Adam Fields (weblog)

This blog is largely deprecated, but is being preserved here for historical interest. Check out my index page at for more up to date info. My main trade is technology strategy, process/project management, and performance optimization consulting, with a focus on enterprise and open source CMS and related technologies. More information. I write periodic long pieces here, shorter stuff goes on twitter or


US Mandatory Data Retention laws are coming

Filed under: — adam @ 9:35 am

Remember the privacy implications of the government asking Google for search data? (

It’s going to get worse before it gets better. No online service considers your IP address to be private information, and now they will be required to maintain logs mapping your IP address to real contact information, for a period of at least one year after your account is closed.

The only way to prevent this information from being misused is to not keep it, and now there won’t be any choice.

I’ve discussed this before:

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Sony can’t make up its mind if music is sold or licensed

Filed under: — adam @ 9:21 am

At issue is whether the music sold through these services is a “license” or a “sale.” Sony pays less to its artists for sales than for licensing (Sony artists reportedly earn $0.045 for each $0.99 song sold on iTunes). Naturally, Sony claims that the songs sold on iTunes are sales and not licensing deals.

This is where it gets interesting. As Brad Templeton and others have pointed out, Sony and others have long maintained that what you get when you buy an iTune is a license, not ownership of a product. That license prohibits you from doing all kinds of otherwise lawful things, like selling your music to a used-record store, loaning it to a friend, or playing it on someone else’s program.

But if Sony says that it’s selling products (and therefore only liable for 4.5 cents in royalties to its artists) and not licenses, then how can it bind us, its customers, to licensing terms?

Good question.

The distinction between sale and license is VERY important. The trend has been towards licensing instead of selling, and the difference has not been a big part of the public dialogue.

I wrote about this a while ago, with respect to DRM, consumer usage rights, and how this pattern might affect other kinds of consumer transactions if they followed the same rules:

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Thoughts on questions every high school student should be able to answer

Filed under: — adam @ 4:29 pm

The Star Tribune wrote a fluff piece asking scientists to come up with their (seemingly) most disappointing question that every high schooler should be able to answer. (via Kottke)

MJD (hey, man – what happened to Advocacy?) rightly savages the list:

The analysis is mostly very strong. My only complaint is that he failed to note that evolution doesn’t actually “choose” anything, and saying that it does is just typical “owning the terminology” ID doublespeak.

And what is up with that last paragraph in the article about family life interfering with remembering things you learned in high school?

My choice for this question would probably have been “What is the scientific method?”.

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An Inconvenient Truth

Al Gore has made a movie about global warming, in case you needed some more convincing.

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I’m reading this on my left monitor

Filed under: — adam @ 1:37 pm

I’ve been a convert to a dual-head display for a long time now.



How to fix a non-booting Windows XP box

Filed under: — adam @ 3:31 pm

Seems useful.

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An important first step towards unmanufacturing

Filed under: — adam @ 11:08 am

Nokia phones are going to use a heat disassembly process that allows them to be broken down into their constituent materials, which can then be separately recycled. It’s not quite unmanufacturing, but it’s the first thing I’ve heard about a step in the right direction.,6771,27610,00.html

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Watch out for the, uh, oven door scam

Apparently, crooks have been breaking into vacation homes, stealing the >OVEN DOORS<, repackaging them in real flat screen TV boxes, and selling them to dupes on the street.

Words fail me.

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MIT student told to drop out of school by the RIAA to pay settlement fines

Of course, this is nothing compared to the fact that the RIAA says you shouldn’t be allowed to break DRM even if it’s going to kill you if you don’t:

I’ve discussed this before:

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Where to buy linux laptops

Filed under: — adam @ 11:00 am

I found this pretty comprehensive list of which laptops support linux:

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Impacts of Eolas patent on web pages

Filed under: — adam @ 9:43 am

Due to a lost patent claim, on April 11th, Active X controls (all embedded objects in IE) will have changed behavior and will require an “activation click” before they can be interacted with.,1895,1943847,00.asp

1) This does not affect pure DHTML/javascript, only DHTML/javascript that interacts with embedded applets.

2) As described in the MS article and some of the links below, it is possible to bypass the restriction by loading the objects from an external page, and this can be automated in some circumstances. Apparently, Adobe/Macromedia is also working on better fixes.

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Apple introduces dual booting XP on Intel Macs

Filed under: — adam @ 8:57 am

“Boot Camp simplifies Windows installation on an Intel-based Mac by providing a simple graphical step-by-step assistant application to dynamically create a second partition on the hard drive for Windows, to burn a CD with all the necessary Windows drivers, and to install Windows from a Windows XP installation CD. After installation is complete, users can choose to run either Mac OS X or Windows when they restart their computer.”

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Turning off the Blizzard background downloader

Filed under: — adam @ 8:10 am

Apparently, with a recent update, the Blizzard background downloader defaults to on all the time. Since it uses Bittorrent, this means that even if you’re not actively downloading updates, you’re still using your bandwidth for uploading pieces of it to other players.

Maybe that’s okay with you, but it really ought to be a personal decision and not something that’s foisted off on you. Here’s how to turn it off if not:

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