Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Ed Foster, IT Consumer Advocate, Dies at age 59

Editor of Gripe Line at Infoworld, Ed Foster, passed away July 26, 2008

Ed Foster wrote one of the most important columns in the IT computer industry. I'm sure that lots of companies might not have appreciated him calling them out on their bad service, faulty products or restrictive End User License Agreements. But many of us consumers of computer hardware and software sure appreciated his work.

Ed wrote the kind of column that get people to subscribe. His was the column that I always turned to first. I trusted Ed. David Pogue at the New York Times has a bigger readership and Walt Mossberger of the WSJ is more influential, but Ed was the guy who cared about all the things that drove consumers of sophisticated hardware and software products nuts.

You can see in my blog title that "consumer advocate" is the second thing that I list as what I write about. Ed was an inspiration to me. He took on HUGE issues like End User License Agreements which have gotten out of control. Ed kept on exposing their draconian restrictions and suggesting better language for them. He was like my friends over at Boing Boing and EFF who care about the fine print--especially when it is used against consumers and citizens to make live more difficult or more frustrating.

Ed was a voice for the End User to the corporations. His family (and this publisher) should be so proud of him. Ed stood up for us. Read what some of his other fans had to say:
We have lost a staunch ally in the fight against industry injustices. -Rocktman2
Our industry has lost a true champion of not only what should be right but what should also be common sense - anonymous

Surely right now Ed is in heaven reviewing the fit, finish, software, and power supply to his harp to make sure it does not use DRM to broadcast its songs... econobiker

Smart corporations would use Ed as a way to easily find out what their customers were upset with. Instead of paying tens of thousands of dollars for end user research they could just go to Ed's column and see what people were unhappy about. (Of course it was public, which they probably didn't like, but since it was public they are more apt to do something than to bury it.)

There will be a hole in the page where is column lived, and there is a hole in the consumer advocate ranks today, but Ed's fighting spirit still lives on in the hearts and minds of all his loyal readers.

UPDATE: In lieu of flowers, Ed's family asks that donations be made to the Electronic Frontier Foundation in his name.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Why Amy Salit Rocks Radio

I've been a huge fan of the radio program Fresh Air for over two decades. I even met Terry Gross and one of the producers, Amy Salit once. (BTW, Terry Gross is really tiny. She could probably fit right into one of my Grandmother's old radio consoles!)

In the last few weeks the Fresh Air shows they have been ON FIRE with some amazing guests and fascinating, revealing interviews.

I'm going to list the ones I'm talking about so you can listen for yourself. With a few comments from me why they are so good.

After a Stroke, a Scientist Studies Herself
Neurological researcher Jill Bolte Taylor suffered a stroke 12 years ago. While the damage caused by a stroke is often devastating, Taylor was able to make a complete recovery after becoming her own experimental subject.

This is an AMAZING story. If you only listen to one episode of Fresh Air from this list, listen to this one. Of course I'm fascinated with the brain and all its aspects and this show really explores what it is like to have a certain kind of stroke. It is also a story about being present in the moment and what left-brain / right-brain splits are really like for the person experiencing the stroke.

Terror And The Unraveling Of America's Moral Fabric

According to investigative journalist Jane Mayer, the war on terrorism may have done as much political and social damage to the United States as terrorism itself. Mayer writes for The New Yorker, and she recently published The Dark Side.

Jane Mayer has got to be one of them most fair reporters on the planet. After hearing about all the nasty stuff that Bush and Cheney have done she STILL finds a way to bring some humanity and balance to Cheney. I think I'll call her and ask if she has been booked on Rush Limbaugh, Hannity or Fox and Friends. I doubt it, they have labeled her as the enemy and don't care to hear the real story even from someone who dug deep enough to find Cheney's heart.

In 'Torture Team,' An Administration Accused

In his new book, Torture Team, international lawyer Philippe Sands argues that the Bush administration's interrogation policy constitutes a war crime.

I've been reading Philippe Sands works and listening to his interviews for a while and I think Terry's questions really stand out in this interview. Even after everything she hears and knows, she still has the same incredulous questions as a number of people. "Can this really be true? Did these people really descend into the depravity of torture in a legal, practical and moral sense?"

She asks the questions that I would envision people ask when they find out that someone they love has just been found out to be guilty of pre-meditated murder. "Really? It can't be! What proof do you have?" and "Why?" and finally, "What will happen to them now?"

I know that torture is one of my "favorite" topics and hearing about it and reading about it is so depressing for many of us. But when you listen to Sands it helps you understand how we got to this place. There is still the issue of what next. Which I think is will be at the heart of the battle for the soul of our nation.

Seymour Hersh On Covert Operations In Iran

In the upcoming issue of the New Yorker, Seymour Hersh writes that the United States may be closer to armed conflict with Iran than previously imagined.

Again, Terry is the surrogate asking questions for the average intelligent person who STILL can't believe that the Bush administration would be so radical as to start a war in Iran.

Many of us have gotten over the idea that the Bush Administration will act as rational leaders after the truth about Iraq came out. But there is STILL a handful of people who can't believe that he will attack Iran. It reminds me of a scene with Jeff Daniels and Keanu Reeves in Speed. "You shot me, I can't believe it! They're giving you a medal for shooting me, you little prick! " says Daniels. "Harry... you TOLD me to." says Reeves.
Bush told us he was going to invade. There are some who think that Bush wouldn't be crazy enough to attack Iran when Iraq has been such a disaster. Listen to Hersh explain how in the minds of Bush and Cheney the Iraq war has been a SUCCESS, so that attacking Iran will be just an extension of their success in Iraq.

Elizabeth Warren On The Rising Cost Of Credit Debt

Harvard Law professor returns to Fresh Air to talk about how credit-card debt is becoming more costly due to increased fees and interest rates. Warren is a bankruptcy expert and an outspoken critic of abusive lending practices.

Dr. Warren is great for cutting to heart of who is really behind the economic tragedies of the current policies, programs and ideologies that are destroying the middle class in America. It was Warren who talked about the way that 50 percent of the bankruptcies were because of MEDICAL bills. Not because people were drinking too many lattes. She is clear speaker and willing to challenge the views pushed by the powerful credit industry. As we watch the current credit crisis we see what happens when the financial industry "regulates" itself.

I don't know which of these producers picked the guests and did the show prep, so I'm going to list them all just to extend my thanks for their good judgment. Terry Gross is the best interviewer on radio, but her questions don't always just pop out of her head. And the questions that get created and selected for broadcast takes some serious smart work and good editorial judgment.

I suggest you take advantage of their collective insights and talent to inform and inspire you in under and hour.

Terry Gross - Host, Co-Executive Producer
  • Danny Miller - Co-Executive Producer
  • Roberta Shorrock - Director
  • Dorothy Ferebee - Station Services Coordinator
  • Monique Nazareth - Producer
  • Naomi Person - Producer
  • Amy Salit - Producer
  • Phyllis Myers - Producer
  • Ann Marie Baldonado - Producer
  • Ian Chillag - Associate Producer
  • Patty Leswing - Associate Producer
  • Sam Briger - Researcher
Oh and if you need something lighter to listen too, check out her interview with Robert Smigel, I'm the proud owner of his hit album, "Come Poop with Me."
Comic Robert Smigel, Master Of 'Triumph'

Triumph the Comic Insult Dog's bark may be worse than his bite: The canine puppet has been mocking Hollywood celebrities for over a decade now. Robert Smigel, Triumph's creator, talks about the furry late-night fixture and his other comedy projects

Greatest. Fishing. Video. Evar

Sorry I haven't posted for awhile. I've been Marlin fishing.

This is how we catch fish on my planet. Here's the video.
(ht to

Friday, July 11, 2008

Kids! Try this at home!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Something to Cheer Us up After Yesterday's Defeet

Where the Hell is Matt? (2008) from Matthew Harding on Vimeo.

Matt dances around the world. From my friends at Boing Boing.

Yes, I know I spelled defeat wrong. These are the jokes folks!

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Good bye 4th Amendment. Nice knowin' ya.

Maybe because it was recently the 4th of July, but it occurred to me that WE here are closer to the Founding Bloggers, er Framers, than most of the people in the House and Senate.

Who is fighting for the Constitution? We are.
Who is fighting for the rule of law? We are.

We call, we write, we fax, we fight.
We scream, we shout, we call our representatives out.

From this day forward we should all remember who was fighting FOR the rule of law and who was fighting against it.

The people who willful negated our rights should have to pay. Politically, financially and criminally.

They think that this is too complicated for Sally Housecoat or Johnny 12 pack to figure out, they think that they can hide behind the “protect the homeland” slogans. But we are not as stupid as they are.

I would be nice if, through some brave person, we find out how the spying was used against us inappropriately (spying on journalists, innocent bloggers and political enemies) we take that info back to the people who voted for this and say, “This is what you supported.”

Knowing them they will claim the Bush admin obstructed justice and used National security as shield they will claim, “We didn’t know!”

We can say, “Yes but this was your chance to know and you willfully said you didn’t want to know.”

Cheney learned the lessons of Watergate, classify everything, put everything under national security. That was why we should have kept pushing for convictions of other players after Nixon. And this will why we will give to keep working for convictions of law breakers after Bush. They have figured out a way to "get away with it" and all it takes is a couple bucks and some scare tactics. Now every lawbreaking corporation has a template on how to get away with breaking the law.

I would say I weep for America, but I am also proud of us, those who work in honor of the Constitution. The founding bloggers would be proud of us. They would yell at the press. “We gave you freedom so you could expose this crap! What the hell were you doing?!” And of course they would damn all those who voted to destroy the rights that they worked so hard to articulate and write down.

Fox "News" and how they talk about Michelle Obama

Watch the video and then sign the petition to reject FOX's smears of the Obamas

One thing to note. I was discussing with Interrobang last night how the right loves to use a black person to trash a black person, a woman to attack a woman. So that is why they roll out Michelle Malkin. But what about Hannity and O'Reilly? I'm sure they have their lines down about how they are "just stating my opinion" and "the politically correct left wants to silence me!" But what does it say about these people that they are fighting for their "right" to smear and attack Michelle Obama?
What kind of person does that make them? This is what they do? They consider this their job? And this is mainstream? Sad.

The video is from Robert Greenwald of BraveNew films.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Fighting Fire with Money and Prayer


Darcy Burner's house burned the other day. The cause was traced to a faulty lamp.

I personally have put out fires that stared because of:
"spontaneous combustion" -- a hot lawnmower covered with greasy blankets.
Bottle rockets -- igniting dry grass along a highway
oil on a hot valve cover -- igniting a car engine
oil, grease and gas -- igniting a pot, a kitchen hood and a tank half filled with water

I also have seen the tragic aftermath of electrical fires and candle fires.

Fires happen.

The person whose house has burned needs the community to support them. This is what we do. This is how human communities respond. We are NOT an "every man for himself" community on the left (especially since there are a lot of women on the left!). I know many good people on the right who care for the problems of others, but often their concern is only for their immediate family or only members of their "tribe".

Darcy is a Democrat running for Washington State’s 8th Congressional District. If you can't provide financial support via ActBlue then say a prayer or think supportive thoughts. As one of my favorite grade school teachers tells me, the power of prayer is nothing to underestimate. (On a side note, for those who are interested: Patron saints of firefighters: Barbara, Catherine of Siena, Eustachius, Florian, and John of God)
If you have a blog and want to write about your concern for Darcy, please do. If it helps, simply recall your experiences of fire and loss. If you want to talk about the courage to rebuild and keep fighting, do that. If you want to write about the despair that you feel that the world is coming to an end after a tragedy great. My friends from the NOLA community bloggers have lots of stories.

My friend Gentilly Girl is still working to get her home rebuilt. The creator of FYYFF, Ashley Morris, will never get a chance to rebuild after his tragic death, but his spirit lives on in his friends who are holding a benefit in New Orleans (link). We ALL have stories of loss, hope, destruction and rebuilding to share. And that is what our community is about. We are real and electronic, far away and as close as our computer screen. We are the people we turn to when we have a tragedy and the ones we love to share our victory's with. As my good friend Athenae at First-Draft reminds us, when we get knocked down we have to get back up. And it can be hard, so we reach out a hand to help each other out.

I often write about people who want to divide us. The people for whom violence is the response to every problem. Who think that, like the Grinch, it is things that make up a life.
Things are important, but people and spirit more so.

This is how we come together on OUR side. We unite in support.

I'll never forget the support I got, financial, written, prayers, letters, blog posts, stories, fairy tales and songs. From various different skill sets and backgrounds people united to support me and to fight back.

Darcy's one of us. Let's help.

Update: I added the credit to the photo of Darcy at her home. Love the t-shirt that she is wearing. It looks like the kind of thing my brilliant nephews would request. You can get one of the t-shirt from Radical Rags