The day the Music Died..in Ruckus

ruckus_shieldRuckus, which was once a source of free music in a legal way of obtaining it and was based on advertisements. The way that I was introduced to Ruckus was through my University and I found it to be a pretty good service even with the DRM protected content.

Over the weekend, however, I found that upon visiting Ruckus.net I was greeted with an “Unfortunately the Ruckus Service will no longer be provided” message.

At first I thought I must be at the wrong website, maybe a fake one. Nope, it’s true and it was for me without warning.

Oddly enough, I had just used the service on February 5 and it turned out that the very next day they closed their doors.

For those of you who spend a lot of time building a DRM protected library in Ruckus, I’m sorry to say that your music will slowly become unplayable. Your best bet is to find an alternative or get to cracking that protection as soon as possible. 😉

I turned to a service that I had looked into in the past, but never got around to trying. SpiralFrog will hopefully be a good replacement to Ruckus for me, but so far I’ve been disappointed to say the least with their song and artist selection of available for download tracks.

Another thing that I dislike about SpiralFrog is the fact that the download manager seems to only handle one song at a time and is fairly poor at doing even that!

Ruckus was capable of downloading multiple tracks at once and downloaded them very fast through the client which was a download manager and player all in one (a long with the advertisements).

ruckus-client

Are there any other good alternatives that I should look into that are legal and free?

Free Windows Vista to Windows 7 Upgrades

windows 7 startup boot screenAccording to Tech ARP, Microsoft has been drafting a plan that will allow some Windows Vista users to upgrade to the next version of Windows, Windows 7, for free.

This upgrade plan, which is temporarily named “The Windows 7 Upgrade Program,” is being developed in order to “assist Microsoft’s OEM partners in minimizing the number of end users who may postpone acquiring a new computer because of the impending release of the Windows 7 operating system. This program allows OEMs to offer an upgrade to Windows 7 to end users who qualify.”

While plans and drafts have been developing since December 10, 2008, there is still no official word on the exact eligibility rules. However, according to a draft, eligibility will apply as follows and a requirement must be met before you are eligible.

End users must purchase a new PC that is pre-installed with an eligible Windows Vista Operating System (OS), during the program eligibility window.

The PC must have a valid Certificate of Authenticity (COA) attached.

The only Windows Vista® versions eligible for the program are :

  1. Windows Vista® Home Premium
  2. Windows Vista® Business
  3. Windows Vista® Ultimate

* Microsoft Windows Vista® Home Basic, Windows Vista® Starter Edition, and Windows® XP (all editions) are not qualifying products under the program.

The Program does not support multiple upgrades for medium, large, or enterprise customers. Customers that want to upgrade multiple PCs should use the appropriate Microsoft Volume Licensing program. See www.microsoft.com/licensing for more details.

The following are the only valid upgrade paths under the program :

  1. Windows Vista® Home Premium -> Windows® 7 Home Premium
  2. Windows Vista® Business -> Windows® 7 Professional
  3. Windows Vista® Ultimate -> Windows® 7 Ultimate

For those of us who forked out the cash to buy Windows Vista Ultimate, it looks like we are getting the shaft end of the deal to the extreme. If the program is revised and Vista Ultimate users are allowed an upgrade then I will continue to support Microsoft with future releases. However, if I am forced to purchase Windows 7 after having purchased Vista Ultimate with absolutely no benefits then I plan to simply boycott Microsoft. (Period).

My One Year Anniversary With Netflix

As you can tell from the goofy title, I’ve been with Netflix for one year now!

I must say that I’ve loved the service! I use the Watch Instantly feature daily and get two in the postal mail every 3-4 days!

I recommend it to all of my friends if you don’t have it already. If you’re even the slightest bit tech savvy then you’ll also find that it’s easy to stream movies from Watch Instantly to your television!

My laptop has an S-Video out and my television at home has an S-Video in. If you’re not sure what S-Video is then here’s an image.

s-video-port s-video-cable

The image on the left is the port that you should look for on your television and computer, while the image on the right is the cable that connects the two. You can click on the images to view a larger version.

The only problem that some of you may run into after getting the two connected is figuring out how to switch the computer view to an output source. I won’t go into too much detail on that since there will be far too many computers and layouts for me to cover, but simply put there is typically a button on your keyboard up on the top row that will toggle output sources. You may need to use a key combination such as the function key and the output source key which for me is Fn+F4.

I hope that helps and for those of you who suddenly realized the potential of Netflix (and other video sources such as Hulu), I hope your on your way to streaming more. 😉

Mac and Windows, Netflix and Silverlight

I’ve not been very pleased with Windows lately and have found that Ubuntu seems to have more to offer. However, after booting up in Windows Vista today for updates I wondered what the new Netflix Watch Instantly looked like and how well it worked.

After installing Silverlight it was time to check it out. If you want to use the silverlight version, which now supports Mac and Windows both, then you will have to opt-in here first.

I was surprised! The new player is great! I would even say it’s better than the old player. I just can’t wait until it’s supported in Linux.

Anyone have any opinions on the new player or Netflix Watch Instantly in general?

Windows 7 Preview

Today Microsoft gave the first public demonstration of Windows 7. Below is a short gallery of Windows 7 screenshots. For more information about the details of the Windows 7 and what’s changed or new just click on one of these links.

Just to point out a few things that you should pay attention to, I’ve made the following list:

  • The New Windows Taskbar
  • Jump Lists
  • Aero’s New Moves
  • Unified Search
  • Fewer Annoying Pop-ups
  • HomeGroups
  • Device Stage

(Images thanks to LLarsen’s Flickr photostream)

Microsoft Windows Official Embedded Theme XP and 2003

Contents

  1. Brief
  2. Download
  3. Installation

Brief

Microsoft has come out with a new Windows XP and 2003 theme which can be found in Windows Embedded Standard CTP Refresh.

It is not available for download publicly, but has been extracted from the OS itself so you can download it from the link provided in the end.

If you like this theme then you can get it below. The installation instructions are listed below as well.

Download

Installation

  1. Download the zip package. The link is listed above.
  2. Unzip the archive to a folder.
  3. Open the folder that you extracted the zip file to.
  4. Select all of the files and folders and copy them using either “right click -> copy” or Ctrl+C.
  5. After copying the files, browse to the following folder:
    C:\WINDOWS\Resources\Themes
  6. Paste the files and folders that you copied into this folder.
  7. Now, right click on your desktop and select Properties.
  8. Open the Appearance tab.
  9. In the Windows and buttons list, change the selection to the item labeled Windows XP style that is not already selected. Now change it back to the first entry labeled the same thing.
  10. The Embedded option will now be available in the Color Scheme list. Select it.
  11. Click OK and wait for the changes to take place!

Power Hour v0.4 source is now available

I finally got around to uploading the source code to my Power Hour program. I hadn’t looked at it in about a year and just recently have been getting comments and emails about it.

It looks like I may need to start it back up and see if I can finish it since I stopped shortly after getting most fo the features working last year.

It would also be nice to go in a clean up the code and stabilize it a little more with some error checking and such. If anyone is interested in fixing and patching the errors with me feel free. My contact information can be found on the “About” page (linked to above).

I also took some time recently to convert the code from the original Visual Basic 2005 format to the newer Visual Basic 2008 format just to keep up with the times. If you don’t have Visual Basic 2008, you can download it for free and get a free registration code from Microsoft. I use the Express Editions and they offer everything I would need.

The Visual Basic 2005 code is available for v0.4, so if you already have that then you can just start contributing code from that and I can quickly convert and make it fit into the Visual Basic 2008 code.

I’m working towards Power Hour v0.5 and I plan on publishing it after the application becomes very stable and all currently pending “tickets” are resolved. If you want your name added to the credits just send in some form of a patch or fix and I’ll add your credits to the program!

Until then just enjoy the program and show your friends. 😉

Digsby Performance Update

Digsby released a much intended performance update to the now very popular instant messaging client today.

Overall performance of the instant messenger has dramatically improved cutting CPU and Ram usage down up to by up to 75%!

There have been a number of stability fixes and general messenger improvements as well.

Major changes in this release include:

  • RAM Usage: We optimized from the ground up and fixed memory leaks to lower RAM usage by almost 75%. This has been the number one complaint since our launch and we are proud to introduce this massive improvement.
  • Performance: User interface elements draw twice as fast for better performance. We have made changes to the architecture that will improve GUI responsiveness and CPU utilization across the board.
  • Connectivity: Every IM protocol automatically tries multiple connection methods and ports to improve the odds of getting through restrictive firewalls and proxy servers.
  • LinkedIn: Digsby now supports LinkedIn in addition to the other social networks. Functionality includes a full newsfeed, alerts when new messages arrive, and the ability to set status right from Digsby.
  • Bug Fixes: We have fixed hundreds of bugs, making Digsby more stable than ever. There have been almost 3,000 revisions in our codebase since the last release so there are too many fixes to list in our changelog.

If you haven’t noticed the update yet and would like to update Digsby now then the easiest way is to close Digsby and reopen it. Upon reopening, Digsby will search for updates and apply them automatically. 😀

If you noticed major improvements and didn’t know why, then now you know! 😉

UPDATE:

Apparently the update is only automatically pushed to people using the test builds. All others will need to manually download and install the update. Thanks Jeffrey for clarifying that in the comments.

Just to clarify: digsby will automatically update for those users who were on the test builds. Everyone else must actually download and reinstall to get the latest version. The easiest way to find out is by checking your Digsby version by going to “About -> Digsby”. If the build is 15142 or lower then you must download and reinstall manually.

Related Posts:
How-To: Digsby+Wine

New Widget: Latest Snapshots

I just finished writing a new widget that may be helpful to some of you Opera Desktop Team enthusiasts. It reloads the latest builds every 5 minutes by default, but can be configured to any interval.

The widget is very simple, and if you want to test it before it’s available from the Widget repository then you can grab it from my site here.

The current version as of making this post is v1.0, but I’m going to be releasing an update soon to notify you when a newer snapshot build is available and also show in the widget the current build that you are using so it’s easier to reference. 😉

If you have any comments or suggestions please leave them on the widget page here. Enjoy!

Google Chrome: First Look at a First Release

Details regarding Google Chrome, which if you haven’t heard yet is Google’s new web browser, were recently leaked through a comic that Google released to a selected crowd of people and then the the world when it was leaked online.

The comic images show many different features of the Google Chrome browser and help to explain what’s different about Google’s browser compared to other browsers that are already available. It’s worth a read and you can read it here.

After refreshing my browser for nearly an hour, Google’s Chrome web site finally became live and I jumped at the chance to download this brand new product and give it a review.

Well the review will come shortly, however, I will go a head and reveal some screenshots of the browser and a first look response: shockingly impressive, simple and very stable!

If you want to download Google Chrome and try it for yourself then just navigate over to http://www.google.com/chrome and download and install away. Google Chrome is currently only available for the Windows platform, but Macintosh and Linux should be available soon!

Google makes a web browser: Google Chrome

Although it was rumored for a long while, there were plenty of people doubting that anything would ever pan out.

Google has released a few details to the new browser in their official blog. Many people have given the rumored browser the name gBrowser, however, Google seems to think the official name should be Google Chrome. Regardless of the name, I think we are all excited to see what this browser will have to offer!

According to Jeff at the Big Blue Ball, Google will be releasing Google Chrome for the Windows platform today!

Google is getting their fingers into everything these days, and the latest foray is a new web browser called Chrome. According to the official Google Blog, Chrome will be available for download on the Windows platform beginning sometime Tuesday, September 2.

Google Chrome is built on top of the Webkit project so standards support and compatibility should be rock solid from the start.

After the initial release in Windows, Google Chrome will be released in versions for Macintosh and Linux.

I’m excited about more competition coming to the table to push and progress the web! I hope everyone understands what this will change!

Stay tuned for my thoughts and a review of Google Chrome. Until then you can read the comic strip that Google posted a link to in the Google Chrome blog post. I’ve taken the time to post the comic here, however, all work done in these images has been done by Google and I am only posting the comic here.

UPDATE:
To keep an eye on Google Chrome and test it as soon as it is released, point your browser to the following address and refresh as frequently as you wish. The link should become live and switch from the current 404 to the product page with a Windows download link. 😉

http://www.google.com/chrome

In the meantime, if you’d like to learn more about Google Chrome before it is released you should head over to the entry that is already in place at Wikipedia.

UPDATE 2:
Google Chrome is now available! Download it now! I’ll be posting some screen shots shortly. Screen shots are posted here:
https://www.kyleabaker.com/2008/09/02/google-chrome-first-look-at-a-first-release/