Monday, January 25, 2010

Participating in Government

I did something today that I have never done before. I sent a letter to my (Iowa) senator, Tom Harkin. The letter I wrote, which can be found below, was about the Open Textbook Act of 2009.

In this context, "open" means that the content in the textbooks is free (...well, it means more than that). Thus, the cost of a physical textbook would only come from the process of printing and shipping the book. For an electronic book (an ebook), it would be free! For colleges, that means that college students much less for physical textbooks for nothing for ebooks. For K-12 schools, it means the the school district would have thousands of dollars a year!
Hello Senator Harkin,

As an Iowan, recent alumni of Iowa State University, and advocate of open culture, I would like to say that you should support the Open College Textbook Act of 2009. You have great influence over this bill because it is currently in your US Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions. Please give this bill more attention so that it can reach the senate floor. This type of bill is very innovative and too good to simply let it "die" in committee.

Thank your for your service in the US Senate and reading my letter.

~Tyson Williams

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Second Checking Account to Prevent Identity Theft

After talking to Wellsfargo about another issue, the banker recommend that I create a second checking account solely to make online purchases.

The balance of this secondary checking account will almost always be $0. When I want to buy something online, I transfer money (using online banking) into the account and make the purchase. If my information for this account is stolen, then I will make a fraud claim. While Wellsfargo investigates, this account will be frozen. But since I only use this account for online purchases, it will not disrupt my life...I still have access to my credit card (which I use for purchases in real life), my savings account (which contains most of my money), and my main checking account (which I use to pay bills). After Wellsfargo determines that I was not responsible for the fraudulent purchase, I will get back any stolen money and not be charged any overdraft fees.

Because the fraud risk associated with this account is so low, I thought of another benefit of a secondary checking account. I often purchase products from Google (i.e Google Checkout), Amazon, Barns and Nobel, and Newegg. Each site recommends that I save my card information with them so that it will be easier to make purchases in the future. Normally this is a bad idea since it is just one more way that your card information could be stolen. Now I will be less risk averse and choose to store my secondary checking account information with these sites.

Monday, January 18, 2010

More Internet Remix Culture

I previously spoke about the Internet remix culture twice (here and here). Now I remembered something that a friend of mine created.

YTMND - Davy Jones wants the coin

My favorite part is the music...I loved playing games in the Donkey Kong series.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Brian Williams on Mark McGwire

On January 11th, Brian Williams opened the nightly news in the following way:

Brian was later interviewed on the Dan Patrick [Radio] Show to explain his choice of words that night.

I agree with Dan that the news should be presented from a neutral point of view and that Brian did not do that with this story.

My question to Brian is:
What did you actually want to say?