29 January 2012

Road Video of the Week - Day Late Edition

Pickings have been slim this week. However, one of my favorite road videographers released a new video this week. While I'm not normally a fan of "Highway Tour" type videos, this one is executed well enough.

It helps that it was made by the same person who made The Most Awesome Road Vid Ever (TM).

I didn't know I-229 was so substandard, but that double-decked viaduct kicks ass.

Anyway, enjoy eluko79's Highway Tour of St. Joseph, MO.

20 January 2012

Road Video of the Week - Inaugural Edition

I guess I should post something road-related on here, huh? With all the activist and political posts here, I'm worried I might scare off both of my readers.

So, one of my passions is road videos. However, since I don't get to go out as often as I like with gas prices being so high, and since I don't have a video camera of my own, I watch the videos of others.

Sadly, it's been slim pickings on YouTube this week as far as road videos go. Perhaps I'm not subscribed to enough people. So, let's go with one of the few Interstate vids on my feed this week, from a YouTube user going by cochrab.

Nice video. The sign graphics in the vid are a little low-quality, though that comes from using SignMaker rather than creating images by hand in PS or Gimp or something. (SignMaker really needs an upgrade...) Still, the use of Nirvana as the backing music is extremely fitting for a vid of the Interstates in Seattle. The vid being at actual speed as opposed to timelapse is a nice change of pace that can rarely be executed well. It's pulled off well here, though.

So, here's the deal. I want to make this a weekly feature, most likely posted on Thursday nights or Friday mornings. Want your vid to have a shot of being Road Video of the Week? You can shoot me a link here in the comments to wherever you host them, be it YouTube or someplace else. Both my readers may not seem like a huge bump in traffic, and neither would my 60 Twitter followers, but still... any increase in traffic is a good thing, right?

(As an aside, I've widened the blog slightly to better accommodate YouTube vids. Sadly, that means those viewing this on 800x600 or lower resolutions won't be able to see across without scrolling horizontally. The price of progress, I'm afraid...)

Collateral Damage: A Specialty of the Feds

As we no doubt all know by now, the Feds took down Megaupload. Now, this may mean that a source of widespread "piracy" has gone dark, and the Feds' paymasters at the RIAA and MPAA are likely rejoicing a little about that.

(Just a little, though, considering they brought the fury of Anonymous upon themselves.)

The thing is, Megaupload had legitimate uses as well, uses that a lot of people are reconsidering. One such thing? Offsite backups. Yes, the promise of the vaunted Cloud. Whether it's a library of personal music rips or a priceless digital copy of precious photos, those were taken down along with the pirated copies of crappy movies, albums and porn vids.

Of course, being the highly paranoid type of girl I am, I keep onsite backups. I even have a copy of the contents of my first computer on a CD-ROM somewhere (which shows that machine's age.) I didn't trust the "cloud" from Day One because I was worried something like this would happen.

Now, it has. I feel like the smart one, but the fact is, many people lost a lot of stuff. One would hope that the Feds would show some compassion and try to make these people whole, but... I highly doubt that will happen. The more likely result is that the drives of the servers housing this info will likely rot in some evidence locker until the next Ice Age.

...And in the end, this is the M.O. of U.S. government agencies as of late, from the FBI to the military. To hell with the consequences, so long as the primary target is taken out.

I cannot stand for this. Something must give.

17 January 2012

The posts on this site have all been blacked out in protest of SOPA and PIPA. If those two bills pass, it would only be a matter of time before this site is like this permanently.


Make a difference. If you're in the United States, call your Congressman or Senator and urge them to oppose these bills and take a stand against Internet censorship.

If you're abroad, get in touch with the U.S. State Department and express your outrage that a law being considered in this country could affect your websites.

Google currently has a petition going on at http://www.google.com/takeaction/ - take a moment to sign it.

There is an additional petition going on at http://americancensorship.org/ - if you're going to sign the first one, sign this one too.

If you are on Twitter, Facebook or Google+, you can take a moment to change your userpic at http://www.blackoutsopa.org/ and show your support of killing these bills.

Take a stand. Make your voice heard. Protect Internet freedom as well as your own.


SOPA, PIPA, and why you should oppose these things.

The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), also known as House Bill 3261 or H.R. 3261, is a bill that was introduced in the United States House of Representatives on October 26, 2011, by House Judiciary Committee Chair Representative Lamar Smith (R-TX) and a bipartisan group of 12 initial co-sponsors. The bill, if made law, would expand the ability of U.S. law enforcement and copyright holders to fight online trafficking in copyrighted intellectual property and counterfeit goods. Presented to the House Judiciary Committee, it builds on the similar PRO-IP Act of 2008 and the corresponding Senate bill, the PROTECT IP Act.

The originally proposed bill would allow the U.S. Department of Justice, as well as copyright holders, to seek court orders against websites accused of enabling or facilitating copyright infringement. Depending on who makes the request, the court order could include barring online advertising networks and payment facilitators from doing business with the allegedly infringing website, barring search engines from linking to such sites, and requiring Internet service providers to block access to such sites. The bill would make unauthorized streaming of copyrighted content a crime, with a maximum penalty of five years in prison for ten such infringements within six months. The bill also gives immunity to Internet services that voluntarily take action against websites dedicated to infringement, while making liable for damages any copyright holder who knowingly misrepresents that a website is dedicated to infringement.

(Taken from Wikipedia, which itself will be "blacked out" on 18 January 2012 in opposition to SOPA and PIPA)

Sounds like a good thing, right? Online piracy, after all, is a Very Bad Thing, right? Well, this bill is equivalent to stomping on a roach with a nuclear bomb - not only overkill, but ultimately ineffective. Coders are already hard at work creating software to circumvent the teeth of this law, DNS blocking - not for piracy's sake, but to protect legitimate Internet use that this bill would curb if signed into law. In the end, all it will do is censor the Internet. China, some Arab countries and Australia, among others already do this. If SOPA/PIPA pass, you can add the good old U.S.A. to that list!

Roadgeeks, planning on putting up that video of the next leg of your trip? Clinched another Interstate and want the world to see?

Not so fast.

You're likely using copyrighted music in that video. Kiss the vid goodbye and expect possible prosecution. Not in the United States? It doesn't matter. Now, some of the provisions are okay in theory such as making copyright holders liable for damages if they misrepresent the fact that a site's dedicated to infringement, but as a whole, the bill is just too toxic to live.

As of yesterday, Congress shelved SOPA indefinitely, meaning it would require a supermajority for it to be considered again - the same supermajority required to override a presidential veto, I'll add. (Never thought I'd say this as a die-hard liberal, but thank you Eric Cantor for shelving it!) PIPA, its sibling in intent, still lives on in the U.S. Senate. The White House has called both bills dead on arrival as written and assured they'd be vetoed if they hit the President's desk.

That's not good enough, though. The thought that these bills could be revived once public furor dies down is very disconcerting. Many across the Internet have been letting Congress know exactly what they think of these bills. As long as the possibility exists that these bills could be revived, however, we are not safe. The Internet as we know it is not safe.

The Internet is striking back on January 18th. Many sites, including some major ones such as Reddit and Wikipedia will be "blacking out" on that day in protest of the bill and to show what could become permanent if bills like these become law.

I'm imploring that anyone that cares about the freedom an open Internet represents also pledge to black out their sites on January 18th... but don't stop there. Black out your social media as well. Do you blog, Tweet or use Facebook? Pledge not to on January 18th. Look up the list of corporate entities that still support the bill and deny them your business on that day, and tell them just WHY you're denying them said business. Don't buy any albums or see any movies either -the RIAA and MPAA not only support these bills, but helped to write them! Speak with your voice AND your wallet!

Once January 18th has come and gone, though, it will not be time to let up the pressure or claim victory. We the people must continue to make our voices heard until Congress in no uncertain terms gives up on trying to censor the Internet!