The Town Play

You'll notice that one of the entries in my wiseacre tagline is amateur actor. I actually considered acting as a profession long ago, but it turns out that doing it for the love of the theatre, while hacking computers to pay the mortgage, has worked out just fine for me.

Northern New Jersey is the perfect place for amateur actors, since you can't swing a dead cat without hitting a community theatre. I've done some CT shows, but the bulk of my post-college acting career has been with The Celtic Theatre Company, not coincidentally in residence at my alma mater, Seton Hall.

But, as Arlo Guthrie said, that's not what I came to tell you about.

There's a wonderful tradition here in the town of Nutley, one of the little things that makes the town a somewhat anachronistic throwback in this collection of little cities orbiting the Big Apple. We have a town play. Once a year, the town's Department of Parks and Recreation produces a full-scale musical, with all actors being Nutley residents. I mean, how Mayberry can you get? But it's great. I've gotten the opportunity to share the stage with my children, and share my love of acting with my neighbors. Plus, I never did the old-school musicals when I was young, so things like Annie Get Your Gun are new experiences for me.

So, the town play's come around again this year, and it's Oliver! (Yes, the exclamation point is part of the title.) And I'm playing Fagin. Seeing as how this is a personal blog, I'm going to occasionally toss in a post on how things are going.


Lesson learned from Sony CD infection

As the blogs go wild posting the latest tidbit about Sony BMG CDs (the story has even made The New York Times), I suggest we stop and reflect for a bit.

By placing active Windows programs on what was supposed to be an audio CD, Sony BMG in effect launched an attack on your system -- if you run Windows, that is. In most cases, the attack is successful. But why? What defensive measure let you down here?

One of the biggest annoyances with Windows is the Autorun feature. This is the feature where the operating system detects insertion of a CD and then decides for you what to do about it. Luckily, the real geeks at Microsoft, the ones who actually write the Windows code, knew that this feature should be optional. Even more luckily, the folks who produce the O'Reilly book series Annoyances have a website that tells you how to turn off Autorun. Do it. Turn it off.

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Brilliant post at the Republic of Geektronica

One of my favorite blogs is The Republic of Geektronica. The latest post is a great example of why this is so.

Go read it.

No more Sony CDs for me

I buy a lot of music. I've posted a few photos of a small part of my collection of CDs here. I'll note that in both photos, the CDs are two rows deep. This is in addition to over 1000 vinyl records, cassettes, and music DVDs. The point here is that the recording industry should be considering me as one of their best customers.

With that in mind, I'm making a pledge right now to never buy another CD from Sony BMG, or any future version of that corporation. This is tough, because Sony BMG owns the back catalog of a lot of my favorite artists -- Bruce Springsteen, Simon and Garfunkel, Bob Dylan. But I've decided that I now have had enough of their corporate contempt, and can find other places to satisfy my musical cravings.

If you haven't been following the tech news, you can catch up on it starting with this engadget.com entry. Short version: some Sony CDs automatically install software on computers when inserted in the CD-ROM drive; nasty, sneaky software that is as bad as any virus or spyware. Well, I don't need their product anymore. I'll be getting any new music from archive.org, where it's perfectly legal to download, copy to my hard disk, burn onto a CD, etc. And for the old favorites, why, I'm buying a new turntable.

UPDATE: Another link, this time pointing out that Sony's licensing of these not-really-CDs-anymore is quite alarming.

UPDATE: Wired columnist Dan Goodin goes even further, proposing a boycott of Sony. Sounds like a plan, because Sony is so far treating this as a PR gaffe, and still acts as though they did nothing wrong.

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Head Lemur's got copyright right

I just read a terrific opinion piece on copyright, that perfectly sums up my feelings on the topic. Rather than restate what's already been said so well, I'll just suggest that you click here and read the Head Lemur's post.

Usually, I hate blog entries that just point to other blog entries, but this deserves a wide audience.


NetFlix class action? OPT OUT!

Did you ever get one of those "official" letters saying that you may be entitled to something because of a class-action lawsuit? I hope by now it is starting to become common knowledge that this is the biggest con game going. If you don't believe me, check out the latest one, a suit against NetFlix. Pay particular attention to what you would get, what the initiator gets, and most importantly, what the lawyers get.

There's only one way for you and me to fight this lunacy. OPT OUT! Don't take the crappy little token they offer -- the five bucks or one month free or whatever. Take the time to send in the form that says to these bottom-feeders that they do not represent you or your interests. 'Cause they don't.

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