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MyTake - A letter to Rep. Camp supporting the Digital Media Consumers Rights Act

A letter to Rep. Camp supporting the Digital Media Consumers Rights Act 
Friday, May 14, 2004, 3:00 AM - Public Policy, Computing Technology
Posted by Administrator
DMCRA Letter
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Slashdot - My account of my own Slashdotting 
Friday, November 7, 2003, 3:00 AM - General, Computing Technology, Hardware
Posted by Administrator
This is a timeline of the events leading up to and following my post to Slashdot. All times Eastern Standard.

Saturday, November 1, 2003

3:36:17 PM I randomly visit

3:44:08 PM I notice an interesting headline about a Sun donation to Purdue. I also see a picture of the Linux cluster, which I had visited in August. I follow the link to the article at the Purdue University News Service.

4:00 PM After reading the article, I start scheming. I think Slashdot would love this in conjunction with my images from the Purdue Machine Room, which have more images of the Linux Cluster. Its too bad my server could never handle all of that traffic with my 128 kbps upload speed via DSL. The "Slashdot Effect" is notorious for crippling websites due to the high amount of traffic. I need a mirror. Why not post them to my webspace at Purdue? Expert can probably handle the load.

4:35 PM Upload of images to begins. I begin work on a PHP page that will automatically display the thumbnails and provide links to larger sizes, including the file size. After completion, I realize that my home directory one level up will redirect to my home page on my server. I predict that my website will see a "Secondary Slashdot Effect" as people will try to visit this URL.

6:03 PM Upload to completes.

6:15 PM I make an anonymous submission to Slashdot.

9:16 PM My article is posted on the Slashdot main page by CowboyNeal.

9:49:00 PM I see my post on Slashdot while computing in the living room in my apartment on my laptop.

9:50 PM I begin sending out e-mails.

10:16 PM My boss Thomas calls me stating, "That's cool as hell." He is featured in a few of the images on my page. Then he requests that I add a page counter.

10:39 PM Tom calls again. We discuss the hit rate, at this point, about 50 per minute. I say, "I hope the expert people don't kick my ass."

11:40:29 PM An e-mail is sent to the Purdue Linux User Group (PLUG) mailing list regarding the article.

Sunday, November 2, 2003

12:30:00 AM Initial traffic graph for my DSL connection. The blue line indicates upload traffic. You can see my upload to expert followed by the "Secondary Slashdot Effect" of my webserver. Usage peaks at 137 kbps and 208 total visits today.

4:00:00 AM Seven hours after posted on Slashdot. Logs on expert show over 403,461 total directory views. 10,272 page hits. 13.35% of total bandwidth moved via the webserver, 12.28 GB moved!

11:15:00 AM Website traffic continues throughout the night and into the morning.

Monday, November 3, 2003

12:15:00 AM Website traffic finally begins to taper off. 588 visits since November 1. Spikes from visits will continue to be seen for days.

4:00:00 AM 748,483 files served out of my directory. 22.79% of traffic moved. 18,685 page hits.

Tuesday, November 4, 2003

12:13 AM I send an e-mail to thank the expert sys admins.

4:00:00 AM 774,305 files served. 19,338 page hits. 21.67 GB served, 24.39% of the total.

Friday, November 7, 2003

4:00:00 AM 782,563 files served. 19,555 page hits. 20.66% of the total bandwidth.
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Free Software - Why it is not going away 
Wednesday, July 16, 2003, 3:00 AM - Open Source, Software
I was first introduced to the world of Free Software (source code freely available to anyone) in the spring of 1999. No coincidence, this was the same time in which I discovered ZDTV (formerly TechTV, now G4TV), a part time channel on our cable television service. I quickly learned that we did not actually live a Microsoft Windows/DOS/Mac OS world. The internet actually ran mostly using a thing called UNIX from the 1960s. I had a difficult time fathoming running a PC, IBM compatible computer on anything but a Microsoft platform. My high school had only Windows 95/NT computers, even for the internet connection. They also explained that there was another operating system gaining ground, something called Linux that was available for free! Anyone could get it and give it away to friends, without breaking any copyright law. It could also be changed, customized, and modified in any way that you wanted, because you also get the source code for it. After learning ALL of the ins and outs of Windows 95/98, it sounded like the perfect thing for me.

Today, GNU/Linux (the politically correct term, promoted by the Free Software Foundation) is becoming a serious competitor in both the desktop and server markets. What began as a group of people that wanted a system completely composed of free software evolved into an industry consisting of thousands of applications and millions of programmers. Because of this vast effort, Free Software is now a serious competitor with commercial products. IBM now offers its WebSphere software for GNU/Linux. SuSe (a European GNU/Linux distributer) recently beat out Microsoft for a contract with the city of Munich, Germany. AOL donated 2 million (USD) to found the Mozilla Foundation. And this is all only in the past week.

The future of Free Software is now very clear to me.

The traditional benefits of no cost, security, and fixing bugs on your own apply, but these alone will not bring success. These have already been around for years and are nothing new. Modern benefits are very different, and very compelling.

1. Cross Platform (particularly MS Windows) - Applications such as Mozilla and OpenOffice show users exactly what Free Software is capable of. This also makes the transition between operating systems less painful.

2. Fast Pace - With so many developers, Free Software can advance at an incredible pace. Everyone has the potential to be a developer. There is no waiting for a patch from the software vendor, which might never be released.

3. Market Saturation - Virtually every commercial application has a Free Software equivalent (or one in progress). This is ironically a similar strategy that Microsoft has used to gain such a prodominant market share.

Ultimately, when Free Software becomes the prodominant share of the market, there will be no more signifcant bugs and no licenses to worry about. This will drastically reduce the costs for corporations as well as be cheaper for individual users.

* UNIX is a trademark of someone. It changes too much for me to keep track. At the time of writing it is probably SCO.
* Microsoft Windows is a trademark of who else? Yup, Microsoft Corporation.
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Technology - A special three part series about the issue 
Monday, June 30, 2003, 3:00 AM - Computing Technology


One of the questions that we fail to ask in much of society today is a very simple one: Should we do this? Quite often this is pre-empted with another question: Can we do this? The problem with focusing on the latter question rather than the former, is simply that much of what we can do is either useless, ethically wrong, or has no place in society. This is the introduction to a three part series on issues involving the role of science and technology in present day society. It is important to note that technology in and of itself is neither good nor evil. The way in which it is used by people is the key.

Cell Phones

The first major problem that cellular phones introduce into culture is a lack of respect for others around them. The most profound effect is perhaps the most transparent of them all. Ever since these mobile devices became cheap enough for the general public to begin using nearly anywhere that they travel, a culture wave of change began. How often is your daily life interrupted by someone ELSE'S cellular phone? Whether you are in class, at work, at a movie, having a conversation, or at a meeting, this is something that we have all experienced. How does it make you feel when someone that you are talking to stops the conversation to answer his/her phone? If the person at the other end of the call were physically present at that time, would it be acceptable to completely interrupt and ignore you? Of course not! Why would someone at some remote location dialing a few numbers have more of a right than someone standing right there? Many people do not understand that you DO NOT always need to answer the phone every time that it rings. Not only is it rude, but unnecessary. So the next time that your phone rings, ask yourself, SHOULD I REALLY BE ANSWERING THIS CALL?

Following simliar reasoning, this can be applied to those that use cellular phones while driving. Is there really a conversation that is so important that you need to have it while driving? Even the CHANCE that this might distract from the driving task should be a concern to everyone involved, the driver, passengers, pedestrians, other drivers on the road. Not only is this highly disrespectful to those that you are sharing the road with and possibly putting at risk, but also the person on the other end of the phone conversation. Is the conversation with this person really not important enough for you to pull over and take the call? Or have while while you are sitting at home or someplace else? SHOULD I BE DRIVING AND TALKING ON THE PHONE?

Many of the newer cellular phones have an incredible number of 'features.' One of these is the inclusion of AOL instant messenger. This allows for instantaneous communication via typing messages to each other. While great on a computer, this is highly useless on a phone. Any attempt to have any sort of a meaningful conversation is quickly hampered by attempted to get words out of a telephone keypad. Not to mention extra costs involved on a per message basis. And finally, why are you typing words to this person on a number keypad when you have a perfectly good phone and you can just call them with MUCH less time and effort! SHOULD WE REALLY HAVE AIM ON A PHONE?


In the past decade, significant advances have been made in genetic research. These include mapping the the human genone and cloning a sheep. While these are great advances in science, these do not directly involve humans. The next step has already shown that the use of some form of human cells is the obvious choice. Many scientists and even citizens believe that this is necessary to improve lives. However, the question of whether or not this should be done is still largely debated. President Bush took action by not allowing research to be done with any new embryonic stem cells. This is a wise move. All too often, new technology is seen as a "quick fix" to problems. To begin experimentation with human cells is a huge step and not to be taken lightly. Many debate whether or not these cells and embryos have the same rights as a fully developed person. The successful cloning of a human is a huge accomplishment, but also carries a variety of social implications. First of all, people are no longer uniquely identifiable. Fingerprints, retinas, etc. are all exactly the same in a cloned person. Also, what is to stop clones from being treated or viewed as 'second class' citizens? The question goes further, what if certain traits can be controlled during the cloning process or invitro fertilization? The power of "designer" humans will have serious implications on the future of humanity. Will advances through stem cells cure disease in thousands of people? Will this kill millions of unborn in the process? Is this an acceptable trade off? Clearly, this issue needs to be discussed and clearly understood before any research goes forward in order to be a good citzen for humanity.

Call Waiting

Call waiting is another highly useless technology that was created and deployed for the general public. This allows the current call to be interrupted by another caller. This is only useful for extreme emergencies and when the person is unreachable by other means, which is extremely rare. The inherent problem with call waiting, when used, is that the current caller put on hold, usually without being asked. Any good business will tell you that at the very least you should ask to put someone on hold. This shows respect for the caller. Once the situation now involves the new caller, the person using call waiting must make a decision, hang up on one of them, possibly calling back later. Not only is this inconvenient for the user of call waiting, but also the person that must be called again later. This also gives the perception of being rudely pushed aside until another time, because someone/something else is more important. It seems that a much simpler solution would simply be to not use call waiting. The second caller would simply get a busy signal and try calling again later. So the next time that you hear that calling waiting beep in the phone, ask, SHOULD I REALLY USE CALL WAITING?
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Blogs - Why They Suck 
Tuesday, July 16, 2002, 3:00 AM - Computing Technology

Blogs, or web logs, have become very popular on the internet recently. Even celebrities write them. Essentially, these are journals about personal lives available for the world to see. I, however, have a problem with these.

1. Boredom

Most people's lives are really pretty boring. When was the last time you or someone else commented on how exciting or intriguing you life is? If you actually have time to sit down and type a blog, the answer is most likely going to be NEVER!

2. No One Wants to Read About Your Life

Are you so egocentric that you think someone would actually want to read about you? Imagine if everyone wrote a blog, would anyone even think about reading yours? And odds are that anyone who would actually read the thing actually knows you and you could just tell them yourself!

3. Waste of Time

Finally, blogs are a waste of time for all involved, especially the author. Instead of wasting time typing out your boring life, do something exciting! Only then can you have an ACTUAL CONVERSATION with some of your real friends about something exciting!
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