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Archive for the ‘ethics’ Category

Knockoffs

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Knockoffs:

The knockoffs can be alluring.  They can look virtually the same, especially in a catalog or on a web site.  A customer of mine called awhile back and said “I have two of your hammers, and they are both broken.”  I immediately said that he should send them to me so that I could repair them and do a quality-control analysis.  When I got them I was relieved to see that they were not made by me.  It turns out that he had purchased Chinese-made versions of my tools from a store that was part of a national chain (you know the one), and, according to my customer, he was told that they were made by Glen-Drake even though my name was not on them.  The similarities were convincing.  The Chinese versions even had the numbers I assigned engraved on the heads.  Maybe the imitators think that those numbers are some kind of a standard for hammers.  Or could it be that they think the numbers might help convince people that the hammers are in fact made by Glen-Drake?

An imitator of one of my tools even used my tool for the front photo on their packaging.  Now that’s just rude.  But here’s the real problem.  Imitators don’t need to be creative.  They don’t need to identify a problem.  They don’t need to design a solution to a problem.  They don’t need to build and test prototypes.  They don’t need to determine and assemble the best materials to deliver a product that will stand the test of time.  All they need to do is send something overseas to be copied, and that’s a callous and insidious form of theft.

If someone walks into my office and steals my wallet, the police will be all over them.  But if they make cheap knockoffs of the tools I make, then I have to hire a lawyer to make them stop, which is about all I can expect.  Then someone else will do it, and I have to go through the whole process again.   Cottage toolmakers can’t afford to pursue the knockoff makers, even if that’s the way we want to spend our lives, and it’s not.  Do the thieves know this?  You bet they do.  Criminal audacity is astounding.

[Some people consider me a “jack of all trades” (as a pejorative) others consider me a “polymath” (might be kindly over reaching). But either way, I am or have been involved in lots of different crafts and fields. And in each one it occurs to me I hear the cry of “cost”. Small stores hear it. Individual makers hear it. I am drawn to beautiful tools that function well and are a delight to behold and so I hear this all the time. No doubt, the cost of fine tools, especially locally made non-production stuff limits the sheer number of tools I can own (field doesn’t matter… guitars, amps, woodworking tools, electronics, bicycles, camping, hiking, photography, and the list goes on and on). But I accept that in that the tools I do own are joyfully made, used, and earn their right to the resources I devote to them.

If we care about the things we do, how we do them, and where they are done… who grows our food, butchers our meat, designs and builds our furniture, cars, houses, tools, etc. than in order to get everything lined up the way we wish, we’re going to most likely have to pay more. I’ve struggled with that choice in the past, but never complained about it. (You’re x is too expensive. Sell it to me for less…) But I don’t struggle with it anymore. I accept that I will have fewer things, but they will be joy inducing or I will not partake. And those things will, by the nature of my choosing, require less care, less fussiness, and be superlative in every way.

Knockoffs are unacceptable. I’ve seen the effect on businesses in which I’ve worked… where the knocking off product is so easy that it is not even railed against by the industry… it’s expected and accepted, if hated. To which I say save up… by the original. Work around it for a while. It’ll only improve your skills. Support the ideas and the folks that originate them. Buy things that are made close to where you live, even as you enjoy the benefits of being a part of a global community. Buy only things that bring you great joy when you see them, use them, and care for them.]

Written by Daniel

June 18, 2015 at 9:26 am

Posted in advocacy, design, ethics

In an Uber all graphite and glitter

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In an Uber all graphite and glitter:

Sure, maybe O’Reilly’s post bugged me because he’s playing the familiar game of using recent Apple product news as a strawman to compare to an utterly different kind of technology, while throwing in coded phrases like “Apple hype machine.” (Replying to a comment on his own article, O’Reilly declares, “What I wrote wasn’t really about Apple Pay.” Of course it wasn’t.)

But I think what really rankles is that Tim O’Reilly is applying his vision to a Silicon Valley utopia where people take Ubers to their Cover-booked restaurants, always operating on their own recognizance and never, ever waiting for the check. There’ll be spandex jackets, one for everyone.

Apparently these people never go to the supermarket.

[Common problem… Apple is used for so many things unrelated to Apple. OTOH, people are now making pants with larger pockets because of Apple. So if that matters to you, regardless of what phone you carry, thank Apple.]

Written by Daniel

October 2, 2014 at 12:14 pm

Posted in ethics, tech

Surveillance by Algorithm

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Surveillance by Algorithm:

Indeed, ever since Snowden provided reporters with a trove of top secret documents, we’ve been subjected to all sorts of NSA word games. And the word “collect” has a very special definition, according to the Department of Defense (DoD). A 1982 procedures manual (pdf; page 15) says: “information shall be considered as ‘collected’ only when it has been received for use by an employee of a DoD intelligence component in the course of his official duties.” And “data acquired by electronic means is ‘collected’ only when it has been processed into intelligible form.”

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper likened the NSA’s accumulation of data to a library. All those books are stored on the shelves, but very few are actually read. “So the task for us in the interest of preserving security and preserving civil liberties and privacy,” says Clapper, “is to be as precise as we possibly can be when we go in that library and look for the books that we need to open up and actually read.” Only when an individual book is read does it count as “collection,” in government parlance.

So, think of that friend of yours who has thousands of books in his house. According to the NSA, he’s not actually “collecting” books. He’s doing something else with them, and the only books he can claim to have “collected” are the ones he’s actually read.

This is why Clapper claims — to this day — that he didn’t lie in a Senate hearing when he replied “no” to this question: “Does the NSA collect any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans?”

If the NSA collects — I’m using the everyday definition of the word here — all of the contents of everyone’s e-mail, it doesn’t count it as being collected in NSA terms until someone reads it. And if it collects — I’m sorry, but that’s really the correct word — everyone’s phone records or location information and stores it in an enormous database, that doesn’t count as being collected — NSA definition — until someone looks at it. If the agency uses computers to search those emails for keywords, or correlates that location information for relationships between people, it doesn’t count as collection, either. Only when those computers spit out a particular person has the data — in NSA terms — actually been collected.

[How broken is a system that allows people to hide behind lies of omission rather than demanding common use, or explain their definition. Sad.]

Written by Daniel

March 5, 2014 at 8:09 am

Posted in ethics, news, security

Giving FIOS a bad name

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Giving FIOS a bad name:

Please read this piece by David Raphael.

Summary: They’re slowing down access to AWS. If you host your application there, your readers and users get lower performance. Their reason, presumably is that they want Amazon or Netflix to pay to get the performance back (Netflix runs on AWS).

[snip -ed]

This is an outgrowth of a recent court decision that says they can do this.

But they probably will re-think it if it gets them the bad name they deserve.

[Shameful. Where’s gigabit Internet I can feel good about?]

Written by Daniel

February 5, 2014 at 4:33 pm

Posted in ethics, tech

Continuations : Twitter: Life is Unfair?

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Continuations : Twitter: Life is Unfair?:

So why does the Twitter story remind me of Prof. Hausman’s admonition? Because it demonstrates the relative importance of hitting upon the right thing at the right time over early execution. This goes a bit against one of the historic ideas held dear in venture capital that execution matters more than ideas. And yes it remains true that an idea alone is worthless, you have to build something. But beyond that it turns out that building the right thing at the right time will let you get away with all sorts of mistakes. Conversely, hypothetically perfect execution but too early or too late or on the wrong variant will not get you very far. For everyone working really hard on a startup that’s not going gangbuster this seems, well, unfair.

So there you have it. Prof. Hausman was right all along. Actually not quite. I used to think that but more recently I have changed my outlook to: Life just is. Unfair implies some kind of moral standard. Somewhere somebody right now is building the next big thing and most likely it is not you. Just accept that and you’ll be happier.

[Raise your hand if you think it’s you?]

Written by Daniel

October 14, 2013 at 8:05 am

Posted in advocacy, education, ethics

Fukushima leak is ‘much worse than we were led to believe’

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BBC News – Fukushima leak is ‘much worse than we were led to believe’:

The Japanese nuclear energy watchdog raised the incident level from one to three on the international scale that measures the severity of atomic accidents.

This was an acknowledgement that the power station was in its greatest crisis since the reactors melted down after the tsunami in 2011.

But some nuclear experts are concerned that the problem is a good deal worse than either Tepco or the Japanese government are willing to admit.

They are worried about the enormous quantities of water, used to cool the reactor cores, which are now being stored on site.

Some 1,000 tanks have been built to hold the water. But these are believed to be at around 85% of their capacity and every day an extra 400 tonnes of water are being added.

“The quantities of water they are dealing with are absolutely gigantic,” said Mycle Schneider, who has consulted widely for a variety of organisations and countries on nuclear issues.

“What is the worse is the water leakage everywhere else – not just from the tanks. It is leaking out from the basements, it is leaking out from the cracks all over the place. Nobody can measure that.

[How many times do we need to go down this road? And guess where that sea water is headed?]

Written by Daniel

August 22, 2013 at 2:03 pm

Posted in environment, ethics, health, news

Wikipedia Corruption

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Wikipedia Corruption:

Andrew Leonard, writing for Salon, unmasks a blatantly corrupt Wikipedia editor:

The mind boggles. After years of styling himself as someone who specializes in scrubbing Wikipedia pages clean of “conflicts of interest,” Qworty/Young admitted to editing “the Wikipedia articles of writers with whom I have feuded.” How can Wikipedia possibly allow this man to keep his editing privileges? And how are we, the general public, supposed to trust Wikipedia, when Qworty’s record shows how easy it is to work out personal grudges and real-world vendettas in this great online encyclopedia for years without anyone taking action?

[Troubling.]

Source: Daring Fireball

Written by Daniel

May 23, 2013 at 10:58 am

Posted in advocacy, ethics

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