Monthly Archives: July 2009

Digital Rights Management… who should be protected?

I received an email from Amazon this evening saying they were refunding a series of books I had purchased by George Orwell on the Kindle.

I called them to ask them why they were refunding the books; because I had never requested the refund.

They responded in saying that they were very sorry, they had no idea why the books were being refunded, but they needed to remove them off my kindle.

I told the representative that I wasn’t so much concerned about the book & the money; I knew I could buy it again in other formats; but I was definitely concerned about the fact that Amazon at any time could decide to remove books that I had purchased off of my kindle; and they’re only requirement was to refund my money (did they really even have to do that?).

What happens when the government decides to outlaw certain books; or certain publishers decide that they want to pull all books of the book shelf (like Oceania in 1984, many organizations have done this in the recent past to erase and rewrite their own history).

This is why I have no problem circumventing DRM (when possible).  I bought the book; I own the book.  Amazon should have no ability to “steal” my purchased book back from me; even if they wanted to refund my money.

The world is a changing place… prepare yourself!

Information Ethics.. an interesting discussion

 

Where does one actually draw the line of what is right and wrong in technology ethics, and how does one make the decisions.  Are things really black and white?

What if, let’s say, you were asked by your employer to steal data from another organization to give it a competitive advantage?  I think most of us would say that it is unethical.  Now, what if your employer is the NSA or the CIA and you’re a covert operative, and you are being asked to steal information from an enemy that can give your country a competitive edge, or protect the safety and welfare of your country. 

Now, in this case, and in many respects, we’re starting to get into territory that isn’t as black and white, I think many more people would be divided over this question than the original one.  But what is so different between the two scenarios that makes one so different than the other?

For example, in my job sometimes I am asked by an organization to execute penetration tests against their own organizational body.  So when when executing a risk assessment through penetration testing I call up the company, get a sweet gal on the other line of the phone, I make up some fictitious name, fictitious problem, and basically lie to her to deceive her into giving me secret and protected information. 

In so doing, I then build a report that outlines to the members of the organization where their weaknesses are, so that they can protect their systems against real hackers that would be out to deceive and retrieve real data for real harm.  But in this case, was it o.k. that I was lying and deceiving and breaking laws to prevent other bad people from lying and deceiving and breaking laws?

These questions in ethics aren’t necessary tied to Information Technology either; what about policemen that speed down the road so that they can get to the speed trap and catch speeders that are speeding down the road?

The intrigue of all these types of discussions is what so tightly draws me to questions of Information Ethics, and ethics as a whole.

Children’s Studio Session…

Amanda realized that because she takes so many pictures of other people’s children, that she never takes any pictures of ours… so she decided to do studio sessions of the children today… I’ll post each child’s picture in this Blog as I get them emailed to me 🙂

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The lament of a teacher

 

It used to be that presentations given to students enjoyed the warmth and camaraderie of poorly designed jokes that you had to be there to get, slaps on the back, hand shakes, and face to face jesting – however, today in an age of electronic bits and bytes, presentations are nothing but dead, cold bits of photons that get moved around by button clicks and emails…

We went Lobstahing yesterday…

We rented a cottage out in Belfast, froze to death sleeping about 100 feet from the ocean (probably about 50 degrees with all the windows down in the cottage); unfortunately; the tide didn’t come until after we were asleep, and didn’t go out until after we had left, so we weren’t able to have an evening serenade.  The moon on the ocean on the other hand was absolutely beautiful… although I’m still waiting for Amanda to give me a copy of the pictures.

We also jumped on a lobster boat for a couple hours in the afternoon; we all came back well-done; but the sea breeze, the smell of fish, and the wide open space of the ocean was very much enjoyed.

I thought a lot about Christella and Jediah and how they will take to all of the adventures that we get to have in this country of plenty.  For them, an adventure is going to the supermarket…

I almost tried to attempt the very tip of Maiden’s Cliff again with the family; but being that it has rained for almost 3 weeks straight, I assumed it would still be as soggy and buggy as it was two weeks ago when we attempted it.

 

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Here are a couple pictures I had taken, although my Saga severely over-exposes pictures apparently.

Why Missions work is so enthralling to me…

In the past two months I have read 9 books; 8 of which have been books on missions:

  • Lords of the Earth
  • Peace Child
  • Eternity In their Hearts
  • Bruchko: The Astonishing True Story Of A Nineteen-Year-Old’s…
  • Mountains Beyond Mountains
  • Through Gates of Splendor
  • End of the Spear
  • Let the Nations Be Glad

I have been amazed at the dedication and willingness of the men and women discussed in these books to put their own comfort aside and subjugate their bodies into the harsh realities of Stone-Age tribal living, willingly and selflessly for the love of people they have never met, people that don’t understand that love and sacrifice, people who often only know hatred and fear and killing, people that in many cases kill those brining the gospel of the good news. 

Add to that the lack of want for revenge of deaths, how the families just get up and carry on, once again trying to reach the stone age tribes that have tried to kill them, or have successfully killed spouses or children – it’s humbling and convicting.  They truly understand Matt 10:39:

“If you don’t go all the way with me, through thick and thin, you don’t deserve me. If your first concern is to look after yourself, you’ll never find yourself. But if you forget about yourself and look to me, you’ll find both yourself and me.”

But tonight, while talking with a friend, I realized there was even more to it that I found so enthralling.  I thought I would share some of my thoughts that I shared with him during our discussion on why missions work is so enthralling to me…

“I watched the EE TAOW video you referenced [on youtube]; it was pretty amazing.  Growing up in a Christian family (and in some ways, I’m sure not complaining), however, I missed out on the amazing experience of reading the gospel story as an unfolding book from start to finish.  As an adult, I have read many, many life-changing books, and I can appreciate the thrill of turning the next page to find out what happens next – but the bible is truly the most amazing story ever told. 

In my early life, and in so many children and teen lives, I see that they are or have been underwhelmed with the story due to the over-indulgence of the terse repetition in a mundane and monotonous way.  When the story is not a living and breathing story, but a bedtime story used to frighten people into moral submission.

It sadly seems that in a luke-warm “Christian based” society (Of course being most familiar with western Culture, I would say especially in the western culture), there is a lot of inoculation of the gospel that occurs in young lives by the way media, technology and advancements make passé the bible stories and take awe out of the unimaginable – that story that shows how the Creator would empty himself and take on our just penalty due to us in our own bodies for our own transgressions. 

I think that is one thing that inspires me deeply when reading these books of missionaries reaching tribes that have never been exposed to the gospel – these people haven’t had their “Christian vaccination” yet. 

I think the other thing is seeing people actually put their lives and actions in line with their convictions (something I think we all continue to try and struggle to do).”

Because of my experience with my “Christian vaccination” while growing up, where I turned the bible from the living and breathing word of God into a bunch of stories used to tell us the parameters of our moral imperatives.. I have always been afraid that I would inoculate my children against the Word as I was inoculated (innocently but detrimentally).  I found that I was not really in love with the stories of the bible, but only respecting them for the knowledge that can be found within. 

In the past I’ve read the bible to be smarter, but not to live better, I’ve read the bible so that I could teach others but I did not let it’s awe and wonder sink into my own flesh and bones, but I can feel that slowly changing…

In reading these stories of the missionaries that have died for Christ, but harder still, who also lived Christ – and hearing and seeing the joy and amazement being brought to the minds and hearts of people throughout the world by the revelation made known through the Word, I’ve realized, that within the right framework of a relationship with God, instead of a series of rules that must be followed – that through reading this book myself and to my children just the opposite is what will happen. 

If this book is so precious it’s worth dying over; how much more so is it worth living over!