Thursday, January 21, 2010

Trapped In The Steam Engine

Macintosh SE: Back in the 1990s I bought one, used, an upgrade from my Mac Plus (also used; I think I paid $400 for the Plus). Modern technology that made publishing my zine, The Ray X X-Rayer, a lot easier.

Now in 2010 that Mac SE is steam engine tech, relatively speaking. A self-contained small box with its undersized black and white screen and floppy drive for external storage.

I liked Apple but with my budget its units were more expensive, even used, so I ended up going with a PC.

So here I am, my early work trapped on that Mac SE, no real compatibility with PC units. And to add to the problem, most of the 3.5 floppies created on my Plus and SE units are 2-sided DD (double density), not the later HD (high density).

I had planned to scan in the hardcopies of the first ten RX XR issues on the my PC. I could save them as PDF files and also rescue the text by OCR scanning. I carefully filed away the first ten issues. So carefully that I can't find them in the piles of junk around here.

So I hook up the old Stylewriter printer to the SE and try printing out new copies. Blank sheets go in and come out still blank on the other side. Most likely the inkjet is dried out -- or something is wrong with the printer. I won't know until I get a new cartridge.

Another way around the problem is to email the SE files to my PC. But I dropped my dial up service when I switch to DSL. And I don't know if I have the right AC adapter to power up my 14.4 LineLink modem even if I do try the dial up route.

How about reformatting some of the files as plain text and having a friend email them to me from his Mac? Sorry, his Mac is too new, can't read the floppies.

Another option: I sit down and read the text from the SE's B&W screen and retype it into my PC notebook. It's works but's it's a pain in the ass; I'm a slow typist.

The adventure continues...

Off By A Year

February 1995. The month and year I started my X-Rayer zine.

Or so I thought. I dig out my Mac SE, dust it off, and fire it up. Then I notice the file info for the first issue: Created February 1994.

It's been sixteen, not fifteen years, since I launched my pseudonymously written zine. I'm been off by a year. No wonder I feel so tired -- I've been carrying around an eXtra year without knowing it.

Friday, January 15, 2010

You've Been Scraped. Now What?

In a prior post I discussed an uproar by some bloggers over their work being hotlinked by other sites. Because those bloggers raised a justified stink, the problems with certain sites have been resolved, i.e., the hotlinkers stopped appropriating material they didn't create.

But that doesn't mean it won't happen again. So if it happens to you, what are your options?

(Standard disclaimer: I ain't a lawyer. I'm just sharing some info I've found on the net.)

Steve O'Donnell, a patent lawyer over at the 3C Patent blog, offers his take on the issue in his post, How many copyrights does your blog infringe? He deals with pictures being scraped, including the use of in-line links or hotlinking, but what he discusses can be applied to other works.

By taking legal action against the infringer, the infringed party could win up to $150,000 per violation. O'Donnell says that what would most likely happen is the infringer could be nailed for $750 for a registered work plus attorney fees.

The key word is registered work, stuff on file with the copyright office. With unregistered work damages would be limited to actual damages and attorney fees for the infringed party.

(Note: You don't have to spend time and money registering your work with the copyright office for it to be copyrighted. As soon as you create a work in a tangible form, automatically you have copyright on it. Registration allows you to sue for damages from the day it was registered. With an unregistered work, you can only go back to the day the infringement was discovered. Or so I understand...)

O'Donnell says a more likely course of action is to sending a takedown notice to the infringer's ISP.

But regarding hotlinking images as a copyright violation, Mike Masnik over at disagrees in his post, Is Inline Linking To An Image Copyright Infringement? He states: "Technically, a hotlinked image is no different than a link to an image. The difference in code is minimal. The image itself is never 'copied' onto your server. All you are doing is telling a computer to go visit the original version of the image, which was put there on purpose."

So the issue isn't that cut and dry.

But keep in mind that Masnik has a different take on how to handle people who copy your stuff for their own gain. Recently a cartoonist complained that someone was republishing his web comic with an fee based iPhone app, making money from his work that he shares for free. In his post The Creator's Dilemma On Others Making Money Off Your Content Masnik said one option for the cartoonist was to approach the infringer and ask for a fair cut of the revenue. The cartoonist could tell the infringer that he would promote the app to his fans so that both of them would benefit.

Sorta like coming to terms with a tapeworm in your gut by feeding it.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Hotlink Hijacking

I hate parasites.

Like the incompetent boob boss at work who relies on your skills and intelligence to stay in power and collect a bigger paycheck. You do the grunt work, he takes the credit. And don't get me on the topic of volunteering your time and talent for a non-profit organization that doesn't recognize your efforts.

And there are plagiarists or thieves who just take your work and use it any way they want, especially to make money.

Some bloggers who have been "hotlinked" have created an online uproar. Usually hotlinking refers to one site linking to an image on another site. Because the image is still on the other site's server, the linking site doesn't have to worry about increased bandwidth costs. Sorta like hopping on the back of the bus and not paying for a ticket. Everyone else pays but not you.

But hotlinking can also involve taking entire posts and other material from another site. Other bloggers do the work, the hotlinker just aggregates the material. You go to the hotlinking site and think that it is the one sponsoring such blogs as The Debris Field. One example is a site called X News Now. Here's a screencap of a page from that site (click on image to magnify it if too small):

As you can see, you get the impression that X News Now has a subsection called Phantoms & Monsters created by Lon Strickler. Wrong. All they've done is take Lon's work at his own blog and reproduce it on their site through hotlinking. And if you click on the Phantoms & Monsters link on X News Now, it doesn't taken you to Lon's blog, you just stay at XNN. Lon remains completely out of the loop.

Another offender has been Theresa J. Thurmond Morris (who I profiled some time ago). Yesterday her site was hotlinking but apparently the uproar has had an effect: today all you see when you go there is 404: Nobody Home.

Besides using some else's bandwidth, the hotlinkers use the free material to make some money through ads on their site -- even though the scraped blogger offers his material completely free, no ads on his site. And sometime the ads on a hotlinking site open you up to viruses, trogans, and adware.

Here are some of the sites that have been hotlinked:
(Alien, UFO, & Paranormal Times)
(The Debris Field)
(The Orange Orb)
(Phantoms & Monsters)

This is far from a complete list. Go direct to these URLs and bypass the lazy hotlinking thieves. Support the original creator, not a no-talent thief. And spread the word about parasite hotlinkers.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

XR #68

More misadventures putting out the hardcopy version of my zine, The Ray X X-Rayer...

Due to a restricted budget I usually photocopy my zine for people on my snail mail list. #68 had some large images that didn't reproduce that well when photocopied at a printshop. Part of the problem is the shop's photocopier is getting worn out, affecting the output quality. The other part is that photocopying doesn't reproduce as well as a direct print-out from the computer file.

So I tried directly printing copies at the printshop with my zine saved as a digital format on a thumb/flash drive. The shop wanted a twelve dollar fee -- even for one copy -- to access my file on one of their machines.

I went to a second printshop -- no fee -- just a charge per side. The direct print-outs were better than photocopies but didn't have the same brightness and contrast as the ones that I printed at home with my own printer.

After some rough calculations it seems it costs me just as much to print my zine at home compared to a printshop. So looks like I'll be home publishing from beginning to end even though inkjet cartridges ain't cheap. On the plus side: it reduces my trudging through the snow on foot to just one place, the post office. No more printshop stops.

The PDF version of XR #68 is up at my website, That way you can have the fun of printing out your own copy. Other issues are also archived there; each one is a "blogzine," a collection of posts from this blog.


Speaking of zines online that you can print out...

ThanX to a mention by Jim Moseley in his snail mail zine, Saucer Smear, I've discovered an interesting site with downloadable UFO zines: Barry Greenwood's On the left side of the homepage is a link to Publications, Just Cause and U.F.O Historical Revue (yup, that's the spelling).

I haven't checked out Just Cause but U.F.O. Historical Revue is an interesting read. Barry had given up on zining but UHR is back, albeit online only. UHR used to be hardcopy issues but printing and mailing costs were becoming prohibitive (I understand that problem).

What I enjoy about Barry's POV is that he's not focused on pushing a particular belief or theory. He doesn't know what UFOs are -- such as alien spacecraft, interdimensional intrusions, etc. -- except that they're unidentified. One area he delves into is the airship sightings of the 1890s. His last issue (UHR #13) features an article analyzing the "Ramey Memo" from the Roswell Crash ado. Great detective work in analyzing the grainy image of that document.