Blog Main Archive - Jan 2014

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1/7/2014 - Incandescent Light Bulbs are Now Largely Banned in the USA - and I Suggest Avoiding Fluorescent/CFL Bulbs (Health)
1/29/2014 - MOG streaming music service is closing April 15th, 2014; and I hope Beats Music improves (Music - News)

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Incandescent Light Bulbs are Now Largely Banned in the USA - and I Suggest Avoiding Fluorescent/CFL Bulbs
Tuesday, January 7th, 2014
06:26:40 GMT

Health

(Note: I'm not an expert on anything scientific or health-related. I'm just a layperson expressing some thoughts and opinions practically off the top of my head. Apologies if I made any mistakes or omitted anything important.)

As of January 1, 2014, ordinary incandescent light bulbs are largely banned in the United States. Unless I'm mistaken, they can still be used, as well as bought until they're sold out - but they can't be manufactured or imported.

CNN.com - Obit: RIP, light bulb

I guess this was done to supposedly save the environment. Unfortunately, I suspect fluorescent/CFL light bulbs which contain mercury are probably far more dangerous to health and the environment than incandescent bulbs, overall.

In my opinion, if any light bulbs should be banned, it probably ought to be fluorescent/CFL bulbs.


The cleanup procedure for broken fluorescent/CFL light bulbs is frighteningly elaborate - and this EPA page's tips don't all sound entirely environmentally friendly to me.

What makes the incandescent bulb ban particularly bad, in my opinion, is that potentially toxic fluorescent/CFL bulbs might be one of the cheapest currently unbanned alternatives. (Except some halogen bulbs might be cheaper upfront, judging by this page: TomsGuide.com: 2014 Incandescent Bulb Ban: Here Are Your Alternatives. However, FamilyHandyman.Com: The Pros and Cons of Halogen Bulbs says halogens can be at least 4 times more expensive than incandescent bulbs - among other drawbacks, like increased fire hazards.)

I'm guessing many people either won't be able to afford expensive (but hopefully safer) alternatives such as LED lights, or will try to save money even if they can afford LEDs.

And many people will probably not dispose of the fluorescent/CFL bulbs properly, but will just stick them in the trash like any old light bulb - which might actually be legal to do in many places. This EPA page says you can do that if it's legal where you are.

So, I'm very worried that the amount of mercury pollution in the environment and in people's homes, etc. might go up a lot because of the ban on incandescent light bulbs. If incandescent bulbs hadn't been banned, most people would probably keep using incandescent bulbs instead of ever resorting to potentially toxic fluorescent/CFL light bulbs.


I'm definitely going to totally avoid using fluorescent/CFL light bulbs at all. Mercury poisoning is a horrible thing. :-( And I'm guessing society and the environment in general probably have had too much of it already from amalgam dental fillings, mercury in vaccines, etc.

Given how dangerous mercury is, fluorescent/CFL bulbs are far more deserving of being banned than incandescent bulbs, in my opinion.


From what I've read, LED bulbs almost seem like they might be one of the best remaining alternatives to incandescent light bulbs - except they might contain dangerous substances like lead, arsenic, nickel, etc.

See: Scientific American: The Dark Side of LED Lightbulbs

But at least, unlike fluorescent/CFL bulbs, LED bulbs don't have mercury, and they might be less fragile/breakable than fluorescent/CFL bulbs.

And, also fortunately, the problems with LED lights might be fixable, or least, possible to partially alleviate. The aforementioned Scientific American article says:

According to Ogunseitan, LED makers could easily reduce the concentrations of heavy metals in their products or even redesign them with truly safer materials, especially if state or federal regulators required them to do so. “Every day we don’t have a law that says you cannot replace an unsafe product with another unsafe product, we’re putting people’s lives at risk,” he concludes. “And it’s a preventable risk.”

However, I don't know if those problems in LEDs have been fixed yet. Until I know for sure LEDs have been made as safe as possible, I won't feel entirely comfortable using them or recommending them.


Despite incandescent bulbs' inefficient wasting of energy, I'm very worried that the widespread use of potentially toxic, mercury-containing fluorescent/CFL bulbs (and perhaps the use of LEDs too, unless they get redesigned to get rid of unnecessary toxic materials) might turn out to be worse in the end than just letting everyone continue to use incandescent bulbs would have been.

What if turns out to be as disastrous as the widespread use of leaded gasoline and lead paint was?


Perhaps we'd be better off if incandescent bulbs were unbanned until LED bulbs are made more safe? (And if it's possible to make much safer fluorescent/CFL bulbs too, that would be great.)


Here are some more interesting Scientific American links:

Another worrying thing I've run across is comments and product reviews on other websites in which some people say they think fluorescent bulbs gave them migraines, etc., and that their problems went away when they got rid of the bulbs.


The typical ugliness of LED and fluorescent/CFL lights is a relatively minor issue compared to their potential toxicity, but, it's certainly aggravating enough to be worth mentioning as well.

Perhaps the best alternative (at least aesthetically speaking) might be high-efficiency incandescent bulbs? (Those were mentioned in the abovementioned CNN article.) I hope they're as nice as normal incandescent bulbs. I wonder if maybe they're as cheap, too?

And most importantly, as safe? Don't know. (Actually, I don't even know absolutely for sure how safe normal incandescent bulbs are, but presumably much safer than fluorescent/CFL, judging by how hard it is to properly clean up fluorescent/CFL bulbs, and given that normal incandescent bulbs don't contain mercury.)


Or, maybe halogen. Unless I'm mistaken (which is very possible), my family may have had a halogen lamp when I was a child - a tall upward-pointing lamp with a dimmer switch, casting nice indirect light throughout the living room. I definitely liked that, so, if it was actually halogen, I guess halogen might be an aesthetically acceptable option. At dim settings, it was pleasantly atmospheric, and at brighter settings, it was quite adequately bright (and probably even possible to make it too bright, can't remember), and quite good enough to read by, as well.

I didn't find its light harsh or glaring, and actually thought it had a pleasant color, similar to normal incandescent bulbs - but actually maybe even nicer, brighter and clearer. And it seemed like it never burnt out, and we used it for maybe like 5 years or so. I think we stopped using that lamp after we moved when I was a teenager, and I don't know what became of it after that. Wonder if it would still work now, about 20 years later?


Or, hopefully aesthetically pleasing LED bulbs exist, somewhere. That might be best from an energy-saving perspective, because they are probably much more energy-efficient than halogen bulbs and high-efficiency incandescent bulbs. They're also more efficient and supposed to last longer than fluorescent/CFL bulbs, and are also supposedly not as much of a fire hazard as any of them.

Too bad about the possible lead, arsenic, nickel, etc., though - but at least it sounds like it might be possible to make LEDs without using those materials. I wonder if it's even possible to make fluorescent/CFL bulbs without mercury?


(Note, 12:07 PM. I edited and reorganized this article a fair bit after first posting it early this morning. Sorry about the temporary downtime of my website earlier today; it was so slow earlier I couldn't even successfully post my edits. And I was so annoyed with being stuck with the previous version I decided I'd rather just have nothing up until I could post the improved version.)

(Note: I'm not an expert on anything scientific or health-related. I'm just a layperson expressing some thoughts and opinions practically off the top of my head. Apologies if I made any mistakes or omitted anything important.)


Click this link to display the blog comment thread hosted at the Eryss.Com Forum:

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MOG streaming music service is closing April 15th, 2014; and I hope Beats Music improves
Wednesday, January 29th, 2014
06:31:12 GMT

Music
News

(Edit, April 1, 2014, 12:19 AM: Here's an update: MOG streaming music service's April 15th shutdown is delayed! And other good news)


My favorite streaming music website, MOG*, is being shut down April 15th, 2014 because MOG was bought by Beats Electronics* in 2012 (says Wikipedia), and Beats Music* just opened on Jan. 21, 2014.

And contrary to what I hoped and almost expected - Beats Music so far doesn't even come close to being as good as MOG. There are so many glitches and missing features, which is especially shocking because I thought probably the main point of Beats even buying MOG was probably to base Beats' new systems on MOG's existing, fantastic, stable systems.

But, Beats is currently so glitchy and lacking in MOG features, I'm guessing Beats started over from scratch instead. And perhaps Beats rushed to an extremely premature launch because the Super Bowl* is next Sunday (Feb. 2nd). (There's actually an entire Wikipedia article about Super Bowl advertising.)

(Edit, Jan. 29, 2014, 5:30 PM EST: Also, the Grammy Awards* happened on Jan. 26, 2014.)


Anyway, you might want to try a free trial of MOG while it's still available. I don't yet know of a better streaming music service anywhere, especially at the price of $4.99 per month. (Not that it's 100% perfect, but, what is?)

Currently, my most likely alternative choice is Spotify*, because Spotify's web player is useable enough (though not as nice as MOG's), and their audio quality is apparently 320 kbps for Premium users, same as MOG. (And actually same as Beats too - so at least Beats doesn't have a problem with audio quality.)

Also, Spotify, like MOG, and unlike Beats, has a Roku* app. (Despite my preference for free, libre, open source everything - I still enjoy the Roku, and mostly use it for MOG* and Netflix*.)

By the way, if you're interested in a Beats Music Roku* app, perhaps posting about it or voting for it at Beats Music's support forum would help? http://support.beatsmusic.com/hc/communities/public/questions/200434850-Roku-App


Spotify's Premium option is $9.99 per month, twice as much as MOG's $4.99 per month Basic plan with no mobile access.

But, even though it's not really a perfectly comfortable price for me, it's still pretty good. If I were rich, I'd be happy paying a lot more than that.

(And actually, I would love to donate gigantic amounts of money directly to my favorite musicians, especially any who aren't already rich and really need the money. And also, of course, to tons of other people besides musicians, who also improve the world but often are insufficiently rewarded for it. And of course, to the desperately poor - who should be first in line for help. Darn, I wish I could afford to just give away tons of money directly to people... and I wish rich people would do that sort of thing a lot more often. It would make such a huge difference in the world.

Which brings me around yet again to the topic of microdonations - where a great many tiny donations from tons of people could add up to huge amounts of money, even if absolutely none of the people donating are rich themselves. Maybe that would be a good way to alleviate poverty without having to depend on any help from rich people? But I digress...)


Whatever streaming music service I join, I probably will sign up with a user name totally different than Apollia, and an email address I don't normally use, just to dodge many possible privacy issues.

I don't know if Spotify has any privacy-impacting annoyances or not, but, might as well be cautious.


I do think Beats Music has some chance of eventual success, but only if they play their cards much better than they have so far. Using MOG-based systems, I believe Beats could become the leader in the streaming music industry. (Actually, I think MOG probably could have done that on its own if it had been marketed better.)

But as long as the Beats systems continue to be as glitchy and bereft of the best MOG features as they currently are, I think most people (including me) will continue to prefer other, better services, such as Spotify*. Especially if Beats keeps trying to charge $9.99 per month - twice as much as MOG's Basic plan, $4.99 per month - for a service that is overall inferior to MOG.

And overall inferior to Spotify, and inferior in many ways (though better in some ways) compared to probably just about any other streaming music service you could name. Except, again, I should point out that at least Beats has 320 kbps audio too, same as MOG* and Spotify*, and better than Pandora* (maximum 192 kbps) and probably Rdio* (Rdio's quality level isn't on their FAQ page currently, but people complain about it.)

It's not Beats' audio quality I object to, it's mainly Beats' lack of features which MOG, Spotify, and other services have - really basic stuff like a full-featured, easily-controlled web player which starts playing songs quickly and which can do everything the mobile app can do and more, a play queue, much better capabilities for building playlists, the ability to easily start a radio of random songs by a particular musician or of a particular genre, etc. And plenty of other problems people have been pointing out at the Beats Music support forum.

Fortunately for Beats - thanks to owning MOG*, Beats could so easily get on the right track! And I really hope they do, soon.


Here's my email to Beats Music*, which also contains what I posted to their support forum.

If you want to vote or comment on my post, you can do so here: http://support.beatsmusic.com/hc/communities/public/questions/200073899-Bring-Beats-up-to-the-quality-of-MOG-or-at-least-Spotify-and-here-s-how


My Best Advice for Beats

Hi. I already posted most of this message to the Beats support page, but, I thought it would be good to email it too, since it contains some time-sensitive ideas on improving Beats in time for the Super Bowl.

I don't need a long reply, but, it would definitely be nice to know if Beats will at least someday be made as functional and elegant as MOG.


I'm really upset about your plans to shut MOG down, and it has been spoiling my excitement about Beats.

And if you read the support forum, you'll see I'm far from alone. Even people who sound like they've never used MOG keep mentioning how Beats is glitchy and lacks functionality compared to other streaming services.

But since you own MOG, which works great - having an under-functional service is all a completely avoidable problem for Beats! You could just reuse MOG and add Beats features onto it.


The message I posted to the support forum begins below. Originally posted to:

http://support.beatsmusic.com/hc/communities/public/questions/200073899-Bring-Beats-up-to-the-quality-of-MOG-or-at-least-Spotify-and-here-s-how


BRING BEATS UP TO THE QUALITY OF MOG OR AT LEAST SPOTIFY - AND HERE'S HOW

This message is going to be rather blunt and harsh (sorry about that). But, I hope it's helpful.

I finally tried Beats, for both the mobile and the web.

I never used MOG's mobile app, so I can't compare the Beats mobile app to MOG. (But my guess is, the MOG mobile apps are probably much better, judging by how much better the MOG web interface is than the Beats web interface.)

The Beats mobile app (on an iPhone) is at least better than the Beats web interface, and songs start playing quite quickly in the mobile app.

The Beats mobile app's graphics are nice, but I find the interface rather messy and confusing. I haven't tried the Spotify mobile app lately, but if I recall correctly, the Spotify mobile app was better since it was easier to find things in.

I like the idea of curated playlists, and The Sentence thing is amusing, but those features aren't enough to make Beats seem better than Spotify, or especially MOG.

Beats is currently too lacking in basic, core features that other music streaming services already do much better.


The Beats web interface (version 1.0.6) is horrible compared to MOG's web interface. It's also horrible compared to Spotify's web interface. Spotify's web interface is actually decently useable and fast, even if it's not as slick as MOG's.

The Beats web interface is slow to start songs, it's hard and slow to skip around to different points in the same song, and I can't find a radio feature. I can't find My Library. I can't create playlists.

Unless Beats is made as nice and useable as MOG, or unless the old MOG interfaces are kept available, it is extremely unlikely that I will subscribe to Beats.


For $9.99 a month, Spotify currently seems like a far better product than Beats. (But I still would choose MOG over Spotify for $9.99 per month.)

Not only is Spotify's web interface better than Beats (though not as slick as MOG's), Spotify has a Roku app, unlike Beats. (But MOG, which Beats bought, has a Roku app, so, I don't see why Beats couldn't easily have a Roku app as well.)

And I am very ticked off at Beats for buying out my favorite streaming music service, MOG, and planning to shut it down, with no guarantees that you're going to create an equal or superior product to MOG.


Compared to MOG, Beats seems really incomplete, and it probably shouldn't have even been launched until it was at least as good as MOG.

And since Beats Music actually bought MOG, there is absolutely no reason why you couldn't have started Beats off right with a system capable of everything MOG can do, and more.


I think Beats's current service doesn't have a prayer of winning against Spotify, or of keeping most MOG customers.

Marketing can only carry you so far if you don't have a good product/service.

But fortunately for Beats Music, when you bought MOG, you bought an absolutely fantastic product/service - possibly even the best streaming music service currently in existence. (Unless there's something better out there that I haven't tried yet.)

So, thanks to the brilliant move of buying MOG, Beats Music should be entirely capable of providing a truly fantastic service, instead of an overhyped, overpriced, under-developed mess that was launched far too soon.


I think the only reason MOG wasn't more popular than Spotify was because of lack of marketing.

But I think MOG, being promoted as enthusiastically as Beats, could have easily beaten Spotify - even at $9.99 per month, without the $4.99 MOG Basic plan being offered. (But continuing the $4.99 Basic plan would probably make your victory against Spotify even more certain.)


In your shoes, I would just rebrand the existing MOG systems as Beats, give them a slight graphical makeover, and carefully add the coolest new Beats features onto them - as long as it doesn't slow down or break the existing very slick and elegant MOG interfaces. Perhaps it would even be possible to get that done before Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 2nd)?


Over time, I'd also implement a lot of the good ideas suggested here and at the MOG feedback site: http://feedback.mog.com/forums/50607-feature-suggestions


You might or might not have hired excellent programmers, but even fantastic programmers generally can't do their best and most polished work if they're too rushed - such as if you were trying to get Beats launched in time for the Super Bowl.

If you reuse MOG's already very complete, elegant, stable systems, however, there will be far less for your programmers to rush to finish before the Super Bowl.

*************** You already have a product/service that is better than Spotify - MOG! ***************

And my guess is, there's probably not enough time before the Super Bowl to get the existing Beats system up to the standard of MOG, or even up to the standard of Spotify - unless you reuse MOG.


Anyway, I hope this helps, and sorry again for being rather blunt and harsh.

But, I believe that above, I've given you the best advice I can think of to make Beats a success.

Best wishes and good luck with everything, and I hope I won't have to join Spotify in the end.


And here was the quick reply (sent 30 minutes after my email, which I sent at 12:29 PM EST on Jan. 28, 2014):

(Beats Music Support)
Jan 28 09:59

Good day Apollia,

Beats Music want to thank you for your great suggestions for our Music App. I will forward these suggestions to our Development Support Team, and maybe you will some of your suggestions implemented into the Beats Music App soon.

Thanks for your recommendations, and continued support.

Thank you...Beats Music Support


Beats Music Listener Support


Again - if you want to vote or comment on my post to the Beats Music Support forum, you can do so here: http://support.beatsmusic.com/hc/communities/public/questions/200073899-Bring-Beats-up-to-the-quality-of-MOG-or-at-least-Spotify-and-here-s-how

And, if you're interested in a Beats Music Roku* app, here's this other post you can vote or comment on: http://support.beatsmusic.com/hc/communities/public/questions/200434850-Roku-App


As a current MOG* customer, I have a 1 month free trial of Beats Music to look forward to, starting March 15th, according to this support page.

If Beats Music* ever improves enough for me to become a customer, I will gladly post about it!

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