a better explanation for my anti-Sony position

(warning: Not Safe for Work) I’m tired of Sony’s bullshit.So like recently I bought myself a Samsung C140 to replace the dying Nokia 5110 I had been using since I lost my Nokia 2300 (see my mind-Dumpster for more details).

There are a few brand-new Sony Erricson cellphones that are available cheaper in the Indonesian market, and they do tend to have the best price-performance balance at least feature-wise. So naturally quite a few friends have on occations asked me, “so why don’t you buy a Sony?”

I would usually begin my answer with, “Ideological reasons.,” and they’d ask just exactly what I meant with that and I’d blabber on-and-on with technojargon and people would just get lost.

Well this guy IMHO has a better wrap-up of what exactly is wrong with Sony: “Sony hates their customers.”

Its a shame though, how the company that invented the Walkman and the Betamax could become so high-winded and fearful of the open market; how they’re so obsessed with lock-in. One would think that bringing in a foreign CEO like Howard Stringer would cause enough cultural change that the company would at least stop fearing their customers and stop demanding that the customer bend to the will of mighty Sony. Well Dude, you’re not mighty anymore. D’uh.

‘Mighty’ Sony didn’t come this far, becoming a gigantic multinational company, by being this anathema with their customers, did they? I’d imagine Sony’s success in the past to come more from their innovations. Maybe they are dreaming that they can create these must-have electronic toys, and these toys would be so wonderful that no-one would mind if they put in these locks and cages so that once you went with Sony you’ll be stuck with them forever amen.

It doesn’t work that way anymore. It hasn’t worked that way for a long time. How can Sony not realize that vendor lock-in does not work anymore? If you want user loyalty, you gotta begin with building trust. I don’t trust you, Sony, and that’s why I’m not buying you.

Get me to trust you again. Open up. Then maybe, just maybe I’d just consider at least peeking your way again.

Originally posted at the mind-Dumpster

FreeHand discontinued

Well, its been more than two months, so I’m pretty late in noticing that actually its only been about two weeks since the announcement was made that Adobe is discontinuing FreeHand. Or at least so says Adobe blogger I mean senior product manager John Nack.

Its time I get serious about learning InDesign, I guess… (while hoping that Scribus gets more stable).

More as time permits. Hopefully.

Netscape, the Chameleon

A random thought just crossed my mind: What if the new Netscape Browser offered not just the use of the Gecko web-rendering engine, but also Webkit?

After all, Webkit is being ported to Windows XP (albeit still in a very alpha stage). And Netscape has done it before with the previous version and included support for the native Internet Explorer engine (Trident). Hell, they can even include support for the new IE7 engine! And why stop there? Why not ask Opera for a .dll that they can link to? I mean, Opera is distributed freely, right? Add a little ‘powered by Opera’ button or something…

Now how ’bout that, a browser with which we can test the subjective rendering speed of all major web rendering engines, all from a single UI… Combine it with their Netscape.com Portal and they might even be tempted to claim “the most open[1] Web-browsing experience”…

I do realise that Netscape is trying for a multi-platform approach. So don’t include Trident in NB for Linux and NB for Max OS X (and you can’t anyway). Even using “alternative” operating systems, IMHO it would be good to see tighter competition between Webkit, KHTML and Gecko.

But I digress; subjective web-browsing speed depends on more than the layout engine chosen. The UI, the caching subroutines, server, bandwidth, etc… But still, wouldn’t it be cool to check out a multi-engine Web Browser?

[1]Notice I said open, not Open-source.

Mini-glossary:

  • Webkit is the layout engine behind Apple’s Safari web browser, the default web browser of current Apple Macintoshes.
  • The Web rendering engine / layout engine is the part inside Web browser that renders Web pages.
  • Gecko is the layout engine behind Firefox.
  • Netscape was the company which made the Netscape Communicator web-browsing application suite, which was the predecessor of the Mozilla Suite. It now lives as a division of
  • The Mozilla Suite was produced by the Mozilla Foundation, which later created Gecko and Firefox. It still lives as the Seamonkey application suite.
  • KHTML is the layout engine of the KDE Browser.
  • The blue letter-‘e’ is not the Internet.

To normal human beings: don’t hesitate to ask more additions to this mini glossary, if you feel that you need it. Just say so in the comments.

To alpha geeks: I’m trying to serve a certain audience here. One not primarily composed of you über-Guru computer wizards. One more composed of the humble, just-about-knows-how-to-use-Word type of audience. Oh and you’re more than welcome to add glossary entries in the comments. Or insults 😉

Epoq – Lepidoptera

Originally posted at my mind-Dumpster

For fans of the Ambient ‘category’ of ‘electronica’ (with full respect to the Ambient Community at large, for I am a self-confessed outsider/’poser’ if you will)

Have you ever imagined physically soft-sounding music that can physicaly hit you through sheer tempo dynamics, as how a typical System Of A Down song can physicaly hit you through sheer volume dynamics? Check out Epoq’s “Lepidoptera,” an Ambient song as genuinely ambient as an outsider can judge a song to be Ambient, which hits you with an uppercut to the abdomen on your first listen with a beat so mesmerisingly… dizzying (which is the best word I can think of right now).

(Anybody out there knows at what time its actually composed? 9/16? 17/22? 22/7? Anybody? Maybe Epoq himself?) (Or it may just be that I’m too dumb musically to get the tempo (sigh))

Discovery courtesy of the Kahvi Collective, through the Vorbis.com music samples archive.

Fair Warning: this song is encoded in Ogg Vorbis, visit Vorbis.com for details on how to enable Ogg playback on your computer, wether Windows, OS X, or
UNIX/Linux based.

In a nutshell (a very crushed and disfigured nutshell, I might add), if you use Windows, to listen to .Ogg audio files you install the 800kb Ogg Codecs for Windows, courtesy of Illiminable.

Or, you can just use Winamp :o)

(more imaginative people, please inform us of more enlightened alternatives to the above methods)

DVD Jon’s DoublePlay and alternative media players. And the accursed DBSL

In reply to Ars Technica’s Infinite Loop regarding DVD Jon’s DoublePlay, a venture to turn bypassing Apple’s Fairplay DRM into a business:

The second issue, making it possible to play songs purchased from the iTunes store on ugly, brown media players would definitely seem to violate the DMCA.

But would it still be considered illegal DRM circumvention if Jon implements it as a way to play legally purchased songs on non-Apple players?

What if as opposed to removing Fairplay from iTunes downloads, Jon implements a way for non-Apple media players to check for digital signatures already in users’ iTunes installation, and use the signatures to play back said media?

In a way, replicating how iPods interact with iTunes without removing in-media DRM and using independently developed non-Apple code

The real question isn’t even whether Apple Legal will “test” this in court, but whether there are any companies that want to be Johansen’s guinea pigs.

If one would suppose that we now live in the Bubble 2.0 era, could one not imagine this question as not being so rhetorical? Perhaps by selling DoublePlay as a high-risk, high-return investment; a ticket to enter the highly lucrative iTunes market? New players would be competing not with iTunes, but with iPods.

Alternative players can either compete with iPods on physical design, on features, or on price. And with all those cheapo MP3 players coming out of Taiwan…

A bit of back story: I encountered the Infinite Loop post via Copyfight. The Infinite Loop article covers a story I first discovered at CNN Money via Google News. Copyfight echoed some good (IMHO) analyses from Infinite Loop, but Infinite Loop’s Dvorakian style silo building language left a tinge of copper on my tounge. I had initially resolved to post this at Copyfight, but I got slammed into the DBSL wall several times, over and over again. After several physical meat-space punches into some nearby concrete walls and calming down (consequence of living in a 3rd world country, I suppose: cheapest way to get online is via a CDMA-1x RTT cellular provider (StarOne) with a Dynamic IP address) I resolved to post the reply at Infinite Loop. I guess I missed where its supposed to say that HTML replies would be properly formatted. Some more wall punching and yelling, and here I am at my FLOSS blog.

I’m still feeling very impotent and slightly angry. I just hope some of my message gets filtered from the noise.

Firefox 2 is out

cross-posted from my mind-Dumpster

You may have heard, but just in case you haven’t, the latest version of the Firefox browser was released yesterday at 6 PM Pacific time, or 8 o’clock this morning in Jakarta.

The official Firefox 2 announcement is at MozillaZine, with details on new features etc. You can download Firefox 2 at getfirefox.com.But if you’re in no hurry, and if you’re currently using Firefox version 1.5 and above, the Auto-update should kick in within the next couple of days.As is usually the case with a Firefox upgrade, some extensions have been disabled because they are not compatible with version 2. On my machines these are Fasterfox, Tab Mix Plus, Search Plugin Hack, Feedview, BBCode, RadialContext, and Show Image.

Some of these are features now integrated with Firefox 2.0 (for example Feedview, Search Plugin Hack), others are currently being updated (Tab Mix Plus, Fasterfox), while some I just don’t know about but wish they will be soon (RadialContext, Show Image). Most of my other extensions survived the upgrade though; they tend to be less complex than the ones listed above.

More Firefox plugins at AMO and at The Extensions Mirror.

(Oh and btw IE7 was released last Friday)

Inkscape in the Industry

The Inkscape engine is ready for commercial use.

Just take a look at Inkscape’s about screen. Those are beautiful vectors. And the ones from previous releases. Not to mention their example gallery.
Its just that the interface is not ready, although it is currently very, very usefull. It just needs to become more stable.

Not that the limits of vector art cannot be furthered. In a healthy nod towards the latest releases of Illustrator, CorelDRAW, even FreeHand MX. Capabilities-wise Inkscape 0.43 is very close. Its SVG engine even interprets gaussian blurs properly. Unfortunately you need to edit the XML to implement it for reals in an SVG artwork. Even clipping paths don’t have a GUI.

Why the need for a GUI for gaussian blur? For clipping paths? Masking? For speed. Just take a look at how efficient implementing radial gradient textures has become as a result of the new on-screen gradient handles (courtesy of Google’s summer of code and the coders who coded them for the prize, much gratitude to them all). You CLI hackers can gush all you want about coding efficiency; graphic artists use the keyboard and mouse at the same time[1].

If the Inkscape interface didn’t crash all that often when working with multi-megabyte SVGs[2] I’d be tempted to tell the Inkscape team to skip version number directly to version 1.0. As it is, the only significant hindrance to Inkscape being production worthy is its memory handling. Other than that, I can use Inkscape for production work.

Animation can wait. And if you can’t wait I kindly suggest you help the Open-Source Flash project, which would result in a much more robust animation system. And just for the record, Flash is as open as PDF and PostScript; they’re all copyrighted by Adobe, but the whole spec is published freely without limitation to implementation[3].

Of course there’s the issue of application interoperability, but so far Inkscape plays nice with the GIMP, AbiWord, and Scribus, and vice-versa all the way. It is preferable if these FLOSS apps also play nice with their proprietary brethen (ie. drag ‘n drop, shared and compatible clipboard, dynamic linking and embedding, etc.), but even though they don’t they’re still usable for production quality. Its just that its currently next to impossible to use these Free-with-a-capital-F tools in the commercial graphic-design industry. Not with all those Adobe-specific RIPs that are so popular among the more economical service bureaus[4]. TeX and DocBook are a great idea, too bad better ideas have entrenched themselves before they were even thought of. Just as the Cathedral model was so entrenched before the Bazaar was put up.

Recently there was news of Adobe postponing their release of Photoshop, Illustrator, and their Creative Suite bretherens for Intel-based Apple Macintoshes to 2007. I personally see an opening.

And check out Xara Xtreme; they seem to be focused on exploiting this window too.

[1] but I do agree with you hackers, coding is much more eficient with the keyboard.

[2] CMMIW; I don’t follow Inkscape CVS. But if there are no more major segfault errors or whatever thingies that make Inkscape not ‘feature-complete,’ then hell let’s have 1.0!

[3] Some, like the people of A List Apart, suggests a different term: transparent. Different symbols, same semiology.

[4] At least the hardware-based RIPs used by film-output bureaus here in Jakarta. There are direct-to-plate shops here, but even they use Adobe-powered PostScript engines. To print anything here, you gotta bring them data in the form of a FreeHand 10, Pagemaker 6.5, Illustrator 9, or a Photoshop 7 file. Or a TIFF (kinda iffy, since TIFF is such a ‘standard’). Or a PDF.