The Null Device
Amusing MP3 of the day: Napster Killed the Music Cartels. (ta, Mitch)
A chap calling himself The Human Calculator has a plan for the betterment of humanity: replacing the calendar with a 13-month "Human Calendar" with 28 days per month. Once it is in place, the improvements in efficiency will be great: weeks and months will be finally synchronised, with paychecks and holidays falling on predictable dates, and schedules and calculations will be a lot simpler. He has tried to sell this idea to the authorities who wield influence over the way we keep track of time (i.e., Hallmark and Microsoft, and not popes and emperors), but they haven't returned his calls. Perhaps he should talk to Swatch, and hope to get it accepted as an extension of Swatch Internet Time (then again; maybe it's not daft enough an idea for that).
The Queen's English: By analysing recordings of the Queen's Christmas speeches, researchers at Macquarie University in Sydney have discovered that her accent has become considerably less "posh" over the past few decades, drifting from the "cut-glass" upper-class English accent that was once de rigeur towards the standard non-upper-class southern-English accent. In particular, her vowels are now similar to those of female BBC announcers. (accompanying RealAudio piece)
...imagine a boot disk stamping on a human face, forever: An industry cartel is planning to put copy protection into all new hard disks. Under this scheme, disks will be encrypted and serialised, with keys stored in a hidden sector. This will make it impossible to copy protected files from disks (by keying them to the disk), and incidentally will make backups either impossible or a bureaucratic nightmare. As you can imagine, the movie and music industries are rubbing their hands with indecent glee at the idea, and hoping that the consumers are sufficiently docile and sheeplike to buy this and not realise how bad it is until it's too late.
There goes the separation of church and state: Under Bush, the US Government will promote religion, with an Office of Faith-Based Action and $8bn being spent to promote organisations which "save and change lives" (which probably involves indoctrinating people to suspend critical thought and believe in dogma). Wonder how long evolution will remain on US school curricula...
It's official: mobile phones don't cause brain tumours; well, at least not in two or three years.
Interesting rumour heard: You know those wireless networking devices (WaveLAN/802.11) that allow users to network their laptops anywhere within a building without cables? Well, apparently quite a few of them leak well out of their intended areas, and don't use any means to prevent outsiders who happen to have appropriately equipped computers at hand from connecting, looking around and accessing the wide open Internet. According to an anonymous anecdote seen on an unidentified mailing list:
I was riding the bus around downtown Stockholm to get home after a pretty late evening and I was too tired to read. I fired up my laptop and started to detect networks. I found six or seven... during 30 minutes. A week later a friend from Canada visited us. He stayed at a hotel in central Stockholm. He had a working network in some spots in his room. Apparently it belonged to a law firm.
Of course, unlike the golden age of hacking, the 1980s and earlier, such curious explorations are probably illegal these days, so Don't Do It, Kiddies.
Oh yes; the latest Fontomas font