I heard the news one hour before it was announced: Apple and EMI are going Digital Rights Management (DRM) free, albeit at a slightly higher cost and quality. One of my pet hates is people who bash the European Union, often citing I will admit its not glowing charachteristics. These same people never admit the things Europe does right, which may well be this hopefully landslide affect against destroying DRM. To quote The Register:
In the space of 24 hours Apple has gone from announcing an all-singing, all-dancing DRM-free deal with EMI, to facing the possibility of being slapped by EU fines of up to 10 per cent of the firm’s worldwide annual turnover.
And it is not alone - the major record labels, including EMI, could also be hit by the same fines.
As we reported earlier, the European Commission has issued a Statement of Objections “against alleged territorial restrictions in online music sales to major record companies and Apple”.
Here’s a few items I’d like to share with everyone as I find them extremely useful, hopefully you will too, thats if you have never used them! My Top 10 Apps of 2007 in descending order:
- Always a must on spyware infested Windows XP installs I come across (Unfortunately all to often). It removes a lot of the bad stuff, and my most used feature is system startup section, as I can stop all that crud from loading and slowing everything to a crawl.
9. iTunes (OS X Version)
- Apple’s Music player definitely has a nice feel to it, shame about the copy protection from the iTunes Store. That doesn’t really impinge on my use of it however, I use it to manage my iPods , Podcasts etc. and occasionally l listen to Internet Radio.
8. The Gimp - Ugly as sin, but useful as anything you’ll ever find for free. The Gimp is the image editor of choice when I do my (admittedly very light) photo editing. It also cross platform, on Linux, Mac and Windows. While there are alot of other good free image editors, for all round utility I find the Gimp has it sewn up.
7. ** ***Google Earth *- Okay Google Earth is pointless for most things, but it is nice to watch a tour of famous landmarks you have never seen (Eiffel Tower anyone?). While its utility is perhaps limited, it still provides good fun and a break from productivity.
*6. **Spotlight, Beagle & Google Desktop *- Whatgood is any system if you can’t find anything? I have to admit I am a neat freak when it comes to files on a computer, I have them properly hierarchically sorted, I only wish I was as organized in real life. But for those occasional files I misplace, these three utilitys are invaluable. Spotlight on Mac OS X launches most of my prigrams, Beagle on Linux is super fast and unobtrusive and on Windows it doesn’t get better than Google Desktop with all those handy widgets for information blurbs.
5. OpenOffice / KOffice / NeoOffice- All the suites are free, and they come with great legacy document handling. I don’t use office applications a whole lot for personal use, but these two I would would pay cold hard cash for, because there that good. I use Koffice on Linux where possible, due to its improved speed (as I use KDE Desktop). Koffice will be going multiplatform by the end of this year, and OpenOffice is working on a native Mac OS X port (a void which NeoOffice already fills), all in all a good time for free office suites.** **
4. ** Google Talk *& Adium* - When on Windows, its got to be Google Talk, even better now that they have a gadget (it’s on my contact page). When I am on my Mac laptop, its got to be Adium. Adium is the first Open Source application on this list, and for good reason, it has made beautiful use of GAIM libraries to craft a stunning messenger application. Linux messengers miss out for a variety of reasons, but Psi came close to the two above. **
**3. **iPhoto - An OS X only app, it is a beautiful centre-piece to the invaluable iLife suite from Apple. iPhoto lets me export whole albums as movies (which I then upload to YouTube), original sized pictures and more. It makes my life easier so much so, I have stopped photos being put on any other machine in my home network, they go straight to iPhoto, waiting to get to a critical mass to be wiped and copied to a DVD and my protable hard drivr, which iPhoto does in a few clicks. It does it with style als0, something which Apple is now much lauded for. Although it doesn’t come close to what photography pro’s want, it makes my life that much easier, plus I get all those nice embarrassing ones (of other people) on my iPod ready to be shown on the move! iMovie missed out as we don’t really video anything important in my household.
2. Mozilla Firefox - While it still has quirks as all browsers do, nothing makes me feel as good about the web as Firefox does. Its myriad of extensions and huge community which keep it secure is just somethings worth mentioning about this wonderful browser.
1. Amarok - Without a doubt the best music manager on the planet. I am amazed at its handling of Digital Music Players, including iPods. It is lighting fast with a proper database behind it, so even if you have a large music collection as I do, it will not go slow or die on you. Its built in music store serves fresh mp3’s, and its onscreen display of songs lets you know what tunes you’re listening to. It has a million and one scripts to make it do anything, an alarm clock perhaps? done. Tell your friends what your listening to on your contact list? done. A web interface so you can use a remote or laptop to control it? done. All of these are a few clicks away, even for new users it’s a breath of fresh air. Visualizers, faders, any music type you can dream of is playable, I could go on all night, Amarok has it all and more. Like Koffice it is only really on Linux (well, Unix-based) at this point, but its development team are promising OS X and Windows versions. My bet is it’ll fly faster off the shelves than Mozilla Firefox has…
I plan to follow this up and make a series, I have a lot to say! As I am know by a lot of people who know me as “the” Techie person, I plan to write a few short posts on cleaning up windows, saving space on OSX etc. and other interesting stuff alot of people ask me questions about.
I recorded a tutorial, showing people how to extract YouTube (and other flash based sites videos’) and get them onto your iPod. It was recorded on my Mac, so unfortunately its Mac specific, but really only iSquint program is, so if anyone can suggest a replacement on Windows or Linux, I will add it to the details of the video. I use Garageband for audio, iMovieHD to edit the video and audio and Copernicus to record my screen. I started by getting everything I needed ready (all the Firefox tabs etc.) and hit record in Copernicus. I imported that .mov into iMovieHD, and then proceeded to open Garageband, watch the video and talk myself through my own recording. I saved the voice part in Garageband, exported it and then imported it into iMovie. I checked to make sure the audio and video lined up perefectly (what I done on screen matched what I was saying) and then exported it as a .mov from iMovieHD. Then I uploaded the result to Youtube, which I think for a first try ain’t bad!! Watch it here:
Tor, (or The Onion Router) is a service which connects people all over the world with one aim: privacy. Tor protects from traffic analysis, basically where you have been. Benn to you Banks website? Feel like buying something off Amazon or Ebay? Your behaviour online is by no means private, you hand over your numerical address, browser details, country, city, versions of which plugins you use, where you came from, just to name a few. You may have seen on sites something to the effect of “Welcome Google user!”, that website knows exactly what you typed to get to it. Tor routes your online activity through different computers, for example mine went through an educational institution in the US and an Internet Service Provider in the Netherlands.
But if you want privacy you have something to hide! Not true. You don’t hand over records of everywhere you go in reality, nor documents, or details of medical conditions etc., their is a genuine use case for privacy in the modern world which is sadly being eroded. I just watched ABC news repeat on Sky News, and it reported of the FBI sending letters out asking for information from librarys, banks and every institution inbetween. It involved no court, no checks and balances, nothing. Tor is also used by the law itself, to conceal government surveillance of illegal activity (for example, child pornography). So not only is Tor needed, but it can extend to everything online, Instant Messaging. Tor limits abuse with a high degree of success and it is cross platform, on Linux, Windows and Mac. Get it here: Tor.eff.org
Just like software. it can be really useful to open source other things in life, collaboration is nearly always a good thing. John Buckman, CEO of Magnatune Records knows this principle all too well. He gave a speech at a Red Hat conference a while back, and he talked about the importance of music artists sharing the “source”, i.e. basically sharing the method of how the produced the music in the first place. This allows easier mixing, and a higher chamnce your work could be featured on TV or in a film, and you get paid
- the open source model applied to music.
I am trying this technique with Google Docs and Spreadsheets. Once it was launched for Google for your domain, I immeadiatley searched for files to put on it, unfortunately, I had no such luck, all my files were pdfs! I stumbled across my regular writely account (old Google Docs and Spreadsheets), and found some files I had forgotten all about. I shared my CV with some family members, and already I am getting real good feedback, I wonder what else the open source model ccan be applied to? See Red Hats intriguing “Truth Happens” advert:
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