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Wednesday, December 22, 2004
3:41 PM      

If it's not a crime, you'll do no time.
“Everybody hates spamsters, there's no question about that. I'm not prepared to go ahead, Mr. Siegal. I need to be independently satisfied that a crime has been created.”
- Judge Alvin Hellerstein of Manhattan federal court to Federal prosecutor David Siegal

24-year-old former AOL employee Jason Smathers may not be able to plead guilty to the crime prosecutors have charged him with. The judge felt it was not clear that Smathers had deceived anyone — a requirement of the new federal “can-spam” legislation that took effect earlier this year. If he didn't, then there's no crime according to the law that's being applied. Smathers stole a list of 92 million AOL addresses and sold it to a Las Vegas spammer. The list is believed to be still circulating among spammers.

I wonder if the “can-spam” legislators are kicking themselves.


Birds, Bees, and the Fruit of Technology's Tree
An A.P. story titled “Sex Tape on Internet Roils Indian Public” is an interesting tale of how societies absorb and relate to technology, and how exposure to other cultures produces unexpected and sometimes unwanted results.

[Let's pause to talk about the title of the article. There was no tape, but the AP editors must have figured the word “tape” communicated better than what it really was: a 2:37 digital video clip, probably MPEG. Younger and more adventurous users of the internet are completely comfortable with the concept. Less-savvy folks, it seems, would have been distracted by any term other than “tape.” But, I digress...]

What's the story? Two 17-year-old students of The Delhi Public School, one of New Delhi's best known private schools, are in love. During an amourous encounter, the girl performs fellatio on him, and the ingenious Indian boy (the son of a rich Indian businessman) subscribes to the brilliant impulse to whip out his cell phone and capture a vid of the event. The boy then gives copies of his prize recording to three of his friends, and before you know it, the “tape” ends up in the hands of disc sellers in New Delhi. An engineering student at a prestigious Indian university then offers the disc for sale on the Indian subsidiary of eBay. The officials get involved. The boy gets sent to Juvenile Detention for getting his knob polished before he's married, and the girl gets sent to Canada by her parents. But it doesn't stop there. Avnish Bajaj, the American-born head of the eBay subsidiary, is arrested under an Indian cyber-porn law, and his American passport is confiscated...

Major scandal. Bajaj's arrest triggered a diplomatic spat between the United States and India. eBay has said they might reconsider doing business in India for scapegoating one of their top managers. And controversy:

“It came to me as a surprise that kids are having sex so soon... What are we trying to say here?... What do we believe is wrong? Was it that he had sex? Was it that he sent out the clip? Which part is the disturbing part?”
- Barkha Dutt, host of India's most popular television talk show on social issues

“Ultimately we have to see bigger picture. We want to increase Internet penetration. All this will only happen if you allow service providers the freedom... The law needs to be more industry friendly and more pragmatic.”
- Pawan Duggal, cyberlaw expert

It's amusing that Duggal would have chosen the word “penetration” in discussing this particular scandal. I take what he's saying to mean whatever you do, don't interfere with big business my friend; Indian society's already changed, whether you like it or not. Well scandals generally suck, but this time it seems that sucking was a key ingredient of the scandal! It seems Monica Lewinsky was not alone, or did she somehow inspire the teen-agers? That's it! Clinton has had an adverse affect on Indian society... but I digress again... The other ingredient of the scandal was technology. Science fiction always projects the issues of current society into the context of an imaginary future. If you're looking for the current-day fodder for all that talk of the Prime Directive on Star Trek, you've found it.

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Tuesday, December 21, 2004
6:17 PM      

As of today, each day will get a bit longer until the Summer Solstice.


PhotoShop + iView = Nice
I think Photoshop has a feature for creating HTML-based galleries, but I like the browsing and organizing features of iView better, especially since I haven't upgraded to CS yet. I shot a talent show this weekend, and needed to post images from the show. Processing the images manually would have taken hours longer — in the end, there were about 140 images to go into the gallery.

Since iView Pro can read .psd files, I was able to set up an action to apply sharpening and basic adjustment layers in Photoshop, saving them as .psd's. I processed the entire folder full of images and dragged the resulting .psd's into iView. I could drag the images inside the iView window to organize them, and further refine the adjustments as needed, using a contextual menu in iView to open selected files with Photoshop.

Once the adjustments had been made, and the final sequence was set, a single menu item in iView allowed me to generate HTML, thumbnails, and full-size images (all JPEGs) from the selected .psd's. The results are very good: take a look.

In experiments to build another web gallery, and found that I prefer not to let iView scale my large images, because it makes portrait and landscape images different sizes when it does. So, Photoshop will remain an important part of the workflow when I make galleries. My next experiment is to see if I can use iView to generate image files for SimpleViewer. SimpleViewer's thumbnails are square. I may need to square off the thumbnail images to get the right appearance.


Good Judge of Character, or Simply a Character?
“I have heard the anguish in his voice and seen his eyes when we talk about the danger in Iraq and the fact that youngsters are over there in harm's way,” Bush said at a White House news conference.

This is the same guy who looked into Putin's heart, and saw that he was a good man. He seems to have changed his tune lately. Aw, heck, maybe he just needs to take off those rose-colored glasses and leave them off.


Tony Blair, Copycat?
He's just made a surprise visit to Baghdad, just as his good friends Dubya and Rummy have before. Surprise visits by statemen and surprise attacks by insurgents. Here's a tag line for ya: Baghdad — City of Surprise.


Tyco has been running ads saying they're “a vital part of your world.” The copy sounds a lot like the text of those run by the plastics industry last year. I figure this is all damage control on the heels of the very public scandal involving their former chairman.

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