Tag Archives: Cross-Post

Battle for the Net: Help Keep the Internet Open!

The FCC wants to eliminate net neutrality, the principle that ISPs should treat all traffic the same, and not block, throttle, or promote data based on what service you’re using or who you’re connecting to. But we can stop them.

What’s Net Neutrality? Simple: your cable company shouldn’t decide where you get your news, what businesses you buy from, which video chat services and streaming services you use, or who you talk to.

Why do we need it? It used to be an unofficial rule, underlying the way the Internet was built over the years, until ISPs started to break it. For example:

  • Multiple ISPs intercepted search queries and sent them to their own portals.
  • AT&T blocked Skype on the iPhone.
  • Verizon blocked tethering apps.
  • Multiple carriers blocked Google Wallet in favor of their own payment services.

In 2015, after a public advocacy campaign, the FCC made it official: ISPs in the United States are now required to treat all traffic equally.

So what’s the problem? There’s a new chairman in charge, and he wants to remove the rule.

No doubt cable and phone companies will go back to their old tricks. Plus they could slow down access to news sites that disagree with them, or charge websites extra for the privilege of reaching their audience (when they already pay for their upload connection), or slow down services owned by competitors (consider: Verizon owns Tumblr and Flickr now, and Comcast owns NBC) in favor of their own.

That’s right: free speech, fair competition, and the price you pay for your internet service are all protected by net neutrality.

Rolling back net neutrality doesn’t help you, doesn’t help business, doesn’t help anyone but the existing carriers.

That’s why I’m joining the Battle for the Net — and you can, too. The FCC’s public comment period is still open. Contact the FCC and Congress (here’s a form), and tell them why Net Neutrality matters to you. Then spread the word.

Keeping the internet open is critical. Let’s work to keep it!

WonderCon Wants to Go Home

San Francisco StormtrooperPublisher’s Weekly reports that WonderCon still wants to return to the Bay Area, but that the limiting factor is scheduling.

  1. A convention needs additional days at the convention center to set up and tear down the event. So for a 3-day weekend event, they need to be in Wednesday or Thursday through Monday.
  2. They’ve been trying to avoid conflicting with other big comic conventions, specifically C2E2 in Chicago and Emerald City in Seattle. I remember one year they were the same weekend as MegaCon, but it was all the way on the East coast, so the two events were drawing from a different pool of guests and attendees.

With Moscone basically the only convention center in the area that’s big enough, their options are limited.

WonderCon’s last year (so far) in San Francisco was 2011. C2E2 launched in 2010, and grew to 41,000 attendees in 2012 and 50,000. Emerald City has been around for a decade, but expanded dramatically over the last few years, jumping from 13,000 attendees in 2009 to 32,000 in 2011. This year, all three cons* were in the 53-56K range.

The other shows’ explosion in size coincides with WonderCon’s move out of San Francisco. Both shows were already growing before WonderCon moved to Anaheim, so while I’m sure some former regulars decided to go to Emerald City instead, I doubt it accounts for the bulk of the growth. It makes me wonder (no pun intended) whether WonderCon might be facing similar scheduling conflicts even if it had stayed in San Francisco back in 2012.

If they do have to go up against another high-profile convention, it’s going to be one of those damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don’t situations. My feeling is they’d be better off scheduling for the same weekend as C2E2, since Chicago’s three times the distance and two time zones away. Sure, it could be seen as a proxy battle between the NYCC and SDCC juggernauts, but it would play better than looking like they’re stepping on the little guy.

*I couldn’t find figures for ECCC 2013, but Wikipedia cites 53K in 2012, and they’ve been growing every year. C2E2 2013 was 53K, and WonderCon’s site cites 56K for 2013.

I Watched Three Les Mis Parodies Last Night

Jean BonbobYesterday the Les Misérables Broadway page on Facebook linked to a YouTube video of “Les Mousserables,” a Sesame Street sketch in which Cookie Monster, as Jean Bonbon, must learn to recognize other people’s feelings and share his cookies. It was…okay I suppose. It had its moments (like “One Day S’more”), and it was fun to see them take on the movie’s visuals (Snuffleupagus as the Elephant of the Bastille, for instance). Maybe my expectations were too high, or I was in the wrong mood for it. I’ve seen a number of “Elmo the Musical” bits that were quite entertaining, and I loved the “Finishing the Splat” sketch with Oscar the Grouch.

Yes, I have a toddler in the house, in case you’re wondering.

YouTube recommended “Les Miseranimals,” which has long been one of my favorites. It’s the sketch that got me to look at Animaniacs at an age when I was old enough not to be interested in afternoon cartoons (with the exception of Batman: The Animated Series), and it was quickly clear that even if the show was aimed at younger viewers, there was plenty of fun for a teenager to enjoy as well. So we all watched a grainy copy on the tablet even though the crisp DVD was sitting on a shelf across the room. It still holds up, though some of the songs work better than others. I’m not sure how I never noticed before that M. Tristesse (the restaurant owner) is basically one of John Cleese’s French caricatures from Monty Python.

I also found it sad that Rita’s song “There is a Flat in Gay Paree” is no longer shorter than “Castle on a Cloud” in the current version of the show.

From there YouTube recommended a clip from Forbidden Broadway‘s take on the show, which turned out to be someone’s recording from the audience in some production. That sort of thing bugs me, but I watched the whole thing, having discovered a few months ago that my aging audio cassette is no longer playable (and not having gotten around to replacing it). This was hit and miss, partly because a lot of the parody depends on the show being new at the time.

I suppose technically I watched four parodies, because even though we were ready to stop after 30-40 minutes of tiny videos parodying the same show, there was a link to a three-minute clip called “On My Phone.” It’s apparently from a more recent Forbidden Broadway show, and it’s brilliant.

(Cross-posted at Re-Reading Les Misérables.)

WonderCon Staying in Anaheim for 2014, Long Beach Comic-Con Next Week

Outside WonderCon AnaheimWonderCon has officially announced that they’re returning to Anaheim in 2014 for a third year, from April 18-20. It’s turned out to be a good venue for the convention, especially if they can work the remaining kinks out of parking next year, and it means it’s easy for us to attend, since it’s close enough for us to commute. (That really takes some of the pressure off of trying to get tickets for San Diego, too.)

Still, I hope they find a way to move back to the Bay Area soon. I attended three years at the Moscone Center when it meant traveling (it probably helps that we have family and friends in the area to visit on the way up and back), and while the show still feels very much like part of the same family, it does feel like a slightly different show. I was in San Francisco on a business trip last week, and when I realized I was in the neighborhood, I just had to stop by Yerba Buena park and the Moscone Center for old time’s sake. Continue reading

SOPA/PIPA and Stopping Piracy: The (Inevitable) Car Analogy

Imagine that a group of people who don’t drive much, don’t understand how cars work under the hood, and have never studied traffic engineering decide that they’re going to stop speeding by requiring that cars automatically slam on the emergency brake and lock the controls the moment they exceed the speed limit — or the moment someone reports that the car has exceeded the speed limit.

Note that I didn’t say anything about turning the engine off, or putting it in neutral. Or only doing so in places where the speed limit is properly posted. Or worrying about whether there’s a car behind them that will have to slam on their own breaks to prevent a pile-up. Or actually checking that the car really is speeding before acting on the report.

Now imagine that criticisms and objections raised by actual drivers, the auto industry, traffic engineers, highway planners, and city planners are all dismissed as speeder propaganda.

That’s basically what’s going on with the “anti-piracy” bills being discussed in the House (SOPA) and Senate (PIPA/Protect IP).

(Posted yesterday on Tumblr)