45 Million Is Looking for Somebody

photo: bistro cote bar

The is the Coté Bar - the other side is the coté bistro.

Home-Made Music CDs Might be Piracy

Paris:- Sunday, 31. January 1999:- Next Tuesday, somebody is going the become 45,277,015 francs poorer if they don't take their winning Loto ticket to where it needs to be cashed in. This is the equivalent of just under eight million dollars at stake here.

On Tuesday, 2. December 1998, someone walked into Le Diablotin bar on Montmartre and paid 32 francs for a Loto ticket with the numbers 15, 21, 24, 26, 38 and 40 on it. As it was purchased on a Tuesday, the loto machine probably spit out the ping-pong balls with these numbers on the day after.

The organization that runs the Loto doesn't like big winners not to show up because it is kind of demoralizingphoto: bistro in sevres to those who play regularly without winning a button. So they have put out a 'winner wanted' appeal, and similar efforts has worked twice in the past.

In both cases, the winners had gone on vacations, unaware of their good fortune. 'Good fortune' is what I call coming back from holidays to learn that I've become a millionaire; but so far this has eluded me.

The suburban bistro in Sèvres has a garden for dining in season.

Meanwhile, this mystery is driving the owners of Le Diablotin crazy. Everybody who comes in wants to know if the winner has showed up yet. Somebody else won 30 million on the Loto at this bar, and the owner wants to break his 'record.'

If the winner doesn't show up with a good ticket within 60 days - in this case, about to expire - the win gets tossed back into the pot. France's biggest Loto jackpot was for 150 million francs; won on 20. March 1997, by a grandmother in Asnières just outside Paris.

Consumers Rip Off Music Producers

I don't know if anybody remembers the introduction of the digital-audio cassette tape recorder. When they came out, the music industry set up such a howl about pirate copying, that the recorder manufacturers had to put in some device to stop the machines from recording - which sort of made them useless for anything other than listening to very expensive pre-recorded DAT tapes. Sales did not boom.

The recordable CD has taken some time to get here, but now they are available at consumer electronics' prices. One-time recordable blank CDs cost about a dollar, so guess what's happening.

Right! All the kids who cannot afford the horribly inflated retail prices of audio CDs, are getting together to buy CD-recorders and the latest hit audio CDs, and are multiplying them like rabbits and selling them to their friends for peanuts.

While the recording industry has had its head in a sand dune worrying about bad people pumping music through the Internet, the barn door has been left open to massive piracy. They say they are losing zillions.

It's about time. They've had a 25-year monopoly on inflated profits; which added up to a lot of money they did not bother reinvesting in new talent. Look at all the re-issues they put out.

The music industry is about having a monopoly of control of the talent. To keep it, they killed DAT. Now recordable CDs are going to turn a monopoly situation into something like the Internet - where everybody and anybody can publish just about anything - for the cost of peanuts.

The recordable CD means that 'garage' bands will be able to produce themselves and manufacture their product. They'll sell by word-of-mouth; and if they talk up a 'hit' - then - logically the music industry will be given the job of worldwide distribution.

This will mean that the industry giants will be freed from the tedious business of finding talent and will be able to buy into titles that have already been tested in the real market. In this way a 'bad' thing will turn into a 'good' thing; and the listening public may even get some good, new music to hear.

More Techno-News

One major reason for French reluctance to jump wholeheartedly onto the Internet has been the high cost of computers. This goes without mentioning the total silliness of them being almost impossible to operate on account of being overloaded with lousy code.

But now two things have happened here. The first is 'plug-and-play' and the second is tying the price of a computer to a subscription to an online provider. Thus, supermarkets are peddling multimedia PCs for just under 2,000 francs, coupled tophoto: model underground louvre online access for 149 francs per month.

A model of the archeological digs under the Louvre; shown at the 'Cent Ans d'Histoire' exhibition.

Apparently, the online operator reimburses the supermarket the 2,000 francs, which is the wholesale value of the computer - in return for collecting 149 francs a month for forever. Well, for two years at least.

Le Parisien took out their pocket calculator and figured it out. The initial payment and the two-year subscription comes to 5,566 francs. Instead, if you buy a similar low-end machine for the going price of 4,000 francs and get a regular deal from an ISP, the user will save between 500 and a thousand francs over two years.

The sales model being tried is a bit like the one that sold several million portable phones; on the basis of one franc for the phone coupled to a large subscription fee for access. Nobody likes to mention that France Telecom's line fees are on top of everything.

In fact, today is supposed to be another 'boycott France Telecom Day,' by staying off the 'Net. The last one resulted in some talk by France Telecom about studying its rate structure - a bit as if they were dealing with striking truck drivers. Stall as long as possible, in other words.

The government says it wants the French to be online. The figure of a flat 100 franc a month rate for unlimited line-time has been put about. I think the pressure groups should have offered no more than 25 francs, so there would be some room to negotiate a deal even better than 100 francs a month.

The pressure groups should have gone after the abolition of line charges for local calls. This would have benefitted everybody.

Sloppy Le Parisien URLs

Last week, in my usual mad scramble, I just copied the URLs out of Le Parisien's feature about virtual museum visits, crossed my fingers and stuck them in here. It didn't work.

Besides my own typos, which were no fault of Le Parisien, they had more than a few. In the old days - about two years ago - most Web URLs were pretty conformist. You could look at some of them and half-guess they were wrong.

I checked the URLs about four hours later, but I don't remember which were flousey. If you accessedphoto: night on rivoli early from Asia or Europe, you may have hit some duds before I got the corrections in. My apologies.

Night time on the Rue de Rivoli.

I don't do much Web surfing and depend on a couple of Info services for tips. I find it disconcerting how many of the URLs they publish are duds. I can understand how some of them happen though. After getting the 'home' or default URL, the reviewers dig down into the Web site and when they find something interesting, they note whatever URL is showing.

But quite often, with code-trickery, URLs can be dynamically- generated. If you try them from scratch, they will return a '404' - not found. If this happens to you, simply try cutting off all of the URL that comes after the dot-com or dot-net, and hit it again. Nine times out of ten, you'll get the Web site you want.

Dismal Sports News

Paris' football team PSG has done no better last week than the week before. There is gloom in Light City.

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