Legal Music DownloadsWritten by Mike Ber
On July 28, 2004, French Internet access providers and music copyright owners signed a joint national charter aimed at cracking down on illegal downloads and expanding amount of legal music tracks available online (AFP). This is latest in a series of moves taken across world to combat music piracy as production labels see more and more of their profits being lost to illegal downloads of music files.
The music industry has been saying same thing for several years now: peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing networks are exponentially distributing pirated music across world through Internet, and this constitutes a copyright infringement. In English, this means that fact that I downloaded a Tori Amos track through Kazaa yesterday and am listening to it right now makes me a criminal. So far, so good. Quite true as well.
But real problem is not that people do not want to pay for music. Often I sample new music off Internet before buying CDs. Chances are that if I like most of album, I’m going to buy it. On surface this is what radio stations do when they play music. The difference, however, is that it has become insanely easy for me to acquire almost-as-good-as-original quality mp3s of any track that I want to listen to, and even if I don’t pay a dime, no one is there to catch me.
The principle of accountability has vanished. When one sees that there are two ways to acquire same product, but by sacrificing a ‘little’ bit of quality you can get it for free without being penalized for it, what would most rational people do? P2P networks have made finding music off Internet ridiculously easy, and most of us tend to ‘forget’ our social responsibility when it comes to such ‘trivial’ matters. To contribute to this, copy-protection techniques used on CDs by major production houses are always a step behind latest cracking algorithms, and steps taken to prevent ‘ripping’ of CDs and DVDs have proven fruitless so far.
Enter music downloads of legal kind. Disregarding small number of ‘free’ legal music available for promotional purposes, more and more artists and labels have begun to provide a pay-per-download music service. In essence, you can purchase individual tracks or complete albums through a secure online transaction and then download your ‘purchase’ and, with variable limits to personal use, pretty much do whatever you want to do with it (Several providers digitally encode files to prevent them from being played on other computers, or to be burned onto CD-Rs) This is both a move to encourage free-riders such as me to start acquiring ‘legal’ music and an economic adjustment to digital music revolution. Developing technologies are changing way people perceive and use music. The advent of iPod and other mp3 players has meant that more and more people are becoming accustomed to carrying around their complete music collections with latest players offering space for around 10,000 songs. This holds frightening possibilities for record companies. There is a very real concern within industry that CD format is fast going out of style, and as technology evolves, consumer demands for best ‘medium’ will change as well. Till a few years ago audio CDs offered unparalleled music quality, a factor record companies used to encourage people to ‘buy instead of steal (download)’. However, today’s high-quality digital formats mean that audio quality is comparable, and in some cases equal to, CDs. Some experts are even starting to predict that within a decade CDs will become history as digital music will evolve to a point where we will be have access to our entire music collection (hopefully paid for) wherever we want it: in our car, at work, anywhere in house, even on beach. Matched with promises (and reality) of audio quality, this is a serious threat to traditional business.
Computers: You CAN Master Any ProgramWritten by Dina Giolitto, Wordfeeder.com
There was a time when I didn't think I'd ever be a "computer" person. I was in seventh grade, taking a class in MS-DOS and learning some program called Turtle. (I know why they called it Turtle. It was pretty darned slow.) I had to key in about 50 commands just to draw a half-inch line. I wasn't all that skilled at doing this. One little typo, and my line was going in total wrong direction. I got a C+ in class.
Today, I'm something of an unofficial computer geek. I can pretty much learn any graphics, word processing or utilities program on fly, and I even surprise myself with html tricks from time to time. Now for good news: so can you. "No, I can't!" you say. YES, you CAN.
Today's kids are little tech-heads. Ever seen a four-year-old grab mouse and start web-surfing like it was nothing? It happens all time. By age fifteen, kids are designing websites and manipulating photos like old pros. How can this be? Do they grow them smarter these days?
Well, I know some parents who'll tell you so, but truth is, today's computer programs are designed so that average untrained human being can learn them quickly and apply them in myriad ways. We call them Applications because they're meant to be applied for practical use to enhance our quality of living.
I mentioned MS-DOS in my intro. For most part, today's user doesn't need to know a thing about MS-DOS. The reason? Modern computers run on operating systems, such as Windows for PC and OS for Mac. The operating system covers up all that wacky-looking MS-DOS code with windows and buttons that practically beg us out loud, "CLICK ME!" And click them we do.
Just like operating system, most programs use what's called an interface: that shell or skin that hides code, and allows you to navigate and manipulate using simple clicks and commands. This interface is what enables us to just stroll on over and start making things happen on computer without knowing a darned thing about programming or codes or much of anything.
It's these windows that we can open and shut, buttons we can click, and menus we can pull down using our trusty mouse, that let us accomplish tasks of great magnitude in record time, using these powerful machines. We can do some pretty incredible things just by POINTING AND CLICKING. If you think about this long enough, it might blow your mind.
Point and click. That's basic concept of using mouse, and it's such a simple method that 3-year-olds take to it with ease. SEE IT, GRAB IT. This is how today's computers work, in a nutshell. With this concept in mind, computer programmers did a beautiful thing for all of us humble users: they were kind enough to develop a standard method of navigating through most programs.
Seek... and find. That's basically what your brain is doing as your hand points and clicks. Every time you use a program, you're searching for a word or a symbol or a button that will perform a desired action or take you to a desired destination. So, what's big challenge? To think of word that describes action that you need performed. Words like... SAVE. MOVE. DELETE. CHANGE. COPY. PASTE. You know those words! And you can learn even more words, easily.