I’ve been slacking off in terms of blogging lately – but I plan on making it more regular in the future.

I recently found myself purchasing an album from Magnatune.com. For those of you who haven’t heard of Magnatune, it is essentially an independent online music distributor. It doesn’t have all the popular music on other sites (it typically has independent artists), but it has one huge advantage over everything else: no DRM. You can download the music, burn it to a CD, transfer it to any audio player, and just enjoy the absence of their control.

Additionally, they let you download virtually every format: High and low quality MP3, AAC, OGG, WAV, and even FLAC. With the later two, you get the exact same quality on a CD, since they are both lossless. But perhaps the most surprising feature of magnatune is their licensing. You are allowed to send whatever you buy to 3 friends, legally. Additionally, they also have Podcast licensing available.

When you buy music from Magnatune, you choose the price. There is a minimum and maximum price (in my case, it was $5 and $18) and the artist directly gets 50% of whatever you pay. This really gives you the feel of compensating the artist for their work, which is a feeling you don’t get buying music in a more traditional way.

But my favorite part is being able to purchase a CD. For about $5 more, they will let you download the album immediately and they will send you a physical CD in the mail. This is great for those on slow internet connections, or those who like having a collection of CDs.

My whole Magnatune experience has left me with a good feeling. Not only do I get good, DRM free music, but I also get the satisfaction of knowing that the artist is directly being paid for it, instead of going through a label. Magnatune, good job.


On the latest episode of Security Now, they’re talking about how WEP has been broken even more, and it is now possible to be cracked in under 1 minute. If you’re interested in this sort of thing, you can download it here.

In case you’ve been under a rock, the new version of Ubuntu has just been released (Feisty Fawn, 7.04). I’ve been using the development version on my Desktop for the past few months, and it was very interesting to watch it mature. I just upgraded my laptop, although it took about 8 hours to download at 50 KB/s 😦 They’re seriously getting pounded right now. It’s almost enough to warrant BitTorrent as a way to distribute the upgrades. But I digress… it’s installed now and it’s very nice. Now that I have the new NVidia driver, I may be able to try out some Beryl bling…

One of the most obvious improvements in this release is a method of automatically installing multimedia codecs after playing an unsupported media file, which will be very good for new users who don’t know how to do that. Also included by default is NetworkManager, which makes managing wireless connections a breeze, especially for laptop users. Not only does it automatically manage both wired and wireless connections, but it also supports WEP and WPA encryption (if anyone has needed to manually use wpa_supplicant in Linux for WPA support, this will come as a more-than-welcome improvement). Of course, also included is new versions of all the programs, a new version of Gnome, and a slightly new theme.

Another thing that I’ve been following since it first appeard in the development branch is the Restricted Drivers Manager, which will let you know what non-free drivers you are using and allows you easilly to enable/disable them (for example, on mine, the NVidia driver shows up on the list; things such as the Intel IPW3945 driver will also appear). This tool will be handy in the next release of Ubuntu, which is bound to include proprietary video card drivers by default, as a way of disabling them if a user doesn’t want them.

Right now, my only issue with Feisty, which isn’t even Ubuntu’s fault, is that Democracy Player will not currently run. The PCF guys are aware of this, and they will be releasing 0.9.6 soon, which will support Feisty.

In another 2-3 months, I’ll probably put Gutsy Gibbon on my desktop, as I normally do with development releases 🙂

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IE on Linux


Yes, IE is bad, very bad… but if you are like me and are designing websites on Linux, testing in IE is essential to ensure that the design will work for 85% of visitors (it’s sad, but true). Fortunately, thanks to the guys behind the wonderful Wine project, IE runs quite well on Linux. There is a great program called IEs4Linux, which has been quite useful for me. Not only will it install IE 6, but it will also install IE 5.5 and 5 (hence “IEs”). Even better, the latest beta can even install the IE 7 rendering engine (although through the IE 6 interface, since IE 7 itself does not work on Wine yet). If you’re someone who needs IE on Linux for whatever reason, I’d recommend checking it out.

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I’ve just discovered a neat little Firefox extension called ScribeFire (previously Performancing for Firefox). This neat little extension puts a button in the Firefox bottom toolbar, and when clicked, brings up a WYSIWYG post editor. From there, simply type it up and post away. So if you’re using Firefox (which you should be) and are into blogging, I’d seriously reccomend checking it out. It will save you a trip to the WP dashboard, and offers other nifty features like del.icio.us and Technorati integration, Technorati Tag support, and more.

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For kicks, take a look at one of Novell’s ads that I like. Stay tuned, there’s more to come…