Outdated ways of listening to music, ranked


Not to be too “old man yells at cloud,” but I realized the other day that the average freshman entering college this fall probably has no idea what it’s like to not have any song they want to hear available within moments.

These lucky individuals will never know the torment of waiting half an hour for one 30-second clip of the new Weezer single to load over that 28.8k modem connection, praying no one calls to interrupt the transfer so you can finally — finally — hear that sweet music that sounded like it was played through a bad AM radio dropped down a running garbage disposal. 

But in the late 1990s that was the life. That was the future. I once spent almost four hours downloading a single song — a cruddy .WAV rip of a new R.E.M. song — that I then played through two cruddy computer speakers with a microphone hooked up to my dad’s tape deck sandwiched in-between, just to have the song on a cassette. 

I thought I was a genius. “IT’S SO GREAT,” I’d proclaim over the din, “THE FUTURE IS AMAZING. JUST LISTEN TO THIS. AND I DIDN’T HAVE TO LEAVE MY HOUSE.”

Now I can have any song playing within 10 seconds of picking it, no matter where I am. 

Sometimes you have to look back to appreciate how terrible even the most state-of-the-art advancements were at the time. So I did. Here you’ll find a ranking of seven ways we’ve listened to music in the last 25 years or so. It’s a shout-out to the tools we used before the likes of Spotify, Apple Music, and Pandora. 

This isn’t exhaustive by any means (the world was flooded with software and apps … and probably always will be). Just wait another 25 years, when Blue Ivy’s comeback album is streamed directly into our skulls nanoseconds after we think about it. 

7. Microsoft Zune

You were too beautiful for this world, Zune.

You were too beautiful for this world, Zune.


Sorry, had to get that out of my system. The Zune remains one of tech’s biggest flops, at least since the year 2000, if not ever

When it was released in 2006, Microsoft’s personal music player tried to horn in on a market that was already becoming saturated with Apple’s superior and sleeker iPod, which had hit shelves years earlier.

If the Zune was destined to play catch-up, then the infamous “Leap Year” bug that bricked a certain model of the device at the end of 2008 was probably the final weight that dragged any hope to a halt.  

The device developed a cult following, but that didn’t raise it above the level of the Newton of the new millennium. 

6. Minidisc

It’s like a CD player but with an option to record. And smaller. And more expensive. And much harder to find. Like Betamax was to VHS, the Minidisc player offered a lot of advantages over cassettes, which it was aiming to replace, and compact discs, the other emerging technology. 

But, as with Betamax, the Minidisc wasn’t as cheap as its competitors, a factor that helped lead to its eventual demise after repeated efforts to rebrand it. 

5. RealPlayer

RealPlayer lives to this day, but I best remember its original incarnation, which allowed you to stream audio and video files straight from the web before Spotify and YouTube. In a way, RealPlayer was ahead of its time, one of the first to offer users this ability. 

Two old versions of the Real Player

Two old versions of the Real Player

However, my experiences were not always great. (That was more a product of circumstance than indicative of poor player quality.) Since it debuted before high-speed internet become affordable and widely available, streams often lagged and sputtered. And coming before more compressed forms of audio and video became widespread, music often sounded like a messy AM-quality version. 

The company seems to have a warmer memory of the software than I and other users do. But, credit where it’s due for being there early. 

4. Discman

Compact discs on the go! I’ll always remember having to haul at least one small binder of CDs every time I traveled with my Discman, and then having to hold the portable player as I walked. 

Eventually, I figured out how to wrap the Discman in a T-shirt and leave it in my backpack, stretching the headphones out to keep listening even while I walked. I’d have to stop and dig back in to switch out CDs every so often. When it became easier to burn your own mix CDs, that meant less CD swaps, but it didn’t do away with the skipping or bulky size of the Discman itself.

Look, it’s not that I’m not grateful for having a Discman. I could listen to it on the go, plug it into a stereo, or even plug it into my car and listen to it over an unused FM frequency (hello, static) when I drove all over the place in college. For those of you who are under 20 years of age, we really did have some incredibly weird ways of listening to music in our cars.  

3. Walkman

True story: When I began running on a regular basis in 2004, I was too poor to afford an iPod, and running with a Discman is pretty much impossible due to its awkward size and the fact that the CD would skip endlessly. 

Ah, my beloved.

Ah, my beloved.

So I bought a cassette Walkman, even though this was the same year the Walkman included a line of MP3 players (again, steep prices). It was small enough to fit in my hand while I ran, and the earphones were relatively unobtrusive. 

Plus, for longer runs, it was easy to flip my mixtape over and keep running, no fumbling with discs. And at this time, there were 120-minute cassette tapes to far outlast any 70-minute mixtape I could put together.

Say what you will about cassettes and Walkmans becoming obsolete. For a small window in the early 2000s before iPods and everyone had smartphones, they still had a purpose.

Or at least they did for me, and this my list, so here we are.

2. Napster

Oh, Napster. You were trouble from the start, but you pushed music into the digital age.

Oh, Napster. You were trouble from the start, but you pushed music into the digital age.

The music industry was dragged into the digital music era thanks to Napster, which allowed us to download tons of MP3s from our favorite bands and listen to them right then and there. 

Sure, it was illegal as hell, but it was so easy to use and flooded with music you wanted. (There were several downsides.) Still, there’s no under-selling the impact Napster had when it debuted. 

A whole lot of digital ink has been spilled talking about Napster, including on this site right here. But it brought MP3s to the masses and forced the music industry to get its act together. It spurred on imitators galore, was eventually shut down and forced to go legit, and, in 2011, it merged with Rhapsody

It might have been doomed from the start, but for a few fleeting moments, we saw the future.

1. Winamp

Oh, Winamp. You were the King of Music Listening Software for a good chunk of my college years and even into grad school in the early 2000s, especially before I moved from PC to Mac. 

In the pre-iTunes era, Winamp was the ultimate in playback software for MP3s for quality, ease of use, and the ability to play live audio streams. Video playback made for nice versatility, as did the fun skins you could download to customize the look and feel of the player.

Thanks to its flexibility — supporting an incredible range of sound files from MP3 to FLAC to AAC — pretty much anything you had on your computer could be played through Winamp. And its playlist function was superb, an easy way to make hours-long lists of jams for parties or just hanging out in your dorm room. 

I wasn’t the only one. Winamp hit a peak of 60 million users by 2001. 

And, oh, those visualizations. Talk about great ways to spend time holed up in your dorm room…

Nullsoft, the company that created Winamp, was purchased by AOL in 1999 for a bundle of cash ($80 million), but it was shuttered in 2013 and then sold in 2014. There is a web-based version of the player you could check out for old time’s sake, if you want.

In the end, many associated with the software blamed AOL mismanagement for dooming Winamp to the scrapheaps of history and preventing it from evolving into something that could have competed with iTunes or even a streaming music service.

It’s a damn shame. Rather than having an interesting competitor to those services with built-in audience loyalty, we’re left to look back fondly and remember what was. 

from Mashable! http://bit.ly/2n42VK5

WhatsApp finally earns money by charging businesses for slow replies


Today WhatsApp launches its first revenue-generating enterprise product and the only way it currently makes money directly from its app. The WhatsApp Business API will let businesses respond to messages from users for free for up to 24 hours, but will charge them a fixed rate by country per message sent after that.

Businesses will still only be able to message people who contacted them first, but the API will help them programatically send “shipping confirmations, appointment reminders or event tickets. Clients can also use it respond to manually respond to customer service inquiries through their own tool or apps like Zendesk or Twilio.

After getting acquired by Facebook for $19 billion in 2014, it’s finally time for the 1.5 billion-user WhatsApp to pull its weight and contribute some revenue. If Facebook can pitch the WhatsApp Business API as a cheaper alternative to customer service call centers, the convenience of asynchronous chat could compel users to message companies instead of phoning.

Only charging for slow replies after 24 hour is a genius way to create a growth feedback loop. If users get quick answers via WhatsApp, they’ll prefer it other channels. Once businesses and their customers get addicted to it, WhatsApp could eventually charge for all replies or any that exceed a volume threshold, or cut down the free window. Meanwhile, businesses might be too optimistic about their response times and end up paying more often than the expect, especially when messages come in on weekends or holidays.

WhatsApp first announced it would eventually charge for enterprise service last September when it launched its free WhatsApp For Business app that now has 3 million users and will still let smaller companies manually reply to messages one-by-one. That app now has 3 million users.

Importantly, WhatsApp stresses that all messaging between users and businesses, even through the API, will be end-to-end encrypted. That contrasts with the Washington Post’s report that Facebook pushing to weaken encryption for WhatsApp For Business message is partly what drove former CEO Jan Koum to quit WhatsApp and Facebook’s board in April. His co-founder Brian Acton had ditched Facebook back in September and donated $50 million to the foundation of encrypted messaging app Signal.

Today WhatsApp is also formally launching its new display ads product worldwide. But don’t worry, they won’t be crammed into your chat inbox like with Facebook Messenger. Instead, businesses will be able to buy ads on Facebook’s News Feed that launch WhatsApp conversations with them…thereby allowing them to use the new Business API to reply. TechCrunch scooped that this was coming last September, when code in Facebook’s ad manager revealed the click-to-WhatsApp ads option, and the company confirmed the ads were in testing. Facebook launched similar click-to-Messenger ads back in 2015.

Together, the ads and API will replace the $1 per year subscription fee WhatsApp used to charge in some countries but dropped in 2016. With Facebook’s own revenue decelerating, triggering a 20 percent, $120 billion market cap drop in its share price, it needs to show it has new ways to make money now more than ever.

from TechCrunch https://tcrn.ch/2KmY14c

Online Interactive Courses On Artificial Intelligence In Trading, First Time On Internet


Course on AI and Decision Trees

QuantInsti’s Quantra & Dr. E. P. Chan launched courses on using Neural Network & Decision Tree models in trading

While the whole world is talking about machines taking over the financial markets, QuantInsti is busy prepping the next generation of Algorithmic and Quantitative traders to meet the challenges of coming decades. How to make sense of statistics, econometrics, financial computing and trading strategies by using advanced techniques of deep learning and artificial intelligence? Quantra has a solution.

A student report of Stanford University based on the application of deep learning to algorithmic trading displayed 81% successful trade and a 66% of directional accuracy on the application of deep learning based trading strategy on a test data set. The report said,

Deep Learning models with multiple layers have been shown as a promising architecture that can be suitable for predicting financial time series data.

(source: https://stanford.io/2M95YeX)

Here is what Anthony Antenucci, VP of global business development at Intelenet Global Services had to say,

“It wasn’t long before statisticians at Wall Street got in the game and realized that applying machine learning programs (AI models) to investment trading applications, they could effectively crunch millions upon millions of data points in real time and capture information that current statistical models couldn’t.”

Quantra by QuantInsti is believed to be one of the most advanced self-paced learning interactive platforms when it comes to algorithmic and quantitative trading. Started in early 2017, Quantra has been the go-to learning platform for algorithmic and quantitative trading enthusiasts across 130+ countries. Currently, the platform hosts 16 specialised courses with some of them authored by well know industry practitioners including the likes of Dr. E. P. Chan. Quantra recently launched two new courses ‘Neural Networks for Trading‘ and ‘Decision Trees for Trading‘ which aim to empower traders with the advanced trading techniques.

The self-paced learning programmes are the new avenue being explored by a lot of aspiring algorithmic traders which offers open and paid learning material with a practical approach. A great opportunity for aspiring traders to get a hands-on learning experience.

A very interesting and exciting platform. I had a lot of fun following the concepts presented and the Python coding for the same. I am glad I found Quantra that has so many interesting courses in the area of Algorithmic Trading“,

– said Dan Comescu, Director of Firmware Engineering, Econis-Labs LLC, USA.

The innovative learning approach, interactive exercises, and credible certifications make it easy to efficiently accelerate the learning curve. Quantra has also partnered with some of the leading financial institutes to create more awareness in this domain.

Here is what Nitesh Khandelwal, Director and Co-founder, QuantInsti had to say,

E-learning programmes have been well received by students around the world considering the convenience to practice and value that is derived from them. With the growing potential of automation in financial markets, there is a high demand for skilled resources, we want to create an e-learning hub that will groom professionals to keep up with technology and enhance their skills. Quantra is the foundation of one such initiative in the form of a knowledge-based marketplace which caters to aspiring quantitative and algorithmic traders across the world.

Traditional traders are now turning their path to the algorithmic way. Platforms like Quantra are making sure that the masses are educated about the changing landscape in the algorithmic trading world by means of their learning programmes, it makes easier for people to acquire the required skill set. There are ample of case studies from Quantra that prove professionals are no longer afraid of changing their field anymore, people with no finance, technology or programming related background are trying their hands on algorithmic trading.

In the quest to seek the elusive alpha, techniques related to Machine Learning, Data Analytics, Decision Tree, Sentiment Analysis and Neural Networks are being used to model trading strategies. A new financial world is being built on these concepts.

The algorithmic & quantitative trading domain now offers some of the most appealing career opportunities. No wonder that most of the trading across the trading destinations globally have been moving towards automation.

Visit: https://quantra.quantinsti.com/

Originally posted at: http://bit.ly/2n2HfOy

from http://bit.ly/2KlzVGK