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Want to make cycling safer? Start with the brains behind the wheel.

How old are you and where were you when you got your driver's license?

I'm 31 years old and I grew up in a small town on the plains of Colorado. I got my drivers license after taking driver's ed in high school and passing a DMV test.

It was 1993. At the time, I only knew one or two people who had a cellphone. They hardly ever used them because minutes were very expensive. There was no such thing as texting. The town I lived in had no bike lanes, no roundabouts and GPS didn't exist. My first car with Anti-lock brakes was a 2001.

In the 16 years since I've had my license, I've never had another test. I've never had a refresh of the information I was taught in that one high school class. Most of my driver education since then has been handed to me as a carbon copy of a ticket from a cop.

Every year in America, 43,000 people die in automobile crashes. So on average, 118 people will die today. 1 or 2 will be a cyclist, and 11 of them will be pedestrians.

There are freak accidents, but I don't believe 43,000 people per year are dying in 'freak' accidents.

The cycling community is seeing a revolution in utility cycling. People are commuting more and more. Injuries and accidents are also on the rise. The motivation of the cycling community is to increase cyclist education and to encourage more people to ride. Every day my city planners are making more and more efforts to facilitate cycling. The problem is that the people they are educating don't have the ability to kill or injure others with their mistakes.

I have yet to hear a single proposal to continue the education of the people behind the wheel.

In this country you can go from 16 to 72, and take exactly one driving test. America had 48 states when your average 70 year old took his last driver's test.

Are you an Artist or Author? Give us a tip jar.

I bought an e-book yesterday. I don't have a microsoft reader compatible device, but I bought it in reader format.

I paid $17 dollars to Neal Stephenson, because I generally like his books. I paid, finished checkout, then spent the next 45 minutes or so installing microsoft reader, so I could download the file, and rip the drm off of it in order to get it to plain html (to read on the iphone). I did all this because I felt I should pay Neal for his work, but I didn't want a dead tree copy of it.

Had I not had this fuzzy motivation, I could have gone to IRC and had a drm free copy at no cost in probably.. 30 seconds, but Neal wouldn't have seen a dime.

So, here's the problem you face as artists. You no longer control the distribution of your work. It's got legs baby. If you charge too much, people will steal it. If you don't distribute it in a format people can use, people will convert it for you to the platform of their choice (after stealing it).

I know it seems like it sucks, but I truly believe you'll do alright! The business now is about fairness and an actual relationship with your audience. If we like your work and want to see more of it we'll support you. It's direct patronage.

Why you need a tip jar

At this point very few people are doing digital distribution that is palatable. I know that sometimes with agents and publishers and lawyers in the mix that all gets muddied. The thing to remember is that none of those people can control your audience or the distribution method any more. We choose it. Sorry, but we're in control again, it's the nature of the net.

So go with the flow. Put up a simple app on your website that says: "like what I do? leave me a tip!" and take donations. Outwardly, you don't need to be any clearer than that. Inwardly, count every cent of that money as a vote against closed formats and DRM. (by buying the microsoft reader format, I in effect voted FOR DRM.. which I'd prefer to avoid.)

Your publisher, rather predictably will then say something like "Your tips are taking money from us!". Tell them that in fact, they're not. People that want a printed book will still buy a printed book. People that want to put up with their ham handed attempts at ebook publishing with draconian DRM, will still put up with it. The ones that wouldn't have, were never their customers. We're yours, artist.. and we're damned loyal to you, if you let us be. ; )

Cellular Neutrality

My friends and I were recently chatting about cellular service providers. AT&T seems like it's going to be in control of the next generation of iPhone and we were comparing their plans. The scary thing we find is the nasty tendency to nickel and dime you for all kinds of services that, when you boil them down, are nothing but bits over a wire.

DRM Free Itunes Tracks contain water marking. Not a bad idea.

The EFF is digging into what hidden data is contained in the new DRM free tracks in Itunes

At the very least, it appears that your name is attached to each file.

This seems like a fine idea. People can do whatever the hell they want with their music, but if they share it widely, Apple and others know who to sue. (I'm not sure how the tech will actually shake out.. like all other methods, stripping this info out of the file for someone who's suitably determined would be a trivial act.)

QTFairUse6 2.5

Well, ladies and gentlemen, the iTunes Music Store (iTMS) just got useful.

With the release of QTFairUse6 2.5, you can finally, quickly and effortlessly, strip Fairplay DRM infection from your iTMS files without screwing up your iTunes library or playlists. This handy little app scours your library for offending files, captures them to non-DRMed AAC files, and replaces them in the database, so everything continues to work as before. It also backs up the infected ("protected" in industry parlance) files to a folder of your choosing, should you find that something didn't work right.

There is no command line to fuss with, no obscure settings, nothing. Just fire up the application, tell it to process all, tell it whether and where to save the original files, and hit "Start Conversion."

Since this was released last week, I have spent about $50 at the iTMS. I still don't like the sound of the files that much, but for things like re-buying CDs that I stupidly sold when I was strapped for cash in college but that I don't care that much about (Nirvana's In Utero, for example), it's quick and easy. And now that I know that I can keep the things I buy, I have no qualms about using the iTMS.

Hey Apple and RIAA thugs, if you're reading this: Do you understand what I'm saying? I will give you money if you let me keep what I buy. If you don't, I won't. It seems pretty straightforward to me, but then again, I don't have shit for brains.

Anyway, get this app and clean up your tracks before Apple makes you upgrade iTunes again and you have to wait for that to be cracked!

UPDATE:
For those of you (I'm looking at you, aaron!) who are unwilling to read the post linked above, here is a direct download link, which includes the files necessary for cracking iTunes 7.1.1:

What happens on the internet.. stays on the internet.

A 27 year old teaching student was denied her teaching certificate
because they saw her 'drunken pirate' picture on her myspace page and deemed it 'unprofessional'.

TSA Agents are People Too! (Just kidding. They actually aren't.)

(In the interest of full disclosure, it is important to point out before you read this that I HATE the TSA.)

In "Inside Job: My Life as an Airport Screener," journalist Barbara Peterson reports on her brief time working undercover as a TSA agent. She describes the hassles of working for such a difficult and maligned organization whose rules and procedures are just as confusing to the poor saps who have to enforce them as they are to you and me. She describes long hours, pissy or even violent passengers, and the kind of governmental waste we're unfortunately all accustomed to.

Ultimately, she concludes that the problems are due to poor management and inadequate funding, not due to the evil bastards working the lines at the US airport near you.

And I call bullshit.

If it ain't neutral, It ain't yours.

Net neutrality.. well.. basically.. without it, the net as you know it is borked. Pipe providers need to provide JUST a pipe and not give a crap about the traffic on it. Just like the colorado department of transportation should have no say in whether or not I can use the interstate in my car, or if I should have my own special speed limit because I'm not a corporation. ; )

Here's a pretty good sound byte sized summary video illustrating the problem.

Cops are above the law

A couple catches a cop speeding, is charged with stalking.

Anyone who knows me probably knows this about me: I hate cops. I mean, really. It doesn't matter if they seem like the nicest guys/girls in the world; I know that deep down, those fuckers are broken. They are sick. Psychopaths. Dangerous animals who should be caged or put to sleep. I really do hate them.

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