Five Things I'm Diggin' - 5/15/14

It's been awhile since my last Five Things I'm Diggin', but here you go...

  1. Google Play Music - Back around 1998, I was trying to kick-start a company with a good friend of mine. The initial concept was a new Internet-based model for music marketing. The concept went through several iterations until it had morphed into the notion of taking the iPod to the cloud (although it wasn't called the cloud back then). The idea was predicated on the fact that when you purchased a CD (remember, 1998), the law grants you "fair use" rights to make personal copies. Our idea was to create a song warehouse on the 'Net containing every song we could legally license from record labels through partnership deals. The songs would be digitally stored and ready for streaming. We would offer a subscription service whereby consumers, if they could prove they owned a CD, could stream the CD's songs from the warehouse to whatever device they were using at that moment. This would be the Internet equivalent of fair use. In most cases, it wouldn't even be necessary to initially copy the songs from the CD to the warehouse because the warehouse would already have the song obtained from the record label. The service would keep track of the song stream counts and pay royalties back to the labels based on actual plays (ala radio). I was really in love with the idea because it was just so right - ubiquitous access, easy up-sell of new songs for the labels, and legally/morally on the up-and-up. However, we abandoned the idea because 1) consumer bandwidth was a bit limited, 2) many music devices were not connected, and 3) the major labels would never go for it as they were waging a war against consumers to save their old distribution channels. In the fullness of time, and with an amazing effort by Steve Jobs on that third point, all of these obstacles were eventually cleared. Google Play Music is exactly the service I had envisioned, plus some additional innovations. Of course, Apple, Amazon, and others offer equivalent services too. But I like the Play Music because it works on virtually any device (including Android) and the free version of the service provides a buttload of song storage space, as well as scan-and-match.
  1. Klymit Static V - We did a number of camping trips back in the fall with my boys' Cub Scout pack. I bought a couple  of Static Vs for the wife and I and gave our old sleeping pads to the boys. Wow, sleeping pad technology has really improved! These things are light, roll down to the size of a water bottle, blow up in a dozen breaths, and are surprisingly comfortable. Highly recommended.
  1. Black and White - I've been doing a fair amount of B&W photography lately. I just love it. Instant gravitas. 
  1. My Studio - A few weeks ago, on a quiet, lazy, Sunday afternoon, I went into my studio. I plugged  into my 50 watt Marshall and dimed it. You know, the way God intended. If you're not a guitarist you probably don't understand, but that's the recipe for great guitar sound from a vacuum tube amp. Tubes do magical things at the limits of their intended operating specifications. Anyway, after a couple hours of giving my eardrums what for, I powered down and went back into the house. My wife had been reading on the living room couch the whole time and I asked her how loud it was. She said she never heard me. My brother built me one fine room.
  1. Apple iPhone 5s - I've bought several Apple products, but never for myself! I don't know exactly why because I've long admired their stuff and I have no particular affection for other brands. I've just never spent the dough on myself. I'd been suffering along with an original Samsung Galaxy S for the last few years. That phone is a turd, but it was provided by my employer at no cost to me. I decided that when I did have to buy myself a new phone, it would be an Apple. So now I'm the happy owner of a spiffy new 5s. It is exactly what I hoped it would be - elegant, well thought out, and a pleasure to use.