The Dysmey Blog
The personal weblog of Andy West.

June 2009
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Jury Duty
Filed under: General, Politics
Posted by: Andy @ 10:06 pm

jury duty

Today I had to take the day off because I was called to jury duty at Grant County Superior Court #2.

The courtroom was in the highest floor of the County Office Building because the judge mandated thus until the Courthouse itself be cleansed of the mold and mildew that was making everyone there sick, including the judge himself. The County is in dire financial straits; but the expense of cleaning out the Courthouse beats having an abandoned building in the center of a downtown that already has enough abandoned buildings.

So, at noon I drove to Marion north from Fairmount. I drove up Adams Street,

— past the abandoned RCA/Thompson plant with its plain of concrete parking lot riddled with grassy cracks,

— past the water park where a United Technologies Essex plant once stood,

— past residences in various states of repair and habitation,

— and finally into the forlorn downtown itself.

I parked the car and entered the building, joining a half-dozen other potential jurors in front of two elevators. The elevators are very tiny, having room for only three people at a time. (The complex was built in the days before high-fructose corn syrup.) At the sixth floor was the big hall, in front of which was this metal detector next to a faux-wood and metal table. The woman sitting there signed us up, then told us that there was a continuance, meaning the trial was postponed. We were given a receipt proving that we showed up, and told we could go.

t-mobile cracked

I discovered thru Slashdot that T-Mobile, my cellphone provider, may have been cracked in a very bad way this weekend. We are talking proprietary operating data, customer databases and financial records, which the crackers stupidly tried to sell to T-Mobile’s competitors. What makes them think a competitor would want to get in trouble with the FBI for buying stolen property?

Here is another take on the T-Mobile crack. T-Mobile itself is quiet about the crack, especially as the news has bubbled up into the mainstream press.

state budget cracked

Well, the budget for the State of Indiana is cracked in the collective head. One side accuses the other (and the governor) of chicanery. The other side accuses its opponents of grandstanding. This is the ethos of Indiana’s legislature going into a special session this coming Wednesday.

A budget has to be agreed to by July 1, or the State government will shut down. This includes Ball State, my employer; at worst, I may end up with an unpaid vacation. Needless to say, there will be no new car to be bought right now, since my savings may be required as backup support while I wait for … those people … to quit bitching at each other and write up a budget for … that person … to sign into law.

note to self: do not use chrome

There are people who believed that the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) had forsaken any development on the tags that underlie all Web pages. These people founded the Web Hypertext Application Technology Working Group (WHATWG) to carry one that development with the goal of a new standard, HTML5. After apparent neglect of its XHTML2 project, an uproar on its latest accessibility standard and the emergence of microformats, the W3C conceded its neglect and agreed in 2007 to join with the WHATWG to help it work on HTML5.

The problem is that in doing so, WHATWG exposed itself to the corporate meddling that had brought about the neglect in the W3C. This is especially evident in the way that HTML5’s <video> tag is supposed to work. The WHATWG wanted to use the open-source video codec Ogg Theora; but a patent FUD campaign from Apple and Nokia forced WHATWG to scuttle the codec. That brought about an uproar that has hardly cooled down. The Mozilla Foundation has ignored it, incorporating Ogg Theora in its upcoming Firefox 3.5 release.

Now we have Google, which is incorporating the <video></video> tag in its Chrome browser. To make the tag work better, Google is using a codec called FFmpeg. FFmpeg is available under LGPL. The problem? Google obtained a patent license to use FFmpeg. Under LGPL, if a patent license does not allow royalty-free redistribution of the FFmpeg library, then FFmpeg must be dropped. Google does not see why it should drop the codec, nor does it see why it should consult the Free Software Foundation (FSF) (the authors of LGPL) on this matter. This is causing another uproar; and it is likely that the FSF will look into the matter, whether Google likes it or not.

As for myself, I will not put up with this nonsense. I will not install Chrome on my home box, and will remove it from my work box. Firefox 3.5 will not be out until the end of the year. And, frankly, I am not all that excited about the <video> tag, anyway. Why isn’t <object> enough?

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