Category Archives: Random

SOPA/PIPA – What is everyone talking about?

I’m usually not “in the know” when it comes to current events, whether it’s regarding international injustices or who-did-what-with-who-this-weekend.  In general, I’m just not as up-to-date as you are on what’s going on.  I’m very left out at the water-cooler.  I skip sporting events and watch the highlights.  I would be a terrible disappointment if I were a faraway visitor to an 18th century Jane Austen household.  And TMZ would never ever hire me.  Needless to say, the smartphone is an amazing field-leveling tool for me.

Instead of keeping up with daily headlines, I research topics one at a time, in depth, all in one sitting.  What can I say, my brain is single-threaded and pretty much always absorbed in its own rich and important stuff.  I assume, right or wrong, that if a piece of news is relevant to me it will reach me somehow (thank you democracy and Web-2.0).  Once I’ve heard a buzzword enough times (Darfur, Prop8, Balloon Boy), I’ll look into it.

Basically, tell me what was trending yesterday so I can catch up.


This brings us to today’s research topic, which is old news for you but new news for me: the SOPA/PIPA legislations.  Here’s what I found.

The Terms:
SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) is the House bill, PIPA (Protect IP Act) is the Senate bill.  The impetus of these is to crack down on foreign websites shamelessly (or even shamefully) sharing American copywritten material.  The sites in question are outside the jurisdiction of U.S. courts.

The Players:

  • Major supporters include the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) and production studios like NBC Universal.
  • Major opponents include large internet properties such as Wikipedia, Google, and Facebook.  And everyone who uses one of these, it seems like.  A worldwide blackout has been organized for Wednesday, July 18th (now), in which over 7000 sites including Wikipedia will shut down for 24 hours.
  • Earlier this week, the Obama administration also announced its opposition to SOPA/PIPA via the White House blog.

The Stakes:
(Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer, and I haven’t read the actual bills.  This is based entirely on shady internet research and hearsay.)

  • While U.S. websites are technically unaffected, the onus of screening and blocking the offending foreign material falls on U.S. companies.  There are provisions to enjoin search providers to de-index offending sites and for ISPs and DNS servers to block them.  Opponents claim that this is not only onerous, but also fundamentally interferes with the basic nature of the internet.
  • If ISPs think a site is “guilty”, they can blacklist it in good faith without a court order.  Some opponents make comparisons to foreign regimes who censor the internet liberally and without process.  Slippery slope argument.
  •  One provision allows for blocking sites (US or foreign) from providing information on how to get around SOPA/PIPA blacklists.  Not only is this burdensome (think about Facebook, Twitter, or Blogger having to scrub user-generated content for this), but it also raises concerns about censorship and freedom of speech.
  • Rupert Murdoch and other players in Hollywood and TV urgently express the need to prevent a repeat of music-industry-circa-2000.  Entertainment makes up 3.5% of the GDP, employs 2.2 million people, and even if it didn’t – intellectual property should still be protected and artists should get paid.

The Editorial:
I hear you Rupert, I really do, but there has to be a better way.  Trying to police the content of the internet like this is unwieldy and unscalable, like herding more and more kittens and parakeets – together.  Frankly, even if this passes, it’s not going to work to end piracy.  There are always workarounds, new websites, new workarounds, new websites.  “The more you tighten your grip, the more star systems will slip through your fingers.

If you want to learn more about the protest and how you can be involved, check out Google’s SOPA/PIPA page.

SO, how does the Wikipedia blackout work?

Like I said, I am not a lawyer and I haven’t read the bills actual.  But I may just be a software developer after all.  I had always assumed (that is, for the last 3 hours when I knew about it) that the wikipedia blackout would be implemented by an url redirect.  I thought the “code review” would be a couple of guys fidgeting with a config setting in an ops dungeon somewhere (sexist imagery).

Just to be sure, I refreshed my wikipedia window at 9:01 PST and noticed in the address bar that there was no redirect, and that the original page had even rendered for a few seconds. A little bit of source code snooping and firebug magic reveals that there’s a script running that adds an overlay div (mw-sopaoverlay) and adds a display:none style to all the content blocks.  So if you yourself add “display:none” to ms-sopaoverlay and then remove the display:none style from #mw-page-base, #mw-head-base, #content, #mw-head, #mw-panel, #footer – you could have this!

A beacon of light in a sea of darkness. 

Why am I on Mackenzie Rosman’s page?  Today I was also investigating the breaking news of Justin Timberlake’s engagement.  That took me to Jessica Biel, which took me to Seventh Heaven, which got me here.  I could never make it at TMZ.

If I really were a real developer I might have written a little browser addon (GiveMeMyWiki!) that would have disabled script on Wikipedia and taken care of all of this for you…

…or you can do what I do and use Wikipedia mobile for all your bar-bet-settling needs over the next 22 hours:


Today I thought about writing a manifesto entitled “Why I Blog”, or enthralling you with the saga of my adult cooking adventures (adventures as an adult), or finally tackling the tutorial “How to make an edible Christmas tree”.  Or maybe even attempting a sincere and worthy tribute to MLK day.

But with bloguary post-frequency already declining in its early middle age, I realized I’m gonna have to dial down on the ambition and write what I know…

************** Cue: Unambitious Topic of the Day *****************

If ever there were a specific piece of furniture that I knew by name, daydreamed about, and really wished I had, it would have to be this one:

The IKEA Expedit 4×4.  Black-brown preferred (by me), but also available in white and birch effect.

I admire this bookshelf/room-divider/all-around-all-star as much as a person can possibly admire a few slabs of particleboard that they put together themself.  Possibly even more than that.  Seriously.  Whenever I see this in a store window I do a double take, everything else fades out, and I think “Oh yes, she will be mine.”  Schwing!

The EXPEDIT’s sleek and simple design looks artsy and classy, and instantly makes a place look organized and well decorated.  Even though it’s holding all your dorm-room-looking stuff!  Insta-loft!  There’s some sort of fractal voodoo going on too, because the latent mathlete in you gets transfixed by the symmetry and all of the smaller squares you can find inside the bigger one.

Beautiful!  (Source)

We already own the 2×4 Expedit, which is kinda cool but not extra-super-pimp, and you can even see some of these principles at work in this lamer version:

Not bad, considering it’s only 2×4 and not black-brown

Let’s take a closer look… 

Definitely not bad, considering the ridiculous stuff
it has to compensate for

As awesome as it is (read: stylish and practical), the 4×4 Expedit is just $179 brand new at IKEA, and also widely available on craigslist if you live in the right town – score!  Having a wall big enough for this with no interfering lightswitches or outlets may just have to be another criteria for my dream house of the future.

A Portrait of My Dream House (words and pictures)

Let me tell you a little bit about where I hope to live one day.

First of all, this is a single family home with no upstairs/downstairs/sideways neighbors – allowing me the all-important luxuries of exercising plyometric-ly, belting pop songs, and watching epic action flicks at all hours.

I’m allotting an extra room for a home office.  If N>3, I’d also like an extra extra room for a second office/play room/living room…

I was going to paint you a drool-worthy word picture of my dream house, describing its luscious laundry room, delectable dishwasher, wondrous one car garage with bike space, satisfying cement backyard with no lawn (it would die/take over), and wacky(?) walk-in closet.  But then I realized that the only reason I don’t already have a place like this is because, more than all that, I want to live here:

Click to enlarge

If you’re a CSI, you can tell from the glare in the bottom right that someone was playing the Battlestar MMO.  And you might even see the face reflected in the computer screen reflected on the board.

BTW, my house needs to have an entire wall made of whiteboard.

The first draft of this picture was missing the sunlight and the short commute, and so was suspiciously similar to where I used to live in Seattle.  On the off chance that kids occupy this home, just imagine adding a swingset to the park and a karate studio next to the indoor pool (and no, even then I won’t want a lawn).

To recap:

  1. Sonic isolation from neighbors (for their own sakes)
  2. Laundry room
  3. NO lawn
  4. Pizza Joint (Thin Crust)
  5. Park with Awesome Summer Festivals
  6. Skirt Weather!

It’s good to have goals.  Onwards!

Holiday Highlights

My family and friends have been visited, the new year has been wrung (rung?) in, and it’s high time to move onward and upward.  But before we do that, here are some of the highlights from the holiday season:

1. Die Hard Marathon
Die Hard, Die Hard 2, and Die Hard: With a Vengeance
In honor of Christmas, we watched these timeless holiday classics.  Informal polls show that people think Die Hard: With a Vengeance is the best, but I have to favor the original for character development, suspense, and villain scariness.

2. Edible Christmas Tree
Look!  I made a completely edible tree, in the loosest most post-apocalyptic sense of the word “edible”.

I’m assuming you’re willing to eat floss, toothpicks, and ornament hooks during the zombie seige.  And that protein and fiber are of no use to you.

3. Jack Sparrow

It’s hard to believe that a mere 2 days ago, this video wasn’t in my life.  I haven’t been able to get over it, what with that big sexy hook and the subtle but unapologetic guyliner.

How could the universe have kept this from me all this time?

4. Lime brunch

Breakfast biscuits, bottomless mimosas, and insanely loud dance music all before noon?  Done, done, and done.  Check it out at LIME – 2247 Market St., SF, CA.

Happy New Year everyone!

All I Want for Christmas

Dear Santa,

I know Christmas is not for 363 days, but here are the things that I wish there were:

- Light speed bullet trains
- Molecular transporters
- Incredibly realistic immersive virtual environments accessible from anywhere, complete with tactile, olfactory, and gustatory feedback
- A way to condense the great plains and mountains majesty to make things closer
- Portkeys and/or apparate/disapparate spells
- Responsible time travel

Happy travels everyone!

success: what it really looks like

Success: what people think it looks like what it really looks like

* Demetri Martin, "This is a Book"

Reassured that I must just be in the squiggly part, not in the left-side-non-starter-zone. #onmyway! #blogpoststhatshouldbetweets

Sidebar: While researching the photo credit for this drawing, I was thrilled to learn that it’s from This is a Book by Demetri Martin (omg he has a book?!? i never know anything)Comedian extraordinaire with a unique and dorkable sense of humor and a pretty cool back-story (genre: white collar suburban defiance and triumph. when office space meets eight mile).  When this blog blows up and the peoples of the world recognize my importance I will find him and fan-girl it up, or maybe play it cool and score a blog-erview.  Don’t be me (aka in the dark about many awesome things): watch Demetri Martin. Person. available on Netflix streaming.  Watch it now!