Z-Trip Link

The Z-Trip album is growing on me. I plan to use a track in my next mix which should be a fun one. I promised you a live set from Z-Trip long ago. I was just over at the official site and was surprised to find a link to Old Mixes. I haven't finished downloading anything from there yet, so maybe it is all whale noises or something, but if you want to hear some live Z-Trip, you might give it a shot.


The Night Speaks To Me

I was in Las Vegas last week and had a great time. One night stuck out more than the rest. I won't say it was the best night, but it certainly was the most surreal.

Things started with a visit to friend's room in THEhotel. Wow, what a nice place. Widescreen TVs on the wall, barware, a DVD player, and nice artwork. I really wished I had stayed there instead of the regular Mandalay Bay hotel.

From there we went on to Red Square, a resturant with a Russian/Soviet Union theme, and a large selection of vodkas. The martinis here were good. If you want a spectacle, order a Chernobyl and watch them mix it. We had a Russian speaker with us, so it was nice to get the translation of things written on the walls and menus. Oddly enough, he skipped out on the pre-dinner drinks because he couldn't resist the siren song of the nickle slot machines (lol).

The surrealness began when we sat down to dinner. I began to hear very familiar music building in the background. As they turned the music up a bit, I was able to confirm that it was indeed DJ Shadow - Building Steam With a Grain of Salt. Wow, I thought. I'm liking this place even more. If you've been following along, you'll remember that I named this DJ Shadow album in my top ten of all time. I offered anyone at the table $5 in the could name who was playing. I'm pretty annoying with that game. I'm not sure why, I just do it.

After Building finishes, I hear another DJ Shadow track, The Number Song, come in. Wow, I'm really liking this place now. The vodka is setting in, I'm with friends, and my favorite music is playing. Again, I offer up the $5, and no one thinks to guess the artist that I told them the last time. No winners yet.

The third song is again DJ Shadow. I'm getting the hint that they are just playing most of the album now. No complaints from me. I again offer up the $5 prize and no one wins. I guess my friends are slow learners. The DJ Shadow experience continues for the next hour as we dine on traditional Russian dishes and put back a few flights of vodka.

After spinning about the town for the rest of the night, I returned to my hotel room and decided to check the weather for the next day. Of course, the only proper way to end the night was by hearing an old ambient Moby track playing behind the forecasts of sun. Moby is also on the top ten list and is my most collected artist. The night had spoken, and I listened. Thank you Las Vegas.


More Apple Gushing

So last week I was pissed off at my iPod. I thought it was dying. It wouldn't sync for crap with my XP box. It would BSOD the Dell. The iPod would lockup and I'd have to warm boot the iPod. I warm booted that thing more in two days last week than I have in the entire time I've had it.

I got fed up enough to decide I needed to attempt the dreaded "restore to factory defaults". I couldn't get the XP box to live long enough to do it, so I used my iBook from work. Everything went great. I was feeling better. I hooked it back up to my Dell to sync to my library and "blah blah blah, I need to make this work with Windows, shall I do that?" came up. Sure, whateva. Go for it you hunk of crap. So, it did, but of course it restored to an older version than what is current because Apple doesn't software update the installer to PCs, only Macs. So after it finished that, I had to go download the current installer and do it again.

It was finally latest and greatest and Windows flavored and it still took a dump when I connected it. WTF? I disabled iTunes enough that I could mount the iPod and run scan disk on it, even though Apple says don't do that. Scan disk found nothing. Then I checked iPodlounge and found the disk check secret handshake. It ran and said everything was fine.

So, last ditch effort, I decide to load music in to my iBook and sync from there. Guess what? It worked perfectly. Yeah, no problems at all. Once I drained the moron juice from my head I remembered that you can turn off the "Copy files to iTunes Music folder when adding to library". Even better, now I can sync through the iBook without filling the drive.

But then, I found the ultimate. Did you know that you can just drag files from wherever onto your iPod icon in iTunes and it loads them up? No need for them to be in the iTunes library. It will happily copy them on to the iPod and leave the library out of it. Maybe you knew that, I didn't. So, I still need the iBook, but only as a "drag between" my external Firewire drive and my iPod, my lovely iPod.

Installing - Are you sure?

This is the poster child for bad app design. I can't blame it all on Firefox, most installers look like this. As a software engineer, I'm ashamed. Why do we need to tell the user 4 times that we are installing? Surely some of those other status areas could say something more useful, or not be there at all?

Even better, if what we are doing is called installing, why did I run Firefox Setup? Sure, someone will jump in with why setup includes installing, but to the I-just-want-to-use-it user, it's all pretty confusing.

While I'm picking on Firefox 1.03, why, as I sit in the Blogger editor, is the status circle continuing to spin and the status bar still says "Transferring data from www.blogger.com..."? IE doesn't say that. Safari doesn't say that. Firefox, take note, the page has loaded.

Don't get me wrong. I like Firefox, and I'm glad that folks spent time writing software to give to my whiny ass.


A Google Loop

Google is building an empire. It may not be an evil empire, but it is an empire none the less. Google has tremendous services and is slowly evolving from a search technology, to a provider of data. This data is coming in maps, answers, blog content, and whatever else they announced today. Sooner or later, they are going to weld all of their services together. This blog entry is an observation of one of those possible Google solutions, or what I'll call, a Google Loop.

My Google Loop involves digital photos. I love my digital camera. I love that I can shoot as many images as I have MBs and battery to allow. I love that I can make backups of those photos. I love that I can edit those photos easily. I love that I don't have to pay for developing costs. I love that my ReplayTV will use them as a screensaver.

As great as all of those things are, we haven't even scratched the surface of what we can do with these digital photos. For one, I can't wait to get a Mac so I can play with the photo books in iPhoto. But, that's still just a pretty presentation of the pictures. We need to go beyond looking at the pictures and add further context to them. Where were they taken? When were they taken? How are they different from photos that other people took at that same place, but perhaps at a different time?

They key to all of this is metadata. Without metadata, the picture's true value could be locked in the heads of the people who were there.

1. We'll start our Google Loop by importing some pictures we took at Yellowstone Nation Park in to Picasa. Now ideally, the picture already contains GPS location data inserted by the camera, but those cameras are still rare, so let's say that Picasa allows us to assign location data to that picture.

2. I never have enough disk space, and Google is nice enough to give me 2 gigs and counting in Gmail. Let's say that Google lets me use that Gmail disk to save Picasa pictures. Thanks Google!

3. I have a blog (duh, you are reading it) and on occasion, I'll put up a picture. I'm lucky enough to have server space to host those images, but most people don't. Let's say that Google allows me to link in to those saved images in my Gmail disk. Thanks Google, you're the greatest!

4. I blog about my great vacation to Yellowstone. Pictures are included and, what's this? You can click my pictures and pull up a Google Map or satellite data of the location? Very nice. Hey look, there are even "pinned" locations on the satellite view that are clickable to see my other pictures. The world is good.

5. AdSense does it's thing to the right of my blog. I see that there are tour packages available for Yellowstone. Hmmm, I'll have to check those out next time, and maybe even stay in "super-duper-fantastic hotel" that says they will give me a great rate. My friends read my blog and think Yellowstone looks like a cool place. They make use of the AdSense and book a trip. Now sure, this is possible today with AdSense, but the only reason they stuck around was all of the cool photos that I was able to host for free and nifty maps that let them do a little armchair exploring of their own.

6. OG (that's original Google) makes note of all of this and returns search results of my blog and my images when people are looking for Yellowstone.

7. Desktop search is right there too. From my Google deskbar, I type Yellowstone when I want to be reminded of that great trip and Google Desktop gives me my original images, my blog entry, and the same maps that I was able to show other people. Google, I love you.

What do I get from this Google Loop?

* Incredible usability of my pictures
* Internet hosted storege for sharing my pictures
* A one company, integrated solution
* Related information that I might find useful

What does Google get?

* A happy customer
* User profile data on me that they can use to sell me things
* Chance to serve ads to me in GMail, Google Maps, and Google Desktop
* My images in their Google Images cache which lets them show ads to others

Certainly Google isn't the only one capable of this sort of thing. Apple has a huge buzz going around Spotlight right now. I'm eager to make use of it too.

I'm really surprised that Apple isn't doing something like this. They have iPhoto and .Mac for image hosting. Add in Spotlight and things are starting to cook. What they don't have over Google is blogging, map data, and a way for them and I to make extra money just for using all of this software. Maybe that's good though. Apple gets to sell me hardware and software and I don't have to deal with ads anywhere.

In closing, this is just one loop. I'm sure you can think of others, and I'm sure you could access these services in a different loop order. That's the power of cooperative services and metadata.