Michael J. Radwin

Tales of a software engineer who keeps kosher and hates the web.

Monthly Archives December 2002

FTC do-not-call list

NDNCR_biglogo.gif I always love it when government goes above and beyond the private sector. The Direct Marketing Association already provides a do-not-call list called the Telephone Preference Service (which I discovered via Operation Opt-Out). But only telemarketers that belong to the DMA actually use the TPS list. The FTC wants to make a mandatory do-not-call list for all telemarketers:

F.T.C. Issues Rules Restricting Telemarketing Calls. The F.T.C. issued rules restricting telemarketing calls to consumers, including plans for a nationwide registry of consumers who do not want to receive such sales calls. By Barnaby J. Feder. [New York Times]

Looks like we consumers will need to wait until this spring to put our names on the list. When the time comes, I’ll be one of the first to sign up.

DMCA and Instant Messaging Patent

Free Dmitry Sklyarov! A couple of interesting developments in the IP space today:

  1. Russian Company Acquitted of Digital Piracy. In the first test of digital piracy law, a jury acquitted a Russian company accused of selling software that allowed users to circumvent security features in an electronic book. By Matt Richtel. [New York Times: Technology]
  2. Patent creates IM wrinkle. America Online quietly secures a patent that could potentially shake up the competitive landscape for instant messaging software. [CNET News.com]

Stripping: it’s a living

Ivy League Stripper I was having an IM conversation with a co-worker this evening and somehow we managed to get a little off-topic.

In talking about my my alma mater, I was reminded of the book Ivy League Stripper by Heidi Mattson, who started stripping to pay her college tuition.

Brown University — the ultimate small-town girl’s dream come true… until she got the bill.

My co-worker mentioned another amusing story about a mother was stripping to help make ends meet and the church that kicked her child out of the religious school she was attending.

“Silvas said Cole told her that not only would her 5-year-old daughter be expelled, but also that as long as she strips, neither can attend the church.”

Ah, the irony.

Rain, Rain, Go Away

Rain all week for southwestern California It’s raining again in LA.

A significant storm system is forecast to move into southwestern California today. This system will bring rain to San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties thi morning…Then the precipitation should spread quickly South through Los Angeles county in the afternoon. gusty South winds will also accompany the storm system as it sweeps through the region. The rain will last into the night and then taper to showers for Tuesday. [National Weather Service via Yahoo! Weather]

Yucko. My sister-in-law is coming to visit tomorrow. I hope the weather clears up so we can actually do something fun.

Would you like clean underwear with your fries?

Men's Regular Full Cut Flannel Boxers After seeing Amazon suggest purchasing clean underwear with almost every item we put in our shopping carts, Ariella and I have wondered if the Internet superstore’s recommendation engine is broken.

Amazon.com Admits Concocting Some Recommendations, a TechWeb News story from a couple of weeks ago, reveals the truth:

“Amazon.com made the shocking admission that it doctors some of its product recommendations, which are supposedly compiled by objective software that compares each customer’s purchasing history with the histories of others who’ve made similar purchases.”

I think it’s great that the world’s biggest book seller is also selling clothes (and even electronics and kitchen stuff). However, while throwing in bogus recommendations might generate some more short-term sales, it is just going to dilute consumer confidence over the long term.

RIAA doesn’t get it, but O’Reilly does

Last night, I read Tim O’Reilly’s superb article on “piracy” and the evolution of online distribution. Brilliant.

Especially apropos was O’Reilly’s comparison of Internet access to television: most of use don’t use “free” TV from the airwaves, but instead get cable or satellite. And many people with subscriptions to TV services pay extra for premium content (such as extra sports channels or HBO). Similarly, most of us don’t use “free” Internet from Juno, but instead pay a monthly fee to an ISP like SBC or AOL.

But the analogy breaks down here. We should be able to get a “premium ISP” package from AOL that gives us online access to all of Time Warner’s music. But it’s not available. Not good enough. If we can’t pay for online access to quality music, we’re going to resort to the next best thing: free file-sharing networks.

We Are Robots

We Are Robots Watched an episode of We Are Robots with Ariella and Hannah. It’s hilarious.

“My credit card isn’t rejected. You’re rejected. I didn’t want that sweater anyways.”

I am AngryBot.