Sunday, March 14, 2010

Record Companies. or Why Pretending Technology Has Not Changed Since 1990 is Bad for Profits. Part 1


Dear Record Companies,

Fuck You.

Now to explain myself. It seems like the popular thing these days to hate record companies.

They are labeled as some kind of corporate monster, sucking money away from loyal music fans.

Which I support. However, when they complain about declining sales (and especially sharp declines in the physical CD market), I have to start wondering if they are making the best business decisions.

Music is one of my passions in life, and a direct result of that is that I purchase a large amount

of music. In fact, I likely spend more of my discretionary

income on music than anything else. I am also a strong supporter of capitalism.

My complaining starts when the record company’s does.

They complain about the

decline in sales and the online music piracy “epidemic”. Yet they create a situation where the best course of action,

for those truly interested in listening to music, is to download music in a non-legal capacity.

There are numerous situations where record company’s poor

decision making loses them customers to online activities, and several were brought to my attention in the past few weeks.

On Tuesday, March 9, the 3rd studio album from the Gorillaz, Plastic Beach, was released.

That is, it was released in the United States, the country with the largest population in

the developed world. Taken from Wikipedia, here is a chart that displays the release dates worldwide.

What the chart basically says is that the record companies still think it is 1985, and Al Gore has yet to invent the interwebs. They completely fail to realize that people in Japan can now transfer digital files the size of an album to someone in the USA in less than a minute.

Let’s assume I am a huge Gorillaz fan(which I am), and would like to listen to their new album as soon as possible. I can illegally download it on March 3rd, or wait almost a week until I can buy it on March 9th. March 3rd rolls around, what will most people do? Get it now for free or wait a week and pay? Staggering releases around the world makes almost no sense with the advent of file-sharing.

This mentioning of the rest of the world brings me to my next point, differing versions around the world. Anyone familiar with the music industry knows that countries such as Japan and Australia get “special bonus tracks” while the rest of the world is left wondering WTF. When I can now simply download an album with a click, what is my motivation to pay money for what is normally an inferior product?

Speaking of inferior products, let me share my thoughts on iTunes for a second.

I. Fucking. Hate. iTunes.

First of all, it has a pricing model that benefits no one but Apple and their lazy, mindless followers. Until recently, it cost 99 cents for every song, no matter if it was a chart topper or a bargain bin dust collector. And despite this, because it has a monopoly on legal online music distribution, it can demand exclusive tracks or videos. This hurts the record companies because the products with the largest margins, physical CDs, become less desirable. If anything, the physical CDs should have exclusive content to entice customers into the more expensive and profitable product.

How can you complain about declining sales when you charge more for an inferior product?

To be continued, as it is currently 4am.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Hindsight


Found this online a while back, thought everyone would enjoy it.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Windows 7 Defender


Today's top story on CNN Money is entitled “Windows 7 Complaints Begin”. As a person who now has a Windows 7 Machine, I have to say I have about 0 complaints. But I wanted to look at what the article lists and go through the problems one by one.

It comes right out and says most problems were with upgrading, and lets face it, upgrading sucks. But you know what else sucks? Using a computer that is 5 or more years old. It is just about 2010, and the people experiencing problems upgrading are using an operating system that was released in 2001. Vista was released in 2006 people. Come on. Get with it. That being said, here are the problems:

  1. One common gripe, experienced by 9% of installers, is that the half-hour to an hour-long upgrade process gets to the "62% completed" point and then freezes.” OK, again, you should have upgraded more recently than 5 years ago. Not an issue migrating from Vista.

  2. Most common among those complaints was that basic "applet" programs, like Mail, Movie Maker and Photo Gallery, were missing. That's because Windows 7 deletes those programs and makes users download them from the Windows Live Essential Web site. IYogi said 26% of their customers were confused about that extra step.” Here is a new problem. Features removed? Why would a company do this? Could it be that governments (and by extention, the voters), sued Microsoft before for similar program bundling? No, it must be to stick it to potential customers. Also, how hard is it, on a scale of 1 to 10, to go to windows.com and click one link to download all of these programs? I'd say about a .5

  3. Others had problems getting their computers to work properly: Eight percent said their DVD drives couldn't be found and 2% couldn't sync their iPhones with Windows 7.” I forget that most users have the computer skills of a squirrel, but the new assistant in control panel helps tremendously for people who don't know the difference between Internet Explorer and Outlook. As for syncing iPhones, I believe that is Apple's job. Hear that Cupertino? Oh, your Windows support has always been a lacking, half assed attempt to port Mac programs. That's right, I remember now.

  4. One in seven users also complained that the sleek new "Aero" theme doesn't work.” Really? Have you bought a computer in the last 5 years? Because if you have, it works. What other electronics do you have that are more than 5 years old? Hows that 2nd gen iPod working out for you?

  5. Other common complaints included an inability to view file extensions, too many "mini-dumps" (memory images saved on the computer when it crashes), problems with the "Aero snap" feature, changes to custom icons and problems with the new taskbar.” File extentions are in settings. If you can't figure out how to view them you have no business using them. Mini-dumps, I feel like a broken record, but get a new computer. Apple's new OS X.6 only works on new computer for this reason. Microsoft is giving you a chance to be compatible, don't spit in their face. Aero snap is tied in with the rest of Aero. You need a computer that can run it. And the new taskbar is amazing. Some 3rd party applications don't support its features though. That is not a problem with windows. That is a problem with your program (iTunes I am looking at you).

And that about sums up the article. Moral of the story: No shit your old computer doesn't work well. Next week I discuss the growing number of complaints that Nintendo 64's still lack DVD support and motion controls.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Record Companies Leading By Example


So apparently college students and grandparents are not the only ones ignoring copyright laws to get the music they want. A recent article on describes the hypocrisy of the records labels, who are being sued for using tracks they do not own the copyrights on.

They have apparently admitted to violations totaling over 50 Million dollars (by the way this is not 50 Million music copyright infringing dollars, it is 50 million real dollars.

To convert to copyright dollars, I’m going to average it at 2000:1, so the price the average college student would be charged by the RIAA for the same amount of music theft would be 100,000,000,000

Dollars (100 billion dollars). Maybe GM could get in on that.

Artists are starting to stand up for themselves. As the article reported, “Just a few months ago Latin America’s biggest artist, Alejandro Fernández, sent the police to a Sony Music office to confiscate over 6,000 CDs that the label refused to return, and this is just the tip of the iceberg.

There is a lot of talk of how the record companies are hurting, but when they pull the same tricks they say are killing their companies, I have little to no sympathy for them.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Thursday, November 19, 2009

The Best Blue Hue

Have you ever put on a blue shirt, only to be disappointed by the imperfection of the hue of the blue? Well, fret no more. Scientists at the Oregon State University have found a solution to the age old question of the “perfect blue”. As Lab Spaces explains, “An accidental discovery in a laboratory at Oregon State University has apparently solved a quest that over thousands of years has absorbed the energies of ancient Egyptians, the Han dynasty in China, Mayan cultures and more – the creation of a near-perfect blue pigment."

If you are like me, you are rejoicing at the fact that this mighty quest has been completed, and… wait, what was this ancient task, finding the perfect blue? I may be in the minority, but I am wearing a blue shirt at the moment, and find I have little quarrel with the its blue. I find it odd that a more perfect blue is the focus of scientists’ attention. When I think of the energy needs of today and how science has yet to provide a viable solution to the quickly diminishing natural sources of energy, I wonder how finding a better blue is a victory. Sure, this new blue is great, but is it cause for celebration among scientists who could otherwise be finding new sources of energy? Probably not.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Jail, The New Detention

There's nothing like a good old-fashioned food fight. Although apparently in Chicago (dare I take the Fox News route and mention it is Obama's home town and then try to imply/explicitly state some kind of causal relationship?), food fights are akin to a murder rampage or a drunk driving charge, as they all land you in the same place: jail. Did I mention these cuisine warriors were children in elementary school? Come on Chicago. I know you lost the Olympics, but don't take out your frustration on the kids. As the New York Times article explains, “'My children have to appear in court,' Erica Russell, the mother of two eighth-grade girls who spent eight hours in jail, said Tuesday. 'They were handcuffed, slammed in a wagon, had their mug shots taken and treated like real criminals.'”

Somehow this seems ridiculous. Children having a food fight should have recess taken away, not be carted off to the police station. The notion that charges are being filed are absurd, but now many students have to go to court to keep a misdemeanor off of their records.

This says it all, “By the end of the day, 25 of the students, ages 11 to 15, had been rounded up, arrested, taken from school and put in jail. A spokesman for the Chicago police said the charges were reckless conduct, a misdemeanor.” Taken from school to jail. Fantastic message, city of Chicago. Great lesson you're teaching the kids. And apparently it's the only one, because you pulled them out of school.

Friday, November 6, 2009

The Wave of the Future? or You Can't Stop the Signal

For all of this Blog's rants on the technological godsend/evil internet juggernaut that is Google, it is hard to believe that the subject of Google Wave has yet to feature prominently. Wave is Google's “revolutionary” new communication/collaborative workspace platform that is sloooooooowly being rolled out to people who signed up as early as May. While technophiles the world wide web over have been hailing it as a breakthrough, one has to wonder, is Wave really the next Gmail or Google Search?

A simple explanation of what Wave does is efficiently allow people to collaborate. Imagine being able to work on a project with other people, in different locations, and having the ability to instantly share text, pictures, sounds, and files. (And keep imagining, because the chance of you actually getting a Wave invite soon are in the mid to high 'absolutely nots'.) While it is revolutionary in a way, one of the first things I though (along with about a baker's dozen other people) is “wow, this sounds a whole lot like Microsoft Groove, just for free.” It's funny how our first intuitions are usually correct. Now, you're probably saying to yourself, “oh, ya...Microsoft Groove...I've heard of that..” Microsoft Groove is very similar to Google Wave, the main difference being Groove is PC based and Wave is Cloud based. Functionally, they are nearly identical, with the edge going to Groove for its seamless Microsoft Office integration.

Seven years ago, a similar analogy could have been made between Gmail and the number of private internet email systems that utilized Outlook. Outlook was and is the superior mail client, but who doesn't have a Gmail account? It's free why not sign up? That is the attitude that has allowed Gmail to become the largest webmail provider in the world. Wave has this factor going for it. Strike that. Wave needs this factor to be the revolution people have come to expect it to be. You see, Wave is currently in a private (or invite only) beta. Which has basically created a situation like this.

Wave's biggest hurdle is not Groove, the application you've never heard of. It is the closed beta that for some reason Google has imposed upon it. I remember the Gmail beta, where invites were about as rare as water on a boat. Wave is at the other end of the spectrum. Every time Google releases a new set of invites, Wave is a trending topic on twitter, and message boards are abuzz with people begging for invites. Some of the more desperate are even turning to eBay, where invites are now being sold.

If Google really wants Wave to be the wave of the future, they need to saturate the market, make the ability to use Wave a commodity that is able to be bought and sold.


It should also be noted that Google Wave purportedly gets its name from the show Firefly, with a Wave being any kind of transmission from one ship to another. And Firefly was awesome.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

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