May 29, 2009

Welcome to the machine

"Welcome to the Machine"
Wish You Were Here (1975)
Pink Floyd

God, I've been on a synthesizer kick lately.

The sound of the future

From Make Magazine:
The Telharmonium was a 200-ton behemoth that created numerous musical timbres and could flood many rooms with sound.

Beginning with the first instrument, constructed in the 1890's, and continuing with the installation of the second instrument at Telharmonic Hall in New York, the rise and fall of commercial service, the attempted comeback of the third Telharmonium, and ending with efforts to find a home for the only surviving instrument in 1951, this documentary provides a definitive account of the first comprehensive music synthesizer.
Watch the video at Make

May 28, 2009

ABBA doesn't have anything on this dude


While ze Germans usually hog all the credit for pioneering electronic music in the 60s and 70s, there was actually a rainbow coalition of northern European nutballs contributing to the rich cosmisch stew that eventually got strained down into "krautrock." Sweden's Ralph Lundsten is just one of those balls.

Raised in a tiny town north of the arctic circle, Ralph was composing quasi-religious ambient space jams on his homemade analog synths back when Kraftwerk's ancestors were still banging on bongos. These days he lives in a castle outside of Stockholm that houses all the experimental instruments he's invented over the years (including the DIMI-S, or "Sexaphone," which produces tones based on how you feel) as well as Andromeda, his space-age recording studio which looks like the control room for planet earth. It's also its very own micro-nation, which is like a regular nation but cuter! (And less internationally recognized!)

In this edition of Motherboard, VBS get our passports stamped at the Andromeda Galaxy Embassy and are welcomed into Ralph's little personal country.

Motherboard - Ralph Lundsten's Andromeda Galaxy

May 27, 2009

Canada's governor eats seal heart

Canada's governor general, Michaelle Jean, has helped to butcher and eat a seal in an apparent act of solidarity with hunters.
Ms Jean used a traditional Inuit knife to help gut the animal then ate a slice of raw heart.
It came weeks after the EU voted to ban Canadian seal products, but Ms Jean did not say if her actions were in response to the EU proposals.
An EU spokeswoman said the story was "too bizarre to acknowledge".
The governor general is the representative of Canada's head of state, Queen Elizabeth II.
Ms Jean was touring northern Canadian communities and was at a festival at Rankin Inlet on Monday attended by hundreds of Inuit when she ate the seal heart.
Asked later if her actions were a message to the EU, she said: "Take from it what you will."
Via the BBC

Thanks to fellow blogger Andrea for the heads up.

May 26, 2009

Texting May Be Taking a Toll

They do it late at night when their parents are asleep. They do it in restaurants and while crossing busy streets. They do it in the classroom with their hands behind their back. They do it so much their thumbs hurt.
Spurred by the unlimited texting plans offered by carriers like AT&T Mobility and Verizon Wireless, American teenagers sent and received an average of 2,272 text messages per month in the fourth quarter of 2008, according to the Nielsen Company — almost 80 messages a day, more than double the average of a year earlier. The phenomenon is beginning to worry physicians and psychologists, who say it is leading to anxiety, distraction in school, falling grades, repetitive stress injury and sleep deprivation.

The New York Times

Guardrails for the Internet: Preserving Creativity Online

In March, an unfinished copy of 20th Century Fox's film X-Men Origins: Wolverine was stolen from a film lab and uploaded to the Internet, more than a month before its theatrical release. The studio investigated the crime, and efforts were made to limit its availability online. Still, it was illegally downloaded more than four million times.

That kind of wide scale theft was very much on my mind when I was on a panel the other day which opened with a question about the impact of the Internet on the entertainment business, and I responded, "I'm a guy who sees nothing good having come from the Internet. Period."

Now, the blogosphere does not take so kindly to provocations like that, and it didn't take long for online critics to compare my words with those of one of my Hollywood predecessors, H.W. Warner, who famously said, "Who the hell wants to hear actors talk?"

The Huffington Post

Users switch to online classifieds, leave papers in the dust

The web has spawned all sorts of popular online activities—social networking, video sharing, blogging—but one of the more mundane has quietly grown into a leviathan. The use of Internet classified ads has more than doubled since 2005, according (PDF) to the Pew Internet and American Life Project. And if you're looking for reasons why newspapers are struggling now, add online classifieds to the list.

According to Pew's research back in 2005, only 22 percent of online adults used classified ads like those on Craigslist. That number grew to 49 percent in April 2009, with nine percent visiting classified sites every day.

At the same time, Pew notes that classified ad revenue for traditional newspapers has plummeted. Back in 2000, newspapers made almost $20 billion from classified ads. In 2005, they still earned a healthy $17 billion. But in 2008, newspapers earned about $10 billion from classifieds.

The reason for this is undoubtedly due to the demographics of online classified ad users. Young adults aged 24-44 who are moving to new cities, looking for jobs, finding roommates, or buying/trading goods are "significantly more likely" than any other group to use online classified ads—even more likely than 18-24 year-olds. Predictably, college students and those who live in urban (or suburban) environments are also more likely to use classifieds than their rural counterparts.

Past Pew research has also shown that these age groups are shifting their overall focus to online news instead of traditional news outlets. In December 2008, Pew reported that young Internet users had begun looking to the Internet as their primary news source in large numbers—59 percent, compared to 34 percent in September 2007.

It's no surprise, then, that ads posted by younger users would move from one medium to another, though such a shift has drawn new attention to some of the less savory aspects of the classified section.

ars technica