Archive for April, 2007

Over 100 Million iPods Sold

Apple recently sold the 100 millionth iPod. Doesn’t that sound huge? Actually, I’m surprised the billionth hasn’t been sold yet. How old is the iPod now? Six years? I think that’s about right. Apple definitely has the best MP3 player on the market currently. I’ve tried a few MP3 players and all of them have had infuriating and unexplained problems.

I used to have a Philips Rush MP3 player. It had 128MB of internal storage and a card slot in which I’d put either a 128MB or a 256MB SD card. I’d swap cards depending what I wanted to listen to, and I kept my favorite music on the internal memory. There were plenty an abundance of bugs, though. For no reason at all, it would lock up when I was listening to music. I’d have to yank the battery out to reboot it. This especially bothered me with podcasts, where I’d have to find the song and attempt to fast-forward back to where I left off. The fast-forward system was terrible! You’d hold down a button (the same one used for moving to the next track). It wouldn’t go further than 20 minutes into the file, and if your finger slipped it would go back to the beginning. That’s just the beginning of the Rush’s problems (did I mention that there was no way to sort music? Everything had to be thrown into the root folder and youd have a hard time finding what you wanted).

Things got a bit better after last Thansksgiving, when I bought a Sandisk Sansa with 1GB or internal storage for the bargain price of $40. It’s usually around $70, so I jumped on that. I ordered online and picked it up at a store a Circuit City (or was it Best Buy? I think it was Circuit City) and hour away. The nearest store was sold out. The Sansa was lightyears ahead of the Rush. You’d place your music files on the player (optionally in folders — they didn’t alter playing order though). The Mp3s/WMAs had to be tagged so the player could work it’s magic, but this proved to be only a minor irritation. Once the music was on the player ( a simple matter of dragging and dropping), the player would show a menu letting you find music by Artist, Album, Genre, etc. You’d just drill down until you found what you wanted. The Sansa has given me very little problems so far. There’s only one major one: The tags on files can get corrupted sometimes, causing split-up albums, disappearing artists, “unknown” albums, and other odd things like that. Oh, and sometimes the backlight wont start up. Not bad for $40.

I’m hoping that the iPod Nano’s price will come down in the future. It’s a nice looking player and I haven’t heard about too many problems with it so far. If I were to upgrade from my Sandisk Sansa, I’d go for a Nano. The price is a little high in my opinion. Maybe it’ll come down when Apple announces their new Telepathic-Interface iPod. :)

Wordpress MU

You though Wordpress was cool (Wordpress, by the way, is the ultimate blogging script. If you want a blog, use Wordpress)? Try out Wordpress MU. With WPMU, you can run a site with tons of blogs. It’s the same software used to power the blogging site Wordpress.com (not to be confused with Wordpress.org). The software can be used to run either a site like Wordpress.com or a site like Wired Blogs. I’m doing something like the latter for NTugo. There will be several blogs available, but no one can create new ones except for the admin. WPMU is cool.

We Need More Digg Alternatives

We need more alternatives to Digg.com. Digg is a great idea, but it’s gone awry. I’d like to see more sites that offer similar functions (in a similarly user-friendly site), but without the problems of Digg? Read the rest of this entry »

Things Are Looking Up For iTunes

iTunes, the biggest online music store on the web, will soon be selling DRM-free music. The tracks will cost 30 cents more than the current 99 cents, unfortuantely (though whole albums will still be $9.99 as they have been since the start). DRM, or Digital Rights Management (how about ADLS - Annoying Digital Limitation System?!), is a method forced on everyone by the record companies to prevent you from making copies of your music. The DRM-free music on iTunes will have twice the bitrate as the DRM copies. Youu’l get 256k instead of 128. Not everyone can hear the difference, but some can.

Here’s the good part: iTunes will let you convert the DRM-less music to MP3 so you can play it on a non-iPod player (like my 1GB SanDisk Sansa). My question: What about music you’ve already purchased? Will Apple let you convert that, will you have to pay $0.30 more per track to convert them, or will they force you to re-buy them if you wish to convert. If it comes to the latter, you can always do the CD-RW hack (burn and re-rip as MP3).

Is OpenID The Way To Go?

Is OpenID The Way To Go?

It’s an interesting concept, but with recent developments, it may not be the way to go.

In case you didn’t already know, OpenID is a decentralized identity service. Basically it lets you login to any OpenID-capable site with the same credentials. Your login data isn’t tied to one huge corporation though (in theory). You register and OpenID with an “OpenID Provider”, basically a website that stores all your login credentials and processes requests from other sites. Anyone can become an OpenID Provider.

The major advantage of OpenID is you get one “username” (more of a URL) that you use on any OpenID-ready site.

One thing I’m not a huge fan of is the way you login to an OpenID-ready site. Registration couldn’t be simpler. Just hit register and provide your OpenID. You’ll be redirected to your OpenId Provider’s site, where you’ll have to give the new site permission to use your OpenID by entering a username and password. Can you guess how you login? You head over to your OpenID Provider’s website (like www.myopenid.com) and enter a username and password. Yournow logged in to OpenID. Now to login to an OpenID-capable site, just enter your OpenID URL (which looks like http://you.yourprovider.com). You’ll jump over to your Provider, where you’ll enter your password. Having entered the password, you’ll bounce back to the page you where on previously, now logged in. The major advantage of OpenID is you get one “username” (more of a URL) that you use on any OpenID-ready site. Personally I think the whole process is a little clumsy and needs work. It’s an interesting concept, though.

What are these “recent developments” that make OpenID less of a good idea?

  • AOL has an OpenID tied to every account.
  • Microsoft is doing the same as AOL.
  • Microsoft is trying to “integrate OpenId into Vista” (uh oh).

Those huge corporations will likely try to take the Open out of OpenID. They will struggle to become the largest Provider, and etc etc. Microsoft is trying to “integrate OpenID into Vista”? That can’t be good.

Let me point something out. If someone gets your OpenID password, they instantly have access to every OpenID-ready site you use. “Oooh, a credit card number.”? You don’t want that to happen, do you? OpenID must not be used with sites that store credit card numbers. OpenID makes it easier for crackers to get access to your stuff. All they need to do is get login data from one site, and they have access to everything. If Microsoft is integrating OpenID into Vista (probably with a patch or Service Pack), then we can assume that Vista will be storing your OpenId URL and password so that it can log you in easier. Does that sound like a good idea to you? Given Microsoft’s reputation for security…

If someone gets your OpenID password, they instantly have access to every OpenID-ready site you use.

But having huge corporations “getting into the OpenID business” isn’t good. It all helps them in their quest to conquer the internet. So these companies will have control of the systems that let people log in to tons of sites on the web. They could block sites, for example. Say AOL doesn’t want you to use a site that competes with one of their services, they just stop their OpenID’s from contacting the sites servers and… Do you get the message? These companies will do anything to totally rules the web. Look at Yahoo. They’re buying sites up and integrating them into their main site (Del.icio.us, Flickr, etc). I’m guessing they’ll be an OpenID provider soon. Have you heard of “Yahoo Brand Universe”? Basically they’re trying to take on fan sites like The Leaky Cauldron, or other somewhat smaller sites (Leaky isn’t that small. They get over 100,000 unique users a day). Here’s an article about Brand Universe. Sounds like they want to take over the web, doesn’t it? They want to attempt to put fan sites out of business. It’s to late to do that to Harry Potter, though. Fan sites like Leaky Cauldron and Mugglenet have huge followings, then there are smaller fan sites fitting into Harry Potter niche markets (like The Site of Requirement).

If AOL, MSN, and possibly Yahoo are OpenID providers, what’s to stop them from buying up the smaller providers in their attempts to become the biggest provider? Nothing.

If AOL, MSN, and possibly Yahoo are OpenID providers, what’s to stop them from buying up the smaller providers in their attempts to become the biggest provider? Nothing. If AOL said they’d pay you $3 million for your OpenID-providing site, you’d have a lot of trouble resisting that much money, wouldn’t you. It will happen.

That’s why I’m not a huge OpenID fan. I like the concept, but it’s going to blow up in everyone’s face. That’s why I’m taking a different approach in NTugo, a new site I’m working on. I’m thinking of having OpenId’s working in tandem with NTugo Accounts, so you’ll be able to login with a username and password or an OpenID. An NTugo Account will optionally have an OpenID tied to it so you can login either way. Suppose one of those corporate OpenID’ers decides to block OpenID logins to NTugo (supposing NTugo got big enough for it to matter). A user could just login with a username and password instead. If they still want to use OpenID with NTugo, they could proceed to their profile page and bind an OpenId from a different provider to the NTugo account. Good idea, or what?

Hmmm. Maybe go and see what you have to do to become an OpenId provider….

Flash Countdowns

Aaaah, countdowns. They’ve got to be my favorite thing to make in Flash. Well, there are plenty of Harry-Potter-related things to count down to lately, so I’ve been making tons of countdowns. On the Site of Requirement’s countdowns page, I have placed several up for download. Notice there are six of them so far? I made four of them today.

I made the first two countdowns over the past couple days, so four’s a record for me. Speaking of the first two countdowns…. I may be the first person to have made a countdown to the Half-Blood Prince Movie (which will be released on November 21, 2008 — yeah, 2008). I’m not sure if anyone else is counting down to the millisecond either. Who knows? It would be cool to be the first.

April Fools 2007

Here are the April Fools jokes I’ve seen online so far this year:

That’s all folks. I’ll edit the post if I see any more. If you see any, post on the comments.