Okay, so I kicked this one off a little later than usaul, but that’s because I logged in the fullest day so far here at SXSW. The official tally is 6 panels, 2 happy hours, and 1 wet party. I’m a little under the weather this morning but that’s due to the massive amount of stuff that I and my lovely girlfriend did and the rain storm that hit us last night. Don’t fret, however, we are taking it easy this morning and heading back down to the convention center to try and make a couple of more panels and keynotes on the last day of the Interactive portion of SXSW. There’s much to go over, so I’ll try to make it condensed.
After a Thanksgiving hiatus, I’m back and while you are a recovering from the holidays and from my tacky headline, I want to talk about the Songbird 1.0 release. A lot of othermediaoutlets have covered this release so far, but I wanted to give my take on the media player. I first found out about Songbird 1.0 since it was announced way back in 2005. Since then, with each new point release, I’ve downloaded and played with its features. It’s great to see the evolution of what it was to where it is today. But some of the issues I’ve had with seem to persist.
The Songbird bird project kicked off in response to the closed sourced media players dominating the choices serious music fans could make. In the spirit of Firefox, they developed (using Mozilla’s rendering engine) a media player that also browses the web much like Firefox. What that introduced were new channels of music discovery and collaboration. It was a good idea to start with and we’re now starting to see a solid base with which other services can build from Songbird.
Songbird still has some work left, however. It seems the goal for the project is to get to the heavy music enthusiasts first and let it float on down to casual music fans. Importing large libraries and working with them should be a top priority. For each point release, it seems with my library, which tops 3 digits in gigabytes, Songbird struggles during the initial import and thereafter. Yes it’s a lot of media to work with but if they want to top my current use of Winamp, they need to resolve that real soon.
The other issues I’ve experienced are somewhat trivial but nagging nonetheless. They dropped PPC support for the Mac after the 0.7 release, which hinders me because of the Macs I still have running around at home. Songbird has issues switching between the main view and the mini player view. Lastly, podcast support is absent in the 1.0 release. The only, seriously the ONLY, reason I use iTunes is for the podcast support. If Songbird can champion that, I’ll abandon iTunes.
There are some great things about Songbird that make it a contender in the media player market. The one that most appeals to me is how it displays all media on the bottom of a web page you are browsing. Say you are hitting up your favorite music blog. Usually there’s media floating around on the page and you have to scroll around to find it. This feature collects all of the media at the bottom and allows you to work directly with the files.
Songbird also has some developmental and extensibility features that put it head and shoulders above the rest. Around the 0.5 release they split out development of Songbird into four factions: Themes, Extensions, Web Development, and Core Development. This provided a clear path for all different types of coders to contribute to the project. The most exciting one to me is the Web Development portion because of the API they provide. You can use the API to setup your own ‘store’ to sell music as opposed to the store that iTunes locks you into. The other development factions mirrors that of the Firefox community and I think we all know how well that put Firefox ahead in terms of browser potential.
It’s great to see Songbird hit 1.0 and I look forward to finally getting in there and digging around in the code. Somebody needs to improve super large library performance. I’ve downloaded the source and compiled it, also setting up the dev kit for extensions, but that’s been in the days of TRAC as it now looks like to they switched to Deki Community Edition form Mindtouch. Hello, Songbird, it’s time we meet again, now that your finally out of your shell.
So while I was working out for the first time in forever earlier tonight (thank you fall cold), the CNBC people had a breaking news item that Jerry Yang dropped out as CEO of Yahoo! I’m out of the shower now and, to no surprise, TechCrunch had it blasted on their front page. Yang will step down and take his old job as Chief Yahoo (really?), and the search is on for a replacement CEO. Is it too little too late? I’m not sure. When I think about the history of Yahoo! and my experiences with them, I’m leaning toward yes.
Yahoo! for me back in the day started out as the search engine to end all search engines. Well, actually it was an index first before it became a search engine. They competed with the likes of Alta Vista and came out on top. When you’re on top, the only thing you can do is expand your business. And boy did Yahoo! ever. They started spitting out products left and right. I still use some of their products today. Their mail and messenger application being among the set.
But with every neat and cool application that came out, there were some duds. Their Groups community was cool but I never really took to it, even though I was active in a group for my Introduction to Artificial Intelligence class. Yahoo! was the first to introduce the concept of a ‘Profile’ but it was always hard to find and never really consistent, which is the biggest problem with Yahoo! They branched out but could never keep things consistent across all of their properties.
I enjoy BrightKite thouroughly (follow me at http://brightkite.com/people/hokey) , and when Yahoo! came out with a competitor, Fire Eagle, I jumped in as soon as I could in the hopes of integrating that with my messenger profile and other areas of Yahoo! But there was no integration at all. This kind of fragmentation is what burned Rome down and I’m fairly certain that it also dropped Yahoo! down to where it is now.
I hope when Yahoo! finds a new CEO, I hope they start first with consolidating every property across Yahoo! They are consistent in some places and they excel at those places. Yahoo! Games is still very popular and the Fantasy Sports area is the best of its kind. They are going to need some help, and they are taking a step in the right direction by implementing their Yahoo! Open Strategy. Let’s hope they turn it around.
It’s been awhile since I worked with Java. Well, more specifically, I last seriously worked with Java around the beginning of the century. I figured, well why not set it up on the server and see what’s going on nowadays? I knew that the package install for the Java platform is sticky on linux machines. So a quick cache search yielded me lots of results, with Iced Tea being the most interesting one.
As I was eyeballing the search results, IcedTea stuck out in my head. I remembered over the summer an episode of FLOSS Weekly briefly touching upon IcedTead. Dalibor Topic and Bruno Souza from OpenJDK were interviewed about IcedTea and the satus of OpenJDK altogether. It was very nice to see a fully open sourced implementation of the Sun Java platform.
Which yielded me a bunch of other recommended packages, which I’ll revisit later, but I was ready to hit the big ‘Y’:
Reading package lists... Done
Building dependency tree
Reading state information... Done
The following extra packages will be installed:
binfmt-support icedtea-java7-demo icedtea-java7-source icedtea-java7-plugin sun-java6-fonts ttf-baekmuk ttf-unfonts ttf-unfonts-core
ttf-kochi-gothic ttf-sazanami-gothic ttf-kochi-mincho ttf-sazanami-mincho ttf-arphic-uming
liblcms1 lesstif2 libgnome2-0 libgnomevfs2-0 libgconf2-4 libgl1-mesa-glx
The following NEW packages will be installed:
icedtea-java7-bin icedtea-java7-jdk icedtea-java7-jre
0 upgraded, 3 newly installed, 0 to remove and 3 not upgraded.
Need to get 36.8MB of archives.
After unpacking 117MB of additional disk space will be used.
After installing the package a quick test verified its install:
hokey@tardis:~$ java -version
java version "1.7.0"
IcedTea Runtime Environment (build 1.7.0-b21)
IcedTea Client VM (build 1.7.0-b21, mixed mode, sharing)
It’s nice to get back to my Java roots using something completely open source and Java 6 compatible. I’ve read up on a couple of things like JavaFX that I play around with and this is a good first step. Plus, it’s helping me dust some cobwebs that have been lurking in my head for a couple of years. Who knows? Once I get knuckle deep back into Java I might turn out some projects or maybe even something enterprise for headquaters. At any rate, the Java mixes well with my morning coffee addiction and IcedTea mixes will with my afternoon green tea addiction.