23.12.08

Blood Axis in Portugal

I won't make it, I'll be having the time of my life, in my honeymoon. But if you're free, you really should ponder on going to this gig:


Event: Blood Axis
Time: January 02, 2009 7:00PM
Location: União Colarense, Sintra, Portugal
24 € (no dia/door)
20 € (com reserva/reservation)
30 € (reserva com jantar/reservation with dinner)

blood4

More info: http://www.myspace.com/ummomento

28.11.08

Why I don't rent movies

Three associations of rental movies stores, one Portuguese, one Spanish and one French, joined efforts and created an "anti-piracy civil movement". While I could argue that "civil" is a bad word to describe such movement, this wouldn't catch my eye for long, but it did, since they created that movement for the purpose of getting the Telecoms Package to be approved by the EU Council without the emend 138 (that states that whatever the Package says, personal rights should not be trumped over), and they actually managed to get what they wanted. Anyway, when confronted about how bad for European citizens it would be if the amend was dropped, they failed to justify why they don't like it, and instead mumbled over and over about piracy piracy financial losses piracy piracy piracy... I tried, for three days, to get them talking about 138, and why they don't want that, but instead of getting a justification, I've heard tons of things about piracy and how bad their business was.

During the discussion, and because they felt that I must be pro-piracy (which I actually am not) because I don't agree with them, they tried to confront me by asking a curious thing: what was the last time I rented a movie?

Now, more sober from the discussion, I started to think more about that question. There are lot's of people that never really were into renting movies, but that's not my case. My reply was something like "for years", but now, thinking more about it, I can say with some certainty that the last movie I rent was more or less four years ago. Why?

Well, I lived in Lamego in my youth, and there I never was really into renting movies. The offer there was poor (and last time I checked it was even worse), so there was really no point in spending money and rent a movie when I could spend the less drinking beer, hanging out, or even acting like a potato couch and seeing silly TV shows. When I moved to Coimbra all was different. Specially in my first years there, I was quite addicted in cultural stuff: almost every day I had a concert to see, a theatre play to attend, and exposition to watch, a movie to see. I spent lots of money in one of the cinema's there, where I usually watched all the movies that were shown in that venue. Also, I used to attend to every thing that was going on the Academic Theatre (TAGV): mainly movies, plays or concerts. And I also started renting movies, specially when with friends: we would get a couple of movies, crash in someone's house, and do a "movie party". Life started getting busier and busier, but it wasn't uncommon to see me browsing in Tintarella's shelves, since that particular movies rental store had a quite nice stock of recent and good alternative movies, European cinema and science fiction, and a catchy section with weekly highlights. In my latest years in Coimbra, sometimes I was found in the middle of the night with a couple of friends on the multimedia room of one University department, watching a just-rented movie.

Then I came to the big city of Lisbon, and I never rented a movie again. Do you think it is my fault? First I lived in Carnaxide, now I really live in Lisbon. I know where a/the movies rental store in Carnaxide is: I went there exactly three times, sold there used CDs, bought there one second-hand CD, and their movies selection was... unattractive. I live in "real Lisbon" for almost three years now. And I never saw a movies rental shop.

Now, do you really think that it is my fault that I never rented a movie anymore? Is it caused by piracy? No way. I don't rent movies because I don't have the habit of doing so, I don't know any rental store and I don't feel any urge of finding one. If you take into account that I used to be a client of that kind of stores, their "industry" lost a client. They did not know how to keep me. They failed as business people. They did a bad job. They are doing a bad job. They can throw rocks to piracy, freedom, rights, or anything they like. They might even get the chance to implement any laws and regulations they dream of. They will never have a successful business until they realise and admit their flaws and mistakes. Hurting people is not a way of making them your clients. Slowly, really slowly, the music industry is starting to learn their lesson. Movies rental businesses should too.

17.11.08

50.000 tracks played on Last.fm

50.000 tracks played on Last.fm (screenshot)

As you can see on the screenshot (click to enlarge), I've been on Last.fm for more than two years, and today I've reached the 50000 played tracks. Last.fm doesn't really represent what I listen: lot of the time when I'm at work I listen to what Last.fm plays to me (which limits the choice), and when I'm at home, I'm usually listening to things that will not end scrobbled: CDs, Vinyls or Cassettes. Still, this is probably the biggest (public) data available of what kind of music I dig, and it's pretty cool that I've reached 50K: now you can give some credit to what those numbers show.

So, in a sort of way to celebrate the 50K mark, here's my own analysis of the numbers and graphics:

  • Merankorii is by far the most listened band, which should come with no surprise. Actually, for years now my "alarm clock" is an at firing up mplayer and playing a Merankorii album (nowadays the upcoming one), so I actually listen to a lot more Merankorii than what you can see on Last.fm. What can I say? I am a fan of my own work, or else I wouldn't bother doing it...
  • Tenhi is in 2nd and Empyrium in 4th, and I really love both this neofolk bands and have the complete discography of both. But if I had to choose between one of the two, Empyrium would have to be the choice, not Tenhi. I don't know if I really listen more Tenhi than Empyrium (what I know, tho, is that their CDs spin a lot in my CD player, so the numbers should also be bigger on those two), but I guess that this result is caused by the fact that Last.fm has Tenhi musics and plays them to me, while it doesn't have Empyrium tracks.
  • Antimatter at number two, Ashram at number five. These two are also bands of which I have the whole discography. They are of two completely different genres so I don't really compare the both, but the reason why Antimatter is ahead of Ashram is, probably, because they four releases, instead of the "one demo and two albums" from Ashram. I recommend both bands: check Antimatter if you like Acoustic stuff, check Ashram if you're into neoclassical.
  • DVAR is the weirdest band. Ever. DVAR is, supposedly, made by two Russian guys, from Moscow. Let me quote some of their biography on Last.fm: "The music was presented to them by a strange creature named Dvar. All music of the band is devoted to him and inspired by him. Members of the band claim not to create their own music, but rather being mediums of what they have heard. Lyrics, according to them, are performed in Enochian language." The only people I know that know who is behind DVAR are the musicians of another musical project "Caprice"...

And, well, I could keep on and write a book out of what I listen, but that would be boring, right? Maybe when I reach 100000 scrobbles I'll do this again, and compare screenshots...

If you're curious and want to check out one of this bands or my Last.fm profile, here's the link. You can also listen to what I listen.

12.11.08

"Social DRM" is Anti-Social

In February 2007, right after Steve Jobs claiming to the world that he was Anti-DRM and that the fault of him having DRM in iTunes was that of the majors (which is nothing but a bunch of crap, but I digress), Adobe's Bill McCoy wrote in his blog about his vision of DRM, acting as agreeing with Steve Jobs. His ridiculous arguments leaded to a new concept: "Social DRM". I ditched the whole absurd idea and almost forgot about it. Until now.

It seems that there are lots of people thinking that "Social DRM" is a bright idea. Actually, I've seeing the term in my readings more, so I decided not to ignore the issue anymore, and write a quick post about why "Social DRM" is a really bad idea.

First, getting this straight: I really think that "Social DRM" is less bad than "traditional DRM", mostly because it isn't DRM at all. Yet, being less bad doesn't mean it is good, to the point of making me state that, like I don't buy DRM'd stuff, I wouldn't buy nothing with "Social DRM".

What is "Social DRM"? Well, nothing more than watermarking. Basicly, McCoy is trying to think of DRM on e-books, and his "idea" is to have a "Social DRM" that is in fact a mark in every page on the ebook, make it header or footer, stating something like "this book is for the exclusive use of [insert purchaser's name here]". Why is it bad?

Well, McCoy certainly choose the name "Social DRM" because he understands the "social" need consumers need to have in their "content". A book (or an album, or a movie) is social, because if you read and like it you want to share it, to recommend it to your friends, you're going to cite it on your blog, you'll make references to it in your day-by-day... you'll use it as a social tool. So, he [tries to] argue, when watermarking the book instead of making it have DRM, you're not taking the social part of having the book out of it. It is social because it isn't anti-social. But he's wrong.

Let me make a small and quick list of social things I can do with my books:


  • I can borrow it;

  • I can leave it on my desk and next time I know Paula is reading it;

  • I can give it;

  • I can sell it;

  • I can trade it (bookcrossing-style);

  • I can leave it on the bus bench after reading it;

  • I can let it be used by everyone in the office;

  • ...



Now, how many of this social things I can do with your "social DRM"? I can't borrow it, 'cause you're not "Marcos Marado", I can't let Paula wander around with it on her laptop, she's not "Marcos Marado" either; I can't give, sell or trade it, which means that if I abandon it (or loose it!) in my flash disk on the bus, I might get in trouble, 'cause you aren't me. Does this sound social to you? To me, like "tradicional DRM", this sounds exactly like "I'm having my freedoms removed".

Thanks but no, thanks, I'm too social to buy anti-social "Social DRM" stuff.

11.11.08

Telegram

There are many many things I want to say, and not that much time. My mental list of "things to blog", each promising an huge post, makes me think that maybe -- just maybe -- most of those blog posts are never going to be written. So, for now, I'm writing you a little telegram, telling only some things, and quickly.

The first, and obvious, is to tell you I'm going to marry soon. That's right: we knew we would going to do it for a long time, but it was only while celebrating her birthday that I did the actual move of asking her. As my friendfeed followers noticed, or her blog readers, she said "Yes". I'm really happy, but there are lots of things to do now: people still don't get married over the Internet, at least in Portugal ;-) Thanks a lot to those who gave us "congratulations" messages, I know I didn't replied to most of you... bear with me.

After a quick talk on Friendfeed between me and Melo, he decided to write Rasputine. Rasputine (or Ras, as Corto Maltese called him) is a generic Moo/MUD/Talker-to-XMPP gateway. You add a buddy to your roster and then you can use it to connect to that world. That means that now, a couple of days later, you can use Jabber to connect to several services, including Selva (add selva@rasputine.simplicidade.org, Second Life (via SLTalker, add sltalker@rasputine.simplicidade.org), Portugal Virtual (add pv@rasputine.simplicidade.org) or MOOsaico (add moosaico@rasputine.simplicidade.org). This also means that I'm now feeling back the urge to make SLTalker a lot more useful (and less buggy) than it is at the moment. It is being completely rewritten, using now libsecondlife 0.5.0.

I'm returning to have a good reading rhythm. So, I've been reading Cory Doctorow's books (he's also now freshly married, congratulations!), finaly got into the mood of getting and reading Neal Stephenson's Cryptonomicon (you know when you know that you will read and like a book, and you're so certain of it that you just keep postponing it? I've been doing that with this book for years...), Satrapi's Embroideries, some more SciFi, some Fantasy, some Manga, some essays... Well, a lot of stuff, but still not as much as I wanted to. Regarding to Cory's books, I have a funny thing to tell: despite all his books being freely available to download on his website, with a Creative Commons license, I've been buying and reading them in the physical book format (and reading a lot of his not-in-books essays in my mobile phone). Well, with "Overclocked" I stumbled into a problem: the book had 16 pages missing!. Frustrating, huh? Well, not that much: thanks to Creative Commons, I just picked up my cellphone and in less than two minutes I was reading what was supposed to be in those 16 pages. See one more case on which Creative Commons is a good idea? ;-)

Oh, speaking of Creative Commons: to celebrate their fund-raising campaign, Creative Commons has released "A Shared Culture", a cool short video by renowned filmmaker Jesse Dylan, explaining very well why Creative Commons is important. Since it is in English, without translations, and I wanted to write about Creative Commons in one of my twice-a-week column at "Programas Livres", a Portuguese web publication, I ended up doing a free translation and adaptation, in both text and audio formats.

And... well, I told you, I have lot's of stuff to talk about, but for now, this is it. If you want to keep more updated than this, consider following my Friendfeed.

20.10.08

MUD is 30: happy birthday!

This blog post is going to be so short that it is the kind if things that I usually only talk about on FriendFeed, but end up not blogging about. But then, reading the few things about the issue that were written, and feeling the overall tone, I decided that, even if small (due to my own time constraints, the theme is good enough to write a book), this is a blog post I had to write.

MUD is 30 years old today. What is MUD? Why is this an important theme? Well, MUD is the percursor and the father of Virtual Worlds and MMO's. Without MUD, there would be no Selva, no WoW, no Second Life. But more than historical influence, MUDs really created the way Virtual Worlds are architectured today.

So, happy birthday!

29.9.08

The broken Web

I have several computers, almost all of the time I'm using one (or several) or three: an HP laptop that with a 1024x768 resolution, the EEE PC 701 with a 800x480 resolution, and finally my BlackBerry 8100 and its way smaller screen. I use them to do everything I use computers for, including surfing the web. The experience is far from perfect, and here are some reasons why:

The web is about content, not displays


Please stop that really old mantra of "nobody uses 1024x768 anymore". I've been listening to that for a while, even if the biggest resolution I have on this three devices is exactly that one. Also, the argument isn't new: I remember at least the "nobody uses 640x480" and the "nobody uses 600x800" arguments, and I'm pretty sure that the thing didn't start there, but in other arguments like "nobody sees only 80 columns anymore". The biggest mistake here isn't to think that nobody uses 1024 while I still do. Nor trying to predict the smallest resolution out there. The mistake here is that the web is about content, not displays. Regardless of what you might think or want, a website is meant to be read by whoever crosses with it, using whatever device he's using. Your website must be visible, readable and usable by every device, with every resolution. It's not hard, and it doesn't mean you should ditch planning your website layout and make it into your CSS files. On the contrary, it means that you should treat content as content and put it in the document layer, presentation as presentation and put it in the presentation layer. But it also means that your presentation can't be made in a "if users are reading this in a 1024 screen", or "if users are reading this in a mobile device", but instead, "if users are reading a paragraph", "if users are reading a caption"...

One Web


Like I said in the previous item, your website should be platform-agnostic. But that doesn't only mean that I should read your website well in every resolution, it means that I should be able to read your website with every browser, in every device. One web, several ways of reaching it. So, remember this next time you're thinking about making a mobile version of your website: if you're planning on do it, you already did it wrong. See, your website should be readable everywhere. That means that if your website is well made, I can read it well in my mobile device without the need of going to a mobile version of it. On the other hand, if you're making me go to another website -- a mobile version -- you're not only stopping me of seeing the website I want to see, giving me a trimmed-down version of the real thing, you're actually making me see another webiste, with all the implications that might have. Remember, if your website doesn't look good in a mobile device in the first place, you already did something wrong...

The Web is The Web


The Web is The Web: nothing more. It's made of standards, composed by a set of documents written in a certain language. You have HTML, XHTML, CSS, Javascript, several formats for images and other objects... and that's it. The Web is just that. The web isn't made of "plugins" or "third-party applications". The web is made to be seen by a browser - any browser. So remember: if you have, for instance, flash in your website, the content must be 100% acessible by a browser without a Flash plugin. I'm serious: it's not my fault if I can't see your website in my mobile phone just because it full of flash. You chose to use a plugin that isn't available to every browser, in every platform, so you have to give an alternative for those visiting your website without that plugin. Oh, and spare me that "you don't have flash, get it here" messages, because you're just making me doing a couple of steps and going to another website where they'll tell me "your platform isn't supported". It's not my fault as a web user, and it's not their fault as a plugin provider: it's your fault as a content publisher.

What else?


There are tons of other things in the web that makes it as broken as it nowadays is. But for now, please think about this three. I bet that with those solved, my web experience would get a lot better.

28.8.08

Music Media - are physical formats dieing?

I guess that there are plenty of ways I could use to talk about this, and a lot of things I could say about it. So, since this comes as a reflection of two things that happened during my vacations, I'll just tell you about those two, talk only a little about my reflections about it... and let you do your own thinking.

8-track-small


The first one is about Stereo 8. What's in the picture is - for those that don't know - a Stereo 8 cartridge. Before the massification of the Cassette Tape, this was what people used to listen as a more portable (yet inferior) media for recorded music. After the event of massification of the use of cassettes, Stereo 8 lost most of their fans, with exceptions of truck drivers (most of their vehicles came with an 8-track player) and in some less developed countries. This one is mine, one of the two only 8-track I have that still play. The curious fact about it is that, for me, this is the best Tango album I ever listened to. In fact, I generally don't like Tango, but I really dig this album, and during vacations spent quite a few hours listening to it while playing Scrabble with Paula. Unlike the other 8-track cartridge I own, this one was never released in any other format. That means that if I want to listen to it, I must do it from the original source (well, maybe next time I go to Lamego I'll try to rip it to another format). This music is virtually lost: not only I don't believe there are that many 8-track listeners out there, but the probability they have this one, and still playable, is pretty much none. The format is so dead, that each time I tell somebody that the last 8-track released I know of was in 2004 (even if I suspect that if I dig enough I'll find that some crazy band released one more recently), their reaction is generally disbelief: they expected it was in the eighties. So, what happens if you want this music? Nothing. You simply can't have it. Of course it would done absolutely no harm if I made a copy and give it to you, but that would be illegal, this isn't in Public Domain. And since it only enters in Public Domain 70 years after its authors die, we both will be dead or deaf by then... you'll just have to believe this is good music. I don't really think that 70 years after-death for getting music into Public Domain makes any sense, but unfortunately EU is thinking in extending it even more...

The other one is about one music store in Lamego: Brincodisco. I had a quite long and interesting chat with its owner (that was already owner of that place even before I was born, my brother and older sister used to buy there their records...), and there were lots of things in that chat and my visit to the store that made me think in several things - so I'll probably end up talking about that store several times in the future. But, for now, the thing that made me enter into the store the most (well, besides being a music store and me being on vacations): there were several cassette tapes exposed there. But the shock was when I entered: my estimation is that the store sells (more or less) 40% CDs, 35% Vinyl records and 25% cassette tapes. That's right: one quarter of the items selling there are cassette tapes. How do you take this piece of information, when the trend nowadays is saying that all the physical formats are dead but CD, that is dying?

Reality check, please: physical formats are never going to die, and CDs and Vinyls have decades in front of them, before they disappear. You might not like this, you might want to ignore this when you make your business, prediction or whatever you do, but if confronted with this, you need to realize that, even if a niche, the physical music market is here to stay. And I'm glad.

23.8.08

Got myself an Eee PC 701

I'm back from my vacations, and there's lots of stuff I want (and will) blog about. But this one had to be now: I got myself a new Eee PC! Well, as a matter of fact both me and Paula wanted an Eee PC, so this one is from and for us both (even if the possibility of getting another one was already discussed). As you might have noticed thanks to the previous blog posts I made about ASUS EEE PC, which made several people think I already had one, I really fancy this cute little laptoy. I only have it for a couple of hours, and the time with it is between me and Paula, so I still didn't have the time to play with it as much as I wanted to: I built a backup USB stick and a backup of the system as it was, fiddled a little with settings and preferences, played with some of the software it has (which includes playing OpenArena and hedgewars O:-)), and got it connected to the internet via Kanguru (3G service). And I had to do this blog post using it, the same as I did when I got my blackberry phone :-)

The next step is already decided: install Debian here!

And for those wanting pictures... Well, I'm sure that either me or Paula will be uploading some of those in the near future :-)

16.8.08

How to use your blackberry as a modem in Debian

[ATENTION: this blog post was updated!]

After aquiring a BlackBerry cellphone, I wanted to use it as a modem for my laptop, running Debian. I still didn't figure how to use it via bluetooth, but here's how to do it via USB:

I recommend you read all this procedure before starting


  • Install barry (so you can use the cellphone via USB, this makes it chargeable too

  • Install XmBlackBerry

  • connect your mobile phone to your computer, via USB

  • sudo XmBlackBerry

  • clicking in the options menu you'll see in the stderr (console where you
    run this app) a /dev/pts/something , which is your GPRS device

  • click "connect" and see if your phone tells you that you're connected to the desktop

  • sudo vi /etc/chatscripts/blackberry :


    ABORT BUSY ABORT ‘NO CARRIER’ ABORT VOICE ABORT ‘NO DIALTONE’ ABORT ‘NO DIAL TONE’ ABORT ‘NO ANSWER’ ABORT DELAYED ABORT ERROR
    SAY “Initializing\n”
    ” ATZ
    SAY "ATE\n"
    OK 'AT+CGDCONT=1,"IP","wap.voicestream.com"'
    OK 'AT'OK 'ATDT*99***1#'
    SAY "Dialing\n"


  • (change "device" here) sudo vi /etc/ppp/peers/blackberry


    debug debug debug
    nodetach
    /dev/pts/device
    115200
    connect "/usr/sbin/chat -f /etc/chatscripts/blackberry"
    nomultilink
    defaultroute
    noipdefault
    ipcp-restart 7
    ipcp-accept-local
    ipcp-accept-remote
    lcp-echo-interval 0
    lcp-echo-failure 999
    modem
    noauth
    nocrtscts
    noipdefault
    novj
    usepeerdns
    user ""
    password ""


  • sudo pppd call blackberry



And you're on!

Yeah, but how to install XmBlackBerry?



Here are the steps to install XmBlackBerry:

* get and install libmotif 2.3.0 debian packages here
* aptitude install xaw3dg-dev xorg-dev x11proto-print-dev autoconf libtool libopensync-dev libxp-dev libcurl4-openssl-dev libreadline5-dev
* As root, run
ln -s /usr/include/X11/Xaw3d /usr/include/X11/Xaw
* Install Xlt (tested with 13.0.13): get it here, untar it and, in its directory...
*

./configure --with-motif-libraries=/usr/X11R6/lib --prefix=/usr
make && make install

* Install XmBlackBerry:

cvs -d:pserver:anonymous@xmblackberry.cvs.sourceforge.net:/cvsroot/xmblackberry co XmBlackBerry
cd XmBlackBerry/
cvs -d :pserver:anonymous@libusb.cvs.sourceforge.net:/cvsroot/libusb co libusb
cd libusb
make && make install
cd ..
./CVSMake
./configure --enable-maintainer-mode --disable-shared --with-motif-libraries=/usr/X11R6/lib
make
sudo make install
sudo ln -s /usr/X11R6/lib/libXm.so.4 /usr/lib/libXm.so.4


And how to install Barry?



You distro should have packages for it (most have). If not...

cvs -d:pserver:anonymous@barry.cvs.sourceforge.net:/cvsroot/barry login 
cvs -z3 -d:pserver:anonymous@barry.cvs.sourceforge.net:/cvsroot/barry co -P barry
cd barrysh
buildgen.sh
./configure --prefix=/usr
make
sudo make install
sudo cp udev/*b* /etc/udev/rules.d/.

6.8.08

Vacations

I'm having a half a month vacations, and the plans were simply to rest. Went from Lisbon to Coimbra, and from there to Lamego, to show the city to Paula. We've seen some things already, like the castle, the now restaurated theatre (where we went to a piano concert from the first international piano festival of Lamego), the museum...

I already have my new cellphone, which I'm using to blog, and now that I'm used to BlackBerry's qwerty keyboard I'm really happy with the device, and I must say that using it to blog is quite a joyful experience.

But now, enough: I have good weather, a nice view, good cold beer to drink and a newspaper to read. See you!

23.7.08

Busy Times

My "busy times" continue, and I don't expect to recover from my "blog posts scarcity" in the next following months: I'll have some vacations next month, but I intend to use those days to rest, and avoid using a computer... Of course, you can keep track of what I've been doing via FriendFeed, a tool I'm now addicted to, to the point of having replaced my regular RSS reader by it. But there are still some news I want to talk about:

There's a new ARG comming out, and I'm eager to try it, play it or at least keep track of it. I'm talking about Deleted: The Game - an ARG centered in a female vlog'er that moved to NYC and met a guy that is funding a startup that aims to protect its costumers from identity theft... Seems realy fun.

There's a new DNS flaw out there, so if you're a system administrator and have to maintain some DNS servers, you must check it out. It's grave, and you most probably are affected.

Some music-related news: a piece on a particular music retailer, that sells music for USA prisions, shows the real impact new technologies have on the music market, since this guy doesn't have any of those problems. Curious how he sells more Cassettes than CDs, and how his major problem nowadays is the fact that less stuff is released in this format.

After a discussion on a private mailing list about the fact that it is almost impossible to buy a computer without having to buy Windows, even if you don't want it (and if it is right or wrong, if it should be considered bundling or not, and if governments should put a hand on the issue or let markets work for themselves), a new story about someone buying a laptop and then forcing the vendor to return the software money appeared. This time it was an HP laptop with Windows Vista, which wasn't used by the buying since he didn't agreed with its User Agreement.

Regarding to events, I'm planning to go to Aveiro for DebianDayPT 2008, then to Coimbra for BarCamp Portugal 2008, and then to Amsterdam in September to attend to IBC 2008. I'll probably have to miss SHiFT 2008 here in Lisbon in October, but it promises to be a hell of a conference, and you should check it out.

NATO has included ODF in its list of mandatory standards to promote interoperability. NATO's standards list includes RTF, XML, but not OOXML, Microsoft's direct competitor to ODF, which is currently undergoing a controversial ISO certification process. Observers say that the Dutch Defence Ministry threw its weight behind ODF. The public sector in the Netherlands expressly supports open standards and open source.

Against experts' recommendations, against innovation, fairness, artists and consumers, EU decided that copyright should be extended to 95 years after death. This is still no final decision, and there's a lot of work to do in order to prevent this.

Finaly, the European directive I called "Big Brother directive" back in 2005, was now implemented in Portugal, making it the second European country (after Sweden) to implement it. Now, every Portuguese "comunication service" provider has three months to prepare everything to comply with the law and start spy and logging their costumers comunications. Or switch countries.

21.7.08

Welcome to Equal Dreams, the fair music market

Equal Dreams is a platform which enables direct sales of digital music from right holders to consumers as well as easy communication and co-operation between artists and audience. Sales proceeds can be automatically distributed to right holders (musicians, composers, producers, record labels) using the royalty administration system built into the service. By using Equal Share feature an artist may seek funding for a music production project. In this case artist sells limited economic rights of the pre-ordered music to the audience meaning that a customer making Equal Share pre-order earns royalty from the sales of the music. In Equal Dreams artists and their audience may also join their forces for a good cause - Equal Aid.

After their press release, and after trying the beta version myself, I decided to contact them and make a couple of questions. Here are them, along with the answers they kindly provided.

Last year you decided to create Equal Dreams, and now you're launching it. What's the background? What made you create this company, and what are your goals?

Few years ago I got interested in following the development in music business. It was really interesting to read and learn about different services, opinions and visions. I built Equal Dreams concept together with musicians Heidi Kärkkäinen (my sister) and Anders Uddeskog in the beginning of 2007 from the scattered ideas I had created in my free time. We were also fortunate to find great business partners who got excited about our idea, and have helped to bring Equal Dreams from concept to reality.

Our goal is to provide musicians the best music service in the World. We wish to offer musicians and their audience new and equal opportunities to create and enjoy music together.

EqualDreams offers three different (yet integrated) services: Equal Dreams online store, Equal Share, and Equal Aid. I find it curious, since it's the first music 2.0 service I see that tries to bundle three different things: one "fair" music store, one way of letting artists have their albums crowdfunded, and one way of helping charity organizations. What made you try to achieve this three goals in one strike? Aren't you afraid that your service might turn-down those artists looking for just one or two of the three services you provide?

There are certainly many good services that are specialized on one topic. However, I believe that there is also a need for a service that can combine fluently, simply and reliably the most important features from the artist point of view. As you pointed out, we see our services not as separate, but integrated, and mutually supportive; our underlying “key word”, fairness, encompasses all these three areas. All artists, whether they are starting out and have just written their first song, or are old timers with ten albums, are welcome to open their own store and price their music. Equal Share enables especially beginning artists to start their careers, and hopefully create closer relationship with their fans. With Equal Aid the artists can support charitable causes together with their fans.

We hope that we can provide artists with the set of tools that really makes their life easier when there are lot of changes taking place in the music business. Artists can use these tools in ways that fit their particular situation.

Equal Share (that, I must confess, is the most attractive of your three services) competes with other services in the crowdfunding music world, like SellABand or SliceThePie. Why should an artist go for Equal Share and not those other services?

Compared to the other services Equal Share provides the artists with more flexibility in defining what he or she is actually selling to the audience and for what price; first of all, there are no pre-set target goals, but the artists can define their own funding needs; after all the quality of the produced music does not necessarily correlate with the amount of money spend in the project. Nowadays this is true more than ever as the prices of digital recording equipment have come down so drastically. Artist could also use Equal Share together with a record label/producer to gather a partial funding for the production. Secondly, the co-funding, which works with a pre-order concept, can be flexibly assigned to even just one song, and the pre-order price can be set as low as 0.50 EUR. We think this is more attractive from the customer’s point of view than being prescribed to invest tens of euros. Fans can be updated about the progress of the production project using the internal messaging system in the Service.

Why do you believe that crowdfunding can work regarding to music?

I think being able to participate in production of music, especially if it is together with artists one likes, is very appealing – this represents a new way of being a fan; instead of admiring afar people are now able to play a part in making new music. Equal Share is about experience and co-operation - being closer to the artist.

What other things people might expect from you? Are your plans consolidating the business you're launching now, or keep investing on new ideas and business models?

Our vision is to offer the best possible services for artists, and we intend to work hard to meet that goal. So, customers certainly can expect new ideas to be implemented. Of course we welcome feedback from our customers in order to keep us on right track.

All your business models have the base of having people paying for music. In a scenario where we have more and more people wanting to experience music, but giving less value to recorded music, specially digital, aren't you afraid that people simply don't pay for music, and choose to spend their time downloading free stuff instead of being your costumers?

Piracy has been treated as a major threat towards music industry. However, we see this is a question of values and attitudes, and believe there is a strong tendency to pay for music instead of acquiring it without charge if this supports the artist.

People are ready to pay for good experiences and we believe that artists can offer good and new experiences to their customers by using our service. Equal Dreams will be able to offer consumers an access to music by new artists that may not be available anywhere else.

In our business model our success is dependent on the artists’ success. I think it is a healthy starting point for our service business, and it gives us a humble attitude towards our customers.

Where do you think the music industry is heading too? Some people think we're in the verge of living a process of creative destruction, some think that the music industry is doomed, while others think that things were never better than today. What are your thoughts?

I think Internet as a new technology has brought great new possibilities for music business as any other business. Eventually people will find and learn new ways to organize their work by using new technology. I don't believe in a process of creative destruction at all. An artist will always want to create art - business models or copyright laws has little to do with that fact.

Any final words for our readers, artists or music lovers?

I hope you will find our service fun and exciting. We wish to hear about you and get your feedback on how to make Equal Dreams even better.

4.7.08

Are you European? It's urgent, Europe needs you

There is a very important EU vote taking place on July 7th on some amendments to telecommunications legislation that threaten to sneak in a number of catastrophic measures:

European Internet users could be blocked from lawful activities by mandatory spyware, in the interests of their security. The right to use free software for internet access would therefore not be assured anymore. The neutrality of the Internet is also directly attacked, as is the principle that technical intermediaries have no obligation to prior surveillance of contents. Other amendments will de facto enable administrative authorities to obligate ISPs to work with content producers and rights-holders' private police, including the sending of intimidating messages, with no judicial or regulatory oversight.
These measure goes further than the French "graduated response" project, which has been subject to widespread opposition, including by the European Parliament on April 10th. That is undoubtedly why those amendments have turned up on early july, and why those drafting them use subtle rhetoric and crossed-references to make the overall text harder to understand (more than 800 amendements on 5 directives were tabled).

This is really serious: I urge you if you possibly can to write to your MEP. You can do it using the fab WriteToThem service, which makes it as easy as can be. Make sure it gets to them before July 7th (yes, it's tight – that's how sneaky they've been).

If you don't know what to write, here's a great letter you can use as a template.

Tomorrow, NeoFolk in Portugal

Fire + Ice, Orplid, Barditus and Àrnica
First a conference by Ian Read, then a concert with Fire + Ice, Orplid, Barditus and Àrnica. Tomorrow Portugal is Looking for Europe.

If you're going, feel free to talk with me there, and to tell the world you're going.

3.7.08

HOWTO install HedgeWars (Worms clone) in an EEE PC

hedgewars screen shot
HedgeWars is a "Worms" clone and a pretty cool game. They put it this way:
Hedgewars, it's a Blast! This is the funniest and most addictive game you'll ever play - hilarious fun that you can enjoy anywhere, anytime. Hedgewars is a turn based strategy game but the real buzz is from watching the devastation caused by those pesky hedgehogs with those fantastic weapons - sneaky little blighters with a bad attitude!
By popular demand, here's a (quick and simple) HOW TO of how to install this game on an EEE PC (where it runs awesomely):
  • Edit your /etc/apt/sources.list, and add this line in that file:
deb http://www.backports.org/debian etch-backports main contrib non-free
  • In a terminal (CTRL+ALT+T to open it) write:sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install hedgewars
  • Edit once again the /etc/apt/sources.list file and remove the new entry, so your system ends up as it was before
  • in the terminal write sudo apt-get update to make your changes in the sources list being in effect.
  • Now you have the game installed. To run it, in a terminal write hedgewars. To play it well, you'll have to set it up to fullscreen mode.
There you go: have a nice gaming!

23.6.08

Installing Second Life on an EEE PC

I've been playing with an EEE PC lately. This 299€ (in Portugal) GNU/Linux ASUS laptop is awsome, and I'm really happy that ASUS did it. They did some mistakes, like using Xandros Server 2.0 as base for their distro, making me think, for instance, that if I had one of these I would replace their Operating System with something like Debian Eee PC, eeexubuntu or even eeedora. I might write about my thoughts on EEE PC later, but for now, a quick HOWTO (because I think this isn't documented nowhere) on installing Second Life on EEE PC.

HOWTO Install Second Life on an EEE PC:

  1. edit your /etc/X11/xorg.conf and change DefaultColorDepth 16 to DefaultColorDepth 24
  2. restart your X (press control+alt+backspace, for instance)
  3. edit your /etc/apt/sources.list file and add this lines:

    deb http://ftp.de.debian.org/pub/debian testing main contrib non-free
    deb http://apt.byteme.org.uk/apt/ unstable main
  4. in a terminal (CTRL+ALT+t) write sudo aptitude update && aptitude install slviewer
  5. Remove the added lines on /etc/apt/sources.list and in the terminal run aptitude update to go back to the state you were
  6. Your Second Life is now installed. To run it write slviewer in a terminal.


Regarding to using Second Life itself, you'll notice that the windowed view assumes a bigger resolution than the one you have, so I recommend you to start by going to the options, changing the ratio scale and remove the windowed mode. Et voilá, you're on Second Life!

Second Life on EEE PC

22.6.08

Blogging in Portuguese

If you are a regular reader of this blog, you know by now that I'm involved in several projects that are cutting my time to blog. While some of you would prefer the regular blogging I have done in the past, I still think that there are things that should be talked and there are things that should be done. In order to make both, for now at least, the frequency of my blogging must be low as it has been in the last couple of months, and I'm glad that it is that way, because I am really getting things done. So, some of you chose to not only follow my blogging here, but also follow my a lot more frequent microblogging (on FriendFeed). Those that follow me that way might have noticed by now that I'm now also blogging in another place, and in another language.

From yesterday, I started writting a bi-weekly column in "Programas Livres" (translate to "Free Programs"), where I talk about Digital Rights. So, if you know Portuguese, you might want to start reading my column there (here's the RSS feed). Without promises, I expect to translate those articles (at least some of them) and post them here.

16.6.08

Motorola no more

If you know me for some time, you'll know that I am, or used to be, a Motorola fan on cellphones. The first time I bought a Motorola cellphone the choice was easy: I wanted a cellphone from a company that wasn't lobbying in Europe for the adoption of Software Patents, which discarded the chance of Siemens mobile phones, which was what I was used to use, despite not being really fond of them. Buying my C650 was a really cool choice: I really liked that cellphone, and it was that cellphone that made me think more about cellphones as mobile devices - mobile computers. At the end of 2005 the phone was getting ill, and in December it made me really pissed off. I decided that C650 was older than it should, and that I should put it to rest. Sonaecom (where I work) helped that decision, deciding to give me a cellphone. That time the choice was not so easy, but I knew I wanted a Motorola. I wanted to choose one inside my budget, and E1 was the only one with a music player, so I quickly went for it, replacing both my C650 and my portable music player. It was also a good bet: I both liked the cellphone and the company that made it, with their strong relationship with Open Source et al... and then using it as a modem via bluetooth made it an important piece of my digital life.

With all the hype around iPhone (curious this post being today, after an afternoon talking about this exactly), I even wrote about why, for me, E1 is better than the iPhone. Heck, I'll say it again: if E1 was from company A, and iPhone also was from company A, where A is a company I like, I would choose E1 over the iPhone.

Last March I decided that I should replace my E1 phone, and, once again, the choice was being made around several Motorola models. Other things stepped in the way of choosing one (basicly I've been dedicating more time in this blog - which is almost abandoned - than to choose and order a new phone), so, until today, the choice was postponed, with thoughts going to V3xx or K3.

But today... I read at Last100 that Motorola launched an online store, "selling" both music and movies for cellphones... crippled with DRM. Well, as you might already know by now, I don't support companies that like to spit on their costumers freedom. After this years, my relationship with Motorola as a cellphone costumer is now over.

So, I'm still searching for a new cellphone. The decision about the vendor is already made: it will be a Blackberry. I only have now to decide which one: Blackberry 8100 or the more powerful Blackberry 8800. Oh, and for those talking about the iPhone, here's already why BlackBerry is better than the iPhone, even the 2nd version of it ;-)

12.6.08

Document standards: there can be only one?

The Inquirer is running a story telling that Brydon, from ISO, told them that

"Naturally, its desirable that there is only one international standard. The market seems to be going for two. But eventually one international standard will be listed."

Considering that there is already one document standard, ODF, and that OOXML is not a standard, is there that much to say? Obivously the right conclusion for this whole thread is that ISO should say NO to OOXML as an ISO standard, and the worldwide focus (including that of Microsoft) should be into making ODF better. Looking to what already happened in the last few years regarding to OOXML this is improbable: Microsoft is surely going to apply their unethical tatics to ruin the digital documents world...

11.6.08

OOXML is NOT a standard

I don't usually do this, but this time, here it goes: I'm quoting an entire press release, this time from ISO:


Four national standards body members of ISO and IEC – Brazil, India, South Africa and Venezuela – have submitted appeals against the recent approval of ISO/IEC DIS 29500, Information technology – Office Open XML formats, as an ISO/IEC International Standard.

In accordance with the ISO/IEC rules governing the work of their joint technical committee ISO/IEC JTC 1, Information technology, the appeals are currently being considered by the ISO Secretary-General and the IEC General Secretary who, within a period of 30 days (to the end of June), and following whatever consultations they judge appropriate, are required to submit the appeals, with their comments, to the ISO Technical Management Board and the IEC Standardization Management Board.

The two management boards will then decide whether the appeals should be further processed or not. If they decide in favour of proceeding, the chairmen of the two boards are required to establish a conciliation panel which will attempt to resolve the appeals. The process could take several months.

According to the ISO/IEC rules, a document which is the subject of an appeal cannot be published as an ISO/IEC International Standard while the appeal is going on. Therefore, the decision to publish or not ISO/IEC DIS 29500 as an ISO/IEC International Standard cannot be taken until the outcome of the appeals is known.

This, in other words, means that OOXML is NOT a standard.

1.6.08

Bill Gates

Disliking Microsoft for years, I heard countless times sentences like "you might not like Microsoft, but you'll have to admit that Bill Gates is a genious". I don't agree. As a matter of fact, I wholeheartedly disagree. Usually, my reply is something like "I don't think Bill Gates is a genious, I think he's an asshole". Hey - it's my oppinion and its worth what is worth, but I really think he is an asshole. And more.

Reading a Portuguese newspaper, there was an article about Bill Gates, with three quotes from him. Two of them just support my oppinion. Let me show you...

Bill Gates, the asshole:

«If you can't do it good, at least do it looking good»


Bill Gates, the lunatic:

«There are people that dislike capitalism and there are people that don't like PC's. But there's no one that likes PC's and that don't like Microsoft»


(Sentences were in Portuguese, translation to English by me, so these might not be ipsis verbis. Also, emphasis mine.)

Now, if you know something about computers, you see the obvious flaws of this sentences.

Worse than putting some piece of bad software on the streets, if decieving your costumers by lieing and telling that piece of crap is not only good, but awsome. This is common practice of Microsoft, and one of the most criticised things on them. Which leads me to the second sentence: not only I myself like PC's and abhor Microsoft, but also I'm not alone, far from it. Try, for instance, go to a search engine (one that isn't owned by Microsoft, please) and search for "Microsoft sucks".

18.5.08

The Player of Games



All reality is a game. Physics at its most fundamental, the very fabric of our universe, results directly from the interaction of certain fairly simple rules, and chance; the same description may be applied to the best, most elefant and both intellectually and aesthetically satisfying games. By being unknowable, by resulting from events which, at the sub-atomic level, cannot be fully predicted, the future remains makkeable, and retains the possibility of change, the hope of coming to prevail; victory, to use an unfashionable word. In this, the future is a game; time is one of the rules. Generally, all the best mechanistic games - those which can be played in any sense "perfectly", such as a grid, Prallian scope, 'nkraytle, chess, Farnic dimensions - can be traced to civilisations lacking a realistic view of the universe (let alone the reality). They are also, I might add, invariably pre-machine-sentience societies.

The very first-rank games acknowledge the element of chance, even if they rightly restrict raw luck. To attempt to construct a game on any other lines, no matter how complicated and subtle the rules are, and regardless of the scale and differentiation of the playing volume and the variety of the powers and attibutes of the pieces, is inevitably to schackle oneself to a conspectus which is not merely socially but techno-philosophically lagging several ages behind our own. As a historical exercise it might have some value, As a work of the intellect, it's just a waste of time. If you want to make something old-fashioned, why not build a wooden sailing boat, or a steam engine? They're just as complicated and demanding as a mechanistic game, and you'll keep fit at the same time.

--- in "The Player of Games", Iain M. Banks

Great way of saying it. This is a book I recommend, not only for those that like SciFi, but also for those curious about gaming, game theory, or "different" social/cultural/political scenarios.

Talking about "games like life", I've been playing for quite a while an interesting web-based game called "eRepublik", and Ihave some invites, so if you want one just drop me a line. I hope I'll manage to write an extensive article about this game, but for now I'll just sum it up: A new world, with social issues, political issues, and virtually complete freedom to evolve. Here, you can be a polititian, owner of your company or employee, you have to take care of your wellness, don't forget to have food to eat, and - if you want - try to make the world a better place. Things evolve quite fast there, we're in the verge of "living" the first World War, Portugal is a fascist, almost dictatorial country, Pakistan aims to be the "worldwide country" and subject everyone to their religion, one USA state wants to be independent, India was conquered... Why don't you try out and see for yourself?

15.5.08

The SSH/SSL vulnerability: what you should know

I wasn't going to post about this, but it seems that, for my own sanity, I must. As you might know by now, a Debian Security Advisory came out, talking about a problem that affected the OpenSSL package, not only for Debian but for its derivatives too, like Ubuntu.

My first two remarks, and probably the most important ones for my thoughts about this issue:
  • If what you know about this issue is what you read on Slashdot, YOU'RE WRONG. Even the news itself is wrong, and the comments are clueless, written by people that don't know shit about what are they talking about. Worse than useless, that story on /. is disinformative.
  • If you think that this issue only affects users of Debian and Debian-derivatives, think twice. Any Linux/Unix/*BSD system is vulnerable that grants access to a key that was generated on an affected Debian or Ubuntu system. Erich has a simple yet good explanation on why.


Now, my stand on the issue: if you really feel the need to mock, criticize or otherwise comment about this issue, make yourself and me a favour, and avoid making a fool of yourself. In other words, find out what really happened, what is this all about and make your own oppinion based on facts, instead of just falling into the absurdity that spreaded over, saying silly stuff like "Debian does not contribute to upstream" (what a joke, did you ever read the Debian Social Contract?), or "Debian shouldn't make security fixes". As a matter of fact, John Goerzen wrote an interesting article about some of those things and why they are wrong.

So, to help you a little, here's a small list of articles you might want to read about the issue:


Yes, it was an unfortunate thing to happen. So, go fix your stuff and leave me alone.

12.5.08

Tidbits


Whom rights?



If you're an interested in the developments of the music industry like I am, you'll bump into the sentence "rights of content owners" countless times. 10,200 is the number given by Google if you search for that term. Which doesn't cease to scare me, because people are really serious about talking about it. Shouldn't they be talking about authors rights instead?

Merankorii's new CD



Talking about music, I just announced in Merankorii's blog that Merankorii's 6th release is getting out tomorrow. This is going to be a limited edition CD split with two other bands: Ancestral and Njiqahdda. A new track from the album can already be downloaded from <Merankorii's MySpace, following Merankorii's one free track per month inniciative.

NIN, Radiohead, ColdPlay...



And this leads me to another thing I was planning to blog about for quite a long time. Some people ask me, knowing my thoughts about music 2.0, the fact that I have a musical project and a micro-label, why don't I "go free". Well, going free is great. I'm a heavy supporter of free music. I have lots of music freely available, all my tracks are licensed with Creative Commons but one - that is in Public Domain. Yet, there are things you can do and things you can't. See, some people sometimes tell me that "it's hard to have a band" or that "it's hard to have a label". No - I think that they're wrong. Having one of those has never been easier. But when you say that "my band drains all my money" I have to argue that, well, probably you aren't managing it the right way. See, NIN (above all, Radiohead and ColdPlay experiments can't measure against Nine Inch Nails in terms of concept exploration and free music money making) have the means (number of "true fans", number of listeners, awareness, carreer, investment budget,...) to do what they do, the way they do. I don't take Trent Reznor any credit for being so: I'm convinced that if he hadn't those means he would manage to do what he wanted to anyway. But doing things "the NIN way" works if you're NIN, won't probably work if you're not. So, each Noori Records release works its own way, and the same thing applies to Merankorii. Surely: I could give all Merankorii music for free, earn from ads and tips. But then I couldn't manage to have profit (which gives me increasing financing budget for both the band and the label) while making physical releases, and both me and some of Merankorii's fans wouldn't be happy without those. For those that think that music must be free, that want Merankorii's tracks but not pay for them, well, they'll have'em anyway, but one track per month. Also, when you have "pay as you want" albums and you can buy the music for a price from $1 to $20 USD, you'll only have to spend a couple of dollars if you're really in a hurry.

Free Software



To end this blog post, and keeping the talk on "Free", I'll end leaving you with a great letter that I'll resume as "Free Software - making the world a better place".

6.5.08

Debian Barcamp-style event to happen in Portugal

DDPT08

At the 16th of August 2008, in Aveiro (Portugal), an event called DebianDayPT 2008 will happen, in comemoration of the 15th Aniversaty of the Debian Distribution.

This meeting aims to gather all those interested in Debian GNU/Linux distribution or in the Debian Project. Yet, it is a meeting open to all, including those not familiar with Debian or Linux.

It aims to:
  • create awareness of Linux, and Debian in particular
  • Celebrate Debian's 15th Anniversary
  • exchanging knowledge, thoughts and ideas about Debian GNU/Linux
They're going to be Presentations, Workshops and networking opportunities. It will start at 10am and end by 17:45.

Know more about this event at http://www.debianpt.org/debiandaypt.

30.4.08

Underneath It All (Nine Inch Nails Tribute)

I'm not really into Nine Inch Nails, but since I know quite a few readers of this blog are fans of NIN, and since I think this compilation is going under the radar, here's some pub:

Underneath It All (Nine Inch Nails Tribute) is a free 2CD's compilation in digital format, a tribute with 31 NIN covers. It was released today, and can be freely downloaded here.

The artwork, where the track listing is, can be viewed and downloaded here.


Underneath It All (Nine Inch Nails Tribute)

27.4.08

Lest we Forget

While with silence in this blog, the last two days were spent in rememberance.

In the 25th, here in Portugal, is a day to celebrate Freedom, since it was in the 25th of April that Portugal got rid of an oppressive regime. I could write countless words about the importance of this event, but instead I'll just leave you with a post about the 25th of April and Freedom.

In the 26th, time to mourn and manifest. The 22nd anniversary of Chernobyl Nuclear Disaster. Anti-Nuclear Artists from all over the world decided to mark this day by releasing the (free, creative commons) "Anti-Nuclear Music Compilation". I participated with an unreleased Merankorii track. Know more about this compilation here.

25.4.08

Connecting to SLTalker via SSL

I've missed the opportunity to see Wong Kar Wai's latest movie this evening, so instead, I kept the ride of "coding for talkers" from this morning, when I made a Twitter reader for Selva, and decided to finaly implement SSL for SLTalker. For those that do not know, SLTalker is a personal project of mine of implementing a talker-like interface for Second Life.

So, how to connect via telnet over SSL? Easy: the host is portugal-virtual.org and the port is 123. If you're in GNU/Linux or any *nix-like environment you can try

telnet -z ssl portugal-virtual.org 123

If you get an error saying that the -z option isn't available is because you don't have netkit's telnet-ssl package installed. Another option (bad choice in terms of usability, but this one works also on Windows) is to use OpenSSL and try:

openssl s_client -host portugal-virtual.org -port 123

Now, if you want a decent client, I recommend you to try out the popular TinyFugue (best known as tf), that already has SSL support in it's 5.0 version (still in beta). This is the only alternative I know to OpenSSL for Windows.

If you try this and have some feedback. please leave a comment. And yes, I know you're waiting for new features, bugs fixed and more usability: I'm working on that, but I'm yet far from ready to a new (and quite different) release. Bare with me...

20.4.08

TakeOff 2008 // Artists Promotion


I usually try to avoid making one blog post about more than one thing, but I'm using the train travelling time to write this, and since it's stuff that is still floating in my mind, I guess it's better to write it down now than postpone it, perheaps forever.

TakeOff 2008



Yesterday, in Coimbra, we had the second year of "TakeOff" happening. TakeOff aims to be a conference about "taking off" your idea/startup (computer-related).

This year the theme was achieved a lot better, and I liked to listen to all presentations but the last one. The event was preety good overall, but the number of folks there (more or less 130) and the tight schedule (started early, presentations of 45 minutes, only three pauses - two coffee breaks and lunch time, and had to run off after the event) made me loose half a presentation, and still I didn't manage to do not even a little part of the networking I wanted to. Lot's of conversations were left open, and other didn't even start, but I guess I'll manage to fix that in the comming weeks. This quite reminds me the importance of BarCamps, and this year I expect to see a more scheduled barcamp (even if schedules go against its rules) in order to gather people wanting to go thanks to the presentations, but giving more space for debate, socialization and networking.

About the presentations themselves, there's a lot that could be said, but I don't think it would be that relevant to say it now (or maybe I'm not just in the mood): or you were there or you weren't. So here's a really quick summary.

Mário Rela, from IPNLis, talked about IPNLis, it's relation with the University of Coimbra and how do they help new ideas and seeds evolve in a pre-incubation scenario, until it's time to the actual creation of a startup. It was really quick and not in depht, so lot's of people got the wrong idea about what IPNlis gives to this startup-wannabes (hello VD). The second part of his presentation was actualy by Tiago Serra, that made a quick presentation about one project he made via IPNlis to "Ciência Viva". I already knew a lot about that project, so I think that his video worked a lot better for me than for most of the audience. It is really interesting, in particular the issues around interaction and how did he solve them (nice playful interaction there). I'll talk to Tiago into uploading the video on YouTube or something, I really think it can be inspiring. Then, we had VD from 7syntax talking. It was a nice presentation for those wanting to know a little about the experience of creating a startup and finding out what to do and how to do it. VD uploaded his presentation here (PDF). The third presentation was a "I wanted to create my company and I did it" kind of talk, nothing really noteworthy there. Then, Bruno Pedro talked about tarpipe. It's a really really interesting project, since he's framework can be used to do lots of things, but the use case they seem to be after isn't that exciting. I already knew the project and wanted to test it, but I wasn't really excited about it before the presentation. I guess he should try to explain no tarpipe's website like he did on TakeOff, maybe with a video or something. A "developer's preview" is going to be available really soon (definively in a month's time) and I'll surely play with it.

After lunch we had a presentation of the cool "wine social network" Adegga, and it was cool to know more details of what's behind that service I use. Mario Valente, now unemployed, talked about what he wasn't going to talk and why (the past, basicly), and then told us about the three ideas he had for a startup - he's choosing from one of those. This description might seem like "boooring", but it was quite the opposite. Presentation here (PDF). Oh, and I've learned to quit that silly idea of opening a live music pub :-). Then, Celso - the creator of the biggest Portuguese web portal Sapo - talked about his experience (basicly the history of Sapo). It was quite fun actually, he gave some good tips (about which I took some notes for the "to think about" list) and he ended with a cool video showing how is it like to work on an ISP... To end the day, a VC talking. If this could be the cherry on the top of the cake (better a slice of the chocolate cake, right?), it was... disappointing - and boring. I guess that those nowadays actively looking for a VC it might have been interesting, but not for most of the people, if you take in account the public reactions. End of TakeOff.

Artists Promotion



From TakeOff we headed to a restaurant, had dinner and rushed off to FNAC, where a debate about Artists Promotion was about to start. Curiously I met an old friend, and I'm sorry I hadn't much time to talk with him. But talking with him led me to some thoughts about something really wrong going on in the Portuguese computer science marketplace. But I'll leave that to the "to blog about sometime" list.

The debate was about how to do music artists promotion, and was headed by the folk behind "Santos da Casa", a Portuguese radio show dedicated to Portuguese music, the guy behind Rastilho Records, a Portuguese indie label that has acts like Dead Combo or Linda Martini, and Miro Vaz representing his new (little more than one year old) indie label "rewind music", a Portuguese indie label that releases more "radio-friendly" bands (he has several acts playing in soap operas and such). I took a lot of notes and learnt a lot, even if in the begining the event was being quite boring. I'll apply several of the things I learnt there in the future, so you'll surely read about that later. For now it's suffice to say that what shocked me the most is that this labels are working in the same way that they would do ten years ago, with the only exceptions of having a myspace for all their bands, uploading the video-clips some of their bands do up there on YouTube, and - in Rastilho's case - they also have an "online store" selling their CDs, vinyls and merch on their website. They should know better by now, even if their business isn't suffering with the loss of sales majors have to deal with.

18.4.08

TakeOff and Artists in Promotion

I'm heading to Coimbra. Tomorrow I'll have a full day:

TakeOff 2008, 19 April, morning and afternoon
conversa "Artistas em Promoção", 19 April, evening

Expect post-blogging on both events. Have a nice weekend.


TakeOff 2008
Santos da Casa

14.4.08

meme: top ten UNIX shell commands (revisited)

Two years ago I posted here about a "top10 UNIX shell commands" memo. Seems that the memo is flooding my feeds once again, so I decided to re-run the test once again: this a another machine, I use it a lot differently, and so I expect completely different results.

[marado@Thule][09:22:14]
[~]>history | awk '{print $2}' | awk 'BEGIN {FS="|"} {print $1}' | sort | uniq -c | sort -nr | head -10
67 cd
49 vi
33 ll
30 ls
26 fg
23 gpg
22 ssh
22 spamc
20 wget
17 su

So... er... cd, ls and ll are there as obvious, same thing as they were two years ago. Also there since two years ago, is vi and fg. About that, I wrote, then:
fg should be aggregated in vi, since I almost never :q my vim instances, but, instead, put them in background...

Finaly, su (unsurprisingly), gpg (it is not everytime that I use it this frequently, tho), ssh (my work is done - a lot - in remote machines, to which I connect via ssh), spamc (yeah, I've been playing with spamassassin lately), and wget.

Regarding wget:

[marado@Thule][09:40:50]
[~]>history|grep wget|grep http|cut -d"/" -f3|sort -u

megatokyo.com
standalone.gorodok.net
www.cycliclaw.com
www.northaunt.com
www.serpent.com.pl

All of this is wget of free music, and megatokyo (I usually don't go to the website, I just wget the latest strips).

6.4.08

Tecnonov 2008: fiasco or success?


I could start writing about this issue in a several number of ways. I could, and maybe should, start by not using a title such as "fiasco or success?". But, while a lot other prespectives could be chosen to talk about how was Tecnonov 2008, and probably some more useful than this one, I'm writting this way because I'll try to focus in what was more important for me, and what I think is important in future tech "meetings" (conferences, unconferences, social meetings, whatever) in Portugal, at least for folks like me.

First of all, Tecnonov. Tecnonov is the result of an idea that Octávio and me had while I was working at MagicBrain. The concept evolved, and in the end of 2006 we already knew exactly what we wanted. Tecnonov 2007 was, thus, planned to be a slightly technical free conference about Technology and Inovation in Portugal, in a public place (like FNAC) where anyone could pass by and listen if they were curious about the theme.

Tecnonov 2007 went well: it was Winter and the wether wasn't pushing you to go outside and play, so many people went to FNAC and ended listening to the talks that happened. Sometimes, the place was really full, with most of the people not knowing that they would be listening to a Tecnonov presentation before. But a lot of other things were also happening, like - for instance - the thirst there was for "geek meetings" in Portugal, that weren't happening.

Tecnonov 2008 was... different. We chose FNAC because it was a public place, and the event could run for free. We decided to make it bigger, so we made it from morning till dinner time. We scheduled thirteen presentations, doubling last year's. It was a sunny day. The whole day was spent with almost only the people that went there to talk about something, presenting to the others that were there doing the same. If the target was to talk about technology and innovation to a non-tech public, then Tecnonov 2008 was a fiasco.

But was it? Sure, this year we didn't have people blogging about the event afterwards (at least until now). But, for me, this was the best event I attended to in Portugal (thanks to the networking I did, the stuff I learnt, the people I met and talked to, the contacts that were made, the informal conversation it was). At least two other attendies also prefered this year's event than last years. Why? Were the presentations better? Well, maybe, but I don't believe that's what matters in this issue. I think that this year Tecnonov was a success, because people interested in technology, with similar or different backgrounds, had the chance to informally talk about different things, learn and network.

So, what's the future of Tecnonov? I don't know - it's too soon to tell. What I can say is that:

  • If you want to talk to non-tech people, this model doesn't work (at least as it should). I have several ideas of how to make a better model, but I'm not really interested in going into that (at least for now). (If you're interested in talking about it, feel free to leave a comment here.)

  • This is the kind of "informal meeting" that, at least I, was seeking with Barcamp, OpenCoffee, or "OpenPub" or whatever. We managed to do it "by chance", but the formula is not hard: and it would be awsome to have something like what this Tecnonov was for me several times a year.

  • "Social Meetings" or "Technical Meetings" were regulars are asked to do "Lightning Talks" or something like that, well... That doesn't work. Plus, you'll be throwing away cool oportunities. Two of the best talks this Tecnonov had for me was one from a Debian Developer talking about Debian (its philosophy, development process, community and so on), and other from a lawyer focused on "digital copyright" issues (copyright applied to computer programs and so on). I don't think I would have the pleasure to listen these guys talking if they're were invited to be there (so, no chance of these kinds of presentations in a Barcamp, for instance).



Why am I saying all this? Where am I heading to? Well, these are just "raw thoughts" that came to me after this event. They don't mean nothing - yet. What I know is that Portuguese tech people still feel the need to find ways (real places, events and forums of gathering, networking, discussion,...) of hanging out with each other. In two weeks we'll have the TakeOff conference, and this year we'll have another SHiFT. Barcamp Coimbra 2008 and Sapo CodeBits 2008 are probably happening (I suppose). But is that enough? Is that the best way? In the meantime, the best is just gathering with some people in a Pub? Or is something else that could be made?



Unrelated note: I'm, on purpose, not talking about the various talks that happened. Still, here's the note that every one of them was - for me - really interesting. Maybe I'll talk about each of them later, but that's not as important as talk about what I'm talking about in this post (at least for me).

Note to self: never do 45 minutes presentations again. If the presentations and issues are good, then the funnier part - where people discuss about it - will make any theme to take longer than 45 minutes.

Yay moment: My GPG key is finally signed by a Debian Developer: YAY!

4.4.08

After OOXML, XPS

When you thought that OOXML was enough trouble, XPS comes to be talked about. Many people just ask why Microsoft decided to create a "standard" (OOXML) to something that already had one (ODF). My answer is: "why should they use what everyone uses, when they can make anyone use what they're using?". Sucks, I know. But OOXML was just a start: now I start to understand why Marcos Santos (from Microsoft) kept saying "we should look into the future". Is the future "let's replace every standard with a Microsoft format"? Seems so, considering they're now trying to make XPS an ISO standard.

Here's a nice looking table where you can easily understand what am I talking about (shamelessly copied from this post):

Feature OOXML XPS
Origin Microsoft Microsoft
Editor Microsoft via Rex Jaeschke Microsoft via Rex Jaeschke
Standards Body Microsoft via MS-ECMA Microsoft via MS-ECMA
Patents Microsoft promise OSP Microsoft promise CP
Duplication ODF ISO26300 PDF ISO32000
ISO Liaisons ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC 34 ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC 34
ISO plans in progress will be submitted to ISO
Restricted technologies WMA, WMV, MP3, OLE, Binary space, Macros HD-Photo


So, it seems that after forcing their own replacement for ODF, they're now trying to do the same for PDF. What will come next? HTML? Place your bets...

Tecnonov 2008, tomorrow - Fnac - Coimbra - Portugal

Tomorrow I'll be at Tecnonov 2008 to talk about Virtual Worlds: pass, present and future.

Program (in Portuguese):
[ 10:30 ] - ABERTURA
[ 10:40 ] - Octávio Gonçalves - DMS Document Management System
[ 11:25 ] - João Carvalho - Palco Principal - há música na internet
[ 12:10 ] - Dr. Pedro Dias Venâncio - Copyright e Patentes no Espaço Europeu
[ 12:55 ] - ALMOÇO
[ 14:30 ] - Francisco Rente - O CERT-IPN e aposta na inovação
[ 15:15 ] - Paula Simões - Mundos Virtuais na Educação
[ 16:00 ] - Rui Seabra - O que é Software Livre?
[ 16:45 ] - Miguel Caetano - Para além da música 2.0: distribuir, partilhar, monetizar
[ 17:30 ] - Pedro Custódio
[ 18:15 ] - Rogério Reis - Debian, o Sistema Operativo Universal
[ 19:00 ] - Rui Miguel Simoes de Azevedo - Associação Ensino Livre
[ 19:45 ] - Marcos Marado - Mundos Virtuais: Passado, Presente e Futuro
[ 20:30 ] - ENCERRAMENTO

Tecnonov 2008 website

3.4.08

Opera Mini 4.1 beta

Opera Mini is already aiming for its next release - 4.1 - and its beta is already out. If you follow this blog you know that I'm an user and fan of Opera Mini, but I'm still using Opera Mini 3, since Opera Mini 4 doesn't have an option of having the "mobile view" sliced in pages, like Opera Mini 3 has, and v4 eats too much memory trying to load an huge page at once, failing to do so and stoping me of using it to browse in my Motorola E1 cellphone.

Now that Opera announced the beta version of Opera Mini 4.1, I just had to try it. It comes with great new features:
  • autocomplete of URLs
  • offline access
  • search for text within a web page
  • download and upload files

The default search engine switched from Yahoo! back to Google (which is great, for me at least). Also, it is way quicker (enhancements were made server-side), and consumes a lot less memory (so, 4.1 fixes my issue with 4, and is going to replace my Opera Mini 3 installation). Yet, Opera Mini 4.1, even in "mobile view" mode, is slower than Opera Mini 3.

Regarding to the "beta" state of this release, like what happened with Opera Mini 4, beta really means beta: just to test out all this things, but nothing more than that, I had to fire up the browser four times because it kept crashing. So, it's still not to use, but I'm surely upgrade as soon as the final version is released.

Interview to Hype! Magazine: "How much is a game worthy?"

Hype! level 7 cover
How much is a game worthy? In the end of 2007, Radiohead made a revolution in the music distribution business by sharing their last album "In Rainbows on the Internet for free. With the music price going down to zero, and movies cheaper and cheaper, what is the right price to pay for a video game? Specialists on authorship rights and intellectual property talk about a future where games might be... free.


This is how is presented "How much is a game worthy?" article on this month's issue of the Portuguese games magazine "Hype!" by its team, an article written by Jorge Vieira (Hype!'s Operations Director) and where Manuel Luis Rocha (Department Chief on Intellectual Property of the law firm PLMJ), Duarte Nuno Vicente (Director of the Portuguese division of Virgin Play) and myself are interviewed.

Some quotes from the article:

first you have to define your goals: if the goal is to monetise your works, authors shouldn't think that they have to "avoid the free distribution of their works" in order to achieve it. In the music world, for decades artists are sharing their works for free in order to get known enough to get a deal with a record label, or in order to find out where to give concerts.


When talking about the digital world, where the perceived value of a non-physical work is tends to nothing, going free works as a first step in managing to grab user's attention


[obligatory blanket licenses would be] better than what we have now, but far from perfect. What must be done is a reflection on the concept of copyright, why was it created, and if it still makes sense


It is typical to listen someone talking about "how kids nowadays ignore copyright", but isn't it time to think if - for younger people - copyright doesn't make sense anymore? And, if it doesn't for them, does it make sense in the world?"



The trick is obvious: go viral. Make your own game, make demos and put videos on YouTube, publicise it, put them on people's mouths. Give it. Create a community around it, make your users feel as being an important part of your game. Listen your community. Create the game's blog, reply to comments, read the critics, accept suggestions. Get involved with your community, and it will grow.


If you like this article, you might be interested in attending my presentation about "Virtual Worlds: Pass, Present and Future" I'm going to do this Saturday at Tecnonov 2008, an event about Technology and Innovation in Coimbra, Portugal.

1.4.08

OOXML approved as an ISO standard


Specially during the last year, I talked about OOXML several times in this blog. Despite already existing already an open standard for documents, Microsoft pushed its own format to be an ISO standard, and, using polemic tactics, they finally made it. The official press release isn't out there yet (it will be today), but both ECMA and Microsoft already made press releases announcing the approval.

What does this mean? Is it a defeat? As you know if you've read my previous comments on OOXML, I was against it being an ISO standard. Now that it is, it is important to stress the importance that there are two standards, ODF and OOXML, and of those only ODF is open. But I don't consider all the work made to rise issues on OOXML was in vain. The discussion arose lots of awareness about OOXML problems. OOXML was modified since its submission, and while it still has several critical problems, it is now better than it was one year ago. And the whole issue isn't over yet.

What is there to be done? Well, first of all, it's important to act wisely and understand that now that OOXML is an ISO standard, it should be supported in the biggest number of applications and platforms. For instance, OpenOffice still doesn't support OOXML (although it is already in their roadmap). Also, standards aren't immutable. The work into maintaining and enhancing document standards just doubled, but it's something that must be done. There's already work being done for ODF 1.2 (expected to be an ISO standard on Summer 2009), but surely there will be plans to release new versions of OOXML. This is quite important and shouldn't be ignored, also by (maybe specially by) people that, like me, don't like OOXML. That is the opportunity to fix OOXML problems, but there's an huge risk of having new versions pushed by Microsoft using the same tactics that were used now, making OOXML even worse for everyone but Microsoft. We all should have our eyes open to that possibility, specially because many people might expect that new versions should be automaticly approved just because the actual specification is already an ISO standard.

It that it? Will we have to deal with two standards, implement two standards, do twice the work? Well, maybe it's time to - without prejudice into the work on ODF and OOXML - create yet another format that deprecates both ODF and OOXML. This is something I really don't like, and don't think I'm recommending that, but I'm afraid that, in a not so distant future, that might be the only way of fixing all this double standards mess.

But, but... What credibility can have a standard that was approved like this? Well, not much - for those of us who know what happened, and what are the flaws in OOXML. But for non-tech people, like politicians, librarians, teachers, and everyone else, it will not be clear that this standard isn't a good choice. And here's where we must act. For instance, EU wants to have all their documents in a standard format. We (Europeans) are the ones who should show them why they shouldn't choose OOXML. Who else?

UPDATE: ISO official announcement here