Tech – for Everyone

Tech Tips and Tricks & Advice – written in plain English.

A Quick Word About Torrents & DRM-free Music

I received a note from a reader that got me a bit hot under the collar for a moment. It was in regards to a comment I made in yesterday’s Internet radio article (see, Music Radio For Your Phone (or Blackberry)(or PC)) .. specifically, “no, I do not purchase tunes“.

The writer presumed that indicated that I am like everyone else in the free world (apparently) and used a “file sharing” program (commonly called “Torrents”) and they inquired as to which one I liked best and recommend… uTorrent? eDonkey? LimeWire?

My first thought was, clearly they are new to the site. My second was a realization that I have not mentioned this in some time now. Perhaps the time is right to say it again.

  • I cannot tell you the exact number of times, but I can tell you the percentage is quite high, that when I am called in to remove a “virus”, I will find a “file sharing program” installed on that machine. Cyber criminals like to plant trojans in files, and then “seed” the torrent sites with them. And they lose no sleep.. as you are trying to get something for nothing yourself.
  • “File sharing” is (in my mind, anyway) synonymous with “stealing”. I don’t steal.

So there you have it: it’s risky and “quasi-legal” (at best). I don’t do it. And anyone who asks me about torrents will get a copy of this article. (Can you guess? I do not recommend it?)

So where do I get my songs? (aka “today’s free download:”) Well, I “digitized” my records and tapes using a “Y” cable (to my stereo)($3) and the editing program Audacity (free).

“Audacity is an open source audio editor that is available for several platforms (including Windows, Mac, and Linux/Unix). It is one of the most popular free audio editors in use today mainly due to its excellent set of tools. As well being compatible with MP3, WAV, AIFF, and OGG file formats you can use Audacity to record live audio, and convert analog audio such as tapes.”

But if I had it to do over again, I would get a USB turntable.

Alternatively, I would use a legal music service. And, I would buy the DRM-free versions of the songs. Instead of reinventing the wheel, I will point you to an article, titled: Buy Music Unfettered by Digital Rights Management

Competition is now wide open for these interoperable music files. Besides iTunes, millions of DRM-free files are available from Amazon, Rhapsody, Napster, Zune, eMusic, and others. But each store has its own benefits and limitations: price, file quality, selection, and other quirks. Here’s how they all stack up in the DRM-free download world.”  Read more..

I know. 99% of you are LMAO-ing. What?! Buy music???!!!

Yes.

Pay for it if you want it. The fact that “everyone is doing it” (torrents/file “sharing”) does not make it right.

Related: How To Digitize Your Old (Analog) Movies, Music, and Photos

Today’s quote:Character is doing the right thing when nobody’s looking. There are too many people who think that the only thing that’s right is to get by, and the only thing that’s wrong is to get caught. ~ J.C. Watts

Copyright 2007-2011 © “Tech Paul” (Paul Eckstrom). All Rights Reserved.


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July 27, 2011 Posted by | computers, cyber crime, digital music, Internet | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

News Items: Death of Web Radio, ISP Spying

A couple of recent tech headlines have caught my eye, and because of their dire implications, I thought I should pass them on to you.

Loyal readers may remember that a year ago now I wrote about the “day of protest” and the Internet Radio Equality Act which was vital to the future of free, public Internet radio and webcasters. (to read my article, click here.)

Today’s title is premature, but not by much. The Copyright Royalty Board ruling that we were warned about is set to take effect. This is all about DRM and “protecting artists”, and so an obscure Federal judge is going to change our current ability to listen to music. Forever.

Pandora is one of the nation’s most popular Web radio services, with about 1 million listeners daily. Its Music Genome Project allows customers to create stations tailored to their own tastes. It is one of the 10 most popular applications for Apple’s iPhone and attracts 40,000 new customers a day. Yet the burgeoning company may be on the verge of collapse, according to its founder, and so may be others like it.

“We’re approaching a pull-the-plug kind of decision,” said Tim Westergren, who founded Pandora. “This is like a last stand for webcasting.”
To read the rest of this Washington Post article, click here.

Your ISP is spying on you:
The second headline probably really won’t surprise anyone — there’s a lot of people watching our surfing habits, and developing profiles on us (for the purposes of bringing us “more relevant” ads). I almost ignored it, as the lead paragraph wasn’t all that shocking..
Cable One last fall conducted a six-month trial of a network-based technology that tracks consumers’ Internet movements in an effort to amass refined data on Web-surfer habits that can be sold to advertisers at premium rates.

But I was intrigued.. what did they mean by “network technology”??? Then I did get shocked and alarmed.

Someone has decided that the firewall technology known as DPI (“deep packet inspection”) may as well be used for full data mining of the traffic flowing through the service provider. Evil, evil someone.

You see, DPI is a method that can see through encryption. It is used for security purposes as it can read every word going over the wire and look for viruses and malware, and sensitive corporate data.

Basically, those Cable One customers had every word they typed read and recorded.. every website they visited.. and any attempts they made at maintaining their privacy (using proxies, anonymizers, or encryption) were foiled at the wire.
To read the whole article, click here.

It’s for better advertising! Yay!
[Attention advertisers: Haven’t you figured out that we ignore you? What do you think the mute button is for? The TiVo? AdBlocker software? Stop wasting your money! You’ve all been duped into believing a huge fallacy.]

Today’s free link: is a repeat, it’s the word “Pandora”, above.

Copyright 2007-8 © Tech Paul. All rights reserved.
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August 19, 2008 Posted by | advice, computers, Internet, News, privacy, security, tech | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments