With CBS's announcement that it has purchased Last.fm, I figured it was high time to take a look at some of the Personalized Internet Radio providers. When most radio people think of the concept of a "station" or online streaming - they draw the analogy to terrestrial radio. One station programmed by someone in an attempt to draw in as many listeners as possible. But the internet and advances in computing and bandwidth have allowed the idea of a "station" to be replaced.

When you are evaluating your website for its effectiveness and appeal (and you should do this from time to time, just like PDs critically examine their on-air product), the thought process that many people undertake is to look at the site with their own eyes and then to imagine how the site appears to both first-time and then returning visitors. Is the site easy to understand? Is it simple to navigate around? Is it visually appealing?

There is a complication to this. What if the website your visitors are seeing isn't the website you see every day? Sure, everyone's experience is subjective and thus open to variation - but your site actually appears objectively different to your visitors depending on what Operating System they are using, what plugins they have installed, which browser they're using, what type of monitor they are viewing, etc...

If you can remember back to a time when you weren't involved in radio and were just a civilian, you likely didn't notice all the small mistakes on the air that now drive shivers up your spine. Nowadays, you can't listen to any station, let alone your own, without breaking it down and picking out the flaws. For web designers, we see the same thing. We notice the little things on other sites - and it is very common to find such problems on radio station sites since many of them beyond the top markets are handled by people who aren't full-time designers. Today's column is a little help to avoid some of those pitfalls. If you've been doing this for awhile, it will be old hat, but its still important.

The Net Untangled has spent some time looking at the SoundExchange / Copyright Royalty Board / Internet Performance Rates Controversy earlier this year. If you've followed the news all over the internet, some of this may be repetitive, but this week will be an update of the current situation.