I added this to my link feed earlier today, but since this is a slow blogging week for me, I figured I’d share it here, too. If you enjoy the acoustic guitar, then check out this YouTube video of guitarist Andy McKee.
The Hype Machine RSS Feeds
Jason Calacanis just pointed to The Hype Machine, a free service which tracks MP3 blogs and builds a list of MP3 links that are downloadable by a podcatcher such as FeedStation.
Even better, they offer RSS feeds of their search results. If you’re using FeedDemon, simply perform a Hype Machine search from within FeedDemon’s browser, then click on FeedDemon’s autodiscovery icon after it lights up to subscribe to the search results.
Every item in the feed includes links to both Amazon and iTunes, where you can purchase the music (I’ve already purchased a CD I didn’t know existed thanks to the Amazon links). One big missing feature, though, is Creative Commons license information – it would be nice to see that added in the future.
My 2006 Favorites
Yep, I’m joining the ranks of bloggers who write about their favorite pop culture releases of the past year. Sad, isn’t it?
This one’s easy: Stadium Arcadium is hands-down my favorite album of the year. I agree with Fred Wilson that this double album would’ve been better if it was pared down to a single CD, but figuring out which songs to remove would’ve been tricky because even the weakest tracks are enjoyable. I’ve witnessed many of my favorite bands disintegrate or turn into caricatures of themselves in the 15 years since I graduated from college. Not so with the Chili Peppers – this album shows them getting better with age.
Honorable mention: The Beatles Love. The mashups are hit-and-miss, but the CD is worth its weight in gold for the digitally remastered versions of “A Day in the Life,” “Revolution” and “I Am the Walrus” (three of my all-time favorite songs).
United 93 was the film that had the biggest impact on me this year. I initially avoided this movie because I mistakenly thought it was a cheap attempt to cash in on 9/11, but now I wish I would’ve seen it while it was still in theaters. United 93 is more respectful to history than any film I can remember, and it moved me much more than I expected it to.
Honorable mention: An Inconvenient Truth. I watched Al Gore’s presentation on global warming two weeks ago, and it was an eye-opener – especially since I stepped outside after viewing it and discovered it was 70°F (definitely not the norm here for the middle of December). That’s like hearing a banjo right after watching Deliverance.
And I’ll give a second honorable mention to Monster Road, a documentary released on DVD this year about the bizarre world of animator Bruce Bickford. If you like weird movies, this will be right up your alley.
It’s rare that I have time for video games these days, and when I do play it’s usually something like Unreal Tournament. But this year my favorite game was a little different: Lego Star Wars II. My son saved up for this game over the summer, and the day he bought it we played it together for six hours straight. I doubt I’d enjoy playing Lego Star Wars II by myself, but playing it with a seven-year-old was an absolute blast.
Honorable mention: GameTap. Alright, so it’s not actually a video game – it’s a video game service. After signing up for GameTap, I downloaded a ton of classic games like Zaxxon and Joust. It was fun to wax nostalgic over the quarter-munchers I played in the arcade when I was a kid.
I read a lot of blogs, but Creating Passionate Users is one of the few that causes me to drop everything when it has a new post. I can’t say I’m always happy to read what Kathy Sierra has to say, though – all too often she points out mistakes in software design and usability that I’ve been guilty of :)
Honorable mention: The Dilbert Blog. I’m not a huge fan of Scott Adams’ comic strip (I’ve worked at a few Dilbertesque companies, so I find the strip too realistic for my tastes), but his blog has caused more coffee to be spilled (or spurted) onto my keyboard than anything else I’ve read this year.
Yesterday Scott Johnson said that I rock because I’m an “old school” programmer (Scott – thanks for the kind words!).
Funny thing is, yesterday was my 39th birthday (yep, I’m one year away from the big four-oh) so it was kind of unnerving to hear that I’m old school already. But in the programming world, I guess I am old school – most of the coders I worked with in my twenties have either moved on to management positions or found another career. I can barely manage myself so management wasn’t an option for me, and I have no desire to get into another field, so I guess I’ll be coding until my fingers fall off.
Speaking of old school, the Red Hot Chili Peppers just put out the best album of their career. The double CD didn’t grab me immediately (too many mid-tempo songs back-to-back), but now I can’t stop listening to it (and I may never get “Storm in a Teacup” out of my head). Given that the Chili Peppers’ lead singer is five years older than I am, I figure I can say my best work is ahead of me, too :)
What was I thinking?
Year of the Concert
When I was a long-haired teenager, going to rock concerts was among my favorite things to do (I admit it, I grew up in Wayne’s World). But my concert attendance has slipped since then – these days, I’m lucky if I see one show a year. Well, this year I decided to change that.
Shortly after my ugly surgery I saw Green Day on their American Idiot tour, and that was a great show. This weekend I’m going to a Sevendust concert, and a week from now I’ll see Wilco (I’m really looking forward to that one). And I plan to see several more before the year’s end.
But as much as I know I’ll enjoy these shows, they’ll probably pale in comparison to the time I took my son to see Rush. He was just a hair shy of five years old at the time, and we both had a blast. That was the first time I got to really share something with him that I liked, and it was great to see him enjoying it, too. Yeah, I know – he was a bit young to see a rock concert. But I figure popular culture will try to corrupt him with soulless pop songs performed by surgically-enhanced celebrities, so I might as well get him started on the right foot by taking him to a show where the musicians write their own songs and play their own instruments.
One way or another, people will talk to you
Although I use – and love – the iTunes/iPod combination, it bothers me how Apple continues to be opaque. At a time when a number of companies (including Microsoft, but not, I should add, Google) have made themselves more transparent by opening themselves up via blogging, Apple keeps everything close to their chest.
That’s their decision, of course, but it ignores the fact that customers will find ways to talk to you. For example, take a look at this screenshot from iTunes which shows how people are creating iMixes for the sole purpose of letting Apple know which bands they want added to iTunes.
Customers are subverting the iMix feature in order to provide feedback to Apple – feedback which wouldn’t even be necessary if Apple just let everyone know that they’d love to offer bands like The Beatles and Led Zeppelin on iTunes, but they’re still haggling over the details with the record companies and/or their lawyers.
One way or another, customers will talk to you (and if that fails, they’ll talk about you instead).
Update: In the comments for this post, Eric Dolecki points out that Apple has a request music form on their site.
Music to Code By
Like many developers I enjoy listening to music while coding, and my musical selection changes depending on what I’m working on. When I’m in mad scientist mode and can’t seem to make my fingers type fast enough to keep up with me, I put on some variety of loud, obnoxious music to keep me going. But I usually put on something more subdued when I’m in bug fixing mode – which is the mode I’m in right now.
During my latest round of bug fixing I’ve been listening to an instrumental band called Shark Quest a lot, especially their latest CD Gods and Devils (which, btw, is available on iTunes). It’s perfect for more thoughtful coding, too.
So, how about you? What do you listen to while working?
Zappa on iTunes
As some of you know, I’m a bit of a Frank Zappa fan. So I was pleasantly surprised this morning to discover that 48 Frank Zappa albums are now available on iTunes. Given that Zappa himself proposed a very iTunes-like idea way back in 1983, it’s about time his work appeared on iTunes.
If you haven’t listened to Zappa before, it can be duanting figuring out where to start – partly because he was so prolific, but also because so much of his stuff is crap (yeah, I know I’ll get dinged by Zappa-heads for that, but it’s true). So here’s an iMix I created which I hope will be a good introduction to his music.
I should warn readers that Zappa wasn’t exactly politically correct, so he’s not for the easily-offended. If you’d rather skip his sometimes raunchy lyrics, try this iMix of Zappa instrumentals instead.
Update: Sadly, Zappa is no longer available on iTunes – here’s why.
Wow. I never expected Green Day would put out an album as great as this. I’ve been listening to it practically non-stop for three days.