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Hey everyone, tomorrow Monday May 19 I will be in Los Angeles near LAX starting around 3pm noon PDT until my flight out later that night at 3am midnight PDT. Would anybody in LA like to hang out with me, so that I don't have to just camp out in the airport?

UPDATE: My calendar was still on east coast time, my flight is 3 hours earlier than I thought, which actually makes sense, leaving at 3am would have been stupid.
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Imagine that Boba Fett is attempting to kill Luke Skywalker. Luke is standing out in the open, and Fett is flying overhead in his spaceship, Slave I. Fett has outfitted his ship with a laser cannon as thick as a man's thigh, and fires it at Luke. Luke, rather than dodging, brings up his lightsaber to block the bolt.

What happens?

The lightsaber's blade is thinner than the blaster bolt. Does the lightsaber deflect the entire bolt, or does some of the bolt leak around the edges, frying Luke where he stands? Assume that Luke summons up the Force to strengthen his arms, so that the bolt doesn't simply knock the lightsaber out of his hands.
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I'll be delivering the keynote speech for the Culture of Sharing symposium at the University of Wisconsin-Madison this Saturday, April 12, 2008. The event as a whole runs 3-6pm, with a "how to start a Students for Free Culture chapter" workshop 6-7pm, but if you just want to see my speech that's at 3:15-4:00pm. You should stay for the whole thing though, because I'll be running a breakout session on "Open source: sharing programming solutions", and that will be fun too ;-)

I'll also be speaking for Georgetown Free Culture at Georgetown University in Washington DC on Weds, April 16, and for Free Culture at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Virginia on Weds, April 23 (Students for Free Culture's birthday). I'll post more details here when I get them.

UPDATE: My Georgetown talk will be at 7:15p in Healy 103 on Weds, April 16. To get there, you can take the Orange line to Rosslyn and then take the "GUTS" bus to campus ( or a cab to 37th and O St.
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Imagine that you find a case which is perfect for your legal argument, but it is unfortunately from the wrong jurisdiction. Wouldn't it be excellent if you could just go to Westlaw or whatever legal database and hit a button "find cases with similar results / arguments [in X jurisdiction]"? Obviously sometimes, perhaps even frequently, there won't be any cases that were decided similarly for similar reasons, but if there were, wouldn't it be nice to find out right away?

Today, you can look up cases with similar subject matter using the headnotes / keycites at the beginning of the case in e.g. Westlaw, but that says little/nothing about the result or legal arguments used. Obviously in most cases you want to find cases that both support and oppose your argument, but hey.

In other news, I really wish there were a "Google Law" type legal database, completely open and freely available to the public and with normal web search engine features + syntax, i.e. something that any regular web user could immediately use. I think I raised this idea with my friends once and they said it wouldn't be good for our job security if just anyone could look up the law for themselves... then what would they need lawyers for? Upon further consideration and after chatting with [ profile] uncleamos, I don't think that's true though... although people are increasingly able to do medical research online for themselves, that doesn't mean they are less likely to seek medical treatment from a doctor. Simply having information isn't good enough, you also need the expertise to use it, whether on the operating table or in the courtroom. It's just empowering to have some idea of what your hired professional is doing for you instead of being totally clueless.
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Songbird mascotI have come to really like Songbird, the open source media player built on Mozilla technology. Its integrated web browser has lots of interesting potential applications, and makes installing extensions drop dead easy (unlike Thunderbird, boo). Songbird clued me in to the excellent music search engine SkreemR, which integrates very nicely into Songbird. Given the current extremely bloated state of iTunes, and how iTunes hogs all of my RAM if I leave Coverflow on, Songbird is less taxing on my system resources and manages to feel lightweight, even if it may not really be that lightweight in absolute terms. It's cross-platform, it's free software, it's easily extensible... what's not to like?

It doesn't have Party Shuffle, that's what, and there is no extension that implements this seemingly simple feature. Why not? I've come to really love Party Shuffle in iTunes... for those few bizarre people who have never used iTunes, Party Shuffle is a playlist auto-filled with random songs from your library, and after each song is played it is forgotten after a certain number of further songs are played (default is 5) to make room for new songs on the playlist. You can drag songs from your library to add to this random playlist, so you can easily mix randomness and non-randomness, e.g. you want to hear a couple songs right now but you want to return to shuffle play after that.

It may seem like a small feature, and it's not one that I use all the time, but I do use it very frequently and it's one of a very few things that Songbird does not do which iTunes does that makes me switch back to iTunes periodically no matter how much I enjoy Songbird. If this isn't going to be implemented in the core Songbird product, someone needs to write an extension which provides that functionality right now! The Now Playing List extension seems like it could easily act as a Party Shuffle extension if it would just let you turn on some sort of progressive random auto-fill function or something... but it doesn't have that feature. Alas.

P.S. The other main feature that keeps me switching back to iTunes is, sadly, the iTunes library. It's really handy to be able to just double-click on a song on e.g. my external hard drive and have a copy of the song immediately placed into my iTunes library folder, rather than moving it to my laptop's hard drive myself and having to figure out where to put it, etc. To get new music into my collection, I find myself going into iTunes and adding the music there, and then just re-importing the iTunes library into Songbird. I feel kind of stupid doing this, but there it is.

UPDATE: As pointed out in the comments, there is now a Songbird PartyShuffle extension. Ask, and ye shall receive! It's not quite as pretty as iTunes's implementation yet, but it's quite functional. I'm lovin' it! One problem is that it's basically a playlist that refreshes itself with new songs when you reach the end of the playlist, and this function breaks if you have "repeat" turned on because it'll go back to the beginning of the playlist without triggering the refresh. I'm sure these and other bugs will get worked out eventually, though, and in the meantime it works.
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Forget about Comcast's evil internet throttling policies and how they're destroying net neutrality. Sure, it's annoying when I'm trying to use Bittorrent to e.g. download the latest version of Ubuntu, but it's not ruining my life on a daily basis. I'd be willing to let their sins against free culture slide if they would just provide a decent internet connection.

Unfortunately, they don't. Comcast cable internet is atrocious, slow and unreliable. The only thing I can say in Comcast's favor is that once I manage to get a download going, it usually goes quickly, peaking around 300 kb/s. That positive is more than outweighed by the negatives, however. I can't upload anything faster than 40 kb/s on my Comcast cable connection, which is unacceptably slow when I'm trying upload my photos to Flickr, or send copies of songs I'm working on with my band to other band members, or share home movies with my friends. My ping is disgusting: I frequently have to give up on playing online games like Quake 3 / Open Arena because I'm lagging out with a ping of 999 or above. Frequently webpages will take 10-15 seconds to load, and I'm suddenly overcome with nostalgia for my dialup connection. I bet I could get better internet through my cellphone.

Everyone in my apartment complex hates Comcast so much that they're planning on ripping out all the walls and installing Verizon FIOS. They may have it done by the fall semester, so assuming I renew my lease on this apartment that'll make me really happy.

I know that ISPs are a monopoly in most parts of the country, but if you can possibly avoid it, *do not* buy Comcast cable internet. I'd even go so far as to select a house/apartment in a part of town that is not served by Comcast cable, if it comes down to that, and you value having a good internet connection. Boycott Comcast cable, not just for net neutrality's sake, but for your own sanity.
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Bill Clinton reaches for something to sign Here's a nice demonstration of the power of releasing your photos under a Creative Commons license... a photograph of Bill Clinton that I once took is now featured in this month's Science magazine!

The fellow who wrote the paper was nice enough to let me know about my picture appearing in Science, writing me to say "Hello - I am writing because you kindly granted permission for your photography to be used in a paper submitted to the journal Science." Yesss! He understood that permission had already been granted :) Too frequently people e-mail me asking permission to use my photographs and such, when the whole point of the CC license was so they could use it without wasting my time, so long as they follow my license terms. Of course in this case he probably didn't need to use Creative Commons-licensed photos, I'd say he has a pretty good case for fair use here, publishing part of a picture in an academic journal. But hey, whatever.

Check out this nice summary of the article and see how we can teach a computer to recognize Bill Clinton's face!

P.S. Thanks to Elsa for mentioning the article to me too... it's always good to know that even if the author had neglected to inform me, my friends would have kept me up to date :)
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If any of you will be in the Philadelphia area this weekend, I'm speaking at a librarian conference in Philadelphia on Saturday Jan 12: Working with the Facebook Generation: Engaging Student Views on Access to Scholarship. It will take place at the Philadelphia Convention Center (map) 4-6pm, which is really close to the Market East station if you take Septa into Philly. It would be lovely to see some Swatties there!

At any rate, I'll be in Philadelphia Friday night the 11th through Sunday evening the 13th, so ping me if you want to hang out ^_^
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If any of you will be in Minnesota near Minneapolis/St. Paul over winter break, drop me a line... I'm here visiting Karen and her family until Jan 6. Happy holidays!

Me, Karen, a tree, and my blinding hoodie
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OK, I don't mind hacking stuff to make it work, but once I hack it, it should *stay hacked*!

I have installed Ubuntu 7.04 "Fiesty Fawn" on my Macbook Pro... I am currently dual booting OS X and Ubuntu, and I intend to triple boot Win XP as well eventually.

This weekend, I spent about 2 hours making my NVIDIA video card and my sound card work, and it worked and I was happy and pleased with myself. Today I boot back into Ubuntu and, surprise, neither video nor sound is working! What changed? I used these instructions from this thread to make my NVIDIA card work again... I got pretty clear error messages from X11 when starting up, so it was easy to search teh interwebs for a solution. However, I have no idea what is wrong with my ALSA drivers and I don't have time to go find someone in IRC to help me right now. It's hard to fix a problem when you don't know what the problem is!

Dropping to the command line to fix things is OK, having to fix the same things repeatedly is not. Hopefully the next version of Ubuntu which is due out next month will make everything better.... it is a little unfair to expect Ubuntu to support the hardware on my 3rd generation Macbook Pro out of the box since the version of Ubuntu I'm using was released before my laptop was released.
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Since I couldn't make up my mind about cellphone plans, my parents just renewed with AT&T (yes, kinda evil, oops).  The upside is that they sent me a new phone to replace my old broken phone, so I am now once again able to receive phone calls after a couple weeks of phonelessness. (Sorry if I missed your call!)

My new cellphone is a Nokia 6126, which is a pretty decent phone... it's a clamshell design with bluetooth and speakerphone, and it was cheap, and that's all I really wanted. Annoyingly, the Nokia 6126 is not officially supported by iSync on Mac OS X! There isn't even an iSync plugin that you can download from Nokia, although there are plugins for plenty of other Nokia phones on the Nokia website. Ultimately I had to go and hack iSync's config files by hand, pasting in some gibberish from these directions for making the Nokia 6126 work with iSync.  I'm sorry, Apple, but that's really lame.  I'm using a Mac because I want it to just work... if I have to go copying and pasting gibberish from blogs / bulletin boards into my config files in order to get things done on my computer, then I might as well be using Linux.  (Incidentally, I've had some success with dual-booting Ubuntu on my new Macbook Pro, but I screwed it up by attempting to update to the latest alpha release.  Oops, time to wipe and re-install.)

My next phone will probably be the OpenMoko Neo 1973, which is kind of like the iPhone except it runs on Linux / open source software, and is designed to be friendly to hardware/software hackers who want to play around with its insides. The consumer model is due out in October, so I'll be saving up for that... it'll have wifi and GPS built-in, which makes up for the initial version not having 3G (same problem the iPhone currently has).
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If I seem to have dropped off the map for the past two weeks, it's been because I was (1) at iSummit '07 in Dubrovnik, Croatia, and (2) sick with a fever for a few days after arriving home. I feel much better now, but boy do I have a lot to catch up on.
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Internet Explorer, why do you make all of my webpages look like ass? I designed all of my sites in Firefox, and validated my XHTML and CSS, and my sites look mostly fine in Opera and Safari/KHTML without any work at all. But Internet Explorer, you just don't see things the same way other browsers do... you have a very warped view of the World Wide Web.

Internet Explorer, I now must find friends who understand your confusing ways, who can help me build things that look beautiful in your eyes, even though you are a disgusting hack job who makes every intelligent web designer want to puke. I don't understand why you see things the way you do, and I'm not sure I want to, but couldn't you try seeing things my way for once?

yet another busted IE page
Internet Explorer, there is no reason why you should be pushing all my content down the page to reside below my sidebar. Is it beneath you to render my blog posts in a reasonable fashion? Why can't you be like the other browsers and put my text where it's supposed to go? Isn't it obvious that I don't want there to be a page full of whitespace before people can get to reading my material? Seriously, think about it... use common sense, Internet Explorer.

P.S. I hate you.
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Tomorrow afternoon I am moving into my apartment in Arlington, VA, right next to George Mason Law where I am going to law school. I've lost track of where everyone is this time of year, but if you will be near DC, I could really use some help moving in! I have to get everything into my apartment between noon and 4pm on Friday, because that's when I have to stop using the elevator for moving furniture etc.

(Incidentally, if you know someone who would like a nice apartment 0.3 miles from GMU Law and right next to a metro station, hook us up! I need a roommate.)

Playing trailer tetris
The Uhaul trailer after we've finished with it

My dad collapses
My dad requests that in the future I build robots or engineer superchimps to do the moving for us
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Early this morning I am flying to Portland, Oregon, where I will be staying at Reed College for a few days, as a guest of Reed Free Culture. If you are in or around Portland for some reason, we should hang out!

I will be speaking at Reed Monday, April 9, 7:30 p.m., in Psychology 105. (You can also see me mentioned on their Public Policy Series webpage if you scroll down a bit.) I'll also probably be at a Reed chapter meeting on Sunday, doing a little workshop to help them get their chapter rolling. My friend Kevin from high school (who now works for Microsoft, to my derision) is visiting me on Saturday, and we'll go sightseeing around Portland... I'm planning on dropping by Free Geek at some point :)

On Tuesday I'll be flying back to LAX to speak at USC for USC Free Culture, on a panel of several people. Hm... I can't find the details on that, I'll have to post about it later. Sleepytime!

UPDATE: You can get the audio from the panel that I was on at USC here: Free[ing] Culture in Los Angeles: Beyond the Ivory Tower [download mp3]
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If you know me well, you know that I'm a pretty picky eater... my allergies (mild soy allergy, violent peanut allergy), my vegetarianism, and my dislike of spicy foods all limit my diet. I also generally dislike unhealthy foods... most of my peers seem to enjoy junk food, highly processed foods, and foods which provide no nutrition except for empty calories, but I find almost all junk foods to be unappetizing. Perhaps this is psychological, but I know plenty of people who enjoy junk food despite knowing full well that it is bad for them, so if it is a psychological distaste it is at least consistent :)

Upon arriving in California, I vowed to be more adventurous... I wanted to try new and nutritious foods to expand my diet and improve my health. I think I've been mildly successful so far, although there is plenty of room for future growth. However, there have been some failed experiments, and I'd like to share those with you before I get to the good stuff (hopefully in the next few days).

My negative food reviews )
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I'll be visiting the University of Florida in Gainesville March 1-7, and speaking multiple times while I'm there. The main event is Monday, March 5, 6:30pm - 8:00pm in Turlington Room 1315, where I'll be addressing the members of Florida Free Culture about the Diebold case and the free culture movement in general.

I'll also be speaking to two sections of a class called Legal and Social Issues in Computing on Tuesday morning March 6th, so if you're in that class please do attend that day :)

While I'm at U Florida, I'll be visiting the Open Art show, FFC's art show featuring Creative Commons-licensed art. This is the 3rd CC art show that chapters have done, following in the footsteps of NYU's CC art show and Harvard's Sharing is Daring.

I also plan to attend a games and digital media conference, a comic studies conference, and perhaps go to rock concerts, visit alternative libraries, and explore nature. The possibilities are endless! If you're in the area, I'd love to meet up with you ^_^ Unless, of course, you're an axe murderer or something.
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I need a bike during my 3-month jaunt to Claremont, CA. One big question is whether I should try to fly with my existing bike, which is a roughly $700 mountain bike, or buy some sort of bike when I get there.

I would love your advice for transportation on a budget... )

So, to recap:
* Should I fly with my existing bike or buy one when I get there?
* or, is relying on a bike + public transportation stupid in So Cal? Should I get a rental car instead?

UPDATE: [ profile] deaminerva suggests that I try carpooling, which might be possible if I develop relatively regular hours (although I suspect I won't). We'll have to see where I end up teaching/tutoring and at what times. Wikipedia suggests emotorpool as a carpool finder, I'm open to other ideas... This might be a possibility for surviving without a car.


Feb. 2nd, 2007 01:35 pm
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I am relocating to Claremont, CA for the rest of the semester, to spend time with my girlfriend Karen. I will be flying to Ontario, CA on Feb 10, so if you're in the NJ area you'll probably want to see me before then, and if you're in the LA we should hang out sometime after that :)

I'll be returning to the east coast on May 8th to take my final oral exam for my philosophy major, thereby completing all of my requirements for graduation from Swarthmore College. Unless something unexpected and horrible happens, I should be walking with the class of '007 on like June 3rd.

During my semester off, I hope to travel and speak in support of free culture, so if you want to bring me to your campus to speak, check out this little page I made about why you might want me to speak at your school. (Please leave some constructive criticism if you've got it.) I already have a few speaking gigs in the works, including an event at the University of Florida on March 5th, but I would love to have more. The more I speak, the better my speeches will get :)
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One of my grandparents' notes

My grandma has written me hundreds of notes over the years, much like this one. The content of these notes is never terribly important, and there are far too many of them to keep conveniently in our overcrowded house. Nevertheless, I feel a twinge of guilt whenever I throw one out. I know that someday my grandparents will no longer be with us, and I will be sorry that I discarded these tokens of their affection. Therefore, we have a compromise: this note is getting recycled, but not before I preserve it digitally for posterity.

[cross-posted to Flickr]

February 2009

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