Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Terribly behind

At least that's how I feel at the moment. The internet has been buzzing for a couple of days about the Lost finale and I've yet to see it. What can you do when you live in such a terribly backwards country as I do. Well, not terribly backwards actually. At the same time as we get these kind of things long after the internet has deemed it ancient history we still get things like mobile broadband without traffic limitations.

Which is something that kind of brings me to the topic of this post. I currently work in tech support for an ISP and so I spend my time together with a bunch of other geeks trying my very best to answer questions from regular people. What strikes me as a bit odd is that people set up these fancy network solutions at home but they still have no idea how to configure their router ... and I mean none at all. This is however something that makes me wonder why I myself doesn't have some fancy network solutions at home.

I do have a 100/10 Mbps connection so I could very well run a web server at home, after all I know how to configure it and set it up. I could also have a NAS running to provide me access to what ever I might want when I'm out running around. After all I have an Android phone fully capable of utilizing such a thing.

I recently came to the conclusion that I might very well be a class A geek but at the same time my other interests prohibit me from spending the time and money it would take to set all these things up for the odd chance that I might wonder around and feel a terrible need to update my music library on my phone without using Spotify ... which probably would never happen anyway. Of course I could rip my DVDs and stick them on a NAS so I could stream them to my phone but then again I could just bring the ones I want with me when I go on holiday. Or I could even just experience the place and the people were I go.

So the bottom line is that while I feel terribly behind when I talk to people about these things daily I at the same time don't feel a bit behind on those points but rather extremely behind in taking the next step towards the next new experience in my own life.

Thursday, 15 April 2010

Twitterfeed part 2

A while back, or if we should be really honest I should probably say a few years ago, I fiddled around with a service called Twitterfeed. Which essentially is a service that 'automagically' link your blog feed (as an example) to Twitter, among other things. I even wrote a quick note about it on this blog. I came to talk to a mate of mine about this the other day as he's a politician and it's an election year over here. We spoke about web presence and the lack of it that his party has according to a study that was published in a Swedish tech paper (NyTeknik). This lead to some activity from his part in his party on a local level which I guess is a good thing but it also lead me to look into it again too ... which is far more important, or possibly not depending from which point you view the world I guess.

Either way, it would seem that Twitterfeed has come a long way from where it was a few years ago. For one thing the interface is much better and for an other they have made the service a bit more dynamic so you can link it to more social networking tools then just Twitter and it also seems to accept a few different type of feeds now which, from what I can remember, it didn't do earlier. So it would seem that it is time to start using it again ... now if I only updated my blog a bit more often.

To make this post completely incomprehensible lets move back to the subject of benefit or not with linking feeds to Twitter and using Twitter. I know people speak against using Twitter as a sort of megaphone or billboard and instead believe that Twitter should be used as a way to start or keep a dialog going. I have to say that I totally agree with those people, so people that only use their Twitter accounts to link blog feeds will eventually end up with absolutely nobody following them on Twitter. Thus completely killing the purpose of linking the feed to Twitter to begin with. However I also do believe that a feed linked to Twitter can generate debate if used correctly. Which is why I do believe Twitterfeed has an essential purpose to fill for us that can't be bothered to code the whole thing ourselves.

Saturday, 3 April 2010

A tiny update

I must admit that I blushed a little when I noticed a link to this blog on a mate's site. Especially considering that I haven't updated this site in about 6 months. Somebody less stubborn than me would probably come to the conclusion that if I haven't updated this site in 6 months time I really should just abandon it all together but I'm afraid I'm way to stubborn for that. So instead I'll bore you with yet an other update.

To the surprise of some people I've actually been employed for the past 10 months. I've been spending my time trying to help customers of an ISP understand why they don't have any internet at the moment amongst other things. Of course most of that time is spent tearing my hair out trying to get people to understand some basic things about how computers and adsl connections actually work and that 90% of the time it's because their equipment at home is broken and not because the ISP is an evil money grubbing devil that tries to make their lives miserable.

But while I'm not doing that I've tried to get a better grip on computer networks. That is also what led me to my mate's site since I was looking into easy and secure ways to communicate with my home computer while I'm out and about. My main objective was to get a somewhat dynamic solution so I wasn't bound to one single program since I then would be limited to waiting for that program to support the system I'm currently on. So I checked out his article on 'VNC over SSH' which is exactly what I was looking for. Even if I'd have preferred a solution where I only needed one program to achieve what I was looking for. This solution however means I can connect a Linux/Windows/Mac or what ever system to my home box in a secure manner without making any changes to the setup on my home system. An other good thing is that it even allows me to connect my Android phone to my home system.

Well, that's what I've been doing lately. Well that and being horribly bad at keeping in touch with my friends and family as usual, sorry about that everybody. I'll try my best to get my head out of the sand soon actually go visit people.

Thursday, 17 September 2009

Church Elections in Sweden

In Sweden we have church elections on the 20th of September. This means that everybody that is a member of the Swedish Church has a chance to decide who will lead the Swedish church. "Representatives are elected directly to the Parish Assembly or Parish Council in parishes, to the Association Vestry in an association of parishes, to the Diocesan Council in dioceses and to the General Synod at the national level." (taken from svenskakyrkan).

People that know me will of course ask themselves why the heck I'm blogging about this since I'm most definitely not a church goer nor am I a believer but something that might be less well known is that I, just like a large majority of other Swedes, am still a member of the Swedish Church. We are about 9 million people living in Sweden and out of those 9 million over 5.5 million are a member of our church. One reason for this is most likely that when you are baptised in Sweden you automagically become a member of the church and in 2007 the number of children that were baptised were record breaking low but that still meant that 62.3% (link in Swedish) of the children were baptised. So while a majority of us are still becoming members (most likely because our parents think the cermony around the baptism is nice) most of us can't be arsed to leave the church or have other reasons for not wanting to leave it. Personally I don't believe in god nor a higher power but I do believe in heritage and history and my member fee that I pay through my tax because I'm a member goes to pay for the upkeep of all the churches we have around the country and it also pays a bit towards my grave for when that day comes. Not that I think I need a grave personally but since I enjoy visiting graves of my relatives that has passed away to reminisce about them I want people that I leave behind to have the ability to do the same in case they would like to. But I digress.

So why am I writing about this? Well it's as simple as that I watched the news this morning and they were talking about how few of the 5+ million people that are allowed to vote in the election actually do vote. I only found numbers from Lund where apparently only 11% of the people allowed to vote actually voted last time around (article in Swedish). The news this morning interviewed a priest and asked him why he thought so few people took part in the elections and he thought it's because people think the church is old, stuffy and boring. Others that participate in the elections seem to think that people in general think it's to political so they have formed sections that don't have any political ties what so ever and run in the church elections with those. Both of these things might help get more people involved in the church elections for all that I know but for me personally it won't make a difference at all. The only reason I don't vote in the church elections is that I just don't care. I'm all for keeping our old churches that has been around for hundreds of years (some getting close to a thousand years old, like this one) because they are a part of our history and our culture. But other than that they can do what ever they want in those buildings for all that I care. If they want to have rave parties in churches then go right ahead, if they want to have one priest that get all the money that are left over after the upkeep on the buildings are paid then go right ahead. The day that the churches fall apart and the priests grow to fat is the day I'll start caring about what they do and then I'll most likely work for the abolishment of the Swedish church and having the government take over as the caretaker of the Swedish churches. I will most definitely not start going to church just because you try to make it less old and stuffy, actually come to think of it that might even make me less inclined to go to church. Church to me has nothing to do with beliefs but a lot to do with traditions. And I don't mind saying a few prayers in church for the sake of tradition but I will most definitely not stand around and sing new cool tunes and I don't go to church to watch theatre ... I hardly go do theatres either for Christ sake.

So bottom line Swedish church, you don't want me to vote in your election so stop asking me to because you might end up making me not wanting to be a member just because you successfully pissed me off.

Saturday, 11 July 2009

Streaming services

I spoke with a collegue at work yesterday and found that a Swedish ISP (Bredbandsbolaget) is working together with a small company in Sweden to develop a movie streaming service (Voddler). The news (in Swedish) about it so far is that it will be similar to an other Swedish streaming service called Spotify. Which in my opinion would be great as I love Spotify. Something that is still lacking though is a streaming service for TV shows, there are of course a few in the US (Hulu is one good example) but unfortunately they are developed with a very national focus, as in they are only accessible from within the USA.

There are at least a few interesting things that spring to mind here. Firstly, why is Sweden the only country that seem interested in developing these services on an international scale. This is interesting to me as we are also currently considered to be the filesharing pirate haven of the world (because of The Pirate Bay) by the media conglomerates. Don't the companies in the US (as an example) understand that they miss out on a huge market by not developing these kind of services and streaming their content across the globe? As an example can be mentioned sites such as TV.com where TV show fans come and discuss shows and also try to stop the cancelling of shows such as Jericho the other year. The network gave the show an other chance but because the number of viewers were to few they still cancelled. What I don't think they understood is that most of the people that were against the cancelling of that show didn't show up in the sweeps for that show as they were most likely not watching the show legally for the simple reason that they couldn't.

An other interesting thing that ties in to the first one is why hasn't the actors and writers and people working in the business been pushing harder for services like these. Spotify pay the copyright holder every time a tune is played on their service. Think about it, every time somebody watches an old episode of ... Doogie Howser the service would pay the copyright holder for it. I bet Neil Patrick Harris wouldn't mind that (if he gets even a dime of it of course, what do I know?).

Anyway, here is at least one person eagerly awaiting a streaming service that I can stream both day old tv episodes and 20 year old tv episodes from mainly the American networks but also from UK networks and national networks. Because if it's one thing the Americans do well it's TV.

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

"Oldpapers" and digging journalism

I know this isn't really new stuff but I've been thinking about this for a while so thought I'd put pen to paper or maybe I should say fingers to keyboard, rather. Which is exactly what I've been thinking about, the problem that "old" media is facing.

I listened to a program on the radio about this a few weeks back and they mentioned an old teacher of mine when they spoke about the start of newspapers online in Sweden. His name is Mark Comerford and he was involved with starting up one of the more successful online newssites in Sweden, aftonbladet.se. The point of the radio show was that the problem newspapers face today is that they are expected to have an online version of their newspaper that should update almost hourly 24/7 but at the same time people in general don't want to buy newspapers. A newspaper in the southern part of Sweden (sorry I forget what it's called) even tried giving away newspapers to everybody between 25 and 35 but not even then did people want the newspapers. Personally I can fully understand it, being just under 35 myself and having no interest what so ever in a paper newspaper every morning. The problem the newspapers face is of course that the online versions doesn't come near the revenue levels of the paper version.

So the problem here is that nobody wants to pay for the news but we still want quality newsdistribution. Today we talk a lot about the power of the new media with blogging and all kinds of social networking tools and while these things are great when it comes to getting news about what is happening in countries like Iran, Honduras, China, etc but the problem with all these new tools is that the content in them are mostly produced by amateurs. So while yes it's good that we get news at all from places like the above but on the other hand should we really trust the news we get that way? And even though we might trust it one would at least expect it to be poorly written and not all that interesting to read and quite possibly also heavily biased.

The huge plus side of the old media industry such as our national newspapers is that they can afford (at least so far) to employ well educated people that can grasp the broader points of a specific aspect and then explain it in a well written and interesting way. At least that's one of the main reasons I still occasionally read newspapers but also the reason I watch TV shows with digging journalism and listen to these debate shows on the radio every now and then. Because I enjoy good journalism and news reported by somebody that knows what they are talking about.

Good journalism also makes it easier for me to take a piece of news and read, listen and watch it from several different sides through different kinds of media and from different political viewpoints depending on the journalist. If a piece of news is only reported by amateurs then the news might not even be recognizable when you go to a different source.

Many newspapers and similar news reporting companies around the (western) world speak about this problem right now and while I don't have a solution for the problem I do think it's slightly scary that all the news we consume in the future could be like the news we read in Aftonbladet (see above) or watch on CNN.

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

So well yeah ...

Ok, so it's been a while since I posted something on this site. One might wonder why but then one might not know me all that well. Fact is that I usually get into stuff at a 110% and burn the candles at both end just to burn out really quick. Granted I never really went into this blog thing at a 110% but at least I did post more than I was asked to at the beginning (I did after all start this blog because of a course I was taking at Uni).

Anyway, I recently started working as a 1st line Tech Support guy for an ISP in Sweden so at least things are happening. Unfortunately that also means that I've stuck my head into something new which further limits the chances of there being frequent updates to this blog. But I think I'll actually make an effort to do keep it updated a bit more frequent for the simple reason that I actually like the whole concepts of blogs.

But for now I'm going to go to bed early and read a book and then get up really freaking early to work.

Sunday, 26 April 2009

Why use Twitter?

I recently bumped into this question for possibly the 10th time in a pretty short time. When the question is posed by an every day person, just like me, you could actually answer the question with "why not?". Because if you already use other social networking tools such as Facebook or you already have a blog and on top of that already read and contribute to various online forums then what is the point? The honest answer is that there really is none. You usually create a Twitter account for the same reason that you create a Facebook account, start a blog, read rss feeds from sites that have things you're interested in, etc. Of course this only applies if you don't run a business, if you're a celebrity or for some other reason make your livelihood of the content you produce online, among other things.

That's just the simple answer though. There are of course 101 other reasons for a normal every day person to get a Twitter account. And the question that I bumped into recently was actually more precicely "What is the benefit of using Twitter if you already use Facebook?" so I thought I'd give the answer to that question here too.

Twitter and Facebook are two very different things and can't really be compared, if you ask me. Facebook is a way to keep in touch with old friends (that you long ago decided you didn't have anything in common with anyway, as some cynics would say) and share pictures, videos, interests and all sorts of other, potentially highly uninteresting and quite possibly unnecessary, things with. Twitter is a micro-blog. So instead of asking what the point is of using Twitter if you already use Facebook, you might ask what the point is of using Twitter if you're already blogging. The point would be that with Twitter you update more often and with shorter blurbs about both things that interest you or with what you do. Twitter poses the question "What are you doing?" after all. A lot of tweets (as a post on Twitter is called) are usually a link to content elsewhere instead of something you've written yourself.

Twitter is also a wonderful marketing tool, it's used by a lot of both people and businesses to give others a short update about their life or product/service. When I'm talking about people here I of course mean celebrities, as an example one of the people on Twitter that I follow is Stephen Fry, as he is a funny creative chap that is also very tech savy. He also used to be considered to have a lot of followers. Of course a competition recently put Ashton Kutcher at over 1 million followers (he's got an other over 400k followers since I checked his Twitter last). If you're interested in finding out who else has a large number of followers on Twitter than check out Twitterholic.com

So what would be the point for you or me to get Twitter? None really, it's just the same as with all these other social networking sites or cell phones for that matter. It's an invention that nobody really had a need for when it was invented but once you start using it you find that you can't really be without it. Well that might be a bit of an exaggeration but at least you might find that you enjoy reading blurbs both from your friends and from both organisations, businesses or celebrities. Personally I try to keep away from spammers though, there are some people that tweet 10+ times a day and quite frankly I don't think anybody anywhere lives such an interesting life.
Lastly I can say that the reason I use Twitter is because I'm always looking for things that can potentially bring a smile to my face and reading tweets from both my friends and celebrities has many times managed to do just that. My own Twitter feed can be found here if you for some odd reason would think that I might have anything interesting or funny to say.

Thursday, 16 April 2009

The Future of Internet or Democracy ends here.

Ok, it's almost been 5 months since I've posted something on this blog. Partly because I haven't had anything interesting to say and partly because what I've wanted to say I'm not so sure I want to put in black and white on the internet and this is what leads me to do just that.

As the topic together with the above suggests I've been thinking a bit about democracy, freedom of speech, personal integrity and of course file sharing lately. Since I live in Sweden there has been quite a lot about this in the news for the past 6 months or so. It started with FRA, or the National Defence Radio Establishment in Swedish, being allowed to monitor all communication through cables that passes the boarder of Sweden. Pretty much all communication in Sweden passes the boarder of Sweden at least once on it's way to it's destination so FRA basically was allowed to listen in on all Swedes no matter whether they are suspected of criminal activity or not. This was introduced on the 18th of June 2008, since then there has been a lot written about this and there are still people working against this law (great site for information about this, unfortunately only in Swedish, stoppaFRAlagen).

While discussing this and living in Sweden it's impossible to not mention The Pirate Bay. During the end of February the case against TPB was finally brought up in court and tomorrow (17th of April) the verdict will be delivered. I suppose most people, including myself, aren't all that interested in what the verdict will be as, at least, I'm sure this case will go through all the courts all the way up to the Supreme court of Sweden before it's settled. I'm no lawyer but for all I know it might even reach the EU court before it's over and done with.

Now you might wonder what this has to do with the future of internet. Well it has to do with the power of the corporations and the fact that some of these laws goes totally against what all we Swedes know about right and justice. Because while most of us (at least I think most of us, I don't have any numbers to point at as there are none that are scientific enough to point at as far as I know) agree that breaching the copyright law is wrong, we don't think that it's all ok for private interests or the government to have absolute power over our internet activities. Which I believe to be one of the main reasons TPB has recieved so much support and also one of the reasons why some people has started using TPB recently.

Two acronyms make me shiver every time I see them, IPRED and ACTA. Both of these has been pushed upon us by private interests wanting to protect their products and politicians both in the EU and in most of the western world seem to just give in to the demands and quite frankly I can only see one reason for them to do so and it's the usual one ... money. And to put the final nail in the democracy coffin we have the EU directive about storing of data, which of course also has seen a lot of backing from private interests across the pond. So in Sweden we now have a military organisation monitoring every move we make electronically and soon our service providers will also be forced to store every 1 and 0 we produce over a 12 month period (I believe the directive says 6-24 months and it's up to each country how long to store it, Sweden opted for 12 months).

I don't know how you define democracy but Wikipedia states
Even though there is no universally accepted definition of 'democracy', there are two principles that any definition of democracy includes. The first principle is that all members of the society (citizens) have equal access to power and the second that all members (citizens) enjoy universally recognized freedoms and liberties.
Equal access to power and enjoy universally recognized freedoms and liberties? As far as I know companies aren't citizens so I guess we still live in a democracy then. Sarcasm aside I personally believe access to internet is one of these freedoms and liberties that is mentioned above. Sure it might not be a universally recognized human right to have internet access but then in most of the western world everybody that want to have internet access can have it and in countries like Sweden many parts of the government take for granted that you have access to internet since if you don't it's pretty much impossible to communicate with them. So even though it doesn't say so in UN's universal declaration of human rights I still believe it to be one, at least if you live in the modern industrialized world. One I do believe in there though is the ability to freely say what you think without being afraid of prosecution. Monitoring everything we say (or do electronically) isn't really the best way to make sure we don't feel afraid of prosecution.

I guess I've made my point about democracy and the new laws and regulations now. Well maybe I should point out one more thing. In Sweden the new laws means that it's up to the accused to prove his or her innocence in the case anybody is accused for a breach against the copyright law, something that is totally unheard of in Swedish justice. Or wait a second, if you go back to the middle ages and look at the witch-trials you might find a similar way of prosecuting, at least according to André Rickardsson who used to work for SÄPO (Swedish Security Service) and today as an IT security expert at Bitsec. This is of course also the reason why I had to mention TPB earlier and the whole filesharing business at all as this is exactly what makes the big business happy when they try to get to people that may or may not breach the copyright law.

But on towards my point of this whole post. The future of the internet. Currently there is a new directive being pondered over in Brussels, it's an updated version of the Telecommunication law and again the lobyists from across the pond show up and push their agenda on the politicians that again seem to eat it all up. Of course we have lobyists from this side of the pond too that also want to see a better copyright protection. But the main issue here is whether we should let the internet be free and let anybody do what ever they want on there or whether we should control who and what has access to the internet. Of course crime should always be fought but in most countries in the EU we already have both laws in place to control this and police units specially trained to fight these crimes (be it computer crime or child pornography or what ever). Had the citizens pushed the government to fight copyright infringments I'm sure they would have marked money in their budgets for just that. What has been done in Sweden when these kind of problems has shown up earlier has been to simply add a tax on products used to copy copyrighted material and give that money to the copyright holder. So was done with cassettes as an example and there are several people that think that the best solution to the current internet piracy problem is to just add a tax on broadband to cover any losses the copyright industry might get from piracy. Problem there is that the big companies aren't the least intrested in this as it wouldn't give them the money but the money would end up in the pockets of the musicians, authors, script writers or what ever. It would also break the control the large corperations have over the market.

As you might realize by now I'm not very fond of the effect that the private businesses has on our politicians. Which is also something I believe will form how internet and internet access looks in the future. I'm sure that if the entertainment industry got their say all the way everybody that used the internet would have to pay them for just plain access first and then we'd also have to pay each time we wanted to listen to a song, read a book, watch a film or what ever. Any amateur content would be blocked as they wouldn't get a dime for something somebody without a contract with them made. Is that the kind of internet we want? An internet fully controlled by big business and the government, a web where we can't say what we think without the risk of being prosecuted for slander or undemocratic views?

Personally I view the internet a bit like a view our road network. They are both infrastructure used by a lot of people and in most cases we are still allowed to do what ever we want on them as long as it isn't a crime. In some cases we might need a special permission to do something on our roads and everybody is fine with that. So why not introduce a licens if you want to have a 100/100 Mbit connection, since after all you only need one if you want to download and upload large amount of data. But at the same time allow anybody with a 10/10 Mbit connection (10/10 since that allows you to use services like YouTube and the like with high quality) to do what ever they want within reason as that would be equalent of a pedestrian on a road. You could add to the licens that you allow the government to monitor your traffic same as is done by the police on our roads.

Just a suggestion and one that I think is reasonable. I do however think it's unreasonable to have a camera and microphone monitoring everybody everywhere, whether it's on the street, in their home or in the middle of the forest. That screams end of democracy to me and to see our politicians stand around talking about democracy and then classify negotiations about laws that has absolutely nothing to do with relations to foreign powers (CNET's story regarding this). Again something that is pretty much unheard of in Sweden, especially since this treaty has nothing to do with foreign powers or national security but all to do with copryright laws and big business.

And lastly a final example of what the monitoring of all communication can lead to. Since the beginning of 2009 the data storage law has been in effect in Germany which has lead to that some people don't dare to use the phone or email to contact psychologists and the like when they have a problem. In Germany 11% state that they have avoided to use the phone when they have needed to because they know the communication is being stored. In Sweden, which has one of the highest suicide rates in the world, this would in my opinion be disastrous.

Thursday, 11 December 2008

Warhammer Online:Age of Reckoning compared to Counter-Strike?

I've already written a review of this game but to be honest that was when the beta ended and the NDA was lifted so the game I'm playing today is very much different than it was back then. Of course the mechanics and all the other things are the same now as they were then but when beta ended I had little hope that this game would be able to compete with the, then upcoming, Wrath of the Lich King expansion to WoW. Today I must say I view this game completely differently.

I started playing WAR because a lot of my mates were saying how much fun they had with the game and I must say I envied them quite a bit especially considering several of them had played DAoC for, what in this business can be considered, many many years. So I bought the game not with the beta days in mind but with a hope that I could find a way to view the game in a different light and find a game that I could come to enjoy for many days to come.

Which is exactly what I did. I installed the game over a month ago and for an MMORPG I've played it very few hours since, maybe a couple of hours a day spread out over that time. A bit more during weekends or days I've had off from work but some days not at all. Which for me is a completely new thing when it comes to MMORPGs. If know me or have read other posts on this blog you will understand what I mean.

The big difference between WAR and other MMORPGs I've played is that I've had a completely different view on this game. I usually play MMORPGs as just that, a role play game with massive amounts of players. WAR I've played more like Counter-Strike (also called CS) though which might sound odd if you usually play MMORPGs. But the fact is that one of the things that made CS so popular was that you could jump into a game and play for 15-30 minutes and have loads of fun. Over time people started forming communities around the servers and so you got to recognize people and you started chatting and so friendships were born. Take this parallel and move it over to WAR and you have a game here too where you can jump on for 30 minutes or so and play pretty much for all of those 30 minutes against other players and in the meantime also chat with your buddies in your guild.

I realize that it might be hard to picture the similarities if you haven't played both games extensively or both genres extensively. But both things are there in my opinion, now lets just hope that Mythic succeeds with the other thing that made CS so successful and that is to cater to the newbies and not to the pros. Many FPS games has died because the developers listened to much to the professionals (or in MMORPG terms the power gamers), the developers of CS managed to not do that though and so the game had a steady flow of new gamers coming to the game.

So in conclusion, Warhammer Online:Age of Reckoning is a great game for those that want a game that they can get online with for about an hour and get some good game time during that time. There are of course other parts of the game that has much more in common with the classic MMORPG genre and much less with the classic FPS genre. But the parts that made CS so successful are also there and so, at least, this blogger hope that Mythic has found a concoction that will make this game live on for many years to come.

Friday, 5 December 2008

Spotify ... just wow

I recieved my invite for the free (but with ads) version of Spotify the other day and all I can say is wow.

For a person that love music but has a pretty low income I have been batteling with rising prices on music for years and so I've ended up listing mostly to internet radio and youtube to get to new music. It was probably almost 10 years ago that I actually bought a new album (except for the occassional gift for somebody). This is where Spotify comes in, at the moment I can listen to it free of charge and I can search through tons of tunes and listen to them how ever much I want. Only downside is that it's still a bit like listening to radio in that I get ads stuck in between the tunes.

Considering it's only about €10 per month (actually less now since it's 99 SEK wich is less than €10) for an ad free subscription I can definitely see me getting one as soon as Spotify moves out of beta, or more likely when I can afford it. So yes, Spotify is currently in beta but so far I haven't noticed it to be honest. I quite often use beta software (granted it's mostly computer games though) and most of them have bugs which prevents you from using them from time to time. However this flows really good and I've yet to have any issues what so ever with it. Although I haven't had a chance to try it on any other device than my stationary computer which is running Windows.

Anyway, one can only imagine how companies that still want to sell tunes for €1 or more with heavy drm protection can survive when services like this show up. As long as I have an internet connection, a device able to connect to it and the ability to produce sound I can now get to all my favourite tunes. Which pretty much means if I have a phone. So in the words of a famous American General, all I have to say to the big record labels that hasn't caught on to the fact that the market is changing yet is ... Nuts!

Oh and one last thing, Spotify seems only to be available to the Swedish market so far but hopefully they'll open it up to the rest of the world soon enough.

Friday, 21 November 2008

Scratching the "Web"-itch

My internet connection has been down for the past 48 hours and while I have lived without an internet connection since I first got one at home back in 2001 this is one of the first times I have really felt what has to be described as an itch to get online. I can only conclude that it has to do with the fact that while it has happened before (that something has broke down and I've been forced to live without connection for several days) I today spend a lot more time just browsing the web and utilize my connection in various ways. 

As an example I start each day by browsing a handful of newspaper sites while listening to 'SomaFM Indie Pop Rocks' and having my morning coffee. And I'm sure that most people that have a morning ritual that include reading a newspaper and listening to the radio feel that something is missing everytime they have to start the day without those things.

Most days I continue browsing the web for various entertainment news (be it games, music or films) and also other news sites. While I also browse a handful of different forums. Much due to the fact that I only work in the afternoon and night these days I have a lot of time to kill during the days. So after all this browsing I usually start on one of my many programming projects which includes browsing for more tips and tricks about how to solve specific issues I may or may not have.

So while one might consider me a bit of a web-oholic (if you catch my drift) I actually do something productive with my time infront of the screen ... at least some of the time :)

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

15 year old collapses while playing WoW

This past weekend a Swedish 15 year old boy collapsed in his home (or his parents home rather) after playing WoW for about 24 hours straight. He was brought to hospital and found to suffer from sleep deprivation and malnutrition. Here is a link to the Swedish newspaper 'Dagens Nyheter' that runs the story.

Now as a gamer myself I really have to ask, what the hell is wrong with his parents? To me it seems like they have failed with teaching the boy the simple art of staying alive. How hard is it to remember to drink and eat really? I have myself had sessions in front of the screen that has lasted for more than 24 hours and I have gamed so much that I have lost my appetite but I have never once collapsed or been in danger of it for the simple reason that even if I'm not hungry I know to eat and drink just because of the simple fact that I like living more than I like gaming. That does not mean I'm a fatty either, I'm about 185 cm short and weigh in at about 80 Kg. So it's not like I shovel in food while I game I do however stop to get to the kitchen and grab some food or drink.

Now I do realize that a game like WoW can be addictive and I do realize that a lot of people can have trouble detaching themselves from these games (it has been argued that I have had such problems). Also the research into how these games affect us are not really done but it would not surprise me if there is a chemical released by our body that affects us pretty much like a drug. But it still amazes me that you can go to the point of almost killing yourself just by sitting to long on your behind and looking at a screen. Actually that would be a lie, I do understand how and why that could happen but a 15 year old boy that does not seem to suffer from any sort of illness or anything like that. How does that happen?

This might all seem a bit harsh but for a person that has not been down the road of long gaming sessions. But if you have read about people dropping dead or collapsing because of gaming and do not understand it then I just want to say that I do not either and I am a gamer that periodically play so much that it would probably be considered unhealthy.

On an other note, the new WoW expansion (Wrath of the Lich King) has already been played through by a European raid guild. The content of the expansion will take most people months to go through and many of the WoW subscribers will never even finish the new raid instances. The guild, that is so far called, 'TwentyFifthNovember' went through the new instances within 68 hours and 30 minutes after release of the expansion. One can only assume that these people has also burned the light at both ends.

Saturday, 1 November 2008

Spotify - Streaming music For The Win!

I'm sure a lot of people has already noticed that Spotify has opened up to the public by now. It's a iTune-like thing that lets you browse through and listen to music from all over the world. However you only pay a relatively small subscription fee to get access to all this music. To me this sounds like the best way to combat piracy so far, granted that I've not red that much about the different ways to combat piracy when it comes to music.

Anyway, have a look for yourself over at Spotify to see what it's all about. Personally I don't see any reason for this to work very well for the guys that started it.