Daily Archives:July 5th, 2015

Streaming the classics

celloI’ve never yet paid for a streaming music service. I greatly enjoy music, but seldom listen to much these days, and when I do, it’s generally in the car, where such services are normally of limited use. At home, I can’t really listen to music and get any work done at the same time, though I sometimes try to persuade myself otherwise. And when I’m not working, I’m more likely to be listening to podcasts or audiobooks.

Also, the typical subscription for such services costs about the same as buying a track every 3 days, which is probably more than I typically spend, and if I did, I would then own the music indefinitely and not just for as long as I kept paying. So Spotify, Last.fm and all the others have not, so far, been for me, any more than Office 365 or Adobe Creative Cloud.

But the chance to play with Apple Music during its three-month free trial has persuaded me that I might be tempted to change my mind, and not just to get more access to Sting, Paul Simon or the Wailin’ Jennys, nice though that is. No, what I’ve been enjoying this weekend are the classical playlists, which I can enjoy while working, or at least while writing blog posts. This comes to you from my sofa, accompanied by some delightful Chopin, which sounds rather good played from my laptop via some AirPlay jiggery-pokery to my Sonos amp and KEF speakers.

This makes a bit more sense to me, because if I hear a song I like on the radio, I’m likely to pay the 99p or so to own the definitive version, but if I hear a Schubert sonata, how many albums will I need to purchase to find out whether I prefer the interpretation from Barenboim, Brendel, Paul Lewis or one of the dozens of other options?

I seldom listen to classical music in the car – I think you need a quieter car than mine for that to work well – but a streaming service might persuade me to listen to rather more at home.

News from the Lab

Some of you may know that, alongside my normal consultancy business, I spend one day a week in the University Computer Lab for a change of scene. I’ve been doing this for a couple of years now, working on Frank Stajano’s Pico project, which is trying to create a better replacement for passwords, as the normal way to authenticate yourself to digital systems.

One of my roles in the project has been cameraman/video editor. Last year we produced the original video describing the project:

and just last month we did an update, which describes in more detail how the current phone-based prototype works underneath.

It’s been a fun couple of years – as well as the videos, we’ve produced a lot of code, we’ve written some papers and some blog posts, given some talks, and had quite a lot of fun at times.


But I felt it was time for a change, so I’ve recently moved to a new project, which is in the so-called Rainbow group – somewhat nostalgic for me, because it’s where I did my Ph.D. about 20 years ago.

In this group, we’re looking at how we can improve the ways cars communicate with drivers, and, while the only web page about the project is somewhat limited at present, no doubt this will change over time…

Should be fun… more info in due course.

© Copyright Quentin Stafford-Fraser