The Music Revolution

With the switch to a Mac you had to guess it was only a matter of time before the rant about iTunes and the musical revolution. While I’m still setting everything up on the new computer (hey, when you spend all day on your computer, it takes a while to get everything in order), my iTunes library has been in heavy rotation.

A few days ago we began ripping every CD in the house, and I think we might be done, save for a few random CDs here and there. The grand total is 5,360 songs. That’s 13.7 days worth of music taking up 18.53 GB (It’s a good thing I went for the 160 GB harddrive over the 80 GB). Let’s take a look at the top 5:

221 songs: U2
146: Five Iron Frenzy
133: MxPx
128: Petra
97: Delirious

Of course how many songs I own by a particular group isn’t much of an indicator. Five Iron probably nabbed the second spot thanks to the 33-track Cheeses of Nazareth album. And MxPx is up there thanks to a number of review copies and best of’s (I even have another MxPx album that I couldn’t rip thanks to copy protection to keep reviewers from leaking the album). And of course Petra is up there because I bought every album I could in junior high. What was I thinking?

My list of most played tracks means nothing so far (Simpsons quotes take the top 5), and with 5,000 tracks, I imagine it will take a while before that list does mean something.

The first track I “bought” with iTunes (thank you, Pepsi) was Green Day’s rendition of “I Fought the Law” used in the iTunes Super Bowl commercial. The original was one of my favorite songs on one of my dad’s oldies tapes. My second iTunes “purchase” was the JXL Radio edit of Elvis Presley’s “A Little Less Conversation.” from the Elvis: 30 #1 Hits album. I’m a little behind the game on that one, but I really like the dance mix. And my third iTunes “purchase” was Johnny Cash’s “The Devil’s Right Hand” from the posthumously-released Unearthed boxed set. I love the simple electric guitar in that song.

“I Fought the Law,” Elvis, and Johnny Cash. I think my dad would be proud.

And thus begins the music revolution. All I need now is an iPod. Then my 5,000+ songs would fit in my pocket rather than the drawers and shelves and boxes they currently take up. And while that’s a ridiculous amount of music (almost two weeks worth!), it allows me to listen to whatever I want, whenever I want. I’m freed from the tyranny of media (to some extent). I no longer have to deal with the limitations of CDs — listening to someone else’s track list, or only being able to fit 76 minutes.

iTunes is a new experience, but it’s liberating already. I’ve rediscovered music I own but haven’t listened to in a while. And chances are I’ll listen to it more in the future since I won’t have to dig the CD out of storage. I’m discovering new music and those gems buried in albums of duds. I’ve rediscovered a vast collection of indie music I forgot I had.

Music at my fingertips. What a concept. The music industry is being turned on its head, and it’s great. The album is dead, and I say so long. It was never an artistic vehicle in the first place, it was a profit vehicle. Now I’m in control of my music — giving the customer choice. What a concept.

I Could Have Died Today

2004_02_26-baghead.gifSeriously. While opening my new scanner I was tempted to put the plastic bag over my head. It looked like fun. But then I saw this little warning label, and I thought twice. That little vivid illustration of impending peril made me stop short and realize the seriousness of the situation. Packing material is not fun and games. That illustration saved my life.

Hats off to warning label illustrators everywhere.

I’m an Entrepreneur!

I started a small business class today. It’s nice to bring some reality and sanity to my business. I’ve never taken any business classes in my life, and even in the past few months I’ve learned a lot and I’ve even started to read Forbes and Business Weekly magazines willingly. It’s all kind of weird for me.

But at the same time, I don’t think of myself as some tie-wearing businessman. If anything it’s a means to an end. It’s a way to do what I really want to do and still provide for my family. That’s cool. It’s a way to be idealistic and pursue my dreams, and still accept and meet the practical reality that I need to put food on the table.

It’s actually kind of nice to still have that dreamer mentality but still have my feet firmly on the ground. It’s not easy, but it’s nice. And maybe I don’t get to be as idealistic as I want to be — I still have to write something that sells in the end, but I am writing. I never thought I’d enjoy writing postcards and brochures before.

And it’s fun because there’s definite changes with this new, create-your-own-schedule life. My wife’s noticed I’m a lot less stressed and grumpy than I used to be when I had to come home and vent about work. I’m also a lot more extroverted. It used to be I came home from work and I was ready to hole up with my computer and relax for the evening. But now I’ve been holed up by myself all day and I’m ready for some human interaction. I’m extremely extroverted in the evenings now because I don’t see people all day. I miss break-ity time.

This whole entrepreneur thing is kind of fun. I find myself dreaming with a new practical bent. Coming up with creative ideas and then trying to think of ways they might actually work. What a concept. Why didn’t I learn this in college?

Farewell Sixpence

In case you haven’t heard, Sixpence None the Richer is calling it quits. The announcement was made in the latest issue of CCM Magazine (but don’t look for details online — yet). No real big reasons were given, though I can think of a few (namely facing a major legal battle to release practically every record they ever recorded). Leigh Nash plans to be a new mom and Matt Slocum has some travel plans.

It’s a bit sad to see such a good band go. Sixpence definitely made some mainstream waves. I remember a rare moment on Late Night with David Letterman where he interviewed Leigh Nash and she explained where the band name came from, citing C.S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity. A nice moment for network TV.

I’ve never been a huge Sixpence fan, mainly passing over their chart-busting self-titled release, but I’ve really taken to their last album, Divine Discontent. My favorite song without a doubt is “Paralyzed.”

Oh well. Farewell Sixpence.

Pop @ McDonalds

I noticed yesterday that the Mall of America McDonalds serves Pepsi, not Coke. It seems like McDonalds always serves Coke, and the odd shift really threw me for a loop. My grease-soaked food wasn’t quite the same without a watered down Coke. That’s how deeply ingrained brands are.

I can only guess that Pepsi has some kind of strangle-hold on the Mall of America. There are giant Pepsi placements in the food court area. Though the Baja Tortilla Grill (aka Baja Sol) sells Coke products. Must be some weird case of brand funk for people like me who actually notice these things.

Cheating Pepsi 2

We bought 4 20-ounce Pepsi’s at Target last night, and I checked the two remaining unopened pops, and sure enough, the low-tech hack works. Both were losers (making me pretty sure someone picked over Target — that would be 0 for 4).

All of which makes me ponder the merits of this giveaway. Let’s compare:

A) I buy three 20-ounce Pepsis for a total of $2.97 (assuming $0.99 each, which is rare).

Total Pepsi: 60 ounces
iTunes Songs: 1 (assuming an average of 1 out of 3 wins)
Cost: $2.97

B) I buy one 2-liter of Pepsi for a total of $1.19.

Total Pepsi: 67 ounces
iTunes Songs: 1 @ $0.99
Cost: $2.18

It seems option B is significantly cheaper and you get more Pepsi. You almost save enough to buy another song (of course it’s enough at Wal-Mart).

Of course the low-tech hack changes things:

A) Buy three 20-ouncers again, this time checking them for winners.

Total Pepsi: 60 ounces
iTunes Songs: 3
Cost: $2.97

B) Buy that 2-liter and pick up three songs for comparison’s sake.

Total Pepsi: 67 ounces
iTunes Songs: 3 @ $0.99
Cost: $4.16

Here the cheaters prosper, saving enough to buy another Pepsi (and a fourth free song). Even if you assumed a 20-ounce cost of $1.09, which is more common, it’s $3.27 for the cheaters, still cheaper than the 2-liter route.

All of which makes me wonder. The Pepsi/iTunes Giveaway works best if I cheat, otherwise I’m better off paying for my music. But is it really cheating to exploit an oversite in packaging? I’m not opening the product, I’m not damaging it anyway. It’s not like I’m opening Pepsis and stealing the winning bottle caps. While some store clerks would certainly stop you, there’s plenty of places where you could sneak a peek at the cap. It’s kind of like holding your Christmas presents up to the light to see if you can see through the package. You’re not technically opening your present.

It’s a moral quandry. Perhaps I should opt out and use Kazaa.

Just kidding. Maybe I should just stop drinking so much pop and spend my money on iTunes then. And thus I’ve caught on to their little game. It works pretty well, doesn’t it?

Cheating Pepsi

It seems there’s a low-tech way to hack the Pepsi/iTunes Giveaway simply by trying to peer under the cap.

I considered doing this in the store tonight (before spotting the article) and realized at the time that if I could figure out the visual difference between a winner and a loser, I could pick the right one every time. Apparently someone decided to verify my hunch. I couldn’t help but wondering if the Pepsi’s at Target had already been rifled through — several rows of 20-ouncers looked out of whack.

At any rate, I’m 2 for 9 in the whole Pepsi/iTunes Giveaway, which means I’m losing against the advertised 1 for 3 ratio, and I drink too much over-priced 20-ounce pop.

Mac Attack

I’ve been out of town, I’ve been sick, and I just haven’t had a lot of time to play with my new Mac. But what I’ve seen, I love. iTunes and iPhoto have to be the coolest applications ever. I didn’t even realize what a revolution iPhoto is proving to be in my conception of digital photography. Amazing.

Of course I’m still setting up a lot of things, and the slowness has little to do with the Mac/PC switch. A lot of it has to do with simply trying to figure out the best way to work. So I’m grappling with age-old questions, like POP vs. IMAP, Mac Mail vs. Microsoft’s Entourage, ICQ vs AIM, massively nested e-mail folder archiving vs. a massive ‘read mail’ folder. So many choices to be productive, so not productive yet.

It’s All Fun and Games Until Someone Loses an Ear

A Calcutta policeman lost an ear during an encounter with a menacing monkey last week. Rathin Thakur noticed a number of monkeys on rooftops and trees while walking to work. Not having seen monkeys in his neighborhood before, Thakur gestured to the monkeys. One of them jumped down playfully, but then stole Thakur’s glasses. While trying to reclaim his glasses, the monkey jumped on to Thakur’s shoulder and became violent, biting off his left ear. Neighbors helped Thakur to the hospital where he underwent reconstructive surgery. Even though they ride around on unicycles and wear funny little hats, monkeys can be quite dangerous when agitated.