Archive for July, 2009

Flash on Chromium in Ubuntu

July 8th, 2009

It’s as easy as two commands

cd /usr/lib/chromium-browser/plugins/


sudo ln -s ../../flashplugin-installer/

Then restart chromium and you’re away.

These instructions are just the same as the original.. originally from here!

How do you sell ‘Free’?

July 8th, 2009

A few years back, in 2004, Peter Gabriel and Brian Eno launched a Musicians’ Union called Mudda to stand up for the rights of the musicians who were having their music stolen in the ‘post-Napser’ age of p2p downloads.  One of the taglines of Peter Gabriel’s mission was the title of a confidential debate, How to compete with Free? As time has moved on the music industry has gained a few scalps by suing many organisations and individuals proactively sharing music over these peer to peer networks – the most recent casuatly being the Pirate Bay.

The initial victim of peer to peer sharing was the Music industry, but as bandwidth and disk space have got much cheaper, it has enabled users to share films and much larger files just as easily as downloading mp3s in the early days of Napster.  Rather than the industries going into meltdown, they’ve come up with innovative ways to get users accessing their information.  LoveFilm, Sporify and are all solutions to the intial problem, however, as yet theyre not seen as ‘perfect’ solutions.  Too much power has been given to the consumer – the only problem is that it’s only the industries affected who see this as a problem.

At the weekend’s festivities at the Hop Farm Festival, I was lucky enough to watch 2 Many DJs play a set on the Sunday night.  Up til they I’d always been one for listening to pretty ‘mature’ music; mature as in age rather than maturity.  I grrew up with most of my Dad’s music – and it’s a good job he had good taste! :)   I’d never really ‘gotten’ the dance scene – loops and stuff were things that I did as a teen messing around on Software such as Sibelieus, Capella and Voyetra Midi Orchestrator.  Writing a drum beat and adding a synth track on top didn’t sppear to be so hard.  However, with 2 Many DJs – these guys were remixing classic and modern tunes, and making them sound awesome together.  It wasn’t just the music they were mixing, but they also had a monty-python-esque video screen with animated remixes of the original album covers blending into each other.

2 Many DJs have caught the essence of community and ‘Creative Commons’ in their approach to producing music.  They can use other people’s tracks and beats in the way that software architects use difference software packages – put them all together and come up with their own unique packages.  It’s a bit like lego – the blocks are all the same – but it’s the way they are arranged that makes them unique.  If someone’s already designed a car and you design a garage – doesn’t it make sense for you to share your ideas to come up with a better model?  Needless to say I was looking at their music differently.

So when it comes to making money – if 2 Many DJs are simply remixing other people’s work – where does the money change hands.  They remixed Michael Jackson, The Gossip, AC/DC, Daft Punk, Queen, amongst others – so how do these artists get paid?

When it came to the end of the night, I asked a mate who was familiar with 2 Many DJs how to get their tracks – can I buy a CD, or what if I want to do my own remixes.  His respose was that people simply download their music.  They like people remixing their stuff and want to hear more music made – so they actively support downloading via what most would say were illegal methods.  I need to get more information on whether this is 100% true, or just a ‘laissez-faire’ approach by the band rather than a pro-active promotion – but if it is true it’s sure pretty.

So if 2 Many DJs can get round and survive giving stuff away free, then it’s not a business model unique to the ‘Open Source’ world.  2 Many DJs have had plenty of success doing it, and get asked to headline at Gigs all over the world. When it comes to programmers, the high life of programming infront of thousands of people dancing to your programming isn’t really a viable option (unless you’re Air). So Open Source programmers have to sell ‘free’.

That takes me back to the original question: How do you sell ‘Free’

Since 2004 I’ve been successfully using Open Source Software to complete essays, do accounts, run websites, and update my mp3 player and listen to music.  I’ve been able to do practically everything I ever did using Windows – though much of it has involved alot of effort and a steep learning curve.  As time has gone on, the operating system I use, Ubuntu, has seriously improved its ease of use – up to a point when I can do a fresh install of ubuntu and know that I won’t have to spent a few hours tweaking sound & video settings getting everything to work.  I know I can get it installed and all up to date in under an hour – and 90% of the software I use is already installed.  It also enables me to know the price of my computer.  Whereas before I was counting the cost in £s, I now count it in hours.

The problem is, that the majority of people count in £s. may well be free, but thye’ve got to download and run an exe file – or even worse work out how to open a zip file.  Sure – to the intiated it’s easy, but to the uninitiated they may just as well go and buy a CD and put it in the right hole for a little paperclip to tell them what to do.  That’s life.

Free needs to be sold as simple.  We’re getting there – but the truth of the matter is that people don’t care.  As Rory Cellan-Jones commented earlier today regarding Google’s Annoucement of ‘Google Chrome OS’

but my point is that most people never choose to install an OS. they just live in a windows world. Only sophisticates choose..

That’s the truth.  As much as people may like to choose Ubuntu or any other OS, to convert people they need to make a proactive decision.  Apple have solved that problem by generating some kind of cult following.  I’m not sure how they managed it – but the perception is that macs are easy and cool.  People don’t mind the difficulty (or the price), when they know that the perceived view is that it’s easy. No one wants to be seen as a fool.  Linux distributions are still seen as the realm of the geek, therefore it’s not painful to claim it’s too difficult.  When you’re selling free – it’s easy if people already want it.  If people don’t want it already, then why should they want to want it?

I can’t see Gnugle Linux (as I’m sure many of the FSF-ers would have liked it to be known as) being a massive break from the traditional Linux Distribution.  Microsoft probably think the same thing – Google might have a good team, but they can’t design an operating system from a blank slate.  Google have already said they’ll be using the Linux Kernel.  However, what they can do is implement HTML5 and CSS3 to enable the browser to draw.  Up til now, adding curves to a box in HTML meant using 4 pre-drawn graphics (or fewer if you were clever) – however, it still required a graphic to be placed upon a page – rather than drawn. Google are coming into the frame just as the ‘browser’ take over from the operating system.. and right now they’re creating a hybrid as a means of migration from OS-based computing to browser-based computing.

Will Google OS ‘Sell’?

If people want it – yes.  Right now Google have got to focus on marketing this as a viable alternative to the status quo – something that the traditional Open Source vendors have been unable to do through lack of capital, and a lack of ability to stand up to the false claims made by Microsoft.  However, the bigger battle is happening behind the scenes.  As was seen with OLPC v. Intel, the majority of decisions are made behind closed doors where representatives of Open Source Communities have never real
ly stepped.  Google have been there before and have that extra arrow to their bow.  I just hope they don’t turn into MS 2.0 in their quest for domination.

The Eagles @ the NIA, Birmingham

July 8th, 2009

Last night I went to see the band of my Childhood - The Eagles – perform their Long Road out of Eden tour at the National Indoor Arena in Birmingham City Centre.  This was the fourth time I’ve seen them play – the first being in 1999 just a couple of weeks after they dropped Don Felder from their line-up due to ‘artistic differences’ with the rest of the band.  Stuart Smith has stepped up to the fold, and although he still wears the ‘black shirt’ on stage to blend into the background, despite contributing to the compositions on their latest album.

All in all it was a fantastic gig – they balanced a few of their own classics with those of the individual band members – allowing Joe Walsh and Don Henley to bash out ‘Boys of Summer’ and ‘He’s Cool’ to the wishes of the crowds.  It’s always an ‘older’ crowd at these gigs, but it was nice to see a few younger faces enjoying the concert too.  The vocal harmonies were so tight, which is all the more amazing considering these guys are now getting on a bit :)

The only down side to the night was that Glen Frey has obviously got a big of a frog in his throat, and although he managed to soldier on through with a valiant attempt – he didn’t hit the highs of the last few tours I’ve seen him do.  Don’t get me wrong, his voice was still hitting the notes and singing along – but it wasn’t the voice of Glen Frey, but Glen Croak.  I’m sure it’s just a passing illness, so I hope he recovers from it soon.

One of the things I like about the Eagles is the simplicity of the tracks.  Tim B. Schmidt isn’t the most amazing bass player you’ll ever see – but he hits the notes at the right time and puts plenty of emotion into it all.  He’s “the ribbon” of the group, according to Frey, “playing low and singing high”.

The backing band were awesome as usual, adding plenty of brass and percussion to the eclectic mix of songs.

I’d give the concert an 8/10 – bearing in mind the last three have all cleared 9 it’s still a good performance, however, those of you unfamiliar with their latest works may want to go and get the newest album to get the full enjoyment of watching them live.

Redecorating – Stripped Floor

July 8th, 2009

It’s looking quite nice – first stage was to get the floor stripped.

Solihull Hardwood Floors came over to do my room, and the hall.  Really friendly guys, and whereas last time it kicked up a lot of dust, these guys were lovely and clean.  As you can see, they came out quite nicely.

Stripped Floor




* N.B. If anyone wants pictures of the hall floor, please contact me and I’ll email you some samples.

Redecorating – Before

July 8th, 2009

A couple of weeks back, Mum and Dad had their room redecorated by Joal Designs. They did a very good job, so we’ve kept in touch and they’re now sorting out some other rooms in their house.

Mum’s decided it’s time to get my room redecorated (as I’m going to be out of it for 9 months in a year – go figure). We’ve got Opus Services doing the decorating for me. We’ve used them alot in the past, and it’s awesome quality.  Also by coincidence a friend of mine over @ Sans Deputy has just done a fresh re-brand.

So I’ve decided to document the stages of decoration when I’m about, and to give the guys doing the jobs a bit of credit :)






Hop Farm Festival ’09 Review

July 6th, 2009

I loved it.

It started pretty late on the Friday night, not managing to leave Birmingham til past 6 in the evening. Got down to Hop Farm in plenty of time and managed to avoid most of the traffic. We got down there and there was no queue, got right into the car park.

Got to the counter to redeem our letters, having bought a splashmac from  Unfortunately my name wasn’t on the guest list (I registered pretty late) though they still let me in once I’d shown my customer number and ID.  Awesome.

We then took a short walk from the car to the campsite (great that it was so close) and set up our little camp on the higgle-dee-piggle-dee setup they had there.  I loved it, find a spot and just set up a tent.  We set the tents up, and were warmly greeted by both our neighbours and by the security guards – which was a nice touch.

Friday night was a chance to chill out and enjoy each others company.  We met a few nice people, got a BBQ going, and just soaked up the atmosphere.

For Saturday, we headed to the main stage in time to see sets from Noah and the Whale which I really enjoyed.  They were followed by Florence and the Machine who really had a great stage show.. and an awesome voice.  Despite being told to stick around for Echo and the Bunnymen, we headed to the campsite for a little bit of food, and to top up our water supplies.

We got back in time to watch Ash, who were pretty good (though I had to admit I hadn’t a clue to many of their songs – don’t know how I managed that”!).  We then skipped the start of The View to go and watch Bell X1, and ride on a fairground ride which was pretty nice.  Generated a nice breeze in the sun.

After topping up with a little more water, we then headed back to the crowd to catch a bit of The Pigeon Detectives before pushing our way to the front read for The Fratellis. Now I don’t mind The Fratellis, though I don’t know why I loved this gig so much.  We were right at the front bouncing around with the best of them, and bumping into all sorts – including a photographer Kerri Burbidge.  I don’t know if she got many good pics, hopefully they’ll appear online at some point.  Also found it amusing that she was handing out business cards at the front of the gig.  Successful though.

After that we headed to the Dance Tent, where it was pretty much your normal club scene.  Quite good fun bopping around in the crowd, though by that point was feeling a bit hungry and tired.  After a few more glasses of water and a few burgers on the BBQ with a few people we’d met @ the camp site, it was time to wind our weary way to bed – and get a good nights sleep ready for the next day.

After heading out to get a fry up just down the road in Tunbridge Wells, we headed back to the festival site without any problems with traffic – another bonus.  We got there just in time to watch Ladyhawke and The Mystery Jets play two really good sets.  Most of the time was spent sprawled out at the back of the crowd enjoying decent conversation in the sun.  One of the guys we were chatting to took at group photo of us – though on his camera – and we returned the favour (also on his camera).  Unfortunately we’ve not got any contact details for him – so it’s unlikely we’ll see how good (or bad) that photo was :)

Third stage

We then headed to the smaller third stage to catch Fight Like Apes.  These guys had so much energy and reputation that the tent was packed out.  The only spot I could get was next to a bank of speakers right on the edge of the stage which more or less entirely obscured my view of the band.  As it turns out I got an awesome view, as 5 minutes into their set their hairy synth player came running over and started smashing a chair on a barrier, just a few inches in front of me.  The sensible thing to do would have been to step back – but I was a little awestruck.  Not yet found a photo of this – so if anyone could help it’d be appreciated :)  I quite liked their set, simple and energetic, though it was more made by their liveliness on stage, and the atmosphere that created.  Good stuff to dance to though.

Next we watched Super Furry Animals who I thought were good, but definitely there for the older guys in the crowd.  Having not listened to them that much before, their stage show wasn’t that entertaining.  So much so, that I decided to head off to have a go on Booster – a 24 meter high ride, which was pretty kewl.  The only bad thing was that the two chairs on the other side of the pod to me and the guy that went on it were out of order – which meant that whilst we were hanging at the top whilst the other end was reloaded with people, we were hanging face down, rather than sitting up.  I didn’t mind it too much, but to have you entire weight resting against a harness when you’re static somehow feels scarier than when you’re being thrown around.

You must be joking

You still must be joking

We then headed back to listen to The Doves – who were awesome.  They have presence and enough songs to really get the festival going, and all ages were enjoying and appreciating the music.  Their overwhelming message throughout was to boycott Hellmans’ though. (Something I was already doing as a result of not being able to find their ‘Burger Sauce’ at three separate supermarkets in the build up to the festival).  Why?  Evidently their latest advertising campagin is a rip off of the ‘stage curtain’ for the band.  Ho hum.

We decided that heading to the third stage was probably once again a good idea – as the main stage had filled up quite a bit in anticipation of Paul Weller, and not wanting to see The Editors, we headed to the circus tent to watch The Rumble Strips.  They were probably the best band we saw all weekend.  The frontman looked like he’d been enjoying the festivities and forgotten that he was due on stage – yet despite both that, and massive interaction from the crowd, he managed to produce an absolutely awesome voice – helped by the factor that it was obvious the whole band were enjoying themselves.  They trumpet and sax added an element of virtuosity to the l
ine-up, and the songs were those for a summer’s day.  I expect they’ll be playing much bigger stages next year – and I hope that I get to see them their too!

We headed off to grab some clothes – and having packed the camp up into the car – we moved the car closer to the exit of the site.  A shrewd move – we thought.

We got back into the festival more or less as Paul Weller came out.  I expected to be heading over that way, but the guys I was with fancied a bit of 2 Many DJs. I have to admit to being initially disappointed by the change of plan – but one of the guys had sat through the indie music all weekend, despite being a dance fanatic. Well, I wasn’t disappointed.  The atmosphere was immense as the crowd got going purely off the beats being pumped through them by these two guys in Tuxedos on the stage.  I’d completely misinterpreted what this music was all about – it wasn’t so much a listening experience as a complete stage show.  The graphical work on integrating the album covers with the mix was python-esque – and the energy was massive.  People were dancing like crazy, and my mate (who’s pretty relaxed and laid back most of the time) was moving like an epileptic giraffe.  It was awesome to watch and feel the buzz from the crowd.

I headed out to watch a bit of Paul Weller, listening to ‘You do something to me’ – then deciding to head back to the dance tent when he started playing a generic tango waltz.  I’m sure I’ll get a chance to see him again, but the opportunity to get with the crowd inside the dance tent was too strong a temptation.  We went back in a danced our wellingtons off for the next 45 minutes, as the guys mixed some quality tunes together.  The air horn from the crowd just added to the occasion beautifully.

The set finished just before Paul Weller, so we managed to catch the end of ‘A Town called Malice’ before leaving with the crowd to the car park.  And the best bit?  We got in the car and literally drove out of the car park, back out on the open road in less than 2 minutes and heading back home.  The craziest bit – this was what we’d been dreading the most after the reviews of Hop Farm Festival #1 from last year.  However, I hope that the festival can grow and grow.  It’s all about the music.

Twitter Weekly Updates for 2009-07-05

July 5th, 2009

  • Need to buy an expandable NAS Server. Starting with 2TB of Storage – RAID advice welcome. !ubuntu #

  • Kitting out a Recording Studio.. bro going for Mac + Pro Tools, me going for !ubuntu studio. I win on the price front :) #

  • here's a brief overview of the setup I require for my NAS – any Sound Engineers out there to give me advice on capacity? #

  • Walked home from friend's house as was offered some 1992 Taylor's Port.. now left brothers car there and he needs it @ 8am. boo! #

  • Just found out about !byobu – looks awesome!!! (and already had it installed on my jaunty machines) #

  • Spending the morning looking at motorhomes to purchase, how random. #

  • This 20p fiasco must just be a new method of quantitative easing. #

  • Politicians should stop talking and start saying something. #

  • Going to set up a couple of tents in preparation for the weekend. Back in a bit! :) #

  • Had a fantastic day – everything ready for the festival at the weekend. Bring it on. #

  • Heading to bed and gonna definitely get some well-deserved sleep :) #bedtime #

  • Of those that commented, 100% got it correct. I especially like this working: #

  • Can we link this with OSM + GPS traces to improve it further? #

  • #lunchtime :) #

  • Terminator 3 looks more possible today than it ever did. Ah.. #skynet #terminator #

  • football tonight @ PowerLeague Birmingham.. man, I love it. #

  • Bombard me with suggestions for children's charity names. Please use the tag #charityname #

  • Anyone recommend some good, but affordable camp sites around Nottingham? #

  • Old Essay on Human/Computer Interaction in the Gnome Desktop !ubuntu !gnome #

  • Off to prepare for the @hopfarmfestival – will be leaving in a few :) #