Friday Four

Friday, April 25, 2014

1. My nearly three-year-old daughter to my nearly one-year-old son on the subject of books: "Those are not snacks."

2. My favorite cloud storage/synching service, Dropbox, has a policy against its customers placing copyrighted material in folders shared with others, but not against keeping such material in one's own folder. It does this without anyone directly inspecting the contents of the files. As a writer at TechCrunch puts it:

If you know what "file hashing against a blacklist" means, feel free to skip the rest of this post. Dropbox checks the hash of a shared file against a banned list, and blocks the share if there's a match.
Thus the company stays on the right side of protecting both property rights and its users' privacy. The article elaborates for the edification of anyone for whom "those words sound like voodoo".

3. Linux users have an easy way to reorient camera video footage sent from family and friends whose cameras seem hell-bent on making you cock your head in atonement for not buying the same product:
mencoder -ovc lavc -vf rotate=1 -oac pcm -o
Make the obvious substitutions for the file names, and follow the link for options pertaining to direction and magnitude of rotation.)

Also, how is such a question "strange", in the words of the author? Perhaps the fact that I only recently thought to search for an answer provides the clue: It probably seems to most people like something that would take expensive software and at least ten minutes of fiddling around per video to fix. This solution was free (as in beer) and took perhaps thirty seconds, most of which was downloading time. (I already had mencoder installed as a dependency for something else. Had I not, I might have had to spend a couple of minutes doing that.)

4. The good news: Uruguay is making marijuana legal. The bad news: Uruguay is giving the world a textbook example of how improper government regulation makes the whole concept of "legal" farcical:
Uruguay is the first country in the world to attempt to create a nationwide market regulating the cultivation, sale and use of legal marijuana. Once the system launches, registered users should be able to buy their weed in pharmacies, grow as much as six plants per family and harvest 480 grams a year at home, or join cultivation clubs that can have as many as 45 members and 99 plants.
The idea of some pothead keeping all these numbers straight elicits a chuckle from me. I also wonder what the lawmakers were smoking when they came up with this set of regulations. (This isn't even the whole thing.)

Might I suggest an alternate title, "Uruguay Replaces One Government-Fabricated 'Crime' with One Thousand, Man"? Of course, this is no different from what other governments around the West have been doing for over a century, except that it looks like a liberalization of policy, at least from one angle. See also "'Privatizing' Our Infrastructure" and "It's All a Federal Case."

Were I Uruguayan and interested in smoking marijuana (I am neither.), I think it would be more straightforward and perhaps even less risky to do so illegally.

-- CAV

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