Archive for September, 2008

PostHeaderIcon MySpace launches net music store



MySpace has unveiled an online music store that lets its US members listen for free but pay for downloads.

The ad-funded service lets MySpace members listen to streamed tracks on their PC for free and build up long playlists of their favourite tracks.

Users must buy a copy of a track from the music store of partner Amazon to enjoy it on a portable player.

The service hopes to cash in on the long-standing link between MySpace and new and established bands.

Cash call

The service has been launched with backing from the big four music labels – Sony BMG, Universal, Warner and EMI – plus independent music group The Orchard.

The move is widely being seen as a snub to Apples’ iTunes, which is the dominant player in the online music market.

It is known that record labels are frustrated with Apple’s refusal to charge higher prices for more popular tracks. On Amazon’s music store, which is only available in the US, tracks start at $0.79 (£0.42)

At launch MySpace Music only has a few thousand tracks available but said this will grow to many millions as the partner labels open up their archives to it.

All the tracks sold will be free of copyright protection mechanisms known as Digital Rights Management software.

News that MySpace was working on a music store leaked in April 2007 and the launch was delayed as negotiations with record label EMI dragged on.

It is estimated that about five million bands and artists have a profile page on MySpace and the site has helped launch the career of many up and coming musicians and help them stay in touch with fans.

As well as making cash from adverts running on the page through which people choose the music they listen to the service will also generate revenue from ringtones, concert tickets and merchandise.

“The big question is whether they can change their environment so people will want to do their shopping as well as their gossiping [at MySpace],” said James McQuivey, research analyst at Forrester.

Mr McQuivey doubted whether the site would become a big source of revenue for MySpace as studies suggest that people do not watch their computer when using it to stream music


This article is from the BBC News website. © British Broadcasting Corporation

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PostHeaderIcon Texting ‘greatest driving risk’



Texting while driving impairs motorists more than drinking alcohol or taking drugs, RAC Foundation testing suggests.

It asked motorists aged 17 to 24 to drive in a simulator while writing or reading texts and found reaction times deteriorated by 35% on average.

Previous studies had found reactions were 21% slower among those who had taken cannabis and 12% slower among those who had drunk to the legal limit.

The texters also drifted out of lanes more and had poorer steering control.

The overall driving performance was poor among those tested by the Transport Research Laboratory, which also carried out the previous studies, the RAC Foundation said.

Steering control among drivers in the text test was 91% worse, compared with 35% worse for those under the influence of cannabis.

‘Hazardous’

Dr Nick Reed, senior human factors researcher at TRL, said: “When texting, drivers are distracted by taking their hand off the wheel to use their phone, by trying to read small text on the phone display and by thinking about how to write their message.

“This combination of factors resulted in the impairments to reaction time and vehicle control that place the driver at a greater risk than having consumed alcohol to the legal limit for driving.”

RAC Foundation director Professor Stephen Glaister said the participants in the study had been almost unanimous in their view that drink-driving was the most dangerous action on the road.

“Yet this research clearly shows that a motorist who is texting is significantly more impaired than a motorist at the legal limit for alcohol,” he said.

“No responsible motorist would drink and drive. We need to ensure that text devotees understand that texting is one of the most hazardous things that can be done while in charge of a motor car.”<p


This article is from the BBC News website. © British Broadcasting Corporation

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PostHeaderIcon Facebook imposes site facelift



By Maggie Shiels
Technology reporter, BBC News, Silicon Valley

Facebook’s facelift will become permanent for all its 100 million users, like it or not.

Since unveiling the makeover seven weeks ago, Facebook had given users the freedom to stay with the old design or switch to the new one.

Now everyone will be forced to change despite groups forming on Facebook to protest the move.

“It’s pretty lame they couldn’t let uskeep the old design alongside the new one,” said student Scott Sanders.

His protest page called Petition Against the “New Facebook” is the most popular group with nearly a million supporters criticising the move from the old format.

“I was contacted by one of the product managers at Facebook who explained in detail why they did some of the things they did.He kept telling me it was to make it ‘more user friendly.’

“But they’re smart guys.Why couldn’t they figure out to make both designs compatible and let those that want to stay with the old design do that” the 19-year-old student from Tennessee told the BBC.

Facebook said such a proposition simply would not have worked.

“We can’t maintain both versions, and we really think you’ll like the new Facebook once you get used to the changes, ” wrote Mark Slee on the company blog.

Change

Facebook said about 40 million users have already tried out the new design and about 30 million embraced it without reverting to the old look.

The company has described themakeover as being cleaner and simpler with customized tabs, faster navigation and better filter feeds to share top stories, photos or events.

The new look site will also let users separate their personal profiles into different areas of the site and shift various applications to the bottom of a person’s home page.

“Any change can be a big deal to our users because this is how they connect with their family and friends,” said company founder Mark Zuckerberg.

“So when you move things around, it can be perceived as being not a positive thing even when it’s a positive change.”

Another major upgrade has been the improvedintegration of third party applications which has been welcomed by the music sharing siteiLike.Ithas around 16 million users signed up through Facebook

“The new direction will tilt things in favour of apps that are more focused on quality rather than on viral tactics,” explainediLike’s chief executive Ali Partovi.

“It will become more a survival of the fittest.An environment we welcome gladly.”

Apologies

By introducing the changes gradually Facebook was hoping to avoid the missteps of previous revisions to the site.

In 2006, the start up infuriated thousands of users by introducing a tool called ‘news feeds’ that automatically broadcast certain personal details.

Last year, Facebook faced another revolt with adevice called Beacon that tracked and shared information about a users’ shopping habits and other activities at other web sites.

On both occasions, Mr Zuckerberg had to apologise to users.

“There is more weight on making things smooth when you are dealing with 100 million people,” he said.

“No one cared as much when a bunch of students from a few colleges were complaining about some changes to some web site.”

Given the number of users that Facebook has today means they have to tread carefully said Jeremiah Owyangan analyst with Forrester.

“There could be a community backlash as we have seen before.It is a really touchy line between users, brands and privacy and Facebook have not been as forthcoming in the past about changes as they should have. “

For his part, Scott Sanders, who is studying marketing at Austin Peay University in Tennessee said he will not desert the site even though he does not agree with what is happening.

“Personally I think it’s a bit rash for people to say they will leave Facebook.It is still one of the best, if not the best, social networking site on the internet.

“So I will not leave. I will try to get used to it even though I don’t like it, but I will try.


This article is from the BBC News website. © British Broadcasting Corporation

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