Apparently I lean towards Camper Van, the Replacements. and Ryan Adams. (The last of which I actually had tickets to see in Burlington on Thursday, but the final exam for my mass media class ended up being scheduled for the same time. Dammit.)
- "Red Red Red Red Wine," Ryan Adams Pinkheart and Q-Division Demos
- "Don't Have To Be So Sad," Yo La Tengo Summer Sun
- "Turquoise Jewelry," Camper Van Beethoven Cigarettes & Carrot Juice - The Santa - Cruz Years
"Shut Up #2," The ReplacementsStudio Sessions Anthology (1980-1991)
- "Debaser," The Pixies Doolittle
- "Nothing To No One," Paul Westerberg Stereo
- "core," plagasul and rich_1004_ Cen'Art Compilation
- "spanish lady 00000 ending different voice," The Conet Project The Conet Project
- "Daydream Believer," Paul Westerberg Lucky's Revenge (Live at the Whiskey-A-Go-Go, 7.21.93)
- "Hunting Bears," Radiohead Amnesiac
- "I Know What I Know," Paul Simon Concert In The Park
- "Instrumental Piece Number 7," Tom Waits Alice: The Original Demos
- "Turtlehead," Camper Van Beethoven Cigarettes & Carrot Juice - The Santa Cruz Years
- "Hey Good Lookin'," The Replacements It Ain't Over 'Till The Fat Roadies Sing
- "Touch, Feel and Lose," Ryan Adams Live at the House of Blues L.A
- "No one Can Forgive Me But My Baby," Tom Waits Tales From the Underground
- "Hash Pipe (Live)," Weezer Bootleg
- "Matilda No More (with Kasey Chambers)," Slim Dusty Looking Forward Looking Back Country
- "Tremens," Sonic Youth SYR 1
- "Me and Depression," Donna the Buffalo Live 2005-01-15 - Lincoln Theatre
Adam Greenfield has a great piece at Boxes and Arrows, "All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace: Some Ethical Guidelines for User Experience in Ubiquitous-Computing Settings. As Greenfield points out, ubicomp is moving up fast on the horizon--but designers and engineers haven't yet deeply considered the immense ethical ramifications of the technologies.
It is, however, the impact of ubicomp on civil liberty that I am most concerned with. While the quality of ubiquitous interaction is more squarely within the typical ambit of our professional concerns, it is the civic sphere where our input and perspective is most critical and can be leveraged to secure the most enduring and important gains.
Ubiquitous systems lend themselves easily to—indeed, redefine—surveillance. However discrete they may be at their design and inception, their interface with each other implies a domain of action that extends from the very contours of the human body outward to whatever arbitrarily large civic space can be equipped with the necessary sensors and effectors. In short, there is no current technology with greater potential to support authoritarian and totalitarian social engineering, and the limitation otherwise of choice.
Greenfield's thoughtful piece includes a set of foundational principles (beginning with the obvious but often overlooked Principle 0: Do No Harm) and a list of useful links.
[via Boxes and Arrows]
Max Rottersman shows how to McGuyver your own teleprompter using a laptop, two CD cases, and a couple of binder clips. He also posts some CSS code to help you scroll text. Too cool.
At Synaptic Burn, David Heller offers some examples of why the usability meter climbs into the "Sucks" zone in Lotus Notes.
Do you guys see what I see in the tool tip? It actually says “Widget Icon”!!!!!!!
Holy Cow! My design team here at work had to take 10 minutes of laughing hysterically.
Now, some of the other great tooltips we saw were:
For the paper clip which usually means that there is an attachment with the message, it says, “Paperclip Icon.”
For the exclamation point that means that a message is high priority, the tool tip says, “Exclamation Point Icon.”
[via the IxD discussion list]
The Rake has an interesting article--including interviews with inventors--about the 25th anniversary of the Post-It note. Anyone who has borrowed books from me knows how important those sort-of-sticky-but-not-really pieces of paper are to me.
[via daypop top 40]
Following up on the release of "The Hand That Feeds" in editable multitrack GarageBand format, Trent Reznor is now streaming the unreleased Nine Inch Nails album With Teeth from the band's website. Crazy like Wilco. (Related comments and links to other streaming albums available at a MetaFilter post
Darth Vader has a blog. There goes the neighborhood.
Big day. Storming the rebel ice fortress.
Took a nap first so I would be peppy. Leg feels pretty good.
A /. post links to the essay by Jef Raskin (he who more or less wrote the Mac human interface, among other things) in ACM Queue, "Comments Are More Important Than Code" after the poster attempts to figure out spaghetti code he wrote three years ago. As Raskin says,
But the fundamental reason code cannot ever be self-documenting and automatic documentation generators can’t create what is needed is that they can’t explain why the program is being written, and the rationale for choosing this or that method. They cannot discuss the reasons certain alternative approaches were taken.
Which is what interfaces are really all about, in the real world: interfaces are rhetorical, and if the coders (or someone one design team) doesn't deeply understand why interface decisions need to address logical decisions from the user's standpoint, they're only geek puzzles. And those are fine in some domains--like when the users are geeks (and I use "geek" in its positive rather than negative connotations). But the large majority of computer interfaces aren't written to be used by other geeks, so we need to come up with better ways for coding teams to understand how their decisions relate to their users. The Raskin essay as well as the /. discussion both include some useful insights. (But as a content warning, the /. post is pretty technical if you aren't familiar with code.)
welcome to the first installation of the unfields series! the unfoundsound website's new addition offers a palette of downloadable field recordings at no cost. you are free to use these samples (under the terms described in this licence) to further your own sound experimentation and music production. the unfields are audio snapshots of the world that surrounds us, taken from the subjective point of view of the artist who recorded them. they are provided as is, without any processing, along with the inevitable imperfections which are inherent during this kind of recording procedure. the recordings are complemented by a series of pictures and a short text written by the author that illustrate the circumstances of the recording. please feel free to submit tracks created from the unfields for a possible release on foundsound or unfoundsound.
This un/found/field/sound thing is all very complicated, and all of the title tags on their various web pages include numerous typographical marks, repeated many times. Apparently foundsound is a Philly record label that specializes in vinyl techno/microhouse created out of sampled and ambient sounds. The unfield series is a web-based distribution system for field recordings that can be sampled; unfield is actually part of foundsound's web-distribution alter ego, unfoundsound ... gah, my head asplode.
[via PhillyTechno.org] (no, really; I'm not sure how I ended up there)
In which a novice hacker threatens to infiltrate the machines of several other (apparently more experienced) users and "send you a virus." The giggling targets helpfully provide the proto-hacker with instructions on how to attack his/her own machine. Hilarity ensues.
Time's website reports that the White House blocked Qualcomm and Nokia from sending representatives to the meeting of the Inter-American Telecommunication Commission--apparently because those companies supported Kerry during the last election. White House spokesmodel Trent Duffy explained the decision:
"We wanted people who would represent the Administration positively, and--call us nutty--it seemed like those who wanted to kick this Administration out of town last November would have some difficulty doing that."
Me: So it was only $29.99. How could I not buy it?
Underdog: Do you even know how to play the violin?
Me: Not at all.
Underdog: So why did you buy it?
Me: It was $29.99!
On clearance at Sound Professionals. I think I got the last one. Now I just have to figure out how to play it? It's only got four strings--how hard can that be? (Harder than I thought.) (But it was only $29.99!)
The results of rain today. It's supposed to snow here on Monday.
Boing-Boing points to a Palm Beach Post article about a Senate bill introduced by Rick Santorum that would kill the National Weather Service's service of providing free, online weather forecasts:
The bill... would prohibit federal meteorologists from competing with companies such as AccuWeather and The Weather Channel, which offer their own forecasts through paid services and free ad-supported Web sites.
Santorum provides a helpful and cogent explanation for the bill:
"... It is not an easy prospect for a business to attract advertisers, subscribers or investors when the government is providing similar products and services for free."
Is this a great country or what?
[via Boing Boing]
I remember when I could not afford a 2 gig hard drive. I remember how hard it was filling my hard drive with useless programs and games. Now I have 2 gigs for email!!
My first hard drive, purchased by a company that I was on a short consulting gig with to test its grammar-checking software in the mid-1980s, was a massive 5 megs. I couldn't imagine how I'd ever fill that much space. I can also remember, with sharp financial clarity, scraping my grad student TA income together to purchase four 512K SIMMS for my Mac SE/30 for something like $400.... In fact, when I was young, we used to have to carry our bits from the hard drive to the logic board by hand, two miles, sometimes in a foot and a half of snow, uphill both ways.
Damn, you kids got it easy.
(I actually posted a link to the BBC article in a Datacloud entry two and a half months ago. I don't think I've ever been that far out in front of /. coverage before. Still, the discussion at /. is pretty a pretty interesting bit of insight into the work habits of geeks (as always).)
Another great source for streaming alternative radio: soma fm. Seven different stations, ranging from ambiet/groove to drone to trance to indiepop, all in multiple bandwidths. I'm listening right now to Groove Salad right now, which Soma describes as a "tasty plate of ambient beats and grooves." That's about right.
[via the Research Buzz list]
I regularly check in at Overheard in New York for (purported) quotes from conversations on the streets, restaurants, coffeeshops, and subways of NYC. Frequently funny, sometimes disturbing, often symptomatic of culture in general, such as this one titled I'm Expecting a Call from Two Magpies:
Chick #1: Is that your cell phone ringing?
Chick #2: Julie, those are birds.
[via Overheard in New York]
Neel Krishnaswami discusses some thoughts he has about "Lexicon," a still-unbuilt RPG based loosely on ideas from Pavic's influential Dictionary of the Khazars.
The basic idea is that each player takes on the role of a scholar, from before scholarly pursuits became professionalized (or possibly after they ceased to be). You are cranky, opinionated, prejudiced and eccentric. You are also collaborating with a number of your peers -- the other players -- on the construction of an encyclopedia describing some historical period (possibly of a fantastic world).
The game is played in 26 turns, one for each letter of the alphabet.
More details, such as its possible wiki basis and a link to an encyclopedia entry on Pavic's work, are at The 20' by 20' Room.
Kindly Contest Persons:
Do you believe in fairies? Do you? Then you’ll be as excited as I was to learn that my new house is absolutely packed with fairies, gremlins, and pixies of all sorts, many of whom have literary ambitions.
[via The Morning News]
"We do find that people are able to make fairly accurate assessments solely on the basis of a person's top 10 songs,'' said Jason Rentfrow, a psychology consultant who co-authored a 2003 University of Texas study of more than 3,500 people that showed musical taste can provide a road map to a person's personality.
(Now listening to, btw, Ronnie Nyogetsu Seldin's "Yugurre No Kyoku," from Makoto-Shinjitsu ... my automated upload of "now playing in iTunes" seems to be caught in a demo CD I got from Magnet last weekend.)
[via Michael R. Moore]
Whatis.com has collected a very large collection of IT Cheat Sheets. Topics covered range from basic HTML to network cabling to PHP to MS Office apps (here's your chance to get rid of Clippy).
[via Lockergnome Bytes]
Collin v. Blog points to this webpage translator that produces raps based on given weebsites. Here's the Datacloud feed:
org rdf syntax
database of audio snippets ex
title stones dc identifier
sound of a spar
c g tag
vol dc identifier rag
[via Collin vs. Blog]
After we found out we weren't going to get hammered too hard on taxes (consulting and royalty income always hits us hard at the end of the fiscal year, since I can never get organized enough to pay quarterly estimated taxes), I decided to finally spring for an iPod.
I asked Underdog for advice. After overviewing the specs on the three available form-factors for the iPod, and then running through the iPod Shuffle and iPod Mini, Underdog said, So what's the next one again, the MaxiPod? (Then she descended into giggling.)
No help there, so I ended up ordering the Mini, and am now searching around for some better earbuds. I'm sort of stuck, since I the earbuds I've used until now (including Apple's standard earbuds) are too large for my ear canal. I'm looking at the Etymotics er-69 or the Audio-Technica ATH-EM9d, both at audiocubes, at around the $150 mark (although I could go higher if I had good reason--I'll be funding these out of a research account I'm using for some audio work I'm doing for my research). Any recommendations would be welcome.
I wish I had more time to play with this. One more week of classes....
I initially thought this was a joke, but then it started popping up everwhere.... In Idaho, House Concurrent Resolution No. 29 (aka, "Napoleon Dynamite Commendation") has apparently passed. The resolution text sounds like someone took the movie to be a tourism promotion piece, but it's just being postmodern ironic, as suggested by this part of section 2:
2 WHEREAS, any members of the House of Representatives or the Senate of the 3 Legislature of the State of Idaho who choose to vote "Nay" on this concurrent 4 resolution are "FREAKIN' IDIOTS!" and run the risk of having the "Worst Day of 5 Their Lives!"
MyEyesOpen collects (and then apparently will eventually be posting) pictures taken by people seconds after waking. I'm not sure my camera is up to being batted off the nightstand the way that I routinely do with my alarm clock.
The Freesound Project provides a community-constructed database of sounds you can sample under Creative Commons licenses.
The Freesound Project aims to create a huge collaborative database of audio snippets, samples, recordings, bleeps, ... released under the Creative Commons Sampling Plus License. The Freesound Project provides new and interesting ways of accessing these samples, allowing users to
- browse the sounds in new ways using keywords, a "sounds-like" type of browsing and more
- up and download sounds to and from the database, under the same creative commons license
- interact with fellow sound-artists!
We also aim to create an open database of sounds that can also be used for scientific research. Many audio research institutions have trouble finding correctly licensed audio to test their algorithms. Many have voiced this problem, but so far there hasn't been a solution.
12 Apr, Tue, 12:46:46 MSN
Search: cg tetris
12 Apr, Tue, 14:57:55 Yahoo: Cloud Logs for March
12 Apr, Tue, 20:28:04 MSN Search: purelivegigs
13 Apr, Wed, 01:21:12 Google: neil young torrent uncle tupelo connection
13 Apr, Wed, 02:13:28 Google: "Johnson-Eilola"
13 Apr, Wed, 06:30:54 Yahoo: easytree
13 Apr, Wed, 10:48:19 MSN Search: videogames from 1960
This isn't the sort of thing I like to see during the boot process.
It does, though, have a slightly better user experience than I got from my old PowerBook 5300c, which once told me I had a bad RAM chip by emitting the very loud, high-fidelity sound of a car crash, complete with squealing tires, twisting metal, and breaking glass (at least that's how it got processed in my own, wetware memory). Nothing like programmers with a sick sense of humor.
Brad Beasley's way-cool documentary on The Flaming Lips, The Fearless Freaks, is apparently getting ready for wide release. Brad was kind enough to send me a copy of the 30-minute, early version of this (under the title "The Flaming Lips Have Landed") when I was writing a chapter for Datacloud [80k MS Word file, temp. availability] that used Doug Pray's Scratch [amazon.com link] and The Flaming Lips' "Parking Lot Experiments" (among other things) to talk about new ways of thinking about text in an information-saturated, visually/sonically influenced notion of writing.
If the Flaming Lips have had an accidental career then this documentary is indeed an accident. In 1991, I was simply Wayne's art school neighbor in Norman, Oklahoma with a film camera and some tenacity. They were in need of a willing and somewhat competent cinematographer and I was on a constant hunt for action-packed stories and oddball characters. And thus a relationship built of geographic convenience and a mutual desire to create ourselves. And now, 15-years later, I have thankfully made my filmmaking career through working with the Flaming Lips.
Update: You can now pre-order the DVD of The Fearless Freaks at Amazon.com for $17.49. Cool.
Plasq releases a Comic Life, an OS X app that helps you build comics using iPhoto libraries or other image files. $39.99 to purchase, but a 30-day, fully functional (as far as I can tell) trial is available. The support system is slick, at least for rank novice comic artists: templates with different patterns of empty cells; many types of word balloons; intuitive drag-and-drop; resizing, and cropping (complete with goofy sound effects). You wouldn't be making the next Sandman or Watchmen with this, but it's pretty fun nonetheless. (And I'm guessing even a good comic artist might be able to use this for roughing out some storyboards or whatever the hell comic artists do prior to actually sketching out the start of their production drawings.)
I whacked this out in about ten minutes using an iPhoto album from a concert in Lake Placid last August, featuring Underdog, Donna the Buffalo, one of the guys from the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Sonny Landreth, and David Hidalgo on and off stage with Los Lobos. Like I said, it ain't art--not even serial art--but still, you can probably see the app has some potential.
Tony Wheeler, one of the founders of Lonely Planet, weblogs his overland trip from Singapore to Shanghai. Much of it is that trademarked LP breezy, I'm coping, albeit somewhat clumsily style endemic to Lonely Planet (not that I'm complaining--I actually like that), but the best part is en route, when he snaps this image of a monk sending a text message.
In the afternoon I take the bus to Phnom Penh. We have not been out of mobile phone range for a single kilometre all the way from Singapore, so it's no surprise when the orange clad monk sitting beside me reaches into the folds of his robe and pulls out his phone to check a text message. He texts back with enviable speed.
All of which raises the issue of why both Wheeler and I are surprised that monks have cellphones. Ethnocentrism, I guess.
Illustrator Danny Gregory offers a journal summarizing his day at his weblog. Generally interesting to read/look at, but I liked this bit:
15:00-16:30. We head out to the P.S. 41 Talent Show. Some of the kids are talented; most are indulged. I am impressed by a 4th grader who, accompanied by her dad on guitar, sings a song she wrote that totally sounds like Lou Reed, circa 1972. I am horrified by a group of white third-grade boys who rap, breakdance and throw out various gangsta moves to a song by Usher. Then their grandmothers rush the stage with bouquets of roses for them. Even Jack is mortified.
Jakob Nielsen's Alertbox this week discusses a recently published Journal of the American Medical Association article [link to abstract] reporting research on the poor design of one hospital's order-entry system, used by doctors to prescribe medication for patients.
Ross Koppel and colleagues reported on a field study of a hospital's order-entry system, which physicians use to specify patient medications. The study identified twenty-two ways in which the system caused patients to get the wrong medicine. Most of these issues are usability problems. I'll briefly discuss the ones of general interest here.
Playing the curmudgeon to the hilt, after discussing some of the findings, Nielsen rips into the limitations of the research methodology; The New York Times; The Journal of the American Medical Association; university/academic/research websites in general; and small, furry bunnies.
[via Tomalak's Realm]
Here's a partial playlist from the 4.3 show: The Books, Queens of the Stone Age, Black Keys, Steven Malkmus, Spoon, Saul Williams, Bright Eyes, Fisherspooner, and Antony and the Johnsons. See? I told you. Way cooler than me.
I don't really like basketball all that much (I'm 5'7" and my name was never mentioned in the same sentence as the word "quick" unless the sentence also included the words "on skates" [20 years ago] or "not"), but this video from DC Shoes is pretty cool. Some guys in an indoor skate park making some frankly amazing trick shots, off walls, floors, ramps, over the shoulder from forty feet out, and more. Hard to explain; you sort of have to see it.
[via Boing Boing]
Apparently, Easytree.org is back, under the new name EzTorrent at http://www.dimeadozen.org. Seems to be just a simple port of all information from the old site to the new one (including all former Easytree userids and passwords).
Of course, it could all be an elaborate RIAA/FBI honeypot designed to gather information on filesharers....
Hitatchi takes a cue from Schoolhouse Rock in their Flash animation explaining their perpendicular hard disk technology.
The real question is, how many of you started hearing the little jingle, I'm just a bill, sittin' on Capitol Hill... when I mentioned "Schoolhouse Rock"? If you're jonesing, here's a better site.
"Bertha," Los Lobos (Live at Grass Roots (7.24.04))
"Shameless," Cracker (Forever)
"Tennessee Sucks (10-05-01)," Ryan Adams (Live (10/5/01, Boston))
"When You Dance I Can Really Love," Neil Young (A Perfect Echo)
"Mule Conversations 3," Tom Waits (Mule Conversations)
"God in my bed," K's Choice (Cocoon Crash)
"english man," The Conet Project (The Conet Project)
"Mega-Superior Gold," Ryan Adams (Pinkheart and Q-Division Demos)
"John Walker's Blues," Steve Earle & The Dukes (Austin City Limits Music Festival 2004)
"Shaking Hell," Sonic Youth (Live Venlo, Holland 12.27.83)
"Nocturnal Transmission," Medeski, Martin And Wood (Uninvisible)
"Why Can't You Be Nicer To Me?," The White Stripes (De Stijl)
"Catching On," Son Volt (Live In Ames, Iowa)
"The Winter Cows," Guided By Voices (Sunfish Holy Breakfast)
June 18, 1976," Pedro the Lion (Progress)
"Cecilia," Paul Simon (Concert In The Park (Disc 2))
"King Of The Claws," The Olivia Tremor Control (Presents: Singles and Beyond)
"workshop," The Conet Project (The Conet Project)
"Pretty Vacant," he Sex Pistols (Never Mind the Bollocks)
"Still Be Around (Demo)," Uncle Tupelo (Live, B-Sides, and Demos)
"Hung Up On You," Fountains Of Wayne (Welcome Interstate Managers)
A couple of people have commented on the sometimes disturbing continuity of the party mix/shuffles lists I've posted. They're not hand-selected; they're automatically generated by iTunes shuffle mode, so they reflect (according to Apple) a random selection of the always-shifting 30 or 40 gigs of music on my PowerBook. But I have to say, I sort of like the sonic whiplash in moving from Steve Earle to Sonic Youth to MM&W, then curving into the White Stripes, Son Volt, and Guided By Voices. But I'm weird like that.
Emma Stratton at The Morning News waxes nostalgic about that very brief (so short maybe it was just a hope) period when the minidisc was the epitome of small, personal audio devices.
People later called us suckers, but my MiniDisc crew had a vision of a world where portable audio and dignity weren’t mutually exclusive, a vision that to us looked very much like a New York subway where dozens of riders enjoy whatever is pulsing through their tiny white wires. I hear MiniDiscs are still going strong in Hong Kong and Japan, but in the U.S. they are marching to wherever the BetaMax went. Today, a hundred MiniDiscs sit in a shoebox in my closet. They contain priceless music archived for eternity, and until I move to Hong Kong, I will continue to lug them through each phase of my life in the off-chance that I meet a kindred soul with a player that still works.
Although high-density (one gig) minidiscs were released last year, I'm afraid it's a dead end. I keep telling myself that $300 Sharp DR-7 minidisc recorder I paid to import two years ago from Audiocubes was money well spent. On-the-fly adjustable line-level input. 1-bit Auvi digital amp (I'm not geeky enough to really understand what that means, but audiophiles seemed impressed by it). Four-pole headphone plug (ditto). Still, I'm going to have to break down and buy an iPod at some point. I kept waiting for one that would do decent recording of live music, but that doesn't seem to be on the horizon. (If experience is any indicator, Apple will release that tech a few weeks after I buy an iPod.)
Sigur Ros, "Viewsic Special [Tokoyo]" DVD [4.15.03]. Wow.
The Datacloud referrer logs suggest that a lot of people are as upset about Easytree being shut down as I am....
08 Apr, Fri, 04:23:13 Google: easytree shut down
08 Apr, Fri, 05:43:56 Yahoo: easytree shut down
08 Apr, Fri, 06:10:53 Google: easytree ezt
08 Apr, Fri, 08:46:15 Google: easytree is down
08 Apr, Fri, 09:06:36 Yahoo: easytree shut down
08 Apr, Fri, 09:10:02 Yahoo: ezt shut down
08 Apr, Fri, 09:50:34 Google: johndan eilola
08 Apr, Fri, 10:51:49 Google: easytree blog
08 Apr, Fri, 12:03:35 Google: easytree down
08 Apr, Fri, 12:28:35 Google:easytree blog
08 Apr, Fri, 12:30:55 Google: replace easytree
08 Apr, Fri, 12:32:49 Yahoo: easytree shut down
08 Apr, Fri, 12:49:36 Google: easytree shut down
08 Apr, Fri, 12:50:44 Google: EZT easytree
08 Apr, Fri, 13:02:49 Google: easytree shutdown
08 Apr, Fri, 13:38:37 Google: easytree shutdown nirvana
08 Apr, Fri, 13:42:02 Google: easytree shut down
08 Apr, Fri, 13:42:57 Altavista: easytree+shut down
08 Apr, Fri, 14:12:29 Google: tweedy lessig torrent
08 Apr, Fri, 14:29:36 Google: easytree replacement
If you're looking for sites sharing (legal) music, check the live music section of archive.org (lots of other great stuff there as well) and purelivegigs.com (not as much stuff as at EasyTree or Sharing the Groove, but still worth a look).
Koranteng Ofosu-Amaah explores cultural assumptions about computer interfaces and the ways that they optimize performance for white, western users. Among other things, Ofosu-Amaah has some valid issues with the ways that photo-sharing websites optimize uploaded photos. The differences in compression algorithms leads to notable changes in skin tone, particularly for dark-skinned people photographed in bright light.
The first thing I very quickly noticed: somehow all the photos that I uploaded to Yahoo Photos turned out darker than on Flickr (the services both resize uploaded photos). The photo-resizing algorithm used by Yahoo Photos was giving worse results. This was noticeable to me because a large number of photos featured darker-skinned people such as myself. The originals were fine and where there were lighter skin tones everything looked good.
Ofosu-Amaah's post covers a wide range of interface issues. The general topic isn't a new one, but this is the best, short, information-packed post I've seen on the issue to date.
[via Joho the Blog]
Edirol just announced the CG-8 Visual Synthesizer at Musickmesse in Germany. Apparently it's a realtime mixer for video based on audio mixing practices.
Integrate with music: You can use audio to trigger video live, with VLINK/MIDI connections for further music integration, especially tight integration with Roland and Edirol gear.
Sample motion: Grab video for instant recording/resampling.
XY and drum pad triggers plus dual infra-red D-beam for control and triggering
Work from still images with photo and stamp effects and real-time overlaying of titles and graphics
Modulation: Borrowing from the concept of modulation in synthesis, you can modify images in real-time, apparently even beat-synced
640x480 VGA resolution
Not quite sure what all that means, but I still want one.
[via Create Digital Music]
A stop-motion re-enactment of the final scene from Seven [.mov w/sound loads automatically]. Oddly, it's still pretty compelling when the characters are played by stuffed animals. Probably because they use the original soundtrack. Kevin Spacey's character still sounds creepy, which mitigates the fact that he shows up as some weird, light-blue furry monster. And Brad Pitt's screaming and cursing overcome the fact that he's a furry, stuffed gorilla. Morgan Freeman, I have to say, works well as stuffed beagle with a hat.
Here's a useful link to give to people who think it's easier to post questions to large mailing lists rather than look for the answer on their own. [nsfw if your co-workers commonly read the URL-entry textbox in your browser]
The Library of Congress held a press conference to announce the most recent additions to the National Recording Registry. The list of fifty, culturally, aesthetically, or historically important recordings include works by Al Jolson, Edward R. Morrow, Nirvana (Nevermind) and Public Enemy (Fear of a Black Planet). Chuck D. was even at the press conference.
Part of me says, "Too cool." The other part of me feels the way I felt when I used to paint my fingernails when I was a professor at Purdue--for a whole year, although just on my left hand--just to see if anyone would give me crap about it. No one did. And Purdue wasn't exactly a hotbed of cultural radicalism. That's when I realized that pretty much anything I did had been exhausted of any revolutionary potential. Just another form of Mercedes Marxism. But I suppose being Chuck D. gives one a lot more street cred than being an English Professor, at least enough to support the weight of the irony of recognition by the Library of Congress.
For those of you who like both Wilco and IP (and I know there are a few of you out there), Wilco's website has a cool promo for the Thursday (4/7/05) event at the New York Public Library, featuring Jeff Tweedy, Lawrence Lessig, and Steven Johnson. I'd call him "Larry" like everyone else, but I wasn't in SF last month to talk to him during the IP panel that I helped set up at CCCC, so I've never met him; I only got to exchange email with a series of his assistants.
The promo doesn't actually do much at this point--it has basic info about the event and participants--but the site promises a live feed of the event (which will apparently allow that "play" button on the videotape graphic to actually do something).
[via Lessig Blog]
/. reports that Easytree.org has shut down under the threat of legal action. Unlike other P2P-enabling sites, Easytree didn't deal in commercial music (in fact, they had strict bans against it and regularly removed links to offending material). Instead, Easytree primarily hooked up people wanting to trade recordings of live shows and obscure, out-of-print (or even never-really-in-print) music. Gems from the last year included 1960s-era Miles Davis live performances, old Capt. Beefheart documentaries, Neil Young and the International Harvester's concerts and Steve Miller Band shows from decades ago, Hank Williams Sr. radio broadcasts, and more.
update: I mis-spoke slightly: Easytree doesn't even allow out-of-print music. Their policy is showed up in an RSS feed that I just pulled from NetNewsWire, apparently sent just shortly before Easytree shut down, after they pulled a seed:
A torrent has been banned from EZT [...]
Sorry folks, no compilation may contain any commercially released material, no matter how limited and no matter if OOP now.
As the /. article points out angrily, exactly what part of the market was being damaged by this?
Lifehacker comments on a friend's hard drive failure, and provides a quote from the victim:
'I was panicked at first,' she told me. 'After awhile, to my surprise, I realized I didn't miss very much at all.'
In addition to spending time offline occasionally just to remind myself that a lot of my online life isn't as worthy of my time as I think it is, I also hose my hard drive about twice a year. I can normally scrounge up some outdated backups to replace most of the important work, but in general I've found the drive failures help me clear the decks. Really important things I need to do slowly emerge when I haven't dealt with them (usually in the form of email messages from editors wondering where drafts of work or reviews of journal articles are). The relatively unimportant things just sort of fade away, as people find someone (more responsible) to do the work.
(I work hard to accurately and publicly portray how incompeten, irresponsible, and socially awkward I really am, in the hopes that people will find someone more competent to bother. That only works some of the time.)
In the same post, Lifehacker also links to an interview with Danny O'Brien (author of Life Hacks), who has some similar opinions about online life intersecting with (and often consuming) other areas of life.
Researchers at Xerox PARC and Georgia Tech interviewed office workers to find out if they worry about what their co-workers think when accessing their publicly available iTunes streams.
"I just went through (my playlist) and said, 'I wonder what kind of image this is...giving me,'" reported one of the study's subjects. "I just went through it to see if there was stuff that would be...annoying, that I would not like people to know that I had."
Speaking only for myself, I haven't actually deleted anything from my iTunes streams, but I did load up iTunes once when I realized that Dire Straits "Romeo and Juliet" had been listed for nearly a week solid in the "now listening" link just to the right in Datacloud. It wasn't so much that I was embarrassed to let people know I listen to Dire Straits--hey, I'm old--but that someone would think I'd been listening to it for 200 hours solid.
[via CNET News.com]
Comedian Mitch Hedberg apparently died last week of a heart attack. Wikiquote provides some of his legacy in the form of a lot of really, really funny observations.
NYT [free reg req'd] has a brief post (with links to several good resources) on New Games Journalism.
Most reviews of computer games cover only the bells and whistles: how quick was the action, how cool the villains, how original the story line. Over the last year, however, a handful of gaming writers have been bringing a more personal touch to their work, using a narrative, experiential approach that acknowledges the effect of the game on the player. Their young genre even has a name: New Games Journalism, after the New Journalism of the 1960's and 70's.
Here's a bit from Kieron Gillen's article New Games Journalism at always_black:
In the early seventies Tom Wolfe edited a collection of writings from the previous few years entitled “The New Journalism”, which provided exactly that. This journalism was intensely personal, throwing away the rules of standard journalistic discourse like the pretence of objectivity and an embracing of the “I”. We’re talking about people like Capote, Mailer and Hunter S. Thompson. While Games journalism – having nabbed a lot of its tricks from the people who nabbed a lot of tricks from the New Journalism people – uses a sizeable chunk of those already, it hasn’t really thought about how the core of that philosophy really applies to videogames.
No matter what the precise form [traditional games journalism] takes, it works of a single assumption; that the worth of a videogame lies in the videogame, and by examining it like a twitching insect fixed on a slide, we can understand it.
New Games Journalism rejects this, and argues that the worth of a videogame lies not in the game, but in the gamer. What a gamer feels and thinks as this alien construct takes over all their sensory inputs is what’s interesting here, not just the mechanics of how it got there. Games have always been digital hallucinogens – but games journalism has been like chemistry, discussing the binding reactions to brain sites. What I’m suggesting says what it feels like as the chemical kicks in and reality is remixed around you.
UN Studio and Arup Lighting, both based in Amsterdam, teamed up to give Seoul’s Galleria West fashion mall a dazzling, Paco Rabannesque makeover. Concealing a nondescript 1970s concrete building is a layer of 4,330 frosted glass discs, shielding an equal number of LED luminaires. Each disc acts as a giant pixel; the building becomes a vast display screen. With Dutch company Xilver, Rogier van der Heide of Arup developed an RGB LED fixture that improves the color tone of the LEDs.
This would work well for Defender. The vertical height of the building is too shallow for Tetris, but maybe you could make a scrolling, linear version of PacMan.
Interviews with electronic music pioneers Bob Moog, Peter Vogel (Fairlight), and Dave Smith (MIDI) at New Scientist. Here's a bit of Vogel on the Fairlight:
How did you come to invent sampling?
I had this random idea late one night, probably in 1978. I thought that if we took a sample of an instrument and had a look at the harmonics we could get an idea of how to synthesise it. We were already making interesting sounds but we were still a long way from getting it to sound like a real instrument, like a piano or a trumpet. So I hooked an analogue-to-digital converter up to the radio and sampled maybe a second of some piano piece. Then I wondered how it would sound if I played it back without doing anything. So I played it back at different pitches and it sounded remarkably like a piano, a real piano. This had never been done before.
Valenti's either got a great sense of humor, or major chutzpah. Probably both.
[via Boing Boing]
Jeff Veen has some thoughts on method acting as a way of understanding audience/users:
I find my designs are more often inspired by research. I find that the best designs I've created are produced more like writing songs or short stories than conducting an experiment using the scientific method. They just hit me.
This leads me to believe that doing research in web design -- for me at least -- has more to do with Method Acting than ethnography. Robert De Niro used this technique as he prepared for his roll as Travis Bickle in Taxi Driver, spending a month pulling late night shifts as a cab driver. He did this not to mimic those in the profession, but to be able to react on screen in a way that they would. Applied back to design: Rather than figure out how to design for your audience, design for yourself after becoming like your audience. At that point, I find, snap decisions become good decisions.
Chapter 1, in which my email client experiences identity issues.
For those of you on tenterhooks (whatever the hell "tenterhooks" are), you can pre-order Datacloud (the dead tree edition) from Amazon. Datacloud (the weblog) is actually pretty separate from the book, apart from having similar themes, a poor work ethic, and a disdain for the finer points of logic (and those are its positive points).
The book, I should add, also has more big words in it.
Gizmodo posts a link to a DIY (MAKE-sourced) guitar amp you can build using a cigarette pack (empty, I assume). DIY is always cool, but Zinky Electronics has been selling these under the name Smokey Amps for years and years, at only slightly more than it'd cost to make on your own. Underdog bought me one for Christmas several years ago, and even though I've spent a lot more money on amps, this one has the best dollar-to-cool ratio.
The Smokey can power its tiny internal speaker, headphones, or even drive 4, 8 or 16Ω speaker cabinets (up to 4x12s), and can even be used on the input of another amp as a fuzz box. According to Zinky, Smokey users include ZZ Top, Mike Watt, The Supersuckers, Reverend Horton Heat, Bad Religion, Los Lobos, and more. Slightly over $30 plus shipping. You can even send them your own empty cigarette pack to use.
Street Memes tracks guerrilla-art stickers, stencils, or posters, ranks them by popularity, makes connections among related memes, and provides two RSS feeds (one for small thumbnails and one for large). Images are even CC licensed (with a noncommercial, share alike license)
"street meme": a sticker, stencil, or poster that can spread a single image around the world. Unlike traditional graffiti art where each piece is unique, street memes can be copied repeatedly, taking on a life of their own, and spreading through the collective effort of people scattered around the world.
Obey Giant, 5th Ave., NYC
[via Web Zen]
Jeff Tweedy of Wilco, on filesharing:
[Y]you try to encourage people to feel more like a patron of the arts instead of a consumer.
Wilco is always just ahead of the curve. They broke from alt-country before it became a cliche. They deconstructed pop in ways that would make Brian Wilson proud. People acted surprised when they paired up with Sonic Youth for several shows, but it made a lot of sense to me, if you look at the creative arc of the band. They streamed their new albums, and chunks of live shows, over the Web for free. I hope the trend continues, because the concept of "patronage" makes a lot of sense in an era when fans don't have to be simple consumers eating whatever pablum's fed to them, but active and valued participants in helping the band make new music.
 OK, there are still some good alt-country bands. But the genre, like any underground movement that starts to become marketable, is getting clogged with some pretty unoriginal stuff. All of which is probably beside the point, since such categorizations never really had clear demarcations, and most of the early bands that ended up being slotted in that category resented the whole act of being labeled "alt-country."