Friday, October 31, 2008

Hallowe'en story

It's Hallowe'en today, which reminds me of a story that happened when I was young.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008


We watched the lunar eclipse with the kids this evening, Donnie Darko setting up the rickety old telescope I got from my folks when I was about his age. I wonder if any New Agers were watching it from the observatory in Chichen Itza... I really should go there and find out.

Sunday, January 20, 2008


We've been watching Connections this past month, a TV show I watched when I was younger that explores how social and technological change throughout history has often been the result of people using other people's ideas and discoveries in ways not previously imagined. It presents History not as a series of dates but a series of connected events. When I was in highschool I thought I hated History, but in truth it was the presentation of the subject that I hated. I would grumble about learning it during the week then watch Connections on the weekend, and the history I learned from host James Burke stuck with me a lot more than the history my teachers presented.

It seems they've restored the show for release on DVD because I recall the video being quite grainy and the colours washed out when I watched it as a kid. That we're watching it on our new Boxing Day sale digital TV might be part of the reason it looks so good, too. We're very happy with the new TV, and besides looking great it's driven a few projects for us this past month.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

A Glimmer of Hope

Jim Prentice has delayed introducing his copyright reform bill.  Hopefully it's a permanent delay.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

No Rights for You

I've been converting my CDs to MP3s and Oggs for years. I recently also started converting my DVDs to Xvids to watch on MythTV so the kids won't scratch them up. I own my CDs and DVDs. I paid for them. I have a right to convert them to other formats... for now. A new bill will soon be tabled that will make converting protected digital media for personal use illegal. I won't stand for it. I wrote the following letter to my MP, Jason Kenney, and sent it via Canada Post; this website helped me write it.

Dear Sir,

I am a Computer Network Administrator currently working in the Geomatics industry in Calgary. I've been a constituent of Calgary Southeast for the past five years, and I am writing to you out of grave concerns for the future of Canada's cultural policy, particularly in regard to legislative proposals for "copyright reform." I hope that you will work to ensure that any new legislation improves upon — rather than regresses from — the sensible policies set out in last Parliament's Bill C-60.

In particular, I do not believe that "digital rights management" (DRM) technologies should stop the public from making lawful uses of their legitimately acquired media. Publishers using DRM push aside the delicate balance between copyright and the rights of the public - a balance set according to an assessment of the public interest by legislators - and replace it with one-sided rules that reflect publishers' private interests. Any new copyright reform legislation, as in Bill C-60, should not make it illegal to circumvent DRM for lawful purposes.

I am also concerned about the implications of DRM on Canadian research, particularly the censorship of computer security research and of the implications of genetic research. As a Network Administrator, I know that all computer systems have vulnerabilities. DRM laws have been used to silence security researchers like Princeton computer science professor Edward Felten; when the only people looking for vulnerabilities are a few company employees and a vast network of hackers, the odds are in favour of the hackers. It is also not hard to imagine litigious corporations involved in the genetic manipulation of food using DRM laws to silence findings of any adverse effects of their products.

Finally, I am concerned that the use of DRM can threaten consumer security and privacy, as in the recent Sony-BMG "Rootkit" fiasco. When content companies routinely use technological measures to control how people enjoy entertainment in the privacy of their own homes, I think we need protection from DRM more than we need protection for it.

These concerns are shared by a substantial and growing number of informed Canadian citizens. I hope that you will take them into account when considering any changes to Canadian copyright law. Thanks very much for your time.


Jan Kat

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