At last! Everybody is saying that Apple's new online music store has a shot at surviving. About time. The catalogue available will be rather limited, but I will for instance be able to keep up with the best of super producer team The Neptunes' work without having to but the other trash american 'R&B' starts put on their albums.
One dollar per song sounds about reasonable for permanent ownership. It is comparable to record store prices.
It is not surprising that Steve Jobs was the one who pulled it together now that it has been pulled together, he is after all equipped with his own personal 'reality distortion field', but what a struggle it has been.
What's next? Well, I would like this to end as an above-board Napster. The record labels fail to make their catalogues available in any sensible way. The joy of Napster was not the 2 million servers offering Britney Spears' latest hit but that one guy in Singapore who happened to have digitized that obscure B-side from that Los Angeles Negros single you loved so much.
If iTunes made it possible to come forward with material like this, I would gladly pay the copyright holder the requisite dollar, if Apple would be willing to act as the exchange. It is the possibility of actually getting rare recorded material that is compelling.
Turings original paper on artificial intelligence proposing the Turing Test that I talked about below is of course available on the net, as well it should be. I found it using the most intelligent piece of software I know, Google.
As remarked by Douglas Hofstadter in the introduction to G?del,Escher,Bach (maybe it's an addendum for the anniversary addition I have; I certainly don't recall it from first reading) it is impressive how well Turing manages to address practically all the objections to the test that have since been given, in the very first presentation of the test. Since Turing is also quite a good writer, the piece is certainly recommended.
The next version of windows is being leaked continuously to the internet (you'd think it was a marketing effort, so consistent is the process). Sadly, in the next version of windows, MS has decided to use even more space for their own purposes. A screenshot accompanies ZDnet's story on the new Windows and truly depressing amounts of space is taken up by windows. The terrible Office toolbar has now made it to the windows release itself.
A couple of months ago the best tech business magazine died. Salon carried an obiturary, 'Death of a cheerleader' (also a trashy Tori Spelling movie and a famous new journalism piece if you were wondering). Tony Perkins (a Red Herring founder) famously got out before the bubble burst and published his book about the impending bust before it happened. Furthermore, the Red Herring staff always examined the ideas more than the hype.
Btw: You should get yourself one of the dirt cheap Salon Premium subscriptions. Salon is great. "Scumsucking liberals", surely - but from a European point of view quite balanced.
Salon carried a really great story 2 months ago on Hugh Loebner and the Loebner prize. A madman it seems from the article. The concept of a Turing Test of an artificially intelligent machine (fooling an unknowing guinea pig into belieiving that the AI is real through conversation) will be known to many people. The Loebner prize is the embarrasing not-too-serious competion to actually run a Turing Test. The best machines entering get a 'best this year' award, but to actually claim the prize they have to actually fool a living person. The best machines are about as far from that as Leonardo da Vinci was from building an actual aeroplane.
Loebner, it turns out, is a rather strange person and fun to read about. The writer, John Sundman, is a little too happy to root for the little guy, against the establishment. In doing so he picks at several of my personal heroes (Marvin Minsky and Daniel Dennett) on what I consider completely unfair grounds. Both are accused of being establishment scientists locked up in dogma and absurd theory, and in these particular cases nothing could be further from the truth. Minsky and Dennett are to be commended for their extremely hands-on approach to doing science and philosophy respectively. Furthermore they have written very accessible books about their respective fields.
Minsky's society of mind is an extremely practical guess at some of the architectures that will be necessary to build actual intelligence of any kind. It is however not theory-free as Sundman and the infamous Richard Wallace (af A.L.I.C.E. fame - and quoted in the article) would like.
A.L.I.C.E will never win the Loebner prize - it just doesn't learn enough from the conversation even though one can seed it with very convincing replies.
Dennets consciousness book I haven't read. But 'Darwin's Dangerous Idea', while challenging reading is also one of the best books I have read in a while.
Sundman manages to give the impression that these are medievel progress hating nay sayers whereas they are in fact hardcore believers in manmade complex machines, call them intelligent or not.
A very nice micro-application of webservices: At the danish concert ticket seller (a rival to the local Ticketmaster subsidiary) Billetmaskinen they have found a nice way around the annoying address data entry. You simply enter your phone number and they'll snap up your data from the directory listing. The privacy concerns are obvious, and it would be preferable with a URL to something like Ascio's digital identity so you could give out the address you would like to give out. But it still saves me a good deal of trouble, using only data about me I publish already. I haven't seen this elsewhere and I'm currently wondering why. Why does the credit card companies not offer something similar? Obviously not from the actual card number (that would kill any resemblance of security) but an ID number would be simple to add - and if you're going to pay anyway, or accept delivery, they WILL know who you are.
Et website der stinker voldsomt er Vegas. Det har alle fejl man kan have
Jeg er meget lidt af en beundrer af Politikens Henrik Palle. Der står for lidt i artiklerne når han har skrevet dem, og så kalder han ofte stolt sig selv lidt dum, og det er meget farligt at g?re når det så bagefter viser sig at passe. Og nu vi er igang, så er han ligesom så mange andre af Politikens avisp?dagoger og nedadtalere en ynder af snotdumme ord som "Kloge-Åge" der får mig til at afsikre min pistol i lynfart. MEN han slipper udem?rket fra sin d?kning af fordanskede EDB ord med anledning i verbet 'at google'. En googolplex, som ordet er dannet af er som bekendt tallet 10^100, men som betegnelse for en af mine egne yndlingsbesk?ftigelser (dum stirren i timevis på perifer information fundet af tilf?ldig vej eller frembringelse af samme (tilf?ldige veje og perifer information)) er det mere den lydm?ssige sammenh?ng med et godt gammeldags ord som 'at glo' man kommer i tanke om. 'At google' er jo ganske enkelt teknologiassisteret gloen.
Ikke alene s?ger Lars H.U.G. musikalsk tilbage til r?dderne med sin nye plade og spiller country. Han har også bestemt sig til at se ud som Willie Nelson og har derfor anlagt det smukkeste gråspr?ngte Nelson sk?g. Hvis han nu også ryger fed i sin bil og bliver taget for at k?re r?get, så er den helt i skuret.
An interesting study on where spam comes from has a non-surprising conclusion. Email adresses filtered from crawled webpages and newsgroups are the major source of unsolicited email. Whois records seem to be less of an issue. Most whois providers have abuse blocking in place anyway and most registries do not publish zone files to just anyone (zone files are the files listing all the domain names 'taken' within a top level domain). That newsgroups and the web are the main source of data is unsurprising. The connectedness of the web makes crawling a real possibility. In fact, web archives of newsgroups could very well be the main source of newsgroup data also.
A surprising brute force attempt at emailing everything thinkable at some mailserver was also seen. This sounds like a particularly stupid way of searching. The space of just 6 characters wide emails is vast (26^5 ~ 2^28 ~ .25 billion) at every mailserver on the net. This is not like port scanning (i.e. systematically attempting connections on an entire IP range or across all possible services at one address) which is feasible due to the high density of machines on the internet. The space of resolving emailaddresses is very sparse in comparison. But it does tell you that your email needs to be safe against dictionary attacks - like your password - so include special characters if possible.
Another recent criticism of Google is a criticism of the meme changing effects of search found in
The Register. The story on the subversion of the term 'second superpower' (a misappropriaiton of the term seemed to have sucked all meme energy out the original) is largely punctured by the present state of affairs: Almost all references to the term 'second superpower' are now to references to the story in The Register and the newly coined term 'Googlewash'.
Rather than a global conspiracy, the story is evidence of memetics at work. James Moore the original abuser of the term 'second superpower' was able to reach a lot of people with hisuse of the term and that stuck. That's how meaning of terms has been established since words first came about. Public use of words spreads to the listeners, and more so for some speakers than others. Nothing new. Nothing to do with Google - except that Google is sufficiently updated that you can actually follow stories like this on a day to day basis.
However The Register saw further grounds for outcry, claiming that the Googlewash criticism was being censored by Google. This is pure uncontrolled paranoia. A search for Googlewashed return a ton of weblog results, all of them quoting and agreeing to (the incorrect criticism in) the first article in The Register. In fact, the fourth highest ranked link is the article verbatim quoted in another newssource. What happened to the original was most likely some text comparison (maybe through the computation of a hash value representing a page). Since the text appears verbatim as result no 4, the result is filtered. Clearly the chronology of publiciation is an interesting piece of data Google is not using, but there's a way to go from there to censorship.
Since the original Googlewash does not appear immediately in the search results, Andrew Orlowski (the author of both pieces) feels he is hanging on to a juicy bit of censorship ('Clearly, someone at Google doesn't like the word "Googlewashed"' is the soundbite) but clearly he is not. The Google searches for the terms in question are not in any way hindering the propagation of his Google backlash or his new Googlewash term.
The most interesting thing in the later of the two pieces is the allegation that there's a ghost in Google's machine: Somebody is doing something sinister behind the scenes.
This is a very human reaction. Faced with events we cannot explain we immediately interpret these events as 'actions' and equip the actions with an 'actor' responsible for them with some kind of human motivation. The history of ideas oscillates between 'romantic' periods where everything is infused with actors and 'rational' periods with an emphasis on decloaking the actors and redusing actions to mere events. It seems clear to me what we are in one of the romantic periods now.
It is interesting to compare this belief in the sinister behind-the-scene plot with that of The Turk - Wolfgang von Kempelen's chess playing 'machine' which saw the light of day towards the end of the enlightenment. Von Kempelens chess playing automaton was in fact a trick. An actual chess player was hidden within the machine to make the moves, but the illusion caused quite a sensation in it's day. The Enlightenment was very much a period where things were being pulled apart, not put together, and that of course is the basis of the illusion; the onlookers were willing to accept the fact that a machine could in fact play chess, and marveled at this mechanical masterpiece. Von Kempelen's illusion would not work with Andrew Orlowski in the audience. His predisposition is quite the opposite. Somebody is doing something behind the scenes.
Surprise, surprise - a Google backlash is going on. At GavinsBlog.com some really stupid paranoid thinking about Google can be found.
Is the problem, quite simply, that Google works - and that technology that works so well at information gathering is scary? Efficient search clearly has privacy implications, but surely the real concern here is the publication of data, not the fact that the public data is utilized.
Some people are shifting to AllTheWeb in response. That's just great - AllTheWeb recently was purchased by the most evil company in search, Overture - the paid listing company, whose business is to make ads and content indistinguishable.
Gavin makes reference to Google watch a watchdog site. But the criticism there is as inept and largely unrelated to Google, which makes it hard to see why Google should suffer the criticism especially:
Again, webserver tracking is brought up. A legitimate issue but hardly Google specific. The use of search terms in referral URL's means I know what you're looking for when you reach my site - again hardly a Google problem. Supposedly some guy who used to work for NSA works for Google (Google-watch is here employing the fine tactic of guilt by association that I'm quite sure they would like Google and the government to refrain from). Did it occur to the whistle blowers that Google may need engineers with clearance to sell google search to secured government intranets?
The most ridiculuous criticism is that of PageRank as a monopolizing feature harming the openness of the internet. It's not that there isn't a problem it's just that the problem is not the one being discussed.
Here then is the real problem: If you're looking for something you have to read one text first. That's how attention works, not how Google works. That means that some ranking algorithm will apply.
The mode of your search plays an important role then in whether or not the dominance of PageRank is a good thing. If your mode is 'search for something specific' - i.e. the more and more popular 'Google as DNS' mode of search, where you know the content of your location but not the exact address, then it doesn't matter what the ranking algorithm is as long as it works. Then there is what you might call 'auction search' - where you are looking for something which has a large number of equally qualified providers, or to be more precise: A large number of providers you have no information about.
For that kind of search you might say that you want to stratify the usable results into equally qualified strata and then choose randomly among the searches within each stratum.
You could accomplish this by adding a small random number to the PageRank and ordering by this new rank. You would still get a usable overall ranking but it would be 'fair'. It remains to be seen if a real rank difference of, say, 0.10 has qualitative meaning or not. Whether this adds any value for the user of a search is doubtful
Generally speaking attention monopolizes. The complaints against Google are almost always 'supply-side'. The criticism waged at Google is of the 'I have a rank of 7 - and these 50 sites with a better rank are in the way' kind. Well, a rank of 8 will - for most searchers - translate to a more relevant site. And what's more. Having a site with a rank of 7 puts you in a much larger group than the sites with rank 8. So a fair distribution of hits among the rank 7 sites would not necessarily generate a lot of traffic for you. Your contribution would drown out because of an owerwhelming supply of information.
Connie Hedegaard der går i rette med Michael Kristiansen - Anders Foghs medierådgiver - i forbindelse med det meget omtalte TV program om EU topm?det. Programmet er udarbejdet af Connie Hedegaards egen DR nyhedsredaktion og alligevel former samtalen sig som et frontalt angreb på den åbenhed der l?gges for dagen. Vel er det fint at komme 'hele sagen rundt', men her n?rmer forstillelsen sig det absurde.
I?vrigt synes jeg at Anders Fogh's syn på sagen er det eneste rimelige - og at det er beundringsv?rdigt at han har det. Den politiske kritik - om et diplomati i ruiner - er sommeragurker i utide. Ingen kan v?re oprigtigt overraskede over det fremkomne. Den anden kritik som refereredes i Deadline, at det er rigtig oprydning i forvaltningens offentlighed og ikke PR stunts der er brug for, klinger hult.
At se Nicolas Fischer (lufthavsfunktion?rernes formand) juble over et NEJ til en spareplan der ville redde arbejdspladser for hans medlemmer i et SAS i dyb krise er en oplevelse. Tabene i SAS er reelle og dramatiske. Der er ikke tale om en ledelse der ved at stramme skruen vil have profitraten fra 15% til 20%. Det er hele SAS der er i fare.
Det er et trist billede på fagbev?gelse som total ansvarsl?shed, og en totalt manglende evne til at tage sin egen situation alvorligt.
It sounds like a headline from The Onion: Eminem Says If Tupac Were Alive, 'He Would Never Ride With Ja' - but it isn't. It is in fact MTV News reporting on competing rappers dissing each other as if it was a serious news event. And they've been tracking this particular bragging match for some time reporting in earnest on this schoolyard battle about who started it, who has the upper hand, and whether unfair names were called. It is quite simply ridiculous. Could we please have either the good clean fun of 'Rapper's Delight' or the political seriousness of Public Enemy back.
The only interesting thing about it is the emergence of Tupac Shakur as a Gangsta Messiah, with all the rappers involved jockeying for position as the true keepers of Tupac's faith - and dissing the others for not keepin it real when namedropping Tupac.
At my local neighbourhood ethnic minority disco (catering to a largely black (which in Copenhagen means mainly African not American) crowd Tupac is regularly featured as a poster icon advertising the club (alternating with J-Lo). It's not necessarily his music that is being played. He's just in a league of his own as an icon - dying for the cause, as it were.
While I am completely unable to decide what to think of the war in Iraq (the swiftness of the victory makes it much more difficult to be against the invasion (I can't say I really was in the first place (but of course random military action is also scary (but it might just be necessary and at least had some resemblance to a humanitarian invention (even if there is oil to fight over))))), one can at least step back and take a look at what the war and the new active security policies - domestic and foreign - of the american governement. IF the current situation becomes an everyday situation we would have a rather nightmarish situation on our hands.
Here are then the top 5 ways in which the new America could end up resembling Orwell's 1984:
The effects director for The Matrix and it's upcoming sequels - John Gaeta - has written a refreshing 10 best films list for the Matrix coverage in the most recent edition of Wired (at the very end of the article). The refreshing aspect is that the films are not new nor are they all Hollywood productions. A visualist like Gaeta would be expected to draw inspiration from strong visuals, and many of the films were chosen on visuals, but with all his selections you get a sense that it is both the immediate quality and the film function of the imagery that concerns and interests Gaeta. Truly admirable.
The reference de jour for the important issue of the new activist doctrine for American foreign policy seems to be The Mission by Washington Post reporter Dana Priest.
It is important to point out, though, that it is the civil leaders of the Pentagon - not the actual leaders of the military - who are advocating this new activism. In an interview on the Danish TV news show 'Deadline', political scientist Barry Posen made this important point. It is of course important (and very reassuring) that the military itself is not advocating this new political role, so that the application of this kind of forign policy is under firm democratic control.
The use of force instead of diplomacy on the foreign policy front is accompanied by an equally disturbing abuse of the legal system on the home front as the Bush administration is speeding America into darkness.
The abuse of POW status as a way to deny civil rights to prisoners is twisted this time around as a suspect is held without rights as a witness in relation to the 'war against terror'.
It's like the linked story says: Kafkaesque, or just plain old totalitarian, methods in the land of the free. Scary indeed.
As a giveaway of my eager consumption of pop-culture trash, I once again remark that George Lucas could end up having created some important pop trash with the new 'how did the world go evil' Star Wars prequel. The resemblances to the current situation are interesting, even if one should be careful to refer to anything present in the Sar Wars films as 'scary' or 'important'
It is interesting to remember the key point of Paul Kennedy's book "The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers" - namely that the sheer cost of maintaining the military power required to hold on to power is what eventually weakens and destroys powerful nations.
This sound like a theory that could have been put forward in the year 1400 as well, when the role of the king was just the upkeep of his own household and his army, but the point of Kennedy's book is that it remains true even for more modern regimes. When the Soviet regime collapsed it became clear that an unsound proportion of the GDP was pumped into the military, so the next question remains: Will this apply to the United States also?
The recently approved cost of approximately $80bn for the "War against terror" - mainly the fight against Iraq, adds 30%-50% to the budget deficit. The economy is weak already, and it is no entirely clear that America wil be able to foot this bill without dire economic consequences.
Add to that the recent turn in american politics reducing the Secretary of State to a more marginal role and focusing on America's ability to act with force. If the Iraq war cannot be contained in Iraq, of if success in Iraq proves to Bush that massive military action is a quick and effective way to deal with foreign policy then we could be at a world-order toppling economic disaster.
I just bought and am now listening to Elephant with The White Stripes. It seems that every quarter brings another band to the scene, playing indie rock (with punk roots) and billed as 'the next big thing' in music. The bands are rarely English (in contrast to the situation in the 90s), and their music does not sound British either (previous examples would be The Vines and the The Strokes). It is interesting in itself that straightforward pure-genre Rock is so fashionable. The last British invasion was marked by bands with 'unique' sounds, genre-breaking single acts.
These new bands have a more generic sound - not that the music is lacking in personality - it is just unashamedly based on an indie rock/punk rock tradition.
In writing that down it becomes clear that we are now in a situation where the same thing is happening to the hard rock and punk rock of the 70s and early 80s as happened during the 80s to blacks 60s soul: It is no longer, by any stretch, contemporary. The original performers of this music have almost left the music scene. It is simple one more of the great traditional styles of music that you can draw inspiration from.
With that general comment over, 'Elephant' is a great album. Complete with Burt Bacharach covers, and Jack White posing as Robert Plant and Jimmy Page in one on the Led Zep parody 'Ball and Biscuit'. Real rock'n roll!
Det er sv?rt at svare på om det er mest trist at se landsholdet vinde eller at se landsholdet tabe. De seneste to landskampe er fremragende eksempler. Sejren over Rum?nien sk?nt målm?ssigt overv?ldende var en udstilling at et karakterl?st og uskarpt landshold. Var det ikke for en d?dbold eller to og sort rum?nsk uheld havde de aldrig vundet. Det danske hold spillede dårligt og prim?rt så er det altså sv?rt at finde nogen gode enkeltindsatser efter en dansk landskamp. Det er bare 11 spillere uden ansigt som l?ber rundt og lige knap slår til.
I onsdags det samme - men her var modstanderen bare ikke absurd uheldig. De samme to mål lukkedes ind, men der var bare fuldst?ndig udsolgt i angrebsspillet.
Selvf?lgelig ser man helst at de vinder, men der er langt mellem de kampe hvor holdet vinder efter en behjertet, begavet og altså navnlig en karakterfuld indsats.
Mediernes stupiditet under d?kningen af krigen i Irak er betydelig. Svingende mellem krigsliderlighed og teknikbegejstring og så fuldst?ndig ubegrundede omskift til skingre udtalelser om at kampene er gået fuldst?ndig i stå, med efterf?lgende, selvkritikfrie udbrud af 'hvad sagde vi', 'den amerikanske taktik har v?ret forfejlet fra starten' osv. Man skulle tro at det var nok for mediernes indre svinehund at der er noget vaske?gte d?d og ulykke at skrive om på fuld skala, men nej - selv denne dramatiske og tragiske historie skal overdramtiseres.
Her til morgen lykkes det så Berlingske Tidende også at få mediernes egen dagligdags begivenhedskultur blandet oveni med den indholdsl?se overskrift Per Stig M?ller m?der Powell. Der kunne ligeså godt have stået "Thomas Helmig m?der Reimer Bo" eller "Pernille Aalund m?der Dalai Lama". Det er alene en situation med nogen kendte der m?der nogen kendte. Artiklen er ikke meget mere hj?lpsom.