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Will Google’s new music app really be all that?
10.22.2009
10:18 pm
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The tech blogs have been abuzz for the last few days about Google’s new music service, which apparently will be powered by LaLa. The service is due to be officially announced on Oct. 18th at an event in Hollywood. So far the media has been mostly uncritical although it’s difficult to see why.

LaLa? Really? How underwhelming.

With Spotify, the peer-to-peer streaming service currently available in Spain, the UK, France, Sweden, Norway and Finland, and reportedly launching in the U.S. before the end of the year, the likely question in the minds of many tech watchers is “Why didn’t Google just buy Spotify?” Spotify is the gold standard of music apps. Picture iTunes—the user interface is very, very similar—except that it’s free and streaming, you need only listen to a 15- to 30-second commercial once every half-hour. There is also a pay variant of the service with no commercial interruptions and improved sound quality, although the free version will certainly suffice for most listeners.

Spotify, in a word, is awesome. Many Spotify users are reportedly even giving up illegal music downloads as a result of using the service. I set up a Spotify account via a UK proxy server earlier this year and was quite impressed at the streaming audio quality, ease of use and the absolutely massive song library. When their server finally detected I was outside of their operating countries after two blissful weeks and cut me off cold turkey, I wanted to cry. Does it have everything? Well, Spotify does lack the Beatles, Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin, but for the most part it’s pretty hard to stump, as even the most obscure performers are usually pretty well represented in its library.

LaLa on the other hand, has simply not become all that popular with the public and the catalog isn’t that deep. Just because a LaLa result comes up in a Google search hardly seems like a recipe for success. Like Rhapsody, Pandora and Last.fm and the other streaming services, LaLa never really caught on with consumers in a big way. Sure the Google deal (Facebook, iLike and MySpace are reportedly along for the ride in some capacity too) won’t hurt the company, but it’s difficult to fathom why Google didn’t look into partnering the superior service, especially if the company will be competing against Spotify in the U.S. market within a matter of months anyway and with Microsoft set to launch what has been whispered of as their “Spotify killer” as well.

Among the mostly neutral chatter, snarky UK tech blog The Register had this to say:

Hyped overnight as a Google ‘Music Service’, what we see instead is set to be the most underwhelming launch in a long history of label-backed music flops. It’s barely a ‘service’ - merely a sorry widget that yokes a DRM-crippled version of LaLa’s already unpopular streaming offering with unsold Adwords inventory.

Instead of a text ad, a search for a music related keyword will show a widget. This allows you to listen to the song, according to Business Week - but only once. After that you pay to hear the stream at 10c a play. (You can also buy the song.)

Don’t all rush at once.

Cross posting this at Brand X

Image from Techcrunch

Posted by Richard Metzger
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10.22.2009
10:18 pm
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Skid Row Chic: Homeless-Inspired Bedding
10.22.2009
05:36 pm
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DutchByDesign presents the 144-thread-count Home Duvet Cover King:

The Home Duvet lets you sleep under a cardboard box so a homeless person doesn’t have to!  This high quality duvet cover features a photographic print of a cardboard box. This produces an extremely sharp image that stays flexible because the ink is printed directly in the cotton. The image will stay crisp after frequent washing.  The duvet cover is produced in Pakistan and child labour is not used.

Indignation levels starting to rise?  Consider this: 30% of the gross profits go to Centrepoint, the UK charity for homeless young people.  The Duvet Cover King is currently on back-order, but, later this month, DBD plans to release a second print that looks like pavement.

(via Shelterpop, via HuffPo)

Posted by Bradley Novicoff
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10.22.2009
05:36 pm
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Sarah Palin’s Going “Rouge”
10.22.2009
02:50 pm
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This brings back memories of National Lampoon’s Bored Of The Rings!

Editors from the progressive magazine The Nation are pulling together a book to be released the same day as Sarah Palin?

Posted by Bradley Novicoff
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10.22.2009
02:50 pm
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The Russian Virtual Mars Experiment: Sign Up Now!
10.22.2009
01:05 pm
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Attention: Dangerous Mind readers in Europe.  Need a new “Plan B?”  Sure, all the cool kids are lighting out for Berlin or Costa Rica, but why not try Mars (by way of Russia)?

Starting in 2010, an international crew of six will simulate a 520-day round-trip to Mars.  In reality, they will live and work in a sealed facility in Moscow, Russia, to investigate the psychological and medical aspects of a long-duration space mission.  ESA is looking for European volunteers to take part.

The participants are subjects in scientific investigations to assess the effect that isolation has on various psychological and physiological aspects, such as stress, hormone regulation and immunity, sleep quality, mood and the effectiveness of dietary supplements.  The crew will follow a program designed to simulate a 250-day journey to Mars, a 30-day surface exploration phase and 240 days traveling back to Earth.  For the ?

Posted by Bradley Novicoff
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10.22.2009
01:05 pm
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All Tomorrow’s Parties: The Film
10.22.2009
11:33 am
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Um, WOW! This looks like a lot of fun! Creative Review says:

After premiering in Edinburgh earlier this year, the film of the best alternative music festival in the world tours the UK from this week; opening in Manchester on Friday and then taking in Glasgow, London, Leeds, Brighton and Bristol…

All Tomorrow’s Parties: The Film is a special piece of cinema. It’s been compiled from hundreds of video clips of the various artists that have performed during ATP festivals at the out-of-season Pontins holiday camp in Minehead, sent in by fans and then shaped into a film by director Jonathan Caouette.

The film brilliantly captures the experience of actually being at the festival ?

Posted by Tara McGinley
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10.22.2009
11:33 am
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Lancelot Link: Secret Chimp
10.21.2009
11:49 pm
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My favorite Saturday morning show when I was four was Lancelot Link: Secret Chimp. It was like Austin Powers with monkeys and I just loved it (having the finely developed sense of camp that I did at the time!). I went as Lancelot Link for Halloween and I also carried a metal Lancelot Link lunchbox and thermos to school for a year. Soon I would graduate to another simian obsession in Planet of the Apes, but until the first grade ended at least, I was Lancelot Link’s biggest fan.
 

 
Lancelot Link and his wife Marta Hairi (“How do you want your eggs, Lancelot?” and “Oh Lancie!” were her famous lines) are secret agents of APE, the Agency to Prevent Evil. Link’s arch nemesis, Baron von Butcher (Bernie Kopell, who played “Doc” on The Love Boat did his voice) is the evil kingpin of CHUMP, the Criminal Headquarters for Underworld Master Plan. In every episode the Baron would come up with a new plan to rule the world and Lancelot Link would outsmart him. Other villains included Wang Fu, the Duchess, Ali AssaSeen, Dr. Strangemind and von Butcher’s chauffeur, Creto. The dialogue was a lot like Get Smart! which should come as no surprise since two of the three producers were writers on that series. For a kid’s show, it had sharp writing,
 
There was also a musical number in each episode where Ed Simian (an Ed Sullivan parody, of course) introduced Lance’s psychedelic rock group, The Evolution Revolution. The backing musicians for these tracks were the same musicians recording in the same studio and often working with the same songwriters as the Grassroots. They sound almost exactly alike, which is to say, great!
 

Posted by Richard Metzger
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10.21.2009
11:49 pm
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Surfing The Internet Makes You Smarter… Really!
10.21.2009
08:57 pm
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It turns out that surfing the Internet is actually good for you! A new study released by UCLA indicates that cognitive functions improve, even for seniors, after a little as a single week of surfing the Internet, giving credence to the old adage, “Use it or lose it.” Amanda Gardner writes on Health Day News:

“You can teach an old brain new technology tricks,” said Dr. Gary Small, a psychiatry professor at the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior at the University of California, Los Angeles, and the author of iBrain. With people who had little Internet experience, “we found that after just a week of practice, there was a much greater extent of activity particularly in the areas of the brain that make decisions, the thinking brain—which makes sense because, when you’re searching online, you’re making a lot of decisions,” he said. “It’s interactive.”

   —snip—

For the research, 24 neurologically normal adults, aged 55 to 78, were asked to surf the Internet while hooked up to an MRI machine. Before the study began, half the participants had used the Internet daily, and the other half had little experience with it.

After an initial MRI scan, the participants were instructed to do Internet searches for an hour on each of seven days in the next two weeks. They then returned to the clinic for more brain scans. “At baseline, those with prior Internet experience showed a much greater extent of brain activation,” Small said.

So forget all these studies that say the Internet is turning us all into attention-deficit info-snackers who skim rather than read. When you surf the Web, you’re not wasting time, you’re exercising your brain!

No word yet on what online gambling, porn and EBay addictions do for cognitive functioning.

Cross posting this at Brand X

Posted by Richard Metzger
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10.21.2009
08:57 pm
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Kabul’s Big Brotherization
10.21.2009
03:55 pm
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“The suspect is followed from camera to camera, from every angle of view—until they’re identified as a threat or not.”  Spotted over at Wired’s Danger Room, the shape of the Afghanistan to come:

Surveillance cameras have a pretty lousy track record of fighting terrorism and crime, here in the West.  But that hasn?

Posted by Bradley Novicoff
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10.21.2009
03:55 pm
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A First Look At William S. Burroughs: A Man Within
10.21.2009
03:06 pm
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It’s too bad all trailers can’t all start out with Burroughs’ soothing drone, “Death smells.  I mean, death has a special smell, over and above the smell of cyanide, cordite, blood, carrion of burnt flesh.”  The website for William S. Burroughs: A Man Within suggests that the film’s currently in post-production, and

features never before seen footage of William S. Burroughs, as well as exclusive interviews with his closest friends and colleagues including John Waters, Genesis P-Orridge, Laurie Anderson, Peter Weller, David Cronenberg, Iggy Pop, Gus Van Sant, Sonic Youth, Anne Waldman, George Condo, Hal Willner, James Grauerholz, Amiri Baraka, Jello Biafra, V. Vale, David Ohle, Wayne Propst, Dr. William Ayers, Diane DiPrima, Donovan, Dean Ripa (the world?

Posted by Bradley Novicoff
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10.21.2009
03:06 pm
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Michael Graczyk: Witness For The Executions
10.21.2009
02:47 pm
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Engrossing story in today’s New York Times that’s as moving as it is revealing.  Michael Graczyk, an AP reporter on the death row beat in, of course, Texas has covered, since the ‘80s, every single execution the state has carried out.  That seems creepy enough, but, in this age of media downsizing, Graczyk has become the only person at these events “who doesn?

Posted by Bradley Novicoff
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10.21.2009
02:47 pm
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