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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.)

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'.

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.

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