Friday, 27-Apr-07 18:26
Internet radio in the US is dead

Thanks to some new legislation, the internet radios in the US are getting their rates tripled, so that they'll end up paying something like 70-80% of their revenue as copyright fees. Ok, you say, but the artists must get money for their hard work! I agree. But this is not about paying the artists. Check out this interview with Pandora.fm's founder, Tim Westergren:

Westergren: They’re definitely misinformed. But there’s another piece of the story. Half of the money we pay to ~SoundExchange each month goes to the labels, and half goes directly to the artists. If these new rates do stick, then the only way webcasters will stay alive is to start striking direct licensing deals, at lower rates, with the major record labels. If those deals are struck, then all of that money goes directly to the label, and goes under the umbrella of traditional record deals, where only a very small percent ends up going to artists.

Sinnreich: So you believe that one of the strategic reasons the RIAA has for supporting these higher rates is so labels can offer a competitive lower rate directly to webcasters, which would mean more income overall for labels and less income for artists?

Westergren: That’s exactly right.

Sinnreich: That sounds pretty nefarious.

Westergren: It’s business. These are businesses that are struggling, and they’re trying to maximize revenue.

(Via Boing Boing.)

Friday, 27-Apr-07 17:52
Not only in movies...

Gave a presentation today. Nothing in particular, lots of handwaving around a subject too broad to be fully covered in 30 minutes, so all I could do was to drive a couple of points home, and fill the rest with something mildly entertaining. I hadn't really prepared that well for the presentation, so I was just trying to look and sound convincing and hoped that nobody would see the gaping flaws, and that audience wouldn't fall asleep or escape screaming (I have a theory that if you can keep your presentation somewhere in the middle, you're probably doing okay).

Well, the presentation was over, and I gave a sigh of relief. I returned to my seat, and leaned to a colleague next to me, and whispered: "That was a bit fluffy, wasn't it?"

With the microphone still on my lapel.

Wednesday, 25-Apr-07 22:42
Connectivity with Mac

One of the best, yet relatively unknown features, of Mac OSX is the ease with which you can share a connection. I tried with my work computer - the Thinkpad on the right - to get to the internet, but alas, no such luck. The WLAN connection does not work (signal is too weak) and for some reason, it also refuses to discover my cell phone over Bluetooth (it does, however, discover my previous phone, which is 2900 km away - some radio, huh?) However, my Mac does work (the Macbook antennas are apparently very good), so for once I'm grateful that I happened to lug two laptops with me.

So, I connect the Mac to the internet (and pay something horrendous), and then go to System Preferences -> Sharing Preferences -> Internet Sharing. Turn "Internet sharing on" from "Airport" to "Ethernet", put an Ethernet cable between Thinkpad and Mac, and hey! The Thinkpad is on the internet! VPN works and everything - the only downside being that the umbilical cord connecting the two modern wonders is about one meter, so I can't go too far. Internet sharing is by the way also a great way for not paying for two computers ;-)

I could, of course, share the 3G connection from the phone via the Mac's built-in WLAN, to get the truly wireless solution, but I think that's doing it over the top already. Besides, that would be even more expensive...

Sunday, 22-Apr-07 12:59
The prime of my life

I'm in a prime age - today, I'm 37! (Hardy har.)

But, talking about primes... There's a fascinating series of articles in Wikipedia, titled List of prime numbers, which contains more interesting numbers you can shake a digit at (ha!). How about delving into the mysteries of prime numbers which may be illegal to possess? Or, marveling at the calculator-defying Strobogrammatic primes? Or do you know how to calculate in base 2i or in phinary? Did you know that primes can be sexy or happy? Or that some of them are palindromic?

However, my personal favourite is the only "Even prime", the number 2. Which, of course, means that it's often referred to as the "oddest prime".

Sunday, 22-Apr-07 11:51
In Soviet Russia...

New York Times says: 50% Good News Is the Bad News in Russian Radio:

MOSCOW, April 21 — At their first meeting with journalists since taking over Russia’s largest independent radio news network, the managers had startling news of their own: from now on, they said, at least 50 percent of the reports about Russia must be “positive.”

In addition, opposition leaders could not be mentioned on the air and the United States was to be portrayed as an enemy, journalists employed by the network, Russian News Service, say they were told by the new managers, who are allies of the Kremlin.

Oh crap... Here we go again.

The good thing in the cold war was that when there was one clearly "evil" country, you could distinguish yourself from it by touting your own positive sides: freedom of information, travel, etc. In the past few years, when the "evility" has washed away from many countries, and the enemy has become something abstract, the waters became muddled and it became hard to see what is freedom and what is not. Nationalism is replaced with corporatism, and even in the western world, citizens rights are infringed more and more in the interest of safety against an unseen enemy. Maybe that's why it's been possible to do, because there is no clear "opposite" side, and you cannot take pride in being different, and better.

Well, to conclude this broadcast with positive news, here's a picture of Prince Albert of Monaco, whose security guards I managed to startle. Greetings to people I met at the WIMA conference, including Daniel. It was good to meet you guys, and to see the energy with which people are embracing the NFC technology!

Image courtesy of Mikko Saarisalo

Monday, 16-Apr-07 17:06
A day in the life...

So, five minutes before a telco, I grab my trusty tea mug, and head over to the coffee corner to get some caffeine brewing. On the way in, I realize I also have to go to the toilet. So I pop in for a quick whiz.

I place the mug on a side table, whip out my willy, and suddenly the left half of my brain goes: "INEFFICIENT!" (Yes, the word was in my mind with all caps and a robotic tone). "You should've put the tea to brew while taking a leak, now you're wasting time", my mind continues.

The next thought comes from the right side of the brain: "You stupid twat! It's just a minute! If you have to try to optimize your peeing, you're a fucking sad loser."

I nearly laugh, the discussion in my head is so odd. Odd, but eerie. Am I going nuts?

But hey, yeah, I'm back at work after a week's vacation. A week of rest does strange things to your mind - and so does wading through 200 unread emails.

I'll be a good corporate drone soon. Promise.

(This week, I'll be in Monaco. Say hi, if you're coming... Next week, I'll be in Madrid, and in May, on a frigging speaker tour as an invited speaker. I'll have more info on that later - at the moment I'm just a bit dazed at even the idea.)

Monday, 16-Apr-07 14:51
Nokia Beta Labs

Wa-hey, it's out: Nokia Beta Labs. The cool thing is that you get a direct channel to the people who're developing the software - and if this works out well, who knows what the next apps in the Beta Labs might be ;-)

(The crummy thing being that it's still not a proper two-way discussion. But at least it's a start.)

Friday, 13-Apr-07 23:50
My three problems with Jaiku

Been using Jaiku for some time. However, I still feel pretty uncomfortable with it.

  • The mobile client is a nice idea, but... There simply is not enough memory to run Jaiku and e.g. Navicore at the same time. So I need to quit Jaiku every time I'm on the move - which sort of kills a lot of the use cases.
  • The mobile client is very limited, because you can't read or add comments on it. So all this community creation shit is completely out of reach when you're on the move. In fact, the mobile client is so limited that if it wasn't for the nifty cell location thingy, it would be better that there was no mobile client.
  • Worse yet, there's no history on the mobile client. So what you see on the web site is really the history, the time dimension of what your friends have been doing - and on the mobile, you just see what is happening *now*. If you look at the mobile the wrong moment, it's all off. Just a snapshot of the richness, and therefore you feel that you're missing out.
  • The web site has some usability problems (with respect to comments), but my main gripe with it that it's so... Web 2.0. There's a certain part in me which is tired of seeing mashed-together sites that look nice, but have no proper documentation nor usability design.
  • I never know whether I should Jaiku in English or Finnish. I have no idea who's listening to my Jaikus, so I don't really know what I should say. And frankly, Jaikus are pretty intimate, so I'd be more comfortable in sending them in Finnish. But the problem is that I don't know if anyone cares - much like in blogs, when you lose your readers, you don't really know.

Minor problems, those above. The big, big, big problem is that I don't really care. I know I'm supposed to be the connected übergeek, but frankly, all of the people who I actually care about enough to know where they are, don't use Jaiku. Or could care less about such things. So the only people I can connect to on Jaiku are, well, pretty much the same people I connect through my blog, or through work, and - no offense guys - but I really don't care about you enough to constantly know where you are and what you are thinking and whether or not you are drinking a latte or a macchiato. I'm happy with the occasional processed thought on your blog, or a random picture of something on your Flickr every couple of days. That's fine, and great, and that's the kind of level I am comfortable with. But to get constant thought streams of people I normally see only a few times a year - well, that's just way too much useless information.

Maybe I'm a psychopath or something, but somehow I just don't feel the need to be constantly connected with everyone. I'm spending way too little time being connected with the people who actually matter to me, so why should I try to forge artificial connections to people that I barely know, who just happen to be using the same kind of technology than me? Doesn't quite compute.

There must be a better use for these tools than what they are currently being used for. Blogs became popular when enough people learned how to write a good blog. Maybe Twitters and Jaikus will achieve the same kind of status in the future, but at the moment they feel more like toys. I'm reminded of a fridge door with a notice board: at first people write things like "buy milk" and "went to the dentist". They end up decorating it with flowers and post cards and erotic poetry formed with a 70 word dictionary.

Gah. It probably shows that I'm pretty disillusioned with Web 2.0 and all this mobility stuff. IMO, the only value of Jaiku and Twitter is that they provide a new cradle for human creativity, which is really all that matters in the end. That's the reason why wikis and blogs and flickr and myspace and empty canvases and HB pencils and summer breaks and styrofoam and hammers and long, meaningless walks are important and interesting: they allow thoughts to grow. "Web 2.0" is becoming now a constraint, a convenient catchphrase, the box in which people think.

And I'm not interested in boxes.

Friday, 13-Apr-07 12:34
How do you know Web 2.0 is passé?

When the Finnish media starts covering a Web 2.0 conference.

Wednesday, 11-Apr-07 23:41
Running around with a GPS

Near a cache in Oslo, Norway
I'm getting into this geocaching thing. This week, we managed to score our first Mystery Cache, the MK, an 8-cache series with a prize at the end for the ten lucky (or skilled) first ones. We were number 3 to figure out the mystery and complete the whole course. Still haven't been able to be a first to find anything, but my hands are itching to start laying my own first cache...

Anyhoo, it's a fun hobby. You get to see loads of places you would normally never bother to go; and I get to spend quality time with the person I love, without the temptations of broadband internet access and Eclipse... Many caches have been located near places which are worth visiting some way or another, and usually you just buzz through on a highway without bothering to stop. I've found some caches near places I used to live, and seen things I didn't even know existed. You often also get a piece of the local history, though sometimes the caches are rather uninspiring, such as hidden between lanes of a busy motorway.

Many of the caches, especially in capital areas, are accessible with public transport or bicycles, so you don't even need a car. I don't own a car, I just rent one when I need to (it's way cheaper when you don't drive much, though sometimes you end up with things like a Citroen C1, a tuned-up Pepsi can which accelerates like an asthmatic beaver), so we can then spend some time also doing caching trips a bit farther away.

(Finns should head to geocaching.fi, a pretty neat resource for all things geocaching.)

Monday, 09-Apr-07 09:43
And I thought I was joking...

...when I commented on this blog on how there's soon going to be a "blogger code" and a badge people can show on their blogs so that they can feel superior.

Turns out O'Reilly and folks are making one.

I predict the next thing we're going to see is a "Censorship enforced" -badge, and a counter-movement to the freedom of expression. Not to mention about two dozen, short-lived, anonymous blogs which will proudly scream their heads off on how dumb an idea the "blogger code" is.

And, of course, none of this is going to amount to a gnat's shit in clearing up the blogosphere from morons.

Update: Michael Arrington says: "The code of conduct and the mass of bloggers lining up behind it scares me a lot more than the hate comments and death threats I’ve received in the past."

Update: Jeff Jarvis tears the whole thing apart. Quoting: "These pledges are all the more dangerous because big-media people think they are ethical and we’re not because they have pledges and we don’t."

Tuesday, 03-Apr-07 22:14
If you have a soft spot for cute rodents...

...this video will melt your heart.

<3 Mocha

Monday, 02-Apr-07 17:21
EMI to release DRM-free tracks in iTunes

Woo-hoo! Check out the EMI press release!

London, 2 April 2007 -- EMI Music today announced that it is launching new premium downloads for retail on a global basis, making all of its digital repertoire available at a much higher sound quality than existing downloads and free of digital rights management (DRM) restrictions. The new higher quality DRM-free music will complement EMI's existing range of standard DRM-protected downloads already available. From today, EMI's retailers will be offered downloads of tracks and albums in the DRM-free audio format of their choice in a variety of bit rates up to CD quality. EMI is releasing the premium downloads in response to consumer demand for high fidelity digital music for use on home music systems, mobile phones and digital music players. EMI's new DRM-free products will enable full interoperability of digital music across all devices and platforms.

In iTunes Music Store, you pay 30c more to get the tracks without DRM - and you can upgrade DRM'd songs to be DRM-free by just paying the difference. And get this: it's gonna be 256kbps AAC - not the regular 128 kbps! That's good enough for archiving and format conversion for a long, long time in the future. I'm happy with that. This is what was asked for, this is what they are doing, and now it's up to the market forces to take this thing forward.

So, this means that the price of online music should settle at $1.29€/song, with cheaper versions available at different levels of cripplitude. I'm pretty sure that the $1.29€/song figure won't change for a long time (because traditionally, the price of music has not exactly gone down with new technologies), but it's still fine compared to new CD prices.

(Via, well, everywhere.)

Update: A surprisingly insightful comment from Slashdot, where someone wonders if this is going to kill Microsoft's music strategy, Windows Media, and Zune:

If all the labels offer their music DRM free by the end of the year, then what incentive is there for any online music store, except for the Zune store, to offer music in Windows Media format, given that the iPod is incompatible with WMA and represents about 80% of the target market.

Well, twenty percent of the player market is still quite a lot, and considering that many cell phones play happily both WMA and AAC, I don't know if it really matters. But this surely is going to change the dynamics of the marketplace.

Update2: Just realized that increased quality probably means watermarking. Oh well, as long as it's not audible and that they are open about it.

Sunday, 01-Apr-07 13:49
Wasn't at ETech, don't care

I've been to O'Reilly's Emerging Technology conference a few times. This year, it didn't even occur to me to beg my boss to go there. In fact, I wasn't really aware of it happening, because there just wasn't excited buzz about the speakers. It even seems that the biggest cahoot was about someone not speaking there. And judging from Ewan's comments, nobody really missed anything by not going.

Maybe it's a sign of maturity that the "exciting new things" -conference has become a "old friends meeting each other" -conference. Maybe it means that we can finally move beyond blogging and wikis and all that social technology shit, and start inventing new, cool stuff again with a set of fresh, new faces.


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