Site update….

If you are regular visitor to this blog you may have noticed one or two little changes..

The first change that I have made is the Theme, I have found a theme on the site that is more pleasing to the eye than previously was the case. I hope that you like the result that you now see. I may add one or two other features but at the moment I see no need and judging from some comments others agree.
Talking of comments, another change as been the addition of a comment page. The reason for this is that people have been putting comments on posts that are irrelevant to the post so Please Put Any Comment You Wish To Make on That Page! Please restrict comments for posts as being related to the subject only. I thought this would be obvious but many people don’t seem to be thinking when they write and it wastes my time.

The future looks rosy!

Tech is constantly changing and so will this blog….I already have a small number of article/posts in draft that require graphics, checking,etc and these will appear over the coming weeks but I am working away so my time is restricted. These cover ebooks and ideas which I wish to try as well getting stuff to work and one or two things which I wish to bring to peoples attention…such as Nightingale 1.12 which  as just been released but is causing me trouble.

Talking of the future, I am still concerned that the user is being ignored and their rights abused by the corporations. Therefore I am going to investigate ways of making sure that my machines are for my benefit and no one else. This may including hacking stuff to ensure that there is no outside influence controlling my machines. This may include a custom ROM for my phone…honestly, who wants Facebook and other social networking 24/7?



Is the PC really on its way out?

I have felt the inspiration to write this to give my opinion concerning PC’s and the apparent down turn in sales. There as recently been a spate of articles stating that PC sales are down and that the days of the PC are gone or going. I have a feeling that Steve Jobs may have influenced a few minds by saying something about a post PC world. Sure, I accept that sales are down. Go into any PC store or big place like Currys/PC world and you’ll see part of the real reason….theres hardly anyone in there. Although the reason for this emptyness may be that people are at home on their PC’s doing their shopping.
Some of the reasons I think there is a down turn in the sales of these machines is that there are a number of factors involved. I don’t pretend to know it all on this subject but I am wondering if one of the reasons is that no one has the money for a new machine at the moment and making do with what they already have. In the case of PC’s, those who are going to use one have one or more already and don’t want or need any more, the market may simply have reached the point of saturation. I think this sales down turn would have come sooner or later and its actually happening now. I really cann’t think why the manufacturers can expect the huge sales they had before to keep going for ever.  Thinking about it, I wonder what the sales of PC parts are like at the moment. People may be building or more likely repairing what they already have (like what I am going to do…possibly).

I don’t think that the use of the PC (I’m talking the desktop specifically now) is going to be dead any time soon. Many people will be going mobile for sure, thats the nature of the world today with the lives that we lead. I feel that there is a lot that cannot simply be done on tablets and phones…such as effective photo management, writing documents, searching the web for books, music and loads of other things. I have tried, phones and tablets are just a pain for actually working on and being productive. I prefer my laptop and when it was working, my desktop. One of the reasons behind this way of thinking is that you have a nice big screen so you can actually see what you are doing and along with a decent key board and mouse I can actually be productive. You also have offices and other places of work which require desktops/laptops for various tasks such as GIS and other professional tools. Tablets will not be able to cope with these tasks for quite a while yet, unless someone comes up with a processor powerful enough to cope. Besides, who wants to look at a tiny little screen all day and go home with eye strain. Back to the machine with the big screen again.


Music Streaming Options in a Linux World

I have been a avid buyer and listener of music for many years, starting with vinyl through CD’s and now using streaming services. I started with Lastfm several years ago and used it on and off since with an increase in use the past couple of years and because I value this service so I subscribe. However, recent changes which have slowly been creeping in with some functions disappearing I have been wondering just what is happening to it and if it is actually going to stay. The reason for this, is that many people in other countries have lost the service ‘due to licencing’. I am actually thinking there is more to it such as lack of funding because there is now a culture that says that music should be free. I personalty believe in paying for music, either by subscription or putting up with advertising. I still like to buy music either on vinyl, CD or downloads because this supports the bands to allow them to make more music (and life?).

I have found many excellent bands using streaming services such as Lastfm and now spotify as well as podcasts. So what options are there?

For now I am sticking to Lastfm because I like the service it provides but the reliability with radio content not always there or just plain not working…so what are the alternatives?

I have been trying other streaming services recently. The first I tried was, I tried this site 3 or 4 years ago just after it started but everything about it has gone quiet for quite sometime but it is still going. It is OK but I haven’t found it to be what I wanted so the search continued.

Next was, I pretty much liked this site but found it a pain to change the radio everytime I signed in due to the bookmark….I actually found it a pain to keep changing stuff everytime I logged in and it didn’t keep my preferred radio very well.

Next up was Deezer which I tried a few weeks ago, again it was alright but again didn’t fit the bill but (and I may be wrong), its a young site but one to watch. The reason is that it just didn’t play the music that I wanted all the time with stuff creeping in that I didn’t want or like. More skips than any where before.

Then, yesterday I tried Grooveshark, I think I may have tried this before but the website design put me off. I was pleasantly pleased with this site and may stick with them on and off. They played what I wanted and it was easy to use. Also, it is possible to scrobble to lastfm so I can keep that going.

The site that has impressed me the most this week in testing has been Spotify. The reason is that the last time I tried them setting up the player on a linux system was a pain for two reasons. The first was that to use the free option with adverts was to use the windows player with wine and didn’t work very well at all….to many extra bits to install just to listen to music for the restricted time. Secondly, at the time there was also a linux app but only if you subscribed and I wasn’t going to subscribe to use an app that was in Alpha! So I didn’t bother for some time…till yesterday. The linux app is now more Beta than anything and can be used by none subscribers. I found it installs easy on my Linux Mint set up (Fedora machine not available) and works really well. You can also easily add ‘apps’ to add other functions, such as which works fine. It is possible that I may subscribe to the service at some point but streaming on my phone cann’t be trusted and unreliable at present….a requirement because I work away and its not worth £10 a month if I’m not going to use it a lot. It appears that Spotify as a lot to offer and I only touched the surface when I checked it out. Watch this space, so they say.

When it comes to my own music, I use google music which arrived in the UK late last year. Its OK but the app is rather large for phones with restricted memory and requires wifi or reliable phone signal. Its appears to be a good way to back up your digital music but I haven’t had time to fully investigate/research this service.

So what other alternatives are there?

In the US there is Pandora but its not available in Europe and other places without much mucking about with proxies which I cann’t be bothered with.

So what do you use? I welcome other suggestions via the comment box. It would be nice to list all the choices in one location so you don’t have to search forums etc.