The Null Device


Today I went to a talk on a rather interesting piece of software named Circle. This is a new, experimental peer-to-peer communication system with no central servers or points of control whatsoever, organised along the lines of a distributed hashtable. It was designed by a PhD student at Monash University (where the (centralised) Goofey messaging system originated a decade earlier). The Circle client, which is written in Python, includes instant messaging, a decentralised news service based on trust metrics and file sharing/searching using the distributed hash table; it seems pretty interesting.

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Maybe Vivendi Universal aren't entirely evil. They're now offering a song for sale in unprotected MP3 format. No proprietary DRM schemes, spyware-enhanced ad-showing players or Microsoft dependencies. (Sort of like what did with the 4AD back-catalogue some years ago.)

I suspect this may be part of a power struggle within Vivendi, between the copyright hardliners (i.e., Bronfman's Universal Music Group, who have been pushing copy-restricted pseudo-CDs) and moderates in the new media division (i.e.,, If this succeeds, the absolutists' position may be weakened, and we may see copy-restricted CDs shelved or even unencumbered MP3 downloads become a regular feature. Whereas if this fails, the hardliners will just say "I told you so", and redouble their zeal.

I don't know much about Meshell N'degeocello (though with EBTG's Ben Watt doing the remix, it could be good), but I'm tempted to buy the MP3 anyway. Though it happens to be for US residents only at the moment. (via Slashdot)

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Seen on St Kilda tram, 9:43pm:

  • A ponytailed guy carrying an acoustic guitar with a purple "MAGIC HAPPENS" sticker on it. Mercifully, though, he didn't start playing (unlike the other ponytailed geezer with a guitar who kept following me a few years ago.
  • Various deranged-looking people in paper hats and such; a tanned woman in a pink fluoro pullover, camouflage top, woolen cap and plastic jewellery kept walking up and down the tram, carrying an opened bottle of beer and a large plastic bag full of papers, and talking to various people. A male companion of hers wore a blue windcheater and a Burger King cardboard hat over unkempt hair.

Later I saw the same woman walking down Fitzroy St., though she looked more fashionable than deranged. Sometimes it's hard to tell the trendies from the crazies.


The Issues that Matter: The Vatican, the world's oldest multinational corporation, has issued a media statement criticising celebrities for wearing jeweled crucifixes. Then again, mentioning celebrities by name is good for publicity, and right now, any publicity not connected to child sex scandals is good news for them.

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Could this be the future of advertising? An ad agency in the US has started giving signs to the homeless. The signs are branded with the ad agency's identity and carry slogans such as "At Least I'm Not Spamming Your E-Mail" and "The Market Sucks/ But I Offer a High Return On Your Investments: Good Karma."

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