Charlie's Diary

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Tue, 15 Jun 2004

Apropos nothing

I just issued myself a new PGP (actually GPG) keyset.

In the unlikely event you need to send me confidential email, my fingerprint is:

39EC 8265 03D1 1511 8B51  6419 1244 9F1F 96C7 FAE2

And my full public key is:

Version: GnuPG v1.2.4 (Darwin)


(It's also available from the PGP keyservers.)

I haven't used PGP enough, historically. In these paranoid days it's every citizen's duty to do so ...

posted at: 19:26 | path: /misc | permanent link to this entry

So iTunes Music Store Europe just launched ...

I went and had a look.

79 pence for a DRM-locked track is pretty steep, about equivalent to US $1.20; this is one of the most objectionable things about the whole commercial download biz, they're just trying to soak us for a ludicrous amount of money. A 50-minute CD or equivalent, say 10 tracks, would cost the thick end of £8.00, or about US $14.00, and for what? Bandwidth? (Probably only a tenth of the cover price -- or less -- goes to the performers. And if you can find a telco who'll charge you even a tenth of that for half a gig of bandwidth, you're a mug. Basically it's solid profit, all the way to the stock ticker.)

I suppose there's always Hymn if, like me, you go through new Macs so fast that your three-copies licence would be toast before you can blink. That would soften the blow. And being able to buy individual tracks rather than having to pony up for an entire CD of forgettable padding is a minor improvement. But ...

What I really didn't like about the iTunes music store is quite simply the fact that if this was a real store three quarters of the shelves would be empty. The first six bands I searched for weren't available. Now, I'll freely admit that my musical taste is a little recherche, but c'mon ... no Nitzer Ebb? Or DAF? Or Danielle Dax (or Lemon Kittens) for that matter? Where are the Screaming Blue Messiahs when we need them? The Jesus and Mary Chain can't save you. Ministry -- a really big name band by these standards -- was represented by the two most recent of their major releases, and a "best of" album. What the iTunes store seems to excel at is Top-40 pabulum. I can do much better than that by just walking up the road to my local second-hand record store, never mind the huge Virgin Megastore (and rival HMV superstore) a mile away. And y'know something? I might run across something interesting by accident at the record stores. Hell, I can do better than this online by ordering CD's from Amazon.

Online music shopping via iTunes might work one of these days, but right now as far as I can see it's a dead loss. Overpriced tracks encumbered by a stupidly restrictive licence are bad enough, but the real killer is the corporatist monoculture that seeks to maximize profits by minimizing the range of options on offer.

[Discuss mp3]

posted at: 16:26 | path: /misc | permanent link to this entry

Excuse of the week
It's pretty pathetic, I know, but not much is happening right now that makes me want to blow off steam in my blog. I'm doing my best to stand by my promise (to myself) to swear off politics in the interests of lowering my blood pressure. I've had a bout of RSI in both hands so I've been trying to keep the keyboarding down. Feorag's in Berlin for two weeks -- this is probably our longest time apart for several years -- and I'm taking advantage of the opportunity to do some decorating and interior redesign. Or maybe spring cleaning.

I'm up to about twelve large waste sacks so far, I'm having heavy duty shelves installed in one closet to take a load of stuff that needs sorting, and I've just swapped the dining table (which was doing duty as a desk in my study) for the weird 70's scandinavian desk (which was supporting kipple in the living room). Hopefully that'll fix the wrist pains; they almost always hit me when I've been doing something silly posture-wise: usually when I've been sitting in a broken chair, but a desk at the wrong height would probably set it off, too.

Tomorrow it's time to get a friend in to strip the bedroom wallpaper and re-paint it while I move stuff from the living room into the newly-shelved closet and start thinking about installing another three metres of bookcases. You get the picture.

Obligatory plug: I've just finished reading Maul by Tricia Sullivan. I don't have the stamina to write a review right now; let's just say I agree with David Kennedy's summary: it's a lot of fun.

[Discuss books]

posted at: 14:12 | path: /excuses | permanent link to this entry


Is SF About to Go Blind? -- Popular Science article by Greg Mone
Unwirer -- an experiment in weblog mediated collaborative fiction
Inside the MIT Media Lab -- what it's like to spend a a day wandering around the Media Lab
"Nothing like this will be built again" -- inside a nuclear reactor complex

Quick links:

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Buy my books: (FAQ)

Missile Gap
Via Subterranean Press (US HC -- due Jan, 2007)

The Jennifer Morgue
Via Golden Gryphon (US HC -- due Nov, 2006)

Via (US HC -- due June 30, 2006)

The Clan Corporate
Via (US HC -- out now)

Via (US HC)
Via (US PB -- due June 27, 2006)
Via (UK HC)
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Free download

The Hidden Family
Via (US HC)
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The Family Trade
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Iron Sunrise
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The Atrocity Archives
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Singularity Sky
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Some webby stuff I'm reading:

Engadget ]
Gizmodo ]
The Memory Hole ]
Boing!Boing! ]
Futurismic ]
Walter Jon Williams ]
Making Light (TNH) ]
Crooked Timber ]
Junius (Chris Bertram) ]
Baghdad Burning (Riverbend) ]
Bruce Sterling ]
Ian McDonald ]
Amygdala (Gary Farber) ]
Cyborg Democracy ]
Body and Soul (Jeanne d'Arc)  ]
Atrios ]
The Sideshow (Avedon Carol) ]
This Modern World (Tom Tomorrow) ]
Jesus's General ]
Mick Farren ]
Early days of a Better Nation (Ken MacLeod) ]
Respectful of Otters (Rivka) ]
Tangent Online ]
Grouse Today ]
Hacktivismo ]
Terra Nova ]
Whatever (John Scalzi) ]
Justine Larbalestier ]
Yankee Fog ]
The Law west of Ealing Broadway ]
Cough the Lot ]
The Yorkshire Ranter ]
Newshog ]
Kung Fu Monkey ]
S1ngularity ]
Pagan Prattle ]
Gwyneth Jones ]
Calpundit ]
Lenin's Tomb ]
Progressive Gold ]
Kathryn Cramer ]
Halfway down the Danube ]
Fistful of Euros ]
Orcinus ]
Shrillblog ]
Steve Gilliard ]
Frankenstein Journal (Chris Lawson) ]
The Panda's Thumb ]
Martin Wisse ]
Kuro5hin ]
Advogato ]
Talking Points Memo ]
The Register ]
Cryptome ]
Juan Cole: Informed comment ]
Global Guerillas (John Robb) ]
Shadow of the Hegemon (Demosthenes) ]
Simon Bisson's Journal ]
Max Sawicky's weblog ]
Guy Kewney's mobile campaign ]
Hitherby Dragons ]
Counterspin Central ]
MetaFilter ]
NTKnow ]
Encyclopaedia Astronautica ]
Fafblog ]
BBC News (Scotland) ]
Pravda ]
Meerkat open wire service ]
Warren Ellis ]
Brad DeLong ]
Hullabaloo (Digby) ]
Jeff Vail ]
The Whiskey Bar (Billmon) ]
Groupthink Central (Yuval Rubinstein) ]
Unmedia (Aziz Poonawalla) ]
Rebecca's Pocket (Rebecca Blood) ]

Older stuff:

June 2006
May 2006
April 2006
March 2006
February 2006
January 2006
December 2005
November 2005
October 2005
September 2005
August 2005
July 2005
June 2005
May 2005
April 2005
March 2005
February 2005
January 2005
December 2004
November 2004
October 2004
September 2004
August 2004
July 2004
June 2004
May 2004
April 2004
March 2004
February 2004
January 2004
December 2003
November 2003
October 2003
September 2003
August 2003
July 2003
June 2003
May 2003
April 2003
March 2003
February 2003
January 2003
December 2002
November 2002
October 2002
September 2002
August 2002
July 2002
June 2002
May 2002
April 2002
March 2002
(I screwed the pooch in respect of the blosxom entry datestamps on March 28th, 2002, so everything before then shows up as being from the same time)

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