Archive for May, 2007

Apple (and Ben Taylor) finally release some DRM-free music

Thursday, May 31st, 2007

Today Apple finally updated iTunes, adding the recently announced addition of higher quality music minus the usual Digital Rights Management all bought music from there had. Sure only EMI are onboard so far, but it’s a start.

Last night though I was at the Lemon Tree in Aberdeen seeing Ben Taylor play (son of the rather better known James Taylor). Aside from it being a great gig (he’s touring just now, so keep an eye out), and also a funny one (as in ‘ha ha’), Ben was also the first musician that I’d come across that didn’t just sell CDs of his music after the show. Yeah, you could buy either of his two albums on CD, but he also had nicely boxed USB sticks ready to roll as well, where he’d stick on his albums, his live work, anything he’d ever recorded released or unreleased, and all at cheaper prices (on the whole) than on iTunes. It didn’t exactly move the queues along quickly, but there he was diligently copying over whatever anybody wanted to a USB stick from his Apple MacBook Pro (which he also used in his gig for some of the backing music), free of any copy protection. More money in his pocket, and more opportunity for fans of his music to get something they can’t get anywhere else, right from the source.
In fact, here’s someone who’s so in touch with how music distribution has changed, that when deciding he wanted to play one of his father James Taylor’s songs ‘Belfast to Boston’, on the Ireland part of his tour, he realised he had no idea how it actually went, and downloaded it from iTunes to work it out for himself.

Ben Taylor - Another Run Around the Sun Album

I thought it was a nice touch, and a sign of the times in the music industry – yes Apple has helped get a lot of music out there legitimately, but the artists are all capable of doing it themselves too already, and without the copy protection and fees.

I just bought one of his albums on CD though :)

Zooomr Mark III – the longest, friendliest, yet brief launch

Wednesday, May 30th, 2007

Zooomr.com

I first wrote about Zooomr back in October, having just discovered it as the photo sharing site of choice for my photos. Since then I’ve uploaded a lot of my own photos, as well as favourited and commented on a ton of great photos I’ve come across whilst browsing Zooomr. It’s a site that suits me down to the ground already, the way it has trackback information on visits to my photos, the recent activity bar, the smartsets, and just the general good community there, all added up to a great site.

For the last week and a bit though, Zooomr has been offline whilst migration took place to the brand new version, dubbed Zooomr Mark III. Development on this version has been going on for the last nine months, and Kristopher Tate (Zooomr’s sole developer) has been hyping this release up for some time now. It’s been a rocky path, with the initial launch in March abandoned due to technical difficulties with their storage provider, forcing a rethink and rewrite of certain elements of the new Zooomr. This last week hasn’t been plain sailing either, with the relaunch originally expected to take 12-24 hours, but to say these guys have been honest and transparent about this new release and the problems encountered would be an understatement.

If you doubt how dedicated the people behind Zooomr are to what they’ve created, here’s a quick aside. During most of the downtime whilst Mark III was put in place, Kristopher Tate and Thomas Hawk were live on ustream.tv, so you could watch the upgrade such as it is, as it happened. They could’ve just left it at that as a bit of a novelty, but in the IRC chatroom created on ustream to go with this broadcast, both Kris and Thomas were taking questions on the new release and what’s planned for the future. Whilst Kris was working away, Thomas would be answering question after question, and it really was an ingenius way to launch a new release. The people I’ve encountered there from the Zooomr community have been on the whole a great bunch, and it’s been a good opportunity to ‘talk photography’.

This morning, around the time I should have been ready to head out the door for work, the new Zooomr finally launched. Putting aside the need to be ready to catch a bus, I quickly set about discovering what was new. As it turned out though, I should have been quicker. Although there was a lot of new things there to play with, ten minutes into a new era in Zooomr, the database server died. Of all the rotten luck, the guys behind Zooomr really needed this to go well, and they were dealt another blow.

The upshot of all this is that the new Zooomr is ready, but Thomas Hawk and Kristopher Tate are currently having to work on repairing or replacing one of their servers before anybody can get at it. That also means the photos I’ve blogged here from Zooomr won’t show up for the timebeing. But with Robert Scoble putting a call out that so far seems to have shown interest from Sun and Zoho, things should with a little bit of luck be not far off Zooomr Mark III, Launch 2.