Solipsism Gradient

Rainer Brockerhoff’s blog

Browsing Posts published in January, 2003

On copyright

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Lawrence Lessig writes about his defeat in Eldred v. Ashcroft.

One of my favorite writers, Spider Robinson, wrote a short story on the subject a couple of years ago: “Melancholy Elephants”. You can read it for free, of course. Thanks to Boing Boing for the link.

Spider’s article “Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition”is also worth reading…

A ZDNet UK journalist fell and broke his leg on a skiing slope in the Alps. He tried calling for help on his brand-new Orange SPV (running Microsoft SmartPhone 2002) and… nothing.

Since the SPV uses a typical Microsoft operating system… the SPV takes about a minute or so to boot up.

…The next time I looked at the phone it appeared to have turned itself off – so I tried switching it on again. When it eventually came to life I could not get it to dial – a closer examination revealed the legend ‘Radio off’ displayed very legibly on the SPV’s excellent screen. No amount of menu searching let me find anything that would turn the phone’s radio back on. At this point I remember making a few comments about the dubiousness of Bill Gates’ parentage. I eventually managed to flag down a passing skier who let me use her Nokia phone (which switched on immediately) to call for help.

Imagine jumping from an airplane and waiting while your Microsoft SmartChute boots up! 😆

Thanks to Danny O’Brien’s Oblomovka and Cory Doctorow’s Boing Boing for the link.

Marble tracks

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When I was about 5, I figured out a way to use the wooden blocks my father had made for me to build marble tracks and houses.

The finished house would have a hole on the top; sometimes two smaller houses would be connected by short pieces of curtain rail. Putting a marble in the top hole would make it follow a complicated path inside the house and/or roll on to the other house. Finally, after much clicking, the marble would emerge from a door at ground level.

Today, in a magazine ad, I stumbled upon a modern equivalent of my old marble track: Cuboro. Here’s a picture of a finished setup. And a movie.

Marvelous but expensive: the basic 54-piece set costs about $140 in Germany, and there are about 10 extension sets with comparable prices. The cubes are handcrafted wood.

Update: Boing Boing picked up the link.


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The inimitable James Lileks has unearthed shocking biographical data about… Goofy. Yes, that Goofy:

Did you know that Goofy has a last name?…

…In the fifties, Disney decided to give Goofy a family. He has an irritating red-haired son, and a human wife. It’s unnerving, really – here’s this dog-thing with long dog ears, a dog-snout with a round black nose, but he has human hands and big stupid human feet. And a human wife.

…His last name is “Geef.” Goofy Geef. If it ever comes up in a trivia contest, thank me.

Below that, he relates how he tried to help his brother-in-law to edit a movie on a PC, with software supposedly equivalent to Apple’s iMovie:

The movie-editing software was aimed at the consumer, much in the same way that North Korean artillery is aimed at Seoul…

…It’s like getting into a car that won’t let you cinch your seatbelt until you’ve entered a Driving Template (Highway? City? Mixture of the two? Rush hour? Rural two-lane blacktop?)

…And yes, yes, you could, etc. Point is, I’ve found that with Apple, the future is already installed.

…I’ll say this for his machine, though: if he ever wants to back up that 3.3 GB movie file on floppy disks, he’s all set.

Quote of the day!

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Chuq von Rospach posted the quote-of-the-day:

Cell Phones: the only thing where guys get together, whip it out, and say “See! See! Mine’s smaller!” to each other.


For the record, I don’t have a cellphone.

More on Safari

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John Gruber has a very detailed analysis about the Safari browser, on his Daring Fireball.

Address change

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Dan Gillmor’s eJournal moved to a new address recently.

Cory Doctorow of Boing Boing fame has released his science fiction novel “Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom” in several formats… including a free download. Thanks, Cory!

More information here.

Very highly recommended!

Update: here’s a great review of the novel by Kevin Marks.

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