Groundhog Day (The Movie) and Buddhism
Mr. Arendt, RIP

Technobriefs

by Craig Reynolds

DRM: Music industry divided over digital future "Critics of the major players in the industry argue that they have been distracted by the fight against piracy and in doing so, hindered the growth of the legal business... In response, the accused argue that they had little choice. 'Free is just impossible to compete with'" Yet that is just what iTunes, or conversely eMusic, manage to do every day: compete with free. Here is the radical approach that eMusic uses: give the consumer what they actually want: Big record labels contemplate switch to DRM-free MP3s?. Also based on open MP3s: Independent record labels sign MySpace deal. It has been previously demonstrated that the DRM on HD-DVD and Blu-Ray discs are not secure, so it is interesting to note the misuse of the word "stolen" in this article: AACS confirms hacks on high-definition DVD players. The keys were "stolen" in the sense of "I left my window open and music playing on my stereo was stolen by the neighbors".

I for one welcome our new robotic overlords: Philip Argy's commentary Ethics dilemma in killer bots invokes Isaac Asimov's Three Laws of Robotics but like in Engadget's South Korea to develop robot soldiers my first thought was "Idiots! this is how the Terminator got started!" I would expect it to be obvious to everyone why giving lethal weapons to autonomous robots is a very, very bad idea. Yet the race towards SkyNet is on: Military Builds Robotic Insects and Street-fighting robot challenge announced (details). While elsewhere in robot land, danger-bots: Exploding robots may scout hazardous asteroids and Sword-wielding Wii bot, human-bots: The Future of Robotics and toy-bots: Japanese toy firms forced to grow up (Takara Tomy's Omnibot2007 i-SOBOT, "the world's smallest robot"). While not really a robot, Zoho's sculpture (featured on the January cover of Scientific American) certainly is cool, like how a robot should look. Note that the term robot was coined 86 years ago this month. (The headline refers to the Overlord meme see "I, for one, welcome our new * overlords" for which Google now finds 323,000 hits!)

Publishers fight open access to science: the Internet has disrupted old business models of the music and movie business, other publishers have similar problems. As mentioned here before scientists no longer need publishers to disseminate reports on their research. They still need peer review but that is normally provided for free by anonymous colleagues. The preparation of papers is handled by standard desktop apps and "publication" is just a matter of uploading a PDF file to the web. This threat to the scientific publishers has recently provoked an ugly reaction as reported by Nature: PR's 'pit bull' takes on open access Journal publishers lock horns with free-information movement (via BoingBoing which also links to Policy on Enhancing Public Access to... NIH-Funded Research and that other evil threat to publishers: librarians).

Technobits: Norway tells Apple change iTunes or face court --- Thumb-Print Banking Takes India --- NYT upbeat on Netflix download service: A Stream of Movies, Sort of Free --- Microsoft's iPhone Strategy --- Researchers Go Molecular in Design of a Denser Chip (100 billion bits per square centimeter) --- The Turntables That Transform Vinyl --- 53 CSS-Techniques You Couldn’t Live Without --- A Boost for Hydrogen Fuel Cell Research --- MIT-led panel backs 'heat mining' as key U.S. energy source --- Warming to raise seas for 1,000 years: U.N. draft --- arachnid news: Ultraviolet light key to spider mating and Spider Silk Inspires Strong And Stretchy Nanocomposite Fibers --- Brilliant Whiteness of Strange Beetle Explained forget bleach: this bug may be the key to whiter whites.