File Sharing

Lori Jones here in Houston got a letter from lawyers representing the RIAA indicating she is being sued for copyright infringement to the tune of over half a million dollars. Apparently her daughter had downloaded and installed Limewire to share music.

According to the lawsuit the half-million dollar price tag works out to $750 per infringement. That’s $750 per song. Pretty steep considering you can purchase the songs at the iTunes store for 99 cents a pop. On the plus side, they are willing to settle for a one time fee of $4,000.

You can see the whole story here.

Jeff Ehling from the local ABC affiliate station here in Houston, TX called me to setup an interview. Since I had taken the day off we did it in the comfort of my living room.

Strangely, this time I was only referred to as:

Jay Lee who hosts a radio program that specializes in computer issues


Mark Hosler

Mark Hosler holds a copy of the infamous U2 single.

Took the time to go to the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Center @ The University of Houston to listen to Mark Hosler speak about media and Negativland (wiki).

I’ve been a fan of Negativland since the early 80’s and used to play their stuff on the old Wake Up And Smell The Coffee program I did back in the day and it was a treat to get to listen to him speak.

The most entertaining anecdotes were the details of the U2 lawsuit and the David Brom axe murderer hoax.

The discussion ranged from fair use and copyrights to culture jamming and touched upon things like Youtube and P2P file sharing as a cheap and effective means of mass distribution for digital artists.

My friend Chuck Ivy was able to record the presentation so perhaps there will be a copy of it available soon.

Imported Beer

At work I sometimes find myself on the phone with our contractors in Bolivia. A few weeks ago I was going back and forth on a particular problem that required multiple phone calls before arriving at just the theory of what was causing it. This was followed by a few more calls to Bolivia as we implimented the solution.

The net result was that we not only resolved the problem, but likely cleared some things up going forward that should reduce the impact of this kind of issue in the future.

The developer/tech I worked with was so happy with the efforts and the results that she informed me she would be sending me a sample of her favorite Bolivian beers as a thank you. These arrived today via one of our Houston employees who travels back and forth between locations

And she sent them in a nifty leather man purse which goes GREAT with some shoes I just bought!

I Want My, I Want My, I Want My O.E.D.

Since the beginning of our relationship, on occasion, Cynthia would get a wistful look in her eye and say to me “Jay, if we ever win the lottery, I’m buying an O.E.D.

I’ve always told her we should just buy one, but it was an extravagance she would not indulge as they are rather expensive. As she has a degree in library science, I’ve always thought she should have one but knew she would frown on me if I paid out the asking price.

Over the years I’ve asked if she would consider the condensed or mini-version of the O.E.D. and she would flatly say no. In more recent years the O.E.D. has been made available in CD ROM format but Cynthia would have none of it.

Last week as I was tinkering around on the Internet I casually typed Oxford English Dictionary into Google. The first search result was an page offering the O.E.D. for $332.00. This was around $800 off off the list price which translates to roughly $600 off the price of most booksellers.

I could not believe what I was seeing.

I checked to make sure it was not the CD ROM – It wasn’t
I checked to make sure it was the 20 volume hard cover set. – It was
I checked to make sure it was being sold by Amazon and not one of their partners – It was

I thought about it and thought I should just buy this and surprise Cynthia. But I couldn’t just move on it without really making sure this was the same thing she wanted and not some abridged version or factory second or something.

I decided to show her the web page.

Like me, she was skeptical. As I suspected she would be.

We tried just searching from the Amazon page and not one of the results returned was the page we were viewing.

We both were very unsure and we even said in unison “If it looks too good to be true, it probably isn’t.” It just didn’t add up. How could it be that they would sell this item, BRAND NEW, at such a discounted price. After some more discussion we agreed to give it a pass.

I had the next day off and I couldn’t let it go. If what I was seeing was correct I had the opportunity to acquire the O.E.D. for not much more than the CD ROM version which runs around $250. This would be a chance to score major spouse points!

I checked it again and I verified the return policy and I ordered it. Of course I couldn’t keep a secret and I told Cynthia. She was dubious but hopeful but didn’t allow herself to get her hopes up too terribly much.

Well, they arrived this evening. 5 boxes containing the 20 fat volumes of the Oxford English Dictionary. Individually shrink-wrapped and in perfect condition. It’s an impressive resource.

Cynthia’s in hog heaven and may not get any sleep tonight….

International Comment on Blogs Day

Christine over at has declared January 31, 2008 to be International Comment on Blogs Day

No more blurking, you guys! Leave the feedreaders behind, hop on into the browser and say something.

Blurking…it’ a perfectly cromulent word….

I have taken it upon myself to modify this to be International Comment on Blogs and Trackback Day. In that spirit I not only link to Christine’s post, I also link to Charles over at who alerted me to this via this post.

The Geek Speaks

Once again the mighty news media empire calls out for a tech expert and Houston’s Best Tech Geek responds to the call!

Jeff Ehling wanted to come by and interview me for a a story on ABC 13 (KTRK) about about the new music service Qtrax that claims to be offering free and legal music downloads via P2P…

It’s available here for your web viewing pleasure:
Free online music downloads?

Jeff was telling me they’ve been getting mixed feedback on the new web site. I gotta say, I like it! It’s slick and easy to navigate. and I’m not just saying that because it was easy to find the piece featuring my interview so easily after the broadcast on the 6 o’clock news!


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I’ve been spending a few hours each day sifting through photos from the trip. It’s an arduous task. I am processing over 3,000 images collected while we were in Spain.

The main goal is to isolate the ones I want to print, edit them if necessary and then make a re sized copy for upload to the gallery.

On the one hand, it’s fun going through the images. On the other hand, it’s making me a little loopy.

While I was processing the pics from Seville I noticed that I had two pictures of the garden of the Alcazar that were pretty cool. They got me to thinking that I really was wishing for a super wide angle on that day to try to capture more of the garden in one shot instead of these two:

Click for full size

Click for full size

Thanks to Photoshop, I now have the shot I couldn’t get in the field….

Click for full size

Back to work to the photo-mines….

Google Maps

Google just announced a new feature of their map site that allows you to embed a Google Map right into a web page just like you would with a Youtube video.


View Larger Map

The embedded map has all the functionality you find at the actual Google Maps site. You can scroll it, zoom it, get directions and that good stuff.

It’s way faster and easier than the in-line Google maps plug-in I was playing with before.

This will be a lot of fun to use during the upcoming trip to Spain….

Details are at the Google Lat Long Blog

TV Time

Got a call from Jeff Ehling over at the local ABC affiliate (Channel 13). He was putting together a story to tie in to the recent FBI press release regarding botnet cyber crime and needed a geek talking head.

Lord knows there’s no talking head geekier than yours truly and despite my fear of being in front of the camera, I agreed to do it. I try not to pass up any opportunity to promote the radio show. Plus I think I must secretly enjoy being scared out of my wits.

Much like the previous times, it went smoothly enough and I was not horrified with the results. Jeff did a great job on the story and used sound bites from me in the piece that worked well and I was very pleased to hear him use talking points that came from our more candid off camera conversation.

You can see the news story video here.

Technology makes for strange bedfellows

Exciting day yesterday!

Dwight Silverman arrived at the station with a copy of his new book, Microsoft Windows Vista: Peachpit Learning Series

There are several things that make this VERY cool to me, so forgive me being a bit of a techno-spazz.

1. Our friend Dwight published a book!
2. Technology Bytes now features an author who has published a book!
3. Technology Bytes is mentioned on the back cover of a nationally published book!

In other cool geek news, we had a special guest on the show last night. None other than James Kendrick of JK On The Run fame.

James is an expert on mobile computing and his blog is probably the single best source for anything related to that particular aspect of technology.

Thanks James! We appreciate you taking the time!


Gearing up for our 12th anniversary, Technology Bytes Radio is teaming up with The Petrol Station and St. Arnold Brewery to bring you Tron, the original geek movie, projected in all it’s gigantic glory outdoors and on the back wall.

The event will be Friday, July 1st. and admission is FREE!

The movie should fire up around 9 PM but feel free to come on out anytime after 7:30 and join the crew of Technology Bytes for some brews and a very geeky evening.

The Petrol Station is located at 985 Wakefield Dr. here in Houston, TX.
Click here for a map

Phone number is (713) 957-2875

I blog alone

I’ve installed the Podpress plugin for WordPress.
This means you can automatically pick up any audio content I post on this site as a podcast. Just add the RSS feed of this site to your iTunes and your iPod will do the rest.

The Podpress plugin also allows readers of this blog to play audio content I post to the site right inside the post, streaming in REAL TIME! No more waiting on a download.

If you are viewing this from the main URL ( you should see a Podpress player at the top of this entry. Just click the play button and the song I have posted will start playing.

To test my new feature I have uploaded a song called I Blog Alone by M. Spaff Sumsion over at

I’ve also included the lyrics below:

Parody of Green Day’s “Boulevard of Broken Dreams”

Download MP3 (3.4 MB)

I spill my guts online
At live dot home dot blog my name dot com
No one hits my site
But it’s home to me and I blog alone

I dish out brilliant quotes
On the blogger board of broken links
Guess who leaves me notes?
Yes, I’m the only one and I blog alone

I blog alone
I blog alone

I blog alone
I blog a-

I work all
Day to make the Web admire me
It’s not my
Job; if my boss knew, she’d fire me
That’s fine; the
New York Times would beg to hire me
Till then I

Bla-ah, bla-ah, bla-ah, blah-og
Bla-ah, bla-ah, blah-og

I mock celebrities,
Politics and sports and TV shows
Then I Google me
And hope it links to where I blog alone

I can’t sleep at night
Even on vacation far from home
I pull up my site
To know I’m still online and I blog alone

I blog alone
I blog alone

I blog alone
I blog a-

My only
Friends are avatars and smileys
I humbly
Post my views then praise them highly
Some day I’ll
Sell my soul like Bill O’Reilly
Till then I

Bla-ah, bla-ah, bla-ah, blah-og
Bla-ah, bla-ah

I blog alone
I blog alone

I unmask media lies
On the blogger board of broken links
Guess who leaves replies?
Yes, I’m the only one and I blog alone

Hey, look, they
Praised me in the News on Sunday
My site got
Thirteen million hits in one day
Okay, I
Lied, but that could happen some day
Till then I