Bits & Pieces 2012-08-23

Links and things that I’ve run across recently.

It’s All in the Emphasis

My Daughter: No way am I gonna name my son “Jonathan.” Every Jonathan I know is a total asshole, except my dad.

Me: What about Jonathan [so-and-so]? He’s not a total asshole– uh, I mean, he’s not a total asshole…

At Least There Were No Glittery Vampires

We were watching the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode “The Royale.” This is the episode in which the Enterprise discovers debris from a mid-21st-century NASA spacecraft— Yeah, as if NASA will still be around 40 years from now! Then they scan the planet below and find a bubble of breathable air. Of course, Riker, Worf, and Data beam down to investigate, after which they find themselves cut off from the Enterprise, in a Las-Vegas-style hotel and casino, playing out the plot of an awful novel entitled The Hotel Royale.

My Dad noted, astutely: that’s what hell is, trapped in a bad novel and you can’t get out.

DRM-Free? Tell the World about It!

So-called “digital-rights management,” where 21st-century content meets 20th-century mindset. Not all authors—not even indie authors—agree with that evaluation. But most (if not all) indie authors do avoid DRM.

The Free Software Foundation (who brought us the popular, open-source GNU Public License) has created a DRM-free label, which can be used by any supplier whose content is released without DRM.

DRM is that technology that prevents you from accessing your legally purchased ebook, audio, video, or software product, except in ways and for purposes that the content supplier has explicitly authorized. In other words, it gives the publisher and distributor control over your use of a book you supposedly own (because you paid for it), and is one of the reasons I believe many ebooks are not actually worth a fraction of what the publishers want readers to pay for them.

I’ve never used DRM in any of my electronic products, including ebooks disributed through Amazon and other mainstream channels. And so I will be displaying the “DRM-free” seal—I’m not sure exactly how or where yet—on my products and websites.

Google Is “So Over Patents”

Good for them. After fighting another stupid software-patent battle of the century, Google is getting fed up. Reports VentureBeat, “Conceptually, they [patents] just don’t jive with innovation, two prominent Googlers have said recently.”

Assuming they meant jibe—Still, ain’t got a thing if ya’ ain’t got that swing!—that seems a fairly “duh” statement. But it’s unfortunately a longstanding myth that strong intellectual property laws help innovators (especially when those laws are crafted poorly), because they don’t.

Today’s Quote

Star Trek was a HUGE influence on my early years — the character of Spock in particular. The fascination of Spock was that he was not emotionless as many suppose, but highly disciplined. Gene Roddenberry’s concept was that the Vulcan race became the way they were because they knew that they would destroy themselves if they did not find a way to control the expression of their emotions. Spock continually demonstrated that thinking was easier and clearer if one was able to remain calm, despite arousing circumstances…

Your feelings are part of your ‘survival kit’. They are designed to keep you alive. They are not necessarily concerned about whether or not you are happy though… The key to dealing with unwanted or pointless feelings is to learn how to calm down quickly.

(Chris Dyas)

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