More evil from the music industry
The problem, from a digital-rights-management perspective, with
CDs is that they contain
straight, unencrypted data with no real ability to extend the format
without losing backward compatibility. Well, apparently that’s not
as much of a concern anymore, as the industry is rolling out
CDs that are “unplayable on
Macintosh computers, DVD players and game consoles, such as Sony’s
PlayStation 2. [They] might not even play in some
Look what we’ve done, folks. We’ve scared the industry to the point
where it’s deliberately making CDs
that can’t play on all players. In fact, it’s gotten so bad that
CD prices are falling
to the US$10 range—which, MWJ points out, is
“the same prices they promised in 1983 as soon as enough people had
CD players to make
‘critical mass,’ as we recall”. (Gotta love news sources with long
As I’ve said before, I support the idea that artists should be
compensated for their work. Distributing their work without their
permission or any compensation is clearly a Bad Thing in the long
run. But the music industry insists on strategies that make people
more likely to turn to free on-line sources.
(I put quotes around “copy-protected” because, of course, nothing
can be done to prevent people from capturing the sound output from
the CD player and recording
that. It wouldn’t even be that difficult, these days.)
And you are…?
Wesley Felter notes the founding of the
Digital Identity Weblog, which will apparently focus on
the various competing standards for identifying yourself on-line.
As you know, the efforts for a digital identity standard are
intended to consolidate the name and address forms found at so
many sites these days. Instead of having to fill out the forms
every time (or, worse, have a username and password for each site),
you would give the site some sort of identifier, and it would use
it to look up your information.
Sounds simple enough, but it doesn’t give anyone the chance to
dominate a market and make a fortune, so instead we get years of
development on standards with little public comment and a good
chance that no one will end up caring anyway.
Charts and geekiness
The Brunching Shuttlecocks posted a
chart of the geek hierarchy, helping “normal” people understand
how literary science fiction fans relate to, say, people fluent
in Klingon. (found at Blogdex, which means I’m far from
alone in mentioning it)
If charts about geeks aren’t your style, how about a chart
for geeks? Like, say, one detailing the
genealogy of modern Unix variants. Quite frankly, it’s
awe-inspiring. (Remember A/UX?)
Weblogs and Journalism
Elsewhere, Tom Matrullo looks at
“Doc’s Paradox”—asking why Mr Searls’s weblog is seemingly
more popular than the actual articles of more serious, paid
journalists. He notes the difficulties journalists have dealing
with abstracts like objectivity, facts, opinions, and the Truth.
Perhaps, he suggests, it is because Mr Searls’s humorous style
in his weblog “suggests an element of humility largely missing in
most professional journalism”. I can’t really do justice to his
essay here in summary format, but thankfully I can just point to
it. (via Doc Searls)
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Rings: The Movie:
The Review by Dave Menendez
The Self-Made Critic has posted his
Lord of the Rings review,
so I might as well put down my own thoughts.
Before I go any further, though, I have to demonstrate my obsessiveness:
Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings is commonly described as a trilogy, but
this is a misconception. It is actually a single novel, divided into six parts
(plus appendices). It was originally published in three volumes,
each containing two parts, but it is not a trilogy in the sense that the first
two volumes do not reach any sort of conclusion; their endings are more like
Most of the reviews I’ve seen so far have praised the movie for its
faithfulness to the book, and they’re probably right. In fact, a surprising
amount of the dialogue is lifted directly from the book. There are a few
major omissions—understandable, given the desire for a reasonable running
time—and some additions of varying quality.
It looks great. Even some of the places I’ve never been able to
successfully visualize looked good here, like the pits of Isengard. The visual
tricks used to make the Hobbits look smaller than the human characters were
seamless, as far as I could tell. The props looked like actual artifacts.
The exterior shots managed to give the impression of ancient kingdoms long
forgotten by the time the movie starts.
Some changes were understandable, like the expansion of Arwen’s role or
the extreme time compression between Bilbo’s party and Frodo’s departure
from the Shire (about seventeen years in the book; possibly a few months
in the movie). The desire to keep the tension up is reasonable, and for
all his strengths Tolkien didn’t manage to put a lot of female characters
in the book, strong or otherwise (I can think of five, not counting Shelob;
even Lúthien got more time than some of them, and she’d been dead
for thousands of years before the story began).
Other changes merely seemed odd. Why weren’t there any other Hobbits at
Bree? In the book, Bree is noted for its unique mixture of the Big and Little
Folk. In the movie, it’s populated solely by scary-looking humans. Why was
Bilbo excluded from the Council of Elrond? Granted, the moved most of his
exposition to a prologue, but he could had been there anyway. Why did Gimli
think Balin still ruled in Moria? In the book, he had traveled to Rivendell
because the dwarves had lost all contact with Balin. In the movie, Gandalf’s
concerns about Moria don’t have any apparent cause. It seems to me that any
of these could have been left unchanged without making the movie any more
difficult to make or harder to appreciate.
More understandable, but equally disappointing, is the more active role
taken by Saruman. Apparently, avalanches and treacherous mountain passes
are unacceptable unless a wizard’s influence is involved. (On the other hand,
they got the pronunciation of “Caradhras” right, so mad props for that.)
The single most annoying thing, for me, was the scene at Galadriel’s
mirror. Here they managed to directly quote the dialogue in the book,
put they overplayed the drama to such an extent that it was laughable.
Yes, Galadriel is tempted by the ring, but she’s over sixty centuries old.
She does not lose her cool and start shouting at Frodo, and she
certainly doesn’t dissolve into green flame or whatever the hell was going
on in that scene. Yeah, the ring works its evil mojo on everyone around,
but the point is that it’s subtle. Evil rings do not advertise.
Still, it was good. I’ll see it again, probably. And there’s always the
books for people who want the real thing.