August 1, 2005

Video Game Music

Thanks to Brinstar from Acid for Blood for Video Game Music Link Dump. I sense a forthcoming playlist.

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January 3, 2005

iTuned Out

Several months ago, on our anniversary, my wife broke our "no gift agreement" and gave me a small gift card for iTunes, which many of you know as "the online music store transforming music sales," and what I know now as "the music store I will never use again."

Let me explain.

Fast forward to Christmas 2004, where my wife's parents generously gave us the nifty new Creative Zen Micro, a MP3 player equivalent to the iPod Mini. I'll likely comment later on the Zen itself, which I've so far found to be a zippy little player with some nice sound, though I wish the software were as nice as iTunes (a minor complaint - it works just fine). A few days after Christmas, I installed the software, charged my batteries, and ripped a few CDs to test out the player.

I've never been a huge MP3 collector; entering grad school somehow quashed my music appreciation inclinations, so while I had been a frequent concert attendee during my undergrad and high school days, most of my music in grad school consisted of a collection of jazz CDs on repeat as I smoked several packs of cigarettes through triple-all-nighters writing papers or cramming for exams. Grad school is many things, but it certainly isn't good for your health or your hobbies.

In this overly indulgent story, I will also foreground the fact that I'm generally a responsible computer user. I read the fine print, generally pay attention to how websites are set up, and so forth. But maybe I've gotten lazy, because I only partially grumbled when I wanted to use my iTunes Gift Card the other day only to discover that they wanted my credit card just to create an account. I'm just not comfortable with that. But I offer it up anyway, because I want some music to play on this nifty new player.

Yes, those of you in-the-know see where this is going. I sign up, find the Pixies album I want... and click "buy." Are you sure? Yes, I'm sure. Let's move to checkout. I expected the normal routine - the music was in my basket, and during checkout, I thought, I could enter my gift card number for payment.


The music began to download, and the $9.99 went straight to my credit card. Now, I'm sure I probably should've RTFM ("Read the Effin' Manual"), but given that almost every online shopping trip is the same, I suppose I might be forgiven for thinking about consistency in designing online experiences and interfaces. At that moment, I was merely annoyed - I didn't want to spend the money, but that just meant that a little mistake opened up the door for more music (after all, I still had the gift card to use, which I figured out how to redeem in order to add the amount to my account).

Until I tried to transfer my new Pixies over to my Zen. Nothing doing. I remembered in months past I had ripped some CDs to iTunes, and then converted them to MP3 from iTunes' format. So I tried converting the Pixies. Nothing doing, again. Apparently, any music actually downloaded through iTunes cannot be converted, and can be played only on certain supported players, such as - *gasp* - the iPod. Copyright protection.

And that, my friends, is the sum of my experience with iTunes. Now, I realize that I'm probably missing something, and I hope someone shares if I am, but does this mean that anyone who makes their music library out of iTunes music downloads is forever beholden to the iPod as their primary portable music player (not accounting for those who'll burn the music to a CD and play it in a portable CD player)? And how does this make the hippiepinkodownwithMicrosoftBeFree Apple any less controlling than their Gatesian counterparts?

Can we please all just come up with one standard?

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October 15, 2003

Where Is My Mind?

Sometimes, when the crush and madness of the week feels a bit overwhelming, when you've been up late touching up a paper and working on graphics, when you wonder how quickly you can get through the work day so you can rush home to pack so you can spend some time with your wife and catch a few hours of sleep before a 7 a.m. flight the next morning...

Sometimes, on days like that, it's great to take 3 minutes at your desk to close your eyes and nod your head to the Pixies.

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September 10, 2003

You Can Call Me Al

Simon & Garfunkel announce ''last'' reunion tour, where they will play in 30 cities this fall, including Washington D.C.

I picked up an affection for S&G from my father when I was in high school, after he pointed out that "the guy with Chevy Chase" in the MTV video used to have a "real" partner not so long ago. So, somehow S&G's Collected made it on the playlist with the Violent Femmes and the Connells for several years running.

I wouldn't mind catching their final tour if, you know, ticket prices don't require a mortgage on my first child.

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September 9, 2003

Gives Me Chills

Dave experienced some strange phenomenon last night - listening to the radio late at night, as is his self-proclaimed habit during the night when his wife is out of town, he heard a news story about infrasound: tones below 20 Hz that can create feelings in listeners.

Slashdot recently reported the same, relating that the study indicated that infrasound might offer a logic behind those who believe in ghosts and haunted houses.

From the Reuters report linked to from slashdot:

British scientists have shown in a controlled experiment that the extreme bass sound known as infrasound produces a range of bizarre effects in people including anxiety, extreme sorrow and chills -- supporting popular suggestions of a link between infrasound and strange sensations.

I'm curious how infrasound might be used for games to create emotive effects (especially fear). Along the same lines, I wonder if it has been used - intentionally or not - in other media (dave mentions that the radio show reported that "composers have for some time used infrasound at "apocalyptic moments" in their works").

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Check your shoes, I think someone just stepped in something...

The RIAA is suing a 12 year old for downloading music. Anyone think there might be some openings in their PR department sometime in the near future? [via /.]

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August 26, 2003


Listening to good music makes the day go faster. Case in point, there's something soothing about Jeff Buckley's "Hallelujah" smoothing through the speakers, drinking coffee, and doing some work on a favorite novel.

Major props to Fritz, who turned me on to KEXP - 90.3 fm. This is a great radio station - the glories of Internet radio...

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March 31, 2003


Forthcoming Radiohead album hits the net early. Titled "Hail to the Thief" (no cultural critic needed to decipher that one), I give it a 8/10 on the rhody-rad-o-meter. But that's a first impression, as I sit sipping a cup of tea, surfing my rounds, and listening. No holding me to it.

If you need a news link, it follows. Or check the press release, which lists the song titles.

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