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February 21, 2006

OT: Hoot! [8:35 pm]

World’s largest Windows error message [with pics]

We went down to New York for the long weekend. Despite the 16-degree weather, we walked down to Times Square - all the bright lights lured us the ten blocks from our hotel. When we got there, we stood like, well, tourists, gaping at all the electronic billboards. And then, across the square, I saw it: the world’s largest Windows error message - on a two-story high e-billboard (I guess everything really is bigger in New York). It was the only billboard in the entire square with absolutely no movement - since the PC running it had obviously frozen.

Later - related Biggest blue screen I have ever seen

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OT: I’ll Deny It [4:10 pm]

Sorry, I do have my limits. At least he’s not chairing the Judiciary Committee, but, really! Hatch defends Bush’s domestic surveillance [pdf]

“It’s about bringing effective changes and establishing principles of democracy,” Hatch said following his speech. “If we can be successful (in Iraq), that will put pressure on all of the Arab states. It will be a rise in freedom and a demand for liberty that has never existed in some of those states.

“And, more importantly, we’ve stopped a mass murderer in Saddam Hussein. Nobody denies that he was supporting al-Qaida.” [Ed: emphasis added]

In a clear attack on Democrats, Hatch added, “Well, I shouldn’t say nobody. Nobody with brains.”

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Another Stab At Google Coming? [10:41 am]

Google may have to fight second subpoena

If the U.S. Justice Department is successful in obtaining a week’s worth of search terms from Google, which it demanded as part of an attempt to defend a 1998 Internet pornography law, a second round of subpoenas is shaping up to be far more intrusive.

The American Civil Liberties Union warned Friday that if the first subpoena is granted–giving the government’s expert the information to use to evaluate the effectiveness of porn filters–the ACLU’s legal assault on the same antipornography law will require it to target Google as well.

“If the government utilizes the information in any manner, we’re very likely going to need to do follow-up discovery,” ACLU attorney Aden Fine said.

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WaPo’s Third on China [9:46 am]

Bloggers Who Pursue Change Confront Fear And Mistrust

[pdf]

When Zhao Jing moved his blog to Microsoft’s popular MSN Spaces site last summer, some users worried the Chinese government would block the entire service. The censors had blacklisted the last site where the young journalist had posted his spirited political essays, and he seemed unwilling to tone down his writing at the new address.

But Zhao, better known by the pen name Anti, told fellow bloggers not to worry. If the government objected to his blog, he predicted, Microsoft would “sell me out” and delete it rather than risk being blocked from computer screens across China.

He was right. Four and a half months after he began posting essays challenging the Communist Party’s taboo against discussing politics, Zhao published an item protesting the purge of a popular newspaper’s top editors. Officials called Microsoft to complain, and Microsoft quickly erased his blog.

[...] The story of Zhao’s blog — and the ambivalence it met in cyberspace — demonstrates that those trying to use the Internet to foster political change in China must contend not only with the censors but also with the apathy, fear and mistrust of their fellow citizens. The case also highlights the competing ethical and commercial pressures on companies seeking to profit from the Internet in China, including U.S. firms such as Microsoft, Yahoo and Google.

See also Free Software Takes Users Around Filters; also Chinese Journalists Beat Censorship With Web

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Promoting “Free” Content [7:07 am]

Ready to catch the next wave [pdf]

Pummeled by an enormously successful holiday media and publicity blitz, terrestrial radio this week begins a multi-pronged marketing counteroffensive that it hopes will bring its overhead competitors back down to earth, preferably in one huge crash.

Cooperating in unprecedented ways, terrestrial radio broadcasters are officially unveiling a significant tech innovation of their own and a high profile nationwide campaign to trumpet it. One campaign that began Monday in Los Angeles and more than two-dozen other big cities heralds terrestrial’s long-awaited entrance into the digital age.

[...] Radio’s answer to that long-simmering question is HD digital radio, the industry’s next-generation product that can best compete with satellite’s sound quality and dizzying programming options. In the works for more than a decade, digital radio will enable broadcasters to significantly upgrade their signal — AM will sound like FM, which in turn will sound like a CD, they say.

Further, the compressed digital signal will allow for multicasting, which means radio stations will be able to divide their dial spot into anywhere from two to four channels. For instance, Clear Channel Radio’s KBIG-FM will continue to air an adult contemporary format at 104.3, but now is also playing round-the-clock disco hits on its side channel, 104.3-2.

Nationwide, only about 700 stations are broadcasting in digital and just about 260 of those stations are or will soon be multicasting, including about a dozen in Los Angeles. Industry officials say both those national figures are expected to more than double within the next year.

[...] For their part, XM and Sirius Satellite Radio regard terrestrial’s digital launch and accompanying marketing as more circling of the wagons. Driven by the holidays and a publicity windfall surrounding Stern’s move to Sirius, both companies combined to score nearly 2 million new paid subscribers in the last quarter of 2005.

The huge gains came at a heavy cost — both companies reported a combined quarterly loss of roughly $600 million as they continued to shell out big dollars for publicity and their marquee talent. Meanwhile, a high-ranking XM official resigned from the company’s board earlier this month and warned of a possible financial “crisis.”

Despite the financial hemorrhaging, the two companies contend subscribers will reverse the bleeding, and indeed have made bold predictions for their future — Sirius says it will double subscribers to 6 million by the end of this year; XM says it will have 20 million by 2010.

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