AdBlock (13 Dec 2004)

Lots of good patent stuff today. The Becker-Posner blog has a couple of long texts on the state of patents in medicine. I'm not a big fan of patents in many spheres of the economy, but drug research patents are sensible. Of course, there are flaws, but I don't think the correct balance here is as far away from the current position as it is in, say, software patents.

Which brings me neatly to the EU trying to get software patents in via the back door. The headline says it all: EU Council Presidency Schedules Software Patent Directive for Adoption at Fishery Meeting. MEPs have a tough enough time as it is trying to convince people (British people esp) that they matter. Tricks like this certainly don't help.

And now, if your blood pressure is a little high after that, Jason Schultz has a nice text in Salon. Although comparing patents to ex-USSR nuclear weapons is possibly a little bit strong.

Hmm. Maybe this paragraph would have been better placed before that Salon link. But if you use Firefox (and if you don't, what the hell are you thinking?) then you should try AdBlock. With some minimal configuration it works really well. Just right click the adverts on a few of your common pages (The Register is a good one) and they are a lot less mentally glaring.

BBC Radio on your iPod

Google, very nicely, sent me a 20GB iPod for my birthday so I thought I had better do something useful with it.

I have a fairly nice system at home for music so I spend the, otherwise wasted, walk to and from Imperial listening to Radio 4.

You can select the `Listen' link on the website and get their web-based player. Right click and view source. Find ".ram" to pickout the filename URL. Then run lynx -source URL to get the rstp:// link.

Here's the trick...

% mplayer --version
MPlayer 1.0pre5-3.4.2 (C) 2000-2004 MPlayer Team
% mplayer -aofile showname-ddmmyy.wav -ao pcm -cache 320 rstp://...
% lame -h showname-ddmmyy.wav showname-ddmmyy.mp3

Then use gtkpod to upload to the iPod.