new york times stuff

For anyone who is wondering, the fifth Harry Potter book was great. Go read it :) An excellent article in the New York Times highlights some possible reasons for the success of HP... Harry Crushes the Hulk. The article goes on to discuss how HP's audience is far more sophisticated than media outlets realise; and draws some conclusions about preventing piracy by creating worthy content.

Much has been said about how the "Harry Potter" series, in less than five years, has brought kids, boys included, back to reading. But the phenomenon is about more than childhood literacy. The ravenous hunger for Ms. Rowling's novels shows that children are far more discerning than adults tend to give them credit for ...

In the new novel, Harry is 15. The readers who started with him five years ago have aged as well. These high school kids are at once the most prized and despised by our show-biz titans. They are prized because they are a demographic with disposable income and a boundless appetite for all forms of entertainment ... They are despised because of their wholesale theft of that industry's products.

How do all those lovely entertainment-seeking kids weaned on "Harry Potter" grow up to become thieves? ... There is no single explanation, of course, and there is no acceptable rationalization that can excuse theft. But it's no secret that music piracy spread as CD prices rose and teenagers were enraged to pay roughly the same price as a "Harry" hardcover for a dozen or so tracks of which 10 might be filler.

They may well be willing to pay for their entertainment - if the quality is guaranteed and the price is fair.

Also at the NYT... Is Google God? and will global communication mean that everyone will discover that everyone else hates America too?

Good stuff. If you don't have a NYT subscription, grab one and check it out.

Zeldman | Supremes blow it: bad filters are here to stay. The American Supreme Court has ruled that libraries must filter all net access. Although some libraries have had to do so already to stop people extensively browsing porn sites at library workstations; the general feeling is that filtering is much too unreliable for blanket implementation. But since the already cash-strapped libraries must comply to continue receiving funding, there's no question as to whether it will go ahead.


State of Origin roundup.... Queensland lost, ok. They were soundly beaten on the night and just never looked like winning. What does this mean? It means a team lost a game against another team. Does it mean you should sack the coach? No. Does it mean one player is to blame? No. Would it be fixed by refusing to select Broncos? No... but hey, suits me if the Broncos didn't get knobbled three rounds of the year due to players backing up from Origin matches.

  • Fans blame Ikin for Loss - pull your heads in you morons. The only guy quoted here worth listening to is this one.... The demoralising Queensland defeat also dominated the airwaves, although one caller to ABC radio in Brisbane named Darryl suggested people should stop whingeing. "Every time Queensland get beaten it's somebody else's fault," he said. "They just weren't up to the game."
  • Kennedy facing ban and quite rightly so.
  • Fans wonder where Harrigan and the touch judges were, since they sure weren't watching the game... although at least some just accepted it.
  • Sydney journalists crow sickeningly about the win. Roy Masters, you should be thumped for that piece. You're supposed to be a journo at work, not a sycophantic fan.
  • Other journos persist with using the word "whitewash". *sigh* losing badly is not a whitewash. A whitewash is when you cover something up. IDIOTS. Otherwise, the Courier-Mail's roundup is actually pretty reasonable :)

It's the old story: when the team wins, it's the players. When the team loses, it's the coach. You throw a side together in the middle of the regular season, sometimes they just don't gel as a team. The Maroons just didn't know where to find each other on the field, or who to pass to.... etc. The referee is known for his delight penalising Queensland players; and the Sydney touch judges continued the proud parochial tradition of doing everything bar wearing a blue jersey.

At the end of it all, Queensland got thumped and that's the story. There's Origin 3 to salvage some pride; and besides, there's always next year :)

slashdot bits

  • Slashdot | RIAA Not Done With Jesse Jordan. This is pretty cool on one hand: the RIAA sued a college student for creating a search engine which people could use to look for MP3s - that's like suing a road crew for creating something criminals can use. The guy lost his life savings in the settlement; but thanks to the net, people around the world have chipped in to restore the cash (note that others in the same case are still trying to recover the money they lost). This is great! :) It's just a pity that the RIAA have decided to harrass the guy some more.
  • Business 2.0 Magazine | The MP3 Economy: How labels and artists divvy up your MP3 dollar. Discusses how a US$1 download gets divvied up. On average, the artist gets 12 cents; the label gets 30 cents; and so on. To put it another way, if you ever saw your rock idol at a bar and you bought them a drink for $2.50 (I'm doing rough currency conversions here); that drink is worth a bit under 21 downloads. Buy them a top-shelf single malt and you can probably download their life's work.
  • Billboard | Top Artists Balking At A La Carte Downloads. Their fear is people will just buy the single and not the whole album. Considering exactly which artists are worried; I reckon they should just make sure there's no filler. Ever bought an album, only to discover that there's one good song and ten shit tracks? Or discovered the one song you like was a really big deviation from their ususal style? As for Radiohead's latest album, they've got bigger problems as far as alienating their fans goes. Besides that, if someone has never heard any of their work; letting them spend $1 on a download is more likely to lead to an album sale than, say, not letting them preview your work at all.
  • Mysterious Net traffic spurs code hunt.
  • Wired | Happy Birthday, Dear DNS

Quote of the day goes to Doc, the man behind The Whiteboard: [I]f you have any more complaints about this totally ad-free, banner-free, pop-up-free, paid-out-of-his-own-pocket, just-'cause-it's-fun comic strip, please feel free to go jam chopsticks in your ears. (quote from the FAQ)


a traditional pirate

You're the TRADITIONAL PIRATE. Stealing gold, backstabbing other pirates, being suspicious of everyone you meet, running from the law... you're the real thing. People don't like to mess with you because you always manage to get your way. Just watch out, those parrots can be a little messy sometimes....

What Kind of Pirate are You?

One quick gripe: if you make a quiz, include a see all results button you sodding sodding bollocking sods!

News bits...

Howard appoints tame military man as GG. Well ok that's my version of the headline. Basically Howard has chosen a guy who agrees with his views and is unlikely to do anything to offend anyone (even if he does, he'll probably smooth it over). A relatively safe choice; although it demonstrates again that Howard doesn't listen to anyone else's opinion. The new GG is noted as supporting Howard's (unpopular) stance about the war in Iraq; and I don't know that most people are particularly keen on having a military man as GG in the current world climate. *shrug* still better than bloody Hollingworth.

Court to rule if drunks can sue - The High Court heard on Friday that Ms Cole arrived at the leagues club for a champagne breakfast around 9.30am and began consuming free Spumante. She bought her last bottle from the bar at 12.30pm and was refused service about 3.30pm because she was drunk. She was ejected about 5.30pm but offered a taxi or bus home. She refused, left on foot and was struck by the car around 6.20pm. The club couldn't force her into a taxi; and they couldn't reasonably be expected to stop her obtaining more booze from somewhere else. There has to be a limit on the club's responsibility/liability. She didn't have to drink anything; she chose to get blotto.

Rare plane had curse. THE Australian War Memorial will today unveil a never-before displayed German Messerschmitt Bf-109. The World War II fighter plane is the only one in the world to still bear all its original paintwork. It also has carefully concealed graffiti from PoWs who built it. Most of the graffiti is a mystery of smudged crayon, but what can be made out is "extremely rude", said head aircraft conservator John White. I wonder what it says :)

Raptor III. Apparently it's a Suburban (SUV) with a gatling on the roof. As you do. Well, hell, all I can say is it's a good thing i don't have one; otherwise Coronation Drive would be a different place during peak hour. "Why hello officer, yes i know this is a transit lane; see here i have six passengers! Together they make up Mr Minigun! Mr Minigun wants to get to work now."

But wait! There's more! Complete with cheesy Flash :)

RISK 2210 A.D. ...hmmm. Much more complex than the original. Would have to play it to decide if I liked it... which is a bit iffy, since the simplicity of the original game is one of the things I love about it.

Ya know yer a strayan when you get these jokes. Although I will say that some particular words (said in a broad aussie accent) tend to send me insane. There are a few words I really hate; "brekkie" is one, gone pronounced "gorn" is another, "sattadee arvie" is a kind of combo thing - turning Saturday into Sat'dee I can cope with; saying arvie is touch and go... combining the two.... HULK SMASH!

"Straya" just makes me laugh, though. I've used the word "arvo" occasionally. I drive a Holden, but I've never had The Argument. I'm wearing ugh boots right now, but I don't own any thongs.

You are Oz! Or, Type Four of the Enneagram's personality structure: THE ARTIST. You are creative, intuitive, introverted and depressive.

You are Oz! Or, Type Four of the Enneagram's personality structure: THE ARTIST. You are creative, intuitive, introverted and depressive. Which Buffy character/Enneagram Personality are you? (quizilla, have lost the link now, deal).

Actually I cheated, since I already know I'm a Four I skipped the test and grabbed the result ;)

Some stuff from the news....

  • BBC | Moaning workers are "ill"
  • | One third live their life stoned. A THIRD of Australians cruise through life stoned. A study shows 27 per cent rely on drugs or drink risky levels of alcohol for their mental well-being. ... The Australia Institute survey reports men are more likely to seek refuge in alcohol, while women turn to tablets. Sweet! Give me another scotch, I'm normal.
  • The Courier-Mail | Sexual Politics. Yup, we really do have a porn star and a drag queen running for Lord Mayor. It's a pity their policies tend to be more practical than the normal pollies. In the Ryan by-election, Tamara Tonite and Nigel Freemarijuana had far better policies than the crap trotted out by the major parties. Go figure. Remember kids: they don't report informal votes (donkey votes); so if you don't like the major parties, vote for the porn star or the drag queen. Otherwise your protest vote will get lumped in with the people who just fucked up their ballot.

Fans go wild for Harry Potter. I've got my copy :) It was quite nice in the city today. The book was released in Brisbane at 9:01am; so when I rolled into town a bit after ten it was full of people dressed up HP style. I was passing a Dymocks when I suddenly found myself in the middle of a swarm of kids in black robes and Hogwarts house coloured scarves. They'd really made an effort and all had big smiles. I don't like kids, but hey I can still enjoy that moment :)

As an aside, I bought my copy from my regular bookstore. Sure, I could have saved some bucks grabbing it off the mound in K-mart being flogged off at cost, but frankly the chain stores are just undercutting real bookstores and I hate that.

Delicious irony: Orrin Hatch: Software Pirate?. A few days ago this guy claims copyright owners should have the right to destroy the computers (as in, make the hardware explode) of individuals downloading copyright material. Now it comes to light that his website uses copyright code and is in breach of the terms and conditions of use. So, is he down in the server room with a mallet? I suspect not. Will he learn from this? I suspect not. Is Senator Hatch doing this out of the goodness of his heart? No. He's a composer who earns a lot of money from royalties. To be fair; it seems his comments - while initially serious - are being taken more as a provocation to work on the problem and less as a real plan of action.

Even if a method of destroying computers was devised; how would you guard against destroying legit users' computers? The death penalty has sent innocent people to their deaths... even when playing with people's lives nobody's found a foolproof method of avoiding mistakes. The record industry has already broken the computer hardware of legitimate users and they didn't give a shit (remember the copy protection that broke Macintosh CD-ROM drives?). They'd happily do this if they could; and they wouldn't care about the innocent victims. Plus, how easy would it be to destroy someone's machine for no reason? "I thought they were using my hardware!" Well we can't prove it now, can we? So what's to say you just didn't like them?

Wired | Coffee Genes Hold the Jolt - projects looking to grow coffee plants which produce low-caffeine or decaf beans. Would be a good thing for people who actually know what good coffee tastes like; but have doctor's orders to stick to decaf. That assumes the beans still taste good :)

On a vaguely related note: it annoys me that people drink instant coffee, then claim to love "good coffee" and say they can't stand crap coffee. Drinking Nescafe and spurning International Roast does not make you a connoisseur. Then there are those who claim they need the caffeine hit from their one-teaspoon-of-instant coffee brew. I guess it's all about the comforts of daily ritual; since it can't be the actual caffeine :)


slashdot bits

  • | Heroes of Manufacturing. What if you want an OS that never crashes? What if you have a device which you cannot afford to have crash? You use QNX.
  • Slashdot | Weta Prepares to Render LOTR: ROTK. Seven racks of IBM blade servers have been added to Weta's existing 15-rack server cluster to make up the largest Intel-based high- performance computer site in the world with more than 2000 linked processors. What will this computing behemoth be doing? Rendering a movie. Great priorities, eh. Humans are fucking weird.
  • New York Times | A Mighty Wind - plans to build a huge wind farm in Nantucket Sound have the locals up in arms. This is too big for a dot point, so let's continue below....

It's a fight between needing sustainable energy, preserving natural wonders, and the basic "not in my back yard" attitude of the locals. The developer points out some of the benefits - Imagine tapping into this inexhaustible supply of energy right here in our own state, lowering the cost of electricity, decreasing pollution, reducing reliance on foreign fuel,'' Gordon said recently as he paced his company's boardroom in downtown Boston. ''We're feeding oil cartels whose whims move our economy and our armies. With wind, we can free ourselves from that.

The problem is the locals are rich and powerful. Really rich, really powerful. So they can afford to fight and fight hard: [Locals] tend to be vain about their environmental sensitivities, so you would think they'd cheer the coming of alternative energy. But supporting the construction of dozens of towering turbines visible from their beaches, boats and waterfront homes is a very different thing from avoiding tern nesting grounds or attending a lecture on shoreline erosion. Even before Gordon finished his analysis of the shoal's sands, a forceful and well-connected army of opposition had formed. ... Representative William Delahunt spearheaded an effort to protect the sound by advocating that it be declared a national marine sanctuary. Robert F. Kennedy Jr. offered his name and voice to the struggle, despite the fact that the Natural Resources Defense Council, the environmental organization for which he is a senior attorney, is a strong advocate of offshore wind development. And the yacht-club set opened its checkbooks, donating money and stock to cover the $100,000-a-month bills for rent, three full-time salaries, television and radio time, two lobbyists and three law firms. That's a lot of clout.

Dubya has proved that yes, you can fall off a Segway™. Bad timing, considering the Segway's inventor is also trying to get the US government to bail out his venture. Please, someone tell that guy that people just don't need a machine which costs US$5000.... and just replaces walking. People do remember scooters, pal. In fact, they're still popular.

Microsoft has now confirmed the comlete death of Internet Explorer - Zeldman | RIP - IE5/Mac is dead. IE5/Mac was a real groundbreaker for web standards; with far better support than IE5/PC ever had. So, what's up with Microsoft? As Zeldman points out, MS obviously doesn't give a toss about web browsers any more - particularly not for the Mac. They'll keep a web browser as part of their operating system, but they're not releasing free/standalone versions any more. If web developers disliked MS before, they hate them with a passion now.

Why? Because the average Windows user barely knows the difference between IE4 and IE6. They sure as hell won't pay for a better web browser when IE is right there on their desktop, "free" no less. So, they'll just use whatever version of IE they've got (probably IE5.5 or IE6.0, no service pack) from now until they replace their computer. We're talking about years of stagnation for the vast majority of web users. Imagine if Holden and Ford hadn't released a new Commodore or Falcon* for 20 years - that is, every Commodore/Falcon on the road was built according to standards and designs that were 20 years old. No airbags, no ABS brakes, no power windows, no central locking, no improvements to the engine, fuel consumption, aerodynamics... you get the picture. It's the same deal.

While people wouldn't put up with it in their car; they either don't know or don't care if their software doesn't change. Then consider that computers age incredibly fast - 1 human year is like 10 computer years. So, people are already using the web equivalent of a car put on the road in 1973. Now, you won't be able to buy a better car until 2023.

* For those who don't know, Commodore and Falcon are the most common cars we have on the road in Australia. Thousands of them. Every other company car is a white one.

Update: this even got a mention in a mainstream news outlet. Wonders will never cease.

boingboing post a recent development in one man's quest to give thieves a hernia: the concrete casemod. be sure to read the important update, which reads in part... The computer was still intact and the thief is probably sore and suffering from back problems, but be aware that this method of protection is not fool-proof. I am watching the neighborhood for someone walking with a limp or in a wheelchair. I view this as a challenge and may have to fill a full-size tower with concrete, hoping to break the 200 pound mark. If this does not provide the desired results, I may resort to visiting a foundry and pouring with molten lead. I must first find an over-head crane to make it possible to position it in my front yard.

also from boingboing...... a photoshop contest which proves that a jail cell can be made uglier than it already is: photoshop martha stewart's jail cell. meanwhile a DJ in philadelphia has caused plenty of discussion about his idea to fill iPods with his mixes, then rent the iPods to local businesses who would otherwise hire him for live perfomances. apart from the legal problems, it raises the question of what constitutes a DJ performance and what is...well... a high-tech mix tape. at any rate it still rings true that for a business like a restaurant, an iPod is much better than shuffling CDs or setting up decks. the primary business is preparing and serving food!

BTW, if anyone else wants to hook into the RSS feed of my linkblog (livejournal people can add it to their friends list), drop me a line at with the subject line linkblog rss feed. Not that I forsee anyone else wanting to do so; but on the off chance I'd love to hear what possessed you ;)

ps. thanks to colinmo and steve for their part in all of this! :) | Original Gangster - We have a bad guy play bad-guy games. And he steals our GameCube. In the July issue of Electronics Gaming Monthly, we interviewed Henry Hill--you know, the guy the movie Goodfellas was based on? He worked for the mob, participated in the $6mil Lufthansa heist in '78 (the biggest ever at the time), then turned state's evidence and helped put away the Lucchese crime family. We thought the wiseguy who lived Grand Theft Auto back in the 60s and 70s should play it, so we called for a sit-down and brought in GTA: Vice City, Hitman 2, The Getaway, and, for the hell of it, Animal Crossing.

Some people have really insane hobbies. documents the activities of a guy who's turning a Boeing 737 cockpit into a fully featured flight simulator. I guess it keeps him off the streets ;) Don't get me wrong, this is an impressive project.

slashdot bits:

  • - a company in Los Angeles has swung a deal with Laos to take over the .la TLD. An abuse of domain naming? Yep. Surprising? No.
  • Australia's great broadband disaster. Australia has a lower broadband connection rate than Estonia... now to be fair, I don't think many Australians could find Estonia on a map; so let's look at it in a better way. 60% of Australians have access to the net. Only 2% use broadband. On top of that, the quality of service vs. price is terrible - we get tiny data limits and relatively slow connections, with huge fees. Then we have Senator Alston, fuckwit extraordinaire; who remains our Communications Minister despite a desperate need for removal from the gene pool. For example, Alston thinks Telstra's poor revenue is due to good competition. Actually, Telstra is in the shit because - as an organisation - it can't find its arse with both hands.
  • Voyager to a Strange Planet.

/. bits...

Gored By Longhorn: Zeldman combines two bits of info - a) MS won't develop IE except for the bundled version in Longhorn; and b) Longhorn won't be out until 2005. That's an awfully long time to wait for something better than IE6.0, with its various bugs. Please, for the love'o'mike*, everyone switch to Opera/Netscape/something standards-compliant. Don't forget to switch Opera's preferences over so it identifies as Opera (by default it identifies as IE to avoid discrimination by sniffer codes). It Opera doesn't turn up in server logs people can't prove that it's being used.

* No I don't know why Mike's love is so attractive, but let's not burst his bubble.

Bus-rail deal to streamline public travel. [T]he new arrangement [involves] the state taking over responsibility for revenue collection and paying Brisbane Transport a service fee to operate its 600-strong bus fleet. ... There will be falls in the cost of most bus fares. About time they stopped farting about with Queensland's public transport. It's a first step, at least.

Origin bruiser reignites the Cauldron. Hell of a match. I wonder if the result could have been different if the blues hadn't scored off a dodgy "played at the ball" call by the ref... who knows :) It's a shame for the injured players; but then they always go hard in origin football.

btw... for those of you who didn't know i watch nrl football, just deal with it mmmkay :) it's not that shocking.


GO TEAM RANDOM! :) colinmo has been nuts enough to set up an RSS feed of this blog and let it loose on his lj friends list. end result: we learn that RSS is cool; and i spam the living crap out of his friends list :) all good.

holy crap. just republished the entire archive (realised i'd never got around to reinstating the matching template after some blogger problems a while back) and it's taking ages. at which point i realised i've been doing this since september 2001. that's an awful lot of links.

boingboing bits....

2003.06.11 - update - i am assured the truck mods link is definitely for real. apparently in japan this is all the rage (mainly away from the cities) and they use the trucks for work. ie. that's their work vehicle, not a show vehicle. wild!

This is actually important: Adobe have released a new version of Acrobat Reader (v6.0). Consider that the Human Rights and Equal Opportunities Commission deem PDF to be an inaccessible (ie. discriminatory) file format. The hype has claimed that v6.0 would fix all problems and usher in a golden age of PDF for the vision-impaired. So what's the reality? AnitraPavka posts some first impressions.

Enough about Blogger. Here's some content that might interest someone.

Soul of the Web. Not only does this page sport a wonderfully rich-but-subtle design; the content is pretty damn good. Think of it as a place to find something good to read; at random.

Don't get me wrong, the new Blogger system seems nice. They've just come out of the blocks with a system that only gives the full-featured version to a browser which is lagging behind the pack; not to mention that MS have just announced it will lag forever unless you buy Longhorn.

Interface issues aside, the features look like they could be interesting. Though of course free users like me probably aren't seeing the best of it. Making users deal with charset issues is a brave move. They'll get endless emails over it, but it might improve the technical standard of a few blogs. One thing which is already pissing me off is the lack of a POST button in the POST screen (LoFi version). I don't need to preview most of my posts. Then the rapid refreshing post status page is a bit too quick - the pulsing effect makes me feel sick. Seriously, refresh ever ten seconds or something. Every two or three is overkill.

On top of all that, the old interface broke quite badly in Opera 7.10 - so even though it gets redirected to LoFi, Opera is still better off this way. Everything does work; so I'll quit my bitchin'. The reality is 99% of Bloggers won't know or care about web standards. Just a few geeks like me find fault.

Hmmm, hmmm and more hmmm. IE6.0 SP1 gets a different version of BloggerBasic. So if this is on purpose, Pyra Labs and Google consider IE6.0 to be the pinnacle of modern browser development. Which is complete shite, since IE6.0 - as observed recently - is getting long in the tooth in browser terms. IE6.0 SP1 isn't a bad browser; at least not compared with, say, Netscape 4.x... but it sure as hell isn't a good browser.

Sadly it seems they have decided to favour "popular" over "good".

Small mercies: the B and I buttons now insert STRONG and EM instead of B and I. This is a Good Thing.

Plus it does seem faster.

Netscape 7.0 is also sent to Blogger LoFi so I'm guessing the HiFi version isn't ready yet. Or perhaps the detection is a bit screwy.

Blogger has apparently just cut over to its new system; and I'm quite narked that the system claims Opera 7.10 "lack[s] robust Stylesheet and/or DHTML capabilities". Opera supports standards better than MSIE, bucko. Watch who you insult.

In other other news, I accidentally did something simlilar* to a few users recently; so I shouldn't complain ;)

* Well actually it wasn't my fault, not really anyone's fault. Something just broke.

Microsoft will make you pay for newer versions of Internet Explorer. That's not what they say, but that is what it means:

Q: when / will there be the next version of IE?
A: As part of the OS, IE will continue to evolve, but there will be no future standalone installations. IE6 SP1 is the final standalone installation.

Q: Why is this? the anti-trust? (no further standalone)
A: Although this is off topic, I will answer briefly: Legacy OSes have reached their zenith with the addition of IE 6 SP1. Further improvements to IE will require enhancements to the underlying OS.

What that means is; you'll have to buy Longhorn for anything after IE6 SP1. No improvements for the standalone IE6, which is the best anyone will be able to use with a Windows OS other than Longhorn. Win95, 98, Me, 2000, XP... all stuck with IE6.0 SP1; which was released in 2000. Three years old and counting... this is bad news.

Zeldman comments on this and also notes that AOL has just caved in to MS, agreeing to use IE and not Netscape.

Right! Now everyone switch to Opera!