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Sunday, March 31, 2002

Rogert Ebert On Music Piracy
Don't Confuse Fans With Pirates

Why do people grab music off the Net and download it to CDs, iPods, and other storage devices? Because they like it. They like it a lot. They like it enough to go to the trouble of obtaining it despite the various roadblocks. They are fans. Would they rather have a mint CD from Virgin or Tower, with the original cover art? Of course. Will they eventually be paying customers for the music they are currently sampling? In most cases, yes. Technically they are stealing, but in fact they are an instrumental part of the process by which a lot of real CDs get sold.

posted by Donald Melanson @ 1:27 PM

Monday, March 25, 2002

Michael Powell at PC Forum
Dan Gillmor blogs the first days events at PC Forum. Of particular interest are FCC Chairman Michael Powell's comments:

The FCC is working on digital TV, and Powell says it's definitely coming. The transition is supposed to be finished by 2006. Fat chance. It won't be over by 2006, he says. "We say that it will, but we know that it won't."

Asked about the petition by Serius, the satellite-radio system, to effectively kill 802.11b, he urged people to use the public comment process to make their feelings known. He'll get an earful.

posted by Donald Melanson @ 7:05 PM

Digifest 2002 Wrapup Report
Final day's theme: game space. Fewer presentations, but high in technogeek content. Eric Zimmerman expounded on the theory of play. Games can be far more than mere first-person shooters. Among the other presentations: a feminist counterculture game titled Babes in the Woods; a simulation-documentary Pax Warrior, where one adopts the role of UN Force Commander during the Rwandan genocide of 1994; and Pirates!, presented by Lars Erik Holmquist, a wireless social party game where players engaged both face-to-face and via the computer. diginiche showed off some cool interactive visualization technology, though perhaps this better fit the theme of immersive space.
posted by Jim Lai @ 12:37 AM

Sunday, March 24, 2002

GameBoys Create Mutants!
Reuters reports on a new British study that shows devices such as GameBoys and mobile phones have caused a physical mutation in young people's hands, causing them to instinctively use their thumbs instead of their index fingers.

New research carried out in nine cities around the world shows that the thumbs of people under the age of 25 have taken over as the hand's most dexterous digit, said The Observer.

posted by Donald Melanson @ 3:40 PM

Saturday, March 23, 2002

Digifest 2002 Saturday Afternoon Report
Today's theme: film space. Today was packed full of stuff, but I'll try for some highlights. A visualization of the city of the future by an Italian futurist circa 1912. A gorgeous flim titled Le conte du monde flotant (The tale of the floating world), rich with digital composition of live action and synthetic elements. Digital technologies continue to invade filmmaking from multiple angles. The most geekly tech and art melding was a video presented by David Rokeby of an installation of a cluster of computers which spoke, listened, indicated their listening state via video, and had a disturbing tendency to achieve an equilibrium state of chanting in unison.
posted by Jim Lai @ 11:30 PM

Digifest 2002 Friday Night Report
I attended all the evening presentations. The theme: web space. A pair of official television program entertainment sites found that web community was an effective means of boosting viewer interest. Memorable highlights were a video of the Painstation, a modified two-player Pong game where the loser gets zapped, and a live presentation of software allowing live manipulation of 3D visualizations to music by Derivative, Inc.
posted by Jim Lai @ 12:47 PM

Friday, March 22, 2002

Digifest 2002 Thursday Night Report
I slipped in late but managed to catch the last 4 presentations under the day's theme of immersive space. Two presentations made a nice fit, as the counterpoint of the arts and sciences tackling the issue of disassociation (required for immersion) from different angles. Two architects presented their pieces on visualization, though one also had a novel concept house where the glass would be shuttered by LCDs in order to provide selective privacy.
posted by Jim Lai @ 2:30 PM

Thursday, March 21, 2002

Digifest 2002 Opening Night Report
Last night's launch was fairly packed with people, who no doubt kept the caterers busy. Derrick de Kerckhove was an entertaining lecturer. "Cognitive Design and Time" was packed with theory and ran a bit over time, though I didn't notice. Joe Davis' presentation was a wild trip, nonlinear at times. The theme of the festival is the "challenge of 4-D", but it seems just what is this 4th dimension is also up for grabs. The festival runs on until Sunday.
posted by Jim Lai @ 4:10 PM

Macworld Tokyo Report
Powerpage.org has a full report on the products introduced at Macworld Tokyo. The short of it: a Bluetooth Adapter, updated iPod software that lets you store contacts, a 10GB iPod, and a bigger Cinema display (23-inch). Apple will also be raising the price on the new iMacs by $100 for every model.
posted by Donald Melanson @ 3:21 PM

Wednesday, March 20, 2002

Digifest 2002 Gets Underway in TO
The Digifest digital media festival is now getting underway in Toronto. The festival, which runs through March 26, will feature keynotes from the likes of Derrick de Kerckhove and MIT's Joe Davis as well as numerous presentations in the fields of animation, 3D modeling, visual effects, VR, gaming and digital art.

Mindjack's Jim Lai is on the scene and will have a full report.

posted by Donald Melanson @ 7:04 PM

Tuesday, March 19, 2002

Sony Announces Really Big Screen Notebook
CNET reports on Sony's new Vaio notebook, featuring a ridiculously big 16.1" screen.

The company on Monday introduced a new Vaio GRX notebook that sports a 16.1-inch display. Sony says it's the first PC maker to offer a display of that expanse in a notebook. The display offers about the same viewing area as a 17-inch CRT monitor.

posted by Donald Melanson @ 9:18 PM

Microcontent News Launches
Microcontent News is a new magazine covering weblogs and personal publishing.

We're going to cover more than just weblogs in this online zine. Our mandate will be all of what we call "Microcontent": low-cost content formats like weblogs, community blogs, webzines, message boards, and ezines. We'll also cover sites and tools that draw on the rich power of blogs well - sites like Google, Blogdex, and Daypop... along with the emergence of revenue streams, like Microads and Syndication.

posted by Donald Melanson @ 3:48 PM

Sunday, March 17, 2002

SXSW Radio Theatre
Audio from SXSW Interactive is starting to pop up around the web. There's four hours of audio from Fray Cafe 2 on its site. And our own Cory Doctorow has put up a 16 minute mp3 of his reading at SXSW of his novel "Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom". both links via boing boing

Look for a report on SXSW by Jon Lebkowsky in tomorrow's Mindjack.

posted by Donald Melanson @ 9:34 PM

Underdogs Moves
The popular abandonware site Home of the Underdogs had it's domain name snapped up by a squatter. It is now located at: http://www.the-underdogs.org/.
posted by Donald Melanson @ 2:32 PM

Friday, March 15, 2002

p2p crisis calms in American colleges
The crisis over p2p usage in American colleges and universities appears to be calming down a bit. Fears of copyright infringement and bandwidth crunching have given way to software implementations, education (aptly!), and some pragmatism.

As blogged earlier in this Relay, such a relaxation might have something to do with college piracy dropping off.

One surprising note:

    Jonathan Lamy, a spokesman for the RIAA, said that for now the group is sticking to a hands-off approach on campuses, allowing individual schools to set their own policies. .."What we do is educate colleges and universities about copyright infringements, but we leave it to each school to decide what specific measures they will take against the unauthorized distribution of copyrighted work over the Internet," he said.

posted by Bryan Alexander @ 3:49 PM

reactions to ICANN's refusal of elections
ICANN's decision to not hold direct elections has generated fairly uniformly negative responses.

The US Congress is interested, and critical.

Already meeting in Ghana, some ICANNians are unhappy with the plan.

Let's see if this triggers democratic backlash as organization.

posted by Bryan Alexander @ 11:51 AM

Thursday, March 14, 2002

Hawaii Gets All Wireless
Business 2.0 has a story on Bill Wiecking who has set up a DIY wireless network covering more than 300 square miles of Hawaii.
posted by Donald Melanson @ 3:39 PM

British Telecom takes a blow in its quest to become hypertext's owner and creator
A court finds that Brit Telecom's suit is off-base. While the ambitious company claims to have come up with the idea of hyperlinking, the court determined that the company's patent was more focused on data storage within an individual computer. This weakens BT's case considerably.

At the same time, Wired offers a fun article about an old programmer who counterclaims he invented the hyperlink.

Hyperlinking is what links pages together, makes hypertext writing happen, and arguably describes what happens whenever a user moves from one digital unit to another. BT's claim is a bid for enormous scope over digital media.

posted by Bryan Alexander @ 10:38 AM

Wednesday, March 13, 2002

Miyamoto Interviewed in LA Times
The Los Angeles Times interviewed Shigeru Miyamoto, Nintendo's lead game designer, and director and general manager Satoru Iwata, about the company's increased marketing efforts towards an older market.
posted by Donald Melanson @ 2:28 PM

EFF Takes On Battle.net Case
The Electronic Frontier Foundation has responded to a cease and desist letter sent to Internet Gateway Inc., the ISP hosting the bnetd software that emulates Blizzard's Battle.net multi-player gaming service. Vivendi, Blizzard's parent company, says the software violates the DMCA.

"Corporations have wielded the DMCA to censor magazines, academic researchers, and competitors," said EFF Senior Intellectual Property Attorney Fred von Lohmann. "Now Vivendi is using the DMCA to threaten customers who simply want to improve the gaming environment for a product they've purchased legitimately."

posted by Donald Melanson @ 12:09 AM

Tuesday, March 12, 2002

Kurzweil "Teleports" to Conference
In a demonstration fo Teleportec's two way "teleportation technology", Ray Kurzeil appeared at the Nanoventures 2002 conference in 3D, holographic-like form. Steve Jurvetson of Draper Fisher Jurvetson said it looked like "at least 95% of the real thing".
posted by Donald Melanson @ 3:29 PM

Monday, March 11, 2002

Do we have the right to copy digital materials we've purchased?
Steven Levy has an update on the ElcomSoft trial. Another important case of the DMCA in implementation.

The piece asks a good, provocative question: do we have the right to hack digital materials we've bought? For example, if we lose a pw, can we crack our copy? Put another way, can we space-shift, as VCRs allow us to time-shift?

posted by Bryan Alexander @ 8:06 PM

Thursday, March 07, 2002

Synapse Goes on Hiatus
Mindjack's online community, Synapse, will be offline for the next little while. We need to move it off the old server and are taking this opportunity to retool some things and relaunch it in the near future. In the meantime, we'll be adding some additional features to the rest of the Mindjack site, likely including comments in both the blog and the magazine. If you have any suggestions for what you'd like to see improved or added to Synapse, send your comments to editor@mindjack.com.
posted by Donald Melanson @ 4:32 PM

Wednesday, March 06, 2002

College campus software piracy down, according to study
Florida researcher Chiang finds college students ripping less, not more.
posted by Bryan Alexander @ 3:26 PM

Claims of rampant movie piracy
Peter Cherin - head of News Corp - tells* us movie theft (i.e., downloading and swapping) is taking off:

Chernin Claims Millions Of Pirated Movies Are Being Downloaded

"News Corp President and COO Peter Chernin has boosted the estimate of the number of illegally downloaded copies of movies to one million per day and has warned that the survival of the motion picture industry is "threatened by the lack of digital content protection." Some experts have expressed skepticism about such estimates -- Chernin's is nearly twice that of most others' in the industry, and even those have been criticized as highly exaggerated. Given current broadband limitations, most illegal movie downloads are believed to be carried out in college dorms with high-speed Internet access. Speaking at a Financial Times conference in London, Chernin was particularly critical of hardware manufacturers whom he accused of touting features on personal computers and other devices that allow -- and even encourage -- the copying of copyrighted material. "We are raising a generation that looks at stealing as being okay," he warned."

*temporary link, to be found at the IMDB archive

posted by Bryan Alexander @ 11:25 AM

Mindjack coasters are now available from our Cafe Press store for only $5. These feature another fine illustration by Matt Hinrichs.
posted by Donald Melanson @ 12:40 AM

Tuesday, March 05, 2002

Morpheus Didn't Pay Its Bills
According to Kazaa, the reason Morpheus was shut down last week was because the company didn't pay its bills. Morpheus, the file-sharing network owned by MusicCity, also known as StreamCast, had been the largest such network on the net since Napster. Now Kazaa seems ready to pick up that title.

Not left out of this, however, is of course the RIAA, who is suing both companies. Kazaa and StreamCast's have constantly pointed out that their networks are decentralized and they had no control over what was done with them. As the RIAA have now pointed out, this latest development shows that the network can be shut down from a central point.

posted by Donald Melanson @ 8:48 PM

Steven Levy posts a good article on copyright protection, arguing two main points. First, IP holders start from the assumption that customers tend to be pirates. Compare this with the Supreme Court's Betamax decision, which held that some folks would pirate, while many others wouldn't, and therefore the tech couldn't be outlawed for the actions of only one audience slice.
Second, protection measures will depress, not safeguard, sales. "Business-school professors could feast for years on the unintended consequences that come from treating Britney Spears tunes like nuclear secrets. Clearly, clamping locks on electronic equipment and intentionally crippling CDs wouldnít increase sales. Would it depress sales? Almost certainly."

posted by Bryan Alexander @ 10:35 AM

Monday, March 04, 2002

DivX 5.0 was released today. It comes in three variations, DivX (free), DivX Pro ($30) and an ad-supported version of DivX Pro. DivX is available for Windows, Mac and Linux.
posted by Donald Melanson @ 5:27 PM

Pretty good overview of Web-based writing, from blogs to reputation-managed communities.

posted by Bryan Alexander @ 4:07 PM

Sunday, March 03, 2002

The W3 retreated from an earlier proposal to set up a royalty scheme for Web innovations. The consortium took a lot of heat on this one.
A rare spot of sunshine, this.

posted by Bryan Alexander @ 1:44 PM

Saturday, March 02, 2002

Copyright wars heat up as Hollings holds hearings on the Hill. The big players are in motion.
Valenti and Eisner lead the IP (intellectual property) charge. For them, it's a question of theft vs a healthy economy - copyright is the health of the state. Intel's VP offers sole dissent, and enters, ah, dialogue. I think this representative hardware resistance will drive the result to something other than the Hollings bill. Kazaa, dissed, fires back - this is a very sustained, rich defense of p2p.
Meanwhile, the Grammys feature a fierce anti-"piracy" snap. Goes well with a series of CNN HN spots.

posted by Bryan Alexander @ 6:51 PM

Bruce Sterling's written a great article on the importance of South by Southwest Interactive, happening this month. With a little luck we'll have some coverage in Mindjack. via boing boing
posted by Donald Melanson @ 6:50 PM

Slashdot switches to subscriptions. The new format will cost readers $5 to view 1000 pages without ads.
posted by Donald Melanson @ 5:27 PM

Ok folks, Daily Relay is back. We've temporarily switched from Moveable Type to Blogger, but you shouldn't see any difference except for the lack of comments. Again, apologies for the interruption. Now, on with the blogging.
posted by Donald Melanson @ 3:57 PM

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