Ok, so legitimately, they have a right to do it.   But legitimately, I have a right to be cranky that they did it.  So I'm going to kvetch.

Amazon sent an email where they explained to me that they are altering the terms of their free Cloud Player.  Up until now, the Cloud Player and Cloud driver were kind of linked as one thing.  Going forward....well I'll get to that in a moment.

Now, on the positive, it appears as if with the new improvements that Amazon will automagically check your purchased and imported files and will automatically register a high quality version of the song on your account for you.  How they do this magic in the background?  No damn idea.  But it's supposed to be super cool that it does this, and the improved quality will blow you away.  Or not.  Frankly, I haven't noticed one iota of difference so far.  

Now for the bad.  In the previous incarnation, my Cloud Player/Drive combo granted me 5 GB of free space to use in whichever way I fancied.  Doesn't sound like much, but I think I've used up less than 10% of that so far.  Oh, and by purchasing at least one album through Amazon MP3s, they bumped that space up to 20 GB.  Which I'm using decidedly less of.   Sounds good.  Reasonable limits all, since disk space is pretty cheap these days.   So I spent some time, took out my relatively meager CD collection and started to covert to MP3.   This seemed smart to me in any case, so that if I lose or scratch my CDs, I'll still have a copy.  I haven't yet managed to get everything "burned" and uploaded yet.  But I've got enough to have almost 1200 songs.   It takes up less than 1 GB of space.  Not a lot right?   Should be no big deal for me to maintain that.  Pretty much all new music I'm getting these days are from Amazon MP3.  So, that makes life easy for me, since you don't have to worry about storage costs on the music you buy through them.   The catch?  Starting September 1st, free accounts can only upload a max of 250 total songs.   Wow.

So my choices are: re-buy stuff I own from Amazon MP3, and those songs don't count against my limit.  Or pay the annual fee and then I can upload up to 250,000 songs?!?!   Now look, the annual fee is not much.  And if bumps up my Cloud Storage to I think 50 GB of space for the same annual fee.   Which is cool.  But ouch.  And this is a separate charge from Prime membership.  So, if you want that too, you're paying out a lot.  Meh.   If they had a level in between that was incorporated into Prime, that would be one more benefit that would get me to pay for Prime.

Of course Amazon has a right to modify their agreement.  And I can be cranky about that, but in the end, I never paid anything to make use of it.   From my perspective, I like it because I can listen to my music anywhere I have internet access, and I don't have to lug around a dedicated device for it.  Alternatively, as long as I have my Android phone, I have access to all my music without having to use up a ton of the (somewhat) limited space for music.  Which is nice.  And since I tend to prefer to have music playing while I write....it's good to have it stored in the cloud so I can access what I'm in the mood for whenever and wherever I choose to set down words.  Especially if I go through the trouble to set up some theme play lists.  Will I cave and pay up?  I don't know yet.  Still pondering.  

But it just goes to show, that when you use or rely on any Cloud type service, you leave yourself at least in part to the mercy of the vendor.   All these vendors hide into their terms things like: "We may amend the Agreement at our sole discretion by posting the revised terms in the Service..."  And by hiding I mean including such clauses somewhere in the text past the first four lines of the service agreement.   Some number approaching 0% of us ever actually bother to read through line by line the entire service agreement on most of these services we sign up for.   Which is why from time to time, you get big internet hooplas about some service provider or other having a horrible bit of text in the code of their licensing agreement that makes everyone panic and think that said vendors are trying to steal all their Intellectual Property.   But invariably, they all include such a phrase, and invariably they do change the terms.  When that happens some of us get upset.  Some of us choose to take our business elsewhere, and the rest just go along as if nothing big had ever happened.  Which, excepting this little rant, is probably where I'll be in another week.   Life's too short to get up in arms over the fact that corporations are trying to figure out new and better ways to fleece us of our money.

So what about you?  Do you use an online music service of any kind?  Which one?  Why do you prefer them?


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Today is 100th anniversary of the birth of jazz legend Benny Goodman.

Benny Goodman is the reason I became a clarinetist.  When I was in second grade, my family was watching the movie "The Benny Goodman Story" and I got so taken by the idea of playing clarient that I wouldn't stop talking about it.  My older sister Sue happened to play clarient, and so she let me try to play a bit, and I puttered around for a while on her instrument.  If you've never heard someone who has never played clarient before try, imagine a sick goose hacking and coughing while honking.   Yeah, that's about how I sounded, but I was hooked.  When it came time to choose an instrument for the school orchestra, clarinet it was.  My older sister got a new one, and I got her old one.  That was fine with me.  I played and practiced, and didn't do too bad a job.  By the time I hit Junior High there were only two guys in the clarinet section.  Me and vinny Pagan.  Now folks might have had no problem deriding me for being a guy playing a "girl's" instrument (I might have known who Benny Goodman was, but in the early 80's big band jazz was not something most young kids knew), but no one talked smack to Vinny, which probably saved me from a lot of gruff.  It would have been tough to give me lip about that, sitting right next to Vinny.

By 8th grade, I was offered the chance to switch over to the bass clarinet, and frankly as someone who had been sliding down a bit in the seating, I went for it.  That year would be the only year I marched with the bass clarinet in marching band.  After that, I'd split my time between clarinet for concert season, then percussion for marching season.  (Mainly bass drum.)  I liked the bass clarinet, as an instrument it has an amazing range and versatility, and at an octave lower than the "standard" clarient (properly the soprano clarinet) I often found the tone more pleasing, and the parts I was getting rarely went up into the third register change.  By 10th grade, I was given the chance to change instruments again, and I took up the Contra-alto clarient.  This was the first time I was no longer playing a Bb instrument, and the change was a bit weird for me.  At the time it was referred to as the Eb Contra-bass, and it still sometimes is in more common parlayance, but the true Contra-bass is even lower and is also a Bb instrument.  This was the largest instrument I ever played, being even taller than I was when I sat down to play it. 

I haven't played clarient with any seriousness since graduating high school.  I loved the lower clarients, and wish I could go back and do something with it, but the instruments I played were rentals, and I only own a soprano clarient.  In honor of Benny's centential, I pulled the old instrument out, and tooted around for an hour or so.  Wow, what twenty years does to one's embrasure.  Getting up over the break (changing registers) was hard to do.  I suppose the reeds might be no good.  I was able to get up there, but the middle B and the C still gave me a lot of trouble.  One thing an hour tooting on an instrument showed me, was how my lung capacity has dwindled compared to the days when I was playing sports daily, in band and choir daily.  These days, the most work out my lungs get are going up and down stairs.  *sigh*

If I had a way to join up and play clarinet again with some kind of amatuer ensemble, I'd most certainly enjoy it.  I'd want to play one of the lower instruments again, as I enjoyed playing the supporting lines far more than trying to take on the high melodies.  Besides, I'm rather well aware that I'm not quite capable of mastering the high registers, so I'd rather enjoy an instrument that takes advantage of the lower ranges.  I'd especially love a chance to play the true Contra-bass, though I'm not sure where I'd be able to rent even a standard bass clarinet these days.  

In any case, here's to you Mr. Goodman, for many a year of enjoyable playing.
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Today is 100th anniversary of the birth of jazz legend Benny Goodman.

Benny Goodman is the reason I became a clarinetist.  When I was in second grade, my family was watching the movie "The Benny Goodman Story" and I got so taken by the idea of playing clarient that I wouldn't stop talking about it.  My older sister Sue happened to play clarient, and so she let me try to play a bit, and I puttered around for a while on her instrument.  If you've never heard someone who has never played clarient before try, imagine a sick goose hacking and coughing while honking.   Yeah, that's about how I sounded, but I was hooked.  When it came time to choose an instrument for the school orchestra, clarinet it was.  My older sister got a new one, and I got her old one.  That was fine with me.  I played and practiced, and didn't do too bad a job.  By the time I hit Junior High there were only two guys in the clarinet section.  Me and vinny Pagan.  Now folks might have had no problem deriding me for being a guy playing a "girl's" instrument (I might have known who Benny Goodman was, but in the early 80's big band jazz was not something most young kids knew), but no one talked smack to Vinny, which probably saved me from a lot of gruff.  It would have been tough to give me lip about that, sitting right next to Vinny.

By 8th grade, I was offered the chance to switch over to the bass clarinet, and frankly as someone who had been sliding down a bit in the seating, I went for it.  That year would be the only year I marched with the bass clarinet in marching band.  After that, I'd split my time between clarinet for concert season, then percussion for marching season.  (Mainly bass drum.)  I liked the bass clarinet, as an instrument it has an amazing range and versatility, and at an octave lower than the "standard" clarient (properly the soprano clarinet) I often found the tone more pleasing, and the parts I was getting rarely went up into the third register change.  By 10th grade, I was given the chance to change instruments again, and I took up the Contra-alto clarient.  This was the first time I was no longer playing a Bb instrument, and the change was a bit weird for me.  At the time it was referred to as the Eb Contra-bass, and it still sometimes is in more common parlayance, but the true Contra-bass is even lower and is also a Bb instrument.  This was the largest instrument I ever played, being even taller than I was when I sat down to play it. 

I haven't played clarient with any seriousness since graduating high school.  I loved the lower clarients, and wish I could go back and do something with it, but the instruments I played were rentals, and I only own a soprano clarient.  In honor of Benny's centential, I pulled the old instrument out, and tooted around for an hour or so.  Wow, what twenty years does to one's embrasure.  Getting up over the break (changing registers) was hard to do.  I suppose the reeds might be no good.  I was able to get up there, but the middle B and the C still gave me a lot of trouble.  One thing an hour tooting on an instrument showed me, was how my lung capacity has dwindled compared to the days when I was playing sports daily, in band and choir daily.  These days, the most work out my lungs get are going up and down stairs.  *sigh*

If I had a way to join up and play clarinet again with some kind of amatuer ensemble, I'd most certainly enjoy it.  I'd want to play one of the lower instruments again, as I enjoyed playing the supporting lines far more than trying to take on the high melodies.  Besides, I'm rather well aware that I'm not quite capable of mastering the high registers, so I'd rather enjoy an instrument that takes advantage of the lower ranges.  I'd especially love a chance to play the true Contra-bass, though I'm not sure where I'd be able to rent even a standard bass clarinet these days.  

In any case, here's to you Mr. Goodman, for many a year of enjoyable playing.
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It is patently impossible for me to hear the song "Linus and Lucy" by Vince Guaraldi and not cheer up.  In fact, most days, its almost impossible for me to hear that song and not dance in my seat. 

Do you have a song like that?  One that just changes your mood in a heartbeat for the better?
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It is patently impossible for me to hear the song "Linus and Lucy" by Vince Guaraldi and not cheer up.  In fact, most days, its almost impossible for me to hear that song and not dance in my seat. 

Do you have a song like that?  One that just changes your mood in a heartbeat for the better?
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