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Legal matters confuse me.

I like to keep up on legal matters that concern me. In particular, I pay special attention to ongoing copyright and patent cases - especially those that affect software.

While I understand that the purpose of Copyright and Patent Laws is to promote the Arts and encourage innovation, it's hard to see why they're still necessary in this modern world. The RIAA claims that without Copyright, artists would have no incentive to create. While I find the claim ludicrous - especially given that many musicians willingly give their music away, and that the barrier to entry for moviemaking has fallen so low that freely-licensed movies are now commonplace, and that Free Software continues to be made - I do recognize the desire and need for creators to be compensated for their contribution to society. After all, programmers need to eat.

What's appalling to me is that these big companies - who actually create nothing, and only sell content they've bought or licensed from others - work so hard to "protect" that which they "own," by working to make illegal the basic privilege of Fair Use granted us by Copyright Law.

The various movie studios and the DVD-CCA (the licensing authority for DVD "copy protection") sued RealNetworks for their RealDVD product, which makes a Fair Use backup of the DVDs it plays on the users' hard drive. It even preserves the CSS encryption scheme (still in use, despite the ease with which it was broken) on the stored copies. But Tuesday, the presiding Judge handed down a decision (PDF) blocking the sale of RealDVD because it "circumvents" the lesser-known parts of CSS "protection:" DVD drive locking, CSS bus encryption, and CSS authorization. Under the DMCA's anti-circumvention clause, therefore, RealDVD is illegal. But, the Judge also notes in the decision that consumers have a Fair Use right to make backups.

So, to summarize, it's legal to make a backup of a DVD, but it's illegal to make or distribute the software that does so, and it's also illegal to use said software.

... What?

This, combined with all of the confusion surrounding the decision in In re Bilski, makes me sit and stare at my screen in wonder. Are lawmakers and the Judiciary insane?

On a side note, I'm glad I got a PACER account.

I need to do this more.

A naive implementation of an infamous interview test.

So tired...

Well, I've been working for a while now at a builders exchange, and I have to say I like the job. It's not quite as challenging as I'd hoped, but at least I can look forward to going to work.

... And speaking of going... I ride the bus to work. Normally that doesn't seem so bad, but it takes 40 minutes for the 80X to get to Mt. Vernon from Bellingham, and another 30 to 40 minutes to get from Mt. Vernon to Everett on the 90X. And, unfortunately, the walk up the hill is taking its toll on my legs. I've always had a bit of trouble when I walk quickly - my peroneus longus has always gotten very sore very quickly, despite being very loose; I have never once been able to stretch that muscle (despite many, many attempts), so it has always been quick to tire. But now, my flexor digitorum longus feels as if it is tearing. I can't figure out what would have caused it or why the onset was so quick. It doesn't hurt as much now as it did a few days ago, but still... Ow.

In any case, the time I spend on the bus has given me a lot of time to think and read. I don't much enjoy letting my mind wander so, so I'm looking forward to buying a Vaio SZ740. It's just so hard to force myself to save my money...

No work and too much play make Charles a bored boy

Yeah, I've been spending too much time without a decent programming job, and what little temp and contract work I can find just isn't enough. Now, with my pinky's tip split (5 stitches!) and slowly healing, I'm realizing how much I really miss working at Innuity.

A little project I've been working on sort of on the back burner is a 3D game engine. I never talk about it much because I've had so much trouble focusing on it recently. I suppose not having any deadlines or milestones is a bad thing. :) (That's also probably why I've not bothered to fix my site yet, etiher. I need comments functionality - I just haven't set aside the time for it yet.)

I'm learning very quickly just how hard writing a 3D graphics engine is. I'm also learning to really love the boost library. My only real hangup at the moment is just how, precisely, to handle resource management - specifically, how to deal with data files in a portable way. For example, detecting the executable file's location is not exactly straightforward or portable. Nor is detecting the appropriate application data directory very straightforward. ... Never mind the fact that on the Mac, there doesn't seem to be a POSIX-compatible way of doing it: On OS X, there is a special object specifically for paths. I'll need to get myself a Mac one of these days. For now, though, I don't think anyone will complain about it being Linux-only. It's about time someone did that. :)

Anyway, with my PS3 and WoW barely holding my interest anymore, I'm anxious to get myself back to being chest-deep in code. I only hope someday someone will pay me for it again. :)


When one comes to the sudden (and unpleasant) realization that the modern corporate economic environment is fundamentally and fatally flawed, it becomes stunningly obvious that the System is ultimately doomed to fail. Corporations today - once they become publicly traded - inevitably lose their original focus as a business with a mission; and suddenly, they are encouraged (no, required) by their shareholders to produce capital. Their intent quickly moves away from the purposes for which the company was founded, and they suddenly become obsessed with their now inherent greed. Now that money-focused investors and shareholders "own" a piece of the company, these same persons are focused solely on recouping their "investment." They demand of their company that it produce ever more capital - more money for more "investments."

These "publicly-owned" corporations suddenly develop the most severe kind of attention-deficit disorder: They move from project to project, seeking the highest return on investment - seeking at any cost the greatest benefit for the least work. These entities - legally recognized as persons - are willing to cut out their own kidneys for the piddling loose change to finance their next big project: Cutting off their big toes.

Starting today, and Credit Discovery are going to be hobbling along, pretending they can still stand, while their parent company, Innuity, Inc., fumbles with that scalpel.

That's right, I was fired laid off today. (ed. Apparently, I used the wrong term here. I don't acknowledge a difference. To me, a "layoff" is a "mass firing" and nothing less.) Along with another experienced and valuable software engineer. The reason? The company "is restructuring and eliminating the Employee's position."

Am I angry? Bitter? Hurt? I'd be lying if I said no. But I don't, and truthfully couldn't, fault my friends there. I'll miss seeing them all each day, no matter how much Larry's snacking annoyed me. :)

No, it's time to move on, though I've been unemployed for only a few hours. I just wish my confidence hadn't gotten in the way of seeing this coming. I loved my job, and I can only hope and pray I can find something that I can enjoy as much.