August 23, 2005
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A Mickey Mouse decision if ever there was one

The US Copyright Office announced that it is thinking of creating an IE-only website. humeniuk, one of the Page Editors for web hosting and development, thinks that's a bad idea.

Once upon a time, a Hollywood lobby group led by the Walt Disney Company began to push for a 20-year extension to the copyright protection term for literary and artistic works. Why? Because Disney's iconic mouse, Mickey, who first appeared in two short cartoons in 1928, was but a few years away from being released into the wilds of the public domain. Disney enlisted the help of California Congressman Sonny Bono (seriously) and in 1998, the Bono-drafted amendment was signed into law. The new law was regarded by many as an egregious abandonment of the protection of creative expression in favor of a more pragmatic protection of corporate greed, a feeling that was reinforced not long after with the passage of the rigorous Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

It is easy to argue that the U.S. Copyright Office had become Mickey Mouse operation long before this, but this made it official. This is apropos of nothing except that it came to mind when I read about the Copyright Office's decision to release an IE-only version of their new Web-based copyright pre-registration service. The whole thing struck me as being (forgive me) rather goofy.

This casual disregard for the Web Standards movement ( is highly symbolic. An excuse given by the company providing a key engine of the service, that "testing is extremely costly," reads like a quotation from the business plan of everyone's favorite corporate success story, Microsoft.

In the example of many other industries, from the building of railroads to the making of movies, the standardization of the Web is essential to it reaching its ultimate potential. In addition to making the Web more accessible and affordable to you and me, a widespread acceptance of Web Standards ( would spur the Web's growth faster than a George W. Bush tax cut.

But don't count on it any time soon. Standardization benefits everyone but the monopolist who seeks to leverage exclusivity (whether Mouse or OS) for profit. The decision of the Copyright Office to bow to Microsoft's strategic non-compliance in implementing a service that will benefit companies like, oh, let's say Disney, completes a sublime circle in this game of "show me yours, I'll show you mine" being played by self-interested conglomerates: Microsoft, Disney, the U.S. government.

Hard to blame them, really. When you live in the Magic Kingdom, it's easy to make believe.

JOrzech, the Page Editor for the Microsoft Word topic area, wonders if what a lot of people suspect is, in fact, the case.


  1. Exclusive control by one group of the means of producing or selling a commodity or service: "Monopoly frequently ... arises from government support or from collusive agreements among individuals" (Milton Friedman).
  2. Law: A right granted by a government giving exclusive control over a specified commercial activity to a single party.

  3. ???A. A company or group having exclusive control over a commercial activity.
    ???B. A commodity or service so controlled.

  4. ???A. Exclusive possession or control: arrogantly claims to have a monopoly on the truth.
    ???B. Something that is exclusively possessed or controlled: ...showed that scientific achievement is not a male monopoly.

Anything that is controlled by the owner and does not give an option to the user for his/her preference, seems to be a monopoly.

I like the fact that I can launch IE and choose Google or Yahoo or whatever I want as my search engine. However, there are some websites built "best to be viewed using IE" or "Netscape" ...why must everything be so proprietary? I mean, I work for patent and trademark attorneys and if the firm chooses a browser other than IE, then apparently, we will be forced to use IE because that's the only browser that the Copyright Office supports. Are they that technologically challenged that their websites or their submissions can only be via IE? Or has MS bought the government as well?

Tip from the Page Editors: Don't forget the bucket

A few months back, our teenaged daughter moved out of the house and into her own apartment with a friend of hers. Last week, she called and told us her bathroom sink was draining slowly, and asked us to come look. We went over, tools in hand, and took the drain apart to clean it out, using a bucket to make sure we didn't spill water all over the place. After an hour or so of pulling unidentifiable stuff out of the pipe, we put everything back together, but forgot to stick the bucket back under the pipe -- just in case. Predictably, the pipe wasn't tightened enough, and we spent another half an hour or so cleaning up the mess under the sink.

What's this got to do with Experts Exchange? A lot. When you're answering a question, make sure you have all of the issues covered as best you can. Giving a solution that doesn't solve all of the problems, or worse, creates another problem, isn't helping anyone. Take the time to understand the problem, and if it's appropriate, test your solution before you post it. And never walk away saying "It's someone else's job to clean the water up off the floor."

Editorial (caution: political opinion)

We really do try to keep our own politics out of EE's newsletter; for one thing, we think everyone's entitled to an opinon, and it's not terribly fair for us to promote an agenda here. But having said that, we think there are some people in Washington who really need to take a long, hard look at the implications of what they're doing.

Today, the issue is (and we're going to beat around the bush a little because we don't like the newsletter getting caught up by someone's content filters) ICANN's proposal to create a new top-level domain (TLD) to be used for "adult" sites, which was scheduled for final approval by ICANN last week after five years of discussion and debate; the final vote has now been pushed back another month. It wasn't just the US Commerce department that objected; it was also the head of ICANN's own Governmental Affairs Committee, who wrote in his letter to the ICANN board, "I am omitting the specific TLD here because experience shows that some email systems filter out anything containing the three letters associated with the TLD."

To quote Homer Simpson, "Doh!"

One has to wonder what these people are smoking. Isn't the whole point of the new TLD to make it obvious what kind of content is on a particular site? Not all that long ago, there was one industry that embraced computers (notably video cards), the Internet, and led the parade in e-commerce. Unfortunately, that industry was forced to use, for the most part, domain names that ended in .com, because that's all there was available. As a result, who knows how many people have wound up at a site scrambling to close seventeen pop-ups before the boss walks by. Who knows how many children have been exposed to photographs and videos of situations they might not need to see for a few years. And who knows how much spam we all get because we can't block all of it.

According to the ICM Registry, more than 10 per cent of all online traffic and 25 per cent of all global net searches are for adult content. ICANN's proposal, it seems, would put a big dent in all of that -- or at least lend some honesty to it. At least you could tell that a specific URL would probably contain content not appropriate for your mother or your priest. You could check your 13-year-old's browsing history and get a good read on what he's looking at when he should be doing his algebra homework.

Lest anyone think we're picking on governments, privacy groups have also expressed concern that the new TLD will encourage censorship. We think that's nonsense -- if only because there's nothing in the rules that says any adult site must change its address. Does that mean that governments won't filter for the sites? Of course not -- but it does mean that the market will determine whether those sites exist. Does it mean that governments won't try to prohibit the creation of those sites? We'll bet that some will, but they'll fail, because someone somewhere will be happy to get his hands wet in the immense flow of cash in the adult website business.

Most -- not all, but most -- of the people who look at adult sites do so by choice, and that's their business. If the Commerce department wants to deal with a REAL problem, then it should do something about the 225 unsolicited advertising email we receive every day -- something that is truly offensive.

Michael Brecker

We keep forgetting that MHenry, in addition to being one of the Page Editors for web development software, is also a fairly talented musician whose kids think it's cool that he was once in a band.

With apologies to my editor and to all who only expect technology-related stories:

Aside from dark-haired women with skinny legs, my one true joy in life has always been music. I grew up in a small town in Arizona where the only "culture" available was delivered by radio or television. I'm not saying Arizona is a cultural wasteland. There is plenty going on in Tucson and Phoenix. Even Flagstaff and Sedona have distinct appeal, but if you live in small-town Arizona, better learn to love the smell of dust and agriculture.

My father was a jazz freak. He taught me early on to appreciate Dave Brubeck, George Shearing, Ray Charles (yes, even his country stuff), and many others. Apparently, jazz music is passed from father to son, more a case of nurture than nature. I played the saxophone in school bands; as such, I loved to listen to groups that featured the sax. I listened to Coltrane, Parker, Getz and Turrentine among others, and then began to explore the Jazz scene of the late 1970s.

I first heard Michael Brecker on a Billy Cobham's Crosswind album. (Yes, it was an album. For those of you too young to understand, an album was like a compact disc only much larger and, mostly, black. You can imagine the size of the IPods we had to carry to play those!) He was also, along with his brother, Randy, one of the most requested studio musicians throughout the 70s and 80s, and at one point, even played with Frank Zappa. The Brecker Brothers were one of the seminal groups of jazz fusion, and his solo albums border on the divine.

Michael Brecker quickly became my favorite sax player. He had the speed of Parker, the adventurousness of Coltrane and, when appropriate, the smooth, soulful sound of Turrentine. He is a true master of his instrument. His style is a lot like Coltrane (the highest praise I can think of) but where Coltrane sometimes seemed to get a little lost at times, Michael Brecker never seemed to miss a note. Even in his wildest experimentation, the modes he chose never sounded out of place; he never appeared to follow an idea that petered-out or that died of entropy. He is precise, experimental, has the tone of a God and, recently, a person who is very ill and in need of help.

"Michael Brecker has been diagnosed with MDS (myelodysplastic syndrome) and it's critical that he has a bone marrow or blood stem cell transplant," read the words from his wife at I read recently that he is so ill, he has been forced to stop playing and touring altogether. Apparently, none of his immediate family is a close enough match to donate; he has to seek help from the public.

I've never written anything like this before. I'm usually a very cynical, smartass kind of guy. I just felt like I owed this to him for all the joy he brought into my life. If you can, please consider being tested as a donor. If you can, please consider posting a link to his website or emailing your friends.


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Page Two: More News and Notes
Nata's Corner: CWS: Criminally Wicked Scum

woman in specticalsIf you've never run into CoolWebSearch, the company that has created dozens -- maybe hundreds -- of variations of itself to hijack your computer and install software, then consider yourself very lucky.

If you're not familiar with CWS and its nastiness, take the time to read through the site of the guy who wrote HijackThis. You'll get the idea: the people who put out CWS are not nice. Now comes the news that a CWS variant is behind an identity theft ring that has compromised about 50 banks, according to security firm Sunbelt Software.

Speaking of scum, it looks like there are three gangs of virus writers out there who are trying to outdo each other, and they're using our computers as their battlefield. They're all writing variants of the Zotob worm, which hit a Plug 'n Play vulnerability in Windows 2000 and Windows XP systems beginning a week or so ago. The worm knocked out computers at major news sources.

It's not just the virus writers, though. I had to laugh when I saw that some game players are using bots to "virtually mug" other players, stealing their virtual goodies, and then turning them into real cash. What made me stop laughing is that I also saw something somewhere that says the same kinds of bots are being used by the phishing types to run their scams. Fortunately, there are some people who fight back (warning -- turn your sound off -- the background music is a little annoying after about twenty seconds).

Inside the numbers
ameba, one of EE's prominent Experts, provides us with a list of newly earned Certificates. His list of all of the Certified Experts is located at his site. The list below covers the period from August 7 through August 21.
Expert Certified in Topic Area
thenelson Arji omgang angelIII ajkamp Erick37 mgh_mgharish StephenCairns MannSoft WoodyRoundUp rdivilbiss Lakio hongjun war1 craylord RadikalQ3 Javatm sciuriware grim_toaster kbbcnet harbor235 Joesmail samtran0331 Wizard Wizard Master Master Master Genius Master Master Master Guru Master Master Master Wizard Guru Master Wizard Guru Master Guru Guru Master Wizard MS Access MS Access MS Access MS Access MS Access Visual Basic Visual Basic Microsoft SQL ASP JavaScript JavaScript JavaScript JavaScript Windows XP Windows XP Delphi Java Java Java Networking Networking Networking ASP.NET
Expert Certified in Topic Area
Headspace PeterFearn ATIG redseatechnologies kaushalgogari FernandoSoto amit_g DrSQL AlexCode Olaf_Rabbachin ghergu DrewK mkbean neester flow79 nabehs sam85281 Fatal_Exception PeteLong cogitate4u rindi jdfox rindi Master Master Guru Master Master Master Master Wizard Guru Master Master Master Guru Master Master Master Guru Wizard Guru Master Guru Master Wizard ASP.NET ASP.NET Exchange_Server Exchange_Server Exchange_Server C# C# Oracle VB.NET VB.NET Programming Excel Win Server 2003 PHP Outlook MFC Flash Microsoft Network Microsoft Network MS Office Linux Linux Storage
Expert Certified in Topic Area
Squinky JakobA r-k nobus SheharyaarSaahil boonleng koppcha GoofyDawg nickg5 brianadkins lrmoore nodisco yuzh mgh_mgharish leonstryker blue_zee PsiCop Mikal613 nobus khkremer meverest moorhouselondon Master Master Master Guru Master Master Master Master Master Master Genius Master Guru Master Master Master Guru Guru Master Genius Master Master PHP and Databases PHP and Databases Windows Security Desktops Desktops JSP JSP CSS Miscellaneous MS-DOS Firewalls Firewalls Unix Prog. Math & Science Sybase Viruses Email/GroupWare Handhelds/Wireless Modems Adobe Acrobat ISPs Productivity Applications
1585 experts have 2557 certifications: Genius:59 Sage:115 Wizard:154 Guru:465 Master:1764
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