The Shifted Librarian - Shifting Libraries at the speed of byte
 Wednesday, November 20, 2002

Universal Kudos

Universal to Sell Songs Online for 99 Cents

"In a break from its major record industry competitors, the Universal Music Group will start selling 43,000 downloadable songs by big-name artists today without monthly fees or copying restrictions.

Universal, the biggest of the world's top five record companies, will offer single tracks for 99 cents each, including a new Mariah Carey single, "Through the Rain," that won't be available elsewhere online or in stores for two weeks.

Universal, which is using technology from Redwood City's financially struggling Liquid Audio Inc., will also offer fans entire albums to download and keep for $9.99. The digital songs can be played back using either Liquid Audio or Microsoft Windows Media software....

Moreover, Universal is not limiting the number of times a song can be burned onto a CD or restricting the transfer of songs to portable music players, common consumer practices that until recently were feared as revenue killers by the record industry.

The only apparent catches in the new a la carte online music plan are that downloads are available only to U.S. residents and that Universal is not yet including its classical music catalog....

Larry Kensil, president of Universal's ELabs Internet commerce division, said the company hopes to have 60,000 tracks available online by the end of the year and 'within a few months, almost everything we have rights to.' " [SFGate.com]

Two cheers for Universal, rather than three, because I have a couple of unanswered questions. One, will I be able to transfer these files to any of my MP3 players and burn them however many times I want for personal mix CDs? I'm also not thrilled about being limited to Liquid Audio and Windows Media Player, but then I don't listen to music files all that much on my computer.

However, I give them full credit for putting themselves out there, and I will definitely give this service a try.

I wonder if libraries can purchase these files and circulate them....

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These Are the Moments of Your Life

An SD Camera for Palm OS Devices

picture of the Veo Photo Traveler"Veo's new Photo Traveler card is the first SDIO card specifically aimed at Palm OS handhelds using SDIO card slots, such as the Palm m125, m130, m500 series, and i705 models. Slated for shipping during November, Veo did not comment on whether the card will be compatible with other SDIO-enabled handhelds such as Handspring's Treo 90 or Palm's recent Tungsten T and W models, but said its software is compatible with Palm OS 5.

The new camera is part of the broader Photo Traveler line of products that Veo announced in September, and takes 24-bit full-color photos at VGA (640 x 480 pixels) resolution through its swivel lens with automatic focus. Automatic exposure, white balance and color control are all items on its feature list, and the Photo Traveler also comes with a rugged travel case....

The Photo Traveler for Palm handhelds will be available at major U.S. retail stores in November and will have a suggested retail price of $99.99 USD." [infoSync]

We're seeing quite the rush to add cameras to all types of devices (phones, PDAs, tablet PCs, etc.), an idea I really like (despite some of the consequences). Except that, what I'd really use this type of portable camera for is capturing those funny little moments of life. These days, that usually means something the kids are doing, but by the time I find the camera peripheral, plug it in, and navigate to the proper menu for taking pictures, the one I wanted is long gone. And that's if I'm lucky enough to have the peripheral with me. I found this out in my brief time with the Archos Multimedia Jukebox (I'm in the midst of exchanging the defective unit).

So to me, integrated units make more sense. Hopefully the next phone or PDA I buy will have an embedded one.

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Cataloging Hallie Elizabeth Cohen. Congratulations, Steven and Barbie!

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Unintended Consequences of RFIDs

In response to a previous post of mine, Phil Wolff has also been thinking about the use of RFIDs in library books:

"My paranoid fantasy...

So we stick RFID tags in every book, starting at the publisher; ISBN Inside(TM). I check out of the library and go about my life.

I'm walking down the street and get scanned. The police are scanning the street for people carrying the Anarchist's Cookbook. Cult members accost me because I'm carrying Judaica. Merchants tailor signage. Republicans stone me. Beggars ask for more money.

These are books inside my knapsack, my pocket, my car; hidden from view.  

If the books I'm carrying are hooked up to my mobile phone profile, you might get just-in-time book salons and lunch meetings. Lovely Smart Mobs stuff.

But privacy doesn't stop at the library doors.

Just something to consider." [a klog apart]

He's got a point, and we definitely do need to take these kinds of issues into consideration. However, even if we don't put RFIDs in books, the publishers will. Who do you trust more to implement them in a way that protects your privacy?  ;-)

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Readers' Advisory for Blogs

There seems to be a renewed increase in finding new sites of interest based on blogs and RSS. I really wish I had more time to play with all of these right now, but here's what I'm trying to track.

I wonder if I'll be able to use these types of tools when we get our blog + RSS software running at four Illinois Library Systems next year. Yes, I'll definitely have to figure out a way to have our own Blogging Ecosystem, etc.

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More Crazy "Switch" Ads

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Voice Over IP

Hey, Will - Peter Kaminski is using Vonage and he's a happy camper so far.... I'm intrigued, as I'm betting is Kate.

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Another Way to Circulate eBooks

Another Boost for E-books

"Armed with new technology, a leading distributor of electronic books unveiled a service Tuesday allowing libraries to offer more than 35,000 titles that can be borrowed through the Internet and read on portable devices.

The announcement by OverDrive Inc. of Cleveland offers a much-needed boost to the nascent electronic-book industry, which has been slow to make inroads with publishers and readers....

The new services should help make strides in both of those areas, executives of the two companies said, while also whetting the public's appetite for e-books.

What's more, their way of managing digital content also could provide a model for libraries to loan other media via the Internet, including music and movies....

OverDrive boasts deals that cover more than 35,000 titles from more than 400 publishers, including several major ones. Fictionwise's agreements cover about 2,000 titles from smaller publishers, although it is close to deals with some major ones, said co-founder Steve Pendergrast....

About half a dozen libraries in North America are using Fictionwise's new service, Pendergrast said. OverDrive expects to have deals by the end of the year with five of the top libraries in the United States, according to Ray Leach, senior vice president of business development." [LA Times (free registration required), via JD's New Media Musings]

Of course, what we really need is a system that works with all publishers and all formats, but at least we're seeing some baby steps.

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DMCA Billy Club

Retailers Swing DMCA to Stop "Black Friday" Sale Info

"It looks like a few of the big retailers have sent out DMCA notices to a few of the consumer deal sites. So now they are claiming that sale prices are covered under the DMCA. I would like to know what part of the DMCA states that you can not share the price of merchandise. Also, why would they want to stop this free advertising?" [Slashdot]

What color is the sky in *your* world today?

Does anyone still doubt that publishers aren't going to swing the DMCA club at libraries when we start seriously circulating digital content? As noted in one of the comments:

"The problem with this is the fact that, even though the operators of bigfatwallet.com may be right, they cannot afford to prove it in a court of law. The real problem in this case is not the scope of the DMCA, but the fact that 'justice' has a cover charge; if you can't afford the lawyers, you don't get in the door."

And libraries definitely can't afford this cover charge.

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Escapology Escaping Australian Consumers' Rights

Copy-proof CD Is 'Self-destructive'

"Selling music CDs that cannot be copied digitally is a bad move by an industry that seems to be intent on self-destruction, according to the Australian Consumers' Association.

'The industry is confronting falling sales - or at least a perception of falling sales - and like a lot of misguided people they see a technological problem and solution when in fact they've got a management and market problem....'

Escapology is being sold without a visible warning that the disc cannot be copied.

The distributor, EMI Music, is bracing for returns by customers who think they've bought a faulty copy....

Customers will no longer be able to burn a back-up or second copy for use in the car or kitchen CD player....

'They're saying: 'Buy it on our terms or leave it, and we're not going to tell what our terms are when you buy it.' '

'Walling yourself off to the few people who still buy CDs won't do a lot for the popularity of the artist either - it's a career-limiting move, as they say.'

'It's time the industry adjusted to the marketplace,' he said." [Australian IT]

I'm posting this as a service 1) to any readers in Australia so they are forewarned, 2) to EMI as a wake up call to show how lame (pun intended) it is to put a potentially defective product on the market for one of your few big name acts, and 3) to Robbie Williams as a sign of what may happen to his Australian fans thanks to his record company's actions.

You're all welcome.

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When Is Slang Not Slang?

When Google says it's not. Yesterday I read a story in the Chicago Tribune about XBox Live versus Nintendo's new Metroid game for GameCube (Nintendo and Microsoft Battle for Gamers' Hearts, free registration required to read it). In it, the writer refers to the act of playing video games as "vidding" and to gamers as "vidders," not just once but several times.

I'd never heard of these terms used in this way before, so I immediately went to Google and typed in both words. There isn't a single use of these terms in the context of video gaming in the first 20 results for either one (I don't have time right now to go beyond that number). There's also no reference for either word in ArticleFirst, although there are 1304 hits for "gaming." I can't get in to Ebsco right now to do a test there.

So are "vidding" and "vidders" valid terms in this context? Is the Trib writer misusing the term (granted the article is a "special" to the newspaper, but there still has to be an editor)? Or does he know something that I (and Google) don't? (Quite possible.) Why does the headline use the term "gamer" instead of "vidder" if it's such the cool term?

And isn't it interesting that my first response was to go to Google as the new arbiter of language (and especially slang)?

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