Friday, 29-Jul-05 16:54
Zipping along

Just a quick note: I switched this site into using mod_gzip all along. In practice this means that my little server will compress the page content before sending it to you, so you'll get it faster. This should create significant bandwidth savings on weblog content, and overall give better response times. It is likely to kill Netscape 4 rendering totally, though - but then again, I have more Konqueror users on this website than Netscape 4...

Let me know if any major browser has any issues.

Friday, 29-Jul-05 12:58
Music industry corrupt - nobody looks surprised

NY Times describes how the recording industry gives gifts, "contest prizes", free trips, and other bribes to radio stations so that they would play particular songs or rewrite their top-lists so that certain songs would "appear as if they were taking off".

As a result, Mr. Spitzer said in the settlement documents, "Sony BMG and the other record labels present the public with a skewed picture of the country's 'best' and 'most popular' recorded music."

Record companies are not against the internet and peer-to-peer because they want to fight piracy. They are just afraid of losing their monopoly over distribution of music. If Internet radios, podcasting, internet stores (such as Amazon), second-hand-shops, and small, independent record companies that can give more money to the artists (like Magnatune - it does not take a rocket scientist to figure out that 50% of 1000 records sold is more than 4% of 10,000 records sold) get to compete on an even playground with them, they might lose. Or at least they would have to reinvent their own business, which would mean innovation.

So they fight. They use their income to make the playground less even: Own the radio stations, kill internet radio (it's practically impossible to start an internet radio in Finland due to large fees - only the big media companies can afford it), kill peer-to-peer - the most efficient method of distribution so far invented by mankind. Bribe, cajole and threaten, if necessary. Anything goes, as long as you don't get caught.

Big business. Gotta love it. Better than movies.

(Via Dan Gillmor.)

Sunday, 24-Jul-05 13:46
Joitain tuokiopaloja Ropeconista

(Apologizes, this one is better written in Finnish).

Vietin, kuten aina, viikonlopun töissä Ropeconissa. Päätin kirjata joitain pieniä tuokiokuvia sieltä: en oikein osannut enää valokuvata, koska kaikki conikuvat näyttävät kuitenkin pitkälti samoilta vuodesta toiseen.

Tässä siis pieniä hetkiä.

  • Keltsussa radion mitäänsanomaton poppi vaihtuu Nightwishin hitiksi. Syvennyksessä istuvat kolme tyttöä, jokainen mustissa, alkavat asiantuntevasti keskustella laulun navajonkielisestä sanoituksesta.
  • Vähäpukeinen nainen vetää perässään hirttoköydessä pelkkiin stringeihin väärin puettua miestä. Convieras huokaisee kuullessaan, että se onkin vain teekkarien polttariporukka, ja jatkaa matkaa, vetäen perässään ketjulla PVC:hen puettua toista vierasta.
  • Pomppulinnassa miehet suutelevat. Tuntia aiemmin infotiskillä olin kuullut jonkun julistavan, miten homoparaatiin pitäisi saada mielenosoittajien sijasta mellakkajoukkoja.
  • Tapaan ihmisiä, joita näen vain kerran vuodessa. Silti he eivät tunnu vierailta. Ihmiset puhuvat conista ja conin tapahtumista kuin parhaat ystävät, mutta eivät tiedä toistensa oikeita nimiä. Kukaan ei kysy, mitä teet conien välisen ajan - sillä ei ole väliä.
  • Aamun rannekkeidentarkistuksessa erottaa heti kokeneet ja kokemattomat kävijät: kokenut nukkuu jo valmiiksi ranneke näkyvillä. Hypimme nukkuvien yli, herätämme kätensä piilottaneet. Jostain syystä ilahduttaa nähdä vain kolme liputonta; eikä heitäkään oikeastaan haluaisi heittää ulos.
  • Öisin asiakkaat kokoontuvat kuuntelemaan työntekijöiden väsyneitä juttuja toisilleen, jotka leviävät halki Dipolin radiopuhelimitse. Aamukahdeksalta jaksetaan enää vain lukea Tommy Tabermanin runoja ja halata kaikkia.
  • Takahuoneen vauvat: toinen sukupolvi ropeconin tekijöitä on jo kasvamassa. Nekin käyttäytyvät hyvin.
  • Keltsun darts-automaatti vilkkuu yksinäisenä nurkassa. Samaan aikaan viereisessä pöydässä suunnitellaan maailmaa; toisessa pöydässä suunnitellaan maailman valtausta. Kolmannessa vanhat ystävykset muistelevat sitä, miten ennen oli kaikki aina paremmin.
  • Punaisen Ristin ensiapuhenkilöt pitkästyvät tietokoneluokassa: heillä ei ole mitään tekemistä. Kukaan ei örvellä kännissä, ja vaikka joka toisella on mukanaan jotain kättä pidempää, ketään ei tarvitse pahemmin paikkailla. Eräs tosin onnistuu murtamaan varpaansa kivi-paperi-sakset -kisassa.
  • Tuuli yltyy aamuyöstä: narikkateltan betoniset ankkurit siirtyilevät, ja hetken näyttää siltä, että koko teltta karkaa. Mietimme hetken, pitäisikö paikalle kutsua varatyövoimaa: kerrankin kun voisi pyytää jotakuta pitämään seinää pystyssä.

Erilaisuus on aina jotenkin niin samanlaista: samanlaisuus tavallista. Täällä friikki saa hetken tuntea olonsa tavalliseksi: tavis itsensä friikiksi. Mutta jostain syystä täällä vallitsee edelleen Ropeconin henki: väsynyt, riehakas, värikäs, täynnä huonoa huumoria, mutta pohjimmiltaan äärimmäisen kiltti ja ystävällinen.

Ei täältä haluaisi pois. Vaikka kuitenkin tekisi mieli mennä kotiin.

Päivitys: Jos haluat nähdä, mitä muut bloggaajat kirjoittavat Ropeconista, tässä on Icerocketin lista, ja tässä Technoratin. Listat tuntuvat poikkeavan toisistaan melkoisesti.

Sunday, 24-Jul-05 00:14
No sorrow is small

Tonight we lost our second pet mouse in three days. The first one I could weather with some stoicism, but two... No. I've grown attracted to those small critters. They're dumb as a glove, sleep all day, and make a huge rattle at night ("Quiet as a mouse", they say? Not true.), but shit... They grow on you. She loves them, and so do I, I now realize.

I really liked those brown small sisters. I really did. I like the rest of them, too. Just... no more deaths for a while. Okay?

Saturday, 23-Jul-05 11:43
Ropecon

Ropecon is here again! Thousands of teenage larpers, goth lolitas (I wish), PVC, leather, fake furry ears, real elven ears, bad pizza, hectic heckling, and old farts complaining how Ropecon has too many teenage larpers and furry ears and too few goth lolitas.

I'll try to post some pictures to my Flickr account... Too bad I don't have an MP3 player that could record - otherwise I would be doing a podcast :)

Friday, 22-Jul-05 10:11
Xanga at 40 million

Xanga, a blogging service, has reached 40 million users, says WPXI, 91% of them between 13 and 29. The article also talks about how kids don't realize that they are writing on the public internet, and how well parents in general understand these issues (here's a hint: they don't).

(Via Blog Herald.)

Update: Yahoo Search finds about 11 million xanga.com pages, so the figures - as usual - are a bit suspect. But 11 million is quite a lot, too.

Thursday, 21-Jul-05 12:17
Transparent society and how to write for it

Here goes again: a blogger has published a photograph of two people who allegedly assaulted her and her husband (in Finnish). The police are looking into this, but she has taken matters in her own hands and is asking if anyone knows these guys.

This is an example of the Transparent Society in action: normal people, armed with cell phone cameras, recording MP3 players, and low-cost publishing tools are getting an unprecedented amount of power. The signs are everywhere, and stuff like this seems to be more often recently. And this worries quite a lot of people, including me.

I have a certain belief in the general goodness of people (perhaps naïve, perhaps not), which is why I am willing to link to pages such as that "wanted" -page. But this general goodness can turn into something that becomes quite evil, even if nobody really meant it - the story of the Korean shit-girl as an example. I guess the original purpose of the people who snapped the photo was just to give a snap on the wrist to the girl, but the whole thing went quickly overboard.

The internet (and blogs in particular) allow huge, uneducated masses to move extremely rapidly from one extreme to the other, without any filtering at all. This is neither good nor bad; it just the truth. This, I believe, is the key difference between personal publishing and journalism: the training to tell a good story from a bad one, and the knowhow to treat one properly. A proper journalist would approach a flammable story with proper respect and asbestos gloves, whereas the angry internet mob will just embrace it and lift it to a pedestal.

It's difficult to write about this: on the other hand, I like privacy. My privacy and the privacy of others. I even understand the need for NDAs and corporate secrets. I agonized over whether I should link to the article or not, and risk possible angry internet mob against two guys who might be guilty; we have only one person's account for it. (And I feel like a hypocrite for linking to to it. I would also feel like a hypocrite if I didn't link to it. I feel even like a hypocrite for even talking about my thoughts about linking. How's that for a crisis?) But on the other hand, I do see the push towards a more transparent society, where everybody becomes the police's little helper. The proliferation of digital, always-on cameras and other recording devices will allow everyone to become watchmen of the society. And seeing how an angry mob can destroy a person's life does not exactly make me feel warm fuzzies over the thought.

The idea of an angry mob defining the culture is almost as scary as the idea of a corporate-owned culture. But portable recording devices have great benefits as well: Flickr is full of wonderful pictures that enrich our culture, and will continue to do so for many years to come: Imagine, if you could delve into a similar archive from the 1890's! Or 1700's! The people of the future (or at least anyone doing their thesis) will thank us for storing our daily life. (Many people doing Powerpoint presentations these days thank Flickr already.)

For many years, many people have told us that we need to know how to read the media right: how to do proper source criticism, how to "read between the lines", how not to be lead like blind sheep. But I think that with this new, personal, writable media we need to learn also how to write the media right. Everyone should know what is legal and what is not - but even more importantly, understand what could be the consequences of writing. I don't think we should get into a discussion of what is morally right or not, as that will lead only into a conflict of different world-views, but I think there should be a document somewhere in the internet, that would spell out in clear, friendly letters the practical, everyday things a blogger should consider - and the probable repercussions of those. Let people then adapt those to their own morale and code of ethics, but people need to understand that they are writing in public and what that means.

I'm almost half-tempted to start working on something like that myself, but if anyone has any good tips on such sites, please drop a comment below. Don't want to do duplicate work... (I've already suggested to samik that the Pinseri Wiki could be re-adapted to such a purpose for Finnish users.)

Tuesday, 19-Jul-05 13:00
Being quiet

I'm still alive, no worries. I'm spending most of my time north of the Artic Circle, on cell phone connectivity only, and doing other things so much that I just don't have time for blogging right now. I need to make two presentations for the conferences (the first of which is next week), rewrite the paper for Wikimania, and actually write the code for the Wikimania paper.

How did my summer vacation come down to work? I guess that's the punishment for mixing work with hobby...

Anyhoo, my second podcast (crappier than the first) is now available, in Finnish again. Yes, I'm riding the hype here: the whole thing has become such a talking point recently that I decided that the best way to understand it is to get down and dirty and start doing it myself too. I have a bunch of things I want to try out with this new medium, but so far it's mostly at the level of a kid poking at a new toy and trying to figure out what all the hubbub is about. It's play, as much as a heartless techocrat can manage. Comments (technology-, content-, methodology-, and otherwise) are welcome.

Thursday, 07-Jul-05 15:59
Prague and podcasting

I'm in Prague with Outi. This is a beautiful city, well worth visiting. We're currently sitting in a small internet cafe in the New City (called thus only because it was built in the 15th century - the other part was older).

You kinda know that you can get cheap flights here when you see a bunch of young British blokes walking by, all wearing a blue t-shirt with the text "XXX's stag tour 2005". One of them is wearing reindeer horns.

The local touts are pretty good at guessing the nationality of people. They shout "halpa olut" ("cheap beer") at me all the time. Even when they have not heard me and Outi talking.

(Ai niin, ja suomalaisille: pikaisena virityksenä laitoin pystyyn oman äänitallenneradion, eli podcastin, eli mikä se sitten onkin. Testilähetys löytyypi täältä. Pahoittelemme ulkomuotoa, kyllä se siitä kunhan tästä pääsee takaisin Suomeen.)

Saturday, 02-Jul-05 23:50
Still mushy

One year ago I was having an Important Meeting. Things were said, Powerpoints presented, future was designed. But my mind was elsewhere. I secretly kept an IRC window open on my laptop. I'm sure the others noticed I was doing something, but didn't say anything - in case anyone of them is reading this, I'm sorry for my lack of attention...

In IRC, she she asked me, jokingly: "Why don't you come over here for the weekend?" I smiled (didn't laugh - the other people might've found it somewhat distracting). But the more we talked about it, the more serious the discussion became. And before I had really understood what I was doing, I had blown a bunch of mileage points, and got myself a plane ticket from Finnair Online. I had just enough time to just get home, grab a change of clothes (And a sleeping bag. I actually like sleeping in sleeping bags. I'm weird that way.), and head off to the airport. (So this is the reason why I didn't come to drinks with the rest of you hypothetical readers-from-the-same-meeting. I do believe I did get a better deal, though.)

The airport bus took me to Oulu University, and I jumped off. Nobody was in sight, so I sat on top of my backpack, and waited. The evening was beautiful, as the sun does not really sleep up north: it just dozes off for a while. She had been waiting for me, too.

I saw her approach from the end of the road. It took her a minute to walk to me - and it felt like an hour. My heart jumped up and down: "What if she doesn't like me?" "What if we have horrible time together?" "Can I be all the things she thinks I am?" All the usual shit that goes through your head when you go on a date - except that in this case the date had a serious nature already: I had flown 900 km and was in a strange city very late on a Friday evening at the beckoning of a woman I had known for less than five days.

She let me use the sauna to clean myself (I tend to smell bad after a long meeting. Sorry again, guys.) We talked. Of what, that I cannot remember. But I do remember her eyes, and how hauntingly beautiful they were that night.

Later that evening (or night to be exact), we went for a walk. Found a playground, played a bit on the swings (how stereotypical). Got attacked by mosquitoes by a tiny bridge that was supposed to be the place of our first kiss (it turned out that both of us had planned it), and returned back to the apartment, where we shared the first kiss, which got quite a few people guessing.

The rest of the summer and the fall was pretty much about traveling, but now we live together. And that is good and happy.

She passed by as I was writing this, and complained about her stomach being upset, in the kind of colorful language she sometimes uses. I laughed, as I was just reading this old blog entry of mine. She still arranges her characters in just the right way that touches my heart.

Her first SMS to me still rings true.

I'm doomed.


Private comments? Drop me an email. Or complain in a nearby pub - that'll help.



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