30.4.07

Quickies

We7 is a music sharing website where you can get DRM-free music for free and artists still get payed. The trick? A small add in the beginning of each mp3 file.

See what you can do to try to convince Warner Music to drop DRM.

Article about Security Concerns in Web 2.0.

SellABand messes up with Flash... again

Since yesterday, when visiting an artist profile on SellABand, I get this message:
SellABand screenshot
The problem is that:
  • this didn't happen before
  • According to Adobe the latest Flash version is 9,0,31,0 and that's the one I have installed
  • Any other "Flash 9 only" website I go has no problems with my plugin

What's going on? Anyone having this problem besides me? My guess is that this is has something to do with me being using Linux's version of the plugin...

29.4.07

Takeoff - review

So, today was the day of take off, a portuguese event on innovation on IT. Before I go to sleep, here's a small review:

The organization was good, and the event went well. It was awsome to see that many people, some presentations (like the one from Gonçalo Quadros) were so full that there were nowhere to seat, not even on the stairs. Wow. I hope that take off happens again next year, in an wider space.

The morning presentations were about "Palco Principal" (a Portuguese "version" of PureVolume that aims to be much more than that), Francisco Pereira's investigation on geolocalization (with Ejaki and YouTrack) and finaly Pedro Sousa giving us the talk about "how to start up", with references to the Portuguese scenario. His presentations are getting better everytime :-) A good review on those (in Portuguese) can be found here.

In the afternoon there was a terrible presentation from Microsoft (hey, you should learn about not calling your public liars, specially not doing it several times, and specially when your public is computer-powered people with wireless connection and evidences are online). I can't just stress out how this presentation sucked - you should listen to the podcast at the moment it gets available to check for yourself... The presentation was followed by a presentation about Linux, the same that subv3rsion did on Tecnonov. Another prespective of these two presentations can be found here.

That presentation was followed by Critical's Gonçalo Quadros, and I didn't manage to hear it since I was talking with several people outside, but from the comments I've heard, it was preety good. I'll check it out as soon as the mp3's are available.

After another coffee break, the last set of presentations: Fred from WeBreakStuff did his usual talk (that's getting better by the time) and also gave some highlights on how goPlan is commercialy going, and where is WeBreakStuff heading. Then, Pedro Custódio, one of shift creators, gave an awsome presentation about co-creativity: one I wasn't expecting and that found great. Finaly, Armando Alves did a presentation about the new was of doing publicity on the web. The presentation was good (but man, you should stop using that whatever-broken-thingie you used to create the presentation, it was not good, and the embeded videos were not working properly), and I was thinking it was about something different (and more useful for a personal project of mine)... But good, indeed.

Goodies

Yet, there were some things that I've heard in take off that can't go on un-blogged.

Palco Principal is going to have a "mini-stores system" next week

Palco Principal is also aiming to do something I'm really looking forward: a Portuguese "version" of SellABand!

And this unfortunate quote from WeBreakStuff's Fred:
"Já há muito tempo que não vejo os projectos que as pessoas andam a criar no goplan"

Man, did you ust admited you used to check out what content did people feed in on goplan? Am I the only one that thinks that this is just unbelievable? Have you ever considered that your clients don't want you to spy on their projects? Shame on you. Seriously.

27.4.07

You know you're getting old when...

You decide to do a small python script to do something you could do using find and pax.


import os
for file in os.listdir("."):
if file.startswith("3.x"):
os.rename(file,"x"+file[2:])

(This changes the filename of all files from the current directory from "3.x*" to "x*").

Amazon to create online music store without DRM

According to this article, Amazon is aiming to launch a online music store, competing with the iTunes Music Store, but selling only DRM-free songs.

26.4.07

eefoof turns VuMe


Last year I wrote about a new social web site called eefoof, where I said that it was both an exciting concept but also criticized it a lot in several things that they should have addressed before having the exposure they had. One year later, we can see in eefoof's website:

First off, I just want to say thank you for your continued support of the site. I started eefoof.com with the belief that it should pay to be creative — now we're taking eefoof to the next generation of media sharing. We've listened to your feedback and we have a cooler interface, faster load times and easier uploading. To help us launch our version 2.0, we have a whole new name:

Introducing VuMe.com ("view me"). It's easier to pronounce and easier to remember. VuMe is now a one-stop media posting site for video, audio, photos and blogs.

Here are some of the features you can expect. A user blogging platform, a faster/higher-quality transcoder for video/audio, a sleek AJAX upload interface, and many more additions to the site to make everything accessible and convenient. No matter what kind of media you post - video, audio, images or blogs - you'll get paid for it, based on the traffic it generates. After all, if we make our money from advertising, so should you.

At VuMe.com, we have an ongoing commitment to share our success. As we generate money, so will you. That's just one of the many differences that makes VuMe stand apart. Here's to our mutual success on VuMe.com. See you on the site!


Since I was quite critic on the service, but pointing out what was IMHO wrong about it, they've sent me out an e-mail, from which I'll post some "can be public" quotes:

First off, I just want to say thank you for your continued support of the site. I started eefoof.com with the belief that it should pay to be creative Ñ now we're taking eefoof to the next generation of media sharing. We've listened to your feedback and we have a cooler interface, faster load times and easier uploading. To help us launch our version 2.0, we have a whole new name:

Introducing VuMe.com ("view me"). It's easier to pronounce and easier to remember. VuMe is now a one-stop media posting site for video, audio, photos and blogs.

Here are some of the features you can expect. A user blogging platform, a faster/higher-quality transcoder for video/audio, a sleek AJAX upload interface, and many more additions to the site to make everything accessible and convenient. No matter what kind of media you post - video, audio, images or blogs - you'll get paid for it, based on the traffic it generates. After all, if we make our money from advertising, so should you.

At VuMe.com, we have an ongoing commitment to share our success. As we generate money, so will you. That's just one of the many differences that makes VuMe stand apart. Here's to our mutual success on VuMe.com. See you on the site!

Promising, it seems. While I was writting this, tho, Paula registred and is now facing so many "Oops, we had a little problem" messages that turns VuMe quite unusable... Maybe they still didn't get it right?

For eefoof I wrote:
they should had risk more and not only wait to get a more-beta less-alpha application, but mainly not to make the apliccation in such a raw-state to be widely reviewed (by being digg'ed and /.'ed)


Twice in a row? I don't know - She registred from scratch and is using Safari, I'm using Iceape and migrated my eefoof account to the new VuMe.

OK, I've tracked down that bug:

If you use that checkbox...

Oops! It looks like there is a problem.

* MDB2 Error: no such field in query:
_doQuery: [Error message: Could not execute statement] [Last executed query: UPDATE users SET bio = '', email = 'marcos.marado@sonae.com', comment_notify = '1', location = 'Portugal', website = '' WHERE id = 'MindBoosterNoori'] [Native code: 1054] [Native message: Unknown column 'comment_notify' in 'field list']

Another bug: I've tried to upload a song, and when it ended, I've got a blank page telling:

wget --spider "http://tc1.vume.com/audio/process/38/brixwEX6Yq/" > /dev/null &

WTF? Hmm, seems still in alpha stage to me... Maybe next year?

Free invites to Swaptree

Half a month ago I've reviewed Swaptree, a service still in closed beta.

I have now three invites to give, so... if you want one of those, be quick and ask me one!

European Parliament Criminalises Businesses, Consumers, Innovators

The European Parliament yesterday accepted the IP Criminal Measures directive after its first reading in a vote of 374 to 278, and 17 abstentions. It left several unexamined rights in the scope, and threatens to criminalise consumers and incriminate ISPs. Recommendations from an alliance of libraries, consumers and innovators were not followed, although Parliament was clearly divided on several issues.

A summary of the adopted text follows:
  • Apart from copyright (piracy) and trademarks (counterfeiting), also the unexamined database and design rights are included in the scope, as well as trade names (which do not fall under Community Law). Patents and utility models (petty patents) are excluded;
  • A weak definition of "commercial scale" was adopted. It does not clearly protect consumers and the young generation;
  • Inciting an IPR infringement is criminalised. This introduces liabilities for software and service providers;
  • Abuse of the measures provided by this directive are punishable, "fair use"-like actions such as infringing for the purpose of criticism, research and reporting are removed from the scope, and the neutrality of the investigations should be safeguarded.

"Terrorists illegally copying and selling phone directories will probably not sleep very well tonight. Neither will spare parts makers who, according to Parliament, should risk criminal penalties if they infringe on a part's design right. It is very strange that the rapporteur insisted on having these unexamined database and design rights included in the scope", said Jonas Maebe, FFII analyst.

"Today, 'inciting' is only criminal in some member states, and in exceptional cases such as hate speech. Elevating IPRs to the same level is a scary development. The inciting clause is also reminiscent of the US 'Induce Act', which threatened to make MP3 players such as the iPod illegal", Maebe added.

He continued: "On the positive side, Parliament did decide that abuse of these misguided measures has to be punishable, and that the neutrality of investigations should be safeguarded. It also explicitly mentioned several statutory exceptions to IPRs, where criminal measures should not be applied."

"We are also thankful for the strong support our position received from the Greens/EFA and GUE/NGL groups, as well as from several Members of the EPP, PSE and ALDE groups. A number of Members from the EPP and PSE groups afterwards concurred that the directive did not get the time it deserved for discussion, and that many Members became aware of its dangers too late", Maebe said.

The directive now goes to the Council for its first reading. Several Council members, such as the Dutch and UK governments, have already expressed serious concerns about the scope and nature of this directive. Maebe concluded: "We hope that they will take the joint recommendations of law experts and civil society into account more fully."

Know more about it here.

24.4.07

The Big Brother state

After seeing a dystopian movie yesterday, having an e-mail discussion during the day about how much are into it right now, and the new "Google History", that, as stated, can be evilly used, I remembered of this video that shares my vision on what are some of the dangers of our future.

Takeoff

As I said before, this saturday is takeoff day.

This is a free event that is going to happen in Coimbra, Portugal, and has panels about:

  • From Web to Stage
  • GeoLocalization sharing
  • From cubicle to sofa
  • Ideas and Software
  • Linux - A path to productivity
  • From idea to company
  • Starting-Up
  • CoCreativity
  • Publicity 2.0
I'll be there, and you?

What are you doing?

cinema

Hey, what are you doing? I mean, how do you spend your time? Why don't I see you in the usual places? Lately I've been noticing a lot of trends, like places/spaces that usually had people and now are usually empty. What are you doing? What were you doing yesterday at the end of the afternoon? What were you doing this evening, from dinner time until now? I didn't saw you - I used to see. I used to see the people, see the trends, and now only empty chairs and too much silly noise trying to catch your eyes off the screen. Yesterday I was there, seeing those movies in a row (Indie Lisboa, you know?), and I saw some of you people, but with each movie that passed the room got emptier and emptier. I came back tonight, to see how François Truffaut adapted the excelent Fahrenheit 451, you know, in that coffee in the middle of a crowded FNAC, but when I thought we would be three we were only two. What are you doing? Did you swap movies for popcorn? Did you all swap movies for popcorn?

23.4.07

Defining Web 2.0

In the past couple of years I've read, heard and saw countless attempts to define Web 2.0. Not that it is possible, and the more realistic ones simply state that. But this video... without trying to define Web 2.0 but to tell you what's important in the social web, it captures your attention ending with the key points on why is Web 2.0 what it is... And what takes to be a part of it.

Conference on future of European patent system

On 15 and 16 May, over thirty experts from universities, institutions, government, and industry gather in Brussels to discuss the question "What future for the patent system in Europe?"

Among the speakers are William Kovacic, US Federal Trade Commissioner, Ron Marchant, former Chief Executive of the UK Patent Office, Prof. Reto Hilty of the Max Planck Institute, and South African entrepreneur and industry leader Mark Shuttleworth, CEO of Canonical, Ltd.

Brian Kahin of Washington-based CCIA, one of the organisations behind EUPACO, explains: "while the recent Communication from the Commission, 'Enhancing the patent system in Europe', focuses on the problems of the Community patent and the European Patent Litigation Agreement, it acknowledges the need for a holistic approach to patent policy. EUPACO-2 is a milestone event that addresses four main issues: costs and benefits, quality, diversity, and institutions."

eupaco.org

Plazes sneak preview

Plazes
Plazes is one of those Google Maps mash-ups that started to be really popular (their creation, not their use) an year or so ago, but this one plays with geolocation turning it with the potential to be usefull. I heard about it the first time in last year's XTech, but it was with some disappointement that I saw what can you do with the beta version of it.

From their FAQ:

Plazes adds physical presence to the web. The Plazes website automatically detects your location and connects you to people and places nearby. See people in your area, discover other locations and follow the whereabouts of your friends.

Locations within Plazes are not just global coordinates they carry significance to you and your friends. You can name locations like "Home" or "My Office". Represent your locations by how you relate to them and discover other significant locations.

Relate to other locations by adding pictures, comments, and reviews. Plazes can also be told to remember the locations you visit so you can review your travels.


Now, from the 2nd to the 17th of May (next month) Plazes will have a "sneak preview" for some people (the picture up there is a rip curl on that sneak preview) about the "new Plazes", that will bring some new and hopefully excitant features.

I'm on the previewers list, and have permission to invite some other people into the preview, so... free invites! If you want to have an invite to the new version of Plazes just mail me telling so, and I'll gladly add you to the list. Notice that this is a sneak preview and not a "pre-release" version, so the data you'll add there in the preview phase will not persist and migrate to the final version, once it is released.

20.4.07

XTech 2007

XTech 2007: “The Ubiquitous Web”15-18 May 2007, Paris, France

As you might remember, last year I went to XTech 2006 (in Amsterdam) and it was an awsome experience: hi quality presentations on Web 2.0 and the themes surrounding it. You can read my notes.

This years XTech seems as interesting as last year's: the theme is "The Ubiquitous Web", and is going to be in France. I won't be able to attend it, but I recommend you to do it if you can.

Here's some schedule overview:
For more details see the conference schedule and registration overview.

19.4.07

Text-based virtual worlds podcast

Quick yet awsome news: Alan Schwartz decided to create a podcast about text-based virtual worlds. From what I've already listened it, it is great. And now, sorry, I'm going to stop typing and press "Play" again...

Second Life grid to be Open Sourced

connecting to Second Life

Three months after open sourcing Second Life (the client), Linden Labs are now claiming that they're also going to Open Source their servers.

What the world is asking now is how will Linden Labs keep making money, even if I not only think that this is the only way they had to keep SL a sustainable and profitable product in mid-term, but also that this is their way to fight against possible concurrency (like Entropia).

The announcement was made a couple of days ago, but the most exciting thing in this, IMHO, is that they're going to have open standard API's that will allow to communicate between servers. That way, Second Life is going to become a grid of Virtual Worlds connected by themselves (as Entropia worlds, for instance, can be).

18.4.07

Petition against DRM'd music

One metal magazine out of Sweden has set up a petition against DRM watermarks in music, showing yet another music side of the market - the reviewers.

The entire concept of DRM is inherently broken. It simply doesn't work. The only people that suffer ill-effects from these techniques are those who actually obey the law and aren't committing any wrongful acts. The internet pirates laugh at it and aren't noticably put off by it. DRM is only punishing the people buying and reviewing the records and thus is completely pointless and needs to stop!


Read their full position here, and don't forget to sign.

17.4.07

Predicting the tech-future

Following my yesterday's post about predictions of the tech-future (one predicted a Dystopian world controlled by Linden Labs in 2016, the other an overall controll of the tech-world by Google in 2017), now here's a link to an article talking about an upcoming paper that represents the result of a summit and they will "define/predict" a "metaverse roadmap". Yes, I know, having a bunch of folks in the industry "decide" a roadmap for such a thing is, well... ahem, anyway, the article is quite interesting, and gives us some food for thoughts. They predict that we'll have such a world and metaverse (first self, second self and mixed self) in 10 years from now (2017). They think that the upcoming tech-world is going to have four basic metaverse kinds:
  • dubbed augmented reality
  • lifelogging
  • virtual worlds
  • mirror worlds
For starts, I really don't think that you can apply the world metaverse for any of those items but the third: virtual worlds. The concept of metaverse appeared with the excelent book "Snow Crash", and defines a Virtual World with certain characteristics, but it is a virtual world.

But let's talk about those four items there.

Dubbed augmented reality is a concept where technology enables you to have an allways-persent body-widget that lets you know more about the reality that envolves you. Think about Plazes on steroids, in a allways-present device (like the eye-screening we see on GiTS), that enables you to have any kind of info about where you are, realtime. You can enhance the concept and think about stuff like getting info about people as you look at them and that sort of stuff. Possible? Yes, even probable, but that isn't a Metaverse, it makes me recall more other aspects in Snow Crash...

Like lifelogging. Remember that guys on Snow Crash that did something like wearing a full-body gadget-suit that was used to stream images into the future version of YouTube? Well, consider that lifeblogging with a little of the previous item (correlation between video footage and the people in that footage, and stuff like that).

On virtual worlds, it seems that what's been talked is about a more immersive version of Second Life, as the previous predictions also talked about. On a side note, while the previous prediction talked about Linden Labs (the company behind Second Life) buying google, in this event the general ideas were on whether would Google create GoogleOS and Microsoft would buy Linden Labs, positioning Google as the developing mega-softwarehouse with the future of Operating Systems, and Microsoft as less a technological company and more like a big pocket of money available to investiment, which isn't really surprising if you notice that we have really nothing innovative from Microsoft for years (the Wow from Vista is a big pile of FUD about a defective Operating System with nothing innovative compared to the alternatives). I intend to write soon more about my own visions of the future of Virtual Worlds real soon. And no, I don't believe that Second Life will turn into the "final and perfect VW", as much as I don't think that WOW (not Vista's Wow but World of Warcraft) is to be the ultimate MMORPG. Oh, and the nobody-knows-what-this-is extremely-hiped areae isn't going to have persistence, which is a big no-no for me (even if I usually agree with his vision on VW's.

Last but not least mirror worlds, which makes me remembers this list of Games on Google Maps. Mirror worlds are defined as virtual worlds like ours, with places like ours: a real representation of the "first world" but where people are only virtually, without meshing virtual with real people. I really don't see this happening unless you're trying to do something like Idlewild.

The final article is yet to be released, but I'll surelly be a reader of it.

16.4.07

Ranting about blogger

I've talked about Blogger several times in this blog, and it is almost allways something bad about them. Here's another: why does http://mindboosternoori.blogspot.com/rss.xml give me an Atom feed instead of an RSS one? As a matter of fact, why did nothing on Blogger told me that upgrading from the old version of Blogger to this new one would keep me from having one feed in the RSS format?

(Second Life + Google == world domination)?

I pointed out some time ago this article (in Portuguese, sorry) that does some predictions how Second Life (and their creators Linden Labs) will evolve, in a kind of dystopian way. While I don't see things as dark as they are painted there, I think that people should be alerted to this kinds of possibilities. Two days ago, this article appeared, doing a different kind of prevision: it's basicly a press release from Google in May 2012 (5 years from now) telling that they just bought the Internet. Notice that in the first prevision, Google was bought by Linden Labs in 2010. It would be interesting to make a mash-up of these two previsions with a new touch of realism... Do you also envision that the Internet is going to go to such a dystopian prism? Or do you think that we're heading to something different, like the world of GiTS, or instead Avalon, or instead Snow Crash's metaverse? Or even other?

13.4.07

Warner wants to buy EMI

After EMI last month rejected a $4.1 billion takeover bid from Warner Music Group (WMG), WMG may now pursue a merger with EMI by appealing directly to its shareholders, a move that would undermine EMI's management.


Taken from here.

You know someone f*cked up when...


I think that sometime I'll create a number of posts here called "You know someone f*cked up when...", but, created or not, here's the #1 of the (potential) series...


You know someone f*cked up when...

You go to your mailbox and see:

Received: (qmail 29687 invoked by uid 999); 13 Apr 2007 11:53:06 -0000
Delivered-To: xxx@xxx.xxx
Precedence: bulk
Received: (qmail 29685 invoked from network); 13 Apr 2007 11:53:06 -0000
Received: from xxx.xxx.xxx (HELO xxx.xxx.xxx) ([xxx.xxx.xxx.xxx])
(envelope-sender ) by xxx.xxx.xxx
with SMTP; 13 Apr 2007 11:53:05 -0000
Received-SPF: none (xxx.xxx.xxx: domain at xxx.xxx does not
designate permitted sender hosts)
Received: from xxx.xxx.xxx ([xxx.xxx.xxx.xxx]) by
xxx.xxx.xxx with Microsoft SMTPSVC(xxx.xxx.xxx.xxx);
Fri, 13 Apr 2007 12:53:05 +0100
X-MimeOLE: Produced By Microsoft Exchange Vx.x
Subject: Recall: xxxxxxxxxxxx...
Date: Fri, 13 Apr 2007 12:52:58 +0100
Message-ID:

X-MS-Has-Attach:
X-MS-TNEF-Correlator:
Thread-Topic: xxxxxxxxxxxx...
Thread-Index: xxxxxxxxxx
Priority: Urgent
Expiry-Date: Sun, 15 Apr 2007 12:52:55 +0100
From: xxxxx
To: xxxxxxxxx
Return-Path: xxx@xxxxxx.xxx
X-OriginalArrivalTime: 13 Apr 2007 11:53:05.0647 (UTC)
FILETIME=[4C0E1FF0:01C77DC2]
X-MSTD-Info: clean
X-IPG-AntiSpam: hits=-99.7, required=5.0 (d) - not spam
MIME-Version: 1.0
Content-class: urn:content-classes:recallmessage
Content-Type: text/html; charset="us-ascii"
Content-Transfer-Encoding: quoted-printable
X-Length: 4174
X-UID: 61931
Body:
xxxxxxxxx would like to recall the message, "xxxxxxxx...".

For those wondering, this is what Microsoft calls a recall message. The problem here is that Microsoft doesn't stop thinking that the world belongs to them, so they keep doing stuff that only works with their systems, even for their bad. They never thought of making this "functionality" a standard (and it's so poorly designed that I doubt they would achieve that with this implementation) so...

Recall only works for:

  • Messages that are sent to other UWSP email accounts.
  • The recipient must be using the Outlook client.
  • The recipient's mailbox must be open for the recall to succeed.
  • The message must still be unread and in the recipient's Inbox.


This means that the rest of the world not only recieves the e-mail you didn't want to send, as they recieve a message telling them that you didn't want to send it (turning more attention to it).

Lesson #1: stop using Outlook.

12.4.07

Tell the European Parliament to Fix IPRED2

On April 24th, the European Parliament will vote on IPRED2, the Second Intellectual Property Enforcement Directive. With one stroke, they risk turning thousands of innocent EU citizens and businesses into copycriminals. Only you can stop them.

If IPRED2 passes in its current form, "aiding, abetting, or inciting" copyright infringement on a "commercial scale" in the EU will become a crime.

Penalties for these brand new copycrimes will include permanent bans on doing business, seizure of assets, criminal records, and fines of up to €100,000.

IPRED2's backers say these copycrimes are meant only for professional criminals selling fake merchandise. But Europe already has laws against these fraudsters. With many terms in IPRED2 left unclear or completeley undefined - including "commercial scale" and "incitement" - IPRED2 will expand police authority and make suspects out of legitimate consumers and businesses, slowing innovation and limiting your digital rights.

IPRED2 and Business

The entertainment industry spent millions suing the makers of the first VCRs, MP3 players and digital video recorders, trying to use copyright law to kill those innovative products because they threatened old business models. Fortunately, the industry was unsuccessful.

IPRED2's new crime of "aiding, abetting and inciting" infringement again takes aim at innovators, including open source coders, media-sharing sites like YouTube, and ISPs that refuse to block P2P services.

With the new directive, music labels and Hollywood studios will push for the criminal prosecution of these innovators in Europe, saying their products "incite" piracy - with EU taxpayers covering the costs.

Under IPRED2, these same entertainment companies can work with transnational "joint investigation teams" to advise the authorities on how to investigate and prosecute their rivals!

IPRED2 and Your Digital Freedoms

Criminal law needs to be clear to be fair. While IPRED2 says that only "commercial scale" infringement will be punished, the directive doesn't define "commercial scale" or "incitement." Even IP lawyers can't agree on what are "private" and "personal" uses of copyrighted works. One step over that fuzzy line, however, and anyone could be threatened with punishments intended for professional counterfeiters and organized criminals.

How can ordinary citizens feel safe exercising their rights under copyright and trademark law when serious criminal penalties may be brought against them if they cross the line?

Tell the European Parliament to Fix IPRED2

The excesses of IPRED2 need to be reined back. Sign this petition now!.

Have a cappuccino with me


In Kontrastes 2.0, a Portuguese blog, there's a section intitled "Conversas de Café" (Coffee conversations), where Kontrastes' author interviews some Portuguese bloggers. A couple of months ago he interviewed me, and today the interview was published. If you know how to read Portuguese, feel free to go there and read about my journey and thoughts about the blogosphere...

The "We're not Evil" Music Label

Being as interested in music as you might have noticed by now, I've thought inumerous times about what kind of music label the world needs. Heck, I've even thought several times in creating one... So here's a sum-up of how that music label should be:

01. Rights are exclusively from bands - the copyright should belong to bands, and they should be the ones to decide whatever to do with their songs;

02. CD releases - The less evil labels I know of are exclusively netlabels, or do CD-R releases. But bands deserve the choice of having their art in propper Audio CD's, without having to go with a not so un-evil label;

03. MP3's for free - All tracks released should be also available for free as mp3's (and possibly in other formats, as ogg), DRM-free (of course), so listeners could do the usual try-before-buy legally and without restrictions;

04. When the CD's are sold out, digital sells continue - Maintaining a release is impossible: even the major labels go out of stock for a long period of time (I'm talking about years) before they do a re-release. To a smaller label the problem gets worse, so it is common to see some bands whose first works are already out of market: and the only way for you to get them is by downloading them (legally or not). So, in this scenario, I think that, for those wanting those previous releases and actually buy them, sold-out albums should start being sold in non-evil music stores (like, for instance, Amie Street), at a reasonable price for everyone involved;

05. CD's at reasonable prices - I don't really know (yet) the praticability of this (the cheaper the album is, more is the profit share that must go to the label), but I was aiming here for something like 5€ per album;

06. Label profit only to cover the business itself - We can't have a scenario where all the money goes to the artists, since doing this costs money. So, the idea is to give a share to the label good enough to cover the expenses in the release, running the label itself, and to invest in new releases. I was aiming for nothing less than 50% for the artists, but, as I said in 05, the biggest the artist share, biggest the unit price, so I think that, as a test, 5€ per album and 50% for the artist is a good combination, suitable to enhancements;

07. The "usual" promotion - The label must do the "usual" promotion of the band. Unfortunately I think that the "usual" part is not that usual, and that's bad - for both artists, the label itself and the (potencial) listeners. And easier too. When I mean promotion I'm talking about several things, from making the band have an online presence to making their album available in as many music stores as possible;

08. The "unusual" promotion - AKA "getting better deals for the band". Of course the concept of "better" isn't a well-defined thing, and should be developed with the artists (project by project): for instance, I don't think I would want another record deal other than this one if I have such a label, but with "unusual promotion" I mean stuff like "getting you a bigger label, if that's what you want". Of course that I also mean many other things, such as promoting the band on things like SellABand;

09. Consider musicians as artists and music as art - self explainable, yet most of the times ignored;

10. Items from 02. to 08. negotiable - and the others not. This is perheaps the most important of these items: setting what must be, and talking about what by default would be, unless the artists (the real important piece in the music industry) think otherwise.

What are your thoughts on this? And do you know any label that does something similar to this?

11.4.07

Huddle

From time to time people ask me if I know less-expensive alternatives to goPlan or BaseCamp. Well, this is not a "less-expensive" alternative, since every one of these sollutions are cheaper in a specific scenario than the others (depending on what do you want to do, but here's another alternative, and it's pricing scheme: Huddle. Thumbs up for having SSL for all accounts, including free ones.

Mark Shuttleworth speaks about DRM

Mark Shuttleworth, the guy behind Ubuntu, wrote in his blog a piece about DRM. He starts by talking by the latest news on Hard Disks manufacturing, CSS (not cascading stylesheets but the DVD's CSS), DVD regions, DRM, the evolution of the marketplace, the business models around DRM, and why is DRM funcamentally wrong.

Highly recommended reading.

10.4.07

Swaptree - review

Swaptree beta logo


Remember last year when I talked about Swaptree? I bet you don't. It was way too long from then till now: in July they were in private beta and they still are, yet they are expanding slowly Swaptree's userbase by inviting more people into the private beta, and last week I was a lucky one. Anyway, you probably don't recall what Swaptree is, so let me quote myself:

So, what's this "swaptree" thing? Swaptree is a free service that allows you to swap things you have and don't want with things you want to have. It just works like this:



You manage a list of books, CD's, DVD's or games you want to trade, and a wishlist with stuff you want to have. To simplify it, you can easily do stuff like import your Amazon wishlist to swaptree. Then, the site does it's own magic by itself and you don't have to worry about anything. When there's something you want available to swap with something you have, you'll be asked if you want to do that trade. If you want to, swaptree manages even the packaging issues so you don't have to bother with nothing:



And when you realize, the swap is done! Easy, isn't it? Well... This is the part when you start wondering about the implications of such a system: it can't be just as easy as that... Well, as you can see through the blogosphere, it really is as simple as that.

So, I've tested the application and I was really surprised about how neat it is. Yet, there were two things that gave me some frustration.

The first thing is that you need to give the ISBN or the UPC of the product you have for swapping. You can't just surf, think "oh, and I also have this and don't want it" amd click on it, as you can do for your "want list". When you click on the "I have this" button in an item, you must provide its UPC or ISBN. That makes things not as easy as they could be, but on the other hand it is understandable if you think that they want some warranty that (a) that product exists (as a tradeable product), (b) you have an original product, and (c) you really have it. But the frustration really comes when you pick a big pile of CD's, books and DVD's you don't want anymore and start inserting their ISBN/UPC's, just to recieve as reply an error message saying "Please enter a valid ISBN number (for books) or UPC code (for CDs, DVDs & games) below.". And, damn, some of those items I'm 100% sure have a valid ISBN/UPC code! First I thought that only "issued in USA" items were on their database, but not even that. Sucks, in a big pile of items I only managed to insert (by now) four.

The other thing is that I added four items and no one had them in their wishlists. OK, less then 24 hours later I could already swap one of those by one of these:

66 | 100 | 3 | 0



but none of those things were in my own wishlist. So, is the model not working? Not really, that's not the issue here. This is a "relational value network", where the service value grows with the number of users and marked items (both as "I have" or "I want"). The growth is exponential, since a trade can be done in several layers: Imagine that I have something you want and you don't have nothing I want: that can be fixed if you have something a 3rd person wants in exchange of something I want. Now add up to 5 layers of complexity. Right! :-) The issue is that, for now, and being this a private beta it's no surprise that this is like that, Swaptree is lacking users.

What leads me to yet another issue, this time about something that could greatly enhance this service "social networking". I'm not a fan of social networks, and I really feel like social networks like Hi5 and Orkut are completely useless, but sometimes they are well-explored: take Flickr as an obvious example. In Swaptree you can see items you want, but you can't see "who has this item" and "what do those people also have". See, if I start browsing over SciFi books, for instance, I might want to see who has some books I liked, and, if they do, what other SciFi stuff are they into.

Finaly, in the previous post I asked this: "is this going to work overseas or only on USA?" Now that I'm in, the answer is... I don't know. Now, you can only choose, on the countries list, United States, but there is a Country list, so I guess they'll soon add more countries. At least I hope so, because until Portugal is in their orchard my swaptree can't give good apples.

8.4.07

Microsoft changes tune on selling DRM-free songs

ComputerWorld reports that Microsoft is going to start selling DRM-free songs.

Debian GNU/Linux 4.0 released

Debian GNU/Linux 4.0 released today - congratulations to all Debian Developers and the release team.

Read the press release here.

5.4.07

Apple Jobs ISN'T Anti-DRM

OK, now the discussion can finaly come to an end. I'm connected via GPRS so I don't feel like talking much about this issue with such a connection, but PCWorld is reporting that Steve Jobs thinks DRM in Movies makes sense. Maybe now, with this, can we please stop talk about Jobs as "the saviour against the DRM battle"? Thank you.

nPost - startup jobs

nPost logo

I've been talking with Nathan Kaiser, CEO of nPost, lately. nPost started a few years ago as a portal on entrepreneurship, with regular interviews and events. They lately changed a little their scope, to be a portal on "entrepreneurship and startups", but what made me write about this is their new feature: a startup jobs board. Just to make clear the distinction, I asked Nathan what would make people search or publish jobs on nPost and not in the recent Krop or the mediatic Crunchboard. His reply tells everything:

We differ in that we only accept jobs from startups. Krop.com and CrunchBoard.com accept any jobs from any company; Mary Kay (cosmetics), IBM, MSFT, etc. These are obviously large successful companies, but it would be a stretch to consider them startups.

I firmly believe that startups require unique individuals to help them grow their business. They need people who are dynamic, flexible, driven, and have a bit of the entrepreneurial zeal.

By focusing on this unique sector, we hope to put those types of individuals in touch with career opportunities that are right for them.

I don't think they'll be extremely successfull with this, but I think that this will turn nPost bigger and better, and I guess that that was all they were aiming for. And they did it right - found a nieche that needed to be explored right.

See the board here and also some reviews.

4.4.07

GrooveShark alpha


GrooveShark screenshot
GrooveShark is a web application intended to create a new business model for music, being legal and yet using all the things that make p2p networks a success (including getting music for free). As they say in their blog,
Grooveshark is a web-based application for sharing music within a community of music lovers. We distribute DRM-free MP3s across a mostly p2p network.
Adding to that, it also has a lot of social features, that you're used to see in other services like Last.fm.

In the 26th of March they started their limited alpha release (click there to request an account), and yesterday I got an invite to be part of it. The thing with it is that GooveShark isn't 100% web, and it has a lot of stuff (including registering) that can only be done with their desktop application. At least for now that application has only a Windows and a Mac OS version, so I wasn't able to try it. I tried to run in on top of wine, but I couldn't (something to do with the instalation of the JRE). Well, that at least tells me that the application is written in Java, so I guess it will be easy to do a Linux version, and I surely hope they do it. I wrote them an email asking about it but had no reply until now. Well, I guess that I'll have to wait until they wake up ;-) As soon as I have a reply about it I'll write it here.

Until then... Mashable also got an invite, and they covered GooveShark in their blog. So, if you're interested, take a look at it here.

Your take on EMI && Apple

Two days ago I wrote the second most criticized blog post I wrote here - damn, it's the second time I feel someone's comming to me physicly and beat me. While there are only a few comments there, the flame wars started in Mailing Lists, but, surprisingly (seeing the common reaction we get from the blogosphere), I saw that there are more people thinking like me about the latest DRM news.

So, out of curiosity, I created this poll and I ask you to please answer it... The first options implicitly take that you care about DRM issues. If you do not, then there's a propper option for you.

Thank you.




Edit: For those who are not seeing the poll, please vote here. For those that do not have a flash plugin, vote here.

2.4.07

Apple iTMS to sell DRM-free EMI tracks... as luxury items


Do you know the difference between a CD record with its jewel case and it's digipack version? Easy, the digipack version is more expensive, probably in a limited edition, because you're paying for it as a luxury item. Think on books, and why are hardcover books so much expensive than their trade paperback versions. Well, Apple and EMI are now doing the same with music.

The good news for EMI: they can now sell music for more than $0.99 ($1.29, to be exact), something they were trying to achieve for a long time.

The good news for Apple: they are now selling some music without DRM. Maybe they can use this to postpone the court decisions on those European countries that will sue them if they don't stop selling DRM'd files. They can even argue that they're giving an alternative to users. Until then, they'll keep telling "hey, give us time - we dealt with EMI, maybe in the future we'll do the same deal with others". They'll keep "forgeting" that lot's of indie labels want to ditch DRM files and sell only DRM-free music. They'll keep forgeting that they're still signing new deals about new businesses (video and movies instead of music), and those deals are only in DRM'd formats - no DRM-free files there.

The good news for music lovers: uh... good news? Nah. This is an attempt of turning the "standard" music (DRM-free, where "consumers" have rights such as the "personal copy" and "fair use" ones) into luxury items, making the DRM items the standard.

So, excuse me, but FUCK YOU Apple and EMI. DRM is absurd and non-acceptable. Music lovers won't accept that YOU decide that music should be defaulted as DRM'd, and that RIGHTS that we have now can be turned into "extras" we can, sometimes, purchase.

Your proposition on a new music world keeps unaceptable. You're still not giving a fuck to music artists and lovers - those that give you money - so we'll keep telling you to fuck off until you take US into consideration.


Apple's press release
EMI's press release
Announcement Podcast

EMI might ditch DRM from iTMS songs

A lot as been rumored lately about the press conference that is going to happen today at 1pm in London, with Apple's Steve Jobs and EMI's Eric Nicoli. Most speculation went about EMI starting to sell The Beatles songs on iTMS, but then an article in the Wall Street Journal (subscription required) raised hope: as you can see here, where they quote the original article, saying:
In a major reversal of the music industry's longstanding antipiracy strategy, EMI Group PLC is set to announce Monday that it plans to sell significant amounts of its catalog without anticopying software, according to people familiar with the matter.

The London-based music company is to make its announcement in a press conference that will feature Apple Inc. Chief Executive Steve Jobs. EMI is to sell songs without the software -- known as digital rights management, or DRM -- through Apple's iTunes Store and possibly through other online outlets, too.

The press conference is going to be webcasted live here, for those wanting to hear the news on first-hand.