Tag Archives: about this blog

mellowing with age

The cuss-o-meter says only 21.5%. That is not the high standard I set for myself in conversation as a youth. Also, the quiz says that “This is 139% MORE than other websites who took this test.” What does that mean? More than the average, I presume?

The Blog-O-Cuss Meter - Do you cuss a lot in your blog or website?
Created by OnePlusYou (Yes, this is one of those quizzes/gimmicks/ploys that attempt to drive traffic to the originating site. The site is a dating site and not as interesting, IMO, as the quiz. I have added a “rel=”nofollow”” to my link so as to not assist any google-bumpage, and taken the liberty of making the text small per my own site style, and adding this note. But in the interests of credit & freedom, I have left the link active so that you, Gentle Reader, may feel free to click-through.)

now, even MORE derivative!

the wordpress 2.3 upgrade broke a bunch of my special code, so, i’m probably going to switch to a pre-installed theme(s) until i have time to really upgrade my theme. hey i was bored with it anyway.

ignore all the wacky “permissions required” and “no permissions” and “this post is copyrighted” bullshit that theme designers “helpfully” insert into every theme. this blog is creative commons attrib.

update: fixed my old theme to just ignore the problem elements & now (10/18) fixed the problem elements. still troubleshooting but it looks good.

online lives & data management

So, I’ve been posting a lot because my computer (beloved SugarPunk) is freaking out on me, and while I’ve been waiting to take delivery of a new HD, and working through various problems cloning it, and trying to recover data … all that time I have not much access to my actual files. So naturally I have more time on the Internet and my online life, because my realtime life is impeded by my lack of computer. Am I worried that my realtime life is so … mediated … my a computer? Only when it breaks down.

It seems that every few years I’m doomed to have a data catastrophe. (A datastrophe?)

Most recently, I observed that my beloved SugarPunk (the very last generation of titanium powerbooks, running 10.4) was about to give up the ghost on her hard drive. Her 60G HD had been in use pretty much 18 hours/day for four years, so I bear no grudges, but when I saw the tell-tale signs I hastily did a data backup that was a month or so overdue.

Sure enough, the HD became audibly unhappy within another couple of days, and I ordered a 100G replacement. I couldn’t even get the original to boot up any more, so I swapped in the new one. Of course it had been a long time since I did a full backup, and it had gotten partially erased in the meantime, and my system disks for 10.4 are back in california, so, with one thing and another, I ended up cloning a 10.3 hard drive from my GF’s first-generation aluminum powerbook.

So I’ll live with this, for now. Outstanding issues to resolve:

  • I’m missing some data files that I hope to still pull off sugarpunk’s original 60G HD as soon as I get the right enclosure kit (I had my hands on an IDE kit, but somehow bought the SATA. Why? Because my data management is CURSED this week. And because the shelves at MicroCenter were chaotic. It certainly wasn’t my fault.) Unfortunately the data files include a substantial portion of 2007 work. So I’m still a bit hampered and at sea.
  • Data backups. I bought a new 500G HD + enclosure kit & am going to do the smart thing & do a real backup regime with a periodic HD image as well as systematic incremental backups. The problem that I always face, though, and haven’t figured out a way around yet, is that for personal backups, imaging just doesn’t cut it. Because if you move your stuff around a lot you will inevitably overwrite or delete something you didn’t want to. I am *obsessive* about backups and data retention and this still happens to me. So imaging-style backups always kill something. I just need to do date-stamped incrementals, that’s all. Sigh.
  • Weirdly, when my machine boots up I get the missing system disk flashing folder icon for about two flashes, and then it finishes booting up like normal. I can’t figure this out. I wondered if maybe it was because I’ve cribbed an aluminum powerbook’s files to my tibook, but isn’t that flashing disk icon a firmware-related signal?
  • And I wonder if the flashing system disk flash is related to another weird booting problem I’m having, which is that sugarpunk will not boot in target disk mode. As soon as I get the chime the HD just spins down again. This is the new HD, which disk utility says is just fine. ??? What gives ??? Firewire is alive and well, because I can hook up a firewire drive no problems. (In fact that’s how I cloned: I set up our aluminum powerbook (“Curmudgeon”) in target disk mode, and then booted sugarpunk off curmudgeon as an external drive. Sugarpunk running off curmudgeon’s OS saw sugarpunk’s new 100G HD no problem and I was able to format etc. Hmm.

here there & sivacracy too

I’ll be cross-posting my derivative work material to Sivacracy now. I feel particularly honored to be blogging along with Siva & Ann Bartow, who have both been out on the front lines for a long while, pointing out injustices, stupidities, and wrong directions.

For those of you who don’t know me, I’m an information activist: a former librarian and media activist who was driven to become a lawyer by the craziness of copyright law, particularly, and IP, privacy, telecomm, and speech broadly. I’m working this year at the NYU Brennan Center for Justice with Marjorie Heins, developing a fair use network. I’m passionate about individual autonomy and assessing/fighting the forces that impact it: economic injustice, state coercion, & cultural practices like religion, sexism, and racism. That sounds dorky enough, but I’ll up the ante by adding that I’m also an old-school geek of the science fiction, books, & computer type, so occasionally I burst forth with fannish squees over, for instance, a new Joss Whedon or pirate movie. Followed immediately by sober analyses of its racialized dynamics and inappropriate uses of the terms “piracy”, “theft”, “stealing” and stolen-lawnmower analogies, I promise.

interesting things happening but also life

so, interesting things are going on right now that I have plenty of valuable, earth-shattering comments to make (google’s resistance of the DOJ subpoena, the new google 512 decision, siva’s latest article about google in the Chronicle, a recent discussion about personal releases & permissions culture, an exciting conference I just attended), but so is life. Blogging will have to wait.

changed hosts!

I’ve changed hosts for this website & blog, to dreamhost. We’ll see how it goes. It can’t be any worse than my former server, with its outsourced-to-a-FSU* tech support and its 90% uptime.

Already I like the way dreamhost sets up administration for multiple domains. It seems very logical & straightforward to me. It’s open source (linux/apache) based software. Shell access, running scripts, and the like, all seem pretty straightforward. The bells and whistles are also available.

Tech support is not outsourced — which I appreciate both practically and politically.

I also like the option for referral discounts. I’m looking into setting it up such that referral discounts end up getting (at least partially) donated to public interest tech/IP groups (EFF, Public Knowledge, Creative Commons, EPIC, public interest law clinics, and the like). Theoretically, anyway, I should be able to split the discount between people who want to join Dreamhost, the charities, and other purposes (supporting the project’s domain, for instance).

So so far, so good.

There may yet be little things not working that were working previously on the websites or the blog — for instance I discovered that some of the image files for this blog for some reason didn’t transfer correctly. That’s fixed now, but I anticipate a few other minor problems migrating. If anybody sees something not working the way it should be sure to let me know.

update 12/18 3:30 pm Referral codes. Okay, I *think* I have this figured out. If you use this link to go to dreamhost and then sign up, you are doing so using rewards.cgi?lquilter, which will then “credit” my account with a referral if you sign up. The referral is $97.00. Likewise, if you just go to dreamhost and sign up, and during the signup process list lquilter or lquilter.net as your referrer, then I get the $97 referral credit.

Alternatively, I have now created a discount referral code that does what I was looking for when I was trying to sign up. This code, DERIVATIVESWORK, gives the new sign-up 50% of the total available discount. The other 50% is credited to me, and I will donate half of it (25% of the total available discount) to public interest tech/IP groups. My first inclination is to donate in $100 batches to EFF, Public Knowledge, Creative Commons, EPIC, Samuelson Law Technology & Public Policy Clinic (Boalt Hall UC Berkeley) in that order. The other 25% I’ll use to support this blog. If anything comes in beyond the server costs of this blog I’ll probably funnel them back into donations. (But I reserve the right to change my mind about that.) Whatever I do I’ll post it publicly on this blog with an accounting, and if any funds actually come through this system, then I’ll account for them publicly as well. Something for everyone that way, I guess.

The discount in case one is curious is: $25 discount (plus $25 referral credit that I will split up) on a monthly L1 plan, $30 discount (plus $30 referral credit that I will split up) on a monthly L2 plan, $40 discount (plus $40 referral credit that I will split up) on a monthly L3 plan, and $48.50 discount (plus $48.50 referral credit that I will split up) on all the other plans (yearly, two-year, and monthly L4 plans).

So we’ll see what happens!

update 2006/11/1: donations report

* FSU = former Soviet Union republic

seeking new host

Hostony, my current host, has had service & performance problems off & on for the two years I’ve been with them. I’ve stayed because they were inexpensive & had beaucoup features. But now I’m fed up.

Hurricane Electric, I love, but they’re (a) too expensive; (b) not remotely current on mysql; (c) too limited with respect to mysql databases; (d) too limited with respect to subhosts, ftp accounts, & other features now common to webhosts.

So, any ideas of new hosts would be welcome. I need:

a) lots of disk space
b) shell access
c) mysql databases – my blog & other applications require them
d) ability to run scripts, edit cron, etc.

Most be a linux host.

update 12/18: I did end up going with dreamhost which so far seems to be working outo pretty well. See migration details and referral discount.

about the blogroll / linkroll

I just re-set the blogroll to show everything, sorted alphabetically; reverse-alphabetically in a few categories. This is a shift from the past several months, when I had limits on total # of blogs in a category, and showed them by ostensible date-of-most-recent-updates. That didn’t work. The date-of-most-recent-updates was determined some means incomprehensible (well, uncomprehended, anyway) by me. So I couldn’t fix it when the system didn’t pick up recently updated blogs. Moreover, the way I would have really liked it to work would be to (A) limit by top 75 most recently blogs; and (B) order by alphabet. Alas.

If I just keep the limits, then the same n blogs show up all the time; that’s boring. I could limit to n and sort by random but I like alphabetical sorting. So, what the hell. I’ll just have a really really long blogroll. No skin off my back. I like having all those sources. The ones I need are organized into subcategories. The ones I read just for fun are all lumped together and sorted alphabetically. Eventually new blog management tools will come along and I can pick them up. In the meantime I’m happy enough with the new (old) arrangement.

how the personal became political

How I Became a Freedom Fighter — A story in two parts:

Part 1: As a teenager in the 80s, I knew libraries were pretty cool. I used them to pursue various odd interests too embarrassing to blog (e.g., the various sequels to The Scarlet Pimpernel). When things were unspeakably tough for me at home, libraries were a refuge. When my friend’s parents burned her science fiction and fantasy out of fears of ‘satanism’, and forbade her to read anything not assigned by church or school, libraries were more than a refuge: they saved her sanity. When I read in history and newspapers alike about librarians or the American Library Association standing up against would-be book-burners or book-banners, librarians seemed actually heroic as well as sane: Defenders of Freedom! Purveyors of Knowledge! Keepers of the Light! And so on.

Gentle Reader, I became a Librarian, and eventually an Internet Evangelist. Libraries and librarians are an obvious and unqualified good: they provide access to information. They let people make their own choices. I started using email and bulletin boards as a student in the late 80s, and was thrilled by these new communication technologies. As a librarian in the 90s it was obvious that what we now call the Internet was a tremendous multiplier: people would ultimately be able to access anything, but more than that, they would be able to publish anything. Democracy! Printing Presses! Gutenberg! Revolution! The Ultimate Fulfillment of Human Potential! And so on.

Part 2: In the late 90s, I was a tech educator & librarian, in San Francisco. I ran an educational center at the Exploratorium, one of the coolest museums ever, dedicated to letting people learn how to learn. I was all about experiential learning. Plus I got to play with a lot of cool media technology.

Unfortunately, it seemed that despite the best efforts of librarians, Human Potential hadn’t been quite fulfilled yet. The censorware wars were raging as states and universities and localities tried to ‘protect’ their citizens and employees from information. Congress passed the Telecommunications Reform Act in 1996, simultaneously banning ‘indecent’ communications and lowering media ownership limits — the sole nod toward Human Potential in that benighted legislation was the establishment of the E-Rate program to pass some money to libraries and schools for Internet access. Two years later Congress passed the Mickey Mouse Protection Act (aka the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act) and the wretched Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

Watching all this legal and political maneuvering with frustration, I was increasingly interested in the details of the seemingly arbitrary rules, and how the grand principles were oftentimes frustrated by those details. So I applied to law school, and was thrilled to be accepted at Boalt — at that time, the only law school that really did public interest IP. I knew of Professor Pam Samuelson’s work, and found out that she had just endowed a law clinic to work on issues of law, technology & public policy — I couldn’t be happier. So I went to law school, and worked on a bunch of cool projects before and since. With any luck, I’ll keep on figuring out ways to get by in the world, using my skills & knowledge, and trying to be a net positive. Pretty much what most people do, I guess.

On my best days, I love people. As a species we’re just unbelievably brilliant. We’re good at talking & thinking. We’re so good at it, in fact, that we constantly devise new ways to do it, better and more efficiently and more often and in different funky ways and over different media. From art to science to household gossip, it’s all about us communicating to each other, using movement, sound, vision; different languages for different messages in different media. Speaking, writing, printing, broadcasting, blogging: using every sense and every force of nature we shape the world around us, just to talk to one another. “Information wants to be free” is a canard. Information has no wants or desires. People want information to be free. It seems to be human nature — maybe animal nature, maybe the nature of all life — to communicate, to communicate freely.

It’s probably only natural that some would feel threatened by this human urge to communicate, and others would see it as a potential resource for exploitation. Any force of nature can be dammed for profit or the pleasures of control. Hundreds of years ago, the efforts of governments to control printing presses led to copyright statutes and sedition laws. And in response, people said No! We want to increase and share information, and in this country these revolutionaries devised the First Amendment and assigned copyrights to Authors, not printers.

Today, the struggles continue: governments pass laws regulating speech, punish people for sharing information, and hand the control of information to media corporations. And in response, 15 years ago, some people got together and formed the Electronic Frontier Foundation. The staff at EFF work to protect our rights to talk, to listen, and to share information using the tremendous power of communications technology. Because of their labors, in part, people have more opportunities to stand up and speak, write, print, broadcast, and blog. So happy 15th birthday, EFF. May there be many more.

comments back on & header fixed

nervously i am turning comments back on. spam karma 2 has been catching all the trackback spam, so i’m going to try it out on the regular comment spam. crossing fingers, knocking wood, and steadfastly refusing to walk in front of my black cat.

also, i fixed the header problem. i still claim that the site renders imperfectly in every browser thus far tested. but it renders less imperfectly than it did, thanks to avedon carol / sideshow who psst’ed about the header in her link. safari & firefox ignored the problem completely but i loaded up in IE and sure enough there was a series of error messages instead of a header. the perils of not browser-testing every time you tinker w/ layout & plugins are demonstrated again.

style sheets

pardon the mess … i keep playing with stylesheets to set up table-like arrangements, and getting unpredictable parent-child inheritance effects. it’s a learning process for me, but depending on your browser & operating system, it may lead to problems (or stylish Mondrian-type effects) for you.

fwiw, it looks okay in safari on OS X.

comment spam freedom

holy shit, i will be so happy if indeed the WP AuthImage plugin finally works correctly for me. thank you, thank you, gudlyf. i’ve been getting approx. 30 to 100 spam comments a day. almost all for p0k3r! grrr.

update 2/8: emerging briefly from the hole that is bar review to check my email and, voila! no spam so far! hooray! i will now do a happy no-spam dance.