Wow. ASSEMBLY 2002. I remember wishing I could go to ASM94 or so.... now that sucker has sponsors like nVidia, Cisco and Nokia. Guess the demoscene is more than still alive, it's got serious :)

Ask Slashdot | Motivating Your Co-Developers? poses the question of what to do when the rest of your work team isn't firing on all cylinders. Reading through it's already mentioned extreme programming and the inevitable periods of low productivity that everyone experiences from time to time. The Joel on Software article is a good reality check - I have days where I just can't get motivated, but the work gets done in the end. Often I'll come in the next day feeling sort of annoyed about the wasted day; and work full tilt until chucking-in time... I guess it's just that ultimately the work must be done, well, on time. A slow day here and there doesn't mean anything, humans aren't machines and it shows.

Hooray! Odd Todd has been cleared of all charges. The Judge found that the website was not a self-employment or money-making scheme; rather it was simply a lark which turned into something lucrative. Hence he was still actually "totally unemployed" and doesn't have to pay back the unemployment benefits he had received, while, well, unemployed.

I am a poet, according to the Whats your writing style? test. I know that rhyming isnt everything, and I use my talent to explore my mind's deepest and often the most eccentric corners, instead of focusing on the bad like so many angsty teenagers. Oh, and girls (as well as femmy guys) really go for my poetry...

Ottawa man convicted for selling PlayStation 'mod chips'. It seems from this article that he was also selling pirate games, which is what probably did it. As far as I'm aware, it's still legal to modify the PSX/PS1/PS2.... all you're doing is invalidating the warranty. It's the pirate games themselves which are illegal. It's like selling "ornamental" bongs; until they're actually used to consume drugs they're just a kind of pipe.

Could Hollywood hack your PC? WASHINGTON--Congress is about to consider an entertainment industry proposal that would authorize copyright holders to disable PCs used for illicit file trading. ... (T)he measure would permit copyright holders to perform nearly unchecked electronic hacking.

BBC NEWS | Science/Nature | Space rock 'on collision course'. Duck. Apparently it's not time to get nervous yet; but I have to wonder what they'd actually do if this thing turned out to be heading right for us. Trying to blow it up with a dirty great nuke does not seem like a good idea to me, since it sounds like Earth would probably orbit through the (radioactive) debris sooner or later. Besides; blowing it up would just make a whole of smaller rocks coming right for us, wouldn't it? Cosmic buckshot...

nb: yeah i know, in space "close" means one thing is within several hundred thousand kms of another thing.

MS Word 2000 is offensive to lesbians, according to an annoyed geologist. Essentially the grammar checker automatically assumes "dyke" is supposed to mean "lesbian" as opposed to any of the legitimate forms of the word. In Word 2000, if you type "the dykes which cut the granite are 2m wide," the grammar checker will change it to "the dykes who cut the granite are 2m wide."

Slashdot | ISO Could Withdraw JPEG Standard - a quick roundup for those who haven't heard about the issue; plus the latest development. It seems that ISO is prepared to withdraw JPEG as a standard if Forgent Networks keeps trying to screw people for cash. Apparently the 20 royalty-free years before their attempt violates ISO terms - ie. you can't do that and keep the standard. - Internet extends long arm of the law - July 22, 2002. Italian police shut down web sites hosted in America. This shitfight has been brewing for years - who has jurisdiction? Whose laws apply? Does one nation have any right to shut down communications coming out of another nation? Who the hell has any real rights left anyway?

I've been scoffed at for posing the hypothetical: What if you posted something innocent on your locally-hosted website which was a deadly insult, an offense legally punishable by death, in another country you've never even heard of? If you've published something which is legal in the place you live; does someone from another place have any right to take action under their laws?

Research: File Traders Buy Records. A quick sample of this excellent article:

The true nature of statistics is that they can be interpreted to support disparate conclusions. Here are my personal interpretations of Edison Research's results. Feel free to make your own analysis.

*10.1% of 12-17-year-olds who actively download music from the Internet did not purchase a single CD or cassette in the last 12 months.

Or 90% 12-17-year-olds did purchase CDs even though they actively download music from the Internet. I always say: 85% of all statistics are made up. Of these, 95% could be used to prove whatever you want.

MACCAWS - Making A Commercial Case for Adopting Web Standards. A fledgling standards group, dedicated to collecting the kind of information you need to give your boss to convince them (and clients) that web standards are a Good Thing. not just that, but they're a good thing in business terms - bottom line; long-term benefits; accessibility considerations; etc.

This side of the standards battle is probably just as important as getting robust standards support in browsers. It's no good knowing how to create an entirely CSS-driven, accessible, standards-compliant website if your boss tells you to hack it 'til it looks the same in Netscape 4. At the end of the day; one of the biggest hurdles is getting people to stop expecting websites to behave like print documents - you do not have pixel-level control.

Music Industry Unveils Piracy-Proof Format We can state with absolute certainty that no computer in the world can access the data on this disc," said spokesman Brett Campbell. "We are also confident that no-one is going to be able to produce pirate copies in this format without going to a heck of a lot of trouble. This is without doubt the best anti-piracy invention the music industry has ever seen.

JPEGs are not free: Patent holder pursues IP grab. I don't know what to say, really. I guess legally they can do this; but I would have thought there would another law somwhere limiting how long you can wait to try this sort of thing. Basically it seems extremely dodgy to start suing for royalties; after more than a decade of allowing royalty-free use of JPGs (ie. simply not pursuing the royalties).

Blah. Seems that is still on holidays. Ever get the feeling a site's not coming back? It's still there... the pages are still hosted... but nobody's home. It's like the house across the road from my home, which was evacutated recently due to impending redevelopment. The metalheads are gone, leaving just the car they couldn't get started and what looks like a tumbleweed on the driveway. Amazing how an empty house even looks like an empty house.

Game publicity plan raises grave concerns... as does the irony of using a bad pun in the headline on this story. Basically computer game company Acclaim Entertainment has proposed a marketing ploy where new gravestones would have ads placed on them. As this article notes, it's probably motivated mainly by the desperate desire to one-up the next shock tactic; but even so they should have had enough brains to leave this idea well alone.

Who's Afraid of 1984? Well, me. I don't agree with this author's conclusions; since I think the spread of high-tech does put personal liberty and privacy at an extreme risk. We don't have especially private lives anymore - we are filmed when we go out; recorded when we ring people; anything we post on the net is available to the world and could remain so for decades (eg. newsgroup posts from years ago); banks record where we purchase goods, companies record exactly what we bought.... and in the middle of all this, the security of this sort of data is pitifully "secured" by organisations that care only for dollars. China is not proof that you can't stop technology - China is proof that you can censor even the most determined new technology. The people can fight back, but the fact is the goverment is (pretty openly) acting the same way Orwell's Big Brother behaved. When your privacy and freedom to access information are both curbed or denied; how can you say there is no risk to the individual?

This article proposes a counterpoint to my views; the author seems to have an incredible amount of trust in his government and all others in power. Many observations are true; but the conclusion...? You decide. That's the point.

Security industry's hacker-pipming slammed - the computer security industry is under fire for propagating unrealistic fears and "solutions" to security problems. What happened to information wants to be free? What about hacking to expose the dark secrets of a company that the public have a right to know; instead of hacking to get money from the company?

Wired 10.08: GM's Billion-Dollar Bet - claiming that they're making real progress on an alternate-fuel car. They reckon this one will be cheaper to make than a conventional car (and I'm just sure they'll pass on those savings to consumers...) and will generate more power than it uses. The excess could be piped back into your house - an interesting concept. I'll believe it when I see it. No, check that. I'll believe it when they are not only available; but I can afford to buy one.

An unlikely source of a decent solution regarding online file sharing... Springsteen Protects His New CD's Online in an Old-Fashioned Way. Bruce Springsteen (or his management, anyway) chose to keep preview copies of his latest album under lock and key, preventing the rogue previews that have plagued other bands. This is a great case of identifying the real issue - not that the album is shared, which has been happening since cassette tapes became available - but that the albums are getting out on the net before they're available in shops.

Let the screaming commence: New breed of TV ads popping up. Yeah. Popup ads for TV. Because viewers are daring to tune out of the 25% advertising they now call "entertainment". Not that it would occur to any of these morons that bombarding people with really shitty ads might be the problem - hurling more advertising at us won't help. One day they might figure out that what is successful is a well-made ad, that communicates its idea clearly and without insulting the viewer's intelligence.

Trendy sheep beware! Your loyalty to Macintosh can now be proved to be superficial bullshit. The next computer you think looks pretty might be a PC with a Mac case clone. You'll never tell the difference, especially if it's running Windows XP with that lollypop default theme. Don't worry, your iMac still wuvs you. - feature - THE DIGITAL DARK AGE. I've posted things along these lines before - what are we keeping? Think of it this way: you can keep a love letter, but what do you do with a sweet SMS from your significant other? We have minutes of social club meetings from decades ago; but entire communities have been created on the web that just faded away without a trace. Historians can only use the records that survive through time - so if we don't keep all this digital stuff somehow, some of the most influential events and developments of our lives will be lost in the mists of time.

A Linux user goes back - the other side of the equation. With so much hype about people going from Windows to Linux, this is a good read. The user states that they will go back to Linux one day; but not just yet for their desktop machine (servers/gateways etc - still linux).

Lilley Street's news section gets quote of the day: Now when a young girl tells me innocently "I like animals so I want to be a vet when I grow up" I shall tell them "I like to inject toxins into innocent suffering creatures to snuff the life out of them before casting them into an industrial strength incinerator so, I too, want to be a vet when I grow up.

NY Times (free reg required) - What if It's All Been a Big Fat Lie? Discusses the fat vs. carbohydrates issue - which one is actually bad for us? It exposes one of the great faillings of the scientific community - namely, that researches don't question the "facts" they are given, for fear of ridicule. Questioning what we know is supposed to be what scientists do - it's insane how political it is in reality.

There is now some actual research which shows that constant video gaming effects your brain. Not a big surprise, given that they classed "constant" as anything up to seven hours a day - you shouldn't need to be told at that point that you need to get out more. I'd be curious to know how this research translates to people who sit idly in front of television for similar amounts of time - many such people would consider themselves normal and gamers to be freaks.

Quake for the blind - it has been done. Basically by replacing visual cues with distinct audio cues, a blind player can get their own idea of what's going on using the senses they rely on. Most people just rely on sight. The company behind the game has also produced a poker game which has a complete audio interface. It's all good, particularly with the observation being made that the world is becoming extremely visual - placing the blind at a disadvantage while they wait for technology to catch up with equity.

Microwave melting of metals - a technique for casting bronze, silver gold etc using a domestic microwave as the heat source. Pretty freaky when you consider that these metals melt at temperatures like 1000degC. Puts a new spin on "warning: contents may be extremely hot"...

2002's entries into the 5k website competition are now available. These things are mind-blowing, reminds me of the work produced in the demoscene's 64k demo competitions. Basically it's all about using limitation to produce creative excellence.

Oh, if you thought that last one was picky... check out Typecasting, an article which rates movies' use of typefaces. To think, my girlfriend says that *I* am an obsessive font freak!