for 21 May 2001. Updated every WEEKDAY.
Dear Tiny Little Penis
Subject: thanks, and a tiny request
My attention was just called to today's column. It is, to my mind, the equivalent of a papal benediction.
Is it possible to receive a file that I can print out and hang above my computer for bad days?
I've been writing essays for public radio for years, and have recently been invited to be the humor columnist for informationweek.com, writing about such important topics such as fighting robots, and the effect of playing Englebert Humperdinck MP3s on microorganisms. But each piece is always a small victory whenever it succeeds.
Thank you for your gracious words.
I'm always pleased to hear that my words have brought peace of mind to one of my lost lambs. I'm not sure I feel comfortable characterizing my words as "gracious" but your praise certainly is.
Best of luck putting together those pieces.
Tiny Little Penis
Thanks, TLP, for the advice. You're one of them smart kids, huh?
The soon to be modern popular writer formerly known as the flack
I'm not sure I feel comfortable characterizing myself as "one of them smart kids", but I'm glad that I could be of service, nonetheless.
Old-fashioned and but not unpopular,
Tiny Little Penis
Is there some way or place that recycles old skills. Like correct spelling or, setting the point gap on a '39 Ford or field-stripping a BAR.
And what happened to all the old (tons) of beer openers? Church keys. They were everywhere, now there aren't any except in collections.
And don't put yourself down just because of the size of your penis, it's how you use it.
Hopeful in Asheville,
You've come to the right place, Al. I've been finding a way and a place to recycle old skills for many years now. Where there's a will to recycle old skills, there's a way. I'm not sure how you'll recycle your correct spelling, but since I don't know what setting the point gap or field-stripping a BAR means, those must be skills few people have, therefore, they've got to be marketable. Do you want to be paid, Al, or just appreciated for these skills?
As far as beer openers do you mean bottle openers, or discarded pop-top tabs? You're not the best communicator, Al, but I'm here to tell you that hope can take you a lot farther than you'll ever get just from being the best. Take a few recycled skills, add a healthy dose of hope, and you've got a clear path to the top.
And with that, Toronto opens up an 8-point lead against the season-long leader, Philadelphia. Toronto's the underdog, but they've got hope!
And, uh, they've got Vince Carter.
Recycled but skilled,
Tiny Little Penis
Hooked On Crank
Another great piece in Suck today. Well, you guys probably don't trust anything without a sneer. How about, "It was so good, I immediately cut it out and pasted it on my own Geocities website so everyone can read it without giving you hits."
We at Suck are happy to share our content with any and all comers, encouraging people to print our articles and hand them out on the street, add them to their own Web sites without attribution, or compose derivative works, such as lavish musicals, all without fee or license. We also like long walks on the beach and puppies.
Suck's corporate masters, however, frown on the piracy of our intellectual property and will sue you to your component atoms. Prepare to be ground to dust, worm.
Suck's corporate masters also like puppies, but only if they're done medium rare.
A better link for the "scourge of street musicians":
Music fees for Girl Scout camp: That's how the cookie crumbles 1996-08-26 South Florida Business Journal
While it's normally my practice to scour five year old copies of the South Florida Business Journal for links, I somehow missed this one. But you're right, it's perfect: No more "Puff the Magic Dragon" for you, you thieving little paramilitary urchins! No more "Happy Birthday"! No more "Starfuckers, Inc."!
Subject: Software is evil.
First off, I like Suck, and I'd probably like you, if we went out and got some beers.
I don't agree with what I think is the point of your essay: The Software Industry is even worse than other media industries in regards to unfair intellectual property constraints and poor customer satisfaction.
The problem with intellectual property in the digital age is that it's a lot easier to duplicate than it was back in the old Analog Years (5000BC-AD1990). It's also a lot harder to see and touch. People are still people, after all, and if it's invisible, it doesn't really seem to exist at all. That doesn't mean that it didn't take 60 mythical man-months to develop, and that it hasn't changed all of our lives. This stuff is valuable. More objectively valuable than creative intellectual property, since it's the result of engineers (a highly objective bunch, even if I am one), not artists. Some people might disagree on whether certain software "sucks", but there's no lack of lucidity about what it does. Engineering is also generally not a hobby for most people, and aside from the recent Free Software Movement (don't even get me started!), nobody's engineering in exchange for weed, or free beer at the bar.
Terry's a great illustrator, too, but the cartoon with the guy calling for tech support on his DVD hits the mark a little closer than Terry probably intended. Anyone who works on modern autos knows there's more software in a new car than in a new Palm Pilot. It runs in firmware, and is generally not executable on its own, but there's thousands of lines of code behind Audi Quattro, even more regulating fuel on a Saturn (if you were unfortunate enough to buy one). There's DSPs in just about everything you buy that does anything interesting (CD players, DVD players, clock-radios), and all of these have software built in. Your microwave's got more RAM than PCs did 10 years ago. So, every time you buy anything, you're paying a little license fee to Texas Instruments. Every time you buy a blank tape, you pay a little fee to ASCAP. If those cartoons were depicting a dark software-invasive future, then the future is now.
As usual, Microsoft is targeted as one of the evil purveyors of software inconvenience. Maybe it's because the following occurs in the linked address:
"Business models: The increasing numbers of failures in the .com space show a flaw in many of the existing Internet business models. Advertising as the primary revenue stream Operating under the assumption that market share equals revenue Free now, pay later"
Anyway, as the things you want to do get more and more complicated, more and more software needs to be written. The consumer demands it, and who am I to argue? The customer's always right. Right?
Oh, I don't think that the software industry is any worse than other media, just a little further ahead of the curve. Software has always been digital, so the industry has been coping with the problems that presents to businesses since its inception. Hell, Bill Gates first made a name for himself by berating people for copying Microsoft's BASIC for the Altair. Music and movies and books and other media have a whole physical, analog history to drag behind them, but as the content makes the transition to bits, so will the thinking of the companies that put them out. One obvious tactic is to follow what software companies have been doing, and doing pretty successfully.
That said, I think you're placing too great a distinction between what's "objectively useful" and what's "art." It's all bits perfectly reproducible bits and someone who wants one or the other is going to grab it if it's convenient. Take Napster, for instance. How do you combat that natural human tendency? Encoding, lawsuits, per use licensing, bundling everything that's become familiar to software buyers.
Heck, as you pointed out, it's already happening. It doesn't matter if you're going to record something original on a blank tape. A little payment to the ASCAP is already bundled in, whether it's appropriate or not.
"Whether it's appropriate or not" is the motto of the future.