Icecast vs. RealAudio

Tonight I set up an IceCast Internet radio station, just to see how it worked. Wow! Within 15 minutes of starting, I was “on the air,” broadcasting to my brother Mike in Ontario. An hour later, we had Mike up and running and broadcasting back to me. Having spent 4 years working with Real Networks netcasting products, I can’t tell you how much easier this was. Highly recommended.

Internet Radio: Music, Law, Royalties

So I want to start an Internet “radio station.” Regular old broadcast stations have to pay music royalties to SOCAN (in Canada) or BMI or ASCAP (in the US).
There’s a good overview of the U.S. situation on the DNA Lounge website, but I wondered what the situation was in Canada. So I sent email to SOCAN.
SOCAN’s response was basically “we’re still figuring this out,” but they added:

To avoid future copyright infringement and any resulting legal proceedings, SOCAN advises that you send a letter to my attention stating that you (the company, if incorporated) agree to pay any fees and taxes applicable to your use, once they are set. Also, since the fees approved will be retroactive, you should consider making provisions for a reserve fund of 3.2% of your gross revenues or, if the site is noncommercial, 3.2% of operating expenses to pay fees and taxes once they become due.
I’m still trying to figure out exactly what this means. Stay tuned.

Shatter my Heart

From my wise and religiously-inclined friend Stephen, father of my God Daughter:

i am not one to proselytize and i don’t think everyone has to have kids, but i do think that there is so much you learn about yourself and others and so many changes for the better that happen to you with kids that it would be hard to have those changes happen any other way. i’ve been working with a guy who is 54 and unmarried and childless and his whole life revolves around what happened to him when he was under 25. i like the sufi expression — “shatter my heart to make it ready for a greater love than i have ever known”.
He’s right.

Call Forward Busy

A couple of years ago, I wanted to set up the Pagoo system to act as my answering machine. To do this required a service from the phone company called Call Forward Busy. At the time, the phone company told me that no such service was available; I pressed them with CRTC rulings, and then, as if by magic, the service became available. It’s interesting, in this light, to find the following notice on the phone company’s website:

(*Call Forward Busy is needed to make this service work. If you were to purchase this or a similar service from another provider, Island Tel would charge residential-line customers $2.25 per month and business-line customers $3.25 per month on your phone bill for Call Forward Busy. That’s in addition to what you pay your other provider. Island Tel bundles the two together so you can save money!)
All they want to do is to save me money!

Transmission

Transmission work is something each of us will probably have done only once or twice in a lifetime. And for most of us, transmissions remain a deep dark automotive mystery, one of those things usually prefaced by a statement like “we’ll have to drop it out and take a look, and that will cost $600 up front.” And then there’s Precision Transmission in Charlottetown. Two years ago, the transmission in my 1993 Eagle Summit got all chewed to hell, and I needed a new one. My local dealer quoted me a starting price of $4500 for a new one (I only paid $6000 for the car); the guys at Precision rebuilt the transmission for $1500. They’re friendly, don’t talk in mechanic-speak, and I would highly recommend them when and if you experience the dread that comes from shifting into drive and having nothing happen.

Smooth Floors

The last two years have seen the opening of four new or heavily renovated grocery stores in the Charlottetown area: a new Sobey’s in Stratford, a renovated Sobey’s in West Royalty, and new stores for IGA and Atlantic Superstore (both Loblaw outposts) in Charlottetown. What’s remarkable about these stores is how much more functional the design of the Sobey’s stores is. This is made most obvious by the fact that in the Sobey’s stores the produce sections’ flooring material is nice smooth linoleum whereas the Loblaw stores use rackety ceramic tile. The result: my cart glides through Sobey’s and rattles through Loblaws, something made more obvious with a rattling 3 month year old infant riding on board.

Air Canada

We had much opportunity to experience the new Air Canada this holiday season, flying up to Ontario for the holidays. The bad: the Air Canada call centre appears to have about 3 staff (or 1 million callers), as call wait times over the holidays were 15-25 minutes; the pilot missed the runway in Halifax, had to circle back, and ended up flying through very bumpy air for 30 minutes (much bard ensued); their Pearson Airport operation is under-staffed: things proceed fairly well under normal conditions, but they really need a “mobile strike force” to swoop into action when flights are cancelled or delayed. The good: the express check-in for e-ticket passengers is a wonder: well designed, quick to use, saves 15 or 20 minutes in line (question: why does it still take so long to check in manually?); we were upgraded to business class for the return flight because our original flight was cancelled: business class makes flying bearable (good meals, wide seats, friendly staff), but also makes the thought of the inevitable return to “hospitality” class unbearable. And, of course, there was our newfound ability to take advantage of pre-boarding for “passengers with small children or other requiring assistance.”

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