The Pencil Guy: Hourann's illogical blog

Tell the Feds you want freer copyright law!

Tuesday 28 June 2005 at 1:00 am

Now that exams are over, I shall indulge in a little last-minute political activism.

Current Australian copyright law says it’s illegal to record a TV program to watch later, or copy a song from a CD to an iPod. Having finally realised this, the Government has called for submissions to a review of this law (background at and EFA). Thus, I encourage everybody to read the discussion paper and follow the included submission instructions. The deadline is July 1, which is unfortunately very close.

If you’re too busy to read the paper (or can’t be bothered wading through its 50 pages), I have a Plan B. Just for folks like you, I’ve made a standard submission that you can slap your name on and e-mail to the Attorney General’s department to say you want to be legally able to make copies of music and movies that you bought legitimately. In only a few minutes, you too can contribute to giving us less-sucky copyright law!

  1. Download the submission in Word, RTF, or format.
  2. Put your name and postal address at the bottom. They won’t mail you anything, but it proves you’re a real person.
  3. Edit anything you want. Delete things you disagree with, or expand on points you particularly care about. I’ve tried to be balanced, but if you want to, let your passionate anti-media-company feelings run wild!
  4. Save your work as a PDF or Word document, and attach it to an e-mail sent to michelle DOT tippett AT ag DOT gov DOT au being sure to mention that it’s for the Review of Copyright & Fair Use.

To repeat, the deadline is July 1 — that’s this Friday — so get cracking! It really doesn’t take much effort ;-)


It’s Batman!

Saturday 25 June 2005 at 11:58 pm

Huzzah, the exam dragon has been slain! I am now free to do other things … like go see the new Batman movie. (I’d been suitably impressed by the ads in the West last week featuring lots of bats overlaid on a picture of Perth.)

I’ll say this: Batman Begins is indeed cool, perhaps even cooler than Revenge of the Sith (hrm, will I be flamed for saying that?). Tama is correct to praise the treatment of Batman’s history, and there’s also some very nice cinematography. For fans of the comics, this is quite a good film, and if you’re just generally into CG explosions or cool jujitsu moves, there’s plenty to satisfy.

However, if you’re looking for even vaguely scientifically valid explanations for Batman’s cool toys, this is not the film for you. As Ricky observes, it all falls apart if you’ve done year twelve physics (I mean, c’mon, an oversized microwave is the best super-weapon you can concoct?). It also doesn’t help to have done first-year biochemistry (“protein-based enzymes”, anyone?), or any kind of mechanical engineering (what was with that car? sure it looked cool, but …).

Other than that, ’twas a nice way to relax after exams :-)

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Just briefly …

Sunday 12 June 2005 at 10:07 pm
  • Exams are evil. More precisely, having to study for exams is evil, particularly when there are so many other things that I’m supposed to be doing :-(
  • Peter Garrett is a hypocrite. First he calls for debate, then he flat out rejects nuclear power just like the ill-informed masses.
  • There is hope yet for the poor nations of Africa. Either that, or the G8 leaders are good at reshuffling money (but don’t we know that already?)
  • There are too many people with birthdays in June. After consecutive 21sts this weekend, I wonder how much longer my gifts budget will last …
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Flipping through the news sites …

Thursday 2 June 2005 at 8:30 pm

Some updates to yesterday’s post: it turns out that the white powder probably was harmless (where do you buy anthrax in Australia anyway?). Also, the Fairfax papers are carrying stories showing how other Aussies get harsh sentences overseas too, and Australia isn’t all that innocent either.

While browsing the news sites, I’ve also discovered that apparently, Busselton is part of Perth. Understandable from the BBC, perhaps … but The Age should know better!

Meanwhile, about a decade after people started asking for them, there are finally signs of a TLD for porn sites being approved. I am reminded of how once upon a time, people talked about how things change quickly on the Internet. Then ICANN was created.

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Media circus, 2.0

Wednesday 1 June 2005 at 10:37 pm

Now that the insanity of the live broadcast of a foreign court verdict is over (I mean seriously, since when does any TV station broadcast a court verdict? and for that matter, since when does ninemsn host a blog?) … and the stories about the horrors of Kerobokan Prison are wearing thin (sure, it ain’t no Australian gaol, but it’s not Bangkok or Phnom Penh either) … it had started to look like the media circus might just begin to calm down.

Then some nut starts sending letters containing white powder. Yes, it could be another hoax (like the anthrax hoaxes of 2001). Or it could be the first case of biological terrorism in Australia, ever.

There are dozens of Australians (and hundreds of other westerners) in Asian gaols facing similar fates, but it’s not until a couple of news producers decide that this one might boost their ratings that the masses start sending death threats to embassy staff. Fair enough, maybe Schapelle is innocent, and if so then twenty years imprisoned in Indonesia is a horrible fate … but she’s hardly alone, and I find it hard to believe that her case justifies the frenzied response that seems to have gripped this country.

While I’m ranting, some tales from work: bugs in Eudora can be the most annoying pile of poo sometimes. No one else’s mail client has hideous obscure bugs that stuff up the entire Windows networking subsystem, damnit! And speaking of stuffing up networking, the spyware sucks bigtime, but LSP-fix is awesome for being able to clean up the mess that’s uninstall leaves behind.

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