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Tuesday, December 23, 2008

London Unveils Sleek Zero-Emission Double Decker Buses

Recently the London Transportation Department held a contest to redesign the iconic Double Decker bus, and we’re excited to announce the winning entry by renowned architects Foster + Partners! They’ve created a zero-emissions, super accessible, and environmentally innovative double decker bus that heralds a new era of sustainable public transportation for London.

 London Unveils Sleek Zero-Emission Double Decker Buses

It's refreshing to see modern design embracing classic styles and familiar heritages. What would London be without the red double decker buses? Does this mean we might see a resurgence of the trolley car in San Francisco? I could see a push to make trolley cars that embrace the nostalgia of old San Francisco with the latest green technology.

Of course, this leads the discussion to the bigger question. What is the future of rail service in the United States? If we pumped as much money into high speed rail as we have to the airline industry, we could be the world leader in mass transit and a model of how to tackle greenhouse gasses. The measure of success could be measured by the number of vehicles you remove from the road in a day. Imagine how much you could reduce the number of long haul trucks with a dedicated high speed freight rail system.

The new rail service could be powered by alternative energy sources placed along the routes. The power options could be decided by local folks at the state level. If NY wants to build a nuclear power plant for their share of the system. That's great. If California wanted to use solar and Pennsylvania wanted to use gas or clean coal, more power to them. Pun intended...

We can't let ourselves be lulled into thinking the problem has been solved because the price of gas is lower. This whole rise and fall should be a reminder to us all just how dependent we are on fossil fuels. If we had headed the warnings from the last energy crisis in the 70's, we'd be a lot better off. As I recall, we heard back then that the technology was 15 to 20 years away and we would be less dependent on oil. Here we are 30 years later and we're hearing the same old crap.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Deja Vu All Over Again: More Undersea Cable Cuts

Internet and telephone traffic between Europe, the Middle East and Asia was hampered today after three major underwater data lines were cut.

The cuts occurred between 07:28 and 08:06 Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) (2:28 a.m. and 03:06 a.m. Eastern) on lines in the Mediterranean Sea that connect Sicily to Tunisia and Egypt.

Undersea cable cuts disrupt Internet access

Ok...I said it once and I'll say it again. It would be completely implausible to believe that three cuts were made in these lines completely by accident.....AGAIN!

If you recall back in January this same scenario played out where three lines were cut simulteneously and it was blamed on ships dragging their anchors. It seems extra suspicious that it has now occurred again and it has severed service to almost the same geographic region. I don't want to sound like a conspiracy theorist here, but there has to be a lot more to this than has been reported by the main stream media.

This has to be a part of some criminal enterprise or perhaps some kind of espionage either corporate or from the intelligence agency of another country. Twice in a twelve month period? No way does that kind of coincedence occur twice in less than a year.

It will be interesting to see if this story gets buried in the media the way it did last time. I'm sure if there is something nefarious going on, the powers that be would want to keep it quiet. Incidents like this, if done intentionaly, could seriously undermine the integrity of the internet as well as the financial and credit markets that depend on a secure environment to transact business.

We'll have to keep our ears open for any more on this story.

RIAA Announces Plan to End Lawsuits

After years of suing thousands of people for allegedly stealing music via the Internet, the recording industry is set to drop its legal assault as it searches for more effective ways to combat online music piracy.

The decision represents an abrupt shift of strategy for the industry, which has opened legal proceedings against about 35,000 people since 2003. Critics say the legal offensive ultimately did little to stem the tide of illegally downloaded music. And it created a public-relations disaster for the industry, whose lawsuits targeted, among others, several single mothers, a dead person and a 13-year-old girl.

Instead, the Recording Industry Association of America said it plans to try an approach that relies on the cooperation of Internet-service providers. The trade group said it has hashed out preliminary agreements with major ISPs under which it will send an email to the provider when it finds a provider's customers making music available online for others to take.

I'm not sure if this is good news or not. While I'm glad to hear that they aren't planning on suing anyone besides heavy file sharers, I think it's bad for internet users in general. Having the RIAA team up with ISP's in an effort to stem copyright infringement opens the door for the RIAA to become even more heavy handed by circumventing the courts all together. Look how long it took for someone to actually take the RIAA to full trial. Only then did their tactics unravel and the holes in their plans become obvious. 

I think, as many others do, that letting the ISP's become content police is horrible. Should the US Postal Service be allowed to open the mail of people who have a high volume of mail? Should the postal service be inspecting every package to make sure people aren't sending anything illegal. Just because a package weighs 2.2 pounds, doesn't mean it's likely a kilo of cocaine or heroin. It certainly wouldn't be sufficient grounds for a search. 

Another question that comes to mind is why would the ISP's want this role? What's in it for them? Perhaps they envision enough of a drop in traffic (from throttling bit torrent etc) where they could further put off investing money into infrastructure that can handle the huge increase in traffic created by video, voip and file-sharing. 

The more likely scenario is that it's easier to play ball with the RIAA than it is to defend a huge lawsuit that challenges the "safe harbour" laws that protect them. One would think that the ISP's would want to remain neutral and not have the added expense of filtering and throttling. It seems like the RIAA is trying to put the ISP's directly in the crosshairs of consumer ire. Any way you look at it, this can't be a good deal for the ISP's bottom line.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Will DDA Technology Revolutionise Music?

The new digital album format called DDA is being called the future of music, able to store hundreds of tracks, lyrics, photos and liner notes usually found on an album sleeve. The technology allows for all these features to be stored on a pocket size USB memory stick. Northern Territory musician Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu will be one of the first artists to release albums using this format in the New Year."

DDA Technology to revolutionise the music industry - ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Axl Rose Tells His Version of Events

Apparently, Guns and Rose frontman Axl Rose has been frequenting GnR message boards. If you have 15 or 20 minutes, you can read his rambling on about everything from the breakup to the new album. It appears he's been stung a bit from criticism for using the name even though he's the only remaining original member. I must admit that Rose does have some valid points and asks some good questions of his former bandmates and management. 

I'm not sure whether I buy Axl's version of events, moreover, I'm not sure I care. I do think the new album is pretty good, but even at it's best, it pales in comparison to Appetite or Illusions. While it's great to hear some fresh tracks from Axl, the album as a whole doesn't make me jump up and down with excitement. I will give Axl one bone up in this rift....the album is better than either of the Velvet Revolver albums.

Axl Rose Chat #3


Before I could even post this, I saw another story of Axl duking it out with other fans on the same forum. I'll have to dig a bit to find the actual post...

Monday, December 15, 2008

Marijuana Legalization Tops List of Questions for Obama in Online Poll

(SALEM, Ore.) - I am not surprised that the number one thing Americans are asking President-elect Barack Obama is whether or not he is going to legalize marijuana. Generations are changing and evolving and the taboos around cannabis are slowly falling away.

American industries can harness the power of this multi-billion dollar, still mostly black market business. The attitude of people in this country is in a mode of great anticipation and change. Barack Obama is already on the record saying he does not want to use the Justice Department to bust state operated medical marijuana dispensaries

Marijuana Legalization Tops List of Questions for Obama in Online Poll - Salem-News.Com

It will be interesting to see what response, if any, we get from the Obama team. I wouldn't be suprised if someone dug into the web site stats to see if the system has been "gamed" to put this topic to number one. It may be a legitimate "snapshot" of where the public stands on issues, but one certainly has to wonder about our priorities if it is. Then again, it would certainly give our economy a new sector with a very large cashflow.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

A Real Life Pink Panther Heist

Their timing was as impeccable as a Tourbillon, a luxury timepiece whose name means whirlwind.

As the second hand ticked, four men — three disguised as women with long blond tresses, sunglasses and winter scarves — stood in front of an intercom and demurely requested to enter the fabled Harry Winston jewelry store on Avenue Montaigne. It was just before closing time on a chilly evening along this golden triangle of boutiques that includes Dior, Chanel and Gucci, the ornate facades and trees resplendent with Christmas lights.....

This sounds like a movie plot that has come to life. The world is getting very interesting lately.  Jewel thieves and pirates etc.....it makes one wonder what might be next!

The Heist at Harry’s - NYTimes.com

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Alice's Restaurant

It's that special day of the year when you have to listen to Arlo Guthrie before you eat some turkey...

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

It's Been A Long Eight Years!!!

It's time to catch up with the "Wassup" guys eight long republican years later.

Friday, October 31, 2008

20 Halloween Costumes That Will Get You Laughed Out of a Party

What follows are 20 samples from the bottom end of the costume spectrum--good for inspiring a healthy mixture of douche-chills and rage. If you're wearing one of these, consider yourself warned: those guys aren't getting up from the bar to come over and shake your hand. They're probably coming over to kick your ass for being a dork.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Google Fucks iGoogle Users Without a Reach Around!

Changes went into effect today for iGoogle users without warning and without the ability to opt out. As I was searching about for answers to that age old question, "What the fuck just happened to my homepage?", I ended up in Google groups. The reaction there wasn't even close to being lukewarm. There were people there that were even more pissed off than I am....if that's possible. Many of the posts were from people who were already wondering aloud who their new homepage and email provider would be. In the time it took me to post my diatribe there were 8 equally venomous posts added.

Based on the moderator's lame-ass post in the thread, it would appear that Google simply doesn't care and they think this is an improvement. Here's what he said...

"We've been gathering input on the new features for several weeks from this group, usability testing, statistical analysis, and survey data. 

All of this feedback is important to us and while we weren't able to respond to all of them, I want to assure you we've been listening. 

The new iGoogle features went through the same development process that all our products do: we prototype them, and put them through a vigorous set of usability tests and experiments to make sure we are doing the right thing for users. The iGoogle features we're launching today went through this exact process and we've made changes along the way based on feedback from users and developers. Specific examples of  the impact of this group: 

* A narrower navigation area on the left side of the page.   

* An option to remove the snippets displayed with feeds.

* Gmail reply added was added as soon as possible. 

Coming soon:
 * Proper links in Gmail  
 * Drag 'n' drop gadgets between tabs 
 * Chat
 * More canvas view gadgets"

iGoogle Guide

As you can tell by Paul's post, foisting this upon the users was a well thought out plan that was approved of by more than one person. Are these people they hired from Redmond? I suggest you stay tuned to watch the fallout from this debacle. The Google haters will be coming out in droves to point out the "Evil" that they have perpetrated....the rest of us just want our damn homepage back the way it was!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Can the Kindle Replace Textbooks?

I've been a strong advocate of eliminating text books for years. Why do people always frame the discussion at the college level? Do you have any idea how much money is spent in our local school districts just buying and replacing textbooks?

The Kindle is a good idea, but it's not much more than an overpriced piece of crap. For $389 you could buy a laptop or tablet that would do all that and more. The Kindle can't highlight relevant text and it also has no means of making notations. It's just not practical for educational purposes. There are better approaches available today, but like the Kindle, they are hampered by outside forces.

One of the problems here is the entrnchment of the publishing and printing industries. Much like the music and movie industry, publishers are very set in their ways. They can see the world changing around them, but for some unknown reason, they are loathe to do anything about it. All one needs to do is examine the decline of the newspaper business and it's easy to see where publishing is headed. The educational publishing segment is perhaps the part of the industry that has buried their collective heads in the sand the deepest. Having a captive audience to dictate terms to, they have become so accustomed to their way they can't envision things working any differently.

I would rather see my tax dollars go to paying for IT employees to run the network at the school than pouring money down the drain on textbooks or useless things like the Kindle. In addition to the obvious benefits of replacing textbooks, every student would be learning valuable computer skills as well. Each school would aslo be perfectly set up to teach IT classes and computer repair classes. Adults displaced from their printing or paper mill jobs could be retrained at the schools to transition to tech jobs.

I'm very suprised that we haven't seen any of the computer manufacturers or software giants (ahem! Microsoft, Google, Apple, Dell etc...) step up to the plate and make school districts around the country an "offer they can't refuse" to put their products in the hands of every student in the country. Wouldn't this be the Holy Grail of marketing coups? Imagine the customer base you could build if you started grooming potential customers when they start school? One could easily envision a business model much like the cell phone industry. They subsidise the initial cost of the equipment to get you under their umbrella and the money is made by offering additional services and upgrades. A shrewd lobbyist could probably get the Federal government to kick in toward the cost of the equipment so the school district and the company aren't stuck absorbing the initial costs. We may have to trim the dfense budget or stop paying midwest farmers to not grow crops, but it would be a good use of Federal tax dollars.

If you want to look at the issue from another angle, consider the environmental angle. Think about the environmental impact of manufacturing and shipping millions of textbooks every year. If you look at the entire process from the lumberjack who cuts the tree to the bookstore clerk that delivers to the customer, there is an enourmous carbon footprint involved to distubute that book. Now consider the environmental impact of digital delivery and susequent updates. There's no comparison.

We can land spacecraft on Mars and bomb the crap out of anyone we see fit, but we're no closer to the promise of an interactive classroom than we were 15 years ago. I'm sure we'll continue on this un-eco-friendly path until we're out of trees and then some genius will come up with an idea to put a laptop in the hands of every student.

Report: A Kindle for college kids? Crave, the gadget blog - CNET

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Stoners in the Mist

This hillarious anti-marijuana website was actually put together by the National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign. I hope this isn't a taxpayer funded organization. This appears to be a modern day version of "Reefer Madness". While the over the top exagerrations of "stoner" behavior are highly amusing to adults, it migh just send the wrong message to kids.

I came accross this while reading about the useless prohibition of marijuana in the United States. There is a marijuana arrest every 38 seconds in the US. Most of them are for possesion, not trafficking. We spent over 10 billion dollars last year on these arrests. Did it make a dent in the marijuana use? Nope, in fact it stayed about the same. We could spend another month or two in Iraq for that kind of money!

Imagine what we could do if we didn't spend 10 billion dollars a year in marijuana law enforcement. We could do a lot. Then imagine the amount of tax revenue that could be generated. We would certainly want to spend some of that money on education and rehabilitation. You could also add in the revenue and taxes generated by hemp products and hemp agriculture.

We're missing a huge opportunity because of archic laws that were created by people who were threatened by hemp. Primarily the cotton industry. After 72 years of inneffective prohibition, it's about time we pulled our collective heads out of our asses and end the prohibition. It's just stupid....

Stoners in the Mist

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

The Electric Airplane Makes Its Debut

Take your everyday metal moni motoglider, trick it out with a custom battery pack and you've got the ElectraFlyer C, a small electric airplane that debuted at the AirVenture show in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, last week.
The plane, which received its airworthiness certificate in April, features a 5.6 kWh lithium battery with a projected life cycle (the number of times it can be depleted and recharged) of 1,000 cycles. The battery has a max weight of 78 pounds and can be custom-built to fit the available space in an airplane. It provides juice for a motor driving a 45-inch superlight PowerFin propeller made of a foam core surrounded by an outer shell of carbon fiber and glass fabric.
Once in the air, the ElectraFlyer C cruises at 70 miles per hour. Top speed is 90 mph and the stall speed is 45. The plane can fly for 90 to 120 minutes before the battery needs recharging. When the battery winds down, just plug it into a 110V outlet -- your house is full of them -- and you're good to go in just more than six hours. Bump the voltage to 220 and you're flying again in two hours.

The Battery-Powered Plane Makes Its Debut

See the Photo Gallery!

This is a great idea! It's economical and environmentaly friendly. It would make small airstrips much more agreeable to neighbors. No noise, no aviation fuel storage...it's a win-win.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Kite Power Could Generate Energy for 100,000 Homes

If we told you that a free-flying kite could provide enough energy to power your house, you might consider us crazy. How about all the homes on your block, or even an entire city? Scientists at Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands recently tested just such a technology, tethering a 10 square meter kite to a generator to produce 10 kilowatts of power (enough energy for 10 homes). They are currently planning to scale the experiment with a 50 kilowatt kite and a 100 megawatt array called the Laddermill that could potentially power 100,000 homes!

What an amzingly simple concept to generate electricity with almost no environmental impact. What will tree huggers complain about? It will probably be concern for the flight paths of rare migratory birds or some crap like that. Others will complain about their view being "ruined" by kites....

All kidding aside, this technology is one worth watching as it develops!

Kite Power Could Generate Energy for 100,000 Homes

Is Yahoo Crushing the Oldest For-Profit E-mail Publication With Poor Filtering?

I don't make a habit of promoting anything on my blog. But, when something I really enjoy for free is on the brink of becoming a paid service, I tend to cringe. Randy Cassingham has been putting out his "This is True" newsletter since the early days of the web. He is also the founder of the annual "Stella Awards" given for the most outrageous and ridiculous lawsuits.

Cassingham collects and reserches real stories about stupid people and unbelievable series of events. Beyond just regurgitating what is available in feeds around the web, Cassingham injects his own dry wit and priceless sarcasm into the story.

I remember subscribing to "This is True" from my Web TV system (yes, I am a magnet for products that seem like a good idea but just suck and disappear. I also owned a 3DO game system) back in the mid 90's. I was an AOL subscriber then. When I became a real computer user (bought a PC) I switched to Yahoo, Hotmail and now Google. The "This is True" newsletter has followed me with every change and has been delivered every week for free.

Looking back, Cassingham could be considered a web pioneer of sorts. He has managed to turn his newsletter and website into a living by providing quality, verified content. His site has survived through many tech changes over the years. It would seem that this whole scenario (described below) is a huge black-eye for Yahoo. One of the things consumers count on from companies like Yahoo is that they will filter out most of the junk and help us get only the information that we want. Anyone who knows much about content filtering would also know that whitelist/blacklist filtering is the most basic and least effective form of filtering. It would seem that there would be an algorythm that could sort this mess out before it ever happened. A huge company as old as Yahoo should have been on top of this problem.

Read on to get the details in Randy Cassingham's own words:

YAHOO ALERT: I've given up trying to work with Yahoo, which represents the largest domain subscribed to TRUE. There are more than 20,000 addresses within simple Yahoo.com domain on TRUE's distribution (plus a couple thousand more on variants such as yahoo.co.uk, yahoo.ca, etc.) But MOST of them are not getting TRUE anymore: Yahoo has blocked us. Why?

Because of idiots (dare I call them "yahoos"?) who ASK to be put on this distribution, then CONFIRM that request, and ...then click the "This is Spam" button when they don't recognize the mailing or simply don't want it anymore. Yes, those yahoos have screwed thousands upon thousands of others who really DO want this newsletter. Too bad: Yahoo is listening to the yahoos instead: they're blocking it. To them, we're "spammers" and no protestations from "spammers" count. As far as I can tell, there's only one group of people with Yahoo addresses who are still getting their issues: those who have at one time found TRUE in the "spam folder" and clicked the "Not Spam" button. But for the rest it's too late: we're now blocked, and you will NOT find issues there so you can hit that button.
As of now, about 70 percent of the Yahoo addresses are blocked. That's more than 15,000 folks. That's MORE than 10 percent of my entire distribution. And that's catastrophic: it has the potential to kill this newsletter. Nearly 15 percent of my audience, as of this week, which means 15 percent of my revenue, including 15 percent of my ad revenue, has suddenly stopped. It's the biggest crisis in TRUE's more than 14 years online. And it's (sigh) right in the middle of a worldwide economic slowdown. What lovely timing.

Yahoo is over-represented in my distribution because TRUE is so old: We've been publishing since 1994, when Yahoo was a little collection of links. They didn't get their millionth page view until late 1994 (according to Wikipedia), well after I had over 100,000 online readers every week, some of whom had to go through a lot of effort to get their issues (through BBS gateways, UUCP bang addresses, and other now- archaic means). Yahoo mail opened to the public in 1997 (when it acquired Rocketmail). That was AFTER I first editorialized on what a problem spam could become -- what's now http://www.spamprimer.com/ .

I take no solace in the fact that I was right about spam; it has grown so much that the world's first for-profit e-mail publication is having massive delivery problems because its shiny little jewel can't stand out among the garbage. Yeah, I'm mad: it's MY OWN READERS who have done this. Addled idiots can't click "unsubscribe" after they asked to get these issues, lumping the white hat guy who warned them about spam in with the criminals who send spam. But they're gone now: they don't see the carnage they caused, even if they liked, even loved, TRUE. It's like shooting a gun into a crowd of people, then walking away before seeing what happened.

I've had occasional problems with other big mail sites too, like AOL, Hotmail/MSN, and more, usually because of those same false "this is spam" complaints. Currently, I *think* all those other problems are cleared up, but I'm already seeing a revenue slide. It will likely get worse over time. Can I reverse it and keep TRUE going? I'm not sure. It's possible TRUE will become Premium-ONLY (plus the few newspapers who carry it), which would certify you all as victims of the spam war.
CAN YOU HELP? Yes. Complain to your provider EVERY TIME you miss an issue. Tell them you ASKED to get TRUE *and* responded to a verification request, and that no one can get on the distribution without BOTH of those steps. Spammers don't do that: they add you whether you want their mail or not. (And when was the last time you WANTED spam?!) If you complain, maybe they'll get the message that their customers really want TRUE and other legitimate e-mail publications. But if they don't listen, give your business to someone else!

I encourage you to check out Cassingham's newsletter and choose a paid or free subscription and pass it along for your friends to enjoy. The stories will put a smile on your face and give you some interesting topics for conversation....

Thanks for indulging me on this...now back to our irregularly scheduled programming.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Judge Hints at Mistrial in RIAA v. Jammie Thomas

The federal judge who presided over the nation's only peer-to-peer copyright-infringement trial announced from the bench here Monday that he is likely to declare a mistrial.

"Certainly, I have sent a signal to both sides of where I'm headed," U.S. District Judge Michael Davis said during a 70-minute hearing in which lawyers for the Recording Industry Association of America and defendant Jammie Thomas sparred over whether a jury verdict against Thomas should be overturned.
At issue is whether the RIAA needs to prove that copyrighted music offered by a defendant on a peer-to-peer network was actually downloaded by anyone. During Thomas' trial last October, Davis, on the RIAA's recommendation, instructed (.pdf) the jury that no such proof was necessary; if Thomas had the music in her Kazaa shared folder, where it could be downloaded, she could be found liable "regardless of whether actual distribution has been shown."

But in May, long after Thomas had lost the trial and was dinged $222,000, Davis developed second thoughts. He wrote in an order that he may have committed a "manifest error" with that instruction. "I think I surprised everyone," Davis said at the outset of the Monday's hearing. As the hearing wrapped up, there was little evidence that the RIAA's lawyer had changed the judge's mind.

Judge Hints at Mistrial in RIAA v. Jammie Thomas

At this point I will pause to pat myself on the back. I was asking this very question about "availability" being the same as distribution about three years ago. As I've said before, it will be a painful lesson for the RIAA/MPAA goon squad to learn. There's no winning when one tries to pull the wool over the collective eyes of Judges accross the country. The manner in which they slid in the jury instructions regarding availability was underhanded and surely didn't go unnoticed.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

FCC About to Spank Comcast...is Charter Next?

The Federal Communications Commission appears poised to take steps to punish Comcast for blocking access to file-sharing traffic. Three of the five FCC commissioners have voted in favor of an item saying Comcast violated federal policy by dialing down peer-to-peer traffic over its network. The news isn't much of a surprise, given that FCC Chairman Kevin Martin has publicly criticized Comcast for the practice and recommended to the rest of the commissioners that they vote in favor of the decision.

FCC set to punish Comcast on P2P blocking News - Digital Media - CNET News.com

It appears that the only thing left is for the FCC to hand out punishment. Most media outlets are reporting that the FCC isn't expected to hand down any monetary damages. The most likely outcome will be an order requiring Comcast to cease and desist filtering of traffic and full public disclosure of its network management practices.

This ruling should cause a ripple effect through the industry. It sets a precedent, and one would think the next company caught throttling bandwidth for any reason would get a pretty stiff penalty. I would imagine there are many ISP's out there that are rethinking their network management practices. To be sure, Comcast isn't the only one employing questionable network practices. Charter Communications use a device from a Arbor Networks to restrict certain types of traffic. The device, an Arbor Ellacoya, allows them to throttle bandwidth from specific programs or protocols. It will recognize the different patterns used by each "offending" program and throttle them to a trickle by using deep packet inspection. For instance, your Emule or Bit Torrent program will seem to slow down to a crawl, but your YouTube videos of someone picking their nose will stream great.

It seems that this ruling will send a shot accross the bow of the ISP's. The FCC seems to be sending a message that they intend to protect the consumer before they will cave to the bullshit being spewed from the industry. Let's hope that they continue to set policy based on the premise of true neutrality.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

New "People's Car" Gets 235 MPG!

Volkswagen's had its super-thrifty One-Liter Car concept vehicle -- so named because that's how much fuel it needs to go 100 kilometers -- stashed away for six years. The body's made of carbon fiber to minimize weight (the entire car weighs just 660 pounds) and company execs didn't expect the material to become cheap enough to produce the car until 2012. But VW's decided to build the car two years ahead of schedule.

According to Britain's Car magazine, VW has approved a plan to build a limited number of One-Liters in 2010. They'll probably be built in the company's prototype shop, which has the capacity to build as many as 1,000 per year. That's not a lot, but it's enough to help VW get a lot of attention while showing how much light weight and an efficient engine can achieve.

VW unveiled the slick two-seater concept six years ago at a stockholder's meeting in Hamburg. To prove it was a real car, Chairman Ferdinand Piech personally drove it from Wolfsburg to Hamburg. At the time, he said the car could see production when the cost of its carbon monocoque dropped from 35,000 Euros (about $55,000) to 5,000 Euros (about $8,000) -- something he figured would happen in 2012. With carbon fiber being used in everything from airliners to laptops these days, VW's apparently decided the cost is competitive enough to build at least a few hundred One-Liters.

Laugh at High Gas Prices With a 235-MPG VW

This is probably only the tip of the iceberg of supressed technology. Since the beginning of the automotive revolution, the automakers have been gobbling up any technolgy that would offer a major improvement to the consumer. The general view is that radical change hurts the bottom line. They would argue that the cost of manufacturing retooling would cost too much or that the technology would raise the price of the car to the consumer. In reality, many of the innovations in increasing fuel milage were purchased and shelved to protect the industry and their closely related breatheren in the oil industry. That's right, the greedy bastards in the auto industry have been screwing us for years! What a shocker....

In the movie "Tucker- The Man and His Dream", Jeff Bridges plays real-life automobile inventor/entrepeneur Preston Tucker. Tucker started his own auto company and in 1948, he built a car that made Detroit very nervous. Tucker had added things like seat belts and safety glass that the Big Three didn't offer. In fact they deemed them expensive and unnecessary items. In true DeLorean fashion (or perhaps vice-versa) the big three created a scandal and misinformation campaign that ended up bankrupting the man and his company.

There a million other stories like this out there, but we've just never heard about them. You can bet that critical technology that would help us end our oil dependance is sitting gathering dust on a shelf somewhere. I would be willing to bet that the technology exists today to bring an affordable vehicle to market that would run on no petroleum at all. They're just betting that they haven't milked every last penny out of oil yet.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Soon We'll Be Flying Personal Electric Planes

A cozy crowd of several dozen engineers, venture capitalists, and members of clean-tech companies plotted the potential at the Electric Aircraft Symposium held in April in San Francisco, sponsored by Foundation Capital and held by the CAFE Foundation, a nonprofit aiming to advance personal air travel.

The meeting included Ivo Boscarol, CEO of Pipistrel, which by the end of this year is set to deliver the first commercially produced, two-passenger electric aircraft to customers. The Slovenian company's Taurus Electro can climb to 6,000 feet after taking off on a 30-kilowatt motor. Recharging the glider's lithium-polymer battery is meant to take about as long as powering a cell phone. Depending upon the weather and skills of the pilot, the glider can travel 1,000 miles in a day.

Before you know it, we'll be zipping around like the Jetsons! Personal flying vehicles may be way off in the future, but the navigation and anti-collision technology to make the highways safer is not far away. Some companies like Volvo are already incorporating these technologies into models you can buy at your local dealer. It's a bit sad, but the fact is, a computer can probably drive better than most people out there.
As for the personal aircraft, it's good to see that they are making it enviromentaly friendly. After reading the article, one has to wonder if the next wave of eco-friendly innovation will come from the European Union instead of the US or Japan. The next big breakthrough could come from an unexpected place...like Slovenia.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Mercedes-Benz is Going Green By 2015!

In less than 7 years, Mercedes-Benz plans to ditch petroleum-powered vehicles from its lineup. Focusing on electric, fuel cell, and biofuels, the company is revving up research in alternative fuel sources and efficiency. Mercedes is looking into electric vehicles, both battery powered and fuel cell powered. Not only are models in development, but we’ve also seen the company making steps towards their zero petroleum goal right now, from better cabs in London to Li-Ion battery improvements. Commercialy available zero petroleum vehicles will be available starting in 2010.

While this is an impressive announcement, I'll wait until I hear more details before I get downright giddy. I do think we're starting to see a fundemental change in the attitudes of the automakers as a whole. We are starting to see degrees of seperation between the auto industry and big oil. It would appear that a huge lobbying war in Washington is underway as the two industries jockey to get favorable legislation. In one sense, we live in exciting times where the business landscape is changing, but the other side of that is the slow and agonizing process of change, inhibited by the unwillingness of old businesses to sucumb to the new ones. In the end, nothing much will really change. It's just a re-shuffling of wealth and power at the top of the food chain that has no financial benefit for the average person.

EcoGeek - Technology for the Environment

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Hungarian Moped Car Gets 150mpg!

Hungary is not the first place that comes to mind when thinking about cutting edge green vehicles, yet. If the creators of the Antro Solo have their way, the country will be synonymous with green machines by 2012. The Antro Solo is a solar, human and gas-electric hybrid vehicle. It looks like nothing else out there, and has a fuel efficiency of more than 150 miles per gallon

Inhabitat : Antro Solo gets 150mpg

I'm pretty sure that I don't want to spill out of a bar at 2:30am, in the middle of February, when it's 2o below zero to find out I need to peddle my car home.
All jokes aside, this is a novel approach to maximizing efficiency. The choice of materials and blending of technologies could prove to be a blueprint for others looking to squeeze every ounce of energy from their products in a green friendly manner.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Vermont OKs the Creation of Virtual Corporations

On June 6th, Gov. Jim Douglas signed an inauspicious-sounding bill entitled “H.0888, Miscellaneous Tax Documents” that could revolutionize the way startup companies are formed and run. As New York Law School professor David Johnson explained to me, up until now, U.S. law required LLCs to have physical headquarters, in-person board meetings and other regulations that have little relevance in the digital age.

No longer. Under the new law, for example, a board meeting may be conducted “in person or through the use of [an] electronic or telecommunications medium.” A “‘virtual company’ will be, as a legal matter, a Vermont limited liability company,” said Johnson. And other states are required to recognize the corporation as a legitimate LLC. So while in the past many companies registered in Delaware to take advantage of that state’s business-friendly policies, with this law, Internet-driven startups may find Vermont even more ideal.

Vermont OKs the Creation of Virtual Corporations

This appears to be along the fuzzy business lines like the "captive insurance" industry. A lot of revenue flows through these corporations, and a tiny percentage stays in the state. I think Vermont needs to create whatever business advatages it can, to bring new revenues to the state. We should also be focusing on attracting green technology businesses, but our digital infrastructure is ancient or non-existient. So far the private sector has been unable or unwilling to bring us out of the information stone age. Perhaps it is time for the state to find the funds and a partner to provide statewide broadband and cellular coverage. The only way we can retain our way of life is by being connected to the rest of the world in order to compete in the global marketplace.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Judge Says RIAA's "Making Available" Argument is Bullshit!

The act of making music available online may not be a copyright violation after all. And if that's the case, Jammie Thomas of Minnesota may not have to pay the $222,000 judgment won by record companies last year, an amount Thomas' attorneys argue is unconstitutionally excessive.

In his blog on Thursday, Google senior copyright counsel William Patry wrote, "Today, district judge Michael Davis issued an order indicating he may order a new trial based on an entirely different ground: concern that Jury Instruction N. 15, which permitted the jury to find infringement based on the RIAA's making available theory, may be contrary to the Eighth Circuit's binding precedent in National Car Rental System, Inc. v. Computer Associates Inc., requiring the distribution of actual copies."

RIAA Setback: Making Music Available May Not Be Copyright Infringement

I've never been able to get my little pea-brain around the "making available" argument. It simply goes against everything our system stands for. I mean, come on, we live in a country where "if the glove doesn't fit..then you must aquitt." pretty well sums up our judicial philosophy. If you can't prove that someone actually broke a law by a preponderence of the evidence you simply have no case. So, I could never understand how the "making available" theory passed the smell test.
As I've stated in previous posts, I think the RIAA's shady tactics are starting to unravel. You can be sure this won't be the last ruling that doesn't go the RIAA's way. My limited courtroom experience tells me that the Judiciary doesn't like to have the wool pulled over its eyes and like an elephant, it never forgets. The days of the RIAA lawyers sliding shoddy legal practices by Judges are numbered. It will be amusing to watch as they go down in flames right before our eyes. I'm pretty sure I won't be shedding any tears...unless they are accompanied by some serious belly laughs. As a wise man once said, "Fuck the RIAA!"

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Run Your Car on Sugar and Booze!

The EFuel100 MicroFueler offers an opportunity to brew your own ethanol. For a $10,000 investment you can have your own ethanol distiller right at home. Feed it sugar, water and yeast and the machine will distill enough ethanol to run your vehicle. The machine also seves as your pumping station. According to their website, the MicroFueler will have paid for itself after only a year and a half.

It will take between 10lbs to 14lbs of sugar to produce 1 gallon of ethanol. The MicroFueler is capable of producing 5 gallons of ethanol per day once fermentation is complete.

Imagine how much you could reduce your carbon footprint by running your own ethanol in your Prius or other hybrid vehicle. And you wouldn't have to give your cash to all those greedy oil bastards! Just look out for the greedy sugar bastards....

EFuel100, Earth's First Home Ethanol System, a Product of E-Fuel Corporation

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

MPAA Using "Creative Math" To Calculate Losses

The MPAA has come up with a doozy of a way to calculate their losses in recent piracy investigations conducted in Hong Kong and Australia. The association said the Hong Kong haul was worth a "potential" $20 million. The Australian catch was worth "an estimated street value" of about $16.6 million. The manner in which these numbers were calculated is highly suspect. The MPAA estimate was based on the output capacity of the "burning labs" they uncovered. WHAT? They want to claim losses based on possible future events? I can't remember how long it's been since I've seen such a bone-headed legal claim...oh, wait it was earlier today when I read that the RIAA lawyers had filed a motion stating that the judge in the case had ruled erroneously in a case he sat on just months ago.

I think the MPAA/RIAA lawsuit machine is starting to unravel a bit. The bench is finally catching up to the shenanigans the lawyers have been pulling. Common sense is starting to close in on them quickly and I'd bet you'll see more rulings against them and more legal blunders as the pressure mounts. The next few months should be interesting to watch as more of these legal battles that have been festering all come to a head.

MPAA Talks Turkey; Pirating Costs Based on Futuristic Fantasy Threat Level from Wired.com

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

If McGuire or Bonds Get Into HOF, shouldn't Pete Rose?

I was having a conversation with my friend "Buzzy" earlier and he was talking about baseball. As it always does, the conversation came around to steroid use, the hall of fame and previously long standing records. I grew up as a Cincinnati Reds fan. When I was a kid, Pete Rose, Joe Morgan, Johnny Bench and the gang were kings. I can't really condone gambling while participating, but then I think about the people who have already forgiven Bill Belichek and the Patriots. The steroid users and the New England staff were cheating and Rose was gambling. They may get a pass while Rose is tarnished.

I may be biased, but I doubt the MLB will run Bonds and others out of town, never to return, as they did to Rose. I think the numbers should speak for themselves, but unfortunately there is a "yet to be determined" MLB era that will forever be a black eye to the league. I don't think you can do anything but put an asterisk on a whole era of baseball. It's too difficult to compare the numbers.

If I were one of the players who did pretty good, but didn't juice, I would be outraged. I'm not sure who I would be angrier with, the players who brought a cloud over the game, or the league who looked the other way. Just like back in the playground days, the cheaters ruin the game for everyone else.

I don't believe that Rose's gambling has ever effected the out come of a game in which he was participating. That said, his actions did far less damage to baseball than the current parade of players who keep popping up in steroid probes. Is it fair that Pete Rose gets banned for life and these other players walk away with an asterisk? Where's the parity in that?

It's time for professional sports to clean it's own house and restore the integrity of their respective leagues. There is far too much money involved to not have strict enforcement of cheaters. I thought that Commisioner Goodell took a step in the right direction in handling the Patriots videotaping. I just don't think he went far enough. He could have hit them a lot tougher in the wallet. The fines he levied could be recouped by raising t-shirt prices 50 cents. Why wouldn't he park Belichek at home for a season and make an example out of him? I mean come on, Pac Man shoots up a strip club and he's out for just a season. It's not exactly exemplary behavior but again, it's not cheating. In the old west you would get shot under the table for cheating (shhh...don't tell Pac Man). Kidding aside, it does go to show how serious the integrity of the game should be taken.

So, I'll ask again and again and again....Why is Pete Rose forced to watch from the sidelines? I just don't get it...

Monday, April 21, 2008

Chinese Cars In America?

China's auto makers have set their sights on becoming the next exporting powerhouse on the world's roads and they have made emerging markets, from Latin America to Russia, their proving ground. They have reason to be satisfied so far: China sold 612,700 cars abroad last year, up nearly 80 percent, mostly in the developing world, according to the commerce ministry.

Safety concerns have dogged Chinese cars in their attempts to break into the United States and Europe. The latest in a string of crash test failures came last year with the Brilliance BS6, billed as a premium sedan at a budget price.
"An ice cube stands a better chance of survival in the Sahara than the driver of a BS6 does in a severe front or side impact", Car and Driver magazine said on reviewing the test results.

Chinese cars out to conquer world

I'm no big anti-everybody protectionist or anything, but don't we still have a huge trade deficit with these jokers? I'm pretty sure we don't need them trying to cut in on our already sagging auto market and flodding us with crappy, cheap and unsafe vehicles. Even if they built the nicest cars on the road, I don't think they should be allowed to sell cars in this country until China seriously addresses the trade imbalance they have benefitted from for years now. They could also use this issue to highlight China's poor human rights record. I hope some politician has the balls to step up and finaly tell the Chinese, No!

Russian MIG 29 Shoots Down Unmanned Drone

The Russians have shot down a Georgian unmanned recon drone that was flying in Georgian airspace. The Georgians, who are understandably mad, have offered this video as proof. This isn't the first time a MIG has shot down a drone aircraft. In 2002, an Iraqi MIG shot down one of our Predators.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

RIAA Suing Homeless man!

Our friends at the RIAA have been tossed out of court in case where the presiding judge described their lawyers as sloppy, but not intentionally misleading.

The dispute arose when they tried to serve a homeless man by attaching service in "a conspicuous place" at known bogus addresses. The freakin' guy was homeless! Of course this whole scenario shouldn't shock anyone who is familiar with the over the top behavior of the RIAA goon squad.

Recording Industry vs. The People

Monday, April 14, 2008

Cool...Mac OSX on a Whitebox Machine!

DWF15-1102519 A MAC vendor's website appears to have had their servers swamped and crashed shortly after their arrival was introduced to the blogosphere. As the news spread around the Internet that they were offering rock bottom deals on an off the shelf machine that would run the Leopard OS from Apple they suddenly disappeared. As of this writing, they seem to be back up and running. The machine they are offering more than doubles the specs of a Mac Mini at $100 less. The systems are also upgradeable. The Open Computer sports a faster processor (2.2GHz vs. 1.83GHz), double the memory (2GB vs. 1GB), three times more hard drive space (250GB vs. 80GB). The "Open Computer", as it is called, even comes with a power cable so you can start working with it out of the box.

Mac enthusiasts have been experimenting on running the new Apple operating systems on commodity PC hardware ever since the Intel-based Apple computers were introduced in early 2006. This effort came to be known as OSx86 Project. The "Open Computer" has evolved from the original OSx86 Project into a working commercial product.

Conventional wisdom will tell you that it is only a matter of time before the lawyers from Apple will have them shut down. Apple, who is notorious for heavy-handedly enforcing their intellectual property rights, is likely filing the necessary paperwork as you read this post. This may be a short lived glory for the folks at Psystar, but they have effectively uncorked the genie bottle and probably cemented themselves into Internet lore. One can assume that somewhere, Steve Jobs is having a meltdown.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Media Sentry Investigations Questioned


mediasentry1 Has Media Sentry (The RIAA investigating unit) been conducting illegal investigations in dozens of states? We may soon find out as several lawsuits in several states have been filed that allege they have. The suits claim that Media Sentry has been operating private investigations without first getting proper state investigators licenses. The Massachusetts State Police have issued them a cease and desist order prohibiting them from operating in the state until licensed.


It will be interesting to see how these cases play out over the months to come. The RIAA folks claim that any evidence they've obtained, even if it was done illegally, is still admissible in a civil court case. They are also claiming that getting licenses in all 50 states would be too expensive for someone to simply enforce their copyrights. But apparently 20,000 lawsuits does seem to be a cost-effective move....

Read More at ARS Technica

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Should Vermont Schools be Teaching Internet Safety?

Virginia is the first state to put Internet safety classes into action as being mandatory, but Texas and Illinois have also passed legislation to have some form of classes in the near future. Judi Westberg Warren of Web Wise Kids, a non-profit organization providing free lessons to schools to teach 11 to 16-year-olds about Web safety, said that other states are also considering similar legislation. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children estimated that in 2006, 13% of children between the ages of 10 an 17 that were online had received unwanted sexual advances, and 4% of those children had been asked for sexually explicit or naked photos of themselves.

The Virginia program is attempting to safeguard the children by educating the students as well as the parents. To the children, they are trying to explain never to meet anyone you meet solely online, as well as trying to remember that anything you post today could come back to haunt you years from now when applying to a university or a job. For the parents, they are trying to explain that they should install filtering software as well keeping computers in common areas of the home so they can monitor their child’s activities while online.

Virginia Schools Start To Teach Internet Safety


I think it would be a wise choice to enact a program like this in Vermont. Kids and parents should be alarmed at the amount of sleaze on the internet. Many kids are exposed to crap and never tell an adult. This makes it difficult to get accurate data. I would bet that the numbers are probably higher. I've seen most everything on the web there is to see, but every once in a while a teenager will out do me with a ..."check this out!". I'm always amazed at the maturity of some of the subject matter, but honestly, it's usually pretty funny...

If courses in school do nothing more than raise awareness of internet safety and security, they have done a great deal. It's amazing how many people are oblivious to any level of protection beyond what came on their computer out of the box. By keeping trends and issues at the front of an educational program, it would help insulate our real world lives from the net world by adding a layer of education to protect us all.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Torrent Freak Kicks Ass!

If I had a mouthful of milk right now it would be shooting out my nose as I laugh my ass off. The great folks at Torrent Freak have pulled off a fine piece of "journalism" on this one. As I was reading this story with great interest, it dawned on me ...I was reading a very nice list of the best places to get torrents!
The way the story was presented, it struck me at first as a educational and well presented look at the state of torrent traffic and an informative overall piece. In fact it really is. Very nice work guys! Its a "twofer"....

BitTorrent Sites Show Explosive Growth - TorrentFreak

More Non-Information Released by the Clinton Campaign

MSNBC's First Read looks at Hillary Clinton's records and news coverage of the release of these records. Clinton's records do not provide many specifics, including one "private meeting" after another without mention of who the meetings were with.

I was a Bill Clinton supporter for most of the 90's. Now in hindsight (yes, I know it's 20/20), I realize that most of that support was due to the fact that I despised the Republicans and their sleazy Congressional tactics. The Clintons are probably equally painted with that same brush. If you look back at Whitewater, Monicagate etc.....you suddenly recall all the vague answers and semantic replies that would leave you to read between the lines. The problem is that under closer scrutiny, one began to realize that they were lying through their teeth. The only upside was that the Republicans were so hypocritical you felt like you should sympathize with the Clintons. The constant barrage of attacks against them left a lot of the country feeling sorry for Hillary.We are now in a much different place as a Nation and we simply cannot tolerate the lack of transparency and the outright exaggeration of accomplishments. Having weathered constant battering by her political opponents, simply doesn't translate into any kind of tangible experience. You can be sure that those same opponents are salivating at the chance to do it again. The Republicans smell blood in the water and are working themselves into a frenzy in anticipation that she will win the general election. It's no wonder they are encouraging Republicans to vote for her in the primaries.All these "private meetings" and other vague descriptions in her schedules, don't give us any hope that any thing has changed. I'm an independent, and I'm a little unsold on the experience of Obama as well. On the plus side, he hasn't been entrenched in Washington as long as Hillary or McCain. It would appear that once again we are going to end up having to vote for the lesser of two evils. I'm beginning to think that a McCain/Lieberman ticket might not be too bad, and I don't think we should be too quick to dismiss Obama's ability to be an agent of change. The one thing I can be sure of is that we don't need 4 more years of the Clinton BS machine.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Why Exxon Won't Produce More Oil

If you want to understand it, listen in to ExxonMobil's presentation to analysts in New York City in early March. Halfway through the three-hour meeting, Exxon management flashed a chart that showed the company's worldwide oil production staying flat through 2012.

Ponder that for a minute. Exxon is the largest publicly traded company in the energy business. In fact, it's the most profitable company in the history of capitalism, earning a record $40.6 billion last year on sales of $404 billion. Yet even with crude oil prices near all-time highs, Exxon isn't planning on producing any more oil four years from now than it did last year.

What if Steve Jobs said Apple wasn't going to sell any more iPhones than it did in 2007? What if Howard Schultz said latte production at Starbucks would stagnate, at least until the next U.S. president embarked on his or her re-election campaign? Shares of both companies would plummet.


This kind of crap has been going on for a long time now. Corporate America has been playing this game for years. It's all about the bottom line, with no real concern for the effect it has on the rest of the economy. Big oil did the same thing in the 1970's oil crisis. Everyone cried that they would never let this kind of outrage ever happen again. Then we elected Bush and all his oil cronies to lead our country. Everyone knew who they were voting for the first term, and then they went and did it again. Perhaps, but not likely, we will learn our lesson from all this.

It would be easy to think that this kind of corporate plundering is only happening in the realm of big oil companies, but the fact is this kind of profiteering is happening in other sectors as well. This type of activity is all too apparent in the financial sector as well. Banks, mortgage companies and Wall Street all knew the risks of shady lending practices should have outweighed the lure of huge profits, but when they saw the dollar signs, they ignored the fact that this behavior would decimate our economy and took the easy money. Now they want the government to bail them out. It makes one yearn for the much simpler days of Enron and Worldcom.

It's not easy to not see the writing on the wall here. As the economy tanks, and energy demands decline, soon big oil will be lobbying Congress to give them tax breaks. They'll cry about Opec and countries like Venezuela flooding the market with cheap oil, coupled with the high costs of producing alternative fuels, as the reason for their shrinking bottom line. When in reality, the bottom line was artificialy inflated (by them) in the first place. If this sounds familiar, it's because it is a very similar equation to the one that has led us to the current housing/mortgage crisis.

Why Exxon won't produce more oil - MSN Money

Thursday, March 20, 2008

New Project Attempts to Return Political Power to the People

The Change Congress project's first mission is to diminish the influence of money in the legislative body by influencing the outcome of the 2008 election campaigns of 67 members of congress which are up for grabs. As the Change Congress project founder Larry Lessig noted in the project's launch Thursday afternoon, there haven't been so many seats open up for challenge in more than a decade.

"The problem we face is ... the problem of crony capitalism using money to capture government," he said on Monday during the launch of his project in Washington, DC. "The challenge is whether in fact we can change this. The political experts tell you that it can't be done, that process always win over substance."

The professor wants legislators to promise to do four things which he says will reduce the influence of money on policymaking: To promise not to accept money from lobbyists and political action committees; support public financing of elections; commit to passing legislation to permanently ban the funneling of money to their districts' projects of questionable worth; and to commit to "compel transparency in the functioning of congress." The project will rely on engaged voters to record and map responses by candidates who are running for open seats. The idea is to make what seems like an abstract idea visually tangible through a Google mash-up.


This is the type of "outside the box" thinking we need in this country to loosen the grip of powerful lobbying groups in Washington D.C. It's true that the internet has made it possible to accomodate many voices on multiple issues. The next question will be how to harness that power in a meaningful way. In the past two election cycles we have seen candidates on both sides of the aisle tap into that collective power base with suprisingly good results. This new found grassroots movement has been gaining steam in recent years and looks to continue that trend in the future. Candidates like Ross Perot, Howard Dean, Ron Paul and Barak Obama have proven that this is a viable option for voters who feel their voices simply put, are never heard above the din of the big money lobbying machines.

With any luck, the Change Congress will take hold and affect a change on both sides of the aisle. If nothing else, if successful, it will give us an effective yardstick to determine which candidates are truly commited to real change in Washington.

Stanford Law Professor Larry Lessig Bets 'Wikipedia' Approach Will Transform Congress

Monday, March 17, 2008

Amended Complaint Filed In RIAA/Media Sentry Lawsuit

Tanya Andersen has filed her amended complaint in her class action, Andersen v. Atlantic.The 109-page document provides a detailed description of some of the RIAA abuses, and contains 18 claims for relief, including Federal and State RICO claims, negligence, intentional infliction of emotional distress, abuse of process, and fraud.The suit targets the record companies, MediaSentry, Settlement Support Center LLC, and the RIAA.The complaint begins:

1.1 For nearly three years of her life, Tanya Andersen and her young daughter were subjected to an outrageous series of baseless accusations and unrelenting threats of financial ruin. The world’s four major recording studios had devised an illegal enterprise intent on maintaining their virtually complete monopoly over the distribution of recorded music. The enterprise is conducted with total disregard for innocent individuals. Dead people have been sued. Children have been sued. People without computers have been sued. As a senior RIAA spokeswoman explained: “When you fish with a net, you are going to catch a few dolphins”. By their own early admission, they were knowingly engaged in a “driftnet fishing” operation and “innocent dolphins” were the collateral damage in their “nets”.

Nationwide Conspiracy of Crime 1.2 -In 2003 and before, the Big 4 recording companies conspired with the enforcement/lobbying arm of the music cartel -- the RIAA -- and MediaSentry to devise an investigation scheme that was both illegal and seriously flawed. The scheme was based on secret private investigations by unlicensed, unregistered and uncertified private investigators. These private investigators claim to have illegally entered the hard drives of tens of thousands of private American citizens to look for music recordings stored there. This personal invasion is a crime in virtually every state in the country. If music was “discovered” through this illegal process, the private investigators would then sell the identity of the computers’ internet protocol address to the RIAA and the Big 4 record companies.

You can follow this story and more at the Recording Industry vs The People website. If you are into reading all the gory legal details of the RIAA lawsuit witch-hunt, this is the best place to do it. While it can be a bit dry at times, it will give you excellent insight into the legal arguments presented by both sides of the debate. If you pay close attention, you can gain some insight into how to stay out of the sights of the RIAA/Media Sentry folks.

For instance, one of the common themes I've seen is the majority of these cases involve Kazaa users. Does anyone even use this crappy client anymore? If you do, I suggest you find a better alternative and/or educate yourself on how other dumbass people are getting caught!

RIAA Screws Artists, Pockets Filesharing Settlement Money

None of the estimated $400 million that the RIAA received in settlements with Napster, KaZaA, and Bolt over allegations of copyright infringement has gone to the artists whose copyrights were allegedly infringed. Now the artists are considering suing the RIAA.

I think the RIAA's demise is inevitable and I've been advocating major artists to sue these jokers for quite a while now. Set aside this revelation (no surprise really) that they haven't shared a dime with the artists and consider the scenario where a major artist sues them for not doing enough to protect their royalties. Also, reverse the "made available" argument against the RIAA. Weren't these the same people who helped develop the digital format in the first place? 20+ years ago, the RIAA members were promising us audio nirvana in the form of CD's that were cheaper to produce and never wore out. They told the public and the artists that the cheaper production costs would translate into less expensive products for the consumer and higher returns for the artists.

In reality, the price of music went up, and the artists share of profits decreased. This is the business model the labels are trying to preserve in the "download age".

Just think of how much more profit we can make when we get rid of all this pesky packaging and disc pressing. We'll just tell the artists we need to keep screwing them because of the high cost of digitizing music and the prohibitive cost of digital distribution.....ummmmmm yeah, that's the ticket!

I thought the rant from the member of the Cocteau Twins in the posts from the story were very interesting. Anyone who doesn't understand how badly artists get screwed and how greedy the labels are should give this a look. There are thousands of stories from artists just like this...or worse.

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