Surf the airwaves and build a customised station that plays your music Normally, I use this space to hunt down and slam the lame and tame. Blame a spoilt childhood coupled with the glut of tech world drivel deftly spoofed by an Onion newspaper headline: Amazing New Hyperbolic Chamber Greatest Invention in the History of Mankind Ever. But this week I promise to be positive because I have found something worth clapping - a killer app even. Well, 'found' is too strong a word: I had been tooling around with internet radio for a while and found it just as lousy as twiddling with a wireless. Typically, the signal dropped. Or the station refused to load. But internet radio now seems to deserve the Idea Whose Time Has Come status, judging by a program called last.fm. Fire it up and you can then make your own station(s) that play tracks you like after you nominate an act as a model from which a play-list can evolve. Hailed as 'the Flickr of music' and a sure-fire contender for a Yahoo or Google takeover, last.fm in theory means no more turkey tracks that make you wince. It seems to offer the promise of an endless stream of pleasure. But you only get out what you put in. First, you need to 'train' the program. After selecting one of my favourite acts, the down-tempo English electronica band Zero 7, last.fm promptly started playing Dean Martin. Styles alien to my ear - jazz and samba - also later made the cut. But the program enables you to click a 'no entry' icon to ban a song. Conversely, to endorse, you click on a heart-shaped 'kiss'. As a result, little by little, the quality improves. The occasional dud still crops up but dealing with it is fun because rejecting it makes you feel like a Roman emperor giving the thumbs down kiss of death to a gladiator. Better yet, no longer does the threat of a Metallica or Huey Lewis and the News song haunt my thoughts. Likewise, I do not need to listen to a DJ banging on in that deliberately sing-song tone supposed to hold your attention. Well done, that algorithm. If I tire of WilsonFm and feel the need to further investigate what music is out there, I can always enlist a pre-defined internet radio station. Because I like music to be soothing and a touch cosmic, I often tune in to Groove Salad ( www.live365.com/stations/groovesalad ), which defines itself as 'A nicely chilled plate of ambient beats and grooves'. To hop around from station to station, I just use Apple's music playing program iTunes, which offers a range of genres from reggae to Americana, blues, jazz, country and spoken word. The last means that, should I want to, I can pick up on the latest developments in the Iraq War or escape into comedy. Normally, with both music and talk, the signal is clear enough - almost CD standard to my ear. That said, the comedy radio is often hard to hear thanks to redneck accents and rowdy audience members. Also, when the number of online listeners swells, my internet connection slows so much that receiving e-mail feels like pulling teeth. Another snag is that I feel trapped. Unlike in the case of a podcast, I cannot really pause, tee-up and replay a song or a selection of songs that I like. In that sense, net radio is a throwback to the dark days when the listener was automatically subjected to a generic song stream that gave you the urge to hang the DJ. But internet radio makes the computer seem less a machine for counting ones and zeros and more like an entertainment centre. Net radio is alluring in its own right, too. Because I do not even need to pay for internet radio, maybe I should sell my TV and cancel my satellite subscription. Farewell John Logie Baird and Rupert Murdoch, hello Guglielmo Marconi and Tim Berners-Lee. Join me and surf the airwaves.