The Spotify Calculation

Although I know this has likely been covered elsewhere on the internet, I felt I would like to ensure that I spread the word where possible, as after working through these calculations myself, I was quite shocked.

 

Despite Spotify’s claims that they are converting millions of ‘pirates’ into paying customers, and that they are reinvigorating the music industry and bringing it out of the piracy dark ages for me, the numbers simply don’t add up.

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New Virgin Media Traffic Management

Having recently upgraded to 60Mb broadband (for the sprightly sum of £3 less over the year!) I checked the traffic management policy for the new tear and found that the whole policy had been re-hashed.

 

I must say that I feel the new policy is very reasonable, and am reassured to see the company taking steps towards protecting network performance. Although more lenient on weekdays (4PM start), traffic management takes place between 11AM and 11PM on weekends and the magic number is 3600MB per day (approx. 3.5GB).

3.5GB of downloading is without a doubt a heavy user, although it would technically be possible to reach this in a little under 8 minutes with a 60 Mb connection. In order to need to download that much data you must surely be savvy enough to at least be aware networking terms, and so I suspect the concept of traffic management wouldn’t really come as a surprise.

 

The interesting thing is that I believe many people would not be aware if they had invoked traffic management, through watching Netflix for example. This is because hitting that 3.5GB cap reduces your connection speed by just 30%, still leaving you with a respectable download speed of 42 Mbps.

 

If you download another 900MB within the following hour, your download speed will be reduced by 40% to 36 Mbps for the next 2 hours, but this is the interesting bit: if you don’t download 900MB more then your download speed returns to 100% and all is forgiven. After all is forgiven, I’m not sure how much you can download before you enter traffic management again. In theory, the counters should be reset as you didn’t go into the 2 hour speed reduction but I suspect it is more likely that you can download a further 900MB before starting on a 1 hour slow down again.

 

A similar situation applies for uploading, but with harsher cuts – 900MB being the magic upload number, resulting in a 50% slow down (to 1.5 Mbps) then a further 300MB triggers a 65% slow down to 1.1 Mbps.

 

If you are happy to put up with a 36 Mbps download or 1.1 Mbps upload speeds, you can do what you like, for as long as you like (within reason, I’m sure there will be ‘fair usage’ small print in the contract somewhere)!

 

Let’s put it this way, I watched Netflix for what we shall call ‘a long time’ (ok it was a big chunk of a day) and had no idea I was being traffic managed until I did a speed test and saw the connection max out at the enforced limit.

 

Compare that to the monthly usage caps and traffic management of Sky and BT, which are either totally none existent (caps) or much harsher (traffic management) things don’t seem so bad.

 

BT:

Recently abandoned traffic management (throttling they call it). This is not good news. In my opinion, it is an admission that the network can’t handle the demands placed on it by its customers, allow me to elaborate…

If you traffic manage, or throttle connections, this means that your network has to be able to support number of people utilising their connection at the throttled rate. If it can’t support this then you can’t traffic manage, so why not knock the policy on the head and try to put some positive PR spin on it?

Data Caps: 

There aren’t any. Do what you want, BT doesn’t care if you constantly download at the maximum your connection can handle, bringing your neighbourhood’s connections to a crawl whilst you have your fun. They may eventually utilise their inevitably present fair usage policy, but this is not likely, and far from immediate.

One of the main comparable broadband packages (Infinity Opt. 1) has a 40GB monthly cap, after which you will be charged £5 extra per GB. This ‘option’ is not a directly comparable package to virgin media’s broadband tiers (up to 38 Mbps for BT vs. 30 Mbps for Virgin). Nevertheless, I am making the comparison between Infinity Opt. 1 and Virgin Media’s 30 Mbps package, which has equivalent monthly ‘usage’ of 80GB (2750MB per day * 30) and things don’t add up. You are not charged £5 extra per GB after your 80 Mbps with Virgin, you are just slowed down!

 

That is of course also an ‘up to 38 Mbps’ from BT. At present, they seem to still be getting away with ‘up to’ being anything above 0.3 Mbps.

 

I was attempting to avoid ranting but having read this statement on the BT website pertaining to Virgin Media’s (old) traffic management policy, that’s gone out of the window.

Virgin Media may slow users by up to 75% at peak times. Your experience would suffer if you watched more than 1 HD movie streamed online during peak times. [Emphasis mine.]

The cap which you would have to have invoked under the previous traffic management policy during peak times is 3GB. Which streaming service offers HD quality with individual file sizes totalling over 3GB!? This would have to be a video stream at over 3 Mbps for a 2 hour film, or a film longer than 2 hours in order to get to a total size of pver 3GB. That simply does not / can not happen in streaming media – a 3 Mbps constant connection speed to play each second of video. It certainly wouldn’t happen on most BT connections I am aware of.

Sky:

Much of a muchness, non specific traffic management policy but they will only send you an email if you are on a capped package and go over your cap. If you impact other users they will impose unspecified slow downs to your connection.

Remember, this is the same technology and same copper as BT use so as they so carefully state that connection speeds may vary due to location. They also use the term ‘line speed’ at points in the T&C, which is worrying as this is the theoretical maximum speed if you were the only broadband customer and ignores network loading.

Swype – the perpetual beta

I recently went back to using Swype, the predictive keyboard for Android on which you join letters together in a single movement. I do like Swype, and but I’ve had to leave it again as I feel it is getting worse.

Despite being in beta, and it has no excuses as it has been in beta for at least two years (the entirety of my previous phone contract, and my time using Android). Although on a relatively new phone (Galaxy S3), the constant freezing got too much, much and the perpetual nature of the beta doesn’t fill me with confidence unfortunately.

Google Play Movies

I’ve just rented a movie from Google Play Movies and thought I’d post a small review of my experiences.
Firstly, at 99p (in a sale) the rental was very good value, and with some movie rentals at £2.50, and therefore competitive with pay as you go LoveFilm there was some hope.

Or so I thought.

Rented films have to be watched within 30 days of renting – this is ok and is reasonable enough.

Once playback has been started, you have 48 hours before the rental expires. Considering they are competing with the likes of Netflix, LoveFilm and iTunes, most of which offer monthly recurring plans, this seems strange. I understand that some kind of limit has to be placed on the rental, but why not a 30 day rental (or even a 14 day rental), scrapping the expiry once playback has begun.

You can sync rented movies to your Android phone, to playback offline. This is simply a necessary feature. It does however disable the option to watch the rented film in a browser – you can’t split your 48 hours of viewing between mobile and desktop without repeatedly re-downloading the movie to your phone.

You can watch on a desktop, but only in the browser. When buffering (in a YouTube player) video playback was often stuttery. Now I know my hardware can play back 1080p YouTube content, so there is something different about this flash only player. Video played smoothly once the entire film was buffered, and was good quality, at a max. of 720p for the particular film I rented (which was released in 1976 and so would not have benefitted from any higher resolution). In addition, and although having not tried this with standard YouTube content, it is not possible to use dual monitor functionality when playing rented movies in the browser. Once the lightboxed player is full screened, other tabs cannot be opened and used whilst full screen (I was using the latest version Chrome on my mac).

Or…I hear if you somehow find yourself in posession of a verion of the film as an .avi, it plays pretty much anywhere, for as long as you want. I would never encourage the aquisition of films in such a format however, when faced with inconveniences between the content and the enjoyment of the content there is little wonder why the path of least resistance is often followed by consumers.

Pro Tools 10

Fantastic, a new version of Pro Tools however I just thought I’d echo the thoughts and feelings of Avid Certified Instructors across the globe (as I largely agree). All Avid instructors are connected via a mailing list, which allows Pro Tools related issues to be discussed between professionals across the globe.

 

With the release of Pro Tools 10 came some new features (which is always good) but at an inevitable cost to upgrade. I share the concern that the now yearly scheduled upgrades so far contain relatively minor features such as RAM fades and realtime clip gain. Although also including numerous other features (a new plugin architecture), they have been described as “under the hood” upgrades; a label with which I agree – not necessarily customer focused new breakthrough features. Yes Pro Tools 9 was a shock – with the ability to choose your interface, but no matter how many videos Avid make showing people sat in the sunshine mixing this is NOT some kind of breakthrough feature – is is a built in feature of every major operating system used by every other major DAW from the year dot.

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OnLive Reaches The UK

I can’t believe how much more expensive OnLive games are in the UK now it has been released! I had a quick look today and the new games seem to be close the  normal retail price! This kind of negates one of the major advantages for me – great value. Anyway, I think this has certainly sealed OnLive’s fate in my eyes, especially with the special offers of 3 months playpack games – where’s the free hardware like they did in the US? What kind of launch is that?!

 

Anyway, OnLive has been removed from my computer, never to return – long reign consoles.

 

Good luck trying to play OnLive with “Infinity”. I’m not sure what it “infinitely” is, but with a 10GB monthly usage cap (the equivalent to 1 DAYs worth of peak time only caps on Virgin Media) you’re not going to be able to do much gaming. The first month doesn’t count towards your monthly bandwidth, yes only the first month, after that, and from what I can see – you’re screwed!

 

I really wanted OnLive to work, I really did. Maybe we are not quite ready for it yet?

Why, oh why, Spotify?

There was dispair on my part when Spotify announced the 5 plays per track policy, not because I use Spotify heavily, simply because I (and many others) saw this move as the end of Spotify. I am trying to understand Spotify’s logic; if people aren’t paying for premium subscriptions, how is attempting to force them to pay likely to work? It is a well known fact that when the general (music loving) public don’t like something, corporations forcing them to pay money for things always works – I mean look at how few people use P2P and torrent technology!

As far as I was concerned, if I wanted to listen to a track I might use Spotify, although the previews on sites like Amazon (my favourite) are usually adequate enough to decide whether I like a track or not (it’s mainly a whole album yes / no situation for me any way, to be honest). Or I could just not bother with it at all. I was done.

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More Apple playing God

This is really getting to me now, I am going to recategorize these kind of posts as Crapple.

Apple removed PayPal’s app when they added the ability to donate to charity with it. The app raised $10,000 before being removed. Info pertaining to apple’s 30% cut and an insistence to use Safari for donations seem to be to blame.

Have a read of the post I read here:

http://feeds.gawker.com/~r/gizmodo/full/~3/rEDoqzPmfcM/why-does-apple-make-being-a-charitable-app-so-hard