The Null Device
Germany's Federal Environment Ministry are considering fitting nuclear power stations with powerful smoke machines, which can be activated to quickly generate thick fog and hide the station from airborne terrorist attacks. Of course, if the aircraft isn't piloted by terrorists, the fog could cause an accident.
(Maybe they'll install one of those permanently next to the Whitehouse? That'll make for some interesting postcards; the symbolic seat of global US hegemony shrowded in foreboding black mists as if it were in the depths of Mordor or somewhere.)
What happened to the MP3.com archive after the site was torn down? It still exists -- but is now owned by a piped-music company spun off from Vivendi Universal. The MP3s uploaded have apparently become the property of TruSonic, a competitor of Muzak.com, and available only to businesses who subscribe to their service; as for the Internet Archive's proposal to preserve it as a public cultural record, well, there wasn't any money in that. Artists have expressed some concern about whether they will be paid royalties.
Oh dear; a Richard Dawkins-inspired prog-rock concept album. I suppose it's a counterpoint to all the Christian Fundamentalist songs like "Hey Hey We're Not Monkeys", or something. (ta, Owen)
Japan's manga industry must be quaking as a court convicted a manga publisher for selling obscene literature. The days of ordinary sararimen reading Rapeman on the Tokyo subway may be coming to an end.
As of today, I have a 40Gb* Archos Jukebox Recorder 20.
This Sunday, I went to the computer swap meet and picked up a 40Gb notebook hard disk (a Hitachi TravelStar, for what it's worth), along with a notebook-drive-to-IDE-cable adaptor. Yesterday, I wandered down to Jaycar and bought a set of Torx screwdrivers (that's the funny hexagonal screws used to fasten things that people with ordinary household screwdrivers have no business in opening) and an antistatic wrist strap (just in case).
First, I copied the contents of the Archos to the new disk; I used the adaptor to attach the disk to my Linux box (as /dev/hdb; to make it into the slave device, I borrowed a jumper from an ancient SCSI hard disk I have lying around whose exact origins are lost in the mists of time). I then partitioned it (making one big FAT32 (LBA) partition, as on the Archos), and copied the Archos' contents to it in one gulp, with:
dd if=/dev/sda1 of=/dev/hdb1
Then I used GNU Parted to resize the partition (and the FAT filesystem on it) to take up the entire span of the new disk.
Then came the hardware modification; off came the "Warranty Seal" sticker, and the rubicon was crossed. I was working from this guide, which, whilst written for older Archos units, was quite accurate. The operation was easier than I feared; I was half-expecting the Archos hardware to be next to impossible to take apart without destroying some delicate connection or other, but this turned out not to be the case. The most tricky thing was putting on the black rubber bumpers when putting the case back together (obviously, whoever designs cases for Archos is not the same person who designed the Apple Macintosh G4 case or any similarly hacker-friendly hardware enclosure). In any case, everything went smoothly and without a hitch. I'd say that changing the hard disk in an Archos Jukebox isn't much harder than doing so inside a generic PC; if your warranty has expired (or would involve shipping the unit to France by courier or something similarly useless), it's worth a try.
Now I've got a 20Gb hard disk full of MP3 files, waiting to be recycled. In an ideal world, someone would sell external USB drive enclosures (like the ones you can buy for hard disks) with built in MP3-player functionality. (I believe there are all-in-one MP3 decoder chips that can talk to an arbitrary IDE disk.) Though if those don't exist, I may just end up using it as a backup device or somesuch (the usual fate of old hard disks).
* That's in marketing gigabytes. It actually has 37Gb or so of space, though that is still twice its former capacity.