Why we can never allow what the MPAA and RIAA want… NEVER

Forward:

    This was originally a letter I wrote to my district representative, Renee Ellmers. I decided that it suited my needs for an “In my own words” response to the current legislation before Congress and the House.


CLIFFS: (i.e. a brief summary of the WOT before you [wall of text])
1st third: How I became the man I am through the anonymnity of the internet and why it should be preserved.
last two-thirds: A clear argument for why this issue isn’t just about piracy and never can be.

Take Action image of the PDF file

Google and others fight back...

I apologize in advance for not being aware of your stance on issues such as the recently introduced PIPA and SOPA bills, but since I generally avoid politics I find myself ill-equipped knowledge-wise when approaching my representatives.

It is, however, an imperative for me to communicate to you and my other district representation the extent to which I stand in opposition of this type of legislation.  While I confess this is lengthy, I urge you to read through it so that you can gather how deeply damaging this type of legislation would be to who and what the current environment of anonymous, free and open information has made my generation as well as the one the followed us; the current one.

How the anonymnity of the Internet made me who I am today

Unlike the vast majority of your constituents I have been actively involved in the development of the Internet since as early as 1980.  At a mere 5 years of age I began to familiarize myself with WildCat BBS, SMTP email, Internet Relay Chat (IRC), gopher and other, less well-known technologies through my father’s friend and colleague whom I will call ‘Dennis’.Dennis had a rare thing in the early 80s: a very large satellite up-link to the Internet.  With the assistance of an extensive bank of modems and a hefty telephone bill he was able to provide internet services to small businesses (and even some larger ones) throughout all of Eastern Horry County, South Carolina (further if you were willing to pay the extended range fees our coop imposed for not-quite-long-distance).

By the time I was 14 I had already used my meager salary and a loan from my father to purchase my first 286SX (with a 287 math co-processor and a whopping 256k of SIPP memory!) Two things at this time changed my life forever.  The first began with the aforementioned WildCat BBS.  By this time I had become assistant sysop on the ISP and as such I had access to virtually the entire system.  While perusing some of the shared files I came across some child pornography.  I worked anonymously with the local FBI office providing detailed information that lead directly to the arrest and prosecution of the person responsible.  The oh-so-important thing here is ANONYMITY.  I was a child and I knew that if the true nature of my age came out it could (and probably would) prevent justice from being administered.

Only a short time later I realized that while being a computer freak had helped bolster my math skills, literary dexterity and broadened my general knowledge it had not done a thing for my social life.  I was one of the few geeks capable of understanding that while appearances and mannerisms SHOULD not affect one’s acceptance in society, it most definitely DID affect it.  Through the anonymity provided by the internet I was able to engineer no fewer than fourteen distinct personalities built up from traits that I possessed and some that I was considering developing.  I then would act out these personalities according to scripted performances with other people in live online activities all the while observing and documenting the response(s) of others to the personality traits I was considering adopting.

I fully understand that this is far more analytic, methodical and scientific than the processes followed by most of my peers during adolescence but it seemed the most logical course of action to me at the time.  Even so, it worked.  I was able, with a few notable exceptions, to successfully adopt the most admired and successful traits and integrate them into my personality.  I have continued to hone this skill of intentional self-help development throughout my adult life and career and it has served me quite well in job searches and social engagements.The point of all of this is that the person writing this, the personality that I call “myself”, would never and could never exist in a social environment dominated by the legal restraints imposed upon the users and uses of our social technology by SOPA and PIPA.

Is this really about “Piracy”?

Moving past the issue of anonymity I must next direct your attention to the issue of Piracy, the foundational issue upon which these monstrously misguided bills are constructed.Some organizations among whom I single out the MPAA, RIAA, SBA as well as a very (very) few ‘pen and ink’ authors would have you believe that intellectual property ‘piracy’ is substantially reducing their profit margins and possibly even threatening their respective industries.  They are lying. Oh yes, I called them on it: they are LYING outright and unabashedly for the pathetically despicable combination of vices known as LAZINESS and GREED.

Wher authors destroyed by the public library system which allows people to go out and pick up books free of charge, read them, and then return them without ever so much as sending a single penny to the author?  Not even close, quite the opposite in fact.

Wher the production companies, movie studios, distribution labels and other companies involved in the motion picture industry destroyed, as they claimed they would be, by the VHS tape?  Of course not.  In point of fact they quickly found out that they were making far more than ever before!  Suddenly the movies that were too old or lacking to be worthy of a run in the theater could generate revenue streams indefinitely!

Now comes the Internet.  Suddenly it is possible for a relatively unskilled person with limited knowledge to find, download and watch a movie or listen to a song they haven’t paid for… or have they?First off, let’s consider how this “IP” (a term I will attack later for it’s lunacy) gets on the internet.

  1. Someone with access to a viable recorded medium (preview disk, rental, video camera in a theater, etc…Smilie: ;) creates a compressed digital copy of the ‘IP’.  While it is true that an uneducated person might get lucky and create a viable copy of a DVD using a simple ‘plug and rip’ technology like drip it is pretty rare.  Most of the time the person making the copy has to understand compression algorithms, bit-rates, aspect ratio, playback speed, encoding quality, buffering… I’m losing you aren’t I?  Suffice it to say that creating a high-quality distributional copy of a movie is non-trivial.
  2. Someone, possibly the same someone but unlikely, with access to relatively high-end hosting equipment needs to provide the initial share.  Even when considering P2P technology the initial ‘seeding process’ requires extensive bandwidth.
  3. Promotion and cross-linking drive the knowledge of the source up the chain until it has been sufficiently seeded to be generally available to the average Internet-savvy seeker.

Let’s rehash shall we? For some reason an intelligent and well-educated person collaborates with another intelligent and well-educated person to commit a potentially life-destroying crime that requires the identical equipment, time, expense and knowledge of a modern media publishing house or distributor.  Surely that has to be for money right?  Nope.  It isn’t for a single cent of money.

Well then it’s fame right?  You get famous for doing this right?  Are you friggin’ kidding me????  You may have a famous pseudonymous avatar that has absolutely no ties whatever to your real identity but to allow ANYONE, even your family, to know that that avatar is really you would be fatal to your freedom.

Ok, so why on earth are they doing this?  If it’s not for money or fame what could it be for?  Try this: freedom.  It’s a technological revolution.  It’s a fight to the dirty end against big money’s grip on information and the dissemination of that information.

Do you remember the first time that you saw “Mr Smith goes to Washington”?  Do you remember how angry it made you when that political machine destroyed the reputation of Mr. Smith.  While the politician in the movie owned the machine, we all know who really owns the machine: the distributors.  The pipeline.  The telephone, cable and publishing houses that control what gets out at what price and at what time can totally control what and how people think by simply manipulating a few of the massive number of variables that control the dissemination of information to the public.

In a country where nearly everyone has the ability to say something nearly everything gets said.  It isn’t WHAT is said that matters… it’s about WHO SEES AND HEARS IT.

So then consider this: if there ever becomes a way for someone to have absolute control over who can and cannot read, watch or listen to a piece of content, no matter who OWNS it, we have ALL LOST.  If one can sufficiently control distribution for the purpose of limiting unauthorized access, the very next logical step is to limit access to unauthorized information.

It has always happened throughout history and we, as a society and as a species, haven’t changed that much yet…

This isn’t about anyone watching a movie or listening to a song they didn’t pay for… this is about control of information… we can’t allow it or we will ALL lose.

Posted in educational/instructive, Life Update, Philosphy, Rants, Technical, Weblog, Work Related Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,

Translating ancient Greek!

I have started working on the ancient lives project at http://ancientlives.org/ and so far I really think it’s cool. I sincerely hope that I will have the time to do some serious translation even though I know it is highly unlikely.

link: Ancient Lives.org
Transcription link: Transcribe
Guys who made it possible (flash development site):Zooniverse.org
Other similar projects: Zooniverse Projects

Posted in Articles on Religion, educational/instructive, hobbies, Life Update, Philosphy, Reviews, Weblog Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Added github plugin

I downloaded and activated the github gist plugin so that I could link directly to github gists from my wordpress posts.

Plugin location: http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/github-gist/

Posted in Weblog Tagged , , ,

An update long overdue…

CIS Development Logo
I know that anyone that was previously following my ‘blog and then saw that suddenly no updates were forthcoming may have wondered what happened to me.

I don’t want to go into too many details about the specifics, but basically this is it:

Things at G.C.S. got a little tight because I wasn’t used to working 1099. I expected payment immediately upon submission of the completion of a work unit. Unfortunately when doing contract work it often takes 3-6 weeks for a check to come in. That’s perfectly fine if you are a company and you have budgeted for that kind of delay, but when you are living paycheck to paycheck it can be very tough.

I still intend to go back and pick up where I left off with GCS when things went south. I know that I really upset Netsonic and LAE and I understand why they would be upset with me: I lost everything and was unable to fulfill my contractual obligations that I had made with people who trusted me. I will consider this a hard lesson learned on how NOT to run a consultancy and I will, in the future and if I ever make this attempt again, manage things quite differently especially on the financial and labor hour fronts with a tremendous amount of additional time budgeted for documentation and office/clerical work.

When things got a little tough at GCS I decided to go ahead and take on another full-time job. Perhaps some day I will be able to completely sustain myself off of GCS, but the truth is that right now the economy just isn’t right and I simply can’t do enough at the same time to both run my company, design solutions, make proposals, hire designers and coders, document work, manage projects, write code, manage databases, manage systems and budget finances and still have enough time to get anything else done with the rest of my life.

Right now the LAE project is backed up and ready for immediate restart but with CIS demanding a tremendous amount of dedication right now I just can subdivide myself any further at this time. I know that I have a great deal to offer and I know that as soon as I get it in place my future will be forever secure with this company. The thing is that I have to actually get established first and show the P.O.C. that I have in mind.

I know for a fact that I have L.A.E. sitting in mothballs right now and that I absolutely MUST get over on that and keep working on it, but between raising two children, a new job, trying to find a home, trying to take care of everything involved in moving to NC and the company that I’m working for being less than 10 years old and really needed the expertise of someone that has done all of this IT stuff before for larger companies and who knows how to accomplish the impossible on virtually no budget I am needed here.

Wish me luck! Things are going to getting very very interesting in my life soon!

Posted in Life Update, Philosphy, Reviews, Technical, Weblog, Website, Work Related

Other men sometimes make me ashamed of my sex…

housewife-happy Many of us have stay-at-home wives. It’s easy for us to think of our lives as though we provide for everything. After all, we go to work and break our backs all day and bring home the pay right?

But honestly, how often do we think about how much is done at home in our absence? How often do we consider the number of things that our women do at home while we are gone? Grocery shopping, childcare, cleaning, laundry, running errands, balancing budgets… there is a lot of effort and planning that goes into running an efficient home.

Don’t get me wrong, this is in NO WAY meant to be an excuse for those women that sit at home letting the kids run around in diapers and don’t bother to do anything worthwhile… this is about those women who actually put their fair share in on the at-home work.

I’m lucky enough of a man to have played both roles, that of the mom and that of the dad. When I was married to my ex I had to care for the children, cook the meals, do the laundry, go grocery shopping and mow the lawn, take out the trash, pay the bills and balance the checkbook, pay the taxes and go to work at a full-time job (actually more like 60 hours a week since I’m a software engineer).

When I compare my life at work to my life at home I have to confess that the work I did for my employer that paid all of the bills was actually nowhere near as strenuous as what I was doing at home taking care of four children.

If you are a husband that goes to work all day and your wife stays home with the children and that wife actually puts effort into the smooth running of your home by making sure that you all get good hot meals, the laundry gets done, the kids homework gets checked, the grocery list gets filled out and checked at the store, the babies get fed and read to and changed and paid attention to during the day, the house gets cleaned up and you always have a clean shirt to wear for work then you really really owe it to her to stay home one day and take her place.

It will probably be the biggest and best dose of wisdom you could ever give yourself for understanding your significant other half and for really seeing what her value is. I challenge any of you to take the time to do a budget, much like your manager does at work, and figure out what it would cost you to hire an administrative assistant who would do all of these things for you. Really think about that for a minute. I used to have to budget hiring a CNA and they refused to do anything other than physical care for my ex wife. I also hired a few maids to clean my house with me and when I combine the cost of the CNA, the laundry service, the trash service, the daycare, the maid service, a taxi service (for running around the kids) it came out to FAR MORE than I have ever allocated to anyone I love as an allowance.

So if you read this, think about it. Then go out and buy your significant other a nice bouquet of flowers and take them to him or her. Tell them how much you love them and how much you appreciate what they do. It’s the least you can do because I assure you the financial impact of that much labor is far more than you can really afford to pay anyone.

Posted in Philosphy, Rants, Weblog

What a week…

Wrote a script to process a report on the inbound data for a client’s clients and then I got allocated to the admins in order to get nagios working.

Posted in Rants, Technical Tagged , , ,

Sunday morning…

matt_sunday_morning_at_southlight

Dear God… Sunday mornings suck…

Posted in Rants, Weblog Tagged , , , , ,

SourceForge.net: CurlFtpFS: Modify: 3357050 – OPENDIR/READDIR vs. LIST

So I finally submitted a bug report for curlftpfs to support backwards-comparability for the LIST command over the OPENDIR,READDIR,RELEASEDIR command set.

SourceForge.net: CurlFtpFS: Modify: 3357050 – OPENDIR/READDIR vs. LIST.

Posted in Technical, Weblog

I <3 Project Euler

I need to brush up on my skills in my proficient languages. Typically I do this by developing solutions I invent for the given languages. It doesn’t prove anything to anyone except perhaps making me more ready to answer questions posed in interviews, but it does help me remember things I’ve forgotten.

Now, however, with Project Euler I can actually publicize my ability to solve problems as I solve them!

My stats so far:
Projet Euler SkyLeach Progress.

Posted in Weblog

Please bear with me…

Site reconstruction in codeAround 2007-2008 I moved SkyLeach.com to SkyLeach.org due to the loss of my domain to a squatter and because I was running a small server farm through my personal company, Gregory Consulting Services. During the intervening three years from early ’08 to late ’10 I had spent a lot of time and energy completely revamping and rebuilding my site and making it functional. Long-story-short, my backup was incomplete, I don’t have the server farm up anymore, rebuilding the site and restoring the database are going to take time.

Basically, I’ve spent a couple of hours getting “YE OLDE SIGHT” on phpwebhosting.net back up and running. Eventually I’ll import by backup of the database and get all the other/good plugins installed and such, but for now I’m just doing minimal work to get this thing up and running the way that it should be.

Posted in Rants, Technical, Weblog, Website Tagged , , , , , ,