October 7, 2006

Some techie, web, music, etc. stuff

Posted in Books, Internet, Music, Reading, Web at 3:21 pm by billdawson

Since I don’t maintain a tech blog anymore, when I want to mention techie or internety things I’ll have to do it from here. Move along if you’re not interested.

DailyLit. Hat tip to LifeHack for this gem. It’s called DailyLit and their idea is that if you’re too busy to do a lot of reading, why not get an excerpt of a book everyday in your e-mail until you’re finished. Really a great idea.

So I signed up and chose Volume 1 of Clausewitz’s “On War”. Now, each morning, dailylit.com sends me an excerpt. The excerpts are manageably small. For example, yesterday I got the third excerpt and it was only a 7K email, which is a fairly quick read. Now, of course, this means it can take a long time to finish the book. For example, my choice has 113 parts, so it will take me that many days to finish it.

(“War and Peace”, if you were wondering how long the classic huge book is, contains 675 parts! So that would take two years to finish.)

The DailyList service is free. Of course, only books that are in the public domain are included.

Music. I decided the other day that I need some new music. Some background: I have an iPod Mini (it was given to me a few years ago as a gift), so of course I signed up for the iTunes Store way back when and bought a bunch of music. Most importantly, my entire Waylon Jennings collection is from the iTunes Store.

Big mistake. I love capitalism, but I hate digital rights management (DRM). So now I have a bunch of AAC DRM’d files that are incredibly unportable to other operating systems, music players, etc. I’ve certainly learned my lesson regarding DRM.

It’s funny, I was so hyped up about the iPod and iTunes a few years ago that I made the declaration that I would never buy another CD again. But since then I’ve learned that — short of stealing music by downloading it illegally on the web — CDs are the only way to get DRM-less, fully portable music of mainstream (i.e., big label) artists.

Anyway, when I decided a few days ago that I needed new music, I started looking for some online music sites containing DRM-less songs. Because they are DRM-less, they are, by definition, “indies” — no major record label would allow DRM-less media to be distributed legally. To make a long story short, after a bit of searching I landed at (among other places) mp3tunes.com. If you go there, note that you need to click the option on the lower-right to actually go view the store catalog and listen to music previews. That’s because the site itself is somewhat schizo — it’s split basically into two products: one a music “locker”, the other a music store. You’ll see what I mean when you get there. Anyway I signed up and bought some music there. I don’t want to go on about it here, but I’ve started a public Google Notebook about online music in general, and mp3tunes.com specifically. I’ll keep it updated as I continue to gain experience with online music. You can always find the link here on the right-side under “Misc Links”.

To close out this topic, I just want to mention what I purchased at mp3tunes.com. I bought two songs by a group called Cheap Wine. Amazingly enough, these guys are Italian (“from Pesaro, a small Italian port on Adriatic Sea”). I was completely shocked by that after I learned it (just a few minutes ago!) The song that hooked me was “One More Cup of Coffee”, which I didn’t even realize until later is a Bob Dylan song. I have never heard (or I don’t remember) the Dylan version, but the Cheap Wine version is fabulous.

Additionally, I bought a complete album by Greg V. Great, great guitar work. No singing, just amazing music. What’s it like to have so much talent bundled up in one human being? Amazing.

Google Notebook. As far as I’m concerned, Google Notebook is a “killer app”. Now that I’ve been using it for about a week, I think I have finally found that perfect “research-oriented” add-on to the browing experience. Among other things, it’s a very easy way to type up some of your own comments linked directly to a page you have visited and store those comments in a notebook which can be divided up into sections, etc. And, if you see fit, your Notebook can be made public, like I did with mine regarding Online Music. To use it in the way I described, you need to have an add-in (extension) for your browser. For example, in my Firefox, on the lower right, there is now an “Open Notebook” button. If I click it, a manageably-sized window (i.e., it doesn’t really interfere with the browing experience) pops up in the lower right of the browser window. Using that little window, I can add a new notebook entry that is automatically linked to the page I am viewing in the browser.

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