Saturday, February 24, 2007


This guy commented on my last rant about DRM and Apple.
I just need to point out that the diagrams that he provides on his tutorials are pure art.

Away From Keyboard.

I imagine that this will be my last post for some time as I am departing for a tour of Southeast Asia. The planned itinerary will take me and some wacky German backpackers to Cambodia, Laos, and Myanmar (Burma) with travel stops in Qatar and Bangkok. I have a keen art history interest to take in the temples of Angkor in Cambodia. Angkor Wat (pictured above) is the largest religious building standing on the entire planet.
If anyone has thought to install cyber-terminals in the jungle I will check in and maybe do some travel blogging.
If anyone is interested in information about my destinations, check out the CIA World Factbook. This is a great place for a neutral perspective on Southeast Asia . . . err . . . or maybe not.

Count the Ways That Steve Jobs Loves You:
Digital Locks Galore!

Recently, I have been meeting more Americans that are passing through Berlin. This has coincided with more instances of me hearing about a device called the iPod.
For future reference, spending time getting an earful about what bands you have on your shiny new portable- overpriced- industrial- design- wonder- 8-track-player at the very least bores me to tears, and I will avoid commenting on attempts to start such a conversation like a bad rash. I am consistently amazed at how this marketing phenomenon has tapped into the concept of identity for a very large group of consumers, and frankly this fetishism irritates me.

A guy from BoingBoing has written a very good article for Salon laying out the many ways that "Digital Rights Management" software locks are bad for the distribution of digital media and how Steve Jobs continues to be pleased to have these written into every product he sells.

"If you rip your own CDs and load them onto your iPod, you'll notice something curious. The iPod is a roach motel: Songs check in, but they don't check out. Once you put music on your iPod, you can't get it off again with Apple's software. No recovering your music collection off your iPod if your hard drive crashes. What's more, Apple prevents copying indiscriminately. You can't copy any music off your iPod. Apple even applies the no-copying measure to audio released under a Creative Commons license . . . which prohibits adding DRM."

"At the end of the day, DRM is the biggest impediment to a legitimate music market. Apple doesn't sell music because of DRM -- it sells music in spite of DRM. The iTunes Store proves that you can compete with free. People have bought billions of dollars worth of music from Apple because it offered a better user experience. But no one bought for the DRM. Some people bought in spite of it, some bought in ignorance of it, but there's no customer for whom DRM is a selling point. No one woke up this morning wishing for a way to do less with her music."

"A weird little no-name from the wildly imaginative entrepreneurs of Malaysia" sounds like a much better set up to me, especially considering it costs ten percent of the price. But I do not walk around drowning out the world with pop music 24 hours a day either, so I guess the point is moot. I wonder if this makes people feel invincible and smooth like Shaft as they have catchy theme music available for even the most mundane of tasks . . .

Thursday, February 22, 2007

This is funny.

Seeing as you guys were having a dialogue about what kinds of activities are available in online games . . .

Monday, February 19, 2007

Once Upon a Time... your Mr. Alex approved Billmon replacement. Enjoy the soul crushing depression...

Friday, February 16, 2007

The Legend of John Frum

I heard a fascinating story on BBC radio yesterday morning about a cargo cult in the South Pacific. Indigenous cultures which fetishize Western goods and technology are labeled cargo cults (a western anthropological term). It seems to be an adaptation of traditional beliefs to a drastically revised world view. For us to consider the point of view of the unindustrialized world carries a high risk of false assumptions. It's important to remember that there are as many globalisms as there are perspectives.

Link to a Smithsonian Magazine story about the cult of John Frum.
Link to a video documenting John Frum Day, via Google Video.
below: A wicker plane built by a cargo cult.)

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Get 'Em, Al!

(CNN) -- Outspoken comedian and liberal radio host Al Franken announced Wednesday that he intends to run for the U.S. Senate from his home state of Minnesota.

On his Web site -- alfranken.comexternal link -- the NBC "Saturday Night Live" veteran said he will vie for the seat now held by Republican Sen. Norm Coleman.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Threads... a BBC docudrama from 1984. It has a running time of 1 hour, 47 minutes. It is quite possibly the most depressing film I have ever seen...

Sunday, February 04, 2007

The Year 12,000

These drawings are from a fascinating design commission by the U.S. Department of Energy. The goal of the commission was to develop a system of signs and monuments to communicate the danger of nuclear waste deposits to future generations, for up to ten-thousand years. The document unpacks the different modes of meaning and abstraction which are relevant to the communication between civilizations across yawning expanses of time and forgetfulness. The advice of the design committee was largely ignored by the bureaucrats, who shied away from more abstract or emotive forms in favour of signage.

Link to the "Expert Judgement on Markers to Deter Inadvertent Human Intrusion into the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant, Sandia National Laboratories report " (the design commitee report)
Link to "U.S. Department of Energy : Permanent Markers Implementation Plan" (the government follow-up)
Link to a related Village Voice article.

source: Jill Butler, Kritina Holden and William Lidwell. Universal Principles of Design (Gloucester, Mass: Rockport, 2003),24-25.