Got Gmail?

Got Gmail?Todd over at Geek News Central was handing out Gmail accounts to all his loyal listeners. What a good idea! I’ve got 49 invites I could pass out to interested parties, so if your in need of a nice, big, google-y mailbox, drop me an email and I’ll send you an invite as a special thank you for visiting my weblog.

In addition to my classic address, I can now be reached at First come, first served, when they are gone, they are gone.

RNC protests: Bikes Against Bush organizer arrested

Dot Matrix PrinterBoingBoing reports that Joshua Kingberg was arrested at the RNC in New York for operating his bicycle mounted dot matrix printer. It’s an enormously cool hack: you basically ride the bike and it leaves a message in its trail in the same way a dot matrix printer works. The message is written in a water soluble chalk solution which washes right off. A very cool idea, and a pitifully sad day for free expression that he was both arrested and his cool gizmo confiscated.

But then the RNC is not known for its humor.

Video of INDUCE hearings via P2P

Lawrence Lessig has a link to a Bittorrent feed for the INDUCE hearings, starring the venerable Orin Hatch. I’ve ranted about INDUCE before a bit, and how it substantially modifies the Supreme Court ruling in the 1984 Betamax case. It’s not good law folks, and is yet another attempt by the content industry to further criminalize many previously unregulated or fair uses of content.

Torrent away!

Another reason to move to Canada..

Lawrence Lessig’s weblog
contains a short message from Wallace McLean. He notes that in Canada every author who died before December 31, 1948 has passed into the public domain. His description of what that means is particularly poignant:

As of today, millions of pages of archival heritage, in hundreds of
archival institutions, have become the common property of all Canadians.

You are free to make use of this heritage in any way you want, by
publishing, digitizing, compiling, translating, adapting, dramatizing, or
treating the material in any other way. It’s yours to enjoy and share with
whomever, whenever, in whatever way you want.

A pretty nice holiday present for Canadians. We’ll have to wait another 15 years to celebrate the entrance of a single page into the public domain.

The Domain of the Public

This week has been dominated by pondering of the public domain. I ordered a book from written by attorney Steven Fishman entitled
The Public Domain: How to Find Copyright-Free Wrightings, Music, Art and More
. It’s a very easy to read and well written guide to the world of copyright and the public domain, and attempts to answer many practical questions regarding the public domain. Brewster Kahle suggested it on a posting to, and I second his recommendation. Very useful reference.

is reporting about various industry groups like the MPA and APRA which are lobbying Australia to extend Australian copyrights from life+50 years to life+75 years. One
can only hope that the people down under will have better sense than Sony Bono.

Addendum: There are many books which are in the public domain in Australia which are not in the US. Hence, there is a special branch of Project Gutenberg:
Project Gutenberg of Australia

which holds these works. Nifty.

The Center for the Public Domain also appears to have some interesting articles on intellectual property law and the public domain.

Seven Signs of Bogus Science

I recently spotted this article
on the subject of spotting bogus science. It’s enormously easy to be hoodwinked by science, and these seven rules can help you spot the quacks from real science.

  1. The discoverer pitches the claim directly to the media.

  2. The discoverer says that a powerful establishment is trying to suppress his or her work.

  3. The scientific effect involved is always at the very limit of detection.

  4. Evidence for the discovery is anectdotal.

  5. The discoverer says a belief is credible because it has endured for centuries.

  6. The discoverer has worked in isolation.

  7. The discoverer must propose new laws of nature to explain an observation.

A nice concise ruleset, one which matches various Internet loons with a high degree of accuracy.

But then I’m just part of the scientific establishment working to keep ’em down.

Smoke Detector Can Save Your Life!

Some things you just don’t think about until they save your life. On Valentine’s Day my wife and I were awoken at 3:30 by our smoke detector going off. Yours truly, idiot that he is, had gone to bed and left a candle burning on the mantlepiece downstairs. Some hot wax had melted off and caught a big box of maches on fire and set the wall on fire. Because our smoke alarm went off, we were able ot put out the fire, and the damage was confined to a scorched wall which a little spackle, retexturing and a quick paint job have rendered good as new.

It could have been much, much worse. I urge you all to go out and buy a fire extinguisher and to check the batteries in all your smoke detectors. The lives they save could be the yours and the ones you love. It happened to me.