Friday, June 16, 2006

The End Of An Era

An announcement was made today that Bill Gates, the co-founder of Microsoft, will be giving up the day-to-day duties at Microsoft within the next two years to concentrate on his philanthropic efforts. He will, however, remain the chairman of Microsoft.

Bill Gates was a controversial figure in the IT world. Anyone who watched the docudrama The Pirates of Silicon Valley learned about how he made Microsoft a major player in the software world - some of the things that he has done was not necessarily ethical. However, one has to applaud his vision of "a PC in every home".

One thing that can be admired is his and his wife's foundation is the biggest non-profit in the country, giving away nearly 1 billion dollars per year to charitable causes. I'm impressed that he will be spending his time and money for a good cause.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Net neutrality - It's nothing like Switzerland

Note:If you have your own web site, or if you have a blog, you may want to pay attention to this article...

One of the hottest debates that's going on in the U.S. Senate is net neutrality. Net neutrality, in a nutshell, means that all Internet sites must be treated equally.

The issue is that major providers, such as the telephone and cable industries, want to be able to manage their networks as they see fit. One of the things that they want to do is charge more money for users that use more bandwidth, rather than the flat fee for Internet connectivity. The concern that opponents have is the providers will be able to do the following: block content that providers find to be offensive, downgrade the quality of services that competing Internet providers have to offer, and reduce the time it takes for a page to load from a company that doesn't pay the provider as much money.

The "Internet Freedom Preservation Act", a bill introduced in Congress by Senators Olympia Snow (R-ME) and Byron Dorgan (D-ND), basically will make it illegal for Internet providers to "block, interfere with, discriminate against, impair, or degrade" access to content or to prevent users from attaching devices of their choosing to the network. They would also be barred from making special deals with content providers to ensure speedier delivery or improved quality of service;all material would be offered on an equal basis.

Supporters of this bill want to continue to support the freedom of the Internet, while opponents claim that they are not compelled to promote speech they are against, and that the government should not impose rules on the free market.

Who is in support of this bill?

  • IAC/InterActiveCorp

  • Ebay

  • Amazon

  • Yahoo!

  • Earthlink

  • Google

  • Microsoft


  • Christian Coalition

  • AARP

  • Consumer Federation of America

  • American Library Association

  • Free Press

  • Tech Net

  • Celebrities such as Moby and Alyssa Milano

Who is against the bill?

  • Bell

  • Verizon

  • National Black Chamber of Commerce

  • Progress and Freedom Foundation

  • Ludwig von Mises Institute

Where do you stand on this bill? Do you need more information before you can decide? This article talks about the net neutrality debate in more detail.

If you already have a position, be sure to contact your senators and let them know where you stand.

Sunday, June 4, 2006

Is it fun to stay at the D-M-C-A?

I apologize for the bad disco reference for this topic. :)

The Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA) of 1998 was enacted to update the copyright Law in response to the advancement of technology. This is a law in the United States. (In Europe, the EU Copyright Directive (EUCD) was passed in 2001, and the law is similar to the DMCA.)

If you are in the United States, and if you are involved in software development or if you are a webmaster, you need to be aware of the DMCA. For the webmaster, if you create content for your web site, it is automatically copyrighted. In the same vein, you may be in violation of the DMCA if you host content that is copyrighted, such as programs and MP3s. As a software developer, you may have to implement Digital Rights Management (DRM) technology, which is code that prevents the media (such as software) to be copied. In the same vein, you may have to be more alert about how you get your code assistance. For example, if you reverse-engineer software, even if it's free, to get an idea of how an action works, you are in violation of the DMCA.

There are supporters and detractors of the DMCA. Supporters applaud the act because it prevents piracy of digital media (such as software and music) by imposing strict punishments on those who violate the act. Detractors complain that the act is impeding innovative development and free speech.

For more information about the act, as well as arguments for and against the act, read the following:

* - Re-printed with permission from Ms. Elizabeth Pruszko