31.10.07

Berlin, here I go

Wow, what a couple of days. I've been preparing everything, both at a professional an a personal level, and I've been really really busy. The few free moments I had this last couple of days were dedicated to work some more on my musical project Merankorii [1].

I'm going to be in two birthdays of two close persons (one in Portugal, the other already in Berlin), maybe (but I doubt) a quick visit to Barcamp Berlin [2], then Web 2.0 Expo Berlin 2007 [3], where I count to meet a lot of cool people, besides the obvious conference itself. If you're also going to Web 2.0 Expo Berlin 2007 [3] and want to meet me, just indicate so in my Web 2.0 Berlin profile [4]. I still don't know about monday, but tuesday I'll go to the Berlin at Night party [5], and wednesday to 1st Girl Geek Dinner Deutschland in Berlin [6] and maybe an Elis concert [7]. Thursday is the last day of the expo, so after it I might visit (at last!) K17, and assist to a somewhat random gig [8]. The rest? Well, I'm going to be there until sunday, so I want to use the time to rest (a lot) and visit the city. Thanks to a friend I have a cool guide of the city, but I still have to look it for more than 30 seconds... The only thing I already know is that the guide has a section of cool music stores, so I'll probably do some shopping :-) Also, I'll follow some of the recomendations you people left here on the blog (thanks!) and by e-mail.

Taking into consideration the quality of the stuff I want to attend at the Expo and the number of people I want to talk to and that wants to talk with me, I think I'll probably won't have the change to liveblog the event, nor even to do such an in-depht summary as I did for XTech last year. Still, you should expect some notes on this blog from monday to thursday.

[1] - http://www.reverbnation.com/merankorii
[2] - http://barcampberlin2.mixxt.de/
[3] - http://berlin.web2expo.com/
[4] - http://web2berlin.crowdvine.com/profiles/6095
[5] - http://berlin.web2expo.com/conference/berlin-night.php
[6] - http://upcoming.yahoo.com/event/240276/
[7] - http://www.last.fm/event/214616
[8] - http://www.last.fm/event/289216

29.10.07

Record Tapes

Merankorii/Bardic Wisdom split tapeThis text was written friday night, offline.

I heard three times already this year that "record tapes aren't commercialized anymore". The third time was today, after having a morning conversation with Nuno Nunes, where, among other things, I was telling him I had just ordered one CD and one Tape.

What comes to surprise to most people is not only that record tapes are still commercialized, but, mostly, that record tapes are being released nowadays, and people really buy them. My case? It's the seventh record tape I got this year, from which three of them were released in 2006 and two in 2007. Why get record tapes instead of CD's? Well, as scary as it might sound to you, I actually know people that prefer record tapes to CD's. But in my case, I (almost) always try to get the CD release, but sometimes it is sold out and other times there's no CD release of that album. Like I usually avoid to buy digital music (even if there's no physical release of that album), I also usually avoid buying a cassette even if there's no CD release. But there are some records you need to have, right?

Finally, I recall Nuno Nunes telling me, when he moved to his new home, that he still had no other way to listen to music at home but listening to his vinyl records (which was being surprisingly good since he was listening to some great stuff he wasn't listening as often as he wanted to). I also recall him buying Dead Combo's latest record (released in vinyl only). So we're really in the same position here: besides using the computer the only way I have at the moment to listen to music (something I want to fix this weekend, BTW) is listening to tapes. Also, I buy tapes when I don't have how to buy the same album as a CD.

In conclusion: record tapes are not dead. There's still a market for them, believe it or not. They are still manufactured (there's one company in Portugal doing it), pressed and sold. Also, there's still those who like the format, being their preferred format or not. Yes, I believe that record tapes are going to die in the future (I cannot say the same about CD's and specially vinyl), but that future is still more than a couple of years distant.

... Now on monday, Nuts pointed me out for an article called "Vinyl May Be Final Nail in CD's Coffin" [1].


[1] - http://tinyurl.com/2b6fzl

26.10.07

Debian: HOWTO find a package containing a certain file

Debian: HOWTO find a package containing a certain file

(this example works on Debian-based systems too):

# apt-file update && apt-file search /usr/share/doc/rails/README.railties
rails: usr/share/doc/rails/README.railties
#


This example was me searching a package containing /usr/share/doc/rails/README.railties file. The result tells that rails is the package.

24.10.07

Tell me about Berlin!

Dear Lazyweb:

I'm going to be for the first time in Berlin, and I don't know nothing about the city. Can you please give me some hints about what you think I must visit? Also, I'm looking for hints about:

  • Good music stores;
  • Good music/alternative nightclubs (to see what kind of music I'm looking for check out http://www.last.fm/user/Mind_Booster/ )
  • Good Jazz clubs
  • Every stuff you might want to add ;-)
PS -> If you're in Berlin or are going to be there from the 2nd to the 11st of November and want to know the person behind this blog, tell me ;-)

How History is re-written

I wrote this article countless times for the last fre weeks. I wrote and re-wrote, cited some books, gave some examples, and got more and more pissed off and frustrated while trying to write it.

So, I quit. I won't give examples. I'll just state it: while Internet, Wikipedia and all the new age of information and user generated content is great, it makes me angry every time I see one of its consequences in effect: History is getting distorted and even re-written more and faster.

I wonder than this global state of wiki-style "let's rewrite history" isn't getting too close to what was done in the novel 1984... But the small group of people doing that is those interested in "writting history", which could be anyone.

It scares me.

22.10.07

Interviewing... SellABand

SellABand logo I talked about [1] SellABand [2] in the past, but I never covered it as I wanted to on this blog. So, I decided to interview Pim Betist from SellABand and leave you with the result...

For those who do not know, SellABand is a one-year-old web music service that can be considered a "Record Label 2.0". Read the begining of the interview to know more about it. Oh, and they are looking to Ruby coders so if you might be interested you should read this until the end!


Hi there, and thanks for letting me interview you... SellABand is already one year old, but lot's of out readers probably don't know about you, so what about starting by explaining what is SellABand?

SellABand is an online music platform where artist and fans can make music and money together. Artists make a profile for free by loading up their best three songs, their bio and some pictures. Music fans view the profile and listen to the music. When they believe in the artist they can become a "Believer" by buying parts. Each part costs $10. Once 5000 parts have been sold we have $50,000. We use this full budget to record an album with renowned producers in top studios. Once the album is done all believers receive a limited version of the album. All income generated from the album and the advertising on SellABand is divided equally between the artist, the believers and SellABand.

How did the idea of creating SellABand appear?

SellaBand comes from a love for music and a frustration about the fact that the same artists are being heard over and over on the radio. I would see a lot of live performances and notice how much talented artists are being unnoticed by the traditional music industry. I decided to give up my job and approach the right people to execute the business plan. I found Johan Vosmeijer and Dagmar Heijmans. Both experienced in the music industry. When they heard about my plans they gave up their jobs to launch this business and follow our dream: Bands and Fans in business together!

What do you think of the actual state of the music industry? What do you think SellABand can do to help it moving to the right direction?

The majors have been treating the web as a threat as opposed to capturing its opportunities. When Napster was founded the labels had a choice; embrace this development and create new business models or sue the new initiatives. I don't have to tell you for which one they choose. This approach cost them a lot of money. Music companies were focusing on numbers and laws in stead of on finding new talent. Additionally, the traditional business model is completely outdated and far too risky. Each new artist that is signed by a label requires a large investment before any money is made. Sales have been dropping with around 25% world wide. With less money being made, logically labels are betting on "safe horses" like Madonna and Justin Timberlake of whom we have heard so much already. RIAA (Record Industry Association America) figures have pointed out that music listeners are interested in new music. They are fed up with highly marketed super stars. My guess is that with this risk averse policy music sales will be dropping more in the future. Since labels aren't picking up new talent, there is a lot of unsigned artists out there. SellaBand makes it possible for music fans to discover these artists and help them make take their career to the next level. We like to see SellaBand as a trampoline. Artists choose themselves
how high they want to jump. After (and before) recording their album with us they are free to sign with a label. We have recently signed distribution deals with Rough trade in the Benelux and Proper in the UK so all SellaBand
albums will be sold in stores across the UK and the Benelux. Additionally sellaband artists are being invited for live performances all over the world. Nemesea for example (the first band 50K) has recently confirmed a tour in the UK. This way the more passive music lover can also enjoy the amazing new music that is being discovered on SellaBand.

How do you measure the SAB success so far?

5400 bands signed up. 1.3 million dollars has been invested. 9 artists have reached the 50K. 3 albums have been released. We have only been live for a little over a year. We (the management and the community) are very proud of these results.

We're seeing a lot more of this "Web 2.0" world that is more and more centered in user generated content and grabbing users' attention. SAB completely relies on User Generated Content and even "user contributed money". Aren't you afraid this is a bubble soon to burst?

I agree with you that are a lot of initiatives out there. In some of them I have a lot of trust. Fabchannel.com is a good example of web 2.0 initiative that I think will continue to grow in size and popularity. Other initiatives
I just don't get. 2nd life for example is an initiative that I have less faith in. Time will tell which initiatives will continue to prosper in the future. When it comes to SellaBand I am very confident that it is a
sustainable business model. The relationship of the artist with his or her fans is a unique one that is very difficult to break. Imagine seeing 50,000 dollars roll in on your account. Imagine realizing your dream because
thousands of music fans believe in you. Imagine seeing an artist you supported on MTV. All of this magic is happening and will happen a lot more for a very long time.

As an user of SAB almost since day one, first as an artist and then as a believer, I've been seeing the development of a very strong community, and lot's of things running around SAB. For instance, before SAB having an official forum, we already had forums for SAB... How did you made it happen? How do you see that?

When we started sellaband we had no idea that we would be surrounded by such an amazing group of music lovers. All "community initiatives" were literally initiated by the community. All we did was listen and try to serve the community in the best way possible. When it comes to offline initiatives I think we've done a great job. This summer we sold out legendary live venue paradiso in Amsterdam. Believers from over 22 countries flew in to Amsterdam to see the show. When it comes to online initiatives I think we can make a lot of improvements. One of our Believers "Rey Gamba" is an experienced programmer. He has been envolved behind the scenes for a while now. First he created club SellaBand which was a sandbox environment where we tested what extra features we could add to the site to make it more fun and sticky. We loved what he did so much that we asked him to join our team, which he did! We are very happy with the added value Rey Gamba will bring to our company.

With all the interaction you have with the SAB community, both artist and believers tend to flood you with new ideas. How do you face them? It seems to me that there's a kind of "sense" from the community that you're somewhat obliged to at least consider those suggestions...

I fully agree with you. We are a very transparent company and therefore get a lot of feedback from the community. We have used this input when we made our business plan for 2008. We published the complete plan in the tribune, our weekly news section. We are very conscious of the fact that it is the community of artists and believers who will take this company to the next level. Keeping that in mind we have to protect "the pillars" of our concept and realize that we cannot please everyone at all times.

We never heard again of "SellABand Presents..." CD's... Was it something you did to start launching 50K artists, or is it something we'll seen again?

SellaBand Part 1 and 2 were both a major success. I think the time is right for a part 3 soon.

Since this is a blog that usually talks not only about music but also about technological issues, can you give us some tech details about SAB?

We have chosen for the language Ruby. We are looking for programmers who can program in Ruby because we are building our own team.

Any final words you want to leave to our readers?

We've been nominated for the nima marketing award. This is Hollands most prestigious marketing prize. Tom Tom and Gsus won the year before us. Don't forget to vote for us here! http://www.nima.nl/marketing_jaarprijs


[1] - http://mindboosternoori.blogspot.com/2007/02/social-web-of-music.html
[2] - http://sellaband.com

WTF?

OK, here's a "What the F**k?" for today:

  • European Comission legits Microsoft Software Patents [1]. WTF? I mean, you can't patent software in Europe [2], but you let Microsoft patents affect Europe? Where's the logic? The sentence the royalties for a worldwide licence including patents will be reduced from 5.95% to 0.4% - less than 7% of the royalty originally claimed is written as if there's something good about this, but as a matter of fact you can read this as "you have to pay for patent infringement or patent royalties to Microsoft in Europe, even if software patents aren't valid in Europe". I wonder what is going on in this guys heads...

  • Portugal is going to have something called "Cartão do Cidadão", a "Citizen's Card", obligatory, that will replace out ID card among others. It seems that there's going to be a security conference in Portugal [3] where Accenture is going to talk about the Citizen's Card security scheme. Now, what puzzles me is VD's reaction on it [4] (VD was somewhat involved in the Citizen's Card project, BTW):
    in one hand the Digital Card is a portuguese Government prime security project and in the other, a local consultant company (which acts as a contractor for the Government) will be addressing his first security details at a conference, or at least I hope, it will be just a mist of conjunctions and speculation, due to the project security details and particularities
    Now, if the security of this project is of such importance (as, I agree, it is) what's wrong about talking about the security scheme? Don't you trust it? Because if you don't than it would be better not to have the card... Are you defending security through obscurity [5]? I really hope not [6]...

19.10.07

On Ubuntu


First of all, congratulations to all those involved in the new release of Ubuntu (yes, including Debian folks): it seems to me that this is being one of the most mediatic GNU/Linux distro releases, and every comparison between Ubuntu/Mac OS/Windows I've read so far tells me that this new Ubuntu release is doing well.

Still, here are some critics...

I'm a fan of Debian, not really a fan of Ubuntu. Probably my biggest pet peeve with Ubuntu is what is somewhat described in this image:
diagram explain Debian and Ubuntu's package release cycle
click on image to see it full size

The image explains both Debian and Ubuntu's release cycle. As you can see, Ubuntu does not contribute to upstream and doesn't have a controlled development and testing environment as Debian has. The result is easilly seen in matters of stability and security, when comparing both distros.

Some people don't understand why do I consider the fact that in Debian each package has a maintainer a good thing, compared to Ubuntu's anarchy. Here's a patch that I just saw and that explains one of the things that might happen in result of such lack of control: In this first pach to geneweb [1], we see Ubuntu forking Debian's package. In other words: Ubuntu folks used Geneweb's Debian package, but there was something they wanted to change, so instead of reporting a bug to that package, they just fork'ed it and created an Ubuntu version of the package. Now let's see what is that change about: reading the patch you'll easilly understand (even if you don't know nothing about code) that this patch is made to avoid a bug in pkgstriptranslations, a package and software created and maintained by Ubuntu. Now, why the hell are Ubuntu folks writting workarounds in other software instead of fixing their own bugs?

And there's the "you should keep your mouth closed" Gobuntu issue. So, Mark Shuttleworth announced that Ubuntu “Gutsy Gibbon” would be available in a super-strict, 100% open source flavor (now called “Gobuntu”). Well, that's nice and all but... Gobuntu has non-free contents [2]! If you don't have the guts to go without non-free (and yes, it is a question of guts since the issue involves pissing off Mozzila Corporation), why bothering creating Gobuntu? After all there's already gNewSense [3]...

Finally, I'm still pissed off with Canonical because they're failing their yet another long-time-ago promise: to "fix" the "mistake" of forgeting to give credits where credit is due, namedly on the fact that Ubuntu can't live without Debian. Yet, they keep forgetting [4]...

Now, don't take me wrong, I'm glad that Ubuntu exists, they pushed the boundaries and forced the whole bunch of GNU/Linux distros to evolve. Their bug #1 is something I want to see fixed [5] (specially when phoning to several laptop vendors like ASUS and LG Electronics just to get a reply "no, you can't but one of our laptops without Microsoft Windows"). Ubuntu has a lot of cool stuff: I'm still waiting to see Debian LiveCD [6] promoted as an excellence way of testing and installing Debian as Ubuntu's LiveCD is, for instance... But there are lot's of important issues to be addressed, more important (in my oppinion) than just "going bleeding edge and work on the hype".

[1] - http://tinyurl.com/2fkwwc
[2] - http://tinyurl.com/373vhk
[3] - http://www.gnewsense.org/
[4] - http://www.lucas-nussbaum.net/blog/?p=257
[5] - https://bugs.launchpad.net/ubuntu/+bug/1
[6] - http://live.debian.net/

18.10.07

ReverbNation supports Labels and Managers

The music social network that pays artists to have a profile there [1] ReverbNation [2] have now a new functionality, embracing into their community not only bands or fans but also record labels and managers. These new kind of profiles includes the ability to do:
  • FanReach email management
  • Artist Roster (with sample songs)
  • Consolidated show schedule for all artists on roster
  • "New Releases" area
  • Special, customizable "TuneWidget" for promoting label's artists all over the web
  • Street Team function for recruiting, managing, tracking and rewarding a Street Team


In a time where artists are getting closer and closer to their fans, it's quite important for labels and managers to try to be a part of the whole process... Or they'll end being left behind. The lesson has already been learned: the proof is the number of record labels with "artist profiles" on social networks like MySpace.

With this step, ReverbNation in keeping the pace trying to keep being the best music social network for artists (in my oppinion). New features keep being suggested, and I believe that they'll keep implementing them on and on...


Check more about this new feature at http://www.reverbnation.com/main/overview_label.

[1] - http://tinyurl.com/2fvw2c
[2] - http://www.reverbnation.com/merankorii

Web 2.0 Expo: attention to all attendees

I was hoping to write something more complete, talking about me going to the Web 2.0 Expo in Berlin next month. For now, just two notes: the first one is that I'm going, and the next one is that if you're going and already paid, you're screwed. Despite the conference price being in Euros €, they did all credic card withdrawns with the right number but in pounds £. Since one pound is 1.44 Euro (more or less) be carefull and check your accounts. The organization (CMP) told us that they did this mistake to everyone, and that they're working on refunds.

This isn't the first thing that makes me really sad with the event's organization, but I'll probably write all about it at a later time. Please alert all your friends you're know that are going...

17.10.07

My stand on DRM


DRM - Digital Restrictions Management [1]. I'm getting known as an advocate against DRM systems, mainly because I often speak about this matters and act accordingly. Some people still get surprised to know that I don't get more Marilyn Manson stuff, nor am I going to his upcoming concert in Portugal, not understanding how (arguably) the Portuguese guy with the biggest collection of Marilyn Manson material stops buying his stuff just because of DRM. But what really saddens me is when people call my actions stupid.

I don't think I'm stupid, nor I think that my actions are stupid. I don't think it is fair to be treated as such. Not that I really care: I am free to do what I do, and I know I'm doing what is, for me, the right thing, so the whole thing just saddens me. Yet, I decided to write some topics on why do I do what I do in relation to DRM.

I don't give money to those I despise



The most criticised act I have in relation to DRM is the fact that I just don't give any money to DRM people. This means that I don't buy CD's for any major label or any other company that sells products with DRM, I don't go to concerts when there's a cut going to those companies, and I don't give money to them (or try not to) at all, including not buying a Sony camera, a piece of Microsoft software, an Apple's iPod, not going to Lusomundo's theaters and so on. I don't do that simply because I despise those companies or corporations and their practices. I don't do that simply because they treat their customers like criminals, and since I'm not a criminal I won't do something (being their customer) to be treated as such. People come out in a shock, telling me that this makes no sense at all. I don't understand their point. To me, what doesn't make sense is giving money to those I despise. There are hundreds of new stuff everyday I wish I had. I have lots of places where to spend my money, thank you very much. I'm still an heavy music buyer and I've seen more than sixty movies this year already. I wish I had more time to read. I don't need to give money to those I despise, I also don't want to.

I don't like social irresponsibility



Since I don't like social irresponsibility, I try to avoid it. I think that since we're inserted in a society, we not only have the social responsibility of trying to actively make it better, but, more importantly, we need to act according to our society, or else we're violating our collective freedom.

This is why I don't like what nowadays people call "piracy". Not because what is done, not because I agree that it is wrong (I actually think it is not), but because it is illegal. Cracking DRM schemes, trying to crack them, developing, distributing or inciting the use of DRM crack tools, heck, even trying to crack a DRM system is illegal in Portugal. Yes, I know it is ridiculous that it is illegal trying to see a movie you bought, or trying to do a copy of your legally bought CD into your portable music player, but unfortunately that's the clear truth. So, not only I feel that I have the socially responsibility to fight against that law and try to change the things as they are (including making manufacturers stopping the use of DRM or resellers stopping selling crippled media), but more importantly, I utterly refuse to commit the social irresponsibility of cracking the DRM schemes just because "it works" or "it is easy". Doing that would be legitimizing DRM, approving the existence of DRM'd media in the market.

Some people also tell me something that I really don't agree: that media providers such as the major labels won't ever let it go, won't ever stop doing DRM schemes, so I should stop whining and help finding a "middle ground" solution. Not only I don't think that the first sentence is true (as a matter of fact all I see is the adoption of DRM schemes falling as major labels are starting to see that DRM isn't worth the bad publicity it brings attached), but, most importantly, it doesn't really matter for my take on the second part: I refuse to help finding a middle term solution, because middle term solutions are both parts giving some, and since it is my rights and freedoms we're talking about, oh, I'm sorry but I won't give them not even an inch of those. Media costs money, freedom and rights are priceless. Finding a "middle term" would be, in my point of view, an act of social irresponsibility.

I don't want to be a slave



I could explain this item in an handful number of ways, but instead of explain it exhaustively I will just give you an example. Talking a couple of hours ago with Paula over the phone, she was facing a problem. She's going to sell both her laptop and iPod, and buy a new laptop in which she's planning to run GNU/Linux. The thing is, she has some albums she bought at the iTunes Music Store, and if she's not going to have an iPod or iTunes, she doesn't have a way to listen to it now. She decided "oh well, I'll just delete all this stuff", but I instantly felt both sorry and angry. I'm an heavy music-buyer and lover, and I don't even want to think how I would feel if I had to pick some of my music and get rid of it. But there's no other choice: in her case it would be either that or being forced to continue using her laptop or her iPod. I don't want to be a slave of some technology in order to listen what I legally bought and own.

I don't "shut up and shop"



There's an excellent Jello Biafra's speech called Shut Up and Shop, where he basically goes on talking about how media corporations or governments try to force us to do something, to buy something (material, like a CD, or immaterial, like an ideology) and stop being inconvenient. "Shut Up and Shop" starts with the sentence:
Global Warming? Who cares? Inxx sixth album is the fastest selling one in all time! Everybody is buying it, therefore you should too! Shut up and shop! Shut up and shop! Shut up and shop is the mantra, if you will...

I'm sorry, but I don't shut up and shop.

I care



Finally, I do all this because I care. This should be pretty self-explainable, but it seems to me that sometimes it isn't. Not the fact that I do it because I care, but because I really care. Most people don't really care, most people don't even care. Most people (that knows what DRM is) knows that DRM is bad to the consumer. They know that sometimes they might buy a CD or DVD and then they'll have to return it, or live with the fact that the CD won't play in their car, or even having to throw away the music they bought. But they just don't care. There's nothing wrong in that, but please, don't call "idiots" those who do.

[1] - http://mindboosternoori.blogspot.com/search/label/DRM

Paulo Barros @ Second Life

Paulo Barros
As far as I know, Paulo Barros is the first Portuguese artist risking the stages of Second Life. According to his MySpace, Paulo Barros is going to present some themes of his new album K:arma 6 in Second Life Portugal: http://slurl.com/secondlife/Portugal%20Lisboa/113/18/27 at 22:00 GMT.

Check more about this event at http://tinyurl.com/2ca9zu.

OOXML in Portugal - the CM Cascais issue

One of the entities that suposedly was representing Portugal in its vote about the aprooval of the OOXML format as a standard was the City Hall of Cascais. Now, the really funny thing is that, when asked about their decision to aproove this format as a standard, the City Hall answered:

«Effectively, CHoC did not emit any kind of opinion against or in favour of OOXML's specification through it's representatives with competence on the subject matter.»


Seems that the person that went there "representing CHoC" was not representing them at all...

More about this issue at http://tinyurl.com/3cw85l .

16.10.07

Tell Netflix: No More DRM

Are you in USA? Are you against DRM? Jump over to http://www.defectivebydesign.org/blog/1093#netflix and say No to Netflix!

15.10.07

Intellectual property

Intellectual property? Hah.

What is "Intellectual property"? Besides the buzzword, that is... It's common to see people refering to something called intellectual property, but how many of them know what is that all about, what is intellectual property?

It's not easy, really, since intellectual property is nothing at all, in fact. Intellectual property is a legal term to describe different things, but since they are really different things, it's impossible to describe intellectual property as a whole.

So, FYI:

Intellectual property is a legal term to describe both copyright, patents, trademarks, industrial design rights and trade secrets.

So, please: next time you feel an urge to say or write "intellectual property", think twice. You're almost surely not talking about "it", but about on of these five individual things.

Interviewing Adegga

Adegga [1] is a new Web 2.0 social network, made by a team of three Portuguese guys, and - as the name says - it is all about Wine.

Currently in private beta, I'm lucky to have an account there, and am already a regular user. Remember when I said that I wish there was a Last.fm for books [2]? Well, Adegga is Last.fm for wines.

So, instead of reviewing it, I did something different: here's an interview I made to one of Adegga's folks, André, and if you feel like trying it out, just leave a comment here and I'll send you an invite! :-)


First and foremost, please tell us what Adegga is, in your own words.

Adegga is an online service that help people discover and choose wine by sharing their wine opinions with other people they trust. By creating a personalized watchlist people can "follow" what their friends, favorite producers and wine shops are doing. Adegga also helps people organize their wines by keeping track of wines they taste, make a wishlist or organize your home cellar. For searching for wines and checking prices no account is needed.

What gave you the idea of creating this service?

A few years ago the three founders, André R, André C. and Emídio, started enjoying wine together and sharing their opinions. A few months later André R. while reading the the book The Long Tail designed the idea that would become the project Adegga and invited his 2 friends to build it.

There are other wine (or more generic beaverages) social networks... Why should someone use Adegga instead of one of the alternatives?

There are 3 main reasons that can make people choose Adegga and not other social network:
  • Watchlist. Adegga lets you build a personalized watchlist so that you can keep track of what people on your list are choosing and tasting. You can add friends, wine bloggers, producers and just about anyone else. You can also add wine producers and wine shops to your personalized watch list so that you keep track of when a producer releases a new wine or a wine shop makes a promotion.
  • Wine prices: Adegga gets wine prices from shops around the world and puts them directly on each wine page. This makes it easy to check availabilty and price for any wine.
  • Profiles: Being a social network Adegga build a profile page for each producers. Besides all the information about a producer you can also add this producer to your Watchlist and follow what he is doing. Wine shops get their profile too.


What's the revenue model planned for Adegga?

Wine shops pays us to have all their wine prices appear on each wine page with a link to the direct wine page in the shop. Moreover, they can be featured on some pages like the homepage. We will have more special stuff for producers and wine shops in the future.

You also created AVIN, an "ISBN for wine". First of all, congratulations for such a nice idea, I really liked it. Yet... What are the plans you have to turn AVIN widely used, and thus making it useful?

It's very easy to search for books online. You can search by name but also by the ISBN. The same is not true for wines. There's no code to use when you want to search for a wine. Another problem is that each time a wine shop wants to setup a new shop they need to build by hand their own catalog. With the AVIN we want this database to be open so that anyone can use it. We'll publish it under a creative commons license over at www.avin.cc. When this type of data is available and an API is in place all types of creativity can surface. We haven't officially launched the project. So there's not much more that I can say for now.

There's, at the moment, no API to access and munch over Adegga's data... Are you planning to do one in the future?

There's already API working. It's a REST API. The next few weeks we will release it with basic capability to support the launch of our blog / site widgets.

Adegga is at the moment in a closed beta. When do you think the website will be open to everyone?

We decided to do a public beta for 2 reasons. We want to be able to provide a good quality of service and that 's is only possible when all servers are in place and all code is bug free. That's not the case for now. Another things is that we want to grow organically and try to listen to what people using Adegga are asking. We currently have no date to open the registration to everyone.

You decided to do Adegga using PHP... Can you please tell us why that choice?

When the team started Adegga we discussed 3 possibilities. Perl, PHP and Ruby. We had previously worked together in other projects using PHP. That fact together with the fact that PHP5 is a very flexible language and with a powerful community made us decide to use PHP. Moreover, PHP5 supports object oriented programming and works brilliantly with Smarty, out templating system.

Adegga is Copyright (c) 2007 LifeStreet... I know that you left your previous job to create Adegga. Is LifeStreet the company you've founded to have Addega as a product? Do you intend to have more LifeStreet products other then Addega?

Adegga is owned by 3 people and it is in part legally supported by LifeStreet. LifeStreet was founded by me (André Ribeirinho) to support all the projects I'm involved.

Which other public projects are there on LifeStreet?

LifeStreet focus is now on Adegga, nevethless there are 2 other projects that are in the works but still only as proof-of-concepts. No date yet for them to become public.

Do you have any final words to our readers?

Adegga is only starting. There are many things we want to do. We have some very interesting and useful features coming out in the next couple of months. If you love wine join Adegga and enjoy the ride.

Thanks for the interview.

André


[1] - http://adegga.com
[2] - http://tinyurl.com/2bzmgc

Blog Action Day

The Blog Action Day is an activity that encourages bloggers to write on one specific topic on a specified day of the year. This year we have environment. Since I didn't prepare nothing about it, and I'm quite busy, I won't write about it, but instead point you out to 10 good blog posts for this day:


FOWA Expo 2007

For those of you that, like me, have envy of those others that were able to attend to FOWA Expo 2007... Cha0s (or Tiago Serra) finally decided to start blogging in his TechnoFetishist website, and started with a nice review of the event [1]...

[1] - http://technofetishist.net/2007/10/11/9/

Stuff

Last friday this blog made it's 2nd birthday. Of course, I've missed it.

The weekend was... awkward. Paula and I are both sick with a flu or something, the Portuguese trains company had one problem and all the sudden there were no trains working in the country, the ODF x OOXML debate went quite well (even if in an event no one knows about since there was pressure in the media to avoid talking about it), my kitchen got flooded since my laundry washing machine is messed up (I'll have to buy a new one, probably even today), and today I arrived at work just to notice that my laptop's hard drive is quickly dying (I'm trying to backup ~ , but I don't know if I'll make it...).

*sigh*

12.10.07

Software Patents pisses me off

*sigh*

I just stumbled upon this patent [1], for which I have published code that violates it (fortunately I'm not in USA). As usual, I found prior art in less than 5 minutes [2].

If you're still fool enough to think that software patents might be good, please take a look at this movie [3].


[1] - http://tinyurl.com/ypd2eq
[2] - http://tinyurl.com/243mjv
[3] - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TYbDfo4q5pw

11.10.07

OpenAvatarID


When I heard about Raph Koster [1] creating Areae I got excited. When I heard him talking about it I got more excited. Then, when I heard him talking about his more deep insights about the future of Virtual Worlds I got... scaried. No way a guy with such a vision would make such, in my point of view, mistakes. But he did: in the middle of awsome texts he would drop here and there something I wasn't liking. So, when I knew that Areae was announcing its product, I was extremely curious and yet afraid that it would come something I would not like. He announced Metaplace, and I got the feeling that, after all, he was doing well - heck - I badly want to try it. It was exactly I was looking for! Since it is in a closed beta stage, I can only but read everything I find about Metaplace, but today I got... disappointed. I'm not going to dig into that issue this time, since this isn't a post about Metaplace (I'll leave that to a later time), but some things he said that was just shocking to me. For instance, Metaverse's default client (the one they provide) communicates using telnet [2]. Hello? Communicating credentials and conversations via telnet from a Flash app (client side, you know?) to your servers? Have you never heard about encryption? Anyway, in the same day I posted about "one avatar to rule them all" [2], where I talked about companies like Linden Lab and IBM that believe that virtual worlds should be capable of accepting visits from other worlds' avatars, if they owners want, I read this interview to Raph Koster where he says that, among other companies, folks at Areae think that virtual worlds shouldn't be capable of accepting visits from other worlds' avatars.

Since there are so many arguments from one side and another, I just want to have a clue (tho' the data retrieved will not have revelance...) of how many people think one way or another...

So there's a poll: do you think that virtual worlds should be capable of accepting visits from other worlds' avatars if they choose so?


Please vote by following this link: http://www.polldaddy.com/p.asp?p=118953.


[1] - http://www.raphkoster.com

[2] - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Telnet

[3] - http://mindboosternoori.blogspot.com/2007/10/one-avatar-to-rule-them-all.html

One Avatar to rule them all

Once upon a time I was thinking in replacing both Mamnuts' and Pytalker's auth scheme with OpenID (and subsequently, change the auth scheme in Selva and maybe in Portugal Virtual). One of the reasons I didn't do it was that I thought that something way bigger was going to happen soon: and all was sort of confirmed when HiPiHi aimed to establish standards for 3D Virtual Worlds, about what they said they're going to talk about in the Virtual Worlds Conference and Expo.

Yesterday news came of yet another announcement to be made, in paralel, in the Virtual Worlds Conference and Expo: IBM and Linden Lab joined together [1] to help defining a “a truly interoperable 3D Internet” by the means of creating a way for avatars to migrate from one world to another.

The thing is, lot's of news sources talked about one effort and then other, but when you take all the hype and buzzwords out of what's being said you just see one thing: both of them want to make one sort of "OpenID for Avatars" (which must have more info than just an username and a password, we're not talking here of using the same credencials to access your avatar in any VW, but using the same avatar in every VW), and maybe something else.

In conclusion, this is, allways, good news. Even if it's only a "OpenVirtualID", it is great. But let's first wait until the real news come out from those lucky attending to the Expo, and then we'll talk particularities... I'm quite afraid of having already two groups not working together while both aiming the same thing... Caos might arise.

[1] - http://tinyurl.com/2mdp2y

10.10.07

Mobile Firefox


Two years ago I was talking with some Opera folks about browsers and the rising of the mobile browsing market. I told them that, while I was an Opera Mini user, I was really sad with that fact, because I would rather use an Open Source browser. We further discussed about the state of MiniMo: a project that few of you will remember but that stands for "Mini Mozilla", had two developers, and then only one. Of course it never went far. What surprises me is that today I'm reading about Minimo dyeing... and Mozilla creating a new project: Mobile Firefox. YAY!

Now, the not so good news: they're aiming to a minimum requirement of 64Mb of RAM. Now, that's really a lot more than Opera Mini requirements... And more than what my actual mobile phone has :-(


Read the announcement at http://weblogs.mozillazine.org/schrep/archives/2007/10/mozilla_and_mobile.html.

9.10.07

O País em que vivemos

This post is about Portugal, specificly Lisbon and public matters. The target is the Portuguese people and media, so I decide to write it in Portuguese.

Como tem vindo a ser durante os últimos anos, a Câmara Municipal de Lisboa, em cunjunto com o Metro de Lisboa, tem vindo a estudar potenciais melhorias à rede de metropolitano da Cidade de Lisboa, tanto no que diz respeito aos actuais troços e estações, como à extensão das suas linhas. Neste sentido, a Junta de Freguesia de Santa Maria dos Olivais em conjunto com o Metro de Lisboa planearam a extensão da Linha Vermelha, para que o seu percurso seja alongado para lá da estação do Oriente para duas novas estações: a estação de Moscavide, sito na Rua João Pinto Ribeiro, e a estação de Olivais Norte cito na Rua General Silva Freire.

A Rua João Pinto Ribeiro é também delimitadora da fronteira entre a Freguesia de Santa Maria dos Olivais em Lisboa e Moscavide. As obras de metropolitano centram-se todas no lado Lisboeta, e uma das suas futuras saídas dá para uma pequena Urbanização constituída por quatro Lotes: Rua João Pinto Ribeiro, Lotes 1, 2, 3 e 4. No decorrer dos estudos para o desenrolar as obras para esta nova estação, todos os prédios potencialmente afectados com tais obras foram consultados, e, entre outras coisas, foi discutido todo o plano de obras e assinado um termo de responsabilidade, para que todos os potenciais prejuízos decorrentes das ditas obras fossem da responsabilidade da obra e não dos moradores. Bem, todos não: segundo um trabalhador (anónimo) do Metro de Lisboa os Lotes de 1 a 4 da Rua João Pinto Ribeiro não foram comunicados porque "julgava-se que eram prédios pertencentes à Câmara Municipal".

No passado dia oito de Outubro de 2007 os moradores destes quatro lotes (230 fogos, entre os quais se contam três deles com lugares reservados por terem moradores com deficiências motoras) foram presenteados com folhetos nos seus carros a avisar que a partir do dia seguinte não podiam estacionar junto aos seus prédios. Aqueles que retiravam os seus carros dos estacionamentos viam o lugar a ser automaticamente bloqueado com grades. As administrações dos condomínios inquiriram os representantes do Metro de Lisboa no local, onde foram informados que a partir do dia seguinte iniciariam as obras que iriam substituir os seus lugares de estacionamento nos quatorze anos de vida daqueles prédios por uma estrada nova, a substituir a que anteriormente definia a Rua João Pinto Ribeiro, para facilitar o acesso às obras.

Significa isto que:
  • se substitui uma estrada de uma determinada largura com trânsito intenso por uma com cerca de um terço da largura;
  • se privam os moradores dos seus lugares de estacionamento, incluindo três deles que até à data eram marcados como lugares reservados para moradores com deficiências motoras;
  • passa a haver uma estrada, sem passeios, rente aos lotes referidos, estrada essa onde haverá trânsito de veículos ligeiros e pesados, incluindo os veículos pesados que irão percorrer frequentemente esse percurso durante os vários anos da obra da dita estação de metropolitano;
  • Não foi feito estudo ou levantamento algum sobre as questões de segurança relacionadas com aquela obra rente aos prédios citados;
  • Não existe termo de responsabilidade algum em relação às ditas obras.


De notar que o dito acesso serve exactamente o mesmo propósito que um outro que foi preparado, num local mais acessível e sem riscos (e com menos necessidade de obras, tempo e dinheiro) durante as obras para a Expo 98, e essa alternativa, que não foi considerada, ainda hoje permanece igualmente viável.

As administrações dos quatro lotes contactaram a o Presidente da Junta de Freguesia de Santa Maria dos Olivais, que declarou que as obras já estavam aprovadas e em fase adiantada, sendo agora da total responsabilidade do Metro de Lisboa. Obviamente que as afirmações do Metro de Lisboa foram em tudo semelhantes, no sentido inverso: eles simplesmente executam a obra licenciada pela Junta de Freguesia.

Iniciará no dia nove de Outubro o processo para a criação de uma medida cautelar. Até lá, obviamente, as obras terão o seu seguimento, às custas da segurança e integridade física dos moradores do local.

Underworld interview

"We really like records, and a physical record is a calling card," Hyde said, "and no matter how many downloads we did, until the perception changes significantly, they'd always be seen as the poor cousin to a real album. And if we want people to come into the world of Underworld, we had to say, 'Here's something recognizable.' "
-- Underworld, in an interview for MTV

ODF x OOXML in Lisbon's first Free Software Forum

Next Friday and Saturday we'll have in Lisbon [1] the "I Fórum de Software Livre de Lisboa", an event about Free Software.

Saturday, from 15:00 to 16:30, I'm going to chair a debate called "ODF x OOXML" were we'll focus on the following topics:
  • The need of a standard

  • The standard format creation process

  • The adoption process of a standard format

  • The importance of document formats to our future

  • ODF x OOXML - adopt which one?


For now we'll have the presence of ANSOL and SUN in the debate. I'm still trying to find out someone willing to participate in the debate who thinks that OOXML is what should be adopted. I'll write about that later, probably after the debate.

See you there!


[1] - http://www.softwarelivre.com.pt/ptematico.php

5.10.07

Why I prefer ReverbNation over Jamendo


In the comments of a post in one of the best Portuguese-written blogs, Remixtures, I explained why I use (and recommend), as an artist, Reverbnation. The big issue here is simple: we're living in a world of music like water, where the real value of music in digital format is approaching zero, where artists can - or should I say have? - reinvent themselves, adhere to the whole "Music 2.0" concept. Having a record label nowadays makes no sense. Selling digital music and consider that a business (or at least revenue) model is like waiting for the shit to hit the fan. Physical sales are a revenue source if you do your stuff well: if there's added value in the physical package: jewel case is worthless, but what you can do with it can be priceless. But to record and sell physical albums (like, for instance, CD's) you need money. To do it while cutting the middle man you need more money (even if it will give you a lot more money too, so you end winning). Where are artists getting that money?

Well... you have merchandise, ringtones, gigs, subscription stuff, whatever you can remember. If you're a small band and want to grab some ideas, you can, for instance, take a look on SellABand and see what are bands offering there to grab more believers. Or... you can make money from digital music.

Yes, I know I said that music is like water, that the real value of music in digital format is zero. But that doesn't mean - at all - that the community you can make around those tracks are worthless. As a matter of fact, in this kind of Music 2.0 models you can have a lot of potential value, since communities tend to be created. One of the first, basic, ways to explore that whole potential is - that's right - publicity. If I give you two band profiles on MySpace, I bet you can easily see who is the most succesful. It's not the one with more tracks, or videos, or with the most pimped profile. But it is probably the one with most friends and comments. In other words, with more pageviews: if a community exists, people keep coming there to see what's up. Now, if your fans can give you all that power, and if you can give all that power over to someone who knows and can, better then yourself, turn that power into money, you have a win-win scenario. And there were those who knew how to do it.

ReverbNation and Jamendo are two simple and easy "music social networks" where a band can register and put their songs there, letting everyone download the tracks. What makes these two so interesting to bands is that they share their profits, 50/50, with the bands. Now bands have a reason to be there, and with bands come fans, and the social network just have to wait and collect their share. Everyone's happy. This is something I hope (and think I will) to see more used, with more bands adhering with this model.

ReverbNation and Jamendo, each one has things better and worse than the other. But, for me, there are two crucial differences:
  • Jamendo only accepts Creative Commons or Arte Libre tracks. While this fits (almost) well to me, it's something that will push away lot's of other bands. In my case, by chance, it also pushes me away, since one of my tracks (Interlude) is in Public Domain.

  • Jamendo lets you download via P2P, ReverbNation via HTTP. While the perfect scenario would be having both options available, having to choose from one or another isn't difficult. I trust that if I give the link to my ReverbNation profile to one of my sisters, they'll manage to download some tracks. I doubt I would be able to say the same if those tracks were on Jamendo.



All in all, there's still an huge space to fill in here. Both services have only a pretty small variety of music and genres, and both have an huge space for improvement. Still, if you're an artist you have no reason to whine about piracy et al.. Want to stop piracy? Earn money by giving your music for free.

Free Software in the Portuguese Parlment


So, as I've wrote previously, today was the day where a proposal to deploy Free Software in the Portuguese Parliement was voted. I knew about it thanks to a document in a non-free format, knew the whole schedule for the day thanks to a document in a non-free format, read the entire proposal, made by Partido Comunista Português, in a document in a non-free format, assisted and recorded it thanks to a video stream in a non-free format, but I won't refrain my self to speak out freely my thoughts about it.

First of all, this is one of those matters that is important to a hell lot of people, and if I'm talking about this one because this is one matter that quite interests me, I have little doubt that most of the other things discussed in the Parliement matter to a hell lot of (different, perhaps) people. I have an advantage, tho: I'm what can be considered a techno-litered, someone who knows about computers and how to use them. Most people wouldn't "so easily" find the proposal, the date, the schedule, how to assist and even less record it as I did. "So easily" wasn't easy at all: as a matter of fact I think I had a lot of luck because the Parliement makes no efforts whatsoever to make this things public. After all, it's our money and freedom they're talking about.

The proposal was simple and well conceived. Make Free Software available in the Portuguese Parliement, so everyone could have the freedom to use it. Lessons on how to use the chosen Free Software to those interested in it. Start using free and open document formats so everyone (even out of the Parliement) could have free access to those documents. Research the benefits of a migration to Free Software from the "multiple choices" scenario, and debate the results one year later.

The result was "approval of proposal, with changes". The changes made the propose this: "Make Free Software available in the Portuguese Parliement, so everyone can have the freedom to use it".

Now, I don't know the kind of access each deputy has to his own terminal in the Parliement, but what I know is that if instead of this proposal someone just decided to install free software in its terminal, or, if they don't have the permission, if they asked their helpdesk to do so, they could have it without all this fuss. In other words, this "approval" does not approve anything, it's just them mocking with the Portuguese people. I wonder why the hell am I paying their salaries.

Giving them the choice but not teaching them how to use it is the same as not giving them the choice. Refusing to give free access to the Parliement documents by choosing to keep a close format (Microsoft's) instead of a standard one (ODF) is discriminating the Portuguese people who do not use that proprietary format. I have to add to this one that the affirmation from Partido Socialista stating that "everyone can access to our documents) was outrageous: most of all a statement of "we're voting on a matter we don't know nothing about". Refusing to research the benefits of a migration to Free Software is the same as missing the whole point. The proposal was "let's take a look to the options", refusing that is saying "shut up and be quiet".

Overall, this "approval" was no approval at all. It was a loud and clear "SHUT THE FUCK UP" to Partido Comunista Português. This is the Parliement we have here.

Thanks to PCP for raising the issue. Thanks to Ubuntu-PT, Porto Linux, ANSOL for trying to give some information (and CD's) to the deputies, even if that information was completely ignored.

2.10.07

The End of Control

Last week I talked about Megatokyo [1] as an example of a "new era" book, a book which pages are released three times a week, for free, before the actual printed book is done and sent to the stores. I also did some kind of paralel between it and the music world, where bands are finding new ways of cutting off the middle man and interact directly with fans, making even more money and having their fans paying less. From getting paid to give music for free [2] to letting the fans decide the price of your album [3], the key in this new world is to know that you don't control your content, you just facilitate it to the former "consumers", now known as users.

Now, one of those know to advocate this new change of paradigm is Gerd Leonhard, that is now putting it into practice to the release of his new book "The End Of Control" [4]. The book, released as text (via mail, blog or RSS), PDF, mp3 or (real soon) video, will see a paper release, but only after the complete book is online, free. For now, you can read one chapter per week (to be released each monday), and I recommend you to do so, since the book seems to be a really good one... about this kind of things.

[1] - http://tinyurl.com/29fswb
[2] - http://tinyurl.com/2fvw2c
[3] - http://news.google.com/news?ncl=1121551540
[4] - http://www.endofcontrol.com

1.10.07

2007 so far - books

Following my "2007 so far" posts [1], where I'll talk about the best books I've read this year. Notice that "this year" means "I interacted with it in 2007", and not "it was made in 2007". You're free to also check the music [2] and movies [3] lists.

As you've probably noticed by the size of this post, this time the list isn't actually here in the blog. For this list I finally decided to check out what's out there in the web regarding to book communities. I was looking for a "books social networking": something like Last.fm for books, where you could "scrobble" the books you've been reading, and with that you could find similar books, people with similar reading tastes, other books from the same authors... Well, I don't really need to describe it, just imagine a website just like Last.fm but with books instead of music tracks. Of course, I didn't find any, but while checking out the alternatives I ended creating an account in consumating.com, and from there creating a list of books on listofbests.com.

Unfortunately I haven't read as many books this year as I used to (I only read 27 this year), and you might notice that in the list. Yet, you might like to read the list [4] and maybe pick one of those to read yourself...

[1] - http://tinyurl.com/2dz7m3
[2] - http://tinyurl.com/ysmog6
[3] - http://tinyurl.com/2dldwg
[4] - http://www.listsofbests.com/list/42093

New home - now home


I told you before that I bought an appartment in Lisbon, and since then I've been quite busy managing my time to handle all the bureocracy regarding having a new residence, including getting it habbitable (water and light are simple, but having to deal with Lisbon's gas company, Lisboagas, is painful... and I'm still not over with them), and go though all the documents regarding the change (like changing the residence in the identity card, or on the voter's card). In both those cases there are some things quite shocking, like the fact that the rules to how to get the new card change from place to place: so a lesson learned was: if you're doing some paperwork and all the sudden you're facing a situation that makes no sense, if you're able to do that paperwork somewhere else then do it: you're probably will face a new set of rules, and possible manage to reach your goal easily. It's also funny to see everyone and everywhere saying stuff like "but you can and should do that online!"... The thing is: from all the stuff I tried to do online, I only managed to do one (changing the fiscal residence, which was a surprisingly painless process). Well, maybe I'm too dumb and don't know how to use the Internet... Finaly, friday at the end of the day I got my mattress, so I didn't wait more and just went to buy all the sheets and stuff like that needed to have my first night of sleep in my new mattress, bed, home. Now, sunday night, I still have loads of things to do before going to sleep and I'm exhausted. But it was a preety cool weekend: finaly I feel at home, and I'm happy with it.