Farewell to J&R Music World?

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I don’t expect this is the sort of thing that most people who read this blog will care about. But it’s what I feel like writing about tonight!

jr1971560.jpgToday I’m in mourning for what would appear to be the death of a true NYC landmark – J&R Music World.

J&R opened in 1971 on Park Row near City Hall. It was started as a part time thing to earn some money while Rachelle Friedman, the “R” in J&R, was still in college working on her Chemistry degree.

My friend Jimmy and I discovered it very soon after that. It was a small basement shop selling an amazing selection of records at discount prices. Somehow they managed to stock almost any album you could think of in every possible genre – and sold them for prices noticeably cheaper than the other record stores in town, cheap enough to make it worth the subway ride all the way downtown. They sold other stuff as well, but I went there for the records.

Here’s a story about J&R that few people know. The store was owned by Joe and Rachelle Friedman, who were (and presumably still are) observant Jews. So the store was closed on Saturdays. So other stores selling records and stereo equipment opened up near by, and they remained open on Saturdays. Finally one Saturday they found themselves in the neighborhood and said, “We’ve never seen what the store looks like all closed up on a Saturday. Let’s walk over and take a look.” From a distance, they noticed a paper sign taped up on the gates. They got closer and saw what the sign said. “J&R Music World out of business. Go shop at xxxx one block down.”  After that, they started opening on Saturdays.

The store grew and grew. They’d rent space in surrounding buildings and had separate stores for CDs, DVDs, stereo and video equipment, photography equipment, computers, anything and everything – they stocked it, they had a great selection and they had cheap prices. At their largest, the store was over 300,000 square feet. Long before Tower Records came to New York, they had the best jazz, classical and world music departments of any record store in New York. They had the best selections of laser discs, DVDs and presumably Blu-Ray discs.

They expanded to mail order and Internet sales and, according to Wikipedia, at some point they had a smaller shop near Columbia University and at some point they were doing something in the basement of the main Macy’s. Plenty of my friends worked there and I could have ended up working there as well if I hadn’t stumbled into a career in IT.

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In the early 90s, when I was working on Wall Street, I probably shopped there at least 2 or 3 times a week. But I don’t think I’ve been there since I left NYC in 1995 – even on my annual return visits to the city, it’s not an area that I ever got to any more.  But that still means I shopped there regularly for more than 20 years.

People stopped buying CDs and DVDs and found other places to buy stereos, TVs and computers. The entire retail consumer electronics industry has been struggling in the US for years. Big box chains have closed across the country and I suppose it was just a matter of time for this independent giant as well.

And this week the store closed. All of the staff were laid off. The Friedmans have said that they plan to build a new store, “an unprecedented retailing concept and social mecca.” But I wonder if that will really happen. The Friedmans have to be in their 60s at least, and I’ve got no idea if their children are involved in the business.

Farewell J&R and thanks for the memories.

 

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How I Do Passwords

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The Heartbleed mess is a reminder that not only do you need strong passwords, you also need to use different passwords for each web site you log into.  These days we know that passwords should not be words found in the dictionary and should be a mixture of capital and small letters, numbers and non-alpha-numeric characters. The problem is remembering them.

Most experts recommend using a Password Manager such as LastPass, which not only stores your passwords and auto-fills login pages on web sites, it will also generate unique passwords for every site you visit. I don’t use the latter feature. I probably should, but being old school about the whole thing, I’m concerned with how I will remember passwords if I’m using a computer that’s not mine (at an Internet cafe or whatever) – not that this happens very often any more – and have to sit down and recall that my password for some email service is A45ghf76#2!

So I came up with my own scheme and so far I believe it works pretty well. (Feel free to point out any flaws I may have overlooked.)

I’ve chosen a word. In this case the word is something that meant something to me a long time ago and something that no one who knows me today knows – the name I used as a DJ on college radio more than 40 years ago. Then I replace all the vowels with numbers. Then, to make it unique for each site, I append a two letter abbreviation of the site.  (I also have several variations on this that I won’t go into.)

Some web sites rate the strength of your password when you are signing up and this one always gets rated as strong. It may not be the best method, but it works and I can remember my password for pretty much every site without having to look it up somewhere.

I’m not saying my way is the best way.  The point is – this is 2014, the Internet is a playground and you need separate, different, strong passwords for every web site you log into.  Protect yourself. Live long and prosper. Be careful, it’s a jungle out there. And so on …

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Heartbleed – Take It Seriously

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Folks, most of you know my day job is in IT, and in part I’m managing hosted environments for well over a million users worldwide. So a big part of my day today has been spent learning about Heartbleed. If you use the Internet, you need to learn about it too.

The Heartbleed Bug is a serious vulnerability in the popular OpenSSL cryptographic software library. This weakness allows stealing the information protected, under normal conditions, by the SSL/TLS encryption used to secure the Internet. SSL/TLS provides communication security and privacy over the Internet for applications such as web, email, instant messaging (IM) and some virtual private networks (VPNs).

The Heartbleed bug allows anyone on the Internet to read the memory of the systems protected by the vulnerable versions of the OpenSSL software. This compromises the secret keys used to identify the service providers and to encrypt the traffic, the names and passwords of the users and the actual content. This allows attackers to eavesdrop on communications, steal data directly from the services and users and to impersonate services and users.

In other words – your email, your online chats, your Facebook, your credit card numbers, your Bitcoin stash … your everything.

From security expert Bruce Schneier - ”Catastrophic” is the right word. On the scale of 1 to 10, this is an 11.

So, what should you do? The Atlantic has a good summary.

  1. Change the passwords for the handful of sites that really matter to you. I’ll explain how you can do this in a total of ten minutes or less. Thisprobably isn’t necessary, but just in case…

  2. Do not ever use the same password at two sites that matter to you. Ever. Heartbleed or not, this lowers the security level of any site with that password to the level of the sleaziest and least-secure site where you’ve ever used it.

  3. Use a password manager, which can generate an unlimited set of unique, “difficult” passwords and remember them for you.

  4. Use “two-step” sign-in processes wherever they’re available, starting with Gmail.

  5. Read what happened in our family three years ago, when one of our Gmail accounts was taken over by someone in Africa, if you would like a real-world demonstration of why you should take these warnings seriously. It’s from an article called “Hacked.”

 

 

 

 

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Friday Night Rocks

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There’s a new place in town and it’s called the New Central Harbourfront, a huge outdoor area right along the harbor next to the Central Ferry piers.  This week, with the Hong Kong Rugby 7′s in town, they’re holding daily events here as part of what they’re calling HK Fanzone. The opening night featured local star Khalil Fong while Saturday night brought De La Soul back to Hong Kong.

Friday night brought Friday Night Rocks, the first in a series of events celebrating the 10th anniversary of Underground. So for the crazy low price of just HK$150 for advance tickets, you got a festival celebrating the amazing diversity of Hong Kong’s independent music scene (plus a guest band from Korea). The bands that played were:

It was a great night, to put it mildly. Stand-outs for me were Shotgun Politics, Galaxy Express and Dr. Eggs.

Here are a few quick photos. There’s a lot more over at the Friday Night Rocks Gallery Page at Spike’s Photos.

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A Hard Act to Follow

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One thing about getting older, when you get some minor sickness it hits you much harder. I’ve been feeling like crap for 5 days now and not certain I will go into the office on Monday or not.

I’ve been doing this blogging thing for close to ten years now – my first blog post was December 4, 2004. Back then I was writing about something a bit different and I was getting pretty high numbers, for whatever that’s worth. Then a couple of years later the blog assumed its current haphazard form and the numbers dropped down and I’ve always been quite okay with that. I get around 15,000 visits per month (not uniques) and I’m always surprised that the numbers are that high. Oh sure, like everyone else, I fantasize about writing something that goes viral and brings me fame and fortune but I know it’s not likely to happen. My posts are written relatively quickly and I spend zero time on SEO. I like writing, I like communicating, and I do it for its own sake.

Then I get something like my last post.  If I normally get 15,000 views a month, that post got more than 14,000 views in about 5 days. Clearly it resonated with a lot of people. Biggest referer? Facebook, by far.

It’s not my first time ranting about conditions in Hong Kong and it’s probably not my best rant either. I would ascribe a lot of the views of that post to the general sentiment one encounters every day – which is one of increasing unrest and unhappiness with the way things are going here. I think some people share my view that the quality of life in Hong Kong is noticeably decreasing and nothing is being done about it. Other people of course do not share this view. That’s life for you.

So one might think that now I’m feeling the pressure to continue in that vein. But the fact is that I won’t. I’ll keep on doing what I’ve been doing – a little bit of this followed by a little bit of that – blogging as the mood strikes me. And I don’t see myself filling up the sidebar with ads or running a lot of sponsored posts (you wouldn’t believe how many inquiries I get every week to run that kind of stuff).  And I’m sure that in the not-too-distant future, I’ll have more rants, so stay tuned if that’s your thing.

Going off on a slight tangent here …. Big Lychee, Hemlock’s blog, infamous in certain circles, right? Well, he’s certainly got his followers. At the moment comments are broken on his blog and his RSS feed isn’t working (I suspect he doesn’t even realize the latter).  Hemlock’s been blogging longer than I have and his posts are more consistent than mine. Every day, 5 days a week, excluding holidays, he writes a thousand words of usually good analysis of what he perceives to be the issue of the day, often served with a side order of how much better he is than everyone else. (He has this annoying habit lately of attacking fashion models in ads for not looking the way he believes people ought to look. I think he believes that’s him being “snarky,” similar to the way he will occasionally go after dogs and dog owners.)

I kind of feel bad for him. I mean, just imagine, waking up every morning, almost every day for more than 10 years, and feeling it’s his mission to find something to be pissed off about (not that that’s so hard in Hong Kong, to be honest). He’s even written a book about Hong Kong political and economic scene, currently at #3,207,282 on Amazon’s best seller list. And then, having written so well and written for such a long period of time, he’s managed to change absolutely fucking nothing, at least not as far as I can tell.

He and I come from a different place and a different era. My experience is of battling the Vietnam War and Nixon and kind of being proven right and yet having lost at the same time. Hunter S. Thompson put it best:

Strange memories on this nervous night in Las Vegas. Five years later? Six? It seems like a lifetime, or at least a Main Era—the kind of peak that never comes again. San Francisco in the middle sixties was a very special time and place to be a part of. Maybe it meant something. Maybe not, in the long run . . . but no explanation, no mix of words or music or memories can touch that sense of knowing that you were there and alive in that corner of time and the world. Whatever it meant. . . .

History is hard to know, because of all the hired bullshit, but even without being sure of “history” it seems entirely reasonable to think that every now and then the energy of a whole generation comes to a head in a long fine flash, for reasons that nobody really understands at the time—and which never explain, in retrospect, what actually happened.

My central memory of that time seems to hang on one or five or maybe forty nights—or very early mornings—when I left the Fillmore half-crazy and, instead of going home, aimed the big 650 Lightning across the Bay Bridge at a hundred miles an hour wearing L. L. Bean shorts and a Butte sheepherder’s jacket . . . booming through the Treasure Island tunnel at the lights of Oakland and Berkeley and Richmond, not quite sure which turn-off to take when I got to the other end (always stalling at the toll-gate, too twisted to find neutral while I fumbled for change) . . . but being absolutely certain that no matter which way I went I would come to a place where people were just as high and wild as I was: No doubt at all about that. . . .

There was madness in any direction, at any hour. If not across the Bay, then up the Golden Gate or down 101 to Los Altos or La Honda. . . . You could strike sparks anywhere. There was a fantastic universal sense that whatever we were doing was right, that we were winning. . . .

And that, I think, was the handle—that sense of inevitable victory over the forces of Old and Evil. Not in any mean or military sense; we didn’t need that. Our energy would simply prevail. There was no point in fighting—on our side or theirs. We had all the momentum; we were riding the crest of a high and beautiful wave. . . .

So now, less than five years later, you can go up on a steep hill in Las Vegas and look West, and with the right kind of eyes you can almost see the high-water mark—that place where the wave finally broke and rolled back.

I remember that wave breaking. Thompson wrote that book around ’71 so he’s referring to events in the mid 60s.  For me, I think it broke and rolled back in ’72 when despite everything we knew to be true, Nixon was re-elected. Even with eventually managing to drive both him and Agnew from office (and leaving America with a president that no one had voted for), well, things just weren’t the same after that. I guess it’s fair to say that I hunger for a similar wave in Hong Kong and that I’d like to be riding the crest of that wave. But I don’t really expect it to happen.

Anyway, for all those folks who discovered me via my last rant and are looking for more of the same and will get tired of waiting for me to revisit that theme, by all means do check out Big Lychee. There’s certainly no other English language blogger in Hong Kong who is as consistent as him in attacking the status quo.

 

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Salaries in Hong Kong

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I’m home with the flu today. I’m feeling shitty so if you want to blame this post on that, feel free.

The Hong Kong Economic Times reports that the current starting salary for a university graduate in the IT field is HK$12,000 per month.  That’s roughly US$1,560 per month or US$18,720 per year.

Restaurant workers in Hong Kong can get HK$10,000 a month and maybe even some tips on top of that.

Of course, an IT worker with a few years experience will see his or her salary go up a fair amount – if they’re smart and if they’re working for the right company. In most cases, if they’re working for a local company and don’t make it into the ranks of management, they will top out at around the HK$20-25k per month mark.  (I’ve known people with PhDs earning this amount.)  The best ones will go to work for an ibank, where they can earn double that, or try to start their own company.

These are programmers and sysadmins we’re talking about, the same skills that can earn a six figure annual income in the US. Here they make so little that they have to live with their parents until they get married so there’s a second income to help pay the rent.

I know this is a fact because I see the salaries of the people who work for me (and it’s something that I’m essentially powerless to do anything about since I don’t set these numbers in the company I work for or the ones I worked for in the past).

Side story: Not my current workplace, but my previous one. I was online at Subway to get lunch and saw one of my programmers standing in line in about 5 people in front of me. A guy who was earning just about HK$11,000 per month.  They told him HK$30 for the sandwich. He asked to use Octopus, and was told they don’t accept that. He didn’t have HK$30 (US$3.90 in his pocket! He turned to walk out of there without any food. I tapped him on the shoulder and handed him the money to pay for his lunch. You know what he asked me? “Do you have enough cash left for yourself?” I think this is the daily reality for a lot of people in HK.

This vaguely leads me into a rant that I’ve had sitting in my drafts folder for several months.

Every time people complain about the rising residential and commercial rents, we are told that nothing can be done because Hong Kong is the world’s freest market economy.

Every time people complain about the massive influx of mainland tourists shoppers overwhelming almost every aspect of daily Hong Kong life, we are told it is good for the economy.

We are lied to on a daily basis. 

Today, over 1.6 million people, more than 300,000 of them elderly, live in poverty in Hong Kong. How is this even remotely acceptable in “Asia’s World City”?  Why do we accept the fact that we live in a place where the elderly go from trash bin to trash bin looking for recyclable materials (cardboard, beer cans, etc.) so that they can get a few dollars for a bowl of instant noodles for dinner when our government has billions of dollars of excess tax income just sitting there?

Rapidly rising unregulated commercial rents serve to benefit only a small handful of billionaire landlords. We read almost daily reports about how family businesses that have thrived for generations are forced to shut down.

The high price of rent is reflected in the high prices we pay for food, goods and services – it is in effect a hidden tax burden that must be carried by all Hong Kong residents. The artificial housing shortage created to benefit the Hong Kong billionaires only makes matters worse. 

We’ve had ten years of increasing numbers of mainland tourists streaming across the border and there has been almost no benefit at all for the average Hong Kong citizen.  The only benefit has been the creation of more jobs at the very lowest rungs of the ladder, the minimum wage rung and the barely above minimum wage rung. 

Salaries at the bottom rungs of the ladder have remained flat in Hong Kong for a decade or more. The minimum wage in Hong Kong is HK$30 per hour.  So someone who works an 8 hour day and a six day workweek can earn HK$6,240 per month, barely above US$800 per month or HK$74,880 per year.

The Confederation of Trade Unions ran a study with security guards, earning from $30 to $35 per hour. “Thirty-nine percent claimed it was a constant struggle to buy enough food to get by, while 37 percent said it was virtually impossible to find rent money. The vice chairman of the confederation, Tommy Yu Chung-yiu, noted that inflation increased 4.5 percent last year and so security guards felt the pinch worse than most, given their pay.”

In the U.S., they are discussing raising the minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10. From The Atlantic, “Increasing the minimum to $10.10 an hour, as Democrats have proposed, would eliminate about 500,000 jobs. On the other hand, they also find it would pull 900,000 people out of poverty, and put around $19 billion into the pockets of low- and middle-income families. About 16.5 million workers would get a pay bump.  Wealthier families see their real income drop a bit, as business profits slip and prices rise somewhat.”

I’m not an economist (and I don’t play one on TV either) but I think one might safely assume that a larger bump in the HK minimum wage (the last increase, in 2013, was US$0.26 per hour) would have a similar impact here. The billionaires might have to get one less bowl of sharks fin soup at Fook Lam Moon per year (boo hoo!) while a significant portion of the Hong Kong population might be able to stop eating cat food for dinner.

No, I don’t know the answer. Except I know that Hong Kong’s current answer, which is essentially doing nothing, definitely isn’t the answer.

More on this later I’m sure.

 

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Hong Kong Neon Online Exhibition 香港霓虹招牌

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One of the things I always take pictures of as I walk around Hong Kong is neon signs. I have this feeling that they are a disappearing art form. These signs form a big part of our image of Hong Kong and we take them for granted.

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I’ve heard that the government no longer issues licenses to erect these huge signs hanging over the street, so a new shop that wants to put up one of these beauties can use an existing structure, or perhaps rent one from a nearby landlord that doesn’t want to use it for himself (I’ve heard that Coyote bar in Wanchai pays a huge monthly rent for their sign).

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And then you have places like Tsui Wah, the restaurant chain that had some of the most elaborate neon signs.

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, and for some reason has been “modernizing” by replacing those signs with newer ones using LED lights.

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(Not bad but not quite the same thing, eh?)

I’ve thought about driving around at night to various older districts in HK and looking for signs and photographing them, but it’s one of those things I’ve just never gotten around to.

So I was quite pleased to get an email from someone at the West Kowloon Cultural District Authority.

Being the first of its kind in such a large scale in Hong Kong, the online exhibition Mobile M+: NEONSIGNS.HK to be launched on 21 March 2014 will celebrate a key feature of the city’s streetscapes by exploring, mapping and documenting its neon signs – while inviting the public to upload images of their favourite examples from throughout Hong Kong.

A crucial component of the NEONSIGNS.HK website will be a moderated crowd-sourcing element, a “Neon Map” through which anyone and everyone will be invited to collectively map and share images and stories online of existing neon signs from throughout Hong Kong.

I am thus writing to seek your action for the exhibition by sharing photo(s) of your favourite Hong Kong neon signs (香港霓虹招牌). Please kindly send us your work with a caption and/or a short paragraph of story. There is no limitation on the number of photo(s) for submission. Your work will be uploaded to our site before its launch on 21 Mar. Once it is launched, your work in the site can be reached by estimated 80,000 visitors during the exhibition period from 21 Mar to 30 Jun 2014

 So I’ve sent in a few photos for this. You can too!
 
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Click on the poster to see it larger. You can submit photos for the web site via Instagram, using the hashtag #HKNEON.  The web site goes live on March 21st and I’m really looking forward to seeing what they’ve done. I’m also happy that this part of Hong Kong will at least be preserved as photographs.

 

 

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Friday Night Rocks!

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Yes, every Friday night rocks but Friday March 28th is going to rock even harder.

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After staging at least 150 shows in Hong Kong clubs over the past ten years, my good friends at Underground are doing their first music festival – and it’s long overdue in my opinion!

The Hong Kong Rugby 7′s are coming up in two weeks and some organizers have put together a multi-day event called HK Fan Zone. Khalil Fong is scheduled for the opening night, Tuesday March 25th, and De La Soul will be headlining on Saturday March 29th. All of this will be taking place at the “New Central Harbourfront.” This is really nice – a second waterfront venue for events and concerts. Is Hong Kong finally dipping some toes into 21st century water?

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Friday March 28th belongs to Underground and they’ll be bringing along SEVEN bands for the event. This includes local indie favorites like Noughts and Exes, Dr. Eggs and Bamboo Star, as well as Galaxy Express, a hard rocking trio from Korea.

There are a limited number of advance tickets for sale at only $150 – admission will cost $200 at the door. I think that’s an incredibly reasonable price for an event like this.  You can buy advance tickets online here.

Read more about the event and the participating bands here.

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Finance Live! – Charity Benefit

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(Please click on the above image to see it full size.)

I’m sure that a lot of people in town know Steve Bernstein. By day he works in the financial field and somehow most nights he finds the energy to be playing mandolin in a variety of bands all over town, frequently The Wanch, where I’ve seen him perform many times as a member of the Joven Goce Band.

As if all of this wasn’t already enough, he also puts together charity shows and the latest one is coming up on March 20th at Grappa’s Cellar. Titled Finance Live!, it will feature five bands, all of which include musicians who work in Hong Kong’s financial industry.

The proceeds from this show will be going to Hong Kong charity Foodlink, This is the charity that is working to end hunger in Hong Kong primarily by collecting all of the food that hotels and restaurants used to throw out at the end of the day and distributing this food to those in need.  

So in essence, you’re going to have a great night out, hear some great live music, drink a bit (or a lot, if you’re so inclined) and know that you’re helping people in Hong Kong who really need your help.

Finance Live! is almost sold out, but not quite. I’m asking you, my readers, to help make this event a sell out, and to keep an eye out for their future events as well.

If you’re looking to buy tickets, or if you just want further details on this event, drop an email to steve (dot) bernstein (at) sinopac (dot) com.

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Neil Young’s Pono – Oh No!

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Neil Young is a famous audiophile. Cranky ole Neil has raged for years about audio fidelity. First we got to hear about how much he hated compact discs. Now seemingly every chance he gets he’ll go off on how much he hates MP3s.

To some extent, he’s right. Digital music doesn’t sound as good as analog. And compressed files don’t sound as good as uncompressed. The thing is, 99.9% of the world doesn’t care.  The average person can’t afford the kind of equipment that brings out this rich sound and the average person probably couldn’t tell the difference – especially because most of the music today is heavily processed stuff that is mastered for MP3 in the first place. Most people are probably listening to 128 KB MP3 files through the cheap earbuds that came packaged with their phones and they think it sounds great.

At any rate, for years Neil has been threatening something revolutionary in the audio world and he finally announced it, via a Kickstarter campaign – Pono Music, Where Your Soul Rediscovers Music. And it’s not really revolutionary after all.

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After all these years of sound and fury from Mr. Young, I for one feel let down.

Pono is a portable music player and a music store. The files are in FLAC format, although the player will also handle MP3 and other formats.  So it’s not a new audio format, which is what I was kind of expecting. FLAC has been around for a long time and there is already a huge library of software for encoding in FLAC and for playing back FLAC music files.

So first, the store. They claim that all the major record labels are behind this. Albums are expected to cost between $15 and $25. They’re reasoning that people will pay more to buy digital music in a lossless format. It’s expensive but I can see some people going for this.

There is no word on whether or not the music files they sell you will contain Digital Rights Management (DRM) protection. I think the answer to this is no because they say that you can play the files you buy “on your PonoPlayer or other compatible devices.”

So I think that’s all pretty good.

Now, the player.  This is where I have a problem.

It will sell for US$399. It will serve one function and one function only – playing music. I am already walking around every day with two mobile phones and a tablet that are capable of playing music and are also capable of about a million other functions. Do I really need to carry another device just for playing music?

Well, they claim that music will sound great on this.  They say that this will be “the best playback device ever for listening to high quality digital music.” The best Digital Audio Converter (DAC).  The triangular shape is said to allow them to use larger components inside, properly spaced, as well as a round battery instead of a flat one, which they say will all result in less interference.

The device itself has just three buttons – on/off and two buttons for volume. Everything else is controlled through a touchscreen interface. In terms of storage, it comes with 64 gig of internal memory and with a 64 gig MicroSD card. They’re claiming 8 hours of battery life for the player. The player will be assembled in Shenzhen.

The Kickstarter campaign has already raised over $2.4 million dollars. There are different rewards at different pledge levels, starting from $5 (you get a thank you on their web site). You can get a Pono player for $300, $100 off list price, in black or yellow.

$400 gets you something a bit more collectible.

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It’s a chrome Pono player, numbered limited edition (500 of each), laser inscribed with the signature of the artist of your choice, pre-loaded with 2 albums chosen by that artist. The signature editions that are sold out are from Pearl Jam, Crosby Stills Nash & Young, and Neil Young. Still available are ones from Tom Petty, Willie Nelson, James Taylor, My Morning Jacket, Patti Smith, Arcade Fire, Beck, Crosby Stills & Nash, Dave Matthews Band, Foo Fighters, Herbie Hancock, Norah Jones, Lenny Kravitz.  I guess Patti Smith and Arcade Fire would be my first and second choices – if I was interested in getting one.

The Pono player is expected to ship in October.

$5,000 gets you an invite to a launch party in California hosted by Neil. This one is sold out already.

So why am I not interested in getting one? These days most of my music listening is done in noisy environments – on the bus, in the office, walking down the street. And I recognize that at my age, a lot of my ability to hear high frequencies is gone. I think that sitting at home in my home office I might hear and appreciate the difference, but the rest of the time I won’t. And I simply don’t want to carry around another device every day when the ones I’ve already got already do the job for me quite well.

What about you? Does the Pono player interest you? Are you thinking about getting one?

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