Friday, 27 July 2007


The next internet sensation?

The BBC's iPlayer, its on-your-computer on-demand television service, begins open beta today. (Details below the jump.) Will it be the next internet phenom?

Martin Belam predicts how things will play out:

Day #2: The press reports that the BBC website 'crashed' due to demand for the iPlayer, because someone emailed someone at The Telegraph saying they couldn't download it over their dial-up connection.

Day #3: A blog post entitled "Ten Mistakes that the BBC made with the iPlayer" hits the front page of Digg. Mistake #1 in the list is using Microsoft's DRM. Slight variations of that gripe appear as numbers #3, #5, #6, #7, #8 and #10.

Day #5: First reports of an exploit of the iPlayer's DRM system begin to surface on the web, and links to a hack appear on Slashdot, Digg, and, by mistake, on the BBC News site for five hours.

Day #6: The BBC's mailserver melts under the weight of multiple gloating anti-DRM posters saying "Told you so. Linux rulez teh internets".
It's profusely illustrated, and funny. Go read.
Via Diamond Geezer, who got in early for the closed beta.

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The hum and roar of the world

"At some point when I was a child, it became apparent that I was a bit different from the other kids. Namely, I couldn’t hear the things they heard..."

So begins the account of an amazing experience posted (in a couple of places, and good on him!) by "Chef Mojo".

Calling a story "inspiring" is trite, so I'll just say go read it. It's terrific writing, and you'll wind up being inspired, anyway.

 Read it here, or here (for the comments).

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Thursday, 26 July 2007

In Passing

Saving a Nazi resort

First built for the master race as part of the Nazi "Strength Through Joy" programme, the hulking dormitories of Prora, stretching over three miles of pristine Baltic coast, were intended to house 20,000 people at a time...

Eight housing blocks were built by the time Hitler invaded Poland in 1939, but the grandiose plans for a huge banqueting hall and twin swimming pools with wave machines were never completed. -- The Telegraph [bolding mine - o.g.]

Now the German Youth Hostel Association hope to restore and use it for environmentally-conscious holidaying.

Many examples of grandiose Nazi architecture were either destroyed or subsequently modified into unrecognizability. The scale of this site, which remains much as it was in 1939, is a reminder of just how formidable, and megalomaniac, Nazi Germany was.
LATER:  Historic and contemporary photos and drawings of the Prora resort at Geoff Walden's site.

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The Press

The BBC starts an honesty school

And Captain Ed is not impressed:

Speaking as a former mid-level manager, the best course in honesty is a good and public firing for dishonesty. If an employee lies and perpetrates frauds, immediate termination usually sends a pretty clear message to the rest of the organization. If, as in this case, an entire business unit conspired to act dishonestly, lopping off the first level of management sends an even clearer message.

Believe me, a few people getting their desks cleared out by Security has an impact on the rest of the staff, especially when the people fired are rather high-level managers and executives. Word gets around.

Posted by: Old Grouch in The Press at 15:18:06 GMT | No Comments | Add Comment
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Wednesday, 25 July 2007


Recommended weblog: Dustbury

(Dunno whether this is a good idea or not, given previous performance: The last time I promoted  somebody they stopped posting 25 days later, and haven't posted since. However...)

My personal blogroll (the one in my bookmarks, not the one to the right) includes far more sites than are listed on the sidebar (which doesn't even list all the ones I check regularly). But since I don't have 24 hours a day to read blogs, and thus can't visit everybody every day, it's easy for sites to get semi-forgotten. Fortunately, I often find bookmarked sites turning up in someone else's posting-- which encourages me to revisit them and rediscover why I bookmarked them in the first place.

Which brings me to, Charles G. Hill's "Web Pages, HTML Bad Example and Bandwidth Wastage Station" headquartered out of Dustbury, Oklahoma, USA (Apparently pseudonymous– at least I didn't find it in my Rand McNally– but, from context, somewhere near Oklahoma City. Or possibly it's some Okie joke that I don't fathom. Whatever. [Later: DUH, it's in his FAQs.]).

He's been on the web for a coon's age, writes engagingly, has wide-ranging interests,[1] and is a heckofalot less political than me, at least on his main page. Regular features: Strange Search Engine Queries, and the annual road trip (just completed). Visit his July archives, and be amazed/appalled by topics such as moving the nation's capitol to Oklahoma, electrically-operated lawnmowers, basic training, cable barriers on highways, what's to like about Sprint, the guy who rebranded his Bentley as a Hyundai, and the aforementioned Road Trip. And he knows who The Goons were, and reads the Evil Overlady.

I discovered Charles's site in June, 2002, and don't drop by near as often as I'd like to. (If that makes any sense.)


[1]He even blogged the WCBS format change, and before I did! Great minds, etc...
Thanks to Andrea for the reminder.

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In Passing

Legal quiz

Ron married Melinda.  Things didn't work out, so they divorced, and he agreed to pay her alimony. Before the alimony agreement was official, Melinda entered into a state-registered domestic partnership with her girlfriend, even going so far as changing her last name to her domestic partner's name. So Ron's asking the court to invalidate the alimony agreement because his former spouse has, in effect, "remarried." The state's domestic partnership law instructs courts to treat domestic partnerships, for all intents and purposes, as valid marriages.

If you were the judge, how would you rule?  Easy, huh?

Wrong:  It's in California.

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Agatha Heterodyne and the Sequence Adjustment

You may have noted the sidebar link to Studio Foglio's webcomic Girl Genius:

Before today it linked to pages from the beginning episodes of the story (posted Monday, Wednesday, and Friday), but last week the beginning episodes finally caught up with the "Advanced Class" (more recent) pages, which SF is also posting three times a week.

So what?   Well,  the result is that the thrice-weekly links to the earlier pages stop now.  And the sidebar link will now point to the current page in the "Advanced Class" series-- some 175 pages ahead.

Which means that if you've been following the story using my link, you'll need to read through the "Advanced Class" archives to get caught up.  Start here.

Oh, and go buy the books.

Posted by: Old Grouch in Administrivia at 14:59:05 GMT | No Comments | Add Comment
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Blue Witch gets a "new old broom"

Her name is Mi1dred. And I'm jealous.

The story so far:

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Tuesday, 24 July 2007


Remember when anti-Semitism wasn't a fashion statement?

Gawker's Jewish Problem[1]

Y'know, if my mother had ever caught me using language like that, she'd have smacked me sideways and then washed my mouth out with soap. "Head Heeb" indeed!
via LGF
[1]Used LGF's title instead of Pop Machine's, 'cause Harry has nothing to do with it.

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Let a hundred complaints bloom!

BlogCritics commentator John Bambenek has filed a Federal Election Commission (FEC) complaint against Kos Media, LLC., better known as, in an attempt to get the site declared a political committee and therefore subject to FEC rules. Glenn Reynolds and David Freddoso don't like the idea, on free speech grounds.

As for me, myself, personally, my opinion parallels that of Volokh Conspiracy commenter "PatHMV's" thought about the federally-mandated 21-year drinking age:

This is probably a law which should be strictly and harshly enforced, so that it will be repealed more quickly. -- comment on: "Parents Guilty for Permitting Drinking In Their Home"

Let a hundred complaints bloom, let a hundred enforcement actions flower: If securing free speech means we'll have to re-pass the 1st Amendment with "...and we REALLY mean it this time!" appended, the sooner we find out, and get started, the better.
Note 070724 17:03: Edited 2nd para to make it clear that PatHMV's opinion was only about 21-year drinking age, and not about FEC regulations. I knew what I wanted to say, just couldn't get the words down!

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