Joseph M. Gusmano

Monday, September 26, 2005
Don't Drop the Signal
So I was minding my own business, when I came across this, which led me to this, whereupon I clicked here, and snagged up two "press passes" for the movie I have been itching to see for a long time. Just promise to post to your weblog, show up 25 minutes early, and review the film. Sounds like a square deal, so I jump on it. It's a good deal better than trying to score special preview tickets on eBay, where they went for $80 per pair.

Next day I get a confirmation e-mail, and the terms are, shall we say, a little bit shifted. Now I have to show up AT LEAST 45 MINUTES ahead of the showing, and the confirmation is not even a confirmation at all. I may not even get in, and I have to jump through the following three hoops here first:

1. LINK TO THE MOVIE SITE

Check.

2. PROMOTIONAL ART

The confirmation e-mail contains a link and a password for official promotional art for the movie, very shiny. But the files are HUGE! Are you aware I pay for my bandwidth? And I can't even read most of them. But a little surfing reveals one cool photoset from which the poster comes, e.g.:



For those of you who are not already slobbering to see the film, this is Summer Glau in the part of River Tam. And if you do not know what I am talking about, go here.

3. SYNOPSIS

I am also requested to republish the following from the confirmation e-mail:
Joss Whedon, the Oscar® - and Emmy - nominated writer/director responsible for the worldwide television phenomena of BUFFY THE VAMPIRE, ANGEL and FIREFLY, now applies his trademark compassion and wit to a small band of galactic outcasts 500 years in the future in his feature film directorial debut, Serenity. The film centers around Captain Malcolm Reynolds, a hardened veteran (on the losing side) of a galactic civil war, who now ekes out a living pulling off small crimes and transport-for-hire aboard his ship, Serenity. He leads a small, eclectic crew who are the closest thing he has left to family –squabbling, insubordinate and undyingly loyal.
Three. Well there it is, the synopsis. Yep. Enlightened yet? Instead of that, how about a description from the director, Joss Whedon:
It's going to be the next Deuce Bigalow!
Um no, how about:
But I'm, like the biggest fan of the movie! I even have sentimental attatchments to the weak-ass parts (there are two)! (Well, 1 and 3/4.)
Okay okay, try this one:
I guess I would describe Serenity as a sci-fi action drama about the price of freedom. Or, Citizen Kane with spaceships. I could go either way.
Wait, this is it:
The one thing I would want an audience to take away from my work is that people who do not think they have strength in them do and that everybody has the ability and chance to be stronger and better and happier than the world seems ready to let them.
Now that's a message I can relate to. Perhaps more important than the movie itself, it is interesting to be in on the ground floor for what might be a whole new way of marketing movies. There are currently over 55,000 members who have posted nearly 300,000 times to the official fan forum, and that is just one place fans are discussing the movie. And the aforementioned preview screenings. Reach out to the fans, let them share the marketing load. Give them some cool extras.

I say might, because it is definitely a work in progress. And this part of it, which appears to be the work of this outfit, definitely makes the intended audience feel a little like smuggled cattle. And if you get that reference, see you on September 30. And check this space for my reaction to the film.

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Tuesday, August 02, 2005
Farewell, ATT


So I decide it is time to enter the 21st century and get broadband internet. ATT has rolled in my dialup with local and long distance service for over a year now without too much hassle, so I will just hop online and order DSL, piece of cake right? I go through the whole set of screens entering my information to order DSL, and bang! Because I have WorldNet rolled into my phone bill, I cannot order it online. I have to climb back into my time machine and get to the 21st century by way of the 19th.

Now I understand the purpose for this. They have to speak with me before they make a change to phone service features to prevent slamming. But do they have to make me go through every step of ordering online before they tell me this?

So I call the 800 number. Busy. All day and the next morning, busy busy busy. I will say this one more time for for the irony to sink in. The phone company: it's busy. I tried the WorldNet tech support number, where I could not reach a human being. I had entered Press or Say Hell. The closest I could get to someone who could give me DSL service was a pleasant voice saying I could get information on the web site. Been there, done that, not helping.

After far too many attempts to get a different result from the same behavior, a thought struck me. My phone bill is in my briefcase. So I try the 800 number on my bill. A short span of Press or Say Purgatory later, a human voice! A human voice who tells me DSL is not available in my area. Now I could just tell this pleasant human that I know she is wrong because three DSL providers have checked my phone number, including ATT, and told me DSL was available. But the laws of time travel are immutable. Perhaps I was calling the 20th century by mistake.

Why is ATT fighting off my business with a stick? I don't know, and neither did the nice people at Verizon, my new provider for local, regional, long distance, and broadband. So in a week or two, see you in the 21st Century!

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Friday, February 04, 2005
GMail Market Collapses! Panic Grips Global Exchanges! Prices Plummet!
Logged on to GMail yesterday to find 50 invites in each of three of my mailboxes, and one more set of 50 today, for a grand total of 200 invites! The going rate for invites on eBay has plummeted. I got my original invites for nearly a dollar each last fall, and now they are running less than ten cents. When will it not be worth it to sell them at all? But they have always been free here. Does this forespeak the day when the service is open?

I am not too sure. The invitation-only method serves other purposes besides putting a limit on growth of demand. Nearly every one of the, I would be safe in guessing millions, of GMail accounts has a "parent" linked to it, the identity of the subscriber who invited them, and my reading of the GMail privacy policy reveals nothing about what Google won't do with that gigantic spider web of relationship information.
 
Friday, November 05, 2004
Get Your GMail Invites
Still getting many more GMail invites than I have friends, so if you want one just drop me a line. Also, I am trying out AdSense by Google in the right column as well. It is patent pending technology, after all.

I do have one beef but it is not about GMail or Adsense: Just when I had my Findlaw newsletters set up to filter and archive properly, they changed the format again, and now I will have to figure out a way to do it all over again.
 
Wednesday, November 03, 2004
Happy Election's Over Day!

I did get back to the polling place at lunch, there was no line at all by then. Cast my vote electronically for the first time, I had to make a provisional ballot in the primary election. Neither sensory experience measures up to the big steel machines with the moldy smelling curtain and the Mad Scientist lever. As I was telling my six-year old which place on the screen to push, the memories of my own father telling me what levers to push came rushing back. Maybe I can register in Monroe County, New York and relive those days again.

I declined to mention yesterday that this was the first time I had ever seen a police officer at a polling place. As I was driving by yesterday morning a very broad man in uniform was coming out of the school building, 15 minutes before the polls opened, which made me think he was not there to vote. But in my mind's eye I do not remember him having the distinctive gray trousers of the Baltimore County police. Even when I lived in downtown Baltimore and voted in the senior apartment building was there ever a police officer at the polling place.

I suppose it is time to actually provide some information, in case someone is reading this. Here comes the World's Most Amateurish Post-Election Analysis: In 2000 final results: Gore 1,145,782 Bush 813,797. In 2004 preliminary results: Kerry 1,209,827 Bush 936,505 (99% precincts reporting). Nearly two thirds of the increase in Maryland turnout was for President Bush. And I think these 2004 numbers do not have all the absentee ballots yet.
 
Tuesday, November 02, 2004
Happy Election Day!
Went to my polling place ten minutes before they opened this morning, on the chance the line was such I could slip in before work. Fat chance. There were about 100 people in line already, so I will try again at lunch time. On the way in to work I drove by another polling place. In Baltimore County they are almost all at the schools, which are closed today. Another very long line. At work, the people who have voted mostly reported longer lines than ever before.

I am not what you would call a political person, but since Maryland and her electoral votes are securely Democratic it must mean there are some people who care more about the popular vote than in times past. My guess is that both sides want their candidate to be "elected, not selected" by winning the popular vote. Does the turnout foretell a winner? I have no idea.
 
Wednesday, October 20, 2004
From the Eighth Circuit, October 19, 2004
Mulcahy v. Cheetah Learning LLC (CIR8 10/19/2004) is a copyright case involving competing test prep materials for the Project Management Professional (PMP) exam. The defense is that the plaintiff did not have a valid copyright over the materials of the maker of the test, Project Management Institute (PMI). But there was a material question of fact as to whether the Plaintiff's work was derivative, whether she had permission, and on the issue of fair use, and so partial summary judgment and permanent judgment are vacated. Plaintiff's work is here; PMI's work is here. Defendant's work can come out now.
 
Tuesday, October 19, 2004
One thing I learned in my abortive attempts to put together a useful web presence is that people want to syndicate! So try the Bloglines and myFeedster links over in the right column. I use Bloglines now for my reading and I love it. Also, if you like nice clean URL's I bought patentproject.info and trademarkproject.info which redirect to those weblogs.
 
NINTH CIRCUIT CASES
For the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals cases I am aware of no current third-party source for the opinions than Findlaw. The Ninth Circuit website has an opinions page with PDF versions but I cannot get the search page to work right, which means that it is not very useful unless you know what case you are after. And there is no way to link the documents directly. If you are in the Ninth Circuit and have another resource let me know, the goal here is to be able to do meaningful research without a monthly subscription. Getting the memoranda for the last 30 days and some of the oral arguments on audio is a plus if you are following the circuit closely, but for my purposes it is just a gimmick. Better to spend that bandwidth on keyword searching that works. The Ninth Circuit hears appeals from California, Oregon, Washington, Arizona, Montana, Idaho, Nevada, Alaska, and Hawaii.
 
Monday, October 18, 2004
The Lure of the Open Road

This is not mission-compliant on either the Patent Project or the Trademark Project, but I include it here for completeness, to get the opinion links for the Ninth Circuit, and because I do not often deal with the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA), 18 U.S.C. § 1030 (USDOJ version here). In Creative Computing v. Getloaded.com LLC (CIR9 10/15/2004) the defendant operating getloaded.com was caught by the operator of truckstop.com with its hand in the loadmatching cookie jar.

Liability in the suit was based on the Idaho Trade Secrets Act and the relatively obscure civil provisions of the CFAA, which is at 18 U.S.C. 1030(g):
Any person who suffers damage or loss by reason of a violation of this section may maintain a civil action against the violator to obtain compensatory damages and injunctive relief or other equitable relief. A civil action for a violation of this section may be brought only if the conduct involves 1 of the factors set forth in clause (i), (ii), (iii), (iv), or (v) of subsection (a)(5)(B). Damages for a violation involving only conduct described in subsection (a)(5)(B)(i) are limited to economic damages. No action may be brought under this subsection unless such action is begun within 2 years of the date of the act complained of or the date of the discovery of the damage. No action may be brought under this subsection for the negligent design or manufacture of computer hardware, computer software, or firmware.
Subsection (a)(5)(B)(1) covers any economic loss, and the $5,000 annual threshold for damages is very low for a successful commercial website. Needless to say, it is very important to look at this statute whenever your client's trade secret claim involves unauthorized computer access.
 
Thursday, October 14, 2004
Federal Circuit Cases
REPOST: In keeping with my plan to put the case law resources together, I dug out this moldy oldie from the Federal Circuit which still spins--Ed. I know three ways to get the decisions:

1. The Federal Circuit web site posts opinions for the past several months. They are posted in Microsoft Word format, which is easy to bring up in WordPad if you don't have Word, and is very readable, but not very good to link to. And the link comes down after a while.

2. The Georgetown University Law Center (my alma mater) library web site has opinions in well-formatted HTML and in PDF, which I like, but sometimes they are a couple of days behind on the decisions. And you can do a full text search.

3. FindLaw posts opinions promptly, and you can search by date and party name in addition to a word serch. But they are unformatted text, so they are hard to read with the formatting gone, and usually the footnotes are missing too! Obviously not the best way to go.

None of the above have the opinions in a proper slip opinion format. I don't even know if they issue one. So there is no proper method of legal citation without paying for a commercial one.
 
Monday, October 11, 2004
GMail For The Masses
GMail is great, I recommend it without reservation. Are there privacy issues? Don't ask me. Read this, and this, and maybe this, oh and maybe you should read the GMail privacy policy itself here, and make up your own mind. All I know is that it automatically arranges, searches, and labels the e-mails I get from Findlaw newsletters and Google Alerts, flags the ones that are important, archives the ones that are not, and keeps it all off of my hard disk at home. Awesome! Now I have no excuse left for not keeping up on developments.

And to top it off, there are patent issues! And trademark issues! It is like a divine crack on the forehead, telling me to write something about something. So check out my Patent Project and Trademark Project for that stuff shortly. News of my death may be slightly exaggerated. Or maybe I am just twitching from residual neural whatever. Anyway, I have tweaked the templates, and I have a few other minor changes planned. As always, your comments are welcome, but send them to my GMail!

By the way, I get GMail invites on a fairly regular basis, and in fact have a number of them saved up, although they only last 21 days. So if you are jonesing for one, just e-mail me here, before the market collapses. All I am looking for is a thank you, maybe an occasional visit.
 
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