Content from 2011-02

Paktahn Progress
posted on 2011-02-01 05:39:00
In the last 3 weeks, Paktahn 0.9.2 and 0.9.3 have been released. Go install or upgrade it, quick! Leslie Polzer has passed on the role of Maintainer to me and I was privileged to accept it. Paktahn had been pretty quiet from May-Aug 2010 and was practically silent Aug-Dec 2010. As a consequence, a big part of my focus right now is revitalizing the project, making it clear we're still working on it and making it easy for new contributors to join in.

The biggest focus of the last two releases have been bugfixes, unifying the code style and reorganizing the project some. For example, my old gitorious repo has been taken down, all the TODO items are now in one place, etc. That doesn't mean there are no new features though. Among other things you can now finally upgrade all packages by running "pak -Syu --aur", pak -Ss which behaves like pacman -Ss extended to support AUR and various UI improvements. The rest is visible in the NEWS as always.

My plans for the next two releases can be found in the TODO. The short version is that I'm going to improve our option handling so pak can be used for as many pacman tasks as possible (i.e. -Q*, etc) and clean up the code for the next release. There should also be some small UI improvements. After that, I'm going to get a solid test suite in place. My github repo is the canonical source location at this point but Leslie's Issues page is the canonical bugtracker. As always, please file any bug reports or feature requests you have there. If there's any other feedback you have about the project you're welcome to post it on our forum thread.

I'm going to try to run a tighter release cycle for a little bit. There have already been two releases in January. I guarantee that there will be another point release so 0.9.4 is out by the end of February, I can't guarantee any more than that at this time though. That's all for now. I've got to get to sleep for an early class.
Full of Ideas
posted on 2011-02-01 03:07:54
For some reason I keep coming with ideas that I don't have time to execute on tonight. So this is going to be the dumping grounds.

1) The RIAA creates a service/social network for DJs where they license (probably DRM'd) stem files so people can mashup artists can get exactly the sample they want. You could do a 99 cent per stem model or bundle all the stems for a track for $5 or something. The license would demand that redistribution was forbidden but non-commercial derivative works were fine. The point? Being a mashup artist/DJ these days is all about being a performance artist anyway. DJs and mashup artists often give away their music anyway so this is a straight win for them. Haven't you ever wanted to sample that one track but just the bassline at that one point in the song? Now you can. And now the RIAA can work on monetizing a huge amount of previously *ignored* content that it owns the rights too. The songs aren't the only valuable property.

2) Dope Wars for Mobile with Augmented Reality style, Location-based trades. C'mon. Next time you're at the MARTA station, go hunting for the Smack stash while you wait for the train. Have leaderboards and turf wars. Try to recruit people into your gang or what have you. Play with your friends. Win.

3) I can't wait until the day that livecoding is cool. When will it happen? Probably when people are making sick music live with code on the regular. We haven't seen that artist yet. And it's tricky to think of how you can make code flexible and expressive enough to be a good instrument. There are three types of sounds you'll use in a sense: samples, synths and effects. Beyond that, you need some level of templating/sequencing and mixing support. You also really want a client/server or development/production thing going on. If you're doing it live, unless you rehearse and preplan stuff you're going to come up with some bad ideas. Have a server going that loops the current measure or something and have the DJ's headphones hooked up to the client where you experiment then select a hunk and "push". Oh God do I wish this software existed...

4) A song of the day site...if you don't already know what I'm talking about from my Facebook posts...well, don't worry about it. But think about this: We don't need the RIAA. We already handle both the Distribution and Promotion angles of the music biz either way. And people like sharing music. 8tracks is an interesting model here. It takes the abstract idea of a mixtape and tries to give that a life of its own and socialize it. We can do that for all our media, music is just the easiest at the outset from what I can tell. In my opinion, the only thing like this that's really taken root is reddit for websites. Let's be more interesting.

5) So privacy and censorship are serious issues on many people's minds lately and with good reason. Things in Egypt are pretty crazy. I don't know anything about distribution or security but using things like PGP and XMPP OTR have made me wonder how we can make them ubiquitous, largely unnoticed, user-friendly and everyday phenomena. I'd say it's just a question of ensuring that stuff is activated on shipping products but then you have to deal with key management. Users don't want to have to put their keys on a new device or fiddle around so their identity is established and stuff interoperates. I don't have a solution for that...and that is the real issue. It occurred to me though that with all the data stored on social services an interesting way to handshake with your friends would be to prompt them to disclose their most recent foursquare check-in or last.fm scrobble and confirm it against the upstream servers. It's interesting in the sense that it should change regularly so no key is valid for a very long time. It's interesting in that you could randomize which service was used (Facebook activity, foursquare, last.fm, tripit, youtube, reddit, etc). It just interests me. The problem is all that data is usually publicly available anyway. I'm also not a security wonk so I'm sure the idea is riddled with dumb even if the data was private. Oh, well. I guess my point was that's easier in some sense than key distribution because no regular person knows or cares what a private key is. But they're all interested in their social data. Hmm.

PS: Yes, privacy and anonymity are two separate and equally important issues. I'm talking about privacy above.

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