I love new media

Still Alive Remixes album cover

Still Alive Remixes album cover

Those who know me have certainly noticed me talking about my love for new media companies (especially Revision3) all the time. Yep, media is changing, no doubt about that. And to me, the increasing popularity and value of video games is part of it.

Remember the old days when you had your small little NES with shitty monochrome graphics and some quirky music banging from the speaker? Well, in case you didn’t notice, those days are gone.

Fast forward to today… in the BlueRay age, we have high definition handhelds and gaming consoles. On a sidenote, I just attached my 360 to the Surround Decoder I bought 2 weeks ago, and it’s absolutely epic πŸ˜€ But not only the playback has been improved, distribution has evolved too.

Nice little example happened toady, and let me highlight the elements that wouldn’t have been 10 years ago:

I was watching trailers and in-game-footage from Mirror’s Edge on YouTube. That game looks amazing and I’m definitely going to get it. I could buy it online right now, but I’ll wait until I’ll be in the shop next time and do it old school ;-). On some of the trailers, they had the “official Mirror’s Edge soundtrack” playing in the background while showing off amazingly realistic over-the-rooftops-action from the game (when did games start to have commercial-grade soundtracks again?). The combination of that song with those high definition video sequences instantly got me. As soon as I got home, I fired up the iTunes store and searched for Mirror’s Edge. NOTE: I was looking for music from Lisa Miskovsky, an artist I never heard about until today! Not only have I found the soundtrack, but a whole album of remixes, done (just for that game) by some of the best DJs around… AMAZING! Instantly bought a couple of DRM-Free versions of that soundtrack. Right now, I’m blogging about it, maybe someone will read this article, go check out the song on iTunes or Amazon and buy it there, who knows…

There are days where all that stuff just overwhelms me and I put on my happy pants πŸ™‚

Ok, nuff said, here’s the song I’m talking about:

Lisa Miskovsky – Still Alive (The Theme from “Mirror’s Edge”) [Radio Edit]

The iTunes Album “Still Alive (The Theme from “Mirror’s Edge”) [The Remixes]” is here.

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Digg.com feature idea: longish story filter

Just a quick little idea that crossed my mind, I can live without it but maybe it’s inspiring… and since Kevin Rose always claims his job evolves around new Digg.com features, this little idea is for him.

First off,

Digg.com’s technical abilities are awesome! Page crawling on submission, scanning for potential story images, guessing duplicates and what not. So that little feature shouldn’t be too much of a problem for the geniuses behind it… πŸ˜‰

Alright so here’s the deal

Adding a filter for longish articles!

Detect an article’s length (either automatically or by letting the submitter graphically choose the div tag containing it), and compare it to a per-user-configurable length threshold. Articles exceeding that threshold are filtered. Add a quick on/off switch in a corner of the digg.com website and voila…

Why would I want to use that feature?

If you’re like me, there are days where you’re just lazy. On these days, I just have to open an article written in a small font, taking up more than a few screens and I’m out. So why not implementing a filter that does exactly this, right on digg.com?

iPhone Wishlist

Since Friday, I’m the official “iPhone User” at work. So it wasn’t long till someone here found an article entitled “50 reasons to back off of the iPhone” and sent it to me to hear my opinion about it. So I took all my Monday evening and commented on each of the author’s complaints.It’s in German but for the sake of completeness, here’s my response: 50-GrΓΌnde-widerlegt

Some of his points were simply wrong, others utopistic but with some he was totally right. That’s why I decided to wrap up the discussion and compile the iPhone users’ wish-list. Don’t get me wrong, personally I’m really satisfied with the iPhone, so this should just be an inspiration for Apple’s roadmap πŸ˜‰

In no particular order:

  • Copy & Paste / Clipboard
  • Calendar alarms should recur until acknowledged by the user
    Currently, honestly, it’s too easy to miss them.
  • Calendar event search function
    “When was that dentist appointment again?”
  • Undo
    Ok, not a killer feature but would make sense in some cases.
  • (More) direct File system access
    To save mail attachments or use the iPhone as a USB Drive (just like iPods)
  • Syncing of Notes
  • Video recording
    Ok, might be enabled by 3rd party Applications but should be an out-of-the-box feature, shouldn’t it?
  • Add landscape support in more apps
    For some people, it’s more comfortable to type in landscape mode (bigger keyboard), so why would that feature by reserved to Safari?
  • Option to always show today’s calendar events on the home screen
  • Bluetooth stack should be more open / extended
    The iPhone should handle standardized Bluetooth devices like sound devices, other cellphones, computers in general etc.
  • Realtime – Synchronization
    As long as the iPhone is connected to the Mac (/PC) through wire, changes on the Computer should be instantly reflected on the iPhone and vice versa. So if my iPhone has been connected for a few hours, I shouldn’t have to click “Sync” before disconnecting it to ensure that the data I have changed while the iPhone was connected is synchronized.

Digg if you agree πŸ™‚

iPhone 3G day!

Yesss… I got an iPhone 3G!!

However, it was not an easy tactic to get it on day one here in Belgium… here’s my iPhone story:

It was pretty clear from the Beginning that there wouldn’t be lots of iPhones on launch day this 11th of July here in our tiny little country. So I called 2 Mobistar centres (the Belgian carrier selling the device) and one Apple Premium Reseller (APR’s are also allowed to sell iPhones) yesterday morning. The main info was horrible: only 10 to 15 devices per store! Good news was everyone would follow a first-come-first-serve guideline, so no reservations (even though some stores took reservations but I have no idea what happened to those). The Mobistar Employee from the Mobistar center in LiΓ¨ge told me “We even have one customer that said he’ll be here 2 hours before opening tomorrow”. OK now, information was retrieved…

There were only 2 ways to react: Either sit back and wait till there will be more devices (probably in the next couple of weeks), or be there as early as possible. I’ve been waiting for a “legal” iPhone for more than a year now so, damn you apple haters, I took the second option.

And so I woke up this morning at 5:45 AM to head to the nearest APR in Verviers: “Cipiyou“, hoping I’d be the first-in-line! It was about 6:30 AM when I arrived… and yesssss I was the first one to show up! From there on, the battle was kinda over. I’d just have to wait the 3,5 hours until the store opened at 10:00 AM. This has probably been one of my nerdiest days EVER:

  • Sweaty (yesterday night it was sweltry like hell and no time for shower this morning ;-))
  • Unshaved (because I only shave like once or twice a week and, well, I haven’t for some days)
  • Diggnation Shirt (a *must*, yyyyhaaaa!)
  • < 5 Hours of sleep
  • Sitting on a pillow in front of the store with an umbrella because it was raining nearly the whole time

(Photo taken with my old Sony Ericsson P910i)

The first customer other than me showed up at 9:15 (store opens at 10:00). Okay okay, that was like 2:45 of “lost” time but dammit, I wanted that iPhone TODAY! From 9:15 forward, there was a new customer every few minutes… the Mobistar center down the street opened at 9:30. At 9:45 the 25 people that waited in line and couldn’t get one of the 10 iPhones came to the APR, hoping to get one here. I found myself talking with #2 and #3 in line… damn it’s cool meeting people with the same interests. I knew some of the folks from “the” belgium-iPhone forum ( http://www.belgium-iphone.com ), I had a blast!!

As announced, they opened at 10:00, I was the first one to get a brand new white 16 GB iPhone 3G, it was EPIC! I heard afterwards that there had only been 2 16GB iPhones at the APR and 3 16GB ones at the Mobistar center, the rest were all 8GB. Btw, people want 16GB iPhones, Apple. Build more of those!!

Now let’s all wish a long life to my iPhone! πŸ™‚

Does last.fm steal iTunes Store logins? – Bad coincidence or scary finding?

Some days ago, I decided to give last.fm a try. Since the website itself is pretty much useless without the standalone “scrobbing” app, I downloaded and installed it. I had iTunes running while it was installing and running it for the first time. To my surprise, last.fm’s Mac client closed iTunes without asking. No matter, I restarted iTunes right away and it was OK. A day later, I decided to quit using last.fm and deleted the app. During all that time, I didn’t close iTunes.

Now to the scary part: a few hours later, I wanted to log into my iTunes Store account to redeem a code and here’s what happened:

Obviously the login didn’t work. I tried a wrong password and got a different (more appropriate) error message so it wasn’t an authentication or connectivity issue.

What might not be obvious for everyone is that the red text references a Java exception and a term used in the Java Virtual Machine (the PermGen space). So far so good but the funny thing is that iTunes is not written in Java! Restarting iTunes solved the problem but thinking about it afterwards made me realize what might have been happening here…

I’m not accusing last.fm but looking at the facts, there’s a slight possibility that their client intercepts iTunes Store logins! (well I guess I might be accusing them somehow now…)

  • Having used the iTunes API myself (on windows), I know it’s not necessary to restart iTunes in order to get information about the track that’s currently being played. However, since last.fm isn’t supposed to do more than that, why in god’s name did it restart iTunes? Not asking for it makes it even more suspect…
  • After uninstalling the last.fm software, maybe some of its Java code from within iTunes was trying to gather my login data, throwing an error because it couldn’t reach the last.fm software for submitting it?!

I insist that this is total speculation, I know the last.fm software is open source and that it claims not being spyware but please, explain to me why some java code has something to do with “FieldName” in the iTunes Store login box?! You’ve got to admit that that’s suspect!! At least suspect enough for me to not use it anymore and to write this article.

Besides, -let’s be really paranoid for a second- even though the “good” source code may be available, nothing prevents them from compiling an “altered” version of their client and providing that for binary download. Most (non-geek) people don’t install from source anyway and, since it’s binary, no one might ever notice any difference. Oh, and did I mention this is still speculation?

Anyhow, the observations are all real and no one has proven the contrary so there is a slight chance I might be right. Now, if anyone has an explanation for this, feel free to reply!

Stop the domain parking madness!

Parked WebsiteF that… I came up with a cool idea for a Web2.0 project while taking a shower yesterday. Now I’m looking for a cool name, I came up with a bunch of good ones (like 5 or so), which is unusual for me. So it is even more frustrating that every single domain I tried is parked! That’s right: not just taken, I would be ok with that, but parked.

For those of you who don’t know what domain parking is, it’s basically registering a domain “just in case”, “for future use” or “just to own it” but not putting any real content on it. Service providers like GoDaddy even offer putting ads on such domains so that whoever registered them can earn money. While that might sound like a funny method to earn money, the side effects are huge.

Flash forward to 2015…

I have about 350 domains. That’s not a problem since they only cost 20 cents a year.

My buddy has been hired as “domaineer” by a local toiletbrush seller, he’s registering internet domain names for them all day long “so they own them… just in case”.

Google and the W3C announced that they will introduce a new HTTP status code: 40404. It makes perfect sense since a “this domain is parked” is way more likely than a “page not found”. Status code 404 has been deprecated.

Seriously <insert name of internet organization having the autohority to forbid domain parking>, DO SOMETHING AGAINST IT!

Update: W00t! Finally found one πŸ™‚ More infos later (might take a while since it’s an in-my-spare-time project)…