Archive for March, 2007

The moment of truth

March 18, 2007
Photo 86

I was just considering buying some songs on the iTunes music store. For some reasons, which I’ll detail in a bit, I didn’t, but headed over to The Pirate Bay and BTJunkie instead. After not finding the music I was looking for (it’s probably too old), I stumbled across a reference to http://piracykillsmusic.no. I’m typing this now because I watched the anti-piracy video there and was immensly provoked.

It’s really just the standard bullcrap about how the poor record companies are losing tons of money on illegal downloads, concluding that it’s easy and safe to download music legally. OK, Mr. Record Company Man, here are some news for you:

– You might think that all the MP3s on my disk is lost revenue for you. You are wrong – if I hadn’t been able to copy that music, I would never have listened to most of it. 99% of the MP3s I have in my collection which I would have bought if I wasn’t able to copy them, corresponds to the CDs in my music collection and the tracks I’ve bought off iTunes.

– After spending lots of money on concerts, DVDs and CDs you get really annoyed when hearing for the umpteenth time that you are killing music by copying it. In fact, I have several concert DVDs that I never would have bought without getting aquainted with the music through MP3s copied from friends.

– I didn’t buy those tracks of iTunes because
1) They don’t play off my MP3 player, since they have DRM.
2) They are a pain to backup, because of the license key required to play them.
3) I can’t give a copy to my girlfriend without burning a copy to CD. I’d consider that fair use.
4) They probably have lower fidelity than the stuff you can get on CD or bittorrent.

I’m so sick and tired of hearing you whine about piracy! The solution to all your woes is easy. Sell 160/320 kbps MP3s without DRM.

My credit card is lined up to buy the first single released as a clean MP3 through a major record company in Norway – no matter what it is – just to prove a point. Bring it on!

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Weird OS X crash – everything freezes, music from iTunes keeps playing

March 14, 2007
Photo 86

Ahrg!

OS X crashed on me again. This has happened before, and I think the manner of the crash is weird enough to warrant a blog post. This is what happens.

1) I’m working on something, usually my thesis, using NeoOffice, Word, remote desktop, Firefox, Opera, tons of stuff.

2) Suddenly OS X freezes – meaning that my keyboard input doesn’t register, and although I can move the mouse cursor around, nothing happens when I click.

3) The music continues. If I am playing an MP3 in iTunes, it keeps playing, like nothing has happened. No stuttering, nothing.

4) I can close the lid on the Macbook, and it will eventually go to sleep. When I wake it up, I don’t get the logon screen, but am sent directly into the desktop again and the music resumes.

5) Eventually my patience runs out, and I do a hard shutdown on the Macbook using the power button.

In a word: Weird. As previously, nothing special in the logs. I’ll google this later, for now I have to do some work.

Facebook, WordPress, flickr, interoperability and integration

March 6, 2007

I’ve just started using Facebook, and it’s pretty nice. A lot like LinkedIn, only focusing on leisure instead of work.

The problem is that Facebook is networking, blogging, online photo album and lots more, all rolled into one application. I’m already using WordPress for blogging and flickr for photos. Fortunately, Facebook can import my weblogs from WordPress automatically. The integration isn’t flawless, though – comments to the post on WordPress are separate from those made at Facebook.

Right now, a part of me feels that it would be great if Facebook was aquired by Yahoo – it would probably mean nice flickr integration with Facebook (since flickr is part of Yahoo). However, we don’t want the internet dominated by a small number of huge companies, do we? Nooooo.

What we need is standards and open APIs, so that it’s possible for Facebook developers and anyone else to access a user’s flickr photos provided they get the user’s login information. Fortunately, it seems we are moving in that direction – getting my posts from WordPress and displaying them in Facebook and being able to blog on WordPress from flickr are good examples.

Separating storage from presentation on the web
However, it strikes me as unlikely that these interoperability/integration issues will be fully resolved until we separate the basic work of just storing our stuff (photos, our social network, blog posts, music, videos or whatever) and presenting it in a frontend. Right now, the money is earned in the frontend, through advertising, and you are locked into one frontend since they have all your data and the associated metadata.

What we as consumers need is the opportunity to pick one company for storing all our stuff in one secure location and then let any other company present the data to us and let us modify and add to it through any standards-compliant interface.

I think Amazon is taking us in this direction with Amazon S3 – Amazon Simple Storage Services. They store 1 gig of your stuff for 0,2$ per month. If a company such as Amazon provides a standardized storage service, with suitable APIs for getting to the content, other companies, such as flickr and Facebook, could compete for our custom by providing the best interface to all that information.

In that world, I would pay Amazon a fee for storing all my stuff. Then I would use flickr to upload (into my storage at Amazon) and tag my photos, since they provide the best interface for doing that. Facebook would interface with the same storage repository, so all my photos would automatically be available there, if I wanted it to. If Facebook started providing a better interface for photo management, I’d start using their interface instead of flickr’s. When looking at my content on my phone, I would probably use a specialized Mobile Photo Album service, since mobiles are so different from desktops, and I would still have access to all my photos without any hassle.

If an unknown company appeared and created wonderful new web applications for combining videos, photos and social networking information in a seamless interface, everyone would be able to try it out using all their media without any fuss. Just type in the address of your Amazon repository, and off you go. Imagine what kind of innovation such a world could see.

Wouldn’t it be great?

Supreme Commander versus Command and Conquer 3

March 3, 2007

Well, after having played a few missions of the Supreme Commander campaign and played through the C&C 3 demo, I feel entitled to have a few opinions on this matter.

In short, Supreme Commander represents something new – namely, its enormous scale. C&C3 is more of the same – more polished, yes, and with excellent production values, but still just more of the same.

After having played SupCom, I felt incredibly constrained when playing C&C3 – I kept trying to zoom out to view more of the battlefield.

The cool FMV sequences and more entertaining story of C&C 3 could make me want to play it a bit more, but gameplay-wise, we’re talking Red Alert, and that’s what is sending me straight back to SupCom.

If there is a god of real time strategy games: Please combine the engine of Supreme Commander, the production values of C&C3 and the story of Starcraft.. please!

When That Which Is Not Supposed To Happen happens anyway

March 1, 2007

Rrrrright, you guessed it – total system freeze in OS X. I can move the cursor around, but that’s it. The only remedy was doing a hard shutdown with the power button.

I would have been less annoyed by this if I was doing something unusual, like running an application I’m not normally running, or trying out new hardware, or really REALLY pushing the system, but I was just doing nothing in particular. And I would also be less annoyed if /var/log/system.log had any information at all about what happened.

Maybe RAM issues, or some other hardward problem? I’ll have to check. In any event – in addition to all the reasons stated above, I am doubly annoyed because I’m on OS X, which isn’t supposed to crash. Pfffft.