Found Music and how imeem beats last.fm

January 29, 2009

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For the past few years SXSW has been releasing music samplers with a ton of free MP3s from artists who are going to preform at the festival. I've found a lot of music that I like sifting through the sampler and am going to start posting some of it here. I wanted to find a site that already had the audio clips and would let me embed them in my site. The first site I looked at was last.fm. I've used them a few times in the past to stream music and thought I remembered seeing a way to pull out their player and put it on other sites. When I looked again, all I could see was a way to embed it on facebook, myspace and digg. There was no code you could simply grab and embed on a personal site. Strike One. This struck me as weird so I did a quick search and found some pages that suggested that you had to create an account before you could get code to embed. Strike Two. Don't make me sign up to really get benefit out of your site. I was in the mood to see how it worked anyway so I created an account and added the song I wanted to the Library, hit the "Play your Library" button and got this: last-fm-bs.png What? I have to add 15 artists before I can hear any of the songs I want. Strike Three and by the way, to hell with your site. I'm gone.


Next stop: imeem.com. First thing I see is a nice search box right in front of me on the home page. I put in the artist I want to hear, and see a list of songs from that artist. Click on the one I want to hear and a nice little player pops up and starts the song for me. Check out the bottom of the player and the code for me to embed the song is sitting right there. Sold. The worst part for last.fm is that they actually had a song that I wanted to include that imeem didn't already have in their list. So, they would have won even if I had to jump through some hoops. Seems like a huge miss out of them.


The LHC still won't destroy the world.... Probably.

January 29, 2009

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An article at arxivblog.com discusses how scientists are going over their calculations for the Large Hadron Collider to make sure it isn't going to destroy the planet. Some of them now think that it could tiny create black holes that hang around for a few seconds or minutes. Latest results: the black holes will *probably* decay faster than they grow. Check in with http://hasthelargehadroncolliderdestroyedtheworldyet.com/ to see if the world has been destroyed. (found via Slashdot)


The tease is enough of a trailer

January 29, 2009

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A few weeks ago I saw the 30 second teaser trailer for "Taken". All I really got out of it was:

  • Liam Neeson plays a dad who is some kind of former Secret Agent or Mr. Wolf.
  • His daughter get kidnapped by some bad guys
  • Liam is a stone cold badass and is gonna get medieval all over the kidnapper's asses.

That was it, but it was enough. My interest was piqued. I was ready to spend $10 to see the film in the theater instead of waiting for it to come to NetFlix. Good job marketing team. At least until yesterday, when I caught one of the other "full" trailers. Now, don't get me wrong. The movie still looked like something I'd like to see. The problem is I'm pretty sure I've now seen the entire movie. Or, at least all the key scenes and good parts. Now I definitely won't be seeing it in the theater. The studio spent extra money to turn me off from their film. This is nothing new. As the studios spend increasing amounts of money creating films, pressure to make sure they are hits grows. The marketing guys get the call and put more and more scenes out to try to grow interest to get more butts in seats. I expect that they have run the numbers and their math points to this strategy working. With my focus group of one, I can tell you that it backfires way more often than not.


Another side to this that I wonder about is how directors feel about so much of their films being broadcast before the are even released. If I were in their shoes it would piss me off. After spending a huge amount of time and energy to create a piece of art, I can't imagine any other possible reaction when you see some of the best parts being ripped out, slapped back together in a 3 minute montage and shown completely outside of their original context. Adding insult to injury, there are generally enough visual queues in the trailer so that when watching the film, you know exactly when you about to see the clip from the trailer. Instead of an audience reaction of: "Holy Shit! Did you SEE THAT!" You get: "Oh yeah, this is that cool part from the trailer I've seen thirty times. I wonder where I put my Twizzlers"


I would love to see movie marketing that only did a teaser trailer and then built the rest of the hype without showing any additional scenes. It seems like it would be fairly easy to shoot extra footage during principal filming that is specifically for commercials and marketing. You then get the best of both worlds. More insight into the story without spoiling of the actual film itself. For action films in particular, word of mouth marketing would become much more powerful. Instead of, "Oh, man! There was this awesome scene where he jumped on a helicopter! Here, check it out from the trailer." The last sentence would become "You HAVE to go see it!" Since I don't expect this change, I'll just do my best to avoid trailers for movies I really want to see. (If you have tried this yourself, you know it's much harder than it sounds.)


Congress, please stop worrying about the transition to digital TV

January 28, 2009

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Dear Congress, Now that you have gone through it again and decided not to push back the date for the transition to DTV, please drop the matter. No matter what you do, such a fundamental change is going to cause issues that piss people off. Better to go ahead and get it over with. Plus, you have much more important stuff to be worrying about.


HUGE Photo from the inauguration

January 25, 2009

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David Bergman setup a GigaPan system at the inauguration. Check out the 1,474 Megapixel photo that was created. That's 1,474 not 1.474 like I thought when I first read the description. Zoom on in, and then zoom some more. Update: check out the snapshots on the GigaPan site. Helps to key into the level of detail as it zooms.


Tracking where our tax dollars go with Recovery.gov

January 25, 2009

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Regardless of your political affiliation, it would be hard to make a case against the idea behind Recovery.gov.

SEC. 1226. RECOVERY.GOV. (a) REQUIREMENT TO ESTABLISH WEBSITE.— The Board shall establish and maintain a website on the Internet to be named Recovery.gov, to foster greater accountability and transparency in the use of funds made available in this Act.

You can read a little more about it at OpenCongress.org.


Just putting the data out there is one thing, but they also have the following mandate: "The website shall provide data on relevant economic, financial, grant, and contract information in user-friendly visual presentations to enhance public awareness of the use funds made available in this Act." This will be tremendously helpful if done well. Hearing about spending ones, tens and hundreds of millions, billions and trillions of dollars is tough to digest without context. Those amounts always seem like a lot (and rightly so), but when they are covered in the media it tends to be an abstract number. A reference point or a comparison can lead to surprising realizations about how some of the amounts compare. One of the best examples of this I've seen is the Death and Taxes maps. (That one is from 2004.) The Recovery.gov web site is based around the bail out money. I hope that it is expanded to cover all our Tax spending. I, for one, would like to have a better grasp on where my tax dollars are going.


Vatican channel on YouTube

January 24, 2009

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youtube-logo.gif This is one of those things that seems weird even though it probably shouldn't. Yesterday, Google announced that the Vatican now has a dedicated YouTube channel.


Video How To and DIY

January 24, 2009

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play-button.gif Continuing on the video theme, another place where video really fits the bill is the How To and DIY instruction world. Sites like Instructables offer a lot of content, but most of it is textual in nature. This is great for some forms of instruction, but in most cases a video would be better. Dummies.com has a video instruction section up on their site with various offerings. These short little pieces on highly specific subjects are right in the sweet spot of the internet's communication medium. For example, if you are looking to hang photos this 2 1/2 minute video give you all the basic info you need. Finding what you are looking for is hit or miss. Sticking with the photo hanging, performing a Google search for "how to hang photos" returns this page on diynetwork.com as the first result. There are a dozen bullet points that cover basics of hanging as well secondary advice like, "don't overload a small wall with a large picture." The original video provides the core info in a much quicker and easier to digest fashion and there is no doubt it's easier to learn something by watching it being done than by reading a description. As with the product demos mentioned earlier, expect to see more and more of these types of videos in the future.


Note: While doing the searches for this post, I came across eHow.com which is a text instruction site, and Expert Village which is a very interesting looking video instruction site that currently reports having 131,537 Total Videos. Knowledge transfer has always been one of the internet's strong suits. As increasing amounts of video instruction are created, we will be able to learn more and more things that on our own that required personal instruction in the past. For someone with a Jack-of-All-Trades mentality, this is very exciting.


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