Archives for April 2004

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WIFI: Javalinas in Tucson

So I haven't been there, but Bonnie from Javalinas left me a comment saying that her shop now has wifi and looking for ways to promote that fact. I'm all for helping out places that have free wifi, so I figured I'd give it a mention here.

Now it's cool that Tucson places get in touch with me. I'm high on google for Tucson wifi, so that makes sense. But really, where are you LA wifi spots? I want places to go hang out and get work done.

running errands and getting ready to move

I've been running a lot of errands the last two days, which is pretty exhausting. I especially tire of the ones that take me to campus, since that means having to either walk or get on the skateboard and head over there. Today I had to skate around campus for a bit carrying a wakeboard, which is a bit of a chore.

I wanted to get something printed at Kinkos, but didn't. I had the image as a tiff file, and they wanted $5 to convert it to a PDF. I wasn't about to pay them $5 for something I could do myself in a good 30 seconds. So I didn't print it. I will sometime. It's just a little sign for our waterski equipment locker. Other lockers have these cheesy little clipart signs, so I put this together to show off a little.

Tomorrow we do the move-in inspection for the new apartment downtown. I'm excited to get in there, but it'll be a two-week process moving out of here and into there. Complicating things is the fact that I've only got one refrigerator, so that's either going to be here or there, and wherever it is is going to be the better of the two places to be. Oh well. I probably won't move that until the 12th.

on the go

Today was a busy day for me. I started off making the drive out to Woodland Hills to Sports Ltd. The waterski team needed to spend the rest of its money before the semester was out, so I ended up buying two skis and a wakeboard. Steve's a good guy and gave us a great deal, so I was happy with what we got out of it.

First on the list was getting a ski for the ladies. We haven't had a good girls' ski for the team, so for them I picked up a 63" HO (flash site, you'll have to navigate in on your own) Odyssey with the Venom high wraps. It's part of HO's comp/freeride series, so it's a little wider and a little more forgiving than their regular competition line.

Next on the list was a good 66" ski. Here I got a Truth with double Animal boots set up left foot forward. The Truth evolved from the CDX, which is a ski I loved, so I'm definitely excited to get out on this one.

I wasn't planning to get a wakeboard, since we bought two last year, but it came to mind that we could really use a board with a flatter bottom for trick at tournaments. Tricking at a tournament is really entirely different than just going out and wakeboarding, and because of that you have different priorities in how you want the board to be set up. For normal riding you want the board to have lots of grip on the water so that you can cut harder and get more speed heading into the wake. To get that grip you see a combination of channels, molded fins (part of the board itself), and screw-in fins. For waterski tournament tricking, though, since you only have 20 seconds, a lot of what you score with are surface tricks, just spinning the board on the water. While you can get fins to break loose to do surface tricks with them in, it's a lot harder working against them than it is not having them there. The board I bought, a Liquid Force Litmus has only very shallow channels in the bottom of the board. It has six fins, but all can be removed. The middle of the board also has a rounded edge that makes it a lot less likely to catch on the water when you're doing stuff on the surface. That makes it a great board for tricking, and also a great board for beginners, since that's most often how they fall.

Now to get reimbursed for all that...

and they hid this from me

So today I wrote a 10 page paper in about three and a half hours. Unfortunately I only had three by the time I really got started, so I missed the class and have to turn it in to the professor's office. But that's neither here nor there.

To print the paper out I came to Annenberg, where I normally print things since they're cool and let you do it for free. Today, though, the lab was full, so they sent me down to the basement, to the Digital Lab. Why did I not know this was here? It's got souped up workstations with dual flatscreen monitors, attached DVCAM decks and firewire. I think normally you have to be in certain classes to get in, but I really need to find a way to get in here and transfer over a bunch of video I have sitting around on miniDV tapes.

Right now, though, I need to print a paper.

stupid technology

My cold beat me up last week, but it's been reduced to an occasional cough now, so I think it's about done. The end of the semester is no time to be sick. 15 more days and I'll be done (well, at least until my summer class starts up mid-June).

When I bought my laptop I also got a Linksys WPC11 pcmcia card for wireless. It was cheap, and people seemed to say it worked with Linux. Of course then I got it, and it turned out to be a version 4 card, which actually doesn't work well with linux at all. I sent it to Linksys, they replaced it with a version 3 card, and all was well.

Until recently.

Recently the card started driving me crazy by fairly frequently losing sync with the network and claiming signal strength was 100%. It would have to be ejected, reinserted, and then the interface re ifup'ed before it would work again. And about every fourth or fifth time it did this it would lock the machine up hard.

Last Tuesday night, after the card had locked the machine for the half-dozenth time that day, I got fed up.

So I threw the card at a wall, and the problems stopped.

Granted, the card also now didn't work. So today I bought a new card, this time a... wait for it... Microsoft MN-520. $29.99 at Circuit City and based on the Prism2 chipset, so it has great Linux support.

My desktop also has a Microsoft wireless IntelliMouse. Hmmmm... My keyboard, though, is still firmly Silicon Graphics.

fun with history

Sometimes I wish I could just sit around and read about history all day. Today, while looking for nothing in particular, I ended up at That led me to, where I clicked around for a little bit before discovering their tour of the Figueroa corridor. Stop number four on that tour is the Stimson House, something I've passed by many times and always wondered about. Interestingly, the Stimson House is an example of Richardsonian architecture, the same as Hackley Public Library in Muskegon, MI. I only remembered it was Richardsonian because I was bored once and stood outside the library reading the historical information sign.

Anyway... Looking up more info about the Stimson House I happened across the fact that there once was a Wrigley Field in Los Angeles. I had never heard of it, but it was home to the Dodgers for parts of the '58 season and home to the Angels for '61. That means that my grandfather played there, which is cool.

Here's a question... Why can't I find a site that lets me look up the box scores for random old games? For instance, I know that the Yankees visited the Angels May 5-7, 1961, so why can't I look up those games?

T minus 25 days

It's kind of a weird feeling to not know where you're going to be living in just 25 days. My rent at City Park is up May 15. Conveniently that's just 4 days after my last final. The place where we want to live next year has a 2br available, but we need to move on it quickly. We've also been unable to so far find a third for the summer, which is annoying.

So, uhhh, if anyone needs a place downtown for the summer, let me know.

I'll be glad when all this is taken care of. Really, I'll be more glad when I graduate and can put all this behind me and just work like a normal person.


So I went off for the weekend, had a little fun at a waterski tourney, came back with a nice sore throat, and am now sucking on cough drops like it's a job.

It's still kind of amazing to me to go to these tournaments and hang out next to people like Jimmy Siemers. Take a look at that list of accomplishments. And here I am, out there on the same lake he is, theoretically competing in the same tournament, but... not really. It is kind of funny sitting at the lake reading the article about Jimmy in this month's Waterski Magazine while he's throwing a football fifteen feet behind me.

Now I'm back in the grind, trying not to die while catching up on schoolwork before the semester ends. This whole being sick thing really didn't pick a great time.

The Development of Cable and Satellite

(This post is part of a series on FCC regulation of indecency. To see the whole series, click on the FCC Category.)

With the introduction of cable, broadcast slowly started to lose its prominence. This wasn't what it was meant to do. Initially cable was simply a means to get the broadcast channels to homes that for reasons of terrain were unable to receive them. The first cable companies consisted of a central antenna which through size or location was able to pick up the broadcasts. The channels were then sent over cables to homes which paid to be hooked up to the system. Over time cable evolved, adding channels from farther away, and then channels that weren't broadcast anywhere. A fundamental characteristic of cable systems is the requirement that the user pays the cable company to deliver programming to their home.

Satellite -- which in this case we're using to mean just DBS services such as DirecTV and Dish Network -- developed much later but shares this same characteristic. The user pays not just for the hardware, but also for a subscription. While satellite is "broadcast" in that the signal is wirelessly sent via the spectrum, the signals are useless without a subscription, which serves as a key to decoding the digital signal and accessing its content.

The Scarcity Doctrine

(This post is part of a series on FCC regulation of indecency. To see the whole series, click on the FCC Category.)

The FCC came into being because the early days of broadcast were unregulated, leading to a crowded and chaotic radio spectrum. In 1927 the Federal Radio Commission was created to issue licenses, regulate spectrum, and generally just keep the chaos from making radio unusable. The recipients of these licenses were then given certain requirements about what they could and could not broadcast.

These regulations were put into place with the justification that the broadcast spectrum is a public good and therefore the FRC (and then the FCC) must regulate it with the interests of the listening public, not the broadcasters. Licenses were granted to certain broadcasters in certain markets depending on market conditions and the type of programming the broadcaster wanted to offer. This second part is where the first ammendment comes in -- it's content based regulation of speech. If you say you're going to do one thing and the FCC grants you a license based on the fact that the genre you wish to provide is something underserved, they can stop you if you go and try to change your station into something else a little bit later. These days scarcity doesn't get the play that it once did, but it's still around. The court has said scarcity is less of an issue these days, but they haven't gotten rid of it for broadcast.

Regulating Protected Speech

(This post is part of a series on FCC regulation of indecency. To see the whole series, click on the FCC Category.)

Just because speech is protected by the first ammendment doesn't mean that it is acceptable at all times and free from regulation. You can't yell fire in a crowded place, you can't talk about bombs at the airport, etc. We're familiar with these restrictions in day to day life.

Indecent speech is regulated far more heavily for broadcast than it is for other mediums. Again looking at the Pacifica ruling, the Court said that "of all forms of communication, it is broadcasting that has received the most limited First Amendment protection." Where certain indecent speech might be absolutely legal in other contexts, it can be regulated for broadcast. To justify this, the Court has used two doctrines: scarcity and unique pervasiveness. I'll address them both in a minute.

Regulation of broadcast speech can take two forms: content based (regulating on the basis of what's being said) and non-content based (requirements to carry something, not on the basis of what it is). Content based is pretty straight forward. That's the FCC saying you can't say certain words, or at certain times, etc. Non-content based is a little more esoteric, and usually comes up in the form of things like must-carry rules. Must-carry requires that a cable company transmit the signals of any broadcast stations in its area.

Non-content based regulations aren't subject to the same kinds of strict scrutiny that content based regulations are. Though those are currently a debated issue in regards to extending cable must-carry rules to satellite, I don't think they're that important and we're not going to get into them here.

Is this Protected Speech?

(This post is part of a series on FCC regulation of indecency. To see the whole series, click on the FCC Category.)

The first thing you have to look at in this argument is whether the speech that the FCC is regulating is protected by the first ammendment. Everything hinges on that. If it's not protected Congress and the FCC can do whatever they want. If it is, though, then a variety of other questions have to be asked.

The type of speech we're talking about here is indecency, not obscenity. PBS has a really good resource on the first ammendment. In it you'll see the criteria for obscenity set out in Miller vs. California (413 U.S. 15 (1973)). That's the important criteria here. Obscene material does not have first ammendment protections, and can be freely legislated (well, to some extent anyway). In any case, obscenity is illegal for broadcast at all times.

Indecency, on the other hand, is protected speech. The Court, in the decision for FCC vs. Pacifica (483 U.S. 726 (1978)), said "But the fact that society may find speech offensive is not a sufficient reason for suppressing it. Indeed, if it is the speaker's opinion that gives offense, that consequence is a reason for according it constitutional protection. For it is a central tenet of the First Amendment that the government must remain neutral in the marketplace of ideas." Though indecency and obscenity are often taken as the same, legally they are very different.