When reading my stuff about music, you may wish to listen to a song or two from particular musicians, to get a better understanding of who or what the heck I'm talking about. Websites where you can download available songs is a fantastic addition to our culture. However, it does come with certain perils which I address below.
First off, to use these services you need to go to the website's main page and find the link which brings you to the service's software download. Download the appropriate version for your application (Windows, Mac, etc), install it, and then log in to the service using your new software and user name.
Napster.com offers three ways to come to songs for downloading. One is called "Discover", which showcases several groups on a weekly basis. Another is called the "Hot List". The user creates his/r own hot list by adding the names of other users who have lots of music the hot list creator likes, etc. The third method is using the "Search" option. Here, you simply enter the name of a group and/or the name of a song, and you are presented with a list of songs currently available, which match your search criteria. (There is also an "advanced" function which allows the user to specify technical aspects of the songs which come up - ie, the connection speed the other users have.)
Other Music Downloading Sites Include: mp3grandcentral.net and mp3index.com. Bring lots of money with you, of course!
Here's even an index page of websites concerned with music downloading.
Warning!!! There are many computer vandals and password "crackers" using the Internet today. Their numbers are growing at what seems to be an exponential rate. These music websites are prime hunting ground for vulnerable computers. Because of this, I must recommend that if you connect to the Internet with a telephone line and modem that you also use a software firewall. If you connect in any other way, I recommend using a hardware firewall.
If you use Napster and you're not using any kind of firewall, one quick check for a "bad guy" is that the "Getting Information..." or "Waiting..." messages stay a long time, eventually turning into "Timed Out". Yet this is not perfect. Sometimes the system will just do that if it gets very busy, or if the other user is downloading a lot of songs all at once! Another clue of a potential hacker/cracker/vandal is if you get no information screen up when you request a particular user's information (criminals like to stay anonymous, "no witnesses"). Not contacting suspicious users will still not protect you from hack attacks. My firewall also records attacks when not specifically up- or downloading. This implies that there are people that use programs that scan the entire range of IP addresses connected at any particular time, no doubt searching for insecure computers. By the way, I haven't used Napster since it came back online. The information I have here is from my experiences back in 2000 and 2001.
Once you use such services a while, you will understand all of this. If you use the Internet these days without any type of firewall, I strongly suggest that you keep NO vital information on the computer you use to connect with. Initiation files (.INI), Execution files (.BAT, .EXE), Password files (.PWL or custom extension) and Quicken files are among the favorite targets of theft and vandalism. The intruder must first compile information about your system in order to prepare a more sophisticated attack. You will probably find yourself wanting to reformat your hard drive(s) and reinstall everything about every 3 weeks or so, depending on how much you use the Internet. So be sure to always have backup copies of your programs available. If you have only one computer in your household, I suggest you keep your vital information files (financial information, personal correspondences, counseling intern's journal, etc) on something external like a "Zip drive" or CD (if you have a CD writer). Then, when you're connected to the Internet, make sure that these external media are not available to the system!
Another favorite for computer criminals is the setting of the Sub Seven trojan on your computer (Alt Link for Sub 7). If you are harboring this particular trojan when they come by to scan for it, you may notice your processing power drop off severely whenever you're connected to the net! (It can get so bad that you can't do anything you want to do!) Otherwise, your computer may work just fine. What's happening is, when you're connected to the Internet the trojan allows for the remote control of your computer. It is in effect hijacked to enable somebody else to use your computer and connection to hack yet others, to help mount a denial of service attack against someone, or to help somebody spam millions of Internet users!
I would even go so far as to suggest that it is the responsibility of every benevolent user of the Internet, to plug as many security holes as possible in your own system, in order to at least slow down the assault of criminal computer users. Considering the utter impotence of law enforcement in this arena, I hold on to the hope that the legal system will eventually catch up with them technologically.
How To Fight Back Against The Mu$ic Greedies:
I can see it coming...a flat rate charge per song downloaded! That means that if you download a 30-second voice track you will pay the same as when you download an entire album side made up of one song! As the Eagles once wrote, "Some call it sick, but I call it greed!" (That line is from the song called "Get Over It"; I don't know which album it's from, though.)
Wouldn't it be nicer if they were actually fair with us for once?! How about a per minute charge? Now I don't mean that they should rip us off like the phone companies do. Should you pay for 8 minutes when you download the 7:06 song "Hey Jude", by the Beatles? A minute can be broken down into at least sixty units. What's wrong with calculating every five or ten seconds as a fraction, while adding up to the minute charge? So, for "Hey Jude" you would be charged for 7 full minutes plus one or two minute fractions.
(Caution...politics ahead!) Now what can we do about all those times that our downloads crap out? You know, like when you're 80% done with a download, but then the connection is severed for whatever reason. How about legislating that each time that happens, the company who's raking in all our cash is required to pay the customer $100.00 for his or her loss of time? That'll improve download efficiency in a hurry!
Alternatively, what you can do is contact your favorite local radio station and request that they institute a "no talk-over" segment on a regular basis. What I mean here, is that the DJ will take requests by phone, letter, email, etc, and play entire songs or CDs over the air without talking over the beginning or the end of any song. This way, the radio station pays the royalties and the listeners can record it clean and legally over the air!
Speaking of boycotts, what do you think would happen to the price of gasoline if every person in the Western World went even one week without driving their cars, etc? I mean every person -- no matter what the consequences were. I suspect we might even see the return of the 28¢ gallon of gas!
One interesting effect of the overpopulation of the planet, is that when you think of the fact that there's power in numbers, you get a real good idea of the amount of power inherent in the current populations of the worldwide nations!
by Ken Windish. All rights reserved.