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Friday, May 13, 2011

One half of the Digital Cowboys, Alex Shaw, took recent aim on his show at geek on geek snobbery. In a brief screed against what he perceives as divisions within the geek subculture, Shaw (with his usual passionate but still thoughtfully measured approach) considers the hypocrisy of how folks who feel alienated themselves sometimes all too easily judge others that feel the same sting of ostracism.


For those unfamiliar with the Cowboys, Alex Shaw and Tony Atkins produce a weekly podcast on video games that also sometimes touches on other aspects of geek-related culture.


If Shaw’s rant piques your interest, you can find more of he and co-host Atkins’s musings on video games and video game culture at The Digital Cowboys web site. They are well worth a listen.  Digging in with episodes like their one on death in video games or one on sex in video games would be a good place to start and should give a pretty good idea of what they are all about.  In my estimation, they present some smart, engaging stuff.



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Monday, Apr 25, 2011
Apple has finished building their super-secret cloud based music monster.

Reuters is reporting that Apple has completed work on it’s online cloud service ahead of Google music. There has been long speculation about what Apple has been up to these past few years, after a flurry of activity which has included buying Lala.com, building data farms, and engaging in closed door talks with Sony, EMI, UMG, and WMG. 


The implications of this can be massive, as Google is still spinning it’s wheels trying to get a similar deal worked out with the four majors and will not be able to provide a rival service on their Android device. To date, those talks have not produced a deal, and by many accounts, they are not going to have an agreement in the near future. 


An iTunes locker/sharing service between multiple Apple devices will be a major step forward for the development of “cloud-based” music, bringing them far ahead of Amazon own 5GB locker service and even closer towards the music lover’s fantasy of a celestial jukebox.


Tagged as: amazon, apple, google, itunes
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Friday, Mar 25, 2011

Weird Al Yankovic dons a lab coat and gives us a lesson in the history of Auto-Tune. Like the carbon-based creatures that we are, Auto-Tune has its roots in primordial ooze.


That’s deep.


So forget all the snark you’ve heard about the software. You’ll relearn to respect your elders at the smarting end of Yankovic’s ruler, from Auto-tuned Winston Churchill to that oldy moldy Auto-Tunes over-user, T-Pain.



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Thursday, Mar 24, 2011
Audio quilt of YouTube videos allows online collaboration.

Darren Solomon spends his days writing music for commercials, TV and movies at Big Foote Music + Sound, working with many top session musicians in New York City. Another outlet is his cool electro pop band, Science for Girls, which incorporates a handful of singer/songwriters from the area. Lately, he has also created an online collaboration for anyone anywhere to join in composing a musical piece. InBFlat.net is a collection of 20 YouTube videos by professional musicians as well as everyday enthusiasts, using a wide array of instruments. Solomon set the parameters based on a 1960s minimalist composition called “In C” by Terry Riley. Here, each video is under two minutes long and in the brass-friendly key of B flat. The webpage features performance by musicians all over the globe playing traditional trumpet, clarinet and guitar along with non-traditional pairings such as harmonium and synthesizers, even a Nintendo DS. The human voice is also part of the plan, both the spoken word and sung vocals. By choosing a few or all 20, a visitor can create their own piece of music as well as controlling the mix by adjusting the volume of each video. 


In a recent interview with NPR, Solomon explains that the idea came after learning how YouTube allows 20 videos to play simultaneously. To bring people together online who normally wouldn’t be in the same room had its appeal as well. He calls it his digital Web 2.0 tribute to Riley, yet this project is another example of how the internet has further expanded the simple notion of collaboration.


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Friday, Mar 4, 2011
Spotify continues to make U.S. users hold out for a future that hasn’t arrived... yet.

“We expect that Spotify will launch in the United States in the next few months.” Sound familiar? How about, “We are confident that Spotify will launch by the end of the year”? Whether it’s a Daniel Ek keynote speech at South by Southwest or some other Spotify spokesperson speaking to the press, the promise of certain arrival of Spotify in the U.S. has been regurgitated again and again, with few results, much to the chagrin of techies and music lovers in the United States. 


For over three years now, U.S. music consumers and fans have been left to salivate while over 16 million European users have been freely enjoying one of the greatest music apps on the planet. As each year passes, devotees in the U.S. silently wonder, “will this be the year that Spotify finally comes to America?” Well, as it is shaping up, 2011 might finally be that year.


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