5 of The Now

Less boom tss boom tss this time around. I guess I'm feeling laid back.

I'm again gifting one of these tracks to the best comment convincing me to do so. Want free music? Post a comment and earn it!


This Binary Universe

I'm a big BT fan. I'm really looking forward to Tuesday.

A2DP Roundup

I'm in the market for a Bluetooth A2DP dongle. Specifically, one for my iPod. I finally took the plunge and bought a set of Bluetooth headphones. I'm very pleased with them, but more on that in another post. The thing is, now that I have the headphones, I need something to listen to. For the time being, I'm using an A2DP dongle from work, but I really need to buy my own.

So, what is on the market? Well, there are a lot of offerings, but not a lot of good solutions. Most vendors want you to buy a dongle and headphones together. Others are only offering multipurpose dongles that connect to the analog headphone out of your audio device. These connections don't allow you to control your iPod the way ones connected to the dock connector would. I did some searching, and these are the devices I found. If you know of others, please post them in the comments. Please note, other then the Plantroics dongle, I haven't actually used any of these. I'm only commenting on their design and connect methods I have observed online. This isn't a review, just a gathering of info.

  • Plantronics Pulsar 590a - This is the dongle I'm currently using. I really don't care for the on/off switch. You can't really operate it one handed. The charging solutions are nice. Wall charger or USB! The battery life is a pain because it doesn't last as long as the iPod or my headphones. Overall, works well, but again, you have to buy headphones to get the adapter and it is an analog adapter.

  • Ten Technology Naviplay - This looks reasonable, but I'm really not digging the sled styling. You can see more photos over at mobilemag. Plus, it is way too expensive. Part of that is because you can't just buy the sender dongle. They make you buy it along with headphones, or a pendant to plug headphones in to. If I didn't get the headphones I did, these look like they have potential. Overall, I'm thinking no on these.

  • Bluetake - Yay, an ugly, bloated, coaster of a dongle. Plus, it is only analog connected, so forget about using the AVRCP features such as play, pause, and track skip. No thanks.

  • Macally Bluewave - Paired with fragile headphones. Analog connection. No, no, no. On a side note, my father ordered the MTUNE headphones, so it will be interesting to try those out.

  • icombi AP11 - Old iPod style, analog only, clunky. Not feeling this one either.

  • D.Muse iblue - No A2DP? Who are they kidding? Have you heard music over the headset profile? Ugg. Next!

  • Anycom adapter - Appears to be for the nano only. The plastic looks like preproduction proto plastic. Goofy channel for the nano to sit in. I'll keep looking.

  • ORA A2DP transmitter - One of the best candidates I found. The price is right. You don't have to buy headphones with it. Too bad the design is bad and it is analog only. Still, I might end up with this.

  • Jabra A125s - Now we're talking. Dock connector. Simply design. Can I buy one? Well, it is tough to find on Jabra's site, and none of the big online sellers seem to have it. I guess if you don't mind shopping at Jimmy's Parent's Basement Electronics Hut, you can get one for $50 linked off of Froogle. Still, a candidate if I can find a seller I trust.

  • IOGEAR Wireless Audio Transmitter - Again, designed for the old iPod, but at least they shaved the nub off. Still, quite pricey compared to others on the market, especially for an analog dongle.

  • Griffin BlueTrip - Their site says this only works with their base/transmitter pair. Are they serious? Good job guys. Take a universal wireless protocol and then make it proprietary so you can't sell any of them. Griffin, I like you, but this is just plain stupid.

  • i.Tech BlueCON G5 - Looks nice, but I can't find it for sale anywhere in the states. That's all too common when trying to purchase Bluetooth enabled equipment.

The worst part is that everytime I get ready to buy one of these less than ideal solutions, I see another rumor that Apple is going to release a Bluetooth enabled iPod, or at least a dongle. Internal Bluetooth is the only proper solution. These dongles are just temporary hacks in my opinion. I'm sure the only way to get Apple to actually release a Bluetooth iPod is to buy a dongle. That's usually the way it works, right :)


Spin it djay

I saw a post about a new DJ app for Macs over at TUAW. It looked interesting, and I downloaded it immediately, but I wasn't expecting a whole lot. I've used plenty of DJ apps and I've even started coding some crappy ones of my own. I had low expectations.

Boy, was I wrong. Djay is well done. It has a lot of potential. I kept looking for reasons to dismiss it, but it usually came out the winner.

At first, I figured, ehh, it won't pitch shift, even though the announcement says it does. It does, and it works pretty well. The sliders are set way too high. I'd prefer a more traditional +/-10%, not +/-100%.

Next, I was ready to throw it away forever because I didn't know how to cue anything in my headphones, while still outputing the main sound. A trip to the help file told me I needed at least a 4 channel external sound card. Well, I ain't getting one of those, but wait...you can aggregate channels with an iMic? I have an iMic (runs to studio to grab it). Follow instructions, bam, cueing in the headphones, main sound out the internal speakers. Nice!

The effects are crap, right? No, those are good too.

The iTunes integration is fantastic. I love when apps tightly integrate! It just multiplies the benefit you get from the hardwork you put in to organizing and tagging your data.

I do have some complaints. The "magnetic" tempo sliders are nice, but it's nothing like feeling a spinning platter. The beat counter does the best it can, but I learned early on to never trust beat counters. You just have to hear the mix. I was also a little upset that you can't play any iTMS purchased tracks. FairPlay my ass. FairPlay is fine when you stick to Apple's garden. Once you try and leave, you get smacked in the face with low hanging branches.

So, while I sell my turntables and switch to software? Never. However, I can see myself doing some prep work for a mix with this, and this is great software for those that want to try djing without investing a lot (any) money. It would also work well for preparing mixes that might not need precise beat matching, especially with the built-in recording. Overall, I'm liking this and plan to spend more time playing with it.


Use it or lose it

iTunes got snooty with me. I was curious why my ABC Nightly News podcast wasn't updating. I had episodes from July, but who wants to watch old news? I clicked the ! in iTunes and it tells me this...

I guess it will automatically stop downloading episodes from podcasts you stop listening/watching. Who knew? I didn't.


5 of The Now


Let Captchas Be Your Guide

Have you always wanted to be a rapper or a DJ? Have you been held back from your dreams because you couldn't come up with a decent name? Well, you are held back no longer.

All you have to do is visit your favorite site that requires a captchaized login and reload a few times. You'll get a great assortment of possible names. Pick the one you like and you're golden. You don't even have to bother to hire a graphic artist. The captcha gods will stylize your name for you! They'll make it wavy and distorted just enough to be cool.

Rymro. I don't know if that sounds like "Busta Rhymes feat. Rymro" or just something that Scooby Doo might say.

Rymro Shaggy!


Track Flags

Podcasts are continuing to evolve as a marketing tool. Puma is using music to spead the word about their frangrances. Beatport regularly puts out a wicked mix made from new releases. Even Apple releases a podcast once a week with new tracks that they'd love for you to buy.

For the most part, these marketing vehicles are doing their job. I've been moved to buy many tracks that I heard for the first time on a podcast. The problem is, they are too hard to buy.

Podcasts are certainly a step up from the old way. Downloading a DJ mix and then searching for a tracklist is a pain. Some will have a .cue sheet, but even then, you have to have software capable of handling that .cue sheet and doing something reasonable with it. For those keeping score, iPods don't know what a .cue is.

When I'm grooving away to Beatport Burners, I frequently think to myself "I need to buy this." If I'm at my computer, I can make use of the brilliant links that you can build in to podcasts, but I'm never at my computer when I'm listening to podcasts. I'm always listening on my iPod, usually at work. That means I get to play the game of writing notes to myself on scraps of paper, or dropping entries in my Google Notebook. Surely there is a better way.

We need a solution for flagging tracks on our iPods. Microsoft's Zune is already rumored to support bookmarking of shared tracks. If Apple wants to justify the development time, they can mark this in the increased iTMS sales category, but certainly we'd have reason to flag tracks other than as a future purchase reminder. I can see flagging tracks to use in iPhoto slideshows, for use in a DJ set of mix tape you are working on, or even as one you'd like to email Jimmy about because you think he'd like it.

My suggested implementation borrows on UI that most users are already familiar with. First of all, I borrowed the flag icon from Mail.app. Most users are familiar with flagging important emails for further future action. I also needed a UI gesture that could be performed on the iPod. Apple already lets you click and hold on a track to add it to an On-The-Go playlist. All they need to do is support that same gesture while on the track ID screen in a podcast.

  1. From the default podcast screen...button click to enter track ID mode.

  2. Click and hold. Flag icon is added to verify this track is flagged.

Later, back in iTunes, you can create a smart playlist with flagged tracks. If they had a link associated with them, you'd get the typical cirlcle-arrow icon to go to that link. If a link was not assigned, you'd at least have the information about the track that you'd normally scratch down on paper.

Here's hoping for this in iTunes 7!


One Chill Cat

Today's dose of free music comes courtesy of Puma Fragrances. Apparently they have cologne that makes you smell like electronic music.

It's a pretty chill set. Relaxed, edgy, hip. Just like what comes in the bottle!

Subscribe through iTunes or head straight to the site.

1) Jeff Bennett feat. MC Leroy - I can see [Kung Fu Dub Recordings]
2) Tigerskin - Sams return [Morris Audio]
3) Edvard Kofner - Dirty Bass [Exun Records]
4) Beanfield feat. Bajika - Tides (C's Movement #1 - Carl Craig Remix) [Compost Records]
5) Unai - I like your style (Martinez Remix) [Disco Inc. Ldt.]
6) phonique feat. die Elfen - The Red Dress (Tiefschwarz Remix) [Dessous Recordings]
7) Air Liquide - So much Love (Radio Edit) [Multicolor Recordings / Good Groove Music]

You'll recognize the Beanfield track from my previous 5 of the now. If you didn't get to listen to the whole thing before, now is your chance.


WWDC Eve and a Family of Apple

The wait for another installment of WWDC is nearly over. I'm less frothy about this year because I'm really not in the market for any Apple hardware. I do however have an interest in the software announcements.

Leopard will be huge. I can't wait to see what must haves will come with it. Not, an Apple product, but I'm hoping for Delicious Library 2.0. I picked up a copy during their recent gambler's sale for $20. I scanned in all my DVDs with my iSight and I'm loving it. I'm hoping for much improved integration with iTunes before tackling my CD collection.

Speaking of, the area that I'm really hoping for improvements is iLife. I've drank the iLife kool-aid. Apple has pulled me in. I live on iPods and iTunes. I manage all of my photos through iPhoto. I've ordered multiple prints and made spectacular books using the tools in iPhoto. I dabble in GarageBand and iWeb, and hope to make use of iMovie and iDVD at some point.

My problem with iLife is the lack of support for an Apple family. I'm a good little Apple consumer. I have both a Mac mini and a MacBook. I use an Airport Express for my wireless network. Funny enough, I'd rather let the Airport Express be an extender for iTunes, but my Netgear AP died, and my Linksys one takes a dump any time Apple products are near. Back to my point. The problem is that I've bought in to iLife, but these machines are not capable of holding my iLife. Between all of my photos and music, I can easily suck down the entire drive, leaving no room for apps, email, and, uh, the OS.

iLife apps have the ability to have their libraries span volumes, but I really don't want to do that. The power of iTunes is letting go and letting it manage the library. I can't do that if I let it span volumes. You either let it manage, or you leave stuff wherever it may be. There is no hybrid mode. There needs to be!

Even worse, iLife supports sharing libraries among devices on your network. Sounds great, and works pretty well. I can play music from my Mac mini. I can see the photos. But edit a track rating, nope, can't do that. They are read-only on the sharing machine. I'm not given the choice to let my sharing machine modify meta data on the source. Why not? The permissions framework is there, no?

Going back to spanning volumes, I need to span machines. I want my library to make use of the hard drives in all of my computers. The point in having a Mac mini is desktop simplicity. If I have to go buy external hard drives to hang off of it, I might as well go back to my massive tower Dell.

I'm forever importing new photos in to iPhoto. Wouldn't it be nice if I could sort those in to albums from the living room on the MacBook. Nope, can't do that either. I can make new albums using the shared photos, but there's no easy way to keep those sync'ed back to the source.

You'd think that .Mac and iSync would offer some help here, but it is minimal. I can sync my bookmarks and their order in Safari just fine, but it won't sync the RSS counts on the smart bookmarks. Details, please pay attention to the details.

So, have I grown beyond iLife? Do I need some sort of prosumer version of iTunes and iPhoto or does Apple just need to buckle down and reward its customers that have purchased multiple computers? This seems like a problem that plenty of people experience, or will.

So maybe I do want to see some hardware at WWDC. I want to see the iVault come true. It is a mockup from an Apple imagination contest and it could be the main library for all of my data. Add in the approved changers features that I'm begging for in iLife and I'm all set.

I'm sure Mr. Jobs is ironing his turtleneck for tomorrow. I can't wait.


5 of The Now

Stay away from these tracks if you don't like naughty words :) A few of them have buckets of them.

  • Bassbin Twins - Whoa It would be pretty tough to track down a press of this. Not to set expectations too high, but this track has
    energy. Luckily, you can hear it in the latest Stone Lions podcast. I'm loving this mix. Grab it free! Setlist is available on the Marine Parade site. If you play this out, I hope you have insurance. Rip down the walls.

  • Stone Lions - Immigrant Heel, Claw and Toe Lovers - Whoah! Bootleg, mashup, wicked DJ mix. Whatever you want to call it, this thing is the real deal. Led Zeppelin, Evil Nine, the drums from Bell Biv DeVoe's Poison! Yes, you have to hear it to believe it. Again, check the Stone Lions podcast, or hear it alone at the Stone Lions Myspace.

  • Elisa - Time Elisa - Then Comes the Sun - Time I love the voice. I love the understated emptiness that allows this to be layered with other music for terrific effect.

  • Etienne de Crecy - F**k Étienne de Crécy - Commercial - EP - Fuck Love the flow. If you haven't slept throught the history of file sharing, you'll also want to check out the tracknames on their other release.

  • Brooklyn Funk Essentials - I Got Cash Brooklyn Funk Essentials - Make Them Like It - I Got Cash Class lyrics. Great delivery. Funk. "Go drown in a lake of Diet Coke, fu**a".