The Null Device


Discovery of the day: Fitzroy North is in the Falkland Islands.

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Some years after Eduardo Kac's glowing rabbit, more artists are using genetic engineering. Among recent art/biotech works are a cactus which expresses human hair (and is supposed to be some sort of statement about sexuality, of course), butterflies with mutated patterns on their wings, and winglike shapes made out of cultured pig tissue.

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The MP3 patentholders are rewriting the standard to include DRM copy-denial. Owning the patents, they are entitled to crack down on encoders using the old unencumbered MP3 format, or even borrow the RIAA's internet-user-suing infrastructure to go after indie bands who unlawfully put non-DRM-enhanced MP3s on their websites. Not that they'd necessarily do something like that; except, perhaps, if the RIAA paid them under the table to do so or something.

The penguinheads, of course, will go to Ogg Vorbis; apparently, there are now hardware devices which play Ogg files. (No word on whether this is done in a DSP chip, as MP3 decoding is, or whether the device's poor little CPU has to decode the OGG files itself, undoubtedly cutting battery life in half; I'd bet the latter.) Though there may be a window of time during which you cannot legally obtain a new device that plays your "old MP3" files (or even a secondhand one, especially if it relies on Flash ROM firmware which deteriorates within 10 years). All because the recording racket is desperate to preserve its precious scarcity from the depredations of the evil pirasites.

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