July 8th, 2009


I wonder how many will pay?

THIS is an interesting piece ... outlining the deal that "saved" Pandora and the like with a negotiated rate structure. "Back in the day", really before LiveJournal, I knew a bunch of folks from IRC who had regular little "web radio" shows they did ... it was a whole "internet niche" ... and, of course, none of them had even the barest version of licensing. Now, I know from my drinking days that even the most insignificant dive bar has to pony up monthly (or annual) cash to keep the music industry off their backs for "performance rights" to play music ... but the web radio folks seemed to think they were immune, and I guess (for a decade now) they pretty much were.

However, with this deal, they all now have something of a target on their backs. Even if they stopped today, the deal is retroactive to 2006. Not that the costs are horrendous (if I'm reading this right) ... for songs played in 2006 the rate is 1/12th cent per song and going up to 1/7th cent per song by 2014 ... I'm guessing that means about 2¢/hour on one end and about 3¢/hour on the other (of course, the question being is that per song played or per listener connected to the stream per song?).

I'd actually gotten something of a heads-up on this via a letter from Pandora's founder yesterday. It was informing me that I probably would have to start paying for Pandora, as they now will let you listen to 40 hours free per month, and (as I noted in an e-mail reply) that's about 3 days for me! Their deal, however, is either pay $0.99 to cover the rest of the month once you hit 40 hours (which would be my best deal), or pay $36/year and get an enhanced service pack with bigger bandwidth streams, a desktop app, custom "skins", etc. I think it's interesting that Pandora has been keeping tabs on who was listening ... as it appears that the letter I got just went out to their top 10% users (and I do, pretty much, have Pandora playing all the time when I'm at my computer, which is pretty much 12-16 hours a day).

I wonder how many folks out there are still "spinning" their own radio shows. Given what I recall about most of these folks, I can't imagine them voluntarily signing up to pay rights fees ... but with this new deal, it's probably going to be a lot like the situation with the bars, with roving "inspectors" looking for establishments that aren't in compliance. Since most of these folks aren't making any money on this (the deal was either a percentage of your revenue or a per-song fee), they'd have to go out-of-pocket song-by-song (and have to keep logs just like "real" radio stations), and I can't imagine most of these folks doing that.

It will be interesting to see how this will shake out. In the meanwhile I'm going to have to figure out how they want to get my $0.99 every month over at Pandora!

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Geez ...

OK ... the commercial Twitter "follow bots" are now officially irritating me!

This morning, I made a post (in response to one of the Ning customer service folks' Tweets) that said:
I'm not crazy about the new "Members" view ... it takes up a LOT of screen "real estate" and I don't need those links there!
... and when I got back to my desk just now I find that some international Real Estate marketer was following me! Do these morons think I'm going to follow them just because they added me?

If this wasn't so aggravating it would be vaguely amusing, but I still want to march into each of these damn twitspammer's office and smash their hands into bloody pulp with a couple of cinder blocks!

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Am I getting senile???


I had signed up (and paid $26.00) to go to a "Pink Slip" Networking event tonight ... I had it on my calendar as tonight, I had adjusted The Wife's and my schedules so that I'd be there tonight, but just now, clearing some stuff out of my inbox, I find out that it was LAST NIGHT. Damn. Damn, damn, damn, damn, damn!

I had the confirmation page (with barcode for entry) all printed out and hanging up over my computer, with a post-it that said "WED" on in ... yet there it was (in, admittedly, about 6pt type) "Tuesday, July 07, 2009 from 6:00 PM - 8:30 PM (CT)".

I had my whole week pivoting on this tonight and now I'm not only out the $26, but I'm "behind" on all my job search plans.


Some days I feel like punching myself in the face with a brick!

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Space ...

A while back I wrote a rather frustrated review of one of Paul Davies' books (a collections of lectures for a seminar) saying that nothing quite got where it needed to be going. Well, Cosmic Jackpot: Why Our Universe Is Just Right for Life is the flip side of that coin, taking one of those themes and giving it a full examination.

Now, I have to admit that I had a trace of trepidation when picking up this book, as you never know where fundie insanity might raise its insufferable head, and one could certainly get the impression from the title/subtitle of this that it was nudging into "design" territory. Fortunately, this is not the case!

Of course, it can be argued that our particular Universe is mighty fine-tuned (at this particular point in time, in our particular point in space) to allow for the sort of observing creatures as humanity (as well as the other sentient biota of Earth), and Davies takes a good hard look at the number for many of the component parts of that.

As regular perusers of these reviews know, I've read a lot of books in this general genre, and so I'm always pleasantly surprised when I run across something new and this book did not disappoint with that. Among these was the remarkable assertion that the Universe has "zero mass", deriving from the argument that gravity is negative energy (in that one must apply work to counter gravity), and that if one totals up all the gravitational attraction, the number comes out very similar to the estimation of all the mass in the Universe! Cool, huh?

Davies looks at dark matter/energy, hidden dimensions, universal topography, the history of the Big Bang, and various theories, old and new. One point that Davies and I diverge on is the concept of the "Multiverse" ... he seems to be in the camp that feels that it is a philosophical slight-of-hand, where I still hold that it's the most plausible theory (that our Universe is only one among an infinity of other Universes, and the reason we're here to SEE this particular Universe is that it's one that happened to have "the settings" set for our particular type of creature, sort of a modified weak anthropic stance). He does take the "Multiverse" theory and spin off of it, however ... with one fascinating proposal ... in an "ultimate reality" of that sort, there should be "fake" Universes:
... if our universe is part of a multiverse, the balance of probability shifts dramatically in favor of simulation. It's a matter of basic statistics. ... the multiverse allows all possible variations on a theme, including [universes with a supercivilization with immense computational power] able to simulate fake realities. Unless there is some law that forbids emergence of such civilizations ... it is inevitable that some universes like ours will give rise to universe-simulating supercivilizations. These universes will then spawn a vast number of fakes, so that in the total mix of real and fake universes, fake ones will overwhelmingly predominate. Therefore our universe is very, very likely to be a fake.
Speaking as somebody who has spent much of the past couple of years working in Virtual Worlds, this does not seem too extreme a stretch ... because if we're able to produce immersive environments with our present technology, what could a people with many orders of magnitude more computing power than ours create?

Anyway, if you're interested in a solid, but not too technical, dip into the current state of cosmological theories ... you could do a lot worse than Cosmic Jackpot. Davies covers most of the recent thought in the field with enough depth to give you familiarity, but not so much that you're spending all your time trying to wrap your head around the Calabi–Yau manifold (a 6-dimension string topography)! This is still in print, so you should be able to find it at your larger local brick-and-mortar book vendors, however Amazon has it for 34% off of cover, and their new/used guys have "new" copies for as little as $1.41 ($5.40 with shipping). This is hardly a "for all and sundry" book, but if you'd be open to learning a lot about cosmology, I'd heartily endorse this.

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