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Big Music's Last Waltz

* Mike Grebb's piece in Wired also reported that lots of folks in the business are putting their faith in ringtones: "Scott Andrews, senior director of internet and mobile entertainment for royalty collection agency BMI, said ring-tone revenues are expected to double from $250 million in 2004 to $500 million in 2005. 'This is a business that has scaled very quickly,' Andrews said. He added that potential synergies with other mobile technologies such as Bluetooth wireless could create even more opportunities for artists. 'Can you imagine being at a concert and saying, "OK, everyone turn on your Bluetooth. We're going to send you a ring tone for free just for being here at the concert"?' Andrews said."

* Amy Phillips spotted a hip 2005 take on how we viewed technology in 1977 with a quick review of Hot Chip playing at the Elysium. She posted it on this blog maintained at the Village Voice Web site: "They sound a lot like the Junior Boys (smooth R& B meets IDM lap-pop), but they are also way goofy. One guy is about 5 feet tall and looks like Gary Wilson, one guy looks like a football thug, everybody else is skinnindie. They all stand in a row at the front of the stage playing synthesizers, which reminded me of Kraftwerk. And their dancing was so bad it made mine look good." Now is the time on Sprockets when we dance!

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* Former Led Zeppelin frontman Robert Plant ought to rejoice in the endless variety offered by the Internet. At one point during his sojourn to Austin, he pined over the narrowcasting of modern music, the Hollywood Reporter noted: "I hate the idea that the jukebox is based on five songs, mass popularity," Plant said. Yeah, Bob, and if they would just stop playing "The Immigrant Song" every time I go to the bar then they could make room for something else. Oh well, it would probably just be Billy Joel anyway.

You'll Never Have Lunch in This Town Again

Oh, to be a chimpanzee. You never have to worry about the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, phishing or Lawrence Lessig's latest blog entry. Well, think again.

The Los Angeles Times reported today that technology is making life tough on Hollywood's trusty legion of pan troglodytes. "Producers turn to them because of their human-like qualities. They can smile on cue, perform basic tasks and look sharp in human outfits," the Times wrote. "But in recent years, the demand for live chimps and other simians has declined as digital animation allows filmmakers and TV producers to create their likenesses on computers. The chimps and other animals in Eddie Murphy's remake of 'Dr. Dolittle,' for example, were computer-generated."

The L.A. Times piece, which focuses on a few chimps that were shot and killed after attacking their owners earlier this month, proves that their existence in Norma Desmond-like twilight isn't so hot for them in Tinseltown after all.

Now here's a thought: If chimps had unions, they would picket Jim Henson's Creature Shop, the animation effects lab that took the "Dr. Doolittle" job. Pigeons won't be so hot about that outfit either -- the Times noted that the company just finished developing ersatz birds for the remake of Mel Brooks's "The Producers."

Porn, Provo and Spam

Never underestimate the power of Utah. The state's governor, Jon Huntsman (R), signed a bill that would require Internet service providers to block access to Web sites considered to be pornographic. According to the new law, "Internet providers in Utah must provide their customers with a way to disable access to sites on the list or face felony charges," CNET's News.com reported.

News.com quoted several sources saying that there is no way that such a law could stand up to a court challenge. And based on my own reporting on this topic for the better part of a decade, the experts News.com quoted are almost certainly right.

The Wall Street Journal, meanwhile, reported on IBM's new way to defend computer users against spam: "International Business Machines Corp. is expected to unveil today its first major foray into the anti-spam market with a service, based on a new IBM technology called FairUCE, that uses a giant database to identify computers that are sending spam. One key feature: E-mails coming from a computer on the spam list are sent directly back to the machine, not just the e-mail account, that sent them. The more spam that comes out, the more vigorous the response." And proving that there really is a German word for everything, the practice of trapping spammers is known by the term "teergrubing," the Journal reported. That's a "verbified" translation of the word "tar pit."

How to Minimize Solitaire

I ran an item in yesterday's column about a North Carolina legislator who wants to prohibit state employees from playing solitaire, Minesweeper and other games that come bundled free on many personal computers. That prompted this alternate suggestion from reader Mark Colan: "When I was a developer at Lotus some time ago, we were under the gun for an important project. One team member spent entirely too much time playing Solitaire for our tastes. Someone came up with a Windows resource-editing program, exchanged the images for two cards, and installed it on his machine."

The result? Every time he pulled a black 7, it would behave like a red 7 and vice-versa. "It did the trick," Colan said.

Send links and comments to robertDOTmacmillanATwashingtonpost.com.

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