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Trivial Personal Milestone – 150k scrobbles

June 20th, 2012 - 7:52 am | No Comments | Audio, Emotions, Research

Scrobbling is a service from Last.FM that keeps track of all the music I’ve played to produce a personal music profile. I started scrobbling on April 21st, 2004 after hearing about it during a conversation between ex-Nullsoft crew huddled in a private IRC room. Later on once Last.FM and Scrobbler merged in 2005 I forgot about my profile and let it go. Since that time I’ve visited the site once every few months to see what music has been recommended to me. There hasn’t been much movement on the site since being acquired by CBS in 2007, as they slowly gutted many of the better features of the site.

Anyway, point being I’ve finally reached 150,000 scrobbles, putting me in the top 1% of all scrobblers that aren’t doing it just to game the system. On the left is an artist cloud from the 3 previous months, based on tracks listened to. The massive Japanese name dead center is Yoko Kanno (9,482 times played), a prolific Japanese music producer that has many amazing and varied albums under her belt. To get a true feel as to what I’ve been listening to I’d recommend visiting Normalisr, which ranks your logged listening habits based on time instead of number of tracks, thus making it much more accurate.

A few lesser known recommended artists:

  • Steve Reich – Music For 18 Musicians. I refuse to classify his scores as minimalist, because they are anything but that. No technology or electronics involved, just amazingly talented musicians producing the most lush and naturally evolving soundscapes I’ve heard in my life till this moment. Watching a live rendition has been on my bucket list for a while.
  • Tommy Emmanuel – In my opinion the best living solo entertainer and fingerpicking guitarist of our time. ‘Initiation’ is one song, if you could even call it that… a soundscape that simply cannot be recorded properly and must be heard live, his shows are always a treat and family friendly. Do yourself a favor and click his name to watch his amazing ‘cover’ of Classical Gas.
  • Bonobo – Natural downtempo published by Ninja Tune, also amazing live.
  • Yoko Kanno & The Seatbelt’s – Cowboy Bebop Box Set. Jazz and more… the albums are so varied it’d be hard to cover em’ all. Samples: Slow Jazz, Fast Jazz, Pure Moodish.
  • More of Yoko Kanno – be sure to check out the “Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex” album. Samples one, two and three.
  • Bear McCreary’s Season 3 soundtrack for Battlestar Galactica.
  • _ensnare_ – Danceable 8-bit blippy bloppy awesomeness
  • Bassnectar – Dubstep, breakbeat, electronic, glitch, breaks. We also happen to share a first name. If you like his stuff check out Deadmau5 as well, but you probably already know of em’.

I have to stop here, there are many more great singles than complete albums. I’ve actually been rating all 19k+ tracks/compliations in my musical library on a scale of 0 to 5 in 0.5 steps, once I’m closer to completion I will post what I think are the best of the best (there are only 46 5-star tracks out of 13k tracks I’ve already hand rated!). Maybe I should post about music more often, I find it fun :)

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North American Starcraft 2 Pro Player Rant

March 2nd, 2012 - 12:13 am | No Comments | eSports, Rant

I chose not to use a North American player for the header of this rant because it would make the post seem like a targeted attack at specific players, it’s not. I think one of the main problems within the North American e-Sports scene is that we artificially boost ‘legendary’ players and then they just seem stay there no matter how terrible their play gets compared to the current baseline. It’s a simple fact is that e-Sports needs new blood to evolve new, more complex play tactics.

We hurt everyone involved by churning out “filler” matches that no one wants to watch (because the players involved aren’t motivated to maintain their peak performance), we waste our viewers time and thus it’s only a matter a time that they get sick of it entirely and start looking for content elsewhere.

It’s time to fess up and tell those that never seem to improve:

“Sorry, just because you had it big back in the day – doesn’t mean you’re worth sh*t today as a player, evolve or die.”

Players that just don’t have that true motivation and dedication should be honest with themselves and their fans by transitioning into other roles or just retire outright.

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The Nokia Phone that Never Was (2010)

March 1st, 2012 - 3:30 am | No Comments | Experience, Graphic, Modifications, Rant, UI

This is a bit of a blast from the past, I originally created many elements of this post back in 2010 and early 2011, so bear with me – I’ve been busy.

Before Nokia’s partnership with Microsoft and their foray into Windows Mobile phones, there was uncertainty in the public that Nokia could follow-up their previous successes in the smartphone business with the onslaught from both the touch-friendly Apple iPhone and even BlackBerry’s constant deluge of hardware with minor tweaks. This was also around the same time that Palm (later acquired by HP) hit the ground running with the Pre2.

Nokia’s answer at the time was the N8, and later the E7 for the business crowd [and then the E63… E72… E73 Mode… E71X… and even later still the E6 (which I’ve yet to post a proper review of), All skeletons of the amazing E71 – WHICH I STILL USE AND LOVE!]. Neither were truly satisfactory answers, although they both had the unmistakable solid-built Nokia look and feel. It was around this time that I thought it would be a good idea to ‘flesh out’ my dream phone – at least via the computer. The result was a hybrid of the Nokia N8 with the physical buttons and a vertical slideout QWERTY backlit keyboard from the Nokia E71, running WebOS. At the time I still had plenty of hope for WebOS as it seemed to be a very easy platform for developers to get pump out quality apps for. Combined with Nokia’s expertise developing the multi-tasking Symbian OS it seemed like a lot of good features from both OSes could be ‘married’ in such a partnership.

Alas, it wasn’t meant to be. I had fun making the mockups in Fireworks – to the right is the high-resolution “Ad” for my make-believe E81, for others who are dreamers, or perhaps for someone out there that is listening and will grant my weird wish for a proper vertical QWERTY slider.

And no – the BlackBerry Torch and non-existent Palm/HP Pre3 aren’t “proper”.

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Death Triumphant – Pt 1

June 11th, 2010 - 9:11 am | No Comments | ... what?, Projects, Research

Currently located in the European Collection wing of the AGO, “Death Triumphant” is a small hand-carved wooden sculpture with intricate detailing made by an unknown artist around the 1670s in the Bavaria region of what is now known as Germany. At first glance it is a dressed skeleton at rest inspecting a bow and arrow in with a simple brown varnish; however only after repeated or extended inspections does the viewer realize how far that is far from the truth.

The sculpture is carved out of multiple pieces of linden wood, better known as “basswood” in North America. The tree that the art pieces original materials came from would have been hundreds if not almost one thousand years old. It seems to be composed out of few individual sculpted and carved components, namely the skeleton, bow and arrow, spade, and base platform or ground. Bindings and gluing are not visible, and all necessary surfaces smoothed suggests a (if not soon to be obvious) master of craftsmanship created this piece. Although the AGO’s own photographic representation of the piece shows the wood varnish to be of a dark brown color, it is actually a much lighter yellow or hazel mid-tone with a well-polished, metallic sheen.  Under correct lighting the sculpture is almost bronze like as the dark shadowed areas have a slight green hue. This effect increases the openness of the figure’s internals, enhancing the ability to see further details.

The small sculpture (24.0 x 13.5 x 7.5cm) portrays an undead human male standing on uneven ground.  The figure’s pose suggests that he’s either looking at a bow and arrow in his left hand or an event unfolding beyond the focal point of the bow in the distance. The subject is tightly gripping the bow and arrow in his left hand, while his right hand lightly rests on a spade that has barely broken the soil beneath his feet. One could hypothesize that the figure is in mid-action glancing at some of the remnants of war before excavating the ground to bury another body. He is acting as an undertaker, and has been burying the dead for so long that he became their familiar. Another but less likely option is that of a “call to arms”, dropping the spade and picking up an instrument of death for further bloodshed.  However, by reading the following descriptions, you should be able to reach your own conclusion.

There is a complete detailing of the times known underlying skeletal physiology, from the rib cage up to the coronal suture that is clearly visible on the skeleton’s cranium, carved lightly between the ears.  Detailing does not stop there, as even the string of the bow and the feathers of the arrow were whittled down from the wood, while the spade has a T-shaped grip above the wood handle. The most surprising and non-obvious elements of the art piece are what seem to be the ragged, tattered clothing and a cowl that the skeleton is wearing.  It is actually the person’s sloughed skin and face torn and distraught from use, just given the impression of garments by the artist at first glance. Skin on the arms drape like stretched sleeves, skin folded over itself between the hand and arm made to look like leather gloves, circular stress holes reveal the pelvic bone and loose skin make up the shorts… and even more skin above the ankles fold over to look like tall boots with turned over tops, typical for fashion in the sixteen hundreds period of Middle Europe. The ear keeps the remaining skin attached to the skull while skin normally attached to the jaw flaps loosely above the chest. The figure adorns a tied sash made of unknown material, either the figure’s pre-mortem clothing or the skin of another unknown individual. There are several snake heads protruding from the torso, the tail of one twisting its way through the neck into the mouth of the skeleton to create a quasi-tongue. Either intestines or snakes hang from a hole in the figures crotch. Only the base is roughly carved with etched lines, presumably to give contrast to the figure above.

The end meaning behind this art piece is somewhat fuzzy, since no further information was provided by the AGO. The artist, exact date, and location are unknown and much of the following research would be theoretical and speculation, thus, the only conclusion I could come up with at the time of writing is that the art piece was meant as a reminder of a large tragedy such as a plague or war. I wouldn’t go as far as to say that it was memorabilia, but more of an old personally interpretive semi-religious “shock” art to remind the future of what events have passed and its aftereffects on seemingly unrelated individuals. Detailed theories and interpretations for a future post.

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