RIAA Hacked Again

Andy sez: "The RIAA is being hijacked, as we speak. I just wrote about this on my site, with all relevant links." Link Discuss Read the rest

E-commerce Jumping Beans King busted by Singapore authorities

The 22-year-old business school graduate and e-commerce entrepreneur known as the "Jumping Beans King" has been ordered by Singaporean agriculture officials to recall thousands of the beans he sold online. Story snip:
William Tan was told to recall the beans he had been selling as novelty pets because the moth larvae inside that make them jump pose an ecological threat, said Cheng Lee Ching, a spokeswoman for Singapore's Agri-food Veterinary Authority, or AVA. The penalty for importing jumping beans into the tightly controlled city-state is a fine of 10,000 Singapore dollars (US$5,760) or three years imprisonment.

"I'm very disappointed because the market potential for this was huge, but everything came to a sudden death," said Tan, who said he was not aware of the ban. "I marketed it as a pet, a nice little thing you can carry around and play with," he said.

Link Discuss Read the rest

Terminator 3: more robots ready to kick your ass

Speaking of deadly machines: the new trailer for Terminator III is chock full of aggro-robot glamor. Movie hits theaters in July, 2003. Link (QuickTime) Discuss Read the rest

Wiley Wiggins' Solarcon-6

Wiley sez, "Alt-X publishing has just put up my first free e-book of short story-blobs, Solarcon-6."
Green metal fingernails of the mommy-robot awake larvae at 9:00 am with digital alarm-clock eyes and grubs begin feeding, still in the dark since they do not yet have eyes and the mommy robot sees by infrared. Heat signatures of the larvae show their gender and age as they slurp regurgitated protein with soft translucent mandibles. The retarded boy got his back cursed in a game of tug-o-war and now his skin is rotting at such a young age, he looks so becoming in his safety helmet... The secrets of Mexican cooking so close at hand. A man with iron-straight pant-legs like PVC pipes cuts names from roll-call sheets. He is an island of dignity in a hive of rotting, mutated children and grubs.
Link Discuss (Thanks, Wiley!) Read the rest

Martial Arts robot created in China, now ready to kick your ass

Anybody got photos? China's state-run news agency is reporting that a group of Beijing scientists have created a 5.18-foot, 167-pound robot that can perform T'ai Chi, the traditional Chinese martial art of "shadow boxing."
The robot named BHR-1 passed appraisal on Saturday as a major project for the Beijing University of Science and Engineering under China's High and New Technology Research and Development Program...BHR-1 had 32 joints from head to foot which made it move properly, said Professor Li Kejie, chief scientist in charge of the project at the university. It can walk with 33cm steps at a speed of 1kph, he said. The robot is able to walk and play tai chi and can also sense changing ground levels and balance itself, Li said.

Li added that this type of robot would be able to take over some dangerous jobs from humans.

Such as, what, bodyguard? Personal yakuza? Robot-assassin?

Link, and another Link from Xinhua News Agency in China. Discuss Read the rest

Future of Music Policy Summit returns to D.C. this week

The annual forward-thinking music summit known to regulars as "FOMC" will return to the nation's capital in just five days. What other industry gathering brings together artists as diverse as Joan Jett, Ian MacKaye (Fugazi, fmr. Minor Threat), Vernon Reed, Doug E. Fresh, Bob Mould (fmr. Husker Du), Patti Smith and Lester Chambers (Chambers Bros.)? In addition to their participation in the three-day dialogue--covering everything from compulsory licenses to P2P filesharing to copy-protected CDs--many artists will also perform free concerts at the Kennedy Center on Saturday and Sunday evenings. FOMC co-founder Brian Zisk writes:
"No longer will corporate media and big money frame the terms of the discussion as we draw together the strongest voices in the Internet and independent music community to reframe these questions with a clear-eyed focus on the interests of the artists."

The non-profit Future of Music Coalition is putting on the third annual Future of Music Policy Summit in Washington D.C. January 5-7. It's a forum where those whose lives have impact on musicians come together to discuss the future, present and past, in front of hundreds of those who this debate most impacts, musicians themselves. It helps set the legislative agenda regarding issues which will affect musicians for the upcoming year.

Senators, Congressmen, FCC Commissioners, Copyright Office officials, Technology Folks, Consumer Advocates, Publishers, Label Folks, Academics, Reporters, Music Lovers, and many others will be coming together, as well as hundreds of musicians... Hope to see you there!

Link Discuss Read the rest

Ex-Navy-man hunts son's killers with private army

Amazing story of an ex-MarineNavy-man (thanks, Stefan!) whose son was beaten to death by Nazi skinheads while waiting for a cab outside of a bar they'd been ejected from. The father has assembled a private army of ex-Marines, PIs and bouncers from his nightclubs and is hunting down the men who killed his son, confronting them and turning them over to the cops.
Ten days ago, he caught his first. After two months of working the phones, huddling with private investigators, directing his squad of ex-Marines and security guards from the Arizona nightclubs he owns, Cole Sr. tracked down Chris Whitley, a 24-year-old white supremacist.

Through go-betweens, Cole Sr. sent Whitley an ominous message: Surrender or face a father's wrath.

So, days before Christmas, in a bizarre confrontation, Whitley met with Cole Sr. at a Phoenix coffee shop.

"It was one of the hardest and strangest things I've done in my life," Cole Sr. says. The grief-stricken father sat directly across from his son's suspected killer, whose face and head are covered with tattoos.

Link Discuss Read the rest

Chat as a side-channel for face-to-face meetings

Clay Shirky's written up some findings from a brainstorming session he hosted in NYC last month that I attended. The meeting was a face-to-face affair, but virtually every attendee had a laptop with an WiFi card, and Clay set up a web-based chat for us to play with while we talked. A giant display at the front of the room showing the running chatter, and it created a really dense dialog that was very fun and productive.
Group conversations are exercises in managing interruptions. When someone is speaking, the listeners are often balancing the pressure to be polite with a desire to interrupt, whether to add material, correct or contradict the speaker, or introduce an entirely new theme. These interruptions are often tangential, and can lead to still more interruptions or follow-up comments by still other listeners. Furthermore, conversations that proceed by interruption are governed by the people best at interrupting. People who are shy, polite, or like to take a moment to compose their thoughts before speaking are at a disadvantage.

Even with these downsides, however, the tangents can be quite valuable, so if an absolute "no interrupt" rule were enforced, at least some material of general interest would be lost, and the frustration level among the participants consigned solely to passive listening would rise considerably.

The chat room undid these effects, because participants could add to the conversation without interrupting, and the group could pursue tangential material in the chat room while listening in the real room. It was remarkable how much easier it was for the speaker to finish a complex thought without being cut off.

Read the rest

Safe hex for 2003

Ten reasons why 2003 should be the year that we all switch to secure computing alternatives:
* The use of Web bugs is up 500%. Switch to a free browser such as Mozilla that can be configured to expire all cookies when you close your browser and refuse all cookies coming from domains other than the one you're visiting.

* Windows XP is full of security holes that make life easier for those who would snoop on you. Time to get off the Microsoft bandwagon and switch to Linux, FreeBSD, or Mac OS-X. God knows what horrors the NSA will stick into the next version of Windows.

* Unrelated lawsuits. Get sued or get arrested for one thing, have your computer impounded, who knows what other questionable things might be found? Remember: It's not whether you're innocent or guilty, it's whether the district attorney can make a jury believe that you're guilty.

Link Discuss (Thanks, Zed!) Read the rest

Cellular companies sucked hard in 2002

Cellular Telephone companies in Washinton generated more consumer complaints than any other industry in the state.
"What really roped me in was the fact that I could cancel anytime" during a three-month "free trial" period, Aberg recalled. "I came to find that just was not the case at all."

In her complaint to the attorney general, Aberg noted that after becoming disillusioned with the service, she tried on numerous occasions to cancel before the trial period was over.

But she "could not get through because I was repeatedly put on hold for OVER 45 minutes. I then submitted e-mails to Qwest to request the phones be deactivated well within the allotted time period," Aberg said in her complaint.

Link Discuss Read the rest

Peanuts Tarot Deck

Brilliant, hilarious, masterful re-envisioning of the classic Rider-Waite tarot deck -- populated with Peanuts characters. Features Peppermint Pattie as the Empress, Lucy as High Priestess, Linus as the Hierophant, and Charlie Brown in a variety of roles throughout both the Major and Minor Arcana. The artist Valerian pleads online, "Don't sue me," and offers this explanation of the offbeat project:
An absurd, heretical, really cool view of an ancient ritual of divination... This is a joke. Six-year-old suburban kids enacting adult emotions and situations, breaking them down and magnifying them into hilarious crumbs of childhood experience... ­ tragedy, pain, and measured triumph. With children as protagonists and innocent humor as the disarming tool, the emotions are simplified and magnified (as are the physical features of each cartoon drawing) and the exchanges between the children become both an ironic parody of adult emotions, and an impossibly close and meditative study of them.
Link Discuss (Thanks, Matt!) (via Journalista) Read the rest

Study: Internet now a mainstream info utility for Americans

A new study scheduled for release Monday reveals that more Americans than ever before now use the 'Net to obtain info on government services, shopping, and healthcare. The Pew Internet and American Life Project report goes even further, stating that "abundant evidence [exists] that the Internet is now the primary means by which many people get key information." Or, to compress all 17 pages to one short blurb: "Most expect to find key information online, most find the information they seek, many now turn to the Internet first."


With over 60 percent of Americans now having Internet access and 40 percent of Americans having been online for more than three years, the Internet has become a mainstream information tool. Its popularity and dependability have raised all Americans' expectations about the information and services available online. When they are thinking about health care information, services from government agencies, news, and commerce, about two-thirds of all Americans say that they expect to be able to find such information on the Web. Internet users are more likely than non-users to have high expectations of what will be available online, and yet even 40 percent of people who are not Internet users say they expect the Web to have information and services in these essential online arenas.

For information or services from a government agency, 65 percent of all Americans expect the Web to have that information. (...) in the realm of electronic commerce, 63 percent of all Americans expect that a business will have a Web site that gives them information about a product they are considering buying.

Read the rest

Portland airport debacle still being investigated by bloggers

The bloggers at Silflay Hraka are following up on the "Coffee, Tea, or Should We Feel Your Pregnant Wife's Breasts Before Throwing You in a Cell at the Airport and Then Lying About Why We Put You There?" that swept through Blogistan last week. They've gotten some pretty generic responses from the Portland airport cops, an offer from a law prof to take on the guy's case, and lots more. Link, Link Discuss (Thanks Mitch!) Read the rest

Jimi Hendrix: "Sing sloppy and have a good beat to your songs"

An excerpt from a letter Jimi Hendrix sent his father in 1965:
Nowadays people don't want you to sing good. They want you to sing sloppy and have a good beat to your songs. That's what angle I'm going to shoot for. That's where the money is. So just in case about three or four months from now you might hear a record by me which sounds terrible, don't feel ashamed, just wait until the money rolls in because every day people are singing worse and worse on purpose and the public buys more and more records.
Link Discuss (Thanks, Scott!) Read the rest

Jamming civilian GPS

The new Phrack has an interesting piece on GPS jamming. I'm no radio engineer, but this seems pretty plausible to me. When civilian GPS got its accuracy bump a couple years back, I remember reading a lot of reports that the military could selectively jam GPS, so that their opponents wouldn't get positional data, but US troops would. This is part of the premise of a story I finished rewriting the other day, about Open Spectrum guerrillas:
Lee-Daniel went out with a crew that Elaine was leading, up on the northern border of the sovereign. She had two junior surveyors with her, all of them loaded with positioning gear that tied into Galileo, the European GPS network -- the Galileo gear cost a fortune, but they'd found that their American GPS kit often mysteriously stopped working when they were working on projects in the territorial USA. They'd ordered the Euro stuff from a bunch of anti-globalization activists who'd found that the same thing happened in any city hosting an economic summit. Europeans were more likely to treat infrastructure as sacrosanct, while the US was only too happy to monkey with GPS for tactical reasons. The Series A man hated the expense of the Galileo gear, hated paying off crusty-punk Starbucks-smashers for critical tools, hated the optics of looking like a bunch of anarchists instead of a spunky startup.
Seems a little more plausible in light of this:
A low cost device to temporarily disable the reception of the civilian course acquisition (C/A) code used for the standard positioning service (SPS)[1] on the Global Positioning System (GPS/NAVSTAR) L1 frequency of 1575.42 MHz.
Read the rest

Harpo Marx, G-Man

Harpo Marx was an undercover agent for J. Edgar Hoover, running secret documents out of the Soviet Union.
One letter from the FBI archives, signed by Hoover in 1949, congratulates Harpo on his "loyal past services" to his country.

Hoover hoped they might meet in the near future, saying: "There may be ways that you can help your country again."

Link Discuss (via MeFi) Read the rest

Paranoid Flash rant

Wild Oliver-Stone-conspiracy-rant as a crazy Flash movie, "documenting" the connections between Hailburton, Disney, the bin Laden family, American Airlines and everyone else. Link Discuss (Thanks, Danny!) Read the rest

More posts