Archive for the 'Technology' Category

Tech Links

Radiohead: In Rainbows

Radiohead seem to be the first large, mainstream band to release an album (In Rainbows) in a Magnatune-esque way: in mp3, over the internet with a customer chosen variable price.

With 1.2 million copies sold and an average price of about £4 (according to one survey) that has to be classed as a success. iTunes, with the majority of the music in DRM-format, has never appealed but if a model like this takes off then it seems a lot of us (me included) will be buying music via the internet (in the meantime I buy most of my music on CD).

If the model does take off then there will probably be alterations; I can’t see the big labels allowing a variable price that goes all the way to zero and the charts will have to adapt or die – as other people have pointed out people have been talking about the chart. I’m much more cheerful about the future of music distribution now than I was a year ago.

Enough about the distribution – what about the music? I have a few Radiohead albums – I tend to listen to them a lot when I first get them and then rarely play them later. It’s too early to tell whether that’ll happen to this one but I think it won’t, I’ve listened to it a lot and it has really grown on me.

….and if you want to support (in multiple senses of the word) a band that has been pioneering internet music (and you have recording equipment) then check out Brad’s request

Robot Butler

If I can’t have a robot butler then I want a Roomba 530 (Luis should be on commission).

Unfortunately, we only seem to be able to get the older models in the UK at the moment and the official UK distributor’s web site isn’t the most confidence inspiring thing in the world so I think I’ll wait for a bit

Hackable robotic hoovers….. woo!


In the discussion about the future of GTK+, it was suggested that Pigment and Clutter could be used to play with ideas for the 3.0 release. Clutter, like Pigment which was demoed earlier looks very slick and an interesting way to make really cool looking applications. Like Pigment, it is the early stages of development. Before it could have wide-spread use in everyday desktop applications there would need to be a layer on top: “Clutter Widgets” that was highly themeable but incorporated accessibility, i18n etc. Otherwise each application needs to invent the wheel but maybe that’s okay for the occasional, highly graphical UI element.

Alex’s follow on talk about Pyro was interesting (as was his related blog post. Having Google Docs as a first class native app is appealing but HTML/JS aren’t that bling so in order to have the next generation of applications we’d end up running RIAs (or Clutter etc.). The number of layers involved makes it rather mind-bending. It’s a sweet hack. Whether it revolutionizes anything will partly depend on the code – (can the speed and the rendering bugs be fixed?) but also on whether the movers and shakers in the community think this is the way they want to go. I’m still on the fence but it’ll be interesting to see what happens.

The keynotes of Stormy Peters and Doc Searls were both interesting. Stormy had some insights on the differences between OSS and proprietary development that I need to think about more and Doc was talking (amongst other things) about his Vender Relationhip Management (VRM) ideas. I’ve had a look at the VRM stuff before, like most of the things discussed at this conference, it’s fairly blue-sky at the moment.

Finally, I’ve just been in a talk about Anjuta. I’d played with it before but it has changed dramatically. I’ll have another play – if it lives up to the demo we just saw I suspect it’ll become something I use a lot.


Because I’m writing this (early) on Day 5, anything I write about Alex’s Pyro Desktop announcement yesterday will already be slightly out of date because plenty of people have already written about it.

However the ripples that Pyro has caused now will be much bigger over time; like Havoc’s talk it caused a lot of debate and discussion. The criticisms seem to be “Firefox adds an extra layer that’s slow” or “It takes forever to get patches into Firefox – we can’t rely on it”. On the other hand it’s obviously a great feature and dove-tails nicely with Havoc’s direction. I need to have a play with it before I really know what I think about it.

In other news, Stephen O’Grady makes a good argument in favour of the Online Desktop that reinforces Havoc’s argument.

As I write this I’m watching a talk with Glynn Foster from Sun demoing DTrace after Federico had demoed SystemTap. DTrace is still better but SystemTap looks like it is getting good too. It’s cool to see how integrated into the community Sun is. There’s a lot of good natured banter between OpenSolaris and Linux going on in the room but it’s all OSS.