Monday, 28 June 2010

Of e-books and DRM

I really want an e-reader. There have, until recently, been two things stopping me: price and DRM.

A few days ago the prices dropped to where I would consider actually getting one, especially if it meant not having to carry around the complete works of the artist formerly known as shakespeare or paradise temporarily misplaced (I know they're not medieval, but when in a job interview someone asks me if, as well as teaching Old and Middle English, I can teach Milton and Shakespeare, I need to be able to say "why yes!" in a chipper tone of voice).

So now the problem is DRM.

I was unaware until today that the vast majority of books sold electronically are DRM'd up the wazoo, making use of something called Adobe Digital Editions. (Well, the Kindle has its own proprietary DRM, but I'd never buy one from them anyway. Not until they give up the practice of stealing things off people's e-readers.) Now, I have two issues: First, I find it personally offensive and counter to my beliefs to buy books that I can only read sometimes in certain places for a limited amount of time as per a byzantine set of rules; second, I run Ubuntu 10.04 LTS and refuse to rely on a buggy windows emulator like WINE to allow me to -decrypt- my books. If I were in Canuckland, the country of my birth, the answer would be simple: removing DRM for personal use is not (currently) illegal. Covered under the fair use doctrine, if I want to scrub the files of DRM and use them myself for whatever purpose I deem fit (say, printing them out and making paper airplanes out of the pages) I could do that. In the good ol' US of A, however, there's this DMCA thing.

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act is a bullsh*t piece of legislation the Americans passed giving away their rights to corporate lobbyists. Instead of allowing me to do what I want with my books, it makes it illegal to remove DRM from anything for any reason under penalty of jail time and obscenely high fines.

And they wonder why people aren't rushing to buy e-books.

So does anyone have any experience with e-books and e-readers? I'd love to get one, but the more I look into it, the more I feel as though I'm going to have to wait -- for Ubuntu/Linux compatibility and for the slow (but otherwise inevitable) death of DRM.

Comments are welcome.

Sunday, 20 June 2010

Ozark Medieval What?

See? I promised posts.

I couldn't help but post about this once I had the time. I'm certain by now you've all heard about it, but if you haven't it's very, very cool.

Image courtesy of Ozark Medieval Fortress LLC

In Lead Hill, Arkansas (USA) a bunch of people are building a medieval castle (a la 12th century France, I believe) -- and they're doing it using only medieval techniques. It's going to be fantastic. Over the next 20 years, they'll be building this thing, training new stonemasons and castle-builders and the like. I'm going to just call it by what it should be named: Medieval Disneyland. You go, you see them building a medieval fortress, you see the tradespeople living in the medieval village at the foot of the castle, and as a resident of North America, you get to see something you otherwise would (almost) never see: Medieval Things.

I mean sure, there's the Cloisters in New York, but after that you're talking Hammond Castle (which actually, now that I'm looking at it, is pretty cool) and Hearst Castle. Hearst castle is big and has.... deer. That's about all I remember about it. Herds of deer on the back lawn. I was very young when my family went to California. We drove through Gilroy, the garlic capital of wherever. The world, probably. But I digress.

It's called The Ozark Medieval Fortress, and it's definitely something I'll have to visit sometime. I just... don't know that I'll ever find myself in Arkansas. But! Never say never. I've got 20 years to see it under construction, and I'm sure plenty of time thereafter to see the inside when it's done.

Go see.

Breathing Space

Sorry about not posting for a while, folks. Though Vaulting is the professional here, I, too, curate a little. As of yesterday, we two have just completed (and opened) a small new exhibit at my place of employment, which has been taking up all of my spare time and headspace for the past three weeks. Now that it's up and running (which it will be for a whole year, wow) I am going on vacation for five days, in which time There Shall Be Blogging.

Might even manage to get a new "A World Lit Only By Misconceptions" post up.

"Weekly." Yeah. I'm going to have to work on my 'goals vs. reality' thing.

Wednesday, 16 June 2010


I just submitted my letter of resignation (thanks for the advice, folks!). I do not feel empowered; I do not feel free and untethered; I feel twitchy and nervous and like I've done something horribly wrong.

I expect this is natural. The position itself, as more or less my own boss, was fairly empowering; my debt, car lease and apartment leases (there are now two) keep me from feeling free or untethered; and as someone who has always strived to be a "good girl," I still haven't gotten the hang of angering people or disappointing people whom I shouldn't worry about disappointing.

And I'm damp and smell vaguely of coffee, thanks to dumping my mug all over myself first thing this morning.

I give up, Monday*. You win. Just let me go home, curl up, drink some tea, read North and South and forget about jobs, museum boards, exhibits, and the possibility that I may not have a job tomorrow.

*My work week starts on Wednesday. "Monday" isn't a day so much as a horrible aura that surrounds your first day back at work.

PS - Whyte Fairy, if you would like a curatorship at a small American art museum in rural New England with plenty of room for creativity and self-direction (but a little lacking in support and pay), I can probably arrange something.

Thursday, 3 June 2010


While Vellum gets to write the fun posts, I'm mired up in the less fun mundanities of Real Life. Thus, I come looking for a job, but I get no offers... just a come-on from the whores on seventh avenue advice.

I'm relocating to New England Metropolis at the end of the summer, which means that I need to give notice to my current employer. The plan is currently to hand in my notice this week, roughly 10 weeks in advance, which will give us plenty of time (in theory) to find a new curator and for me to train them.

However. I report directly to the board of directors, and the fact of the matter is, most of them are immature, bitchy and vengeful. It is not out of the realm of possibility that they might try to fire me now. I find this unlikely, because I'm the sole employee here, and without me, there is no museum. More likely is that they aren't going to bother to find a replacement, so the museum will likely limp to a close as soon as I leave.

Honestly, these things are not my problem. But it does raise the question of how I should write my letter of (eventual) resignation. I'm thinking short and sweet, and sticking to the facts. Believe me, there are dozens of reasons why I'm leaving, but I'm only going to mention the relocation. Then I plan to explain that I'm giving my notice very early (please note I have only been here 1 year) because I'm still committed to seeing the museum survive, and I want to make sure there's time to find a replacement, yada yada.

This all seems like the nice thing to do. But I have to ask - do I have to be nice? Would it maybe be in my best interest to just keep my mouth shut, and give them a month's notice? This idea rubs me the wrong way, but it may just be society's training that I'm supposed to be nice - and what good am I, as a woman, if I'm not nice?

The other thing that throws a wrench into the process is that I'm actively on the hunt for a new job. I've found a couple positions to apply for, but they need references. I have one from the other messed up museum I work for, but it would be much better if I could provide a reference from my primary job.

The last issue is that it's no secret I'm leaving. My friends and family know, the other museum knows, people I occasionally deal with here know... It's only a matter of time before someone spills the beans. It would be much better if that someone were me.

This all adds up to handing in my notice now and hoping common sense prevails over vindictiveness and laziness. But I've never actually had to resign from a job, nor have I ever given notice. And I'm fairly new to the job hunt, as well - the current one literally fell into my lap. Any advice or relevant stories would be greatly appreciated - especially when it comes to the letter itself.