Telemarketers to stop telemarketing?

The National Do Not Call Registry opened today, and was promptly Slashdotted. But once things settle down, you’ll be able to register your phone number to recieve no telemarketting phone calls (save for politicians and charities) for five years, starting October 1. And if you live west of the Mississippi, you don’t even have to wait for the web site to start working again — just dial the number on this page from the phone number you wish to protect, and unlike the web registration, you won’t have to provide an e-mail address. I just did it, and it’s fantastically easy.

RIAA plays hardball.

So the RIAA is going to sue individuals who upload copyrighted music to the net. Frankly, I think this is a great thing, despite its sheer boneheadedness. Why? Because it will spawn the creation and use of encrypted p2p apps. And maybe (help me out, Lazy Web), it will result in a p2p app that:

1. Allows you to flag a work as “copyrighted” or “non-copyrighted” in the metadata.

2. Has a good evaluation/recommendation engine.

If those two bits were in place, one could search for highly-rated, non-copyrighted music, and share with impunity. Plus, it would introduce thousands to the good, non-corporatized stuff, making it easier to find and distribute. The problem with Gnutella, Kazaa, etc. is that it’s based on the idea that we’re passive consumers of music, instead of encouraging production. Let a thousand flowers bloom.

Introducing the Public Domain Enhancement Act

Today U.S. representatives Zoe Lofgren and John Doolittle introduced the Public Domain Enhancement Act to Congress. The legislation would require copyright owners to pay a very small fee (say, $1) upon a copyright’s 50th “birthday” in order for the copyright to continue. Copyrighted works for which the fee isn’t paid will pass into the public domain, thus freeing works which have been abandoned by the owners of their copyrights. Sounds like a good idea to me. You can read the text of the bill itself here. Also relevant is the Reclaim the Public Domain petition, which outlines some very good reasons to support this bit of friendly legislation.

Finding Summer Reading

A nice little animated author recommendation engine culled from a Metafilter thread.

If you like Neal Stephenson, for example, you might also like these authors.

New PDA Phone from Palm

Handspring, which was recently purchased by Palm, has announced the new Treo 600, a completely redesigned PDA/Phone running Palm OS 5, a QWERTY keyboard for easy text entry, an integrated digital camera, SD expansion, and other cool features. Price and release date are unknown, but expect to see them in stores by mid-July for around $500.

Little-known Neal Stephenson short story

When looking for information on Quicksilver, I came across this archive of Stephenson’s work, including a great short story I’d never heard of: Jipi and the Paranoid Chip.

“Havoc has already been in touch with the entrepreneur in the Baksheesh-Free Zone who started this whole thing. He was able to trace the serial number that was sifted out of the debris of that mall. It was one of four dozen car alarm systems that were assembled by a particular jobber based in Libya, who, it turns out, received an inordinately large drop-shipment of high explosive—Cold War Semtex, way past its expiration date.”

Interview with a Giant

Music isn’t our usual fare here on the front page, but is running a great interview with John “One of the guys from They Might Be Giants” Linnell. They talk about the new TMBG documentary Gigantic, action figures, and theme songs. And if you’re into music, be sure to check out “The Ever Recurring Music Topic” in the Geek Pastimes section of Shop Talk, our discussion area.

Watch TV while putting on makeup

PCWorld reports that Philips has announced a new PC or TV display that can be incorporated into a mirror. This would allow you to have a portion of the mirror become a digital display while you are using the rest of the mirror for something else.

The technology will first be marketed to hotels. Philips doesn’t plan on marketing to home customers until around 2005. Fortunately, you could make your own by putting an LCD display behind a 2-way mirror.