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Comment: Amarok as long as you have enough RAM (Score 1) 317

by rjnagle (#45631083) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Best FLOSS iTunes Replacement In 2013?

Amarok is a really robust solution which can organize files virtually by artist name or by actual directory structure. It lets you customize display (to show composer, etc) and save ratings which is awesome. It has lots of options for sorting.....

The conventional wisdom was that clementine forked from amarok, that amarok got too feature rich and complex. There's truth in that (and clementine works reliably), but amarok just has so many wonderful features. Plus, it is cross platform (although I don't think the Windows version works too well).

My main complaint with amarok is that it is a real memory hog and doesn't play well with Unity on Ubuntu 12.04. I recently upgraded to 8 gigs RAM and those problems mostly seem to have disappeared.

Finally, it's not cross-platform, but I really love Foobar 2000 on windows. It does a lot of things well, especially if you install the plugins. It's a decent-to-good CD ripper too (although dbpoweramp is the not open source gold standard).

+ - Does creating new online accounts to replace old ones prevent online tracking?

Submitted by rjnagle
rjnagle (122374) writes "I'm concerned about the implications of storing personal data on FB, Gmail and other social media sites. I'm less worried about individual data than the accumulating mass of data which potentially be used against me (for targeted marketing, credit reporting and who knows what else?) One solution I'm considering is just to abandon individual accounts and start clean and new gmail/facebook accounts. So while Google/Doubleclick might possess lots of data about me from 2001-2012, from this point on, they only have a clean slate. Would this kind of solution address my privacy concerns? (assuming I remove cookies, change IP address before doing so etc). Or are an individual's profile by now so unique that simply creating a new gmail or Facebook account would fail to prevent these data collection agencies from figuring out who I am? Insights and tips are appreciated."

Comment: Re:data sample question (Score 5, Informative) 476

the short answer is that sometimes CO2 trails temperature increase, sometimes it doesn't.

Usually when CO2 trails climate, it's because of orbital forcing, but interestingly, sometimes that temperature increase will increase ocean acidification and amply carbon feedbacks.

Hey, the carbon/feedback cycle is complex, no doubt about it. But carbon is a forcing -- no doubt about it, and right now GHG are responsible for the lion's share of the present and future temperature increase.

Here's deeper discussion of this issue:

Here's a video that responds to the CO2 trails climate meme

Comment: used CD prices are VERY low! (Score 2) 294

by rjnagle (#43340179) Attached to: Judge Rules That Resale of MP3s Violates Copyright Law

I know you may say that CD prices are expensive based on what new CDs sell for.

But go back to say 2004 and earlier, and you will find for the most part the cost of CDs is practically nothing. You can buy 90% of CDs for $2 or less (plus shipping).

Most of the time, you can buy a CD for $1 or less.

For most part, prices of old CDs are still cheaper than mp3s of these albums.

Comment: Re:actually benefit the artists? (Score 1) 166

by rjnagle (#42031517) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Which International Online Music Stores Are Legit?

One other thought. I'll all for liberalization and reform of copyright laws, but it seems that the pirated sites for Russian music (to take one country as an example) far outnumber the legit sites. I once tried to buy an obscure Russian electronica classic by Agata Kristi and couldn't find any site which sold it legitimately although I could find dozens which distributed it (some of which charged money, some of which did not).

Several years later, I was overjoyed to realize that the Agata Kristi album made it to . I guess you can draw your own conclusions.....

Comment: Re:actually benefit the artists? (Score 1) 166

by rjnagle (#42031353) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Which International Online Music Stores Are Legit?

(I'm the original poster of the ASK SLASHDOT).

Gosh, does that mean I need to learn Urdu just to figure out where they think I ought to buy something? :) Or just to figure out which website is the official site and which is some fanboy's site for the same Pakistani popstar?

Seriously though, it can be time-consuming to go to sites for individual artists. A lot of them don't have good English translations. I tried buying something on a Russian site, and although I know a little Russian, i couldn't follow the instructions.

As a sidenote, I have noticed that a lot of musicians have abominable websites. Setting up a shopping cart for digital downloads might seem like a trivial task for a slashdot geek, but it's unrealistic to expect musicians to get it done. (I like bandcamp, which has simplified a lot of things-- but I doubt that much of the global music scene has discovered bandcamp).

Yesasia sells CDs, and it's a really slick site (I think it might be based in US though). But they don't sell digital -- only CD media...Indian sites have more digital stores, but frankly I have no idea which of them are legit.

And yes, I realize that "rewarding the artist" is a nebulous concept (especially when the artist may have signed the recording contract 30 years ago). But I think it's reasonable for it to be easy to tell which ecommerce sites are legit and which are not.

OT. I'm writing a book about music collecting for geeks. You can see my list of fave jamendo albums free for downloading here


+ - Best way to know which online Intnl Music Stores are legit?

Submitted by
rjnagle writes "I'm an American lover of music who is interested in buying legally music from other countries. How do I know which CD/online music stores are legit and actually benefit the artist? I'm very cost-conscious and prefer indie music anyway, so the types of international music for sale on Amazon/itunes tends to be from the bigger labels. Suppose I wanted to buy music from Pakistan/Ukraine/China/Brazil/Chad. What's the best way to identify which labels or online stories are authorized to sell them? Perhaps all I need is a list of the best known online music stores for each region (, etc)."

+ - 11 Incredible Music Albums you can Download for Fr->

Submitted by rjnagle
rjnagle (122374) writes "You may have heard about Jamendo , a free and legal music sharing site that offers more than 29,000 music albums for free download. Over the last 3 years I've listened to 2200+ albums and chosen the 11 Best Music Albums from Jamendo which you can download for free . Given the fact that Jamendo is reported to be experiencing financial difficulties , Jamendo may not be around for much longer. Is Jamendo too important to the music community to fail? What can it do to make it more attractive as a business model? And where will listeners go to find free & legal music if Jamendo were to disappear?"
Link to Original Source

+ - Is Your Web Site Green?

Submitted by rjnagle
rjnagle (122374) writes "Here's a two part story I wrote on "Is your website green?" Part One examines the challenges of trying to estimate the carbon footprint of a webhosting service or a data center. Part Two examines how data centers try to improve their energy efficiency and whether the new Energy Star rating system for data centers (due April 2010) will change things. Some questions raised here include: 1)should businesses ask for PUE ratings from data centers before they use their services?, 2)how confident can businesses be about the numbers provided from data centers? and 3)is an Energy Star rating system helpful if it doesn't take into account a data center's overall carbon footprint?"

+ - Practical Plone 3 (Packt Publishing)

Submitted by
rjnagle writes "With the proliferation of content management system (CMS) software, a need has arisen for good manuals. When a CMS starts out, user forums are usually the main place for help; then someone will start a wiki, and a few people will write tutorials on their blogs. But if the user base for a CMS grows rapidly, docs quickly go out of date, and it becomes hard to figure out which parts of the docs still apply for the latest release. That poses a risk for someone wishing to buy a technical book (or write one). Technical publishers use several methods to future-proof their books. This includes: focusing on core features unlikely to change between releases, anticipating future development, publishing smaller books that require less time to produce and group writing. Group writing (assigning different people to contribute chapters) has been a popular method because it reduces the burden on one person. As long as the assigned topics don't overlap and are well organized, group-written technical books can be extraordinarily helpful and can be released quickly, as in the case of Packt Publishing's latest Plone book (Practical Plone 3).

First, a little background. Plone is a python-based CMS that has a large user base and many enterprise features. It is deployed on many nonprofits and governmental sites and historically has been easier to secure than LAMP CMS's like Drupal. Data is stored in an object database (ZODB) as opposed to relational databases (although adapters have been written to connect to mysql, postgresql, etc). Plone is based on a platform called Zope, and in fact Plone's version 3 release in 2007 implemented many architectural changes.
Packt has published several Plone books already (including Martin Aspelli's well-regarded 2007 book Professional Plone Development), and the latest book is bigger, covers more topics and should interest a wider audience.

About half of the pages (and a third of the chapters) in this 565 page book contain screenshots to demonstrate functionality which can be controlled with the web interface. However, the book's audience is not really for novice users or content creators (despite the book's subtitle that is a "beginner's guide"). If you wish for something like that, try the excellent Users Guide to Plone --downloadable for free). Practical Plone 3 covers basic topics in Chapters 4-6, but it focuses on several topics which are not easy to find the answers for. This book would be useful for the website administrator or the developer or designer trying to customize Plone for an organization or company.

First, Plone includes lots of features not enabled by default which are hidden in the administration menu (called "Plone Site Setup"). Unlike Drupal (which seems to have a massively complex control panel), Plone Site Setup looks deceptively simple, but lots of things are hidden under the hood. So you need to know where to look. Practical Plone 3 explains how to use a lot of these features: versioning, managing groups and roles, creating custom workflows and using the portlet manager to control what sidebars appear on the left or right of the web page.

Plone differs in many ways from LAMP CMSs both in architecture and concepts. Usually, these differences remain hidden from users. But understanding these differences can help you understand why things work differently in Plone. For example, Plone uses the folder-file metaphor for content objects. They can have states and properties; they can be copied/cut/pasted into other Plone folders even though they don't really exist as files or folders on the file system itself. Another easily overlooked feature is the extensive metadata fields that exist for content types. (it exists in a secondary horizontal tab like this one).

The book chooses (wisely) not to talk too much about third party Plone products (i.e., plugins). But it does go into great detail about using PloneFormGen (an auto-generator of web forms) and cache-fu (an indispensable product for caching performance). These two sections were very well done.

The last half of the book describes how Plone development proceeds, beginning with creating new content types. In Chapter 16, the book covers how to use a graphical UML tool called ArchGenXML to create a new content type based on the builtin content types. Here you use Archetypes, a Plone-specific way of building content types. (Archetypes have been around since Plone 2). After you use the graphical tool to create UML, the ArchGenXML script will generate the product code for you to upload to the server's file system. Later, in Chapter 17, there is a good walkthrough of using Generic Setup to export configuration changes you make in the Zope Management Interface (ZMI) into an XML file on the file system. That allows you to replicate site configuration more easily and keep configuration information outside of the database. Chapter 17 also covers the Zope 3 architecture underlying Plone and how to set up browser views in ZCML configuration files and viewlets and portlets.

Chapter 18 covers the creation of themes and css for a Plone site. This process is slightly complicated because you make your changes to a themed product which is later installed/enabled from Plone Site Setup. The book walks you through the steps of using a python script called paster to generate a series of files which make up the theme product. Editing the css for the theme is possible only if you understand how viewlets work and which files you are supposed to edit (it is not simply a styles.css file).

The last two chapters cover caching and performance tuning. Overall, well done.

In general, this is an excellent guide and it covers a lot of ground thoroughly. Unlike the Drupal series of books by Packt (which struck me as flimsy--they have 12 separate books!), this book combines all the important aspects of Plone 3 into a single book. Everything in the book struck me as important--none of the material seemed like padding. The usage information in the first section was very well done (although it probably needed better coverage of Kupu, the rich text editor). The section on workflows was great, and the explanation about Zope 3 views seemed well done, but the look-and-feel chapter looked imposing. If editing a CSS class means having to edit a theme product and re-add it, that might discourage doing too many tweaks (especially on a live site!). It would have been nice to have an appendix summarizing the configuration files, location of important objects in the ZMI and CSS classes. I did not see any chapter about uploading images or multimedia files on the file system; that seemed to be outside of the book's scope. I am not a developer (I just play one on TV), but there seemed enough meat in the advanced sections to address many contexts.

Finally, it's worth pointing out that the site has a well-organized documentation section. The book may lack a good section on kupu, but has several help topics about Kupu. (In fact, many of the book's contributors also produce documentation for the site). One doesn't read this kind of book for narrative; nonetheless, most of it was easy to read and easy on the eyes. Except for chapters 17 and 18 (which were a little deep), the rest of the book got straight to the point quickly.

In summary: this book is a substantial guide which covers a lot of intermediate and advanced topics. Very well written and organized (with lots of illustrations), but the section on themes was hairy and even a little confusing


Robert Nagle is a technical writer and fiction writer who lives in Houston. He blogs about culture and technology on his idiotprogrammer weblog."

+ - Questions to ask ->

Submitted by
rjnagle writes "My site was one of several million domains downed by the ThePlanet Fire on Saturday. I've been told that our data is "safe" and the data center will have data restored to accounts of hosting services fairly soon. Actually, our medium-sized site still hasn't been restored by our hosting service, and we still have no idea when that will happen. What questions do you need to ask your hosting service about data security? Are there any significant differences between data centers? What features/services should you request for extra data security...and how much do you have to pay for it? The sales information on hosting services all look the same ("over 99.9% uptime", "state-of-the-art redundant hardware", etc). We currently pay $30/month for hosting; we would consider paying more, but we don't know what specific features to look for. (Reliability seems like a subjective criteria...and hard to glean from online forums) What features should we be looking for? And do any specialized services let you rsync your data somewhere else?"
Link to Original Source

Comment: mirror of article here (Score 1) 1

by rjnagle (#23267078) Attached to: Orson Scott Card blasts J.K. Rowling's Lawsuit

Uncle Orson Reviews Everything
J.K. Rowling, Lexicon and Oz

by Orson Scott Card

April 24, 2008
Can you believe that J.K. Rowling is suing a small publisher because she claims their 10,000-copy edition of The Harry Potter Lexicon, a book about Rowling's hugely successful novel series, is just a "rearrangement" of her own material.

Rowling "feels like her words were stolen," said lawyer Dan Shallman.

Well, heck, I feel like the plot of my novel Ender's Game was stolen by J.K. Rowling.

A young kid growing up in an oppressive family situation suddenly learns that he is one of a special class of children with special abilities, who are to be educated in a remote training facility where student life is dominated by an intense game played by teams flying in midair, at which this kid turns out to be exceptionally talented and a natural leader. He trains other kids in unauthorized extra sessions, which enrages his enemies, who attack him with the intention of killing him; but he is protected by his loyal, brilliant friends and gains strength from the love of some of his family members. He is given special guidance by an older man of legendary accomplishments who previously kept the enemy at bay. He goes on to become the crucial figure in a struggle against an unseen enemy who threatens the whole world.

This paragraph lists only the most prominent similarities between Ender's Game and the Harry Potter series. My book was published in England many years before Rowling began writing about Harry Potter. Rowling was known to be reading widely in speculative fiction during the era after the publication of my book.

I can get on the stand and cry, too, Ms. Rowling, and talk about feeling "personally violated."

The difference between us is that I actually make enough money from Ender's Game to be content, without having to try to punish other people whose creativity might have been inspired by something I wrote.

Mine is not the only work that one can charge Rowling "borrowed" from. Check out this piece from a fan site, pointing out links between Harry Potter and other previous works: And don't forget the lawsuit by Nancy K. Stouffer, the author of a book entitled The Legend of Rah and the Muggles, whose hero was named "Larry Potter."

At that time, Rowling's lawyers called Stouffer's claim "frivolous."

It's true that we writers borrow words from each other â" but we're supposed to admit it and not pretend we're original when we're not. I took the word ansible from Ursula K. LeGuin, and have always said so. Rowling, however, denies everything.

If Steven Vander Ark, the author of Lexicon, had written fiction that he claimed was original, when it was actually a rearrangement of ideas taken from the Harry Potter books, then she'd have a case.

But Lexicon is intended only as a reference book for people who have already paid for their copies of Rowling's books. Even though the book is not scholarly, it certainly falls within the realm of scholarly comment.

Rowling's hypocrisy is so thick I can hardly breathe: Prior to the publication of each novel, there were books about them that were no more intrusive than Lexicon. I contributed to one of them, and there was no complaint about it from Rowling or her publishers because they knew perfectly well that these fan/scholar ancillary publications were great publicity and actually boosted sales.

But now the Harry Potter series is over, and Rowling claims that her "creative work" is being "decimated."

Of course, she doesn't claim that it's the Lexicon that is harming her "creative work" (who's she borrowing from this time?); it's the lawsuit itself! And since she chose to bring the suit, whose fault is it? If she had left Vander Ark alone to publish his little book and make his little bit of money, she wouldn't be distracted from her next novel.

But no, Rowling claims Vander Ark's book "constitutes wholesale theft of 17 years of my hard work."

Seventeen years? What a crock. Apparently she includes in that total the timeframe in which she was reading â" and borrowing from â" the work of other writers.

On the stand, though, Rowling's chief complaint seems to be that she would do a better job of annotating and encyclopedizing her own series.

So what?

Nothing prevents her from doing exactly that â" annotating and explaining her own novels. Do you think that if there were a Harry Potter Annotated by the Author, Vander Ark's book would interfere with her sales in any way?

This frivolous lawsuit puts at serious risk the entire tradition of commentary on fiction. Any student writing a paper about the Harry Potter books, any scholarly treatise about it, will certainly do everything she's complaining about.

Once you publish fiction, Ms. Rowling, anybody is free to write about it, to comment on it, and to quote liberally from it, as long as the source is cited.

Here's the irony: Vander Ark had the material for this book on his website for years, and Rowling is quoted as saying that when she needed to look up some 'fact" from her earlier books, she would sometimes "sneak into an Internet cafe while out writing and check a fact rather than go into a bookshop and buy a copy of Harry Potter."

In other words, she already had made personal use of Vander Ark's work and found it valuable. Even if it has shortcomings, she found it useful.

That means that Vander Ark created something original and useful â" he added value to the product. If Rowling wants to claim that it interferes with her creativity now, she should have made that complaint back when she was using it â" and giving Vander Ark an award for his website back in 2004.

Now, of course, she regrets "bitterly" having given the award.

You know what I think is going on?

Rowling has nowhere to go and nothing to do now that the Harry Potter series is over. After all her literary borrowing, she shot her wad and she's flailing about trying to come up with something to do that means anything.

Moreover, she is desperate for literary respectability. Even though she made more money than the queen or Oprah Winfrey in some years, she had to see her books pushed off the bestseller lists and consigned to a special "children's book" list. Litterateurs sneer at her work as a kind of subliterature, not really worth discussing.

It makes her insane. The money wasn't enough. She wants to be treated with respect.

At the same time, she's also surrounded by people whose primary function is to suck up to her. No doubt some of them were saying to her, "It's wrong for these other people to be exploiting what you created to make money for themselves."

She let herself be talked into being outraged over a perfectly normal publishing activity, one that she had actually made use of herself during its web incarnation.

Now she is suing somebody who has devoted years to promoting her work and making no money from his efforts â" which actually helped her make some of her bazillions of dollars.

Talent does not excuse Rowling's ingratitude, her vanity, her greed, her bullying of the little guy, and her pathetic claims of emotional distress.

I fully expect that the outcome of this lawsuit will be:

1. Publication of Lexicon will go on without any problem or prejudice, because it clearly falls within the copyright law's provision for scholarly work, commentary and review.

2. Rowling will be forced to pay Steven Vander Ark's legal fees, since her suit was utterly without merit from the start.

3. People who hear about this suit will have a sour taste in their mouth about Rowling from now on. Her Cinderella story once charmed us. Her greedy evil-witch behavior now disgusts us. And her next book will be perceived as the work of that evil witch.

It's like her stupid, self-serving claim that Dumbledore was gay. She wants credit for being very up-to-date and politically correct â" but she didn't have the guts to put that supposed "fact" into the actual novels, knowing that it might hurt sales.

What a pretentious, puffed-up coward. When I have a gay character in my fiction, I say so right in the book. I don't wait until after it has had all its initial sales to mention it.

Rowling has now shown herself to lack a brain, a heart and courage. Clearly, she needs to visit Oz.

Is your job running? You'd better go catch it!