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Saturday 5 May 2001, 23:30 BST
Cadge Cinema. Good, nasty Flash fun. [Via MetaFilter]
Linus Torvalds is unimpressed by Microsoft's latest attack on the GPL (and, by implication, Linux). Whether being right will be enough remains to be seen... [Via rc3.org]
The Parabounce: just don't use it in the vicinity of overhead power lines. [Via Frownland]
The Register reports that AOL may not go quietly into the wonderful world of Windows XP and Microsoft .NET. I'm not sure this'll turn out to be much more than a bargaining chip between Microsoft and AOL over the ability of OEMs to install AOL software on machines for that oh-so-vital "out of the box experience." Somehow I can't see AOL and their fellow rebels replacing Windows XP with, say, Linux. That'd work if you're selling servers to businesses, but the home and office desktop markets are way too wedded to Windows to accept anything else any time soon.
The Smitten Mitten. Awwwwww... [Via allura ellington]
Friday 4 May 2001, 23:59 BST
I've just got back from seeing Bridget Jones's Diary. Renée Zellweger really nailed the title role, and Hugh Grant's utter shit of a boss was good value. Recommended for anyone looking for an undemanding but very funny night at the flicks.

One of the trailers tonight was for The Mummy Returns: as it happens, web-goddess Kris pointed me to Roger Ebert's hilarious scathing review of said sequel.
Andrew Leonard thinks that Microsoft's latest attack on the concept of the GPL is a sign that they see Open Source software as a serious barrier to their attempt to extend their dominance of the desktop to the internet. I'm sure he's right that such attacks will only strengthen the determination of Open Source developers to keep right on plugging away, but I'm not sure that's really the most important factor.

Ultimately Microsoft's ability to "seamlessly" integrate their OS with their market-dominating productivity software will make far more difference to corporations for whom the internet is a means to an end rather than the core of their business. Microsoft don't need to actually wipe out all competition to thrive; at this stage they just need to capture enough business custom to establish credibility.
The US Army is to introduce environmentally-friendly bullets. A truly surreal concept. [Via a fire inside]
Southern Caskets Direct, Inc. I just love their Masterpiece Series. So tasteful. [Via Bifurcated Rivets]
Thursday 3 May 2001, 23:00 BST
This page has a little bit of something for everyone, images-wise. It takes a while to load because there are a lot of largeish images on the page, but it's worth it. My favourites were the fat cat, the biker's "If you can read this..." T-shirt and the very last image on the page. [Via orbyn.com]
The Swiss Federal Office of Public Health presents: Catch The Sperm. I dread to think where the sequel will be set... [Via MetaFilter]
CNet has a worthwhile article contrasting the generally successful efforts of organisations like the EFF and the ACLU to fight US court cases defending free speech online with their string of failures in cases revolving around intellectual property issues in digital media.

Writer Lisa M Bowman wonders whether part of the problem is when it comes to free speech issues it was possible to bring various stalwart public figures like librarians forward to testify that their rights were being trampled, whereas cases around technologies like DeCSS or Napster are defended by hackers who may not appear to be terribly mainstream types, thereby allowing opposing attorneys to paint the "problem" as one which only affects marginal figures who don't appeal to mainstream Americans.

The obvious, logical answer is to decry this proposition, to argue that hackers have civil rights too regardless of how they appear. The trouble is, Bowman has a point. Given that the IP issues tend to involve enormously rich multinational firms with deep pockets and huge PR operations, winning the sympathy of more obviously mainstream citizens (who will both sit on juries and get to elect politicians who will in turn try to pass laws) is a real issue. It shouldn't be, but it is.

Having said that, it's also fair to say that a major reason for the different outcomes is that in America free speech issues have long been taken seriously, whereas digital intellectual property issues are still a fairly new area and the firms whose profit margins are threatened have managed to get laws passed which may even criminalise attempts to undermine their IP-protection strategies. Still, it's early days yet: this battle isn't over by a long chalk. [Via Techdirt]
I really hope that the conclusions reported in this article are utterly wrong. [Via Haddock.org]
Are you a Sad (Male) Sci Fi Fan? With a score of 28, it would seem that I am. I can take some comfort that that was 28 out of a possible 120, so there are clearly many considerably more obsessed types than yours truly. (I wonder what score Greg Knauss would get in the light of his latest posting to An Entirely Other Day?) [SeeThru quiz via plasticbag.org]
Is anyone really surprised at this "news"? [Via linkmachinego]
Wednesday 2 May 2001, 23:35 BST
<dubya>That'll put those damn Chinese in their place!</dubya> [Via MetaFilter]
What happens if you win the National Lottery but can't produce with the winning ticket? The Guardian tells the story of Martyn and Kay Tott, who spent seven weeks waiting to find out the answer to that question and now feel that it was unfair for them to have been put through the mill as Camelot's head of security considered their case and sought clarification from the lottery regulator as to whether they could allow the Totts to have the prize.

What amazes me is that Camelot even entertained the possibility of paying out without a ticket. Why on earth would they want to open that whole can of worms? [Via linkmachinego]
The Art of Kissing. No comment required, I think... [Via MISCmedia]
Christian conservatives in Washington state have blocked a bill aimed at discouraging bullying and harrassment in schools, partly because they feel that it might impede the right to denounce homosexuality and the training for teachers which was part of the package of measures could lead to reasoned, sensitive discussions of issues around gay rights and coming out and so on.

Now all this is fascinating to students of American culture, but not directly relevant to Britons. However, I mention it because the discussion of this topic at Plastic gave rise to this hilarious Memo from Jesus. [Via Plastic]
10 Laws of Bad Science Fiction:
3) Appearance supersedes function and reality. Or in simple terms, if it looks or sounds funky, it makes sense. NOTE: This is the MOST IMPORTANT rule of not only bad science fiction, but also "soft" SF like Star Wars and Star Trek, and pseudo-science fiction (which is any non-science fiction story with science fiction elements thrown on top of it for window dressing, like "The Jetsons". More on that another time.) It's not necessarily a bad rule. Someone once told George Lucas that there were no sound effects in airless outer space. Today Mr. Lucas owns a multi-million dollar entertainment enterprise, while that other person runs a moisture evaporator on Tattooine.

One notable corollary to Law #3 is that there is no such thing as a small explosion.
[Via BBspot]
Tuesday 1 May 2001, 23:25 BST
The Case For Jamie Oliver. Nope, sorry, still can't stand him. [Via plasticbag.org]
Drug-Affected Baby. Nice. [Via blogjam]
Accidents will happen. Ouch!
Divx was an alternative DVD format which one of the big American retailers tried to introduce a couple of years ago. The key feature of the format was that disks could only be played when the player dialled up a server operated by a company which collected a per-play fee in return for sending a signal authorising the disk to release its content. The scheme died after a fairly short lifespan, but it's in the news now because the billing server at the heart of the scheme is about to close down, thereby rendering every Divx disk ever produced unplayable.

Divx never took off in the UK, but I think its passing is worth noting because if the desire of software suppliers to move us all over to a system whereby we rent our software and don't have a copy of the program resident on our desktop PCs this is exactly the sort of problem we could face software-wise. Not a pretty picture. Granted, there are plenty of "orhpaned" pieces of software out there, but at least where you have a copy on your PC it'll keep running and allow you to at least try to move your data and systems over to an alternative piece of software. [Via Techdirt]
The World's First Global Duck Race. Neat, but a tad silly too. [Via Grayblog]
I Have No Attorney and I Must Scream. Heh...
The Hollywood Nudity Contract. The sad thing is that this sort of thing is necessary. I wonder whether any big name actors have such detailed contracts? [Via SeeThru Weblog]
The Earth Is Not Moving. A classic net.kook. [Via Bifurcated Rivets]
Impersonate Tiger Woods, get 200 years in jail. I don't care if it was his "third strike," this is ludicrous. [Via MetaFilter]
British racism - a new original sin. Frank Furedi thinks that New Labour's brand of racial sensitivity is going to cause as many problems as it resolves.
Monday 30 April 2001, 23:25 BST
Dan Bricklin ponders the similarity between pamphleteering and writing personal web pages.
June Thomas shares her thoughts on the right way to Americanise a British TV show. [Via The View From Here]
Privacy statements aren't worth the pixels they're written on. Brock N Meeks proves it. [Via CamWorld]
Attention all Deja Doomsayers: Google has restored the archives all the way back to 1995 and started improving the web-based interface, with more improvements promised. Of course, access to six years-worth of archives isn't always a boon: as one prominent Google critic noted:
"Google certainly did optimize the search function, and I have found all the posts I made when I was 18. I cannot believe what an absolute, utter asshole I was back then."
Large-scale, Global Anti-capitalism Protests Putting Smaller, Local, Anti-capitalism Protests Out Of Business. Damn! [Via Pigs & Fishes]
Sometimes You Need a Story: American Christianity, Vampires and Buffy. Well worth a look. (Warning:- the article contains a major season 5 spoiler for BBC viewers of the show.)
Show and Tell: loving the book and the film. Why it's absurd to assume that film can't capture what makes a novel special, by Charles Taylor. He's right, of course: films may have to streamline the plot, but that doesn't mean they can't communicate the spirit of the piece.

Two examples. My favourite film - 2001: A Space Odyssey - works even better on screen that it does on paper. My second-favourite film, The Right Stuff, is a triumphant adaptation of one of the most entertaining pieces of new journalism ever; at once a terrific depiction of heroism and a delightful look at the absurdities of the space race.(Warning:- this article also contains a major season 5 spoiler for BBC viewers of the show. The same one as the above item, actually. It's a biggie.)
This year's Nebula Awards Winners have been announced. It's good to see an online publication (Goddesses by Linda Nagata) pick up an award, and even more gratifying to see Galaxy Quest win still more acclaim.
While I'm on the subject of science fiction, Science Fiction Weekly has an interview with eminent critic and novelist Algis Budrys.
Lego Porn. Oh my... [Via Haddock.org]
Century Training. That boy doesn't look natural, dammit! [Via pie in the sky]
The Tacky Postcard Archive. Is it just me, or does this figure bear a striking resemblance to William Hague? [Via pop culture junk mail]
Zoom in from orbit. (NB/- 4MB Mpeg file.) Once again, all my geek buttons have been pressed at once. [Via Bebabo]
Implementing RFC1149. Cool. [Via Yet Another Web Log]
NASA reestablishes contact with Pioneer 10. It's been out there for 29 years, and it's 7.29 billion miles from home. [Via MetaFilter]
A pretty decent article on the way the internet has nurtured the fanfic phenomenon. [Via Windowseat Weblog]

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