Monday, December 12, 2011

Google Music - A Review

Google Music is one of the latest music service offerings available on the internet. I signed up several months ago as a beta user and have some thoughts to share.

 First of all, I love music. I listen
to an extremely eclectic mix of music. I love classical, blues, folk rock, motown, instrumentals, some R&B, some hard rock, some rap, some country, and a bit of everything else. I have over 10,000 songs on my computer. Listening to music is a hobby for me as much as it is a leisurely activity. So when I heard about a music service that would you store your music collection online and listen to it a will, I couldn't wait to get my hands on it.

 Google Music works on the premise that you have music on your computer. You upload that music (up to 20,000 songs) to their service and you can listen to your songs anywhere you go. The nice part of this service is that unlike Pandora or some of the other music services, you can listen to the song of your choice when you want to without ads. However, it wouldn't be much fun for those who don't already have a ton of music. To help those people out, Google Music offers roughly 200 songs across various genres to those who start with Google Music. I periodically check their free music to see what else I may be interested in. 

To help with those that love Pandora for the music discovery, there isn't much beyond the free music. It would be nice to see a radio service merged with Google Music, even one with ads. For concept then, I give Google Music 4/5 stars.

 I travel extensively for work. Often I will work out of airports, an office in LA, or anywhere else around the world I happen to be. I don't have a big enough mp3 player to hold all 10,000 songs. Most people don't. It was annoying being in a place and wanting to listen to a song that I didn't happen to have on my mp3 player. Google Music has solved this issue (mostly).

 In order to upload your music to Google Music, you need to install a small application that runs in the background and automatically uploads music to your library. Google Music couldn't upload some of the music that was protected in my iTunes library. This is only some of the music I purchased through the iTunes service. I have since boycotted the iTunes service for this and other reasons. I have invested a decent amount in iTunes over the years, but there are only roughly 10-20 songs that I cannot get from iTunes into Google Music. The upload app can be annoying when rebooting without an internet connection. Instead of just running in the background and waiting for an internet connection, it pops up an error that is difficult to hide. Overall, I give Google Music 4.5/5 stars for installation/implementation.

 The overall appearance and usability of Google Music is OK. I am often annoyed by the lack of some basic music management features, that I've gotten used to in iTunes. Some specific examples include playing all songs that match a search, sorting a list by the order I select, remembering my sort selection between uses, a lack of a "listened to" history playlist, and mass edit functions (when not editing an album). There are also moments when I am unable to change between songs, although this is rare, I must reload the webpage and reselect my songs to get back into my music listening. Overall though, I rate the functionality of Google Music 3/5 stars.  The music management features are where they can improve the most.

When I signed up for Google Music, it was free. They said initially that they were still testing the service and would evaluate the cost when they went live. The service is now live and out of Beta and is still free for the first 20,000 songs, with songs purchased from the Android Market not counting toward that total. For value, I give the service 5/5 stars.

On a whole, I give Google Music 4/5 stars. I haven't touched Pandora since I joined Google Music. This is by far the best free music service I have ever come across.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Oh... Insignificant Me

There have been very few times when I've felt like I was insignificant. This week has been one of those times.

I recently started a consulting career where I travel every week. I generally like traveling and consider that one of the perks of the job.

My first assignment, however, is to Los Angeles. A city that is 7 times larger than my beloved Cincinnati. I've never seen more people or cars in my life. It is daunting.

I'm not one to usually be phased by an issue like this. It's stressful being in such a foreign environment for the first time, but I've done that before.

I've been deployed to Guam, Spain, and Turkey. Why is this trip so different?

I think the stress of being so new in this career has compounded the stress of a new environment. I'm not only trying to figure out LA, I'm trying to figure out why on earth I'm even here.

I've been working for this company for 8 months as an intern in Cincinnati. That has made things easier for sure. However, there are some basic processes that I never encountered as an intern.

Fortunately, the people I work with are extremely helpful and have been very patient with me. I've been learning heaps.

I get to fly home every Thursday so I can spend Friday, Saturday, and Sunday with my family. Being home with my family is one of the best things to help me feel normal and like I have some degree of significance.

However, I haven't been home in two weeks. Last weekend I flew to a family reunion in Missouri instead of flying home. I was home the weekend before last, but even then, I was barely home because I had my military drill weekend.

I can hardly express how happy I am to be on my way home.

Last week the project I'm working on was extended. This is a common occurance in consulting (so I'm told) and usually means we throw the whole project plan in the rubbish bin. That was most certainly the case this time.

I was originally scheduled to return to LA every week until August 19th. Now, I have only one week left.

So after 12,000+ miles and many jet-lagged nights, I get ready to leave this project for good. It has been such a whirlwind, that I am left sitting in the airport wondering in amazement at how insignificant I really am.

I'm just one person among billions. I'm in a city of 14 million and hardly anyone knows I even exist. In just a few short weeks, even fewer people will remember that I was ever here at all.

It's mind numbing to ponder your own insignificance. I'm glad to be on my way home.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Reading Time

Since graduating from the University of Cincinnati with my BA in Organizational Leadership, I've been able to start plowing through some of the leadership books that I've been collecting for a while now. Here is a short list of the books I've read over the past two months:

Thinking For a Change - John Maxwell
Switch - Chip Heath & Dan Heath
HBR's 10 Must Reads on Leadership - Harvard Business Review
Leadership and Self-Deception - The Arbinger Institute
Three Deep Breaths - Thomas Crum

I would recommend all of them. I am really enjoying the fact that I finally have time to read
through my library. Next items on the list:

The Leadership Challenge - James Kouzes & Barry Posner
The Art of Framing - Gail Fairhurst & Robert Sarr
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People - Stephen R. Covey
Leadership From the Inside Out - Kevin Cashman

This will be good.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Learning to Fly

Well I've wanted to be a pilot before, but the cost of learning is sky high (pun intended). So I thought getting a remote control airplane would be cool, but unfortunately it is also an expensive hobby. That is it would be if my Dad didn't have connections.

Here are pictures of a model airplane I picked up along
with a good supply of accessories for only $250.
Fortunately, one of my friends flies model aircraft and can show me the ropes (and show me what needs to be fixed). Hopefully by the summer I will be a pilot of my own used model aircraft.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Life Changes Update

This is a quick update to let you know of some of the changes over the past couple months.

The biggest is that I now have a Bachelor's degree from the University of Cincinnati. I'm trying to find a job, but in this economy it is difficult.

I'm also looking into starting a company with my Dad presenting seminar's on the language of leadership. Not much else is new right now.

I should have a 3rd child within the next four weeks, but as this hasn't actually occurred yet, I will save the details for later.