from the holiday-history dept
Five Years Ago
This week in 2010, we continued to track Homeland Security’s recent mass seizures of domains. We discovered that their “evidence” of piracy included songs sent to the targeted blogs by the record labels themselves, and a close reading of the affidavit revealed plenty of technical and legal errors that kept getting worse. Despite all this, the Indie Music Association came out in support of the seizures.
While Homeland Security was playing copyright cops at home, the US was busy trying to export stronger copyright around the globe, too. The ambassador to the UN made it clear that copyright and patents were more important than progress in developing nations, and the State Department was spending millions to train foreign judges on intellectual property issues. The Spanish legislature, at least, rejected new copyright laws that Wikileaks had revealed to be heavily influenced by US diplomats and, by extension, Hollywood.
We also took some time this week to debunk common myths, like the idea that it can’t be fair use to quote an entire article, the accusation that ISPs are profiting from piracy, and the fear that people just want stuff for free.
Ten Years Ago
Security and spam were big topics this week in 2005. Rootkits were spreading via instant messaging and even the Sony rootkit was still on some shelves (while Texas was extending its lawsuit to cover Sony’s other copy protection technology), and one mysterious virus was surreptitiously downloading Mr. Bean to people’s computers, possibly as part of some sort of shakedown scheme. Amidst this, we took a look at a three part series on overhauling the internet from MIT’S Tech Review, though sadly the original articles appear to have been taken down or moved. On the spam front, we noted that Bill Gates would almost certainly not be able to keep his 2004 promise that the spam problem would be “solved” within two years, though the FTC was cautiously optimistic about the future of spam, and some people were simply content to enjoy all the creative names spammers come up with.
Fifteen Years Ago
This week in 2000, there was lots of overhype about the sold-out gift of the season: the Playstation 2. This had interesting and varied consequences, ranging from one man’s long and rambling article about trying to decide what to do with the one he got his hands on, to the news that Iraq was buying them up in bulk (presumably for the purposes of building a supercomputer). Next door in Iran, meanwhile, we saw a big collision of tradition and technology: a flame war among clerics, complete with cybersquatting.
This year’s other popular gift, despite it’s $1,300 price tag, was Sony’s Aibo robotic dog (which may or may not have come with a rootkit, who knows?), which sold 40,000 units. That’s one way to use robots to make money from people with too much of it — another is what Honda announced: that it would start renting out the Asimo robot to parties and events.
One-Hundred And Thirty-Three Years Ago
Here’s a slice of Christmas technology history from long before Playstations and robots: it was on December 22, 1882 that an associate of Thomas Edison unveiled the first Christmas tree decorated with electric lights. The lights became popular among businesses within 20 years, but wouldn’t truly replace the mainstream choice of candles until the 1930s when the price had dropped sufficiently.