Category: Technology


Who remembers the early days of Napster? The controversial P2P software that allowed people to share media. What was so controversial about it? Well back then it’d cost around £12.99 ($15.99 for anyone state side) to buy an album produced by a popular musician. Napster eliminated the need to pay such a ludicrous sum and gave us music lovers the ability to share any songs we had for free. The process was dead simple as well. Open Napster, search for a song you want, double click to download, wait 15 minutes for it to arrive and then listen to it till your ears bleed! Though Napster was taken to court and at the wrong end of numerous lawsuits, the music industry was hit hard and has never been the same. Other companies like Kazaa, iMesh, Morpheus and Limewire came along and took it to a whole new level. Not only did these four encourage P2P networking with audio, they introduced it for images, ISO’s and video so now any kind of content produced could be illegally downloaded. It got worse, torrents came along and changed the way P2P worked, enabling you to download full albums and huge files. People could search for a host of films, download through the night and then by morning watch all their films guilty free.

Original Napster

The first version of Napster I used. Who remembers this?

I think almost everyone (myself included) has been guilty of media piracy at some point. I mean can any of you guys honestly put your hand on your heart and say you haven’t downloaded something for free that you should be paying for? They say it’s the same as going into a store and stealing a CD, but is it? I for one think the prices some of these artists, studios and producers charge for their music or films is daylight robbery in it self. £12.99 is far too much for an album, but downloading it for free isn’t fair either. So what to do?

Enter iTunes and Spotify. The former allowed one to enter their store, log in with their details and download songs for as little as 59p (69cents in the USA) and this did encourage a lot of people to stop illegally downloading songs. iTunes is doing extremely well and is the market leader in selling audio, especially full albums. Spotify was slightly different and had a fresh new approach to music. It allowed you to register, search their site for music and then just listen as much as you want. Both iTunes and Spotify are legal and they both bought normality to the music industry, yes you still had a huge number of people downloading for free, but the number was dropping and it seemed a balance was struck.

However the normality that we thought was coming, took a massive blow last week. Spotify are cutting back the amount we can use their service. They’ve halved monthly usage from 20 hours to a measly 10 hours and it doesn’t stop there. That new tune you heard that you wanna slap on repeat, well Spotify will put a limit on that so now you can listen to a track a maximum of five times! Five times? I don’t know about you guys, but when I quite like a track and want to listen to it non stop, it takes me at least 50 times to get tired and move on, not five! This at a time when Apple have hiked prices on iTunes up to around £1 ($1.29). So basically the guys at the top of music industry are laughing. But when all is said and done, this isn’t good for them because what does this do? It pushes people back to music piracy, the one thing the music industry has been trying to eliminate for the past 13 years.

A lot of people have been looking to blame Spotify for the cuts, but they are reportedly making losses of £16.6million a year! They are busting their gut to get free music out there for the world, and are suffering massively from it, they can’t be expected to do this and make such heavy losses. They must look out for their interests, make money and run a sustainable business, and we should support them in their bid to do so. What the music listening public and the record labels need to do is work together to bridge a gap between free music and paying for songs. But it’s such a difficult balance to strike, just how do we come to a conclusion in this?

I think the only way to resolve this is for a balance to be struck on the price songs are sold at and a kind of alternate to radio for the internet. Radio is cool, but with songs being chopped up and DJ’s finding the need to yap over the top of them, they’ll never be as popular as music based on the internet. Spotify offer a £9.99 a month service which allows you to listen to unlimited music completely ad free. I personally think this is a bargain and that people should take this offer, I mean you pay up to £70 a month for Sky TV and you can’t control the content on your HD box, but with Spotify and music you can, so why not? I personally think it’s ideal and a good way to put Spotify on the map for their efforts to lower the price of music. On the iTunes front, we need competition for them. We have Amazon who also sell songs and albums but competition in prices and encouraging the big companies to keep them low would be massive for the music industry and could potentially strike the balance we need to halt piracy. If they lower their prices to the original 59p or if they had three songs for the price of two, it’d be much more fair on the consumer. Music is a product, but it isn’t something we should pay large sums for.

Alternatively iTunes can continue to raise prices. The music industry can stay greedy and keep conning us. Their loss, piracy it is then. Arainmunda signing out.

The question used to be “do you have an online profile?” but that question is horrendously out of date. The question now is “how many profiles do you have?” because lets not kid ourselves, Social Networking has taken over our lives. The fact there has recently been a film based on Facebook called The Social Network and it was nominated for countless Academy Awards speaks volumes on how popular online profiles have become. There is another film called Catfish which has a lot to do with social networking too, but admittedly I haven’t seen either film. So where and how did this whole thing begin?

Who remembers their first email account? And the first time they went into a chat room? Oh my gosh I remember. My first account was with AOL in 1998. My user name was crazyav, yikes the thought of it is making me cringe!!! What did I do on this account? I was only 12 at the time dammit, what networking does a 12 year old need to do? Well in the early days I’d go into a chat room and be like “hey asl” to any random girl. And it was the same old shizz! “Hi, 19, female, California”, I mean this was AOL, almost everyone was American back then! “What do you look like?” I’d say all so eagerly. “I’m blonde, blue eyes, 5’6, really hot”….which means she was a brunette with brown eyes 5’3 and a bit podgy, but naive little arainmunda always believed them. They’d ask me, “asl and what do you look like”. What do you think I replied?? “12, male, London and I’m a paki with brown hair and brown eyes” or do you think I straight up LIED and did the same thing as her? Yep, you’re right, I LIED! What was my description back then? GOD it makes me cringe so bad. I’d say I was 6’2 even though I was about 5’3. I’d say I was very athletic, well…on the PlayStation I was. I’d say I was handsome, well…I might have been a little cute, but if anything I was ridiculously goofy. I said I had blonde hair and blue eyes, but that’s a given isn’t it? Everyone had blonde hair and blue eyes on AOL from 1995-2000! I said I drove a Porsche because I got 1502 in my SATs and my parents gave it to me as a gift. I didn’t even know what SAT’s were, but I knew 1502 was a high score! The only reason I knew was because (my then idol) Zack Morris from Saved by the Bell got the same score! I lied so much I made Fletcher Reede look like a trustworthy guy, and that was my warm-up act. I’d chat for an hour or so, then get bored and find someone else to talk to, same description, same lies, same 12 year old misbehaving. I mean can you imagine me with blonde hair and blue eyes? God, that’d be scary, I can see it now….

The horror!

Good look for me no?

It’s okay, stop hiding behind your chair, sit back on your seat and worry not. In fact scroll down so you can’t see the horror of what a blonde hair blue eyed arainmunda would look like! Now where was I? Oh yeah, so after the whole AOL craze some years had passed and I began to be a bit prouder of who I was. Not only that, the typical rich white internet user sterotype had died down. The online craze was spreading across the world. Common folk could now use it and it wouldn’t cost £50 a month like it used to, thanks mainly to Freeserve! Now that there were more ethnic minorities and a less racist attitude on the net, I started telling people who I really was, relief all around! Still did the chat room thing, but sometimes I would just go into a forum looking for trouble! I’d go into a KKK chatroom and be like “F*** all you wannabe Casper gaylords” then I’d proceed to rant and rave, before I’d run out of energy and leave haha! Those were the days. A shy 14 year old asian kid who had a regular life by day, was an internet troll by night!

Then the social networking craze took a turn with the introduction of FacePic and FreindsReunited. Who used FacePic? Do any of y’all remember it? If you didn’t use it let me explain; it was like Facebook, but the original. It had everything you could possibly need to network, heck…my brother met his future wife on FacePic!!! As for FriendsReunited, that shizz was no good. You had to pay around £30 a year to have a proper account? Really? £30? No wonder it failed. Some time later Hi5 and MySpace kicked in, and this is where things really got going. Social networking was becoming fun and I met so many people on both of them. I remember on MySpace, someone added me randomly from Kenilworth, I had no idea where that was when they added me and I accepted thinking who is this? They then dropped a comment on my profile saying “hi u alrite? im bored?! up to much? luv me xox” I had never met or spoken to this person in my entire life, yet the first message they dropped me was as if they’d known me for years!!!! Completely bizarre! We were friends for a while, but it slowly died down for various reasons. Hi5 was even better, it was there that I first gazed eyes on my woman. Quite strange now I think about it.

Then came Facebook, I was the first amongst my friends to join and I persuaded them all to jump on the bandwagon. It was and still can be so much fun. But it’s fizzled out somewhat? Why? Is it that social networking isn’t fun any more? Am I just growing out of it? Or is it privacy issues? I’m pretty sure it is the latter. What gets me is, back when I joined Facebook, it was only the cool cats who were on my friend list. They could see my life on Facebook, I could see theirs. But when Facebook relaxed the restrictions on who could join, it became a lot less fun for me. It used to be university students only but now if you’re a hobo on a street corner you can join. And of course, everyone has a right to do what they want, participate in what they want and become a member of any society they want, but one of the reasons I loved Facebook was because it was a youngsters only zone. And not just youngsters only, intelligent youngsters only. Now I sound pretty ignorant and I’m not implying that intelligent youngsters only exist in university, but from a social networking perspective it was such a good way to filter out the weirdo’s and oldies. Now I find myself on Facebook, with three fresh pot cousins, my mum, several aunts and uncles all on my list! It won’t be long before my 100 year old grandfather takes an interest in my Facebook! Now I’m not saying I don’t like some of those people being on my list, I enjoy seeing their pictures and being able to keep in touch with many of them. But suddenly I feel like my youthful private life is under constant scrutiny. My trip to Scotland for example, I loved it, but I know several aunts will be raising their eyebrow knowing I went there because a special someone lives there. People are too assuming and critical. They won’t know any details on what I did in Scotland, but they’ll assume I was up to no good, they’ll then spread lies, Chinese whispers will prevail, and I’ll come home from work one day with my dad saying “I heard you went to Edinburgh, got married to a white chick, drank whiskey and assaulted Alistair Darling“! Then when I tell him none of that occurred, that its all lies, he’ll believe me….but he’ll still have that image painted in the back of his mind. This is my beef with the Facebook revolution. The problem is, Facebook itself has become quite an important aspect in my social life. Leaving something I joined and have used daily since 2006 is no easy task. So what will come of my predicament? Who knows. Arainmunda signing out.