If you are into jazz, you might want to take a look at a collection of online resources gathered by my friend Johan Hauknes and his colleagues in the Behind the Music - Profiting from Sound project, a Nordic study from 2003 of the music industry.
It is presented as a gateway to information with links to institutions and resources on the Nordic and global music industry and to a range of online jazz resources.
There is a general agreement that the windows-based user interface that was invented by Xerox, adapted by Apple and then stolen by Microsoft was a huge improvement vis-a-vis the cursor and text-based user interfaces of earlier computers.
Nowadays most people take the use of the mouse and idea of gathering files in folders as obvious. It was not.
During my days as a young civil servant in the Norwegian Ministry of Education, Research and Church Affairs (don’t ask!) in the early 1990’s I became one of the local “PC user helpers” and was given the task of explaining the concept of files and folders to people who had no idea of how a computer worked.
I remember that i found a card box and put paper-folders and paper sheet into those folder to illustrate the concepts of the hard drive (the box), the folder (the folder) and the paper sheet (the file).
If I didn’t many of them would just hit the save button, having no idea about where the file went. They were not stupid, but no one had explained to them the basic concepts of computing.
Very few user interfaces are obvious. The uses of a water basin tap, a radio volume button, or a screw driver are all learned behavior.
Anyone who have been to one of the modern “designer hotels” know this, as they suddenly find themselves unable to turn off the lights (where is that light switch?) or get running water in the shower (what button to push or turn, and which way?)
Here is a very funny video from the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation that describes this dilemma in a wonderful way. It is taken from the show “Øystein og jeg” from 2001. Øystein Backe plays the helper from the help desk and Rune Gokstad is a desperate monk trying to understand how to use — a book! There are English subtitles.
(By the way, the book was not introduced in the Middle Ages, but in late antiquity.)
We have a lot of music. We have managed to rip most of our CDs, and are now buying most of our music online through iTunes and the like.
Our iTunes library has now a whopping 90 GB of music and if you add regular files that are not uploaded to Gmail, we need to back up at least 110 GB worth of data.
Yes, we do have an external hard drive and Apple’s new Leopard OS has an excellent back up facility called Time Machine. It works, but this backup is nothing worth if — God forbid — there should be a fire.
Given our ADSL broadband connection I started to search for online backup solutions. It would be great if we could get the Mac to automatically back up all new files to a remote server, and then forget about it. Whatever happens, we will have a complete copy of all the music and all the images stored away somewhere.
We actually do have a .mac account, that can be used for this purpose, but at least in Europe it is very slow, and it will choke on this amount of data.
I found a large number of seemingly high quality services online, but they all become pretty expensive when you reach the 100GB limit. They are well suited for companies, but not for private homes.
I found one service though, that promises unlimited storage for a reasonable price (USD 4.95 per month) , namely Mozy. Even better, they have a Mac version of the software in beta, and the encryption seems solid.