C# and mono: getting some feet wet…

Well, some of the readers of these pages will have noticed that, carefully speaking, my enthusiasm for Microsoft technology is pretty limited. “Limited” indeed is the right way of putting it: While I have a clear opinion about most of Microsofts monopoly regarding desktop and office software (which, in the end, makes me avoid both as good as I can, and thanks at the very least to Ubuntu GNU/Linux, right now I can do that pretty well… ;) ), I then and now always considered Microsoft .NET, as a development and runtime platform, a pretty good thing, maybe the best technology the Redmond folks came up with to date, and definitely a technology that could have offer wholly new options to both Microsoft and the rest of the world if licensed and distributed a little more openly. Anyway, leaving licensing and personal considerations related to this aspect aside: These days I earn a living mainly off working with Java and overally am pleased with this as an environment. However, as “integration” is what I mostly deal with, I finally had the chance of dealing with Microsoft .NET and C#, and had a rather pleasant trip…

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a strange kind of cross-over: Botany Bay – “grounded”

Wow, looking at the timestamp of the last entry, it seems it’s been a while, vacations and project business included, since I wrote anything here. Anyway: As a regular follower / user of jamendo, I am by now pretty much used to stumbling across new and interesting music and average quality on jamendo.com seems pretty high which is a good thing. However, even given this high level of quality, once in a while there are albums, bands that just excel, either because of being especially original, or because of being especially good at what they do, or because, for reasons unknown, their music just works out. Been browsing and searching for some darker, noisy electronica a while ago, I eventually found “Grounded” by German trip-hop-world-music-electronic-jazz-whatever “crossover” twopiece Botany Bay. Listened to it once on my mp3 player, listened to it a second and third time while in car, and eventually kinda fell in love with the music on it, although it actually seems nowhere next to what I am usually listening to, at the moment…

I don’t know… it just worked out. No matter whether talking about instrumental or vocal performance (both male and female, even though I prefer the tracks sung by Laura), production, song writing, the video clips they did so far or (cover/booklet) artwork, the album to me is on an exceptionally high level of quality – way better than just “garage band” and like some of the releases to be found “on-line” today, in some respects even better than records to be found in regular CD stores sold by major record companies.

Adding to this, however… but even more, it just works… the music sounds and feels pure to the core, one literally can hear the musicians are pretty honest about what they are doing, and they are pretty effective at creating songs and sonic landscapes reaching one even without actually knowing why: Listening to the album on a grey autumn morning, it’s not just listening to the songs but rather being surrounded by the music, feeling it, eventually breathing it, and, eventually, when Laura starts singing “Tu m’as dit” (my French is way too limited to get the meaning of the title or even the lyrics, however), one knows this album, even though it might not work out in all situations, has found its way to the shelf of all-time favorites pretty quickly. Maybe, from an effectiveness point of view, this is the best an album eventually can achieve. Knowing the album is released under CC BY-NC-ND ;), giving it a closer look (listen?) won’t hurt or cost much except for a download, so maybe this is the first and foremost thing to do in order to start discovering the world of Botany Bay.

By the way seeing the “Old Men With Ballpoint Pens” clip and reading some of the (German) blog posts related to internet culture and censorship in Germany, it is pretty good to see that, while being focused on music, the two people in BB aren’t limited to it. Really enjoyed discovering this ambitious, inspiring band.


[german]’zeitgeisty’: Community für freie Lizenzen?[/german][english]’zeitgeisty’: free licenses community?[/english]

[english]Creative Commons licenses have been around for quite a while now, and by now there also is quite a bunch of followers who believe in the idea of using free licenses for publishing self-made content. Unfortunately, the existence of “free licenses” by now still is next to unknown among “mainstream” computer users, same as most of the legal aspects of licenses itself, and this is considerably bad given that by now more and more people start uploading photos, videos, music, … using platforms like Flickripernity, deviantArt or youtube without second thought about rights and licenses, without second thought on what possibly happens to their works after they just uploaded it. There is a bunch of reasons for that, I guess, ranging from lack of knowledge to total ignorance in days of “plug-and-play” (‘just switch off your brain, everything’s just a click away…’). For those not knowing yet interested, zeitgeisty by now has started in order to get the idea of free licenses to the masses, by both providing comments, hints and explanations as well as by trying to get actions and events planned and done to spread the idea of “free licenses” among computer and internet users on- as well as offline. Seems to be a rather good thing to me, especially because I am also using a CreativeCommons license for content published here and in the pictorial… ;)[/english]
[german]CreativeCommons-Lizenzen gibt’s schon seit einer Weile, und ebenso gibt es eine mittlerweile recht große Bandbreite an Autoren von Inhalten, die an die Idee “freier Lizenzen” glauben, diese für die Veröffentlichung ihrer Inhalte nutzen. Dummerweise sind “freie Lizenzen”, oder auch nur die rechtlichen Aspekte von Lizenzen überhaupt, vermutlich der Masse jener Nutzer unbekannt, die dieser Tage Inhalte über Plattformen wie Flickripernity, deviantArt oder youtube veröffentlichen, ohne wirklich darüber nachzudenken, was dort mit den Inhalten passiert und wer welche Rechte an ebendiesen hat oder damit erwirbt. Vermutlich gibt es dafür eine ganze Reihe von Gründen zwischen purer Unwissenheit und absoluter Ignoranz (im “Spaß”-Zeitalter, in dem man ganz gut das Gehirn ausschalten und stumpf drauflosklicken kann). Um zumindest jenen zu helfen, die zwar interessiert, aber unwissend sind, gibt’s mit zeitgeisty nunmehr den Versuch einer Plattform, um Informationen über CC-Lizenzen an eine große Masse zu bringen. Zur Zeit geschieht dies wohl im Wesentlichen über ein Weblog, das Erklärungen, Links und sonstiges Nützliches bietet; perspektivisch sollen durch die zeitgeisty-Aktivisten auch weitergehende Veranstaltungen und Aktionen geplant werden, um Nutzer on- wie auch offline von Sinn und Nutzen der Creative-Commons – Lizenzen zu überzeugen. Schon da auch die Inhalte auf dieser Site und im pictorial unter CreativeCommons-Lizenzen stehen, halte ich dies natürlich für eine gute Sache… mal sehen, was es bringt.[/german]

flickr – yahoo = zooomr?

Most people by now knew that flickr, an incredibly popular image-sharing service which I also make use of once in a while has been acquired by Yahoo! quite a while (almost exactly two years) ago. Most of this time, flickr was usable to both those who were “old-school” flickr members who just had flickr authentication credentials and those who tried logging in there using their Yahoo! account. This now has sort of changed: Starting February 15, 2007, you need to have a Yahoo! account to actually use flickr.

Technically, I can understand this as indeed maintaining two ways of access authentication might be painful (even though one should consider this a pain that easily might be addressed at a very low level given a good software architecture). However, there also has been extensive criticisms on flickr being part of Yahoo! because of the way Yahoo! more than once (ab)used pictures posted by flickr users. I am not sure about this. Likewise, I haven’t really been that much enthusiastic about all the “Camera Guide” / statistics around flickr recently simply because I think talking about imaging and photography should be about pictures and works rather than about tools and equipment. By now, I still enjoy hanging around at flickr simply because of the fact that so far this has been the only site explicitely providing me with a fine-grained choice of CreativeCommons-licenses for my pictures.

Anyhow, by today I also signed up for an account at zooomr, which so far seems to be rather promising – let’s see what will grow out of this. Probably services like this might attract quite a bunch more people now that flickr is ‘Yahoo!ed’ even a little more…

The Vision of Mozilla

For all those who like to read papers that range somewhere in between technology and society: Check this draft of an emerging Mozilla Manifesto, focused on pushing forth “the internet” as an open, accessible environment to be used for both commercial and public interests. Looking at this sort of tools as “cultural technology” rather than just shiny new gadgets for a society of consumers in dire need of new entertainment surely makes sense, especially comparing to, say, the “entertainment overhead” in Windows Vista. It’s not just about entertaining people, making people consume content – it’s about creativity, communication, expression, as well. With software pursuing this vision right in place, all that is left to do is to establish free/inexpensive internet connectivity to support that idea…