25.2.09

'Song' vs. 'Album'

I've noticed a trend in music: most people write songs that stand on their own.  An 'album' is just a collection of these songs on a CD that the artist thought good. 

This is one of the big differences between 'modern' music and 'old' music.  On many 'old' albums, certain songs just don't make sense unless they're heard in context.  Take, for example, Pink Floyd's Eclipse.  That song sounds ok-ish played by itself.  But when you play Dark Side of the Moon, it fits perfectly.  It's part of a story.  It used to be that an album was a story.  Now, it's not so much that way. 

Same way with jam bands--there are times when you have to hear three, four, five songs in a row to hear the story that the music is telling.  Each song may sound good, but when you play them connected together, there's something bigger than each song. 

I'm wondering what's changed that casued that.  I've got a couple of theories:

1) Radio hits: make one song that's a radio hit.  Ignore the album
2) iTunes: no longer do you have to buy the whole album.  Just pick your songs.
3) Could it be related to why songs are now about three minutes a piece?  Whereas a lot of 'old' songs are around 6-10.

What are your thoughts?

23.2.09

The #1 reason to use Firefox

It's not Internet Explorer.

This is also the #1 reason to use Safari, Opera, or Chrome. 

Why not use IE?  It's not standards compliant.  At all.  I've been doing some work on my personal webpage, and I'd be done with the layout by now if IE didn't exist.  When 3 out of 4 rendering engines render a page the same way, chances are the fourth one is doing something wrong. 

I don't really care if you use Firefox or Safari or Chrome or even Opera.  They're all trying to be standards compliant.  And doing a good job. 

What I care about is that you aren't using IE.  Because every person not using IE is another person that web developers don't have to worry about when they're sticking hacks into their CSS to get IE to render it right.  If you just switch from IE to something else, you'll be part of making a difference. 

The point being: do eveything you can to lessen IE's share of the browser market.  I'm waiting patiently for the day when the biggest question about my new website look is, "How bad does it look in IE?"

19.2.09

Build your own Segway

I so want to do this.  Anyone else open for a summer robotics project?  I figure it will be easier if we do multiple ones simultaneously. 

http://www.ohscope.com/

And it will be nifty if you're going to college on a large campus....

18.2.09

Be careful with big magnets

Dirk is a fellow who owns a few large neodynium magnets.  He had them out and thought they were a safe distance apart...

...except they weren't.  They ended up flying 20 inches through the air and crushing his right index finger. 

Be forewarned: the link has some pretty graphic pictures of what strong magnets can do.  Trust me, it's pretty gross.

http://www.magnetnerd.com/Neodymium%20Magnets/Dirks%20Accident.htm

13.2.09

Apple says Jailbreaking is illegal

Apple recently filed a claim at the patent office that said that it is illegal to jailbreak your iThing:

http://www.tuaw.com/2009/02/13/apple-says-jailbreaking-is-illegal/

They haven't offered a reason, but considering the pressure both from the App Store developers whose apps are being cracked and distributed to jailbroken iThings and AT&T who probably doesn't like the whole 'unlock' situation, it's pretty easy to guess why they're doing this.  The thing is, it's like arguing that Bittorent is wrong because you can pirate stuff over it.  Jailbreaking is simply a tool that can be used for both good and evil. 

Fortunately, it seems that the general consensus from the Mac community is that it would be next to impossible for Apple to begin taking legal action against the jailbreakers.  First, they're all working anonymously, and second, they're just distributing code that modifies Apple's firmware.  So Apple can't nail them for redistributing Apple-only firmware.  Also, it seems that Apple doesn't really want to pursue the issue, but needs to make some sort of gesture of goodwill to AT&T and the App Store devs. 

Here's hoping no one decides that this insane course of action should actually be followed.

10.2.09

Safenow.org

Warning: Do not drink beverages and read this site simultaneously. 

http://www.safenow.org/

8.2.09

Circular reasoning in this claim about speciation?

"For example, the closest living relatives of humans are the chimpanzees and the bonobos. We share 96-98% of our genome with chimpanzees, yet our most recent shared ancestor lived 5-7 million years ago. If it takes as much as 5 million years for that much change to accumulate, how can Ben expect to observe speciation in his lifetime?"

Taken from http://www.expelledexposed.com/index.php/contest/on-the-evidence-for-evolution

Is it just me, or is there some circular reasoning involved here?  I'll explain via a dialogue (ala Plato =]):

A: "Because we have not observed speciation, we cannot offer evidence for evolution."
B: "If, according to our predictions based on evolution, humans and apes did speciate from a common ancestor, and that ancestor lived 5-7 million years ago, then we could conclude that it takes about 5 million years to speciate.  Therefore, we would not expect to see speciation."

Maybe not.  Either way, it makes speciation a moot point in the debate, as both creationist and evolutionist views would not expect speciation. 

7.2.09

The not-so-recent trojan in iWork

I'm baffled by this headline: "BitTorrent copies of iWork '09 may contain nasty Trojan"

http://www.tuaw.com/2009/01/22/bittorrent-copies-of-iwork-09-may-contain-nasty-trojan/

What?  This is news?  To me, this sounds like "Software downloaded from porn sites may contain viruses".  It should be fairly obvious that the principle of caveat emptor doubly applies to black-market items.  Obvious enough that this doesn't make all the major news sites.

In addition, I didn't think that the major Mac demographic included a lot of torrenters.  Most Mac owners are rich enough that they can blow $80 on new software.  I do realize that there are exceptions (in fact, I am one of them), but I didn't realize that this was that popular. 

4.2.09

All operating systems stink...

....Mac OS just stinks less.  Which is why I think Apple's new slogan should be "Stink Different" =]

Aside from that, we've got two weeks until we have to ship the robot...so life will be really crazy now.  I've got 2000+ unread articles to catch up on...

And my last thought for the day: Stay away from myspanishlab.com.  It's interface is one of the worst interfaces ever.  And there's bugs, too.  I get way too stressed trying to do spanish homework...