The Null Device

2003/7/9

Thailand is tackling the problem of massive online game addiction head on; the Communications Technology Minister (presumably their equivalent of Senator Alston) has announced a game curfew. Access to multiplayer game servers will be blocked between 10pm and 6am, and internet cafe hours will also be curbed. No word on how this will be implemented: whether Thailand has a national firewall which can be programmed to do this or whether the onus will be on ISPs. The minister has announced other restrictions, including mandatory breaks every 2 hours and ID cards to ensure players do not profit from games (presumably by selling their characters).

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2003/7/8

In the latest news from Airstrip One, the British are adapting admirably to their new status as a US vassal state, it seems: the home secretary has quietly signed an extradition treaty allowing the US to extradite British nationals without going through the courts (the treaty is, of course, unilateral). Meanwhile, the British armed forces are being restructured to better fill their new niche as a support force for the US armed forces, effectively becoming functionally subordinate. And that's just the start; some Tories are calling for Britain to quit the EU and join the Free Trade Area of the Americas. Meanwhile, the Frog-bashing nationalist press who so decried any surrender of sovereignty over how to weigh vegetables to the EU are curiously silent on this.

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Ultramagnetic is a fork of gaim for paranoids. While gaim is designed to let you chat with your friends on several different instant-messaging systems at once, Ultramagnetic is designed to allow you and your anarchovegan agitator comrades, anti-NWO militia buddies and/or fellow UFO conspiracy researchers to communicate without Them watching you. It uses libcrypt and Hacktivismo's 6/4 anonymous routing protocol. No idea whether it looks like AIM/ICQ or whatever else under all that or whether it interfaces with the overt IM networks at all. (via bOING bOING)

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The unthinkable has happened: Minimum Chips have gone into a recording studio for long enough to make a new EP. Granted, it took SBS to make them do it, but they ended up putting the tracks on an EP. Titled Gardenesque, it is believed to be their first recording since the track they did for the 555/Red Square Popfest compilation of last year.

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Meet Hektor, a Swiss-designed spraycan graffiti robot, or possibly one of the world's largest portable inkjet printers. (Note that it's not the largest, as the BBC piece suggests; I recall a larger version of GraffitiWriter, one of Hektor's predecessors, mounted on the underside of a van, and used to inscribe dot-matrix slogans on roads.)

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Fairfax commentator Margo Kingston on Australian PM Howard's road to absolute power:

Howard wants to go out on a high alright, but he wants the high to be higher than the one he's already on. He wants to transform Australia so completely that the old Australia can never be revived. His vision is so radical that only a man in complete charge of the political agenda could even dream of it. And the cross media legislation - the one I've been writing about in such despair for a week now - is central to his plans.

Kingston then describes how Howard's threat of a double dissolution election and proposed media deregulation laws would be used to give the government a power to reshape Australia that even the Bush Whitehouse doesn't have. And not surprisingly, the Australia that will emerge will be the worst of both worlds: repressively socially conservative and conformistic, and economically ruled by big business. All public debate, meanwhile, will be framed by the Murdoch/Packer press; which, by contrast, will make America (a country whose dissenters famously have to import their news from Britain) look like a model of pluralism.

And scarily, this is all within reach. (via Stumblings)

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