Saturday, March 31, 2007

Online Music and DRM models

There was an interesting review of online music stores posted on slashdot today.

It was a review of some of the popular online music stores and their approach to DRM.

I find it interesting that I buy books online with DRM for my palm pilot but I won't buy DRMed music. I prefer Baen's model which is DRM free. Plus they've got their free library where they put some back catalogue book. This model has sneakily gotten me to buy a lot of their online books of authors that I would probably not have read otherwise.

For other publishes, I do get mobipocket and palm reader DRMed books normally at

I think my internal logic is if I want ensure an artist gets at least some money with my purchase and it's music, I can buy the CD, rip it and get it into my preferred format - and we're both happy. The CD isn't very big.

Books are different. I don't have enough room in my bookcases for all the books I read as it is. At the moment I'm in Switzerland. Each time (twice now) we've returned home we've had to post back books that we wanted to keep that we've bought for going on planes or trains. Plus I like reading on my palm pilot - I don't have to carry a book around, I don't have to worry about finishing one because I can always have some more. I can always download them from the site again.

So I download a lot of books. The only way to download a book and ensure that the author gets at least some money in most cases is to get a DRMed copy. Plus the DRM on mobipocket is based on my palm pilot ID and as I've had palm pilots since about 2000 now, it's not been a major problem for me.

I was talking about that with Dear Reader yesterday and hadn't manage to formalize my reason. I feel better now :-)

Thursday, March 29, 2007

The Ghost Map

I read the Ghost Map on the weekend. It was quite enjoyable. I'd heard the outline of the story before. I've read and seen reports on the London sewers and they normally at least mention the London cholera outbreaks and the way in which it was first linked to water transmission instead of Miasma. This was a much more thorough coverage of the events.

It was a good read too - I knew the ending and yet I didn't want to put it down.

I was struck by a few points - one of my favorites being infant mortality dropping due to a rise in tea drinking.

I went to the site about John Snow maintained at UCLA which is mentioned in the Ghost Map's references. Lots of cool stuff there.

Cycling in Zurich

We got road bikes a couple of weekends ago. Weeee. At lunch time yesterday I came back to the flat by tram and then I rode to work. Rode home, and then rode to work again today.

It's quite different from Sydney. There are so many people riding bikes here that car drivers are much more polite. I've noticed that as a pedestrian but the Swiss drivers are even polite to cyclists.

There are a lot of cycling facilities. Most are quite low key - a sign and some paint suddenly saying bicycles can go this way. Not that you can't go elsewhere just that the sign painters think that you might like it more this way. Sometimes there will be a short cut marked on a foot path. Lots of contraflow cycle lanes. Takes some getting used to but here the road won't be too busy so it seems to work.

I keep getting lost on the way home following a cyclist onto what I think is the right cycle route and ending up on one going somewhere else. There are so many.

Quite different from Sydney's limited facilities, painting lines on roads with bicycles in them that are also supposed to be used at the same time as car parks. No one has actively tried to kill me at all. Amazing.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Music and Lyrics

Just got back from seeing Music and Lyrics. It was lots of fun. Warning that the link goes to the official site and it starts singing at you straight away :-)

I thought the 80s film clip was very clever - spot on for the era as was the creation of the current era pop star. I was surprised at how good Hugh Grant's voice and piano playing was when I saw in the credits it was him. I actually thought they'd got someone to do the singing but looked it up on the site and he actually learnt to sing and play piano for the movie. He kind of reminded me of Tim Friedman from the Whitlams.

Seeing it in Switzerland of course we could select our seat and there was an intermission.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Blog Camp

We went to blog camp today . Only briefly as we slept in and missed registration. We went to an entertaining talk from Nicholas Berg from He talked mainly about how peoples timeshare of media had changed to incorporate the internet. I liked his jokes.

Crowds at Sihlcity

Crowds at Sihlcity
Originally uploaded by bristley.
This afternoon to the first Saturday of Sihlcity. I think half of Switzerland did the same thing. The trams were standing room only and there were massive crowds everywhere.

Sihlcity is a new shopping centre in Zurich with a cinema attached. It was packed.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

View from the Window

View from the Window
Originally uploaded by bristley.
It's been snowing overnight for the last two days in Zurich. I was going to work looking at daffodils on the way and now I'm going in snow.
Instead of green grass and flowers this is my view out to the Uetliberg.

The other times we've been to Zurich we've always been away when it snowed. I didn't expect my Zurich snow experience to be at the end of March.

Even stranger by lunch time both days it's been sunny and the snow is all gone.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Chicks Dig

We were at the bar after work on Friday and there was a classic.

Coworker A said - When I first saw the t-shirt "Chicks dig UNIX" I thought it was one of the funniest things ever.

Female Coworker B who is Swiss asks is this funny. I explain it is a pun - Eunuchs - UNIX.

Coworker A says - Ohhhhhhhhhhhh. I didn't think of that.

Now that's one of the funniest things ever :-)

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Cool Furniture

I was reading Saturday's Sydney Morning Herald and they had an article on designers crossing over to furniture design. They had a long list of links at the end of the article. A few of them were actually incorrect which must be upsetting for the companies involved.

Anyway I went to the first one which was Anibou and saw some stuff I really liked. I know I won't remember which ones they were so here are some of the links:

I really liked this Artek Stool

Love the Wishbone Clothes Ladder by Caroline Casey.

Particularly liked the Stackable Stools by Jon Goulder.

There now I'll remember to go back and look at these pieces again when we're back in Australia and finally doing up our flat.

Friday, March 09, 2007


Originally uploaded by bristley.
We went to Locarno on Sunday. Dear Reader had a saw ankle so a train trip as an outing seemed like a good idea. We saw people in shorts and people wearing ski gear. In some areas there were flowers in the grass in others snow was still lying everywhere. It was a very clear day and the mountains were lovely.

We also had a very nice gelato. We were sitting outdoors at a cafe having a cold drink and kept seeing all the adults walking passed eating gelato. This seemed a good sign and it was excellent.

Treo 680

Just before we left Australia I got a Treo 680. I've had a Treo 600 for several years now and was now getting crappy static all the time. Well I wasn't the people listening to me were. So I got myself a Treo 680 and I really like it.

Dear Reader instantly took my old Treo, looked on the net, opened it up and wrapped some aluminium foil around the bit that needed shielding and now it works like a bought one. Well almost.

I'm glad I got the new one. It's easier to do things to the insides of your toy if it's not the only one you've got :-)

Things I was particularly pleased with:

- the upgrade of the software worked fine again. I have data in my palm dating back to 2000 and my Vx and it's still there.
- I like the new screen and the keyboard and phone quality.

I'm Back

Well I've been a bit lazy about posting. What has happened since I last wrote.
We finished our holiday. We flew back to Australia. I went to work on the Monday and there was a mail that said:

"How was your incredibly long flight? Would you like another one?"

So we are now back in Switzerland after a 3 week interlude in Australia.

We are in a serviced flat again. This one is a bit older and for the first few days we were very unhappy. This was because at 6am every morning an alarm clock started. We could hear it from the bedroom and it would wake us up. It would continue for 2 hours.

I finally discovered by walking into the stairway in my pajamas that it was coming from the flat below us and the serviced apartment people got it fixed for us. Now we don't mind the flat as much :-)

The weather is strange - 10 degrees and there are flowers. So much for seeing winter in Switzerland.