Free Music Downloads… If You Live in Oregon

3 free weekly MP3 downloads for Oregon residentsIf you happen to live in Oregon, and especially if you are in Multnomah County or nearby, you might want to take advantage of a great service offered by the local library system: free weekly music downloads.

With a Multnomah County library card, or a card from a library system with reciprocal privileges such as Clark or Washington Counties, you can download up to 3 free music files (unprotected MP3) per week. There are more than half a million tunes to choose from, covering everything from contemporary rock, to Broadway, to pop music oldies. It’s basically the entire Sony Music digital download catalog, encompassing more than 50 labels (Columbia, Epic, Sony Masterworks etc.).

The service is called Freegal. It’s a sweet idea, and a valuable service… wish more libraries would jump on board.

Do you know of any other library systems offering a similar service? Please comment below!

Apple Promises its iCloud will “Just Work”… for everything

iCloud Music icons“It all just works,” says Apple CEO Steve Jobs.

“All” in this case means access anywhere, anytime on any Apple-enabled device (iPhone, iPad, Mac, iPod, iTouch, Apple TV…) to all of your music. And all of your photos. And all of your basic application documents (Pages word-processing docs, Numbers spreadsheets).

The bold promise is that your iTunes music will simply appear on all your devices, and you won’t even have to think about it. And with Apple these days, there no reason to doubt Jobs when he claims it will just work.

It’s no surprise that Jobs announced iCloud at the Worldwide Developers’ Conference (WWDC) in San Francisco on June 6th. What is at least a little surprising is the scope of the announcement, the bells and whistles that will set iCloud apart from competing services offered by Amazon and Google.

One of the key capabilities of iCloud that I wasn’t expecting to see is Match technology. iCloud isn’t just for your iTunes purchased music. The Match feature will also scan your entire library of music (including tracks ripped from CDs etc) and provide you with 256 kbps AAC audio files stored in the cloud… and available on all your devices, just like the music you’ve bought.

Match is something like Amazon’s Cloud Drive, but it sounds much more usable and convenient, since it avoids the tedious process of uploading songs from your computer to the cloud, (typically much slower than downloading, with most ISPs). Better still, you get instant access to a high-quality audio file, regardless of the encoding specs of the existing file on your computer.

The music you buy from iTunes is stored in the cloud for free, and you get 5GB of paid storage space for other content (other audio tracks, files, photos, video, contacts, calendars and more), for $25 per year (half the price of rival cloud services).

Another interesting aspect of iCloud is that it will supercede the Mobile.me cloud platform. If you’re a Mobile.me user, you’ll be delighted to get way more features and capabilities from iCloud, at a much lower cost (iCloud’s $25 annual fee, vs Mobile.me’s $100-plus).

Let’s give Steve Jobs the final word: “iCloud keeps your important information and content up to date across all your devices. All of this happens automatically and wirelessly, and because it’s integrated into our apps you don’t even need to think about it—it all just works.”

I’m loving it :)

U.S. Automakers Play Catch-Up With iPod In-Car Integration

Germany’s BMW did it two years ago. Acura, Ferrari, Honda, Nissan, Volkswagen and other import car-makers followed suit in 2005. Now Ford and General Motors plan to get with the program. Apple Computer is teaming up with GM, Ford, and Mazda, to add built-in integration of its iPod digital audio player to most American-made car models in 2007.

The new alliances with North America’s No. 1 (GM) and No. 2 (Ford) automakers mean the wildly popular iPod will now be compatible with more than 70 per cent of all new 2007 model vehicles sold in the United States, Apple announced today.

According to Apple, GM and Mazda will offer built-in iPod options on all new models, and Ford will offer it on many of its Ford and Lincoln Mercury models later this year.

The partnership with Apple is part of a growing effort by Ford and other car companies to make it easier on drivers to access a variety of gadgets, such as cellphones, GPS navigation systems and digital audio players, while on the road.

“Consumers are listening to music, they’re messaging each other, and they want to engage in all those activities in their vehicles,” says Doug VanDagens, director of Ford’s product and business development in the electronics group.

Ford says it will offer the iPod integration as a dealer-installed option called TripTunes Advanced. List price will be $200 (US) plus installation. An adapter that doubles as a battery-charging station will go in either the glove compartment or the center storage console. Users will be able to control the iPod through buttons on the steering wheel or the radio. Playlists, artists, and other song information will also show on the car audio deck’s display screen.

Ford also plans to add auxiliary audio input jacks on nearly half of its lineup, starting this fall, to accommodate additional audio playback devices.

GM says it will offer its iPod-only setup called Personal Audio Link (PAL) at dealerships for all 56 of its models. The PAL will sell for less than $160 (US) plus installation.

“We know our music-loving customers have been clamouring for a system like this, but we were determined not to go into the market with one unless it was truly integrated, easy to use and affordable,” comments Nancy Philippart, executive director of GM accessories. “I think this system will be music to our customers’ ears.”

Both GM and Ford hope the iPod integration will help bolster their mindshare with younger car buyers. Both carmakers have struggled to attract young consumers in recent years.

Wakeside.com Adds a Full Line of Boat Audio Products

Wakeside, the Portland, OR retailer of wakeboard boat accessories and enhancements, has added a full line of boat audio gear to its offerings.

Already well known for an extensive lineup of wakeboard towers, racks, lights, and tower speakers, it was only natural for Wakeside to add amplifiers, subwoofers, component speakers, and CD/MP3 receivers to go along with their high-end wakeboard boat accessories.

To drive today’s high-end tower speakers, a power amplifier is a must. Many wakeboarders want to hear the music clear and loud while they ride. The power output of most receivers is simply not adequate to get the great sound and high volumes desired from modern tower speaker systems.

For example, the Boss Accessories B-530, MB Quart based tower speaker system can handle a whopping 250 watts RMS per side at 2 ohms. To accommodate these types of power needs, Wakeside has added four lines of power amplifiers from Phoenix Gold, Kicker, Rockford Fosgate, and MTX.

Most riders are not satisfied with just hearing the sound while they ride – they want to “feel” the music and watch the ripples come off of the side of the boat from those reverberating bass notes. This means one or more subwoofers, and a subwoofer enclosure or a self contained subwoofer system. To meet this requirement, Wakeside has added four lines of subwoofers from Kicker, Rockford Fosgate, Infinity, and JL Audio.

Subwoofers can range from eight to fifteen inches, and some models can handle up to 1,000 watts RMS continuous, 2,000 watts peak! Of course you will need another amplifier to power the subwoofer: not to worry, many models are available with mono, stereo, or multi-channel that can be bridged to power the demanding thirst for power that these subwoofers create.

Many wakeboard boats come equipped with two, four, or even six coaxial speakers from the factory. Unfortunately, some of the manufacturers use either marine grade or substandard quality speakers that just don’t sound like the high-end car audio speakers that many have become accustomed to. Wakeside offers only the best for your boating needs, with the addition of MB Quart, Kicker, Infinity, and Rockford Fosgate component and coax speakers. No cheap stuff here – the offering starts at the middle and extends all the way to the very top!

If you need to upgrade your CD/MP3 receiver, then Wakeside also offers both Sony and Pioneer units. An MP3-equipped receiver can play up to 200 tunes from a single CD.

Wakeside has three mobile audio experts on their sales team to help you design your system and select your boat audio equipment. They can also put a package deal together for you if you are building a whole system. If you need help with installation, Wakeside offers professional mobile installation on the West Coast from Seattle to San Diego.

If you are ready to hear and feel the tunes, Wakeside.com is ready to help you to create an incredible system to improve your ride.

Wakeside Web Site

Rockford’s Omnifi Awarded TechTV’s Best of CES in Mobile Audio Category

Rockford Corporation announced today that their new wireless digital media transfer system, Omnifi™, was a CES 2003 showstopper. After winning the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) 2003 Best of Innovations award in the Mobile Electronics category, it followed up with TechTV’s Best of CES in the Auto, Marine, and RV category.

TechTV’s Best of CES focuses on the best new products that are exhibited at CES 2003. TechTV describes award recipients as “the products … most likely to be coveted by consumers in the coming year.” Only twelve products out of the thousands of products on display at the show are awarded this prize.

“We are extremely pleased with the reception and overwhelming popularity Omnifi received at the 2003 CES from dealers, reps, and the media,” exclaims Gary Suttle, Rockford’s president and chief executive officer. “It was very rewarding to see that all of the hard work put into this product by the teams at Rockford and SimpleDevices has been acknowledged. We couldn’t be happier.”

With software from SimpleDevices, Inc. and hardware from Rockford Fosgate, Omnifi eliminates the need to burn CDs to listen to digital music in the car, and gives consumers the ability to download and transfer music and programs from the Internet to the PC hard drive to the consumer’s car and home stereo/theater systems.

“Omnifi was distinctive at the show because it allows the consumer to deliver a wide-range of Internet-based digital media from the PC to their automobile and/or home stereo/theater, making this product the most powerful and flexible digital wireless entertainment platform on the market today,” explains Craig Janik, CTO of SimpleDevices.

“SimpleDevice’s SimpleWare™ and SimpleCenter™ software leverages industry standards, such as 802.11 and Universal Plug and Play (UpnP), to extend home networking technology beyond the PC or home gateway to a wide variety of digital device applications. No other company currently offers wireless transfer capability this simple and effective.”

Omnifi is a family of connected devices based on the SimpleWare software suite. In the Omnifi system, these software applications give consumers the ability to manage their media in one simple, yet powerful media player application, SimpleCenter and then wirelessly deliver it to Omnifi devices that connect to the stereo or are installed in the car.

SimpleWare is the only connected device software on the market that enables the delivery of local and Internet-based music, radio streams, information updates and other types of media files to a variety of products. The Omnifi system allows consumers to manage all of their media in one location, and then access it at their stereo or in their automobile.

The Omnifi mobile system consists of a remote-mounted, drop resistant, 20-Gigabyte storage unit, an ARM7 microprocessor, and an easy-to-use 1-DIN front mounted controller.

The Omnifi home audio/home theater product consists of a stand-alone receiver capable of streaming media dispatched from the personal computer and an optional wireless access point that allows 802.11B wireless transmission and receipt of the media.

Omnifi should be available in April 2003 at a suggested retail price of $599 (US).

Rockford Fosgate Web Site

More CES 2003 News