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8 January, 2003

Thomas Edison's Greatest Hits

Go here, and you can hear all of your favorites, including Edison's recitation of Mary Had a Little Lamb -- the world's first audio recording, made in 1877.

Actually, I'm kind of surprised that the RIAA hasn't tried to shut this site down.

Posted on 8 January, 2003

Windows Media Player 9: Final Version

The long-awaited Windows Media Player Series 9 has been unleashed upon the world.

As expected, this product cannot be uninstalled unless you resort to doing a system restore. So once you install it, it's there for good. One would think that Microsoft, with its near limitless resources, would be able to write software that could be uninstalled. Sure they can. But there's something else going on here.

I've been monitoring the public newsgroups, and it seems that many of the problems that were present in the beta versions still exist in the final version.

WMP9 has lots of bells and whistles that will appeal to novice computer users who are impressed by a glitzy interface. It also has lots of new DRM (Digital Restrictions Rights Management) features designed to make the big media companies feel good about developing media for Windows.

Here's a link that describes how the WMP9 DRM works. Particularly interesting are the sections on:

I haven't tried WMP9, and I have no immediate plans to install it. But even if I do find the need to install it, I will never purchase any media that is protected by DRM. If this is the future of digital media, I want no part of it.

Anyone who purchases DRM-crippled media needs to know what they are in for. In particular, there is absolutely no guarantee that the media you purchase will be playable in the future.

If you're tempted to download WMP9, first ask yourself a few questions:

  Q. Why was this product developed, and why is Microsoft giving it away for free?
  A.
To benefit their customers.

  Q. Who are Microsoft's customers?
  A.
The media companies.

Posted on 8 January, 2003

That's One Ugly Blog!

Chris Pirillo's blog has a radical new design. Chris, as you may know, is the Lockergnome guy.  Robert Scoble really likes the new design, but he says that Brian McBride thinks it's amateurish.

Now, I'm certainly no graphic artist, but I agree with Brian. The font choice is terrible, and is very difficult to read. When I see a notebook paper background image, I expect the text to fall within the lines. It doesn't. Even worse, that oversized font can't even be resized. Usually, my font-related complaints center around tiny fonts that can't be enlarged. But this time, it's just the opposite.

Oh, and can the vertical scrollbar be any less visible?

Posted on 8 January, 2003

The Equation for Happiness

Mechanical methods to bring about happiness are outdated. As it turns out, happiness can be expressed as a simple equation:

Happiness = A + 5I + 3L - 6P

Full story here

Posted on 8 January, 2003

The Shredder

The Shredder takes a URL, and shred its contents. Randomness is involved, so you'll get different results each time you shred a site.

Examples:

Posted on 8 January, 2003

The Secret Lives of Numbers

This Java applet looks at the integers between 0 and 100,000, and displays the "associations" for each one. For example, the number 747 is associated with Boeing, and 101 is associated with Dalmatians.

The data was obtained from an unnamed "popular search engine," and you can choose from three time periods. It's an interesting concept, but the user interface is a bit wacky. And, of course, you'll get much more information simply by searching Google for a particular number.

Posted on 8 January, 2003

UFOs and US Presidents

The Presidents UFO Web Site:

In the pages of this Web site you will hopefully be led on a journey that will show you the entire known history of how the most powerful man in the world has dealt with the most highly classified secret of the last century. In short, this is the story of how the President and the White House have dealt with the mystery of UFOs.

Unlike Jimmy Carter, it seems that George W. doesn't even want to discuss the topic.

Posted on 8 January, 2003

Invention Facts and Myths

The Great Idea Finder site has lots of interesting information about inventors and inventions. For example...

  • An 11-year old boy invented the Popsicle, and marketed it 18 years later.
  • Despite what he said in a CNN interview, Al Gore did not invent the Internet.
  • 1920 was a great year for inventions: the Band-Aid, the hair dryer, and the traffic light.
  • The first TV remote control, called "Lazy Bones," was developed in 1950. It was connected to the set with a cable. It took five more years to create a wireless version.

Posted on 8 January, 2003