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!

Wednesday, 24-May-06 17:35
Lordi fans mob mags

The new Eurovision hero, Lordi, has triggered another case of mob justice: A Finnish trash/celeb magazine "7 päivää" has published the picture of Mr. Lordi, Tomi Putaansuu, without his mask, against his explicit wishes.

Within a few hours, the discussion forum was filled with angry messages, to the point of nearly crashing the server (seems to be working now). A petition condemning the actions is filling rapidly, with 13676 names within six hours (and it's growing fast). The editor of the magazine says: "well, it was published before, so there is no harm."

Apparently, people think differently. Even the petition page is creaking under the load, and Seiska has removed the names and email addresses of their staff from their web pages (hey, you should be willing to stand behind your words, you creepy cowards. Well, I'm sure the Google cache and Archive.org copies have alread been posted everywhere.)

In addition, Hämeen Sanomat also published the unmasked image of Lordi, and their discussion forums are also being bombarded with angry messages from people saying they are going to cancel their subscription. The editor says (scroll down in the thread): "Hey, it's just entertainment."

Maybe it is. But still, people are feeling pretty strongly about it. So strongly that they're demanding that the names and addresses and faces of the journalists be brought forward, too.

The internet crowd is capable of reacting extremely fast, far faster than before, because they don't need to move physically to one place to demonstrate. This makes them very dangerous, too, because an angry crowd becomes a lynching mob pretty easily, if someone knows how to play them right (proven most recently by the Muhammad pictures affair).

What's the difference between a guy who does not want his face to be shown in public, and a dead prophet? At least the Finnish fans aren't storming the UK embassy, killing everyone with an UK passport, and demanding an apology from Tony Blair, just because The Sun published the same pictures on their front page.

After all, it's just entertainment.

Addition: This is the best case of wannabe hackers I've seen in a while:

"Seiska's IP address is 83.145.216.97. It is in Espoo. Attach lightly first, let's co-ordinate some further actions."

"Co-ordinate where"?

"Here."

So, you wonderful misfits figured out where seiska.fi is (which is trivial, even for a rhesus monkey), and now you want to talk about attacking it on a public forum hosted on the same frigging server you're going to attack? Good luck there. And remember, your own IP addresses are stored by seiska now :-D

Update: The petition mentioned above has gathered 124929 names now. This is an insane amount of people, and should worry any editor.

Update, Friday 26th: Seiska apologizes publicly, after they have started to lose advertisers. Pirkka writes really well on the subject: "Seiska showed what they think of their readers: they're rumour-hungry vultures, who take any scandal they can get. And a surprisingly large amount of people told them that they do not want to belong to that group." (translation mine). There is also a nonviolent campaign of "turn the mag upside down".

Tuesday, 23-May-06 22:31
Sony BMG steals their own music from P2P sites?

This does not compute. Sony BMG, the herald of copyright and the destroyer of computers is using MP3's downloaded from an illegal P2P website to promote the recent Eurovision winner Lordi.

According to the metadata from the MP3s, at least one file comes from a Spanish website called GrupoeMusica, an illegal source of music files if I ever saw one. So, while technically Sony BMG owns the copyright, they're downloading the content from an illegal source, therefore committing copyright infringement and should sue themselves...

The fun part is that it was probably the easiest way to get the music for the guys who put together the website... But frankly, this kind of behaviour does not exactly solidify the image of white knights championing for artists, but more the image of a corporation trying to make all the money they can, no matter how.

(Via Marginaali. Or to be specific, comments.)

Monday, 22-May-06 15:41
Loituma

WTF is going on with this Loituma thing right now?

(For extra credit, open all of the above links in separate browser windows or tabs simultaneously, and space out. Via IRC.)

Update: the strangest Loitumas so far are this Japanese dance video and this robot dance.

Sunday, 21-May-06 03:19
Lordi wins, and Hell freezes over

...and I've drunk 1/3 bottle of perfectly fine Fettercairn single malt whiskey, before it's too late. I feel my toes freezing already.

For the first time ever, Finland has won the Eurovision song contest.

WHEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!

Anyone who promised to move to Sweden if Lordi wins: Don't worry. You can still stay here. That is, if you can stand the rest of us being really, really, really smug about it. It turns out that we won the semi-finals, too!

(Congrats also to Carola, who's managed to score a respectable 3rd place, 1st place and 5th place for Sweden throughout the history of the Eurovision song contest. Just lay off with the fans next time, okay?)

My flight landed so late that we actually watched the whole show from tape. We refused to answer any calls, read any SMS's or blogs because of the fear of being spoiled of the result. What a perfect way to return home, dwarfed only by the hug I received when I walked through the door...

Friday, 19-May-06 11:42
DMZ

By Piero Sierra
I spent the morning to see the DMZ - the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea. It's a chilling feeling to realize that at any moment, without warning, tanks could roll in while you were watching. Having lived next to the Soviet border for many years, the tension had a familiar feeling...

But the most stopping thing was descending 72 meters underground, and travel the 500m of tunnel dug by North Koreans in an attempt to create a passage through which up to 30,000 soldiers could travel in an hour, unnoticed, to about 52 km of Seoul. At the end of it stands a concrete block, with a well-locked door.

Behind it... who knows? Endless dark tunnels, forever sealed, leading into the most mysterious nation in the world.

Home tomorrow. I could spend more time here.

Thursday, 18-May-06 06:25
Toilet seat design problem

In a desperate effort to put the "ugly" and "butt" back into "Butt Ugly", I present the following innovation:

The flushing handle (marked) is put so close to the ground, that you have to lean forward to reach it. Now, this takes your face rather close to the surface of the water in the bowl, which makes it very easy (and mandatory) for you to do a thorough survey of your ... produce.

I suppose this is one way to teach humility.

(Yes, I could close the lid. But what's the fun in that?)

Tuesday, 16-May-06 18:40
Armed Forces Network tells you how things are

As mentioned below, one of the great perversions pleasures of traveling abroad is watching the very late night programming on foreign TV stations. And the early morning professional go games on Japanese TV, but that’s borderlining on weird.

In Korea, you really realize that there’s a large military presence here. I’ve been called a "fucking Texan" on a couple of occasions already, though not by Koreans. What really fascinates me is the U.S. Armed Forces Network, a large military channel which plays on channel 2 of my hotel TV, and it has been teaching me things.

Now I know that sexual assault is bad and should be reported (no shit), and that military research saves lives, and that 2% of Americans are assuring freedom of speech for the rest, that May is the “military appreciation month”, though that should not stop you from appreciating the military on other months, too, that there are very cute bartenders who can spin a hula hoop while balancing a Corona bottle on their head, that railway cars docking can be very erotic, and that one should think before dressing in disco clothes or imitating Don Johnson in public, because not all countries are as forgiving as USA. (Very sage advice, I might add.)

It’s interesting to note that they seem to be actively encouraging interaction with the local communities. The programming they play is “safe” home entertainment, with familiar shows such as the Jay Leno Show, Lost, The Family Guy and all sorts of dramas. At least they’ve got David Letterman, with an occasional Bush joke and pretty blatant ad placement. There are none of your standard ads, but either very high-brow, patriotic, tens-of-millions-of-dollars advertisements; or really cheap ones built on an old Amiga or something. Nice contrast there. Gives this sort of a hobby-like image.

Monday, 15-May-06 20:20
Australian aboriginal children abuse

When you can't sleep on a business trip, you watch TV. Channelsurfing, I ended up watching the ABC Lateline program. And now I most certainly can't sleep.

It appears that for a long time, there have been constant sexual abuses of children, down to the age of seven months in Australian aboriginal communities, where violence is common, there is no police, and a strong culture of silence which is very punitive: If you go to court and tell your story, the accused person's family will exert physical violence on you, for getting that person into trouble.

These are not isolated and anecdotal cases. Crown prosecutor Dr. Nanette Rogers in Alice Springs has released a paper detailing these atrocities, and was interviewed for TV.

(Quotes from the transcript; RealMedia and Windows Media also available. You may not want to read or listen.)

TONY JONES: Let's go to another case. In 2003 there was perhaps even a worse case. It involved a much younger baby - seven-months-old. Can you tell us about that?

NANETTE ROGERS: That was in a remote community. The child or the baby was asleep with other adults in a room in the house. The offender came along and removed the sleeping baby and was in the process of taking it outside the house. One of the adult women woke up and took the baby back and put it back into bed with her and they went back to sleep. Unbeknownst to the sleeping adults, he came back again and removed the child. A man in the house was - saw someone on the verandah at some point, he went out, and he found the offender with this baby and the baby was naked from the waist down. He didn't know anything untoward had happened. He persuaded the man to relinquish the baby because it was cold and all the rest of it. So the offender relinquished the baby after some talking and the man then put it back inside and they went to sleep. In the morning, the mother of the baby - she'd been drinking, she was still drunk - she came back to the house. She changed the clothes of the baby. There was blood on the clothing. The mother then went - left the house.

TONY JONES: She didn't notice? Is the evidence, in fact, that she was too drunk to realise what had happened to her own baby?

NANETTE ROGERS: That's one way of looking at it. The...when the mother left the house, one of the other adult women went and got the child, changed the baby's nappy, noticed the blood and so on and that baby, the seven-month-old baby and the two-year-old both required surgery for external and internal injuries under general anaesthetic.

TONY JONES: There are other cases. One of them is almost too depraved to talk about, but one feels you have to, in a way, get these things out in the open. But this is of an 18-year-old petrol sniffer who actually drowns a young girl while he's raping her?

and later on, about the aboriginal culture:

NANETTE ROGERS: That was a matter involving a young girl, aged about 14, who had some schooling in Darwin. She was at Yarralin, which is in the Victoria River Downs district and she was promised to a much older man. He came and took her - to take her physically and her grandmother instead - and the young girl didn't want to go. Instead of supporting her, her grandmother basically forced her into the car and assisted the older promised man in removing her physically from the community, where he then had sexual intercourse with her and kept her for a number of days at his outstation. And she's an example of - she was not complicit. She did not want to go. She - you know, it's that kind of new breed of young women hopefully coming through who see the choices that they've got and also, importantly, see the choices that non-Indigenous young women have in the broader society.

The Australian past is shameful, and the current situation is not too good either.

Monday, 15-May-06 05:47
Todays word: "huhudious"
huhudious adj. an outrageous statement or a point of view or behaviour that beggars belief. A close synonym to hubristic, breathtaking and preposterous, with the same notion of brazen, yet insouciant, arrogance on the part of the interlocutor. Pronounced hoo-hoo-dious, this word is a neologism from the people of Ghana, coined circa 1975 when military buffoons were looting the country's finances while claiming they were fighting corruption.

What a great word!

(From Koranteng's Toli.)

Saturday, 13-May-06 19:53
hic!

Verydrunk right now. Ended up in Seoul, South korea. Nice people. Like very loud htings. Lots of noice about. My ears are ringing.

UMTS networks are available, but their coverage is not very goofd, not even in Seoul.

In futher niews, I would like to point out that haengul is pretty easy to learn, but it is nigh imposslbe to learn Korean after five beers an dlots of oicse in an all-you_can-eat-and-drink bar.

Local clubbing scene very loud. Mjust go to bed now. Local taxis not very good in english. Lucky I ended up in my hotel.

Sleep sounds like a very good idea right abot noow. Lot sof jegltag about.

Thursday, 11-May-06 09:52
Riding on the wiki hype curve

The new Google Trends is an interesting tool which allows you to view different keywords and how popular they've been over time.

Looking at this curve for wikis, it certainly seems that interest in wikis is growing rapidly. Much more than in blogs, for example (which have been growing, too).

I have certainly noticed the same trend with JSPWiki. We've had a steady, growing flow of new people on the mailing list, and download rates are growing nicely. We're also getting new developers to help with the work, so much that it's being less and less "my project" and becoming a real community-based open source thingy. Which is very, very nice.

Wednesday, 10-May-06 13:54
RFID in home use

Timo Arnall has kindly published an interview on his "Touch" -project, detailing how he sees the everyday world, augmentable through metadata on objects themselves.

The difference between touch-based augmented reality and traditional augmented reality is the same as with object-oriented programming and procedural programming: in the former you associate data with objects; with the latter you have a single control point through which all information flows. Adding objects that can describe themselves is a far more scalable model. (Yes, I know I am slightly misusing the term "augmented reality" here, which usually requires 3D registration, but I have no better term yet.)

That's also the cool thing about NFC-based systems compared to RFID: you can embed way more data on an object than just a simple identifier. This allows objects to become independent of some huge database out there on the web, while at the same time taking advantage of it, if necessary.

For example, you could embed short descriptions, and then add Google queries on the same tag to get access to a live document, if necessary.

"Tangibility." I like that word. Rolls of the tongue in a vague, yet nonthreating way :-)

</randomramble>

Wednesday, 10-May-06 11:36
Record industry: "Let people copy music for their personal use"

Sounds great, doesn't it? Well, it's just more or less codifying the existing behaviour: in the UK, it's currently illegal to rip your own CD onto your iPod, so the music industry now asked the government to make it legal.

The BPI has vigorously prosecuted consumers who share music illegally over the internet using peer-to-peer (P2P) websites. It wants the current legislative protections to remain in place for these music "pirates", but believes allowances should be made for individuals who simply want to copy music for their own use.

"This is about the UK music industry responding effectively to the changing way music is consumed," said a senior industry figure yesterday.

Of course, with the EUCD directive, you are still a criminal if you break a DRM system to rip your "copy protected" CD, but it's a good thing that someone out there still has some grasp of reality. It's not exactly much, though: I doubt anyone was sitting home waiting for permission to transfer music from their CDs to their iPods.

I've said it before and I've said it now: copying bits cannot be prevented, and therefore there is no point to try and restrict it (except by hiding them in places where they cannot be found). It's how you use those bits that determines who should get paid and whom you should ask permission from... And legislation should reflect that - it's a reality of the digital age.

(Via Digg.)

Tuesday, 09-May-06 09:08
Life after Star Wreck

The people who brought you Star Wreck, one of the most watched Finnish movies of all time (if not the watched), have now opened the web pages for their new movie "Iron Sky" at http://www.ironsky.net/. Not much info there yet, though.

Saturday, 06-May-06 17:29
Vote Lordi

Please vote for Lordi, the Finnish representative in the Eurovision song contest on the 18th and 20th of May. Unfortunately, I'll be in Seoul for the whole week, so I'll miss the whole debacle, and probably won't even be able to vote.

The thing is - Finland has never won the Eurovision song contest. It's become almost a national shame, and countless are the hordes of elderly people who write to newspapers every day, debating why Finns never win (ok, slight exaggeration there, but I'm taking some artistic liberties here).

But should Finland win this time with something that looks and sounds like something left on the cutting room floor of a bad horror movie, it would probably make us tumble into a national crisis of unprecedented proportions. Which, I think, would be good. Shaking things up every now and then is a great idea.

So, any Europeans out there, give us a bit of push, willya? We're standing on the ledge, just waiting for you...

(votelordi.org via Pinseri. Please distribute the link - it's a good cause!)

Saturday, 06-May-06 00:08
Gone with the wind

Goodbye, makasiinit. T'was fun knowing you.

Somehow, despite all the danger and hassle, this somehow feels like a fitting end for a place which was always a home for alternative cultures. The final anarchy.

(Nice pictures in Flickr about the fire.)

Friday, 05-May-06 01:08
4400 mistakes

Watched the pilot episode of 4400 today (yeah, so we're a couple of years behind. No worries.)

While I really liked the show, the physicist in me screamed at the crappy physics. If a thing is approaching Earth 3000 km/s, and it takes about a half an hour to impact, it's about 5.4 million kilometers away. Now, a Titan II missile may have the capability to reach space (and even achieve escape velocity, 11.2 km/s), but a it most certainly does not travel 5.4 million klicks in 30 seconds. That would make it go at about half the speed of light. They could've rigged a VW Beetle to drive down the freeway at Mach 3, and it would've been more believable.

Of course, all nuclear weapon carrying Titan II:s were dismantled in 1984, 20 years before the show timeline, but...

It's just that if a show is scifi, the writers could at least try to stay true to some reality. Remember the math problems at school? The "If Jill starts from New York on the 10:02 train, and Jack starts from Cleveland on the 9:30 train, at what point do they meet?" This is just the same:

"If a comet is hurtling towards Earth at 3000 km/s, and is 28 minutes away; and we launch 15 missiles towards it with the top speed of 12 km/s, how far away from Earth will the nuclear explosions be, and would it do any good to you to put a paperbag over your head?"

(Having said that, yes, I liked the pilot episode, but I sincerely do hope the writers stick to the human element of the story, and steer away from any scientific explanations of anything. Calculating such basic things as speeds can be so difficult.)

Update: I said the VW Beetle part as a joke, but it turns out someone already fitted a jet engine on a Beetle. Via Slashdot.

Wednesday, 03-May-06 12:17
Apache for Nokia S60 cell phones - the release!

I wrote earlier about Apache web server for mobile phones, and I was just informed that the release binaries are now available!

So, if you ever fancied running Apache 2 on your cell phone, now is your chance. Should run on any S60 2nd edition Feature Pack 2 phone (like 6630).

The best thing is that it includes mod_python, based on the Python port on S60. Who's the first one to run Moin Moin Wiki on their cell phone? ;-)

(There's also mod_dav, so you should be able to remotely mount your phone's memory card so that you can access it on the web from your home PC. I think.)

(Thanks to Johan for the info!)

Tuesday, 02-May-06 15:01
Japanese the most common language in the blogosphere

...so says Sifry's state of the blogosphere. Japanese has overtaken English as the most common language in the blogosphere, with 37 % of all posts being in Japanese.

Finnish, of course, being nowhere in sight.

Friday, 28-Apr-06 15:50
Trying out instruments constitutes public performance?

At least, so says the Performing Rights Society in the UK.

MUSIC shop boss Steve Kowalski has been told he will have to pay to play if his customers want to try out his instruments before they buy.

And that, he says, is a fiddle.

The Performing Rights Society claims he needs a licence if he, or any of his punters, want to "have a go" on anything from a harmonica to a harpsichord or castanets to clarinets.

Again, is this what the artists and performers want? Isn't this a case of dogs biting their own?

It's very instructive to read the comments for this article, as every single one of them - coming from both artists and non-artists alike - condemns this to pretty much the lowest Hell. People are not taking this too well, and any business model that is based on annoying customers is not very likely to succeed... Jonathan Schwartz (CTO of Sun Microsystems) says very succintly in this podcast: The whole issue boils down simply to "What is fair use?". He's not against DRM as such, but reminds that any attempt to alienate people by limiting their right to fair use - and what they consider to be fair use, not what corporations consider fair use - is going to succeed, and that company will lose in the marketplace.

(Via Marginaali.)

Wednesday, 26-Apr-06 20:30
Canadian artists say "not in our names"

A number of Canadian artists, including names such as Avril Lavigne and Sarah ~McLachlan, have established a new organization to voice the musicians, songwriters and producers opinions to Canadian copyright and cultural policy.

They state their intentions in a white paper, which is quite worth reading.

Multinational record labels are vocal in their desire for changes to copyright laws that would facilitate lawsuits against our fans and increase their control over the enjoyment of music. To our alarm, the labels advance these demands not merely on their own behalf, but in our names as necessary for the well-being of individual Canadian musicians in the digital age. Today the people who actually create Canadian music are speaking out for themselves. The CMCC is united under three key principles:
  1. Suing Our Fans is Destructive and Hypocritical. Artists do not want to sue music fans. The labels have been suing our fans against artists’ will, and laws enabling these suits cannot be justified in artists’ names.
  2. Digital Locks are Risky and Counterproductive. Artists do not support using digital locks to increase the labels’ control over the distribution, use and enjoyment of music or laws that prohibit circumvention of such technological measures. Consumers should be able to transfer the music they buy to other formats under a right of fair use, without having to pay twice.
  3. Cultural Policy Should Support Actual Canadian Artists. The vast majority of new Canadian music is not promoted by major labels, which focus mostly on foreign artists. The government should use other policy tools to support actual Canadian artists and a thriving musical and cultural scene.

*applause*

(Via digg.)

Update: Michael Geist puts it in more perspective:

No one should underestimate the importance of this development. After today, House of Commons committee hearings on copyright must include representation from the CMCC. Policy makers and politicians must take the time to consult with the artists themselves. Most importantly, government ministers will no longer be able to make policies in the artists' name, when those policies represent the views of lobbyists, not artists.
Wednesday, 26-Apr-06 18:20
Finnish blog to be published as book

Minttu Hapuli's "Selibaattipäiväkirjat" ("Celibacy diaries") will be published as a book in the fall.

Well done and congratulations!

Not that getting your blog published would be a major goal to many bloggers, but it's still good to see someone working hard and succeeding.

Wednesday, 26-Apr-06 16:28
Join City Car Club for free!

Since I advertised CCC shamelessly a couple of days ago, I might as well mention this new offer they have: If you join now, type "VAPPURIEHA" on the promotion code (suosittelutunnus) field, and my name in the "recommender" (suosittelija) -field, and you get to join for free, and also get one free rental. And you get to be in a raffle, too. The offer is valid until 21.5.

For the purposes of this one offer, you're all my friends, yes? Even the ones who hate me and are reading this blog just to see one slip-up which they could use to tarnish my reputation forever. If you've thought about car sharing, here's a chance to try it out.

(Disclosure: I'm a happy CCC member, and if you join, I get an opportunity to win something (as do you). Also, car sharing works better if there are more people joining in, so I'll be happier too. And it's better for the environment than everyone owning their own cars. So you see, it's all about ME and my own nefarious purposes... Hehe.)

Tuesday, 25-Apr-06 23:56
Bits can be scary

I just arranged together 37,485,392 bits, put it on a web site and called this particular arrangement of bits "JSPWiki 2.4.0 beta binary zip archive".

Sometimes you just gotta stop tweaking and kick it out of the door.

Good night, and good luck.

Tuesday, 25-Apr-06 16:26
Man hunts sex offenders

In USA, the Sex Offender Registry is a public resource, so that people can look up other people and see if anyone on their street happens to be a sex offender (i.e. convicted of sexual assault, rape, paedophilia, etc). This is done in the interest of public safety and general good. A common reason is that looking up people may save your kids from a pretty bad fate. It's an example of the transparent society, where all you have done is public.

It also has a downside. A serious downside. A 20-year old man looked up several people from the registry, and proceeded to kill them using high-tech tools such as GPS. He killed two, and visited the homes of four, before he shot himself.

It is said that "you gotta take the bad with the good". But is the good worth the bad?

Monday, 24-Apr-06 11:04
Jedi breakfast

Fun short flick on Jedi breakfast. Just to start off the week...

(Via digg.)

Sunday, 23-Apr-06 23:34
Looks and authority going hand in hand?

Why are most of the people in the corporate HQ both better-looking and better-dressed than in the random engineering pits that dot the landscape around it? And which way does the cause and effect flow - you either end up in the HQ because you look better, or that once you are in the HQ, you start looking after yourself more?

Or maybe it's the better lighting.

(Not that I'm complaining. "Idle wondering" might be more accurate.)

Friday, 21-Apr-06 21:17
VP of Finnish RIAA: "DRM is good for consumers"

Welho-magazine 2/2006 (translation mine):

"All this is made possible through Digital Rights Management, DRM. It's also a good thing for consumers. We can now vary the prices flexibly according to the use", ponders Kyyrä [VP of ÄKT, the Finnish equivalent of RIAA].

Um. If this means that I can get non-DRM music, even at a higher price, for my own flexible uses, then I agree. But if it means "we can give you the option to make one or two or three copies of this music, and for an extra fee you can listen it between 22-07", then no, then it's not good for the consumer. Stateth Cory Doctorow: "Nobody woke up in the morning and hoped they could do less with their music."

However, he does have a good point:

"You don't have to own all the music."

Yup. And this is what digitalization gives us - because duplication and storage is (for all practical purposes) free, ownership becomes meaningless. You start to pay for services instead of owning a copy of something.

If hard drive space continues to grow at the current rate, by 2025 the entire music ever recorded in the entire world will fit on your iPod. For $500. Bend your brain around that.

Estimation based on 1M songs/year, 150 years = 150M songs @ about 3MB/song is roughly 500 TB. Storage space goes up by a factor of ten every five years, again roughly. A 600TB iPod would thus be available in 20 years.
Friday, 21-Apr-06 18:10
Bluetagging - friend or foe?

I'll highlight this interesting point from a recent Flickr uploader review article by Chris Heathcote.

The most controversial feature of them all is storing and publishing Bluetooth IDs. Are these personal information? Are you allowed to store this data (particularly in the EU)? It’s, well, illuminating from a privacy angle, but my take on it is that metadata is always useful. Already in Helsinki, with probably a few tens of users of both Meaning and Context Watcher, we’re seeing intersections between Bluetooth device IDs on photos: this means that a particular device/individual was nearby both ekurvine and myself when we took the pictures. The obvious benefits are that you could search for your own Bluetooth ID to get photos taken around you – such as at events, down the pub or at parties (could also be done similarly using a combination of cell ID and time).

To put it in another way: if you have your Bluetooth on, and someone snaps a picture with a camera phone near by, you might get "caught on the image", even if you don't appear in the picture at all. This is because every Bluetooth device has an unique identifier, and it announces it to about a 10-20 m radius, and this ID can be captured in the image, thus giving the viewer of the image information about who was present at the time.

A Bluetooth ID consists of 12 digits (like 01:02:03:04:05:06), so it's difficult to say who it is. But you can also ask for the Bluetooth friendly name (like "Janne's phone"), and one does need to be a datamining guru to figure out your BT address, if there is enough data available. To paint a nasty scenario: your jealous boyfriend checks out your BT address, and then goes online to find out where you have been moving lately to check up on you. This may become even more problematic, if any of the pictures is tagged with GPS data.

Now, here's the interesting question: does collecting the Bluetooth IDs which are present constitute collecting an person registry - and do you commit a violation of the Finnish law by posting an image with Bluetooth IDs onto a public website?

And regardless of whether it is illegal or not, should it be controlled, and how on Earth could you possibly control it, even if you wanted to? Perhaps the transparent society will happen completely accidentally and spontaneously, brought on us by teenagers who just want to have a bit of fun?

And, if private citizens are allowed to breach everyone's privacy and in the process collect huge databases on foreign soil, then would it not be hypocritical to say that governments and corporations can't do it too? What is the real difference between surveillance and sousveillance, in the end?

Anyway, if you're worried about your privacy, you might want to consider turning your Bluetooth to "non-discoverable mode", i.e. turn off the visibility to all devices... (Finnish Nokia S60 phones: Bluetooth->"Puhelimen näkyvyys" -> "Piilotettu").

Thursday, 20-Apr-06 15:16
Open Source developer gets bill for $203,000

Blimey! Big boys bullying poor people, this is what it is, I'll say!

Ben Jacobsen, a model railroad hobbyist, wrote a bunch of software to let you connect your computer to your model railroad and control trains with it. He chose to not only give the software away for free, but to make the source code available as well, so that the model railroading/hacker community could improve it and customize it to their liking.

And then KAM Industries, maker of commercial software that serves a similar role, tried asserting their 'patent rights' over doing just that.

When the author of the open source railroad controller asked for additional information about what claims were being infringed, KAM sent him an invoice for $203,000, claiming that the 7000 or so users of his software resulted in damages of at least $29/each.

It turns out that the patent in question was applied for after Ben Jacobsen published the source code of his program on the internet, and therefore his program qualifies as prior art. Unfortunately, because of the way these patent disputes work, it may be very costly for Ben Jacobsen to defend his right to keep working on his own software.

To me this smells like an old grudge - there are some papers referring to a domain name dispute on the web site. Maybe KAM is just trying to own the market by any means necessary?

Anyway, the whole story is like from the nightmares of any open source developer - you write your software for years, get a bit of fame, get loads of happy users, a bit of money, and WHAM! Some big company tries to squash you like a bug because you are too good at what you do.

Thursday, 20-Apr-06 13:55
Car sharing in Helsinki

Niko Nyman says he'd love to take part in reasonably-priced car sharing in Finland.

I've been a happy member of the City Car Club in Helsinki from the beginning of the year. I find the prices reasonable, and the availability of the cars excellent, even though Saturdays can be busy enough to warrant a reservation the previous day. Reservations are done using an on-line system, which is quite okay and easy to use, though it won't win any design awards. You can also call the reservation centre.

The cars I've used had 40-90 thousand kilometers behind them, so they're not the shiny new ones you get from your friendly neighbourhood rental agency. Most of the cars are station wagons, and the age does show on some particular cars. However, they've always been clean and good to drive, and some of them have been really nice (the Honda Stream in particular).

They have parking areas all around the capital area, mostly concentrated on areas with high population density. The keys are left in the car, and you can open the car with your cell phone, no problem there.

I'm still trying to go without owning a car, as the costs are pretty steep. However, the older you get the more difficult it seems to be without one, and you no longer have the time to travel by bus to everywhere. I used to rent a lot, but for now, car sharing seems to be a satisfying solution.

(Though, I wouldn't mind more entrepreneurs in this area, either. As far as I know, City Car Club is the only one right now. Competition is good.)

((By the way, they also rent Segways.))

Wednesday, 19-Apr-06 14:07
Recording industry vs. People

If you want to see what kind of tactics the recording industry is using in the USA to "protect the artists", you should check out a blog called The Recording Industry vs. The People. Scary stuff. Is this really what the artists really want?

I am being sued by the RIAA for copyright infringement, and the case has been going on for the past 2 years.

So far they have deposed all 5 of my children, and my wife, and myself. I also had to fill out admissions and interrogatory answers twice so far and they are still not satisfied with my answers. Most of them I answered that I did not know. I did not know, and was completely unaware of whatever the RIAA is claiming happened. My responses were honest, but that was not good enough for them.

I am defending myself in this case because I can't afford a lawyer, and it's hard for me to understand all of the paperwork and the rules of the court. The RIAA is on its 6th different group of lawyers. It seems like they are bottom feeders.

...

The real shame is that I had no knowledge of any of this until I was served in the mail. Apparently my daughter who was 12 years old at the time had been listening to music on Kazaa

I do not even know how it got on the computer.

I know that I didn't do anything wrong and I am going to defend myself, but I'm scared to death of the outcome.

And some tactics RIAA uses:

The RIAA is aware that most of the defendants do not live in the state, and are not subject to the jurisdiction of the Court, but bring the case anyway.

...

The only "notice" the "John Does" get is a vague letter from their ISP, along with copies of an ex parte discovery order and a subpoena.

They are not given copies of (i) the summons and complaint, (ii) the papers upon which the Court granted the ex parte discovery order, or (iii) the court rules needed to defend themselves. Most recipients of this "notice" do not even realize that it means that there is a lawsuit against them. None of the recipients of the "notice" have any idea what they are being sued for, or what basis the Court had for granting the ex parte discovery order and for allowing the RIAA to obtain a subpoena.

If the guys kid was caught shoplifting bread, this would've been dealt with by the local police, and the whole thing would've been gone and forgotten by now. Why is then copyright infringement constantly compared to stealing bread?

Wednesday, 19-Apr-06 10:27
Boo hiss

Jyri left the company. Bugger. I was hoping to fondle his, er, devices in the future.

Anyway, Jyri is one of those people who'll work quietly on a revolution, and leave everyone better off after he launches it to an unsuspecting world. Watch that space.

I did something that sounds completely nuts. I resigned from my position at Nokia Multimedia after just six weeks. That so because it turned out unfeasible to do what I consider sensible there. Better to acknowledge it in good spirit. There are some good people there and we remain friends.
Wednesday, 19-Apr-06 10:20
Opt-in calendaring

Paul Jardine writes in the comments of an earlier entry:

Structured meeting agendas tagged with the relevant words might be an idea to ensure that we only have to attend the portion of the meeting that we want to (and it would make it more difficult for people to call a meeting!) I also want to have a calendaring application that allows me to opt-in to meeting times, rather than opt-out by making up fake excuses. Monday afternoon is a time I don't mind having meetings, so I mark that space as 'available for meetings - but only with the relevant tags!'

Yes! At the moment our calendars are by default empty, and by empty we signify availability, as in "he has nothing better to do except attend meetings". This somehow makes meetings the higher order of life, separate from the drudgery of actual work. However, if our calendars treated work time in the same way as we treat it, the default state would be full, as in "I am not available, since I am working", and you would mark time down that is available for things like meetings.

You may remember the Iteration List I presented a few months ago. One of its strengths is that you can give preference to time: "e" meaning "not really, but can be arranged under social pressure", and "?" meaning "I have no clue yet". This gives far more information than a simple available/not available system, because it allows people to have a simple ranking of their free time. It approximates (though very, very roughly) the real-world conversation where people go "hmmm" and "well" and "that's a bit inconvinient" a lot, and thus inform the others how much they prefer a given time.

One thing that would make my life a lot happier would be to have this sort of opt-in calendaring in Outlook, and just the simple ability to signal preference in my calendar, even if only at two or three levels.

Wednesday, 19-Apr-06 00:51
Good podcast on enterprise blogging

I like the IT Conversations podcast: it makes up well missing all those conferences now that I switched to another unit within the corporation. Now that my commute is 45 minutes one way (ugh), at least I have the time to listen to podcasts. And I got my own room. Which is nice - I've spent all my life in open offices. Though if there wasn't a public walkway right outside my window, and people walking on it didn't frighten me, and I could actually see outside, it would be a lot nicer.

In the Business Blogging, Doing it Right -episode Scott Anderson of HP talks about how HP does both internal and external blogging, and presents a convincing (if slightly boring) case study on enterprise blogging from what almost could be called a megacorporation. And guess what? It boils down to one thing: blogging allows you to be closer to your customers and colleagues. Which is good for business. (Unless you are a crook, in which case you probably want to be as far away of them as possible.)

I feel feverish.

Glxblt.

Tuesday, 18-Apr-06 16:30
I Hate Cilantro

For some reason, I get a very, very strong reaction whenever I taste the nasty spice called "cilantro", also known as "coriander", or "korianteri" in Finnish. Almost any food can be spoiled by adding tiny amounts of cilantro. It's strange: it's not that I have an allergy as in I-get-warts-and-sneezes-oh-god-can't-breathe-help-me-aargh kind of allergy, but I seem to be particularly susceptible to it. Most people say it's just spicy, but for me it's a completely overwhelming experience that overshadows any other taste that might have been in the food - even in small amounts. It's strange, as I don't consider myself particularly sensitive usually, and I do enjoy spicy food of the "the person who said that only lazy people get sweaty while eating had obviously never had any habaneros" -kind.

On the internet, there's a community for everyone. IHateCilantro.com could be the place for me.

Not that I would join any club that would have me as a member, mind you.

(Thanks to ebu for finding this.)

Thursday, 13-Apr-06 22:59
Battle of Wesnoth

Battle of Wesnoth is a turn-based, free real-time strategy game. And it's a great way to spend a few hours. The game has still a bunch of rough edges, but in case you have a knack for Command & Conquer, you probably want to check this one out.

There are versions for Mac, Windows, ~BeOS, Linux, ~FreeBSD, and even the good ol' Amiga. You can also download the source code under the GNU Public License - so it's free in every sense of the word.

(I don't remember anymore where I got this one from: I have spent the last three hours playing it... Oops.)

Wednesday, 12-Apr-06 23:40
Oh, the PAIN!

Remember Digimon? Well, who cares about the series, but watching the near-legendary original Finnish dub from a bunch of guys called the "Agapio Racing Team" is still slightly - but only slightly - more tolerable than dying in a mad dentist's chair a day before retirement.

Wednesday, 12-Apr-06 00:46
Wiki or Blog? No matter - just sign it!

Heh. The great blog handsign controversy has lead to the wiki handsign.

Following the collaborative theme of wikis themselves, this sign requires two people to throw.

I just love the random internet noise ;-)

Wednesday, 12-Apr-06 00:37
Looking for a place to hold a wedding reception near Helsinki

And before you ask, no, this is not for me. A friend (no, really, honest!) is looking for a nice place where she could have the reception for about 200 guests - but so that she could bring in her own catering. The place needs to be within 200 km of Helsinki (the closer the better). Apparently the catering prices for most places are through the roof these days.

Recommendations in comments or directly by email.

Let's see if LazyWeb works ;-)

(In Real Life, world is still revolving and I am somewhat miffed at work: our office is moving to Pitäjänmäki and my commute is going to triple to about 45 minutes one-way. Ouch! Though I'm going to get my own room, which I get to decorate with empty paper cups, yellow stickers and lots of white paper with incoherent scribblings. It's the second time in my professional life, and I am not quite sure how to handle it.)

Saturday, 08-Apr-06 01:44
N91 with iTunes plugin, but bad DRM

By the way, in case you didn't know: N91, the Nokia music phone with a 4 Gigabyte hard drive also has a Mac plugin for iTunes synchronization...

Of course, music bought from the iTunes Music Store is not compatible with it, but then again, they're not compatible with anyone. Or, to be exact, the file format is, as N91 plays AAC, but Apple is using "Digital Rights Management" to make sure nobody else than Apple devices can play the music.

Anyhoo. I've come to realize why DRM bugs me so much: it's because it removes choice. Once you pay money for something, you would expect to be able to treat it as something you've just bought. Like sell it onwards, or put it on multiple computers. The idea of "leasing music" is alien to most of us.

However, a Korean company may have just found the answer: They charge two different prices - a cheap price for "limited" songs with DRM on them, and a more expensive price for the open format file, with no use restrictions (aside from the normal ones imposed by copyright law). To me this makes a lot of sense: it's like the difference between buying a normal version or a professional version of software - the other one just has functionalities disabled.

You see, in a lot of use cases it really does not matter whether the file is DRM'd or not: I'd happily buy DRM'd video files, say, on a subscription basis, to see new TV series. And then, if I really liked it, I would buy the open versions (like DVDs, which for all intents and purposes are open these days) so that they would be mine without the additional burden of whether the company who issued them is going to go bust and all my media would suddenly become unusable overnight.

The big rub is that all I ever hear from the big money-making organizations is that "DRM is a must, and everybody who says otherwise is a pirate". This is not so, as many people keep pointing out. The content is going to get on the internet anyway, regardless of the restrictions and protections based on the files, and the real pirates, the ones who make money, just simply don't care about this stuff. To them, it's a non-issue - they just duplicate the copy protections, too.

I like what last.fm is doing. I pay a certain amount of money to them, and it's just like having my own music on the web. They play stuff that I actually do like, and they do it well. But for all intents and purposes, the music from last.fm is copy-protected. I'd have to run through a bunch of hoops to get it somehow archived on my hard drive - but I don't simply care. I can't "order" a certain piece of music to be played either, probably because of legal reasons. However, I'm paying a monthly fee to get access to my music library (or something similar anyway) to get good music - but the music that I really do care about, the one I want to pay for, that I want in a format which is unencumbered by artificial usage restrictions. Like CD, but I'm not picky.

There are more choices than slamming heavy DRM on top of everything that moves. The Korean example is a good one, and one that I have no problem with: I have the freedom to get the unencumbered version if I want - I may have to pay a bit more, but that's just normal business. My problem is with the idea that somehow this freedom to choose would be bad, and that everything must have mandatory copy protection and rights management. This is the view of the companies who own the patents on DRM systems, not companies who wish to serve consumers better. As Cory Doctorow says, "nobody woke up in the morning wishing they could do less with their music."

To me, that's just load of bull. DRM does not work for the purpose it is advertised, i.e. to stop people from copying copyrighted information. The only real use for DRM is market lockdown - which is what Apple is doing. You can't switch away from an iPod once you start buying music from the iTMS (unless you're smart enough to burn and rip all the music you bought, but even then you take a big hit in the quality). This has nothing to do with piracy. The internet is already full of songs that should not be there, and the laws are already telling you not to upload and download. Why would you need DRM then for?

And, while I defend the right of people to be stupid about this matter, I will also exercise my right to call them stupid. This dichotomy is something that seems to unnerve lots of people. It tends to bake my noodle at night, too. But maybe if I keep talking about this, it'll some day become clear to me and others...

Friday, 07-Apr-06 17:23
My most hated mobile apps, pt III

To continue my series on the mobile apps I hate the most, I'm going to introduce the app I call the MBA Killer Application.

It's not been once or twice that a young guy in a new suit approaches me and, with eyes lit with excitement, exclaims: "We should have an application which would automatically compare calendars and schedule meetings more efficiently so that we can have more meetings!"

After which I usually grab my most wretched look and sob.

You see, I firmly believe that if we should have any mobile meeting applications, they should be mostly concerned about arranging our schedule so that we could have less meetings. The world does not become a better place if you have more meetings, and while certain amount of meetings is unavoidable (and even great!), trying to schedule your life around them, well, kills you. (Hence the "killer app".)

We at work use Outlook as the calendaring system. Outlook has this wonderful feature which allows you to check if someone is "free" at any given time, so you can schedule a meeting with them. While basically this is a nice idea, it results in odd things like people purposefully marking blocks of time for "work on XXX" or for "free time" or "time to spend with the kids", simply because otherwise they would be all scheduled out. It's a sad thing when you cease being in control of your own time. And I know a lot of people who do that (I do it, too, on occasion).

The thing is that the freedom to lie is a fundamental freedom for us. An automatic system which schedules meetings based squarely on cold facts does not allow us to lie, or even state our preferences: we lose the freedom to think "It's Jim's birthday so I was planning to leave work a bit early to get stone drunk" but say "no, I need to take the car to the shop". Meetings are held only because sometimes getting face-to-face is the best way to accomplish agreement - and it's not going to help that half of the participants would rather be someplace else.

Meetings are a great tool at establishing the common hallucination that we're actually getting things done. A certain number of them are necessary to keep the wheels turning, but anyone who wishes that they could have more meetings should probably be slam-dunk into a large barrel of waste paper and ball-point pens, and rolled down the hill to the recycling plant - in the ever-so-popular Brothers Grimm style. (Or was it snakes and a river? Can't remember.)

We should have calendaring applications that make arranging meetings more difficult, so that you would only schedule those meetings that are genuinely useful.

Wednesday, 05-Apr-06 19:15
Windows on Apple

OK, so everybody's going nuts over the Apple Bootcamp, which essentially allows you to install Windows XP on your shiny new Apple.

Considering that Apple makes money by selling hardware (and practically only by selling HW; iTMS does not count here), it makes sense for them to do this: better to have an officially supported version for those who like shiny stuff and get their money instead of letting geeks hack everything (because they eventually would).

OSX does not any money make: it's just a vehicle to sell more shiny boxes. iTMS does not make much money for Apple: again, it's just a vehicle to sell even more shiny boxes.

Addressing scarcity, i.e. shipping shiny boxes is where the money is. Trying to sell something that is ephemeral, cannot be touched, and is easily duplicated in someone's garage is a lot more difficult to do well... You might even have to pressure people.

Wednesday, 05-Apr-06 09:53
RIAA profits nearly 100 M by suing P2P users

The following estimate comes from Pirate Times:

Let’s say all 18,337 USA citizens sued have settled for $5,000 USD each, to avoid going to court and possibly losing their homes. That would give the RIAA massive profits of $91,685,000! The RIAA has profited nearly $100million by suing individual who are too helpless to fight back, since their ’sue em’ all’ campaign began, years ago.

This is about one quarter of all the money they make from ringtone downloads for 2005, and also a pretty hefty chunk of money. Especially considering that P2P users are in fact, quite likely to buy music after they've downloaded it.

The Rolling Stone magazine offers another explanation for declining record sales for major record companies:

As the majors stumbled, independent labels gained market share, accounting for eighteen percent of CD sales in '05. Indie labels proved especially adept at Internet marketing via outlets like MySpace; the emo label Victory Records sold 558,000 copies of Hawthorne Heights' album The Silence in Black and White without radio play. And several hip indie acts -- the Arcade Fire, Interpol and Bright Eyes -- sold more than 250,000 copies each. The indie model of earning profits on a broad range of small-scale releases, rather than focusing on blockbusters, may offer a new direction for the majors. "The major labels want to say the glass is half full," says Gwen Stefani's manager Jim Guerinot. "I think everybody's getting the message: You better get a fucking smaller glass. The music business is a different game."

Update: oops, I said 100M/year; I meant 100M total until now.

Tuesday, 04-Apr-06 18:27
Americans think they can make a difference

Good on you! Now if only your government would agree...

An overwhelming majority of Americans think they can help reduce global warming and are willing to make the sacrifices that are needed, a new poll shows.

(Chicago Sun Times via Slashdot.)

Tuesday, 04-Apr-06 17:23
Searching hand-drawn comics?

In the heels of Google Book Search comes Oh No Robot, a site which searches comics published on the Internet. Whee! If only they had a larger base of comics to choose from... But they seem to rely on users to do the actual transcription; they don't have any OCR technology. You just add a bit of Javascript on your web page as the comic author, and someone visiting will do the transcription. Hopefully. Or you can do it yourself.

(Thanks to Murali for the tip.)

Tuesday, 04-Apr-06 12:51
Hardware geeks, beware

If you're a serious HW geek, this new gadget from Techsol should probably make you drool. Very interesting, if you're one of those guys who know the hot end of a soldering iron from the cold end.

Monday, 03-Apr-06 19:15
Don't date him, girl

Schizo-Janne points to Don't Date Him Girl, a web site which allows you to post a guy's picture, complete with personal information, and tell everyone how bad that guy is and why nobody should ever date him.

I wonder, why would such an obvious libel/slander -magnet of a site even bother to have a privacy policy? To quote:

  • We take appropriate security measures to protect against unauthorized access to or unauthorized alteration, disclosure or destruction of data.
  • We restrict access to your personally identifying information to employees who need to know that information in order to operate, develop or improve our services.

..but anybody who has NOT agreed to the terms of service and just happens to have his face plastered on your web site is free meat and everybody on the frigging internet can access their personally identifying information and what kind of crapheads someone thinks they are? Ri-ight...

Sunday, 02-Apr-06 00:55
Aussie iPod on the Farm

Hehe. This is pretty cool - an iPod advertisement that's visible from space?

It would be a bit more believable, if there weren't other, very similar looking constructs just around. Just scroll around in the Google Maps image.

But if it's real, it's pretty cool. And if it's not, with the diggs and links coming their way, they're bound to use it as an advert at some point anyway. The resemblance is just too uncanny. (Of course, this could be a HUGE April Fool's joke by some mapping company, too...)

By the way, the equivalent of RIAA in Australia seems to have come at grips with the reality. Stephen Peach, the chief executive of Australian Recording Industry Association says:

"Although illegal and causing significant harm to the industry, [illegal downloading] demonstrates preference," Peach says. "Consumers want choice and access to a vast repertoire. The industry must produce compelling alternatives.

Yup. That's what everyone outside of the recording industry (and probably the more enlightened ones inside it too) have been saying all along. Glad you finally got it. Funny that it's the Aussies though - it's still illegal to put music on your iPod over there, as far as I know, since there is no permission to do private copying in the Australian copyright law whatsoever. In fact, all VCRs are stricly speaking illegal too, as time-shifting is not allowed either. Of course, everybody ignores these laws for the common good.

(iPod link via Überkuul.)

Update: The Google Earth April Fools Joke was to add some extra flying things to Area 51...

Update: This iPod thingy is also listed on the Wikipedia list of April Fool's Jokes for 2006...

Friday, 31-Mar-06 15:10
The ball just keeps getting warmer...

Air is warming over Antarctica, warns CNN.

The air over Antarctica is warming even faster than in other parts of the world, according to an analysis of 30 years of weather balloon data.
Friday, 31-Mar-06 12:54
Green TV

Green TV is the world’s first broadband TV channel dedicated to environmental issues, and they're working together with UNEP (United Nations Environmental Programme). Content is available on all of the current popular formats, including Flash video.

It's still a bit sparse, but check it out - they have a blog, too. You can also order it via iTunes.

(Via tav @ freenode.)

Thursday, 30-Mar-06 22:07
My most hated mobile apps, pt II

To continue my mobile pet peeves series: One of the advantages and disadvantages of working for Nokia is that people have Ideas. And they want to share them.

While many of these ideas are cool, there's one recurring thing that rings my bozo meter: The Key That Solves Everything, aka The Silver Bullet Of Mobile User Interfaces. You see, a lot of people think that phones are difficult to use. And I can't blame them - they can be a real pain in the ass sometimes; even the simple ones. The great idea is that all of their problems could be solved by adding just one extra physical button to the phone! You know, you just press it and it solves problem X!

Unfortunately, problem X is different for each person. Some people just want to have easy access to email, some people want to have the clock jump up, some people want it to collect your shopping list from your wife, some people want it to paint your house blue, call the police and call your dog by dirty names, and... well, you get the drift.

Now, what do you get if you build a mobile phone which has a dedicated button for each functionality? Yup, you get something that looks vaguely like a VCR remote control designed by Philip K. Dick from HELL! And still people would moan "but you got a button for Y, why not X, it's as important as Y!"

There are a lot of ways to make mobile phones easier to use. Hardly any of them involve adding more buttons. Buttons tend to scare people. Loads and loads of buttons make some people curl away in a corner and whimper, and that's not a pretty sight. Look at the Apple remote control - they got rid of almost all the buttons, and have now only six to control a vast array of functionality. And people think that is good.

(Oh, by the way, I fear we caved in under the pressure: The new Nokia N-series phones have a multimedia button, which you can theoretically make do whatever you want... So please stop about this already. Pretty please?)

Part III

Wednesday, 29-Mar-06 21:11
My most hated mobile applications, pt I

I've had a very bad day today, and I probably managed to piss off quite a lot of people. So I figured I might as well get this one (and the few next ones) off my chest as well.

Over the years, I've seen all sorts of wearable/ubiquitous/mobile applications, that just get me easily in the state of mild enragement. Let me list my top peeves in this blog, and be warned that there will be plenty'o'ranting. Not all of the following text is to be taken completely seriously.

This will be a series to which I'll be posting daily until I run out of holy steam.

YATG

Have you ever had the urge to find a good restaurant in a strange city, but just don't know what to do, and wish there was a way you could open your mobile phone and it could tell you? No? It turns out that there's a large number of socially inept people, who apparently don't want to talk to any of the locals and simply ask, but they would rather live in their own small little world and have carefully managed and computer-recommended "foreign" experiences when going abroad. Well, maybe not so large. Maybe it's just a tiny number of people. But way too many of these people seem to be building mobile applications, and I just can't count the use cases I've been presented which start with "You're in a foreign city, and you would like to have dinner, and don't know where to go to..."

For chrissakes - ASK a local person. You'll have fun trying to cross the language barrier - and if you don't pass, just be adventurous and pick a place, any place. There's nothing wrong with some human contact. Not everything has to be mediated through the computer and social algorithms.

Besides, while traveling is cheap, it's not something that most people do very often. And not very many people are willing to pay the sky-high mobile data roaming fees either (I've managed to rack up a 1200€ phone bill once while traveling, just by checking my email and a bit of googling). And there's a difference between whipping out your 3G phone or a battered copy of Lonely Planet in the middle of Miami...

We don't need a Yet Another Tourist Guide. We need more stuff that's useful in the daily life of a normal person!

This is not the only application that attempts to overlay relatively useless data on top of the real world. While some of the apps I've seen are genuinely useful, many of these so-called Augmented Reality applications seem to be more concerned in diminishing the nasty bits of reality out of the equation: things like language barriers and getting lost and talking to people. Building a social recommendation engine for restaurants so that you could find "the perfect place" in a faraway city sounds decidedly antisocial to me: what's so social about NOT talking to people and letting some algorithm decide your preferences for you? While you may have never seen your best friend except through a webcam, there's still life outside the internet, hell-o?!?

Perhaps this is because the guys who write this stuff are antisocial geeks. Or perhaps it's just that it would suit their particular lifestyle as well; a lifestyle I would call as "The Comfort Optimizing Frequent Traveller With Only Three Hours Of Free Time After The Meeting". While there's obviously some money in it (the kind of people that need this stuff usually don't have any life outside of work and therefore have lots of money because they have no way to spend it), I still wouldn't call it anything really useful to the average mobile phone user - which would be these days anyone who can talk and can scrounge the money for the phone bill.

Oh well. Check out the Ultimate Tour Guide at Tinmith. That's what everyone should be wearing in all foreign cities all the time. At least the locals would have fun.

Part II

Wednesday, 29-Mar-06 18:23
Fictional Finns and Facts

Whoa! Captain Pirk of CPP Potkustart (of the Star Wreck fame) has been chosen as one of the finalists for the The Fictional Finnish Person (Satusuomalainen) contest, sharing the top eight with such illustrious persons as Uuno Turhapuro, Väinämöinen and Moomintroll.

That should teach them to run internet votes. I can already hear the rattle of complaints flowing to Yle... "Wrong person!" "But that's a nerd!" "He's not famous because I've never heard of him!" "Geeks used modems to hack the system!" (This was, BTW, a real comment from someone who got annoyed at Finland sending a monster rock man to the Eurovision Song Contest.) ;-)

(Via the Star Wreck blog, which also mentions that the classic wartime propaganda Donald Duck cartoon "Der Fuehrer's Face" is available on Google Video.)

Wednesday, 29-Mar-06 16:56
Being average

Great quote (via Niko) from the Confused of Calcutta -blog:

Run from being average. Get fired for what you believe in, not for being average.
Monday, 27-Mar-06 11:36
What exactly is information?

Here's an interesting experiment on the boundaries of digital copyright: Monolith is a program that will take a file (say, MP3) and mix it with a known file so that no information from the original file is left. However, if the other file is known to the recipient as well, they can easily derive the original file from it.

Things get interesting when you apply Monolith to copyrighted files. For example, munging two copyrighted files will produce a completely new file that, in most cases, contains no information from either file. In other words, the resulting Mono file is not "owned" by the original copyright holders (if owned at all, it would be owned by the person who did the munging). Given that the Mono file can be combined with either of the original, copyrighted files to reconstruct the other copyrighted file, this lack of Mono ownership may be seem hard to believe.

For example, suppose that fileA is an MP3 of a Beatles song, and the Element file is an MP3 of a Britney Spears song copyrighted by Jive Records. It is possible to find a Basis file that, when munged with the Spears song, will produce the Beatles song as the Mono file. Jive Records certainly cannot claim copyright over the Beatles song (which is copyrighted by Apple Records), nor can they claim copyright over any other Mono files munged from MP3s of their songs.

While it's clear that this is essentially just simple encryption (an encrypted file never has any bits of the original one), and that distributing a monolith'd version of a copyrighted file is as bad as sending it in the original format, it does suggest that the concepts of "copying", "replication", and "distribution" probably need a bit more thinking in the digital age. After all, this is not about distributing a copy of the original file, but something that has the potential of becoming the original file, after a suitable transformation is found. And, since any file can be transformed to any other file, once a suitable key is constructed, you could claim that every file is copyrighted by everyone...

Read the whole discussion in the Monolith pages for a deeper understanding. Here's another interesting quote, which plays nicely on the fact that the record companies are claiming that you are only buying the CD, not the content on it:

Because the Internet cannot be used to exchange content; it can only exchange bit sequences. When people download an MP3 file via the Internet, they are downloading a bit sequence, one of an infinite number of possible digital representations for a particular piece of content. It is only when that representation is rendered, or decoded and played through speakers, that the content itself comes into existence. Thus, it is the act of playing an MP3 of an unlicensed song that is actually illegal under a true-spirited interpretation of copyright law.

This is probably not lawyer-proof, but it does illustrate a point, which I am sure, will be tested in court in the near future.

(Via Digg.)

Update: A great explanation on the colour of the bits by a lawyer computer scientist who understands lawyers, via Digitoday.

Monday, 27-Mar-06 09:38
Fun Flash

The Adventure of the Fancy Pants Man is a pretty impressive Flash game. I especially like all the attention to detail in the guy's movement... Reminds me of Sonic the Hedgehog, actually.

(Via Digg.)

Sunday, 26-Mar-06 23:48
EMI releases DRM CDs that totally hose customers

Yeah. One would think that they would learn. But no, one must try until one succeeds. At what, that I have no idea of...

From Boing Boing:

Brazilian mega-star Marisa Monte's new CDs from EMI ("Infinito Particular" and "Universo ao Meu Redor") come with DRM that can't be uninstalled, and requires you to "agree" to a contract that isn't published in Portuguese. Even if you disagree, the malware is installed. The DRM blocks you from playing the CD on Linux and MacOS, and from loading it onto an iPod.

I'm all for paying artists. But I am all against installing dangerous software on unsuspecting victims' computers. Unfortunately, many people seem to think that ends justify the means, and that unless you are willing to give up total control of your computer and life to the rights owners, you are a communist who wants to have everything for free.

I read a good quote today, but I can't remember it where I read it from: "Fascism happens when people who believe they are right start removing rights from those, who they believe to be wrong."

There's a difference between agreeing together what is fair and what is right (like most laws and commerce); and then there's the case where one side unanimously says what you can do (like DRM). We need more the "agreeing together" -part and less "I can do whatever I want" -part.

Thursday, 23-Mar-06 19:34
The 15 Artists Meme

Following the example from Outi and Jani, here's my picture (click on it to get a bigger one).

What I did is that I took iTunes, and told it to get 15 random songs. I then hunted down an image of each artist, and mashed them together.

Your job, should you choose to accept it, is to recognize the artists.

Some of these are really easy, and some of them are very hard.

Good luck!

Thursday, 23-Mar-06 16:51
Fisk speaks

Why does John Malkovich want to kill me?

Much of this disgusting nonsense comes from men and women who say they are defending Israel, although I have to say that I have never in my life received a rude or insulting letter from Israel itself. Israelis sometimes express their criticism of my reporting - and sometimes their praise - but they have never stooped to the filth and obscenities which I now receive.

Fisk Paints a Middle East in CRISIS:

I think that's far too simple a version of events. There's never been a civil war in Iraq. Sunnis and Shi'ites, despite the fact that the Sunnis as a minority have always effectively ruled Iraq, have never had this sectarian instinct. It's not a sectarian society, it's a tribal society. People are intermarried.

You know, I was at the funeral of a Sunni and asked his brother, you know, he'd been murdered - probably by Shi'ites, I think - I asked his brother if there was going to be a civil war and he said look, I'm married to a Shi'ite. You want me to kill my wife? Why do you westerners always want civil war?

I gotta get this guy's books.

(Via Mette, whose blog you should absolutely be reading if you can read Finnish.)

Wednesday, 22-Mar-06 17:15
Blogs technology oriented?

Sami Suomalainen writes in the comments of a previous entry: "Most executives don't even know what a blog is. In Finland, which is seemingly technology oriented and modern, this is simply shocking."

I am not surprised or shocked. I don't see blogs as technology. Blogs are a medium. At some very deep level, books are a technology, too, but you don't really perceive them as such. You buy books because the content interests you, not because they happen to be using the latest in printing technology. You watch television because the program draws your attention; not because it happens to have a HDTV screen (after the first few minutes of technolust, anyway).

I've been saying this for a long time, but the Finnish blogosphere is mostly not very interesting. There are good writers, but quite few of them have really anything to say. Even fewer say things that are original, and not just translations of things from the English blogosphere. Most of them write in English, even. Personally, I think the craft bloggers and taxi driver blogs are the most interesting and important thing in the Finnish blogosphere right now...

Yes, I agree with Sami that we're pretty badly behind of USA in business blogging. Partly because of the media infatuation with the word "verkkopäiväkirja", partly because Finland is missing the same kind of "hey, I'm here, listen to my ideas, I want to make a million with them" -culture that is so pervasive in the USA (which is probably good), and partly because things are already pretty well. Blogs for businesses are networking, self-promotion, public relations and discussion all rolled in one, topped with a personal touch. That requires pretty special people to handle; versatile people who actually like to speak and be heard by completely unknown people. (Which, traditionally, in Finland is considered to be a bad thing - just watch the reaction if you go an talk to anyone you don't know in a tram in Helsinki.)

I completely agree that companies are missing out on something big if they don't participate in the blogosphere. But on the other hand, I'm confident that evolution will weed out the weak. The companies that pick up on blogging (both as followers and authors) will have a competitive edge over those who don't. And some people will make money teaching them how to blog. Some people will attempt to create a hype and a bubble so that they can cash in quickly (lots of signs for a new bubble are already in the air). Some people will do the same, but fail to cash in...

But shocked? No... Disillusioned, if anything.

Finland is a small country with a big internal resistance to change. Our celebrities are minor, our worries minuscule, and you can get on the front page of all newspapers by shooting someone. It's a safe country to be, but let's not kid ourselves into thinking that we are the most agile and forward-thinking nation in the world. Buying lots of cell phones does not a trend make.

With stability comes resistance.

Wednesday, 22-Mar-06 14:21
How influential is your blog?
My influence
[8227.2]

I have no idea whatsoever who I have this influence over, but apparently I have some.

(Via Blog Herald, the best news blog about blogs since Blogisanomat quit...)

(Oh yeah, and don't for a moment think that I would've posted this if I didn't have a relatively high score. Selfish, sad geek bastard desperate for attention - that's me ;-)

(Update: it seems that the value changes pretty rapidly; I get anything between 7500 and 8300. So I'm keeping the highest one I got.)

Wednesday, 22-Mar-06 12:14
Why keep old SMSs?

Steve Litchfield asks over at Tommi's S60 blog:

Why would anyone want to keep old SMS? Surely they're small, time-specific messages? By all means copy and paste some important snippet into a Note or similar, but I've seen customer smartphones with 1000 SMS stored on them and the RAM and flash memory hit is immense.

To me SMSs carry both emotional and informational content. I hated, hated, hated it when I lost my first SMS messages from Outi due to the fact that I was not able to backup the SMSs from my Nokia 3650 when I needed to empty the entire memory to run some work-related stuff on it. I've received (and sent) many emotion-packed text messages over the year. Some of them were worth storing; some of them were definitely not; and some of them... well, it probably would've have been better never to send them in the first place.

The nature of the text message is - as Steve points out - time specific. I would even characterize it as being mood-, situation-, location-, and context-specific, too. I guess the argument is that when those things cease to exist or be valid, the SMS loses its meaning, too. But you can reverse the argument as well - the SMS can be the thing that still ties you to that specific mood, situation, location or time. It can be a memory, as much as anything.

Then again, I store all my email, too.

How do you store your text messages? Do you write the most important down in a booklet (I know some people do)? Do you use folders (most Nokia phonse allow that these days)? Do you perhaps not care at all?

Tuesday, 21-Mar-06 00:14
Skin deep

Antti points to a site called Skin Deep. Scary stuff.

You can type in the name of your favourite Banana Fuzzy Bath Bomb Shampoo and the site will tell you why you'll die of Banana Fuzzy Bath Bomb Shampoo related illnesses. The database concentrates all the inherent chemical badness into a handy floating-point number: 0 means you are using pure water, and 5 means that the bottle should be disposed of as hazardous waste.
Monday, 20-Mar-06 16:31
Business blogging going up in Finland?

Maybe 2006 will be the year of business blogging in Finland - and I don't mean in advertising. There's a new portal called yritysblogit.fi, which at the moment seems pretty scarce. I am not quite sure what they're after - and certainly they're trying to leverage this "buy 100 pixels from us" meme - but the fact is that different kinds of aggregation/portal services will be in the future more and more necessary. We have great tools for authoring blogs, but frankly, many of the tools used for reading blogs are not as good as they could be. For example, blogilista.fi does not really support reading of blogs, and instead serves as a better bookmarking service that can tell you if something has happened.

However, portals are a fidgety thing. It's kinda like building a phone book: easy to collect initially, but a pain to maintain, and probably not a great business. Good business perhaps, but not great. I'm not expecting much from this one.

The bigger question is: when will the first professional blogging network in Finland start? By that I mean people who actually get paid to blog, and someone is then assuming editorial responsibility over the network - yes, a sort of an online magazine of blogs. Someone would take care of sales of advertisements, promotion and paying the bloggers, and the bloggers would write. I could immediately think of several bloggers whose blogs could be transferred under an blogging network umbrella...

Businesses blogging is good. But where's the business in blogging?

Saturday, 18-Mar-06 11:40
Way to go, Ford!
DETROIT (Reuters) - A conservative Christian group has launched a boycott of Ford Motor Co., saying the automaker had reneged on a pledge to drop its advertising in gay publications and support of gay rights groups.

...

Ford spokeswoman Kathleen Vokes said in response to the boycott announcement, "Ford is proud of its tradition of treating all with respect and we remain focused on that we do best, building and selling innovative cars and trucks worldwide."

(Full article by Reuters via HS.)

Friday, 17-Mar-06 18:17
Australia uses copyright legislation to shut down satire against government

Australian government has ordered a takedown of a web site which contained a satirical spoof of the Aussie PM John 'liberties are bad, mmmkay?' Howard's speech.

"If we receive a complaint from an intellectual property basis claiming that a website directly infringes the rights of another site we would check it, and if it is a direct copy we would suspend the site," he [the CEO of ~MelbourneIT] said.

Well... No. What you do is that you issue a Cease and Desist order to the guy who has that web site, and order him to take the offending material down, or to modify it so that it no longer infringes a copyright. You see, otherwise people will accuse you of being a spineless government puppet that advocates censorship on people who speak against the government. And it looks really, really, really bad FOR THE WHOLE COUNTRY.

It's a different thing to take down an illegal copy of the latest Britney Spears album, and a totally different thing to take down something which a) does not necessarily even infringe copyright (it may look the same, but it does not necessarily use the same code, and it certainly has completely different content), and b) contains criticism against the leaders of the country. Most importantly, you don't say "to us, it looks like a phishing site" when you have obviously no clue whatsoever what phishing is, and what a phishing site really does. Especially if you're the Chief Technical Officer of an internet company.

Since nothing important disappears in the internet, a PDF copy of the web site is of course available. Look for yourselves. It's not even offending: it's just a satirical apology speech that he thinks the PM should've issued when talking about Iraq and the war there. This way it surely gets more publicity than it would've otherwise.

(Oh yeah, a stunt like that might also look like serious copyright abuse, and really fuel the whole copyright debate again, raising questions like "now, is that really the way that copyright is supposed to be used" and "has copyright become an effective tool for shutting down competition and criticism"? But that would be quite far-fetched, now wouldn't it?)

(Via Slashdot.)

Friday, 17-Mar-06 14:53
Testing out Myspace

If you're on Myspace, drop by and give me a nudge!

Friday, 17-Mar-06 11:43
Oh, who cares about the kid

Now, I get that Japanese TV is odd, but this? Teletubbies on PCP, Boing Boing called it. Oh, who cares if a kid drowns...

Thursday, 16-Mar-06 23:51
Flatulence is no objection to blood donation

Finnish Red Cross is low on blood. Go and give some, if you are eligible. This is smart.

The headline? Yeah, it just somehow came up in the casual conversation while the nurse was drawing my blood to check if it was still okay. You see, I have been having the worst flatulence evah for the past two days - you know, the kind which sounds like someone drove a car into a swamp, and it's slowly sinking and the driver is struggling to escape, but he can't get his safety belt unlocked; the kind which actually make the legs of your pants shuffle; the kind which make you really ponder about the fundamental difference of a liquid and a gas; the kind... Ugh. Anyhow. Well, it turns out some people light their farts for fun. That is stupid.

But I just had to use the headline for something.

Grlzbthf-boop.

Wednesday, 15-Mar-06 18:07
NATO joins MPAA in fight against piracy!

For a moment, I thought that MPAA is storming theatres with armed and masked NATO forces, ordering air raids on pirates and sending ten-year old kids with iPods to Guantanamo.

The site builds on the "Take Action!" campaign started by the MPAA and NATO in September 2004 that offers a $500 reward to employees who identify and prevent movie theft.

Then I realized that NATO stands here for National Association of Theatre Owners... Too bad, the image was kinda powerful.

(via digg.)

Wednesday, 15-Mar-06 15:30
Häpeärangaistusmielenosoitus

Jep, huomenna (to) kello 13 jälleen mielenosoitus Eduskuntatalon portailla, tällä kertaa tekijänoikeuslain lisäpahennuksia vastaan.

Lisäinfoa http://masinointi.org/mielenosoitus.html ja kansanedustaja Kasvi.

Wednesday, 15-Mar-06 15:14
Straw men of RFID

Do you know what a "straw man argument" is? It's when you carefully construct your opponent's arguments so that they have a hole - e.g. "well, this straw man here represents you. I can easily push you over with my hand, so therefore I can push over you with my hand, too." It's a pretty standard technique in heated arguments over empty pints of beer. But you should not use it in scientific debate.

Recently, Melanie Rieback et al published a paper detailing RFID viruses and worms, where they show that particular RFID system backends are vulnerable to SQL injection attacks, built an entire web site about it, and are - in a pretty alarmistic tone, I might add - shouting how RFID is dangerous, and RFID worms and viruses are just around the corner.

Unfortunately, if you read the paper through carefully, you see that they have constructer their own backend, which just happens to be vulnerable to SQL injection attacks. So, they carefully built a system which is vulnerable to these attacks, and wrote a big article about how RFID systems in general are vulnerable. It has no analysis of any of existing middleware products, nor does it attempt to analyze whether they are susceptible to this kind of a problem. It might well be that none of the existing products in the world are vulnerable to these attacks. This is bad, bad, bad science. All the article does is that it sets up a big straw man, and shoots it down; essential proving the existence of SQL injection attacks against any system that uses them. There are plenty of OSS products that have had the same bug; this is well known science, and has nothing to do with RFID systems.

The beginning of the article makes a bunch of good points on how the RFID world should pay more attention to security and how, once the RFID systems become more commonplace, you can no longer get away with thinking that nobody else is ever going to read and write your tags. Very good, and lots to think about to those who are building RFID middleware, especially chapter 7, which provides practical instructions on writing good middleware.

But... I wouldn't mind the paper so much if it wasn't touted as the Most Important Thing Since Pamela Anderson Got Fake Boobs. Come on - getting your own "rfidvirus.org" web site (with headlines like "How to write a RFID virus") for a single paper, which just says that any badly designed computer system has security holes? That's just alarmist and scaremongering, and riding on the general "RFID is evil" -wave.

(Disclaimer: I work for Nokia, which produces RFID products; and I also am involved with the NFC Forum work (so I claim some expertise on the matter), but everything I say is, of course, my personal views and not corporate opinions.)

(Link via Digitoday.)

Update: Some commentary from Ed Felten.

Update2: Slashdot commentators, for once, get it right. This is a backend issue, nothing to do with RFID.

Update3: BoingBoing has good commentary. "this is all a bunch of hooey"

Tuesday, 14-Mar-06 18:07
Spore - the game

This has the potential to be the greatest game ever. This is the video of Will Wright (creator of ~SimCity, and Sims), taking it one notch upper, with the game called "Spore".

(Via can't remember anymore.)

Tuesday, 14-Mar-06 12:34
Bags everywhere

Yes, we have small plastic bags everywhere. Boys, if you ever plan to get together with a woman doing beadcraft, prepare yourselves.

Monday, 13-Mar-06 18:50
Hire a summer kabbalist, aka. "from the coffee table of software engineers high on caffeine"

One of the things that computer programmers often ignore is the power of numbers. You see, often a computer programmer just needs to pick a number, any number, to mean something-or-the-other. For example, they could say that "9" means "rotate the disk to the left" and "8" would mean "rotate the disk to the right", and "0" for "stop the disk". The computer does not care what these numbers are; it just compares them to the instructions it was given, and then executes the instructions as it was programmed.

Sometimes programmers get creative, and think of meanings for the numbers, if they're read in a certain way. For example, the Java binary code uses the number "3405691582" so that Java programs know that the file is meant for them. Exciting? Well, if you convert this number to the so-called hexadecimal notation, i.e. base 16 instead of the usual base 10, it becomes "CAFEBABE" - a suitable name for something that derives its name from a kind of coffee.

These funny magic number references are everywhere. I can't count the number of times I've smuggled hexadecimal numbers like DEADBEEF, DECAFBAD, BADCAFE, B5 (for Babylon 5) to different programs. There are probably only a handful of people in the world who will ever see them, but at least they'll get a chuckle (or a groan). As I said, the numbers don't matter, so you might as make them interesting.

Sometimes magic numbers happen by accident, or people think they see them even when they aren't there. A good example is the story that the bar codes you see on products actually contain the number "666", i.e. the Devil's number. (Snopes, of course, has something to say as well.)

I've recently been involved in some standardization work, and during some high-caffeine moment I got a brilliant idea: companies should hire "summer kabbalists" to put some real meaning into the numbers. Think about it: ten years from now (ten internet years is the equivalent of thousand years in real life, yes?) a danbrownesque chase through RFCs and W3C Notes, countless hours of debugging of esoteric line protocols, billions of microcontrollers in the world using the same magical numbers that point to hidden treasures of unimaginable wealth and documents that would prove once and for all that Steve Jobs is the bastar brother of Bill Gates.

It would make standards work so much more interesting.

Monday, 13-Mar-06 16:23
Google Mars

Hookay... Google does Mars, just like they do Earth. My dad bought a new laptop (his 166 MHz PII with Win98 was no longer very good at browsing the web, so I got him a new Apple iBook), so I sneaked Google Earth onto it when I had the machine for a few days to install things. He was quite impressed to see a satellite picture of his summer cottage, the Colosseum, the Big Ben...

But Mars?

(via Überkuul.)

Sunday, 12-Mar-06 01:08
Conan does Finland

Well, the Conan O'Brien special has finally aired in the US. It quite accurately points out the weirdosity inherent in Finnish TV talk shows. I wish we had some decent ones... The rest of it is actually quite standard "let's show this odd shit to tourists" -stuff. Which I guess is fine - it's probably better to be known as a nation of harmless idiots that like to run to frozen sea naked and don't see anything odd in having sausages after sauna, than a nation of high unemployment, record suicide rates and lonely people. Denial - it's not only a river in Egypt!

Anyhoo: Conan apparently tried to visit some Finnish apartments, but nobody was home. I can only imagine the frustration of those people next week, when the show officially airs here... Probably every single friend and relative will call them to let them know that Conan O'Brien was knocking on their door, but they weren't there. Salt, wounds, rubbing - what great fun for the whole family!

Saturday, 11-Mar-06 00:48
derunkety runk

Hehe

Drunken bloggin is fun. I think. Outi tells me that I am going to be very sorry in the joringn. It's okay. Dreunken coding is what reall makes me embrarrased. Not really bloging.l

Had a long discussion today / tonight about intersting things. Not a lot of information there. But maybe cool things happenigs soon. Sorry to be vague. ;-)

Thursday, 09-Mar-06 17:14
Why play World of Warcraft?

...because of the Night Elves, of course!

(No, my dearest, that is not the reason I play. Really.)

Tuesday, 07-Mar-06 18:22
Sigh

There is a something deeply satisfying in changing the status of a specification from "Draft" to "Final", and clicking on "Submit changes".

Tuesday, 07-Mar-06 11:48
Blackberry, settlement, and the insane costs of IPR

Blackberry settled with NTP for 600 Million USD. Blackberry has a subscriber base of about 600,000 people, so that makes one thousand USD per subscriber.

Think about it. If you have a great idea, you must be able to make over a thousand $ per user of profit in order to recoup potential IPR costs. This is not promoting innovation, it's squashing innovation.

The problem is that many companies that stand up and say that patents encourage innovation are companies which concentrate on gathering a massive patent portfolio, then licensing it to others. Not all of these companies even sell any products - for them, innovation, licensing and patents are one and the same thing. However, to them selling things and services to consumers is not innovation. It's a bother, though sometimes a necessity.

"Intellectual Property" (IPR) ignores consumers. IPR is an abstract thing, stuff that is written on papers and fought over in courts. Even bits are like concrete compared to the aetherness of IPR. No consumer ever bought intellectual property for the sake of it being intellectual property: they (we?) buy stuff because it gives us some concrete benefit, be it emotional, physical, spiritual, social or monetary.

But that's why consumers are called consumers. They consume, they don't create. And IPR is intertwined strongly with "creation". Is it then no wonder that normal, everyday people, who're stepping out of the obedient consumer role and creating and sharing things on their own, are hitting the rules of IPR designed for corporations. You only need to take a long look at a discussion board to see e.g. middle-aged housewives wondering about whether they have a permission to sell a piece of jewelry based on a design bought from a website in the US. This is a hairy subject even for experts, and certainly something that the average person should not need to wrestle with.

As they are, the rules of Intellectual Property are more of a burden than they are a benefit. They benefit only smart people who've managed to twist them into their benefit: creation is encouraged, but not sharing and dissemination. For example, copyright runs from the date of creation, not from date of publishing. (Though, I have to agree that it would be too difficult to start it from the date of publishing, as the concept of "publishing" is far more vague than the concept of "creation". Minority-language newspapers have many articles publishing things for the sake of publishing things for IPR purposes.)

The RIM case is nasty. If you switch viewpoints, you could well argue that "well, NTP had their IPR broken for years, and therefore they can ask as much money as they want from RIM." This would be the greedy way of thinking. Unfortunately, IPR is not a clearcut thing. If someone steals bread from you, and he is caught on CCTV, he's busted. End of story. However, by making bread in a certain way you might be infringing on someone else's IPR. And they will wait until you're making loads of money on it, and then they will move in, and demand as much money as you can possibly pay, and ruin you financially for a long time. Even if you pay loads of lawyers loads of money, you could still be infringing without knowing about it for years.

The crappy thing is that even if you invented this new way yourself, it's enough that someone else, somewhere in the world, figured out the same way a few days earlier, you might still be infringing. Again, there's no way to know about this.

I know I'm slamming patents and copyright together in a large mishmash here. Normal people usually never have to deal with patent infringements, except through secondary effects such as the RIM case, or drug prices, or Linux media players, but copyright is increasingly more present in our lives. They're overlapping at an alarming rate, too, with DMCA being used to stop competition.

I think the IPR legislation should be redesigned into something that really fosters innovation, creation, sharing and dissemination for the greater good. Not abolished, but redesigned. As it currently stands, it's as if to protect a dragon's lair: hoarding is good, sharing is bad. And you need to be really big to take advantage of it.

(Gng. Coherence is overrated.)

Monday, 06-Mar-06 00:45
Nghblfrt

Busy. Personal inbox: 1766 emails. About a hundred of them need my personal attention. People are getting annoyed. JSPWiki needs bug fixes, so we can go beta. Watched Top Gun and Coctail in a desperate attempt to reset brain. Brain was reset. Think it's refusing to boot back up properly again. Lost some grammar. The thingy that goes between sentences. I think. Whatchamacallit. Anyway.

I have too many ideas to do. Too little time. Need to shop some new furniture tomorrow. Having pile of clothes by front door not good.

Need to think something more important to say.

Friday, 03-Mar-06 17:39
The infidels start rolling in...

Jesus singing 'I will survive'. I laughed, though I would assume many people won't. Especially some of the people who have been commenting on this video at Youtube... You can't miss them - they're the ones who write in all caps.

By Group  Permalink  Comments? (5)
Tuesday, 28-Feb-06 13:53
Quick note...

...saying that mitvit is again extremely right (well, not politically). I agree with everything he says, including the part in which he scorns me and others (and I'm taking this personally) for not saying anything about the Muhammed-cartoon-thingy. I agree, having spoken openly against the new copyright legislation and defending (or at least blabbing incoherently about) the freedom of speech, I should've said something strong and to the point about the matter.

But what to say? I feel like everything has already been said. All I can do is give my own, personal, little support by saying that mitvit is right, and that violence is simply stupid, and in reality the whole shebang has very little to do with the pictures and a lot about a camel which has been burdened by stupid, arrogant and greedy westerners for a long time, and whose back is close to a snapping point.

This is an issue which is too big, too deep, and too complicated to approach lightly. Defending online freedom and deconstructing stupid laws is easy. Trying to say something right about a conflict that spans hundreds of years is a heck of a lot more difficult.

Throughout this crisis I have been reading The Bookseller of Kabul by Åsne Seierstad, which is a story of a family living in Kabul, Afghanistan. It would probably be one of the best fantasy books ever written, if it wasn't about real people. Most science fiction novels I've read don't create such a feeling of alienness - things that you just simply cannot wrap your brain around - but I guess that just tells how reality is sometimes stranger than fantasy.

I cannot shake this feeling that this is just the tip of the iceberg. I understand that people are afraid, and would like to silence those who might call harm upon this country. But all my instincts are saying that this is the wrong solution. It won't go away if we pretend that it's not there. There are billions of people who think in a way that our specialized western brain, living in the specialized western world does not understand. This is a wake-up call, and it's up to us to answer it and start talking. Or the next thing we see is that the billions are knocking on our doorstep.

We don't need to sacrifice liberties or traditions or religions to talk. Nor do we need to sacrifice lives. We may have to sacrifice our pride, though.

Caving in and acting like a bunch of scared bunnies (yes, that's you, mr. Prime Minister) won't help in the long run. To make a geeky and bad software analogy: this is a deep design fault which cannot be simply patched or ignored. We need to redesign the architecture from scratch and see what can be reused.

Saturday, 25-Feb-06 23:04
Roma!

Ah, Rome! Where all the roads lead - and I'm finally here.

Pizza is good, ice cream is fabulous, tourists are everywhere, as are shoe stores, the night is warm, my hotel room has more decoration than actual wall area, and for some reason, Italian men look - on the average - better to me than Italian women. Great.

By Group  Permalink  Comments? (5)
Friday, 24-Feb-06 17:59
Why more features is good and Word is actually a good program

The following hit me yesterday evening... This will sound strange, but hear me out.

Almost everyone I know (including myself) thinks that the modern software is too complex. Most people think that cell phones are too complex, too, with bells and widgets they never use. People feel at loss in the face of all this complexity, and wonder, why they need to pay for the 80% of the features that they just don't need. Companies use massive amounts of money to usability design, and still fail to produce things that everyone could immediately use without leafing through manuals. This disease of adding more and more functionality is called "featuritis", and Microsoft Word is often the most touted example of it: why does a word processor have so many features nobody ever uses?

I think - and this is admittedly a slightly absurd leap - the fundamental reason lies with the Long Tail (i.e. the concept of "something for everyone").

The Long Tail is based on the idea that there is a lot of value in addressing the niches. Traditionally, business revolves around "hits" - the top 500 companies, or the most-selling books, or the most common demographics of the viewers, or the most common sports, or the most common brands of dishwashers, or the most common operating system. You want to address the majority of the market, because trying to address everyone is more trouble than it's worth.

However, with the internet, when you don't have to consider limited storage space that much anymore, you can start to address even the smallest niches. You can go to CafePress and sell T-shirts with your own face. Google is very good at finding niche stuff, and less good at finding just generic fluff. Amazon has over ten times the catalog size of your average book shop. Even the most obscure song in iTunes still sells a copy or two each month, making money. On IMDB, it does not really matter whether a movie is popular or not: everything gets treated the same. These companies are taking advantage in the value of serving the niches - and for them, it's not any more expensive as doing anything else.

Now, if you head over to the standard application space, and imagine that you would like to sell a word processor for the niches - a word processor to address the Long Tail, if you please - I think the end result would be something like Word. Each feature of Word is important to some minority somewhere, be it even as small as a single person. And this is what makes it so successful, yet so universally disliked. Maybe how the Word presents all these features is not optimal, but it's doing that well enough to be extremely successful (document format lock-in and deals with the OEMs do not hurt either).

So, to me, it seems that featuritis (and the apparent complexity) is an unmanaged attempt to address the Long Tail. I am sure Google's and Amazon's servers (with personal recommendations) are incredibly complex, but this is not something that is apparent to the user. Their featuritis is managed, and could be simply labelled as "good service".

I think that the most important lesson of the Long Tail is not that it's there - because we all know that it exists; people just choose to disregard it when making business decisions - but that if you want to address it, you must think about it in advance in order to not get flooded by featuritis. Think about how you will scale, and how you will offer new features to users in such a way that does not overwhelm them.

It's not inherently evil to make something that is complex and has a lot of features. You just need to plan for it.

Thursday, 23-Feb-06 18:55
IP quickies

I'm listing a few oddities I've encountered lately on the wonderful world of Intellectual Property (garnered from BoingBoing and elsewhere:

  • Mozilla foundation "makes it impossible to enforce UK anti-copying legislation". Every week I meet people who just don't get the difference between "free" and "free" - but it's that disrupting...?
  • WIPO just does not get the idea of Public Domain. Poor countries: shut up, go create your own stuff and stop whining about public domain. We'll keep our toys, and you can have your toys, that's fair, isn't it?
  • Japan bans resales of electronics that are over five years old and don't have a permission. Some alarmist reactions here and less alarmist here. However, no matter what the reason, it will make it quite difficult for small second-hand shops to circulate old stuff. This will give an advantage to big companies selling new stuff (who are probably happy as Larry - however happy he is - about this). Expect a flood of old, but good, Japanese stuff flowing abroad (exports are not forbidden).
  • The head of US Copyright Office says: "We've certainly lengthened the term [of copyright] perhaps -- I won't even say perhaps -- too long a term. I think it is too long. I think that was probably a big mistake, but one that Congress can make." Yeah, and when you sneeze, the rest of the world gets sick, too.
  • Microsoft says that the purpose of DRM is to lock out small players: "The intention is to reduce the number of licensors to a manageable level, to lock out "hobbyists" and other entities that Microsoft doesn't want to have to trouble itself with." So what happened to the idea that DRM was supposed to protect the small guys from starving? Oh, I see, it's only when the small guy signs up his soul with the largest corporations in the world. Well, that's fair.
  • And, finally Helsinki catches up with the rest of the world when some rich guy gets pissed off at corporations and decides to open his own free WiFi network in downtown Helsinki. The rest of the world yawns, and keeps sipping the latte and reading blogs. No, seriously, I'm happy about this.
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Thursday, 23-Feb-06 11:07
To IV or not to IV, that is the question

I seem to have gone all linky in the past few days. No worries, it's bound to end once I get back into mine "oh, the internet is full of shit and nothing of it is worth seeing" -phase. But until then, geeky links for all to enjoy.

Ever wondered why clocks sometimes have IV and sometimes IIII to represent number four? Well, really, me neither. But in case you would like to know, here is an extensive discussion on the subject. Grrreat!

(Via This is broken, a blog that lists things which are broken, except in this case, since it turns out that using "IIII" is not broken, but standard convention.)

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Thursday, 23-Feb-06 01:28
Have we changed the world?

Yes, we have. Maybe it's time we started to think about what we want to change it to. I don't know the people behind this, but at least the video is pretty cool.

Worldchanging shows us a different world - the future we could create. A bright green future, a sustainable, prosperous, dynamic future for all. On a planet full of problems, Worldchanging calls attention to solutions, illuminating tools, models and ideas for building that future.

We have a choice to make. We can build a future of green products and industry, renewable energy and leapfrogging technologies, clean water and fresh air, livable cities and healthy children. Or we can have the kind of world Ed Burtynsky shows us.

http://www.worldchanging.com/campaign/

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Wednesday, 22-Feb-06 20:57
Quantum computer works best if it's off

That is, a quantum computer does actually produce results even if it does not run. The headaches and illogicalities of quantum mechanics is probably why I quit university physics after delving head-first into the wonderful world that is, may be, or might not be, depending on where you are looking, who you are, and what you had for breakfast.

Read the article at The New Scientist.

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Wednesday, 22-Feb-06 11:50
Is a T-shirt a T-shirt?

During our move, I realized how many T-shirts I actually have. I have both staff and regular T-shirts from Ropecon from every year (bar one or two), and I have been buying T-shirts as mementos from all over the world. So, I have about three shelves full of T-shirts these days, most of which I don't use, but which I don't really want to throw away either. They have meaning to me. That's giving up to you...

Anyway, SmartMobs links to a story from CNET:

If you find yourself wearing clothes from a new company called Edoc Laundry, beware: Strangers may walk up to you on the street to examine the intricacies of your shirt's patterns.

That's because Edoc Laundry's first line, expected to launch March 1, literally weaves an episodic, multimedia game into the fabric of the garments. The Seattle-based company is believed to be the first to attempt such a fashion feat. Edoc line

The idea is an extension of so-called alternate-reality games, or ARGs, in which people try to solve puzzles that are propagated online but require players to team up to find clues in the real world. Usually, the games are promotional vehicles for other products, including video games and movies.

Exploration of T-shirtiness is good. A T-shirt is not just something you wear.

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Wednesday, 22-Feb-06 00:47
"Simple" projects for geeks

IPSwap is an interesting place. If you have a small programming/hacking job, you can list it there, along with a fee you are willing to pay, and hopefully someone will take the job. The stuff ranges from "10 bucks for a small game" to "2000 USD for making a phone exchange".

One of the most difficult things a programmer has to wrestle with is the specification phase: Mostly, the client has no clue whatsoever on what he really needs, some clue to what he really wants, no intention on sticking with it, and they are quite incapable of writing it down. Looking at some of the projects at IPSwap, I feel that in this case, the people are not quite aware of what they're really asking for... Thirty dollars for an Open Source library in PHP to interface with the infamously closed-source Skype? Ugh.

But still - it makes for slightly amusing browsing. If you're a hardcore geek, that is.

(Been feeling quite under the weather today. I feel feverish, yet I have no major fever. My stomach is on the verge of doing something unpleasant, but hasn't quite erupted in any spectacular ways. I feel very tired, but not sleepy. Strange. Hope it goes away.)

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Monday, 20-Feb-06 15:51
The Only True Sport

Today, a Canadian friend emailed me congratulating on Finland winning Canada in the Olympic games. I guess it says something about by involvement in sports that it was news to me... Anyway, for a long time I've maintained that there are only two winter sports worth following: curling and ice dancing. The latter, because it's just so beautiful; and the former because the slow pace of the game hides the incredibly hard battle masked below the surface. Curling is probably the closest sport to board games, which, I guess, explains a lot of my interest.

Since I haven't seen these anywhere else, here are some collected anecdotes of Markku Uusipaavalniemi, the head of the Finnish Curling team (sorry, these are in Finnish, but you can go to chucknorrisfacts.com to get the idea... Uusis rules.

(Kiitos Terolle ja Pialle.)

Markku Uusipaavalniemi - jäätävä kurling-mies

Kun Uusis määrää, kiviäkin alkaa kiinnostaa.

Uusiksen kivet ovat graniittia.

Päälause on alisteinen sivulauseelle, jos sivulauseessa lukee Uusis.

Kun muut pojat lennätti leijaa, Uusis lennätti graniittikiveä.

Vuosina 90-91 Uusis rakensi Wille Mäkelän, tarvikkeinaan ainoastaan vanhat videot ja nippusiteitä.

Elokuvan Alien versus Predator alkuperäinen nimi oli Alien and Predator versus Uusipaavalniemi. Se peruutettiin ennen kuvausten alkamista koska kukaan ei maksaisi nähdäkseen 14 sekuntia kestävän elokuvan.

Kun Uusis oli pieni, hän laittoi äitinsä syömään vihanneksensa.

Uusis on niin kylmäverinen jätkä, että kun hän poistui Suomesta, ilman lämpötila nousi kahdella asteella.

Ei ole olemassa liian pahoja poistoja. On vain kiviä, joita Uusis ei halua poistaa.

Uusis harjaa aina tilanteissa, missä oma heitto lähtee virheellisesti kohti pesää. Tälläistä ei ole vain vielä tapahtunut.

On tilanteita, missä normaali-ihminen näkisi Uusiksen epäonnistuvan. Oikeasti näissä tilanteissa Uusis haluaa vain hakea hieman lisähaastetta viimeiselle kivellä.

Joskus normaali-ihminen luulee, että Uusiksella olisi paikka tuplapoistolle. Uusis heittää tahallaan ohi, ja dominoi viimeisellä kivellä TRIPLANIITIN.

Uusis ei lue kirjoja. Uusis tuijottaa kirjaa kunnes kirja kertoo mitä Uusis haluaa tietää.

Uusiksen tuijotus on saanut sokean ihmisen kääntämään katseensa pois.

Uusis ei omista yhtään peiliä. Tuijotuskilpailu kestäisi loppuelämän.

Uusis vihaa kättelyjä kesken pelin. Niin paljon, että antaa tahallaan vastustajalle ryöstön tai kaksi. Tosi pelit lopetetaan jatkopäissä.

Uusiksella on 2.0 näkö molemmissa silmissä. Silmälasit ovat pakolliset, ja ne vähentävät kuolettavan tuijotuksen vaikutusta.

Uusis ei omista kaukosäädintä. Uusis vain tuijottaa haluamansa kanavan esille.

Uusis ei tarvitse onnea. Onni tarvitsee Uusista.

Uusis pääsee aina halutessaan pesälle. Uusiksen vaimo ei aina vain hyväksy sitä, joten Uusis jättää jotkut heitot tahalleen lyhyeksi.

Kolmannen pään jälkeen Wille ja Uusis keskustelee:
"Mä voin kohta ruveta jo pelaa"
"Niin mäkin"
"On tässä jo lämmitelty"

Wille kivelle: "Istu!"

Sävel: "Tshingis Khan":

Hän ogelista lensi Torinoon, harjoineen. Ha, hu, ha.
Ja vastustaja joutui heti paniikkiin, joukkoineen! Ha, hu, ha!
Kanukitkin kysyy, tää oikeinko on
ja Uusis siihen vastaa: "saan nautinnon"
kun määris taasen nänniin napsahtaa!

Paa, paa paavali! Curlingkivien hirveä kolistaja!
Paa, paa paavali! Muiden maiden hirveä alistaja!
Määristä hän käytti - ha, ha, ha haa!
Taas närhen munat näytti - ho, ho, ho hoo!
ja taasen kivi liukuu keskustaan!


(En tiedä, mistä alkuperäiset tulivat; ovatpahan niitä juttuja, jotka kiertävät netissä.)

Monday, 20-Feb-06 12:21
Soft music from Softys

And finally, don’t take it too seriously. You’re free to like it or dislike it, it’s just art. --Niko
Softys.net is the brainchild of Niko Nyman, providing Creative Commons -licensed chillout-music (with remix tracks and flash animation), using the internet for promotion, and trying "free" as a business model.

Only one song (and animation) so far, but I like his music. Check it out, and spread the word, if you dig it.

Monday, 20-Feb-06 11:00
Blogs, popularity, A-lists, and more

There's a nice article over at New York Metro on the so-called A-list of bloggers, people who make millions blogging, how the whole popularity seems "fixed" and the difficulty of the C-listers to get to the A-list. You know, the usual stuff.

The article also discusses on why advertisers love blogs, because they can reach to smaller, more focused niches through them - and this is what creates the value, and in my opinion also explains why AOL paid 25 million USD on Weblogs.inc. It's premiere web estate for advertising.

But having a popular blog seems to be really hard work. Here's a quote from John Battelle:

What’s more, a blog is like a shark: If it stops moving, it dies. Without fresh postings every day—hell, every few minutes—even the most well-linked blog will quickly lose its audience. The A-listers cannot rest on their laurels. Federated Media owner John Battelle recently published a book on Google, and while on the book tour, he neglected his own well-trafficked blog (No. 81 on Technorati’s rankings) for several days. “And suddenly I was getting all these e-mails going, ‘If you don’t get your shit together, I’m out of here,’ ” he recalls. He stayed up late that night frantically adding posts. “If you start sucking,” he says, “it’s through.”

Which brings me to the subject of newspapers and mainstream media: one thing that they have going for them is that they can rely on brand and their editorial machinery to keep running. A blogger needs to be able to produce good quality content on his own constantly to keep up in the race - a newspaper can draw on the collective of its staff to produce their content - if an individual screws up, then that's not too bad. If he screws up several times in a row, you can fire him - but a blogger's blog would just die.

The other thing that the article points out is that many of the top blogs are these days backed by corporations, and written for by professional writers. The same is visible here: Blogs from Helsingin Sanomat, the largest newspaper in Finland, are quite popular. I don't find it particularly surprising: well-connected, professional writers backed by a corporation, screened by an editor... Why wouldn't they be popular?

The power law says that being social means being inequal. Maybe the way to full equality is to become totally antisocial?

(Via Uberkuul. Read also this ZDNet article on the economic impact of blogs.)

Thursday, 16-Feb-06 18:21
Skype on Nokia cell phones

Apparently, Skype has been demoing Skype on Nokia S60 phones at 3GSM...

Nice.

(Via Tommi.)

As an aside: I've been using Pandora for some time now. Unfortunately, it keeps feeding me Britney Spears and Whitney Houston... I am not quite sure which one is broken: the software or my taste in music.

Thursday, 16-Feb-06 12:42
I predict that in twenty years, people will still argue over emacs and vi

Well, that's an easy one. But in the 1990s, the internet was new and wonderful, and a lot of people didn't quite know what to make of it. The Imagining the Internet project by Elon University and Pew Internet has been collecting quotes from the early 90s about what this shiny new Internet might become. Some of these predictions are off the mark, some of them are wildly off the mark, and some of them are spot-on. But they're certainly interesting to read now, 15 years later.

The site is chock full of information, including predictions for the next 150 years, a searchable database, a kids section and videos; check it out.

(Via ITConversations.)

Tuesday, 14-Feb-06 13:42
Real-life transformer

This video of a working, walking, driving transformer robot is the coolest thing I've seen all day.

Well, for the past ten minutes anyway.

(Via... I can't remember anymore.)

Monday, 13-Feb-06 15:23
Bloggers, the next public menace?

From MSN Money:

WASHINGTON (AP) - The government concluded its "Cyber Storm" wargame Friday, its biggest-ever exercise to test how it would respond to devastating attacks over the Internet from anti-globalization activists, underground hackers and bloggers.

Nice to be in such a good crowd.

(Via Blog Herald.)

Friday, 10-Feb-06 10:03
Moving day!

All is packed, and of course, the Internet is the last thing to go. The moving men are supposed to arrive right now, so I'm pulling the plug and timing how fast I can get back online after things are settled at the other end. Geeky? Perhaps a bit... Addicted? No, surely not!

23:08. Finally I had a bit of time to log on. The actual internet connection was down for perhaps three hours, but I didn't have time to open a computer until now. The apartment is now filled with boxes that need unpacking, a bunch of black plastic bags with all our clothes, and all our furniture in a million pieces waiting to be put together again. It's a daunting task.

We started off by filling the fridge, putting the bed back together, and turning on our wireless internet. One must have priorities.

Thursday, 09-Feb-06 10:27
"Isn't that just fantastic?"

Amnesty International has created an ad campaign against the unchecked arms trade which is going on throughout the world. What if you could buy AK-47's from TV shop? Only UKP 474.99! If you call within the hour, you get free ammunition for one year!

(Via Übercool.)

Wednesday, 08-Feb-06 12:08
New study suggests copyright is too complex

"Tulevaisuuden elinvoimainen Suomi" - "The vibrant Finland of the future" -study (in Finnish, tho') lead by our PM Matti Vanhanen has some interesting conclusions[2], such as:

  • Copyright now belongs to the realm of industrial politics rather than cultural politics
  • The current copyright legislation is outdated, and needs to be redesigned as soon as possible
  • Digital distribution over multiple channels to a single person is not supported by current copyright legislation[1]
  • Copyright system is not flexible and is too complex for creation of commercial services
  • Copyright ownership is too concentrated to big, multinational corporations
  • Finland should start to push for copyright renewal in the EU
  • Government organizations should adopt Creative Commons -licenses as much as possible to speed up innovation. Things created using public funds should be available for as free dissemination as possible.

More discussion at Digitoday.

I think this shows how small streams create big effects: the discussion last year showed that there is more and more dissatisfaction at how copyright issues are currently being handled, and therefore it's easier to voice your opinions now. The different campaigns are having impact. Saying that the current copyright system does not work is no longer the sign of the lunatic - and people are starting to realize that you can speak against copyright monopolies and current practices, without opposing copyright in general. The climate may be shifting, though it will take a few years before the EU moves.

Now is the right time to start adding more steam to the discussion. Now would be a good time to start offering good, constructive ideas to MPs, now that they are beginning to be aware of what is really wrong. Now is the time to start to collect experiences, suggestions, ideas, and to be constructive instead of bitching and moaning how the copyright mafia and megacorporations trample over the little guys, using the artists as human shields to protect their enormous profits.

This report seems to be a good start.

[#1]: There's a big controversy around cell phone TV in Finland right now: the copyright levies are based on the amount of potential listeners. According to Gramex and other copyright organizations, this payment must be made separately for each new channel. Broadcasting corporations violently disagree, as they cannot reach more than the 5 million people, for which they are already paying anyway.

[#2]: Though, since this report was commissioned to Koulutuskeskus Dipoli, it should be noted that everyone involved was working for the government in one way or the other, with strong ties to the Helsinki University of Technology. This, of course, will be used against them - I'm pretty sure someone will shout that no copyright organizations were consulted in making of the whitepaper.

Monday, 06-Feb-06 15:30
We are sorry

From www.sorrynorwaydenmark.com:

In the middle of all the mayhem surrounding the Danish cartoons controversy, a group of Arab and Muslim youth have set up this website to express their honest opinion, as a small attempt to show the world that the images shown of Arab and Muslim anger around the world are not representative of the opinions of all Arabs. We whole-heartedly apologize to the people of Denmark, Norway and all the European Union over the actions of a few, and we completely condemn all forms of vandalism and incitement to violence that the Arab and Muslim world have witnessed. We hope that this sad episode will not tarnish the great friendship that our peoples have fostered over decades.

The problem with media representation of such issues tends to be that the media only picks up the loudest voices, ignoring the rational ones that do not generate as much noise. Voices that seek tolerance, dialogue and understanding are always drowned out by the more sensationalist loud calls, giving viewers the impression that these views are representative of all the Arab public’s view. This website is a modest attempt at redressing this wrong. We would appreciate it if you could forward the word to as many of your friends as possible.

(In case you're living under the proverbial rock, Wikipedia has a good article, as usual.)

Update: Oops. This link came via Jani. I don't know where my brain was.

Monday, 06-Feb-06 00:10
Blogit - miksi minun ja yritykseni pitäisi välittää "nettipäiväkirjoista"?

Kävin puhumassa tiistaina yritysbloggaamisesta Hetkyn tilaisuudessa, ja lupasin laittaa esityksen julkisesti saataville.

Olkaa hyvät: Powerpoint(info) (Powerpoint, 3.8 MB)

(English summary: I gave a presentation on corporate blogging; here are the slides in Finnish.)

Friday, 03-Feb-06 22:40
On learning

There's a series of Finnish commercials from the 80's about a master painter and his apprentice. At the end of each ad, the master would say to the apprentice, in a vaguely surprised, yet proud tone: "Son... You're beginning to learn" ("Poika, sä alat oppia").

Every night this week, I've gone to our new apartment, cranked up the radio, changed my clothes, rolled up my sleeves, and started to paint the walls, and other things that happened to need painting. After having painted my new apartment entirely now twice (I'm slow), I can say that I feel that I'm beginning to learn.

I think I almost know by heart the playlists of most commercial radio stations in the capital area.

They all suck.

Tuesday, 31-Jan-06 12:53
Nokia to release Python S60 as Open Source

Yup. It's official, and you can download the source code now. I understand it wasn't an easy process, but it's good that it's finally done. The licenses seem to be Apache License v2 and the Python License.

The source code for Python for S60 Platform will be made available to the open-source software development community through SourceForge.net, which provides free hosting to open-source software development projects and is the world's largest Open Source software development web site, hosting more than 100,000 projects and over 1,000,000 registered users with a centralized resource for managing projects, issues, communications, and code.

Ugh. I don't like Sourceforge at all. I've always found its interface to be repulsing, and I can never find what I am looking for.

Now, if only there were more open source hackers on S60... Symbian is difficult[1], and not very endearing to a casual programmer (though you could arguably say the same thing about MIDP Java). But I hope the source code will allow others to also work on their alternative programming environments (OPL, anyone?) for S60 as well. These new platforms do make smartphone programming a lot easier.

[#1]: There. I've said it. It's frigging obvious to anyone with half a brain, who takes a look at the SDK, anyway. I tried once to learn Symbian programming, but after four hours I got so scared and confused that I peed my pants, so I had to stop. And oh, my opinions are my own opinions, not the company opinions, yadda yadda.
Monday, 30-Jan-06 14:43
Agency tells model: beauty and brains do not mix

So, Anina, the resident supermodel of the blogosphere got an ultimatum from her agency: stop doing the tech stuff, because "fashion and technology do not go together".

Eh? Excuse me? But... that's what she's famous for!

Maybe they're scared that one of "their girls" is not conforming to be just a beauty, but also shows to have brains. Maybe they're annoyed that she's getting more attention that the agency. Maybe they're scared that if she keeps doing this tech stuff, she's going to go away to better-paying jobs. High technology is probably the area (sports and motor sports perhaps excluded) where the demographics couldn't be more suited for beautiful women who know what they're talking about (and can crank their own PHP).

Maybe they're just scared at change, like everyone else.

Saturday, 28-Jan-06 12:41
No more food?

I was just listening to a podcast with an interview from Kim Stanley Robinson, and he mentioned something pretty alarming which I hadn't really realized before... The carbon dioxide in the atmosphere (which is a strong contributor to global warming) is also affecting the balance in the oceans - and when it's mixed with water, it becomes carbon acid. This acid is pretty mild, but still, in sufficient quantities, enough to prevent things like shells forming on tiny little marine organisms.

The problem is, these little tiny things form the bottom of the food pyramid. Fish eat them, bigger fish eat those fish, and after a few layers, we humans are at the top of the chain.

What happens to a pyramid, if the base suddenly crumbles?

From The Guardian:

Dr Orr and an international team from Britain, the US, Japan and Australia combined recent measurements from oceans with computer models to work out how CO2 levels are likely to change the acidity of oceans in coming decades if emissions continue as expected.

They found that by 2100, the amount of carbonate available for marine organisms would drop by 60%. By 2050, there could be too little carbonate in surface waters for organisms to form shells.

"Oops."

(More in the New Scientist.)

Thursday, 26-Jan-06 11:22
Copy Control Factory

Hilarious spoof of an "antipiracy" comic book. In Finnish.

The fun thing is that the author lives in the US, and the work is protected under USC 107§, the parody act. It may well be that distributing this is illegal in Finland, as it's a derivative work... But I seriously doubt anyone is going to give a shit.

(Via everyone.)

Wednesday, 25-Jan-06 13:18
Messenger from intranet

Whoo! Now here's a cool AJAX app: Meebo allows you to access MSN Messenger, Yahoo Messenger, AIM and Google Talk from within your browser - and it works through corporate firewalls, too! Now you can access your IM from anywhere...

It looks very good, too: You get cool stuff like scalable and movable windows in your browser, emoticons, a buddylist, etc.

(Thanks to Heikki T for the tip.)

Wednesday, 25-Jan-06 11:01
It's easy to be a pirate

Interesting... Both GVU - the German "antipiracy" -team, run by the media and entertainment industry - and MPAA - the US movie producer's association - have been caught redhanded doing things they want to stop others from doing. GVU is spreading files in p2p networks (in Finnish) to try to catch others doing the same thing, whereas MPAA has been copying and distributing DVDs without the rightsholder's permission.

There is, of course, some more justification for both. But copyright organizations are not the police, and they cannot and must not assume the same rights as the police has. The idea that law enforcement is done by private, unaccountable entities is not a good idea; not in practice nor morally.

For the latter it might appear that MPAAs copying is governed by Fair Use. And I actually agree; that's something that could well be covered by fair use. But considering that MPAA has been shouting for years that there is no fair use, and considering that someone in the entertainment industry wants to eradicate these old-style "rights", this seems very... what's that word? Hypocrite?

(Via numerous places, mostly Boing Boing and Slashdot.)

Tuesday, 24-Jan-06 12:44
Please, somebody make me Flickr for Powerpoints?

One of the things about working for a large organization is the incredible amount of Powerpoint that will amass throughout the company. I have gigabytes of .ppt:s in my hard drives; some of them still useful, some of them not. There are lots of search tools which peek into these and allow me to find decks that I remember seeing, but what I would really, really like to have is some sort of a way to collect all the corporate powerpoints lying around in the intranet under something else than a search engine. After all, copy-paste of useful slides is a common practice in the corporate world: you don't have to worry about copyright, since by default all slides you and everyone else did belong to the corporation. (Attribution is of course good to do; else you might piss off people.)

Finding information from an company intranet is usually quite a problem. The search engine trickery learned with Google does not necessarily work, since intranets tend to be strongly hierarchical and managed, and you can't rely on the usual "if it's linked to often, it's more important" -thang as much as you can in the internet. The content also tends to be a mix of HTML, Powerpoint and Word, which do not lend easily to free-form hyperlinking. Powerpoints can be notoriously difficult to find any context in, especially if you prefer the Steve Jobs one-word-per-slide-but-plenty-of-pictures -method, so the search engines cannot index them properly.

One such other media which is difficult to index are pictures. However, Flickr shows that even from this chaos you can get some sort of order. JC Hertz has found use for Flickr to store US Army satellite images.

Why wouldn't it work for Powerpoint and associated Office files as well? Having a central repository that you can just dump your powerpoints for someone else to find some use in, or at least keep your own slides organized through tags and sets, might be a nice little productivity increaser. Or just result in more powerpoint, who knows... I've personally started to prefer Word documents these days; the clipped, terse bullets of PPT tend to simplify and trivialise things too much.

(Free idea, now go and make something. And come back to me whenever you have it running. If you do good, I'll buy it... :)

(Credits to Stephen and Charlie and ~ChrisH for the idea.)

Tuesday, 24-Jan-06 10:02
Gasp!

*choke* The perpetual beta is over! Google Blog reports that Google News is no longer beta - the first time since it was launched in 2002.

That's one long beta testing period.

Maybe the web application space is maturing? Nah...

Tuesday, 24-Jan-06 09:57
Public floggings in Japan

Joi Ito has an interesting entry about the Japanese culture, the Live Door case (in Finnish) and what one should and should not do. A lot of it is globally applicable, like the fact that you should think what you say, and that breaking the law because everyone else does it too, is not a good idea.

Saturday, 21-Jan-06 21:38
My five weird habits

Since Kolibri asks, I think I feel obliged to answer...

  1. I grunt while I am coding. I hold my breath and release it such that it sounds like I'm having a fit. This tends to annoy everyone around.
  2. I start sentences and never finish them, when my attention wanders off somewhere else.
  3. I like to pile up sandwiches. Anything goes - I pile butter, sausage, liver paté, cheese, egg, cucumber... As long as the cheese is on top, it works well. The cheese always goes on top, because otherwise my fingers get greasy or otherwise dirty when eating the sandwich. I do this also on Carelian pastries, which scares people.
  4. If I make a full turn to the left, I need to make a full turn to the right "to unwind". This was far stronger impulse when I was young (like seven or so), but I still feel it. By the way, I've never, ever, mentioned this to anyone before. Probably because I thought I was weird, and everyone was normal. How completely mistaken I was...
  5. I throw away chocolate. I buy a lot of it, but I forget to eat it, and I end up throwing it away two years after its best-before date. This tends to scare women, for some reason.

I have plenty of other weird habits, but these seemed to be 'work-safe' to list. And yeah, this was after my fourth beer.

Saturday, 21-Jan-06 20:59
Apache for Nokia cell phones

Well, it's not quite out yet, but I've experimented with it a few times, and it's very cool. But the web site is up at the brand new Nokia Research web site.

Having a industrial-grade web server on your cell phone is a pretty good sign that the thing in your pocket is a full microcomputer with full computing and connectivity capabilities. However, quite a few people still see the cell phone as exactly that - something that you call with, and nothing more.

I usually get two kinds of reactions from people whenever I mention that I work for Nokia. The first group starts complaining that the current cell phones are too complicated, and that they really need just a cell phone. And SMS. And clock. And the ability to change the ring tone. And bigger keys and display, but a smaller form factor.

The other kind of a reaction I get from people who tell me - in no uncertain terms - that Nokia should do X, where X ranges from an extra button to do whatever people happen to think is important for them, to some really wild stuff.

(Then there's the third group that tells me why Nokia platforms suck, but let's not get there right now. Maybe later.)

Anyhow, (I'm up to my third beer tonight), and I'm setting up my aunt's new printer, and I've almost completely forgotten what I was going to talk about....

...

Yeah, the perception of mobile phones. It's odd: mobile phones are such intensely personal devices, that people really see them completely differently. Some people can't simply comprehend why manufacturers roll out devices with all sorts of capabilities that most people will never use, but on the other hand, there's a number of people that want to have PC-quality graphics, sound and bandwidth in the cell phone, too. And it's really, really hard to cater for both extremes. At some level, cell phones are always about compromises, far more than PCs ever are.

However, I think it's still exciting that people are constantly pushing the boundaries on what cell phones can be. Having a web server in your cell phone might not feel such a grand thing (I'm sure a lot of you are asking "why" at this moment), but I think it's important in the exploratory sense. The reason why you now have SMS is that someone once thought that it might be cool to be able to send short text messages around, though he couldn't exactly figure out why you might want to do that on a crappy keypad. Who knows what a web server in your cell phone might turn out to be in a few years?

(Via Matt.)

Sunday, 15-Jan-06 02:07
Today...

...we accepted an offer to buy our apartment. It happened right in the wood section of Bauhaus, with everyone wearing jeans and a lot of randomly arranged dots of paint. Not very ceremonious, but odd enough for my taste.

A big load off my shoulders, I can tell you that. Having two apartments and two house loans at the same time is... frigging scary, even though it's apparently one of the things that adults do for fun every few years.

Our place was sold in four days, so I now owe Outi a dinner - I claimed it would take at least four to six weeks to sell it; but she was confident that we would get it sold sooner.

Always bet on the worse option. I lost, but for the price of one dinner I get to sleep a lot better. Had I won - well, at least I would've gotten the dinner.

Wednesday, 11-Jan-06 09:21
Google Earth for Mac

Yup, it's available.

Having said that, I'm happy with the new MacBook Pro announcement. It looks pretty damned cool - though I worry a bit about the fact that they do not announce the battery life anywhere. So I'm assuming it sucks. Anyhoo, I'll be waiting for the 12" version of the same - I don't have enough space in my backpack to lug around a 15"...

Tuesday, 10-Jan-06 21:44
A glimmer of light in the patent system

New York Times reports that USPTO has teamed up with IBM, Red Hat, Novell and some universities to provide better visibility to open source for their patent examiners.

The United States Patent and Trademark Office plans to announce today that it will cooperate with open-source software developers on three initiatives that it says will improve the quality of software patents.

The patent office has come under increasing pressure in recent years from critics who contend that it issues patents without adequate investigation of earlier inventions. As a result, conflicts over published patents have loosed an avalanche of intellectual property litigation.

This is good news. Even if it's just a small step - they still have to train their examiners to use whatever new system they come up with, and making overworked people to adopt new ways of working can be pretty... straining.

For the IPR-discussion challenged among you: Patents good. Janne like. Janne think USPTO is overworked. Janne think they not have capacity to examine patents well enough. Janne thinks many crap patents issued because of that. Janne thinks many companies taking advantage of this. Janne thinks it is good to help USPTO to work better. Janne thinks more work needs to be done, though. Janne wonders, maybe copyright should be more like patents.

Janne thinks imbecile people will now think Janne said "copyright must be exactly like patents."

Tuesday, 10-Jan-06 10:30
The unseen video

This little gem comes from Unacosa. Riikka writes:

The Unseen Video is absolutely the most beautiful thing that I have seen for a long long time. It is a weather controlled, dynamic music video with a charming combination of old photographs, video and vector graphics animation. This thing I just adore. Congratulations to guys (Daniel Scheibel and Ferdinand Weinrother) who made it as a thesis project - hopefully they got the best possible grade.

There's even a Flickr pool of images from the video.

Monday, 09-Jan-06 22:20
Rautalankaa kopiosuojauksista

(Sorry for continued Finnish content. I'll resume my normal habits, once I get some things off my chest about the copyright legislation...)

Näin uuden vuoden (ja Lex Karpelan) kunniaksi pitää nyt selvittää yksi asia.

On väärin puhua kopiosuojauksista. Oikea termi on "käyttörajoite".

Jaa mitä välii vai? Antakaas kun setä selittää:

Tietokoneet osaavat tehdä hyvin kahta asiaa: yhteenlasku ja kopiointi. Kaikki tietokoneet (ja sitä kautta koko kulutuselektroniikka) rakentuu näiden kahden yksinkertaisen toiminnon varaan. (Nykyään tietokoneet osaavat tosin tehdä hyvin myös kertolaskuja, mutta aritmetiikkaa yhtä kaikki.)

Pelkästään yhteenlaskusta ei ole iloa - mies, joka osaa laskea yhteen päässään, mutta ei osaa kirjoittaa sitä paperille tahi lausua ääneen, on yhtä tyhjän kanssa. Samaten tietokone, joka ei pystyisi kopioimaan, olisi tarpeeton.

Tietokoneelle se, että estää kopioinnin, on noin sama kuin estäisi ihmistä hengittämästä. Ei hyvä idea pidemmän päälle. Tuppaa tulemaan rumihia.

Kun nyt puhutaan kopiosuojauksista, ei suinkaan tarkoiteta sitä, että kopiot olisi jotenkin suojattu, esimerkiksi sadetta vastaan. Oikeampi olisi puhua kopioinnin estosta, sillä sitähän sillä pyritään tekemään. Samanlainen uussana on "murtosuojaus", joka kuulostaa paljon paremmalta kuin "murron esto". Estäminenhän on aina negatiivista, suojaaminen positiivista, vaikka kyse olisikin samasta asiasta. Kun siis puhutaan "kopiosuojasta", tarkoitetaan että kyseessä on "kopioinnin esto", mutta se halutaan saada kuulostamaan kivalta ja positiiviselta asialta. Vähän niinkuin kuvailisi hirttoköyttä "hengityssuojaukseksi" eikä "hengittämisen estoksi".

Tietokoneet (ja CD-soittimetkin; se sinun "jog-proof" -mallisi toimii kopioimalla musiikkia CD:ltä väliaikaisesti muistiin) eivät voi olla sen enempää kopioimatta musiikkia kuin sinä voit olla kuuntelematta sitä.

Noin esimerkiksi, teen tässä alla kaksi kopiota ns. "kopiosuojatusta" tiedostosta (jonka ostin iTunes Music Storesta tätä tarkoitusta varten). Molemmat kopiot toimivat oikein mainiosti. Se, mitä en voi tehdä, on siirtää tuota tiedostoa toiselle tietokoneelle niin että se toimisi, koska iTunes-ohjelma vahtii, että kyseistä musiikkikappaletta soitetaan vain yhdellä tietokoneella. Kyseessä ei siis ole kopioiden tekemisen rajoittaminen, vaan käytön rajoittaminen.

[DralaFi:tmp] jalkanen% ls -la
total 7488
drwxr-xr-x   3 jalkanen  staff      102 Jan  7 18:44 .
drwxr-xr-x   3 jalkanen  staff      102 Jan  7 18:44 ..
-rw-r--r--   1 jalkanen  staff  3831978 Dec  6 00:07 15 Feliz Navidad.m4p
[DralaFi:tmp] jalkanen% cp 15\ Feliz\ Navidad.m4p feliz.m4p
[DralaFi:tmp] jalkanen% ls -la
total 14976
drwxr-xr-x   4 jalkanen  staff      136 Jan  9 20:58 .
drwxr-xr-x   3 jalkanen  staff      102 Jan  7 18:44 ..
-rw-r--r--   1 jalkanen  staff  3831978 Dec  6 00:07 15 Feliz Navidad.m4p
-rw-r--r--   1 jalkanen  staff  3831978 Jan  9 20:58 feliz.m4p
[DralaFi:tmp] jalkanen% cp 15\ Feliz\ Navidad.m4p feliz2.m4p
[DralaFi:tmp] jalkanen% ls -la
total 22464
drwxr-xr-x   5 jalkanen  staff      170 Jan  9 20:59 .
drwxr-xr-x   3 jalkanen  staff      102 Jan  7 18:44 ..
-rw-r--r--   1 jalkanen  staff  3831978 Dec  6 00:07 15 Feliz Navidad.m4p
-rw-r--r--   1 jalkanen  staff  3831978 Jan  9 20:58 feliz.m4p
-rw-r--r--   1 jalkanen  staff  3831978 Jan  9 20:59 feliz2.m4p

(Juh. Se on Celine Dionia. Ajattelin, että tämän kopiointi ainakaan ei vie minua helvettiin.)

Tekijänoikeuskeskustelussa erityisesti mediateollisuus on keskittynyt kopioiden tekemisen pahuuteen. Tämä osoittaa hyvin vanhakantaisen ajatusmallin, joka tosin on helppo myydä asiasta mitään ymmärtämättömille. Digitaalisessa maailmassa kopiointi on luonnollista, ja tyystin normaali toimenpide, jota tapahtuu triljoonia kertoja koko ajan. Sitä ei voi estää.

Se, mitä näillä rajoitustekniikoilla halutaan tehdä, on estää luvaton käyttö. Voit toki kopioida DRM-suojatun tiedoston kaverillesi vaikka miljoona kertaa, mutta hän ei voi käyttää (kuunnella, katsoa) sitä, ellei ole erikseen hakenut lupaa.

Luvattoman käytön määrittelee sitten oikeuksien omistaja. Hän voi esimerkiksi antaa oikeuden kuunnella musiikkikappale vain kolme kertaa. Hän voi sanoa, että saat kuunnella kuukauden ajan kappaletta, mutta sen jälkeen joudut maksamaan lisää. Hän voi jopa muuttaa oikeuksiasi kesken kaiken, jos epäilee sinun syyllistyneen johonkin epäilyttävään - lakimiehet pitävät huolta siitä, että he varaavat itselleen tämän oikeuden. Euroopassa kuluttajansuoja on sen verran voimakas, että täällä tuskin nähdään pahimpia ylilyöntejä, mutta monessa muussa maassa käyttörajoituksilla voidaan tehdä kuluttajasta mediateollisuuden orja kuin huomaamatta. Miltä kuulostaisi käyttörajoite, jonka mukaan sinun on katsottava televisiota vähintään kolme tuntia päivässä, jotta saat pitää oikeuden katsoa sitä jatkossakin maksamatta? Mahdollista, joskin melko epätodennäköistä.

Käyttörajoitteet muuttavat sen, miten käytämme esimerkiksi musiikkia. Et enää "osta" itsellesi rajoittamatonta oikeutta kuunnella musiikkia missä ja milloin haluat ja millä tahansa välineellä ostamalla CD:n, vaan lunastat itsellesi rajoitetun, yksipuolisesti muutettavan ja koska tahansa peruutettavan lisenssin kuunnella musiikkia hyvin rajatussa ympäristössä. Päätös siitä, miten ja missä musiikkia saa kuunnella, siirtyy kuluttajalta tekijänoikeuksien omistajalle. Tämä kuluttajien oikeuksien radikaali muutos on juuri se, mihin uuden tekijänoikeuslain 50a-c pykälät tähtäävät, ja tämä on se, mihin kritiikki kohdistuu. Se vain on valitettavasti onnistuttu huutamaan piiloon kummankin tahon toimesta: toiset ovat keskittyneet meluamaan MP3-soittimien laillisuudesta, ja toiset taas syyttävät kaikkia lain kritisoijia piraateiksi.

Nämä digitaaliset käyttörajoitteet ovat mediateollisuuden märkä unelma. CD:t ja DVD:t ovat tällä hetkellä hyvin heikosti suojattuja, eikä niihin tulla saamaan toimivia kopiointiestoja mitenkään - markkinamiesten puheista huolimatta. Sen sijaan uudet tarkkapiirtotelevisiot ja uudet audiolevyformaatit tulevat tukemaan niin tiukkoja kopiointiestoja kuin markkinat vetävät. Ja koska uudet tekijänoikeuslait tekevät näiden murtamisesta hyvin rajusti laitonta (noin tappoon verrattavaa rikollisuutta), mediateollisuus tulee voimakkaasti markkinoimaan ja työntämään näitä uusia järjestelmiä markkinoille. Esimerkiksi vaikkapa teräväpiirtojärjestelmissä käytetty HDMI-standardi, jonka yli kuvatieto siirtyy salattuna - ennen saatoit ottaa SCART-liittimestä kuvan ja digitoida sen; uusissa järjestelmissä tämä ei enää onnistukaan.

Tämän takia ei itse asiassa ole kovin järkevää boikotoida DVD:itä. Kaikki uudet järjestelmät ovat merkittävästi enemmän kuluttajan oikeuksia rajoittavia - jos luulit, että aluekoodit ja Linuxin toimimattomuus olivat hankalia, niin et ole nähnyt vielä mitään. Miten olisi videonauhuri, joka poistaa ohjelmia vaikket ole ehtinyt katsella niitä? Tai järjestelmä, joka murtautuu koneeseesi vahtiakseen, ettet huijaa nettipeleissä? Tai jo monta kertaa mainittu "Ei käyttäjät tiedä, mikä on rootkit, joten miksi niistä pitäisi välittää" -Sonyn haittaohjelma.

On helppo keskittyä keskustelemaan CD-levyistä, koska ne ovat tällä hetkellä tärkein ja konkreettisin median muoto, joita myös levitetään laittomasti eniten. Mutta todellisuudessa käyttörajoitteisiin liittyy paljon pahempia uhkia, jotka realisoituvat vasta muutaman vuoden päästä. Lex Karpela on laadittu "tulevaisuutta silmälläpitäen", sanovat lain laatijat, ja ovat harvinaisen oikeassa. Tulevaisuuden media tulee olemaan rajoitettu tavoilla, joita me emme voi edes kuvitella - ja mediateollisuus haalii itselleen vain entistä enemmän valtaa. Kyse ei ole enää vain rahan tekemisestä; tässä on jo kyse puhtaan vallan kahmimisesta. Keksikää tähän jokin sopiva lainaus rahan ja vallan korruptoivasta vaikutuksesta, minä en jaksa kaivaa sopivaa niiden miljoonien joukosta.

Tärkein ase tässä taistelussa on se, että ihmiset ymmärtävät, mihin ovat päänsä pistämässä kun he ostavat jotain käyttörajoitteista. Yhtenä tärkeänä tekijänä on se, että asioista puhutaan niiden oikeilla nimillä.

Puhutaan siis rehellisesti "käyttörajoitteista" eikä "kopiosuojauksista". Puhutaan "musiikin vuokraamisesta", ei "musiikin ostamisesta". Ja puhutaan myös siitä, miten uudet, hienot teknologiat merkitsevät muutakin kuin enemmän pikseleitä.

Monday, 09-Jan-06 14:09
More dumb jokes

If you get this, you're a Finnish-speaking nerd. If you laugh at it, you're a sad, Finnish-speaking nerd.

On a completely unrelated issue: it's a good thing I have a tea mug which has a lid. Otherwise I might have spilled it on my keyboard, because I was laughing so hard.

(Via Irre on IRC.)

Monday, 09-Jan-06 10:11
No CD DRM pledge

If you have already decided not to buy any CDs with any sort of DRM (Digital Rights Management, i.e. copy protection, i.e. broken CDs), you might as well sign this pledge. This is organized by "Free Culture@NYU", who have also set up a wiki with more information.

(Via BB.)

Sunday, 08-Jan-06 15:25
Ei palkintoja, ellei...

Niin, jotkut ovat jo odotelleet tämän vuoden Kultaisia Kuukkeleita, mutta valitettavasti tosiseikka on se, että muuton, remontin, töiden ja JSPWikin puristuksessa minulla ei ole kerta kaikkiaan aikaa tänä keväänä järjestää ko. pippaloita. Sitäpaitsi, olen muuttamassa pois Kalliosta ja Helsingistä, olen jo lähtenyt top-listalta, en lue suurinta osaa top-listan blogeista, enkä ole ehtinyt käydä sisäpiirin pippaloissakaan, niin ei minulla oikeastaan ole enää kvalifikaatioitakaan... Antaisin kuitenkin sitäpaitsi omavaltaisesti kaikki palkinnot Vahtikoiralle, jota ylläpitävät kaverit ja tutut. ;-)

Anyhoo, tämä tarkoittaa sitä, että Kuukkelikisan järjestäjän paikka blogimaailman kuumimmassa huumassa on tarjolla. Vaatimuksena ehdoton, vahva oma näkemys, bileidenorganisoimiskyky ja kyky hermostuttaa tosikoita. Palkkioksi saa oikeudet kultainenkuukkeli.net -domainiin, ja... no, joitain mustelmia egoon. Hyvällä lykyllä kisan järjestämällä saattaa löytää itselleen myös bloggaavan kaunottaren (tai komistuksen. Toimi ainakin minun kohdallani. Siis se kaunotar, ei se komistus.)

Yhteydenotot pers. koht..

(English Summary: No time to arrange Finnish blog awards this year; too much real work to do. Searching for hardboiled volunteers.)

Thursday, 05-Jan-06 20:11
Tired fun

Heh. Dumb jokes on the internet are usually just dumb, but this one is a pretty good blonde joke.

(Thanks to Jocka.)

Wednesday, 04-Jan-06 20:56
It's dead, Jim

"He's passed on! This plant is no more! He has ceased to be! He's expired and gone to meet 'is maker! He's a stiff! Bereft of life, he rests in peace! If you hadn't nailed him to the perch he'd be pushing up the daisies! His metabolic processes are now history! He's off the twig! He's kicked the bucket, he's shuffled off his mortal coil, run down the curtain and joined the bleedin' choir invisible! THIS IS AN EX-PLANT!!"

(Apologies to Monty Python.)

Tuesday, 03-Jan-06 15:22
The rules are changing

Last Wednesday, Darla Mack complained about poor Nokia warranty support in the US.

Yesterday, it was already #5 in google.com, and #6 in google.fi, when you search for nokia warranty. All other pages are brochures or ebay announcements. It's therefore quite likely that if you are looking for Nokia warranty information (e.g. if you're planning to purchase a Nokia phone), you'll end up reading this rant. And since people probably keep linking to it, it'll float on the top for months, maybe years.

There's no way to tell what it leads to. It cost Kryptonite 10M USD in replacements after someone showed how to pick their locks with a ball point pen, and who knows how much in lost sales. On the other hand, no matter how negatively people write about Microsoft, they still make tons of money.

There has been negative and positive criticism throughout all of the internet. Mostly it's been limited to closed or semiopen groups of likeminded people (discussion boards, USENET, mailing lists, IRC). It's just that now single blog posts - single opinions - can become global influencers through the power of the search engines. These engines don't have any preprogrammed idea about corporate blurbs and corporate PR-folks being more reliable than anyone else. They play by new rules, born out of chaos and grey, devised by pale geeks in their dark chambers.

A lot of companies don't know how to play by these rules. The rules are not clear to begin with, and especially with the big behemoths it takes time for them to understand the game, and they refuse to enter the arena before they know what the rules are. The game scares them, because they are afraid to make mistakes. Some companies just go in, and play by the ear until they learn the rules. Others sit on the edge of the field, and try to figure out the rules by watching the players. Some companies get dragged into the game, kicking and screaming. Some can afford to ignore the game altogether, and keep going just like they have been doing for the past 200 years.

This "Web 2.0" -thing is like playing Calvinball on a global scale: nobody quite knows what the rules are, a lot of them are made on the spot, and winners can become losers overnight. (Calvinball is better, though, because you get to wear a cool mask. In Web 2.0 you have AJAX, but it's not that cool.)

The question is - what are the rules of the game? What do I tell people who ask why we should care about some blogger somewhere? Do they really matter, or is everyone just having self-delusional feelings of self-importance? How much would it cost to just ignore the internet? Can it be influenced, and how? How to win the game? Or should you just aim at surviving it?

(Disclaimer: I work for Nokia, but I am a private person and my opinions do not necessarily reflect the opinion of the company, even if I am trying my best to make my opinions to be the company opinions as well, which is very unlikely to succeed, but I like to bang my head against walls anyway, just ask my colleagues, and thank you, I will go and make tea now.)

Tuesday, 03-Jan-06 13:14
New year, new tricks

Some people change the entire looks of their blog when the new year comes. Some even change the entire blog engine, or at least update to a new version. Me, I'm just lazy, so I change the subtitle.

Monday, 02-Jan-06 19:18
The FAQ is really only Q

The Finnish Ministry of Education has released a FAQ on the new copyright legislation.

It's the worst FAQ ever. It's full of legalese, has few examples, no discussion, is ambiguous, hardly answers any questions, and looks like a troglodyte cut-n-pasted sections directly from the law onto a web site.

There are answers there, but they're vague and difficult to understand, or apply to real life. These folks clearly have no idea what kind of questions are the frequently asked ones... (Hint: go to Ihan itse, the handicraft discussion board, and look around.)

Then again, I don't think they had a very clear idea about the law in the first place.

Thursday, 29-Dec-05 12:33
Oof...

...I had no idea I had a nest of butterflies in the pit of my stomach. Today, I'm signing the papers for the new apartment. It shouldn't be this difficult - after all, I've done this twice before - but for some reason this one is different. Is it because this might be an important rite in becoming middle-aged? Or maybe that it's the biggest amount of money I've ever handled? Or that me and the bank are now getting tightly married for 25 years?

Maybe it's that I am about to sign away a big portion of my freedom to choose. The older you get, the more your choices become about choosing your own limits: the things you can or cannot do. Some of these choices are mental, as we choose certain principles to follow; some of them are habitual; some of them are spiritual; and some of them are contractual.

Perhaps that's why I feel so strongly about online freedom: I see my own liberties circling and disappearing into the vortex of organized society (out of my free will, even). Even if I'm an engineer, I don't particularly like order and processes. I prefer chaos, invention, innovation, and the quantum fluff of reality to endless powerpoint slideshows about how things should be. Choosing to be a part of the system is the sensible and secure thing to do, but still... something in me keeps fighting the idea.

Well, at least on the internet, nobody knows that you're a middle-aged engineer with lots of loan (+ 2.5 dogs, a Volvo, a wife, 3.14159265 kids, and whatever else middle-aged people tend to have).

Wednesday, 28-Dec-05 12:28
Quickie

Survived Christmas. Got this. Wow! Got lots of sleep, too. Spent Boxing Day fixing my dad's age-old Windows 98 machine. What horrendous pain...

Lukekaa Jukka Kemppisen teksti "Tekijänilkeys".

Saturday, 24-Dec-05 15:38
Star Wreck for mobile phones and iPods

Merry Christmas to everyone!

And especially to all geeks, who can now view the Star Wreck movie on their mobile phones and iPods, thanks to Tommi and Samuli. I can hardly think a geekier pastime for the holidays ;-)

Thursday, 22-Dec-05 11:00
How to make sense of the chaos

As the Christmas Chaos is coming towards us like a train in the same tunnel you're in (and I am, again, hopelessly late with all the things that I Need To Do), some may feel the need to enjoy a bit of laughter. I especially enjoyed The Pi Code, which shows well that you can imagine finding any sort of order from any sort of a chaos, if you really, really, really look for it.

I like chaos. Chaos is fun. Particularly, I like organized chaos. Just come over and see my desk.

Wednesday, 21-Dec-05 16:49
My readers

Hello, everyone in Riyadh, Anchorage, São Paulo, Christchurch, Kuala Lumpur, Beijing, Bangalore, Porto, Istanbul, Malta and all the other cool places I've never been to but would like to go... Sorry for how the blog looks, but the name requires me to keep up appearances. If you were a random googler, then good luck in finding what you were looking for (this isn't it); and if you're a regular reader, then more power to you! Drop me a comment below to make me happier in this dark, cold and miserable country...

(Image through Google Analytics. Click on it to get a bigger one.)

Tuesday, 20-Dec-05 22:52
Black December continues

To continue with the tune of liberties being squashed all over the Internet, here's what's newest new in copy protection and digital restrictions management (DRM):

But the industry worries that even with digital flags, people could still take the analogue output of a digital movie and then redigitise it without the copy protection.

So the idea is to embed an additional copy control signal in the analog picture itself. The law would require equipment to work with a watermarking technology called Video Encoded Invisible Light, which inserts a signal that is part of every frame, but invisible to the naked eye.

According to the bill, any device capable of converting an analogue signal to a digital signal would have to have a control chip that made it obey the copy restrictions embedded in the analogue signal.

So writes New Scientist.

The idea here is that every single device recording of video (including your cell phone camera, and digital tv recorder, and DVD recorder, and VCR recorder, and... well, you get the picture) must have a small chip that will prevent you from photographing anything you don't have rights over.

So, if you're taping your baby's first steps, make sure you turn off any TV screens nearby, or your camera might turn itself off "just in case". Watch out for buildings or statues that will have systems that will send the "copy protected signal" and prevent you from photographing (unless you pay a fee, of course). Watch out for people, who steal these devices, and enter buildings undetected - because security cameras are turned off.

If you read the law proposal carefully, you will also see that it limits time-shifting (i.e. recording a program off the TV to be watched later) to 90 minutes. After this period, the device must delete any program so recorded. So, want to watch that game a bit later tonight? No can do, it's probably been deleted already. You only paid to view it live, you need to pay separate to watch it later. It's as if a baker came to your house and threw away your bread, if you didn't eat it by the best-by date.

Watch for this law to be brought into the EU in 2006, and to Finland in 2008. And start screaming really loud, if you see it approaching.

Tuesday, 20-Dec-05 22:33
Libel suit holds

Jani of Mummila.net, who got fame for getting sued by a religious headmaster, has come back from court, and... lost.

Today, in court, my criticism was considered to have “clearly gone beyond what can be considered reasonable” (my non-professional, and probably inaccurate translation of the part of 9 §, which this sentencing is based on). I was sentenced to a small fine (due to my small incomes), to pay the plaintiff’s related expences (also reasonably small), to pay a moderate, with respect to what was demanded, compensation for “mental anguish” (not sure about the right translation there, either, sorry!), and to pay the plaintiff’s legal expences, which in themselves go far beyond what little funds I currently have.

Oh man... Well, bloggers: Now you know that calling someone a shithead (especially someone with a bit of power) in your blog can get you punished.

It's just too bad that it happened to be this particular case. It cannot be said that Pöyry was completely without fault here, and Jani (or at least his blog personality) is a good person who calls things as he sees them. Same cannot be said for all persons on the internet...

Tuesday, 20-Dec-05 16:11
Being a busy Christmas

Sorry for the silence; many things started to move at the same time, and unfortunately World of Warcraft is also taking up a big chunk of my time. I can't recommend it, if you want to retain even an inkling of control of your life.

In the mean time, feast your eyes on this...

<phone call>

Ehm. I can't remember what I was going to write about. They accepted our offer! We're gonna be living in Espoo next year! Whee! Extra exclamation mark! ;-)

Update: you know, I just realized that getting paid more just means that you can afford to take more debt. There's something deeply wrong in all this. It's a vicious cycle.

Saturday, 17-Dec-05 12:37
Sun Portal Server 7 to include JSPWiki

WOOT! In bed with the big boys ;-)

Yesterday we announced that the long awaited Portal server 7.0 has been released. There are some really interesting features in this release that you might not normally associate a Portal Server aimed at Enterprise Intranets.

First is the inclusion of JSP Wiki - this means you can deploy and manage the wiki infrastructure centrally yet allow communities to maintain their own sites - so you get the benefits of centralized management without the inflexibility. As well as support for Wiki Portlets (and Portlets within wikis), Portal Server 7 introduces the new concept of communities - to reflect the informal. non hierarchical nature of many workgroups (ie. virtual teams). There is also great support for AJAX in Portlets to enable you to develop apps. with a much richer user interface.

I hope we get the portal stuff from you, Sun guys :). Well... Of course we do. It's LGPL. Right?

(Via Dave Johnson.)

Friday, 16-Dec-05 23:38
Jingle bells, where art thou?

It's Christmas time, and everybody's busy sending greeting cards. I'm in a bit of trouble... I realized I have nobody's physical address these days. Really. I remember where people live (I have a pretty good memory for maps), but I have no idea how to describe them to the postal system.

I don't even have a database of addresses - I used to have one on paper (but it's probably been recycled now), and I used to have an electronic one on my Palm (but that's probably lost all its memory by now). I might have backups somewhere, but they are well hidden, and it's quite a lot of trouble to start looking for them.

You see, this is really the only time that I need the addresses. If I need to send something to someone, I'll just scribble it on a nearby piece of paper that exists only as a scratchpad. Then it's gone, and I'll need to ask for it again. But it's not that often, really.

What does it all mean? That I am too far removed from the real world? Or that the world just does not matter to me the way that it used to because I now have better access schemes to it?

Who knows. We just returned from Andrea Bocelli's fine concert. Too tired to think anything complicated right now.

Thursday, 15-Dec-05 17:33
Make your own copy-protected CD

Here's a cool Christmas Gift: Alex Halderman shows how to make your own "strong" copy protection for CDs using regular household items and software. Send it to a friend as a Christmas gift, sue them in January for ripping the music!

(In the same spirit (and same blog), read Ed Felten's story about why spyware and copy protection are inevitably linked together.)

Thursday, 15-Dec-05 11:17
We know what you should be thinking

Everybody suspected it was happening, but now they're out of the closet...

A $300 million Pentagon psychological warfare operation includes plans for placing pro-American messages in foreign media outlets without disclosing the U.S. government as the source, one of the military officials in charge of the program says.

Run by psychological warfare experts at the U.S. Special Operations Command, the media campaign is being designed to counter terrorist ideology and sway foreign audiences to support American policies.

This wasn't certainly a very pro-american-sentiment-generating start...

(Via Dan Gillmor, who's got a lot of good stuff to say about this.)

Thursday, 15-Dec-05 10:50
Bloggers a public menace?

The European Parliament has been debating on whether weblogs are good or bad:

"journalists face libel laws, whereas some bloggers behave as if they're in the Wild West. Bloggers will state things without saying where they got them from. And increasingly, blogs are used to promote products without making this clear". Thomas Burg, of BlogTalk.net, saw things very differently, saying "weblogs are not about content but about sharing, learning and connecting with other people". Blogs should thus be seen as free conversations between people who do not need to adhere to specific rules, rather than as news postings on the Internet. Aidan White, General Secretary of the International Federation of Journalists, vehemently disagreed, saying that a democratic society sets certain norms and standards which should not be thrown out of the window. He deplored the lack of a global legal framework to combat child pornography and libellous or hateful weblogs on the Internet.

This is so classic rhetorics... Equating child pornography and weblogs? Saying that bloggers don't have to worry about libel laws? (Then why has Jani of Mummila a court date set for his libel suit? The libel and criminal laws work on the internet as well as on paper.) Stating that bloggers throw out democratic norms and standards? Hell-o? What could be more democratic than the fact that all people can finally have an equal voice on the internet?

What freedom is it when people are allowed to say whatever they want, as long as it conforms to standards?

What is it about freedom that scares the high officials?

Have they done something wrong - something they do not wish to be uncovered?

Or is it just that the cheerful anarchy of the blogosphere hurts their aesthetic eye for law and order?

"People have little time and want to be reasonably confident that the sites they visit are reliable, whereas a lot of weblogs are tripe", said White. Considering that 90% of weblogs are about the daily life of the common person, does that mean that Mr. General Secretary of the International Federation of Journalists thinks that the life of a common person is tripe? Perhaps people should not be allowed to write about their own life, because they are not experts and trained journalists? I mean, someone might actually mistake that for a real life?

What a dumb and horribly condescending thought.

(Thanks to Janne for the link.)

Wednesday, 14-Dec-05 13:00
Finland plans public humiliation for copyright offenders

Keskisuomalainen writes that there is a new draft of the copyright legislation coming up, which gives the winner of any copyright dispute the right to publish the details of the crime in a newspaper advertisement at the expense of the loser. This, as correctly pointed out by EFF Finland, is tantamount to public humiliation.

The scary thing is that the officials planning this say that there's nothing wrong here. To quote Sami Sunila and Jorma Waldén from the Ministry of Commerce and Ministry of Education, respectively: "This is not meant for humiliation. It's normal newspaper activity to publish names."

True. But it's always the newspapers' decision to do it. And they - with few exceptions - are guided by principles and morals, things that the copyright industry seems to have no respect of. If a company has no qualms whatsoever about installing invasive spyware on your computer, then why would they not use the opportunity to publically humiliate you? After all, it wouldn't even be out of their pocket...

We don't publish the names of the people who drink and drive, even though they endanger the lives of everyone around them. Why would we publish the names of copyright infringers? Are they worse people than rapists and people who run over little girls with expensive cars?

I'm all for transparency, but this is nuts. The internet no longer forgets, and once your name is public, it's always out there, at the reach of The Almighty Google. Public humiliation is a worse punishment now than in the sixties. Look at the Korean shit girl for an example...

Read more (in Finnish) from Kari Haakana, Helsingin Sanomat, Digitoday, Merten, Mediablogi, Tuhat Sanaa, Soopa, and Muropaketti.

Tuesday, 13-Dec-05 22:21
Do not underestimate the power of pink cell phones

During the infamous Finnish Copyright debacle some of the media, MPs and copyright organizations claimed that the entire movement against the new copyright law "was machinated" (what a horrible newspeak word) by some unknown entities. They did not understand that the internet and cell phones allow spontaneous formation of community movements, which have no leaders or originators as such.

Outi just blogged about the current Finnish Idols[1][2] contest, how one very cute guy has gathered support of thousands of teenage girls - so much in fact, that the current list of IRC gallery communities lists tens of fan clubs, the biggest one being 2000+ members... And the fun thing is, they're determined to vote for this guy. So much in fact, that some of them claim to have voted over 130 times and have cell phone bills of over 100€. They support each other, and fan the voting flames. The guy is by far not the best singer, but the girls with the pink cell phones have chosen him to be The Idol. Which, I guess, is kinda the point.

I think this is fundamentally the same phenomenon: the internet and cell phones are allowing spontaneous mobs in an unprecedented scale. In the old days, you were bound by location, and then you would gather together somewhere to demonstrate. Much like shopping, voting is now virtual. No more cards to be sent, no more queuing. No need to grab torches and go hang the horsethief. Everybody with a cell phone is equal and has power.

So, whatever you do, do not underestimate the power of pink cell phones (with sticker photographs and trinket straps). Their vote is as good as yours - and they live and breathe this world. They know how to communicate efficiently - you don't. You are outdated - they are determined. You talk of "machination" - they shrug and don't understand. For them, anyone with enough brain to create an account on a free web site could be the "machinator".

They just don't realize the power they have yet. ;-)

[#1] I would link to the web page, but it's not on Google's top 50, so I can't be bothered - those guys need to talk to some SEO company...
[#2] Update: Turns out it's nowhere on google.com - but it's on google.fi. Still odd, though.
Tuesday, 13-Dec-05 20:08
Finnish independent rock music in DRM-free MP3!

Levyvirasto is a new Finnish music store that will deliver music to you in MP3 format. Yes, no "copy protection" nor DRM. They have a slick web interface, with the first popup preview listening thingy that worked out-of-the-box on a desktop Linux computer.

They even have a blog, which mostly seems to make sense.

The Record Office is available also in English, so any non-Finns reading this can now also glance at the state of modern Finnish independent music. They also deliver CDs, if that's the format you prefer.

I'm so going to support this. Exactly what I wanted. And as a bonus, the artist gets most of the money (70%). It's a very logical extension to Mikseri.net, a place for new artists to show off and let everyone listen. The pieces are slowly getting there to topple over the music hegemony... Maybe this store will fail - but others will follow. And one of them is going to be really, really good.

(Thanks to Digitoday for the tip.)

Tuesday, 13-Dec-05 13:17
Prison for patent infringements

What makes Nokia, BSA, Microsoft, medical companies and FFII band together? Suggestion by the EU commission that patent infringements would become criminal offenses, and punishable by jail. Not even the MPAA is too excited about this proposed law: "This proposed law doesn't add anything for us."

However, the jerkheads at the European Commission seem to be intent on pushing it forward. I can't really see anyone from lobbying something stupid like this: For any corporation, patent lawyers are already an expensive resource. In the IT world, everyone knows that everyone is infringing on everyone's patents already (because they are too many and too vague), and at the moment patents are pretty much a risk management exercise: is it worth it for the corporation?

Should employees suddenly become personally liable for patent infringements, I would find it very difficult to continue to be an engineer and innovate. If employees suddenly start to quit because they fear possible legal problems for doing their regular, everyday job, any product-making corporation in the world is in deep trouble. I could go to jail for something I believe in - but to go to jail for your employer? No thanks. I'd rather start a pizza joint in Philadelphia. The effects might even be worse for universities and smaller companies, which concentrate solely on research.

We Finns have a saying: "mopo pääsi käsistä", which can roughly be translated as "while doing a wheelie, my sub-50 cc engine motorcycle escaped from my direct control." I think this is what is happening here: the goonies at the EC seem to have bought the intellectual property thing with the line, hook and sinker, and are now rampaging through the IPR scenery like horny bulls: screwing everything, thinking that IPR needs to be protected at all costs.

Someone, stop them, before it gets too late. I don't particularly want to move to Philadelphia...

Tuesday, 13-Dec-05 00:38
Sorry, no can blog

I am weak. I bought World of Warcraft. No blog. No speak.

Butt hurts.

Eyes water.

Very sad.

Need more money.

Saturday, 10-Dec-05 00:51
Oops

I still don't comprehend exactly how, but I managed to destroy my entire phonebook from my cell phone and TWO backups. I assure you it wasn't easy; it really needs dedication, stubborn ignorance of warnings, complete lapse of common sense, and access to a flashing station. So before you blame the cell phone, I assure you this was entirely my mistake.

So, if I'm not calling you it's not because I'm impolite.

It's because I'm a moron.

Friday, 09-Dec-05 16:56
Subscribe to news feeds using NFC

Subscribing to an RSS feed on a mobile device is hard: the browser is not connected to an RSS reader, so you need to type the entire URL into your feed reader (and they typically contain all sorts of nasty characters that require 11 fingers, your nose and a dead chicken to type). The other possibility is to use some sort of a preloaded directory, but with 70 million blogs and feeds out there, it's not likely that your favourites are going to be on that list.

Well, I've been talking about NFC before - you just touch a small tag with your mobile phone, and things happen. It seems that two companies in Japan are now using tags so that users can just touch them to subscribe to an RSS feed. No need for anything else - just grab your phone, touch a tag, and you will start getting news. Of course, it actually requires you to first find the tag you want to subscribe to... But if it's embedded in an object ("touch here to start receiving news and updates about your new car"), or available on location ("touch here to get the latest lunch menus to your mobile phone") then it should not be a problem.

It's strange: after all this time of trying to "virtualize" the life: making it more and more location and time independent, giving us the freedom to be anywhere with anyone at anytime, a technology comes along that works from the fact that you are there, physically present, thinking about things that are right in front of you. And I don't think that's a very far-fetched assumption.

Most people live a very location-bound life: many of us travel between home, work, and grocery store, with only occasional trips to other places. Finding the right tags might not be such a problem after all.

BTW, there's a nice article about the promise of NFC in this weeks Economy Technology Quarterly (€). I say promise, because it's still quite a lot about marketing fluff. But what I like about the article is that it's very feet-on-the-ground: "it's too early to tell whether it will fly, it certainly looks good, important companies are backing it up, market is growing, we'll see". Maybe the Great Bubbles taught us something?

Friday, 09-Dec-05 15:21
Radio is not media, says da (wo)man

Leena Ryynänen, the chairman of The Association of Finnish Broadcasters says, that "radio is not media, it's entertainment. For listeners, the most important criteria is music." (To be precise, she's using the word "tiedotusväline", which literally means media, but in Finnish the word is more limited than in English - I guess the closest translation is "journalistic media".)

Well, if that's your attitude, then personal music players and podcasting are so going to kick your ass. Why would I possibly want to listen to the dumbed down playlists of a two-hit radio station, when I can carry my entire music library with me - with far, far better selection than a single-channel radio could ever have?

Then again, what do I know: I don't listen to radio these days at all. Except for Yle's podcasts and last.fm.

Thursday, 08-Dec-05 10:51
Telepresence paintball game lets you shoot chicks in bikinis over the Internet

It's true. Weird, but true. See for yourself.

(In the mean time [pun intended], record industry attacks people who make specialized browsers for viewing song lyrics.)

Update: And now they're going after the lyrics sites, by planning to throw the maintainers to jail. What do they think this is, Wild West? They'd love to have public hangings, I'm sure...

The Music Publishers' Association (MPA), which represents US sheet music companies, will launch its first campaign against such sites in 2006.

MPA president Lauren Keiser said he wanted site owners to be jailed.

Guitar licks and song scores are widely available on the internet but are "completely illegal", he told the BBC.

Mr Keiser said he did not just want to shut websites and impose fines, saying if authorities can "throw in some jail time I think we'll be a little more effective".

Wednesday, 07-Dec-05 20:14
One eighth of Europeans blog

13% of Europeans write or contribute to a blog regularly, and 12% of Europeans have also listened to a podcast, says Blog Herald.

Wednesday, 07-Dec-05 00:57
JSPWiki 2.3.50 alpha released to the public

I've been banging code like a madman to get this thing done by last Sunday. Well, the Finnish Independence Day gave me just enough time to wrap everything up, and post the following onto the JSPWiki blog:

Yes! The day has arrived! Thousands of virgins didn't sacrifice their lives in vain - the first public release of the next major version of JSPWiki is now available!

Unfortunately, our documentation (still) sucks, so here are the top highlights as to what is new:

  • Thanks to the hard work of Andrew Jaquith, we now have JAAS compatible authentication & authorization system, with pluggable user databases (we ship with XML and JDBC databases) and per-page authentication. Yes, this is what you have been waiting for!
  • A completely overhauled, CSS-based default template, with loads of Javascript goodies from Dirk Fredericx.
  • A new, modularized rendering engine, which is about 10x faster than the previous one
  • Editors are now plugins, so you can switch editors on the fly (well, the plumbing is there, the UI to switch the UI is missing)
  • Loads and loads of small tinkering; new tags, speedups (try the page info on jspwiki.org), etc.

(Of course, we already have our first bug fix release out, too... Within two hours someone already found a bug. Download the nightly (2.3.51) for it. It's not fatal...)

Tuesday, 06-Dec-05 14:27
They said it couldn't be done...

...but the Atom feed format is now an official IETF Standards Track RFC. Congrats to everyone!

What does it mean? It means that now there is an properly specified, standardized way of doing feeds for news, podcasts, blogs, and a whole lot of other content. It does roughly the same things as RSS, but it's a bit more well-rounded for a lot of stuff. Since the same extensions work for them both, I don't feel there's going to be a lot of competition between these two, except for artificial competition created by people who have a dependencies on either format. Atom is relatively easy to generate, and most user's couldn't care less - they just subscribe to whatever feed they might find.

Atom is one of those things that will now just slowly grow in the woodworks, and only geeks will care, while everyone else will label it as "who cares". But it will be an integral part of the future infrastructure of the internet. It's much like say, TCP/IP, which grew quietly, and is now inside almost every sufficiently complex device.

Monday, 05-Dec-05 11:56
France to ban Open Source?

WTF?

Friday November 18th, 2005, French Department of Culture. SNEP and SCPP have told Free Software authors: "You will be required to change your licenses." SACEM add: "You shall stop publishing free software," and warn they are ready "to sue free software authors who will keep on publishing source code" should the "VU/SACEM/BSA/FA Contents Department" bill proposal pass in the Parliament.

What was this thing about liberty, egality and brotherhood? Maybe I misread. Maybe it was something like: "Thou shalt not aid a fellow man without compensation."

Submission, restriction and consumption. Those are the ideals of the Republic these days.

(Via Boing Boing, which details also some other insane copyright stuff that is going on in France these days.)

Update: Reading through different interpretations of this text it seems that the free software banning thing is just incidental: they want to impose mandatory DRM on every software that can handle multimedia (including streaming). Of course, this does automatically exclude any open source program from the game. It also includes P2P software, IRC and instant messaging, too, since they can be used to transmit copyrighted material in a peer-to-peer fashion.

Update2: The French FSF has opened an English section of their site. Apparently the law is being pushed through on a fast track (so that the public has no time to react), and it forbids everyday uses such as: "Creating your own compilations from a CD, extracting your favourite piece of music to listen to it on your computer, transfering it on a MP3 player, lending a CD to a friend, reading a DVD with free software or duplicating it to be able to enjoy it at home and in your country house."

Monday, 05-Dec-05 00:00
The government must approve all your software

Got this off from Bruce Schneier's blog:

The Federal Communications Commission thinks you have the right to use software on your computer only if the FBI approves.

No, really. In an obscure "policy" document released around 9 p.m. ET last Friday, the FCC announced this remarkable decision.

According to the three-page document, to preserve the openness that characterizes today's Internet, "consumers are entitled to run applications and use services of their choice, subject to the needs of law enforcement." Read the last seven words again.

The FCC didn't offer much in the way of clarification. But the clearest reading of the pronouncement is that some unelected bureaucrats at the commission have decreeed that Americans don't have the right to use software such as Skype or PGPfone if it doesn't support mandatory backdoors for wiretapping. (That interpretation was confirmed by an FCC spokesman on Monday, who asked not to be identified by name. Also, the announcement came at the same time as the FCC posted its wiretapping rules for Internet telephony.)

Considering that the Finnish minister of traffic and communications wants to enable massive-scale censorship of the internet... It won't take long before other Finns start talking about more regulation of the internet.

I agree with Kari Haakana: The Internet is not really a medium, and we don't need regulation of it any more than we need regulation of "paper", "radio frequencies" or "discussions in a bar". The internet is like being able to tune in into any discussion anywhere on any bar, street, museum, cafe, or any other public place. There is nothing in our history that has prepared us for this, and a lot of people are now running around a lot, doing lots of handwaving and hoping it will all go away and be controlled. Attempting to filter the internet by force is like trying to tell people to stop talking about certain things whenever they are in a public place. What happens? People move to private homes - on the internet, they move to encrypted, invitation only -channels, which are way more secure than a private home.

Once you start "filtering" the really bad things out of the internet, you have entered a slippery slope, where you start to "filter" other, pettier criminal things too - such as potential copyright infringements. Then you start to filter "wrong opinions". Then you're China. And this is fine as long as you're doing it to yourself. But if ISPs or the government starts regulating what kind of content you can view on the internet - that's bad. Every single limitation to a person's freedom to read, see and hear things must be taken with utmost care and deliberation. In public. With common understanding, that it does not make the thing go away - we just agree it to be a taboo.

Internet filtering will distort our sense of reality, much in the same way as if we moved all hobos outside of the city limits and pretended that they didn't exist. Wouldn't it be much better to go after the source of the problem, and not blame the mouth for cursing, or the paper for blasphemy?

Saturday, 03-Dec-05 01:02
Random teenage weirdosities

This is pretty hardcore kids' music: the Rammstein (or soundalike) version of Schnappi, das kleine Krokodil, found off Wannahaves (who don't provide a proper link, so I'm just linking to the stream.)

Some of you may remember an old Dutch TV series, from 198..2 or 3, where a crossing by seven roads and a guy with green hair played a big role. Well, it turns out that even the obscure TV series like that have their own web site. Listen to the title tune - it is eerily familiar...

Another good oldie were the Norwegian Brødrene Dal who traveled through time and space to hunt for professor Drøvels secrets, and later on, crystal stones. I loved this series, though the clips on the site referenced make me cringe.

It's funny how the net contains so much stuff that can ruin all your old fond memories of things.

(Big thanks to Biena!)

Friday, 02-Dec-05 18:48
The Slide Three Problem

Today I had an interesting meeting, which highlighted something that I call the "Slide Three Problem":

In any given technical presentation to management, you can't get past Slide Three.

The reason is simple: after Slide 1 (title and your name), you get into Slide 2, which usually generates so much freeform discussion, which concentrates on a single problem only, so you get to show a third slide - which probably generates more than enough discussion to last for the entire rest of the time.

You get to choose Slide 1, and Slide 2, but the choice of Slide Three is really up to the people in the room. They'll pick up on something on Slide 2 that they disagree with or want to challenge, and then you'd better have a Good Slide Three among the rest of your slides, which will be the focus of the debate. The others just became... garbage.

It does not really matter, whether the material has been read in advance or not (most often not, or perhaps only cursorily). You still have no power over which one is going to be the Slide Three.

I know that challenging each other is the way of working at large corporations (I know MS is very good at this). There are extremely bright people around, and they grasp ideas extremely rapidly. Sometimes they can pinpoint the problems fast, sometimes they don't. Sometimes you spend an hour explaining matters all over, because of a communication problem - you try and try to understand what the other guy really wants (or needs) to hear, and what his real problem is. Sometimes it can be just a simple misunderstanding; sometimes it can be a political issue; sometimes it can be a financial issue masquerading as a technical issue; sometimes it's a personal issue masquerading as a political issue masquerading as a technical issue; and sometimes it can be a serious technical issue that the person just cannot communicate efficiently. And sometimes you're just too stupid or inexperienced to get what the other guy is saying. It takes a long time to be able to do "efficient challenges"; problems that are not the result of poor preparation or inadequate communication skills.

I know, I do it myself, too, so I am no better than anyone else. Perhaps this is the reason why slides from the management are always so vague - they move at such a high level, and have so little real content, that there really is nothing you even could disagree with? I would really like to know if there's any way to mitigate this without resorting to drawing pretty, but empty pictures, and talking more vaguely than politician who knows he's done bad things.

(Or is it just that I make for a really lousy presenter, who can't keep his audience in check for two slides? Might be. Should I be more assertive? I know I can already be extremely assertive (to the point of a serious fault), but it's hard to judge by yourself.)

Friday, 02-Dec-05 00:36
Statistics

In November, this server (i.e. all my domains) served 35160 unique visitors, who came by 90979 times, and loaded 676568 pages causing 1333493 hits, moving a total of 15.73 GB. Almost all content was served by the open source JSPWiki software, running on (equally open source) Tomcat and Apache. Thank you.

(Via Tuija.)

Thursday, 01-Dec-05 23:56
Here's a thought for you...

Here's a bit of something I stole off David Weinberger after hearing his presentation this morning:

The traditional media often claims that bloggers are self-absorbed, self-obsessed egomaniacs raving about themselves. Well, count all the outbound links - links that point to someone else than the blogger - on typical blogs such as mine, or say, Doc Searls, and compare that to the average number of outbound links on a typical news paper internet page, say Helsingin Sanomat - and then ask which one of them is self-absorbed.

;-)

Tuesday, 29-Nov-05 17:07
N90 blog

Didn't notice this until now... The Nokia N90 blog. Seems to be a bit on the "whoo, our product is so cool" -side, but they actually link to reviews, comments, etc. Which is nice, because it's really about participating in the conversation. When compared to the more generic Nokia S60 blogs, they have at least one advantage: a readable color scheme... (Guys! Fix it! It's horrible! Grey on white is NOT readable, no matter what a stylist told you!)

The N90 blog is not going to get too much comments though - they require registration to comment. I can't be bothered to register to sites anymore - I have about a thousand throwaway registered accounts on different services, which I almost never use anyway. If you're worried about spam, do comment moderation (pre- or post-).

Tuesday, 29-Nov-05 15:27
PSP adds RSS support

The new version of the Sony PSP firmware adds RSS support, suggesting that feeds and RSS are hitting mainstream. The fun thing is - they're not doing it for news, blogs and other kinds of feeds, but... podcasts!

Reminds me - I really need to update my own podcast. I've just been pretty busy with JSPWiki and apartment hunting...

Sunday, 27-Nov-05 20:57
I'm your client, not a terrorist

Nice opinion piece on the BBC by Bill Thompson about the music industry, copy protection, using terrorism laws to attack file sharers, and privacy:

If they cannot come up with a business model which allows them to make profits without criminalising their customers, trampling over our civil liberties or installing malware on our computers then they do not deserve to stay in business, and new ways for artists to reach the public will have to emerge.
Sunday, 27-Nov-05 19:17
Mobile internet experiences

I've been playing around with the enhanced web browser based on WebCore on a Nokia E61, trying it out in real-life situations (such as finding apartments we're considering buying and figuring out routes). Today I got seriously pissed off - not because of the phone or the browser, but because of some web sites.

Some smart web sites, such as Google, can figure out that you are using a mobile browser, and can serve you a "mobile-optimized" -version. Unfortunately, I happen to have a perfectly capable web browser with a large screen with roughy the same aspect ratio as a normal monitor. These web sites just stupidly assume that I have a crappy browser, and they serve me something that looks positively tiny and constipated with no option of using the full version.

Urgh.

(As an aside: I seem to have problems with sound in iTunes breaking in my ~PowerMac. It seems to happen only when Eclipse is running and I use something graphics intensive (like Exposé). It's as if iTunes is not getting enough CPU... Has anyone seen anything like this?)


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"Main" last changed on 10-Aug-2015 21:44:03 EEST by JanneJalkanen.

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