Do you have any hobbies?

Janine Melnitz: Do you have any hobbies?
Dr. Egon Spengler: I collect spores, molds, and fungus.
Janine Melnitz: That’s very fascinating. I like to read a lot myself.
Dr. Egon Spengler: Print is dead.

(+I cannot help it being one of my all-time favourite movies.)

WordPress importer for back-ups

Update January 8, 2007: note how this importer is now almost 2 years old. I have no idea if it still works with either or a recent version of WordPress. Use at your own peril!

Original entry: I recently moved this blog from the servers to my own. Although the service at was absolutely fine and I wouldn’t recommend against it (except that it is now owned by Ilse, which is always a bad omen) , I figured that getting them to make the changes I wanted would be more work than adapting a FOSS weblog myself. Since WordPress supported a lot of the things I wanted out of the box, and had a good name, I went with that one.

Moving blogs means losing entries, unless you are willing to copy them by hand or unless you can find a converter. There was no converter for to WordPress, but adapting an existing one for my own purposes proved trivial. Although won’t export the entire database, it will export a “back-up” of all your entries in XML format. You won’t get the comments with that, so if you have a lot of comments, this won’t be a solution for other ‘movers’.

You can find the import script here. i) Rename to exclude the “.txt” extension, ii) make a change in the first lines as indicated, then iii) place it in your wp-admin directory. iv) Run the script from your webbrowser–the rest should be self-explanatory.

Keep in mind that this does not convert all the tags, only the ones I used in my own blog entries (which is a smallish subset of what offered). You will probably have to revisit all your entries once imported and make some adjustments. You will also need to re-categorise your entries, as category information is not (yet) exported.

One further warning: I wrote it, I ran it, it worked. For me. It may not work for you. It may eat your computer. It may eat your children’s first-born children to the tenth generation. If you want to feel a little safer, there are three things you can do: 1) read the plain text in the script (or the code, if you can) to see what it does. 2) In a copy of the script, change the lines that are responsible for writing to the database to lines that will output to the webbrowser (if you know how to). If something goes wrong, you will see it there. 3) Only run this script on a fresh WordPress installation, so that if you corrupt the database, you won’t lose existing entries.

This script is licensed under the GNU GPL and may be freely copied and distributed as long as you stick to the terms of the license.

Dunglish for the masses

Dunglish is what happens when English speakers have been living and working in Dutch-speaking environments for so long, that Dutchisms start to slip into their language. It is also the term used for the curious pidgin English used by Dutch people, who each think they speak at least three languages fluently. There already was an, logging the unfortunate English spoken by some Japanese, but now my friend Natasha has started a, looking with the same intent at over-confident Dutch folks.

What do authors want?

Although I don’t think that authors should have the definitive say on what should happen to the works they publish, I do feel that when copyright law is being rewritten, their voice should have a lot more weight than that of publishers. Most importance should be given to the opinion of the readers.

(For those who do not know: copyright law, intended to limit the immoral dealings of some publishers, has been written almost exclusively by publishers. It is as if the Maffia is being asked time and again to write anti-racketeering laws.)

Unfortunately, there seems to be little known about what authors want specifically. Luckily, The Internet Archive does not just publish a lot of sound, it also publishes the release statements that went with all these bootlegs. Interesting stuff for a copyright archeologist, it would seem to me. Just click on a artist/band name, then click on “This band: Band policy/notes”.

Security Rating Standards Proposed

A group of big IT companies has proposed a system of rating vulnerabilities in software. I actually glossed over the article instead of reading it, but I did notice the names Microsoft, Cisco and Symantec, so I assume that these are the names of the threat levels, “Level Microsoft” meaning “burn your pc”.

Is it the make-up talking?

Mrs. Ronald McDonald doing the laundry I have barely gotten over the idea that Alyson Hannigan has married somebody other than me. Then I find out that she has a look-alike. But before I find that out, I learn that the look-alike is shacking up with a real clown. Life’s unfair.

(Via BoingBoing.)

AldiPod for sale again

Aldi has (re?)introduced its 20 GB MP3 player in the Netherlands. The thing has been nicknamed the AldiPod on the net, as it is a direct competitor to Apple’s device, with some extras thrown in, and of course significantly cheaper. Expect these babies to be sold out by the end of the day.

Heise has a nice review (in German): “Conclusion: the MD95200 is on a technical level at least equal to the iPod, and thanks to the SD/MMC slot and USB-OTG even better. The customer will have to live with limitations in the areas of design and menu operation.

EDIT: In related news, David Weinberger writes that 11% of all grown-up US citizens own an iPod. I think it is safe to conclude that Apple is no longer (just) a computer company.

Copyright booklet released

A booklet containing contributions by several of the speakers at the Copyright Reform Symposium that was held in Amsterdam last year, has been released by the organizers. Although it is mostly in Dutch, one of the contributions deep into the booklet is in English: The Levitation of Copyright, An Economic View of Digital Home Copying, Levies and DRM, by Kamiel J. Koelman. The article is based on a paper presented at ATRIP 2004 in Utrecht.

New monopoly right in The Netherlands

The dumbest government we have seen for ages has managed to pull another rabbit from the hat. Book prices are now officially regulated, meaning that you are not allowed to sell them cheaply. The booksellers have even set up a site giving information (with which they mean: propaganda) to explain the motives behind the new law. The main motive appears to be to ensure a rich choice of books; without minimum prices (which until now booksellers illegally agreed to amongst themselves), bookstores would only offer the best-sellers.

I find that dubious reasoning at best. And somehow I doubt bookstores formed an illegal cartel until now just so that they could look after our cultural landscape.

Artists’ earnings and copyrights

It’s still on my reading list, because it is a long article and I have limited time, but a choice quote already:

There is no unified category of rights owners, covering creators (authors) and investors (producers). Creators have four main interests:

  • to see their work widely reproduced and distributed;
  • to receive credit for it;
  • to earn a financial reward relative to the commercial value of the work; and,
  • to be able to engage creatively with other works (in adaptation, comment, sampling etc).

Regarding the appropriate structure of author rights, this leads to three conclusions:

  • The creator has little to gain from exclusivity (it prevents widest distribution; it prevents access to other works; it does not ensure financial reward)
  • The creator has little to gain from transferability (under prevalent contractual practices, the creator can be bought out in a one-off commercial transaction)
  • The creator has a lot to gain from the so-called droit moral (a kind of creative trademark, ensuring integrity of origin).

(From: Artists’ earnings and copyrights by Martin Kretschmer.)

Also, the article has what must be both the most comprehensive and concise history of copyright I have seen so far.