SOPA, PIPA, and Me

SOPA, PIPA, and Me

“You know, there are some words I’ve known since I was a schoolboy: ‘With the first link, the chain is forged. The first speech censured, the first thought forbidden, the first freedom denied, chains us all irrevocably.’ Those words were uttered by Judge Aaron Satie as wisdom and warning. The first time any man’s freedom is trodden on, we’re all damaged.”

Star Trek: The Next Generation, “The Drumhead.” Written by Jeri Taylor.


We need to put a stop to SOPA and PIPA. (image lifted from

Wednesday, many freedom-loving and liberty-conscious sites went black. It was a voluntary blackout in protest of Congress putting the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect Intellectual Property Act (PIPA) on their domestic legislative agendas. Sites that joined the blackout included Wikipedia, Reddit, and the entire Cheezburger network. Google posted a large, attention-grabbing banner on their front page, and urged visitors to sign a petition that would be sent to Congress on their behalf. Also, this blog went black to stand in solidarity with the other thousands of sites that did the same. Not that anyone missed much; to be honest, this blog is so low-traffic. But if even one person who visited managed to contact their congressional representatives on the issue, then going dark for those twenty-four hours was entirely worth it. Besides, it gave me a chance to use the time to perform upgrades and design changes without the need to down my site. Let’s face it, even in the face of crushing legislation, I’m still always going to be a system administrator at heart.

Should you have been avoiding all news and press yesterday and the day before, and you still don’t know what SOPA and PIPA are, allow me to educate you with this awesome video from

PROTECT IP / SOPA Breaks The Internet from Fight for the Future on Vimeo.

By the way, my favorite part of the above video is when they use Justin Bieber as the pawn of evil under the “Entertainment Industry” umbrella. Priceless. Also, I want to post another video, this time The Daily Show, where Jon Stewart manages to deftly present the SOPA/PIPA issue with the usual comedic flair.

I did my part by reaching out to my Congressman and both Senators on Wednesday and Thursday. I called my congressman’s office here in the city, and I emailed both senators and have been posting on their Facebook walls and tweeting in reply to their accounts. Thankfully, my congressman has been against SOPA since Day One. Unfortunately, both my Senators are being asshats and apparently ignoring the outcry of their constituents in continuing to support PIPA. What’s appalling is that in spite of the protests and calls, emails, tweets, and other methods of expressing their displeasure, the Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid (D-NV) is not only ignoring us, but fast-tracking the bill for a Senate vote. As of this writing, the tally is 41-59 in favor of passing PIPA.

The unfortunate part of this equation is that while I did nothing to lift a finger to help re-elect Senator Dianne “The RIAA/MPAA’s Puppet” Feinstein, I did vote for and contribute money to Senator Barbara Boxer’s campaign. Now, I’ve always disliked Feinstein; her politics and mine have only had a passing familiarity at best. Boxer, on the other hand, up until now, we’ve been in lockstep for the most part, which is why I wanted to do all I could to help her get reelected in 2010. I’m regretting that right now, especially since she’s gone quiet on the issue at a time when we need our legislature to sit up and listen to the people they claim to represent.

I’m not wanting to draw a line in the sand on this one, but it seems to me that this is just another chip away at the freedom of expression that’s supposed to be protected in the Bill of Rights. In fact, I was withholding my precious free time and financial support for the Obama/Biden campaign in 2012 until I read that he was finally coming down on the right side of the issue. I’ve already signed up to volunteer again for his re-elect. If Boxer votes to pass PIPA, I will actively campaign against her in 2016 and push for a primary challenger at the nominating convention in Sacramento. Not that I have any political clout whatsoever, but this is one of those issues that I feel will have lasting and possibly irreparable consequences against what it means to be an American, and more concretely, affects my ability to thrive in this industry as I have been doing so since 1997.

Both bills threaten the way business is conducted in my industry. If a startup begins to remote threaten another, more-established business’ sales, they can sue under PIPA or SOPA to shut down their website… with NO due process. This would not only hinder any new business’ chances, but the entire market will adjust to a point where investing in any startups in the tech industry become riskier than it was before the bill’s passage. This means less startups, less jobs, and should I ever need one… I could possibly be screwed. So, while I want to keep pursuing this as a high-minded issue, there’s a real hit to my bottom line, here. I’ve worked for seven different startups in the last thirteen years; some have failed, some were successful, some were bought-out. These bills could really sink a startup before it even has a chance to let the free market decide what to do with it, and that’s a real shame for everyone.

Imagine if Facebook were sued out of existence by mySpace using PIPA? I know it sounds crazy, but under that bill, it would be easy to make it happen.

This is one of those times where if you don’t care now, you will care very much later, if it becomes law. And then, all that’ll stand between the net you know now and the net the Entertainment Industry wants… is the Supreme Court.

“A man once said this, ‘Decisions are made by those who show up.'”

The West Wing, “What Kind of Day Has It Been.” Written by Aaron Sorkin.

Sorkie? Sorkinite? Sorkinista? Doesn’t matter, I’m a total Sorkin fanboy…

Sorkie? Sorkinite? Sorkinista? Doesn’t matter, I’m a total Sorkin fanboy…

Aaron Sorkin is writing a new show, for HBO.  Read all about right here (from TV Guide’s Scott Huver).  This has me excited in a way that I haven’t felt about an upcoming TV show, since the production of Studio 60 was announced in early 2006.  Not to mention that I think Sorkin could really shine on HBO, where language and subject matter won’t necessarily be hindered by the sanitized restrictions of “safe harbor” programming.  No date or even a rumor of an ETA has been announced for the premiere, but rest assured I’ll be among the many who tune it to see the next chapter of Sorkin’s career unfold. (more…)

It’s Bigger on the Inside

Yesterday’s prompt was about Guilty Pleasures, and I missed that one, so I’m going to take care of that with tonight’s post.

When I think of what I consider to be a guilty pleasure is something that I like but I’m embarrassed to admit.  The problem with that is that I’m unabashed at proclaiming my fandoms.

Karen Gillan
Have some Karen Gillan.

If I did have a guilty pleasure, I think it might be my inability to pass on anything related to Doctor Who.  Most everyone knows about my Trek fandom, but what they might not understand is that I was less vocal about having watched most of Tom Baker’s Fourth Doctor when I was a kid growing up on PBS stations here in the Bay Area.  Tom Baker was MY Doctor.  And you never forget the first Doctor you watch on the screen.  For a six year old, watching this guy bandy about the screen with a robotic dog was pretty much the beginning of a childhood memory that’s lasted to this day in the form of the Ninth and Tenth, to the current Eleventh Doctor.  Also, for the record, I think that I watch Doctor Who more for Amy than I do the Doctor, though I still love the Doctor… but damn, dude.  Have you seen Amy (Karen Gillan)?  I haven’t had a crush on a companion this hard since Billie Piper’s Rose Tyler (Ninth and Tenth Doctors) and of course, Elizabeth Sladen’s Sarah Jane Smith (Third and Fourth Doctors).  I need to locate a really good picture of her so I can just show you how awesome she is.  Hang on a sec, Google Images has not failed me.  Let’s pop that in there, and there.  This post has now surpassed awesome for that picture, alone.  I could stop writing right now (but I’m not going to).

Badge of Fandom

One of the things that I’m grateful for with my recent resurgence of  my Who fandom is the fact that I can actually share one of my fandoms with my wife.  Which is something I haven’t really been able to do.  She doesn’t like Star Trek or Babylon 5, The West Wing or Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, and our tastes in anime make it nigh possible to find any but a handful of series that she and I will both enjoy.  Our television watching had dwindled a lot lately, and I think the last time we’d watched anything together was due to the World Series and before that, the National League Championship Series.  But we’d really failed to connect lately with something non-sports, so it was really nice to be able to share that with her.  When you find a bit of a rift between you and your partner on some of your deeper passions in life, it’s great to find those few things and really hang onto them as much as possible.  Though, I doubt she’s has passionate as I am… and she’s more into Matt Smith and David Tennant than Karen Gillan (of course).

Of course, Doctor Who isn’t something I’m ashamed to admit that I love it.  I think it’s just been kind of a well-kept secret due to the fact that I had largely ignored the recent revival from the BBC.  I had caught the pilot episode with Christopher Eccelston and Billie Piper when the SciFi Channel (not Syfy) premiered it a couple of years ago.  Problem was that I kind of watched it and felt like it didn’t really capture me as much as Tom Baker had.  If anything, I kind of felt like Ninth Doctor was a bit too Hell’s Angels for me to really like him and so I walked away and never really went back until one day when I was at work this year.  I was on instant messenger talking about old Who, and he was raving about Tenth Doctor.  He sent me a YouTube link that I will gladly share with you in a moment, but when I saw it, I was more than intrigued.  I wanted more.  So I found out that on Netflix, they had all four series of Doctor Who, plus the specials.

I devoured the first series and I was actually sad to see the Ninth Doctor go, but after I saw the Christmas special with the Tenth, I was immediately taken with Tennant’s portrayal of my favorite Time Lord.  Plus, I was happy that Rose was sticking around for another series, at least.  She was a strong character, and I happen to like strong female characters.  When she left the show, though, it was a pretty devastating way to go.  Even my wife thought it was sad.  I will admit to shedding some tears, because I thought it was sad and a little too final for such a great character.  But it was far more dramatic than some of the other companions’ departures.  The Doctor literally dumped Sarah Jane in the middle of nowhere, and Leela just left.  And then even with the Seventh Doctor, Mel just up and decided to go with Glitz and she shoved Ace into the fray (Ace was my last favorite companion before Rose).  Anyway, I will digress…

Before I go, I want to leave you with a final video that kind of defines the series for me.  It’s a compilation of all the themes and the Doctors, though it’s kind of aged and doesn’t include the Eleventh.  Enjoy, and I’ll talk to you more tomorrow!

The Summer So Far…

I know I haven’t really posted anything lately.  I sort of fell out of the habit of blogging, and things have been a little hectic as of late.  Needles to say, I’m not entirely certain who knows what, but Julia and I have had a rather interesting summer so far.  Read on if you should want to learn what exactly happened.

It all began with the loss of my job at Teneros.  We’d just returned from Danyel’s wedding in Las Vegas, and I had to go to sleep to prepare for my shift that Monday night.  I woke up a little earlier than I had planned, but it turns out that it didn’t matter one way or the other.  I had a voicemail from the Vice President of our division, asking me to return his call as soon as possible.  This is never a good thing, let me tell you.  I hadn’t heard or seen this guy in months, and getting a phone call from him out of the blue was highly unusual.  My sixth sense was screaming big time, and I went out into the living room to tell Julia that it was resume-updating time again.  This, of course, did not make her feel any better.

I took a quick shower, grabbed the work-issued BlackBerry phone and its charger, told Julia I’d be back in an hour or two, and headed out the door.  I pulled into the parking lot at work, and I was curious to see if maybe they’d already pulled the plug on me.  Interestingly enough, my badge and secured door access were still in place, so I had this fleeting thought that maybe something else had happened… like maybe someone else got the axe and they were telling me in person that I might have to switch shifts this week.  But then, I thought, why wouldn’t they have called me ahead of time to let me know?  Nah, I was definitely getting laid off tonight.

I walked in and the only other person in the building was my swing shift co-worker.  He looked up in surprise… maybe because he wasn’t expecting me to show up so quickly.  I said hi, and grabbed the empty box I’d left underneath my desk when I arrived for my first day there.  I started packing up my speakers, keyboard, mouse, books, the picture of Julia and me from Valentine’s Day, and then the VP walked into the NOC and saw me.  I was all smiles about the whole thing, because I guess I had seen it coming… but not this soon.

There were a lot of little changes they were making at Teneros.  They switched CEOs a few months back, which was a huge shock since the CEO we had when I was hired… I mean, the company was his baby, you know?  It was really weird to find out one day that he stepped down and we got this other guy in there.  Talk of the corporate reorg came through and everyone was worried about their jobs (of course).  I spoke with my manager, and he assured me that support would be untouched, since we were one of the hardest working departments in the company (true).  I was satisfied with that, but there was that inkling in the back of my mind that said to take it with the grain of salt.  I had no reason to doubt his word, though, so don’t get me wrong.  But that didn’t mean that he wasn’t lied to, you know?

Shortly after that announcement, the kitchen stopped being stocked so frequently.  This really sucked for me, because I was there during grave shift and a bare kitchen meant I had to either bring in lunch or go hungry.  One of the great perquisites of working at Teneros was the awesome kitchen, and now that was gone.  Sure, they tried to bluff their way through it, but I told my swing guy that when a company stops stocking the kitchen, then it’s time to start looking for work elsewhere.  It’s one of the warning signs of something big on the horizon when the little things suddenly disappear.

But back to the meeting with the VP.  Now, I really liked my VP.  He was a really nice guy and I didn’t bear him any ill will about the decision he had to make.  I knew it was a numbers game (I was one of the highest paid techs, if not the highest paid) and they needed to cut someone’s salary.  Add to the fact that the grave shift was probably a luxury at that point, in spite of the day guys really enjoying their sleep being uninterrupted during the week.  It made sense from an executive standpoint, but it still sucked the big one dry.  Plus, the people I worked with were a great bunch of guys, and I’d miss seeing/talking to them on a daily basis.  My soon-to-be-former VP and Manager explained the logic and I was sitting there nodding my head.  My manager looked grief-stricken and I tried to keep a positive attitude about it.  I did make a few jokes when the stock issue question came up, considering that they were laying people off (I was one of many, apparently).  I laughed and shook my head, passing on purchasing anything that put money into a company that was showing signs of failure.

I signed my papers, took my “generous” two-weeks’ severence pay and final check, grabbed my box and walked out to my car.  My now-ex Manager walked out there with me and promised to keep in touch (he hasn’t) and also said he wanted to have a lunch with the whole group sometime (no joy, there, either).  I took his consolations with a grin and shook his hand.  I pulled out of the parking lot for the last time, and headed home.

I enjoyed unemployment for a good three weeks.  I had a large number of leads, folks, going into the first week.  I posted my updated resume on DICE and my cell phone rang so much, I blew through my anytime minutes on my phone plan within the first week and half.  Julia was pissed.  I got calls from StubHub, Yahoo (3 different positions), 2 startups not worth mentioning, and Netflix.  The Yahoo interviews were all on the phone, and StubHub never called me back.  Adobe called (as usual), but they were offering twenty bucks below my asking price, which was a deal-breaker (why would I take a 40% pay cut to work there?).  I also got an email for a job in Japan that turned out to look fucking awesome on paper, but that phone interview was a complete and utter disaster, and it wasn’t for a lack of trying.  Let’s just say that it sounded like there was an active resistance toward hiring someone in America for a job in Japan, and the guy on the phone was doing everything he could to sabotage it.

In the meantime, my nephew flew in from Arizona to stay with his mom for the summer.  I usually get him for a week in July, but since I was not working… it made sense to have him sooner rather than later.  I got to spend a week and a half with him and we hung out, played a metric shitton of Halo 3, watched a season and a half of The West Wing, and took him to Pac Bell Park for a Giants game.  We even got to play some D&D at my buddy’s house along with his nephew so we had a decently sized group to play with this time around.  He had a blast, and I had a lot of fun having him around.  I’m hoping that next summer, we can arrange for him to stay a little while longer by getting him a paying job for the duration so he’ll have some experience in the industry.  He wants to work with video games and has a keen interest in it, so I figured if I could swing an EA game tester job for him, it’ll work out great for him in earning and saving some money.  He’ll be 18, and not subject to work permit law, so I’m hoping for the best.

While I had him with us, I was going out on interviews and feeling some places out for possible employment.  In the third week, I got this call from a recruitment house.  All they do is recruit for other companies, but instead of doing it by contract, they actually place people for regular employment.  I didn’t have anything to lose at this point, since this was a longer stretch of joblessness I’d experienced in the last two years.  One more week and I was going to have to file for Unemployment Assistance through the state.  I went in, met with the really young guy who was telling me how to interview (look, kid… I’ve been interviewing for jobs since you graduated elementary school).  I smiled and nodded, took their advice and walked out feeling like my time had been wasted.  Then, I got pulled back in at the last moment to sit with a guy from a company who was already there to talk to someone else.  It was for a position at a company I’d heard of, Mimosa, but it was for a position totally not my area of expertise (if I even have an area of expertise).

Mimosa sounded cool, but I was reluctant to entertain going back into Windows/Exchange support.  I felt like I had moved on from Windows and wanted to get back into Unix support or operations again.  Nine months of bashing my head against crappy Microsoft products felt like a lifetime, and even though the job was pretty cushy, I really didn’t want to continue to lose my Unix street cred that much.  Anyway, I figured that since the job wasn’t a match, I would move on and find something else.  By that time, I was emailing my resume at least three times a day to various job listings I’d find on DICE or HotJobs or wherever.  Then, Mimosa called back.  Apparently, they were hiring for customer support positions, and they wanted me to go in and sit down with them for a few hours and talk things over.

Like I said, it was nearing the end of the third week.  The interviews thus far had not proven to lead anywhere, and the phone interivews I’d completed until then hadn’t panned out as well as I hoped.  So, I went in with no expectations whatsoever, figuring that if I didn’t go in, all I would do is watch TV, play on the Xbox or waste time in some other fashion.

Funny thing about interviews with no expectations.  After all, that’s how I got hired at Teneros.

I sat down with them, and right away I really liked these guys.  They had a good sense of humor (rather closely aligned with my own, which is saying a lot), they were pretty damned smart, and they were really driven toward their goals.  Further, they prized several things I always look for in a new company.  I was intrigued by the notion of actually going to work for them, and out of all the itnerviews I’d been on, Mimosa was the only one where I got that feeling that I could really work there.  After the interviews were over, I got the offer the next Monday and I signed it that afternoon and faxed it back in.  I would start the next week and my period of unemployment was finally over (for now).

I’ve been at Mimosa for two and a half weeks.  I really like the people.  I feel like I’m learning a lot while being there.  I appreciate the straightforward nature of the group and I like that they don’t beat around the bush when they talk to you… it’s all out there for you without having to read between the lines, y’know?  This is a very rare thing here in Silicon Valley (or possibly anywhere).  Since Mimosa is one of Teneros’ direct competitors, it’s pretty funny seeing alot of clients from Teneros show up as clients of Mimosa as they’re dumping and running toward my new employer.  The other day, I was looking through our tickets and I noticed familiar names and companies listed as customers and laughed.  I guess things are getting worse over there.

Anyway, that’s my summer so far.  How’s yours?

Meme Alert: ganked from <lj user=”aeire”>

1. My username is _____ because ____.
2. My journal is titled ____ because ____.
3. My subtitle is ____ because ____.
4. My friends page is called ____ because ____.
5. My default userpic is ____ because ____.

Um… hmm…

I chose because it’s actually my username for a couple of hosts I run, and it was available on the list of recently purged usernames.

My journal is titled “The Oval Office” because I am using a West Wing theme.

My subtitle is “The West Wing” because duh.

My friends page is called “Press Briefing Room” in keeping with the motif.

And finally, my default userpic is President Bartlet with the words ‘What’s Next?’ because that’s like the best phrase to motivate a conversation to move to the next topic.  It reminds me that life isn’t and shouldn’t be all about dwelling on stuff for too long and in order to keep going, you gotta keep moving.