Monthly Archives: November 2002

Piracy…

Slashdot readers have probably just seen this story about a statement from EMI about CD copying. A customer send a message that said, “I just bought a CD from you, and it won't play in my CD player. What should I do?” The response included,

[Copy protection] means the end of free music, something that must cause you much grief... [What you are claiming] can, in our experience, only originate from the realm of fairytales... Copy protection is a reality, and within a matter of months more or less all audio media worldwide are copy protected. And this is a good thing for the music industry. In order to make this happen we will do anything within our power -- whether you like it or not.

Let me briefly explain how copy protection on CDs works (it's really lame). A CD has a “table of contents” that says what's on it. If that CD was created by a computer, there may be multiple tables if the CD has been updated (ie. a “multi-session” CD). As such, according to “official specs”, an audio player should always read the first table of contents, and a computer should always read the last one. So what they do is put a “valid” first table of contents in, and then a bunch of bogus ones. Audio players grab the valid one, and computers grab the bogus ones.

Boy, that'll be tough to crack. What, all of one line of code will have to be altered!?!? They can't seriously think this is going to work… At least Macrovision took a little effort. Anyway, consumers will rightly demand that the audio CDs can be played in the computer. The fact is that if you can play something, you can copy it. That will not change.

Country living

This afternoon I decided to take a closer look at Rob's barn. Although much of what's here appears to have been built relatively recently, it was built using very classic low-tech construction methods so it interested me.

In the photos above, from left to right, you can see the barn's third level (1). For some reason there were no ladders to it though; I assume for some reason that they'd been scavenged. But I wanted to go up anyway, so I leaned up a board against a beam (2), and jumped from Rachel's ATV to the board and then scrambled up to the third level. Thanks to a hole in the floor (3) I could see all the way down to the ground level. It's a really nice view out the window (4), Rob's really got it made out here. Uh oh! My ladder seems to have fallen over (5), I guess I'll have to jump (no big deal, it was all of seven or eight feet).

I wanted to show a closer look at the construction. As you can see, the square beams are all hand formed from rough lumber, and there are basically no nails in the construction at all. Just big wooden pegs. Those beams are massive too; at least a square foot in cross-section. With maintenance, a barn like that should stand for five hundred years without problem, probably about four hundred years longer than one done using modern construction would last.

This is actually the real reason I was back at the barn. The snow's all gone, so I figured I should go back and pick some wild mint to make tea from. I admit that I like a stronger tea than you get from wild mint, but hey, given that the choice is have some free tea or pay for tea, I'm perfectly happy to drink a milder tea. Anyway, thanks to a dumb mistake that project got put off, but it's on my weekend list assuming the weather stays warm.

This is the view from the fields about a five or ten minute walk back from the barn (I was checking to see if there were any Jeep bits lying along the track where I'd popped off the driveshaft). Blue skied an' clear, right?

Blurgle

I've just found out something terrible! Iraq may soon aquire nuclear weapons. US senators have called this both terrible, hideous, and monstrous, and 78 countries have asked the UN to judge nuclear weaponry inhumane. (more)

Remember the Indonesian bombing? Well, first they said al Qaeda did it. Then they said the Indonesian army did it. Now they're saying it was a CIA bombing. Given the fact that the Australian government is playing buddy-buddy with the US spectres right now, it's no surprise that the Australian government is making political protest illegal. Protecting freedom, that's what we're doing. After all, isn't our freedom why the terrorists hate us?

"Why, man, he doth bestride the narrow world
Like a colossus; and we petty men
Walk under his huge legs and peep about
To find ourselves dishonourable graves."
                    - (more)

Well, no matter what you do I guess you support the war effort. On the right you can see a new amazon.com ad. I just sent them to following letter regarding it to find out more (this is an excerpt):

While reading the news this morning, I came across a banner ad for Amazon that said "BUY amazon.com & SUPPORT ISRAEL". When I clicked on it, it did not appear to be a referral collecting link. As someone who has spent thousands of dollars at amazon.com, I am very concerned to find out that my spending there may be contributing to war in the Middle East. Can you please confirm (a) whether my spending at amazon.com causes political or nationalist donations to occur, and (b) the specifics of those contributions.

In other news, nearly a quarter million jobs are expected to be lost in the UK if the Iraq war keeps rolling ahead. In other news, our good Pakistani allies have democratically elected a Taliban leadership, so neither Musharraf nor the US are very thrilled about it. Remember, just like freedom of religion only applies to good Christians, democracy doesn't count if you elect people we don't like.

And finally, let me just say: Yay! My favorite online comic has been updated. Click the comic below to go to it now (just don't be too disappointed, only four new strips have been added; given the material he's got to work with, I wish they came out faster):

Talking to the machine

I've been fiddling with a user search function that works using only DTMFs (touch tones). This is a transcript of a conversation with the current incarnation of that routine. I'll work on it more next week when I'll start building the voice server. I'm going to try and build it with a swarm of old computers so it can be done at basically zero cost.

Enter the user number you'd like to send a message to, or press 0 to search.
    0#
Please type in as much of the user's name as possible, ignoring all special characters.
    454#
Sixteen matches. Press one for glider, press two for glittarave, press three for glitter*girl, Press...
    *
Please type...
    4546#
For future reference, hkim's usernumber is 4784.
Please record your message at the tone. BEEP
"Hey, I'm in Dublin right now. I'm staying at the Hotel Ireland, room 666. Call me when you get home from work."

PS. I don't know hkim, but their first three DTMFs match mine, that's why they're in the little script above. Anyway, the whole system is pretty easy to use, and once you get the hang of it, it's really fast to navigate through.

Trembling in Tweed

I've whipped up an idea for the New Years BBQ shirt…