Box.com – 50 gig for free!

Forget Dropbox, I just heard that Box.com gives you 50gig for free upon signup. I just signed up and it seems like I got it. Pretty cool:

Box | Secure content-sharing that users and IT love and adopt:

Box lets you store all of your content online, so you can access, manage and share it from anywhere. Integrate Box with Google Apps and Salesforce and access Box on mobile devices. Learn More

But I wonder: how can they do it? Is storage so cheap now? Yahoo gives 100Gig free with Flickr.com. 

And I also wonder, who needs 50gig free for non commercial use on Box.com? My first idea was to fill it up with movies, tv shows and so on.

But then I got to thinking: what if box.com is a big front, a magnet, or honeypot if you will, for pirated content? What if the entertainment industry, or even the FBI was behind it? Not that I myself have any such pirated stuff, but I hear that the FBI spends a lot of time trying to track down and shut down such sites.

What do you think?

Do it for free!

Tim Kreider’s essay could apply as easily to all those people who complain that an iPhone app is not free, or is so so expensive at $5.99. Not too long ago a piece of software would get $99 or $495. Makes you wonder how long Adobe can keep on charging through the nose for Photoshop and Illustrator. Anyway, here’s a bit of the article:

“People who would consider it a bizarre breach of conduct to expect anyone to give them a haircut or a can of soda at no cost will ask you, with a straight face and a clear conscience, whether you wouldn’t be willing to write an essay or draw an illustration for them for nothing. They often start by telling you how much they admire your work, although not enough, evidently, to pay one cent for it. “Unfortunately we don’t have the budget to offer compensation to our contributors…” is how the pertinent line usually starts. But just as often, they simply omit any mention of payment.” (from: Slaves of the Internet, Unite! – NYTimes.com)

 

The funny thing about iPhone apps

So a friend of mine told me of his iPhone app, called Etude. He sung the praises, it sounds really cool to me. So I whipped out my iPhone and went to download the app. Wouldn’t you know it costs $4.99. I turned to him and I said, hey, “it’s not free!”.

Yeah silly reaction, given how I’ve ranted myself about free and not-free. And here’s the funnier part still. He said, Oh, yes, it’s $3.00. I said, “No it’s more like $5.00”. He said, “Oh yes, we just raised the price.” I gave him a blank look.

Here’s the kicker. He said, “What if I give you $5.00 right now?”.

I still didn’t want to buy it… How does that make any sense?

[GEEKY] Built my first gem (Ruby Gem that is)

I’ve gotten interested in what is going on in the public sector, in particular in the world of non profits. I’ve learned a lot, met many people and been trying to define a project that would at the same time do something to better the world as be an interesting and fulfilling product challenge (notice, missing from that list is “make a lot of money”)

I want to start posting some of the cool things I am figuring out but so far I haven’t because I can’t really figure out how to organize it.

One area that I have immersed myself into is the many diverse groups who are doing work promoting government openness and transparency by, among many other things, creating the technical bridges to allow information that is already being collected to be more easily accessible. There are many of them, and one of them is the Sunlight Foundation. They are doing some really cool work, both themselves, and sponsoring and granting others who share their goals.

Wow what a long wind-up.

Anyway, in digging deeply into their APIs and datasets I decided to learn by doing and created a Ruby Gem called govsdk with the following goals:

  • A simple and consistent sdk to all the various government (federal, state and local) APIs available.
  • Totally hide from the user of the SDK what those APIs are, what the networking and REST pieces are. Instead provide classes which represent the natural domain objects and behind the scenes accesses appropriate datasets and APIs.
  • Identify the ‘current’ best APIs for the various facts and figures so that the user need not do the work to learn each of the organizations and data models. When new ones come online or change, hide that as well.
  • Provide all this in an open source library, for free, with example code, documentation and test suites.

Version 0.0.1 of the GovSdk GEM (0.0.1 — get the idea?) is implemented and available at GovSdk. Check it out, but expect it to change because this is still quite embryonic.

Subscribe to Pandora!

I’ve known about Pandora for ages, and the last month or so have been using it again, a lot. It’s quite amazing: constant, free, music. Based on your interests.

How does it work? Well just go to Pandora, set up a free account, and indicate, for example, an artist or style you like. It begins playing songs, one after another which people who’ve liked what you like have also liked. You hear a song or artist you don’t know, indicate with a thumb up or down how you like it. That’s it.

I have discovered artists I didn’t know, rediscovered some that I knew, or music that I loved and had not heard before. All for free.

One might ask, in a favorite theme of mine, how do they survive? Here is Pandora one of the most popular sites and applications on the web and on iPhones, giving it all away. And the artists, how are they surviving? It’s a mystery isn’t it.

Well not so much of a mystery. Apparently Pandora came close to having to shut itself down. No money:

Founder Tim Westergren has stated that the service is approaching a “pull-the-plug kind of decision” for the service. Why is this happening? Last year, web radio giants were hit with outrageously ridiculous fees by a federal panel for every song that would be played on their stations. This caused a lot of services to either shutdown, or go through what Pandora has been experiencing for the past year. In doing so, it seems the financial problems the music industry has set out to create in order to win the constant battle between rights, piracy, and copyrighted music, are working. (from Read Write Web)

I just did what I knew I should do.

I signed up for an annual subscription.

Yes it cost $36, not that cheap. About what perhaps you might contribute to a public radio station.

We can’t expect that valuable stuff (newspapers? music? software?) continue to be created by passionate talented people without the prospect of being able get paid for it.