An Open Letter Regarding NYC's Proposed Changes To Permit Requirements for Photography

Edit4 8/1/2007 - There is a protest in Union square tomorrow 8/2/2007 from 11:30 AM til 2PM. Look here for more info.

Edit3: Followup article here (

Edit2: 7/30/2007 Obviously I cut and paste my rough draft in here (I know I corrected the affect / effect thing before sending the final draft). When I get home I'll replace it with the final draft (there were some other changes in there I want to include).

Edit: 7/30/2007 I have made this sticky for the rest of the week to bring attention to the issue.

Recently, the Mayor's Office of Film and Broadcasting proposed new rules regarding photographers. The proposed rules would require a permit for "activity involving a tripod and a crew of 5 or more people at one site for 10 minutes or more" (the 10 minutes include the time to set up the tripod) or or the same activity among two people at a single site for more than 30 minutes. The permit process also requires the photographer to carry 1 million dollars in liability insurance. Although the city believes that this is rare for "recreational" photographers, most amateurs I know would require a permit a good percentage of the time.


I know this has been floating around for a while. I have intentionally held back on this, knowing that the cutoff for feed back was August 3, 2007. If you know about this and was planning on writing, this is a friendly reminder. If you are new to this, get involved. Write Katherine Oliver, Commissioner, Mayor's Office of Film and Broadcasting here: tell her your personal stories where this will effect you. Here is the letter that I am posting on this subject.

An Open Letter To Katherine Oliver, Commissioner, Mayor's Office of Film and Broadcasting, Regarding The Proposed Changes To Permit Requirements for Photography

Ms. Oliver:

I am writing in reference to the proposed changes to permit requirements for photography on public property. The proposed rules, as I understand them, would require a permit for "activity involving a tripod and a crew of 5 or more people at one site for 10 minutes or more" (the 10 minutes include the time to set up the tripod) or or the same activity among two people at a single site for more than 30 minutes. The permit process also requires the photographer to carry 1 million dollars in liability insurance.

I understand that it is important for the city to draw a line between amateur and professional photographers. I have often been mistaken for a "professional" solely because I use a low-end SLR camera. However this rule does little to make that separation and effects a good number of New Yorkers (as well as tourists). Let me tell you some of the ways this will affect me.

About once or twice a month, myself and a few friends will get together, walk through the Central Park and photograph the sights. We often wind up taking photos of some of the musicians and sporting events that one runs across in the park, sometimes spending up to an hour shooting these spontaneous events.

I am involved with a number of groups through the photography / social networking website flickr ( Often we'll get together to shoot areas and events in the city. Now these informal gatherings will require permits and insurance, something that will probably limit participation.

My family has a tradition. Sometime in the fall, near my mother's birthday, we go out to a city park and take an annual family photo. As the family has grown, this has become more of a production (each of my brother's has a family of his own, the grandchildren all get individual pictures taken, etc). Of course, as I want to be in some of the photos there is a tripod involved.

I understand that none of this is what you intended when this rule was proposed; however the rule as written effects each of these activities. Even if you do not intend to enforce this rule this way, there's no guarantee that future administrations won't enforce it this way. I implore you to take another look at this rule and find a way so that it doesn't affect the amateur photographers.

I will be posting a copy of this letter on my website,

Thank You for Your Time,

Sean P Reiser

8/1/2007 - There is a protest in Union square tomorrow 8/2/2007 from 11:30 AM til 2PM. Look here for more info.

  Posted: Jul 23, 2007

Why I switched to Blackberry.

OK, been using my blackberry for about a week now. Some folks have been asking me questions so I'll answer some of them.

Why are you switching away from the Palm?

To start with understand this is not an easy change for me. I've been a PalmOS user for over a decade. I have an original Pilot 1000 (monochrome, no backlight and a whoppin' 128K of RAM) which I used back in 1996. Since then I've moved with palm through the III, to a 5x,a Visor, a Clie and to 2 Treos (a 600 and a 700p). With the exception of a 6 month period where I used a WindowsCE machine, because a client required it, I have used PalmOS exclusively since 1996 and I really like the simplicity of the device. I have written applications for Palms, and have enjoyed using them.

However, the lack of any real change in PalmOS, and the Treos over the last few years, have driven me to looking elsewhere. I've been bored with the platform. I'm used to buying a new toy every year, the last couple of toys have not been anything exciting. I'm also concerned for the long term health of Palm. The lack of innovation really have me concerned with the future of the platform.

I know Palm has a Linux version of PalmOS in the works and when it's finished out and stable, I'll reevaluate my decision. I just don't want to wait another year or 2 until Palm has released something interesting.

Why not an iPhone?

I've been rather public on my thoughts on the iPhone. But here they are, in writing.

First off, I won't use a version 1.0 product for any mission critical product (my phone is rather important to me and my business). I'm an Apple fanboi but not insane.

Secondly, until the iPhone can replace my iPod, I'm not really interested in it. The Music, Podcasts, and Videos I carry daily can't fit in 8 Gig. If Apple had released one with at least 40Gigs of storage. I would've been more tempted.

On the third hand, I really need to be able to change the battery on my phone. When I travel, I like to carry a spare battery so I can swap them in an emergency. Especially, if the iPhone is also my media player, I can't drain my batteries listening to a podcast and be unable to make a phone.

Fourthly, GSM. I travel domestically often for business and this country still has better CDMA coverage then GSM. Someday that will change, and I'll gladly switch with them.

Lastly, AT&T rivals Verizon as my least favorite cellular provider. My feelings for these companies go back years to when I had to use them for landlines. I don't like giving money to them and avoid it at all costs.

How about a Windows Smartphone?

Most of the Windows Smartphones I've worked with seem to be trying to be a PC in your pocket instead of a "window to your PC". I really buy into the "Zen of Palm" attitude, these devices should do less and do it efficiently, smartphones seem to do a lot more but do it inefficiently.

So, why the Blackberry?

My primary use for a cell phone is as a data device. I receive email, surf the web, and use SMS. I need access to my appointments and contacts. Making phone calls is not as important. I've always been curious how email works on these devices so I thought this was a good excuse to spread my wings and take a look at this.

  Posted: Jul 22, 2007

Swtiching from Palm to Blackbery - Day 1

So, now that Sprint's managed to provision my phone, I've been able to really play with my Blackberry for about a day. Here are my initial reactions.

The 8830 is a sexy unit. It's thinner then my Treo was, remarkably so. I don't need the camera phone so that's not a loss. The keyboard is something I have to get used to. Probably another day or so. The screen is beautiful, nice bright. It washes out a bit in full sunlight, but I can live with that. It feels good in my hand and is a solid little device.

Using the Blackberry OS is an interesting change. I've been using PalmOS based devices for over 10 years now, so I've gotten used to interacting directly with the screen. I find myself touching the screen and looking for the stylus from time to time. I'm sure the trackball will become second nature to me in no time, but for today it's annoying.

I'm still getting the hang of email on the device. Although I get it faster, I'm not sure I like the implementation. Using chattermail on my palm I was able to do more the read and reply to the message. I was sorting into folders, etc to keep the messages in my inbox low. I still haven't found a way to do this on the BB yet (I'm sure it's there, just don't know where).

So, with cautious optimism I head into day 2. Don't know if this will stick. Although I've given away the Palm so if it doesn't it'll be another toy for me.

  Posted: Jul 18, 2007

Wifi on mass transit - Good Thing or the end of the last bastion of serenity?

Engadget is running a story about Hong Kong installing wifi on their mass transit system. I don't want to sound like a luddite here but I'm not sure it's a good thing.

My ride to and from work is the only part of my day where I am truly detached from the world. With Wifi and cell service in the city I am available to folks all day long, from morning til night. I use the time when I commute to reboot the mind and get set for the rest of the day, I'm sure I'm not the only one.

This generation is the first generation that has less personal time then the one before it. Gone are the days of the 40 hour work weeks; 50-60 hours are now the norm. Gone is the idea of a corporation training an employee to advance, if you're not spending your nights preparing for advancement you're not going to advance. Gone are the days of leaving the office behind you on vacation, there have been numerous articles on the topic of people checking their email and voicemail and actually working on their vacations. This is the reason I've become a consultant to be honest, employees are treated like consultants with health benefits.

To me there are 2 places to detach from the world. One is Mass Transit. The other is and airplane (don't get me started on cell service on an airplane... it's another rant). Please don't take them away from me.

  Posted: Jul 17, 2007

Spam, Spam Spam Spam Spam!

Most of my spam gets filtered for me (I've spent a lot of time setting things up so I don't have to see spam). However one got through today and this was at the bottom of it:

Privacy Policy - Terms and Conditions of this Email:
This notice outlines the privacy policies associated with his Email. By clicking any image and/or text link in this Email (excluding the removal link), you are accepting the practices described in this Privacy Policy. As such, you are representing that you have the authority and are authorizing [link removed] and/or any of its business associates to contact you via email, postal mail, or telephonically with information stored in the [link removed] database.
Changes to the Privacy Policy:
We reserve the right to change the terms of this Privacy Policy at any time. We encourage you to check the Privacy Policy in each new email sent to you regularly. Your continued use of our email service following any changes to this Privacy Policy will constitute your acceptance of such changes. This privacy policy was last amended on October 9th, 2006.
Personal Information and IP Address:
Each time you view and/or click any image or text link in a [link removed] sponsored email, our web server automatically recognizes your IP address and contact information. Your IP address is used to help us identify and gather broad demographic information about you. We also use your IP address and contact information to help diagnose problems with our servers, pre-populate [link removed] administered Web Sites, and to better serve you in using the features associated with our email service.
View Complete Policy Here.
Contacting Us About Privacy Questions Or Concerns:
If you have any questions about this Privacy Policy, please email us at [link removed], or by sending a letter to:
Privacy, P.O. Box 425 , Newark, NJ, 07199

note: I have removed links to the website.

Now, I'm not a lawyer but, if I click the link to view the complete policy I'm agreeing to it, right? And by privacy, you mean lack of privacy, right. Maybe it's because I don't see much spam anymore but I'm surprised that they have Terms and Conditions. What's next "By reading this email, you agree to send us 1 Billion Dollars"? Hey, I should try that!

  Posted: Jul 17, 2007

Problems with Sprint - Resolved

OK Mystically, the service book just got pushed to the blackberry. It's up and running, don't know why. I'll call Sprint tomorrow to get them to refund my time without service.

  Posted: Jul 16, 2007

Problems with Sprint, Pt 2 - The Fun Continues

Continuing on from yesterday's post about Friday's issues with Sprint (read for the details). I called Sprint at 3PM today, in defiance of "the threat" to determine why my data plan still wasn't working.

After 20 mins of hold time I got to speak to a support representative. She looked up my ticket, I told her my story, she told me that the network folks did what they needed to get things working and I informed her that the device is still not working.

She has me try and reprovision the device, which fails. She then has me pull the battery while she performs some magic on her side, which is less then successful. Finally she has me wipe the phone's data and start from scratch by setting it to factory defaults (basicly when in doubt, reinstall the OS). This also doesn't work.

She decides that deleting and adding the blackberry data plan might help. This will take 4 hours. She will be calling me in 4 hours to let me know if the errors on her side went away.

Here's the kicker. If this doesn't work, she has informed me that it will be 36 hours to get the problem resolved. As I was fooled once, I asked if she means hours or business hours. She means business hours. When I point that we're talking about another week, she answers that it's 36 hours, not a week. I point out that if the clock started right now, I wouldn't have service until next monday, a full week from now, and she relented. (I'm pretty sure Sprint's estimates are designed to sound like less time then they are ... 14 hours instead of 2 days, 36 hours instead of a week, etc).

I've also been notified that they can't credit my account for the unused time on my blackberry account until we resolve the problem.

  Posted: Jul 16, 2007

Problems with Sprint - a lesson in customer service.

So, I mentioned that I have a new Blackberry. So far I've been unable to use it as anything other then a phone because Sprint has been unable to get the device they sold me provisioned. I hadn't had time to write it up until now, but it's been fun. Let's break down what's happened so far:

On July 5, I ordered it, 2 days after sprint had the phone available. They shipped on the 9th overnight due to problems w/ UPS and I received the phone on the 12th.

On the 12th I called Sprint, asking them to switch my service over to the new Blackberry. As I was moving over from a Palm, I asked if I was required to pick up the so called "blackberry plan". I was assured by the CSR that I didn't need the plan because I already had the Power Vision Plan on my Palm. I was told that in 2 hours I'd have a working phone; the data would work and in 4 hours.

A half hour later, the phone is working fine and dandy. I've synched my data over from my mac, so I have contacts, calendar, todo's and memos moved over. I wait the 3 and a half hours and still no options for browser or email setup. I chat with a twitter friend who's a long time blackberry user. She feel that Sprint needs to push the service books to me....

So, I call Sprint. They indicate that they haven't pushed the service books to me because they didn't add the "blackberry plan" I asked about above. They add the plan, and tell me it's going to be another 4 hours for billing to catch up with provisioning.

Four hours later, still no options for browsing or email and I'm back on the phone with my friends at sprint. After several attempts to provision the phone and several error 1012s, the person tells me that the problem needs to be elevated to the network folks and it will be resolved in 12-15 hours (odd, estimate, I know). I say "so, it should work, in the Morning"; he says, yes.

Friday Morning, still nothing. I try provisioning again, no success. I call Sprint mid-morning. I am informed that 12-15 hours means 12-15 business hours. Which started at 9AM that morning. Things won't be resolved until late monday at the earliest. Now, here's the punchline I ask when I should call again if it's not working. The young lady on the other end of the phone tells me that they will call me if there are anymore problems. I ask again, when I should expect things working and she tells me Monday Night. I say if I still have issues than I'll call Tuesday Morning. She tells me, "I wouldn't do that you know we just let a bunch of customers go who call too often, wouldn't want to see that happen to you.". Yes, I was threatened. She couldn't get a manager for me to chat with, and unfortunately, my work responsibilities stopped me from pursuing it further. I'm letting it sit until monday. If things aren't working tomorrow, I'm going to really cut into some people.

  Posted: Jul 15, 2007

New Toy

Just received my Sprint Blackberry 8830 from UPS; it's charging now. I'll be doing a short product review along with the reason I'm not buying an iPhone in the next couple of days.

In the mean time... can anyone recommend 3rd party applications for the BB that I might find interesting.

  Posted: Jul 12, 2007