Sunday, December 9, 2007

To the Spring '08 Students

Okay the first thing I want to tell you guys is that I had a great time in Angie's class this semester. It was one of my first classes that I actually felt like I was learning things that I could apply in the real world, not to mention we did a project that actually had an impact on the real world. The type of team work that was fostered in this class was incredible. We all meshed so well in our individual groups and then when the entire class worked together it was no different. The test and projects are not that hard at all if you just go to class everyday and pay attention. If you are having any problems in the class just go to Angie because she is very personable and willing to help you. The bottom line is if you are willing to put forth effort in your work and you are able to communicate with others then you will do just fine in this class. Good Luck


Sunday, December 2, 2007

Free Write Digital Piracy

"Federal law provides severe civil and criminal penalties for the unauthorized reproduction, distribution, or exhibition of copyrighted motion pictures, video tapes, or video discs. Criminal copyright infringement is investigated by the FBI and may constitute a felony with a maximum penalty of up to five years in prison and/or a $250,000 fine."

How many times have you seen that warning when you have popped in a DVD to enjoy an evening movie? Well according to that warning, if I were to be prosecuted to the full extent of the law for each movie that I have copied I would owe in the ball park of 100 million dollars and/or 2000 years in prison. For a while I was one of the biggest digital pirates around and had around 400 burned, copied, or downloaded movies to my name. I had become exceedingly good at finding ways around every new pirate protection that digital media came out with.

Now I am no longer a media pirate, in fact I enjoy buying and collecting movies. This year alone I have purchased close to 300 movies. Even though I have turned the corner on piracy it certainly doesn't mean that everyone else has. There are millions of Americans out there that enjoy the ease of downloading a movie or song without fear of legal prosecution. Piracy has become a drain on the entertainment industry and with entertainment being America's largest export, it will eventually become a drain on the American economy. In order to fight the adverse affects this will have on our economy, current ways of battling piracy need to be rethought.

In this blog I am going to use quotes and pieces from a digital piracy paper that I wrote freshman year that really helps to tell how piracy has become such a problem in the United States.

In a 2003 Progressive Policy Institute report the band Bare Naked Ladies said that “When the [clothing store] Gap went online, T-shirts didn’t become free.” In that statement they were pointing out the ease of stealing digital content as oppose to stealing a t-shirt from an online store. It is because of this reason that many businesses that are content providers have resisted embracing digital distribution for fear of it destroying their businesses because of the fact that it’s simply impossible to compete with free.

Now since many content providers are afraid to take their businesses online, they have to spend millions every year investing in technology to prevent piracy. For example every year there is some type of new encryption on at least one CD or movie that I buy that makes it impossible to play it on my on my computer or on anything other than the player that it was specifically designed for. Now that does two things, one it puts the cost of the new technology on us the consumers making the content that much more expensive and driving the demand for it down. Second, because of the piracy protection I am now unable to put the music or video onto such devices like these (show iPod). The piracy protection has stripped me of the ability to listen or watch the content that I paid for in the way that I choose, not to mention it impacts the sales of the portable media industry. The anti-piracy technology does the very thing that it is trying to protect against; it drives the demand for pirated content up because of all the costs and inconveniences that are passed on to the consumer through implementation of the technology. And I can tell you from my own experience that there isn’t an affordable anti-piracy technology out there that will not be cracked with in a matter of weeks, so the technology eventually becomes obsolete and a waste of money.

The laws that Congress currently has in place are just as ineffective as the anti-piracy technology. A student here at Clemson and employee of CCIT Ross Squires said that “the government simply does not have the time or resources to enforce its own laws on piracy, and the RIAA which is a private agency that has taken it upon them selves to uphold copyright laws, is only able to catch a handful of people every year. The laws that are in place now make it almost impossible for groups like the RIAA to trace private file sharing networks like the ones we have here at Clemson such as Waste, Optix Server and Clemson Hub.”

Freshman year I was a member of all three providers Optix Server, Waste and Clemson Hub, and I know that Clemson Hub was built and is being maintained by on RA right out of Lightsey Bridge. Now there are literally hundreds of gigs of movies, music, TV shows, games, and software that are shared through Clemson Hub, yet the student who built it and all the students that are apart of it don’t fear in the least of being caught, well why is that?

Well Clemson is protected by laws that prevent our IP addresses from being traced unless there is cause for criminal investigation and the fact that such little personal information is needed to register for Clemson Hub unlike Kazzaa, Limewire, or the old Napster makes it nearly impossible for anyone to be held accountable for the file sharing. The main thing is that it’s not really the internet that is being used to share the files, it’s the Clemson network, so unless someone from the RIAA is connected on campus and is a Clemson student (which the creator validates before you are registered) then anyone on Clemson Hub can rest easy about getting caught. It’s like this on campuses across the country, obviously things are going to have to change.

But I believe that it is possible to keep piracy to a low and manageable level if two things happen. First, the inconvenience of piracy must increase, including the difficulty in finding and downloading pirated content, and the risk of getting caught and punished for doing so. Second, both public and private measures must be taken to make it easier for consumers to acquire content legally.

Now to place all the inconveniences and burdens on the pirates the first thing Congress should do is to not interfere with content providers’ ability to identify and prosecute pirates. In the book Pirates of the Digital Millennium, President and CEO of the Motion Picture Association Jack Valenti said that “…if you cannot protect what you own, then you don’t own anything.” So for online piracy to be deterred, the content owners must be able to identify the perpetrators and initiate legal action on their own and not have to leave it up to the RIAA to investigate, identify, and prosecute every single situation for every provider.

Not only should Congress impose criminal penalties for the act copyright infringement itself but the steps that lead to widespread copyright infringement such as registering for peer-to-peer networks under a false identity to evade prosecution.

Another thing Congress can do is to modify the laws governing computer hacking to allow content producers to fool potential pirates with decoy files. Strategies like that have been used before and if it’s happened to you, you know it’s extremely annoying. What they do is they flood known peer-to-peer networks with files disguised as really popular songs and so you download it thinking you’re going to get the new John Mayer song or something and when you finally play it you hear the loudest, most gut wrenching, shrieking noise you’ve ever heard. The network is full of files like that and it becomes very difficult and time consuming to find the actual file that you want and thus encourages individuals to find their content through more legitimate means.

Like I said to help this situation we need make piracy more difficult and inconvenient, but that also means that at the same time we need to make downloading content legally MORE convenient. A PPI report done in 2003 by Shane Ham and Robert Atkinson states that “the stunning success of the iTunes service, which sold over one million songs in its first week of operation alone, proves that consumers are willing to pay for content if it is easy to find, flexible to use, and reasonably priced.” Now iTunes is not the only service that has shown promise in this field. I am currently an owner of an X-box Live account in which I only pay 50 bucks a year and I am able to cheaply download music, games, videos, and I can even rent or buy high definition movies without having to go out and actually buy a 300 dollar high definition DVD player to play the movies.

So for us to help our own economy fight the threat of digital piracy Congress needs to step up and be able to change as fast as the rest of the digital world and create laws and regulations that actually address the situation and allows those in the position to stop piracy to actually do so. If Congress and content providers are able to do this then we will all benefit from the cheaper, higher quality, quicker and more convenient downloads that will be at our disposal and America go on being the chief provider of the best quality entertainment in the world.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Applicant's Personalities

I read the article and I was a little surprised by what I learned. While I can understand that you want to find people that work well together, I happened to agree with Miguel Sousa Lobo of Duke University who states that by holding these rigorous interviews and finding people that "like" each other they are really closing the door on diversity because people normally like people who are close in personality to themselves. Now I would hate to be the guy at work that no one really wants to go out with after work, but that really should not be the concern of the employer. If I am qualified and can work efficiently with others then I expect to be at the top of the list of possible interviewees to be hired. A lot of times though it really depends on the job, for example, the job that was talked about in the article about working on the ship makes perfect sense. You don't want people together for weeks at a time if they can't stand to work with one another but for an office job it shouldn't be as big of an issue. I would suggest that if you're going to make the interviews tougher they should test the interviewee in different situations and not just test how they work with other people.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Dual Coding

Okay when I read this week's blog topic I immediately thought of this one commercial that I have just recently started to see, a commercial for Buckley's Cough Mixture. They have a number of commercials out that feature the same scenario. The have someone blind folded with two cups in front of them doing a taste test. Each cup has a label. One is labeled Buckley's and the other is labeled something like: bathroom puddle, spring break hot tub water, or work out perspiration. After the taste test the person says that the contents of the two cups taste the same and that they must be made by the same company. The screen cuts to a graphic with a picture of the Buckley's medicine bottle and two check boxes that are checked off that say "It tastes awful." "It works."

Now while I am pretty sure that I won't be running to the store to get this item the next time I have a bad cough, these commercials sure did stick out in my mind after the FIRST time I saw one of them. Those commercials often stick out in my mind because of the disgusting things they have their testers drinking along with their product. When I think of Buckley's I don't necessarily think of a good cough medicine right away but instead an image of those taste testers pops into my mind.

That is an example how Buckley's has appealed to my sense of taste and sight to allow me to make a connection in my mind to their name, although it may be a somewhat negative connection it is none the less a connection.

We talked about in class about how Hardees' commercials are geared toward men in that they always show big, greasy, thick, filling, cheeseburgers and say that if it wasn't for Hardees, some
men would starve. Now I agree that the target audience is definitely men but I disagree with the message interpretation that Angie gave. I found it interesting that when she saw it, she believed that the Hardees commercial was saying that men couldn't cook so that is why they go to Hardees. When I saw the commercial I thought that it is saying that men go to Hardees because all the other burger places don't ever give enough food and it if it wasn't for Hardees we would starve. I also found it interesting that Angie didn't even mention the women in the Hardees' commercials, because that is one of the main points that stick out in my head. I actually can't think of any Hardees commercials that come to my mind that don't have some woman in skimpy clothes or she is doing something seductive while eating a Hardees' burger or doing something before the burger shows up on the screen,

Anyway I thought that the dual coding that Hardees used was interesting in that it made a much stronger connection to its name in my head than it did in Angie's just because of what they decided to show visually and even what was audibly heard was interpreted differently because of gender. And as a little side note, every time I see those big nasty burgers on screen my mouth just absolutely begins to water even though I hardly ever eat at Hardees.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Group Work

Most people do not want to disappoint other people. When it comes to group work I find that most individuals will put their group work ahead of their individual work if only to keep the rest of the team happy. The degree of accountability is what I think makes a group very efficient. In my group we all got along very well and had a good time while working on our assignment. When we all got together we all did a lot of laughing; it made working on the project a lot more enjoyable. One thing I would change about how our group did business is our level of out of class communication. If we had a meeting or something we would usually send out information about it by email but there were times where we wouldn't always get those emails in time and a little bit of confusion would happen. For the second phase I would suggest that we all exchange numbers and communicate by phone. All in all I would say that I am in a great group that gets along very well and produces great results and I'm sure phase two of the project will reflect that.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

I wrote for the team blog this week

Friday, October 19, 2007

Interview Reflection

Walking into the Angie’s office for an interview, I have to confess, I was very nervous. That interview was probably the closest thing I have had to a professional interview where I felt like I was being assessed for my career job. That kind of feeling was new for me and it helped me to imagine what my answers and reactions would be in an actual interview. For the most part I was very proud of the way that I was answering questions. I don’t believe that I do so well when I’m having to answer questions quickly on my feet but after the interview I felt like I was well prepared and that I did a decent job answering those questions. There was an instance where I was stumped when I was asked if I had any questions for her about the company, luckily for me I hadn’t actually turned in a company but none the less I still wouldn’t have thought to prepare for that question. Another thing that I really need to watch when I’m speaking to someone who is interviewing me is my word usage. I didn’t even realize that throughout the interview I was using slang. While I’m sure I didn’t sound uneducated when I was speaking, it was still unprofessional and something that I will work on. Other than that I felt that this interview gave me a lot of confidence for when I prepare for the real thing. For the most part I believe that the interview went rather well and it is an experience that I will definitely remember and draw from.