CMXtraneous: On the Personal Side

Right on the edge of useful

Those Wacky Canadians

Posted Monday, August 30, 2004 8:55:02 PM by Kim

Kim

Maybe this is a publicity stunt to draw a particularly desirable group to the fair city of Winnipeg, but you have to wonder if there will be any unintended consequences when you start handing out free crack pipe kits.

I think it's really considerate of them to give out chewing gum and lip balm along with the actual pipe. I don't know about you, but if I ever decide to develop a life-threatening drug addiction I'll be sure to head to Canada!

Category tags: On the Personal Side

I Really Hate Outlook

Posted Friday, August 27, 2004 5:17:44 PM by Kim

Kim

Alright, who's the Iron Curtain refugee who designed this piece of work? Man oh man. I was kvetching about Dreamweaver and Fireworks earlier this week, but for truly awful user interfaces in a major software product the award has got to go to Outlook.

I have to use Outlook in my new job, and that's not going to change anytime soon. At an enterprise level there's really no competition. So I've been plunging into the depths of Outlook attempting to kick out the cobwebs in my brain and make myself use it. And you know, I don't think it's me. I've used Apple's Mail program, in addition to Entourage, Outlook Express, Eudora, Netscape, Mozilla, and Thunderbird at one time or the other. No problem.

But Outlook. All I can say is "Oh my." Somebody must have hidden the usability manuals when that thing was put together. And removed all the letter "I's" from their keyboards just in case someone wanted to make a note about how intuitive the program should be.

So what's got me all riled up? Simple. I need a personal file to archive the many many many many e-mails that I get. OK, got it. In there I have an exact duplicate of everything in my "regular" folder. Including my calendar which I have been posting to when I have appointments out of the office--as I'm required to do. But hey, guess what? I was posting to the wrong one, the "personal" folder instad of the regular "Outlook" folder. And when I came back to the office this afternoon our secretary gave me The Look and let me know that I needed to get my head out of...well, you know the rest. She needs to see where I am and she can't do that when the appointment is in my personal folder.

So, my bad and all that, but what a stupid construct for program design. Why give me duplicates of everything? How about asking first huh? And why put the personal folder in the same level of the document tree as the regular one? Shhesh!

And that's just the tip of the iceberg. It seems that every blessed thing I want to do is found in some obscure path through multiple clicks and arcane tabs into an area of the interface that I'll never remember how to get back to. I bet the Outlook engineers were really good at memory games when they were kids.

But me, I'm sure having trouble getting my head around that puppy. Maybe when the magic Longhorn version is released Outlook will become simpler and easier to manage. I'm not holding my breath.

Category tags: On the Personal Side

Oh, the pain

Posted Thursday, August 26, 2004 7:49:47 PM by Big John

Big John

My boss's wife from my very-part-time job has a problem with her XP 'puter. First it wouldn't print, so I cleared all the "phantom" printers out of the way, and it then worked fine. I wonder who told it there were six printers installed?

Then I was informed that it was acting funny. Found that it hung shortly after IE started up and even prevented cntrl+alt+del from working. Used Adaware on it, and the problem went away. Decided to go the extra mile and upgrade the sucker. Bad mistake. After "upgrade", the thing can't complete the dialup process, getting cutoff during the final moments of connection.

The ISP (after a looooong hold) said it was the SP2 from you-know-who that was at fault. I tried to remove the security upgrades, but XP insists on rebooting after nearly every removal, and there were about 30. It was excruciating. So, I went ahead and reloaded the OS itself.

The dialup problem persists.

The harpy commenced to become unpleasant, suggesting that I "claimed to be a computer expert", and that she "didn't ask for this".

Meanwhile I'm losing money on the deal, letting my high-paying clients languish while I clench my teeth and bite back well deserved character critiques. Have I mentioned that IHMSWAP?

Category tags: On the Personal Side

Quark printing woe

Posted Friday, August 20, 2004 8:43:11 AM by Zoe Gillenwater

Zoe Gillenwater

I've just spent several hours trying to get a Quark document to print, and finally ran into the ridiculously easy, but no less puzzling, solution. So I'm sharing my saga in the hopes that I can spare someone else the pain.

Yesterday I tried to print a 60 page document from Quark 5 (the latest version we have here at my office). All I got in a garbled copy of the first page, then a printed error message. I'd seen this type of error before, and it's always been caused by missing images. So I went into Utilities > Usage and sure enough, some of my images were missing. I pointed Quark to the correct images, and it asked if I wanted to update all of the missing images from that folder. I told it yes, and waited. And waited. Finally I checked the task manager and saw that it had frozen. So I ended the program, then started Quark back up and tried again. And again. It crashed every time.

The only way I finally got all the images updated was to pull the document and the image folder off the server, disconnect from the server so Quark couldn't see it, and tell Quark to use the images on my C drive.  This worked fine, and all the images were listed as OK in the usage dialog.

Alright, I was finally ready to print. I went to print the document from my C drive, but got the same error! Baffled, I tried printing to a different printer. Same results.

That was when I started googling. I found a Quark tech note about printing problems and how to troubleshoot. One of its suggestions was to try disabling the printing of half of the images and see if it prints. If it does, then your problem image (or images) are in the half you disabled. I tried this, but came to the conclusion that all of my images must be messed up, which just didn't seem right.

I suddenly had an idea. I was printing a document with color (CMYK) images to black and white printers. That couldn't be the problem...could it?

I printed to a color printer. It worked. I printed to another color printer. It worked.

Amazing but true: my Quark won't print color documents to a black and white printer. Other programs will (Word, Fireworks, etc.) but not Quark.

Perhaps this is something everyone knows, and I'm completely dense. But hopefully this strange discovery will help someone else as well! I'm just happy this document is finally printed.

Category tags: On the Personal Side

Software doesn't steal music, PEOPLE steal music

Posted Friday, August 20, 2004 6:20:37 AM by Ray

Ray

In a move that should cause gun control advocates to run screaming in horror, the 9th U.S. circuit court of appeals has ruled that the makers of file-sharing programs (specifically Grokster and StreamCast) are not legally liable for the songs, movies and other copyrighted works swapped online by their users. The difference between these services and Napster, which was found liable, is that the newer breed do not maintain any central listing that points users toward available copyrighted material.

On the one hand, this is great because peer-to-peer technology really does have some interesting potential aside from its most common use, which is creating federal fugitives out of 13 year old Clay Aiken fans. An opposite ruling could stifle the development of technologies that could be used nefariously, even if that was not their primary purpose.

But there's the thing... It remains pretty obvious to even the most uninterested casual observer that sharing copyrighted works for free is the primary purpose of these services as they exist today. But the court made use of the Betamax defense (Sony's original, better quality, but ultimately doomed VCR format) and clarified that it is only necessary to show that the product has the capability to perform some non-illegal task without taking into consideration the percentage of the time it is used for non-illegal purposes.

Interesting, considering we target gun manufacturers, refuse to consider medical use of drugs like marijuana, and blame rock and roll when our kids shoot up a cafeteria.

Category tags: On the Personal Side

iDon'tHaveToBuyItFromYou

Posted Tuesday, August 17, 2004 12:29:55 PM by Ray

Ray

Last month, RealNetworks announced that they had figured out how to allow songs downloaded from their online music service to play on Apple's iPod player while maintaining the copyright protection mechanisms that make these services viable. And today, they slashed the price of their entire library to .49 a song, with albums available for as little as $4.99.

First, let me say that today is the first day that I have ever purchased music online. I have a Rhapsody account (which I love) that allows me to listen to whatever I want while I work. But everything on my Karma is ripped directly from the CD in FLAC format. There is a HUGE difference in the quality compared to any lossy compression format. And when you compound the expected quality loss of the compression with the poor output of most headset players AND a crappy pair of headphones, it is almost not worth listening to anymore.

And ALL downloaded music is compressed. Whether as an MP3, or some proprietary format designed with rights management and file optimization in mind. Which is why I refuse to spend only marginally less for a downloaded copy than I can pay for the CD. The price differential does not make up for the difference in quality.

But for .49 a song and less than 5 bucks an album, there are some things that I would not mind having. I am not as much of a sonic snob as it probably sounds like. And there are things that I would like to listen to at the gym (which is what I call getting in and out of my lazy boy) or on a walk (to the fridge) that don't require the same level of detail (for any number of reasons). Finally, if only for a limited time, the actual difference in the product is reflected in the price.

So I started downloading a few things and started telling my friends about the deal. Almost to a person, their response was, "How long till Apple sues them over that?".

I don't know how long it will take. I know that Apple has already been griping about Real's practices and this may push them over the edge. You see, the iPOD can only play MP3s (ptui) and Apple's proprietary file format. That is what keeps iPOD owners dialed into iTunes. It is the only option they have. No WMA, OGG, FLAC, WAV... just what Apple wants them to have (in painfully ironic contrast to the 1984 Big Brother ad that launched the Mac in the first place). Until now...

Now iPOD owners have a choice... and a terrifically less expensive choice, at least for the time being. But, instead of Apple looking at this as a reason for more people to buy iPODs (one of the reasons I never would is this very limitation) they are likely to whine about how unfair it is that Real cracked into their private little world. And they will repeat the same mistakes that have kept them from dominating the PC industry in the first place.

And the worst part is, some Apple users are so brainwashed that they will likely WANT and EXPECT Apple to take action. Out of some twisted, economically agnostic loyalty to the white box with the feather touch dials, they will hope that Apple is successful at shouting down the mean giant so that their's can return to the exclusive, protected realm of those who have the extra money to spend on a perceived quality built on form before function.

So we will see how long it takes Steve Jobs to get his invisirim glasses all fogged up and start threatening to protect his company from success no matter what it costs. For the time being, I have some songs to download.

Category tags: On the Personal Side

Stick to the Script

Posted Monday, August 16, 2004 1:12:07 PM by Ray

Ray

If there is anything that local news reporters should NOT do, it is ad-lib. But what else can you expect when they try to provide hours and hours and hours and hours of continuous coverage during a hurricane. They can only say "Here it comes" and "saffer-simpson scale" so many times. So they start tripping over themselves trying to fill the time.

Here are a few of the best I heard over the weekend.

Anyone who tries to ride out this storm in a sailboat is facing a serious threat of loss of life or death.

I tell you Jim, it is as dark as night out here. (said at 11:00 pm)

It looks like this is going to be one of the most worstest storms we have seen in a long time.

You get so used to having electricity, you don't miss it until it is gone.

 

Category tags: On the Personal Side

Aftermath

Posted Monday, August 16, 2004 1:04:17 PM by Ray

Ray

Hurricane Charley blew through Orlando at about 9:00 Friday night. It was likely the roughest storm the area has seen to date with over 3 billion dollars in damage (just in our area).

At my house, we started getting squalls of rain and winds about 8:00. They only lasted about 10 minutes each and were here and gone in an instant. In between, it was dead still.

Around 9:00, the sky opened up and we started getting stronger and stronger winds. The rain was horizontal, and many of the trees were as well. At one point, my concrete block house shook for about 1 minute and I heard the characteristic freight train sound. About 2 blocks over, I found evidence that a tornado had hopped over my house and decimated my neighbor's.

There are huge trees uprooted everywhere. One we saw took almost the entire yard with it and the whole house is blocked by a huge vertical chunk of St. Augustine.

I had electricity back over the weekend, and just got phones back about 30 minutes ago. Some people here at the office do not yet have power, phones, or water and may not for several more days. This is the happiest I have seen them to be at work in a while, because the air conditioning works here.

But we are all safe. I do not personally know anyone who was injured, and that is amazing in itself.

Thank you for all of your thoughts. Please keep in mind all of the people (especially down south) who are nowhere near over this.

Ray

Category tags: On the Personal Side

Going up North, eh . .

Posted Saturday, August 14, 2004 9:48:27 PM by Jim Babbage

Jim Babbage

Just a quick post. Tomorrow, I'm driving up north for the week with my wife and another couple who are good friends of ours.I am looking forward to recharging batteries - the internal kind. College kicks into gear just after Labour Day, so this is my last chance for some R&R before I begin the teaching gig again.

I'm looking forward to teaching. The first week is one that always fills me with a nervous excitement - and I've been teaching since 1990. I think feeling this way is a good sign; it means I haven't lost my interest in teaching, it means I *know* each day will be different. Even though the subject matter has not changed, the people have. New students, new characters, new methods of helping them get the message, get the point, and the wonder I experience when I actually *see* things click for a student.

Teaching, photography, web design . . . I LOVE what I do. And I not only get to do it all the time, it also keeps me fed and clothed (BTW, have you seen my latest shirt?) and sheltered. It can't get better than that.

Have a great week everyone. I'm planning on taking loads of photos, and hope to come back with a tutorial or two burning away in this ol' brain of mine.

That's assuming the copious amount of wine I shall imbibe don't blur my thought processes too much. Of course, there's no such thing as too much wine . . heh heh . . . :-)

Cheers!

Category tags: On the Personal Side

It Is That Time Of Year Again...

Posted Saturday, August 14, 2004 6:29:13 AM by jojo

jojo

Well today it all starts again! It is just like it used to be at Christmas when I was a kid, except better :)

Today is the first day of the new Premiership campaign, football is back - with a proper ball :). I'd like to hear from any of you with an opinion, what are your thoughts for the coming season.

  • Who do you support?
  • Which team do you really dislike?
  • What are your hopes and dreams for this season?

Tomorrow I'm on holiday, I'll see you all when I get back. By then a few games will have been played, things will be taking shape and opinions should be many!

Sun, sea and sangria, here I come....

Category tags: On the Personal Side

Shout Out to Ray West

Posted Saturday, August 14, 2004 6:14:24 AM by Kim

Kim

Our "boss" here at Community MX (and I use the term very loosely) is Ray West, who lives in Orlando. Last night Hurricane Charley ripped through Orlando and left lots of damage, hopefully less where Ray lives than what happened along the coast.

At the very least I know Ray is without power this morning. Our internal newsgroup server is off-line and Ray hasn't shown up in Messenger yet. We're hoping to have good news from Ray soon but I just wanted to send him my best wishes and prayers and give you a place to do so as well.

Category tags: On the Personal Side

Waking up to a Hurricane

Posted Saturday, August 14, 2004 5:31:52 AM by Kim

Kim

The sun is just coming up here in West Palm Beach--about 100 miles due east of Sanibel and Captiva Islands. Two places that you're about to hear an awful lot about.

As the TV trucks roll in this morning the absolute devastation that happened across the state last night will start becoming real to all of us. There will be destruction on the scale of Hugo and Andrew, but with an even higher cost as tens of millions of people have been affected by this storm.

What really strikes me though is how poorly we were informed of what was likely to be the result of this storm. We were barely affected by Charley, but we all watched intently yesterday as the killer storm slid into Charlotte Harbor--directly over two islands that were about to go under the ocean. Winds at 145 miles an hour. Winds strong enough to blow roofs off and send people into their bathrooms to huddle in fear. Roads that would become impassable. Major public buildings like fire stations and hospitals destroyed. Possibly huge numbers of people killed if they didn't evacuate.

Those stories have yet to be told, mostly because the media was focused on the inanities of formulaic reporting. Our state experts knew when they predicted $14 billion in damages from the storm. (It will be much much higher.) The scientists at the Hurricane Center knew as they talked about the storm being a nightmare scenario. You can bet that the insurance companies knew. Heck, even I knew that this was going to be an awfully destructive storm

But no one in the local television market talked about this. No one on the Weather Channel. The major news outlets and networks treated it as just another story.

In a few minutes the TV trucks and helicopters will begin transmitting the story into our homes. The fancy graphics and impressive tag line and matching musical accompaniment will be prepared. And after the fact we'll see what has happened to my neighbors across the state and begin hearing their stories.

Now it will become real.

Category tags: On the Personal Side

Things that make you go hmm....

Posted Friday, August 13, 2004 11:35:34 AM by Laurie

Laurie

I got this list in an email and while I normally don't pass these things along, this one tickled my funny bone. And it's Friday, so what the heck. :-)

  1. Does a clean house indicate that there is a broken computer in it?
  2. Why is it that no matter what color of bubble bath you use the bubbles are always white?
  3. Is there ever a day that mattresses are not on sale?
  4. Why do people constantly return to the refrigerator with hopes that something new to eat will have materialized?
  5. On electric toasters, why do they engrave the message "one slice"? How many pieces of bread do they think people are really gonna try to stuff in that slot?
  6. Why do people keep running over a string a dozen times with their vacuum cleaner, then reach down, pick it up, examine it, then put it down to give the vacuum one more chance?
  7. Why is it that no plastic garbage bag will open from the end you first try?
  8. How do those dead bugs get into those closed light fixtures?
  9. Considering all the lint you get in your dryer, if you kept drying your clothes would they eventually just disappear?
  10. When we are in the supermarket and someone rams our ankle with a shopping cart than apologizes for doing so, why do we say, "It's all right?" Well, it isn't all right so why don't we say, "That hurt, you stupid idiot?"
  11. Why is it that whenever you attempt to catch something that's falling off the table you always manage to knock something else over?
  12. Is it true that the only difference between a yard sale and a trash pickup is how close to the road the stuff is placed?
  13. In winter why do we try to keep the house as warm as it was in summer when we complained about the heat?
  14. How come we never hear father-in-law jokes?
  15. If at first you don't succeed, shouldn't you try doing it like your wife told you to do it?
  16. The statistics on sanity are that one out of every four Americans is suffering from sort of mental illness. Think of your three best friends, if they're okay, then it's you.

Have a great weekend folks!

Category tags: On the Personal Side

Not a lot of options...

Posted Friday, August 13, 2004 7:57:41 AM by Ray

Ray

They said on the news this morning that anyone who chooses to ride out this storm on a sailboat faces serious threat of loss of life or death.

Sounds about right...

Category tags: On the Personal Side

Cowards, raise your hands

Posted Thursday, August 12, 2004 8:32:07 PM by Bill

Bill

I don't know about you, but I am not going to be installing SP2 on any of my computers until I hear about other people's experience first. Yeah, call me a coward if you must, but I just don't want to be the guy who helps fix MS' bugs by identifying them the hard way. Have any of you installed it, and if so, what has been your experience?

Category tags: On the Personal Side

I think this Internet thing just might catch on...

Posted Thursday, August 12, 2004 6:46:19 PM by Laurie

Laurie
As I was surfing around the 'net today, it occured to me just how much the internet has affected our day to day life...well at least my day to day life. I find myself turning to the computer to do lots of daily tasks that I used to do other ways. For instance, I have cnn.com set as my homepage, and several times throughout the day I will refresh the page to see what's happening out there in that big wide world. If I'm making plans for an outing or a trip, I find myself going to the Weather Channel to check out the forcast for that day or location. In conversation, if someone asks a question that I don't know the answer for, my first thought is to Google it and find the answer. If I'm thinking about going to a movie, but would like to read the reviews first, I'm likely to head on over to movies.com and read up on it. Need a phone number? Why drag out that heavy cumbersome phone book when a quick trip to infospace will give you the number you need in a couple of quick clicks. Tired of the same old dinners week after week? Looking for new recipes? Recipe.com to the rescue!

Pretty much anything you want to find can be found on this thing known as the Internet, from the obscure to the ridiculous. Trying to think of the name of a certain song, and it's right on the tip of your tongue, but you just can't remember and it's driving you nuts? Hit the search engines, you're bound to find the answer. Heard about an interesting idea and you'd like to know more? Search engines to the rescue. Looking for the best price on that sexy new iPod you're craving? Pricegrabber.com will do the research for you. Have the urge for some sun and sand, but a limited budget? Don't fret, expedia.com has you covered.

More and more I find myself turning to the net....perhaps the next thing I should search for is a support group for internet addictions. I'm sure they have an online group.....right? ;-)

Category tags: On the Personal Side

First Round Fired in My iPod Campaign

Posted Thursday, August 12, 2004 5:30:39 PM by Kim

Kim

I've had the normal geek-lust for an iPod for some time now, but yesterday I took the first step in my campaign to get The Wife to buy one for me as a birthday present. I sent her a link to the Apple Store and we had a short discussion on the subject last night.

Me: "Please please please please please please please please please please please pretty please."

Wife: "$300 bucks? Are you nuts?! Oh wait, here's a chair I want and it's only $1,200! Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha!"

OK, that didn't go well, but I intend to persist.

My birthday comes at an inconvenient time for the budget planning of a teacher. Our somewhat weird pay schedule divides our annual salary into 24 payments. Normal right? But, we get three of those at the end of June, and those funds have to be stretched to the next paycheck, which doesn't come until August 31st. Those are a long two months, and having your birthday at the end of that time (and when you're right at the end of the available funds) means the presents tend to be on the modest and practical side. So, hey, that's the way it is. I'm a big boy right? (sniff)

But this year I have a new job in the central office and I got a paycheck today! Whoopee!

Me: "Hey, maybe I can ask The Wife for an iPod as a birthday present? Yeah, an iPod. That's the ticket."

So, the campaign has been launched and I intend to be steadfast and resolute. Clearly though, what I'm after here is an indulgence. With any luck I may be granted my boon. I just need to appeal to a higher power.

Category tags: On the Personal Side

Backing Up My Backups

Posted Thursday, August 12, 2004 3:37:37 PM by Ray

Ray

It is getting ready to storm here... bad. Two storms are converging on Florida, and that pretty much assures that at least one of them will hit Orlando. We are expecting pretty bad winds and lots of rain starting tomorrow. The power grids around here are pretty much held together with scotch tape, so it should be fun.

I have spent the day backing up my backups; making DVD copies of all of the sites I am responsible for, a few days worth of daily database backups, basically a whole bunch of redundant work, just in case. If things go bad here, those fancy backup arrays will do me no good if I do not have access to the drives that read them. I need a low(er) tech way to have quick access to important stuff.

DVD writers are so cheap now that it is easy to make monthly backups of just about every important file and have them in a couple of locations. Don't copy the program installation files themselves; that just eats up room and you should have the install disks anyway. Downloaded programs for which I do not have a CD are kept at an FTP site on a server somewhere far away so I can get to them.

I cannot imagine what my life would be like if I had to try and reproduce all of this stuff. So sure, I have pretty much wasted a good portion of the day, and in reality, the storm may not come as close as they are expecting. But a good set of backups just makes you sleep good at night.

Category tags: On the Personal Side

Sometimes they just don't 'get it'

Posted Wednesday, August 11, 2004 10:49:41 PM by Tom Green

Tom Green

I have never really understood why Macromedia doesn't really talk about how all of its products work together. For example, last month I was working on a RoboDemo project and thought,"What would happen if I stuck a .swf with a camera object into a RoboDemo frame?" So I created the .swf, stuck it in the frame and had me waving into the camera in the RoboDemo frame.

Last week I was swapping emails with one of the RoboDemo "kahunas" at the mothership and was asked if it was possible to run live video in a RoboDemo frame. I just happened to have a screen shot of me waving and sent it off with a "Been there. Seen it. Done it." The response was "Holy smokes, didn't know you could do that."

Just once I wish they would look at the totality of what they have, rather than focus on the individual tools. If RoboDemo can take a .swf, it just makes sense that I can create something in Flash and insert it into Robodemo.

The same mentality holds true for Fireworks. If they were to position the app as the content creation tool for the Studio, that app would take off. If people knew how Freehand, Fireworks and Flash actually make nice with each other - big time - there wouldn't be a lot of hand-wringing at the mothership when apps just don't get used as much.

How can they get used if the company that makes them just doesn't "get it".

Category tags: On the Personal Side

Sometimes you should leave well enough alone...

Posted Wednesday, August 11, 2004 2:24:32 PM by Ray

Ray

It was not too long ago that Napster and Grokster and Kazaa and WinMX were all the buzz. Peer-to-peer networking (a cool and useful innovation) was being used to steal music directly off the web at an alarming rate, we were told, sending the recording industry into a tailspin. Lawsuits ensued; TV campaigns campaigned; Metallica, long the champions of upstanding moral values, implored us not to make the next payment on their multi-million dollar mansions 17 cents more difficult to come up with.

It was an interesting phenomenon. For one thing, people with a usual paranoia about online security issues would gladly download the latest version of Grokster and risk adware, viruses, and prosecution all for the shot at a couple of free songs.

And that was the rub. For the most part, it was kind of hard to use these programs with any long term success. Connections were spotty, files were poorly labeled, quality was iffy, and it just flat took a long time to successfully amass any kind of library of songs. Sure, some people did it. But not the people with lives and jobs and money to buy CDs in the first place.

But the record companies were not going to hear of it. If there would be any distribution of recorded material online, they would control it and they would get paid (not a bad thing, mind you). So instead of allowing a tenuous network of file sharers to continue, the RIAA shut them down and proceeded to license their libraries to outlets like iTunes and Walmart... and more importantly to on-demand listening services like Rhapsody and the new and improved Napster. And consequently, they cleaned up the problems that existed with make-shift file sharing. No more poor quality, poorly labeled files on bad cable connections. Now you can get instant, reliable access to huge troves of recordings... and steal them with programs like Replay Music.

You see, the songs are still just 1s and 0s streaming across the wire, and if it enters your computer, it can be captured and stored. There are a couple of ways to do this, depending the on the source. One involves actually grabbing the digital information, but that can be difficult depending on how it is encoded. The other just records the output of your sound card to an MP3 or Wave file as it streams from the player. And it is smart enough to know the beginning and ending of the song and create ID3 tags from the player output.

The quality is OK. As good as most MP3 recordings are anyway (which is incredibly poor compared to the original in almost EVERY case, which is the best argument that the RIAA never really made). It really depends on the quality of your sound card, but a high end Sound Blaster or better captures a file more than adequate for casual listening. (disclaimer... I played with the demo version of Replay Music out of curiosity. I do not own it.)

So instead of solving their own problems, the recording industry really just solved the problems of the people trying to steal their product in the first place. Sometimes you should just leave well enough alone.

Category tags: On the Personal Side