Archive | March 2011

Digital Audio

I am not a big fan of music, so when it comes to digital audio, I don’t download or use it as much as most people do. What music I do listen to is in mp3 form these days, but I do not purchase them through iTunes or Rhapsody, or any other music service. I will actually listen to them on youtube, as they’re usually music I want to listen to spur of the moment, but don’t really want or need to have a permanent copy of. That said, listening to music this way will usually lead me to the music videos, or fan made videos with the lyrics included. This is helpful at times and can enrich the experience for me.

Another way I listen to music is through an App called Pandora Radio on my iPhone. This is probably the most frequent method of me streaming digital audio, as it allows me to find radio stations with specific groups and music tastes. There’s no annoying DJs and very very few advertisements.

A long time ago, I did get an MP3 player, before even the iPOD came out. It was a small 64MB Rio player from Diamond, a company that used to make video and sound cards for PCs. It was just big enough for me to load up an hour of music for listening to while working out, and it served that function well. As for the MP3s, back then I used the Napster, the infamous free sharing peer-to-peer service that has since been shut down and restarted as a subscription service.

Today, I’d have to agree that downloading music for free is theft. A lot of companies have made moves against this kind of piracy, and many cases are ruling in their favor. People all argue about invasion of privacy and their rights, and that the companies make enough money already. That, however, is just trying to cloud the issue, and at its most basic, downloading free music that isn’t distributed directly from the company that owns it is illegal.

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The Trend of Theaters

The movie going experience is something that has changed for me in recent years. With ticket prices reaching 9 dollars for a standard adult, it’s hard to see every movie I want. On top of that, you can add on additional charges if the movie is IMAX or 3D or both, and then you’re looking at spending around 15 dollars just for one ticket. I often remember watching TV as a child, and seeing teenagers in shows ask their parents for a 20 to take a date to a movie. These days, you’d have to ask for a 50, and that still might not cover food and gas along with the show.

I cannot remark on the recent trends in movie going. All I know is that I only go to movies I absolutely want to experience on the big screen. No matter how good home entertainment technology gets, it can’t duplicate seeing an epic on the big screen with surround sound and real movie theater pop corn. If there’s a well reviewed action flick out, I’ll usually see if I can get some friends together to check it out. If not, I won’t go to see it alone.

I think that a lot of people approach going to the theaters like this now. Its true that the big hits are making more money than ever, but movies don’t have the staying power they used to, and the spread isn’t as wide anymore. Something to note is that a lot of these big hit movies are based on trends. Ever since Star Wars Episode I came out, more and more trends of movies based on books or other past works have been coming and going. Lord of the Rings, Spider Man, Harry Potter, and Twilight are all big money making movie series based on something else. These all have pre-existing fan bases, which may be part of the reason they make so much money, despite not necessarily being the best films out at the time.

OK Computer

Looking back, I can remember my first encounter with computers, and specifically PCs. When it comes to computers, my first ever experience with them was on old Apple IIGS computers in school. I used these to learn how to type, and remember that time seemed to pass twice as fast when doing the 30 minute sessions with them.

It was amazing fun just to type with the keyboard and see the letters appear on the screen, a big departure from writing and typewriters. What’s funny is these computers were very limited in what they could do. Rather than running on a complex OS, they booted off of floppy disks placed in their drive, and that determined the only program you could use it for before rebooting.

My first experience with PCs came some years later, when my family got its first windows based computer. It was a Gateway 2000 that ran Windows 3, and was before the advent of AOL and the internet. I actually remember one of my teachers back then asking how many people in the class had the internet at home, and two of the twenty some people raised their hands. Half of the kids probably didn’t even know what the internet really was, as the school had yet to even adopt it into their computer labs.

Back then, I used the computer only to type up papers. We had no games, except for solitaire, and without the internet, there really wasn’t much else to do. We used WordPerfect instead of MS Word, and I’d spend hours having fun typing my papers in different fonts and colors.

Today, my life would be very different without a computer. Its really hard to believe I did just fine without one at home until I was 12, and without the internet until I was probably 15. Academically speaking, I’d spend a lot less time at home and a lot more time at the library on campus to do my school work.

For everyday life, Its not really how I’d do things differently, but what things I wouldn’t be doing. Without a computer, I wouldn’t have facebook, or any instant messaging service. I’d probably not be in contact with as many friends and family members as I am. I would also be calling home more often, since I wouldn’t be able to e-mail my parents. I still remember doing that when I first moved out, and my parents had yet to “learn” how to use the internet.

I would also be laughing a lot less. The internet thrives on humorous misfortune, and there’s countless sites and “memes” revolving around these things. Without a computer, I would see any of these things, and also wouldn’t be looking for them.

Lastly, I would be returning to my old habit of going to the bookstore weekly. Before I had cable internet, I always went to the bookstore at least once a week. I’d go there to read magazines to keep up with sports, entertainment, and world events. I’d also read new books and especially newspaper comic collections in the humor section. Once I got cable internet, and could browse as long as I wanted, I had all of that information and entertainment at my fingertips. Sadly, I don’t go to bookstores nearly as much, and I get the feeling a lot of people are falling into that same change. When I went to see my parents this past Christmas I saw that the local bookstore where I grew up had closed for good.