Tuesday, April 28, 2009

A Word on the Free Market Economy…

I recently commented on a friends blog about the ‘merits’ of piracy and their potential role in the marketplace.  Granted, my comments were a bit tongue in cheek and I don’t begrudge the views of my esteemed colleague, but I thought I would take some of my own space in the blogosphere to weigh in on the topic.

It’s not uncommon for moderately techno-savvy people I know to shake their heads and squint when I take the position that I refuse to download and distribute media that I don’t have a legitimate right to do any such thing with.  I can remember vividly some discussions with my kids about why I wasn’t going to allow them to install lime-wire or other media sharing applications on our home computer.  I also have been known to take a hard line about them even ‘borrowing’ media that has been ‘burnt’ so that they can play it on our equipment at home.

In our home, we use digital media quite frequently.  Every single song we own has been purchased legitimately from an on-line store like iTunes or puretracks.  We buy DVDs from either Wal-Mart or Best Buy.  We have ripped some of the CDs that we’ve bought over the years so that we can load them on our MP3 players, but I flatly refuse when someone asks me for a copy.  It is common for us to loan or give books away after we have read them, but lending of written texts is not a right that is typically reserved by these copyright holders…copy, reproduction and redistribution is.

We don’t do this because we feel the need to fritter away our money on big corporations that are ‘just in it for the money’ or because we are afraid of getting virus or even because we want to make sure that the money goes to the artists.  We do this for the same reasons that we vote, pay taxes and write our politicians…because it is how our society is supposed to work.

I am troubled when I hear an argument that it is ok to copy music and media (illegally) because anyone can do it easily.  To be honest, when someone gives me that argument, I don’t even continue the conversation because there is actually no thought being put into the repercussions of such things.

Don’t misunderstand me, at one point in my life, I saw nothing wrong with downloading software off the internet with ‘patches’ and key generators.  I can remember being slightly enamored with ‘Napster’ and ‘Morpheus’ when it first came out.  These have all gone the way of the dodo by now, but it never really entered my head that I was doing anything really wrong.

At one point, one of my kids became the quintessential computer addict for chat programs, email, and whatever else they do on the internet; and at one point was getting frustrated that the restrictions I had placed on her home computer account didn’t allow her to connect to a file sharing service on the internet.  Knowing that I was the key to solving this problem, she came to me and asked me to ‘fix it’ for her.

Somewhat hypocritically, as I listened to what she was trying to do, I decided that what she wanted was just not right.  I didn’t think that she should be able to swap around whatever she wanted on the Internet (perhaps do to some control issues on my part, but more on that another time) and I flatly refused to help her.  During the ensuing battle, I came to realize that what I was doing was really no different, and I argued my way into what has now become a principle that our family now follows…to the letter.  I can list many arguments for why its only right to buy what is not yours to own, but I don’t think there is as much grey area there as others would like to believe.

Perhaps you could call it dogmatic, perhaps rigid, perhaps some may call it naive.  But the principle is quite simply this: you stand by what you believe, no matter how easy it is not to.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

SPAM – An environmental concern

Yes, you read it right.  Spam, otherwise known as UCE (Unsolicited Commercial Email) is partially responsible for polluting our atmosphere.  According to ABC News, spammers generated over 62 trillion junk messages last year which from an energy point of view is far from trivial.

Instead of sending messages asking for money or marketing Viagra, the electricity used sending the e-mails could have powered 2.4 million homes for a year or driven a car around the planet 1.6 times, according to the report.

I did my part today by installing Exchange server 2003 service pack 2 which includes a handy little thing called Intelligent Message Filter or IMF.  This is a tool by Microsoft which assigns a spam rating to every email that comes in and then you can set a filter to delete, archive or reject email based on the rating without the intended user (victim) ever even knowing about it.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Some good points on Page Design

This is actually a very informative video…I love it!  Daryl sent me this.