Wednesday, September 30, 2009

MagCloud and HP: Fantastic customer support

I recently ordered some additional copies of my Penn Station MagCloud I put together this summer.

When the package arrived in the mail, I was frustrated to find that the two copies were creased, bent and unpresentable. They had been shipped in a soft bubble-mailer, seen below, and as you can tell from the picture, the package seems to have been crushed and run over by numerous vehicles before arriving at my house.

I emailed MagCloud and told them what happened. They responded the same day and told me they would be resending the magazines, but this time with the new "velvet glove" shipping option they are beta-testing. I received two follow-up emails asking if I had received the new copies yet, asking for feedback on the condition. The package just arrived today, and MagCloud has completely redeemed themselves for what happened before.

The new copies were shrink-wrapped inside two pieces of cardboard inside a cardboard box with packaging peanuts. A shoddy reenactment of packages opening unfolds below:

1) The package arrived via UPS in a cardboard box.

2) The box was filled with packing peanuts.

3) Buried within was this shrink-wrapped piece with cardboard on both sides.

4) Inside the cardboard, inside a paper sleeve were the two magazines, in perfect condition.

I couldn't be happier with the way MagCloud handled this. Thanks to their team for caring so much about making sure I got copies of the magazine without any issues.

Previously: Another MagCloud zine: Passing Through Penn Station, 123 John: A Graphic Memoir

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

More Miike Snow remixes!

Uber techno but still a cool take on the original.

Side note: The remix is by Tiga, who is also also responsible for this outstanding, bizarre and memserizing video music experience:

Via Fancy Sounds via Hype Machine

Lala iPhone app even closer to official release?

On September 23, the following message was posted on Lala's Beta Feedback discussion forum:
If you would be interested in beta testing a Lala iPhone app, please post back and let us know.  We're keeping a waiting list of interested members.

This is an official Lala employee (we are able to tell by the blue "Lala" badge next to her name), and the post *hopefully* confirms that the Lala iPhone app is getting even closer to an official release. This comes months after TechCruch released this video of the app in it's earlier stages.

Access to the Beta Feedback discussion forum, which allows users to comment, receive feedback and suggest new features, is available to registered Lala members who have requested to be a Lala Beta tester. Being a Beta tester works a lot like Gmail Labs: you get access to a special tab in your profile settings that allow you activate features that haven't been implemented globally. Right now, this includes features like scrobbling and keyboard shortcuts for playback.

What do you think? Is this a major selling point for Lala's service? Will it help them bring in lots of new business? Would it be overshadowed by a US release of Spotify, or—hypothetically—if Apple was savvy enough to release an "Lala-esque" version of their iTunes software?

Previously: Top 5 Reasons Why Lala Beats Spotify and iTunes

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Miike Snow — Glad we're all on the same page

FLASHBACK: It's the third week in July 2009 and I've got a station playing. A song by "Miike Snow" plays, I like what I hear, and I start listening to the group's self-titled album. Actually, I start listening to it a lot, as I tend to do when some new music is good enough to keep my attention.

I do some research and find that Miike Snow's song "Animal" is oft-remixed track and there are already tons of versions floating around. And their own remix of Vampire Weekend's "Kids Don't Stand a Chance" is super-slick.

Good for me, I find an artist that I like, and get over the fact that everyone else isn't as into them as I am.

FLASH-FORWARD: It's the third week in September 2009. I get the weekly Hype Machine email in my inbox, and what's the "most popular" track? Miike Snow's "Silvia." Over 550 people "loved the track" on Hype Machine, and the linked blog post even has a video of their song "Black and Blue."

Glad to see they're getting some attention, their album is awesome. I dig the mix of acoustic and electronic instruments, and there's lots of complexity in every song. Check them out if you haven't already.

- "Silvia" on Hype Machine
- "Animal" remixes on Hype Machine
- "Kids Don't Stand a Chance" remix on Hype Machine


Miike Snow - "Animal" from Downtown Music on Vimeo.

MIIKE SNOW - Black & Blue from vincent haycock on Vimeo.

Miike Snow "Burial" from Downtown Music on Vimeo.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Cheese or Font?

An important test we should all be required to take.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

"Sex" is now an adjective

I missed where this happened. According to Comment #4 from this post on Pretty Much Amazing's blog, "sex" is a verb that explains extreme joy and approval.

Once upon a time, to express extreme excitement, satisfaction or pleasure, it was appropriate to use descriptions like "bad, filthy, disgusting, or dirty" (or sometimes "duuurty"). It could almost be deemed insulting to say something "was super," and everyone knows you're underwhelmed when you say "yeah, it was great."

But there's something at work here bigger than my obliviousness to a linguistic development. With this change, the Adjective Superlative Circle, which measures how words will accurately express the desired level of excitement, has experienced a complete inversion. Where it was once better to "insult" something to express approval, now giving superlative praise demonstrates legitimate enthusiasm. The graphic below demonstrates this phenomenon visually.

Adjective Superlative Circle

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

How to see all the songs no wants to be caught having listened to is an awesome online internet radio and internet music community. They've been around for a while now and are a great resource for getting info on bands, artists, tracks, album, etc. provides a service to keep track of what you've listened to, which they call "scrobbling." When a track is "scrobbled," it gets added to your list of plays in their database. You can add scrobbling functionality to iTunes (and iPod), Lala, Hype Machine, and lots of other music services so you can keep track of your listening habits and trends from whatever you use to listen to music.

Scrobbled tracks are added to your online library, but get this: you can delete any record that you've listened to a track. That means that if you snuck a listen to Lady Gaga's new release or got your secret fix of Coldplay's Viva la Vida, no one has no know. But surprise! That deletion will get recorded by and contribute to their list of most unwanted, "unscrobbled" tracks.

What does this mean? We get a record of all of the tracks people heard but didn't want to get judged for having listened to. The results are exactly what you'd expect:

And get this: armed with a username, you can see anyone's list of life-time scrobbled tracks. The cool thing is that there are tons of web-apps to get stats on your listening habits, as well as getting recommendations for new music, and all you need to do is put in the user name. That means you should either guard your username safely, or just not give a shit who sees what you listen to. See the different things you can do here:

My username available by request only.

Monday, September 14, 2009

A Closer Look: Piles of random crap

As I've mentioned previously, I have a ton of stuff in my room. Apparently, all this "stuff" can check in any time it likes, but it can never, ever leave.

The breaking point came when unpacking from this summer. After the car was unloaded and everything was upstairs, I paused and looked around. The situation was more dire than I had thought: everywhere I looked, there were piles and groups and messes of random crap. Thankfully, my camera was in my pocket so I documented the experience, and have annotated the pictures to communicate the severity of the situation. I identified many problem areas, but here are four in particular.

Friday, September 11, 2009

The internet claims its victims, too

It's unfortunate that this project didn't get the funding it needed to be completed, but shows how the internet is not always an immediate recipe for success. Makes me wonder, was the problem with the idea, or little bit of execution that we see here?

Check it out: Health Reform: A Visual Explanation

via Information Aesthetics

Moment of silence for remembrence

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Trying to get rid of any evidence of a former self

In seventh grade, we had these things called Reading Logs that were used to keep track of how many books we read each quarter. Our grade was based on the total number of pages we read, so it was kind of like a little competition among the three people in the class who actually liked to read.

Here's is my reading log. I know what you're thinking: "You could only fill up ONE page? What about that girl who filled three separate logs and needed six pages to list her books?!" I guess I was just spent a lot more time being wild and crazy back then than she did.

Now, upon returning home, it was confirmed that I, indeed, have too much stuff. I have since embarked on a quest to rid my room myself of the useless crap lying around that I never use. It is a daunting task, friends.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Really small tomatoes

My parents like plants, and would probably consider themselves to be "hobbyist" gardeners. We have lots of flowers, but also a tomato plant in our backyard. My mother is convinced that in order for the tomatoes to grow, you need to speak to them everyday. I have heard people say that the air we breathe onto the plants actually does help them grow, but I'm less sure about the effects of leaning out the kitchen window and shouting "Hello, little tomatoooes!"

What follows is photographic proof that our tomato plant is indeed functioning, but not exactly on the scale we might have hoped for.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Top 5 Five Reasons Why Lala Beats Spotify and iTunes

The Spotify iPhone app was recently released in Europe. Spotify, originally a desktop app, gives users access to music on demand. Think iTunes but streaming only, no download. The Spotify iPhone app is being dubbed an "iTunes killer"; people are shocked that Apple allowed the app to be released at all, since it seems to directly undermine Apple's own iMusic universe. If people can always stream all the music they want from their iPhone or iPod, why bother buying the songs with iTunes? Now there's serious competition in the marketplace.

BREAKING NEWS: No longer "stuck in the bubble"

I lied; this isn't actually breaking news, it happened last week!

At times it felt like it would never come: the official end of four years in Princeton, closing a whirlwind education/work experience that began in September 2005. But despite my fears and anxieties that I might not make it out alive, or at least with my sanity, I have safely returned home to Connecticut. I've got some new roommates, and they're great because they cook, clean, mow the lawn, even pay the mortgage. They also bear a frightening resemblance to my parents...

Saturday, September 5, 2009

They wanted to demolish Grand Central too?!

After a particularly frustrating experience traveling through Penn Station, I captured the experience in a little "graphic memoir" (Passing Through Penn Station). The trip also prompted me to revisit the history of the original Penn Station, demolished in the 1960's to make way for Madison Square Garden.

Ed Driscoll has a great article on the Pajamas Media site discussing the train station's history in light of recent episodes of the television series Mad Men. The Mad Men references are small, and the article is another nice piece of writing on the station's history.

Check it out here: Lead Us Not Into Penn Station

One of the commentors shares how Grand Central Station was slated for the same fate as Penn Station, to be demolished and then replaced with a skyscraper. Glad that didn't happen.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

How losing my checking card made me $10

The other night I'm talking with my bro and realize that my Bank of America checking card isn't in my wallet. Like my driver's license, if my checking card isn't in my wallet, I don't know where it is.