I’ve subscribed to listen.com, a.k.a. Rhapsody. For about $100 a year you get unlimited music, legally. They don’t have absolutely everything, but they do have the five major labels and there’s really tons of stuff to listen to. One day I played every recorded work by Cat Stevens. Now I’m working through Gary Numan and Orchestra Manouevres in the Dark. Oh, wait, there’s the new Tori Amos CD. Click! The UI is much better than anything Napster/KaZaa/Gnutella had, it’s especially easy to find new things to listen to because everything is nicely cross-indexed and reviewed. If you can’t figure out what to play, you can listen to a preprogrammed radio station, fast forwarding through any songs that bore you, and when you find something you like you can listen to the whole album, other recordings by the same artist, recordings by artists who influenced that artist, and on and on.
The service works extremely well. Songs start playing in seconds and get downloaded quickly in the background; unlike the streaming services there are never “hiccups.” (To be fair, I’m using a T1 at work from Savvis which is extremely reliable).
Finally, the recording industry (under extreme duress) has given us a reasonable way to pay for digital music. Yes, things are missing (Madonna!) but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth $100 a year for access to 15,000 good albums.
Cool new stuff
Dave’s Google whatchamacallit keeps getting better and better. It’s the command line for the world wide web. It shows the time and date when idling, so you can turn off your toolbar clock and save real estate. There are zillions of command line options now. I use it to find articles on Joel on Software … type “joel schedules!” (the ! means “I’m feeling lucky”) and the article pops up in a new window.