Blackout is over. Returning to our regularly scheduled website. Below is the blackout and Stop CISPA info.
You may remember the fight last year to stop SOPA/PIPA. Alas, it’s back but under a new name CISPA. A call has been put out for another blackout. I participated last year. I will participate this year.
CISPA, or the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act, is a law that would allow the government to extract your private information from the internet without a warrant. It’s the online equivalent of allowing a police officer to enter your home and start rummaging through your personal files without the permission of a court. The politicians who introduced this law pretend it will protect you but what it really does is circumvent your Fourth Amendment rights. CISPA also prevents you from suing companies when they illegally use your information.
I have a Sony Handycam DCR-HC36 digital video camera that uses tape. I got it when we had our last desktop computer than ran Windows XP. I imported video using their driver software and a USB cable. Fast forward to today I could not install the software on Windows 7, Vista or Mac OS X Lion. Turns out I had to get a FireWire 800 to Sony DV i.link cable (9-pin to 4-pin). I got one for $5 at a local computer/electronics shop. I hooked up the cable between my MacBook Pro and my DCR-HC36, fired up iMovie and voila it worked. I was able to import my videos with iMovie. That’s the short version.
And now for the trials and tribulations of figuring the thing out. I suppose I might have saved myself some trouble had I read the manual (I still haven’t).
I first tried to install the drivers on the Windows 7 laptop. Got an error message saying software was too old. I thought I’d be clever and install it in compatibility mode. It installed but the laptop still wouldn’t recognize the camera via USB. So I did some digging on Sony’s website. The didn’t have newer drivers, but it said it would work with their i.link cable (IEEE 1394). Well, the laptop didn’t have a FireWire port. So, then I tried to install the Mac software on my Macbook Pro. Got an error message that PowerPC software was no longer supported. There weren’t any newer drivers online either.
I did some searching and I found a lot of different answers for Windows and Macs. So I tried to install the drivers on my Vista laptop, but first I had to remove the hard drive that had Linux installed on it and put the old drive with Vista on it back into the laptop. I ran into the same issues that I had with Windows 7. I tried compatibility mode and installed the drivers but still no such luck. I found the same thing I could use a FireWire cable but not a USB cable. And then more web research said I could just hook up a FireWire cable and it would work.
The thing is if you use FireWire you do not need to install any drivers, but there was nothing on Sony’s website on for support. There should be a paragraph stating that since this camera first came out, they no longer have updated drivers for anything later than Vista or Mac OS X Leopard, but you can use a FireWire/i.link cable and don’t need any drivers.
If the cable hadn’t worked, the I was stuck with an obsolete camera, and they only way I could watch videos would be to hook it up directly to the TV or record it on a VCR.
Update—This was originally a page, and I made it my home page yesterday to show my solidarity that SOPA/PIPA need to be stopped. Online piracy is a problem and must be dealt with, but you don’t do it by creating laws that break the Internet and do more harm than good.
The blackout has begun: Wikipedia, Google, WordPress, reddit, and many others.
I’ve been using WP-DB-Backup to backup my database for this website, but I’ve always wanted a solution that backs up everything. I think I may have found it in XCloner. It backs up everything and I do mean everything. I have given it an initial test run. Seems to be pretty straightforward. I did get a JSON error at first. Searching the XCloner site suggested I turn compression off. It was off. I did notice that my backup was huge. I found a folder full of podcasts so I excluded that folder, reran it and it went off smoothly.
I’m testing it for a client that also has a WordPress website. The nice thing about XCloner is that you can create a local backup or push it offsite to another server or store in the Cloud (like Amazon’s S3).
Yeah, I don’t know what it stands for either*. It’s the acronym for the Berkeley distributed computing project. Back in the late 90′s I participated in the SETI@Home project. You let the software use idle CPU cycles to search for artificial signals from deep space. I participated for a few years and ended up earning 2000 credits. I printed out my certificate and it’s laying about someplace. Anyway the distributed computing project was so popular Berkeley created a platform called BOINC and now there are dozens of projects. Tens of thousands of computers have participated creating vast networks of supercomputing power very cheaply.
I’ve got two old laptops I’m using as home servers (one is for web development work). Originally the laptops were used to play around with Linux and also to do development work for clients. I ended up turning the first one into a print server on our home network. Now we don’t have to take our laptops into my office to print. Since this server is on all the time heating up the room (slightly), my mind harkened back to SETI@Home. I knew there were other projects so I looked at the list to see what struck my fancy. I found two. MilkyWay@Home and climateprediction.net.
MilkyWay@Home uses data from the Digital Sloan Sky Survey to help generate an accurate 3D model of our own galaxy. The other climatepredition.net is to run climate models and test the accuracy of climate models up to the year 2100. I chose the latter first as it seemed to be more practical. Actually I ended up choosing both, and I’mÂ running each on their own laptop.
Although I accept the science for global warming, if I discuss it I don’t need to base my arguments on climate models. There’s plenty of hard evidence that humans have altered the climate. However, we do need to be able to predict the climate if people (mostly Americans) do not change the way they live to stop climate change. Computer climate modeling got underway in the 1970′s and those models have gotten more accurate and computers have gotten immensely more powerful since them. It would be useful to test to verify how accurate those models are. And if they are off then they can be improved.
If it turns out the climate models predict less serious consequences of human activity and those models have been made more accurate then that would be a good thing. I think it’s unlikely but we won’t know until we look. I suspect (and computer models have already predicted) that human caused climate change is going to be very bad for us. But we still have a window of opportunity to mitigate the worst consequences. We can’t stop it, but can slow it and eventually reverse it, but that will take centuries. However, that window is closing, and I don’t know how much time we’ve got.
Whether it’s for fun or serious reasons these distributed computing projects allow citizens to participate in large projects. And as computing power continues to improve these projects will help to solve pressing problems.
*Berkeley Open Infrastructure for Network Computing