Hello, World.

Facebook Already Owns Us

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Today, variations of the following are all over my Facebook news feed:

In response to the new Facebook guidelines I hereby declare that my copyright is attached to all of my personal details, illustrations, comics, paintings, professional photos and videos, etc. (as a result of the Berner Convention).
For commercial use of the above my written consent is needed at all times!

(Anyone reading this can copy this text and paste it on their Facebook Wall. This will place

 them under protection of copyright laws. By the present communiqué, I notify Facebook that it is strictly forbidden to disclose, copy, distribute, disseminate, or take any other action against me on the basis of this profile and/or its contents. The aforementioned prohibited actions also apply to employees, students, agents and/or any staff under Facebook’s direction or control. The content of this profile is private and confidential information. The violation of my privacy is punished by law (UCC 1 1-308-308 1-103 and the Rome Statute).

Facebook is now an open capital entity. All members are recommended to publish a notice like this, or if you prefer, you may copy and paste this version.

Thanks for everyones support.

Posting this is as ignorant as not reading the Facebook terms themselves (which I’ll admit I didn’t do when I signed up). It’s almost entirely bullshit. Here’s what I found with just a bit of Googling.

First, you agreed to this when you signed up for Facebook (or when you stayed on after they changed it):

For content that is covered by intellectual property rights, like photos and videos (IP content), you specifically give us the following permission, subject to your privacy and application settings: you grant us a non-exclusive, transferable, sub-licensable, royalty-free, worldwide license to use any IP content that you post on or in connection with Facebook (IP License). This IP License ends when you delete your IP content or your account unless your content has been shared with others, and they have not deleted it.

Second, there is no Berner Convention. Maybe you meant the Berne Convention, which requires countries to recognize the copyright of people under the laws of their own country. Not sure how that applies here, since you are using Facebook under the terms quoted above.

Third, “UCC 1 1-308-308 1-103” is meaningless. A Google search brings up the Uniform Commercial Code, which does have sections 1-308 and 1-103. I’ll admit I’m not sure what the legal language in that document is getting at, so perhaps it’s all there. But it’s sloppy.

Fourth, from Wikipedia:

Under the Rome Statute, the ICC can only investigate and prosecute the core international crimes (genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and the crime of aggression) in situations where states are unable or unwilling to do so themselves.

So that doesn’t help. Not that you need help, seeing as how you already agreed to let Facebook use your IP.

I won’t even go into the punctuation errors.

In conclusion, if you want to own your data completely, quit. Facebook. Now. Even if something like what people are posting could help, they already have your data and an army of lawyers to help them keep it.

Written by xaqrox

November 26, 2012 at 10:28 am

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The RepRap Saga

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Sometime in June 2008, the superlative blog-to-end-all-blogs BoingBoing posted told me about the RepRap project. A RepRap, for those of you who don’t know, is a self-replicating open-source 3D printer. It creates 3D objects by extruding plastic filament in layers according to instructions derived from a digital model. Its design and software are free to be copied and modified under the GNU GPL. Best of all, once you have one, you can make all the custom parts for another.

This project attracted me for two reasons. First, I had always been awed by the sense of power programming gave me, the potency of this crystallized cognition. 3D printing seemed to have the ability to extend that power into the tangible world: instead of moving bits around, I could tell atoms what to do just by writing something down.

Second, the economic implications of personal manufacturing fit very nicely with my radical streak. This was just around the time I started hearing about “too big to fail” and becoming truly disgusted with the way our society is organized, and I saw in RepRap the possibility of another way of doing things.

In Winter 2008, I built a RepRap at Sarah Lawrence College with my friend James. We just finished it in time for the end of the semester. Though we did it as a project for a Java class, it’s far enough in the past that I am willing to admit that I didn’t learn a whole lot in the process of simply putting the kit together. Oh no, the learning was only beginning.

From the SLC RepRap blog:

In the Fall semester of 2009 I took a Computer Architecture course taught by Michael Siff at Sarah Lawrence College. For my independent project I attempted to design a system of modular mechanical logic gates [inspired by Cory Doctorow’s Makers]. I seriously underestimated the scope of this endeavor. I was trying to simultaneously:

  • learn Blender
  • learn Skeinforge
  • design complex pieces using Blender
  • maintain and troubleshoot Kurzweil [yeah, I named our RepRap after Ray Kurzweil]

Any one of those points could have been worthy of a semester’s work, but I tried to do all of them at once. I learned a little about each of those four things, but mostly I learned about patience, something I’ve been coming back to over and over in my work on RepRap.

After that semester, I didn’t come back to the RepRap until this summer. I only got a couple evenings of work in, and soon the summer was over and I was back in Takoma Park, graduated, never to return to SLC, and RepRap-less.

Enter HacDC. HacDC is a hackerspace in DC, and since the middle of September I’ve been working on printing my own RepRap on the machines there. As with all things RepRap, it’s not been easy, but slow progress is being made, and I’m learning a lot for the guys there along the way.

So that’s the RepRap saga so far. One thing I learned over the summer is that documenting one’s work is absolutely key. You are forced to clearly define the problems you encounter, and you open your work to the community to feedback and support. I haven’t been documenting the work I’ve been doing at HacDC so far, and that is silly. So expect a lot more stuff about 3D printing from here on out.

Written by xaqrox

November 12, 2010 at 10:09 pm

Posted in RepRap

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Microsoft Is The World’s Abusive Boyfriend

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In lieu of getting a real job, I have been doing some freelance tech support for people in my community. Most recently I have been helping the aunt of my friend Carter with a very fussy netbook.

Aunt Baldwin has the occasional need to open and edit a .doc file. She is used to using MS Word for this. Her netbook, like many others, shipped with Windows 7 and a trial version of Office, which ran out after 60 days. Now she has paid $150 for a license, and while I write this I am on my second hour of being on hold with MS Tech Support because the damn file she paid for won’t install and gives a totally useless error message.

Here’s the thing that kills me. She already has OpenOffice on her desktop, and she refuses to use it. She says that she’s already learned MS Word, and “just wants life to be simple!”

Well guess what? Life is not simple! And you know what are really not simple? COMPUTERS.

Much ink and many pixels have been spent in the last few months wondering if computers are making us dumber. Well I’ve figured it out: the computers are not making us dumber, MICROSOFT is. And Apple and Adobe and Facebook and any closed system who thinks it knows better than you what you want to do with your machine.

And they’re not evil! They honestly want to help, I believe that. But they are fooling the world into thinking that using a computer is not a new skill that actually needs to be learned.

Written by xaqrox

November 3, 2010 at 9:37 pm

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Don’t Hate, Cooperate

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Welcome to my blog thingy! I’ll do a proper intro post eventually, but I was inspired enough to write this so I thought I should just let it out before I get lazy.

PZ Meyers thinks being a dick is a viable strategy for skeptics to effect change. I disagree.

Behavior is determined by the perception of positive and negative consquences. Not intellectually, but sensually, in the moment. If you try to change someone’s behavior with abuse, YOU become their problem, not the behavior. The energy they could be putting into thinking about what you are telling them gets redirected to behaviors that will mitigate the violence being done to them. That probably means getting defensive and holding ground on the very beliefs you are trying to change.

To truly change someone’s behavior, you have to show them how the new behavior will reward them. This goes beyond just telling them, you have to get them to experience it subjectively. You have to listen empathically, learn their language, and express yourself in the most meaningful way from THEIR perspective. Much harder than to say “you’re stupid if you don’t get what I’m saying” and hope their feelings will be hurt enough to make them change.

That is the virtue of dickishness. It provides the social and psychological penalties that counter the draw of complacency.

Ignoring the arrogance of believing that annoying-ness will be interpreted as a “social and psychological penalty”, the question I’d like to ask PZ Myers is: would you like people to start thinking critically because they want you to stop being mean to them, or because they see that they can live richer, more authentic lives? Which do you think will stick better?

Written by xaqrox

August 27, 2010 at 5:42 pm