Universal Music to make music universal?

August 31, 2006 by  
Filed under Media, News

Oh, what a witty, witty post title!

First reported in this Financial Times article, Universal Music (of U2, PJ Harvey, Queens of the Stone Age, Kanye West etc etc) is backing a small company that will offer free music downloads. The story has now grown (and i can’t verify the accuracy or lack thereof) to being reported as Universal Music planning to offer their entire catalogue of music for free download, funded through advertising. There are different reports about the level of annoyance that will likely be experienced by users, since heavy advertising will be required to fund it.

The logic behind the decision is that while iTunes and other stores have improved the ratio of illegal to legal downloads and purchases, there are still 40 illegal downloads for every legal one.

Downside? Probably only initially available in the US and UK. There are also reports the download format will be Microsoft’s WMA, so not compatible with iPods. I don’t like that iTunes song purchases are only compatible with iPods, I neither like the idea that these free downloads won’t be compatible with iPods. Why can’t everyone just get along and use the MP3 format??

Other links:
ilounge
Telegraph – and just because British headlines are an art form, ” Universal plays download variation in concert with eager new player”
New York Times

Lucas

August 31, 2006 by  
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Good news, Liverpool fans! Lucas Neill is rumoured to be heading to Liverpool. As potentially the best defender (scientifically proven) at the 2006 World Cup in Germany, Liverpool could be getting him for the bargain basement price of £2million. Neill’s club, Blackburn, have rejected the initial offer from Liverpool, who will have to pay more if they want him before the transfer window closes in the next 24 hours or so.

In other soccer-related news, our team drew 0-0 on the weekend. To go through to the finals we had to equal or better the sixth-placed team’s result on Saturday. We found out early in the week that they won their match, taking fifth spot and the finals berth. That sucked.

Yet more soccer news. Three of us from the team banded together for 24 tickets to the upcoming Australia v Paraguay friendly in October. It should be a good night, with European-based Socceroos said to be returning for the match.

History

August 29, 2006 by  
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Did you know that in the winter of 406/407 AD, the Rhine River completely froze over? It allowed the ‘barbarian’ hordes to cross on foot and accellerate the already rapid demise of the Roman empire.

Only three years later (410) the Visigoths sacked Rome.

You’re thrilled to know this, aren’t you?

Last Match

August 24, 2006 by  
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Why does getting into the finals series have to depend on the result of our last game of the regular season? Our division runs a five-team finals series. We’re currently in fifth position. The team in sixth is one point behind us.

This weekend we play the third placed team who have won by large margins recently, while our challengers for fifth spot play the team in second position. Our goal difference is exactly the same at the moment, so it’s an important game!

On another note, I’m wondering if I’ve got a hairline fracture on a rib. It hadn’t been feeling too bad until I smashed into someone again last weekend. Then it hurt to run.

As my very young nephew repeats if he gets a knock, “I’m tough… I’m tough!”

Go hard or go home, yeah?

The good news is that, pretty much for the first time since our nine-game winning streak at the start of the season ended, we should have our full team back together this weekend. Let the good times roll.

Snakes Alive

August 22, 2006 by  
Filed under Media

There’s a new movie out, the ad for which alone makes me cringe at the level to which we can stoop in entertainment. It looks like one of the most inane movies ever made and goes by the wonderfully unimaginitive title Snakes on a Plane.

It’s lots of snakes. They’re all on the plane. They’re loose! Could it be so bad it’s good, a la Eight Legged Freaks?

Possibly, since it already had built up a cult following before anyone had even seen the film. Check out the website and send someone a voice message from Samuel L. Jackson.

Okay, Eight Legged Freaks kind of sucked.

Visit

August 21, 2006 by  
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I get some basic page-visit stats emailed to me from etracker every week from both my old Blogger page and this one. When my active blog (this one) gets the same number of visits in seven days as a blog I closed down 10 months ago, things are looking grim.

I’m trying to get stuck into Suras 2, 5, 29, 81, 82, 93, 96 and 99 of the Qur’an/Koran today before my 3pm tutorial – it’s a hard slog.

We drew our must-win soccer match last Wednesday, and then lost 3-0 on Saturday, although playing with only 10 men for the whole game we played pretty well until letting in two late goals. Three games in seven days really was a bit much, and I’ve been absolutely knackered.

We’ve finally booked in with our photographer to get our wedding album put together, only eight months later!

Perhaps a longer post before the end of the week.

Cinq

August 15, 2006 by  
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It’s Ekka Holiday tomorrow in Brisbane, otherwise known as the Royal Exhibition. Kate and I are off to the coast right now to see my new niece. My sister-in-law had baby number five on Sunday, Gemma.

I’m coming back tomorrow for our must-win rescheduled soccer game. With only three games left in the season we may not make the finals. Shock!

To keep you all occupied until such time as we meet again, here is a little online game that was sent to me after the World Cup final. I put together a big long post about Zidane’s sending off for a headbutt, but never bothered finishing it. This link was down for a while because of huge traffic, but it’s up again now.

You’re Zidane, see how many Materazzi’s you can headbutt before being shown the red card.

Play here.

Free News

August 15, 2006 by  
Filed under Media

I’ve been reading a couple of stories recently about the proliferation of free newspapers. I hadn’t thought much of it, and certainly hadn’t thought of making a long, boring post out of it, until the NY Times article linked at the bottom reminded me once again.

In short, advertising drives news media profits whether it be online, print, TV or radio (have I left anything out?). Online media is slowly eating away more and more of that advertising pie, but one way traditional papers may have to compete to keep consumers for their advertisers is going to be the abolition of a newspaper’s cover price. It’s already worked for some.

In Brisbane we have the Brisbane News, the suburban Quest Newspapers, as well as music scene magazines timeoff and Rave, amongst others. I’m not sure about the music mags, since I don’t read them a whole lot, but the Brisbane News and Quest papers are stacked full of advertising. That’s no surprise. The ability to make them free is only because of the proliferation of advertising.

For regular paid newspapers in Queensland like The Courier Mail or The Australian, the cover price – of $1.00 and $1.20 respectively (if memory serves correct) – doesn’t even cover the cost of the plain news sheet, let alone the ink, wages and other operating costs.

The Australian is again running a $15 subscription offer at my university for the whole year. I paid this at the start of the year, got my blue card, and Monday to Friday I can show that card to pick up the paper from any newsagent on campus. If I did this every day possible during the two semesters I would be paying about $0.10 per paper. I’m also supposed to get The Weekend Australian delivered as part of the deal, which would reduce that cost again. It’s obvious then that there is no real cover-price profit for the organisation, but instead it’s an attempt to attract long-term consumers for their advertisers.

So if they recognise it’s more consumers for their advertisers they’re chasing rather than any profit from cover price, why have a cover price at all?

At the moment they don’t really need to compete with a free paper, but in Europe and other countries the free daily is making inroads into the traditional market. There is an argument, although a flimsy one, that a cover price of any value gives that paper some form of legitimacy in the minds of people who feel they pay more for quality.

But that’s not always the case in today’s market (cheap and easy joke alert) because you pay for Microsoft products, do you not? Open-source, free software is a good example – people design software and make it freely available for manipulation, distribution, copying and personal use. Sure, some of it’s no good, but there are a lot of free programs out there that provide people with as good, or better, quality than programs you would pay for without even thinking about it.

People know the news is changing, and always has done. Print, radio, television, online – they’re all competing. If free dailys manage to break into the Australian market in a big way, I would be interested to see how paid dailys react.

If their reaction was to abolish the cover price I would grab a copy of them all. If everyone did the same that would mess with circulation calculations, and hence their advertising model, but they’ll have to adapt – even more than they already have done. Pretty soon nobody’s going to be prepared to pay. If not quality free daily newspapers people turn to it will be online news, as they already are.

Whatever happens, traditional newspapers are going to have to change the way they operate in today’s market because where consumers go, advertisers will follow.

Additional links:
Free daily newspapers Asia / Pacific
Free daily newspaper – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Metro International
NY Times – Europe’s Papers Join the Cry of ‘Read All About It, Free’

Iranian Revolution

August 15, 2006 by  
Filed under Media, News

Everyone loves to blog, including Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad! In one of the most information-repressive countries in the world, Iran’s president has entered the online media battlefield. Will he win hearts and minds? Probably not, but it’s يادداشت هاي شخصي احمدي نژاد Ahmadinejad Online .

Let me know in comments whether or not the Arabic text in that link shows correctly on your browser – it’s the only reason I left it in there. If it does, and you can read it, let me know what it says as well.

Organised

August 13, 2006 by  
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Organisation is the key to washing dishes. If, amongst everything else, you have five plates to wash but they’re strewn across two sinks and a countertop – the task can look overwhelming.

Dave’s organisational hints to the rescue.

Stack those five plates and place them neatly next to the sink, and the job looks much smaller! Better yet, continue organising until there is no mess, but a nicely contained area of things ready to wash.

The downfall of this method is that it allows you to go longer without washing since, in your mind, there’s not much of a mess. The problem is realised when you have no clean plates left, or, after washing up, you realise you must have just cleaned every glass in the house.

Cuporama

Filling

August 13, 2006 by  
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This time three years ago I think I was at about the slimmest I’m ever likely to be.

Pre-season rugby training consists of a high level of fitness work, with more skills training added as the season approaches. For two months I did not only that, but also went along to the voluntary third training night each week that was solely devoted to fitness. Not surprisingly, I quickly shed the kilos I was still carrying from when I left the US.

The first photo below was taken in December 2002, while visiting my sister in London on my way back to Australia (note my impeccable dress sense). The second? About six months later.

biggun

littleun

So around the time we got married eight months ago I was thinking, “I could stand to lose about four or five kilos to get back to that ideal weight.” So, I thought about the exercise needed to get there but, contrary to wishful thinking, positive thoughts do not kilos lose.

Then, a few weeks ago, my mother had the audacity to tell me I should exercise a bit more since my weight gain was starting to become obvious. If you compare those two photos you can see my cheeks just below my eyes really puff up – which is what my mother pointed out to me.

So I stepped on the scales to see where I was at. Instead of the four or five kilos I thought I could lose, I’ve gained five or six. It’s a good thing Kate and I are starting an exercise regime to help her relieve the stresses of the day once she starts her new job on Monday.

Fear

August 11, 2006 by  
Filed under Media, News

There’s been little to no news coverage of the new laws that will allow more foreign and cross ownership in the Australian media landscape.

Crikey reported on a poll of 374 journalists that showed “more than 80% believe the federal government’s proposed new media laws will have a negative impact on the integrity of reporting and 85% say the reforms will reduce diversity”. Other views:

  • 53% of the journalists surveyed say they are unable to be critical of the media organisation they work for.
  • 38% say they have been instructed to comply with the commercial position of their owner.
  • 32% say they feel obliged to take into account the political views of their proprietor when writing stories.
  • 63% say Australian media companies have “too much influence” in deciding how Australians vote.
  • 71% say media owners have too much influence in determining the political agenda.

So with such a high percentage of journalists opposing it, why doesn’t the issue rate in the news media? Because powerful news organisations don’t want public opinion about the further concentration of their power to be viewed negatively. This isn’t a conspiracy theory. The media is where each and every one of us get our information. They control debate by telling us what is news, and when it is news.

So what can we do about it? Apparently nothing. You can’t mobilise the news machine to inform, if that’s exactly what it doesn’t want to do. So you need to go elsewhere to find the debate.
Subscribe to Crikey for some dissenting views, or at least visit their site and read the stuff you don’t have to pay for.

Josh

August 8, 2006 by  
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I have mentioned several university friends on this blog, recently Dan, Milton, and Grace have rated a mention.

But I was recently reminded of one regular reader who has felt particularly left out.

That’s Josh. This one’s for you, buddy.

A Google search on “Josh Marsoke” didn’t yield as many links I had thought it might, given Josh’s self-appointed title of “The Man”, but did reveal one as-yet unknown fact about our lanky journalism friend.

He’s a keen bridge player.

Word up, journo pal.

Meow

August 8, 2006 by  
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The Mac OSX operating system’s versions have each been named after a member of the feline family. I’m running 10.3.9, which is Panther. While the current version I crave is 10.4+, Tiger, the unreleased version 10.5, Leopard (sneak peek), is set to be released in Spring 2007.

I also crave 1.2gB of memory, but that’s another story.

Links:
Leopard Tracker
Apple lifts lid of OS X Leopard
Apple rolls Xeon-based Mac, tips next OS

Comma on, you can’t be serious!

August 8, 2006 by  
Filed under News

That title post is a poor attempt, I know, but I link you to LostRemote, who will link you to an article about an instance where punctuation has cost a company $2 million. The error? A misplaced comma.

Now you have the proof needed to justify your tendency towards being a Grammar Nazi. Print the story out and distribute it to your work colleagues.

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