Archive for November, 2004

Magnatune

“We’re not evil.” If ever there was a great slogan, that one’s gotta be in the running. It’s the slogan of Magnatune, the open record label.

Magnatune is a record label which sells downloadable music in a number of formats, including actual CDs. All of their music is Create Commons licensed (Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike ). You can listen to everything online- every song in its entirety. You can purchase the music by the album, and decide what to pay- from $5 to $18 US, add $4.97 to your chosen price for a physical CD. Choose your price wisely, as the artists recieve 50% of every sale. $8 is the recommended price. Pricing is also available in Euros and Sterling. You can even license the music for commercial use, directly online. Choose your use type, duration, etc., and the price is calculated instantly.

Of course, the music is what really matters. I’ve listened to a number of items from the Classical and Jazz/Blues genres, and I’m very impressed. Other genres include New Age, Metal/Punk, Rock/Pop, and Electronica.

My favorite so far is the album The Depths of a Year by pianist Ehren Starks, with Kate Gurba on cello. I’m always on the lookout for good instrumental music to listen to at work while writing code. The album is described as “piano and cello jazzy new age.” The first track, “The Tale of Room 620”, is just indescribably good. Give it a listen, and look around. You’re bound to find something great. If you do, leave me a comment below with your recommendations. I’ve already got three or four albums I plan to purchase, once I’ve given them a full listen and decided on the purchase price.

November Blogging Challenge

Last month, Dugh issued the October Blogging Challenge, which grew from a week of daily posts to a month of daily posts. This month, I’d like to do something a little different.

As you probably know, today is the official release date of Mozilla Firefox 1.0. Firefox is a free, open source web browser. Not only that, it’s also the best web browser I have ever used, and one of my favorite pieces of software. It is easy to install, simple to use, and yet more powerful than the marketshare leader. It is highly configurable via extensions, yet you could never install a single extension and still have an incredibly useable, powerful browser. It is one of a handful of products which I can say has changed the way I use computers. It is made for all users, not just tech geeks like myself. In the past year, even through several beta versions, I’ve encouraged many people to switch- including my children. If you’ve never used it before, I encourage you to Get Firefox… but that is not the point of this post, or of the Challenge.

Of all of Firefox’s features, the one I want to focus on is the people. Firefox is a product of the Mozilla Foundation, a non-profit organization created to support the development of the open source Mozilla platform. Thousands of volunteers have contributed… bug reports, code patches, suggestions, themes, extensions, and even cash. There are many people, none of whom I know, who deserve thanks today. Ben Goodger, Chief Engineer for the Firefox project, touched on this today in his 1.0 release anouncement post on his Firefox Weblog. Ben himself deserves thanks as well, for seeing this project through and delivering a world-class product. On a personal note, he even found time to comment on this site when I complained about the Firefox marketing effort several months ago. No complaints now!

So to Ben Goodger, everyone at the Mozilla Foundation, and everyone who has contributed to the Firefox project – Thank You. You have done a very great service to the community of the web.

The November Blogging Challenge, then, is simple. If there is an open source project, a useful website, or even a blog which has benefited you in some way, blog a “Thank You” this month. Tell everyone about why you like it, and tell those who made it that their work is appreciated. If you have the means, consider supporting your favorite open source project with a donation, if they accept them. Today I donated $50 to the Mozilla Foundation as another way of saying “Thank You,” and “Keep up the good work.”

Update: If you participate in the challenge, leave a comment or trackback ping this post!

Atomic

Tonight I added an Atom feed (0.3) to the site. The link is in the Subscribe boxlet on the right. I’ve also added a feed validation link for this feed in the Made Possible By boxlet.

Why an Atom feed? I’ve always felt Atom to be a promising project. Why now? I’d always planned to add an Atom feed, but I’ve felt no urgency as the spec is continuing to evolve. However, I’ve got some ideas I want to explore for using the Atom publication format and protocol in a project; more on that when I’ve had some time to refine my thoughts (and maybe write some proof-of-concept code). For now, I’m reading up on the current states of the specs, poking around the wiki, and reading some of the mailing list archives.

Adding the feed to Blosxom was straightforward. I installed the atomfeed plugin, which got me 95% of the way there. Since the last update of the atomfeed plugin, the spec has added <atom:modified> as a required child element of <atom:feed>. I was able to implement this by modifying the built-in flavour and using the lastmodified plugin to supply the value. Putting my name in atomfeed’s $default_author config variable was the only other step I had to complete to get the feed to validate. I’ve posted my version of the atomfeed plugin which contains my fix for the <atom:modified> issue, but does require the lastmodified plugin.

A Trip to the Apple Store

After a long, busy weekend, yesterday was a long, busy Saturday. After everything wound down last night, we decided to go get some dinner at the mall. Of course, this was the perfect excuse for me to wander into the new Apple store.

The last time I was at the Apple store, I played with the iPods for a while. I was impressed by the sound quality of the headphones they use to demo the iPods, but I didn’t have time to inquire about them. Last night I learned that they are Bose Triport Headphones, and they cost $199 at the Apple store. No wonder they sound so good. Of course, the going rate everywhere else is $149. As much as I like the Apple store, 33% markup over street price on third-party merchandising is foolish and insulting.

Speaking of expensive, they also had the new 30″ Cinema Display available to play with. All I can say is “WOW”. What an incredible piece of hardware. Just for fun I opened three browser windows. Side-by-side. And they fit. No way I can justify the expense, but wow. Just breathtaking.

Another product I got to see for the first time is the new 20″ iMac G5. It’s a very slick piece of hardware. I’ve been wanting a desktop Mac for a while, and had been thinking about buying a Power Mac G5 after the new year. Given the price of Power Macs and Cinema Displays, I figured I’d use my existing VGA monitor for now, and look at getting a 20″ or 23″ cinema display in a year or so. But given the price/performance of a 20″ iMac, I’m seriously considering getting one of these.

Challenging

October has ended, and so has the October Blogging Challenge. Started by Dugh as a one-week challenge, I foolishly re-challenged him to a full month of blogging. He accepted, as did Uncle Roger. It was… challenging. I missed two days, but I did publish 31 posts… even if some of them were lazy.

It’s been a lot of fun, and good blogging ‘exercise’. We’ve been kicking around some ideas for a new challenge, but we haven’t settled on anything yet. Dugh is soliciting suggestions. I’m going to try to keep blogging at least once a day, but it will be nice to have any pressure to do so!