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November 2005
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January 2006

Essential vocabulary

CORY DOCTOROW USES AN OP-ED in The Financial Times to explain why those earning a degree in multimedia development need to know how a rootkit works. Doctorow writes:

This past Hallowe'en, Sony BMG compact discs were revealed to carry a digital rights management technology built on a "rootkit", an illicit way to rewrite Windows so it hides the software's existence from the user. DRM technologies are systems for restricting the way that people who lawfully acquire works can use them. If you have ever been unable to print a PDF, watch a DVD you bought abroad or put a song from the iTunes Music Store on a non-Apple MP3 player, that is because of DRM.

Rootkits are vicious: list your files, they do not show up. Check running programs and they are not there. Except they are. Virus writers could--and did--exploit the rootkit's hiding capability to compromise personal computers. What is more, it soon became evident that Sony BMG's rootkit was spying on its users' deeds and sending an account of them to the company's servers. Sony BMG denied this, then changed its story and said it did get the messages but it ignored them, so there was no privacy issue. Thomas Hesse, president of global digital business, merely shrugged: "Most people, I think, don't even know what a rootkit is, so why should they care about it?"

Cory Doctorow -- "Vaudeville offers a music lesson for Sony BMG" in the 12 Dec 06 edition of FT.


The Digital Problem

WATCH ANY BUSLOAD of tourists snapping pictures and you will see most of them watching what they are doing and not what they are capturing. And therein lies the problem with digital photography, according to one of Britain's most famous photographers.

Terry O'Neill, 67, thinks digital photos are ruinig photography. "The eye and feel of the stills photographer are gone.

In February 2006, more than 100 of O'Neill's portraitd will go on sale in the Chris Beetles gallery in Mayfair, including one of David Bowie. Mark me down for a London trip in January.

Richard Brooks (arts editor) -- "Camera legend O'Neill lashes dismal digital" in The Sunday Times, December 11, 2005.

Boring Talking Heads

SOMETHING WE TEACH in Tipperary Institute is that talking head videos don't work well on websites. As Jakob Nielsen explains, eyetracking data show that users are easily distracted when watching video on websites, especially when the video shows a talking head and is optimized for broadcast rather than online viewing.

Jakob Nielsen -- "Talking Head Video is Boring Online" on Alertbox.