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My Archives: June 2004

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

snarky comment of the day
Posted by CKL @ 05:15 PM PST
"We weren't aware there were databases that could be destroyed just by copying them."
-- Bob Williams, Senior Writer, Center for Public Integrity

Monday, June 28, 2004

unauthorized t-shirts
Posted by CKL @ 11:23 AM PST
Yet another shining example of capitalism: get your very own "I went down on Mary-Kate (or was it Ashley?)" t-shirt before their 15 minutes of fame are over!

The same web site,, also offers a slightly less racy "LEGAL" shirt. I recently read in some magazine about the Olsen twins turning 18 and how there will be "no more creepy lad mag countdowns." Right, now we'll just have kinda-dirty-but-not-flagrantly-obscene Maxim photo spreads. Tell me again how this is better?


Friday, June 25, 2004

Posted by CKL @ 09:53 AM PST
As seen in The Joy of Tech:

569 (118k image)

I don't usually like analyzing humor-- there's nothing less funny than explaining a joke-- but I love the multi-layered subtlety of this cartoon. And hell, even if the only application of commercial space flight turns out to be tourism (and ancillary merchandising), is that such a bad thing?

Friday, June 18, 2004

Good vs. Evil
Posted by CKL @ 02:34 PM PST
Antipiracy bill targets technology

"A forthcoming bill in the U.S. Senate ... called the Induce Act, says 'whoever intentionally induces any violation' of copyright law would be legally liable for those violations, a prohibition that would effectively ban file-swapping networks like Kazaa and Morpheus. In the draft bill seen by CNET, inducement is defined as 'aids, abets, induces, counsels, or procures'... Foes of the Induce Act said that it would effectively overturn the Supreme Court's 1984 decision in the Sony Corp. v. Universal City Studios case, often referred to as the 'Betamax' lawsuit. In that 5-4 opinion, the majority said VCRs were legal to sell because they were 'capable of substantial noninfringing uses.'"

Cory Doctorow's Microsoft Research DRM talk

"This is the worst of all the ideas embodied by DRM: that people who make record-players should be able to spec whose records you can listen to, and that people who make records should have a veto over the design of record-players.

"We've never had this principle: in fact, we've always had just the reverse. Think about all the things that can be plugged into a parallel or serial interface, which were never envisioned by their inventors. Our strong economy and rapid innovation are byproducts of the ability of anyone to make anything that plugs into anything else: from the Flo-bee electric razor that snaps onto the end of your vacuum-hose to the octopus spilling out of your car's dashboard lighter socket, standard interfaces that anyone can build for are what makes billionaires out of nerds.

"The courts affirm this again and again. It used to be illegal to plug anything that didn't come from AT&T into your phone-jack. They claimed that this was for the safety of the network, but really it was about propping up this little penny-ante racket that AT&T had in charging you a rental fee for your phone until you'd paid for it a thousand times over.

"DRM is the software equivalent of these closed hardware interfaces... It's a bad business."

Stop the madness! Get more info at EFF.


Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Headline of the Week
Posted by CKL @ 08:59 AM PST
From the New York Times: "Short on Priests, U.S. Catholics Outsource Prayers to Indian Clergy" (evil registration required; try BugMeNot to bypass).

Thursday, June 3, 2004

The PDA is Dead. Long Live the PDA.
Posted by CKL @ 09:59 AM PST
From CNET:

"The popularity of the personal digital assistant has been steadily eroded by smart phones, digital cameras, music players and other devices that can provide many PDA functions. What's more, a lemminglike rush of computing and consumer electronics companies created a glut of products early on, hastening its predicted fate as the next analog pager, thermal fax machine or Tamagotchi Pet.

"The stylus writing was on the wall as early as the spring of 2001--just after the dot-com bubble had burst--when market leader Palm warned that it would reach only half of its expected quarterly revenue. So today, the question isn't why Sony is getting out of the market--but who will be next."

I'd hate to spread rumors, but I have heard talk of PalmOne getting into bed with Microsoft. Now that they've split from PalmSource, it doesn't seem outside the realm of possibility. Why limit your hardware to one OS?

It's true that Microsoft's PDAs (as produced by Dell, Compaq, HP, et al.) have been largely identical, brick-like commodities, while PalmOne has focused on producing more specialized devices targeted to specific user segments. The problem is, users increasingly expect one device to be able to do everything-- store a calendar and address book, play MP3s, make phone calls, browse the Web. It's not realistic, but technology is magic to most people, and every feature they can't have is one more reason not to spend $500 on a toy that will end up in a desk drawer after a few weeks.

The closest thing to a killer app for PDAs that I've seen is video games. Maybe devices like the Tapwave Zodiac and Sony PSP will revive the market. Of course, then, devices will no longer revolve around business-centric organizer functions. Maybe that's a good thing.


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