More on the MIDEM, and Music Like Water

Back in 2006 my friend Claude Chastagner and I wrote a short piece on file sharing, which was a short version of an article which we wrote for the Revue Française d’études américaines. In this short version we equated the music market to the water one, mp3 and downloading being the equivalent of tap water (i.e. essentially free) and CDs being bottled water (i.e. what you’re buying is less the product itself – music – than added service – a long lasting medium, immune to viruses and other computer-related mishaps).

I’ve been browsing around Gerd Leonhard‘s previous writings (warning, the man’s a Net-junkie and has an account for every social site in existence), and I’m proud to see he had the same idea (though he developed it much more). His Water Like Music Manifesto is a must-read.
(edit: Gerd Leonhard came up with this back in 2005, Claude and me in 2006 – given I’ve been maintaining a close watch on the subject, I think it’s safe to say I came across it somehow 🙂 )

On another note, this quote from Feargal Sharkey, who attended the debate “The Big issue – how can music and ISP work together” at the MIDEM seems to show that there’s still work to do : “It seems we are surrounded by an ever-growing chorus of pseudo-intellectual cyber professors who will have us believe that their vision of reality is nothing short of the high altar of intellectual thinking. And to challenge those viewpoints and assumptions is nothing short of heresy and treason.”

Then again I can see how hard it is for non-tech people to understand that their business has suddenly turned into a computer engineering problem.

Bunch of quickies about MIDEM 2009

This year I have to luck to be accredited for the MIDEM as a photographer, which allowed me to attend a talk on how ISPs and Music distributors can work together. Very interesting, it seems the music companies are finally getting a clue. Check out Gerd Leonhard’s Pirates Prison Project.


A sign of the times : the “official bag” handed to the press (with docs and stuff in it), is Fair Trade (with a Max Havelaar label) and made of certified organic cotton.


Lots of iphones. Lots. And netbooks.


Finally, first time shooting from the Red Carpet. A tricky exercise. It’s probably nicer when the temperature is above 10ºC.

Alan Hess on Concert Photography

I’ve just read this very well written post on all you need to know about concert photography by Alan Hess. Nothing much to add, except he says not to carry too much gear yet carries probably twice as much as I do 🙂  (though having two bodies is hardly unusual and makes a lot of sense). He’s got my respect for on-the-fly adjusting of parameters (ISO, aperture and shutter speed). I prefer to simply redo light metering (spot mode of course) while keeping the aperture at f2.8.

blog admin fun

This morning I noticed that some comments from my blog had disappeared. Checking the DB table, they’re gone for good (my host currently has no automated DB backup facility for my kind of account). I only have a precious few to start with, so I made the effort to dig them up (thank you Google for your ‘cache:’ operator) and re-create them. I wish I knew what happened, I suspect akismet since I think it happened after a round of spam moderation. Anyway, that’s one more reason to look into an alternative hosting solution. DB backup through phpMyAdmin is no fun.


(Edit : turns out that my host does make automated, daily DB backups, lucky for me I came across them when looking for my website logs – so I was finally able to properly restore de comments table)

Canon 50D and the direct-to-print button

So Canon has just announced the 50D (wish they had announced a 6D instead). Pretty interesting upgrade, in my case it’s mainly the Auto-ISO mode being able to go from 100 to 1600 (rather than 400-800 as in the 40D) which might be worth the upgrade (that, and the fact that upgrading to every other release makes it very hard to sell your old camera). One thing’s extensive preview  notes is that the ‘direct print’ button now has an actual useful usage as it gives access to the live view. They can’t understand the purpose of such a button on a ‘prosumer’ camera, and neither could I until I read this article. In short, it explains that Japan passed on the wave of 8-bits machines because they simply were not able to handle their alphabet. Therefore, instead of PCs, Japan mostly developed appliances. Machines which were pretty much stand-alone and could do one main thing and many other related things. Like taking photos, and printing them. Therefore I figure that the Canon’s “direct print” button could be a remnant of this “appliance culture”. At least that’s the only sane explanation I can think of.

How to triple the battery life of your iphone 3G

Answer : Turn off 3G.

After the first few days of using my iphone 3G, I was rather disappointed to see that the battery would hardly last through a couple of days (with usage limited to a phone call or two, and listening to podcasts). This was a clear regression from my first iphone. Well, it seems that you can revert back to having the same battery life by turning off 3G in the settings (which is annoying but tolerable, given that I rarely access the Net from the outside, in which case I can turn it back on).


[EDIT: Firmware upgrade to 2.1 does indeed solve this problem ]

iPhone vs. Openmoko

Two days ago, my office mate received his Openmoko-based mobile phone. First thing he told me about it was that is wasn’t quite ready for the general public : “yeah, you need to run the ‘date’ command from the console to set its internal clock”. At first, all you have is the ability to make and receive phone calls and… a console. And apparently that’s about it. After about an hour he said “ok, it’s finally connected to the guest WiFi, I can ssh to it now”. At the same time, by some strange coincidence, I came across this blog post linked from the Linux Hater’s Blog (which I wholeheartedly recommend – so far I’ve yet to find a single article which I couldn’t link to my own experience with Linux). I read the first few lines of the post to my office mate and he agreed : “yeah, I figure it will take me about a week to set it up completely”.

Why Time Machine is more than rsync with a pretty face

When Time Machine appeared on OS X, it was met with a collective shrug among the Linux community : “It’s just a good-looking backup system, anyone can do the same with a cron/bash/rsync”. This is wrong and here’s why, in pictures.


When you activate Time Machine from the Finder, you get this :

Time Machine on the Finder


But here’s what you get when you activate Time Machine from Mail :


Time Machine in Mail


Yes, you stay in Mail. You do the lookup within Mail. You don’t have to drop into Mail’s guts and how it stores messages to restore one. The backup system is fully integrated in the applications it backs up. 

Same from the Address Book :

Time Machine in Address Book


Unfortunately it doesn’t work like this for all Apple applications yet (for instance ical or iphoto don’t support this at the moment, which is too bad since they’d be good candidates). Nevertheless, you can see that the intent goes way beyond providing a backup system with a fancy UI. The level of integration in the OS is unprecedented. Good luck ever implementing that on Linux.


iPhone vs. the Androids – OS/X vs. Linux redux ?

Right now the only serious competition the iPhone has is Google’s android platform. As with desktop OSes, what makes the winner is the available applications. Well, while the echoes from the iphone developers are, shall we say, rather positive, it seems the Android folks are having some tough time. Now let’s see, “Software providers finding it difficult to develop programs on a platform still going through revisions”, “Handset (i.e. hardware) manufacturers having a tough time integrating that software into their devices”… now where have I seen something like this already ?


So here’s a cheap prediction : android and the iphone will replicate the same pattern as linux and os/x, for the exact same reasons : unfocused bazaar community on one side, singled-minded well organised one on the other. Yes, android will likely go into a myriad of unexpected directions, appearing richer than the iphone.  But it will never be able to achieve the same level of quality as the iphone, and will be just as confusing an offer as Linux.