28 May 2009

Mass media ignore CC licensing

While reading a Norwegian online newspaper tonight, I noticed that the paper had used a Creative Commons-licensed picture from flickr as an illustrative image for the article I was reading. I thought it was nice to see how the CC-license was used in a mass media site.

The picture was good, so I thought I'd look it up, and look at other images from the same photographer. The paper had credited the image with the flickr screen name, so it was fairly easy to find. To my surprise I found that the image had "All rights reserved", the opposite of a CC-license. The picture was used illegally by the paper...

I think such a license-violation is pretty serious when done by a major paper. As the curious guy I am, I thought I'd check if this was the case with more images. I ran a Google-search for articles on the site with the text "Creative Commons" within the last month. I got quite a few hits, and ended up checking 14 images.

One of the photos used legally. From lyng883 with CC BY-license

Of these 14 images 1 had no info about photographer or license, 6 used the image without violating the CC-license chosen by the photographer and 7, 50% of the images, were in clear violation of the license. 2 of these 7 even had "All rights reserved".

I put the details in a Google Docs spreadsheet here, which have links to all articles I checked, and, if found, links to the flickr-pages of the pictures used. In addition the spreadsheet has my analysis (in Norwegian) on whether the license was broken, and, if so, in what way.

My conclusion from this is that the journalists in this paper have little or no respect for the licensing of the pictures they find at flickr. When journalists, which should be trained in this, and to be expected to withstand from illegal use of intellectual property, have such disregard for the licensing, are we then naive to think others respect the licensing?

Update: It seems that this in part can be caused by photographers changing the license on their pictures. This is likely the case for the first pictures I checked, the photographer for this has told me that it used to be under CC-license up untill a couple of weeks ago.

This case is more complicated than I first thought...

Update 2: The paper has now replaced the image in the article which I linked to in the top. Both a journalist and the editor of the paper have stated that the picture should not have been used, and that they probably made an error during the search that found the image. What they have not done, is fix the 6 other errors I also found. I don't think they really understood the full extent of this.

I do not know if the paper understands the problem of photographers changing the license on the pictures on flickr. There is a good change this paper actually never did anything wrong on the picture they now have removed. From the response I got from the journalist, it seems that they had fetched the picture some time ago, probably before the license was changed (as the photographer told she had done).

The interesting problem here is that the CC rules state that when you have applied a CC-license to a photo, or something else, this is permanent. The situation the paper ended up in shows why this is necessary. The problem is that flickr does not enforce this rule, the users are free to change the license any way they like. There is an interesting article in Wired on this problem.

21 May 2009

The Jacket

My previous post honored the memory of my late grandmother through a recipe of hers. A few days back I very briefly met someone who honored the memory of someone close to her through a jacket.

It happened on my way to work. I have a long commute to work, train first and then tram the last stretch. As I was waiting at the tram stop one morning, I noticed a woman wearing a suede leather jacket. It seemed old and out of fashion, and I was thinking she probably got it from the Salvation Army outlet. My first impression of the lady was that she was someone without a lot of money, living a hard life.

Then I noticed that the price tag, which was hanging in a string on her back. It was still attached to the jacket, like it would be if the jacket was hanging in a store. I also noticed that the tag was really old. Both the plastic pocket holding the tag, and the tag itself, had turned yellowish. I was a bit puzzled by this, but didn’t think more of it. I was thinking I should tell her about the tag, but before I got to it the tram arrived.

We both got on the same tram, she went onboard before me. It was a bit full, and I ended up sitting down next to her. Now I finally got around to warning her about the tag on her back. I just expected a slightly embarrassed reply from her, and a thank you. But the reply surprised me.

She did say thank you, slightly embarrassed. But then, while tucking in the tag, she told me why the tag was there. She had inherited the jacket from her dad when he died. Her father had been so proud of this jacket that he didn’t want to take the tag off. When she inherited the jacket she kept the tag on as a way to honor the memory of her dad.

I totally didn’t see that coming. I just replied with an ok, not saying anything more during the trip. But it made me think. I thought about how we nowadays we throw away perfectly good clothes just because they’re out of fashion. I thought about what kind of relationship she had with her dad. It seemed like she missed him a lot. I thought about how easy it is to make snap judgments of people I know nothing about. And I thought about how many people I pass by every day on my commute, people with interesting stories, stories that I will never stop to listen too.

19 April 2009

In memory of

I loved my grandmother. She was the kind of grandmother that always made you feel very welcome at her house.

She mixed 150g margarine and 150g sugar and whipped it until white.

My grandmother was strict, but fair. She was the boss in the house. I felt safe around her.

She mixed in 3 eggs, one at the time.

Her kids, my family, are spread around the country, but at Christmas we would always gather at my grandparents house. Those always were very happy times.

She mixed in, a bit at the time, 190g of flour, ½ a teaspoon of baking powder and ¾ dl of milk.

There would always be wonderful food when we visited my grandmother.

She put the mix in a buttered cake tin.

Some of my fondest childhood memories are from eating at my grandmother's house.

She peeled 2 green apples, and split them into wedges. She then put the wedges into the mix already in the tin.

I loved the apple cake she made. I didn't really have apple cake anywhere else. Or maybe I just don't remember having it anywhere else? Nothing could compare to her apple cake.

She sprinkled 3 tablespoons of brown sugar on top of the mix.

There was something unique about the texture, the flavor, the mix of the sweetness of the dough and the acidity of the apples, in this cake. And it was so wonderfully fluffy.

She baked it at 175 degrees C for 40 minutes.

My grandmother died a few years ago. I will always miss, and cherish the memory of, the times I was able to eat her apple cake.

She served me the cake as dessert tonight. I turned quiet when eating it.

She looked at me, wondering what was wrong.

My wife had baked apple cake with my grandmother's recipe, and it was exactly like I remembered my grandmother's apple cake.

I got teary-eyed. I never thought I would taste grandmother's apple cake again. Now my wife had made it for me, and she hadn't even got to meet my grandmother.

I hadn't been happier in a long time.

I love you dear wife.

Rest in peace grandmother.

25 February 2009

Finally I Understand the U.S. Finance Crisis

There have been many, many attempts to explain to regular people what the finance crisis is, and what caused it. We have been told that greed and taking insane risks has been part of it, but it's been hard to understand why.

Finally someone has done the masterpiece of explain it in a way that should make it understandable for everyone. In addition it's done in a very good looking way :)

Via NRKbeta via @MartinBekkelund

22 February 2009

Why removing IE6 is hard

There's a current campaign to make people stop using Internet Explorer version 6 (IE6), and upgrade to a more modern browser. It originated in Norway, and has a lot of momentum here, but is also getting noticed internationally (link to Norwegian site). Because a lot of people still use IE6, the people creating web sites still have to include support for this browser in the sites they build. Takes quite a few man-hours, and those hours are not cheap. For more info check out the wiki, IE6: Do NOT want!, made for the campaign or listen in on the twitter stream #IE6.

I am a strong supporter of this campaign. I have been following this campaign from the very start, both on twitter, blogs and news sites. People are very excited, lots of people are supporting it and everyone agrees on what the problem is. Drivers of the campaign have also expressed that they think removing IE6 from use in large companies and government will be the biggest challenge. I totally agree on that. But I have not seen awareness, with some exceptions (links to Norwegian sites), on why so many enterprises and government still use IE6, and why it will be hard for them to upgrade. I feel that many taking part of the campaign needs a better understanding of why this is such a big problem. Only by understanding the problem can the campaign successfully influence government and enterprises.

Why are enterprises/government still using IE6?
A reason often mentioned is that IT-departments need to standardize the software run in the enterprise to simplify support and more. And when all employees use the same browser because of standardization, a new browser must be tested thoroughly before it is deployed therefore making an browser-upgrade expensive. From my previous experience working in an IT-department, I fully agree.

However this is, in my view, not the biggest cost. Enterprises and government typically have a big portfolio of custom-made systems, where a large part of these systems is web-apps, meaning the browser is used to access it. Commonly these web-apps were built supporting only the browser that was the IT-department's standard, typically IE6. Accessing these apps with a newer browser can result in the layout of the pages getting messed up, and even breaking some functionality.

This implies that the task of upgrading the browser must be accompanied by an upgrade/replacement of several of the custom-made web-apps used in the government/enterprise. Building a new system, or even upgrading an existing one, requires a lot of man-hours, or rather, IT-consultant-hours, who usually build such apps. IT-consultants don't come cheap (I know because I'm one of them). The enterprises/government will not take this cost without a very good reason. As long as they are not given such a very good reason, they will keep running IE6 to support old web-apps, until these web-apps are not needed/replaced.

Everyone has known for a long time that building for IE6 only is bad. Why was it done for so long?
One might wonder why the old custom-made web-apps built to support IE6 only are still in use in enterprises/government. It’s a long time since web-developers learned that they should build web-apps with multi-browser support. The answer is that web-developers kept building apps supporting IE6 only for a long time, even when they knew it was bad practice.

I posted a twitter message about this campaign a few days ago, trying to bring up the cost of replacing old web-apps built for IE6. One of the responses I got was this: "If you first develop a solution for IE6 only, then that's a cost you should take. That's bad practice from start to end... :-)". I agree that it's a bad practice, but the world of IT-projects, which develop the web-apps, is a world of compromises...

An IT-project is never funded enough for it to be able to deliver the perfect system. There's always a fight between developers wanting to build a system following best practices and the need to finish on budget and on time. The latter two usually gets higher priority.

If there is a concrete, and current, need for multi-browser support, that need usually gets priority in the project. This is typically the case for non-internal apps, e.g. a portal for customers. Apps used internally only are a different matter. Unless there is a clear policy from the project-owner for multi-browser support for internal apps, this support ends up far down on the list of priorities for the project, and maybe not making it through. If it doesn't, the web-app is built supporting only the browser currently used by the project owner.

Hopefully, most project-owners now have policies requiring multi-browser support even for internal web-apps, but from my own, and colleagues', experience this was not common earlier. This means that a lot of web-apps were built with support only for the browser currently in use at the project owner (typically IE6). This again meant that it would be even more expensive to upgrade to a better browser, since more systems needed upgrading/replacement, therefore pushing an upgrade ahead. This again meant continuing development of internal web-apps supporting only IE6, giving a catch-22 situation. Hopefully IT-departments implemented a policy for multi-browser support when they discovered this catch-22. But that took time, giving the answer to why IE6-only web-apps was built for so long.

14 February 2009

Giving away invites to Spotify

I have a few Spotify invites left over after completing my mission of spreading Spotify amongst my friends and colleagues. Do you want one? Leave a comment with your email, and I'll send you one (if I have more left). It might be smart to mask the email address to avoid spam (e.g. myaddresse at gmail dot com).

Are you thinking "Spotify? What's that?"? If you listen to music from your pc, you really need to check it out! You'll need an invite though, leave your email and I'll provide...

13 February 2009

Internet and music - a perfect match

As do a lot of young people nowadays, I don't use physical CDs when I listen to music. Playing music always means playing MP3-files or streaming music from the Internet. The most common way to play music is using my iPod, both when commuting to work, and at work. Sometimes I use iTunes on the pc.

Lately I have fallen in love with Spotify, an amazing music streaming service which has a huge music library, and you can stream it exactly as you wish (full freedom in picking songs, skipping songs and so on). It has two subscription models, one free with adverts playing at times, and one paid with no ads.

What impresses me the most about Spotify is the client you install on your pc (available both for Mac and Windows). This client looks familiar for anyone using iTunes. The impressive part though, is that it is as responsive as iTunes as well. Find a song, press play, and it starts playing instantly. Skip to the middle of the song and it happens instantly. No noticable buffering. You'll forget you're streaming from the Internet and not playing your MP3s.

iPod, iTunes and Spotify share one thing, they are all able to "scrobble" to last.fm, another great Internet music service. Scrobbling means uploading information about what you're listening to last.fm. By telling last.fm what you listen to, it can show you what you have listened to lately, which songs and artists you listen to the most, and more. However, the real value appears when last.fm compares what you listen too with what other users listen to, and find users sharing your music taste. Based on this it gives recommendations on music you might like, but you don't have already. A great way to discover new music.

I do scrobble from both my iPod, iTunes and Spotify. This covers 99% percent of the music I listen too, meaning that I tell last.fm about pretty much all the music I listen too. My last.fm profile is public, so anyone can see what I've listened to. It feels a bit strange letting everyone know every song I listen too, but then again, openness is a part of the Web 2.0 revolution, which I'm a big fan of.

If you want to check you what I listen to, look here: www.last.fm/user/arakvaag. Or, you can just look below and see which albums I play the most. If you want more info on a specific album, click on the album cover and you'll be brought to last.fm's page for it :)

04 February 2009

I'm on twitter!

I have now started using Twitter. Been testing it for a while, and it is really growing on me :)

You find my tweets on twitter.com/arakvaag.