All posts by Gloria Cameron

Music Producer, Music Publisher, Singer, Songwriter Pop, Blues, Rock, R&B

SUBSCRIPTION, PERPETUAL LICENSE, EXTENDED WARRANTY, AND EXTENDED SUPPORT

Four of the most underhanded schemes merchants have used to rack up profits on the vulnerable consumer. 

Subscription and Perpetual License  

About fifteen years ago Norton allowed you to buy their anti-virus software as a one-shot deal for your personal use. Significantly, they offered upgrades in order to fix bugs often shortly after you’ve acquired the software. In addition, they sometimes offer upgrades which contain new features that they feel could improve your user experience. This kind of upgrade is usually offered at an additional cost. The drawback for this moneymaking frontier was that many people did not take the upgrade because they didn’t feel that the upgrade would make  that much difference to their current user experience, or they saw it as an unnecessary expense. As a result of Norton’s inability to profit from this feature, they began to push subscription, and did so without appropriately informing consumers.  

          Indeed, I purchased the Norton software for a new Microsoft computer I had acquired. At the time of the purchase, I wasn’t informed that it was on a subscription basis. Also, I didn’t know that Norton would hold onto my credit card number and would later try to auto-debit my account two years later. However, at the time when they tried to charge my credit card it had already expired. Furthermore, for want of a better choice of words, they had rigged the software to stop functioning properly after a two-year time frame.  At this point because of the chaos the software was causing, I came to the determination that the best thing to do would be to uninstall it. But Norton had made it so that the software could not be easily uninstalled, and offered very little help when I reached out to their support center for help. In fact, at one point while working with a representative, instead of uninstalling the soft, the representative deleted all of my songwriting audio files off the computer. I eventually was able to download a software off their website that helped me uninstall the software.Ultimately, I never used their software again.  

        A class action suit was brought against Norton and because I was once their customer I received a letter regarding a possible share of the settlement. However, when I filled out the form for my possible compensation instead of complying,  Norton simply used my personal information to try to recruit me to start buying their products again. I never received any compensation. 

        In 2009 while I was an undergraduate student in college, I was able to buy a student version of Microsoft Office from the college bookstore at a one-time payment of $89.00. When I was in Graduate School, the college sent me an email saying that Microsoft was trying to figure out how to give students Office 365 for free. Students soon learned that the way they would do this was through the use of Microsoft OneDrive. In the beginning I ignored the emails I received from the college, simply because I believe there had to be some kind of catch to it. However, I later recognized the convenience of my being able to pull up documents I created at home while in the library at school, and vice versa. Ultimately, I decided to make use of the offer.   

         About a month after I had earned my Master’s Degree, I was trying to engage a document that I had created using the 365 app, when I received a message telling me to buy a license in order to access my documents. In fact I was locked out of the software and would not be able to access my documents unless I started a subscription. I was very irritated. The reason why I was irritated is because Microsoft neglected to mention that when you graduate from college you will have to buy a license. Had they told me that in the beginning, I would never have used the software because I was quite satisfied with the version that I owned. In fact, I think Microsoft knew exactly what they were doing. What better way to rack up profits if not by disallowing students the use of their documents after they graduate college until they purchase a license. It is not typical that students get a job within a month after graduating from college. So at this point I feel that Microsoft behaved like a snake. My workaround, was to simply uninstall the 365 app and go back to using my own version. 

           Unfortunately, Microsoft wasn’t the only company who took students on a head-trip. Computer companies like Dell and Apple also pressed their luck in ways such as pretending that they were offering you their hardware at a discount, even as they were offering it to you at the exact same retail price they were offering it on the market. I know this for a fact because I did my research. Anyway, I am deviating. This is a topic for another blog.   

          In thinking about Microsoft Office, I offer that the inner workings of the softwares are already stretched to the limit, and because of this, much of the so-called upgrades add no value to the consumer’s user experience. There is just not much more ways Microsoft can change it and claim that came up with something new to improve the user experience, and left as is, there would be no more revenues for this software, which most people would have already owned.  As a result in order to attract buyers, Microsoft began dangling 365 at the price of $9.99 per month. The idea is to give  you a manageable way of paying for the software, but if you are not mindful in ten years you will have given Microsoft $1,200.00 of your hard earned money. Besides, if Microsoft has 1 million subscribers,  they stand to make around 1.2 billion dollars in 10 years. So this idea of giving you a new way to manage to pay for the software is just a new kind of neoliberalism moneymaking frontier for companies like Microsoft and others  to rack up profits. Indeed, the younger generation who are just starting out and have never owned this product before are really at a disadvantage. 

        The upgrade Microsoft 365 is simply a rearrangement of the fields that were in the previous versions. This rearrangement makes it difficult for people who are familiar with some of the previous versions. The  only two notable new features are the ability to dictate rather than write, and the ability to read back to you what you wrote. Still, the ability to dictate has problems. For example, it often writes down something that you didn’t say, and sometimes backs out something that you did say and replace it with something it thinks you should say. Also while dictating you have to pay strict attention, because the microphone only engage for a short period of time, and so if you look away that might be the time the microphone chooses to stop recording, and you could end up with a whole paragraph of spoken words unrecorded.  

           The other feature is it’s ability to read back to you what you write. This feature makes it easy to find your mistakes. However, even as these are some decent features, offering software on a subscription basis is a disadvantage to the consumer, because as described above, in the long run it would end up costing way more than it should. 

             Another company that has began offering it’s software through perpetual license is Avid. Avid is a company that sells music making softwares such as Protools and Sibelius. Avid’s products are used by a majority of musicians filmmakers and music producers. Back in 2003 when Digidesign/Avid introduced  Protools version 8, it was offered at a one-time cost.  Today you cannot buy Avid’s software unless you buy it on a perpetual license basis. Like Microsoft and Norton, Avid wants you to believe offering you a perpetual license is an affordable way for you to own the software, but as I said before this kind of transaction will end up costing the consumer a lot more money in the long run, and allow these companies to rack up billions of dollars in profits.  

           Two years ago I considered upgrading the Avid software, but to do so I had to buy a brand new dongle for $60.00, even as I already owned one. The reason is they changed it out because they have decided to sell you effects processors with the so called upgraded software. Upon buying the dongle and trying it out I was very disenchanted with the very buggy Protools version 12. Aside from this it came with a shopping basket and although I found the shopping basket cool, they put that basket right in the spot where an important drop down field used to be, and that annoyed me. In addition, the extension of all the effects were changed, and they now offered you very little effects. In fact many of the ones that once came with the software, you now had to purchase. (as mentioned before the need for the new dongle.) Indeed, the shopping basket was the stealth reason for the shopping basket.   

        Moreover, Autotune an effect processor, which cost me over $450.00 was rendered useless because of the fact that they changed the extension of the effects in this so called new version. To use the new version I would have had to upgrade the Autotune and buy Avid’s effects in order to have a good experience using the software. As I said before the effects came with the older versions. I saw this as clearly a money-making scheme, and I was livid. At the rate the software was being offered, I would have ended up spending thousands of dollars if I were to upgrade. Aside from that, I would have to get a new computer and a new midi-interface hardware. I soon realized that Digi 002, Protools 8 and Mac OS X 10.3 the version I have owned since 2003 will have to be the best combination for me at that point. I will have to be satisfied with this for a very long time, because I will not allow them to break my pocketbook with their perpetual license and the buying of effects that were once included as part of the package. 

Many online digital music platforms are also asking for subscription.  

 If you have their app on your desktop, you know what I mean. Every time you try to listen to a song you own. You get a pop up blocking your pathway to your song, which shows you more pieces from said artist and asking you for subscription. This is very annoying. You have to know how to get around them to prevent accidentally signing up. To their credit though, these companies also allow you to buy a song or album at a one time fee as well.   

Extended Support 

 Extended support is another money-making frontier that companies use to try to rake in income. Today every company that sell you hardware will try to attach extended support to your purchase. However, the consumer has the option to take it or leave it. On the other hand, Avid package their Protools software whereas the support is a condition of the software. In other words, the consumer must buy support for the software if they want to purchase it.

If you own an Apple or a Microsoft computer, then you know how annoying it is when they cut into your routine to upgrade the software on your system. Now think of Avid as either of these companies whose software often have bugs in them which need immediate fixing to improve your user experience, and the question becomes why should you purchase support in order for this company to tell you how to fix its buggy software? This brings me to extended warranty

 

Extended Warranty  

Nowadays you purchase an item for as little as $20.00 and a sales representative will ask you if you want to buy extended warranty. Years ago depending on the product warranty would sometimes go into ten years. But again some one came up with this idea to steal your money by trying to ingrain in your head that your item will break quickly and you won’t have any recourse but to get a new one. While it is just a scam in order for them to rack up earnings. I often wonder if they give the representatives who manage to convince a consumer to buy extended warranty a percentage of that sale towards in earnings. 

Finally, if you as consumers allow companies who has adopted these neoliberalism money-making frontiers like the ones I have described above, to continue to thrive then we should consider the following scenarios: Perpetual license/subscription; extended warranty/extended support for your home furnishings, clothing, bed linen, toiletries etc., because they might just start asking you for subscription for these items next. Indeed they are already deep in some of our pocket books with extended warranty/support on home appliances, kitchen appliances motor vehicles etc. The companies mentioned are not the only companies that have adopted these money- making schemes. This has actually become the norm for a majority of merchants who sell these kinds of products. 

 

 

 

 

       

                   

MUSIC WRITING AND SYMMETRY

Song writing tips

How to use motifs, symmetry, melisma and other song writing elements to bring out the prosody of your song.

The song  attached: Castle In The Sky has many of the elements important to song writing, such as motif, melismas, idiom, symmetry, asymmetry, repetition and metaphor… many of which are personifications or giving human qualities to things

An example of a metaphor in Castle in the Sky is: “lounge in my private space.” whereas the term private space is a metaphor for mind.  Personification “my courage is hooked on moving slow.”

The song begins with a melisma on the word feelings.

The song usually have a variety of motifs which  are often repeated as themselves or sometimes tweaked, thus adding symmetry and contrast to the piece.

Songs also have rhymes schemes. The rhyme schemes depends on the writer and how he chooses to contrast the lines that comprise the verses.

The style of Castle In The Sky is pop. The song style is verse, verse chorus bridge, chorus. This song form is one of the more common song forms. In addition, the song  has sixteen bars. Songs usually have the same number of bars in each verse chorus and bridge. So if this was an eight bar song it would have an eight bar verse, eight bar chorus, and an eight bar bridge. The tessitura or range of the song is an octave and a fifth.

The bridge of a song in general has to be different in style and melody form the verse and the chorus. The bridge often brings the theme of the song to its resolution.

See if you can spot more of these elements in this song, and if so you are welcome to note them as comments here.

The Candidates in Today’s Bid For POTUS and How Times Have Changed

Its only about 20 years ago that it was practically unheard of that someone who announced his candidacy for the  president of the United States would be anyone other than a White male.  However,  today not only do we have two African-Americans seeking the nomination one male: Corey Booker and one female Kamala Harris,  the field consists of four women: Tulsi Gabbard, Elizabeth Warren, Amy Klobuchar and Kamala Harris. Furthermore, there is also one Latino male:  Julian Castro who has also announced his candidacy. Yes, to quote Bob Dylan: “The Times, They Are A Changing.”

Nevertheless, today with the racially divisive rhetoric of Donald Trump and the country largely divided,  and even as Trump succeeded the first African-American President, Barrack Hussein Obama; I question the progress we have made regarding equality and justice for all. Ultimately,  although I remain optimistic, I wonder if electing another  minority or a woman might still be out of reach.

On the other hand, while there has been  speculation that elements surrounding Russian interference  contributed to Hillary Clinton’s loss in 2016, part of the loss was largely because America was not ready for a female president. But although this might have been so at that time,  woman were so put off by Donald Trump  that thousands, possibly largely democrats took to the streets in the march on Washington in early 2017, to show their solidarity and outrage at Trump’s election.  This march of outrage and the Me Too Movement have made a statement,  and because of this I am optimistic that  2020 might be the year a woman gets elected POTUS.  I am hoping that in spite of the stench of our political climate right now, and our cowardice in the past regarding the election of a woman as POTUS, that this time America will send another woman to ‘beat’ Donald Trump in the up coming election.

Apps: A Source for Manipulating Consumer Spending

Is it just me or do others realize that they are being skillfully manipulated into spending as a result interacting with apps?

Has anyone noticed that there has been a barrage of apps and a big push towards everything, and every company being its own app? They want your shopping experience to be through the Amazon app, the eBay app etc. They want your video experience to be through the “AAB app;” the “NBB app;” the “SBS app” your audio experience: the “This app” the “That app.”

I open up my browser and venture into cyberspace, I see a news article, I want to read more, I click on it and  black space comes up with a caption download the “This app.” I click off because I am completely annoyed. I guess I wont be seeing that article, because I refuse to download the “This app,”  because I know it is not free and that I am going to resent the barrage of ads that comes with it. . As you can see I have a real problem with this app thing.

Let me deviate a little. Remember pop ups, and how annoying they were. Then our browsers began allowing us to be able to block them. Asa result,  this is their way of being able to push ads without us being able to block them. Indeed, they feel that by your use of their app on your device, you have granted them permission to advertise to you.

The free games like Solitaire for advertising things like homes  for sale, their pop ups are also ads for purchasing other games, and are  probably the most irritating of them all.  But don’t rule out the weather app, they are the snakes in the grass  and are especially  invasive on android phones .

Apps are designed for monetizing the pusher. One way is by mental manipulation through ads. That is, they brainwash you into thinking that this item that they are advertising, which you could probably otherwise do without, is advantageous for you to have, and you go out and purchase it.

Another way is to rack up revenues based on how many times you open that app and is presumed to have seen a certain commercial. Apps are also used for spying on you, although sometimes with your consent. For example, Sony  does this by asking you to accept an agreement wherein they would be allowed to collect data on what you do on your  smart TV, (which comes with many apps).  Their reasoning is usually that they want to tailor the software to give you a better experience. This is usually not entirely true. Many company who ask your permission to collect s data on how you use apps,  simply want the data to use for developing other software to sell to the public.

Indeed, the fact is that you are not the only one that they have asked, and if you agree to this, then you have simply granted them permission to be spied on for increasing their profit margin.  As a result, Ultimately, you the public should be aware that  data collection is not generic and their collection  have a larger underlying implications than just to help improve your user experience.  So you should consider this when you open close apps  on your whim.

Besides, I analyze the idea of a software company telling me that they collect data to improve my experience along the manifestations of the writings of “George Orwell’s 1984;” in which he stated that there will come a time when ‘Big Brother’ will be watching over you and telling you what to do. Fortunately, I feel that no nobody should be tailoring my experience but me, or if I ask them to. Neither should anyone be covertly telling me what to do by manipulating how I experience these apps.

Furthermore, I see app as another  neoliberalism money making frontier designed to take advantage of the 99 percent in order to financially benefit the 1 percent. Tech giants and their fast moving, and ever changing technology, in some ways, have caused element of addiction. There is  today an avariciousness for technology and as a result you the public have failed to realize how much you are being manipulated by them.

You complain that on a daily basis you have difficulty making ends meet, because your wage is so little, yet as soon as one of these ridiculous app become  available on the market,  you put it on your Android, iPhone, iPod, other,  and begin to plug away at it;  be in awe of it, and shopping for your ‘whatever item’  its adds have brainwashed you to buy.

On the other hand, you spend several hours of your weekend pushing the Netflix button, which now occupy space on your TV remote control, or surfing Hulu, or other apps that have been co-opted on your “smart TV” for something, anything that’s worth the subscription you paid for them.

My question for the you the ’99 percent’ is, when are you going to wake up and realize that you are a collective pawn in the 1 percent’s endless game of manipulating you into spending, with the ultimate goal of racking up revenues for the purpose of sailing in their yachts and hiding from you in their gated communities in the exurbs.

We are the Agents of Change

Having been a huge admirer of Bob Marley I have always wanted to write a political song. Therefore,  this is my second share since  December’s: release of “Innocence.”  The theme  “Agents of Change”  and the  ideas  for the lyrics came to me Sunday morning January 22, 2017,  which was  the day after the Women’s March on Washington. I just started throwing words around and  this was how I decide to frame the lyrics.  I have now added some slides to it and was able to post it to YouTube as a video. The song is really meant to be sung in four-part harmony by a large group of people of different stripes. I am currently in the process of putting that together, but until then those of you who like to look at pictures ” come see these stunning slides for yourselves!.”

Continue reading We are the Agents of Change

Innocence in the age of Trump and the protest movements

Innocence is one of my latest compositions. There is a message in the lyrics  for everyone, especially with all the protests that have been going on lately.  The lyrics are perfect for you who feel that you cannot catch a break to better yourself in life or how much  big brother tries to control everything that you do.  It is also about the subtlety of racism, bigotry and oppression. The lyrics for the song has been around for a while. I just could not figure out a metaphor for the title. So I decided to call it Innocence. It is not a protest song although there is much evidence of protesting in it.  My next release will certainly be a protest song so please take a listen to “Innocence” and stay tuned for my next song which will be a protest song called “Agents of Change”

 

Hilary Clinton Picks Tim Kaine as Running Mate

It is a shame that Hilary Clinton picked a white running mate and think because he can speak Spanish Latinos would be happy with it. Clinton has simply showed her interest in the status quo of having white people at he helm of everything. She should have picked a minority whether it be  Chinese, Latino, Black or other, because that would further the precedent that the progressive movement includes  people in power representing a wider swath of the demographics in this country. But Clinton’s goal has always been to win by any means, and you see this playing out in her choice of Kaine as her running mate. His task is to help her win Virginia, and help her woo white Republican votes. Never mind this being seen as her throwing the ‘other’ constituents  under the bus.

The mistake that she is making is to think that minorities, a majority of whom are Democrats, are going to follow her blindly anyway. It is about time that politicians realize that constituents are paying close attention to these elections and part of what they are looking for is substance, especially relative to change; and for Democrats, aside from the opportunity to realize a better way of life, its change on the scope of more minorities having more substantial roles within this country. Clinton had the opportunity of doing this by picking a veep that together with herself would better reflect the electoral demographics, but she chose to go back to the old way of doing things, which is keeping white people at the helm of everything.

Clinton has certainly pulled a whammy. With this pick she has made it clear that it may be another lifetime before America see another Barack Obama type at the helm of this country. She is no better than Donald Trump in picking ‘self’ over the future of the country.

Donald Trump’s Speech Made Him Sound Like Someone Who Is Scatter-Brained

Donald Trump delivered his speech much like someone who is scatterbrained. Nothing was cohesive as far as I am concerned. He was all over the place speaking on issue after issue in a discombobulated fashion and offering no concrete solutions. Besides, nothing about this scatterbrained man looked or sounded presidential. The speech i heard had underlying implications his main concern about setting himself up as king in the white house? Trump  wants to be president so much that he will do and say anything to achieve this goal? The Donald has invested in every kind of real estate you could imagine. He is now tired of that hobby and need something else to do… the White House. Heaven help us if that narcissist succeeds. Even as nothing that he says he is going to do he could actually single handedly do, the thought of having someone with his kind of temperament as leader of the free world makes me cringe; for he neither looks like such in stature, nor sounds like he could be when he speaks.