I seem to be in an odd alternating cycle this year. One month of
frenzied posting activities followed by another with weeks of silence.
Of course, it’s only April. Who knows what the rest of the year will
bring? (I mean, other than people in the future.)
Return of the TiBook
Ever sit on a story so long it became moot? Last week I sent my
PowerBook G4 back to Apple to get its logic board replaced. It came back
yesterday. In fact, I typed this very entry on it sitting on the couch in my
living room. (It’s very strange to refer to something you’re doing in the past
tense while you’re doing it, but that’s because I know you’re reading this after
I typed it.)
I haven’t had a chance to try out the charging aspect yet, but all signs are
positive. [update: It works.] I haven’t noticed any other problems yet, so I’m feeling pretty good.
Apple gave me a fairly conservative estimate about how long this would take
(5–7 business days) so I’m pleasantly surprised to have it back in working
condition in less than a week. (If I were being negative, I would describe the
time as “more than two months”, since that’s how long ago I
first had problems.)
I must say that after a few weeks using Mac OS X, returning back
to OS 8.6 was a disappointment. The actual speed and response time differences
are due more to the hardware than the operating system, but it was very frustrating
when my web browser crashed and I had to restart the entire computer. Under
Mac OS X, I had gotten used to never having to reboot the system
except for troubleshooting.
More on Star Wars mythologicalness
(Yes, I know that isn’t a word.)
Salon has posted
on their article questioning the epic
background of Star Wars. As with the earlier spat with Lord of the Rings
fans, the viewpoints expressed support both sites of the argument and
generally present a more nuanced view of the subject. (I’m speaking of the
aggregate here. Individual letters tend to strongly take one side or the other.)
Given how interesting some of the letters can be, it’s a shame that Salon
doesn’t provide links to them in the original articles for the benefit of readers
who find them in the archive.
As I see it, it doesn’t matter much whether Star Wars is borrowing
from archetypes of epic storytelling or pulp science fiction or both. The movies
must be judged on their own merits. Homer can inspire crap just as Doc Smith can
inspire greatness. (Don’t press me for examples in either case, though.)
That being said, I’ll also note that attributing Coruscant to Trantor (both
planet-girdling cities) is a stronger argument than attributing Trantor to Rome
(both seats of empires). On the other hand, it’s not as if Asimov’s creation of
Trantor means that no one else can ever write about a planet-sized city. After
all, the existance of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet doesn’t mean
that no one else can write stories about carbon-based organisms.
Dance of the copy-protection fairy
Well, it’s almost been a month since my last note about
intellectual property law, so here’s some more.
First, a clarification of a point that frequently gets muddled in articles about
copyright term extension. A typical example comes from an
article in the Washington Post,
which writes: “works created by a corporation, such as Disney's Mickey Mouse, are
protected for 95 years.”
While it is true that Congress tends to extend the term of copyright whenever
the early works involving Mickey Mouse are about to enter the public domain, the
article is confusing copyrights, which apply to specific pieces of work such as
cartoons, and trademarks, which apply to names and characters. A
BBC article quotes
Jonathan Zittrain, who says, “(Disney’s) worry is vastly overblown. They’ll still
have trademark over Mickey Mouse, and that trademark lasts as long as Disney and
the Magic Kingdom do”.
Mickey Mouse is trademarked, and thus can’t run out of copyright. Steamboat
Willie, on the other hand, would have entered the public domain years ago
had the law not changed several times. (both via
Openlaw, indirectly via
Second, yet another example of companies using the
DMCA to bully the public.
It seems that several users of Blizzard’s video games, which use the a service at
battle.net for Internet play, were able to reverse-engineer the network protocol
and create alternative services. As a result,
Blizzard is suing them.
Unfortunately, the implications here go beyond reverse engineering
Internet-capable video games. In its broadest application, the argument Blizzard
is using would seem to make interoperability itself illegal.
Third, an argument against the current lawsuit attempting to strike
down the most recent copyright extension. Lawyer Morton Goldberg argues that
no matter what one thinks of the extensions themselves, the question is
one that Congress must decide, not the Supreme Court.
This actually makes a lot of sense, which puts Eldred v. Ashcroft
in a murky place.
Lastly, the unsurprising news that people dislike the
In fact, Catherine Raymond has described
its flaws from her perspective as a lawyer. (She admittedly is an insurance lawyer,
rather than an intellectual property lawyer, but as the wife of open-source advocate
Eric Raymond, she is presumably paying attentio to the situation.) (via
Doc Searls and
Doc Searls, respectively)