The Null Device
Tonight I went to see Otis Lee Crenshaw at the Comedy Festival. Crenshaw (played by comedian Rich Hall) is meant to be a hard-drinking country singer from Tennessee. He just got out of Brushy Mountain State Penitentiary, and was married six times, each time to a woman named Brenda. On stage, accompanied by two musicians, he performed several amusing musical numbers (think Kinky Friedman at his funniest), singled out members of the audience for harrassment, and threw out line after snappy line. I was struck by the amount of improvisation he did on the fly, all flawlessly (incorporating an audience member's name and profession into a song, complete with rhymes, and doing a song about various elements of contemporary Australian culture). Crenshaw's show was lots of fun; this is a show well worth seeing.
The War On MP3: Windows XP to limit MP3 quality to 56kbps, to wean users onto proprietary formats. Elsewhere this would be considered unfair restraint of trade; in this case it is a well-deserved blow against audio piracy. The fact that it will nicely lock customers into Microsoft's own proprietary platform is just a bonus for those heroic altruists in Redmond. (Who said that doing good never pays, right?)
This won't apparently block the writing of MP3 files at the filesystem level or anything quite like that, but will block recording with Microsoft's bundled tools; their hope is to make all the unsigned garage bands release all their stuff in proprietary Windows formats (after all, who cares about the 0.01% of the market who don't use Windows? Translating the lyrics into Urdu makes as much sense as supporting non-Windows platforms), thus consigning MP3 to a a historical footnote. (It would work better if they automatically degraded the playback of MP3s; though that may be in the next release.)
Though doesn't everyone use WinAMP or Sonique under Wintendo anyway? (I know I do on the NT machine at work.)