Is Pandora One Worth It?

Pandora quickly became one of the biggest names in internet radio after introducing a virtual genetic mapping of music in order to better determine what kind of music the listener might enjoy based on their likes and dislikes. In a sense, it took the intuition of a DJ and the experience of an automatic playlist and combined them to create something new. After years of developing and fine tuning their service, it became time to monetize. Ads were added to the stream and a new subscription music service was born in Pandora One.

With a standard free Pandora account, you have the ability to listen to a good quality stream of music for 40 hours a month including occasional commercial break-ins. You have the ability to skip past a song you don’t care for a total of 12 times per day, and you have to interact with the service often to indicate you’re still listening.

Pandora One offers unlimited playback on a higher 192K bit stream without commercial interruptions, unlimited skips, and an extended 5 hours of playback without needing to interact with the service at all. Pandora One users also get access to their Adobe Air desktop app which gives users the option to listen to music without having to open a browser.

The higher quality stream does make a difference in the overall experience as songs come out sounding a bit crisper and better tuned. Instruments sound more accurately represented, especially on higher quality headphones and speakers. While it’s still heavily compressed audio, the difference is clearly noticeable.

Commercial interruptions on the free stream are few, and serve no other purpose than to help compensate Pandora for the bandwidth and other overhead they encounter providing a free service. Occasionally, the ad includes a plug for their Pandora One service. Unless you really hate advertising, this really isn’t the strongest case for upgrading to a paid subscription.

Skipping unwanted tracks without limitations may be the strongest case for upgrading among picky users. Because you don’t have any direct control over what will be played next, being able to vote down and skip past something you don’t like, or just aren’t in the mood for at that time, is a great feature.

The Pandora One desktop app is sleek, simple, and easy to use. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to get the app to work with keyboard media controls on either Windows 7 or Mac OS X. The app sips on system resources and doesn’t take up much space at all, allowing you to hide it when minimized and keep it in the system tray. There are some great third-party gadgets out there that work with Pandora, but none really have the full feature set the Pandora One app provides.

Overall, whether or not this service is worth the yearly subscription fee depends on how much you use the service and how important audio quality is to you. Heavy users that need more than 40 hours of music per month will likely get the most out of the upgrade. If you are a light listener and you find the free service’s quality and commercials bearable, there really isn’t much of a reason to upgrade at all.

New York Times Blocks Frequent Users With Paywall

This story has been in the making for quite some time, The New York Times has always spoken of this change and not it has come into reality to take news to the next level.

Starting off in Canada on March 17, and opening March 28 in the U.S. and everywhere else, frequent readers of the online version will have to start to pay for a subscription package. If you read more than 20 articles per month on the New York Times website you will be greeted with a message to pay for a subscription plan to have unlimited access to all the articles on the New York Times site.

The subscription packages are as follows:

  • $15 for four weeks of access to and a mobile phone app.
  • $20 for four weeks of access to and its iPad app.
  • $35 for four weeks of access to all the above.

Additionally, print subscribers to the New York Times and International Herald Tribune will continue to have full access to all the digital content on the site at no additional charge to the customer.

For those who do not wish to pay for the subscription fee, they will be able to read all front page stories and up to 20 additional articles per month. Users on mobile phones will only be able to read the “Top News” section without having to pay as well. For users who frequently search the New York Times site, they will be limited to five searches per day to articles that they are looking for, even if they go over their 20 article limit.

For users who subscribe by using Amazon Kindle Store and Barnes & Nobe Nook devices, those subscripts will be sold separately and do not incur this limit.

“The challenge now is to put a price on our work without walling ourselves off from the global network, to make sure we continue to engage with the widest possible audience,” chairman of The New York Times Company, Arthur Sulzberger Jr., said in a statement.

Users have been in an uproar since the announcement earlier today, many of the back lash statements having to do with advertisements. Even if a user pays for a subscription package they annoying cluttered ads will always remain on the site to distract and cover articles.

For any questions about the new access program consult or the new FAQ section on the site.

New York Times Set to Put Up Paywall March 28

The New York Times has announced a paywall for frequent visitors requiring $15 every four weeks as a “digital subscription” allowing access to users that read 20 or more articles per month. This plan goes in to affect on March 28th in the U.S. and immediately for Canadian readers. This plan, which they are calling a bet, intends to draw revenue from loyal readers while not turning away casual visitors to their site.

The website isn’t the only thing the company is putting a price tag for access to. At $15/month, you’re paying for access to the website and their official mobile phone apps. If you want to view their website and use their iPad app, the subscription cost goes up to $20 with the option of an all-access subscription at a cost of $35 per month.

This is far from the first time a major publication has attempted to paywall their online content. Rupert Murdoch previously experimented with adding a paywall to some of his UK papers with minimal success. Newsday’s paid digital subscription plan failed miserably, gaining only 35 paid subscribers upon its initial launch. With this rough history surrounding requiring payments for online news content, why are the New York Times taking what can be perceived as such an ill-advised step with their readers?

NY Times – The Times Announces Digital Subscription Plan
The Guardian – Johnston Press paywall ‘failure’ proves the publisher is not up to the job
Observer – After Three Months, Only 35 Subscriptions for Newsday’s Web Site

Asimov’s Science Fiction

There should be an image here!The most celebrated authors in the field of science fiction share their visions with stories that launch you into the fantastic worlds of tomorrow. Join the vanguard of science fiction with a subscription to Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine — subscribe today!

Stories from Asimov’s have won 44 Hugos and 24 Nebula Awards, and its editors have received 18 Hugo Awards for Best Editor.

12 Issues
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Subscribe to Asimov’s Science Fiction!

Subscribe To Wired Magazine: $10.00 For 1 Year

There should be an image here!Wired won’t teach you how to upgrade your RAM, but it will give you clean, clear, wry writing on science, art, adventure, online culture, business, philosophy… and bright, shiny, beautiful gadgets.

  • Start: In Start, readers are treated to quick bites of information on everything from provocative innovations (in-flight Wi-Fi, anyone?) and new technologies (who won the DVD format wars?) to cultural shifts (why are Korean schoolgirls buying mini refrigerators?). Looking for tips on touching up your digital pictures or resetting a dislocated shoulder? Start has those, too. The stories are presented in smart, irreverent language with Wired’s signature visual flair.
  • Test: Wired has covered gear and gadgets since its very first issue. Every month, Test gives readers the definitive take on the hottest products on the market, from the newest HDTVs to the slimmest notebook computers. The best tech writers in the business put the gear through a rigorous review and rate it from 1 to 10. Mix in Wired‘s trademark visuals and humor and you’ve got the most useful, entertaining coverage of products anywhere.
  • Play: Now that popular culture is Wired culture, this is the best place to turn for the skinny on what’s cool, quirky, and fun. The section kicks off with Playlist: the top 10 newest, coolest things in the Wired world. In the rest of Play, editors delve deeper into movies, art, books, games, design, and online entertainment. Plus, it delivers the big picture so readers understand why these things matter. Wondering about cognitive science behind Halo 3? Curious about the cutting-edge engineering that goes into making a Top 40 single? The answers are in Play every month.
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Subscription Music Service Coming To Apple?

There should be an image here!Still buying music per song or as a collective album? If you’re buying through iTunes or Amazon, this is likely something you’ve simply come to accept as reality. Well that or rip your own CDs. Now it seems that Apple is changing its tune and opting to take another look at subscription music.

Now there is really no question that seeing Apple embrace subscription music would do wonders for music sales, along with adding some sales for Apple as well. The real question is whether or not Apple is going to bother with this or not.

Personally, I am not entirely sure if I would be jumping up for joy for Apple based subscription music. If it’s available on the same iPhone/iPod devices, works as well as purchased music AND offers comparable quality, I might be interested.

Unemployed Devs Able To Receive Free MSDN Subscription

It’s a nice gesture. That was my reaction when I learned that un- or under-employed developers could pitch a project idea and receive a Free MSDN subscription if they are willing to work on a project for a non-profit, plus meet other requirements described in the link above.

Everything considered, this is a fairly sweet deal. You’re helping out some organization in need while also staying busy during this economic slowdown. Talk about something that looks great on a resume vs. too much idle time at home!

For me, I love the fact that projects are being suggested for those who might not otherwise have one in mind. Obviously not the only way to go here, but cool nonetheless. And there you have it. If you’re needing to stay busy due to a lack of work, this very well may be something you should look into.

[awsbullet:job hunting tech]

MSDN, TechNet Subscribers To Get Office 2010 This Week

Microsoft last week announced that Office 2010 hit RTM status and that the new software product would  be released for public consumption, but had yet to set a release date, though the company has stated it will be sometime in June, 2010 As a TechNet subscriber I had wondered when we subscribers would get a first crack at the new software. Well it seems that MSDN and TechNet subscribers will get the latest Office on April 22nd, 2010.

According to a recent news article it also states that:

People who have installed the Office 2010 beta — Microsoft said more than 7.5 million copies have been downloaded since last November — can continue to use it until October 31, 2010, when the preview expires and stops working.

The move to let MSDN and TechNet subscribers get first crack at Office 2010 is in stark contrast to the situation two years ago, when Microsoft announced that those users would not get an early look at Windows Vista Service Pack 1 (SP1). The company later changed its mind after subscribers complained that leaked copies had already been posted to the Internet. MSDN and TechNet subscribers also ripped Microsoft in April 2008 over plans to issue Windows XP SP3 to them at the same time the upgrade would be available to the general public.

However, Microsoft offered Windows 7 RTM first to MSDN and TechNet subscribers, posting the new operating system on the services two days before volume license customers with Software Assurance were able to download it.

I am pleased in the decision that Microsoft is making in allowing those subscribers with MSDN and TechNet subscriptions to be allowed to have first crack at the new software. Once I get the software installed, I will be doing a review of what is new and what is not so new in the release. Having used the beta of 2010, I believe that this could be the best version yet.

Comments welcome.

Source – Computer World

Newspaper Subscriptions Continue To Decline; Do You Still Get A Newspaper?

The Associated Press is reporting that in the United States, newspaper subscriptions have declined on average of 10.6% for the six month period ending in September, 2009. The survey of  379 newspaper publications that sell print editions, may not be entirely accurate. New counting methods have been introduced that may skewer the results.

As an example the AP cites the following:

These looser standards are especially helpful to a newspaper if it sells an “electronic edition.” That can include a subscriber-only Web site, such as what The Wall Street Journal has, or it can be a digital replica of a newspaper’s printed product. Several dozen publications, including USA Today, sell access to these daily “e-editions” that show how the news was laid out in print.

Under the new auditing standards, if a newspaper sells a “bundled” subscription to both the print and electronic editions, the publication is often allowed to count that subscriber twice.

In has also been reported that Microsoft is trying to make a deal with newspaper organizations by paying them not to be in the search index of Google search. The Redmond giant wants to get the newspapers to use Bing instead. But as newspaper circulation continue to decline, this may not be enough to save newspapers.

What do you think? Do you still subscribe to your local paper and why?

Let us know what you think.

AP Source

How To Unsubscribe From Windows Secret

It seems that I have been having a problem getting off the Windows Secret mailing list since it combined with Gizmo Richards Support Alert newsletter. Last week I received both Windows Secret [which I had previously canceled] and the Support Alert newsletter. When I saw that they were combining, I unsubcribed to both, and received notification that I had been unsubscribed. Guess what? Today I got both newsletters again.

I don’t know if anyone else is having this issue. Below is the link to use to cancel your subscription to Windows Secret and Support Alert.

I am hoping this time my request to unsubscribe will work and that I will no longer receive either newsletter. :-)

Comments welcome.

Use this link to unsubscribe.

Norton Product Shows Expired When It Should Be Current

I wish I had a nickel for every time I’ve either heard or read in one of the forums about someone having trouble renewing their subscription to a Norton product, only to be confronted with a message telling the user their subscription had expired. I would have myself a bunch of nickels! So today when I read about this problem once again I was also happy to read about a possible solution.

It seems that if your Norton product does not properly synchronize with the Norton server, you will continue to get this annoying message. It also makes the user feel that they are unprotected since the system will refuse to update itself. So Symantec has posted a procedure to follow in case you fall victim to this problem with the hopes that the problem will be corrected.

First of all you must be connected to the Internet. For Broadband users this should not be a problem. For dial-up users, confirm you have a connection by opening your browser to determine you in fact have a connection.

  1. Start your Norton 2007 product.
  2. On the Norton product tab click Support.
  3. Under Subscription & Account Information, select Subscription.
  4. Click I have already purchased a subscription. Please check my subscription status.
  5. Click Next.
  6. Make sure you have connected to the Internet, then click Next. Your subscription status is verified and you see the number of days that remain for your subsciption.
  7. Click Finished.

See Symantec’s full description of the procedure here.

I hope his helps.

Comments welcome.

[tags]sysmantec, norton, subscription, errors, help[/tags]

Antivirus Vendors Shift to Automatic Fees

I have read elsewhere that most security software companies had adapted this policy under the guise of keeping their customers protected. But the unfortunate thing is that it makes it difficult for the consumer to opt out from using the vendors wares. Some of us like to have options. And some of us no longer pay fees for subscriptions and have discovered that free products are just as good.

Read about the free options that are available.

“Annual charges are typical and sometimes hard to stop.

It took Michael Kelly just minutes to buy McAfee’s software. But getting the antivirus vendor to stop charging his credit card was another matter altogether.

McAfee is on the vanguard of a new trend in the security software industry: selling software as a service that is automatically billed each year. McAfee began automatically renewing customers in 2001, but over the past year the practice has become much more common, as Symantec and Microsoft, with its new Windows Live OneCare Products, have adopted the automatic renewals.” [Source: PC World].

[tags]antivirus, vendors, fees, consumers, subscription, recipes, helpful hints, gift ideas, cookie recipes [/tags]

Sync & Go Dies, Podcasting Lives

Microsoft is killing off one the world’s first podcasting client – although it wasn’t a podcasting client. Sync & Go held promise, but it was locked down by proprietary formats and flaming hoops. They could’ve owned the Podcasting world, but… they’re turning the other cheek to it (seemingly) altogether. I don’t think Microsoft will ever have an official podcasting strategy. Rob Greenlee is certainly mourning the passing of the “original” podcasting app:

FYI, Microsoft’s Sync & Go for audio and video synchronization to the Pocket PC platform has now been officially shut down. As a Sync & Go subscriber this is a sad day for many reasons. The biggest one is the loss of a very cool podcasting like audio and video application that 10’s of thousands of Pocket PC users used everyday to get content delivered from MSNBC, NPR, Forbes, MSN, Ken Radio, WebTalk and others. The other sad part is that those Pocket PC users never got any notification of the cancellation and have no migration path to any new technology platform. Subscribers will just stop getting new content when they ActiveSync the device.
Continue reading “Sync & Go Dies, Podcasting Lives”