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Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Record companies win £41m damages

Online retailer CD-Wow must pay £41m to British record companies after breaking a deal to stop selling illegally imported cheap albums in the UK.

The High Court in London ruled in March that the site's owners, Music Trading Online, were "in substantial breach" of a 2004 agreement to stop importing CDs.

It has now ordered Hong Kong-based CD-Wow to pay £37m plus interest to the British Phonographic Industry (BPI).

In a statement, CD-Wow said the British courts had set a "dangerous precedent".

"I fear what is happening is an attempt to use the combined brute force of the record industry to force the retailers and, in turn, our clients, to keep lining the pockets of the fat cat executives," said Mr Wesslen.

"It shouldn't matter whether we are buying from an official distributor in the UK, Europe or the Far East, what is important is that we are buying legitimate products from the record companies themselves."

Once again the British Consumer loses out to anti-competitive pricing by the big legal muscles of Industry.


Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Paris Hilton backs online pardon appeal

Celebrity heiress Paris Hilton is backing an online petition seeking a pardon of her 45-day prison sentence because she enlivens "mundane" lives.

The petition to California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger also claims she was being used as a scapegoat to highlight the dangers of drink-driving.

In a message on a MySpace website, Ms Hilton apparently endorsed the online appeal, saying: "My friend Joshua started his petition, please help and sihn it (sic). I LOVE YOU ALL!!!!!"

The petition paints Ms Hilton as a role model who "provides hope for young people all over the US and the world. She provides beauty and excitement to (most of) our otherwise mundane lives".

Although the message allegedly posted by Ms Hilton is now gone, a website is still going strong (selling t-shirts) and urging people to sign an iPetition.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Paris Hilton heading to jail

I'm sure like many people who aren't heiresses to squillion-dollar fortunes I'm not alone in sniggering at the thought of Paris Hilton going to jail.

She will spend 45 days in a quaint little Los Angeles County Sherrif Department jail called, Century Regional Detention Center. Hilton will swap her life of hedonism for one of spartan tedium, living in a 12-by-8 feet cell with a toilet, sink and a window 6 inches wide.

She will be seperated from the general population for her own safety so its unlikely she will become anyone's 'bitch' as happens with many others.

Hilton must go to jail by June 5 and she will not be allowed any work release, furloughs, use of an alternative jail or electronic monitoring in lieu of jail, Superior Court Judge Michael T. Sauer ruled after a hearing.

The judge, saying "there's no doubt she knew her license had been suspended," ruled that she was in violation of the terms of her probation in an alcohol-related reckless driving case.

Inmates get three low-sodium meals a day, with dinner the only hot meal. Beef and pork aren't permitted—"it's all poultry-based," said Capt. Alice Scott, who oversees the 2,200-inmate facility she describes as "a very nice place."

I'm sure this will be a comfort to her mother. When a reporter asked what she thought of the judge's decision, a visibly angry Kathy Hilton responded: "What do you think? This is pathetic and disgusting, a waste of taxpayer money with all this nonsense. This is a joke."

City attorney spokesman Nick Velasquez, disagreed however and said late Friday that the judge's ruling "sends a clear message that in the city of Los Angeles, no one is above the law."

"She violated the law and appropriate action was taken," he said.

The spammers are already busy filling up her myspace page with comments in anticipation of the sudden surge in Paris Hilton related traffic.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Dear Dr. Laura - should I smite my neighbour?

This letter has been going around the internet for several years now, since around the year 2000, but it still makes me laugh every time I read it.

Background: Dr. Laura Schlessinger is a US radio personality. Recently, she said that as an observant Orthodox Jew, homosexuality is an abomination according to Leviticus 18:22 & cannot be condoned under any circumstances. The following is an open letter to Dr. Laura, purportedly penned by a US resident, J. Kent Ashcraft, which was posted on the Internet:

Dear Dr. Laura,

Thank you for doing so much to educate people regarding God’s Law. I have learned a great deal from your show, and I try to share that knowledge with as many people as I can. When someone tries to defend the homosexual lifestyle, for example, I simply remind him that Leviticus 18:22 clearly states it to be an abomination. End of debate.

I do need some advice from you, however, regarding some of the specific laws and how to best follow them.

a) When I burn a bull on the altar as a sacrifice, I know it creates a pleasing odor for the Lord (Lev 1:9). The problem is my neighbors. They claim the odor is not pleasing to them. Should I smite them?

b) I would like to sell my daughter into slavery, as sanctioned in Exodus 21:7. In this day and age, what do you think would be a fair price for her?

c) I know that I am allowed no contact with a woman while she is in her period of menstrual uncleanliness (Lev 15:19-24). The problem is, how do I tell? I have tried asking, but most women take offense.

d) Lev. 25:44 states that I may indeed possess slaves, both male and female, provided they are purchased from neighboring nations. A friend of mine claims that this applies to Mexicans, but not Canadians. Can you clarify? Why can’t I own Canadians?

e) I have a neighbor who insists on working on the Sabbath. Exodus 35:2 clearly states he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated to kill him myself?

f) A friend of mine feels that even though eating shellfish is an Abomination (Lev 11:10), it is a lesser abomination than homosexuality. I don’t agree. Can you settle this?

g) Lev 21:20 states that I may not approach the altar of God if I have a defect in my sight. I have to admit that I wear reading glasses. Does my vision have to be 20/20, or is there some wiggle room here?

h) Most of my male friends get their hair trimmed, including the hair around their temples, even though this is expressly forbidden by Lev 19:27. How should they die?

i) I know from Lev 11:6-8 that touching the skin of a dead pig makes me unclean, but may I still play football if I wear gloves?

j) My uncle has a farm. He violates Lev 19:19 by planting two different crops in the same field, as does his wife by wearing garments made of two different kinds of thread (cotton/polyester blend). He also tends to curse and blaspheme a lot. Is it really necessary that we go to all the trouble of getting the whole town together to stone them? (Lev 24:10-16) Couldn’t we just burn them to death at a private family affair like we do with people who sleep with their in-laws? (Lev. 20:14)

I know you have studied these things extensively, so I am confident you can help.

Thank you again for reminding us that God’s word is eternal and unchanging.

Your devoted disciple and adoring fan.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

New AACS cracks cannot be revoked, says hacker

Only a few days after Corel issued a WinDVD update to close the hole opened by AACS hackers, the folks at the Doom9 forums sent word that they have found yet another way around the copy protection for high definition discs.

This time, the method involved the Xbox 360's HD DVD add-on drive to capture the "Volume Unique Keys" as they were being read by the drive itself. Rather than just point out the crack, we're going to take a closer look at how this crack was accomplished, because one of the hackers involved in the crack says that it's more or less unstoppable.

The latest attack vector bypasses the encryption performed by the Device Keys—the same keys that were revoked by the WinDVD update—and the so-called "Host Private Key," which as yet has not been found. This was accomplished by de-soldering the HD DVD drive's firmware chip, reading its contents, and then patching it. Once that was done, the firmware was soldered back onto the drive.

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How to make pretty comments on Reddit

Don't shoot the messenger, Reddit people. I tried to submit the Help page directly to Reddit but instead got taken to a year old entry so I've added this little blog entry so I can submit the topic to Reddit.

The help page on Reddit for commenting can be found here.

Yes, yes, yes, I could've read the instructions and trawled through the Help section but really, who has the time or inclination unless it is a necessity, right?

Without further ado, here is how to format comments in so you can use italics, bold, quote and my own special reason for hunting the information down, properly formatted hyperlinks.