For the first time in my life I have taken the time to compile a best-of-the-year album list. When you browse through the list you may notice that there are quite a number of indie artists among them. Most of these I discovered through Bandcamp: a website where artists can showcase and sell their music. I use Bandcamp myself too for my ambient project Crows Labyrinth. Bandcamp is a real treasure trove for discovering new music and new artists.
- David Bowie – The Next Day
- Spock’s Beard – Brief Nocturnes and Dreamless Sleep
- Yellowjackets – A Rise in the Road
- Udo Pannekeet – On
- Grey Frequency – When Do We Dream?
- Ulver with the Tromsø Chamber Orchestra – Messe I.X-VI.X
- Steven Wilson – The Raven That Refused to Sing (and Other Stories)
- April Larson – Tempête
- Grey Frequency – Cold Geometry
- Microvolt – Peacedrifts
Read the rest of this entry »
This is not a long analytical piece but just an observation I felt I had to write down. Please keep this in mind when you want to comment on these thoughts.
OS X updates may be much cheaper than Windows updates, but OS X versions have a much shorter lifespan than Windows versions. Add to that the costs for updates of other software you use on your Mac and suddenly you are paying way more than Windows users.
Take Windows XP for example. This version of Windows was launched in 2001. More than eleven years later it’s still used by many people and a lot of new software you can still run on XP. As a contrast, take OS X 10.5 Leopard. Launched in 2007. A lot of new apps and software don’t run on 10.5. The minimum OS X these days is often 10.6 Snow Leopard, but sometimes apps already need at least 10.7 Lion to be able to install them.
While I was writing a comment on Alex Schleber’s post about the iPhone 5 event on Google+ I got a bit carried away and ended up with quite a long comment. Therefore I decided to copy it to my blog. Check the link if you are interested, or join the discussion in Alex’s thread or over here if you like.
My two cents: the iPhone 5 is a cool phone. The glass and aluminum body, the larger screen, faster CPU, longer battery life. All very nice improvements. But my guess is that most 4S users won’t be interested to upgrade to the iPhone 5 except for the fanboys and early-adopters. I am an iPhone 4S user and will definitely skip the iPhone 5 since my two-year contract will expire by the end of next year and the new features are not interesting or major enough for me to justify the upgrade. I’ll wait for the iPhone 6, or 5S, or whatever it will be called. In my logic, iPhone 5 customers will be former iPhone 3GS and 4 owners and the people who got tired of the Android experience when they bought a cheap-ass Android phone about a year ago, running Gingerbread, constantly running out of phone memory. People owning a more recent Android phone with version 3 or 4 of the Android OS probably won’t be interested in an iPhone 5. These Android phones can compete with the iPhone 5 easily on features, screen quality, camera quality, etcetera.
This evening I noticed that the Google+ iPad app was available in the App Store. I downloaded the app immediately and gave it a thorough spin. After playing with it for about 20 minutes I have come to the verdict that it’s underwhelming, at least on user-friendliness. It has quite a number of design flaws in my opinion. Although it looks very slick at first glance, I was longing back to the tablet-optimized Google+ browser version that I have been using on my iPad in the past few weeks.
A couple of things I don’t like about the Google+ iPad app: Read the rest of this entry »
The Klout score is probably the most useless type of statistics I have ever seen. After thinking about it for a while I decided to opt-out and delete my account.
When I wanted to do this, I found out that it was not so easy to find the page to delete my account. I had to use a search engine to find a blog post that mentions the link. For your convenience, here is the link if you plan to remove yours in the future:
The blog post I got this link from is linked below. It’s a recommended read and sums up exactly how I think about Klout. I would not be surprised if you deleted your account too after reading it. What I did not know for example is that Klout also builds a profile of people that don’t have an account with the service. By using the opt-out link above, you will prevent this from happening and have your data removed from their databases.
One final tip: if you deleted your account, make sure you also revoke access from Twitter for Klout and remove the Klout app from Facebook in your privacy settings. Otherwise they still have access to your data.
After checking a few posts on the announced Microsoft Surface tablet, my opinion is that they hit a sweet spot here. It’s going to sell very well. The Surface tablet will run Flash and it will run Windows RT apps that can also run on a desktop in the future when Windows 8 is released. The Surface Pro edition will run all your existing Windows software and can be used in your home environment and in a business setting.
What I am seeing here is that the desktop world and tablet world are integrating slowly but surely. A few years from now, a lot of people won’t own a desktop or a laptop: they’ll own a tablet. It will be more than enough for everyday use for the majority of users. Hell, it will even be enough for most business users as well! This will be especially true if companies start making docks for tablets like Microsoft’s Surface that will transform it into a laptop-like device.
My bet is that an awful lot of people will want to own a Surface tablet or an other Windows tablet from an other manufacturer. People are already used to Windows on their machines, at home as well as at work. The step to a Windows tablet will be much easier for them than stepping into Apple’s iOS world. That will not mean that Microsoft is going to reign the tablet space. Apple is the undisputed leader here and will keep that position for the at least the coming 3 to 5 years. Manufacturers of Android tablets should be more worried in my opinion. They could lose market share to Microsoft’s Surface easily, especially when you consider the hybrid desktop/tablet usage combination.
Finally, here is a post with over a dozen of links to news coverage on the Microsoft Surface:
My favorite progressive rock band The Flower Kings uploaded a trailer for their forthcoming album, which now has a name: “Banks of Eden”. During the 1 minute and 20 seconds preview we hear snippets of the new album. And I can tell you that I like what I am hearing so far!
The text below the YouTube movie gives away that the album will last for 55 minutes. That’s almost short for the Kings’ standards, considering that they released four double albums in the past and the single disc releases were always filled to the brim with music.
The album is scheduled for release on June 18th.
The Flower Kings – New Album Trailer for “Banks of Eden”
After using the new iPad 3 for a day, I can tell you that I adore the new Retina screen. This improvement alone is well worth the upgrade.
Text is so crisp and clear, even tiny letters on zoomed out webpages are still very easy to read. Because of this, reading for a longer period of time on the new iPad is far less tiring for the eyes. I have also noticed that I haven’t touched the ‘Reader’ button in the address bar of Safari once until now, while I did this all the time on my previous iPad for better readability.
An other improvement that I like very much is the better upscaling of iPhone apps on the new iPad. I still use some iPhone apps on my iPad because there is no (good) iPad alternative. On the new iPad, these apps are a joy to use and very readable, especially when you open a webpage in an inline browser.
Last week the blogosphere nearly exploded (see here, here, here and here for only a few examples) with the news of the Flashback trojan, creating a botnet of nearly 600,000 Apple machines. Getting your machine infected is as easy as surfing to a bogus website containing the malware, which installs itself using an exploit in Java. This technique is called a drive-by download. There is no need for you to enter your admin credentials. It’s even worse: the malware will install itself without you noticing it at all. Pretty scary if I may say so.
If you want to know if your Mac is infected with the Flashback trojan, then check out this page on F-Secure’s website to find out and follow the removal instructions if you do find it on your machine.
To make your Mac less vulnerable for this kind of malware attack, I recommend checking out Khürt Williams’ post who explains how to turn off Java in Safari and on OS X level. This makes very much sense when you are not a software developer who has to deal with Java on a daily basis. If you use an other browser like Google Chrome or Firefox, then check out this page for instructions. Khürt also advises to uninstall Adobe’s Flash plugin. This is one bridge too far for me at the moment, but it certainly is a good idea.
A lot of people consider the outbreak of Flashback as a turning point for the Mac platform. Mac users should face it that they are not ‘forgotten’ anymore by malware writers and should install anti-virus protection, just as the majority of Windows users does nowadays. Check this post on AskDifferent.com for a list of anti-virus solutions for the OS X platform.
Update April 11th, 2012: Apple works on software to release the Flashback malware from infected Macs and is working with ISPs worldwide to bring down the botnet’s command & control servers. Read more about this on arstechnica.com.
Here is a link to a very interesting opinion post on how much money Google makes from Android compared to iOS. Estimation of the earnings from Android have been based on Google’s proposed settlement of the Java patents lawsuit that was started by Oracle. I found the numbers surprising and they are probably not too far from the truth.
A number of reporters visiting the Mastering SAP event in Sydney, Australia, wrote that there is a buzz among SAP customers who run their systems on Oracle databases to think about changing their database strategies in the future.
When asked about which database they would likely be migrating to in the future in an informal survey, the majority answered surprisingly: Microsoft SQL Server.
Here’s a quote from BusinessInsider.com that explains why this is actually not so surprising:
It’s attractive because it offers technology similar to SAP HANA (features known as columnar and in-memory storage) and its prices start at $11,000 per terabyte. It can run on comparatively lower-cost hardware such as new servers by Dell, too. Microsoft and SAP have been partners for years.
So why not chose SAP’s new HANA database then? ZDNet says the following about this:
When it came around to a discussion on HANA, there was much debate about whether customers will put their OLTP systems on this as yet to be available database. The question in my mind is whether there is any real advantage in moving to HANA which today, can provide huge speed improvements in analytic style scenarios. The answer is a heavily qualified ‘maybe.’ HANA’s columnar store thrives on complex aggregation queries but is slow when trying to replicate what amount to row store calculations where an Oracle performs very well.
Links to the full articles:
- ZDNet – Oracle DB under threat?
- Business Insider – Oracle Should Be More Worried About Microsoft Than SAP
The Register published the following news on their website a few days ago:
A new study conducted by IDC and mobile-developer platform and services company Appcelerator has determined that as Google’s open source Android operating system becomes more and more fragmented, fewer and fewer developers are putting it on their “must-code-for” list.
When this subject comes up, I always point to these statistics, published by Tweetdeck in October 2010:
If the Android ecosystem was that fragmented already 18 months ago, consider how fragmented it is nowadays now that we have Android 3.0 (Honeycomb) and 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) added to the equation.
Oh, and don’t forget about tablet support that was added to Android 3.0, which makes the number of screen sizes and types of hardware even more diverse than it was 18 months ago.
Good news on the Oracle-Google-Android lawsuit. The final claim of the following ridiculous patent has been removed from the case:
transitory electrical and electromagnetic signals propagating through some medium, such as wires, air, or a vacuum
What the hell were the people thinking that granted this patent in the first place?
If you have time and are interested to read up on the Oracle-Google-Android lawsuit, then check out this extensive write-up at Groklaw.com linked below.
The Flower King’s mailing list was buzzing for a few days already with rumors, with guitarist, writer and producer Roine Stolt steering away from acknowledging them. But last Friday the official news was out: The Flower Kings are reuniting in 2012 after a five year hiatus. A new album can be expected in June and a European tour will start around September. Their first re-union gig will be at the Sweden Rock Festival on June the 7th.
A quote on the new album, taken from the press release on the band’s website:
The yet unnamed album has a 23 min epic centerpiece and the material is all classic Flowerkings style with all the dreamy melodic & cinematic elements that the bands fans has come to love over the years, but also contain some heavier psychedelic music and some darker hi energy material.
Good news for music addicts and musicians like me!
According to research that has been published in Neurobiology of Aging, music may have a beneficial influence on our aging process. Scientists came to this conclusion by doing experiments with young and old musicians and with people who hardly or never played an instrument.
Musicians of an older age were able to respond faster and better on audio tests with speech than the persons that were still young but never played an instrument. Research suggests that playing an instrument during most of your life has a big influence on your nervous system, which will be better able to process sound and speech on an older age.
Read more about this research on the following pages:
- Scientas.nl – Muziek beïnvloedt ons verouderingsproces (Dutch)
— English version via Google Translate
- ScienceDirect – Musical experience offsets age-related delays in neural timing
Also related to this subject is a post I linked to in September 2010: