FairUse4WM, will anyone learn this time?

If URGE+Zune doesn't fail for being more of the same, it will fail for URGE's clumsy interface (check out the 14-day trial to see for yourself). But in a smaller way, it will fail because Microsoft is fumbling with their DRM technology once again.

It looks like the cat is finally out of the bag on FairUse4WM, the latest user-friendly tool for stripping Windows DRM from protected WMAs. A month ago, I was fortunate enough to get to test it out before it was released into the wild. The idea of taking an unlimited song subscription for all it's worth should have been more exciting this time around, but I can honestly report a lack of enthusiasm after that first song was successfully stripped of DRM. Don't get me wrong, Vid Endtia has done some amazing work here. Cracking a DRM scheme and implementing your work into an app anyone can use is no small task. Maybe the fact that we've been here before is partly to blame.

But even more so, I was unenthusiastic about the whole thing because I can do better than millions of DRM-stripped WMAs each available to me almost instantly. I can get a -V0 VBR MP3 rip or lossless FLAC rip of any album in the MusicNet library, and well beyond that, just as quickly. USENET. Private BitTorrent trackers. I'll note that people gladly shell out money for them in the form of Usenet subscriptions and private tracker donations, because they offer what people want. They blow old-P2P out of the water, and they offer more than any legal digital music store. But how can any law-abiding company expect to compete with:

In the current copyright climate, they can't.

28 Aug 06 | +Permalink+ | Comments (0)

MP3Toys, my favorite music player for Windows

A few months ago while browsing Last.fm's plugins area, I noticed a player that I had never heard of with built-in Last.fm support, called MP3Toys. I gave it a whirl, became hooked, bought it, and 5 months later here I stand still glued to the thing.

The interface is leaps and bounds above any other music player out there. It is difficult to express this intuitiveness with cheap words; I can only ask you to test drive the beast. It is especially good for people who like albums over single tracks. It just recently began supporting FLAC files as well if you do the lossless thing.

Here are some screenshots I took of it in action since in my opinion the ones on the website don't do it justice.

It is developed by just one guy. He takes user feedback into heavy consideration, which has made the whole experience that much better, getting to see things I suggest implemented into the app. Try suggesting improvements to iTunes and see where that gets you!

Head on over to MP3Toys.net and check it out.

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14 Aug 06 | +Permalink+ | Comments (1)


Imagine, if you will, a mentally handicapped man. In front of him is a wooden puzzle with triangular holes in it. In his hand he tightly grips a square block.

He tries to push the square block into a triangle slot. He looks to you for approval. When you shake your head, he pulls back. Then he sits there for five minutes. And then he tries again to put the square block in the triangular hole. This repeats ad infinitum.

This is Microsoft and almost every other major competitor to the iTunes Music Store so far. They all try the exact same formula to beat iTunes. When it fails, they wait a few months and launch another clone service. The same DRM-laden WMAs. The same MusicNet front end attempting to emulate iTunes. I really don't understand it.

I caught part of Dave Chapelle on Inside The Actor's Studio today. At one point, he said that America is the best country in the world by default, but it could be so much more. It is the same with Apple and music. They get to be the top dog because their service annoys users the least. There is still plenty of room for improvement that competitors should be taking advantage of.

Lossless FLAC/WavPack files really aren't that big. Ideally a service would sell DRM free music that played in any music device you could buy, and ideally it would be a lossless format that you could burn to a CD and have an identical copy of the original disc. But even selling MP3s would be an improvement (*winks at eMusic*).

I know I'm not saying anything new here, but this URGE+Zune thing is right around the corner and it is just more of the same. I see no reason why it won't meet the same fate.

1 Aug 06 | +Permalink+ | Comments (1)