This is the website of Abulsme Noibatno Itramne (also known as Sam Minter). Comments here or emails to me at abulsme@abulsme.com are encouraged... or follow me on Twitter as @abulsme.

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Thoughts on Mozy?

For the last few days I’ve been trying out Mozy for offsite backup, adding a bit more for it to back up each day. Does anyone out there have any thoughts or experiences on Mozy they would like to share, either positive or negative?

Double Time

A few weeks ago I complained that while the iPhones new speed adjustment feature for podcasts was neat, it was buggy and stopped me from listening to podcasts the way I want to (randomly shuffled and mixed with music). That is all still very much true. (Although hopefully Apple will fix it at some point.)

The end result here has been a rapid collapse in the amount of music I listen to when I am using my iPhone, as if I have to actually CHOOSE, I have to be in a pretty rare mood to choose music over a podcast. If they are mixed randomly, I can have both and I’m happy about it, and the mix generally actually even favors the music. But if I’m in the car for 20 minutes to drive to or from work, I’ll put on podcasts, not music.

Now, I can’t shuffle them any more, so I’ve been listening to them ordered by age, so I’m always listening to my oldest unlistened to podcast. Which is OK I guess.

But then comes the double time stuff. This is GREAT. It is generally not hard to listen to at all. I can listen to double the amount in the same amount of time. And I actually find that I am getting more out of it and retaining more of what I hear. Because the speed of the speech now (almost) keeps up with my thought. (I could probably actually go up to triple speed and that might be perfect for a lot of these.) It makes you realize just how SLOW people are talking normally. Especially some people. The double speed just seems to make everything more easy to engage with.

And yes, I even listened to my own podcast this way, and yes… it is much improved by being compressed from an hour to half an hour at double the speed. It tempts me to figure out a way to speed it up before publishing… then I could speed it up EVEN MORE on the iPhone. :-)

I find it annoying though that you can’t double time the video podcasts. It is making me think of switching to audio only versions where available, or even ditching some of them completely.

Oh, and I sometimes flip to normal speed when listening to music oriented podcasts… although sometimes those are improved by double speed as well. :-)

She Be Sunk, Cap’n

While I was asleep the news broke that the folks who run The Pirate Bay have seemingly finally caved and are selling. (This is everywhere now, but I first saw the news at TorrentFreak.) In the Pirate Bay’s confirmation of the news they do some weak justifications and some talk about how things will move forward, but in the end the news is the same. I don’t think anyone would seriously believe that being owned by a public company won’t fundamentally change most if not all of the things that made the site interesting. (Most prominently or course being a blatant disregard for the law… OK, not quite, they always claimed what they were doing was perfectly legal in Sweden, and they just disregarded laws elsewhere… but still, that was the flavor of things.)

Of course as usual with such things, in the end it will have little or no effect on actual internet piracy, it will just move it around. But it is somewhat more disappointing in this case, as the way in which these folks had been completely defiant and mocking of the entertainment industry was just… entertaining. And they couched everything in terms of higher principals which they were defending. In the end though, I guess years of legal battles and a few big losses on that front can wear you down.

Oh well.

(Oh, and if this deal actually goes through, I’m guessing the buyers will soon find their purchase useless and without much value… either they will fundamentally change and lose most users and the value of the brand, or they will try not to and get crushed by legal pressure that a small scrappy private outfit with a “mission” could tolerate but a public company never could. The press release from the company seems to indicate the first possibility rather than the second.)

iPhone 3.0 Bug with Shuffled Podcasts

After happily popping around my iPhone exploring the update, I finally settled down to listen to stuff on the iPod. Soon thereafter I discovered a bug which makes my normal way of listening to my iPod completely impossible. It has to do with what happens when you have a playlist that includes Podcasts and you try to listen on shuffle mode. Most simply put, it does not work any more. At least for me. There is of course always the chance that only I am screwed up. Previous to the 3.0 upgrade it worked perfectly.

In case anybody with Apple contacts happens to come across this post, here are the details:

  • I have a 16Gb iPhone 3G (White)
  • Normally podcasts have the “Skip when shuffling” option selected, so they are not included in shuffling. You have to explicitly set this option if you want Podcasts to be able to shuffle. In my case, I have an Applescript that runs hourly that unchecks this option on all podcasts, so all podcasts are always eligible to be included when I shuffle.
  • I have a smart playlist set up to include all my unplayed podcasts. I have this playlist set to sync with the iPhone.
  • I have another smart playlist which includes the 10% of my music library that I have listened to least often. My full library is too large to fit on my iPhone, so I sync this smart playlist, but not the source (a playlist that includes almost all the music in my library).
  • I have a third smart playlist that combines the two playlists above. This is the playlist I use most often, and exclusively on shuffle mode.
  • If I go to the Unplayed Podcasts playlist and hit shuffle, if an audio podcast is chosen, it will play for about 1 to 3 seconds, and then most of the time it will stop playing the podcast that was chosen at random and it will immediately start playing whatever podcast is actually first in the playlist and will play that normally. Occasionally, the iPod application will simply crash instead and I’ll find myself looking at the main iPhone screen. The exception is if the podcast that comes up is a video podcast, in which case things seem to work normally until the podcast ends and the next thing shuffled in is audio.
  • In my combined playlist that includes both music and podcasts, it will shuffle normally until it gets to an audio podcast, at which time the iPod application will invariably crash after I hear the first 1 to 3 seconds of the podcast. Once again, video podcasts will work normally.

I had at first been very excited to see the new podcast controls in the iPod app that allow you to skip back 30 seconds, email the podcast to a friend and play the podcast at double speed. I can see those being useful. (I’m not sure how I got to see them properly, if I picked a podcast manually it was an accident, I don’t usually do that, I use shuffle mode almost exclusively, there is a chance I suppose that the first podcast I got actually worked properly, but I have not been able to reproduce that since on shuffle mode, only when I pick a podcast by hand.)

I note without knowing if it is relevant, that the screen real estate used by the speed selector for podcasts is in the same location as the shuffle control usually is, but in video podcasts (which work fine) the speed option is not available, so the shuffle control still shows. So the cases where there is a problem are only those where the speed control is available and taking up the normal shuffle real estate.

I know I may be an oddball here with a non-standard usecase, but I subscribe to a lot of podcasts, and I like to be able to just go into my unplayed podcasts, put it on shuffle and hear what comes up. Intermixing with music may be odder still, but I like the variety of the occasional talk interspersed with music.

Anyway, the iPod app actually outright crashes on a reproducible basis here in one scenario, and in the other produces oddball behavior other than what the user requested, so even if my use case isn’t super common, I hope there will be a fix in an update before too long.

In the meantime, if I want to listen to a podcast, I have to pick it by hand rather than just saying “pick me something!” and mixing in podcasts with my normal music mix won’t work either. Since these are my two normal ways of using my iPod, I’m basically stuck with either not using the iPod function on my iPhone at all… perhaps going back to using an iPod shuffle for this… or completely changing the way in which I use it…

I don’t want to have to choose if I am listening to music or podcasts, or choose which podcast I want to listen to first second or third. I want to shuffle damn it.

Please fix this.

PS: Also, if anyone has handy a link to an official way of submitting a bug report for the iPhone rather than just posting it on my blog, please forward it on, and I will submit this that way too.

(Note: Made minor edits at 18:10 UTC.)

Toasting Television

On the heels of this weekend’s powerful demonstration that American TV News no longer has anything at all valuable to add to the mix, a reminder that the same is basically true of the rest of television.

Brandy and I have been actively debating if there is any point to continuing to subscribe to DirecTV, or if it is time to just rely on the Internet plus Netflix for all of our video needs. At the moment the balance seems to be (barely) on the side of keeping the DirecTV, but it is a close call, and could shift at any moment.

My last real reason for having it was live breaking news. That is gone now. Amy and Brandy still have some reasons to want it though. Especially Amy it seems. We shall see.

The TV Business Is Toast
(Henry Bloget, Huffington Post, 16 Jun 2009)

The traditional TV industry — cable companies, networks, and broadcasters — is where the newspaper industry was about five years ago:

In denial.

There are murmurings on the edges about how longstanding business models will come under pressure as Internet distribution takes over. But, so far, the revenue and profits are hanging in there, so the big TV companies don’t really care.

Specifically, the TV industry’s attitude is the same as the newspaper industry’s attitude was circa 2002-2003: Stop calling us dinosaurs: We get digital; We’re growing our digital businesses; We’re investing in digital platforms; People still recall ads even when they fast-forward through them on DVRs; There’s no substitute for TV ads. Traditional TV isn’t going away: Just look at our revenue and profits!

After saying all this same stuff for years, the newspaper industry figured out the hard way that you can’t stuff the genie back in the bottle. And over the next 5-10 years, the TV industry will figure this out, too.

The rest is worth reading too.

Pirate Bay – Guilty

This is sad.

The Pirate Bay Trial: The Official Verdict – Guilty
(enigmax, Torrent Freak, 17 Apr 2009)

Just minutes ago the verdict in the case of The Pirate Bay Four was announced. All four defendants were accused of ‘assisting in making copyright content available’. Peter Sunde: Guilty. Fredrik Neij: Guilty. Gottfrid Svartholm: Guilty. Carl Lundström: Guilty. All receive 1 year in jail.

The court said that the four defendants worked as a team, were aware that copyrighted material was being shared using The Pirate Bay and that they made it easy and assisted the infringements.

While the court did not agree with the plaintiff’s estimates of losses (around $12m), it still set the damages at 30 million SEK ($3,620,000). This a hugely significant amount and the court has ordered that the four should pay this amount between them.

Peter Sunde has already explained that this decision does not mean the end of the line in this case. There will be an appeal which means we are still far away from the ultimate decision – possibly years away.

As for the fate of the site, Peter has already promised that The Pirate Bay will continue. The site itself was never on trial, only the four individuals listed above.

It certainly seemed from the coverage of the trial itself that the defense had made a better case, but of course I’m not actually fully versed in any law, let alone Swedish law. Therefore I won’t speak at all toward if this was a “correct” decision. But any policy or law that makes what the Pirate Bay does illegal is bad policy or law. If this is upheld after the appeals, and if trends toward strict copyright laws continue, then I predict there will be a significant backlash as soon as the generations currently aged 25 and under who grew up with the internet and with file sharing as a normal part of life start reaching positions of power… perhaps before then.

Using the law as a ham fisted way to maintain and support outdated business and economic models that stifle innovation and the free flow of things with a near zero marginal cost of reproduction (basically any text, images, audio or video at the moment, and probably more things in the future) may be a tactic that works in the short term, but in the long run it is a losing proposition.

Quite simply, in good old fashioned supply and demand curve terms the ease of reproduction makes the supply essentially infinite which of necessity should drop the price to essentially zero. Using the government to make the reproduction illegal and/or difficult is simply artificially constraining supply to try to prop up the price… at a potentially huge overall cost to the efficiency of the system, which ultimately will be unsustainable.

Anyway. Sad day.

Not Happy

The Slingplayer app for iPhone will only work on the current batch of Slingbox hardware, not the older Slingbox AV’s that we have at the moment. Not happy at all.

Special Upgrade Program for Slingbox Owners

If you currently own an original Slingbox, Slingbox AV or Slingbox TUNER, you are eligible to receive $50 off a new Slingbox SOLO or Slingbox PRO-HD. To qualify, you’ll be asked to enter your serial number to receive your discount.

Sling Media is encouraging customers who own these earlier versions of Slingbox to upgrade to Slingbox SOLO or Slingbox PRO-HD to take advantage of next generation software and services that will only be supported when using the most current Slingbox and SlingLoaded products. Future software includes the highly anticipated SlingPlayer Mobile for iPhone software launching soon.

Current Slingbox functionality will not be affected if you choose not to upgrade, but software like SlingPlayer Mobile for iPhone and future services yet to be announced will only be supported for customers using Slingbox SOLO, Slingbox PRO and Slingbox PRO-HD products or forthcoming SlingLoaded products.

News of this broke on April 1st. Perhaps it is a joke. It should be a joke. Bastards.

Woo! Sling Me!

SlingPlayer for iPhone submitted to app store
(Mel Martin, TUAW, 26 Mar 2009)

Sling has announced that SlingPlayer for iPhone has been submitted to the app store for approval. The company had previously said the app would be submitted this quarter, and it’s in just under the wire.

Sling already has versions for Blackberry, Windows Mobile, Symbian and Palm smart phones. No one can predict when, or if, Apple will approve the software, but there will be iPhone owners with pitchforks and torches outside Apple headquarters if the much sought-after app does not appear soon.

Ding Dong

RIAA Layoffs ‘Bloodbath’ May Be the Beginning of the End for the Evil Organization
(Adam Frucci, Gizmodo, 2 Mar 2009)

The RIAA is currently laying off dozens of employees in what’s been described as a “bloodbath” at the lawsuit-happy organization. Could this be the end of the RIAA?

Hypebot, the site that reported the layoffs, says that the “RIAA as you know it is probably history by Tuesday.” And yes, that means tomorrow. Offices are closing and over 100 people are being shown the door, so this is clearly a serious move.

So what will happen to the RIAA? It’ll probably merge with the IFPI, the European organization currently ineptly suing The Pirate Bay. But really, it’s only a matter of time before that organization bites the dust as well.

Mac on an iPhone


(via 9 to 5 Mac)

Macintosh System 7 running on an iPhone. Nice.

Not that I’d ever actually use it for anything.