Saturday, December 29, 2007

2007 Ends, 2008 Starts

The world of computers was relatively quiet this past week. Not so the international sphere with the assassination of former Pakistan Prime Minister Bhutto. This act of violence clearly signals that the war on terrorism has failed in many respects. And so ends another year with bloodshed amongst people. Every year we look forward to the new one in hopes that it will bring lasting peace; we have crossed from year to year, century to century, millennium to millennium -- and we are still hoping for that elusive thing we call peace. If you believe in prayer (of any type), I suggest that we all start praying daily for peace. The power of our collective energies has to be able to turn this sad situation around. On a personal level, I wish you all a safe end to 2007 and a joyous start to 2008.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Merry Christmas

Christmas is only a few days away. It is a wonderful time of the year if one focuses on the important aspects of the Holidays. I recently realized that just last year, my wife entered the hospital with newly-discovered tumors in her brain. We spent Christmas, our wedding anniversary and New Years in the hospital while she fought a disease that would ultimately take her life seven months later. Yet, we were together and we made the best of a very difficult situation. To the best of our ability we were happy. We also were given the most precious gift: the realization not to ever take any of our loved ones for granted. I share this gift with all of you. Merry Christmas -- may all your dreams come true!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Good for Canada!

It appears that Canadian citizens have achieved success in, at least, delaying the implementation of the DMCA laws that were a major concern to many of us. That is excellent news as long as the delay results in changes that protect information sharing and the rights of consumers.

As Christmas approaches, I am reminded frequently that the Holidays are such a hectic time that many of us often forget the reason for it all: people. This is supposed to be a time of the year when we can celebrate people coming together to give; and giving does not necessarily mean spending tons of money on gifts, especially not by using credit cards that you will never finish paying if you only make minimum contributions. To me it is about giving in other ways: doing things that make others happy, spending time having fun, and looking around to appreciate all that you really have.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Entertainment vs. Freedom

More and more people are becoming aware of the seriousness of problems being caused by the entertainment industry as they try to protect revenues by attacking freedom. From the failed malware embedded in CDs to legislative efforts targeting universities, the entertainment industry is trying its best to commit suicide. More and more customers are becoming disenchanted with the industry and are either not buying products to show their disapproval or using other "freedom" channels to obtain products. I think eventually all companies in the entertainment business will come to realize that they are fighting a loosing battle and they would profit far more by joining their customers rather than fighting them. A number of companies have figured this out already and are doing better financially than others. The main point of this commentary is that a powerful force (the entertainment industry) that used to promote freedom of speech is trying its best to suppress it. What an irony that is. But we can all let these companies know that trying to force old business models on a new marketplace is counterproductive and absurd. Hopefully they will pay attention and listen to their customers.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Freedom of Speech

Freedom of speech has taken on a very different twist lately, as ISPs limit what users can access under the excuse of resource management. The RIAA is also pushing to force universities to install software that would track student access to the internet, and is threatening federal funding if institutions fail to conform to its demands. As Netcitizens, we are all being threatened by these and other efforts by a minority to control information that clearly belongs to the majority. Current censorship efforts are similar to those imposed by tyrants during the dark ages. We know what happened then -- and history, I trust, will repeat itself. Back then, however, people made an effort to brake the chains of cultural slavery. Will we move to protect the freedom of information we enjoy?