October 18, 2007

  • Thoughts on In Rainbows

    It takes me a while to get into a new album, especially one with as much hype as the new Radiohead album.  Now that the dust is settling, I have to say, I absolutely love this album! 

    There is not a dull track on this album.  It strikes me as a balance between the band’s rock roots and their newer electronic direction (though who are we kidding, its not so new anymore).  Thom Yorke’s soaring voice is more prominent than in previous albums. 

    Radiohead has been adamant about selling their music as albums only, no singles.  In Rainbows is a perfect defense of this.  The quick opening of 15 Step and Bodysnatchers stands in sharp contrast to the gloom of the closing Videotape.  And I doubt any other ordering of the tracks in between would leave me as emotionally moved.

    Its hard to play favorites with albums from Radiohead, but I’m glad that seven albums later, they continue to evolve.

  • Words Left Unsaid

    I spotted The Hold Steady‘s Tad Kubler and Hamilton Leithauser from The Walkmen hanging out at Hi-Fi tonight.  I had it in my head that if they were still around when we were leaving, I’d go up and talk to them.  Sadly they weren’t.  But to capture the moment in time, here’s what I’d like to have said to them:

    When I first moved to New York City, The Hold Steady and The Walkmen were my soundtrack to the city.  Now I’m 30, but I can’t help but be a little star struck to see you guys here.

    Rock on!

    Air guitar outro out the door.

October 4, 2007

  • Sigur Ros – Heima

    I’m in love with this video.  The scenery and music work beautifully in tandem.  Sigur Ros’ lead singer puts it in context:

    “We just had been traveling for a long time, around the world, and we wanted to come here and just play for Iceland”

    The video is a preview for Sigur Ros new film Heima.  Its screening in NYC on Saturday as part of the New Yorker Festival, along with an acoustic performance from the band (of course, its sold out).

    The song from the video is “Hoppipolla”, and I’ve had it on repeat all day.

    And Iceland looks breathtaking; I’d like to visit someday!

October 3, 2007

  • Using Delicious to Manage Lists

    I’m a big fan of social bookmarking sites.  After playing around with a few, I finally settled on Delicious; its simple interface and tagging options make it easy to use but powerful.

    But what surprises me is how effective Delicious is for capturing other types of lists beyond bookmarks.  Here are a few examples:

    1. Storing articles to read later using Readeroo – This simple Firefox plugin I wrote helps manage the flow of articles using the “toread” tag in Delicious.
    2. Storing books I’d like to read – I’ll save the Amazon link to a book and tag it with “booktoread”.  I can then add other tags to partition the books by subject or genre.
    3. Storing music I’d like to listen to – Same concept as the list above, except for music, tagged with “musictoget”.  I also add the “rhapsody” tag to indicate whether I can listen to the album on Rhapsody.

    The same method can be expanded to all sorts of lists, such as movies you want to see or a wishlist for Christmas.  Any bit of info that’s tied to a url open to be managed by Delicious, just pick a consistent tag and stick with it. 

    Personally, this is a revelation, since it allows me to centralize all those random lists scattered in text files and Access (yes, Access!).  This is a crucial piece of moving my life online.

    I realize that tagging is nothing new, and none of this is revolutionary.  But I find it interesting that such a simple concept can be “overloaded” to represent different types of data within the same system.  In this case the tags go beyond mere categorization to build a personal “Database of Intentions“.

September 27, 2007

  • Amazon’s New MP3 Store

    I finally got to play around with Amazon’s new MP3 store today.  Hypebot has a roundup of posts about it; I especially like Daring Fireball’s take on the whole thing.

    From a fan’s perspective, I absolutely love this store!  My purchases so far:

    Here are a few thoughts on it:

    • Its a liberating and welcome feeling to browse digital music that’s free from DRM.  I’m glad the environment is finally right for something like this from someone like Amazon.
    • Amazon’s 1-click purchasing process makes it too easy to buy music.  This is gonna be very addictive!  I mean, even if I knew how to pirate music (which I don’t), when its this easy, why would I?
    • Gift certificate balance is not applied toward your MP3 store purchase.  That sucks.
    • Installing a downloader is never ideal.  It requires a user install, and only works on certain platforms.  But the installer is small (like 500kb) and the downloads are smooth.
    • A lot has been made about how Sony and Warner have yet to offer their catalogs.  But honestly, for the music I listen to, I didn’t notice.  Amazon is very well stocked with Indie titles.
    • Where is Sub Pop?  That means no Go Team, no Iron & Wine, no Flight of the Conchords, all of whom had new albums recently.  Other big Indies like Matador and Merge are on there.  This was an issue with Rhapsody in the early days, but over time they were able to build out their catalog, and I imagine it will be the same process for Amazon.
    • Most of the Indie stuff is priced at 89 cents ($8.99/album) and below.  Remember the days of Sam Goody?  That’s like half of what CDs in tall cardboard packaging used to cost.
    • This skew towards Indie is reflected in the download charts, where bands like The New Pornographers, M.I.A., and Spoon are all in the top 20.
    • Speaking of top downloads, Feist is #1 in both the album and single categories (and #35 on the Billboard charts).  That iPod commericial was huge for her!
    • The search results interface is ugly.  It makes sense once you orient yourself to it: artists at the top, singles underneath that, albums on the right.  Still, there’s room for improvement.
    • Tracks are previewed through the browser, so you can’t navigate away from the page while previewing an album.  This hinders the browsing experience since the stream stops when you navigate away.  Amazon’s strength has always been the ability to circulate users across the site to discover new stuff.  It’d be nice to have some sort of popup preview player that you could queue tracks to as you visit other areas.
    • A lot has been said about EMusic in the context of this new Amazon store.  I was always hesitant to join EMusic because I couldn’t justify a subscription service with a monthly download cap.  Today Amazon made me realize I can easily download more than $10 worth of music in a month (I just spent $27 in an hour)!  I guess that makes the case for EMusic even stronger, huh?
    • I am big fan of Other Music’s MP3 store, so it’ll be interesting to see where my loyalties go.  Amazon has them beat right now (I ran into some issues with Other Music’s downloader), but Other Music may have some niche stuff not available on Amazon.  Other Music also serves up 320kbps files versus Amazon’s 256kbps, if thats important to you.
    • But Monsur, don’t you love Rhapsody?  Why yes, yes I do.  DRM-free files are great and all, but I’d still rather pay the $10 a month for a subscription service like Rhapsody.  The real benefit to owning MP3 files is that they’ll play anywhere.  And that’s my biggest gripe with Rhapsody: it doesn’t work in 64-bit Vista, it doesn’t work in Ubuntu, it doesn’t integrate with Windows Media Center, and it sometimes doesn’t work through the browser.

September 17, 2007

August 16, 2007

  • I have been assimilated!

    I’ve noticed AOL IM taking up way too much memory on my system, so I
    decided to give Meebo a
    try.  At first it felt weird for something as fundamental as
    IM to move into the browser.  There was a lot that I missed,
    like having the prominent blinking taskbar whenever a new message

    But after a few days I must say I really
    enjoy Meebo!  I realize now what a non-issue the blinking
    windows thing is.  I much prefer the more subtle “changing
    browser title” that Meebo uses.  Its less disruptive than a
    flashing window, which allows me to respond to IMs on my own
    time.  To promote Meebo in my taskbar, I use
    IE7 exclusively for Meebo and keep my normal web browsing to

    Moving my life into the browser has been a general trend lately.  I already blogged
    about InstaCalc
    , and I recently dumped my desktop regex
    checker for RegexPal.  Although
    I’m a bit wary of giving my financial info to a third-party, I think
    I’m ready to try Wesabe when I do bills this

    My Windows laptop died over the weekend; I’m
    currently on the Ubuntu
    , and frankly, with so much of my life online, I don’t
    miss much!

July 18, 2007

  • Plastic Bags: Beautiful but Deadly

    This fascinating New York Times article taught me more about plastic bags than I ever thought I’d know!  I’ve learned:

    • Anya Hindmarch is hot stuff
    • A stampede of would-be purchasers in Taiwan in June sent 30 people to the hospital and required the riot police. (for a $15 cotton bag)
    • Some bag-seekers who withstood a stampede in Hong Kong (but went away empty-handed) plan to fly to New York to try again.
    • San Francisco is the first American city to ban the nonbiodegradable bags.
    • Other countries are way ahead of us in addressing plastic bag concerns. 
    • I’m such an ignorant American

July 17, 2007

  • Pitchfork Music Festival

    The Pitchfork Music Festival was in Chicago this weekend, and by all accounts it sounded awesome!  In only its 3rd year, this festival sets the standard for what an outdoor, multi-day festival experience should be.  Pitchfork just posted its coverage of the show, and I thought it’d be fun to see what Xanga users are saying!  Here’s a round up of a few Xanga users with thoughts on the show:

July 13, 2007

  • I *heart* NY

    Anil Dash is running a series of excellent posts about visiting New York.  To his list I would add: New York City never ceases to surprise you.  Toss aside the map, walk around, and let the city reveal herself to you. 

    I thought this on my way to lunch today, as I watched an undercover cop cuff some dude right in front of me. 

    Last night on the way home we got sidetracked for a half and hour by some amazing musicians at Washington Square Park; their verision of Live and Let Die sent chills down my spine.

    Last week we had to run simple errands to the grocery store and the post office, but ended up stumbling upon a street fair, and then another street fair.  A simple errand turned into three hour food fest with a trip to the Apple Store to play with the iPhone.

    In the past year they’ve filmed Anthony Bourdain, I Am Legend and The Bourne Ultimatum all around our office. 

    There are a zillion free shows and events happening around New York City this summer, and yet its those random, crazy, spontaneous moments which I’ve enjoyed the most.