Free Culture!

I helped put together the new Creative Commons CD featuring all sorts of great licensed music, and it’s all available for download.

Now that the pool of CC-licensed music has grown, we had a great deal of choices and as a result there are all sorts of songs in the mix. I’ve been listening to these songs for months and it’s hard to pick favorites, they’ve all got some strengths. Don’t miss the bonus remixes too, the creativity there was amazing.

The cost of consumer privacy

I recently signed up for phone service, this time with Verizon/GTE, and like my PacBell line in the bay area, they wanted to charge me for not listing my phone number in all their directories. I could argue that consumer privacy isn’t a special privilege and that the whole idea is preposterous that I need to pay them not to sell my name, number, and address to anyone that wants it, but PacBell/SBC charged a negligible 26 cents a month. I wonder if such a low charge even recoups the accounting costs, but it seemed like such a ridiculous amount I paid it without protest. Verizon, however, charges five times as much at $1.25 a month. Fifteen bucks a year to maintain my own privacy is no longer a negligible amount.

Years ago, phone companies developed business models where they would sell space in white and yellow pages, and eventually the complete listings to telemarketers and other companies. If I don’t want to take part, I have to pay to make up the difference they could be making by selling my info. I can’t think of any other business where this is acceptable, but it seems pretty messed up.

Crap. Goodbye Elliot.

Elliot Smith killed himself today. I downloaded a few songs of his back in the Napster heyday and ended up buying a few CDs. I had the opportunity to see him live a few times in SF, but never went.

Crap, I really liked his stuff.

It’s a little weird, in a life-imitates-art sort of way, to realize his song was used in a suicide scene (in The Royal Tennenbaums), and now he’s gone and done that himself.

The Bl ö g B ö ö kc ä se

This is dangerous (to my bank account): IKEA has finally embraced the web. You can order some stuff online and they have their entire catalog online, either as a painful flash interface, or you can just download the whole thing as a PDF.

After spending weeks browsing through expensive modern furnishing and top o’ the line interior design catalogs, I’m impressed at how cheap IKEA remains and how closely they pay tribute/copy classic designs (pdf of a room that looks vaguely Eames-ish or Danish 1950s). I guess it’ll always be considered semi-disposable swedish furniture, but many of their pieces are looking lovlier than ever.

That reminds me: I used to joke about “The IKEA rule.” If you were moving from one region of the country that had a local IKEA to another that also had a nearby store, you had to destory or give away all your IKEA products, then repurchase at the new location, ’cause all that fiberboard ain’t making the trip intact. There was also a point in my life when I longed for IKEA products that used startch-based materials instead of wood. That way, when you wanted to move and get rid of your stuff, you’d simply submerge them in water until they dissolved. No muss, no fuss.


Thanks to Michael Heilemann’s detailed tutorial and some spring cleaning of my desktop files (half an hour ago, there were about 300 files on my desktop, now all organized into directories), my workstation PC looks like this (with windows up, everything minimized — both ~200kb jpegs), and I’m extremely pleased with the look and improved workflow. I share my desk with a powerbook I customized to behave more like windows, and now I can get both desktops to behave almost exactly the same.


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update: Noooooooo!

second update: fer chrissakes!


I’ve been a happy customer of the iTunes Music Store, but in order to let my TiVo stream music through my home theater system, and in order to hear music on my MP3-playing car stereo system, I have to first burn everything I buy to a blank CD, then import them as MP3 files. It’s a pain and makes a lot of 10 cent coasters I have no other use for.

It seems like there should be a way, or a hack, out there to burn the AAC songs to a virtual CD blank on the filesystem, then rip the tracks off that. Still tedious, at least it would remove the need to waste physical media converting to a more widely supported music format.

If anyone knows of a way, email me and I’ll keep it to myself. It’s probably a borderline DMCA violation for me to even think these thoughts, but I bought the music legally and I want to use it in my entertainment devices, not in P2P clients.

update: looks like there is more than one way to skin a cat.