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Archive for August, 2018

Flash Drives in Comparison to Disc Media

Monday, August 27th, 2018

Computer writable compact discs have been around in the consumer sector since 1995 (when writers finally dropped below $1000) and digital video discs have been on the commercial market since 1996. Flash media, on the other hands, has been accessible since the mid 1980’s. Yet despite this fact, many people have seen discs as a storage medium in a more positive light than flash media.

One major difference between the two is that commercial media has been traditionally delivered on discs since the 1980’s when the CD audio format stormed the music world. With the advent of DVDs to drive out video cassettes in the mid 1990’s, the idea of discs as media storage was firmly entrenched in consumers’ minds.

Connecting USB flash memory stick

Flash media on the other hand has been very popularly powering small equipment for a long time. Originally consumers used PCMCIA cards to add storage to laptops in the 1980’s. Digital cameras have used varying flash media formats since they arrived on the market. Mobile phones are expanded by use of flash cards.

The perception is that media long term storage is best accomplished with discs, while recording that media is often done using flash. In recent years, flash media has become a component of high end computer storage as SSDs have been brought to market.

Now, the question is, when should you be using disc media, and when is flash the better bet? The answer is that it’s highly dependent on what you want to do.

  • If you want to store audio files in a standard CD format, you have a single choice: the writable CD disc. This is not a good bargain in terms of actual storage space, however.
  • If you are looking for easy access to your media at all times, you might choose to go flash with an SSD, but this will be quite expensive. (A traditional hard drive is a great alternative here, and if you buy a sufficiently large one it’s extremely inexpensive on a per GB basis.)
  • For larger file storage if you don’t mind swapping discs, DVDs are extremely affordable per GB. (Only large traditional hard drives will generally outperform them on price. Flash media has no chance.)
  • If you’re looking to move from place to place with highly portable, robust media, flash memory is your clear choice. From USB thumb drives to memory cards of varying sizes, many devices can read this type of memory. It’s not susceptible to wear and tear as much as discs are.

While it is clear that flash memory is more expensive than DVDs, prices continue to fall for flash, while discs have remained relatively unchanged in terms of price for a significant period of time. In the future it’s probably that we will be trading in our discs for something “flashier” but for now, DVD discs in particular offer excellent long term storage.

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ISRC Codes

Monday, August 20th, 2018

OK, you buy a new album and insert the CD to your computer. itunes opens the disc and automatically knows the album title, artist name and track names. How is this done?

Codes

Well the explanation is a ‘International Standard Recording Code’ or ISRC code. The IRSC is a unique identification system for sound recordings and music video recordings.  Each ISRC code identifies a specific unique recording or track which can be permanently encoded into a product as a kind of digital fingerprint.

Applications such as itunes read the ISRC codes and reference them against online databases. This then enables all registered information related to the album or songs to be displayed.

If you are an unsigned or independent artist that is selling music online, then you will already be using an ISRC code, even if you are unaware of it.

The main reason for ISRC is not just so itunes will display your song information. As well as accurate airplay data identification, ISRC is used by online music download stores for sale tracking. Every time a song is played on radio or TV the ISRC code can be automatically read and logged to a computer system to help with accurate airplay royalties be paid back to the artist. So whether your music is being played in Cardiff, Tokyo, or New York, it will be instantly recognised, all thanks to an ISRC code.

You can get ISRC codes when you register your tracks with an ISRC agency. In the UK this is usually carried out by PPL (phonographic performance limited) www.ppluk.com. A set of ISRC codes are issued and details added to an on-line database. The ISRC codes can then be added to your master at the PMCD pre mastering stage. During CD Replication manufacture these codes are copied to all your replicated CDs.

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What’s Wrong With Digital Rights Management?

Sunday, August 12th, 2018

You may have heard a lot of talk about DRM, or you may be completely new to the concept, but in either case it’s wise for us to set up a basic explanation of what Digital Rights Management is before we talk about what’s wrong with it. DRM is a form of access control, or gate-keeping technology. What DRM does is secure digital products against unauthorized use.

So from the standpoint of someone looking at releasing their work into the world, it seems to make sense to have DRM be a part of your picture, but the truth of the matter is that it is not so cut and dried as all that. In fact, DRM has major flaws.

There are a number of reasons for this, but one of the most important ones is the fact that DRM puts restrictions on the people who have paid for a product. The people who have become your customers are often the ones hurt most by DRM. Hardly a just reward for paying you, is it?drm1

A recent example of DRM that has caused an uproar due to how poor it makes the customer experience is the multimillion copy selling video game Diablo III. The way the protection on the product works that it forces each player to be logged into a game server at all times during play. This means that despite the fact that it is playable by between one and four people, the actual game play is dependent on the presence and speed of an internet connection, even if only one player is involved in the game.

Buyers of the product is that they are not only required to have an internet connection present, they need to ensure that it is of sufficient quality to reach the servers of the game reliably. In many cases, this is functionally impossible (in the cases of audiences in regions with poor connectivity, like much of middle America) or extremely cost-prohibitive.

Still, you may be thinking this is a reasonable stance, as it ensures that only people who have paid for this game can use it. Sure, it inconveniences people, but it protects the intellectual property of the company selling the product, right? You would be incorrect in that assumption. Within a week of the game reaching the market it was “hacked” to work offline. It is now possible to download the entire game and play it without paying for it. Thus pirate access has not been prevented by this application of DRM. And as we have established, legitimate consumers are being inconvenienced on a daily basis.

You need to understand that all DRM can be broken. DRM applied to audio, ebooks, PDFs, games, video, and more is not going to keep anyone who is determined from breaking the protections you have put into place. This can be as simple as retyping a book (people can pay a tiny amount to workers in third world nations to do this) into a DRM-free format, or as complex as breaking into executable code and building fake servers to fool a video game into working when it shouldn’t. It can and will be broken, so there is no actual protection offered outside of guarding against the kind of people who are very unlikely to be interested in illegally accessing your product.

In the end, the best protection you can offer your work is to make sure it is a good quality effort which has been priced reasonably. These factors will combine to make it more desirable for people to pay you for the product, and will serve to help sway individuals who have acquired your product through piracy to purchase legitimate copies in the end. One major barrier to acquisition of products is their perceived value. The better you position your product in terms of value, the better protection it is! Best of all: doing so is completely free. You don’t have to pay for a DRM solution, you simply have to make good choices regarding the content of your product, and its price point.

The underlying reason here is that people want good value in their products. They tend to “steal” things that they have no intention of buying, so the concept of an illegally accessed copy of your work equating to lost revenue is feeble at best. Most people do not have more money than they spend, and if they have already determined that your product is not worth buying, they won’t buy it, even if they can’t obtain a bootleg copy.

But that means that there’s good news when people do get to download your product for free. Since they are now in possession of your product, you have the chance to let your work shine through and convince them that they should in fact spend money on it, or on other products from your company. Many illegal downloads are converted into sales, when given the choice, the person who illegally downloaded the product in the first place would never have even tried the product had it not been available for free.

So instead of investing in costly, ineffective access control, skip the DRM and hope that people do spread the word about your products. Because nothing sells more than word of mouth, and the more mouths that are exposed to what you have to offer, the more sales you can make.

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