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Goodbye Winamp

Winamp will be no more as of December 20th, 2013.

The once popular, 15 year old mp3 software had been purchased from Nullsoft by AOL in 1999 for $80 million. But the company will discontinue the software next month and is allegedly hoping to sell it to Microsoft, along with the Shoutcast music streaming service.

Although I haven’t used Winamp for over five years, I’m a bit sad to see it go.

Winamp was my favourite mp3 software for years, until iTunes came along for Canada. And I had used it to rip the vast majority of my CD collection even after windows media player offered that ability.

I loved compiling my favourite music to CDs for my multi-disc carousels and I am still listening to music I had ripped a decade back using this software.

Hopefully it’ll find a new home at Microsoft. But I’m guessing it’ll probably be rebranded for the X-Box.

Gift Card Savings

My local Real Canadian Superstore flyer for this week includes a 20% off coupon on various gift cards, including iTunes gift cards.

This coupon, which is available on the flyer and at participating stores on the Gift Center display, expires on November 14th, 2013.

My Thoughts On The Throne Speech

There were quite a few music related  issues mentioned in the throne speech that I’d like to discuss, so here they are in the order presented in the speech :

Government assets

“Our Government will review federal assets; when it is in the best interest of Canadians, they will be sold.”

Unfortunately that may include the CBC/Radio Canada, which has been in the cross hairs for years.

The CBC/Radio Canada has remained a constant for the promotion of Canadian music so its loss to another major network would be felt through-out Canada. And I’m hoping that the support shown during the recent CRTC hearings will keep the CBC/Radio Canada going. But I suspect the current government will cut into this public broadcaster’s budget again soon.

Heather Conway will be the new executive vice-president of English-language services at the CBC in a few weeks so we should know CBC’s fate soon.

Cable/Wireless

“Our Government will take steps to reduce roaming costs on networks within Canada. Our Government believes Canadian families should be able to choose the combination of television channels they want. It will require channels to be unbundled, while protecting Canadian jobs.”

A deduction on wireless roaming fees would be great. But I have some doubt in regards to the reduction of cable fees through unbundling.

Yes, it would be more convenient to choose which channels you want. But will choosing individual channels result in lower monthly bills for the average consumer ?

The providers have been hiking their rates significantly higher than the rate of inflation, claiming the expansion of their services justified these rates. And I suspect they will fight any reduction tooth and nail until their industry is eventually decimated by online broadcasting.

The CRTC will be holding public hearings on the future of Cable and Satellite television, starting on the 24th of this month, and I’m sure Canadian consumers will make it abundantly clear that it’s time to move on.

I, for one, will probably only have an antenna and internet access in four to five years if they don’t get their hikes under control.

Rural Internet

“Our Government will continue enhancing high-speed broadband networks for rural Canadians.”

Good news but I just hope the rates will be more reasonable. There definitely needs to be a reduction in price to make these services more affordable to the average Canadian consumer.

I would hate having to download music and stream music videos using the very limited speeds found in some rural communities. And with cutbacks at Canada Post access will become essential.

At Par Purchasing ?

“And our Government will take additional action to protect Canadian consumers. Canadians are tired of hidden fees. They deserve to know the real cost of paying by debit or credit card. And they should not be charged more in Canada for identical goods that sell for less in the United States.”

When I purchase books I mostly purchase music biographies, industry books and sheet music. But I’ve pretty much given up on purchasing books in my local book stores because of the higher Canadian sticker prices.

I don’t think the industry can be helped now because of the e-Book, which is much more convenient. But it could help people who prefer paperbacks, like yours truly.

My most recent paperback purchase was Belinda Carlisle’s Lips Unsealed: A Memoir, whose regular price is $17 in Canadian book stores but $15 in American book stores.

The difference in price is usually attributed to higher labour and transportation costs but many consumers have been questioning whether this is a valid argument since our dollar got strong.

Seriously, if it weren’t for the shipping costs I’d probably buy more from the states and several Americans companies have already started offering free shipping to Canadians. The Canadian retailers definitely need to get their prices down.

The prices on compact discs and DVDs/Blu-rays are o.k but when it comes to imports I can still find better deals outside of Canada, even with shipping & handling.

For example, I just imported Belinda Carlisle’s “Heaven On Earth" and "Runaway Horses" CD/DVD boxed sets from England for $35, shipping and handling included. These British releases would have cost me at least $42 to purchase in Canada, with free shipping but taxes not included.

I don’t know what measures can be taken to help this situation on the federal level. But as a consumer I’d appreciate lower costs.

I’m sure rural Canadians would enjoy an elimination of the fees associated to paper billing proposed in this speech. But I’m guessing public consultations will probably be required for most of these changes.

I will of course post additional details on these issues as they come along.

Bloomberg Confirms Apple’s Plans

Bloomberg has confirmed that Apple will be expanding their iTunes Radio services to both Canada and the U.K early next year.

DVD To Digital

I’ve just noticed a neat feature at Cinemanow Canada. A Disc to Digital conversion service that allows people to add their DVDs to their Ultraviolet accounts, either in standard definition or high definition.

The Disc to Digital menu option can now be found on their new player software, which is compatible with the latest Windows and Mac operating systems.

To add a title to their online collection all a person needs to do is to insert a DVD into their computer’s CD-Rom or Blu-ray player and click on a button to receive an option to purchase a standard definition version for $2 or high definition version for $5.

Individuals who have unlimited internet and stream HD movies now have a relatively cheap way to up-convert their DVDs. But it should be noted that this program is relatively new so the titles are limited and I’ve encountered a glitch that I’ve just emailed Cinemanow Canada about.

I don’t know if this happens to any other DVD or if it’s a glitch limited to my Windows 7 machine. But my Spider-Man DVD registers as being “burned” when it is actually an authentic DVD. I purchased it new from a major retailer.

Blu-ray discs are not yet supported. But I’m assuming they’re working on this. And many titles already have free Ultraviolet codes on them, though I recommend you redeem them as soon as possible because some of them have expiry dates.

Legal Music Download Listing Updated

I’ve just added a few entries to my Music/Video/Book Downloads listing. Hope you enjoy it.