ask which one of them is self-absorbed.
Private comments? Drop me an email. Or complain in a nearby pub - that'll help.
|"Main" last changed on 06-Mar-2012 10:13:04 EET by JanneJalkanen.|