31.7.06

Google announces hosting for open source projects

Google Code's logoShowing its support for the open source movement, search kingpin Google has launched a site for developers to host open source projects.

The new Google site intends to offer a serious challenge to the most popular open source project hosting sites, including SourceForge.net.

Reports say that Google's new site, which offers software storage and debugging facilities is attracting projects like ants to a sugar bowl, and let me just wonder why...

But try for yourself, I'm going to do the same.

Thumb rules for logo's


This is something I wanted to talk about for a long time, but never put my time into it until now. However, I'm not going to write a long issue on it: I'm going to give three thumb rules and examples.

Web applications, Web 2.0, Ajax, all these things are appearing a lot lately, and talked about a lot. But every application, specially a Webapp, has or needs a logo. And this is where lot's of them fail. You have to make a logo good for you and those who're going to promote you, either by the standard means, publicity, blogging about it or any other way. Here's how:

Google Images logoYour logo has to be findable. This is so obvious that often is taken for granted. Bang - you're wrong if you think there's nothing to do about it. Just like when someone searches about your application (on Google, for instance), the first result should be a link for it, the first image that would show on an image search (on Google Image, for instance) should be your logo. Although, that's rarely the case, and lot's of times your logo won't even show there. Now that you see what's the problem, how can you solve it? Preety easily, actualy: if your app is called Xpto, everytime (in your app specially) the image is shown the "alt" html tag (alternative text) for it should be exactly "Xpto logo". Easy! But that won't suffice: your image file should have a similar name: something like xpto_logo.png or something... Easy doable, awsome results.

PureVolume logoBut that's not the only way people will try to find your logo: most times when I'm blogging about some piece of web software, I just open the application. So, saving your logo should be as easy (and no more complicate than) opening the application, right-click on the logo and select "save". You don't make idea of the number of applications that make you view the applications source just to get the damn logo link, just because it's embeeded in the css, and your app loads a dozen of CSS's, and the image has the name "image213.png". Worse even if you don't allways use images of the same extension: finding them in the CSS code just sucks. PureVolume's logo is an example...

Ning logoThird, but not less important, and probably the one most applications fail, the image should be in a format of easy publication - anywhere. That means that you just CAN'T use background transparency on them - sorry! That's good also for yourself, but the most important thing is that you can't control the background of every place that will have your app, so you sould make it well-viewable everywhere. Even google's logo sucks on it's corners in a non-white background, but you have really worse cases, like Ning's logo.

Pandora's logoNow that the three thumb rules are given, let me just make a stand here: you NEED a logo. It sucks to have to take a screenshot or something just because your app doesn't have one. Worse yet is when you have a brand, and you use your brand's logo as the logo of each app of yourse. When I talk about Google Analytics I don't want to talk about Google, so I have a logo for Analytics. Unfortunately not everyone does the same, so I hade to screenshot the logo of "Pandora Backstage" because the logo there is only Pandora's.

My visited countries

Lot's of people, specially on Planet Debian, blogged this map for a long time, but I never did it myself 'cause I'm ashamed of it. Anyway, here it is:




In this map you see, in red, the world countries I've already visited: only three :-P I hope I can change that soon, 'tho... While I think I'm not going to be a great fan of France, I'm aiming for that to be my next country, next year. Unless I find someone willing to do some travel in the second half of December...

Create your own visited countries map.

28.7.06

"Perl Best Practices" in Lisbon - Portugal

Perl Best Practices

with Damian Conway

Damian Conway

log, a Portuguese company, announced "Perl Best Practices" with Australian Damian Conway, the author of “Object Oriented Perl” and “Perl Best Practices“. The event will be on the 12nd and 13rd of September in Lisbon.

What

Code Layout, Naming Conventions, Values and Expressions, Variables, Control Structures, Documentation, Built-in Functions, Subroutines, I/O, References … and more.

Where

It will be in Lisbon - Portugal. More info yet to be released.

Who

Only 36 people can go, and from those only up to 6 can have the "student disccount".

How

You have to pay ;-) If you subscribe until the 20th of August, the price is 480 €. After that, the price rises to 750 €.

If you're a full-time student without any kind of incoming, you can go to one of the 6 slots available for students, and the price goes down to only 120 €.

More info on the event website.

27.7.06

Web for music artists and lovers


Pandora logoYesterday I wrote a piece on how to find info about music on the web, and ended with Pandora Backstage. But that leads me to talk about Pandora: a great way of knowing new music. I'm a heavy Pandora user: at work I arrive, open a tab for Pandora, and start listening to it until my work day is over, when I close the tab. Yes, Pandora is an online music player, but with a twitch: you tell it what do you like, and Pandora aplies some genetic algorithms to find out what other stuff you like to listen. I'm impressed on how good their algorithms are: it almost never fails on me, and it's a really great way of knowing about more music and more artists, and, in the same time, is a great way of listening to the music you like, without having to care about moving your mp3's or CD's to the places you want to listen to them, and stuff like that... It's a great service, and in those people tend to emphatise the flaws, so who am I to mark a difference? Pandora has two main issues: first of all it is a Flash player, which really sucks. Besides having to restart the browser sometimes to get sound from Pandora, don't even try to let Pandora running over a weekend, it will suck each free byte of memory you have.

last.fm logoWhen Pandora appeared, lot's of people tried to compare it with last.fm, but I really don't understand why, since they do quite different things. With last.fm you can download a player or use the last.fm plugin to your music player of choice (iTunes, amarok, you name it) and start rating the songs you have and like. Then, you can see charts and recommendations (based on camparisons between user tastes) and stuff like that... Well, a mix between Pandora and a social network. It has it's value and I'm glad it exists, but if you want to find new music Pandora is better than last.fm for you, specially if you're no computer geek.

MySpace logoIt was no surprise for me, but quite interesting since I was thinking on writting this post when yesterday at lunch I heard a friend telling to another "hey, every band needs a MySpace page!". While not necessarily truth (if you pick the last post's example "Marilyn Manson", you'll see that he isn't on MySpace), this is truth for every and each band that is less known and needs to be more. While Marilyn Manson or any other billboard bands don't need the exposure MySpace can give bands, other known bands do: if you look to my contacts on my MySpace's corner, you'll see I'm linking there to well-established bands like Novembers Doom (7 full-length released), Antimatter (4 full-length released) or ThanatoSchizO (3 full-length released), so if bands like those are investing their time in MySpace there must be a reason, right? Well, the advantage of MySpace is it's userbase: half-world has an account there and the other half already heard about it. In MySpace (music-related) you have an easy way to browse between artists, kisten to their music while reading their MySpace pages, and still maybe download those tracks. The concept is good, but poorly implemented, as I ranted about before.

PureVolume logoWhile there's no ultimate sollution to solve artists and lovers problems while using the web to reach their purposes, there are several services that try to do it better than MySpace. From all the alternatives, and please don't make me name them all, the best, IMHO, is PureVolume. you just need to go there and view a band's profile to easilly notice three things: it has all the band features MySpace has, it's an only-music social network, and it's way more usable and clean. Who wants the mess of those MySpace pages when there are pages so nice as this? Then, the player: it's also a flash player, but this one works perfectly, even if I would prefer a different behaviour in some cases. The pages are quite Ajax'd which is perfect if you want to browse and don't loose track of the music you were listening to... If you're an artist, take in consideration that there's a limit of 4 songs published in the free accounts, and then you have to pay something (I don't know and I don't care) to be able to post more songs.

SouldClick logoBeing an artist myself, when Crash (the last released album from Merankorii) was released I faced a problem: I wanted to have the entire album available for download somewhere, and had no web service where to put it on. OK, I could use PureVolume for that, but since I want to offer the music as free mp3's available for download, I don't have to add to that an expense just to host a couple of mp3 files. So I decided to create an account on SoundClick. This service is worse than PureVolume's: you have a worse player, navigation is bad, but you have no limit in the number of songs hosted. People can listen to them with no trouble, but if you want to download them you have to be registred (is free). Having to be registred sucks: most people won't bother doing that to download some music, and artists want having people downloading their music the easiest way possible.

Amie St. logoIn the beggining of this week a new service appeared, still on it's Alpha version: Amie St.. This is a service that, like SoundClick, lets you host the number of songs you want, freely, and that people have to be registred to download them. But this service has a completely different business model: people don't "download" music, they "buy" it, even if it is "buying a free music" (when the cost is 0 you don't have to pay for it, obviously). More, the price one track isn't fixed by the artist (as you see in several other services) but, instead, Amie's ecosystem creates a market where your tracks have a value of worthiness. "Better" music is more expensive and "worse" music is free. I think this is an awsome application, but it is still too young to have no fear, and I really have some concerns about it. Besides, there are lot's of features lacking there: what if I have a band and I want all my tracks to be for free, even if they could be sold? On those cases Amie St. isn't for me.

Unfortunately, there's no "killer app" for Music Artists and Lovers. And yes, the "killer app" have to be the same for both: in a web full of social features, you just have to put bands and listeners together, giving to both of them the possibility of doing everything they might want. We're not there, yet, but some inside info in the Web 2.0 market tells me that the future might be brighter... Let's hope and see.

26.7.06

em units on CSS


CSS logo It's kind of shocking to see the number of people who have em sizings in CSS's. They call them hard and messy, but they're really a path to create usable pages, being the best practice to use'em, specially if you want your site to be well readable in every kind of screen, browser and specially resolution.

If you're curious about this issue, I recommend you to read this post and grovel for more. And yes, before complaining, I know my websites suck in terms of presentation, including (specially?) this blog. Yet, you may want to not follow my path, right? ;-)

Finding Music info on the Web


As you know, I'm quite an enthusiast of both technology and music. So, I've decided to write a brief analysis of several music services on the Web. There are serveral services for several purposes, so I'll just talk about some of them, and I have no plan on which ones, I'll just let it flow... This first post on the issue is about "Finding Music info on the Web".

Google logoFirst of all, let's talk about services that let you find music, info about artist and so on. My personal and unfounded view on the way most people search for music is just based on the experience of some people I know, so I might be wrong, but since most people use Google to find info, they also use it when the info is on music. So, sometime ago, they decided to enhance music searches by creating Google Musicsearch, but it was a flop: if you try to go now to the Musicsearch page you'll get a 404, and the only way of seeing it is searching for music in the usual Google search. If you search, for instance, for "Marilyn Manson", the first result you'll get is a link with that goes to musicsearch and shows you what artists are known for that musician, what albums were made (whithout any order) and which songs are known. While this might be pleasant to see in general searches, I don't think this is of any use for someone searching for, let's say, an artist: since this info was crawled and indexed, is incorrect, incomplete and doesn't give the important data, but the known data instead. I'll only search on Google about an artist as a last resource (and for those Google does not know that that search key is an artist) or when I want to find it's official page, and Google sucks on that. I talked about Google Music Search last year.

Amazon logoSo, if Google doesn't fit, what does? I was between surprised and shocked to know that lot's of people use Amazon for their musical searches needs. But then it just came onme: if Google sucks on this, where will people search about music? The answer "in a music store" suddenly sounded quite obvious to me - after all that's what people do offline, right? But searching about music on Amazon also sucks. First of all, they only have info on stuff they have on stores. Then, you have no info on the band at all, only on their releases. But there are some things that are really annoying: searching on Marilyn Manson, for instance, will give me 226 results (which already annoys me because it seems that they have more CD's from Marilyn Manson than I do, oh the envy!), so I try to sort them by "release date": I'm not really interested in knowing what are the bestsellers in a band I already have lot's of stuff. So, I ordered the list by "Release Date: Old to New", and the results come like this: first an 2001 CD, then a 1994 one, from item 9 to 10 we have a leap from 1998 to 1996... Their "ordered by release date" is badly labeled, and in truth is "ordered by database insertion date". Sucks. Thenm from those 226 results are really valid? For instance, we get two entries for the same single...

Pandora Backstage logoSome time ago, Pandora released it's Pandora Backstage (as I reported earlier). Pandora Backstage works as a Music search engine - exactly what we were talking about, and works better doing it than the previous sollutions. You can do a general search, search by artist or by song. For instance, and to give the earlier example of Marilyn Manson, searching for it gives us a four paragraph (quite good!) biography of the band (from "All Music Guide") and a section of "selected discography", where they have a list of all CD's they have in their systems (since Pandora's business isn't "backstaging"), ordered by release date, but this time the real release date and in inverse order (from recent to old). Choosing a CD will lead us to another page with info about that CD. Unfortunately the "selected discography" doesn't link to all the CD's they have info about but only those they have songs from, so if you're looking for a specific CD it can suck. Thumbs up for having an easy way of hearing samples from some songs or from an entire CD, and to their section of one-click actions: create a pandora station around that song/album/artist, e-mail that info to someone, and/or buy that CD or track.

More public info on goPlan, thumbs down

goPlan screenshotI've told you before about goPlan: a product from WeBreakStuff that will soon enter a private beta phase and that I'm beta-testing already - and preety excited about it. This is going to be one of those services I'll surely be using when it's out there, and I'll do it simply because I really believe my productivity will improove as soon as I start organizing my several projects (tech or not) using it.

Fred from WeBreakStuff just wrote a little more about goPlan: what it is, what are the things it tries to achieve, what's going on about the private beta, and a bunch of screenshots. Worth reading.

But then, in the comments, someone asks about it's business model - how it will be? Remember that I did the same question previously, and I believe that goPlan would kick ass if was supplied both as a service and a "packaged software" (which people can download and install in their own private servers or something like that). Unfortunately, and thumbs down on that, seems that those aren't their plans:


We’re still working on the way the application is going to enter the market. Initially Goplan was going to be open-source, but the point of the code rewrite was to build a packaged solution. We may still open certain parts of it, though.


Oh, well...

25.7.06

The mess of Instant Messaging

Really, I can't understand the mindset of these millions of users that use those several applcations and ways of using internet to engage in a conversation.

Take a look at this graph:
table describing IM networks usage


People get excited to get video on skype. Yet, their sollution doesn't work in every setup: from their site, they say:

Very restrictive corporate firewalls: Skype currently works with most standard firewalls and gateway configurations. However, some very strict corporate firewalls which only allow TCP connections on a restricted number of ports may not allow Skype to connect at the moment. We are working on resolving this issue and hope that Skype will be able to function on the majority of firewalls with no configuration required. If your firewall does not allow you to use Skype, please inform your system administrator so that they can allow the appropriate access necessary for Skype to run.

Yes, in those nazi ambients you're surelly fond of Skype isn't a sollution, and it's a mess having to comminicate with some people with some software, and to other people with other software, right? Right, but then there are other problems, like despite software like gaim supporting lot's of protocols, it can't support Skype, since it's protocol is closed (which sucks). Of course that you can just wait for Jingle, video support for XMPP, so you can use Jabber to do that stuff you wanted on Skype.

One problem with Jabber is that you don't have message encryption support nor file encryption support. For message encryption you can use Off The Record, but still, you have no File Encryption. From the four most used IM techonologies, AIM, Yahoo!, MSN and Jabber, only MSN supports file encryption support, but then, all the messagens aren't real p2p: they pass through Microsoft servers, and I guess you don't want to rely on Microsoft, do you?

Simp Lite (free) and ScatterChat (free and open source) gives you MSN and Yahoo! file encryption, and Simp Lite also provides it to AIM. Simp Lite is only for Windows users, so it isn't that great of a sollution, is it? Besides, ScatterChat also provides anonimity, since it ru
ns it top of Tor.

OK, now, why am I talking about this thingie "ScatterChat" that nobody knows about after showing that table up there with the most used networks? Well, as I was trying to say, I can't understand
IM users. I don't really like the concept of IM'ing per se, but doing it using such weird closed dubious protocols scares me. So, should people start using ScatterChat? Not really - at lea
st I won't, or at least for now. The concept behind it is really good:
ScatterChat is a HACKTIVIST WEAPON designed to allow non-technical human rights activists and political dissidents to communicate securely and anonymously while operating in hostile territory. It is also useful in corporate settings, or in other situations where privacy is desired.

But then they fail in the implementation: for instance in the anonimity part. I would love to see a real implementation of gnunet-chat (and I'll believe that in time we'll get it), but for now you have other networks to provide anonymous chat: from those the relevant is IIP. The big problem here is that IIP isn't an IM network, but an IRC-like one. It shouldn't be hard to implement support to IIP in some client like ScatterChat: after all it already supports IRC, so the presentation layer should be no problem...

Anyway, we have all the means we want to create the chat/conversation/video killer-application for years now, and we still don't have it. Why? Because we just simple rely on those big companies into improoving their products. Get a grip: Microsoft, AOL, Yahoo and Google are too busy fighting with themselves over a market to care about technology.

Celebrating the 10.000

visitsAs you might have noticed, but probably not, my blog reached yesterdat 10.000 visitors. Since I already consider that a big number, I decided I should celebrate if by giving a gift to those who give me those visits: you. So, a special treat for you: Noori Podcast #1!

As you can see on that graphic, despite having this counter for 3 years, more than half the visits were made in the past few months.

Besides talking, I present some music on this podcast: Ashram, Merankorii, ThanatoSchizO, ColdBlooded, The 3rd and the Mortal, Mindless Self Indulgence, Empyrium, Marilyn Manson and Desire.

If you like it, you'll might be interested in listening also to this special undercover episode presented by me, where I show covers made by Marilyn Manson.

Feel free to comment...

24.7.06

Amie St.

Amie St. logoI've just added my musical project Merankorii to Amie St., "a social network centered around the discovery of new music".

This is definitively a different application with a different approach to digital music, and they have my thumbs for that. They aren't playing in a shaking ground, so they can easily have success, but things for them aren't as good as the feedback they're having lately seems to.

So, what do these guys give of so new? As a matter of fact, their business is quite simple: artists give their music for free there, music is rated, the best rated songs move from free to costing money and getting more or less expensive depending on being more or less rated. To avoid bad ratings or people not caring about rating at all, they pay money for users that especulate well (telling that a band will start selling well and being right gives good money for the artist and for the raters).

So, where's the flaw? Well, people can simply not buy non-free music, so that since the moment a songs start costing money can be the moment that the song stops selling, until is free again. But comparing that to having the song forcefully free (like in those other services), well... I just guess that no artist has nothing to loose with this.

The only problem I see with this service until now it that it is way too buggy, and has a really small selection of music (yet). Considering that the site is still at it's "Alpha" state, I'm not really worried about it, tho.

Congratulations guys, and good luck.

Rambam arrested on HOPE


Steven Rambam
So, Steven Rambam (from Pallorium) was arrested on HOPE right before giving his speach. Nobody seems to know what the hell happened to him, and I'm quite suprprised that the 2600 folks (or at least Emmanuel Goldstein) didn't say nothing about it, at least yet. Maybe their knowledge about the arrest is as much as ours? Seems that the trial is going to be today, so let's see what's up...

Rambam is known as being a good "information digger", that's what he does for a living and that's what he was going to talk about: he dug up in just 4.5 hours of searching private and public databases more than 500 pages worth of data (including that someone else in Alabama who was using his Social Security number since 1983) on HOPE attendee Rick Dakan, who agreed to be the guinea pig for the project, starting with just knowing his name and e-mail address.

XTech 2007: The Ubiquitous Web

XTechAs many of you know (those who read this blog regulary, at least), In May I went to Amsterdam to attend to XTech 2006. It was an awsome valuable experience, and it is a great conference, so I was somewhat surprised with it not having more attendees...

So, better sooner than later, I'm here to call you to XTech 2007. From the announcement:

We're pleased to announce that XTech 2007 will take place from May 15-18 2007, in Paris, France.

The theme of the conference for 2007 is "The Ubiquitous Web". A keynote will be delivered by Adam Greenfield, author of "Everyware: The Dawning Age of Ubiquitous Computing".

The web is much more than browser pages, and among other things XTech 2007 will cover:

  • ubiquitous computing and mobile devices
  • linking real life artifacts into the web
  • how the web and open data is affecting communities, businesses and science

There are many more angles to this theme, and XTech 2007 will of course also be covering the latest developments in core web and XML technologies, web browser technology, web applications and open standards and data.

The call for participation will be made available in the third quarter of 2006. To be notified of this and other XTech news, be sure to sign up to the XTech mailing list.


I hope I can manage to go there, and I hope to see you there...

Captching this blog

captchaI don't really like this kind of measures, but I've just turned on captchas on this blog. Until now the "delete spam manually" worked, but after recieving 93 comments only on saturday, checking each one of them manually and all being spam, I decided to just turn this thingie on. Hope you'll understand...

21.7.06

MySpace sucking harder

MySpace logoMySpace sucks. It's a viral social community, totally useless, that the have only two good aspects: it's userbase (it's just the most used social network) and it's music section, that, while turining MySpace into "a social network with one useful feature, and one that most other social networks do not have", sucks compared with services like PureVolume. But the user base in Web 2.0 applications is crucial and marks a difference, so MySpace is it regarding Social Networks. But it's commonly accepted that their code sucks and that they have several flaws, including security ones.

So, they did a move, that Joe Auricchio summarises as:

1. There is a flash worm spreading across MySpace. It spreads itself to users’ profile pages, by using several absolutely bone-headed security flaws with MySpace. It also directs users to an external page they may not have necessarily wanted to go to.

2. MySpace does not fix their own security problems.

3. MySpace gets Adobe to add a feature to prevent users from being directed to external pages. This, incidentally, destroys the functionality of a great many non-malicious Flash widgets users have already placed.

Good job, MySpace. You patched the symptoms and not the cause. God forbid you should actually, you know, rewrite some of your own crappy code now and then. Meanwhile you’ve pissed off a lot of innocent users.



As a matter of fact, when you go to your MySpace account, you read:

hey folks - we are moving myspace music players and video players to flash 9.0. flash 9 has security fixes so that people can't mess with you on myspace. if your 'about me' got screwed up this weekend, you could have been safe if you had flash 9 installed. here's an easy way to install it, go watch this dashboard video i posted last week. if you don't like dashboard, just watch any video in our video section, and you'll be prompted to install flash 9.


Now, wait a moment: they are recommending people to avoid their security fixes by updating a third party plugin? And that third party is Flash 9, still in beta for Mac OS X, inexistent for Linux, and that will never exist in any other OS but those three? Way to go, assholes... When myspace music players change to Flash 9 I'll just stop being a user of MySpace, since I'm a Linux user... MySpace: fuck you.

If you're also pissed off by this, consider knowing some alternatives. If you want to read more about this, you may want to start by reading Techcrunch's view on the issue.

20.7.06

Google Accessible

Google AccessibleSince I'm out to bash Google, it seems, let's look at another pearl taken out of Google Labs: Google Accessible. Making a long story short, there's a big problem nowadays in the World Wide Web - almost every page on the web lacks accessibility, which makes people like the visualy impaired to have difficulty (or even their access blocked) to access those web pages. Since Google Search's job is to give you links to websites about what you want to access, it's easy to understand the idea behind Google Accessible - a Google Search that will only show Accessible pages for that search. So, what's bad? Well, you can start by seeing that the "Google Accessible" website isn't accessible at all!

ErrorThis page does not comply with all of the automatic and manual checkpoints of the W3C Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, and requires repairs and manual verification.


Automatic CheckpointsManual Checkpoints

StatusErrorsInstancesStatusWarningsInstances
Priority 1Acceptable00Warning910
Priority 2Acceptable00Warning1619
Priority 3Error22Warning1010


Once again, joking at their costumers, just because they have many.

Google Accounts

Google AccountsGoogle Accounts is a stressing big stinky joke. It is supposed to be the way you had to be authenticated in every service from Google, and there's even an API so you can authenticate your users in your website using Google Accounts. In practice, it's the way to get multiple accounts in one service in a way that it turns out you stop being able to use it at all. Not every Google service needed a e-mail address to work as a login, Google Accounts does. And then, I have lot's of email addresses. So what? Well, it turns out that I must have more than TEN Google Accounts, and that's a messa because, for instance, in some services I have like three accounts, but account A and account B have the same account (just two different "account owners", and account B and C have the same "username" (an e-mail address, in fact) but different passwords. In some services some accounts work, in others other accounts work, grrr... WHAT A FRIGGIN' MESS! The result? For example, now I don't have any account (I know of) on Google Groups, but I recieve e-mails from some groups... which I can't avoid, since I can't unsubscribe nor reply nor ... NOTHING!

Grrr!

WWWspod

Open SourceYup, I'm a sucker and can't resist to fix something wrong when I see it, even if it is forking a dead open source project so it still exists, even if that also means more work. Yup, I'm back to 15 open source projects I contribute to.

19.7.06

Beta-testing Vox

Vox logoI've told you about Vox (previously known as Comet), and then told you that it wasn't that interesting after all.

Still, I promissed I would do a review about it as soon as I got my beta account, and since I have it now, here's a quick quick review.

Using it


It will have a really nice user experience, but for know it still has some presentation bugs. The social features are somewhat complicated, and non-experienced users might feel somewhat unconfortable using the app. As an example, let's try to find someone cool to add to my social network. Vox has the concept of "neighborhood", so I'll click there trying to find an "add more people to my neighborhood" link. No, not here, but here I have a link called "Neighbours" so let's try there. Not, not here. As a matter of fact, you can't "find new people", as it turned out. You can "Explore Vox" and look for books, videos, audio, photos and posts, but not for people. So, I searched for one tag, found nothing, searched for another and found a blog post. Clicked on that post, clicked on the guy's profile, and then saw "You're not connected to guy's nick (edit)". Had to click on edit to add him! Not so userfriendly.

The Pros


Vox has an excelent integration of concepts, and that turns your social network usefull and diverse. Using the integration with Flikr was great, and the way they just mix blogging with photos and music and books is... what you really need to create a social network that actual feels useful.

It also has a preety good use of tagging, an I'll try to explore that further.

The Cons


Blog posts are contents too, so I would expect that Vox would let me import my blogger's account content to Vox, the same what they let me import Flicker's stuff. I would use (and not just test) Vox if I could have integration with this blog: something like having an RSS reader showing the RSS of this blog instead of showing the blog I must have there would suffice.

But the thing that makes me more fearful about Vox is... censorship. If Six Apart is going to do with Vox the same thing they did to LiveJournal, this will be, then, a service to avoid.

Want more?


If you want to know more about Vox, I have some invites to give out. Just post a comment here asking one...

Web 2.0: Bubble or Not?


Web 2.0 bubble
I wrote several times about Web 2.0, and how much it is like the .com boom some years ago, in certain aspects. The issue has been debated countless times, and past week it was featured on LA Times. But some people refuse to see this as a bubble/boom, tipical attitude from those in the field.

Notice that being in the web 2.0 world, if we're facing a bubble/boom, doesn't mean that everyone on that market will fail and suffer - it only means that many people are wasting time doing vapourware.

One article I was surprised to read about this was on Postbubble, since in their launch post they said:

We’ve seen adaptation, and now its time to see the survival of the fittest. What will happen to the ten different calendar apps out there? Which social networking sites will succeed and why? What other types of applications will collective intelligence and communication spawn? How will everything fit together and how are things changing us while we change them? These are just a few of the questions and ideas that make the Web 2.0 world exciting right now and we have yet to scratch the surface.

The bottom line is that things are changing fast, and people are changing with it. The freight train of Web 2.0 isn’t slowing down and it isn’t going in one direction. On Postbubble we plan to follow right next to it and see where it goes, who it picks up, and who it leaves behind. All aboard.

Isn't this the same as saying "we're here to tell you our thoughts about who'll survive to the bubble"? It is, at least in my interpretation, but now they seem to have changed their minds, because now they're saying that

Bubbles are financial problems caused by overinflated value and I don’t think this sector is quite there yet. It might get there, but I don’t think so because the public will still be too weary to let it happen and the VC’s will naturally be a bit more “conservative” in their investments. When it comes to bubble talk, I’m sinking the whole idea.

Man, sinking the whole idea? You're sinking PostBubble, then!
There’s VC money for sure, but even that isn’t out of hand according to the numbers. The first quarter of 2006 was only 12% up in VC investment since last year which doesn’t really make me think things are wildly out of hand.

What's "being out of hand", and which numbers are you reading to get to that conclusion? If you look at other numbers, like the number of simillar social networks trying to reach the same exact market with exactly the same pros and cons, you'll see that those are out of hand. Same happens to those so-called "start pages". How to define a bubble? Well, I would say you're facing one when "an idea is so attractive and the sight of easy success is such that people start doing stupid things hoping they get financed/bought". Or something like that. I've seen too many web2.0 apps appearing (even good ones, that I'm sad they aren't here anymore) for only one week or so, and then dying because the cost of maintaining it online wasn't supported unless it had imediate tremendous success - and they hadn't. IMHO, that happens when you're in a bubble. Yet, other thoughts on the issue are appreciated.

17.7.06

Hacking Frontpage Extensions

Today one of those sites I contribute to was defaced by some stupid kiddies that claim that they deface websites because they "hate the world" or whatever. The usual asshole kiddies wanting to be known as "big hacking motherfuckers" (or 1337 h4x0rZ, or whatever they call themselves this days). They defaced something like 500 or so sites in 24 hours, trying to get a good rank in an whatever site that list them, all of them by using the same technique: exploiting frontpage extensions.

Here's a link explaining how someone can exploit those things, and I'm posting it in the hope that you open your eyes and start avoiding using Frontpage Extensions and hosting your stuff in servers with it. For those that aren't interested in reading it, let me leave you with just a quote:


The FrontPage is a wonderful world full of unexplored exploits and vulnerabilities. Its a shame more time hasn't been spent exploring this more. It also goes to show that the more we try to close doors, the more software vendors open up new ones. Forget BO2k and NetBus, Microsoft did a much better job.

On distro-based kernels



#####
#######
# # #
#" #" #
##vvvvv##
## vvv ##
# ##
## ##
### ###
+++##### ##++
++++++# #++++++
+++++++# #+++++++
+++++#######+++++
+++ +++

Some people asked me why I don't use distro-based kernels. Well, in some machines I do, because it's easier that way, but then, specially with the 2.6 kernel development model, it's so hard for a distribution to have secure kernel packages that I simply don't believe they can. And to give you an example of that, ehre's what happened to Debian GNU/Linux last week: they had a securify flaw in one of their kernel images. In this particular case, the bug does not affect Debian stable, but it does affect Debian testing, which has security support.

14.7.06

Shut [me] Up


Please teach me how to be shutted up and I'll be, seriously, because I really want to. But while I want to, I still want to shut up without the feeling that I should have spoken. So suggestions like "cut your tongue" aren't valid. Oh, and I still want to be able to feel other stuff, so "shoot yourself in the head and videotape it" isn't a valid option either.



I hear the silence,
I close my eyes,
I want to run like a river flows

I feel the distance,
I stare at the space,
I want to fly to where the wind can blow

Nevermore sorrow, no more pain, no more tears,
No more sorrow


Ashram - Nevermore Sorrow

In Your Face

One thing that really gets me frustrated (and yes, I know that probably I'm not the only one) is that people in general don't take me seriously. That is particulary frustrating when they know even before I start talking that they will think about me as fundamentalist, close-minded and extremist, so, whatever my oppinion is about something, it isn't to be taken seriously and it is probably wrong. Of course that since that happens with almost everyone, it is not their problem but mine, and I have no "shame" or something of admiting it - I just take lot's of time thinking about the reasons and what's wrong with me (or with the world - you know what they say about lunatics).

One problem is exactly that - I think too much. I absolutely believe that if I take the time to explain all the background and mindset necessary to understand why some company is evil or some product sucks, the other person (if not brainless) will understand your point and eventualy agree or refute with valuable aspects that I didn't take into consideration. The problem is that the mindset is so big that noone would stand to take all the time/concentration necessary to understand it.

Another problem is that people usually don't want to be questioned. If they live happily day by day doing something extremely wrong one a week, they don't want to know they're are doing it, and they don't even want to have an open discussion where the hypothesis of that to happen. So no, people don't want to hear about "you should stop doing that, because" or something like that.

I made my life in a different way. Most people (and I really mean most) that made their first, let's say, 20 years of life as I did became socially inaddapted. I didn't (yes, I know that's arguable) because I didn't became a gamer with no life, or a nerd (any kind of, not just computer nerd) with no life, or a music addict with no life... I had lot's of interested and used my time to explore intensivelly any of those. So, while I'm not good in making conversatins and washing dishes, or talking about soccer, there are some themes that leave me thrilled, and usually for those there are some fields I really digged at the extent of having a deep insight (and fundamented but not obvious oppinions) about. Most people that did something simillar, did about one theme and used that as a "work", using the "time taken" from the other issues to the "ordinary social stuff". That's what makes an excellent phisicist or an excellent astronomer, that, while having (as anyone) oppinions about other stuff, you take it as anyone else except (and only) in his field: I would never contest someone I value at physics on something that person says about physics - but only on that theme. When someone has deep thoughts and oppinions about so many things (and yes, of course each and everyone can be wrong, as everything and everyone) is first just looked as "weird" and then as radical, fundamentalist, and YOUR mindset defaults to thing that "he can't be well fundamented about all he says, so he's full of bullshit, even if he believes he's right".

But the biggest problem is that I'm totally "In Your Face". I don't start with introductions, I don't soften the problem, if something sucks I say it sucks, and if something is evil I'll just say "EVIL". If you told a smoker from the XVIII'th century that he should stop smoking or he would die, he would look at you as anyone looks at me when I take a judgement on something.

Now, I really have something that would improove your life quality like A LOT, and that's only because there's a little something you unconsiously do and you shouldn't. Of course that you don't want to even hear about it, so I'll probably get a PR to announce it - and as soon as you read a flyer about it, then you'll believe. The difference is that you're believing in anonymous data, and I'm just someone you consider a friend.

[PAUSE]

I've read it once, and I understand that probably you'll think I'm full of shit, egocentric and stuff like that. Please, just think that, even if all what I wrote is wrong, stupid, nonsense, egosomething or anything else, there are two things that are undoubtly true: I really pass through this kind of stuff and this really leaves me frustrated (even if you think that it happens because I'm an asshole or something like that). And I wrote this because I needed to "spit it out". Not to cause any reaction at all - just because. Yet, if you're one of those guys that think that I'm fundamentalist, or a jerk, or you don't, if you have the slightest clue of what I'm talking here, please take the time to comment on this post and tell me what you think about this issue - or something. It's the right place, the right time, and you're free to be harsh, rude, or whatever you want - I'll take every insult as positive criticism on myself :-P




Edit: Oh, and yes, I know that I suck on explaining things. And I have to explain too much background stuff I also get tired and bored. And if I'm emotionally involved in what we're talking about I'll get grumpy and unable to make my stand. I know.

OS Wars

Most people seems to think that just because I really like Linux and I really like Windows, that I like OS Wars or even discuss about that issues. That's wrong - I'm totally uninterested in such wars and I'm bored every time I have to argue about that kind of stuff. But, since it seems that it is unavoidable to have that kind of conversations, please let me just say something.

The Insult



I really like Linux, and my Linux distribution of choice is Debian. Although nothing is perfect, so there's some stuff on Debian I don't like. For instance I don't like their packaged kernel versions. So, I just (because I have the freedom to) grab a stock kernel and compile the kernel I like myself. Now, as I think I should use Linux because it's the Operating System I like the most, I think that if you prefer Windows you should use Windows. But please, don't mess with it's concepts. While in Linux you're able to change (by design) every aspect of the Operating System, in Windows you don't. One particularity of Windows that people try to forget about it that you have to pay for Windows to use it. So, if you want to use Windows, at least take the consequences about it and pay for it. If you don't want to pay to have an Operating System, then use a free (as in beer) one: it doesn't have to be Linux, there are others. But PLEASE, don't try to argue about OS's if you're a Windows user and you have an illegal copy of it - you're insulting me, Microsoft and yourself.

Usabillity



I really believe that Linux has more usabillity than Windows. I know it is arguable by concept - usabillity is all about user experience and each user is a user. Yet, if you want to argue about usabillity, please think that in an argue you have several different points of view that must be presented in order to the discussion follow its path. You cannot argue with me saying that "no way, Windows is more usable than Linux because [insert here your prespectives about the issue]" and then try to not hear, ignore or even not letting me say why I think you're wrong. Probably I didn't want to anyway, and probably it was you who raised the issue.

Graphic Cards support on Linux

Most people whine about Graphic Cards support on Linux. Let me tell you a little story about both my personal experience and my personal thoughts about the issue.

I own a ASUS M3N laptop, with an Intel graphic card. I got the first of these laptops that came to Portugal. On Windows this card gives a resolution of 1400, but in Linux it just did 1280. Now, I know that the "John Doe" doesn't know, does not even want to do the stuff I did. But I'm not "John Doe" and I wanted to do it, so when I had the time to, I tried to understand what was happening. Now, there are some specs about the card, but while the Windows drivers are made by Intel folks, the Linux drivers weren't, they were made by people that the only thing they knew about the card was what the specs say. Now, this card has a bug. Intel folks know that so they hardcoded a fix in the windows driver. Nothing on the specs, since the bug wasn't supposed to be there (or else it would not be a bug, right?). So, I reverse engeneeared the Windows drivers, to know what was the bug and how was the fix made. Then, I hacked my custom Debian Linux install so it could do something simillar. As a matter of fact, I ended hacking my card, and everytime Linux boots, the calls made to the card and it's ROM are slightly altered so I can get the 1400 resolution. I ended with a really difficult sollution that fixes the bug (instead of the workaround on windows drivers, since that OS doesn't give you the necessary freedom to fix it by software) and now I have a better support and better performance from my card in Linux than I have in Windows (or had, when I had windows installed).

I know that people shouldn't have to do the stuff I did, and I know that they do not want to do it. BUT, while I also know it is easy to blame on Linux about this and simillar (or worse) cases, first you should understand that when you buy a card with a bug, you have to bear with not having the 1400 (or whatever resolution) you wanted to. Having no time or skills to solve my own issue, I would be happilly using my laptop with 1280, and you should do the same. But the most important thing, that lead me to writting this post, is that if you got a buggy card, and if you want to whine about it, then you should whine with your card's manufacturer because he doesn't know how to do cards, or specs, or drivers, or whatever your problem might be, and not about Linux and Linux folks - they didn't do the buggy stuff, they are not to be blamed on.

And yes, I know that nowadays there are easy fixes to my card on Linux. Bare with me - I had it three years ago.

On Compiz

Yesterday I didn't post anything on this blog, so today I'm going to post one big load of things. Life hasn't been good lately, so I'm harsh, grumpy and depressed. Get ready for some hard feelings.

This one is a really quick disclaimer: COMPIZ ISN'T STABLE. COMPIZ WILL GIVE YOU PROBLEMS. IF YOU WANT TO HAVE THE WHOLE EYE-CANDY AND USABILLITY IT GIVES, I UNDERSTAND AND DON'T BLAME YOU. BUT KEEP IN MIND THAT IT OFFICIALLY ISN'T STABLE. So, please stop whining about your problems with it. BTW - why the fuck do you think that when you install your favourite Linux distribution it doesn't already come with compiz? That should give you a hint, heh?

12.7.06

Ning

Ning

I'm liking Ning, but they still have to improove. They have the concept of "bots": basicly marking a script as a bot means that that script will be executed each 30 minutes, like a cron job. So, look at this description of one of my bots, taken at 07/12 20:14 GMT:
(runs every 30 mins : last run 07/11 at 16:43 GMT)

Well, it seems that "every 30 minutes" is more like "every two days"... And this was after they said that the bots weren't broken anymore. Well, they never worked before, this time they're only late...

Live Debian


DebianMany people I know, including myself, have as his GNU/Linux distribution of choice Debian, but we all learned that having a Live CD is usefull, so we tend to have a nice Live CD of another distro, probably Debian-based (and probably Knoppix). Well, soon there will be no need of that (or now, if you're into using unstable stuff). The Debian Live iniciative plans to release (after Debian Etch AKA 3.2 releases) official Debian Live CDs, DVDs, USB-stick and netboot images for stable Debian releases. Those live-media will come bundled with debian-install, so you'll have one CD/DVD/whatever that is both the instalation for a Debian system and a Live Debian distro.

Regarding to etch itself, the Debian team is still aiming at December for the release, but at this moment there are still 268 release-critical bugs to be fixed, so one per day won't be enough...

11.7.06

Go Firefox, go!

I'm quite busy and pissed off, so I won't talk about any of those things, but won't do "my usual post". So, instead of that, I'm going to leave you today with some recent statistics (taken worldwide, from July 2006):

>





1. Microsoft IE 83.05%
2. Mozilla Firefox 12.93%
3. Apple Safari 1.84%
4. Opera 1.00%
5. Netscape 0.16%

Get Firefox

Is it just me, or 12.93% is a riding top? I don't really expect Safari or Opera to get less used, but I'm allways surprised to see people using Netscape instead of Mozilla. Yet, my predictions are that the usage of IE will keep going down (to Firefox), at least until Vista is out...

10.7.06

On Open Source Releases

Open SourceAfter a nice weekend, today I only have to tell you about some recent Open Source releases. SOAP::Lite 0.68 is out, with some fixes, so upgrading is recommended. Same is said about Pod::WSDL 0.04, released more than one year after 0.03, and that extinguishes all reported bugs. If you find some on this new version, please report them. Finaly Mamnuts 1.8.2 has been released, just three days after 1.8.1. Upgrading to 1.8.2 isn't necessary, since it only implements one new command, but the upgrade from everything *NUTS to Mamnuts 1.8.1 is highly advisable - some bugs were kicked ass.

7.7.06

Basecamp? activeCollab? goPlan?


Seems that one of the greatest news (looking for the feedback it had) today on the Web 2.0 world is that activeColab appeared, and it's free. From their description,


activeCollab

activeCollab is an easy to use, web based, open source collaboration and project management tool. Set up an environment where you, your team and your clients can collaborate on active projects using a set of simple, functional tools. 100% free!

I guess that what really hyped this new product is that the news that announced this on TechCrunch was entitled "Basecamp faces competition in free alternative.BaseCamp What many people told in the discussion, but it was kind of faded out by the bigg mass of "my ego is bigger than yourse" kind of comments, is that activeCollab isn't working in the same market as Basecamp. And you know what? What a pitty. Basecamp offers you online accounts to their application stance, running online. activeCollab is a piece of software you must download and put in your webserver, to run your own stance of it.

Now, let me tell you what would really kick ass: to have a really good application for project management that provices good means of communication between colaborators, and that fulfills the needs to every possibly interested scenario to this kind of application. Which means, an Open Source sollution, with support, that can be downloaded or used in a public stance on the wild web. Do you know any webapp that fullfills this? I don't.


We know now that activeCollab won't do that, but there's still hope... goPlangoPlan (from WeBreakStuff) is such kind of tool. I have a private beta account there, and I'm really enjoying the user experience (even if they still have stuff to tweak, hence the "private beta"), and I think I'll probably be an active user of it. And I don't know yet what will be their model to a final release: will it be online like Basecamp? Downloadable like activeCollab? Or both, like we want and need? I don't even know if they have an answer for that. What I know, is that they still have a chance to decide, and I know what decision would make goPlan be the choice.

6.7.06

Microsoft adopts ODF

ODF logoI never expected to post here a link to a Microsoft page in a post that isn't bashing on Microsoft. Well, here is is: Microsoft is going to adopt ODF. Of course that it is all because of political pressures, but the reason really doesn't matter - the result will have to suffice. As vd said,
First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, and then you win.

Lulu services


Lulu logo
A couple of days ago I mentioned Lulu.TV as one of those services that pay you for your content. That post caught Xeep Review's attention and they blogged about it. But Lulu has more services than just Lulu TV, and in this post I'm going to talk about them.

The first time I knew about Lulu, a couple of months ago, I got really excited about their service. I didn't heard about them by reading about it on a blog or something like that, I just saw an ad to their site from Merankorii's website, which is a positive point both to Lulu (because they really know how to bet in advertisement) and to Google Ads (because, that time, they really reached the objective - posting relevant ads to people that probably want to click on that particular ad).

So, what is Lulu, after all? Well, it's the easiest way I know to publish and sell books, CD's, DVD's, brochures, calendars, images and lot's of other kinds of digital media. Notice that they aren't into stuff that there are better players in (which is good, they knew how to create their own market): no t-shirts, posters and stuff like that on Lulu. You have no set-up fees, no minimum order, you have the rights over your published stuff and printing is done when ordered (so you never have excess stock).

Notice that Apple, for instance, has a service to publish photo books, and yet you see inside people excited with Lulu. Since I haven't see a complete review on Lulu, I decided to do it myself...

Generaly the idea behing Lulu is genious, and they got to acomplish right well. As a matter of fact I'm not one of their clients just because of one single factor: they are and ship from USA. So, if I wanted to print a CD there, and order something like 50 copies (which is exactly the scenario I was thinking), customs would quickly stop that order and make me pay as hell for that CD's. Hopefully they'll grow up and open an European subsidiary... But let's examin their serveral services, one by one...







BooksBooks: With Lulu you can upload a book in 32 different digital formats, and they'll turn it to a real book. Besides having all kinds of help and tuturials and templates to make your book design enjoyable, publishing a book can't really be easier than this: you just have to upload, give some info about it (like title, author,...) and that's it! Prices vary with the book format (and you have lot's of formats), number of pages and number of copies, but, for my standards (and hey, I'm not into this business) I think it is cheap. Oh, you can choose from paperback or hardcover.
BrochureBrochures: Quite similar to the Books publishing service, brochures are just like books, but without a cover. Color only, stapled, the thing I don't like in this is that brochures can only go to 20 pages, and books must have at least 32, so in some cases you might have to publish two brochure volumes instead of only one (or a thin book)...
CD's and DVD'sDiscs - CD's and DVD's: And then you have the most exciting of all (IMHO), and the one they're really the only ones doing it that I know of: publishing CD's and DVD's. You can publish Data CD's, Data DVD's, Audio CD's, Audio DVD's and Video DVD's. Disc pricing starts at $5.50 for CDs and $7.50 for DVDs. You will be given a discount on larger orders of discs. Unfortunately they don't come with UPC codes, but they're working on that.
CalendarCalendar: Making yourself a calendar is cool when you can choose the pictures featured there, and even cooler when you can add special dates (like having there printed your wedding day and giving that calendar to your wife - that kind of romantic stuff) :-P Well, Lulu lets you do that, in two types of calendars (Standard and Premium), and this service have been used mainly by photographers.
Digital MediaDigital Media: In the same fashion than the rest of the Lulu services, they let you publish digital media. That includes music, audio, video, software, images, e-books, and virtually anything. Image and e-book publishing have their own service, and video publishing is so popular that they've spinned it off from Lulu and created Lulu.TV. To a review on that just read this...