August 26, 2009 by Daniel
August 25, 2009 by Daniel
Pitchfork: social history of the mp3. Some thoughts on this.
In 2001 for GCSE coursework we were tasked to do a ‘Personal Research Project’, basically we had to come up with a topic, look into it and draw some conclusions. I can’t remember what grade I got for it in the end but I remember it not being as good as I thought it would be. I thought I’d picked a great subject, one that nobody else in the school was looking at and it’s one that is still talked about in mainstream press to this day. My topic was Will MP3’s kill the Music Industry? To put the timeframe into perspective Apple didn’t release their mac-only firewire iPod until October of that year, the first iPod that supported USB properly was the 4th Generation model in 2004.
Through my uncle, who’s a conductor, I got an interview with a record executive at Virgin Records and he completely dismissed the idea of MP3’s. He couldn’t understand the appeal whatsoever and having followed the story since he seems to have summed up the entire industry. He was telling me about his expensive hifi and that the experience could never compare with poor quality compressed sources. At yet at school we were getting excited about Napster and AudioGalaxy, a friend had a 256MB Rio mp3 player. We had seen the future, Moore’s law was on our side and hard drives were getting cheaper and more capacious. Nowadays I can store all my music in a tiny box, ironically it sits next to our collection of CD’s which get heaved around the place taking up an entire wall. Not to mention the LP’s and 45’s which feed the Wurlitzer. I just came back from a Week long trip and in one device had at my fingertips pretty much every song I’ve ever loved.
So how have MP3’s changed the way I enjoy music? Certainly they have, certainly bands like Radiohead’s worries about the enjoyment of proper albums are true. I tend to employ playlisting along with listening to an entire back catalogue of an artist at a time. Other’s will just listen on random which is something I don’t like so much but I can see the appeal. But it’s got me thinking, have I enjoyed more recent albums as much as i’ve enjoyed albums I lovingly transferred to mini disc for my walk to school? Now that I can have 1000’s of tracks with me compared to a mere two maybe three albums do I listen to those songs in so much detail anymore? Is the music having less of an affect on me?
Time was I’d buy a CD and listen to it endlessly while buying more CD’s and only replacing it on my hallowed essential list if deemed worthy. Now it’s just so easy to have so much with you that there is no need for that one must-have disc to be kept on your person all the time, just bring it all…
I do think it has helped find new things though. Last.fm, Spotify – I have a bit of an obsession making sure listens are scrobbled so I can track and compile my habits. But finding new things isn’t quite as satisfying as coming across something you love so much you never tire of it.
August 24, 2009 by Daniel
Back from a week off work for a lovely time in Northumberland. I’ll try to do a proper write-up of where we went and get some pictures up once i’ve landed properly back in Manchester.
Although, going back on the road soon – to the South West on Wednesday evening and hopefully some South Wales for the weekend too.
August 12, 2009 by Daniel
There’s a lot of stories about at the moment saying that broadband now is just one of the necessities for the home these days. Our current broadband situation I setup when we moved into the flat as has barely changed at all in those three years. I’ve been trying to think who i’ve had as an ISP over the years, since leaving home it’s been Pipex who kind of screwed us on disconnection, can’t remember the next one – the signal was very patchy in my room anyway and then post Uni it’s been BT the whole time and i’ve never had any problem with it. I suspect it’s slightly expensive for what we get, but it’s certainly fast enough but working in a data centre I have a warped sense of what’s fast when it comes to home internet.
The new house we’re hopefully moving too is in a cabled area and we want to have Sky Sports and HD. However, Virgin don’t really seem to provide much in the way of HD and at the moment I don’t really see the point of paying for TV channels on my nice big TV that aren’t HD).
So do we get Virgin’s nice shiny Fibre Optic broadband and a phone line with them or get the broadband and phone with Sky which overall works out cheaper but isn’t fibre optic (which as i’ve mentioned is shiny). I’ve always said if you have the option of cable, you should. But this cable broadband thing is new to me – we had Cable back in Loughborough but at that time it was TV & phone only.
Sky will do the whole lot for £55 or £45 for the TV bit only (Sky Sports, HD, etc) and the Virgin Media bit is £25/month for 10Mb/s or £31 for 20Mb/s).
I’ve pretty much convinced myself to do it this way, especially having done the sums on how much we’ll be saving when it comes to not renting anymore. The only other question is how good is Virgin’s router? I’d like an excuse to have to get a Linksys WRT54GL or maybe one of Apple’s Airport base stations, I think i’d prefer the Linksys.
August 3, 2009 by Daniel
Kate is a massive Shakespeare fan and I missed out on getting tickets earlier on in the Summer for Comedy of Errors I was pleased to find that Macbeth was being put on in Heaton Park. I was a little nervous beforehand, Macbeth isn’t one that I’m familiar with – I had a vague idea of it in my head, but I’d never seen it or read it.
I also was nervous about the blurb on the ticket website:
Suitable for 8 years and above.
Prompt 7.30 pm start.
Rain does NOT stop play, so no refunds.
Wear suitable footwear (you will walk approximately 1/2 mile during the promenade production) and clothing, bring something light and portable to sit on, and a torch and insect repellant would also be useful (just in case!)
What were we letting ourselves in for? So we packed waterproofs, our camping stools, hats and a torch into a bag and set out for Heaton Park, feeling a little odd. Fortunately when we got there we found everybody was as prepared as us, in fact some even more so with flasks of coffee and picnic snacks.
I found the procession format a little annoying at first, I was thinking it was disruptive and that we were spending more time walking (or scrambling) from scene to scene than watching them. But after a while it settled into a rhythm and I was starting to be enthralled by the story.
They had mixed it up by using a part Zimbabwean cast and drawing the comparison of Macbeth to Mugabe, which set against the Wooded areas of the park and ending in a spectacular scene in front of the highest point in Manchester at the Temple.
August 3, 2009 by Daniel
I’m really enjoying NASA’s Astronony Picture of the Day at the moment. A nice guy called Jef Poskanzer has RSS’d it up for your favourite newsreader so you can bask in the glorious images each morning.
Friday‘s for example is a picture taken by Hubble of the comet or asteroid impact on Jupiter that appeared last week. Truly amazing when you think about it.
This sprawling dark marking is Jupiter’s latest impact scar,
a debris plume created as a small asteroid or comet disintegrated
after plunging into
the gas giant’s
Located in Jupiter’s south polar region, the
new feature was discovered
by Australian amateur astronomer Anthony Wesley on July 19.
On July 23rd Wesley’s discovery was followed up by the Hubble Space
Telescope with its newly installed Wide Field Camera 3, creating
this sharpest view of the evolving debris plume.
Estimates indicate that the impacting object itself was several hundred
One of the amazing things about this was that it wasn’t first spotted by professionals, but a guy in Australia called Anthony Wesley. He’s interviewed on Wired here. It’s quite inspiring, I know he’s hardly your average ‘amateur’ having built his own telescope and all but Astronomy is actually quite an open thing, the sky is there for anyone to look at.