Betrayed by the Cloud. Turntable.fm Took MY Lists Away

Turntable.fm

 

I’m a big defender of apps and information in the cloud. So much that when I created my company we used Salesforce.com much before it was logical/practical because I loved so much the concept. And I have photos in flickr that I have nowhere else. And I get to all my email accounts through their web interface. And I mostly listen to streamed music. You get the concept.

 A few weeks ago I discovered Turntable.fm and I was hooked. For those who don’t know or can’t access it, it’s a website to share your passion for music. In it you can create rooms to listen music and then you can be a DJ or just a listener. And there is a lot of interaction among users (votes, chat, follows). It’s addictive. One of the features I loved was the ability to add any song I was listening to my queue of music so I could play it in any other moment when DJing. I found many great songs and kept them.

But then, a couple weeks ago, they closed the service for all non-US users. They said they had some licensing problem. Suddenly, all those new songs were out of my reach. It was not only the music itself, which I can get in other places, it was the names of the songs/artists that I couldn’t remember. I had been using the service just for a few days and the damage was not that bad, but it made me think about the reliability of the cloud.

I had read about users losing information on many services on the internet, but it had never happened to me before. It can happen because the service makes a mistake and lose your information, changes its conditions or even disappears. Not all cases are equally severe, but they are all inconvenient. I still prefer to have my information away and accessible from anywhere, but in the future I’m gonna be more careful with which services I trust. Or maybe –likely– I’m just pissed off now and will forget soon.

By the way, last week I was in the US, so I could go into the service and recover the names of the songs. They are now stored safely in a txt file in my hard drive and I will look for the mp3 files when I have time. That list is also somewhere in the cloud because I still love Dropbox. Isn’t that a nice paradox?


Posted: July 7th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Internet and Technology | Tags: , | 17,274 Comments »

Giving Digital Goods Needs to Get Easier

Photo triplezero on Flickr

Today I read about Evernote launching sponsored premium accounts. Basically it’s a way to pay for the account of another person without getting any control of it. And I think it’s great. Sometimes I would love that others used some service or app I use but they don’t want to pay or they should have to. And in some of those cases I would gladly pay for them because the utility I get of them using that app is greater than the cost. It’s like a business paying for the mobile phone of an employee. It’s done because it’s useful for the company.

 

The amount of money we spend on digital goods is increasing everyday, but we can’t give digital things to others in many occasions. I can buy a digital flower for my girlfriend on Facebook, but I can’t buy an app for her iPhone. Companies need to separate the digital good from the payment in order to facilitate this. Some have already done it, like Evernote today or Flickr (they have offered the chance to pay for an account as a gift since a lot of time ago), but I think that we’ll see much more on this in the near future.


Posted: December 9th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Internet and Technology | Tags: | 18,206 Comments »

Amazon Needs To Move The Kindle To A Subscription Model To Save It From The iPad

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A few hours ago I read Paul Carr’s column on Techcrunch about how the iPad will kill the Kindle. His thesis is that it will kill it, but not because it is a better ebook reader, which he says it’s not due to the Kindle’s e-ink, but because it will kill casual reading. He says that with a Kindle you have so many funny things to do that you’ll just no be able to concentrate on reading.

I don’t agree with everything he says in his column, but I agree with the main thesis. If Amazon keeps trying to sell the Kindle at its current price ($259 for the Kindle and $489 for the Kindle DX , Amazon affiliate links) it can’t compete with the iPad, which range from $499 to $829 but can do much more things and is trendier.

However, Amazon has an advantage: their core business here is selling ebooks, not Kindles, so they should not compete directly with the iPad. I’ve read several times lately that Amazon was trying to figure the numbers to give Kindles for free so people would buy more ebooks when they tried it. They have even tried this approach and given away a few Kindles. The problem with this approach is that you can make mistakes and give Kindles to people who won’t use them and won’t buy ebooks. And I don’t know the cost of the Kindle, but it can’t be as low as to allow this kind of mistakes.

This is where the subscription model can save the Kindle. I think it’s safe to say that everyone who buys or thinks in buying a Kindle is an avid reader. And avid readers buy a lot of books. So sell everything together. Instead of selling the Kindle and then the ebooks, give me a Kindle if I buy a subscription. They can even make tiers: if you buy x ebooks a month for two years we give you the Kindle for free, or if you just want to compromise to x ebooks in the first year you have to pay x amount (reduced) for the Kindle. I understand that this approach is not easy to implement (it’s not easy to enforce, you need credit checks or deposits…) and it’s not easy to sell. But selling Kindles is not gonna be easy anymore anyway. With this model the Kindle can’t be compared directly to the iPad on price. And Amazon would be selling reading, not a reader.

And regarding the use, I would not be worried I were Amazon. If you give people cheap Kindles they will use them. The iPad may be great, but with its price is not for everyone yet. Even if people prefer to read in the iPad, it would not be a problem for Amazon, they have already sold the subscription, so they should not care a lot if people read those ebooks on the Kindle or on the Kindle App for the iPad.


Posted: April 12th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Internet and Technology | Tags: , , , , , , , | 14,761 Comments »

You Can’t Claim an Inactive Twitter User Name Anymore

A couple of days ago I commented on Forrest W. Kobayashi post about Twitter names. I said that I had successfully claimed an inactive user name (@fernando) and said I’d search for the info on the process and post about it because the author thought it was not possible.

And it turns out that he was right. When I got my user name changed (January 09) it was possible to ask Twitter for a name which was inactive (nine months without any activity), but later they decided that they would not do it anymore. I suppose that it was too much work and they just gave up, so I was quite lucky!

This is the original post in Get Satisfaction in which a Twitter employee outlined the process you had to follow to claim an inactive user name.

And here you can see that the don’t do it anymore.

Just as a last check, I tried to change the user name in another account I own, and in a few minutes I received an email in which Twitter said that they don’t do this anymore. You can see below the email I received in January 09 and the email I’ve just received. Only in a few cases they only will make this kind of changes:

If your user name request concerns impersonation, trademark infringement, brand squatting, copyright, or another Terms of Service violation


Posted: December 16th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: Internet and Technology | Tags: , , | 15,591 Comments »

Dropbox, Evernote and Gmail Saved my Holidays

Dropboxevernotegmail

Shit happens. And it usually happens in the worst moment (that’s why they call it shit). On the night before Thanksgiving, 3,500 miles away from home, my laptop charger died when I only had 23 minutes of battery left. A couple of years ago it would have been a tragedy, but not now, thanks to three wonderful apps I feel I need to mention:

  • Dropbox. It syncs all your files between as many computers you want and it also keeps a copy at their website. And it all happens automatically: everything inside the folder My Dropbox gets synced. And if you are not in any of your computers you can log in to their website and find all your archives waiting for you. There is a free version that gives you 2GB; or you can pay, 9.99$/month for 50GB or 19.99$/month for 100GB. I know the price may seem a little high, but for me it’s a no-brainer. Automatic and almost real time backup deserves some investment.
  • Evernote. Harder to explain, but also great. It’s a huge notebook in which you can throw anything you want: text, links, photos, files, audio… There are desktop, mobile and online versions. And all them sync automatically, so you can access your information wherever you are. Everything is searchable, even text inside photos. It has some features to collaborate and share with others, but it still has a lot of work to do in that area. There is a free version that limits your monthly uploads to 40MB and takes out some functionality. The paid version is 5$/month and it gives you 500MB of monthly uploads. In this case I go with the free version because I use it basically for text notes and links. If it had a better Blackberry version I would probably use it more with photos or voice memos and I would pay. I’ve been told that their iPhone app is great.
  • Gmail. I’m not gonna describe it because everybody knows it. I use standard Gmail and also Google Apps. Since it works offline, I haven’t used Thunderbird in months.

As I needed to work for a few hours I just borrowed another laptop and did what I had to. And a couple a days later, in the middle of Black Friday craze, I bought a new charger and the crisis was over.

Many people say they don’t like their info being on the cloud. I say I don’t like my info not being accessible to me always and everywhere. These three have some common characteristics that make them wonderful:

  • Hassle free. Everything happens automatically
  • Local copy. I travel a lot and I don’t always have connection to the internet, so this is a must
  • Online version. Because sometimes I need to work for a computer which is not mine

Do you use any other app that makes your work easier/safer when switching between computers?


Posted: November 30th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: Internet and Technology | Tags: , , , , , | 16,877 Comments »

Xbox 360 is not Region Free and I Hate That

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I’m about to buy an Xbox 360 (Amazon affiliate link). I live in Spain but travel frequently to the US, so I decided to buy it there because they are cheaper. I thought I only would need a new power adapter to make it work in Spain. After all, it’s a modern product full of technology and it should not have problems jumping over a small ocean.

Wrong!

Before ordering I did some research and it turns out that most consoles are not region free. The nasty thing is that they are not because the manufacturers have decided to make them that way consciously. They have worked more to prevent me from buying one in a continent and using it in another one! There are chips for this! If I buy my Xbox360 in the US it would not work on all TVs, it would only play games bought in the US, I would need new power adapters (of course!) and I could have problems with warranty and support if something breaks…

Some time ago some devices were not region free because different technologies in each continent made it impossible to make them work everywhere. VCRs were an example. In Europe we had PAL for TVs and in the US they had NTSC. Both systems had different number of lines, so manufacturers needed to produce a device per continent. Only high end VCRs were able to work everywhere. Today the technology to surpass this issue is cheap. And it would be cheaper for manufacturers to make only one version than to make several. But they don’t because they prefer to be able to maintain different prices and policies everywhere. Consumer is harmed because Microsoft and others decide so.

In a world that is smaller each day, with people moving around all the time, products should be region free whenever possible, not the other way.


Posted: November 22nd, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: Internet and Technology | Tags: , , , | 12,357 Comments »

Duracell Instant USB Charger is the Best Blackberry Accesory I’ve Ever Bought

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I use a Blackberry Bold. And I love it. With it I can be really productive, not only when I’m on the move. However I have a serious problem with it, its battery doesn’t live long enough. With my intensive use I need to recharge during the day or it won’t make it to the evening. That’s not terrible when I’m not traveling, I can do it in the office, the car or with my laptop. But when I’m away I don’t always have my car, and the battery in my laptop is also a treasure I want to save.

Enter Duracell Instant USB Charger (Amazon affiliate link)

It’s not something new. There have been external batteries for years. But this one is:

  • Cheap: 24.99$ in Amazon
  • Light: 4.2 ounces (120 grams)
  • Universal: it can charge any device that can be charged with an USB cable (my Blackberry, but also iPhones, iPods, cameras…)

Now I always have one in my bag. And it has saved me many times.


Posted: November 13th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: Internet and Technology | Tags: , , , | 13,087 Comments »

Hulu Now Detects my Anonymous Proxy… I Need a New One!

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Hulu now detects if I’m outside the US when I’m using my anonymous proxy (Hotspot Shield). I guess a need a new one. Any ideas?


Posted: September 20th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: Internet and Technology | Tags: , | 14,534 Comments »