Thursday, December 29, 2005

MASSIVE, et al.: a glimpse into the mind of a mad-woman.

MASSIVE, et al.: a glimpse into the mind of a mad-woman.: "i finally discovered how to make an animated gif."

I've been really sick lately, and so I went to bed "early" last night. I guess Gwen stayed up to make this awesome animated gif.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Gwen Claws

Originally uploaded by garyowen.
Well, as you can see from my previous post, I'm getting aquanted with flickr. I got a Canon 20D for Christmas and it's time to get my photo sharing all setup.


This is a test post from flickr, a fancy photo sharing thing.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Sony caught in another DRM snafu

Sony caught in another DRM snafu: "At this point, I don't know what I can say about the whole sorry mess that hasn't already been said, so I'll close with this: if Sony is trying to alienate its customers, expose itself to massive legal liability, and get the general public up in arms over DRM, it's doing a fine job. If the music label has some other goal in mind, it needs to change its tactics quickly."

Poor misguided Sony...

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Fogbugz Feature Request

I was going to post this over on the fogbugz support forum, but halfway through I realized it might not be a great feature request and could probably use some debate, so I thought I would post it up here instead.... cause this is where I post my crazy half thought out ideas. Feel free to skip if you're not interested in software development or bug tracking systems.

Here is something I've noticed about software development in general that I would like to address. Hopefully Fogbugz can help.

First some background:

Typically when new bugs are entered into a bug tracking system, a priority is assigned. The priority is typically based on the "severity" of the bug, for example, a bug that causes data loss would be categorized as a 1. A bug that stops the user from accessing a part of the application but has a simple work around might be a 2. etc... etc...

Typically the prioritization of a bug takes into account the characteristics of the bug itself. What has happened in our fogbugz system is that all the open bugz are in one list, "undecided". Some of these are of high priority, we fix all of those issues before each release. There are many other bugs below the top that we don't always have time to fix. Prioritizing within those cases can be difficult. If we increase the granularity of the severities, then it becomes more difficult to enter bugs, if we use a more course listing of severities, then we loss some of the subtelies of prioritization.

Now onto the meat:

Most development shops would say that the source of a bug report matters. A bug coming from your biggest customer usually carries more weight than the bug entered by a small shop.

Here's what's interesting, in most organizations, bugs entered by internal QA get more attention than bugs entered by your customers. This makes sense during the early stages of development, when a customer hasn't seen the new features (fix bugs as close to their introduction as possible) but makes less sense as the product matures. During the beta period, bugs encountered by the customers should typically be given higher priority than the ones entered internally, as they are more likely to reflect issues that the customer base at large will experience.

The feature request basically boils down to an ability to keep track of the source of a fogbugz case. Before migrating to fogbugz we used a home grown bug tracking system that allowed us to associate a particular customer with a case. This way, when the bug was resovled, the original customer could be notified. This might require too much of fogbugz (it would need to interface with, or support buiding a customer list) but I'll admit that is probably the one feature I miss most since upgrading to fogbugz.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Spitzer shakes finger at Sony

Spitzer shakes finger at Sony: "Despite the fact that the XCP rootkit has been in the headlines of late, it's important to note that Sony uses other forms of DRM as well, some almost as nasty. SunComm's MediaMax software also comes as a free bonus on selected Sony discs, and because SunComm knows how much you want their DRM on your computer, they've gone ahead and given you an early Christmas present: MediaMax installs itself on your PC even if you decline the license agreement."

So yeah, I guess that means I should never buy a Sony CD again. Not that I have recently anyway, but now I have to be intentional about it.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Joel on iTunes

Joel on Software: "Econ 101 says that they should raise the price on these ultra-popular movies. As long as the movie is sold out, why not jack up the price and make more money?"

I thought of another reason that the record industries argument doesn't make sense. With movie theatres, there are a limited number of seats. To maximize profit for a particular movie, you will want to get the theatre as full as possible with people willing to pay as high a price as possible.

Unfortunately the iTunes music store doesn't work that way, neither does any of the web actually. So long as Apple is able to cover their bandwidth bills, there is no addition cost if one song sells more than another. Say 100 people buy song A, and 10 people buy song B. Obviously we should charge more for song A right, because only 100 people can buy..... wait a minute, that's not true. There aren't 100 copies of song A, there is the potential for unlimited copies of song A. There is no such thing as scarcity.

This cuts back to the core of the argument I've been making on this blog. The old model seemed to work because the intellectual property tax was tied to something physical. So nobody needed to know about the difference. But when you are talking about something that is almost infinitely cheap to distribute, all of a sudden people intuitively understand that copying a CD from a friend doesn't decrease the amount of music available in the world. They intuitively know that the physical model doesn't quite work anymore. The problem is, we don't have something to replace it....

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Congress gives Fair Use legislation a hearing

Congress gives Fair Use legislation a hearing: "In the meantime, the MPAA and RIAA want to nudge consumers towards their ideal marketplace: where we have to pay for the privilege of viewing or listening to content more than once. Consumers have let the industry know through decreased CD, DVD, and movie ticket sales that they are not finding the industry's value proposition very compelling. But instead of responding to market forces, the movie and music industries are continuing their attempts to legislate the market. If your elected representatives are not willing to support your Fair Use rights, don't support them next election."

hmmm, more arstechnica on DRM.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Sony sued over DRM "rootkit"

Sony sued over DRM "rootkit": "This entire fiasco could be one of the best things to happen on the consumer's technology rights front in recent years. A few well placed law-suits may raised consumer awareness to the oncoming onslaught of unfriendly technological measures supposedly aimed at curbing piracy, and may even prompt a re-evaluation of tactics similar to those used by Sony."

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Sony: what you don't know can't hurt you

Sony: what you don't know can't hurt you: "Thomas Hesse, President of Sony BMG's global digital business division, showed up on NPR to try and sweep the entire thing under the rug.

'Most people, I think, don't even know what a rootkit is, so why should they care about it,' he asked? 'The software is designed to protect our CDs from unauthorized copying, ripping.'"

Most people don't know what mesothelioma is either. Doesn't mean they want to get it.

Telegraph | News | Bush will veto anti-torture law after Senate revolt

Telegraph | News | Bush will veto anti-torture law after Senate revolt: "The Bush administration pledged yesterday to veto legislation banning the torture of prisoners by US troops after an overwhelming and almost unprecedented revolt by loyalist congressmen."

hmmm. I thought torture = bad.

Kansas education board rewrites science

Via Kevin Schofield
Kansas education board downplays evolution - Science - "In addition, the board rewrote the definition of science, so that it is no longer limited to the search for natural explanations of phenomena."

Who knew the Kansas Board of Education had the power to do that....

Friday, November 04, 2005

Dare Obasanjo aka Carnage4Life - Google Desktop is Back with a Vengeance

Dare Obasanjo aka Carnage4Life - Google Desktop is Back with a Vengeance: "The highlighted requests are requests to URLs of Atom & RSS feeds that were in my browser cache by Google Desktop. I did not configure the application to fetch these feeds. So not only does Google Desktop flood websites with feed requests in a manner bordering on the behavior of a malicious application, it also does this automatically without the end user explicitly subscribing to the feed."

Dare Obasanjo (who knows a thing or two about how to build rss aggregators) criticizes google desktop's behavior.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Why is iTunes better than Windows Media Player

Which is easier, hitting the space bar, or hitting CTRL+P. What's harder, hitting F10 or Ctrl+Up.

It's the little things sometimes. If I alt tab over to iTunes it's really easy for me to pause the current song by hitting the space bar, unlike windows media player which requires Ctrl+P. Volume control is also easier in iTunes because I can use Ctrl+Up or Down to change the volume.

I'm sure I could come up with a bunch more. Maybe I should point WiMP at my itunes directory and just try switching for a little while... course then I would have to give up podcasts... I wonder how good WiMP would be at syncing up to my ipod nano...

Thursday, October 27, 2005

IT energy crisis reaching critical mass

First read this:
Intel announces major 2006/2007 roadmap changes: "At any rate, if this widely linked shootout is to be believed then Opteron does indeed wallop the new Xeons in terms of raw performance, and if one factors in performance/watt then it's absolute carnage."

The read this:
IT energy crisis reaching critical mass: "The old ways of throwing equipment at IT problems -- more air conditioning units, servers, UPS units -- is going to have to be revisited. And IT pros are going to be asked to find more efficient ways to increase reliability and computing capacity."

Interesting eh? Not exactly a good time for Intel's plans to fall apart. It would really be fascinating to see some analysis about Intel's performance over the last couple of years.

Torres Talking: Friendster is STILL creepy

Torres Talking: Friendster is STILL creepy: "Friendster apparently thought it was a good idea to send mail to all of the 'friends' I invited a year and half ago who decided to delete my invitation instead of joining. Of course, Friendster did this without my 'OK'."

I've never really liked friendster. Course it doesn't really make me feel any better to have that dislike validated.

Judge rebukes Microsoft over WMP bundling

Judge rebukes Microsoft over WMP bundling: "Last week, it emerged that Microsoft had submitted a draft marketing agreement to digital music player manufacturers that would have prohibited them from bundling any software other than Windows Music Player with their devices in exchange for installation CDs for Windows Media Player. One of the manufacturers cried foul, and as a result, Microsoft was given a harsh rebuke by Judge Kollar-Kotelly. "


CC in Review: Lawrence Lessig on CC & Fair Use | Creative Commons

CC in Review: Lawrence Lessig on CC & Fair Use | Creative Commons: "As life moves online, 'free uses' shrink. Because every act on a digital network produces a copy, and 'copies' trigger copyright law, there are vastly fewer 'free uses' in digital space than in analog space."

A good primer in why creative commons is good and why copyright law is getting wacky in the new digital age.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

ArsTechnica: Anti-game activist Jack Thompson under investigation

Anti-game activist Jack Thompson under investigation: "Jack then reneged on his promise of a US$10,000 donation to the charity of the modder's choice, saying that his original bounty had been 'satire', and therefore not a legitimate promise."

I actually watched this one unfold on penny arcade. You can't make this stuff up. :-)

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Apple steps up iPod 'tax' push | CNET

Apple steps up iPod 'tax' push | CNET "Apple Computer is stepping up its push to get iPod accessory makers to pay for the right to connect to the popular music player."

Some would say that's as crazy as charging Sony a tax on the walkman because it wouldn't exist without music.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Firefly (aka best show ever)

Brian and I are watching firefly tonight. We saw the movie on opening day, I had seen the series first, Brian hadn't so we're catching him up.

I think this was the best show ever.

If you like any kind of sci-fi at all you should watch this.

Here is a good review of the movie Serenity (firefly movie) by Orson Scott.

Microsoft and Real Networks

Joel asked a question in my comments here.

It's tough to say what will happen now that Real Networks and Microsoft have teamed up. What usually happens when two mediocre players get together to try and make something great...

My prediction is that nothing interesting will happen. Microsoft doesn't have the whole platform, and neither does Real Networks. I don't think real has been a significant player in the online space for many years. (At least they haven't been in my conciousness for a long time)

Apple is definitely focused on the music platform. It will take something radical to blast Apple out of it's position as market leader. I think Apple has positioned the itunes music store very well. The store is designed to support the iPod. An iPod is something tangible, sure music has higher profit margins because the distribution costs are next to nothing.

I would predict that in order to replace the iTunes conglomerate there would need to be something that really addresses the rub of online music distribution.

I wont buy songs through the itunes music store because I am more restricted in how I can use it. Since Apple's DRM limits what I can do with the music, it is less valuable to me. I recently bought a CD at Sonic Boom that cost 17 bucks. I could've gotten the same music from iTunes for about 12 bucks. The extra five dollars were worth it to me though because I could put that music on both Gwen and my laptops, as well as have a hard copy in case those digital files are lost.

What does that mean for iTMS? How many people are not buying music because of that? Hard to say really. Why wont I encode my music as AAC or WMA? That one is not so hard. MP3 is a de-facto standard. Every portable music player supports it. Choosing another media format does nothing but benefit the owner of that format. By choosing WMA, I give Microsoft more business. By choosing AAC, I give Apple more business (the business I'm talking about is codec licensing, if I have a ton of WMA I'm going to demand that my audio player plays WMA, which costs the hardware manufacturer to license).

Ok so what does all this mean... I guess it means it's friday and I'm rambling. But it also means that your music player doesn't matter, your audio format does. Choose the platform with the widest support to encode your music in, and then pick the player that fits your model of how you work with music. I choose itunes to play my music because I have an iPod and an Airport Express. If another equally awesome or better set of peripherals come out for Windows Media Player, I can simply pick up my library and move it over to that player.

Now is the time where I would normally proof-read my post... but instead I'm going to not.

Friday, September 30, 2005

PC Pro: News: Warner chief threatens to scalp iTunes

Via Slashdot: PC Pro: News: Warner chief threatens to scalp iTunes: "A Warner Music executive has threatened to cut off Apple if Steve Jobs continues to refuse to give ground on iTunes Music Store pricing."

Personally I couldn't care less if the record labels pull out as I've never bought anything from the iTunes music store, and I don't plan on ever doing so as long as they ship their music DRM encumbered. But this really is crazy. Apple is the only online music store that has been successful at getting people to adopt DRMed music.

Nash's comments echoes those made last week by Warner CEO Edgar Bronfman, who called for Apple to adopt variable pricing and share out revenues from iPod sales. (emphasis mine)

Do the labels honestly think they own all the music in the world. Did they make the same demand of Sony when the walkman became popuplar... because after all, without tapes to put in those walkmen they would've been useless.

I didn't realize just how strong the sense of entitlement is at the record labels until now.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Software ( + Hardware) can do anything

Kevin Schofield's Weblog: "People here really believe that software can do anything -- it's fundamentally built into the culture, all the way up to Bill."

Some support for my "Microsoft expects somebody else to build their iPod for them" theory. Gotta come up with a better name for that. Maybe it's the "Hardware doesn't matter" way of thinking.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Dare Obasanjo aka Carnage4Life - Open Letter to Google: Please Fix the RSS Reader in Google Desktop

Dare Obasanjo aka Carnage4Life - Open Letter to Google: Please Fix the RSS Reader in Google Desktop: "However it is clear that not only is Google Desktop fetching my RSS feed every 5 minutes it is also not using HTTP Conditional GET requests. WTF?"

That is horrible horrible behavior for an aggregator. Who made that decision on the google team? Hopefully it's just a few misconfigured users out there and not the default behavior of google desktop. Even if it is a misconfiguration (the 5 minute thing) why aren't they doing conditional gets? I can't come up with a plausible reason you would ever to do this?

Why can't Microsoft make it's own iPod Nano

Scobleizer: Microsoft Geek Blogger: "Byron thinks that Microsoft should buy all of its employees an iPod Nano and then have them report back a week later on why they can't make a product like that. "

Why can't Microsoft make a product like that? I was having a conversation with a co-worker the other day about how Apple is able to provide such a slick user experience and how Microsoft keeps struggling to provide the same experience.

I think it comes down to a limitation built into Microsoft's vision. Microsoft sees itself as a software company. Sure they dabble in hardware (mice and keyboards... boring) but they fundamentally see themself as a software company and that software is what makes computers useful. (paraphrasing from Bill Gates' channel 9 interview)

Apple doesn't see itself as only a software provider. Apple used to see itself as the provider for the digital hub, but they've gone beyond. Not only did they create a digital hub, they went ahead and developed the components that connect to the hub.

Microsoft should wake up and realize that nobody is making anything worth connecting to their hub (Windows Media Player and Windows Media Center Edition). If they want their hub to be the hub of choice for most users then they need to embrace the reality that nobody out there is going to make an iPod for them.

It could be this artificial focus on software software software that prevents Microsoft from realizing it's vision of becoming a digital hub....

or maybe they could just start supporting the iPod in Windows Media Player...

CoolTechZone::Column: Apple’s Strategy Behind ROKR

CoolTechZone::Column: Apple’s Strategy Behind ROKR: "He doesn’t want a cell phone that doubles as an MP3 player to become too popular as that would cut straight into Apple’s bread and butter product, the iPod."

hmm, if this is true, then Apple's demise may be much quicker in coming than I originally thought. (Just so everyone knows, I don't actually want Apple to die. I would actually prefer that they turn into an even better company).

If Apple is unwilling to cut it's legs out from under itself to branch into a market it knows will be successful (a marriage between the phone and the ipod) then it will lose it's ability to remain an innovative, visionary company.

Here is something Steve doesn't get.

"You're not the first, nor the last person to come up with <insert idea here>."

Steve's talk about how lucky we are as an industry because he dropped out of college and took a caligraphy class illustrates this gap in Steve's vision. Of course somebody else would've come up with the idea to put publishing quality fonts and graphics on the PC. Others would've seen the potential and acted on it. Apple was simply the first out of the gate.

Apple has a significant leg up in this whole portable music player war, but they need to face the fact that it is a war. The other side has been lobbing softballs at them, but some up and coming company could come out with a killer implementation of a Phone/Music player combo that simply kills any other combo.

Now this is all based on some random website's conjecture about Apple's motives. Maybe their A-team was working on the ipod nano and the B-team was working on the ROKR... or maybe they left the specification of the product up to motorola and did nothing more than license their look and feel and access to ITMS.

Friday, September 09, 2005

iTunes feature request

You know what would be handy? To be able to separate the contents of the iTunes library from their reviews. Here the use case.

My wife and I share a library of music. We both want all the music available to use on our home computer, but our preferences are different so we need to be able to set our own ratings for songs.

Both OSX and XP support a type of user switching so there no reason it isn't theoretically doable right?

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Apple unveils the iPhone, iPod nano

Apple unveils the iPhone, iPod nano: "...Windows users can synchronize calendars and contacts from their iPods to Outlook or Outlook Express."

That sounds like an awesome addition to me. I don't have a USB sync cable for my ipod yet (the last generation didn't ship with them) but now I'm very inclined to go pick one up and complete my itunes migration from my powerbook to my dell. I've been craving a better portable calendar solution than an ipaq. A smartphone would probably be my first choice, but an iPod could be another good option.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Scripting News: 8/19/2005: Steve Jobs

Scripting News: 8/19/2005: "At lunch today with Scoble and Dean Hachamovitch we spotted Steve Jobs leaving the restaurant. We all went out and shook his hand. Don't think he knew who I was. He was giving Dean shit about how they were copying all their features in IE7."

It's a good thing that Steve Jobs went to Tabbed Browsing class after he dropped out of college, otherwise the entire industry never would've thought of tabs because Steve Jobs never would've thought of it. </sarcasm>

update: Scoble recounts the encounter here.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Dare Obasanjo aka Carnage4Life - Some Thoughts on MSN Filter

Dare Obasanjo aka Carnage4Life - Some Thoughts on MSN Filter: "think it is pretty cool that MSN is allowing folks experiment with ventures like MSN Filter. However my personal opinion is that in its current incarnation it's a lame knock off of the stuff coming out of folks like Nick Denton and Jason Calacanis and it doesn't have a chance of making much [if any] money for us since they are eschewing targetted ads. "

I just finished Built To Last last week. This reminds me of some discussion they had about 3m. The company pushes evolution in their products, setting up incentives for departments to take risks and branch out into new areas and products. That strategy requires a good framework for deciding what projects should be encouraged and which should be cut. It sounds to me like MSN Filter is a project that should've been or should be cut rather than invested in. I wonder what mechanisms exist in Microsoft to encourage new experimentation with products, and how they determine whether to pursue them or not.

A company like Microsoft should be encouraging new product growth, but they also need healthy mechanisms to determine which projects to pursue and which to leave alone.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Instructions in user owned fields, or, your message is ready sir

After getting every emails from people saying "The message is ready to be sent with the following file or link attachments:" I got to wondering. Why do I get so many emails like this. The message is not ready to be sent, it's already been received by me. Am I supposed to send it somewhere else now? I had a similar connection when I saw a blog post by Yaron on the aardvark blog titled [Headline Goes Here]. I thought "am I supposed to enter the headline for this topic for him?".

I've seen enough of these types of messages to realize fairly quickly that the message wasn't intended for me, rather it was intended for the creator of the document. So what is that message doing in the body of the content? My thoughts: If you're going to put a message to the user in your software (which they probably wont read anyway) don't put it in the area that they own. I'm ok with combo boxes that say "needs value", or "select blah here" because at least those values aren't usually submitted if the user forgets to select them. They typically cause a warning "you forget to select blah there".

Here's another thing... obviously "[t]he message is ready to be sent...". I'm looking at it aren't I. Actually no, it's not ready to send, there some stupid generic message in the body of my email.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Apple may still have legs, but who's legs are they?

David RD Gratton: Apple may still have legs: "I believe Malcolm Gladwell would say that Powerbook, in the hands of a business connector like Darcy, is going to be highly infectious to other business people."

I think apple has a lot of potential. I wouldn't invest in apple however because of one huge problem. As I predicted before, I still think, when Steve Jobs dies (or retires) Apple will die with him. The company will not survive the transition to the next CEO.

Now I could be surprised. Steve may be spending his time building an organization that aligns with the values that made Apple successful in the first place. Or, he may just be spending all his time criticising the powerbook and ipod design teams efforts until they produce the devices he envisions.

Here's the thing I've observed about Steve Jobs. His ego requires constant inflation, otherwise it goes flat. My hypothesis is that Steve is incapable of building an organization that would survive after he left because that would be a huge blow to his ego. Now things may have changed since Steve's brush with mortality. Hopefully he's begun to realize that Apple computers is more important than him, and it should be strengthened to withstand his eventual retirement. Here's the rub though, without that information, I wouldn't invest in Apple computers on any kind of long time line. Without changing how the company works, Apple, as a successful company, will end sometime in the next 20 years.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Wired News: New Diet Trick: Induce Bad Memory

Wired News: New Diet Trick: Induce Bad Memory: "'A few things would need to be ironed out before you could take this out to the real world. You would have to show that the effects are longer-lasting than just an hour,' Loftus said."

Like you would need to figure out how to most effectively strap the subject into a chair, exactly which images to show on the projector, and don't forget to put drops in their eyes to keep them from drying out... that'll cure that ultra-violence... I mean food craving.

I couldn't help but think of clockwork orange when reading this article.

Sony's dirty little secrets

Sony's dirty little secrets: "He doesn't exist. Colombia Pictures made him up."

A good little summary by Ars of Sony's recent ethical "issues".

Monday, August 01, 2005

Microsoft and DRM

Top Arguments To Microsoft and DRM (Really Just To DRM): "Many of you are trying to place Microsoft as the “DRM bad guy” when all they are trying to do is allow you to actually use the media you purchase! If you want to lead the reform on DRM, more power to you! That’s where the fight needs to be, at the root. Microsoft is not the root here;"

If Microsoft decided to become an organization championing against DRM and in favor of fair use, then they could make the industry swing back in an innovative direction. The problem here is that nobody with creative ideas to apply to content "protection" appear to have the resources to make this kind of thing happen.

Microsoft is in a good position because they own "the VCR" so to speak. If Windows media center favored user experience over content protection, we (Microsoft and I, the consumer) could start exploring some new and innovative ways to add value to content. It seems unlikely though, my guess is that Microsoft has too much vested interest in their current relationships with content owners. The types of ideas I would like to see explored are probably too disruptive to the industry.

Why can't I just pay 100 bucks a month to download any TV show I want without commercials? Or, how much would I have to pay per month to download any TV show I wanted without commercials?

The definition of insanity.. The Music Industry - Blog Maverick - _

The definition of insanity.. The Music Industry - Blog Maverick - _: "There is an old saying that the definition of insanity is, “Doing the same thing over and over again expecting the outcome to change”

I think of this saying everytime I hear about music industry efforts to impact piracy."

I like it when Mark takes on the music industry.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

scooblog by josh ledgard : Two Ideas to Cut off Duplicate Questions in Online Forums

scooblog by josh ledgard : Two Ideas to Cut off Duplicate Questions in Online Forums: "So what we have to do is bring back search results dynamically on the new post UI page. Here is the work flow I’m imagining and some pictures to illustrate it."

This is a really cool workflow idea from Josh Ledgard. I wouldn't mind seeing some of the forum open source projects or even commercial products picking up on this idea and incorporating it into their products.

I also like how focused Josh is on solving the user's work flow problems. I think that as software people, this is something we need to do more often than we do. Look all the way back to the root of a problem and try to solve it there. Often times we get more focused on the particulars of our solution rather than focusing on the root cause.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

BBC NEWS | Technology | Downloading 'myths' challenged

BBC NEWS | Technology | Downloading 'myths' challenged: "Rather than taking legal action against downloaders, the music industry needs to entice them to use legal alternatives, the report said."

BBC is covering the same study. Good stuff.

I would enjoy the challenge of trying to figure out how people want music. I've proposed one solution on this blog, but that is primarily based on my desired interaction with music. How do other people want to have music delivered to them? What type of payment system works best for them?

Arstechnica: P2P users among music industry's best customers

P2P users among music industry's best customers: "A new study published today claims that users who share and download music files online also buy four and a half times more music online than your average music listener"

Monday, July 25, 2005

What am I missing Macrovision? - Blog Maverick - Revisited

What am I missing Macrovision? - Blog Maverick - _: "So if Macrovision can’t stop the bad guys, just what exactly is their purpose in life?"

heh.... I was rereading this post by Mark because it's so darn good. To answer his question:

To make movie executives feel safe and cozy in their warm beds.

Yeah I'm being a little condescending, but really. That's why those movie studios pay big bucks to macrovision. To make themselves feel safer because "we have technology that make sit virtually impossible to copy your movies. Isn't that great, we have nothing to fear from pirates."

A false sense of security is much much worse than feeling insecure. I challenge movie studios to stop paying Macrovision and spend their money on researching new and innovative ways to capitalize on the content they own. Like by making and selling software that allows you to easily copy any DVD onto a PSP, or Windows Media Center PC. Make it a smooth and streamlined experience. Better yet, sign up people for a subscription service (a-la netflix) that will allow them to download any movie in the catalog for a small monthly fee.

That false sense of a security just prevents them from really tackling the challenge that the internet has given them.

Review: Soul Kitchen Studios

I wanted to relate our experience with Soul Kitchen Studios so that anyone out there considering using Mark for a project could be well informed.

Here's the thesis of the review: "Mark is awesome."

Mark took the rough mix that we did in our project studio and turned it into something that is a joy to listen to. He took our feedback in stride and accomodated all our requests, whether they were as specific as "The vocals need to be like a half DB louder here", or as vague as "I don't know, the beat just needs to be more... 'there'". Not only that, but he was able to work within our budget. To Mark the most important thing is making the client happy. And he definitely made us happy with this project.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005 - Is being generous good for business? - Is being generous good for business?: "'it's better to be an employee or a customer than a shareholder.'"

Sounds like costco's priorities go like this.

1) Customer
2) Employee
3) Shareholder


"On Wall Street, they're in the business of making money between now and next Thursday," he said. "I don't say that with any bitterness, but we can't take that view. We want to build a company that will still be here 50 and 60 years from now."

Even Cooler.

Maybe I should go get me a costco card.

David RD Gratton: Little Richard to The Mars Volta: It's all new music

David RD Gratton: Little Richard to The Mars Volta: It's all new music: "Finding obscure or unique music will become a valuable service. And we're talking obscure in 2020 which could mean Ram Jam, Boston, The Statler Brothers, Interpol, Blondie or Neil Young. "

Neil Gaiman

Neil Gaiman: "'Where do you get your Ideas?'
Essay by Neil Gaiman - 1997"

An interesting essay. It makes me think about how in software, as in writing, the execution is the most important thing. I think that's what Neil is really getting at here. Ideas are fun and anybody can have them. What everybody doesn't have is the ability to turn that idea into a compelling story.

How about this: Everybody has an idea for the next big online service, or piece of software. The difference is in how well they execute the idea.

If that's really true, then it makes software patents less important. It also means that software (like writing) is going to be difficult for the duration of a product, not just for it's inception. I think most product managers would agree that the 1.0 release is just the beginning. The first hard part. A products success will depend just as much, if not more, on it's second release as it does on the first. The first release might get people interested, but the second release shows them whether you are up to the task of making this software viable for the long haul.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Search Engines

Scoble posted on MSN's recent improvements. Made me realize that I have both google and msn keyword links in firefox. Using that method I can enter either "g " or "m " in my firefox address bar to do either a google or an msn search. Firefox replaces the G with a link to google and the M with a link to msn search, meaning that there is no effort necessary on my part to switch search engines than to use my right pointer instead of my left pointer... and I'm right handed so you would think that MSN would have the edge.

All that is to say that my vendor lock in to search engine is very low. One letter difference is all it takes for me to switch. That's very good for me. The minute MSN is better than google (it could happen I suppose) I could even remap my G key to search MSN, meaning I wouldn't even have to learn to hit a different letter. What if all of my services were this way? What if I could take all my apps and run them on my powerbook when 10.4 came out because the OS was much better suited to my productivity.

I think Sun is pushing that direction. They are big on open standards vs. open source. I think Sun wants to be the provider. They want to out executed on providing people with the platform, or sell compute cycles like electricity is sold today.

Eh, I thought I was going somewhere interesting with this... maybe I'm not.

Auto Trackback

A conversation I had with Josh Ledgard is echoed by scoble.

I want auto-trackback. It would be a great way to level the blog-*sigh*-osphere even more. That could be a really good service for technorati or bloglines to offer. A link on every blog post would be a great way to push traffic onto their sites.

OpinionJournal - Windfall for Washington

OpinionJournal - Featured Article: "And if most of the extra tax income is coming from capital gains and dividend payments, that would have to mean that the rich in America are paying more taxes, not less, as a result of the 2003 tax cut."

Interesting analysis of the 2003 tax cuts. Is this one of those "drop the price and sell more units" but for taxes?

Friday, July 15, 2005

Space/Time shifting Content = Web Services

This analogy probably wont help anybody in the music industry to understand but I thought it was worth pointing out.

When I buy a DVD and I can copy it onto my PSP, the DVD becomes more valuable to me. I've bought 2 different tv series on DVD only because I could space shift it onto my DVD and take it to the gym. That's money that the studios wouldn't have gotten if there was no way for me to space shift the content. The studios see this as an opportunity for them to extend their offering and increase the price. To keep this opporunity available to themselves they are fighting tooth and nail to keep control of their data.

Google maps recently published their API. There have been some very interesting combinations of listing services like craigs list being combined with Google maps to show customized maps of very interesting content. Google could've seen this as an opporunity to extend their offering and have fought tooth and nail to control what is done with their content. They instead decided to allow the end users to embrace and extend their service.

Space and Time shifting content is the same type of thing. It's users like me, taking something cool (a tv show) and using it in a way the originator didn't envision.

The Clicker: Microsoft’s OPM for the masses - Engadget -

The Clicker: Microsoft’s OPM for the masses - Engadget - "Microsoft is quick to point out that many content providers have agreed to not totally block all analog displays. Instead they have agreed to compromise and allow the constricted (down-sampled) versions to pass through. Still — this is a far cry from enjoying the unmolested goodness of hi-def content."

*sigh* What is this really going to do? Who has the business case for all this technology? Where are the numbers to back up this massive investment in R&D?

I think we should return to the core. Content distribution as it exists today is an implementation detail. The core is creative people doing creative works. You can't embrace a new model of content distribution (the internet) without giving up the old model. I understand the desire to lower your distribution costs to near zero by embracing the new model, but doens't that mean that maybe your prices should go down as well? Apple can make a profit off of the iTMS and they even have to pay a large percentage of their take to the copyright holders. Last I recall Apple only made 37 or so cents per song, and they can still keep the thing operating. How much of the 62 cents actually goes to the artists. Why can't we just cut out the middle man. If the record labels are not doing distribution (now internet) and promotion (blogs, word of mouth, itms) just what are they doing?

SCO in 2002: "there's no infringing code"

SCO in 2002: "there's no infringing code": "Now it is apparent that SCO and its pugnacious CEO McBride have known that there is no infringing code since the summer of 2002."

Clinton steps into the GTA: SA debacle

Clinton steps into the GTA: SA debacle: "If Rockstar left that content in the game, however hidden away, then they should be apologizing, and not blaming the mod community. Maybe it was an accident, or maybe it's supposed to be quite the Easter egg. It doesn't matter. It's putting the ratings process in jeopardy, and while some of you might prefer Washington step into this matter, I don't."

Good commentary on the issue at Ars. I've got about 10 more seconds of patience for this particular story though. I hope it stops escalating soon.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Blogger = Teh Better

It seems that whatever problems had been nagging blogger over the last few months have finally been cleared up. It's been a long time since I've had significant delays when trying to post. Kudos to the blogger team.

Microsoft and Claria

Sounds like the whole Microsoft and Claria thing was blown out of proportion. That's good. I'm behind the ball on posting an update on this because things have been very busy at "the work." Code code code. I got to write some really challenging stuff on monday. I wont go into the details any further until I get some clarification on the blogging policy here at work, but on a personal level it was nice to stretch my brain out a little bit. Hopefully it wont shrink back down to normal size. :-)

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Microsoft Downgrades Claria Adware Detections

Via Slashdot: Microsoft Downgrades Claria Adware Detections: "Microsoft's Windows AntiSpyware application is no longer flagging adware products from Claria Corp. as a threat to PC users."

I'd love to hear from somebody at MS as to why I shouldn't be worried about this. To me it seems out of character for Microsoft.

Crossroads Dispatches: Dot's Flowers: Lack of Ethics? How About Lack of Imagination?

Crossroads Dispatches: Dot's Flowers: Lack of Ethics? How About Lack of Imagination?: "I'm too jaded to be appalled by lack of ethics, but I am amazed by the lack of imagination. Paying bloggers $5 for a blog mention (assuming transparency)? Original, huh?"

Evelyn is cool. Sometimes her writing is a little hard to read, but I like the point she's highlighting here.

Some people don't get it. Blogs are compelling because they cut through the marketing BS. They are "the people's voice". That's what makes them compelling. Some marketing folks see them as nothing more than another place where they can yell their message. They want to treat them like radio, tv, or print advertising.

Here are my thoughts about "using" blogs to promote a product.

Step 1: Engage in what your customers are already doing.
Step 2: Make something completely awesome. Using what your learned by engaging your customers.
Step 3: Support the hell out of your customers.
Step 4: Don't try to control the message, learn from the one that takes shape.
Step 5: Act on the message that takes shape.
Step 6: Profit?

I used to think not everything could be marketed through blogs. But Joel seems to be marketing fogbugz through his blog pretty well. I suppose if you are marketing into an industry that doesn't blog you might find it harder.

Only slightly related question:
How transparent is too transparent?

As a customer, how would you like to hear "We couldn't fix your bug because the dev team went out last night and they're all hung over, we'll do it tomorrow."? Or "We want to fix your bug but this other customer pays us more so we have to do their bugs first"?

I can't imagine there's a company out there willing to be that transparent, but is there anything wrong with it?

Coolest blog of all

I forgot to mention the coolest blog of all. The one that belongs to my wife Gwen.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Some cool blogs

Usually I link to other people when they have something I want to comment on. I thought I'd devote a post to just listing a few blogs that I'm finding to be good reads .

Gretchen Ledgard's Jobs Blog: A good look at recruiting at Microsoft. She usually has something interesting to say about the world of recruiting talent.

Josh Ledgard: Josh is doing some interesting things to get the community at large involved. I especially liked his reader rewards program.

Mark Cuban: I don't always agree with Mark Cuban (and I don't really care about basketball), but he gets points for being pretty pointed in his criticisms of the RIAA and the like.

Joel Spolsky: A must read for anybody in the software industry.

Project Aardvark: It's been fun to watch the interns at Fog Creek build some new software. I definitely want to see how this product turns out. The fact that Joel can set these interns up to succeed speaks volumes about his skills as the head of a software company. I wonder if Joel is trying to build a visionary company or if he just happens to be a visionary leader. Will Fogcreek software produce more Joel Spolsky's?

Scoble: Also known as "never miss another blogging related piece of news ever".

Wil Wheaton: Cause it's Wesley Crusher! ;-) Actually Wil is just an interesting person. His posts are almost always a good read on several levels.

Those are my must reads at the moment. (except that Josh has been posting a bunch of stuff about the MSDN forums that doesn't interest me)

DVD-Audio copy protection "cracked"

DVD-Audio's CPPM can be got around with a WinDVD patch - CD "but instead pipes the decrypted audio output to the hard drive instead of the sound card"

That's part of the fundamental problem with trying to secure bits. They must be available for playback, which means the customer has to have the key to unlock the bits available to them. This isn't a very sophisticated crack from what I can tell, but it's effective.

(Side note: Part of what is so frustrating about this is that this method is very inefficient for everyday users that would like to copy their music onto their computer for convenient listening, but mass "pirates" will have no problem waiting an hour for their one perfect master that they can stamp thousands of copies from)

I've wrestled with similar problems before, and what I've seen is that this false sense of security tends to be worse overall for the producer of the content than the removal of all barriers.

When there is a weak security system in place, those that don't understand the technical limitations tend to think "This solution is so great, I don't understand how it works but I feel secure". This false sense of security tends to make them take more risks because they think they're covered.

Perhaps those in the content industry actually think that the copy protection they've put in place is working. "We" all know (anecdotally) that copy protection doesn't stop hard core pirates from stealing and distributing illegitimate copies of content. But do the executives in charge of these decisions (like including macrovision protection on a DVD) know that it doesn't actually "work"? Do the technical people at those companies have a voice?

Has somebody stood in front of the leaders of the major labels and said "Here is what copy protection is doing for us and here is what it is not doing for us." I'd love to work with anybody in that kind of position on putting together a presentation of the costs/benefits of a copy protection scheme. :-)

I think it's very important for artists to be compensated for their work. I'm an artist, as is my wife, and I like getting money for the work I do. The more money I make the more time I can spend on my music and the more inclined I am to make more of it. But I also recognize that the old model is broken. That's why we released our music under a creative commons license.


My wife and I bought a Vespa ET2 about a month ago. Turns out that a 50cc motor is not quite enough to pull two people around Seattle's many hills. So we're considering adding a granturismo to our garage. (I don't actually have a garage).

Vespa GT 200 (warning: flash)

I was able to drive one once and they are pretty darn fun. If we do end up getting it I will be sure to post up pictures of the pair.

Living in the city is cool.

Thursday, June 30, 2005

Technorati Weirdness

I had to remove the link to my technorati profile because it was pointing to somebody else's blog. I wonder what's up with that...

M-Dollar: Microsoft kicking Claria's tires?

M-Dollar: Microsoft kicking Claria's tires?: "there is a US$500 million offer on the table, despite a large amount of internal debate at Redmond about the wisdom of picking up the company formerly known as Gator."


Gator was my first experience with adware. I almost installed it several times without knowing what it was, but since I didn't know what it was I didn't every click yes to any of those popup windows.

This has gotten me thinking about google's "don't be evil" policy. I need to strike up a conversation with Phil about not doing evil. Evil seems like a tricky concept in philosophy and theology. I wonder if it's more clear from a business perspective.

If Microsoft goes through this acquisition how will they reconcile their anti-spyware stance with a new product they've acquired (is Gator or the next incarnation of it still out there?)? Can adware ever be considered not evil. Many consider it evil today... who decides whether it's evil or not?

scooblog by josh ledgard : Barrier to Entry

scooblog by josh ledgard : Barrier to Entry: "but blogging without a comment Field is not blogging to engage in a conversation."

I've been "entering into conversation" with Josh Ledgard at MS about Scoble's new magical way of linking posts together.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Blog blog blog

I said the word blog so much in the previous post I feel a little nauseous. I gotta stop saying that word. (I've always dislike the word "blog")

New Blog (sorta)

The studiogo homepage has been converted to a blog. It's kind of a blog, but mostly I'm using the blogging tools in blogger to maintain the "news" section. I'll be hacking on the blog template when I need to add more links from the front page, but blogging is easy, and content management seems hard. So I choose blogging.

check it out Studio GO

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

EP Downloads

Just checked the stats for June.

29 | /letsgo/downloads/01%20Ashes.mp3
17 | /letsgo/downloads/02%20For%20Household%20Use%20Only.mp3
16 | /letsgo/downloads/03%20Home.mp3
12 | /letsgo/downloads/04%20Sister_Brotherhood.mp3
13 | /letsgo/downloads/05%20The%20Grand%20Finale.mp3

Ashes takes the lead with 29 downloads from June 1st through June 21st

Here are the same stats from May.

83 | /letsgo/downloads/01%20Ashes.mp3
56 | /letsgo/downloads/02%20For%20Household%20Use%20Only.mp3
55 | /letsgo/downloads/03%20Home.mp3
57 | /letsgo/downloads/04%20Sister_Brotherhood.mp3
41 | /letsgo/downloads/05%20The%20Grand%20Finale.mp3

The downloads appear to be slowing down. Perhaps we should restart the advertising in ernest (after the website update of course).

Remix Resources

I've had a request for some sources to use for remixing. I'll work on getting those produced and packaged up under creative commons. Just remember that we'll be using the share alike license, which means if you remix you'll need to release your remix under the same license.

Unless there is gnashing of teeth, then I suppose we could talk about using a different license.

Oh and the remix resource wont be available before the new website is up. If I have time and feel like delaying it may go up at the same time, but not before.

Website Progress

I was able to make some good progress on the new website tonight. It wont be radically different but it will finally have a paypal buy-now button, which is good.

We'll also have a little more content up. I'm still not using a content management system, but I think the website will be relatively static for the most part. Maybe I'll look into using blogger or some such simple content management system to keep the root of the studiogomusic site fresh.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Paypal and an EP progress report

I've been hestitant to start really promoting the CD online until I get paypal setup on the website. For some reason I just haven't been super motivated lately.

Here's what going on though. We've sold about 42 of the original 50 cds that we produced. So next we're going to do another run of 50-100 cds. Then get paypal setup on the website. Then I actually want to start the online "advertising" in ernest. Hit up the online groups that I know. Flesh out the last bits of the website. Print up some new handout sized flyers that I can give to people who show an interest in the music. Send a promo copy to KEXP. etc... etc...

I think spending so much time making the CD has got me all burned out on it. I'm finally picking up some steam again though.

Friday, June 17, 2005

Sony to accidentally encourage P2P, iTMS use

Sony to accidentally encourage P2P, iTMS use: "This scheme is just the latest in a long series of attempts by Sony to cripple their products, annoy users, and drive consumers to competing products that are uncrippled and less painful to use. Maybe one day they'll learn, but until then they'll continue to throw money away."

The day I bought a the NetMD mini-disc players was one of the most frustrating (technological) days of my life. "You mean I have to speed hours transcoding my library of music so that I can put 2 hours of it on a mini-disc that costs 2 bucks?!?"

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Mark Cuban: What am I missing Macrovision?

What am I missing Macrovision? - Blog Maverick - _: "I could see if the stuff worked and it kept the bad guys from doing bad things. Then it would have to be a price consumers paid. Publishers have a right to protect their content. But, it obviously doesn’t work. If it did, there would be nothing to sue anyone over."

Mark writes a good article pointing out why DRM is such a waste of time and money.

You can ask Gwen... occassionally I'll let a DVD play through to the very end and when the Macrovision logo is displayed, sometimes I can't stop a few swears from coming out... and it's because all Macrovision has been able to do, is stop me from doing things that should be covered under fair use.

Here's some free advise to the MPAA:

Stop wasting your money with Macrovision, and spend it looking for those big internet warez sites that host your movies. Also, spend 9 months and create a full featured rip/burn/mix piece of software for DVDs. Give me the same flexibility that I have with my CDs for my DVDs and I'll buy more DVDs. Get it? Let me do more with them, and they'll become more valuable to me.

Branch out, get into the hardware market... build some mobile playback devices... build a piece of software to manage your library. Screw the DRM, just target the pirates directly. The DRM doesn't stop the pirates anyway. So stop wasting your time and money.

'You've got to find what you love,' Jobs says

'You've got to find what you love,' Jobs says: "If I had never dropped in on that single course in college, the Mac would have never had multiple typefaces or proportionally spaced fonts. And since Windows just copied the Mac, its likely that no personal computer would have them."

I'm simply amazed at the arrogance displayed here. Jobs honestly thinks that no other person in the last 30 years would have ever thought to add good looking typography to the computer.

I have a prediction:

"When Jobs dies, Apple dies with him."

And here's why.

Steve is such an ego maniac and control freak that he's set his company up to rely on him completely. He craves acceptance so badly that he's created a company that is utterly dependent on his control. Now don't get me wrong. I have a 12" powerbook, and I love it. It's a great piece of engineering. But, it's only a great piece of engineering because Jobs has personally willed it into creation. He hasn't built a company that, when left alone, will create similarly well designed devices.

Think Different.... that is... Let Steve Jobs think for you.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

WIL WHEATON dot NET: Where is my mind?: i am not a number! i am, rather, a series of numbers, painted across my fingernails

WIL WHEATON dot NET: Where is my mind?: i am not a number! i am, rather, a series of numbers, painted across my fingernails: "i am not a number! i am, rather, a series of numbers, painted across my fingernails"

If you look at a picture like this and think to yourself: "Is that US-ASCII or ISO Latin 1" that's a good indication that you've been emotionally scarred by internationalization.

If you don't understand what I just said, that's a good indication you haven't been scarred by internationalization. :-)

arstechnica: Can we deal on the Broadcast Flag?

Can we deal on the Broadcast Flag?

As usual, Ars does a good job of summing up what's going on with copyright. This is a good read for anybody that's heard me complaining about copyright restrictions but doesn't really know what's going on.

Monday, May 16, 2005

The EP is up

The EP is up for download at Feel free to check it out and email me at if you like it enough to purchase a physical copy of the CD.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Music: Greg Matter : Weblog

Greg Matter : Weblog: "What's the answer? It's neither the perfection of DRM, nor the absolution of digital property rights. I am sure that there IS aneconomic system that solves the problem. I don't know what it is, but I can speculate about its properties."

Greg (I forget his last name, but he works at sun) has a great post that resonates a lot with the things I've been thinking about here.

The parts that don't work are pretty obvious. How is the subscription rate set for a person? Is it a government role? What if I choose to live my life digital-free: should I have to pay taxes at all? Finally, how do I possibly compare the consumption of a bit of software versus a bit of music or a bit of video? (It turns out that time spent consuming the content is an interesting measure.)

It's fun to find out I'm not the only person coming up with ideas like this... I think we're at a point in history where this idea is just sort of manifesting itself. The rating system that I envision for the music distribution system is the same as one that Greg talks about in this post. I've sort of glossed over some of the problems by setting a price and making it an opt in service (instead of a tax). My hope is that by making a system that is compelling and easy to use, people will want to subscribe. Basically, we move music and music consumption to a service model.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Blogging the EP: Mastering

Hmmm, seems I haven't had enough time to blog the EP much lately. We just passed a big milestone though. We now have the final master in hand. We got the CD mastered by Barry Corliss at Master Works.

The CD release party will be Friday the 13th at 7:30 at our house. It's an invite only type of event (since our house is not big enough to handle a huge party) but if you read my blog then you're automatically invited! Email me for directions if you don't know where we live.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Chain CDs

Hey people, but especially Gary!

Look what I just stumbled across: What's a chainCD?
I think this is an interesting idea. It's not like the most outrageously original, new idea I've ever heard of in my life (because I know other people who have done similar things- Bryan Free, for instance), but I think it's a pretty concise description of a fun, different way of doing things (for CD distribution).

What do you think? Maybe you (people, but especially Gary!) could comment about this.

Friday, April 08, 2005

The Doc Searls Weblog : Friday, April 8, 2005

The Doc Searls Weblog : Friday, April 8, 2005: " I did get some drive time on side roads in the red rental Mustang, and here's my final take on the car..."

It's not as bad as it originally sounded.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Music: If they don't like your music, they wont buy it

Just had a little blip of a brainstorm.

If you give your music to somebody and they don't like it. They wouldn't have bought it in the first place. So, by giving your music away to that person, you haven't really lost a sale. It doesn't hurt my ability to earn money off my music if everybody who hates it has a copy.

Now you might lose out on the "I bought this CD cause I thought I would like it but I don't" type of purchases, but who really wants to earn a lot of money off their music that way.

What is much more likely is that the inverse will be true. I find I'm less likely to buy music these days because I don't know if I will like it. Add to that, the fact that it's very hard for me to find out if I will like a band. The best way to find out is to listen to some music. Some of the best music I've found is because a friend played it for me, or recommended it to me.

So how does this translate into a business plan? Good question. I'm not sure I have it all figured out yet, but there's gotta be something that can be built on top of this. My original idea was subscription based, but maybe it doesn't need to be.

We'll see how things go with the EP release. Maybe there is a model closer to that that might be easier to implement.

The fact that the music is released under creative commons means we get to play around with technology.

What if we could extend the creative commons searching functionality that Yahoo has. Add the recommendation and rating system, build in a good way for people to pay the musicians to make more music or because of the enjoyment we've gotten out of the previous work and kablamo.

I love how podcasting can influence this. Podcasting is basically nothing more than a content delivery mechanism. One that I think is well suited to pushing new music at people. There just has to be a good business model surrounding it or else artists wont be able to afford to make cool music.

Pegasus News: A different angle

Pegasus News: A different angle: "In parallel words, kill the presses and the paper, and make room for more journalists. And watch the profits roll in."

More fallout from Mark Cuban's article.

This is from an update to an interesting brainstorm on restructuring another type of information delivery mechanism. The newspaper.

Music: Congress: one media format to rule them all

Congress: one media format to rule them all: "Of course, this entire circus has a ringmaster that needs no introduction: the DMCA. If it weren't for the anti-circumvention clause of 17 U.S.C. § 1201 and following, none of this would even matter. If individuals could circumvent DRM for any otherwise legal purpose, and if companies could be free to develop circumvention tools for legal uses, then it wouldn't make any difference what format this stuff was sold in. It's the kind of Catch-22 that could only be borne of special interests and fear mongering, but did anyone mentioned this at today's hearing?"

hmmm, DRM, my favorite :rolleyes:

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

The Doc Searls Weblog : Monday, April 4, 2005

The Doc Searls Weblog : Monday, April 4, 2005: "The bummer at hand was none other than the new Ford Mustang, which Budget rented me because they were out of Ford Focuses, which are the onlly cars I like to rent."

This is depressing to read because I really want one of those Mustangs. Oh well, I wont be able to get one anyways, so I'll just continue to covet ignoring anything negative said about the car.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Blogging the EP: Stats 'n Status

I don't know if I've talked much about what's actually going to be on the EP. So I'll give a quick run down.

It will be five songs, about 22 minutes in length. All the recording and programming done in Protools and Reason. The final mixing and mastering is being done at soul kitchen studios.

Release date should be sometime in mid April. Mark at soul kitchen is out of town this week and so we're taking a little break from mixing the CD until next week. But hopefully next monday I'll have a good feel for much is left to do.

The first CD run will be about 100 cds. We'll be using a CD duplicator that can print on the CDs and burn them. So we should be able to have color on the CD. We'll be using full jewel cases, and producing the inserts for them. Not sure what paper we'll use. All those materials will be factored into the Per CD cost. Once I know those numbers I'll feel pretty confident setting a price for the CD.

How much does a 5 track single usually go for these days anyway?

I haven't decided yet if we're going to put the CD up on the website before we have CDs ready, but probably not. Haven't decided how to handle online ordering yet. Maybe I need to get setup with paypal so I can take orders that way. Karen used that to setup the online order system for the COTA CD so I can ask her how well that has worked out.

Oh yeah, the website. I gotta at least get some static content up there.

Oh yeah, the name.

We are Let's Go and the EP will be titled on with life. (We reserve the right to change the title)

Music: The countdown for the extinction of CDs is about to begin - Blog Maverick - _

The countdown for the extinction of CDs is about to begin - Blog Maverick - _: "If Im an indie record store, Im making sure that all music from the labels you support is available for direct to player. Im offering every song as Ipod or MP3 player ready to anyone who walks in the door with their Ipod and wants to leave listening to the music."

Mark Cuban has his plan to save the music industry. Slightly different, yet I think complimentary to what I've been talking about here.

Music: SimpleBits | The Cheapening of Music

SimpleBits | The Cheapening of Music: "One of my favorite rituals has always been going to the record store and buying a CD or two. The physical act of purchasing something, taking it home, opening it up, lookng at the artwork, reading the lyrics, etc. Will that become something of the past?"

This author raises some good questions about music. I think in the future "the system" should be an avenue for artists to get their music out into peoples hands. Including producing and distributing physical media. It's more expensive to do, and might take a more critical mass of artists to get it done, but with connections to local music stores I bet we could do some very cool stuff.

I think the stores could like it because they'll get music that is already "proven" in that it already has a following online. It would also allow the artists on "the system" to brand out to the less tech saavy.

There's something to be said for "owning" a piece of music. But do you really "own" that piece of music today? Isn't there a big corporation telling you what you can and can't do with the music? I'm ok with that in principal actually. I think the copyright holder should have the right to do what they want with their music. Unfortunately for most of the CDs out there, the artist doesn't hold the copyright anymore, the music label does. That's why they're so interested in increasing the copyright holders rights. Not because they want artists to get their fair shake, but because they've gotten the artists to sign over their rights...

I think I may have gotten off topic here.

Blogging the EP: Creative Commons

So I think the music will be available on our website under this license.

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License

Originally I was going to use Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs License but if others are willing to share their remixes then I think I'm cool with it. Plus if somebody actually wants to remix our music that's neat.

Music: Non-profit

Had an idea the other day. What if the music distribution system was setup as a non-profit. Seems like that might change things a fair bit huh?

I think I like this idea because it puts the focus of the system back onto the artists. The goal isn't to become fabulously wealthy off of this "brilliant" business strategy (I suppose the brilliance is open to debate ;-) ), but to facilitate creative musical expression, something I think is cool and important.

I would get a kick out of making the system go, and by making it a non-profit, artists wont have to worry that someday the system will be sold to Microsoft of Sony or some other organization that doesn't have their best interests in mind.

So, who's interested in donating to the non-profit? :)

Paul Allen loves music doesn't he? Maybe he'd like to see a system put together that encourages creativity and independence in music. ;-)

Music: I gotta get a prototype together

Yeah, maybe when the EP is out I'll have some time to focus on slapping together a little prototype of the system. How about this for core functionality?

- A database of songs
- Artist Bios
- The ability to rate songs
- An RSS feed that pushes new unrated songs down to you

The second phase would probably

- Make the RSS feed smart enough to push songs you might like based on other people's ratings as well.

For the first couple phases I'll probably have to update the database, but that's ok cause there wont be much music up there yet. ;-)

Blogging the EP: Website

So I've registered I don't have any content up there yet. I messed around with the demo of Radio, thinking that maybe I could just make that work, but so far I'm not happy with that.

I'm also checking out Geeklog to see if that might be a contender, but I'm not sure about it yet.

Monday, April 04, 2005

Music: ongoing · LimeWire & Chansonniers Perdus

ongoing · LimeWire & Chansonniers Perdus: "The conclusion is that the Record Companies’ business model, like General Franco, is still dead. If I were a teenager I’d be all over LimeWire and I’d be too stupid/oblivious to worry about the knock on my parents’ door, and there are just too many oblivious teenagers for the RIAA to sue out of existence. So I was right, the battle’s over; only I was wrong about who won."

Tim Bray coming to the same conclusion that I have.

Thursday, March 31, 2005

EP: Status update

4 of the 5 tracks are now in the final stages. They're being worked over at soul kitchen studios.

Arstechnica: Grokster gains ally with deep pockets

Grokster gains ally with deep pockets: "For the most part, [the RIAA and MPAA] have chosen to respond by abandoning the principles of the free market and instead focus their attention litigating and legislating the market in line with their vision."

A good article on Arstechnica about the MGM vs. Grokster case.

Another good quote.

Are the stakes really that great? To say that this is the most important copyright case to make it to the SCOTUS since the original Betamax decision is not much of an exaggeration.

Google Prefetching

Google Blog: "When you do a search on these browsers, we instruct them to download your top search result in advance"

You know, this smells a little bit like Google doing what this post from Raymond Chen outlines.

Google is making everybody's website with a high google rank slower because somebody "might" click on it and we want that to be fast. It's nice that you can opt out on your end, but what if the website owner wants to opt out of this behavior because google searches are slamming their site with incoming requests that people aren't following through it.

I guess if the google search algorithm is perfect then there's no problem, because people will always choose the top link... but how often do you "feel lucky"?

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Music: What's the core business model

The business model that I'm talking about here on this blog is the business model of music in the internet age. How do artists make money off of music in a way that embraces the realities and benefits of the internet.

I thought it was time to reiterate the core business model since I've done a lot of talking about how the features of the system might work. I think those are compelling pieces that will make the whole thing go, but I don't want to forget the core.

-- File sharing is inevitable.
-- Artists wont make music without compensation (or at least as good of, or as much music).
-- People want music.

Business Model:
Users pay a subscription fee to support artists. They designate the artists they wish to continue making music by rating their music higher than others.

That's it, that's the core model. Subscription fees getting disbursed through the rating system.

Blogging the EP: Equipment costs

Here is the equipment we've used on the CD.

Protools Digi 002 - $2200
Custom PC for PT - $1500 (we spent a little more but I adjusted the price to today's market)
Reason 2.5 - $250
Drum Sound Library - $40
AT 3035 Mic - $200
Monster Cable Mic Cable - $40
Mic Stand - $50

Total equipment costs - $4280

We only used 1 channel on the 002, and so we could've used an mBox instead of the 002 and probably saved $1600.

Minimum equipment costs - $2680

Now that's money I spent a while ago and have used on other projects, so that cost could be amortized instead of lumped into this one project.

Music: Blogging the EP

So here's the latest and "greatest" idea.

I'm going to blog our EP release. I'll start out with the expenses, both the one time, and the recurring costs. We'll set a price for the CD and calculate how many we need to sell to break even on the project (excluding one time equipment costs, and maybe including one time equipment costs).

As we release the EP I'll be posting updates for how many downloads we've had vs. how many purchases and anything interesting that is happening on the marketing front and how that effects those two numbers.

Music: DRM-free iTunes: wash, rinse, repeat?

DRM-free iTunes: wash, rinse, repeat?: "Yesterday, Apple thought they had fixed the problem. The company said that they would require iTunes 4.7 for all interaction with the store, and apparently considered the case closed. In an almost Keystone Kops-esque turn of events, the same people behind PyMusique have done it again. Yes, in about a day's time, Apple's solution has been torn to shreds."

As an industry, how much are we going to spend on this problem before we recognize it's nothing more than a giant waste of time and money.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Music download prices could be going up

Music download prices could be going up: "According to industry sources, the current wholesale per-track price of around 65¢ was set at that 'low' price to stimulate demand."

Ah ha... now we have a price to work with. Apple's music store is making a profit (or breaking even) earning $.34 per download. That's fascinating. I wonder how that 34 cents per song gets spent.

Also.... the fact that the music industry is raising their prices is fascinating. What are they doing that worth so freaking much per song... oh yeah, they own the copyright...

The Globe and Mail: Would you pay 5 cents for a song?

The Globe and Mail: Would you pay 5 cents for a song?

They almost get it... almost.

You have to get rid of DRM completely though in order for it to work, and you can't charge per download. You could possibly charge for bandwidth, since that is a cost, but there are ways to solve the bandwidth problem technically (*cough* bittorrent).

EP coming out soon

Been a little quiet on the blog front lately... (I wonder what percentage of blog posts include a statement like the previous one)

Gwen and I have been busily working on an EP that we want to release by Easter. We're going to try something a little different with the release. We'll be releasing it online under some kind of creative commons license, and then sell the physical media at "above market value". (above market value is still to be determined)

This way you can check out our music online and decide if you want to purchase the CD. If you like the music and want to support it, then buy the CD. Even though you're paying more for it, you can know ahead of time whether it's going to be a waste of your money, or money well spent.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Kevin Schofield's Weblog

Kevin Schofield's Weblog: "There is clearly no correlation between command of the English language and higher thinking."

A choice quote from Kevin Schofield, made famous (at least to me) from his interviews on channel 9.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Music: Windows Media 10 cracked + Why the old way doesn't work

EXCLUSIVE: Windows Media DRM 10 Crack Updates. It Is Real!: "Windows Media DRM 10 has been cracked"

Some would say it's inevitable... I currently include myself in "some".

Zarkon said "how has the old business model hindered users?"

Well, the old system actually wasn't too bad. It's when the old system tries to change into the new system. As I see it, the old system hide a complex twist in intellectual property. In the old system, musicians were compensated because there was a piece of physical media tied to their work. That media clearly cost money to produce, and hence it was easy to add a hidden "tax" to the price of the media that went to compensating the artist.

So what's wrong with the old system? The internet. For 24 dollars a month I can buy a hosting plan from speakeasy that gives me 1 gig of storage online and unlimited throughput... which means, speakeasy will allow me to distribute unlimited copies of 200 of my songs for a flat fee of 24 dollars per month. What is $24 divided by infinity? That's my per cost distribution fee.

(There are caveats here of course, since large scale music distribution costs more in hardware and hosting fees than I have laid out, this is used as an example of how music distribution costs have dropped and are dropping)

So, since bits are easy to copy, where do you hide the artist tax? The old school thinkers out there are proposing to add the tax in by making it impossible for you to copy the song (using DRM or Digital Rights Management). If you can't copy it, then they can charge you for additional copies. Oh... about $0.99 per copy. It would be fascinating to look at Apple's budget for the iTunes music store. I bet you 70%-90% of their costs go to the record labels for licensing fees.

So... here's where my plan comes in.... instead of taking that 70%-90% and giving to the record labels (who now are not involved in the distribution, only marketing and production), find a way to give as much of it as possible to the artists. After all, they're the irreplacable ones.

So, returning to the question, how has it hindered users? It's the DRM. When you look into how DRM works, you'll discover that it's designed to control what you can do with the digital copy of the file. For example, in certain configurations, music ripped to your machine with Windows Media Player will not play on another computer. That sounds good right? Until you buy a new computer, move your files over, and then you can't play them. So you have to go looking around to try and find why you can't play your songs.

Why DRM is bad is a big topic. Here are a good link for your reading pleasure until I have time to address the issue more fully.

Cory Doctorow on DRM

Friday, February 18, 2005

Music: What makes this idea different

I was talking to Joel a little bit earlier about peercasting and podcasting because of an article he had read in wired. Podcasting is cool stuff. Anyways, we got talking about and how they have features similar to what we've been brainstorming for the system. It helps to highlight that those sites are doing 70% of what is planned for the system. The thing that sets the system apart is the business model. No more 99 cent downloads... your money is not spent to limit what you can do with the music, it goes directly to supporting the aritsts (plus administration costs to keep the servers running). It's kind of a "cut out the middle man" model of music distribution. Let's not spend all that money on media giants, let's give it to the artists so they will keep making awesome music.

So yeah, the system will compete for usability with other online sites like itunes, or, but it will compete with the music labels as a way for artists to get their music distributed. 2 different classes of competition. I'm hoping that we'll be best of breed in both classes. Best solution for artists in terms of contracts and music rights, best solution for users trying to get good music because we're not hinderd by the business model of days past.

Music: Money

So yeah. I'm sitting here in the living room listening to snowdrift after Team November's set and thinking about music. (blogging from shows seems to be a good way to go for me).

I think demonstrating to artist that we're committed to getting them money will help get people signed up. I'm almost thinking that would be a good place to spent startup money. Basically approach a number of groups and give them a guarantee on revenue. Sort of a profit sharing plus guarantee package. This would be targeted at the early adopters... kind of a bonus for signing up early. And we would only approach bands we thought had a chance of becoming popular and raising the esteem of the system.

Maybe carrying it beyond the early adopters is a good plan as well, as an incentive to sign up bigger acts into the system.

Come to my show tonight! or "how not to be a loser on a friday night"

So, I bought this key-tar, right? And it's this Roland AX-7, right? And it's like the coolest thing ever and I'm gonna play it at my show tonight, right?

Team November (my band)
@ living:room (4301 Fremont Ave. N, Seattle, WA)
$3, all-ages, beer/wine for 21+
also on the bill: Snowdrift

Check it out if you get a chance! Gary will be there, so it's bound to be cool.

Love and gumdrops,

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Back from San Diego

Gwen and I got back from our trip to San Diego yesterday. It was a fun trip down to the emergent convention, which is a convention for those interested in emerging churches.

I don't go back to work until monday, so I've got a little time to ease back into things. I haven't thought of anything interesting over the last week. Which has been kind of nice.

Saturday, January 29, 2005

Music: Recommendations

So here's an idea.... If an artist uploads their music into the system and they have recommendations, their songs should get into the list of "pushed" songs of others that like the same kind of music.... that's a way to get songs that haven't been listened too, connected to people that might like them.

The logic being... if you as an artist, like certain bands... then your music might appeal to others that listen to those bands...

Music: Where to start reading

If you're new... here are a few links to read on my blog to get started on what this whole music system is.

Music = Loud
Music = The Internet
Artist compensation
User Experience

Those are some of the highlights....

More Bryan Free

So yeah, Gwen took me over and introduced me to Bryan (my brother's name is spelled Brian so it's really hard for me to remember to spell his name with a Y). We only talked for a minute and now he's up on stage. He sounded interested and I'm looking forward to talking more with him.

Most of these ideas seem good to me, but I don't earn my living off music, so my perspective isn't the best. I need feedback from people that would place their livelihood in the hands of a label. Established record labels have the benefit of history. All I have are some crazy half baked ideas that might or might not work out. :-)

Well, but that's the point of this blog... to separate out the ideas that can't work from the ones that can.

Bryan Free

Gwen and I and a bunch of folks from COTA are about to hear Bryan Free play.

Gwen likes his music, and I think his ideas about honest in music are interesting.... I wonder if I"ll have a chance to talk to him about them.

Music: Recording

Maybe I should spend some time talking with local artists about doing recording for the system. I have a protools digi 002, and could probably produce some pretty reasonable quality recordings....

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Recent Slow Down

I haven't slowed down too much I guess, but it sure feels like it. Work has been really busy these last few weeks.

I'm going on vacation next tuesday though, so hopefully I'll have some more time to get my head around this stuff then.

SmartShuffle: Refreshing Your Music Without Wires

IOD: SmartShuffle: Refreshing Your Music Without Wires: "Each day my phone would call up my home computer on its own and replace the 5-10 oldest songs on my phone with 5-10 new 'recommendations'."

Sounds like Josh would be interested in something like "the system".

Reactions to the Pew Study on Search Engine Users (by Jeremy Zawodny)

Reactions to the Pew Study on Search Engine Users (by Jeremy Zawodny): "If you find what you're looking for, does it really matter if it's a sponsored result or not?"

The only reason I think it would matter is that without indicating they are sponsored links, you would lead your users to believe that their ranking was as a result of your searching algorithm, instead of their rank because a result of their money.

If the links are relevent like Jeremy indicates, then I don't think I need to care as much where they come from. But when money gets involved, things get sticky.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Why we need an iPod competitor | Doc Searls' IT Garage

Why we need an iPod competitor | Doc Searls' IT Garage: "It's a closed system."

Yup. I would love to see a really strong ipod competitor as well. Especially since I'm still brainstorming ways to integrate the system with players.

Music: BBC NEWS | Technology | Napster offers rented music to go

BBC NEWS | Technology | Napster offers rented music to go: "'Music fans are moving away from buying the traditional bundled package of a dozen or more songs that we used to call an album to newer ways that fit their lifestyle; either single tracks or subscriptions services,' said Paul Myers, chief executive of Wippit, a UK-based music download service."

Interesting no? I think there are 2 things that will set the system apart.

1) Licensing
2) Implementation

I think the licensing will help make the implementation easier. Hopefully the licensing and the implementation will attract the critical component.


Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Music: Gizmodo : Gates Interview Part Four: Communists and DRM

Gizmodo : Gates Interview Part Four: Communists and DRM

There are some very good quotes to look at from this interview. I think those most interesting to look at right now is.

And in the case that the authors decided it's rights managed, you can decide to stay away from it or to use it. That, again, is your choice.

We're still at a point where digital rights management can't really work. Every DRM system to date has been compromised by determined hackers. Soon though, the hardware and the software will start to come together, and things will start to get rough. I think that's when people will start to wake up and realize that DRM does not help them (the consumers) at all.

Take a song you bought off iTunes Music Store and put it on a linux machine. You bought the music right, you should be able to listen to it on another computer right? Well you can't, not without breaking the DRM.

That's part of the goal of the system. To provide an alternative to DRM. An alternative that artists will need to evaluate when looking at ways to distribute their music in the internet age.

Sunday, January 16, 2005

Music: Creative Commons

What do y'all think of this creative commons license

Music in the system will need to be licensed in such a way that people can legally download and share it. I like the terms of this license, except that I'm concerned about the non-commercial part. It will probably be beneficial for users of the system to be able to download the music for use in DJing or radio play.

Perhaps that could be a different kind of subscription to the service...

FeedBurner's XSLT and CSS Feed Views (by Jeremy Zawodny)

FeedBurner's XSLT and CSS Feed Views (by Jeremy Zawodny): "Related to Dan's complaint, I see the FeedBurner, like a few other services, does a good job of using XSLT and CSS to render human readable views of RSS feeds."

Like I mentioned before, blogger does a pretty good job of providing human readable atom feeds. So readable that I didn't think they were XML at first.

my atom feed

Saturday, January 15, 2005

Music: Wired 13.01: The Zen of Jeff Bezos

Wired 13.01: The Zen of Jeff Bezos: "Well, it's difficult to see how physical stores participate in the digital distribution of music. Today most music is sold by multi-category retailers who are cutting back on the square footage they deploy to music."

A couple of interesting tidbits from this article. The most interesting I think is this quote.

WIRED: Does Amazon actually create demand for hard-to-find products?
BEZOS: Absolutely. We not only help readers find books, we also help books find readers, with personalized recommendations based on the patterns we see.

This is part of what I see the system doing. Since I perceive that in the future, the challenge of music isn't going to be media distribution or product, but marketing. Connecting musicians and fans.

Friday, January 14, 2005

iTunes restrictions

Miguel de Icaza: "Today a friend of mine asked me if I bought music from the Apple iTunes Store and whether she should. I explained to her that the music she purchases will be locked into the iPod and iTunes and she wont be able to play it on other MP3 players unless she hacks her music."

It's unfortunate that apple appears to be one of the most open of the online music distributors.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Music: DJs and Playlists

So I'm listening to this Japanese Peercast right... and I have no idea if a person is behind it or not. And do I really care?

If the music selection is "good"...

I should be careful with this... my wife was a college radio DJ, and she reads the blog. :-)

Maybe the system can be your own personal DJ through the recommendation system.

I remember Brian Mansell (he used to livejournal, but I've lost track of him, does he have another blog up?) working on creating a system that would allow people to post requests to an automated playlist system. I bet he would have some interesting ideas about this.