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Episode 626: Fnord

Someone outs Tom as a Discordianist, and someone else takes on the printer ink cartel.

Yes, I have been outed as a fan of the Principia Discordia and the number 23. In other news today, we have a champion who will fight for you against the printer ink industry. We also wave hello to wave power and debate whether Google's getting creepy.


Listen now: Download today's podcast



TiVo guy
No advertising in Canada.

Anonymous Darwinist
Keep the government out of it.

Josh from Denver
Why do we need

Matt from Ann Arbor
hoose your Microwave interface.

Dave from LA
Outed as a Discordian.

PC manufacturer agreements with Microsoft
Dear Buzz crew:

Microsoft certainly has a right to install their browser on their operating system, but the idea that PC manufacturers are "totally free" to install whatever browsers they like in addition is a fundamental misreading of their agreements with Microsoft.

Microsoft gives each PC manufacturer "loyalty points" which determine the price at which Microsoft sells them their copies of Windows to install on the PCs they sell. The more points you have, the lower the price-per-copy. The loyalty score is dictated by things like:

  • Whether the manufacturer puts "Company X recommends genuine Windows Vista" in their adverts (and how prominently)
  • Whether the manufacturer puts competing products (e.g., Firefox, WordPerfect) on the computers
  • Whether those competitive products have icons on the desktop
  • etc., etc.
If a PC manufacturer decides to put Firefox or Opera on a user's desktop, MSFT docks them on their loyalty score, which can raise the price of their OEM copies of Windows substantially.

I'd like to see this ridiculous practice stopped, because it's clearly anticompetitive. Microsoft is just squeezing PC manufacturers to make sure they can't ever choose a better product over Microsoft's products.

Keep up the great work!

Robert P. J. Dumas

Time Warner
Hi Tom and Jason,

I have been listening to Buzz Out Loud for over a year now and although I love the show, I find myself getting angry every time Tom says something about changing ISPs if you don't like the service you are getting. After listening to Monday's show I find myself jealous of people in the state of Ohio. The reason being, I have spent the past four years living in a small town in SC where the exclusive franchises for both phone and cable belong to the same privately owned company. I have only two choices in Internet access, dial-up or overpriced slow cable modem, from this small but thorough monopoly. That's right, I can't even get DSL. You might be thinking that this is a common problem in rural areas, but I don't live in a rural area. I am writing this e- mail on a Verizon smartphone that gets excellent EV-DO reception in my house. So, I'm dumping my slow cable modem in favor of an EV-DO modem. My point is this, having two bad choices (phone monopoly and cable monopoly) is a whole lot better than having no choice at all. And I may be the only person to ever say this, but "I love Verizon wireless" whose data plans are both cheaper and faster than my old cable modem.

Thanks for the show,

The blogosphere
Tom called the blogosphere an ecosystem. I think we should call it an EGOsystem.

Tom, Westland, Michigan

The assumption of a searched hard drive
Hi guys,

In response to ep 624:

I wanted to throw in my two cents on the incredibly stupid person who handed over his hard drive with child porn on it. From what I would call an "ideological" or "American way" standpoint, I disagree with your assertion that you need to assume people will search your HD, so just delete whatever it is that's on there that might be incriminating, and even more specifically, especially when they're just installing a DVD player, because hey, shouldn't they just have an open DVD they pop into the thing to test it? Why would you even need a file off my machine? To test the burning? You could do that without searching the HD for anything, just grab something off the desktop. Anyway, not the point, my point is this:

If companies like Best Buy actually reserve the right to "accidentally" inspect your HD, then the potential for harm is insanely disastrous. How difficult do you believe it is to wipe off the "saved" passwords cache from your Web browser? Some employee can just grab those off your machine without you knowing, get into your online banking, and take you for all you got. Let's take it a step further. A truly malicious person (and let's face it, 15 year old kids working in tech support at Best Buy are typically malicious, we've seen the Geek Squad videos) could just drag child porn onto your computer from a personal disc he brings to work, and with a little hackery change the timestamps of the file so it appears the files have been on there for a few months, then call the cops and say "Ohhhh man, child porn here, arrest this guy."

Also, your rants were particularly long today. ;)

Oh and P.S. To the guy having trouble rating a song, you know you can click to the left of the 1st star and go back to no rating right? But I agree I'd wish I had a half star too. ;)

Josh from Moscow

Google, Knol, Everything2, and all that jazz
Hey guys. This is Jack, the current editor-in-chief of We've been all abuzz about your podcast from yesterday (it's nice when the media comes to me instead of the other way 'round) and I've got a couple of things for you:

1. E2 isn't dead. We still have a hell of a community and a fantastic group of writers, wits, conversationalists, editors, authors (published or not), and experts on various fields running up and down our halls and, though we take some getting used to in terms of acceptable style and whatnot, we love new people. I'd like to encourage your listenership to drop by and say hello--we'll leave a light on for ya.

2. We're not particularly worried about Knol; we were amused by the similarities in nomenclature more than anything ('noders' and 'knolers' had me in stitches, lemme tell ya). We're not particularly worried because our focuses seems, at this early point, to be different--unlike Wikipedia and unlike what I've read of Knol so far, E2 accepts the more casual, fringe elements of the written word--we take first-person narrative and essays, poetry, scene-setting, serialized content, the whole shebang; if it's well-written, not entirely pointless, and exists outside of itself, we'll take it. We'll take philosophical extemporizations and mathematical proofs and scientific definitions, too, but we were called Everything way back when for a reason: we're not an encyclopedia because encyclopedias, to keep their utility, leave extraneous stuff out.

3. We've never had aspirations to be the 'next big fill-in-the-blank' in any field, just to keep doing what we're doing and hope that those people who decide to accompany us enjoy the trip. We fight a lot and have differences of opinion on all sorts of things but in the end, those of us who work on, with, or for E2 do it because we love it; it's an entirely volunteer effort, and we do what we can to keep it floating.

4. Fess up, Tom: What was your E2 username? I swear I won't tell.

I'm always available for questions--feel free to e-mail me at if you wanna talk.

Take care,

Jack Thompson
Editor-in-Chief /

(No, not that Jack Thompson. Yes, I have the shirt.)

Fair purchase: Creative Commons for Consumers
Hi Hi!

Thanks for the interesting discussion on creative commons. What you said got me to thinking: There's another area the basic principles behind Creative Commons might be applied, and that's consumer purchase agreements. So many of them gouge the buyer and it's getting worse in many areas.

Suppose a group of the same kind of smart lawyers who came up with the Creative Commons licenses also sat down and thought up some really good purchase agreements that are genuinely fair and equitable to both the buyer and the seller. Suppose they then created an organization like Creative Commons--we might call it something like "Fair Purchase"--for distribution of the agreements. If enough of a groundswell developed you might--just might--eventually get to the point where you might be able to go into a store and say that you are happy to buy, but only with a Fair Purchase agreement.

This would generally only make sense for big-ticket items, of course, but it could make life so much easier. Consumers would no longer need to worry about getting second-footed by the fine print, and if the agreements are good, the vendors should be able to live with them too, because they'd be doing business honestly.

It's kind of like the same idea that politicians shouldn't be able to decide what the size of their own paycheck should be. Ha ha.

Just a thought.

Merry Christmas and have a great break! Thanks for all the fun and information every day throughout the year!

Tim (in Germany but not German)

Last two BOLAD communiques for 2007

1. Wii: Add one more to the list of people who managed to snag a Wii, thanks to Friday's tip. I was 72nd at the first Target on Sunday morning, and they had only 71, but raced across town while locating the exact address of the other Target on my iPhone with one hand (and eye), tuning in the CNET Car Tech podcast on my Nano with my other, and shifting and steering with my other....wait...hmmm.... Anyway, I walked in the door with no expectations, but was shocked and thrilled when the first employee I passed offered me the slip for their very last Wii!!! Very nice indeed. Thank you much.

2. DRM: Okay, I had to write on this one. I've had a Toshiba RS- TX20 TiVo Series II DVD Recorder for almost three years, and frankly it's been one of my best purchases ever. The brilliance of the ever- improving TiVo feature-set combined with the ability to burn anything you like to DVD with unsurpassed simplicity! However, for the first time ever I came across a show that prevented me from recording to DVD due to copyright owner restrictions--first time ever, mind you. And what was that show, you ask? CNET (through Amazon Unbox) starring none other than our very own Molly Wood. Seriously, what were the odds that the first DRM'd show that I'd ever run into after three years of TiVo use would be Molly's show? For shame! ;)

Hey, enjoy your holiday, guys. See you on the flip side. Thanks for another great year--can't believe how fast they go!

Michael Brazda

I was just listening to episode 625 where Rafe mentioned a software program called SafeHouse for hard drive encryption. Well, there is a better (in my opinion) program out there called TrueCrypt ( that does the exact same thing (and more) except it's free and open source. I've used the program before, and I love it. Leo Laporte and Steve Gibson on their Security Now podcast also did a thorough review of how the program works and why to use it on episode 41 of their podcast ( Just my $0.02 worth.

Ryan from Boise, Idaho

Space radio signal
Have no fear Buzznauts! In episode 624 you mentioned that Alexander Zeitzer (spelling?) was using a powerful radio transmitter to send messages to nearby stars. According to this article though, the chances that A) the communications get there intact, (due to distance); that B) there are living life forms; C) those living life forms are sentient; D) those life forms have progressed enough to intercept and decode radio waves; that F) they haven't progressed past the use of radio waves (or ever used them at all); and that G) they're even listening, are so astronomically absurd that in the entire galaxy, it's postulated there's only a dozen or so planets out of billions that would meet those requirements--and most likely they would be out of range of radio signals anyways!

I found this an extremely interesting read a few weeks back, and it seems the perfect answer to your worries about random dudes spamming the cosmos. Hope this helps.

Phillip from the boonies

Moore's Law
There are a lot of initiatives which should continue the price- performance curve for some time, e.g. multilayer chip designs and vertical recording for mass storage.

That said, I wish there was a foreseeable end to Parkinson's Law and its various corollaries for computer systems, e.g. data expands to fill the space available for storage.

For every gem like uTorrent, there is a barrel load of turds like Vista.


Nobody uses their pompous middle name, eh Merritt???
Re: episode 625 and your smuggy, presumptive statement about middle names.

Tom, Tom, Tom....*sigh*

I have since birth been referred to by my middle name. My first name, which is the same as both my father and grandfather's, was given to me as some sort of familial dictate, but even my father didn't want me to. Everyone called me Andrew or Andy right from the get-go. The only time I get called my first name is by people I don't know (teachers the first day of school, marketing folks, etc). And on top of that, at some point when I had to start signing legal things, they required at least my first initial, so now my legal signature is my first initial, middle name, and last name. Am i snotty? Nope. Does the law make me do it? Yep.


Other than the minor deviation, big fan and keep up the good work!

C. Andrew Beach

Growing up in Buzz Town
Buzz crew,

I wanted to let you know that another long time member of Buzz Town is "growing up". Today (Monday) is my last day as a college student. As of January, I will no longer be Brad from northern Minnesota, I will have to be Brad from Minneapolis, or possibly Brad from Eastern Central Minnesota, or would that be Central Eastern Minnesota? Oh the confusion. I can't just be Brad, and there is already a Brad from Minneapolis! I could be Brad the programmer, although I am sure there are better programmers already in Buzz Town.

Oh well, until I find something useful to comment on, thanks for a great show and happy holidays!

Currently from northern Minnesota