Friday, March 7, 2008

Why 'pirating' movies is not morally wrong; a change is paradigm is needed.


A car company, CarCo, buys $30,000 worth the parts, to produce 10 cars. The labor to produce these 10 cars costs CarCo $50,000. So, 10 cars cost CarCo $80,000. In order to pay for facilities, research, advertising, and such, CarCo, marks up the amount they charge for these cars by 75%. Now we are at $140,000 for 10 cars, which is $14,000 for that brand new car you want to buy. In order for CarCo to produce another 10 cars, it will cost them another $80,000, and they will mark it up and will still charge you $14,000.


A movie studio, MovStu, buys $20,000,000 worth the props and equipment to produce a new movie. The labor (actors, crews, producers and such) costs $45,000,000. So, 1 movie costs MovStu $65,000,000.  If this new movie is an average movie, MovStu will make about $75,000,000 from box office sales. Now, MovStu still wants to make money, so they produce some DVD's.

For simplicity's sake (and to make the movie studios look a little bit better), we'll ignore the $75,000,000 the studio made from the theaters and start back at zer0. So, the movie cost $65,000,000 to produce. Each boxed DVD costs $1.00 (which is high) to produce. So, 25,000,000 DVDs will cost MovStu about $90,000,000. In order to pay for facilities, research, advertising, and such, MovStu, *should* mark up the amount they charge for these DVD's by 75%. Now we are at 157,500,000 for 25,000,000 DVDs, which is $6.30 for that brand new DVD. So they sell a new DVD for $20, big deal, right?

That would be okay, because it's not TOO absolutely outrageous that they would mark it up an extra 300%. But don't forget the fact that they already made their $65,000,000 back in the Box Office, so, they really don't have the $65,000,000 expense. If you take that away, the marked up price of a DVD is more like $1.75 a piece, which means that they are really marking it up a total of 2,000% (and no, that's not a typo).

Anyway, now MovStu is upset because people are copying and and distributing their 2,000% marked up DVD's for free. So, they get together with other movie studios and decide that this is 'copyright infringement' and they start going after 'pirates'.

Joe Scientist

Meanwhile, Joe Scientist has been working hard on his research project and is finally done. It is revolutionary and will help the common man as much as it will help anyone else. He publishes his work in magazines and websites across the world. People read it and realize that they need to share the information with their friends and neighbors. They print off copies (with appropriate attribution of course) and hand them out to their friends.

Johnny Poet

Meanwhile, Johnny Poet writes the best poem man has ever read. He decides that to make money, he will sell the poem in print, which will be beautifully matted and framed. George buys the poem and hangs it on his wall. He is so inspired that he types up the poem and posts it on his blog with a link to Johnny's online store. Some of George's friends read the poem, and they love it. One or two of them go to Johnny's store. Others print it out on paper and frame it themselves and put it on their walls.


Would Joe or Johnny prosecute those individuals who copied their work for copyright infringement? Of course not. It costs nothing to Joe or Johnny.

Would CarCo prosecute someone who stole one of their cars? Of course they would. Each car that got stolen would cost them $8,000. But they wouldn't care if Freddy Mechanic liked the design and made his buddy one from scratch (he's a REALLY good mechanic).

Should MovStu prosecute people who "steal" DVD's. Of course not. I mean, if they actually steal a physical DVD, then yes, they should. But that isn't the problem. People are stealing digital copies which costs MovieStu (who is charging extortionate prices) absolutely nothing. They already made their expenses back in the theaters. They will still make plenty of money on DVD's (if they don't charge so fricken much), because people like to have an original. DVDs are worth the box and the pretty image on the top of the disc itself. Nothing more. The data on the DVDs is worthless.

Why is data worthless?

Data is worthless, because after the initial cost of production, it costs nothing to replicate. Take CarCo. While the initial cost of research and design may have been in the hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars, each car produced thereafter costs them a fixed rate of $8,000. Same for the movie. While MovieStu spent $65,000,000 on that first digital copy, each subsequent copy will cost a fixed rate of exactly $0. Nada. Nil. Nothing. Electrons are free. You cannot steal electrons.

So, in conclusion, while "pirating" movies/music/anything else it definitely illegal (whether or not it should be is a different story), it is also definitely not immoral. You are robbing no one of hard work. The simple truth is this: the entertainment industry's paradigm needs to change.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Latitude and Longitude Distance Calculations

A few days ago for one of my projects, I got the wonderful task of determining a distance in terms of latitudinal/longitudinal degrees. This actually turns out to be a quite simple task, however it took some searching and some calculations for me to actually figure this out. So, to save me (and possibly someone else) some time in the future, I'll list some basic latitudinal/longitudinal distance facts here.

  • The distance between two adjacent degrees of latitude is 69.172 miles.
    • So, the distance between two points of latitude is:
      • x = abs(lat1 - lat2) / 69.172
  • The distance between to adjacent degrees of longitude is: cos(latitude) * 69.172
    • So, the distance between two points of longitude is:
      • y = abs(lng1 - lng2) / (cos(latitude) & 69.172)
  • The distance between the two global coordinates (lat1, lng1) and (lat2, lng2) is:
    • Separated method:
      • x = abs(lat1 - lat2) / 69.172
      • y = abs(lng1 - lng2) / (cos((lat1 + lat2) / 2) * 69.172)
      • dist = sqrt(x * x + y * y)
    • One line:
      • dist = sqrt(pow(abs(lat1 - lat2) / 69.172, 2) + pow( abs(lng1 - lng2) / (cos((lat1 + lat2) / 2) * 69.172), 2))
  • A point, p, that is x miles from point (lat1, lng1) (or a point on a circle with a radius of x miles and a center of (lat1, lng1) can be calculated as follows:
    • p(latitude, longitude) = (lat1 + x / 69.172, lng1)

Friday, December 28, 2007

Text Messaging via Email

I just figured out that you can send a text message to someone by sending an email to a special address provided by the carrier.

Here are a list of email address you can use to send text messages. Be sure to replace the '9999999999' with the recipient's phone number (ie.

Sprint -
T-Mobile -
Verizon -
Cingular -
Nextel -
AT&T -
AllTel -

Monday, November 5, 2007


When I started making I had no idea what I was getting into. On Tuesday (11/6) in Utah there is a statewide vote basically on whether or not Utah should have school vouchers (it's actually a little more complicated, but that's the basic idea). This is a HUGE deal. People from all over the country are watching this issue, because it could set a major precedent. There is massive opposition to the voucher movement, most of it brought on by huge leftist organizations. One major argument for the opposition is that the $3000 vouchers don't even begin to cover the expenses of private schools and therefore will only help those people who are wealthy enough to afford private schools in the first place. Enter The reason this site was rushed to go public (I would have loved to have spent a few more weeks working out a few bugs and making it way more stable and faster) is that it will play a major roll in the election, because it absolutely and utterly destroys that myth. There are 19 schools (if I remember right) in the state of Utah that will be FREE with a $3000 voucher. Anyway, Fox 13 in Salt Lake did a piece on this site Saturday and a few newspapers mentioned it in articles. On Friday, the following press release was sent to all (or at least most) the media in Utah:


November 2, 2007

Launch of -
Automatic voucher scenarios for any private school

Utah – A powerful new website launched today providing parents throughout the state with school pricing and mapping features that allow parents to comparison shop any private schools in their neighborhood. Automatic calculations of voucher scenarios for any family at any school are a key feature of the site. With a single click at, users can also sort schools by price, city, name, school size, classroom size and 15 other variables. Sliders allow narrowing searches to match parental preferences, including price range.

The site is the independent creation of Daniel Earley, a Lehi businessman who serves on the board of directors of Children First Utah and occasionally volunteers for Parents for Choice in Education.

"I first realized the public needed something like this a few years ago," said Earley. "At Children First Utah we were providing half-tuition 'vouchers' for disadvantaged kids to attend private school, but low-income parents rarely knew how many affordable private options they really had. This website makes it easy to compare them all side by side, see how close you live to them, and even see what size voucher you would qualify for, and how much it would reduce your tuition."

Earley began working on the website a few months ago when Referendum 1 first became an issue. "People need to be able to compare and see for themselves, with nobody manipulating the results. Once they see what's out there, the truth is undeniable."

According to the website, Utah offers over 115 private school options, not including residential treatment centers or boarding schools. Nearly 2/3 of these options would cost $1970 or less with a full voucher and almost half would cost under $950. Of those, about 20 school options end up costing nothing.

"To lump all schools together for a tuition average is meaningless to the real parent," said Earley. "I made the distinction between 'private schools' and 'private school options' because that's how parents actually shop for their kids in the real world. A school that offers K-12 might be a single non-profit entity, but from the perspective of a parent with multiple children, it's at least an elementary school and a high school, perhaps even a middle school. Besides, schools often set prices according to those categories, and some even have seperate administrators and buildings for each grade cluster. Because the bottom line is how the parent sees it while shopping, I organized the website from that perspective."

Designed to grow into a national "consumer reports" of private schools, the site has begun collecting data on classroom size, school size, teacher hiring priorities, admissions priorities, accreditation, testing, uniform policies and 15 other aspects of private schools for parents to compare. Data is displayed on the website under the categories Affordabililty, Academics, Culture and Availability.

"Think of it as the of private school shopping, combined with Consumer Reports," said Earley. "It's currently in beta while we work out bugs and fill in gaps over the upcoming weeks. Over the next two years it will cover every private school in all 50 states."

To test drive the site visit . (Site may not yet be viewable to Mac users.)

Friday, November 2, 2007

Work, work, work

So a couple of months ago I got an opportunity to show off my mad programming skillz to the world when a guy a co-worker of mine knows contracted me to build a website for him (that was a hell of a sentence). Anyway, about an hour ago I pushed a live beta (Utah only) version to the world ( after a week of very intense work. Monday and Tuesday alone I worked 27 hours; but hey, more money for me, right? That's especially good since we are moving in a week and a few days. I figure this project will last at least a few more months, and once it is complete, I will have an excellent specimen to add to my portfolio, allowing me to snag more work in the future.

So right now I also have a job with a company named Empire West. They are a plastics company, and they make some rather neat ceiling tiles. But anyway, while my bills are paid by Empire West, I don't actually work on any Empire West projects. You see, the owners of Empire West and a company called Pavement Engineering Inc (PEI) are good friends, and they often trade resources. I am one of the resources they trade. So all the work I do is actually for PEI. Well, I told my boss (Sam) this past Monday that I am going to move to Texas. Conversation proceeded and I am going to be a consultant for PEI from my house in Texas (for more money than I am making now). Yeah, I know, I am awesome.

Good things about Utah

As I promised, here are the good things about Utah.
  • Fast, Cheap Internet. We have a 15Mb fiber optic internet connection for $40 a month. It's awesome.
That's it. End of story.