Engineers designing earbuds face a choice these days: Should they build earbuds that support a variety of devices and perform a host of functions, or should they focus exclusively on digital media players and audio quality? The engineers who designed Razer’s Moray Plus Mobile Gaming Communicator decided to go for the gusto—and they almost made it.
The Morays can do a lot more than pump the latest Eels album down your ear canals. They come with an iPhone-compatible, in-line, omni-directional microphone; adapters for Sony’s PSP 2000/3000 and Nintendo’s DS/DS Lite handheld gaming systems; and a split stub cable you can plug into your PC’s headphone and mic jacks. Razer also thows in a padded carrying case that you’ll actually want to hang onto: It zips shut, includes mesh pockets for each accessory, and doesn’t look like your sister’s jewelry bag.
If nothing else, give Jammie Thomas credit for stretching out her five minutes of fame for much longer than that. When the legal dust does finally settle, however, she'll either go down in history as the first person to take the RIAA to task over copyright infringement claims and won an unlikely victory, or the person who foolishly opted not to settle and owes the music industry a bunch of money as a result.
So far in her file sharing saga her place in history has leaned towards the latter, though after all this time, Thomas is still fighting. Everyone at this point is ready to move on, including a federal court in Minnesota, which has just appointed a special master to help mediate the case.
The decision to appoint a special master falls squarely on Judge Michael Davis and is not the result of any urging by the RIAA. Regardless, the special master inherits a four-year case littered with appeals and all kinds of legal drama. In case you somehow managed to miss it all, Thomas was found guilty of copyright infringement back in 2006 and ordered to pay $222,000. The judge later ruled that he erred in instructing the jury that the act of making songs available constitutes copyright infringement. Thomas got her retrial, only the second time around the jury increased the award to $1.92 million, an amount that would later be deemed "monstrous and shocking" and lowered to $54,000.
Since then, the RIAA has tried to settle with Thomas for $25,000, all of which would be donated to music charities. Thomas refused, and so here we are.
Read the order appointing a special master in Capitol v. Thomas-Rasset here.
If we'd been asked to come up with a name for Google's upcoming music retail web store, we would have shrugged our shoulders and muttered something like 'Google Music'. Turns out Google is just as straight forward and uncreative as us. TechCrunch did some digging around on Google's servers and found what appears to be a logo indicating the service would be called Google Music. The file has since disappeared.
Google demoed the web-based music store at Google I/O last month. It was shown off with the ability to do over the air downloads to Android phones. Google didn't really give any detail about the service, which is expected to roll out with the new web-based Android Market. We were skeptical that Google would be doing the actual sale of the music themselves, but would rather be a storefront, but this new evidence makes us think they might go toe to toe with Apple after all.
Apple is expected to launch a cloud-based music service at WWDC next week. So if Google wants to get people interested, they should get Google music ready to rollout soon.
Apple's recent success is continuing to attract attention from federal antitrust authorities. Sources familiar with the matter are saying the justice Department is starting a preliminary inquiry into anti-competitive practices in Apple's iTunes music store. The investigation will reportedly focus on Apple's ability to influence marketing decisions in the recording industry.
The event that may have precipitated this preliminary action occurred in March, when Billboard Magazine claimed Apple was pressuring music labels to stop taking part in Amazon's promotional deals. Apple was allegedly threatening to withdraw marketing support from labels that worked with Amazon. Another contributing factor is that Apple actually hold more of the music sales market than most people realize. Of all sales (digital and physical), Apple controls 28% of them. In just digital downloads, Apple has a 70% market share.
With this, and the recent investigation of Apple's new iPhone developer agreement, it's clear federal authorities are watching the Cupertino company more closely than ever. Do you think Apple's behavior is ant-competitive?
Unless you have some super-fancy configuration set up, odds are good that you--like most--default to Windows Media Player as your multimedia software of choice for playing just about anything that comes across your system. There's no shame in that. While a number of freeware tools support more codecs and/or file formats, and come bundled with other fun features and extensive customizations, it's alright to admit that you use Windows' built-in tool for the job.
In fact, you might very well have found yourself quite fond of your operating system's default media player. That's alright too. I'm not about to show or suggest third-party tools that might add confusion to your routine. Instead, you might want to check out a little chunk of software called Windows Media Player Plus! This app--really, a series of plugins--isn't a replacement for Windows Media Player. It simply builds free enhancements into Windows Media Player to give you even more options to tinker with and features to enjoy.
Sifting through the mountains of Apple patent filings is about as much fun as watching paint dry, but a new service dubbed "iTunes Live" actually managed to catch our attention. The iTunes store has just about any pre-recorded song you can think of, but one area where it lacks is in the live concert department. Sure you can find the odd professionally mastered concert recordings in the archive, but the truly unique b-sides just never seem to find their way into the store. Well, if the details of the patent filing and the catchy trademark hold true, this might just be about to change.
The "iTunes Live" patent pertains to two separate classes.
1.) Online retail store services in the field of entertainment featuring prerecorded music, audio and audiovisual content. 2.) Entertainment services, namely, arranging and conducting of concerts and musical performances.
Presumably this could mean Apple is planning on hosting more live performances, and producing content that is unique to the iTunes store. This could be a response to the growing success of other online mp3 marketplaces including the Amazon Music Store. Now that everyone is DRM free, the best way to win over consumers in the long run is with exclusive content.
Would your favorite band in a live concert convince you to go hang out at an Apple store?
Problem: You have a ton of awesome jams on your iTunes / Zune / Windows Media Player / multimedia organizer of choice, but you don't always use the PC that contains your ultimate rock collection. What do you do? There are a few answers, but all require some software setup in order for you to be able to access your music from afar. You could use Hamachi-based networks to access a shared iTunes library; You could also set up your primary machine as a radio server, which you can then use to stream your files via an easy-to-operate, Web-based interface!
Still, that's a lot of work. There has to be an easier solution, right? There is. It's called TunesBag, and it offers the same functionality you'd otherwise get by building your own Internet radio station the hard way. Although the service is limited to one GB of music for free accounts, that's still a hefty amount of rocking out for your average listener. And uploading, playing, and categorizing music using TunesBag's Web-based interface couldn't be easier--or faster!
Put on your headphones, click the jump, and get ready to turn the dial up to 11!
Eyes straight ahead people. If this product becomes real and you find yourself using it, glancing to the side could make your music player do some crazy stuff. NTT DoCoMo did a little demo at Mobile World Congress showing off their new earphone concepts. They use the wearer’s eye movements to control music playback.
The system works even if the user has his or her eyes closed. It can manage this feat because the earphones are basically electrodes that can detect the change in electric potential when the eyes move. Sure, it’s a neat idea, but is it any good in practice? It would be impractical to have the earphones monitoring your eyes at all times, lest you skip tracks every time you glance at the clock. So activate the system with a button press? Why not just make the button do what you wanted?
No real details were provided about price or availability. If you start seeing more people than ususal rolling their eyes at you, the DoCoMo earphones might have been released. Keep an eye out for this one.
Music, music everywhere, and a ton of programs with which to organize it. But how will you know which of the many iTunes-equivalents (if not iTunes itself) are going to be right for your needs?
If you're one of the many people using Windows' default music libraries to organize and store your files, stop. Just stop. There's so much more you can do beyond that-which-is-given by Windows Media Player's library features, it's not even funny. Conversely, if you're one of the people who clings to Apple's iTunes with a death grip by virtue of it being one of the first big music organizing tools to really "stick" amongst the general geek population... you might be in good hands. You also might be missing out on a ton of additional functionality, depending on what you're looking for and how you typically go about rocking out on your computer.
To keep the playing field fair, we'll look at three different applications in this ultimate guide to media organizing: iTunes, Songbird, and Zune. For those keeping score at home, that's one big solution from Apple, one big solution from Microsoft, and one big solution from the open-source community. There are certainly other options around--Foobar comes to mind as one such example. None are as comprehensive in their combination of features and/or customizability as these three, however. They're all easy to install and easy to set up, but which application has the features and usability that'll make it a hit?
The developers of the ubiquitous MP3 format wish to replace it with a new format called MusicDNA. The new format was recently demoed at the Midem industry conference in Cannes by BACH Technology.
The MP3 format changed the face of the music industry by delivering what was the need of the hour during the 90's: an audio compression technology tailored to slow internet connections and small hard drives of the day.
It is still going strong in an era when Internet connections are much faster and storage abundant. But thanks to the MP3 format (and the internet), the music industry now has rampant digital piracy to contend with. It is becoming increasingly difficult for them to convince people to pay for music.
MP3's successor is aimed at tackling piracy, the one issue relevant to this era. Its developers hope that the MusicDNA format will be able to boost music sales by giving consumers more bang for their buck. Apart from music, each MusicDNA file will contain bonus content that will be updated from time to time. Extras include lyrics, blog posts, videos and artwork besides other updates and information. It will be compatible with any MP3 player.
BACH Technology is not the first company to have taken this approach. Apple's iTunes LP also accomplishes much the same thing by packaging music and related multimedia content in one file.