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28 July, 2003

Tim O'Reilly on DRM

From a recent interview with Tim O'Reilly. He talks about the entertainment industry's current fascination with Digital Rights Management.

In the end, I think that DRM is a non-starter, at least as currently conceived. It's baffling to me that the content industries don't look at the experience of the software industry in the 80's, when copy protection on software was widely tried, and just as widely rejected by consumers.

As science fiction writer William Gibson said, "The future is here. It's just not evenly distributed yet." The software industry was the first to face the issue that bits are easily copyable. It was also the first to try to create artificial boundaries to that copying. But because copy protection greatly inconvenienced customers, it slowed the adoption of any software that used it. We're seeing exactly the same thing now with music, where copy protection schemes have caused consumers to reject the crippled offerings of the commercial online music services.

Posted on 28 July, 2003

Robotic Bar

Cynthia's, a bar and restaurant in London, has a unique twist:

Cynthia's is the world's first robotic bar and restaurant where robots actually mix and serve cocktails right in front of you. The futuristic bar is reminiscent of something you would see in a science fiction movie and was voted one of London's top interiors in Time Out Pubs and Bars Guide.

Posted on 28 July, 2003

TV Show Theme Song Lyrics

Lyrics to the theme songs of dozens of TV shows. Don't blame me if you find yourself singing the "Gilligan's Island" song all day.

Posted on 28 July, 2003

Goodbye Hilary, Hello Mitch

From Wired: RIAA Picks a New Chief.

The recording industry has turned to a well-connected Republican to lead it through the upcoming legal fights it has picked with consumers. On Sept. 1, Mitch Bainwol, former chief of staff to Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.), will replace Hilary Rosen as chairman and CEO of the Recording Industry Association of America, it was announced Monday.

So welcome, Mitch, to one of the most hated organizations in America. Your best course of action is to throw some big bucks at the politicians and buy some new laws.

"Hilary Rosen had close ties to the Democratic Party, but that turns out to be not so useful now," he said. "If we get a new law relating to digital copyright, it will come through Republican-dominated committees."

In related news: RIAA will take 2,191.78 years to sue everyone

Posted on 28 July, 2003

Driving While Eating

Here's a list of the 10 most dangerous foods to eat while driving.

Eating while you drive is one of the most distracting things you can do, according to several recent surveys by insurance companies and data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

The most dangerous item is coffee. This is followed by hot soup, tacos, and chili.

Posted on 28 July, 2003

Mars Watch

Keep an eye on Mars at space.com.

On Aug. 27, 2003, Mars will be less than 34.65 million miles (55.76 million kilometers) away -- closer to our planet than it's been in nearly 60,000 years. The view will be stupendous. Track Mars' growing brightness with SPACE.com's exclusive Mars viewing maps and charts.

(Thanks John Wilson)

Posted on 28 July, 2003

Tour Alaskan Cities on a Segway

From Anchorage Daily News: Take in Alaska cities from a scooter

Tourists love Alaska for its grizzly bears, glaciers, mountain peaks and other natural wonders that can only be imagined back home in places like Ohio or New Jersey. Now a tour company, Alaska Travel Adventures, aims to toss a high-tech electric scooter into the mix.

The Segway tours will be done in small groups, each with a guide. Tour participants will wear helmets for protection. Each helmet will have a built-in two-way radio to let the guide provide commentary.

I've always wanted to visit Alaska, but going on a tour with a group of people on Segways is about the last thing I'd want to do there.

Posted on 28 July, 2003

The Amazing Formula

Here's another example of marketing hype that appeals only to morons: Discover the amazing formula that sells products like crazy! You have to dig pretty deep to find out what he's actually selling. I think it's a CD-ROM, and he wants $69.00 for it.

Marlon Sanders starts by talking about what he obviously knows best -- hype:

On the Internet, it's tough to know who to believe. There are so many people making ridiculous claims, it's insane. It's like day after day, you get hit with hype pitch after hype pitch. In a moment, I'll tell you specifically what I can do for you.

This site follows all of the standard rules. For example:

In a second, I'm going to explain my crazy formula. But first, read these...

And he shares over 100 pages of testimonials. And he anticipates the fact that some people might be skeptical:

People sometimes ask me: "Marlon, aren't those testimonials just made up?" Nope. Why make 'em up when I get 2-4 new ones every day? I've got another 100 pages I haven't published. Besides that, in the USA making up testimonials is fraud and you go to jail for it!

Yeah right, Marlon.

And it goes on and on and on, ad nauseum. You'll find the "triple your money back" guarantee, and there's also an "if you order by midnight" bonus -- actually eight incredible bonuses.

Keep reading, and he eventually signs off, followed by the obligatory "click here only if you've decided NOT to order." But he's not done yet. There's "one final extra" that will surely clinch the deal.

His legal disclosures are good for a laugh. Especially this line:


The Web is just filled with this type of crap. Sometimes I'm ashamed to be a member of the human species.

Posted on 28 July, 2003

Today's Stock Market Report

OK, so this is very old. But I hadn't seen it until yesterday.

Helium was up, feathers were down. Paper was stationary. Fluorescent tubing was dimmed in light trading. Knives were up sharply. Cows steered into a bull market. Pencils lost a few points. Hiking equipment was trailing. Elevators rose, while escalators continued a slow decline. Weights were up in heavy trading. Light switches were off. Mining equipment hit rock bottom. Diapers remain unchanged. Shipping lines stayed at an even keel. The market for raisins dried up. Coca Cola fizzled. Caterpillar stock inched up a bit. Balloon prices were inflated. Scott Tissue touched a new bottom. And batteries exploded attempting to recharge the market.

(Thanks Jondo)

Posted on 28 July, 2003

Assembling Images

PanaVue makes ImageAssembler software.

Whether you want to stitch a panorama shot with your digital or film camera for professional high resolution printing (hundreds of megabytes) or lower resolution output for web publishing through a Virtual Reality viewer, make a montage out of a series of scanned images to rebuild the original one, or use it for specialized photo montage - aerial/satellite/microscope/medical- we have designed our product for the most demanding needs

Even if you're not a photographer, you may enjoy viewing the samples in their gallery.

(Thanks Kirk Fleming)

Posted on 28 July, 2003

Fascist America?

AdBusters asks, Is America Becoming Fascist?

To pose the question doesn't mean that American fascism is a completed project; at any point, anything can happen to shift the course of history in a different direction. Yet after repeated and open corruption of the normal electoral process, several declarations of global war, adventurous and unprecedented military doctrines, selective suspension of the Bill of Rights and clear signals that a declaration of emergency is on the horizon, surely it is time to analyze the situation differently.

Posted on 28 July, 2003

The Pentagon's Terrorist Futures Market - Canceled

This controversial program is over before it even got started.

From the Financial Times: Pentagon ditches "terror futures market"

The Pentagon will abandon a controversial plan to set up an online futures exchange that would have allowed traders to place bets on forthcoming terrorist activities, Paul Wolfowitz, the deputy defense secretary, said on Tuesday.

The futures market - which critics said was under the control of the Pentagon's information awareness office, headed by retired admiral John Poindexter - would have allowed speculators to buy futures on potential attacks and other destabilising events, such as assassinations, through internet accounts.

The two-year budget for this program was a mere $8 million, literally a drop in the bucket. That's roughly the cost for 40 minutes of the Iraq war.

Posted on 28 July, 2003

More About RIAA Radar

I've mentioned the RIAA Radar site several times. This is a quick and easy way to find out if a particular CD was released by a member of the RIAA. It's perfect for those of us who prefer to support independent music, and make a small contribution to the downfall of the greedy and corrupt traditional music industry.

Jim Kloss, the genius behind Whole Wheat Radio (my favorite webcast), recently incorporated RIAA Radar into his music library. The "what's playing" window always lists information about the current song being played. That window now has an "RIAA Safe?" button which, when clicked, looks up the artist on RIAA Radar. The goal of Whole Wheat Radio is to play only indie music, but occasionally a non-indie song slips in.

I recently sent an email to the site owner, Ben. I asked him if he'd be willing to answer a few questions -- an "email interview." Ben agreed, and you can read the interview here.

Posted on 28 July, 2003

Urinal Gallery

Hundreds of urinal photos from all over the world, including a top-10 list of the "most fascinating urinals."

The #1 most fascinating urinal is in Antarctica, but I think #4 (shown here) is much more fascinating. These urinals are in the Millennium Dome in London. Simple, functional, and even a bit elegant. What more could you want?

Posted on 28 July, 2003

Telemarketers Won't Give Up

From CNN: Telemarketers sue over do-not-call list.

Telemarketers expanded their legal challenge to the government's do-not-call list, suing a second federal agency over the call-blocking service for consumers that the industry says will devastate business and cost as many as two million jobs.

I just don't understand this.

Logically, the telemarketing industry should be elated over the do-not-call list. It's basically a list of people who would never buy their crap anyway. It's a nice pre-screened list of people to exclude. Those who aren't on the list will be stupid people and morons -- ideal targets for telemarketers. Everyone wins!

Posted on 28 July, 2003

Top-100 Indie Albums

RIAA Radar presents a list of the top-100 indie albums sold at Amazon. As you can see, some well-known artists are breaking their ties with the big boys, and going out on their own -- a trend that will become increasingly significant over time.

Posted on 28 July, 2003