Thursday, July 30, 2009

Embarrassing Moments: Contacts

Sometimes when I am putting my contacts in or out, I am on autopilot and make some stupid mistakes. I think it is because my bathroom routine is boring and I do it so often.

Sometimes in the morning, I will open my contact case and proceed to dump out my contacts and contact solution into the sink. Oops, forgot to put my contacts in first. Sometimes at night, I will fill my contact case with solution, somehow get distracted, then proceed to dump the new contact solution into the though it is morning and I just finished putting in my contacts. However, both of these are peanuts compared to what I did yesterday.

I had put my contacts in earlier in the day to do some yard work and put off doing my other bathroom tasks until after I showered. After shaving and brushing my teeth, my habit is to do my contacts next. I open up my contact case, which was empty (of course). Now I must have filled it up with contact solution without thinking about (since it was empty...that is what I do when it is empty...because that means that I am taking my contacts out). Now I began looking for my contacts in the case, but (of course) they were not there. I concluded that I must have thrown them in the sink like I have done before. I had become distracted by something and had been using the water, so I would have washed them away. So, I went and got two new contacts and put them in. Immediately I complained that things were blurry, especially close up. I did not realize what I had done about four hours later when I took my contacts out in preparation for bed.

My prescription level is only -1.00 for both eyes, so my vision is not that bad. I think that most people would not have made this mistake because it is much more obvious when they do and do not have their contacts in since their vision is much worse.

I tried to salvage the new contacts, but the inside that is supposed to touching my eyeball was probably damaged by being in contact with the outside of the other contact...because I put one of the new contacts in and it did not feel good. In the end, I threw both away and will have to break out another new pair today :(

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Funniest Video on the Internet

Here is my vote for the funniest video on the Internet:

I have known about this video for years, but was reminded of it today. I think that this video is so funny because the more you watch it, the funnier it becomes!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Right Idea, Wrong Delivery

I just went to Applebee's with Shannon for some half price appetizers after 9 where they were also playing some Applebee's Bingo. Instead of the regular bingo letters of B-I-N-G-O, Applebee's Bingo uses A-P-L-B-E.

Now, A and L do not rhyme with any of the other letters, but P, B, and E all rhyme with each other. To avoid confusion, it is common for a person to say, "B, B as in boy"...or some other word that starts with that letter. However, it does not make sense to use just any word that begins one of these letters.

During Applebee's Bingo, the person reading off the letter-number combinations said, "P, P as in Paul." So, what is wrong with this?? The speaker knows that she needs to distinguish between the letters P, B, and E...but I don't think she knows why. The "why" is because P, B, and E (pronounced Pee, Bee, and Eee) are all words that rhyme in each syllable. To distinguish P, she used the word "Paul", which rhymes with "Ball" (in, which starts with B!! She ruled out E, but she still has the same problem she started with...two words that only differ when pronounced by a single consonant!

Minutes later, the speaker topped herself. To distinguish B, she used the word "Butter", which rhymes with "Putter" (in all two syllables), which starts with P! Again, she ruled out E, but we still can't be sure if she said P or B. I thought that this one was pretty amazing because she was able to do this even though she used a two syllable word.

As a final word, I actually thought of that fact that "Putter" rhymes with "Butter" just after the speaker gave her "Paul" example. I thought, "Wow, I hope she doesn't say that one too." Well, I spoke (in my head) too soon.

Monday, July 20, 2009

A "Good Exploit"

Today I was reading this article about how Microsoft changed its Internet Explorer 8 installation wizard to not change the default browser without explicit consent from the user. The article muses about why Microsoft might have done this given the fact that Microsoft is in legal trouble in the EU for related issues and that many organizations disagreed with this tactic.

I was wondering how Microsoft would feel if the other browsers pulled stunts like this against them. Well, this got me thinking. I have always thought that it would be cool to improve people's computers without their consent. That is, write an exploit that benefits the user being "exploited".

I have heard of someone trying to do this before, although I cannot find any link about it now. From what I can remember, someone tried to write an exploit that gained control of a system through a vulnerability, but then tried to fix that vulnerability so that no one else could gain access in the same way. Unfortunately, ...and as usual..., this exploit was not perfect and made some computers worse off instead of better.

Now I know that this is not within the spirit of free and open source software (FOSS), but I think it would be really funny if Microsoft got a taste of their own medicine using the above idea. Someone should write an exploit that (1) takes control of a user's system, (2) downloads and installs Firefox if it is not already installed, and (3) changes the default browser to Firefox.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Copyright Education: A KODAK Case Study

Today I went to Target with my fiance Shannon to print a picture that she needed. While clicking through the various prompts at the KODAK Picture Kiosk, she did not hesitate to fly by the following screen. I however could not help but go through the prompts on another kiosk and take this picture with my cell phone:

"It is illegal to reproduce photographs taken by a professional photographer or other copyrighted pictures without permission of the copyright owner.

By reproducing this photograph, I acknowledge that the picture I am reproducing is not copyrighted, or I have obtained permission from the copyright holder."
Now, pretend that we are back in elementary school. Instead of a DOL (daily oral language) problem (in which you try to find various grammar mistakes in an example sentence), try to find the mistakes in the above paragraphs on the issue of copyright.

Are you done yet?...Ok. Here is what I found.
  1. The first paragraph seems to group all pictures which are illegal to reproduce into two categories. If a picture was taken by a professional photographer, it belongs in group A. Then, any remaining pictures that are copyrighted belong in group B. Why is it that it is illegal for me to reproduce any picture from group A? What if a professional photographer took a picture (which is then automatically copyrighted) and then gave me permission to reproduce it? That should be legal, but the wording at this kiosk suggests otherwise.
  2. Now, suppose that a picture X was taken by a professional photographer, was copyrighted, and I do not have permission from the copyright owner to reproduce it. Does that mean it is always illegal for me to reproduce alluded to by this kiosk? Absolutely not! I can legally use or reproduce (or several other verbs) any copyrighted work as long as my actions are covered by fair use.
  3. Ok, so now suppose that...a picture X was taken by a professional photographer, was copyrighted, I do not have permission from the copyright owner to reproduce it, and my reproduction of X is not covered by fair use. Surely now it is always illegal for me to reproduce X, right? However, the answer is still no because not all copyrights forbid me from reproducing the copyrighted work. If the photograph that I wanted to reproduce was copyrighted under a Creative Commons License, then anyone can (among other things) "copy, distribute and transmit the work."
It is interesting to note that there is no mention of professional photographers in the second paragraph, which would agree with my first argument above.

The statement that you have to accept in order to use the kiosk suggests that its list of conditions is exhaustive. However, it is also legal to reproduce photographs when the reproduction is covered by fair use or when allowed by copyright. People are being misinformed everyday with benign messages like this that leave out such crucial features of our copyright law.

In conclusion, I think it should be illegal to lie about what is illegal!

3-4-10 UPDATE:
ars technica just wrote an article about this same issue in relation to the Super Bowl.