brainwagon "There is much pleasure in useless knowledge." — Bertrand Russell

18Jan/05Off

Would you buy a house here?

Doc Searles snapped a picture of the town of La Conchita on a flight to Santa Barbara. Surf on over there and check out the hillside that hovers over those homes. Anybody who rebuilds there is not just a fool, but a damned fool.

18Jan/05Off

GTA San Andreas

One industrious hacker created this master list of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas cheat codes by wiring a PS/2 controller to his PC's parallel port and stepping through key combinations looking for cheat codes. That's just simply brilliant! Well done!

18Jan/05Off

Gizmodo : NFL on iPod

In the first of what will likely be many attempts at commercializing podcasting, Gizmodo is reporting that the NFL has inked a deal with audible.com to make their games available for download via the Apple iTunes music store.

Complete recordings of games, including versions that feature local sportscasters, are expected to cost around $10 each, while highlights of games are expected to cost between $1 and $5.

It's nice to be able to get games without the largely dreadful, completely homogenized national broadcasters doing voice-overs, or it would be if they were doing this for a better sport. The price seems a bit high to me though. Frankly, I'd probably spend $50 or more to be able to download all Oakland A's games in a season, but I can't imagine spending $10 a pop to download them one at a time.

18Jan/05Off

AI Bots Pick The Hits of Tomorrow

Slashdot links to a story about the music industry using AI to choose hit songs. I can't help but shake my head in shame. I'm reminded of a scene in the movie Dead Poets Society (excerpted here):

KEATING
Gentlemen, open your text to page twenty-one of the introduction. Mr. Perry, will you read the opening paragraph of the preface, entitled "Understanding Poetry"?
NEIL
Understanding Poetry, by Dr. J. Evans Pritchard, Ph.D. To fully understand poetry, we must first be fluent with its meter, rhyme, and figures of speech. Then ask two questions: One, how artfully has the objective of the poem been rendered, and two, how important is that objective. Question one rates the poem's perfection, question two rates its importance. And once these questions have been answered, determining a poem's greatest becomes a relatively simple matter.

Keating gets up from his desk and prepares to draw on the chalk board.

NEIL
If the poem's score for perfection is plotted along the horizontal of a graph, and its importance is plotted on the vertical, then calculating the total area of the poem yields the measure of its greatness.

Keating draws a corresponding graph on the board and the students dutifully copy it down.

NEIL
A sonnet by Byron may score high on the vertical, but only average on the horizontal. A Shakespearean sonnet, on the other hand, would score high both horizontally and vertically, yielding a massive total area, thereby revealing the poem to be truly great. As you proceed through the poetry in this book, practice this rating method. As your ability to evaluate poems in this matter grows, so will - so will your enjoyment and understanding of poetry.

Neil sets the book down and takes off his glasses. The student sitting across from him is discretely trying to eat. Keating turns away from the chalkboard with a smile.

KEATING
Excrement. That's what I think of Mr. J. Evans Pritchard. We're not laying pipe, we're talking about poetry.

My real problem with this isn't that it is snake-oil. I suspect that this software works very well in finding records that maximize the success of record companies in producing music which sells. I merely think it is a tragedy to limit the music we hear to those few that some computer (or even a few record executives) thinks they can make a buck in promoting. It becomes a self-perpetuating cycle of the banal, where generations of individuals grow up hearing only the most banal, market proven music imaginable and therefore don't understand that music is more than that.

Tear that page out of your book, and stretch your own personal boundaries to find you own understanding of music.

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