Friday, January 20, 2012

Chucho Valdés at McCarter

Erik and I saw Chucho Valdés and the Afro-Cuban Messengers at McCarter Theatre. It was the second time I've seen Chucho at McCarter. This is world class jazz! Every man in the band was fantastic, and so was the female guest singer (I couldn't hear her name and she was not in the program). The opening act was also Cuban, the Alfredo Rodriguez Trio. At first I was skeptic, but they soon won me over and after 50 minutes we were ready for Chucho. Erik, who knows more about music than I, was impressed by the tremendous skill displayed by the band members.

Apple Is Getting Greedy and Evil

Remember the famous ad where the runner threw a sledgehammer at Big Brother on the giant screen. Well, Apple has long since outgrown that rebellious mindset if it ever was there, and the whole spiel was not just sour grapes of being so small compared to Big Blue. Well, for all its design skills, Apple is a closed shop and has no intention of joining the open movement anytime soon. Being the perennial media darling, Apple gets away with a lot of things that IBM and Microsoft would never get away with.

Until now:

Ed Bott, a veteran computer journalist, virtually screams at the guys in Cupertino in his latest PC Magazine blog post about the end-user license agreement (EULA) Apple attached to its new iBooks Author program:

"I have never seen a EULA as mind-bogglingly greedy and evil as Apple’s EULA for its new ebook authoring program."
He continues:
"For people like me, who write and sell books, access to multiple markets is essential. But that’s prohibited:
Apple, in this EULA, is claiming a right not just to its software, but to its software’s output. It’s akin to Microsoft trying to restrict what people can do with Word documents, or Adobe declaring that if you use Photoshop to export a JPEG, you can’t freely sell it to Getty. As far as I know, in the consumer software industry, this practice is unprecedented.
Exactly: Imagine if Microsoft said you had to pay them 30% of your speaking fees if you used a PowerPoint deck in a speech."
Is that Apple getting rotten?

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Lanier Criticises the Web Blackout

Jaron Lanier, a musician, veteran of the web and pioneer in virtual reality, speaks out in the New York Times on the latest round of web protests. He is a critic of the proposed law, but also critizes the critics:

There is, however, an outdated brand of digital orthodoxy that ought to be retired. In this worldview, the Internet is a never-ending battle of good guys who love freedom against bad guys like old-fashioned Hollywood media moguls. The bad guys want to strengthen copyright law, and make it impossible to post anonymously copied videos and stories.
The proposed Stop Online Piracy Act, or SOPA, which is being considered in the House while the Senate looks at a similar bill, is deemed the worst thing ever. Popular sites like Wikipedia staged a blackout on Wednesday to protest the bills. Google put a black banner over its name. Nothing quite like that has ever happened before. This is extraordinary, because it shows that belief in the priority of fighting SOPA is so absolute as to trump the stated nonpartisan missions of these sites.
I wrote about the protests in yesterday's blog here at the Nordic Link.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Wikipedia Is Not A Weapon

The New York Times calls the 24-hour shutdown of the English version of Wikipedia a "political coming of age". I disagree. If anything, it shows lack of maturity.

Whatever you think of the law, which seems like an overly broad and clumsy attempt to solve a very real problem - online theft of intellectual property - today's protest is naive, bordering on stupid.

The web is a utility for the mind. It should never be shut down, never turned into a spigot that anybody can turn on or off. Just look at China where the autocratic leaders takes information and communication extremely serious, arming an army of controllers with the latest surveillance tools to monitor the collective mind for any signs of cracks and dissent. The opponents of SOPA may think that they are fighting for freedom, but they actually opened the door to a very dark room.

Hans Sandberg