Thursday, June 30, 2005

Google Earth

Another day, another Google announcement. This one is a ripper though!

Obviously, Google executives read my recent post revealing my lurve for satellite imagery because they have just release the wicked-cool Google Earth. For free. Freakin' awesome.

Holy crap this thing is sweet. It's like World Wind on 'roids.

What are you still reading for? If you drool over looking at the world as much as I do then get downloading (10 odd meg - but you'll need a fat-ish internet pipe to grab the satellite images on the fly).

Here's the announcement on the Google Blog.

And here's a bunch of interesting places to see with your new favourite gawking tool.

Update: The good folks at Google have now published documentation on KML, the file format used by Google Earth.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

RIAA/MPAA vs the People. 1 - 0.

The Supreme Court of America has ruled against P2P sharing in the much-publicized "MGM vs Grokster" case. Wow. Scary.

OK, so the problem I have with this ruling - in my understanding - is that it provides a precedent for the software developers of specific P2P systems to be responsible for how people use their software. What the? It's akin to stating that the designers of email can be sued for allowing people to send illegal files to each other.

I do have problems with some of the P2P systems - apparently they were trying to "foster infringement" of copyright and that's not on. But the legal precendent that this sets, if it applies to all P2P developers, is concerning.

For what it's worth I believe that any technology should be allowed to be developed. Without restriction. Only how it's used should be of interest to the courts.

Anyway, smarter people than I are writing about this hot potato - here are some links!

Popular Science: Supreme Court Strikes a Blow against P2P Sharing

BBC: File-sharing suffers major defeat

SCOTUSblog: Grokster, StreamCast Lose

Robert Scoble: Major bad news for P2P software

Davenetics: Dowloads No Longer on the DL

Corante: Notes on RIAA and MPAA Press Conference

The actual ruling [pdf]

I dare say that Bram Cohen (creator of BitTorrent) may be a little nervous today...

Monday, June 27, 2005

Google To Launch Online Video Playback

More Google news; it looks like the online behemoth is looking to increase their presence in the video domain:

Google To Launch Online Video Playback

Interesting! Particularly since they are going to use an open source alternative to Microsoft's Media player. MS are likely to be upset.

Update: Rumours are true!

Beever's pavement art

Julian Beever is that guy who does those amazing 3D illusion pavement drawings that were 'doing the rounds' ages ago. Just realised recently that he had a website:

Julian Beever

Just incredible! Gotta wonder how he comes up with them - the computer geek in me is figuring out how to write software to generate them...but maybe the guy is just talented! ;)

Satellite support for Australia in Google Maps

I'm a big fan of satellite imagery. I love Worldwind, Terraserver and Google Maps - I can just imagine so many applications to use the data they present so effectively. Anyway, until recently Australian coverage was poo but Google Maps has began rectifying that situation. Yay!

Here's lookin' at you Australia, using Google Maps

Local search is still poor and coverage patchy (no high detail images east of the Telstra dome in Melbourne and the Sydney Harbour bridge and Opera house are also low-res only though the city is pretty well covered) but it's a start. Keep up the good work Google!

Monday, June 20, 2005

The Ultimate Developer and Power Users Tool List

Scott Hanselman has updated his invaluable list of damn useful tools for power users and developers. Obviously has a .NET slant but still highly recommended. I've tried just about all those tools and agree that they are all worthy of their place on that list!

Scott Hanselman's 2005 Ultimate Developer and Power Users Tool List

Google set to compete with PayPal

It looks like Google has realised that PayPal are sitting on a goldmine. They are now looking to compete in the electronic funds transaction market and I, for one, am all for it.

Google Plans Online Payment Service

Competition in this niche is critical - PayPal are really the only players here and their charges, while on the surface reasonable, are not trivial and soon add up. Competition can only be good for us consumers.

I really wonder if banks know what's going on here. Like the recording industries (music & movie) technology has advanced to the point where the old mainstay institutions are being threatened. And they don't seem to be aware of it.

Sunday, June 19, 2005


Those that know me know that I love my iPod. They probably also know that I avoid iTunes - I think it's a reasonable application, just not ideal for me. However, if you are an iTunes user then you may be aware of the announcement that version 4.9 will support podcast subscriptions.

If you can't wait that long then check out BadApple. It's a plugin for iTunes that does what 4.9 promises right now. Looks nice but I haven't used it - caveat empor! Oh, BTW it's Windows-only.

Personally, I'll continue to use Doppler. It's not perfect but it does the job.

Friday, June 17, 2005

Scott Rosenberg wants a left-handed camera

As a hobbiest photographer, I can understand Scott's desire for a left-handed camera. Just can't see manufacturers making them. It's a question of economics; duplicating tooling, significantly increasings manufacturing costs, test coverage etc for just 10% of people?

Is it really that hard to adjust? ;) I'm pretty confident I could happily shoot left-handed without too much trouble...

As for his comments on trackpoint devices - hell no, can't agree, I think they suck. I have both a trackpoint and trackpad on my laptop and, while competent with both, I find the 'nubbin' just too imprecise. Same argument for a trackball (thumbs just aren't dextrous enough). YMMV.

Marc Pesce: Piracy is Good?

Gotta agree with Frank, this article [part 1, part 2] by Marc Pesce on video piracy - and how it's inevitable and good! - is fantastic.

It's amazing that the movie & television industry, let alone the music industry, is so unaware that they are going to have to drastically change...or become irrelevant.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Google to make an iTunes clone?

Dave Winer, who is a pretty reliable source of software gossip blogged that Google is readying and iTunes-clone. Let's hope he's right!

Melbourne Blogger catch-up

Just got back from the first Melbourne Blogger meet up with Phil, Phil, Michael, James and Cam. We had an enjoyable little discussion about quite a few varied topics - it was great to at least put some faces to names. Hopefully we'll get together again soon, perhaps (as was suggested) over some Scotch Malt Whiskey. :)

Personally I felt like shit. I've just been floored with some sort of 'flu and couldn't talk much - it physically hurt. Sorry guys if I was out of it! In particular I wanted to talk with Cam a little more about the business model he and Mick have developed for The Podcast Network (maybe that link will bump you guys up the technorati rank?) but it was difficult so I thought I'd get my thoughts out in blog form while they're fresh!

So, my problem with the business model - or any involving podcasts - is that I'm not sure that there's significant money in it as a publisher. The whole point of podcasts, the huge advantage of this 'new medium', is that it's so cheap to publish. In theory anyone can do it with minimal cash and effort.

Actually, I'm going to interrupt myself with an important side discussion; right now it actually takes a great deal of effort to create a podcast. The tools are poor - it's not easy to produce a high-quality, effectively compressed audio recording. Nor is it trivial to create and update RSS feeds with enclosures. It's not rocket science but, especially for non-techy people, it's far from easy.

Further, as Cam and Mick found out, it can cost a lot of dosh if your podcast becomes even moderately successful due to high bandwidth fees.

However, both of these issues (ease of creating and cost of bandwidth) will eventually go away. Tools will get better and distribution methods (like using bittorrent) will improve. I firmly believe that within a reasonable time frame (something like a year or two?) it will be easy and cheap enough for my Mum to create and publish a podcast if she so desired.

So, moving on...One of Cam's three pillars of goodness ;) that TPN provides is that it ensures a high quality of show. Listeners will be more inclined to listen to a 'cast from TPN than somewhere else because it's on TPN. A fair point. But perhaps that assumption doesn't hold in a blog-rich world. Personally, I listen to podcasts based on what other bloggers tell me. If there's a really good quality podcast then I'll find out about it from the blogs I read. News travels very fast these days and if someone is producing something - anything - of high quality (or low quality!) you hear about it damn quick. Maybe publishers, and advertising, are a lot less important than they used to be.

I'm not completely sold on that last paragraph myself but thought it might be worthwhile saying it anyways... :)

A couple of other links to stuff we talked about:

Gretchens blog (the drama began on June 1st)

Robot hand (so cool!)

Thanks to Phil for the use of the centre (loved the fire!) and to Cam for organising.

[I see Cam has already blogged about the night!]

Update: A couple of photos are online.