I think I’m turning into an activist and a copyfighter

Why, you ask? Because I’ve been doing a lot of reading and a lot of thinking on my sabbatical (though I read voraciously always). What have I been reading? “Free Culture” and “Code v2.0” by Lawrence Lessig. “Small Pieces Loosely Joined” by David Weinberger. “The Cathedral and the Bazaar” by Eric S. Raymond. “Open Sources 2.0”, a collection of essays on open source. “The World is Flat” by Thomas Friedman. Not to mention classics like The Cluetrain. And watching Frontline on PBS.

I’ve been doing lots of thinking, too, on my sabbatical. I have lots of time on my hands now that we’re home from our trip. Too much, usually, and I find myself getting sucked into being lazy way too often. Too easy to sit on the couch and veg or play video games (though I consider time spent playing Super Mario Galaxy, which I finished last week, to be worthwhile). I’ve always read these kinds of books and thought these kinds of thoughts. Just had more time to do it while I’ve been on sabbatical. So this is nothing new for me. No big transformation.

The book I’m currently deepest into is “Free Culture”, about how screwed up copyright law in the U.S. is, and the sickening level of power that large lobbies like the RIAA and MPAA claim for themselves. Mafia thugs, the lot of them. And so I spend time thinking about what we, collectively, and we, myself and my friends, can do to change things. To counteract the extreme and unjust behavior of the lobbies. I don’t know the answer. But that’s what’s on my mind.

I hate politics. But I love the Internet, and the culture that it has fostered. I identify with that culture. It’s a very large part of who I am (and probably part of who you are, too, to some degree, if you’re reading this). I’m genuinely afraid of what these deep pocketed media lobbies are doing to us. I want to stop it. I want to reverse it. I want to fight for the “good guys”. I put out all of my media and creative stuff under Creative Commons, I support the EFF, and I talk to people to spread awareness of the issues, but I don’t feel like it’s enough.

I wish I was smart enough to come up with something that would really, materially contribute to protecting creativity and restoring a free culture. But I don’t have it yet. So I’ll be over here, nose in a book, thinking furiously until I come up with something.


Puzzle Quest for Nintendo DS at Target for $14.99

This is an awesome game – one of the best on the DS. I loved it – it’s one part old school dragon fighting RPG, one part Bejeweled. It was hard to find when it came out, and it will probably never come around again. So if you don’t have a copy, or you know someone with a DS that doesn’t have it, check out your local Target store and snag it. It was in the front of the store, among a bunch of other Game Boy Advance and Nintendo DS games all discounted to $14.99, presumably to be half price impulse purchases for holiday shoppers. I checked on their website, and they don’t even sell it there, so it’s probably discontinued. Even more reason to keep an eye out for a copy.

Those clearance racks are often filled with junk games, but I always glance through them, because once in a while I find something good like this. I wish you luck!


New Google Reader for iPhone Loses Features

New Google Reader for iPhone, originally uploaded by Josh Bancroft.

I noticed last night that Google Reader got a facelift on the iPhone. The new version looks much better than the old one, in my opinion, but it changed some of the functionality that I use most often.

Before, your list of feeds or tags would be displayed with the ones having new items on top, in alphabetical order, with the ones that don’t have any new items listed below. A simple sorting that worked well – especially for people like me that have hundreds of feeds.

The new version just displays your feeds and tags in a pure alphabetical list, with “new” and “stale” items mixed together (see the photo). This is REALLY irritating, because you have to scroll around so much to find what you’re looking for.

It makes even less sense when you consider that you can’t DO anything with feeds that don’t have new items when looking at them on the iPhone. You can’t unsubscribe. You can’t view older, “read” items. It’s really quite useless, and I’d be pleased to see them just not display them at all, and only display items that are new and can be read.

They also got rid of the links at the bottom of each page that let you go back to the “tags” or “subscriptions” view when you’re done reading an item. Now, you have to scroll all the way back to the top of the page to go ANYWHERE. They could just duplicate the nice round “All/Subscriptions/Tags” button at the bottom of each page, and that would fix it.

I hope I don’t sound like I’m complaining too much. I’m offering what I hope will be good feedback to the Google Reader team, to make the product better. I do it because I care, and because I use Google Reader on my iPhone A LOT. And I really hope they fix these issues (that worked just fine in the previous version). I’d hate to lose functionality in this upgrade – that’s not how it’s supposed to be! 😉


I made TwitterPoster! I’m famous!

Thanks to @peat for pointing out that I made TwitterPoster, the giant Twitter popularity contest. I have 599 followers – I’m famous!

i’m @jabancroft on Twitter if you want to follow me and bump that number up higher, and make my face on TwitterPoster bigger! 😉