31 July 2007

Techdirt: Why Does The RIAA Hate Webcasters? Webcasters Don't Play Very Much RIAA Music

Techdirt: Why Does The RIAA Hate Webcasters? Webcasters Don't Play Very Much RIAA Music

"Traditional radio, of course, is dominated by a few similarly formated stations that all play RIAA-backed music. 87% of the music you hear on the radio is from an RIAA-member record label. However, when it comes to music on webcasts, the story is quite different. Jon Healy, at the LA Times, points out that only 44% of music on webcasts are from RIAA labels."

It was my partner that first pointed this out to me -- turns out they were right! The RIAA's beef has absolutely nothing (or at least very, very little) to do with potential lost revenue -- most people who download and share music were never likely to actually buy a CD anyway. It's all about control. The RIAA doesn't like when you share music or listen to web radio because they have absolutely no control over what you're listening to.

Why is this important? Well, that's where the money part comes in -- the RIAA's control over what you listen to allows them to make successful investments on new artists, acts, and producers, because they know for sure that people will have to listen to these new artists, acts, and producers. (And yes, quite a few people do eventually purchase a CD for an act that they're constantly bombarded with from their radios and TV sets -- not everyone just turns the radio or TV off, like I do. :P)

If the RIAA is not in control of what you can listen to in the end, then they have little direction about where to invest. God forbid, they might have to make some kind of financial "risk" on some sort of "free market!" Imagine that!

ASUS Eee PC Hand's On Preview - HotHardware

New Asus Laptop
ASUS Eee PC Hand's On Preview - HotHardware

I'm seriously thinking about getting one of these -- I was going to spend about $200 on an older sub-compact notebook, but hell, why not spend it on a new one! And one that's completely solid-state, too...

Though, I wish people would stop comparing other sub-compact notebooks to the OLPC.

The OLPC is much, much, much more than just a sub-compact notebook, and comparing any other notebook to it is completely unnecessary.

30 July 2007

Office Politicos: A Field Guide on BNET

Office Politicos: A Field Guide on BNET

A funny article about ten archetypes you're likely to encounter in a white-collar office setting. Funny thing is, I can't use them to describe any of the people I work with, of course I've never been good at classifying people.

25 July 2007

UW CSE and ICSI Web Integrity Checker

UW CSE and ICSI Web Integrity Checker

A web page created that can tell you if you're falling victim to ISP's (like Charter or Verizon) inserting ads directly into HTML during transit from the web site to your computer. Sneaky, eh? It's a way of making ads appear on a page that the owner didn't want any ads on.

Ugh -- our world gets more and more every day like that futuristic clothing store that Tom Cruise walked into in Minority Report.

20 July 2007

Bigstring "Self-Destructing" Email?

Bigstring Email

A co-worker showed me this, this morning -- apparently, it's an email service that offers the ability to send emails that "self-destruct" in your receiver's mailbox after a set amount of time...

Yeah, that's what I said -- bullshit. There's absolutely no way that can happen.

So, I decided to test it out -- got me one of their free accounts, and sent an email with a "self-destruct" time of two minutes to one of my usual email addresses.

Well, I got the email, and the first thing I noticed was that the body was empty... well, not completely empty -- apparently there was an image there that my spam filter was blocking. I unblocked the image, and guess what? It was the text of my message, rasterized to an image.

The image was hosted on their servers, and after about two minutes, the image changed to just white space, effectively "deleting" the message's text in your user's inbox.


Now, why didn't I think of that? :P

It's not foolproof, of course -- all you'd have to do to prevent this is somehow get your mail server to automatically cache all original images sent from Bigstring's servers...

Well, I tried that, wasn't that easy. Apparently, the image they send is some kind of funny bitmap that's loaded with a ".gif" extension -- when I tried to save it, all I got was whitespace. Hmm -- I'll have to look into that, it seems intriguing.

Either way, if you still want to save the "text" of these emails, just take a couple of screen shots and crop out the text.

That solution worked just fine. ;)

It'd be a little bit harder to get a server to automatically take screen shots like that -- I suppose you'd have to somehow render the HTML temporarily and take a "virtual" screenshot of what was going to be displayed on the screen -- but it wouldn't be impossible. I've seen servers configured to do even weirder things to images -- automatically taking screenshots shouldn't be hard.

19 July 2007

One-Stop Travelers' Redress

Happy, Non-fat TSA Agents
DHS | One-Stop Travelers' Redress

Think you might be on a secret undisclosed terrorist watch list? Born with an unfortunately Muslim-sounding first name? Just want to bother the government and keep them on their toes?

Just use this handy dandy form available from the DHS TRIP.

[via Wired]

17 July 2007

OOXML Fails to Gain Approval in US

OOXML Fails to Gain Approval in US [An Antic Disposition]

"An important factor in the V1 vote was the large number of members who joined very late in the process. At the start of the year, V1 had only 7 voting members. But by Friday's meeting V1 had 26 voting members. There was a clear pattern in the voting where the long-time V1 members voted for the "Disapproval, with comments" position as well as "Abstention, with comments" while the newer members voted overwhelmingly "Yes, with comments" and against "Abstention with comments." This is not surprising since the new members were largely Microsoft business partners."

Another setback for Microsoft, but a close one, since apparently they've packed the board of this ANSI recommendation council with their buddies. A couple of more votes their way and they'll have it.

Just for the record -- I have no problem with Microsoft producing the standard for document-keeping for the next century... if it's open. OOXML is a confusing piece of crap, apparently designed with the sole purpose of keeping people from easily implementing it.

If Microsoft were to create something like ODF, hell, I'd support 'em, too. But, ODF doesn't lock people into one vendor, and that's a big problem for Microsoft, isn't it?

As a well-spoken poster on Slashdot said,

"OOXML is a scam. It's meant to give Microsoft some air of respectability in an arena that it is, to say the least, deeply distrusted. The documentation is intentionally incomplete, and that's because Microsoft doesn't want anyone to implement it. This is simply part of their war on up-and-coming competitors. The whole thing is a lie, and it appears that a strong enough minority of the committee recognize this stunt for what it is. What is sad is that money may very well win the day, when Microsoft should be shown the door and told not to come back until it has a standard that any competent programmer could build an interface in an application for, even if they possess no libraries to help them along."

13 July 2007

Intel, OLPC Make Peace

Intel, `$100 Laptop' Project Make Peace

As much as I'd choose AMD over Intel... competition is always a good thing.

I can just imagine the dirty little deals that had to go on behind the scenes for this to happen, though -- obviously, Intel wanted in, and they probably agreed not to distribute their "Classmate PC" in the same markets as the OLPC (they were going to do it at a loss, too, just so that they could kill the OLPC).

Well, if it can get the cost of it down, then go for it -- the damn price of the OLPC has crept up to $175 recently, and things are looking grim.

Asus EEE PC First Thoughts

Asus Laptop
Asus EEE PC First Thoughts

  • Display: 7"
  • Processor: Intel mobile CPU (Intel 910 chipset, 900MHz Dothan Pentium M)
  • Memory: 512MB RAM
  • OS: Linux (Asus customized flavor)
  • Storage: 8GB or 16GB flash hard drive
  • Webcam: 300K pixel video camera
  • Battery life: 3 hours using 4-cell battery
  • Weight: 2lbs
  • Dimensions: 8.9 in x 6.5 in x 0.82 in - 1.37 in (width x depth x thickness)
  • Ports: 3 USB ports, 1 VGA out, SD card reader, modem, Ethernet, headphone out, microphone in
...and all for only $250 bucks. This is perfect for what it is -- I'm real curious about what flavour of Linux they're running, however...

Ext FileTree Widget Example by Saki

Ext FileTree Widget Example by Saki

Here is an absolutely beautiful example of a Ext-based file management utility from Jozef Sakalos.

11 July 2007

Hidden Domino Frame Borders in IE

For since, like, forever, I've been dealing with the problem of a hidden "padding" area on the right side of my frames in Internet Explorer. It doesn't show up in Firefox, but since my main development environment is IE, I'm forced to try and track down whatever bug is causing it.

The hidden padding -- which isn't affected by any sort of padding or margin CSS attribute that I could ever find in IE -- messes any width attribute you set to objects. Trying to make a "menubar" that fits all the way across the top of your frame. Forget about it -- it'll stop at about 95% width.

The solution is to make sure you've got both "Off" and "No" selected for ALL of your frames when you're making a frameset (not just the ones you're having the padding problem with). Why this makes a difference, I don't know, but I put the blame mostly on IE and not Notes/Domino in this case.

The only difference is if you're working in a frame that will sometimes need a scrollbar -- in that case, set the "Scrolling" radio button to "On," or else you'll get the hidden padding on the right.

I'm still trying to figure this completely out -- the pattern is quite confusing.

09 July 2007

Openmoko Neo1973 For Sale Now!

openmoko.com: Openmoko Products

Well, the Neo1973 is now for sale -- read up about it. Basically, it's the first fully open-source phone -- everything from the hardware to the software. I've been following its progress for a while now, wishing it would go up for sale -- it's half the cost of an iPhone, with all the functionality, for one thing. ;)

It's got a replaceable battery, a microSD card slot, it uses regular USB cords to connect to PC's, and it only costs 300 bucks. Now if I can only get it work with the cellular networks around where I live.

06 July 2007

As I See It: Dare to Be Rich

The Four Hundred--As I See It: Dare to Be Rich

"Showing the way, the Big Dog of IT has certainly figured out ways of keeping more of its money. In 1999, Microsoft reported $12.3 billion in U.S. income, but paid exactly zero-zip-zilch in federal taxes. (OK, so I'm jealous.) More recently, during a two year span, the software giant paid a whopping 1.8 percent in taxes on earnings of $21.9 billion. Now that's a tax burden the rest of us could live with."

A truly disgusting look at how multi-billion dollar corporations in America get away with paying almost no taxes at all.

03 July 2007

In about-face, Mass. now likely to OK Microsoft's OOXML

In about-face, Mass. now likely to OK Microsoft's OOXML

Wow -- it's amazing what millions of dollars worth of greased-palms and ten football teams worth of lobbyists can do for a company like Microsoft, isn't it?

God -- it's enough to make a person want to give up. How do you fight tons of tons of cash and power like Microsoft has?

Who knows. However -- it is possible. Remember, it took people like Martin Luther hundreds of years to "open" the Bible, and he was trying to convince people to ignore things like outright damnation from the Church.

Open-source advocates have it easy, by comparison -- we're just trying to get a few choice legislators, politicians, and upper-level managers to ignore big wads of cash.


Eh... on second thought, maybe Martin Luther had it easier.

Could you pass the U.S. citizenship test?

Could you pass the U.S. citizenship test? - July 4 Special - MSNBC.com

While I personally think it's silly that someone has to take a written test to become a citizen (a certain amount of money and a free criminal record should be enough), the questions on this test are so easy they're ridiculous.

I'm no Political Science major, I slept through Civics class in High School, and I don't watch the news, and yet I scored a 95% on this test.