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12 May, 2003

The RIAA Apologizes With a T-Shirt

From CNET: RIAA apologizes for threatening letter.

The Recording Industry Association of America apologized Monday to Penn State University for sending an incorrect legal notice of alleged Internet copyright violations.

Last Thursday, the RIAA sent a stiff copyright warning to Penn State's department of astronomy and astrophysics. Department officials at first were puzzled, because the notification invoked the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and alleged that one of its FTP sites was unlawfully distributing songs by the musician Usher. The letter demanded that the department "remove the site" and delete the infringing sound files.

As it turns out, a professor named Peter Usher had a copy of song performed by a bunch of science geeks. The combination of "usher" and "mp3" is what triggered the letter.

So let that be a lesson. The RIAA has robots crawling through cyberspace. You could be the next to receive a letter from these idiots.

Here's the best part:

By way of additional apology, the RIAA said it will send Peter Usher an Usher CD and T-shirt "in appreciation of his understanding."

Posted on 12 May, 2003

The Twins Realm

A site for human twins (clones need not apply). Probably the most interesting part is the photo gallery.

Posted on 12 May, 2003

The Internet Outhouse is a Hoax

Last week I mentioned that Microsoft developed an Internet-ready outhouse (the iLoo). Well, as it turns out, it was a hoax.

"This iLoo release came out of the U.K. office and was not a Microsoft-sanctioned communication, and we apologize for any confusion or offense it may have caused," Microsoft spokeswoman Bridgitt Arnold said late last night. The fake release generated coverage by The Wall Street Journal, The Associated Press and Reuters.

I certainly have nothing against a good hoax -- in fact, I'm rather fond of them. But a company that already has serious credibility problems should probably limit their hoaxes to April Fools Day.

Maybe the world will get lucky, and Microsoft will admit that the Next-Generation Secure Computing Base (AKA, Palladium) was also a hoax.

Posted on 12 May, 2003

Build a New Animal

At the Switcheroo Zoo, you can create a new species by combining body parts of multiple animals. Like this:

(via Wastrel Division)

Posted on 12 May, 2003

An Essay on Tipping

Brian D. Rossman talks about tipping and the ubiquitous tip jar.

Is the cost of living so bad here in Silicon Valley that working stiffs are reduced to begging for money? The beggar industry is everywhere. I see it in restaurants, nightclubs, ice cream stores, coffee shops, beauty salons, gas stations and many other locations.

(via Metafilter)

Posted on 12 May, 2003

Colored Currency is Coming

According to CNN:

The $20 bill got a facelift Tuesday, complete with new colors, a new number arrangement, and a new background, in the government's latest effort to thwart counterfeiters.

The Treasury Department's Bureau of Engraving and Printing introduced the new design, featuring Andrew Jackson on the front -- without the old circle -- and a background with subtle green, "peach" and light blue hues.

The new money is expected to be in consumer's hands by October -- just in time for Christmas shopping.

Posted on 12 May, 2003

The Recipe For a Money-Making Film

According to this article, someone named Sue Clayton analyzed the top-grossing films for the past ten years, and arrived at a formula for the "perfect film."

  • 30% action
  • 17% comedy
  • 13% good vs. evil
  • 12% love/sex/romance
  • 10% special effects
  • 10% plot
  • 8% music

The film that most closely matched this theoretical recipe? Disney/Pixar's Toy Story 2.

I think the music industry has been using this type of "formula" approach for years. How else can you explain the sorry state of popular music in the past few decades?

(via Slashdot)

Posted on 12 May, 2003

Tell Bart What to Write on the Blackboard

Enter some text, and Bart Simpson writes it on the blackboard.

Posted on 12 May, 2003

Democracy Means You

Democracy Means You is an organization that...

...exists to encourage you involved in YOUR government. We believe that most of the problems in the world can be changed with more citizen involvement, especially by involvement in this country, which affects so much of the world. Our goal is to get you and us and them and everyone to TAKE ACTION wherever you think changes need to be made. That, and to have an opportunity to poke a little fun at the Right wing from time to time.

With emphasis on the "poke a little fun" part. The site is divided into two parts: Satire and Serious. I haven't checked out the Serious part.

Posted on 12 May, 2003

The Film Library From AdEaters

This service from AdEaters is pretty amazing.

Jean-Marie Boursicot's Film Library provides a huge database of more than 550 000 commercials. This film library is a genuine global memory of commercials coming from worldwide agencies. Browse our online database and watch your favorite commercials in Real Video or Mpeg format... all for free!

Posted on 12 May, 2003

Beauty Check

Beauty Check is an interesting site that deals with human faces. Specifically, it contains findings from a German research study on facial attractiveness.

For example, the two faces shown here are "average" faces, generated from a sample of faces.

Also interesting is the section called Virtual Miss Germany. They created a morphed face from the Miss Germany pageant contestants. This "virtual" face was deemed to be much more attractive than any of the others.

Posted on 12 May, 2003

Roadside America

This site is billed as your online guide to offbeat tourist attractions. I did a search for off-beat attractions in San Diego. It found 14 of them, including:

  • 10-ft. long Sperm Whale penis
  • The Freak Farm
  • A Life-Size Waffle Man
  • Muffler Woman
  • The Top Gun Bar

Of all of these, the Freak Farm is most intriguing. Unfortunately, it's now closed due to "too much upkeep on the freaks".

Posted on 12 May, 2003

Introducing the 18-Cent Coin?

According to Science News, Jeffrey Shallit conducted some research about change.

In finding coin denominations that minimize the average cost of making change, Shallit assumed that every amount of change between 0 and 99 cents is equally likely. For the current four-denomination system, he found that, on average, a change-maker must return 4.70 coins with every transaction.

He discovered two sets of four denominations that minimize the transaction cost. The combination of 1 cent, 5 cents, 18 cents, and 25 cents requires only 3.89 coins in change per transaction, as does the combination of 1 cent, 5 cents, 18 cents, and 29 cents.

Shallit concludes:

"We could speed up customer service just by replacing the dime with an 18-cent piece."

I'm down with that idea. I never really cared much for dimes anyway.

Posted on 12 May, 2003