March 11, 2007

This is no longer the blog you're looking for

I'm in the process of moving over to a new (and all my own) domain: and I'll be using different blogging software. The new blog address is:, which ought to be easy enough to remember.

It'll take a bit for the posts to get over, as it seems you can't import the new blogger with Wordpress, which is annoying. At least it'll give me something to do.

March 10, 2007

HDR Saturday Sunday

Yesterday I was occupied by work and then playing 1830, and I lacked the time to do an HDR post. Here's an extra picture for the delay:

This image would be significantly more striking if the vignette effect was lessened, or removed entirely. I love that the blue of the cables and the muted blue of the sky are the only colors, but the darkness at the edges makes them too prominent, almost making them the only interesting features of the picture, rather than the most interesting.

This is another that I don't really like. The water looks really crisp which leads me to believe that this really isn't true HDR, as I understand it. Anything in motion captured at different times will, when a composite image is formed, look blurry. This image looks to be an HDR composed of one photo, whose exposure levels have been played with, rather than multiple photos of different exposure. Also, it's more than a bit boring, even with cliffs, water and the potential for imminent doom.

I love the blurriness of the tree branches in this one; they lend a wonderful sense of the ethereal, and make for a nice contrast to the placid, mirror-like water. All the reds in the lower right draw my eye, even when I'm focused elsewhere, making me feel that there's something across the lake that I'm not supposed to know about.

I love how the black and purple clouds with the couple hints of dark blue behind. A really neat, striking, eerie image.

March 07, 2007

What I did today

A while back I made a database of my CD collection and I sent out a pdf to my friends with all the pertinent information, and a promise to loan them anything they might want to listen to. Some of them, I knew, would have little idea about some, or most, of the artists. Blithely, and it seems stupidly, I figured they'd ask me about the ones of which they knew nothing.

So today, with a lot of help from the source code of Mike Kozlowski's booklog, I started writing up a page with some recommendations. Of course my total lack of knowledge of how to write a great decent looking web page made this a longer process than I had envisioned. I got as far as getting the template down, and I learned a lot about how IE is broken, and how Mozilla and Opera are Very Nice Indeed.

Anyway, the page is here. I'd appreciate any feedback, even if it's along the lines of "stop copying! you're an untalented hack."

Internet Radio Royalties to Increase

Later this afternoon a congressional hearing regarding the new decision by the Copyright Royalty Board, part of the Library of Congress, to raise the "performance" rates for songs listened to over the Internet. I admit straight out that I know little of the full spectrum of the situation, but this bit from Broadcast Law Blog is more than a might bit chilling for anyone thinking about setting up any form of online radio station:

In a 100 page decision, the Board essentially adopted the royalty rate advanced by SoundExchange (the collective that receives the royalties and distributes the money to copyright holders and performers) in the litigation. It denied all proposals for a percentage of revenue royalty (including a proposal that SoundExchange itself advanced)emphasis mine

A bit later in the same article, it's noted that there's a minimum $500 fee per channel, but that the exact definition of a channel is not provided. With that (lack of) information, I can see why Pandora founder Tim Westergren sent out an email to Pandora users asking them to call their respective congressperson to "save internet radio." Say, for instance, that every person is allocated one "channel" on Pandora (it could be worse, each station a person has, I have five, could be listed as a channel), therefore, each person who has a Pandora account is costing Pandora $500 per year, even if only one song is listened to.

This isn't just a problem for Pandora, and the like, it's a problem for any person with an idea for how to make more music more accessible to more people. It raises the barrier of entry for anyone who would like to try sharing, legally, and for short times broadcasting music with anyone who might enjoy it. Even though I don't agree with the idea that a "Free Market" is the ideal way to handle every interaction of society, culture, and business, a move to impede the entry of new ideas into the market certainly is not in the best interests of those who the market, and the government (whose job it is to make sure that the market is indeed free, like speech, not beer, serve.

Business ultimately serve us. Our Government serves us. Remind them.

March 04, 2007


Once again, my favorite webcomic featuring math and an unrelenting fear of velociraptors absolutely nails it:

Half Price Books and Records

One of my greatest pleasures is nosing about in a bookstore. It even becomes an affordable pastime when the store in question has, features even, used books. Today I found Half Price Books where I bought eight books for about $30, and I put at least three books back on the shelf because I knew that a)I'd be back sometime and b)I really didn't plan for any sort of spending spree, so my wallet would look at me in askance if I lightened it too much.

The store doesn't have the charm of Myopic Books in Wicker Park, but the selection of SF seemed to be stronger and in less space. When I was last at Myopic, they didn't have any John M. Ford, Debra Doyle & James MacDonald, or Sean Stewart; books of all those authors were among those placed back for later pick-up. In the case of Ford and Doyle & MacDonald, I was already buying novels from then, and for Stewart, well, I own three of his already and read three others besides. I am thoroughly pleased, except for the niggling feeling I get whenever I shop at a multi-state chain store, which this place surely is.

March 03, 2007

From the Music Library Vol 1

In order to best avoid working any further on Trig, I present the first in a continuing series of navel-gazing with the assistance of my music library. First up: the 10 most played songs as recorded by Winamp.

1. The Dresden Dolls - The Jeep Song
Play count: 168
Best Moment: The riff on Paint It Black where Amanda sings "I see your red Jeep and want to paint it black."

2. Smoking Popes - Need You Around
Play count: 141
This song absolutely nails the way you can feel helpless when you want someone when they don't want you, but without all the horribly mopey music that those songs generally have.

3. The Dresden Dolls - Half Jack
Play count: 135
I don't know how this song crept up so high. It's good, but it's not the second best song on the album, a distinction I'd give to Gravity, followed shortly by Good Day. And the fact that it's the longest song (nearly six minutes) in my top 10 makes the placement a bit surprising, too.

3. The Postal Service - Nothing Better
Play count: 135
A delightfully bouncy bit of music paired with a very nicely done duet and Ben Gibbard's usually outstanding lyrics. Best line: "I've made charts and graphs/that should finally make it clear/I've prepared a lecture/On why I have to leave"

5. The Dresden Dolls - Gravity
Play count: 134
This is the song that really got me listening to the Dresden Dolls. The vocals start with an entrancing rhythm and it's performed with a wonderful sense of theater and a modulating chorus, a feature that gets me pretty often. Best line: "If I could attack with a more sensible approach/obviously that's what I'd be doing"

6. Anna Waronker - John & Maria
Play count: 120
This has a similar feel to Nothing Better, but with a more plaintive air and a bit more experience. The opening "I wish this was my first time/I wish this was true love" hooks me.

7. The Mountain Goats - Your Belgian Things
Play count: 107
John Darnielle is hands-down awesome. So is "I shot a roll of 32 exposures/my camera groans beneath the weight it bears"

8. Death Cab for Cutie - I Will Follow You Into the Dark
Play count: 105
This song and Liz Phair's Perfect World are my two favorite songs where you can hear the sliding of fingers on the strings during chord changes, an effect that adds intimacy and heartbreak to the songs. With clever lyrics the whole song through, only the relative newness of the song kept this from being higher on the list.

8. Magnetic Fields - I Looked All Over Town
Play Count: 105
That this is the first Stephin Merritt song is surprising for two reasons. 1) I'd have figured the Magnetic Fields would have a higher spot on the countdown and 2) that this and not All My Little Words or Busby Berkeley Dream is the first appearance. Still though, a really good song and it's about sad clowns.

10. Future Bible Heroes - Kiss Me Only With Your Eyes
Play Count: 103
The biggest surprise of the list, because I've had it for the least amount of time by multiple months. Also, for the reasons stated for my surprise regarding I Looked All Over Town. It is just about the perfect song for Claudia Gonson, and belongs with Come Back From San Fransisco and Reno Dakota as songs that just work for her voice.

Honorable Mention: Magnetic Fields - All My Little Words (play count: 100)

A girl that I never got to date figures rather significantly in this list, having introduced me to the Smoking Popes and, by not dating me and having a rather identifiable car, giving The Jeep Song a lot of resonance. She also gets a portion of the credit for All My Little Words being the only song out of the top 10 to crack 100 listens; the sheer awesomeness of Stephin Merritt gets the rest of the credit.

Super HDR Saturday

In order to generate something vaguely like consistent content, I'm going to implement at least one weekly feature: Super HDR Saturdays. BoingBoing has posted a couple of times about HDR (High Dynamic Range) photography, where an image is composed of multiple shots whose only variance is the amount of exposure allowed. The effects are astounding. Every Saturday I'll post three of my favorites.

March 01, 2007

There's a reason to live in Texas, even for an avowed Cowboys-hater such as I, and that reason is Austin. Even more specifically, SXSW (South-by-Southwest), a nine day event of movies and music. Just trying to read through the list of bands made my eyes glaze over, and had my (non-existent) tail wagging.

I'd love to go one year. Hell, I'd live in Austin year-round just so that I'd not have to make a special trip to Texas to go to this. Happily, they've just released a bit of promo material. 3.05 gigs worth. 739 songs. Seriously. This is just the first bit of promo material. It looks like the next bit will be movie snippets, which is of far less interest to me. But seriously, 739 songs. For free, most likely unladen with DRM.

The torrent file is here

Bliss. Well, delayed bliss. Stupid Ameritech.