i’ve got one more silver dollar

I'm taking a break from my online traffic school (shorter traffic school: Don't be a dick, and slow the fuck down).

I got a ticket recently when I misunderstood some confusing lane lines in Burbank. I thought they were telling me I could turn right from the two right-most lanes, but the friendly police officer who pulled me over told me that they were telling me the second-to-right lane could only go straight. I probably could have fought it in court, but I'm so goddamn busy these days, I just opted to do traffic school (I haven't been pulled over, much less gotten a ticket, in over 10 years).

I think traffic school is kind of a scam, just another way to suck even more money out of us when we make a stupid mistake while driving, but I'm glad the option is there, especially after I asked my insurance company how much my rates would go up if I didn't use it. The entire experience is much better now than it was when I last did it. Sitting in my office, listening to as many live recordings of the Allman Brothers Band I can get from Rhapsody, next to an open window that lets in the warm summer breeze is certainly better than the old way of doing things.

Most of the things it tells me are pure common sense, and I appreciate that whoever wrote this particular course seems to be aware of this, so it isn't condescending or insulting. The stock photos from the 1970s are pretty sweet, too.


Before I get back to online traffic school, here are a couple things from today:

Some douche took Ruth's free Lovecraft book, stripped out her introduction, and is selling it in the Kindle store without attribution. Things like this make me all kinds of stabby. Someone on Tumblr thinks she should just be happy that someone thought her work was good enough to steal and sell. I don't even know what to say to that, because I find that idea so profoundly stupid and wrong, I get ranty.

Twitter is rolling out its new photo integration, in partnership with Photobucket. Considering the recent TwitPic fiasco, I wondered what Twittter said about copyright and ownership. It appears that Twitter is unambiguous about it (we own the rights the way we own our  Tweets), but what Twitter is saying is pretty clearly contradicted in Photobucket's TOS. I'm not sure what rights situation would take precedence, but common sense makes me think it would be Photobucket's, since they're hosting. If that's the case, it's another non-starter for me. That's a bummer.


Sorry. Pavlovian response that is as old as time for me.

I wonder why more photo/video hosting sites don't just give users the ability to choose a Creative Commons license (the way Flickr does), because I think that would eliminate the entire issue. Probably because it gets in the way of those sites making money, and the rule of thumb these days is that any service that is cool and free is actually treating its users as products instead of customers. I get that, and as long as we're going in with our eyes wide open, we can all make our own decisions. Still, I'd like to apply the Attribution, Non-Commercial, Share-Alike license to all my uploaded pictures, and I hope Twitter will work out something like that.

Alternatively, Twitter integration with imgur would be pretty rad.

I'm back from my blogging vacation, and I have a list of things to post about this week, so it should be fun. I've enjoyed the break, but I also miss the writing.

Okay, time to go back to learning stuff I already know so I can pass the test (here's how much of a geek I am: I know that I can pass with 80%, but I'm determined to get 100%. Some things never change.)

47 thoughts on “i’ve got one more silver dollar”

  1. Thanks for bringing more attention to the rip-off Ruth’s work. She’s one of my favorite people (if you haven’t met her yet, be sure you do!), and she did good, hard work to create the compilation. People can be such douchecanoes.

  2. The best part about online traffic school vs in-person traffic school is the lack of other students asking dumb questions. After all the clueless questions some of my fellow students had about routine driving and safety procedures when I went to in-person traffic school, I was afraid to drive out of the parking lot with them. It probably would have been better not to know they were out there on the road.
    Hope you got ice cream!

  3. How could I possibly resist the b-b-b-blog-bo-blog! bloggy-blog-blog-blog! buh-huh-huh-huh-loooooog! tweet?
    You summarized traffic school well. If only more drivers would obey those two simple rules. So many careless drivers out there really need to go to traffic school… I wish there was a better way than “Whoever happens to get caught doing something at the exact moment an officer happens to be looking” to decide who has to attend.

  4. Someone on Tumblr thinks she should just be happy that someone thought her work was good enough to steal and sell. I don’t even know what to say to that.
    “She’s even happier when someone thinks her work is good enough to respect.”

  5. I’ve seen my works posted by others who’ve claimed it as theirs and seen how it could be considered a compliment inasmuch as I would say “Hey thanks!” before clubbing them in the jaw with a frozen cod (should one be available).
    That being said, your public wants to know:
    What of the ice cream?!?!?

  6. Haven’t we been products for content producers as long as advertisement supported television and radio have been on the air?

  7. Moments before reading your blog, the Ice Cream Man drove down my street. Even though this “Ice Cream Man” is really just someone driving a beat-up old truck with magnets and a cooler, every time I hear that song, there’s a part of me that gets giddy like a little girl and says, “OOOOH!!! ICE CREAM MAN!!!!!” while gleefully jumping up and down.
    Knowing that I am not the only one who has an uncontrollable, jovial reaction was a very welcome surprise. Thanks Wil. I hope you got something yummy and delicious…

  8. Thanks, Zen-raven, that’s a great way of putting it!
    @Wil, I couldn’t figure out a way respond to that either, and got another comment to that effect on my blog. So I just left it. *sigh*
    Also, it looks like the person took down the book. Hoping that after my complain with Amazon goes through, people will get their money back as well–though a person on Twitter reported being able to return the book because he only bought it in the last 7 days.

  9. She should be *happy* because someone liked her stuff enough to steal it? HAHAHAHA. Oh, god. I’ll remember that if I’m ever mugged again: “I should just shut up and be grateful.”
    Whatever. I guess that’s just the way thieves think.

  10. Love the Allman Brothers! Looking very much forward to all of your new blogs this week, and sosorry to hear about the ticket. I got one recently, and I am doing exactly what you are…guess it is like writing from the dictionary when I got in trouble in elementary school.
    ….and after all is said and done, what makes me more mad out of the whole ticket deal is the “have a nice day” with a half smile they seem to so gladly give after they write you up.

  11. Apropos of nothing, save that I keep forgetting to come over here and tell you:
    Two weeks ago my friends and I played Munchkin for about a zillion straight hours. They purchased it at my recommendation direct from you writing about how much you enjoyed it.
    We had loads of fun, and it’s all your fault. Thanks, Wil.

  12. Looks like you skeered the guy. Just checked cthulhuchick.com and she said he took it down. Now go find that ice cream truck!
    Oops, saw she posted the same earlier up. Good deal anyway.
    Ice cream?

  13. Thanks very much for your comments on the thief that took Ruth’s work and publish it for money on Amazon. It is good when someone with your following makes this point for so many people to read.

  14. *waves*. That was me. And I specifically told Amazon support that I was returning it because it was a copyright violation. I’ll probably never know if that made a difference, but at least they know.
    And I still can’t see the ice cream truck without hearing Eddie Murphy screaming in my head.

  15. I hadn’t heard about that bit of plagiarism until now. That kind of thing pisses me off to no end. I battle similar issues all the time. I’m a graphic designer and in the past I have done work gratis for religious organizations or acquaintances. There have been several occasions when I’ll do a design and then the next year they will PAY someone else to recreate what I did and change some dates around. WTF? Makes me want to go all Stabby McStabberson on them. Even worse…they never understand why I’m upset.

  16. Feeling stabby should be an understatement. I sell a lot of used books on Amazon, and I’ve been amazed at the number of double dumbasses that are selling books they have no right to. I deal in a lot of rare and hard to find books…and while it’s not uncommon to see a reprint of a book from 80-100 years ago where the copyright is long expired…lately I’ve been seeing books from the past 20-30 years being sold as Print on Demand titles. One look at the Amazon page tells me instantly that it wasn’t done by the publisher or the original author, but rather someone with a scanner and a sincere lack of scruples.
    Sadly since Amazon is so huge (30+ million titles for books alone, however many of these are duplicates)…there are tons of listings that are prohibited (like educational versions of software) that fall through the cracks. But despite many people saying that Amazon is run by evil uncaring people, they tend to take action when you let them know someone is doing something nefarious. :)

  17. “I’d like to find a way to get back to that, but I think things have changed so much, it’s not really possible to change them back again.”
    You made that quote from your post called This post is titled Laika for some reason, regarding your writing.
    It’s nice to see: “I’ve enjoyed the break, but I also miss the writing.”

  18. I look forward to your blogs Wil Wheaton.
    BTW..I did the Improv Traffic School, it wasn’t too bad….but it still sucks to have to pay for fines and traffic school…just to keep points off insurance…I got 100% too…*smile*

  19. Flickr works decently well with Twitter. It’s pretty easy to set it up so you can email your pictures to a custom email address, and they’ll automatically show up in your Flickr stream and get posted to Twitter. That’s how I do it.

  20. Hey Wil
    This is a bit unrelated, but I’ve read alot about your pride as a adopted/step-dad to your kids. I’m in a similar situation in that I have a wonderful stepdad whom I love with all my heart. The following was his Father’s day gift from me and i thought you might appreciate it too. :)
    I was child lost and angry.
    You stepped into the hole,
    Offered love where none had been
    To fill an empty role.
    Unconditional acceptance,
    Pride in all I did,
    A steady shoulder to cry on,
    Protection when I hid.
    Day by day, always there,
    Promises fulfilled.
    In the crowd, when I shine,
    Your smile is my thrill.
    Phone calls just to check in,
    Such care in your voice.
    You are everything paternal,
    The father of my choice.
    You did not have to love me
    For I am not your blood.
    I was not your chore,
    Yet you dared the flood.
    I am not your nature
    Yet your nurture I display,
    And you forever change me
    For the better every day.
    I could not ask for more,
    So our flag I proudly hoist.
    Luckiest on earth,
    I’m the child of your choice.

  21. That brought tears to my eyes, and I don’t even have anyone in my life that it fits. (My father was my biological father and the same is true of my children.) So, awesome job!

  22. An absolute must read on the topic of profiting from theft, and the indifference of others to the plight of having one’s creative works taken from you and credited to others:
    Words for the Taking, by Neal Bowers
    He is a poet who discovered that someone was plagiarizing his work, taking credit for it, and selling them to highly regarded publishers.
    The story is about his hunt for the plagiarist, the effort he made to stop him, and the indifference he faced from publishers and others who did not understand the crime.
    Before you go on another rant, read this book, then rant. So well armed will you be, it will make any past rants seem like romantic odes to piracy.
    I want to stab the thief to death with a pickle.
    Because, man, that would hurt. Eventually.

  23. I graduated with a BFA in technical theatre, and my friends in other faculties couldn’t understand why I was so upset when I found out that they were buying ripped-off movies. People don’t seem to see theft of intellectual property as theft.
    What really gets me is that as a (now) high-school teacher, trying to explain to a kid why ripping off four different essays off the internet and splicing them together is STILL PLAGERISM and will net them a mark of zero.
    I totally agree with creative commons – but that’s a choice that the creator of the information, music or art has made for themselves. When artists work, they should be paid, or at least recognized for their work.
    I feel quite stabby about it too.
    I lost a few ‘friends’ in university by tipping off the police to where they were making illegal copies of movies.

  24. Stealing someone’s thunder and trying to sell it as your own is reprehensible! (whenever I use that word it makes me think that they should have a tail — I don’t know why!) If I were to “publish” something along this line, I guess I would put in a “mistake” or something in the style that repeats through out the work that would be really annoying to remove, like drop caps at the beginning of every paragraph. Something that would take as much time to remove as you had used to create the item. The goal being to make it too much work to modify the item before attempting to steal my thunder. Granted this probably isn’t going to be one of the things you’re thinking about when you set out to create something for others to enjoy. Probably one of the reasons I don’t create ebooks!

  25. Creepy yet yummy. As I was reading this, the ice cream truck music started playing over the PA at work! It’s ice cream day (to celebrate the middle of the year.) Popsicles and Revel bars anyone?

  26. I like the Ice Cream man part.
    I have only heard one down here maybe once in the last 10 years.
    Had a question about Wil Wheaton the brand.
    Why do you have one tag line for Twitter and one for your blog?
    The I’m just a guy.. bit is pretty clever and creative. The one on the blog comes off as more defensive.
    Have you ever thought of changing it (honest question)

  27. *OFF TOPIC* (Sorry!)
    Wil, have you seen “I AM: THE DOCUMENTARY” by Tom Shadyac (released Feb 2011)? I first heard of the film at a lecture in Glendale a couple of weeks ago. Sounds like it would be right up your alley (and Anne’s). Since then, I have been trying to track down a showing (or a DVD) to no avail… color me “out of touch”, because I live in the IE and we are a bit disconnected out here in many ways. Would love to hear your thoughts on the film.

  28. Andrew–I don’t know what tickles me more: that you responded to me, or that you parsed my name as anion. As a burned out science-teacher working for Graduation (come on Friday night, baybee!) that probably cracked me up way more than it should!
    /drooling fangirl

  29. I like the “don’t be a dick” tagline. I think people (myself included) need to be reminded of this every once in a while.

  30. Unfortunately, what happened to Ruth happens a lot on the internet. Thank you for using your magical internet powers to bring attention to this.
    BTW: You haven’t asked for a mirror in a while. Do you still need one? Plenty of room on my server…

  31. “Someone on Tumblr thinks she should just be happy that someone thought her work was good enough to steal and sell. I don’t even know what to say to that.”
    So according to this logic, I think enough of this person’s wife to kidnap her, hold her hostage in my house, and have sex with her? I mean, yeah it’s illegal, but she’s a great woman, so I feel entitled to it. F***wad.

  32. Hey Wil. I have to take the traffic school bullet as well, and have been trying to figure out which to do. Was your online school tolerable enough that you’d make a recommendation?

  33. Dude, let’s hope your wonderful state doesn’t do like NJ does – and tack on a surcharge (as if paying a fine weren’t bad enough) of $150 for a moving violation for which the original ticket was $150…

  34. As a novelist desperately trying to make a career out of my writing, when I hear about stuff like Ruth’s book or ebooks being downloadable for free from pirate sites I feel practically homicidal. Just when is this entitlement age going to end?! Respect the copyright, folks, and the fact that people can’t make a living if you’re stealing their stuff!

  35. I don’t know if the format for online traffic school has changed or not, HOWEVER:
    Many years ago when I took the course (to avoid a speeding ticket fine and an insane rise in insurance premium), you were allowed to read ahead. It was basically several pages of reading followed by a quiz page, then more reading, then more quiz, etc.
    So, I just skipped forward to the quiz pages, print screened them out, then went through and found all the answers they were looking for. The whole test took an hour and I was done.
    And it beat the hell out of sitting there and reading through all that crap.

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