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Archive for October, 2007

Country Bumpkins, P2P, and the RIAA + Students

October 31, 2007 3 comments

On October 30, 2007 Ohio University’s Office of Information Technology hosted a P2P forums for students with a panel comprised of industry professionals, faculty, and student senate. The forum lasted 2.5 hours including speeches followed by questions from the audience and online submission. The forum was comprised of:

Eddie Ashworth – Ohio University Telecommunications Professor, Engineer of albums by Sublime, Pennywise and Great White
Jonathan Lamy – Director of Communications, RIAA, six years of experience on Capitol Hill, former Press Secretary for Bread for the World, and OU Alumnus
Jorma Kaukonen – Founding Member of Jefferson Airplane and Hot Tuna, 1996 Inductee to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Owner and operator of the Fur Peace Ranch Guitar Camp. Vanessa Kaukonen – Owner and chief executive officer of the Fur Peace Ranch guitar camp.
Bob Regan – Legislative Chair, NSAI, was instrumental in NSAI’s introduction and passage of the Songwriters Capital Gains Tax Equity Act
Timothy Vonville – OHIO University Student Senate President Vijay Raghavan, Director – Digital Freedom University and Digital Freedom Campaign Stewart Harris – Composer, songwriter, producer, publisher, and president of Edisto Sound

Eddie Ashworth was the first to talk, flat out saying music piracy may only account for 5% of a drop in record sales. The record industry has gone through ups and downs before and in today’s day and age, money is being spent on movies, video games and other forms of media as well. Something has to give a little, right? Well no one apparently took what Mr. Ashworth said to heart.

Up next was the RIAA hack, Jonathan Lamy. Completely disregarding the previously stated statistical facts by saying piracy has generated a 33% loss in industry revenue. He also went on a political rant about how the RIAA first tried education and other methods before suing children and coercing universities for student information, but they had failed or not brought about the results demanded.

I’ll skip ahead for a minute to Vijay Raghavan who took on the role of pointing out the ridiculous nature of the music industry and the RIAA. Vijay spoke what we have been saying for years. The music industry would not adopt digital distribution when it came on the scene and began alienating its user base when they were ready to move ahead. Mr. Lamy explained that you can’t just flip a switch, but he failed to acknowledge how the industry refused to do anything and further claimed Apple was partially to blame for not licensing its DRM to other companies. DRM is a company secret, not a product. When something is licensed the secret is out. Vijay was also quick to point out DRM is ridiculous in the first place for digital downloads because CD’s do NOT have DRM. It’s ineffective.

The rest of the panel was a group of country music songwriters and CEO of the Fur Peace Ranch guitar camp. Along with them was the founder of Jefferson airplane, Jorma Kaukonen. Vanessa Kaukonen was the most unintelligible of the bunch almost seeming afraid to make statement in that she me piss off the RIAA and find herself in a world of hurt. As far as her husband goes, Jorma Kaukonen, I’m sorry but no one cares about Jefferson Airplane anymore and anyone that still does or is interested in his solo career are probably not pirating music. There’s a bit of a generational gap there. Bob Regan was by far the most entertaining of the bunch aside from Stewart Harris’ brick analogy. What was that? Sorry Stewart, but when a CD sucks, it’s a coaster, not a brick. Did you know Mr. Regan only makes $22,000 if he writes a song on a platinum selling album, only $22 grand?!

Let’s give him the benefit of the doubt and say he writes two hit songs on a platinum selling album out of 10 songs. That’s a high percentage, but that also means the other 8 songs he wrote or his co-writers wrote are crap. This doesn’t count the dozens of other songs he writes that never even make it on an album. I don’t know about you, but I’m not sure I’d still have a job if 80% of my work was deemed crap. I’m sure writers are losing their jobs left and right, but that’s just more of an incentive to do a better job. Piracy isn’t to blame. It’s disgusting to think we should pay $20 for a CD that has two good songs. That’s why things like the iTunes store is so successful; we pay a price to get exactly what we want and all the other garbage out there gets brushed aside. Welcome to economics.

This panel was seriously lacking in artists who support the consumer, not in a pro-piracy manner but in their role as part of the industry. Spearheaded by Mr. Regan was the attitude of “me me me.” Calling BS on the users’ claim that artists are alienating their fans. Assuming Mr. Regan had any fans in the audience, I bet they will think twice before buying any music he writes. Where were the people from bands like Radiohead? Where were the Trent Reznors? Where were They Might Be Giants? Where were the Myspace bands that launched due to users distributing their music? Record labels can spend as much money as they want on promotions and Pepsi deals, but their ultimate source of advertising, and its FREE advertising, is the consumer. “Hey, check out this band.”

There is little doubt that downloading and distributing music that you didn’t pay for is illegal. I can’t argue that and everyone on the panel would agree, but it’s hard to stand behind the current industry model when 20 years later, CD’s are still $20+. We don’t own our music anymore; we get to install it on 5 computers. We’re in the age of renting the things we pay for. $15 a month for unlimited downloads on Napster to only have them taken away once you cancel your account or only work on certain devices? The model and the laws need to change. Old theory doesn’t apply in the digital age. The music industry has done nothing to better serve its customers. I’m NOT an advocate of piracy because I feel like if you really like something, go out and buy their music, and definitely go see their shows.

It’s time for people like Bob Regan and Stewart Harris to realize their golden era is up in the industry. While there will always be respect for their contributions to music and people will seek them our for material, the genre and the consumers have left them behind. Instead of wagging the finger, accept that at least for now, you’re not the hot commodity you once were.

The RIAA can continue to persecute people for downloading music. In some instances it will work, but it’s the artists and the labels that need to make their product more appealing to an audience. The audience is ready; they want to consume your music and carry it wherever they go. You just need to keep up with them.

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Jail Buhroken! What a Beautiful Clutter

October 30, 2007 2 comments

By now, you must have hear iPhone firmware 1.1.1 has officially been jailbroken, by AppSnapp. It can now be done with a single, and incredibly easy install without all the backdoor methods we have seen over the previous weeks. The second jailbreak by the iPhone goes on to prove that it’s more than an iPod, a phone, and an Internet communications device. It’s also a handheld game device, a movie player, an instant messenger and by god something you can use your own ringtones on.

In the free market, ingenuity is driven by competition. When the iPhone came "locked" to 3rd party developers the original break-in was found and people were free to intensify their own user experience. With firmware 1.1.1, those who were sucker enough to "upgrade" found themselves temporarily in the dark until a new solution was created. Feeling the pressure, Apple caved and announced an SDK for the iPhone due out in February with the first applications not due for another couple months and primarily adopted through the iTunes store. "Why wait?" thought the hackers and the new installer.app was released. Apple bred its own competition or what I so lovingly call its actual user base. Those that saw the immediate promise of the iPhone and all the power and glory held within.

IMG_9000

So what makes the iPhone so perfect for this development aside from 4-8GB of storage. It’s the nihilism of the device: one button.  The hardware is set for years, all functionality changes from within. Developers can make the screen do and show whatever they want to. Why should users be relegated to the icons given by Apple and a standard order to them? My device is primarily used as a phone so why shouldn’t all phone functions be at the bottom dock? Why shouldn’t all the iPod functions be made readily available from the home screen for those who primarily use it as a music device ? Why do we always have to return to the home screen just to get to another app?

  IMG_9001

Who knows what will happen when the iPhone SDK is released and programs begin to role out through iTunes? Through Apple’s own doing, it is facing its toughest competition through its own partners, the developers. Apple will be the first to admit, its greatest resource is the developers who also make a great percentage of its users. Telecommunications researches are all seeking the unified theory of communications, the Holy Grail that just explains everything. Shouldn’t we seek the same in our devices? If the capability is there, should we not use it?

It’s now Apple’s turn. The developers answered the call for competition and now Apple needs to see what it can do to satisfy users. It’s time for Apple to unleash the greatest multimedia device applications ever. Locking the users out is not the answer.

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Leopard vs Tiger: Bringing You the Pretty

October 29, 2007 11 comments

I have had a good 72 hours with Leopard now and I want to bring to you some of the visual changes I have noticed between Leopard and Tiger. I only have one negative concern in the Finder, but I’ll get to that. Unfortunately, I don’t have images of Quicklook or Coverflow at the moment but will get those soon.

Note: Tiger pictures were taken from my Powerbook. Leopard is from my Mac Pro. The version from Tiger will be first followed by Leopard.

Desktop

Desktop

Desktop

As you can see from the desktop, there is relatively no difference except my wallpaper, but that’s a matter of choice. Upon closer look at the top, you can see the differences of the MenuBar.

MenuBar

MenuBar

MenuBar

An obvious note is the difference in color between Tiger and Leopard. Tiger has a white Menubar while the Leopard is actually translucent. It looks a little gray because of the wallpaper behind it. Also, the Apple logo has been taken from blue to a dark gray and so has the icon for Spotlight.

The Dock

Dock

Dock

The dock in Leopard (bottom) now has a 3D reflective look to it. There has been a lot of complaints about the dock’s new look, but I’m a fan. The black triangle that notifies you which applications are running has been swapped out for a blue light. You can also see the new preferences icon from the switch/apple logo to the gears found on the iPhone. You can also see the icon for the new application Time Machine. The vertical line next to the trash can in Tiger has been replaced with a line of dashes. The 3 icons to the right of the dashed line in Leopard are stacks: applications, downloads, and documents.

Stacks

Stacks Fan

Stacks Grid

Above are the two views of stacks found in Leopard. The top is “Fan” and the bottom is “Grid.” The fan looks a little weird with the leaning, but I guess stacks tend to tip a little when items are stacked on top of each other; I’ve played Jenga.

The Finder

Finder Home

Finder

Note: I changed many of my Tiger icons in the finder on my laptop.

The stock icons are Leopard, Music, Sites, and Public. All with the glossy, slanted icons with a picture. The new icons are a matte blue with an embedded icon. You’ll also notice the Icons for coverflow and quicklook at the top. On the bottom of the main window is the “path” to let you know how you got to where you’re at. And what’s that massive gray box around it? That’s the much larger drop shadow to differentiate windows from each other. You can see a much smaller drop shadow behind the Tiger finder. Of course it’s not that black on the desktop but the alpha layer didn’t pick up in the screen capture

Finder Pane FinderSide

The left pane in the Finders are completely different. If you’ve ever used iTunes, you’ll recognize the pane in Leopard. It looks just like the iTunes finder pane. Leopard has a flat gray background, smaller icons, and links to searches done in Finder. However, unlike Tiger, I had to manually add music, movies, and pictures. They didn’t come standard. What is more weird, is (I’ll add a picture later) when you import in iTunes a finder window opens and it shows music, movies, and pictures under a Media heading. I’m not sure why this happened but I’m hoping there will be a fix or hack for this. Even under the Finder preferences, “Media” is not an option to view.

Preferences

Preferences

Preferences

Drop shadow change of course and if you look REAL close, you can see Tiger has lines all through the pane whereas in Leopard, the lines are gone for a much cleaner and sleek look. You’ll also see new icons for Expose, Time Machine, and Parental Controls along with a few “others” which I added.

BluetoothPref BluetoothPRef

Bluetooth preferences went through a major overhaul, but still no device uses for iPhone, hmmmm. Bluetooth is a LOT more friendly than it was before which is nice.

NetworkPref

NetworkPref

The network pane is also completely different and more user friendly than before. Forgive the Pixelmator stamps. I’m using the demo.

Adium Preferences

AdiumPref

The Adium preference pane is a great example of how Apple manhandled the design of all apps to look the same. There hasn’t been an Adium update for Leopard, but you can see the sleeker gray in Leopard along with the larger drop shadow. Also note the beveled select of the “appearance” in Leopard as opposed to a full button push of the button in Tiger. It’s little tweaks like that, that make Leopard pop. It’s a really professional but fun looking appearance.

All in all, Leopard makes the OS X interface more visually enhanced but other differences like preferences really make picking up the OS a lot easier. Stacks is a welcome addition that makes getting to programs and documents a lot easier and definitely reduces desktop clutter. The idea is so extreme that you shouldn’t even need your HD’s to appear on the desktop.

Stay tuned for more Leopard.

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Success and Stuff to Know about Leopard

October 27, 2007 Leave a comment

Sorry for the delay and lack of pictures. I still haven’t found the right program to update blogs from a mac while retaining my current blog, but I’m working on it. I had intended to write as I was updating. For some reason my Powerbook wouldn’t connect to my wireless router. By the time I gave up and hardwired it, Leopard was finished installing. The whole process from DVD insert to Leopard running to 45 minutes, probably take a few. It was insanely easy. I selected my language, Erase & Install, what to install bringing the size from 9GB to around 5GB and off it went. While I fumbled with my notebook, Leopard just sped away. Once the install was complete, I answered a few simple questions and I was taken to the desktop.

Presently, I have everything back on the computer I had before, but I still haven’t tried out all the features like Time Machine and Spaces. So what do I think so far? As I guessed, I’m not a huge fan of the menubar. I can still see the background through it even though Firefox is occupying the rest of the screen (this will all look make a lot more sense once I have some photos up). The Finder added a lot of stuff and even took some stuff away. Music, movies, and photos are no longer standard Finder sidebar items. I don’t get it. However, when importing from iTunes, the iTunes finder shows music and movies. There must be some work around and I don’t remember reading anything about this change even though other posted photos show these missing as well. I’ll be sure to add more on this later.

I had a chance to play with stacks a little bit and I even added a stack for applications. If you do this as well, you HAVE to keep something in mind. When the apps folder is dragged to the stacks area of the desktop, it copies the icons’ image as they are. If you add an application to the Macintosh HD, the stack will update but the icon for the app in stacks will not. You will have to delete the stack and then add it again. I smell an Apple fix on this one some time. I was freaking out a little bit, but I got it to work correctly. So far I have had one program NOT work with Leopard and that is the Gas Widget. It appears in dashboard but it is not working. It’s just saying 000 9/10. At least 9/10 is guaranteed to never change.

Coverflow and Quickview work perfectly. I can tell that I will be using these a lot. Coverflow does tend to move rather quickly with the side-scrool function on my mouse so I have to do it carefully, use the arrow, or turn down my scrolling speed. It’s amazing to see an application exactly as it is without having to open it. I even found some files I made in college that make absolutely no sense because Coverflow and Quicklook offered me a preview ahead of time. I can’t wait to see what else came across. I was able to reinstall iLife from my restore discs that came with my Mac Pro. I actually only installed iPhoto since it’s all I really use. I’m a Final Cut guy for movies. Stay tuned for more as I work with Leopard and discover new apps. I will be sure to add pictures as soon as I can.


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It has Sharp Claws!

October 26, 2007 Leave a comment

Well not so far at least. Leopard arrived around noon today. Unfortunately for my co-worker, he was “not available” to sign for his package. Turns out they tried to deliver it to his billing address instead of his shipping address. Leopard arrived in a nice, sleek package with a pretty neat hologram on the cover along with some of the major additional features on the back. Apple has adopted a minimalist approach to packaging over the past year due to pressure from a number of outside sources.

I should begin the install process around 7:30 or so tonight and it could take a couple hours to get everything installed and running perfectly again. So there has to be a few things I’m not excited about, right? I can’t be a total slave to the machine. In Windows, I hide the taskbar; in OS X I hide the dock, but I would really love to hide the menu bar as well. For Leopard, Apple has made the menu bar translucent. If they’re going to make it see-thru, why not make it come with the preference to hide it. I rarely ever use the menu bar anyway. I know most of the keyboard shortcuts for preferences and hiding. There are 3rd party applications that will hide it, but cost $5. Mmmmm that’s ok.

I also don’t like the look of the new icons in the finder. There’s kind bland and two dimensional. I wish I had a screen shot for you but I don’t at the moment. I’ll post one soon. One of the first things I will do is hit up InterfaceLIFT once I have everything else installed. Changing icons in OS X is the easiest thing ever and I will show you how to do that once I get things up and running.

I have a feeling there will be a number of things added in 10.5.X updates such as the ability to change the style preferences on the menu bar and the ability to sync notes from Mail to the iPhone. Apple did eventually give us the ability to use QuickTime in full screen mode without paying for a professional version, so they will on occasion listen to their consumers. Tiger also didn’t sync well via Bluetooth to the iPhone in my experience so I’m hoping the Bluetooth will be revamped enough in Leopard to be more user-friendly. Apple was the first company to adopt Bluetooth after all.

I know this isn’t every exciting now but stayed tuned as the day goes on.

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Out For Delivery

October 26, 2007 Leave a comment

I am patiently awaiting my copy of Leopard to arrive and I’ve had to do a lot of soul-searching over the past 24 hours. As you have remember, I created a post about the sales of Leopard at my local university. Students will have to pay $83 for the software. I received an email later in the day saying Faculty and Staff (me) will be able to purchase Leopard for $20. That’s right…$100 less than I paid for it. I was then left with the decision to keep my copy and install it this weekend or send it back and wait to snag it for $20. I was pretty set on sending it back.

It was until this morning that I decided to go ahead and keep the copy I ordered from Apple and should be arriving around noon, if FedEx delivery status can be trusted. What solidified this decision was my commitment to this blog and to anyone who may regularly check back for information. I promised you I would give you a review as soon as I could along with other related articles and I intent to do just that…assuming everything goes smoothly. I’m sure my friends are going to call me stupid but I want to be taken seriously as a blogger and I don’t want to lose my credibility. So stay tuned for the next few days. I will to have my PowerBook next to me during the process so I may keep you updated up the minute during my installation on my Mac Pro.

I often find installations of any kind stressful no matter how easy they go so it might make for some good color on the blog.

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University Licenses (Ohio University at Least)

October 25, 2007 1 comment

After about a week of waiting, I finally received word from Ohio University’s licensing department as to when, where, and how much Leopard will cost for students and faculty. There has been a lot of debate as to what universities will be offering, and I have to say I’m a little relieved. I paid the Apple discount of $116 and OU will be offering the software for $83 so not that big of a loss.

image

Although, it seems OU will be offering boxed copies, whatever that is. I emailed the department again to see what that means because I don’t think anyone will understand it. My guess is students will be receiving burned copies, but again I’m not sure. If that’s the case I will be even more relieved because I want an official copy which will justify the extra $33. If your university has a different plan, I would love to hear about it.

As of this post, my order still has not shipped, but I do expect to have it tomorrow.

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