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Pito's Weblog

Some stuff I just figured out...

Last Build Date: Wed, 24 Dec 2003 20:54:49 GMT

Copyright: Copyright 2003 Pito Salas

Sun, 21 Dec 2003 03:07:22 GMT

Two under-reported details about the Wal-Mart entry into the online music space.  Yeah, it's pretty cool that we may have an even cheaper source for dowloadable music.

But two facts may be worth noting that makes the competition with iTunes not quite as direct as it may at first appear.

First, on iTunes, you can (usually) download a whole Album for $9.99. On Wal-Mart you can only download single songs, for $0.88. That's a pain if you want the whole album. Also, with CD's having more and more cuts packed on them these days, it also not be a good deal.

Second, the only supported format is apparently .WMA, which happens, as of now, not to be supported on the iPod. With iPod the most popular 'mp3' player, this poses kind of a problem.

Finally coupling this with the fact that the iTunes app (on Windows!) is much more pleasant to use than Microsoft Media Player, then I'd say that for now, anyway, iTunes rules.

Fri, 19 Dec 2003 17:09:25 GMT

Clay Shirkey compares RIAA lawsuits with prohibition. A thought provoking analogy and article (as usual). Today's court ruling is very relevant to Clay's argument.

Thu, 18 Dec 2003 00:07:59 GMT

LinkedIn did something useful for me.  I read David Isenberg's comments and pointers to other comments about LinkedIn. I've been playing with LinkedIn for several months now, trying to understand if it was any more than a curiosity. In recent days I've gottent some real value out of it. I discovered a couple of people who I had known some years ago, and had totally lost track of. Turned out they were only 2 people away from me. It was a simple matter to get their email and reconnect.

Useful. "LinkedIn: Helps you reconnect."

In the last two weeks, by the way, I've noticed a distinct upswing in the number of people who are connecting to me via LinkedIn. Have I or LinkedIn reached some kind of tipping point?

Mon, 15 Dec 2003 13:00:15 GMT

Howard Dean reacts to Sadam's capture: (yes, its a joke, he didn't really say that.)

"It's great that Saddam Hussein was caught, but we did it all wrong and he should be released immediately," said Mr. Dean, "This will allow him to be recaptured later by a true multilateral coalition led by the United Nations."

Sat, 13 Dec 2003 14:19:57 GMT

White on Orange XML Icon? Dave Winer makes some good points about the White on Orange XML Icon, in response to Google's Jason Shellen' proposal. A good discussion, that I can relate to, as it was only a week or two ago that I found out, quite by accident, what the purpose of the White-on-orange Coffee Cup Icon was supposed to do. IMHO, that is the right idea, if we generalize it somewhat. Here's my reasoning. Yes, indeed, the XML button is obscure and techie. But so are URIs, Email addresses, and File paths. On the one hand, and probably unfortunately, the world at large has learned (or is learning) how to deal with those things. But one reason is that while they exist to some extent as plumbing ('leaky abstractions' perhaps) they all have a very elegant UI veneer over them which allows people to live their life quite happily and get work done without understanding them. You click on a link and you go to the page. Oh, but you copy a url out of a magazine article and you also go to the page. And also, if that link is to a blog or blog item, that also works just like you would expect. One reason that this works so elegantly is that the link lives in a browser page and launches a browser page. Now we need a new action, click to subscribe. Also a reasonably easy concept to understand. However here's the rub, the tool you use to access your subscription may not be the browser. It might be a standalone blog reader. By analogy, click on a link to send an email. Also a reasonably easy concept to understand. However your mail client may not be the browser. This is solved with a mailto link. Or, click on a link to a newsfeed. Solver with a news:// URI. This is a direction to explore. So in summary: We need to work towards a 'click to subcribe' button. I strongly believe this should be a white on orange icon as we have successfully brought that at least somewhat into the vernacular. But instead of navigating to an obscure page of XML, it should trigger an extensible mechanism which will pass the feed to the appropriate feed reader, transparently. rss:// Update: There are no new ideas (I should have known it.) I stumbled upon quite a discussion of this very idea from Greg Reinacker, and I am sure elsewhere. I want to respond to Greg's 'deal killer' problem: Problem 1: [severity: deal-breaker] In order to serve up a file with a specific MIME type, you need to make some changes in your web server configuration. There are a LOT of people out there (shared hosting, anyone?) who don't have this capability. We have to cater to the masses, people - we're trying to drive adoption of this technology. Yes, this approach wont happen overnight, however, I tend to think more long term on this particular point. We are at the very inception, in the process of popularization of blogging or open source writing or whatever you wish to call it. This is just the time to push for and accept a bit of disruption to get to a place that will allow the kind of universal adoption that we, in our wildest moments might dream of. And by the way, imagine if Google or Yahoo or Microsoft chose to implement this approach.[...]

Sat, 13 Dec 2003 02:04:53 GMT

A really good, detailed summary of Atom. Even if you aren't interested in the vageries of the RSS format battles, these slides are very instructive on the subtleties of defining a format or protocol.

Fri, 12 Dec 2003 13:16:33 GMT

Setting up a two-LCD display - techie FYI. I just reconfigured my 2-head setup. I did (a little) research, looking for a display adapter that would support two digital 1600x1200 pixel LCDs. I settled on a Matrox Parhelia. It meets my requirements. So far, very nice. One caveat which was a surprise, and I didn't think to ask: with this board at least, both digital outs have to be at the same resolution. If the two displays have different capabilities (like mine do) then you have to run it at the lower of the two. Bummer. Workaround: if you run with one LCD in digital and the other in Analog mode, then this restriction is lifted. That's what I am doing.