Monday, January 30, 2012

Twitter Censorship: Choosing Half a Loaf?

"Twitter Switches on the Censors"
Alyssa Danigelis, Tech News, Discovery News (January 28, 2011)

"The social networking site Twitter finds itself between a rock and a hard place in foreign countries where speech isn't always free. On the one hand, Twitter's leadership doesn't want the whole site banned in those countries. On the other, what's a dictatorial government going to do with a social networking site that helps stir up civil dissent? The answer: Ban it. But that's not good for business.

"So the site that helped fuel the Arab Spring last year and briefly brought Iranian protests to the fore in 2009 just announced that it's going to start dancing with the censorship devil. In the past, if a tweet had to be removed from the site for legal reasons -- usually copyright infringement -- it was taken down universally. Now, the tweet can be taken down from one country and still seen by tweeters in other countries...."

'It can't happen here?' America has a pretty good track record for allowing citizens to voice opinions. McCarthyism and the heyday of political correctness are, in the Lemming's opinion, not examples of 'business as usual' in this country.

On the other hand, Congress almost took control of the comics industry. That was the early 1950s:'Public morals' might still work as an excuse to muzzle dissent: although the Lemming thinks that sort of censorship would now be packaged as 'saving the children.' We had a close call about a year ago, when controlling search engine results was marketed as "search neutrality."

This year, the line was "piracy." So far, Congress seems to have decided to wait until folks forget about SOPA and PIPA. Maybe the Lemming's being unfair.

"Different Ideas About ... Freedom"

"...'As we continue to grow internationally, we will enter countries that have different ideas about the contours of freedom of expression. Some differ so much from our ideas that we will not be able to exist there,' the announcement from Twitter says.

"Any time a tweet is censored, the company says it will notify the person who tweeted it and describe the removal on a Twitter-specific section of"

There's a joke that was old when the Soviet Union turned into Russia, and a lot of smaller countries. Several, actually, but this one almost applies to Twitter and censorship:

An American and a Russian were comparing their countries. The American said his was better, because Americans have freedom of speech. "I could stand in front of the White House and say, 'the president is stupid!' "

"Ha," replied the Russian. "We also have freedom of speech! I could stand in front of the Kremlin and say, 'the American president is stupid!' "

Like Twitter said, some countries "have different ideas about ... freedom of expression."

Half a Loaf?

Ideally, no country's government would try to keep its citizens from voicing their opinions. But we don't live in an ideal world.

The Lemming thinks that the "half a loaf is better than none" principle applies here. Twitter is probably taking a sensible approach: allowing people in tightly-managed countries access to some service.

In the Lemming's opinion, folks are pretty good at communicating: even when their 'betters' don't want them to. 'Songs of the underground railroad' and spirituals may or may not have been a case in point. The lack of written evidence may be connected to the reason that "composer of jazz" is pretty close to being an oxymoron. And that's another topic.


Somewhere, some time since folks started working the bugs out using fire without killing themselves, there may have been a culture without music. If so, the Lemming suspects that they didn't last long: and left precious few traces. But that's just an opinion.

A fair number of folks have valued songs for over two dozen centuries:

"Among all men on the earth bards have a share of honor and reverence, because the muse has taught them songs and loves the race of bards."
Homer, The Odyssey (Greek epic poet (800 BC - 700 BC))

"Of all noises, I think music is the least disagreeable."
Samuel Johnson (English author, critic, & lexicographer (1709 - 1784))

Not everybody sees music quite the same way:

"The whole problem can be stated quite simply by asking, 'Is there a meaning to music?' My answer would be, 'Yes.' And 'Can you state in so many words what the meaning is?' My answer to that would be, 'No.' "
Aaron Copland (US composer (1900 - 1990))

"A musicologist is a man who can read music but can't hear it."
Sir Thomas Beecham (English conductor (1879 - 1961))

Wrenching himself back on-topic, the Lemming offers:

Freedom and Other Inconveniences

"The basis of a democratic state is liberty."
Aristotle, Politics (Greek critic, philosopher, physicist, & zoologist (384 BC - 322 BC))

"Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."
Benjamin Franklin, Historical Review of Pennsylvania, 1759 (US author, diplomat, inventor, physicist, politician, & printer (1706 - 1790))

"I would rather be exposed to the inconveniences attending too much liberty than to those attending too small a degree of it."
Thomas Jefferson, to Archibald Stuart, 1791 (3rd president of US (1743 - 1826))

"If you want to be free, there is but one way; it is to guarantee an equally full measure of liberty to all your neighbors. There is no other."
Carl Schurz (US (German-born) general & politician (1829 - 1906))

"An adventure is only an inconvenience rightly considered. An inconvenience is an adventure wrongly considered."
G. K. Chesterton (English author & mystery novelist (1874 - 1936))

"The First Amendment is often inconvenient. But that is besides the point. Inconvenience does not absolve the government of its obligation to tolerate speech."
Justice Anthony Kennedy, in 91-155 (US jurist (1936 - ))

And that's yet another topic.

Related posts:

Friday, January 27, 2012

The Lemming Meets Cleverbot


"...PLEASE NOTE: Cleverbot learns from real people - things it says may seem inappropriate - use with discretion, and at YOUR OWN RISK...."

"...PARENTAL ADVICE: Visitors never talk to a human, however convincing it is - the AI knows many topics - use ONLY WITH OVERSIGHT...."

Cleverbot is an intriguing artificial intelligence that can converse with people. Here's how the Lemming's dialog with Cleverbot went:

"User: Okay, so what is Cleverbot, and what does it do?

"Cleverbot: I don't really know.

"User: Right. I suppose self-awareness is a bit much to ask at this stage.

"Cleverbot: So you don't know who aleister crowley is?

"User: I don't know aleister crowley, but I know who he is. That was a non sequitur.

"Cleverbot: So you are using me?

"User: In one sense of the word, yes.

"Cleverbot: So your christian?

"User: With a capital 'C,' yes.

"Cleverbot: Why a capital y?

"User: That's the conventional spelling. It has to do with proper names.

"Cleverbot: Really?

"User: Really.

"Cleverbot: Ookaayy.

"User: Goodbye.

"Cleverbot: Adios."

In the Lemming's opinion, it's going to be a long time before we see something like the robots and sentient computers of science fiction. HAL 9000 or C3PO, Cleverbot is not.

On the other hand, the Lemming has had conversations with real human beings that that made about as much sense. And that's another topic.

Slightly-related posts:

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Oops: pcAnywhere, Symantec's 2006 Norton Antivirus Hacked

"Norton users warned: Disable pcAnywhere"
New Zealand Herald (January 27, 2012) (it's 'tomorrow' there: International Dateline)

"Symantec is recommending that users of its pcAnywhere software disable the product following the theft of source code from the US computer security firm.

" 'At this time, Symantec recommends disabling the product until Symantec releases a final set of software updates that resolve currently known vulnerability risks,' the Mountain View, California-based company said.

"Symantec, in a technical white paper posted on the firm's website, said the vulnerability to pcAnywhere, which allows for remote PC to PC connections, is the result of a 2006 theft of source code by hackers.

" 'We believe that source code for the 2006-era versions of the following products was exposed: Norton Antivirus Corporate Edition; Norton Internet Security; Norton SystemWorks (Norton Utilities and Norton GoBack); and pcAnywhere,' Symantec said...."

That's no typo: It's the 2006 versions of Symantec products that got hacked. Apparently Symantec learned about the lapse in security recently. And - incredibly - didn't acknowledge that it was a major issue until very recently.

After last year's multiple high-profile hacks of commercial accounts, you'd think Symantec would have been a bit less diffident about telling customers what was going on.

Maybe they didn't realize how serious the problem was, themselves.

Hacks Happen

"Don't use our software, security firm Symantec warns customers" (January 26, 2012)

"Symantec is advising customers to disable one of its products, after hackers revealed the theft of the underlying code powering the software earlier this month.

The security firm said the theft occurred in 2006, compromising 2006-era version of Norton Antivirus Corporate Edition, Norton Internet Security and Norton SystemWorks. More important was the theft of the code behind the remote access package pcAnywhere, which could allow malicious users to gain complete access to systems and data, experts warn.

" 'Symantec recommends disabling the product until Symantec releases a final set of software updates that resolve currently known vulnerability risks,' the company wrote in an online statement about the hacking...."

Here's how the Lemming sees this news:
Last year, Sony tried - and failed - to placate customers by telling them that a little hack had happened, and that Sony would tell their customers if it was important.

25,000,000 compromised accounts later, Sony started acknowledging that maybe customers might care about their credit card information being in the hands of whoever had broken into Sony's databases. Not, in the Lemming's opinion, smart customer relations.

Back to that article:


"...The new advice is a marked change from earlier comments from the company, which at first downplayed the significance of the hacking, said Ira Victor, a security expert with Data Clone Labs in Nevada.

" 'At first, Symantec said that customers do not need to take additional actions in light of the breach,' Victor told 'Now Symantec has changed their tune.'

"Indeed, experts queried by in January labeled the incident more of a business risk than anything else -- one that may lead to a loss of confidence in Symantec and potential loss of market share for the publicly traded firm...."

"Business risk?" "Loss of confidence?" Yeah, the Lemming sees how that might be the case. Maybe Symantec's techs really thought that compromised source code for antivirus software wasn't reason for concern. Maybe they even had good reason for thinking so.

Or, maybe we're looking at a company that made a major boo-boo, and whose executives are desperately hoping that no major catastrophe happens. Or has already happened.

Right now, it looks like a best-case situation for Symantec is that they've got a really big public relations problem on their hands. More seriously, Symantec's initial 'don't worry' advice turning to 'unplug our product' suggests that someone goofed: big time.

Back to that article, again:

"Embarrassing?" It Could Get Worse

"...'The headline is very embarrassing to Symantec,' Anup Ghosh, founder and CEO of Virginian security firm Invincea, told at the time. 'But this has now become the normal in securities. Every single corporation is susceptible to threats.'...

"...'It's possible that Symantec "hardcoded" encryption keys into PCAnywhere,' [security expert with Data Clone Labs in Nevada, Ira] Victor said. 'If true, that would be a serious security mis-step.'..."
( ends with a four-point list from Ira Victor. It sounds like pretty good advice. Here's a summary:
  1. Don't use a single company's "suite" of security protection
    • Use 'best of' from several
  2. Remote access security should be more than 'username and password'
  3. Don't run computers in "Administrator" mode
  4. Application "whitelisting" is a good idea
Bear in mind that the Lemming isn't a 'security expert.' Please: do your own research.

And remember that "password" isn't a good password.

Related posts:

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Javits Center: Green, Then Gone

"Let's Raze Javits Center (but First Finish Renovations)"
Robin Pogrebin, (Thomas Kaplan contributed reporting) Art & Design, The New York Times (January 22, 2012)

"Part of architecture’s appeal, at least to architects, is posterity: the notion that what they design will last. So it came as something of a shock to the architect Bruce S. Fowle this month when he learned that a building he was renovating is already on death row.

"In his State of the State address on Jan. 4 Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced plans to demolish the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, which Mr. Fowle has been working to repair and redesign for the past six years.

" 'The waste of creative energy, money and material that would result in its being torn down is painful to think about,' Mr. Fowle said during a walk through the center last week. 'When you’re worrying about every detail - trying to do the best you can to make something that represents the city - it’s like having the rug pulled out from under you.'..."

For every Parthenon that's built, there's a lot of buildings that get built for a reason, get used, and get torn down to make way for something else. looks like the Javits Center is in the latter category.

Too Small

"...Mr. Cuomo proposes replacing the Javits Center with private redevelopment that would include housing, hotels and museums, and selling or leasing the state-owned land to developers...."

"...'The day it opened it was outdated and already behind schedule,' he said in an interview with editors and writers for The New York Times last week, 'and other states had built larger facilities.'

"The Javits Center had been considered ripe for renovation almost since it opened in 1986 because it was too small for large trade shows and conventions, and many considered the dark-glass behemoth as an eyesore blocking views of the Hudson River.'..."
(The New York Times)

That 'eyesore' thing isn't a particularly good reason to tear down a building. If the Lemming's memory serves, folks were none-too-impressed with the Eiffel Tower. It was considered an eyesore when it was a tourist attraction at the 1889 Exposition Universelle. Which, despite its name, featured only exhibits from Earth. And that's another topic.

The point is, the Eiffel Tower went from eyesore to icon, and is one of those things you see on advertisements for French tourism. More topics.

A convention center that's not big enough to hold conventions? That's a problem.

Ideas: Good; Not-So-Good; and Green

The article says that government types got the idea to expand the Javits Center (good idea); and "hired a star architecture team" in 2005 to get the job done (not-so-good idea).

Maybe the Lemming's biased, but getting a "star architecture team" seems to make about as much sense as having a team of quarterbacks, or a movie with an 'all-star cast,' directed by the stars. The results could be entertaining: but this is architecture, not a glitteropolis production.

The "star architects" came up with an idea that would only cost about $1,500,000,000. That was in 2006. Their proposal would have been an improvement. Among other things, the available convention floorspace would have gone from under 800,000 square feet to over 1,0000,000,000.

Three governors and a reality check later, the project's cost was projected at around $3,000,000,000. And the project was scrapped.

Sort of. $190,000,000 got spent on the remake that's still going on, with another $150,000,000 to go before it's (supposed to be) completed in 2014.

Maybe it was money well-spent. Swapping out the building's dark glass for a clear variety, and adding a 'green' roof is supposed to boot energy efficiency by 25%. Maybe that's worth the $340,000,000-plus dollars spent, maybe not. The article doesn't say.

Considering that the Javits remake is slated for demolition after it's finished: the efficiency boost will have to save a whole lot of cash to be worthwhile.

"Not Wasted"

"...The state says these efforts have not been wasted, that they will be an important stopgap measure pending completion of a convention space in Queens...."
(The New York Times)

Part of that makes sense, to the Lemming.

Since the existing Javits Center was too small for today's conventions, and since conventions and trade shows are important economically: it made sense to expand the Javits Center. It would probably have made sense to upgrade the windows and add insulation while they were at it.

But a King-Kong-size, all-star, lalapaloozas of a green flapdoodle? Maybe not the best way to spend taxpayers' money.

Of course, the Lemming doesn't have enough information to have a sound opinion about the Javits remake's cost-effectiveness. And, not living anywhere near New York state, is a sort of backseat driver when it comes to offering advice.

Still: $340,000,000?!

Sort-of-related posts:

Monday, January 23, 2012

Planets: Rocky, Smaller than Earth, Three of Them

"Smallest Alien Planets, Real-Life 'Tatooines' Highlight Huge Week of Exoplanet Finds"
Denise Chow, (January 12, 2012)

"The ongoing hunt for planets beyond our solar system turned up some big results this week.

"One team of researchers found the three smallest alien planets yet detected, and another group announced two new worlds orbiting double-star systems — the real-life incarnations of the fictional planet Tatooine from 'Star Wars.' Further, yet another study determined that our Milky Way galaxy likely harbors at least 160 billion exoplanets.

"The smallest known exoplanets orbit a single star, called KOI-961, which is located about 120 light-years away. The smallest world in the three-planet system is roughly the size of Mars, researchers said...."

First off, about that "Tatoonine" thing. Kepler-35 b and Kepler-34 b each orbit double stars: sort of like Luke Skywalker's home in "Star Wars," except Kepler 35 b is the size of Saturn, and neither are particularly hospitable for life-as-we-know-it. Which the "Star Wars" Tatooine was, by comparison.

That said, this month's news about exoplanets - planets that orbit another star - makes it more likely that there's life elsewhere in the universe. Or less unlikely, anyway.

That's because the three new worlds mentioned are - probably - small and rocky. Like Earth. It's starting to look like planets more-or-less like Earth may be fairly common. Or not all that uncommon, anyway.

The three featured planets orbit KOI-961. For now, they're called KOI-961.01, KOI-961.02, and KOI-961.03. They're between the size of Mars and Earth, almost certainly rocky worlds, and orbit a star that's only about 70% wider than Jupiter.

"...'It's actually more similar to Jupiter and its moons in scale than any other planetary system,' [California Institute of Technology's John] Johnson said in a statement. 'The discovery is further proof of the diversity of planetary systems in our galaxy.'..."

Exciting times.

Related posts:More in this blog:

Friday, January 20, 2012

That's No Carp! That's a TENCH!

"Tench Information"
Fish Farm UK
("Home of Staffordshire 'Supa' Carp")

"The Tench or Doctor Fish (Tinca tinca) is a freshwater and brackish water fish of the cyprinid family found throughout Eurasia from Western Europe into Asia. It normally inhabits slow-moving freshwater habitats, particularly lakes and lowland rivers.

"The Tench is most often found in still waters with a clay or muddy substrate and abundant vegetation. This species is rare in clear waters across stony ground and is absent altogether from fast-flowing streams. It tolerates water with a low oxygen concentration, even being found in waters where Carp cannot survive. Tench feed mostly at night on algae and benthic invertebrates of various kinds that they root up from the bottom.

"Breeding takes place in shallow water usually among aquatic plants where the sticky green eggs can be deposited. Spawning usually occurs in summer and as many as three hundred thousand eggs may be produced. Growth is rapid and fish may reach a weight of 0.11 kg (0.25lb) within the first year.

"Tench have a stocky, carp-like shape, olive-green skin, darker above and almost golden below. The caudal fin is square in shape. The other fins are distinctly rounded in shape. The mouth is rather narrow and provided at each corner with a very small barbel...."

The tench isn't likely to be in the news. This unassuming fish doesn't shoot members of Congress, or occupy Wall Street. Not that any fish are likely to do that sort of thing.

It isn't endangered.

The tench isn't even particularly pushy. Which, applying the "nice guys finish last" principle, should have doomed it to extinction.

So why is this humble fish so successful?

It's durable.

The tench isn't one of your delicate critters. It will survive conditions that would kill a carp. And that's saying something.

Heat, Cold, Salt, and the Tenacious Tench

...Tench can survive water temperatures as high as 30 to 35°C [86° to 95° in Fahreneheit], oxygen concentrations less than 1 ppm, and salinities up to 12 mg/1. Although tench from northern Europe can apparently withstand temperatures close to freezing, California tench, being descended from south European populations, may not be able to withstand such low temperature. The optimum temperatures for growth seem to be between 12 and 30°C.

"Tench are rather sluggish in their movements and are not very aggressive towards other tench or towards other fishes (Sterba, 1959), earning them the reputation of 'Physician of Fishes' (Walton, 1653)..."
("Inland Fishes of California," Peter B. Moyle, (2002), via Google Books and University of California Press, page 210)

Tench: a California fish? This European import is in North America, too. So, is it an "invasive species?" That's a good question: but apparently, not. Not in the 'beware the tench' sense, anyway.

Doctor Fish Gets Around

"Tinca tinca"
USGS (United States Geological Service)

"...Distinguishing characteristics were given in Berg (1949), Scott and Crossman (1973), Muus and Dahlstrom (1978), Wheeler (1978), and Page and Burr (1991). Identification keys that include this species and photographs or illustrations were provided in a few published state fish books (e.g., Whitworth et al. 1968; Moyle 2002; Wydoski and Whitney 1979; Woodling 1985; Bond 1994). A name used in some of the early literature for this species is Tinca vulgaris.

"Size: 84 cm.

"Native Range: Most of Europe, including the British Isles, and parts of western Asia (Berg 1949)...."

"...States in which this species has been stocked or reported include Alabama (Baughman 1947); Arizona (Baughman 1947; Courtenay et al. 1991); Arkansas (Baughman 1947); California (Shapovalov 1944; Kimsey and Fisk 1964; Skinner 1972; Moyle 1976a; Wydoski and Whitney 1979; Courtenay et al. 1984, 1991; Dill and Cordone 1997); Colorado...."

Briefly, it's in 38 states. That the USGS knows of.

"...In the 1940s this species was reported to be a nuisance because of high abundance in certain parts of Maryland and Idaho (Baughman 1947). The diet consists mainly of aquatic insect larvae and molluscs (Scott and Crossman 1973). Moyle (1976a) considered it a potential competitor for food with sport fishes and native cyprinids...."

A cyprinid isn't a space alien from Star Wars. It's what ichthyologists call "soft-finned mainly freshwater fishes typically having toothless jaws and cycloid scales." (Princeton's WordNet)

Interestingly, "ichthyologist" is a word, but "ichtheologist" apparently isn't. That'd be someone who studies the worship of iches. Which is spelled itches, and that's another topic.

Tench: More Than Just a Fish

Here's a few of the world's Tenches, past and present:And those are other topics.

Other fishy posts:

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

SOPA, PIPA, and a Disapproving Rabbit

You know it's serious, when a rabbit gets involved:

"We Disapprove of SOPA/PIPA"
Disapproving Rabbits (January 18, 2012)

"Hey all,

"We normally keep politics out of Disapproving Rabbits, but as people who create and sell things on the internet (and have had our work stolen), both Sharon and I feel we should join the protest against the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and Protect-IP Act (PIPA), which as you can probably tell by the names, are designed to fight Internet Piracy.

"We feel that the legislation goes too far, gives the government and media companies too much power, and is poorly written. You can learn more about them here, but I urge you to investigate on your own...."

Disapproving Rabbits had planned to take the site down for 24 hours, but that would have been a whole lot of work: since they use Blogger, just like the Lemming. Instead, they turned the background color to black.

Turning this blog's background to black would be trickier, since it's a bit complicated - and uses an antique Blogger template. Excuses, excuses.

SOPA may be a well-intentioned, incompetently-planned, overly-powerful bit of legislation. On the other hand, a free Internet is a serious threat to the power of old-school information gatekeepers. Maybe SOPA isn't as daft as it seems: and represents an attempt to regain control of what Americans are allowed to see and read.

I've posted about information gatekeepers before:Other related posts:

SOPA and PIPA Google Petition: I Signed

Google has an online petition today, for folks who think SOPA and PIPA are bad ideas.

I signed it.

No pressure, but if you think freedom of speech is a good idea, and live in the United States, you might consider doing the same:
If you click on Google's picture, you'll get a *.pdf (Acrobat) format mini-poster that prints out on an ordinary 8 1/2 x 11 inch sheet of paper.

Related posts:

Taipei 101: Shopping Center, Offices, and a 728-Ton Sculpture

Taipei 101's official website (English version - May take a while to load. But once it's in your browser, you should see a cute little 3D animated critter with text balloons saying things like "Hi~~" and "Let's Green On!" They've got information for visitors, folks interested in leasing space in Taipei 101, and some 'about' pages.

Taipei 101 official website, English-language version

"The greatest challenge in designing a statement building is not the construction technology involved, but how the building reflects the culture in which it functions. The spirit of architecture lies in the balance between local culture and internationalism.

"In the West, a tall building demands respect and attention from the spectators. To the Asians, it symbolizes a broader understanding and anticipation of things to come: we 'climb' in order to 'see further'..."

Well. That's nice. Let's see what else the page says about the tower.

"... TAIPEI 101 Tower rises in 8 canted sections, a design based on the Chinese lucky number '8'. It is a homonym for prosperity in Chinese, and the 8 sections of the structure are designed to create rhythm in symmetry, introducing a new style for skyscrapers...."

Taipei 101's Awards page lists some of the tower's records. World's:
  • Highest, ground to structural top
    508 meters
  • Ground to highest occupied floor
    101 floors, 428 meters
  • Ground to roof
    448 meters
That was in 2005, when Taipei 101 opened. Then the Burj Khalifa opened: all 160 floors, 828-plus meters of it. Granted, the top 200 meters of the Burj Khalifa is a spire.

The Burj Khalifa's World's Tallest Towers page has an interactive graphic that shows side-by-side comparisons with quite a few skyscrapers. Taipei 101 is still a pretty tall building, though.

Taipei's landmark skyscraper's architects used a 728 ton tuned mass damper to keep the tower from swaying too much. Instead of making it a strictly utilitarian hunk of stuff, they designed the mass damper as a sort of sculpture. And the Lemming posted about that before:The Taipei 101 shopping mall is billed as:The shopping center's floor guide is a series of interactive graphics: attractive, easy to use, and apparently quite useful for visitors. It also has an example of why translations can be tricky. These are instructions for using the guide, in English:

"Please transfer to the mouse on the picture, then knows the most detailed shop owner and the facility information."

The Lemming had no trouble understanding that. But it's not what a native speaker of English would have said.

The floor guide shows a 7-Eleven on the B1/Grand Market level, by the way. Those things are everywhere, it seems.

Somewhat-related posts:

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Lemming Tracks: SOPA, PIPA, and 'Rules are for the Little People?'

SOPA is still working its way through Congress, sort of like a badly-cooked triple-cheese pizza.

If SOPA had been written by someone who understood information technology, and gave a rip about freedom of speech, the Lemming wouldn't be all that upset about one more piece of legislation. As it is, it looks like SOPA is - at best - a well-intentioned disaster waiting to happen.

That's the bad news.

The good news is that we do have pesky things like the First Amendment and blogs, and folks who aren't sufficiently submissive to what our betters in Washington think is good for us.

We've also got tech giants like Google, whose leadership is savvy enough to realize that giving some government official the power to shut down bothersome domains is a bad idea.

There's "Smart, Targeted;" And there's Congress

"Google will protest SOPA using popular home page"
Declan McCullagh and Greg Sandoval, CNET News (January 17, 2012)

"The tech sector is pulling out the big guns.

"Google, the Web's top search company and one of technology's most influential powers in Washington, will post a link on its home page tomorrow to notify users of Google's opposition to controversial antipiracy bills being debated in Congress.

"The company confirmed in a statement that it will join Wikipedia, Reddit, and other influential tech firms in staging protests of varying kinds against the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and Protect IP Act (PIPA), which are backed by big entertainment and media interests. (Read a roundup of our SOPA and PIPA coverage here.)

" 'Like many businesses, entrepreneurs, and Web users, we oppose these bills because there are smart, targeted ways to shut down foreign rogue Web sites without asking American companies to censor the Internet,' a Google representative said. 'So tomorrow we will be joining many other tech companies to highlight this issue on our U.S. home page.'..."

Let's cut the folks in Congress some slack here: many of them have devoted decades of their lives to spending our money and getting entertained by Hollywood. Unlike many of the rest of us, they may not have had time to learn about stuff like "computers" and "Internet." Besides, mere drudgery like typing and reading are what secretaries and interns are for, right?

Wikipedia Goes Away: For a Day

"Wikipedia joins web blackout in Sopa protest"
BBC News (January 17, 2012)

"Wikipedia plans to take its English-language site offline on Wednesday as part of protests against proposed anti-piracy laws in the US.

"The user-generated news site Reddit and the blog Boing Boing have also said they will take part in the 'blackout'.

"The sites' webmasters are opposed to the Stop Online Piracy Act (Sopa) and Protect Intellectual Property Act (Pipa) being debated by Congress.

"However, Twitter has declined to take part in the shutdown.

"Wikipedia's founder, Jimmy Wales, told the BBC: 'Proponents of Sopa have characterised the opposition as being people who want to enable piracy or defend piracy.

" 'But that's not really the point. The point is the bill is so over broad and so badly written that it's going to impact all kinds of things that, you know, don't have anything to do with stopping piracy.'..."

In the Lemming's opinion
  • Freedom of speech is not piracy
  • Protest is not terrorism
  • Disagreement is not treason
The Lemming's been over this sort of thing in another blog:

'Rules are for the Little People?'

"More on SOPA/PIPA"
Caitlin Williams, News (January 15, 2012; updated January 17, 2012)

"SOPA creator caught in own web

"The author of the controversial SOPA bill which seeks to introduce stricter penalties for companies and individuals caught violating copyright laws online, has been caught in his own web.

"An archived screen shot of House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith's, R-TX, website depicts a beautiful lush forest used as a background.

"According to an article by, this stock image traced back to photographer DJ Schulte.

"The photographer protects his image under the Creative Commons license, which allows anyone to use an image so long as they attribute the image to the photographer and do not use it for commercial purposes.

"The only problem is that attribution for the image does not appear on the site. If Smith's proposed bill were to pass, action could be taken against his own website.

"Lamar's website no longer utilizes stock images, save for one banner strip across the top, but this incident exposes the faults and vagueness that critics point out in the bill...."

In fairness, anybody can make a mistake. Maybe whatever underling Lamar Smith told to do the website simply forgot to include the Creative Commons license attribution.

On the other hand, that's embarrassing. And an example of what could get someone's website kicked off the Internet, under SOPA provisions.

Not that Smith would be affected. He's important. As long as he was part of the Washington set, it's unlikely that some trifling little peccadillo like using DJ Schulte's picture without attribution would result in SOPA enforcement.

The story might be different, if whoever committed such an act of 'piracy' was one of those 'troublemakers' who don't agree with our great leaders in Washington. And that's almost another topic.

Related posts:

Monday, January 16, 2012

Lemming Tracks: Toxic Light Bulbs For a Brighter Future

There's good news, and there's bad news. First, the good news.

Rejoice! Energy-Efficient Light Bulbs!!

"Old light bulbs fading, but what will replace them? "
Dave Gathman. The Courier-News (January 10, 2012)

"There's one trend we usually can count on in electrical equipment, from TV sets and radios to music players and telephones: As the years pass, it will become cheaper and cheaper, and more and more disposable.

"But as a five-year-old federal law takes effect this month, Americans may have to get used to just the opposite when it comes to the light bulb.

"The bulbs of the future will cost much more than the cheap, disposable incandescent bulbs we have been using since Thomas Edison figured out how to make one way back in 1879. But they also will last much longer - maybe even to the point of becoming built-in pieces of each lamp that last as long as the lamp does. And they will reduce our electric bills.

"On New Year's Day, the light-bulb business felt the first impact of the Energy Independence and Security Act, which had been passed by Congress and signed into law by President George W. Bush in 2007. The law was backed by an alliance of congressmen who wanted to reduce foreign energy imports and cut greenhouse gas emissions from making electricity...."

What joys! Thanks to the miracles of modern technology, and the Federal government, we'll soon pay a few cents less each month for electricity!! Oh, if only this glorious moment had come in warmer weather, so there could be dancing in the street!!!

Oh, wait: there was something in the third paragraph. "...The bulbs of the future will cost much more...."

That's the bad news.

What's Money to Congress?

"Government Phasing Out Incandescent Light Bulbs" (January 2, 2012)

"Get ready to say goodbye to the incandescent light bulb and hello to a future lit only by energy efficient bulbs, like compact fluorescent light bulbs or CFLs.

"The new federal light bulb efficiency standards, sought by the Department of Energy, went into effect yesterday. The standards passed Congress with bipartisan approval and was signed by President Bush. These new standards mean the end of incandescent light bulbs.

"According to Energy Star, CFLs approved by them will use about 75% less energy than incandescent bulbs and last 6 times longer, which should equal to energy savings for you and a cleaner environment. Home Depot employee Isham Smith, who goes by Smitty, said that CFLs can last 9 years or more.

"Home Depot will continue selling incandescent light bulbs, but only for as long as suppliers have them...."

"...The general cost of energy efficient bulbs can be frightening. Some of the bulbs at Home Depot can be nearly 50 dollars each. Smitty tells us that prices should go down as the bulbs become more popular and when manufacturers produce more of the bulbs...."

Okay: That's "...some...nearly 50 dollars each...." And Smitty's probably right. Today those fancy, toxic, expensive, high-tech lights are a sort of novelty item. With the government making everybody use them, economies of scale should kick in for the manufacturing process.

Which means that each fancy new light will cost less to make. Maybe enough different companies will be making them, so that competition will let prices get down to where folks can afford to have electric lights in their homes.

That would be nice.

On the other hand, the Lemming could claim that the ban on incandescent lights is some sort of conspiracy - and SOPA is an effort by Congress to silence folks who don't agree.

That would be silly. The Lemming thinks SOPA is a bad idea: but part of some conspiracy? Maybe involving space aliens and Elvis? Unlikely in the extreme.

Still - it sounds like Americans will be paying quite a bit more for lighting equipment. Because Congress wants us to.

Of course, it's for a good cause. As anyone who has seen "Captain Planet" knows, Mother Earth is threatened by evil forces. Like greedy developers and light bulbs.

Or, rather, the power plants that generate electricity that the light bulbs use.

Sense, Nonsense, and Congress

In the Lemming's opinion:
  • Is using less electrical power per unit of lighting a good idea?
    • Yes
  • Are new lighting gadgets more efficient?
    • Yes
  • Will we benefit from using more energy-efficient lighting?
    • Eventually, yes
  • Are Americans going to be paying more for light?
    • Yes
      • For quite a long time
    • Eventually, no
  • Will this Congressional stunt have unintended consequences?
    • Yes

Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs and Mercury: Oops

Acronyms are wonderful things, if you know what the mean. A CFL is a Compact Fluorescent Light bulb.

"...These efficient bulbs are not without problems. CFLs contain small amounts of mercury, but that can still be a hazard to the human body. All CFLs should be recycled to prevent mercury from reaching the environment. You can recycle the bulbs at your local Home Depot. Broken CFLs can be recycled, as well. You must handle and clean up after broken CFLS with extreme care...."

Fear not, citizen! You, too, can clean up toxic waste!! helpfully supplied a link to an EPA page that tells folks how to clean up after a fluorescent lighting unit breaks. The link doesn't work, due to a little coding error, but this one does: "Cleaning Up a Broken CFL." (

The good news is that we won't need to buy hazmat suits when we pay for those fancy new bulbs. The bad news is that breaking one of the government's new gizmos creates a health hazard.

Then there's this item from that EPA instruction page: "...Air out the room for 5-10 minutes by opening a window or door to the outdoor environment...."

Open a room for five or ten minutes? What's the big deal? This time of year, in central Minnesota, it's a tad chilly outside. Lowering a room's temperature to below freezing is better than breathing toxic fumes: but it's inconvenient at best.

Toxic Light Bulbs, Technology, and Getting a Grip

At this point, the Lemming could rant about
  • The evils of
    • Technology and capitalistic greed
    • Big brother government
  • Power plants that
    • Explode
    • Kill millions of people
    • All the time
  • The wonders of
    • Technology
    • Congress
      • The wise
      • The benevolent
      • The far-seeing
Or, the Lemming could note that
  • Saving energy seems to make sense
  • The new gadgets are pricey
  • Other lighting technologies may be safer
    • And available
      • Eventually
Meanwhile, the Lemming may have to replace a desk lamp that uses a slightly non-standard incandescent light bulb. And that's going to cost money, too.

Somewhat-related posts:

Friday, January 13, 2012

Lemming Tracks: SOPA, Censorship, and 'Protection'

SOPA is - we're told - supposed to protect Hollywood and the American record industry from pirates.

That's not the problem. Copyright and other intellectual property rights are important, and should have legal protection.

But SOPA, as originally set up, would allow some Federal official to blacklist websites. But that's okay? After all, only 'pirate' websites will be affected. And, presumably, since they're 'pirates,' there's no need for a trial: according to SOPA.

Let's imagine a hypothetical situation.

'It Can't Happen Here?'

Let's say there's this website, run by someone who isn't sufficiently grateful about being protected from pirates. One of the pages on this website includes that quote from "Star Wars," "I've got a bad feeling about this." Complete with a sound clip from the 1977 movie.

That, according to some Washington bureaucrat, is 'piracy.'

And so the troublesome website disappears.

Without a trial.

After all, SOPA protects Hollywood against 'pirates,' and their kind doesn't deserve a trial, right?

Or, maybe not-so-right.

Quite a few folks have been raising a fuss about SOPA: including a sort of protest shutdown on Wednesday of next week, January 18.Now we're told that SOPA is going to be cleaned up a little before getting imposed on us. That's nice to hear. Maybe it's even true.

Protected from 'Pirates' - And Disturbing Ideas?

Maybe the most disturbing part of SOPA is that a member of Congress apparently decided that websites should be suppressed - without a trial - based on whether or not some government official thought they had the 'wrong' sort of content.

Protecting folks who produce content is a good idea. That was the idea behind "residuals:" allowing someone besides studio heads from profiting from a movie that continues to make money. And yes: there's more to residuals than that:But 'protecting' the world, by taking 'bad' websites off the Internet? Based on what some government official wants? With no trial?

Even if whoever is pushing SOPA 'means well,' this is a very bad idea.

On the other hand, it could be worse. The Egyptian government shut down the Internet in their country a year ago. Egypt has a new government now, by the way.

'It can't happen here?' Well, maybe. But folks with power have been known to react badly when they think they're not being properly appreciated:Just a reminder: America has a national election coming up this November. Maybe it's time to swap out the current lot with politicos who understand today's technology: and who value freedom of expression.

Other related posts:

Lemming Tracks: Triskaidekaphobia and a Rambling Lemming

There's another Friday the 13th coming this year, in July:
  • That's six months from now
  • There are two numbers in "13"
    • "1" and "3"
  • Three multiplied by two is six

Or, not. The Lemming's been over sounding crazy on the Internet, and how to avoid it, before:On the other hand, the Lemming had an unusually hard time coming up with a topic for today's earlier post ("Oh, Boy! The Avengers are Back - Almost "), which a sufficiently triskaidekaphobic person might think was the result of Friday the 13th already being here, over in Asia, when the Lemming was still rummaging around for something nifty.

"Triskaidekaphobia?" That's a seven-syllable word meaning "a morbid fear of the number 13." (Princeton's WordNet) Oddly enough, seven is a 'lucky' number. ("Is this your lucky number? Seventy-seven things you need to know about 07," (December 31, 2006)) Which probably explains the title of "Lucky Number Slevin" (2006).

Related (sort of) posts:

Oh, Boy! The Avengers are Back - Almost

"Disney And Marvel Team Up For New Cartoon Programming"
Mike Thompson, The Escapist (January 12, 2012)

"Starting this April, Marvel and Disney will provide you with an entire hour of cartoons jam-packed with comic-y goodness.

"Marvel Comics is joining forces with parent group The Walt Disney Company to create a new programming block of comic-based cartoons. The block will include the return of popular series The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes and the launch of the delayed Ultimate Spider-Man...."

This is good news for the Lemming. Reruns of The Avengers have been playing on Disney Channel, late, on some weekend evenings. Looks like enough folks like Marvel's characters to warrant a comeback.

Well, probably good news. There's always the chance that the Ultimate Spider-Man will be a little too "ultimate:" with angst, acrobatics, or some other aspect of the show turned up so much we can't 'hear' the story. Or a director could forget that these are comic book heroes, and try to bring Shakespearean demeanor to Tony Stark and associates.

Or: maybe this will be another entertaining, relatively lightweight, bit of entertainment. The Lemming rather hopes so.

Not-entirely-unrelated posts:

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Rose Bowl Helmets, Jell-O Cartons, and the Italian Renaissance

"Mirror Ball"
Brian Libby, Architect Magazine (January 6, 2012)
"A vintage materials finish is responsible for one of the most high-tech, dynamic looks in college football history.

"When college football's Oregon Ducks played the Wisconsin Badgers in Monday's 98th annual Rose Bowl.... It was also a chance for to make the historic Pasadena game a fashion show, a familiar rite for the Eugene, Ore.–based school. Flashy jersey-and-pants combinations have become de rigueur in the past - the school counts Nike co-founder Phil Knight as its biggest booster - but this week, the team introduced a helmet unseen in Rose Bowl's century-plus history, one seemingly made of chrome and as shiny as a bumper from a '60s muscle car.

"Drew Gereb of Newberg, Ore.'s Hydro Graphics, which assisted Nike with the helmet finish, handles the proprietary 'LiquidMetal HydroChrome' technology used to produce the material finish on the helmet. Unveiled to the press shortly after Christmas, the new helmet for the Ducks was promoted by Nike as a 'futuristic' innovation. But the technique is actually one that dates to the 1970s, Gereb explains.

" 'The technology was locked up in the automotive industry for years,' Gereb says. 'It's using the old Gravure printing drums. That's how they did the wood grains on the dashboards.'

"The 12-step HydroChrome process is almost entirely performed with or under water, with each football helmet taking approximately seven days to be completed. Hydro Graphics adds a thin layer of translucent material that, once applied, gives the surface of the helmet a bright, mirrorlike appearance. The Ducks' helmets went through the process twice, with a custom die-cut graphic of the team's winged logo applied in between...."

Somebody must have really wanted the Oregon Ducks to have fancy new helmets. With each helmet taking seven days to process, those things must have been expensive. Of course, having those distinctive helmets at the Rose Bowl gave Hydro Graphics a lot of publicity: the company has a photo of their company's home page (, so they're well-aware of the marketing angle.

"Gravure" Printing?

Gravure printing goes back long before the 1970s:

"...The origins of gravure printing were with the creative artists of the Italian Renaissance in the 1300s. Fine engravings and etchings were cut by hand into soft copper.

"The engraved surface consisted of channels or sunken areas. The Italian word intaglio (in-tal-yo) means engraved or cut in.

"Intaglio refers to a method of printing whose image carrier consists of lines or dots recessed below the surface.

"Intaglio reproduces an original design by pressing paper into the recesses.

"The first intaglio plate was used for printing in Germany in 1446 about the same time as Gutenberg. Unfortunately, the intaglio process was not compatible with Gutenberg's letterpress, so it wasn't adopted by early printers.

"The modern gravure printing press resulted from the invention of photography and the adoption of rotary printing from cylinders....

"...Auguste Godchaux received a patent for a reel-fed rotary gravure perfector press in 1860...."
("Gravure Printing," Paul D. Fleming III)

It took the Lemming about ten minutes to find a history of Gravure printing: on the Western Michigan University's website. What that says about journalists, research, and all that - is another topic.

Apparently wood-grain dashboards weren't the first commercial application of post-1860 Gravure printing. There were "heliogravure" prints, and that gets the Lemming back to Flemming's history.

Rotogravure, Prints, and Jell-O Cartons

"...Klic and Fawcett didn't have patents on their process, so they tried to keep the process secret. They sold prints from their press as 'heliogravure' prints, even though they were really rotogravure as we know it today.

"Their process remained a trade secret until an employee emigrated to the United States and made it public.

"The process continued to improve and gravure presses were used to print Jell-O cartons starting in 1938...."
("Gravure Printing," Paul D. Fleming III)

What the Architect article probably refers to, with the 1970s and auto dashboards, are the electromechanical engravers that came out in 1968. That's from Flemming's history, again.

Photos of the Oregon Ducks' new helmets reminds the Lemming of the "Tron: Legacy" movie, and that's another topic. From almost exactly a year ago: January 4, 2011. And that's - what else? Another topic.

More about Gravure printing:
  • "Gravure"
    Paul D. Fleming III, Paper Engineering, Chemical Engineering and Imaging, Western Michigan University

Vaguely-related posts:

Monday, January 9, 2012

Lemming Tracks: SOPA, Tech-Savvy Folks, Hollywood, and Congress

This isn't a 'political' blog. Not in the sense that the Lemming says every [insert political position] idea is brilliant, while everyone associated with [insert political party] are satanic traitors with body odor issues.

On the other hand, the Lemming likes freedom of expression, and an Internet where folks can voice opinions: even if some federal official doesn't agree. Maybe SOPA is a wonderful idea, that just happened to get introduced toward the start of an election cycle.

Here's what got the Lemming started this evening:

Blacklisting Pirates and Other Subversive Elements?

"Geeks to Testify (Finally!) About SOPA Blacklisting Implications"
David Kravets, Threat Level, Wired (January 9, 2012)

"Rep. Darrell Issa (R-California), a major opponent of the Stop Online Piracy Act, announced Monday he is bringing in the techies to hold a public hearing highlighting the online security implications of a proposed bill that would force changes to internet infrastructure to fight online copyright infringement.

"The announcement came three weeks after a markup of SOPA in the House Judiciary Committee was abruptly postponed amid concerns over its blacklisting element, which lets the attorney general order changes to core internet infrastructure in order to stop copyright infringement.

"The fight pits the big donors of Hollywood against Silicon Valley, relative newcomers to the world of influence peddling. Hollywood argues that millions of jobs are lost a year due to pirate websites, while the tech world argues that the open nature of the internet has created millions of jobs and that copyright holders already have tools to fight illegal downloaders...."

The Lemming is a content provider, and concerned about intellectual property rights. Data, including software, music, and written material, can be copied and distributed online: without the permission of whoever owns the information; and without giving the owner any credit - or profit - which might result.

SOPA is being sold as a solution to online piracy. Maybe it is. But the Lemming is very dubious. Particularly since the folks who seem to be pushing SOPA, like American movie and music studios, do not have a good record where it comes to allowing creative folks to share credit or profit for the content they produce.

Content providers need some sort of legal protection for their intellectual property rights. But the Lemming remembers the 'good old days,' when America was repairing damage done by McCarthy-era blacklists. Today's wannabe blacklisters are a different bunch, and this time it's Hollywood types who would benefit. Blacklists, particularly when created by a government agency with inadequate safeguards for citizens' rights, sound like a very, very bad idea.

Related posts:

The Internet "Shattering:" Oh, the Horror! Or, Not

"The Year the Internet Split in Half"
Blake Snow, (January 7, 2012)

"One Internet, under no one -- but divisible after all.

"If there's one thing 2011 will be remembered for, it'll be the year the Internet split in half.

"In one corner, we have the traditional web, the one you've known and loved since the 90s. In the other corner, there's the 'app' or mobile Internet. It's the one ushered in by the iPhone, and it grew to record levels last year with help from Android, iPads, and tablets.

"And increasingly, there's different stuff on them...."

There's more, about "traditional" Internet content that's viewed with a browser, mobile applications on smartphones and tablets: and what a huge difference there is between the data that's accessed, depending on what system gets used.

Engadget editor-in-chief Tim Stevens gets quoted, saying that five or 10 years ago, folks were excited about new websites: and now the excitement is over new apps. As far as the Lemming can tell, the data folks see isn't all that different: the difference is in the software that they use.

And that apparently means that developers need to decide whether to concentrate on 'Web' content, or 'app' content.

Up to that point, the article's tone is fairly calm.


"...But the web isn't just dividing in two, Stevens said. It's shattering.

" 'I wish it were just splitting,' he told 'But the reality is the Internet is actually fragmenting into many small pieces. Apple's iOS and Google's Android are the most popular mobile operating systems, but there's also Microsoft's Windows Phone, Blackberry, HP's webOS and even specific apps for Google's Chrome browser.'

"A clear example is Shazam, one of the first must-have smartphone apps for its ability to quickly identify unknown songs. Four years ago, it was only available on iPhone, though coveted by users on the traditional desktop Internet.

"The app's relevance has since faded. But platform exclusive apps are alive and well today. For example, Adobe Flash software, Google Navigation, and third-party app stores are exclusive to Android...."
(Blake Snow,

"Shattering" is a dramatic, emotional, word. Someone whose business depends on developing apps, or websites, or browsers, may feel like their world is "shattering," now that some folks use Blackberry, some an iPhone, and others an Android.

Folks like the Lemming, who create content? Maybe not so much.

A few years ago, the Lemming decided to concentrate on content instead of chasing the latest tech fashions. Which isn't the same as ignoring changes in information technology.

Mobile devices are definitely out there, but the Lemming's stuff is mostly viewed with folks using browsers and some sort of computer. For example, so far this month a little over two thirds of all viewers used Windows, about an eighth had Macintosh systems, a tenth had Linux, and a bit over one percent each used iPhone, Ipad, or Android technology.

Change Happens - - -

"...Not everyone that the Internet is 'dividing,' however.

" 'We're arguing about different front-ends here,' says popular TechCrunch columnist MG Siegler. 'While apps and the web sometimes seem at odds with one another, it's important to remember that all are being powered by the same thing: the Internet.'

"Indeed, mobile apps and traditional websites often access the same servers, databases, and file protocols. But even Siegler admits to diverging uses for the modern Internet....

"...Semantics aside, resources being allocated to the Internet - whether web, mobile, or otherwise - are undeniably being split to follow the money...."
(Blake Snow,

There's more about the economic angle. Also a few anecdotes: which may have some truth behind them.

- - - Deal With It

Remember the 'good old days' of the Web, when earnest folks called themselves webmasters and told viewers which browser they should use?

"Best if viewed by [browser] at [resolution]" announcements aren't all that common today. Partly, the Lemming suspects, because too many viewers wouldn't change browsers to accommodate some developer's tastes. Worse, from the control-freak point of view, some folks actually preferred websites that didn't look good in [browser], at [resolution], and were hard to view in anything else.

'It's different' with today's apps: many of which apparently won't even work if someone has the 'wrong' sort of mobile device. Still, the Lemming thinks this could be the start of another 'war of the operating systems,' like the situation we had around 1995:

(Scott Adams' Dilbert (June 22, 1996), used w/o permission)

Around that time the Lemming was doing tech support work, and talked with someone who said - quite seriously - 'nobody uses Windows.'

Maybe this time around, folks in the tech end of information technology will decide on an 'industry standard' for mobile device interfaces. On the other hand, maybe someone will decide to woo the 'snob' market and peddle overpriced 'iSnubs' with solid gold cases and a keypad of matched diamonds.

If that happens, the Lemming thinks most of the rest of us will get by with something a tad more practical. And affordable.

More likely, we'll see more mobile devices that load relatively small amounts of content very quickly: and 'traditional' browsers that load large amounts of content fairly quickly. And, unless human nature changes, some folks will praise their browsers and sneer at apps; while others do the opposite.

Sensible folks will decide what technology best suits their needs, and use that.

Dead Web?

Finally, some good sense from Black Snow. Ryan and Derik are two teenagers mentioned in another part of Snow's piece:

"...When doing research and content creation, the traditional web environment is still ideal, most agree. Which explains why Ryan still reaches for the traditional web first when searching for cars to buy, multitasking, or writing.

"Conversely, it also explains why people like Derick, more interested in consuming information on a casual basis, reach for their iPhone first....

"...Translation: Apps will enjoy more and more features at the expense of websites overall. No, the web isn't dead, despite a loud proclamation from Wired Magazine. It's actually growing in places. Just not as quickly overall as the app and mobile Internet...."
(Blake Snow,

That makes sense, to the Lemming. Maybe the Lemming will start focusing more on content that's best viewed by some app. But not today. Or, most likely, this year.

Tech, Content, and Congress

What concerns the Lemming isn't so much the technology folks use, or the sort of content they produce and view: it's the way Congress keeps trying to 'protect' us from the Internet.

The Lemming likes freedom of expression: and that's another topic.

Somewhat-related posts:

Friday, January 6, 2012

From the Mind of the Lemming

"Paint what you see" is one of those recurring bits of advice to budding artists. It's also pretty much what the Lemming did for today's post:

Have a good weekend: the Lemming will be back Monday.

Not-entirely-unrelated posts:

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

A 21st Century Look at 19th Century Visions of the 20th Century

"The Future of Architecture Since 1889"
Jean-Louis Cohen (Author), product page

"Truly far-ranging -- both conceptually and geographically -- The Future of Architecture Since 1889 is a rich, compelling history that will shape future thinking out this period for years to come...."

As advertising copy goes, whoever wrote that could have done a lot worse. The description is a bit extravagant with praise, but at least it includes some verifiable details. Like who wrote the book:

"...Jean-Louis Cohen, one of today's most distinguished architectural historians and critics, gives an authoritative and compelling account of the twentieth century, tracing an arc from industrialization through computerization, and linking architecture to developments in art, technology, urbanism and critical theory...."

It's illustrated ("richly"), a hardcover book with 638 pages, published by Phaidon Press, and won't be available until March 28, 2012.

Living in The Future

The Lemming's been living in 'the future' for quite a while now. Somehow, the flying cars, floating cities, atomic toothbrushes, and mutant frogs never happened. Neither did the predicted ice age, death of the oceans, and depopulation of America.

The future hasn't been a total disappointment, though: disco didn't last; the Internet is upsetting apple carts; and spaceports moved from pulp fiction to the business pages.

All of which doesn't have all that much to do with architecture. Except that today's buildings are more likely to have a wireless network, than a servant's entrance.

With a price somewhere around $50 to $75, the Lemming isn't likely to buy the book. It's an interesting topic, though. Particularly since notions about what 'the future' will be like have changed so much since Victorian times.

Somewhat-related posts:
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