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