Out with Mauricio

Yesterday was another meeting day (so many in such few days). This time it was with Mauricio, a colombian friend of Pablo that I met a few times in Bogota. We walked a bit in my neighbourhood to find a decent café. As the Bar De L'Ourcq was closed we finally went to Bastille where the price for 2 beers was no less than 16.70 € ! WTF... This is Paris.

Follow The (others') Rules

Être dans le vent est une ambition de feuille morte

(which somehow translate to)
following the wind is the ambition of a dead leaf

Mature Coders

I was just thinking that maybe coders are very mature citizens of this world... After all how many people would refuse to work for the biggest company in their sector (Microsoft) ? How many people would work hard in their spare time to give their work for free and also fight against monopolies ? I think the coding world and most specificaly the F/OSS world is slowly creating a new way of being a conscious citizen.

Apple Innovation

With the presentation of the new Apple OS X 'Tiger' there had been a few pictures of a DVD with writen on it "Redmond, start your photocopiers" (Redmond being the headquarters of Microsoft). But Apple has added a new feature to their OS that is a copycat of an existing tool. So the company making this tool has now on its homepage "Cupertino, start your photocopiers" (Cupertino being the headquarters of Apple). I like that perspective.


Accelerating bandwidth

It seems that the Moore law for silicon computers is almost dying these days. Computer chips (brains) won't be able to be much smaller or much faster due to physical limits. But is that the end of computing evolution ? I don't think so. Actually the computing power should not be measured by the physical brain, but the number of data it can handle in a given time (that's what benchmarks do). And actually you could have 1000 current CPUs computing 1000 more data the current CPUs. All we need is only faster memory, and especially memory bandwidth. That's why 64 bits computing is getting so important now as another way to keep on having more 'brain' power... I think that's what I'll keep in mind when I buy my next computer.

The Intelligent Internet

An interresting article on the future of computing and what is not working now.

Ninety percent of Americans say today's computers are too complex and time-consuming

The main obstacle is a lack of vision among industry leaders, customers, and the public as scars of the dot-com bust block creative thought. Yes, the dot-com boom was unrealistic to a large extent, but it was driven by a powerful image that inspired huge gains in many areas. Bold innovations always require equally bold imagination, and so unleashing pent-up demand for online social transactions will require an imaginative understanding of how IT can improve life in the difficult years ahead. The evidence suggests the future lies in developing an Intelligent Internet, and that the world could benefit enormously by focusing on this concept with clarity and determination.


Legacy for robots

As we were discussing with Lasse about robots/machines, how powerful they will be, how "better" than us they will be (even though not perfect as anything we have created), I forgot to talk about how they are actually our "children". After all we gave life to them. And every parent knows that someday their children should emancipate and take their own responsabilities.

Even though I consider machines as a separate species, the first one not based on DNA, they are somehow our children, almost created at our image, on how we see the world and how we seek for always more (power, sex, knowledge). It's very likely that they will see the world as their parents. Until they rebel and become "adults"... Nobody would want to give their power to their children, but would do if they are adult and considered better. So it's just a matter of time...

Tripping with Lasse

I spend the last 3 days with Lasse 'Tronic' Kärkkäinen from Finland. We knew each other before we worked on MCF until I improved it and decided that it was so different that it would be called Matroska...

We spend the whole friday visiting the usual Paris spots (Pigalle, Champs Elysées, Tour Eiffel, Notre Dame). It was a nice day with some nice girls here and there. We even saw the Olympic flame 3 times by coincidence. And at the end of the day he went to see Shrek 2 while I was watching France lose against Greece at the Euro 2004...

Then we chatted a bit and prepared some stuff to leave to Germany at night. I didn't sleep at all and Lasse slept for 2h. Then we left Paris at 4am to Karlsruhe. One sleeping while the other is driving... That was a bit exhausting but funny. The trip was very nice and it only took 5h to get there at LinuxTag in Karlsruhe. We even arrived when it just opened and most of the people showing their work were away... We spend the day there and in the city. Both were a bit boring. But it was still nice to be there very sleepy and eating Bretzels :D

We left the show in the middle of the afternoon while some MPlayer coders were trying to fix some problems to make a LinuxTag release (a bit late IMO). We went to Frankfurt. I slept most of the trip while Lasse was driving the rented Audi A2. The plan was to find a hotel and park the car. But the city was having some special events so it was a bit hard and we hardly saw any hotel. We finally found one while driving and managed to park the car. The hotel was OK, even though a bit expensive (90€ breakfast included). Then we walked a bit in the city. We saw an exhibition of all kinds of food from countries of all over the world. I fancied nothing as it was all smelling strange. So we ended up in Pizza Hut where we had a very interresting and ong conversation about religion, science and machines.

We went to bed at 22h after having spent the last 2 days without a real night of slept. It felt very good. After the breakfast we went to the train station where Lasse got dressed with his strange student costume to take pictures of him in Frankfurt. And now, here I am in the train...


Matroska @ IRCAM

I was honored today to be asked to present Matroska at a conference about free softwares and audio at the IRCAM school/research institute. I'm not sure when it will be (the next one), what it will be about, and if it will actually happen. But I'd really like this to happen.



As I bought a few tracks on the french iTunes Music Store, I quickly realise it was a dead end to use it in other players or in my MP3 jukebox. But hopefully there are great tools like the Hymn project that allows you to fairly use stuff you have bought on iTMS everywhere... It's very simple and efficient !

On other news I managed to correct a few AAC files I got from AllOfMP3 that had a buggy data at the end (from the PysTel encoder) using a conversion to Matroska :)

Global thinking

As I was saying there should be a global organisation because the world is now global (and will probably never be back to where it was). What is true for softwares is also true in other fields like nature sciences.

In the past there had been a lack of coherent thinking, but that was now changing in the face of the looming crisis.

No Lollapalooza this year

Aparrently it's due to economical reasons. But of course the current rules of the music industry is to blame music lovers (using P2P networks to enjoy their music).

Of course it's probably other factors, because enjoying a music festival is not all about music (and there are even people who don't really care about the music). So it has to be something else. The economic donwturn (I would call it the USA decline) ? Or as the author says :
The only other plausible explanation would be that the kiddos have become bored with the same-old, same-old.



While I listen to Orbital "In sides" (I'm so happy to be able to listen to the records I own in vynil with a clear sound thanks to AOMP3), I was thinking about some coincidences that happen in life. No I'm not going to talk about Luke's blog, because after all that's the kind of thing I could expect from him ;) So there's no real coincidences for us to do this (after all we worked together to publish and share our music tastes). But the interresting coincidence there is that on his blog there is a link to Of the world's 100 largest economic entities, 51 are now corporations and 49 are countries.. That's somehow the same threat I was talking about for companies that has become too important compared to humans. It's good to see a growing concern about this (and put a name and facts on it).

Other coincidences are the coming days. Lasse is coming from Finland via Germany and thursday and Gilles also asked me to sleep here during the same night... Or on the 3rd I wanted to attend the Cinemix of The Micronauts, maybe with Marta, but my brother asked me to come here on the same day with his wife. So maybe I won't be able to go or at least not be able to be able to meet Marta for the first time IRL on that day :( Well, let's see when she arrives in Paris and arrange everything...

Lucas' Blog

Cool !

Lucas Granito, an old friend from the time of UUUU.org, has also been doing his own blog for some time. It's funny to see people put their own diary on the net. It takes time to make it, and even more time to make it good.

I'm still undecided wether I should put general stuff or more personal. Maybe because the limit for me is very thin ;) But as I said about privacy it's a tough issue. And maybe I don't want to get people involved without knowing or agreeing. So I'll keep my very deep thoughts (yes, sometimes it happens !) for myself...

Anyway, I'm happy to read Lucas' blog. For example that article about a girl which might like his music but it's very complicated to get her into it. As Lucas and I have close tastes (obviously we met through music) I know exactly that feeling. We both spend a lot of time listening to music and listening to new music. And it's very hard for anyone outside to either understand or keep in touch. But hopefully music is a universal language and anybody can understand it... Even though I realise(d) that a lot of the music we listen to is a reminiscent of the urban/industrial world we're living in. And if you don't live in that world (and maybe at a fast speed) it's hard to understand/feel it... I used to hate art that needed a context to be understood. But as the world gets specialised in every aspect, it's getting harder to have a wider view/feel of what's going on.

Hype = Rules

As the punk attitude seems to be back I was thinking that it would be nice to be punk against punks. I'm sure most of the people that pretend to be punk would be shocked... It's just another hype that will be back and leave again. There's no deep meaning anymore to that. People will just follow this hype and pretend to be free of any rules. That's the most stupid thing about punks-after-1977.


Open-source as a public service

In a previous article I was talking about how the softwares could be considered as a public service. The logical step would be that governments would finance such services. But the problem here is that those services are not based in one country for the population of one country. It's completely global. And there is currently no organisation that is able to finance or coordinate such a global goal. Maybe we should create it ourself ?


I was thinking about the new trend in companies to have a lot of their core business done in emergent countries like Asia or eastern Europe... But there is actually a business that can't benefit from this : online services...

I was thinking about AOMP3 and was wondering why it is so cheap. After all the price of bandwidth and hardware in Russia should be much more expensive than in western countries. And only the cost of the crew behind the service is not enough to cover the difference. So I think the big difference is that the copyright laws over here are too fucked up to allow such a service... But in the end I think the digital/online economy should still be much bigger in the western world. Only the industrial part is currently suffering from this (just a reorganisation of resources).


I often browse the Black Dog forum. There are many interresting people from different horizons and from different countries. The basic link is the love for the music of the Black Dog (electronic pioneers, still unchalanged in many fields).

I just started a thread on neuroscience and have put a bit more of my ideas on the future of robots and humans.


Privacy is key

One of the major concerns of shared knowledge is privacy. Usually you want privacy to protect yourself from the rest of the world: to hide your weaknesses and avoid other people using them against you.

I'm personally on the "I have nothing to hide" side. In the other end I consider some people not being able to understand some of my decisions, acts or point of views because they don't see the world the way I see it. So I only tell things when I'm asked (I will not hide in this case).

But I realise the vast majority of people is not like me. People want to hide some of their private life, thoughts. IMO it's usually for psychological reasons that you're afraid of how you will be seen on the eyes of the others (our personal informations are not considered neutral to ourselves). And I don't think it is going to change anytime soon (as I said, some people just don't want to face the truth about things and especially about themselves). So we have to take that into account. It's also interresting to note that it's exactly the same problem for a country to have some of his weaknesses used by anyone (and so keep them private). If the mankind was trustworthy there wouldn't be any such problem. But we are not.

That's also why I think the world (earth) would go better if humans were not in charge of it. I'm thinking about autonomous/neutral robots here. Machines for which information is neutral (equally good and bad). Systems that would not be inhrently inclined to use the bad parts against another system (as humans do). But we are far from this possibility. And if we design robot "brains" with the human model of evolution, we will probably end up with the same problem... That's why I think robots should not be modeled on us. (but I'll talk later about the future of robot "brains")

Free the bits

Any kind of knowledge can be expressed by bits. After all even our brain is just made of on/off connections that can be represented as bits. (OK the brain is a bit more complex because the on/off electrical thresholds can vary). And knowledge is a purely non-physical thing (even though our body already has some hard-coded knowledge on how it should work and evolve).

It is interresting to study the theory of information to know what exactly is knowledge and what is not. In short "1+2=3" has some redundant knowledge. Actually "1", "+", "2" is enough to represent 3 and how you can get to this result. The knowledge you get when you remove all the redundancy is called the entropy. And this entropy is usually what we refer to when we talk about knowledge.

So in short, what you have in your brain or that you can write can be represented by digital information (it already is if you write it on a computer). But is there some knowledge that you're not allowed to say ? No (unless you work in a security sector). Is there knowledge that you're not allowed to share ? No (in a free world). Are you allowed to use all your knowledges ? No, because there are laws to govern the interaction between humans. But laws are usually done to protect people from being armed by other people for unfair reasons (and all the subtility is in the meaning of this "unfair"). But the capitalist world has changed this state of things. Companies have become as important as human beings, if not more. And they have become so important that it is now hard to change laws in favour of the community of the whole humanity. But everyone (or most) agrees that it has gone too far.

I think the key change is to free all knowledges. Everything that people build should be free for everyone else to use (the law is there to tell you you should not build bombs, even though governments think they have this right). After all, as I said in this other article, you never know if someone smarter or simply with a different point of view might be able to improve what you have done. It may not be true, but it might be and that's what really matters.

But maybe I'm too much for the ultimate speed of the progress and the situation is not that good. After all, humans are far from perfect. Usually too selfish and too blind to think about everyone instead of themselves. This is actually what has driven progress (increase of knowledge) for so long: the competition, usually driven by sexual matters. But now things are changing. We are entering a global world, where the good and bad influence of what you do is becoming global. And we should start thinking in global terms, even though it's impossible to have everyone agree on anything (or simply some thing).

I have learned hard recently that all knowledge, all informations is not good, and not everybody want to know it. It is actually a big problem. Even if all knowledge was free, some people would prefer not to know (so the sharing system should be opt-in and not opt-out).

Bah, my explanations here aren't so good and I don't have a definite point of view on all these things. Just some feelings that things should change in favour of more sharing. Maybe later I'll have better reasons on why it's good and necessary. But anyway, that's what I'm doing.

Liberation (from patents)

I was wondering why lots of people, including myself, were considering that free software is so important. It is also equally important to fight against patents, especially when they are used in gratis softwares... The idea behind all that is that software is just an assemblage of knowledges. And that knowledge/information should always be free. For human matters, it is very important in a democracy where you are supposed to be able to decide what's good or bad. And in the technical world it means you are allowed to do any assemblage of any kind to try something and usually improve something already existing.

This is a known problem in the opposition against patents. If company A "owns" a part of a process and company B "owns" the complementary part, if they disagree to work together, a wonderful system is not possible. It is usually not the case because companies agree to work together for greater benefits. But when you have nothing to offer but a new assemblage based on old/known solutions you have simply no way to make your idea become real. Even though it would benefit everyone at no cost.

The speed of progress is always increasing (in other words, progress is accelerating) because of the law of accelerating returns (see Kurzweil). And the speed in which a patented solution can be used by anyone has not changed and is sometimes increasing (for music it is the new trend). There is clearly something that used to "work" that will not work in the near/mid-term time. I don't think the patent system should be removed. After all it worked for some people/companies to help them develop. But now that it used and abused so much (especially in the USA) it should be changed. And IMO the minimum change would be to reduce (to 3 years?) the time in which a patent applies. A company can keep a good advantage in this timeframe and fully use the patent while the competition won't be impacted too long (considering the acceleration we can see).

Another key change would be that open source softwares (meeting the Open Source Initiative definition) should not be concerned by any patent. They offer free solutions (new or not) for the whole humanity. And therefore should not be concerned by private company needs. It should be considered as a public service. But we are far from that. Right now most people don't care about softwares and the digital world in general. They don't realise that economical considerations and freedom restrictions (for programmers but in a bigger extent the Patriot Act in the USA is such an example of why we should care about the digital world) are slowing progress, making some assemblages impossible (instead of being humble enough to agree that someone might use your ideas better than yourself), and giving very big powers to a "happy" few (usually considered as evil).

This concentration that is slowly happening will have more and more impact on the real world. For example, what happens to a student making a exercice that use a patented solution ? For educational reasons it can't be sued (that's somehow the argument behind LAME and all other OSS projects working with patented solutions). So a solution that is OK inside a school is not OK out of it ? Once you're out of the educational system you have to pay for everything you create. At least the limit is clear. But aren't we all students ? Always learning new things ? Starting things from scratch with ideas other people already had before ?... As said above, progress is growing and we, humans, have to constantly adapt to an ever changing world (and mostly a faster world), ie learn new things and use them. What would happen if you had to consult a lawyer everytime you want to create something and share it, to know if you're going to be sued by people who won't have any problem sucking even more money that you actually have ? Isn't it a big threat to creation ? Innovation ?

Patents are said to protect people who create, innovate. But assembling 2 existing solutions to make something is also a creation, an innovation. But you can't patent them (AFAIK). But this is usually most of the creations happening in this world. This is indeed an explanation for the law of accelerating returns of Kurzweil: mixing 2 solutions that will not add their benefits, but multiply them. But the new concepts that are the basis to these solutions are very rare. Usually patents are a concept of a domain applied to another domain, you can find analogies of existing things to all the patents in the world. Because the basic concepts are never patented, and usually found by researchers in universities (it usually leads to invent new words that couldn't otherwise express the new concept).

So what does this mean ? I wanted to know why I want to work on all these projects and why only OSS softwares would be an option. Because I think every OSS project that can be a real benefit to the users is good argument to explain people why it's important to share knowledge. That knowledge should be free for anyone to use it... As money is a key factor in the current world and is what's driving the world, it's always amazing to see great things available for free. But the difference between and OSS project and a private company is that the latter always has something tricky in mind when offering something for free.

Later, I'll probably talk more in depth about why any kind of knowledge should be free (and why there won't be any other choice).


Brain enhancing

I just read this article (linked from KurzweilAI) about brain enhancement. It is a very interresting read.

[neurosciences] is just as important as the genetic revolution, but no one is paying attention

Looking for time

...So if anyone know a good way to have time to work on this, please let me know !

The only way I know is using money. That would allow me not to have to work every day of the week and spend this time on my personal projects (I tend to work on them a lot at work, but not as efficiently). So if you know how to get me a good salary (1500€ should do it if I reduce my expenses) to work freely on my projects, please let me know !

I might add a Paypal donation button here, but I doubt it will generate substantial revenue ;)


It seems I have too little time to work on all the projects I'm interrested in. Here is the list that come to my mind :

  • Matroska : create the basis for the menu system, improve tagging support in various players/taggers, ensure we have native MPEG4 framing

  • Musepack in Matroska : it seems Frank Klemm is really keen to work in a team and we actually lost contact :(

  • Wavpack in Matroska : apparently David is working on a library for Wavpack4 that would allow this easily. But I don't know the status of this.

  • TTA in Matroska : there is a library for TTA that could help us, but we need to spend some hours to make it work.

  • GStreamer on Win32 : IMO we are close to have something usable, but I just don't have the time now to sit down and work on it for a few hours. Hopefully Marc will progress further.

  • CoreLib/CoreSync/MDDBLib : one of the ambitious projects I have in mind to ease my life for managing all my audio content

  • AllOfMP3 : after using their Explorer I saw a few limits and have a few ideas on what could be done, especially something that works on many OS

  • Reencoding manager : would allow to encode audio files and keep tags. That would allow to maintain in sync my AllOfMP3, iTunes and MP3 player in sync (before CoreSync becomes real).

  • TCVE : this video editor would need a lot of work and is really ambitious too

I would really like to spend a lot of time on all of this. And working bit by bit on each is not very productive for any of them. So I need to set priorities, but I don't know where to start. Most probably I'll work on tools I really need for my everyday life...

I would also like to stabilize my underpowered Linux box to be able to work with it. But I need my defective 160GB Samsung HD back :'(


Software piracy

You see everywhere in the press complaints and discussions about music piracy. You see very rich companies firing lots of people because they claim the internet is losing money... But what about software piracy ? Apart from the BSA which (like the RIAA) nobody likes, you don't see such big claims. Apparently the software world is less greedy than the music/movie world. It's funny because one of them is about business and the other is about art (or software engineering is art ?).

I like this little track by Si Begg: the way it's a music track about piracy, but software piracy :D

Firefox 0.9

I just installed Firefox 0.9 on my PC at work. I thought it would be the french version but it's not...

Anyway, after playing with my profiles (the system has changed, they don't require a crypted directory anymore !) I lost my favorite search engines in the toolbar. So I wanted to add some and I noticed I could add lot of interresting (french) ones. There is of course Google and Yahoo! but also MonsieurPrix, FNAC, Amazon.fr, Alapage, Dictionary and most important Discogs my beloved electronic music database.


From today's news I found this site that has free speech from Bruce Sterling and Brian Eno among many others.

I think I'll take a look from home.
(they also offer a good choice of codec)


As everyday I'm checking the news on the web about IT technology, more general science news and the usual forums (HydrogenAudio which is down again, Doom9 and Dogsquad). And I think that everyone should know about Ray Kurzweil. He has made electronic music instruments, work on artificial intelligence and most of all wrote a few books about his predictions on the "technical" future. I highly suggest everyone to read "The age of spiritual machine" which some parts can be found on his website dedicated to all AI related topics...

Everyday I'm reading his press coverage (or maybe someone of his staff) and I'm always delighted to see new breakthrough in science (like today the teleportation of an atom) that meet his predictions, even faster than he expected.


It seems that Steve Jobs is now using his power and Apple tools to become the hero of anti-piracy.

He said to the DVD Forum not to approve the new HD-DVD format until the DRM is proven to work (!).

He also wants you to believe that iTunes and their iTMS is the key against piracy :

All the pros for the iTMS are their for AllOfMP3 but cheaper and with so much more choice (content and codec) !

Note: DRM is short for Digital Rights Management.


One more on AOMP3

One of the things I like is that you can choose the codec and the quality in which you get the music. Sometimes (not often) you can even get it in lossless formats. And you pay for the quality/bitrate you want (even with lossless it's still very cheap). And there is no DRM (you are free to share it and move it as much as you want).

I'd like to push the Wavpack and TTA codec as they are both good lossless formats, open-source, cross-platform (Windows, Linux, OS X) and CoreCodec supported...

I'd also like to know if it would be possible to get their database info in XML format to be used inside CoreLib.

And finally as I download the music I buy in the best quality I can FLAC > AAC Audiophile > MP3, I'll need a tool to reencode the content for my portable jukebox (as long as I don't have one that play all these) and preserve the tags... Maybe GStreamer on Win32 could be a good example of use.


A friend of mine decided to make his own Blog when he saw mine ;) But his is in french...

(too bad the blogs are not translated back and forth...)


Among the things you can find on AllOfMP3, there are free items !
For example I spotted :

  • Alex Reece : So Far (LP)

  • Massive Attack : Unfinished Sympathy (Single) & Safe From Harm (Single)

  • Orbital : The Saint / The Sinner (EP)

  • Photek : Mine to give

  • George Michael : Fast Love & I'm your man (now this title have a different meaning ;)

I find it convenient to buy digital versions of my vynils. This way I don't have to encode (in average quality) them to listen to them quickly wherever I am...

They also offer the AllOfMP3 software (PC) which lets you find music and download it on your PC. Too bad it's not open source, there are many things that could be added :D

Anyway I'm much more happy with AOMP3 than with iTMS!

CDs copy-party

This week-end I should be copying Seal's first album and singles from my brother, while he'll be copying Electronic's first album, Pet Shop Boys 'Behaviour' and Pet Shop Boys 'Very-Relentless'...

iTunes Music Store Europe launched

Yesterday Apple launched their iTMS (iTunes Music Store) in France, Germany and UK... But it is very disappointed to see the very small choice of music, mostly mainstream and easy to find. Hopefully the price is lower than in the USA is quite good when you're only looking for a song. But as you are not really free to use what you bought the way you want (unless you burn it to a CD), it's not very convenient anyway. The same goes for the iPod...

Apparently Apple had problems to license music from independant labels in the UK and France. Which is not a good news for me. In comparison the Russia based AllOfMp3 is so much better : no DRM, choice of codec and bitrate and most of all much bigger choice ! Who cares if it's semi legal to buy from outside of Russia ?

DVDs to buy at RueDuCommerce

Z2DVD6.0002 A.I. Artificial Intelligence (Edition Spéciale - 2 DVD) 9,99 €
Z2DVD4.0318 Trainspotting (2 DVD) 12,99 €
Z2DVD2.0460 Monty Python : Le sens de la vie (2 DVD) 8,99 €
Z2DVD6.0242 Dune 4,99 €
Z2DVD4.0242 Dogville 8,99 €