nullstream weblog - June 2005

Testing Picasa


June 30, 2005 10:21 PM PST

My desk (screens locked so you 'softies can't steal my precious code). Also note the Vanilla Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream and the Vanilla Diet Coke:


The Cabinet Of Doom, located right behind me. The box in the lower left contains 1 metric crapload of chocolate truffles, some of which can be seen on the plate in the upper left:


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MGM v. Grokster


June 27, 2005 12:28 PM PST

Ars Technica has a good overview of the ruling today in this case. Basically it seems the rule now is that p2p apps are OK, as long as they're not marketed for illegal filesharing. It also looks bad if you make money on ads in your p2p app that's marketed for illegal content.

The decision doesn't say that any explicit action must be taken to prevent the sharing of copyrighted materials, just that the app can't be marketed as such.

So how are secure p2p apps marketed? Do you have something to hide?

Now, how does this affect the iPod? 15,000 songs in your pocket! I suppose it's marketed at those spending $15 grand at the iTunes store. ;-) Large capacity hard drives, CD/DVD burners, DivX hardware and mp3 players are basically all riding the filesharing wave, but are smart enough not to advertise it.

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No Shelter


June 27, 2005 10:35 AM PST

iTunes Icon
(removed because of direct linking)
No Shelter
Unreleased 1996
Rage Against the Machine
3.8 MB mp3
As a follow-on to The Corporation post, take a listen to this (year's) song. If you haven't heard RATM before, this is pretty representative of their subject matter and style. If you have heard them, this is a song you won't find on any of the albums.

Fix the need, develop the taste
Buy their products or get laid to waste

Continue reading "No Shelter"...

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360 Breakfast Talk


June 24, 2005 11:11 AM PST

I went to an Xbox 360 breakfast talk this morning. It was pretty cool. I think I'm really starting to 'get' the whole digital hub strategy. I can't give any specifics, but I'm very impressed with the amount of integration that is being done between teams. Its funny, but I'm now thinking more in terms of complete 'end to end' experience rather than raw horsepower etc. (Not that I think the 360 lacks in that department). I think Sony should be worried.

After the talk there was a Q/A session. I got some of my questions answered (sorry I can't share though) and best of all I got to handle actual hardware. The console is very nice in person. I'm impressed. The controller surprised me a bit. It's lighter and smaller than I expected. A bit smaller than the controller S. It has a good feel though. I expected it to be heavier due to the battery.

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The Corporation


June 21, 2005 06:06 PM PST

The CorporationI recently watched The Corporation, a Canadian documentary about the power of modern corporations. (I forego the IMDB link since they now require registration just to view the customer supplied message posts.)

This movie is somewhat in the vein of Bowling for Columbine or Super Size Me, although it doesn't have the outlandish stunts that either of these movies have. The only time it falls into obvious left-wing propaganda is how the descriptions of the benefits of corporations are done through old black and white 50s footage, making them seem very "square" and antiquated. I realize it's not an unbiased documentary, but this type of thing seems uncalled for. If you want to see this type of not-so-subtle visual propaganda (which I find insulting) non-stop, watch Fahrenheit 9/11.

The authors structure the movie in a way that shows they're only scratching the surface of the problems caused by corporate capitalism. I enjoyed the movie and found many of the case studies interesting. It's one of those documentaries that kind of makes you want to get out and help people - so I recommend it.

The most significant point I found in common with my own views is: "How much is enough?". As the film points out - corporations are legal entities on par with people in terms of property ownership and indemnity. Corporations have aspirations for growth and increased wealth just like most people do. The problem is - they don't have any other goals. They don't feel bad, they don't feel morals, they don't care about things other than the bottom line.

I'll follow up this post with a few observations I have about corporations. But for now, here's a link to a bit torrent download of The Corporation (1.3GB).

You're only downloading it because the copy at the library is checked out, or it's a "long wait" on your netflix queue, right?

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Aardvark Revealed?


June 20, 2005 10:17 PM PST

Paul phones in this link that potentially reveals Joel's intern powered project Aardvark:

Aardvark Revealed


XP has this built in with remote assistance, but probably has nat traversal issues. I've used logmein, with mixed results through various firewalls, but they can always fall back to an http, screen capture mode, so you are pretty sure you will be able to get something to work - although slow. I think the pay per use model will probably sell. Although, he he, if your problem is 'can't connect to the network' then, um, game over.

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Things To Make And Do

Kult of kewl

June 17, 2005 11:35 PM PST


Some good reading:

Bono's commencement speech at Harvard (2001)

Steve Jobs' commencement speech at Stanford (2005)

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Azareus BitTorrent Client


June 13, 2005 09:36 PM PST

AzureusAzareus is one of the most popular BitTorrent clients out there. It's written in Java which I typically avoid due to massive memory and CPU hogging, but I decided to try it out on my AMD64 machine anyway. I'm actually pretty happy with it. It is a nerd's paradise of statistics graphs and tweakable settings for each download. It is also open source and spyware free, which is a lot better than the recent crop of spyware laden p2p apps.

A few things... Make sure you've mapped port 6881 on your router to the machine running the BitTorrent client. Without opening this port to your computer, your download speeds will be severely limited. Azareus has a built in test menu option to test if the port is properly accesible from the outside world.

Also, from the menu "Plugins -> Installation Wizard -> From", select SafePeer and install it (takes a few minutes). This is basically an IP blacklist that will "optimize" your client. Notice that downloading plugins and updates for Azareus happen over BitTorrent! Pretty cool; they "eat their own dogfood".

Azareus likes to keep seeding files long after you've downloaded them, but you can tweak this behavior by tweaking the Options -> Queue -> Seeding -> Ignore Rules section and ignoring torrents with a low number of seeds and peers. Also, there is no anonymity in standard BitTorrent (there's a reason the index is called a "tracker").

BitTorrent was developed to distribute very popular, large files over the internets, such as Linux distributions, game demos and movie trailers. Of course all manner of other data is available from sites that always are at risk of being shut down, such as mininova, and torrentspy. Regardless of your socialist leanings or personal feelings about fair use - do not download executable files from any untrusted P2P system! Even a virus scanner cannot detect custom modifications that add trojan horses to an executable.

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Spring Flowers


June 12, 2005 10:31 PM PST

It's still spring (for another week or so), so I've collected some of my flower related shots over the past few months.

Crocus flowers in Vancouver Canada. These bulbs rebloom each year in January and February; before almost all other flowers.

Continue reading "Spring Flowers"...

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Word of the week: Lapsquat


June 10, 2005 03:24 PM PST


lapsquat (lăpskwŏt)


1. To use a laptop while sitting in a crouching position with knees bent, back to wall, and the buttocks on or near the heels.

It's fun to create new terms.

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June 3, 2005 06:23 PM PST

Apple going Intel!
Xbox going PowerPC!
Cats sleeping with Dogs!


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Console Vs. PC Gaming


June 3, 2005 04:00 PM PST

videoCard.gifSlashdot linked to an article on on whether PC gaming will be killed by consoles. Sure you could post your comments on one of those two sites, but we're more rational.

I've previously posted my issues with console gaming, and these focused most on the games and platforms themselves. But something else bothers me about console gaming, and I had to think for a second about what it is. I actually have a fear of what will happen if PC gaming does die. I hope I can explain it so that even if you love consoles, you can see why it might not be great for them to take over PC gaming.

The issue that worries me most about console gaming is control. There are some positive aspects to this - hardware is compatible, games are a certain standard, there's a common online service. But I feel these are outweighed by the many negatives that always come with too much control:

Continue reading "Console Vs. PC Gaming"...

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J Allard's Real Name


June 2, 2005 03:12 PM PST

Letter J BlingYes! I remain the only true "Just J" name from birth that I know of:

Having successfully launched Xbox Live in November, with its real-time online gaming, J Allard (CASí91) ó known as James back in his college days ó was recently named vice president for Xbox.

I just feel this was important research, with the recent Time cover article claiming "Yes, his name really is just 'J'." I don't think so.

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Bring Out the Dual Cores

Cool Tech

June 2, 2005 01:01 PM PST

With AMD's new release of its dual core line it's time to start the frenzy of reviews and comparisions.

NeoSeeker has good reviews of the Pentium D and the Athlon 64 X2. These articles have a Geek Factor Rating of 2 stars: **.

Here is my 30 second summary:

Pentium D:
Basically just two Pentiums bolted together in the same package. They share the same 800 Mhz front side bus. All interprocess communications goes through this 6.4 GB/s bus. Due to heating concerns both procs run at lower clock speeds than the current single proc pentiums. The D requires new motherboards and chipsets, but is priced almost half of the X2 price.

64 X2:
The core was designed from the beginning to be multi-proc. The architecture communicates between the two procs via hypertransport that when combined with the memory bandwidth yields 14.4 GB/s of total processor input/output bandwidth. The procs are available at the same clock speed as their single proc counterparts. The X2 does not require a new MB, you can drop it in your 939 slot with a bios upgrade, but is is nearly double the PD price.

Best to read the reviews and draw your own conclusions.

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Cool Tech

June 1, 2005 08:18 PM PST

So does anyone have some details on this new 'mobile wifi'? The buzz on the geek sites has just started to pick up. Some are talking about creating a car version of Itunes music sharing ala rendezvous or what ever they call it now.

I think that there is a lot of promise to making cars 'roaming' nodes in a mesh network. I think it is a logical way to extend wifi clouds - especially in cities. Imagine a city drops just a handful of access points around and suddenly you have full coverage. I could walk anywhere and my pocketPC would hop a few cars to get to the nearest access point. I'm not so worried about what the 'killer app' is for this technology, music, traffic info etc. Just enable Internet access and let the rest sort it self out.

Some more links:

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