• Steve Jobs on DRM

    In response to the European countries which are starting to take action against the closed-off DRM software by Apple called FairPlay, Steve Jobs personally responded with an open letter to the European government and the music industry titled Thoughts on Music on the website of the computer company.

    Steve Jobs holding the new iPod nano

    Firstly, he rejects the allegations that iPod and iTunes are strongly locked into eachother, which is simply not true; music ripped from CDs into iTunes can be perfectly played on any MP3 player in the market. And conversely, MP3s created by any encoder can be played on the iPod. So there is no lock-in between iTunes and iPod.

    There is however, a lock-in between the iTunes Store and the iPod; only the iPod can play content bought in the iTunes Store. This is against European free market regulations and this is what Norway started complaining about, getting joined by many other countries including the Netherlands.

    In the letter, Steve Jobs defends their strategy, enabling users to play their bought items on relatively quite a lot devices, be them all by Apple.

    Apple was able to negotiate landmark usage rights at the time, which include allowing users to play their DRM protected music on up to 5 computers and on an unlimited number of iPods. […] So far we have met our commitments to the music companies to protect their music, and we have given users the most liberal usage rights available in the industry for legally downloaded music.

    Remember that the Windows Media DRM is much more restrictive (and much less end-user friendly). So he is proud that Apple could negotiate the relatively free DRM with the music industry. He is however not proud of the fact that they have DRM at all and would much better liked to have completely free content in the iTunes Store. Once a hacker, always a hacker, I guess…

    He foresees three scenarios for the future:

    1. The current system of FairPlay which is only playable on iPods and iTunes, probably resulting in being forced to close the European iTunes Store.
    2. Licensing the FairPlay technology to other media player producers, becoming unable to guarantee the safety of the encryption - Microsoft actually used this scenario, but with the introduction of the Zune they changed into the above one. It shows how weak the system becomes.
    3. Free all content of DRM.

    All have their problems and issues. On the third option, Jobs argues that 90% of all music sales are in fact already DRM-free, namely CDs, and asks the music business why this small percentage should be bothered with the hassle of administrating DRM on the files, while CDs can be ripped and copied just as easily.

    Jobs doesn’t forget to mention that two of the four big music companies are in fact European themselves and that a third is 50% in European hands.

    For Europeans, two and a half of the big four music companies are located right in their backyard. The largest, Universal, is 100% owned by Vivendi, a French company. EMI is a British company, and Sony BMG is 50% owned by Bertlesmann, a German company. Convincing them to license their music to Apple and others DRM-free will create a truly interoperable music marketplace. Apple will embrace this wholeheartedly.

    In this light, it is strange that as far as I know, indie releases on iTunes are also crippled with FairPlay. Most indie artists have a much more relaxed attitude towards internet downloads. If those releases where freed from their shackles, it would certainly put the big music companies in a disadvantageous position and could put a little bit of pressure on them to loosen up.

    So if Steve Jobs really meant anything of what he wrote, Apple should sit around the table with all the small labels and individuals offering their stuff on the iTunes Store, suggesting to release it free from DRM.

    Update: EMI apparently is thinking about selling unprotected MP3 files online, so it’s already starting.

    Lees verder
  • First information meeting of Kalmar

    Well, this is filed under holiday, but of course it will be hard work. I applied today for Kalmar, the Scandinavia Study Tour in 2008 of GEWIS. This study tour will visit the cities of Trondheim (world famous for their bike elevator… well at least among Rocketboom viewers, Stockholm and Helsinki.


    The topic of the tour will be “networking”, as Scandinavia is famous for its advanced telecommunication networks and companies. We will visit some companies and universities, learn about Nordic culture (me likes :-)) and there will also be enough off-time for ourselves.

    It however isn’t all partying. In advance, a case study has to be done and some excursions in the Netherlands (Reykjavík University would call them “Science Trips” ;). Afterwards, a final report is written about the study tour.

    There will be a maximum of 24 participants and judging by the turnout at the information meeting this afternoon, a lottery draw might be needed.

    Subscription is open until 6 April, but you’re encouraged to enter before the February 13th, in order to take precedence. On the other hand, by not subscribing, I will have a bigger chance to get in.

    Lees verder
  • IKEA Hacker

    Obligatory reading material for every IKEA fan!

    hip ikea music machine

    WANTED: your ikea hacks
    i like tinkering with ikea stuff and i know many other people who do too. whatever they may be – a funked up karlanda sofa, an ingenious idea for your pax wardrobe, a creative twist on your kitchen countertop, or even advice on how to finally stop flimsy forby stools from wobbling, i’d love to hear from you. email me at ikeahacker [at] gmail [dot] com.

    Very useful, I say. Although I also read that the LACK wall shelve was hard to install and also EXPEDIT is causing troubles, even needing extra tools to build them…

    Now, I’ve seen JG (flatmate, the ones who know him should know enough ;-)) build up his EXPEDIT on his own without any help nor did he need additional tools, so I gathered this should be doable by anyone.

    Maybe European build instructions are incompatible with Americans? Are our “little differences” a bit too big or does the blogger in question have two left hands?

    Other nice hacks:

    Lees verder
  • Back to Berlin

    Als das Kind Kind war, ging es mit hängenden Armen,
    wollte der Bach sei ein Fluss. Der Fluss sei ein Strom. Und diese Pfütze das Meer. Als das Kind Kind war, wusste es nicht, dass es Kind war.
    Alles war ihm beseelt und alle Seelen waren eins.
    With these words starts Der Himmel über Berlin, a movie by Wim Wenders (who is from Düsseldorf). It is set in 1987 Berlin, the divided Berlin. At that time cracks were already starting to show, the Cold War was thawing.

    Since it’s a West-German movie from before the Wende and I have only been in the former eastern part of the city (except for the Kreuzberg quarter and the Anhalter Bahnhof which Peter Falk thought was a funny name), it showed an image of the the city which was new to me.

    While we were watching it during our weekly movie night, it made me decide I want to go back to the city again – I’ve been there a week in 1997 with a school exchange and returned in 2001 for holidays. This time to maybe see a bit more of the old western part.

    It’s always been in the back of my mind to return to the German capital city and this year it might just fit in the small eurotrip through Austria, Germany and Denmark I’m thinking of making…

    Lees verder
  • News from the skating rink

    Since well over a year now I’ve been speed skating regularly, so maybe it is time for an update on the state of affairs up until now.

    Last week, I got promoted to a higher training group, moving up from the D to the C group. This year, Isis got only a few new members, so there was no direct need of an E group where I was in last year and I started in D right away when I came back from Iceland. So basically, this is my second promotion in one year :)

    The groups differ mainly in the balance of technique and endurance exercises. Last wednesday was my first traning in my new group and we started right away with a warming up of 8 rounds “full speed” (which in this case means at about 70% of your power), 2 rounds rest, 8 rounds full, 2 rest, 6 full, 2 rest and another 6 full. In the D group, we hadn’t done anything more than 6 at all… Ouch.

    Another change from the lower groups is that you are supposed to take on at least one partner to ride along with and to learn from eachother. In D group, you usually did your exercises on your own.

    So far on the news on the ice, along the track I wanted to do something back for the association, so I decided to do some work for the Crisis, the monthly newspaper.

    And someone must have seen my Iceland pictures, because he asked me whether I would be interested in joining the photo commission. This would mean I get photo gallery upload access at the Isis website and occasionally take pictures at activities of the club.

    Lees verder
  • Uurtje IJsland #05: De Aller Allerlaatste

    Nou, vooruit, dit is dan echt de allerallerlaatste.

    1. Bang Gang – Find What You Can Get
    2. Jeff Who? – Barfly
    3. The Sugarcubes – Motorcrash
    4. Apparat Organ Quartet – Cruise Control
    5. Einóma – Hringlögun
    6. The Sugarcubes – Deus (remix)
    7. Bang Gang – So Alone
    8. GusGus – Purple
    9. Pendulum – Follower
    10. Ghostigital – The Heart
    11. Stafrænn Hákon – Rafmagn
    12. Stafrænn Hákon – Gorecki Magnus
    13. Sigur Rós – Refur

    Directe download: hier

    Lees verder
  • Unicode mess


    You might not agree (along with me by the way), but í (decomposition, Apple uses this in OS X) and í (UTF-8), í (UTF-16 and UTF-32) and í (HTML Entity) should result in displaying the same characters. I am actually talking about the Unicode character called ‘LATIN SMALL LETTER I WITH ACUTE’

    We can be glad that there are many different ways to enter the same character and that there is no single way to actually enter the original character and then conclude that we actually want to see the resource under the same name but written in a different way. Who cares whether it is one character or a combined character‽

    Thank you Unicode! AARGH!

    P.S. If you’re wondering what I’m ranting about, these three URLs should go to the same page, two of them don’t:

    The nice thing that Safari manages to show the correct name in the status bar, so with resolved names for links One and Two – the latter one shifted up one pixel, very elegant (?) -, but not for Three, where I just see %ED in the URL. Ironically, this is the only character which actually shows the i acute correctly in the paragraph above. This is way above my head, many different systems at work at the same time, all trying their best to do something.

    Lees verder
  • Boten Anna

    Nee, het gaat niet om een Zweeds liedje wat te vaak is gecoverd, maar om de website van IKEA (ook Zweeds). Je kan Anna namelijk allerlei vragen stellen over IKEA. Heel leuk, maar nu vraag ik me wel af, wie heeft nu wie geïspireerd en kan ze je ook zo hard verbannen (“och hon kann banna, banna dig så hård”)?

    Zo, de eerste post hier sinds ik weer terugben, met meer in het vooruitzicht.

    Lees verder
  • Icelandic in-joke

    Photograph Icelandic in-joke by Christian Luijten on 500px [Icelandic in-joke by Christian Luijten on 500px](https://500px.com/photo/1990236/icelandic-in-joke-by-christian-luijten) </div>

    Lees verder
  • Vík

    Photograph Vík by Christian Luijten on 500px [Vík by Christian Luijten on 500px](https://500px.com/photo/1989950/v%C3%ADk-by-christian-luijten) </div>

    Lees verder
  • Flying over Gullfoss

    Photograph Flying over Gullfoss by Christian Luijten on 500px [Flying over Gullfoss by Christian Luijten on 500px](https://500px.com/photo/1977385/flying-over-gullfoss-by-christian-luijten) </div>

    Lees verder