Thursday, September 27, 2007

Thanks again, Murray!

Read this while skimming a sneak preview of Ubuntu 7.10:

"Note, by the way, how differently open-source projects present themselves to end users: Compare the release notes for Gnome 2.20 to the release notes for OpenOffice 2.3, and then tell me which group looks more serious about communicating clearly with the user base."

Comments like this would simply not have happened without Murray's hard work. I'm sure I didn't read anything like this about the 2.18 release notes. The bar, it has been raised...

Amazon MP3 Store

Kudos to Amazon on their new MP3 store. This is the first (mainstream) iTunes competition that has been of interest to me. I don't like subscription services and I am immediately turned off by DRM that is even more restrictive than FairPlay. The prices (especially on albums) are nicely competitive with iTunes, and in fact the user experience is really nice for circumstances when you don't have an iTunes install near-to-hand. Offering plain MP3s at double the bitrate is nothing to sneeze at, either!

Unfortunately the Amazon Downloader, which is required for album purchases, is Mac/Windows-only. Clearly since I use iTunes to purchase music this isn't an obstacle for me, but I certainly hope that they realize how well-suited their store is to freedom-loving Linux users, and provide a native client. Amazon is a huge consumer of free software, so I'm sure they have the development expertise to port the Downloader.

For now, Amazon trails iTunes when it comes to customer reviews of their MP3 downloads, but I fully expect this trend to reverse itself in short order (come on, this is!). Also, the selection on Amazon is currently not as complete as iTunes. Does anyone know if Amazon offers tracks not available on iTunes?

So thanks Amazon for saving me US$4 on my copy of Josh Joplin's Jaywalker album, with no pesky DRM to remove and superior audio quality!

(Unfortunately it doesn't seem quite as good as The Future That Was...available on iTunes but not at Amazon...purchased by Ellery in CD format a few years back)

UPDATE: Thanks for the informative comments! In the Lame category we have Amazon charging $0.10 extra for the "Explicit" version of a track. In the Rock category we have a promise from Amazon in their FAQ to provide a Linux version of their downloader, and info that Radiohead is available on Amazon but not iTunes (much appreciated!). In the Self Defense category, I definitely support Magnatune and indie labels, but I'm not going to boycott artists I like just because they're signed to an evil label. And although I love the freedom given to me by Magnatune, the purchasing experience on Amazon is superior IMHO. I'm confident that Amazon's offering will force competitors to innovate in turn, which should only benefit consumers like me. ;-)

Friday, September 14, 2007

That reminds me...

All of this discussion about distributed source control systems got me thinking about a little piece of abandonware I wrote last year to help me manage permissions in a Subversion repository I was administering. I kept meaning to release it, but it needed a lot of polish so I kept waiting. Nowadays I don't do much svn repo administration, so I have less incentive than ever to work on it, and it still needs polish. I haven't worked on it in almost a year.

But it's a great excuse to mess around with a DSCM and see what all the fuss is about. I picked bzr because it has Windows support, and because if it bugs me I'm more likely to hack on Python code than a bunch of C and Bash.

bzr co

If I ever get around to cleaning up this very "my first pygtk app", I'll post a proper introduction.

In the mean time, I'm using bzr* 0.15 because that's what comes with Feisty. I'm also using Meld 1.1.4 to view my diffs, but its bzr support is nowhere near as good as its svn support. Olive-gtk is alright, too. Any suggestions for bzr bliss?

Oh, and thanks to John Carr for starting this page on using bzr with GNOME svn. Awesome, dude! Why did I have to find this by accident?