Me and the Guardian Newspaper

I used to buy the Guardian newspaper on a daily basis when I was at university, mainly because of it was sold cheaply to students.

After university I had the paper delivered daily, but to be honest found the cost too steep. I tried the online subscription service which was cheaper but I found that I missed the portability of the actual printed edition and got tired very quickly of reading articles on a computer screen.

In the end I subscribed to the RSS feeds and just read a few articles a week. I still bought an odd printed copy and felt wrong when I did not have a copy.

Since then the Guardian had changed its digital edition to an outside provider and i considered buying a subscription. But the previous problems would still be the same. Then a I came across something unexpected.

Note: I wrote this on 14th April 2011 but only published it November 2014.

Sony Reader PRS-505

These caught my attention a few years ago. After going to see a demonstration model in my local Waterstones store I was impressed with its display and the fact that it was so easy to read. I nearly bought one from Play.com but was put off by it’s price and by the fact that it lacked a feature I really wanted: news content. When the new models were released I was disapointed to learn that the clarity of the text had been reduced by the introduction of a touch screen feature. One of the new models (out in the US) had a newspaper facility, but also was too large for my liking, way to expensive and also suffered from the touchscreen lack of clarity. I had another look at the PRS-505 but found that it was discontinued (as expected) and out of stock with retailers. So I switched to eBay and managed to get one at a good price after some patience.

I had bought the PRs-505 with the knowledge that it did not have the News feature I wanted. But then came something unexpected. I found my way on to the Calibre website and it had a feature which utilised the news rss feeds from many news websites and configured them for specific reader screens and formats. And hay presto! The guardian amongst many was listed and I quickly had news on my websites.

Spotify – I Understand Why You Don’t Want Me Anymore

Spotify Logo

Today saw Spotify announce that as well as reducing Spotify Open users to 10 hours of free advert supported streaming music per month versus the previous 20 hours, it will also more importantly for me only allow the same track to be played 5 times. As someone who listens often to my favourite discoveries over and over this is a killer of a restriction.

My Previous Experiences

Years ago I came across the original Napster music sharing service and found myself discovering new music I would not otherwise would have heard and something strange happened – I actually started to buy more music on CD. Perhaps this was guilt on my part for using the service as I have never been a supporter of illegal file sharing. However since Napster days things have changed and I rarely find myself buying music on CD unless it is cheaper than a legal download.

When the original Napster closed down I found myself no longer buying CDs. I used iTunes briefly which let me listen to clips before buying each track, but I was not impressed with the DRM and the bloated software. I also briefly used the now defunct Sky Songs, a web based music streaming service which I found impressive but too costly for my ‘now and again’ dip into the service.

The Discovery

Then I came across Spotify after seeing articles about the launch of the Spotify Open 20 hours per month advert supported service.  During my first sessions I was impressed with the library of music and that the service was free. I immediately looked for a Spotify Free invite invitation that would remove the 20 hours per month time restriction. However my despair at the time restrictions were premature as after the initial gorge of music I found myself not actually listening to 20 hours per month.

You Have Me Hooked

In one way Spotify has me hooked in that I want access to those tracks I listen to again and again. And this is where the new issue arrives. The new restriction only allowing the same track to be played 5 times. Now I can understand business decisions behind this move – there is little to be gained from users like me repeatedly listening to the same tracks and not subscribing. As I’ve said I’ve never been a fan of downloading illegally and this is not going to make me do this.

The Paid For Serice

In the past I have tried both the Spotify Premium and Unlimited services. I loved the ability to stream music through my HTC Wildfire but actually did not use it enough to justify the cost. I used the cheaper Premium service when I got sick of a particular advert for the moment, but for what I use it for £5 is too much.

Spotify is a music service I enjoy using and have had few complaints. The changes it is making are unfortunately not going to make me a regular paying subscribing member. I understand that I’m not a target customer for Spotify, not spending anything and often listening to my favourite discoveries over and over again. I will still keep visiting and searching the music available as it’s still a good way of finding new music and finding long forgotten gems. For now I think I’m going to have to go and buy some of my ‘Starred’ favourites in never expiring old style file format – unless the CD is cheaper!

Goodbye BBC7 – Hello BBC Radio 4 Extra

Ever since I got my first DAB digital receiver, a Psion Wavefinder, I’ve been a fan of BBC7 (Or BBC Radio 7 as it was later renamed to). I’ve been introduced to comedy wonders which I had never listened to before such as Hankock’s Half Hour, Round the Horne, And Now in Colour, The Now Show, The News Quiz, Just a Minute, The Navy Lark, The Men from the Ministry, The Goon Show and many many others.

Then there is the science fiction and I’ve come across the delights of Earthsearch, Jet Morgan and his adventures and again many others.

At the moment I’m listening to the adventures of Dick Barton – Special Agent.

The BBC has to be seen to be doing something so to save money and increase awareness they have renamed the station BBC Radio Four Extra and changed the mix of programmes. At the end of the day it is the programmes that concern me and since I rearly listen to programmes on radio anymore (I use the BBC iPlayer so I control what and when I listen to anything) I hope things will not change to much in this regard over time.

Note: I wrote this on 14th April 2011 but only published it November 2014.