The Null Device

2000/8/19

As the US courts have upheld the ban on DeCSS, a Taiwanese firm has announced a software DVD player for Linux. However, it's only for manufacturers of embedded appliances. Don't hold your breath waiting for a downloadable binary for your Linux box; given how custom-compiled kernels can be used for reverse engineering, there's no way that copyright-enforcing software players could be guaranteed secure to the DVD cartel's satisfaction.

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2000/8/18

This afternoon, I went to Gaslight Records, where a local band named Crazy Baldheads were playing an in-store performance. Crazy Baldheads (none of whom are bald, incidentally, though I can't vouch for their sanity) are one of those genre-bending electronica acts inspired by dub, hip-hop and various other things, using a sampler, a Yamaha RM1X, a bass guitar, turntables and various acoustic trinkets. Their music is also more interesting than most electronica acts, the samples showing a weird sense of humour. (One track, for example, is titled New Secret Prophecies, and is sort of a psychoceramic found poem based on various weirdness from an issue of Fortean Times.) In any case, Crazy Baldheads (and yes, I do get the Bob Marley reference) are playing in Melbourne in September, and are well worth seeing; much more, in fact, than all the interchangeable dance/breakbeat/doof acts around these days.

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It had to happen: Hello Kitty Tetris, in Java. (ta, Graham!)

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Anyway, speaking of zines, there's a new issue of Signum. That is, of course, the webzine published by west-coast new-media eminence Tiffany Lee Brown, and contributed to by a cast of digerati (Mark Dery, Carla Sinclair and Douglas Rushkoff are just some of the names). And it has a good piece looking back on the MONDO 2000 cyberculture revolution, its hopeful beginnings and how it all fell apart and devolved into an orgy of hypercapitalism.

In 1990, Virtual Reality mainman Jaron Lanier expressed the sense of utter desolation that was pervasive at the time, saying "Virtual Reality is *something.* And it's been a long time since we had something."

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Remember the zine revolution of the 90s? That frenetic burst of self-publishing that came before homepages, blogs and webcams, and made celebrities of the likes of Pagan Kennedy and Chip Rowe long before Jorn and Jenni hit the ideosphere. Then Sturgeon's Law kicked in and came along millions of copycat zines; each a fountain of disaffected slacker wit, all along very similar lines. The ones by male authors would usually have a rant whinging about how girls say one thing and do another, or something to that effect, and the ones by female authors would have articles cataloguing irritating and inadequate ex-boyfriends.

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As the US political circus gets into high gear, a Monica Lewinsky lookalike has been crashing the Democrats' Hollywood parties, in full costume, and flirting with the guests. The Democrats are not amused, and much to their consternation, they can't figure out how she managed to get in, or who put her up to it. (via Leviathan)

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Real-life Sith lord Darth Gates will be attending the World Economic Forum; watch for legions of penguinheads to join the anarchosocialist bovver boys and girls on the barricades.

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