Thursday, February 18, 2016

The Artists' Quarter Lives On

Like many other folks, I was saddened with the Twin Cities' best jazz club, the Artists' Quarter, closed at the end of 2013.

I have a bit of a bias; I was a long time friend of the club; having ran the club's website from its inception at the end of 1998 until I left Minneapolis for Chicago in 2006. I was proud to help owner Kenny Horst bring people in the door, and build up the email list from zero to thousands-- the email list had over 5,000 subscribers in 2006 -- not bad for a local business. It was easy to gauge the reach of the email list -- all I had to do was include a typo in a cover charge price, which happened accidentally on occasion, and it seemed like everybody through the door that night wanted to receive the discounted, typo'd price. That wasn't my preferred method of proving that the website and email list actually connected with folks, but it surely proved the point.

In 2006, my friend Don Berryman took over the AQ website and managed it under his own steady hand. After our successful and fun AQ New Year's Eve 2015 pop-up event at Hell's Kitchen, we realized that it no longer made sense to continue running the dynamic-content laden incarnation of the website with its associated technical and financial overhead. But instead of shutting down the Artists' Quarter website, we've transitioned it in a way that will allow us to keep it alive for the long term. You'll see that it's still out there at http://www.artistsquarter.com, awaiting your visit. But now, we're focusing on the history of the club, video clips from various musical acts over the years, and links to insightful articles with more detail, including Pamela Espeland's fabulous "Pleased and Flipped: Memories of the AQ" series, and the occasional shout out when a musician known to grace the AQ stage gets a solid mention elsewhere.

The site's now hosted on Blogger; Google's free blogging platform. This allows us to post and share content easily, while eliminating any hosting costs beyond the regular renewal of the domain name.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Internet in Minneapolis

We just found out that Comcast was overcharging us by $10/month for the past year, due to a billing error. They'll only refund $20 of it, which strikes me as really unethical, and I'm really disappointed with them.

We're looking to change internet providers as a result. But the options aren't very promising.

I could get Centurylink DSL, 7 megabit. But that's too slow AND they force me into a bundle with dial-tone, making it $66/month, which is more than the ~$50ish Comcast is nailing us for 50 megabit cable.

US Internet has 1 gigabit fiber in Minneapolis. But not in our neighborhood. We're just not cool enough. I don't see it coming to our building, either, since we live in a high rise and live so close to downtown.

Minneapolis has municipal wi-fi, but we're probably too high up in the air to get it. And I don't trust that service anyway; it seems like it probably doesn't scale well or reach far. I'm not going to fight to make that kind of thing work.

So....boo. I do know that I'm at least going to dump our HD cable box and plug in a TV antenna and see if we can get local HD channels for free. Might as well at least minimize what we pay to the monopolists.

Verizon LTE works great in our apartment, but since it's not unlimited, it's not suitable for streaming TV and movies.

If anybody has any other ideas, I'm all ears.