music

Highlights from #EDCLV

Despite being exhausted after returning from EDC Las Vegas I stayed up all night to compile a video of some of the highlight moments of the show. It was just such an energizing and mesmerizing experience and that energy carried over into my determination to keep the experience alive a few hours longer by reliving it through the photos and video. Of course, the recorded version is nothing compared to the feeling of being there, but I hope it gives you a hint.

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Product Review: Motorola S-305 Bluetooth Headphones

A third person asked me today what these headphones are that I wear all day at the office – either on my ears or loosely around my neck – so I thought it made sense to share them with everyone. They are Motorola S305’s and they are awesome. Why they are so great:

  • iPhone compatibility is great, including with non-native apps like Spotify.
  • They are pretty sturdy – mine have been rained on quite a bit, been smashed into my bag, and still perform flawlessly.
  • They are loud enough that you can drown out other sounds, but you can still hear through them well enough that it’s safe to walk around and cross the street and whatnot.
  • Batteries seem to easily last a couple full work days, although I charge mine every night along with everything else.
  • They use a pretty-standard micro-USB charging plug.
  • Although not great in a noisy place as the mic is way up on your ear, they double as pretty good headset, and switch back and forth seamlessly.
  • Comfortable, and very, very light. I like behind-the-head styles a lot because I can drop them around my neck and still hear ambient phone noises in relative privacy. And because they don’t mess up my hair (huge downside of traditional headphones).

For the price (under $40) they are really excellent. I hope Motorola makes them forever… although mine may last that long anyway.

Visit the Doctor, Free!

You have until 6pm today to get your free 20oz Dr. Pepper in one of the weirdest promotions I can think of. Apparently the Doc himself is a huge fan of Guns N’ Roses (go fig). I’m not sure if it was meant to motivate the band to finally finish their latest album, get fans excited about the release early, or just milk that GNR fame to push a little sugarwater, but the Dr. Pepper folks promised a free 20oz bottle for everyone in America when the latest GNR album, “Chinese Democracy”, finally hit the shelves. Is that the most illogical-yet-fantastic product tie-in ever, or what?

That was back in March, and the album is burned, boxed and stamped, headed to record stores everywhere for a sunday release, so click here to get your prescription straight from the Doctor!

Thanks to Bargainist for the word.

Finetune Friday

I’m taking my first crack at Jon’s Finetune Friday, although I’m already half a day late as it’s nearly noon. His theme this time is the vintage 80’s Mr Men series – I picked “Mr Snow”.

My intention was to handpick hundreds of tracks with the appropriate bpm and the perfect balance of hard beats and motivating vocals to blend into the soundtrack of an ultimate downhill skiing (or snowboarding – I’m not judging anyone) powder day experience. Instead, due to time constraints, I basically pulled the 50 most-played songs off my iPod Shuffle (my defacto ski buddy) and, well, there you go. May it motivate you to huck those jumps, grind those rails and bomb those cliffs like never before… despite that it’s July and it was 84 here yesterday. 😉

mrsnow.jpg

Apple iTunes goes DRM-free

Big news in the digital music world today, as Steve Jobs announced Apple is taking the first steps to a more open digital music industry. The entire EMI music catalog will be available on iTunes starting May 1 with no DRM – that means no burning, backing up or any other restrictions on the downloaded tracks. They’ll also be higher quality – 256k vs 128k AAC’s – as well as higher in price – $1.29 US vs $0.99.

Several things are great about this:

  • (1) Online music purchases finally give you the same rights as a consumer you’ve been enjoying with CD’s for years: make a copy for your car, take some tracks to work, use any player you want, and yes, make a mix for a friend. As the AAC format (when not locked by iTunes) is open-source and fairly universal, the only limits to where you can take your music are technological, not ideological, and as we all know the technological limits get wider every day.
  • (2) There’s an upgrade option for people with existing iTunes collections: pay the $0.30 difference and get the track in 256k, DRM-free. A less-consumer-oriented company would have asked you to repurchase tracks in the new format at full value (I’m looking at you, Sony) but that’s not how Steve Jobs rolls.
  • (3) Full albums in the new high-quality, no-restrictions format will be the same price as the album was before. Music companies are desperately trying to save the full-album-purchase idea in the face of single-track ala carte shopping, and those of us who still buy whole albums will benefit from that desperation.
  • (4) This will first put the pressure on the rest of Apple’s music company providers to follow suit. Then, it will put the pressure on other online sellers to jump on the bandwagon in the name of consumer choice (and, arguably, higher margins on track sales).

So, hang on to that iTunes gift certificate a little longer… or buy the tracks you’ve been wanting now and upgrade (and unlock) them in a month. Either way, chalk up one victory for the consumer, and one for Steve Jobs and Apple.

Merry Christmas, from Home Depot

I’ve been putting a lot of miles on my feet this week, and feeling very healthy doing it. In a stroke of genius timing, i’ve chosen the coldest week so far all year during which to make my attempt at a more european/manhattan lifestyle, and i keep running into obstacles – like where are all the delis and street vendors? What are all these people eating? Also, our public transit really is awful, and that’s not just my bitterness about the monorail talking. Without the bus tunnel’s modicum of sanity, moving around downtown is hideous and not worth the trouble, even when the alternative is trudging through the wind and drizzle. And has Seattle always been so full of hills?

Part of all this footwork has been trips up and down the hill to harborview, visiting my friend John. He was in a motorcycle accident (vs. a car) on wednesday, but i didn’t hear until i returned to work monday. I’ve been making a visit or two every day, and a good deal of my idle thoughts during the day involve racking my brain for things i can do that would be of help to either him, or his mother Jill, who i’ve been spending equally as much time with this week – and who officially adopted me as her fourth child this morning. 🙂 He was in rough shape – broken bones up the left side, internal organ damage, concussion – but is recovering well already. He had regained his dexterity in at least one hand yesterday, so i’ve got a stack of car, ski and computer magazines in my bag today if he feels up for that. I’m waiting for the green light from Leslie the cute nursing student before i make a trip to starbucks for him.

In an effort to fortify my holiday cheer against all that’s wrong in the world – bright, 21-year-old guys getting struck down in intersections; exciting job offers that find every excuse to be delayed – i spent last nite listening to House Arrest and erecting my green plastic expression of seasonal joy and showering it with glitz and baubles. decorated christmas tree Somehow – i’m blaming the grinch – my tree’s stand disappeared since last year, so i took Danielle’s suggestion monday and fashioned a sturdy replacement out of some pvc pipe, a terra cotta pot and quick-set concrete. My tree is much less tippy and significantly more pet-proof now, so if i had any pets that would be really good news. Unlike rabbits, door dings and credit card offers which seem to multiply when you’re not looking, my tinsel seems to dwindle with each passing year and looking at that picture i’m thinking this may be the year i need to adopt some more. I started some shopping before tgiving so there are even a few wrapped gifts under there, and the whole thing looks very festive, despite the scantily-draped silver garland.

From the snippet of tv news i caught in the waiting room yesterday, all this icy gloom in the city has been translating into winter wonderland in the mountains, and if it continues i might have a chance to make use of that ski pass very soon, which would give me one more reason to be “decking the halls” this week.

It takes a lot of iPod to get thru the day

I’m really not trying to gripe. I’m not an ingrate; i appreciate this new job, the promotion, the better working environment… the business cards that arrived today, reading “Associate Software Engineer” (very excited about those, btw). But it’s tuesday of week three and i’m still completely useless, and it’s getting frustrating. It’s not just that i’m supposed to be testing things i don’t understand. It’s that i’m supposed to be designing tests for things i don’t understand, using tools i’ve never used – or sometimes even heard of – and that the (relatively few) people i have as resources sit as far away from me as is possible without an elevator ride. How can i attempt to break something if i don’t know what it’s supposed to do when it’s working, i ask you? Furthermore, how can i design an *automated script* to perform the aforementioned breaking in large quantity at high speed? Oh, and i can’t run our product on my own machine, cause apparently our product requires at least 2.5G of RAM and my desktop contains a 1GB pittance, which means i’m left trying to use a shared test lab environment, of which there are only a handful. Meaning they’re constantly in use by someone or something, via some secret verbal-only schedule that everyone but me seems to know (“of course you can’t use it right now! the [meaningless acronym] process is running!”). Also, it means i have to set the whole bloody thing up each time for whatever it is i’m trying to test, after whoever had it last screwed it all up for their own purposes, something which i’m lucky to get right once in 250 times, much less on an hourly, recurring basis.

It took me two hours to write that last paragraph, cause right in the middle of it a coworker roused me from my headphone-induced solitude. “why aren’t you at the meeting that started 10 mins ago that everyone’s supposed to be at?” Cause i didn’t know about it, smarty. Maybe if there weren’t still two of me in outlook, one that receives email you send me and one that does not, thanks to the genius internal transfer process, i would have known about it? Ya think?

Anyway, i forget where i was going here.. Oh, yes… how happy i am that my iPod is working again. And how disproportionately often i listen to the ‘long day’ playlist, compared to how rarely the ‘getting things done’, ‘hyper-productivity’ and ‘good mood for no reason’ playlists find their way to the D/A converter and down the white headphone wires. I’m just glad it works, that’s all i’m saying. It’s keeping me sane.

For those out there also using their favorite white music machine to steer themselves away from the looney bin, i’ve found some nuggets that you and your therapist might approve of. Download some totally free and DRM-less Bossanova tracks from Brazil. This guy runs Sabadabada for the purpose of digitizing and sharing his LP collection of vintage Brazilian tunage, and many selections from his constantly-rotating offering have found their way into my “must keep brain from melting” mood music.

For such large quantities of free music that you could even choke a luxo-chic 60GB iPod, check out this post on Tofu Hut that compiles gazillions of music blogs, artists that offer their own content for DL, and Pod-able free radio stations. Go nuts.

If you’re absolutely teetering on the edge between functioning member of human society and sociopathic office drone turned serial bludgeoner and soothing beats are not enough to quell your inner Mr. Hyde, turn to the wise words of some of the better (or in some cases, just famous) messengers from american history, as downloadable mp3’s. Sometimes only M. L. King Jr. himself can speak to the beast inside, and if it’s one of those days you can once again turn to your trusty iPod for snippets of audio sanity. On non-homicidal days, these tracks double as ammunition for a disparaging sneer at your cube-neighbor’s heavy Ashlee Simpson rotation.

I know what you’re thinking. Some days there is nothing left to do but disenchantedly battle the freeway home in silence, crawl sullenly into your dimly-lit apartment and imbibe your way to forgetfullness via the good liquor that you hide from your guests. Lest you traverse your downward spiral away from contributing citizen of earth alone, $10 for 900 mixed drink recipes will grant you a scroll-wheel-bearing sidekick for the duration of your journey from happy office drone to jaded, drunken misanthrope. Also great for impressing dinner party guests with your latest spiffy blended concoctions, whilst they mingle in your dimly-lit apartment admiring (and secretly coveting) the diverse collection of brazilian bossanova percolating from your dapper white plastic friend.

Cut out the middleman

Some funny guy prank called the RIAA – cause they SO deserve it – and even made up a little song about the experience, which i highly recommend you download and share all over the place over the internet for free. Now go see a live band and give them your money directly, they actually deserve it.

Showbox night out

It’s just a little after midnight and i’m getting home – two late nites in a row – no wonder i’ve needed so much coffee at work! No regrets, tho, as i was busy enjoying myself! Matt convinced me a few weeks ago to buy a ticket to a punk concert at the Showbox. I decided i could afford it (you’re only young once, right?) and I actually ended up finding a good deal on the newest disc from the headlining band, The Ataris, and have been enjoying it for the past few weeks.

Standing in line on the sidewalk before the show, i was beginning to wonder if i wanted to be there. I was tired after working all day, it was a bit cold and rainy standing out there, and i didn’t seem to have the energy that all high-school kids bouncing around the sidewalk did. A guy was walking up and down the line looking for extra tickets he could buy, and at one point he came by offering $40 for a ticket. Now, if you’ve looked at the pic of my ticket you’ll see i only paid 15… well, $16.50 with handling fee. I had already told myself if somone offered me 50 i would take it and go home and listen to the cd again. I almost took the 40. But i stuck it out, and Matt and Michelle showed up, and we made our way in and retreated to the bar to avoid the throngs of teenagers.

The first band was excellent, Yellowcard, a great punk gang with a ska-like twist in their violin player. Freakishly energetic and a very fun group, their new cd comes out in july, i’m going to be watching for it. The second act’s name was lost on me, as was their performance. They just hopped around and screamed a lot randomly. Not that i’m inherently against a yelling vocal style – Linkin Park – one of my favorite bands – comes to mind as a counterexample. These guys just weren’t together and the beat kept getting lost in the shuffle (and the screaming). Judging by their subdued mingling the crowd seemed to agree with me. The third group, The Juliana Theory, is what the second act aspired to be: screamers with rhythm. They were much more organized and a tighter group. Some great harmonies from the Bo Duke (as in: of Hazzard) lookalike, too.

After a substantial delay and a small amount of showmanship, the Ataris finally took the stage and made all the waiting outside worth it. A dynamic, intense performance combined with music that is already so emotion-charged truly brought the evening to a climax, and they artfully took advantage of that to truly treat the crowd. A four-song encore finished their set, including one feature performance from Tom Wisniewski of Mxpx on guitar and a solo cut of ‘My Reply’ from lead Kris Roe. They’re such a killer band, and with meaningful lyrics to back up their musical talent. It was a great show and i’m very glad i made it (thanx, Matt, for making me go!). I’ll definitely be watching for the Ataris next move here and shopping for Yellow Card’s new disc this summer!

Well, time to sleep for a few hours and then get up and go to work tomorrow. Such is my life! And i love it!