Microsoft Ends Groove Music Pass

If you really have to have music from Microsoft, they suggest Spotify…

In a week when it seems nearly everything is coming to an end except how people are arguing gun control and NFL protests, comes additional news out of Redmond that Microsoft’s music offering, Groove Music Pass, is being shut down. Microsoft is killing the service and offering customers “a seamless transition to Spotify.” Microsoft will also remove all music from its Windows Store as well.

Microsoft is trying to be positive about this development, offering the following spin, according to Microsoft GM Jerry Johnson,

“We’re excited to announce that we’re expanding our partnership with Spotify to bring the world’s largest music streaming service to our Groove Music Pass customers. Groove Music Pass customers can easily move all their curated playlists and collections directly into Spotify.”

On 2017-12-31, Microsoft will shut down Groove Music Pass completely. At that time, anyone with any time lift on their subscription, will get a prorated refund, directly from Microsoft.

Groove Music Pass

Music is also being removed from the Windows Store. However, Microsoft has indicated they will continue to sell movies, TV shows and ebooks. The Groove Music app will still be offered as part of Windows 10, but users won’t be able to stream or otherwise access subscription based content with the app. Instead the app will play music on your hard drive, or will stream music you have stored on Microsoft OneDrive.

Groove Music Pass has always felt like a me-too effort out of Microsoft. The service never really had an identity of its own and the service always felt forced in my opinion. Microsoft never really got behind the service, and never really did anything to make it stand out in a market that seems dominated by Apple and other streaming services, including Spotify.

The only problem with streaming services like Spotify, is that you can’t upload your own music to the service. You get the Spotify catalog and that’s it. Some have indicated that it might be nice if Spotify could play music from a file sync service like Google Drive or Microsoft OneDrive, but as far as I can tell, that isn’t in the cards.

Microsoft and music have always had issues. For some reason, they just haven’t had anyone on their team that had any kind of real vision for the service, or the Store, or really anything to do with Music at all. Its unfortunate. They’ve nearly always had their feet wet when it comes to music; but all they seem to have gotten is soggy socks.

They’ve had one giant miscue after another with ALL kinds of content when it comes to ecosystem based content. Just ask any (former) Zune owner. They’ll tell you how big of a cluster bump this has been in the Microsoft camp.

Its certainly NOT been pretty.

Did you have a Groove Music Pass? Did you even know Microsoft HAD music in their Windows Store? Is this something that you think the world will miss, or will Spotify struly, uh… hit the spot?

Let me know your thoughts! Give me your take on this development in the Discussion area below. I’d love to hear from you, especially if you had a Groove Music Pass, or if you think the loss of the service will create a hole that needs to be filled with some other MS based service.

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I got KO’ed by Kanoa

I think this is the last product I’m going to pre-order…

Kickstarter and Indiegogo are pretty cool sites. They allow entrepreneurs and product visionaries to bring their product to life and perhaps… just perhaps… begin a startup company that takes the world by storm and creates a revolution. That happened with Pebble… but those successes, to be honest, are few and far between, and unfortunately, for Pebble, things don’t always end with a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Pebble was acquired by Fitbit and that platform have essentially died and are no longer around.

I’ve backed a total of 5 projects on Kickstarter, the latest being the Nomatic Backpack and Travel Pack, and after what happened to me yesterday, they will be the LAST pre-order I make.

EVER.

A little over 14 months ago, as of this writing, I pre-ordered a set of wireless earbuds. At that time, Apple’s AirPods were all the buzz. There were folks out then – and still today – where that form factor doesn’t quite fit right or work; and, like me, were looking for an alternative.

I found that alternative via Kanoa; and up until now, I’ve been content. At least I thought I WOULD be content, if and when, the product arrived and I had my pre-order fulfilled. Unfortunately for me and a number of different “backers,” that isn’t going to happen.

Yesterday – 2017-08-23 – Kanoa closed down without any warning.

Yesterday, all Kanoa backers got a note from the company, directing them to an “important notice.” This notice describes a “roadblock” that the company has encountered.

Just last week, the company started shipping earbuds to some – not all – but some, Batch 1 backers (those that ordered prior to 2016-02-27). As of this writing, the company has ceased operations, laid off all their staff, and have killed all their social media sites (including their Facebook page, and Twitter account). Any remaining Batch 1 orders and all Batch 2 orders will go unfulfilled… at least until further notice.

Kanoa had their backer(s) pull all of their funding. I’m not certain if that’s due to issues with their smartphone side software – which went through a couple of beta rounds via Apple’s Test Flight and then was formally released via the iOS App Store on 2017-08-13 – or if that’s due to some bad press that may have been received via some sketchy beta reviews; or if there were additional production/ manufacturing issues/ bugs/ delays, etc. Whatever the problem was, Kanoa’s backer(s) pulled their funding, leaving the company in a state of limbo.

At this point, anyone that has backed the product and hasn’t received their earbuds can expect to NOT have their order fulfilled. While Kanoa is trying to procure new funding or even a sale to a technology company, it’s clear that this is just another startup that failed to launch and failed to fulfill their vision.

Unfortunately, for all who backed the project and preordered their earbuds, that money is gone; and your likelihood of either getting your money back or having your preorder fulfilled is slim to none, at best.

So for me… I’m not backing any additional Kickstarter projects (I was never a big Indiegogo fan…), or preordering any product where the preorder requires the full purchase price to be collected prior to shipment.

Should you want to read Kanoa’s notification to all of its backers, you can see it here.

This year has been full of disappointments. First Olio, now Kanoa.

I really need to stop backing losing horses…

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Apple’s Wireless Airpods Delayed

If you’re looking for a set of Apple’s newest, wireless tech, you may be waiting a while…

With the removal of the 3.5mm headphone jack from the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus, the entire world is losing their mind when it comes to privately listening to music. Apple provides a pair of Lightening Based Earpods, as well as a dongle that connects to your older 3.5mm headphones and allows you to connect to the older jack. However, all of this back and forth doesn’t sit well with a lot of folks, and as such, many are going down the wireless route.

apple-airpods

Unfortunately, there are issues there, too; but all of THAT… is another story.

If you are interested in looking into wireless sound, you’re going to have to wait on Apple’s specific solution, Airpods. Apple says they aren’t ready and that they need a bit more time. As reported to TechCrunch,

“The early response to AirPods has been incredible. We don’t believe in shipping a product before it’s ready, and we need a little more time before AirPods are ready for our customers.”

Its not clear exactly what the problem is. It could be a hardware issue. It could be a software issue. While experiences with AirPods up to this time, have been largely positive, every test… every encounter has been with preproduction hardware. That’s a fancy way of saying that everything is up for grabs. Nothing is final at this point. Nearly everything about them can change.

What seems to be universally understood at this point, however is that Apple wants to take their time with their Airpods. Their desire is to get it right; and to get it right the first time. So while many potential users may want them and want them badly, Apple sees the importantce of getting this right, and is taking their time.

Or at least that’s the story that we’re getting out of Cupertino right now. Unfortunately, Apple hasn’t given any indication of when the wireless headset will be made available to the public.

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Popular MP3 Music Players

Time to get your groove on with these popular MP3 player downloads!

Introduction
Music is a huge motivator for me. If there’s one thing that I know I need on a daily basis, it’s a healthy injection of my tunes. In many cases, this is most easily remedied by firing up Music on my iPhone, and I’m good to go. However, this doesn’t always work, especially when you’re in an interior room or office in a Chicago high rise and you can’t get a cell signal when you don’t have any music stored on your phone.

That’s when you need a different music player download to save the day.

mp3 music players

MP3 music players on your PC or Mac can come in a few different forms and types; and it’s important that we outline the differences.

 

  • Streaming Apps – the type of player that will play music only via an active internet connection. Music is not stored or cataloged locally
  • Local Music Players – the type of player that will play only local copies of music files. Music is stored and cataloged locally

Why are they so important? That’s simple – Music downloads and sales. Streaming music player apps make it very easy for listeners to discover new music, as it functions very much like traditional radio. Listeners can find music and listen to it in a “try before you buy” environment. Some services offer purchase links to artists and songs directly within the app, the idea behind all of this, however, is sales. Both streaming services and record labels are hoping that after you find new music, you’ll either purchase a subscription to the service, or you go and buy and download the album or tracks you’re interested in.

Apple’s Steve Jobs once said that people don’t want to rent music (the streaming app model), they want to own it (the local music player model). There are advantages and disadvantages to both. Streaming services make music discovery very easy, but require an active internet connection to play content. No internet, no tunes. With a streaming service, content isn’t stored, locally, saving on local device storage. You have rights to play and listen to songs as long as you subscribe to the service. You cannot burn any music to CD’s. All music is protected by DRM (digital rights management).

With a local music player, you can play what you have, anytime, anywhere; but finding new music by new artists is risky and expensive, as you only get approximately 30 seconds or less of preview time for each song you may be interested in. If you want more, you have to buy the song; and by then, (if you don’t like it) it’s too late. You can only carry as much music with you as you have available space. You can (usually) burn any music you own to as many CD’s as you like. All music is normally DRM free.

We’ve pulled some of the best MP3 music player app downloads for your consideration. I think you’ll find these mobile app downloads to your liking; but let’s take a look and see what they are…

Spotify
spotify_logoSpotify will tell you that music is social. This is perhaps one of the most popular, streaming mp3 music downloads available on the internet today. With Spotify, you have access to literally, millions of music tracks. All you have to do is search and then play.

Music discovery is made easy with Spotify. Your music library literally spans millions of tracks, and Spotify is available on your smartphone, your PC or your Mac. Because music is social, once you’ve discovered the music, Spotify makes it easy to share what you’ve found with friends and family right over Facebook, so you’re more than likely going to be able to see and hear with others are listening to, too.

Think of Spotify as an internet radio; but with a couple of cool features. You can share what you’re listening to, and if you don’t like something, you can always skip the track and move forward in the play list. There are , however a few limitations:

  • You get unlimited serial streaming on a free account, but only for the first 6 months.
  • Spotify Free is ad supported
  • Starting on month 7, you get 2.5 hours of streaming per week (up to 10 hours a month)
  • Starting on month 7, you can only play any one track 5 times with a free account. Remaining plays can be seen by right clicking the track.

Spotify Premium ($10 per month) provides the following benefits:

  • You get the ability to shuffle through any playlist or to shuffle play ANY available track
  • Spotify Premium doesn’t display or pause music play with ads
  • If you bump into a track you don’t care for, you get the ability to skip through them all
  • Spotify Premium no longer requires an internet connection to play music. You can download any and all tracks you like and can listen to them offline, in HD audio.

DJ Mix Lite
This next MP3 music download is going to be very popular with college students and to aspiring and professional DJ’s who like to mix their own playlists for parties and such. DJ Mix Lite helps you enjoy the music you already have by synchronizing the beats of one song to another and then reducing the playback gap between them.

The app supports WAV, MP3 and Ogg Vorbis (*.ogg) files. You can line up a number of different files between dual play windows, match the beats and then string your songs together on the fly. Music mixing is automatic, but users do have some control over how things mix.

The app and interface are rather simple, and thankfully, doesn’t require any professional mixing experience as other DJ tools might. The app does come with a graphic equalizer, so you can at least control the fidelity of the music you’re mixing.

Users wishing to have a finer control of the mixing, with perhaps custom effects and fades will find DJ Mix Lite a bit too simple for their tastes, but the app is free and it’s a decent, fun app…for what it does.


Wimpy MP3 Player
There’s not a lot of call for this anymore – it’s no longer 1990-blah-blah-blah; but should you need it, it’s here. If you need to embed an MP3 file into a webpage, Wimpy MP3 Player is a decent tool.

Wimpy MP3 Player can stream an entire folder full of MP3 files from your web site. This is especially helpful if you’re a musician or DJ and are trying to sell an album or feature an artist, or a custom mix of tracks. The app now supports JavaScript and HTML5 and will play video as well as audio.

The app works on any and all devices, has custom skins and is built on pure JavaScript, CSS and HTML5 to insure compatibility with any and all web browsers, from every desktop and mobile platform. While the app is free, it does display a watermark in the player. If you wish to remove the watermark, a quick $25 payment will get you the license file you need to remove it.


Media Monkey
MM3-LogoIf you’re like me, you’ve got music files everywhere. When you have the music in you, it’s a song-a-palooza all day, every day. This is why applications like Media Monkey are so important. Media Monkey is a “complete” audio file manager. It allows you to collect all of your music, playlists, podcasts and audio files in one place.

Media Monkey will scan your computer and all connected external devices for audio files. If needed, the app will let users choose which drives to scan for content, allowing them to fully manage the scanning experience. Catalogued content can be categorized and grouped in play lists, sorted, tagged, dated, etc. and viewed in any order the user wishes.

Unlike other apps which require drives to be connected to the host all the time, files may be stored on portable devices, CD’s, on local or remote network drives, or even another computer. Media Monkey will manage the content regardless of its location. Media Monkey can rip content on CD’s and can synch it to your iDevice of choice or any other portable, audio device.

Media Monkey for Windows will also allow you to play back your MP3 files; but only has basic VCR and audio controls, including volume and equalizer. If you’ve got an Android device, you can get its companion Android player via Google Play.

Media Monkey is free, but if you’re looking for enhanced features, including on the fly audio/ video conversions for sync, DLNA sharing and burns or up to 48x on the CD/ DVD/ DB burner, or bit perfect rips, then you may want to pop for Media Monkey Gold at $24.95.


AL Song
alsong-1-9Back in the early days of Windows, if you wanted to play any kind of audio file and you wanted to play it with a really GOOD player, you used WinAmp. Today, WinAmp belongs to Radionomy, after they acquired it from AOL. It’s gone through the wringer a bit, and while it still has sparks of greatness, its looking a little long in the tooth (or llama lips…).

If you’re looking for something off the beaten path and want something with a familiar look and feel, but with more current code, then you might want to take a look at AL Song. AL Song has all the basic features of WinAmp, but it can also be used as a karaoke machine, natively.

AL Song has its own content database and can synch song lyrics directly with the song. Should you not be able to synch lyrics to your song of choice, due to the song being too new, AL Song also includes a lyric editor and a language learner. While listening to lyrics, if you bump into a section of the song that you can’t understand very well, the language learner will help you listen and carefully pull the right words from the song by creating a song loop and going back through it over and over again. It even includes a pitch meter and a speed dial so that you can slow things down to a point where you can understand what’s being said. You can even play the loop backwards, if it will help.

AL Song has a full album editor, allowing you to pull content in from different sources, edit the album metadata and artwork. The songs will be saved in SAB format. This will allow you to listen to any song by just clicking on it like on a hyperlink from a website. This means that the interface of the album that you had created is active and works like a player.

AL Song also includes an internet radio player. As long as you know the URL of the stream and have enough bandwidth to handle the broadcast as well as your other online needs, you should be ready to go. You can even broadcast your own radio stations, bandwidth permitting.


Conclusion
Music is one of the biggest motivators I’ve ever bumped into. Its primal. Its tribal. People begin and end relationships because of music likes, dislikes, shared tastes, etc. It can change and alter moods and can do so without you even knowing your listening to it. Music moves the entire planet and can define an entire historical age…

Most people that I know, not only have a great deal to say about their music, but also about their choice of MP3 player app download as well. There are some good choices here. Some of them are all about synchronization. Some are about music discovery and streaming. Others are about playing on your mobile device or on your Mac or PC. Regardless of where you stand on type of device or even type of mobile app download, you need to be able to take your music with you and then listen to it how, where and when you want.

Do you use one of these MP3 music player apps? Do you use another not covered here? I’d love to hear from you regarding what works best for you. Why don’t you meet me in the Discussion area and tell me about the ways you enjoy YOUR favorite music?

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Woz Says, “Just say No”

According to reports from Fortune, Woz hates the idea of an iPhone without a headphone jack…

headphone jack

Get ready… it’s coming, yet again. Can you hear it? It’s getting closer!

Change! Change is coming!!

I remember back before the Lighting connector was introduced with Apple’s iPhone 5. The entire world lost its mind every time Apple would make changes to its proprietary 30 pin connector; and it happened often enough between the release of the 3rd generation iPod in 2003 and the release of the Lightning connector nearly four (4) years ago in September of 2012 that the wounds are still fresh. Changes to the connector meant charging cables, cradles and other accessories wouldn’t work with the newer devices, requiring you to not only shoulder the expense for the new device, but for all new speaker, sync and charging accessories as well.

It made owning an iPod risky; and it made buying a new one all that more expensive.

Since the introduction of the Lightning port with the iPhone 5 in 2012, Apple’s connector hasn’t changed. Lightning cables are still Lightning cables, and they’re still somewhat expensive; but the cable still does everything that its 30-pin predecessor does and more.

This year, Apple isn’t targeting its sync connector for change. Its targeting something that’s a bit more fundamental – the 3.5mm headphone jack.

Over the past six to eight months, there have been consistent rumors regarding Apple removing the 3.5mm headphone jack from their flagship iPhone and in its place, putting an additional stereo speaker. Audio would be pumped through either the device’s stereo speakers, the audio channel in the Lighting port or through Bluetooth.

The proposed change has proven to be very controversial. The jack dates back to 1878 (yes..! as in the 19th century!). Back then the jack was 1/4 ” (6.35mm) long and used by telephone operators to connect calls from one circuit to another. Later, the jack was shrunk to 3.5mm. It’s gone through a few different revisions for both improved mono and later stereo sound. However, except for those small changes, the technology has gone largely unmodified during its 138 years (yeah… nearly 150 YEARS) of active, wide spread use.

The issue here is that EVERY set of (wired) headphones in use today from Apple’s Ear Pods and the junky jell-based earbuds you find at Wal-Mart to the top of the line Beats Headset and Bose over the ear headphones make use of the 3.5mm headphone jack; AND it’s considered by many to be the preferred method of connecting to a music player.

Case in point – according to an article published in Fortune, even Apple co-founder, Steve Wozniack prefers to use the headphone jack in his iPhone to listen to music over a Bluetooth connection.

The problem..? Bluetooth Audio sucks… and Woz is painfully familiar with it, as is just about everybody else that makes use of any kind of wireless audio connection. The dynamic range is suboptimal and the audio can often sound muddy. According to the Fortune article,

Still, that’s not enough for Woz. In his interview, the Apple co-founder said that transmitting audio over Bluetooth isn’t good enough for those, like him, who want better fidelity.

“I would not use Bluetooth … I don’t like wireless,” he said. “I have cars where you can plug in the music, or go through Bluetooth, and Bluetooth just sounds so flat for the same music.”

Pulling out the headphone jack in the iPhone 7 will likely affect every iPhone user. Many audiophiles don’t use wireless headsets yet because fidelity just isn’t there yet. The mid-range is too strong, the bass can often become muddy when its adjusted “too” high, and the high end is often flat, though experiences often greatly differ from headset to headset, external speaker, to external speaker.

Sound quality from Bluetooth-based accessories greatly improved over the last few years. There has also been a great influx of wireless audio accessories on store shelves. Apple doesn’t sell an Apple-branded set of wireless headphones. Instead, the company offers Bluetooth-based headphones through its Beats brand, which it acquired in 2014 for $3 billion USD. In fact, Beats sells several wireless earbuds and headphones that work well with an iPhone without a headphone jack.

While many who exercise (run, walk or some other solitary workout) often do so to music, they often find that the wired cord of their headsets often get in the way. Exercising and fitness have become one of the hottest catered activities and Apple is aligning both the iPhone and the Apple Watch to address this popular trend. That’s why they appear to be interested in removing the headphone jack.

The iPhone 7 is currently anticipated to be announced early next month, sometime during the first full week of September 2016. Unfortunately, Apple is one of the most secretive companies in the world, and it is unclear if the next iPhone will arrive during an anticipated, late September delivery date with or without the 138 year old headphone jack.

Will you be in the market for a new iPhone this year? Does the prospect of Apple removing the 3.5mm headphone jack appeal to you or do you feel this is a mistake? Does Bluetooth audio work well for you? Do you own a set of wireless headphones that you’re happy with, or do you use them in wired mode, instead?

I’d love to hear from you on this. Why don’t you meet me in the Discussion area, below and tell me what you think?

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My Bluetooth has Cavities

Sometimes, I really wonder why I use so many Bluetooth devices…

bluetoothApple has just released iOS 8.3 Beta 1 to its developer partners. The big push behind iOS 8.3? – Wireless CarPlay connectivity. This is a change to CarPlay, which previously required a cabled, lightning connection to a head unit to function.

CarPlay and iOS 8.3 are obviously going to rely more heavily on Bluetooth Low Energy connections going forward. For me – and I think, a number of actual and potential CarPlay users – this is likely going to prove to be a huge headache.

I’ve got a Pebble Steel, Microsoft Band and a Fitbit Surge. These three smartwatches and activity bands all use BT-LE to communicate with my smartphone – currently an iPhone 6 running iOS 8.1.3. I’ve been experiencing some very serious challenges with Bluetooth connectivity over the last number of years and I’ve come to a very clear and solid conclusion:

Bluetooth just plain sucks.

I’ve had more dropped connections, failed connections, and difficulty pairing devices than I think ANYONE should have to put up with. The technology is supposed to be active seeking, meaning than its supposed to actively find paired devices and when it does find them, activate secured communications between devices that are paired and hold and maintain that connection as long as the two devices are in range.

The problem that I run into, with my:

  • iPhone 6
  • Pebble Steel
  • Microsoft Band
  • Fitbit Surge
  • Kenwood BT952HD Car Stereo
  • Beats Wireless Headset
  • MacBook Pro
  • Apple Magic Mouse
  • iPad 1

and any other wireless device that I’m forgetting to list is that none of them…

NONE

OF

THEM

can maintain any kind of consistent level of Bluetooth connectivity between any of the devices that they’re paired to on a consistent basis. Devices always fail to sync at some point. Active connections are dropped (like, I’m on a phone call in the car and the call I’m actively on drops off the car stereo, but the call itself is still connected to my iPhone; and this happens WHILE I’m driving) without any kind of warning or indication of communications problem.

Paired devices often refuse to connect, requiring Bluetooth radios in either one, the other, or both devices to be turned off for 15-30 seconds and then cycled back on before formerly paired devices may connect. In some severe cases, partnerships have had to be deleted and devices repaired, because no amount of trying, begging, pleading, bargaining or cajoling has gotten them to connect (and then even repairing the devices can be difficult…)

Mercedes-Benz at the Geneva International Auto Show 2014

This is why I was so very interested in CarPlay in my vehicle. It REQUIRED a cabled connection, meaning that I wouldn’t have to argue with the head unit and my iPhone and their potentially fickle relationship any more. The devices would connect when the phone was plugged into the cable, and that would be the end of that. As long as CarPlay continues to support hard wired connections, then I think it will be a good solution for hands free operation in a vehicle. The moment that it moves to wireless communications only, is the day that I think the standard will begin to have some serious problems.

What’s even more infuriating is that they stop and start working seemingly at random and completely on their own. I have no idea at times whether or not the devices I assume are connected are in fact… CONNECTED.

But can someone please help me understand what I’m supposed to do here??

Can someone point me to some sort of “wireless crazy glue” that will insure that Bluetooth connections work as their intended all the time? I know I can’t be the only person having this kind of problem. I’ve learned over time that I can’t just assume that paired devices will connect when they’re supposed to and/ or will stay connected as they’re supposed to when the devices come in range. At best, this is a hit and miss sorta deal, and honestly, Bluetooth needs to be better than this.

When I rely on Bluetooth connections to connected and stay connected after pairing (as long as the devices are in range), this sort of hit and miss crap just can’t be tolerated. I can’t get any of the Continuity features between my Macs and my iPhone to work consistently. I can’t get any of my smartwatches or activity/ fitness bands to consistently sync with my smartphone. I can’t get my smartphone and my car radio to connect and work the way it’s supposed to.

How the heck am I supposed to rely on any of this stuff to work and “improve” my life if the connectivity technology – Bluetooth is full of “cavities?”

I have NO idea what to do…

Are you having issues with Bluetooth or Bluetooth LE? Do your devices drop connections like paparazzi drop names (and flash bulbs)? Do your mission critical Bluetooth applications – your car radio, your fitness band or smartwatch, your wireless headset, etc. – crap out on you when you need them most? Am I missing something that I should be doing, but for some reason am not? What words of wisdom can YOU offer ME? I’d love to hear your thoughts on the whole issue. Why don’t you meet me in the discussion area below and give me your thoughts on the whole ordeal? Lord knows… I could use the help!

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Convert videos for your Mac or favorite iDevice with MacX Video Converter Pro

Convert videos for your Mac or favorite iDevice with MacX Video Converter Pro

MVCP-01

One of the greatest things about modern computing is that the tools to create, transport and convert video – the kind that are of the quality that used to be available only to professionals – are now available to just about everyone. This is largely due to the fact that most of the hardware that common computer users now have access to, is professional grade. With that being the case, tools like MacX Video Converter Pro are a huge asset, as it provides professional processing with consumer level ease of use.

MacX Video Converter Pro is a general purpose Mac video converter that can convert video to any format. It supports MP4, H.264, MPEG, AVI, FLV, MOV, WMV, MP3, AAC, among others. It can also transfer supported HD video formats (AVCHD, M2TS, MKV) with flawless video quality. The app will also download YouTube videos. It will also record your screen, edit videos and allow you to make photo slideshows

The app supports a wide variety of formats and devices. You can convert video to and from iPhone 6/6 Plus, iPad Air 2/Air, iPad Mini 3/Mini with Retina, and Apple TV 3. The app supports files from iTunes and iMovie; and it will also support conversions to and from the HTC Desire 816, Galaxy S5 mini/S5, Galaxy Note 4/Edge, Galaxy Tab S, Amazon Kindle Fire HDX8.9, Google new Nexus 7, Surface Pro 3 as well as the Xperia Z1/ Z2/ Z3, and PS4.

MacX video Converter Pro is a decent desktop converter. Its interface is a bit disappointing to be honest, but its more than made of by the file formats and the the mobile devices it supports. The app works well with consumer based hardware, but is even better with high end hardware. The price is a bit on the high side for today’s desktop app market, but its performance is top notch. If you’re looking for a decent app that will not only download and convert YouTube video, but will also convert video to and from most of the popular mobile devices and video formats, you really will have a hard time finding a better app.

 

Download

 

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Apple DRM Antitrust Suite to Begin

A decade old lawsuit could be a huge problem for Apple…
image3014Back in the day – and I’m really referring to the late 1990’s to the early 2000’s – digital music was a total mess. There was no standardization in terms of file formats, desktop players or portable players. The only thing that WAS clear and pretty much standardized was that no matter where you turned, any digital music you didn’t rip yourself or pirate through tools like Napster, Limewire or some other torrent tool, were clogged with DRM. What that meant was that you couldn’t play it with the app or portable player you wanted to play it with…that is, without having to jump through some pretty nasty hoops.

If pirating wasn’t your thing – which in many cases turned out to be a good thing, because the RIAA is nothing but a group of money grubbing, ugly lawyers out to screw the American public… but I digress – then what you really had to do was buy your music, burn it to a CD and then rerip the songs. This worked with any and every digital music store you purchased digital music from, regardless of what your favorite or default store or app was; or what digital music player you carried. This effectively “stripped” the DRM out of the music, as the DRM didn’t transfer to the new CD you burned, and therefore, wasn’t on the songs you ripped from it. Life was a lot better for you AND the music you bought, as you set it free.

At that point, everyone DELETED the original digital music files they purchased and replaced them with the DRM free ones they just created. It was at THAT point that you copied or transferred them to your portable music player, because at that point…you could copy them to ANY player and play them with ANY desktop music app. Some people were really into WinAmp. Some really liked MusicMatch Jukebox. Some were into Windows Media Player or Apple’s iTunes.

That was a LOT to put on the consumer. It really made us jump through a LOT of hoops; and honestly, not everyone was happy doing it. I did it because it was easy enough for me to do. The only thing that anyone really needed was a blank CD and a bit of time to burn and rerip the music. The technical side of this whole story was wrapped up in the bit rate of the source music files vs. the bit rate of the files you ripped from the CD you burned – which was greater and offered the better quality? The big question for audiophiles here was, “did I just introduce distortion, his or other noise into the music I purchased in order to get around the playing limitations I feel I have?”

However, back in the day – and here I’m talking circa 2005 or so – a lawsuit was filed on behalf of many of the iPod owners, accusing Apple of violating both US Federal and California State antitrust laws by restricting music purchased via iTunes from being played on other digital music players or desktop apps. The suit also accused Apple of restricting iPods from playing music purchased from music services OTHER than iTunes.

Since the suit’s original filing in 2005, a number of changes have been made to the suit. Apple also removed DRM from all music sold via iTunes in 2009, effectively making the issue a moot one from that time forward. One of the major modifications of the suit was to restrict the case to iPods sold between September 2006 and March 2009.

The opening statements in the complaint reference the now defunct Tower Records,

“It would be egregious and unlawful for a major retailer such as Tower Records, for example, to require that all music CDs purchased by consumers at Tower Records be played only with CD players purchased at Tower Records, yet, this is precisely what Apple has done… Apple has rigged the hardware and software in its iPod such that the device will not directly play any music files originating from online music stores other than Apple’s iTunes music store.”

This largely came about because Apple was trying to protect its iPod and iTunes business from Real Networks and Real Player, MusicMatch, and others. Unfortunately for ALL involved, Apple’s iPod was a huge hit, bringing order from the chaos that was digital music at the time. NO ONE (really) wanted any other player, and so Apple did its best to protect their market, and they effectively created a monopoly as far as music and portable music players were concerned.

As I mentioned, the suit has been modified; and now, with its restrictions, is set to get underway on 2014-12-02. We’ll have to wait and see what happens with it. The plaintiffs are asking for $350M USD, though if found guilty and found to have willfully and purposefully violated the law, the award Apple could be required to put up could top $1B USD, according to current antitrust law penalties which specify triple the damage amount.

How does all of this make you feel? Did you buy an iPod between September 2006 and March 2009? Will you be joining this class? Do you feel you were inappropriately restricted in your choice of desktop music apps as well as portable music players? Did you put aside a desktop app or portable music player because it wasn’t Apple or iTunes compatible? Does this lawsuit, even with its modifications and restrictions have any real relevance? Does the burn and rerip option negate the whole suit because it provided for a reasonable work around? Why don’t you join me in the Discussion area below and give me your thoughts? I’d really like to hear what you have to say, as the right information to the right attorneys at this point, could make the difference between a simple settlement and triple the damages.

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