2009 — 10 July: Friday

Alas, I've had to disappoint my Big Bro. There's an old saw (possibly a French proverb — I'm too tired to go a-Googling tonight) along the lines of "any fool can ask a question that the wisest man cannot answer". He'd asked me how to protect some of his precious aircraft images if he puts them on a DVD to accompany some museum book he's helping to produce. So, naturally, I asked three of my savvy chums, though I already fully expected the answer to be "simply can't be done". And that turned out to be the informed consensus.

So I had to tell him "About the best you could do is impose draconian licence terms before parting with the material. You simply cannot protect it once it's lifted off the DVD (or whatever) in any shape or form. This has been Hollywood's and Intel's problem and, trust me, they have spent many many millions of dollars on schemes that have all been cracked within a month or so max. Even hdcp has been cracked, though I grant you it was trickier."

I'm afraid Big Bro's already low opinion of the IT industry is going to sink even lower, but I have in reserve the small matter of a couple of recent fly-by-wire Airbus crashes1 if he gets too uppity. Failing that, I can always hold hostage his model Spitfire from last August when he calls in to collect it in a week or so from now.

It's 01:11 already. Well past time for tonight's picture of Christa, which I took down in Cornwall on our delayed honeymoon in September 1975:

Christa in Cornwall, September 1975

Goodness me, how very much I miss that woman! G'night.

Bright and shiny...

... new day, on which BBC Radio 3 just introduced me to the verb "invocating" which, from the context — invocating Pan — I suppose I can decode correctly. Never heard that one before, though. It's 09:39 and I'm on cuppa #2 already. Gotta keep that caffeine level up.

Also new, to me: "metonymic historiography" (I was pleased to see I have a book by one of the "serious scholars in women's studies"); "divine misogyny" (I have two books by this pair); and, obviously, yet another new meaning of "free-speech rights". This last is curiously akin to the Lords' defeat I mentioned yesterday. The world gets daily stranger. How about "thrill-seeking lycanthropic flagellants", for example? Now there's an unlikely phrase for the search engines — I hope!

Here's an amusing correlation, too: "Antidepressant prescriptions have been rising in exact correlation to Google's growing presence". (Source.)

Always nice to hear from Leonard Cohen, though.

What do you consider your darkest hour?
Well I wouldn't tell you about it if I knew. Even to talk about oneself in a time like this is a kind of unwholesome luxury. I don't think I've had a darkest hour compared to the dark hours that so many people are involved in right now. Large numbers of people are dodging bombs, having their nails pulled out in dungeons, facing starvation, disease. I mean large numbers of people. So I think that we've really got to be circumspect about how seriously we take our own anxieties today.

Leonard Cohen in The Guardian

More House room?

As I mentioned a couple of years ago, during Christa's last illness I more or less lost my enthusiasm for the Hugh Laurie TV show (though she continued to watch it, even when in hospital). Well, I've now yielded to returning temptation, and a massive discount:


Right! Time (15:09) to get going. I promised to drop my DVD of Jewel in the Crown over for Roger and Eileen and, with luck, blag a cuppa. It would be nice to dodge what looks like impending rain, too. Mike, meanwhile, has been distracting me with news that the new Oppo Blu-ray player has been hacked for multi-region DVD and Blu-ray play after all. That's potentially expensive news, of course. But to get 1080p/24 from a standard definition DVD, now, that's quite some trick...

So much to do...

... yet so little gets done. World-class potterer, that's me. It's 21:48 and already noticeably darker than just a couple of weeks ago. Mind you, there's a fair amount of rain up there in those fluffy grey things. Now, where's that next cuppa?



1  I obviously hit a sensitive nerve! Overnight I've received the longest email I've ever had from Big Bro: on the collision, as it were, of the worlds of computers and aircraft (both design and control issues). I may just have to edit it for publication... I still recall, with mild awe, the unease and suspicion with which a tiny set of online dumb terminals was treated (and, indeed, often ignored) during a (forgive the pun) pilot study in Hawker Siddeley back in 1972. That was a powerful free lesson for me in how not to introduce a computerised version of a manual stock control system. Ignore your users at your peril.