Forget OLPC! Wealthy mexican man does OSPV…

OK so OSPV is my made up acronym for “One School Per village.” But this article, I think, demonstrates the right way to help developing or impoverished nations learn to stand on thier own. And interestingly, it does not involve every child getting a laptop…

Mexican telecom tycoon Carlos Slim, who is estimated by some calculations to be wealthier than Microsoft founder Bill Gates, said Thursday he did not care if he was the world’s richest person.

“It’s water off a duck’s back to me,” the cigar-smoking Slim told foreign correspondents. “I don’t know if I’m No. 1, No. 20, or No. 2,000. It doesn’t matter.”

 Slim, 67, told foreign journalists at a luncheon on Thursday that making sure his job was compatible with his family or personal life was more important than his wealth.

 Slim said Thursday his charitable foundations planned to invest $300 million in the next few years to build 100 schools in poor regions of Mexico that will focus on digital education. The plan would later be expanded throughout Latin America. – [Reuters]

Mr. Slim appears to be a man who is in touch with the people he is trying to help and has  a good understanding of what is truly needed. No gimmicks, no fancy schmancy technological baubles, nothing that is not self sustainable. Just straight-up education. That’s is what is really needed. A tip of the hat to you sir, a tip of the hat…

I don’t care if I’m richest in world… – [Reuters]

More RIAA College Shenanigans.

The RIAA is at it again:

Under the new scheme, the RIAA sends out what it calls ‘pre-litigation’ settlement letters. Actually, they’re self-incrimination documents and they’re designed to extort preset amounts of around $3,000 from students with the empty promise that by paying up, they’ll remove the threat of being hauled into court on charges of copyright infringement.

In reality, all the students are doing is providing the RIAA with personal and private information which can conceivably be used against them at some point in the future when the Big 4 agency ramps up to a new level of intimidation.

In the sixth wave of blackmail, the RIAA is targetting 23 universities nationwide with 408 ’settlement’ letters. – [p2pnet.net]

Yet again, the RIAA has resorted to mass mailing “pre-litigation” letters to specific colleges in an attempt to intimidate students into settling. I have, in a previous post, pointed out some of the legal pitfalls of this methodology, and why the RIAAs proposed case should never hold up in any but the most technologically ignorant court.

But the article above brings up even more reasons why such a case would be hard to prove, such as the possibility of spoofed IP packet addresses, where the IP address present in an IP package is not necessarily that of the computer that sent it. This and other factors, make identification by IP address, especially in a communal environment, with technologically savvy participants, a near worthless form of identification.

And it would appear that the RIAA knows fully well that this is the case, as it appears that many of the more prestigious, (and presumably more technology/law happy/savvy) colleges, such as Harvard, Yale, etc are conspicuously absent from the list, in spite of the fact that they would almost certainly have had a large number of file sharers among their populace.

It would appear that these “pre-litigation” letters amount to little more than blatant attempts to make suspected file sharers engage in self incrimination. If I were a student, staff, faculty or member of the administration at any of these 23 universities, I would consider this a great insult to my intelligence, and would refuse to cooperate with the RIAA simply on principle. But then again, that could just be my antisocial tendencies rising to the fore…

RIAA student victimisation campaign – [p2pnet.net]

Terrorist Profiling at it’s best. Or Worst. You Decide.

A poorly packaged college application prompted a call to the bomb squad at Eastern Illinois University. …… “There was no return address, it was poorly written, poorly addressed to the university, there were misspellings,” school spokeswoman Vicki Woodard said Saturday. “There was some tape over it. Just the overall appearance was rather strange.” – [USA Today]

OK, I have a question. Is a disheveled package with a poorly written address, equally poor spelling, and no return address the current modus operandi for bombers these days? I could be wrong, but I was under the impression that you had to be at least half-way intelligent to package explosives for delivery without blowing yourself up, or having the package blow up in transit.

By the same token I would think that any semi-intelligent person who wanted to ensure that an explosive package reached it’s destination would take pains to ensure that it did not exhibit traits that would attract attention, such as the said lack of a return address, poor spelling and rather conspicuous packaging. Or are we all supposed to believe that bombers and/or terrorists are, in general, of limited education and intelligence?

It may make you feel better to believe this to be the case, but as much as I hate to break it to ya, at least so far as terrorist activities are concerned, you are sorely mistaken if you do. Regardless of whether or not we believe our presidents “War on Terror” is justified, make no mistake; we are in it now, and must heed this all important rule of war: Know thy enemy…

Disheveled college application causes bomb scare – [USA Today]

P2P Suit Abuse…

Ok, I just read yet another article that all too painfully demonstrates the lengths that the RIAA will go to bolster it’s income, for lack of a better description. The article below referred to a case of P2P file sharers on the University of Washington campus. The RIAA alleged that members of the student body had been engaged in file sharing, and had approached the university on the issue. After mulling it over, this is what they decided:

“UW said it will forward notices of pending lawsuits from the Recording Industry Association of America to students who engage in illegal downloading on the university’s computer network.

The notices say offending students have 20 days to settle with the association by paying it about $3,000 to $5,000 or be taken to court without possibility of a settlement…

…The university will not pass the students’ names to the association, but it will use its server to identify them and inform them of their settlement options before they get stuck with a lawsuit, Godfrey said.” – [The News Tribune.com]

Now I see quite a few issues here. First, while it is theoretically possible to identify which computers may have been involved in file sharing, there is no way to verify that the actual owner of the computer was actually the one who did the file sharing. Unlike a home or office, where the number of different people that would have access to any given computer is usually limited, in a dorm room, it is usually a free for all. Most dorms are fairly accessible, and any one of a given residents friends or roommates could generally and reasonably be expected to have access to anothers computer.

Next there is the base assumption by the RIAA, upon which this massive anti P2P campaign is based, that all of this file sharing means lost sales. OK, let’s think about this for a second. The fact that someone downloaded an album does not mean that they would have bought it, regardless of whether or not they could afford it. That is an illogical assumption. The mount of music piracy that occurs is not, by any means, directly proportional to the number of lost sales.

Which brings me to the other point that makes no sense. I cannot blame them for filing suits against illegal file sharers, but where is the RIAA coming up with the settlement figure? An average CD can be had for about $20 from any one of the myriad of online music vendors and clubs that distribute music. $30, maybe for a hot item at full price. At $3000, each defendant would have had to have pirated at least 100 full priced CDs each. At $5000 they would have had to download over 166 CDs (at full price), or at the very least, 250 regularly priced CDs. And thats not counting additional promotions and discounts, etc.

Now that’s a lot of CDs, I don’t care how fast your connection is, and it’s unlikely that any of these students could possibly have downloaded that much music in the time frame given. And I think it’s a fair bet that the RIAA knows this. I think this is nothing more than the RIAA using the law to intimidate people into a reduction of file sharing, and, more heinously, recoup their losses from slumping sales. Yet another example of a $67 million pair of pants… just on a smaller scale. Or larger, depending on how you look at it…

UW will abet file-sharing lawsuits, it says – [The News Tribune.com]