Google Music

Once a pon a time a number of years ago I went through a period of several years where I spent a fair amount of money on compact discs. Those days are long gone and have been for some time.

It’s probably just my age showing more than anything, but in recent years I lost interest in finding new music. I stopped listening to the radio the better part of ten years ago. When I did listen to music, it was to the old stuff.

To my surprise, I’ve become more interested in listening again. There’s a genre of music I paid scant attention to in the past called “electronic” that has caught my ear in the past couple of months. Mind you, not enough to start shelling out money for CD’s or even MP3’s, but these days that isn’t necessary. The “electronic” category of music is not for everyone. It is created with synthesizers and some of the sounds are very aggressive; some people would consider them noise. To my surprise, I’m really enjoying listening to this stuff — not enough to buy the music outright, but enough to pay to have access.

Google Music is currently offering a 30 day free trial. The price after the free trial is $7.99 per month if you lock it in by subscribing before the June 30 expiration date. The regular subscription price is $10 dollars per month.

I subscribed to the free offer, and so far I like it. I searched for the names of some of the electronic artists such as Hardwell and Armin van Buuren. I was easily able to figure out how to start the “radio” feature, which is initiated from a particular song. Once tracks started playing, I gave many of them a “thumbs up” if I really liked them and a few tracks a “thumbs down” if I didn’t like them. Google Music seems to do a great job of figuring out what I like over time.

Google Music claims to offer access to millions of tracks. A few experimental searches seems to indicate that they do offer a broad selection of both new and back catalog tracks.

You can download any track to your device by adding it to your library. I didn’t read the terms of service, but I’m sure once you cancel any downloaded music will go away once you stop paying the rent.

Renting access to music is actually a great idea if you want to casually listen, but don’t want to spend a fortune doing it.

Disney Closing Online Movie Service

Today Disney announced that they are closing their online web movie service on December 31. This service allowed consumers to watch any Disney or Pixar movie that were available.

I have to admit I have never used the service and I don’t know anyone who does. However after reading its limitation I am not surprise it failed. The videos couldn’t be downloaded. You could only watch them on a computer through a web browser. No watching them on an Xbox 360, PS3 or other internet connected devices. If Disney wanted to create a service that was guaranteed to fail they couldn’t have done a better job. In an era where consumers want to watch videos when and on what device they want, Disney created a platform that did the exact opposite. It is pretty clear why they did it they wanted to maintain control and prevent piracy. However in their attempt to maintain control, they drove consumer to other options such as Netflix or Amazon Prime.

If you purchased a Disney Combo Pack, you can transfer the Digital copy either to iTunes or Windows Media Player. Disney said they are working on a new service called Disney Movies Anywhere, that would allow consumers to watch Disney and Pixar movies anywhere across multiple devices. No launch date has been announced at this time. Even if Disney has a successful relaunch of their online video service. I wonder if a service that only provides videos from a single studio, even if that studio is Disney and Pixar can survive in an era that include services like Netflix.

Ring for Service with Wirelesswaiting

WirelessWaiting LogoIn my experience of eating out, it’s all too frequent for the waiting staff to disappear once the main course has been cleared away. By the time a waiter or waitress does eventually re-appear, any desire for dessert or coffee has gone and all I want is the bill. Not only has my evening been spoilt, the restaurant has lost money that I might otherwise have spent with them.

Wireless Call ButtonRecently, I was dining at Olio in Belfast and this restaurant seems to have found a solution to the problem with Wirelesswaiting. On each table, there was a small call button to alert staff that attention was required and I found the system worked well. Perhaps the best example was when ordering. Rather than the staff checking to see if we were ready to order and having to go away when we weren’t, once everyone was ready, we pressed the button and a waiter appeared within seconds. Also, when we needed some more drinks, again a quick press of the button and the waiter was back.

I contacted Wirelesswaiting for more information on the product and I was surprised at how inexpensive it really was. A 32-button receiver is £500 ($775) and each wireless button itself is £40 ($60). Obviously installation is straightforward, with only a power socket required for the receiver, as the wireless call buttons are battery powered. From their experience, customer spend typically increases by around 10% and Wirelesswaiting points out that this additional spend is usually on high margin items such as drinks, teas-and-coffees and desserts.

Obviously, this isn’t a perfect panacea as inattentive staff will always be inattentive staff and I suspect that I would be an even more annoyed customer if when I pressed the bell, no-one appeared. Overall though, it seemed to be a good idea that improved the dining experience. Apparently these systems are commonplace in Asia but this was the first time I’d seen the system in the UK so it will be interesting to see if it appears in more restaurants and diners. I can also imagine applications in other service areas, such spas, clubhouses, nursing homes and hospitals.

Cox Leaving Wireless Business on March 30, 2012

Cox Logo

Cox Logo

A confidential document got leaked out stating the Cox cable has decided to get out of the wireless business. Within 24 hours, Cox officially stated this was true – on March 30th, 2012, Cox will end their wireless service.

Back in 2008, Cox bought part of the 700 MHz spectrum to start Cox Wireless. Last year they launched the service, however, the plan didn’t pan out. Maybe part of it was because Stephen Bye left in March (he headed the wireless division).

“Cox is working to make this transition as seamless and easy as possible for our customers,” said Len Barlik, executive vice president of product development and management.  “We are proud of our employees’ dedication to delivering the excellent customer service that Cox is known for, and we will continue to keep our wireless customers’ satisfaction a top priority during this transition period.”

This affects customers in the  Hampton Roads, Roanoke and Northern Virginia; Orange County, San Diego and Santa Barbara, Calif.; Omaha, Nebraska; Oklahoma City and Tulsa, Okla.; and Rhode Island and Cox communities we serve in Connecticut and Cleveland, Ohio. This only affects wireless and 3G services. Cox will be giving a $150 credit to those who had the multi-service.

 

 

Bigstar.TV Streaming TV Service Spans Multiple Devices

Emerald Brooke of Bigstar.TV (www.bigstar.tv) presents the Bigstar.TV streaming service, which has a lot of independent films and older TV shows available to stream to many different devices including iPhone, iPad, Roku, Palm Pre and Android devices.

Interview by Jeffry Powers of Geekazine and Esby Larsen of MrNetCast.com

Please Support our CES 2011 Sponsors

Get your 14 day Free Trial of Audible Gold to start Listening to great Books!
Save 25% on 4GH Hosting 1yr Subscriptions Save 25% Promo Code CES2.

PopDrive Portable RAID Solution

PopDrive

If you have a USB external drive and not backing up your data from it, you are putting your data at risk. A USB hard drive could crash just as easily as a Notebook or Desktop hard drive – if not, faster.

PopDrive has another solution. Dual drives in a RAID 0 configuration. One drive collects and the other drive mirrors. That way if the first drive breaks down, the other one takes over.

PopDrive is a drive that can work with USB 2.0 or eSATA. It takes 2 – 2.5 inch drives and transfer up to 3GB/s (eSATA). The drives mirror when connected to the PC or Mac.

Perfect for home or office, this drive could be a great asset to hold data for clients. It’s size makes it perfect for those who have portable offices.

Interview by Jeffrey Powers: Geekazine

Get your 14 day Free Trial of Audible Gold to start Listening to great Books!
Save 25% on 4GH Hosting 1yr Subscriptions Save 25% Promo Code CES2.
Sponsor: The New Luxor, Las Vegas Deals Start @ $40.00 best rates guaranteed

Goodbye, Compuserve

After 30 years, Compuserve has decided to shut down. Not the whole thing, though, as Compuserve 2000 will still be around. Still, this marks the end of an era.

Compuserve started as a dial up service in 1969. That is long before the Internet and World Wide Web were even thought of. In the 80’s it changed hands and became the biggest information and Networking services in the world. They were the first to offer Internet access (in limited fashion) via dial up.
Here is the official email to customers:

Dear CompuServe Classic Member,
After many years of providing online services, we regret to inform you that as of June 30, 2009 the CompuServe Classic service will no longer operate as an Internet Service Provider. We hope this does not cause you an inconvenience.

Note that this shutdown only relates to the CompuServe Classic service. The CompuServe 2000 service will continue to operate as it does today.

We’re aware that this change may raise several questions for you.
Here’s what this will mean:

DO YOU NEED AN INTERNET SERVICE PROVIDER?

* If you need dial-up Internet access, there are two options you may wish
to consider.
Netscape Internet Service
AOL

ACCESS AND BILLING INFORMATION:

* The last day you will be able to access your CompuServe Classic account will be June 30, 2009. Your dial-up access will no longer be available after this date.
* We urge you to immediately forward, back up, move or otherwise copy to a location outside the CompuServe Classic system any stored data you wish to keep. This data will be inaccessible after the CompuServe Classic service is closed on June 30.
* The CompuServe Classic Ourworld “homepage” service
(http://ourworld.compuserve.com) will also close on June 30. After that date, you will be unable to access or retrieve any images, files, or other material stored in the Ourworld service. Any content you wish to retain must be saved to a new location before June 30.
* Your final monthly charge for the CompuServe Classic service will occur on your June billing date.

EMAIL AVAILABILITY:

* We are creating a new email system where you will be able to continue
using your existing CompuServe Classic email address. This new email
service will be available to you at no charge – but you will need to
provide your own Internet access.
* Some of the benefits of the new email system include:
+ Unlimited storage lets you keep as many messages as you want
+ Ability to receive large messages (up to 16MB per message)
+ Industry leading spam and virus protection to help eliminate
threats and hassles
+ Mail filters that allow you to store and organize mail
+ Open accessibility and compatibility with IMAP & POP3
+ Seamless integration w/ AIM for instant messaging
* The transition to the new mail system will occur in mid-May. More
information will be sent to you shortly concerning the migration
of your mailbox to the new CompuServe Classic mail system.

ADDITIONAL QUESTIONS?

Member Services phone support will remain available for the
CompuServe 2000 service, and can answer any billing questions
about CompuServe Classic.
Should you have questions about the termination of this service,
please contact CompuServe Member Services at:

Tech Support

We thank you for being a CompuServe Classic member over the past years.

Sincerely,
CompuServe Member Services

Computer repair shops: the 21st Century’s car mechanic

One of the worst feelings a person can have is seeking the repair of a product that they have a limited knowledge of how it works. How do they know what they are being told is true? How much does it really cost to fix? How will I know if they really replaced anything and it was just a loose screw causing the problem?
 
I talk to home and small business computer users daily in the course of my job and the one thing I continue to see is how much they distrust any IT person they come in contact with.
 
I can’t blame them as they may have seen the same stories on the news about the big box computer stores and national computer repair companies and what their technicians have been caught doing to users and their computers.
 
The more disturbing thing I’m see is how mom and pop repair stores are selling these people bootleg copies of software and loading up corporate networks with “Free for personal use” software.
 
I had a client ask me how much it would cost to replace Vista on the machine she had bought a few months back. I told her is would be the cost of a copy of XP plus the install time, she turns to me and says, “My old IT guy was able to upgrade our four of our other machines from Windows 2000 for $35 each.”  At that point I looked at the machines and each one of them had the same CD-Key and an activation hack loaded.
 
I believe independent shops are hurting themselves and others in the field by devaluing the cost of their services and in the end leaving the customer in a bad situation as well as perpetuating the myth that IT people are arrogant and will sell them what ever snake oil tonic they have to make a quick buck.
 
The main thing I think people should look for when seeking computer repair outside the home is personal recommendations. Talk to your friends and family and see who they have used in the past. Nothing beats the one-on-one interaction with a repairman as well as how they talk to their customers and explain the problems and possible solutions. Also if they say they need to replace a part, ask for the old one back even you have no plan to keep it.
Thankfully I have never been in the situation where I have had to rely on a total stranger to fix a computer of mine that contains family photos, banking information, personal emails and whatever else passes through my computer on a daily basis.
 
What experiences have you or your friends and family had with these shops and what are your tips on finding a quality shop?
 
As always I can be reached at jparie (at) gmail (dot) com.

Netflix Videos to your PC

I talked in my show last night about how Netflix is progressively rolling out a new service for customers to allow them to get videos delivered via the Internet. With those on the $17.99 subscription plan being able to download and watch up to 18 hours of video per month.

My biggest issue with Netflix was my own laziness in not getting my DVD’s requested and missing out on a week of service utilization. This new video service will be perfect for folks like me that get lazy.

If I knew I could get the live service immediately I would sign back up but it turns out Netflix is rolling out the service to customers over a period of time to make sure that they have bandwidth and server capacity to handle the load. Watch the demo at www.hackingnetflix.com

Personal Cellular Sites Possible Soon!

Last night I outlined my issue with changing desk and loosing the ability to use my Cellular service and EV-DO card because of no signal, and now comes word that Mobile Operators are thinking about allowing there customers help solve these very issue for them.

Not  many people know it, but you can buy equipment today off the shelf that will boost the mobile signal in your workplace. They start at about a $1000.00 for basic amplifiers and can get very expensive for solutions designed for moderate to big buildings.

I know that folks in my office bitch about this issue every day, and if the carriers would come in and boost the signal we would all be happy. Most people put up with no signal and few are willing to go to the extreme of buying an amplifier like I did. I was not happy to have to spend $250.00 to make my EV-DO work but it was a priority for me.

I actually went and purchased a long distance phone card for the first time in 10 years because making personal Long Distance would not make my boss happy.

GigaOm has some details on how mobile operators are thinking about dealing with these issues by apparently allowing customers to deploy mini cellular sites called femto cellular.

My mom lives in Michigan the service out their really sucks and this idea would go well their. I had put out a offer that if Sprint would like to put a tower up on our property we had plenty of acreage to support it, and I would give them a long lease and rent for free in exchange for free service. I realize towers are multi-million installations but you can’t blame a guy for trying to hook his mom up.

I am going to spin that a little bit in that I will extend the offer in a new way if a mobile company buys me one of these femto cellular units I will be happy to install and plug the thing in at work so that our mobile phones will work.

Do you have the same problem with no signal in the office? I am sure there are millions of us with these issues. [GigaOM]