WordPress Upgrade Woes

I just updated this WordPress code to the latest version, however, there seems to be some bit of a problem with one small part of the administration dashboard.

The plus side is that there does not seem to be any problems accessing the blog for viewing and/or make comments… Either which way, I will have to figure out what is going on hopefully it won’t take too long to do so… Unfortunately I have a ton of other things I am working on right now so I can’t afford to spend too much time looking at the code right now… maybe I’ll do this on Monday or Tuesday or whenever…

Blu-Ray vs. HD DVD: Is History Repeating Itself?

The battle over the next generation DVD format, which will be a lucrative market for the winner, is fascinating because once again history is repeating itself. This battle pits Sony’s next generation Blu-Ray disc against Toshiba’s HD DVD format. Why do I say history is repeating itself? Well some of you may be old enough to remember the old Betamax tape. This is the video tape format that Sony developed in the mid 70s that eventually lost the VCR format wars to VHS which was developed by JVC. What is interesting was the way in which VHS won. While Sony was battling the movie industry in the US courts, because the movie industry felt threatened by the Betamax tape, JVC when it introduced VHS tape convinced the movie industry that they could earn additional revenue streams by releasing their movies on VHS. In addition to this, they also licensed their technology to other manufactures thus increasing their installed base of VCRs. Very smart move, great strategy! And thus Betamax lost even though Betamax was considered a technologically superior product.

Now we see the battle looming again with the next generation DVD format. Now the battle is between Sony and Toshiba with Sony’s Blu-Ray disk format being considered technologically superior to Toshiba’s HD DVD. But Toshiba say that their format is not only cheaper, but will be out sooner.

Both Sony and Toshiba have both been working hard to win over the movie and the software powerhouses. Sony has some advantage over Toshiba in that it owns Sony Pictures (Columbia Pictures), Sony Music Entertainment and Sony Electronic Publishing thus giving it some leverage to release movies and software in the Blu-Ray format. The impetus for Sony’s acquisition of Columbia Pictures came from lessons learned from the Betamax/VHS battle. But the key will be either to get enough backing from the major movie and software/gaming console powerhouses to tip the scale in one’s favor, or if it is technologically feasible, have drives that are able to support both formats. I am not quite sure that either option bad option at all

Who will win this battle? That remains to be seen… but maybe both will share and win alike…

Reference: BBC: Sony wins major DVD studio ally
Reference: HBS: Being There: Sony Corp. and Columbia Pictures

‘The Winter of Content’ is Finally Out

Metalheadz released ‘The Winter of Content’ a few days ago. This is a two CD set. The first CD features some of my favorite producers including Equinox, Senses, A-Sides, Commix, Digital and many others. The second CD is a continuous mix by Storm. I am not sure that tracks she is mixing, but I highly suspect that she will be mixing the same tracks on CD 1, give or take one or two tracks…

I really like the CD’s description on Amazon.com part of which goes as follows

“After the success of the full length ‘MDZ.05’ album, Goldie’s Metalheadz have pulled a shocker and come forward with a second album release for this year, ‘The Winter Of Content’. Featuring a wide variety of veteran and new artists to the label, this compilation brings all the heaviness and musically Metalheadz is known for…”

I will be buying the CD in a day or two, and I will certainly tell you if it’s worth buying. Looking at the featured tracks/artists, I have a strong feeling that I will not be disappointed…

Matisyahu Live at Stubbs & Showbox

This post is a few weeks late…. but oh well at least I got to it…

I attended the Matisyahu concert at the Showbox in Seattle. I must say it was a great performance. I was really impressed. In case you don’t know who Matisyahu is, he is an American Hasidic Jew who performs roots reggae/dub/hip-hop. I happened to be at a music store when I first saw the poster advertising his upcoming show in Seattle. What really caught my attention was that the poster was of this person holding a microphone rapping. But it wasn’t so much that the guy was rapping, but that he was dressed like a Hasidic Jew, the suit, the hat, he also had the beard too. So I noted his name, went home and did some investigating. I downloaded one of his tracks called “Warrior” which I think is an awesome track. So of course I was really eager to catch his performance.

Well, we went to see the show that Monday night… oh by the way just as a side note, Matisyahu does not perform on Friday nights… but anyway, like I was saying, we when to check out the show. He really put on a great show. Not only did he have really great roots reggae/dub tracks, but his stage presence and performance was superb. I really liked his lyrics too. I didn’t quite understand all his lyrics and some sounded like they might be Hebrew, but I liked that fact that his lyrics sounded like if they were not about The Lord at least they were inspired by Him, or from the Old Testament. I would love to interview him sometime for the Nubian Underground magazine and chat about his life and his faith.

The other thing I like about the show was that it was an all family type event. Those of you who know me know that though I love hip-hop and I grew up on hip-hop, I hate the garbage that we have to endure on radio and TV today. I am talking about the crap rap that gratifies materialism, violence, gratuitous sex and so on and so forth. I don’t waste any of my money on that kind of trash. But that is why it is really refreshing when you get artists like Matisyahu who have a positive message and put out music that you are not embarrassed to play the presents of those you love and respect.

A couple of weeks after the show, I went and bought his CD that was recorded live at Stubbs in Texas. It was somewhat similar to the concert we attended at the Showbox. However, at the Showbox, Matisyahu also played a couple of new tracks that are going to be on his upcoming release in January 2006. I can hardly wait for the new CD to come out!

OpenOffice 2.0 is Finally Out.

OpenOffice.org 2.0 or OpenOffice 2.0 is finally out. So I quickly uninstalled version 1.5 that I had installed a little while back, downloaded and installed version 2.0. Now I have been playing about with it today. And I really like it so far. I must say that I have seen vast and continuous improvements over the years from when it started out as StarOffice and eventually became Openoffice.org. By the way, StarOffice is still in development and OpenOffice branched off to support the open source software initiative.

Although I still use MS Office, I want to start using OpenOffice more as an alternative, not just in the Windows environment but also in the Linux platform. My ultimate plan is to see if I can get comfortable and self sufficient using open source software and do most of the day-to-day tasks I do on Windows in Linux instead. But that is a story for another day

Africans Innovating Cell Phone Uses

There’s a great article in the Berkshire Eagle’s business section about the innovative ways in which Africans are using cell phone and cell phone technology. Usage varies from fishermen out at sea calling in to find the most profitable ports for their fish to wildlife agents and park rangers using them as tracking devises by slinging these phones round the necks of elephants, to people renting out time for others to make calls. The market for cell phones in Africa is great and the usage is growing. Africa is currently the fastest growing cell phone market in the world

Out of a population of 906, an estimated 101 million Africans are wired and the number is rising. There are a number of reasons for this growth which mainly stem from the existence of incredibly incompetent and dysfunctional state owned telecommunication monopolies. For those living in Africa and in need of a phone, this usually means that phone service is very expensive, unreliable and those requiring a new or additional line could even have to wait months simply to get hookup to a phone. What really bugged me were the telecoms workers who would make illegal connections for making international calls but the monthly bill would go to the account where the illegal hookup was done. If you were the unlucky one to have had your phone line tapped, you got the bill. As you might guess, customer satisfaction was not very high.

So when the various governments started deregulating the industry and loosening restrictions to allow competition, a number of companies that saw opportunity stepped in. Due to the costs and the practicality of laying down new lines, these companies chose to set up cell phone infrastructures rather than landlines. And the rest is history. Now to compete in the African markets, as in any developing countries, these cell phone companies had to adjust their business models to work in this environment. For example, rather than expect folks to signup for an account and pay their monthly bill by check what they have done is to sell prepaid phone cards and so they generate their revenues that way. After adjusting their business models appropriately in the new competitive environment, the number of customers grew substantially… and is still growing.

Reading the article and seeing how innovative these folks are makes you realize the potential that Africa has if only they are in an environment that enables them to conduct business in an open and fair manner. OF course there are a myriad of other issues such as globalization, WTO, quota and tariffs, subsidies that affect Africans, however, what I am trying to point out here is that the African governments and the leaders through greed and selfishness, corruption, politics, tribalism and nepotism have been a major factor in why Africa had failed in the past. I also think that as the current generation of leadership begins to vacate the seats of power, that later generations, as long as they too have not been corrupted, will signal a turning point for Africa. And I think we are already starting to see some of that… I hope…

Why I’m Excited About MySQL 5.0 ’s Release

MySQL 5.0 is set for release in the next 10 days or so. This is a major upgrade that has been in development for about 2.5 years and includes a number of brand new features. Pretty significant among the new features is support for stored procedures. Cool! I think MySQL Version 5.0 is going to change the database landscape, especially in the developing countries.

Back in 2000, I was having a discussion with a friend of mine who at the time was a ASP developer comparing MySQL vs. MS SQL. His preference for MS SQL was mainly due to the fact that it had inbuilt support for triggers, but even more important, stored procedures and functions. My preference for MySQL was mainly because of its speed (hence its popularity as a web database) and the fact that it is also free (including for commercial use).

Three of years later, I worked on a web based application with MS SQL database in the backend. The main reason I chose MS SQL for this project was because of its support of stored procedures. Another reason was the availability of great application development tools for working with database development. It was during this project that I really appreciated stored procedures. Being able to develop SQL code blocks and encapsulate that functionality in stored procedures, then have different application code modules call the same code was really a boon to the development process. Also, the ability to separate the SQL code from the web application code was also a boon to the development process. For those of you familiar with the principles of object-oriented programming, you know what I am talking about.

This I believe underlies the strengths of Microsoft. Microsoft is really good at creating software applications and tools that makes it much, much easier for the end-user (and in this case, developers) to use. This also in my humble opinion underlies the biggest drawback of the whole open source initiative. A lot of OSS is not easy to use, to install or to maintain unless you’re a geek. Now more and more in the community have realized this and major steps have been taken towards making easier to user applications. Some examples of this include Open Office (a great and free alternative to Microsoft Office), GIMP, a Photoshop type application for the Linux platform, Blender, 3D graphing and animation software and a whole host of others.

As for database and database development, MySQL 5.0 is also heading in the right direction. In addition to support for stored procedures (among other features), there is also the supporting applications that are available for the database developer/administrator. These include, MySQL Workbench (used to be called DBDesigner 4.0 when under FabForce but is now under MySQL), MySQL Administrator and MySQL Query Browser. All these are all free, they have great and intuitive GUIs and over the past few years I have been upgrading my versions, have vastly improved capability and make full use of the MySQL 5.0’s new features.

I can’t wait to download and upgrade my version 4 and start working with the stored procedures.

Equinox, Breakage and Fanu Choppage Massive

I just found Fanu’s blog… Awesome! Some of you may know who Fanu is, but for those of you who don’t, Fanu, in addition to Equinox, Senses, 0=0 and Breakage, is one of the most talented breakbeat (or more specifically choppage style of drum ‘n’ bass) artists today. It is not an overstatement to say that Fanu is one of the best drum ‘n’ bass producers today. But the reason that I am really excited that I found his blog is that he has put up a lot of his tracks (both released and unreleased) for download. Now when you are looking for the style of drum ‘n’ bass that he produces, there is not much out there in the way of usual drum ‘n’ bass labels. Sure there are a couple that have each signed up one or two of this tracks, but nothing in the way of a full length album.

However, Inperspective Records, started by Chris Inperspective, does a lot of this kind of drum ‘n’ bass. In fact Equinox, Senses and Breakage are signed up to that label. In addition, they also have a ton of mixes and sample clips for download.

So what is choppage? It is really hard for me to describe but it kind of like seriously chopped up breakbeats meets drum ‘n’ bass… and I really mean serious bass. Bailey, on his weekly drum ‘n’ bass show on BBC 1Xtra got me hooked onto the stuff. Each week, he would end his show by playing a 20 min set of choppage, and the first time I heard him play “Acid Rain” by Equinox, I was blown over. There was no going back!

Well as you can guess, I started looking at the usual places trying to find CD releases of Equinox and Breakage, but there was nothing to be found in the way of CDs. I found Chris Inperspective’s Inperspective Records website and there I was able to download sample clips and some mixes. I even wrote to the label asking if they would be releasing anything on CD in addition to vinyl but they wrote back to say that there was really no plan to do CDs.

A few weeks later, Bailey introduced us to Fanu. Right away, it was obvious that this chap had the skills! Unfortunately, Fanu was doing most of his work from home and was not signed to any particular label, so for the longest time the only tracks that I heard of his were on Bailey’s show. Later, a couple of Fanu’s tracks were signed to a few labels here and there, but I think those are mainly slated for vinyl. So you can now understand why I am really excited I found Fanu’s blog!

Oh by the way, Bailey just introduced us once again to a really awesome new artist called Dub 1. So once again the search begins to find out more about this new artist

Platinum Breakz 03 and Timeless

Platinum Breakz III Timeless

In this previous post, I mentioned that I was a little disappointed with Platinum Breakz volume 3. For those who may have thought that I was disappointed in the music, that is not so. What I was really disappointed about was the fact that it was a single disk release rather than a double disk set release. The music though is actually pretty good. Not up to the standard set by vol. 1 and vol. 2 but still really good stuff. In fact, this CD is one of the CDs that I have on permanent retation in my CD player.

The other CD that is also on permanent rotation is Goldie release classic, Timeless. I got this CD also around the same time that I got Pltn Brkz 01, as I became familiar with Goldie. This CD is simply incredible and I would certainly urge anyone who loves good music, not just drum n bass to go out and get this one. There is a lot of emotion in some of the tracks and part of this I believe revolves around the personal tragedy that Goldie experienced concerning someone who was very close and dear to him.

Something else that I really like about the Platinum Breakz series and Timeless is that they are kind of like good wine. The longer it ages, the more you listen to the music, the better the music and that is why these CDs are always in permanent rotation in my CD player.

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