Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Know your rights of your software

Do you know your rights to the software you bought on CD? Be it Microsoft office, adobe acrobat, quicken, or anything. Can you lend the CD to your friends and let him install it on his computer? Can you install it on your wife's computer, your parents', or kids' computers? Can you sell it?

Copyright law in US generally allows consumers to lease, lend, or resale legal copies of copyrighted materials they own. This seems to be common sense because it won't surprise anybody that a copyrighted book can be resold on ebay without any legal hassles. Such allowance is known as the first sale doctrine, codified in section 107 of title 17, the copyright act. 

However, when comes to software, it is a whole different story.  If you think you own your software purchased at bestbuy, you are wrong. Almost all the software makers have this term in the EULA (end user license agreement)
"The software is licensed, not sold. This agreement only gives you some rights to use the software."
Would you still shell out 100 bucks for the software program you bought, if you knew you only got a lease in return? Software's EULA usually comes with very stringent terms that defy some common protections afforded by the law, such as first sale doctrine, reverse engineering, forum selection, and etc. While some courts were fed up by software makers  practices in turning every products of theirs into leases and thus invalidate EULA with respect to the terms of lease when disputes arise, still many courts will enforce such terms in favor of software makers.
But how many of us really know or even read these terms before we eagerly rip the shrink wrap off? And of course by opening the software, you automatically admitted this term
 "BY USING THE SOFTWARE, YOU ACCEPT THESE TERMS. IF YOU DO NOT ACCEPT THEM, DO NOT USE THE SOFTWARE. INSTEAD, RETURN IT TO THE RETAILER FOR A REFUND OR CREDIT."


Monday, November 23, 2009

Things to learn from China

Obama in his recent visit to China mentioned US has much to learn from China in the areas of education, medicine and etc. In one recent issue, Time magazine also ran an article about  several things to learn from China: ambition, education, senior care and efficiency.  
Certainly it is nice for US to give Kudos to China, but Chinese shouldn't get too complacent at the outburst of the pupil attitude of US. Historically US has never been shy giving praises to other countries that she may admire with a caution. Personally I won't put too much into it, but it is still nice to be recognized, even for China - getting a pad on the back for doing a good job saving the world is always encouraging.  

This recent China kudoing trend is a sharp contrast to the pattern of early 90s when almost everything in the US media about China was negative. Did China really turnaround 180 degree from then to now? Well, I think the perceived change has a lot to do with overreactions in both periods. 

However, I do think there is one thing Americans need to take a note from Chinese. It's the insatiable desire for improvement. Learning and improving runs deep in every Chinese's vein. Night schools are everywhere in China and for everything.  in contrast, It's almost unheard of in US that people will go to night school to pick up a foreign language or to learn computer administration skills after daily 9-5 job. Graduate programs in China are also filled with top students because many Chinese college graudates' choice is to acquire more education.  Except for medical and law school, American college graduates will be hard pressed to study for advanced education. Guess who occupies most seats in graduate programs of Engineering schools in the US? The Chines and Indians. Forty and fifty years from now, not only will Chinese still outnumber Americans by 5 to 1, but also will average Chinese be more educated than their American counterparts. That's scary.  

Thursday, November 19, 2009

John Nasbitt's new book: China's Megatrend

John Nasbitt, the author of the NYT best seller Megatrends,  is going to release his new book China Megatrends in January 2010.

According to Nasbitt himself, this book was a sbumission to an assignment by President Jiang Zeming 13 year ago when he was visiting China with his wife. He has traveled throughout China and with help of his Chinese students conducted field researches on social topics to conjure up this book since.

I however have one reservation about this upcoming book. According to  Mr Nasbitt's bio on his  publisher's website, he has substantial connections with China, ranging from visiting scholars at multiple universities to a research institute named after him in a Chinese university. I am a little skeptical about his independence and objectivity on China's future. 

However, Prophecy is largely subjective based on interpretations of current events and people. In that regard, it's hard to judge this book at this point. I am nonetheless looking forward to finding some poignant insights in this book and certainly not wishing it be a work that merely fulfills President Jiang's assignment. 

I think I will buy this book.     

Thoughts on China's soccer ...

Sina reports that the new owner, Yang,  of Birmingham FC of the Premiership wants to import a couple of Chinese players and the focus is on the winger. Yang's appointed assistant, the fabled Chinese Soccer player Fan Zhiyi, told the media that China should really send young players aged between 15 and 17 to top leagues. He says Chinese kids at that age still can compete with kids in the top leagues, but Chinese adult players would not be competitive in top leagues.  He wonders why?
Fan probably knows the answer better than anybody since he played in China until he was 28 and played several years in UK afterwards. Kids at 15-17 years are middle school-er in soccer terms.  Adult players are graduates of universities. If soccer player's development were to compared to general education development, Fan is pointing out up until middle school China is successful in developing young player compared to top leagues. 
I think this statement is accurate to a large extent, if not considering the fishy business in China's youth soccer system. Indeed China could truly compete at a pretty high level in world youth games prior to 19 years of age.
This shows Chinese young players are just as talented as others. Innate physical deficiency was often cited as the reason for China's soccer failure in the past.  Another popular excuse is that Chinese players are simply not smart enough to play highly coordinated team sports like soccer. Fingers are often pointed at the youth development in China's soccer system. 
Chinese are crazy about soccer. Lots money have been invested in soccer. Maybe it's time to look at a deeper level what is really wrong with China's soccer. I feel the enigama of China's soccer is akin to that of political system. Everybody knows it is not right, and yet no one can fix it. 

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

First Posts

I have been thinking about blogging for awhile. To start is always the most difficult thing to do. Hopefully, I will find time to write here often.