EMI considering publishing music as MP3, unprotected

February 9, 2007

EMI is said to consider publishing music as MP3, without any protection or technical restrictions whatsoever. Nice :-)

What does this mean for you and me? That means that you can purchase music from EMI, and then play it on your computer afterwards. Nothing new in that. But you can also play it on your iPod. Nothing new in that. But you can also play it on ANY MP3 player! OK, you can actually do that with music purchased from iTunes Store as well, but it takes 5-10 minutes extra… I’ll be happy to share with you later how to do it, it’s actually easy, requires no extra software, free and legal!

Does that you’re free to distribute it as you please? No, of course not, the laws works the same way for MP3s as with CDs; the owner of the record can’t give it out to everybody, which is logical; how would artists and record companies survive?

I’ve made a choise a while ago; I pay for my music. But I think CDs are too expensive, so I buy mostly from iTunes Store, because I want the quality artists that gives me so much should get something back, like Iron Maiden (they’re actually in EMI’s stable), Dream Theater, Alanis Morissette, U2, Rage etc., etc.

This is good news for us consumers, but it still remains to see whether EMI actually will release everything DRM free. And if EMI does it, perhaps others will follow…


Backup program for Mac: MimMac

February 9, 2007

MimMac

I’ve allready started the series about backing up, but thought I’d digress a bit here, by recommending my software of choise when it commes to backing up to harddisks — MimMac.

MimMac is written by Ascendant Softworks, and is a beautiful, little application. It’s very good at what it’s supposed to do (backing up to harddrives or similar).

MimMac screen shotMimMac is used by selecting the drive or folder you want to backup and then you select whatever you want to be excluded from the backup. You also select how MimMac should treat your files and folders, i.e. if you want to be alerted if something goes wrong. And this particular feature is what first drew me to this software, as many programs hangs (deliberately) or crashes (not deliberately) whenever they encounter an error; I don’t want that to happen, I want the software to backup all files and folders that it possibly can, and then, afterwards tell me what it had problems with! Why? Because some backups can take a very long time, and I don’t want the backup to hang after two minutes because of an error, it’s better to fix that afterwards. Otherwise I would have to sit and supervise the whole process.

It is not suited for backing up to optical media, such as CDs and DVDs, although it is possible. Possible, but cumbersome… It’s not what it’s designed for.

I use it for backing up my entire MacBook harddrive, and selected folders on three other external drives, which is very easy to set up in MimMac. I will describe the philosophy behind this in the next post about backing up. But it works like a charm!

The only draw back is that you can’t automate it to happen for instance at night (when I’m not using the computer), but I find that not to be significant, as it only takes me 5-10 seconds to start the backup whenever I’m done using it, and updating a backup of 150-200 GB only takes 15-20 minutes.

But what does it cost? You can have the 900k downloadable application at an impressively low price of USD 10!!! It’s actually embarrassing to even consider to get a pirate version!

When the trial period ended, I went ahead and purchased two licenses, since I’m backing up two computers at home.

Highly recommended!


iPod Shuffle in four new colors

January 30, 2007

iPod Shuffle in 4 new colors

Apple today showed the new iPod Shuffles, which are now available in four new colors.

You can have any color with 1 GB storage, which should hold about 240 songs at 128 kbps, at USD 79.


Adobe is giving away .PDF!

January 30, 2007

After several years of refining one of the most important document formats, Adobe has decided to hand it over to AIIM, to make it an ISO standard.

PDF (short for Portable Document Format) is a format that is supported on several platforms, and a PDF file will allways look the same, no matter what operating system it is displayed on. You can also limit printing capabilities. A PDF document can also contain forms. It is a very popular format to store scanned documents in, and can be considered to be a “printed” document, just digital. PDF documents can also have links to both internal pages and regular hyperlinks.

Very often documentation is given in PDF documents. Mac OS X is relying heavily on PDF, as the graphics on the screen is in fact PDF. PDF is a native format for Mac OS X.

OpenOffice.org, an open source office applications suite, also have PDF support built in.

Via a printer driver, either from Adobe (Adobe Print Engine) or others, any print capable applications can make PDF documents.


YouTube to share the wealth?

January 29, 2007

According to MacWorld, YouTube is considering paying for content.

YouTube‘s Char Hurley says that they didn’t start with paying for content when they started up because they feared that people would just switch to which ever provider offered the best money.

As we all know, YouTube now has a decent momentum, to say the least.

OK, being paid for uploading original videos is exciting enough, since you can hopefully get a little cash for showing the world how bad you are at ice skating etc.

But doesn’t this also open up for more commercial stuff as well? I think so.

For a long time music videos, for instance, were free, but then they were charged for as well. Now it’s entirely possible to gain revenue from having ones video played, and that without transferring any ownership to the watcher! I think all parties will gain from that.

But the new, and incredibly exciting thing is something entirely new… YouTube have been working on a, in this context, new technology to recognize music via fingerprint technology. Whenever dad’s uploading videos of his soccer playing daughter outdoing Wayne Rooney, and adding the Queen’s “We are the champions” soundtrack, Queen actually get paid from YouTube, and refrain from suing dad!

Now, here we’re talking about a company that’s willing to try new ways to get everybody happy without suing anybody!

The record industry, on the other hand, will probably be skeptical until they actually receive the cash, as they are, in general,  stuck in the stone age. Damn, I’m sure they’ll even complain then as well, because they’re sure they should have even more money…

Kudos to YouTube,  **** you to the record industry for not even trying to be friendly with the people who actually pay for their BMWs — the customers!


Backup! Now! Part 1 — using DVDs and CDs

January 29, 2007

DVD

I’ll just say it at the very beginning; if you don’t backup, do it — today!

Everybody knows how important it is to backup your data, but most people actually don’t do it. According to Apple, only 4 % maintain proper backups.

I’ll try and give you easy-to-understand-and-follow tips here. Things that you actually can use. This will be a series of articles about backup.

Today we’ll start with… …starting. Get us going.

First of all let’s start with the most important things, that won’t cost you too much:

Backup you pictures
There is probably nothing you’ll miss more after a devastating fire or theft than you pictures. You’ll easily live without your couch, your TV (yes, you can ;-)) and your cutlery. Your insurance company will replace it for you! Your silverware is probably a bit worse, esp. if it has been in you family for generations. But most important is your pictures; it’s your memories!

How do you backup fast and inexpensively? With a DVD or a CD burner. If you have a DVD burner, use DVDs, as they provide more storage space, and they’re mostly less inexpensive than CDs when comparing cost/megabyte. If you use re-writable DVDs, you can re-use your DVDs (same goes for CDs).

If you can fit everything on a single DVD
If you can fit everything on a single DVD, it’s very easy; just burn (= record) it, and you have a complete backup! The next thing to do, is to store it outside your home. If you have somewhere to lock it up at work, do so. If you have a box in you local bank, nothing will be safer. Or at your parents’. Just make sure it’s not too far from room temperature and dry.

The next thing to do is to do it again. How often will depend on how often you add photos or change your pictures. I would make a new backup as soon as you add something important to your library, which normally means every time you adds something… Just burn a new DVD, and store it with the first one. When you have 5 DVDs you can start re-using them, if you us re-writable DVDs.

If you can fit everything on a few DVDs
Very often DVD recorders come with good programs, such as Easy Media Creation Suite (Windows) or Toast (Mac). There are many more good programs for both Mac, Windows and Linux, these are just good examples.
Toast 8

What’s nice about these programs, is that they enable you to span backups across several DVDs or CDs! That means that if your total amount of data exceeds the size of a single disk, the program will split them for you, without you having to do anything but changing the disks. Nice :-) And the next time you want to make a backup, the program will only backup the files that have been changed or added, saving you a lot of time!

When using this options, you can can easily make a backup of your entire My documents folder (Windows) or the Home folder in your Mac or Linux system. But DO exclude videos, if you have a large video collections, otherwise you’ll spend an eternity swapping disks! If you have a few tenths of gigabytes of movies or more, DVDs are not suitable.

If you can’t fit everything on a few DVD
Then it’s time for an external hard drive… We’ll talk more about this option later in this series, as this option also have a lot of other possibilities and implications as well.

Gmail
If you use a mail applications, you’ll want to make a backup of your mail. If you use something like Gmail or Hotmail, Google and Microsoft (respectively) will make a backup for you. Use the help function in your mail program to show you where your mail is located. It should reside inside your My documents folder (Windows) or the Home folder in your Mac or Linux system. If it doesn’t you should move it there, and again consult the help function in your mail program. Mac and Linux users rarely have to consider this.

You’ll also want to make a backup of your other documents, such as letters, invitations, all your spreadsheets and text documents. These should be located inside your My documents folder if you use Windows, and Mac- and Linux users should store all documents inside their users Documents folder.

What NOT to backup
It’s important to know what to backup, but it is equally important to know what NOT to backup, otherwise you’ll spend your life swapping DVDs. I promise you, it’s only fun the first 250 times you swap…

If you use Windows or Linux, making backups of you applications is actually futile, as the most probably won’t work when you try to copy them back (also called “restore”). On a Mac it will almost always work, but make sure you make it a separate backup cycle, as applications tend to take a lot of space. On any operating system you might as well re-install everything from scratch — you don’t have to do that on Macs, but you’ll save yourself the trouble of swapping DVDs.

When you backup your home folder on Linux or Mac, you will also retain all preferences in your programs, but on Windows you’ll have to expect to spend some time after you’ve re-installed your software on setting your preferences.

As earlier mentioned, DON’T backup a large movie collection in the same backup as the rest, rather do that separately.

Don’t backup your system on DVDs, as you can re-install it from CDs or DVDs (you should keep those disks when you purchase your system or download it, you know ;-)).

One final word on backup applications… Check places like Versiontracker for software that meets your needs, and read the users comments on the software, as it can aid you in finding the right application for you. You’ll want the right application, not necessarily the cheapest application, and your don’t want to pay for features you don’t need.
Next time we’ll discuss using hard disks for backup.

But start backing up today, it’s easy!


Humor – it’s Friday! — Fun in the air

January 26, 2007

Everybody knows that hardly anybody pays any attention to the safety procedures that’s presented before every flight, and nobody knows that better than the crew onboard…

Here are a few examples from USA:

“As we prepare for takeoff, please make sure your tray tables and seat backs are fully upright in their most uncomfortable position.”

“There may be 50 ways to leave your lover, but there are only 4 ways out of this airplane…”

 
 
 

“Your seat cushions can be used for floatation, and in the event of an emergency water landing, please take them with our compliments.”

Unpopular smokers
“We do feature a smoking section on this flight; if you must smoke, contact a member of the flight crew and we will escort you to the wing of the airplane.”

“Smoking in the lavatories is prohibited. Any person caught smoking in the lavatories will be asked to leave the plane immediately.”

Childish behavior
“Should the cabin loose pressure, oxygen masks will drop from the overhead area. Please place the bag over your own mouth and nose before assisting children or adults acting like children.”

“As you exit the plane, please make sure to gather all of your belongings. Anything left behind will be distributed evenly among the flight attendants. Please do not leave children or spouses.”

Pilot – “Folks, we have reached our cruising altitude now, so I am going to switch the seat belt sign off. Feel free to move about as you wish, but please stay inside the plane till we land… it’s a bit cold outside, and if you walk on the wings it affects the flight pattern.”

Heard on a flight with Southwest Airlines:
“Welcome aboard Southwest Flight XXX, to YYY. To operate your seatbelt, insert the metal tab into the buckle, and pull tight. It works just like every other seatbelt, and if you don’t know how to operate one, you probably shouldn’t be out in public unsupervised.

In the event of a sudden loss of cabin pressure, oxygen masks will descend from the ceiling. Stop screaming, grab the mask, and pull it over your face. If you have a small child travelling with you, secure your mask before assisting with theirs. If you are travelling with two small children, decide now which one you love more.

Weather at our destination is 50 degrees with some broken clouds, but they’ll try to have them fixed before we arrive. Thank you, and remember, nobody loves you, or your money, more than Southwest Airlines.”


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