The Null Device


In MP3 player news, hackers are making progress reverse-engineering the iRiver firmware and loading mechanism, with a view to loading custom firmware into the unit. iRiver have used various mechanisms (checksums, encryption, disabling hardware debugging access) to make things difficult for them, but to no avail. Of course, iRiver could very easily sue them into oblivion under the DMCA, though would probably lose lots of sales doing that (including your humble narrator, who'd probably get another Archos instead); let's hope that iRiver decide not to be asshats about this.

Meanwhile, on the Rockbox mailing lists, this is being viewed with some excitement; there is already talk of expanding the Rockbox project from just the Archos Jukebox/Recorder platform to the iRiver. Which would be incredibly cool; it could be the first step towards Rockbox becoming the Linux of portable media player OSes. If that happens, I wonder how long until companies stop making (and maintaining) their own firmware and start building players around Rockbox.

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Spam subject line of the day: "it depends on you asymptotic inventor".

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Radioactive materials stolen from university in suburban Melbourne. Is there any reason someone would want to steal radioactive materials other than to make a dirty bomb (or sell to someone who does)?

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Leftist anti-racist groups are calling for a boycott of the Melbourne Underground Film Festival, citing organiser Richard Wolstencroft's statements professing admiration for various dictators, including Hitler and Mussolini (though also Nu Marxist idols Mao Zedong and Fidel Castro). Already, anarchist punk band CRASS have withdrawn permission for their films to screen (assuming that they gave it in the first place, which given Wolstencroft's maverick style of doing business, may not necessarily be the case). (via Rocknerd)

Speaking to The Bulletin, Wolstencroft said: I have controversial ideas about things, and I dont hide them. And sometimes I say stupid things. But I am not a racist, and Im not interested in nationalism. What he is interested in is something he calls transcendental fascism, which he stresses is non-racist and non-violent. Is it hierarchical? It is certainly not hierarchical based on anything like race, he says.
Co-founder of Loonar Watch, Shane Lyons, admits there is no proof that Wolstencroft is racist or anti-Semitic. My problem with [Wolstencroft] is that hes taking money in the form of entry fees to the festival, mostly from young film-makers, he says.

All this reminds me of the story recounted in Jon Ronson's THEM where some Canadian radical socialist types tried to cream-pie David Icke on the grounds that they could not imagine "giant lizards" could not be anything but a sneaky codeword for "Jews" (of course...) It's another example of what author Curtis White calls the Middle Mind in action; people who have gotten so used to going with the flow, delegating the thinking to the herd at large (on the subconscious assumption that someone smarter than oneself must have done it) that they have lost the ability to think for themselves, instead replacing thought with a keyword-matching mechanism for seeking out hot buttons to react against. Incidentally, it's not just the left who are guilty of this by any stretch; look at all the "patriots" in the USA who dutifully threw their Dixie Chicks CDs on bonfires because the man on Clear Channel told them to.

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When I last went to recharge my Archos Jukebox Recorder, I noticed that the DC IN socket wasn't there. It had snapped off and was rattling around inside. I opened the unit up to take a look, but it turns out that the socket is inside a box of soldered-together circuit boards, and impossible to get at without serious disassembly, something my electronics kung-fu isn't quite up to.

Anyway, this suggests that it's time to buy a new MP3 player. Can anybody recommend a good hard-disk-based unit with at least 40Gb of capacity, USB 2.0, USB Mass Storage capability (i.e., if you plug it into a computer, it appears as a hard disk to which you can copy MP3s, and doesn't require custom drivers or software), recording from microphone/line in to MP3 files, decent firmware and decent sound quality? (Has anybody had any experience with the iRiver H140?)

(Alternately, I could join the white earphone brigade. The problem with that is that iPods are a hassle to get files onto under Linux because of the custom database they use, and my PowerBook's hard disk (or at least the OSX partition) is far too small for me to carry a copy of my music collection on. I could at most feed an iPod Mini from it.)

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