Joho the BlogJanuary 2006 - Page 3 of 10 - Joho the Blog

January 25, 2006

Congress’ secret spec

Ed Felten writes about his attempt to find out about the VEIL content protect technology specified in the Sensenbrenner/Conyers bill that would mandate that electronic devices plug the “analog hole.” (The analog hole is the fact that analog playback can be converted into digits. E.g., point a digital camcorder at a movie screen. Or, play a DRM’ed mp3 on your computer and use digital recording software to intercept the analog signal on its way to your speakers. More here , here and here.)

Ed contacted that company that sells VEIL and asked for a copy of the specification. He was told that that was no problem so long as he ponied up $10,000 and agreed not to talk about the spec. And that was only for the decoder side of the tech. The encoder stuff is too secret for anyone to see at any price.

So, Congress may pass a law that mandates a privately-owned technical spec that citizens aren’t allowed to see and expert citizens aren’t allowed to evaluate. Ed wonders whether even Congress has been allowed to see it. (And if they did, do we trust Congress to perform the required technical analysis?)

Says Ed: “We’re talking about television here, not national security.” [Tags: ]

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January 24, 2006

Global Voices email update

Want to get the latest updates from bloggers around the world but you just don’t have time to check an RSS feed? Global Voices is now willing to insert daily digests straight into your inbox. [Tags:]

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A journalistic practice that needs to die

Two paragraphs before the end of the AP story about the Canadian national elections, the reporter, Beth Duff-Brown, writes:

William Azaroff, 35, voted for the left-of-center New Democratic Party but conceded a Conservative government was likely to win.

”I think it’s a shame,” said the business manager from Vancouver, British Columbia. ”I think the last government was actually quite effective for Canadians. I think a Conservative government is just a backlash against certain corruption and the sense of entitlement.”

I’m sure that William Azaroff is a perfectly nice and thoughtful 35 year old and a considerate business manager who motivates his employees and contributes consistently to the bottom line. But with over 60% of the electorate turning out in this election, why are we hearing from him instead of my friend Molly in Toronto or the 14th customer at the Vancouver Pastries 2 Go shop?

Isn’t this simply a way for the reporter to get her opinions in?

Why isn’t there an industry guideline forbidding this common technique? [Tags:]


In thanks – George, Laura and Jack

Since the Bush Administration will not release White House photos of Bush and Abramoff, even though the pitctures were taken with tax payer money, I figure it’s our patriotic duty to release our own.

George Laura and Jack

(Hasn’t anyone already photoshopped a Brokeback parody photo of George and Jack? They have the hats for it.) [Tags: ]


January 23, 2006

Participatory publishing

John Blyberg has put together a virtual card catalog that lets you build your own, share it with others, and create catalog card facsimiles complete with “handwritten” annotations. [Thanks to Ed Vielmetti for the link.]

O’Reilly has announced the “Rough Cuts” service that gives readers access to works-in-progress: If you buy a book before it’s been published and then watch it being developed. Pretty damn cool.

Yet another assault on time: As more and more events turn into processes, what the hell do we need the present before? [Tags: ]

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Podcasting a dinner

A couple of weeks ago, Mary Hodder mentioned that she was coming to Boston and we talked about putting together a dinner. I offered to host it at our house, and it turned into a get-together on the “Save Our Internet” theme. All of which is to say that Dan Bricklin came with his podcasting gear and has posted a set of interviews he did there.

Yes, now we’re podcasting dinner. [Tags: ]


January 22, 2006

Lessig: Is Google Print fair use?

Larry Lessig has posted a video of a presentation on whether Google Book Search (AKA Google Print) is protected by Fair Use. His conclusion: Yup. But how he gets there is fascinating and informative. Why wouldn’t you want to hear one of the nation’s top law professors clearly addressing such a fundamental issue? [Tags: ]

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January 21, 2006

The $100,000 Bottom-Up Pyramid

Zephyr Teachout and Britt Blaser, both veterans of the Howard Dean Internet campaign, reflect on how to fix what’s going wrong at the well-intentioned Since Sliced Bread contest. The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) is sponsoring the contest, offering $100,000 to the person who comes up with the best idea for improving the lives of working women and men. 22,000 ideas were submitted which “a group of diverse experts” winnowed to 70, a process some felt was too top down.

This is a fascinating case in which a bottom-up process is supposed to squeeze out a single winner, the contest is intended to advance the social good, and the reward includes a hefty chunk of change. [Tags: ]

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January 20, 2006

The Zorking of Iraq

Defective Yeti has a funny transcript of the invasion of Iraq as a text adventure. Here’s how it begins:

Oval OfficeYou are standing inside a White House, having just been elected to the presidency of the United States. You knew Scalia would pull through for you.

There is a large desk here, along with a few chairs and couches. The presidential seal is in the middle of the room and there is a full-length mirror upon the wall.

What do you want to do now?

You are not able to do that, yet.

Self-reflection is not your strong suit.

It’s not that kind of seal.

They are two several chairs arranged around the center of the room, along with two couches. Under one couch you find Clinton’s shoes.

You are unable to fill Clinton’s shoes.

(Thanks to Deborah Elizabeth Finn for the link.) [Tags: ]


The media gets Wikipedia wrong again

This is a message, verbatim, Jimmy “Wikipedia” Wales sent to a mailing list I’m on. (I asked his permission to run it, and turned some urls into hyperlinks.)

The Associated Press:
“The Wikimedia Foundation, which runs the collaborative Web encyclopedia, reached a temporary settlement with a Berlin court that will let users access the German-language version of Wikipedia at, hosted in the United States, instead of its usual”

Another version:
“The German version of Wikipedia returned to the Internet on Friday after three days offline, a blackout prompted by a lawsuit in which the parents of a dead hacker objected to the site’s use of his real name.”

This is so mindbogglingly wrong that I don’t even know where to begin.

1. The German version of Wikipedia is *always* at

2. The site was never shut down not even for a single instant

3. The domain belongs to the German Verein (a club of Wikipedia users, a local chapter).

4. That domain has never been used to access the encyclopedia. There was always a courtesy notice on the 404-not-found page there, telling people the correct URL.

5. The Wikimedia Foundation has never been served process about any action against us in German court.

6. The Wikimedia Foundation has not reached any temporary settlement with any Berlin court — we have no contact with any Berlin courts.

7. The German Verein was ordered very briefly to not point people to the — a rather stupid order which was quickly reversed — but in any event an order with absolutely no material meaning since that domain has never been used to access Wikipedia at all.

BTW, I wrote about the Wikipedia-Seigenthaler affair in my newsletter. [Tags: ]


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