I've had a chance to play around with Zune 2.5, the latest software update to Microsoft's iPod-competitor, and I'm happy to report that all of the basic fixes Microsoft promised, such as the ability to edit song information and sort songs by genre, are there and work as promised. They also fixed a number of other niggling problems--for example, you can now update album art by copying a file (say, an album cover you find on the Web) and pasting it immediately into the Zune software in the appropriate spot; previously, you had to save the … Read more
Microsoft is releasing a major update to its Zune software and online service, and it couldn't have come soon enough.
Most of the headlines will probably focus on Microsoft adding downloadable shows, such as "South Park" and "The Office," to the Zune Marketplace for $1.99--sorry, that's 160 Microsoft Points. (No, they're still not adopting conventional currency. Argh.)
And in my discussions with the Zune team, they seem to be most excited about the new social features. For instance, your friends' Zune cards will now appear on your Zune device, where you'll … Read more
Founded to two MIT Media Lab alums, The Echo Nest is focused on what it calls "music intelligence." The company is developing software technology that can analyze the sounds within music files, text within online articles and blog postings about music, and other online data (such as songs being downloaded in a particular week). It will then license this technology to developers--commercial and non-commercial--to help them create a whole new class of music software and Web applications.
It's possible to imagine hundreds of possibilities. A music company could build an application to identify current trends in order … Read more
Correction: The original post implied that the Church is no longer active. In fact, the band has been touring and putting out albums continuously for almost 30 years, and Tim Powles is still their drummer. Apologies for the mistake.
Modern musical technology makes the world smaller.
Example: Seattle band Half Light are big fans of Australian art-rock band The Church. [Disclosure: I played bass with another incarnation of Half Light in 2004 and 2005 and am still friendly with the band.] Americans of a certain age probably remember The Church's 1987 hit "Under the Milky Way," but … Read more
Last fall, Steve Ball, Microsoft's program manager for sound in Vista, posted a blog entry explaining some of the reasons why Windows audio can be glitchy. (That was supposed to be "Part 1" of a series; we're still waiting for Part 2.)
Today, Guardian writer Tim Anderson picks up the thread with an article called "Why Vista Sounds Worse." In addition to citing Ball's blog posting, he talks to the CTO for Cakewalk (a division of Roland that makes consumer and professional audio software) and an engineer at Steinberg (which makes the popular … Read more
Correction: I originally posted that Qtrax uses MusicIP. According to a PR representative from that company, Qtrax has no deal with MusicIP--the companies have talked, but no deal has been signed. Apologies for not double-checking all my facts.
I was finally able to get the Qtrax 0.2 beta client, and it's clearly based on Songbird.
Songbird defies easy summarization: it's an open-source project, based on the Mozilla platform, that intends to ease the creation of digital media apps. The basic app is a straightforward music library organizer and player (some of Songbird's founders worked on Winamp), … Read more
How does it work? Judge for yourself--these are two songs from old bands on which I played bass (so I have at least a plausible claim to partial copyright). I simply followed the instructions here and here (to insert album covers). Click on the small arrows (after the page break) and they'll play right within the Yahoo Media Player at the bottom left of the page. (Worked for me on Firefox on Windows XP, your mileage may vary!)
Click the 'Read More' button below to listen to the tracks.… Read more
I stopped by the packed Nokia booth at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas to get an update on the Nokia Music Store announced over the summer. It's already online in the U.K. (PC only), with a library of nearly 3 million songs.
The Web-based store looks fairly standard. But according … Read more
Tonight, Bill Gates gave his last CES keynote before retiring from Microsoft. (Prediction: he'll give a keynote again, but probably not next year). Though entertaining and occasionally educational--Windows Live Photo Gallery got some well-deserved spotlight time for its panorama feature--there wasn't much about digital audio in it.
However, the final set piece featured a Guitar Hero III battle between Gates and Microsoft Entertainment and Devices President Robbie Bach. Each brought in a ringer--Bach got a Guitar Hero championship who shredded the introduction to Guns N Roses "Welcome to the Jungle." Gates, never to be trumped, … Read more
At CES a day before it opens, and although I've been able to sneak into some of the exhibition halls with my press pass, security's wised up and closed the others off to all but people setting up. So I spent a few minutes in the Verizon-sponsored portion of the press booth playing with LG's Voyager 10000, a would-be competitor to the iPhone. They're asking $300 plus a two-year contract commitment--that's $99 cheaper than the least-expensive iPhone, but the Voyager comes with much less memory (this one had 300MB on board), so you'll have … Read more