Publicity on the ASCAP Issue

Check out this story in the Florida Today

I came across this story and it just reminds me how infuriating this royalties issue is to me.  It’s great to see that an organization set up to protect the songwriters is really screwing up other song-writers and artists.  This goes back to what I blogged about last month, and how important covers are to establishing bands.  Greenfoot is lucky that we have enough original music to be able to keep us afloat, but I know there are going to be times where we’re going to be burned by not being able to play covers.

This article does a really good job highlighting the issues with trying to keep in compliance with these policies, and how companies like ASCAP, BMI, and SESAC seem to go out of their way to make it difficult for smaller venues looking to support live music.  They don’t really make any apologies about it either.

I agree with one of the bar owners when he says, “It’s extortion, it’s intimidating. It’s such a scam.”

Technorati tags: ASCAP, BMI, SESAC, musicians, cover songs

Making the Treo switch – Palm to Windows Mobile

In April of 2006 I joined the smart phone craze, and got a Palm Treo 650 (along with making the switch from Cingular to Verizon).  I had owned a PocketPC since 2000 and had a cell phone since 2001, and was looking at this as an opportunity to consolidate devices.  I loved having a smart phone, especially the ability to go on the Internet (I actually have a bad habit of playing with my phone too much, but that’s another story).

However, one of the reasons my 650 was affordable was because newer models took over the top tier of Treos.  The more I used my phone, the more I realized how outdated it was becoming.  It was on the slower data network, there seemed to be an unavailability of software choices for the Palm, and the OS was really frustrating me.  It was really pretty, but was prone to rebooting at random times for no reason at all.  From some of the news I was hearing, it sounded like Palm was slowing development and updates on their OS.  From the way I felt the wind blowing, it seemed like time to jump ship.  Unfortunately Verizon wouldn’t offer any kind of device discounts (since it hasn’t been 2 years), so I went looking on eBay and picked up a refurbished 700w.

I’m about a month in from using the device and making the switch wanted to share my experience on a few things.

  • The Hardware: It’s funny just how similar the Treo 650 and 700 are.  Aside from subtle cosmetic differences (the 700’s buttons are a little more square), they’re essentially identical.  This is helpful because I now have a spare Treo battery, as well as 2 sync cables.  I’d also imagine I could raid the other phone for parts if need be as well (although I haven’t cracked the case on the old one)
  • Data Transfer: The 700w (and 700p for that matter) are now EV-DO capable, and compared to the data speeds on my 650 – it’s night and day, definitely worth the price of the upgrade alone.  Now I don’t feel ripped off when I’m paying my data plan bill each month.  As someone who uses the Treo as a PDA more than a phone, I appreciate this feature the most.
  • The Software: This is probably where I set my expectations too high.  I used Windows PocketPC from 2000-2006, and during that time there was a plethora software available.  While that still seems to be the case, there are slim offerings when it comes to software needed to accomplish my tasks:
    • MS Money: Microsoft has all but abandoned their integration from Windows Mobile 5 into MS Money.  The fact that they’re the same company and can’t support their software across all of their devices is appalling.  This was the biggest shock in this migration.  When I was on Palm I moved over to Quicken and was using a utility called Pocket Quicken.  I had to do a “slide-grade” from the Palm OS over to the Windows Mobile, and they did charge me upgrade pricing – a bummer, but understandable. The Windows Mobile version actually works better than the Palm version.
    • There doesn’t seem to be a good CBR (comics reader) application, bummer
    • IMPlus is a pretty decent IM utility, although I still miss Verichat.
    • NewsBreak is a fantastic RSS reader application
    • I had to reconfigure my home machine for Remote Desktop so I could use the Terminal Server utility built into Windows Mobile.  I still use VNC for remote administration from my laptop & browser, so both are running side-by-side.  I previously used Palm VNC on my 650.
  • The Phone Experience: This has been a step back.  I’m not sure if it’s because I’m using a refurb unit, but when I make/answer calls, sometimes the phone just randomly mutes the mic.  I’ve done some reading and found out this is a common issue (with no fix of course), so that is annoying to say the least.  The Bluetooth works craptacular, and I went through 2 headsets to try to clear up the static – it turns out that’s a known issue as well.  Lastly, the phone doesn’t manage it’s memory very well. I don’t even know if the Palm device has a memory manager, but I never needed it.  On the 700w I’ve found myself completing each task with a trip to the memory manager to purge all running programs.  Palm/MS seemed to realize this and have the 700wx with a ton of RAM, but that was out of my price range for a short-term replacement.

Overall, I’m willing to put up with the minor annoyances to enjoy the EV-DO experience. The phone is far from perfect, but it does what I need it to do, and for $200 it’s a good geek replacement.  I’ll be counting down the days until my “new device discount” date, and will be looking forward to seeing what’s available in 2008.

Pictures from a fun week

This week I have taken a bunch of pictures from two really fun events.  The first the John Butler Trio & Spearhead concert at Red Rocks on Saturday.  I was surprised to see some of the shots that the Casio “concert sneaking” camera took:


See the pictures on Flickr.

I also have pictures from the Rockies game on Tuesday.  I also managed to get a few cool fireworks shots as well:


See the pictures on Flickr.

Another way to screw football fans – rivals + preseason tickets

I came across an interesting story today in the Star Tribune, that talks about the Minnesota Vikings’ plan to boost their preseason ticket sales.  This year, for their single-game ticket sales, if you want to buy tickets to their home games against their biggest rivals (the Bears and Packers), you can only do so with a special “two-game mini-pack”.  However, these aren’t just any two games – they’re the two preseason games.  Worse yet, you don’t get any discount, you basically are buying tickets to two games.

If you’ve never been to a preseason NFL game, it’s pretty much night & day when compared to a regular season game.  I wouldn’t say they’re unwatchable – If you’re interested in seeing the younger players and the new talent, then they are exciting to watch.  Are they worth the regular season ticket price – of course not.

As a season ticket holder, the preseason games are included in your price (of course, at full price).  I usually try to give away the preseason games, and I believe I’ve once just ate the cost and haven’t gone.  They’re usually at weird times (like at Thursday at 6pm), and it’s a bit of a strange atmosphere.

Still the NFL seems content in ramming these preseason games down their fans throats.  It’s bad enough that the teams have 4 preseason games (2 of those being home games), but to have the audacity to charge you a full regular season price is simply highway robbery.  For the Vikings to exploit their fans with this “2 pack” deal is an outrage.

If the NFL wants to drive interest an attendance to their preseason games, they need to make changes:

  • Reduce the number of preseason games from 4 to 2.  Many teams already pair up with another NFL team for camp scrimmages.  The Broncos have done it with their JV tea—I mean the Texans- in the past.
  • Reduce the prices of the tickets, make them affordable to your NFL fans that maybe can’t afford to bring their family to a regular season game.  You would bring in a lot of people who are passionate and excited about being at those games, and would make it a great time to bring the kids.
  • Ideally – separate the preseason tickets away from the regular tickets for the season ticket holders.  I realize this likely won’t happen, but a great alternative would be to reduce the prices, then give season ticket holders the option to defer those tickets to charity.  I would definitely give a 1/2 price ticket away if it meant someone from the Boys & Girls club or big-brother/big-sister could come see a game, rather than going to a game I don’t want to be at and may not even show up.  This would make the season ticket holders feel good and also be a win with the community.

The NFL is by far the most successful and profitable sports league in the nation and do many things right – but they still have a lot of room for improvement when it comes to pick-pocketing their fans.

Technorati tags: nfl, football, preseason, broncos, vikings