Categories
Internet Technology

Google India Comes Up With Music Service With Search

Finally, Google has also jumped into the music-bandwagon! Google India today launched Google Music India – a fully-blown music streaming service.

The Google Music home page with album listings.

The service, which was launched earlier today under ‘Google India Labs’, is available at http://www.google.co.in/music and is accessible by users all across the world.

Google Music is pretty-impressive – especially the search part. Existing streaming services like Raaga and MusicIndiaOnline have appalling search – and that’s where Google‘s service scores. The search feature is quite comprehensive. You can search with the movie name, the lead actor’s name (e.g. a search for ‘Shah Rukh Khan’ lists songs from his movies), songs according to time period, and what not. You can even use complex queries to find out Guru Dutt track from your childhood that you’ve so badly wanted to catch up with, using some smart search queries.

Fresh from watching the movie, I badly wanted to listen to the songs. Lo and behold, Google comes to my rescue.

The service does not use a native ‘Google‘ player, neither does it host tracks in its server. The songs are sourced from ‘Saavn.com’, ‘Saregama’ and ‘in.com’, says the Google India Blog. Users can choose the player of their choice, for some songs.. The audio quality is decent. ‘Saregama’ and ‘in.com’ players do a good job, while the ‘Saavn’ player quite buggy. The streaming works well in a 2 Mbps+ connection, but the songs stutter in 256Kbps. Another drawback is that the service does not offer playlists.

Currently, Google Music has a comprehensive collection of Bollywood. Tamil, Malayalam, and other regional tracks are yet to make it.

The service is fully legal – since it offers just streaming and not downloading. It is a successor to Google‘s music search service in the US – which offered search and previews of tracks.

Google has also launched its new music service in China.

The extent of Google Music’s success is doubtful since India has a strong ‘downloading culture’. Users prefer downloading songs rather than listening to audio streams online – they would still opt for pirated tracks available for download. ย Another major con would be the slow internet connections in the country – the service needs at least 256Kbps (or above) for smooth playback. Besides, a bulk of India’s internet users use internet plans with data-transfer caps – such users would give this service a miss, in allย probability. Then again, Google will have to tackle many established players like Raaga.com and MusicIndiaOnline.

However, the service is a boon for all music addicts. Foraging for that long-lost-track, can now be done in just a click. Enjoy! ๐Ÿ™‚

Categories
Linux Technology

Ban on sales of MS Word – Another nail in Microsoft’s coffin

Finally, I get my retribution. Microsoft is banned from selling MS Word and/or any applications that can open DOCX/DOCM/XML files in the USA!! Whee!! ๐Ÿ™‚ The ruling that made Bill Gates Steve Balmer pee in his pants came from a judge in Texas โ€“ a landmark for GNU/Linux, I might add.

i4i Inc – a company operating from Toronto, is the root cause behind M$’s latest fitfall. The firm succeeded in winning an injunction against M$, concerning gross violations of its XML patents. To quote from the ruling, the judgementย  โ€œprohibits Microsoft from selling or importing to the United States any Microsoft Word products that have the capability of opening .XML, .DOCX or DOCM files (XML files) containing custom XMLโ€. The incident is reminiscent of the old IE frazzle has kicked Microsoft out cold! The breather for this monopolistic giant is the mere 60 day time window to implement the injunction.

So, does this mean M$ is goanna be the next dead duck?

Not really.

M$ has the money and muscle power, not to mention access to all the movers and shakers. The doyens of the company are taking the news in the stride and have decided to fight back against the small-time company i4i with all might. It’s going to be tough time for i4i, whichย  might, in all probability, go the Netscape way – to dysfunction, considering the might of the corporate conglomerate pitted against it. However, it must be said that i4i has some brave dudes out there who’ve achieved great success against M$ – a victory none else has been able to secure. If things go the way they are actually supposed to be (provided i4i gets a super-awesome lawyer and/or protection from M$’s corporate espionageย  – if any), we might see the first days of M$ doom. I’m goanna celebrate that with crackers! ๐Ÿ˜›

Image Courtesy: XKCD

All this brings out the main reason why I all of us GNU/Linux enthusiasts hate M$ Windows – Their highly monopolistic, derogatory and user-hampering principles!! It’s a fact that M$ pays the highest paychecks to its employees and harbours the world’s most brilliant Computer Scientists/Engineers. Yet, just see the countless bugs in Windows Vista!! ๐Ÿ˜ If a group of ‘hackers’ could collaborate and create a very user friendly operating system that has all the goodies of Vista and consumes a tenth as much memory (Kubuntu 9.04), why can’t M$ do the same? The glaring answer is there in the question itself! The bugs are deliberate. Had M$ been as stable an O/S as GNU/Linux, a major chunk of the antivirus/’protection’ software companies would go bankrupt! Unless M$ finds a solution to the countless bugs in its software and do some serious rethinking about its policies, it’s a downward lane for the company. The indicators have already started pointing to that fact. ๐Ÿ˜€

As far as I’m concerned, I’m content with my OpenOffice 3.0 and Kubuntu 9.04 Jaunty Jackalope! ๐Ÿ˜›

Categories
Narration Personal

The Computer and I

People are often deeply attached to inanimate objects, very personally. They’d love such objects like a real human being, giving it all the attention they’d give to their sibling or a close relative!

My object-of-attraction is my PC!

My PC- My P4MONSTER

Not very long ago, I’d written a post bidding adieu to my PC – the good ol’ venerable, P4MONSTER. Almost as if in divine intervention, exactly two weeks after the post, the PC was born again! ๐Ÿ™‚ Mind you, even the vendor hadย  written it off, returning it as it was, even refusing to buy money from us for ‘repair’ (I doubt if they’d bothered even to touch the cabinet once, for fear of worsening is ‘unwieldy’ symptoms!) Well, after I got it back subsequent toย  my S6 exams, the PC magically started working again (only in Kubuntu, this time – Windows XP would crash with the display disintegrating to a motley assortment of colours and/or a BSOD within ten minutes of switching on). Having chosen Linux over windows permanently, long ago, lack of a Windows O/S wasn’t really a problem – until Linux started displaying what was a Linux equivalent of a BSOD, a few days back! ๐Ÿ˜ Besides, even my Linux installation had problems, it had just 1.2 gigs of (fast-depleting) free space, worsened by the lack ofย  SWAP (virtual memory).

Day before yesterday, frazzled by the inadequacies, I pulled out the hard-disc, reformatted it and reinstalled Windows XP (thanks to Akhil Chettan) and Kubuntu. When the BSOD resurfaced within minutes, I chucked a 256 MB stick of RAM and tried again. Lo and behold, this time, like ol’ times – my PC returned to its good ol’ blazing speed, all set to rule over for at least an year! ๐Ÿ™‚

As I’d written in the older post, I’ve a lot of emotional attachment to my P4MONSTER – a bond now resuscitated by its rebirth! Apart from the random virus attack (long back when Windows was my sole ‘vista’), it has never let me down! Even today, its modest hardware config is more than enough for my survival – to watch the occasional movie, do the random audio edit, write the much-needed blog post, listen to my favorite play list, and of course, read, read and READ till dad kicks me out of my room!

P4MONSTER is my second computer – the first one doesn’t even exist now, it was sold the day P4MONSTER stepped into my place. ๐Ÿ™‚ 25th March, 2004 was the day it became my buddy. ๐Ÿ˜€ Things weren’t rosy at the beginning, for,ย  I was stuck with a meagre 128 megs of RAM in the beginning (Dad read 512 as 128ย  – thanks to my LOVELY handwriting !). God, that was hell! I couldn’t even play a decent PC Game, despite the super-awesome 2.8 Ghz HT processor – I was stuck with the crappy piece of hardware (RAM)ย  for over a year. ๐Ÿ˜ Yet, I tried to make do with incorrigibly slow start-up times, thanks to which, I’m accustomed to slow PCs now! ๐Ÿ™‚ The next year saw me fish out two thousand bucks from my pocket money for an extra 256 DDR1 (which was the stick that went bust recently. ๐Ÿ˜€ )

The RAM stick was the first among a huge array of accessories. To date, I’ve bought two optical mice (Dad destroyed one, in anger!), one keyboard, A DVD Writer and CD Writer (after my original LITE-ON COMBO Drive crushed a CD while burning it!), 512 MB RAM (borrowed from Abhi chettan) and my prized possession Creative SBS 2.1 speakers! ๐Ÿ™‚ Measly, compared to what today’s PCs have to offer, but more than enough for me! ๐Ÿ˜€

I’ve a lot of pleasant memories about P4MONSTER – most of them being connected to the internet. ๐Ÿ™‚ I was among the first kids in my area to get broadband. BSNL had just rolled out the flagship DataOne and I was among its first 2000 customers for sure. ๐Ÿ˜€ I made the most out of 2-8 unlimited download (during my 12th boards and entrance exam holidays, nonetheless). DataOne has played a great role in kindling by blogging instincts! But, the dream got bust after my dismal entrance exam results (I got an extra zero, after that 200 rank parents were expecting! :P), I lost DataOne and entered a dismal phase of my life (a year and a half, to be precise) without internet. DataOne returned to my life, later, in October 2007. ๐Ÿ˜€

As of now, my buddy’s about 5 years and 4 months old. High time to get a new PC, yes. But I’m waiting, cause I don’t wanna abandon my MONSTER.ย  Even if I buy a new PC/Lappie in the coming weeks/months (hopefully, not years, the P4MONSTER shall remain close to my heart!

P.S.

If that was too geeky, please excuse. ๐Ÿ™‚

Categories
Computers Interview Linux Technology

An Interview with Richard Stallman

Richard Mathew Stallman is the rightful father of the Free Software movement and an international celebrity by his own right. The man behind the GNU Project and the Free Software Foundation, it was he who propounded the General Public License (GPL), also dubbed ‘copyleft’ – a license that quite literally sets software free. Stallman is fully dedicated to his cause of liberating the world from the shackles of proprietary software. Anoop and I caught up with him at the International Free Software Convention held at the Mascot Hotel, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala on December 11. The otherwise-irascible Mr Stallman gracefully opened his mind, even revealing tidbits of his famed sense of humor in between. ๐Ÿ™‚

Richard Stallman

How did you get yourself acquainted with computers?

Richard M. Stallman: When I was nine years old, I got access to computer manuals at a summer camp. I tried learning them by myself. The manuals were similar to general-life puzzles and I found them fascinating. It was only later, at around 1969 when I first saw and used a real computer. Then on, there was no looking back

Could you differentiate between Free Software and Open Source? We’ve heard a lot of versions, but it’s always delightful to listen from the horse’s mouth!

RMS: (Smiles) This is the question I answer the most! Both movements are based on entirely different philosophies. In the free software movement, we try to share and collaborate. The free software movement is a social faction. Non-free, paid software literally binds hapless users with chains. We help people break free. Open source is just a technically superior model which gives technically enhanced results by freeing the source code. Its values are narrowly practical, though. Still, both Free Software and Open source converge at the technical level.

How has the Free Software Foundation evolved, since its inception?

RMS: It all started with a small coterie of programmers along with me, devoted to the creation of the GNU operating system, in 1984. With time, we moved on. Now, the organization has shifted its perspective to one synonymous with a social movement rather than a technical lobby.

It’s commonly seen that most Free Software tends to imitate existing software. What’s your take on this?

RMS: Are you suggesting that free software is plagiaristic? Not really. But it’s true that Free software does imitate, quite often. The prime reason behind this is that the main goal is freedom. Originality and innovation are secondary.

It’s a fact that Non-free software dollars actually drive a major chunk of today’s economy. Consider a hypothetical scenario where the entire world was to embrace Free Software one fine morning. What would happen to software companies in such a case? Wouldn’t this result in pinks slips delivered en-masse?

RMS: There are thousands of jobs people can have instead of writing non-free software. In fact, in a macro-perspective, only a minor fraction of the coders work for the development of non-free software. Most paid programmers work towards building custom software based on specific user demand. That leaves only a minor section of programmers writing non-free software: a job they can easily avoid. When a society decides to break free from proprietary software, not a single job gets pruned in the process. Flawed economic policies are the root cause behind the increasing unemployment rate. Needless to say, embracing Free Software clearly involves negligible revenue loss and gargantuan benefits.

Has Free Software caught up with Non-free software?

RMS: To a great extent, yes. But, there’s still ground for progress.

Having taken the Free Software movement to a social perspective, you must be having strong political views. Where do you stand, politically?

RMS: I stand for freedom and democracy. I believe in the role of a welfare state which takes care of all its citizens and promotes general well-being.

How do you fund yourself?

RMS: My speeches constitute my prime revenue source. People pay for my food and travel if I’m going over to some place. They also pay me a small fee. Now I’ve started a new model of revenue generation. I auction Linux collectibles for a living. Yesterday, I made some money for myself, selling a few cute Tux penguins.

What is the future of Richard Stallman?

RMS: The Stallman of the future will be a liberator of the cyberspace.

Richard Stallman

It’s a previlege to eat with you, Richard! ๐Ÿ˜›

Thank you for your time, Sir!

RMS: Happy Hacking!