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and introducing the flash moon

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This week, we also wondered, should we worry about Google? Will it do us any good if we do? And why should we expect it to behave any better than any other big corporation?

Corporations don't have ethics, they have public relations. While anti-monopoly legislation may have edge cases as silly as laws against dangerous dogs, both kinds of law are needed to modify the psychopathic behaviour of the kind which ends up controlling dangerous animals or corporations.

Anti-trust and anti-monopoly laws also seem to make glacial progress within a faster moving industry, but without the threat of these laws the company which previously held the 800lb Gorilla title would be controlling the processing of all of the information on the planet. At least having an 800lb Googzilla with similar influence within advertising prevents Microsloshed from having everything its own way.

Richard


Geeks. Showers. A heady mix.

It should be noted that the techs hired by Best Buy are no more engineers than they are astronauts. Calling them engineers is an insult to those who have worked hard to achieve that distinction.

Morely


A dusty old tome containing the earliest written advice for magicians has been translated into English, 500 year safter its initial publication. Which prompted this tribute to one of our favourites, Richard Feynman:

I bought, but will never finish for reason of sheer stupidity, the greatest book of tricks of the latter half of the twentieth Century, by one of the Great Magicians himself [although he would not be amused to be so called, and not in a small way]: The Feynman Lectures on Physics. There is great value in the humble experience of knowing how truly monumental ones lack of knowledge really is. There is a class of people who actually do understand it [luckily], but they then realize there is so much more knowledge out there that they do not possess.

I just had to say it. Da Vinci was the unsurpassed genius of his age, made me think of Richard Feynman, one of the greatest teachers our species has ever seen.

Jorge


Phew! Tila Tequila isn't the future of music:

Reading your piece on Tila Tequila I can't help but be struck by the similarities between her and Sandi Thom. The latter was also 'discovered' online, supposedly broadcasting her performances over the web for anyone who wanted to watch them. All very edgy, rebellious and Web 2.0 as the mainstream media were quick to sieze on.

Of course, in their stampede to laud this latest triumph for New Media, the salivating hacks all failed to notice that in order to do what she was supposedly doing would require the resources and bandwidth of a fairly sizable ISP. Unless, of course, she had backing from a major corporation...

Regards,

Mike


So the lesson here is that record companies still have a future because you can't get crappy music to top the charts without them? Is filling the charts with good stuff not considered a viable option, then? I realise that no one's ever tried it before, but... regards, unitron


Are Songwriters Double Dipping? enquiring minds want to know:

"ASCAP announced it received record revenues of $785m in 2006"

And what on Earth did it do with all that money ? Who did it give it to ? Some guy in Columbia ?

Pascal.

Andrew Orlowski replies: The collection agencies are under tight regulatory scrutiny. Peter Jenner put the distinction between record companies and collection agencies like ASCAP nicely here - "So in collection agencies, while money can get systematically stolen, it's like petty theft. It's like retail losses from shoplifting. The agencies are really just shoplifters, but the major labels are burglars, and the worst of them are like armed robbers!"


I can understand where they are potentially comming from, however, if a TV network voluntarily places a tv show available for download/streaming, then should not the network pay royalties per download/view? In a sence this would be the same thing that the music companies are doing when they pay for the purchase of the music by the end user.

As far as charging for the download for the MP3, for which they are already being compensated, they should not be compensated again.


We're really not doing these people a service. When you're thinking of downloading a song you know, you're actually very likely to hear the song 'playing in your head'.

Now, since obviously the only performance that really counts is the one being processed in your head, where all the awareness of the world is being made sense of [or in the case of Microsoft: put up with], this is a performance for which the artist should be compensated. If there is no cortex to appreciate the performance is there a performance at all? If you play the record in the jungle and there is nobody to hear it, is there a performance?

Difficult questions al.

Frances

Er, we're going for a lie down after that one...


We brought you the news that Free Music Has Never Seemed So Cheap, in which Andrew Orlowski argues that legal music without DRM just makes buying digital music look less attractive - because you get all the goodies illegally anyway:

I find this continued saga very interesting. I am the owner of a big music collection. I have something like 1000 physical CDs, and I always used to have the policy of buying an album if I heard a couple of songs off it that I liked. I also have all these albums stored on a big MP3 volume (which I do not share any further than my own home – 1 user!). Over 100Gb of the stuff which I painstakingly converted a few years back and since have consistently kept up to date. But you know what, I have got depressed with the record industry.

The last album from the big 4 that I bought was 2 years ago. There are lots of albums I would like, but the price has gone up too much to justify getting them, and I’m always scared that they might have some sort of copy protection on them which would prevent me uploading them onto my MP3 volume, or that they might have a rootkit that will compromise my home PC when I try to upload them.

Does that mean I’m not buying albums – well actually no. My collection is expanding in different ways, so I’m buying a lot more Jazz than I used to (and something like 30Gb of my collection is Jazz already). Stuff I can get from indie labels is taking priority. At the same time I’m not touching digital music – the reasons for this being twofold.

Firstly, I want the physical media – I like browsing my collection – the principles of the book/film Hi-Fi are all too true. Secondly and more importantly, I do not want to pay over the odds for my music, nor have it DRM encumbered. I expect the reduction in overheads of a digital distribution network to be passed onto me, the customer.

At the moment, the legal download music that I can get (and I don’t even consider illegal btw) consists of overpriced music with DRM, or seriously overpriced music without DRM. I could go to places like AllOfMP3.com, but the legality of them is dubious at the moment, and I don’t want to face a lawsuit against the music industry, since I don’t have the funds to win – despite the high moral ground I am on. Overall, the music industry has driven away an ardent fan. Dave


I liked your article, however one inconsistency has bothered me. You refer to these new DRM free downloads as costing $2 each or $20 an album, but many other sources are only saying a 30% price premium. If it is only 30% then this represents a cost of $1.29 - $1.30 depending on the rounding which is nowhere near the $2 you mentioned. Brian


Next up, an angry boyscout writes:

Where have you been for the 40 years since "Boy" was dropped from the name of the Scout Association? Or the 20-odd years since girls were first admitted to the organisation? Or during the first 3 months of 2007, the Scouts' centenary year, when Scouts have been on TV almost every week with a large proportion being unmistakeably girls? Nothing annoys the girl members more than it being called "Boy Scouts"

David Swanson Cub Scout Leader


A major chunk of the plan to improve police databases in the wake of the Bichard enquiry into the Soham murders is expected to be dropped by the Home Secretary within weeks:

And in a country where public sector data-sharing is (effectively) banned by law, multiple records for one person isn't a surprise - it's inevitable. In fact, one way to significantly reduce such errors would be data verification against private sector databases such as those maintained by Experian and Equifax - but given that most forces are reducing officer numbers in a desperate attempt to balance the books, there's no money for this, and I'm not sure that the public would like it.

Unless they would be happy to be fingerprinted or to give a buccal DNA swab (the only two currently accepted forms of verification of identity for police IT systems) for their Fixed Penalty Tickets...? No, I thought not...

William


Keep an eye on those pesky kids. You never know what they might be up to next. Yes, CCTV the lot of em, especially the under twos:

I'd like to take those responsible and beat them with a copy of 1984.

Fraser


Might I suggest a "flash moon" for the first of these stupid devices in London. Will there be a recording to cope with the baring of a thousand bottoms, I wonder?

Joe

Excellent idea. We'll take that into the weekend with a happy heart. ®

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