Older blog entries for highgeek (starting at number 44)

4 Sep 2001 (updated 4 Sep 2001 at 08:52 UTC) »

MP3.com, Inc., a Vivendi Universal Company

With the acquisition complete and public figure Michael Robertson moving on to other things; I am sure we are going to see a lot of changes at the online music service provider. Now with some fun articles at Hits Magazine and an engineering department that will have to spend more effort to explain technical details to the executive team, we will never know what will come of it. I really hope things go well, because there are still a lot of great people there that I hope will be able to survive these changes without too much hassle.

I really appreciate mbp for posting the engineering perspective on VCs. It ironed out some loose thoughts and combined them to a more solid perspective. It would be really great to have some of the rich techie types help finance some technological start ups that can push the envelope. Although, companies like Google are definately showing that with some research done ahead of time you can even conquer the wel established.

Quality of Living

I have been spending a lot of time thinking about this. Especially from my time spend in the bay area. If you look at housing and real estate alone it is soo expensive to live up there it is rediculous. You are going to have to take some serious risks to survive or be willing to deal with the hassles of public transportation or sitting in traffic commuting to more reasonable areas to live.

I spend a few days last week with a friend of mine living in Las Vegas. It put a whole new perspective on my life and made me think about getting a better perspective on the pros-n-cons of living in San Diego, California or just about anywhere in the world for that matter. The differences to what kind of real estate you can afford and the different tax laws in different states and countries are tremendous. It can really make a huge difference in how you spend your day and how much money you really would need to have an enjoyable life.

Technology

I have been spending some time learning about Cocoa frameworks to get familliar with the Audio and Quicktime APIs. I have also been spending some more time playing with the Darwin Streaming Server. It has been a good experience and since I am doing it in my own time, I do not have to worry about how long I am taking and if I am hitting the unrealistic deadlines as set by management. Which is always good.

There are a couple of other projects that have been on my mind for a while such as upgrading components on a few of my servers and writing some cataloging code for a database of our music collection. If we do not get that up soon enough, it could get pretty seriously out of hand keeping track of things. This might finally be an excuse to integrate some of the MusicBrainz project. To be able to integrate the loads of Vinyl I have it might make sense to record some of it for cataloging and back up purposes. Scanning in the barcodes would probably also be a good idea. It will be great to have this finally in place, it will make music purchasing soo much easier and knowing what ever happened to that one CD and how come I ended up with having two copies of it.

Elektrode Studio

I have been spending some more time learning the insides and out of the new Virus TDM Synth plugin that I finally got working. (Yeah!). It required me to get a particular USB floppy drive for authorization, since my G4 (DA) doesn't come with a floppy drive. It looks like some of the plug-in developers are trying to use other authentication methods such as an OPIE challenge response system linked to your hard drive by Kind of Loud to new hardware USB keys such as the iLok and the iButton. Now I wonder how the labels would have felt if you needed one of these to listen to your music online (ala my.mp3.com)? I mean these keys are useful in crypto cases such as SSL and such. But I am sure you can see it now, someday some one will steal your wallet containing your music card and your eyeballs to be able to hear the latest tunes of their favorite artists that you were evaluating.

It is odd how we went from analog synth to software synths and now we are going back to physical circuitry for authentication purposes. You are going to have to replace all your rack modules with USB keys and hubs.

Anyways, till next time

Pho and Online Music

tunesmith: Glad to hear you found pho. It has been an interesting list for a while but now that most online music startups have gone bust it has been mostly noise with the occasional worthwhile post. People are trying to figure out where to go to next and waiting to see where things like MusicNet and Duet end up. Hopefully it will get better again once the momentum starts going again.

Covalent Technologies, Inc.: No more

After my last diary incident at the office things have had been nothing but political and a strive to make as much money with as little effort as possible. It mainly has been an exhibition of power by upper and middle management which really didn't sit right in my stomach. So last thursday I send in my letter of resignation after I concluded it wouldn't get any better. This was confirmed by getting a reply to my resignation from the CEO containing the single word "Boring". It is really a shame because the place had soo much potential and had a very talented group. Oh well, now it is time to locate the next great thing I believe in to contribute to. If you know of anything that might be of interest, feel free to contact me.

Electronic Music

I have been spending a lot of time these last few days in my Studio work on a new track. On top of recording some mixes of my favorite records to come out in the last year or so. It has be quite productive and has allowed me to get away from life for a little while. With all this emotion and energy being replanted, I actually feel that the new track and mix are looking to be some of the best work done todate.

After seeing Anthony Pappa at DNA Lounge a few weeks ago, I went to go see Cass dee-jay at Spundae @ Circus. He played a magnificant set which was nice, energetic and dark. Probably the best set I have been to this year. Tonight I am going to see if I can see Satoshi Tomiie and Scott Bond play at Giant or I might swing by Spundae againto see Lee Burridge on the decks.

Jabber

I spend a few hours last night reading the Jabber protocol spec and playing with the server and clients. From my experience using Gale and comercial IM systems, I must say that Jabber has a lot of potential. I am going to see if I can write some code against it to get a better idea of how it works in practice. Maybe looking into a gale - jabber gateway could be interesting.

There are plenty of things to do. It is now a matter of figuring out what would be the best thing for me to focus on.

1 Aug 2001 (updated 1 Aug 2001 at 23:17 UTC) »

CD Copy Protection

Looks like someone has spend more time looking into the new Music CD Copy protection that got launched by the majors. Playing with the error protection bits is something I could have seen coming, but didn't really think people would have actually gone for it. Bummer.

Online Music

Some other interesting articles are on MP3.com's last quarter and how Online Music should go Hollywood and an interview with Rep Rick Boucher on the DMCA. TheStandard has been posting a lot of news/articles on online music. Gotta find more time to read them all.

29 Jul 2001 (updated 29 Jul 2001 at 01:50 UTC) »

Online Journals and Diaries

Well, this week I found out that public diaries and journals aren't always a good thing. People tend to missread or interpret what is written and hold it against you. Regardless of how hard you try to make something succesfull or try to create the best you mention a single word in your diary and it all comes out like you do nothing at all.

Add telecommuting to the puzzle and life becomes even more unpredictable. I can see diaries like these become an issue when you discuss trade secrets or explain how easy it would be to by pass security, but even simply stating what you do on a particular weekend or things you care about can be taken the wrong way.

I said it once and I will say it again, politics only provides a way for the most expressive people to gain a voice that could ultimately undermine everything you have done.

O'Reilly Open Source Conference in San Diego

I spend a few hours last week at this conference and I must say it was great to be able to run into soo many people you haven't seen for a while at the same time. it is like having a reunion, except this time it was in my home town. I also saw a few people from my old stomping grounds such as tommy, bmd, scottb and geekd.

I met a few new people have been getting active on the Apache front. And this occasion also allowed to show some friends one of the better mexican restaurants in old town. It was good to finally meet people such as ask with whom I have talked many times online, but never ran into in person.

I mainly was there to be able to give some people rides and go to a few meetings, since certain people such as dirkx, rbb and dougm where in town for the conference.

Peer 2 Peer

This movement is really taking all the hype it can get and moving forward. This totally reminds me of what started the MP3 movement. Many companies such as LimeWire, Kazaa, Edonkey and San Diego's FirstPeer are taking a stab at the market. It all sounds very interesting technology wise, but I find it hard to see how you would make any money at it, which is good for a pay check, but ultimately why most people start companies anyways.

MacOS X

I am getting really close to getting my MacOS X machine to be what I ultimately look for in a client OS. Of course having my normal Macintosh programs work such as ProTools and other audio software would be ideal, but I guess it will still take a while. I really need to spend some time looking at the Audio API. Thanks to XonX, Fink I now have enlightenment 16.5 running on MacOS X next to my Omniweb browser windows. A few hours hacking on the weekend and boom! Look at what you get. It is funny though as many people have told me that soo many open source people are starting to run a proprietary OS on their desktop/laptop. Pretty odd, but I guess you run what solves all your needs and MacOS X is definately the closest OS from what I can tell.

MP3.com Summit

After going to 3 of these and finding to be less technical and more and more business oriented I am happy to say I ended up missing this one. Everyone is pessimistic about the music's future, although there is still a lot to be done and there is still a huge future it is just not going to be something easily grabbed without serious research and market testing.

Distribution and Quality are still serious issues today. Licensing is another issue that is really holding up just about everything. MENTAL NOTE: Get a lawyer before putting your latest creation live. ;-)

Work

I currently get the greatest pleasures of learning how the installation procedure works on the Microsoft Windows platform. I guess there are still people who want our software to install smoothly and run on this excitingly confusing platform. It is definately interesting, but the last thing I want is people to realize that I am understanding this and they might get the bright idea that maybe I should work on this for a long time. No thanks! So, yes, I am learning the Installer SDK.

I am getting to do all sorts of different things ranging from a little XML work (the reason I actually got hired), build and install environment hacking, performance tuning, network architecture and research on things such as Audio/Video. I really just wish I could continue hacking on XML and I18N issues. I will have to find time in after work hours for the real fun stuff.

San Francisco

This Tuesday I will be at Covalent's Headquarters in San Francisco for some meeting and most likely will try to stay the entire week, so I can hit up some clubs on the weekend and see Darren Emmerson at Nikita and Anthony Pappa at Red Square in jwz' newly opened DNA Lounge. If you are up in SF during the week and want to meet up, let me know. It is going to be interesting to be working from the office again, I am not sure if that is going to be productive or counter productive. We will find out I guess.

Music Industry

After a week ago wondering what happened to MusicBank (2) from San Francisco. I now find another startup attempting to do the same thing, but with WMA.

FullAudio seems to have secured licensing from BMG and EMI. The author of the article states that this is the first subscription licensing done by EMI or BMG, but mean while MusicBank and MP3.com both have the licenses for subscription. So, I am not totally sure where he got his statement from. FullAudio's executive team listed on their website, does not show any technical backing, which makes you wonder if they are totally relying on MS SDKs (see IP vs SDKs below). It will be interesting to watch how this $15 million of funding will manage.

I am surprised to see we have another contestant trying to fight the big five. It just looks like consumers and startups have no chance in fighting big label money. So far artists have felt "milked", pretty soon we probably can add startups and consumers to that list.

19 Jun 2001 (updated 19 Jun 2001 at 03:32 UTC) »

ApacheCon 2001 Europe

I got word back from my ApacheCon proposal. I really should have submitted something for the O'Reilly Open Source convention since it is going to be held next month here in San Diego. Oh well. I got accepted to do an updated repeat of my "Audio and Apache" talk, but my talk on "XML and I18N" from my experiences parsing mail files and my experience with I18N issues with designing the MP3.com publishing is accepted only for fallback purposes.

It is kind of a bummer, because I would have rather had the talks the other way around. I don't mind doing an updated talk on "Audio and Apache", but figured I would rather present something new on a topic not directly covered yet. Oh well, next time I guess. Now I need to figure out if I am going to go to Dublin and if/how I am going to be able to cover the cost of taking my S.O. with me.

Work

Work has been going great. Started working on new projects that are semi exciting but more a direct need for the company. I am pretty happy about it and hope I can avoid a lot of the hassles by keeping some things my hobby and not having to argue about it.

Music

I have been in the process of labeling and organizing all my CDs and Vinyl in such a way that I can finally figure out what I want in a split second while DJing or at least keep the cases with the actual pressing. My S.O. and I have been busy coming up with a flexible database schema that we can use for a database to keep track of what we have what we like and don't like and how every musician is related to the next. Great stuff before I dive back into doing some studio work, playing with instruments rather then mixing.

I also can't wait till a lot of the Pro Audio tools that I use on the Mac move forward to MacOS X. I will actually be able to do some perl scripting against things and use some of the useful DSP/MIDI code that exists on the net and contribute back to it.

Lots of new political games being played in the industry with the release of ProMP3 and other exciting little tools that are patented and closed source. Oh well, it can't rain all the time.

13 Jun 2001 (updated 15 Jun 2001 at 02:46 UTC) »

Server Move

Chris and I spend most of our monday evening moving our co-lo server between two facilities of Allegiance Telecom. We finally got our server upgraded and moved to the new facilities, a task that was upon us for more then a month. We still got some bugz to work out, but I am pretty happy with the result so far. You can notice, however, that we are now served by a corporation where the best communication channel is the one through the customer. Too bad we lost our 200+ day uptime. Oh well, we seemed to be better homed though. ;-)

Work

Well, I spend a day and a half in San Francisco last week to get an idea of how much has changed since the last time I was up at HQ. It was an engineering get together to cover a lot of the re-organization that was done to make things more "efficient".

The coolest thing is that I am finally back on a project, so I will have to drop most of the Audio/Video and XML work for working on more immediate requirements. So, far so good, since it could have been a lot worse.

I also got a word from a few folks stating that this silly internal engineering politics, that has been bogging me down and frustrating me to a point I have not interest in doing anything anymore, will be held under close watch and ultimately killed. I have been trying to not respond to anything that looked remotely like a political pitfall, so hopefully we can all work as a team in the near future. The future is starting to look more brighter by the day! Now only if the market could also take a turn for the better.

IP versus SDKs

MP3.com has furthered their interest in MS WMA Technologies for use in their PLuS service. Again this is how Microsoft is winning has people develop stuff for their Windows platforms. This is because of the wealth of APIs (good and bad) that are available where instead of writing their own they take the APIs/SDKs and use those because it is an easy way to get a product out that does what is required short term. Now I have had similar discussions with people from the office and find it interesting that now that we are in DOT COM land we do not want to re-invent the wheel, but at the same time we do not even consider rewriting the wheel when you have no control over the existance and stability of the wheel in further revisions of the product.
Update: I just noticed that the Yahoo! Player requires MSIE and WMP, so most likely makes use of the API/SDKs as well. It seems like the major client side players are Microsoft, Real and Apple. Yahoo! still has some of the pie with their server side technology when they acquired Broadcast.com.

Start Ups

Big corporations are definately using the startups in every way you look at it. The pressure created by buzzwords such as "Time to Market" and "High Margins" (which contradict btw) are what can bring great ideas to the ground. Doing a large amount of research and development over a year or so to create valuable IP is in these start ups unthinkable.

There are a few exceptions such as Packet Video and Transmeta, but the hype is very high and the recent economic slump isn't not helping. It is killing "experimental business plans" but also lots of necessary research and IP development for start ups to compete with the big boys. Regardless of serious stock drops, it is the big corporations that are winning.

Music Industry

Looks like Subscription services are still a go. Press Play (formerly Duet) now has a site and a new CEO. My mod_icecast idea, executed by Brian Aker, seems to be taking off. The biggest thing that still needs to be implemented is HTTP Range header support in HTTP MP3 Players. This might force the issue a little and will have more people looking at RTSP/RTP in the long run.

Real Networks, Inc. is keeping their options open and seem to be considering joining the Press Play team as well to provide them with RTSP/RTP which makes total sense from a business stand point. Why should they care who has the better solution as long as it is based on Real IP. Hopefully they didn't sign an exclusive when they joined MusicNet.

Also seems as if MusicBank has fallen of the face of the net, who knows why but I am sure some of the big five or the economy had something to do with it.

Audio

I have been spending more time with audio effects and different codecs and building my music database today. I read an interesting article that compares LAME encoded MP3s with Ogg Vorbis. vorbis now as an RTP Payload draft with some pretty useful APIs under decent licensing, I might have to convert everything I own into that, but that would mean re-encoding everything which would take forever. On the other hand, I will be able to have all the source code and APIs available to manipulate it forever for personal use, which makes me the boss over my own "backups".

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