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ISO/IEC DIS 29500 (OOXML) receives necessary votes for approval as an International Standard
Topic: Miscellaneous 4:39 am EDT, Apr  2, 2008

ISO/IEC DIS 29500, Information technology – Office Open XML file formats, has received the necessary number of votes for approval as an ISO/IEC International Standard.

Given the large number of unusual activity that seems to have been happening on the votes for this, I'd love to know just how Microsoft managed to pull it off...

ISO/IEC DIS 29500 (OOXML) receives necessary votes for approval as an International Standard

Sci-fi writer Arthur C. Clarke dies at 90
Topic: Miscellaneous 6:11 pm EDT, Mar 18, 2008

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka — An aide said science fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke has died.

Rohan De Silva says Clarke died early Wednesday [March 18th 2008] after suffering from breathing problems. He was 90.

Clarke is the author of more than 100 books, including 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Sci-fi writer Arthur C. Clarke dies at 90

DNA seen through the eyes of a coder
Topic: Miscellaneous 6:32 am EST, Feb 22, 2008

This is a fascinating article all about DNA and how it works, all written as a comparison to computer programming.

DNA seen through the eyes of a coder

How to Get Your Platform Accepted as a Standard - Microsoft Style
Topic: Technology 5:46 am EST, Feb 20, 2008

Our mission is to establish Microsoft's platforms as the de facto standards throughout the computer industry.... Working behind the scenes to orchestrate "independent" praise of our technology, and damnation of the enemy's, is a key evangelism function during the Slog. "Independent" analyst's report should be issued, praising your technology and damning the competitors (or ignoring them). "Independent" consultants should write columns and articles, give conference presentations and moderate stacked panels, all on our behalf (and setting them up as experts in the new technology, available for just $200/hour). "Independent" academic sources should be cultivated and quoted (and research money granted). "Independent" courseware providers should start profiting from their early involvement in our technology. Every possible source of leverage should be sought and turned to our advantage.

How to Get Your Platform Accepted as a Standard - Microsoft Style

Pirated by iTunes, Artist Turns to BitTorrent
Topic: Technology 4:34 am EST, Feb  7, 2008

The Flashbulb, aka Benn Jordan, became so outraged when he discovered that iTunes was effectively pirating his music, that he uploaded copies of his latest album to BitTorrent. TorrentFreak caught up with Benn to learn more about the decision to stop distributors and ‘coked-up label reps’ from getting all the cash.

Pirated by iTunes, Artist Turns to BitTorrent

An inside view of the Scientology reality tunnel
Topic: Society 5:49 am EST, Jan 26, 2008

A description of The Church of Scientology as written from an ex-member of the church.

An inside view of the Scientology reality tunnel

Pandora: Changes to Availability in the UK
Topic: Miscellaneous 3:49 am EST, Jan  8, 2008

hi, it's Tim,

This is an email I hoped I would never have to send.

As you probably know, in July of 2007 we had to block usage of Pandora outside the U.S. because of the lack of a viable license structure for Internet radio streaming in other countries. It was a
terrible day. We did however hold out some hope that a solution might exist for the UK, so we left it unblocked as we worked diligently with the rights organizations to negotiate an economically
workable license fee. After over a year of trying, this has proved impossible. Both the PPL (which represents the record labels) and the MCPS/PRS Alliance (which represents music publishers) have
demanded per track performance minima rates which are far too high to allow ad supported radio to operate and so, hugely disappointing and depressing to us as it is, we have to block the last
territory outside of the US.

Based on your email address, we believe you may be listening from the UK. If you are in fact listening from the U.S., please disregard this email.

It continues to astound me and the rest of the team here that the industry is not working more constructively to support the growth of services that introduce listeners to new music and that are
totally supportive of paying fair royalties to the creators of music. I don't often say such things, but the course being charted by the labels and publishers and their representative organizations
is nothing short of disastrous for artists whom they purport to represent - and by that I mean both well known and indie artists. The only consequence of failing to support companies like Pandora
that are attempting to build a sustainable radio business for the future will be the continued explosion of piracy, the continued constriction of opportunities for working musicians, and a worsening
drought of new music for fans. As a former working musician myself, I find it very troubling.

We have been told to sign these totally unworkable license rates or switch off, that is what we are doing. Streaming illegally is just not in our DNA, and we have to take the
threats of legal action seriously. Lest you think this is solely an international problem, you should know that we are also fighting for our survival here in the US, in the face of a crushing
increase in web radio royalty rates, which if left unchanged, would mean the end of Pandora.

We know what an epicenter of musical creativity and fan support the UK has always been, which makes the prospect of not being able to launch there and having to block our first listeners all the more
upsetting for us.

We know there is a lot of support from listeners and artists in the UK for Pandora and remain hopeful that at some point we'll get beyond this. We're going to keep fighting for a fair and workable
rate structure that will allow us to bring Pandora back to you. We'll be sure to let you know if Pandora becomes available in the UK. There may well come a day when we need to make a direct appeal
for your support to move for governmental intervention as we have in the US. In the meantime, we have no choice but to turn off service to the UK.

Pandora will stop streaming to the UK as of January 15th, 2008.

Again, on behalf of all of us at Pandora, I'm very, very sorry.

-Tim Westergren (Pandora founder)

Animal rights activist hit with RIPA key decrypt demand
Topic: Society 4:26 am EST, Nov 15, 2007

An animal rights activist has been ordered to hand over her encryption keys to the authorities.
But an animal rights activist is one of the first people at the receiving end of a notice to give up encryption keys. Her computer was seized by police in May, and she has been given 12 days to hand over a pass-phrase to unlock encrypted data held on the drive - or face the consequences.

The woman, who claims to have not used encryption, relates her experiences in an anonymous posting on Indymedia.

Animal rights activist hit with RIPA key decrypt demand

How to destroy the Earth
Topic: Miscellaneous 9:17 am EDT, Nov  1, 2007

Destroying the Earth is harder than you may have been led to believe.

You've seen the action movies where the bad guy threatens to destroy the Earth. You've heard people on the news claiming that the next nuclear war or cutting down rainforests or persisting in releasing hideous quantities of pollution into the atmosphere threatens to end the world.


The Earth is built to last. It is a 4,550,000,000-year-old, 5,973,600,000,000,000,000,000-tonne ball of iron. It has taken more devastating asteroid hits in its lifetime than you've had hot dinners, and lo, it still orbits merrily. So my first piece of advice to you, dear would-be Earth-destroyer, is: do NOT think this will be easy.

This is not a guide for wusses whose aim is merely to wipe out humanity. I (Sam Hughes) can in no way guarantee the complete extinction of the human race via any of these methods, real or imaginary. Humanity is wily and resourceful, and many of the methods outlined below will take many years to even become available, let alone implement, by which time mankind may well have spread to other planets; indeed, other star systems. If total human genocide is your ultimate goal, you are reading the wrong document. There are far more efficient ways of doing this, many which are available and feasible RIGHT NOW. Nor is this a guide for those wanting to annihilate everything from single-celled life upwards, render Earth uninhabitable or simply conquer it. These are trivial goals in comparison.

This is a guide for those who do not want the Earth to be there anymore.

How to destroy the Earth

Microsoft's OneCare silently changes Automatic Updates
Topic: Technology 4:20 am EDT, Oct 26, 2007

Microsoft's consumer security software changes the AU (Automatic Updates) settings in Windows XP and Vista without telling users or getting their approval, a researcher said Thursday -- behavior that may explain recent reports of patches being installed and systems rebooting without permission.

When Microsoft responded to new charges of silent changes last week, however, it denied that AU settings were ever altered without user approval, and it didn't mention OneCare as a possible culprit.

Scott Dunn, an editor at the "Windows Secrets" newsletter, reported Thursday morning that OneCare silently changes AU settings as it installs. No matter what AU setting the user selected previously, OneCare's installer quietly changes it to the fully automatic option.

Microsoft's OneCare silently changes Automatic Updates

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