Saturday, 26-Jul-08 01:29
The Ground heads for the sky

The son of Levyvirasto, The Ground is here. And I like it.

It's the first, proper Finnish music store. It has a decent, web-based UI which works on my Mac, and it sells me DRM-free MP3s (which work nicely both on my laptop, desktop, iPod and my phone - which cannot be said on the offerings of the iTunes Music Store or the Nokia Music Store) of good quality with a price I'm willing to pay. There's also enough bandwidth - I get a full album in a minute.

There are still some flaws: The UI does not really promote music discovery (I would very much like to see a tie-in with the open APIs of, for example), the selection is still not yet quite complete, the download was broken the first time (though it worked flawlessly the second time) and I do believe that Meat Loaf should not be classified as "classical music". But, as a whole, this is the first music store selling major brand music that I can see myself visiting more than once (many of the ones in the US refuse to sell to Europe, unfortunately). Spent 20+ euros in it in a flash (a Poets of the Fall album, a couple of tracks from Pet Shop Boys, and Kylie's X, if you absolutely want to know. Which you probably didn't - but now you know something you didn't know a moment earlier, and that in itself is valuable to realize.)

More of this, please. And preferably in a global scale; the whole notion of limiting music licensing to a single country sounds like exactly the kind of stuff that EU was established to abolish.

Monday, 21-Jul-08 12:25
Duodecim: Illegal drug stores must be censored!

Duodecim, the Finnish Medical Society may be joining the ranks of the people stepping down the slipper slope. Helsingin Sanomat 21.7.2008, page D2:

Tutkimuksen tekijät vaativatkin tiukempaa säätelyä ja valvontaa. Laittomien nettiapteekkien sivuille pääsy pitäisi estää.

(Roughly translated: "Authors of the study demand stricter control and supervision. Access to the web pages of illegal internet drug stores should be blocked.")

The article is unclear as to whether this is Duodecim's opinion or the opinion of the study (which was made by some anonymous private organization, not even named properly in the article, not even on their web site) quoted by Duodecim. Which of course makes it suspicious - anybody know the source of the study? Perhaps they are thinking that the doctor's ethic does not apply to freedom of speech?

(To reiterate: blocking web sites does not block the sales of illegal drugs. They will just switch their websites faster than you can block them. The only way to stop this is to go to the source, and slam those people in jail. The only thing blocking web sites does is that it opens the door to uncontrolled and unreasonable censorship.)

Thursday, 17-Jul-08 20:00
Me and my big mouth

The problem with ranting is that sometimes people listen to you and turn your rants into interviews on the official company blog.

Oh well. Any notoriety is good notoriety, I suppose.

(On a personal note: I've gone on an email diet for the holidays. I read and respond only to the most important, personal emails I get. All others get the backspace key or are ignored until I get back. This also concerns most blogs... I'm trying to concentrate on a small project I've been working on for about a year and a half now, as well as trying to read all the books I've mooched in the last couple of weeks. Nothing personal - I really, really need this.)

Tuesday, 08-Jul-08 17:41
Digital locality and friendship stasis

Dealing with mobile phones and NFC teaches about a few things about your surroundings. A simple way to model the world is to divide it to a few ranges:

  • Proximity - the range of touch. These are the objects that are most immediate to you, both in time and place: the laptop, the chair, your clothes, and so on.
  • Vicinity - the range of things around you which can impact you at a moment's notice. For example, the items in the same room. People don't matter if they're standing outside your room, but when they walk in, you take notice.
  • Shouting distance - Anything you can affect, but typically does not affect you unless you make it so.
  • The world - All the rest.

NFC works purely in the proximity range, but the different technologies we use change the rest. For example, a mobile phone brings anyone in your phonebook to the shouting distance, negating the effects of location.

So does the internet - and people. I've lately noticed how I keep tabs with people whom I know mostly from the digital world, but a lot of the physical world friends I don't keep up nearly as well with. Without a constant trickle of twitter or blog feed these friendships go into a stasis - unpacked the moment we see and we can continue again from where we left off.

So, thinking of the regular spacetime distances, what would be the digital equivalents?

  • Proximity - the people who gave you access to their private feeds, and the people who you have given access to yours. The person you are IMming to right now, or chatting with in IRC, or talking over the phone to. The person who just sent you an email that you have to read.
  • Vicinity - people whom you follow in Twitter or Jaiku or whose blog you've subscribed to. Your Facebook "friends". People whose statuses flow into your browser but you don't feel compelled to keep up to date on every single one of them.
  • Shouting distance - the invisible crowd who follow you in the different social services. Your blog readers who rarely comment, but who might link to you. The people in your address book that you don't call or text or mail.
  • The world - Orkut and all the other services that you never registered to and don't care at all about. As the old maps used to say, "here be Googles".

Of course, these are not static. Someone might pop into your proximity from the shouting distance by sending you an email about a blog post that touched him. Or people can flow out of your vicinity by becoming boring.

It is interesting to note how most of the social services are expanding the "vicinity" area at the cost of the shouting distance or the proximity - they invent new ways for you to concentrate on one thing (moving things out of your proximity field), but on the other hand they allow stuff from the shouting distance to flow in. It's when you start misusing these tools (like making Facebook or Twitter your primary hobby = move it to proximity) you'll start to see the limitations they have.

The question is - what tools are still missing from the different digital ranges? And is this an useful analogy which teaches us some insight into the world? And what to do with the half-eaten jar of Ben&Jerry's Chunky Monkey in my freezer?

Tuesday, 08-Jul-08 09:31

Heh. Here's something that gets pretty close to blog art - One Post Wonder, a collection of blogs who've only ever gotten just a single entry out.

Each entry starts someone's life story, and then it leaves you hanging for more. And you're never gonna get it.

(Via The Internet Superstar.)

Monday, 07-Jul-08 23:20

I finally got tired of duplicate books and stuff that I never read again anyway, and joined Bookmooch. It's almost like going to the flea market - within minutes, the local old hats have you surrounded and grab all the stuff worth something. Within four hours, I got half of my wares mooched; then when I added some more, I got four more.

So I've spent a couple of days going to the post office, wondering what the best way to mail books are, and learning about the cheapest ways to mail stuff. I am also desperately trying to think which authors I really want to mooch...

Let me know if there are any must-read books out there these days, preferably not related to IT. SF is fine, but some new acquaintances might be nice.

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

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