Qt, Drupal, iTunes, DRM and a bunch more

I saw this story on slashdot today and wanted to share it - this is exactly why I will never buy anything DRM-protected. If you missed the other article a while back, this is the second music store to shut down in the past few months and leave its users in the dark. I say "in the dark" because both Yahoo! and MSN took down their key servers along with the service, so any user who needs to authorize a new computer to play the music they legally purchased is unable to do so - forcing them to rebuy the songs they've already paid from for somewhere else. This is the perfect example of why I think DRM is a bad, bad technology. Another reason was something I read in a comment on slashdot (sorry, don't have the link this time): When you think about it, the users who pay are getting the short end of the stick. If you pay and recieve DRM content, you're getting a service that's worse than what you get from pirating that same content! For example, music. People who illegally download music are getting high-quality (320kbps) MP3 files without any content restrictions for free, while the users who pay to download music will typically get a 128kbps AAC or MP3 file, with DRM restrictions... Something has to change. Soon.

If you agree with me, try to opt for DRM-free music or simpy don't purchase DRM-encumbered music. While a CD will cost you a few more dollars, it has a much higher sound quality and it's not restricted in any way. Hopefully if the music industry sees the common trend of users moving towards DRM-free music, we can get rid of DRM once and for all. I've started purchasing from the iTunes store now that iTunes Plus is getting more popular, and I must admit I'm liking it. I can choose to purchase only select songs from an album, the prices are very reasonable ($0.99/song) and the sound quality is great - 256kbps AAC! What's best of all is that I can play the songs anywhere without the need for authorization - including on Linux or on other non-iPod media players (like Creative MuVos for example) since I can convert the song to any format: ogg, flac, mp3, etc.

Anyways, now that that rant is out of my system, I'll tell you what I've been up to recently. I've been creating a new website for the open-source section of Diffingo.com with the Drupal CMS. I still like Joomla since there's lots of support and community extensions available, but Drupal was recommended by a few friends so I figured I'd give it a shot. And I'm happy I did.

The first thing I noticed was that it was lightning-fast - at least twice or three times faster than Joomla. Not only that, but to my surprise it was much easier to use. I found the interface much cleaner and easier to look at... Everything faded nicely and there seems to be some pretty advanced Javascript stuff built right-in to the administator interface. The WYSIWYG "TinyMCE" editor packaged with Joomla is available for Drupal, so I felt right at home. Drupal also does away with the whole sections and category thing which is really nice. Instead, content items are created as "nodes" and you can cross-categorize nodes if you'd like to.

Blogging is also supported out-of-the-box, which was a big plus since I call this a "blog" but really it's just Joomla content items displayed on a homepage (this is going to be moved to Drupal soon, too). I found themeing Drupal to be a bit more difficult than theming Joomla, however that was made up by Drupal's wonderful access controls. Drupal supports creating user roles, and each role hasa set of permissions. This effetively lets my control who gets to what, when, where and how. I created three simple groups to start with (co-administrators, registered users and anonymous users), but there's a lot of potential in there that I'm hoping I can tap into later.

So, as I blogged about last time I'm also working on a new version of fwbackups. I've changed almost everything I could behind the scenes - from autotools to CMake, from GTK to Qt and from Python to C++. I plan on keeping the interface as similar to as it was before, but it's going to be much simpler and easier to use. It's also going to be much faster under the hood - I'm going to have more info about the next version soon, as soon as I get the new drupal site up ;)

One problem I had when making all these changes was how to set things up properly - it took me a few days, but right now the interface in Qt is done and the very little of the program that's been completed is C++ builds on Mac OS X (10.3.9 and later), Windows (MinGW required) and Linux of course. If you're looking for a way to do this with one of your projects, I'm going to blog about getting the structure for all that setup soon, so check back in a week or two!

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