Should iPods carry health warnings?

An Australian head teacher has banned pupils from bringing their iPods into school, because they encourage social isolation. “People were not tuning into other people because they’re tuned into themselves,” she told the Sydney Morning Herald.

As we noted this week, all kinds of fascinating social possibilities elude the iPodder. Music is a social activity, but the children are only responding to corporate advertising that encourages solipsism – “to shield ourselves,” as Oscar Wilde put it, ironically, “from the sordid perils of actual existence”.

But there are other solitary pleasures that are bad for us, and nanny governments rarely miss the opportunity to scold us about them.

The EU demands that cigarette manufacturers display excruciatingly personal warnings.

In Brazil, the consequences of smoking are dramatically illustrated, as we see here –

Warning: Fumar Causa Impotencia Sexual

But would this couple even have got as far as the boudoir, if they’d been iPod users? They’d have looked right past each other, and gone home to blog about their near miss, alone.
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'We must now embrace the tele-phone' – dotcom pundit

A year ago Intel demonstrated a small contraption that allows people to talk to each other – even if they’re not in the same room, without using wires or string. At the time we saw no possible use for such a device. Dogs, as we know, love fetching sticks – but this seemed to be much too fragile for robust outdoor activity. Intel called this the portable ‘tele-phone’.

But now we must mend our ways, shift our gears, and adjust our paradigms once again – for the concept has received a powerful endorsement from one of the era’s most lauded “thinkers”.
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Doonesbury savages Pepperland's copyright utopians

As anyone involved with the original Apple Newton project knows only too well, when Garry Trudeau’s satirical eye engages a target, there’s only one winner. The Doonesbury cartoonist has a gift for holding up a mirror to bad ideas so they collapse under the weight of their own absurdities. This week[*] Trudeau has turned his attention to the “Creative Commons” project.

Beginning with Monday’s comic, radio interviewer Mark questions aging rock star Jim Thudpucker about “free music”. Thudpucker returns with a barrage of techno utopian babble that suggests he’s been inhaling the heady vapors of the blogosphere.

“There are no rock stars any more!” insists Thudpucker. “With file sharing, we’re being liberated from the hierarchical tyranny of record sales… Careers henceforth will be concert-driven, fragmented, and small!”

“And fan bases?” asks Mark.

“Will be kept in Palm Pilots!” replies the blog-brained Thudpucker.
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Google to Wall St: our CFO couldn't make it. So meet the Chef

The next time Google invites Wall Street analysts to a six hour financial presentation, it may as well direct them to a point in the middle of the San Francisco Bay. Microsoft already has a wonderful MapPoint “drowning service” that will show them precisely how to get there.

That surely was the unspoken sentiment behind Google’s first ever analyst meeting in Mountain View this week, which left Wall Street’s finest perplexed. CFO George Reyes gave a brief introduction, took a couple of questions, but didn’t give a presentation, as is the norm.

Instead Charlie Ayers, former Grateful Dead chef, described how he’d prepare a delicious lunch of grilled pork tenderloin.

Executives gave nothing away.

The slideshow can be found here, although we’ve distilled some of the essential banality of the day by capturing some screenshots, such as this one:

Google financial analyst day - Slide 1
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Verity Stob – programming's funniest memoir

As anyone who’s ever done it professionally knows, programming computers isn’t as glamorous as they make out in the movies. Take for example, Independence Day, where the hero lashes together a program in 30 minutes and conjures up a piece of code that saves the world. Have you ever seen anyone do in that real life? And did you bill them for the full hour?

Or take another glamorous example of the mercurial codesmith-as-shamen. In Po Bronson’s Nudist On The Late Shift – one of many books of the era that tried to persuade us work was simply another form of leisure, the eponymous hero is a programmer so dedicated to his task that he forgets to put his clothes on. And he’s so vital to the organization, no one minds.

But if this was really happening – what would you think? You’d ask yourself, what would drive a man to toil over a computer, in a deserted building, stark naked? Just what would possess a man to lose his dignity like that? The lonely soul must have been tearing his heart out. About, what exactly?
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All at sea, Microsoft axes flying car project

It’s official: Microsoft’s flying car project is in peril, the company’s US PR agency Waggener Edstrom told us today. The mysterious vehicle that’s thrilled so many readers this week now faces the axe.

The good news is that we finally have official confirmation of these strange sightings of amphibious craft making sometimes very slow, and sometimes incredibly quick, but always unplanned detours across Europe, thanks to MapPoint or Autoroute.

But the bad news is that the fun might end soon. No longer will Norwegians, Latvians and Estonians be able to press the web equivalent of Asteroids’ “hyperspace” button and find themselves in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, England. There are no surface-effect vehicles, modeled after Alexeev’Caspian Sea Ekranoplan, being tested in the Baltic.

Or at least, not by Microsoft. This is what we were told.
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Harvard Man in lesbian mix-up wants satire clearly labeled

Draq queen causes Podcast confusion

The two fathers of ‘podcasting’ have called for jokes and satirical broadcasts to be clearly labelled as such, after they were bamboozled by a comic female impersonator.

Two “bloggers” – former MTV video jockey Adam Curry and former software developer Dave Winer cooked up the idea of enclosing audio files in some XML code so they could be pulled off the web onto a portable device – a nifty, if not terrible original idea. With real,grassroots webcasting itself in mortal danger, its seems an odd distraction. The Webcaster Alliance is locked in epic battle with the RIAA over the right to distribute art, but instead of supporting them, these bloggers have other priorities, and top of the list is the right to be able to burp at home, and then broadcast it over the fabled Interweb. Unscripted burps are particularly welcome.

And so not surpringly, people have taken the idea and run with it, making their own burpy broadcasts in their kitchens, and shoving them up on the web. For a week on their own burpy ‘show’, Curry and Winer rebroadcast the adventures of a podcaster they admired, one Yeast Radio’s Madge Weinstein.
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