Tuesday, May 24, 2005


Now I've heard there was a secret chord that David played, and it pleased the Lord
But you don't really care for music, do you?
-Leonard Cohen

Monday, May 23, 2005

But where are they?

One can do anything, anything at all, I thought, if provided with a passionate and gifted teacher.
-Mr. Pat Conroy

Sunday, May 22, 2005

DVD Formats

I purchased the Memorex Dual Format/Double Layer DVD Recorder yesterday for $59.99 after rebate from Fry's Electronics. Of course, I bought a Sony DVD-ROM drive like 3 months ago for roughly the same price from Best Buy :(. Live and learn.

The box says I can record a full DVD disc in approximately 7 minutes. I remember when it took approximately an hour to burn a full CD disc (back in 1998). A full single layer DVD disc is 4.7 GB -- where as a CD-R disc is 700 megs. I can burn 6.7 times the data nine times as fast.

The confusing part about purchasing a DVD burner is that there are all of these different capabilities (Memorex burn speeds are in paranthesis):

1. DVD+R (16x)
2. DVD-R (16x)
3. DVD+RW (8x)
4. DVD-RW (6x)
5. DVD+R9 (4x) <- this is the double layer So, great, looks like my drive supports just about every DVD format I've ever heard of (imagine how confusing this will be if the next generation DVD formats, e.g. blu-ray, don't get standardized). However, while I'm at Fry's I then wanted to know, which Disc format should I actually buy to work in the most DVD players (I eventually had to call a friend before buying a 50 disc package of DVD-Rs). Here's the skinny: http://www.manifest-tech.com/media_dvd/dvd_compat.htm#DVD-R/RW%20and%20DVD-RAM

I was really only interested in DVD-R vs. DVD+R, the link above says,

The DVD-R (Recordable) format is designed to fill much the same role with DVDs as CD-R does with CDs. It can be used to burn large data disks, and it is currently the most reliable media for burning DVD video to discs that can play back in set-top DVD players.

The DVD+R (Recordable) write-once format was defined more recently. DVD+R media and products are expected in Spring 2002. It appears that current DVD+RW drives unfortunately will not be able to write the new DVD+R media.

If you want to author DVDs, and need to be as compatible as possible with any DVD players that you might want to play them on, then go ahead with DVD-R. It works, and it will continue to work in the future. With the existing momentum, prices should remain stable and the format will not be obsolete tomorrow.

And luckily I purchased a 50 pack of DVD-Rs. However, I should note that the Memorex DVD Burner itself shipped with one DVD+R. So it looks like this is the format they are pushing.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Thoughts of the Curse Mixtape

Initial impressions of this quarter's mixtape challenge: lots of songs, lots of bad songs.

Top songs so far (that I had not heard before):
Joshua Radin - Girlfriend in the Coma
Bloc Party - This Modern Love
Christopher O'Riley - Black Star
KGBtv - rx

Wow, two covers. Joshua's cover of the Smiths is absolutely gorgeous. He has a delicate, soft voice and I really like his interpretation of this song. O'Riley's cover of Radiohead is from an album of piano arrangements of Radiohead songs. I looked him up in iTunes music store (the album is called something like True Love Waits: Christoper O'Riley Plays Radiohead) and contains covers of Fake Plastic Trees, Motion Picture Soundtrack, Thinking About You, Karma Police, to name a few. My hope is that these renditions do not sound like glorified elevator music.

Anyone who knows my taste in music would not be surprised by my enthusiasm for the Bloc Party track. A perfectly repetitive guitar riff plays in the background entertwined with an intermittent piano riff which highlights the primary melody of the song. The verses are simple, terse phrases sung with dreary, stereoized vocals.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Number of the week: 8

[17:34] jonfroehlichUW: 8 is sexily symmetrical
[17:34] jonfroehlichUW: both over horizontal and vertical axes
[17:34] sled212: and orthogonally infinite

Monday, May 16, 2005

Breathalyzer Cellphones

Engadget has news that LG just launched the LG 410 series whose form factor is modeled after a sports car design AND includes a built-in alcohol sensor. Which is more compelling? I do not know.

The University of Washington in collaboration with Intel Research, Seattle has been working with multi-sensor microboards for a while (e.g. 2x1x2 device that contains a temp gauge, barometer, microphone, light detector, infrared detector, accelerometers, etc.). I wonder what contextual information could be derived from the addition of an ambient alcohol sensor? How much alcohol vapor is resident in that local pub down the street anyway?


Sunday, May 15, 2005

Mixtape Challenge II (2005)

This year's mixtape challenge, Mixtape Challenge II (2005) - Curse of the Pirate Booty, included 28 submissions. By contrast, last year's mixtape challenge, Mixtape Challenge I (2004) - Songs in the Key of CSE, received 14 submissions (though I should note that only 15 people were solicited for mixes, so a very good turnout). Not sure how many people Ferris contacted about the 2nd mixtape challenge as he, for whatever reason, took measures to protect potential participants (e. g. bcc on e-mails).

I have yet to listen to any of the submissions for Mixtape Challenge II, but here's a quick breakdown.

Our Lady Peace - 4am (2 submissions: Milind and Rachel)
Zero 7 - Destiny (2 submissions: Adrien and Rachel)
Chicane - Saltwater (2 submissions: Martin and Melanie)

The Decemberists (5 submissions)
Mike Doughty (5 submissions)
Black Eyed Peas (4 submissions)
Nickel Creek (4 submissions)
Old Crow Medicine Show (4 submissions)
Carla Bruni (3 submissions)
Interpol (3 submissions)
Kruger Brothers (3 submissions)
Modest Mouse (3 submissions)
The Postal Service (3 submissions)
Regina Spektor (3 submissions)
Tori Amos (3 submissions)
Yeah Yeah Yeahs (3 submissions)

And a crap load (14+) of artists w/2 submissions each.

This year's mixtape challenge also includes yet another hip-hop evangelist campaigning to "give hip-hop a chance." Here is an excerpt from his text file description:

I just thought I would take it upon myself to expose you people to more forms of hip-hop. The trash you hear on MTV just doesn't cut it for anyone, myself included, but too many people use this as an excuse to not listen to hip-hop at all. I've attempted (though, more than likely, failed miserably) to represent a wide range of underground hip-hop (many fused with other genres such as jazz and electronica) in an effort to deliver this fine form of art in a palatable manner.

I am sort of neutral on hip-hop. I don't dislike it as a genre but find that most of the music just doesn't jive with me. There are plenty of exceptions to this (e.g. Jay-Z, Kanye West, etc) yet these artists are arguably pop artists first and hip-hop artists second. The hip-hop music i like the most is strongly melodic filled with catchy hooks that underemphasize bass beats. I usually dislike the very organic, stripped down hip-hop sound -- that where the focus is simply the rhyme or the flow of voice -- i would just rather listen to something more compellingly musical (sounding).

Hip-hop evangelists are great though because (1) they see it as their duty to expose people to new music (not a bad objective and certainly one music snobs subscribe to in one form or another for their favorite genre of music) and (2) they either don't care or don't realize that hip-hop is the number one genre of music in America (overtaking Country on the billboard and sales charts a few years ago) - not necessarily a music form in the need of gospel. I realize in this particular case we are speaking of "underground" hip-hop and typically underground music is less accessible (almost experiemental by nature) than its pop counterparts so more power to him. I will indeed give this mix a chance and report back soon. In the meantime...

As the Perceptionists put it in Black Dialogue:

Yeah, it was written in the books of Europeans
we were savage
That our history was insignificant and minds below average
But how can one diminish the work
Of the most imitated culture on this earth
Fast foward to 2000 and now
You see it everywhere you look, speech, music, fasion and style
It's black dialogue

Friday, May 13, 2005

The Brunettes

Saw the Brunettes in concert tonight (they opened for the Shins). Thought I would buy their new album in iTunes when I got back -- but that was presuming iTunes Music Store actually carried an indie New Zealand band. I gather this was a bad presumption because a search for "Brunettes" returns only three tracks in iTunes, none of which are related to this particular band.

So, fall back plan is amazon.com's music store (of course)! I search for Brunettes once again and, yep, you guessed it amazon.com barely carries the Brunettes -- I say barely carries because they only have an import album (for $29.49 no less -- but the album qualifies for free shipping, wee!). Here's the link in case you're fond of pricey import albums (i'm not).

So either the Brunettes have no stateside album releases or my two main music sources have failed me. Must I now be forced to try msn's online music store? The horror.

I will say this, in the age of the internet I think it's best to pick a name that's very unique yet easily spellable. I have trouble with the word Brunettes for some reason (is there two n's? is there two t's? are there both two n's and two t's? is there one n and two t's? etc.) Of course, it's not nearly as hard to spell as the band Desapareicidos. And no I did not have to look that word up -- this time.

Dim Future for CS Research in US?

On May 12, 2005 computing researchers met with a congressional panel about impending funding cuts in technology-related research. The primary concern is that broad long-term computer research is being shortchanged in lieu of more narrow, targeted research. Much of this debate has been spurned on by DARPA's recent withdrawal from supporting university-based computer research.

The Computing Research Policy Blog has the CRA's press release, here are some highlights.

"The impact of IT research on enabling of innovation resonates far beyond just the IT sector," said James D. Foley, Chair of CRA and professor of computer science at Georgia Institute of Technology. "IT has played an essential - many argue the essential - role in the economic growth of the US in the past 20 years. In fact, the seeds of this economic growth are in the fundamental discoveries, most of which are pre-competitive and occur in the nation's universities and research laboratories," said Foley.

Congressional members seemed to agree that the US cannot afford to make compromises that would sacrifice our position as technology leaders/innovators.

Rep. Lincoln Davis (D-TN), the panel's ranking Democrat, agreed. "We cannot afford to squander our technological edge in a field that will only grow in importance."

(link to CRA Policy blog)

Archiving by Categories

I wish there was an easy way to have an archive listing by blog post category in Blogger -- apparently there is not. Found this on How to Blog comparing TypePad to Blogger:

Archiving of Posts
With Blogger, you get one choice: no archive, daily, weekly, OR monthly.
With TypePad, you can choose any of the above AND you also can archive by Category.
Winner - TypePad


Update 09/24/2006 @ 9:58AM: Blogger beta now allows archiving of posts by label/category (i.e., tagging) and by date

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Movie Editing Frustrations

I have never been so frustrated with my computer. The past two or three weeks has been a constant battle to try and edit a video for a friend. I've used Adobe Premiere 6.0, Premiere Pro 1.0, and Pinnacle Studio Pro all in vain. It's one of those things where you think you'll fix the issue in another 20 minutes, then another hour, then by the end of the day, then by the end of the week, then you want to kill your computer. I'm sure you all empathize greatly.

Background: friend sends me a DVD formatted for DVD players (e.g. .VOB files) rather than a data DVD (this would be analagous to the difference between a music CD-R that plays in any cd player and a data CD-r that only plays on a computer, he sent me the former). So, this means that I need to rip the DVD just to get at the data I want (the video). Of course, this video was originally in VHS format so when my friend digitized it he had the option of making a data DVD (he just chose not to, so he chose wrong). I used dvddecrypt to rip the DVD (it sounds all very illegal, but remember these are fricking home videos). DVDDecrypter ripped it to MPEG-2 and seemed to do a fine job, e.g. the MPEG-2 videos look comparable to the original DVD video (of course, since the original was VHS, that's not saying much) and the video plays back fine in Windows Media Player and Winamp.

Problem: I load these converted MPEG-2 videos into my video editing program. I notice immediately that the monitor window in Premiere plays the video fine but as soon as I add the video to the timeline view, the sequence window playback is horrible -- choppy, audio is not aligned to video, etc. I check on google about this and it seems that this is at least halfway normal. The sequence window shows a rendering of the video while the monitor window shows the original. OK, so I try a simple splice and edit on like a 30 second clip. I export it first into the default AVI format in Premiere. I load the AVI up into Windows Media Player and there are three problems: (1) video and audio are not synced -- the lag is inconsistent so it is not just a matter of moving the audio timeline to sync with the video; (2) video skips and replays portions over again (e.g. think cat sequence in original Matrix; (3) video is choppy.

At this point I think, OK, weird -- perhaps an issue with the export encoder. I setup like over 50 experiments this weekend to get to the bottom of this but to no avail. I try things like converting the MPEG-2 files into a different format before loading them into premiere (no dice), I try using 11 different encoders to export short 30 second edited sequence (no dice), I try using Adobe Media Encoders (separate file menu from normal export menu) (no dice), I try an old version of Adobe Premiere (6.0) (no dice), I try Pinnacle Studio Pro (no dice), I try Windows Movie Maker -- Aha! This seems to work. The Microsoft Paint of movie editing programs seems to work. Why is this? Argh. Frustration. However, Windows Movie Maker isn't much help because (1) it forces you to render things in .wmv format (i wonder why?) and (2) it is the Microsoft Paint of movie editing programs (e.g. no functionality!).

And only 2 weeks until deadline. Why me?

3/5s of My Clever Girlfriend

My girlfriend takes her 3rd law final today at 2PM EDT. She will do well of course because she is clever. She only has 2 more to go.

Secondly, I am massively upset at both Adobe Premiere 6.0 and Adobe Premiere Pro 1.0. They have literally wasted two consecutive weekends of mine. Can you say incredibly opaque interface coupled with extremely unresponsive movie previewing makes for frustrating times (note i have a 2.53 Ghz P4 with 1 gb of RAM). I also tried Pinnacle's Studio Pro -- of course this software could not (a) read .wmv files (b) export my MPEG2 video correctly.

Thirdly, I am trying a new brand of contacts today. My old brand is no longer manufactured.

Fourthly, I updated my links on the right sidebar. You should try Educate Me, it's edutaining!

Lastly, I find it ironic that the cliques, power structures, and other social dynamics found in high schools across America can also be found in faculty circles on campuses across America. Ask me if I know where the pompous elitists hang out who seem to take humor in the intellectual deprecation of others and I will simply point you to the sixth floor of my building. It's unfortunate that obtaining a PhD does not involve achieving any level of respectable moral or social principles (though I would settle for much less). I have another post brewing about this in my head that I will save for later. If you're lucky, that post will sound even more jaded.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Make Believe Drops Today

Weezer's fifth album Make Believe drops today. It is getting taken through the proverbial cleaners by critics. Weezer was my all-time favorite band during high school. Everyone has one. I had Weezer. I shamelessly still had a giant Weezer poster in my bedroom up until the Spring of this year. The same poster that adorned every wall of every bedroom I've had since high school (let's see, that's probably 8 places).

Here are a few of my favorite quotes from Rob Mitchum's review on pitchforkmedia.com. Disclaimer: I have yet to listen to this album but much of what he says could apply to Weezer's last album, Maladriot, anyway which to me was a collection of b-sides off of the Green Album trying to prove both that Rivers could play guitar and that he could write songs where the guitar solos weren't just rehashes of the chorus melody (read: exact copy). It was dismal. And, let's be honest, the Green Album wasn't that much better.

There are two distinct groups of bad albums. The more prevalent kind is the fodder that fills a critic's mailbox, bands with awkward names and laser-printed cover art that don't inspire ire so much as pity. The second group is more treacherous: Bands that yield high expectations due to past achievements, yet, for one reason or another, wipe out like "The Wide World of Sports"' agony-of-defeat skier... Sometimes an album is just awful. Make Believe is one of those albums.

Weezer have been given a lot of breaks in their second era-- both The Green Album and Maladroit were cut miles of slack despite consisting of little more than slightly above-average power-pop. The obvious reason for this lenience has to do with the mean age of rock critics, and the fact that most of these mid-20s scribes were at their absolute peak for bias-forming melodrama when The Blue Album and Pinkerton were released.

Hearing a song like "We Are All on Drugs", which nicks the classic melody of the schoolyard "Diarrhea" song (you know, "when you're sliding into first..." and so on) for an anti-drug message stiffer than Nancy Reagan's "Diff'rent Strokes" cameo, it calls into question whether The Blue Album was really that great, or whether it just stood out as a rare beacon of guitar pop in a grunge-obsessed era.

The one half-decent song on the record, "This Is Such a Pity", fails to even maintain its status as a pleasant Cars homage, interjecting a guitar solo that sounds like it was cut from the original score to Top Gun.

And the absolute best...

So does Make Believe completely ruin not just present-day Weezer, but retroactively, any enjoyment to be had from their earlier work? I don't know-- I'm too scared to re-listen to those first two albums-- but it certainly appears that Make Believe will expertly extract the last remaining good graces the critical community has to offer latter-day Weezer, unless my colleagues' memories of slow-dancing with Ashley to "Say It Ain't So" are more powerful than I can possibly imagine. Of course, if Ashley went on to break your heart, fellow critic, Make Believe might be just the medicine you need; put it on repeat and watch your emotional scar be obliterated as collateral damage in the torpedoing of Weezer's legacy.

Touche my dear critic. Touche!

Monday, May 09, 2005

Yunnie Irony

I left Irvine1, CA for Seattle,WA only to develop a new found fondness for bubble tea.

1With a growing Chinese American population, the press, such as the Orange County edition of the Los Angeles Times, have considered Irvine to be "a [suburban] Chinatown in the making" and "becoming Orange County's Chinatown". (from wikipedia)

Shape of the Day

Sunday, May 08, 2005

It's 7:37PM and...

I am still in my pajamas and I have only Adobe Premiere Pro 1.0 to blame. I could not get that POS software to render my movie clips correctly. I am now downloading Pinnacle Studio Plus v9 in hopes that it will save me further misery.

extremely frustrated

Friday, May 06, 2005

Yahoo API vs. Google API

Yahoo! API exposes:

Google API exposes:

  • Google's main web index

Note that Yahoo! has taken a much more liberal approach in opening up more facets of their search engine. Based on the following, it's easy to ascertain that Yahoo is really looking to support developers here (perhaps in hopes of motivating developers to use their services over Google). I'm not sure if MSN search has an open API yet. Some other differences I observed while comparing their FAQs are below: Google is in blue while Yahoo! is in red.

Communication Implementation

How does the Google Web APIs service work?
Developers write software programs that connect remotely to the Google Web APIs service. Communication is performed via the Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP), an XML-based mechanism for exchanging typed information.

Q: Why is Yahoo! using REST?
Our goal is to make Yahoo! Search Web Services available to as many developers as possible. REST based services are easy to understand and accessible from most modern programming languages. In fact, you can get a fair amount done with only a browser and your favorite scripting language.

Q: Does Yahoo! plan to support SOAP?
Not at this time. We may provide SOAP interfaces in the future, if there is significant demand. We believe REST has a lower barrier to entry, is easier to use than SOAP, and is entirely sufficient for these services.

Access Authentication

How do I get access to the Google Web APIs service?
You must first agree to the terms and conditions of the Google Web APIs service and create a Google Account. Google will then email you a license key to use with your Google Web APIs applications. Every time you make a call to the Google Web APIs service, you must include your license key.

Can I create more than one Google Account to get multiple license keys?
No. The terms and conditions you agree to restrict you one account for your personal use. Users who attempt to create more than one account are subject to being banned from the Google Web APIs service.

Q: Do I need a developer token to access Yahoo! API's?
No. Yahoo! Search Web Services use an application ID, not a developer ID.We require an Application ID to be sent with each request. This ID identifies your application, not you, the developer.Application IDs are not used to limit access to the services. Access is rate limited based on the caller's IP address. Each service may have a different access rate limit, and if you exceed that rate, you won't be able to use it for a set amount of time. The documentation for each service lists its rate limit.Best of all you can distribute your great Yahoo! Web Service-powered applications to all of your friends. So long as they're accessing Yahoo! Search Web Services from a different IP, their use will not detract from your limit. If they abuse the service from their computer, your access will not be affected.

Q: What is an Application ID?
An Application ID is a string that uniquely identifies your application. Think of it as like a User-Agent string. If you have multiple applications, you should use a different ID for each one. You can register your ID and make sure nobody is already using your ID on our Application ID registration page.

Rate Limits

How many queries can I issue from my computer programs?
Google provides each developer who registers to use the Google Web APIs service a limit of 1,000 queries per day.

Why is the daily limit only 1,000 queries?
The Google Web APIs service is an experimental free program, so the resources available to support the program are limited.

What if I want to pay Google for the ability to issue more than 1,000 queries per day?
Google is only offering the free beta service at this time. If you would like to see Google develop a commercial service, let us know at api-support@google.com.

Q: What are the limits on how much I can use Yahoo! Search Web Services?
Each service may have different rate limits. See the documentation for each service for more information. (As an aside, the image search has a limit of 5,000 queries per day per ip per application ID!)

Q: How will I know when I hit a limit?
When a rate limit has been exceeded, the HTTP request will receive an error code of 403; along with a standard XML error response. See our rate limiting documentation for details.

Results Per Query

Is there a limit on the number of results I can receive per query?
Yes. You can retrieve a maximum of 10 results per query, and you cannot access information beyond the 1000th result for any given query.

Q: What is the limit on the number of search results I can receive per query?
Each service may have different limits on the number of results you can receive. The documentation for that service will specify the default number and maximum number you can receive. Most services are limited to 50 results per query. Local Search is limited to 20 results per query.

Tracking Usage

How can I track the number of queries I have submitted each day?
Developers need to perform their own tracking of their daily usage.

Q: How can I track the number of queries I have submitted?
If you're a developer, please keep track in your code. Also, consider exposing the counts to the users of your application so they'll have a way to track their usage as well.

Q: How can I track the usage of my applications?
You can get daily usage reports for each of your Application IDs.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Pirate Intervention

Found this on boingboing:

A clan of World of Warcraft players are really, really into role-playing as pirates. They hang around, talking like pirates and attacking other players (PvPing -- player vs. player). This attracted one of the Warcraft game-monitors who came by to tell them off, but rather than act chastened, they stayed in character and yarred and ho-harred and so forthed the monitor. The transcript of the event is unbelievably funny.

Here is a direct link to the script (as a jpg no less).

For those not in the know, World of Warcraft is a MOM -- Massive Online Multiplayer -- game (like Everquest) where you embody some virtual avatar in a virtual world and basically do whatever you want (I suppose like Grand Theft Auto but in an online social space with real people). In this case, the world is themed after Warcraft. These gentlemen (and perhaps gentlewomen though I wouldn't bet on it) have chosen to band together as pirates.

Favorite interactions:

Moderator: Ladies and Gentlemen, what you are doing goes against the policies we have set forth
Arnie: What that be?
Maj: Har
Koltas: What policy ye be speakin of lass

Moderator: It would not be wise to spit on a moderator...
Saleen spits on moderator
Koltas spits on moderator
Galexious spits on moderator
Slak spits on moderator
Nebulis spits on moderator
Arnie: It's a pirate sign o'respect

Perhaps this moderator (or "wench" as the case may be) will think twice before approaching this band o'pirates again.

iPod Froze, What to do...

My iPod froze while walking to UW today. Thoughts of Cassandra's problems with her third generation iPod immediately entered my head. For Christmas 2003 I gave her a 3rd generation 20gb iPod that, I swear, was infested by a mischievous Chimera -- luckily the Apple Store took it back and replaced it on the spot ~3 months later. I found this link on Apple's website that has step by step instructions on how to recover from a frozen iPod.

For 4th generation iPods and minis :

1. Toggle the Hold switch on and off. (Slide it to Hold, then turn it off again.)
2. Press and hold the Menu and Select buttons until the Apple logo appears, about 6 to 10 seconds. You may need to repeat this step.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Third Eye Blind

One of my favorite bands in high school (err, I could say college here to sound younger but it would be skewing the truth) was Third Eye Blind. Radiohead, Weezer, and Third Eye Blind was my lil musical trio. Radiohead would probably shit to hear that they kept such company (but oh well). Now I digress into this digression.

Gf asked me to "sing Motorcycle Driveby" for her tonight as a goodnight luckcharm lullaby -- tomorrow brings the first of many (5) law school finals. That simple utterance alone assures me that she will rock her exams. So, let's talk about 3eb for a second. They deserve more but it's all I can spare.

So, the eponymous debut by Third Eye Blind circa 1997 is one of God's great gifts to hyper-emotional adolescence. Screw all you music snobs who never listened to them because they charted early and often -- a staple on modern rock radio and pop radio in 1997 (from Graduate, to Semi-Charmed Life, to Hows It Gonna Be, to Jumper). They have two songs on this album that I would list in my top twenty favorite songs of all time (no easy feat if I may say so): track 2, Narcolepsy and, particularly, track 13, the aforementioned Motorcycle Driveby.

In fact, if we dig a little deeper into this album, we can point out the tracks that are pure bliss:

Track 01: Losing a Whole Year
Track 02: Narcolepsy
Track 03: Semi-Charmed Life
Track 04: Jumper
Track 05: Graduate (less so, but still good)
Track 06: How's it Going to Be
Track 12: The Background
Track 13: Motorcycle Drive By
Track 14: God Of Wine

So, that would be Tracks 1-6, 12-14 that rule. The tracks from 7-11 are, at best, average and some, like London, are horrendously crappy. Now I am not trying to implicate any convenience stores here but unfortunately for Third Eye Blind they decided to pursue a career of 7-11s rather than 1-6s. Bastards. They could've been somethin'. A cynic would say "mediocrity is inescapable, it was bound to happen" -- i know because i am a cynic -- Stephan Jenkins would say "i never thought of it that way" -- i know because i have a recording of him saying just that. I do.

Argh, inTune & Google Web API

inTune currently uses amazon.com's (very cool) web api to find links to cover art for music files. However, in the case when no cover art exists (most likely because amazon.com does not sell any albums by the given artist) I wanted to use Google's API as a backup. Ah, yes, sounds like a reasonable plan BUT that's assuming Google's API actually exposes their image search functionality. It does not! So, I probably will not support Google in inTune's initial release.

I guess I could, of course, build a scraper that simply appends the artist and/or album onto the end of 'http://images.google.com/images?q=' and grabs the first image that pops up.

But I don't feel like it.

Update (10:42PM May 3, 2005): Fine! So, I have been obsessing over actually using Google's image search. I'm sorry. I'm coding and thinking at the same time (yes, that actually happens sometimes). I typed in "scraping images.google" into Google and, shameslessly, Google answered my call. The first result was Mr. Dan Fernandez who is also Mr. Visual C# Product Manager and in promoting said language hacked together an images.google.com scraper. Ack. I just noticed that this is for VS2005 which I don't have and is also for Visual C# Express. (link)

Update (9:36PM May 6, 2005): OK. Google does not expose their image search capabilities in their API, but yahoo does. I might still write a Google image scraper (for curiosity's sake) but I'd rather not spend too much time on it given that (1) it's questionably legal and (2) harder to maintain given that you're dependent on the format of the webpage.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Mobile Movielens

Movielens is a personalized movie recommendation site run by the Grouplens research team at the University of Minnesota. I've known about the site for a while but only recently started using it. So far I've been impressed.

Ideally though, I would like the following technology to exist. My girlfriend and I walk into Blockbuster and assume our regular routine of scouring the DVD racks looking for movies that we remember we should see. We might pick up a DVD, read the back of the movie box and keep it in our hands just in case we decide on it. I would like to be able to use my cell phone to take a picture of the front cover (or perhaps the DVD bar code) and query Movielens right there in Blockbuster. Movielens would then automatically take into account that I am with my girlfriend (because we both have bluetooth enabled cell phones) and tell me whether this is a movie we would both enjoy (e.g. "Yes, based on your mutual preferences, Hotel Rwanda is a 4.5"). Movielens could also return the imdb.com ranking along with the rottentomatoes.com ranking to provide a bit more context to their personalized rating.

Update: [9:42 05/04/2005] So, since I made this post (3 long days ago), I found three papers that nearly address my above scenario: PocketLens - Toward a Personal Recommender System by Bradley Miller, et. al., MovieLens Unplugged - Experiences with a Recommender System on Four Mobile Devices by Bradley Miller, et. al., PolyLens: A Recommender System for Groups of Users by Mark O'Connor, et. al. All of these papers can be found at the University of Minnesota Grouplens site.