So Amazon launched their own online music store this week to much fanfare, its big claim to fame being that it’s specifically an MP3 store – that is, they sell unprotected, DRM-free surprisingly good quality MP3’s, and even better, most of the tracks are only $0.89, 10 cents less than iTunes. This is huge news – iTunes has been selling their unprotected tracks in iTunes Plus for about $0.20 more than their protected tracks.

Now Amazon doesn’t have quite as extensive a library, to be sure. Something like 2 Million tracks versus Apple’s 8 Million(?) or so. But it’s a pretty impressive selection – I’ve managed to find a bunch of stuff I wanted from there, all for 10 cents less than iTunes, and with none of that icky Fairplay DRM.

I’ve only recently come around to buying tunes online. Call me old-fashioned, but for a long time I always just preferred owning the album – and as DJ, much of what I bought would likely make it into my sets at some point, and burned discs are just not always as reliable as the real deal. And of course I went through the whole Napster (and beyond) phase, and of course I know that the law in Canada is pretty ambiguous when it comes to downloading, so when I’ve felt inclined to download, I’ve been known to partake.

But a little while back, I was getting sick of the mess that were my usual sources for single tracks online, and I thought I’d give iTunes a shot. And as much as I hated giving up my hard earned cash to buy music in a restrictive DRM-protected format, I had to give it to them – they’ve got the experience down. The iTunes music store experience is dynamite. But there’s that whole DRM thing again. Just on principle, it bothers me.

So this week, along comes Amazon MP3 – a store so dedicated to selling unrestricted music, they put it right in their store name! Cheaper than iTunes, less restrictive, and surprise surprise, their store experience is pretty decent (go figure – Amazon has figured out a thing or two about selling stuff online!). It’s no iTunes, but it’ll do. Of course, they know exactly the market they’re after – their downloader software automatically loads your songs in your iTunes playlist – that’s a nice touch.

Only downside is that it’s only (technically) open to U.S. residents right now. But hey fellow canucks, good news – their ordering system doesn’t confirm that your address matches the address attached to your credit card, so just pop in a US zip code and shazam, you’re downloading. Of course, I wouldn’t count on this loophole being open long… so give it a shot while you can, if you’re so inclined.

UPDATE:  The store is no longer working for me – so I guess Amazon caught on to the zip code trick.  Bummer.

So this is something I’ve been meaning to do for a LONG time… just finished up some major overhauls to the site – aside from the obvious switch to a more personalized domain, I’ve also ported all of my content over from Blogger/Blogspot to a WordPress installation on my own server. This installation will provide me with much more powerful options and flexibility in terms of publishing, and I hope to use those improvements to make this site into a something more like what I’ve always wanted it to be.

There’s much to do – but I’m really looking forward to the process. Though there have been many gaps, I’ve more or less been publishing here for the past 7 years. I have lots of ideas for what I’d like to do with my online presence, and I hope this latest upgrade will spark a new phase in that process.

I’m wondering if we’re maybe seeing the beginning of the end for ColdFusion, at least as Macromedia product? My inbox has seen a few messages about the new 7.0 release of CF, most of which contain all sorts of assertions from Ben Forta (“ColdFusion Product Evangalist”) that this is the most important release in a long long time. Now go to the macromedia.com website. There isn’t a single stinking reference to this big important release anywhere, unless you count the link to ColdFusion 7.0 buried in the products listing box.

Makes me wonder if MM is truly committed to the product. It looks like the big direction from the mothership is communication tools (Breeze) and CMS-style products (Contribute, Web Publishing System). I remember ranting and railing about Contribute when it first came out. I took the position that Macromedia was entering into direct competition with the developers who were building various CMS tools/solutions and I was PISSED. Probably comically so! Finally, I look at the big push on developing dynamic Flash applications using ActionScripting and Flex. There seems to be a lotta Flash tutorials on the site talking about connecting to data & business layers using PHP rather than CF…

Finally, I also take a bit umbrage at the assertions that CF 7.0 is the most important release in the past 10 years. Yes, there’s some nice new reporting tools and some keen “native” tie-in’s to Flash and such, but does anyone remember the huge leap forward that MX provided in terms of Components and XML tools?

R.I.P, ColdFusion, and thanks for a fun ride. I’m almost out…

Derek Powazek had this to say on his website: “It’s difficult to explain what that First Time is like to someone who’s never been, but everyone who has understands. Have you ever taken a trip that lasted long enough, and was dramatically different enough, that you completely forgot where you came from? It’s like that. Except Burning Man isn’t the trip. The rest of your life is the trip. Burning Man is coming home.”