Oct 17, 2000

LinkBack Computer is Broken
LinkBack10/17/2000; 9:43:38 AM The computer the linkback program was running on has had a hard drive failure. The system will be down indefinately, I don't really have the money to replace the drive.My apologies to everybody who was using it.The good news is that I've backed the database up and haven't lost anything. That computer's been giving me trouble for a while. It's been making odd beeping noises. I guess now I know why.

Oct 16, 2000

New Story: What is iRights?
10/16/2000; 5:54:08 PM

As a result of looking at why people are coming here, I see the need for a What is iRights page?  If you are also on or, and your site is large enough and interesting enough that it might attract search engine hits, I'd recommend doing something similar for your site.

I'll let you know if people actually visit it after search requests or not

Oct 16, 2000

Congress weighing Internet filtering for schools, libraries
Free Speech
10/16/2000; 2:12:31 PM

'Four Republicans are promoting legislation that would force schools and libraries to use Internet filtering software or lose federal dollars intended to help buy Web access. The effort is alienating civil liberties groups, conservatives and industry executives....'

'Introduced in the Senate by Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Rick Santorum, R-Pa., the plan is attached to an appropriations bill that could get a final vote this week. Reps. Ernest Istook, R-Okla., and Charles Pickering, R-Miss., are behind the effort in the House.

'"This is insuring that the government is not paying for access to pornography through libraries," said Istook's chief of staff, John Albaugh. "We have received tremendous support from the public on this. It just seems like it's a no-brainer to the average Joe."'

Unfortunately, this is a case of lying to the average Joe. The government will be telling the average Joe that now your children can't access pornography, and presumably that it won't affect any other aspect of the Internet. Neither of these clauses is true. Mandating incredibly faulty (and in fact impossible to build) software is a bad idea.

'Mandatory filtering opponents say the filters are imperfect and frequently fail to block pornography. Sometimes, they say, the filters reflect a political view. At various times, filters have blocked sites that cater to gays and lesbians as well as conservative sites that contain language hostile to homosexuals.'

"Sometimes the filters reflect a political view" is incorrect. Filters always reflect a political view. The decision to censor a site catering to gays and lesbians is an inherently political decision... each side may claim that their position is the only natural one, but frankly, both are wrong. Whether or not to expose children (or adults) is a political decision, regardless of your opinions on the topic.

Madating these filters is mandating their politics. This does not belong in our schools.

Oct 16, 2000

New radio software: the legal Napster?
Music & MP3
10/16/2000; 9:21:10 AM

'Some new fancy software from may mean you'll never have to pay for your favourite songs again. And the good thing is that it's perfectly legal....

'Tracks are recognised by referring to a station's playlist and using some digital sound recognition software. From that point you'll have a list of artists' tracks and song titles which can be jiggled around as you fancy. Save or delete them or put a ban on artists you want nothing to do with. Logan is also working on a find feature - only trouble is you'll have to wait until that song is broadcast before you can get it.'

There are a large number of radio stations on the net. This will eventually allow you to obtain most anything if the system gets going well enough.

Isn't this absurd? If two people own the exact same music file, one recording/downloading from an online radio station and the other getting a copy of the file from Napster (which the first person was sharing), it's legal for the first but not for the second? How can you tell? Source has factored in to whether a copy is legal or not before, but it's become impossible to tell whether something is "original" or something is "copied".

Compare this to another Register article today, 'This music will self destruct in 5 plays: RIAA looks to the future', particularly this quote:

'We should however note that the legal toleration of home taping for personal use is a major obstacle for the recording industry's efforts to police copyright. If copying was just plain illegal, as with other software, their lives would be a lot simpler. So go figure.'

Expect the RIAA to fight this. If this is labelled "legal", then they'll have to worry about a service that listens for you, allows you to request a song, records it (in high quality from participating stations!), and allows you to pick it up later. An awful lot like Napster, except that music quality will be high, minus some annoying DJ time...

Quickly, I've got to patent this! (Probably too late anyhow...)

Oct 16, 2000

SDMI Not Hacked! Maybe!
Music & MP3
10/16/2000; 9:11:37 AM

'''When a publication makes such a completely wrong, unfounded, anonymous slander, I think it deserves a very strong answer,'' Chariglione told Inside, referring to a report appearing on Thursday citing anonymous sources that claimed each of the six technologies offered up for hacking by the SDMI had been compromised. ''It's simply not true, because we, ourselves, don't have that information. We have about 450 files, with 450 descriptions of methods -- you know, our testing managing committee started working on this Wednesday morning, and it's simply impossible to say whether this is true or this is false. Nobody knows! And when I say nobody, I mean nobody, because it's 450 music files that have yet to be tested.'''

Perhaps an anonymous source jumped the gun and incorrectly assumed that 450 entries means at least one of them must be good. (Not true.)

Or, given the way beauracracies work, the anonymous source may have already unofficially evaluated the entries, found that all encryption techniques are broken, and there simply hasn't been any official analysis of the results, which could actually be a meeting to try to do some damage control.

I find it hard to believe that there hasn't been somebody unofficially evaluating these things as they come in. While I understand the SDMI-the-group would absolutely not release anything officially this early, these kinds of groups want as much knowlege in advance as possible before dealing with the public, you can rely on that. I do not think that the anonymous source has been completely discredited by this rebuttal.

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