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Karlin Lillington's weblog on whatever comes to mind...

Last Build Date: Mon, 28 Jul 2003 09:32:28 GMT

Copyright: Copyright 2003 Karlin Lillington

Mon, 28 Jul 2003 09:32:28 GMT

NB: This blog will pack up and move to soon. Over the weekend, I moved my links site there, where it's living happily. The blog will take more time (not that it is hard, but it takes lots of advance thought to make sure it's a smooth process). By the way. the UK hosting company I'm using (on recommendation of John Robb),, got a lot of bloggers after John's mention and they are looking at building in tools that specifically support bloggers. They seem like really nice guys and have been very helpful to me (and prices are excellent). Check them out if you're looking for a hosting service.

Mon, 28 Jul 2003 09:27:48 GMT

Out of the U.S. and Out of Luck to Download Music Legally. Online music-selling services have far fewer restrictions than they used to, but they do not necessarily travel well.  [New York Times: Technology]

This really drives European friends crazy -- and what drives them even crazier is that I have a US credit card so can sign up for things like Apple's Music Store anyway...! But all that aside -- this story fits right in with something I was going to write about this morning. No, not a crabby rant about how the RIAA needs a better business plan than suing its potential customers.

Instead, I wanted to note that I spent a happy evening last night downloading music from the absolutely wonderful eMusic (after writing my story on how eBay is coming to Dublin, but bureaucracy in the Irish govt and the IDA (Irish Development Agency), which tried to force them to go outside Dublin, nearly lost them this investment. I'll put the piece up on the blog later but if you already subscribe to you can read it at the link above).

But back to eMusic. While this service does not carry the big labels, it has an extraordinary array of independent labels and back catalogues of, in particular, jazz and classical music. It even has some very mainstream British acts like Badly Drawn Boy. You pay $9.99 a month for a year (slightly more for 3 or 6 month memberships) and you get unlimited downloads; all can be burned unlimited times, transferred, etc. I signed up for a year and have long since had the value of my entire membership fee (within two months), compared to if I had bought albums.

I was once a serious music buyer, and loved experimenting with new sounds across all genres. Then along came CDs and their ridiculous pricing. I stopped buying all but a minimal amount of music -- for a good 20 years. RIAA, do you hear that? You basically lost me as a customer for YOUR clients, the musicians, whom you are supposed to represent, for 20 years because of the price gouging habits of the industry you represent.

In between Apple's Music Store and eMusic (and especially eMusic), I have rediscovered the pure joy of experimenting. And with eMusic especially, where I have no additional outlay to make, I am hearing real music again from smaller labels that can take risks -- not the palaver that the main labels have been spewing out (also making me not want to buy much but classical and jazz, where I know I am getting value and pleasure, for the bulk of 20 years). You can find a huge variety of artists in all genres. New music, back catalogue, old classics. I really encourage anyone who enjoys music to try out eMusic, which has a free introductory offer where you can download loads of MP3s before deciding whether to join. Then I'll bet you'll join.

Today I will have great fun listening to what I downloaded last night -- some sultry jazz singers, an incredible LP by Tony Bennett and the great, great jazz pianist Bill Evans (which I know will become one of my treasures), Stereolab, Ricky Skaggs, Mozart's Requiem recorded by the Vienna Philharmonic and Mozart piano concertos by Neville Marriner and the Academy of St Martin in the Fields, Tom Waits, oh, so much, much more. eMusic gets it, totally.

Mon, 28 Jul 2003 09:06:19 GMT

Unknown. "I have not lost my mind - it's backed up on disk somewhere." [Quotes of the Day]

Mon, 28 Jul 2003 09:05:50 GMT

From Danny: bush-o-meter. "Collated statistics on Bush approval/disapproval ratings. The site's obviously a bit biased, but the figures are straight and quite fascinating. It's amazing how jittery opinion is about Bush, especially when compared to other presidents." [Oblomovka]

Mon, 28 Jul 2003 09:04:21 GMT

From the Guardian's Snapster, son of Napster. "Robert Cringely has figured out the future of the music file-sharing business, maybe."

And they also have this (not recommended near mealtimes!): "You think it's moving but it's not. You think it's moving but it's not. Here are lots more examples of "rotational illusion" but you may need to lie down afterwards...."..

Fri, 25 Jul 2003 22:22:08 GMT

Linux wars: Big Blue strikes back. IBM argues that SCO's demands for Unix license revenue are undermined by its earlier shipment of an open-source Linux product. [CNET]

Fri, 25 Jul 2003 22:21:25 GMT

Reality check: Jupiter Research has published some interesting figures on blogging. Somewhere between 2.4 and 2.9 million active blogs exist, but they remain a tiny slice of web life. Only 2% of web users have created a blog, and only an estimated 4% read them (which is a good reminder to bloggers and media people to always explain the word weblog and blog and not assume your audience has any idea whatsoever of what you're talking about :^) ...). Blogging is split fairly evenly between genders, but more men than women read them (a 60/40 split). Nearly 3/4ths (73%) of blog readers have been online for 5 years or more, suggesting (to me) they are either fairly young or the more techie crowd that first jumped online. Of the live weblogs, Blogcount believes 1.6 million are part of three main services: How Many Blogs?   Registered Active As of LiveJournal 1,121,464 526,535 June 2003 Blogger 1,500,000 705,000 June 2003 DiaryLand 850,000 400,000 March 2003 TOTALS 3,471,464 1,631,535   Note: Based on management reports Source: Blogcount (chart from Jupiter CyberAtlas) And here's a chart on blog languages, based on the 655,631 Weblogs currently indexed by the The National Institute for Technology and Liberal Education (NITL) BlogCensus. Granted, that leaves at least about 2 million of them unevaluated by language... Top Blogging Languages Language Count English 350097 Portuguese 54496 Polish 42677 Farsi 27002 French 10381 Spanish 9509 German 7736 Italian 7017 Dutch 3684 Icelandic 3542 Source: NITL BlogCensus All of this suggests a very, very small -- but growing -- phenomenon. Read the full piece here.[...]

Fri, 25 Jul 2003 15:20:34 GMT

Hee hee!! Letter to the Editor from today's Irish Times:

Madam, - Now I know what the spire is for - it's for holding Liam Lawlor's receipts! - Yours, etc.,

GERARD LEE, Crumlin, Dublin 12.

Fri, 25 Jul 2003 12:18:25 GMT

Moving news: OK, I'm going to try and port my site over to my new domain, which is (taaa-daaa!) Probably over the weekend, and I'll be using other Radio user's suggestions on how to do this and leave the old archive up to the changeover point on Userland's servers, while also pointing to my new domain.

I need to think about how I will organise the site but am quite excited at the prospect of finally having a proper domain of my own and getting rid of the unwieldy URLs of my existing sites. I'll put my links site over to the domain, too. And have a section for my privacy archive and I'll at last get my doctoral dissertation onto the site under a Creative Commons license (for all you Seamus Heaney/Irish Studies scholars out there...).

So be prepared to re-bookmark me!

Fri, 25 Jul 2003 12:10:21 GMT

The software contrarian. Sybase’sJohn Chen on why total cost of ownership is a farce, industry consolidation is not inevitable and why Larry Ellison is not everyone’s idea of the software messiah. [CNET]

Fri, 25 Jul 2003 12:08:51 GMT

Darwinian Poetry: From Bad to Verse [Slashdot]

Fri, 25 Jul 2003 09:53:03 GMT

Fonts derived from old-school videogames. (image) "Super-frag-olicious. This website offers free, downloadable font sets derived from classic 8-bit computer games."

Link, Discuss  [Boing Boing Blog]

Fri, 25 Jul 2003 09:19:14 GMT

Gartner Says Delay Linux Deployment Due to SCO [Slashdot]: ...Wearing my journalist's hat, I've raised this as a business point with Linux people (including those at big Linux partners like Oracle) a couple of times and they routinely dismiss the impact. But businesses have to consider potential outcomes. So this doesn't surprise me. I'm not sure if Linux companies actually underestimate the threat (which would mean many don't really understand business imperatives in the enterprise market) or if they've decided to treat the threat with a deliberately placid front. I don't think the suit can simply be waved away just because almost no one has viewed the suspect code. Big companies must always consider, "What if..." when making an IT investment if a lawsuit could have an impact on the investment.

Fri, 25 Jul 2003 09:11:29 GMT

Desperately seeking Kraftwerk. The creators of electronica are back at work - and not accepting visitors. Alexis Petridis goes anyway. [Guardian Unlimited]

Fri, 25 Jul 2003 09:09:15 GMT

Ouch: Sony's Profit Falls 98% on Weak Demand. Sony reported quarterly profits plunged 98 percent. Nobuyuki Idei, the chairman, said the company has pledged to generate stronger profit margins by 2006. [New York Times: Technology]

Thu, 24 Jul 2003 13:21:30 GMT

(image) I've gone analogue. Again. Frustrated by the short life span, poor sound quality, and dying battery in my digital cordless phone, I've disconnected it and replugged in my old analogue handset. Ahhhh. Comfortable handset, clear sound at the right volume, no additional costs. I can ask Eircom to provide free call answering services on my phone plan, so I don't even need to go buy an answering machine (the last one I bought before going digital was $20 in California from Costco... in 1988. Lasted 12 years. Never broke. Unlike crappy, misbehaving, expensive new ones).

For a decent cordless phone I'd be looking at the guts of €150. Then there are battery replacement costs. And the eventual phone replacement costs. And if the electricity goes, it doesn't work (like... in an emergency). My arm gets cramped holding those small digital handsets. The whole point of my home phone is that it is supposed to be a more pleasant speaking experience than using my (shudder) mobile -- which I prefer to regard as a portable answering machine anyway. I only realise now how much I have hated my digital phone for the last three years.

So: I've gone back to analogue, which beats out cordless digital in terms of price, comfort, sound and safety. What a Luddite I am. It sure is great to enjoy using a phone again, though.

Thu, 24 Jul 2003 10:39:24 GMT

Slashdot links to another piece on the Computer History Museum (My Irish Times piece is here [with stupid headline not provided by me...], and will also have a different piece in the UK Guardian in a week or so). Re-Opened Computer History Museum Explored. There's some great commentary and tales coming up in the discussion, if you like computing history.

I liked this comment from one Slashdotter:

I am currently working on restoring a piece of the ENIAC at the University of Michigan - I know that when the piece was prepared for display, they literally put the computer in the back of a pickup truck and took it to the local do-it-yourself high-pressure car wash. Can't exactly do that with today's computers, eh?

I interviewed a guy who collects Commodore 64s a few years ago for a Guardian piece on Silicon Valley's Vintage Computer Festival (still have the 'geek' t-shirt!), and he told me that when he gets really dusty ones he takes out the circuit board, sticks the board in the dishwasher with no detergent, then puts it in an oven on low to dry out for an hour or two. Puts it back in and the PC works fine. Heh!

So many great stories start to surface when people discuss old computers or their industry experiences from the past.

Thu, 24 Jul 2003 10:22:07 GMT

Paris Wi-Fi: Drizzle, Not Sizzle. "Despite free Wi-Fi service near and in Metro and train stations, usage was low: Esme Vos writes that only 1,700 people tried the free Wi-Fi in Paris during the first three months of the trial. A large minority only used it once (probably tracked via their MAC address). When Parisians return from their month-long vacations, they'll find it's now 10 euros an hour to use the service that they weren't using in large numbers anyway...." [Wi-Fi Networking News]

Thu, 24 Jul 2003 10:20:24 GMT

(image) Audiopad: Linux-based musical gizmo. "Audiopad is a musical composition and performance device that tracks the positions of objects on a flat surface, then converts their motion into music. Developed by MIT PhD students James Patten and Ben Recht, the system is is powered by Debian Linux. It consists of a set of electronically tagged objects on a tabletop, a matrix of antennae that track the objects, and an LCD projector which displays an animated UI." Link to QuickTime demo movie, Discuss (via
[Boing Boing Blog]

Thu, 24 Jul 2003 10:18:55 GMT

Training molecules to draw chips. Researchers at the University of Wisconsin have come up with a way to organize molecules through lithography, the science of "drawing" chip circuits. [CNET]

Thu, 24 Jul 2003 10:13:14 GMT

US to show corpse photos. [Guardian Unlimited]... Hmmmm. The US government considers it fine to show what it describes as "horrific" pictures of corpses to the Iraqi people as long as they are of Saddam Hussein's sons, but pushed hard to block the media showing pictures of the corpses of war dead in the US, and even abroad.

Thu, 24 Jul 2003 10:07:48 GMT

MIT Technology Review: Don't Break E-Mail To Save It. Vipul Ved Prakash, founder and chief scientist for Cloudmark: "My perspective on design of spam filtration solutions is centered around exploitation of the various constraints of the spammer. One thing we don't talk about enough is the fact that spammers have rather serious constraints." [Tomalak's Realm]

Wed, 23 Jul 2003 18:08:59 GMT

My dad just emailed me to let me know that his co-researcher at Rand Corporation in the 1960s, Dr Ginsberg, has confirmed I did indeed play 'hangman' with the Johnniac, as noted in the reminiscence below. I'm sure he won't mind if I post his comments, which add a bit more background on this machine:

The Johnniac may have been “decommissioned” at some point but I remember clearly that we were using it for time sharing using Teletype terminals well into the late 60’s if not into the early 70’s.  By that time we had IBM mainframes, but the JOSS time sharing (for Johniac Operating System or something like that, which formed the basis for the BASIC programming language invented by John Kemeny at Dartmouth)) kept on ticking for quite a while.  And yes, it start by saying “Hello” and if you made an error, all it could do was say “Huh?”  Also, I have heard that there were actually two Johnniacs – one at RAND and one at Princeton where Von Neuman was.  There’s no doubt that was the machine Karlin played on since that was the only time sharing system we had in those days.

Wed, 23 Jul 2003 17:38:30 GMT

Boston Globe: Blogs shake the political discourse. [Scripting News]