That’s Why They Call it Yahoo

In an article that coincides with the iPod’s fifth birthday (tomorrow), the Washington Post has an article today about the topsy-turvy world of digital music.

Ah, progress. It used to be that you just went out and bought a compact disc and you didn’t have to worry about whether it would work on your player.

These days, in the age of digital distribution, we don’t need to buy CDs anymore. What we have, instead, are a bunch of online music services, offering songs for sale or rent via quick download to a bunch of digital music players that might or might not actually play them.

The article is helpful overview of some of the “messy” issues involved in the multiple incompatible players and formats, but it includes a quote from Yahoo Music’s director of product management, Ian Rogers, that I think is way out of line.

He said he hopes today’s protected file formats will eventually go the way of the Betamax videotape or other, now-obsolete music formats.

“I feel for anybody spending $10,000 to fill up an iPod today,” he said. “It’s like spending $10,000 on eight-track tapes in 1978: You’re going to be super-bummed come 1990.”

Bad analogy, Mr. Rogers. I’m willing to bet that maintaining backward compatibility with AAC files on computers or whatever new devices Apple invents won’t be an issue. If Microsoft has kept Windows compatible with earlier versions for a decade, doing the same for DRM music files will be relatively simple.

Everyone who is concerned has the ability to burn their music and back up to CD files today, for maybe a nickel a song. I’m not going to take the time to do that, because I’m betting I will be able to play my files on some device for the rest of my life. Those 8-tracks, on the other hand…

The reason everyone laughs at the “8-track” punch line is no one makes a device anymore that can play them. It requires a physical manufacturing of a special device. That’s not true for digital files.

What it comes down to is Apple has been able to bridge the gap between the pirates and the copyright holders, and has staked out a position that is eminently reasonable for people who want to follow the law and share fairly.

For some newer bands, copy protection hasn’t been an issue. They thrive of the viral nature of the net, and want their music to get broad distribution outside of the major record labels. But Apple’s important contribution was to put the seal of legitimacy on digital music, so that the big current hits are available in the same location as those in the Long Tail.

Check out these other related Post features from its section entitled, “The iPod Turns 5”

Changing Her Tune on Apple’s iPod
Digital, Our Song for the Ages
Music Store Cold War
iPod Jeers and Cheers

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The Downside of Power Windows

My flight home last night on Northwest was mostly uneventful. I wish the same could be said of the drive home from the airport.

On the way from MSP to Austin, I stopped at the McDonald’s in Lakeville, Minn. for some sustenance (since all I got on the flight was a $2 can of Pringle’s.)

MSP to Austin

I rolled down (well, I guess that would be the old-fashioned way of describing it, as you will soon see) my window to pay, and as I pulled away, was met with a surprise. You can see the reenactment below (along with footage of the outside of our home that illustrates the blessings of our small-town life.) The total time for this video is one minute.


The 40 degree ride with the window open (and the car’s heater turned on full blast) lasted about an hour and 10 minutes. As Steve Martin would say, though, it seemed more like three hours and 28 minutes.

If anyone can give me pointers on what the problem with our ’96 Chevrolet Lumina’s power windows might be, I would appreciate it. Is it a fuse? Something more serious? It would be great if I could get this fixed this weekend instead of having to take the car into the shop.

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Google Buys YouTube

In a press release today, Google announced that it had agreed to buy YouTube for $1.65 billion in stock. This is an amazing amount, given the reality that YouTube has been giving away storage and bandwidth to create a huge community. I don’t know how YouTube makes money, or even if it does. It looks like, given Google’s ad program based on keyword searches, this will eventually become an advertising-supported community.

As you can see here, and here, and here, and here, I’ve been using YouTube for a few weeks, and I have been amazed at how easy it is to set up and use.

I haven’t really explored that much using YouTube channels, or groups, or anything else other than uploading videos to incorporate into this blog. OK, I have watched a few of the Diet Coke and Mentos videos, and the guy on NBC’s Today show after recording his attempt to Cancel AOL.


The fact that this is so easy to incorporate into a blog, to convert almost any video file format to Flash, and it’s all free, means it is going to continue to be used a lot. People have uploaded something like 100 million videos, if I remember correctly. It’s interesting to consider whether these gathering places will be important as ways for information providers to get their offerings “out there.”

Insurers Starting to Cover MD-Patient E-mails

Today’s Minneapolis Star Tribune (registration required) has an interesting article on e-visits to the physician’s office and a new trend for some insurers to begin covering them.

Some of Minnesota’s largest health care providers, including HealthPartners and Blue Cross and Blue Shield, are beginning to cover e-visits between doctors and patients, an unusual step nationally and an attempt in part to contain exploding health care costs.

Under the plans, patients pay the same co-pay as they would for an office visit, and doctors get reimbursed about $35 for each patient e-mail that they respond to. Some experts say such e-visits could yield billions of dollars a year in savings, as well as cut down on time and travel for patients with routine medical issues.

“It certainly is very helpful,” said Dr. Michael Ainslie, chairman of the Minnesota Medical Association and a pediatric endocrinologist at Park Nicollet Clinic in St. Louis Park. “I don’t think it will ever take the place of a one-on-one interview, but I think it will be a useful tool.”

Dr. Ronald Petersen on TODAY


Originally uploaded by LeeAase.

Dr. Ronald Petersen, a Mayo Clinic neurologist, was on NBC’s TODAY show this morning discussing prospects for a cure of Alzheimer’s Disease. This is part of a TODAY series on how far medical science is from cures for various diseases. Research from several other institutions was featured in the set-up piece, and Dr. Petersen, who was President Ronald Reagan’s physician, provided the overall perspective as the in-studio guest with Matt Lauer.

Dr. Petersen leads the Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center at Mayo Clinic and has extensive on-camera experience, both live in-studio and satellite interviews with broadcast networks as well as taped interviews for produced segments.