March 2002 Archives

Blog is Great!

Osama's bin bloggin. offensive, but funny. (via GMSV)

freshman Rep Adam Schiff has gone headline trolling by announcing that he will introduce CBDTPA-like legislation to the US House of Representatives.

Schiff is a Democrat representing California's 27th District, home to Disney and ABC (his third-largest contributor for this election cycle), Warner Brothers, and NBC (all of whom have studios in Burbank) and DreamWorks SKG (their animation studio's in Glendale). while the 27th District also encompasses CalTech and NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab (both in Pasadena), Shiff, like his Senate colleague Diane Feinstein, seems determined to side with the Big Content against the technology industry.

Schiff won his seat in 2000. in what was billed as the most expensive House race ever, Schiff was aided by $165,000 in contributions from Big Content, including $20,000 from DreamWorks SKG and $18,000 from Time Warner.

on a pile of cash.

the Washington Post noted that Hollywood's mouthpiece in DC is the second-most-highly-paid trade association head in the US, pulling down $1.15 million in 2000.

granted, it's not the same kind of coin as some of his paymasters are earning: Viacom's Sumner Redstone, Disney's Mike Eisner, AOL Time Warner's Gerald Levin, and MGM's Alex Yemenidjian earned a combined $260 million last year (i couldn't find any numbers for Sony's Howard Stringer and the boys at DreamWorks SKG)

a couple of Mac sites have noted that the "copy protection" on Celine Dion's latest CD from Sony can have some serious side-effects when used on Macintosh computers sporting the SuperDrive CD-RW/DVD-R combo drives. users report difficulty in getting the CD to eject, problems with subsequent reboots, and corrupt session data messing with drive's firmware.

perhaps Sony should be held financially accountable for the user's lost time. hell, i'd like to see Pioneer (makers of the SuperDrive) and Apple sue Sony for messing with their products (but that's not going to happen). (via bOingbOing)

Java vendors look for unity

the two main forces behind Java, Sun and IBM, are trying to ensure interoperability between their development environment projects. it's a consciously Microsoft-like strategy to ensure that developers can become reasonably productive with Java right out of the box.

it's yet another sign that the very thing that's made Java as successful as it is -- the fact that a number of vendors have been able to participate -- has always been the platform's Achilles heel. multi-source, best-of-breed solutions just mean that all of your vendors can blame one another when you encounter problems. as a c|net article puts it:

The key for Java's continued growth, analysts say, is to emulate Microsoft's work with Visual Studio.Net, which offers integrated features such as testing software for finding bugs, as well as point-and-click application development.

it's worth mentioning that when this approach is extended to web services, it also means helping developers with application deployment, and this is where the rubbber hits the revenue model. for Sun, it's critical that the Java developer's thought process terminates with something like "...and then we deploy it on iPlanet servers," since application servers are one of the few ways Sun can make money from their investment in Java. unfortunately, it's also one of the ways IBM and BEA make money, and i doubt the three will be willing to turn their cash cows into interchangeable, commodity products.

this is a nice little twist -- an Enron executive managed to get Chung Wu, a PaineWebber broker in Houston, fired within hours of his advising several Enron employees (PaineWebber handled their stock-option program) that they might want to sell some of their Enron stock.

a day later the PaineWebber reassured the Enron employees they served that Enron's fortunes were likely headed upwards, and that the company had a "strong buy" rating on Enron.

naturally, PaineWebber insists that it acted entirely according to NASD guidlines and that the millions of dollars in investment banking fees it generated from Enron had nothing to do with their frogmarching Mr Wu to the door. (via NY Times)

Disney CEO Mike "Ask Me About My Senator" Eisner contributes a sickenengly self-serving opinion piece to today's Financial Times [or is that just FT now?].

the Mousemeister press-gangs a dead president, two Nobel prizewinners, his (presumably) deceased grandfather, the US Constitution, and God Himself (through His word in the bible) in the service of Big Content and their Orwellian control fantasies. Eisner's exercise of his right to Fair Use is, in itself, an argument against everything for which he campaigns. (via the Reg)

i don't care what Sun says, products like this and now this have to be creating some ulcers in SPARC/Solaris-land. obviously not everyone segments Linux into a low-end, edge-server ghetto...

web services air-war

the fact that Sun's Java has been a success with wireless communications providers isn't news -- most of the major handset vendors and carriers offer Java-based products -- and Sun's announcements at JavaOne are designed to extend that lead.

while Sun deserves a pat on the back for their success, they've been aided by their opposition's intimidating reputation. as Andrew Seybold says "the wireless industry hates Microsoft." but if players like Verizon or Nokia fear that Microsoft may come to domintate their business does this mean that, in Sun, they've found a company they can dominate themselves? from a consumer's standpoint, is a wireless industry dominated by Microsoft better or worse than one where the phone companies rule? (via NY Times)

for you Wall Street Journal subscribers, there's a fascinating article about the challenges Microsoft faced in bringing Japanese game developers on board for Xbox. one hapless Microsoft suit was asked "are you willing to sacrifice your life for our game?" while another schmoozed a scar-faced judo-champion CEO in Tokyo's strip clubs.

a far cry, no doubt, from kicking Ted Waitt's ass and having him ask "thank you sir, may i have another?" (via WSJ)

map the consent factories

my friend Joey "AccordionGuy" deVilla ran across this excellent resource for Big Content hunting -- the Project on Media Ownership's (PROMO) "Who Owns The Network News" map. i've had half a mind to do this sort of thing for a while now.

one nit i have to pick with this otherwise excellent resource is the static PDF format: mapping these kinds of complex, intertwined relationships is exactly what hypertext was made for. (via AccordionGuy)

while Sun's going to use the annual JavaOne developer jamboree to make its most aggressive push yet into web services, c|net News wonders how much longer Sun can play both leader and loser in the Java world.

by making Java just barely open enough to support other vendors' participation, Sun's managed to find itself baring almost all of the R&D burden without any sure way to dominate the market. it reminds me a little of Apple's ill-advised foray into licensing the Macintosh platform. it gets even more complicated when you factor in Sun's hardware bias -- from the top, Java's long been seen as a way to sell more server hardware. as i've pointed out before, Sun's going to have a hard time staying far enough ahead of Linux-on-Intel-based hardware to keep to make that strategy work long-term. (via c|net)

Bud Selig is a weasel

as i've said before, MLB Commissioner Bud Selig is a weasel. Doug Pappas is more explicit: he calls Selig "a cancer on Major League Baseball." (via More Like This Weblog)

after seven years of delay, the US Senate passed legislation desiged to reform campaign finance by eliminating unregulated "soft money" contributions and restricting "issue advertising". the legislation's most strident critics have vowed to take their challenge to the courts.

opponents argue that campaign finance reform infringes upon free speech, and constitutes an undue regulation of the actions of all Americans. this is the kind of language you would expect to hear in opposition of, say, Sen Hollings' SSSCA/CBDTPA, or the DMCA, or the Bono Copyright Term Extension Act, (CTEA) but in those cases we're actually dealing with free speech. in Washington "free speech" means "money".

the seemingly indefinite extension of copyright shrinks speech and ideas in the public domain. the forced compliance with copyright owners' "copy-protection" schemes erodes our right to fair use. the criminalization of any activity or speech that aids in circumventing those schemes (regardless of the reason) stifles protest, creativity, and commerce.

if money is the lifeblood of politics, then Big Content has performed a massive transfusion in this election cycle, injecting nearly $7 million dollars into the electoral process [that is, unless you count Haim "Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers" Saban's recent largesse to the Democratic party, estimated to be between $7 million and $10 million] about half of that was in "soft money" contributions, which would be banned under the new legislation. against this opposition, we have the efforts of you, me, and organizations like the EFF.

citizens and consumers desperately need a seat at the policy-making table. the only way we're going to get that is to reduce the overwhelming influence that corporate and special interests have through campaign contributions.

nifty hypertext tool for the Mac

Eastgate Systems has released Tinderbox 1.0 (for Mac OS 8.5-9.x and Classic, but Mac OS X is coming "very soon"), a personal content management assistant built by hypertext pioneer Mark Bernstein. the idea behind Tinderbox -- agent-based adaptive organization of notes -- is interesting, and could make a huge difference in the way you approach writing and sharing frequently-updated content (like weblogs). (via MacInTouch)

Senator Fritz Hollings introduced the "Consumer Broadband and Digital Television Promotion Act" today. the bill sets into motion a one year period for technology companies and Big Content to agree to copy protection technology standards. if it sounds familiar, it's because it was once known as the Secutity Systems Standards and Certification Act (SSSCA) (thanks Cory).

given the demands coming from the executives in charge of Vivendi Universal, Disney, and News Corp, there can be little doubt as to how much freedom individual consumer will be afforded under these new standards. especially since Big Content's shovelled nearly $7 million into the political money machine.

now might be a good time to get that EFF membership.

after numerous user reports that the Scientology protest site Xenu.net was no longer showing up on Google the search engine finally confirmed to Xenu.net's Norwegian webmaster that they had removed a number of links to their site at the request of Church of Scientology International (though the related entities Religious Technology Center and Bridge Publications Inc). the Church filed its complaints under the auspices of the Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA).

this is an excellent example of the erosion of free speech by overextending copyright protection, as i've mentioned before. and, again, the DMCA provides a new weapon to an organization that's hardly been reticent to pursue its critics under previously existing legislation.

it's also interesting to note that the coverage of this (admittedly new) story has primarily come from technology publications, like c|net and Wired News, and blogs. since blogs seem to be a part of Google's page-ranking strategy, what happens if the blogs covering this issue all point to Xanu.net? if i use Google's custom search for blogaritaville, what happens to searches for "Xanu.net" or "scientology" on my site?

as an aside, here are some organizations that haven't carried this story yet: New York Times, Washington Post, CNN, MSNBC, and LA Times. (via bOingbOing)

Global Crossing's regulatory filings have revealed a previously undisclosed deal between GX and a unit of the Blackstone Group. Blackstone, for those of you keeping score, is GX's bankruptcy advisor -- the people who shopped GX to Singapore Technologies Telemedia and Hutchison Whampoa. Blackstone stands to earn millions in fees for a successful outcome.

the deal in question involves Centennial Communications, a New Jersey wireless communications company. Centennial agreed to purchase $150 million in capacity from GX while GX, in turn, agreed to buy $30 million in services from Centennial. not only did Blackstone own 30% of Centennial, but Centennial board member Jack Scanlon also sat on the board of Global Crossing. Scanlon was a former CEO of Global Crossing, and is the current chief executive of Asia Global Crossing (an independent-ish company whose largest shareholders are Global Crossing, Softbank, and Microsoft).

to make matters even more confusing, Scanlon resigned his Centennial board seat due to the appearance of a conflict of interest with another position he held: a board seat with PrimeCo Wireless Communications. if PrimeCo rings a bell, it's because the company was at the center of another Friends-of-Gary-Winnick deal-fest.

the FBI and the SEC are investigating Global Crossing's accounting practices.

oh, yeah -- GX used to be audited by Andersen, but you knew that already. (via NY Times)

90% work, 10% play

the volume of my bitching and moaning about cross-platform, cross-browser web development has increased because i've been working on a redesign of blogaritaville. right now, the site's not reliably compatible with a large number of browsers, so i'm trying to strike a balance between usability, simplicity, and compatibility (all the while keeping maintenance to a minimum).

i have to do this in my spare time, as i do actually have other things to do.

Radio UserLand users awoke to a nifty new feature today: newsfeeds from the New York Times. now Radio users can use the familiar XML Coffee Mug to add the Times to their News Aggregator page.

for those of you who haven't tried Radio, it's worth a look. after you've got your feet wet with something like Blogger, Radio offers a number of interesting possibilities to take your weblogging to the next level. let me put it this way: everything i accomplish with Movable Type, Apache, AmphetaDesk, and Interarchy (i know, that last one's not free -- i had it lying around -- you can use rsync instead, if you like) can be found in a coherent package in Radio.

crisis of faith

i'm having trouble reconciling a benevolent god and the vagaries of cross-platform CSS-based layout.

i test out layouts on local sites i build on my PowerBook and try to see where things fall apart in my three favorite Mac OS X browsers: Microsoft Internet Explorer 5.1.3, OmniWeb 4.1 "sneakypeek", and Chimera v0.13 (a Cocoa implementation of a Gecko-based browser). i also try to check for problems with IE6 for Windows via Win2K on Virtual PC (if you think that sounds like a lot of fun, try it yourself -- a 233MHz PowerBook G3 Series is not the ideal platform for this kind of thing.)

even when you try to keep things simple (perhaps especially when you try to keep things simple) the slightest changes cause problems in one browser or on one platform or another. nothing ever just works except the <P> tag. it blows a hole in my day and seems like a total waste of time.

the Chron on DigitalConsumer.org

the San Francisco Chronicle has a quickie writeup of Joe Kraus' testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee on behalf of DigitalConsumer.org. his written statement can be found on the DigitalConsumer.org site.

i agree with Joe's sentiments, and i'm glad to see support for these efforts, but i'm a little leery of diluting the impact that the EFF might have in their initiatives on this front. i hope DC.org and the EFF can get together and synchronize on this. (via MacInTouch)

Thomas Weber's "E-World" column in the Wall Street Journal (paid subscription required) takes a brief and highly reasonable look at Big Content's fantasies of total control over what, where, and when you enjoy their product. his conclusion? that the media oligopoly is missing the point -- rather than being revenue-killing thieves, we're all being good little consumers, trying to fit more media into our lives.

one excellent example of the chronic myopia affecting media executives is the Big Content persecution of the personal video recorder. as Weber says:

A technology that makes sure TV fans never miss their favorite shows? Hollywood's fear of copying has blinded it to the potential for viewer loyalty here, leading the networks to gang up on SONICblue in court. After all, viewers have always had a way to skip commercials. It's called "walking to the kitchen."

next, Big Content asks congress to ban kitchens.

VCs face (some) music

the venture capitalists who, for the past year, have been putting the screws to entrepreneurs are getting some blowback for their own profligate ways. limited partners (investors) in VC funds are starting to ask for refunds, thank you very much.

they're tired of watching the value of their investments dwindle while the general partners of the funds (the guys we think of as VCs) continue to earn mutli-millions in management fees. this problem is only amplified by the recent tendency of venture capitalists to raise billion-dollar-plus funds (what i like to call "gigafunds"). there are now 35 some-odd venture funds with more than $1 billion each in committed capital -- that's between $700 million and $1 billion in management fees alone. pretty grating stuff when you consider how many people got turfed when these same VCs told their portfolio companies to tighten their belts.

investors are also looking to exact some revenge for having to sit back while VCs jacked up their "carry" (the general partners' cut -- a percentage of the returns from a fund) during the boom years.

the Red Herring [is that thing still around?] has a good (if long-ish) article on this new trend in VC-hating. i particularly enjoyed this quote from an anonymous veteran technology investor:

"People in my circle feel like they've been ripped off by the VCs. We don't want to honor any more capital calls. We have lost way too much money and would just like to tell the VCs to fuck off. I mean, VCs are starting to play hardball with guys who are out of work and can no longer afford their mortgage. Is that good business? Is that good teamwork? That's just plain greed."

in the end, though, the guys doing the hard, creative work -- the entrepreneurs -- are the ones ultimately getting screwed. it doesn't take a genius to figure out that less available capital combined with tighter pursestrings and demands for better performance means that VC investment's going to come with punitive terms: miserable valuations, draconian anti-dilution measures, liquidity preference, crawl-up-your-ass corporate oversight. (via Techdirt)

it's Friday...

...news is slow, and i have some actual work to do, so what time i've devoted to the care and feeding of blogaritaville has been spent on setting up AmphetaDesk just so. after all, there's no GO without the GI, right?

Feds cut Enron, Andersen loose

the General Services Administration, the purchasing agent for the US federal government, has suspended Enron and Andersen from doing business with the feds for a year.

the rest of American issues a collective "duh". (via Reuters)

Deep Throat (well, Hal Holbrook) told us (well, Robert Redford) to "Follow the money." in the case of Senator Ernest "Fritz" Hollings (D-SC), the money takes us right across the country to Hollywood.

from 1997 to 2002, the author of the SSSCA has taken over $264,000 in campaign contributions from Big Content. as a group, they gave more to Hollings' war chest than anyone except for lawyers/legal firms. individuals and political action committees (PACs) affiliated with AOL Time Warner, News Corp, the National Association of Broadcasters, Walt Disney, and CBS (a unit of Viacom)are among his top 20 contributors. it's also worth remembering that South Carolina generates hundreds of millions of dollars annually from film and television production (everything from Forrest Gump to "Dawson's Creek").

you can be sure that Sen Hollings is very well acquainted with the issues vexing Big Content today.

this idea's been kicking around for a while (particularly among the diaspora of my former employer), but i started thinking of it again when this little Radio UserLand tweak started popping up.

if RSS readers share their subscription lists consistently, we're at the file-sharing stage of peer-to-peer evolution (like the old Napster Hotlists): check out someone's blog, peruse their list of RSS sources, plunder it. it's not a bad way to discover new stuff, but there's another step we can take: the recommendation-sharing stage.

the idea is pretty simple: your collection of RSS subscriptions is compared to everybody else's RSS subscription collections. users with whom you share a high coincidence of subscriptions should be an excellent source of recommendations for new sources. these recommendations could even be weighted over time -- if you accept a suggestion by subscribing, future recommendations from your "buddy" would be weighted favorably. that weighting would then be a way of conferring transitive, implicit trust to recommendations that come from your buddy's trusted buddies, and so on ad infinitum.

essentially, your RSS reader represents a node on a network -- the task is maintaining your node's network state in relation to other nodes. a p2p architecture affords greater scalability than having a centralized, consolidated database of hundreds of thousands of users spidering one another.

just a thought.

NYT on Big Content v You and Me

now that the billionaires are getting into it, the New York Times has devoted some space to the issue of Big Content trying to bring IT to heel. well, actually, they're just recapping some of the highlights of the battle since the Senate Commerce Committee's kangaroo hearings on the issue.

the article passively identifies the fault lines between the entertainment and technology industries. while technology executives like Intel's Andy Grove are asking pointed questions about Hollywood's behavior:

"Is it the responsibility of the world at large to protect an industry whose business model is facing a strategic challenge? Or is it up to the entertainment industry to adapt to a new technical reality and a new set of consumers who want to take advantage of it?"

entertainment executives like News Corp's Peter Chernin are responding with unspecific threats to the consumer:

"[W]ithout copyright protection we will change our business models and the loser will be the public....We may be stupid but we're not idiotic. We're not going to offer ways for people to go and loot our content."

and nonsense comparisons:

"Let's say I decide to broadcast on my network the code for how to make Intel chips or Microsoft software. I think they'd find a way to stop it."

how stupid do they think we are?

today, the Senate Judiciary Committee (chaired by Pat Leahy (D-Vermont))is wading into the fray with hearings of its own. given the witness list, it looks like it'll be more even-handed than the Hollings-sponsored SSSCA rally: Richard Parsons (AOL Time Warner), Craig Barrett (Intel), Jon Taplin (Intertainer), Joe Kraus (DigitalConsumer.org and co-founder of Excite back when it was a search engine), and Justin Hughes (UCLA School of Law). (via NY Times)

the Wall Street Journal's Personal Technology columnist Walt Mossberg tunes his readers into Big Content's efforts to govern personal media consumption (blogaritavilles passim). Walt also steers people towards DigitalConsumer.org, a Silicon Valley-based advocacy group that's taking on Big Content in the legislative arena.

this is, undoubtedly, A Good Thing. it would be A Better Thing if DigitalConsumer.org's base extended beyond the Valley (i'm looking at you, Boston, Austin, Seattle, Northern Virginia, and New York). it would be Better Still if the support for these efforts came from beyond the IT world (i'm looking at you, musicians, filmmakers, writers, and consumer electronics manufacturers). it would be The Best Thing if DigitalConsumer.org's activity was coordinated with that of the EFF on this issue. Big Content (read, RIAA and MPA) is well-funded and influential, so diffusing efforts to combat them in Washington would be suicidally counter-productive.

remember, in an all-digital world your "digital rights" are your civil rights.

Yahoollywood!

Terry Semel's big plan to save Yahoo!? turn it into a trailer park. Yahoo!'s [what am i supposed to do with that "!" when i need to punctuate?] opening a Santa Moncia office to better serve its growing stable of Big Content clients through its Yahoo! Entertainment unit.

given Semel's deep links in Hollywood, the only surprising part of this plan is how long it has taken to develop. as Disney's miserable experience with Go.com demonstrated, not every media company has the wherewithal to build their own consumer portal -- Yahoo!'s in a good position to become the preferred portal-for-hire in Hollywood. their only real competition is MSN. (via Reuters)

MOH:AA Mac

somewhere, there's a big story about web services, or maybe one giant corporation is suing another. perhaps a former CFO is blowing the whistle on a Wall Street favorite, but i don't care because Medal of Honor: Allied Assault is coming to the Mac. (via MacCentral)

lessons for Big Content

has Big Content ever accepted the changes brought into the market for the benefit of the consumer? from piano rolls, to radio, to television, to cable TV, to cassette tapes, to the VCR, Big Content has been fighting every step of the way. it's no surprise that they're assailing everyone from Intel to Apple for destroying the American Way of Life.

what's strange is that every technology that makes it easier for us to consume media inevitably benefits the content producers. when the technology creates new distribution channels (as in the case with radio, television, and cable), content must be provided to fill those channels. when technology makes it easier for us to listen/watch/play when and where we want (as did the the VCR, audio compact cassette, compact disc, and Walkman-style personal stereo) we always created an upswing in the sales of "prerecorded" media.

the combination of the internet, digital file formats, and the devices that use them is a unique point in the history of Big Content. it's a shift in technology that combines changes in distribution and consumption to create opportunities that will dwarf the changes of the past for those who are clever enough to adapt. of course, Big Content doesn't see it that way.

with their overheated rhetoric -- their virtual criminalization of their customers -- and their aggressive legislative agenda, Big Content is not so much guilty of overreaching their power as they are of being underwhelming (if that's a word) in their imagination. their recipe is for "more of the same, but digital."

in its reaction so far, Big Content has spent most of its time trying to change information technology, consumer electronics, legislation, and our behavior. at no point have i heard of any serious effort by Big Content to change themselves. the first company to re-think the way they bring content to market -- the production process, the marketing, the pricing -- gets to dominate the 21st century.

hmm...

seems that my CSS breaks when viewed in Mozilla (or any other "Gecko"-based HTML renderer).

Sun's wasting its time

"Sun takes on Passport -- with Hardware"

"Sun brings antitrust suit against Microsoft"

"Sun alliance targets Microsoft Passport"

Sun's wasting its time.

not since Philippe Kahn ran Borland has a company been so suicidally compelled to take on Microsoft at every turn. the return on all of this investment (in Java, in Sun ONE, in the Liberty Alliance, in their lawsuit) is questionable -- i can see where Borland, Covalent, and even IBM have benefitted from the Java push, but Sun must be taking most of the damage for doing nearly all of the heavy lifting.

all the while, Sun's fighting what has to be a completely hopeless rear-guard action against cheap hardware fromIntel and even cheaper software from the open-source community. the Reg is reporting that AOL's on the verge of signing a services deal with Red Hat to transition its high-end, proprietary UN*X servers to much cheaper Linux boxes.

AOL number-crunchers figure they can replace an $80,000 box running proprietary UNIX with two $5,000 Linux boxes and get a 50% increase in performance in addition to the cost savings. "Don't tell our competitors," one of our AOL contacts says. "Let them keep buying expensive crap."

while Sun exhausts itself flailing away against Microsoft, it's going to lose its bread-and-butter business to companies like Red Hat and IBM (and whatever interchangeable hardware vendor choses to fill the breech). as for Microsoft, they have the advantage of having a don't-you-worry-we'll-make-sure-it-all-works solution for their clients: stay within the Microsoft universe, and you're generally comfortable that your Microsoft developer tools will work with Microsoft platforms, servers, and services. (via the Reg)

note to self: the web sucks

there's nothing more unsatisfying than spending your day staring at HTML and CSS in a text editor, flipping from browser to browser, wondering what miserable little mistake/bug/quirk is causing your site to render so god-awfully.

CANAL+ Technologies, the digital television technology unit of global media giant Vivendi Universal, is suing rival NDS Group, the digital television technology unit of global media giant News Corp.

both companies make smart cards for digital TV set-top boxes, a critical element in the secure delivery of digital satellite and cable programming. a smart card, when inserted into a set-top box, determines whether a subscriber has permission to watch a particular program. CANAL+ Technologies is alleging that NDS deliberately cracked their proprietary encryption software and then maliciously distributed the code on the internet in an effort to harm CANAL+'s business. they're claiming that the flood of counterfit CANAL+ smart cards harmed them to the tune of over $1 billion. CANAL+ is so steamed about this, they've launched their own web site.

while NDS Group is a publicly-traded company, they're 80% owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation. while i'm skeptical we'll hear about e-mail from Peter Chernin directing NDS to sabotage CANAL+, i'm revelling in the small comeuppance this lawsuit affords -- no one has been more belligerent in their demands for the technology industry to cripple their products in the service of Big Content. as Chernin told the Senate Commerce Committee recently:

What the general public has to realize is that many businesses that rely on the creation, distribution and sale of content will be put in jeopardy by massive copyright infringement. This, in turn, will impact the quality of content that makes the broadband Internet so exciting for so many people.

(via Wall Street Journal)

EFF campaign to oppose SSSCA

the EFF's taking up the challenge of opposing the highly-flawed Security Systems Standards and Certification Act (SSSCA). legislation like the SSSCA, the Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA), and the Bono Copyright Term Extension Act (CETA -- in HTML and PDF) represent the erosion of individual free speech rights through the infinite privatization of nearly all intellectual property and the subjugation of public speech to commercial interest.

think of it this way: they're taking away Main Street and replacing it with a mall. do you think the Rent-A-Cop security guards are going to let you march in protest from the FootLocker to Starbuck's? you wouldn't even make it as far as the Cinnabon.

visit the EFF's web site or click here for the EFF's ACTION ALERT.

Peekabooty takes a poke at Murdoch

the Peekabooty project's Joey "AccordionGuy" deVilla takes a good, hard look at Rupert Murdoch's efforts to bring News Corp into the People's Republic of China.

Joey graciously credits me for providing some few links on the topic in a blogaritaville post of my own.

demonstrating a pitiable short-term memory problem, Global Crossing CEO John Legere wants us to know that he is at once "accountable" for "the pain I've caused" yet at the same time assures us that "Nothing that we did was inappropriate."

in an interview with the Associated Press, Legere dismissed comparisons of Global Crossing's troubles with those of Enron, defended his and other executives' compensation in the face of a bankruptcy that has cost employees their jobs, benefits, severance, and pensions, and deemed irrelevant Gary Winnick's side investment in a company controlled by one of the corporations lined up to buy Global Crossing's assets. (via AP)

L90 & eUniverse call it quits

the merger between eUniverse and L90 has foundered on the rocks of SEC Investigation Island (it's like Survivor, only with your 401k).

eUniverse, a motley collection of web "entertainment" sites designed to suck visitors into a marketing vortex, put the kibosh to its planned merger with struggling internet advertising shop L90 five weeks after the SEC started throwing subpoenas around. since then L90's founder Mark Roah and CEO John Bohan have resigned, and CFO Thomas Sebastian has been "removed".

Enron takes down Andersen

it's hardly surprising that the Enron collapse has made life difficult for its erstwhile auditors, Arthur Andersen, but now Andersen's situation is so desperate, it's looking at two options: death by a thousand investigations and lawsuits, or falling on its own sword. (via Reuters)

six months ago

six months ago, i awoke to the worst day of my life.

it started with the sound of an airplane. there was something distinctly wrong with this sound. it was too loud and too fast, but it didn't sound like what i imagined to be the noise of a dying aircraft. nevertheless, something wasn't right about it. i was too sleepy to deal with the contradiction, so i got up.

a little while later, the phone rang -- had i turned on the television? i should turn on the television -- two planes had hit the World Trade Center towers. are we alright? i hadn't turned on the television, hadn't checked my e-mail, hadn't launched my web browser, but now that sound made more sense.

i hung up and went to my wife (who was then still my fianc»e -- we were getting married in three weeks). had she heard the noise? she had, and she couldn't understand it either. i told her about the World Trade Center towers. that marked the last time things made sense that day.

welcome to blogaritaville's new home on Movable Type. i'm still setting up shop, but most things should work (more or less).

Michael Moore wrote an open

Michael Moore wrote an open letter (dated January 29, 2002) to the president. Mike does a great job of tying together disparate pieces of the public record to show just how polluted this administration was (and is) by Enron.

it's tremendous fun, even if its main themes -- that government is hostage to monied interests, and that anyone willing to do what it takes to become president is, by definition, unworthy of the job -- are well-worn.

little-reported fact: the first 142 pages of Steve Ballmer's 143-page deposition transcript are Steve saying "developers, developers, developers, developers!" (via Reuters)

bOingbOinger, friend, and former ColaComrade Cory Doctorow has left the office park for the frontier. he's off to fight for our rights with the Electronic Frontier Foundation. so if you're a corporation, cover your ass with a big donation!

UC Berkeley (along with vendor

UC Berkeley (along with vendor MagnetPoint) is going to be unifying their messaging systems in a web services-architected solution. according to an InfoWorld article, users will be able to access voice mail, e-mail, faxes, calendar and schedule information.

as with any properly-implemented web service, the important developer benefit is that the addition or modification of services doesn't require an intimate understanding of the underlying "objects" and their protocols, just an ability to work with XML. (via WebServices.org)

Advisor.com has an interesting interview with IBM's Bob Sutor about the WS-I, the Web Services Interoperability Organization. the interview also touches on some of the basic reasons why CIOs are interested in web services in the first place:

So, the question is where do they [IT managers] want to put those [limited] resources, especially the software engineers. They want to devote those people to the higher aspects of the application that make their businesses more efficient or differentiate them from the competition. They don't want to spend their software resources way down in the weeds of the application....
(via WebServices.org)

"is that a copy of

"is that a copy of Visio in your pocket, or are you just happy to see me?"

this is the classiest (rather, "klassiest" with a capital "K" and a heart dotting the "i") PR i've seen yet from a software company. (via The Reg)

RIM is bringing its GSM

RIM is bringing its GSM phone-equipped BlackBerry to North America. as phones become more like PDAs and PDAs add phone capability, everybody's scrambling to take whatever advantage they have and turn it into a sustainable market position. for RIM, that means selling the new devices back into their existing base of corporate/enterprise customers (while Handspring's Treo tries to carve out a chunk of the consumer market).

while there are weaknesses in the BlackBerry product's software -- i never used the built-in calendar or contact features -- tight integration with Exchange and Domino should make it an attractive option for enterprise users. (via Reuters)

News Corp's COO Peter Chernin

News Corp's COO Peter Chernin has taken his copyright barnstorming show on the road, this time to London. the CEO of the corporation that owns The Sun, the News of the World, the Times, and Sky again decried the behavior of the average internet user as the real obstacle to happiness in his industry, although the BBC didn't exactly see it that way.

he also showed his flair for marketing by positioning News Corp's internet properties this way: "They are a taste for what (consumers) will eventually have to pay for in the future."

in fairness to Chernin his boss, Rupert Murdoch, has shown a far more ruthless ambition in his quest for global media supremacy. less than a year after launching his pan-Asian STAR TV network, Murdoch was kowtowing to the government in Beijing by removing the offensive BBC World Service from his sattelites. News Corp's subsequently published a flattering biography of Deng Xiaoping, spiked a deal by another News Corp subsidiary to publish a book by Chris Patten (the former pain-in-the-middle-kingdom's-ass governor of Hong Kong), and called the Dalai Lama a "very political old monk shuffling around in Gucci shoes." i can do no better, though, than to quote Chinese president Jiang Zemin's praise (through the official Chinese news agency) of Rupert Murdoch and News Corp: "[Jiang] expressed appreciation of the efforts made by world media mogul Rupert Murdoch in presenting China objectively and co-operating with the Chinese press over the last two years". (via Reuters)

the Times has taken notice

the Times has taken notice of the homebrew wireless/NAN phenomenon as individuals work to bathe the Bay Area in 802.11. it seems that Manhattan would be an ideal location for this kind of effort -- high-density, with a good chance that there are thousands of unsecured corporate WiFi installations. (via NY Times)

i finally got around to

i finally got around to trolling my Mac sources, looking for some welcome good news. instead i found myself reading this story about yesterday's Senate Commerce Committee hearings:

While [Eisner] said some information technology companies believed in copyright protection, he singled out Apple's "Rip. Mix. Burn." ad campaign, saying the company was telling people "that they can create a theft if they buy this computer."
besides the amusing spectacle of Disney's CEO poking his finger in the eye of Pixar's CEO it's also a master-class in disingenuousness. of course Apple was saying nothing of the sort. in fact, Apple's digital audio marketing and packaging (for the iPod, for example) features the message "Don't Steal Music".

i hate it when people try to get their way by pretending we're too stupid to notice. (via MacMinute)

posted an angry little update

posted an angry little update to a story i blogged about the Senate Commerce Committee's hearings into how multinational media corporations need protection from you and me.

while posting this update update, i got angrier still. Disney and News Corp, who combined for $35 billion in revenue last year, flatly told a US Senator that they need protection from the citizens Fritz Hollings(D-South Carolina) represents. despite the fact that commercial intellectual property is already legally protected (ask Napster how much more protection the media pigopoly needs), Sen Hollings seems inclined to oblige Hollywood.

after its string of successes

after its string of successes in the war on poverty and the war on drugs, i think the US federal government really is ready to take the lead in the War on Piracy.

i look forward to the Dateline and 20/20 stories about the new [k]rak epidemic. i look forward to government-funded studies that call MP3 a "gateway file format" ("i started with MP3, but then i really got going when i found DivX"). i look forward to the First Lady telling schoolkids to "Just Click 'Cancel Download'". i look forward to the summary siezures of property of suspected iPod owners. i look forward to new "Three-Rips-And-You're-Out" mandatory life sentences.

but mostly, i look forward to more (and higher-quality) piracy, at lower prices than ever. (via Reuters)

a few stories have cropped

a few stories have cropped up about possible trouble at Steve Perlman's latest venture, Moxi Digital.

Steve himself has left his role as CEO and c|net News is reporting that two outside board members have resigned and employees have been asked to resubmit their resumes. BusinessWeek's saying that Moxi's burned through much of the $67 million it's raised and is on the hunt for more funding.

while Moxi burns, Steve's fiddling around with Rearden Steel Studios, his answer to Lucas Digital. (via TechDirt)

as restricted-use CDs (or, as

as restricted-use CDs (or, as Fat Chuck's calls them, "corrupt CDs") start hitting the shelves in greater numbers, the issue is beginning to attract more attention from the press, everyday consumers, and the government.

i think many more consumers would think twice about buying a restricted-use CD if they realized that, unless the artist had recouped* for the record label, the band that made the music on the CD wasn't going to make any money off their purchase, anyway. (via NY Times)

*don't know what that means? Steve Albini has done the math for you.