The Null Device
The latest weapon in the war on spam is SPF; this is essentially a whitelisting technique which uses DNS servers to check whether a message really comes from the domain in the From: address. The way it works is essentially this: when a machine with IP address 184.108.40.206 connects to a mail relay to send a message, whose sender address says it's From: firstname.lastname@example.org, it looks up the DNS info on schmoop.com, and checks for a SPF entry. If there is one, it checks to see whether 220.127.116.11 is a legitimate schmoop.com host. If it isn't, it can reject the mail or bump up its SpamAssassin score or take some other action.
Of course, like all enhanced security measures, SPF removes convenience; for one, using a .forward file to forward mail from one account to another will fall foul of SPF, as the mail's origin (your other account) and its From: address (the sender) typically won't match (unless all your friends are on your local machine anyway). Secondly, putting an email address other than the one your ISP gives you (or one in a domain belonging to whoever runs your SMTP server) could result in your mail being rejected; which is a problem if you have a mail alias at a k3wl vanity domain but don't use that domain's SMTP servers for sending your mail.
Hewlett-Packard declare war on copyright violation, commit to integrated policeware in all HP products. Perhaps they're hoping that this gets them the sort of legal protection from cheap, usable imports that Microsoft has; since MS have embraced "trusted computing", the Microsoft OS monopoly has gone from being a problem to being an essential part of global economic stability (in fact, it's only slightly far-fetched to believe that, if it crashes down and the world goes open-source, the powers that be will declare capitalism to be irrecoverably wounded and bring out the cobalt-tipped fireworks). Could HP be angling for legal restrictions on non-compliant computers to stem the flow of customers to cheaper no-brand Asian imports?
Meanwhile, new versions of Photoshop have filters that detect images of US currency and refuse to load them; this CPU-intensive operation is performed every time image information is imported from outside the application. However, honest, patriotic citizens won't mind their CPU cycles being used in this way, as we all must put in to fight terrorism; don't you agree, Citizen?
Apparently Paint Shop Pro does this too, or so I heard. Mind you, The GIMP doesn't, and even if it did, you could change the source code to bypass this check and compile it yourself. Though, if Adobe and the Paint Shop Pro people put this "feature" in because of government pressure, it's not unlikely that there will be attempts to criminalise the distribution of source code that could be compiled to make a non-compliant image processing application. (There are precedents, in the FCC Broadcast Flag amendment, which effectively outlaws entire classes of software-radio applications that could be used to access copyrighted HDTV content.)
A US man is suing his cable TV company, on the grounds that they made him smoke and drink, caused his wife to gain weight and turned his children into "lazy channel surfers" by giving his household free cable. Timothy Dumouchel of West Bend, Wisconsin wants either US$5,000 or three computers and a lifetime supply of free internet service as compensation. It's reassuring to see that someone's taking charge of their life. (via Techdirt)
In the early 90s, the Spill label (which seemed to have been connected to the Fortitude Valley indie scene in Brisbane) released 3 compilations of songs by Australian indie bands. These compilations have now been made available in MP3 format; they include tracks by Minimum Chips, Clag, Clowns Smiling Backwards, New Waver, and The Sea Haggs (which was Laura/Lora Macfarlane's old band), as well as less-known bands with intriguing names like Volvox, Wank Engine and Farfisas In Exile. The MP3s are of fairly low quality (22kHz sample rate, and 56kbps bit rate), but they're better than nothing. (via Rocknerd)
And if you like the Clag tracks there, you can find some more Clag MP3s here.