serendipitous reflections

Friday, November 28, 2008

More music thoughts

OK, sorry for all the music talk. Greg made an interesting comment about how the iPod trend has changed how we listen to music. I agree with Greg a lot about how music has changed. I know a lot of my favorite songs are the odd ones on the CD that most people don't listen to, or that get no radio play. This article talks about how music recording has changed, too (an old link from a post a while back that is worth revisiting).

The proprietary nature of the iTunes music format used to bother me, until I realized that everyone is doing it (maybe because of iTunes, maybe not). I was offered some free downloads through some perk (airline miles, credit card points -- can't remember) but to play them I had to download their player (something junky), so I downloaded it, burned the songs to disc, and ripped them back into my format of choice. Windows Media Player gives us wmp files, not mp3 (although wmp can be played on other devices, which I think is Greg's point). Than again, Apple has always been proprietary with their stuff, which was almost their downfall in the late 80s/early 90s. But I digress.

What I do like about the evolution of how music is delivered is that I now do have access to music that I otherwise might not have been exposed to. I can download Human Radio's unreleased second album (although the link has gone bad), or go to the Fabulist and get exposed to bands that I might never listen to (some good, some bad, but still music), or get Ben Folds' fake leaked album. And some bands, like Coldplay, that I like one or two songs, but have learned that the rest just fade on the album, I can get those songs without having to buy them all. (Greg, I remember you bought Extreme's album for "More Than Words" just to realize how bad the album really was.)

But like Greg said, "Technology is not making our lives any easier. It's just raising expectations, speeding everything up, and dumbing us all down."

I see the impact on the upcoming generation, where we are more connected, yet less interpersonal. Back when Y2K was rolling around, I wondered if it would really be all that bad if we had to go without all our technology for a while. I think I'll put my iPod on, tune out, and think about that for a while.

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Thursday, November 20, 2008

Zero attention span radio

I used to blame They Might Be Giants for my loss of attention span when it comes to music, with songs like Rabid Child (19 seconds), you get used to a song starting and stopping quickly. And now, with the iPod and XM radio I can jump from song to song, genre to genre, quickly -- it's hard to make it through an entire song anymore.

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Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Getting caught up in the reviews

As I mentioned a few posts ago, Jeni's Palm Pilot (which I had "acquired") died on me. I've been looking at the other Palm Pilots. I don't need one built into a phone, or with WiFi capability. So the Z22 looked like the best bet. I started reading the reviews and catch phrases started to get my attention: "suitable for first-time buyers and technophobes," "low-resolution screen" and "basic." And suddenly, with a bit of concern, I start thinking, "Do I need the next step up?" Then I found a reader review that brought me back to Earth, basically saying "it is what it is ... apparently, it won't walk my dog, either." And I realized I was getting caught up in the "features game" -- we want the best features we can get, and that is sometimes at the expense of function. The dead Palm had the features of the next model up, and you know what, I never used them. I used the basics. I'm not a technophobe or a beginner, but I also don't need to be able to play music and edit Word documents on my Palm. I just need to be able to find your phone number, be reminded of your birthday, and have it turn on when I push the button.

And that's my rambling for the day...


Thursday, November 13, 2008

XM shake-up

It looks like XM radio hit the shuffle button yesterday. A lot of our favorite channels appear to have moved, or disappeared, or changed names. I guess this is part of the XM-Sirius merger. When I checked online, I realized that the channels are still there, for the most part, but the names have changed. Just to satisfy myself, I also checked Sirius, and they changed some of their channels, too. But I agree with Doug, I liked the old Lucy, Fred and Ethel names, even if I didn't listen to them often. Not only were the teenagers upset about Flight26 becoming the Pulse, that's a nice change of pace for us too. Hopefully the changes are only in name, and not music selection. We did gain a Jimmy Buffet channel, a Grateful Dead channel, and a Big Hair Band channel, so maybe having to reset some presets will be worth it.


Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Biggest Loser

Biggest Loser almost lost us last night. Jeni and I have watched this show since season one, and it has always been an amazing adventure as you watch these people transform themselves and change their lives. Despite the competition aspect of the show and the elimination that occurs at the end of every episode, throughout the seasons the house has remained mostly supportive and positive. Until this season, at least, where a triumvirate of players, let by an overly cocky and smarmy Vicky, seemed positioned to steamroll the results of the game with "game play" and "alliances" the likes of Weakest Link, where the players got together with a majority and pretty much determined the outcome of the game before it started. Fortunately, one player (Amy) saw through this and upended the plans. Otherwise I think we would just jump to the end and watch the weigh-ins. This has been the least likeable group the show has put together since the show started. Unfortunately, having a bad guy to root against isn't making the show more fun, but instead is souring the goodness of the show.

And while I'm talking about TV shows, I'm sad about how un-funny Kath & Kim turned out to be, because I really like the cast. Still, as blah as the show is, I'd watch an entire season of Kath & Kim before I watched a second episode of Worst Week (aka Worst Show). Thank goodness for shows like Big Bang Theory, The Office, 30 Rock and Chuck.

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Thursday, November 06, 2008

PocketMod -- the old school Palm Pilot

Our Palm Pilot (an old Tungsten E) is on the fritz -- only powering on haphazardly and not syncing when it does come on. We'll have to get a new one, which I guess after five years is OK. I never realized how much I really needed the Palm until suddenly I didn't have it. At least all the major stuff is still on the computer. In the meantime, I'll just use a PocketMod to keep my mind in order.

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Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Sad day for Vols

It's funny, really, the way it was communicated, that Tennessee will "go in a different direction" with it's coaching staff next season, instead of saying that they are firing Coach Fulmer after 16 years as head coach and a .750 winning percentage. There's no denying that the 2008 season has not gone the way any UT fan would have liked, but I hate to see a good run end this way. As a fan, I've always been proud of the way that Fulmer's teams conducted themselves. They talk about how he was a mentor and how Tennessee is a family, and you could see it in the character of the players.

On a personal note, I appreciated his character and kindness when he had a chance to give some to us. When Jeni's Mom was sick, and her cancer was returning, a friend of her's wrote to Coach Fulmer. (Gary Williams, a coach from Jeni's high school, had played with Fulmer.) Coach Williams wanted to see if Fulmer could get Carolyn tickets for the UT/Alabama game since Jeni was at UT and Chris went to Alabama. Unfortunately he couldn't get her tickets, but he did write her a very nice, personal response, and even offered tickets to the homecoming game, which Carolyn turned down (she probably would have politely refused the Bama tickets, too, but the thought was very nice). We still have the letter. We never knew about it, really, until after Carolyn passed away and Coach Williams gave Jeni the letter he wrote, along with Phil's response.

We will definitely miss Phil Fulmer on the Tennessee sidelines. It is the end of an era. I just hope Tennessee doesn't start to resemble Notre Dame, Miami or Nebraska, once great schools with a revolving door in the coach's office.