M Trail – June 26, 2012

Made it up the M again today.  It was an overcast day, but it was a morning hike.  Thunderstorms appear to be on the horizon as the clouds are moving in.  I tried to capture a bit of morning sunshine peeking through the clouds.  If you look real closely at the picture below, you might see the sliver of sun beams on the mountain across the way. ;-)

M Trail Push – June 25, 2012

Another push up the M Trail today.  I met a lady from Washington state on the trail that did three trips today. She told that she was trying for four, but ran out of time.  Good job!  Who knows, maybe by the end of the summer I will be doing the same thing.  We’ll see. ;-)

MTrail – June 21, 2012

Instead of using the back door today, we opted to use the front door this morning.  This trail includes 13 switchbacks, 1.28 miles, and 650 feet vertical gain to reach the M.  Instead of going down the way we went up, we went down the back side, which made for a slower time due to the need to take our time coming down due to the much less stable path. Fun stuff though!

 

Congress and the Internet – Overreaching?

“Imagine a world where YouTube, Flickr, Facebook or Twitter had never been created due to the cost of regulatory compliance. Imagine an Internet where any website where users can upload text, pictures or video is liable for copyrighted material uploaded to it. Imagine a world where the addresses to those websites could not be found using search engines like Google and Bing, even if you typed them in directly.”

The opening paragraph of this article by Alex Howard should give us all reason to pause and ask the question, “What in the world are these people in Congress thinking?”

This article is lengthy; however, it is worth taking the time to read.  I encourage you to do so, and once you have done so, contact your congressman and let him know where you stand on the issue.

Blown to Bits – Koan 1 – My Take

Koan 1: It’s All Just Bits—Really?

The authors point out correctly in Koan 1 that all of our personal data is made up of ones and zeros.  However, are Abelson, Ledeen and Lewis really correct in their assessment that our digital life is all just bits?

The ones and zeros that make up our digital sphere can be likened to seeds, seeds that when cultivated and nurtured using the tools that are built by software engineers, are restored to our original messages, pictures, and voices.  These bits are no illusion; the bits are the real deal. Much in the same way that a peach seed will, when cultivated, one day grow to become a fruitful peach tree, the digital ones and zeros will proliferate in their own right, transforming back into the tangible components of our natural lives; therefore, the implication that, “Underneath, it’s all just bits” is a paradox.   Our electronic data is so much more.

In the bits world, there is indeed a difference between a text message and a wireless phone call.  For example, special codecs are used to convert an analog voice signal to digitally encoded version.  The same codecs are not required to deliver text messages.  Though the digital ‘matter’ is the same, ones and zeros, the digital ‘DNA’ spawns into the different components that make up our digital self. So while our physical world is comprised of matter that is unique and varied, the basic building blocks are all the same. Such is our digital world. Each carnation—be it a text, a phone call, or digital image— maybe unique, but the elemental parts are constant, the ones and zeroes.

Are ones and zeros, our digital bits, really an illusion?  Are the digital life ‘seeds’ that populate PCs, smart-phones, servers, digital cameras and various digital silos around the globe inconsequential?  The ones and zeros that represent our dreams, communicate our thoughts in text across a screen, in print, or over the airwaves are important and significant.   It is not an illusion that our digital life ‘seeds’ hold great significance to us all that use the Internet and the many other technologies that make up today’s digital world. In the same way that the electrical impulses of our brain encode all the beauty and complexity of our physical worlds, so do the ones and zeroes encode all the beauty of our cyber world.

References:

  1. Abelson, H., Ledeen, K., & Lewis, H. (2008). Blown to bits. Boston: Addison-Wesley.

Ten Ways to Improve System Performance

Are you running Vista or Windows 7? Here are ten ways of enhancing system performance:

  1. Manage startup programs – Open only the applications that essential to you in your work environment. Some programs start themselves automatically when you start Windows Having too many open at the same time will impact performance.
  2. Do you really need the eye-candy to perform your tasks? If not, adjust visual effects. On systems that have the share memory with the graphics engine will see an improvement if adjusted properly.
  3. Adjusting indexing options can improve performance- Indexing options can help you find what you’re looking for quickly and easily on your computer.
  4. Adjust power settings not only saves energy but the computer resumes from power-saving settings more efficiently, and adjust battery usage for portable computers.
  5. Defragment and preform disk cleanup regularly.
  6. Use Advanced tools to establish a baseline and monitor your work activities to insure that things are working efficiently.
  7. Get a good video card – this is key to improving the Windows Experience Index..
  8. Turn off the sidebar – Disabling the sidebar does save system resources.
  9. Use ReadyBoost – Take advantage of faster flash memory instead of the hard drive.
  10. If all else fails, turn off Aero

Digital Rights Management

Digital Rights Management (DRM) is a critical tool that the creative can utilize to protect their intellectual property.   Since we live in a digital world that sees bits being digitized, transported and archived around the globe in milliseconds, it is critical that the creative be empowered to use the same technology to protect their intellectual property.

However, the steps taken by media companies to protect the creative’s rights seem to circumvent the rights of those who purchase the creative’s music, videos, etc.  For example, the secret installation of “rootkits” and other software that is capable of monitoring the use of the property, or can act as a “Trojan horse” that opens a computer to hacking is an overreach and tramples on the rights of the consumer.  Another example of abuse would be the use of an embedded globally unique identifier, or GUID.  The use of this unique identifier makes it possible to track the content a user views and it can upload the list to content viewed to Microsoft’s central server.  These examples alone raise questions that need to be asked in regards to the proper use and implementation of DRM technologies.

In addition to these issues, there are issues surrounding the use of and the defined ownership of a license to use an intellectual property.  While working at a previous employer, I purchased a piece of software for personal use. The license allowed me to install it on two systems.  I was building a prototype for use on a project that I hoped to get off the ground.  To do so, it would require that I make the personal investment and do the work at home on my personal computer.  Once completed, I installed the final product as a runtime on my system at work for demonstration purposes.  I purchased the $400.00 software using my personal credit card.  I registered it under my name and the mailing address included my employer’s name.  Unfortunately, when I updated my computer hardware, I was unable to download and reinstall the software on my new personal computer.  The logic that the software company provided me was that the software belongs to the employer, even though the records on my account showed that I was the original purchaser and owner of the software license.  This is a perfect example of DRM gone haywire.

Admittedly, the rights of the creative needs to be protected and DRM is a technical solution that may provide the means.  However, when software is installed, configured and run without full disclosure to the consumer, problems can arise.  There needs to be a means for the creative, the media companies, consumers and consumer groups to come together and evaluate the problem together to insure that the rights of those creating and distributing the intellectual property and those who purchase the intellectual property are fully protected.

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