Breaking news! Creative Commons Ducks invading our planet

Quack
Quack?
Quack…
Quack.
Quack?
Quack :|
Quack .__.

OK sorry if this post has no sense but I’m doing my homework for this:

https://certificates.creativecommons.org/

The above images are Free cultural works and it means you can use, share, edit them for whatever purpose. More info:

Quang Nguyen, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Ian Liao, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

564dude, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

mtan14, CC BY-SA 2.0, attraverso Wikimedia Commons

travel oriented, CC BY-SA 2.0, attraverso Wikimedia Commons

MiNe, CC BY 2.0, attraverso Wikimedia Commons

HenryDelMal, CC BY-SA 4.0, attraverso Wikimedia Commons

P.S. I could unintentionally forgot one attribution line but, since I’ve already put an hyperlink to each photo, like Wikipedia does, we can consider enough for your photo credits. If you are the author of that duck and you want to sue me because your credit is just a link on the image and not a brick in the above wall of text, I only have one thing to say to you. Quack.

This is a collection. This is not a derivative work. Assume my copyrights only on this exact phrase, and for the previous one, and for my “Quack”s and absolutely nothing else in this post content. See the sidebar for the license applying on these texts. The “Quacks”, instead, are released in CC0.

Note that I may not be able to claim copyright over my quacks, so see also the public domain mark.

The first and last ducks have apparently been modified in a way that can be considered creative, making them more rounded and applying weird color filters, but I actually don’t have any copyright on them either. First of all because it’s not a modification that exceeds the margin of originality, in my honest opinion. Secondly because I actually cheated and didn’t make any changes: the round thing and the color filter are just a CSS rule rendered by your browser web on your computer. I mean, the original file is not manipulated at all by me, but by you! So if there is creativity, are you the copyright owner of these derivative ducks? Uh? Uhm? (insert here plot twist music). Quack!

Elettrotecnici VS Informatici

Può sembrare assurdo agli occhi di molti ma elettrotecnici e informatici non si scambiano quasi mai pareri.

Farò un esempio grazie al fatto che papà da poco tempo è in pensione. Un elettrotecnico in pensione.

Il problema è che il parroco lo ha scoperto e le sue più intime fantasie erano essere legate ai presepi automatizzati.

Le specifiche parrocchiali

Le specifiche iniziali erano di allestire nel giardino della parrocchia un presepe con un brano che partisse ad una certa ora e fosse dannatamente semplice da controllare. Un gioco da ragazzi.

Evoluzione successiva: doveva illuminarsi anche una specie di capanna insieme al brano; poi ad un’altra ora doveva partire un altro brano e accendere luci su un gruppo di palme, poi cori, accendere re magi e illuminazione su altri riferimenti biblici a me ignoti. Una sobria fusione fra il cristianesimo e una discoteca (cristoteca?).

Ma che c’entrate voi?

Sentite, non so perché stiamo seguendo questa cosa. A volte ci si appassiona a certi progetti pensando di poter redimere tutti i peccati, magari dopo brutte parole dette quando il pullman n. 47 fa manovra in piazza Freguglia, tappando tutto il traffico, mentre resti lì, impotente, di fronte agli orari pianificati mostrati dall’app Libre BusTO.

Andiamo avanti.

L’implementazione elettrotecnica

L’implementazione prevista in assenza di un informatico in casa (ricordo che ora sto a Milano) è semplicemente formidabile e prevede un circuito progettato da papà che identifica il segnale audio in uscita dalle casse di uno normalissimo stereo, acceso a mano dal parroco, ed, in funzione di questo segnale musicale (!), accende la sequenza di illuminazione corrispondente. Ripeto. Il parroco semplicemente sgnacca play su un vecchio lettore CD o dal suo telefono o cosa cavolo vuole, e magicamente si accende il resto dello spettacolo. Quando il parroco spegne il party musicale, il presepe vivente torna in quiete.

Pura follia, genialità e magia.

L’implementazione informatica

Inutile dire che un qualsiasi sviluppatore software, se le specifiche non fossero cambiate, avrebbe preso un calcolatore GNU/Linux a caso (e.g. un RaspberryPI) e aggiunto librerie Python quanto basta.

La svolta ibrida

Avendo entrambi preso la decisione di scambiarsi pareri più spesso, e soprattutto di non cambiare le specifiche (piaceva troppo questa cosa che la moooseca controllasse tutto) abbiamo unito er meglio della creatività elettrotecnica con il peggio dell’informatica. L’implementazione risultante da questa fusione di competenze prevede il computer portatile con GNU/Linux di una dolcissima signora, vicina di casa nostra (la quale si era cuccata il solito cryptolocker su Microsoft Windows qualche anno prima e quindi era migrata a Xubuntu facilmente). Il suo portatile è stato scelto perché era manipolabile anche da un elettrotecnico senza dover capire con quale saldatore ci si collega con SSH ad un single-board computer. In breve, la macchina della vicina ha una stupida regola crontab per riprodurre il brano alle ore desiderate. Cosa che fra parentesi per suonare ogni mezz’ora dalle 19 alle 21 si fa così:

crontab -e
*/30 19-21 * * * /opt/jingle.sh

E poi in jingle.sh:

#!/bin/sh
export XDG_RUNTIME_DIR="/run/user/1000"
ffplay -hide_banner -nodisp -autoexit /home/omissis/Music/SantoNatale.ogg > /dev/null

A margine, a parte la sintassi non proprio naturale per un elettrotecnico o per un parroco, il processo che esegue crontab, anche se è eseguito dal proprio utente, non ha idea del contesto X desiderato, quindi non funzionerà l’audio senza l’export di XDG_RUNTIME_DIR. Ovviamente questo un parroco lo scopre solo dopo anni di lettura del manuale della propria distribuzione, o decifrando StackOverflow. Ma andiamo avanti. Questo è il genere di discorsi che non farà innamorare dell’informatica un elettrotecnico.

A questo punto il circuito di papà, ripeto, collegato a cascata soltanto al jack audio del portatile della vicina, resta letteralmente in ascolto della partenza del brano per far scattare il corretto impianto di illuminazione.

La soluzione è a prova di bomba. Intanto perché da un lato l’elettrotecnico non sbaglia mai, e poi perché se l’informatico avesse sbagliato qualcosa il parroco può sempre sostituire a caldo il portatile con un lettore CD a caso e ricondursi al caso precedente.

Completamente assurdo. Carino però. No?

Riassumiamo cos’ho imparato oggi.

Cosa può stupire un elettrotecnico

  • crontab: far partire un brano ad un’ora precisa via software è una cosa che, nonostante sia stata banalizzata da almeno 46 anni di informatica (riuscendo nell’intento di non introdurre mai alcuna semplificazione da allora) sembra ancora far luccicare gli occhi di molti elettrotecnici.
  • controllo degli stati: “sì ma non è che poi il file audio riparte da tipo metà se lo gestisci via software? uh?
    Se ho capito bene sono riuscito a stupire almeno un elettrotecnico semplicemente garantendo che il software era in grado di riprodurre un brano, più volte, partendo dall’inizio. Sicuramente c’è una preoccupazione elettrotecnicamente intelligente e concreta sotto, per ora però l’elettrotecnica con questa questione ha perso punti. Eh sì.
  • asterisk: il fatto di poter creare una rete telefonica locale e poter chiamare un numero la cui segreteria telefonica ti dice “benvenuto nel presepe più figo del mondo prema 5 per far partire la cristoteca” e che quando lo fai parta il brano e si accenda l’impianto d’illuminazione e si spenga dopo, fa definitivamente percepire la supremazia dell’informatica sull’elettrotecnica.
    P.S. Stranamente non stupisce se quest’ultima cosa non sono riuscito a mostrargliela in cinque minuti e quindi non abbia colpito molto. Ma sì può fare, dannazione! Provaci con l’elettrotecnica! Dai! Su!

Cosa può stupire un informatico

  • avere una scheda da pochi centesimi, scollegata dalla linea elettrica e alimentata solo con una batteria di un dannato telecomando, con autonomia di settimane o mesi, in grado di rilevare quando c’è musica riprodotta da uno stereo e solo in quel caso far partire un impianto di illuminazione, ecco, questo per un informatico può essere l’evento mindblowing per ristabilire l’orgoglio elettrotecnico.
  • avere la stessa scheda di prima che, collegata ad un doppino telefonico, collegata a sua volta ad un telefono da 9$, sia in grado di rilevare la frequenza audio di ognuno dei tasti numerici per far partire un impianto di illuminazione a scelta.
    Pura magia senza un computer.
    P.S. Me l’ha dimostrato e funzionava tutto perfettamente, con una singola batteria AAAA perché, per una serie di coincidenze, l’aveva già sviluppata per il soccorso speleologico. Maledetto.
    Qui l’elettrotecnica ha fatto punti, e di brutto.

Conclusioni

Destiniamo una giornata all’anno dedicata all’incontro fra informatici ed elettrotecnici. Invito a chiudere entrambi in una stanza per arricchimento reciproco.

Esercizio a casa per informatici

Prendete un elettrodomestico a caso e sostituite un componente con una pipeline più informatica.

Esempio: eliminate il pezzo di plastica che chiude il circuito della luce del vostro frigo. Da domani, un’apertura sufficientemente ampia dello sportello del vostro frigo deve essere filmato da una videocamera con OpenCV e, a movimento riconosciuto, deve attivare la luce del frigo usando un’API REST.

«Copyrights should be forever»

Welcome in copyrights should be forever: your friendly handbook guide for pure evil authors.

Spoiler: copyrights do not last forever. But with this guide you can make them last a very looooong time. Muaauahahah!

Let’s start!

Rule n. 1: You have copyrights

It happened! Do you remember when? You incised a new artwork on your school desk; you whistled a new astonishing tune in the shower; you wrote that beautiful poem about your ex partner; you draw a rat with round ears; etc.

Whatever is the way, you joined the community of authors and this means you gained a new power: copyrights (©).

Note: this guide is designed to empower your pure evil copyrights and raise your new Disney monopoly. This guide will not accept any refunds for people who will use this power to help others instead, for example adopting Creative Commons licenses.

Warning: It’s OK to dream your copyright monopoly but if you get the urge to extend copyrights for 400 years to protect a business over a damn hand-drawn rat, please consult a good doctor.

Facts about copyrights:

  • copyrights give you a monopoly by default
    • even without writing “all rights reserved” in bold
    • even without typing fancy characters like “©”
  • copyrights last for years
  • when they expire: public domain!
    • It means end of your monopoly

This means that if you create something original, you have a monopoly by default. You can be the only one on your planet able to copy it, and the only one able to decide who should use it and when.

Note that while this is the world of the Internet, and it costs little to no money to copy paste and send a song to billions of people, you have incredibly powerful rights that can stop this spread very effectively.

Anyway, death is for everyone, and it will touch your copyrights too.

Rule n. 2: Copyright has a deadline

You can try to build antennas to amplify your copyright signal.

Walt Disney Studios tower copyright strenth technical reference
A rat tower trying to extend its copyright signal

Anyway, even with powerful antennas, your copyright power does not last forever and after some years your work enters the public domain.

Under public domain, the game is over, my friend: your evil empire has vanished. Your work doesn’t belong to a master anymore, and anyone can make whatever other creative stuff with it (movies, T-shirts etc.) without any written authorization.

Important: in short, to keep your monopoly, you have to fight public domain or convert public domain into something that is not public domain.

So the first thing you should do, is: try to extend your evil copyright powers as long as possible. Yaah!

One of the evil things you can do to kill public domain and enlarge your empire, is transforming public domain, for example, doing “creative digitalization” (HAHA!) taking “original photos” (HAHA!) of something in public domain, or stuff like that. Trust me: people will become mad for this.

But you also need some friends to kill public domain.
Note this name: Sonny Bono and his wife.

Uh? Who? Sonny Bono was a nice songwriter and a great politician. As songwriter Sonny Bono wrote… uhm… surely something (OK now I don’t remember anything in particular). As politician, instead, he supported this great piece of paper we will remember forever:

The “Sonny Bono” Copyright Term Extension Act

In short, Sonny Bono tried to extend his copyrights and everyone-in-the-world’s copyrights with this law. I don’t know if this can be considered a conflict of interest but the important fact is that he reached this goal successfully in 1998! Good for our evil empire.

Extends the duration of copyright in a work created on or after January 1, 1978, to the life of the author and 70 (currently, 50) years after the author’s death. Makes the same extension with regard to joint works created on or after such date.

https://www.congress.gov/bill/105th-congress/senate-bill/505
Sonny Bono copyright meme
This was the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act, or CTEA, enacted in memory of the congressman and former musician. According to his widow, Mary Bono, Sonny Bono believed that “copyrights should be forever.”
https://www.legalaffairs.org/issues/March-April-2004/story_lessig_marapr04.msp

This resulted in the historic lawsuits Eldred vs Ashcroft where some cute authors who had some cute business on public domain materials complained about a law that largely limited their room for maneuver, judging this law unconstitutional.

The lawyer “against Sonny Bono” was Lawrence Lessig. But I guess you already know this name. Lessig tried to fight with all his energy but, without our team of evil super-lawyers, Lessig lost.
Again, it’s a good news for your evil empire.

Rule n. 3: stronger copyright, stronger Creative Commons

Now you understand why in 2001 Lawrence Lessig helped in founding Creative Commons. Using copyright like a jujutsu, using the power of your enemy against it.

The core idea was similar to the one of the licenses written by Richard Stallman to protect Free Software: the copyright holder uses Creative Common licenses to give people more permissions over creative digital works, instead of denying all of them.

Note that, at the time, there was only the GNU Free Documentation License as an “attractive jujutsu license” for authors for creative contents. In short, the GNU FDL was just adopted for source code documentation and not for much more creative things (even if even Wikipedia adopted it for some time – so it wasn’t really such a lame license). That’s the moment when Creative Commons licenses were written and highly appreciated by creative authors.

When Creative Commons was founded in 2001, the internet was a budding universe with high potential, and platforms widely used today like Wikipedia and Google were only just getting started. CC’s founders were keen to hit the ground running, building on their work to ensure that, as the internet continued to grow, safeguards to knowledge, culture, and creativity were firmly in place.

https://creativecommons.org/2021/05/24/were-turning-20-whats-happened-since-2001/
by Creative Commons · CC BY 4.0

But in short. What is Creative Commons?

  • Creative Commons is a nonprofit organization
    • they provide Creative Commons licenses and tools
    • they support events and work with other organizations
    • they offer certifications and other tools
    • they work to help creative authors to share their work without relying on «all rights reserved» but «some rights reserved» instead
  • Creative Commons is a set of licenses
    • for example the “free cultural work” licenses:
      • CC BY
      • CC BY-SA
      • CC 0 (special license – public domain)
    • these license are adopted by Wikipedia, StackOverflow and lot of other platforms where collaboration should be encouraged and legally sustained
  • Creative Commons is a movement very active also on the copyleft front, fighting the restrictive “default” copyright culture of «all rights reserved», providing valid alternatives. This movement is a network of global and local movements, from Europe, Japan and South Korea and much more, causing CC license proliferation.

Rule n. 4: Creative Commons are everywhere

Pay attention, monopoly builder: Creative Commons works are under every corner!

Do you know what? YouTube, that platform with billions of visits, allows creators to upload videos under CC BY license:

https://support.google.com/youtube/answer/2797468?hl=en

Flickr is even more designed for Creative Commons authors with powerful filters to fit your needs:

https://www.flickr.com/creativecommons/

About nerd stuff, StackOverflow receives 100 MILLIONS developers each month on their website, serving contents under CC BY-SA:

https://stackoverflow.com

https://stackoverflow.com/help/licensing

Wikidata ha 95+ MILLIONS pages in public domain, thanks to CC 0:

https://www.wikidata.org/wiki/Wikidata:Main_Page

Wikipedia has millions of pages under CC BY-SA served to 45 BILLIONS visitors each month:

https://stats.wikimedia.org/

Lot of people joined communities to work together to kill your evil empire of «all rights reserved». For example, the CC Global Network is a community of members committed to spread Creative Commons in the world.

To join, you must choose two existing Individual Members to vouch for you:

https://network.creativecommons.org/

Rule n. 5: GLAMs, GLAMs everywhere

The Open GLAM project seeks to invite museums, cultural institutions, archives, libraries, and many others on how to better achieve their preservation and dissemination goals through digitization and Creative Commons licensing, especially thanks to archival projects like Wikimedia Commons.

Wikidata is another very interesting platform that is changing the world, allowing to store and search almost whatever metadata about any artwork in the world, and other things that proprietary archives often does not allow in such scale. That is very loved by GLAMs.

To do that, GLAMs have a real framework of licenses and case studies and other tools to amplify their impact on human beings, without relying on «all rights reserved».

See this simple GLAM launchpad:

https://outreach.wikimedia.org/wiki/GLAM

In short. If you want to make a monopoly, you don’t have to do anything, you’re already doing it. If instead you want to contribute to global knowledge, join Creative Commons and promote public domain (CC 0), CC BY, or copyleft (CC BY-SA) to spread “free as in freedom cultural works“. Or, at least, try other compromises such as the non-commercial or non-derivative versions.

Thank you for reading!

Note

This post is the result of the Creative Commons certification assignment.

I mean, I was not paid to write this post. I’m just doing my homework!

Credits

You can do whatever you want with the texts and the images in this page, as long as you give the rights credits and as long as you don’t put “all rights reserved” on this stuff.

I’ve created these images with the Free Software GIMP, the GNU Image Manipulation Program.

Thank you for sharing! and copy-pasting! and editing! You can!

Boz’s Open Letter to Xiaomi

Hi! I’m boz. Today I had a problem with my new Xiaomi Redmi Note 7. I was trying to reject the terms and conditions of Xiaomi, remove all the GoogleShit, and install Android LineageOS.

Spoiler: it was a bloodbath.

Preamble (don’t arrest me!)

Note. Rejecting terms and conditions is not an insane, lamer or illegal operation. Moreover, Android is basically the Android Open Source Project, designed to be used and improved by vendors, developers and end-users for whatever purpose. If you think otherwise, maybe you have an iPhone.

Xiaomi knows that. Probably because they are made in China; low cost; intrinsic healthy spirit of sharing tech stuff in DNA, plus other stereotypes I don’t know. Xiaomi has a nice procedure to unlock your bootloader, in order to use their hardware without software obligation.

https://en.miui.com/unlock/ – official Xiaomi tool to Free your device

And this ↑ is nice.

So? what happened?

Unfortunately the official Xiaomi tool was not be able to see my Xiaomi Redmi Note 7 and I was not able to proceed with the unlock procedure. I tried multiple times and in multiple ways. I’ve also tried my local Xiaomi phone support but without much success.

Hello support! I am trying to reject the terms and conditions. I was following this official Xiaomi proced… Yes I want to unlock the bootloader for personal motiv… Yes the bootloader, the thing on my phone that you have locked down… No no I’m not talking about the unlock screen… Yes I want to remove Google from my phone and I need to unlock my phone. No no it’s… uhm… OK. Shibboleet?

― not exactly my phone call but quite similar

Long story short, after 10 hours of troubleshooting, trying multiple Microsoft Windows versions (bleah), multiple USB ports, multiple Chinese drivers (I mean, literally in Chinese, from website to documentation and URLs) and after selling my soul to Satana installing the most borked unofficial software of the dark web, I was then able to reject the terms and conditions, unlocking my bootloader.

How? I’ve found this tool:

http://xiaomi-miui-ota-3rdrom.ks3-cn-beijing.ksyun.com/rom/u265827351/3.3.525.23/miflash_unlock-en-3.3.525.23.zip

It’s a suspicious URL but I think it’s legitimate since it comes from a “Xiaomi Super moderator”. Note that fresh users in the Xiaomi forum are not called “Super moderator” but are called “Rookie Bunny”. Yup, I am one of them 🥕.

https://c.mi.com/thread-1857937-1-1.html – old guide by Super moderator

So, it seems the official Xiaomi unlock tool, in recent versions, has not the possibility to install the right drivers anymore. But, that version above will install good old drivers (using the top-right menu of the application). Then, since that old version is completely outdated and stuck to the login screen, then I was able to proceed with the recent normal unlock tool (https://en.miui.com/unlock/).

Puff!
Now I have a Xiaomi Note 7 phone, flashed with LineageOS instead, and without any proprietary Google application, refusing both Google’s and Xiaomi’s terms and conditions, since I don’t use their services.

My Xiaomi Note 7 now, with LineageOS and F-Droid stuff :)

That’s why today I’m happy with Xiaomi!

Yesterday, anyway, I was in the mood How far can I throw this phone?

So, What I suggest to Xiaomi

Dear Xiaomi,

0 First of all, even if there is room for improvement, thank you for allowing users to refuse Xiaomi terms and conditions and have an official Xiaomi procedure and tool for that. For example to unlock my phone, to allow to clean my phone, do my stuff on my phone, increase privacy on my phone, etc. You are working in the right direction!

1 Often people who want to unlock their phones do so to avoid proprietary software. So they don’t want to use Microsoft Windows. If you can, make the unlocking procedure not require proprietary software or Microsoft Windows.

2 There are many unofficial Free and Open Source software that work better that the official proprietary one. This is surprisingly frequent but potentially very good for you. So, since you’re smart, I suggest to don’t kill these developers using your lawyers. Instead, contact these developers, support them, hire them, encourage them to write more good Free/Libre and Open Source software for Xiaomi devices.

3 Before you say “Oh my God there are too much Leenocs distributions to support!” keep calm and just take Ubuntu 20.04 LTS that is very mainstream, and start giving support to that. Amazingly, you will also support Trisquel GNU/Linux at no costs and a truckload of other distributions, giving more support to Xiaomi devices and more freedom to users.

4 Since it seems somebody in the world somehow already knows what your software does (I explain better later), do not try to obfuscate it. Instead, just release your software (as much as you can!) as Free/Libre and Open Source. It is a winning business strategy for Xiaomi to make experts happy, because they are the ones who then recommend Xiaomi phones to others. Additionally, you would have improvements and fixes from other experts all around the world, pratically improving Xiaomi support for you, and, more important, you will be able to easily find skilled developers to hire directly from your contributors, in a virtuous circle that boosts your loyalty marketing and puts more money in your piggy bank.

For example, it seems the world is really happy to have an unofficial unlock tool called XiaoMiToolV2 made by Francesco Tescari, who tried to understand what Xiaomi’s official software does to improve it. The result. It works for 3 operating systems (Microsoft Windows – macOS and GNU/Linux!) and is also able to flash ROMs, unbrick your Xiaomi device (!), restore factory data, support multiple languages and, among other features, it’s probably also able to give a good orgasm to the motherboard. Unfortunately, Francesco cannot release its source code because he is afraid of legal repercussions from Xiaomi. Remember, the official Xiaomi tool just works for Microsoft Windows (uff), sometime it does not work, and it’s ugly as hell (with all due respect) and, above all, its code is obfuscated (security through obscurity).

TL;DR

Dear Xiaomi, hire the Italian IT guy named Francesco Tescari. Give him permissions to do whatever he wants. Instead of sending Francesco to a Chinese jail, allow him to write more official documentation, produce more Free/Libre and Open Source software. For example, to convert Xiaomi phones into kitten-bots, create camera-enabled mosquito-killers etc. making Android experts damn happy to work with Xiaomi for their projects and damn inclined to play with Xiaomi hardware and reccommend Xiaomi to IT companies, local resellers and end users.

And what can Xiaomi do on Wednesday? Donate some devices and some documentation to Replicant, LineageOS and donate to the Free Software Foundation, and share the news to the world! They are definitely your friends. It’s pennies to you, but would be a crazy gratis advertising and a crazy big step for the Xiaomi corporate image.

Phone image by Minette Lontsie, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Common
Screenshot by Valerio Bozzolan and the owners of each single logo under same license

Share!

Xiaomi, are you ready?