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Recently I bought a wire to connect my mobile phone to my computer. While the manufacturer of the phone wanted me to pay about £50 for the wire, some chap on eBay was selling the same thing for (as it turned out) about £10, resulting in a small but splendid victory for capitalism. However, my purchase created a small moral dilemma. I turn to you, my half-dozen readers, for suggestions as to how I should respond. (This will also serve as a test of my flakey new comments system.)
The wire was advertised as coming with a CD of software which allowed you to transfer data to and from your phone, and also contained some free ring tones and god knows what other junk. Since I don't use Microsoft Windows (can't you just feel the moral righteousness...) I couldn't have cared less what was on the CD, but when the seller posted me my wire and CD, I was slightly surprised to discover that it was not, as implied (but not explicitly stated) an official CD issued by the phone's manufacturer, but instead a (boo!) copy of (presumably) the same on a recordable CD. Now, at this point I should, as always, point out that copyright infringement is Bad and Wrong and very definitely Not To Be Encouraged. Anyway....
On eBay, you're encouraged to leave comments and ratings about buyers and sellers, which are intended to allow traders to judge whether they can trust a particular seller (or customer). Sellers typically encourage their customers to leave positive feedback, for obvious reasons, and if you've had good service it's polite to do so. (I often forget, but that's only tangentially relevant.)
So what do I do now? The seller posted me my wire promptly, and it works fine. I couldn't give a toss about the CD, because it's of no use to me except as a drinks coaster (and, as anyone who's visited my home will know, my furniture generally already has a protective covering of abandoned paperwork, so coasters aren't a lot of use to me either). But it's the sort of thing that other buyers might be worried about, and technically the seller is doing something illegal (though distributing infringing copies of the software -- since it is only of use to people who already have a particular type of mobile phone -- won't have any economic impact whatever on the manufacturer). Should I,
(This is probably of interest to Cambridge people only.) I've written a little program that generates an RSS feed of the films showing at the Arts Picture House, Cambridge's only halfway decent public cinema. If you use an RSS reader, you might find this useful.
I've ranted about the deficiencies of RSS as a format before, so I won't repeat my complaints now. But I'm not really sure what the most useful way to present this information in RSS is. At the moment the feed shows information about any films which are showing in the next 24 hours and for which tickets are available, which means that the RSS feed is the answer to the question `what can I go and see at the cinema this evening?' or something like it. Each film is represented by a single `item' which is marked up with a date corresponding to when the film is first shown (that is, all the items are in the future -- if this breaks common RSS readers, I'd love to know, since I wrote my own and am too lazy to test anyone else's), so that the films appear in the right order.
Anyway, I hope that this finds some use. Comments (especially simple suggestions for how to make the thing more useful) welcome (and thanks to Francis for already finding a bug in my comments program). You can also download the current version of the scraping program, artspicturehouserss, if you want to modify or improve it yourself.
This is all done with wwwitter.
Copyright (c) Chris Lightfoot; available under a Creative Commons License. Comments, if any, copyright (c) contributors and available under the same license.
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