October 2006

DVD Jon takes on Apple

The hacker known as DVD Jon is having another go at Apples digital rights management (DRM) technology by commercialising code that allows people to play iTunes on any MP3 player.

Apple prevents iTunes customers from playing any songs on any player other than an iPod, but Lech Johansen sees this as an unfair restriction on the digital music market. His company DoubleTwist is planning to licence its Apple DRM breaking code to other manufactures of MP3 players so that they can allow their customers to play iTunes files on their devices.

Apple so far hasn’t reacted to the news, but it isn’t the first time the company’s DRM system has been tackled by the hacker.

Johansen first released a product to circumnavigate the DRM in 2003, and several updates have been released for free on the web since then, but users have found it difficult to load the code onto their machines.

Johansen became known as DVD Jon after he introduced a code-breaking program to open up the DRM in DVD films, to allow him to play films on his Linux computer. The film industry took action against him, but a Norwegian court threw out the case.

A little information for our files

Victor Rozek highlights the dangers of uncontrolled and unmonitored gathering of personal data.

The result of massive data gathering efforts will be a form of behavioral redlining. Redlining is the practice of denying or increasing the cost of services based on race, religion, gender, family size, disability, or ethnic origin. In those forms, it is illegal. But behavioral redlining is not, and data collection provides the foundation for a nosy new world in which all activity is recorded, and business transactions are reduced to computerized evaluations of risk and reward.

Of course, Rozeks article is focussed on the privacy implications of a lack of control of the data falling into corporate hands. When the same data ends up in state databases with even less oversight, things become very disturbing indeed.

Quote of the Day: Remember

This is a very good occasion to remind everybody that 10 million people are currently living under a dictatorship in the heart of Europe.

- Belarus human rights campaigner Irina Krasvoskaya on the news that opposition leader Aleksander Milinkevich has won the European Parliaments annual human rights award, the Sakharov Prize, for his work in galvanising pro-democracy campaigners in a climate of fear under president Aleksander Lukashenkos regime.

IPPR calls on government to decriminalise iPod users

The BBC reports that the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) is calling on the government to decriminalise iPod users by changing UK copyright law to include a ‘private right to copy’.

It would decriminalise millions of Britons who break the law each year by copying their CDs onto music players.

Making copies of CDs and DVDs for personal use would have little impact on copyright holders, the IPPR argues.

Which sounds perfectly reasonable to me. If someone has already paid for a CD once, there really is no justification in telling them that they will have to pay again for the privilege of listening to the same selection of music in a different format.


Just a quick word or warning to let you know that I am making a few tweaks to the layout of the site. If things start to look a bit screwy, please do not adjust your browser.

Normal service will be resumed as soon as we establish what we mean by normal.


And its done. All rather painless, all things considered.

Sunday viewing

The best thing to happen to your love life since broadband

Check out this advert for beer goggles.

Rediscover the web. Again

Firefox logo Firefox 2.0 is here


Installing Firefox 2.0 was even faster and easier than I expected. The installer switched off my Wizz newsreader, but (so far) I havent seen any problems with simply switching it straight back on and using it straight away.

But more importantly, I have discovered Pimpzilla!

Why should you browse the web like an average player? Express your wealth and importance by customising Firefox in a garish, extravagant way. You don’t have to be a baller: PimpZilla is completely free! Elevate your game and become a true internet-player. Browsin’ ain’t easy, but PimpZilla has just made it a little easier.

I have no taste. I dont care.

Quote of the Day: Europes bloody past

Democrats in Europe have to expose these parties and show European citizens how piteously little they achieve in answering todays questions and in solving the problems and worries of the people.

- Elmar Brok, head of the European Parliaments Foreign Affairs Committee on the news that far-right politicians are trying to form a political group in the Brussels assembly. Again.

Ichtegem Gran Cru

Ichtegem Gran Cru Since moving to Belgium I have really started to develop a taste for Flemish Red beers, such as Ichtegems Gran Cru from the Brouwerij Strubbe.

Its quite light for a dark beer, not too strong, but very drinkable.

I shall sleep well tonight