ReplayTV has set itself up to be the Napster of digital TV recorders. Not only does it record 320 hours of programming, it also edits out commercials (semi-)automatically and allows you to send your favorite shows to up to fifteen "TV buddies" over your Internet connection. Their latest device is due to ship shortly, and, of course
the TV networks are suing them pre-emptively, trying to keep the devices from ever hitting the shelves. While this device sounds like tonsafun -- and while I wish like stink that I had one sitting on my media totem -- I can't understand how ReplayTV thought they'd be able to get this product to market without being crushed by the nets' fixers.LinkDiscuss
There's a new Ultima Online in the pipes, designed in collaboration with Canadian indie comix magnate cum
collectibles magnate Todd McFarlane, who is ensuring that there will be a plethora of purchasable Ultima Online schwag.
The new game will take players into a dark world, where they will meet more than 30 powerful new characters created by McFarlane. The central character in the new game, Lord Blackthorn, has been featured in previous installments of Ultima Online, but he has now been transformed into an evil half-human creature in charge of an army of other fearsome monsters. The game will include new artificial intelligence, a new interactive storyline, and a new virtue system that rewards and punishes players based on their choices and behavior during the game. Link Discuss
Giant Robot, one of my fave zines, devoted to all things cool, quirky and Asian, has opened a store in Los Angeles, for the display, perusal and vending of fantastic Asian popcult detritus, from t-shirts to stickers to DVDs. Discuss Link
Google's playing with the idea of displaying thumbnails of the pages that come up in search results. The more I think about this, the better I like it. Sure, it'll slow down load time (I imagine they'll let you switch it off if you want), but thumbnails'd be a great visual cue about the nature of a link, a way to identify sites that are too banner-laden or otherwise pointless to visit.Link Discuss
I've archived all 24 episodes of "Artificial Life," a comic strip I did for newmedia.com a couple of years ago. Link Discuss
ScotiaBank's 12 tons of gold and 30 million ounces of silver, buried beneath the WTC, have been recovered and are being convoyed by Brink's trucks to another location. Link Discuss
The island nation of Tuvalu is disappearing under the sea, thanks to global warming. Its 11,000 residents will have to be evacuated. Link Discuss
Aussie g-men debate whether to kill 20,000 koalas on Kangaroo Island to relieve population pressure. They say that the koalas are eating themselves out of house and home, and besides, the little buggers aren't as cutencuddly as you might think.
...[T]he image of Kangaroo Island could one day show that "virtually every tree was dead and lying underneath those trees were the carcasses of koalas that had starved to death".
Set phasers to "defrost." The Air Force Research Laboratory has developed a crowd dispersal weapon that heats people's skin using microwaves. Link Discuss
Dave sez: "The best and brightest lego enthusiasts had a Halloween-themed building contest. Check out the winners! I love the hearse!"LinkDiscuss
Here's my latest obsessive project: Plotting visitor patterns to BoingBoing over time. The Excel spreadsheet linked below covers the last twenty months of visitors, and calculates the precentile change in visitation from month to month. Link Discuss
An Aussie hacker is busted for manipulating local sewage control systems and flooding the parks, a hotel and a river with raw sewage. No info on why he did it, though I imagine that there's not much he could say that would mitigate the mess. LinkDiscuss
Cleaning the Fucking Kitchen for Dummies
is a profane and high-larious illustrated guide for sloppy roommates who live in the faery world where plates left in the sink somehow magically get cleaned up without any human intervention.
Pizza and takeaways dieLinkDiscuss
A little-known fact is that eating half of a takeaway kills it. The pizza may have arrived at your door on its own, but once you eat half of it, it's dead and it won't actually go away on its own. It doesn't matter if you hide it somewhere like some sort of demented squirrel, it will stay there. Unless someone throws it away. That means you, if the world is just, which it plainly isn't.
The sofa is not magic
Contrary to popular belief, putting items under the sofa means that they are still there. Just because nobody can see the burger carton, it doesn't mean that it's gone. Usually people master this at the age of fucking two, but it can apparently escape some.
If this is confusing, try thinking about this obvious counter example to the "under the sofa, it's not there" theory. What do you think that smell is? It's your fucking detritus under the sofa, mate. Things that aren't there don't attract flies and start to smell. Got that?
Here's a mind-blowing new image-processing paradigm (yes, I hate that word too, but this really is
a new paradigm). Researchers at the NYU Media Research Lab have built a trainable image filter. You give it an original image (say, a photo of a pear) and a "filtered" image (say, a watercolor painting made from that photo), and it analyzes the steps it needs to take to transform the original to the modified version. Thereafter, you can give it any
image and it'll "filter" it according to its derived rules. This is the ur-filter, the self-modifying code that learn from any example you present to it. Wow.
Toronto embarks on a Big Construction folly that approaches Boston's Big Dig for madness and hubris. The plan for revitalizing the waterfront calls for burying a giant eyesore of an elevated highway, while bulldozing the warehouse where I live when I'm there. I've got 50'x40'x20' of stuff
crammed into that loft, and I've got no idea what I'm going to do with it all, nor when I'm going to cope with it. But the funding for the project's been approved and it's only a matter of time until they knock down my home to make way for a park. I'd had hopes that with the economy collapsing, the City would be reluctant to drop a couple billion on a big earthworks project, but I was wrong, alas alack. Link Discuss
(via Exciting Monkeybum Stories for Boys and Girls
Hoaxbusters from snopes.com interviewed on Salon this morning:
Part of it is a lot of these are just really great stories; they're horrifying, they're titillating, they're funny. Link Discuss
But legends that we tell are an expression of what's going on in society's heart at any given moment. They're not just random bits of lore that get dropped in here and there. It's amazing because the stories we tell, although they generate spontaneously, end up through the process of natural selection becoming a very finely honed body of lore that reflects current society's concerns, fears, apprehensions, morals.
Streaming audio excerpt from Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
on today's Salon. Link Discuss
Good story on laid-off dotcommer volunteerism with the Peace Corps, and the changing perspectives wrought by the Current Situation. Link Discuss
In addition to having a cool domain, nevertrustanyonewodoesntlikegarlic.com has a cool concept: Writing to "celebrities" (Jimmy Walker, The Professor from Gilligan's Island
and the guy from Frankie Goes to Hollywood) and getting testimonials to the bulb that stinks and refreshes from 'em. Link Discuss
Internet pharmacies are getting busted for bootlegging Cipro without a license or a scrip. Link Discuss
This is a strange little project: Comic-strip fanfic about the WTC disaster that actually pulls off some semblance of respectfulness. Link Discuss
Here's a great roundup of the best of Internet gossip and rumor sites. I'd heard of a bunch of these, but there are some nice and novel gems here, too.Link Discuss
The Leonids aren't the only noteworthy upcoming celestial event. Tomorrow, we'll have the first full-moon Hallowe'en since 1955, and the last one until 2020. Link Discuss
The Meathead: The ultimate Hallowe'en hors d'oeuvre! Start with a plastic skull, add red jello, coldcuts, some strategically placed egg yolks or pearl onions, and serve! Link Discuss
"In the wee morning hours of Sunday, November 18, the Leonid meteor shower might intensify into a dazzling meteor storm, with 'shooting stars' continuously blazing trails across the night sky. Viewers across the United States are perfectly positioned to take advantage of the storm, which could be among the most spectacular sky events of the 21st century according to the latest scientific predictions. Use this nifty online app to calculate the Leonid shower activity from your your location. Link Discuss
Steven Levy reports on Bill Gates's reaction to the new Apple iPod:
He spun the wheel, checked out the menus on the display screen and seemed to get it immediately. "It looks like a great product," he said. And then he added, incredulous, "It's only for Macintosh?" Link Discuss
Here's a poignant note from the proprietor of Adventures in Crime and Space, a wonderful science fiction bookstore in Austin, TX. ACS is on the verge of bankruptcy -- two weeks away! -- and they're desperate for their many customers to come on in and spend, spend, spend.
That's the basics of the situation. We have, as best as I can tell, TWO WEEKS to turn this around. If we don't find $6,000 by October 31 then the store may have to close. That's our time frame. If you like the store, we need you in there NOW buying something! I don't really care what you buy, but we need the funds NOW! If everyone on our email list buys just 2 paperbacks, we can cover past dues and order books for Christmas. I don't like to beg for your business but you guys are our extended family, the ones we chose rather than the one we were born into. We need your help, so we are asking for it. Link Discuss
Some publishers have instituted new, fear-of-terrorism policies that will make for even greater delays in the handling of unsolicited manuscripts. I woulda said that the life of a hopeful, unpublished novelist couldn't get any more pathetic, but I was wrong. Send an ms to an editor at HarperCollins, and you've no guarantee that it (or any of your query letters) will ever be opened.
HarperCollins, owned by the News Corporation, has been asked by management to modify its submission policy as a result of an anthrax scare experienced by the New York Post in the same corporate group. As before, unsolicited submissions sent to the general HarperCollins Children's Book department will not be considered, but effective October 15 they are being discarded instead of returned. Also any mail received without a return address will be discarded by the mailroom immediately. Mail, including unsolicited submissions, addressed to a specific editor will be delivered to him or her. Whether editors open it if they do not know the sender, however, will be left to their individual judgment. That policy is to be reevaluated every month or so, and any changes will be reported as soon as possible.
(From a listserv) Discuss
The new Mindjack has a great editorial on the theory and practice of the DMCA, one that exhaustively convers the history and consequences of one of the worst, oscially damaging American laws since Jim Crow.
For those of us teaching cybercultural issues, an area of content is also blocked: the realm of problematic digital copying itself. Although the DMCA insists on several occasions that its enforcement shall not abridge freedom of speech (such as 1201(c)(4)), at other points its language prohibits not only unauthorized copying but any discussions of how such copying works. This provision exceeds analog equivalents, since one may buy, sell, read, and own texts describing in vivid detail many means of illegal activities, from illicit xeroxing to homicide. In practice, would not teaching the history and culture of software piracy not fall foul of the DMCA? Assigning the current issue of 2600, the leading hacking journal, would also include students reading how to violate eBook protocols, for example. Lecturing about the popular disregard for freeware timelimits would also fall under the ban. Webbing notes on encryption techniques, a staple of computer science, should be a DMCA violation; merely linking to Web sites that contain such information can be a DMCA infraction. Section 1201(g) makes provisions for "Encryption Research" - so long as such work is "necessary to identify and analyze flaws and vulnerabilities… [and] if these activities are conducted to advance the state of knowledge in the field of encryption technology". Given this year's legal challenge to Professor Felten, it's clear that that section has ample room for interpretation. As Siva Vaidhyanathan points out, the entire discipline of new media studies - an evolving, growing field - might lose the bulk of its subject matter.13 Could Keith Winstein's January 2001 MIT seminar, "Decrypting DVD", be prosecuted, or outlawed?14 In short, the Act might criminalize and restrict what can be researched and taught in American classrooms, a plain violation of academic freedom. Link Discuss
2308 items for sale at a giant upcoming dotcom bankruptcy auction in Sunnyvale. Dozens of Sun servers, Aeron chairs, and gobs o' pagers.
HP OMNIBOOK 4150 P-III 450MHZ; 128MB; 12GBHD W/AC & DVD & FLOPPY Link Discuss
IBM THINKPAD CELERON 500MHZ; 64MB; 5GBHD W/AC
BACKUP TAPE LIBRARY ARRAY
DELL POWERVAULT 705M
DELL POWEREDGE 2450 P-III 2 X 733MHZ; 512MB; 4 X 17GBHD
CISCO CATALYST 4006
VIEWSONIC 21" MONITOR