Portugal: it's time to read the things straight first

So, a couple of days France made a major fuck-up, and now some Portuguese associations want to bring the same to Portugal. Fortunately someone decided to right the story straight, so if you're going to read the story and the press release, at least read this one first.

Thank you.



This article is about a Portuguese event, so it will follow in Portuguese


2007 foi o ano de criação do Tecnonov, uma conferência que apareceu em Portugal e que foi bem acolhida. No fim do dia, sentiu-se que tinha sido um bom evento, a necessidade de se repetir.

Meses depois, apareceu o TakeOff, inspirado no BarCamp e no Tecnonov. Depois, o BarCamp 2007. Decorreu o "I Fórum de Software Livre de Lisboa". Em vez da SHiFT, 2007 contou com o Sapo Codebits. O panorama nacional no que diz respeito às novas tecnologias está, definitivamente, a crescer.

Este ano queremos um Tecnonov novo, mais maduro, mas, principalmente, um Tecnonov que responda melhor àquilo que Portugal precisa, cativando não só aqueles que trabalham na área das novas tecnologias e inovação, mas também o tecido empresarial que poderá beneficiar desta exposição de ideias, ou mesmo simples curiosos pelo tema.

Assim, e porque todo este relacionamento entre pessoas vai muito além da simples presença física num local comum durante um dia por ano, decidimos criar uma rede social, para que todos beneficiar do Tecnonov antes, durante, e depois do evento.

Aqui ficam os links que te permitem fazer parte do Tecnonov:



The music market is falling: who's to blame?

It's known for regular readers that I don't believe that illegal file-sharing has an noteworthy impact in the rise or fall of music market profits: it's more an excuse than anything else. This article tries to find out what's causing this fall.

Even if I read some stuff about market dynamics over the years, I'm surely no expert on the matter. Also, this all issue is way to chaotic to find simple and obvious causes for this fall. So, I decided instead to point four points that surely have some major impact on music market. This doesn't mean that these are the most important issues - they probably aren't, but at least they are some real measurable causes.

The digital era

The music market never made an effort to understand the digital era. The most flagrant example of this is the well-worn Napster case. Yes, people were doing downloads of copyright material, and yes, the copyright owners weren't getting nothing from it. That's beyond the point. The point is that the music industry instead of trying to understand what was happening, decided to just sue them and shut it down. With that act, they also gave a statement: they don't care about the digital era, if it hurts them they'll fight to take it down. The problem here is that you can't take down the digital era, because that's no company, no infrastructure nor even a technology: the digital era is a mind set. People share files because they feel there's no wrong with it. Some people download digital music for free arguing that the real cost of a digital file is zero. It's this kind of social mind set that makes the digital era define the music market's future, and if the music industry keeps against it, or at least doesn't bother trying to comprehend it, then they're fighting against the future of the market they are, thus fighting themselves. Of course that some people got it, and used the digital era to make profit: Apple, for instance, created the iPod and iTunes, making huge profits in an empty market. But the profits are not only for retailers: I've seen musicians, labels and every other piece of chain in the music business benefit from the digital era, they just decided to understand it first. The best Portuguese music I got in 2007 came from a Portuguese label created this year, some other music labels I know are in frank expansion, some music stores too. We've seen new business models rising, from fans-funded recordings like what you can find on SellABand, or even bands making money by giving their music for free in sites like ReverbNation.

The purchasing power

There are also less music related issues that have an huge impact in the music business, and ignoring them is like forcing ourselves not to see the elephant in the room. One of them is the actual purchasing power for these kinds of goods in the so-called developed countries. I've done several parallels in the past: for instance in the 2006 Portuguese BarCamp I compared the music business with the coffee machines business. The fact is that businesses - each one of them - have to adapt to the overall market. If people start to consider some stuff as "luxury items", then maybe those items should be sold as such. If
people start thinking that some item is more valuable than other item - in a case where typically they'll choose upon one of the two - then the second one has naturally to be less expensive than the first one. Market laws apply to any market, but the music industry fails to understand that the music market follows the same rules than any other market.

The physical price

So, the digital era appeared and with it digital music, that feels like free. On the other hand, the purchasing power for the class of goods music is inserted in is being reduced in the last few years. The natural thing to have would be the price of CD's, more than any other physical format for music sales, to follow these two indicators and have their price falling. Plus, even if that wasn't case, people were already expecting the CD price to fall anyway: one of the things that were being said in the first times of the Compact Disc is that the high price they cost would soon fall with new technology arriving, and the consumers kept that in mind. The manufacturing cost sure fell, as we managed to see, for instance, in the price of blank CD-R's. Yet, the price of a music CD kept rising. Doing the math, what's expect to happen to music sales other then a fall?

How to measure quality?

One of the causes, at least in Europe and in the United States for the rise of the physical price is the way big retailers entered in the music market. Big stores had everything in one place, wanting to be your one-stop-choice. They managed (by quantity and scale) to practice such lower prices that they practically killed an huge amount of small music stores, or forced them to practice even bigger prices to deal with the dropping unit sales. When they were already controlling some markets like the music market, they were then free to practice the prices of their choice. Speaking of choice...

It would be stupid trying to measure music quality. But we measure related factors, like choice and diversity. Let me explain: if music quality is hard to define because each person have different musical tastes, then it's pretty obvious that if you have few choice and diversity, then few people would be interested in the music being released and available to the public, and fewer articles for their tastes. To aggravate this, if market diversity isn't accomplished than if you satisfy someone's tastes, that person only has the choice to buy way-too-similar music (which will lead him to buy less music) or not to buy it at all.

With the fall of investment on music from the music industry, and with the fact that the market reaches its physical public mainly via big retailers, came the standardisation of music. Only a few pre-determined music styles, known to be well consumed, have place in the market. The long tail of music was being completely ignored (and majorly found their place on a less controlled environment like the Internet, embracing the digital era).

I risk to assume that if we consider the overall quality of the music available on music stores dependent of their diversity, by attracting each listener segment, then the overall quality of music has decreased in the last few years, which can then be related with the decrease of music sales.


If you still want to say that file-sharing is guilty of the decrease of music sales and overall profit on the music market, go ahead, I won't stop you, even if I don't buy it. But considering all the other factors that might affect its market, including those that surely are, please avoid making the same mistakes as Liebowitz is going to state in his upcoming paper, where he not only states that piracy is guilty of the decreasing of music sales, but that "file-sharing* appears to have caused the entire decline in the record sales and appears to have vitiated what otherwise would have been growth in the industry".

* - funilly, he measures "file-sharing" by measuring Internet penetration



I know, I know... I've been quite lazy lately regarding this blog, and have been posting mere links instead of proper blog posts. Sorry, but that isn't going to change soon. On the other hand, I'll try to explore a bit more the story behind each of those links.

One of thinks that I tell a lot regarding iPod's and the iPhone is that, while I understand that some people don't see any problem at all with having a device that will only work in a certain setup and under certain circumstances, I don't see myself getting a music player or a cellphone that would force me to use a certain program, Operating System or stuff like that. I mean, if it was a technological issue... but it isn't! Any music player can be designed to work just like any other USB device, be USB mountable and work as an USB disk and at the same time play its files. That will make it work in any operating system, in any piece of software. Now, iPod's or iPhones... Fred Emmott wrote an HOWTO [1] on how to make your iPod Touch or iPhone (and, I guess, later iStuff) work with Amarok. While I think it is awsome that he had the work of writting it, the biggest value of this HOWTO is just to prove my point: why the hell should a buyer have to do all that mess to make the piece of hardware they bought work?

Last100 also talks about the iPhone, but regarding the mobile web [2]. It doesn't bring as nothing really new, but it's quite a good overview of what's the state of "mobile web", a term that I don't really like: we're not really talking about something called "mobile web", only about "the web" as viewed in mobile devices... My question regarding these matters is: the biggest problem with the adoption of mobile devices as web clients is the services or the devices? In other words: if you don't use your mobile devices as web terminals, is it because your service isn't as good as you wanted to (bandwith, price, ...) or is it because your device isn't really fit for the job? (keyboard and screen limitations, usability, ...)

While we're walking towards a more digital future, the record industry simply does not get it. One great example of that was given yesterday, when Doug Morris, Universal Music CEO, admited he knows nothing about the music industry of nowadays [3]. The article is called "Universal Music CEO Doug Morris Speaks, Recording Industry in Even Deeper Shit Than We Thought", and the title says it all.

In the same veign of digital weirdness, we still have the ODF x OOXML war. An e-book is being written about the whole issue, so you might be interested in reading it [4].

Finaly, the new trend in social networks: Facebook. If you're a regular reader of this blog you already know by now that I don't like it nor its privacy policies so I decided to suspend my account. Also, you'll notice that there's a lot of fuss lately regarding facebook's privacy issues. TechCrunch tells us that the privacy issues will continue [5], but in Mashable we have an article about what's happening to Facebook business-wise [6]. But the most important thing about this, in my oppinion, came from Cory Doctorow, that tells us not only why is FaceBook going to die but also all the other (generic?) social networks [7]. It's a social issue, really: as Pedro Custodio said in his presentation at the Web 2.0 Expo Berlin, we're kind of afraid of refusing "friend invites" from people we don't really consider friends... Of course that this is something easily fixed, but they must think about the issue first, and I don't see them doing such.

Oh, today is the release date for the new book Exodus to the Virtual World: How Online Fun Is Changing Reality" [8], which I'm probably going to buy as soon as a paperback edition comes out. The author says this about the book [9]:

I try to project the medium-term impact of virtual worlds on daily life in the real world, especially in regards to politics and policy. To make projections, I rely on the history of human migration: knowing in general what happens when people migrate, we can forecast what?s going to happen as people migrate to virtual worlds. To explain why many will migrate, I propose a psycho-physiological theory of fun. Then I argue that the people who design virtual worlds are actually doing public policy. As such, their innovations will bleed over into real-world policy-making. You get some odd outcomes when you suggest that real world governments will try to please citizens raised in virtual world policy environments: things like zero economic growth, huge estate taxes, and full-employment economies, all at once. Bottom line: big political change is coming.

[1] - http://www.fredemmott.co.uk/blog_121
[2] - http://smallr.net/mobile-web
[3] - http://smallr.net/DougMorris112007
[4] - http://smallr.net/war-of-the-words
[5] - http://smallr.net/facebook-privacy
[6] - http://smallr.net/facebook-business
[7] - http://smallr.net/facebook-death
[8] - http://smallr.net/exodus-virtual-world
[9] - http://smallr.net/about-exodus-vw


Copyright news links

ZML is the "AllOfMp3 of music". I wonder how long will it take to have MPAA threatning Russia (again)...

Suburban Home anounces “I Celebrate Their Entire Catalog” digital sampler, proving that there are music labels that "get it". They encourage you to download the entire sampler and share it with everyone.

...and a music distributor that also gets it. Basicly: stop whining and act!

Yeah, Facebook is evil, but who cares? Seems that Techcrunch readers care, but that's surely not a representative slice of Facebook users...

French polititians are doing drugs. No, really!

Europe the leader, not the follower in open source

Finaly, someone getting nailed for trying to use that software patents to get money. Why not working instead of bullying?

A nice and actual music idustry overview. Where are we heading to?

The Asian market is quite ahead of us, specially in the music industry. This article is nice to see that, but what I liked the most was to see that in Korea this year they'll reach 4x more sales of cellphones that are also music players than music players that aren't cellphones...


Links for today

Another round of links...

Lessons we can take from the WoW success

More facebook privacy issues

More facebook privacy issues, part II

Yet another open source tool to produce music. It looks cool, and I installed it, so I expect to give it a try this weekend or so...

Interview to Linden Labs about the future of Second Life. Hot points: they aim to open up everything; they'll introduce more registration requirements; they're working on the best way of implementing verification that is inclusive of all legitimate signups no matter where users live (forget anonymity :-( )

The second life potencial is real... Now let's see people using it, shall we?

Making Second Life more like real life

Five Movies

So, there's this meme out there, about "five movies you loved". Paula nominated me [1] to do this thing, so here it goes... Notice that this isn't the "best five movies ever" or "the five movies I recommend you to see" or "my favourite five movies". I didn't really think hard about this, so this is more "the five great movies I remembered of that I recommend you to see"...

Metropolis - Fritz Lang (1927)

A great movie to introduce you to the works of Fritz Lang, and that I'm not going to talk about here, since I already did it in the past [2].

If you already saw and liked it, than I recommend Fritz Lang's "M" as a way to keep knowing his work. I already talked about "M" here [3].

Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb - Stanley Kubrick (1964)

Dr. Stangelove

This Kubrick's movie is one of those comedies that really have a message within: in this case a satire about power, politics, and the paranoia that usually comes with it. I could write extensively about the movie, but instead I'll link to a pretty small review [4], since, despite being small, it quite sums up what is this movie about.

The Wicker Man - Robin Hardy (1973)

The Wicker Man (poster)Notice really well: this is the movie directed by Robin Hardy, not the stupid remake with Nicholas Cage. The Wicker Man is a cult movie (and awsome soundtrack, BTW), and was considered in Cinefantastique as "The Citizen Kane of Horror Movies", at Total Film as "the sixth greatest British film of all time" and won the 1978 Saturn Award for Best Horror Film.

So, if you're thinking about stopping now, 'cause you don't like horror movies or something, think twice. This is an horror movie even for those who don't like the genre. From Wikipedia [5], "the idea of an idealistic confrontation between a modern Christian and a remote, pagan community continued to intrigue Shaffer, who performed painstaking research on the topic. Brainstorming with director Robin Hardy, the film was conceived as presenting the pagan elements objectively and accurately, accompanied by authentic music and a believable, contemporary setting."

Take into consideration that there are several versions of this movie, and the most complete version of it is the one from Canal+ [6]. The soundtrack is a piece of work worth being analyzed for itself [7], since the movie is sometimes even considered a musical. To have an idea of its impact, just take into account that there's even an anual music festival called The Wickerman Festival [8], that happens where the movie was shooted.

Baraka - Ron Fricke (1992)

Baraka96 minutes that show you everything about the world and humanity. Baraka is an ancient Sufi word, which can be translated as "a blessing, or as the breath, or essence of life from which the evolutionary process unfolds." The movie has no words, actors or plot. It's a ride that will make you smile and cry, a touching experience if you let it be. This website tells you everything [9].

If you liked it, know that a sequel is going to be released named Samsara [10].

Lost Highway - David Lynch (1997)

Lost Highway

Lost Highway is probably my favourite David Lynch movie. If you dislike David Lynch forget it: it's heavilly Lynchian. According to the official website,
"A 21st Century Noir Horror Film.
A graphic investigation into parallel indentity crises.
A world where time is dangerously out of control.
A terrifying ride down the lost highway."

It's website is full of info [11], so visit it if you want to know more about it.

If you liked it, be sure to check Detour [12] (since the movie is in public domain, I'm linking to where you can download it), the biggest "Lost Highway" influence.

[1] - http://paulasimoes.org/blog/?p=18
[2] - http://mindboosternoori.blogspot.com/2006/11/metropolis.html
[3] - http://mindboosternoori.blogspot.com/2007/08/2007-so-far-movies.html
[4] - http://www.opendemocracy.org/arts/strangelove_4001.jsp
[5] - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Wicker_Man
[6] - http://steve-p.org/wm/
[7] - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Wicker_Man_soundtrack
[8] - http://www.thewickermanfestival.co.uk
[9] - http://www.spiritofbaraka.com/samsara.aspx
[11] - http://www.lynchnet.com/lh/
[12] - http://www.archive.org/details/detour_ipod

The future of the music business

Take notice that this post talks about the future of the music business, and not of the music industry. History shows us that when companies are quickly falling, and those who constitute the actual music industry are, are quite imprevisible: it's a matter of when do they wake up. On the other hand it's pretty hard do conceive that in the next few years we'll stop having a music business...

I've been reading a lot of studies and reports lately about the music business, including the music industry in general or some of its companies in particular. At the same time, I've been discussing some of this matters in several communities and with several individuals. With that, I've formed a simplistic idea of what do people "feel" about this matter, and what researchers have to say about it.

Starting with the end

The overall music business (amount of profit per year) is going to decrease year after year at least until 2012.

Digital sales and Emergent business models

Digital sales will increase year after year, at least until 2012. By that time, digital sales aren't still bigger than the other ways of profit.

Revenue coming from emergent business models, like ring tones, ad-profits, subscription services and such, is going to increase, but it's total will still be irrelevant.

Compact Disc's, DVD's, Vinyl and Compact Cassette

CD and DVD sales will keep falling vertiginously, and that is going to be the cause for the overall decrease of profit (as it is right now), at least until 2012. Probably the fall of CD sales will keep further than that.

The Vinyl market is re-emerging, and will keep doing so, but in three or four years it will start to slow down and stagnate. This is a format that will not dye in the next couple of decades, and it is expected to survive longer than the Compact Disc.

The Compact Cassette survives for so long for a various amount of reasons. It's presence in every car player for so many years was probably the biggest longevity kick it had, and when audio books started the Compact Cassette was the best format since would give you more talk-time for less money. While some niche groups exist, the format is slowly falling and it will eventually dye. It will probably be sooner than the Compact Disc, but not so soon as the majority of people think: it is declining but slowly, and the latest trends slowed down even more that tendency.

Gigs, merch, the rest

Last but not least, gigs and related stuff is commonly seen as the "salvation" for this trends. It might be, in a more distant future, but the predictions tell us that the profits that they generate will maintain themselves, at least in the next five years


Most people download music illegally, but at the same time most people think it is fundamentally wrong. Another wing says that a digital copy has no costs, so there's nothing immoral about doing such thing. But for the soon-to-be future, or at least until there isn't a collective position regarding it, what matters is that piracy is here and it's something that will not stop. So, more important than thinking about "right" or "wrong", let's take a look about the repercussions. Most people are convinced that piracy is the reason why the music business being less profitable day by day, probably induced by all the lies the general population has been consuming lately from the music industry. One other sign of that is that many people believe that "digital piracy" is theft, even if that's illogical if you see the definition of theft (I've wrote about this in the past).

What studies tells us is that the goal of measuring if the impact of piracy in the music business is positive or negative has never been reached. In its process, these sub-conclusions:

  • piracy is directly related to music consumption, and in many cases piracy boosts music sales

  • until now, no one managed to establish a relation between piracy and the decrease of sales

Good or bad? It really doesn't matter - even if its impact is proven to help the decrease of sales, it will never be in the order of magnitude of the decrease we're seeing in the last couple of years.


What does this mean? Is the music business doomed? No!!!! Who should I blame? What can I do?

The funny part now: this doesn't mean really anything. As in any market, the music business has been inflated by the music industry for a long number of years, so it is now naturally deflating. The fall is aggravated by the fact that the music industry itself never knew how to adapt themselves, basicly living in their comfortable model and ignoring any other tendency. What happens to businesses that don't innovate? But you don't stand being a watcher? You feel the urge to help fix this whole mess? There aren't much choices but two things that can be done: first, buy music, buy a lot of music. Secondly, help define the new music industry, the new business models. Support the "good labels". Boycott the "bad labels". Act as people do in any aggressive market. This is an aggressive market, so if you want to influence it, don't be passive, be active.


Links for today

Why CIO's don't care about Open Source?

DRM causes sales losses

Major Labels still making copyright claims that hurts artists

If you had to choose 100 blogs which ones should you choose to be best informed?

File sharing boosts CD sales, not the inverse

New Portuguese music venue... on Second Life


Links for today

MySpace starts thinking about ad-supported music, with a model that I don't really like, and I don't really believe in its success, even if they have the scale-factor...

SpiralFrog, another ad-supported music website, lost $3m in 3 months, but again, I never found their model interesting...

Google aiming for IPTV? Are they going the "Android for IPTV"? Most importantly, what's the underlying business model?

I'm getting more and more ashamed of being a Portuguese, when I see that this country is letting Microsoft use us as puppets... Microsoft will represent Portugal in the vote to approve their own format (OOXML).

It's not a secret that I like ReverbNation. If you want to know more about it, you might like to read this interview.

Kids and Virtual Worlds

"If you're a parent, I would be much less concerned about things like online predators or violence, then I would be about the conflation between consumption and consumerism and citizenship (in virtual worlds)."

--Doug Thomas, Annenberg School of Communication

Read the full article at http://tinyurl.com/28u2hu


Missing the Gig

Against all odds, there I was on the shopping mall next to my workplace, aiming to have some hot meal in this rainy day, sigh a little and just relax for the night. There was something odd in my surroundings, but it wasn't until I got next to the ATM machine and get a couple of notes that I noticed. The place was full of dressed-in-black people , and I got to recognise quite a few faces of people to whom I don't speak for to long. I didn't get recognised, and was somewhat glad of it: it was the wrong evening to get me started about why I wasn't in the same table as them. Before ordering the meal I started by asking for a beer while cursing not to have some liquor at home - already planning for my evening at home.

For regular readers of this blog isn't probably hard to conceive, but for casual readers, specially those who know me a bit more, it still comes as a surprise that I refuse to feed Universal's pockets, even when we're talking about Marilyn Manson. It came a real shock for lots of people the fact that I don't own Marilyn's latest album (that, in fact, I only listened to once, and in far from good conditions), and for others (SMS's will start falling soon, for sure) the fact that Marilyn Manson is doing a gig in Portugal and I'm not in the front row. This isn't surely what to expect from the Portuguese guy with the biggest Marilyn Manson music collection.

The reasons are simple - really - and all come to one: while I like Marilyn Manson and even admire him for a lot of things (like the way he absorbs so much the huge amount of thoughts he gets from the books and movies he gets contact with), I refuse to give money to those I despise, and he really should know better about his deal with the assholes at Interscope - at least have a thought or two about the acts of his friend (or is it foe? they're always switching...) Trent Reznor from Nine Inch Nails... After all the deal came from "his" Nothing Records.

So I got home, and I had the rest of the night planned. Fired up Amarok and started playing some yet to be released Merankorii tracks, quickly put some clothes into the washing machine and walked to the soon-to-be studio, stared and stopped. A room full of bags, boxes and "stuff". Started digging. Some home-made liquor... cool, it will be handy later. What's this bag? Oh, DVD's... A couple of Marilyn Manson DVD's here, but I can't even think of it, just put them in their new place, and keep digging. And finally, among tons of yet unpacked CD's, some pieces of my Marilyn Manson collection. They start getting form once again, now in the new shelves, until I find the album I was looking for: the European edition of Marilyn Manson's EP "Smells Like Children" (the CD that still plays, bought second-hand and really cheap), probably one of the most misunderstood works of his.

Already playing, I slowly walk towards the liquor, but slowly to let the music enter my body. There's something about my relation with music that I still have to work on to be ready to try to define it. Next comes "Mechanical Animals", but I'm not in the mood of setting up the record player to play the vinyl version, so I stick with the scratched CD until it shows the first signs of defect. Follows Holy Wood (In the Shadows of the Valley of Death). Maybe after I'll be ready for the live recordings of his latest gig in Portugal. No "collector items" today. Maybe they shouldn't even belong to me anymore. Yet, he's smart. I still hope he'll give'em the finger, and get me to put money in his pockets again.

It's raining out there. It will be a quite nice evening after all. Above all, I'm glad to be here, not there.

The wonders of Open Source

Saturday I met some friends, and one of them was saying that she bought a new laptop but she couldn't run Second Life in it because it had an Intel graphics card. First I went into "WTF mode": after all I have an Intel graphics card and I run Second Life in my laptop without any problem. But then I remembered: I'm using Second Life's open source client in GNU/Linux, while she was running the Linden Labs' binary for Windows... Which made me write this just to make three quick remarks:
  • Open Source is great. Linden Labs open sourced its "Second Life viewer" and in a snap of fingers the Open Source community made it work with Intel graphic cards.
  • Linden Labs isn't using the fact that they Open Sourced its client as they could/should. Since that the limitation isn't there in the Open Source client, why is it still there in the "official" one?
  • If you have an Intel card you can use Second Life. Either run it on GNU/Linux, or - if you really want to use it on Windows (blergh!), you can try to compile the Open Source client yourself...


AxsJAX vs. Hijax

Google decided to Open Source yet another tool: a Javascript framework called AxsJAX, which aims to "add accessibility to AJAX-powered web apps". AxsJAX is already used in a couple of Google Apps, and is a set of Javascript tools that add accessibility tags to your AJAX webapp. This means that AxsJAX, spelled "AcessibleJAX" (to rhyme with AJAX), is only used if you have a recent web browser that has Javascript enabled and implements the drafts of W3C-ARIA, which, in other words, isn't an acessible framework at all. If you take into consideration the W3C Accessibility guidelines, you'll quickly see that depending on some yet-to-be standards (ARIA) or even in Javascript isn't being Accessible. Yes, you can add AxsJAX to your AJAX-powered webapp, but you must take into account that it will not make your webapp accessible... As a matter of fact I think it would be nice to have webapps using it, but on already accessible webapps.

Now, there's this silly idea that it's too hard to make an AJAX-powered webapp accessible. Developers talk about painful code to allow graceful degradation, and some are even crazy enough to actually prefer mantaining two webapps: one AJAX-powered and other AJAX-less. What's really wrong about this scenario is that it's pretty easy to design accessible websites, even AJAX-powered. Welcome to the world of Hijax.

Hijax (which is nothing more than a way to use AJAX) is just the way to design AJAX-powered websites. The steps are pretty simple:
  • Design your webapp well

  • Add all the AJAX you want by hijacking the requests

Now the thing is, what is "design your webapp well"? Welcome to the wonderful world of standards. You know, all those things that people hope to comply with without really trying? If you first understand standards, their design and purpose, you'll see that's really the easiest way to do things. On the web, the trick is simple: you have
  • the data layer (HTML)

  • the presentation layer (CSS)

  • the interaction layer (Javascript)

Now, what standards teach you is that in HTML you should put all your data, and nothing more than that; in your CSS files the presentation layer and nothing more than that; in your Javascript all of your interaction layer and nothing more than that. Remember allways to avoid some mistakes: an anchor belongs to the data layer and not to the interaction layer, so doing stuff like <a href="javascript:"> is just shooting yourself on the foot. Now, if you have this scenario, you have your website (still without AJAX) and you can do all the funny stuff you like to do with Javascript. The good thing about this scenario is that if you disable the Javascript (or if you use a Javascript-less browser) all the blings, bells and whistles disappear, but all the data is there, and presented the way you design it to. Now, if you go one more layer and disable your CSS (or if you're using a web browser without CSS functionalities) you have all your data there (again), just as it should be, only without that stylish presentation you wanted to (which is pretty but useless to someone blind, anyway).

So, the thumb rule is simple: build your app as progressive enhancement, 'cause progressive enhancement automaticly guarantees graceful degradation.

Now, let's add AJAX (or the XHR component of it) into the equation. Most developers agree with all I've said until now: the need of a clear separation between HTML, CSS and Javascript, specially if you're talking about CSS's or DOM scripting. But when we talk about AJAX... they suddenly cast it aside. The problem is, basicly, that you're with the wrong mindset. Instead of thinking that AJAX is just a way to update parts of a page without refreshing, or, in the other hand, you think that AJAX is the spetacular awsome cool new thing that lets you update parts of a page without refreshing, you should look at AJAX as this new way of talking with the server asyncronously and deal with the page accordingly. Leave that "it's not a page, it's an app" thing, the app is what you built, but what you're serving is a page... even if it dynamicly changes itself over time (thanks to AJAX or not).

But I still didn't explain the Hijax part: how to add AJAX to the equation. Well, it's pretty simple indeed: just pick your non-AJAX pages, with links and forms that do requests, and just use JavaScript to intercept those requests and transform them into XHR.

This isn't meant to be an in-depht post about Hijax, more like "why you shouldn't be that excited with AxsJAX" than everything else. Anyway, if you liked the concept, just read Jeremy Keith's "DOM Scripting Blog" [1].

[1] - http://domscripting.com/blog/


The future of mobile

Using my cell phone as an Internet terminal, using my laptop as a music player, I read Raph Koster's blog where he talks about a panel discussing the future of mobile, with his own comments and thoughts about it. Something's wrong here, but it's not the fact that I'm reading his blog using the cell phone. What's wrong here is that I have to listen to music using the computer, since my cell phone doesn't let you multi task browsing with listening to music (something I shall fix when I replace my mobile phone), and the fact that Raph Koster says (and others agree) that mobiles, as any other device, should focus on doing what's their main purpose, and not everything else.

I totally agree that the best tool to take a picture is a camera. Like the best tool to see television is a TV screen, and the best way to see a movie is in a theatre and the best way to listen to recorded music is using some HiFi system. But most of the people, most of the times, don't really want to do one thing in the best way, they want to do several things without much pain. Yeah, it would be great to listen to this CD at home*, with enough candle lights to read the inners and a glass of red wine. But it would suck if I couldn't listen to it now just because I'm on a train. Yes, I would have a better experience reading Raph's blog in the laptop than in the mobile screen, but, on the other hand, I would only be able to do it if I was using my cell phone as a modem, which would consume my laptop's battery faster and leave me to no music earlier. Of course I could pay five more Euros and travel first class just to have a power plug... Oh, did I said mobile phone as modem? Right, I could have one of those PCMCIA or USB mobile Internet cards, but why have them if my cell phone just does the same thing? Oh, and pictures? Most mobile phones in Portugal already have the ability to take them, and, curiously, most people** that heavily use that feature are those who have good cameras and pleasure in making photography. But you don't walk with your camera everywhere, and there's that "casual picture" you like to take for which your cell phone does a quite decent job...

About MMO's in mobile phones: I've done it via telnet or web browser, and I was a player of "the first mobile MMORPG" (or at least that's what they said they were): TibiaME. My experiences? Via web browser it sucks, but that's basicly because I wasn't doing it to go to web MMO's (I don't like any of those I know), and I still have to see a web interface for an MMO that I like (the best would be one of those Second Life interfaces out there, but unfortunately I don't see any of them to be at least as good interface-wise as SLTalker, and yes, SLTalker still sucks...). The telnet experience is pretty good: it isn't better just because I still have to find a telnet-ssl client for mobile phones (or write one). TibiaME... Wasn't a good experience, but that's because the game design isn't that appealing (I was somewhat turned off when I noticed that TibiaME's worlds weren't connected to Tibia's ones) and, specially, because the application (still a beta) was pretty buggy, crashing all the time. So, do I think that mobile phones have what it takes to be a great medium for MMO's? I don't have any doubt. The fun in Virtual Worlds comes with the fact that you have one (or more) avatars, that have their own virtual life in their own virtual world. But if they can't live when you aren't home... Now, with your mobile virtual world, your avatar can be alive and awake as much time as you can yourself... If you think that there's no market at there, look at Katherine, the teen girl that wrote the first web interface for Second Life just to be able to be on while using her school's computers... Give their generation a SL mobile client and you'll see it being an instant success.

As the panel itself, I just have to say: please treat your gardens but burn its walls. There's no "company space" in the future of web, if you take into account that what matters nowadays on the web is data.

*) I'm listening to the only album from the Portuguese musical project "Ambience", that is threatening to be considered by me as the best Portuguese musical act... I should talk more about it in a later post.

**) This is assumed by me, from experience and observation. It isn't based in any study and can be flawed... But I don't think so.


Donate to Creative Commons

I just can't resist in donating to some stuff (yeah, I'm a sucker for such things), specially when there's some goodies involved (Kathy Sierra is definitively right on that matter [1]).

So, Creative Commons is running a donation campaign [2], and I've just decided to order a t-shirt to help'em. After all, what is 20€ compared to all that these guys are managing to do? So, more than telling you I've donated, this post is more about... don't you want to donate to CC [3]?

[1] - http://tinyurl.com/2sjj4y
[2] - http://tinyurl.com/2bgc88
[3] - http://support.creativecommons.org/donate


Being a musician in Portugal

broken recordSwapping e-mails with Cory Doctorow about copyright. Reading new stuff about music 2.0, specially about blanket licenses. Discussing about new music business models and piracy in mailing lists. Doing some consultancy to social music networks. All of this leads me to discussions about how to do things better, and sometimes it makes me forget about the problems Portuguese people have nowadays even for the "music 1.0" era. So, this post is about the biggest problem I find about being a musician in Portugal. Note that this is not only of interest for Portuguese people, since many other countries are in a simmilar (or even worse) state.

The Portuguese law [1] is quite clear about the rights of copyright owners (translation is mine and sucks, sorry):
Are considered works the intelectual creations from the literary, cientific or artistic domain, exteriorized in any way, that, as such, are protected in the terms of this Code, including in that protection the rights of their authors.

Great, so now we know that any music created is covered by this law, as well as its author. Moving along...
For the purposes of this Code, the work is independent of its divulgation, publication, usage or exploitation.

So, if you make a song, you're covered, even if you didn't publish it or done anything with it.
The protection of the work is extensible to its title, independently from the registry, regarding that it cannot be confused with a title of any other work from the same type of another author, previously exteriorized or published.

So, not only the work but also its title is protected just by being created and named, even if it is not registred.
The published work is the work reproducted with its author's consent, whichever is the way the units are made, providing that they are disposed to the public.

So, when you do a track and, for instance, put it on the web to download or stream, you're publishing it.
The author rights are recognized independently of its registry, deposit or any other formality.

Yup, you're the author so you should do anything you want with it, without any obligation.

So... The law is preety cool in this aspects right? So here's the problem: the music industry acts like the Mafia, and in Portugal it's obvious. You know what mafia does: it "convinces" you that you need their (payed) protection, when, in fact, you're being protected... from them. So, the Portuguese entities that supposedly "protect authors' rights" - where you register your work - act in the same way. Want to have an example?

If you are the author of your own work and you want to pay to a Portuguese company to print some Audio CD's (not CD-R's), every of those companies ask you the same thing: you need to register your work to be our client.

So... isn't this acting criminously? What "protection" are these companies giving authors? Isn't this a block for creativity? So, if you think that Portugal is ready for a blanket license, or that the discussion is about piracy or stuff like that... Think twice. We have a structural problem here, and lot's of things worth fighting for.

[1] - http://tinyurl.com/yvf9na

image from http://www.flickr.com/photos/williamkunz/196894022/, covered by a Creative Commons license

My trip to Berlin in 10 little items

berlin semaphores

  1. Berlin first impressions: it's great to be a walker there;
  2. 15 Portuguese people on Web 2.0 Expo Berlin, that I know of;
  3. Berlin's public transports are great, but it's somewhat hard to get used to them;
  4. The idea that Portuguese hospitals are a lot worse than other European countries isn't quite true: they are worse but not that much;
  5. You have to love Berlin's traffic lights;
  6. German people have something against double beds, maybe it's something that comes from Jewish traditions?
  7. I hoped that music there was cheaper, but that's not quite true: average price at 17.50 €. On the other hand, every store is better than any music Portuguese music store I know of regarding stock quality. Plus, they have quite a lot more percentage of stuff in vinyl;
  8. Movies and Books, specially books, are obscenely cheap there, comparing to Portugal. And their bookshops' are awsome. And it seems that adiobooks is the next big thing there...
  9. If you're to go there, remember: go to the DDR museum and the cinema museum. If to choose one of those, choose the first.
  10. It was great being there, and mind-thrilling too. There's a lot of new stuff gereminating in my mind... You might see the results sometime.


Cory Doctorow on Web 2.0 Expo Berlin

* 11:34 - He's making a great speach about why copyright acts nowadays are ridiculous. Nothing new here until now, but it's being great...

* IPRED2 - the worst copyright law in the world (we pay for fighting copyright; p2p gets illegal)
* CPCM - aaaaaarghhh...
* The database directive - absurd
* Extending copyright harms economy

What can you do?
* http://www.eff.org/
* http://www.edri.org/


What Happens To Print as the Web Rises

Features people want about in news websites (this works for newspapers and tv's):

  • Blogs

  • community blog (blogs for users)

  • article Comments

  • blog comments

  • Blogroll

  • Video

  • Podcasting

  • Social Bookmarkting

  • mobile

  • most popular

  • registration(they don't like registration, I mean)

  • ratings

  • social networking

  • User Generated Content

  • RSS

  • RSS per Category

  • Message Boards

  • Full RSS stories

Wow, now a new model: user generated content (news), they liked the article so they bought the article to the user (yes, they PAIED for it), they edited and published... Too bad it is a german site O:-)

Thoughs on Opera Mini 4

For frequent readers of this blog there's no surprise on the fact that I am a fan of mobile computing: I use a cheap mobile phone (Motorola E1 Rokr) as a modem, SSH client and as a web browser. To do so I use a simple setup: the mobile' stock functionality to work as a modem, MidpSSH as a SSH and telnet client (BTW, if you know of any alternative to this one that lets you choose the port instead of assuming the default ports for this services, I appreciate), and Opera Mini as a mobile web browser.

I use Opera Mini as a web browser for the cellphone since more or less one month after I got it, and I was kindly surprised by it: it obviously surpasses the poor browser that comes stocked with the cellphone. At last years' XTech I talked with an Opera guy working on Mini and talked about some flaws I thought it had, but I was happy with the browser, and, as I told him, I believed Opera Mini would be the mobile browser of choice (Opera Mobile isn't for me, like any other non-free_as_in_beer browser) at least until the Mozilla Foundation didn't start a serious effort in the field. At the time I was using Opera Mini 2, which was quickly replaced by Opera Mini 3: a not-so-major improovement in terms of usability, and with a change that I didn't like: the default search engine (that can't be changed) is Yahoo! Search (which - sorry - I can't get used too, as I also talked about earlier on this blog, regarding to search I'm addicted to Google). But, overall, it was a nice update, and I started using the mobile browser more and more... And relying on it for a great number of things.

Opera Mini 4 promises a cool few number of things. I've tried the first beta but it was too unstable, I've tried the second beta but, while better, was still worse (in terms of stability/usability) than Opera Mini 3. One cool thing Opera guys decided to do was to make Opera Mini 4 another application and not just another version (which lets Opera Mini 3 cohexist with Opera Mini 4 in the same mobile phone), and each time another beta version comes out you'll be prompted to upgrade (I hope they'll do this until the final version is out). I wasn't using Opera Mini 4 much, but...

This past week I started to really need to use a ill designed web application that didn't work on Opera Mini 3. Opera Mini 4 beta 2 was having some issues, but since it prompted me to upgrade to beta 3 I did it, and not only it solved my problem (now I can actually use that application, even if some stuff doesn't work) but it solved most of the problems I had with previous versions.

Opera Mini 4 comes with a really nice set of features, like "web view" vs. "mobile view", landscape view (gives you an horizontal screen instead of a vertical one) and fullscreen, giving you more active area and content displayed. I decided that that's what I really wanted/needed, so I decided to ditch Opera Mini 3 and starting to use Opera Mini 4. Well, now I have a bigger problem: Opera Mini 4 is completely useless for some of the websites I visit the most with Opera Mini 3, I only know it when it is too late, and I'll need to restart the browser if I stumble across one of those websites. What makes it worse is that it happens because Opera Mini 4 misses one Opera Mini 3 critical feature: the division of pages in "mobile view".

Let me explain: when in mobile view we're viewing stuff as Opera Mini 3 did. Opera Mini 3 seems the amount of data to display, and if it is more than a certain value, it breaks that content into several pages. That makes you able to load a webpage with hundreds of Kb's of data, because it will load just the first set, and then when you go to the next page or the previous page it loads that set. That actually means that not only navigation (while in a set) is quickier, but, more importantly, it means that you can load a 1Mb page because it will split it in chunks with certainly less than 100K each and display each one at a time. If you try to load that page in Opera Mini 4 what will happen is that you'll browser will try to load all that 1Mb of data... and make your cellphone run out of memory.

So, dear Opera Mini coders, can you please give me that wonderful feature back? Please? If you don't do it I'll have to keep being a user of both Opera Mini 3 and 4... And pray that you don't decide to take Opera Mini 3 out of air for when I switch to another cellphone.

Mobile in Web 2.0 Expo Berlin

Mobile to Web and Back: Designing for People

Great presentation, this guy really knows how to say what I think about mobile :-) Mobile's the future, not because it is a trend but because that's what makes sense... I really need to take this guy (Kwame Ferreira) to Portugal and speak about this, maybe you'll have more news about it soon :-)

The Impact of Mobile Web 2.0 on the Telecoms Industry

This could be an interesting presentation, but after the previous one I cannot think any other word to describe it but "boring". Also, this guy doesn't really grasp where's the value for mobile operators. He thinks that when a user takes a picture with a mobile phone and automaticly sends it to flickr, operators have nothing to win with it. He calls this a problem and thinks that people shouldn't have the content to migrate from the Operator to the interweb... something like "as a user I love it, as an operator I hate it"... I really think that Operators should love it too! His problem is simply that he divides "Mobile Internet" from "Internet", and both are the same. Wake up!

Blogs, Social Networks and Podcasts: Corporate Communications 2.0

These are the notes I took at Web 2.0 Expo Berlin 2007

Telekom Austria and myheimat.de think that corporate bloging must be global and external:
* global as in everyone must write, not just CEO's or something
* external as in you must interact with your readers, you shouldn't write only for your company or something, but globally (just like a personal blog) -- you might of course scale, like start with one area and then expand and expand
* you should have guts and talk about anything, even bad about your clients :-P
* of course with this, corporate culture is going to change, but isn't it great? In the end, you must turn into a better company
* maybe the blogosphere isn't the best place to talk about certain stuff
* people should understand blogging before engaging into this
* you must know how to handle with huge traffic (and comments, trolls, spam and so on) - this can be solved with a social network instead of just "blogs", and even with blogs you could try to do something like /.
* if there are other forums or fan-stuff about you, use that, more prioriatily than creating your own blog platform...


The Beauty in Standards

( HTML + CSS + DOM and JavaScript ) = beauty web

Never mixup any of those layers... Never do stuff like
<a href="javascript:...">
<a href="#" onclick="...">

Now, with Ajax... You should use "Hijax", his recently created buzword. It's basicly adding one more layer to the "old" HTML+CSS+DOM&JS model, making it Hijax = HTML -> CSS -> DOM + JS -> Ajax. Basicly, you hijack the requests and use AJAX...

OK, now he said for the first time something I don't agree (twice in a row): first he said that something that fallpits in the definition of "web chat" (he was talking about Meebo or any web IM) can't degrade gracefully (meaning that you couldn't do a chat app without AJAX). Not only I disagree, I can even give an example: HCL uses Aardvark, which means that if you are AJAX-enabled you do it AJAX-style, but if you're not AJAX-enabled you'll still be able to use it. Second, he said that in those cases people should use something like Flash... But if you do it you're excluding people then you're doing something broken (as he said himself).


OK, I said it on the microphone. He basicly agrees with me, but gives me another example: video-editing. The thing is... if you're doing that kind of app, why do it an webapp? It's useless as an webapp! Is it the "you don't need to install or update" thingie? 'cause if it is, you can actually do it without using a web browser.

Tuesday afternoon on Web 2.0 Berlin 2007

A Conversation with Neil Holloway, Microsoft Europe

Microsoft doesn't get advertising potential in IPTV, and are talking about closeminded methods of using IPTV to enhance advertising... I really see a big market here.

Microsoft doesn't get mobile computing and mobile web.

Microsoft doesn't talk about the Facebook deal.

Microsoft will buy 20 to 30 companies until the end of the year, most of them web 2.0. The statement came in the form of "we don't want to be the 2nd or the 3rd, so we'll buy and buy"...

First thing "good" (for them) I've heard is already after the schedule and as a response to a question. Microsoft wants to generalize their XBOX platform to be a "media platform" (XBOX, Media Centers, IPTV...)

High Order Bit: Introducing Ginger

Ginger is basicly the upcoming version of Netvibes... They're now betting in aggregation of social networks data and widgetise the web using standards (maybe creating some for social widgets?)

Creating Passionate Users

Awsome presentation... Tells you about why does your "help" of "FAQ" or "User Manual" doesn't usually help, people aren't in a "I want to learn this" mood, but in an WTF mood, thinking they're stupid because they can't do what they want with that stupid application... And how to understand the people in that mood and how not to make them have that feeling.

Tuesday on Web 2.0 Berlin 2007

I didn't take notes in everything, but here are the notes I took Tuesday morning...

From Forums to Communities

7 keys to building a successful web 2.0 site
* Close contact to the community and optimum support for your users
* Be innovative: Create features that encourage users to return often (release often)
* Markets are conversations: offer space and reasons for discussions (create the means and the motivation)
* Go viral! Unconventional actions create new links to your service
* Be present
* Do it because you believe in it

People follow bsssss, but they follow (more and more easily) great ideas

Be open, keep it simple, do not spam (obvious, but people usually forget this)

creating "web events" are more simple and effective than creating "web communities"

Metaverse Marketing: Games and Virtual Worlds in Product Promotion

http://www.pelicancrossing.com/inDualityInfo.htm <- IBM VW's "universal client"

* Investing in VWs is doing what your users will want soon
* What can be done?

  • create an avatar (act of self-expression, comparing to personalization of myspace profiles, for instance)

  • they (avatars) communicate with others (compared to twitter and other communication web20 tools)

  • avatars create content (like in web 2.0, once again, people have tools and use them to easily create content)

  • they do things together and share a social experience (there's no comparison in web 2.0, so this is what makes the difference) - this remembers me an earlier talk about how web isn't using "space" but "time", so VWs have an extra "feature"

* How to do it?

  • Don't just "link"

  • find the approaches you can realize within a VW that you can't do any other way, and experiment with them

  • Communicate with your comunity... face to face

  • give residents something to do (crowdsourcing, involve them directly, they're _there_

  • provide them possibilities to have shared experiences with your brand

* advertising

  • it works in VWs but not if you just link to a website

  • you have to keep avatars inworld

  • advertise your inworld activities

* measuring stuff (you can measure a lot of stuff, you can even know what they want...)
* strategy for VWs is similar to strategy for Web 2.0

There's a lot of privacy issues in Virtual Worlds, lots of stuff that scares me. What scares me the most, perheps, is that most people don't see nothing wrong in all this issues. As one person said here, most people don't/won't see VWs as "being online", they see it as "being somewhere", so they assume to have the same set of privacy settings... If one person buys a house and goes there with someone, he assumes his conversation isn't being logged. This works IRL, so it's what's expected in a VW...


What is Web 2.0: The Rules for Creating Successful Online Products in the 21st Century

"Hey, Google is announcing today the GPhone" - great way to wake up the audience :-) The thing is, he didn't need it, he's a great speaker... ( the slides will be on slideshare after web2.0expo).

Nice talk about mashups and remixing... It also shows quite well that you can compare web stuff to music stuff, and the concept behind web 2.0 is exactly what's now starting to happen to music... So yes, music 2.0 is quite a nice definition.

Key web 2.0 design patterns
  • The Long Tail

  • Users Add Value

  • Network Effects by Default

  • Some Rights Reserved

  • The Perpetual Beta
    • (not that I like his "definition" of beta...)

  • Cooperate, Don't Control

  • Architecture of Participation

Creating services is the big thing, not applications... (Compare creating a "Blogger" to having a blog...)

He told about how to deploy a wiki in a company, something that gave me a smile, but his example can be applied to a lot other stuff... As a matter of fact I think that any web application should be deployed more or less that way, and if it doesn't have success than the application sucks, not the deployment method...

He said that it is illegal to download an youtube video... I had this discussion once, I really have to double check this again, but I think it is not illegal. Anyway, content needs to be open. Companies shouldn't be worried about "how do I take my valuable data out of Google?", they should be earning money out of it by opening up and make money by giving that data...

Ahem... Defining bandwith as what empowered the web 2.0 boom is commiting a mistake... That's like vertical scaling: and a major fuck-up if you consider the bandwidth you have in the mobile web...

He just described (without knowing) why half the people that has an oppinion about Google's personal search results think it is bad: they're taking into account what they think they know about one user, instead of using the network effect and the wisdom of crowds...

If you create something that already exists, as it is, but if it is more easy to use, people will switch to your app...

Everyone has a mobile so it's potentially on the web... mobile web is one of the next big things...

He tells something I completely disagree: "the best online products and services [...] iTunes, Sony CONNECT, Zune Marketplace"... Yes, he knows that COnnECT is dead, but even if he considers Zune Marketplace as a "copycat" of iTunes, iTMS website is completely not a "best online product", it even isn't good!

"Nobody needs to ask permission to anyone to create an aggregator" (talking about the model of the blogosphere)... Once again, I have questions about the correctness of this sentence (even if I think it should be that way), I've discussed this a couple of times and I would really like the sources for that sentence...

Challenges of RIAs:
  • Loss of page views (ajax'd stuff makes you be everytime in the same page...)

  • RIA content is non-cawlable (sometimes, breaks SEO)

  • stop breaking the browser (using standards would fix that...)

This notes do not describe at all this presentation, so you should go and download it. This ended being only personal notes for future reference...

Questions/Slides: dion(at)hinchcliffeandco[dot]com

My take on "User Acceptance of Virtual Worlds"

This isn't from Web 2.0 Expo Berlin, I wrote this offline...

In last June M. Fetscherin and C. Lattemann did an article called "User Acceptance of Virtual Worlds - An Explorative Study about Second Life". This is my thoughts about that article.

The first graphic represented in the report tells us, among other things, that the Web 3D started in 2005. While that's highly arguable, the graphic looked so unbelievable that I decided to fire up The GIMP and extend some lines. Conclusions taken: according to it in 2006 "web 1.0 sites" had as many users as "web 2.0 sites", and in the beginning of 2008 the "Web 3D" had 50% as much users as Web 1.0. I call this kind of beautiful graphics "bullshit".

They also state that in Virtual Worlds "there are no levels, no scores and there is no ``game over''". Not only Virtual Worlds can be games, but in fact in some Virtual Worlds have levels, scores and even "game over". While you get no "game over" in WoW, for instance, you have levels and scores. The authors here want to talk about "social virtual worlds" (a term which definition is being highly debated lately), not Virtual Worlds in general... Also, it seems that the authors don't understand in full extent the concept of Avatar: they state that "the behaviours of the users is very similar to real world behaviour", which is quite untrue: users have avatars, and most avatars behave differently than IRL: there are even study fields for those that try to emulate in a Virtual World their real life (sometimes seen in Virtual Worlds like Second Life) since they are few...

Also, sentences like "We also asked respondents if they use other social networks than Second Life" or "Second Life is a social network and hence it enables also to search and meet people and places" or even "the emergence of social networks such as Skype" tell me that the authors don't really know much about what they're talking about: for starts a Virtual World is not a social network, and I wander if they know what that is... But still, they got some numbers I found pretty interesting: like the fact that 39% of the interviewed Second Life residents used LinkedIn. If having almost the same number of FaceBook'ers (39%) and MySpace'rs (40%) tells us that people interested in Second Life are also interested in new trends (FaceBook popularity is recent), their use of LinkedIn might give you a glimpse of the profile of who's going there... I would risk to say that stuff like in-world advertising (if not in context) might fail to a lot of SL residents.

About user acceptance? Well, it's hard not to see that Virtual Worlds are here to stay. With the growth of Internet Virtual Worlds are growing too. As some other studies say, there are really not many mainstream social virtual worlds, and they success, while good for their aim, is far for enough to start talking about a Web 3D. But we saw in the last couple of years a boom in Virtual Worlds for kids, and those kids in a couple of years are eligible to be users of Virtual Worlds for grown-ups. The future of Virtual Worlds is smiling, and users are slowly accepting them. The urge here is to make them better quick enough so that when the general population is ready to massively adopt virtual worlds, virtual worlds are ready to, at least, not disappoint them.

Scalable Web Architectures: Common Patterns and Approaches

Ah, I'm having a great time in Berlin! But instead of a personal blog post, this is a "live blogging"-like post. These are my notes on the "Scalable Web Architectures: Common Patterns and Approaches" workshop Cal Henderson (Flickr) gave. As you'll see in this and future posts, this isn't me talking about the workshop but just the notes I took from it...

-- Stuff you have to care about...
  • * What is scalability
  • * Traffic growth
  • * Dataset growth
  • * Mantainability
  • * High Availability
  • * Performance

-- Scalability
  • * Vertical (get bigger)
  • * Sometimes is alright... quicker... and sometimes less expensive, if the software isn't written for H-scalability or when rearchitecting it goes more expensive than to buy just "more RAM" or somthing
  • * Horizontal (get more)

-- Architecture
  • * finding the right balance for good/fast/cheap

-- App servers
  • * state and sessions? please no sessions or at least not local sessions, if you want a scalable app... -> store in a central database, instead of using sticky sessions
  • * no sessions can be implemented:
  • - stash everything in a cookie
  • - sign the cookie
  • - using a $timestamp you can easily see when the cookie expires
  • * "super slim sessions"
  • - no account info in the session (use the previous cookie) but you can fetch database stuff and stuff it in a
  • "super slim session"
  • * the ramsus way - architect your app so that app servers don't know about the other servers,
  • so they can scale horizontaly without problems

# presentation
# markup
| page logic
| business logic
$ database

  • * Availability - everything doubled, if you can re-double it in another datacenter

-- Amazon
  • * S3 - storage
  • * EC2 - compute
  • * SQS - queueing
  • * all scale horizontally, it is cheap when you're small, it's not really cheap with scale

-- Load balancing

-- Parallelizable == easy

-- Databases
  • * usually the hardest part to scale (unless we're doing a lot of file serving)
  • * when starting, vertical scale should be used
  • * usually you need (specially on web) more read power than write power
  • - database replication (writes go to master, reads go to master or slaves)
  • - this sucks when you need to scale writes, 'cause you'll have to add a lot of new slaves to be sleeping...
  • * caching avoids needing to scale
  • * About MySQL clusters: MBD allows a mesh, RSN will be great in an upcoming version

-- Federation (at this moment we're talking about /big/ scaling)
  • * Simple things first: divide your tables and put each slice in each cluster

-- Akamai...

-- Serving Files

-- High Availability
  • * RAID 5 is cheap, RAID 10 has speeeeeed! ;-)
  • * MogileFS
  • * FlickrFS ( http://sourceforge.net/projects/flickrfs/ )
  • * Amazon S3 (cheap!)

-- Field Work

( iamcal.com/talks )