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Archive for October, 2008

Looking for new music?

October 30, 2008 1 comment

I recently came across a wonderful site for all those looking for a fresh taste in their musical mouths.  We all know what we like, the trouble is finding other things we like without suffering through hours of tunes that make our ears bleed.  Using artists/bands that you already know, this site recommends things that you might also like.  Based on your entry of three artists you enjoy, the site generates something like 20 recommendations (one at a time) that you may or may not know.  The site gathers feedback about whether you like, dislike, or don’t know the recommendation continually gathering data about people’s like tastes in music.  The site is www.gnoosic.com.
The only shortcoming is that you cannot preview the suggested tunes on this site.  However, paired up with a site like www.grooveshark.com, you can spend days uncovering new favourites you never would have otherwise known.

Use this power wisely my friends.

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Categories: EnterTAINTment, Music

Phones, Pods and i

October 29, 2008 1 comment

Have you noticed no one under the age of 30 says MP3 anymore? Nor do they say MP3 player. It’s all I’ve got the download this and iPod/iPhone that. Even if you don’t have an iPod and have different branded player… I don’t know anyone who doesn’t have an iPod and I certainly don’t know anyone who will openly admit to having a Zune. I must admit that as far as current techmology goes the iPhone is pretty swanky. With this space-aged gizmo I can obsessively check my email, settle bets using wikipeida, Google Map stuff and play the same (easy) demo of Labyrinth over and over again. All I need to do is say “Yo, let me use your iPhone for a minute.” It works out quite well for the most part and costs nothing more than a little bit of that person’s friendship for me being a moochy-mc-mooches-too-much.

Back on a serious note, the iPhone is the ultimate contraption and means serious business. It’s more awesome than a 10¢ moustache ride! So much so that it’s too much for me to handle. WAY too much. What it provides is exactly what I want, but excessively more than I need. What I need is to not have a gadget of infinite distraction at my finger tips. As I’m sure you know, literally everything is controlled by the fingertips! Touch Screen Baby! Ever since seeing Minority Report I’ve wanted screens to touch, push and pull on every whim. The iPhone is foreshadowing all of this…sans Tom Cruise. It’s truly exciting!

 

The problem is the internet. I love the Internet. I always have. I lack discipline. I always have. I love wikipedia. It’s a recent thing, but I always will. Have I mentioned that I love the Internet? I spend exponentially more time at work on the Internets (all of them) than I do working. (And yes, of course I am writing this at work now.) In university I would spend most of my days online. Doing what? Not really sure. Same thing I do now, I suppose. Browsing. Reading things. Not a big video watcher, more of a reader and link follower (aside: RSS feeds = super awesome). I don’t need all of this on the go. Imagine being an alcoholic (but you know…the awesome kind): sure you may want a drink most of the time but doing so might lessen the experience of something you’re doing at the time, like driving to the bar. It’s nice to focus on the moment sometimes – experience the human experience and leave the internet behind.

But I digress. I suppose technology only gets “bigger and better” going forward. My current self-proclaimed techmology ‘needs’ are a phone and an iPod. I use my phone primarily for text messaging and most calls I have are wrapped up in less than 90 seconds – I’m not a phone guy. I’ve got a 5th gen iPod video with an adequate amount of space to keep all the staples and some flavours of the day without having to add and remove too frequently. The iPhone sounds like the perfect solution but the sum of its parts is greater than the whole once the interweb is factored in:

Phone x iPod x Internet = iPhone

My needs are more modest than that:

Phone + iPod = iPho?

As I’ve tried to explain I don’t want the internet. Huh? What’s that? No, no, no, now YOU are being the silly one. You see I cannot get an iPhone and disable/not pay for the internet; what an absurd proposal! Without the awesome power the 3G I would be reduced to an obsession of finding wifi hotspots. Self control is a non-negotiable option. What I need is a phone with a gratuitous amount of memory for me to use as a portable music device, preferably one that looks like an apple branded product but is only functional as a phone and iPod. This guy is onto something.

So now I am wondering whether I’d be better off to love and lose (my soul or the iPhone itself – anything is possible) than to never love at all. I certainly wouldn’t want to get to the same state of obsession as this other guy. As I have said, I am content with not having one at the moment, at least with respect to functionality. I also don’t have the cash for one. There is an upside – now I’m old-school with my ‘retro’ devices. That’s cool too, right? So from now on when I get lost I will have to make do with googling from my cell phone to help me get to where I want to go, touch-screen technology will remain just out of reach and I certainly won’t be as cool as the people walking down the street who talk on their iPhones with ear-bud in and hold the phone up like a microphone. Can you really put a price tag on that brand of cool?

I want one.

I want one.

The Steady Stream

October 29, 2008 1 comment

 

There once were two small beetles who each wished to reach the beach where food was plentiful and the sun always shone.  One day they decided to fashion themselves vessels so that they might float along to where the stream joined the sea.  The first beetle chose himself a large, dry leaf, cupped ideally for the purpose of floating.  The second beetle was far more rash and impatient.  Wanting to reach the beach more quickly, he searched and searched until he finally found the perfect vessel to slice quickly through the water—a narrow twig. 

On the appointed day, each beetle pushed their craft from the shore and set off upon their way.  The first beetle lay comfortably in his leaf, enjoying the fluid motions of the current.  The second beetle, however, grew more and more impatient at the fact that all of his hard work was for naught as he found himself floating along at the same speed as the other beetle.  Not wanting to be proven wrong, the beetle began frenetically paddling his wooden craft through the water.  Exhausted from his paddling, he did not even notice the jagged rock in the middle of the stream.  As the twig struck the stone, the beetle was hurled into the water, never to be seen again…

Parables aside, I would dare say every one of us who has experienced stagnantly idling in heavy traffic at one point or another.  It is infuriating to say the least, not to mention the vexing people one is forced to endure while in the midst of such a scrum.  Watching drivers weave from lane to lane, it occurred to me what a futile effort this must be.  Cars, as a whole, cannot go faster than the flow of traffic.  If traffic moves more quickly, everyone stands to benefit.
            Anyone familiar with Economics has likely become acquainted with the Prisoner’s Dilemma.  In short, this scenario states that one cannot predict the behaviour of others.  Consequently, people working in their own best interests will render the best outcome for everyone.  On the contrary, it seems that this self-serving behaviour is in fact the cause of at least some of our problems. 

Given the congestion on our major thoroughfares, if one person, acting in their own interests, changes lanes and forces another person to brake, this will force the car behind the braking car to brake and so on.  As tightly packed and impatient as we are, it seems that most of us resent anyone seemingly getting ahead, and will go to great lengths, risking life and limb, to box the other car out.  Merging traffic is a perfect example of this behaviour (N.b. Tolerance aside, drivers who breeze by merging opportunities, forcing their way in at the front of the line in an attempt to pick up a few extra car lengths create the aforementioned issue, and as such should be dealt with accordingly).  Thus, by acting in our own self interest in fact we inadvertently slow the flow of traffic as a whole, and ‘round and ‘round the cycle goes.  Cars cannot move faster than the flow of traffic, just as a twig cannot travel faster than the flow of the stream, or so it seems to me.

Categories: Opinions

Time won’t save your Soul

October 21, 2008 2 comments

Time.  We have all experienced time flying, racing against time, buying, saving, making, and stopping time. Much of our lives and attention seems devoted to this construct of Time.  We have created a watchdog, a sage figure in Father Time, who meticulously monitors the spilling sands in the hourglass of our lives until the last grain has tumbled.  Our lives oft seem spent in a frenetic scramble to preserve our most valuable commodity.

But is Time a worthwhile concern?  Much of our culture has been shaped be our preoccupation with time.  We have devised complex methods and devices by which to preserve our precious time.  But how much extra time do we have?  Shouldn’t it then seem, given all our time saving gadgetry, that we have lots of time to do the things that we actually love and want to do?

It seems puzzling that as a society we seem to spend vast amounts of energy, money, and time in the pursuit of more time.  Racing from place to place in a caffeine fuelled fury, we scramble to accomplish errands, tasks, and routines that need to be completed each day.  Exhausting.  Can we even say we are any happier and more fulfilled for having run this race?     

Spending time.  Isn’t that all we are really capable of doing?  We spend our time doing whatever it is, be it what we are currently doing, what we have to do, or what we actually choose to do.  We don’t have many choices on this matter.  Shouldn’t we then enjoy what we are doing? 

An idea that I have come to know recently, by way of a short book entitled The Tao of Pooh, speaks to this issue.  The author, Benjamin Hoff, tells of Taoist ideas with the help of Winnie-the-Pooh and friends.  Of particular note to this conversation is the suggestion that we should appreciate the process behind the things that we do on a daily basis.  Enjoy the process and take pride in what it is that we are doing, from putting away laundry to washing dishes.  I think we are often not very concerned with what we are doing rather than with what else we could be doing.   Odd to think much of my precious time was not appreciated but instead spent resisting my current circumstances.  An ironic waste of time, don’t you think?

                                                             

Categories: Opinions

The Myth of the Adult

October 8, 2008 1 comment

I am halfway through my 25th year of life. I look in the mirror at my eyes surrounded by wrinkles and sinking into bags.  I don’t quite resemble a raccoon but the pigment around them is darker than the pale complexion of the rest of my face.  I feel exhausted most of the time and cannot decide whether I truly feel tired or whether I am just bored.

It seems like just yesterday that I looked at the world with a great deal of wonder and through a more vigorous lens. Classmates in schools shared the same excitement writing essays about ‘What I want to be when I grow up’ and later ‘How I can help change the world when I become a [insert desired career here]’.  It was as if we were told that so many of the questions of our young lives would be answered by simply deciding upon a profession and to have a career in it.  

I am 25 and I have more questions than I’ve ever had.  I’ve decided on a profession and while my career is young it is blooming.  It is not fulfilling in the way I thought it would be. I am not anxious about bills, nor do I have much debt, yet I am worried.  I look around with my tired adult eyes and see that this concern is shared by many my age and in my generation.

I see that as a child I was taught that the adult is mature, self-assured and can be relied upon.  It seems now that I look around only to find that these adults were really children all along.  Where there was a sandbox there is now an office, a construction site or an airplane cockpit.  Rumours circulate from one ear to another via email or telephone call.  Small differences spark arguments and eventually wars where once there was a schoolyard fight.

I am no better than the next ‘adult’.  I ignore the kid crying on the corner with a bloody nose the same as the next passerby. I jingle change in my pocket when I walk up to the beer store as excitedly as I once did when approaching the convenience store for candy.  I toss a few pennies into the Unicef collection tin this October and a memory forces guilt upon me – when I was a kid I wore a box around my neck for that same company on Halloween night.  Not out of duty but because the school had the program.  I boasted about my eight bags of candy to the other kids at school the next day.

I am that same silly child I always was.  I see that these ‘adults’ around us are children too – just of different generations.  The contentedness I observed was not what I thought it was.  Our taste in candy has simply changed.

Categories: Opinions
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