The new limit of DRM lunacy: requiring fingerprints for DVDs

Wired has this story about researchers at UCLA coming up with what has to be the most assinine form of DRM yet: a DVD that will be encoded so it will only play for the person who specifically bought it. This is accomplished through some handwaving mumbo-jumbo involving that recent poster child of privacy invasion: the RFID chip.

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Self-replicating robots are here

This story from the BBC explains how researchers at Cornell have created a very simple robot that can assemble a duplicate of itself.

Now, it’s not the time to panic (yet). The robot can only really
assemble a duplicate of itself if it has the correct parts. In this
case, each robot is made up of three cubes, each of which contain
motors, a processor, and programming. Aside from making more of
themselves out of these building blocks, the robots really can’t do
much else.

Sony patents beaming sights and sounds into your brain

Hastening the day that we all become batteries for powering our robotic overlords, Sony has patented beaming senses into the human brain, according to this story at Yahoo News. Now all the machines need to do is rise up, stick us in a pod, and beam images into our eyes onfa mundane reality while sapping our bodies of electricity. Yay Sony!

You know, sights from a game might be cool to have beamed into your brain. However, I’ve been addicted to… err… playing a lot of World of Warcraft recently. Visuals are one thing, but honestly, I really don’t want to smell an orc or a troll, especially after I have bludgeoned the thing to death.

FCC to put the kibosh on regulations requiring "naked DSL"

According to this story at CNet, the FCC is considering striking down local regulations in California, Florida, and several other states that require phone companies that provide DSL services to offer those services without requiring the customer to also have a traditional land line.

Blocking this regulation will essentially raise the price of DSL service, and strangle the move many people are making away from traditional land lines to relying solely on cell phones or VOIP services, such as Vonage (both of which I’ve been considering, given that Verizon is charging me $45 just for local phone service).

Good to see the FCC is still looking out for the big guys.

Customers totally ignore security issues

So, security has been hyped in the press and especially in ads over the past few years… various IT ads talk about security, keeping out hackers, etc. But is Joe Sixpack actually paying attention?

Recently, Paris Hilton (one of those people it seems is simply famous for being famous… oh and for having her knookie tape broadcast all over the Internet) recently had her T-Mobile smartphone hacked, with its phone list of celebrities (and even pictures of her breasts taken with the camera phone) posted all over the web. T-Mobile’s security (or lack thereof) was at fault. This is just one of several breeches of security that has hit T-Mobile.

So, of course, the free market being what it is, people are now leaving T-Mobile in droves, especially eschewing the products that have been so famously hacked, right? Apparently not, as T-Mobile is selling out of Sidekicks, the unit Hilton owned that was hacked.

So, I guess what we have is the confluence of “there’s no such thing as bad publicity” and “there’s a sucker born every minute.”

Saying “I love you” with Science!

Well, here’s a novel use for bioengineering: culture a bone sample to grow onto a toroidal scaffold, and you can give a loved one a ring made out of your own bone.

Of course, after you die, you could also have your cremated ashes made into a diamond, and then set in that ring.

Nothing like saying “I love you” in an extreamely creepy way. Makes Billy Bob Thornton and Angelina Jolie’s idea of matching tattoos and vials of each other’s blood seem Victorian in comparison.

Anti-public wifi astroturfing uncovered

This story at Slashdot should be interesting to “Tales of the Sausage Factory” fans. It seems that the “New Millennium Research Council (NMRC)” and “The Heartland Institute” claim that municipal wifi would be a Very Bad Thing Indeed. There’s only one little snag with this slam-dunk against public wifi… NMRC is funded by the telecommunications industry, and the Heartland Institute won’t reveal who pays their bills and holds their leash. Shock! Suprise!

Personally, I always love the names that these “institutes” and “think tanks” come up with. Nice, wholesome names, aren’t they? Who could possibly argue with the Heartland? Who wants to be a luddite against the new Millenium? (yes, yes, John, I mean besides you.)

outsource top management

This essay by Dick Gabriel is cute, short (one page), and worth reading. Dick has a long history of thought-provoking good-news bad news jokes: this one’s about outsourcing and executive compensation.

By the way, Dick was great Lisp programmer at Stanford who founded a great Lisp company and sold it to his competitor to go work in computer science labs. Then he dropped out of tech at to get an MFA in poetry at a relatively advanced age. He writes, talks to anyone who will listen, and is a great curmudgeon. Reminds me a lot of John. Check out the photo. Better yet, check out his other writings at his Dreamsongs site.

Newsflash: Titan sounds like old Atari 2600 games

Being somewhat of a space nerd, I’ve been following the progress of the Huygens probe mission for the last few days (besides, watching space press conferences streaming via the web is more fun than working, even if they are largely in French and German).

One of the instruments on the Huygens was essentially a microphone, and in addition to the pictures that look like they were taken with a first generation Logitech webcam, the ESA have released MP3s of sounds recorded through the microphone. I was anxious to hear what another planet sounded like… boy was I shocked to learn it sounded a lot like the bleeps and hisses that passed for sound in the old Atari 2600 game console from the 70’s and 80’s.

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