How to fix the anime industry

Justin Sevakis over at Anime News Network a couple days ago posted an open letter to the anime industry.  It’s really good and worth a read.  For those who haven’t been paying attention to the anime scene, his letter does a really good job of explaining the current state of the industry and why anime distribution of questionable legality happens the way it does.

Personally, I’m one of those people who will buy the DVDs of a show that I’ve watched when it finally becomes available in the US, because I believe in supporting the artists who create this stuff, and that’s the easiest way to do so.  But as Justin points out in his letter, 90% of the good stuff never makes it to the US, ever.  You can look back a few posts in my blog to see a list of some of the series I’ve watched.  There’s a lot.  Hardly any of them have DVDs or other merchandise available in the US yet. I haven’t shelled out very much money, just because there’s no one to give it to. Some of them actually did get licensed (Pretty Cure) and then the licensee never did anything with them.  Some actually made it to market (Ojamajo Doremi/Magical DoReMi) but didn’t survive halfway through the first season in the US (even though there were 4 seasons of it in Japan) because of poor marketing, or (by some accounts) poor execution on dubbing/editing of the English version.  My kids love Magical DoReMi, and we’ve managed to accumulate a fair bit of merchandise (doll sets, accessories, DVDs) recently for them to play with, found on clearance at local stores and on eBay.  And it wasn’t because of the US marketing (because they took it off the air years ago), but because we saw the fansubbed Japanese versions.

There are shows that do make it and do well.  Digimon, Pokémon, and Mega Man are good examples, from which we own a good few dozen DVDs. And one mustn’t forget Naruto (although nobody in my household is a fan of that one).  But from the total size of the market, that’s a very small number of shows.

I really hope the industry takes Justin’s letter to heart.  It’d make my day to be able to get this stuff from official sources, even if it cost money, although I’d personally prefer ad-supported websites 😉 .  It’s a global economy now, and thanks to the Internet, it’s a world market.  It’s time to give up on the region-locked licensing and just distribute globally from the get-go.

Trying to find that long lost tab

I’m very much a power user.  I use my web browser constantly, for both work and play, and get extensive use out of tabbed browsing.  I keep web pages that are related to the same task in tabs in the same window, and open a new window when I’m shifting gears to work on another task.  And I often go back and forth between tasks as things come up or I need a break from the routine, or whatever, so eventually I wind up with a situation like right now where I have 12 windows open, and about half of them have 5 or 10 tabs in them.

Now I’m looking for a specific tab, and it was sort of a one-off thing, and I don’t remember which window it’s in.  And it’s not the frontmost tab in the window it’s in, so I can’t just look in the Window menu to find it.

Now I’m thinking it would be really cool if the Window menu had submenus for each window that had multiple tabs in it, which listed the tabs in that window.  Then I could just mouse over the windows in the Window menu and glance through the submenus looking for it.  Bug 405933 filed.

Outdated extensions are depressing sometimes

There’s a Thunderbird extension that I use that still hasn’t been updated since Thunderbird 1.5, that I have a hard time living without.  It’d be awesome if it got updated to work with Thunderbird 2.

It’s Sync On Arrival.  This one makes Thunderbird download all of the new messages in an IMAP folder as soon as it sees notification from the server that new messages have arrived.  There’s two main benefits this gives me. 1) Thunderbird feels a lot faster, because 90% of the time when I go to look at a message, it will have already downloaded it and can show me the cached version, instead of my having to wait for it to download the message from the server when I open it.  2) It’s essentially “always offline-ready”.  Since the messages are always being downloaded when they come in, I can put the laptop to sleep, wake it up somewhere else where I don’t have a network connection, and already have the messages there to look at, without having to have told Thunderbird that I wanted to switch to offline mode before putting the laptop to sleep.  Switching to offline mode then becomes just toggling the state and being done with it instead of having to wait for Thunderbird to download everything before traveling, or even better: having to look at an email at a random time when you weren’t expecting to be offline, and having it already be there instead of being out of luck.

Now the situation isn’t quite as dire as it sounds…  the extension still works with Thunderbird 2, it just doesn’t know that it does.  But having to use the Nightly Tester Tools to override the maxVersion on it every time there’s a Thunderbird update gets annoying.  There’s been plenty of comments in the discussion board for it on the addons site saying it works in 2.0 (and a few that say it doesn’t work, but I haven’t experienced any of the problems they’re reporting).  I’ve also emailed the author about it, and never got a response.  If I knew more about writing extensions and had time to play with it I’d love to fix it, but unfortunately I don’t.  It’d be really awesome if someone did though.

Alternatively, if anyone knows of another extension that does a similar job that also works on Thunderbird 2, let me know in the comments here.

I remember the original ExtendFirefox contest had a category for updates to existing extensions that hadn’t been updated for Firefox 2 yet.  Maybe Thunderbird needs to do something like that to encourage people to update their extensions.

You can donate money to Bugzilla now

Frank Hecker over at the Mozilla Foundation has just posted about the Foundation’s new directed giving program, which includes the ability to earmark money for the Bugzilla project when you donate now.  This has been a long time coming.  Every so often we’ve had people coming into IRC or asking on our mailing lists where they could donate money and we’ve never really had anything to point them at other than our T-shirts in the Mozilla Store, or the Foundation’s donation page, which didn’t provide any way to say you wanted the money to go to Bugzilla.  Well, now there’s somewhere to go where the money will actually get back to the Bugzilla project, on the Bugzilla project’s donation page.

Free SIP on Leopard exists after all!

So it’s been a few weeks since Mac OS X 10.5 (Leopard) came out.  One of the major things that immediately hit a lot of people was that every known third-party SIP client stopped working.  I work from home.  I have an extension number at work that rings on a Polycom phone in my home office, thanks to the magic of VoIP.  This same VoIP technology (namely SIP) has allowed me (up until I upgraded to Leopard) to run a “soft phone” program on my laptop to allow me to connect to the same phone system when I was out of my office.  With the help of a set of headphones, a laptop actually makes a halfway-decent phone.

The two free (as in beer, not freedom) products previously available that I knew of were SJPhone and X-Lite.  Both of these broke on Leopard.  SJPhone hasn’t been updated in years, and the material on their website makes it look like the Mac version was an afterthought anyway, so I don’t hold high hopes for them ever updating it.  X-Lite is a pared down version of a commercial product called eyeBeam.  eyeBeam just got updated for Leopard this last week.  An X-Lite update is expected “by the end of the year”.  The obvious reason for the delay is to encourage people who are frustrated enough to throw money at it to upgrade to eyeBeam instead of waiting. 🙂

There *are* two free products that have been updated for Leopard which do SIP to a generic PBX of your choosing. Those are SightSpeed and Gizmo Project.  Unfortunately, both of these require you to register with their service, and sign in on their service, and your generic-PBX-of-your-choosing account is a secondary login (if you don’t log into their service, your generic one won’t connect either).

The world is in really dire need right now of a good open source solution for SIP on the Mac.   If any of the above programs were open source, I would bet we would have had patches posted somewhere within days (if not hours) to make them work on Leopard.

UPDATE: I was going to post this hoping to get some discussion going and/or someone to point out something that works that I missed.   But before I could post it, I found one!  XMeeting not only works on Leopard (it apparently didn’t break — there hasn’t been a release since July), but it also supports DTMF (touch tones) during the call, which is the one thing that’s been missing from all the other free stuff I’ve tried so far.  Touch tones during a call are pretty important for things like entering the password for a conference call.  XMeeting supports video, too (and so does Mozilla’s phone system).