Hmm.. Russell just received his Star Wars trilogy set, I feel like I should get it too, it was just 29.99 at WHSmith’s on the day of the release and is only 26.99 on Amazon right now. I was seriously expecting it to be much much more expensive than that, though I am glad it isn’t. I never managed to watch any of the movies as a kid, they were never to be found anywhere. It was only about 7 or 8 years ago when I was in Cyprus that I watched them properly. I do believe the new movies suck though Episode II was definitely better than I.
I almost completely missed the rumour that Google is thinking about creating it’s own browser, namely gbrowser. That should be interesting, though I still haven’t managed to get a gmail.com account. Google has hired away a few people from Microsoft who used to work on IE. Jason Kottke has more on it, and apparrently Anil Dash thought it was a good idea last year Good call.
Kasia has compiled a good security checklist against the recent spate of ssh attacks. If you don’t know about this attack, read your log files, particularly the auth.log files and if you see repeated attempts to login as root, guest, test, etc then someone is trying to break into your system.
Take a look at her checklist here
Regarding my comments on MSN Music and the lame comments by some people, Daring Fireball has made some interesting observations on the help site for MSN Music. Microsoft claim that Apple’s store uses a proprietary format and it is difficult to use the store with the 70 other standard music players on the market. Interesting spin, though as is pointed out in the post, those 70 or so other players also work only with WMA or MP3. In the case of Apple, the iPod only works with AAC and MP3. So both are DRM-encumbered, but, Microsoft makes a really big spin on it and makes the iPod look like the beacon of incompatibility.
The only format of music you can buy on the MSN Music store will be DRM-enabled WMA. Most players that support Windows will play only this format plus maybe MP3. The MSN Music store only works in IE and uses ActiveX. So who’s being incomptible with everyone else here? Apple makes iTunes available for both Mac and Windows and people have even been able to play the stuff in Linux as AAC is a standard format, unlike WMA which requires you to get the Windows DLLs from somewhere to play in Linux. Anyways, enough of this rivalry. They both have their limitations and lock-ins. Let the best man win. I have a feeling Microsoft might eventually take the lead again somehow because they have deeper pockets and most people who get Windows with their PCs will not know any better to go out of their way to buy music from Apple. Yes I know Apple is the leader in online music sales right now, but for how long?
I uploaded a bunch of older entries from my weblog yesterday and it is really striking to me how much more funny and free-spirited I used to be back in 1999 Staying awake everyday until 3:00 am, reading a lot of technical books, documentation, eating a lot, watching a lot of movies. All my older entries have a much funnier streak. I hope I don’t lose what I have left as I get older.
I haven’t tried it yet, just browsed around a bit looking for songs by Billy Joel and Pearl Jam, for instance and I did find both. I had to wait quite a while for iTunes to add Billy Joel and Pearl Jam still has a paltry selection on iTunes from what I can see so far.
Robert McLaws loves the new music store but says several things that just don’t make sense, first of all why the fuss about iTunes being a fat client versus the web-based MSN music store? I love the iTunes interface and the way that Apple have integrated song playback, cd burning, music purchasing, etc into the client is just seamless. I also think the quote about having to download the fat client is useless as it’s really no big deal to download it and it installs without a hassle. If he’s complaining about people who are on dial-up or something like that, then I don’t think they will have a lot of fun downloading music in the first place let alone iTunes.
One of his other points is that Apple is locking in customers to it’s proprietary AAC format. First of all AAC is NOT proprietary. It is based on an established and openly published standard (mp4 i think I haven’t checked). The DRM aspect of Apple’s AAC is something that Apple have themselves added to it to please the music industry. So who is the proprietary format here? WMA!! Windows is really the one that is locking it’s customers into a proprietary Microsoft-only format.
I’ve also read that songs purchased from the MSN music store will be 160 kpbs VBR (variable bit-rate – which is good). This has been used to assert that since Apple’s AAC is only 128 kbps, it must be inferior, but this is not the case. These codecs are different and even though 160 is a higher number, it is still possible for Apple’s AAC to sound just as good as WMA. The only way to really find out is to listen to it in person and from what I have heard from the Apple store so far AAC sounds absolutely superb, but we’ll see about WMA, I will try it out soon. I don’t think I will be able to tell much difference personally.
Note that I’m not anti-Microsoft, it’s just that I think those comments by Robert are way off. MSN Music doesn’t even have Audiobooks yet or Gift Certificates for kids or even iMixes. I do have a feeling that Microsoft will catch up soon, though and then perhaps once again Apple will have innovated only to have someone else out-do them. Is it possible? Yes, very, but only time will tell.
Larry Osterman has written a brilliant post about his 20 years at Microsoft. He’s been through so many changes and reorganizations at Microsoft, he’s basically witnessed the whole of the personal computer revolution and it’s repercussions. I suppose a lot of others have as well, but in any case his write-up is superb:
I still have the letter that Microsoft sent me confirming my job offer. It’s dated January 16th, 1984. It’s formatted in Courier, and the salary and stock option information is written in ink. It’s signed (in ink) by Steve Ballmer. The offer letter also specifies the other benefits; it’s not important what they are. I also have Steve’s business card his job title? VP, Corporate Staffs. Yup, he was head of HR back then (he did lots of other things, but thats what his title was). I also have the employee list they gave out for the new hires, as I said before; there are only about 600 people on it. Of those 600 people, 48 of them are still with Microsoft. Their job titles range from Executive Assistant, to UK Project Troubleshooter, to Architect, to Director
Discovered Metroblogs today, and I quite like the London one, despite all the criticisms levelled at it in the comments. I’m sure it’ll improve in time. It’s made me think about going to the London Wetlands and the Thames Barrier Park.