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.)


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