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The Independent Culture
GRATEFUL DEAD fans can now legally post and swap MP3 recordings of live performances over the Internet, Eric Doney, a spokesman for the band, said last week. The move is being heralded as further proof of the unstoppability of the format. The Grateful Dead are the biggest band to commit to the new medium. "They don't want to leave their fans in a technological backwater," Doney said. Support for MP3 will be further boosted tomorrow when Public Enemy pre-release their album, There's a Poison Goin' On, in MP3 on AtomicPop.com and Amazon.com a month before it reaches the shops. Indie band They Might Be Giants are also planning an MP3-only album at GoodNoise.com.

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IDLE PCS can help the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence (Seti) with free software, released last week. Rather than switching on a screensaver after a period of inactivity, Seti@home software will instead direct PC processors to analyse data from the Arecibo radio telescope in Puerto Rico, looking for regular radio patterns that might be from other life forms. The software downloads small packets of data from Seti each day, analyses them when the processor is not being used for other tasks and sends them back to Seti at the University of California, Berkeley. By using hundreds of thousands of PCs, Seti hopes to process more data more quickly than by using dedicated supercomputers. The software is available for PC, Unix and Mac at http:// setiathome.ssl.berkeley.edu.

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SUN MICROSYSTEMS has said it will reorganise in July. Its three software divisions will be merged into a software products and platforms division controlled by Alan Baratz. John McFarlane will leave the Solaris group to become president of a new division aiming to get Sun hardware into Internet services. Doug Kaewort will lead a combined developer relations and market development division.

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