Archive for March, 2010

What happens to your online accounts when you croak???

Ars Technica did a nice article yesterday on what happens to your life online when you die, dealing mainly with your social networking presence (Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, Blogger, Buzz, Gmail, etc.).  It was an extremely interesting article!

Well… can’t say I’ve given much thought to this, altho’ I certainly should since I’m a certified member of the Old Fart’s club.  Seeing as I’m not much into social networking, I’m more concerned about all my online banking, credit card, email & shopping (e-commerce) accounts.

One point of view a person could have is:  “Who cares?  I’m dead!”  Another point of view though, if you’re leaving behind a ‘significant other’,  is why make a difficult situation even worse?  (unless, of course, your ‘significant other’ is the reason you’re dead :-), in which case “Who Cares?” or worse applies, e.g., “Bite Me!”)

If your ‘significant other’ is a computer numbnuts & doesn’t use a PC, then I suppose the “Who Cares?” applies.  But if he or she DOES & CAN use a computer, then it “may” be convenient to leave them access to all your accounts (banking, email, e-commerce, etc., etc.).

One of the programs I mentioned previously in “My List of Favorite PC Programs & Utilities” post is the free, open source password manager called KeePass Password Safe.   Here’s just some of the info that I store in KeePass:

  1. All bank accounts (acct #’s, passwords, security questions, URLs, tele #, etc.)
  2. All credit cards (credit card #, PIN, CVC # and/or security code, username/password, tele #, etc.)
  3. All email accounts (usernames, passwords, acct settings, tele #, etc.)
  4. All e-commerce site usernames, passwords, URLs, etc.
  5. Administrator passwords for all PCs, laptops, BIOS’, Router, DSL Modem, etc.
  6. Program or file passwords (i.e., Quicken, TrueCrypt files, other password-protected files, etc.)
  7. Software license info, CD keys, registration #’s, etc.

KeePass has fields for several of the key items (username, password, URL) followed by a free flow “Notes” section where you can put whatever information you desire (including silly notes like “How could you do this to me?”)

I’ve made sure that my ‘significant other’ has the password to KeePass and knows how to use it.

So……  now…… when I croak…… can I rest peacefully?  Knowing that I’ve provided important & necessary information to my ‘significant other’?

Naaaaaaaa.  Who cares?  I’m dead already!

American Politics… A Different Perspective

Normally I’d just put a link to an interesting article, but in this case I don’t think you can get to it unless you’re a subscriber.  So… I’ve taken the liberty to post a copy (pdf file) of the article — at least until I’m asked to remove it.  It’s an opinion piece from the Feb 18th issue of “The Economist.”

A lot of people, especially my mother who turned 91 on Feb 19th, think our country & political system is in a mess.  Well, I say — it’s ALL relative.  If you read (or watch) only the main stream U.S. news, then “Yes” — we certainly are ‘in a mess.’  I think it’s extremely refreshing to read an article from ‘the outside’ (outside the USA, that is), that expresses an opinion that what we’re experiencing today in America is “American Democracy at Work.”

Personally, I find this article extremely refreshing!

RE: Western Digital’s “Advanced Format” HDD Partitioning…

Finally… a new article that mentions Western Digital’s new 4KB hard drive sector (vs. previous 512 Byte sector) & it’s impact on Windows XP users that I discussed previously.

And… back to  the “lighter” side… here’s a funny article from “The Register.”  Wow… a guy that drives his ex-wive to meet her boyfriend (among other things)!  Only… in… America…  (good grief!)


UPDATE:  Ars Technica did an even more detailed article on this (“Why new hard disks might not be much fun for XP users”)

“The War Next Door” article…

High Country News article Charles Bowden on The War Next Door

This isn’t something I planned on writing about, nor referring to, but I found this article disturbing.  As an “Old Fart,” I’ve been observing our so-called “War on Drugs” (WOD) for over 40 years.  I must say… it doesn’t appear that we’ve made much, if any, progress over that time period.  I had primarily noticed that I hadn’t seen much news lately on the WOD (until I saw this article).

I don’t know… seems to me it’s time we try something else… no matter how ‘off the wall’ it is.

Anyway’s… Wikipedia has a nice write-up on the WOD here.  There’s even a “WOD Clock” website.  Amazing…

I don’t like Apple (the company) anymore…

I’ve seldom been an Apple user, but I always held both the company & Steve Jobs with utmost respect… until this past week.  I now consider Apple with the likes of every other greedy company gone awry.

Why, you might ask?

First is their filing of patent infringement lawsuits against HTC & Android phones (article 1; article 2; article 3).  Aw… gee… is Apple afraid they won’t be able to survive with some competition?

Next is the pressure Apple is applying to the music labels concerning Amazon MP3’s “Daily Deal” promotions.  Aw… gee… isn’t Apple satisfied with their previous & still current monopoly of online music?  Screw ’em!!!

No, I’m not naive.  I know many, many (TOO MANY) companies are filing patent infringement lawsuits on a daily or weekly basis.  Foolish me — I just thought Apple was ‘above’ this idiotic behavior.  I guess not.

I feel the same way about patents as I do about copyright — they should both be scrapped!  If more people would read up on the history, including a couple of the latest books — “Against Intellectual Monopoly(by Michele Boldrin & David K. Levine) and “The Gridlock Economy” (by Michael Heller) — they’d realize that all patents & copyrights do (among other things) is eliminate competition and stifle both innovation & creativity.  With the exception of possibly a couple extreme cases, patents (& copyrights) are NOT needed.  (And, oh, BTW – expanding patent law to cover software & business processes was a BIG MISTAKE!  Yet another means to stifle innovation.)

Will they ever go away or be modified?  Not unless the public gets involved.  There’s already way too many lawyers making way too much money on way too many patent & copyright disputes.  And, uh, oh yeah… who runs our government?  Lawyers, anyone???  Patent & copyright law is big business, so any modifications to this mess are going to be difficult and ugly.

Just my two cents worth…   (actually.. it’s probably only worth half-a-cent, if that much)

Are you scared yet? (of Cyberwarfare)

I mentioned & referenced the history of copyright in my previous post.  One thing that nearly always prevailed in the copyright wars of past was that it was the publishers/distributors/media companies/RIAA/MPAA that were always pushing for more regulation & enforcement, longer copyrights & stricter control of the medium (i.e., the Internet).

Take a look at this article @ Wired, “Cyberwar Hype Intended to Destroy the Open Internet“.  If Michael McConnell succeeds in scaring the government (as he’s apparently done in the past), we’ll now have both industry AND the government trying to “secure” the Internet.  After all… it’s for our own good…  ya know what I mean?

Anywho’s… it’s an interesting read.

Copyright Reform… are we losing the battle???

I don’t know, but from the copyright-related press I’ve been reading over the past few weeks, it appears to me that the ‘stars may be aligning’ for media companies (and in particular, RIAA & MPAA).

First is the leaked portion of the Anti-Counterfeit Trade Agreement (ACTA), which, among other things, urges participating governments to ‘crack down’ on copyright infringers (a.k.a., file sharing).

Then there’s the Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator (IPEC), Victoria A. Espinel, who’s requesting comments from the public as to how best stop ‘the public’ from file sharing & much more.

And finally, the report that the top official at the Dept of Commerce stated that the US Government’s policy of leaving the Internet alone is over, and that they would now cover issues that include copyright protection.

Isn’t that just great!  It’s taken over 300 years, but the publishers/media companies/distributors may finally get, once again, what they’ve always desired — complete control of all content (books, music, media/movies, etc), with government law and mandates to back them up.

I stumbled across an article at titled “The Surprising History of Copyright and The Promise of a Post-Copyright World” published in Oct, 2005, and also available here.  Not believing everything I read, I followed up on his references, in particular his first reference “Copyright and ‘The Exclusive Right’ of Authors” by Professor Lyman Ray Patterson, Pope Brock Professor of Law at the University of Georgia.  This essay was written in 1993, but is completely applicable to our current ‘copyright’ mayhem today.  It’s not a light read, but it completely backs up the history article above and provides considerably more insight as to how we got to where we are today.

Still not satisfied with just one article and a 17 yr old reference, I started reading Adrian Johns’ new book, “Piracy — The Intellectual Property Wars from Gutenberg to Gates.”  Wow… talk about depressing.  (Not the book!  It’s fascinating!)  What’s depressing is just how long these ‘copyright wars’ have been going on.  Over 300 years ago, there were plenty of opponents that fought against granting ‘property rights’ and monopolies to publishers, not to mention, quite a few extremely intelligent folks on the judiciary & in government positions.  How many opponents exist to fight ACTA & IPEC today?  And most importantly, it’s not just the media companies & distributors of content we must worry about, but also what our own government is doing or trying to do to copyright infringers!

Adrian Johns explains that piracy has just as much, if not more, history than intellectual property.  It has ALWAYS stood at the center of our attempts to reconcile creativity and commerce, and piracy has been an engine of social, technological, and intellectual innovations as often as it has been their adversary.

The ‘copyright’ situation today is just ‘yet another’ battle being played, proceeded in most recent times by battles over sheet music, pirate radio, home taping (reel-to-real units), cassette recorders, VHS recorders and MP3 players.  In each of these, media companies claimed ‘the sky is falling’, that they were losing millions or billions of dollars, and that their very livelihood was threatened.  The RIAA was formed in the early 50’s (home taping era) with an avowed antipiracy mission, which included lobbying for copyright and intervening in its own right to deter, prevent, and detect piracy.  From Johns’ book, it’s apparent that the RIAA was just as sneaky and underhanded back in the 50’s as they are today.  Ditto for the MPAA, which was formed about 20 yrs later.

I used to think in terms of “Copyright Reform.”  Not any more… especially after reading in detail about it’s ugly history.  The only way we can make things right is to end copyright, once and for all.  But it’s not going to happen unless “we” — yeah… the 100’s of millions of alleged ‘infringers’ — get involved.  (or at least interested in what’s happening!)

BTW, Adrian Johns book on “Piracy” is fascinating!  Unfortunately, it’s over 500 pages in length and it’s going to take some time to finish.

And finally, another article worth reading at titled “What We Lose When We Embrace Copyright.”