Designers Please Boycott Texas Instruments

I’m boycotting Texas Instruments for all new designs I create until they pull their heads out of their butts and apologize to their customers for their stupid anti-consumer actions. Linear Technology, National Semiconductor and ON Semiconductor are now my preferred analog and power chip suppliers and I’ll go with Microchip, Zilog, Intel and Freescale Semiconductor for my microcontroller needs. I strongly encourage all other electronic designers to join me in boycotting TI products until they wake up and treat their customers fairly.

Briefly, TI has sent DMCA takedown notices to TI calculator owners who posted the keys needed to change the OS on certain calculators. This is almost certainly legally wrong since the DMCA has been ruled by the courts to not apply in a similar situation (Lexmark v. Static Controls). While TI has a lame excuse about keeping the calculators trustworthy it is ridiculous because they used weak fairly easily breakable encryption. If TI truly feels they need to keep users locked out, they need to make an effort and use a real lock not a toy lock. Whatever they want to accomplish, legal threats against their customers is not the right thing to do.

Read more about this at the EFF.

Mandatory Flu Shots in Massachusetts, Well Not Exactly

Phil Plait from Bad Astronomy had a post the other day about the idea of mandatory flu vaccinations in Massachusetts. Since I live in MA I was puzzled that I hadn’t heard about this before so I read the linked article. The first thing I noticed was that this wasn’t about normal policies, it’s about amendments to the laws regarding actions during a state of emergency. I went to comment about it and saw that a bunch of people had already set the record straight in the comments.

Basically if there is a pandemic flu outbreak and lots of MA citizens are getting sick and dying then the Governor could declare a state of emergency and the laws go in to effect. At that point citizens will have to either get the flu shot or stay home so that they can’t infect and potentially kill others. The laws have been around since the 1950’s and what the legislature is doing is updating them for modern circumstances.

Then I saw a comment from Joshua saying he had posted about this at Boston, it’s a great read that I highly recommend for those concerned about this topic. An important point from Joshua’s post is that in addition to the updating it clarifies the policies and in the process actually lessens the possibility of abuse of these powers versus the existing statutes.

Searching around for more information I stumbled upon this post at with this scary information.

Also in the bill is a line about “involuntary transportation” to a healthcare facility.

Checking the bloggers source link took me to an article at WorldNetDaily with a similar scary part.

In addition, citizens may be subject to “involuntary transportation.”

Knowing how often WingNutDaily misleads by quote mining and since both items used scare quotes I took a look to see what the bill really says. Here’s the section that talks about involuntary transportation in the proposed amendment (emphasis mine):

SECTION 12.  Section 94A of said chapter 111, as so appearing, is hereby amended by striking out subsection (d) and inserting in place thereof the following subsection:-

(d) Law enforcement authorities, upon order of the commissioner or his agent or at the request of a local public health authority pursuant to such order, shall assist emergency medical technicians or other appropriate medical personnel in the involuntary transportation of such person to the tuberculosis treatment center. No law enforcement authority or medical personnel shall be held criminally or civilly liable as a result of an act or omission carried out in good faith in reliance on said order.

That seemed odd, why would you take flu carriers to a tuberculosis treatment center. The answer is easy, it has absolutely nothing to do with flu pandemics. Section 94A of chapter 111 is about what to do with citizens with active tuberculosis who are unwilling to accept proper medical treatment and are a serious danger to the public health. Here’s the original section 94A subsection d:

(d) The commissioner or his agent may call on the police department of the city or town whose board of health certified such person, or the police department of the place where such person is present, to provide the transportation to the tuberculosis treatment center.

The way the old law is worded the police could be required to transport everyone even those who are willing to comply and there was no requirement for medical personnel used in the transportation. The revised version makes it clear that the police will only be involved when the person refuses to comply and it requires EMTs be involved. While the original version would have been appropriate back in the 50’s and 60’s when every town didn’t have EMTs with ambulances, in the 21st century the new version is safer and removes an unneeded burden on the police. The only other thing it changes is it gives explicit protection to EMTs and police from criminal and civil penalties from performing the action. This also seems very reasonable to me as cops and EMTs should not be hauled into court for following orders from legal authorities. If the citizen infected with active tuberculosis wants to sue someone it should be the state/local health authorities not the guys and gals following their orders.

As is so often the case the wing nuts at WorldNetDaily have quote mined the information to give thoroughly misleading information to their readers. The wing nut at Examiner probably didn’t do any original quote mining instead he just blindly parrots what WingNutDaily says to misinform his readers as well. Of course I’m being too polite to the wing nuts what they are doing is intentionally lying to motivate their readers who they know will never check anything they say for accuracy.

State Senator Richard Moore has more on this topic in a post at WBUR’s web site.

FCC issues formal smack down of a multiyear email hoax

Released September 17, 2009:

For several years there has been a rumor circulating, mostly by e-mail, that a nationwide directory of cell phone numbers will be made available to telemarketers, and that consumers will start receiving telemarketing calls on their cell phones.

There is no truth to this rumor. Cell phone numbers are not being released to telemarketers, and you will not soon be getting telemarketing calls on your cell phone. FCC rules prohibit the use of autodialers and prerecorded messages to call cell phones without the consumer’s consent. Thus, most telemarketers are barred from contacting consumers on their cell phones.

The e-mail spreading the rumor often suggests that consumers put their cell phone numbers on the National Do-Not-Call Registry by going on-line at or by calling 1- 888-382-1222. This is the correct contact information for the National Do-Not-Call Registry. Consumers may register their cell phone numbers as an extra protection against unwanted telemarketing calls, although most telemarketing calls to cell phones would be illegal regardless of whether the number is listed on the Do-Not-Call Registry.

Original FCC message is here.

Catholic League Announces Plan for Large Scale Copyright Infringement

The announcement is here:

We are now getting copies made for a mass mailing later this week. We will send a copy of this episode to 414 bishops, and to hundreds of influential Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, Orthodox Christian, Muslim and Mormon religious leaders across the United States. We will also send a copy to hundreds of activists and members of the media.

Not only are they promising to break the law in their statement, they are already violating the law by posting the Penn & Teller video here. This blatant disregard for copyright law from a religious organization is despicable. With the enormous wealth of their organization and church they should obey the law and buy the right to distribute the video.

I support copyright law, I believe it currently lasts too long hurting the public domain but, it is important that creators have control over their creative works. Large scale piracy always makes me mad and when an organized group such as the Catholic League publicly announces their intention to violate copyright law I hope that they are prosecuted. Of course I doubt Showtime or their parent company CBS will file an infringement suit. The negative publicity is probably not worth it and, after all it is their intellectual property and only they can decide how to handle the situation.

If the Catholic Church wants to show they have some morals left, they will immediately make a public announcement condemning this action by the Catholic League. I won’t hold my breath for it. While I am incredibly tolerant of religious beliefs, as Roger Williams taught, over the past few decades the actions of Catholics and particularly their leadership has forced me to believe that the Catholic Church is no longer an institution worthy of any respect or tolerance. If they really cared about people they would have insisted that Cardinal Bernard Law be put on trial for his alleged actions in helping hush up so much child sexual abuse. Instead they sent him to the Vatican where he is protected from the legal consequences of his past actions.

Hat tip to the Friendly Atheist for pointing me towards this story via the J-Walk Blog.