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The Internet

Journal Journal: Spreading Myself Too Thinly? 3

That does it.

People often discuss several clique web sites that require some sort of invitation before essential parts of the site become available. I'm not a Freemason; I'm not big on secret societies. I try to ignore those sites to the extent that I can because I don't want to jump in head-first without testing the waters.

Advogato

In my spare time, I maintain free software for PC and Game Boy Advance and am in the middle of writing an ambitious GBA programming tutorial. However, I'm not entirely sure that the projects I maintain have a high enough profile in the general interest community to attract the "certifications" that allow me to write anywhere but inside my own profile page. Free software advocates seem to prefer to certify people who design their software to run natively on popular free software operating systems that run on PC hardware. However, though I do make an effort to use cross-platform toolkits, I currently do not and cannot test my PC software on any platform but Microsoft Windows. I can't just switch to GNU/Linux because it has no drivers for peripherals that I own, and I cannot afford to purchase new compatible peripherals. I can't just dual-boot because I have processes that don't like to be started and stopped every hour with downtime. Therefore, it appears I'm not the model free software developer that Advogato is shooting for.

MetaFilter

MetaFilter doesn't accept new users because it wants the community to remain small, that is, not much over 17,000 members. The administrator discovered that not only does the MeFi system eat copious amounts of valuable traffic and computing resources, but also the MeFi format itself doesn't scale past that many members for at least two reasons: things would drop off a reasonably-sized front page too quickly, and it would take too much labor to clean up inevitable dupes. It appears that the administrator wants erroneous information to persist uncorrected on comment pages and wants prospective new users to migrate to competing sites such as MonkeyFilter. Likewise, people who found Kuro5hin locked-down for several months were driven to Hulver's site instead.

Orkut

This is the biggie. Orkut is a purportedly popular by-invitation-only social networking web site. From what I've gathered in comments to this Slashdot story, Orkut is just a big bulletin board, not much better than a Yahoo! Group and much slower and less stable. Second, it's said to be full of Brazilians who refuse to use English in communities designated as English-speaking. Third, be prepared to delete Portuguese spam from your internal private message mailbox. Finally, for all I can tell, it might not even exist; it could just be an elaborate hoax, as broad and deep from the outside as EA's old Majestic immersive game.

Oh, and the name "Orkut" means something not safe for work in Finnish.

Gmail

Other than the increased storage space, is there really anything significant that Gmail provides that other popular web mail doesn't? Does it warrant switching e-mail providers from SpamCop?

Here's an invite code. Or here's a site that doesn't need an invite code. Just try the site, and if you can't get the hang of it, quit.

I value my time. Between participating in online communities [S] [G] [D] [B] [N], exercising at a local gym, writing free software, and babysitting, I feel that I may already be spreading myself too thinly. In fact, I have had to become nearly inactive in several communities [K] [U] [P] [T] [R], to the point where some administrators have even deleted my account one or more times.

Perhaps when somebody decides that one of these communities wants me, by sending me a well-reasoned explanation of what I could get out of a membership, such as job leads in northeast Indiana, then I'll decide that I want the community. If you wish to contact me privately, feel free to do so.

Music

Journal Journal: How the Drinking Age Cements the Record Cartel 6

The Constitution for the United States of America is the supreme written law of the United States. It lays out a set of powers for an elected legislature called the Congress, reserving power over everything else to the several states (50 at last count). The Congress regulates commerce across state lines, but each state regulates commerce within its borders. This would seem to allow each state to set its own drinking age.

However, the Constitution has more to say: "The Congress shall have power ... To establish post offices and post roads". Nobody would want young intoxicated drivers on the highways, running the risk of colliding with postal trucks. Thus, courts have interpreted this grant of power as letting the Congress dictate the conditions under which states can qualify for federal funds for improving their highways.

Each state has power to set its own minimum age to purchase and consume "drinks" (beverages containing ethanol), but the Congress will not grant highway funds to states whose drinking age is less than 21 years. To make it easier to enforce this law, states have established separate licensing for establishments that serve food: "restaurants" admit minors, and "bars" don't. States also limit the amount of drinks that restaurants can serve.

A "rock band" is a group of people who routinely perform live rock music together in front of an audience. A rock band can choose to perform in any of several venues: a recording studio, a stadium, a theatre, a restaurant, or a bar. Problem is that many people won't spend money on a record they've never heard, and radio stations charge an exorbitant "independent promotion" fee to get a record played. Stadiums and theatres also charge an exorbitant venue fee, which many local rock bands cannot afford. This leaves restaurants and bars, and very few restaurants find it profitable to let rock bands perform on their premises.

Local rock bands also have trouble getting their records heard on the radio.

Therefore, minors have nowhere to turn to see a local rock band perform. A captive audience of teenage listeners is exactly what the largest publishers of recorded music (hereinafter "major labels") want, as they find it easier to cultivate a Britney Spears or *NSYNC than to find real musical talent. Instead of buying records at shows, they buy what they've heard on the radio, which the major labels control, or what they've seen in stadiums and theaters, which the major labels also control.

Google has more information on how the legal drinking age has affected the local music scene.

Linux

Journal Journal: Five Blockers to Linux 21

Conventional wisdom holds that at least the following five problems block the adoption of Free operating environments such as GNU/Linux on home computers. What steps have GNU/Linux advocates begun to take in order to fix these?

  1. The only consistency among graphical applications for GNU/Linux is that they consistently ignore the GUIdelines of their desktop environment.
  2. Best Buy carries no peripherals with a penguin on the front of the box. A penguin would indicate that the IHV has chosen to include working Linux drivers on the disc bundled with the hardware. "Print out your distribution's hardware compatibility list and carry it into the store" does not easily apply to gifts from relatives.
  3. Best Buy carries virtually no recent release proprietary 3D games designed for GNU/Linux, other than those few M-rated first-person shooters that include a Linux client binary on the CD alongside the Windows binary. Parents may find M-rated games unacceptable, or players may prefer MMORPGs or tactical simulations.
  4. Best Buy carries no recent release proprietary educational games designed for GNU/Linux. People buy computers to run Reader Rabbit.
  5. GNU/Linux lacks a DVD Video player application licensed by DVD Forum and DVD CCA.

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