July 10th, 2006

color cycle (slow)

Knowing Their Audience

Most of the music I listen to on my computer comes from two sources: emusic.com or Yahoo LAUNCHCAST Radio. There are, of course, the few tracks from CDs I own or remix.overclocked.org, but not many. I decided that $36 for a year of high bitrate and no advertisements was a reasonable price, so I've now got Launch going at 128 KBPS rather than 64 KBPS at the expense of about as much as a video game costs. Obviously, I can't save my Launch tracks; if I wanted to do that, I could just pay Yahoo twice as much, or four times as much if I wanted to actually use those tracks on my MP3 player. But from being given 25 free tracks from music.msn.com when Microsoft found themselves with a pile of "free download" cards to burn through that were expiring that evening, I've had my first taste of DRM backfire, and I don't like it one bit.

Friday morning, before work, I got a new computer. I think I'd mentioned this before, but I don't remember if I actually made a post about it. It's a shiny new Tablet PC that's nearly as fast as my desktop computer (it should be slightly faster, but multithreading isn't used perfectly yet so dual-core isn't quite a speed double, and I didn't spend the extra couple hundred dollars on a higher-speed hard drive), and several times faster than the laptop computer that had been giving me pseudo-erroneous warnings about its impending failure. (I saw the diagnostics myself, then learned the right way to interpret them; one error coming out of suspend mode had confused the diagnostics and caused them to panic until that data point rotated out of its recent memory. So my files weren't in so much danger, but the computer was still falling apart at the seams in a lot of other ways.)

So I've been trying to get my MSN music from the other computer to this one, with no luck. It's refusing to install the Microsoft DRM Client! The download's just fizzling when they try; the prompt came up once, then... didn't, on the retry. I don't know if it's website trouble or this computer, but it's not really getting me all enthusiastic about DRM-encrusted music. Three songs I like, none of which I can listen to until this mess gets sorted out? At least I didn't spend real money on it. And I should count it as a blessing in disguise that I got bitten sooner rather than later- I admit I was tempted to actually use MSN Music or maybe Yahoo Ultimate To Go (the version that lets me download music for my MP3 player, as long as I keep the subscription up to date- it does of course all refuse to play when the subscription lapses) for a while, but then this, happened, and I was immediately reminded of how tenuous a thing it is to "own" something entangled with Digital Rights Management.

So I think I'll stay away from the proprietary music stores, and keep using online radio and EMusic. LAUNCHcast has a lot of music that eMusic also carries, so it's a pretty good combination- and by listening to random-ass stations and telling it to go more by inference than by my direct music ratings, I can discover some really neat music I wouldn't have picked out for myself to listen to the thirty-second snippets of at eMusic.

I guess LAUNCHcast knows their audience, though. I find it amusing how of all their pre-selected stations (rather than the custom-built-from-ratings personal stations, which is my usual mode but I do use the presets to give it more ratings to work with), my favorite for when I'm in the mood for electronic music (which is usually) is the "Gay Club Mix". I guess they do know their target audience!

Okay, I should probably shut up and go to work now. I was planning to take the 8:45 shuttle rather than the 9:30 shuttle, but an unsuccessful attempt to eat breakfast made me run out of time. I could have gone with no breakfast or tea, but I know from experience that such an option does not lead to a productive or pleasant day. But I do think I like not being so rushed in the morning, although I'd have preferred to get to work a little sooner than the 9:30 shuttle offers.
  • Current Music
    Madonna- Sorry