So, the ANZ bank has advised that it will not fund the controversial Tasmanian pulp mill. What an amazing decision for them to make. I know that there was a lot of pressure on them from GetUp and Greenpeace but this is big!
So awesome, read the article here.
There are many services out there that (unlike iTunes) offer DRM (Digital Rights Management) free mp3 downloads. This is a great service to offer because the DRM encoded files that iTunes sell have limitations on how many machines they can be played on (not to mention they wont play, even from your iPod, through the Xbox 360 "iPod integration" - a very big selling point for me... ). The problem with these iTunes competitors (such as Napster, mp3.com, Amazon and many others) is that they're only available to users in the US. That leaves us Australians high and dry with no DRM-free, legal, music downloads.
Enter doubleTwist - a free music sharing utility (not a p2p, torrent app) that also strips drm-encoding from your iTunes purchased music. Its a little slow, I haven't compared it to other app's for its speed but it works well and the music files seem to retain their quality well for playback in whatever devices / applications you choose.
This helps me further myself from iTunes that one little bit further, now that I am using Rockbox on my iPod, amarok (Linux) and foobar (Windows) for playback and doubleTwist for music liberation, iTunes is only used for purchasing music.
Good on her. If she gets sued, there'll be a mass of donations to pay for it. Mine included. Thumbs up from me, Nadia. I love the shirt.
Here's the thing. Ipod's are great for people who are content with things the way others dictate they should be. iTunes is great if you are just happy with things and will just adapt to how things are offered to you. I'm not happy with how things are offered to me and I try to change things to suit my needs. iTunes is great for buying music, even if it's DRM licensing thingo sucks. But I wouldn't let iTunes manage either my ipod or my music collection, no *freaking* way! My emphasis on making sure you know how much I hate iTunes' "management" skills is because it has completely wiped my ipod of all files on several occasions. Something I do not take lightly.
So, because of this, I started looking for an alternative to iTunes for transferring files to my ipod and I found anapod explorer. Now, while most reviews will tell you its terrible and dont touch anapod software, I found it quite good (while it still has several problems, the main one for me is crashing when I am editing my file tags). But the problem here is that it is commercial and I connect my ipod to several machines and damned if I am going to spend $20 on each machine. So, I tried Floola. Yikes. Lets just say that when I left work yesterday after using Floola, most of my music was missing and the music that wasn't missing had incorrect album art and the file names were matched to the wrong files. So Floola is up there with iTunes for trying to ruin my ipod experience.
Then I thought, hang on, why should I need software just to transfer music to my iPod? I should just be able to drag and drop music onto it. So, I bit the bullet and installed Rockbox. Any reservations about Rockbox that I had previously went out the window. It was a breeze to install, it has 100x the functionality of a normal iPod (eg editing music, tags etc on the ipod.) and it stores music in normal files in a normal structure, so you can just drag and drop music onto it. And, as a doubley good feature, it dual-boots with the standard iPod firmware, so it will still work in my Alpine integration box in my car (to play the ipod through my Alpine touch screen).
Rockbox is certainly the business and I recommend it to anybody. No more middle-man software just to use my ipod on multiple machines.
Now I just need to remove the DRM on the music I bought...
After commenting on an article on EcoTechDaily, I found myself in the middle of a heated discussion with a user on that site who saw the article content as another 'marketing tool'.
Its interesting to read the arguments going on in the comments of the article and see how people react to these sort of products.
Google has just released 'Doctype' into its sites. Doctype is an html/css/DOM reference in a wiki form. It allows submissions from anyone and includes tests on DOM elements performed in each of the current main browsers (Not including Opera).
I will definately be contributing to this.
It looks like car manufacturers have made no great advances in fuel efficiency in the past half-century. Its not exactly shocking, no doubt they are all in bed with the oil companies anyway. The new Commodore is a perfect example of this. Lets give the average Aussie family a 6.0L V8 with 20" rims to drive the kids around... What a joke. And, as most Commodores are company cars for employee's that get tax benefits for the more they drive, its no doubt that our cars are contributing 14% of our carbon emissions.
Wake up Australia.
For years and years I was an avid Windows user. I loved everything about Windows and Microsoft in general. I did use Linux in some environments, for eg, I used ssh to log into the server that hosts my site (www.skylinesaustralia.com) and I had dabbled with Linux distro's on old machines around my house, but never really got into it.
Then, about 18 months ago I got a job in a Linux-only environment. The only Windows machine was used by the receptionist. It was my first taste at Linux from a no-alternatives approach. It didn't take me long to really appreciate it and what it could do. In my opinion, well managed, properly funded Linux desktop distributions (Fedora, Ubuntu, Debian, etc) are far superior to Windows and I feel they have been that way for quite some time. The great thing is that they are now receiving more exposure than ever before for whatever reason. People are trying and experimenting with Linux. Linux doesn't seem to be viewed as a 'server only' OS, but as a full fledged Windows and MacOS alternative.
While I feel that Linux is still far from being an option for non technically minded individuals (such as my Mother in law) it is getting much better. With distributions like Ubuntu which has been known as the first distro a Windows user should try due to its ease of install and use. I must say that my experiences with Ubuntu have always been good, but Fedora remains my distro of choice.
I fear I have started rambling as I tend to do when I try to write anything that covers more than a paragraph or two. So, lets get back to what I started writing this about...
I loved using Fedora. I still do. Its on my laptop that goes everywhere with me, its on my media PC and if it wasn't a bit touchy as a Guest OS under VirtualBox, it would be a VM on my windows machine (Ubuntu replaced it). But, after a good, solid, 18 months of not using Windows and being in a strong Linux-oriented environment, I moved into a new job where the only OS is Windows (talk about turning on your heels). I was devastated and wished I had asked what OS was used in my interview. But, after a few weeks (and installing Ubuntu on a virtual machine) I am coming around a bit. I am not going to say that I enjoy using Windows as much as Linux, I dont think that will ever happen, what I am saying is that I dont hate it as much as I used to.
I think what has helped me, is that there are so many things out there that you can apply to your Windows installation to assist you in making it feel more like Linux. Alas, Windows command prompt will never be as good as shell but from a GUI / usability approach, its not too bad.
I think that it is this recent growth in Linux users along with the fantastic work of my favourite company in the world, google, that has forced Microsoft to rethink its approach. While it is still a software giant, it is not the software giant. Google has taken the world by storm and it has done it by offering its services, products and anything else, for free. Using simple UI's and no-frills approaches, it has grown by leaps and bounds. It has taken the free email market from Microsoft, it has taken the search engine market from Yahoo and it has taken many other markets from other's too (Open Source project hosting from sourceforge, etc).
This revolution in free computer services from Linux Distributions to online applications (and offline applications, see Googles sketchup, earth, desktop, picasa, etc) has opened a lot of people up to the world of alternatives and it is forcing Microsoft to rethink its approach to the software user market. I am writing this post as a test on Microsoft's free 'Live Writer' (that integrates with Googles 'blogger' service). I have, for the first time, a windows 'Live' account. I browse Microsoft's Open Source site. Never before has such a revolution occurred in computers. Nothing has been 'taken by storm'. At least not for a long time. And this new freedom to choose a commercial product or an open-source, free-to-use alternative is fantastic. Finally users have a choice and the free-alternative is equally as good as the commercial option, if not better.
As the late Big Kev would say, "I'm Excited".
EDIT: I thought I would also mention that both Microsoft and Google have contributed to the Zend Framework (Open source PHP Framework).
Don't succumb to the pressures of new technology, people! Rise up! No doubt that when this company has sold 10,000,000 units, they will flick a switch and use us as a mass mind-controlled army to do what they want with! Organ Harvesting, Bank Robberies, you name it, they've got it in mind.