Shall we vote for our phone companies’ profit margins or for Internet access for all, resulting in true growth? The answer should be obvious to anyone who is not a phone company. The Washington Post reports:
The federal government wants to create super WiFi networks across the nation, so powerful and broad in reach that consumers could use them to make calls or surf the Internet without paying a cellphone bill every month. The proposal from the Federal Communications Commission has rattled the $178 billion wireless industry, which has launched a fierce lobbying effort to persuade policymakers to reconsider the idea, analysts say. That has been countered by an equally intense campaign from Google, Microsoft and other tech giants who say a free-for-all WiFi service would spark an explosion of innovations and devices that would benefit most Americans, especially the poor. . . . . “We want our policy to be more end-user-centric and not carrier-centric. That’s where there is a difference in opinion” with carriers and their partners, said a senior FCC official who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the proposal is still being considered by the five-member panel.
Yesterday, my 14 year old daughter JuJu and I spent the entire day at Studio 314 in Midtown St. Louis learning Adobe Lightroom 4. I’d been using Picasa for organizing my photos, and Picasa/Photoshop for processing. Lightroom is an incredible package –it allows you to quickly sort through your photos and also to “develop” them using sophisticated controls that allow for individual tweaks and batch processing. It’s a professional tool, and even after a day of studying it and most of a day (today) continuing to study it and use it on my own, I only think I’ve tapped into 50% of what the program can do. Not that knowing the controls is being proficient at using the program either. I’m sure that I’ll be picking up lots of tips and efficiencies over the next six months or so (there are tons of Youtubes and other videos offering instruction in Lightroom). What I’ve already noticed is that I’m turned some mediocre shots into decent shots and I’ve turned many decent shots into impressive images. Lightroom offers far more flexibility than the free photo organizing and processing programs out there, such as Picasa and iPhoto. Lightroom 4 is only about $100, so it’s well in range of amateur photographers like me.
Today I spent a couple hours at the St. Louis Zoo capturing images, so that I could have something interesting to process in Lightroom 4. I’ll paste a couple of my photos below, but also offer a gallery (you can get to the gallery by clicking on the title of this post if you don’t see it). I invite you to click on the photos below to see them in much better detail.
So far, so good. I’m definitely going to incorporate Lightroom into my workflow.
[These images were taken a Canon S95 and a Sony HX10V, two modest priced cameras, nothing fancy].
Word is that Murdoch now covets the Los Angeles Times and the Chicago Tribune — the bankrupt-but-still-dominant newspapers (and websites) in the second- and third-largest media markets, where Murdoch already owns TV stations.
Under current media ownership limits, he can’t buy them. It’s illegal … unless the Federal Communications Commission changes the rules. But according to numerous reports, that’s exactly what FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski plans to do. He’s circulating an order at the FCC to lift the longstanding ban on one company owning both daily newspapers and TV stations in any of the 20 largest media markets. And he wants to wrap up this massive giveaway just in time for the holidays.
If these changes go through, Murdoch could own the Los Angeles Times, two TV stations and up to eight radio stations in L.A. alone. And he’s not the only potential beneficiary: These changes could mean more channels for Comcast-NBC, more deals for Disney and more stations for Sinclair. For anyone who actually cares about media diversity and democracy, the gutting of media ownership limits will be a complete disaster.
As indicated in this article, we’ve been through all of this before. The idea that we need increased media concentration was battered down from many angles because it was a terrible idea. Now the charge is being led by an Obama appointee, Julius Genachowski. Here is more information regarding the over-concentrated media ownership in the United States. Here is yet more detailed information from Free Press.
I often think of Steven Covey’s reminder to take time to “sharpen the saw.”
Balance and renew your resources, energy, and health to create a sustainable, long-term, effective lifestyle. It primarily emphasizes on exercise for physical renewal, prayer (meditation, yoga, etc.) and good reading for mental renewal. It also mentions service to the society for spiritual renewal.
I’ve been feeling quite “stretched” over the past year, trying to accommodate duties to family, job and community, in addition to writing and trying to recharge, which I best do by taking time to play music. The problem is that by trying to attend to all of these aspects of my life, I don’t attend to any of the adequately, or so it seems. On top of that, the issues that I want to write about tend to be complex, or that is the way I tend to see them. Therefore, most of the writing I try to do begs for serious research and time-consuming writing. Looking back over the past year, at least as a general rule, I see that I haven’t adequately taken the time to write about the topics that interest me in way that adds much of value to the conversation.Too much of my blogging consist of citing to trackbacks while making an observation or two.
In the meantime, I have various growing outlines with many dozens of topics that I’m contemplating and developing. I’m excited about some of these ideas because I have some original approaches to some of them. I’d love to write about them, and I will. But I find that I’m not able to deal with them well, at least until now. I often made the judgment that it’s better to not write at all on many topics rather than to throw words around sloppily. The bottom line is that I’ve been writing somewhat less than I have in the past, despite my dream of writing more and doing it better.
This time “away” has been good for me. My mind seems more focused, at least to me inside my own head. This is the essence of Covey’s admonition to “sharpen the saw.” I feel more at peace when I am more selective, despite my unrealistic urge to live multiple simultaneous lives pursuing everything that interests me.
I think I’m about to get into a better writing spot soon, thanks to this new approach of being more selective. I’m definitely not “burned out.” I’m quite interested in writing better and adding something worthy to all of the world-wide chatter. My hope for this blog is found in the About Page: “This blog will focus on using current events as a springboard to higher-level discussions about human animals and the human condition.” This is where I need to focus–not on the day to day events, but on merely noting these fascinating (and oftentimes distressful) occurrences and using them as fodder for making deeper sense of the world.
Part of my optimism for more better writing stems from the completion of an enormously distracting task. My aging home computer had been slowing gradually and then dramatically due to mal-ware and likely other technical issues. I’ve probably spend 40 hours over the past 3 months trying to make my PC fast again, and I recently gave up. I bought a new PC, and just spent another 12 hours transferring data to the new drive as well as installing and validating the many programs I use. As of today, that task is done–everything is humming. To given an example of how bad things got, MSWord now opens in about a second. Last week, it took about 3-5 minutes to open. I used 4 virus/malware/spyware removal programs. I defragged and diagnosed my drive. I cleaned out unneeded software. I failed to figure out how to remove the damned Babylon malway, despite many approaches. The slow speed and perhaps viruses screwed up my software to my scanner, which led to a 6 hour diversion (fixed when I bought the new computer and reinstalled the software. My data has always been safe, in that I have multiple levels of backup in multiple locations.
As to my old PC, I wiped it’s memory clean, and put to use in a bedroom, where it still runs unimpressively yet adequately.
With these technical problems behind me and my new focus, I’m looking forward to doing some serious writing in the coming days, and making some new videos in the coming months.
I’m hoping that, from now on, my hours sitting in front of my computer will be spent writing rather than tweaking and fixing.
What are the current positions of Obama and Romney on net neutrality? Ars Technica reports:
Last November, the Obama Administrations issued a veto threat on a Senate resolution that would overturn the FCC’s net neutrality rules. At the time, the White House said, “the open Internet enables entrepreneurs to create new services without fear of undue discrimination by network providers.” The presidential statement expressed concern that overturning the FCC rule would “cast uncertainty over those innovative new businesses that are a critical part of the Nation’s economic recovery.” These comments indicate a strong commitment to the FCC rule, but since then the president has remained nearly mum on the subject.
For his part, Romney has criticized open Internet protections in his economic platform, saying that the FCC “imposed network neutrality regulations (defying both the legislature and judiciary) that restrict how Internet service providers manage the digital transmissions flowing through their networks.”
His answer to a question posed at a town hall meeting in New Hampshire last December offered one blunt hint about his policy preferences. Asked what role he thought the government needed to play in regulating the Internet, he responded, “Almost none.”
Over the last two days, I’ve needed to upgrade WordPress and my website theme due to an exploit (the TimThumb image-resizing script). Lots of tedious work, and I’m grateful to two very smart tech-savvy guys who guided me through the process, and Solostream, which provided the upgraded theme. The end result: This looks about the same, but has a lot more functionality and it’s now a safe installation. It reminds me of Oscar Wilde’s quote: “This morning I took out a comma and this afternoon I put it back in again.”
Now, if only I can set aside more time for writing, in order to put out a better product . . .
Verizon has just filed an appellate brief arguing that they have the right to tell you how to use the Internet. They are couching their thirst for power and control in Orwellian terms–they are claiming that the GOVERNMENT is trying to regulate the Internet. Don’t be fooled.
“How do our computers see us?”
“Maybe if we could see what our computer sees, we would stare differently.”
Here’s a fascinating article by Kyle McDonald at Wired: “When Art, Apple and the Secret Service Collide: ‘People Staring at Computers.’” McDonald secretly loaded up his custom-made app onto numerous computers displayed at a Manhattan Apple store in order to create an art project. He was fascinated with the expressionless faces displayed while people use computers. McDonald is a programmer, and using his automated app, he gathered faces of Apple customers (check out the video he created based on people staring at their computers).
Eventually, Apple figured out what McDonald had done. Next came the knock on McDonald’s door by the U.S. Electronic Crimes Task Force, and a lot of inconvenience. What started out as an art project expanded to include a discussion of privacy and snooping, including corporate and government snooping.
What did people think of his project? Here are a few of the hundreds of comments he received:
Interesting how he as able to capture a truly expressionless face. It made me think about how too much computer time may make us retract from social interactions. Weird .
Facial expressions are partially reflexive but partially social. It’s not a surprise that expressions get bland when there is no one around to non-verbally communicate with.
We ARE social animals and we can only guess at the long term effect of computers on our species.
I like the idea of “how does a computer sees you” any Asimov reader would daydream after such sentence.
McDonald has written a long article, but it’s extremely thoroughly engaging throughout.