Oct 21, 2000

VoteAuction closes down
Political Speech10/21/2000; 1:26:49 PM 'Most important, he said, neither he nor Austrian owner Hans Bernhard -- who declined comment when contacted Friday -- ever intended to go through with actually trafficking the votes bought and sold. '"It was never my intent to sell votes," Baumgartner said. "And it was clear when I was setting it up with Hans that he and I had the same principles in mind. We were both doing this as a political satire or media intervention kind of thing."'Maybe it's just me, but satire ought to be clearly labelled. Some satire is so satirical that it sort of labels itself... but if you've got a site that claims to be doing good business in something as illegal as vote trafficking, and shows no hint of humor or amusement, then you better be labelling the site as satire before you get convicted of a crime. I'm certainly still open to the idea that profit was the intent and it simply failed to gain any.

Oct 21, 2000

Where Did They Go: Third Voice
Website Annotation10/21/2000; 11:50:09 AM Fortune is running a Where Did They Go? piece on Third Voice.'Last year, a Silicon Valley company called Third Voice made a sudden and very loud splash in the technology press with an application that let Web surfers annotate Web pages with "sticky notes." Third Voice (the name of the application as well as the company) was supposed to turn static Web pages into interactive forums. Disagree with something you read on the Web? By using Third Voice, you could post your opinion to the site on a virtual Post-It that other Third Voice users could see and respond to. Have an opinion about a presidential candidate, a new handheld computer or an art exhibit? Just write a note and start a discussion....''Detractors called it graffiti--some Website creators didn't want their pages overwhelmed by yellow notes.'Actually, as one of the larger (louder?) detractors, "graffiti" is one of the nicer words I had for Third Voice.Anyhow, the ruckus and noise didn't hurt them one bit; as the article alludes to, after they "monetized" the service by jamming shopping links into every web page you visit, nobody cared to use the product anymore. In hindsight, I think the service was doomed anyhow; the initial rush looked large, but it petered out after a few thousand users (only a handful of which ever actually posted anything). On the grand scale of things, that's nothing.Third Voice was slick, and there's even slicker stuff out there, but none of it is succeeding, even with huge free marketing boosts from the tech press. I think Website Annotation has been proven to be a dead technology. Nobody cares enough. There are probably more weblogs already then Third Voice users, and I think that the weblogs are more promising anyhow on all counts. The weblog craze may be over, but they're really just beginning to get going.(See Weblog Communities.)

Oct 19, 2000

SDMI Beat Goes On
Music & MP3
10/19/2000; 4:27:20 PM

Cracked or not? The SDMI saga continues. from Salon and a back-up article from The Register: SDMI hack: the 'golden ears' ride to the rescue. The Salon article contains further quote from one of the original sources and The Register has some backup info.

The Register seems confused about what a "golden ears" is. A "golden ears" is a person with highly trained hearing. Babies have to learn how to see, and how to break their visual input into discrete objects, because your eye mostly percieves just an array of colors.  Your ears had to be trained the same way. There is a much wider array of skill in ear-usage, because hearing tends to not be so importent on a day to day basis. Basically, a golden ears would be able to hear the distortions in the music with great accuracy. For the most part, anyone with good hearing in both ears can become a golden ears just be expending the necessary effort.

The most interesting quote from my point of view is from the original source:

'The key is how "success" is defined. In this case, the attacked samples have been 1) run through a watermark detector to ensure that the watermark was removed, and 2) subjected to preliminary listening tests performed by "golden ears" listeners to ensure that each attacked sample still sounded better than a 64 kbps MP3 file.'

Frankly, a 64kbps music file is not very good. The SDMI requirements are quite high, to encode something that will do that much damage to the music when removed.

Oct 19, 2000

Congressional panel says no to filters
Free Speech
10/19/2000; 3:53:17 PM

'A commission created by Congress to study ways to protect children online will advise against requiring public schools and libraries to use filtering software, even as lawmakers in the waning days of the legislative session consider mandating the use of such tools.'

What does this mean? I think it means that if you sit down with rational people and explain the state-of-the-art in filter software, rational people do not find it acceptable. This is a promising sign in some remote way; so little thought has been going on and so much opining that I sieze upon this sign of intelligent life from Congress.

Oct 18, 2000

Letter on Council of Europe Convention on Cyber-Crime
10/18/2000; 2:59:45 PM

Link from Privacy Digest.

The letter criticizes many aspects of the cyber-crime treaty. I think the key objection is summed up in this objection to the extreme criminalization of copyright infringement:

'New criminal penalties should not be established by international convention in an area where national law is so unsettled.'

It's about five years too early (number pulled from the air) for this sort of comprehensive treaty. The countries need time to come to grips with the problem and learn what solutions work and what don't. Doing something like this, big and massive and universal, so soon is a sure-fire recipe for causing big and massive and universal disaster.

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