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Tuesday, 16 March 2021


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I kind of don't blame the guy for blasting that drone. Your private property should be off limits. I worry that this kind of intrusive behavior will lead politicians to enact legislation that would require permissions from people in public which would be devastating for photojournalists. And we need photojournalists now more than ever. Our democracy requires it. So I wish photographers would be more considerate. We need to protect our freedoms.

You should at least try and open your 'unopenable' files in a simple text editor. There will be a lot of nonsense text, but your writing should still be there.

I think 'peon' has different associations depending where in the world you are. It's still used in Singapore to mean just a junior position or office boy. I've seen it used in handwritten notes on the back of old photographs showing the staff of banks.

It was once used, as in 'British India', to mean a policeman or a foot soldier.

According to Wiki, in modern Shanghai, among native Chinese working in firms where English is spoken, the word refers to 'a worker with little authority, who suffers indignities from superiors'.

In the UK, I don't think I have ever heard it used at all (someone correct me if I'm wrong).

The different nuances of the same word across the world can be as interesting as the differences in languages.

They get you bit by bit.

Chances are very good that you will be able to open PDF files fifty years from now. The nice thing about PDF files is that they are identical to the published article, with all the formatting and illustrations intact.

Peon is a Spanish word that I heard often while growing up, in SoCal, during the 1940s/1950s.

Peonage, aka sharecropping, developed in the southern USA. Social media has turned many folks into digital sharecroppers.

Digital Driving will be either a government run system like streets and highways. Or a private utility. There is no such thing as a free lunch—taxes that you now pay, build the bridges, streets and highways that you now use.

To answer your question, it's OK to shoot down a drone.

Excellent article. It does illustrate one point clearly: current law (legislation and court rulings) are woefully behind and disconnected. Companies in a capitalist society exist for one purpose: to earn money. Google, Apple et al have figured out a way to maximize that earning potential. If individuals want to ascribe judgements like “evil overlords” and the like to tech companies, so be it. But they are only behaving as all companies do, no better and no worse. Our society’s guardians though have certainly failed to do their job, and in my opinion that is where the pressure needs to be applied. “Ownership,” like many aspects of our lives, is still (sort of) operating under 17th - 19th century laws and rulings. The laws and court rulings need to be updated to reflect what exists, now.

I am trying to imagine the level of outrage (if any) if Apple et al sold their products, hardware and software, like Ford sells a car? Yes, you own the car. You can dispose of it and use it in any manner you see fit. You are also solely responsible for its upkeep, maintenance, and legally liable if your car causes damages and loses. Imagine if one bought a product, and Apple said, “OK, it’s yours now. You figure out how to update it, deal with any issues or problems, etc... You own it, and good luck.”

I empathize with the irritation, but you make it sound like car owners don't pay to drive the cars they own. That isn't remotely true. Here's a cost calculator:


According to this, we in the US pay $350 a month on average to own a car that's completely paid for. That doesn't include parking fees and tolls, which for some of us are unavoidable.

Those self-driving car systems would have to cost an awful lot to compare. There are social costs, as well, that would be interesting to compare.

Not that it would happen any times soon, given how idiotically the pioneers are going about it, but I think those autonomous systems are more likely to cost us less, both directly and indirectly, than the current system, which is no less a buy-in system, and far from perfect, economical, or even rational.

A good argument for open source....

As far as I read, the New Yorker Piece did not address the question: What are you supposed to do when a drone invades your privacy?

Along those lines there is a huge battle going on between farmers and John Deere over the right to repair farm equipment.


This is why you need to start dropping Apple et al and starr using Free Software. Richard Stallman is a visionary who has been warning about this for decades. I use darktable on Linux and I definitely own my images.

That’s why I don’t shoot raw.

As a lawyer and a former beekeeper reading the drones article, I am amused by the parallels with laws (and legal grey areas) relating to bees.

Sounds like a good reason to go back to shooting film, Mike.

You already pay ongoing costs to drive: vehicle and collision insurance, registration, fuel, maintenance, and parking. (Even if you own the land where you park free and clear, you still pay taxes on that space.)

I don't see what would be different about paying for the data required to allow safe self-driving.

The non-fungible token technology is attempting to answer your question about ownership of digital art. Of course, under copyright law any photo you make is yours except under specific "work for hire" agreements.

The law needs to make a distinction between those drones flying over my property with cameras and those without. There's no difference between the former and a hang-glider flying low over my property - they both are visually trespassing.

"... all those files that I had worked so hard on were un-openable."

Surely someone has written a converter. Though, by now, the files are probably long gone.

Having a fire arm is illegal here in Belgium, where I live, you crazy and irresponsable USA people!

[Maybe I should have lived in Belgium. I don't participate in gun culture here--a deliberate decision many years ago, after early years involved with shooting--but I have lots of friends who do. --Mike]

Sounds like a great reason to print images you cherish. Or go back to shooting film.

I haven't shot down a drone, but I may have practiced casting and hooked the drone hovering over my backyard trying to video the pool next door. Darn accidents, what can I say?(drone rotors and fishing line are not friends....)

LibreOffice might be able to open those old files, if you still have them - this concern applies to images especially, why I have a .jpg version as well as the RAW, but for formatted works it's a struggle to keep things current. Especially when it an issue of file format and file system format as in your case. The closest parallel would be to have a .pdf or plaintext version as well, but it's not the same...

According to this, a Belgian source, it's not actually illegal to own firearms there, merely difficult.


Format changes can lead to files being inaccessible, sure. We've already seen that with Photo CD files, in the photographic arena; except they're not really inaccessible, it's just that Kodak dropped support for the tools, and Adobe did. But there are other tools, and one can still get the images out of the files.

Digital archives tend brittle; they fail in big chunks and areas fail all at once. They require maintenance—when a file format is dropped in key software, the files need to be converted to some other format. And of course artists are particularly bad at dull routine like archive maintenance. Even real archives are often resource-limited.

Plus, a lot of items of historical importance have somewhere in their history the "spent 200 years in an attic" step. Digital media generally won't stand that, and any file format changes during those two centuries won't be dealt with.

On the other hand, the various burnings of the Library at Alexandria wouldn't have gotten the off-site backups, if they had had them. Digital archives have the potential to last forever; just, not under a regime of benign neglect.

Re: Apple sold the writing program I used, and the new owners (after several ownership changes) discontinued it

Sadly, this is something we deal with in so many forms. This steady technology shift - accelerated in digital - is tough, whether it is storage media (5.25 inch floppies, anyone? 3.5"?) or writing (WordPerfect, anyone?) or the ability to play a VHS movie (harder than you might first guess, these days).

Anybody assuming that their "favorite" camera's raw file format will be readable by anything 10 years from now is making a dangerous gamble - especially for some of the smaller players. Adobe's .DNG answer is not guaranteed a safe harbor either, but it might be safer than many.

I first ran into this reality decades ago, working at IBM. One old hand there was very careful about the tools (editors, other personal productivity choices a programmer might make in the 1980s) that he used. These tools often varied by IBM site or division and he didn't want to invest the learning curve in something that wasn't used widely, *even if it was better*.

You can (mostly) avoid getting orphaned, but it takes a diligent, preventative maintenance style of thinking - which is not the way a lot of people like to approach their daily life.

Digital means the carefully curated file can be as close to immortal and indestructible art as mankind can experience. But very little is carefully curated.

I like the convenience of Amazon Kindle books. I can read them on my antiquated Kindle device, or my phone, or tablet, or computer... or your computer.

What I can't do is lend you the book, give you the book, or sell you the book. I don't actually own the book. Amazon owns the book I bought, and if Amazon decides I've violated the terms of service, it can take all of my Kindle books away without recourse.

Needless to say, I try to keep Kindle purchases to a minimum.

For my own amusement, I have small collection of my family's computer based information storage commencing with early 1960s hole-punched paper tapes, through mark-sense cards, to some magnetic reel-to-reel tapes, to cassette tapes (complete with data in ascii format - which I think are my undergraduate lecture notes from 1981, saved on an Oz designed and built Microbee computer), to a couple of 8 inch and then floppy drives (my first), a hard drive with memory measured in megabytes, through zip drives, usb drives and ending with a terabyte of ssd. To my own amazement, I can still access much of the hardware back to my earliest 5 1/4 inch floppy drives from about 1983. Even more amazingly, much of the data is still readable - especially ascii code, .txt, etc. But all data in proprietary formats is now effectively lost to anyone short of a forensic computer scientist. Truly archiving information in the digital domain means constant upgrades in both software and transferring the data to more permanent record forms. Perhaps a future me will have permanently encoded DNA in my collection, with a biological interface for my desktop quantum computer. But if you want information to last for hundreds or perhaps thousands of years, archival quality paper and ink remains the most reliable means. And in the photography context, that means printing.

I wonder those old software are not. Clouded. Hence you can use emulation software for old os to run the old software. If eat not phoning home, it might be fine. The current cloud based one, good luck.

Surely the notion of ownership rights is entirely capitalistic and exclusivistic? And a means for the powerful to enshrine existing power relativities? I guess I’m stepping beyond the confines of your topic, Mike, but private ownership in a capitalistic industrialist society has us careening headlong into multiple global catastrophes, and the solutions, if any actually appear, probably won’t idolise individual freedoms and rights to the extent extolled by those who grumble at the merest hints of their erosion. Viewing the individual as a tower of personal creativity whose ‘works’ (capital) have a ‘right’ to exist in one’s own control in perpetuity, handed down to offspring along with all one’s other capital (power) right down to a little square of the planet itself, is inherently part of something so dire and broken that it’s going to end us all, and soon.

Cheers (lol), Arg
P.S. autonomous cars are not about locking free individuals into paying a monthly fee for access to the system and hence the ability to move around (which is currently called vehicle registration fee, so not new anyway). They are actually about moving towards non-ownership of vehicles at all, called mobility-as-a-service, where you summon a little driverless pod on an app to move you from A to B, on very short notice and very low cost. And vastly more safe too, both from crashes and from assault (consider how many women get assaulted by their taxi drivers: not funny).

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