Hear Ye! Since 1998.

Archived Posts for April 2003

Please note: The posts on this page are at least 3 years old. Links may be broken, information may be out of date, and the views expressed in the posts may no longer be held.
Apr 03

MP3 Goodness

That does it. I don’t care that it’s expensive, I’m sure it’s worth every cent. I’m going to start saving up for the new iPod. 30GB storage (doubles as a portable hard drive), full Windows compatibility, incredible size at 176g, alarm clock function, games, calendar, text storage, touch-sensitive buttons so no more moving parts, over 8 hour rechargeable battery life, Firewire and USB 2 connections. Excuse me, have to wipe the drool off my keyboard.

X-Men 2

Haven’t seen a movie in a while, but this one was a good one. Better than the first, and they’ve introduced even more characters.

Mr Popular

MSS is still alive and kicking on the Net.

2003 Big Mac Index

The Economist has come out with an updated Big Mac Index. According to the index, the AUD is still around 30% undervalued. Despite the increase in the Aussie in recent months, Maccas hasn’t jacked the price up on the burger very much, so the the undervaluation hasn’t been “alleviated” too much.

Escape from Woomera

New computer game pisses off Philip Ruddock. Rest of country amused.

Apr 03

File Swapping Tools Legal

“A federal judge in Los Angeles has handed a stunning court victory to file-swapping services Streamcast Networks and Grokster, dismissing much of the record industry and movie studios’ lawsuit against the two companies.” RIAA to appeal. (CNET Article) KaZaA not in the clear, but the judgment has very interesting implications.

If upheld, the decision could lead artists, record labels and movie studios to cast new legal strategies that they have until now been reluctant to try, including bringing lawsuits against individuals who copy unauthorized works over Napster-like networks. …

The judge’s surprise ruling marked the first validation of an argument that file-swapping supporters have been making since Napster’s first controversial arrival. Peer-to-peer file-trading is a technology that can be used for activities well beyond copyright infringement, and the technology should not be blocked altogether to stop solely its illegal uses, these backers have said.

In making that argument, the judge looked back to the landmark 1984 Supreme Court ruling that upheld the legality of Sony’s Betamax videocassette recorder (VCR). That decision helped establish the doctrine of “substantial noninfringing use,” which protects technology providers that distribute products–like the VCR or photocopier–that can be used for both legal and illegal purposes.

In the Napster case, the Betamax argument failed because the overwhelming majority of activity occurring on Napster was not substantially noninfringing. In this case, Morpheus and Grokster operate in a technically different way from Napster (decentralisation), and that the judge has also taken the future usefulness of this technology into account. Naturally, the parties will keep appealing until it gets to the Supreme Court, but that will take years.

Apr 03

Fine Dining Fund

The fund now stands at $170 after an equal first and second placing tonight.

Apr 03


The three students must have been trafficking a huge amount of MP3s to have been arrested over it… I don’t know anyone who doesn’t have an illegal MP3 (or hundred) on their computer.

Apr 03

Asians in Sydney

Stumbled across this blog on… well… Asians in Sydney. Complete with picture of Leslie Cheung’s bloodstain.

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3 Australia

3G services launched in Australia (well, two cities in Australia) with the arrival of Orange’s “3 Australia“. From a cursory look at what it offers, I’ve formed an opinion (that may not be all that well informed) that this new technology seems to be already plagued by two major problems that will impede its diffusion and adoption. One of the major marketing pushes of 3G networks is the ability to make video phone calls. Technology for the “modern” videophone has been around 1964, but practical considerations and lack of demand have not seen them become a common household object. Video conferencing is only starting to gain acceptance and use in the corporate world. However, I cannot see how video calls on mobile phones can be a major driver in the adoption of 3G technologies, apart from the initial gadget “wow” factor, which is in turn offset by the current affordability of 3G which I’ll look at in a moment. In terms of benefits of video calls, the ability to see someone while conversing implies a richer communications medium, due to the additional non-verbal cues of body language and facial expression and so on. When you are speaking to someone on a one or two inch screen, how much richer is that communication honestly going to be? Is it a novelty or truly useful? Add to this the inconvenience of having to look at who you are talking to whilst on the mobile, and you’ll not be so mobile if you want to talk on the run. Naturally you can choose to fall back to normal voice-only calls, but arguably you’d be doing that a fair bit, which defeats the purpose of video calls being a “main driver” for 3G technology adoption. Furthermore, there’s the social factor of not only you being able to see who you’re speaking to, but everyone else seeing who you’re speaking to, which can lead to reluctance to use this technology in public. Hence, usage is further reduced. Perhaps this will be something people get over as time allows society to adjust (in much the same way that mobile phones are commonplace, and PDAs are not beginning to raise as many eyebrows on public transport as they used to). Societal reaction will play a large part in all of this.

You may be whining about broadband caps now, but when Telstra Big Pond first arrived with cable about 5 years ago, access costs were $50 for the first 100MB and 17c per megabyte thereafter (or something of that magnitude – it was quite ridiculous). I, on my 28.8k dialup connection, was pulling through up to 5GB a month for about $50 a month. No one but the rich cared that they could download at 300kb/sec, because the fact was that you could tear through that in ten minutes and then the fun would be over. Then Optus arrived. In a similar vein, 3G boasts a large increase in wireless mobile bandwidth, opening up the door for all sorts of applications. However, when costs are charged at cents per kilobyte, costs become a major concern for the consumer. So whilst they may take comfort in the fact that the technology is available to them, if they don’t use it it’s little point. I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve used WAP on my phone.

All this is not to say that I don’t think 3G is a bad thing. I applaud the quick development of 3G infrastructure in Australia by Hutchison/Orange, and recognise they need to recoop their extensive outlays. I’m of the mindset that you should build technology infrastructure with expandable capacity to be utilised in future, rather than reacting to the demands of the underlying uses of the technology (software and the like), especially as the underlying uses are part of an industry that expands so rapidly in its demands. However, with such a pricing scheme, I cannot see 3G taking off in the next few years, and a failure by 3 Australia in 3G may have negative consequences in terms of inducing the other mobile carriers to hesitate. In this regard, competition is terrific for consumers, especially in the diffusion of the technology. Further hampering efforts are that the Australian telecommunications industry is not well known for its competition producing vastly lower prices (our cable and ADSL caps must be among the lowest in the world).

Apr 03

These Links are Stolen

From AJH: Read My Lips, lip-synching politicians to songs. See especially Bush and Blair sing Endless Love. Also, an Arts honours thesis on swearing.

From Natter: Projection technologies and optical camouflage. Still got a bit of work to do, but trust in the Japanese eh…

Instead of repeating the links here, Lime Jelly has posted a host of cool links (video of a chopper missing a ship landing, Zimbabwe petrol lines image and high-res Matrix trailer).

Apr 03

Oh the Ironies

I got hacked yesterday. Well, not this site, but this one, which I designed. It was hacked by an anti-war group. Funny, that. (Image of the hack. 188kb.)

Update: The Federal police got called, then it turned out that the hack occurred server-wide at the US hosting company, so they called in the FBI. It seems like it’s just a coincidence that the anti-war message also happened to affect a Liberal web site.


A mate of mine has got himself a journal going (again): Drum him up some traffic.

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Apr 03

Hong Kong Tourism

Oops. Unfortunate timing for this Hong Kong tourism ad campaign.

The Fine Dining Fund

From time to time over the last couple months, a bunch of us have been going down to Paddington RSL on Thursday evenings for trivia nights. It’s a nice relaxing night out with good company over a few drinks, in an unpretentious RSL atmosphere complete with indoor neon lighting that could be straight from the 70s and with the chance to win some cash. Half the entertainment comes from the host, Mr Bagoomba (who unfortunately has been absent lately, being replaced by a self-admitted blonde bimbo). He’s a loquacious middle-aged balding Mediterranean guy with a repertoire full of bad jokes, mistimed calls and an impossibly garish jacket with stars on it. But he keeps things fun with joke telling and push-up competitions and the like.

Our team changes slightly from week to week because of people’s commitments, but last Thurday we had a farmer, an immigration consultant, an AO recipient who was formerly the Chinese and North Korean ambassador for Australia, a filmmaker, a banker, an Arts student and me. We’ve had in the past lawyers and someone who’s worked for the UN interpreting for President Megawati, but we’ve also discovered that it all doesn’t count unless you have someone who (1) really knows their 80s music, (2) knows what happened in the footy over the weekend, and (3) really knows their 30s music. Anyway, we won $100 last week and decided to begin to put this money into a pot and save up for dinner at one of the fine dining joints around Sydney. At this rate it’ll take us the whole year. There’s a jackpot which is now about $1900, but you have to answer three obscure questions that change each week to get it.

Who Lives Here?

A look into some people’s bedrooms. You can pretty much determine the gender (if not clear from name), age and interests of the bedroom’s owner just by the contents and layout of it.


I got this link from Shish. It is currently down, but when I visited yesterday they said they were moving servers because they were getting 4000 hits/second. I don’t have any idea what it is, but anyway in the even that it pops up again: www.welovetheiraqiinformationminister.com

Apr 03


A miscellaneous listing of information on “statoids” – major administrative divisions within countries. (Kev – with regards to what I was referring you to before, I was thinking more about Federated nations arising from historically separate states and what countries had states with those backgrounds, as opposed to mere administrative divisions. I didn’t do a very good job of defining what I meant by a state/province, though.)

Life After Tyranny

Simon Bone’s site is a collection of travel writings where he’s visited some of the more undemocratically governed nations of the world. His account of North Korea is particularly interesting (5 years old).

Dead Man Eating

Last meals of those on death row. Morbid, perhaps, but certainly intriguing. Also, Houston Chronicle article.

Apr 03

Computer Worms

Young computer addicts get ‘aged ailments’.” Mostly fair enough, although I thought a lot of jobs these days, whether IT or not, require you to sit for up to 8 hours in front of a computer.

Apr 03

Raided Floppies

Vic digs up another intellectual curiousity. Some guy has managed to run 5 USB Floppy Drives in RAID. Feel the speed. He also runs a stack of Sony memory stick readers in RAID.

Apr 03

The Latest from the High Court of Australia

In Rout, An application by C4/2002 (14 March 2003), the appellant sought for the High Court to give him leave to proceed with an electoral petition. Kirby J: “The Chief Justice dismissed the document you tendered for that purpose as unintelligible and everything you have said to date seems to me to confirm what his Honour said.”

Which is reasonable given that Rout’s argument was um… something along the lines of: “And the law is their set of dividing and multiplying by zero. As long as they maintain their incorrect dividing and multiplying by zero, then they enable me to cause things to cease to exist, and that is why I have the power to do so. These people must move to the correct dividing and multiplying by zero and install it in their computers and that is the money which, the copyright dollars, et cetera, is to fund this major fusion project in this country, which the public are denied to know.” … WTF?

Read the court transcript. It’s worth it. Remember – this case somehow made it all the way up to the High Court. This hilarious gem courtesy of Vic.

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