This sounds like a good way to help people in Afghanistan: pens. (Seriously)
And I have to make note of an especially nice little package from someone, containing my Very Own Copies of two of my favorites movies: Cats Don't Dance and Donnie Darko. If you've not seen both, I'd encourage you to give them a try. CDD is an exceptional animated feature, with excellent comic timing, a sharp script, and characters with actual depth; DD, on the other paw, is an awkward one to describe well - consider it a mystery of sorts, with no small amount of wry cynicism. It's not a straightforward movie by any means. Performances throughout sparkle, from the lead characters, through to the more peripheral, including a particularly (deliberately, I should note) obnoxious Patrick Swayze.
According to this Wired article, Apple wants to locate "everything from out-of-print singles in music company vaults to songs that have never been pressed onto a CD and even recordings from the estates of deceased artists." Interesting that "labels have less than a third of the music in their vaults available for sale because it's too expensive to distribute such CDs to stores", "95 percent of the vast Motown catalog is still unavailable to the public", and that Motown "elected to put 16 albums like Moods of Marvin Gaye -- which had been available overseas but not in the United States -- in the music store. Six albums had never been on CD and 23 albums had been printed on CD at one time, but were now out of print". You'd think the labels would be stumbling over each other to sign up for electronic distribution, given the need only to supply a master of some kind, and then enjoy the royalties, without the need for variously imposing (sometimes even on the same online store) levels of DRM getting in the way. Still, at least the indies seem to be taking up the opportunity well - and that's the aspect of the iTMS and friends which appeals to me most, letting people know about a far greater diversity of music than they might otherwise have had exposure to. Even if you don't buy anything, online stores can be fun to simply nose through and enjoy clips.
I was saddened to read of the death of Ritsuko Okazaki, on May 5th; anime fen may recognise her name from the opening themes for Fruits Basket and Princess Tutu, and the ending for Mahou Tsukai Tai. Such a beautiful voice..
Firewireless is apparently finally on the way, albeit known by the rather less catchy monicker of "Wireless Firewire", which.. doesn't quite have the same ring, but maybe that's just me. Still, it should be interesting to see what happens, once it's commercially deployed.
Coolness! DSL activation's apparently due for next Thursday afternoon.
Straus Dairies just inaugurated their first biomass electric generator, powered by the 270 cows on the farm, yielding 75kW, saving some $5-6,000 per month. And their milk is superb, too, found in places like Whole Foods Market; organic, and if I recall correctly, unpasteurised, at least in my case. Or bottle. (Did you know each cow produces some 120lb of manure per day? That's more than even Rumsfeld and Bush combined!) I wonder if irradiation would be a viable alternative, for milk? Or UV treatment, as is commonplace in some water supplies?
Interesting.. Kerry's saying he'd want McCain for defense secretary, though McCain's giving a clear "no".
Meanwhile, Sony finally unveiled their PSP hand-held, somewhat reminiscent of the late Atari Lynx, albeit with a rather niftier spec. ^_^ 480x272 4.3" 16:9 display, 32MB, 802.11b, USB2, IrDA, 6cm UMD discs holding 1.8GB, audio support for MPEG-4 (presumably meaning AAC), ATRAC3+, and PCM, and video in MPEG-4 and Caption PNG. No word on the processor or GPU (if any), but I dare say details will follow in time. Maybe tursi knows?
PlayFair returns as the HYMN project - Hear Your Music aNywhere. It's an app to remove the iTMS restrictions, leaving you with a vanilla AAC file, playable on any AAC-savvy software - handy for users of OSs other than OS X and Windows, the only two for which iTunes is available. Some reports suggest it's not always successful in locating the file's key, so it probably shouldn't be viewed as an absolute solution.
And finally, please enjoy a very cute red panda. ^_^