Alastair’s favourite bands… and how to listen to them

By | March 22, 2021

We’ve been rather busy over the last few weeks bringing two very popular books bang up to date.  I’ll tell you a bit about them in a minute, but first a bit of music…

My son, Alastair, isn’t quite your average 10-year-old when it comes to music.  Thankfully.  I can probably do without Ed Sheeran and Taylor Swift (or whatever the other kids are listening to these days)!

So he asked me to set up something on his iPad to let him listen to (as he put it) “good music”.  He’s got a bit of an eclectic taste in music – I’m sure he’s picked it up from me and Tim – one minute he’ll be listening to The Kinks, the next it’s the Danse Macabre, then an American rock/metal band called Halestorm.  The radio wasn’t really going to cut it!

Luckily, there are a few options out there:

YouTube Music: If you’ve got an Android tablet or phone, this is probably your best bet.  You can either use the free version of the app or pay £9.99 per month for the full version.  With the free version, you can browse or search their massive music catalogue to play pretty much whatever you like.  The downsides are that you can’t leave the music playing while you do something else on your tablet or phone (you have to leave the app open on the screen) and you get an advert every few songs (but not as many as on commercial radio).  Newer Android devices come with this app already on them, but you can use it on an iPad or iPhone as well – you can download it for free from your app store.

Spotify: This is another option with a free version and a paid one (like YouTube Music).  The paid version is the same price as the YouTube one, but the limits on the free version are a bit different.  You don’t have to leave the app open on the screen, so you can read your emails or surf the web while the music plays in the background.  It doesn’t let you just play the songs you want to hear, though.  You can choose a genre, artist or album, and then Spotify plays “sponsored songs” that it thinks you’ll like as well as the ones you’ve chosen.  Personally, I find that too annoying – but it’s horses for courses.

Amazon Music: This is the one we got for Alastair in the end – we’ve got Amazon Prime membership, so it made sense.  With Prime, you get access to about 2 million songs on Amazon Music for free – without any adverts or sponsored songs.  If you don’t have Prime, or you want more choice of music, you can pay £9.99 per month to access their full catalogue.  Again, the app itself is free to download and you can get it from the Google Play Store or Apple’s App Store.

Apple have their own music app as well, but there’s no free version – to use it, you can either pay £9.99 per month for their full catalogue of music, or buy specific songs that you can keep and listen to as many times as you like.

Alastair seems happy now, anyway.

New editions of two of our best-selling books

Over the years, we’ve brought out lots of books about technology – and we get lovely comments from you, our readers, about how helpful you find them.  But two books in particular from the last few years really stand out.

The first is Survive and Thrive in the Digital Age.  When we published this book in 2018, it was so popular we struggled to keep up with the orders!  Tim described it as a sort of “life belt” for modern life – it covers both how to make the most of the stuff that can help you (have more fun, save time or even save money…) and how to deal with the stuff that could otherwise be a pain in the neck!

But three years can be a long time in the world of technology, so we’ve been through the book with a fine-toothed comb, bringing it all bang up to date.

Of course, along with all the fantastic things you can do with new technology come the frustrations, catastrophes, blunders and predicaments as things go wrong that you don’t know how to fix.

A lot of problems aren’t actually that hard to sort out.  But as usual, the snag is that until someone’s shown you how, you just don’t know.  Which is why we’ve been working hard to bring another of our most popular books up to date – Technology Help is at Hand.  

And for the first time, this new edition covers Apple Macs and Macbooks as well as PCs, laptops, tablets, smartphones, printers and other bits of kit that might be causing you headaches.

Look out for my emails over the next few days, where I’ll tell you all about the new editions of these books, including how to order for free trial copies.

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