My iTunes Music Server

Posted: April 26, 2011 in Uncategorized

My iTunes Server
Updated November 2009

Thanks for visiting. You may also be interested in my music and my blog.

I’m a sound-quality snob. I studied music production in college, own a pair of Genelec 1037 studio monitors and I work at a company that makes high-resolution hardware for audio production. It is safe to say the idea of listening to music encoded with lossy compression is repellent to me. A few years ago, it dawned on me that MP3 is not about sound quality, it is about convenience. At the time, I was dragging CDs back and forth from home to work every day, trying to figure out, in the morning, what I might be interested in listening to that afternoon. I decided to start leaving copies of my CDs, in MP3 form, on my work computer.

This was before iTunes and the iPod. I encoded with a freeware converter, and the quality was abysmal. There was horrible amounts of transient smear and aural fatigue would set in after an hour of listening. Some types of distortion, I don’t hear, but feel after prolonged exposure. iTunes came out later, with better MP3 encoding quality and direct support for portable solid-state MP3 players. This was perfect for me because I walk to work everyday.

The first iPods came out and, although loading my MP3 player every time I left work at night was getting old, I waited until I could get a cheap refurbished iPod. By this time, I had encoded a significant portion of my CD library. I upgraded once again when the 3G iPods came out – opting for a second-generation (2G) 20GB iPod – but still, this only represents a portion of the total encoded library I had available.

It literally took years to encode 40GB of my CDs. I did a little at a time, and eventually ended up with 700 of my favorite CDs which could play uninterrupted for nearly 30 days without repeating a song. Whenever I bought a CD, it went first into the computer to be encoded. CDs went home for ‘appointment listening’ where I could listen to the uncompressed CD on my fancy monitors.

Over time, I became more and more enchanted with how iTunes changed the way I consumed music. I found myself listening to a wider variety of music because it is all equally convenient. Shuffle play is the great democratizer.

No government in Canadian history has second-guessed its independent regulators, the CRTC first among them, like the Conservatives. They’ve already reversed two of the CRTC’s most significant decisions of the past five years – on the speed of deregulation of the telecom giants and on whether the new mobile entrant Globalive is Canadian-controlled.

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So it’s not too surprising that Industry Minister Tony Clement says he’ll review the CRTC’s decision to require independent Internet service providers to conform to usage-based Internet billing principles similar to what the network operators – in this case, Telus, Bell and Aliant – are charging their own customers. An election looms, after all, and the blogosphere is in a tizzy.

There’s nothing constitutionally or legally wrong with cabinet’s reviewing and reversing the decisions of independent regulators in accordance with statute, as in these cases. Quasi-judicial agencies must have some kind of accountability during their leadership’s secure appointments for terms of multiple years. Appointment by the Governor in Council for such a term confers neither omniscience nor infallibility and, rather too often, a regulator forgets that sorry truth. But the minister will have to ask himself whether this particular decision is politically convenient.

The aggrieved customers belong to third-party ISPs that purchase network capacity at regulated wholesale rates from the big telecom operators (which, in their turn, bitterly resent being obliged to put their infrastructure at the disposal of competitors). The independent ISP industry is thus entirely the creature of government policy, intended to create an artificial form of competition in an oligopolistic industry.

The trouble with regulation that creates “competition” by repealing the laws of property and the principles of economics in this way is that there is no analytical basis, no economic principle, on which to stop doing so. The industry thus created to keep the big network operators honest – and they do need to be kept honest – becomes itself a ward of the state, heavily incented to compete in the marketplace of government policy whenever it feels the need.

The network operators say the independents have been allowed to make service offerings that burden their networks without contributing to the capital investment required to maintain quality in the face of constantly accelerating usage. In short, the heavy users among the independents’ customers – less than 20 per cent of customers are responsible for more than 80 per cent of Internet traffic – aren’t paying their share of the fully loaded cost of Internet usage.

On the one hand, the big operators threaten to stop investing in their networks, but never do. On the other hand, it seems hard to argue – as those who reject the ruling in effect do – that a minority of customers shouldn’t pay fees that reflect their heavy usage. This is the kind of Gordian knot regulators are paid to cut, and a thankless task it is.

Having decided to review this decision, however, Mr. Clement is embarking on somewhat more than that. He’s beginning a review of independent telecom regulation as a functioning institution in the federal government.

In the first place, his own government undertook the most spectacular rebuff of a federal regulator in Canadian history when it told the CRTC in 2006 to be more attentive to market forces and to undertake less regulatory engineering of the marketplace. This decision meant much less regulatory handicapping of the telecom incumbents and more freedom for them to charge the rates and apply the terms and conditions they thought appropriate. This is precisely what the CRTC has done in the case of usage-based Internet pricing.

In the second place, the cumulative impact of a third reversal of a major decision by the same government will reduce the CRTC to a mere way station for disgruntled interests on the way to cabinet. The more the government reflexively reacts to public pressure by stepping in to placate the disappointed, the more it incents future stakeholders to induce such pressure, thus establishing a political dynamic that will feed on itself.

We established independent regulators because they’re supposed to have the expertise, the freedom from partisan pressures, the time and the longer-term perspective to make the painful and complex decisions required to keep industries that are otherwise liable to market failure operating in some semblance of the public interest. Does the cabinet really want to position itself as the effective arbiter for all the campaigns of rent-seeking and special pleading that an institution such as the CRTC has historically dealt with?

Richard French is CN-Tellier Professor at the University of Ottawa’s Graduate School of Public and International Affairs. He was vice-chairman of the CRTC from 2005 to 2007.

2nd guess please 2nd guess

Artists Sue Major Record Labels For Pirating Music & Get Back Millions

[ 3 ] January 11, 2011 | NewRockstarPhilosophy

Justice prevails! Well kinda…

You see, over the years record labels have made a habit of using artists’ songs without securing the appropriate rights. The idea was that because Major Labels are such a large companies with lots of cash, they would of course someday secure the rights to the songs, just not now, they’re too busy suing single mothers. Therefore what the labels would do is put the song on a “pending list”.

This pending list practice has gone on since the 1980s. As the years have gone by that list of unpaid pending rights holders, artists typically, has gotten larger and larger (300,000 unpaid tracks in Canada alone). So in 2008 a group of Canadian artists got together to stop this blatant copyright infringement.

The artisst sued Warner Music, Sony BMG Music, EMI Music and Universal Music for the illegal use of thousands of tracks (up to $6 billion in damages). Today a settlement was announced:

The four major record labels that comprise the Canadian Recording Industry Association – EMI Music Canada Inc., Sony Music Entertainment Canada Inc., Universal Music Canada Inc. and Warner Music Canada Co. – have agreed to pay $45 million to settle one of the largest copyright class action lawsuits in Canadian history.

As part of the settlement, the labels will pay approximately $45 million to settle the copyright infringement claims. It also establishes a new mechanism to help ensure that artists are paid more promptly.

The press release indicates that everyone is pleased with the settlement, though it is striking that it took a class action settlement to get the record labels to address their own ongoing copyright infringing practices in paying artists for the use of their works. (via Michael Geist)

While this settlement isn’t a home run, it’s still a huge victory for artists. In my eyes this is an admission of guilt, and another reason why Major Labels are outdated in what they do and how they do it.

Music Consciousness
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Category: Copyright, Money, Music Industry News

Sticking it to the umm..Man?

Canadian Google users have long been frustrated by having to wait until new features are implemented north of the border, and reading about cool online toys they can’t try.

But if Chris O’Neill has his way, Canadians could eventually get first crack at some of the web leader’s exciting new innovations.

The new head of Google Canada, Chris O'Neill, is seen in this undated handout photo. Canadian e-commerce is lagging and Google plans to hire more staff to strengthen its business brand in this country, says the new head of Google Canada. 

The head of Google Canada, Chris O’Neill, is seen in this undated handout photo. | THE CANADIAN PRESS

O’Neill, who took over as Google’s country director for Canada in September, said he hears all the time from Canadians who wish they could use features like Google Voice or Google TV, which are currently only available in the U.S.

“My vision for Canada is that we reverse that trend altogether, meaning, Canada becomes a hotbed for innovation and we actually test things here first,” O’Neill said in a recent interview.

In terms of population and a potential user base, Canada is a much smaller market than the U.S., so we’re often overlooked when products are first rolled out. And while Canada’s web users have proved they’re incredibly engaged and eager to embrace new technologies, the Canadian business world has been slower to adapt, O’Neill said.

“The consumer side continues to amaze me and on the business side we’re starting to see advertisers catch up … but not at the rate that consumers are changing at, so the gap continues to grow,” he said.

“My first observation was the opportunity in Canada is far bigger than I expected — and I expected it to be huge. I think there’s just an enormous amount of upside in terms of businesses catching up with consumers, and unleashing a little more creativity on the web.”

O’Neill said there’s a clear difference when comparing the U.S. and Canadian business markets and how technology innovation is happening.

“There’s a dearth of e-commerce sites here, or the depth of the quality of e-commerce is pretty shallow,” he said.

“We’re far behind here in Canada, so I’m underwhelmed by the actual experience.”

He said businesses can keep pace with tech savvy Canadians by helping them make the most of the technology they love to use.

“I’d like to see retailers think more in (new) ways, rather than fearing and trying to avoid the experiences and the behaviours that consumers aren’t just experimenting with, (but) are becoming mainstream,” O’Neill said.

He noted that giving shoppers access to free Wi-Fi would be a great selling feature to get consumers in stores, even if it does mean they could use it to check out the competition.

“Guess what, consumers are going to do it anyways, so you might as well engender that trust and deliver to the consumers what they expect.”

As for when Canadians might get to try Google Voice, O’Neill can’t say.

The free service has proven to be very popular in the U.S. It assigns you a special phone number and allows you to direct calls to your different lines — home, work or cell, or they can all ring for each call — depending on who’s calling or the time of day.

You also get your voicemails automatically transcribed and e-mailed to you, have access to cheap long distance, free text messaging, and different custom greetings depending on the caller.

But for now, Canadians can only read about it, not use it.

“The product managers are very aware there’s adequate demand” in Canada, O’Neill said.

“I get asked this question (about availability) all the time, I just don’t have an answer.”

Filed under: iPad

Canadian government explores iPad use for high-ranking officials

by Kelly Hodgkins (RSS feed) on Dec 21st 2010 at 1:30PM

iPad
Federal bureaucrats in Canada’s capital city may be ditching their paper and pens and picking up iPads to conduct their official government business. A report from the Niagara Falls Review details a new initiative that could place the tablets into the hands of Ottawa’s high-ranking officials.

A pilot program involving 20 treasury board workers has been in place since the fall, and early estimates suggest the iPad could save the government about CDN$700 per employee per year. Most of the savings would come from a reduction in paper and printing costs as documents (up to 30 pages of paper per day) would be disseminated digitally. Using iPads may also increase efficiency as government workers could use them for note-taking and document reading both within their office and from remote locations.

The current pilot program involves 20 employees outfitted with iPads at a cost of $23,500. Rolling out the tablet device to Ottawa’s 6,743 high-level officials would cost a whopping $7 million. While the initial price tag would be high, the reduction in paper and printing costs may offset this initial investment.

Canadian officials are not alone in considering the use of the iPad. An iPad was recently spotted in the U.S. House of Representatives and the House is mulling changes that would allow regular usage of the tablet device on the House floor.

[Via MacTech]

Filed under: Apple

Rumor: Apple bidding for Nortel patent assets

by Sam Abuelsamid (RSS feed) on Dec 12th 2010 at 4:45PM

The formerly high-flying Canadian telecommunications hardware provider Northern Telecom appears to be on its last legs, and Apple and Google are apparently among the vultures circling overhead ready to pick at the most valuable parts of the carcass. The two Silicon Valley companies are said to be among the bidders for Nortel’s huge patent portfolio.

Nortel is a company with a history dating back to the earliest days of the telephone, having been established in 1882 by the Bell Telephone Company of Canada to manufacture phones and network equipment north of the border. In the 1990s, Nortel had tremendous growth as it provided many of the bits and pieces that made the expansion of the internet and mobile phone networks possible. The burst of the bubble saw the rapid decline of Nortel until it finally filed for bankruptcy protection in mid-2009.

Nortel has a portfolio of over 4,000 patents estimated to be worth over $1 billion. With both Apple and Google involved in patent litigation relating to their respective mobile phone efforts, the Nortel patents are likely be of great value as a defensive measure. Research in Motion and Motorola are also expected to bid on the patents in order to protect their own positions. Intellectual property battles between big companies often end up in a stalemate if both sides can conjure up sufficient patents that their opponent might be infringing on. The result is usually some sort of cross-licensing agreement that makes the lawyers wealthier and lets the companies go on their merry way. The auction of the patents is expected to be wrapped up soon.

[via MacRumors]