29.6.07

RIAA's members still doing drugs

popcorn

This is so riddiculous that I'm not even going to analyzise it though: just read for yourself: NBC says that P2P is making the Corn business suffer. WTF? Well, their "concept" is that P2P is one easy way of downloading movies, so people don't go to theatres, so theatres sell less popcorn, so corn farmers sell less corn. Erm... I'm speechless.

The image used is shared with an CC-BY 2.0 license.

28.6.07

The Pro-DRM argument

Finaly, after all this long, advocating against DRM, I finaly found out not only one but two Pro-DRM persons. Hey, calm down, I'm not talking about those who don't care, or those who "I would prefer not to have it, but it doesn't pisses me off". I'm not talking about companies that use them "because it's better for US". Even the content industry knows that DRM is bad: let me remind you of a statement from a Disney executive:

'If consumers even know there's a DRM, what it is, and how it works, we've already failed'

Now, what I found amazing on these two is that they really believe that DRM is good and needed. The arguments that were presented in favour of DRM were, basicly, these:

  1. Actual implementations of DRM suck but future ones can be better

  2. DRM isn't "copy restriction" technology

  3. DRM represents Author's Rights

  4. You might be able to buy a DRM-free version, for an extra cost

  5. We must have a way to protect authors from piracy

  6. Even if there are no perfect systems, DRM is getting better

  7. Bad DRM implementations get rejected by users

  8. This Internet Era is making piracy to reach really scary levels

OK, take in consideration that these are just some of those arguments, and believe me (or, if you know how to read Portuguese, check for yourself) that all arguements were refuted. For these:

  1. "Better" means "less annoying". I don't want to be annoyed, at all

  2. That doesn't mean anything, if DRM is an annoying piece of technology

  3. DRM does not represents the Author's Rights - laws do. DRM enforces a set of rights and restrictions

  4. I don't want to pay extra to get what I should in the first place. DRM takes me some freedoms, and then those who put there the DRM try to sell me those freedoms? No, thanks!

  5. As a consumer, I don't have to do nothing. As a consumer, I just don't want to be restricted from my freedoms. As an author, I don't feel vulnerable to piracy, like most authors. Don't call the intermediaries as "authors".

  6. Better is not enough. If DRM restricts me, an "almost perfect" DRM restricts me only a tiny bit. So, I'm still being restricted from my rights, just because some companies want DRM. That's no good - my freedom is not for sale.

  7. Bad DRM implementations flood the marked, and restrict consumers. I don't care what is their lifetime, if it restricts one person, one time, one little bit, it's bad.

  8. Piracy is getting bigger - so what? It's not a consumer problem, so the consumer must not suffer from it. If some companies in the industry have problems with that, well, they have to deal with it. They just can't do that by messing up with consumer's freedoms.
And so the discussion went off, until the veridict came: the final issue. Since the discussion came to an end, and not with a quit but with a conclusion, and since the pro-DRM part is still pro-DRM, and the same for the anti-DRM counterpart, then there must be a conflict of beliefs, right? Right.

The big philosophical argument:
  • [Pro-DRM:] Às vezes deve pagar o justo pelo pecador - roughly translated to "sometimes those without sins must pay for the sins of others";
  • [Anti-DRM:] I don't care about the sins of the others, I don't want to pay with my freedom because of them!



Vote on this poll!

27.6.07

OOXML in Portugal

This article is directed to the Portuguese community, so it is written in Portuguese.

O voto Português quanto à adopção ou não do formato OOXML como standard vai ser decidido no próximo dia 16 de Julho. O conjunto de pessoas que podem actualmente votar a favor ou contra essa norma é composta por oito pessoas, uma delas que preside a comissão. São assim representadas as seguintes instituições:
  • Microsoft (presidência);
  • ASSOFT;
  • ISCTE;
  • Inst. Informatica da Seg. Social;
  • Jurinfor;
  • Primavera;
  • Poder Autárquico (Alentejo);
  • Inst. Técn. Informação da Justiça.
De notar que a Microsoft é quem está a propor a passagem do OOXML a norma. Realço também que tanto o ISCTE e a Jurinfor são parceiros da Microsoft, e a ASSOFT também já estabeleceu parcerias com a mesma.

Mas, o que é que isso interessa? O formato OOXML não deve ser adoptado por várias razões, entre as quais:

  1. Já existe um standard ISO26300 chamado Open Document Format (ODF): dois standards aumenta o custo, a incerteza e a confusão na indústria, no governo e nos cidadãos;
  2. Não existe nenhuma implementação provada da especificação OOXML: o Microsoft Office 2007 produz uma versão especial do OOXML, não um formato de ficheiro que cumpra com a especificação do OOXML;
  3. Existe falta de informação no documento de especificação, como por exemplo como fazer um autoSpaceLikeWord95 ou useWord97LineBreakRules;
  4. Mais de 10% dos exemplos mencionados no standard proposto não validam como XML;
  5. Não existe nenhuma garantia de que qualquer pessoa possa escrever software que implemente total ou parcialmente a especificação OOXML sem estar sujeito às patentes detidas pela Microsoft;
  6. Esta proposta a standard entra em conflito com outros standards ISO, como a ISO 8601 (Representation of dates and times), ISO 639 (Codes for the Representation of Names and Languages) ou ISO/IEC 10118-3 (cryptographic hash);
  7. Existe um erro no formato de folha de cálculo que impede a insersão de qualquer data anterior ao ano 1900: erros como estes afectam a especificação OOXM tal como software, como o Microsoft Excel 2000, XP, 2003 ou 2007;
  8. Esta proposta a standard não foi criada através da experiência e conhecimento de todas as partes interessadas (tais como produtores, vendedores, consumidores, utilizadores e reguladores), mas apenas pela Microsoft.
O que podemos fazer para evitar que seja?

Bem, em Portugal temos duas frentes de acção: a primeira é tentar que hajam mais entidades representadas na comissão, e esse esforço já está a ser feito. A outra, talvez mais importante, é explicar qual é a nossa posição aos vários elementos da dita comissão.

Posso, até ao final do dia 12 do próximo mês, apresentar um documento que irá ser entregue aos elementos da dita comissão, para apreciação. Assim sendo, preparei um pequeno documento e estou a recolher assinaturas para mostrar qual é o sentido de voto dos Portugueses quanto a este assunto.

A tua assinatura é realmente importante.
Esta petição vai efectivamente ser lida e tomada em consideração.

Agir é fundamental! http://www.petitiononline.com/OOXMLPT/

26.6.07

A(n inoquous) Declaration of Virtual World Policy

Synthetic Worlds Initiative at Indiana University convened the second Ludium Conference this past weekend in Bloomington, and attendees were charged with hammering out a well-considered platform to guide virtual world policy. The result, unfortunately, is inoquous and says nothing:

A Declaration of Virtual World Policy
made by representatives of law, industry, and academia, assembled in full and free convention as the first Synthetic Worlds Congress.

Whereas virtual worlds are places with untapped potential, providing new and positive experiences and effects, we resolve that:

  • A self-governance group of virtual world stakeholders should be formed
  • A players’ bill of rights should be drafted
  • A universal age verification system should be created to support the individual rights of all users
  • Virtual world designers should have freedom of expression
  • Virtual worlds should include plain-language End-User License Agreements (EULA) to enable all individuals to understand their rights
  • There are different types of virtual worlds with different policy implications
  • Access is critical to virtual worlds, so net neutrality must be maintained Game developers shall not be liable for the actions taken by players
  • Fair use may apply in virtual worlds that enable amateur creation of original works

Now, lets see... I'll take as an example, my own little Virtual World:

A self-governance group of virtual world stakeholders should be formed. In my VW, GOD's govern. I am the only GOD at the moment, and I decide who else can get to be a GOD.

A players’ bill of rights should be drafted. In my VW, players have the right to do whatever they want to, but if they piss me off, they'll suffer the consequences, like, for instance, the wrath of the GODs.

A universal age verification system should be created to support the individual rights of all users. In my VW, any user has the right to go there to do anything they have the right to do (check above), whatever its age. The verification is automatic: if it's logging in, then it has an age, and any age is suitable. Welcome :-)

Virtual world designers should have freedom of expression. Of course, in my VW anywone has freedom of expression. They have other freedoms also, like reacting in any way of their choice to what others express.

Virtual worlds should include plain-language End-User License Agreements (EULA) to enable all individuals to understand their rights. Yup, in my VW users have a plain-language "rules file" (simmilar to an EULA). The latest version, created a couple of years ago, says (free translation to English) "The are no defined rules at the moment".

There are different types of virtual worlds with different policy implications. Erm... Thanks for elucidating me. What's the point?

Access is critical to virtual worlds, so net neutrality must be maintained Game developers shall not be liable for the actions taken by player. Erm... Excuse me? Access is critical to VW's, yes, so VW developers should take that into account when developing their VW's, or else they'll suck. What has that to do with net neutrality or liability? And of course that people should be the ones liable to their own actions, duh...

Fair use may apply in virtual worlds that enable amateur creation of original works. May? May is the same as saying "Can", it's not a "Must" nor a "Should", so this sentence this nothing at all. Virtual Worlds may have between 1000 and 4000 users, for instance. So what?
The government should provide a comprehensive package of funding for educational games research, development, and literacy. Intriguing. I also think that Governments should provide funding for education, including that related to Virtual Worlds. But what does it have to do with anything?

OK, you might be a little confused now on what is this all about. My point here is that even my little VW complies with everything of this - ever complied - and that's not because it is a great of a thing (well, it's a successful VW, if you take into consideration that it has already 9 years, and no signs of dying). What I'm trying to say is that this is just an attempt to create hype about Virtual Worlds, instead of doing reall stuff to really enhance the VW's development...

I guess I'm just tired of allways seeing the same agenda, here, in the Metaverse Roadmap...

Do you know what I really think the VW's world need? Less comercial interests, more genuinity. Start working on that, and Virtual Worlds will see brighter and brighter days soon enough...

25.6.07

DRM action in Portugal

DRM is a rip off

This post is directed for Portuguese people, so it goes on in Portuguese:

A Associação para a Promoção e o Desenvolvimento da Sociedade da Informação (APDSI), vai apresentar publicamente um estudo sobre Gestão de Direitos Digitais (DRM), no próximo dia 28 de Junho de 2007, em Lisboa.

O drm-pt está a organizar uma acção de sensibilização para esse dia. Vê como podes ajudar!

Say NO to the Microsoft Office format as an ISO standard

You know Office? Yeah, that tool people use for producting documents, of almost any type: memos, reports, books, spreadsheets, charts, presentations, word processing documents... So, nowadays
we have an Open Standard for such documents: ODF (OpenDocument Format). If you're into this issue, you may already know that Microsoft has their own new format, Office Open XML (OOXML), and they're trying to make it also an ISO standard.

Why is it bad?

  1. There is already a standard ISO26300 named Open Document Format (ODF): a dual standard adds costs, uncertainty and confusion to industry, government and citizens;
  2. There is no provable implementation of the OOXML specification: Microsoft Office 2007 produces a special version of OOXML, not a file format which complies with the OOXML specification;
  3. There is missing information from the specification document, for example how to do a autoSpaceLikeWord95 or useWord97LineBreakRules;
  4. More than 10% of the examples mentioned in the proposed standard do not validate as XML;
  5. There is no guarantee that anybody can write a software that fully or partially implements the OOXML specification without being liable to patent damages or patent license fees by Microsoft;
  6. This standard proposal conflicts with other ISO standards, such as ISO 8601 (Representation of dates and times), ISO 639 (Codes for the Representation of Names and Languages) or ISO/IEC 10118-3 (cryptographic hash);
  7. There is a bug in the spreadsheet file format which forbids to enter any date before the year 1900: such bugs affects the OOXML specification as well as software versions such as Microsoft Excel 2000, XP, 2003 or 2007.
  8. This standard proposal has not been created by bringing together the experience and expertise of all interested parties (such as the producers, sellers, buyers, users and regulators), but by Microsoft alone.

If you agree with me and also think that these are reasons enough for a rejection of OOXML as a standard, please sign this petition!

23.6.07

OSC sues BBC over anti-trust accusations

Following the protests on BBC DRM'ing everything, OSC is now sueing BBC:

It's not only about DRM, but the use of proprietary (Microsoft) formats and the demand of the use of iPlayer.

Cisco's iPhone

This WAS a picture I took from a Cisco magazine... The funny thing is that this is their latest issue, and the article is about nothing new... But their iPhone branded stuff. It's fun to see that they're using Apple's iPhone hype (the hype behind the brand iPhone) to try to cativate people to their stuff... ;-)

You don't see the picture there because the service hosting it decided to remove it without warning. BAH.

21.6.07

The Record Industry's Decline

While I don't agree with everything in it, Rolling Stone has an interesting article talking about the record industry's decline, and basicly telling that, against what they claim, it isn't piracy's fault but their own. But my favourite quote is in the beggining:
"Here we have a business that's dying. There won't be any major labels pretty soon."

That's right, I really believe that that's true, and I strongly believe that that's good news. Major Labels in the last decades told us what to listen, now we can choose for ourselves. Isn't that awsome?

How many programmers does it take to change a light bulb?


>> How many programmers does it take to change a light bulb?

On Wed, 14 Jan 1998, Paul Bleisch wrote:

> What are light bulbs?

On Thu, 15 Jan 1998, Steve Baker replied:

Oh dear. I wish people would RTFM...

---------------------------------------------------------------------
lightbulb(1) lightbulb(1)

NAME
lightbulb - Convert electrons to photons

SYNOPSIS
lightbulb [-wattage number]

DESCRIPTION
lightbulb reads a stream of electrons from standard input and
produces photons on standard output.
Thus

lightbulb <110_volts_ac >light

The following options apply to lightbulb:

-wattage Sets the rate at which electrons are converted
to photons.

FILES
None

SEE ALSO
xmas_tree_lights(1), streetlamp(1), led(2)

KNOWN BUGS
lightbulb is known to fail unexpectedly after some unknown
number of applications. Repeated complaints to the authors
of lightbulb have failed to come up with a fix for this
bug. The only known workaround for a crashed lightbulb is
re-installation from a fresh copy of the source media.

NOTES
I believe M$ Windows is based on lighbulb because they
share the same bug - and the same workaround.

It is important to ensure that the input stream is correctly
formatted or the lightbulb may crash unexpectedly and with
undefined results.

Do not attempt to apply lightbulb's input files to other
UNIX tools (esp. 'finger(1)'), however, lightbulb's output
stream is fairly compatible with most other devices.

INSTALLATION
Consult a hardware engineer.

PREREQUISITES
Your operating system must support sockets and switches.

Taken from here.

fixed_width

The image “http://imgs.xkcd.com/comics/fixed_width.png” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.
Courtesy of xkcd.

Google buying Apple? nah...

Rumours started about Google wanting to buy Apple... But I just don't believe it, at least not in a couple of years...

Simple Spark: Your Web 2.0 directory

Simple Spark

Bookmark this link. No, seriously. You know that feeling of "I'm sure there's an web app that does this", or the "what was the name of that web 2.0 service I've heard about?"... Well, Simple Spark is a simple idea that simply aims to fix that moments for you. It's quite easy: you just go there, search for something and get as a result a list of web 2.0 applications on that field. For example a search for wine gives 17 results, and theird apps catalog now surpasses the 3000 apps.

20.6.07

Poptopus out of private beta

I've talked about Poptopus before, saying that
"they make widgets with songs submited by artists, and that widgets contain ads. That means that a blogger, for instance, can have a music player with songs of his choice in its website, and the revenue from the ads in there are splited between the blogger, the artist of the tracks presented there, and Poptopus, of course"

PoptopusNow, Poptopus has silently come out of private beta, but they're still silent since the ads are still fake ("for testing purposes" is the proper term), and artists and bloggers are still without earning money from this.

The service is actualy quite good for what they aim to do, even if they still have some technical issues, and some stuff should be added, like ways to change the widget style for a better integration with your blog (see screenshot of the widget).

All in all, I think that, without being a killer service, Poptopus is preety cool for its niche market: if you already see people embeding in their blogs music widgets, I only see advantages for them to use Poptopus instead of any other, specially because they can choose the music they want to air, do their own playlists, and there are few music playback widgets as usable as this one. For those bloggers, this would be the best choice I know of, even if just to use it as it is now - without getting money out of it. But then you use it and can even make money from it... Isn't it just great? For musicians this is preety cool too. You can stream the music you want, in mp3 format with the quality ratio you want (they aren't re-encoded), people will spread the word about your music, and if someone points to a track they'll see an image of the album cover and, if they click, they'll go to the page of your choice (your official website, or an online store... whatever you want!). Once again, here I can only see advantages even forgeting the fact that you'll end getting paid for it!

PS -> If you're pondering on using Poptopus' widget, please consider playing one of Merankorii's tracks (Merankorii being my own musical project) ;-)

Yahoo! to buy MySpace?

Rumors are saying that Yahoo! wants to buy MySpace from News Corp, in exchange for a 25% stake of itself. I'm quite curious on how will this reflect on Yahoo! stocks today, since I imagine that most investors that aren't that well into technology will think that the over-hyped MySpace is a good target, even if those who are more insighted on the social networking world see that the deal would be really bad for Yahoo!, specially because of the late boom of Facebook, that some people already predict that will overcome MySpace.

BTW, Yahoo!'s market capitalization was $37 billion at close yesterday, meaning a quarter stake in the firm would be around $12.3 billion.

19.6.07

Opera Mini vs. iPhone

Whatch the video or download it as Flash or Ogg theora here.

This publicity comes with the release of the beta version of Opera Mini 4. From the example videos of it, it seems that they took lots of ideas from Nokia's Mini Map, from which they heard about for the first time at XTech'06. Advantadge goes to Opera, even if they're late, since Opera Mini runs on (almost) every cellphone, while Mini Map only runs on Nokia's S60 phones...

Draft Blogger

If you use Blogger (or Blogspot) Draft Blogger might be for you. This alternate link will give you an alternative version of your blogger dashboard, where upcoming features are tested before going out for production. Using their words,
Blogger in draft is a special version of Blogger where we try out new features before we release them to everyone.

preload

preload is an adaptive readahead daemon. It monitors applications that users run, and by analyzing this data, predicts what applications users might run, and fetches those binaries and their dependencies into memory for faster startup times.

Great to speed up your linux desktop instalation, homepage here.

Is this the future?


Is this the future?

18.6.07

Can you please sue Microsoft?

I get extremely pissed off every time I stumble upon something like this page. This is an official Microsoft manual where they're "teaching" how to format text on CSS documents, in this case the so-called "word-wrap Attribute". Now, let me quote W3C on this: "Property word-wrap doesn't exist : break-word". In fact, if you go and see the standard, CSS 2, nothing there about it. If you go to the upcoming versiona, CSS 2.1, still not final and thus not a standard, nothing there about it. Oh, but you can find it... on the CSS 3 proposal. Too bad that CSS 3 is yet to be released, and there are no plans to see it out soon. Also, only the latest version of IE implements CSS 2... so why are they recommending CSS 3 stuff?

Microsoft: wanting the world full of garbage since... ever.

Browsershots

Browsershots makes screenshots of your web design in different browsers. It is a free open-source online service created by Johann C. Rocholl. When you submit your web address, it will be added to the job queue. A number of distributed computers will open your website in their browser. Then they will make screenshots and upload them to the central server.

Excelent tool if you want to see the aspect of your site in different browsers and operating systems... Here.

GNUnet 0.7.2 released

GNUnet is a framework for secure peer-to-peer networking that does not use any centralized or otherwise trusted services. A first service implemented on top of the networking layer allows anonymous censorship-resistant file-sharing. GNUnet uses a simple, excess-based economic model to allocate resources. Peers in GNUnet monitor each others behavior with respect to resource usage; peers that contribute to the network are rewarded with better service.

Download GNUnet 0.7.2 here. gnunet-gtk is a separate download and can be found here.

GNUnet 0.7.2 is largely compatible with GNUnet 0.7.1. Updating should be unproblematic, requireing only minor changes to the configuration file. Read the UPDATING file for details. GNUnet 0.7.2 peers should be able to communicate with 0.7.1-peers (but not with 0.7.0 peers). The compatibility transport, tcp_old, is no longer supported (you must update your configuration file to remove it). Please note that this is still a beta release; the first actually stable version will be called 1.0.0 and is likely to still be at least a year away.
The main change for 0.7.2 is the addition of support for non-anonymous downloads using direct connections and a distributed hash table (DHT). When you upload a file with anonymity-level zero this new method will be used if the user on the other side also specifies anonymity-level zero for search and download. Non-anonymous operations are also always used concurrently; shaing a file with anonymity-level zero will also make it available for anonymous download. Similarly, a file shared with non-zero anonymity-level will be found during a search with anonymity-level zero. In general, for any file the largest anonymity-level specified by both sender and receiver will be used for the transfer.
Most of the smaller changes made for 0.7.2 have focused on adding automatic testcases and improving stability and correctness. Furthermore, all features that were removed from gnunet-gtk as part of the major changes for the 0.7.0 release have been added back. Developers should note that there were some minor API changes and extensions (for example, to support gnunet-fuse).
Noteworthy improvements since GNUnet 0.7.1:
  • Implemented non-anonymous file-sharing (anonymity-level zero) using DHT
  • Implemented tracking of history of our interaction with a particular URI (this is used to highlight which files have been successfully downloaded in the past, or which downloads were aborted previously)
  • Implemented heuristic for better packing of gnunet-directories
  • Added new API to make it easier to start a dozen gnunetd processes when writing testcases
  • Added support for namespaces to gnunet-gtk
  • Added peer tab showing gnunet-peer-info-like information in gnunet-gtk
  • Fixed many bugs in testcases
  • Fixed issues with the handling of certain command-line options (-L, -H)
  • Fixed various bugs causing problems with peers not connecting properly
  • Fixed bug in routing algorithm that reduced its effectiveness
  • Fixed (rare) deadlock in gnunet-gtk
GNUnet 0.7.3 is supposed to be released in August, and hopefully will have the chat support basics. Check the extensive roadmap here.

16.6.07

Dwelling Showcase - Live @ Coimbra's FNAC

Yesterday I went to Dwelling's showcase at Coimbra's FNAC, where they played some tracks for promotion of their latest album, "Ainda É Noite".

15-06-07_2225

The gig was quite awsome, and I got the idea that they're even better live than on CD. Unfortunately it was just a showcase, with only 4 songs presented and less than 30 minutes of show. At the end, I didn't bought (yet) their CD, but I hope I'll have the chance of seeing a full concert from them and buying the CD directly to the band.

Here's a small low-quality video of one of the songs...

15.6.07

Microsoft eats yet another Linux distro

Linspire was called Lindows, Microsft sued them. Now, following their moves with Novell and more recently Xandros, Microsoft made a patent deal with Linspire.

As for me, it's just yet another dead Linux distro.

13.6.07

SDF Celebrates 20 Years

I used to be a SDF'er until the time that non-USA residents had to make a donation to confirm their will to be a member :-P Yet, it's great to see such an effort, and to see an effort like this to reach it's 20th aniversary. Here's the press release:

The SDF Public Access UNIX System Celebrates 20 Years!
http://sdf.lonestar.org

It was on June 16th, 1987 that the SDF-1 received its first caller at 300bps. This little Apple ][e BBS of the late 80s turned into a Public Access UNIX System with the demise of "killer.dallas.tx.us" during the "Operation Sundevil" raids. Since then it has grown to become the oldest and largest continually operating PUBNIX on the planet.

Over the years SDF has been a home to 2+ million people from all over the world and has been supported by donations and membership dues. SDFers pride themselves on the fact that theirs is one of the last bastions of "the real INTERNET", out of the reach and scope of the commercialism and advertising of the DOT COM entities. It is a proponent of SMTP greylisting as opposed to content filtering and offers that as an option to its members.

While access to basic services are free to everyone, lifetime membership can be obtained for a mere onetime donation of $36. And it is the members who decide which programs and features are available. The members communicate via a web free, google inaccessible, text bulletin board ('bboard') as well as an interactive chat ('com') where users battle each other in the integrated netris matches. The interface of these programs harks back to the days when TOPS-20 CMD J-SYS ruled the ARPANET.

SDF has also become home to well known hackers such as Bill Gosper, Tom Ellard (Severed Heads), Geoff Goodfellow, Carolyn Meinel and Ezra Buchla, son of the father of the Synthesizer. From this pool of talent you might expect more than just computing, and you'd be correct. An annual music compilation is published featuring original music ranging from electronic noise to improvised piano sonatinas. Gosper's puzzles which he has cut at his favorite laser shop are frequently given away as membership perks or through fundraising raffles.

There are always classes being taught on SDF as well, where instructors and students enjoy free access to the latest teaching and programming tools. Instructors manage their own classes in such a way as not to be encumbered by their own school's outdated utilities or computer security restrictions, which can hamper the learning process.

And where else would you expect to be able to locally dialup at 1200bps from just about anywhere in the USA and Canada with a Commodore 64 and get a login prompt? SDF! As well as direct login, SDF offers PPP and PPPoE via analogue dialup (1200bps - 56kbps), ISDN and DSL. Members also have access to the SDF VPN (Virtual Private Network) and Dynamic Domain Name Service.

One of the many interesting and esoteric aspects of life on the SDF-1 is GOPHER. All users have access to their own GOPHER space and a number of them continue to find it a useful way to share text and data. And if you don't want to relive that past, SDF's 'motd.org' project offers a collaboration amongst members to share source and security tweaks for the latest wikis, web forums, photo galleries and blogs.

SDF runs NetBSD on a cluster of 12 DEC alphas with 3 BGP'ed T1s linking it to the INTERNET. It is an annual supporter of the NetBSD foundation and the Computer History Museum (CA). One of its original incarnations, an AT&T 3B2/500, is displayed annually at the Vintage Computer Festival.

12.6.07

Music: get it for free but give bands money

Finaly a new trend started: one where users can download music for free and bands still get payed. We have several players on that field:

  • Grooveshark - I've talked about it before, but I have to write more extensively about it. There are a number of reasons why I think it will fail, and it is not the best solutions for fans and artists... In this p2p service users share their music as they're used to in other p2p networks, but now it's supposedly legal to do so. Each time a shared file is downloaded the user gets money for it - but if you want to download music you also have to pay. From the transactions, Gooveshark takes a bite and copyright holders also get a share - if they sign a deal with GrooveShark.
  • ReverbNation is a music social network, similar to those such as PureVolume, or MySpace Music. The thing is, they'll add "Fair Share" to the network in July. FairShare is basicly a system that makes artists recieve a share of the publicity revenue ReverbNation has when someone is listening to their music. People get music for free, artists get paid. I, for one, can't wait for July.
  • Poptopus isn't a music social network, or something that lets bands have pages. Instead, they make widgets with songs submited by artists, and that widgets contain ads. That means that a blogger, for instance, can have a music player with songs of his choice in its website, and the revenue from the ads in there are splited between the blogger, the artist of the tracks presented there, and Poptopus, of course. Once again, yet another source of incoming. Their closed beta is going to start soon.
  • We7, also yet to be launched, also lets users download music for free and pays artists, with ads revenue. The downside here is that the ads are audio ads inserted at the beginning of the music file, which kind of cuts off the music experience. It would be great if ReverbNation and Poptopus weren't in the field, this way... Nah.
  • Playble is yet another to be released service that will "allow users to download music by artists for free and still support them financially. Playble.com will give companies with strong brands the opportunity to support music and artists directly". Unfortunately there are no more details about it yet...
  • Finaly, yesterday the blogosphere started talking about RCRD LBL, a netlabel that will release its artists' music as free DRM-free mp3's and yet pay them with ads revenue. Not as good as ReverbNation's offering in the aspect that any artist can sign in into ReverbNation, but not into RCRD LBL. Yet, for an artist signed on this one, the revenue must be way bigger...


Do you feel there's something missing here? Please leave a comment and tell me. I can't but predict that we'll have interesting times in the music industry during the next months...

10.6.07

Free the BBC

According to Defective By Design, Binary Freedom just launched FreeTheBBC.info with an open letter to the BBC regarding their decision to use proprietary formats and DRM despite overwhelming public comment early this year in support of open formats and content free of DRM.

I've already signed the petition, and you?

8.6.07

Mitsai

Note to self: don't ever buy Mitsai CD's, even if they're almost free. I knew they shouldn't be very good, but buying a bunch of CDs and having all of them screwed? Damn!

7.6.07

Designing for the Web with mobile devices in mind


Paulo Silva has an excelent introduction to the "W3C Mobile Web Best Practices". Since I find this an extremely important issue, and mostly disregarded, I took the liberty of translating his article from Portuguese to English. All kudos should go to him for the article, my job here is merely that of translation.

W3C logoThose that nowadays produce web content must have in mind that lots of the accesses are made from mobile terminals, like cellphones, PDAs and such other devices, where limitations are big.

To reflect that, W3C has being compiling the “Mobile Web Best Practices” that gather a set of techniques to make the mobile devices experience more joyful.

MWBP Working Group's work can be followed at http://www.w3.org/blog/BPWG/ and the first documents are already available:


Mobile Web Best Practices 1.0 - Basic Guidelines document

specifies best practices for Web content when accessed from mobile devices

MobileOK Basic Tests 1.0

defines machine tests based on the Best Practices to help identify Web content developed with mobile devices in mind; these tests fits in the larger mobileOK marks scheme



At the moment there's a betavalidator” that, for curiosity, I used to test http://m.gmail.com with the following results. It's important to note that, besides being beta, this “validator” implements only 34 of the 60 directives.

I take the opportunity to leave you a link to a set of articles from Roger Johansson about developing content for mobile devices.

Vacations - Second Wave


After some small vacations one month ago, now it's time for my second of four vacation waves for 2007. This vacations are also going to be spent in Coimbra. Time to get some rest, both mental and physical. I also expect to find some time to give a bump to several personal projects of mine, but the key things this time are going to be mostly to get some rest, free my mind from those things that are lately haunting it and spend quality time with Paula. The vacations will last until the 17th, so don't expect much online activity from me (including mail feedback) these days.

5.6.07

Palestra Sobre DRM - Marcos Marado @ LPM2007

Three months ago I went to Moita to talk about DRM. The video is finaly online:



Please go easy on me: I was damn sick, so it didn't went as nice as I wanted to...

Anti-DRM T-Shirt contest

anti drm tee shirt contest design
Torrent Freak is doing an anti-DRM t-shirt contest, go there to see cool t-shirt designs and to vote on your favourite!

Planeta Asterisco moves to PrintScreen

This post is in Portuguese, since it refers to a Portuguese community where this blog participates.

prt.sc print screen

... mudou-se ?

Se costumava ler o antigo Planeta Asterisco, este agora tem uma cara nova e mudou de endereço. Agora chama-se PrintScreen (Prt.Sc) e compromete-se a apanhar os últimos artigos dos blogs agregados.

... mas, o que aconteceu aos endereços que usava?

O endereço http://planeta.asterisco.pt e http://asterisco.paradigma.pt deixam de existir e pode passar a consultar a mesma informação (com mais novidades em breve), no novo endereço Prt.Sc. A RSS Feed que usava para os artigos passa estar aqui: http://prt.sc/feeds.

Boa! Quero ver mais ...

Boa navegação!

RIAA Accused of Extortion and Conspiracy

riaa_toiletpaper

RIAA Accused of Extortion and Conspiracy in Tampa, Florida, case, UMG v. Del Cid.

Here you'll get the news and links for the news in various sources, commentary and discussion.

Diary, Monday, 24 March 2036

prision

We are at the 24th of March, 2036. In a prision, imprisoned for violating copyright, for the possession and use of age-old music and movies without permission, one man writes a diary.

I found the text awsome, but, then, I'm a fan of dystopias, and also quite interested in the copyright freedom movement... But even for those who aren't, you should try and read it - a great literary piece, above all. Here's a translation to Portuguese.

4.6.07

One less Linux distro

As far as I'm concerned, Xandros is dead, as much as SuSE is.

From TechCrunch:
Microsoft has announced a new deal with Linux outfit Xandros that is similar to the Microsoft-Novell tie-up of last year coming complete with Intellectual property assurance.
So, who will be the next ones to sell their souls?

Weekend

81Weekend, grandious weekend.

Went to Coimbra friday night, ate something on the way and ended the night talking with Paula, turning the hands dirty with the newspaper, talking about music and hearing Dwelling (that will make a showcase in Coimbra preety soon) and Tenhi (finally I have Kauan's edition with two bonus tracks).

While Oriente's CD fair isn't nice at all, my saturday was marked with a visit to the Quebra Costas market in Coimbra, looking to used books and a big load of used records...

A nice end of afternoon was passed in Tuttimedia's offices having a nice chat, and then getting ready for a travel to Porto, to attend to "Enough Dark Ambient" concert, where Falésia was going to be given. And so I went, it was a great event and in a great venue. Arriving after 5am, I was damn tired, and still am - I guess I'm getting old...

I took a lot of ideas for Merankorii from that concert, tho, so, Sunday, while heading to and on the train to Lisbon I started to make some ideas to start taking form. Also, I used that time to read some stuff on text-based virtual worlds, and also took some ideas from it.

Paula borrowed me the first season DVD of "My Family", and I wanted to see a couple of episodes of it on the train, but - guess what - while the DVD states that "This disc has been produced to meet or exceed all relevant DVD specifications", they keep going saying that "Should you experience playback problems, please contact your hardware manufacturer", which I won't. I plugged the DVD into my drive, and didn't manage to watch it because the DVD is corrupted (while they say they follow DVD specs, which they don't) and the justification is also written on the DVD box: a symbol saying "Copy Protected Macrovision", which is the same to say that this DVD has some sort of DRM that is keeping me from viewing it. Way to go, assholes, you just lost one potencial customer.

I just uploaded the gig's pictures, so, if you're interested, see part I and part II.

1.6.07

Links for the weekend

Meme

'If consumers even know there's a DRM, what it is, and how it works, we've already failed'
Peter Lee, an executive at Disney


I've talked about memes on this blog before. One of them was about the use of memes on Planet Debian (an usual thing there), and how Planets can help the Open Source world. Another time it was a meme with my top ten unix shell commands. But those were not the only ones... Anyway, some memes are just that "units of information", while others are themed (like the top ten commands one), some are presented (I just write the meme and who wants follows the trend) while others are requested (you're asked to follow a meme chain, and when you do it you nominate others to do the same).

Paula just told me to follow a meme (post in Portuguese), and I decided to reply with that quote of a Disney executive simply claiming that DRM er... sucks. I chose this theme since it is about something I blog a lot about, and I chose this quote since it is not only from a DRM adopter but also telling that DRM is bad. A quote both shocking and amusing, unfortunately not as widespread as it should be. On the choice of people to reply to this post, I'll only choose people that blog in English (so readers of this blog can go fetch the replies) and that the chance of replying is big (I hope).

So, the call goes out to André Ribeirinho, Hugo Silva and Nuno Mariz. The choice was made in a simple way: I fetched three bloggers from this Planet that blog in English and that, while I don't know them IRL, their blogs make me curious about them.

AllOfMP3 dead? Long Live MP3 City!

Today, in a couple of hours, the new Russian law that will make AllOfMP3 illegal will be passed and activated. A good description about what is AllOfMP3 and what's the case behind it is here:

AllofMP3.com is a small Russian company which has become the international poster child for attacks on independent music download sites.

By itself, it probably doesn't represent much of a genuine threat to the labels or studios. But if it's allowed to survive and prosper, its existence would certainly encourage other entrepreneurs to adopt the same marketing approach - DRM-free downloads at reasonable prices - which would result in serious competition for the corporate cartels which, until the Net became universally adopted, had been able to control virtually everything ordinary people saw or heard.

Competition is good: it promotes free choice. But neither 'choice' nor 'competition' are words found in cartel lexicons. So a massive, and ongoing, multi-million-dollar campaign has been mounted against AllofMP3.com by the cartels, with the record labels to the fore.

Leading it on behalf of the labels and other vested interests is the US administration, which has brought its full weight down on a handful of people in another country who dare to compete with Warner Music, EMI, Vivendi Universal and Sony BMG, with the major movie studios and software houses lurking darkly in the background.

In rich irony, only Warner Music can be said to be truly American. And even it's run by Canadian. The other three members of the Big 4 music cartel are EMI, Vivendi Universal and Sony BMG, based in Britain, France, Japan and Germany, respectively.

In other words, the US government is generously spending money provided by American tax payers to help four foreign companies maintain an iron grip on a market whose openness would benefit American artists as much, if not more, than artist in other countries.

Nor does it appear anyone in either the United States Trade Representative Office, which is behind much of the US-mounted pressure on AllofMP3.com, nor music industry 'trade' organizations, such as the IFPI (International Federation of Phonographic Industry), have made any effort to talk directly with AllofMP3.com executives to find a way to reach an accord.

But if you want to see how high they go, take a look at this: according to Reuters, US Trade Representative Susan Schwab said:

"I have a hard time imagining Russia becoming a member of the WTO and having a Web site like that [AllofMP3.com] up and running that is so clearly a violation of everyone's intellectual property rights"

Of course that what is legal and what is not all depends on the standing legislation, and AllOfMP3 are under Russian laws.

While DCC's Russell McOrmond (DCC is Digital Copyright Canada, Canada's RIAA) says that

While AllOfMP3.com may be perfectly legal for Russian customers, it is not legal for them to sell to foreign customers. Copyright and licensing need to be analysed domestically, and you can't say that what is legal in Russia allows you to do something in Canada or the USA

Any lawyer will tell you that that's not true: AllOfMP3 is legal on Russia, and their license lets them sell worldwide (according to their exportation laws). The only way you can make illegal for Canadian or American people to buy stuff from AllOfMP3 is for those countries to actively forbid those transactions. In that case, their citizens are forbidden to buy from AllOfMP3, but still AllOfMP3 have the right to sell their music to Americans or Canadians.

Anyway, nothing of that really matters, since Russia will change their laws today, to ilegalize AllOfMP3.

I thought of changing this blog's layout to a black theme for a day, or talking about sweet, nice and cool alternative online stores, like Amie Street. But that wouldn't really be an article that would piss RIAA off, if they were to read this, right?

So, I've searched and came out with a better music service to talk about: MP3 City. First of all, MP3 City sells mp3 files, no .wmv's and such. The files are all DRM-free, and untagged. Like in AllOfMP3, here you can find lot's of kinds of music, from underground stuff until major label's artists. Damn, you can already buy there Marilyn Manson's "Eat Me, Drink Me", an album that is only to be released in four days, or Paul McCartney's "Memory Almost Full", also to be released next week. And you know what? $1.76 is the price for Marilyn Manson's album, $2.08 for Paul McCartney's. No, I'm not talking about one track, I talking about the whole album, in DRM-free MP3 files encoded at 320kbps.

As cool as AllOfMP3, right? Cooler in fact, since MP3 City is also legal with Author's distribution rights granted by State Enterprise "Ukrainian Agency on Copyright and Related Rights" (UACRR), and, as far as I know, Ukrain isn't (still) being pressed to change their laws.

Eat this, suckers!