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Saturday, August 30, 2008

LimeWire doubles music library; almost no one notices

LimeWire's DRM-free MP3 store will soon begin offering more than twice as much music as it currently does, thanks to a deal with independent music distributor The Orchard. The company's contributions from smaller labels and indie artists will add some 1.2 million tracks to LimeWire, bringing the available total to over 2 million. With the noticeable absence of any major labels and nary a unique feature, however, LimeWire is unlikely to become a big name in the online music biz anytime soon.

"The Orchard's top flight, broad and diverse music repertoire will enrich our users' music-buying experience," LimeWire CFO Jesse Rubenfeld said in a statement. "I believe this partnership will help expand the digital music market for us and will equally benefit our artist and label partners."

The addition of so many smaller artists may help LimeWire gain a slightly stronger foothold among the other music stores that are known for their indie selections, like eMusic and Amie Street. We're not convinced that it will help expand the company's share of the overall digital music market.

LimeWire first introduced its DRM-free music store in April of this year, selling legit tracks on the web while still keeping up its P2P network alive and well on the desktop. At the time, we found selection to be lacking—there were only half a million MP3s to choose from, almost entirely from independent labels and none whatsoever from the Big Four labels. Even among the somewhat well-known artists on the site (like those available through Nettwerk Productions), there weren't many songs. LimeWire simply didn't have a lot of ammo to compete against the big dogs—iTunes or Amazon MP3—or even smaller dogs, which at least offer more features than LimeWire.

Limewire screenshotAnd therein lies the problem. With a limited selection (although today's deal will help—a little), no unique features, and LimeWire's flourishing P2P network, why would anyone choose to buy legit music from LimeWire? As long as P2P continues to be what LimeWire is known for, it's going to remain difficult to land deals with major labels. And with nothing more than a handful of tracks from those popular artists, the masses will not come when they have so many other options.

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10 Geeky Movies to Raise Your Kids On

Pco1013In our never-ending quest to provide you the tools and knowledge to raise your kids in your own geeky image, we present you with a list of 10 geeky movies to raise your kids with. This is a starter list, and by no means comprehensive. It also skews towards the younger set because we have to lay the proper geeky foundation. As always, leave your suggestions for additional titles in the comments.

1. Star Wars: You must, MUST! I say, start your child our with Episode IV: A New Hope. Diligence is key, brothers and sisters, and while your kids will probably enjoy even the new trilogy for it's grand spectacle, they must be brought into the fold the right way. Isn't it a thousand times better to fall in love with the non-verbal pluckiness of R2-D2 in New Hope, and then cheer when he pops up in Phantom Menace? I knew you'd agree.

2. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's (Philosopher's) Stone: The Potter movies are this generation's Star Wars trilogy, and so far, ALL of them have been well-done. The first is a perfect introduction to the world, in a more kid-friendly Chris Columbus way, and makes for a great way to get your kids into all sorts of fantasy literature later. I'll also take my lumps now: I'm *not* putting LOTR on this list because I don't think it's for younger kids - too long for them, and in cases too scary and violent. It'll definitely make the second list, for your Geeky Tweens, though, so have no fear.

3. The Last Starfighter: This is the film from our youth that did the first, and maybe best, job of arguing that being good at videogames could be worthwhile in other aspects of your life (like being able to save the universe someday). They early CG was pretty darned good, too. Classic tale of the downtrodden geeky kid getting to find out they're special, and live out a wish fulfillment.

Totoro 4. My Neighbor Totoro: All Miyazaki is wonderful, with a beauty and spirit we seldom see in American-produced animation (Iron Giant counts as an exception to that statement). I chose Totoro because it's the most accessible for a child, I think (Spirited Away and Princess Mononoke are a bit too scary in parts). The imaginary friend angle appeals to every young-at-heart parent, as well. If you can get your kid in love with this, then follow up with Howl's Moving Castle, Kiki's Delivery Service, and Nausicaa.

5. Time Bandits: Another great story of wish-fulfillment for a downtrodden kid, but this one has a merry band of miscreant little-people, time-travel, Sean Connery, John Cleese, and David Warner. Plus, it sets them up for Brazil and all the Monty Python oeuvre as they get older.

More after the break.

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The Dark Crystal: The best pure-fantasy movie out there for younger kids, period. There are no human characters in the film at all (yes, I know, they're all puppets), but we still get attached to them and sucked into their world. An also-ran here would be Neverending Story, but I'd put Labyrinth in the tweens list for next time.

WarGames: You could argue for WarGames to be on the tweens list as well, but I like it here because the kids will connect with the computer angle, the being ignored by grown-ups angle. I also like the idea of starting them young with a sense of the government and military being important, but not always bad. Let's just pretend the "sequel" that's out on DVD now never happened, okay?

Chitty-Chitty Bang-Bang: The technicolor American musical in all its splendor, with Dick van Dyke at his prime, and a magical car. The breakfast machine in the beginning should inspire many a Maker, and I always revel in noticing Desmond Llewelyn (original Q in the Bond movies - this was an Ian Fleming story, after all!), and Benny Hill as the toymaker.

Goonies Goonies: The perfect geek-gang adventure story with home-made gadgets, pirates, treasure and all, this movie also helps reinforce finding and sticking to friendships. The talk about a sequel for this movie, with most or all of the original cast, really gets me excited (just like the Tr2n footage).

Back to the Future: The best way to initiate your kids into the joys of time-travel stories, and the joys of all things Christopher Lloyd. This is one of those cases where the whole series is enjoyable and family-friendly, and the great geeky repeatable dialog will keep you amused for a long time. Hello, McFly?!?!

So, what do you think? Any other great geeky starter movies for our kids? Let us know!