Follow Slashdot blog updates by subscribing to our blog RSS feed


Forgot your password?

Slashback: Quakery, Lifespans, Barcodes 135

Today's Slashback calls out to you with puppy-dog eyes, pleading with you to read on for addenda, errata, et cetera regarding previous Slashdot stories and other updates from the world. Read below for ... the all-singing, all-dancing, topless, hatless and reckless Cue Cat review (one night only) ... one reaction to Stephen Hawking's idea of the world's (human) life expectancy ... some Official Words from the Quakemakers ... and as usual, a few bits and pieces.

Just stick around and collect on this bet. mindriot writes "The German climatic researcher Manfred Stock has rejected Stephen Hawking's theory which states that man would not exist on earth for another 1,000 years. To him this seems rather unlikely. Stock expects that, in 50 years, mankind will have switched to alternative power resources. Read the german article here." Oder, wenn Sie nicht Deutsch kann, bitte Babelfish benutzen. It's a much more optimistic view of things, but hardly the words of a Pollyanna.

CD-Rs are cheap, cheap, cheap. David Hume writes: "Fox News is reporting that '[a] three-judge panel decided to allow the popular service to continue allowing users to share music files over the Internet, pending further deliberations.' ... "The judges seemed to need more information from the recording industry and were more antagonistic to the RIAA," said copyright expert Leonard Rubin, who observed the proceedings."'

Overall, it sounds like Napster is taking neither the "shoo-in" or "dropped anchor" tacks that many people predicted. The article points out (and presumably the judge knows) that peer-to-peer file transfers have long since left the gate.

Well, they are the guys who make it, after all! You might remember the stink raised by the release of the Q3 1.25 patch. Now Bob Mintern writes: "iD Software, in hue of their current Point Release for Quake 3 1.25, has released a FAQ highlighting sevral issues of the 1.25 patch and what it breaks. The FAQ can be located here. I wonder when the "offical" patch will work and everything will be normal again..."

After this I'll try to shut up for a while about it, OK? There's been so much about the CueCat that perhaps you (and / or digital convergence) are sick of hearing about it. I pledge not to mention it for at least a week, on penalty of an early bedtime or perhaps more vacation days. But today, you must deal a few I thought were neat ;) First, bk1e asks the musical question: "Why :de:claw your :Cue:Cat when you can get it :spayed in about two minutes with a soldering iron? Simply solder on one jumper and it acts like any other barcode scanner." Heh.

Or, even without doing that, hangel points to this "A CueCat decoder for Zope by stevea," which includes source. Specifically, this one will let you scan in a book's bar code and look it up on Amazon.

Finally, photon317 writes: "There's a make-fun-of-DC site at" This I leave to your own judgement, but as R. Crumb might say, not everything is for everybody. Think iBrator.

This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Slashback: Quakery,

Comments Filter:
  • by jreilly ( 163624 ) on Tuesday October 03, 2000 @03:07PM (#733637)
    or rather, their engineers and coders. After 5 years of getting paid for no work, they release a product and their bosses find out that its encryption can be broken by anyone with half a brain, and the hardware can be hacked not one, but TWO ways. Oh well, I guess five years of loafing around on the job must be good enough.

  • wow, I actually got that to work. Took me a little longer than 2 minutes to do though. make the wire fit was the hardest thing to do. And my soldering iron got some revenge on my finger while I was at it.

    A quick suggestion for anyone that's going to try this, first of all, be especially careful with the soldering iron (lesson relearned). And try to prefit the wire into the hole, I spent the most time trying to narrow the wire down enough to get it down to size.
  • PLEASE don't speak German if you can't... ;>

    "Oder, wenn Sie nicht Deutsch kann, bitte Babelfish benutzen."

    It should read, "Oder, wenn Sie Deutsch nicht sprechen koennen, bitte benutzt Babelfish" or similar.

  • I'd imagine we'll just run out of fossil fuels sometime in the next 1000 years, so we'll have to change to clean alternatives.

    I guess the only question is how much damage will we have done by then, and if it will be possible to reverse it. Anyone have an estimate on how many years fossil fuel we have left?
  • A quick suggestion for anyone that's going to try this, first of all, be especially careful with the soldering iron (lesson relearned). And try to prefit the wire into the hole, I spent the most time trying to narrow the wire down enough to get it down to size.

    It looks like standard solid-core wire such as that used for telephony or ethernet will work. I highly recommend that anyone who likes to solder pick up a spool of solid-core phone wire; It's a fairly thin but still substantial source of reasonably high-grade copper wire with minimal but functional sheathing and which can be easily bend into normally awkward shapes.

  • by Lostman ( 172654 ) on Tuesday October 03, 2000 @03:17PM (#733642)
    The Climate Research Unit has an interesting piece of reading at regarding the causes and expected climate changes over the next few (hundred) years. We (and Big Brother) can always regulate the use and buring of our fossil fuels, but who'd have thought we are threatened by something noone can regulate -- Sun Spots.

    Its an interesting reading that details some of possible causes of the ice age and problems that sun spots could cause to our own climate -- very disturbing.

  • by osm ( 179439 ) on Tuesday October 03, 2000 @03:18PM (#733643)

    Leave Timothy alone. At least he doesn't stand around street corners, wearing green tights, green elfen shoes, a Santa Clause belt, a green robin hood hat and a live rat as a nose piercing. Furthermore, he doesn't eat oatmeal and raisin cookies from a ceramic cookie jar while dressed in such attire.

    Do Germans? Probably. I think that is their biggest problem there. But, what else is one to do in a rat-infested population with a booming cookie industry. It's not like it can be helped.


  • by guinan ( 191856 )

    Slashback has puppy dog eyes regarding CueCat? ..
    Oh dear...

  • by YanceyAI ( 192279 ) <> on Tuesday October 03, 2000 @03:23PM (#733645)
    Informative, but does not mention fixing the bug that keeps my husband up playing Rocket Arena every night until 3:00.
  • why are those links above slashdotted out of existance???

    I have an idea. Why don't you just post a barcode that we can scan and go to the corresponding cuecat story???

  • by jjr ( 6873 ) on Tuesday October 03, 2000 @03:27PM (#733647) Homepage
    No we will not run out of "fossil fuels" because fossil fuels may not have came from fossils.
    Read the wired article [] about it. But I do agree we should find an alternative soon so we do not have to be dependent on only that type of fuels.
  • yeah, where are my Quickies.
    had to get rid of my girlfriend - so i got no quickies coming from her either.

  • Did anyone read The Mayan Prophecies? The author claims that the Mayan calendar is based on sunspot activity, that the Mayans predicted a grand cycle of sunquakes, and (further) that the Mayans were wiped out by sunspot activity, and even predicted their own civilisation's end.

    Seems pretty unlikely, but by the Mayan calender the next grand cycle peaks in 2029, so if their sunspot predictions were on target (and scientific data concurs that there will be major sunspot activity in 2029) it could be the end for our civilisation too!

    My money's on 2029. I never believed this end-of-the-world-in-2000 nonsense ;)

    It's a .88 magnum -- it goes through schools.

  • That's what you get for using Bablefish to write your German.

  • by expiredmilk ( 213257 ) on Tuesday October 03, 2000 @03:29PM (#733651) Homepage
    Okay, I'm probably one of those (lucky/stupid as hell?) few folks who have had a CDR for more than 5 years. I bought my Sony 920S Spressa drive a while ago, and even for its now slow 2x burning speeds, the thing continues to perform. (knock on wood)

    Back when I first got the thing, I was lucky enough to even find blank CDR's in stores, much worse... they usually came at a price of about $9.99 to $14.99 each.

    Over the past 5 or so years... i've watched the prices of CDR's plummet. Yesterday at Staples, I bought a 50 pack spindle of 80 minute blanks for $14.98. My heart sank into my gut when I saw this. All I had to do was wait about a half decade for everything to literally be a fraction of what it cost me to begin with.

    The point I wanted to bring up is that... now that CDR Drives and blanks are essentially dirt cheap, and the software is dumbed-down enough for just about anybody to use it... Why did they get so cheap? The big concern, I thought, was the fact that people could easily make digitally perfect copies for little to no cost.

    Compare this to DVD writer blanks and recorders. They've existed for a little while now... In the first two years after I bought my CDR, the prices at least went down by half... To the point to where it was actually cost effective (gasp!) to burn copies.

    At this point, the cost of DVD blanks are still high enough to reenforce the argument that DeCSS (while it can be used as a tool for such) wasn't made for piracy... after all, the equipment costs too much and blanks are still higher than the cost of buying the actual DVD release itself.

    My question is... with so much concern about MP3's, duplicating CD's, why did the CDR media get so insanely cheap... and why is the DVD media continuing to be so expensive? By now, I expected DVD duplicating media to get cheaper.

    At this point, it looks like nobody really cares about what we do with CD's. Even after the advent of MPEG4/DivX;-) compressing DVD films at reasonable quality small enough to fit on a single CDR. What the hell is going on here?

    I can't really buy the argument that it costs more to make DVD blanks over CDR blanks. To manufacture DVD's is barely more expensive that CD's... and the scary thing is that I can typically find DVD movies on sale for LESS than music CD's on sale.

    Okay, I've rambled on enough. Any other thoughts, folks?

  • I think server got slashdotted
  • Yep - I suspect he whipped up a quick HTML page and ran it through... Heh.
  • it depends on what type of technologies are developed in the next 10 to 15 years. currently a large number of oil deposits are in oil ladden shale, however we can only extract about 10-17 percent of those deposits, as our levels of oil mining tech are not up to the challenge. If the tech gets better then we could go another 50+ years running on oil based products, and that is not something i look forward to. Just think about the current level of urban development, and the population doesn't look very good for our little planet.
  • This may sound like a dumb question, but i dont quite get the use of decoding/hacking a CueCat? What can It do for me? any help is appreciated. thanks :)
  • by e_lehman ( 143896 ) on Tuesday October 03, 2000 @03:37PM (#733656)

    Hey, I've been doing my part all evening to spam investment boards about the upcoming Digital Convergence IPO. The more the merrier, though! Bust in! Here's a sample:

    Digital Convergence (DGTL) recently filed plans for an IPO []. This company gives out free barcode scanners (called "CutCat") and accompanying software. The idea is that you can scan things and their software will pull up an appropriate web page in your browser. On the side, they can collect demographic data. For example, they could determine which gender and age group most often scans a certain type of product.

    I think this is a horrible company, a must avoid stock for the following reasons:

    • DGTL gives away CueCat barcode scanners and software, hoping to get money from advertisers and publications. The problem is that their software is inessential: it took folks a matter of hours to write substitute software that reads a barcode without contacting DGTL. So at the key step where they're supposed to cash in, they're completely cut out of the loop! Whoops!
    • Apparently realizing the enormity of their error, DC has been sending vague, threatening letters to people already distributing alternate software. Unfortunately, these letters appear to be legal bluffs. Decoding software is available on dozens of sites and appears to have no real legal strings attached.
    • A clearly disconcerted president of the technology group at DGTL fired off a letter [] showing gross misunderstanding of intellectual property law-- upon which the health of the company critically depends. (Or would depend, were the IP law favorable to their cause-- which it isn't.)
    • These threatening letters have incensed the open source community-- a group well-qualified to undermine DC's business model by providing alternate software to drive the CueCat, shutting of DC's revenue.
    • The product raises privacy concerns. You register with DGTL and then every time you scan something, they know it. Apparently DGTL has given assurances about privacy. Then again, they left their entire customer database unguarded for hackers to take. Read their own toned down account []. (DGTL has also touted the scanner's "built in encryption", which turned out to consist of XORing each byte with the letter 'C'. I fear these some of the stupidest people ever put on God's Good Earth.)
    • A key asset that DGTL hopes to develop through the barcode scans is a database of demographic data. There's a problem, however: Digital Convergence has a lot of enemies now. It would be a simple matter for ONE PERSON write a little program that sends fake scans with fake user IDs to DGTLs servers. This could permanently corrupt the demographic database, making it worthless, because-- quite possibly-- there could be no way to distinguish real scans from fakes after the fact.
    • Just as the company's fundamental business model has fallen under shadow, they file for an IPO. Avoid, avoid, avoid.

    These are just my opinions, of course. I did my best to get the facts straight, but I'm not perfect. Additional comments on this corporate disaster slouching toward NASDAQ are available at:

    • Salon [] : ...there are a million problems with this concept.
    • Linux World []: In the end, the :CueCat is a classic example of a broken business model.
    • Dr. Dobbs Journal []: What ought to scare Digital Convergence more [...] is a database of all CueCat barcodes/URLs, whereby users could go to a specific web page without being tracked.
    • Dallas Observer []: can simply drag the scanner 600 or 700 times over bar codes printed next to stories and ads, and presto, you get an error message.
    • Internet News Radio []:The CueCat is starting to look like a mangy stray.
  • You should post your Babelfish links like this. []

    Right to the story, correctly translated and without all the fluff around it like ads.

  • The _only_ wire to use for mods like this is kynar-insulation 30 SWG wire-wrap stuff. Solders well, insulation doesn't melt off, and it's fine and strong. It bends into shape (and holds that shape) then glues down to a PCB easily when you want to neaten everything up. You can also get magic little strippers that nip off the insulation perfectly... but they're about $50 and only work for one specific wire size. If you don't buy the stripper, be careful, it's easy to nick the wire and make a weak point.

    Ah, the lost art of wire-wrap. The last thing I did in wire-wrap was a PC ISA bus 16550 serial card.
  • ..why is SourceForgery SO SLOOOOOWWWWWW?

    I went there to steal some code and it's taking FOREVER. It may just be faster to write it myself!

  • But I still don't have one yet, darnit. I keep passing by RadioShacks but they're all closed when I pass by. So I've got puppy dog eyes for one, at any rate.

  • ... I'll post this once more.

    cuecat software, everything imaginable. hardware hacks, too. []

    And while I'm at it, here's some goodness! []

    But did you say you wanted DeCSS, or the newer DecVOB []? Oops, posted another illegal link.

    Maybe you could check out ASF Recorder [] or (fake) SW Ep2 storyboards [] while you're at it...

  • by OlympicSponsor ( 236309 ) on Tuesday October 03, 2000 @03:49PM (#733662)
    I tried following the spaying direction about 2 hours ago with a cuecat I got 3 days ago. No dice. The insides don't match the pics close enough for me to feel comfortable messing with it. All the pieces are there, but they look like they've been moved around. Someone'll have to post new directions for the new board rev.
  • The declaw site has pics that match mine and other pics that match the spay site. Apparently it's already known there is more than one type. I'll have to see if I can make this do the same deal...
  • ...i'm starting to feel more crowded in a cd lately, 650 (or 70) megs just isn't what it used to be, and dvd-rams are getting cheaper and cheaper. i think that the media will come down as well, so in a year or so you'll buy dvd-r's at half of what they are now. hmm 5.2 gb isn't that much even really, if you dig mp3s

    are 50 packs really $14.95 at staples? nice.

    - deuterium
  • by Cramer ( 69040 ) on Tuesday October 03, 2000 @03:55PM (#733665) Homepage
    hmm, if one can "decode" a :Cue by sight, thus rendering a brain as a device for circumventing technological ... blah blah, does that make procreating a violation of the DMCA?
  • i grabbed like 4 last time i was at RS, i can send you one, just post an article on /. giving me full credit, i want to be famous :)
  • by MrP- ( 45616 )
    that picture of the sun at that page is hurting my eyes... seriously wtf?
  • Actually, the router seems to have flipped out. It's done that twice during a thourough slashdotting recently. The machine itself was running fine.

    Who know. I'll go upgrade the router with an axe tomorrow.

  • It just did it again!!!! ARGH!!!!!!

  • by MWoody ( 222806 ) on Tuesday October 03, 2000 @04:04PM (#733670)
    If I ever release a new technology (i.e. CueCat), remind me to not choose a name that opens myself up to so many metaphors...
  • YEs it does. Mods don't work with 1.25 so he can't play Rocket Arena on 1.25.
  • That's what you get for being an early adopter, I'm afraid.

    Remember when CD *players* cost $1,000 and up? It's now so cheap to make a CD player they can sell a basic model for around $59. It's the same with blank media. Once there's enough people wanting them, and the factories that make them have paid back their investments, competition forces the prices to rock bottom levels. I can comfortably predict that blank DVDs will be cheap-ass in five years too ... unless they're taxed to hell by then.

    CD-Rs are basically a commodity item - anyone can manufacture them and there's no way to make your product stand out from the others. All commodity items generally drop in price over the years until they either hit the cost of raw materials plus a tiny profit, or else if distributing the items becomes more expensive than making them then the distribution cost becomes the main factor. I think this is where we are with blank CD-Rs. They can now be made for a fraction of a cent each, but sending them to shops is expensive ... hence the rise of these spindles, which reduce the distribution costs radically, since the product is far less bulky.

    It's a .88 magnum -- it goes through schools.

  • by Gumba Warrior ( 179494 ) on Tuesday October 03, 2000 @04:18PM (#733673)
    Which is conveniently sooner than the end of the UNIX epoch, so we won't have to fix our 32 bit time counters. How did the Mayans know?
  • Yep, that's correct - one of a few ways to say it, but correct translation for what you entered.

    I suspect Babelfish might have issues with contractions like "can't."

  • You can also get magic little strippers that nip off the insulation perfectly... but they're about $50 and only work for one specific wire size.

    They're available for less than that. A wire-wrapping tool I picked up at Rat Shack a few years ago has a stripper in the handle (the spinner pops off the top and the stripper slides inside). It couldn't have cost more than a few dollars. (It only works for one particular wire size, but so does the tool you mentioned.)

    / v \
    (IIGS( Scott Alfter (remove Voyager's hull # to send mail)

  • Hacked CueCat + barcode generation software [] + database = dirt cheap inventory system.

    To see more ideas check out this Freshmeat search [].
  • More importantly, can they send your head a cease and desist letter?
  • From DigitalConvergence Webpage:
    DigitalDemographics is a wholly owned subsidiary of Digital:Convergence. It is responsible for the creation and analysis of the largest consumer database that provides the unique combination of web tracking with all forms of media. With aggregated data from broadcasters, publishers, and educators, our licensees will always be on the cutting edge of information marketing.

    Everybody knows about this cuecat junk, so I decide to see what the company webpage says. Anybody who has looked at this sees the link 'DigitalDemographics' on the left page. Either its just me, but this says that this company is collecting data from the parent companies to sell to advertisers. All the more reason not to use this (or install the software for it) - do we need another wanabe doubleclick?
  • Heck, it's about time such an easy pick for FuckedCompany [] came up. Anyone who's a regular /. reader NOT got :D:C:::::: (or whatever) on their hit list?
  • Yes that wired article is really good, really worth reading ALL the way through.

    However... while it is easy to say:
    we should find an alternative soon so we do not have to be dependent on only that type of fuels

    It is a logistical nightmare. By the time we actually manage to convert everything that currently runs on petrol over to some alternative fuel we will probably have ruined this planet's atmosphere we will want to get the hell off it anyhow. How many people do you know that are desperatly trying to move out of LA and other high-smog areas due to allergies and asthma? I would be surprised if the same was not the case with other major cities in 50 years.

    "Though we say, 'all information should be free', it is not... information is power and currency in the virtual world we inhabit."- Billy Idol (1994)
  • by tbo ( 35008 ) on Tuesday October 03, 2000 @05:00PM (#733681) Journal
    Anybody heard of nanotechnology []? Another good link is the Foresight Institute []. I can see this becoming a reality within my lifetime (ie. much less than 1000 years). If you don't know what I'm talking about, read Eric Drexler's Engines of Creation or Neal Stephenson's The Diamond Age.

    Once we get nanotech, this will all be moot. We'll either wipe ourselves out or become something much more [] than human. Either way, it should be interesting...
  • If you can hack your cuecat so that it isn't squirting out XOR'd bar codes and serial numbers, you can use it for all sorts of fun things. Think your own little library checkout system, think scripts that are launched by swiping a card in your pocket, think swiping a jewel case and playing the album. I use mine for two things right now...

    1. Using it in conjunction with the barcode on a book as the root password to my router.

    2. (In conjunction with the database-like Be filesystem, Be OS, mp3flashlight and cl-amp) I can store the scan output from the back of CD jewel cases in the "comment" attribute of an MP3 file. If I have ripped the CD previously I can swipe the barcode on the jewel case and have the query output (the album tracks) piped into my mp3 player.

    Right now, with my unhacked cuecat, I am stuck with storing barcode output into my mp3's that is scrambled and has the serial a result I can only do my album swipes with one particular scanner. If I had the know-how (or if I have any volunteers (-: ) I could hack my cuecat and have it put out only standard bar codes. Plus, if I give the mp3 to someone who also owns the jewel case, standard bar code output lets them do album swipes with their own scanners.

    Hmmm...there's an idea for a nice little cottage industry....selling modded cuecats. The materials are free, except for the additional wire, so you're mostly paying for a little labor! hehe
  • by roystgnr ( 4015 ) <roystgnr&ticam,utexas,edu> on Tuesday October 03, 2000 @05:21PM (#733683) Homepage
    Yeah, wish I could give you a better estimate. It all depends on whether energy usage keeps growing in developed countries, what percentage of remaining fossil fuel reserves have been discovered, and how fast the majority of the world becomes fully industrial. The "damage" done by then may be a few degrees global warming; it may not. That's another hazy area, and one I'm even less capable of answering. It seems to me that the greatest damage done by fossil fuel burning may be the addiction it gives society to high energy consumption. Don't get me wrong; I'm uber-addicted, having sucked up 1800 kW-hr last month between myself and two roommates. Yes, that bill hurts. But I don't know if society as a whole can support that kind of power consumption with renewable resources. Nuclear power (with fuel from breeder reactors) is probably our best bet, but that's only going to buy us another century or two, and at greater expense. Basically, we've got around half a milennium in which to invent fusion, ring the planet with solar power satellites, or learn the true meaning of "conservation".
  • Great now your box is /.ed

    Once again the "promise of the internet []" thwarted by a ravaging gang of geeks ;) You naughty hooligans!

    "Though we say, 'all information should be free', it is not... information is power and currency in the virtual world we inhabit"- Billy Idol (1994)
  • Okay, I left slashdot for a few months and recently came back. I've spent about two weeks trying to figure out WHAT HAPPENED and it's not documented anywhere. I can't even figure out using context clues what a Slashback is; It's like quickies but shorter -- but there still are quickies!! I can't seem to find "the original" slashback, either, so there's no explanation in a faq or anywhere.

    Can someone also tell me what happened to Karma? How come mine doesn't go up when I get a point? I never liked the moderation system, but now I can't find an explanation of what it's doing --- or at least an description that's different at all from "how it used to be."

    Slashdot is a scary place. It feels like the twilight zone or something. Pardon my rant here, but I couldn't think of anyplace else to put it.
  • I have a catalog whith these strippers ...

    "C.K. Precision Wire Stripper" $39, cat no. 125-500
  • Heh, who's going to be the first person to make an oss program to randomly spit barcodes and cuecodes out to dc's servers? Add random cuecat serials to that and stir for database confusion :P (Heck, the first DDoS where the participants know what's goin on (erm, then again, does being slashdotted count as a DDoS?))
    -since when did 'MTV' stand for Real World Television instead of MUSIC television?
  • Forgive me, but I can't help remembering the movie line "People called Romanis (sp), they go the house."
  • by Scrag ( 137843 ) on Tuesday October 03, 2000 @05:57PM (#733689)
    I know some of you will think this is off-topic, but I think it was the most significant event of the week.

    Signal 11 left slashdot. []

    He provided many insightful comments in addition to his humorous comments, and occasional trolls. We lost a great member of the Slashdot community, and I feel it should be noted.
    You can read his farewell speech HERE [].
  • but you haven't considered what it makes to produce 5.2 gigs of content.

    oh yeah. it'll just keep coming. FREE MUSIK 4 LIFE!


    glad you've ripped 5.2 GIGS worth of other's work.


  • uhh.. actually, you're wrong
    germans, when making sentences such as the above, often drop verbs like sprechen, gehen, etc..
    "Wenn Sie Deutsch nicht sprechen koennen" can legitimately become "Wenn Sie Deutsch nicht koennen", and often does.
    I have to go home would be...
    Ich muss nach Hause -or-
    Ich muss nach Hause gehen.
    As for word order, because there is a comma, the correct second clause would be "bitte babelfish benutzen."

    This is, of course, saying that germans are consistant in grammer, and while in high german they are, from dialect to dialect things change massively..
  • can't someone please mirror this somewhere? is slashdotted from here to next week! Thanks!
  • If you pass his german back into Babelfish, you get: "Or, if you German cannot do, please use Babelfish." Which is close enough I guess.

    Or maybe he had a typo, and meant to say "kenn" (know) instead of "kann" (can). Then at least he has a verb in the sentence. (Babelfish translates that as "Or, if you German do not know, please use Babelfish.")
  • DVD's have three advantages over CD's. One, there are more bits stored in the same area on the surface of the disc. Two, there are two usable sides of the disc. Three, there are multiple layers on each side.

    The first DVD was just a CD with more bits, made possible by better, cheaper lasers yielding better accuracy. As DVD's progress in the market, more of this technology becomes affordable, to the point where a single DVD contains 17GB of data. So it does cost more to make DVD's right now, but that's not why they cost more. The cost to manufacture blank media is even irrelevant. It's just supply and demand. We're not yet over the hump on the growth curve where the market takes off and the price drops as you've observed with CD-R's. Also, a portion of the cost of most blank media goes to the RIAA megacorps through the federal government, because someone, somewhere, will use some of that media to PIRATE THEIR INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY.

    oh, and you should feel good about being an early adopter of cd recording products because you prime the pump for the rest of us later on :)
  • Actually, babelfish will accept arbitrary text in one of the input boxes. No need to whip up HTML.
  • > Stock expects that, in 50 years, mankind will have switched to alternative power resources.

    I doubt it. We've been acutely aware of the problem for at least thirty years, and we've hardly made any progress at all on kicking the habit. I think it will take much longer than 50 years to change the way things are done.

    For example: One might have thought the "gas crisis" of the early '70's would have been a wakeup call regarding the use of petrol, but thirty years later we're still as dependent on it as ever. And most of the world is dependent on foreign petrol, which is a miserable strategic position to be in (whether "strategic" applies to military needs, or merely to general economic needs). But in spite of the scare and the obvious strategic indisposition, what have any of the non-OPEC, industrialized nations done to free themselves?

    For more insight into the underlying problem of economy vs. ecology, direct your favorite search engine to come up with links to the tragedy of the commons. That scenario describes the human eco{nomical,logical} predicament to a T.

  • \begin{plug}

    If you want to use your cuecat under BeOS, you can use CueBe [].

  • Look.

    First of all, let me say that I am not trying to defend Digital Convergence. I wholeheartedly agree that on the legal front, they have done some really boneheaded things as of late with regards to their "intellectual property" claims. Their legal department is not exactly composed of the sharpest tools in the shed. I agree that they were extremely short-sighted if they thought that nobody would manage to figure out their "sophisticated" encryption scheme. Yes, they need to figure out that reverse engineering is legal.

    But haven't we beaten this horse to death, and then some?

    Let me tell you why this bothers me. I work for a large industrial defense contractor, and for four years, I have been working my ass off trying to get my supervisors to let us install Linux on our workstations. From a technical standpoint, it's a no-brainer. We do UNIX development, and Linux on the desktop would be a boon to productivity. But there have been hurdles to overcome. Do you guys know what the biggest hurdle has been? It hasn't been the FUD about open source being "insecure" or "unstable." It hasn't been any Redmond-babble about "total cost of ownership." It hasn't been any of the traditional scaremongering that opponents of open source software use.

    The biggest blockade in the road has been this perception that Linux (and similar projects) is associated with this elusive "hacker" community, that it is an operating system used exclusively by rebellious teenagers with black leather jackets and nose rings. My supervisors have viewed Linux as something that could "contaminate" our "pristine development environment." Sure, my case has been helped every time an industry giant like IBM has jumped on the Linux bandwagon.

    But when we see news of Linux enthusiasts doing things like cracking DC's web site, or setting up parody sites attacking DC, or repeatedly belittling them ad nauseum on sites such as Slashdot, it's easy to see why people have this misconception that Linux users are immature. I'll say it again: I'm not defending DC, but guys .. the point has been made. The more we continue to hoot, holler, and crow about this, the worse our image as Linux users suffers in the eyes of non-techie management types and journalists. Can we please let this die?

    Thanks for letting me get this off my chest. By the way, I've got a Linux pilot project getting started next week .. we're installing Linux on 20 workstations as a "testbed" and there will be more to follow if things go well .. so please don't fuck this up for me, guys. :)


  • Now that someone has turned the CueCat into a normal barcode scanner, I can very cheaply implement a library system we bought for our database called "BarLoan" and we could even consider doing something barcode-ish with our filing system.

    If anyone wants to send a bunch of CueCats to Australia, I'll swap you some Sydney 2000 Olympic pins for them - mail me.

  • Clue: Some of us are ripping things we paid for and burning it because it is more convenient to carry 7 hours of mp3s on a CD than 45 minutes on a prerecorded one.

    Some of us rip because, perhaps, we don't like every song on a CD and it would prefer to create our own "greatest hits" CD.
  • We're not yet over the hump on the growth curve where the market takes off and the price drops as you've observed with CD-R's. Also, a portion of the cost of most blank media goes to the RIAA megacorps through the federal government, because someone, somewhere, will use some of that media to PIRATE THEIR INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY.

    That's the whole irony of it all. the cost differences to manufacture a DVD versus a CD is insignificant, less than a buck difference from what I remember...

    As far as the 'royalty' goes... kind of hard to fathom how much money the RIAA would actually get when buying a 50 pack spindle for $15 means each blank only costs $0.30 each. Then again, it probably adds up. Like someone else said, distribution/shipping probably makes up for more than the majority of the sale price of such blanks. I wonder if anyone has any information at all as to how much of each blank goes to where. From the looks of it, manufacturers are making very little profit nowadays if we're working it out to under a half a buck for each disc.

    Consider how much pressed releases cost, it makes you wonder why they're so damn expensive. $15+ for a new release when a blank disc costs less than a buck. I've checked out manufacturing costs myself when I was considering having discs pressed up for a label release I was working on. For a small lot of 1000 copies, it was still less than a buck per disc, including jewel cases, 4 colour inserts, shrink wrapping, etc... Then again, we *ALL* know where all that extra money is going.

    It was a long day at work for me... but AFAICR, only the "music only" blanks were supposenly subject to taxes/fees for royalty payments. The only difference between CDR's and Music Only CDR's is the digital copy protection bit. Personally, I see it more as a stupidity tax for buying a unit that requires proprietary discs over standard plain old blanks. There was also the infamous 'dat tax' that was passed a few years back... back when the music industry was really whining how cassette tape dubbing was killing sales and DAT is too good of quality to let just any ordinary home user get away with copying music. Now it's MP3's and Napster... but all along, record sales keep going up. Go figure. However, I know I'm just preaching to the congregation here.

    Re the "burning" questions pun, purely unintentional, but amusing nonetheless. :)
  • The ancient Mayans didn't know, but all the original Unix creators were in fact secretly decendents of the Mayans. (And lazy.) They also control the British Pound, keep the metric system down, leave Atlantis off the maps and keep the martians under wraps.


  • a quick reorientation :)

    a) slashback -- it's a semi-regular deal where I ("or anyone else --""NOT anyone else!") gather things that are updates or reactions to previous stories, which might not get posted to the front page because of how similar they are to a recent story, say, or because no one wants to see 10 bazillion stories on the same topic ... it's also a place where people sometimes complain because they were misquoted or misinterpreted (or in which I can apologize for -- oh I dunno ... misreporting the sex of someone because I *assumed* that their gender was what I thought it was) which is something for which we thought it would be nice to provide a regular forum. If you do a search for "Slashback" (trust me, this is one thing that the search engine gets right), you can read some previous ones and see what I mean ...

    Also, sometimes the punning reference to "flashback" inspires me to include something in Slashback which may never have been in a slashdot story, but which deserves mention nonetheless ... historical tidbits etc.

    Since I am a humorless bastard, the quickies are funnier even when dealing with digital convergence ... also, because a lot of time the sort of things which end up in them are the bubbles at the top of long-simmering issues. I take complaints at timothyatslashdotdotorg :) Rob does quickies still -- watch, he does!

    b) there is now a limit past which karma does not shift upwards. This shouldn't come as *too* great a shock -- the whole moderation point thing exists to make reading the site better, and it's constantly being tweaked, poked, prodded, thought about. It bothers some people more than others, but I don't see how it's a burden to folks who post postively.

    I am not an expert on the moderation system, but my karma (once so high and happy) is now much much lower than it used to be ... oh well!

    There are very few places, online or IRL, that aren't disorienting if you leave for a while, then return. New York City is one, I find, but only because the change is actually so constant.

  • hahaha...

    You certainly are popular now that you joined the Stone Cutters..

  • Well, I agree that the original purpose (get advertisements for products you already have!) is useless. I have a little web app, WebQcat [] that can make listings, with title, author, picture, and price, of books. It's sorta useful to make a quick listing of a stack of books or other items. Not something I'd buy a barcode reader for, but it's ok for a freebie :)
  • NaughtyEddie wrote: "Remember when CD *players* cost $1,000 and up? It's now so cheap to make a CD player they can sell a basic model for around $59."

    I remember when CDs first came out, I thought they wouldn't last because people had too much money in vinyl. By the next year I was converted (philisophically) but I couldn't afford one. In 1989, I think, I finally bought a CD player by mail, waited anxiously for it to arrive ... and it was broken. It really seemed nice, too -- a Sherwood with a motorized drawer that played out with a purr that puts many high-end players to shame. ALas, I sent it back, and never did figure out what was wrong with it. AH, nostalgia for mass-produced electronics.

    But as to your $59 claim, I think it's too conservative! I see players in WalMart and elsewhere for only $39 all the time! Granted, they look like they might last only through a single pack of AA batteries, but they're sure there.

  • This is coming from someone who chose "MWoody" as his username? Sure, that doesn't open you up to any metaphors.... ;-)
  • "Spamming investment boards" with anti-D:C writings worded in an inflammatory manner? That's pretty immature, IMHO. The way you're going about this reflects poorly on yourself and the open source community. If you would stick to the facts, that would help.
  • Actually, "kann" is the right verb, it's just not conjugated correctly. The correct form for use with "Sie"--the second person formal--is "koennen". The form he used is for "sie"--third person feminine.

    To "kann" a language is a standard German idiom, and usually a sign that the speaker does, in fact, know a bit of German.

    If he'd just gotten the verb form right, we could all be really impressed. Still though, a very worthy effort.

  • I don't blame the engineers for putting a backdoor into the product, but if I was their boss I'd definitely blame them for not taking it out before the product shipped.

    On the other hand, a lot of the /. comments about them are so overwhelmingly negative that I have started to feel pity for them. Here they are, giving out free proprietary barcode scanners that are easily converted to free normal keyboard-wedge-type barcode scanners and people are posting things along the lines of "digitalconvergence suxx!!!". It's not like the Slashdotters need to cut them any slack, but can't people at least try to be a little polite?
  • I have to say I am sorry to see Signal 11 leave, if only for the loss of a person's valid opinion.

    I did take the time to read Signal's farewell speech, and it showed me somethings that I never really knew before. I happen to be a moderator all the time, I'm apparently the perfect user. I never got moderated up for my posts (thanks a lot) but since the first time I became a moderator, I've gained about 20 karma through metamoderation. This took me about 2 months, at most.

    If +50 is the cap, where is the challenge? In a few more months, I'll probably be there, even though my comments, though excellent, never get moderated up. But, I digress.

    I love to see a person who actually has the time to post often (Signal 11, _xeno_, Wakko Warner, so many more...). Even if their opinions conflict with mine, I enjoy gettting to see the other side of a topic. It is deeply disheartening to see that a valued member (I'm user 200000+, yeah, don't I feel special) is leaving.

    I guess I really didn't get to see the early days of /.(period) Even so, I still manage to find the time every night to come to my favorite site, at least read the headlines, and if there's an article that I care about (and understand) I usually manage to read the comments. If I realize that many of the people I look up to (I'm on a senior in high school, I still admire all the techies I endevour to be) won't be posting, and there are about 40 posts at -1, with another 200 that probably should be, I might not want to continue coming here for the comments. Can moderation really be the problem?

    I'm probably a little incoherant by now, but if you've gotten this far, you might as well keep reading.

    Moderation is supposed to be the solution to the problem. We are supposed to be the best and the brightest, I don't have a clue as to why so many people think it is funny to continually post goat sex links. I bear the title of Nerd because I am proud of it. I like that. Being so, shouldn't we be able to figure out a solution to the overpopulation? Well, I'll get to thinking about it, and you all should too.

    One more thing, Signal 11 said that emptionally charged statements are moderated up, which isn't right, because they aren't filled with technical statements, but aren't impassioned speeches that way because they have strong fact to back them up? I know that the intellectually superior of /. are supposed to ignore emotion completely, because nerds don't have any (thats why its ok to make fun of them right?) but is it really that bad if you feel strongly about something?

    Well, thats about enough ranting for me today. I said I had no time, I now have negative time, which means skipping more homework for me, but at leats i got to voice myself, and though I can only hope for 4 people to read it, it still makes me feel good to know that someone might have.
  • Haven't seen you around in a while, O Glorious MEEPT! Where ya been?
  • but you haven't considered what it makes to produce 5.2 gigs of content. oh yeah. it'll just keep coming.

    I have, and it will. See my .sig.

  • The mpeg of my Brothers wedding will go on one DVD*, the reception on another, and the hijinks before and after on a third. And then there are 20-30 copies of all three for everyone who wants one.

    What am I up to now? 468 Gigabytes?

    (*) - Yeah that's right, I need raw mpeg. If you've used it you know that DivX-; has an 'upper quality limit' that prevents it from using any more bandwidth to increase quality. Even though you're telling it to use more than 1500-2000 kbps, your filesize doesn't increase and quality doesn't go up. (It's just the way it's quality settings/algorithm are currently built, not that it couldn't be changed to just isn't good enough for something like this.) And even if I were to use DivX;) at 2000 kbps, the 6 hours would add up to around 5 Gig, a full DVD.

  • The bug is in your husband, not the game. Unfortunately upgrading that model is rather tricky. Your best bet is to trade him in. To find a suitable replacement, I suggest submitting your requirements as an Ask Slashdot.
  • There is some corporate maneuvering occuring, but consider that DVD-R is *just now* on the consumer market. Drives are fairly reasonable, and media in bulk (5k units) is running about $13.

    As far as price fixing, I think you are underestimating how much harder it is to make recordable blanks. Commercial DVDs are stamped using the same process as commercial CDs...the tolerances are tighter, but the cost is close for single layer discs. Manufacturing a writable substrate is a lot more complex. As production scales and is streamlined, it will probably approach CDR manufacturing costs, but that takes time.

  • Holy shit. I can't believe I just talked casually and seriously about burning A HALF A TERRABYTE of data.

    Is that cool or what :) :)

    It was only 5+ or so years ago I saw a company demoing their big huge cabinet sized optical tape thingie, that held a terrabyte of data. It was two huge 1.5-2 foot diamager reels of shiny optical tape. One minute seek time to any point. At the time I just boggled at the idea of a terrabyte of data. And now my home computer has 0.06 terrabytes of disk space, and if I spent another $1200-$1500 CDN and filled up the other ide channels with modern drives and replaced one of the older drives, I'd have 0.30 terrabytes.

    I could do that right now.
    This instant.
    Walk down to the local shop and say 'gimme 4 65 gig disks please' and walk out.

    - - boggle - -

  • If you didn't get disoriented the first time you walked down the Disneyfied 42nd St., you are made of strong stuff indeed!!!
  • If you would stick to the facts, that would help.

    You're absolutely right, and I've tried to stick to the facts. If I made any errors, please point them out specifically, and I really will follow up with corrections. I definitely don't want to spread false information. Aside the matter of getting sued, I believe DC sinks on its own demerits. As for being inflamatory-- well, I really believe this is one of those bogus .coms out to make a quick buck from an ill-conceived busines model, and I don't think it's right to let them get away with that. People are going to sink their money into this company-- $100 million if all goes as planned-- and the prevailing opinion around here is that they're going to lose it all. What can I say?

    (And rest assured that I used the term "spamming" jokingly above. I've posted at most one comment per IPO discussion forum.)

  • OK, how fucking stupid do you have to be to reply to your own post, not notice the #2 indicating you are the second poster, also not notice the actual first post (not something I condone anyway, but it is what it is), and still in your reply write "BTW, FP!"? That really is just sad.
  • First, hacking the CueCat is a perfectly legal, legitimate pastime, which is very much aligned with the kind of thing /. readers like to do.

    Second, companies as clueless as DC deserve to be embarassed, in public and in the courtroom. It's a pity the RIAA and MPAA aren't such easy targets.

    Third, if Linux has to depend for its "image" on the behavior of every one of its users, it's in trouble. Luckily, it doesn't.

    Fourth, self-censorship is still censorship. You should re-examine your own position before you turn into a PHB.

  • I demand to see Steve Gutenberg in a new police academy movie, with Charlie Sheen as the bad guy, pronto
  • This was a great hardware hack. I had to think about it for a bit since I have a HM+H rev 1.1 and it wasn't mentioned. It appears that the general rule is to jumper from J2 to R29 so I did and it worked.

    Now, where's the application? I don't really care about scanning my canned peas and having a database show me that they're canned peas made by Green Giant. I don't keep a large collection of books.

    How about a Winamp plugin so I can print a list, scan the songs I want and they'll be enqueued?This would be great for a party, for example, because you could let the people pick the music but they wouldn't be less able to screw with the system.
  • These alarmists irritate me sometimes... I agree with Scott that earth will last more than 1,000. For one, Hawking doesnt take into the account that technology will probably solve its own problem. Secondly, there is no real proof of global warming, although I do agree it may be a risk factor. I think it's a bit arrogant to believe that we have that much of an effect on the atmosphere. Cows and volcanoes produce more CH4 and C02 than most industry together. I also think we should colonize other planets, because eventually the earth will die, whether it's in 1,000 years or 1,000,000 or even 1,000,000,000.
    Besides, space is just damn cool...
  • I plan to put the jumper on a switch. I presume it only reads the jumper at boot up. If I want to scan catalogs, (the original use) then boot up and use. For inventory, hold a pushbutton while booting. You wouldn't even have to shut off the software. Maybe DC won't be as mad for this one as it will still be used for it's original use. By the way.. Thanks DC for the scanner. A quick search of the web shows the lowest price for a wedge type scanner is about $150 US.
  • I remember...

    RAM is good. I want a terrabyte of RAM for my hard drive.
  • I wasn't saying that you were spreading false information, but rather that some of the more opinionated remarks in your post gave a bad impression. In particular, I think the credibility of your letter was hurt by "I think this is a horrible company" and "I fear these some of the stupidest people ever put on God's Good Earth." Belittling sounds childish.

    Also, the overenthusiastic, juvenile tone of "Nuke the Digital Convergence IPO!" and "I've been doing my part all evening to spam investment boards" colored my impression of your letter. "Nuking" D:C's IPO sounds "trollish" and malevolent, at least compared to "warning potential investors."

    Finally, "These threatening letters have incensed the open source community-- a group well-qualified to undermine DC's business model by providing alternate software to drive the CueCat, shutting of DC's revenue" would appear to pit the open source community against D:C in a struggle to drive D:C out of business. This sounds a little bit like a threat itself.
  • i'm sure we're more than capiable than effecting the atmosphere. we're more than able to ruin our own country, other countries, the ecology system all in the name of progress and profits.

    ruining the atmosphere is a piece of cake. of course technoly may fix it. all we have to do is bio-enineer new skin and food to eat so we can live in the new and improved world.

    oh, and just becuase cows and volcanos fart doesn't mean that we farting too isn't a bad thing.

  • by troxey ( 195156 ) on Wednesday October 04, 2000 @02:39AM (#733740)
    Re: fusion comes in two fundamental flavors.. Magnetically confined and Inertially confined. One is aimed at power production (in about a zillion years) the other is what makes really good bombs. Maybe power too someday...

    For the magnetic version the holding of really hot plasmas (a fusion engines main claim to fame) in magnetic bottles has been attempted for oh - about forty or so years..... It has even had some brief (milliseconds) successes too. However, the bottles are terrifically difficult to make and the damn plasmas don't seem to last long. Seems like these doughnut shaped magnetic bottles have some very complex instabilities...(insert really cool mathematical models)

    If you go with the inertial confined plasmas as a solution to fusions then you get another whole complex batch on issues regarding getting any appreciable energy out compared to the really huge lasers that put the energy there to start with. And - oh - yeah - some folks say the whole purpose for the inertial confinement program is just to tweak bomb codes any ways...

    As for Breeder technology - well you probably won't need them for a while since there is a pant load of Uranium fuel available all over the place. Course we could always blend down those pesky nuclear weapons and mix that very highly enriched stuff (called bomb grade enriched Uranium) with some of the old cheap stuff (not bomb grade stuff). - The pricey stuff is made by liberally adding huge amounts of energy (really really huge) in order to separate U235 from the rest of the old U stuff found in naturally occurring Uranium...)

    This would let us literally burn our "swords" into "plowshares" - to really mix a metaphor or two. For more info - please see the Uranium institute at

    Personally I would love to know we are burning up weapons to produce electricity,,,

    Oh yeah - and virtually no greenhouse gasses. (no no - really) (well not counting the discharge from employees cars as the drive to work...)

    However, Nuclear Power requires political will, a deep sense of environmentalism, and an understanding of the basics of the scientific method that real Science is based on - not junk science -

    Political will (or won't) is a precious commodity.. Tons of folks have a deep sense of environmentalism (kids are practically born knowing how to recycle) and there are even a bunch of folks who kind of get the drift of the philosophy of the scientific method (it really is simply a clear way of thinking - similar to good programming) ... But the anti-environmental movement - the Greens as they sometimes collectively call themselves - take pride in pursuing political agendas wrapped up in a false cloak of science. (my rant)

    Solar is nice but imagine what it would take to keep just one Vally - possibly a Silicone one- humming with just sunlight. ... Wind is really nice too - but it is also responsible for the greatest number of dead raptors (those really cool birds like falcons, hawks, and other hunters) in the United States today. And wind is such a very small player today - just imagine what it would be like if there were many many more spinning blades for birds of prey.. Sort of like food processing the atmosphere. (would you like feathers with that kilowatt??) And don't even get me started with those damn dams... Boy what a piece-o-feces they are....Let me see now- how can we kill of the greatest number of pacific and Atlantic salmon (and other types of really tasty fishes as well) in the least amount of time.. Oh - yeah - I remember - lets just block them away from those places they go to for sex..

    Course the solution is a combination of things - ain't it just like life to be a bit complex... Lots of base load nuclear, some clean oil, some cleaner Natural gas, considered use of Solar and Wind (Tidal too like the Bay of Fundy) and a bunch of improved conservation end (demand side) concepts..

    Just my thoughts for what its worth.. I could be wrong..
  • of going into radio shack for a fine-braid soldering iron, a spool of solder, some wire...

    And a "free" :Cue:Cat

    Bwa ha ha ha
  • Good little Slashbot... You learned all the valuable lessons.
  • but you haven't considered what it makes to produce 5.2 gigs of content.

    Family videos?

    Recordings of local garage bands?

    Recordings at sporting events from the helmetcams?

    Video of the party this weekend?

    I can think of many ways to fill up a DVDR. Bring them on! Just because the music industry claims I can't make a legitimate use of mass storage technology doesn't mean I can't.
  • Going further, when the RIAA does "tax" cdr's, that will make it ok to copy thier client's material?

    I think the RIAA and MPAA are the pirates. Some people want to use mass storage to record personal events, not some crappy commercial canned entertainment. They pillage our technologies and abilities to record our own performances just so they can stuff thier coffers.
  • Back in the early 1990s I used to joke to my coworkers that I'd buy a big hard drive "when disk prices reached a dollar a megabyte."

    Then I had to revise my criteria. It became "10 cents per megabyte"

    Then "a penny per megabyte"

    Now I'm going to wait until disk space hits a dollar per gigabyte before I buy a big hard drive. Right now it's running about $3.50 per gigabyte. How long will I have to wait before I revise my criteria, do you think?

    - John
  • New Scientist has an article this week on a new catalytic converter type device that converts CO2 and CO gases in car exhaust into high-carbon particluates that can then be used to create artificial industrial grade diamonds.

    Here's a summary of the article [] ;.

  • or rather, their engineers and coders. After 5 years of getting paid for no work, they release a product and their bosses find out that its encryption can be broken by anyone with half a brain, and the hardware can be hacked not one, but TWO ways.

    By the looks of things a lot more than two ways, once it gets into the hands of real engineers and this happens in days.
    DC is effectivly saying "we spent so long on it, that it must be good", maybe someone should send them a complimentry copy of "The mythical man month".

"If you lived today as if it were your last, you'd buy up a box of rockets and fire them all off, wouldn't you?" -- Garrison Keillor