Boing Boing 

Rosetta Stones: $25,000

The Long Now Foundation has a store! And unline the crappy affinity items that most charities give you if you slip 'em a couple bucks (how many tote-bags can one PBS watcher usefully own?), these are really cool:
First Edition Rosetta Disk: (25 will be made, 23 remaining)
We are creating a limited edition run of 25 Version 1.0 Rosetta Disks and Containers, which we are offering in exchange for donations of $25,000 and above. Proceeds will support our global collection efforts to build the 1,000 language archive and complete the disk. The delivery date is the summer of 2003. You can see the design for the disk and container in the "about this project" part of our site under "concept" and "design". $25,000
Link Discuss (Thanks, jpancake!)

The Internet is for Everyone

The Internet Society's latest RFC, entitled "The Internet is for Everybody," is an inspirational call to arms: Free the Subnet 255!
Internet is for everyone - but it won't be if it cannot keep up with the explosive demand for its services, so we must dedicate ourselves to continuing its technological evolution and development of the technical standards the lie at the heart of the Internet revolution. Let us dedicate ourselves to the support of the Internet Architecture Board, the Internet Engineering Steering Group, the Internet Research Task Force, the Internet Engineering Task Force and other organizations dedicated to developing Internet technology as they drive us forward into an unbounded future. Let us also commit ourselves to support the work of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers - a key function for the Internet's operation.
Link Discuss (Thanks, Katie!)

Finally, a downloadable "King of Kensington" theme!

MP3s of great Canadian TV themes:
Edison Twins theme Polka Dot Door theme Take Off, Eh! Degrassi High Theme Degrassi Jr. High Theme Beachcombers Theme King of Kensington Theme Definition Theme Hockey Night in Canada (Original) Theme From Degrassi -- Zit Remedy The Littlest Hobo Theme Mr. Dressup Theme Kids In the Hall Theme
Link Discuss (Thanks, Michael!)

AOL lost $50B+ this quarter

Holy crap. AOL/TW/NS/whatcher just wrote down a $54.2+ Billion loss, the largest in corporate history. Link Discuss

Comrade Smurf

The Smurfs as Marxist parable. The parallels are quite amazing; I'm still reeling from the similarity of "Comrade _________" and "_________ Smurf."
Papa Smurf represents Karl Marx. He is not so much the leader of the Smurfs asĀ an equal revered by the others for his age and wisdom. He has a beard, as did Marx, and thus could conceivably be a caricature as well. And lastly, he wears red, which is the traditional colour of socialism. Brainy Smurf could represent Trotsky. He is the only one in the village who comes close to matching Papa's intellect - he is a thinker. With his round spectacles, he could also be a caricature of Trotsky. He is often isolated, ridiculed or even ejected from the commune of the village for his ideas. And of course, Trotsky was banished from the USSR.
Link Discuss (Thanks, Drue!)

Blagg: Blaggpluggs: Bling Bling

Rael's still hacking his RSS aggregator, Blagg, the <50-line perl marvel. He and Ben "Movable Type" Trott have jemmied up Blaggplugs (I think they should spell it Blaggpluggs, but what do I know), a Blagg implementation that spits out aggregated RSS in formats that can be easily slurped into various blogging engines (including Movable Type, natch!). Another testimony to tackling large, ambitious technical problems with small, lightweight tools that are easy to hack and chain. Link Discuss (Thanks, Rael!)

Cattle-class is a crime

A British court has ruled that airlines bear liability for deep-vein thrombosis resulting from cramped conditions in Coach on long flights. No more veal pens for travellers! Link Discuss (Thanks, Ronks!)

Blue Demon Iron On Auction


Here's my new iron on. Link Discuss

Nested emulators for posterity's sake

An oldie but a goodie: The Library of Congress has a monkey on its back. Every couple years, it has to open and re-save every doc in its 35TB collection so that the docs can be read by modern computing and modern machinery.

This is problematic and not just because it's expensive. When you convert a document, it's hard to know whether you've preserved all the parts of that doc that will be of interest to posterity -- it's impossible. For example, someone may want to dig through billions of Word docs to look at the embedded spyware GUIDs to see which modern writers were reviewing each others' works. Opening a Word 5 doc and saving it in WordXP may well eliminate that information.

The solution is emulation. Write, say, a 486 simulator that will run under a Pentium III running XP. Run Win 3.1 on the virtual machine and run Word 3 under the virtual Win 3.1. When PIIIs are in danger of obsolescence, write a PIII emulator to run on a G5 processor under OS X. Run XP on the virtual PIII, run the 486 emulator on the virtual XP, run Win 3.1 on the virtual 486 and so on -- nested Turing machines, one inside the other.

Theoretically, this eliminates the explosion of complexity; at any time, you need only know how to emulate the last generation of technology on the current gen. While there is a possiblity that the nested emulators will introduce difficult debugging problems, an emulator that runs on a gate-for-gate simulated processor should, in theory, run perfectly (what do you do about I/O? I dunno).

It's a powerful idea. Human posterity is terribly endangered by proprietary data-formats (and doubly so by DRM technology), but by funding emulator research, the LoC can preserve posterity -- just so long as Moore's Law keeps on generating CPUs that are sufficiently advanced over their predecessors that they can handily simulate them.

Of course, it's at direct odds with DRM. If I simulate your "trusted computer" in a virtual machine, I can bend the laws of time and space as far as the simulated computer goes -- like a brain in a jar with a wire running off its stem, it doesn't have any way of distinguishing those responses that are explicitly generated from those that are "real."

The MPAA's Broadcast Protection Discussion Group is establishing the principal that digital media technologies should be made tamper-resistant (read: no emulators, no open source) so that you can't intepret the "protection" as damage and route around it.

I predict a major collision between the Copyright Office and the copyright industry in the coming months -- let's hope posterity wins. Link Discuss

Email without the switching costs

I recently wrote an extended rant about my problems with Entourage and my yearning to switch to a mailer that stores its material in flat text files. Tim McLaughlin wrote in to describe his solution to the problem which involves <geek>running fetchmail on your OS X machine, storing the mail in a store that a local IMAP server can access. That way, you can use any email client, point it at your IMAP server on localhost, and away you go. In other words, there are no migration issues (modulo address-books) if you want to switch mailers. Lock in? What lock in?</geek> Link Discuss (Thanks, Tim!)

Damon Knight remembered

Damon Knight's daughter-in-law is compiling a master sheet of euologies and memorials for Damon, which is shaping up to be an astonishing document. Damon was a fantastic and odd person, and reading others' remembrances of him reminds me of how lucky I was to know him. Link Discuss (Thanks, Ted!)

Scriban v. Valenti

George Scriban is one of my heroes. After reading Jack Valenti's latest filetraders-are-commies-chewing-through-the-body-politic rant, George has decided to turn his keep analytic corpus to letting the air out of Valenti's rhetorical tires (George is the freelance troublemaker who demonstrated that the RIAA's sales-figures-in-decline-because-of-file-sharing hysteria was as unfounded as we suspected, and yes, folks, he still needs a gig!).

So check this out, as George begins his one-man crusade to tear apart Black Jack Valenti's prevarication:

according to the report, the "350,000 downloads" number was ginned out of a weeklong sample of IRC file-trading activity. the IRC profile was subsequently applied against "self-reporting" P2P networks (like Napster or Gnutella) activity (ie, given x nodes and y files, z files can be assumed to have been traded). the resulting numbers were smoothed out with media reports for the less transparent networks (like Aimster). I admit that this is about as thorough as you can get. it's also probably wildly inaccurate.
Link Discuss

The Outer Limits kick azz

Hallucinogenic rave for The Outer Limits:
With a free-flowing id and the assistance of old-school, no-nonsense directors like Gerd Oswald and Byron Haskin, Stefano established "The Outer Limits'" uneasy tone and celebratedly gothic atmosphere in the stellar episodes he wrote. Among these were "Don't Open Till Doomsday," a deliciously unctuous take on frustrated desire featuring a belligerent phallo-vaginal blob, coitus interruptus on a cosmic scale and several Stefano-penned songs; "The Bellero Shield," a spin on "Macbeth" with a shimmering space creature as inadvertent Player King; "The Invisibles," in which crablike aliens botch a takeover of the human race by commandeering its most marginalized members; and "Nightmare," a prescient look at the internal and external bonds that disintegrate during wartime. Some of his other efforts, such as "A Feasibility Study," "The Mice" and "The Zanti Misfits" (which features the series' best-remembered monsters, a race of fist-sized ants with leering human faces), were less cohesive but no less distinctive
Link Discuss (Thanks, Marc!)

Boy adopted by chimps

Nigerian parents leave their disabled infant son in jungle to die, but he is adopted by chimpanzees. Link Discuss

RSS aggregation in 46 lines of perl

Rael's written an RSS-aggregator for Blosxom (though you can use it for lots of things), in 46 lines of perl. Tie it together with Blosxome and you've got an entire blogging engine, complet avec RSS aggregation, in fewer than 100 lines of perl!
* Aggregate (i.e. read and blog) RSS syndicated feeds of about any flavour via a simple command-line interface

* Simpler than pie drag-n-drop installation

* Small (<= 46 lines of actual code ;-) and lightweight

* Makes use of all the operating system and Web server beneath its feet have to offer

* Doesn't even require an XML parser (whatever that is ;-)

Link Discuss (Thanks, Rael!)

Bluetooth harddrives -- living-room-area storage

Toshiba's shipped a 5GB Bluetooth hard-drive. I like the idea of being able to access, say, a living-room storage device over a wireless link, but I have to wonder about the speed of Bluetooth. At 0.72 Mb/s, it seems that 802.11b or 802.11a would have been a better choice -- who wants to wait an hour to transfer a CD's worth of MP3s to your laptop? Link Discuss (Thanks, Erik!)

Freedom through graffiti

A woman who was kidnapped by a trucker who drove her across the country, beating her and keeping her locked up for over a year is free. She used a marker that she hid in her sock to scrawl pleas for help on over 100 toilet walls at gas-stations -- her kidnapper stood guard over the door -- and finally, someone called 911. Cops used GPS to track down the truck and arrested the driver. The driver's employer characterizes the crime as a lovers' spat. Link Discuss