Thursday, 28-Jun-07 16:40
The Star Trek moment

Today, a - a real, honest-to-god - technical discussion revolved around polarity reversals. No, seriously. There are some cases in which polarity reversal is a bad thing, and it needs to be solved.

My comments to the discussion were mostly in the form of uncontrollable giggles.

Damn you, Doctor and Scotty.

Wednesday, 27-Jun-07 22:54
Urgh

One of the lesser enjoyable things in life is catching something which makes you wake up in the middle of the night, running a fever, stomach cramping and your bowels generating more liquid than solid waste.

And all this while you could be outside enjoying the summer of Prague.

Tuesday, 19-Jun-07 16:55
You know the feeling...

...when you're standing on one leg, and then you realize that your foot is in a fire, and you'd like to pull it out, but you're not quite sure whether your other leg holds, because you've never really used it 'cos it's your left one, so maybe you should wait and see if the fire goes out on its own, and there are some guys around you who are pissing on your leg, and it's nice because the leg's on fucking fire, but on the other hand - the guys are pissing on your leg...?

Thought so.

Monday, 18-Jun-07 18:51
New occupations arise

How about being a gold farmer? I find it really interesting how business, just like life, tends to finds ecological (economical?) niches and roots itself firmly there. Greed is as powerful as sunlight.

(Via Freedom to Tinker.)

Friday, 15-Jun-07 10:49
Ain't that different

My music taste is 14.78% mainstream!

(Via Marjut.)

Saturday, 09-Jun-07 18:47
How do you know there are roleplayers with kids in your building?

...when there's an adorably cute drawing of the Great Cthulhu on the pavement under your balcony one morning.

That, or we have a bad case of loony cultists nearby.

Thursday, 07-Jun-07 17:44
Helmettikauppa avattu

Häpeämätön mainos: Outi avasi korukauppansa. Nyt jos tarvitset itsellesi, puolisolle, kaverille tai vanhemmalle näppärän lahjan, niin rohkeasti tilaamaan!

(PHP on muuten nykyajan BASIC, olen vakuuttunut siitä. Sillä saa aikaan helposti tosi hirveää jälkeä.)

Edit: korukauppa, ei helmikauppa. D'oh!

Tuesday, 05-Jun-07 08:52
Internet celebrity (and the pointlessness thereof)

Heh. Stumbled upon Niilo Paasivirta's The most famous Finns page, which lists 221 Finns and counts how many hits they get on Google at regular intervals. The last update seems to be from about a month ago. Somewhat surprisingly, the most famous Finn according to Google is Darude, though Linus Torvalds is a good second, and Kimi Räikkönen a strong third. And then you get the bunch of people you would normally expect on the list - you know, the kind of people that deserve to be there for being famous.

I was floored when I saw my name on the list at place 145.

I got more hits than Esa Saarinen, Mikko Franck, or Jari Tervo. Or even Jari Sarasvuo... And apparently, my position's been going down, with the average rating being 117. Though that could be due to influx of some actually famous people.

Heck. What to do with this newfound fame? Should I try using the "don't you know who I am" -line to get into night clubs? (Not that I ever go.) Or maybe stand in the middle of Narinkkatori and scream: "I am famous, worship me?" Or try to get in Seiska for doing something inane?

Nah. I'll diminish, go to work, and remain just Janne. And looks like I'm late already.

Update: Noticed that my online nick-name ecyrd is even more popular: 65,400 hits, which earns a place on the list at number 113. No wonder some people call me that IRL as well, even though I prefer my real name in real life.

Friday, 01-Jun-07 14:07
There is no podcasting community

Ewan: Get Over It… Podcasting Is No Different To Any Other Media.

Fun to see the podcasting community going through the same motions as the blogosphere did three years ago. Part of the growing pains, I suppose...

Thursday, 31-May-07 14:58
Following comments

I've been using co.mments.com to follow discussions I find interesting, as they've had a nice, clean interface and a cool Javascript scriptlet allowing one-click subscription. However, lately they are suffering from constant slowdowns and errors, which is making the service essentially useless.

What other comment following services would you recommend?

Thursday, 31-May-07 11:07
More Mari-Leen

Thanks to the tip from Merten, I bought Mari-Leen's "Rahutu Tuhkatriinu" from http://www.cdmarket.eu/. Good prices, slow-ish delivery.

Have to admit that I like this a lot. The title song is of course a cover, but the rest of the album works really well, too. "Suure linna inglid" is very catchy, yet varies nicely between slow and fast parts, and Mari-Leen's voice suits perfectly to this music style.

There are a couple of weak songs, too (as always), but the only real complaint I have is with the CD cover design... It makes a perfectly pretty young woman look like a crossbreed between Ronald ~McDonald and a Realdoll.

Definitely worth the money. I could easily see this become mainstream in Finland.

Wednesday, 30-May-07 19:03
CBS snags last.fm

Last.fm, my favourite online music service, has been snatched by CBS for a nice, lump sum of $280 million USD. Congratulations to everyone involved!

Now, the question is, will CBS "get it", or will they kill Last.fm by "innovating" on new business models. Flickr has survived relatively unscathed as a part of a larger entity, but CBS is old money, and they've got lots of old farts making decisions. It remains to be seen whether the DNAs of these two companies are compatible.

My guess is that they aren't, and we'll see a slow decline of Last.fm from a hassle-free, personal radio station into a product-placement and advertisement -ridden, badly encoded stream that chooses songs based on who pays the most money instead of what the user actually might prefer.

For some reason, I am feeling fairly cynical this week. Nothing ever works quite the way you would hope it to, and at some point it just gets to you, you know?

Wednesday, 30-May-07 17:41
CSS story not yet over

The DVD Content Scrambling System, which was found to be "ineffective" in the Helsinki District Court, won't die so easily. Tietokone.fi reports that the prosecutor has decided to take the case to a higher court. So the district court decision will be challenged, and it'll take a few months before we get a new result.

In my opinion, this is a good thing. Hopefully, the court of appeals will take a stand on the "organized discussion" -part as well.

Wednesday, 30-May-07 14:36
Feature Frenzy in Japan

This interesting article lists the top features that the Japanese cell phone users want then they're upgrading. Highly interesting:

Q2: When upgrading your mobile phone, the existence of which features are important? (Sample size=1,000, multiple answer)

1. Memory card             29.4%
2. One Seg television      23.2%
3. Music playback          20.0%
4. Infra-red transmission  16.6%
5. FeLiCa, Osaifu Keitai, 
   electronic cash         14.0%

Notice how infrared beats Bluetooth hands down, and WLAN is not popular at all. GPS is bubbling strongly under at number seven, but what I find interesting is the popularity of smart card services and electronic cash. The Japanese market has been enjoying cell phones with embedded smart cards for a couple of years now, and you can already do a lot of things from paying a subway trip or at the local grocery store to reserving seats in a train... It's great to see that they've gained consumer acceptance so fast.

It's also interesting to see that mobile TV is a big hit. No wonder really, you need to keep yourself entertained on those long subway trips... Which also explains the memory card and the music playback. In fact, it's not a big surprise that the most wanted features are the ones which relate to the daily life, which, for many people, consists of work, home, and the trips between. Which, in Japan, can be very long and boring. Now if I could figure out why infrared is so popular... Synchronization? Backups?

Tuesday, 29-May-07 21:57
Follow that bus!

Niko tips off http://transport.wspgroup.fi/hklkartta/ - a mashup service which allows you to follow, in real time, certain buses in Helsinki transport. Not only that, it'll show you the routes and nearest bus stops using the latest in Google Maps technology.

Awesome, though the service still looks like a demo more than anything else. But yeah, I would use this. There's something hypnotic and organic about watching buses move...

Tuesday, 29-May-07 16:07
OH NOES

lolcode.com - where teh w4nn4b3 1337 program!

The following code prints a file to the screen.

HAI
CAN HAS STDIO?
PLZ OPEN FILE "LOLCATS.TXT"?
	AWSUM THX
		VISIBLE FILE
	O NOES
		INVISIBLE "ERROR!"
KTHXBYE

(OK, this is really bad. But I felt like it, since my brain is slowly turning to mush. It's only Tuesday and I'm in my eight teleconference or something...)

(Via BB.)

Saturday, 26-May-07 10:59
Treating a reporter right

Heh. If you're an IT entrepreneur, you'll meet six reporter types. Valleyvag tells you how to deal with them. My favourite is the blogger:

Oh god, everything could go wrong. The blogger probably has less experience, more unearned arrogance ("I have pageviews in the triple digits!"), and half the resources to properly research your story. They're more likely to have an agenda, and it's more likely to be wrong.
Friday, 25-May-07 16:20
DVD copy protection "ineffective", rules Finnish court

Just released, Turre Legal says that CSS has been found officially ineffective:

In an unanimous decision released today, Helsinki District Court ruled that Content Scrambling System (CSS) used in DVD movies is “ineffective”. The decision is the first in Europe to interpret new copyright law amendments that ban the circumvention of “effective technological measures”.

The way I interpret this is that it is therefore legal to crack the DVD content protection for your own purposes, e.g. watching it on Linux computers, or converting it to something which can be played back on a cell phone. Obviously, it is still not legal to distribute the content without permission... But that wasn't the point. The point was to find out exactly what does "organized discussion" mean in the context of cryptanalysis/DRM. Unfortunately, I don't think this was achieved, as the CSS restrictions management system was deemed outright ineffective without actual decision on what constitutes "organized discussion". But it's still a reasonable result.

Thanks to the people who went through the trouble of organizing this. Much like a lot of the copyright discussion in Finland, this was a grassroots effort by a number of people, who decided to give themselves in to the police as criminals for discussing DVD encryption.

Friday, 25-May-07 13:00
A regular Super Trouper

Yes, I like ABBA. I've seen Bjorn Again live. Twice. I'll wait a moment for you to stop snickering.

...

...

Anyway, I've wanted to see the "Mamma Mia" musical for quite some time now, and now that the tour has arrived in Helsinki, took advantage of it. And I wasn't disappointed. While the story was paper-thin, and the characters were about as complicated as a two-by-four, it didn't really matter. It was just a good excuse to hear all the hits, put in new contexts, a lot of it well-timed. "Winner takes it all" got the audience roaring after the first bar - and I guess that was really the point: nothing too complicated, just a load of feelgood for two hours. And I have to admit that I woke up refreshed and relaxed and inexplicably happy this morning.

One thing that struck me was really how incredibly sad the hit songs actually were, now that they were actually subtitled (for some reason, I don't usually check the lyrics), and you saw them in a (sort of) context. Lots of happy faces, but pain and sorrow beneath the masks. But I guess that is a part of the fascination.

(No, no lycra for me. The world just wouldn't be ready.)

Thursday, 24-May-07 12:56
Lazyweb request: bug tracking database?

Ok, now having tried to install JIRA, Codebeamer and Bugzilla, I've come to conclusion that Janne and Mysql do not mix. I've spent several hours of my life reading documentation, tracking unknown files (Jira is so wonderful: they tell you you MUST install certain files, except that the link to those files is broken, and they don't even tell you what the files are, so you can't track them down on your own. Codebeamer documentation is worse than most open source projects, and it assumes that you're installing on a clean server. Which I am not. And Bugzilla - well, something has broken my ubuntu mysql installation, so apt-get is of no help.)

The question is: is there a free bug tracking database which does not use a SQL database, and which would be, like, actually easy to install?

(And please do not try to help me to install any of the above-mentioned things. I am so frustrated with them right now I will probably track you down by your IP address, and whip you senseless with a piece of Cat5 cabling.)

Monday, 21-May-07 13:44
Cybertrash

Check out Remy Tassou, a man who builds art out of abandoned electronics. Awesome, though some rudimentary French skills might be required :-)

Monday, 21-May-07 01:00
Clearing Eclipse validation markers

Note to self: the only clean way to remove Eclipse validation markers (if you ran a validator to a wrong file) is to remove the file manually from outside Eclipse, then run "Replace With -> Latest from HEAD". I couldn't find any proper documentation on this via Google-fu, so let it be here in case someone else needs this.

Anyhoo, lots of computer nastiness today. Tried to install some common web software on my Mac, only to find out that the program I was installing required a previous version of the said programming language, but the guy who maintains the port refuses to even distribute the earlier version of the said programming language, and that the other stuff I was installing needed the new version of that programming language, which did install, but then it refused to communicate with a well known database system I had just installed, claiming I need a newer version, even though I already had a latest version installed, and then it was already down to compiling from source and after a few hours it all essentially came down to a lot of handwaving, cursing, and repetitive and liberal application of "rm -rf".

People often tell me how JSPWiki is nice because it's so easy to install. I often wondered about this - JSPWiki in my opinion is not particularly easy to install: there are lots of hidden traps you can fall into, if you're not careful.

Today I realized what a pain it can be to install certain open source software if you're not running on a machine which happens to get readily packaged versions. On a decent Ubuntu machine I would've been able to install everything with just a few commands, but having to install open source from the source drove my nerves up the wall at record speed. I had forgotten what a colossal pain in the ass it can be... While having source is nice, needing it is often a sign of Awful Code Whose Author Should Be Whacked On The Head.

At least the pain of installing JSPWiki tends to be relatively constant across platforms.

Wednesday, 16-May-07 18:27
Troll whisperers and bulletin boards

A wonderful article by Cory Doctorow in Information Week about how exactly do you calm down trolls and keep the discussion civil on message boards. It fits the current Lex Kuronen -discussion like a glove.

Hint: the right answer is NOT more moderation, just like the answer to crime is not to locking everyone up (just in case).

(Sorry, I'll switch to Finnish from this point on.)

Eräs idea, jolla olen leikitellyt, olisi se, että voisi itse asiassa olla hyvä, että jokaisella julkisella, pysyväisluonteisella keskustelupalstalla olisi "velvollinen henkilö". Tämä ei siis tarkoita vastuullista päätoimittajaa, vaan enemmänkin luonnollista henkilöä, jolla on ylläpitovastuu järjestelmästä. De facto tällainenhän joka järjestelmässä jo on, mutta monesti heidän tavoittamisensa voi olla hankalaa. Velvollinen henkilö toimisi niin keskustelijoiden kuin mahdollisesti viranomaisten ensimmäisenä kontaktina, mikäli jotain inhaa tapahtuu. Tuomioistuin ja/tai poliisi sitten tarpeen vaatiessa antaa päätöksen - kuten nykyäänkin - ja velvoittaa tämän velvollisen henkilön sitten toimimaan asianmukaisesti. Tai sitten käyttäjä voi pyytää velvolliselta henkilöltä poistoa, ja tämä sitten joko tekee niin tai sitten ei (jonka jälkeen voi ottaa yhteyttä poliisiin).

Lähinnä ajan sitä takaa, että ylläpitäjien tulisi olla selkeästi merkittyjä, jotta heihin voi ottaa tarpeen vaatiessa yhteyttä. Samanlainen ilmoitusvelvollisuushan on jo käytössä esimerkiksi henkilörekisterien suhteen. Sen sijaan se, että heitä pidettäisiin vastuullisina kaikesta kirjoittelusta olisi - kuten moni on jo ehtinyt huomauttaa - käytännössä mahdotonta, ja ajaisi monta keskustelupalstaa joko pois Suomesta, piilottaisi ne darknetteihin tai sitten lopettaisi ne kokonaan - ja parhaimmassakin tapauksessa saisi aikaan epämääräisen paranoian ilmapiirin. Minä nimittäin ainakin tasan tarkkaan sulkisin suoraan sellaiset sivustot, joita ylläpidän kavereideni iloksi, mutta joita en itse ehdi hirveästi seurata.

En toki usko, että tällä erityisesti saataisiin kuriin ulkomaisten palstojen huutelua, mutta tämä sopisi melko hyvin myös hajautettuihin uutisjärjestelmiin, kuten USENET. USENETin ylläpitäjillä kun on jo mahdollisuus poistaa viestejä (spämmille tehdään tätä jatkuvasti, joskin jokainen uutispalvelin tietenkin päättää itse, totteleeko se poistokomentoa), mutta valvontaan eivät kenenkään rahkeet tietenkään riitä; ja ylläpitäjien laittaminen vastuuseen siitä, että Australiasta on postitettu viesti yhdysvaltalaiselle palvelimelle, joka nyt sattuu automaattisesti leviämään Suomeen, on lievästikin sanottuna täysin älytön ajatus.

Tuesday, 15-May-07 13:56
Local minima theory

The great thing about travel is that it takes you out of your comfort zone.

A friend of mine had a theory once: she used to talk about how people "get stuck in local minima". This is a loan from physics and mathematics, where a local minimum means a place where you need to use extra effort to get away from. For example, rainwater collects itself as ponds in local minimums: you need to actively send it to the global minimum: the storm drain. This is the same reason why proper design is important in a bathroom!

Anyway, people tend to get stuck in a local minimum: they find their comfort zone, and stay there. Many people never bother to take the extra effort needed to climb out of the hole they've dug, and see if there would be a better "local minimum". It's uncertain effort, because you could be in a global minimum, and every other option would be worse...

I'm not saying that people are bad because they do not seek life outside the comfort zone. But I am saying that it's important to realize when you are in a comfort zone, that there could be other options as well - but that it will require conscious effort to get out of them. And if you're happy with the decision to be wherever you are, all power to you. But, in my opinion, you need to make the conscious decision. Maybe you are already where you want, or maybe the walls are just too steep to climb out. But sometimes you see people stuck on what is essentially a flat area, and they just keep complaining, but they don't seem to have the ability to start finding something better, just because it will make your life slightly worse for a while.

I guess there's a law in there somewhre: "In the absence of external forces, people get stuck in their comfort zone."

That's why I love traveling: it provides constant nudges which keep putting you to situations you're not comfortable in. If you choose to look, you will see.

Tuesday, 15-May-07 10:15
"Oh, the hair thieves! The hair thieves, they come in the night… Steal your hair, they do! Sell us into slavery!"

Any Eddie Izzard fan should get a chuckle out of this one: Apparently, hair thieves are prowling in Myanmar.

(Via Boing Boing.)

Monday, 14-May-07 10:02
Off again

This weekend, I've mostly been traveling... Arrived to Helsinki from London on Saturday morning, and left yesterday evening for Düsseldorf. The more mathematically inclined can see that it's just one night at home, before going again.

I'm pretty glad the current stretch is almost over. No big trips coming up before Midsummer (that I know of), and I could possibly concentrate on getting some work done. Not that I mind travel, but things tend to pick up in May (because everyone seems to want to have a clean desk before summer holidays).

Anyhoo, time for a presentation. Let's hope I don't make too much of an ass of myself; I didn't have as much time as I would've liked to prepare for this (he said, knowing that at least part of the audience reads this blog...)

Sunday, 13-May-07 13:17
Finland wants mandatory moderation on all discussion boards

This is laughable: The national prosecutor wants mandatory moderators on all discussion boards. Why? Because currently there's a loophole in the legislation: if nobody moderates the messages, every person is responsible for what they write. However, if there is moderation, the moderators have responsibility for the messages.

So, if you have e.g. a blog, you suddenly become liable for everything that everyone else says on the comment section. Meaning that you must, in practice, read everything that everyone writes. For a blog this is probably still doable, but for a moderately active discussion board or a wiki... no chance.

Here's again an idea which, from a very narrow point of view, makes sense - but fails when thinking of the grander scheme of things:

  • You cannot control foreign sites. Meaning that USENET, blogspot.com and, well, close to 90% of everything is outside the reach of the law. And, obviously, people who habitually send in "bad" messages, will just shift to those places. There are some scary possibilities here if Finland starts thinking - just like the US - that Finnish law is also applicable on foreign soil.
  • What if someone buys something from a spam link and sues you for false advertising? Just asking...
  • We already have legislation which allows the police to get the IP address of the suspect, and figure out who he is. So, instead of making *everyone* the police, the police should be doing their job.
  • Because most people haven't got the slightest idea what is legal and what is not, it's probable that the moderators will start deleting messages "just in case". I know some sites which already do this - and I would hate to see every single discussion board to become like them.
  • What about copyright violations? Will the moderators will be responsible for those as well? Probably yes - so you must become a real police trying to figure out if e.g. an avatar image is stolen from somewhere. The easy solution: ban all images and links.
  • Large sites become near-impossible - or at least very expensive - to govern and control.
  • Mandatory moderation just stinks of censorship - or at least the first step towards it. You see, once such a large-scale system is in place, you can start enforcing things like "no discussion on topic X", and the scared little moderators will comply, because they don't want to go to jail.
  • What about other legal issues, like falsifying information? Stock-pump schemes? Are you responsible also if someone says that "he has good knowledge of stock XXX going up in the next few days?"
  • What about sites where everyone is a moderator, like a wiki?

All in all, this idea seems to be born straight out of an ass of some control freak. I wouldn't be surprised if the media industry was behind this: it would give them the ability to close whole websites or go after the moderators, if there's any "organized discussion" on copyright legislation. It would be easier and cheaper than trying to figure out IP addresses of the actual problem people, and just as effective. Not that they didn't actually do anything, but hey, a prosecutor's job is to find a scape goat!

Update: Apologies to Jari Lindholm for poor choice of words - when I sent "media industry", I really meant "entertainment industry" as a sub-species. I agree with your viewpoint that unmoderated discussion boards are probably a good thing to media houses. I was more concerned about this becoming yet another way with which e.g. discussion on piracy, crime, cryptography, and other grey areas could be stifled.

Sunday, 13-May-07 00:17
Sorry

I would like to apologize to the rest of Europe for Krisse Salminen (the lady in pink). It's a joke, and a very bad joke indeed.

Wednesday, 09-May-07 14:58
Open source as a religion?

Well, I've heard comments to that effect. Believe in it, and you shall be saved. Disbelieve in the goodness of Open Source, and thou shalt be damned. While open source has obviously some good things going for it, many people also agree that it's not a solution for everything.

I have a theory: there is no such thing as open source as an entity which could be understood. It's as elusive as, say, a "mobile phone user." Which we often refer to, but at least there we do understand that there are many different reasons for a person to use a mobile phone. Companies put in a lot of money trying to understand and "segment consumers" to figure out what kind of products sell.

Open Source is really a tool for accomplishing something. The aims can then wildly differ. If you asked all hammer owners, whether hammers in general are good, you would probably get overwhelmingly positive answers - because they bought the hammer because they needed it. The same way, if you talk to people who have already made the choice of open sourcing something, you'll get positive feedback.

It's not that important whether open source is good, but it would be far more important to understand the motivations of the people who have chosen open source. I think we have different kinds of open source: "no care ware" from people who just don't want to maintain small pieces of code; "debtware" from people who think paying back to the OSS community is okay; "communityware" from people who enjoy the feeling of being community leaders; "cheapware" from companies who realize trying to keep up with a custom fork of an OSS project is way too expensive; etc. Different motivations, different kinds of open source.

Just a few disassembled thoughts. But I'm really beginning to think that we should break open "open source" as a box and then try to put it back together to see if it still fits. If open source is becoming a commodity, then perhaps it should be treated like a commodity instead of a big, large, idealistic expression of Freedom of Speech and Basic Human Rights?

(LazyWeb request: anyone studied this yet? I'm sure, but I'm too lazy to Google, especially since I have a telco starting in five... Fifth one today. Yay. And tomorrow, UK. When I get old and start to wonder where did all the time go, I'll just look at this blog and my Flickr stream and go "oh, right".)

Wednesday, 09-May-07 00:38
We shall return to the Moon using cheesy effects!

NASA's "Returning to the Moon" video, containing the cheesiest special effects ever. I mean - how could anyone claim that moon landings were faked, if NASA can't produce better stuff than this with all the special effects technology of today? *grin*

(Via Collision Detection.)

Tuesday, 08-May-07 20:42
Second-hand CD ban

Yup. It had to happen: selling of used CD's is getting slowly banned. Why, you may ask? Perhaps because the music industry does not get a cut in these sales, so they consider it a theft pretty much like downloading music off the internet. Ars Technica reports:

On Florida, Utah, and soon in Rhode Island and Wisconsin, selling your used CDs to the local record joint will be more scrutinized than then getting a driver's license in those states. For retailers in Florida, for instance, there's a "waiting period" statue that prohibits them from selling used CDs that they've acquired until 30 days have passed. Furthermore, the Florida law disallows stores from providing anything but store credit for used CDs.

Why this trend, and why now? It's difficult to say, but to be sure, there is no love lost between retailers who sell used CDs and the music industry. The Federal Trade Commission has scrutinized the music industry for putting unfair pressures on retailers who sell used CDs, following a long battle between the music industry and retailers in the mid 90s. The music industry dislikes used CD sales because they don't get a cut of subsequent sales after the first. Now, via the specter of piracy, new legislation is cropping up that will make it even less desirable to sell second-hand goods. Can laws targeting used DVDs be far behind?

I was under the impression that most musicians love music, and they have extensive collections of new and old stuff. I was also under the impression that they were pretty poor, and therefore like to buy used CDs. And, I have also been told that there are companies which specialize in second-hand music, and that they are the favourite spots for many a beginning artist.

But of course, to protect the profits, er, musicians, these evil shops must die.

Consider this: when music becomes all digital, and if DRM becomes prevalent, there will be no such thing as "used" music anymore. You have to always buy from the source - at the price set by the source. No more CD swaps, no more 2nd hand stores, no more rummaging through super-sale boxes filled with dusty vintage music. Maybe not today, and maybe not in twenty years, but eventually there will be a large amount of music only available as digital bits without any physical manifestation which you could trade. And if this trend continues, this may become sooner than expected.

(Via pretty much everywhere.)

Sunday, 06-May-07 13:57
Spam in Jaiku

There's an old saying from a smart man (and I seem to recall it was Matt Jones): "Social Software is the kind of software which can be spammed."

So, I wasn't exactly surprised to start finding spam comments on my Jaiku account. "Buy Phentermine", it says, and it's from a Jaiku account named "buyphentermine". And I'm pretty sure it's not the only one.

I suppose this is a good indication that Jaiku is growing: it's important enough to get spammers joining. Let's see how they do in this inevitable onslaught of vermins.

The good thing is that I can delete the comment myself. However, if this becomes common, I - and others - probably won't bother...

Friday, 04-May-07 18:15
Rahutu Tuhkatriinu

OK, gotta admit it: I love this. A young Estonian singer remakes a Finnish dance hit from 1980s - and ends up with something way better than the original. Well, you can compare them yourself. If the languages sounds similar, that's just because Finnish and Estonian are related, but I have to admit I understand only a few words here and there. I actually like the way Estonian sounds: It's kinda like Finnish with a soft slavic touch, spoken by a Finn who's forgotten the words and is making most of them up as he goes along.

Gah. I feel a trip to Estonia approaching... (Unless I can find a web store that sells this, or they release this before I manage to hop to a ferry.)

(Via darling.)

Wednesday, 02-May-07 22:56
Talk tour...

I'll be talking in the Intland Expertenforum on wikis and social software in enterprise use:

Düsseldorf: 14.5
München: 15.5
Hamburg: 16.5

The seminars are free, and arranged in co-operation of Sun Microsystems. Feel free to drop by, if you want to hear me rambling incoherently on things I claim some vague knowledge on... Be warned that parts of the seminars are likely to be in German. Not my part, though - I'm not trusting my rusty German that much.

Wednesday, 02-May-07 11:27
Loyalty day?

WTF? Loyalty day?

NOW, THEREFORE, I, GEORGE W. BUSH, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim May 1, 2007, as Loyalty Day. I call upon the people of the United States to participate in this national observance and to display the flag of the United States on Loyalty Day as a symbol of pride in our Nation.

Loyalty day? Loyalty day?

When exactly did the world become a bad comic book?

(Via Boing boing.)

Wednesday, 02-May-07 00:38
Another illegal number

09 F9 11 02 9D 74 E3 5B D8 41 56 C5 63 56 88 C0

It might not look like it, but the string of characters above is one of the Big Secrets of Mankind. It is the so-called AACS processing key, which allows you to decrypt every single HD-DVD movie released until a few days ago. Now, AACS is sending threatening letters to anyone who dares to utter those magical incantations, because they are EVIL! So, of course, everyone and their cousin are posting them on the web.

Actually, knowing those numbers is not enough to crack AACS. You still need to know how it works (and of course, a proof of concept already exists.) So it's not like we're talking about a cracking service.

The point being: any DRM-enabled system needs to give both the encrypted data and the decryption mechanism to the hands of the user. A smart user will figure out the decryption mechanism. And once one smart user figures it out, the whole world will know. So I just don't really understand why people bother. It's just so futile, and the money used in all this crap would probably be better used in doing other things - like given to the artists, or to hunt the real pirates - the guys who copy the disk 1:1, copy protection and all, and sell them for a cheap price on the markets and the internet. Those are the ones who're damaging the industry, not the people who are trying to play their legally purchased movies on their own hardware.

We all know a lot of things, which are dangerous and illegal. I know how to kill people with my bare hands and a bunch of different weapons - I trained it for years (though I probably would lose in any real fight; haven't been training in ages). I'm even a pretty decent shot, if you give me a gun. Knowing how to do that is not illegal - but using that knowledge for the wrong purpose is, and absolutely should be. The same thing should apply here: knowing a number should not be illegal. Using it to distribute a movie is, and it should be. And in my book, knowing how to kill people is a lot more dangerous than knowing how to decrypt a movie.

(Here's the number in decimal, so knowing and copying the following number into your blog could be illegal, depending on your legislation: 13,256,278,887,989,457,651,018,865,901,401,704,640.)

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.

Wednesday, 28-Mar-07 10:19
Nokia Sports Tracker and Jitter

Jitter? Sounds like a new cool Web 2.0 app? Actually, it's a killer for a lot of the location applications... I've been lately trying out the Nokia Sports Tracker, a smart phone tool which tracks your exercise with GPS. It tells you how fast you run, how far you run, tracks your altitude and even plots it all on a map and exports it to Google Earth for you. It also has a cool scroll effect when switching screens. It's a really nice, small application which is just perfect for the person who worships Excel as the greatest tool ever invented by mankind.

That is, if the underlying technology worked properly.

On the picture you can see a short trip I did yesterday evening. In real life it's about 3 - 3.5 km in a pretty suburbian area. The GPS weather was bad, so the GPS location kept jumping back and forth all trip, and those jumps were calculated in my overall travel. The somewhat funny end result of all this was that my average speed over this trip was 66.9 km/h, with a maximum speed of 150 km/h, as the total distance - according to GPS - was 34.38 km (that's a tad over 21 miles to all you metric-challenged people). My phone probably now thinks I'm an athletic junkhead giant robot on a particularly bad dose of speed.

Anyway, my point being: GPS, even if you have good equipment (I have a Sirf-III), is not always to be trusted. It works correctly so often, that when it fails, it can spell a catastrophy when you don't pay attention. The human factor cannot be removed either: a colleague recounted a story where he and three friends were trying to find an unfamiliar place, and they all had GPS units. Unfortunately, they all also managed to input the same, wrong, address in the device, and ended up miles away where they were planning to go...

Tuesday, 27-Mar-07 23:26
The internet fuckwads

Just in case you have not yet heard about this, check out Kathy Sierra's post.

The Greater internet fuckwad theory is again getting confirmed. For all its greatness, the Internet can sometimes be a fucking scary place. But luckily, only sometimes.

(I know this isn't unique. I know a few other bloggers who've had half-serious to serious brushes with dedicated harrassers, and it's never fun. Except to other fuckwads.)

Tuesday, 27-Mar-07 12:00
Free NFC development kit now available!

I was just informed that the Nokia 6131 NFC development kit is available from Forum Nokia. It looks really nice, so kudos to all the people who worked hard to get it done! Unfortunately it's XP only, but it does come with an Eclipse plugin. I haven't dug in too deeply in it yet, but I would assume you should be able to get parts of it running in other OS's as well.

(NFC is Near Field Communications, a really short range radio with close relations to smart cards.)

Saturday, 24-Mar-07 19:11
What do to with the (drunken) address book, etc?

Stephen asks:

One of our recent Nokia speaker series guests (Stephen Messer, who had just sold his company for several hundred million dollars, so I listen when he speaks) put it like this - the telco industry has lost the opportunity to innovate in the contacts book, whereas the internet industry has come along and invented an entire new industry - social networking - to fill this innovation void. Hmmm, food for thought? This got me thinking anyway. Even though people do like their contacts book, are we missing out on realizing the full potential of the Internet to make an even better experience? Isn't ~MySpace just your contacts book with Internet-innovation added? Several ideas jump out at me: automatic backups is one clear missing feature that really should be widestream (...) How about integrating other features into the phonebook - or perhaps taking some away. What would you like to see?

This is a good question. At least for me the address book of my mobile phone is the single most valuable thing in it. Everything else I can replace - software, photos (they're going to Flickr anyway), etc. But it has essentially stayed the same for years. You can just put more stuff in it these days. However, I don't think it is this simplistic - there is something intensely personal about your mobile phone address book, and I am not sure whether your ~MySpace friends list is quite so... delicate. I have plenty of people on my ~MySpace, ~LinkedIn, Flickr and ~WorldOfWarcraft friends lists that I hardly in real life ever talk to. They're not friends - they're just people I knew at some point. The relationship is not... personal or utilitarian like the relationship I have to people in my phonebook (family, friends, work). And because the detachment to these internet services is greater, so is the freedom to explore and experiment - new services come and go, and you gather loose circles of "people you knew at some point" on those. Flickr is the way the internet people do social mingling and smalltalk; but with pictures instead of words.

So I don't know whether you can draw a direct analogy between these new internet services and mobile address books. Or maybe it's just the way I use these services.

If you want to pitch some thoughts to Nokia, head over to Stephen's blog and leave some insightful commentary. Or just gripe about your pet peeves - that'll work too!

(I had a 6310 too. It was truly a wonderful phone; I still have it lying in my desk drawer at the office. Sometimes, late in the evening, I take it out and cradle it in my lap, and sing sweet songs... err, um. Forget that. Just go talk to Stephen, okay?)

Friday, 23-Mar-07 13:24
If I were a Finnish celebrity...

...I would be Simo Frangén. That sounds about right...

Thursday, 22-Mar-07 23:46
I, for one, welcome our new dancing robotic overlords...
Tuesday, 20-Mar-07 17:31
Man Sues For Copyright Infringement On Behalf Of Others?

This is pretty bizarre: Phil tells us that Alexis Kouros is threatening to sue him over breach of copyright... over other people's content, and apparently without their authorization!?!

Now, I don't particularly agree to Phil's viewpoints on, well, pretty much anything, but he's one of the guys I would not dare to threaten to sue without grounds. He's already gained high-profile legal representation, and will surely bite back. It looks like poor ol' Alexis is heading down the Googledrain...

(Of course, he's already down the drain; it turns out that Phil's blog is the high mark in Google if you search for Alexis Kouros - and it's not particularly flattering. Maybe this has something to do with the threats, hmmm?)

Tuesday, 20-Mar-07 16:16
Patent Office: Record Industry suing kids makes them look bad, therefore peer-to-peer is a threat to national security

Err... What?

The United States Patent and Trademark Office claims that file-sharing sites could be setting up children for copyright infringement lawsuits and compromising national security.

"A decade ago, the idea that copyright infringement could become a threat to national security would have seemed implausible," Patent and Trademark Director Jon Dudas said in a report released this week. "Now, it's a sad reality."

The report, which the patent office recently forwarded to the U.S. Department of Justice, states that peer-to-peer networks could manipulate sites so children violate copyright laws more frequently than adults. That could make children the target in most copyright lawsuits and, in turn, make those protecting their material appear antagonistic, according to the report.

(In all fairness I think they are making two separate points, the latter of which makes a lot of sense (Stop using P2P in your corporate computer, you dumbasses! You don't know what that thing has eaten!), but the way the article is written certainly makes it look like kids are a national security threat!)

(Via Bruce Schneier, who asks whether USPTO was bribed by the entertainment industry to write this report. I would also like to suggest that Informationweek hires a better editor.)

Monday, 19-Mar-07 22:17
Dear Twitter users...

Dave would like to tell you something. And I'll second that.

Monday, 19-Mar-07 21:04
Monday

Wake up. Shower. Eating breakfast. Someone calls. "Hi, could you participate in this teleconference?" I agree, and spend the next 90 minutes in the telco, still at home (traveling in public transport while talking confidential things on the cell phone is not only annoying, it's dangerous).

The conf call ends, and I sigh. I pack up my laptop, and start searching for my sweater, and suddenly the phone rings. I answer, and spend the next 30 minutes discussing some minute detail. I end the call, and make a quick call to someone else, and it turns rather long. By this time, it's almost lunch time. I try to hurry, but a phone call cuts my dash to the front door. It's okay, it's just one phone call. Almost an hour later, I realize that I won't be able to make it on time to actually eat lunch at the office (it's a long bus ride). So, I grab some eggs from the fridge and break them to make an omelette - and a guy I had asked to call urgently calls. So, with my right arm I absentmindedly whisk eggs while I explain something for the umpteenth time to someone who had first heard about it five minutes ago. The eggs nearly turn rancid, but in the end I triumph and I have a pretty decent omelette (turkey, cheese and random herbs, if you insist on knowing such things).

I manage to just finish my lunch before the next call comes in. After that, I look at my watch and realize that if I left now, I would just make it to the office to hear the latest on the collaboration negotiations (a wonderful term for playing musical chairs with your job). I give up the idea of getting to the office, as I'll hear all the news through the grapevine anyway. And I need desperately to take care of some email, and I no longer can afford to spend the 1.5 hours of back-and-forth traveling.

The phone rings again. And again.

When the final phone call of the day is over, it's almost 7 pm. And I realize that for what it's worth, I could've just sat around with in my underwear all day and I would've been exactly as productive than I was now. Technically I guess I did something wrong by not going to the office all day, but since I would've spent all day talking on the telephone (I needed to charge my phone twice!), I guess it did not really matter.

It must be a Monday. Hope there won't be another day like this soon.

Monday, 19-Mar-07 09:49
DRM accounts for 75% of support calls

Deutsche Telekom's Musicload, one of the largest online music stores in Europe, is saying that 75% of all calls to their support line are due to DRM issues. This is costing them a lot of money, because the costs are entirely borne by the retailer, not the record company.

In addition they point out that non-DRM music sells better than DRM music:

Championing the "Comeback of MP3," Musicload said that artists choosing to drop DRM saw a 40 percent increase in sales since December, and that more artists and labels are showing interest.

Here's what rubs me: because of the way that piracy is counted as a "lost sale", the math goes all wrong. Even if you sell more without DRM, and end up with more money, the fear of increased "lost sales" is going to prevent the move to non-DRM music. And the fact is that most "lost sales" are completely made up. Of course, the numbers are made really big so that it looks like piracy is an important issue, but at the same time it causes this "lost sale" -fear, simly because the numbers are just so big. So everyone is trapped in the same mess.

(Via BoingBoing.)

Sunday, 18-Mar-07 23:09
Siinähän se

Paremminkin olisi voinut mennä, mutta pääasia, että Jyrki Kasvi pääsee jatkamaan eduskunnassa. Positiivista havaita, että viime kerran äänikuningatar, Tanja "Lex Karpela" Saarela, menetti melkoisen määrän äänisaaliistaan (2003:19169, 2007:5757). Lieneekö ollut osasyy Keskustan vaalitappioon?

Saturday, 17-Mar-07 14:03
Shutdown day coming up

Next Saturday is Shutdown Day - the day when everyone should try to keep their computers closed.

It is obvious that people would find life extremely difficult without computers, maybe even impossible. If they disappeared for just one day, would we be able to cope?

Be a part of one of the biggest global experiments ever to take place on the internet. The idea behind the experiment is to find out how many people can go without a computer for one whole day, and what will happen if we all participate!

Shutdown your computer on this day and find out! Can you survive for 24 hours without your computer?

(Via #joiito)

Friday, 16-Mar-07 00:02
Random Youtube videos
Thursday, 15-Mar-07 16:58
Universe is a string-net liquid?

The physicist/sci-fi buff in me purrs to read stuff like this:

From this, the researchers made another leap. Could the entire universe be modelled in a similar way? "Suddenly we realised, maybe the vacuum of our whole universe is a string-net liquid," says Wen. "It would provide a unified explanation of how both light and matter arise." So in their theory elementary particles are not the fundamental building blocks of matter. Instead, they emerge from the deeper structure of the non-empty vacuum of space-time.

There's even a hunt for an exotic matter green crystal in South America! And people say that physics is boring... ;-)

Thursday, 15-Mar-07 16:50
Wiki stuff for a change

Stephen Johnston is in Business Week, talking about wikis in Nokia. Woo-hoo!

Yup, they're awesome tools. I simply could not do my daily work without them anymore. They cuts down on your email overload (mostly because it becomes easier to choose what you want to ignore), and they're far more up to date than anything else. It's almost like having everyone from a project team in a single room with a giant noticeboard in the middle.

This sharing thing, so integral to Web 2.0, is really catching on. On the internet, you would think it's a lot about pushing your own ego to the front, but really, in this mass of voices individuality is lost. Sharing means "not keeping things to yourself". Sharing means making yourself less important, and helping the community keep going even without you. A wiki can be edited by anyone, so nobody really "owns" the content anymore.

I am actually glad about this, since it is showing that people might be becoming less self-centric. Realizing that aiming for common good is a better survival strategy is probably an important milestone in any civilization. It seems that there's a chunk of population more willing to give of themselves and share the experiences. Maybe that is also at the core of the "copyright reform movement" and why it is happening now.

(I'm also mighty tired, so excuse me if this is a bit disassociated and incoherent.)

Wednesday, 14-Mar-07 20:48
Bluetooth goes NFC

Heh. This video is demonstrating the all-new Bluetooth 2.1 specification. Well, since the new things in the 2.1 spec are not very "wow" (5x better battery life in some configurations and better security don't exactly make for a wonderful display), they opted to show off Near Field Communications as a major new feature of the Bluetooth 2.1 spec. The idea is that you can just touch two devices together, and they will locate each other and can perform e.g. printing or image transfer automatically, without the user having to worry about any setup. The act of touching the other device declares the intent, and the phone just picks it up from there.

Well, NFC really is not a part of the Bluetooth 2.1, so the video is a bit misleading. But the specification does enable something called out-of-band configuration (or "simple pairing"), where NFC is one of the possible methods. I also happen to think it's the simplest and easiest, but then again, I am somewhat biased.

Anyway. The "wow" effect is certainly there for those who have had problems or delays with setting up Bluetooth devices. It's just nice to see other people than the NFC folks promoting this stuff. It's certainly a big milestone for any technology! ;-)

(WIMA tv also has some interviews on NFC, but you need to be actually interested in NFC to watch them. It's not that they're boring - they're just... marketing videos. I'll certainly try to get to WIMA this year to participate in the NFC Developers Summit and see the results of the 1st ever NFC developer's competition. And because it's in Monaco.)

(Disclaimer: I work for Nokia, and I also work on NFC-related issues.)

Tuesday, 13-Mar-07 19:42
Viacom sues Google, Digital TV in Europe to gain content control

The copyright lobby is at it again: Viacom sues Google for 1 billion USD (which is less than what Google paid for Youtube). Can you spell "negotiation tactic"? Of course, Google knew this was going to happen when they bought Youtube, so my guess is that they were expecting this and are prepared. (Via Slashdot, and in about two hours, everywhere else.)

In a bit more worrying news, the new DVB-standard looks like it's going to obsolete existing digital TV in Europe - and for what? So that the content owner could say what can be recorded and what cannot. Let me put it this way: trying to sell Finns another set of digiboxes so that they could do less with them than previously is probably only a good tactic if you're trying to incite a revolt.

Monday, 12-Mar-07 10:14
Parhaat verkkosivut-saaga jatkuu

Mjaha, jotakuta taisi sattua aiempi kritiikkini. Sain hetki sitten sähköpostia:

Kenelle: Janne Jalkanen
 
Ehdotan  blogisi otsikon muuttamista tai poistamista siten kuin se löytyy 
googlesta seuraavasti:
 
ButtUgly: Main_blogentry_010307_3
Suomen parhaat verkkosivut my ass. Sain hetki sitten sähköpostin, ... 
Kutsunkin yrityksesi www-sivuston mukaan Suomen Parhaat Verkkosivut-kilpailuun, ...
www.ecyrd.com/ButtUgly/wiki/Main_blogentry_010307_3 - 22k - Välimuistissa - 
Samankaltaisia sivuja
 
 
Kun menet sivulle: www.alansaykkoset.net ( pääsee myös www.alansaykkoset.fi ) 
ja luet koko jutun huomaat, että Suomen parhaat verkkosivut-kilpailu on täysin 
todellinen ja mainostetaan myös kymmenissä printtimedioissa.
 
Kaikki epäilyt k.o blogissa perustuvat täysin olettamuksiin. Valitettavasti 
me emme  pystyneet toimimaan siten että tälläinen käsitys olisi täysin ehkäisty.
 
Jos asiassa on jotain kysyttävää, voitte kääntyä minun puoleeni.

Kiitos ei, ei ole mitään kysyttävää.

Kilpailu on varmasti todellinen (olemattoman kilpailun mainostaminenhan olisi huijaamista), mutta itsekin verkkosivukilpailun täysin tyhjästä polkaisseena tiedän tasan tarkkaan miten helppoa sellaisen järjestäminen on.

(Ja mitä ihmeen olettamuksia? Sekö, että osallistuminen maksaa rahaa? Tai että kilpailussa etsitään "Suomen parhaimpia verkkosivuja"? Onko jompikumpi, sivuilta suoraan poimittu, tosiasia kenties jotenkin virheellinen?)

Sunday, 11-Mar-07 18:49
Scent of a blogger

This is not a joke, apparently: Calvin Klein is launching a new scent for bloggers, myspaceweirdos, wikimaniacs, instant messengers, etc. New York Times writes:

“We have envisioned this as the first fragrance for the technosexual generation,” said Mr. Murry, using a term the company made up to describe its intended audience of thumb-texting young people whose romantic lives are defined in part by the casual hookup.

Last year, the company went so far as to trademark “technosexual,” anticipating it could become a buzzword for marketing to millennials, the roughly 80 million Americans born from 1982 to 1995. A typical line from the press materials for CK in2u goes like this: “She likes how he blogs, her texts turn him on. It’s intense. For right now.”

Which may turn off its intended audience by the tens of thousands.

"Her texts turn him on?" Yeah, wankers are always a good target audience for a new perfume. Gotta cover that smell somehow...

(Via Valleyvag.)

Friday, 09-Mar-07 16:48
Noise and stress

Yesterday evening, a bunch of us went to the Maison Hantee - the Haunted Hause. What a mistake that was: the food in there is alone to turn people undead. But that I can take (I've had Aussie meat pies). But after four days of non-stop meetings, jet lag and stress, the last place you want to go to is a place which will try to add to your stress via loud noises, jarring music and actors who try to harass people while you eat. It's impossible to chat casually, and I had to spend half of the time with my fingers in my ears. I ended up leaving in the middle of the main course...

Gah. Avoid this place.

Thursday, 08-Mar-07 05:38
'havin' fyn

I'm a bit of a chameleon. After a while, the way I speak starts to mirror the person I talk to. This is something inherited: We used to joke that you can tell where my dad was calling, simply by listening his accent change.

Anyway. You can imagine what my English sounds now, being in a French Canadian area, listening to French people speaking English for hours and hours on end... Even my thoughts have a strange accent now.

Other than that, I'm not seeing much Montreal. It's early up, email, meetings, meetings, meetings, lunch, meetings, meetings, meetings, quick shower... It's all very busy and sometimes I wonder to what end? The trap of being a technical expert is realizing that you can influence things you care about. It's all so easy if you can't or don't want to. It's when opportunity coincides with desire, you slip deep into the flow where work consumes all. And for those, who have never been able to do so previously, it is difficult to get out.

Dancing on the edge of the burnout; running in the dark barely missing the trees; rolling the cylinder for one more time. It's all the same.

Sunday, 04-Mar-07 04:16
Montreal

So, after a few measly hours of uneventful flight - uneventful in this case meaning having the row behind you full of drunken Finns going to a holiday in Spain to celebrate the 40th birthday of one of them - I arrived in Montreal, Canada.

It's a strange feeling to be walking in a city, seeing things for the first time, yet realizing that this is also likely the last time. I won't probably ever return to this city again, or even if I do, I am unlikely to travel the same paths. So in a way it's all unique; the city just scrolls by as you walk and winks out of existence once it passes you.

Thursday, 01-Mar-07 13:27
Suomen parhaat verkkosivut my ass.

Sain hetki sitten sähköpostin, joka alkaa:

Kuulun komiteaan joka järjestää ensimmäiset laatuaan olevat www-sivujen ”SM-kilpailut.” Tutustuimme yrityksesi kotisivuihin, ja ne olivat persoonalliset, visuaalisesti kauniit ja hyvin tehdyt, eli osallistuja-ainesta. Kutsunkin yrityksesi www-sivuston mukaan Suomen Parhaat Verkkosivut-kilpailuun, toivottavasti otat kutsun vastaan.

No. Minullahan ei ole ensinnäkään yritystä. Toisekseen, kaikki verkkosivuni ovat kaikkea muuta kuin kauniita (tämän blogin nimi ei ole harhaanjohtava). Kolmanneksikin, tähän kilpailuun osallistumisesta pitäisi maksaa 60 euroa (120 euroa myöhemmin), ja sillä saa "medianäkyvyyttä verkkosivuilla." (WTF?) Puhumattakaan siitä, että kaikki muu tieto sivuille "tulee 31.3 mennessä", mutta ennakkoilmoittautua (ja oletettavasti maksaa) voi jo nyt.

Tämä kuulostaa hyvin epäilyttävältä. Laitoin jo meiliä Kuluttaja-asiamiehelle.

Päivitys: jatkoa täällä.

Thursday, 01-Mar-07 10:58
Masinoi vaalimainos

Mikko Rauhala haluaa julkaista NYT-liitteessä kokosivun mainoksen, jossa luetellaan tekijänoikeuslain puolesta äänestäneet ja sitä vastustaneet. Rahaa puuttuu tällä hetkellä enää 2407€, joten luulisi sillä saavan puolen sivun mainoksen jo ainakin aikaiseksi. Ja varmaan ei-ehdolla olevatkin voisi tipauttaa listasta pois.

Noin periaatteessa minua kuitenkin pännii mainoksen tekstiksi suunniteltu "he haluavat lähettää lapsesi kahdeksi vuodeksi vankilaan". Tekijänoikeudet ovat kuitenkin oikeasti melko monimutkainen juttu, ja tämänkaltainen yksinkertaistaminen voi aiheuttaa enemmän huonoa kuin hyvää.

No, osallistuin kuitenkin parilla kympillä. Saahan siitä vähän toimitettumedianäkyvyyttä - internetnäkyvyyttähän tekijänoikeuspupalla on jo. (Tuijalle: eikös asia ole niin, että jos haluaa saada asiansa kattavasti kuulumaan alueella, jossa sitä ei käsitellä tarpeeksi, niin kannattaa käyttää kaikkia keinoja? Ei tässä maata olla myymässä ;-)

Päivitys: Hesarin mielestä mainos on "hyvän maun vastainen". Sanoisin jotain nasevaa, mutta naurattaa liikaa.

Thursday, 01-Mar-07 10:34
Experimenting with leftovers

I call this 'White sausage number 1'
A lot of people have been asking me why I don't do any scientific experiments anymore? Well, frankly, it's something that I did when I was single and really bored and needed to impress girls. (Basing it all on a half-baked theory that if a girl laughs at those, she and I might actually have something in common. Surprisingly, it works. Just don't overdo it.)

However, yesterday I found a half-eaten packet of "HK Sininen" sausage, and the leftovers of a particularly good piece of Brie I bought from France. My natural curiosity got over me, and I decided to make myself a "sandwich".

It was surprisingly good, though even this morning my palate still had a thick, greasy coating that does not go away no matter how much tea I drink. Maybe I should use a scraper?

Monday, 26-Feb-07 15:02
Announcement

The Personal Office Entity of Janne Jalkanen
Internal Announcement, 30.1.2007.

Announcements in the Personal Office Entity of Janne Jalkanen

The Personal Office Entity of Janne Jalkanen is responsible for maintaining Janne’s work efficiency, and sanity, as well as providing high-quality meeting and negotiation facilities for up to two persons. The Entity is also the Chief Responsible for managing and housing Janne’s Personal Development Plans (PDP), as well as is the central repository of Multiple Important Documents. Janne’s Personal Office Entity is currently located in Helsinki.

To increase the efficiency of the Personal Office Entity of Janne Jalkanen, the Personal Office Management has decided to make the following nominations:

The Table, previously responsible for housing Multiple Important Documents as well as The Computer, has been appointed as the Chief Executive for Piling Things On Top Of Other Things. This allows it to concentrate on its core competencies of piling things on top of other things, and leverage its multi-year experience as a permanent office fixture.

The Computer is nominated the Head of the Computing Division, consisting of a Senior Laptop and a number of cell phones. The Computer is joining us from IT support, where he was previously functioning as a Senior Thing In A Box.

The Coffee Mug is nominated as a Director of Entertainment Functions. He is the successor of the Teletubby Doll, who will be leaving the company to pursue new challenges in the demanding task of participating in the construction of the new E4 motorway as Senior Landfill.

The Filing Cabinet shall take the challenge of housing Multiple Important Documents from the Table, and also continue in its existing role of serving as a General Place To Dump Things. The Filing Cabinet reports to the Table.

The role of the personal masseuse of Janne Jalkanen is still open, and can be applied for in the Internal Job Market.

The Table, the Computer and the Coffee Mug all report to Janne Jalkanen.

All appointments are effective as of February 1st, 2007.

Please join me in welcoming the Table, the Computer, and the Coffee Mug in their new, challenging tasks in the Personal Office Entity of Janne Jalkanen.

Janne Jalkanen
VP
Personal Office Entity of Janne Jalkanen

Shamelessly stolen from a megacorporation who shall remain nameless. Oh, it's always so much fun to watch a reorg.

Sunday, 25-Feb-07 13:55
Drastic software piracy

The author of the Mac program "Display Eater" got tired of piracy, and said that he coded the program such that if it detects a pirated version of itself, it'll destroy files from your home directory. It was all a hoax to scare people into buying the real version.

This turned out to be a major mistake and a PR catastrophy. As the developer explains in this statement on his home page:

People started buying multiple keys, which I never intended, and when the protection was in place, people who did not even know they had committed piracy or what piracy was were left in the dark. Legitimate and prospective users started fearing the program, which I never imagined.

A reporter called me today, and suggested that I make it free, and or open source. I plan to do both. Once the code is cleaned up, a GPL'ed version will be released.

It is never a good idea to treat your customers as criminals (unless, of course, you are involved in arms smuggling or some other illegal activity - then your customers actually are criminals). This is no different than the whole Sony rootkit debacle a few months back - a huge PR disaster.

Piracy isn't just going to go away by fighting fire with fire. I'm not even sure whether fighting piracy is worth it - I'm almost certain that the only way to end piracy is to put more money in it than is possibly lost by piracy in the first place, and therefore it makes no economical sense. There's surely a sweet spot somewhere, and this sweet spot is different in different industries, but I think that after this sweet spot you gotta think of piracy like a progressive tax. It's just a price you have to pay for being popular.

Friday, 23-Feb-07 00:42
S60 client for FON

Straight off the FON blog: There's now a FON client for your S60 3rd edition smart phone. It also does other hotspots than FON, so it's useful as a general application. You can leave it in the background and it'll connect to the nearest hotspot for you.

Works well for me at least on an E70 - YMMV.

Wednesday, 21-Feb-07 15:51
Everybody loves the iPhone to the death

Everybody seems very buzzed about the Apple iPhone. The fun thing is that nobody seems to have actually tried it out, yet people are already claiming that it's going to kill Nokia and Samsung and all the other phone manufacturers, much like OSX has killed Windows.

I certainly want to get my clammy hands on an iPhone as much as the next guy, but the following article got me chuckling. Since when did an unavailable product which has just been launched and nobody has tried become a benchmark for the smartphone industry so fast, that even before the product is in the shops, the media is already talking about iPhone killers? I mean - it's sort of okay to wish Zune to be an iPod killer, because iPod is the market king, and everybody of course wants to be the next iPod. But to call something an "iPhone killer" shows how distanced from the reality the writer is. I know the media loves conflict, but building an artificial conflict between unavailable products is, well, vaporjournalism for the lack of better word.

But then again, that's Steve Jobs's Reality Distortion Field for ya ;-)

Sunday, 18-Feb-07 14:40
Pulse trailer

As far as movie trailers go, this is gotta be one of the best I've seen for a while. Don't forget to turn on the sound.

(Thanks to Outi.)

Friday, 16-Feb-07 11:16
Stop buying crap

Joel Johnson over at Gizmondo has good words of advice to all first adopters, electronics companies and the trade press:

Then you had the audacity to complain about broken phones, half-assed firmware that bricked your gear, and winner-takes-nothing arms races between the companies whose gear your bought and the hackers who had nothing better to do than try to fix it. Do you realize how ridiculous that is? Programmers with free time did more to help you get quality products than you ever did by buying the broken gear in the first place.

Stop buying this crap.

Friday, 16-Feb-07 09:22
Ja sitten...

...sitä heti Lahden jälkeen törmää hirveen.

Semmotti.

Thursday, 15-Feb-07 00:19
Tipahtipa postissa tieto äänestyspaikasta

...joten päätin vihdoin tunnustaa väriä ja vaihdoin Google-mainokset tuossa oikealla linkkiin Jyrki Kasvin vaalisivustoon. Kukaan ei tosin taida yllättyä tästä, sen verran olen tässäkin blogissa vaahdonnut samoista asioista.

Liityin myös Kasvin tukiryhmään; katsotaan vaikka jos ehtisi jopa tehdä jotain. Tällä hetkellä elämä tuntuu kerrassaan erinomaisen kiireiseltä. Työ tuntuu siltä kuin joku olisi lyönyt koneen kolmoselle kun on ensin jyrryytetty ykkösellä motaria myöten Lahteen, ja vuorokauden tunnit eivät millään tunnu riittävän kaikkiin mielenkiintoisiin asioihin.

(English summary: I'm voting for Jyrki Kasvi of the Green party in the upcoming parliament elections. In addition to English, he also maintains Klingon-language web pages, which is always a big bonus. Qapla'!)

Monday, 12-Feb-07 23:05
Thought I was immune, but...

...I was bitten by the Idols bug this weekend. As is always fashionable in my peer group, I spent more time dissing the contest than I spent secretly listening to it, but on Sunday, Johanna Hämäläinen just blew me away. This song and her voice still send chills down my spine, and makes my eyes moist in a very non-gruff way. I would've probably even voted for her, if I wasn't using a company phone...

This season of Finnish Idols seems very strong.

Monday, 12-Feb-07 20:23
Zlango!

Have to agree with Henri: Best press release ever!

But me think: maybe grammar overrated. Maybe we all talk this tomorrow. I feel my brain shrink already.

Thursday, 08-Feb-07 21:36
Digital ethnography video

Sorry for the bland title. But this video is pretty awesome. Not complicated. Simple. Effective. And it explains Web 2.0 really nicely.

Tuesday, 06-Feb-07 22:14
Steve Jobs on music

Steve Jobs, the CEO of Apple just posted a long article on the future of music to apple.com. The man should really have a blog...

Anyhoo, he makes a few interesting points:

  • If Apple's iTunes DRM is broken, they have to fix it in a small number of weeks or lose the entire music catalogue. A big risk, I would say.
  • Under 3% of the music on the average iPod, is purchased from the iTunes store and protected with a DRM. Therefore, Jobs argues, iTunes DRM does not cause lock-in to iPods. Yet.
  • If Apple were to license their DRM to other players, it would be impossible to issue fixes once DRM gets broken. A fair point - any DRM which is widely spread is no DRM after a while.
  • "The music companies sell the vast majority of their music DRM-free, and show no signs of changing this behavior, since the overwhelming majority of their revenues depend on selling CDs which must play in CD players that support no DRM system."
  • Apple would like to get rid of DRM: "Imagine a world where every online store sells DRM-free music encoded in open licensable formats. In such a world, any player can play music purchased from any store, and any store can sell music which is playable on all players. This is clearly the best alternative for consumers, and Apple would embrace it in a heartbeat."

All in all, a good article. It looks like Apple is the winner no matter what happens - if people keep insisting on DRM, then they will get the lock-in, and if DRM is abolished, Apple saves itself from loads of problems...

Tuesday, 06-Feb-07 21:57
The one thing you don't want is...

...a server several kilometres away crashing and burning at 3 am. So yeah, this day has mostly been used by ripping out the guts of an old machine and installing a new OS on a new computer. Well, used computer, donated by BaseN - thanks! On the other hand, it was good to work on something nice and concrete, and refresh my Linux skills again - on the other hand I could've really used the time better.

However, I have a LazyWeb request - I also got a second machine, with almost exact the same specifications. Now I'm pondering how I should distribute my services across these two computers. I am currently running

  • Apache 2, with several web sites and wikis (some of them could be distributed so that Apache is a front-end and just forwards requests, and some of them could possibly be moved to completely to their own servers. Eventually I will want to have fully clustered JSPWikis, but that's still a bit off.)
  • a CVS server
  • Mail server (all my mails and mailing lists are hosted on the same computer)
  • Backup server for my laptop and home computer
  • User home directories
  • DNS server

If any of my readers have any good suggestions how I should use this sudden doubling of computing power, I'd be glad to hear it!

Sunday, 04-Feb-07 23:12
On sitting through

I have a confession to make: I am one of those annoying people who like to sit through the end credits of movies. Annoying, because we sit while everyone else is moving; annoying, because other people in the company have to wait for us outside the movie theatre.

Then why do it? It's not like there's anything interesting during the end credits, is there?

Well... over the years I've heard (and used) different excuses for this. The most common one, I guess, is that people want to see if there's something extra during or after the end credits, and usually you can count on certain types of movies to have them. (Rowan Atkinson pops up at the end of "Mr Bean" and says "Yes, I normally stay to the end as well" - a nice nod to us weirdos, and the animated credits from almost any Pixar movie are definitely worth staying for). But I do it regardless of the movie, so that's not a good reason.

The other reason is that you can listen to the movie score at the end. True, but you can probably get it from the nearby record store or off the internet, if you really want to, and you can listen it as many times as you want.

Yesterday, we went to see Pan's Labyrinth, and during the end credits, I really realized why I want to stay through the credits: so that I wouldn't have to leave just yet. I really like movie theatres, and the kind of an immersion you can get in there. At home, there is always distraction - there are so many things in the room which can break the illusion: a car driving by, a phone call, mice scurrying, or maybe there is simply too much visual noise: the book shelf, the carpet, the table, a can of soda.

I'm a relative A/V luddite: my TV is pretty crappy by modern standards, and I don't own even a decent pair of stereos. But watching movies at home is just not... fun in the same way as in a movie theatre, so I have had no reason to upgrade. It works for the purpose of watching recorded TV shows, and that's pretty much it. (Now that I have a Wii, I may have to upgrade to get a better playing experience, though :)

But anyway: leaving right after the movie is over would be a too harsh blow, a jarring transition from the illusion to the real world. The end credits, and the music, and the near-empty theatre until the final blackness and the curtain give me a soft landing to whatever waits outside.

Oh, the movie? I really, really liked it. At first, I had trouble adjusting to it, but around half-way, at the Pale One, it lodged itself directly between my brain lobes and refused to let go. It's definitely a fantastic fantasy movie, and it works on so many levels - and somehow, I could directly relate to the little girl, Ophelia. Maybe because she would probably be one of those persons who stay until the end - the real end - of the movie as well.

Sunday, 28-Jan-07 22:14
Laita lapsi asialle...

...mene itse perässä, on vanha suomalainen sananlasku. Pidän kyllä Travianista pelinä, mutta suomenkielinen käännös aiheuttaa kyllä spontaania repeilyä. Mikki riepoo käännöstä tutulla tyylillään.

Tosin, "pari minuuttia päivässä" on kyllä hieman aliarvio. Olen nykyään erään Server 7:n top-20 -allianssin diplomaatti, ja Travianiin kuluu helposti parikin tuntia päivässä. Eräänä yönä piti herätä neljältä, että olisi saanut joukot oikeaan aikaan paikalle, ja allianssin foorumeilla kuluu yhtä kauan kuin itse pelissä.

Travian on outo peli, koska tietyssä vaiheessa se muuttuu melkeinpä sosiaaliseksi toiminnaksi Simcityn sijasta. Yksinkertaista, mutta ah, niin hauskaa!

Sunday, 28-Jan-07 22:09
Plagiarism in the age of the internet...

...is not smart. One of the Finnish Eurovision candidates apparently sounds just like some other song...

(Thanks to Jyri for the link.)

Sunday, 28-Jan-07 12:09
Tea drinkers unite!

Henri complains loudly and justly (and in Finnish) how difficult it is to be a tea drinker in Finland. I wholesomely agree - even Finnair, who otherwise is capable of serving perfectly decent wine, thinks that Lipton's Yellow Label is tea, where as in reality it is an abomination from the lowest pits of Hell.

I shall toast you, Henri, with my excellent cup of Genmaicha.

Thursday, 25-Jan-07 21:19
Wii and mice!

About a week ago, we got both four new mice, as well as a Nintendo Wii. Not entirely surprisingly, I've been playing with mice and Wii for the past week.

Wii is wonderful (as are the mice, mind you, and not saying this, I hear, would be, eh, unfortunate). Despite sore muscles in places I didn't know I had places, it's simply fun. Nintendo has hit a bullseye here: the console is small, cute, easy to set up, and it comes with Wii Sports, a mindblowingly simple game package which just feels so... right. The Miis are a brilliant idea as well - no more common high score lists: even if you're competing against your friends, the game remembers your own personal results, so it doesn't really feel like competing. (I'm one of those people who simply hate when a friend comes over and with ease knocks you off the top list in the game you've spent hours and hours of churning. Here's a secret: I'm not a very good gamer. Most of my friends are better than I am.)

But, something does bug me about the Wii. And, to be in sync with the rest of the content-creating world out there, I shot a video and put it on Youtube. It's pretty self-explanatory, so go and take a look. It's only a minute of your life, anyway.

Monday, 22-Jan-07 13:46
First Near Field Communication Competition!

The First European NFC Competition starts! If you are a developer or a designer or otherwise would like to make the world a generally nicer place to live in, check out the competition at http://www.nfc-competition.com (which, for some strange reason, is a redirect to a wordpress.com blog.)

The competition is looking for prototypes, proposals and ideas - so get your brains ticking! For a primer in NFC, check out the NFC Forum web site or the Touch blog. If you submit your pre-proposal by the 5th of February, and it's good enough, you'll receive an NFC development kit (the contents of which I don't know at the moment, I'm sorry) to help build your idea.

The goal of the competition is to promote the development of innovative and exemplary NFC services. Based on the paradigm of “the simplicity of a touch”, the focus of this challenge is on the innovation, commercial potential and usability of the services as well as the quality of the design and implementation using NFC technology. Interacting with services, people and object using mobile device, this event is looking for innovation and creativity.

(Disclaimer: I am a member of the competition committee, and work for a sponsor company. So the more eagerly you participate, the more likely I am to get paid in the future...)

Sunday, 21-Jan-07 02:53
Video of 6131NFC

It bugs the hell out of me I forgot to grab a video of the 6131 NFC in action and post it to Youtube, because the demos we were showing at CES were pretty nifty. But luckily someone was smarter than me :-)

Video ain't best quality, but it's good enough to get the idea. It's missing the "starting a movie clip directly from a poster" -demo, unfortunately.

(Via Touch.)

Friday, 19-Jan-07 11:32
Den glider in!

There is something very satisfying in this video, in which we see how drivers in Portland, Oregon deal with snow and ice, which, when combined with regular tyres, create almost frictionless conditions.

(Via BB.)

Wednesday, 17-Jan-07 00:50
Fun with spam

Here's something fun which is happening right now: Someone went and uploaded a bunch of porn HTML attachments to jspwiki.org. We, of course, removed them (and blocked HTML attachments right away), but in the mean time, Google had managed to index those.

Now, Google search is driving about 5 hits/second to JSPWiki.org from people who are looking for "shemale bras", "grandma porn", "porn with cheerleaders in it", "asian anal sluts", "naked latinas in bikinis", "girls ejaculating", "interracial gay sex", "teen strippers", and "SEX GIRLS", among other fun and uplifting things.

So, I guess this is one way to get high traffic - just let a spammer upload something to a high-profile website, delete the files right after Google has indexed it, and just wait for the starved, lustful people to pour in. Of course, that would impact the Google ranking in the long term, so I wouldn't exactly recommend it ;-)

The evil person in me is having so much fun with this, that it almost scares me. There is something very satisfying watching logs roll by of people, keywords, IP addresses (not that I would reveal them - that I would consider if not illegal, but it would be at least rather suspicious), and the resulting "404 - not found here" -responses. Ha!

My traffic has literally gone up by a factor of ten. I guess this is one way to stresstest your applications ;-)

Tuesday, 16-Jan-07 15:03
Onko lainaaminen laitonta?

Niinpä. Tästähän on keskusteltu jo pitkään, ja viimeksi aamun Helsingin Sanomissa (€) Jussi Ahlroth kertoo, miten uusi tekijänoikeuslaki ei ole vaikuttanut lainkaan villinä rehoittavaan nettikopiointiin.

Uuden naulan arkkuun lyö päivän Ars Technica-artikkeli, jonka mukaan todellinen syy käyttörajoitteiden (DRM) käytölle on se, että niillä halutaan poistaa ns. fair use-oikeudet, kuten esimerkiksi kaverille lainaaminen, tai niinkin vaarallinen toiminta kuin yhdessä katselu/kuuntelu. Tämä ajattelutapa on toki nähtävissä myös Suomen uusitussa tekijänoikeuslaissa, ns. Lex Karpelassa. Voitaneen kysyä, moniko artisti oikeasti haluaa pystyä määräämään, että hänen teoksestaan saa nauttia vain täydenkuun aikaan yksin, ja kuinka paljon näistä käyttörajoite-ideoista on peräisin levittäjiltä, jotka korporaatioina haluavat toki myydä sen sinulle moneen kertaan. Yritys kun ei käperry tyttöystävän kanssa sohvan nurkkaan katselemaan elokuvaa, vaan on tunnetusti psykopaatti.

He [Valenti], and many in the industry, believed that it was fundamentally wrong to allow the public to make decisions for themselves about how to use a VCR. They even expressed worry that multiple people could watch the same movie on a VCR, but not all of them would have to pay. The idea of Joe User buying a movie for a fixed price and then inviting friends over to see it was anathema to the industry.

...

I can walk in to Best Buy right now, buy a DVD, and lend it to every person I know. Who hasn't lent a DVD to a friend or colleague? This is perfectly legal behavior, but you can see that Hollywood hopes to stop this kind of thing via DRM. Thanks to the DMCA, once copyrighted contents have been encrypted, your rights fly right out the window.

Päivän Digitoday uutisoi, että CD kuolee pois 20 vuoden sisään formaattina. Valitettavasti se tarkoittaa sitä, että silloin käteen jäävät vain formaatit, joissa käyttörajoitteet on otettu huomioon alusta alkaen, ja "lainaaminen kaverille" alkaa olla tyystin luvanvaraista touhua.

Kannattaa muuten lukea Ovi-lehden ensimmäinen numero, jossa Jone Nikula kommentoi varsin selväpäisesti levy- ja elokuvateollisuuden suhdetta nettikopiointiin. Muuten ok lehti, mutta arvostelut ovat ala-arvoisen mitäänsanomattomia ja artikkeleihin ei voi viitata, kun edes sisällysluetteloa ei löydy verkosta.

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Sunday, 14-Jan-07 19:00
Baggage lost, again...

Well, I got rerouted via Manchester, and finally to Helsinki, and after sauna I feel almost like a human being again. Would you guess, my bags are gone again, and nobody seems to have no idea where they are? Apparently SAS forgot to forward them to the British Midland flight from Chicago - or if they did, they told nobody. SAS also downgraded me to Economy on a whim, but BMI bumped me back to Premium Economy after I whined enough. Whoo, legspace.

To top it all off, SAS also forgot to issue me a ticket for the Manchester-Helsinki flight (I thought it was an e-ticket, but it was not). However, thanks to some really, really nice BA personnel at the Manchester airport who spent about half an hour to help me (and annoy anyone behind me in the queue) things got figured out, and I even managed to grab a proper British breakfast before boarding.

Overall, SAS lost a lot of points in my eyes over this episode, while BA and BMI went up a notch. I'll certainly rather support them in the future...

Okay, enough whining. I'll get to back a bit more serious later on. Just wanted to share this...

Sunday, 14-Jan-07 01:07
Go to jail, go directly to jail

This shows well how kiddie porn hysteria can go over the top.

A 40-year-old substitute teacher faces up to 40 years in prison after being convicted of exposing children to pornography on a computer at the Connecticut middle school where she taught.

I suppose it's remotely possible the charges are valid. But the story doesn't add up. It seems far more plausible from the accounts I'm reading that this woman, who had no prior criminal record and a clean teaching history, was using an insecure edition of Internet Explorer and was hit with an adware infestation she didn't know how to deal with.

Imagine, if someone wrote malware targeting specific people, and used that to unleash kiddie porn onto their computers. Say, a political opponent, or just someone they did not like. In a child-porn hysteric environment, that could easily become something close to witch-burning mobs of the 1500's...

Saturday, 13-Jan-07 19:27
Someone shoot the security people

OK. So my flight was two hours late leaving Las Vegas. Since I had a two-hour stopover at Chicago O'Hare, I figured that I'm going to miss my connection to Copenhagen. However, at the arrivals desk they told us to hurry to the gate, since the plane was waiting for us. We ran, and ran, and ran some more (maybe about 30 people in total, all returning from the CES), only to be stopped by a TSA security idiot, who took a look at our tickets, and flatly told us that he can't let us through, because the departure time had already passed. He did not have a phone, and was not allowed to leave his post either. No amount of reasoning would deter his resolve, so we had to go back and find someone to help us out. Except that all the positions were closed (aside the transfer desks beyond the security checkpoints), and the SAS desk would not open until 13:00 the next day. Meanwhile, the SAS flight got bored of waiting for us, and left.

Finally we found someone at the baggage handling area, and she gave us a number. After a few phone calls, I got through to the SAS 24 hour number, which was of course not answering until 9 am. Disgusted, I called my travel agent, managed to get onto a waiting list for another flight today, and booked a hotel. By 1 am, I finally got to rest a bit.

At the moment I am in an airport hotel, waiting for a shuttle to get back to the airport, where I would expect more delays, trouble and general mayhem. A storm front is moving in, and if I don't get to an airplane soon, my departure will probably be delayed again, as Chicago is going to get lots of snow.

Note to self: Add O'Hare to my list of airports to never, ever, travel via again.

Saturday, 13-Jan-07 19:16
Ecstaticness

I'm an old Star Trek fan. I used to be the secretary for the biggest Scifi-club in Finland. So as I walked on the bridge of the Enterprise-D at the Star Trek Experience in Hilton, Las Vegas, I nearly pissed my pants. To top it all off, I sat down and had a Romulan Ale and a "Hamborger" (which wasn't too bad) at a faithful replica of Quark's bar of Deep Space Nine.

Then I ran to see "Hypnosis gone Wild", a hilarious hypnosis show at a small theatre near the Aladdin. After you've seen a grown man help a teddy bear to masturbate, you just don't think of him the same way ever again.

Happy and relaxed, I was ready to fly back home the next day, but more on that in the next post...

Tuesday, 09-Jan-07 17:14
Early morning woes

Woke up with a terrible headache at 4 am. Yes, I had one beer. But just one. We were warned in advance that Las Vegas has a tendency to make people think they can drink all night, gamble all their money, sleep 15 minutes per night (or even pick up smoking), and still be fresh and excited at the booth at 8 am.

Well, I am excited, due to the new Nokia 6131NFC. This is the first integrated NFC solution, and it's a nifty phone, too. The Nokia booth is very busy - at least it was on the both times I was there. At the NFC Forum booth in the Sands Center (where I am, come and say hi!) things are more quiet, but that's to be expected: everyone goes to see the big shows first, and when the Adult Entertainment Expo starts in the Sands tomorrow, things should get busy with people who want to see two expos with the same trouble.

Speaking of travels, the traffic is simply murder here. At least with 150,000 geeks trying to get around...

By the way, now I know what people with too much money do: they come to Las Vegas. The amount of consumption that this city was designed to handle is simply awesome.

Monday, 08-Jan-07 02:32
Technology wonderland

I would be Flickring lots of pictures, but unfortunately neither Cingular nor Cingular (yes, there are two networks by the exact same name - how smart is that?) let me upload anything. Could be that ten thousand geeks in a single place is overheating their GPRS network; could be some strange roaming thing.

Also, Wifi only works very intermittently, and when it does, it's slow.

I'm not very impressed. Las Vegas is optimized for spending money, not communication.

(Nearly lost my laptop in Seattle: the security guy ran the line so fast that all the boxes collided and my laptop flew. In an amazing and unlikely feat of dexterity, I managed to grab it by the corner just a few inches above the ground. Then I went in, congratulating myself on the great save, only to find out that I had to go back out because there was no transfer desk. That was fun.)

Saturday, 06-Jan-07 14:27
Travel notes

I had enough electronics in my bag to cause some serious eyebrow-lifting at airport security. I guess I finally crossed some limit of geekiness :-).

On the way out, I saw to my delight that a security guard was being patted down by other security guards. Good to see that the same rules apply to them as well - that at least keeps them in touch with the reality all the travelers have to face.

Friday, 05-Jan-07 14:39
A New Finnish Indie Record Company Promises Good Things

Interesting. "Dreams Unlimited" is a new record company which says that they are concentrated on helping artists, letting them keep all the rights to their music, and provide practical help in distribution deals, marketing and production. I certainly see more companies like this appearing in the near future. Most of them will probably die, but some of them will surely establish themselves in the marketplace.

They have no web pages yet, but more information can be found through email dumusiikki@gmail.com.

DUM:n suurin valtti on sen perinteisestä poikkeava toimintatapa. DUM on ennemminkin useista ug-skenen vaikuttajista koostuva keskittymä, joka tarjoaa bändeille tietotaitoaan, suhteitaan ja neuvottelukykyään. Muusikkokeskeisyys on Dreams Untouchedin perusarvo. Tämä tarkoittaa, että artisti saa pitää materiaaliinsa kaikki oikeudet, eikä yhtiö puutu mitenkään musiikin sisältöön. DUMin tärkein tehtävä on auttaa artistia käytännön asioissa, kuten jakelusopimusten solmimisessa, promootiokanpanjan suunnittelussa ja toteuttamisessa, markkinoinnin hallinnoimisessa sekä tarvittaessa myös tarjota tuotantoapua.

(Via mikseri.net.)

Thursday, 04-Jan-07 19:22
Next week, CES

I'll be attending CES in Las Vegas next week. I'll try to blog my impressions as much as I can, as it's my first time in such a big trade show. I have been to SigGRAPH, but that's mostly a scientific event, and the trade show is an add-on. If any of my readers people are around, drop me a note and let's have a beer at some point :)

In other news, I've just spent grueling four hours fighting with my phone - flashing and reflashing and reinstalling everything. In the process I even noticed that my Kingston SD card refused to accept any files larger than 256 kB, which, of course, made installing practically anything fail. And, of course, Windows refuses to co-operate as well, insisting on reinstalling drivers every single time I connect my phone. Sometimes I wonder if I should just move to some warm country where computers are just things that happen to other people.

Wednesday, 03-Jan-07 10:11
Paramilitaries

This is rather scary. Read Chris Hedge's America's Holy Warriors, an article about US paramilitary religious troops:

Erik Prince, the secretive, mega-millionaire, right-wing Christian founder of Blackwater, the private security firm that has built a formidable mercenary force in Iraq, champions his company as a patriotic extension of the U.S. military. His employees, in an act as cynical as it is deceitful, take an oath of loyalty to the Constitution. These mercenary units in Iraq, including Blackwater, contain some 20,000 fighters. They unleash indiscriminate and wanton violence against unarmed Iraqis, have no accountability and are beyond the reach of legitimate authority. The appearance of these paramilitary fighters, heavily armed and wearing their trademark black uniforms, patrolling the streets of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, gave us a grim taste of the future.

(Via Boingboing.)

Monday, 01-Jan-07 11:15
New island born, caught in a blog post

Some sailors saw a new island being born, and posted about it to their blog. Another blog first :-). But the pictures are amazing - have you ever seen floating sand dunes of rock?

But... Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn?

(Via Slashdot.)

Tuesday, 26-Dec-06 11:07
Gee, what fun
“Two years from now, spam will be solved"

-- Bill Gates, 2004

It seems that spammers have quintupled (or more) their efforts over Christmas - this blog is getting overflown with spam, and it seemed to start three-four days ago. Sorry about that if you're following the full changes stream.

Maybe they're assuming that people don't check their blogs over the holidays, so they get a bit more exposure before it goes away. Whatever is happening, the spam volume is increasing fast - the spam filter over at jspwiki.org is catching over 200 spam edits/day! It's a far cry from being a solved situation.

Sunday, 24-Dec-06 10:04
Allofmp3 sued for $1.65 trillion

Oh, the poor artists must be starving, because apparently ~AllofMP3 has caused 1.65 trillion (US) dollars worth of damage. To put things into perspective, this is about twice the size of the entire Russian GDP. Even according to RIAA's own estimate (which is known to be inflated), this is about 500 times the size of the entire worldwide piracy losses. It is not about recouping losses. It's about completely and utterly crushing your enemy so that you can keep your monopoly.

I know most artists are not greedy bastards, but frankly, the hate I feel when I see these kind of overblown figures flows over to them as well. There's just too much of it.

Yeah. Merry Christmas. Fuckers.

Saturday, 16-Dec-06 13:38
Is it dead?

Outi says this handkerchief is dead. I'm inclined to agree.

I like linen handkerchiefs, which tends to gross some people out. For them, human bodily fluids are things which you don't wrap up and put in your pocket after they've left the body. I, on the other hand, personally like the fact that linen handkerchiefs are washable and reusable. And they don't irritate the skin.

Of course, even reusable things exceed their maximum lifespan at some point. Here's one such case.

Thursday, 14-Dec-06 14:28
Clay Shirky on Second Life

From the Valleyvag comes a very level-headed article by Clay Shirky:

There's nothing wrong with a service that appeals to tens of thousands of people, but in a billion-person internet, that population is also a rounding error. If most of the people who try Second Life bail (and they do), we should adopt a considerably more skeptical attitude about proclamations that the oft-delayed Virtual Worlds revolution has now arrived.

My problem with virtual worlds is that the navigation sucks. Normally I have two hands, legs, and a myriad of cells to interact with the world. Online, I am already severely constrained by the fact that I have 100 keys, a display with a small field-of-view, and crappy resolution, and stereographic sound. In a virtual world, I get to use only WASD and the mouse.

Why simulate the real world when you need to constrain yourself when interacting with it? The world is about interaction, not ogling at beautiful graphics. Someone in the comments of the previous article said well:

Why do people build stairs and delicate escalators, if they can fly?

Why do they spend money (real or virtual) buying chairs if they cannot get tired?

Why do they replicate their rather low quality RL architectural, physical environment _exactly_ in SL when they have the tools to create _anything_ they want?

Wednesday, 13-Dec-06 17:43
Scandal at Le Web 3?

Ewan is not happy. Not happy at all.

Tuesday, 12-Dec-06 22:10
Pieni välivirnistys

Tiedät bloganneesi kauan kun samat meemit alkavat kiertää. Tästä ja parista muusta päätellen kiertoaika on noin kolme vuotta. ;-)

Apropos, 15. päivä juhlitaan Esperanto-päivää. Eräs Esperanto-innokas ystäväni haluaa saada mahdollisimman monta esperantonkielistä blogipostausta, ja ilmoitti, että he haluaisivat kääntää suomalaisia blogimerkintöjä esperantoksi. Valitettavasti käännös pitää suorittaa englannin kautta, koska en tunne ketään suomalaista esperantistia. Mutta, jos haluat perjantaina julkaista merkintäsi esperantoksi, kirjoita se huomisiltaan (ke) mennessä englanniksi ja viskaa meilillä. Laitan ne eteenpäin ja palautan osallisille viimeistään perjantain aikana. Älkää kuitenkaan mitään romaaneja pyytäkö kääntämään...

Monday, 11-Dec-06 18:34
SOAP and developer appreciation

There were reasons why I never bothered to look at SOAP: I hate standards which I cannot absorb in a single afternoon. I think this is an important thing about pickup of technology: If a techie does not understand what a technology is about in one day, he probably won't bother to recommend it to his CTO. You see, he's the one who's going to have to work with it, so he will naturally pick the one he understands, and not the one with "industry support and tons of four-letter acronyms".

I think this is something which is generally overlooked at the new technology introduction phase: Things should be easy to pick up, and not just by the end users - developers are users, too! It's just that the user interface they use is different from the interface which is exposed to the end user. And the easier it is for developers to get the basics, the faster they can work, and more reliable the end result is going to be. And, I dare say, also more usable. If the developers can spend more time worrying about the so-called presentation layer (aka the "User Interface") and less time worrying about the back end (aka "The Geeky Bits"), it's better for overall usability.

There is also the fact that (unfortunately) most programs tend to bring some of the underlying metaphors to the UI, too. If the underlying system is complicated, some of that complexity will creep towards the top of the stack as well. "We'll put it in user preferences" is a far too often heard phrase, when a developer does not quite know what he is doing.

Pete Lacey wrote a wonderful little piece called "S stands for Simple", an unique peek into what the SOAP standard is all about. It's rather funny if you've ever tried to wrap your brain around the whole SOAP/WSDL/UDDI "trinity of doom".

(Thanks to the link someone on IRC; updating client lost the logs... Sorry for incoherence, my brain is still full of snot. I hate it when I sneeze abruptly and a big chunk of goo from your throat lands right in the middle of the monitor. Don't you?)

Sunday, 10-Dec-06 16:33
Blech

Got back this morning - but guess what: my luggage did not. I've completely lost my belief in American Airlines' ability to transport bags from one plane to another.

I am also down with a cold. I somehow managed to muddle through Friday (thanks heaps to Paul and Mac, eh, Mark and Sun Microsystems!) but now my brain is oozing through my nose and taken any conscious thought with it.

Bah. At least it's good to be home.

Friday, 08-Dec-06 19:07
JSPWiki users group meeting tonight in San Diego, CA, USA

We'll have a small gettogether tonight, so if you're interested and are in the area, please join! Time is 18:00 (or 6 pm, whichever way you prefer), we'll meet at the lobby of Hotel Solamar, 453 6th Avenue, and probably head on to the Blue Point Coastal Cuisine in the Gaslight District (565 5th Avenue, a couple of blocks away).

Wednesday, 06-Dec-06 21:24
Spam, spam, spam and spam

New York Times has a story about how spam is increasingly being a problem, even if Bill Gates said three years ago that "by the end of 2006, spam will be gone".

Personally I've always thought HTML email was a bad idea in the first place. In fact, I've tuned my spamassassin so that HTML email almost automatically gets flagged as suspicious... Text is fine for text. It was good for Shakespeare, it's good enough for me :-)

Tuesday, 05-Dec-06 17:35
FlOw

Flow is a Flash-game of Snake with a serious Zen attitude. A perfect way to spend the morning when you wake up really early and it's still dark outside...

(Via Collision Detection.)

Edit: Game apparently hacked; don't go there. Removed link.

Monday, 04-Dec-06 15:44
Musings on Travian

I’ve been playing Travian - an online, multiplayer game - for a while now. On the surface, it looks like a resource management game like Settlers of Catan, but once you play a bit more you realize that there is quite a lot going on beneath the surface. There are no bot players – everyone around you is a real person somewhere out there in the real world. And anyone can attack anyone else.

So, conflicts are inevitable, as are non-aggression treaties, alliances and wars. And bullying – stealing resources from other players because you can. You’re either bigger, or better armed, or you have strong friends, who will keep your village safe from retaliation.

I’ve noticed that it’s rather easy to slide into this bullying, just because it is easy to forget that the dots on the screen are controlled by a living being. I have a few “farms” to which I go regularly. Most of them are players who do not play anymore, so they’re just free resource banks, but some of them try to defend. And I go in and I wipe out all of their defenses and grab all their resources – because I am bigger, and I need them to protect myself against my own enemies: people who attack my village because they are bigger, and they need the resources to grow bigger so that nobody attacks them. I don’t know whether I should feel bad about this – Travian is a war game, after all, so you’re supposed to be fighting others. But on the other hand, it is unfair to just rob from the weak.

But the game has moved on to a different realm now. It is no longer single players fighting each other – there is a big, delicate balance of power between alliances, and they negotiate whom to destroy and whom to save. It’s stopped being personal and it’s now “just business”. Threats are eliminated, and attacks are revenged with as much overkill as possible to make sure they don’t try again. Friends are defended vehemently and enemies hated with passion. Near total anarchy.

It’s fascinating to look at the progression of the game. Most of these players are young and can barely speak English. Yet they can hold together large alliances, conduct complicated diplomatic negotiations and orchestrate deadly barrages of firepower to their enemy. You could draw lots of analogies to the real world here, but I am going to leave those to the game theoreticians.

Travian is a perfect example of how a game does not be overly complex to become engaging. It’s played on a regular web browser, and it’s free. If you like Civilization, and can handle the fact that you can’t save the game and restart once you get completely wiped out, you might like this game, too. The action is apparently now all on Server 7.

Sunday, 03-Dec-06 16:16
Perfect memory

Collision Detection has an awesome story about Gordon Bell, a Microsoft researcher who is recording every single bit of his life, after which other Microsoft researchers analyze it.

A lot of people I know already store all the email and SMS messages they get, since it's less trouble that deleting it. It's becoming seriously feasible to store everything you see or hear, as well. Maybe in a few years everyone has their own personal cameras, and we start seeing court orders to confiscate eyewitness camera recordings... Transparent society, anyone?

Sunday, 03-Dec-06 08:34
On the flight

Is the longest sunset in the world on the afternoon flight between Helsinki and New York? It starts when the plane rises above the ubiquitous cloud covers, and you can just see the red sphere about to disappear behind the western horizon. But once the plane starts heading for JFK, the time seems to nearly freeze, and it seems that it takes forever for the Sun to vanish. It just grows redder and redder and sinks deeper and deeper and colors the cloudtops to a nuclear volcano.

I listen to Finnish pop lyrics, and feel sad. Finnish pop lyrics has a tendency to do that. Not because they’re crap, but because us Finns have always expressed our melancholic view of life in our songs. We don’t sing about how great love is, but how great love was, and now it is gone. We sing about longing and loneliness, and how fleeting happiness is, if you happen to be so lucky to find it. We sing in flat rather than major.

The seat in front of me is broken, because it leans back way more than any other seat. And the guy in front of me is happy about it, and plans to spend the entire flight in as horizontal state as possible. If I bent forward, I could drool on his head. I can barely see the screen of the laptop due to the angle, and the position to type is rather awkward. Of course, I cannot ask him to sit upright, because that’s just something you don’t do in the Finnish culture, so I’ll just tolerate it. (If I was drunk, it would be okay to start a fight. But a small plastic bottle of Chilean white wine is not enough, I’m afraid.) The situation is absurd in a very Finnish way.

Yes, I’m traveling again. This time to sunny California and San Diego, to the NFC Forum standardization meeting. We’re planning a JSPWiki users meeting for Friday, so if you’re around, follow this space for more information.

Update. I arrived. My luggage did not. Wa-hey.

Friday, 01-Dec-06 09:05
Apple sale

Apple is having a one-day special sale today only. Head over to the Apple store (or the Finnish store) to get your Christmas presents!

101€ off the Macbook price or 21€ off iPod Nano is not too bad...

(Via Macrumors.)

Tuesday, 28-Nov-06 12:20
D'oh!

Electronic Frontier Finland has been finally sued for collecting money against the law (scans used to be here 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6.) Some more information in Finnish is in EFFi's blog.

This case - while maybe marginal and annoying to EFFi - is interesting, because it will reflect on any Finnish open source developer. In practice, asking for donations for your software or web site is illegal - at least that is how I read the law. JSPWiki is clean in that respect (except that the README does mention that you should donate to charity if you think JSPWiki is cool), but I wonder how many aspiring Finnish OSS programmers, bloggers and podcasters have a Paypal donation button on their web site?

Unfortunately the law might make it rather difficult to get money out of open source or Creative Commons-licensed material, since you could argue that the person who pays money does not get anything he could not get otherwise - and therefore any payment for any OSS program, or a blog, or a web site, or podcast is all illegal money collection. Now, I am not a lawyer, so this is all speculation, but hopefully someone can point out the error. Or I may have to call the police up and ask...

It would be good if the law would somehow acknowledge those people, who wish to work for free, yet hope for some voluntary rewards.

Update: scans apparently removed.

Update 2: Jyrki J.J. Kasvi in the comment section says that this was considered, and the law does not apply to open source or other things which can be considered as voluntary payment for things. That would explain why I get these stickers in the mail saying that "if you like these, consider paying for them."

Thursday, 23-Nov-06 16:40
Ilmainen tukiasema? Free Wifi base station?

Haluatko ilmaisen WLAN-tukiaseman? FON antaa ilmaisen tukiaseman jouluaattoon asti jokaiselle Suomessa, Tanskassa tai Ruotsissa asuvalle, joka semmoista heiltä pyytää. Ihan oikeasti. Maksavat vielä postikulutkin.

FONin tavoitteena on saada langaton internet joka niemeen ja notkelmaan. Jos laitat oman FON-tukiaseman pystyyn, niin muut FONin käyttäjät ("Fonerot") voivat käyttää sitä vapaasti - ja samaten sinä saat käyttää muiden FON-tukiasemia vapaasti. Voit myös halutessasi alkaa ns. "Billiksi", jolloin joudut itse maksamaan siitä, että käytät muitten FON-asemia, mutta vastaavasti saat osan maksuista itsellesi, jos muut vastaavat käyttäjät käyttävät sinun tukiasemaasi.

FON-tukiasema on turvallinen, sillä se ei päästä muita käyttäjiä sinun tietokoneellesi. FON myös rekisteröi tukiasemien käytön, joten teknisesti ottaen ei ole kyse täysin avoimesta verkosta - internettiin pääsee vain FON-käyttäjätunnuksilla.

(Same in English: If you live in Finland, Sweden or Denmark, you can get a free Wifi base station by ordering it from FON before 24.12.)

(Kiitos Markolle vinkistä. Huomaa, että internet-palveluntarjoajasi saattaa vetää herneen nenään asiasta. Tarkista käyttöehdot.)

Thursday, 23-Nov-06 10:41
Another band joins Creative Commons

Älymystö has gotten fed up with the way copyright system works and is joining the CC movement.

We’ve taken a long look at various copyright issues in Finland and their effect on, for example, releasing our material on the net. It became very clear to us that the various copyright organizations mostly benefit artists who get heavy airplay (remember that bit about Payola, incidentally?) and/or are looking for contracts with the Big Five. For independent artists they can actually become an obstacle.

As artists we would lose the right to permit the free use of our material (for example on soundtracks, promotional samplers, art installations and so on) as well as the right to appear on projects by artists not belonging to these organizations.

In Finland, once you join the copyright management organizations, you lose control over your own creation. The system actually made a lot of sense many years ago, when it was good that there was a single point of contact for licensing all music, but now that artists can have proper, direct contact with their customers (deliberate choice of word), the old system is getting in the way. It's not evil. It's not stupid. It just does not work.

(Link via Mikko.)

Wednesday, 22-Nov-06 10:42
Why mobile presence sucks

Niko has a good point why mobile presence services have a hard time convincing people. I agree completely. I've been using mobile presence on and off, and I've always quit after a couple of weeks once the novelty wore off. There's just not enough benefit in telling everyone where I are and what I am doing so that I would actively use it. I don't mind the presence on the IM networks, because that's a necessity of those networks - you can't connect unless people are online - but mobile presence is useless, because everyone is online all the time anyway. And wasn't the whole point of cell phones that you would be no longer tied to a particular place or time or situation: you can call anyone anyplace anytime (barring some social conventions against calling people in the night)?

However, I know there are tightly knit groups which love these kinds of applications, because they are living 24/7 closely anyway. But I am not sure I even want to know where my friends are. I think it would just make me bitter to know that they are out partying, traveling or otherwise enjoying themselves...

Tuesday, 21-Nov-06 18:54
NXP, Sony join up

This is significant, for those who care. NXP (nee Philips Semiconductors) and Sony have teamed up to produce a common solution for NFC payment and ticketing applications. Why is it important? Well, because in contactless communications the world is currently divided: The Western world which follows the Mifare standard, and Japan, which follows ~FeliCa (and then there are loads of other players, but these two are the big ones).

The anticipated JV will plan, develop, produce and market a secure chip that will include both MIFARE® and ~FeliCa™. operating systems and applications, as well as other contactless card operating systems and applications.

Also, GSM Association wants to push for NFC interoperability (whatever that means, but judging by the language, seems to revolve around the SIM card) in their spanking new press release. When we're talking about mobile payments, so many things have to fall in place - and so many players will want a piece of the cake - that the ecosystem grows very complex very quickly.

What excites me is not putting a credit card in the mobile phone. What excites me is the opportunity to put the RFID technology into the hands of the people and see what wondrous things come out of it. There has been enough trouble created by governments, wanting to put tags into passports and other places, while keeping the control - the readers - to themselves. When users gain control by owning the readers, that's when it gets exciting. The Internet wouldn't be what it is if it hadn't been designed as a rampant playground for people with too much time on their hands. Standardization is good to a certain point, to level the playground and bootstrap it, but after that... just let it flow and find its own cracks.

I feel the hype growing. It's like a tingling sensation on my neck.

Tuesday, 21-Nov-06 10:12
Those cameras

In Finland, the cell phone catches guards kicking a handcuffed man. In USA, it catches an Iranian-American student getting tasered by cops for not carrying an ID. What is common in these two incidents? They both ended up on Youtube. Transparent society.

A lot of people view the citizen media as a poor substitute for professionally edited journalism. They look at the quality of the material which is produced by individuals, and pooh-pooh it because it's about some niche thing or contains crappy videos about cats. But that is only because they are using themselves as yardsticks. The thing is that this new media is truly "from the people to the people" (much like the "old" media was when it was born when even the smallest town had its own daily newspaper). It's not out to replace anything (though it might do it accidentally as a side effect), but it's catering for the wants of the people, not the needs.

I want to blog about interesting things. And if I get readers, great, but I'm not looking for massive exposure. I want a handful of people with whom I can have a good dialogue - whether they agree with me or not (as long as they are not abusive). A newspaper editor wants to have massive coverage, because that pays the bills. He cares about quantity of readers, not quality. I much prefer a thoughtful comment from a friend - he does not care who subscribes. Or if he does, he cares about it so that he can sell better advertisements. Me - I rely on Google Ads.

I know this was a bit of an overstatement, because at some level bloggers care about how many people read them (just watch the Finnish blog top-list) and at some level all editors care about their job. But when the different people make choices, they tend to go different ways. I don't blog if I don't want to. An editor has no choice (if he wants to keep his job, that is). The mediums are different, and should not be compared in a simplistic way.

(This is one of those blog posts that went into a completely different direction that I was planning to.)

The online world is harsh, yet rewarding. The mechanisms of social media, amplified by search engines can bring something out of a relative obscurity to everyone's desktops in just a few days, without anyone actively working for it. This "mass intelligence", which is based on a complicated mesh of "nodes" (sites which are read by many people, and therefore work more efficiently at distributing things) and "leaves" (sites which are read by only a few people, but they generate most of the material) is something which is not easily transcribed to a hierarchical world view where everyone has their place. (Though, I don't believe the world was ever hierarchical, but many of the structures in the world make it seem like it is.)

The breakdown between private and public, work and freetime, professional journalism and citizenship media, fair use and copyright, and virtual and physical is something which, I think, is just a visible symptom of an underlying, deep change in the society, and it's all fueled by the Internet. It is now finally transforming the society as was predicted, largely because the people born in the 80s and 90s who never knew anything else, are now coming to an age.

But what exactly are we transforming into? This is an age of conflict, both in a physical and virtual world. What will emerge as a result? I can't say. I don't think anyone can, though there are people who I would be betting on. We're on the edge of a sword, to quote a cliché, and we need to decide which way to fall. Or maybe we've fallen already, but just don't realize it yet.

(UCLA video via Slashdot.)

Update: There is a Finnish raport on this very subject by Sitra on "The Well-being State in the Age of Communities", published this morning. Thanks to Laura for the link.)

Tuesday, 21-Nov-06 09:15
Ainoa oikea joulukalenteri

...avautuu ensimmäinen päivä osoitteessa http://joulukalenteri.ilmatar.net/.

Muistan aikoinaan lukeneeni scifi-tarinan, jossa päiviteltiin sitä, että miten jos joulua ei olisi peruutettu, mainostus olisi voinut alkaa jo pyhäinmiesten päivän korvilla. Se oli scifiä se, joskus aikoinaan.

Saturday, 18-Nov-06 01:29
I learned something today...

...namely that cheese is a paste.

At Paris CDG, I figured that I should bring something home, and what would be better than a nice chunk of good Brie? (Well, many things, but there are only so much you can get at an airport.)

So, I go to the counter, and with my perfect French ask the clerk to sell it to me. He compliments me on my French (even if the only thing I can talk about is purchasing cheese). He then proceeds to pack my chunk-o-cheese in a transparent plastic bag.

"Oh, is that a liquid?" I ask, with my ten-word vocabulary. He smiles happily and responds:

"No sir, it's a paste!"

(Well, a good Brie is certainly not solid. But I never really thought it of as a paste. But if the French tell me cheese is a paste, then it is a paste. They know cheese.)

Wednesday, 15-Nov-06 23:59
Zu-zu-zune and other incoherent ramblings

Will the new Microsoft Zune kill the iPod? Doubtful, if you believe CNN.

Another thing that makes me wonder... Microsoft is saying that Vista will create 50,000 new jobs in Europe! I still haven't figured out exactly how - unless it's so complicated that all helpdesks will need to triple in size - but if it's true, EU should be paying money to MS so that they could launch a new vesion of Windows every month. Then we could get rid of unemployment in a jiffy!

Ever stop to wonder - he said, without even an inkling of a link - why all airports happily charge you extraordinate amounts for internet connectivity, yet none of them seem to have power sockets available for laptops?

I'm not in a good mood. I lost my GPS, either in Paris CDG or in the plane to Bilbao. I also forgot to bring my NFC phone as show-n-tell, missed dinner, and did not bring swimming trunks after being reminded twice about how great a spa this hotel has.

There is also a storm outside and the whole hotel is creaking and wailing. Which is sort of cool, in a cheap horror movie kind of way. Which reminds me that the new Dr Who is kicking ass. After the last couple of episodes (you know, the ones with the gasmasks) it ranks to top three of my personal British Horror Things List - with Sapphire and Steel and Edge of Darkness filling the other slots.

"Mommyy..."

Wednesday, 15-Nov-06 11:59
You know that you've not been blogging enough...

...when your browser no longer remembers your blog URL automatically.

...when people start calling you to check if you're dead.

...when most of the people who visit are random googlers.

...when you realize you don't even know who has been on your blog lately.

...when you realize you have forgotten the password to your blog

...when people start referring to you as an ex-blogger or say "I used to read your blog"

...when you no longer have a bad conscience over not blogging

...when the only time you find time to blog is when you are bored out of your skull waiting for a flight on an airport (yes, I'm in Helsinki-Vantaa right now, traveling to Paris and Bilbao to give a public presentation about NFC. Worried.)

...when your dog's blog has more readers than yours

...when you hear yourself referring to blogging as "a fad"

Let's hear some more in the comments (must stop, flight leaving.)

Saturday, 11-Nov-06 20:53
Kickflip!

How to do use a human as a skating board? With stop-motion animation, of course!

(Thanks to Kevin Marks on #joiito.)

Wednesday, 08-Nov-06 18:37
JSPWiki book

Well, not quite, but the new edition of "Wikis und Blogs" by Christoph Lange does have a chapter about JSPWiki, and judging by the index there's quite a lot of stuff in it! Installation, configuration and use, all are covered. I have not seen the book, so I can't tell whether it is any good, but maybe someone can?

(Thanks to Chuck for the tip!)

Wednesday, 08-Nov-06 12:34
Let's party like it's 1996

I'm sorry, but I gotta laugh. These smart fellows have created a competition to put web apps to mobile phones, and made the entire site out of a single image - including text and all! Wanna see how it looks on my phone? Yup, it's crap.

How could these people possibly be qualified to judge any mobile applications, when they think that making a web site out of a single large graphic is a good idea? You can't search it, you can't copy-n-paste cut-n-paste things from it, you can't resize it, you can't read it if you happen to be blind... To top it all off, the site would actually very easy to do even with regular HTML layout.

I'm sorry. This is just... so dumb, you know? The idea is great, but the awards are a bit crummy, and execution is not exactly instilling confidence, is it?. But then again, entering requires only an idea, so it might be worth your time to try it out.

(Yes, it's a Nokia-sponsored thing. Come on guys, you know better than that!)

(Thanks to Charlie for the tip.)

Update: The site has been updated to be a regular web site, as noted by Vesa in the comments! Excellent work, guys! Now, everyone go and make a mobile web business plan :-)

Tuesday, 07-Nov-06 23:28
Quickies

Wake up early, go to Tampere, get back in time just to attend another meeting... I really need to learn how to do power napping.

Anyway, a couple of quick links for your perusal:

  • Peter Jenner, former manager of bands such as Pink Floyd, says that music will be available under a blanket license in the future and that DRM is already dead. Ranty interview, but interesting. (Via)
  • Piracy stats by music industry make no sense, says the Australian Institute of Criminology, and continue calling them a "self-serving hyperbole", "epistemologically unreliable," and "absurd." (via)
  • Canada is considering mandatory DRM on all music sold online?
  • Tuija has had an idea. Interesting. Must think about this.
  • Travian is still very addictive.
  • Alexandra says: "I don't have to lie anymore, I have Jaiku". Good point. How much freedom do we lose, if we lose the ability to tell white lies about where we are and who we are with?
Saturday, 04-Nov-06 18:53
Korea bans anonymity on the internet

This rather interesting article from BBC suggests that anonymity on the internet may be a thing of the past very soon - all thanks to mob justice. You may remember the Korean Shit Girl. It's not the only case, apparently. The mob has power, and it's difficult to stop it, because you can't possibly sue thousands of people for defamation.

It'll be rather interesting to see whether the law has any effect, or will the conversation just move elsewhere, to non-Korean sites. It'll also be interesting to see when exactly will the Finnish politicians decide that we need such a law, too. My guess is by the end of the next year (what do you mean I'm getting cynic?)

Online mobs first demonise those they disagree with, then the victim's home address, credit card details, and even their boss's phone numbers get passed around.

All of Korea's police stations now have a cyber terror unit to help deal with the problem.

The number of cases referred to Korea's Internet Commission tripled last year.

"Often using other people's login to a website, these people spread bad rumours aimed at affecting the victim's social status," said Chun Seong Lee, Liaison Officer at the Cyber Terror Response Centre.

"It's happening a lot. In these situations people could lose their job, or it could affect their social life, even causing mental illness. That's all happening because of the development of the internet, of course."

...

Next year a new law will come into force which will force Koreans to reveal their name and ID number before they share their opinions online.

But some say that does not go far enough.

Forcing portals to collect national ID numbers is just one tactic.

Sung-Ho Kim represents Korean Internet Service Providers. He says they cannot remove offensive material quickly enough. He wants the government to cut off some people from the internet altogether.

Update 08-Nov: Brazil is following suite - the Brazilian government wants to track everyone on the internet for up to three years.

Friday, 03-Nov-06 10:03
Google is still smart, but the "not evil" I am not too sure about

As I said, Google's purchase of Youtube was not the act of a dumb company. However, this intriguing email suggests that Google's deal with the entertainment industry is very smart, but it may be sacrificing the "we're not evil" bit.

The email claims that the media companies have a) figured out a way to get money from Youtube without paying the artists themselves, and b) Google required them to start suing the competition on copyright infringement, essentially killing them.

If the email is true, then Google's "we're not evil" is starting to sound like a Mafia boss saying "I did not do anything wrong", while his associates are the ones who killed everyone.

(Via Überkuul.)

Thursday, 02-Nov-06 11:47
Blyk, free mobile operator

To continue the previous discussion, today it was announced that a new mobile operator called Blyk will start their operations in Britain next year. Their business model is based on free phone calls and text messages, funded by advertising revenue.

Free-for-consumer may well be the end state of all digital services.

(A study says Google's ad revenue is going to surpass major TV channels soon.)

Monday, 30-Oct-06 16:59
Difficulty of logos

This is probably old hat, but I'll share it with you anyway.

I have no idea whether the designer of this wonderful logo really knew what she (or he) was doing, but if she did, I bow deep in respect. Innuendo is one art I would love to master some day.

Excellent!

(Via Outi on IRC.)

Monday, 30-Oct-06 08:29
Is free equal to zero worth?

Dragon asks an important question, and I'll try to respond here with some of the thoughts I've been wrestling with in the past few weeks.

For someone like me who makes a living by producing content, this offers a tough dilemma. I am like many of the arguments that P2P advocates have, and yet I also need to make a living. If all the products I’ve done in past 11 years would be available free of charge, I very much doubt I could have ever put any bread on my table. I also believe that Youtube-style snipped videos truly help the popularity of music, games, movies etc, as does the fansubbing of Anime series that I love. Products that you simply cannot buy in the area you live in, I have myself downloaded in the past. Indeed responsible fansites take such torrents down once the product gets licensed in their home country. And I always buy them when I can if I enjoyed them. This my conscience can live with. The trouble is, I think I am part of a tiny minority.

If someone can explain to me how I am supposed to make a living if the worth of my work is 0 (as apparently many people believe since they keep downloading stuff I’ve made even though it is available to them in a shop around the corner) then I might be more inclined to defend these boys.

Well, radio is free, but that does not mean that it's worth zero. And the people who work for it are getting paid.

Skype is free, yet the people working for it are getting paid.

Lots of open source is free, yet people are getting paid (though most of them aren't, but some of them are).

What I'm trying to get at is that free does not equal that it would be worthless. If it's worthless, it's (usually) free, yes, but the equation does not apply the other way.

The key difference is that most of the copyright industry is concerned about selling "units of consumption" to users at a price per unit (CD, theatre ticket, DVD). Therefore, they perceive that free is value zero. However, when you start to think that the entertainment industry is more like a service than furniture industry and start comparing it with other services like radio, TV, cell phone, electricity, gas, and water, you realize three things:

  • Everything tends to go towards flat rate (unless it's a consumable, which digital goods ain't)
  • Everything that is flat rate will become cheaper over time due to competition
  • P2P is a free service. Because it has almost no overhead or distribution costs, there are no employee costs, and it's not paying the originators (making it an illegal, but still free), it can afford to be free. Which makes it very, very difficult to compete with, since bringing anything else to the market is like saying that "we have this better radio, but you have to pay to use it". Now, this works with pay TV, so maybe it'll work with music and movies, too.

What's the tiny bit of difference then between copyright industry and the rest of the service industry? That's right - copyright itself. Because copyright is a government-granted monopoly, and the current business model is such that distributors own the copyrights, not the artists themselves, there cannot be proper competition. And that's because unlike gas, it does matter who makes the music. No matter how many Britney-clones there are out there, they're still not Britney. And because the industry is really mostly concerned with hits, they're what matters, and the system is built so that the profits from the hits can be maximized - even though a more liberal system would probably work better for the mid- and low tiers.

Some time ago, I speculated that in twenty years, assuming that current trends continue, we'll have an $500 iPod that can fit all the music ever created. I asked John Buckman, CEO of Magnatune about this, and he mentioned that we can assume that that is actually available in ten years, thanks to streaming, at least in home environments.

OK. So, if all the music ever made will be available at the touch of a button, won't that make it just like a service? And, if there were a multitude of service providers to choose from, wouldn't that then encourage competition? And wouldn't that eventually drive the price down to zero, just like radio?

And wouldn't DRM then become totally irrelevant, because you can have all the music from any provider anyway, so there is no need to make copies?

(I know this wasn't exactly an answer, but it sort of juggled my thoughts. I've been talking about music, but it seems to me that that the computer game industry is moving towards service model as well with things like XBox live. So maybe the service model is applicable to other things as well. It's left as an exercise to the reader to figure out how the service model gets funded. If you can't figure it out in 30 minutes watching TV, you're not gonna get it :-)

Sunday, 29-Oct-06 21:36
For the record...

...there is certain magic in looking the moon set behind the islands on a dark, calm, cold October night.

I almost wish I had had a camera, but then again, I can just go out and watch it anytime again.

Moving to Espoo was a good move.

Sunday, 29-Oct-06 16:40
Urgh

Hngh. I've been meaning to write long, meaningful posts about lots of different things, but I haven't simply managed to whip myself into actually doing something about it. For now I'm just happy sitting at home and thinking and planning some things.

We'll be back.

(And the fact that I've been out several nights this week does not help at all, either.)

Wednesday, 25-Oct-06 17:13
Touching Oslo

A week ago I jumped on a plane and like a man with seven mile boots landed in Oslo to participate in the NordiCHI 2006 Touch Workshop arranged by Timo Arnall. It was quite an interesting experience, since most of the time I am surrounded by engineers who have a very, um, particular way of thinking. Well, I'm an engineer too, and I find my brain so often constrained by the way it has been taught to think that I am beginning to find it frustrating. It's good to have the old noodle poked with a different stick in a different pan every now and then...

Anyway, I gave a short talk on some NFC security issues - only five minutes time and two pages so I couldn't say all I wanted, but maybe I managed to embed the seed into people's minds: security is something you need to think at the very beginning of the application design; you can't just treat it as a black box you draw on a board next to your other boxes and expect someone else to take care of it once you're done with development. Trust is lost easily, and regaining it is a long and complicated process. (As an example, witness this NYT article on "cracking" contactless credit cards. Simple screwups like this make it a lot harder to make people take the whole thing more seriously.)

Where the real fun ensued was during the actual workshop phase, where everyone was asked to create a physical prototype. Since we were at the Oslo School for Architecture, there were tools and materials available, so - after a relatively complicated and frankly speaking, crappy, process of choosing topics - we split into a bunch of groups and started working on the prototypes.

Alex and I veered a bit off to the side from our group, and started brainstorming an idea which revolved around culturally recognizable symbols - something that a particular peer group might recognize, but nobody else. For example, most Finns might recognize the ubiquitous "Gifu" - i.e. the "Sisu" salt licorice brand. Or Star Trek fans would recognize the Starfleet symbol. The idea was to deploy these in the city to be picked up by people so that they could then get into contact with this peer group by simply touching it with a NFC-enabled mobile phone. (How's it better than Googling? Because there's something to be said about the physical world as well. I am a strong believer in that once we've poked around enough with this "anytime anywhere with anyone" -stuff, we'll start appreciating our immediate environments a bit more again.)

Alex made a wonderful Flickr show about this to explain it all. On the right, my picture of the "tags" we made with foam. (Oh, it felt good to be doing stuff with my hands for a change. Too much computery stuff. Mind rests.)

I also put pictures of the other teams products into my Flickr stream. Check out

Anyway, thanks to all who participated. This was heaps of fun - and hopefully, useful as well. NFC as "anything but the credit card stuff" is still quite a lot in its baby steps, but a workshop like this shows well how it is inherently hackable - in a good sense of the word. All the prototypes were put together in just a few measly hours - and they're far better in crystallizing ideas than endless powerpoint shows describing how great an app is going to be once it's ready in 18 months. Things that make people think are always good. NFC is certainly tickling the creative nerve of people, whether they're thinking about barhopping or annotating the physical world.

Monday, 23-Oct-06 11:17
Olutopas avattu

Äyräväisen Seppo kertoi avanneensa Olutopas.info -sivuston, jossa on lueteltu ja arvosteltu (ainakin alkuun) kaikki Alkon myymät oluet. Jos siis kaupasta kannettu mäyräkoira ei enää jaksa innostaa, niin käy tutkimassa parempia vaihtoehtoja. Sivusto on jatkoa Sepon aiemmin kirjoittamalle, taskukokoiselle "Suomalaisen oma olutopas"-teokselle.

"Olutopas.info - jotta hyvä olut ei jäisi hyllyyn."

Monday, 23-Oct-06 09:43
John Buckman today in Helsinki

John Buckman, the founder and CEO of Magnatune, a fiercely independent record company that certainly thinks differently, is speaking today at Aula. The place is Korjaamo (Töölönkatu 51B), and the time is 19:00.

Magnatune is a great place - they license their music under Creative Commons non-commercial license, but there is a really easy web shop, too, where you can set the price. And the artist gets half of the money. So you can happily pay ten dollars for a CD - which is a bargain - and still feel good about yourself, because the artist gets five - way more than he would ordinarily get out of a full-priced CD. Out of my last three CD purchases all were from Magnatune.

Saturday, 21-Oct-06 11:52
Thanks...

...to everyone in the semi-random-annual Helsinki bloggers informal meeting (links to a bunch of pictures). It was fun, though we had to leave early to make it to the grocery store before it closed.

People were nice, but I got a terrible headache from the smoke. The less I go to pubs, the less I can stand it. I've realized that the biggest reason why I don't really go to pubs anymore, except for special occasions, is the all-permeating, headache-inducing, lung-ripping, sticks-on-your-clothes-for-good smoke. The sooner they ban smoking in restaurants, the better. It's a terrible nuisance.

Friday, 20-Oct-06 14:27
What does long tail mean for copyrights?

Copyright expires 70 years after the author's death. One of the big arguments against this long term is that it means that in order to protect the less-than-one-percent of works that actually make money throughout this extraordinarily long time, the 99% of the works that don't make money need to lie in oblivion throughout the entire period and possibly get lost forever. Long copyright period wastes a lot of culture.

Now, Chris Anderson, the author of "Long Tail", notes that Universal - a major record company - has been experimenting with the "Long Tail" theory by releasing online a number of songs which have not been in circulation for years due to the fact that the market is not big enough to justify CD/LP reprinting costs. And guess what? There turns out to be a market for this oldie music, just as predicted by the Long Tail theory.

"Online music fans have downloaded more than 250,000 tracks of previously out-of-print recordings by European artists since the launch of Universal Music’s pioneering digital catalogue reissue programme earlier this year....

Universal Music Group International launched its download-only reissue programme in February, as the first step in a multi-year drive to reinstate more than 100,000 European deleted recordings. The initial offering comprised more than 3,000 out-of-print tracks from the company’s vaults in the U.K., France and Germany. They were made available through online music services in 20 countries, mostly in Europe.

Overall, these results lend weight to author Chris Anderson’s The Long Tail theory. In his recently published book of that name, Anderson contends that given the growing choice and diversity of music that is legitimately available through the Internet consumers will be increasingly drawn to recordings beyond current hits. In this scenario, the total sales of this repertoire (the long tail) can match or exceed those of the hits.

Okay. So, now, suddenly, sitting on top of a song for a hundred years starts to make sense. Thanks to the online distribution, where distribution cost is practically zero, you can keep selling and making money off that record until eternity. In practice, this will probably mean that in the near future we'll see more cries to extend the copyright indefinitely, just so that "the poor artists, dead for a hundred year, won't starve."

So, Long Tail says "good bye, public domain".

Oops.

Friday, 20-Oct-06 12:33
Google ain't stupid

There has lately been a lot of discussion about whether it made any sense for Google to buy Youtube - because where there is money, there are also lawsuits.

However, as New York Times tells us, the deal wasn't just between Google and Youtube - the major music companies are involved as well. This is brilliant move from Google - that should shield them against the biggest litigators, and also probably means that others will adopt a "wait and see" attitude, with option of dipping in if it starts working.

Three of the four major music companies — Vivendi’s Universal Music Group, Sony and Bertelsmann’s jointly owned Sony BMG Music Entertainment, and the Warner Music Group — each quietly negotiated to take small stakes in YouTube as part of video- and music-licensing deals they struck shortly before the sale, people involved in the talks said yesterday. The music companies collectively stand to receive as much as $50 million from these arrangements, these people said.

(Via Sami P.)

Tuesday, 17-Oct-06 17:49
Copyright weirdosities

Couple of interesting tidbits on the ever-scarier and expanding field of copyrights:

Here's a company who says that you only "license" the fabric you buy from them, and therefore you cannot sell any products that you might be using their fabric for. I don't know how much legal ground these guys have, but I guess you can agree to anything these days. The weird thing is that you're not making a copy of anything here - you're just using it.

Also, recipes are traditionally presented as examples of things which cannot be copyrighted. However, apparently professional chefs are now panicking over this - they want to be able to copyright food. So, making a similar dish than someone else in the world would be considered copyright infringement. I understand the chef's desire to protect hours and weeks of creative work, but bitch-slapping the entire world by demanding that every single new dish is automatically protected for until 70 years after the author's death is a bit over the top. After all, the number of dishes that need to be protected this way is rather limited, and it takes considerable skill to even replicate the work.

Oh, well, if this goes through, I'm gonna hit you for $200 every time you eat a banana with ketchup and onion rings.

Update: Almost forgot. Apparently Creative is removing the option to record directly from radio from their portable music players due to pressure from record companies. If they can't make home recording illegal, they'll certainly try to kill the messenger.

Tuesday, 17-Oct-06 09:53
Verkkokakkonen, new episode

Ha!

Finally managed to make a new episode of Verkkokakkonen, Jyri's and mine Finnish podcast on this whole Web 2.0 shebang. It's still crap in a cute, amateurish way, but it's the best one we've made so far, if I may say so myself. In this episode, we're drinking beer and talking to Ward Cunningham, the man who invented wikis. I cut out about five minutes of my own umms and aaahs, and I have enough bloopers from the Finnish portion to make a whole episode ;-)

Monday, 16-Oct-06 14:22
Even more Loituma

This sheep-and-cows disco version of Loituma is destined for greatness. It positively reeks like a hit. I wouldn't be surprised if it broke Top 40 soon. It's getting so over the top, that I have to watch it again! And again! And again...

Update: Oh, by the way, of course there is a Wikipedia article on the original song.

Update2: Not completely unsurprisingly, the video is from the same company that produced us the Annoying Thing aka Crazy Frog.

(Thanks to Hrry.)

Monday, 16-Oct-06 10:58
Pale blue dot, pt II

Beautiful image, taken by the Cassini spacecraft, currently orbiting Saturn. Another great pale blue dot picture.

Wednesday, 11-Oct-06 19:30
The Bell Tolls For The Dead

New Scientist writes:

Around 655,000 people have died in Iraq as a result of the US-led coalition invasion, according to the largest scientific analysis yet. That is 2.5% of the country's entire population.

The 2.5% figure is about the same as Finland's losses during WW2. And we still carry the scars, and many still hate Russians, 60 years later.

A war this big will last a hundred years.

Monday, 09-Oct-06 13:00
Good news, bad news and terrible users

What a couple of bad days. First, a good journalist is killed, then North Korea paints themselves permanently in the corner. I was almost certain when I got a phone call this morning that it would continue the bad news streak. But the news turned out to be pretty good, so I'm personally rather satisfied.

Until I started reading the experiences of a journalist installing Linux (in Finnish). Yes, I've used Linux; yes, I still use it even if my main development platform is OSX these days; yes, I like it a lot; but frankly, I could do without some of the zealots. Someone dared to criticize (rather accurately, I might add) that the X configuration method is still rather arcane, and people start throwing crap at him. Someone says that "there should be better GUI configuration tools", and people scream at him and call him names. If the journalist is reporting any problems, the people go into predictable rants about "how Ubuntu is bad and you should use X" (I can't believe how many times I've heard this - for every distro), and "Well, Windows has problems, too!" (duh, but that's got nothing to do with this), and "You should read more manuals, because otherwise Linux will get a bad name." (I love the logic on this one - if it's difficult, it should be said out loud and clear so that people can fix it. If anything, the hordes of dumb people shouting bad advice will give Linux a bad name. It certainly worked for Amiga.)

Where do all these brittle people come from? I mean, if a journalist of a medium-sized magazine of a minor country has a problem with one Linux distribution (which he can fix after asking a couple of questions), that does not mean that Linus is going to implode, KDE be declared illegal, and armed troops will come after you if you download Debian Etch. Really. Linux is a big boy and it can handle itself. In fact, any problems that regular people have with Linux will make it eventually better, and if someone makes a really friendly version of Linux, that's not away from anyone else.

I'm a firm believer in that computing should be invisible to most people (in practice I may suck at implementing it, though). There will always be room for tinkerers, but tinkering should not be the primary method of interacting with a machine.

Saturday, 07-Oct-06 09:49
Control over secondary markets via copyright?

This is interesting: a company is trying to control resales of its product by claiming that taking pictures of their bottles is illegal. I knew this was going to happen at some point, but I always figured that it start with the record companies going after used record stores; or book publishers going at second hand book stores.

I mean - there is a huge second hand market for culture out there. Which will, by the way, die once we move to fully digital distribution, since you only lease things, you don't own them anymore, and therefore you cannot go and sell it to your friend or a second hand shop. So enjoy your Digelius while it's still possible. At this growth rate (tripling every year), digital music will own the market in 2010, and new records will no longer be available in physical form that could be exchanged or resold.

(Via Boing Boing.)

Friday, 06-Oct-06 13:27
Watching, not doing

Pirkka raises a good point, trying to define Web 2.0. Part of the attraction of Web 2.0 is the fact that you are aware that you could do all this cool stuff in Flickr, Youtube, etc, but you don't have to.

Chris Heathcote calls this marthastewartization, though he only refers to people watching TV programs about other people making things, instead of doing things.

Is Web 2.0 just marthastewardized version of Web 1.0, where prosumers rule and the consumers still stay consumers, they just think they're involved in the Web 2.0?

Thursday, 05-Oct-06 14:17
White and Nerdy

Weird Al Yankovich is using the Internet for what it was meant to be used for: laughing at nerds. First, You're Pitiful, then Don't Download This Song (which was, of course, available as a free download from Weird Al's site) and now, White and Nerdy.

LMAO!

Thursday, 05-Oct-06 10:01
Teleportation one step at a time

A team in Denmark has taken an important step in teleportation:

The experiment involved for the first time a macroscopic atomic object containing thousands of billions of atoms. They also teleported the information a distance of half a meter but believe it can be extended further.

(Via Boing Boing.)

Tuesday, 03-Oct-06 10:56
Ewww...

This is the most disturbing photoset on Flickr to date.

Don't worry, it's just people. And the occasional vegetable.

(Thanks to blackbeltjones.)

Monday, 02-Oct-06 13:28
Runaway global warming only 1 degree away?

New Scientist writes:

"Further global warming of 1 °C defines a critical threshold. Beyond that we will likely see changes that make Earth a different planet than the one we know."

Earth is already as warm as at any time in the last 10,000 years, and is within 1 °C of being its hottest for a million years, says Hansen's team. Another decade of business-as-usual carbon emissions will probably make it too late to prevent the ecosystems of the north from triggering runaway climate change, the study concludes.

Well, at least the global warming will kill most of the humankind, which will finally put an end to pollution. So the world will correct itself eventually. We'll just all be dead, and suffer horribly while dying.

Considering that humans have already exploited most of readily available resources, how likely it is that a new high-tech culture could form after we're all gone?

If we're alone in the universe, we're making very sure that we'll also be the only ones ever.

Friday, 29-Sep-06 23:35
ED-209 meets brain-eating robots from outer space

South Korea is deploying armed robots that can shoot the enemy automatically, while other robots think that human tastes of bacon.

Worried now.

(VIa Collision detection.)

Friday, 29-Sep-06 23:11
Why Wii is cool

An article over at IGN shows perfectly well, why I think Nintendo is going to be okay: They're not out there to build an entertainment centre and flex muscles over who can crank more polygons/second or who can score the latest EA gaming hit. Instead, they're beyond entertainment: they want to make their Wii console a part of the family:

Aoyama: It's not a system like e-mail, designed for constantly exchanging messages. However, we hope it will allow a relaxed style of interaction, allowing the user to feel that there are other people out there, connected to the net.

Tamaki: On top of that, with the Wii Message Board, users can exchange game data or screenshots. E-mail messages can also be exchanged between mobile phones and Wii. Sorry to keep using families for all the examples...! (laughs) But imagine the father is working late at the office. His family can send him messages via Wii from the living room. Then he could reply by sending a photo. We'd like people to think of Wii as allowing them to feel they are connected, in a loose, relaxed way, with their friends and family.

Now, I don't know whether their strategy will work (and make no mistake, Wii is going to be an excellent console, too), but the way they think intrigues me. Nintendo obviously understands a lot about people.

(Thanks to JES for the link. You were right, it is interesting.)

Thursday, 28-Sep-06 21:52
"Give us your password or go to jail"

Our Ministry of Justice is planning something: The police can order you to give up your passwords if they think it's necessary.

What's the problem? Well - since cryptography aims to make your data look as much as random noise as possible, you can pick any file containing noise (like any random JPEG file), and claim that it contains encrypted data. And because there is no password, you go to jail. There is a well-known cryptographic technique called steganography that specializes in hiding data in obvious places.

The British version (RIPA) is even worse: you must prove that you don't know a password for a system. Normally, in court, if you say you don't remember something, that's not illegal. But forgetting a password in Britain is (would be? I'm not sure). However, looking through the Finnish proposal, I don't see anything like that mentioned there. You would be questioned rather deeply, I'm sure.

Pakkokeinolakiin lisättäisiin uudet datan säilyttämismääräystä ja tietojärjestelmän haltijan tietojenantovelvollisuutta koskevat säännökset. Tavoitteena on helpottaa esitutkintaviranomaisten työtä ja kansainvälistä yhteistyötä. Tietojärjestelmän haltija olisi velvollinen antamaan esitutkintaviranomaiselle tämän pyynnöstä tiedossaan olevat datan takavarikoimiseksi tarpeelliset salasanat ja vastaavat tiedot.

The good thing is that if you're suspected of a crime, you don't - obviously - have to give up the passwords. As far as I can see, this is really meant to concern administrators and other maintainers of computer systems. Keeping your own hard drive encrypted would still be okay - just make sure you're the only person with the password, and don't store anyone else's stuff on it.

(Via avs online. The entire text is available in the Ministry of Justice website (and in Finnish, obviously).)

Thursday, 28-Sep-06 18:30
Vaikeavammaisten marssi

In lieu of the previous entry, here's something else (and far more important) to gather for (sorry, in Finnish):

AVUSTAJAKAPINA

RAMMAT PANTTERIT VAATIVAT OIKEUTTA HENKILÖKOHTAISEEN AVUSTAJAAN

Aika ja paikka: 29.9. Kokoontuminen Kiasman eteen klo 11, sieltä klo 11.30 "Pitkä Marssi" eduskunnan eteen, klo 12 kutsutaan eduskuntaryhmien edustajat, klo 12.30 lähdemme kotiin.

Hallitus on epäonnistunut lähes kaikissa vammaispoliittisissa toimissaan. Hallitusohjelmassa olleet tavoitteet henkilökohtainen avustajajärjestelmän kehittämisestä eivät ole toteutumassa, vammaislakien yhdistämiseen ei riittänyt yksi vaalikausi ja kuntien vammaiskerroin meni harakoille. Paras-hankkeen yhteydessä hallitus ei pystynyt toteuttamaan rahaa säästäviä ja parempaa palvelua tuottavia rakenteellisia muutoksia vammaispalveluiden osalta. Ja sokerina pohjalla - ministeri Hyssälähän torpedoi kansanedustajien aloitteen, jossa vaadittiin aisan tuomista eduskuntaan.

Koko neljän vuoden hallituksen vammaispoliittisista toimista saldoksi jää vammaispoliittinen selonteko ja pieni tuntimäärien nostaminen tulkkipalveluihin. Mutta mitä vielä - ministeri Hyssälä pursuaa tyytyväisyyttä STM:n tiedotteessa.

Me vaikeavammaiset tunnemme itsemme petetyksi, jälleen kerran. Jo ainakin kolmas hallitus vatkaa henkilökohtainen avustajajärjestelmää saamatta mitään aikaiseksi.

(Thanks, Arja!)

Thursday, 28-Sep-06 18:17
Zombiewalk Helsinki

On October 1st, zombies will walk in Helsinki. Brains...

(Thanks to Jaana-Mari.)

Thursday, 28-Sep-06 14:42
Near Field, Technology, and Ethics

The Finnish Research Centre is starting a pilot in Oulu in which elderly people can order food using NFC (Finnish). You just touch the picture of the food you want, and it'll be delivered. Very simple, intuitive, less susceptible to errors, can be used even if your eyesight is not that good, faster, cheaper, yadda, yadda.

I'm sort of two minds on this: on other hand, it demonstrates an innovative use of a technology in an important area. On the other hand, it deprives older people one more contact with the rest of the society. Maybe the call to the person who handles the food deliveries is the only discussion of the day? How much computing can we put into people's lives to replace normal social contacts before it's too much?

Wednesday, 27-Sep-06 22:40
Drinkers earn more than non-drinkers

This amazing tidbit from Collision Detection explains why I, even after total catastrophes like last Monday, still occasionally drink myself silly: to make more money.

Economists have long noticed that people who drink tend to make more money than those who don't. Now a new study offers a theory to explain this: People who drink are more socially gregarious than nondrinkers, which increases the size of their Rolodexes and, by extension, their earning potential.

Or to put it another way: Drinking is the original social-networking technology.

(Full article here, PDF with lots of funny pictures.)

Tuesday, 26-Sep-06 10:26
Virtual reality plane

This has been everywhere, but that's only because it's totally awesome. Not $2.99 hotdog -awesome, but really, really cool:

Guy adds remote controlled camera to a model aircraft and uses virtual reality goggles to control it.

Nice soundtrack, too - always liked Ronan Hardiman.

Monday, 25-Sep-06 10:19
Here again

Third hotel night in six days, all in different places. So please excuse my quietness. Follow my Flickr stream, which tends to be updated far more often during travel periods like this.

(I have, however, managed to push through a few updates of JSPWiki. We have still a couple of bad bugs in caching, so those will need to be ironed out before the next stable release. I have not forgotten the podcast either, it's just that both me and Jyri have been traveling a lot during these past few weeks.)

Sunday, 24-Sep-06 00:04
Never lose your camera again

Brilliant idea by someone: if you're afraid of losing your camera (or something else that is expensive) in the airport, just put a gun in with the camera. The airlines will pay extra attention, because losing a weapon in the airport would create a really, really big mess.

So, if I'm getting this right: thanks to increased security, it's actually better to be traveling with lethal weapons than without them?

The absurdity of this situation is beyond belief.

Thursday, 21-Sep-06 21:25
Windows Media DRM gets tighter

Windows Media Player 11 is going to:

  • Take away your ability to back up your media files
  • Take away your ability to move content from one PC to another (yes, even a legal one)
  • Add DRM to any CDs you own and rip
  • Not allow you to play media files of your own CDs unless you ask for permission
  • Delete any TV recordings you make after three days

And, being the dominant OS, they will have this on every desktop in a couple of years. Of course, the content owner can be lenient and allow things to be done with the file - but they can also change their mind without a moment's notice and change what you can do with your music retroactively. Here's the rub: because the whole thing is based on licensing and contracts, they can change the rights in any way they want in any way they please. It's not a sale, remember?

Normally, I would not be too worried. Consumers would not buy from such a store that screws them so badly. But the thing is, copyright is a government-granted monopoly (in much the same way as alcohol in Finland), so there cannot be proper competition. Especially since there are relatively few media companies that control most of the field. They're not out to compete on quality and innovation - since they've already got the monopoly. And if the only way to get Britney is to bend over and lick your own balls in public, then hey, an amazing amount of people will turn out to be surprisingly supple.

(Via Slashdot.)

Thursday, 21-Sep-06 12:29
Blog questionnaire in Finnish smells...

<old-fart-cynicism> Hookay... From Pinseri I got this link to this allegedly first Finnish Blog Questionnaire. However, something is not right. First of all, the blog itself is concentrated on search engine optimization - a practice, which is filled with people from blog spammers to people who just tell you how to make your blog stand out. Second, the blog is filled with typos (mm. "blogikysely" on yhdyssana. Samaten "tutkimustyöväline"), which while forgivable, does not exactly give a professional image. Third, the questionnaire itself wants to know, among other things, how much money you get and what your political viewpoints are, and whether you've ever clicked on ads in a blog. Fourth, and the biggie, is that there is no statement at all on how that information would be used and by whom.

All this makes me wonder about the purpose of this questionnaire. It stinks as somebody trying to gather some more data for marketing and profiling purposes. But, because it's based on being voluntary, it's rather worthless, since the data you get is bound to be biased. So I'm not at all sure of what the point of such an exercise exactly is... For what it's worth, it's about as useful as any of the memes that are flying around the blogosphere.

Now, anyone can make any sorts of questionnaires they want. It's just that anyone who thinks that this might have any significance probably deserves a wedgie. </old-fart-cynicism>

Sunday, 17-Sep-06 14:26
From sales to licensing

Amazon recently opened the Unbox movie service, which allows you to download movies legally. However, this Boing Boing article deconstructs the terms of service, pointing out a number of significant problems.

You see, once you move from "selling" movies to "licensing" movies, you end up in a situation where the consumer no longer has any rights - because he did not buy anything. It's all covered by agreements, and things like the right to give away your copy no longer apply, because you no longer own anything you could give away.

It'll be interesting to see when the first consumer organizations start making noise about this. After all, from the customer's point of view he bought the movie as if he had bought it from any web store, except that he gets it nearly immediately, but from the store's point of view it's not a sale - not even a rental - but a loan under a very specific set of terms, which are not covered by any legislation. And this allows the stores to dictate everything.

Sunday, 17-Sep-06 13:27
Finnish National Scenery

Finnish scenery at its best (look at the latest ones towards the bottom), captured by the photo-wizard Niklas Sjöblom. The Koli area in Northern Karelia is known as a National Scenery of Finland, and I certainly understand why.

Niklas, you should be doing panoramas.

Sunday, 17-Sep-06 00:00
How to deal with netshame?

Tuija asks (in Finnish) how to deal with the occasional shame that comes with an extended net presence. I stopped thinking that a long time ago. It's not my job to sell the internet to anyone anymore, and I don't have to justify my presence on the 'net to anyone. The internet just is, and me a part of it. And in the end, I am a rather insignificant part, so why should I care? It's not as if thousands of people are anticipating breathlessly my every word and would throw themselves off the cliff at a mere hint. If anything, people are reading this to pick apart any mistake I make - which is actually pretty cool, when you think about it. Keeps you honest, your readers.

All I can say is that it becomes easier over time. And whatever happens, I found my love thanks to the dumb ideas I got online. So maybe dumb ideas and shame are just a vehicle to something better? I mean, if you can't escape your local comfort zone, you can never achieve all you can do.

In other news: getting peer recognition feels wonderful. NFC Forum surprised me by remembering me on Thursday for the work I've so far done, and gave me a very nice bottle of wine[1]. My only regret is that I gave a very bad speech, but that's what happens when I'm surprised. I can now report that the wine was rather excellent with a well-marmored steak. It even held very nicely together with the best ice-cream available in Finland, Valio's Aino blueberry-pie flavor. Yup, beats Ben&Jerry's. Anyway, thanks heaps to everyone. And yes, I am writing this after emptying that particular bottle. So please excuse any incoherence.

[#1] I've authored three of the four specs published so far. But that's only because my specs were the easy ones. The really difficult ones are coming later, and I've got nothing to do with them...
Friday, 15-Sep-06 09:38
Helsinki to get free WLAN - in buses?

Helsingin Sanomat reports that Helsinki City Transport is planning to install WiFi connections in buses. The reason is that they want to be able to stream live security camera footage from the buses, but that they'll open it for passengers as well. People remain unconvinced, since using a laptop in a bus is inconvenient.

Well, what about WLAN-enabled cell phones? Free calls with VoIP? Checking news, feeds, what-have-you? Participating in an online game? Lots and lots of interesting possibilities there...

(In other news, the first bionic woman is born.)

Wednesday, 13-Sep-06 09:55
Accessibility of online worlds

Yesterday I tried to participate in a large corporate event (from a very large corporation) on Second Life. Second Life (or SL) has become recently popular as a place to hold online events, partly because it fosters things like users creativity, uploads of material and has even a real-currency-based economy.

Unfortunately, there is still a long way to go before it stops being an exclusive club. You see, I quit after ten minutes in disgust, plagued by UI issues, permission problems and the general amount of people waving their hands trying to understand was going on. Yes, I was invited. No, I was not given any token to present or anything, so I simply did not see or hear anything. And nobody gave me any instructions on how to proceed. There was not even a simple help file - not that I could've necessarily found it: running around a virtual world and picking up virtual pieces of paper to find a manual is about as pleasant and pointless as trainspotting.

It has been said that "World of Warcract is the new golf". That is more apt in more ways than one: both are rather exclusive sports. A WOW server will get full, and if you're not playing on that server, you're out, and you just can't get in anymore. Or your playing experience will be ruined by long waits and terrible lag. Not to mention that you need to own a powerful computer and broadband. And have the money and time to spend in there (though this is mostly a prioritization question). At least WOW you can play on a Mac, too. But Linux users are left out.

The same goes for the other online worlds: they are very exclusive places. I can't fathom a blind person playing World of Warcraft, for example, or to participate in Second Life - at least without help. (If anyone who actually happens to be blind knows better, please correct me.)

A lot of this new stuff is simply just inaccessible to a lot of people, yet they are touted as the "next big thing". But the thing is, in a limited customer space the market saturates pretty quickly. There can't be thousands and thousands successful "World of Warcrafts" out there, simply because there are not enough people to play them to keep them running.

How do you break this exclusivity? How do you bring online gaming to the masses? I have no idea. I've lately scaled down my participation in World of Warcraft (my guild was disbanded without warning while I was on holiday) been playing Travian, which is a browser-based online massively multiplayer game in the spirit of Settlers of Catan (I'm on server 7, BTW). It's certainly fun, and possibly even accessible. And it's primarily a game, not a social event :-)

(Oh yeah, if you want a reason to check out SL, Jonathan Coulton is giving a concert in Second Life on Thursday.)

Tuesday, 12-Sep-06 07:51
Wikipedia doesn't censor for China

Jimmy Wales, the founder of Wikipedia, said that |Wikipedia does not censor their contents|http://observer.guardian.co.uk/world/story/0,,1869074,00.html], and therefore remains blocked in China:

Wales said censorship was ' antithetical to the philosophy of Wikipedia. We occupy a position in the culture that I wish Google would take up, which is that we stand for the freedom for information, and for us to compromise I think would send very much the wrong signal: that there's no one left on the planet who's willing to say "You know what? We're not going to give up."'

This is one of the better reasons to have non-profit organizations collecting and ordering data: they don't have sales quotas to meet, and therefore they don't have to give in on pressure. Google and other companies are, in the end, out to make money, and the red line is the most important principle of all, over which any other principles can be sacrificed.

In a free environment, both work. But when push comes to shove, I'd bet on the non-profit, volunteer organization in the long run.

(Via http://www.boingboing.net/2006/09/11/jimmy_wales_to_beiji.html.)

Monday, 11-Sep-06 22:06
Does security equal safety?

Rarely should I have felt so safe as today in Scandic Hotel Simonkenttä, with about a dozen police officers watching my every move as I put my backpack through the X-ray device. But somehow it made me more worried. I felt as if anything really bad could happen at any time. The amount of added security did not make me feel any safer, in fact, quite the opposite.

I think the best security is the one that is invisible and does not interfere with your life. Ignorance is bliss, and if you are constantly reminded that you are being kept safe by hundreds of policemen, you quickly start to wonder what the big danger is all about.

Maybe that's the real reason they keep adding security to the airports - to remind people how unsafe they are, and make sure they keep giving their power away.

(But saying that would be cynical and evil, so I'm not saying it.)

Sunday, 10-Sep-06 16:48
JSPWIki 2.4 stable released!

One thousand years ago, when ~NullPointerExceptions were just things that happened to other people, a hardy group of ninjas left their oppressed village in Japan, and fled overseas, taking with them the greatest secret of our time. It was guarded in total secrecy in a forbidden monastery deep in a Finnish swamp, surrounded by deadly mosquitoes and harvester-wielding grannies.

Until today.

The Coding Monk Ninjas That Have Mosquito Bites The Size Of Their Head proudly present JSPWiki 2.4 stable! With new, exciting features such as

  • Page-level authentication and authorization using industry standard JAAS
  • Atom Feed Support
  • WIKIWYG editing using a dedicated Java applet from University of Heilbronn
  • All new rendering engine
  • About a trillion changes under the hood
  • New default template with enough Javascript to make any lesser browser weep!
  • And all this in comfortable 5.5 Megabytes

JSPWiki 2.4.53 stable is available immediately from http://www.jspwiki.org/wiki/JSPWikiDownload

"...and the ninjas breathed a deep sigh of relief and returned to their monastery to rewatch all the episodes of Bevery Hills 90210, for they were deeply in love with Luke Perry..."

Saturday, 09-Sep-06 20:11
Fish heads!

Darn, I missed the best music video of the 80s and I didn't hear about it until now! Go see Fish Heads, which is about the strangest thing that ever appeared in the 80s - which is saying a lot...

Fish heads, Fish heads
Roly poly Fish heads
Fish heads, Fish heads
Eat them up, Yum

They can't play baseball
They don't wear sweaters
They're not good dancers
They don't play drums

Saturday, 09-Sep-06 10:08
Yle archive opened

YLE, the Finnish Broadcasting company opened their new archives to the public. Wonderful stuff, I could spend hours there, browsing through old stuff (like Kylli-täti). Kudos to YLE for doing this culturally important deed!

I'm also happy to report that the archive - even though it's in Windows Media - works nicely on my Mac with Flip4Mac, though I have not done an exhaustive test. Safari gets the layout wrong, which would probably be an easy fix, but I do take slight offense in the fact that the service tells me that only IE and Firefox are allowed ("sallittu"), implying that all other browsers would be disallowed ("kielletty"). There are also some weird finglish forms on the pages (e.g. "klippi").

But it's a good start, as long as they don't go into that crappy Windows Media DRM stuff.

Thursday, 07-Sep-06 19:59
Microsoft patches security vulnerability in three days

Who cares about tens and hundreds of security holes that make the computers dangerous to the users - just as long as the DRM keeps running.

Bruce Schneier writes:

If you really want to see Microsoft scramble to patch a hole in its software, don't look to vulnerabilities that impact countless Internet Explorer users or give intruders control of thousands of Windows machines. Just crack Redmond's DRM.

...

Last week, a hacker developed an application called FairUse4WM that strips the copy protection from Windows Media DRM 10 and 11 files. Now, this isn't a "vulnerability" in the normal sense of the word: digital rights management is not a feature that users want. Being able to remove copy protection is a good thing for some users, and completely irrelevant for everyone else. No user is ever going to say: "Oh no. I can now play the music I bought for my computer in my car. I must install a patch so I can't do that anymore."

But to Microsoft, this vulnerability is a big deal. It affects the company's relationship with major record labels. It affects the company's product offerings. It affects the company's bottom line. Fixing this "vulnerability" is in the company's best interest; never mind the customer.

So Microsoft wasted no time; it issued a patch three days after learning about the hack. There's no month-long wait for copyright holders who rely on Microsoft's DRM. This clearly demonstrates that economics is a much more powerful motivator than security.

Wednesday, 06-Sep-06 19:29
NFC a hit in US, says pilot

Well, sometimes introducing new technology sounds deceptively easy. In a pilot between Atlanta Spirit, Chase, Cingular, Nokia, NXP, Visa USA and Vivotech, 150 people were given NFC -enabled cell phones, which they could then use to pay for things, use as tickets, access information, download media, etc, and people really seemed to genuinely like it.

Key findings include:
  • Trial participants overwhelmingly embraced the technology and expressed that the mobile device and applications significantly improved their arena experience
  • Data usage increased during game days; trial participants used their NFC-enabled mobile device more frequently to search for and purchase digital content

(The whole article can be found in Contactless News.)

I like NFC. It's a good, solid technology with plenty of applications, which hold a promise of making the life of the users easier. Not everything, mind you (it's not the fabled silver bullet - that one is still in the labs), but for some things it's just perfect. And it feels so natural, once you get the hang of it.

I guess that this is where we see whether the mobile industry learned from the WAP catastrophy, and will refrain from pushing technology over substance. There's plenty of both in NFC, and it'll be interesting to see how the whole thing gets marketed.

(The standard disclaimers about me working for Nokia apply.)

Tuesday, 05-Sep-06 14:27
Tired of Wow

No, I'm not yet tired of World of Warcraft, though that was my immediate association when I read Niko's great post about wow. He has good points: "WOW" without substance is, well, short-lived.

I think that everything needs a bit of "wow" in order to work, because that's the crucial element in getting people to use your thing. But still, you need real beef. It's gotta look good, taste good and be nourishing.

Tuesday, 05-Sep-06 12:53
The killer application of mobile phones

Mobilecrunch reminds us what the most important application of mobile phones is.

Monday, 04-Sep-06 19:02
Breaking privacy

Finland has one of the strongest legislations concerning employee privacy. Now there have been requests from corporations that it should be broken. Not much, but just enough so that they would have the right to read who is sending email to whom (but not the contents of the message). The reason stated is that the corporations need to supervise their email traffic to cut down on industrial espionage.

The whole thing puzzles me. Many people have pointed out that most spies would just smuggle the data out on a USB memory card, or use the photocopier. You cannot stop that without instigating physical searches at doors. Also, it could not possibly be extended to free web-based email accounts, so that would not have much effect that way either.

On the other hand, corporations do already have the right to view the addressee of your regular mail - because the address is stamped on the back of the envelope. They can install a camera in your office, but they can't pinpoint it at you. They can read your email if you're disabled or on vacation (and they have good reason to believe that it's important for the company). It's questionable whether spam filtering is allowed: On the other hand, it's totally automatic, and untouched by human hands (so no "reading" of email occurs). On the other hand, someone could take spam filtering software (like spamassassin, and train it to recognize possible information leaks - or private emails. Not possible? Perhaps not now, but certainly feasible in the close future. Some companies have already blocked web mails, encrypted hard drives, and disabled USB ports, leaving email as the only feasible way to share secrets. Is it a surprise that they want to control that channel, too?

One argument is that the new law would only harmonize the different message bearers: the ability to read sender and recipient from email is the same as phone bill with phone numbers itemized, or looking at the sender and recipient information of regular mail. Currently, email is the bastion you can't touch, no matter how much you would like to do it.

The problems, of course, arrive when you realize the potential of mass-scanning of email - something which you could not do with regular mail. If it were possible to scan the header data of email from and to the entire corporation, you could very quickly determine who talks to whom. This could then be used to profile the employees, and that data then used to determine things like loyalty, potential risk, and so on. Internally, within the company, it could be used to determine possibly useful things like "which unit talks most to HR", or "in which site there are most health problems".

One of the things that the new law proposal might give a tool for is the notion of accidental leaks. Sometimes people send files or other things for which they have no right for. They might do this because they need to get their job done regardless of the means, or they're just thoughtless. But that is hard to determine without actually peeking into the contents of the message.

There is certainly a slipperly slope here, and one needs to consider carefully before trying to climb it down. Would the law be used for evil? Corporations profiling their employees to get rid of unsuitable material? Perhaps - but other laws will make that difficult. Will slips happen, and companies getting too greedy? Inevitably. Does it reduce employee's privacy? In some cases, yes. Is it against the Finnish Constitution? Well...

I know I am supposed, as a privacy advocate, to condemn this to the lowest point of Hell. But for some reason I find it rather hard. The reasons quoted for this proposal are too simplistic; too unrealistic. I also find it rather incredulous that corporations would have more power than the police to monitor email - but on the other hand, it is their email, and corporations have both a right and a duty to protect their assets. If you make an invention on company time, using company tools, performing company duties, then it's the company's idea, too. So says the law.

So far, I've found the discussion (and I am basing this writing on whatever I could find from the media archives and blogs - I was not able to find the original paper; nobody links to it and I gave up trying to navigate through governmental web pages (who's the moron designing those anyway?)) a rather hard-to-follow strawman argumentation. Without clear knowledge of what exactly is being suggested I find myself unable to form a good opinion on this.

It's just a bit too complicated.

Friday, 01-Sep-06 08:22
Wikipedia to remove editing restrictions

The media has been telling us that Wikipedia is going to add more editing restrictions to prevent vandalism, and becoming less and less open. Jimmy "Jimbo" Wales, the founder of Wikipedia explains that the media, as so often is the case with new digital world, has the whole story backwards:

The new feature will allow the community, using the same sorts of procedures and norms that we have used for years to determine semi-protection and protection status, to flag certain versions of articles as "non-vandalized", and these versions are what will be shown to users who are not logged in. The feature will be tested in the normal manner of all new features at Wikipedia, with a simple quiet introduction and a period of testing and evaluation within the community.

We expect the following benefits from this innovation:

  • Wikipedia will be more wiki than ever, in the sense that for the first time in years, we expect that nearly ALL pages will be open to editing by ANYONE, even non-logged-in users. This means the almost complete elimination of the editing restrictions we have been forced to have for years.

It certainly sounds interesting. If that works, maybe we should implement a similar thing for JSPWiki?

(BTW, in case you are tracking JSPWiki progress, the CVS just landed the ~WikiWizard WIKIWYG editor. Expect a new, final beta, RSN.)

Thursday, 31-Aug-06 15:12
Kaivathan koekaniinia

Oletko web 2.0 -kaniini? Käytätkö aktiivisesti Flickriä, last.fm:ää, Frappria? Teetkö itse omia Google Maps mashuppeja? Vedätkö menestyvää verkkoyhteisöä? Kehitätkö (tai haluaisit kehittää) uusia internetpalveluita? Bloggaatko niin että hitaampia heikottaa? Vietätkö iltasi korjaten Wikipediasta virheitä? Onko elämäsi verkossa yhtä tärkeä kuin sen ulkopuolella?

Jos tunnistat ylläolevasta itsesi (tekninen tietämys on bonus, mutta ei mitenkään välttämätöntä), ja olet 18-30 -vuotias pääkaupunkiseudulla asuva luonnollinen henkilö, niin Etnoteam saattaisi haluta haastatella juuri sinua. Käy ilmoittautumassa käytettävyystutkimukseen osoitteessa http://www.etnoteam.fi/tutkimus/. Laita lisätietoihin neljä palvelua, joihin lisäät materiaalia aktiivisimmin.

(For English speakers: I'm just helping out a friend here to find Web2.0 -people for an interview. Carry on.)

Tuesday, 29-Aug-06 16:59
Wikicreole.org is live!

One of the major achievements of the ~WikiSym conference was that a bunch of us agreed to do at least something to the ~WikiMarkupMess - you know the one where each and every wiki has their own special syntax?

Well, the idea is to become a bit more visitor -friendly: Wikis should provide an easy-to-use markup which is the same across wikis, so it would be easier to contribute to a random wiki. We agreed on the basic syntax at ~WikiSym, and the work is now live at http://www.wikicreole.org.

The idea is not to replace or diminish the markup that expert users are used to, but to provide a "friendlier" version. Which, I think, is a good goal: there's a lot Wikis still need to do to become more friendly. WYSIWYG is probably the eventual goal, but implementing it is very complicated and error-prone.

Sunday, 27-Aug-06 19:55
AAAAARGH

One of the more most infuriating things in open source is when you realize that you've hit a problem that appears in only one installation, yet it works perfectly in all other installations. You tweak and tweak and try to figure out what is different between configurations, and just can't figure it out.

So, you think about emailing the author and asking WTF is going on, and realize that you are the author.

Saturday, 26-Aug-06 12:23
Drop an iPod, go to jail

This bizarre story describes how a man drops an iPod in the airplane toilet, and ends up being suspected of terrorism.

I waited in total silence for about 10 minutes as he kept searching and searching, until I finally asked him, "What are you looking for?"

"Contraband," he said without looking up at me.
"Such as?"
"Child pornography, hate propaganda."
"Child porn I can understand, that's illegal. But hate propaganda is protected speech."
Now he looked up. "What country do you think you're in?"
"Oh, it's illegal in Canada?"
"I honestly don't know. But that doesn't matter. I get to decide what goes in this country. Do you have a problem with that?"
I paused for a long time while I thought about what I should say to this. "Yes."
"Yes, you do have a problem?"
"Yes, I do. If it's illegal in Canada I'll understand, but saying 'I don't want it in my country' isn't good enough when you're a government official."

(via can't remember anymore...)

Saturday, 26-Aug-06 12:15
Windows Media DRM cracked

So says Engadget. Interestingly, apparently nobody cares. It's too easy to already get all the music that you want, and if you need it un-DRM'd, you just burn it on a CD and re-rip it.

However, I have to say that the availability of that tool makes it more appealing to use non-iTunes music shops, since it means that I could play the purchased music on my Mac and move it to my iPod...

Friday, 25-Aug-06 16:29
Apples ain't too green, says Greenpeace

Greenpeace has published their new Guide to green electronics. Nothing much new here; I'm glad to see that Nokia is doing pretty well. But I am disappointed to see Motorola and Apple scraping the (dirty) mud. Apple scores 2.7 out of 10, well below the average. The commentary is pretty devastating:

"For a company that claims to lead on product design, Apple scores badly on almost all criteria. The company fails to embrace the precautionary principle, withholds its full list of regulated substances and provides no timelines for eliminating toxic polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and no commitment to phasing out all uses of brominated flame retardants (BFRs). Apple performs poorly on product take back and recycling, with the exception of reporting on the amounts of its electronic waste recycled."

This is no way to conduct long-term business. Apple has and is constantly building a very strong brand, and as we all know, brands can come and go in a wink. Maybe they'll get away with this for a while, but I hope not. If you're an Apple user, you should go and tell them what you think about their policies. Hopefully they hear their users. Assuming, that is, that the users care.

(Thanks to Jarno for finding this.)

Update: Just out of interest I submitted this story to Slashdot, Macrumors and I also dugg it. Slashdot rejected it, Macrumors is saying nothing, and there are incredible No InterWiki reference defined in properties for Wiki called '12 diggshttp'!)... At least The Unofficial Apple Weblog is covering the story.

Thursday, 24-Aug-06 19:21
Good to be back

Woke up at 2.30 am. Walked to train station. Slept on the train to Copenhagen. Got to airport two hours early. Went through check-in and security in 8 minutes. Wrote a 20-slide presentation. Fell asleep in airplane while leaning on hand. Woken up by drool dripping into sleeve and rolling down the arm. Took a taxi to the head office. Gave the said 20-slide presentation. Maybe managed to stay coherent. Cannot remember. Took a taxi back home. Hugged Outi. Collapsed on the sofa. Ate. Talked. Blogging.

Remember: A wiki is like Soylent Green: it's made of people.

Wednesday, 23-Aug-06 10:16
Managing programmers is like herding cats

I was so reminded of that old saying at the wikimarkup standard workshop... But luckily someone gets it, too! Thanks to Chuck :)

Tuesday, 22-Aug-06 17:50
It's all just in your mind

See for yourself.

(Thanks to Outi.)

Tuesday, 22-Aug-06 12:15
At Wikisym

WikiSym is an interesting conference. It's not very big, but it has certainly great spirit! I was totally wasted after yesterday from all the energy and enthusiasm (and the fact that I did company email until two in the morning). It's got a lot of big ~WikiNames from the industry, but I am rather surprised to see how few of the commercial wiki companies are bothering with these conferences - SocialText probably being the only one with any representation. Where's Atlassian? Where are the German companies who're integrating Wikis in their software (I know you're out there)? There are no people from Microsoft, IBM, Sun or other big companies that are using Wikis in their everyday life.

Are wikis that uninteresting to the people who use and develop them?

Blogger conferences are ripe with people who are trying to figure out ways to make money out of them or how to better apply them in their own work. Maybe that is the reason why blogs are far more popular out there (55 million public blogs vs 3000 public Wikis are the numbers I've heard) - they attract far more the kind of self-obsessed, greedy entrepreneurs that make the world go around. Blogs feed on the only two infinite natural resources: greed and ego - wikis don't score high on either chart.

There is a lot of talk about usability issues on wikis here. However, even that discussion is largely technical - whether WYSIWYG is better than WikiMarkup, do we need the WikiMarkup at all, etc. Unfortunately, I see no designers, UI experts, graphic artists, or anyone with an inkling of an experience in the field of user experience here - only a bunch of geeks discussing what they believe that the average user wants. This usually leads to great technical innovation, but it won't really work. Fortunately, there are a bunch of teachers here, who're keeping the discussion from going too technical. That's exactly what the "wiki community" needs, in my opinion: more regular people who're applying wikis to their everyday life and problems, and can feed that information back to the wiki developers. Wikis are a geek tool, primarily, yes, but so were the blogs originally. Maybe it's time to step out of the bounds?

Sunday, 20-Aug-06 12:29
On roaming charges

Oh, by the way, I checked how much it's going to cost to use data traffic while I am in Denmark. Cheapest price is 8.18 €/MB, the most expensive is TDC Mobil at 14.82 €/MB. So, making an average synchronization of my work Outlook email (guess a couple of Powerpoints at 2 MB/piece; and a bunch of other emails for a 5MB total, and syncing usually moves about double the amount) would cost the company about 80 - 150 euros. A week of traveling could easily result in a bill of a thousand euros.

Cell roaming is insanely and outrageously expensive. Any WLAN is cheaper, no matter how expensive it might feel to pay 30 euros / day - but that's for unlimited data.

Sunday, 20-Aug-06 12:09
Finncon visit

Hey, there's a Totoro behind you!
Yesterday, I managed to clock a few hours in Finncon, the biggest European Science Fiction / Fantasy convention (according to their website anyway). I heard that they were expecting 6000 visitors - partly due to the fact that the AnimeCon was at the same time at the same premises. Too bad the fire safety limit of the venue, Paasitorni, is around 3500 people. So the place was totally packed, hot, and smelly, and if you left, you couldn't get back in until you had queued for a while, as they were letting people in only after others had left. All seminars were so overbooked, that they filled up about 20 minutes before the previous program was even finished.

So, the end result was that I and many others spent the afternoon outside, drinking beer at the adjacent terrace restaurant. Wa-hey. But, as some seasoned con-goer pointed out, that is, ultimately, the deeper Finncon experience anyway.

What I found somewhat ironic was that I realized that a role-playing convention such as Ropecon - considered by many to be the ultimate freak show - looked downright conservative compared to the average Finncon participant. Now, I like Gothic Lolitas and furries as much as the next guy (not to mention Totoro), but, you know, too much is just too much. (Flickr has some pictures).

Friday, 18-Aug-06 12:25
Free art? No way, kiddo

Apparently, the 12-year old singer Amy Thomas was banned from a school-oriented music chart, because her record label does not support BPI's stance on file sharing. The record label is running a petition, which says evil things like: "The music industry is a creative industry that should be exploring ways to earn money for its artists from p2p, not using the destructive force of litigation."

So, apparently the game is "if you're not with us, you're against us."

This reminds me - I had a weird-o-dream last night. Four angry musicians broke into my apartment and threatened me and my life because they had heard that I don't support DRM, "and therefore I want them to starve". They also wanted to break some of my things to compensate for the loss of sales they face due to file sharing. After a long discussion (during which I nearly cut one up with a sword I keep handy) we ended up amicably on my couch eating chips and watching Babylon 5.

(Via Boing boing. Of course, this could all be a marketing trick, considering that her target audience is exactly the kind of people who would get worked up on something like this.)

Update: BPI says it's not true.

Friday, 18-Aug-06 01:01
Macbook update

Software Update has a new update, "SMC Macbook Firmware Updater", which apparently will change your Macbook fan parameters so that the laptop will run cooler, though it will also make more noise. So at least Apple is acknowledging the issue. I'm not sure if it makes my Macbook run cooler (using the entirely subjective hand-under-the-laptop -test), but at least it gives the impression of trying to work harder at cooling itself.

(By the way, it was a delight to be at Aula and meet all the people, especially Niko and Matt. Hopefully a video of the talk will be available in the future.)

Tuesday, 15-Aug-06 15:52
Matt Biddulph at Helsinki HTC on Thursday

From Ulla-Maaria:

You're welcome to the next Aula Talk on open data movement by Matt Biddulph. Time and place: Thursday August 17th at 18:00, Helsinki Institute for Information Technology (HIIT), 6th floor, Pinta-building, High Tech Center (HTC), Ruoholahti, Tammasaarenkatu 3, Helsinki

"Open data movement – the next wave of open source"

The Wikipedia is only the tip of the iceberg of information that is becoming freely accessible on the internet. Following the success of open source, an open data movement is occurring online that seeks to gather, publish and enable the reuse of rich machine-readable datasets - like all programs ever broadcasted by the BBC.

By opening up these wellsprings of information, which were previously only accessible to large institutions, the open data movement has unleashed a new wave of creativity on the Web. Programmers, students, and companies are building mashups by overlaying photos, blog posts, and other objects to open datasets like the BBC Programme Catalogue, Wikipedia, Open Streetmap, and Thinglink.

As a case in point, Biddulph will describe how the BBC's database of programming from the 1950s to the present day was transformed from an internal green-screen application to a public Web 2.0 service using Ruby on Rails. Expect to see some playful examples of what you could do with it and other open datasets.

Monday, 14-Aug-06 16:57
Next week, Denmark

By the way, I'll be participating on a workshop on http://ws2006.wikisym.org/space/Workshop%3e%3eWiki+Markup+Standard creating a Wiki Markup Standard next week at WikiSym in Odense, Denmark. Feel free to poke me, if you see me around. I have a hat. I was going to print some JSPWiki T-shirts, but it sort of... well, I was lazy, okay?

I just learned that I will be sharing the stage with Ward Cunningham, the father of Wikis. Egad!

My position is simple: The current wiki markup mess is alienating lots of good people. I am interested in grabbing some low-hanging fruits to unify the markups or otherwise ease users' life. I know WYSIWYG will be the answer eventually, but that is neither a fruit, nor does it hang particularly low. In the mean time, we should be able to do something. There does not need to be a single WikiMarkup for all purposes, but the basic things should be similar enough from wiki to wiki, so that the users don't have to use their cognitive storage to keep remembering trivia like what was bold today. While the technologically adept have a knack for that, it's still a waste of perfectly good braincells. And confusing as heck to anyone who does not share that knack.

Monday, 14-Aug-06 16:09
Happy Near Field News

First of all, the first four specifications have been released by the NFC Forum. They cover the common data formats and a couple of applications, but they don't unfortunately cover the whole stack yet (e.g. how do you actually put the data on a tag). In addition, things like how to add metadata to a basic URL are sorely missing. Well, I'm very hopeful that it's all gonna be in the next batch of released specs. ;-)

Second, I got an NFC paper accepted to NordicCHI! It's short, and it's just a position paper for a workshop, but it made me feel good.

Slow moves, Ellie. Slow moves.

Sunday, 13-Aug-06 00:30
Ropecon, engines, and shit

Just returned from the 'con, and realized that I'm in a mood to reflect upon my life over a beer with friends, but darned it, I just got back and I can't be bothered to cycle back to Dipoli...

Ropecon is great because you see friends you don't otherwise see. But people grow and change, and every year the experience seems to be more and more shallow, and I feel more and more like an outsider. I don't even really play games during the weekend, (though that has always been so), but I like the talks and the general atmosphere too much to skip the thing.

A particularly brilliant presentation on the highlights of the Nordic LARP scenes and 360 "immersion" by "Joc" Koljonen made me realize that my gamemastering and playing style is pretty much stuck in 1995. And, cycling home, I also understood that it is because I haven't really put any effort into it - it's as good as it's going to get, unless I really work on it. And that goes to a lot of things in my life. I have a tendency to start new things, work on them as long as my natural abilities reach, and when it comes down to really working hard on something, the wind just goes away, and I limp along for a while before letting it go.

Now that I look around, I see that I have a lot of things that I could do better - from cleaning the desk to working more on JSPWiki. At this moment, I don't have anything that I would be really putting effort to. Something - anything - that I would really want to work my ass off for. Not even at work, because even if I believe in and like my work, there are enough naysayers to discourage even the most stubborn and brilliant person. After a few years of banging your head against a wall, you just sort of stop caring, grab a couple of painkillers and leave the wall alone. And then it becomes "just work".

I feel like an idling engine.

Or maybe I am just a lazy asshole.

Sunday, 13-Aug-06 00:07
Notes from Star Wreck

My notes from Samuli Torssonen, Timo Vuorensola and Jarmo Puskala (the crew behind Star Wreck:

  • 4M downloads
  • DVD sales top-10 in Finland (without advertising, direct web site and convention sales only)
  • Active fan community participated in making, hundreds of extras were recruited on the net
  • Subtitling currently to over 20 languages (incl. klingon)
  • Internet is different from DVD, theatres or TV because it is not tied to locality (local distribution agreements), time nor the ownership of physical copies, all of which are limitations on distribution.
  • Net distribution means that you can have your target audience all over the world; therefore more possibilities to do niche stuff
  • Internet community generates and amplifies ideas
  • Star Wreck, the roleplaying game: two months development time, released under a CreativeCommons license
Saturday, 12-Aug-06 16:04
Notes from Kenneth Hite's speech

Just some quick jots (mobile keypad):

  • Roleplaying market is 20-40 Million dollars (very tiny
  • Only viable model in future is small press printing (get books to bookstores, not gaming stores), but it's a hard road
  • gaming stores are dying out.
  • Electronic sales (pdf) market is already 10%, growing
  • microtargeting, 1000 customers is enough, but you must know them
  • print-on-demand is pretty darned good, and getting better
  • the ones who realize change first win, no matter how crummy your other production values might be (example: chaosium)
Friday, 11-Aug-06 15:40
Ropecon!

Ropecon, the big, beautiful roleplaying convention is back and it's on right now here in beautiful Espoo!

I'll be there most of my waking hours this weekend, and join fellow geeks and nerdlings in this great event. If you pass by the info counter, say hi - I'll be there tonight between 23-03 and on Sunday morning as well.

Thursday, 10-Aug-06 15:46
No more anything in planes

UK is now forbidding any hand luggage in airplanes. Only wallets, passports, tickets, medicines, glasses, sanitary items and some keys allowed.

Pretty heavy stuff, and since it also means that high-paying business travellers can't carry their laptops or secret documents, it may mean a big loss in revenue.

Also, imagine flying a long flight in coach with twenty kids around you who didn't get to bring their toys. Boredom in a narrow tube - what fun!

Update: as an afterthought: won't this kill tax-free sales at the airport, too?

Tuesday, 08-Aug-06 18:07
OSX Leopard goes Wiki

Everyone's probably sitting in their doodoo already over the excitement of the new Apple OSX Leopard, aka. OSX 10.5, but what I found to be interesting is that they have integrated a wiki server in OSX Server.

Maybe this is the time that Wikis start hitting mainstream?

Monday, 07-Aug-06 09:45
Share your books

How does peer-to-peer apply to physical objects? John Buckman, who runs the premiere record label Magnatune has launched BookMooch, a place where you can share your used books with other people all over the world.

The idea is simple: you type in the books you want to share. People can then ask for a particular book, and when you mail that book to them, you earn points, which you can then redeem by asking books from others. They also keep a "reputation" score, just like eBay, to weed out the fraudsters. You can even donate your points to charity!

Our goal is to make more use out of all books, to help keep books from becoming unavailable. The worst thing that can happen to a book is for no-one to be able to read it.

I like these kinds of ideas a lot. I am probably a bit too lazy to participate, but I love books, and I certainly agree with the sentiment above.

(Via Joi.)

Sunday, 06-Aug-06 10:26
Imagining the tenth dimension

The physicist in me (yes, I have a dark and complex hidden history as one) loves this flash animation on the ten dimensions we might be living in. It's a well-performed explanation that does not require you to have an advanced physics degree to comprehend - just basic curiosity on life, the universe, and everything.

Thanks to Clive Thompson. Read his blog, it's good.

Hannu points out in the comments that the flash animation does not agree with the current theories on string theory, and throws in M-theory as well. I can only defend myself saying that when I was a physicist, the string theory was still considered something only found in bad wannabe Italian restaurants that serve overcooked spaghetti.

Tuesday, 01-Aug-06 17:48
Cutting down on the habit

Today, for the first time in a long, long time, I managed to cut down my blog feed list to under 100. I've realized that I actually have to close Bloglines window completely if I want to get anything done, because otherwise I'll keep flicking back and forth to see if anything new has arrived - but thanks to my totally corroded brain, it's "out of sight, out of mind". There are advantages to being harebrained, you know...

Sunday, 30-Jul-06 20:18
Some initial Macbook experiences

So, I got my badly overdue Macbook on Friday, and so far the overall experience has been positive. It's not as heavy as I feared (my old one is a 12" Powerbook), and the new display is simply gorgeous. Finally I can use it outdoors at full sunlight with no problems.

However, I had considerable trouble trying to migrate my data from my old computer. You see, I had managed to create a couple of files in iTunes which had random characters in their names, and it turns out that these files cannot be opened nor copied. The nasty bit being that Migration Assistant read dutifully for an hour, and then died at this random MP3 file - deleting everything it had moved so far from my home directory. So I had to run it again, and move the 40 -odd gigs of stuff yet again...

The fun thing about those files is that they can't be deleted either. You simply can't get rid of them. The only thing that works is that you copy (with cp -Rp) the directory which contains these files, then you need to remove the old directory (with rm -rf). You will end up with one directory which cannot be removed, because it's still not empty. You move that directory to /tmp/, and then rename the directory you copied to the original name.

In the end the only way I could do this was to do this whole process to my entire iTunes Music library. Which took a bit of a while. Then I ran the Migration Assistant again, and hey! It worked perfectly.

Other than that, the experience has been relatively smooth. VLC still does not run reliably, and World of Warcraft could be faster (but it's entirely playable, if you don't use the highest settings). Compilation on this beast is nice and fast - and it looks pretty cool too. The Macbook is clearly quieter than the old Powerbook, but my guess is that the Macbook's fans don't start turning so easily (i.e. it lets the computer run hotter). The Superdrive still sounds like it dies every time you insert/eject a CD, but then again, the only time it failed on me it was nice and quiet, so I'm welcoming the noise.

I've not yet found that it would run overly hot. Yes, if I really push it, then it does get hot, but I can actually hold it in my lap while I type this (I'm testing Parallels in the background, so there's some activity). Not that I would recommend it to anyone wishing to breed later on, though.

(Oh, and by the way, there should be a law against getting sick while on holidays.)

Wednesday, 26-Jul-06 13:16
DRM not really that bad for consumers?

David Robinson has an interesting tidbit of information. Supposedly, the new Microsoft music store (Zune) will scan user's iTunes library, and buy all the iTunes-purchased music from the MS store at Microsoft's expense. Simply speaking this means that the DRM lock-in value has vanished for Apple, since it will be trivial to start using MS's store instead. You lose no music.

But now it seems that it may actually be easy as pie for any iTunes user to leave the Apple platform. The cost of the Zune player, which will presumably be exclusive to the Zune music service just as the iPod is to iTunes, is a significant factor, but given that reliability issues require users to replace iPods frequently, buying a new player doesn’t actually change the cost equation for a typical user over the long run.

What are the lessons here? Personally, I feel like I underestimated the power of the market to solve the possible problems raised by DRM. It appears that the “lock in” phenomenon creates a powerful incentive for competitors to invest heavily in acquiring new users, even to the point of buying them out.

And, of course, since it does not delete the original, you will end up with two copies of the same music (except with different DRM). This makes the life of the consumer easier, since they don't have to be reliant on a single music provider any more. I would not be surprised if a similar deal became suddenly available from Apple.

Tuesday, 25-Jul-06 19:51
Verkkokakkonen

So, Jyri and me decided to throw ourselves into the Web 2.0 bandwagon with our new podcast. Lots of weird Finnish/English mixed chitchat will be abound shortly. Enjoy.

Wednesday, 19-Jul-06 12:34
India censoring web sites?

Hmmm... India has now joined the "the internet is bad for you, mmmmkay" fray and started to censor evil web sites, such as blogs.

Anil Saxena of Spectranet confirmed that the list sent by the DoT contained names of particular blogs, but added that Blogspot as a whole had not been blocked. This is contrary to the experience of customers like Dwivedi, who are still unable to view sites hosted on Blogspot, in addition to those on Typepad and Yahoo!'s Geocities. "The list is confidential and I can't make it public," said Saxena.

The question beckons: Why? Why are some blogs blocked and why are others not? What would a democratic government be afraid of?

(Via Slashdot.)

Update: Rediff lists the sites that are blocked. It would appear that the banning criteria is that some those sites are critical (or downright offensive) of Islam. Or, like in one case, a defunct girl's journal.

Wednesday, 19-Jul-06 12:11
Macbook new revision?

I succumbed to the temptation, and ordered myself a spanking new MacBook last month. However, the estimated shipping date passed - even the estimated delivery date passed. So I finally called them today and wanted to know why the ~MacBook is two weeks late.

The guy at the Apple Store said simply that production is revising materials - in some ~MacBooks, the covers can get discoloured, so they're changing the composition of the plastic to get rid of that problem. I also got the impression that they are revising the motherboard as well (though this was a bit unclear on the discussion). So maybe I won't be getting an infamous Rev. A. machine?

Apple could not give me an estimated shipping date, though. But this was probably one of the better reasons for a delay - I don't mind if I get a better machine. My ~PowerBook is still chugging along, but it's certainly starting to show its age...

Update, a couple of hours later: Well, what do you know? It now says "shipped" on my order. Maybe they bumped me up in a queue or something... There is, however, a question of keyboard - for some reason my computer was ordered with an UK keyboard, and I had to call in to remedy it. I just hope the French sales guy understood what I wanted...

Friday, 14-Jul-06 23:12
Jaiku, social software for your phone, launches

Jaiku, a software which integrates your Nokia phone book with presence and social information has been launched.

This is just a heads-up - I don't have a S60 2nd edition phone I could test it on; my phone runs only on 3rd edition. If you guys have a 3rd ed beta program, I'd be happy to contribute... ;-)

Thursday, 13-Jul-06 14:24
Streaming in Linux is illegal, says EU

Tietoja koneesta -blog linked to an article in Helsingin Sanomat, in which it was complained that the citizens of EU are not interested in viewing media streams from EU meetings. Of course, nobody knew of such a possibility, because EU PR department is not very good at their work. Therefore it's a bit of a stretch to say that people are not interested.

If you are interested, here's the link to the service.

Here's the fun bit. Look at the FAQ. They say (emphasis mine):

On which platforms can I view the live streaming media service of the Council of the European Union?

The live streaming media service of the Council of the European Union can be viewed on Microsoft Windows and Macintosh platforms. We cannot support Linux in a legal way. So the answer is: No support for Linux

WHAT?!? What do you mean "you can't support Linux in a legal way?" There are plenty of possibilities to do cross-platform streaming, starting with the Another Seattle Company called Real, who have been supporting Linux, Windows and Mac for ages. There are a gazillion different Flash players out there (which are really cool because they don't in general need any installation), and not to mention all sorts of open source options. Even using a standard such as MP4 or MPEG-2 would perfectly suffice for any and all Linux users, who have also legal ways to watch such streams.

Unfortunately, EU has chosen to use Windows Media, which is a proprietary standard, owned by the same company that EU is slapping a big fine on for being such a proprietary company. And yet, at the same time, they are supporting this proprietaryness by requiring everyone to use Windows Media, and giving the appearance that it is an only option, and it would be illegal for them to support Linux in any way.

Now, I know EU government is big and vast (and has its share of incompetent nincompoops), but this irony is still laughable.

(Besides, you can go and install Crossover, completely legally, and get the full Windows Media Player experience in Linux. So please.)

Wednesday, 12-Jul-06 12:32
Deviceless kitchen

I just realized something while eating breakfast: what happened to the "automated kitchen of the future"? In the sixties and seventies, the great dream of the future was to relieve the women from the kitchen by adding more machines that would do everything. From an automatic bread-slicer to a multi-function refridgerator which can order food when it's out, it was all there. In fact, the trend has been going on for years; with the automatic fridge being the dream of ubiquitous computing geeks for years now.

But what happened? A modern kitchen has a fridge, a microwave oven, a regular oven, a stove, and a couple of different mixers. And we still use lots of regular pots and pans and knives to prepare the food. Nothing fancy, just simple things.

And people are eating out 30% of the time (in the US), double the rate it was 30 years ago. There is not that much need for home automation anymore. In fact, I think there is great value in actually preparing your own food, and taking your time doing it.

Maybe all the dreams about the automated kitchen were created by lonely geeks, who had nobody to cook for them? I have lately grown a bit disillusioned about the whole concept of ubiquitous computing. We already have computers everywhere in the environment - just count the chips! Every single electronic item in your home has a chip of sorts, from the fridge to the vacuum cleaner to the DVD player, and have they made our life easier? They've certainly eased certain robotic work, but they have created other kinds of emotional complexities, from "what shall we watch" to "what is this bloody thing DOING!?!" It's not about making life easier, it's about shifting complexity from one aspect of life to some other aspect.

The cool thing about all that is that thanks to technology, you get to choose in what way to make your life complex, which is more than what the previous generations had. But it's not making your life easier.

People fill their lives with complexity: always trying to do more and more. Maybe it would be time to try and fill your life with simplicity?

Update: Finnish readers are suggested to read Jani's "Fatless Fat", too. Good thinking, as always.

Tuesday, 11-Jul-06 12:02
Evil advertising

Nainen ratissa writes (in Finnish) how TV has become her slave instead of her being a slave to the TV. All thanks to a PVR (a digital TV box which contains X Gigabytes of hard drive for recording shows), she can now watch her programming anytime, and she gets to skip all the commercials at the flick of a button. I think this is great! Freedom, at last!

Of course, the media industry thinks this is all evil and we should do exactly as they want. Following the well-known comments of Jamie Kellner, CEO of Turner Broadcasting, who thinks that skipping advertisements is stealing, now comes ABC, the producer of such TV shows as "Lost", who wants the fast forward button on PVRs to be disabled, so that people would be unable to skip commercials.

Note that DVD's already have this: quite a few DVD's I've seen lately (rented or purchased) have a long, "anti-piracy" propaganda clip in the front, which cannot be skipped or fast-forwarded, and it just keeps going and going and going... It's almost irritating enough that I've considered if I should rip the DVD to my hard drive just so that I wouldn't need to watch the bloody clip anymore.

It's not a long step to add something like this to the digital TV standards. In fact, it would be trivial, and the DVB consortium (i.e. the guys who developed the current European digital TV) is already working on such a specification called Content Protection and Copy Management. It can also do things such as prevent something from being recorded (unless you pay an extra fee), or say that you can only watch something once, and then it will get removed permanently and automatically, or prevent you from moving your recording outside of say, Finland (so your entire video library might cease to function, if you move).

Of course, thanks to the new copyright legislation in place in Finland and elsewhere in Europe, at some point in time it will probably be illegal to own a device which can fast-forward through commercials, because it would circumvent a content protection system. Assuming it all gets adopted by device manufacturers. Which it might, if the media lobby can turn the heads of a majority of MEPs...

Would somebody please think of the consumers as well?

(Do you see why I sometimes want to forget all about technology and become a sheep farmer in Scotland? Or New Zealand, that might be more interesting.)

Sunday, 09-Jul-06 22:31
Training woes and wonderings

I recently purchased a heart rate meter to track my progress and motivate myself. Interestingly, I hit a strange glass wall when discussing it with some people - mostly either fitness experts or medically trained people: they said that these meters are worthless, because fitness is such a complex thing and cannot be reduced to something as trivial as how much your heart beats per second as you are climbing up the last few hundred meters to your home.

But what strikes me odd that there have been quite a few medical and fitness experts probably designing these things. Is their expertise worth nothing? Could they all be wrong, and sacrificing their professional integrity on the altar of enlightened self-interest?

And most importantly, I'm a geek. If I am motivated to train more because I can watch my progress in Excel sheets and someone - even a tiny wristwatch computer - prompts me to go out there and do something, is that a bad thing? Should I feel bad because I am now exercising more - just because I am motivated by a thing with blinkenlichts?

Is this another case of computers invading a profession, undermining the white towers that have been so carefully erected over the years? For all their promises of making life simpler, they're certainly making the life complex for some people: the entertainment industry is struggling hard to keep their scarcity-based business models as digital media eliminates scarcity. The march of broadband is threatening traditional telephony, and old-school journalists write disdaining articles about bloggers and participatory journalism. Wikipedia is constantly under attacks from the publishing industry, and harsh words are being exchanged over patents and copyright.

Is medical technology something that will see the next revolution in user-created content? Call it "user-assisted diagnostics", if you will. Some of my doctor friends have told of cases where the patient knows more about their disease than the doctor, because they've been reading all the material they can get their hands on off the internet. Some of them detest it, because the patient has no medical training and should therefore be not messing with things they do not understand. I can understand that attitude, doctors are, after all, a very conservative bunch, and they know of all the things that can go wrong if you're hasty.

But when more and more simplified medical technology reaches the common man, will we see another big boom? What will be the mouse and the World Wide Web of the medical technology? What will push through the barrier and make people discuss "parameters of the human body", much like they discuss which web site gives the best discounts on flight tickets? Does a person have a right to diagnose and treat himself in any way he pleases, even if it goes against the recommendations of doctors?

I really have no idea. But I know that there will be lots of resistance and debate when that happens. The internet might be something that happens to other people, but messing with my body is personal.

(Blog tip: SchizoBlog. No, not the one you think, if you're Finnish. Thanks to Matt.)

Friday, 07-Jul-06 22:49
Holiday!

Holiday, vacation, loma... What wonderful words!

I may start posting more often, or way less. Or... who knows. I'm on vacation now. Ta-ta!

Wednesday, 05-Jul-06 16:51
E-series blog

Now this new e-series blog looks rather interesting and useful, if you happen to own any of the new Nokia E-Series phones (like E70, E61 or E60). Now, if I only could figure out who's writing that blog - the guy is very mysterious about his identity or affiliations. Makes you wonder...

Anyway, I'm certainly going to try and sync my E70 with my Mac, as described here. Did you also know that you can lock your phone remotely by yourself, if it's lost or stolen?

Wednesday, 05-Jul-06 10:14
Complaint Choir of Helsinki

There's something very, very Finnish in this song.

(Thanks to Younghee for the tip!)

Monday, 03-Jul-06 11:36
Spam is getting really targeted

Got this a couple of moments ago, and it nearly was caught in my spam trap (I use a Bayesian-trained Spamassassin with Razor, if anyone cares. No false positives, and only about 1% missed spam rate):

"Do not ignore me please, I found your email soamewhere and now decided to write you. I am coming to your place in few weaeks and thought we can meet each other. Let me know if you do not mind. I am a nice pretty girl. aDon't reply to this email. Email me adireclty at muwk@xxx.com"

...right. Darling, if your sender email address starts with "rvxcgyijw@", then you are more likely to be a bot than a real person. Now, I like tech porn as much as any geek, but sorry, spam bots just don't do it for me.

In the mean time, go relive some of the giggliest moments of your youth with the 50 worst video game titles 3v4h. (Thanks to Falla for the link.)

Sunday, 02-Jul-06 21:09
Two years

It's been two years now from a perfect moment (the blog entry is dated on July 4th, but that's only because we were, erm, busy.) I still remember how excited, scared, giddy and anxious it all made me feel.

Sorry for getting mushy again. I promise to become a hardcore technologist again next week. ;-)

Friday, 30-Jun-06 08:56
odorPod!

Collision Detection (great name!) writes about a device that can record smells, currently being developed at the Tokyo Institute of Technology.

I can't even begin to imagine the copyright problems with that one... Will there be armed guards frisking you at the door when entering ~McDonalds so that you can't steal their signature smell and use it in your own burger joint?

(Yeah, it's Friday.)

Thursday, 29-Jun-06 20:55
Developer feedback

My first name sounds feminine in many languages, so on occasion people get confused as to my sexuality. Which sometimes leads to fun situations with hotel clerks scrambling to change my reservation when I introduce myself. (I wonder whether they remove or add something in the room.)

You might know that I am an open source developer. I get a lot of emails from users. Most of them are nice, some of them are incomprehensible, and a few of them have really made me scratch my head. Like the one I received a few days ago: Someone felt obliged to tell me that they stopped using JSPWiki, because they found out that I am a man. Apparently woman-made wikis are better in some respect which I cannot fathom.

Oh well. "Nice" to be on this end of the stick for a change.

Thursday, 29-Jun-06 11:02
Google Authentication launches

Now this is rather interesting... Google launches Google Account Authentication, which allows you to use Google's user database for authentication in your own web apps. I.e. if an user has a Google account, like GMail, they can use that password to access your web app.

This is exactly what Microsoft did with their ill-fated Passport, which seems to have fallen into disuse except in Hotmail... It will be interesting to see whether Google will be treated in the same way as Microsoft was.

I see immediately some uses for this e.g. with spam protection on blogs and wikis. However, in a way that eerily reminds me of the fight against terrorism and civil liberties being sacrificed in that arena, wouldn't giving identity federation to a single company just to combat spam - the terrorism of the blogosphere - be a tad over the top?

Thursday, 29-Jun-06 10:40
Boten Anna

Everybody's probably aware of this already, but in case you ain't... Basshunter's Boten Anna, a song about an IRC channel and it's overguard bot is now #2 on the Swedish single list.

A Karaoke version + subtitles in multiple languages are available as well. And it's very, very catchy. In fact, it's one of those things that will simply run around in your head like a lost bird in a sports hall...

(How geeky can you get? "Hon kan banna dig so hårt...")

Wednesday, 28-Jun-06 16:59
Aamulehti lainailee blogeja, mutta onko se luvallista?

(Sorry for Finnish content; local copyright issues yet again.)

Lyhyessä ajassa suosikikseni noussut Viides rooli kertoilee yrityksistään selvittää Aamulehden tapaa lainailla blogeja viikkoliitteeseensä, sitaattioikeuden rajoja hivotellen. Kannattaa vilkuilla ja käydä kommentoimassa siellä.

Onko blogi kokonaisuus, ja merkinnän lainaaminen vain sitaatti; vai onko yhdenkin merkinnän kopiointi jo ongelma? Monellehan tällä ei ole väliä, koska bloggaus on vain harrastus, mutta bloggaavia ammattilaisia tämä voi hyvinkin siepata sydämenpohjasta. Suomessa on nykyään erinomaisia käsityöblogeja, joiden omistajia voisi korventaa melkoisesti, jos joku alkaisi lainata esimerkiksi vaivalla väsättyjä käsityöohjeita ja kuvia sanasta sanaan omaan kaupalliseen lehteensä "sitaatin" hengessä. (En nyt ota kantaa siihen, ovatko esim. koruohjeet tekijänoikeuslain tarkoittamia teoksia. Tietty tapa kertoa ohje kyllä todennäköisesti on...)

Lainaamisen selkeyttämiseksi suunnitellut CreativeCommons-lisenssit voivat ehkä jopa vaikeuttaa tilannetta, koska ne voivat antaa kuvan siitä, että sisältö olisi vapaasti käytettävissä kaikkiin tarkoituksiin. Näinhän ei useimmiten ole, ellei sitten kyseessä ole PD-lisenssi. Creative Commonsin idea on luoda helppo tapa antaa hieman enemmän oikeuksia kuin mitä kovin tiukaksi suunniteltu tekijänoikeuslaki muutoin antaisi - esimerkiksi vaikka oikeuden tehdä kopioita vapaasti, kunhan ei muuta tai käytä kaupallisesti (ns. Non-Commercial, Non-Derivative -lisenssi). Joka tapauksessa isoilla päivälehdillä on oma maineensa varjeltavana, joten en usko, että kovin kauheita ylilyöntejä tässä tapahtuu. Parempi vain, että hyvät kirjoittajat pääsevät esille ja kasvattavat omaa mainettaan... ja että hyvät mielipiteet pääsevät esille. Tässäkin on mielestäni parempi suojella yhteiskunnallista keskustelua ja yleistä sananvapautta kuin yksittäisen kirjoittajan hypoteettista tulonmenetystä.

Minua jutussa lähinnä korpeaa se, että Aamulehden verkkopainoksen ilmaispuolella noita "Blogosfääri" ja "Verkossa" -palstoja ei ole. Jos siellä olisi lainaus ja linkkaus alkuperäiseen, niin sillä saattaisi bloggaaja saada edes lisää lukijoita... Symbioosi on parempi kuin loiselämä, nääs.

Tuesday, 27-Jun-06 16:09
NFC Joint Venture formed

From the Nokia press release:

"Munich, Germany and Helsinki, Finland - Giesecke & Devrient (G&D), the world's second largest producer of smart cards, and Nokia, a world leader in mobile communications, today announced an agreement with intent to form a joint venture. Giesecke & Devrient will own 57 and Nokia 43 percent of the new company. The joint venture will provide services to the NFC ecosystem by enabling consumer applications, such as credit cards or transport tickets, to be securely and easily downloaded over-the-air to NFC enabled mobile devices. Over-the-air management of the consumer applications is a critical part for the emerging NFC ecosystem, and the joint venture will work closely together with other stakeholders when bringing these services to the market."

Um. Maybe that's a bit of a mouthful. Simply put, it means that Nokia and G&D form a company which will develop solutions which allow you to put your credit card in your cell phone and use it for payment by simply waving it at the cash register, and invite others to join the party, too. Good things ensue: you can turn your credit card off, you can see directly from your cell phone what you have bought, and you don't need to carry that much stuff with you. The difficulty is getting the credit card into the phone, as there are quite a few players in the game who have their own view of how things should work: the credit card company, the bank, the operator, the mobile phone manufacturer, the user himself... You need someone to make it all click.

The downside of all this integration being, of course, that once you put everything in your cell phone (or shoe for that matter, though Nokia gave up shoe business a long time ago), losing it will cause you a bit more trouble than today.

But the thing is, some people like to cram everything into one device so that they don't need to carry everything they own, whereas others are happy with a bunch of different things - one thing should perform one function: a phone is a phone, a music player is a music player, a credit card is a credit card, and a shoe is a shoe. The problem is that at the moment the latter people are well catered for, the former ones not at all...

And yes, it's more complicated than that. And no, these guys are not alone at it. But I wish them good luck anyways.

I'm excited. Are you excited? Well, I am excited.

Tuesday, 27-Jun-06 10:17
Cashing Adsense Checks Is Worth Nothing?

Here's an interesting tidbit - Tuomas Rinta was trying to cash in a Google ~AdSense check, and it turns out his bank takes 85 € to turn it into hard currency. With today's exchange rate, that's about USD 107. Therefore, since Google sends your check at every $100, you'll end up with pieces of worthless paper in your hands...

I haven't hit that problem yet - I've had ads on this site for almost a year now, and so far haven't yet hit the first $100. (So as a method to get rich quick, ads on a website are not terribly good.)

Why checks are so expensive then? My guess is that it's because they're not used in this part of the world at all, and therefore handling them is a pain in the butt that the banks just don't want to deal with. No matter what the reason, I would recommend everyone with a Nordea account to put a tick in their "hold the payment" box until Google can do Electronic Fund Transfer to Finland. Unless, of course, you're making significant amounts of money from ~AdSense.

(That, or switch banks. But that's a huge hassle for mere 85€.)

Monday, 26-Jun-06 16:23
Software process management revisited

Forget Agile! Forget XP! The Waterfall Model is making the rounds again, and this time in the Waterfall 2006 conference, with such exciting topics as:

  • Pair Managing: Two Managers per Programmer
  • User Interaction: It Was Hard to Build, It Should Be Hard to Use
  • Ruby On Snails: Slow Down Development With This New Framework

and

  • Development Driven Development and Test Driven Testing

This is a must for every self-respecting programmer!

"Waterfall - put testing where it belongs: in the end."

(Via Tuomas. Thanks for the laugh!)

((If you're not a software engineer, this all is very funny.))

Wednesday, 21-Jun-06 15:36
Peel-a-potato

I'm not much in a mood to blog about anything right now. But I'm certainly going to try to peel a potato in 1 second. (via Boing Boing.)

Monday, 19-Jun-06 19:33
Mentos & Coke, old trick

OK, so maybe it's an old trick to put a Mentos in a Diet Coke bottle and watch the foam burst out, but some people still make art out of it.

(via IRC).

Monday, 19-Jun-06 11:20
Happy morning!

...wake up you sleepyhead, you can sleep when you're dead.

I know I have sometimes trouble waking up in the morning. Something like this would make me homicidal instead of just grumpy.

(via Boing Boing.)

Friday, 16-Jun-06 19:26
Back

I've been quiet all week because I've been away doing my semi-obligatory military training. Oh well, another country saved.

Maybe I'm getting old, but a lot of the way the military works is starting to make sense to me. When you first go there at the tender age of 19 or so, you don't really know shit about how the world works, but the older you get, the more you realize it's not just random bullshit, but there is really a reason behind it all. You might disagree with the reasoning, but there is logic. Serious logic, which comes from the fact that military is very, very serious business.

Anyway, I'm really miffed I missed the Aula Movement 2006. Sounds like it was a good party... Now I have to figure out how to get to WikiSym 2006. At the moment the situation looks a bit grim.

Sunday, 11-Jun-06 23:36
Forum Nokia Blogs Major Suckage

I was a bit too hasty on congratulating the Forum Nokia folks on starting blogs - it turns out that the platform they're using is some totally awful crap. So says Anina, and she certainly knows what she is talking about. In addition, it appears that the first time she posted about it on her Forum Nokia Champion blog, the admins asked her to remove the post.

This is a good example of how a part of a company can get it, whereas another part of the company just has no clue whatsoever (Yes, I recall talking to these people. No, apparently I was not vocal enough). Let me give you a couple of whacks with the clue stick:

  1. Don't develop your own blog platform! You don't have to reinvent the wheel. You can do it, but then you have to be prepared of the criticism, because your system will take years to be as good as everyone else's. This is okay for individual hackers, but for corporations where blogging is not the core activity - it's simply not a good idea. Use something that is out there on the market.
  2. If you get criticism, you listen to it. You don't try to hide it.
  3. If you ask for someone to blog on your site, be prepared for the time he will say something you don't like
  4. When someone says something you do not like, you don't make them remove it.
  5. Especially if that person is an A-list blogger, and her real blog is far more famous than your own crappy blog.
  6. If you're going to have a sucky blog platform, don't ask well-established bloggers to use it. They know what blogging is far better than you do.
  7. And for chrissakes, if you want to be hip and follow the new trends in blogging - don't develop your own blog platform! (I have done it, and this is why my blog sucks. But at least I'm pretty much the only one using it...)

There ain't nothing complicated about blogging. But it's not "just like" PR. It's not "just like" marketing. It's blogging. And you're gonna have to treat it differently. Or not do it at all.

Friday, 09-Jun-06 18:51
Server...creaking...must...hold...together...

As you can see, my visitor count went up by a factor of 11 on last Tuesday. During the highest load, JSPWiki and Tomcat were serving up to five requests per second... Talk about stress testing. Click on the image to get a better view.

(And it only crashed once.)

Again, thanks heaps everyone. It's been great seeing old friends pop up to say their congratulations - you should comment here more often! :-)

Thursday, 08-Jun-06 14:34
Web 2.0 for your cell phone

Widsets beta allows you to have similar functionality to Yahoo Widgets or Apple Dashboard on your Java-enabled mobile phone. It should be compatible with quite a few phones, not just Nokia ones, even though it's a Nokia project. I've been playing with it for some time, and it's a pretty cool concept.

The idea is that you use a very AJAXy web interface to manage the configuration of your widgets, and then they get automatically synced to your mobile phone. Yes, this means that there typically is a server side component which preprocesses the information, so that the mobile phone does not have to do everything. Some templates are provided so that you can make your own, basic Widsets easily, but the SDK is also available from the web site.

And, in the true Web 2.0 style, they've got a blog and it's in beta :-).

(Yes, this was one of the big news I was referring to earlier this week. This, the NFC Forum thing, the Forum Nokia blogs and the proposal, obviously. I've been sitting on all of those for quite a while, so it feels great to let it all out :-D. Truly an unforgettable week has this been. Did I have any other big news? Can't remember anymore...)

Tuesday, 06-Jun-06 06:06
Outille / for Outi

Liki kaksi vuotta sitten toimitin postittamatta jääneen Kultaisen Kuukkelin Ouluun, ja olen kiittänyt laiskuuttani siitä asti. Muistan kirkkaasti ensimmäisen IRC-viestini ("Perse-Janne tässä moi"), ensimmäisen tekstarisi ("You're doomed :-D") ja ensimmäisen yhteisen tapaamisen Elektroniikkatien insinööriluolaston synkässä katveessa.

After our first meeting I managed to ignore my work and keep chatting and talking with you with such a fervor, that I knew something special was on. Then, the next Friday afternoon, without any planning, I just bought a flight ticket and... the rest is history. I fell deeply and madly in love in just a few measly hours.

Kosit minua ensimmäisen kerran tekstareitse Islannissa - olin juuri istahtanut rentoutumaan pitkän ratsastuksen jälkeen ja avattuani puhelimen, siihen tipahti viesti sinulta: "Moi kulta! Eropaperit tuli, mennäänkö naimisiin?" Ja minä nauroin, heleästi ja syvältä, onnellisempana kuin koskaan aikaisemmin. Se oli puhdasta ilon naurua - joskin Islannissa on nykyään jokunen ihminen (ja useampi pahasti säikähtänyt lammas), jotka pitävät minua aivan kahjona.

One of my happiest days was the day you moved in with me. My fault: I said that we should probably live a bit together first. These past 16 months have truly been the happy days, and not for a moment have I regretted the decision. You light up my day, even when you're down.

En enää osaa kuvitella elämää ilman sinua. Haluan nukahtaa viereesi ja herätä vierestäsi nyt ja aina. Haluan vanhentua ja nähdä maailman ihmeet kanssasi. Sydämeni pakahtuu, kun yritän kuvata, kuinka paljon rakastan sinua. En tiedä, mihin tämä johtaa, mutta siitä olen varma, että tämä on oikein ja parhautta:

Outi, rakkaani ja oma pörröpääni: tuletko vaimokseni ja elät kanssani hamaan loppuun asti?

Outi, my dearest, will you marry me until death do us part?

11:18 - YES, YES, YES!!! I can finally ease off on the "reload" button :-D

14:52 - Oho.

Monday, 05-Jun-06 18:51
Forum Nokia starts blogging

Yup, Nokia's developer guys have also started a blog, aimed squarely at other developers who are interested in Symbian, S60, S40, Mobile Java, Python and other thingamalingies you can use to torture your poor cell phone with.

I think it's about time - my feeling has always been that Nokia's developer programs have been lacking a lot of the enthusiasm of other platforms. Partly, this is due to Symbian and S60 being so... difficult to work with; partly because cell phones are not seen as mobile computers (Witness the Geek Haven Slashdot, where every new Nokia press release is treated with "but I just want a phone". Bah, near-sighted luddites.); and partly because getting your program on someone's cell phone and getting money wrenched out of the user is just not very easy.

The Forum Nokia blogs won't solve everything, of course, but I like their approach: they're also allowing quite a few other guys, not just Nokia employees, to write those blogs. Makes sense; there's more knowledge outside the company than inside, and this is really about members of a community blogging to other members of the same community, under a corporate umbrella - not a corporate bullhorn feeding pre-chewed items for the press to digest. Now, if I could just figure out which Enterprise blogger category those external guys belong to...

More interesting stuff still to come along - this is beginning to look like a very busy week.

Monday, 05-Jun-06 18:35
NFC Forum goes public

Yup. Many months of hard work, and the egg is finally hatching at the NFC Forum:

WAKEFIELD, Mass., USA – June 5, 2006 – The NFC Forum, a non-profit industry association advancing the use of near field communication (NFC) technology, today unveiled its technology architecture and announced the first five Forum specifications, at a Web news conference. Forum officials also announced the initial tag formats for which support is mandatory in NFC Forum-compliant devices.

In addition to the press release above, NFC Forum also released a FAQ. Though, I have to say, I would far prefer a HTML-formatted FAQ than crappy PDF. But hey, this is good old-school engineering and not that Web 2.0 hippie crap ;-). Unfortunately, the real technical specs aren't quite out there yet. But one thing at a time...

Simply put, under all the marketing lingo the aim of Near Field Communication is rather simple: to mobile devices easier to use. Want to use a new Bluetooth headset with your phone, but can't figure out the pairing? Just turn on the headset, and touch the two together. Let the device worry about all the details. Want to send a picture to your TV set? Just touch your digital camera to the TV set, and watch the blinkenlichts go and your picture appear. See an interesting thingy advertised on the street? Just touch the logo, and your device will figure out how to get connected to their web site. Want to pay with a credit card? Wave your phone at the reader, and type in the PIN code.

I know some of the examples quoted in the FAQ sound cheesy, but that's what always happens with new technology. The geeks who dream up this sort of stuff usually have little idea as to where their invention ends up - it might be in a forgotten dumpster in a lost city, or it might be in the Hall of Fame. Who's to know?

In fact, NFC is not really new either. It's built on existing technologies (ISO 14443A,B and ~FeliCa, each of which has an install base counted in tens of millions), and all sorts of interesting things have been out there for a while. The cool thing is that now there is at least one standard, and people don't have to make their own, proprietary solutions anymore.

For me personally, the single greatest thing about Near Field Communication is its inherent hackability. The technology is pretty versatile, open and cheap - perfect for lone guys in their garages to do interesting stuff with. While there is a big payment industry out there that screams "waaaa" and waves their tiny hands up in the air whenever anyone mentions hacking, there is lots of room for the little guys as well. Just not in the payment stuff.

I have great hopes. There are people already looking into this stuff, such as Timo Arnall and his Touch project at the Oslo School of Architecture and Design (note: it's not a technology school. NFC is far too interesting to be owned by technologists, in my humble opinion.)

(Disclaimer: I'm deeply involved in NFC Forum's work. In fact, I am the editor of several of the specifications... So blame me.)

Update 19-Jun-06: there's now a HTML version of the FAQ online.

Monday, 05-Jun-06 15:23
Public humiliation gone from law

Good news (in Finnish)! The Finnish Parliament voted to remove the controversial article from the next revision of the copyright law, which would've made it possible to publish a defendant's name along with his crime at the defendant's cost, should he be found guilty of violating the copyright legislation. The law was heavily criticized on being medieval in allowing public humiliation of people.

(By the way, there should be some interesting announcements in the next 24 hours. Stay tuned...)

Edit: It was too good to be true. Digitoday covers the story far better - the articles are still there, just subdued and hidden.

Monday, 05-Jun-06 02:54
The Swedish Pirate Bay Raid Reeks To High Heaven

Just look at this list of civil rights violations performed in the raid on Pirate Bay's ISP a few days ago. Confiscating and searching through random servers who just happened to be in the same room? It also seems that the server hosting KavkazCenter.com was among those confiscated - how convinient is that? (The site is up again, I see.) It seems that it's not the King that's leading the country, but US copyright organizations...

I understand there's a big commotion about this over the pond. Good thing, too.

This kind of bullying tactics is only going to cost the anti-piracy organizations lots and lots of good will, which they might have had before. You can't shut down pirates this way - Pirate Bay is up and running again, this time in the Netherlands.

Anything which can be digitalized loses its uniqueness. Whether we're talking about text, music, movies, or even whole web sites - anything can be copied, transported, cloned and distributed. It's like fighting the Hydra; when you remove one of its heads, two grow back. If it's important, it won't die.

I really see only two ways out of this situation:

  1. Turn the Internet into a closed system: anything that is put online must be reviewed first for copyright infringement. This is nearly impossible, for rather obvious reasons.
  2. Embrace and Extend: A media consumption tax on broadband, collected by Teosto and Gramex. 5€ on every broadband system/month. Make trackers legal and P2P networks legal, and ask the guys nicely to put in tracking code so that they get accurate info on whose songs and media gets downloaded, then distribute the 5€ accordingly.

I like #2 for quite a few reasons: Finland has 1.1 million broadband connections. Five euros on each would generate 66 Million € / year of copyright revenue, which is about double the amount of money that Teosto currently collects from public performances. This would mean an increase of about 200% to any musician's copyright-levy based income.

Of course, getting music for free off the internet would probably diminish CD sales. However, it's my understanding that they're not that significant income, unless you're really famous - making CDs costs money, and the artist gets about 4% of the retail price anyway, roughly 1€/sold CD. My totally back-of-the-envelope calculation suggests that the increase in the income should more than compensate for the CD sales loss for most artists.

However, the people who would lose would be the record companies, who make most of their money from CD sales. So, it's very unlikely that #2 would ever be accomplished, even if it was better for the artists, simply because the people with the money do not want to see their profits fluster away to the artists. Bah.

Frankly, I would be happy to pay a 5€ "media consumption tax" on my broadband, if it gave me free access to any and all music in the world. I would not need to worry about backing up DRM'd files, because anything and everything could be trivially re-downloaded in the event of a catastrophe. New innovations on finding new music and rediscovering old would flourish. And perhaps we would be freed from the tyranny of the hits - being forced to listen to the same songs in the same radio stations all over again. Perhaps even it would be a true rebirth of radio on the internet?

What if you're not downloading music? Heck, you're paying for music already in the form of CD levies and MP3 players. Why not broadband?

Monday, 05-Jun-06 01:52
Russian parkour

Parkour, aka freerunning, still keeps amazing me. It's incredible what humans can do when they really put their mind to it (and supress any self-preservation instincts they might have). These guys from Russia have made it to look like a music video...

It is no wonder that myths about people running up and down the walls, flying, going through walls, and disappearing without a sound still persist. In a world where magic was commonly the explanation for anything that was out of the ordinary, a band of highly trained warriors would create more legends than your average fiction writer during his career.

Friday, 02-Jun-06 12:27
One more reason blogs are good for enterprises

This is an old reference, but it didn't really hit me until during lunch today. As Tommi points out, blogs drive traffic to your site. Why? Because they are constantly refreshed with new material and it is very easy to find the new material - it's on the top of the page. This means that people return frequently to your site because they like it, not because they have to.

That point alone should get any marketer's toes tingle with excitement.

Wednesday, 31-May-06 15:50
WTF is this "optical inch"?

From the Philips Bodygroom web site, the "why men should shave their groin area" -section:

A little pubic topiary doesn't just reduce body odour, make you feel more comfortable and improve the way you look in trunks - it can help you look better in the bedroom too. Trimming back pubic hair is thought to add an extra 'optical inch' to your manhood (which probably explains why nearly half* of all British men have had a go at trimming theirs).

In exactly which way does "optical inch" help - whatever it is that you're doing? The ad agency must've had a blast with this one...

Yeah, it's Wednesday. Obviously.

Monday, 29-May-06 15:56
Enterprise bloggers categorized

The question of blogging and how corporations should handle it seems to pop up every now and then. The conversation runs around in circles on whether a company should blog, what are the concrete benefits, and so on. However, little attention is given to bloggers themselves. In my discussions, I've found it useful to categorize corporate blogs and bloggers into four categories (sorry for the lack of funny names, couldn't think of any that weren't derogatory):

Category I

This class consists of people who don't affiliate themselves in the company in any way. They might be anonymous, pseudonymous, or blogging under their own name, but they don't talk about their job, or even mention they work for the company. Most of the blogs belong to this category, and are interesting from the enterprise point of view as customer blogs; the place where a bad review spreads like wildfire.

Category II

Bloggers, who have their own personal website, but still do associate themselves with a company, comprise Category II. Their blogs are strongly identified to a person, are rarely pseudonymous, and may or may not have anything to do with the work. Quite a few of "known" bloggers are in this category, such as Robert Scoble, who sometimes is called "THE Microsoft blogger." If a Cat II[1] blogger were to switch jobs, the blog would still continue; he'd just identify himself with another company.

Category III

Some corporations run big blog networks under their own domain. These blogs, which I call Category III, are typically centered on a subject or a particular aspect of the company (such as Tommi's S60 Applications). While the authors appear as real persons, and in some cases, get very strongly identified as the company blogger, they are still a company thing, and should the blogger leave; someone else would probably pick it up and continue writing.

Category IV

In the most extreme case of corporate blogging, the author goes completely anonymous (somewhat like in Cat I), and the blog becomes a true "corporate voice", often repeating the same things as the official press releases. (The Official Google blog looked like this some time ago; now it's become a group blog where people write under their own names.)

This categorization[2] raises some questions: how should enterprises approach the different blogs and bloggers? How to handle Cat II bloggers, who sometimes mention their work (like me)? Should they be banned, ignored, rewarded, or maybe killed? How do you build a successfull Category III blog and maximize the brand value? Do Category IV blogs have any intrinsic value over press releases, since they're not personal? How do you watch the hordes of Category I bloggers, who might be slipping out all sorts of secret stuff ("my boss is an idiot and he gave me this stupid cell phone to design in five weeks because we're launching in two months")? Can you hire Cat II people and make them your Cat III people? Does having a great and successfull Cat II blog mean that you have what it takes to author a great and successfull Cat III blog?

I don't know yet, but I'm certainly searching for answers. Enterprise blogging seems to be hitting a sweet spot by giving more to the class of users who actually do care about the products. Previously, no matter what your interest level was, there were very few ways of influencing or communicating directly with the company, except by writing personal letters and getting back form replies. Now, it's possible for the more involved customer to have this direct conversation, which connects the people who make their living out of making something, and those who spend their money on that something. And I think it's a good thing which is not likely to go away soon, because once you get used to it, it's very hard to give up.

[#1] Yes, this is a pun on "cat bloggers". It's funny. Laugh.

[#2] Which is, of course, a very engineer-like approach, but sometimes that is useful, especially in an engineering company. Remember, engineers designed the computer you're reading this on, so we can't be completely useless or wrong, no matter how much you pooh-pooh at us. So nyah.

Sunday, 28-May-06 10:42
World Village Festival in Helsinki

D'oh! I didn't realize until I read Antti's blog that "Maailma kylässä" aka "World Village Festival" is in Helsinki this weekend, in Kaisaniemi. It's free, it's interesting, there's lots of music and food, and the weather is not terribly bad either.

So get going!


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