I hope your holiday celebrations have gone well and that your holiday continues to go famously.
For my part, my wife and I did pretty well. I think just the fact that we were blessed to have family members who welcomed us into their home clinched that right up front. The rest was just gravy.
Like many of the households among those in our circle of friends, we mostly exchanged the gift of companionship and tokens of hand-crafted "stocking stuffers" with the adults. This we did in favor of then lavishing the young ones with toys, clothes and other material things. But, before all this came to pass, there was one present I treated myself to a little early this year. An FM transmitter adapter for my iPhone.
This past summer my wife and I made plans for a two-week vacation in December. We're currently on the first leg. This leg involved a 6-1/2 hour drive from our home in Orange County-ish, California to points in Arizona where her side of the family live. To prepare for the longish drive I bought an FM transmitter adapter for my iPhone.
Though I've seen these range upwards of $100, I got my no frills model for $14.99 at Fry's. The gist is this: it connects to the output jack of most MP3 players, iPods, iPhones, and so on. It then takes the audio signals coming out of your musical device and converts that to an FM signal. You choose the FM frequency over which it transmits. Typically, that'd be a "vacant" frequency that you tune in to on your car radio.
Think of it as your very own radio transmission tower playing tunes from your very own micro radio station.
It works great. No more burning and fiddling with CDs. I simply set the playlist on my iPhone to "shuffle play" the 350+ songs I've got loaded and I'm set for the duration of the drive. I downloaded a bunch of books from Audible.com before the trip, so we were also able to break up the monotony a bit by switching from music to a sci-fi audio book my wife and I are "reading" together. Then, when she naps, I can go off on a non-fiction book I'm reading on the side. (I'm forbidden from digging into the "shared" non-fiction book when she's not around to listen in.)
But here's the deal, I also have Pandora loaded on my iPhone. That technology, coupled with the (soon) future development of WiMax capabilities makes me wonder about the future of satellite radio providers such as XM and Sirius. In case you missed it, Pandora is basically music over the internet. But it's also more than that. It represents an emergent shift in the social media landscape.
In a previous post, (ref: emergent trends in the social media landscape) I made a point about a shift from mass production to mass customization. Pandora's services represents such a shift. You see, while there are many "internet radio" services today that let you listen to music and even news over the internet (e.g., Rhapsody, MSN Music, Yahoo Music, ChoiceRadio) Pandora's software learns from your preferences across a musical DNA library consisting of over 400 musical attributes.
When you select a song title and artist in Pandora it will initially serve you a playlist of songs that match that musical piece. As you listen to the playlist, you have the opportunity to refine it by giving an occasional "thumbs up" or "thumbs down" on different titles. As you do so, Pandora's analytic engine remembers that. Not just the song title, artist and category, but the 400 other attributes associated with that piece. From then forward, the playlist will reflect that refinement. Subsequent "thumb rating" inputs by you will refine that playlist further.
The thing is, I have to be connected to the internet to listen to my musical stream from Pandora. I typically have it up all day when I'm at my desk in the office, or hanging at Peet's writing blog posts. And, while there is an app available for the iPhone that works great within a relatively static geographic region, the 3G connection becomes a little spotty for consistent musical streaming across a longer distance from, say, Orange County, CA to Mesa, Arizona. But, if it's an annoying anomaly today, it's becoming less so as connected technologies evolve.
Fast forward about two to three years hence when WiMax capabilities (or other similar technology) allow us broadband internet access across the same geographic span. In that scenario, whether I'm listening to custom music, downloadable audio books or internet radio, I'll be able to get it all fairly reliably over the internet on a device like my iPhone traveling anywhere across the country. And with an FM transmitter like the one I'm currently using to listen to audio from my iPod/iPhone I ask ya, when I can get a customized experience from another provider fairly reliably on a mobile platform over the internet, why would I need a satellite radio subscription plan?
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