Mirror Magazine


Techno Page - By Harendra Alwis

Promote peace through hi-tech
'The shock and awe' of the war in Iraq is now hiding behind the curtain of history, as the people the world over breathe a sigh of relief... or can they? Leaving the politics of the matter aside, this war was one that was fought on the technological front with communication jammers and fibre optics as well as thousands of missiles. There was a full-scale war of electrons that only a few paid attention to.

As the military machines of both sides were busy trying to jam the communications, and even GPS (global positioning system) devices of the other, the boundaries of electronic warfare have been stretched far beyond our imagination. Even the increased use of fibre optic cables by Iraq since the first Gulf War affected the electronic battle this time. The problem with fibre-optic cables is that they don't make any emission from the cables. An electrical cable has a magnetic field around it, and if you have the right sensor in the right place, you can read what is being sent along the cable (Though you have to be pretty close, you need special forces for that). So deeply buried fibre-optic cables are a real problem. The other thing they replace of course, is radio traffic, and that is very easy to detect and record although it's not necessarily so easy to decode and sift. The fibre-optic cable actually defeats both these means of interception.

On the other hand, a civilian war raged across the Internet with pro and anti-war activists as well as pro and anti coalition activists hacking into and attacking websites of the opposite party. Sites like that of Arab TV station Al-Jazeera and British Prime Minister Tony Blair, have been targeted and taken down by hackers wanting to make their respective points. And in the last month, tens of thousands of sites have experienced similar attacks - the war has triggered the most active hacking ever.

These are definitely not very positive signs, but nevertheless they deserve our attention. Can we use electronics and communication technology to promote positive and democratic activism, and use those resources to promote peace and brotherhood instead? Write into technopage_lk@yahoo.com and share your views with us.

The issue of piracy undoubtedly, seems to have generated a great deal of enthusiasm because I still receive different opinions regarding the matter even though many weeks have passed since opening up the debate. One such response is featured (see box) since Hasitha evidently brings the software piracy crisis to the brink of resolution, and pinpoints certain key issues with greater force such as the issue regarding the students of IT and also those engaged in the 'business of piracy' and their economic fate. I will address the latter issue first.

Software pirates and all those engaged in the business directly or indirectly are clearly seeking to profit from an illegal trade. Even though I admit that I myself have 'benefited' from their actions, I still cannot see how their actions can be justified.

An important fact that I would like to bring to the attention of readers, however, is the argument that the high cost of non-pirated material would hinder students. Virtually all producers of software offer very attractive and considerable concessions for students. In most of these cases, the discounts offered on the shelf price of these products range from 50% - 90%! Most standard software tools that IT professionals are required to learn have versions specifically built for the purpose of instruction and are distributed free of charge or at a fraction of the cost of the 'enterprise editions'. Therefore, it may not be valid any longer to argue that eradicating the piracy of intellectual property and copyrights would harm the students.

Let this not be a debate though about the merits and demerits of piracy, but an open forum for all to express their views. If I have presented any counter arguments here seemingly against the views expressed, that is solely for the purpose of providing a balance so that the discussion would be enriching and fruitful to all.

Point of view
What is good for us?
With regard to the arguments presented a couple of weeks ago, I wish to express my views on the issue of software piracy. I agree with Viraj Siriwardene that the attempts by the government to implement new laws against abuse of copyright and intellectual property can cause problems.

At present the IT industry is one of the most successful and promising industries in Sri Lanka. Furthermore, with the development of modern technology and especially computing, a career in IT can be considered lucrative employment.

It is a fact that virtually all of the compact discs and some other computer accessories that our country purchases are not 'originals' (most of them have been tampered with in some way) and most CDs are pirated. The obvious reason for this is because pirated accessories are much cheaper than originals. In the event of the government implementing new laws the IT trade would suffer a setback. It is important to note that Sri Lanka is a Third World country, which has faced severe economic recession due to various reasons. We also have a huge population and to purchase original CDs would mean an enormous additional expense. Already the cost of living and inflation rates are high.

So for the average citizen, it would mean an additional expense. Furthermore Viraj's point about students and undergraduates being unable to purchase software easily, is quite disturbing. This would mean an injustice to the future generation. They certainly won't benefit from all this. It would also mean that many small and medium scale CD dealers would have to close down their businesses. Many will lose their jobs. There would be a shortage of CDs.

I also wish to comment on some remarks published under the 'note' section. This is not a case of Robin Hood. The question we must ask is whether it is better to buy CDs from the pirates or from so-called honest men. Look at the price differences and you'll understand. Even though the author mentions that new laws will help investors to invest in our country, I do not think it will be all that successful as there is an apparent lack of enthusiasm amongst large-scale investors. This is due to adverse economic conditions and the war situation globally.

We might be better off with the way things are at present. Certainly piracy and stealing in any form have to be condemned. However we should look at what is more advantageous to us. There is no great disadvantage in buying duplicates. So far we have done that and we should just stick to our current policy. If we decide to change that, we might have to combat many unforeseen problems as well as the above mentioned ones. We should think of what benefits our country and us.
Hasitha Dissanayake

End of the road for S Club
The revival of the rock band The Doors has encountered opposition.

Reports from the US say the parents of the late Doors frontman Jim Morrison and his late girlfriend Pamela Courson are leading a legal assault against keyboardist Ray Manzanel, guitarist Robby Krieger and former Cult Singer Ian Astury who has taken Morrison's place in the band.

Both sets of parents claim in a lawsuit filed in the Los Angeles Superior Court that the group has maliciously misappropriated the Doors name in a breach of contract. They are seeking unspecified damages and disbandment of the lineup.

The Doors was originally formed in Los Angeles back in 1965 by Jim Morrison along with Manzanek, Krieger and John Densmore. Morrison left the band in December 1970. He died four months later in France in 1971. The Doors disbanded in 1973.

S Club announced on April 22 they will split at the end of May. The group was formed four years ago. Seven members were selected from 10,000 teenage hopefuls.

Group member Paul Cattermole left the group last year. The group which was then known as S Club 7 decided to drop the 7 as the membership of the act changed.

The end of the group came as member Jo O'Meara is reported to be suffering from a spinal condition which will make her wheel chair bound.

In another development the father of group member Hannah Spearitt is reported in the UK media as considering taking legal action against S Club's manager Simon Fuller. It is believed Fuller took a disproportionate share of S Club's multi-million pound fortune.

The group, according to reports, generated £50 million from album sales, TV programmes and sponsorship deals.

Hannah's father wants to know why the members made so little money while the group was very successful. Hannah is reported to be in debt of over tens of thousands of pounds to Polydor Records. She is still following up payments from Simon Fuller's 19 Management.

After four weeks the UK singles chart has a new No:1 song with 'You Said No' by Busted. The band released two singles earlier. The first 'What I Go To School For' peaked at No:3 in 2002. The second single 'Year 3000' peaked at No:2 in January this year.

Lisa Maffia entered the chart at No: 2 with 'All Over'. Lisa is a member of the So Solid Crew. The release of 'All Over' was overshadowed by a shooting incident that took place at the launch party. For So Solid Crew it was the usual story - violence following the group.

Lisa Maffia is the fifth member of the So Solid Crew to branch out following Oxide & Nevtrino and Romeo and Asher D.

'Don't Let Go' is the second chart hit for David Sneddon. His first hit a few months ago was 'Stop Living The Lie'. He was a winner of the Fame Academy.

Time will really tell if the concept is a success or failure or just another gimmick as they call it in the UK to keep the programme ratings on TV high. 'Don't Let Go' has very little power and so had to settle for the No:3 spot.

The duo White Stripes notched up their first Top 20 hit this week with '7 Nation Army' as it debuted on the chart at No:7. The rock and roll act made three attempts before with singles which simply failed to make a major impact on the buying public. Instead the three songs peaked outside the Top 20. '7 Nation Army' is taken from White Stripes' new album 'Elephant'.

Lance Bass, a member of the group NSYNC has told the BBC's Radio I that the group will release a new album by end of this year. The group have been working on new material while Justin Timberlake has launched a solo career.

Lance Bass was training last year as a cosmonaut in Russia. But as he failed to pay up his fee of passage he had to pull out of the space project.

Sinead O'Connor is to retire from the music scene in July according to reports. The Irish singer will leave over 20 years in the music business to pursue a new career.

36-year-old Sinead is best known for the huge No:1 hit across the world in 1990, 'Nothing Compares 2 U'.

She caused an uproar in 1992 by tearing up a photograph of Pope John Paul II on a live TV show in the US.

In 1999 she was ordained a priest in the Latin Tridentine church, a splinter group of the Roman Catholic Church and was known as Mother Bernadette.

In 1998 she gave an hour long interview taking a look at her life story - the contents of which was very tragic and sad at times. Sinead is expected to contribute a track to the Dolly Parton tribute album and record a track to Sharon Shannon's album later this month.

UK top 20
1 - You Said No - Busted
2 - All Over - Lisa Maffia
3 - Don't Let Go - David Sneddon
4 1 Make Luv - Room 5 Feat: Oliver Chatham
5 3 In Da Club - 50 Cent
6 - X Gon' Give It To Ya - DMX
7 - 7 Nation Army - White Stripes
8 - Knock Out - Triple Eight
9 6 Move Your Feet - Junior Senior
10 7 Cry - Kym Marsh
11 4 Come Undone - Robbie Williams
12 2 American Life - Madonna
13 8 Spirit In The Sky - Gareth Gates Feat: The Kumars
14 11 Scandalous - Mis-Teeq
15 5 Out Of Time - Blur
16 13 I Can't Read You - Daniel Bedingfield
17 10 All I Have - Jennifer Lopez Feat: LL Cool J
18 9 Speechless - D-Side
19 12 Damaged - Plummet
20 14 Born To Try - Delta Goodrem

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