The Null Device
Finnish parliament kills European Copyright Directive, the EU's version of the DMCA, which would have extended the reach of copyright laws in a most draconian fashion. The EUCD was mandated by the European parliament, which means that each EU member state is in theory obliged to pass it into law, no ifs or buts. (Isn't democracy a glorious thing?) So far, only Greece and Denmark have done so, and Finland has decided it's not having a bar of it. However, the battle isn't won yet; the EU is likely to apply economic pressure to force Finland to toe the line, and if not, there is the prospect of US trade sanctions. Though with any luck, this will hearten anti-EUCD efforts in other European states and the copyright absolutists will have an open revolt on their hands. (via Slashdot)
This looks interesting: DIBS, the Distributed Internet Backup System, a peer-to-peer system designed for data backup. Rather than sharing files, you share your surplus disk space for other users to store encrypted backups in; in return, they do the same for you. Which sounds promising, though I can see some potential problems with reliably getting things back. (How many redundant copies of data are backed up? What happens when peers disappear from the network?) Perhaps what this needs is some sort of "heartbeat contract" mechanism; where peers agree that if they don't communicate for a period (say, a week, or perhaps a month), the other peer has disappeared, and its disk space can be reclaimed for new backup partners. (via Slashdot)
America's last travelling freak show is about to close its doors. While there once were hundreds of sideshows in America, they are now an institution in decline, for various reasons. Retiring attractions are not being replaced as medical technology improves, television and tabloids have taken the place of freak shows in the public eye, and the institutions have also fallen victim of changing public morés (from the political incorrectness of staring at the differently challenged to the fact that you can see "tattooed ladies" and more walking down any street these days). Still, some of the "freaks" lament the passing of this institution, and scorn the desirability of being "normal":
"Thank God as a young boy I saw someone sticking a nail up their nose, or I would have a terrible life,'' said Apocalypse as he pulled a cigarette out of a metal Band-Aid tin. "You want to see a freak show? A guy sitting in a cubicle, staring into a computer all day, typing until he gets carpal tunnel syndrome, with a 'thank God it's Friday' coffee mug sitting on his desk. There's your freak show.''
Amen to that. (via bOING bOING)