Tuesday, June 29th, 2004

Here’s a fine, fine use of the internet, a scholarly examination of what happens when businesses move on and are replaced by other businesses and…well, just check it out.
I found it while looking around a great site that compares historic photos of Atlanta with the current reality. Thanks to brother James for that pointer.

Ticked off.

Tuesday, June 22nd, 2004

Hey, it’s for sale on Ebay, so it must be a real product!

ARE YOU TIRED OF THE ANNOYING NEWS TICKER BAR AT THE BOTTOM OF YOUR TV SCREEN? Block*it with the TVShield.* TVShield is space-age specially formulated film which quickly adheres to any TV set and can be removed at any time without damage to your TV screen so you can use it over and over again.

Somehow, I have to admire the entrepreneurial spirit behind selling $.03 worth of plastic to block the bottom of a TV screen that displays text generated by a device costing tens of thousands of dollars.
I’ve spent enough of my career now making these damn translucent bugs and logos that, hey, if I were given a newschannel to run, I’d eliminate the clutter and advertise it as ‘high definition television’, which, I guess is kinda what HBO does.
For the persistently annoyed viewer, I have two words: duct tape. Your picture tube damage may vary, of course.

Rights, yogurt, G5 speed, and space itself.

Friday, June 18th, 2004

…on a hot and humid Friday. Amazing, taken together, what’s important to me these days…
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Cory Doctorow went to the heart of the beast today and gave an inspired speech on why Digital Rights management (DRM) is a Bad Thing.
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Although we do an amazing amount of our shopping these days at Whole Foods, the folks at Sevananda do a fine job of keeping up with some key ingredients of our life, including the wonderful Nancy’s Yogurt, fresh from Oregon…or as fresh as any yogurt can be, having traveled cross-country. So for those of you scoring at home, we do a whole lotta Whole Foods, Sevananda for yogurt, the DeKalb Farmers Market for fresh vegetables a couple of times per month, and Kroger for Breyer’s chocolate ice cream, some frozen fruit, and selected canned vegetables.
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Brother James got a new Mac G5 today, one of the fancy new dual processor aluminum jobbies, and it’s about time. He was especially impressed with Apple’s new migration tool that basically lets you hook up a FireWire cable between your old and new machines and all the important parts of your identity are shared, copied, and configured.
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And finally, what are we going to do this weekend? Well, we have a birthday celebration to attend for Ms. Brigid on Sunday, but Monday, darn, if we lived on the west coast it’d be fun to head out to the desert, to the Mojave Airport to watch the landing of World’s first private manned space flight…Bert Rutan’s SpaceShip One. The MHV airport’s website already bills themselves (and it’s an official designation) as Americas First Inland Spaceport (this is something you have to be licensed for–who knew?), and the launch is a legitimately paradigm-busting moment. Wish I could be there.
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Well, whether in the desert or under the muggy treescapes of Atlanta. drink lots of water and stay cool…

How much would you pay?

Monday, June 14th, 2004

I’d say about $4.95 per month. Yep. if HBO would let me download their own originated programs (like Six Feet Under, The Sopranos) at HDTV resolution/aspect (or a reasonable subsampling thereof) on demand, without any whacked out file protection like “the movie will only play for a week” or “let us put all this proprietary stuff on your machine.”
Why less than what they charge for the service on cable? Because I have to do a fair amount of work to get the thing in a viewable form–downloading and cobbling the file together, and then burning it on a DVD for playback or long-term storage.
This will, of course, not likely ever happen…they really don’t want people to have high-quality recordings of their product. But it’s Monday morning–care to guess how much bandwidth on the internet is being consumed by (illegal) downloads of HDTV recordings of last night’s Six Feet Under?
As far as I can tell, mucho.
Ah, and this is fresh as this morning’s NYT headlines (reg required) where they announce that Starz Encore group have teamed up with Real Networks to offer 100 downloadable movies for $12.95 per month. But, quoth the Times, “The Starz service uses technology from Real that allows the movies to be played only by a given subscriber and only within a certain time period. Each film will have an expiration date that coincides with its last showing on the cable station. The movies will be encoded so that they cannot be played after the expiration date.” Now, it’s not Starz and Real who are completely in the driver’s seat here when it comes to establishing these limitation–no, it’s the producting studios who set these “windows of opportunity,” and then are amazed when peopel try to subvert their plans so that they can watch this stuff when and how they want to.
Never a dull moment, watching the nature of broadcasting, film, cable, and entertainment itself change.

You can spec all you want, but…

Monday, June 14th, 2004

Andrei Herasimchuk, who annoys me to this day as the guy who added some things to the Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator user interfaces that just don’t make any damn sense (especially when trying to stretch a metaphor between two very different programs) nevertheless has some very cogent things to say about Why Web Standards are a Good Idea. The executive summary:

Generally speaking, standards are a means to apply pressure on corporations to behave in a manner that is beneficial to everyone, not just the shareholders of the corporation.

You can spec all you want, but if corporate “self”-interest sees more profit in a proprietary approach, standards will simply fade away, and the big corporate dog will set the approach.
Does that remind you of any particular mega corporation? Yeah, that one.

Rainy Sunday linkage.

Sunday, June 13th, 2004

Maybe ‘leakage’ too, although the gutters seem to be handling most of the downpour. Around midnight last night, even with the air conditioning on (modestly) upstairs, it was about 90 degrees last night, and stifling in our bedroom. Then the rains came down, and came down, and came down. Things were much cooler after that.
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John Kerry played in a band. You’d like to hear their work on an MP3, right?
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Rebecca, who seems resolutely anti-blog, mentioned this NYT Magazine article about Whole Foods (reg required) last night at Jim’s birthday dinner. So how is that functionally different than a blog entry? Oh, right. The whole world can’t read it. The guy who calls himself Robert X. Cringely has some thoughts on blogs that relate here.
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What to find the latitude and longitude of your house–or anyone’s house–without a GPS? Some generous guy has written a Perl-powered site.
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I spose that’s enough to tide you over; I’ve got to get back to more pressing issues, like converting Adam’s EPS into a PDF, helping Bernie install OS X on an ancient iMac, or consulting with Nancy to help her fix Comcast’s defective cable modem installation.

And maybe I’ll get to some work I’m paid for, too!

The pause that connects.

Thursday, June 10th, 2004

This is just plain sensible, which is why it’s kinda amazing that it comes from Texas: soon, pull into a rest area anywhere in the state, have free wireless access.

They’re correct to point out this is a huge boon to safety.

Give me (On) Liberty.

Thursday, June 10th, 2004

What happens if you post a freely-accessible, out-of-copyright work on the internet and then send phony copyright infingement notices to the ISPs who host the site? Oh, how about trampled-upon civil rights? The concept of ‘NTD’, or Notice and Take Down procedures are supposed to be a manifestation of the Internet’s self-censorship. Well, ‘self’ ain’t ‘self’ when it’s some mysterious managers at some ISP somewhere.

The final irony: the test post was John Stuart Mill’s On Liberty.