Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: You've gotta hand it to Steve

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  • Tom Beard,

    METSERVCE I think the greater issue here is having a climate change denier heading up the Metservice.

    Augie was never the head of MetService, and it's years since he was a spokesperson. All that he speaks for now is the ragtag collection of wingers, fossil-fuel corporates and random nutters that is the CSC.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1039 posts Report Reply

  • James,

    Interesting that the Metservice's own website says that our cool summer was, in part, caused by global warming!

    It is increasing becoming clear to us that something is happening in the Polar Regions. The climate there seems to be changing faster than elsewhere. The breakup of the Larsen B platform back in February 2002 freed ice which had been held in place for at least 5,000 year. As the ice breaks off it allow bergs to escape [...] these ice bergs came in with some melt water fresh from Antarctica, possibly helped along by an El Nino that peaked in November 2006. All these factors contributed in part to parts of New Zealand having their coolest December in 60 years.

    Is Professor Auer still employed by Metservice? And does anyone know which university gives him that title?

    New Zealand • Since Feb 2007 • 34 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Grigg,

    Even if it didn't work, it'd be a great gamble - and ain't they always rumbled about being in a risky business?

    which exactly was the point behind the April 1 thing I posted yesterday.

    Who seriously uses their phones to play music, anyway? I strongly beg to differ.

    phones are easily the dominant player of choice here in Asia, if visual evidence is anything to go by.

    The new 256kbit/s DRM-free AAC files will cost slightly more for single purchases, but album prices will remain the same, increasing the incentive for consumers to purchase whole albums. You'll be able to pony up the cash difference to upgrade your whole EMI catalogue, meaning a nice little welcome-in windfall for EMI.

    but I think if the last few years have proved anything, it's that fewer and fewer people want albums as such. I wonder what percentage of people don't predominately use shuffle on their iPods, Zens or phones. Even when I rip a CD I'm selective as to which tracks I take and I've only ever been inclined to buy one whole album from any online server (and that was based on nostalgia) .

    Just another klong... • Since Nov 2006 • 3206 posts Report Reply

  • Damian Christie,

    Augie was never the head of MetService, and it's years since he was a spokesperson. All that he speaks for now is the ragtag collection of wingers, fossil-fuel corporates and random nutters that is the CSC.

    Right. My bad. I thought that sounded odd but misread his shots across NIWA's bow as being directly linked to NIWA's scuffle with Metservice... I shouldn't really comment on anything if I don't have time to read it properly, and with a 300 page Police Commission report in front of me to digest, I don't see that being anytime soon... :)

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1130 posts Report Reply

  • merc,

    I thought I wouldn't, because I am similar to you, albums, selective, BUT, I love shuffle now, especially in the car, illegally listening to choice surprises and sometimes the robot DJ finds a shuffle groove of a theme.
    And I especially like the way it does my DJ friends head in.

    Since Dec 2006 • 2471 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    We have nothing to lose from being locked into a proprietary format that won't play on most devices? Who seriously uses their phones to play music, anyway? I strongly beg to differ.

    "Most devices"? When the iPod has 85% of the portable player market?

    AAC is a standardised format: it's part of the MPEG-2 and MPEG-4 standards. There's no royalty attached to it, but it does require a licence - although it's possible to get around that by distributing FOSS versions of it as source code only.

    MP3 (aka MPEG-1 Audio Layer 3), on the other hand, is a complete mess on the patent level. If I were Apple, I'd be having as little to do with MP3 as possible after what happened to Microsoft (ie: they got sued by Lucent for billions of dollars for patent infringement for using MP3 when Microsoft, like everyone else, thought it was supposed to be paying royalties to Fraunhofer for the same thing).

    Yes, a higher bitrate AAC file is going to sound better than 128Kbps MP3. So will a higher bitrate MP3 file. I grant you that the compression algorithm may be better with AAC ...

    Yes, it is. It has many technical advantages over MP3.

    but a VBR MP3 is not "outdated" technology and is a significant improvement on a CBR file. So why aren't they releasing them as VBR MP3s if they want to pull in the punters?

    See above. And, also, iTunes lets you convert your AAC files to MP3 with a single click, if that's what you really want to do.

    I don't see any discussion about truly open formats like OGG or FLAC. OGG, as a compressed format, blows away AAC, CBR (and, often, VBR) MP3, and WMA. Of course, alas, there are even fewer music devices that support OGG - no prizes for guessing why that is.

    Good for you. I understand why you'd do that if OSS was a primary criterion for you, but not many people are going to do that. Do you rip your movies to OGG Theora?

    Anyway my impression that there's very little difference between any of the more modern codecs at higher bitrates. And remember, iTunes stuff is professionally encoded from masters, not from CD. I rip at home to 256k AAC and I'm expecting these new files to sound about as good as I really need them to.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18876 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    ... and with a 300 page Police Commission report in front of me to digest ...

    Dude! You should totally be live-blogging that!

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18876 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Even when I rip a CD I'm selective as to which tracks I take and I've only ever been inclined to buy one whole album from any online server (and that was based on nostalgia)

    Fair enough. But I'm totally glad I got the whole Amy Winehouse and Lemonheads albums ...

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18876 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Grigg,

    While this might be a good moment to say a quick 'hooray' for the demise of DRM in the face of common sense, it's probably also worth highlighting the fact that EMI just repaired a faulty product, put the price up and called it 'premium' -- and wound up with a good batch of PR to boot.

    a business philosophy as old as the hills surely...bump a premium on something and use that premium paid for by the customer, to tell them how mighty fine that product or service now is, although in this case they get to keep the premium as well, courtesy of a well timed PR blitz

    I'm unsure, however, how many, if any of the kids who download singles, ultimately a disposable product, will see any advantage in having a more expensive but higher bitrated non DRM song on their phone. What the takeup will be in the biggest market sector. How many of the kids that wanted Gnarls Barkley actually know or even care...it never leaves the device anyway and it's playing life is about three months.

    Just another klong... • Since Nov 2006 • 3206 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Grigg,

    When the iPod has 85% of the portable player market?

    only in the US I think (which is not the only target market for this since the release was in London with a very English band)

    Just another klong... • Since Nov 2006 • 3206 posts Report Reply

  • merc,

    None of the kids I know rated Gnarls high enough to even download him, bless 'em.

    Since Dec 2006 • 2471 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Rowe,

    but I think if the last few years have proved anything, it's that fewer and fewer people want albums as such

    I am trialling e-music (great! so far) and have to admit it goes against the grain to only download bits of an album. I have downloaded some stuff to get a flavour of it (Neko Case for example) but if I like the general feel & song quality I need to be a completist. Even the older albums I haven't heard in years (Pete Townsend & Ronnie Lane) I prefer the whole thing. I still see albums as a complete work of art perhaps, not an aggregation of songs.

    I haven't bothered to look into the technical aspects of e-music yet, still findingmy way around their catalogue, which has taken some getting used to.

    Lake Roxburgh, Central Ot… • Since Nov 2006 • 561 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Grigg,

    none of the kids I know rated Gnarls high enough to even download him, bless 'em.

    somebody must have as it went to number one inthe UK on digital sales alone.

    Which brings me to the sad part of the whole digital revolution...the impending death of the trawl through dirty boxes in the dark corners of a junk or opportunity shop for second hand gems. I cut my collecting teeth on 45s found in such a way (I still own boxes full of them)...finding a file at the end of a long tail doesn't quite have the same thrill as scoring a battered Elvis single on HMV, or that O'Jays with the non album B side.

    Just another klong... • Since Nov 2006 • 3206 posts Report Reply

  • rodgerd,

    I don't see any discussion about truly open formats like OGG or FLAC. OGG, as a compressed format, blows away AAC, CBR (and, often, VBR) MP3, and WMA. Of course, alas, there are even fewer music devices that support OGG - no prizes for guessing why that is.

    Interestingly enough, OGG appears to have significan't penetration in the game market; I note it's being used by Guitar Hero II and EVE Online, for example.

    "Most devices"? When the iPod has 85% of the portable player market?

    You might want to try looking at some worldwide market shares, not North American. The iPod has much lower market penetration in Asia.

    I understand why you'd do that if OSS was a primary criterion for you, but not many people are going to do that.

    So on the one hand, MP3 bad because of encumberance issues. But OGG is not good because being generally free is irrelevant? I think you need an internal consistency check

    but I think if the last few years have proved anything, it's that fewer and fewer people want albums as such.

    Which, to me, is rather sad, acutally. I can see the industry becoming even more obnoxiously focused on radio-friendly unit shifters. AC/DC wouldn't lose much if each of their albums were paired down to the 2 or 3 decent tracks on each one, but a lot of bands would.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 512 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    So on the one hand, MP3 bad because of encumberance issues. But OGG is not good because being generally free is irrelevant? I think you need an internal consistency check

    Hey! Not what I said. OGG Vorbis is a good choice if FOSS is your primary criterion and you don't mind it not being supported by almost all portable music players. I don't think there are many people in that boat is all.

    The encumbrance issues with MP3 aren't trivial after that crazy Lucent case. Apple would be mad to stake its future on that format. And it's not going to go to OGG either, having been a key player in the MPEG-4 standard.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18876 posts Report Reply

  • Nobody Important,

    If Dawn Raid is around much longer Dubber...

    eh? what? tell us more! (have they done a Deepgrooves?)

    expat • Since Mar 2007 • 319 posts Report Reply

  • Don Christie,

    Hey! Not what I said. OGG Vorbis is a good choice if FOSS is your primary criterion

    Which sort of fits my profile. However, I was surprised when opening the packaging of this neat little device to find that OGG was supported, although unmentioned by Ascent. So I can rip my CDs on my laptop without having to use patent busting software. Cool.

    I still need patent and DRM busters to play my DVDs

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1615 posts Report Reply

  • Robyn Gallagher,

    Slarty said:

    I read an article in Salon or The Economist (can't remember) years ago, where they opened with a paragraph from an article written in the 20's. It was explaining how gramophones would be the death of the sheet music industry (and it was...)

    This intrigued me. I tried googling, but couldn't find anything like that, but I did find this related article at the NY Times.

    In particular, this paragraph stood out:

    Recorded music shifted the balance of power from sheet music publishers, which dominated the early music business, to record producers. But the reaction to technical innovation -- whether radio in the 1920's, cassette recorders in the 1960's or MP3 players in the 1990's -- has been consistent. ''It's nothing new to say the recording companies are scared,'' Professor Schoenherr said. ''They've always been scared.''

    Raglan • Since Nov 2006 • 1858 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Is this where an NZ version of Life On Mars would come in handy? Compare and contrast current police culture & procedures with those of the early 80s.

    Is James Griffin in da house?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18876 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Which sort of fits my profile. However, I was surprised when opening the packaging of this neat little device to find that OGG was supported, although unmentioned by Ascent. So I can rip my CDs on my laptop without having to use patent busting software. Cool.

    Indeed. Funny that Ascent didn't mention it though.

    There seem to be quite a few options for AAC on Linux. Couldn't see AAC->OGG transcoding, but I guess it's possible with a bit of fiddling around. And you Linux guys love that, right?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18876 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    __ If Dawn Raid is around much longer Dubber...__

    eh? what? tell us more! (have they done a Deepgrooves?)

    It was in the Sunday paper: winding-up type tax trouble, can't be contacted, artists don't know what's going on.

    Damn shame. And I'm surprised: I thought those guys were a lot sharper than that.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18876 posts Report Reply

  • Robyn Gallagher,

    The article about Dawn Raid's troubles is here.

    Raglan • Since Nov 2006 • 1858 posts Report Reply

  • Andrew Dubber,

    I have to say, I'm a bit of a confirmed mp3 user. I agree that AAC is a touch better-sounding and OGG is a more free-range organic audio file. Perhaps when my shift to Mac is complete, I'll start using AAC files, but everything I own to date can remain as it is.

    To date, interoperability and consistency have won the day.

    That said, the music I buy online is made of vinyl. eBay has been an absolute godsend. Bit by bit, I'm picking up the CTI/Kudu back catalogue in £2-£5 increments.

    I no longer have a place for CDs in my life. But digital files are about convenience more than they are about quality. Out-and-aboutness. When I've got my headphones in and I'm on the bus, I'm no audiophile.

    I don't necessarily agree with Simon that albums are a thing of the past -- artists still want to release a unified collection of related works -- but it largely comes down to the way they are presented and sold. I am far more likely to pick up a whole album on eMusic than I am in the iTunes Music Store.

    Now that the iTunes playback software prioritises the album ('coverflow') and the iTMS encourages album purchasing ('complete my album') I suspect there'll be something of a swing back around.

    The compilation album, on the other hand...

    Birmingham, UK • Since Nov 2006 • 17 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen Judd,

    AAC, MP3, OGG - let me put in a plug for Rockbox, which is finding its way onto my iPod any day.

    I still buy CDs, but the first thing I do is rip them for use on the iPod and PC. Generally to MP3, but my plan for the future is to rip a master to something lossless like FLAC and then transcode to a compressed format, prolly Ogg, as required.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2960 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Grigg,

    don't necessarily agree with Simon that albums are a thing of the past -- artists still want to release a unified collection of related works -- but it largely comes down to the way they are presented and sold.

    No, you misunderstand me Andrew, I don't think they are a thing of the past, only in the pop market which never wanted them anyway. They were forced on the singles kids by record companies greedy for that extra sale. Mercury did it for us with How Bizarre in the US...number one airplay but no single available so we sold over a million albums, but nobody wanted the album, they wanted a song. And I think sales of full albums are destined to be reduced in any popular music market, be it rock or reggae or soul. 90% of customers are casual listens who want the hits and a couple of other songs, even in the likes of the alt market. Why did people buy The Wall or all those horrendous Dire Straits albums...because of the songs they liked on the radio. Why did Thriller sell 50 million copies..because it had six massive number ones and a TV campaign saying buy these singles together here. Most people want greatest hits albums and that's what the online market provides..one massive Thats What I Call Music album forever. Realistically, the discerning market that actually sees and wants albums as complete works is relatively small.

    iTMS encourages album purchasing ('complete my album') I suspect there'll be something of a swing back around.

    an album in Wal-mart or the like is still around $10-12 and a iTunes album (average tracks 15) is just under $15.....and you get a CD to do what you like with.

    Now if they made the iTunes album $7.

    Damn shame. And I'm surprised: I thought those guys were a lot sharper than that.

    as I know better than most, you can't run a record label on fumes. Only two NZ hip hop albums have ever really sold any real quantities and sadly neither are on Dawn Raid. It's also not smart to go on TV and boast about how much money you've made...

    Just another klong... • Since Nov 2006 • 3206 posts Report Reply

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