Nice fonts

We largely use Open Office at home (one machine still has an old copy of MS Office, but I’m trying to convince the little guy who owns it to try OO.o). Recently Jodie was looking for more fonts (for her windows machine) and we ended up here:

1001 Free Fonts

It looks like a bit of a scam site, but it’s actually very cool, and the fonts are lovely. Well worth a visit. It has good installation instructions too, iirc.

(btw to get these to show up in Open Office, you need to close open office, and all related apps, and reopen it. If you don’t get the splash screen with the progress bar when you open it, then something was still running, try again. If in doubt, log out and back in, or just reboot.)

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Nice fonts

Pre bedtime thoughts

  • Our kid’s kids will be perhaps slightly repelled by our compulsion to hoard information, to need to memorize things, to own a copy. But they’ll pity us and say, “it’s understandable, they grew up so poor”.
  • Today, we compete in our various chosen activities mostly limited by geography (eg: “I am the only gay in the village”).  I think the future, where we all compete on the global stage in our various fields of interest, will see groupings change from geographical to much more finely grained domain niches. Also I think it will require great humility; when there are billions of people all in together, it’s very hard to be the best at something, or even up to par!
  • The internet is an idea machine which is vastly more capable, many orders of magnitude more, than any of us. It’s not whether an idea has been thought of before, but by how many people, how many nodes in the network mind. The results are, for us, riches. And wonderfully, it scales. If we want more riches, we need to keep adding more people, more nodes, to this mind. Give everyone the chance to participate in this. Get Africa online. More population, however we can manage it. Grow this thing.
  • If the freemium model says ten percent of users pay for all the rest, then we likely all end up being in roughly the same amount of ten percents. So we all pay, but we all pay a lot less, or get a lot more, or more likely, pay a lot less and get a lot more. That’s good.
  • I’m thinking of budgeting a monthly amount for donations to free things. 50 dollars australian? That’s enough to make you a millionare in New Zealand, or around 20 cents US. I might take solicitations from people out there each month on where the money should go.
Pre bedtime thoughts

Prospect Singers – Singing in the Gallery

Prospect Singers Singing in the gallery Fri 21 Aug 2009

I sing in the Prospect Singers, a community choir, on Friday mornings (it’s run by my darling wife Jodie).

For anyone local, we’re singing in the Prospect Gallery (attached to the Prospect Library), tomorrow morning.

Here’s a map reference. The library is on the corner of Thomas St and Main North Rd. The Gallery is accessed via the library.

Jodie made the poster, using Open Office. Nice!

Prospect Singers – Singing in the Gallery

Uploading MP3s to Youtube, cloud-wise

Update: Some of my numbers were out by an order of magnitude, I’ve fixed them below, striking out the old ones and adding in the new ones. It’s a factor of 10 better than I thought it was, w00t!

Update 2: I’ve started talking technical details, starting with the Job Processing Engine, on EmlynTech, my tech blog.

I’ve been wanting to upload some mp3 files to youtube for a while, starting with pretty much everything from my website. I want to be able to put music on youtube because it’s a more easily shareable format; you can embed a youtube video, you can share youtube vids on facebook easily, etc. Plain audio formats aren’t shareable in quite as frictionless a way.

It turns out that this is a bit tricky to do. Youtube is for videos, not for music files per se. To be able to upload music you need to make a video file out of them, which means you need to have some visuals to go with the audio, and some software to combine them.

Now what to use as a visual can be simple or complex. The simplest is a single image shown throughout the entire video, no effects, nothing. Of course the most complex is some giant music video with synchronised dancers, claymation, and transforming robots, but I’m not trying to go there. Other options are multiple full screen still images, swapped in at various intervals, and possibly including effects and such (like spinning or sliding onto the screen, etc etc).

If we rule out giant killer robot bollywood and just stick with the still image approach (quite popular for music on youtube), the way to achieve this is to grab some video editting software. Windows Movie Maker on windows is fine, I’m ignorant of macs but know they have some really good software. Linux is a bit painful for this (it’s what I use), lots of alternatives but all a bit difficult or buggy, I got some mileage out of avidemux. Modern phones even seem to have some limited video editting software, which might work, or be a world of hurt.

What I actually managed to make work on Ubuntu for this specific task was a command line utility called mencoder. I recorded the audio and mastered is with Audacity, made a title page image using the Gimp, created the movie (mpeg) file using mencoder, and uploaded the result to youtube. If you allow for handwaving around the proprietary mp3 format, and youtube itself, then it was free software all the way. Lovely! Here’s the result.

But you know, the whole thing is still a bit too hard, even with decent gui video editing software. Why? Because what you want to do is take an mp3, an image, stick them together, and put it on youtube. What you actually have to do is open a video editor, import your images and audio in, author the video probably using a timeline, export the video in a format appropriate for youtube to your hard drive somewhere, find and upload that video to youtube, and either delete the file from your harddrive or leave it lying around as one more piece of kruft weighing down a life already weighed down with a surfeit of digital crap.

I’m thinking what I’d like to see is a web site for doing this. It would be specifically targeted at uploading audio files to youtube. It would allow you to choose the audio file, choose an image(s), and probably it would need to know your youtube login details. It would then upload the audio and image files, create the movie file for you, and upload it to youtube, all without your intervention, and without you needing to know a lot of detail about file formats and file sizes and whatnot.

I figure that if you were to do this at any reasonable scale, you’d need a master website, but you’d also need video processing machines to do the work. Very simply, a linux box with mencoder to do the work would fill this role nicely. Add a daemon to notice video processing jobs that need doing, invoke mencoder, upload the results to youtube, inform the master website as it goes. Add a webservice for the master website to use to create jobs and monitor their progress.

For the master website, anything with some server side processing and some kind of data store would do nicely.

A feasible cheap implementation would use Google App Engine for the master website, and Amazon Elastic Compute cloud to run the linux boxes. I did some calcs on this, I think the basic linux boxes (“small” in ECC terms) would cost a bit less than US$600 per year to run 24×7, including enough traffic to handle say 20,000 200000 jobs (the maximum that I estimate one “small” linux box would manage in a year, at 60o jobs / day). In fact I think it’s processing bound, and going to a “medium” high-cpu box would give 5x the performance, so you’d get to 100,000 1,000,000 jobs per year, at a bit over double the cost. Note that traffic is negligible in these calculations; transfering 100,000 mp3s, assuming 5mb average size, being transferred in from the user’s machine, and out to youtube, would cost $135, and 1,000,000 jobs is $1,350! Also note the storage here is transitory, so we only need working space, it doesn’t grow with total number of jobs (although it does grow with concurrent load).

So 200,000 jobs running on the “small” machine would cost about $600. 1,000,000 jobs running on the high cpu “medium” box would cost roughly $2000.

What really blew me away about these calcs is that I can probably afford to run one server like this and just fund it gratis (ie: my gift to the world). We are talking say $US1200 $US2000, or in the vicinity of $1500 $2500 Aussie dollars per year for 100,000 1,000,000 jobs. I probably spend near that on lunch at work each year, and I often take a packed lunch.

More sensibly, there’s a freemium model in there somewhere that’d work. From google adsense, to paid user accounts with some extra features, to a paypal begging bowl or stickers for sale, it’s just not a lot of cost to recoup.

I’m feeling quite post-abundance anarchistic these days. If there’s a mission for my life at the moment, it’s this:

  • Find something, even if it’s trivial. Make it free for everyone forever. Repeat.

This is one of those. It’s trivial, but I could make it exist and make it free. It’s low hanging fruit (it’s just not hard), and I’d learn a heap from doing it. So, it’s on!

Other ideas to add later: You could allow more complex tools for video creation, including a general timeline approach. You could allow pure audio editing, allowing people to compose an audio track out of other pieces, including effects etc. You could allow people to download results in whatever format they desire (ie: do conversions for them). You could provide a long upload service for youtube, automating chopping long videos into 10 minute lengths and uploading them all appropriately. etc.

Uploading MP3s to Youtube, cloud-wise

An undesigned flower

Two grandstanding posts I did on the OpenManufacturing list.

First:

2009/8/4 Bryan Bishop :
>
> On Mon, Aug 3, 2009 at 5:48 PM, Paul D. Fernhout wrote:
>> Philippe Van Nedervelde wrote:
>>> Why would future-Apple and future-BMW still go to the trouble and expense of
>>> designing products? How would they be appropriately (by their
>>> standards) rewarded for their efforts and investments?
>>
>> Why would we need such companies anymore in such an abundant future? What is
>> really their primary purpose even now? What is their justification? Maybe
>> there is one, but please be clear about it.
>
> Have you noticed how futurism has kind of stagnated, Paul? To the
> point that there are so many typical assumptions that have been kept
> around, but yet here I am thinking that these issues were solved
> decades ago, but yet they still seem to be coming up. What’s gone
> wrong? It would be exceedingly helpful to write a ridiculously concise
> document that lists “common woes and common problems”, and then lists
> the solutions that are more or less not wacky that happen to solve
> those problems .. for instance, “well what if the robots put me out of
> the job? Good news! You need to reconsider the need for a job in the
> first place.” And so on.

About futurism stagnating – yes! I’ve particularly noticed it in the
transhumanist arena (wta/humanity+, extropians, etc). The future
they’re cheering for increasingly looks retro, meanwhile they seem to
be missing the awesome strangeness of the present. (eg: Humanity+
releases a glossy paper magazine, wtf?)

Unfortunately, the brave new future in many of these circles is bound
up in obsolete economic assumptions, reifying the government (wta talk
lefties) or the market (extropian libertopians). So for instance in
the discussions of nanotech recently, there are lefties talking about
the importance of control of nanotech, and market types wondering
about approaches to artificially maintain scarcity and thus save the
economy. All these people have stopped paying attention.

Meanwhile, this beautiful, undesigned flower of abundant anarchy
unfolds before our eyes, springing up out of the manure of capitalism.
What a time to be alive!

Second:

2009/8/4 Philippe Van Nedervelde <philipvn@gmail.com>:
>
> On Tue, Aug 4, 2009 at 2:34 AM, Bryan Bishop <kanzure@gmail.com> wrote:
>>
>> On Mon, Aug 3, 2009 at 7:26 PM, Philippe Van Nedervelde wrote:
>> > On Tue, Aug 4, 2009 at 12:48 AM, Paul D. Fernhout wrote:
>> >>
>> >> Philippe Van Nedervelde wrote:
>> >> > Why would future-Apple and future-BMW still go to the trouble and
>> >> > expense of
>> >> > designing products? How would they be appropriately (by their
>> >> > standards) rewarded for their efforts and investments?
>> >>
>> >> Why would we need such companies anymore in such an abundant future?
>> >
>> > Why bring up *need*?  These companies create products millions of people
>> > *want*. There’s a difference.
>> >
>> > Future people will only nanofacture objects they really *need*?
>>
>> No, they would have their tools build what they want for them.
>
> Where will their tools get the design for the product designed by a group of
> people who rightfully expect to be rewarded for their creative /
> innovative design efforts?  An unauthorized copy of that design?

Wrong question. You should first ask “Where will their tools get the
design for the product?” The answer is very likely they will get it
from what we today would call an amateur. Expect mass amateurization
(see Clay Shirky’s “Here Comes Everybody”) to eat most or all of
professional work like the Nothing eating Fantasia in the Neverending
Story.

Today we are used to getting our interesting complex
information/physical products from large hierarchically structured
groups of people, motivated by financial reward. The real minds behind
these products are people who work inside these groups, for a few
reasons:
– Money to live
– It’s where the action is

– It’s where the action is: Ignoring payment for the moment, many
creative people have traditionally worked in industry because it’s
where you could reach the pinacle of achievement. If you dream to
design real cars, you must work for a car company, because they have
the plant, the finances, the reach. Also, your peers, the people you
desperately want to mix with, learn from, create with, work in the car
companies. Similarly with computers and software and music and
appliances and etc etc etc.

But this is becoming less true. The internet has dropped not only the
cost of collaboration, but the cost of casual collaboration, down
toward zero (and it races closer by the day). So in industries where
there is no plant and financial and distribution barrier (packaged
software, photography, newspapers and magazines, encyclopedias, …)
an alternative model has emerged where you can do significant, world
changing creative work without all that commercial world
infrastructure to support you, because your peers have also recognised
that fact, so real creative buzz is happening in the “amateur” space
online.

(Speaking as an old school software professional, the “amateur”
alternative, viewed from the mixing-with-great-people angle, is vastly
superior to anything you can now find in the workplace, excepting
maybe if you work for google or something like that, but I’m sceptical
even there)

Plant and finances generally are still an issue in physical
manufacturing, but the reach problem is partly solved, the marketing
part. Distribution remains an issue, but less and less.

– Money to live: Currently most of us depend on traditional jobs or
other means of support while this stuff bootstraps. But I feel more
and more that this is temporary. The price of anything that lives
largely in the digital domain crashes toward zero. Why? Because of the
“where the action is” effect, combined with billions of souls. With
the amount of people in the game, anyone who tries to do anything
mostly informational, and hold out for profits, gets undercut by
excellent alternatives created by “amateurs” (ie: highly skilled
people collaborating for love), or by new businesses who understand
that the digital realm doesn’t mean new opportunities for massive
profit, it actually means replacing the outputs of giant corporations
with the mind children of a couple of guys in a garage living off
google ads and t-shirt sales.

This process will continue, and the digital realm’s race-to-the-bottom
economics will bleed out into the rest of our reality. The main
contributors on this list are a great example of people trying hard to
make this happen.

Now above you are talking about MNT, but it’s a long and relatively
textured path from here to there, and the path contains many interim
stages. We have the home fabbing people now, we’ll have consumer 3d
printing in the near future. Not long after that, the race to really
make 3d printers that can make more 3d printers, to make open source
feedstocks, to break out of the corporate shackles in a way that we
haven’t been able to do with 2d printers, will be well and truly on.
You can see that from “consumer” behaviour now; “consumer” is just a
really derogatory synonym for “person”, and those people are aware of
the contempt inherent in the consumer-corporate relationship.

It’s this process which will see, for the physical goods industries,
the “plant” dropping into the consumer price range on the way to zero,
and the distribution costs disappearing (because you fab it yourself).
Physical things start behaving like digital things at this point.

Also during this process, we should see real material benefits
accruing to everyone. It will just be a lot cheaper to have a decent
standard of living, with the things you want. This feeds back into the
“money to live” component of how people create for free – it’ll become
a lot cheaper to support your habit of free creation. This in turn
feeds back into even more downward pressure on the prices of the
products of minds, which increasingly are everything.

In fact, well before MNT, I’m betting that we’ll see this current
society, structured around payed labour and consumption, well and
truly broken, and replaced by something else. Whatever that is, it’s
probably not going to contain much of an IP protection regime. Why?
Because if it’s not explicitly dismantled, it’ll just get routed
around by the efforts of “amateurs” (all of us), to replace protection
laden corporate product with free licensed alternatives, exactly as is
happening (in its early stages) now. In each industry, the closed IP
will first look superior to the open alternative, then roughly
equivalent, then a tipping point will be reached where the drawbacks
of closed IP outweigh the benefits for all players, and it’ll die.

So, by the time we reach MNT, the context will have changed so much
that your original question will be semantically empty. To the extent
that organised groups of professionals will still be working for
profit, it’s far less likely they’ll be trying to charge for designs
than it is that they’ll be giving out free designs and hoping they
impress you enough that you’ll buy a t-shirt.

An undesigned flower