It's 7.06 pm in China now (where I am) and I have just switched on my tv to check. I get around 50 channels on cable here, but today they are ALL showing the same programming - except the solitary English language channel which has a diffent show, but on the same theme. It won't make much difference to me as I can still download my P2P files, and although Chinese download sites may be suspended, the DVD stores (at least those near my home) are still open for business selling pirated DVDs for the equivalent of 85cents US. The 3 minutes silence was interesting and well observed, but curiously the end of that three minutes was marked by the sounding of air raid sirens and much honking of car horns.
PDQ Back writes to tell us about an email Microsoft sent to former customers of MSN Music today. The company said it would be turning off the DRM servers used to authorize playback of music purchased from the now-defunct MSN Music store. "'As of August 31, 2008, we will no longer be able to support the retrieval of license keys for the songs you purchased from MSN Music or the authorization of additional computers,' reads the e-mail. This doesn't just apply to the five different computers that PlaysForSure allows users to authorize, it also applies to operating systems on the same machine (users need to reauthorize a machine after they upgrade from Windows XP to Windows Vista, for example). Once September rolls around, users are committed to whatever five machines they may have authorized — along with whatever OS they are running."
gollum123 notes an extensive article from the NYTimes on the evidence that the military, since the time of the buildup to the Iraq war, has been manipulating the military analysts that are ubiquitous on TV and radio news programs, in a protracted campaign to generate favorable news coverage of the administration's war efforts. "Hidden behind that appearance of objectivity of military analysts on the major networks, is a Pentagon information apparatus... The effort... has sought to exploit ideological and military allegiances, and also a powerful financial dynamic: Most of the analysts have ties to military contractors vested in the very war policies they are asked to assess on air. Several dozen of the military analysts represent more than 150 military contractors either as lobbyists, senior executives, board members, or consultants. Records and interviews show how the Bush administration has used its control over access and information in an effort to transform the analysts into a kind of media Trojan horse — an instrument intended to shape terrorism coverage from inside the major TV and radio networks. ...[M]embers of this group have echoed administration talking points, sometimes even when they suspected the information was false or inflated. Some analysts acknowledge they suppressed doubts because they feared jeopardizing their access."
Ares writes "In a follow-up to Blogger Subpoenaed for Criticizing Trial Lawyers, Katherine Seidel's blog indicates that not only has she successfully quashed her subpoena, but the lawyer issuing said subpoena is now under orders to appear and explain why the courts shouldn't sanction him for it. This should be interesting, because in addition to Ms. Seidel's subpoena in New Hampshire, the lawyer issued a similar subpoena to a doctor and a Harvard professor under similar circumstances."
KentuckyFC writes "If you live in the city of Bath in the UK and carry a Bluetooth-enabled device, your movements may have been secretly monitored in an experiment designed to test surveillance techniques in prisons. Researchers from Bath University recorded the movements of 10,000 Bluetooth-enabled devices during their 6-month trial. They say the experiment was a test of a technique for monitoring the interactions between prisoners in jail that could be used to work out which inmates have become closely associated. The work was prompted by revelations that the Madrid train bombers who devastated the city in 2004 first met in a Spanish prison (abstract)."
Vandre writes "The popular AJAX library ExtJS released a new version today. There has been a huge controversy among the Ext community. Previously Ext had been accused of not being open source and trying to restrict its users' rights." It seems be boil down to whether the developers like or dislike the GPL, under which the library's new version is available -- the comments illustrate a long-standing divide when it comes to licensing. The foundation which oversees development explains why they've chosen dual-licensing at all.
Ponca City, We Love You writes "The Department of Defense has announced the creation of the Armed Forces Institute of Regenerative Medicine to 'harness stem cell research and technology... to reconstruct new skin, muscles and tendons, and even ears, noses and fingers.' The government is budgeting $250 million in public and private money for the project's first five years, and the NIH and three universities will be on the team. The military has been working on regrowing lost body parts using extracellular matrices and scientists in labs have grown blood vessels, livers, bladders, breast implants, and meat and are already growing a new ear for a badly burned Marine using stem cells from his own body. Army Surgeon General Eric Schoomaker explained that our bodies systematically generate liver cells and bone marrow and that this ability can be redirected through 'the right kind of stimulation.' The general cited animals like salamanders that can regrow lost tails or limbs. 'Why can't a mammal do the same thing?' he asked."
Chief Wongoller writes "The Guardian, http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2007/nov/20/nhs.health , has an interesting story about UK doctors' mistrust in the proposed national database of patients' records. Aparantly three quarters have expressed a lack of confidence in the proposed scheme,and most of them plan to boycott it; their main reasons being worries about the security of the information: ie they seem to think the database will be insecure and open to hackers etc. Also they worry about the integrity of those who will administer the system. Are UK family doctors just naturally cynical, or perhaps do they have other reasons for not wanting to share their records?"