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19 July 2000

Music fans: Last weekend I went to the 3rd Arlington A Cappella Festival and saw Da Vinci's Notebook and Naturally Seven. It was a fun time, and I picked up DVN's second CD, The Life and Times of Mike Fanning. I haven't listened to it all yet, but one standout track (that they also performed live) is "Title of the Song". It's a compression of boy-band ballads into a generalized meta-ballad where the lyrics serve as placeholders for what is usually said at that point (thus the title). It's very funny, brilliant even, and you can hear the first verse & chorus in MP3 format (or RealAudio) by downloading it from their samples page. Poke around some of their other material too, it's all worth a listen.

And heck, buy their album if you want to hear the rest of it. :)

Big day for Apple; I'm sure all the announcements will be out before I finish this day's posts... all I know is, there's a new iMac, a new mouse and something about a cube...

In other Apple news, yesterday they announced an agreement with Circuit City [MacCentral] to sell their consumer products in CC's 570+ stores.

I remember a few years back wanting to go pick up a copy of (I think) Mac OS 8 from a retail outlet. I tried Circuit City and got a major brush-off from the computer department. Nice to see that'll change.

From Have Browser Will Travel, a fascinating look at Honda's hybrid gas-electric car from the thorough tech-heads at Ars Technica:

  • Honda Insight: Hybrid gasoline-electric car [Ars Technica, multipage]
    The car never needs to be "plugged in" like a traditional electric vehicle, because the batteries are charged by regenerative braking and the gasoline engine. Since the Insight runs primarily on gasoline, which has a much higher energy density than batteries, it has a much farther cruising range than any electric car - 600 miles on one full tank.


The music industry keeps getting it wrong. Dealing with MP3s, Napster and the ease of copying and transferring digital media is not a problem that can be solved by lawsuits and new, 'secure' (proprietary, broken) formats. Like in Babylon 5, I think this is a problem they'll have to understand (not fight) their way out of. Maybe they won't, if this guy is any indication:

  • Music Giants Miss a Beat on the Web [LA Times]
    "Let me tell you what else is in trouble here: the Internet," Seagram head Edgar Bronfman Jr. says. "In the end, the Internet itself will not be able to survive if it becomes a haven for illegal activity. Copyrights must be protected online."

Huh. Somebody's living in quite a fantasy world....

New frontiers in advertising, courtesy of ABC: The ads-in-bathrooms actually don't bother me so much (though I may change my mind once I actually encounter one...). It's this bit that really gets under my skin:

  • The Latest Ad Campaign From Tinkletown [Washington Post]
    "We're going to be delivering--how offensive is this--voice mail messages left on your home answering [machines] from some of our Friday-night stars," [ABC marketing guru Alan] Cohen said. ... In the country's top 10 TV markets--yes, that includes Washington--ABC plans to call your home and leave an ad on your answering machine featuring one of the stars of its new Friday-night lineup. And yes, they really truly think this will make you more inclined to watch the show.

    They call it "viral marketing." Some reporters called it "harassment." To which Cohen replied that reporters are a more sensitive lot than the average American.

Well, count me as sensitive too. I already get enough dumb interrupting phone calls from people trying to sell me something.

The beauty (horror) of it is, since it's a recording, you can't respond to them in any way. Nobody will hear you cursing their ancestors; your only option is to listen or hang up. How perfectly ... intrusive.

Incidentally, I'm finding the Washington Post to be an excellent daily newspaper (I haven't had a daily newspaper in years). I imagine I'll be posting links to a lot more articles from the Post in the future.

This can't be good:

Fewer sources of news. Fewer points of view represented. Fewer independent interests determining what we see. Joy.

Interesting recounting of copyright arguments:

  • MP3: It's Only Rock and Roll and The Kids Are Alright by Siva Vaidhyanathan [The Nation, seen on Scripting News]
    The rise of MP3 and free, open networks like Gnutella should have been expected. The culture industry invited them. Media companies have hijacked the copyright system and drained it of any sense of public interest. Copyright is an essential state-granted monopoly that works well when balanced. Thanks to the Clinton Administration and its efforts on behalf of media companies to maximize copyright protection, copyright has lost that balance.

    The reason the culture industry can take advantage of the "Digital Moment" to trump the democratic process and write its own laws is that digital formats collapse the distinction between using material and copying material. If you are reading this article on the Nation website, you have made a copy of it on your computer.

    What James Madison knew, and American jurists have known for centuries, is that a leaky copyright system works best. When properly balanced, copyright allows users--that's citizens to you and me--to enjoy the benefits of cultural proliferation at relatively low cost through a limited state-granted monopoly. Libraries help that process by letting the wealthy or the community subsidize information for all, most usefully for the poor. And a thin, leaky copyright system allows people to comment on copyrighted works, make copies for teaching and research, and record their favorite programs for later viewing. Eventually, a copyright runs out, and the work enters the public domain for all of us to enjoy at an even lower cost.

Repetition of
The title of the song
-- "Title of the Song", Da Vinci's Notebook, The Life and Times of Mike Fanning, 1999

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