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Episode 612: Judges gone wild

Judge throws 46 people in jail over a ringing cell phone. Well, you can understand that. Phones are annoying.

A judge throws 46 people in jail after no one will 'fess up to a ringing cell phone. Well, that's certainly understandable. In other jurist-related news, a more level-headed one orders the RIAA to show just exactly how a digital download can cost the industry $150,000--also understandable. And HD DVD shows off some of the features that actually make it cool.


Listen now: Download today's podcast



Matthew in Fresno
Hack Black Friday.

Bill Gates has an Internet fridge.

Computer randomly plays classical music (from the forums)
During normal operation or in Safe mode, your computer may play "Fur Elise" or "It's a Small, Small World" seemingly at random. This is an indication sent to the PC speaker from the computer's BIOS that the CPU fan is failing or has failed, or that the power supply voltages have drifted out of tolerance. This is a design feature of a detection circuit and system BIOSes developed by Award/Unicore from 1997 on. ";en-us;261186

My first reaction on reading this was to double check the URL and make sure I was not on a spoof site. My second reaction was what a crappy M$OS diagnostic. Finally realized the OS had nothing to do with it, this is a bios beep code.

Or maybe in this case, bios ring tone.


Comcast knocking on wrong door
Hey Buzz crew,

As an avid listener of your show, I thought you would be interested to know that Comcast has begun a disinformation campaign regarding the digital TV conversion.

My doorbell rang this past Sunday afternoon (Thanksgiving weekend) and I answered the door to find a young woman from Comcast with a list of the subscribers in my neighborhood, the services they received, and their monthly package price. She proceeded to inform me that as of February 2009, the FCC was requiring Comcast to cease transmitting analog signals to their subscribers and that I would need to move to their digital package. She pointed out that I currently pay $95 for a basic channel package and Internet access and that I could get their triple-play which included voice for $99. We walked through the pricing as it would actually be for my nine-TV household (Hey, I'm a geek), and that it would be more like $160.

I proceeded to inform her that she was incorrect in how the FCC change would and should affect me and, being the well-informed BOL listener that I am; I then proceeded to educate her on how the digital transmission actually worked, that the FCC is mandating cable companies continue to provide analog service those of us that don't see the need for digital TV and that I was not thrilled that Comcast was using this as an opportunity to rake their customers over the coals. (OK, so I'm a luddite geek.) We spoke for about 30 minutes, during which she asked how Verizon's FiOS service worked and I introduced her to the concept of a la carte vs. package pricing for cable TV subscriptions. In the end, she apologized for not being informed and promised to check out the FCC Web site.

My biggest concern after speaking with her is how they will play this with older subscribers that may not be familiar with this technology change. She indicated many seniors were on a special $16/month plan and would be pushed into a $60+/month setup if they believe what Comcast is telling them.

Love the show and many thanks for keeping me well informed to fight the Comcast machine.

Keith Albright
Quakertown, Pennsylvania

New Jersey college requires students to buy cellphone, not reimbursed
Hey BOL crew,

I'm not really a tech head but I enjoy your show and felt compelled to send an E-mail when I heard this story and wanted to get your thoughts on it.

Willingboro, New Jersey

Negatives of ad-supported content
Hey Buzz crew,

With the recent discussion on episode 610 about ad-supported services, I felt what happened to me tonight was ironic.

As you have mentioned before, ABC offers most (not all) of their shows online at They're free, which is great. Just as DRM content relies on DRM-servers, ad-supported content relies on its advertisement servers. But what happens when the ad servers are unavailable?

See the error message in the screenshot.

I couldn't watch a single episode because everything I tried to watch gave me this same message.

Technology is great when it works, but when the technology that the technology depends on fails, it's a poor user experience.

J. Heffner