Originally published at Customerservant.com. You can comment here or there.

Today is my final day down here in Florida.
I leave for Greenville tomorrow, to start making preparations to work from
home.
I don’t know when I’m supposed to get the new computer, but I plan on
calling Division of Services for the Blind Monday morning to get them to
bring by the loaner.
It looks like I’ll be working from 10:30 to 19:00, but I’m going to see if,
when the days start getting shorter, I can manage to either work different
hours, or work from 8:30 to 19:00 on most days and have Fridays off due to
Shabbat.
I’ll also look into getting as much advanced notice for Rosh Hashanah, Yom
Kippur, Sukkot, and Simhat Torah.
It’ll be nice to spend the holiday season as it was meant to be spent,
instead of spending it at work and thinking from time to time that, “Hey,
it’s the *th Day of Sukkot” or something like that.
I’m hoping to be able to get a scanner, and OpenBook, so I can scan my mail
and maybe even some books.
That would be nice.
The future looks a whole lot different from here.
If anyone had said I might have a different job that would be so drastically
different and a lot more satisfying even six months ago, I probably would
have done something close to laughing at them, if not outright laughed at
them.
Sometimes life can change in unforeseen ways.
I just finished reading Street Lawyer by John Grisham, which is about
a lawyer who gets held hostage by a homeless man in the conference room of
his firm, and ends up quitting his job and working for a legal clinic for
homeless people.
All of this happened within one month according to the book.
It was a good one, and was a good example of how life can change so quickly.
It’ll be interesting to see what the future brings, and while I’m guaranteed
nothing, I can still be thankful for what I’ve been so generously blessed
with, or for the cards I have been unexpectedly dealt, however you want to
view it.

Originally published at Customerservant.com. You can comment here or there.

Today is my last day of training/working on-sight, so Denise sent in some
chocolate chip and pican cookies.
They are really good, and I’m going to try to make it a point to take some
with me.
I’m leaving to head home for Greenville on Sunday, and hope to start working
as soon as possible.
The airline still hasn’t recovered my laptop, but there’s a complaint in,
and one of the supervisors I’ve spoken to has kept in touch via email.
It’s been kind of slow today since everyone’s headed to either the ACB or
NFB convention.
I plan to spend tomorrow packing and lazing around since I’ll have to leave
early Sunday morning.

Originally published at Customerservant.com. You can comment here or there.

I left work yesterday with Joe and his wife, who gave me a ride over to Wil and Denise’s apartment, which is where I’m staying for the weekend.
We’re going out with most of the rest of the people from Tech Support later on to a place called Cody’s.
Last night, Will, Denise and I went to a place called the Ail House, and we had a ball drinking pitchers of beer and eating these things called “zingers”, which are these boneless chicken wings with hot sauce on them.
We had a good time joking around.
I even learned a new slur for sighted people: Light slaves.
I think it definitely fits.
Tomorrow, we plan to go to Radio Shack to pick up the mic and adapter I need in order to podcast with the PacMate.
We also plan to consume more beer.
I’ve started taking calls at work, and I’ve gotten used to being on the phone.
They’re still monitoring me, and apparently there are some things I still need to be trained on, but other than that things seem to be shaping up.
I think they could have had this training done in two weeks, but what the hell.
It’s off to breakfast for me, (coffee and muffins), but there’ll be more later.

Originally published at Customerservant.com. You can comment here or there.

When I got back to my aunt’s this evening, I decided to see if I would get lucky enough to find the file I needed to restore my contacts in the recycle bin, since for some reason, the sync operation at work managed to delete the contacts on the work computer as well, which everyone (Jim, myself, and Cory) agree should not have happened.
Anyway,where, in the recycle bin, so everything’s restored.
For once, the damn thing came in handy.

Originally published at Customerservant.com. You can comment here or there.

In the midst of importing/exporting all my data from Outlook to come back and forth from work to my aunt’s house, i’ve managed to get all my calendar and contact data deleted!
Man, that really sucks.
I hope I can replace it all when I get to work.
I deleted the ActiveSync partnership from my aunt’s computer, and can easily recreate it.
I guess I’ll just have to export everything when I get to work in case the screw-up manages to delete all the data from that system as well.
I’m sure this is easily fixable, but I’ve managed to create a major inconvenience for myself.
Yay for dumbassery.

Originally published at Customerservant.com. You can comment here or there.

Topeka, Kansas – The founder of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation is threatening a lawsuit against the U.S. military over what he says are anti-Semitic
materials on a Fort Leavenworth Web site. (Source).

Unfortunately, the text in question has been removed.
I would have liked to have seen it for myself.
I find this story disturbing, but probably not for the reason most people might.
I believe that, as Jews, we need to be very careful when deciding whether or not to level the anti-semitism charge, or we may find ourselves in the same situation as the boy who cried wolf.
If we’re talking about your average Christian missionizing, while I as a Jew strongly disagree with their point of view, and wish they would just leave people alone, their standard operating procedure isn’t necessarily anti-semitic.
If they’re going on about how the Jews killed their god,and accusing Jews of terrorist acts only because they are Jews, then that’s anti-semitic and needs to be dealt with.
But I think the army needs to be given a chance to deal with the situation in question before some hotshot lawyer goes threatening lawsuits.
Threatening needless lawsuits has a nasty habit of creating the very thing we’re all wary of and do our best to avoid, anti-semitic backlashes.
I wish these zealots would consider that before they start shouting from the rooftops.

Originally published at Customerservant.com. You can comment here or there.

June 5, 2007, 6:09PM EST

The Justice Dept.’s proposal on digital copyright protection puts violators
in the same league as terrorists and criminals. It’s excessive

by Gigi B. Sohn

BusinessWeek Magazine Editorial Opinion

The good news about recent proposals from the Justice Dept. (DOJ),
regarding the enforcement of intellectual property protection, is that they
show the DOJ is committed to recycling. The bad news is that it’s recycling
ideas that were bad in 2005 when they first appeared, and continue to be
ill-conceived today.

The proposal clearly demonstrates the dreams of many in the content
community, including trade groups such as the Recording Industry
Association of America and the Motion Picture Association of America. For
the rest of us, and for technology companies like Google (GOOG),
Cablevision (CVC), Sling Media, or TiVo (TIVO), the proposals are a nightmare.

We support the enforcement of copyright law and the protection of copyright
holders’ rights. But we are concerned that the DOJ proposals would enforce
copyright law in ways never before contemplated. Indeed, the DOJ is better
suited to chasing down drug dealers and terrorists than it is to dealing
with small tech companies or individual computer users. This proposal even
drags the Homeland Security Dept. into copyright enforcement.

A Big Target for Enforcers

Most problematic is the idea of making “attempted” copyright infringement a
criminal offense. No longer would you need to actually infringe on
something to find yourself subject to the full panoply of investigatory
tools available to federal prosecutors and law enforcement agencies. The
government would be allowed to wiretap and read the personal communications
of anyone suspected of the vague offense of “attempted” copyright
infringement, a crime for which there is no definition. Thus, an attempt to
download an illegal MP3 would join the ranks of such “similar” crimes as
bribing officials, taking hostages, and unlawful use of explosives.

Adding attempted infringement to the mix would mean that individuals and
companies could be investigated and prosecuted even when they’ve caused no
harm. Where do you draw the line at what is an attempt? Is a startup’s
business plan, one that fails to successfully navigate this incredibly
complex area of law, an attempt? What about a student installing a
file-sharing program, without downloading copyrighted materials?

The bar for such an offense is startlingly low, making every person and
company a more ready target for the enforcers.

Enlisting the Border Patrol

The penalties in this bill are also out of touch with reality and more
appropriate to violent criminal offenses.

The DOJ would require courts to confiscate and destroy or dispose of “any
property used, or intended to be used, in any manner or part, to commit or
facilitate” infringement. Such a provision would put an offender’s computer
at risk of being auctioned off like a car or boat seized from a drug dealer.

These penalties even extend to activities that aren’t traditional copyright
infringement, such as some questionable precepts of the Digital Millennium
Copyright Act (DMCA). For instance, one regularly criticized provision of
the DMCA is that it prevents users from circumventing or bypassing
technological locks that control access to digital media, even when they
are doing so for legitimate, legal uses of the copyrighted work. The DOJ’s
bill would add to this absurdity with these harsher penalties.

Even the extra penalties aren’t enough for the beneficiaries of the DOJ
proposal. It must be a comfort to Time Warner (TWX) or Sony (SNE), or even
individual artists, to know this proposal would enable them to pay a fee to
have the U.S. Customs & Border Protection notify them whenever someone
tries to import bootleg copies of “sounds and images of a live musical
performance.” Apparently, our border patrol and customs agents don’t have
enough to do, so they can be hired out as enforcers for a favored industry.

Seeing Criminals Everywhere

What’s missing from the DOJ’s proposal is any sense of realization that
consumers actually have the legal right to use copyrighted material without
permission. Legislation (HR 1201), proposed by representatives Rick Boucher
(D-Va.) and John Doolittle (R-Calif.), would restore some balance by
writing into law the principal upheld in 1984 by the Supreme Court, which
ruled that device manufacturers aren’t infringers just because their
products can be used for substantial non-infringing uses. The bill also
would allow for some exemptions from the DMCA to permit circumvention of
digital rights management while putting some limits on statutory damages.

Instead, the DOJ proposal treats everyone as a potential criminal. It fails
to recognize the benefits of technological innovation by companies such as
BitTorrent and YouTube—benefits that even record and movie companies are
beginning to acknowledge through commercial agreements.

We can only hope that the 2007 version of these proposals suffers the same
fate as the 2005 version—a descent into the obscurity they deserve.

Originally published at Customerservant.com. You can comment here or there.

Today was long but productive. I got two tons of document’n this
morning, which I’m grateful for.
One of my coleagues, Kim, has apparently spent the last three years
collecting and organizing everything she can get hold of.
All of that will come in handy, and I look forward to adding to
that.
The plan is to start a collection on one of the company drives to
store all the information, and then give copies to new trainees on
portable storage.
I talked to the airline today.
They’ve started a corporate investigation in order to find my
missing laptop, and I’m really hoping they find it.
They’ve said they’ll replace it if they don’t find it, but in order
for them to do that, I’ll have to get a copy of a six-year-old
receipt from Gateway.
That should be fun.
I have to call my bank sometime this week to find out if I’ll be
able to make a deposit from Florida to a North Carolina account.
If I can’t, it’ll be do big deal, but it would be nice to have some
extra money while I’m down here.
I plan to go to Radio Shack while I’m down here and get a
directional mic so I can start podcasting.
I think that would be fun.
More later.

Originally published at Customerservant.com. You can comment here or there.

Given that it’s so hot down here, I’ve found that taking a siesta, or afternoon nap, is not an option but a requirement.
It’s starting to cool off now I think, so hopefully the house will cool down.
I’ve probably sweat off a ton, and I don’t see that changing any time soon unless we’re talking temporary, which means a cold shower.
We’re having grilled hot dogs for supper, which definitely smell good.
My uncle is a great cook, and that’s always something to look forward to.
I wonder if, after eating supper late for the last month, I’ll go home and still keep to that schedule.
I’ll probably switch back eventually, but it’ll be different for a while.

Originally published at Customerservant.com. You can comment here or there.

I managed to make it into Tampa on Sunday night, around 20:00 or so.
The cabbie ended up charging me extra for the luggage, as I suspected, and I could have dealt with that in itself.
But things really started getting interesting once I got to the airport.
I managed to get assistance, and found out that it would cost me $80 to $100 to check each individual bag over two, so I decided to carry the rest onto the plane.
When I went through security, they asked me if I could take my shoes off by myself or if I needed someone to do it for me.
Then, they had to take the laptop, because they had to run some “tesses”.
Their words, not mine.
needless to say, I was getting worried at this point.
Once I headed for the plane, the person assisting me told me that two of my bags would not fit under the seat, and that he was putting them in overhead storage, and that I should ask about them once I got to Charlotte.
OK, fair enough.
But when I got to Charlotte, and asked about my bags, there was no sign of them.
I also missed my connecting flight, and so had to wait until almost 18:00 to catch the next flight.
I’ve been trying to find them ever since.
Everyone with the airline seems to have developed a case of the stupids, so I’m calling the Greenville airport today.
I’m missing my laptop, and the suitcase that has all my non-work clothes, along with other vitally needed things, like undergarments.
I hate people.
I really really do.
Now, it looks like I’ll have to go buy new clothes for the time being, which really pisses me off.
The laptop was about to get retired, so while I’m not happy about it being missing, I can deal with it.
While I’m here I can use my aunt’s computer, and I’m sure I can get some things worked out as far as email is concerned.
The clothes, on the other hand, are a different story.
On top of all that, my favorite person in the whole wide world is extremely ill, and I can’t be there to take care of him.
But on a lighter note, the people I’m working with are very nice, and work is going well.
More on that, and everything else, later.